An Inconvenient tax: picking people’s pockets in Dallas, Texas

Posted on January 25, 2015. Filed under: Blogroll, Business, Economics, Government, Government Spending, Law, Liberty, People, Philosophy, Politics, Taxes, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

An Inconvenient tax: picking people’s pockets

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

Warning, when you check out, be on the lookout for pickpockets.

The latest green movement cause du jour is the banning or taxing of disposable plastic and paper bags. These laws or city ordinances are designed to nudge or coerce customers to bring their own reusable tote bag when they shop for groceries and other merchandise.

A number of United States cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Austin and now unfortunately Dallas have either banned or taxed disposable plastic and/or paper bags or so-called “single-use carryout bags.” According to the Earth Policy Institute, over 20 million people are currently covered by 132 city and county plastic bag bans or fee ordinances in the U.S.

For decades most American and European businesses have provided their customers bags, at no additional charge, to carryout and transport their purchase. In the 1980s businesses began to give their customers a choice of paper or plastic.

On March 26, 2014, the Dallas City Council passed an 8 to 6 City Ordinance No. 29307. It requires business establishments that provide their customers “single-use carryout bags” to register with the city annually each location providing these bags and charge their customers an “environment fee” of 5 cents per bag to promote a “culture of clean” and “to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residences.”

Give me a break. It is a new tax to raise millions in new tax revenue for the City of Dallas. Who are the elected Dallas-8 council member watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) that ordained this tax on the people and businesses of Dallas? The names of the Dallas-8 are Tennell Atkins, Carolyn R. Davis, Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Dwaine R. Caraway, Sandy Greyson, Philip T. Kingston, and Mayor Mike Rawlings.

The Dallas-8 are led by council member Caraway, who wanted to completely ban plastic and paper single-use carryout bags. Instead they decided to shake down Dallas businesses and their customers with a new highly regressive tax. Caraway refuses to call it a tax and claims the new ordinance which went in effect on January 1 is “a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States.”

The eight-page ordinance includes the definition and standards that reusable carryout bags must satisfy: “A reusable carryout bag must meet the minimum reuse testing standard of 100 reuses carrying 16 pound.” Reusable bags may be made of cloth, washable fabric, durable materials, recyclable plastic with a minimum thickness of 4.0 mil or recyclable paper that contains a minimum of 40 percent recycled content.

All of the above reusable bags must have handles with the exception of small bags with a height of less than 14 inches and a width of less than 8 inches.

Business establishments can either provide or sell reusable carryout bags to its customer or to any person.

The city ordinance exempts some bags from the single-use carryout definition including:

Plastic bags used for produce, meats, nuts, grains and other bulk items inside grocery or other retail stores,
Single-use plastic bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food only where necessary to prevent moisture damage from soups, sauces, gravies or dressings,
Recyclable paper bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food,
Recyclable paper bags from pharmacies or veterinarians for prescription drugs,
Laundry, dry cleaning or garment bags,
Biodegradable door-hanger and newspaper bags, and
Bags for trash, yard debris and pet waste.
The Dallas 5 cent paper and plastic bag tax or environment fee applies only to single-use carryout bags defined as bags not meeting the requirements of a reusable bag.

Businesses that violate the ordinance can be fined up to a maximum of $500 per day.

Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a bag manufacturing group, said “This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5 percent of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1 percent of litter in studies conducted across the country;” “Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment: but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small business and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag and recycling industry.”

Stop the shakedown of Dallas businesses and their customers. Repeal the inconvenient tax on paper and plastic disposable bags by voting out of office the Dallas-8 city council members who voted for this tax, Dwaine Caraway. Support your Texas state representatives in passing a new law that would prohibit cities such as Dallas and Austin from banning or taxing paper and plastic carryout bags.

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The Ultimate Resource: Human Beings

Posted on January 26, 2014. Filed under: Business, Economics, Government, Government Spending, Law, Liberty, People, Philosophy, Politics, U.S. Constitution, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Ultimate Resource: Human Beings

“Multitudes of people, necessity, and liberty, have begotten commerce in Holland.”

~David Hume (1711-1776) “Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences” (113).

The thesis of this argumentative essay is sustainable development requires the growth of the human population to promote division of labor or labor specialization, the expansion of the market and individual economic and political liberty with limited government intervention into the economy. Many of the advocates in the sustainable development movement are environmental activists, socialists and collectivists who argue for the opposite, namely limiting the growth of the human population because they believe natural resources are scarce. These advocates argue for government intervention into the economy and use the precautionary principle as a tool to stop economic development they consider harmful to future generations.

Humans throughout time have struggled to survive and obtain scarce resources such as food, water and energy. Only in the last 400 years have most humans been able to gradually rise above a subsistence level of existence and increase both their numbers and standard of living. In the sweep of time humans have progressed from the age of hunting and gathering to the age of farming and shepherding to finally the age of commerce.

Regarding the first two ages, Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs and Steel wrote: “Around 7 million years ago, all humans on Earth fed themselves exclusively by hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants. It was only with the last 11,000 years that some people turned to what is food production: that is, domesticating wild animals and plants and eating the resulting livestock and crop” (86).

Food production resulted in food surpluses that enabled the human population to grow in numbers and specialize in their activities. Diamond described the consequences of this development: “In short, plant and animal domestication meant much more food and hence denser human populations. The resulting food surplus, and (in some areas) the animal-based means of transporting those surpluses, were a prerequisite for the development of settled, politically centralized, social stratified, economically complex, technologically innovative societies” (92).

Diamond identifies four sets of factors that he argues constitute the “big environmental differences that can be quantified objectively and are not subject to dispute” (408).  The fourth set of factors is a large area or population. Diamond describes this important set as follows:  “A large area or population means more potential inventors, more competing societies, more innovation available to adopt – more pressure to adopt and retain innovation because societies failing to so will tend to be eliminated by competing societies” (407).

Adam Smith in his book The Wealth of Nations published in 1776 wrote: “The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment which it is anywhere directed or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labor” (3).

