Tonight's Crazy Story:
Oops! NCAA Can't Spell Name of Next Final Four City
After watching the NCAA advertising describing the increase in graduation rates and telling us that student-athletes are not "a bunch of dumb jocks", it is ironic that the NCAA misspelled the host city's name in advertising the 2013 Final Four.
Topic One: Good Intentions vs. the Constitution
Mark W. Hendrickson weighs in at Forbes: "All four of these justices are “progressives.” They believe in positive law, i.e., they want the federal government to do good things for people. The Founding Fathers believed in negative law; they wanted a government that would confine itself to protecting the people from bad things happening to them (e.g., aggression, foreign or domestic, against their God-given rights).
"The philosophy of negative law is the philosophy of limited government; the government’s few powers are enumerated in the Constitution. Contrariwise, positive law breeds Big Government and tends toward total government, because once the premise is accepted that the central government is supposed to improve the economic conditions of citizens, there is no logical stopping point.
"Once the notion is accepted that government should provide something for person A, then “fairness” dictates that government also must do something for persons B, C, D, et al. Furthermore, if government is responsible for supplying person A with, say, a job, then why not a nice place to live, free clothing, school tuition, health care, transportation, entertainment, ad infinitum?
"The Supreme Court justices who vote to overturn Obamacare will be more faithful to the Constitution than those who vote to sustain it for the simple reason that, under the enumerated powers and 10th Amendment to the Constitution, health care is properly left to the states and the people to address as they see fit. Undoubtedly, some critics will try to impugn their compassion for voting “against health care,” but such allegations are red herrings, designed to distract people from the sole issue on which the Court sits in judgment—not whether providing universal health insurance is economically prudent, politically popular, or medically effective, but simply whether it is constitutional."
Time for a Laugh:
"Dartmouth College, a fine institution, has named their medical school after Dr. Seuss. Because nothing is better than hearing your doctor say, "You don't have cancer on your nose, you don't have cancer on your toes."
Topic Two: The Arab Spring
Jonathan Tobin on the rise of the Islamists in Egypt: "How bad is the current political situation in Egypt? So bad, it appears, that the Obama administration actually believes it ought to throw its support behind the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop an even more radical Islamist from being elected to the presidency of the most populous Arab nation. That’s the predicament Washington faces after the Brotherhood broke its pledge not to field a candidate for Egypt’s presidency. But as much as the surge in popularity of the Salafi candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail may make a tilt toward the Brotherhood seem understandable, the situation illustrates the depths to which the administration’s Middle East cluelessness has sunk."
"Should the Brotherhood candidate for president succeed, it would create a dangerous situation in which this Islamist party would control both the executive and the parliament. This would place intolerable pressure on the army — which remains the sole force in the country that could act as a check on the Islamists — to back down and allow the Brotherhood untrammeled power.
"Washington seemingly has no problems with this happening as it has bought hook, line and sinker, the Brotherhood’s claims it is now ready to embrace peace with Israel, avoid persecution of Egypt’s Christian minority, and promote a free enterprise model for economic development. As Eric Trager writes for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s website, the Brotherhood’s “détente” with the army command, in which they had promised not to try and run roughshod over secularists or to take over the country, is now in tatters, as their drive for power goes into overdrive. There is also the possibility the Salafis will beat the Brotherhood candidate anyway, in which case the country would drift even farther to the extremes."
( As of Wednesday, April 4, 2012 )
Your share as a citizen: $49,986.11
Share per household: $136,714.55
Debt since Obama inauguration: $4,990,845,495,166
Topic Three: The Next Bubble
Martin Hutchinson explains why student loan debt will likely become the next bubble: "If government guarantees and bankruptcy exemption remain in place, the volume of student loans will continue soaring, as unscrupulous lenders provide them to naive students. That will cause the cost of college to continue rising in real terms as college administrators pad their sinecures. As with the subprime mortgage industry, an eventual crash is inevitable. But unlike subprime mortgage borrowers, student loan borrowers will be unable to start afresh after bankruptcy.
