Two for One is Dumb. Three Branches is Smart

Trump signs ‘2-for-1’ order to reduce regulations

Study: Trump has eliminated $86B in regulations

Seven regulations targeted by Trump

Trump White House tells agencies to halt regulations

Wrong, wrong, wrong! This is not the way to build a legacy. Ask the last president.

Regulations persist because interest groups know how to exploit them for their own gain. These groups dismiss the wrack-and-ruin this brings to our political system, and the erosive effect their gains have on our freedoms.

So give ’em what they want. Punish them with their own regulations. Unleash hundreds if not thousands of punitive actions. Make clear the choice between dismantling the Regulatory State, and tyranny.

FDR’s legacy was the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) the legal basis for today’s Regulatory State. Tomorrow’s legacy goes to the president who signs the Administrative Restructuring Act (ARA), which puts the rule of law back into Federal rule-making.

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Bring Them Out from the Nations, Bring Them into Their Own Land

I envision a community where refugees are not only welcome but sought out. They are recognized not only for the contributions they bring to our community, but for the best they bring out in ourselves.

We welcome them into our homes. We care for them as they adapt to their new surroundings. We are family.

We know, intimately, where to seek help for our refugee guests. We step in when guest children have problems at school. We work with parents to build skills needed for work. We help with child care.

Ours is a community that builds friendships that last a lifetime: that ‘go viral’ as guests later become hosts for the next wave of refugees.

We are a global community, with shared values, and shared experiences to back up those values.

We are ‘The Refugee Capital of the World’. We are Guantanamo Bay City .

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Not All Votes Are Created Equal

AGENT: How may I help you?
CLIENT: I’m calling for an increase in my credit line.
AGENT: I see you’re calling from your home phone. Just a few security questions?
CLIENT: Yep.
AGENT: Which of these cars have you never owned? Ford Falcon, Dodge Caravan, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Blazer.
CLIENT: Chevy Blazer.
AGENT: You recently made a large purchase with your credit card. What was the merchant’s name?
CLIENT: Sears.
AGENT: Name all the streets on this list where you once lived: Placid, Westmoreland, Chesney, Manor.
CLIENT: Placid, Manor.
AGENT: Good. Sorry for the questions but they’re for your safety. Now let’s get to your credit line.

We know how to validate your identity for business transactions: credit cards, online purchases, loans, car rentals, etc. Why can’t we do the same for your vote?

Politics. Some (blue) states go as far as to prohibit asking for voter identification.

Here’s the law Congress should make regarding election regulations (and it’s not voter ID cards).

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We the People of the United States

We have a new U.S. Constitution to consider! I’m happy to announce the conclusion of the 2020 mock Constitutional Convention at the U.S. Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Highlights of the new (mock) Constitution include:

  • Caps on Federal spending, debt and personal taxes
  • A national voter registry, and greater protections for provisional voting
  • Birthright citizenship requires at least one parent was a citizen
  • Apportionment and redistricting based on citizens who are registered voters, not population

We ask you to judge this (mock) constitution in its entirety. There’s something here for everyone. Partisans will attack specific provisions. But recall many compromises were made to reach consensus.

This constitution represents the will of the American people: it was crafted by delegates from a broad cross-section of America, as chosen by lottery and merit.

Their stated goal was to build a mock constitution that had the best chance of mock ratification. As chairman of the U.S. Constitution Center I think they’ve achieved their goal. They deserve your sincere thanks and respect as you debate the merits of their work.

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Dear NASA,

I’m writing to thank you for my family’s vacation of a lifetime. The staff and logistics for my Moon Excursions vacation exceeded my expectations. I had previously climbed Everest on a trekking expedition, but the Moon Excursion is by far the summit of all my travel adventures.

Our day at the International Space Station Towers, accommodations going to the moon, and the room (and view) at Tranquility Towers: wonderful! What an amazing starry sky!

Our activities on the moon were great: the day-long Lunar Rover tour, the lunar observatory, low gravity bungee jumping. I’m a great golfer on the moon. My kids loved seeing the robotic construction sites and the automated greenhouses. The ‘cow over the moon’ banquet was endearing.

I recommend no one miss the low moon orbit tour, even with its additional cost. There are not enough superlatives to describe what it feels like to fly over the back side of the moon at 5,000 feet.

