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Entitlements

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The definition of entitlement from the Encarta Dictionary: English (North America) “to give somebody the right to have or to do something” [emphasis mine].  Merriam-Webster defines it as “a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also: funds supporting or distributed by such a program” [again, emphasis mine].

What truly are entitlements as the term applies to our daily lives?  According to A Glossary of Political Economy Terms by Paul M. Johnson of the Department of Political Science, Auburn University – the most important examples of entitlement programs at the federal level in the United States would include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, most Veterans’ Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs. Based on the definition above, the activities should not be called entitlements.

I would though argue that benefits such as Veterans’ Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans should not be included at all.  These programs were earned through employment – as are any such programs in the private sector.  Although programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are paid for by the eventual receiver of the benefit they are unconstitutional activities of the Federal Government.

Oft cited as justification for Entitlement programs is the “general Welfare of the United States” parts of the United States Constitution.  The Constitution contains two references to “the General Welfare”, one occurring in the Preamble and the other in the Taxing and Spending Clause. The U.S. Supreme Court has held the mention of the clause in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution “has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the United States or on any of its Departments.”  This leaves the Taxing and Spending Clause which reads, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States…”.  However, while the “general Welfare” has been, and I agree should be, interpreted as many things, it says nothing of redistribution of wealth programs – exactly what these so called entitlements are.

Per the official Social Security website: “The constitutional issue about the taxing power had deep roots running all the way back to the founders and to a dispute between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Although both Hamilton and Madison were Federalists who believed in a strong federal government, they disagreed over the interpretation of the Constitution’s permission for the government to levy taxes and spend money to ‘provide for the general welfare.’ Hamilton thought this meant that government could levy new taxes and undertake new spending if doing so improved the general welfare in a broad sense. Madison thought the federal government could only expend money for purposes specifically enumerated in the Constitution.  The Madisonian view, also shared by Thomas Jefferson [an Anti-Federalist], came in time to be known as the strict construction doctrine while the Hamiltonian view is called the doctrine of implied powers.”  Obviously I completely agree with Madison and Jefferson.  When you throw the 10th Amendment into the mix it makes little sense for the general welfare to be interpreted as Hamilton did.  IF, as he suggests, “government could levy new taxes and undertake new spending if doing so improved the general welfare in a broad sense”, thereby opening the door to those “implied powers”, it could basically do whatever it wanted.  It would operate with complete impunity.  Can you say $16T debt?  Can you say 10th Amendment disregarded?  Keep in mind, the 10th Amendment not only covers the States but “we the people” as well.  Considering it is not only our rights being ignored but our money used to pay for these programs, it may be something with which you should concern yourself.  Just a thougth…

According to Paul M. Johnson, “The existence of entitlement programs is mainly significant from a political economy standpoint because of the very difficult problems they create for Congress’s efforts to control the exact size of the budget deficit or surplus through the annual appropriations process.”  As well, “Since the middle 1980s, entitlement programs have accounted for more than half of all federal spending. Taken together with such other almost uncontrollable (in the short run, that is) expenses as interest payments on the national debt and the payment obligations arising from long-term contracts already entered into by the government in past years, entitlement programs leave Congress with no more than about 25% of the annual budget to be scrutinized for possible cutbacks through the regular appropriations process.”  This of course presupposes that you can’t touch such programs.  I have a revelation!  How about we get rid of these programs?  How about if people “need” assistance we leave it to the States (should any individual State choose to have such programs), private charity or family/friends.  Wow, what a concept.  I cannot take credit for it though.  It was around for thousands of years prior to our Entitlement programs being implemented.

Bottom line:  this is a pure and simple redistribution of wealth which boils down to legalized (and unconstitutional) theft.  They are taking money from one to give to another.  The first receives no compensation or benefit from the “transaction”.  As well, per the Merriam-Webster definition of “a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group”, one can hardly argue that it is providing “for the … general Welfare of the United States”.  These programs are providing for specific groups of people that fit specific criteria.
That is NOT the general welfare of our country directly or indirectly!  For those that doubt, we will take a look at the Broken Window Theory at a future date.

I went through the Constitution (again!) to look for rationale above and beyond that normally claimed to support these programs.  I found none.  However, what I DID find were violations of MY rights (and yours).  Since those that come up with these ideas seem bent on interpreting the Constitution in any way they see fit, I am going to throw out these arguments as I see them (two can play at that game).

