Stop Stealing From My Grandkids!

The Federal Reserve has joined an open conspiracy with its other central-banking buddies to steal several trillion dollars from my grandchildren.

The plan is to steal not just from my grandchildren, but from all of us. Each American anywhere who measures the value of his savings, the pay he receives, the stocks he owns and every other possession he has in dollars — the currency that is created and controlled by our central bank — is a target.

Every time the Federal Reserve turns on the printing presses and creates “money” out of thin air (or, more accurately, creates a digital entry on a computer screen), it reduces the value of all the money that is already in circulation.

The equation is simple: The more fiat currency that is created, the less each individual currency unit is worth. The creation of fiat money is the only reason for inflation. Rising prices do not cause inflation, as the powers that be would like you to believe. You see, if you accept that false explanation, you will put the blame for rising prices on businesses, not on government, where it belongs.

No, it is the vast and unending creation of more fiat money (which can be done only by our legal counterfeiters, the Federal Reserve) that has caused the U.S. dollar to lose 95 percent of its purchasing power since the Fed was foisted on us nearly 100 years ago.

The Federal Reserve was born in a conspiracy by elitist bankers and government stooges. If you want confirmation of that accusation, click here to read The Conspiracy That Is The Federal Reserve, based on the interview I did with G. Edward Griffin, author of the superb exposé of the founding of the Fed, The Creature from Jekyll Island.

The Fed still operates as a conspiracy today. That is, it plots in secret to do things that the public would view as harmful. If that’s not a conspiracy, what is?

Here’s the almost unbelievable truth that should get every member of Congress voting to hold some treason trials: Everyone involved in this massive paper conspiracy knows exactly what he or she is doing.

John Maynard Keynes, the British economist who is widely regarded as the father of government intervention in the marketplace, admitted this truth about fiat money creation many years ago. He said: “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

Keynes also said that “not one person in a million” would understand the process. That helps explain why our government has been able to get away with it for almost 100 years.

Just how vast is this paper conspiracy? In the past four years, the Federal Reserve has created $16 trillion to $23 trillion in new fiat money. We don’t know exactly how much, and we can’t be sure where every penny has gone, because the Federal Reserve won’t tell us. It operates in secret. And it has flatly refused to share any of this information with Congress.

That’s right. Our elected Senators and Representatives — the people who are supposed to represent us in Washington — are as much in the dark about this as we are. But whatever the amount, it’s a lot of money, folks. More than we owe on the national debt, in fact.

And virtually all of it has gone to the very people and institutions that created our financial crisis in the first place!

Normally, I don’t look to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show for razor-sharp analysis of what our leaders are doing. He is not exactly the staunchest defender of the U.S. Constitution you can find on TV. He’s a comedian, for crying out loud. That’s why his program is broadcast on Comedy Central.

But I’ve got to tell you, the guy knows how to rant. And he did one heck of a job a few days ago on the Federal Reserve bailout of the big banks. Click here to watch it.

In his diatribe, Stewart refers to the Federal government as “the world’s dumbest loan shark.” Why else, he wonders, would they lend $7.7 trillion to our biggest banks for next to nothing (what else can you call a 0.01 percent interest rate?) — and then pay the same institutions more than 2 percent to lend the money back to them?

I wish we were talking about just $7.7 trillion and that U.S. banks and other financial institutions were the only ones getting the fiat money. At least that way, almost all of that newly created currency would be sloshing around our shores.

But the situation is far worse than Stewart described. The Federal Reserve has joined a cabal of its fellow central bankers to paper over the current crisis in Europe.

Their solution to the crises caused by printing too much fiat money is to… print more fiat money. This is akin to the Democrats’ solution to our growing financial crisis here at home: Let’s borrow our way out of debt.

How much more fiat money are we talking about? No one knows. But of one thing you can be certain: No matter how much fiat currency comes flowing out of the tap, it won’t be enough. Like every estimate for a government project I’ve ever seen, the final numbers will be many times higher than the ones they first give us.

Where is the leadership on the right that’s denouncing this extremely dangerous game? Well, actually, there is one person who is speaking out loudly, boldly and clearly: my favorite Texas Republican, Ron Paul.

“This will flood world markets with more dollars and will soon mean rising prices for every American at the grocery store,” Paul warned. “This extra liquidity will temporarily ease the cash crunch for irresponsible bankers all over the world, but in the long run it will make the situation much worse for consumers all over the world.”

Yes. Keynes said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” That’s what the banking and government elites are counting on.

Paul also said: “Make no mistake — this is not capitalism and this is not how a free market operates.” No, it’s the most odious kind of crony capitalism: planned in secret among our self-appointed rulers in the White House, Congress and at the Federal Reserve.

