Thursday, April 28, 2016

Back to Basics - Where Do Rights Originate?

Quick Note: Back to Basics is a series of articles I’ll write from time to time covering some basic principles of liberty. For those who’ve never spent a long time thinking about politics, these are some important issues to consider, and for those who have already considered these questions and reached similar conclusions, you can use these articles to refresh yourself or send this article to someone you know who needs it. 

Seldom a day passes without someone complaining about how United States citizens are losing their rights, but how often do we take the time to think about what we mean by our rights? We need to give this some thought, and I suggest we start with the question, “Where do our rights originate?”

The Founding Fathers had an answer, and they stated it explicitly in one of the most famous lines of the Declaration of Independence when they said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” In the Founding Father’s view, the fact that God gave each of us life and free will proved that these rights belong to individuals.

Though somewhat familiar today, this idea was radical at the time of Declaration. The model throughout most of the history of Europe held that God anointed the kings of the world thereby giving them the right to bestow and withdraw the rights of the citizenry as the kings saw fit. Most other societies across the world and throughout history adopted the same political dogma sometimes with and sometimes without the divine justification; almost universally, people viewed the king, emperor or czar as the supreme ruler with unchecked power over all citizens. Individual rights were not even a consideration since people believed all rights were at the whim of the ruler. You might have the ability to speak freely, but that freedom ended the second the person in power said you must be silent.

The idea that every individual had certain rights which could never be violated reversed the prevailing philosophy of the day by suggesting that the power of the government came from the rights of individuals rather than that the rights of individuals came from the power of government. If the old philosophy were true and the government gave citizens their rights, then the government must also have the ability to take those rights away whenever convenient, but if individuals had certain fundamental rights that were given to them by God, then no human government could justifiably take away that which was never theirs to give in the first place. If human rights are God given, then rights transcend the laws of man and become universal. The government may use force to punish someone for speaking freely, but the fundamental right to speak your mind still exists even when the government fails to recognize it.

Of course, faith in God is not a prerequisite for holding a strong view of individual rights. The Founders referred to these rights as, “self-evident,” and you don’t have to read the Bible or believe in God to reach the conclusion that every person has the right to live and find their own path through life though it certainly helped the Founders and many others form this view.

As long as you come to the conclusion that rights belong to the individual, then you have cornerstone off which to build a political system which will protect the rights of mankind, but if you conclude that the government determines man’s rights, then any system based on this premise must quickly devolve into oppression for the political elite can always find excuses for limiting the rights of man. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Beware the Flag Police!

Vexillologists beware! If you fly a flag in New Jersey, you might find yourself in a jail cell.

Joseph Hornick flew a “Trump - Make America Great Again!” flag on his property only to have the police show up at his door and instruct him to remove it. It turns out a local city ordinance makes it illegal to post political signs more than thirty days before an election, so if Hornick continues to let his Trump flag fly, he could end up with a $2,000 fine, a 90 day stint in jail or both.

Now, I’m no Trump fan, but I am a fan of free speech, and telling someone they cannot fly a flag or post a sign in favor of a certain political candidate makes a mockery of our fundamental American right to speak our mind. 

Though a real problem, laws like this always make me roll my eyes for the regulations are so arbitrary. We are supposed to believe that flying a flag that supports Trump is a menace to society that must be stopped with the full force of law, and yet the same guy who is banned from flying a flag in his local neighborhood can go online and tell the entire world, “Trump will make America great again!” without consequence. We are told political signs are bad and must be stopped, but there’s no problem with people wearing T-shirts supporting Trump, so are we to believe that a stationary political message is somehow more threatening than a mobile political message? This local township is telling us that it’s a travesty of justice to post a political sign thirty-one days before an election, but thirty days before an election, the exact same act is a wonderful part of the electoral process? What nonsense! 

