House Oversight Committee joins SCOTUS in diminishing the Fifth Amendment

AP_Documents_BillofRightsThe House Oversight & Government Reform Committee just voted on a resolution to declare  Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights during her last IRS hearing appearance. The Committee voted 22-17 to pass the resolution. This was a bad decision.

This is a topic I have blogged about before. As an American taxpayer I am quite pissed-off at Ms Lerner. I feel she should have been immediately fired for refusing to answer questions from the House Oversight Committee. By refusing to answer their questions she has decided the American people have no right to know what she as a public servant knows. I defer to my previous words on the subject of her employment:

It is hard to comprehend how she still has her job. As a high-level manager she is accountable for her actions and for those that work in her division. By choosing not to take accountability she has proven herself unfit as a manager and should be excused from her job immediately.

Due to labor regulations Ms Lerner is on paid administrative leave. It is mind-boggling that Ms Lerner could keep her job after such an action.

However whether Ms Lerner should keep her employment is not the topic of today’s vote in the House Oversight Committee. Rather today’s vote is about whether Ms Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment protected rights by providing a statement under oath before pleading the 5th. I feel the same on this subject as I did a little over one month ago: Don’t trample on the 5th Amendment going after Lerner. There are other paths that can be taken.

Representative Lynch (D-MA) provided a short testimony before the vote this morning. His testimony was a direct attack upon the way Representative Issa (R-CA) has handled this resolution. Lynch agreed that the ability of Congress to call witnesses for testimony is important. However it is imperative that Congress recognize and respect the Fifth Amendment rights of witnesses. Lynch also attacked Issa for not allowing debate. Many (including myself) thought this mornings vote would be debated. Issa allowed very little time for discussion and acted quite condescendingly to those that did.

Then Representative Horsford (D-NV) was allowed to speak briefly. He best summed up the situation when stating that he was not sent to DC by his constituents to take away the rights of citizens. Any small-government constitutional Republican should agree with Rep Horsford’s statement.

Sadly Rep Issa  has taken an anti-liberty approach going after Ms Lerner. There are other ways of investigating the IRS scandal that don’t involve trampling constitutionally protected rights. By taking these actions Rep Issa has joined SCOTUS in further diminishing Constitutionally protected Fifth Amendment rights. The sad irony of this situation is not lost one me. Two weeks ago SCOTUS decided silence before pleading the Fifth could be used against a person; now the House Oversight Committee has decided speaking before pleading the Fifth waives that right. A couple of more actions like that and a very important constitutionally protected right will be gone forever.

Going forward I can only hope the court sides with Ms Lerner and agrees that she did not waive her Fifth Amendment protected rights. Previously Rep Meehan (R-PA) mentioned Ms Lerner has worked as an attorney in the Justice Department. As such she understands the legal system well and I give her a good chance of getting the House Oversight Committee’s resolution declared invalid. Its ironic, Rep Issa has left me in the position to cheer on a government bureaucrat I feel has acted immoral. If only Issa had taken a true constitutional Republican approach…

Attention SCOTUS: I am invoking my first amendment protected right to publish this post

AP_Documents_BillofRightsI will begin this post by invoking my first amendment protected right to speak and publish my speech.

That is an awkward way to start a post. Would it make sense for bloggers, journalists, or anyone else to make such statements before using their free speech rights? I don’t think most people would agree that is reasonable. However the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) had created precedence with a Fifth Amendment ruling. This happened on June 17, 2013, in the case of Salinas v. Texas (No. 12-246). This case was a direct attack upon the Fifth Amendment by SCOTUS.

This 5-4 split decision came out against the “right to remain silent”. According to the NYTimes:

The court ruled that a suspect’s failure to answer a police officer’s questions before an arrest may be used against the suspect at trial.

and (bold highlight added by me):

The justices in the majority on Monday offered differing rationales for sustaining the conviction. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, said Mr. Salinas had to expressly invoke his right to remain silent to benefit from it.

