May 26

It’s Time for Demand Side Economics

Here’s a graphic from the Heritage Foundation. I have respect for the organization, and I have friends who have worked there. I am a firm believer in the free market. The realms where we have gutted the free market the most (i.e. higher education and health care), we have seen exponentially rising costs with decreasing value. However, we have been focusing too much on supply side economics in this country. Too much weight is given to an antiquated notion that by reducing taxes and giving subsidies to the top income producers that wealth will trickle down. It doesn’t matter who is in office, Republican or Democrat, we have had varying forms of supply side economics. It did have weight prior to the information age, but now companies can increase their revenue without hiring a single person. Instagram sold for $1 billion with only 13 employees, and there’s many similar examples. The problem with such one-sided focus is that it creates inefficient markets. We are currently in the throes of an inefficiency trend in the market, and the signs are everywhere with too many useless and redundant products, prices not lining up with supply and demand, concentration of wealth, inefficient supply and distribution of labor, increasing corporate malfeasance, and the ratio of cost to value favoring cost.
To re-introduce efficiency back into our market, we need to put some focus on the demand side of economics. I’m not talking about increasing entitlements or government programs, as I don’t think welfare for an individual or corporation promotes responsible behavior. I’m not talking about raising the minimum wage either as that may not be indicative of a current labor market. I’m talking simple tax cuts like many promote for big business. Cutting taxes as an economic stimulus is an old and proven concept, however by focusing it only on the supply side, we are getting marginal returns (another age-old economic concept). It is time that we focus on the demand side until we can realign to a more free market economy.
This is where the graph comes in. The lower 50% income producers pay only 3% of the federal budget. The median household income is $51,939 according to the latest census. In some parts of the country, you can live like a king. But in many parts of the country, especially urban areas, that amount constitutes living a notch or 2 above poverty level unless you’re on the set of Friends. Remember, this is household income, not individual income. Instead of focusing tax cuts on the wealthy, we need to put these cuts in for the lower 50%. If it were up to me, I’d give all families making less than the median income a hefty tax cut or even no taxes at all. I’m sure that if you gave a family making $50K or less a tax cut in a place like New York or DC, every single penny of it will go back into the economy in some form. I doubt that some family barely scraping by is going stash that money away in an offshore account or tax shelter. They will use that money for wellness, recreation, education, durable goods, emergencies, etc. and put every penny of their tax savings into the economy. Even if they manage to save and invest, their thrift would reduce the strain on our safety nets and increase the flow of capital to our markets. The beautiful thing about this is that it will only affect up to 3% of the federal budget, as the graphic from the Heritage Foundation shows. And where will we recoup that 3%? From the millions of people that will inject hundreds of dollars from each pay check to flow upwards to those in the top income brackets
On the flip side, tax cuts to the top tiers have a significant affect on the federal budget, as the chart shows. It’s simple math, 1% of $20 is much less than 1% of $2 billion. It’s apparent in the current hell-or-high-water drive to cut taxes for the wealthiest tier that the only way they can do it is to cut essential services like affordable/accessible health care. Making the lower tiers ‘pay their fair share’ would break our consumer based economy as millions of households would have their buying power reduced with more taxes. Even though the chart shows the disproportionate amount the top 1% contributes to the budget, they are still in the top 1% in the US, which means they are still extremely wealthy even with the current tax situation. However, even if a bottom 50% family gets a 100% tax reduction, they are still living with financial insecurity.
Other than the economic stimulus of a demand side solution, there will be other effects that will stabilize the economy and steer it back toward a truer free market. When consumers have more disposable income, they will vote with their dollars in various sectors as to the products desired and allow businesses to create efficiencies. With a reduction in supply side intervention,aka corporate welfare, there will be less corporate malfeasance and better value for the customer as the market will determine who will get the consumer’s dollars as opposed to who gets their government’s favor. Labor markets will be more efficient as business hire due to increased consumer demand. In those markets where automation or outsourcing has displaced workers, tax relief for the lower tier will allow for more resources towards education and job training in sectors short on labor or provide capital to start a business to meet the needs of the market. With reduced or eliminated tax on the lower income brackets, there will also be less advantage for hiring undocumented workers or incentive to work under the table. With a more efficient labor market, we can reduce unemployment and the need for safety nets, which shrinks the government.
I very much agree that we need tax reform to free up our markets and stimulate the economy. But this time around, it needs to focus on the demand side of the equation.