I think most people would agree that this law serves no purpose, and yet this is just a single example of nonsensical restrictions on the election process. There are many equally arbitrary laws which bizarrely win popular support. Why is it perfectly okay to give a political candidate $2,700 and yet completely illegal to give the candidate $2,700.01? I personally find it difficult to imagine how a single penny could pose that much of a threat to the nation. We are supposed to believe it’s totally wrong to give a dime over $2,700 to a political candidate, yet it’s perfectly okay to give an additional $5,000 to a political party or a PAC (Political Action Committee) that in turn will give a candidate that money. You can even give an unlimited amount of money to a Super PAC which will not give the money directly to the candidate but will spend every cent on ads and other political tools designed to get a single candidate elected. How does any of this make sense? 

Why have so many Americans been convinced that attempts to influence the political system are bad? Isn’t the entire point of a representative government encapsulated in the idea that citizens can influence the political landscape?

Here’s my crazy idea. People should be able to do what they choose with what is theirs. Is it your property? Then fly whatever flag you want to fly. Is it your money? Then give it to whomever you darn well please. 

How could a rational person come to any other conclusion? 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Equal Pay Day and the Pay Gap Deception

April 12th was Equal Pay Day. You didn’t miss it, did you? That’s the day where we are all supposed to mourn the fact that women are paid seventy-seven cents for every dollar a man earns for the same work. There’s only one little problem with this whole day of remembrance; it’s based on a total load of crap. 
Most of you probably already know this, but for Pete’s sake, this same old lie has lived way past its prime. This weak, sickly, feeble argument has been surviving on scraps of encouragement from fibbers with an agenda, and it’s past time for this old lie to be taken out to the back yard and put out of its misery. If you don’t already know why the 77-Cent Pay Gap argument is bunk, let me explain, and if you do already know, I urge you to memorize the basic facts so you can correct people every time you hear them repeating this nonsense. 
The studies that show that women make seventy-seven cents for every dollar men make reach this figure by comparing the earnings of all men and women who work full-time. Sure enough, women do make about 23% less than men, but this stat does not take into account the nature of the work being done by the men and women. This isn’t unequal pay for unequal work but unequal pay for vastly different kinds of work.
One of the biggest causes of the wage gap is the fact that men and women tend to go into different fields. More men become doctors. More women become elementary school teachers. Doctors get paid more than elementary school teachers.
Another big factor is that women often choose to take time off from their careers when they have children. It’s not infrequent for mothers to take a couple of years or even a couple of decades off to focus on raising a family, and that’s perfectly fine, but you cannot work your way up the economic ladder when you’ve left the workforce. Plenty of women renew their careers in their fifties after raising several children and they find that they are once again starting at the bottom. 
Studies that take into account these and other factors like the amount of hours worked, the number of sick and vacation days taken, aggressiveness in contract negotiation, education level, years of experience in the field, amount of time with a company and management status show that the Pay Gap all but disappears. When actually comparing apples to apples, studies have shown that women make 98% of what men make, and that’s pretty darn close to the margin of error for any statistical analysis, so the actual Pay Gap might even disappear completely.
The people perpetuating the Pay Gap myth don’t even have a defense for their views. The Huffington Post had several articles on the front page promoting, “Equal Pad Day,” but it also has an article posted four years ago where a feminist writer admitted the 77-Cents argument is nonsense. Even though they admit the Pay Gap story is untrue, leftist sites like Huff Po still promote the same old lie because they know if they can convince women that they are being abused they can get them to vote Democrat to combat this crisis which has been largely fabricated. 
We have got to kill this lie. Every time somebody repeats it, we should quickly point out the truth. You can explain the way the data is being manipulated in thirty seconds, there are loads of articles from mainstream and even some leftist sites which admit the 77-cent Wage Gap is a lie and there’s no need to be confrontational about it. You share the info, mention a mainstream source that supports your case and let it go. If they care about the truth, they can learn it in a few minutes of Googling. If they don’t care about the truth, then there’s little hope for them, but maybe they’ll start to feel foolish promoting an obvious lie and stop indoctrinating women to feel victimized. 
The United States provides an environment where both women and men can thrive. The only thing that will keep women from succeeding is the belief that the system is rigged against them.  
Check out this video for a more detailed argument and links to more sources:

Monday, April 11, 2016

Of Course Women Should Be Punished for Having an Abortion

By virtue of experience, I know that a majority of people who just read that title will now desperately want to kick me in the crotch and yell, “Shut up!” Though I’ve been trying to be more concise in my articles, I think this one is going to take a little longer for me to explain myself fully. If I cut this one short, I think people will have a warped understanding of my views on this matter. All I ask is that you give me a fair hearing and lend me your ears for a few minutes as I make my case. If you will hear me out, I feel confident that you will want to crush my gonads a little less by the time I finish than you do at this present moment. 

