The economic theory known as the Tragedy of the Commons explains why people tend to abuse a good thing. After all, if a farmer doesn’t feed as many of his sheep on the free grass of the town commons, some other farmer will, and regular sheep food costs money. It doesn’t matter to the farmer that the commons will be overgrazed and worthless; he’s going to get what he can while the getting is good. You can also see this trend in open sea fishing. People decry how our seas are being overfished and the stock of remaining fish is steadily shrinking, but if Tom Fisherman doesn’t catch as much as he can, he knows that Dick and Harry Fishermen will come behind him and harvest as much as they can. There is no incentive for him to leave fish for future generations. In any situation where a public good is free or has no regulation, there is little to no influence to hold people back from seizing all they can.

We are truly blessed with great abundance in this fair country of ours, but unfortunately it is here that we show our greedy nature. My Swedish-born grandfather-in-law once laid out a scrumptious smorgasbord as a way of raising money. He soon noticed that the heaping platters of meatballs and veal roast were gone when only half the people had passed by the buffet tables. Some greedy-guts grabbed multiple plates of the tasty meats and loaded them down well. They had paid good money for their meal, and they wanted to graze ’til they puked. The fact that the people in line behind them had paid just as much as they had didn’t seem to matter. In this world the rule is, “root, hog, or die!”

Fast-forward through the years to 2004 and Chuck-A-Rama, a buffet establishment in Utah. Sui Amaama and Isabelle Leota enjoyed going to Chuck-A-Rama because of their meat-heavy Atkins diet. As they explained, it was cheaper than eating at home. On April 20th, the couple was at a local Chuck-A-Rama, feasting on the plenties provided there, when tragedy struck. The store manager, who was carving at the meat table, told Sui that he had had enough roast beef. After all, this was Sui’s thirteenth foray to the roast beef table, and there were others at the establishment who were interested in some meat of their own. Sui later told Good Morning America that he felt so embarrassed at being told that he was done with the beef.

Now a normal person like you or me would realize that twelve servings of beef were more than enough, and if we were still hungry it would be time to try the chicken, turkey, ham or other yummy meats cooked at Chuck-A-Rama. Not so with Sui and Isabelle. They finished their meals, went to the check-out counter, and demanded their money back. I can only guess that after having gulped down twelve servings of roast beef and who knows how much else that day, Sui didn’t feel he had gotten the full $8.99 value from his meal. Yeah. That’s what I thought when I heard it, too. Not only does the man’s name sound like a hog call, his appetite is hoggish as well. Would he have received his money’s worth if he had carted the entire roast off to his trough? We will never know now, since the manager saw fit to tell this little piggy that he had had way too much roast beef, and it was time for Sui to go “wee, wee, wee” all the way home.

What started out as a common-sense request for Sui to allow other people access to the beef quickly got ugly. Sui and Isabelle refused to leave, and finally the police were called to escort the couple out. Did they feel shame for their gluttony? Hell, no! It was time to alert the media! Look at the mean corporation telling these poor slighted folk that they couldn’t eat Chuck-A-Rama out of beef and home. They are so mean! Quick, call the reporters. Get some face time. Decry this cold-hearted company and trumpet your victimhood to all nations of the earth. This is your chance for the coveted 15 minutes of fame! Don’t let it slip by.

A few days later, in came the lawyers. You knew that lawyers would enter into this sooner or later, didn’t you? Suddenly these two were no longer gluttons, but the modern embodiments of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Thurgood Marshall rolled together. It seems that Sui wasn’t told to stop because he is a menace to cows everywhere, but because he is Polynesian. Yep, it’s time to play the race card. This must have been whispered in their ear by the shyst lawyers since it took a few days for race even to become an issue. Since we have heard so much of Sui, let me give Isabelle her time in the sun. She decided that the issue is not only about being denied her due right to beef, but also about abolishing racism. “We want to end the stereotypes that Pacific Islanders eat more than your average customer,” she said. I’ll give you a few minutes to compose yourself after reading that.

Done laughing? Good. On we go!

When I first heard this sonorous statement, I yelled at the radio, “Lady, if you want to break the stereotype, put down the damn fork!” And I must admit that each time I read her statement, I break out in laughter all over again. Isabelle, fire the lawyer who told you that this is a matter of race. This incident has nothing to do with your skin color and everything to do with the way you shovel in the grub. It’s time that you and Sui went back to Chuck-A-Rama and apologized for making such a spectacle of yourselves.

Shortly before I started writing this article, the chief executive for Chuck-A-Rama, Duane Moss, offered up an apology to these two oinks. Since this is my article, and because I can, I shall now parse said apology in my own way. “Sui and Isabelle, allow me to apologize on behalf of Chuck-A-Rama, the restaurant manager, and to all people with weak stomachs around the world who are turning green from your gorging. Here is $8.99 for each of you, plus tax. Please never darken our doorstep again. From now on we are limiting our service to humans, not swine.”

Now I am going to do what I haven’t done for more years than I can count: I’m going to Chuck-A-Rama, and I’m taking my family with me.

