Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Daily Dose: July 2, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, your daily update of all the news and information affecting your freedom!

Starting at the White House...

White House Releases 2011 Salary Report to Congress
The White House has released its annual report to Congress listing the salaries of its staff. The total pay for all staff amounts to $37 Million. If President Obama wants to keep his campaign promise to go "line-by-line" through the budget, he can start on this list. The average salary for all staff members is over $81,000 (compare to the average salary in the public sector of just over $50,000). Outside of three staff members who are listed with no salary, the smallest salary paid to any staff member is $41,000. You can view the full salary report here.

Moving to Wisconsin...

Firefighters Union Blocks Tribute to 9/11 Firefighters
A lieutenant in the Racine, WI fire department has had his plans for a 9/11 memorial float stopped by the firefighters union in a dispute over union membership. The lieutenant, Matt Gorniak, recently used a provision in the state's labor laws to remove himself from union membership. However, the union seems to have responded by refusing to support his plans for the memorial float. This union decision shows how ridiculous the unions have become, placing a "get even" move in front of honoring their fallen comrades. You can read more about this story here.

And coming to a town near you...

Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Females, etc. Need Not Apply for Scholarship
The Former Majority Association for Equality has hit the road to award $500 scholarships to deserving college students who fit a particular race and gender category: White Male. Three of the five scholarship winners have already been announced, and two more will be awarded in the coming days. This is a project not to promote white supremacy, but to promote equality. Since women, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and other groups all have their own scholarships, why not white men? You can find out more about the FMAFE here.

Finally...

Since The Daily Dose does not normally post on Sundays, this will be the last post before the holiday. I hope everyone has a great Independence Day celebrating the 235th birthday of our great nation!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Daily Dose: July 1, 2011

It's time for the first Daily Dose of July!

Tonight's update will start in Greece...

Greece Keeps Gaza Flotilla From Departing
The Gaza flotilla has been delayed once again; this time by the nation of Greece. Those behind the flotilla say that they want to deliver aid to Palestinian territory currently under a blockade by Israeli ships. A similar flotilla last year resulted in an Israeli raid that killed nine activists. You can read more here.

Moving back home...

Many Americans Don't Know Year of American Independence
According to a new Marist Poll, only 58% of Americans know the year that America declared its independence and only 76% can say that America declared its independence from Great Britain. The younger generation was the most likely to give incorrect answers, with only 31% answering 1776 and 67% answering Great Britain. The poll also found a gender gap. You can read more about the poll results here.

And in Michigan...

Michigan Affirmative Action Ban Ruled Unconstitutional
A 2006 amendment to the Michigan state constitution has been found unconstitutional by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. This amendment, which barred consideration of race and gender in college admissions, was determined to be in violation of the 14th amendment. The ACLU, which helped challenge the amendment, stated that the ruling "has kept the door open for thousands of academically qualified students of color to continue to pursue the American dream through our state's colleges and universities." However, if they are academically qualified, why do they need consideration of race or gender? Doesn't this help unqualified people in certain groups get into college ahead of more qualified people? You can read more on the decision here.

And in news from the Capitol...

Republican Freshman Ask House to Block Recess Appointments
Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA) has asked the House of Representatives to block any attempt by President Obama to make recess appointments for the remainder of his first term. A President can make a recess appointment when the Senate is not in session to provide "advice and consent" as required by the Constitution. By staying in session and refusing to approve an adjournment resolution for the Senate, the House can keep the President from making recess appointments. I commend these representatives for standing up to the President. You can read more here.

That's all for The Daily Dose tonight. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest news affecting your freedom!

The Myth of the Social Security Trust Fund

This article is the third in the "State of America's Finances" series. You can view the first two articles here: Part 1 and Part 2.

If you start a discussion about the future of Social Security, you can be sure that someone will mention the Social Security Trust Fund. This fund is the supposed “lockbox” that holds the taxes paid in until the funds are needed to pay benefits. The idea is that when taxes received exceed benefits paid, money is deposited into the trust fund. That money can then be saved for a time when benefits paid exceed taxes received. By using the Social Security Administration's website, we can see what is contained within this “lockbox.”

Money that comes into the fund is invested into US Government securities. Since these “special issue” securites can be redeemed at any time, it gives the Social Security Administration the ability to invest all money in the trust fund as required by law, but it can still redeem these securities when needed to pay benefits. These securities are backed “by the full faith and credit of the US Government.”

The problem is that the money from these securities is not held by the Treasury, but it is instead used to pay other bills. The SSA's own website states, “The cash exchanged for the securities goes into the general fund of the Treasury and is indistinguishable from other cash in the general fund.” Provided that the government continues to pay its obligations, everything runs smoothly.