My only regret is I didn’t reserve more slots, to take my future grandkids. It looks like it’s only going to get better.

Continue reading “Dear NASA,”

What I’d Tell the New President

Move quick. Give no time for the opposition to mobilize. Bundle dozens of major acts of legislation into a single omnibus bill (my list has 30). Force this bill through Congress over all objections. You’ve got 1 month.

Each act in the omnibus bill has a name, a purpose and section headings. That’s it.

Name: Living Wage Act
Purpose: Ensure every working citizen earns enough for life’s basic needs
1. Labor Vouchers
2. Negative Federal Deductions on Paychecks

All new legislation is a work-in-process . These will just need more work.

The administration gets 12 months to fill in the details (and how to make it sticky). Congress can then vote to reject the results. If not, the act in all its details gets signed into law.

Amendment free. Filibuster free. Protest free. Resistant to lobbyists. Resistant to changes in majority party in Congress.

And don’t forget to thank the prior administration for making all this possible.

Hack-Proofing Legislation

The Senate today approved President Williams’ treaty where a Russian-led consortium will build and provide 10% of our nation’s electrical power using coal-fired and micro-nuclear plants. The 50 year agreement gives embassy-level sovereignty to over 100 sites in the U.S. for construction and operation of these new plants. U.S. businesses and households will see an estimated 10% reduction in energy costs (aka Taxpayer Repayment Using Metered Paydowns). Construction and operation of these facilities will be by U.S. labor.

Russia in turn agrees to pull out of the contested Crimea Ashawr pass, and will yield further concessions to de-escalate military tensions in the region.

President Williams, commenting on the agreement, stated “This is a vital addition to the U.S. infrastructure. We ensure a reliable baseline of energy for the U.S. power grid and we open up markets for alternative sources of energy, needed for peak loads. Also, I’m confident this agreement will defuse tensions in the Crimea and will lead to further economic and military cooperation between our two great nations.”

Included in the treaty are lands and licenses for the consortium to spearhead exploration and exploitation of oil & gas reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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Living Wage

Everyone should earn a Living Wage. But that’s not the same as mandating a minimum wage.

The minimum wage is a tax. It’s a tax that targets businesses most frequented by the poor (and near poor), both as workers and as customers. Microsoft and Apple Computer do not pay this tax.

And it’s a pernicious tax in that the more substitutes I can find for low-skilled labor the less I pay.

The Poor end up shouldering the bulk of this tax in the form of the higher prices they pay for the goods they buy, and in fewer choices for entry-level, low-skilled jobs.

You ever notice the first stores to close in a retail chain consolidation are those in poor neighborhoods?

Instead of the minimum wage, spread the cost of providing a Living Wage across the entire economy. If you’re a U.S. citizen and work 40 hours a week, in full- or part-time jobs, we as a nation make you whole up to a Living Wage.

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Immigration

Here’s a program that can help The Donald fulfill two of his campaign promises: fewer illegal immigrants and a more level playing field for U.S. labor vis-à-vis foreign competition.

Provide $20K in non-transferable vouchers to all 18+ U.S. citizens not receiving Social Security. The vouchers discount the cost of the employee to their employers by $20K.

Pay for these vouchers with a special full-employment tax levied on every company doing business in USA (including foreign firms).

The program overall is tax neutral: voucher reimbursements equal tax payments. The only excess receipts are small monies collected to administer the program.

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Abortion

Abortion is wrong and pro-life advocates should continue with their current tactics to make it less accessible. We must work hard toward the eventual elimination of abortion, something that will take more patience than was needed to bring down the Berlin wall.

With that introduction, why should pro-choice advocates read this article? Because I’m going to show them how to derail the pro-life movement.

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Chump Index

We are one nation. If a particular region is doing well we expect that region to help the rest of the nation. If oil & gas revenues are flowing in a particular region then we as a nation (partially) share in that bounty. Later when the oil & gas runs dry the rest of the nation reciprocates.

That’s the share-the-wealth concept behind municipal grants.

I earlier proposed a confederated tax scheme where states collect Federal taxes on behalf of their residents using alternate taxes. Individuals calculate their Federal taxes using the Federal tax code and the state pays the tax on behalf of their residents using, for example, a tax on oil & gas revenues.