Addendum: Yum. You know I had to visit the carving station for some roast beef. After cutting me a slice, the carver asked if I wanted a second. I politely declined.

In a previous article, I wrote how the 9/11 Commission is following the political road map laid out in a leaked Democrat memo plotting to use “non-partisan” investigations to attack President Bush. While the Commission is being blatantly partisan, it is also illustrating how not to investigate an issue. Jonathan Rauch wrote up “The 9/11 Commission could learn more if it talked less” for the National Journal. He sums up how the commission has gone wrong and what it should do to make things right. His tagline for the article is “The most important job of the 9/11 commission is not to fix blame for past wrongdoing but to identify and correct continuing problems.” Needless to say, this is not happening.

So before this partisan commission steps up Dick Clark, a counter-terrorism chief in both the Clinton and Bush administrations. His book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, and his appearance before the 9/11 Commission catapulted him into his 15 minutes of fame. But what exactly is he saying in his book? In a glowing article of praise, Slate author Fred Kaplan sums up Clark’s claims this way:

In the summer of 2001, Bush did almost nothing to deal with mounting evidence of an impending al-Qaida attack. Then, after 9/11, his main response was to attack Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. This move not only distracted us from the real war on terrorism, it fed into Osama Bin Laden’s propaganda—that the United States would invade and occupy an oil-rich Arab country—and thus served as the rallying cry for new terrorist recruits.

But does this claim stand up to the facts? Supposedly President Bush’s main response to 9/11 was attacking Iraq. Really? Let’s see, from September 2001 to March 2003 seems to be a long time to start a “main response,” don’t you think? And we know the U.S. was completely focused on attacking Iraq during these eighteen months. After all, nothing else made the major news other than gearing up for the war in Iraq. Oh, wait. I guess something else happened first. Seems Dick Clark completely forgot the removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. I guess the main response wasn’t going after Iraq, but going after al-Qaeda.

So what about his other claim that the Bush administration did almost nothing about an impending al-Qaeda attack? According to Clark’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission, he mentioned al-Qaeda to Dr. Condoleezza Rice and her expression said she didn’t even recognize the name. But Dr. Rice had made public statements over a year before September 11th about the threat from bin Laden. So did the Bush administration really drop the ball with al-Qaeda, as Clark states in his book? Not at all, if we are to believe his own words in a 2002 briefing to reporters. In this briefing, Clark stated that the Bush administration in early 2001 had “changed the strategy from one of rollback with al-Qaeda over the course [of] five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of al-Qaeda.” Clark’s book says that the Clinton administration was clearly focused on terrorism and had extensive plans to combat it. All of these he says the Bush administration failed to carry out. But again, in his own words before reporters in 2002, Clark said, “I think the overall point is, there was no plan on al-Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.”

So Clark basically said one thing in his book and something completely different in 2002. As 9/11 Commission member Jim Thompson asked of Clark, “We have your book and we have your press briefing of August 2002. Which is true?” Clark responded that both are true, but this is impossible since the two statements are completely contradictory. Vice President Dick Cheney sums it up when he said of Dick Clark:

“So I guess, the other thing I would say about Dick Clark is that he was here throughout those eight years, going back to 1993, and the first attack on the World Trade Center; and ’98, when the embassies were hit in East Africa; in 2000, when the USS Cole was hit. And the question that ought to be asked is, what were they doing in those days when he was in charge of counterterrorism efforts?”

Since Dick Clark’s book has now been exposed as a load of tripe, it’s time to move onto the other bit of pig offal sitting on the 9/11 Commission. I am speaking of Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton. Since she was directly responsible for the “wall of separation” between the Justice Department and the CIA that prevented the two agencies from communicating with each other, she ought to be a witness called before the Commission, not sitting on it. Scott Jordan wrote “The Gorelick Rosetta Stone”, linking the Chinagate scandal of the Clinton administration with the tragedy that is the September 11th attacks:

To set the stage, recall that Bill Clinton ensured his loyal minions populated the US Attorneys’ offices nationwide when he fired every last US Attorney at the dawn of his Administration, then appointed his own. Next, as we have seen through Jamie Gorelick’s startling memo, he saw to it that domestic law enforcement was blinded to foreign intelligence information. He then methodically offered up White House access and key strategic technologies to the highest bidder: China, and Indonesian/Chinese billionaire donors with close ties to China’s dictatorial regime.

Thanks to Ms. Gorelick’s actions, the FBI and CIA were unable to share information with each other. Many people wonder why these agencies were able to gather information about the September 11th murderers so quickly but were unable to stop the attacks. The answer is that the dots were all there, but thanks to “Gorelick’s Wall” no one was in a position to connect them.

So who is ultimately to blame for the September 11th attacks? It was al-Qaeda specifically, and radical Islam generally. Don’t believe that radical Islam was behind this? Let me share with you this little quote offered up by Omar Bakri Muhammad on April 18th: “We don’t make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity.”

“Religion of Peace,” my eye.