However, there are two problems with this system. First, the government gets extra money that it can spend during years of surplus, but the government will be forced to slow down spending or raise revenue when the taxes collected no longer pay all the benefits. As the amount of benefits begins to reach the tax revenue collected, the Treasury will have less available to pay other bills. This will force politicians into either cutting spending, raising taxes, or borrowing even more money from outside sources in order to have the cash to pay all bills. Since the Treasury has borrowed the money in the trust fund in order to pay items that should be paid with our federal withholding dollars, it will one day have to use federal withholding dollars in order to pay back the trust fund it borrowed from.

Second, what happens if the Treasury becomes unable to pay its obligations? Some people say that would never happen, yet the talk around Washington is that a default is imminent if we do not raise the debt ceiling. Should the government default, the trust fund's investments could lose their value or become worthless.

To put it simply, the government has forced everyone to contribute to a ponzi scheme to finance the government's operations. However, just like every ponzi scheme, the success of this system lies in more people contributing to the system than taking money out of it. When benefits paid start to exceed tax revenues, the scheme starts to collapse. Unless the government can cut spending, it will be forced to raise taxes even higher or take on even more debt in order to cover the extra payments to the Social Security system. If we do nothing, we will not have a trust fund, but a “distrust” fund.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 30, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, your nightly post covering all the stories affecting your freedom.

Starting in Indiana...

Indiana Removes Cursive from Writing Requirements
Indiana has removed a requirement from their curriculum requiring the teaching of cursive in public schools. While the ability to read and write cursive has become almost unnecessary due to computers, there are still elements that are necessary in society. Are we going to start printing our name on a check or contract? I can understand Indiana's interest in moving on to other skills the state may view as more important overall, but a basic ability to write in cursive should still be taught. You can read more here.

Meanwhile, in Egypt...

Clinton States US is Reaching Out to Muslim Brotherhood
The United States is reaching out to the Muslim Brotherhood in advance of the upcoming elections in Egypt. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that this is a "limited" effort to build ties with Egyptian groups involved in the elections. However, this is a move that could alienate our closest ally, Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood has birthed the terrorist group Hamas, and some of its leaders have expressed hostility towards Israel. You can read more here.

And back home...

CNBC Study Says Right-to-Work States Have Better Workforces
CNBC recently published a study ranking the states in several categories, including workforces. RedState points out that the 22 right-to-work states are all in the top 25. Colorado (7th), Delaware (19th), and Kentucky (22nd) are the only forced union states to make the top 25. RedState does grant that this could be a coincidence, but it is definitely something for states to consider. You can see the CNBC results here, and the RedState analysis here.

Finally...

Tomorrow on the Defense of Freedom Blog, an article on the Social Security Trust Fund. Does the fund live up to its name? Be sure to check back tomorrow!

That's all for The Daily Dose tonight. Be sure to check back for the Friday article and The Daily Dose tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 29, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, a nightly wrap-up of all the news and events affecting your freedom.

We'll start tonight in the United Kingdom...

U.K. Unions Plan Mass Protest Thursday
750,000 union workers are planning a mass protest Thursday to oppose the government's austerity measures. The unions are claiming that this will be the start of a massive campaign of labor action. If this were limited to Britain, it would not make this site. However, we saw this on a limited scale in Wisconsin already, and it could spread if the federal government and other states do not get spending under control. You can read more here.

Moving to New York...

NY Teachers Union Opposes Evaluations Based on Student Test Scores
The New York State United Teachers union is suing to stop implementation of a new provision allowing increased weight of student test scores in evaluations. The law also allows districts to fire teachers whose students consistently score low on standardized tests. As a recent graduate with a degree in education, I actually side with the union on the majority of issues in this case. There is much more to teacher performance than student scores on a standardized test. Thinking back to my own school days, I remember students who would fill in circles randomly in order to get through the tests more quickly. Just because a teacher happened to have a few more of those students does not mean that teacher should receive a poor evaluation that year. Teacher performance should be based on administration observing the teacher's lessons in the classroom more than the scores on a single test. However, a teacher's students continually score low, then the problem lies with the teacher more than the students, and firing that teacher should be an option for the district. You can read more from the Wall Street Journal here.

And in Cincinnati...

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Health Care Law
A three-judge panel from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the "individual mandate" portion of the new health care law. This is the first ruling from an appeals court on the bill. With rulings both for and against this law in district courts across the country, this issue certainly appears to be destined for the Supreme Court. You can read more on the 6th Circuit ruling here.