Forgive another shameless plug for Paul, but he has also proposed the only practical solution to this conspiracy to bankrupt us: Audit the Fed. And then shut it down.

Until then, keep some powder dry. You’re going to need it.

–Chip Wood

The Numbers Lie

Rigging the unemployment numbers. There was a lot of pointing with pride last week when the Labor Department announced that unemployment in the United States had fallen from more than 9 percent to 8.6 percent. What the Barack Obama apologists didn’t mention, however, was that the numbers improved not because 120,000 new jobs were created; that would barely move the meter. No, what caused the drop was that 315,000 people stopped looking for work. Heck, if the White House could persuade all of the unemployed to quit applying for jobs, unemployment would fall to 0 percent.

It ain’t working for me. In its report on the joint action by the world’s central banks to bail out Europe (the subject of today’s Straight Talk column), The Wall Street Journal ran this top-of-page-one headline: “Central Banks Move to Calm Fears.” The news didn’t calm any of my fears. Did it calm yours?

The TSA identifies a new terrorist threat. A 17-year-old girl was yanked from airport security last week as she tried to fly home to Jacksonville, Fla., from Virginia. The TSA had detected an ominous threat to her fellow passengers: Her leather purse was decorated with an ornamental pistol. How anyone could see a potential threat in an embossed leather gun is beyond me. But then, as one reporter observed: “Tyranny is stupid, too.”

They put up how many Christmas trees? If you can get anywhere near Asheville, N.C., this holiday season, do yourself a favor and go see the Biltmore House. With 250 rooms, it is the largest privately owned mansion in America. To say it is spectacular is an understatement. George Washington Vanderbilt’s descendants really outdo themselves at Christmas time. The decorations inside include 57 Christmas trees, including a majestic Fraser fir that is 34 feet tall.

–Chip Wood

Frankly Sad News

Darn! Now, I can’t help defeat him. I was kind of sad to learn that after more than 30 years of pushing this country further and further left, Massachusetts’ favorite gay caballero, Barney Frank, would not be seeking re-election next year. I always enjoy sending a few dollars to anyone running against my least-favorite politicians. And I can tell you, there’s never a dearth of choices. Are there any other Bay Staters I should help defeat?

Barack Obama campaigns like crazy, and you pay for it. The following statistics shouldn’t surprise you, but they help confirm that our President is the duplicitous rascal we all know he is. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 17 of his third year in office, Bill Clinton held 40 events in 24 days in the States his handlers considered vital for re-election. During the same period, George W. Bush held 49 events in 34 days. As of Nov. 17, Obama had attended 54 events in 11 battleground States over 42 days. He has attended two more since then. Taxpayers foot the bill for almost every trip.

NBC apologizes to Michele Bachmann. When Presidential contender Michele Bachmann appeared on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” last week, the band celebrated her entrance by playing a vulgar rock song, “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” The band members thought it was a hoot; some of them had even tweeted to brag about what they would do. Imagine the outcry if they had done something similar to Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. At least Bachmann got an apology from an NBC executive. Were it up to me, heads would have rolled.

Feeling cramped in your workspace? If you sometimes feel that your office cubicle has shrunk, you’re right. A study by the International Facility Management Association says that non-management personnel have lost 15 square feet of office space since 1994. Jamming more employees into less space means lower rent and smaller utility bills. It also means knowing a lot more about your neighbors (and they know a lot more about you) than you’d probably like.

–Chip Wood

European Crisis Likely To Impact Americans

“If I were you, I’d be terrified.”

That was Porter Stansberry’s response to a questioner, after Stansberry gave a heart-stopping presentation on the worldwide debt crisis at a recent conference.

Porter is the author of “The End of America,” a jeremiad that has been read or watched by more than 20 million people, including a lot of subscribers to Personal Liberty Digest™, to which Stansberry is a frequent contributor.

Stansberry was the keynote speaker at a conference in Baltimore sponsored by the Project to Restore America, which he founded. I served as master of ceremonies. Somehow, I managed to get a corner room high in the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, where I had some of the most fantastic views I’ve enjoyed in a long time. I even saw fireworks explode over the city on Saturday night.

They were a fitting companion to the fireworks at the conference. Stansberry spelled out all the reasons why Europe is heading straight for the financial garbage heap. He said an economic collapse in Europe would almost surely drag the United States down with it. As evidence, he cited the fact that U.S. money market funds have invested more than $500 billion — almost one-third of their total holdings — in European paper. “They’re selling it as fast as they can,” Porter told the audience. “But what happens if a big enough chunk of that money becomes worthless?”