For a nation to increase its wealth and develop economically required a large and growing population to enable a division of labor or labor specialization. According to Smith the division of labor’s increase in work and production resulted from several factors:

This great increase in quantity of work, which, in consequence of the division of labor, the same number of people are capable of performing, is owing to three different circumstances: first, to the increase dexterity in every particular workman; secondly, to the saving of the time which is commonly lost in passing from one species to another; and lastly to the invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labor, and enable one man to do the work of many. (7)

Individuals exchanging goods and services encourage the division of labor which is limited by the extent of the market (Smith 13-21). For Smith an individual’s freedom, security and work ethic are of critical importance:

The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security, is so powerful, that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations (508).

The writers and philosophers of the 18th century Enlightenment shared Smith’s optimism in economic progress. One such optimistic thinker was Marie-Jean-Antonine Nicholas Caritate (1743-94), known as Marquis de Condorcet. He predicted that in the next 200 years there would be a substantial increase in world population and life expectancy resulting from greater productivity in agriculture and manufacturing, improvements in food and housing, and advances in medical technology that would diminish disease and illness (Skousen 70).

Condorcet also anticipated Malthus by allowing that there could be a scenario where “the increase in the number of men surpassing their means of subsistence” could result in “either a continual diminishing of happiness, or, at least, a kind of oscillation between good and evil.” Condorcet predicted a smaller family size when individuals “will know that, if they have a duty not to give them existence but to give them happiness” (Sen 213-214).

The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was an English economist and demographer who agreed with Condorcet’s analysis but disagreed with his views concerning declining fertility rates. Malthus formulated a simple theory that food production grows slower than the growth in population. In the long-run food production will lose the race to population growth and as a result people will starve and die (Skousen 71-91; Lomburg 60).

Malthus’ pessimistic doomsday theory was first published in 1798 as an essay under a pseudonym and then updated in his book, An Essay on the Principle of Population, in five subsequent editions through 1826. Malthus’ first law of nature is that population tends to grow geometrically (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 …). His second law of nature is food production tends to increase arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 …) (Skousen 71-72; Kahn).

Malthus’ first law of nature was empirically wrong because population did not grow geometrically. The world population did, however, grow from about 1 billion in 1800 to more than 7 billion today. The causes of this growth are chiefly a sharp decline in infant mortality and an increase in life expectancy due to rising standards of living, improvements in hygiene, sanitation and health care and advances in medicine (Skousen 76-78).

Malthus second law of nature regarding food production is simply false for both plants and animals are far more fertile than humans. Malthus argued that there was not enough fertile land or natural resources to sustain life (Skousen 81-82).

Malthus’ preventive checks on population growth included delaying marriage, birth control and celibacy. Positive checks on population growth included war, disease, epidemics, plagues, pestilence and famines (Buchholz 49-50).

For Malthus famine was the last resource that haunts humans everywhere and always:

Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction; and they often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and ten thousands. Should success be still incomplete; gigantic, inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow, levels the population with the food of the world. (Malthus 139-140)

What Malthus clearly missed and Condorcet did not is affluence or high standards of living is an effective way to limit population growth in the long-run. The world’s population is determined by the combined effects of fertility and mortality rates. The world’s population continues to rise because of generational lags between fertility and mortality changes and population changes (Huber 142).  When Malthus first wrote his essay in 1798 the world population was about 1 billion. A hundred years later in 1900, the world population had grown to 1.6 billion. By 1950 the world population had increased to 2.5 billion. By 2000 the world’s population had increased to 6.5 billion. Today the world’s population exceeds 7 billion people. According to the United Nations’ long-term projections the world’s population will be somewhere between 7.5 billion and 9.5 billion in 2050. However, population is projected to start shrinking to about 6 million in 2100 and 4.3 billion in 2150 (Huber 148).

In the 215 years since Malthus first published his essay, the west has grown steadily wealthier as free market capitalism expanded globally. Both fertility and mortality rates dropped resulting in fewer children and a longer life expectancy (Huber 141). The economic wellbeing of a country’s population depends upon raising per capita living standards through the expansion of economic activity measured by total aggregate production and consumption. This, in turn depends upon the rate of growth of the population (Friedman 391-392).

Rapid population growth rates are almost entirely a problem for developing countries. “The forty-two countries where per capita income is below $2,000 – nearly a billion people – average population growth is 2.2 percent per annum. Their average fertility is 4.9 births per woman” (Friedman 392).

Rapid population growth rates in emerging countries such as China and India are less of a problem. “In the thirty-eight countries with per capita income in the $2,000 to $5,000 range, population growth averages 1.4 percent per annum, and the average fertility rate is 3.” (Friedman 392)

Rapid population growth rates are not a problem for developed countries in Europe, North America and Asia. “Among the thirty countries with the world’s highest incomes, the average population growth net of immigration is just .3 percent per annum. The average fertility rate is 1.7 births per woman, well below the population replacement rate (Friedman 392). In the United States over the last 200 years, the fertility rate has dropped from about 8 children per woman to 2” (Huber 147).

The last 100 years has by far seen the largest improvement in life expectancy of the world’s population. In 1900 the estimated world life expectancy was just 30 years. By 1950 people lived for an average of 46.5 years. By 1998 the life expectancy increased to 67 years. The world population’s life expectancy had more than doubled in just 100 years. This improvement in life expectancy was largely due to a significant decline in infant mortality in both developing and industrialized countries by more than 50 percent. Less people died at an early age and more people die of old age (Lomborg 50-59).

The declining infant mortality rates and increasing life expectancy were due to rising standards of living that provided better food, clothing and housing and higher disease resistance. Better water supplies, sewers, public hygiene and quarantine measures also suppressed the spread of infections. Higher living standards, better hygiene and advances in medicine also defeated infectious diseases (Lomborg 55-56).

