Several months ago, I never would have guessed how hard the supposedly conservative right would have fallen for a fake, self-important, moderately intelligent, New York City progressive republican with a long and storied history of supporting gun control  , amnesty for illegal aliens , punitive progressive taxation , federal government involvement in some sort of nationalized health care  , an unconstitutional “one time” wealth tax  (which he erroneously claimed would pay off the national debt), and who has expressed support for weakening the First Amendment to allow litigation against news organizations who write stories Trump doesn’t like  (because it’s already illegal to publish commentary which is objectively false, which Trump apparently doesn’t realize).
Here I was, stupidly thinking we were on the cusp of an intellectual revolution that just might usher in the radical change necessary to recover whatever is left of the real America – the America that existed prior to the Progressive revolution of the 1920s and which championed decentralized power, distributed back to the state and local governments where it belongs, and reigning in the federal government’s ridiculously mountainous overreach well beyond the enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8 .
We have before us a golden opportunity to elect virtually any candidate, as the left jettisons an honest (but ideologically wrong) socialist for a fundamentally dishonest socialist who hides behind the “Progressive” label as she dances from scandal to scandal. Instead of choosing an ideological purist with a record of bucking the establishment and who is more firmly grounded in the Constitution than anyone I’ve seen in modern American politics, we’re willingly blowing it on Donald Trump. What is perhaps a once in a lifetime chance to wrest control away from Washington will be wasted. On a phony New York City pathological liar and crony, who openly fawns over himself and his “very good brain .”
We could be working on nominating a man who actually authored the amicus brief  on behalf of 31 states in the D.C. v Heller case decided by the Supreme Court in 2010 and which eventually became the basis for the court’s ruling confirming that the Second Amendment applies to the individual and not only to state militias. We could be working on nominating a man who successfully argued in favor of Texas’s sovereign right to enforce its own laws in spite of rulings by international courts. Instead we’re obsessing over a man who repeatedly spends too much time getting spray tans , defending the size of his genitals on a national debate stage (Headline CNN: “Donald Trump defends size of his penis “), and telling us how “highly educated” he is, before informing us that he “knows words” and “has the best words .”
None of this should be surprising, of course, for a candidate whose Super Tuesday victory speech  had a fifth grade level complexity (and whose speeches regularly score between third and fifth grade levels). Donald Trump apparently doesn’t need to be an ideological genius to gain ground with the republican voters, and if it weren’t for his constant self-promotion and aggrandizement nobody would care about his apparently very average IQ, including me. But, when you regularly call attention to your own brilliance, yet obviously lack it in virtually every respect, and pair this character flaw with both dishonesty and bullying, it should be noticed by the voters.
Trump’s sensationalistic candidacy, which has thus far relied on tactics more befitting an elementary school student council election, and which has been breathlessly propped up by the media on all sides, including formerly supposedly conservative ideologues such as Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Breitbart, Drudge, and Fox News (who all are apparently ready and willing to sell out their claimed conservative purism because, well, “Trump!”), is an enormous scam. But not for the reasons one might imagine – in this case, the voters are scamming themselves and voting for 2016’s Republican Barack Obama – a similarly empty suit free of any real ideological constraints or principles, capable of appearing to numerous voters as the hologram of a perfect candidate. It looks great on the outside, but it’s nothing more than a projection of what one desires to see. There’s nothing on the inside.
The latest in this nonsense is Trump’s assertion that Ted Cruz is “stealing” the delegates that Trump rightfully has won. Dutifully, Trump’s unprincipled media sell outs have run stories claiming, “Hannity Battles Cruz on Delegate Snatch… ,” “Ted Defends Voterless Elections… ,” and “Michael Savage to Cruz: Renounce Colorado ‘rigged election’ .”
As a Colorado voter, I can tell you that Colorado’s election was not “rigged” or “cancelled” and no delegates were “snatched” or “stolen” from Donald Trump. Any Coloradan who registered as a Republican (which I do once every four years for the caucuses – the rest of the time I am unaffiliated because the Republican party generally doesn’t stand for anything these days) had an opportunity to show up at a caucus location, the same as 2008 and 2012. The difference this year is that the caucuses didn’t hold a presidential preference vote to bind delegates to a particular candidate. Instead, delegates were elected by the regular people who attended the Colorado caucuses to move on to the next level, from the precinct level to the county level. At the county level, the delegates were again elected to move to the district level. At the district level, the delegates were again elected to move to attend the state convention, which was held on Saturday, April 9. At the state convention, the final slate of delegates was chosen from the winnowed pool that began at the precinct caucuses – the very same caucuses Trump and his supporters allege were “voterless.”
None of this is a mystery and none of it is a disenfranchisement of the voter. The voter still attended the same exact caucus as last time, but instead of voting for a candidate they voted to elect a particular delegate, who may or may not have committed themselves to a particular candidate. This year, the only candidate who made any attempt to put up solid delegates at the precinct level was Ted Cruz. Trump didn’t even bother showing up to the state convention and instead has used his media boot lickers to propagate the lie that the Colorado election was “stolen” from him and that somehow the ultimate election of 34 delegates who back Cruz was dishonest.
This is the sort of lie you’d normally expect to see being propagated by the left. Not anymore.
The truth, in my humble opinion, is that Donald Trump expected to run away with the nomination without really needing to work for it on the local level. He was convinced he’d simply show up, the voters would fall all over themselves to get to the voting booth (or caucus!) for him, and he’d be coronated the Republican Prom King at July’s national convention. Now that Trump’s one-man domination resulting from a fractured candidate slate is ending, and he’s becoming less and less likely to capture the nomination on the first vote by failing to earn the 1,237 delegates necessary, Cruz’s months-long organization has become the focus of attention. Cruz has actually worked for it, you see – Trump hasn’t.
Unfortunately for Trump, there is a serious difference between a democracy and a republic, and it’s becoming more and more apparent by the day. Simply winning some generic “delegate” doesn’t matter if you don’t have a majority of them at convention time, because “delegates” are actual people with their own beliefs. Since we vote to elect delegates, and not for a candidate directly, this matters, as Trump is now discovering.
So, as it now stands, Cruz and all of the local conservative activists (who are more involved than simply yelling and screaming about “winning again” and who actually get themselves involved in things like caucuses) have positioned themselves to be elected as the delegates Trump has earned. Most are bound to vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot, and they will do so. If and when Trump comes up short of the 1,237 votes necessary to be nominated on the first ballot, a large percentage of delegates will be freed to vote for a different candidate. It’s looking more and more likely that they will flood to Ted Cruz on a second or third ballot. As a result, Donald Trump is unlikely to ever do better than he does on that first vote, because in the end, Trump hasn’t actually run away with the electorate or captured a majority of votes. In fact, even including New York’s results from today, Trump has only received about 39% of all votes cast . Cruz and Rubio combined have received about 45% of all votes cast, and it’s very likely that Rubio’s delegates will back Cruz when released. This pairing could become even more powerful if Rubio issues a formal endorsement, which I would expect at some point after that first vote, since endorsing before the convention may unbind some of his delegates early.
None of this is new, or mysterious, or underhanded, or sneaky. It’s how a representative republic functions. If the delegates, who were elected by the voters at various state conventions, decide to switch their vote after they’re unbound according to their state’s rules, there is nothing dishonest about it.
In fact, this is how we wound up with Abraham Lincoln. Heading into the national convention in Chicago in May 1860, no candidate had managed to achieve the required 233 delegates to win on the first ballot, leading to a contested convention. William Seward, a U.S. Senator and former governor of New York had a plurality of delegates on the first ballot with 174. Abraham Lincoln had 102. After the first ballot failed to produce a nominee, delegates who had initially supported other candidates piled behind Lincoln, bringing the second ballot to Seward – 185, Lincoln – 181. A third and fourth ballot saw additional delegates back Lincoln, who ultimately won with 364. The original proceedings of the convention can be found here.
According to Donald Trump logic, Lyin’ Abraham Lincoln rigged the election and stole the 1860 republican nomination.
We’re smarter than this, America. Perhaps we should start acting like it.