In early November of 2003, a memo from Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller’s office was read on the air by Sean Hannity, a syndicated radio talk-show host and half of the “Hannity and Colmes” FOX TV show. This memo showed that the Democrats planned to use the pre-war intelligence investigations as a way of attacking President Bush. Democrat Senator Zell Miller released the following statement concerning this memo:

“I have often said that the process in Washington is so politicized and polarized that it can’t even be put aside when we’re at war. Never has that been proved more true than the highly partisan and perhaps treasonous memo prepared for the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee.

“Of all the committees, this is the one single committee that should unquestionably be above partisan politics. The information it deals with should never, never be distorted, compromised or politicized in any shape, form or fashion. For it involves the lives of our soldiers and our citizens. Its actions should always be above reproach; its words never politicized.

“If what has happened here is not treason, it is its first cousin. The ones responsible – be they staff or elected or both – should be dealt with quickly and severely sending a lesson to all that this kind of action will not be tolerated, ignored or excused.

“Heads should roll!”

Now fast-forward from the November memo to today. An investigation is making headlines, but this investigation isn’t looking into the intelligence leading up to the war to liberate Iraq. It is becoming increasingly clear that the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the official title of what is commonly called the 9/11 Commission) investigation into the September 11th, 2001 attacks is following the outline set up in last November’s Democrat memo.

This commission has become a vehicle for the Democrats on it to attack all things Bush.

If you haven’t figured this out from the beginning, you should have realized it with the circus act surrounding Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor to President Bush. She had already testified behind closed doors before the commission, but the Democrats demanded that she testify publicly. Why? I’ll give you a two-word answer: TV grandstanding. With the hoopla surrounding this commission, what political hack could resist getting face-time on national TV grilling the National Security Advisor? This is even better publicity than defacing your own billboard.

At one point, former Senator and, you guessed it, Democrat Bob Kerrey sniped at Dr. Rice for President Bush’s comment that he was tired of “swatting flies” when it came to fighting terrorism. “Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al-Qaeda prior to 9/11?” Bob Kerrey demanded. “How the hell could he be tired?” While Dr. Rice tried to pass that off as a figure of speech, I don’t think she wanted to give him the unvarnished truth. If I were testifying in Dr. Rice’s place, I’d have responded this way: “Commissioner, President Bush saw that the response to terrorist attacks from 1993 to 2000 was to prosecute the people involved one by one, as common criminals. In effect, the Clinton administration, when it could be bothered, swatted at these people one by one as you would an annoying fly. President Bush knew that a massive response was necessary to oust al-Qaeda and other terrorists and terrorist nation-states. The Clinton years saw nothing but a limp-wristed bit of fly-swatting, and President Bush was tired of it.” Maybe there’s a reason why I wouldn’t last long in the national political scene.

If the commission truly wanted to have Dr. Rice testify before them, why did they speak about half as many words as Dr. Rice? That’s right, based on my quick rough count, the commission members spoke one word for every two that Dr. Rice got out. They weren’t there to get information from her; they were there to get face-time on TV and be seen pontificating and bloviating at her before the cameras.

The Democrats on this commission are not looking to see how we can improve our defense so we do not suffer another 9/11 attack. Rather, they are trying their best to point the finger of blame at President Bush. After all, didn’t President Bush have over 200 days in the White House to prevent the September 11th attacks? The dirty truth is that President Bush couldn’t start his term off running because of the vandalism caused by the departing administration. Damaged computers, phones ripped from the walls, vulgar graffiti and general vandalism prevented the smooth transition of power, thanks to members of the sulking Clinton-Gore administration. So here we have the previous administration who spent eight years doing practically nothing about terrorism, from the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center to their closing days in office. But it’s not their fault, claim the Democrats on the commission, it’s President Bush’s fault since he was the one in office when 9/11 happened.

But here’s the question: even if the Bush administration had received specific intelligence outlining the 9/11 attacks, what could it have done to stop them? If Bush knew that almost two dozen Arabic Muslim males between the ages of 18 and 40 were planning on hijacking airplanes on September 11th, he would have two options: ground all planes, or detain and question all male Arabs trying to get on flights that day. Can you imagine the liberal howling and ACLU lawsuits that would have come from either action? The hummus would have really hit the fan. If you want an example of what public reaction would have been if the Bush administration had acted on al-Qaeda threats before 9/11, you can read this article about the impeachment of President Bush on The New Republic’s website.

In the next article, I will write more about Dick Clark’s testimony before the commission, the botched nature of this commission, and the questionable placement of Jamie Gorelick on this commission. But I will leave you with this parting thought for now: the liberals are attacking President Bush for not taking preemptive action against the 9/11 attacks, and at the same time they are attacking President Bush for preemptively stepping into Iraq and removing the viper’s nest of corruption and terrorism sponsorship there. In this case, President Bush is truly damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.

Can you spot the common thread in these tales?

