Archive for May, 2012
For only a few times in our short history has our very liberty come under threat of extinction. The cause of the FairTax is only a furtherance of that liberty, so it is today that we honor and remember those that have ensured for us the rights that we use to shape our society. Today we set aside time to honor those that have given their lives so that we are free to live ours. This Memorial Day should provide for us a time to set aside our political grievances, disagreements, and philosophies and thank the men and women through our history that have given the “full measure of devotion” so that we may have them. It is with great pride that we can celebrate an American Memorial Day. For us, as a nation, we share something that other countries just do not understand. When disaster strikes, when calamities arise, when tragedies occur it is the American Armed Forces that are first on the scene. Not only within the borders of our own country but even in lands and to the aid of people that despise us. Our men and women in uniform exemplify our highest ideals of civic duty and selfless sacrifice.
It was the brave Patriot who shouldered muskets to stand against the tyranny of a globe-spanning empire at our inception. It was brave American soldiers that dramatically increased the size of the country in the Mexican-American war which also featured four future Presidents in the role of defender of the Union. It was the intrepid American soldier that saw through a destructive Civil War to rejoin a shattered nation. It was the pioneering American soldier that crossed the Atlantic to help put an end to the First World War. It was the heroes of our latest generations that took up arms again to defend other nations from the horrors of genocide and avenge the atrocities at Pearl Harbor. It was the Cold Warriors who stemmed the tide of Communism as it sought to spread to all peoples. Both in Vietnam and Korea it was American soldiers who fought against an implacable foe. It was the American soldiers who stopped an invasion of Kuwait in the Gulf War. American soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq this very day in response to terror attacks that reached our shores on September 11, 2001. It is an American that has stood steadfastly on the front lines of liberty. The annals of history record the sacrifices of American blood spilt on foreign shores in the defense of ideals held from our founding to today.
The American soldier is peerless. Whether by draft or by choice, each has crossed the line that separates citizen from hero. It is this trait that we are thankful for and this quality we honor today. Volumes have been filled with the stories of heroism shown by our very own. History has been written by the valor of America’s finest. The world knows and can count on the fearlessness of our men and women in uniform. Although, as FairTax advocates, our cause is important and we cannot afford to lose focus on the goal at hand; we must never lose sight of the bigger picture. We operate in a theater much larger than just our own. Ours is a world in pain, chaos threatens to break free, and it has engulfed countries in the Middle East and is looking to spread. Our cause can be easily lost in the maelstrom of hate and control that comes with tyrannical ways of government that impose, with great penalty, ways that are antithetical to our own. Remember, not just this day, that the evil is kept at bay, that ever-reaching darkness is countered, that tyranny is defeated by our very own American heroes. For the sacrifice and work we thank you. For the choice that is made to join our volunteer fighting force, I thank you. There are not words that can express the gratitude of a thankful citizenry, please then let this day suffice. And know, in every moment of silence, every solemn solute, every wave of that flag, we are thinking of the lives given that grant us the rights that we enjoy. Our freedom was bought with the blood of patriots. We thank you for standing guard at the gate to ensure that such steps are not necessary again.
For a nation with the word united in its name it does seem self-contradictory to have a tax code that splits people into brackets. The income tax brackets fly in the very face of a necessary link in the chain of our founding. At the signing of our Declaration of Independence it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.” The phrase, “Unite or Die” became popular leading up to and during the American Revolution. It was a rallying cry that understood what we have seemed to have forgotten. The colonies were up against a terrible threat, they knew that either they could forfeit their belief in a God-given right to self-govern or they could unite. There was no possible way that 13 separate colonies could win on their own. It required a concentrated effort. Again, we see that today nothing has changed. Today we face what threatened to tear apart our young nation. We are a divided people. Whether this discord comes in the form of party identification, race, gender, income level, or religion we focus solely upon these differences over our common goals. This division has severed our connection with many of the ideas fought for so long ago and has led to a political discourse full of kneejerk reactions and inflamed rhetoric.
