Archive for April, 2011

Criminalizing Brown-Bag Lunches

Since most of my early school years were spent in foreign countries where there were no government-subsidized meals, taking my lunch to school was something my siblings and I did as a matter of course. Almost invariably, the contents consisted of a sandwich, some fruit, a thermos of milk or chocolate milk, and a small treat.

Now, thanks to Nanny-staters in Chicago, the venerable brown-bag lunch may become a thing of the past; the latest victim of a drive to place virtually every aspect of growing up, in the hands of government officials who claim a monopoly on knowing what’s best for children.

While certainly many parents are not particularly good parents, and often make mistakes in teaching children appropriate life lessons and good habits, to conclude from that truism that such decision-making is better in the hands of government employees, is an even worse decision.

Schools, of course, have long been a refuge for nanny-staters at all levels of government. Our current …

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The wages of profligate spending is economic death

The Bible famously teaches us in Romans 6:23 that the “wages of sin is death.” Given the warnings we have received recently from Wall Street and the International Monetary Fund, we should now realize that the wages of profligate spending is economic death.

In an unprecedented move last week, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the long-term debt outlook for the United States to “negative.” S&P noted that the lack of adults in the room willing to deal with ever-increasing national debt and long-term budget problems, such as unfunded liabilities represented by entitlement programs, could result in a lowering of long-term debt rating “within two years.” As you can imagine, Wall Street did not react well to the news as stocks fell by 1 percent the day the S&P released the statement.

Such an action would compound an already dire situation, for example, by increasing the costs associated with borrowing to finance debt. Perhaps even more troubling is that we may soon be overtaken by China …

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Missile System Program Costs US Dearly

Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist whose convoluted contraptions for accomplishing simple tasks delighted generations of comic-strip readers passed away in 1970; but his ghost still roams the halls of the Pentagon. His guiding hand can be seen clearly in a project initiated in the mid-1990’s, known by its acronym MEADS (short for Medium Extended Air Defense System). MEADS was to replace the PATRIOT anti-missile system which is in need of modernization.

If ever there was a textbook example of how the government should not develop a program, MEADS would be the poster child. Like the never-ending lawsuit described by Charles Dickens in “Bleak House,” Jarndyce v. Jarndyce,  MEADS has continued inexplicably to drain US taxpayer resources for a decade and a half. However, thanks to recent adverse publicity and some unusually pointed questioning by freshman Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), taxpayers may soon finally be rid of this white elephant.

MEADs has been plagued with problems from the …

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Animal “Rights” Whackos Target Foie Gras

God Bless the animal rights loonies.  They can, temporarily at least, relieve our minds of having to deal with truly important issues.

The nation’s debt is well in excess of $14 trillion; and despite much rhetoric to the contrary by both major parties in Washington, our annual deficits continue at unsustainable levels.  Our military is involved in an eight-year old conflict in Iraq, and another that is a decade long, in Afghanistan; both matters that drain significant national economic and personal resources.  Our federal Energy Department, created nearly two generations ago with the express purpose of reducing our country’s reliance on foreign energy sources, has failed miserably at its primary task, even as it continues to cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year.  And, this administration, like its predecessor, continues to infringe Americans’ privacy and other civil liberties, as if the Bill of Rights were a quaint but no longer relevant afterthought to the …

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Shoot an Armed Robber, Face Prosecution

Hypothetical fact pattern: You’re in a retail business minding your own business, when suddenly several armed robbers burst in and order you and the other people present, to lie face down on the floor.  In searching one of the other customers, the robbers discover he is an off-duty police officer who has a handgun in a belt holster.  The criminals begin to pistol whip and grapple with the off-duty officer; who is able to fire a round or two before being wounded himself and dropping his pistol.  You are able to pick up that firearm and fire at the then-fleeing robbers, wounding one or two of them.

Question: Are you hailed as a hero?

Answer: If this occurred in New York City, not only are you not hailed as a hero, but you face potential prosecution because you fired a gun belonging to someone else.