  1. Audrey Seiler was kidnaped from her apartment and held for four days before she managed to escape. [1]
  2. Sang Huynh found a note threatening to burn down the family’s Oregon home if they didn’t leave. [2]
  3. Professor Kerri Dunn was shocked to find her car spray painted with hateful words and symbols. Her windows were smashed, and her tires were slashed. [3]
  4. Several men abducted Winfred L. Stafford from Hastings College in Nebraska at gunpoint. [4]
  5. Paula Oliveira was attacked by three men who cut her and caused her to miscarry. [5]
  6. Hate mail and death threats were sent to Emory University student, Sabrina Collins. [6]
  7. Susan Smith was carjacked, resulting in the death of her two sons as the carjacker crashed the car into a lake. [7]
  8. Jaelynn Sealey found her car on fire and a racial slur painted on her garage. [8]
  9. Arson destroyed the home of Sandra Benson and Freeman Berry and painted racial slurs on their fence. [9]
  10. DeWayne Byrdsong found his Mercedes-Benz spray-painted with racial epithets. [10]
  11. Ashley Todd was robbed, pinned to the ground, and the letter B scratched into her face. [11]
  12. Ahmad Saad Nasim was pelted with eggs while his assailants yelled, “Die, Muslim, die!” [12]
  13. Omobonike Odegbami, a graduate student at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University, got threatening and racially-charged email. [13]
  14. Miranda Prather was attacked after her name was posted at a local laundromat as part of a “hit list.” [14]
  15. In San Francisco, Morton Downey, Jr. had his face painted with a swastika and his head shaved. [15]
  16. Again in San Francisco, a man was abducted, held in a van, and had a swastika carved on his chest. [16]
  17. Jerry Kennedy had his college door burned three times by radicals objecting to his pro-gay literature. [17]
  18. In England, Mohammed Bashir was harrassed and intimidated, and later his shop was bombed. [18]
  19. Chris Barton was attacked, sprayed with gasoline, and narrowly escaped being set on fire. [19]
  20. Jennifer Prissel was beaten by two men who yelled anti-gay slurs, punched her, and cut her in the face. [20]
  21. Jake Thompson of Encinal Elementary School was attacked by ten schoolmates who beat him, tore up his shirt, and held his head in the toilet while saying racial slurs. [21]
  22. Sharmeka Moffitt was attacked by white supremacists and set on fire, burning over 90% of her body. [22]
  23. Charlie Rogers was attacked at home by three masked men, who cut her and tried to burn her house. [23]
  24. Megan Williams was kidnapped, raped, and tortured in 2007 by six whites for about a week. [24]
  25. Tawana Brawley was abducted and raped by six police officers. They wrote racial insults on her, smeared her with feces, and left her in a garbage bag. [25]
  26. Meg Lanker-Simons, a student at the University of Wyoming, received a rape threat via Facebook. [26]
  27. A transgender high school student is physically and sexually assaulted in a bathroom of the Hercules High School campus. [27]
  28. A black student at Grand Valley State University was shocked to find racist messages written on the student’s door. [28]

Did you guess these people were victims of violence and hate crime? That’s a common answer, but that’s not the right one. The common thread running through all these incidents is that the victims themselves committed the crimes. In every incident shown here, the so-called victims cried wolf to the public and the press over a manufactured crime.

Apparently, here in “Happy Valley”–Utah County–we aren’t immune to hate crimes. Along the I-15 freeway near Lindon, Utah, a billboard was attacked twice. Last week someone stole the vinyl sign off the billboard, and this weekend someone defaced the replaced sign with paint. The billboard shows a traditional white chapel superimposed on a rainbow with the words “Alternative Lifestyle? ‘Til death do us part,” and a webpage address. This billboard appears to refer to the current issue of same-sex marriage, a topic which usually meets with some opposition in Utah.

When I drove past the billboard on Monday, I noticed that it had been splattered with paint, and a thought crossed my mind almost instantly–the people who defaced this sign must be the same people who put the sign up in the first place. Could this be nothing more than a publicity stunt?

trashed

I dismissed my initial thought and headed home, but a few hours later I noticed that the local nightly news reported this defacement. I realized that whoever had vandalized the billboard was getting the desired publicity. According to Simmons Outdoor Media, the billboard was rented by a group who wishes to remain anonymous–so anonymous, in fact, that they registered their domain under Simmons Media Group LLC’s name. The website was virtually content-free except for a “coming soon” sign. Now they’ve added a form asking people to send tips about the people responsible for stealing their sign (as of this writing, there was no request for information about the sign’s defacement).

Why do I think the sign was defaced by the same people who posted it? There are several reasons:

  • The sign was defaced with yellow and orange paint–not exactly what you would expect from a vandal who wants to destroy the message. Bright colors highlight a sign. A dark color would make more sense.
  • A vandal would paint over the words on the sign, obscuring them. All the words are still clearly visible.
  • A graffiti artist would tag the sign.
  • A person motivated by hate would almost certainly scrawl hateful words on the sign. The only word added is “no”–not exactly a raging example of loathing.
  • Simmons Media Group owns a raft of Utah radio stations, including KXRK (X96) and KJQN. These two stations are labeled as “Alternative Rock” and “Adult Alternative,” respectively.