Malthus’ pessimistic doomsday vision has nothing to do with reality when it comes to food production and daily intake of calories per capita in developed and developing countries. Since 1961 the world’s food production has more than doubled and in the developing countries has more than tripled. Calorie intake globally has increased by more than 24 percent and in the developing countries has increased by 38 percent (Lomborg 60-61).

What caused this significant improvement in food production and consumption? The Green Revolution was the cause. A number of technologies including high-yield crops, irrigation and controlled water supply, fertilizers, pesticides and farm management skills produced more food during the Green Revolution that began in the 1940s and continues into the present. Norman Borlaug is the “father of the Green Revolution.” His vision was to get more food out of each and every hectare of land. Borlaug focused on developing high-yield varieties of cereal crops including wheat, corn (maize) and rice that are resistant to disease and drought, germinate earlier and grow faster (Borlaug; Briney; Fogel 54; Hazell 1-3; Lomborg, 62-64; Courter).

Despite the growth of the world’s population to over 7 billion, the Green Revolution’s dramatic increase in world food production has continued the long-term trend of lower food prices. Food prices in 2000 cost less than a third of their prices in 1957 (Lomborg 62).

The United Nations General Assembly established and chartered the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1983. Gro Harlem Brundtland, three-term prime minister of Norway, former environment minister and first vice-president of the Socialist International, was chosen to chair the commission (Friedman 390).

The Brundtland Commission’s report published in 1987 introduced the concept of “sustainable development” and the need for intergenerational equity and continuity by meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Friedman 391; World Commission on Environment and Development 8). The Brundtland Commission called for both reduced population growth and changes in the life-styles of the more affluent. The report stated:

Sustainable global development requires those that are more affluent adopt life-styles within the planet’s ecological means – in the use of energy, for example. Further, rapidly growing populations can increase the pressure of resources and slow any rise in living standards; thus sustainable development can only be pursued if population size and growth are in harmony with the changing productive systems of the ecosystem. (World Commission on Environment and Development 8-9)

Environmentalist Paul Hawken writing about the “movement for equity and environmental sustainability” (13) provides a more expanded definition of sustainable development:

Sustainable development encompasses economic and social development. It takes full account of the environmental and social consequences of economic activity and is based on the use of resources that can be replaced or renewed, meeting the needs and improving the quality of life of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own environmental, social, and economic needs (288).

Where did this movement come from? According to Hawken, “The movement has three basic roots: environmental activism, social justice initiatives and indigenous culture’s resistance to globalization, all of which have become intertwined” (12). One tool of this movement is the precautionary principle used to stop economic development, globalization of the market and technological innovation, considered harmful to sustainable development. Hawken defines the precautionary principles as follows: “The principle of taking pre-emptive action to forestall long-term environmental damage despite scientific uncertainty of such damage occurring. Where the potential damage is severe and irreversible, as in the case of climate change, a lack of scientific proof is insufficient reason to justify inaction to prevent such damage occurring” (266).

Hawken summarizes the detailed analysis and final verdict of “The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report” on the planet’s carry capacity: “the earth is wearing out and will soon become exhausted, incapable of supporting life as we know it” (173). If you believe in this movement, the planet is on the brink of disaster (173).

Humans and the planet need a second opinion. The skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg reached a different conclusion regarding the real state of the world. Humans have never been healthier and living longer with more food to eat, higher incomes, more leisure time, and on average are better educated. “Things are not everywhere good, but they are better than they used to be” (87).

Is this progress sustainable? Can the progress humans have made be maintained and improved? Lomborg answers in the affirmative. He concludes his exhaustive analysis as follows:

Our consumption of the essential resources such as food, forests, water, raw material and energy seem to have such characteristics that it will leave the coming generations not with fewer options, but rather with ever more options. Our future society will probably be able to produce much more food per capita, while not threatening the forests – or perhaps even allowing us to allocate more space and money to reforest the Earth to achieve higher living standards. (159)

Economic growth provides both material and moral benefits. The material benefits of a rising standard of living include less infantile mortality, malnutrition, hunger and disease, a healthier life and greater life expectancy (Friedman 3). In his book the The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, Benjamin Friedman argues that economic growth provides moral benefits: “Economic growth – meaning a rising standard of living for the clear majority of citizens – more often than not fosters greater opportunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness, and dedication to democracy. Ever since the Enlightenment, Western thinking has regarded each of these tendencies positively, and in explicitly moral terms” (4).

Peace and prosperity require individual political and economic liberty. Individuals require incentives to work hard and take risks free from government coercion and intervention. This requires a framework where there is respect for the rule of law, private property, fair and sensitive rules in the market and economic liberty (Simon 11).

The United Nations’ Brundtland Commission wanted to control population growth for they view low standards of living as being caused by excessive fertility rates and limited resources. Many economists disagree that the long-term problem is population growth and scarcity of resources. For example Julian Simon concludes:

On balance the long-run effects are positive. The mechanism works as follows. Population growth and increase in income expand demand, forcing up prices of natural resources. The increased prices trigger the search for new supplies. Eventually new sources and substitutes are found. These new discoveries leave humanity better off than if the shortages have not occurred. (579)

The economics of population and resources demonstrates that the world’s long-run problem is not too many people or too few resources, but the lack of political and economic freedom (Simon 11). Powerful evidence comes from pairs of countries that had the same culture and history and much the same standard of living when they split apart after World War II – Communist China and Taiwan, East and West Germany, and North and South Korea.  In each case the centrally planned Communist country began with less population “pressure,” as measured by density per square kilometer, than did the market-directed economy. And the Communist and non-Communist countries started with much the same birth rates. But the market-directed economies performed much better economically than the centrally planned economies (Simon 11).

The cure for hunger and poverty comes from the individual and their desire to improve their condition. However, the path to prosperity can be a long and difficult one.  In his book, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are So Rich and Some So Poor, David Landes eloquently expresses the need for a strong work ethic:

The people who live to work are a small and fortunate elite. But it is an elite open to newcomers, self-selected, the kind of people who accentuate the positive. In this world, the optimists have it, not because they are always right, but because they are positive, and that is the way of achievement, correction, improvement and success. Educated, eyes-open optimism pays: pessimism can only offer empty consolation of being right. (523-524)

Unlike the pessimist Malthus who believed famine was the last resource of nature, the optimists believe the ultimate resource are human beings.

