The Best of Ron Paul: Don’t Tread On Me

I stumbled across an excellent video the other day featuring the economic wisdom and warnings espoused by Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) over the last couple of years so I thought I would share. I think this fan-made clip speaks for itself so I’ll just leave you to it:


Archbishop Dolan Elevated to Cardinal

Congratulations to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan on his elevation to Cardinal.

Now-Cardinal Dolan has received much media attention recently for speaking out against the current HHS mandate as president of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). In response to the mandate, Cardinal Dolan wrote the following:

Americans are nothing if not fair.

We share with those who are down and out. We salute excellence and the honest effort to achieve it. And something in our character draws us to the underdog.

That’s why the new federal edict mandating sterilization and contraception coverage in all health care plans has set off alarm bells around the country. And for the record, the contraceptives mandated as “preventive services” will include abortifacients.

Critics charge that this is an attack on the cornerstone First Amendment freedom that is the very foundation of our democracy. It is. Others assert that it threatens a violation of conscience for millions of Americans. It does. And still others insist it will force an unprecedented choice for many employers to either subsidize what they believe to be immoral, or withdraw health care coverage for their own families and those of their employees. It will.

But the new Health and Human Services ruling is wrong for another reason.

It is egregiously unfair, and as such, it cuts against the grain of what it means to be American.

The great and historic 236-year American achievement has been built on a broadly accepted social understanding. Working Americans pay taxes on what they earn. In return, their government protects them from external dangers, and from threats to the rights that our Declaration of Independence held to be God-given.

In a word, Americans expect government to be fair in how it governs, with respect for the exercise of the liberties and rights guaranteed all citizens under the U.S. Constitution.

Indeed, this basic American notion of fairness, the principle of equality under the law, was the animating force behind the great Civil Rights movement and the expanded recognition of rights for women and minorities in this past century. Americans, when presented with all the facts, support what is fair.

Which is precisely why the Obama administration’s decision to force Catholic and other religious employers to violate their conscience will not stand. Americans will recognize it for the unconstitutional detour that it is, and urge their elected representatives to repeal it.

I believe the trigger for this will be a very simple question. Americans will ask themselves: If this, what next?

What other constitutionally protected freedoms might an increasingly powerful federal government revoke? What other mandated violations of conscience lie ahead for other groups of American citizens, in pursuit of what their government declares is in the common interest? For whom doth the bell toll next?

There are many reasons to decry this HHS mandate. But perhaps the most important reason is that it is simply un-American.

I’m now Catholic. (So are you.)

Aside from this direct assault on the faith of practicing Catholics, the fact that a cabinet secretary can, of his or her own volition, without an act of Congress and with no practical avenue of redress, issue regulations mandating that someone must do something that he or she as a matter of personal ethics or faith would otherwise never do, is an assault on the country’s very foundation.

A non-Catholic explains how the recent HHS mandate isn’t merely a Catholic controversy but an overstepping of government that endangers the liberty of all Americans.

The Neo-Nuremberg Law

In 1935 Adolf Hitler passed the Nuremberg Laws, antisemitic laws that revoked citizenship based on race, bloodline, and opposition directed towards the Nazi regime or Hitler himself. Today, in 2012 we have a similar piece of legislation being presented to our very own house and senate here in the United States of America. This “neo-nuremberg” law, known as the Enemy Expatriation Act, seeks to grant our federal government unprecedented powers with no foundation in the constitution, namely, the ability to revoke citizenship of any US citizen based on “engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States.” By stripping away US citizenship, our government effectively removes all protection under the law, thus flinging wide the door to unfettered human rights violations completely divorced from the checks and balances of true democracy meant to protect us from this very type of despotism.