Taking my money to pay for unearned entitlements for others, and, in fact, specific groups such as the poor and farmers, violates my 4th Amendment rights.  That is, it violates my right to “be secure in [my] … effects, against unreasonable … seizures…”  In this case, taking my money to give to someone else is in effect seizing my “effects” (no pun intended).  It is unreasonable since I receive no benefit from the seizure and have no say in either how much is taken or to whom it is given.  In fact, I actually become less secure in my person and house since I have less money with which to secure family and myself.  In a similar vein, this would also violate my 5th Amendment rights.  These being “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”  In this case we are not even talking about “private property be[ing] taken for public use”.  The money (property) they are taking from me is designated for specific groups, not to be used for the public.  Due process of law means “a fundamental, constitutional guarantee that all legal proceedings will be fair and that one will be given notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard before the government acts to take away one’s life, liberty, or property. Also, a constitutional guarantee that a law shall not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious.”  This specifically applies to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” (i.e., ME!) and, while specified in the 5th Amendment this applies to States as well per the 14th.

I am also going to claim my 8th Amendment rights have been violated.  My claim in this is that since this amendment does not claim to be specific to criminals (as may be presumed by its wording), it is applicable to every citizen.  Therefore, this theft of my funds is an “…excessive fines imposed…” which results in “…cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”.  I am being unduly punished by having my money taken, again with no benefit to me, and reducing my standard of living.

Additionally I am claiming a violation of my 10th Amendment rights.  This of course is the amendment that ensures “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  I am “the people”.  While I might agree that many of these programs could be enacted and implemented at the State level (should the people of that State so choose and it is done so in a manner so as not to violate my 14th Amendment rights), until then, and as long as it is the Federal government doing it, I am being denied my constitutional rights.  I have all those rights not enumerated in Article I, Section 8.

I am finally claiming my 13th Amendment rights are violated.  As I’m sure you will recall, this amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  I am claiming that this theft of my funds amounts to involuntary servitude.  I work and do not receive the entire benefit of my labor.  The time I must work to earn that which is taken to redistribute is involuntary servitude.  I have committed no crime.  Why am I being punished?

On the other hand, since we technically live in a Representative Democracy, we may as well just scrap the Constitution (Articles I and II excepted since in order to be a Representative Democracy, you need representatives) and let our duly elected representatives (Congress and the President) enact any laws they wish.  If we don’t like it, we just elect new ones and have them change it.  Based on the treatment of the Constitution over the last 50-60 years (to a more limited extent even longer), we are effectively doing this anyway.  Why not save the money being paid to the Judicial Branch and just scrap it?  No Constitution, no need to interpret it, no need for a Supreme Court (and all the support structure that goes with it).  Per the United States Courts website, “the Judiciary as a whole would receive $6.76 billion” in fiscal year 2012.  More for those Entitlement programs!

You may claim these arguments are silly, unrealistic or just plain ridiculous.  However, keep in mind, when we look at an application of our Constitution based on moving standards vice the original intent of the drafters and common sense, we can eventually make it say virtually anything we want.  Did I say “virtually”?  hmmmmmm

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…

The Union of American Socialist Republics (UASR) ~ U.S. Socialism

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It is official: the “U.S.” is now, and I suspect forever more will be, a Socialist nation.  We are no longer the United States of America.  The 10th Amendment has been all but nullified.  A reminder to those that “have better things to do” than learn the government of our country:  The 10th Amendment reads “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”  Depending on exactly how you count them, the enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 number 18.  In addition, amendments, such as the 16th, granting power to “lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived”, add a few more.  Unfortunately that particular amendment seems to be a major contributing factor to the redistribution of wealth.  [In addition, according to official records, the amendment was technically never ratified (although it was proclaimed to have been in February 1913 by then Secretary of State Philander Knox).  Hmmmm. But that is a story for another time.  The government is going to get its money somehow…]  Regardless, these powers are by definition enumerated and therefore finite.  The Socialists currently running the country, and those especially of the more recent past that have been little by little pushing their Socialist causes, can’t seem to count.  They tend to make them up as they go to fit the need they have to cause dependence and then steal from those that work for their status in life and community to pay for those that become reliant.