That was when a member of his audience asked Porter if he should be worried about all of this. An incredulous Porter replied, “Did you listen to my speech?” Then he said, “If I were you, I’d be terrified.”

Great. One more thing to add to the worry pile.

Stansberry offered advice on how to survive the disaster that is coming:

  • Get out of debt. Don’t owe anything to anyone: banker, neighbor, friend or family member.
  • Own gold — as much as you can afford — and some silver, too.

The Project to Restore America has just three goals: to restore sound money, to demand a balanced budget and to limit how much of your money government can take from you. If you would like to learn more and sign up for the free daily emails, you can do so here.

The Conference’s Most Enjoyable Surprise

Quick: Who was the first person to officially become a candidate for President of the United States this year?

I’ll give you a hint: You’ve probably never heard of him. And here’s a second hint: I introduced him at the conference. The crowd was absolutely delighted with his pro-freedom, anti-government-meddling remarks.

In my introduction, I mentioned that a lot of people were upset by how little time Ron Paul was getting in the Republican debates: 89 seconds in the 90-minute debate that CNN sponsored. “That was 89 seconds more than our next speaker got,” I told the crowd. “All of the networks (yes, even Fox) have rigged the rules to keep him off the platform.”

The candidate is Gary Johnson. He is a two-term governor of New Mexico. While he was in office (1995-2003), he vetoed 750 spending bills from the Democrat-controlled State Legislature. When he left office, the State had balanced the budget for four consecutive years.

If you want a President who is physically active, Johnson is your man. He is a five-time Ironman triathlete. He has biked across the Alps. And he climbed Mount Everest with a broken leg — and no medication.

He may not be the most passionate speaker you’ve ever heard (even his admirers admit he is sometimes a little dull). But he’s got some great one-liners, including, “My neighbor’s dog has created more shovel-ready projects than Barack Obama.”

Why aren’t you allowed to hear him in the Republican debates? Obviously, the powers-that-be have decided that you’re allowed to hear from only one Libertarian candidate this year.

I’m not saying I’m about to go door to door in my neighborhood campaigning for Johnson or that you should, either. But I am saying that he shouldn’t be muzzled. He deserves to be heard.

The best article I’ve read about Johnson was the profile, “Is This the Sanest Man Running for President?” that appeared in the September 2011 issue of GQ Magazine.

If you read the article, I think you’ll be more convinced than ever that our lying national media are almost as big a threat to our freedoms and our future as our government.

That’s why supporting alternative media like Personal Liberty Digest™ is so important. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the fate of our Republic could depend on it.

What are you doing to help spread the word?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Chewing Gum Helps Boost Test Results

CANTON, N.Y., Nov. 30 (UPI) — Students who chewed gum for 5 minutes before taking a test did better on the test than students who did not chew gum before the test, U.S. researchers said.

Serge Onyper, an assistant professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., said “mastication-induced arousal” is credited for the testing score boost, which lasted for about the first 20 minutes of testing.

A “battery of cognitive tasks” was given to study participants, who chewed gum either prior to or throughout testing. The results were compared with those of subjects who did not chew gum, Onyper said.

Many studies have shown that any type of physical activity can produce a performance boost and this study points out that even mild physical activity can bring on such a boost, Onyper said.

“Chewing gum gave the subjects multiple advantages, but only when chewed for 5 minutes before testing, not for the duration of the test,” Onyper said in a statement.

Benefits persisted for the first 15 to 20 minutes of testing only. Onyper noted it was possible the benefits didn’t continue throughout testing due to a sharing of resources by cognitive and masticatory processes.

Our Tax System Stinks

$14 billion in profits, zero in taxes. If you invest in General Electric, congratulations. Your company made $14 billion in profits last year and didn’t pay a penny in taxes. How was that possible? Well, $5 billion in profits in the United States were zeroed out because of a multitude of tax credits (think green energy) and other deductions. And $9 billion was earned and kept overseas, so no taxes were due on that money, either. If this makes you think our tax system stinks, you’re right. Now, what are we going to do about it?

And speaking of a government program that stinks. There are several landfills in and around Dallas where companies can dump garbage. But only one is owned by the city. The McCommas Bluff Landfill in South Dallas charges $21.50 per ton of trash. The private landfills in north Dallas charge $17 to $18 per ton. So the city has decided to order every waste truck in the city to bring their trash to McCommas. The city expects to earn $15 million to $18 million more in revenue. Of course, it will cost the trash haulers more than that, to pay for the extra time, gas, labor, etc. — every penny of which will be passed on to their customers. Isn’t it great when government runs things?

And this is a bad thing? In a speech in San Francisco last month, President Barack Obama warned that if he loses the 2012 election: “It could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.” Only in San Francisco would an audience agree that self-reliance is a bad thing. My momma would have wanted to spank them all.