It seems to me that the Simmons Media Group is playing the victim to promote its radio station(s) in a shameless grab for media attention. According to the media report, local police have been contacted regarding the theft of the sign. If this incident ends up being part of a publicity stunt, Simmons Media will be guilty of filing a false police report, and charges could be filed against the company.

Whenever I try to figure out why something is being done, I ask myself, qui bono? Who benefits? In this case, do the vandals benefit from a particularly lame attempt to obscure the message on the sign? Nope. The only people who benefit from this act of vandalism are the people who put up the sign in the first place. Where before they had only a few signs, now they have free media coverage! And hey, who cares if you cry wolf and stir up emotions? There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Based on who stands to benefit, the people who put up the sign are none other than the Simmons Media Group. Sure, they claim an anonymous group paid them to do it. But I just don’t believe it.

It is possible that I am completely wrong, and this sign really was the brainchild of a same-sex marriage group. If that turns out to be the case, I will gladly print out this article and eat it while my wife takes incriminating photographs. But for some reason I think I am safe. I am also expecting to see the paint-splattered billboard up for another two weeks. Gotta get all the attention you can while the getting’s good, dontchaknow?

Addendum (4/26/2004): Over the weekend, the billboard was updated with a new image, and the website was updated today with the same image. Just like the other media hounds who faked their own tragedies, Simmons Media appears to have created this entire incident out of whole cloth in the name of publicity. Incidentally, the web site is no longer asking for information about the sign theft.

Changed Billboard

Here is the email I sent to the Simmons Media Group:

I wrote about your billboard a week ago figuring it was a fake. Now that I see that I was indeed correct, I have some follow-up questions:

Since you stated that you had filed a police report regarding the theft of the billboard, are you concerned about being charged with filing a false police report? Or was this statement more deception along the same lines as the fake defacing of your billboard?

Feel free to read my comments from last week at http://www.captainscomments.com/2004/wolf/. I look forward to your response.

As of this posting, I have received no response.

Addendum (5/8/2004): And answer came back there none. Are you surprised?

Footnotes:
[1] FoxNews.com
[2] NWCN.com
[3] LATimes.com
[4] FrontPageMag.com
[5] BBC.co.uk
[6] NYTimes.com
[7] Wikipedia
[8] FrontPageMag.com
[9] USNews.com
[10] USNews.com
[11] NBCNews.com
[12] VDare.com
[13] WesternRevival.org
[14] Wikipedia
[15] Wikipedia
[16] WesternRevival.org
[17] JewishWorldReview.com
[18] WesternRevival.org
[19] Telegraph.co.uk
[20] LATimes.com
[21] WesternRevival.org
[22] CNN.com
[23] ABCNews.com
[24] Wikipedia
[25] Wikipedia
[26] Laramie Boomerang
[27] Contra Costa Times
[28] Grand Valley State University website

Well, it’s after April 15th. I sure hope you have your tax forms filled out and in the mail by now. The government really doesn’t like slow-pokes when it comes to paying taxes. If you want to really grasp the concept of “eternal torment,” just skip paying your taxes one year. The government will be more than happy to explain in great detail just how tormented your life will become.

What would you do if you could make three wishes and change the way taxes are handled in the U.S.? What would you change if wishing would make it so? Let me give you my three wishes:

I. No tax withholdings

I wish that Americans didn’t have their taxes withheld from their paychecks. I would much rather make the full tax bill due and payable on April 15th. Withholding taxes from paychecks was one of the sneakiest changes made to the federal income tax. The change came in 1943 to help finance World War II. This temporary (yeah, right) change to the tax laws required employers to withhold federal taxes with each paycheck. The cash-strapped government couldn’t wait until April 15th for the revenue to come in, so it started collecting taxes all year long. This change allows the government to collect interest on tax money, basically putting your money to work for them before they would normally receive it.

The result of this tax withholding is a numbing of the pain of paying taxes. Since the tax comes out of our paychecks each payday, we don’t really miss the money. Granted, there is that first-time pain of looking at your paycheck and seeing just how much the government has taken, but you get used to it. Humans are remarkably resilient this way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people cheering about their tax refund. “Look at all the money the government is paying me!” But it’s not the government’s money; it’s your money. You granted the government the right to gain interest from your money, and in exchange you receive nothing other than the mistaken feeling that you have somehow made money.

This change would require that people set aside their own money each paycheck to pay for their income tax, but homeowners are used to paying for their property taxes in one lump sum. Some municipalities will break the property tax bill into 12 monthly payments to make it easier for homeowners to avoid a single large payment when the bill comes due. Removing withholdings would require people to exercise the fiscal self-control not to spend all their money without saving up their tax payments. It would also make people aware of just how much they pay each year in taxes.

II. A government that spends only what it is lawfully allowed to spend

My second wish would be for a Federal Government that would only spend money on things it is permitted by the Constitution to spend. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution outlines the only things that Congress is permitted to do. Sadly, it is the normal state of things for government bureaucracy to grow. Ours has had two centuries to grow far past its normal and Constitutionally permitted bounds.