 

Works Cited

Borlaug, Norman E. “The Green Revolution: Peace and Humanity.” The Atlantic online. n.d. n.pag.Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/97jan/borlaug/speech.htm&gt;.

Briney, Amanda, “Green Revolution: History and Overview of the Green Revolution.” About.com. 23 Oct. 2008. n. pag. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <http://geography.about.com/od/globalproblemsandissues/a/greenrevolution.htm&gt;.

Buchholz, Todd G. New Ideas from Dead Economists: An Introduction to Modern Economic Thought. 2nd rev. ed. London: Penguin, 2007. Print.

Courter, Gay. “Freedom from Famine: The Norman Borlaug Story” YouTube. CactusBumm. 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjeqOnsZp6w&gt;.

Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997. Print.

Friedman, Benjamin M. The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. Print.

Hawken, Paul. Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. New York: Viking-Penguin, 2007. Print.

Hazell, Peter B.R. “Green Revolution: Curse or Blessing.” International Food Policy Research Institute. 2002. 1-3. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/pubs/pubs/ib/ib11.pdf&gt;.

Huber, Peter. Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists, a Conservative Manifesto. New York: Basic Books, 1999. Print.

Hume, David. Essays: Moral, Political and Literary. Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1985. Print.

Kahn, Salman. “Thomas Malthus and Population Growth.”  YouTube. Khan Academy, 28 Dec. 2012. Web. 10 Dec., 2013. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1ywppAJ1xs&gt;.

Landes, David S. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are So Rich and Some So Poor. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1998. Print.

Lomborg, Bjorn. The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Print.

Malthus, Thomas R. An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1st ed. London: Macmillan reprint, 1909. Print.

Sen, Amartya. Development As Freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. Print.

Simon, Julian L. The Ultimate Resource 2. New York: Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. Print.

Skousen, Mark. The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas of the Great Thinkers, 2nd ed. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2009. Print.

Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, The Modern Library Edition, New York: Random House, Inc., 1937. Print.

World Commission on Environment and Development. Our Common Future. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Benghazi cover story

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Central Intelligence Agency, Columns, Congress, Crime, Foreign Policy, Homicide, Law, Liberty, People, Philosophy, Politics, War, Weapons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Benghazi cover story

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

Transfer_Remains_Ceremony

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak at transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base for Americans killed in Benghazi.         Credit:www.vosizneias.com

The Benghazi cover story was an awful, offensive, crude and disgusting online video that insulted believers in Islam lead to a spontaneous protest that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

On Sept. 14, 2012 during the transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made remarks to the families of the four Americans killed in Benghazi. She briefly reviewed the careers and lives of the deceased: Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Clinton said, “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.”

On Sept. 16, 2012, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on all five Sunday morning TV news shows. The interviewers on all five shows asked Rice to provide the Obama administration’s explanation for the murder of the four Americans in Benghazi.

On ABC’s  “This Week,” in response to a question by Jake Tapper,  Rice answered, “But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.”  Rice repeated this explanation on all five shows.

On Sept. 25, 2012, President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He also repeated Rice’s explanation for what happened in Benghazi. Obama said, “That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video.”

According to an Associated Press story by Paul Schemm and Michael Maggie: “Within 24 hours of the attack, both the embassy in Tripoli and the CIA station chief sent word to Washington that it was a planned militant attack,” and “there was no sign of a spontaneous protest against an American-made movie denigrating Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.”

The terrorist attackers numbering about 150 are suspected of being members of the powerful militia organization Ansar al-Shariah. Their members espouse a jihadist al-Qaida-like ideology. They fought in the Libyan civil war that overthrew the 42-year dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi.

Gregory Hicks was deputy chief of mission and charge d’affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya on Sept. 11. He was called to testify before the House Oversight Committee that is investigating Benghazi on May 9. Hicks said, “I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go. I think everybody at the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”

On Oct. 27 CBS’s 60 Minutes Lara Logan said, “Contrary to the White House’s public statements, which were still being made a full week later, it’s now well established that the Americans were attacked by al-Qaida in a well-planned assault.”

Logan’s reporting coup was an interview with a new source, a British security officer, who uses a pseudonym. He said, “On his first drive through Benghazi, he noticed the black flags of al- Qaida flying openly in the streets and he grew concerned about the guard forces as soon as he pulled up to the U.S. compound.”

Also interviewed was Lt. Col. Andy Wood, chief security officer in Libya, and Hicks. Wood said, “Al-Qaida — using a familiar tactic — had stated their intent in an online posting, saying they would attack the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans in Benghazi. They made good on two out of the three promises. It was a matter of time ‘til they captured the third one.”

Wood added, “I made it known in a country team meeting, ‘You are gonna get attacked. You are gonna get attacked in Benghazi. It’s gonna happen. You need to change your security profile.’”

On Oct. 28  Fox News interviewed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). He said, “So I am calling for a joint select committee. … The people who survived the attack in Benghazi, have not been made available to the U.S. Congress for oversight purposes. I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress.”

The truth was known from the beginning that the terrorist attacks were planned and well-organized by a militia group called Ansar al-Shariah and had absolutely nothing to do with a YouTube video. The Benghazi cover story was a lie repeatedly told to deceive the American people during an election year.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

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Obamacare: trick, treat or tax?

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Business, Congress, Economics, Fiscal Policy, Government, Government Spending, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, Law, Liberty, Macroeconomis, Microeconomics, People, Philosophy, Politics, Taxes, U.S. Constitution | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Obamacare: trick, treat or tax?

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

halloween-haunted-house-pumpkin-lights-free-hd

Credit: http://www.wallcg.com

If you think Halloween is scary, you should see the HealthCare.gov website. It is frightening.

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, he made a firm pledge to the American people.