Two weeks ago, I found myself in a bizarre situation. For the first time, I defended a policy position of Donald Trump while the rest of the world railed against him. When Trump was asked if he would support punishment for women who had abortions if the procedure was made illegal, Trump replied, “There has to be some form of punishment.” This immediately set off a firestorm of condemnations from pro-abortion groups and pro-life groups who skewered Trump for his comments. 

Staying true to form, the straight-talking, politically incorrect Donnie reversed himself a few hours later when he realized potential supporters were upset with him seemingly leaving me as the only person in the United States to hold this view, but even after reading the arguments of Trump’s critics, I still don’t understand why pro-lifers condemn him. 

Let’s talk about abortion real quick. There are only two options. Either an unborn human is a person or an unborn human is not a person. There is no middle ground on this issue. Pick a side. 

If you believe an unborn human isn’t a person, then of course there should be no punishment for women who have abortions. If a fetal human is no different than a cancerous lump or a failing kidney, then a woman should be able to do whatever she chooses with that unborn human. If the mother and doctor agree that it would be fun to start slicing apart the fetal human one toe at a time, slowing working up the legs cutting off an inch or two with every slice, then switching to the same procedure on the fingers, hands and arms and eventually beheading the torso, that’s their business, and if the woman further decides to keep the head, take it to a taxidermist, hollow out the innards and have the head stuffed and mounted to hang above her desk, that’s also perfectly okay. Though someone might find this eccentric, nobody who believes that the fetal human is merely a clump of irrelevant cells should be remotely bothered by any of this because it’s just a hunk of unnecessary flesh. It’s not like anybody died, so who cares? No punishment is necessary. 

However if you believe an unborn human is a person, then it logically follows that the fetal human has rights and deserves legal protection. It must be illegal to poison and/or dismember an unborn child just like it is illegal to poison and/or dismember a child that has left the womb. It also follows that anyone who would kill an unborn child must be murderer and must suffer negative consequences. 

Here is where we get the giant disconnect. For the pro-abortion crowd, I disagree with you strongly, but at least you guys are being mentally consistent as long as you say a mother should be able to do anything to the unborn human without consequence, but for whatever reason, a large portion of conservatives say, “Killing an unborn child is murder, but the mother who chooses to kill the child is an innocent victim.” No, pro-lifers. This makes no sense. You have failed. Please try again. 

The pro-life crowd is united in declaring that abortion doctors must be brought to justice, but many pro-lifers somehow think that a woman who chooses to have an abortion bears no responsibility. Would these pro-lifers also argue that a hitman deserves prosecution but the person who hired the hitman is an innocent victim? I find these suggestions equally nonsensical. Both choose to end a human life and both deserve to share the blame. To argue otherwise is to make the sexist assumption that pregnant women cannot make decisions for themselves and are simply too stupid to be morally responsible for their own actions.

Obviously, abortion is legal and nobody is suggesting women or doctors should be prosecuted for activity that is currently allowed, but in a theoretical society which has recognized that the unborn child is a person, why is it so radical to suggest that a woman who kills her child should be prosecuted for a crime? What other law in society can be broken without consequence? Nobody would ever propose such a law!

I’ve looked into the reasons many pro-lifers are against punishment for women who have abortions, and they’ve offered some ideas worth exploring.

Some have pointed out that women who abort only do so because they are desperate and cannot find ways to support themselves, and yet no conservative would accept this as an excuse for thievery, a much less serious crime than murder. Why should this same argument work for abortion?

Some point out that abortion mills like Planned Parenthood lie to women and push them towards bad decisions, but remember this scenario presumes that abortion has been made illegal, and in all other cases where someone is urged to commit a crime by people who have lied about the nature of the crime, the individual still bears the responsibility for illegal actions. 