If the government were only to spend money on those things that were mandated in the Constitution, it wouldn’t need a budget in the trillions. Thomas Jefferson was correct when he said, “That government is best which governs least.” Ours has been doing more and more for the citizens of this country, since we as citizens have been asking, even begging, the government to do more and more to take care of us. The problem is that the government which can do much for you, can also do much to you.

III. A simple flat tax

My final wish would be for a simple flat tax. This would apply to everyone, and there would be no tax loopholes, penalties or deductions. Since my second wish would reduce the overall cost of government, the resulting tax burden to the people would be dramatically less. I would guess that such a flat tax need not be more than 10% of a person’s income.

When I described these wishes to my wife, she asked at what point the flat tax would kick in. I explained that the tax would be 10% of all income. In other words, a CEO who makes $60 million would pay 10%, just the same percentage as a minimum-wage burger flipper would pay. When I have proposed this before to people, they point out that 10% of $1 million doesn’t hurt as much as 10% of $100 because the millionaire with $900,000 left over certainly has more buying power than the kid with only $90 left. I agree that this is true, but I still would not exempt the people at the bottom end of the wage scale. People who pay taxes are participants in their country’s government. Currently the bottom 50% of wage earners in the U.S. pay less than 4% of the overall income taxes. That means that half the country doesn’t care about tax rates because they don’t pay a significant amount of the taxes that run the government. Is it a coincidence that we never reach a voter turnout of 50% or more during an election? Could it be that those who stay home feel they have no part in choosing the people in government since they do not contribute with taxes? If everyone paid the same rate, it would make it much harder for Congress to pass a law increasing that rate. Democrats get away with demagoguing the issue of tax cuts/hikes by claiming that they are only for “the rich.” But with a flat rate, you could not gore the rich without having the ox also goring you.

“But charging rich people the same as the poor isn’t fair!” Really? How do you define fair? Is it fair that half of the U.S. sits on its hands while the other half does the heavy lifting? I cannot see that as fair. But if everyone is taxed at the same 10%, then everyone pays at the same rate. That is fairness. It would also mean that computing your taxes would be much easier than it currently is. All you’d have to do is take 10% of your income and write the check. You’re looking at a task that would take a few minutes of time, rather than an average of 28 hours as estimated by TaxFoundation.org. I don’t know about you, but I have things I’d much rather do with my time.

Speaking of which, I think I’ll go off and do some of them.

Easter Sunday was special this year. While the most special part was commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, something extra happened on April 11th that you probably didn’t notice. Easter Sunday was Tax Freedom Day for 2004.

So what is Tax Freedom Day (TFD)? “Tax Freedom Day is the day when Americans finally have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year.” [1] This means that after working 65 days to pay your federal Income Tax and another 36 to pay your state Income Tax, you are now finally working for yourself. This makes 101 days of the year that an average American needs to work to pay for taxes. That’s an average of 27.6% of the year’s work.

The graph above from TaxFoundation.org shows the TFD for the last four decades, and you can see that TFD has come early this year. In fact, it has been 37 years since TFD has come on or before April 11th. You would have to go back to 1967 when TFD arrived on April 10th. You can see that TFD came as late as May 2nd, in 2000. After the seven year run-up, I am glad to see that we are on a downward trend. Of course, this can change as fast as a Democrat can say “tax hike.”

Currently, America spends 101 days to pay off the Federal and state taxes. This is more than housing and food costs at 97 days together. So, on average, Americans spend almost 30% of their money as taxes to the government. Here is something that was said by the prophet Samuel about 3,000 years ago when the people of Israel demanded that a king be placed over them:

And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you…”
1 Samuel 8:14-18

Is there any difference today with our government and what Samuel told the people of Israel their kings would do to them? Well, there is one difference: they were only taxed 10%. Currently, the highest Federal income tax rate is in the 30s. But this rate has gone as high as 90%! How would you like it if you only got a dime for every dollar you made? If slavery is working 100% for someone else, then wealthy Americans during the days before President Kennedy dropped the upper tax rate were 90% slaves! How much of a difference is there between 90% and 100%? Not much at all, but there are people today who yearn for these tax rates of old. I listened to Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, on the Sean Hannity show excited about the idea of raising the tax rates on the rich. According to him, the rich just were not paying their fair share.

But what is their “fair share?” Below is a table printed by TaxFoundation.org from data compiled from the 2001 tax recipts.

Summary of Federal Individual Income Tax Data, 2001

Number of Returns
(000)

AGI
($000,000)

Income Taxes Paid
($000,000)

Group’s Share of Total AGI

Group’s Share of Income Taxes

Income Split Point

Average Tax Rate

All Taxpayers 128,817 6,241,036 887,682 100.0% 100.0% 14.2%
Top 1% 1,288 1,094,296 300,898 17.5% 33.9% above $292,913 27.5%
Top 5% 6,441 1,996,492 472,823 32.0% 53.3% above $127,904 23.7%
Top 10% 12,882 2,690,589 576,163 43.1% 64.9% above $92,754 21.4%
Top 25% 32,204 4,071,034 736,053 65.2% 82.9% above $56,085 18.1%
Top 50% 64,409 5,379,286 852,642 86.2% 96.1% above $28,528 15.9%
Bottom 50% 64,409 861,750 35,040 13.8% 3.9% below $28,528 4.1%