An amazing blockbuster. Forget “Titanic,” “Avatar” or some other Hollywood hit. The biggest blockbuster in years didn’t come from a movie studio but a bunch of geeks playing war games. In the first 24 hours of its release, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” sold 6.5 million units, for a total take of $400 million. Please note: That was the sales in one day. Give it a year and the game could pass $1 billion in sales. That’s a lot of bullets, blood and bodies.

–Chip Wood

 

The Plot To Make Hillary President

Here’s some news that could turn the entire election upside down. Leading Democrats are urging Barack Hussein Obama to withdraw as a candidate for re-election in 2012, as Lyndon Baines Johnson did almost 50 years ago.

The campaign to get Obama to quit the race kicked into high gear on Monday, when influential Democratic leaders Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen wrote a lengthy piece for The Wall Street Journal on why Obama should withdraw. Here’s part of what they said:

“[Obama] should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president’s accomplishments.”

Who would they have run instead? Get ready for their totally predictable pitch:

“He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

I’ll spare you the hundreds of words that follow as the two Democratic pollsters make their case “as patriots and Democrats.” Let me go directly to their conclusion:

“If President Obama is not willing to seize the moral high ground and step aside, then the two Democratic leaders in Congress, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, must urge the president not to seek re-election—for the good of the party and most of all for the good of the country. And they must present the only clear alternative—Hillary Clinton.”

The Democrats’ political idol, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” Does anyone want to bet that this is all part of a plan?

On to part two of my “you’d better hope this doesn’t happen” scenario. I have a neighbor I like to call a yellow dog Republican. He doesn’t care who the Republican nominee is; he’d vote for a yellow dog, if necessary, if the cur could beat Obama.

My friend’s greatest fear is that Donald Trump will spend $100 million of his own money on a third-party candidacy. “That is all it would take,” my friend is convinced, “to guarantee a Republican defeat.”

I’m not so sure I agree with him. I’d like to think that enough voters will see past The Donald’s enormous ego and inflated self-importance and cast their votes more wisely. But there is no question that Trump would love all the media attention and public adulation he would receive if he ran.

No question, The Donald would make the race more interesting. Will he be the spoiler who keeps Barack Obama in the White House? I don’t think so. But we’ve got almost a full year ahead of us; surely there will be other surprises: some pleasant, some unpleasant.

Lastly, let’s review what seems to be a terrible case of self-induced suicide on the part of potential Republican nominees. It began with Rick Perry’s embarrassing brain freeze, when he could remember only two of the three Federal agencies he wants to abolish. (The biggest laugh of the evening came when Ron Paul, standing next to him, leaned over and offered to list five agencies that should be done away with.) Perry’s gaffe, along with a few less-serious stumbles, led to a flash-crash in his polls.

Then there’s poor Herman Cain. When asked what his policy would be regarding Libya, for a while he looked like he didn’t even know it was a country, much less where it was. Cain is the first to admit that he’s not a foreign-policy maven, but surely he can do better than blank out. Can’t he recite rehearsed sound bites for at least a minute or two?

I will say that he seemed to get bigger, stronger and tougher when he was asked about the four women who have accused him of sexual harassment. I wonder how many people believe his denials. Do you think most people believe that where there’s smoke there must be fire? Oh, and does anyone find it curious that all four of his accusers come from Chicago? Remember what FDR said about a plan.

That brings me to the coming-from-behind, white-haired wonder who is challenging Mitt Romney at the top of the polls. A few months ago, Newt Gingrich’s candidacy had been written off for dead — not just by many observers, but by almost all of the people on his staff, who deserted him en mass.

Gingrich certainly has proven the importance of persistence, hasn’t he? He’s also proved the value of a brilliant mind and a glib tongue. When he asked one audience whom they would prefer to see debate Obama, he knew he would be the odds-on favorite. Even I would like to see that.

But poor Newt; like Desi Arnaz used to say to Lucille Ball, he’s got a whole lot of ’splainin’ to do. He can start with why Freddie Mac paid his think tank more than $1.6 million for some “consulting” work. The idea that Gingrich was paid $30,000 an hour to give a history lesson — which was his first explanation — is so ludicrous that it’s hard to believe he said it with a straight face.

Whatever you think should happen, we’ve got a long way to go. The first primaries are almost two months away; the nominating convention is more than six months hence. There are certain to be a lot more blunders, baloney and BS between now and then.

Still, if you’ve got a favorite, better increase your efforts (and your contributions) now. Whoever it is needs all the help he or she can get.

More on this next week. Until then, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Should Joe Paterno Have Been Fired?