"The solution is to eliminate the two unwarranted subsidies to the student loan industry. Student loans must no longer be guaranteed by the government. And in bankruptcy, they must be treated like any other debt. The banks will scream, and student loans will be much more difficult to get.
"For most students, that will return them to choosing a cheaper institution and working their way through college, in the traditional way - some of them might choose more marketable degree courses, too. For the poor but brilliant, the Ivy League can continue providing full scholarships and the government can continue providing Pell grants - with their cost fully accounted for on-budget. College costs will drop back to 1970s levels in real terms, as overstuffed bureaucracies are eliminated. And for college administrators and student lending banks, life will get considerably harder - which is no bad thing. All bubbles eventually burst. This one will be no different."
Tweet of the Day:
Freedom Works (@FreedomWorks):
"Our security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction." -T. Jefferson #tcot
Topic Four: Israel's Environment
George Freidman on the stages of the Israeli conflict: "Israel is now entering its third strategic environment. The constant threat of state-on-state war defined the first, which lasted from the founding of the Jewish state until its peace treaty with Egypt. A secure periphery defined the second, which lasted until recently and focused on the Palestinian issue, Lebanon and the rise of radical Sunni Islamists. The rise of Iran as a regional power and the need to build international coalitions to contain it define the third.
"Israel's fundamental strategic problem is that its national security interests outstrip its national resources, whether industrial, geographic, demographic or economic. During the first phase, it was highly dependent on outside powers -- first the Soviet Union, then France and finally the United States -- in whose interest it was to provide material support to Israel. In the second phase, the threat lessened, leaving Israel relatively free to define its major issues, such as containing the Palestinians and attempting to pacify Lebanon. Its dependence on outside powers decreased, meaning it could disregard those powers from time to time. In the third phase, Israel's dependence on outside powers, particularly the United States, began increasing. With this increase, Israel's freedom for maneuver began declining."
Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"This gave me occasion to observe, that when Men are employ'd they are best contented. For on the Days they work'd they were good-natur'd and chearful; and with the consciousness of having done a good Days work they spent the Evenings jollily; but on the idle Days they were mutinous and quarrelsome, finding fault with their Pork, the Bread, etc. and in continual ill-humour."
Topic Five: The Uncivil Tax System
Jeff Jacoby on our annual ritual of preparing income tax returns: "Is it any wonder, then, that the paperwork, record-keeping, calculations, form-preparation, and filing procedures required to pay federal taxes have become one of the great soul-crushing time sinks in American life? Or that the National Taxpayer Advocate (the independent ombudsman within the IRS) declared flatly last year that "the most serious problem facing taxpayers – and the IRS – is the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code"? Or that the Tax Foundation concluded in 2005 that income-tax compliance costs amounted to a stunning $265.1 billion -- in effect, "a 22-cent … surcharge for every dollar the income tax system collects"?
"By now the great majority of individual tax filers has decided that putting together their tax returns without paying for help isn't feasible. According to a 2011 MarketTools study, only 12 percent of US taxpayers still complete their federal income taxes without hiring an accountant, visiting a tax-preparation firm such as H&R Block, or buying tax-preparation software. I gave up trying to prepare my returns by hand years ago; like tens of millions of other Americans, I now put my fate in the hands of TurboTax.
"Our tax code's lack of clarity -- and the flood of special-interest giveaways and preferences that make it so cumbersome -- has turned innumerable taxpayers into cynics. Americans conclude that the whole setup is rigged, and that only a sucker doesn't bend the rules in order to pay less or finagle a bigger refund. How many people who wouldn't think of ripping off a local charity or business don't hesitate to cheat on their taxes? In such an environment, it isn't only compliance rates that suffer. Some of the civic virtue so important to a healthy society is lost as well. Jimmy Carter was right in 1976 when he called the US income tax "a disgrace to the human race." Thirty-six years later, it's more disgraceful -- and maddening -- than ever."
Tomorrow in History
April 6, 1808 - John Jacob Astor incorporates the American Fur Company, that would eventually make him America's first millionaire.
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