In this case the Justices decided it was OK to use the defendants silence against him because he didn’t choose to invoke his right to remain silent. It’s almost stunning that SCOTUS would choose to rule that a constitutionally protected right must be “invoked” or it is not protected in the court of law. Maybe there is some part of the Fifth Amendment I  missed in previous readings. Here is the actual text of the Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

I don’t see any portion of the Fifth Amendment that says this constitutionally protected right must be  invoked. In fact it reads pretty much the same as any of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights (including the Fifth Amendment) was created to restrict the power of the government from abusing the natural-born rights of citizens. In fact it was stated in the Bill of Rights preamble that these amendments purposely added restrictive clauses to the Constitution to prevent misconstruction or abuse of government power:

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

By ruling that Fifth Amendment rights must be “invoked” it opens up possible violations of the other constitutionally protected rights that were not first “invoked”. In the current NSA PRISM scandal the Justice Department could make the claim that spying on American citizens was OK because they didn’t specifically “invoke” their Fourth Amendment protected rights. Bloggers, journalists, activists, or any American citizen saying something the government doesn’t like could have their First Amendment protected rights trampled because they didn’t “invoke” their right to free speech before talking. Is that the path our country wants to take? I know it’s not the path I see as right for America.

Justice Breyer had a very long (and interesting) dissenting statement in the decision. However the Justice’s dissenting argument can best be summed up by the opening statement:

The Fifth Amendment prohibits prosecutors from commenting on an individual’s silence where that silence amounts to an effort to avoid becoming “a witness against himself.”

With this decision SCOTUS has actually ruled that an individuals silence can and will be used against them in a court of law. I guess  Americans better get used to “invoking” their constitutionally protected rights to be “free” from government tyranny.

The SCOTUS DOMA decision is good for liberty, and may lead conservatives down a better path

Anonymous_wedding_signToday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the Constitution by refusing to accept the definition of marriage sanctioned by states. This is a landmark case for the rights of states and individuals. All liberty-oriented individuals should applaud the SCOTUS decision. At its core the SCOTUS decision prevents the federal government from restricting the rights of individuals who are acting lawfully in their state. Basically it means if a state legally recognizes a marriage between two people it would be unconstitutional for the federal government to create different classes of married people. See this article from Peter Suderman about this line of reasoning.

I would contend that this decision in not only good for liberty, but it is also good for the very conservatives that passed DOMA in the first place. Before looking at why this is true it is worth reviewing why DOMA was passed. There were two main intentions behind DOMA:

  1. DOMA was designed to prevent states from passing gay marriage laws. While DOMA did not actually outlaw gay marriage; DOMA definitely discouraged states from taking that path.
  2. DOMA was further designed to prevent people in a gay marriage or same-sex civil unions from receiving federal benefits. That way even if states did pass laws allowing gay marriage or civil unions it would not be recognized at the federal level.

As a measure to prevent states from enacting gay marriage DOMA has been toothless. States are choosing to legalize gay marriage and civil unions as if DOMA didn’t exist. That is a good thing. It means states are starting to understand the federal government does not “hand power down to them”. Rather the states get their power from their residents.

Using DOMA to prevent same-sex partners from receiving federal benefits was always doomed to fail. It is actually quite surprising that it took this long for the SCOTUS to take such a case. DOMA creates “classes” of people separate from the status they legally have in their state of residence. Denying benefits to these special “classes” of people has been found by SCOTUS to be unconstitutional. This was an over-step of power by Congress in denying the rights of states to enact laws as they see fit.

Now that I’ve briefly explained why the two main purposes of DOMA have failed I will explain why this SCOTUS decision is good for conservatives. This SCOTUS decision is good because it can get true conservative Republicans to fight the real fight of making government smaller! I have always found it odd that conservatives are willing to allow bureaucrats in DC to decided what marriage is all about. Now is the time to get the federal government out of the marriage business! Marriage is a sacred bond between two people and their faith. Government should have no say as to what a “real” marriage is. By passing DOMA in 1996 the conservatives in Congress opened the floodgates to the very event they were trying to prevent: federal law pushing marriage laws they find immoral. Now thanks to DOMA passing in 1996 we will likely see more marriage legislation than we have in decades. With a Democrat majority in the Senate that may not be so good for the bible wing of the Republican Party.

There are two things that can be done immediately to rectify the federal governments over-involvement in marriage. The first is to pass a bill that would revoke two taxpayer statuses on IRS Form 1040: Married Filing Jointly and Married Filing Separately. This move would do a lot to remove government involvement in marriage. It would also reduce the number of marriages that happen simply to get a tax advantage. Removing tax advantages from marriage would possibly reduce the divorce rates in the United States. If fewer people are getting married “for the wrong reasons” then it would logically follow that divorce rates would also go down.