May 26

School Vouchers – A Conservative Nightmare

As an fiscal conservative, I find the school voucher thing to be one of the most non-conservative ideas out there. When it comes to economics, I’m pretty far right, in that I believe in free markets. The federal government providing vouchers for private schools is not free market at all. It’s not small government either. Often when the federal government throws money at a problem and up-ends the free market, they wind up making the costs higher in the long run. When the feds secured student loans and provided grants, it allowed people who couldn’t afford school to attend college. But over time, as colleges got free money from the feds, they just raised the costs of tuition to quintuple of what it was when I went to college in the 90s. When the adoption credit was installed, it allowed many families to be able to afford to adopt. But adoption agencies over time raised their rates since people were going to get up to a $13,400 tax credit anyway. I am afraid that the voucher system would do the same thing. It would make private school more affordable in the short run, but those schools will also raise their tuition since people will already get a voucher and will still be able to pay more. I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, and we had many cops, firemen, factory workers, tradesmen, etc. that sent their kids to Catholic school. It was possible because those schools were free market, and they had to keep their tuition affordable for the community that they served. I am afraid that over time, the voucher system will cause the tuition rates to rise past where these folks could afford it. It’s happened to colleges, so there’s no reason it can’t happen to private elementary and secondary schools.
From a small government standpoint, the voucher system fails. Instead of the feds being involved in public schools, they will be involved in every single school. My wife used to work for Bethany Christian services as an adoption counselor. The reason why they could have a statement of faith as a requirement is because they didn’t receive any federal funds. Now, you might think you have a very faith-friendly administration, but there’s no guarantee that it will stay that way. You may have a very faith-unfriendly administration next, and you may not like their input on religious education. But by that point, it’s too late. Schools are already dependent on Federal funds, families are already invested in their schools, and the law would be difficult to change.
So there’s some concession to the conservatives in that there could be a tax cut. However, since most public schools are funded through local and state taxes, the tax savings may not be much in the end. If the reduction in federal funding for public schools results in budget shortfalls, where do you think they will seek funding? Local and state taxes. So in the end, there is a strong possibility we may still have higher taxes.
So, coming from a conservative perspective of small government and free markets, I oppose vouchers. It will be a fiscal disaster for the ordinary citizen, and without a doubt, will affect our personal liberty in the long run.

April 4

Anti-Tax and Law and Order Do Not Mix

There’s a contingent in this country that is very much into law and order. The problem is that they also happen to be anti-tax. The bigger problem is that you can’t have it both ways.

Law enforcement costs money. You need to pay the cops, and provide their families benefits. You need to give them a pension or disability after they have had their bodies and minds used up on the job. And then you need to provide for the family when the cop pays the ultimate price to protect their community. Proper training and resources aren’t free. The tools and infrastructure aren’t cheap either. Not only do you have to pay to purchase, you also have to pay to maintain and replace. And there’s all the support staff that you have to pay as well, not to mention third party vendors. Add it all up, and law enforcement is a costly endeavor. The kicker is that if you’re doing it right and on the up and up, nobody is really getting rich from it.

So there’s basically 2 ways to pay for law enforcement: taxes or revenue generated by law enforcement. If money for law enforcement doesn’t come from taxes, then it has to be generated by law enforcement through fines, seizures, fund raisers, etc. And, that’s a real problem. It’s a big problem because it provides motivation for corruption, tyrannical laws, and infringement on human rights. The police will act in ways to meet budgetary needs instead of the needs of the community. Laws will be passed to meet the budgetary needs of the city instead of the needs of the community. Over time, it will build resentment between the community and the police when the cops become tax collectors for the government. Who isn’t going to be mad because they had to pay a ticket for having their barbecue grill too close to the house? There’s many stupid and unnecessary laws out there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are for income generation. Cops may go ‘fishing’ to meet quotas, and could get involved in unnecessary negative interactions and consequences for either the cop or the suspect. There’s laws in some localities that allow the police to seize cash and other property without any proof of guilt, and often force people to waive rights to it. That’s just plain wrong.