Liberty or death,
The Bulletproof Patriot
Perhaps the latest defining moment in modern American political discourse seems to repeatedly occur following each new report of another tragic shooting death of innocents by some wild, delusional maniac. Each time, the pinnacle of such discourse is demarcated as the President slowly rolls up to the scene in his limousine, Press Corps in tow, makes the short walk to the pile of bodies before pausing briefly to remove his suede loafers, and proceeds to hike to the summit with his bullhorn before the dead have even had a chance to cool. After firmly reaching the highest point, the President then, in the usual, I’m-about-to-use-a-crisis-for-political-gain tone, announces to the world that yet another killer has capitalized on America’s “lax” gun laws and that if we’d only listen to him and finally pass real, common sense gun control legislation, these repeated tragedies would cease.
This latest tragedy, which encompassed the deaths of nine Umpqua Community College students and the serious injury of nine others at the hands of a killer who shall go unnamed , proved to be the perfect opportunity for even louder screams for gun control from the President, claiming that the states with the most gun control laws tend to have the least amount of gun deaths :
We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence…
And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.
The President, as is usually the case, is counting on you simply believing what he and the press will tell you rather than look into it for yourself – that simply passing the generic plan of “common sense gun control” legislation will result in fewer tragedies such as this latest one. Fortunately, checking into this one is easy because the raw data is readily available.
The gold standard for determination of whether the various states have “strong” or “weak” gun laws rests with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (“Brady Campaign”), an activist group which has been the driving force behind increased gun control in one form or another since 1974 . The Brady Campaign releases a state scorecard which ranks each state based upon a fixed set of criteria, with a score of 100 representing a perfect implementation of all 30 “common sense” laws the campaign publicizes. The latest report was issued in 2013 . If you go read it, you’ll come away with the impression that President Obama was right – all 10 states with the strongest gun control laws are death-free paradises and the 10 states with the most lax gun control laws are death-ridden hell holes.
There’s only one small problem with this impression – it’s completely, provably false.
To bear this point out, one need look no further than the publicly available FBI Uniform Crime Report, available from 1990 – 2014 . Although the data is not perfect (a couple of jurisdictions do not report), the year to year changes in murders are made available on a state-level basis and each murder is categorized by weapon type. Therefore, making a simple, side-by-side comparison of the FBI’s reported firearm murder rates with the Brady Campaign scorecard rankings is pretty easy.
Here are the raw numbers directly from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, presented with the top ten MOST restrictive gun control states (as graded by the Brady Campaign) and the top ten LEAST restrictive gun control states. It’s a complex looking graphic, but spend a minute digesting it because the media is counting on you not to. (Note: Hawaii was removed from the top ten due to incomplete reporting, along with Alabama and Florida.)
As you can plainly see, not only are the top ten MOST restrictive gun control states also not the top ten safest, but they’re actually higher up the murder rate than the states having weaker gun laws. In fact, the average gun murder rate for the top ten most restrictive states is 2.53 per 100,000 population (3.31 per 100,000 population when D.C. is included), versus only 1.97 per 100,000 population for the horrible, death-ridden states with lax gun control laws. Let me put that another way –
The states with the strongest gun control laws, which the President is advocating, have a gun murder rate that is 28.4% higher than the states with the weakest gun control laws. That number increases to 68% higher when the gun control paradise of the District of Columbia is included. Quite a different story than the one the media and the Brady Campaign are selling you, and you need only look at the FBI’s raw data to prove it.
You’ll also note that the gun control paradise of California, which is in the Brady Campaign’s #1 position with a score of 86/100 (and a grade of A-minus), and which is also listed as one of the “top 10 safest states” by the Brady Campaign, actually has a higher gun murder rate than 32 other states. So no, Brady Campaign, despite a grade of A-minus, California is not a safe haven from gun violence, according to the FBI.
In fact, despite the media’s shrieking to the contrary, the firearm murder rate in the U.S. has dropped consistently for more than 20 years. This past year, 2014, actually had the lowest murder rate with firearms since the FBI Uniform Crime Reports have been available. So no, we also are not living in an era of drastically increased firearm violence, despite the widespread reporting of the latest mass shootings.
When you include the dramatic increase in gun ownership in America, the reduction in gun murder rate is even more stark. Clearly, the number of firearms in private possession by Americans has literally zero impact on an increased murder rate – if anything, the increase in firearms ownership has reduced gun murder rates.
So, if number of gun control laws bear zero correlation to reduced gun murder rates, where should we turn? The President brought up both the U.K. and Australia as examples for reducing gun violence (both of which implemented outright confiscation of public firearms – not simply “gun control” as it’s usually described), but we actually have a much easier place to turn. In America, there is one epidemic that results in 131 times more deaths than those caused by firearms:
Since you can barely see the gun murder rate when compared against the total number of abortions in 2014, I have taken the liberty of extending the graphic for clarity:
On the same day that ten Umpqua Community College students were killed by a maniacal gunman in Oregon, women elected to murder 2,899 of their own unborn children (and Planned Parenthood was responsible for 898 of them). Yet absolutely nobody is talking about those deaths, every single one of which was preventable. How dare you consider ending federal taxpayer subsidization of Planned Parenthood when we have so many mass shooting deaths to legislate?
The Second Amendment exists as a natural and logical extension of your right to your own life and liberty, as you also possess the right to defend both, by force if required against both man and tyranny.
This is not now and has never been a problem with guns. It is a problem with cultural rot, which has now culminated in this decaying society with the blind acceptance and taxpayer subsidization of the deaths of more than a million infants each and every year.
To put it simply, we have a become a culture that embraces death and we’re comfortable with repeatedly lying to ourselves to justify it.
Liberty or death,
The Bulletproof Patriot
In the midst of World War II, countless European towns under Nazi occupation found themselves witness to atrocities never before seen in the modern world. Train cars filled to the brim with “undesirables” made their way through otherwise quaint, German and Polish villages, disappeared into the wilderness, and returned empty. The stench of death was unmistakable, filling the air by some accounts many miles away. Yet, for many, acceptance of what was happening in front of their very eyes was easier than they had ever imagined, stinging the souls of survivors for generations into the future, as acquiescence took hold and humanity acceded to the destruction of life for reasons unknown. Man stood by while evil triumphed.
A holocaust larger than the one bearing its namesake from the last century is currently underway in two places – in the middle east, where Christians, Jews, and others are being savagely murdered in the name of “god” at the hands of genocidal Islamic sycophants, and right here at home, where nearly 60 million lives have been ended, electively, a figure five times higher than the Holocaust itself, at America’s abortion clinics.
The filling of freezers with unborn children is no different than the filling of ovens with “undesirable” Jews. All men are entitled to their own life, including those not yet born, as it is the quintessential, defining characteristic of their very existence which was granted to them, and to them alone, by their Creator.
In all cases, elective abortion as a form of birth control is the murder of a child by his own mother. Period.
It is long past time to cease playing the games of semantics when it comes to life – elective abortion is not “women’s healthcare” or about a “woman’s body” or about “tissue.” Abortion is about ending the life of an unborn child, and I for one will no longer stand by as this nation too acquiesces to the barbarism happening right in front of us. If we choose to shrink from the evil at our own doorstep, our complicity becomes our assumed responsibility – something for which we will each stand in judgement.
The proliferation of evil requires only that good men stand by and do nothing.
In 1945, as news of the liberation of Auschwitz by Allied forces spread around the world, humanity declared “never again” would good men shrink in the face of evil.
You were born to face this crisis.
“Never again” is right now.
Liberty or death,
The Bulletproof Patriot
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)  and so-called related “Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) ” have been heated topics as of late, with President Obama and members of Congress from both major parties pushing for re-authorization of TPA as a means to enact the TPP without Congressional amendments, with the intent of creating the latest in a string of free trade agreements with the Asia Pacific region.
Details of this arrangement, which could impact up to 40% of global trade, are classified . While free trade agreements are usually secretive to some extent, abusing the governmental formal classification system (which is explicitly intended for use with information affecting national security) seems an unusual step, especially for the “most transparent Administration in history .” The TPP documents, leaked to the public by Wikileaks , are classified as Confidential, the lowest classification applied to sensitive information. Classification prevents, with criminal penalty, any person from disclosing the classified information to the public, including members of Congress.