The second thing that can be done to rectify the federal governments over-involvement in marriage is to remove any reference to marriage in federal benefits. This process would take much longer. However it would deal a serious blow to the welfare state and potentially drive some freeloaders to actually work for a living. Reducing the welfare state is a Republican concept, therefore true conservatives should take this opportunity to do just that.

I believe if true conservatives take advantage of the SCOTUS DOMA decision they can make great strides in removing the federal government from dictating marriage. If conservatives don’t do this I believe they will regret it. They may find themselves in a minority some day and discover the repercussions of allowing the federal government to dictate marriage law. At that time they find that marriage is no longer about a bond between two people and their faith, instead marriage will be a tool of the welfare state.

President Obama gives Climate Change speech, punts on Keystone XL

footballToday I watched President Obama’s Climate Change speech (and live tweeted via @sodakliberty). Overall the speech is exactly what I expected: The President feels that anyone not on his side is part of the flat-earth society. One portion of the speech many were looking forward to was his remarks on Keystone XL. I don’t think anyone was happy with his non-answer. He said very little about the Keystone XL project.

Here is the meat of what Obama had to say on Keystone:

Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.

PUNT!

Both sides of the Keystone project have been wondering what the Obama administration will do. This non-answer from the President means both sides have act as if they will be blind-sided by the Obama administration in the future. Notice how the President actually failed to say how much carbon emission would be considered “good enough” for the Keystone XL project to go ahead. He left his statement on KXL vague enough to decide at any time if the project should or shouldn’t go ahead. This non-stance is likely going to cause a lot of backlash towards the White House from all sides of the issue.

Other than the Keystone XL non-stance there was very little of surprise in the speech. Here are some highlights (or low-lights if you will) I took away from this speech:

  • President Obama believes higher food prices are caused by climate change. I guess he forgot that federal regulations and subsidies are artificially inflating food prices on many goods.
  • President Obama wants to use less “dirty energy”. Every time he said “dirty energy” I pictured Beula Balbricker from the Porky’s movies saying “you filthy little pervert!”
  • President Obama has no clue that the EPA has lost almost as much credibility as he has.
  • President Obama acknowledges good steps taken by States and cities to enact sensible climate policy. However he still feels it must all be controlled by bureaucrats in DC.
  • President Obama says there is “a fundamental lack of faith in American business and ingenuity.” Maybe he should hold up a mirror when making such statements.
  • The President gave a hat-tip to Walmart? Are Democrats allowed to talk nicely about the evil Walmart?
  • President Obama proudly stated the US is drilling more oil now than it ever has.
  • While asking Congress to stop subsidising big oil companies Obama started to laugh.
  • President Obama stated the federal government will continue to consume less energy. I have a solution for that Mr Obama: Reduce the overall size of government and you will reduce the energy used by the government.
  • Towards the end of the speech Obama said he wants to “partner with the private sector” for solutions. Too bad his idea of “partnership” means regulations.
  • And finally, Obama wants to stop developing countries from dirty development. He apparently thinks it is the job of the US to act as a stern parent towards these countries?

Overall I don’t think anyone would have come out of this speech feeling happy (unless they are a blind follower of Obama). There was too much about the Presidents speech that left people on all sides of the climate change debate wondering where the executive branch actually falls. My guess is his climate change plan will be used to create random and haphazard regulations to further depress the economy. Perhaps this is the “change” he promised during his campaign to be elected.

PS. For anyone interested in the climate change action plan there is an info-graphic about it on the White House website. A PDF of the actual plan is also available here.

Rick Weiland kicks off Senate run by attacking 1st Amendment

GroupSince the Rick Weiland candidacy was announced I’ve seen it as a non-issue for any liberty-loving individuals. Who cares if the South Dakota Democrats pick a Senate candidate chosen by Daschle? No matter who they choose the seat is likely to go the Republican Party. There are possible paths to a Weiland win; however those paths are few and very unlikely. Instead of finding one of those winning paths, Weiland has come out the gate as an anti-liberty candidate attacking the First Amendment.

Here is an excerpt of an article at the Yankton Daily:

Weiland said one of his first acts in the Senate would be to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. It extended First Amendment rights to corporations, allowing those entities and unions to spend unlimited sums of money on political campaigns so long as they remain independent from candidates and political parties.

Really Mr Weiland? This is your big move? Attacking the First Amendment!