Law enforcement should be a non-profit endeavor, otherwise corruption and tyranny will inevitably follow. Law enforcement must be budgeted by taxes, and taxes alone. If the police are doing their job in deterring crime, and the community is law abiding, the police should not go broke because they didn’t have enough tickets to write. And if there is revenue from law enforcement, it should be used to assess future tax needs with the savings passed onto the taxpayer. Another reason why law enforcement budgets must come from taxes alone is so that citizens can be involved in the legislative process behind the taxes and budget. When budgets for departments come from fines and seizures, the citizens do not take an active part in the police budget. If the police force of a town of 1000 wants a SWAT team and an Apache helicopter, let them duke it out in town hall. There, it will get shut down because nobody will pay the tax for it.

The long and short is, if you want real law and order, you have to be willing to pay for it.

April 4

Please Don’t Forget the Boys

I’ve been seeing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) getting a lot of exposure lately, which is great. However, it seems to be almost solely focused on girls. Whether it’s movies like “Hidden Figures” and “Dream Big”, viral videos that focus on girls excelling in science, advertising for STEM education products that feature girls or focus on girls, or articles that highlight women in technology, etc., it seems that most mainstream media regarding science and engineering feature females.

I think it’s great that girls are being encouraged to enter the hard sciences. They have been underrepresented and under-encouraged for too long. We can never have too many scientists because there’s an infinite number of truths to be found, problems to be solved, ideas to be created, and realms to be discovered. But for this same reason, we shouldn’t neglect the boys. When you’re driving on an icy road and you feel yourself sliding off, overcompensating won’t straighten you out. It will cause you to crash, just on the opposite side.

One of the reasons why I’m inspired to write this is that I have a precocious 6 year old boy. He’s tested in the 98th percentile in math. He can add and subtract 4 digit numbers in his head. He understands fractions, as well as multiplication and division. He loves designing things, and playing with mechanics like winches and levers. His dream is to build an AT-AT out of junk cars. And, I know that I’m not the only one with a son like that. There’s lots of boys like that, and they need encouragement and support as much as any girl does. They may also be the one that finds the cure to cancer, revolutionize space travel, or build the better mousetrap.

I understand that there’s been many centuries where girls were discouraged from getting any education, let alone in the hard sciences. I understand that we need to make up for that. However, this generation of boys had no part in the discrimination of years past. The history that they look at will be the one they are living now, not the time when men were the only scientists. Like I said, we can never have too many scientists. So, please, don’t forget the boys.

January 26

In Defense of Sanctuary Cities

There’s alot of talk about sanctuary cities lately, and I figure I’d share some thoughts. Basically a sanctuary city is a place that doesn’t put municipal resources into immigration offenses, which are federal crimes. The city may enact laws, or they may just be a defacto city by their actions and policies.

My defense of a sanctuary city is not because I am pro-illegal immigration. It’s because I’m pro-police. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a neighborhood called Garfield Ridge. The city required that city workers live within city limits, so it seemed that many of them congregated to my neighborhood. There was at least one cop on every block, if not more. These weren’t just cops. They were our neighbors, friends, parents, coaches, scout leaders, and more. They were an integral part of our community. It’s because of my respect and admiration for the police that I support sanctuary cities.

Like I said, a sanctuary city in essence is a city that won’t expend resources towards immigration violations. It doesn’t mean that they won’t enforce criminal laws broken by illegal immigrants, they just won’t enforce immigration laws. It’s not like a cop in LA will say, ‘Hey, that dude’s wanted for murder, but I can’t arrest him because he’s an illegal immigrant’. No, he or she is still going to bust them, put them in jail, and take them to court. What they aren’t going to do is shake down people in the communities that they work in to see if someone is an illegal immigrant. And honestly, I don’t blame them. Especially when there is already a federal agency available to deal with this issue.

