“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation.” — Igor Birman
Late last year, I ran across video of Igor Birman, who immigrated to the United States with his family as the Soviet Union was collapsing, warning against a more centralized government healthcare system. Birman, who now serves as Chief of Staff to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), was explaining that the Soviet system relied on rationing of healthcare, which would be the end result of ObamaCare.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with Birman to discuss his story, the transformation of the United States into a police state, ObamaCare, the budget, and other destructive economic policies that are being pushed by the White House.
When asked about the recent filibuster in the Senate, Birman applauded Sen. Rand Paul and noted that it was refreshing to hear a politician be so passionate. He also compared the policies implemented as part of the “war on terror” to life in the Soviet Union, where the government frequently searched homes of ordinary citizens without cause, which he called a “fact of life,” noting that “you just accepted it as much as you did the cold weather and the long lines for the basic staples of food and water.”
Birman experienced this first-hand. “A week before we left for the United States, we went to say goodbye to my uncle in St. Petersburg and when we came back, we found our apartment just absolutely ravaged,” recalled Birman. “The authorities must have been looking for whatever lame excuse they could find to either delay or disrupt our departure.”
Written by Andrew Coulson, Director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Californians approved Prop 30, a $6 trillion dollar tax hike intended to save public schools from “devastating” cuts. In fact, the state is already spending around $30 billion more today on public schooling than it did in the early 1970s, after controlling for both enrollment growth and inflation—and SAT scores, the only academic outcome measure going back that far, are down. Prediction: this $6 billion will have little impact on children’s education even if it does make it to the school level. Instead, it will further slow California’s economy and drive a few more businesses out of the state.
Georgia approved a new charter school authorizer, which should lead to more rapid growth of charter schools in that state. Based on recent research published by the Cato Institute, this will increase generally mediocre options within the public school sector by, in part, cannibalizing generally better options in the private sector. Georgia can avoid a net reduction in educational diversity, freedom, and quality by expanding its existing education tax credit program.
Liberals are masters at messaging and manipulating the legislative process - and a great example of this is the campaign for Prop 30 in California - a “temporary” 1/4 cent increase in the state sales tax and 1% increase in personal income tax for those earning over $250,000/yr - those who can “most afford it,” a direct quote from the proposition.
First, we have the title: “The Schools and Local Public Safety Act of 2012.” Instead of “Personal and Sales Tax Increase Act of 2012.”
Then the graphics and ads:
The hokey music, the wholesome looking school teachers, the all-American apple graphic - it’s all so feel-good! How can you possibly want to DENY these children the teachers that have been laid off over the past few years, the arts and music education? If you do, you must be a vile human being.
What they’re not telling you:
Legislators have had ample opportunity to cut true wasteful spending, yet they cut things that would gain attention and empathy from the voters: schools and public safety. That way when they come, hat in hand, to ask for a sales tax increase, the understanding electorate will say, “But of course!”
Guess what? It’s still NEW funding. Adding to what is there before. If they cut Assembly member benefits or office staff or stopped spending so much on welfare or attempting to build bullet trains, no one would care. But they purposely axed teachers so they would have this excuse to prey on the emotions of low information voters and get what they really want - more money to fund their progressive agenda.
California became famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, a few weeks ago when it became the first state to ban the traditional method of producing foie gras, the fatty substance dervice from duck and goose liver that is considering something of a gourmet delicacy.
The reason for the ban had nothing to do with the health arguments that have been made in recent years about foie gras, but because animal rights advocates contended that the method of production, which involves feeding the animals large amounts of food in a short period of time, was cruel. There are other methods of producing foie gras, but it’s generally accepted that these alternative methods produce a vastly inferior product. As a result, some California restaurants have resorted to creative legal arguments to allow them to keep making the product available, while other Californians are engaging in a practice that is reminiscent of the era when alcohol was banned in the United States:
As a voracious consumer of news regarding current events and politics, it occurred to me this week that to a person of sanity and sound reason, listening to and reading the coverage of what is going on in our nation and world today is so far removed from reality, historical experience and logic as to be the product of a journalist reporting live from the bottom of that rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. We regularly hear from people considered leaders by many, uttering the most incredibly nonsensical things with a straight face, fully expecting the rest of us to believe them. Indeed, often these things are uttered with such seemingly powerful sincerity that even the sane begin to question themselves.