Source: IRS (formatted by taxfoundation.org)

In this table, you can see that the top 1% of wage earners in the U.S. paid for 33.9% of all income taxes. To put that in perspective, that’s like sitting down to dinner with 100 people and asking one guy to pick up a third of the whole dinner bill. Now, how can that be fair in any sense of the word? “But Captain, it is only right that the rich guy pick up the tab for the poorest ones!” Ah. This is very much what Robert Reich was proposing, and can be summed up in this classic statement: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Try mentioning that idea the next time you are in a crowd, and watch the people nod their heads in agreement with it. Then tell them that this statement was written by Karl Marx, and it is a major component of the Communist Manifesto. Do you find it interesting that liberal leftists like Robert Reich espouse this idea?

Here are the numbers I find most distressing: the bottom 50% of wage earners pay only 3.9% of the Federal income tax, while the top 50% pay the rest at 96.1%. When a liberal tells you that President Bush wants to give a tax break to the rich, remind him that the rich are paying the damn taxes in the first place!

In the last article, I wrote how the institution of marriage has been under attack for many years now. And the issue of gay marriage is just the latest in this group of attacks. In this article, I’ll explain why I am not in favor of gay marriage.

Infidelity is a big enough problem among heterosexual couples, but it is even worse among gay couples. In Amsterdam, where gay marriage is legal, infidelity and promiscuity are the norm, not the exception. “Those with a steady partner and those without reported having an average of 8 and 22 casual partners per year, respectively.” [cite] In another study looking for faithfulness in 156 male homosexuals, no couple that had been together longer than five years had a faithful relationship. Of the seven couples that were monogamous, none remained exclusively faithful to each other for longer than five years. All relationships lasting longer than five years, even the one lasting 37 years, had some agreement which allowed for infidelity. These are not so much faithful companions as roommates. [cite] Since infidelity is a bad thing for traditional marriage, how will adding the rampant infidelity of gay couples do anything to improve the institution of marriage?

Gay relationships are also linked with domestic violence. Almost 50% of gay men suffer domestic abuse serious enough to require hospitalization. For lesbians, violent domestic abuse reaches 55%. If emotional abuse is added to these statistics, the numbers reach 83% and 84% for males and females, respectively. [cite] This level of domestic violence is much higher than in heterosexual couples, so how is legalizing gay marriage a benefit to marriage as an institution?

One major reason given in favor of gay marriage revolves around the legal benefits that accrue to married couples. But these very same benefits are available for non-married couples, and it doesn’t require the ham-fisted force of government to provide them. Homosexual advocates demand that gays be allowed to marry so they can reap the same legal benefits that married couples have. Common requests I have heard deal with hospital visitation rights, joint ownership of property and bank accounts, and inheritance, among others. All of these benefits can be obtained through common legal documents. It doesn’t require an act of Congress to make these things happen. If a gay couple really wants these benefits, they only need to act. It is true that married couples have many of these benefits without the need of the same legal documents, but these were put in place for the benefit of the children born into a family and for their parents. And when you come down to it, it is in the government’s best interest to promote couples bearing future tax-payers. Regardless of how much they try, a homosexual couple will never have children together.

But what is the ultimate goal of the gay advocates? What is it that drives them to argue for marriage? It can’t be the legal benefits, for those are already available to the people who want them. A common demand of gay activists is that people tolerate other lifestyles. But these gay activists no longer seek tolerance. They are demanding that people accept them. Not only must others tolerate and turn a blind eye to their actions, they must now actively accept that the gay lifestyle is just as valid and good as the heterosexual lifestyle. I can’t help but think of the poem by Alexander Pope:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen,
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
Essay on Man (ep. II, l. 217)

If gay activists have their way, and the government steps in and redefines marriage as the union of two people rather than the union of a man and woman, what will follow? Two things, and quickly. First, once gay marriage is legal in the U.S., then lawsuits will be filed to force churches to accept and perform gay marriages. All pretense of seeking tolerance will vanish at this point; the club of lawsuits will be used to force full acceptance of the gay lifestyle on everyone. Second, the institution of marriage will be dealt what will likely be its death-blow as every possible redefinition of marriage will be pushed forward in the courts. If the definition can be changed once, it will be that much easier to change it again and again. Just think, marriage will become the union of:
– a man and multiple women
– a woman and multiple men
– multiple men and multiple women
– an adult and a child (can you say NAMBLA?)
– a living person with a dead person
– humans and non-humans

A society that cherishes and promotes healthy, happy marriage between a man and a woman is a society that will thrive. Gay unions, even in countries where they are fully legal and accepted, do not come close to providing the same healthy and happy benefits as heterosexual unions.

I hold no hatred for gays. But I do recognize that their call for marriage creates no benefits for anyone, and the potential for great harm to themselves, others, and society as a whole.

And I cannot support it.