If you read the grand jury report, you would probably say hanging would be too good for Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno’s longtime assistant football coach at Penn State. I suspect you would want him drawn and quartered, with salt poured over the body parts.

The thought of a trusted adult taking advantage of his position to sexually molest young boys is absolutely sickening. The grand jury report said that Sandusky abused at least eight boys over a 15-year period. Since the scandal erupted, more young men have accused the former coach of equally heinous behavior.

If the news reports are to be believed, Sandusky was a serial pedophile whose perversions were known to head coach Paterno and his staff, as well as top university officials. There had even been some sort of investigation back in 1998. Yet nothing was done to stop him.

Can there be any possible excuse for such willful blindness on the part of so many supposedly responsible people?

Yet several things about this whole horrible story give me pause. First, whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Isn’t one of the bedrock principles of our justice system that you’re innocent until proven guilty?

Try telling that to Sandusky or to all of the people who have been affected by this terrible story, including the students, coaches, players, alumni, teachers and administrators at Penn State.

As I write this, Sandusky maintains he is innocent. He has admitted to nothing more than “horsing around” with the boys. “I enjoy being around children,” he explained. “I enjoy their enthusiasm. I just have a good time with them.” Finally, reluctantly, he admitted, “I shouldn’t have showered with those kids.”

Sandusky no doubt will get his day in court. He will have an opportunity to face his accusers, present a defense and learn his fate from a jury of his peers. Of course, it will be too late to salvage his reputation, restore his career or protect the foundation he founded.

But what about Paterno? If “innocent until proven guilty” were true, he would still have his job. Hundreds of college students (who clearly have their priorities screwed up) wouldn’t have gone on a rampage when he was fired.

Please note that these young people — among the best and brightest in the country, from some of our finest families — weren’t furious because a longtime assistant coach at Penn State had repeatedly raped little boys. They weren’t indignant because all of the proper authorities, including Paterno, had behaved in a very improper manner.

No, they didn’t take to the streets to protect the innocent or to protest on the children’s behalf. They were behaving like spoiled brats because their football coach had been canned.

Sure, I feel sorry for JoePa, as he is affectionately known. One of the most amazing athletic records of all time will be sullied forever. This is a guy who spent 62 years of his life doing the one thing he wanted most to do: coach football at Penn State.

Since becoming head coach 46 years ago, his teams won a record 409 victories, including two national championships and all five major bowl games: Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Fiesta. He was the first college football coach named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated magazine. Four years ago, at the age of 80, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Now, the Big Ten has announced that his name will be removed from its championship football trophy. There will be no more Paterno Championship Trophy. Effective immediately, it is the Stagg Championship Trophy. The choice is a bit of a head-scratcher. Do you know Stagg’s full name? And when and where he coached? (The answer: Amos Alonzo Stagg, the University of Chicago, 1892-1932.)

By the way, Nike says it is standing by Paterno and has no plans to rename the building it named in his honor at its Beaverton, Ore., headquarters. But I’ll bet Nike executives wish they had chosen something other than the Joe Paterno Child Development Center to salute him.

There have been a ton of suggestions about what should happen next. Two of the craziest appeared in a column by Joe Nocera in The New York Times. One of Nocera’s ideas was that Penn State should show how sorry it is for what happened by canceling all of next season’s football games. How would that help anyone?

And Nocera wants Penn State to take all the money it makes from football (about $50 million a year) and use it to create a compensation fund for anyone who was hurt by Sandusky’s abusive behavior.

The claimants would line up for miles. I shudder to think about the depraved stories some people would concoct — and the media would gladly publicize — to get their hands on some of that loot.

It is ironic that so many officials tried to protect an institution (and a football program) they say they loved by ignoring a pedophile in their midst. Their willful blindness (and, some allege, deliberate perjury) got their college president and revered football coach fired. How much worse will the damage be? Only time will tell.

Did Paterno deserve to be fired? Yes. As the man himself said, “I wish I had done more.” I wish he had, too.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Money For Nothing

Getting paid a lot for messing up. A lot of folks believe that the profligate loan policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac help precipitate the financial crisis in the United States and the multibillion dollar bailout both government-sponsored entities subsequently received. So they won’t be happy to learn that nearly $100 million of their tax dollars went to lucrative pay packages for the agencies’ executives. The two top guys, Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams and Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman, each collected about $5.5 million last year and may get even more. Congress has promised to investigate.

Paying a lot just for waiting. A new IBOPE Zogby poll indicates that waiting for the cable guy or other at-home appointments cost Americans nearly $38 billion in lost wages in 2011. The average waiting time for the 1,000 adults polled was 4.5 hours. Seventy percent of respondents said they would recommend a company simply for showing up on time. Offender Comcast has promised customers it will do better.