So, here are a few random thoughts from the passing week…
Judging by recent stories from California, the nickname for that state should be changed from the “Golden State” to the “Granola State”, because it is positively the land of fruits and nuts. California, with a debt rating of A- (the lowest of any state), annual deficits of billions of dollars, and long-term debt obligations to public employee unions that amount to hundreds of billions of dollars, nevertheless recently decided to double down on lunacy by passing the “California Dream Act”, a state version of the federal law that would give in-state tuition and more lavish taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal aliens and their children. This is a magnet for more illegal immigration, and in the end the state will continue its rapid descent into bankruptcy.
Following up on an earlier post I wrote about the legal theory and precedent behind online retailers and state sales taxes, I thought I’d share this video from C-SPAN’s “The Communicators” show, in which Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne makes the consitutional and policy cases for not subjecting online retailers to state sales taxes:
Scott Peterson, executive director of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, offers the pro-tax position in the latter half of the video.
Recall in my last piece that I deduced that
the Internet has connected people in ways they’ve never before been able to connect, and one of the ways it has done this is through electronic commerce. As such, if someone in Michigan buys something from an Amazon Associate seller in California, and that order is filled in California (or anywhere else), then commerce has taken place across state lines. Last time I checked, only the U.S. Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce, and California therefore has no taxing power over Amazon Associates sellers in California — unless they’re taxing purchases made by Californians only.
“Last night was devastating, no question.” - MoveOn.org
The dust is still settling on last night’s returns. We’re going to hear a lot of analysis over the mid-terms and what it means for both the new majority for House Republicans, Democrats that survived in both chambers and President Barack Obama.
As it currently stands, Republicans gained over 60 seats in the House and six in the Senate. They also picked up at least nine governerships and 19 state legislatures. The states where the GOP made significant gains make up a chunk of the electoral college.
Keith Olbermann and others can deny it all they want, it was a historic night. Newt Gingrich, who was behind the Republican Revolution in 1994, is calling last night “a more decisive repudiation” than what President Bill Clinton faced. The Republican Party will enter the 112th Congress with their largest majority since 1928, during the Hoover Administration, and the largest pick-up for either party since 1948.
Yesterday, Judge Vaughn Walker, who issued the opinion finding California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, lifted a stay on his decision allowing same-sex marriages to begin in the state on August 18th:
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who overturned the measure on Aug. 4, agreed to give its sponsors until Aug. 18 to appeal his ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Walker said that same-sex marriages may resume at that time unless a higher court blocks them.
Walker said the sponsors of Proposition 8 do not have legal standing to appeal his order because they were not directly affected by it.
In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, the state’s highest officials and named defendants in the case, have told Walker that his ruling declaring the measure unconstitutional should be enforced immediately.
So, even though the stay was lifted, the proponents of Proposition 8 still have time to argue for a stay to be reinstated, which the Ninth Circuit court may decide to do until they’ve heard the case on appeal.
Polls in the state are showing support, albeit reportedly shaky, for marijuana legalization:
California voters, by a modest margin, think they should be allowed to grow and consume marijuana, according to a new poll that also found more than 1 in 3 voters had tried pot and more than 1 in 10 had lit up in the past year.
The Los Angeles Times/USC poll found that voters back the marijuana legalization measure on the November ballot, 49% to 41%, with 10% uncertain about it. But support for the initiative is unstable, with one-third of the supporters saying they favor it only “somewhat.”
For anyone shaky on this issue, I can imagine where you are coming from. Perhaps you’re like Charles Krauthammer and don’t like the thought of living in a world where marijuana and other drugs are available readily in a drug store. To those who share Krauthammer’s concerns, remember that we live in a world of trade offs. We can remain living in a world where drugs are available in the seedy alley behind a local pharmacy, or move to a world where drugs are available safely from the neighborhood pharmacist.
Continuing our “Liberty Candidate Series” of interviews, Jason and Brett talk with John Dennis, discussing his opponent, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, liberty in San Francisco, and his candidacy. Dennis is a “Pro-Liberty” Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s 8th Congressional District.
This special edition podcast is the fifth in a series devoted to showcasing liberty candidates nationwide. Dennis talks about his liberty-focused campaign against the Speaker of the House in California.