Is it any surprise that it’s the big cities that are sanctuary cities? The cops in those cities have enough to deal with as is, let alone take on a gargantuan task of enforcing immigration law. Those cities are taxed enough financially that putting resources into enforcing federal offenses is not possible. There’s a long list of federal crimes, and the police don’t get deeply involved in many of them. Federal crimes consist of things such as tax evasion, aircraft hijacking, mail fraud, civil rights, insurance fraud, etc. There are agencies to deal with federal crimes such the ATF, IRS, DEA, INS, and other acronyms. While the INS can come in and break down doors looking for illegals and then leave town, the local police can’t. They need to work in these communities every day, 24 hours a day. The cops can’t do it alone. They need informants, neighborhood cooperation, liaisons, etc. to do their job effectively. I can’t think of a better way to destroy that other than by making the police harass people who are just minding their own business and not causing trouble. They can’t tell who is here legally or illegally by appearance, so inevitably they will harass American citizens in the process. And even with the best of intentions and caution, the law of averages will dictate that some encounters will go bad. These are things that will turn a community against you. Ask a seasoned cop what it’s like to work in that kind of community. It’s no fun when you’re outnumbered and even the good people are against you. Even the roughest of communities love it when the cops take out the bad guys, but messing with the good people is an effective way to go from hero to villain. A cop’s job is hard enough as it is, no need to add an extra job that makes their primary job more difficult or more dangerous. Not only do I want every cop to come home to their family after work safe, I also want them to come home sane.

But why would they want more to come to their city? Simple, it’s money. They use public transportation, rec centers, etc. that generate revenue for the city. Illegal immigrants pay city taxes that can’t be skirted the way federal taxes can. They pay sales tax, tax on cars, tax on booze, tax on property and so on, while being limited in the benefits they receive due to their non-citizen status.  They can’t form voting blocs, and their main benefit is education and emergency room visits. Education is usually paid for by property taxes, so they are either paying or helping someone pay their property tax. So, that leaves emergency room visits as their main benefit. In the meantime, they are paying local taxes and boosting economies by being consumers and starting businesses. But aren’t they inviting more crime? Possibly, but in my experience, most illegal immigrants keep their head down and keep clean. While a white college student walking home drunk will get a ticket and possibly be kept in jail to sober up to go home, an illegal immigrant would get arrested and deported which would result in a greater consequence. Because of this, most avoid even minor violations. Sure, there are gangs and criminals, and I know that full well from growing up in Chicago. However, the percentage of that community that commit crimes is really no different than many others. Of course, undocumented immigrants will be a higher percentage of federal crime because immigration violation is a federal crime.

Obviously, there’s an immigration issue in America. There’s 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country to prove that. However, adding additional burdens to the local police isn’t going to help. It may even harm in that it will add additional work to already over stressed municipalities. Maybe the sheriff’s department of a county with a population of 1000 can do it, but certainly not in LA where you have less than 10,000 cops for a city of almost 4 million.