“If you who make less than a quarter of a million dollars per year which includes 98 percent of small business owners, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime under my plan — not your payroll taxes, not your income taxes, not your capital gains taxes, nothing. It is time to give the middle class a break. That is what I will do as president of the United States,” Obama said. This was captured in a YouTube video titled “Not a Dime in Tax Increase for Those Earning Less than $250,000.”

Once he was elected, Obama made another promise to the American people.

Obama said, “No matter how we reform healthcare, we will make this promise to the American people; if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what. My view is that healthcare reform should be guided by a simple principle, fix what is broken and build on what works.” This statement was captured in a YouTube video titled “Obama to AMA keep your doctor and insurance we will build economy.”

On March 23, 2010, Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Before Obamacare was enacted into law, Obama was interviewed by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. He asked the president, “You were against the individual mandate during the campaign. Under this mandate the government is forcing people to spend money and fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?”

Obama said, “…For us to say that you have to take responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it is saying is that we are not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you.”

Stephanopoulos responded, “I do not think I am making it up. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, tax, a charge usually of money imposed on persons or property for public purposes.”

Obama replied, “George, the fact you looked it up Merriam’s dictionary, that a definition of tax increase,   indicates to me that you are stretching it right now.” The entire exchange was captured in the YouTube video titled “Obamacare : FLASHBACK President Obama said Individual Mandate Is Not a Tax (Sept 20, 2009).”

When Obamacare was enacted, 26 states, along with several individuals and others challenged the constitutionality of Obamacare in the courts. They argued that the law was a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives the federal government the power to regulate commerce between the states. The Supreme Court ruled that the law could not be upheld under the Commerce Clause. This was the primary argument of the government in arguing for the constitutionality of the law. Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority said, “The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance.”

However, the Supreme Court did accept the government’s tax argument that the individual mandate represented a tax on individuals who choose not the buy health insurance. The Court said, “going without insurance” is “just another thing the government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.”

Americans are not required to buy health insurance under the individual mandate, according to the Supreme Court in its ruling. However, if you elect not to buy one of Obamacare’s individual metal (bronze, silver, gold or platinum) plans through a state or federal health insurance exchange, you may be subject to a tax penalty or fine by the Internal Revenue Service.

For 2014, the fine is the greater of 1 percent of income or $95 per adult and $47.50 per child up to $285 per family. For 2015 the fine is the greater of 2 percent of income or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child up to $975 per family. For 2016 the fine is the greater of 2.5 percent of income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child up to $2,085.

Millions of Americans are now finding out from their insurance companies that as a direct result of the passage of Obamacare, they can no longer keep their existing individual plans or doctors. Instead, they have the choice of either purchasing one of the Obamacare metal health insurance plans with much higher premiums and deductibles or pay the IRS fine.

Thanks to Obama the American people believed their taxes would not rise and they could keep their existing health insurance plans and doctors. Obamacare is not a treat, but a trick or tax.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

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Obama’s SAD Deal

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Banking, Business, Congress, Credit, Economics, Fiscal Policy, Government, Government Spending, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, Law, Liberty, Macroeconomis, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, People, Philosophy, Politics, Tax Policy, U.S. Constitution, War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Obama’s SAD Deal

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

sad-face

Presidents like to make deals with the American people that supposedly will fix things.

Theodore Roosevelt had his Square Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt had his New Deal, Harry Truman had his Fair Deal, and President Barack Obama has his SAD (Spending Addiction Disorder) deal.

The most recent developments in Obama’s SAD deal are the federal government will be completely open for business and funded through Jan. 15, 2014 under yet another continuing resolution passed on Wednesday by Congress and signed by the president. The gross national debt ceiling was suspended until Feb. 7, 2014. By then the national debt will be approaching $17.5 trillion and will exceed the entire gross domestic product for 2013 estimated to be about $16 trillion.

In other words the SAD deal means more government spending and taxes, more massive budgetary deficits, more government debt and more money and credit creation by the Federal Reserve System to finance the SAD habit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to open the government until Jan. 15, 2014 and extend the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, 2014.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said, “The deal that has been cut provides no relief to the millions of Americans who are hurting because of Obamacare. The deal that has been cut provides no relief to all the young people coming out of school who can’t find a job because of Obamacare. It provides no relief to all the single parents who have been forced into part-time work, struggling to feed their kids on 29 hours a week.”

Unfortunately, the SAD deal will continue the annual massive budgetary deficits that over the last five years have averaged more than $1.2 trillion per year and will increase the burden of debt on existing and future generations of the American people. Under Obama’s SAD deal the gross national debt has been increased over $6 trillion to fund the fiscal year deficits from 2009 through 2013. The White House has optimistically estimated that the fiscal year deficit for 2014 will be only $750 billion!

The SAD deal has resulted in the worse post-World War II economic recovery with unemployment rates exceeding 7 percent for the 56 months of the Obama’s presidency. Tens of millions of Americans are searching for a permanent full-time job.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) at the Republican conference meeting on Oct. 16 said, “We all agree Obamacare is an abomination. We all agree taxes are too high. We all agree spending is too high. We all agree Washington is getting in the way of job growth. We all agree we have a real debt crisis that will cripple future generations. We all agree on these fundamental conservative principles.”

The American people agree that the Washington ruling elite of both the Democrat and Republican parties are simply incapable of controlling their SAD habit.

Cruz is right. The ruling elite are not listening to the American people.

The American people want federal spending and taxes to be cut, a balanced budget, the national debt paid off and Obamacare repealed. The American people can no longer afford to pay for Obama’s SAD deal.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

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Political junkies overdose

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Banking, Business, Congress, Credit, Economics, Fiscal Policy, Government, Government Spending, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, Law, Liberty, Macroeconomis, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, People, Philosophy, Politics, Tax Policy, U.S. Constitution, War, Weapons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Political junkies overdose

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

us_debt_ceiling_cartoon

The ruling elite in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, are addicts with a bad habit.

The ruling elite share many of the common addictions of the American people to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, food, gambling, games, pornography, television, sex and surfing the Web.