Debate over the impact and value of free trade agreements has been long running. Such agreements have traditionally been supported by Republicans as “job creators” and decried by Democrats as “job killers.” Self-interested, partisan
lying bickering aside, let’s take a look at how free trade agreements generally work and the naked statistical impact upon labor, job creation, exports, and imports to see how these agreements actually behave once enacted.
Advertised Benefits of Free Trade
Most free trade agreements claim as a goal to “reduce barriers to international trade” and “expand American job growth,” and the TPP is no different. The White House is selling the deal as a way to “unlock opportunity for you .”
President Obama’s trade agenda is dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. That’s why we are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 21st century trade agreement that will boost U.S. economic growth, support American jobs, and grow Made-in-America exports to some of the most dynamic and fastest growing countries in the world.
As the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia Pacific, the Trans-Pacific Partnership reflects the United States’ economic priorities and values. The TPP not only seeks to provide new and meaningful market access for American goods and services exports, but also set high-standard rules for trade, and address vital 21st-century issues within the global economy.
The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate Committee on Finance has taken a similar approach, advertising the TPA/TPP as a way to boost American jobs growth :
[The Committee leadership has] introduced bipartisan, bicameral Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that establishes concrete rules for international trade negotiations to help the United States deliver strong, high-standard trade agreements that will boost American exports and create new economic opportunities and better jobs for American workers, manufacturers, farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs.
This supposed benefit of increasing international trade is almost universally accomplished by limiting or prohibiting the establishment of tariffs on imports from foreign nations, and the TPP appears to be no different. The U.S. Trade Representatives’s Office released a report earlier this month claiming the TPP would benefit American jobs by “leveling the playing field” and reduce tariffs applied by foreign nations to U.S. exports:
President Obama’s trade agenda is a centerpiece of his Middle Class Economics strategy because American exports support millions of well-paying jobs across the United States, and breaking down barriers to Made-in-America goods will benefit our workers, businesses, and agricultural community. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a groundbreaking trade agreement with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, along with the Trade Promotion Authority bill being considered by Congress, are at the heart of that effort…
The United States has one of the most open economies in the world, with an average applied tariff of 1.4%. In fact, nearly 70% of the products we import do not face any tariffs at all. However, when our exporters work to sell Made-in-America goods to other countries, they’re burdened with tariffs over twice as high on average. American manufactured goods face tariffs of up to 100% on certain goods in TPP markets, and American agriculture exports face tariffs over 700% on some products.
Tariffs as a Means to Levelize Trade
It is certainly true that trade with the United States is relatively unhampered by tariffs – usually, we simply refuse to enact them, even when we’re being screwed sideways by foreign nations dumping below-cost products on American shores, illegally subsidizing the cost of merchandise, intentionally manipulating currency value to fix the price of exports, exporting products with what amounts to slave labor, or ignoring massive environmental damage by manufacturers in their own countries.
I have personally observed the dumping of solar panels in the U.S. market by Chinese manufacturers and have heard excuses, first hand, of how “unfair” a U.S.-applied import tariff on such products would be, despite clear evidence of China directly subsidizing the cost of such solar panels to reduce their price below the actual cost of materials and labor, with the express intention of pricing domestic solar panels out of the market. In a sane world, a country subjected to such outrageous, anti-competitive products from a country like China would enact a trade tariff on imports of such goods into their own market to level out the cost. Because the U.S. lacks a comprehensive free trade agreement with China, that’s exactly what we did – the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed importation tariffs of 26.71% to 78.42% on imported, Chinese-manufactured solar panels, finding that the Chinese government had been unfairly subsidizing the cost of such products to force American manufacturers out of business . Having sat in meetings with such Chinese manufacturers and discussing the (then pending) tariffs on their products, my strong belief is that such anti-competitive and intentionally destructive behavior is absolutely true.
Had the U.S. had a comprehensive free trade agreement with China in place, establishment of such a tariff on unfairly subsidized solar panels would have been difficult or impossible, as we would have agreed instead to address such a conflict by agreeing in writing that such subsidization is illegal. Illegal or not, many nations have a strong track record of failing to honor international agreements when it suits their needs, while the U.S. stupidly stumbles onward, upholding our end of the bargain rather than calling out our counter party on the carpet. China’s currency manipulation , Russia’s repeated violations of the START anti-nuclear missile treaty  , and Iran’s open flaunting of their intent to disregard any nuclear material agreement with the United States  are only the most recent examples. Handcuffing yourself to any agreement with a dishonest counter party is national suicide. Unfortunately, it looks as if the U.S. is about to repeat the same mistake yet again with the TPP.
Free Trade’s Naked Statistics
Fortunately, the U.S. need not march blindfolded into yet another free trade agreement – we have three major, similar agreements which have already been in place for a number of decades:
- Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) – Enacted in January 1988 with Canada . Key elements of the agreement included the elimination of tariffs, the reduction of many non-tariff barriers, and it was among the first trade agreements to address trade in services .
- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – Enacted in January 1994 with Canada and Mexico . Provided for several rounds of tariff reduction, which culminated with the elimination of virtually all tariffs between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in 2008.
- Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China (PNTR) – Enacted in October 2000 by Congress and did not include China as a counter party to the agreement . Widely viewed at the time as a “feel good” measure to “help China’s poorly treated workers,” since China was not agreeing to anything in writing, the PNTR is a one-sided agreement. The PNTR designation, which had actually become known as Most Favored Nation status in 1998, reduced tariffs on foreign goods with the targeted nation – in this case, China.
Since the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance has informed us that “It’s About Jobs ,” perhaps we should begin right where they do – determining whether or not free trade has the impact it claims of supporting and promoting American jobs. Here is the Committee’s principal graphic, with the GOP’s
skid mark signature proudly displayed:
So, is it actually about jobs? The St. Louis Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) publishes ongoing economic statistics in literally hundreds of series addressing everything from wages, employment, and banking, to yes, domestic manufacturing. According to FRED, the net change in domestic manufacturing was negligible for CFTA and NAFTA. When trade relations with China were “normalized” as a one-sided agreement, domestic manufacturing jobs took a giant dump, quickly declining as soon as domestic manufacturers could take advantage of moving their production into the low cost, low intellectual property value, environmental shit hole of China.
But, even if domestic manufacturing was lost to China, median household income could still increase as lower skill jobs are replaced with more intellectual, higher paying jobs. Right? Perhaps, but the statistics don’t look good. After CFTA, median household income in the U.S., as measured in constant 2013 dollars, declined by about $2,500 per year. NAFTA had the opposite effect, increasing median household income by about $7,000 per year. Whatever the reason was that NAFTA led to an increase in such income (which occurred during the “Dot-Com Bubble” of 1995-2000), the PNTR with China managed to destroy most of it, killing a good $5,000 a year for the median American family. As it stands today, with several free trade agreements in place, all of which claim to “expand American jobs,” the average American family has the same household income, on an equal dollar-for-dollar basis, as they did in 1995. Somehow, that mystical expansion of jobs and opportunity failed to materialize.
A similar net effect can be seen when observing the employment:population ratio, which expresses the percentage of working-age population (under 65) which is currently employed. As the FRED statistics show, CFTA had a generally negative impact and NAFTA had a generally positive one. When PNTR with China was enacted, the ratio declined rather quickly as jobs moved overseas.
U.S. Imports vs. Exports Under Free Trade
The net impact of free trade agreements with nations having an equivalent degree of labor protections (and cost of such labor), standard of living, and environmental regulation, such as Canada, is negligible. This makes sense because the cost to outsource domestic jobs to a nation like Canada has little economic benefit, as Canadian standards of living and the associated costs of labor are similar to in the U.S. Therefore, jobs tend not to move between the two countries when free trade agreements are enacted and tariffs are dissolved.
However, when trade agreements are enacted with nations having low standards of living, little or no environmental regulation, and the associated low cost of labor, such as China, jobs rapidly move overseas. This too makes sense as without a tariff barrier to levelize these costs between the two otherwise dissimilar nations, manufacturers choose to simply move their production to the country having to lowest cost of labor. Hence, high cost labor is outsourced to low cost labor and the products manufactured as a result are re-imported without penalty. Why pay an American laborer $35.67 per hour to manufacture something a Chinese laborer will make for $1.74 if there is no tariff to attempt to equalize the cost of re-imported goods? Capital will always chase the lowest cost labor, as the pure dollar return on investment is substantially larger, which naturally leads to a first world nation such as the United States becoming a net importer. Consequently, all three major free trade agreements increased American imports.