November 23

Being Pro-Life Is More Than Pro Birth

Since one of those memories came up on Facebook, and abortion is once again talked about in this election, I figured I would share a little more of the story of our late daughter Sammie. I think we need more real life stories and thoughts based on first hand experience, so feel free to share.
2 years ago, we found out we were pregnant. We were ecstatic, and in disbelief. We always wanted more kids, but we weren’t spring chickens (43 and 45). Finding out we were expecting felt like a miracle to us. However, after 20 weeks when we went to find out the gender of the baby we found out our daughter had trisomy 13, a rare genetic condition that rendered a child incompatible with life. Her organs weren’t developing as they should, and the hemispheres of her brain weren’t developing either. If she were to survive to birth, her time on earth would be truncated. She could live a few minutes or a few months. Of course we were presented the option to terminate the pregnancy. My wife and I are very pro-life people, and to be honest, the option briefly crossed our minds. It would have been in some ways an easier option. However, it was not the better option.
We relished each moment of our pregnancy with our son, and our daughter deserved no less just because we knew the outcome. We wanted to cherish every moment, and do whatever we could for our daughter during her brief time on this earth. Even though she didn’t have a properly developing brain, she could taste. She loved chocolate and would jump in the womb whenever my wife would drink hot cocoa. She didn’t do that with tea or coffee, but certainly for chocolate. Definitely a girl.
This baby wanted to be born, and as parents, we did what we could to make it happen. So, on Feb 23rd 2015, our daughter Samuelle Hope Lee was born. It was wonderful, even though it was brief. She was baptized, and shortly thereafter she died in my arms. To leave this earth in the arms of someone who loves you is a blessing all of us hope to have, and I’m blessed to have given that to my daughter.
My wife and I were blessed to be able to do this. BLESSED! This wasn’t just some grit your teeth and bear it for principles type of thing. We were blessed to be able live out our beliefs. There were a number of factors that enabled us to do this, and we are humbled that we could do what we did. And not having one of those many factors would have made this extremely more difficult, if not impossible.
Health insurance – I have health insurance through my work that helped cover some of the medical expenses. The life insurance policy covered the death of a child, which helped with some of the expenses. The OB/GYN that we worked with was also pro-life, and his office waived our fees. But even with all that, we still had to pay around $3K in medical expenses. For some that might just be a weekend getaway, but for many others, it can mean financial distress.
Family leave – Going through something like this was difficult, and I was fortunate that my job would let me take leave or work from home during this time. I was able to go to almost all the doctor’s appointments to give my wife support as we heard increasingly bad news with each visit. I was able to be at the hospital for Sammie’s birth, as well as for her funeral, and to be at home to grieve. They were also willing to let me be home for however number of days Sammie would be alive. I probably took around 20-30 days of leave or work from home during that time. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t or if I lost that many days of pay.
Support – My wife and I had an embarrassment of riches when it came to support. From our friends, our church, our families, our son’s school, my wife’s MOPS group, to people we never met before, we had a wealth of support. I tear up whenever I think of the support we received and how much it meant to us. One of our friends set up a crowd-funding site to help us cover medical and funeral expenses. Without it, our funeral expenses would have cost us over $6K and that is with the funeral home only charging us the cost of materials which was basically a modest urn. Sammie’s final resting place is a modest slot in a wall at the local cemetery. Much better than having our loved and wanted daughter disposed as medical waste.
Here’s the part where I’m going to get on a soapbox. If we are truly pro-life, we have to do more than oppose abortion. 9 pro-life Supreme Court justices and Roe vs Wade being overturned will not solve the issue because there is just so much more to it than that. It requires meaningful actions. Actions that allowed us to choose life. Actions that will allow others to choose life. Actions that will make life a better alternative to abortion.
Like I said, we were blessed to have factors line up in our favor to choose life. I would like others to have that blessing as well. People need access to health care, period. We need to fight for affordable access to healthcare for everyone. We cannot be truly pro-life without supporting it. If our health care costs were expensive for a child that lived minutes, imagine the costs for a child that lives a full life span or a child with more intense, prolonged medical needs. Without access to affordable healthcare, abortion will always be the cheaper option.
To truly be pro-life, we have to support paid family leave for all. It has to go beyond 2 weeks of vacation and 6 days of sick leave. I would like everyone to have the time needed for the birth of a child, regardless of the child’s health or longevity. I would like the parents of children with special needs to have the time available to tend to their children’s needs and go to doctor’s appointments, social work meetings, etc. I would like the parents of ‘normal’ kids to have the time for the curveballs that life throws at them. Family leave and access to affordable health care is crucial when it comes to the birth of any child.
If you oppose abortion and oppose the means to affordable healthcare and family leave, you’re not pro-life. You’re heartless.
As people of life, we have to be willing to give our support to one another. We were so blessed by our support, and I hope for anyone going through even a fraction of what we went through to have an abundance of it like we did. I hope those that go through long-term trials, like a child with special needs to have much more than what we had. Before you post in a comments section or a meme somewhere, how about considering someone going through a difficult pregnancy. Consider someone with a difficult child. Consider ways that you can help. Pray for them, even if you don’t know one personally, because they are out there. Many practical needs are neglected due to caring for a child, so help with meals, chores, or whatever. Be with them during difficult times, and withhold judgement because they are often judging themselves enough. Encouragement is needed exponentially more than criticism.
If we are to be truly pro-life, we have to go beyond just pro birth. We have to make life a better option than abortion, regardless of the circumstance. We were blessed to be able to choose life, and I want to afford that blessing to everyone. We shouldn’t create obstacles to choosing life. We need to remove them. Remove them for everyone, not just the people we like.

June 20

Can You Tell the Difference Between a Christian/Muslim?

Here’s a little quiz to see how well you can differentiate between a Muslim or Christian by appearance. Take a look at each photo, and select whether the people in the picture are Christian or Muslim.

Muslim or Christian?





Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-05-18 15:20:34Z | | http://codecarvings.comtú






June 10

The Letter That Dan Turner Should Have Sent To Brock

Dear Brock,

What the hell is wrong with you? Is this how we brought you up?!?!?!

You do not take advantage of people who are helpless, incapacitated, or in need of help, PERIOD. We’ve tried to pound that into you from the time you were a child. Whether it’s a retarded kid at school, a handicapped guy on the street, or a drunk girl at a frat party, you don’t take advantage of them. It’s wrong, and I’m absolutely ashamed that you committed such a terrible act. What if the girl you found was unconscious from a diabetic episode, or as a result of an injury? Regardless of how she got there, you weren’t supposed to be taking advantage of her. You should have been helping to find her friends so that she could be taken home safely. If not, call the paramedics to make sure she is OK. People do die of alcohol poisoning, you know.

Please don’t give me the ‘I was drunk excuse’. You are underage. What the #$%* were you doing drinking in the first place? That’s already against the law, and enough to cause us problems as-is. But, you had to add a rape charge as well? What the #$%*.

I thought you were a good kid. We moved to a great neighborhood, enrolled you in the best schools, took you to various activities, so that we could give you the best opportunities we could and mold you into a decent person. Now, I have to wrestle with the fact that after all that effort, you’re not the good kid we thought you were. Brock, please tell me what kind of decent person attacks a helpless person? A decent person would have helped that person, instead of trying to take advantage of them. I thought I had taught you better, but obviously I failed to get through to you. I’m going to have to live with that for the rest of my life, and to be honest I haven’t slept well since I heard the news. It’s not just the jail time, expulsion, etc that keeps me up at night. It’s the knowledge that my son, whom I love dearly, would commit such a terrible act that will have permanent damage to another person. Your mother and I feel like failures because even though you succeeded in so many of your endeavors, you have failed to learn compassion and empathy.

You have laid to waste years, dollars, and energies that your mother and I have spent on you. The early morning swim practices, the tournaments, private coaching, that we sacrificed on your behalf is all wasted. Your swimming career is over. You’re not going to the Olympics ever, and I doubt another school is going to take you as a swimmer, let alone as a student. I remember how excited we were when you were accepted to Stanford. Even though the cost was the equivalent of a buying a house, we were excited at the opportunity regardless of the cost. Well, tens of thousands of dollars and lots of excitement have gone down the tube. You’re not allowed to step foot onto Stanford ever again. We won’t be getting a refund on tuition, and instead have a heap of legal bills to pay. All that for 20 minutes of ‘action’.

Brock, your mother and I love you with all our hearts and we’ll stand by you through this. However, you still need to be accountable for your actions. We tried to teach you that actions have consequences, and this is one of those tough lessons. Just be thankful that you are only getting 6 months of jail time and 3 years probation. It could be whole lot worse for you, and honestly it should be. You will do your time as a model prisoner. You will keep squeaky clean during your probation, and afterwards. You will need to move back home with us since you have not proven to be capable of living on your own. If anything, you proved to us that if you think no-one is looking, you are capable of doing some pretty evil things. You will need to get some type of job, and hopefully someone will hire you amidst all the negative press you have been getting. We have a lot of legal fees to pay, and you need to contribute somehow. Also, you need to pay retribution to that girl for her legal and medical fees. It’s the very least you can do.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to rebound from this and learn the lesson of a lifetime and become a person you and I can be proud of. It begins with taking responsibility for your actions. I will not let this moment define you. Remember, you are not the victim in this situation. You were the perpetrator. I will not allow you to use this as an excuse for future failure, period. You may not be an Olympic swimmer from Stanford anymore, but you will make something of yourself. You owe it to me, to that girl, and most of all to yourself.


May 10

What If We Treated Drugs Like Guns?

Drugs can be used to treat a number of conditions and save lives, but they can also be abused and cause harm. An epi-pen can save a person going into anaphylactic shock from an allergy in a similar way that a well timed and aimed bullet can save the life of person endangered by an intruder. A nitroglycerin shot given to someone suffering from a heart attack can save a life similar to armed police intervening in a life or death situation. On the flip side, opiates administered improperly or abused can result in someone suffering grave health complications or even death similar to a shot that misses it’s intended mark. When you look at it that way, drugs are not that different than a gun in that they are tools used in life saving situations that can be abused for criminal means.