Yet the ruling elite have a unique habit that the American people can no longer pay for or support. The name of this habit is SAD — Spending Addiction Disorder.

The primary symptoms of SAD are massive annual federal government budget deficits, raising the national debt ceiling and blaming others for their addiction problem.

Like most habits that turn into addictions, the ruling elite can no longer control themselves. They are hooked on spending other people’s money.

How bad is the SAD habit? For the past five fiscal years the federal government forced the American people to support their habit by collecting more than $12 trillion in taxes. However, the ruling elite’s habit is much worse. Besides the $12 trillion in taxes, the federal government spent in excess of $6 trillion by running annual budget deficits averaging more than $1.2 trillion per year.

This required the ruling elite to order the Department of the Treasury to issue more new Treasury debt securities in the form of Treasury bills, notes and bonds to finance these deficits that exceeded $6 trillion. As a result the total gross national debt now exceeds $17 trillion.

To put these amounts in perspective, the total U.S. real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2013 is estimated to be about $16 trillion.

President Barack Obama and Congress fear the American people will finally wake up and demand they kick their SAD habit and live within the means of the American people. This would require real cuts in the fiscal year 2014 federal budget spending with the aim of balancing the budget within three or four years.

The ruling elite SAD junkies are lashing out and demonizing American taxpayers who support their habit by calling them anarchists, arsonists, extremists, hostage-takers, kidnappers, terrorists or worse, Tea Party Republicans.

Obama held a press conference on Oct. 8 and warned that if the national debt ceiling is not raised by Oct. 17, the U.S. could default on its national debt and put the U.S. into another recession. Political junkies with the SAD habit have been known to lie in order to get another fix for their habit. On average the American people are currently paying the ruling elite about $225 billion each month in taxes which would more than cover the $35 billion monthly interest paid on Treasury debt, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) report. The last thing the U.S. government will do is default on the national debt by not paying the interest when due.

Mandatory spending makes up about 66 percent of all government spending and is required to be paid under existing authorization laws. Currently the federal government collects enough taxes to pay for mandatory spending including interest on the national debt, entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid), and income support programs (unemployment compensation, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP], Supplemental Income for the blind and disabled, earned income and child tax credits).

Discretionary spending makes up about 33 percent of government spending and includes spending for all federal departments, agencies and programs. Discretionary spending must be authorized each fiscal year and funded through appropriation bills.

The reason the political junkies with the SAD habit are panicking is they need to raise the national debt ceiling imposed by Congress by an additional $1 trillion above the existing national debt of $17 trillion to pay for discretionary spending for fiscal year 2014.  In order to get another debt raising fix, Congress must raise the debt ceiling once again.

Cutting federal government spending to balance the budget over a period of three or four years is never an option for the ruling elite junkies hooked with SAD. More and more government spending and taxes is the default solution for SAD political junkies.

The time has come for the American people to put the political junkies hooked on SAD in a rehab job in the private sector. The American people need to elect representatives, senators and a president that are fiscally responsible stewards of the general welfare and insist that all federal government budgets be balanced.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

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Government Shutdown, Obamacare Launch, Internet Working!

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Banking, Congress, Credit, Economics, Fiscal Policy, Government, Government Spending, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, Law, Liberty, Macroeconomis, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, People, Philosophy, Politics, Tax Policy, U.S. Constitution | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Government Shutdown, Obamacare Launch, Internet Working!

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

Get_Well_Obamacare

Credit: Drudgereport.com

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, …”1 so began Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.”

The best of times in America in 2013: the Internet is up and running.

The worst of times in America in 2013: President Barack Obama ordered a partial shutdown of federal government with about 800,000 nonessential government employees furloughed and sent home and launched Obamacare on Oct 1. A shutdown takes place when Congress fails to authorize funds for government operations.

Since 1976 there have been 18 partial and full shutdowns of the federal government lasting usually a few days to three weeks. The last shutdown occurred 17 years ago under President Bill Clinton when the government was closed for 21 days over the budget deficit.

First, a recap of the congressional funding fight to keep the government open and funded including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

In round one the Republican-controlled House passed a continuing resolution on Sept. 20 to fund the government at a level of $986 billion and keep it open for 11 weeks until Dec. 15 but would have defunded Obamacare.

In round two the Democrat-controlled Senate on Sept. 27 passed a continuing resolution by a vote of 54-44 along party lines that would have funded and kept open the government through Nov. 15 including Obamacare.

In round three the House early Sept. 29 passed, in a near party-line vote of 231-192, another continuing resolution to fund the federal government for 11 weeks until Dec. 15, but instead of defunding Obamacare, it would delay implementation of some key provisions, including the individual mandate for one year. The resolution would also repeal a new tax on medical devices.

The House also passed a bill to fund the troops and some Defense Department workers and contractors in the event of a government shutdown. The Senate passed the bill without dissent on Sept. 30 and the president signed the bill.

In round four the Senate twice rejected on Sept. 30 the House resolution to delay the implementation of Obamacare for one year and sent back to the House a clean resolution without the one-year delay in Obamacare and with funding for six weeks. The Senate also rejected Oct.1 the House call for a conference meeting to reconcile the House and Senate continuing resolutions (CR).

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refused to designate anyone as negotiators and send them to the meeting. Reid said, “The government is closed because of the irrationality of what’s going on the other side of the Capitol.”

Reid also said, “The bottom line is this: House Republicans should pass the Senate’s clean CR.”

House Speaker John Boehner said in a news conference on Sept. 30, “That’s not going to happen.”

The blame games begin.

Obama blames Congress. In a video message released midnight Monday and broadcast on Armed Forces television, Obama said, “Unfortunately, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility. It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again.”

Republicans blame Democrats for the government shutdown.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said, “None of us want to be in a shutdown. And we’re here to say to the Senate Democrats, come and talk to us.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a leader of the Tea-Party Republicans and who spoke on the Senate floor for over 21 hours in an effort to defund Obamacare, said, “The House has twice now voted to keep the government open. And, if we have a shutdown, it will only be because when the Senate comes back, Harry Reid says, ‘I refuse even to talk.’”