When importation rises, the balance of trade between the U.S. and other nations declines. Unfortunately, FRED only makes this data available from 1992 onward, but the impact of both NAFTA and PNTR with China is striking. The move of the U.S. from being a net producer to a net consumer is complete.
Net Impact of Free Trade
In addition to overall losses of jobs, both manufacturing and otherwise, losses of median household income, and a decisive decline in our trade balance, the raw exportation and importation figures of the nations counter party to the three free trade agreements presented herein are quite telling. In each case, the net change in exports vs. imports has been negative, indicating a general decline in trade. In other words, each free trade agreement has ultimately resulted in the U.S. producing less and importing more. In the case of PNTR with China, substantially more. The claims of free trade “increasing manufacturing,” “boosting job growth,” or “expanding exports for business” are absolutely, positively false when only the raw statistics are consulted.
Comparing Standards of Living and Costs of Manufacturing
According to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, there are twelve nations involved in the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Although initially noted as being absent from the TPP negotiations, President Obama let it slip that China is interested in possibly joining the TPP in the future . (Why would they want to when they’re already getting most of what they want without needing to agree to anything in return?)
To attempt to evaluate the differences between labor costs and standards of living of foreign nations, two statistics are relevant – the Human Development Index (HDI)  and the Cost of Manufacturing, which is made available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics . The HDI measures general social conditions and standard of living – higher is better or more developed. The Cost of Manufacturing is an equivalent hourly cost in $USD. For the 12 nations involved in the TPP negotiations, the HDI and Cost of Manufacturing look like this (“—” indicates data was not available):
As the table indicates, nations which have a relatively high human development index (HDI) also have a correspondingly high cost of manufacturing. If the U.S. is the benchmark, our concern then lies mainly with manufacturing moving overseas to nations with a notably lower HDI. Since one of the TPP’s main goals is to virtually eliminate trade tariffs between signatory nations, we can expect manufacturing to move from the U.S. to nations such as Mexico, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam, which (not coincidentally) is where much manufacturing has already moved for this very reason.
While China is not a party in the TPP agreement, normalized trade relations with the U.S. have resulted in an enormous amount of manufacturing moving overseas – something which President Obama and Congressional Democrats and Republicans have all called “shipping jobs overseas.” China’s HDI and cost of manufacturing is even lower than Mexico’s at 0.719 and $1.74 (2009 estimate), respectively. India is there too at 0.586 and $1.46 (2010 estimate).
There is nothing inherently evil about moving jobs overseas; this is what happens with pure capitalism – manufacturers look for the cheapest labor to best employ their capital. When the movement of manufacturing occurs within a region having level HDI and costs of living (such as within the borders of the U.S.), hardly anybody notices. Companies move around the country to states offering the best tax deals, lowest labor costs, etc., but the end result is that the net change in domestic jobs is negligible. Whether Boeing employs laborers in Washington state or North Carolina is immaterial – Americans are employed either way.
The Bottom Line
The underlying problem with the TPP and free-trade agreements in general is that they artificially “equalize” nations having dramatically different economic and social conditions by prohibiting taxation of imported goods via tariff. A laborer producing sheet metal in Pittsburgh at a cost of $35.67 an hour is not equal to a laborer producing the same sheet metal in Mexico at $6.36 an hour. Mexico has a much lower standard of living and much less onerous environmental regulations than the U.S. However, free trade treats the two as equal and we tax the sheet metal produced in Mexico exactly the same as we tax sheet metal produced in Pittsburgh – that’s a real problem.
As a manufacturer, in this scenario the best option to compete by reducing cost is to manufacture sheet metal in Mexico. The manufacturer that stays in Pittsburgh will be left at a disadvantage.
In the era before free trade, the solution to this disparity was to impose importation taxes in the form of tariffs on such sheet metal from Mexico, such that the cost of “producing” is approximately equal to the domestic cost. Then, with the price of labor removed as a competitive factor, advantages are achieved by competing on quality, reputation, etc., things upon which domestic American companies usually excel.
The other major area this impacts the American economy, which is routinely ignored by the politicians and apologists supporting such free trade agreements, is in the cost and expansion of social welfare. No nation exists which has a population universally capable of highly skilled labor. If the average American IQ is 98 (with 100 representing “average intelligence”), by definition half of the population is of higher than average intelligence and half the population is not. Those who are not require jobs that necessitate lower levels of intelligence to complete, such as physical manufacturing.
There’s nothing wrong with this, and those in lower skilled jobs aren’t worth any less than somebody of high intelligence so long as societal “value” is determined by how well someone does their job, rather than by perception of how skilled such a job is. (e.g. If you’re a ditch digger, be the best ditch digger there has ever been.)
When we remove lower skilled jobs from the domestic economy by handcuffing ourselves into a system which artificially equalizes unequal nations as trading partners, which results in those jobs moving overseas, we’re left with a pool of newly unemployed, lower skilled workers. As we have seen, the response from government in this situation is normally to 1) pretend the problem doesn’t exist, 2) expand the availability of the welfare system, 3) promote more free trade agreements to increase the amount of cheap goods so the unemployed population can continue to survive on less, and 4) expand the service economy with low paying, low skill “McJobs” that are difficult to export.
Wouldn’t it be better to retain low skill jobs domestically, even if the price of goods rose to match a stable, domestic market value unaffected by artificially low prices from “free trade,” and cut down the welfare system? Our unemployment problem would vanish overnight, tax revenue would increase correspondingly, and the economy would flourish. We would also be less beholden to communist nations that hate us, such as China.
The politicians promoting the TPP are doing so at the expense of domestic labor – it’s that simple. But, by doing so, they can guarantee that cheap, foreign imports keep an economy which has nothing left to manufacture chugging along. Thus, the status quo of an outsourced economy which requires cheap imports to survive can continue until the next politician is in line to kick the can down the road a little further.
There are only two options when it comes to free trade: high cost goods that come with domestic jobs and a strong economy, or low cost goods that come with a large welfare state and an economy that depends on outsourced labor.
We have a structural problem in this country and more free trade agreements are not the answer.
Liberty or death,
The Bulletproof Patriot
I have spent the past few days watching the HBO miniseries John Adams, which follows Adams’ life from acting as faithful counsel to the British soldiers wrongly accused of murder in the Boston Massacre on the evening of March 5, 1770, through his animosity with Thomas Jefferson, the passage of the Alien & Sedition Acts in what seemed to be a clear violation of the Constitution, the death of two of his children, and his eventual reconciliation and friendship with Jefferson which was finally put to rest on July 4, 1826 – the date exactly 50 years from the signing of the Declaration of Independence upon which both Adams and Jefferson died. In witnessing the debates on independence from Britain, the widespread thirst for the freedom of self-governance, and the passion with which those on both sides argued their cause, it has occurred to me that the vast majority of Americans, myself included, and virtually all politicians today are wholly incapable of offering an argument on either side of these original issues anywhere near the caliber of those so passionately given at the founding of this nation.
That rights come not from men, but from God, who has endowed them upon all men simply by virtue of their birth, is a principle today which is so poorly understood and cherished that it’s no wonder we willingly fall victim to the latest and greatest government coercion to “keep us safe” by taking just a little bit more of our freedoms for their own.
It’s no wonder that when Bill DeBlasio publishes his Progressive Contract with America , which appears in several areas to have been virtually plagiarized from the Communist Manifesto , nobody bothers to wonder whether or not the issue of “income inequality” is a matter with which the federal government should concern itself. Nobody bothers to argue that the federal government’s enumerated powers do not include wage disparity. Nobody even bothers to report that government intervention in private wages is a matter previously ensconced within the scope of communism. Nobody bothers wondering whether communism and freedom can coexist.
We will certainly lose this republic if we continue to allow our freedoms to be usurped in the name of safety, equality, and fairness if offered as special rights rather than as universal rights under the law. Freedom is now and has always been only one generation away from extinction and it is dangerously close to being lost.
Liberty or death,
The Bulletproof Patriot
Few things are more divisive than science, except perhaps religion and politics. Of course, when science is politicized and practiced as a religion, it becomes all the more divisive and dangerous, particularly in the hands of the self-important, know-it-all, perpetually benevolent pontificators known as legislators.