Abraham Lincoln said in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for the 1858 Illinois Senate race,
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”
Why not take a lesson from the man who knew better than any American about the danger of civil disunion? It is understandable in an election year to be at odds. But the language here is taking on a tone that extends deeper than election year partisanship. I do not intend to partake in any hand wringing over “hate” language. Such speech is already over hyped and not taken seriously. But examine just the topics on the mind of the political class since the beginning of this year alone. Supposedly there has been a coordinated attack on the women of the United States from one political party. If examined with any objectivity, this accusation can be proven foolish and inane within seconds. A political party, especially one out of power, is concerned with cultivating as many votes as possible. An open assault on half of the populace would be cause for commitment in one of this country’s most effective asylums. Yet this story is parroted throughout the press. These stories and accusations do not further any substantive discussion and can only result in a finger pointing yelling match. And it has. Our paper thin veneer of a “progressed” society can be so easily torn through. How else can you explain the scale and speed of uproar surrounding the death of a black youth in Florida? I loathe bringing up the tragedy and only wish to discuss the aftermath of the attack regardless of the facts. One reason it can be studied without regard to the facts is because much of the immediate and visceral reaction was taken up by those that did not have any facts. To be clear, it is not only the actions of groups of individuals that can be found at fault in this regard, but more tellingly the actions of professional news organizations. NBC, ABC, and CNN have all had to retract or back away from previous statements made without regard to the facts of the case. These news organizations had a direct hand in stirring up tensions where none needed to exist. It would be foolish to believe that it began and ended with a tragedy in Florida.
Another point of proof to the causes shaping division in America could be only the phrase “pay their fair share.” It is almost taken for granted that this is a creation of the 2012 Presidential campaign that must be answered swiftly without regard to the history of the phrase. In fact in our current political climate it can found even in 1992 Presidential campaign literature. Over a span of twenty years, this phrase has entered into every Presidential election year battle since then. Even the popular distinction between the 99% and the 1% that we are made to believe is the brain child of the people that brought us tent cities, waste buckets, and rape free zones (how comforting) can be found in the October 3, 2000 Presidential debate in Boston. Even in 1996, 68% of people thought that “upper-income Americans” were not paying their fair share. And all politicians have fought over in the past twenty years is the difference between 39.6% and 31% with our current rate sitting at a compromised 35%. The great tax debates of our time are not as valorous as our politicians have led us to believe. While I am definitely one to favor a tax decrease, I refuse to call a man a hero for cutting the rate 4% while ignoring the greatest tax alternative on the table.
This is the heart of the matter. Using our current tax code, our politicians, of both stripes, have duped the American public into thinking that they are the arbiters of the “fair” way all the while demeaning their opposition as either corrupt or un-American. While Americans are pitted against each other the feeble willed political creatures of Washington escape in the ensuing dust. It is this tactic that has allowed for Congress to ignore passing a budget in over 1000 days. This method has allowed for a $5 trillion expanse to our debt and loss of a credit rating to be harangued in the public court without any one person, party, or group to accept blame. These are huge and historical actions that will have very real consequences but any time the question is called to the floor there is yelling and browbeating over the greediness of the rich and the profit hunger of our corporations. At this point the politicians step away from the camera and let the rebuttals drown in the din of the cries of the 87.9 million Americans no longer counted as a part of the labor force. The unmet needs of these men and women and their families are a pitiful byproduct of the inherent class warfare built into this tax code. Instead of help, assistance, or, most importantly, a job, these men and women are given a list of people on who they can place blame. Blame the corporations who moved overseas. Never mind they did it to escape the most punitive tax in the industrialized world. Blame the rich for not paying enough. Never mind that “enough” has failed to be defined even though both parties have controlled all of the government in the past twenty years and have had ample opportunities to do so. Blame Warren Buffet for making his secretary pay more in taxes than he does. Never mind that he is paying a capital gains tax instead of an income tax. (Or could we not just lower her taxes?)
The point is that our tax code is used as a tool of division in a country that was built on national unity around a common idea. The “fair share” argument has proven through time to be a political ploy and never a search for the perfect percentage. Our founders had disagreements over a push for complete independence. But once the decision was made they understood the need for unity. Today unity is seen by some as weakness in our political decisions. But we must look to our forefather’s example. They had unity for a purpose. Their common cause was the right to govern themselves. We only ask for the same right to do so with our own money. Even though this seems to be a reasonable expectation do remember that the words quoted by Lincoln earlier were in acceptance for his Senate nomination. A fight he would go on to lose. Being right does not ensure victory. Even as eloquently spoken, people do not like to hear that disunion exists. He knew though that there was not enough room for both, either there would be all slave or all free states. We FairTax advocates know that the same applies for us. We must either submit to the control of Washington as to the amount of money they will allow us to keep. Or we must press on. There are no tax brackets in a FairTax system. When the tax is raised on one it is raised on all. For the first time in nearly a century the political class will be unable to slip a tax increase past the watch of the average American citizen. We will finally be able to hold our elected officials accountable without arguing over how much Warren Buffet pays his secretary, which is none of our business in the first place. Abraham Lincoln’s words had much more prophesy in them than even he realized. But the consequences in them are not confined to the nineteenth century. Like his many other accomplishments their impact is felt even today. A house divided against itself cannot stand. The events over the past years should call our success and the prospect of our future success into question. We are a house divided. By law we are divided. Separated into brackets based upon income. Those separations are used to divide a people who were envisioned to act together. How then can we succeed? The brilliance that is America began in 1776 with the men in Pennsylvania. Men pledged their livelihoods, their families, their free and independent states in the name of a common cause. Over which would fly one banner. The self-evident truths espoused there were that all men were created equal. We of a nature are not a class based country. This current division acts as a poison inhibiting our ability to effectively govern. For the past twenty years, at least, we have been demonizing the “rich” and asking them to pay their fair share. It is time for a fair tax. Rid ourselves of this useless division and allow the American people to fight the fights that need fighting. Unite or die. Make your choice.