Some have argued that the guilt women often feel upon having an abortion is punishment enough, but though it’s true that many regret their actions, it’s equally true that many do not, and since when have guilty feelings ever excused murder?

Some have suggested that a desire for punishment can only be motivated by a desire for vengeance, but this wrongly assumes that punishment equals vengeance. Good parents always try to make sure there are negative consequences to their children’s misbehavior out of a desire of justice, deterrence and personal growth; punishment should have nothing to do with spite and vengeance. If we can understand this in parenting and in most areas of the justice system, why do so many assume vindictive motives in this case?

Some say that abortion doctors are the root of the problem and that women should be given a free pass if they turn evidence against the doctors, but the doctors greater guilt doesn’t excuse the mother’s role, and it’s not hard to imagine ways to catch abortion doctors without a mother’s testimony. 

Many have pointed to the ambiguous status of the unborn child as a reason for leniency. Since the life of the unborn would presumably still be an issue of some debate, mercy should be extended. I actually agree, but mercy should be extended in the form of a lighter sentence rather than no sentence at all. 

Finally, some argue that we risk alienating women from the pro-life cause if we suggest that women should bear some responsibility for their choice to murder the unborn. They say that if we can save more lives by allowing amnesty for murderers, then the rescue of innocents outweighs the lack of justice. This perspective is worth considering, but I wonder are we really convincing more people when we will not admit to the logical conclusion that if abortion is murder then those who have abortions are murderers? Aren’t we watering down our argument and showing critics that we don’t really mean what we say? The pro-life movement has been taking the light touch approach ever since Roe V. Wade, and has the pro-life cause been prevailing? Polls show the approval for abortion today is about the same as it was forty years ago, and even if it does save more lives, aren’t we still embracing a dangerous ends justify the means mentality if we agree to ignore the crime of murder to save lives? I’m willing to consider it, but where is the evidence that this strategy even works?

I’m not claiming I have all the answers here, but this is what makes sense to me. If the law is changed to declare abortion illegal, then we must have negative consequences for those who break the law just as we have with every other law. To do otherwise is madness. I’m not saying that women who have abortions should necessarily be thrown in prison. It seems to me that we should give juries a wide latitude between some light fines and a few years in jail. The jury can look at the specific circumstances of each case and make a fair judgment. I can understand some of the concerns of the pro-life crowd that opposes sentences for women who have abortions, and I think much of this is motivated by compassion for the women who have gone through this procedure, and I share the concern for those who have taken an innocent life without truly understanding what they were doing, but we cannot let our desire for mercy negate our duty to justice, and I don’t see how it makes any sense to say that women who murder their children should receive nothing more than a firm scolding. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Border Wall Isn’t a Magic Bullet for Immigration

It seems everywhere in the GOP, candidates are talking about walls. Donald Trump invented the totally new idea of building a wall on the Mexican/American border which nobody had ever considered before him, Ted Cruz also wants to build a wall on the Mexican/American border and oddly held this position before Trump invented it in a strange political coup I can only assume involved time travel and Kasich has apparently beaten his head against a wall repeatedly since he somehow still thinks the American people care about his candidacy. 

Let’s talk about this wall real quick. With some, the question “Why do you support Trump?” is so quickly answered by, “Trump will build the wall,” that it seems as if it might have been adopted as a holy catechism for the Trump disciples. The illegal entires, the drug smuggling, the human trafficking, and the terrorist concerns will all cease the moment the Blessed Donald picks up America’s burdens by laying down the Almighty Wall. 

Can we just take a second to acknowledge the simple fact that building a wall will only solve the immigration crisis if Mexico is completely devoid of ladders?

I didn’t make this video and don’t vouch for the authenticity of it’s figures or claims, but it’s sufficient to point out the limitations of the magic bullet theory of a border wall.

I’m not trashing the wall. I want the wall, but I understand that the wall is only one small part of the solution to immigration reform whereas it seems many haven’t thought about this for more than ten seconds. Many seem to be on a, “Wall good. Illegals bad. Trump build wall,” line of thinking. It’s kind of caveman thought, and I’d just like us to move the conversation up to something post-Enlightenment. 