The issue of the day in many ways is belief in global warming – err, climate change. Those who buy into anthropogenic climate change lock, stock, and barrel are the “enlightened.” All others expressing even the slightest hint of doubt, if even simply to slow the debate and free it of politics so that it can be considered in an objective atmosphere, are “deniers.” As Al Gore mentioned just this month, such rubes and miscreants deserve to be “punished” by government for their denial of “accepted science .”
Public ostracization of one side or the other of any given issue is a right important enough to be protected explicitly by the First Amendment, and rightly so. Putting the weight of government behind such ostracization, regardless of cause, is not only unconstitutional but un-American. Believe what you wish and do your level best to educate those around you – but be they climate change acolytes or deniers, government cannot with good conscience be used as a tool to enforce political belief, even if the justification for such enforcement is “accepted science.”
Enter the death of the three egg omelette. For literally 50 years, every publicly-facing facet of government interested in the slightest of enabling the improvement of public health has warned far and wide that consumption of dietary cholesterol (i.e. whole eggs) is linked to heart disease. As the story goes, the complete cholesterol/heart disease (i.e. lipid) hypothesis is built on what amounts to essentially three pillars:
- Heart disease is inextricably linked to serum (blood) cholesterol level. Those with high cholesterol, particularly of the “bad” sort (LDL), are at increased risk of heart disease.
- Therefore, consumption of cholesterol by way of diet, such as consuming a daily three egg omelette, will increase serum cholesterol levels, lead to heart disease, and kill you dead. Dead.
- Consumption of saturated fats also increases serum cholesterol and therefore will lead to heart disease and also kill you stone cold dead.
The three pillars of the cholesterol/heart disease hypothesis have been shouted from every rooftop by the organizations that claim to know best – the FDA, the American Heart Association (AHA), etc. The AHA even has a Heart Smart Shopping logo which is added to supposedly “heart healthy” foods in your local grocery aisles .
The Heart Smart program even identifies which products meet its “heart healthy” guidelines so you’re not terrified that what you’re about to purchase will kill you :
- Crystal Farms All Whites – 100% Liquid Egg Whites
- Crystal Farms Better ‘n Eggs
- Crystal Farms Better ‘n Eggs Plus
- Eggland’s Best 100% Liquid Egg Whites
- Kirkland Signature Egg Whites
- Kirkland Signature Egg Whites
- Kroger Break-Free 100% Liquid Egg Whites
- Kroger Break-Free Real Egg Product
- Market Pantry 100% Egg Whites
- Market Pantry Egg Substitute
All of the “egg products” on the list are egg white only items, because, well, dietary cholesterol in the form of actual eggs will kill you. Dead. The list also includes literally no cheese products (except for “Toufayan Wheat Wraps”, which sound amazing <gag>) or meat products of at least a 96/4 non-fat/fat ratio. The list does include health-ified white bread (“whole grain white”) which from a serum glucose perspective is roughly equivalent to a small pile of table sugar.
The American Heart Association has also taken to issuing some convenient bullet points to the unwashed, uneducated bumpkins, just in case you weren’t aware of the official advice on how “bad cholesterol” in the blood can be reduced. The answer? Reducing consumption of dietary cholesterol and saturated fats, of course.
The message is clear: Dietary cholesterol will kill you.
Except that it won’t.
And not only will it not kill you, but we’ve had good science to suggest that it won’t for literally decades – we just haven’t bothered to tell you about it until now.
Now, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee  has issued new recommendations   to the FDA abandoning 50 years of dietary advice to avoid dietary cholesterol like the plague and instead dropped said previous advice to “restrict their intake of dietary cholesterol from foods like eggs and shrimp.”
According to the vice chairwoman of the advisory committee,
For many years, the cholesterol recommendation has been carried forward, but the data just doesn’t support it. [Emphasis mine.]
So, the data hasn’t supported the recommendation to avoid dietary cholesterol in the form of eggs, etc., for literally years (decades, if we’re being honest), but the committee (and others who know better from their position on the scientific front lines of the matter, such as the AHA) has chosen to propagate advice which they admit knowing was scientifically false. In other words, they’re admitting to knowingly lying to you – for your own good, of course, because you could never handle cracking whole eggs again for yourself when you can so obviously only emotionally handle “eggs” poured out of a carton.
While the committee stopped short of reversing course on their parallel advice to avoid saturated fats like the plague – because they will kill you – dead – they did manage to drop a suggestion to limit dietary fats to 35% of daily consumption. A healthy (no pun intended) cadre of scientists have also challenged the continued caution on saturated fats, which numerous modern studies have similarly failed to link to heart disease and which are cited later in this article.
While many people will ignore the impact of the committee’s change of course on dietary cholesterol, the advice never the less has a broad impact upon public health. Take, for example, the widespread propagation of the anti-cholesterol, anti-saturated fat guidelines that have been around since the 1970’s (and in some cases even earlier). In response to such advice, we now have entire generations exclusively consuming the “low fat” foods available literally everywhere – not only in salad dressings, meats, etc., but also in restaurant menus and hospitals. To this point, I was recently in a hospital room in the cardiac wing and had a chance to peruse the “cardiac patient” menu – it included nothing with whole eggs and offered only low fat or fat free items, but made white bread and bagels freely available as “healthy” options. It did not, however, make available simple piles of table sugar other than in the forms of white bread and similar items available, although this is the clear alternative when low fat food is produced – the taste lost in the fats must be replaced by something. The usual answer is sugar.
The largest disappointment with all of this dietary guideline mess is that you can test the accuracy of this advice yourself, and I did just that last year. After meeting with my doctor for an annual physical, my physician mentioned that my cholesterol and blood pressure were both high. He inquired of my diet and exercise and I responded that I was moderately active (and highly active 2-3 days per week for at least one hour per day at the time) and was eating a low fat diet with more vegetables than I’d normally consumed previously. I was eating egg whites (poured out of a carton rather than cracked from an actual egg), skim milk, fat free cheese, and 96/4 meats. I cooked with canola oil and never ate bacon.
His advice was to reduce my dietary cholesterol and fat intake further.
I didn’t take his advice. I set out on my own, ignored the common knowledge of the masses and AHA to consume a “healthy, cholesterol-free, low fat diet” and changed my ways. I threw out the skim milk and substituted whole milk. Fat free cheese and sour cream was replaced with the regular stuff. Egg whites from a carton where replaced with actual eggs (like, from a real hen – if you’ve never seen one in person for fear of dying of heart disease, take a brief look here). Bagels and muffins were replaced with eggs, sausage, or bacon. The 96/4 meats were replaced with 80/20 or 85/15 (because let’s face it – the 73/27 stuff is just gross). I also ditched most refined carbohydrates – sugars and processed foods.
As my annual physical approached, I was worried. I was now eating all of the “unhealthy” foods the AHA and federal government advised would be cardiac suicide. If I was wrong, my daily breakfast of eggs and sausage would clearly reflect in my blood cholesterol levels.
When the blood work came back, I was surprised – not only had my blood pressure normalized (and with much less routine exercise than my previous year), but my cholesterol levels had improved by 15-20% across the board, a very statistically significant change.
Had the government’s cholesterol and fat recommendations been correct, my serum cholesterol levels should be through the roof. They’re not. Why? Because eating actual eggs won’t kill you and it’s only taken decades of knowingly false advice and millions of dead heart disease patients to get us to finally admit it.
In addition to the much delayed but finally corrected government advice on dietary cholesterol and the federal blessing to once again consume real eggs without having to strain all of the taste out to be “heart healthy,” there is a relatively substantial push to finally review the impact of saturated fats on cardiovascular disease. Numerous recent studies have suggested that the same 50 year old advice to avoid saturated fats like the plague – because they will kill you dead – is overblown and that dietary saturated fats have little impact upon serum fatty acids.