So what if we treated drugs the way we treat guns in the least restrictive states for guns? Here’s what it would look like.

In some states, it is legal for a firearm to be transferred between unlicensed parties. If I applied that to drugs, that would mean that if I get a prescription for an opioid like Oxycontin or Percocet, I would be able to distribute that to anyone legally. I don’t need to be a pharmacist, doctor, or any type of medical professional. I don’t need approval from a professional or government agency either to make the transfer. I could sell or give away my prescription drugs to anyone with no legal penalty. The person receiving the drugs won’t need a prescription, and could get these drugs from anyone with a prescription that is willing to sell it to them.

In some states, there is no ban on assault weapons. Some states have no limit in the amount of ammunition purchases, and allow for guns to be purchased in bulk. In the drug world, that would mean that I could get any dosage of a drug that I want. If the doctor suggests that I should only get 50 milligrams, I have the right to a 500 milligram dose whether I actually need it or want. Powerful drugs that would otherwise be on the list of controlled substances would be free for anyone to get as long as they can pay for it. I can purchase as much morphine, Percocet, Oxycontin, etc. as my heart desires to use or keep around in case of emergency.

Some states don’t even require you to get a license to own a firearm or register a firearm if you own it. Some states don’t have a waiting period either. Applying that to drugs would mean that I would be free to get any drug I want whether I get a doctor’s prescription or not. I could get my drugs from the pharmacy without any paperwork, and then distribute it as I see fit. The government has no business in whether I have drugs, or the amount that I have. I could have a stockpile of opiates and amphetamines in my basement to use and distribute without a prescription, and the government would have keep their nose out of it.

Some states don’t allow local governments to regulate guns. So if a community is stricken with an epidemic of hydrocodone use, the mayor and police force have no say in how they will regulate it. They won’t be allowed to regulate the drugs other than from the state or federal government.

Some states don’t require the reporting of mental health information for gun sales. Some don’t require any background check. Some don’t have age restrictions for unlicensed sellers, meaning that they can sell a gun to any kid. That would mean that anyone could get an opiate, even if they have mental illness, drug abuse problems, or a criminal record. Anyone would be able to sell children drugs such as Vicodin, Valium and amphetamines.

Aside from the laws, let’s talk about policy. There’s some gun pundits that want to arm teachers? But do we want to let them bring opiates to class, even if it may be to help a student with chronic pain? If there was a spike in the death of people from opiates, should we block studies into the nature and effect of the issue because it might restrict our use of opiates? If kids die from overdoses, should we just chalk it up to the price we pay for the freedom to use medicine?

In short, are we cool with allowing drugs to be accessed in the same way as guns? Probably not.

I do believe in our right to bear arms, and I don’t want to do away with guns anymore than I want to do away with medicine. They both serve a useful purpose. Drugs can be used recreationally, just like guns, but we outlaw the recreational use of drugs. Drugs can be abused, just like guns, thus they are controlled. Drugs can save and protect lives, just like guns. What I don’t understand is how the regulation of one seems like common sense, while the other is seen as an affront to our liberty. Doesn’t restricting access to medicine infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens who would never abuse it? Shouldn’t people have the ability to stockpile medicine in the case of government tyranny, economic collapse, war, or other emergency? Why do we allow the government to control the medicine we have access to without batting an eyelash? Why are new regulations around drugs considered business as usual, thus not even a topic for debate?

Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, it’s something to think about.

May 10

Shaming Welfare Recipients

I see a trend in the media towards shaming the poor. It’s sad really, but I could possibly see how shame might make people want to change their ways and rise up. If that’s the case, I feel we need to enact similar measures for recipients of corporate welfare. Maybe if they were shamed, they would straighten up and fly right. We can’t expect responsible corporate citizenship or incentive to succeed if we continue to bail them out. You know what they say about handouts, when people get things for free they don’t appreciate it or take care of it. I feel we should apply the similar measures of accountability for corporate welfare.

