Sunday, March 28, 2010

Census Late Notice

I received a notice last week from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, informing me that I needed to hurry up and return my 2010 Census form. The notice informed me that the "deadline" was soon approaching, and that I needed to send the form in now.

How can that be? Question 1 asks, "How many people WERE living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?" Does not the wording of the question imply, or even demand, that I must wait until after April 1, 2010, to answer that question? If I return the form prior to April 1, 2010, and someone moves out, or moves in, or dies, then my response could be wrong. Knowing how the government works, then I am certain that I would be guilty of providing false information, and subject to some kind of fine, imprisonment or both.

I'll not be returning my Census form until after April 1, 2010. I certainly want my count to be accurate so that my community can get its "fair share" as stated so eloquently in the Census notice:

"Your response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share."

How about letting me just keep my fair share to start with. Does the Federal Government think it is doing me any favors by taxing and regulating me into oblivion? The feds are responsible for the Interstate Highway System. They should not be meddling in "schools, health facilities, and many other programs" as stated above. Let me and my state decide what I need.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Should Have Paid Attention

On January 3, 2010, I wrote, "I am going to slow down and better manage my time. I will start obeying the speed limit."  Well, I got a speeding ticket last night, not even 90 days into the new year. 86 mph in a 70 mph zone. I know you are asking, "Bobby, how did this happen?" I was not in a particular hurry. I was not upset about anything. Nobody was telling me to hurry. I didn't even have to go pee. I was simply not paying attention. And it is going to cost me dearly.

Bad things can happen when we are not paying attention. When enough of us do not pay attention, bad things can happen to our country. If I continue to not pay attention when driving, I will lose my privilege to drive. If we continue to not pay attention to what is happening to our Constitution, we can lose the freedoms it guarantees and protects. I hope that you never have to look at our country without the freedoms we hold dear and ask, "Bobby, how did this happen?" If we do not pay attention, it will cost us dearly!

Back on October 10, 2009, in my very first blog, I wrote that we need to do the following three things to save our country:

1. Pass a Constitutional Amendment to restrict Congressmen and Senators to two terms, just as we have with the President. Even though the founding fathers did not include term limits in the Constitution, it is also evident from their other writings that they never envisioned "career" politicians. As the members of the current Congress have made perfectly clear, the longer a member serves, the more out of touch he or she is with the American people. They pass laws that make it easier for them and harder for "new blood" to be elected. They start worrying more about their "power base" then about the citizens who put them there. They remove themselves from the people, passing laws that affect their constituents, but from which they are exempt. We may lose some good people, but far more bad ones will be gone when term limits are enforced. I would prefer that term limits be enforced from the ballet box, rather than by a Constitutional Amendment. But we must make the career politician a thing of the past.
2. Pass a Constitutional Amendment to require a Federal balanced budget, except in times of Declared war or Declared national emergency (both declared by Congress.) We simply cannot continue growing government, spending more, increasing the national debt, and then raising taxes in order to give Congress the license to create even more government, spend more, increase the national debt, and raise taxes, in order to give Congress the license to create even more government, spend more, increase the national debt, raise taxes. . . I think you get the message. Our Constitution directs that we should have a small federal government, only responsible for the things outlined therein; the Enumerated Powers. The interpretation of the "Commerce Clause" of the Constitution as giving the federal government the right to regulate all aspects of our life is a gross misinterpretation of what is truly a simple sentence. The federal government must live by the same rules that every successful person has to live by, and that is to spend less than you earn.

3. Do away with the IRS and replace it with a Federal consumption tax. In other words, tax what I spend, not what I make. No longer should we punish the creation of wealth, for wealth creation benefits us all. No longer should our federal social policy be one of "sharing the wealth", for that robs incentive from the very ones who grow our economy and jobs. For more information on how the consumption tax works, see The Fair Tax.

Whether you are Democrat or Republican, left or right, straight or gay, whether you are religious or atheist, pro-life or pro-choice, whether you are young or old, black or white, whatever your "cause", none of these three actions will hurt you. The only people who will be hurt by these actions will be the professional politicians who are robbing us and our posterity, and those who want the government to provide for their every need by redistributing the wealth of America and creating a welfare state where personal responsibility is a thing of the past.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Prohibition and the War on Drugs

NOTICE: This is not the same blog as my previous, even though it opens with the same paragraph.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Libertarian, although I like much of what they believe. I am a Constitutional Conservative.