A few of the more notable selections:
- Effects of Step-Wise Increases in Dietary Carbohydrate on Circulating Saturated Fatty Acids and Palmitoleic Acid in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome, PLoS One (Nov 21, 2014) 
- Saturated fat prevents coronary artery disease? An American paradox., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (November 2004) 
- Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (January 2010) 
- Dietary Fat and Coronary Heart Disease: Summary of Evidence from Prospective Cohort and Randomised Controlled Trials, Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism (September 2009) 
- Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Annals of Internal Medicine (March 2014)  
The last citation in the list is perhaps the largest study of its kind to date on the correlation of cardiovascular disease and dietary saturated fat consumption. The conclusion is rather earth shattering for an establishment married to the status quo.
Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.
Predictably, the study has drawn fire from critics and any persuasive argument should be expected to do so. However, the degree of criticism and the virulence of it smack of rabid defense of religious dietary dogma rather than intellectual discussion, typical of what is expected when one side or the other seizes upon a particular piece of “science,” politicizes it, and uses it to bludgeon the opposition, defending their own conclusions at all costs. Rather than lay out out a considered rebuttal, critics of the study were quoted in Science suggesting that the conclusion of the original paper be withdrawn and the correction be widely publicized . Because, well, nobody could ever come to a different conclusion than the majority of scientists. That could never happen. Ever.
To be fair, some rational criticism was lodged and the original paper was corrected and reissued later after errors in the data analysis were revised. However, the overall conclusion of the paper remained unchanged .
The issue reached the level of public discourse that Scientific American ran an article discussing the science linking saturated fats and cardiovascular disease back in 2010 . Their conclusion is similar to those of the studies cited above, namely that while saturated fats may not be a “good” source of calories, they don’t deserve the stigma of being a “bad” source either and in the end are effectively neutral when it comes to disease. However, when compared to the suggested alternatives – processed, sugar-laden garbage – you’re much better off consuming a moderate amount of fats and not worrying about it.
Eat less saturated fat: that has been the take-home message from the U.S. government for the past 30 years. But while Americans have dutifully reduced the percentage of daily calories from saturated fat since 1970, the obesity rate during that time has more than doubled, diabetes has tripled, and heart disease is still the country’s biggest killer. Now a spate of new research, including a meta-analysis of nearly two dozen studies, suggests a reason why: investigators may have picked the wrong culprit. Processed carbohydrates, which many Americans eat today in place of fat, may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease more than fat does—a finding that has serious implications for new dietary guidelines expected this year…
Nobody is advocating that people start gorging themselves on saturated fats, tempting as that may sound. Some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in fish and olive oil, can protect against heart disease. What is more, some high-fiber carbohydrates are unquestionably good for the body. But saturated fats may ultimately be neutral compared with processed carbs and sugars such as those found in cereals, breads, pasta and cookies.
“If you reduce saturated fat and replace it with high glycemic-index carbohydrates, you may not only not get benefits—you might actually produce harm,” Ludwig argues. The next time you eat a piece of buttered toast, he says, consider that “butter is actually the more healthful component.”
Ancel Keys and the Seven Countries Study
The back story to all of this began in the 1950’s with Ancel Keys’ Seven Countries Study, which formally began in 1958 and was first published in 1970 . The study purported to show a clear trend between dietary fat consumption and increased deaths from cardiovascular disease. The touchstone figure from the study, which has informed the past 50 years of official advice on saturated fats, is shown below.
Unfortunately, when all of the collected data is included the trend is far less clear. In fact, the trend is so unclear and the margin of error so great that a mathematical trend is effectively indiscernible. The same figure, published without cherry-picking the data, paints a different picture. When fats exceed 15% of dietary calories (well below the 35% long recommended by the federal government and AHA), a trend simply does not exist. A person consuming 25% of calories from fat has a risk of cardiovascular disease ranging from 2 – 7 deaths per 1000. The same person consuming 40% of calories from fat has a similar risk of 2.5 – 7.5 deaths per 1000, or a statistically insignificant change.
So, what’s the real story here? While a diet intentionally and primarily filled with saturated fats still isn’t a good suggestion for anyone, avoiding saturated fats and cholesterol like the plague is unsupported by science – after all, up to 75% of heart attack patients presenting to the Emergency Room have “normal” cholesterol levels . The federal government has finally caught up with “accepted science” on the issue, at least with regard to eggs and shrimp. In another decade or two, they might catch up with saturated fats.
Until then, do yourself a favor and ditch the egg whites and white bread because, in spite of the government’s always truthful, honest, and science-minded advice, they just might be aiding you in committing cardiac suicide.
(But don’t worry, they’ll tell you so in 20 or 30 years.)
Liberty or death,
The Bulletproof Patriot
Note: If the government’s strict adherence to the “accepted science” of dietary cholesterol causing heart disease, which they have known to be wrong literally for decades, is any indication, perhaps we should be more careful when orienting the entire governmental structure towards combating climate change. Politicizing any issue, particularly when one side or the other claims the issue as their own and wields it as a political tool to attack “deniers,” is a fabulous indicator that actual science has been abandoned and you’re being sold a complete and total lie.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, we must extract the core issues from the political do-gooders and beneficiaries first, examine them in an objective light, and come to a reasoned, sane conclusion. Public policy made by bludgeoning those who disagree with “accepted science” is stupid policy in all cases, whether it turns out to be right or wrong.
Science, by its very nature, is never perfect. Treating it as if it is will always lead us down the road to disaster.
I came across a recent article from Wisconsin. It appears that a free public service offered by the Beloit Police Department includes searching your house for guns. Yes…you read that correctly. Of course, this service is voluntary, and according to the article the Chief doesn’t expect many takers . But honestly, who would be foolish enough to take the Chief up on his invitation? In requesting this assistance you would be completely shredding your 4th and 5th amendment rights. Furthermore, anything else they find in the process of looking for guns could lead to your arrest. Do you know everything that is potentially illegal under local, state, or federal law? What about a soft-point bullet (required for deer hunting) that may be against some draconian local ordinance against “expanding” ammunition? What if a wrong-number caller dials your house during the search asking about where to meet up for a meth deal? How about finding a duplicate of a copyrighted DVD that was squirreled away out of sight by a previous homeowner? My presumption in those situations is that you may be arrested and brought up on criminal or civil charges when you actually did nothing illegal or worse, tried to comply with one law while unknowingly breaking another!
Are you completely sure that everything in your house, car, or on your person is compliant with all laws – even the ones that you don’t even know exist?
Your legislators toil over what the Police are legally allowed to do without the consent of the public. They document this information in the statutes and are supposed to balance individual rights in tandem with the interests of the state in stopping illegal activity. We all know that in many cases the laws favor the state over individual rights, but the general public seems all too eager to give up their remaining rights in any situation involving police contact.
Most people don’t seem to understand that you are legally able to refuse a vehicle search in all but exigent circumstances. It’s not the fault of the Police that people aren’t aware of this. If police officers were legally required to inform you of all your rights at any point during any encounter, they would be unable to do their other duties. But, regardless of what is in the statutes, the Police can do literally anything they ask if members of public sheepishly bow down and allow them to.
This discussion is not about trying to stop Police from doing their jobs; the goal is for people to understand their rights and exercise them at will in ANY situation – especially when your freedom is on the line when interacting with the Police. If you aren’t willing to flex your 4th and 5th amendment rights during a Police encounter, then you may as well not even have these rights in the first place. People have fought and died for these rights! A right unused is lost indeed.
Some Police are so accustomed to people bowing down that it may appear to be “suspicious” to them when someone actually does choose to exercise their rights. Let me assure you that the only suspicion that counts in the eyes of the law is the burden of “reasonable, articulable suspicion,” not just a “hunch.” Worse, our media surrounds us with examples of people readily throwing their rights aside at the drop of a hat. Crime dramas regularly show people inviting the Police into their home or business to talk and answering interview questions without a lawyer present. Our media has overwhelmed us with actors who neither understand nor exercise their rights.
The Police may request many things of you that you are not legally required to accommodate. It is also legal for Police to lie to you – but if you attempt the reverse you could be arrested for obstruction. And unfortunately, due to the absolute genius of our Supreme Court, invoking your right to remain silent requires speaking . If you don’t invoke your right to remain silent (by talking), then anything including body language or other non-verbal clues may be used against you. This is but a sample of disadvantages that citizens must deal with. Even when retaining your fundamental rights, the deck has already been stacked against you.
Nothing in this post should be misconstrued as anti-Police. Police are employed to enforce laws and it is their job to find and arrest law-breakers. This post is instead encouraging law-abiding citizens to exercise their God-endowed rights to avoid getting tangled up in the horrific web of conflicting or unknown criminal laws.