This stance is nothing new. Since the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee decision many high-profile Democrats have traced almost every problem in the country to “Citizen United”. Since that time there have been many proposed bills and constitutional amendments stating money is not speech and that corporations are not people. Last fall during Free Speech Week I posted about why money IS a tool of a free speech. Now it is time to let individuals such as Mr Weiland know why a constitutional amendment stating “corporations are not people” is a bad idea.

The basis for corporations having the rights of people is simple: groups of people who come together for a purpose are able to collectively use their rights as part of that organization. This is not a new concept. It has been around for centuries (long before the US was even discovered). In US history it was decided by the Supreme Court in 1819 that corporations have the same rights as individuals in contract law. From that time on the Supreme Court has upheld other individual rights can be collectively used in organizations. Any attempt to remove the rights of organizations will also remove the rights of individuals to organize.

I’ve heard some anti-Citizens Democrats say “but our amendment would only restrict corporations”. There are a few problems with that.

  1. From the federal government perspective a “Corporation” is a tax status. To get around this amendment corporations would simply disband and reorganize as an Limited-Liability Partnership. Since a non-incorporated LLP files taxes using Form 1065 it would not be a “corporation”. (Corporations file Form 1120, Sub-S Corporations file Form 1120-S).
  2. Unions often organize as a corporations. Any attempt to take the rights away from corporations would also remove the rights of Unions.
  3. Newspapers organize as corporations. This takes away newspapers right to free speech and freedom of press.
  4. Non-profits are corporations. Do we really want the rights of non-profits to be taken away?

I could actually keep going with the list showing problems with the “corporations are not people” amendment. However these few examples are more than ample to show how un-wise such an amendment would be.

At its heart the “corporations are not people” and anti-Citizens attitude from certain segments of the left has been all about hate. There is so much pure hatred for “the rich” and “evil corporations” that these segments of the Democrat Party are willing to take rights away from all organizations of people to ‘punish’ their target. Sadly the only Democrat to step forward in the race for Senator in South Dakota has been one of these hate-filled anti-free-speech individuals.

Due to Weiland’s anti-free-speech approach I no longer see him as a “non-issue” in the Senate race. Instead Mr Weiland is now moved to the “must-defeat” group. It’s too bad, that brings the current Senate race back to a one-horse-race with no actual alternative to Rounds.

Was Mark Remily’s attack on Dan Kaiser due to lack of research, or just another attack on liberty-loving Representatives

deelight_Magnifying_GlassLast week the Aberdeen American News published the following public opinion from Aberdeen City Councilman Mark Remily:

Public Voice: Kaiser’s position on gays is hateful

2013-06-20 23:07 -0500

“Today, we still have legal discrimination against homosexuals, with many states forbidding legal civil marriage. But progress continues and we have come a long way toward ensuring the equal rights for ‘all’ people.”

Very gracious words, authored by well-respected associate professor of education at NSU Alan Neville and published in the Aberdeen American News on June 18. With that said, I am taking notes on District 3 South Dakota Rep. Dan Kaiser.

In the American News on June 15 (“Legislature split over protection orders for same sex abuses”), columnist Bob Mercer refers to Senate Bill 147, which defines family members covered by domestic abuse protection orders. Its original Senate version was fair. Then it went to the House. There, Kaiser offered his amendment to change the wording to cover only those in domestic abuse be of the opposite sex.

I cannot find the words to describe how angry I am at this hateful position by a person supposedly representing the people of District 3. Kaiser is saying that if you’re gay or lesbian you have no right to be protected by law enforcement. And this despicable legislator is an Aberdeen Police officer. How hypocritical is that?

In my opinion, Dan Kaiser as an elected official is a crime. Someone in District 3 needs to step up and run against this discriminating individual and get him gone from South Dakota politics forever.

Mark Remily

Aberdeen City Council

As an Aberdeen resident I find it disheartening that Mr Remily relies upon one sentence in a newspaper to determine that Representative Kaiser is a “Despicable legislator”. The article Mr Remily refers to can be read here.

Mr Remily apparently skimmed the original article too quickly. He did not notice it was mentioned the Senate version was changed when it hit the House Judiciary Committee where the major word changes had happened. The passed Senate version of SB147 had the following language:

(2)(c)    Persons who are or have been in a dating relationship with each other;

(5)    “Dating relationship,” any social relationship between the persons of a romantic or sexual nature. The term does not include any platonic, casual relationship in a business or social context.