At present it is unclear whether, under this new bill, a trial and conviction in court is even necessary to revoke citizenship on the grounds mentioned above as the bill makes no qualifications on how or on what authority a decision to revoke citizenship can be made. However, according to sources such as  “This bill would give the US government the power to strip Americans of their citizenship without being convicted of being ‘hostile’ against the United States. In other words, you can be stripped of your nationality for ‘engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States.’ Legally, the term ‘hostilities’ means any conflict subject to the laws of war but considering the fact that the War on Terror is a little ambiguous and encompassing, any action could be labeled as supporting terrorism.” (emphasis added)

That our ruling class elites seem to think that its a good idea to model our justice system off of Hitler’s fascist Nazi regime speaks to just how out of touch they are with the American people, the constitution, and the inviolability and sanctity of human rights.

The full text of the Enemy Expatriation Act can be found here.

Enemy Expatriation Act

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake! – A Man for All Seasons

Recently, Obama signed the NDAA into law, authorizing the indefinite detention of anyone, including US citizens on US soil, without trial under the pretext of potential terrorism. However, the president vowed to never use his new power to detain a US citizen without due process because that would be against the “spirit of America.” With the introduction of the Enemy Expatriation Act Obama’s promise, however, may be rendered irrelevant. If the bill, currently being passed through Congress, passes in its current form it will let the government strip away citizenship from any person engaged in hostilities, or supporting hostilities, against the United States. The law is brief, but in short it warrants the US government to strip nationality status from anyone they identify as a threat. With the power granted by the EEA to strip away citizenship and by the NDAA to indefinitely detain without trial literally anyone could be whisked away on government whim, representing an American despotism in direct violation of our constitution and, indeed, the spirit of America as it was meant to be according to our founders.

The story can be found at Russia Today. Unfortunately a google search of “enemy expatriation act” yielded only the one major news outlet as of the publication of this post. No mainstream media outlet has picked up the story of one of the greatest threats to American liberty, possibly in the history of our country. No CNN, no Fox, nothing.

Its a sad commentary on the state of American public discourse when the most reliable news source I can find on US affairs is Russia Today.

There’s Madness to Our Method

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

America has enemies. Some of these enemies, terrorists, have already done great harm to our nation. The worst terrorist attack against us, 9/11, killed over 3,000 people, left an entire nation in fear, and lead to two simultaneous wars each lasting a decade. Yet, what if the American people had an enemy that is quickly compromising our safety and stripping our freedoms away faster and more efficiently than terrorist groups ever could? Worse, what if this enemy wasn’t thousands of miles away but resided right here at home? As bad as terrorism is, the tactics we have used in retaliation have done more harm than the terrorists ever did. Enemy number one is the War on Terror itself.

The PATRIOT Act was passed as a legislative tool to fight terrorism. However, it violates not one but three amendments of the constitution. The rationale? In order to protect ourselves from freedom-hating terrorists we must strip away some of our liberties first in order to fight the war on terror more effectively. This is something no terrorist have ever been able to accomplish but thanks to the Bush administration we have friends in office willing to do the terrorists’ job for them.

However, the Obama administration has continued the Bush legacy in true bipartisanship form. Recently, Obama retracted his promise to veto the NDAA bill, which authorizes the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial under pretext of potential terrorism, instead signing it into law. He signed a statement saying that he has no intention of ever using this tyrannical power because he has grave reservations against it. However, this signed statement is not a legal document, he can change his mind at any time, and his successors retain the full power to indefinitely detain essentially whomever they please. Note that some of the parameters that constitute “potential terrorist” include such things as having more than a week’s supply of food in your house, possessing weather-proof bullets, missing a finger, or belonging to a pro-life group. Detainment of even a single person under these pretenses is a violation every American’s inalienable rights that preexist our government and are recognized by our constitution. Even the possession of this kind of power by the executive branch is contrary to democracy and an insult to every American.

In addition to stripping our liberties the war on terror has posed a massive financial burden on the country to the point that America’s (now retired as of Sept. 30 2011) top military officer, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff, stated that, “I actually think that the biggest threat to our national security is our national debt.” The war on terror has contributed massively to this debt: America spends more on military than the rest of the world combined at 1 billion dollars a day. With increasing threats of war against Iran – again under the pretext of national defense and countering terrorism – that expense can only be expected to increase.