Hollywood’s most overpaid stars. Forbes magazine reviewed the salaries and ticket sales of Hollywood’s 40 highest-earning stars. Drew Barrymore topped the list of “most overpaid,” earning her studios a paltry 40 cents for every dollar she collected. Eddie Murphy was in second place, with Will Ferrell, Reese Witherspoon and Denzel Washington rounding out the top five.

Please give the guy the microphone. A lot of Ron Paul fans thought their guy was given short shrift during the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina last week. They were absolutely right. During the course of that 90-minute debate, Paul was allowed to speak for a measly 89 seconds. This isn’t the first time this has happened. A study by the University of Minnesota last month reported that Paul has been given the least amount of speaking time of all candidates, despite beating several of them in the polls.

–Chip Wood

 

Taxes Will Go Up

Sneaking a tax increase into law. The word out of Washington is that the so-called “super committee” of Congress, which was granted extraordinary (and unConstitutional) powers to “resolve” the debt crisis, will approve several new revenue enhancers. Please note it will not use the dreaded phrase “tax increase.” No, instead it plans to disallow many deductions taxpayers have enjoyed for years. The result, of course, will be to increase the taxes you and I pay.

Another stinking welfare program. Believe it or not, a U.S. lawmaker from Connecticut wants the government to provide free diapers to poor families. Representative Rosa DeLauro is sponsoring the Diaper Investment and Aid to Promote Economic Recovery Act, aka the DIAPER Act. This certainly puts a new spin on the “cradle” part of cradle-to-grave welfare.

The truth no one mentions about Jon Corzine. The media are treating the collapse of MF Global as another example of a big financial institution run amuck. What it doesn’t mention are the impeccable liberal credentials of Jon Corzine, the man who headed the firm. Corzine made millions at Goldman Sachs. Then, he bought himself a seat in the Senate and later the governorship of New Jersey. Over the years, he made major contributions to the Democratic National Committee, the Clintons, Barack Obama and numerous left-wing causes. Have you seen any of that in the media reports?

Blame the Democrats for this one, Mr. President. Are you getting as tired as I am of hearing Barack Obama blame Republicans in Congress for not passing his so-called “jobs bill?” What he never mentions, of course — and what the pundits of the press never chide him about — is that a major bottleneck is the Democrat-controlled Senate. It seems Harry Reid refuses to bring the legislation up for a vote because he knows it won’t pass. Why? Several Democratic Senators also oppose it.

–Chip Wood

 

The Government Wants to Seize Your Vitamins

No matter how many times you beat back a Federal power grab, it is almost impossible to kill the monster. Like the most terrifying villain in the worst horror movie you’ve ever seen, it keeps coming back to life and threatening the townspeople.

Consider the efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to make it impossible for you to buy the vitamins you want. The FDA first tried to make many supplements illegal in the early 1990s. But its overzealous persecution of vitamin makers (I was one of them) caused millions of consumers to demand that Congress block the FDA.

As a result, in 1994 Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). While the law was far from perfect (what Federal legislation ever is?), it did protect the right to take the supplements of our choice. The only way the FDA could intrude was if it could prove a supplement was unsafe. I don’t know of a single case in which that happened. So for 17 years, those of us who take vitamins to protect our health were safe from government meddlers.

Unfortunately, there was a dangerous loophole in that 1994 law. While supplements that existed at the time were protected by law, the FDA was given the authority to regulate any new ingredients that were introduced after Oct. 15, 1994.

What happened? At first, nothing did. For 17 years, the FDA took no action.

That’s been a good thing, because for 17 years the dietary supplement industry continued to innovate. It discovered new ingredients and formulations and found better ways to extract and concentrate the most effective natural ingredients. As a result, millions of consumers benefited. They protected their hearts and arteries, found relief from joint pain, improved their memory, protected their prostate and much more.

Meanwhile, some deadly dangers did exist. Pathogens like E. coli in food kill at least 2,000 people every year. Acetaminophen, the painkiller in Tylenol and other drugs, is known to kill hundreds more. An FDA researcher estimated that there may have been more than 27,000 deaths linked to the use of Vioxx before the FDA finally took the drug off the market.

Now, the FDA wants to act like the past 17 years never happened. The agency has drafted a proposal to regulate what it calls “new dietary ingredients.” If this proposal is implemented, some of the most effective nutrients you take will be pulled from the market. Nutrients like resveratrol, ubiquinol CoQ10, bacopa, strontium and more.