If you don’t have the entire federal code and local statutes memorized, you need to control a Police encounter as much as possible by asserting your own rights. Nobody else can do it for you.
Yours in Freedom,
B. A. Smith
Many have tried to reconcile Socialism with the Bible. All have failed.
This is the first installment of a multi-part series on how American Christians should view their government and economic system. My starting point for this series is a book that I found in our household archives. The textbook “Understanding the Times” by David Noebel turned up during a fall purge in our basement and explains the world views of Humanists, Marxists, and Christians in clear language using quotations (within context) and ideals from each movement’s recognized thought leaders. Curious, I started reading the Chapter on Economics and was immediately captivated. In fact, the information is so important and clearly explained that Christians all over the country need to consider redoubling their commitment to Capitalism.
I have news for any Christian who wonders about Socialism: One cannot reconcile Socialism with The Bible.
A common pseudo-Biblical defense of Socialism comes from Acts 2:44-45, which states,
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
As my pastor often says “text without context is just a CON.” The context of these verses includes the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the daily expansion of the Early Church. These were very critical times for the church. No written account had yet been made of Jesus’ life. The spread of Jesus’ grace and acceptance of all Jews and Gentiles who believed in him was dependent on the actions of disciples and other early believers. Active resistance to the new movement (Acts 4 and onward) describes the situation as tepid, culminating in the martyring of Stephen by stoning in Chapter 7. However, this sharing of personal possessions was voluntary and limited to a small quorum of trusted believers. They were not commanded to do so by God, but decided on their own that it was beneficial for this precarious phase. Tough times call for smart measures and a group of people to support each other in a common goal. They acted as a single, coherent group of people as noted in Acts 4:33 above.
It is likely that the believers were expecting Jesus’ immediate return to earth, as described in Matthew 24. By sharing many of their own earthly possessions with their brothers, they were able to focus completely on the spreading of God’s word. They had a great sense of urgency – they were rightly concerned that their friends and families may be caught on the wrong side during the return of Jesus, which was foretold to be a disastrous time for mankind in Matthew 24. Please further note that though they willingly shared their property within their own community, their property was not owned by the State, and was also freely given to others as charity (and not forced by taxation). It will become quite clear that God supports and encourages the owning of private property and asks us to be good stewards of such property.
Civil law as noted in Exodus 22 and onward demonstrates how God applies his justice to implement the 10 commandments in Exodus 20. Exodus 22:1-15 unequivocally endorses the reality of private property, where it may be possessed (Verse 1 – to be stolen, it must first be owned), secured and defended (Verses 2-3), and respected by others – including making it whole again if necessary (Verses 4-15).
Exodus 22 – Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep. 2 If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; 3 but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed. Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft. 4 If the stolen animal is found alive in their possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—they must pay back double. 5 If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of their own field or vineyard. 6 If a fire breaks out and spreads into thorn bushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.
7 If anyone gives a neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, the thief, if caught, must pay back double.8 But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges, and they must determine whether the owner of the house has laid hands on the other person’s property. 9 In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to the other.
10 If anyone gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to their neighbor for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no one is looking, 11 the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the Lord that the neighbor did not lay hands on the other person’s property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required. 12 But if the animal was stolen from the neighbor, restitution must be made to the owner. 13 If it was torn to pieces by a wild animal, the neighbor shall bring in the remains as evidence and shall not be required to pay for the torn animal.
14 If anyone borrows an animal from their neighbor and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, they must make restitution. 15 But if the owner is with the animal, the borrower will not have to pay. If the animal was hired, the money paid for the hire covers the loss.
It is further noted that man is responsible to God for how he uses his possessions. Property is the earthly, tangible reward for hard work (Proverbs 10:4 and 14:23, 2 Thes 3:10). Property owners both deserve and may enjoy their possessions as noted by “my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:21-22) and “for the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7). As summarized by Noebel on Page 698-699, “Since God grants man private ownership of certain aspects of His creation, man becomes accountable to God for the way in which he uses his property. In God’s wonderfully intricate plan, the duty to work gives rise to the right to property, which in turn creates the duty to use property wisely…the use of property to serve others can only occur in a society in which property is privately owned. Public owned property destroys man’s sense of responsibility to use his possessions wisely.”
To prove this point, think about community owned items that are utilized by Americans. Office refrigerators used primarily for lunches quickly move from spotless to stuffed with spoiled food in a matter of weeks. The refrigerator will not be cleaned until it gets so nauseating that someone puts up a sign to notify people of their personal intent to eradicate the hideous mess. Along the same lines, clean college dorm bathrooms have a single day life-cycle prior to becoming soiled with toilet paper and excrement. The reality of social loafing doesn’t take long to realize. In nearly every situation, community ownership provides lower quality property to anybody who actually has to use it. Then, the poor quality of the shared items simply perpetuates disrespectful behavior toward any future property. It really is that simple.
The next major obstacle faced by the Christian Capitalist is how to respond to the concept of economic inequality. It is a fact and requirement that capitalism results in some economic inequality. Modern day Progressives champion this issue, even while many of them claim to be moderates. But it is nothing more than phony class warfare intended to drum up support for concealed Socialist policies and hatred of Capitalism. The real issue at hand should be redirected away from guaranteed economic results and pointed toward widespread economic opportunity. The reality is that God and the Bible are great equal opportunity and individual rights enthusiasts (this series will demonstrate this beyond a shadow of a doubt). After all, God gave us all a chance to share in his heavenly glory by sacrificing Jesus so that even in our sin, we may appear spotless to him. This is a free gift to anyone who would accept it. We have the right to individually accept or reject the free gift putting our trust in Jesus. Your path to heaven or hell is judged solely on your faith, not on any type of human collective will. There are no bonus points for just growing up alongside Christians, having Christian friends, taking part in societal norms, being baptized as an infant, or being the subject of fervent prayer by your friends after you are gone. You determine your own destiny through choices that you make. Sound familiar to any particular economic system?
Nowhere does Jesus demonstrate using the government to provide charitable assistance. To the contrary, Jesus unmistakably acknowledges private charity. Matthew 6:3-4 warns not to make a spectacle of one’s charitable giving:
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Additionally, 2 Corinthians 9:7 notes,
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
This verse is contained in a sub-section of the chapter that encourages generosity toward others. This generosity is an outflowing of your faith in God that is directed toward your fellow man. It is without a doubt that the Bible clearly asks Christians to be generous with their gifts and talents for the will of God. It should be based on love and compassion, not contrived through pressure or fear of governmental retribution. However, Socialism’s variety of government-run assistance programs (many of which amount to incredibly inefficient publicly-run charities) have to be funded through paying taxes. Because taxes would be collected under the force of law, any non-compliance would subject a person to criminal or civil penalties for failure to pay. Therefore, the act of funding collective Socialist welfare ultimately amounts to the threat of force against taxpayers to fund causes that they may or may not agree with. This is a key problem with redistribution and public welfare. Furthermore, it implies that the government is able to use your money for charitable purposes better or more efficiently than how God would direct you to do so.
In short, the Bible does not instruct Christians to use government as a means to dispense charity. So what are Christians to do if the government has declared that redistribution is part of its function? To be clear, Christians are called on to pay all the taxes that they legally owe. However, we get a clue about what our tax money should go towards in Romans 13:6:
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
God acknowledges that governments must have money to operate. Courts and other Biblical government functions require financial resources and some full-time staff who work and therefore deserve to be paid a fair salary. But the dispensing of welfare to the public at large is a completely different matter. More on this in a future installment.
Finally, the topic comes full circle back to social justice. Is God fair? Does he expect us to be fair? Is Capitalism unfair? And, ultimately, what is fair? Noebel clearly notes what justice is on page 702:
Justice is not based on equal income but on opportunity equally unhindered by coercive shackles…And equal opportunity means not that everyone must start with the same skills and social contacts, but that no one must be prohibited by law from attempting something morally legitimate in the marketplace.