In 1920, 37 states ratified the 18th Amendment to our Constitution and it became law. That Amendment started the Prohibition era of American History. It may have been a noble endeavor to restrict the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, but it did not work. During the next 13 years, Prohibition proved that sometimes even good intentions have bad consequences. Not only did Prohibition ruin many good businesses (it devastated the entire city of St. Louis), it gave the Mob, or organized crime, the economic power to grow into a organization almost as powerful as our Government. In addition, many otherwise upright and model citizens (the moonshiners and rum runners) became criminals in the eyes of the government. (On a side note, it also gave us what was to become NASCAR.) One of the families rumored to have gotten rich off of illegal booze during the Prohibition was named Kennedy. In 1933, after thirteen years of such flagrant disregard for the law that the government was simply unable to enforce it, the 21st Amendment to our Constitution nullified Prohibition. It is estimated that before the law was struck down, there were more than 100,000 illegal "speakeasies" in New York City alone.

The repeal of Prohibition did several good things for our country. 1. It allowed the government to tax and regulate the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. 2. It took the "booze" economy out of the hands of organized crime and other lawbreakers and put it into the hands of legitimate businesses. 3. It created what has become one of the most robust industries in the United States. 4. It proved that local laws and regulations are better for our country than trying to make everything a national issue (as is shown by the number of counties and cities nationwide who to this day still enforce Prohibition on a local level.)

I do not like illegal drugs. I do not use illegal drugs, or smoke marijuana. I have had personal experience with the devastating effects of illegal drugs on people I know and my community at large.

HOWEVER, I think the current "War on Drugs" has failed, continues to fail, and will always fail. Why do we continue spending billions of dollars trying to win a war that has cost more and that we have been fighting far longer than the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Viet Nam? Why do we continue fighting a war that has taken more lives than all of these wars combined? Why do we overburden our court and prison systems with people who could be better served by given them help instead of handcuffs?

I think recreational drugs should be taxed and regulated, just like alcohol. This will remove the criminal incentive to illegally import and distribute drugs, just like alcohol. It will make the government money, rather than cost it money, just like alcohol. It will create a new above ground industry that will employ thousands of Americans, just like alcohol. It will enable the government to assure the quality and relative safety of the drug (no more battery acid in the moonshine), just like alcohol. It will make it much easier for the government to control who has access to the drugs, just like alcohol.

The Drug Wars in Mexico are starting to spill over into the United States. Thousands are dying. Hundreds are being kidnapped. Yet there is no solution because there is so much money involved. As long as it is profitable for the Drug Cartels to keep shipping drugs into the United States, it will continue. Legalizing these drugs will immediately take away the economic incentive to use violence to get their goods into the United States. We can then import the drugs, regulating and taxing. As long as the legal price is close  to the "street" price, why would anyone (except those prohibited from buying) choose the illegal? They wouldn't. An added benefit of decriminalizing recreational drugs might be a economic boom in Mexico, as that country would immediately start to legitimize the drug industry with taxes and regulation. It might even slow down illegal immigration as more legitimate jobs are created south of our border.

There will be law-breakers, just like alcohol. There will be underage users, just like alcohol. There will be differences in local laws, just like alcohol. But at least we will be able to say that we are no longer spending billions on drug law enforcement, but instead are making money that can be used to help those who need help (and most likely siphoned off to help support Obamacare.) You can bet that the drug cartels do not want us to change our tactics, because they know how to beat us at that game. They have proved it time and time again.

We cannot win the war on drugs by continuing to do what has been failing for the past 50 years. Lets change tactics. Lets liberate and then regulate the thousands who are prisoners of the underground economy called illegal drugs.

Prohibition and the Healthcare Bill

In 1920, 37 states ratified the 18th Amendment to our Constitution and it became law. That Amendment started the Prohibition era of American History. It may have been a noble endeavor to restrict the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, but it did not work. During the next 13 years, Prohibition proved that sometimes even good intentions have bad consequences. Not only did Prohibition ruin many good businesses (it devastated the city of St. Louis), it gave the Mob, or organized crime, the economic power to grow into a organization almost as powerful as our Government. In addition, many otherwise upright and model citizens (the moonshiners and rum runners) became criminals in the eyes of the government. (On a side note, it also gave us what was to become NASCAR.) One of the families rumored to have gotten rich off of illegal booze during the Prohibition was named Kennedy. In 1933, after thirteen years of such flagrant disregard for the law that the government was simply unable to enforce it, the 21st Amendment to our Constitution nullified Prohibition. It is estimated that before the law was struck down, there were more than 100,000 illegal "speakeasies" in New York City alone.