The implementation of Obamacare could easily put the slow-growing U.S. economy into another recession with even higher unemployment rates. Also, if Obamacare does not live up to its expectations and results in higher health insurance premiums with less plan benefits and coverage, the American people may take out their dissatisfaction not only with the Democratic Party, but with the president.

Heads could roll come Election Day, Nov. 4, 2014.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

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Count down to government shut down

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Banking, Business, Credit, Economics, Fiscal Policy, Government Spending, Health Care, Law, Liberty, Monetary Policy, People, Philosophy, Politics, Tax Policy, U.S. Constitution, War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Count down to government shut down

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

Senate_Must_Act

House votes to fund federal government but defund Obamacare                Credit: http://www.ktvu.com

The nonessential parts of the federal government may be shut down on Oct. 1 until Congress passes either a fiscal year 2014 budget appropriations bill or a continuing resolution.

Fiscal year 2014 begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2014. Since the Democrats want to increase government spending and taxes and the Republicans want to decrease government spending and taxes, neither party will agree to a budget appropriations bill.

Instead of a stalemate, Congress could pass a joint continuing resolution that appropriates funds for government departments, agencies and programs at current, expanded or reduced levels until a formal appropriations bill is signed into law or until the resolution expires. A continuing resolution would have to be passed by both the House and Senate and then signed into law by the president.

The House passed a continuing resolution on Sept. 20 that would fund the federal government at current levels for the first 11 weeks of the fiscal year 2014 and keep the federal government open. If this continuing resolution is not passed by the Senate, some nonessential parts of the federal government would need to be shut down.

The House resolution had two amendments. The first would strip out funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare and thereby stop its implementation. The second would direct how federal government spending is prioritized in the event the Treasury hits the borrowing debt ceiling limit in the near future.

The 230-189 vote was mainly along party lines with 228 Republicans and two Democrats voting in favor and 188 Democrats and one Republican voting against the continuing resolution.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) held a victory rally after the resolution passed and remarked, “The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare. The House has listened to the American people. Now it’s time for the United States Senate to listen to them as well.”

House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor put several Democratic Senators, who are up for re-election in Nov. of 2014, on the spot. Cantor called out Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Cantor said, “It’s up to Senate Democrats to follow House Republicans and show some responsibility.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Sept. 19, “I will do everything and anything possible to defund Obamacare.” Cruz promised to filibuster any attempt to strip out the language of the House continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare. A filibuster is the use of irregular or obstructive tactics by a Senator to prevent the adoption of a measure.

Cruz began his filibuster by saying: “I rise today in opposition to Obamacare. I rise today in an effort to speak for 26 million Texans and for 300 million Americans. All across this country Americans are suffering because of Obamacare. Obamacare isn’t working and yet fundamentally there are politicians in this body who are not listening to the people. They are not listening to the concerns of their constituents. They are not listening to the jobs lost, the people forced into part-time jobs, the people losing their health insurance, the people who are struggling. A great many Texans, a great many Americans feel that they do not have a voice. So I hope to play some very small part in helping to provide that voice for them. …I  intend to speak in opposition to Obamacare. I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare, until I am unable to stand.”

Cruz delivered on his promise by standing and speaking for more than 21 hours on Sept. 23-24.

According to a Sept. 15 NBC/WSJ poll, 44 percent of respondents call Obamacare a bad idea and 31 percent believe it’s a good idea.

In a national survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted on Sept. 14-15 by Rasmussen Reports, 51 percent favor a government shutdown until Congress cuts health care funding. The Rasmussen survey also found that “58 percent favor a federal budget that cuts spending, while 16 percent prefer one that increases spending. Twenty-one percent support a budget that keeps spending levels about the same.”

According to Rasmussen, “74 percent of Republican and 62 percent of unaffiliated voters would rather have a shutdown until the two sides can agree on what spending to cut,” while “63 percent of Democrats agree with the president and would prefer to avoid a shutdown by authorizing spending at existing levels.”

“Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown. I have said it before but it seems to bear repeating: the Senate will not pass any bill that defunds or delays Obamacare,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

The Democrats are determined to fund Obamacare, shut down the government on Oct.1 and blame it on Republicans.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

 

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Richland Celebrates Constitution Day

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Law, Liberty, People, Philosophy, Politics, U.S. Constitution, War, Weapons | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Richland Celebrates Constitution Day

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

US_Constitution

 

United States Constitution   Credit: historicdocumentsofamerica.com

Richland students celebrated Constitution day Sept. 17 by learning how the United States goes to war.

Dr. Edward J. Harpham, associate provost and professor of political science at the University of Texas at Dallas, presented a lecture and answered questions on how the Constitution and Wars Powers Resolution of 1973 applies to the possible use of military force in Syria. Harplam earned his masters and doctorate degrees in political science from Cornell University.

President Barack Obama initially sought a Congressional resolution authorizing military operations against the Assad regime in Syria for using chemical weapons against his people. The Assad regime had crossed the red line set by Obama in a press conference on Aug. 20, 2012.

However, Obama in his Sept. 10 televised address to the nation on Syria asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force. Obama wanted time for Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue a diplomatic initiative proposed by Russia and agreed to by Syria that could lead to the eventual destruction of chemical weapons controlled by the Syrian military.

In the absence of an emergency, where Congress has no time to react, Obama does not have the legal authority under the Constitution, the War Powers Resolutions or a United Nation’s Security Council resolution funded by Congress, to unilaterally attack Syria.

In a future military crisis a problem might arise if Congress votes down a presidential request for military action and the president ignores Congress and proceeds with military operations anyway.