The annual cost of welfare in the United States was $1.03 trillion in 2011. That is alot of money that welfare recipients were leeching off of tax payers. However, the great bank bailout of 2008 cost approximately $29 trillion, enough to fund the welfare system for 28 years. That’s a stupid amount of money that was leeched from the tax payer. That’s just one bailout. There’s been others before it. Aside from bailouts, there’s subsidies that are given to corporations in the billions of dollars. These aren’t tax credits or favorable tax laws, they are hand-outs given to companies. How can we expect excellence in business management when we are constantly bailing out businesses or giving them free money? We need to create incentives to get off corporate welfare as we do for getting off of consumer welfare.

So, what would it look like? Here’s one man’s vision……

Every company that receives federal funds should be required to carry a corporate welfare card to make company purchases similar to SNAP or EBT. The general public should be able to see what their tax dollars are purchasing for the recipient company whether it’s at the office supply store, restaurant, hotel, or major sporting event. People who see them using the card are free to pass their judgement quietly or out loud. Maybe someone can even film it and post it on YouTube to go viral. But, once the company is no longer receiving subsidies or pay back their debt to the government, they can stop using the corporate welfare card.

Every company that receives corporate welfare should have limits on what they can purchase. Similar to how welfare recipients aren’t allowed to use that money for movies, casinos, lobster, steak, etc., there should be limits on what recipients of corporate welfare can purchase. If you are receiving corporate welfare, you should not be allowed to use corporate funds for sporting events, concert tickets, 5 star hotels, expensive meals, or anything that can be deemed a luxury. We shouldn’t have our tax dollars wasted on luxuries, right? I can’t afford steak and lobster, so why should a company buy it with my tax dollars? Of course when you are able to stand on your own without government aid, you can spend your money any way you please.

Top executives for companies receiving bailouts and subsidies should be subject to regular and random drug testing. Not only do we want to avoid having our tax dollars used on illegal drugs, but these executives shouldn’t have their decision making abilities clouded by drugs because of how many lives they may affect. I would expand to prohibiting alcohol use because of how often deals are made over drinks, and these deals could have adverse effects on the economy. They have shown by their poor decisions that they are not capable of handling drugs or alcohol. But, once the company is no longer receiving funds or have paid back their debt, they can drink, smoke, snort, pop, and inject to their heart’s desire within local, state, and federal limits. At that point, it’s not our tax dollars at stake.

Companies that receive corporate welfare would be required to report to their counselor regularly so they can verify that they are looking for new work and improvements for their business. If the company does not, then all future welfare payments will be revoked. If the recipients aren’t doing anything to help themselves, why should we keep on supporting them?

For industry level events, there should be separate tables, entrances, events, etc. to differentiate between recipients of corporate welfare and those that don’t. You can’t let companies that are leeching off the public have the same benefits as those that don’t. It wouldn’t be fair to the companies that are responsible and conducting good business to get the same level of service and prestige as those that don’t. Plus, it will give the leeches something to reach for.

Instead of shows like The Briefcase or Bum Fights, we should have similar shows for recipients of corporate welfare. The ratings would go through the roof if you have shows like this. You can have CEOs of failing corporations that are in need of a bailout enter a game show where only one CEO will get the bailout. The others lose their jobs, face lawsuits, and live with the legacy of driving a once successful company to it’s grave. The potential for this would be unreal. You could mix and match elements of Survivor, The Bachelor, American Idol, WWE Wrestling, Shark Tank, Hunger Games, Japanese game shows, and more for an unlimited amount of entertainment. Just imagine what you could do with this. The money that could be made from viewers and sponsors would probably be enough to fund bailouts and subsidies for the winning companies. This would be reality TV in the extreme with real life consequences. How can anyone not watch it? This would be so big that it would be like printing money. These guys are getting my tax dollars, so why not get some entertainment out of it?

In all seriousness, I believe in the free market and corporate welfare goes against it. The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, but the market should instead. In the same way that consumer welfare diminishes motivation and incentive to act responsibly, corporate welfare does the same. The goal of both should be to have recipients off the roll as soon as possible. But, as a government and society, we focus way too much on those who cost us the least, while giving a pass to those who cost us the most. We have too many disincentives for those receiving consumer welfare, but not enough for those receiving corporate welfare. We have too many punishments for mishandling of consumer welfare and restrictions to prevent it, but very little for corporate welfare. One baby mama mishandling her $300 monthly welfare check can’t do nearly the damage that a corporation mishandling billions of dollars can. Time to apply things evenly. Effective use of our tax dollars depends on it.