What does Prohibition have to do with the recently enacted Healthcare Bill? I think at least two things. 1. Laws that affect everyone personally and do not concern "right or wrong" are not popular and are not soon forgotten. 2. It may take a while, but eventually the People will have their way.

I just hope that we are not subjects to a totalitarian regime before we are angry enough to have our way. Even so, as our founding fathers proved, being subjects of a totalitarian regime is not enough to keep a committed group of fiery patriots from having freedom!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rise Up and be Counted

Congress has just passed a healthcare bill that will "fundamentally change" America. Instead of personal responsibility and personal freedom, they have increased the power of the government, reduced our individual freedom, and violated the Constitution that they swore to uphold and defend. Instead of the land of the free and home of the brave, we have become the land of big government and home of the lazy sucklings, dependent on government for whatever it deems we need.

I make the following predictions.

1. Taxes will go up.
2. Health insurance premiums will go up.
3. Health services will decline.
4. There will be further losses of our freedoms.

We must vote to stop this out-of-control government. If we do not, violence will be required. Although all of the Republicans in the House and Senate voted against this bill, it is the Republicans fault that the Democrats had the power to pass the bill. If the Republicans had followed the conservative path espoused by Ronald Reagan, then the Democrats would not be in the majority, and we would not be becoming a socialist state under Premier Obama. Therefore, I call for the enforcement of Term Limits at the ballot box. In addition to replacing every member of Congress who voted for this bill, all two-term incumbents in the House and Senate must be defeated. I call for the election of "new blood" in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. During the general election, vote your conscience. Vote for the person who best represents your views. I pray that will be the most conservative candidate.

It is not about Healthcare

There are many ways that the American Healthcare System can be improved. Most improvement would come from opening up the system so that free enterprise and market conditions would determine what products are wanted by the American people, and then made available by insurance companies and healthcare providers. The reduction of government interference, and the increase of competition, will bring down prices and improve service. It always does.

Have you ever compared the Post Office with Federal Express? Who do you use to deliver that all-important package when it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight? The Post Office has a monopoly on First Class mail. Because they have this monopoly, they should be able to "add on" additional deliveries at very competitive prices, and they should be able to provide the very best service. But they do not. Instead, they are broke. Their service with trackable shipping (Express & Priority mail) is both more expensive and less reliable than that of FedEx. The most remarkable thing is that Federal Express actually makes money.

Have you ever had anyone involved in the VA Hospital and Healthcare system? Then you know what government run healthcare will bring to America. Are not Social Security, Medicare and Medicaide broke even though every working American pays taxes to support them? What government program has ever provided good service and came in under budget? None. Not one.

But those reasons are not why I am opposed to Obamacare. I am opposed to the current healthcare legislation because it allows the federal government to require me to buy something that I may not want. If the government can force me to buy healthcare insurance, then it can force me to buy anything our good leaders in Congress are cajoled or bribed into writing into law.  The Constitution of the United States does not say, and has never before been interpreted as saying, that the Federal government can force me to buy something that I do not want. The 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution where written and included in the Bill of Rights specifically to protect us from a corrupt, greedy and out of control federal government. We must fight to protect and defend our Constitution!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Term Limits

I am a Constitutional Conservative. I used to be a Republican. I have given to the Republican party. I will not do so again. I will instead give to candidates who promise to uphold the Constitution. Although not (yet) in our Constitution, I believe in the necessity of Term Limits. Most of the career politicians in Washington, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, are destroying our country. They no longer uphold their oath to protect and defend our Constitution, and they no longer listen to the citizens who put them in office. They think they are above the electorate. Therefore, they must go.

No matter your party affiliation, there is no doubt that a few "good ones" will be lost when we invoke term limits, whether by the ballot box or by a Term Limits Amendment. Although, quite frankly, like George Orwell so aptly said in his famous book "Animal Farm", when you look in the window at Congress, "you can't tell the pigs apart from the humans." If a Representative does a great job and is elected twice, then let him run for the Senate. Remember, at least every twelve years there will be an opening there. So, even with term limits, a really good leader can serve in Federal elected office for 24 years (Representative 4 years. Senator 12 years. President 8 years.) That is plenty long enough.