But at the high price of our liberty and our hard earned dollars at least we’re safe from terrorists and a repeat of 9/11, right? Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Estimates show that the Iraq war has led to a sevenfold increase in fatal terrorist activities around the world. This can be explained by the principle of “blowback” a CIA term referring to unintended consequences to America’s interventions abroad. The war on terrorism has resulted in substantial blowback, proliferating anti-American sentiment and uniting much of the Muslim world against us.

That’s the problem, but what’s the solution? First, we need to cut out losses and end the war on terror. With military bases in 116 countries around the world its time to bring our troops home. We need to end our wars, reverse the PATRIOT Act and the NDAA, cut military spending, stop foreign aid to tin pot dictators, and open negotiations with Iran now before we start yet another war. By taking a non-intervention approach and eliminating blowback alone we will accomplish more in the fight against terrorism than we have in the last decade – and all without the cost to American freedom and livelihood.

– Christian Ohnimus

The Income Tax

“…a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.” – Thomas Jefferson

With the conclusion of the Iowa caucuses the GOP primary is now in full swing so I thought now might be a good time to succinctly share my views on an important aspect of economic policy, i.e., the income tax. This is meant to be a nonpartisan, non-candidate position – no party or individual will be endorsed. Proponents of the income tax claim that this type of tax is necessary primarily for two reasons. First, because our government requires a substantial revenue and the income tax is a good way to meet that demand. Secondly, proponents claim that such a tax is necessary to meet their objective of fairness. An income tax allows us to tax different income brackets fairly based on a percentage of their income and, in the case of the graduated income tax, to even assist in redistribution of income from the bloated rich to the anemic poor.

But the income tax is oppressive. First, consider what an individual’s income signifies. It is the monetary worth of a person’s work as estimated by his or her employer. Now, it may be argued that some people get paid more than their work is worth, e.g. corrupt CEOs who pay themselves exorbitant salaries and while this may be true this is not the case for the vast majority of Americans and most of income tax-derived revenue. What this means is that the income tax is fundamentally a tax on labor. Furthermore, because the primary means by which each individual contributes to the greater American society is through their paid work the income tax is essentially an individual punishment scaled for each individual’s contribution to society. Now, that’s not its purpose but intentional or not the more an individual contributes to society through his or her work, then the more they get paid and the more gets taken away in taxes – especially when a given individual works his or her way up into the subsequent income tax bracket.

Also with the income tax comes the issue of tax avoidance. Because of the much higher percentage of income withheld amongst the rich and the wider array of opportunities afforded them, America’s wealthy have the highest level of tax avoidance – some of it even legal. It is not impossible for a wealthy individual to receive an annual income of $1 but have millions in stocks and assets. It gets much more complicated than that but the message is the same. The rich can avoid paying taxes and keep their money while the middle and lower classes are not afforded the same luxury. So much for being “fair” or redistributing wealth in the poor’s favor.

The other argument, that we need the income tax because it accounts for our government’s primary revenue is only legitimized if you believe that big government is legitimate. It is not. The scope of power and cost of our government is not only unprecedended but unconstitutional and leads to such scandals to liberty as the Patriot Act and the new NDAA bill which allows the executive branch to detain any American citizen indefinitely without trial under the pretext of suspected terrorism. Big government stifles liberty, chokes the free market and creates an artificial industry of buearacracy in which an army of pencil-pushers must endlessly “regulate” and “manage” affairs that are the responsibilities of the individuals of our nation in a continual attempt to justify their own jobs. The solution is simple, however. Minimize the federal government, eliminate all federal programs not involved directly in the protection and safeguard of our liberties and national defense, and balance the power back in favor of the states and citizens. All monetary need for an income tax will evaporate.

The solution to the problems posed by the income tax is not a band-aid approach by patching the loopholes, we need to reevaluate our entire tax code. Instead of taxing people for the good that they bring to society instead let us get our revenue from what people take away. If we replace the income tax with excise and pollution taxes we can stop de-incentivising people from working and instead creates incentives for smarter consumerism and less waste. So, enough with the oppressive income tax. There is no need to tax Americans by taking away the earnings of their labor. The American people find their labor taxing enough.

– Christian Ohnimus