That’s not all. Under these guidelines, the FDA can define almost anything as a new dietary ingredient. For example:

  • If a supplement includes more of an ingredient than was used 17 years ago (even something like vitamin C), it’s new.
  • If an ingredient uses a different extraction process (like baking or fermentation), it’s new.
  • If a supplement uses an ingredient at a different “life stage” (such as using ripe rather than non-ripe apples), it’s new.
  • If a supplement duplicates an ingredient in a laboratory rather than extracting it from the food (even though it’s chemically identical), it’s new.
  • And if a probiotic formula includes a strain of bacteria that wasn’t found in yogurt 17 years ago, it’s new.

What would happen to these “new” ingredients? The manufacturers would have to take them off the market until they could prove the ingredients are safe — even if those ingredients have been safely used for 17 years.

What kind of proof is the FDA demanding? According to the guidelines, many companies would have to conduct animal studies using a dosage that’s 1,000 times the typical dose.

I’m not kidding. The FDA wants vitamin makers to do studies for a full year, at 1,000 times the typical dose.

So a fish oil manufacturer would have to conduct a one-year study in which animals are force-fed the human equivalent of 240,000 milligrams of fish oil each and every day. Do you think this outrageous overdose might injure or kill its victim? Of course it could. And that would give the FDA all the excuse it needed to outlaw any product that contained it.

But wait, it gets even worse. If one fish oil manufacturer performed such a study and it passed, it doesn’t mean that other fish oil makers can use the same data. No, sir. They are still required to go out and do their own studies before they’re allowed to sell their product.

These studies are very expensive. A study like the one above typically costs $100,000 to $200,000 to perform. Multiply that by several ingredients in several products and you get an idea of the cost.

Say a company carries six products containing six ingredients each. It would cost between $3.6 million and $7.2 million in studies before that company could even offer the products for sale. For a larger company offering 50 products or more, the costs would be astronomical.

Even if the company did all of that, every penny of those new and higher costs would be passed on to you, the consumer.

Anyone on a tight budget (and that’s almost all of us these days) would find the supplements they rely on becoming prohibitively expensive — if they were even on the market anymore.

Few supplement makers will be able to afford these studies. Many of them will be forced out of business. The ones that remain would still be at the mercy of the FDA. That’s because there are no requirements for the FDA to approve anything. It can approve or reject anything it wants. In the past, it has rejected the majority of ingredients submitted to it.

That means most of the nutrients you buy today will be pulled from the market and never return. Those that do return will be a lot more expensive — or may be available only as prescription drugs.

This is a blatant abuse of power. What the FDA is doing is performing an end-run around the existing law. According to the law, the FDA has to prove a dietary supplement is unsafe for it to be taken off the market. These new guidelines turn that on its head. They are clearly not what Congress intended.

Fortunately, these FDA guidelines have not yet been finalized. All Federal agencies are required to give the public an opportunity to comment on a draft before it is made final. In this case, the FDA has given interested parties until Dec. 1 to comment on the draft. That means there’s a small window of opportunity for you to voice your disapproval.

Frankly, I wouldn’t bother commenting to the FDA. The process is deliberately cumbersome. Those unelected bureaucrats don’t care what you think, anyway.

Instead, please contact the people you do elect: your Congressman and your two U.S. Senators. They have the power to rein in the FDA, and they have done so before — when enough voters complained.

We may not be able to kill the monster, but we can drive it back into its cave. Whether we do is up to you.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Made In The U.S.

We export chopsticks to China? Yes, believe it or not, we do. Seems an entrepreneur in South Georgia realized that the poplar and sweet gum trees that grow by the thousands down there make almost perfect chopsticks. The wood is flexible and doesn’t splinter very easily. So now Georgia Chopsticks exports millions of pairs of chopsticks to China every day. Isn’t it amazing how the free market can work when government keeps out of the way?

Are you sure about that, Mr. Buffett? There is a great quote by Warren Buffett in a Wall Street Journal article on why billionaires should donate more to charity while they can. “You’re thinking more clearly at 70 years old then [sic] when you’re 95, with Anna Nicole Smith sitting on your lap,” the Sage of Omaha said. If it weren’t for his willful blindness about Obama’s tax-the-rich schemes (which I wrote about last week), you know what?  I’d probably agree with him.

Hotel fires employee for wearing a U.S. flag pin. The Casa Monica Hotel, one of the historic hotels in St. Augustine, Fla., fired an employee for wearing a lapel pin of the U.S. flag. It seems hotel policy declares that “no other buttons, badges, pins or insignias of any kind are permitted to be worn.” Here’s an idea: Instead of banning a flag pin, how about encouraging employees to wear one? Guess which policy the public would like better?