What actions are to be taken when a group of people reach a “decision point”? There seems to be a general lack of consensus among many of today’s grassroots groups. Some are content to join their voices and assets with existing structures. Others are intent on striking out on their own. The Occupy protests have clearly gleaned political insight from old Mickey Rooney movies where staging dramatic plays or making showy statements will win over a perceived cynical or jaded elite. However, to see which model is a success we only need to look to our own history. There seem to be some common misconceptions held about our founding which are made painfully clear today. It seems that many now believe that the early Americans had simply “reached a point” where they had enough. Under this view, there was allegedly a wide consensus that something had to be done and as a result a revolution occurred. It is a statement on the poor education standards in this country that this view persists. This lacking is proved in the actions of the recent occupy “movement”. A group of disaffected youths, most of who recently graduated from an institution of higher learning, also reached a point where they felt something must be done. At reaching this epiphany they gathered. The plan seemed to stop there. They gathered and waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. There was no uniform plan or specific goals and nothing was achieved. Although loosely organized, by the time they disbanded, the groups resembled nothing more than angry mobs. At no moment did they come close to emulating the careful and organized example of our founders.
Many can recall the midnight ride of Paul Revere but few today realize the thought and planning that went into the endeavor. The midnight ride was the culmination of months of planning, information gathering, and training. Revere’s ride was not a vain attempt to warn the masses. There was no yelling through the night about the coming British. It was a targeted measure to wake particular houses known to contain those who had already volunteered. In the dark of night Revere and a growing number of riders carefully avoided British patrols, and darted to and fro in secret, readying the volunteer force that would oppose the coming British troops. In fact, for Revere, the primary purpose of the ride that night was to warn leaders, John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the force that was coming to arrest them. Once he reached the home where the two men were staying they concluded that the force was far too vast to be designed for the capture of two men. It was then concluded that the purpose of the march was to apprehend the supply of weapons that the Sons of Liberty had amassed in Concord. It was at this point that riders were dispatched to the surrounding towns to ready for a fight at Concord. Even the system of lamps, one if by land and two if by sea, were readied days ahead of time.
On the way to join the growing patriot forces Revere was captured at gunpoint at a British roadblock. His two fellow riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, managed to avoid capture. While being interrogated, Revere warned his British captors of the army they were going to face. While slowly being walked along with the British to Lexington he was quickly asked the meaning of the sound of the crack of gunfire as it echoed across the early morning sky about a half-mile outside Lexington. He calmly replied that it was a signal to “alarm the country”. Revere was finally freed when upon closer approach to the city the forward British troops heard the town bell ringing. They went back to alert their commanders and released their prisoners while doing so. The British continued their advance and quickly became aware of the purpose and outcome of those midnight rides. A trained militia stood between them and their goal and in the opening salvo of the American Revolution the British army retreated and was harried by organized militia the entire way back to Boston.
Without the forethought and planning the Sons of Liberty would have been crushed and defeated, only a footnote in a very different American history. But luckily for us today, men of wisdom banded together to create a plan of action, and act they did. The shot heard round the world shook political foundations in nations far away. It altered the very fabric of human history as the first time a free nation took its breath. The impact is felt today but can be measured even more accurately by the reaction of great leaders of the time. In the aftermath of the battle John Adams left his home to tour the battlefields. Upon watching the history unfold before his long seeing eyes he said, “The Die was cast, the Rubicon was crossed”. Thomas Paine was in Philadelphia when he received the news; upon hearing it he stated that he “rejected the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England forever”. The future general of the Continental Army and first President of the United States, George Washington remarked in a letter, “The once-happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched in blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?” These last words are pertinent in our time just as they were then. While we do not stare at the choice of slavery, it is true that our freedoms that were so dearly bought are ebbing away. While blood does not threaten to sully our lands the tape with which we are currently drowning in is a familiar shade of red.