Many have said that they can't support term limits because it would mean they will have to vote for someone in the opposing party. That is only true if we, the electorate, have not imposed term limits. If we have imposed term limits, either through Amendment or by the ballot box, then the "new blood" of your party will be elected during the primary election, giving you a good choice during the general election.

Until term limits are the law of the land, in the primary vote for someone new if the incumbent has already served two or more terms. Hopefully it will be someone whose values are the same as yours. In the general election, try hard to vote out the career politician. In many instances, the new blood of any party will be better for us than to allow the entrenched, professional politician to continue raping our country.

Individual Responsibility

I am a Constitutional Conservative, a term I have applied to myself to let others know that I believe in a literal and historical translation of the United States Constitution (I hope the name is not being used by some left-wing, commie, tofu-eating crowd.) I believe that our Founding Fathers got it close enough to perfect when they crafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution along with the Bill of Rights. I strongly believe in a limited Federal Government as demanded by the 9th and 10th Amendments. I believe that we naturally have the rights stated in the Constitution, and they are not a gift or allowance from the Government, and as such, cannot be regulated, suppressed or denied by the Government.

I believe that the controlling principle of the Constitution is individual responsibility. I have the right to free speech. I have the right to protect myself. I have the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I do not have the right to healthcare. I do not have the right to home ownership. I do not have the right to a job. I do not have the right to injure you in order to advance myself. And I do not have the right to take your possessions or your money, even if they are taken from you by the government and then given to me. I am responsible for myself. I will thrive and prosper, or wither and die, based on what I do with what I create, what I grow, what I earn, and what I save. I do not have the right to what you create, what you grow, what you earn, or what you save. Your things are not mine. They are yours, whether good or bad. We are all responsible for ourselves.

I do believe in love and charity. Some say these are the same thing. I say that love is the intangible goodness that we can give to others, while charity is the tangible. True love and charity are gifts that people willingly and freely give to others of their choosing, without asking for anything in return. It is not government's place to give love or charity, for the only way government can give is to first take, always asking for something in return.

State v. Federal

Like many patriotic Americans, I have, for the first time, started writing (via email) my state and federal elected officials. I have written my State Congressman and Senator, as well as my Federal Representative and Senators. I have written concerning the health care bill, various Second Amendment issues, and what I believe is an almost total disregard for the United States Constitution by our elected officials.

I have received replies from every one of my Representatives, both State and Federal. However, I have noticed this; All of the replies from Washington were obviously form letters. Very polite and grateful to me for expressing my opinion, but no real response to my letter. In contrast, I believe that all of my responses from my State legislators were actual responses to my issues. Some of them may have come from aids or secretaries, but they all addressed the issues in my letter.

This sort of makes sense. Each Fed legislator represents a lot more people than a State rep.


I have also written elected officials from other districts or states, usually after receiving a request for a donation. I have never received a reply.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A cheap fix for Healthcare

What is the fastest way to drive down prices and force businesses to compete for your business with great customer service? Increase competition! How can we increase competition in healthcare? Increase the number of doctors!

I propose that we take a very, very small percentage of the stimulus money that has not yet been spent and provide full scholarships to every qualified person who wants to become a healthcare provider (RN, doctor, dentist, etc.) These students must still pass all of the requirements necessary to be properly licensed and maintain their licenses in their respective specialties, except that there will be no restrictions on their number. There should be some minimum years of service required in order to not have to pay back their scholarships, but there should be no other restrictions in becoming a healthcare provider. Imagine what will happen to the cost of an office visit if there are three times as many doctors competing for you! Imagine what will happen to customer service! There is no law (at least there shouldn't be) that says doctors have to be rich.

Once we increase the numbers of healthcare providers and get routine care prices down to a "real world" level, we should reduce or eliminate healthcare insurance for routine outpatient care. Think of your car. You carry insurance to protect against catastrophe, but you pay for all routine maintenance out of your pocket. You also shop around for the best service for the best price before you take your car in to be worked on. Health insurance should be the same way. I also think that health insurance should be more like dental insurance. You buy your insurance based on a reimbursement schedule. If your dental policy says it will pay "up to $500 for a crown", you are going to shop around until you can find a dentist who will do a crown for $500 or less (remember, we now have lots of dentists competing for your business.)

Some would say that automobile mechanics require just as much expertise as many medical specialties (and some would say that statement is crazy.) However, my point is that the barriers to entry into the mechanic field are much less than to the medical field. That is the ONLY reason that car repair is cheaper than body repair; there is more competition!