After Rep. Anne Hajek amended the bill in the House Judiciary Committee the bill removed section 5 defining “dating relationship” changed (2)(c) to as follows:

(c)    Persons who are or have been living in the same household;

This amendment in the House Judiciary Committee seems to have completely undone the very intent of SB147. According to testimony provided by Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargel it is important to pass SB147 so the definition of domestic violence can be narrowed and simplified for use by police officers. Mr Vargel goes on to say that domestic violence cases have mandatory arrests and potential protection orders issues. However as the law currently stands anyone that lives together can be charged with “domestic violence”. This could mean an officer would have to make an arrest when college roommates fight.

Representative Kaiser provided testimony before the whole house that mirrored what Mr Vargel had said. Basically it was important to narrow the scope of domestic violence so police officers were not forced by law to make an arrest when they knew it wasn’t really ‘domestic’. The amendment offered by Rep Hajek and passed in committee actually changed the language in the bill to “Persons who are or have been living in the same household”. Now the bill was in a state that essentially undid what was done before.

So far I have added very little information to Mr Mercers original article. However here is where Aberdeen City Councilman Mark Remily should have done more research.

An amendment was placed before the house to change the bills original language back to that which Dan Kaiser (and many others) had co-sponsored. It turns out the Senate did not in fact introduce the bill that was planned. That amendment to return the originally indented language did not pass. Rep Kaiser then added language to an amendment he knew would stop the bill during the House/Senate bill reconciliation process. Rep Kaiser did not add “of the opposite sex” because he is anti-gay; he did so because he knew such language would cause problems.

Representative Kaiser then spoke against the “of the opposite sex” amendment before the conference committee because it was unfair. The committee agreed and removed the amendment. However the committee would not accept Kaisers proposal to return the bill to its originally intended state. The bill died when an agreement could not be reached.

I believe Representative Kaiser should be commended for taking the necessary steps to stop a bill that was not going to work as advertised. Had Councilman Remily done even a little research on the LRC website he would have known that Mr Kaiser did not take any actions that were ‘anti-gay’ or discriminatory. Instead Rep Kaiser was trying to return the bill to a state that would actually help law enforcement by narrowing the definition of domestic violence. I only hope that Councilman Remily researches Aberdeen City Council matters better than he does legislation in Pierre.

PS. I need to check Facebook every day. Representative Kaiser actually released a statement on Remily’s letter. It would have saved me a lot of research (time spend listening to legislative audio files) had I seen his statement before writing this post. Here is Rep Kaisers statement from Facebook:

What a morning, if you have not read the Aberdeen American News Public voice, I would encourage you to do so. Mark Remily Aberdeen city council (as identified in the paper) makes some wild accusations about me, below are the facts

We must all understand how domestic violence may affect you and your family. The way the law is writing currently if you have ever lived with someone (college roommate, basic training room mate) it qualifies as a domestic. So if you lived with someone ten years ago and you get into an argument and you push your roommate, now as the law is, Law Enforcement MUST (they cannot use discretion,, if they did they would be breaking the law) arrest you. So you go to jail (career may be over, you lose your gun rights etc.)

After reading the article I’m disappointed in Mark Remily’s mistaken idea of how the legislative process works. First of all, Mark states (Senate bill 147) “its original senate version was fair”. But Mark never cites I was a Co-Sponsor of the bill! I sponsored this bill because in its original fair state it removed the wording of people who have lived together and replaced it with people in a intimate relationship. Now when the bill went to the Senate, the Senate removed the new wording and put in the old wording where law enforcement must arrest college roommates back into the bill.

When the bill came to the House, I tried to pass an amendment to restore the bill to its original Fair state. My amendment failed. I knew if I did pass an amendment the bill would have to go to conference committee and be voted on again, so in order to protect college roommates and people who went to basic training from arrest, I added the amendment to change the wording to opposite sex. It passed.

I testified in conference committee about how the opposite sex bill was unfair and based on my testimony the amendment was taken out. I attempted one last time to amend the bill to its original “fair” state. It did not pass and because the committee could not come to an agreement the bill died.

Anyone who knows me knows I want all people to have protection under the law. I also do not want people wrongfully arrested because the state legislature cannot agree on terminology of a simple bill. I’m happy to go into further detail of domestic law and (in my opinion) a somewhat vague assault law, if you would like more information please email me at kaiser4house@yahoo.com or shot me a Facebook email.