The men who built this country did not act with reckless abandon or without careful consideration. Their plans were built upon knowledge that was gathered meticulously and always done with a goal in mind. Not for such a nebulous idea as freedom, but for the God given right of self-governance. The sparks that lit the Rebellion were taxes, it is no different today. We look at an increasingly distant Washington D.C. in an ever shrinking world wondering why our right to self-governance is slowly eroding under the weight of an expanding tax code. In response to these egregious affronts from the British crown our freedom fighters organized peacefully. The words of the Declaration cannot be surpassed,
“We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”
All attempts were made to avoid open war. We have avenues not made available to our founders. Our ability to organize should be made easier now that lives are not on the line. Our ability to voice our concerns should be much simpler since there are endless opportunities to communicate. Our specific goal is the FairTax. It represents the largest transfer of power from those in government back into the hands of the people since the Revolutionary War. To make the same impact we must act as they did. We must organize and join forces. Our cause is singular; there is no need for duplicative efforts. Notice too, it was an army of volunteers that repelled the attack. There was a cache of supplies. We need men and women of courage and conviction. While we do not need guns and ammo, we need donations and aid. Above all else we need people of action. Those who are not afraid of gathering strength in the dead of night to meet the storm. Those who have ears to the ground and can keep us informed. Those who are ready at a moment’s notice to jump to the aid of the cause. It was individuals who won our country’s independence and individuals who guard it today. If we rely on organizations and politicians to win today’s battles then we have already ignored the key lessons of our founding. The shot heard round the world toppled an empire. It ended the effectual monarchy. It brought rise to the voice of the people. Imagine what a second volley would do.
It is easy to get lost in the swirling, bustling atmosphere of political advertising. There are candidates running for offices throughout the country and it can be an intimidating task to choose the right candidate not only in the primaries, but also in the general election from city council up to the President. It is tempting only to focus on those races of national importance, but as the voters of Wisconsin can tell you, statewide races matter. We have learned that elections have heavy consequences over these past four years. And we should be honest; no one wants to elect the next David Wu, Anthony Weiner, Elliot Spitzer, or Jim McGreevey. That is why our electoral decisions must be made with great care. The troubling trend we have noticed over the past few electoral cycles has seen a gradual shift away from what we used to consider a “good politician”. To highlight the point it should be noted that, regardless of how you feel about them individually, neither vice presidential candidate in 2008 knew what Article 1 of the Constitution contained. Have we become more interested in sound bites than substance? Have we sacrificed effectiveness for political correctness? Which is more important? And based upon the answers to those questions, what have we obtained from it?
Over the past few years our political systems have seemingly grown beyond our ability to control and are taking actions that are overwhelmingly disapproved of by the majority of the American public. Recent examples include the exposure of the GSA’s childish antics, the exposure of Mr. Armendariz’s tough EPA enforcement policies , and the bizarre exposure that Nevada’s Cowboy Poetry is somehow essential to our government’s contribution to the arts. The last example is often laughed about in the pundit community and is usually found as the butt end of some joke but is particularly infuriating as a senseless and blatant waste of taxpayer dollars indicative of a system that is so far broken its most inexplicable wastes are accepted as unwritten and begrudged rights of those in positions of power. These examples are frustrating specifically because they had to be exposed. In many cases these infractions on responsible stewardship had to be discovered by outside parties and were either neglected by government oversight agencies or ignored as business as usual. Admittedly, all of this irresponsibility could slip through the cracks, after all what is a few million dollars in the face of $16 trillion. But irresponsibility has its consequences just like anything else. The disparity in the tax code and the vicious attack on those that have been successful will naturally leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Add to the fact that these embarrassing finds of government waste only seem to be the tip of a very nasty iceberg and many people will naturally take action to alleviate what is increasingly seen as the unnecessarily high burden of taxation. We see businesses take their jobs oversees in response to the highest corporate tax in the industrialized world, now individuals are making the same choice. 2011 saw a record number of Americans living abroad actually renounce their citizenship. Not only are our tax laws driving away jobs to overseas markets, last year saw more Americans than 2007, 2008, and 2009 combined toss away their very citizenship. The tax code is not merely a drag upon our economy but on our nation as a whole. It is antithetical to the founding, for more Americans than ever in history it was more profitable not to be an American citizen. That is what this tax code reduced us to as a people.