Begs the question as to the appropriate Federal tax code under a confederated tax scheme. How should we collect Federal taxes so as to more equitably share-the-wealth, promoting the ‘one nation’ ideal?

The data may surprise you.

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Ace in the Hole

You pick up the paper, you read about 84 men or 284, or a million men, like in the Chinese famine. You read it, but it doesn’t stay with you. One man’s different. You wanna know all about him. That’s human interest. Somebody all by himself, like Floyd Collins. You never heard of Floyd Collins? 1925. Kentucky. The guy pinned way down in that cave. One of the biggest stories that ever broke. Front page in every paper in the country for weeks. – Wilder, B., Douglas, K., Sterling, J., & Arthur, R. (1951). Ace in the Hole.

One spectacular crime swamps human interest drowning out the millions of famished lives we as a nation inflict on our prisoners. Saturate the media with details of a particularly heinous rape and murder case, coin a catchy phrase like “three strikes and you’re out” and your referendum is assured an 80% voter approval: 2.3 million lives get impoverished.

Incarceration has proven itself a compelling argument in the court of public opinion. 20% of today’s prisoners will commit 80% of tomorrow’s crimes. Those incarcerated can’t commit tomorrow’s crimes.

But which 20%? All prisoners lie If they’re not guilty of their charged crime then they’re guilty of something else! Safer to lock ‘em all up and throw away the key.

The redeemable get swept up by the commanding influence on the statistics of the irredeemable.

Sucks being a statistic.

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Market-Based Budgets

We arrived at a prison camp in Italy after capture and each received a Red Cross food parcel. At once exchanges, already established, multiplied in volume. Starting with simple direct barter, such as a non‑smoker giving a smoker friend his cigarettes in exchange for chocolate, more complex exchanges soon appeared.

Stories circulated of a priest who started off round the camp with a tin of cheese and five cigarettes and returned to his bed with a complete parcel in addition to his original cheese and cigarettes.

It’s a bit of a puzzle how a priest, presumably an honest agent, can engage in trade and end up with more of not just one foodstuff by trading for it, but more of everything. How did he manage this through voluntary exchange? In fact, he managed to make everyone he traded with better off. – Munger on Middlemen 

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Other People’s Money

Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. – Louis D. Brandeis. Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It (1914)

The problem with Other People’s Money (OPM) is investors are not as careful spending it as they are with their own. They take greater risks than warranted. They don’t scrutinize as closely as they should. They don’t check to see if they are being blinded by undue optimism. They don’t build sufficient protections or stop-loss triggers into investments.

How do we as a society institutionalize an investment culture that encourages private risk-taking but not recklessness? We’re not just interested in fraud. We seek to correct an attitude that often considers other people’s money as less important than our own.

How do we prudently invest grandma’s retirement money?

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Cut Their Throats

The Gross Federal Debt is now over 100% of GDP. This has only happened once before, during WWII. We outgrew it after WWII because we were the only game in town. Now we’re in peacetime.

Federal tax revenues in the U.S. have stayed at an amazingly constant 18% of GDP in good times and bad, war and peace, low and high inflation; under Republicans, Democrats, tax reforms, tax cuts and tax increases. For 70 years.

It’s not unreasonable to believe that attempts to raise taxes above 20% of GDP will be counter-productive. Tax revenues drop instead of rise.

That’s the limit to the Federal rolling debt scam (i.e., issuing new debt to pay the interest on the old). When interest payments on the Federal debt exceed ~20% of GDP we enter into an unstoppable debt escalation: one that can never be paid down. Mathematically. Default or inflation are the only options.

Today we’re at 2.6%. Whew!

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Bolivia

The revolutionary and controversial Popular Participation Law – LPP (1994) was the most successful part of the neo-liberal reform strategy of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in Bolivia.

It decentralized government in a radical way, in a sincere way. It was a sharp break from the past. It doubled transfers to 20% of national revenues from the central government to municipalities. But much more importantly the allocation mechanism across municipalities switched from a highly idiosyncratic method to simple per capita calculation. No strings attached.