Note: This is not a hypothetical.  It is a real incident that took place in New York just last week.  The man who picked up the police officer’s handgun and used it to try and stop …

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Ryan Plan Merits Serious Consideration

Amid much reciprocal back-slapping, congressional leaders and the Obama Administration recently came to terms on a budget for the rest of the current fiscal year, which lasts through September.  The deal will cut $38.5 billion in federal spending.

That may sound like a lot of money, and all parties involved in the budget negotiations are claiming victory because they avoided a “shutdown” of the federal government and managed to cut a “record” amount of spending.

Members of Congress can congratulate themselves all they want, but what these Democrats and Republicans have done is hardly a profile in greatness. These spending cuts are only a tiny fraction of the projected $1.6 trillion current-year budget deficit; and are hardly worth comparing to the real elephant in the room – our nations massive, $14.2 trillion national debt.

In January 2007, the new House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, promised there would be “no new deficit spending.” Democrats had hammered the reckless spending of …

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Carrying Viagra Can Land You in Jail

Louis Murphy, who used to play football at the University of Florida and who now plays professionally for the Oakland Raiders, found out the hard way that a person can be arrested, thrown in jail, and formally charged with criminal offenses, for doing nothing more than toting some prescription pills in the wrong container.

It isn’t as if the pills Murphy was carrying were mind-altering, controlled substances such as methamphetamine.  All the poor guy had was some Viagra pills. He was initially stopped for having his car stereo too loud; and a subsequent search of his car yielded the dreaded, non-prescription-labeled blue pills.

The circumstances under which such action can be taken against an otherwise law-abiding citizen based on an unnecessary law such as this one in Florida (and which is on the books in Georgia, as well), go well beyond the situation in which Murphy found himself.  In fact, anyone who might consider placing prescription pills in one of those plastic …

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Nanny-State Legislature To End . . . Mercifully

You can soon stop guarding your wallets; the Georgia General Assembly is scheduled to wrap up another session this week; but not before dealing with several items still on the agenda. Legislators will be working feverishly in these final hours to ensure that their priorities are passed, so they can return home and crow to their constituents they have “done something.”   Some of their constituents, however, may not be as enamored of what the Republican-controlled legislature has done this session as are the legislators themselves; particularly from the standpoint of diminishing their personal liberties.

Republicans gained full control of the legislature in 2005 after sitting in the minority since Reconstruction. They promised to rein in the size of state government, which they had complained had grown significantly under Democrats.

The criticism was well-founded, but Republicans have done nothing to alter the trend; in fact, they have accelerated it. Until the effects of the …

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Law enforcement slush funds?

“Transparency” has become a hackneyed buzzword in politics. Every politician is a champion of “transparency”; looking to score points by pushing or promoting legislation that would bring a greater degree of sunlight to one governmental process or the other. Just a few days ago, however, a public interest law firm, the Institute for Justice (“IJ” for short), filed suit in Fulton County to force certain government agencies to actually practice “transparency,” not just talk about it.

The issue at hand is whether law enforcement agencies throughout Georgia must actually disclose how they spend monies and other “assets” obtained through the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws.  These laws, on the books for many years, permit law enforcement to take seized cash or property believed to have been obtained through unlawful acts, even though the owner of the money or the property may never be convicted of a crime. The problem is, a number of law enforcement agencies are seizing large …

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The pastor with a doctorate in stupidity

In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Henry Jones (played by Sean Connery) – father of the protagonist – tells a Nazi SS officer, “goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them,” referring to the burning of books that Adolf Hitler’s regime found to be offensive to his ideology.

The suggestion is one that Terry Jones, the self-proclaimed Florida pastor (and no relationship to the Indiana Jones), who made news last year by announcing he would burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, should follow.

Jones eventually backed down from his threat, giving his word he would not burn Islam’s holy book, after outcry from across the global.  But promises are not what they used to be, even for a pastor.

On March 20th, Jones’ self-styled “church,” the Dove World Outreach Center, put the Quran on “trial” for what he called “International Judge the Quran Day.” The pastor acted as the judge over the …

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