Of course, in order to really, really lower prices, all "ambulance chasers" should be required to pay all court and attorney fees when they lose a suit, and suit awards should be limited to actual damages. If the healthcare provider needs to be further punished, revoke his or her license, don't pad the pockets of the lawyers.

Healthcare and the Free Market

First, I must admit that I am no expert on the current "workings" of the healthcare industry in the United States. Although I have always lived in the US, am a natural born citizen, and am a frequent user of the healthcare system, I do not know how doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies do their business. I only know what I see and experience as an end user. And I am not happy with what I experience.

Most doctors make a lot of money. Most hospitals are big, modern, expensive buildings with a lot of fluff (unnecessary decorations, artwork, etc. You know. Like government buildings.) Most health insurance companies make enough money to pay their executives huge salaries while claiming that rates must be raised 20% to 70% per year (personal experience as a former business owner.) In a normal free market environment, companies would have to provide superior customer service and be managed very efficiently in order to have the type of financial success that most doctors, hospitals and insurance companies experience. But I personally do not receive good customer service from any of these providers. Do you?

Do not get me wrong. I like my current doctor. But I have to wait days or weeks for an appointment, many times to only have it rescheduled for me because the doctor is going to be "out." Then when I arrive for the appointment, I am so conditioned to the bad customer service that I know I will receive, I promise myself that I will not get upset and leave unless I have to wait for more than one-hour past my appointment time before getting called back (luckily I have not had to experience the 3-hour to 5-hour waits that I hear are common at the OB-GYN.) But that is not the end of the wait, for then I have to agree with myself that a wait of up to 45-minutes in the examining room is also acceptable. But that is really only the beginning of the wait. If I actually have a problem, I will be scheduled for more tests. But not at this doctor's office. Somewhere else. Some other day. The note on the examining room wall says, "If you have other tests done, do not call for your results for a week or two." First, why does it take a week or two to get my results? Second, why can't they call me?

Then I go to pay. I have insurance. It is a Health Savings Account policy with high deductible. That means that I pay the first $3,000 every year ($1,500 for me. $1,500 for my bride.) That is not good, but it is better than paying even higher monthly premiums. Even though I know I must pay, I still have them file the charges with my insurance. By doing this, I can pay the insurance company's rate, rather than the "no insurance" rate, which is much, much more. But I have no idea what my charges will be, because we are all just expected to accept whatever charge the doctor, lab and hospital want to charge us.

Here is what is wrong with our healthcare system (and this is before Obamacare): It is not a free market system! Doctors, labs, hospitals and insurance companies do not have to compete for our business by offering competitive pricing and good customer service. Do you know of any store that stays in business when customers have to wait hours to get inside (other than when the new X-Box goes on sale)? Did you know that when a business shops for insurance (with one of the limited number of health insurance providers in a particular state) they are REQUIRED to tell the companies bidding on their insurance what they are currently paying? In most situations, that is considered unethical, or at least unfair. Did you know that patients without health insurance are required to pay many, many times more for their healthcare services than the amount paid by patients who have insurance? In most businesses it is either unethical or illegal to "price gouge" a class of people (those without insurance), but not in healthcare.

Take a minute to think about the businesses who give the worst customer service: 1. Telephone companies - heavily regulated by the Federal government to control competition. 2. Cable TV companies - heavily regulated by local and state governments to control competition. 3. Insurance Companies - heavily regulated by State and Federal government. 4. Healthcare providers - heavily regulated by government to control costs and insure access. And on. And on. And on.

Obamacare is not the solution. Here is the solution: Shrink government and deregulate. In other words, Get Off My Back! Follow the Constitution of the United States. Understand that I want to be responsible for myself. I do not want or need a government to take care of me. Without 80% of the government oversight and regulation we have today, I might not live quite so long. I might fall prey to an unscrupulous crook. I might have to decide between a new car and new teeth. That is all OK. Just let me be responsible for me. Let me decide how I want to spend my money, and who I want to share it with.

Three things that will save our country: 1. Term Limits. Two terms. No more career politicians. 2. Fair Tax. Tax what I spend, not what I earn. 3. Balanced Budget Amendment. Lets not give them the chance to continue bankrupting our country (except in instances of war or national emergency declared by Congress.) The real shame is that none of these three things would be required if our elected leaders could just follow the Constitution that they all swore to uphold.