So a small town with a thousand people got 155,000 bolivianos the first year. La Paz with a million people got 155,000,000 bolivianos, and that was that. And the transparency and simplicity of that transfer led to genuine political reform.

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My Kids’ Future

Heard a scary story the other day. Davies 30:00 

When interest rates rise back to their accustomed levels all tax revenues will soon be needed just to pay the interest on today’s $16 trillion Federal debt. No money left over for Social Security, Defense, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

This is a direct result of a rolling debt scam run by the Feds: issuing new loans to pay the principle and interest on old loans. Folks in the private sector go to jail for this. The reason these Ponzi schemes are illegal for anyone but the politicians is the music eventually stops and many are left without chairs. That would be your kids and mine.

Here’s how to unravel this mess. For good.

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2014 Legislative Agenda

I promised myself I would step back and survey all my legislative proposals once I passed the magic number ten.

What I see is a surprising concession on my part to rely more heavily on Big Government; the essential need for judicial reform; a bias toward building more ‘competition’ into government practices; and a recurring call for constitutional overhaul. I was also surprised to see my political principles remained intact even though they were written well before I decided which policy issues to tackle.

Every generation has its prophets of doom. Luckily they’ve been wrong. But history shows eventually one of them will get it right. The beauty of the U.S. democracy is we often overcome impossible hurdles to forestall that doom. We have been known at times to enact transformative change. Like those I propose below.

Let’s roll.

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Plug the Leaks

Politicians and academics complain that we pay fewer taxes in the U.S. than other developed nations.

Nah. We’re just really fast at spending. For every dollar we collect we immediately spend 33 cents in social engineering. Federal tax revenues in 2012 were $3 trillion minus tax breaks of $1 trillion.

Tax breaks aka “leave no lobbyist behind” is how the U.S. Congress spends one-third its tax revenues. As Annuities. Clandestinely. What voter has the time or skills to ferret out the merits of tax breaks in a ten million word tax code containing thousands of tax breaks?

I describe here a proposal that per se eliminates social engineering in the Federal tax code. You want to give money to your political supporters? Then first you have to collect it.

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Tax Fairness

What’s tax fairness? Everyone pays the same amount. A Capitation Tax. Ever notice how folks who come up with a different answer always have to wrap it in some overarching social theory?

Every citizen has access to the same Federal government services. So why should Bill Gates pay more than Joe the Plumber?

Show me a person using more than their share of government services and I’ll apply the appropriate surcharge. Show me a person in dire straits and I’ll apply the appropriate charity. Taxes are a burden to be shouldered equally by all who benefit from their use. Don’t give me that crap about the rich having bigger shoulders.

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Tax Reform

Look at the conversation Jesus had with the man who came to him trying to trip him up. He looked at Jesus and he said to him. “Is it all right to pay taxes to Caesar?” I wish so much Jesus had answered that question differently. It would be absolutely wonderful on April 15th to be godly and rebellious at the same time. – Ravi Zacarias (2012)

People really hate taxes and are open to any argument purporting to reduce their personal tax burden even if it cuts into their personal wealth (e.g., deductibility of home mortgages). Politicians exploit this. They spin the illusion of you paying less; yet government spending keeps growing. Guess who’s going to pay?

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Healthcare Reform

Heard a joke the other day. What’s the market solution for healthcare? It’s people exploiting people. And the government solution? It’s the other way around.

I tripped and sprained a pinky. It swelled to twice its thickness and I wondered if it was broken. I found a discount x-ray center at a local strip mall and stopped in for a snapshot. Turns out I needed a ‘script from my primary physician. He wouldn’t fax one over. Said I needed to go to my orthopedic surgeon to get the x-ray. $1,000 versus $60. I have a high deductible insurance policy and decided to wait until the swelling went down. Yep it was broken. But it was also healed. I now go through life with a crooked pinky.

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Pre-Existing Conditions

Terrorists and politicians are practiced at using children as human shields to cover for their nefarious deeds. Politicians put pathetic teary-eyed children in front of the television cameras. They voice-over these heart-wrenching images in a whiny, plaintive, Ozarkian twang:

Not doing this will hurt poor kids, including kids with special needs like Downs syndrome or Autism. I don’t know how families are going to deal with it.