Finally...

One comment on an otherwise unimportant story. Football player Terrell Owens is being sued for not paying his $5000/month child support. I understand that Owens makes millions playing football, and that he might actually have hundreds of thousands left after he pays his taxes to the government. However, this lady is making almost $10,000 more than the average household income ($50,233) in tax-free child support for one child. We live in a crazy society when a person can make more money by either having a child out of wedlock or divorcing her husband (I could find no direct answer regarding which applies in this case) than the average American makes by working a job.

That's The Daily Dose for today. Be sure to check back for all the latest news and analysis!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 28, 2011

Welcome to The Daily Dose, a daily round-up of the news affecting your freedom.

Tonight's update will start from the White House...or is it the White House...

Did Obama Campaign Film Announcement in White House?
President Obama released a video this week announcing that his “Dinner with Barack” would now be “Dinner with Barack and Joe.” However, questions are now surfacing regarding the location where the announcement was filmed. The location looks very similar to a speech Obama also filmed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Notice even the lamp in the background appears to be the same. Federal law prohibits soliciting donations in any room where government business is conducted. While the video does not specifically solicit donations, it does direct people to a website where donations are solicited. Just like the Libya conflict, we see that our President is doing everything he can to skirt around the law without blatantly violating it. Three links: Obama campaign announcement, the Berlin Wall video that appears to be in the same location, and 18 U.S.C. §607, the relevant law.

And elsewhere in Washington...

Democratic Senators To Use 14th Amendment to Contest Debt Ceiling
Unless a compromise is reached, America has just over one months before its debt reaches the 14.29 trillion dollar ceiling set by lawmakers in January 2010. However, Democratic senators are now attempting to use a clause in the fourteenth amendment to prevent America from defaulting on its debt. The clause reads, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” It is ironic that Democrats have passed bailout bills, stimulus bills, and a health care bill that are nowhere authorized by the constitution, but now the constitution is important since it may support their opinions. Furthermore, not raising the debt ceiling does not mean America has to default. All we have to do is get our spending, including payments on the debt, under revenue. Saying America has to default without a debt ceiling increase is like a family saying their home went into foreclosure because they could not get another credit card to pay for their daily dinner at the five-star restaurant downtown. You can read the article from the Huffington Post here.

Moving to Michigan...

Michigan Towns Receive Single Ruler
RT has an article discussing the takeover of towns by a single appointed person. This person, known as an Emergency Financial Manger, or EFM. [Note: The RT article says EMF, even thought the actual acronym should be EFM. Using other sites, EFM was verified as the correct acronym.] These people have the authority to void contracts, close schools, fire elected officials, and sell property in order to keep the town's finances afloat. In the town of Benton Harbor, the appointed EFM stripped the City Counsel of all powers. At least four other cities, including Detroit, also have an emergency manager. America fought for freedom from a single, unelected ruler, but now, we are appointing them to positions. How long will it be before the federal government's finances are so bad that an EFM will have be appointed to solve the crisis? If we continue down our current path, then we will may see this event soon. You can read RT's article here.

And in the state of Texas...

Texas Legislature Approves Anti-Groping Bill
In an attempt to limit the powers of the TSA, Texas lawmakers approved a bill that would make inappropriate touching during a security pat-down a criminal offense. Supporters of the bill say that it would send a warning to TSA officials to make sure that they keep their hands off the public. Some opponents of the bill say that it inhibits necessary security measures, but others say that the “reasonable suspicion” clause will give security officials a defense. I commend Texas for standing up against government intrusion in our lives. Although I am concerned that the bill does not go far enough, it must be crafted in a way that will survive court scrutiny. You can read more about the legislation here.

That's The Daily Dose for tonight. Be sure to check back tomorrow for all the latest news affecting your freedom.

The Battle for Freedom

You can tell how important something is to a person by the price they are willing to pay for it. When you see someone traveling down the street in a high-priced luxury or sports car, you know that person views their car as important. When a person purchases or builds a large house, you know that the house is an important part of that person's life. On a smaller scale, even product choices explain our priorities. For example, I choose a higher-priced brand of shampoo because I prefer that brand over the other brands I have used. I choose to pay a higher price because the brand is important.

Throughout history, each generation of Americans has had to stand and pay the price to defend freedom. In order to win its freedom, America had to fight to repel the world's largest empire. While this war certainly caused division at the time, it unified America's spirit upon its victory over the British. However, it was only 30 years later when Americans had to again defend their freedom against encroachments from the British in Canada. The next generation of Americans were called upon to defend freedom.