“Captain, how could you have written your article about gay marriage? You are such a homophobe!” A homophobe is someone who is afraid of gays in the same way that an acrophobe is afraid of heights or an arachnophobe is afraid of spiders. A phobia is an irrational fear of something, but the term “homophobe” has been used to mean “hatred of gays” and not just an irrational fear of them. And it is currently used as a term to shut people up, just as calling someone a fascist or Nazi is often used to silence the opposition. I have neither fear nor hatred of gays or their lifestyle. While it is true that I do not condone their lifestyle, this is worlds away from fear and hatred. Heck, there are lots of lifestyles that I do not condone, so I’m not just picking on gays here.

“If gay marriage becomes common, that means my wife and I will have to get divorced, since gay marriage will damage the institution of marriage.” While this is a cute argument, the weakening of marriage as an institution does not mean that each and every specific marriage is on the rocks.

Do we agree that marriage today is a weaker institution than it used to be back when our parents and grandparents were married? Many things have combined in the last 3 to 4 decades to weaken the institution of marriage.

Free Love

The idea of “free love” that gained popularity in the 60s has had a destabilizing effect on marriage. As the saying goes, “why buy the cow when the milk is free?” Armed with the cry of “If it feels good, do it,” this generation justified doing just about everything. The end result was a breakdown in the institution of marriage. After all, why get married when shacking up together gives you everything you need? Hand-in-hand with the idea of free love come the twin ideas of promiscuity and unfaithfulness. If there are no vows of marriage, it is easier to let the eye (and body) stray to the next available person who crosses your path. Infidelity and heartbreak are rampant when your lust rules your actions.

Abortion and other forms of birth control

Access to abortion and other forms of birth control, most especially the Pill, has weakened marriage. It used to be that if a young couple get pregnant, they got married shortly afterwards. The end of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” illustrates this idea as the closing scene shows the fathers standing close behind the couples and giving their armed blessing to the marriages. Since they didn’t know which of the girls had given birth, they were all going to be married to save their honor. Old fashioned? Judging by today’s standards, it sure is. But it worked. Couples started off, albeit a bit tardy, married so the children would come into a home with both a mother and father.

These days, men don’t feel concerned about sleeping around. If the girl isn’t on the Pill, then she can always get an abortion. This attitude has freed men from worrying about getting the girl pregnant. After all, isn’t it the girl’s responsibility to make sure she’s taking the Pill? And if she’s forgotten and gets pregnant, who cares? “Doing the right thing” has come to mean paying for the abortion, rather than getting married and raising up the child.

Illegitimacy

In the last few decades, the rise of illegitimacy has been astounding. We have reached the point where a black child has about a 25% chance of being born to married parents. A generation of children has grown up knowing only Mom and a steady stream of boyfriends. The stigma of illegitimacy on children is no longer as onerous as it used to be, and I can’t help but think that is a good thing. After all, it is not the child’s fault that his or her parents were not married. The blame falls squarely on their shoulders. But where this once used to be a shameful, scandalous thing, in certain circles it has almost become the norm. And unfortunately, illegitimacy is often attended by violence. A woman and her child are much more likely to be beaten by a live-in lover than by a husband.

Divorce

Divorce, too, used to be a scandal. Before a couple could be divorced, one had to be shown to be at fault. Because a divorce was frowned on by society and difficult to obtain, couples often chose to stick together and work out their difficulties. But with the advent of “no-fault” divorce, it became much easier for a couple to part ways. All you had to do was claim “irreconcilable differences” and you were quit of each other. Since it was so easy to get divorced, why worry about choosing your mate carefully? And with divorce so simple to obtain, why work at kindling a more lasting love when the brief flush of lust has worn off? Bored with your spouse? Get a divorce and start looking for a new love. And with divorce so easy, some people started looking for a new love while still legally bound to the old one. I have heard people say that if they are already planning to get a divorce, dating around is OK. Infidelity between married people destroys the institution of marriage just as surely as infidelity between unmarried people does.

Effects on children

A happy marriage between a loving man and woman is the best environment for raising children. While this is not always possible, this is the optimal situation, and people should not aim for anything less. Children who are raised by a father and mother can see how to treat their spouse when they grow up and get married. I learned how to treat my wife with loving tenderness by watching how Dad treated Mom as I grew up. I fully understand that it is not always possible for children to be raised by both a father and mother. My wife’s father died when she was only twelve. I know of another who divorced her husband when his sexual abuse of the children was made known. While I am not in favor of no-fault divorces, this is a case of a crystal-clear fault, and I agree with the divorce. Both of these instances resulted in a single parent raising the children. It isn’t the best option, but it is the best they could do because life doesn’t always grant us the best even when we strive for them.

And now for something that will make some people mad at me: if a single woman is pregnant, she should think of the child’s best interests and give it up for adoption. This is the best way to ensure that the child will have both a father and mother. This isn’t always in the best interest or desire of the mother, but if she isn’t selfish, she will recognize that a loving couple could provide much more for the child than she can by herself.

So far I have listed several ways that the institution of marriage has been under attack for decades. Society suffers as marriage suffers. My next article will talk specifically why gay marriage is not something I can support.