A wall alone will not be a significant deterrent especially for criminals and terrorists; it can only be effective when paired with other resources. We need night vision capable video surveillance constantly watching every square inch the border so that insertions can be observed and reported, we need a large set of border control agents spread out every few miles so that every illegal entry can be stopped, we need an access road running the length of the nearly two thousand mile border which will allow rapid response to insertion points, we need constant maintenance on the wall, roads and the cameras which will no doubt take malicious damage, we need more detention centers and associated staff for the much greater number of illegal immigrants that will be detained, and to deal with those detainees, we will need a coherent immigration policy that actually deports illegals back to their home country rather than the current catch and release system.

If you’ve been considering this as I’ve rattled off just a few of the things required for an effective border wall, then likely dollar signs have been rolling in your eye sockets because this will take a lot of money, and it’s not just money for the initial wall but a constant financial commitment, yet if we commit, we should then see a significant decrease in illegal immigration.

However even after all this, I suspect we will still have an immigration crisis, and that’s because where there is a will, there will always be a way. Perhaps our time would be better spent eliminating the incentives that bring illegal immigrants to the United States rather than scrambling to stick our fingers in all the holes in this proverbial dike, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The GOP Primary - Whoever Wins…We Lose

I have bad news. Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President of the United States. Looking at the likely potential outcomes of the GOP primary, none of them show a probable path for GOP victory. 

Scenario #1 - Trump Wins the Nomination

Over a third of the Republican Party says they will never pull the lever for Donald Trump in the general election. If these numbers hold true, Trump cannot win. Even if Trump manages to convince two-thirds of Republican holdouts to jump aboard the Trump Train, the remaining ten percent of holdouts would still be enough to scuttle Trump’s Presidential dreams. Some have argued that what Trump loses in Republicans he will gain in independents and Democrats, but there is no evidence for that. In fact, 54% of likely voters of all political stripes would never vote for Donnie. To win, Trump would have to convince people adamantly against him to pull a complete 180, and that rarely happens in politics. Head-to-head polling contests between Trump and Hillary also predict doom; Trump has lost all ten of the last ten match-ups against Hillary never coming within five points of her lead.

Trump stands no significant chance of winning.

Scenario #2 - Cruz Wins the Nomination

In a fair contest, Cruz has a significantly better chance of winning against Hillary. Of the last ten head-to-head match ups, Cruz has won four. However, Cruz cannot secure the primary via statge delegates, so Cruz’s only hope is a contested convention, but contested conventions are and always have been the playground of the GOP establishment, a group which despises Ted Cruz. The establishment could allow the contested convention to proceed with a level playing field or they could back Cruz since he has the best chance of winning the general election, but it’s also possible Obama could become a hardcore conservative tomorrow and fight for the repeal of Obamacare. Sadly, none of these possibilities seem likely. 

Even if Cruz does win, we still have to address the elephant in the room or perhaps more aptly the elephant who will leave the room. At last week’s CNN town hall, Trump has disavowed his promise to back whoever is chosen as the GOP nominee. It’s not hard to imagine Trump running third party either out of spite, ego or delusion, and if he does, 80% of Trump supporters have said they will break from the GOP ranks thereby scuttling a Cruz presidency. 

Scenario #3 - The Establishment Picks a Nominee

Since both Trump and Cruz are anti-establishment candidates in their own ways, it would surprise no one if the GOP rigged the system for a candidate they could more easily control. John Kasich Jeb Bush, Scott Walker or Paul Ryan could all be tapped for the role. 

If you combine the Republican support for Trump and Cruz, you see that a massive 72% of the GOP is sick and tired of the establishment nonsense. Both sides will be infinitely ticked if their candidates are tossed aside for a puppet President. The base will see that the GOP doesn’t care about the choice of it’s constituents, and massive fractures will appear in the party as both Trump and Cruz supporters jump the sinking GOP ship. 


Hillary will almost certainly win, but this problem extends beyond this election. This could easily be the end of the GOP for there’s no likely scenario that results in anything other than a fractured party.