It would take only another 30 years before America found itself fighting Mexico in the Mexican-American War. While this conflict was comparatively easy for America to win, it would only be 15 years before the Civil War began at Fort Sumter. While there is no disagreement that this war created great divisions in the country, it is also true that both sides viewed the war as a defense of freedom. The Confederacy was fighting for the freedom to leave the union; the Union was fighting for freedom of the enslaved people. Once again, another generation was being forced to defend freedom.

America enjoyed a period of relative peace between the Civil War and World War I. The Spanish-American War was fought in 1898, but it lasted less than five months. However, just over 50 years after the Civil War, American troops joined the Alliance in Europe. While this war did not represent an immediate threat to America's freedom, several of the reasons for entering the war showed that the Central Powers could one day threaten America. Another generation was sent to war to defend America's freedom.

Then, on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. Less than 25 years after the end of World War I, America found itself involved in World War II. The country united, and once again, America had to defend its freedom. Following World War II, America entered the Cold War era. Although this was not an actual war, America found its freedom constantly under threat for years. At least two generations of post-World War II Americans had to be recruited in order to be prepared to defend freedom.

However, something happened at the end of the Cold War: America found itself without any major threats. The younger American generation has not had to face the threat to freedom that other generations have had to face. America certainly does still have threats, but there is no nation that can rival America's military power. Since America's enemies know they cannot defeat us in a war, they rely on using smaller surprise attacks, such as the attacks of September 11. We have fought wars to avenge a wrong (Operation Enduring Freedom) and to protect the freedom of others (such as the wars in Iraq and Libya), but since the fall of communism in Russia, we have not had to fight a war that directly impacted our freedom.

Americans under 40 today have little remembrance of the threat of communism. 35-year-olds were only one year old when Reagan cried the famous words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” They were only five when the Soviet Union collapsed. Although these 30 to 40 year olds may remember the fall of communism, they do not remember the threat of communism. It is only the older generation that remembers the threat of the Cold War.

Since the younger generation of Americans have not had to pay the price for freedom, we are now seeing the devaluation of our freedom. Americans are surrendering their freedom from unwarranted searches to the TSA. Americans are surrendering their right to freedom of speech to the idea of being “politically correct.” Americans are surrendering their right to bear arms to a faction that believes that banning weapons will automatically cause all guns to disappear. Americans are surrendering their right to freedom of religion to atheists who are attempting to force their lack of belief on everyone. This site, among many others, has chronicled the losses of freedom that are taking place on a daily basis.

America is currently headed down a slippery slope. If we do not speak up and fight the battle against our freedoms with words, then we are headed for a time when American will no longer have freedom. If we fail to speak up and lose our freedoms, the only way to reinstate our freedoms may require a second American revolution. Now is the time for Americans to speak out against the loss of freedom. If we wait much longer, it may be too late to speak.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Daily Dose: June 27, 2011

It's time for The Daily Dose, a daily update of all the news affecting your freedom!

We'll start with some news in the court system...

Critics Say Soros Attempting to Stack Courts
Critics of billionaire George Soros are now accusing him of attempting to stack the courts by giving money to organizations promoting the "merit selection" of judges. While selection on "merit" sounds like a good idea, the problem is in who will determine the merit. These merit systems are not selected by the people (like many state court judges), nor are they appointed by an executive (like Federal judges and some state judges); they are selected by fellow lawyers. This takes the selection process completely out of the government and gives it to a select group of citizens. You can read more about the Soros connection here.

Moving to Ohio...

Ohio Veteran Fighting to Fly Flag
An Army veteran in Macedeonia, Ohio, has become the latest person to be told by a homeowner association that he cannot erect a flagpole in order to fly the American flag. However, Ohio law prohibits deed restrictions or homeowner association restrictions on flag display, and it specifically mentions flagpoles. You can read the Ohio law here, and an article from The Blaze here.

And moving to the Supreme Court...

Supreme Court to Rule on Police Using GPS Without Warrant
The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear a case involving use of a secret GPS device placed on a car without a warrant. The Justice Department is claiming that this does not violate the fourth amendment's unreasonable search and seizure provision. If GPS tracking without a warrant is allowed, then it will be another freedom being taken from Americans. The GPS is a log of where I have been, and a warrant should be required in order for the government to gain this information. You can read a short article here.

Finally...

The Tuesday article on the Defense of Freedom Blog will look at history as a way to understand why so few Americans are concerned with the loss of freedom today. Be sure to check back tomorrow!

That's The Daily Dose for tonight. Be sure to come back tomorrow night for the latest update on all the news affecting your freedom.