We are now the Union of American Socialist Republics (UASR).  The evil that is Socialism is now our national governing philosophy.   There is no turning back.  Those bent on stealing from their fellow countrymen under the guise of government have won.  They are not even feigning the desire for, or goal of, Communism where at least all are supposed to be “equal” in worth and provide all they are able and take only what they need.  There is no “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  They are better than us.  They are smarter than us.  They know what is best for us.  And they are going to provide what we “need” whether we need it or not.  And of course in the true Socialist fashion, they are going to steal and borrow (technically also stealing when you can’t pay it back) from those that have to pay for it.

There is nothing now we can do.  We have crossed the “magic line”.  The percentage of those that pay no Federal or State income tax is at 51% (some argue only 49% – however, keep reading… even it that percentage is accurate, they have friends!).  While I will agree that it is virtually impossible to completely escape taxes (gas, sales, etc), for all practical purposes these people are living off the government’s (aka – taxpayer’s) dime.  They outnumber those that contribute their hard earned wages to the common good.  They will never let us go back.  They are greater in number and they vote.  What’s more, many bleeding heart liberals (the pawns of the movement) that have been convinced these people are incapable of supporting themselves vote as well.  They are willing to sacrifice ALL our money to the “Cause of the Bleeding Heart” (the fact that it has nothing truly to bleed for is beside the point).  They are also unwilling to admit that state and local governments, under that watchful eye of local voters, along with charitable organizations are capable of taking care of those truly in need.  It is apparently better to steal from your neighbor for your cause than allow your neighbor the choice of his.

The major remaining question is: “What happens when the victims (aka – those that actually DO pay taxes) run out of money?”  Or what happens when the victims decide enough is enough and stop working themselves?  If they are working for 20-25% of their pay, why work at all?  Or maybe take their money to another country.  Don’t think it can/will happen?  Consider the ultra-rich French film star Gerard Depardieu who recently sold everything and moved to Belgium.  He moved to the little “hamlet” of Nechin.  Nechin’s population of 2000 is approximately one-third French (I for one do NOT wonder why).  Or France’s richest man Bernard Arnault who applied for Belgian citizenship.  Arnault decided he will continue to pay the 75% tax on his income (for now anyway).  However, there has been a shot across the bow.  He is making a point.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he soon joined Depardieu.  The concern is: what happens when the ultra-rich in the U.S. get the same idea?  They take their money with them (presuming they don’t run out first).  They stop paying taxes in the U.S.  Who makes up for that deficit?  Under current policy of course we would just borrow more.  Our children and grandchildren will get the bill.  No worries.  [Just a quick aside – those ultra-rich that pay all those taxes to begin with (and whom some believe should pay even more) are the ones that create jobs for the rest of us.  If they quite or leave, not only no taxes, but no jobs.  A result of the “law of unintended consequences” (or are they unintended???).]

Our destiny is of that of North Korea, Cuba, and Greece.  Those in power will survive off the backs of the rest of us.  We, just as they, will lose the middle class.  Not a rich living, but at least a nice one.  We will become the servants of the few rich, the few powerful.  They of course will be in the government controlling us.  The ones most of our fellow citizens voted for.  What our fellow citizens don’t understand is that in accepting the “gift” of no tax and being on the welfare rolls, the ObamaCare rolls, the Food Stamp rolls, etc., you accept modern day slavery.  You can NEVER obtain a better life by accepting the handouts the government, in the name of compassion, stolen from others and given to you.  You can NEVER obtain a better life by not working for it.  In the Middle Ages they were called peasants.  Are we heading there again?

If you are one of those that voted for this evil, you must do the following:

-If a parent, you must now look your child in the eye and explain voting for the destroyed economy and crushing debt, now destined to increase even further, you are leaving for them to clean up.

-If a Christian, or any other God fearing person, you must now face God and explain voting for an individual/party that wishes all hints of Him wiped from public view, that prides itself in the destruction of His children (both young and old), that promotes theft.

-You must now look those of your neighbors with a job in the eye and explain how you are robbing them of their hard earned pay to fund federal programs for those too lazy to take care of themselves.  Programs so inefficient they cost far more than they would at the state level or in the private realm for those actually in need.

-You must now look your neighbor without a job in the eye and explain how you are robbing those that create jobs of their ability to provide them work in order to fund programs for those too lazy to take care of themselves.

-You must now look the elderly in the eye and explain how you stole from their medical safety net to pay for those that were already covered by another plan.  Another plan far more efficient than that of the now mandated federal program.

-You must now look everyone in the eye and explain to them how the government knows better how to take care of them and their children than they do.

-You must now look EVERYONE in the eye and explain having voted for the evil that is Socialism.

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…