Thank you
Dan Kaiser

I think this response from a local Aberdeen area resident on Facebook is also worthy of mention:

MR. Remily I was greatly disappointed and frankly very offended by your letter to the editor in yesterday’s American News where you said “I cannot find the words to describe how angry I am at this hateful position by a person supposedly representing the people of district 3”. Rep Kaiser’s position is not in the least bit hateful to ANYONE. Yesterday you managed to take Rep. Kaiser’s amendment WAY out of context, as well as hurting your ability to do your job as a city councilman, by damaging your working relations with Rep. Kaiser and his ally’s. I respectfully demand that you publicly apologize to Rep. Kaiser and the citizens of Aberdeen for greatly misrepresenting the truth.

Drew Dennert

I think Mr Dennert will be disappointed. It is unlikely Remily will apologize. That would mean he would have to admit either:

  1. He is not good at researching (making him look like a bad city councilman)
  2. He was looking for an opportunity to attack an outspoken friend of liberty (and also someone looking to take Kaisers job next eleciton)

Hopefully Senator Thune can get the Senate to understand the Death Tax needs to go away

jcucurull_The_DeathEarlier this week Senator Thune (R-SD) and Representative Brady (R-TX) officially re-introduced the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 (S. 1183H.R. 2429). I am very happy to see a Senator from South Dakota taking a leadership position on such an important issue. Last December I posted about the immoral death tax after a Washington Post reporter called it the morally sanitized euphemism ”posthumous federal levy on accumulated wealth.” I’ll let my old post stand as-is to explain why I think the death tax is immoral. This post will briefly examine the economic reasons to repeal the death tax.

As someone who has worked in an Accounting office (working on books and tax returns for farmers and business owners) I can say the death tax DOES impact the economy. The 2013 exemption of $5,250,000 (IRS) sounds like a lot of ‘money’ to those that fight to keep the death tax. There are two reasons this is simply not true:

  1. The death tax is not just a tax upon “money”, it is a tax on transferred property. Five million dollars worth of land, equipment, and other physical assets is not as much as it sounds like. The monetary value for assets of a farmer, construction contractor, or  small manufacturer are likely to be far greater than five million dollars.
  2. The current tax system has caused most businesses to become credit heavy. Businesses are cash strapped. Any assets being passed on to the next generation from a business will not likely include liquid assets. Any person(s) inheriting such a business will be starting their business in debt to the IRS and even more credit-dependent than the previous generation.

These two reasons add up to one sad fact: the death tax kills many small businesses. Overcoming the effects of the death tax during a time of grief is very difficult to those inheriting business assets. This is not a theoretical situation as many death tax proponents state. Ask any good-sized accounting firm or business tax preparation firm about death taxes and they will be able to confirm it is not theoretical (but because they privacy serious they won’t be able to state cases without permission). Many accountants, tax preparers, and financial advisers try to get people to do something before death to prevent (or at least reduce) the effects of the death tax. But I would contend it should not be necessary to plan a fight against the IRS after death. The inheritor of a business should be able to continue operations as if nothing happened. Instead many of these businesses have some or all of their assets sold to pay the tax. This has the real world implication of people losing their jobs.

Whether it be for moral or economic reasons I believe the answer is the same: the death tax must be repealed. Hopefully Senator Thune will be able to gain enough support in the Senate to get this immoral and job-killing tax repealed. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Senator Baucus (D-MT) allows the bill out of the Senate Finance Committee. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope on Baucus though, as a Democrat politician he probably loves the ”posthumous federal levy on accumulated wealth.”

 

PS. Rep Noem, SD’s lone Representative, has become a co-sponsor on the House version of the bill. Being anti-economy, I would expect SD’s Senator Johnson to vote against this important bill (if Baucus allows it to reach the floor).

FDA says French cheese has gouda go

567px-Mimolette_vieille_etuvee
mimolette cheese

The FDA is at it again: overstepping their bounds just because they can. The latest case of the FDA taking itself too seriously has this bureaucracy holding about a ton of mimolette cheese at a New Jersey warehouse. Mimolette cheese is made in France and it also happens to be one of my favorites. I’ve always found it to have a mild taste, but a very nice butterscotchish after-taste (that may not be a real word, but its best description I can think of). What would the FDA possibly have against a cheese that has existed for hundreds of years and been imported to the US for at least dozens of years? The answer is simple: someone at the FDA apparently found out mites are used to create this masterpiece cheese.