Harpham concisely summarized the history of the authorities used by U.S. presidents to go to war and possible solutions to the shortcomings of the War Powers Resolution process.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Congress has exercised this power only five times: for the War of 1812 upon the United Kingdom, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I upon Germany and Austria-Hungary and World War II upon Japan, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

However, the United States has used military force many  times without Congress declaring war. Instead, Congress passes resolutions authorizing the use of military force. This was done for the Lebanon crisis of 1958, the Vietnam War, Multinational Force in Lebanon in 1983, the Gulf War in 1991, the 2001 war in Afghanistan and the Iraq War.

Congress has also authorized funds for extended military operations for United Nations Security Council Resolutions such as the Korean War, the Multinational Force in Lebanon in 1978, the Gulf War, the Bosnian War in 1992 and the intervention in Libya in 2011.

On more than 100 occasions presidents acting in their capacity as commander in chief have authorized the deployment of troops and the use of military force without a congressional declaration of war or a resolution authorizing military force.

After the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam in 1973, Congress wanted to limit the power of the president to deploy troops for extended periods of time without a congressional declaration of war or resolution.

In 1973 Congress passed the War Powers Resolution of 1973, a joint resolution over the veto of President Richard M. Nixon.  When Congress has not declared war or authorized  the use of military force, the law requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action. It also prohibits armed forces for remaining more than 60 days but allows an additional 30 days as a withdrawal period.

Harpham offered several possible solutions to the War Powers Resolution process, including revoking the law and replacing it with a new law or preferably a constitutional amendment that would address the president’s use of force where a military emergency, Congressional declaration of war, resolution or funding has not been authorized.

Harpham’s presentation will be posted on the Richland Chronicle Television archives for those who missed the lecture (richlandchronicle.com/chronicletv).

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com. You can listen to an interview with Harpham on the Pronk Pops Show 131, Sept. 17, by going to http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

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The Missiles of September

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Economics, Government, Government Spending, Law, Liberty, People, Philosophy, Politics, War, Weapons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Missiles of September

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

abort_launch_button

Did Russian President Vladimir Putin abort President Barack Obama’s plan to launch the missiles of September?

In a surprise move on Sept. 9, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “We are calling on the Syrian leadership to not only agree on placing chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also on its subsequent destruction and fully joining the treaty on prohibition of chemical weapons.”

Lavrov added, “If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus.”

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Syria was ready for, “full cooperation with Russia to remove any pretext for aggression.”

Also on Sept. 9 in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Obama said, “It is potentially a positive development. I have to say that it is unlikely that we would have arrived at that point where there are even public statements like that without a credible military threat to deal with the chemical weapons used inside of Syria.”

Diane Sawyer of ABC News asked Obama, “If Bashar Assad yields control of his chemical weapons to an international authority, are we back from the brink? Is the military strike on pause? Obama answered, “Absolutely, if in fact that happened.”

In his televised speech of Sept. 10 on Syria, Obama said, “This initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies. I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue the diplomatic path.”

In response to Obama’s speech, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said, “Twelve years after we were attacked by al-Qaida, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by al-Qaida, President Obama now asks us to be allies with al-Qaida. Al Qaeda. Americans by a large majority want nothing to do with the Syrian civil war. We fail to see a national security interest in a war between a leader who gasses his own citizens and Islamic rebels who are killing Christians.”

Paul added, “Some argue that American credibility is on the line, that because President Obama drew a red line with chemical weapons, America must act or lose credibility. I would argue that America’s credibility does not reside in one man. If our enemies wish to know if America will defend herself, let them look no farther than our response to 9/11. When attacked, we responded with overwhelming force and with the military objective of complete victory over our attackers.”

On Sept. 9 Charlie Rose on “CBS This Morning” interviewed Bashar al-Assad. Assad denied ordering the use of chemical weapons and said his own troops were attacked by Syrian rebels that used chemical weapons.

Rose asked what repercussions the United States could expect in the event of a strike. Assad replied “You should expect everything. Not necessarily through the government. The government is not necessarily the only player in the region . . .  Expect every action.”

Rose asked, “Including chemical warfare?” Assad replied, “If the rebels or the terrorists in this region have it, it could happen. I don’t know . . .  Nobody expected the 11th of September.”

Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Kuwait, wrote in an article titled “Containing the Fire in Syria” in YaleGlobal Online, “So what are the options? First, to recognize that as bad as the situation is, it could be made much worse. A major western military intervention would do that. And lesser steps, such as a no-fly zone, could force the West to greater involvement if they proved unsuccessful in reducing violence. The hard truth is that the fires in Syria will blaze for some time to come. Like a major forest fire, the most we can hope to do is contain it. And it’s already spreading. Al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria have merged, and car bombs in Iraq are virtually a daily occurrence as these groups seek to reignite a sectarian civil war.”

On Sept. 8, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on “ABC This Week,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said “I think a military attack is a mistake. One, because I think the administration is proceeding with the wrong objective, and two, because they have no viable plan for success.” Cruz added, “They are beginning from the wrong objective because this attack is not based on defending U.S. national security… I don’t think that’s the job of our military to be defending amorphous international norms.

“Just because Assad is a murderous tyrant doesn’t mean his opponents are any better. … Either the strike is really significant, it weakens Assad and the result is the rebels are able to succeed, and if that happened there is al-Qaida taking over, or Al Nusra taking over, and extremist terrorists getting access to those chemical weapons. That hurts U.S. national security,” Cruz added.

In 2007 then Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) said, “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Biden’s view was that if President George W. Bush ordered an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities without Congressional authorization, it would be unconstitutional and an impeachable offense.

In poll after poll the American people oppose military intervention in and war with Syria.

In a CNN/ORC international poll of 1,022 adult Americans conducted Sept. 6-8 and released Sept. 9, eight in 10 Americans believe the Assad regime gassed the Syrian people. However, 39 percent favor and 59 percent oppose Congress passing a resolution authorizing military action in Syria for 60 days. Should Congress fail to pass a resolution authorizing the president to use U.S. air strikes against military targets in Syria, 27 percent favor and 71 percent oppose the use of air strikes unilaterally by the president.

The reality is the American people, their representatives in Congress and the United State Constitution aborted the president’s plan to launch the missiles of September.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

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