Making their case for coverage of pre-existing medical conditions, these politicians mask distinctions between those who have insurance, those who have had their coverage cancelled, and those who have never purchased insurance. They paper over differences between those who are ill through no fault of their own, and those who fell ill by engaging in reckless behaviors. They mandate one-size-fits-all coverage for all pre-existing conditions; yet offer no cold hard cash in payment (We’ll pay for this from “savings”).

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The Vote

In the summer of 1864 before the elections for his second term, President Lincoln wrote a memorandum , folded it so the writing was on the inside, and obliged his cabinet members to blindly affirm their acceptance of its contents by signing it on the outside.

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the Government President elect, as to save the Union between the Election and the inauguration…

Lincoln had already trampled on the U.S. Constitution as an expedient of war (e.g., his suspension of habeas corpus). He could just as easily have delayed the election. This memorandum affirmed Lincoln’s belief that the vote must go on and that he and his cabinet members would whole-heartedly support the next president. For Lincoln the vote was the ultimate guarantor of liberty, the best protection against tyranny.

Humanity has struggled for centuries and sacrificed many lives to achieve universal suffrage, to condition its leaders and the leaded to internalize this concept as a sacrosanct principle. And now look how we waste it!

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Politics and Faith

I just know redistribution of wealth is morally right! Maybe I can’t clearly articulate why. I don’t hate the wealthy, but I care for the plight of the poor, and that outweighs my discomfort for perhaps unjustly imposing greater burdens on the wealthy. We must do something for the poor and redistribution seems to be the most expedient solution. We spend too much time arguing this issue. I‘m a compassionate, caring human being and I want action now.

I just know gay marriage is morally wrong! Every fiber of my being tells me I’m correct, but every word out of my mouth betrays my cause. I argue about child rearing. I argue about stability of relationships. I argue about commitment. In every case straight couples undermine my arguments with their behaviors. I concede I can’t argue my case rationally, and yet I faithfully hold onto my views. Where’s the protection of my beliefs, which are founded on faith and not on rationality?

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Welfare Reform

Instead of my usual bloated blog I herein lay out my proposal and its challenges, and let you the reader think through the details. Our task is to define the Welfare Reform Act of 2014. Instead of handing out money or debit cards we give chits to the needy, which are redeemable by private employers. You work for an employer, turn in your chits, the employer gives you cash, and the employer gets reimbursed for the chits by the government.

Instead of a handout, we give a paying job.

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Redistribution of Wealth

Unto whomsoever much is given of him shall be much required.

I find the above in my King James, but I missed the part about retribution against the wealthy. That the wealthy face ultimate judgment for the sharing (or not) of their blessings in no way justifies the taking of their money by those, or on behalf of those, who are without. Robin Hood must have made his appearance in one of the later Nag Hammadi texts that I haven’t read.

The rich should pay more! They can most afford to pay!

If a neo-Nazi group were to go on TV or radio and advocate racial division or hatred against minorities you would be quick to take action. If your government discriminated against ethnic or transgendered minorities you would rightfully pour into the streets in protest. So where’s your moral outrage when your government singles out the wealthy minority for its thieving (aka progressive taxes)? Do the rich consume more public goods? Whence your moral basis for stereotyping and demonizing people according to some accident of fortune?

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Community

Do you think you’d like to live forever? How long would you like to live? 300 years? You’d be so incredibly bored it would be beyond belief. What are you going to do? How much golf can you play? Talk to some old person one day. I just think of my father-in-law. He was in the nursing home and would just sit there. I asked him, I said jeez we can bring you a TV. Nah that’s alright. Wouldn’t you like to watch TV? Nah. Sat there and looked at the wall. Just wasn’t interested. The news meant nothing to him. You see that a lot with old people. It just all repeats. – excerpted from Cizadlo, Biology of Aging (1:21:10) 

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No Free Lunch

Legislation has been passed and someone’s got to pay for it. Certainly not the politicians. What about a general tax increase? Unlikely. There would be voter retribution. Okay, let’s vilify a person or group and pass the cost on to them (tobacco companies, Corporate America, ‘the rich’). Politicians get a free lunch: braggin’ rights for the new legislation and no new taxes. Hooray for our guy!

The lunch gets paid for with a devaluation of our democracy.

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