Because God promises to gives us unique and unequal talents, the notion that we should all receive an equal economic outcome (despite our differing abilities) would be completely preposterous. The differing abilities, circumstances, and God-ordained role for each person will naturally lead to an unequal outcome of wealth or influence. Capitalism allows those unique areas of specialization to benefit the overall economy by allowing people to pursue their passions and interests. Per Noebel:
Competition encourages cooperation in a capitalist society, because men in such a system act in accordance with the principle of competitive advantage. This principle basically states that every member of a free market society can produce a valuable good or service by specializing in the area in which he enjoys the least absolute disadvantage.
Examples of this attitude are simple to see in everyday life. The presence of logistics companies like UPS keep small products moving to customers – items that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive to stock and purchase nearby due to small local demand. The specialization of technology by medical device companies enables faster and more accurate diagnoses by doctors to speed recovery and treatment. Finally, grocery stores enable non-farmers to purchase food so they can work on executing on their areas of specialization without having to burden themselves with cultivating their own cabbage and slaughtering their own chickens.
There are surprisingly few specific guarantees in the Bible – and listed nowhere is an equal share of the economic pie. Furthermore, the Bible is clear that favoritism to either end of the spectrum of rich or poor is unwise. Leviticus 19:15 indicates that one should judge their neighbor fairly and not be partial to the poor or rich:
Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
Exodus 23:2-3 and 23:6 warn further against unfairly favoring or discriminating against the poor:
Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.
Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.
There are many other verses that deal with this issue, but the big idea is this: Christians are called to help our neighbors with our free will giving and charity—but stacking the deck to favor the rich or poor in a political or economic system is not Biblical. In fact, redistribution normally backfires on the very people it is intended to assist. No person wants to be on the giving end of this practice all the time. Noebel states on page 707:
Because members of such a society want to be part of the group receiving redistributed wealth, they recognize the value of organizing to influence government. Citizens who would otherwise focus their energies on earning income in the marketplace now focus on organizing political movements, thereby eliminating themselves as potential sources of wealth for themselves and others.
Instead of growing their businesses to expand the demand for labor that benefits the economy, business owners may be tempted to expend their efforts on trying to game the system for their benefit (after all, everyone else is doing it!) or prevent themselves from being taken advantage of by others, and indeed this happens on a daily basis.
No economic system (or invention of man) is capable of living up to every single standard of God. But, of all the economic systems, Capitalism is in the greatest objective alignment with the Bible.
Yours in freedom,
A derivative in the finance world is a contract which derives its value from the performance of some underlying entity. Derivatives can be used in many ways, but the easiest way to think of them is as an insurance policy against the price of a commodity, stock, currency, etc. changing. Derivatives can and are frequently used to allow businesses to insulate themselves for a given period of time against wild price swings in whatever business they engage.
One of the more common commodity derivatives that consumers experience is on oil or fuel prices. The airline industry, for example, routinely buys derivative contracts on fuel costs to ensure that their business doesn’t suddenly become bankrupt if oil prices skyrocket. This is the reason that when oil suddenly jumps from $80 a barrel to $120 a barrel, your plane ticket prices don’t suddenly rise by 50% – the airline’s derivative contract protects whatever price is agreed to in the contract and the difference between that figure and the current market value is made up by whoever owns the contract (usually one of the big banks).
Shale oil producers (fracking) are another major buyer of this sort of derivative contract, as their business depends upon a high market oil price (most estimates put this somewhere around $70 per barrel) – below this price, shale oil production is not economical. With the ongoing slide in oil prices, which dropped from about $100 per barrel in January to under $60 just recently, numerous derivative contracts are currently being activated to keep the shale producers in business.
In a sane market, this is not a problem because derivative contracts are only activated intermittently – oil price drops tend to be transient events, lasting for a relatively brief period. While oil is down, many other things are not, so the insurer is stable. Similarly, if a neighborhood experiences a heavy hail storm and all of the roofing and vehicles parked outside are damaged, the insurers can handle the expense when all of those homeowners and vehicle owners file their claim for roof and vehicle repair because the damage is limited to one neighborhood. If an entire state suddenly needs roof and vehicle repair, the insurer is up the creek and may find themselves bankrupt under a mountain of claims, but the risk of this happening is slim.
The problem with financial derivatives is that so many of them are dependent upon a good overall state of the economy. If the economy experiences a widespread drop, as it did in 2008, derivatives activation suddenly becomes a real problem for the owners, who lack the cash or liquid assets to sell to fulfill the contract when claims are made.
For this reason, in 2008 the big banks were routinely trading in derivatives through entities which are federally insured by the FDIC. This allowed them to deal in much riskier contracts because even if the bank wasn’t able to back the contract up in the event of a widespread economic drop, the counter party (buyer of the derivative) could make a claim upon the federal government to fulfill the contract. Thus, the American taxpayer found himself on the hook for risky derivative bets made by the big banks.
In 2010, for all of the failure to enact real financial reform (a problem that still widely exists today), the Dodd-Frank reform bill did manage to succeed in banning the banks from dealing in derivatives through federally insured entities. The purpose of this was to 1) force the banks to determine risk based upon their own assets rather than assuming the federal government would be there if they failed, and 2) to remove the risk of the taxpayer having to “bail out” the banks again in the event of a massive derivatives explosion.
Yesterday, the U.S. House passed a $1.1 trillion omnibus bill that includes a rider inserted by Republicans which repeals the Dodd-Frank ban on derivatives trading through federally insured entities. If the Senate approves the measure (and they will), the taxpayer will once again be the backstop for potentially any failed contract the banks choose to sign, and since the taxpayer bailed the banks out in 2008, certainly they will do it again in 2015!
Privatize the gains, socialize the losses. There are few things more immoral.
The Democrats, to their credit, have been railing against this provision in the House bill and Elizabeth Warren looks to be leading the charge. She’s right to do so – this is a TERRIBLE provision inserted by a bunch of corrupt, unprincipled Republican party hacks who are more interested in saving their own asses than securing yours.
Oh, and for the record, Colorado’s newly-elected Senator Cory Gardner voted in favor of the bill, including the derivatives rider .
In advancing this bill, the Republican party has also removed any leverage the incoming majority has to pressure the White House to moderate its actions, particularly on immigration. If you’ve ever needed a clear reason to believe that both the Republicans and Democrats are selling your rear end to the cheapest bidder, look no further than yesterday’s vote.
Congress will never, ever limit itself to the constraints placed upon it by Article 1, Section 8. It’s up to the States and the People to do so, and we have fallen down on the job, all the while believing that voting still matters.
As of yesterday, it doesn’t.
It’s time for an Article V convention so that the States and the People can flex their muscles, amend the Constitution, and re-shackle Congress to a much shorter leash.
Let’s start with a balanced budget amendment, term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court, and a clear and unambiguous definition of the meaning and extent of “interstate commerce.” If we’re really on a roll, we might even consider a redesign or outright repeal of the income tax (16th Amendment) and implementation of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, requiring voter approval in the general election before any tax increase takes effect.
Beyond the duties specifically enumerated in Article 1, Section 8, Congress should be silent.
It is our responsibility to make it so.
Liberty or death,
The Bulletproof Patriot
While a decent portion of this country is entertaining themselves by inciting race riots in Ferguson, MO, to “protest” the Grand Jury’s decision to decline to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown and condoning and supporting such lawless behavior by the likes of Time Magazine , it is once again left to the few to clean up the social mess brought about by this country’s perpetual self-victimized class and their benefactors in government and many parts of the media.
During the riots, Natalie Dubose’s bakery, Natalie’s Cakes and More was damaged and looted . Natalie is a single mother of two and saved up to start her bakery by selling cakes at bake sales. By all accounts, this young lady is the real deal – making the best of herself as an American, working hard to achieve success, and busting her ass to support her two children.
Let’s help her rebuild her shop, because part of working to preserve individual liberty is the charge of personal charity to those honestly in need. Freedom and liberty know no party or race – they’re simply American values that exist in the very fabric of this nation, because that is what Americans are about.
For those who believe that “social justice” or “racial justice” are worthy causes and that the appropriate method to secure both is to burn down small businesses, vehicles, and otherwise destroy the livelihoods of your neighbors like pathetic, lawness animals, I give you an enormous one finger salute, a sincere plea that God forgets you were ever my countrymen, and leave you with the thought that apart from equal justice, there is no justice at all.
Liberty or death,
The Bulletproof Patriot