Like many other aspects of everyday American life, the government is looking to involve itself where it was neither asked to nor needed. In January of this year the Democrat held Senate introduced a bill called the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. It contained a provision that allowed the IRS, an unelected bureaucratic body led by an unelected bureaucrat, to revoke the passports of overseas Americans if accused of owing back taxes. The bill passed through the Senate and is likely to pass the Republican held House because the provision is projected to raise $750 million over the next ten years. That sounds like a big number but step back a moment and realize that we are giving an unelected body the ability to run roughshod over the phrase Due Process, remember the victims in this case need only be accused, all in the name of an estimated $75 million a year in a $2 trillion budget. This is why care must be taken in choosing our elected representatives. It is easy to be swayed by politicians that promise to punish tax evaders by closing loopholes and taking dramatic legal steps. It is simple to be persuaded by people pledging to balance the budget at all costs. But if we vote based on sound bites this is the outcome; a bill that does both without regard to small and rarely read Constitutional provisions…such as the 14th Amendment.
There are other deficiencies within the tax structure that would make any rational citizen shudder to think of the IRS gaining any additional legal power. The IRS is allowing illegal aliens to collect possibly billions of dollars in tax credits for relatives living in Mexico. Make no mistake, this action is against the law, in a myriad of ways, but the largesse of the IRS is disallowing any real effort to curb the fraud. Even more pertinent to this story is the fact that dependents are allowed to be counted even if they are not in the country. This presents a problem in this case because children in Mexico are not required to have any social security type identification number, making the verification process on an already beleaguered agency impossible. This is not to say that the word of an illegal alien is not trustworthy, but any casual analysis of the term illegal alien should not raise the bar to any optimistic level whatsoever. To juxtapose yet again, the government’s answer to this crisis is to take no action. Billions of dollars can be given to illegal aliens in fraudulent credits but $75 million in unpaid tax dollars from American citizens living abroad is enough to circumvent the Constitution and deny Americans their very citizenship. The tax code as it is written and as it operates is causing Americans to revoke their own citizenship and is literally paying people who are here illegally. It is disparate problems such as these that the FairTax excels in solving. The four problems discussed here: the incentivizing of illegal immigration, the revocation of American citizenship, the developing grasp of governmental power from an agency that has already proved to be woefully ineffective in its current duties can be lessened by the passage of one bill. The FairTax will dissolve the IRS, ending the threat of its power to “excommunicate” citizens and its crippling inability to cope with current tax issues. The FairTax will not let illegal aliens profit from living here by forcing them into the same tax code as the rest of the citizenry but denying them the prebate, and most importantly, Americans will have no reason to throw away their citizenship due to a complicated tax code that strangles success. Welcome to a snapshot of a post-income tax America. Citizens get preferential treatment over those that break the law and American entrepreneurs are encouraged instead of chased offshore.
This is an election year, not only in America, but in other areas of the world. We see advertisements and hear from pundits that offer us everything for the price of a vote. There are candidates that wish to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, support higher taxes on big corporations and millionaires using their support for an increased minimum wage to divide citizens, and looks to the hiring of teachers as a means to provide long term economic gain. Those positions are held and taken from a politician, but not one here in America. France just elected their second Socialist president in their history. Those positions are held by new French president Francois Hollande. The situation in our country is not unique but one that calls for care and consideration. In all of our elections we must be cautious in our decision making. There is a group in American politics who have seemingly divided the political class into two camps, the “establishment” and the “outsider”. After the progress, or lack thereof, it is tempting to throw out everyone who has held elected office in favor of these newcomers. This relatively new group would hardly make that same argument four years ago when Hillary Clinton and John McCain were heralded for their experience in the “established” political class. Many of the same that decried the Senator Obama’s inexperience are wholly behind now Senator Marco Rubio for a vice presidential slot. While I will not comment, other than on the seeming irony and mostly because I come from the same group, on the politics of the moment; this should be proof that as the shouts continue to grow into a deafening and continuous roar we need to carefully consider our vote. Pure deficit hawks and pure class warriors could vote for the IRS provision without contradicting previous statements. Single issue voters using the FairTax as their litmus test could just as easily find someone who is constitutionally uneducated. Our votes do not occur in a vacuum and our decision making process should be concerned with the relationship that cause has with effect. We are a nation of 311 million people looking, nationally, to fill 536 elected seats. A House of Representatives, a Senate, and the Presidency. The FairTax is in the best interests of the country, economically and otherwise. We need to find others who fit the same bill. Remember this election season to vote your conscience with calm and rational consideration so that you need not be one to regret your decision. 2012 will be a year which will be recorded as a tipping point, with Europe at the brink and the U.S. looking to emulate, the American public has a nearly unprecedented opportunity to reach beyond our own individual existence to impact the history of the world. France has shown us what they are willing to do, will we follow them down the path of collectivism and centralized authority or will we once again shoulder the banner of liberty and provide a clear and shining answer to the challenge. The FairTax is the surest answer, but we need men and women of conviction, in and out of office to take us there. Will you do what is necessary?
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