The FDA has been very quiet and ambiguous about holding the cheese in a New Jersey warehouse. Some people can have mild allergic reactions to mites, thus the reason they are holding this cheese. However there is no guideline, nor should there be, about how many mites are ‘safe’. Since most cheeses use mites (both intentionally and unintentionally) to age, any step taken by the FDA has implications for all foreign and domestic cheese makers. Holding this cheese is the possible first step of industry-killing forthcoming regulations.

It is quite ironic this foreign cheese is being held up by a government bureaucracy because the very beginnings of this cheese were political. Here is a section from the NPR story on this last month:

Ironically, de Vitton notes that Mimolette itself is rumored to have been created because of import issues in the 17th century. “The French were at war with Holland, and the king didn’t want any more Dutch Gouda coming to France. So he asked to create kind of the same cheese.”

For more on this story I would watch the video below released by CATO in an accompanying post yesterday.

After watching the video it is hard to comprehend any reason the FDA would be taking this step. Maybe the FDA is trying to show it has too much time (and money) on its hand; thus we need to cut this bureaucratic nightmare of a government division to the bones.

 

PS: To assist those fighting this battle stop by the Facebook pages for Save the mimolette and Cheesetique (Jill Erber from the CATO video owns this company).

Too bad Obama didn’t follow the Libertarian Platform on International Affairs

logo_web_gifSince President Bush Obama is riddled with scandals, it appears time for him to enter the United States into a war we have no business getting involved with. It’s not a new move from Presidents. Things are looking bad at home so the President enters the country into a foreign war that will keep all of the Mainstream Media busy reporting on the war. While it may not be a bad move for him politically, it definitely is morally the wrong thing for Obama to do at this time!

For all those in the Democrat party that are tired of war-mongering Presidents I would offer an alternative path. Below is the Libertarian Party Platform excerpt for International Affairs. Notice how different this approach is from that of Bush/Obama:

3.3 International Affairs

American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements.  We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.

Notice how it starts: American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Peace, it seems like a strange concept. At the very least it is a foreign concept to our current President. Oh well, maybe we will get someone truly worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize elected in 2016.

Democrat opposition to the Working Families Flexibility Act favors public over private employees

faceless_familyA little over a month ago I posted about the House passing the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (HR1406). The bill passed with a very partisan vote. Almost all Republicans voted Aye while almost all Democrats voted No. Personally I think this bill takes the wrong approach. Instead of increasing labor law I believe it would be better for employees and employers to reduce labor regulations; thus allowing greater flexibility for employers and employees to come up with such agreements on their own. However since that is not likely I think this bill should pass to equal labor law between the private and public sectors.

I happened to be at a payroll law seminar today and was quite surprised how few people realized this is an option for public sectors. (I’m sure it was a an accidental omission that those speaking out against the Working Families Flexibility Act usually fail to mention public sector employees have this option. Right?) There seemed to be a lot of confusion in this seminar as to why public sector employees should get this flexibility when private sector employees do not. To me there are two possible reasons Democrats are fighting against the Working Families Flexibility Act:

  1. Democrats believe public sector employees are a higher class of citizen and thus get more rights
  2. Democrats are using this bill as a political opportunity to fight against “evil business owners”

I don’t believe the first scenario to be true. However even if Democrat politicians don’t believe that public sector employees are a “higher class” than private sector employees; by the very action of voting against this bill they are continuing the unintended consequence of giving public sector employees more rights.

I do believe the second scenario is true. If Democrat politicians truly believed compensatory time was so “exploitative” of employees they would work to repeal section 7(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (pdf). That would remove this exploitative behavior used on public sector employees. Why aren’t Democrat politicians doing so? Because the backlash from public sector employees that use this right would be tremendous. No, Democrat politicians opposing compensatory time for private sectors is not about saving exploited workers. Rather it has everything to do with getting political points from their base by “fighting evil business owners”. What better way is there for Democrat politicians to gain political points than by standing up to “the man”. The fact Democrats have been opposing private sector compensatory bills for over a decade gives them a continuous issue to raise political points.

The bill is current stuck in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. I don’t really expect the bill to gain any traction soon. The Democrat controlled Senate simply cares more about gaining political points with its base than actually offering more flexibility to the private sector employees and employers that help build the economy.