Trying to shoot the messenger. After Standard & Poor’s recognized the obvious and downgraded Federal debt, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it was launching an investigation of S&P’s rating of subprime debt. And the Justice Department said it was launching its own investigation of suspected criminal activity by the firm. Does anyone think these are not retaliation for the debt downgrade? But where has the national press been on this story?

–Chip Wood        

 

Herman Cain’s ‘High-Tech Lynching’

Six months ago, a virtually unknown candidate for the Republican nomination for President predicted that he would be the victim of “the same high-tech lynching that [Clarence Thomas] went through” — once he became more popular with voters.

Congratulations, Herman Cain. That is exactly what has happened.

I knew very little about the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza when I was asked to introduce him at a large conference in Las Vegas last July. And to be honest, neither did most of the audience. The overwhelming majority of the people who packed the ballroom that night were there to hear the speaker who would follow Cain: Kentucky’s newly elected freshman Senator, Rand Paul.

By the time he had finished his rousing, passionate address, though, Cain had made many new friends among the 2,000 or so people who heard him. In fact, many of them followed him to a private meeting upstairs, where he received several donations and pledges to help him reach more voters with his message.

Thanks to his magnetic personality, his unflagging energy and his novel policy proposals — including his 9-9-9 tax idea — Cain has climbed in the polls as rapidly as others have fallen. So it should come as no surprise that his prediction last May is also coming true. The smear campaigns have begun.

Just like with Thomas, the media dug up an unproven, decades-old allegation of sexual harassment. And virtually overnight, it was treated as the most important story of the month. CBS News led its evening broadcast with it. The New York Times put it on the front page the next morning — and announced that it was assigning seven reporters to track down the facts. (Read: Pass on every nasty accusation and unproven allegation they can find.)

Cain has denounced the accusations as being “totally false.” Many people who worked with him at the National Restaurant Association, which he led when the rumored harassment took place, have leapt to his defense. But no matter. The smear artists of the national press think they have found a nice juicy bone to gnaw on. And you’d better believe they are going to do everything in their power to chew it — and Cain’s aspirations — to pieces.

None of this should come as a surprise to Cain. After all, here is the rest of the quote that I used at the beginning of today’s column: “I’m ready for the same high-tech lynching that [Clarence Thomas] went through – for the good of this country.”

Of course, if any white conservative comes to Cain’s defense, it will just be more proof to those on the left that we are racists.

Think I’m kidding? Listen to what Karen Finney, a former spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said on MSNBC last week:

“One of the things about Herman Cain is, I think that he makes that white Republican base of the party feel okay, feel like they are not racist because they can like this guy. I think he is giving that base a free pass. And I think they like him because they think he’s a black man who knows his place.”

Knows his place? Cain thinks his “place” is in the White House! How’s that for being “uppity?”

In the twisted logic that passes for thinking by the left in this country, it simply isn’t possible to be a black and a conservative. These liberal do-gooders actually believe that every minority in America is beholden to them. They view any black who has the temerity to be a conservative as a traitor and a turncoat. If they can’t convert black conservatives or frighten them into silence, then they will try to destroy them.

The worst example of this in my lifetime was the campaign to destroy Thomas’ reputation and aspirations. I had seen nothing like it since the communists and their allies set out to ruin Senator Joe McCarthy. Unhappily for our country, they succeeded with McCarthy. Happily for us, Thomas stood up to the worst they could throw at him and emerged victorious. Thank goodness we have someone of his rock-solid character, powerful intellect and unwavering adherence to the Constitution on the Supreme Court. I wish we had half a dozen more like him… of whatever color.

Many on the loony left honestly believe that if white conservatives don’t like the policies of Barack Obama, it means we are racists. And if we’d much rather see Cain in the White House, that really proves we’re bigots.

Don’t look for any logic in this rationale. There isn’t any. The left loves to rig the debate. I can’t tell you how many variation of the “you’re a racist” argument I heard before, during and after the 2008 Presidential contest. No matter how calmly we presented our objections to some new socialist scheme from Obama and his “community organizer” buddies, you knew there would be some liberal somewhere who would denounce us as “racists.”

This well-worn slander worked for a while. But today, almost everybody is fed up with Obama’s failed policies and arrogant posturings. The few remaining exceptions are students, intellectuals, Hollywood elitists and union members — or, as someone remarked about the Occupy Wall Street protestors, the homeless, the jobless and the clueless.

And then along comes Cain, the fast-food entrepreneur with a skin that is several shades darker than the current occupant of the White House. His rise in Republican polls is driving many on the left absolutely crazy. They simply can’t believe that an intelligent, successful black in America can be a conservative. And when they find one that is, their fury knows no limits.

So their only recourse is to do what Cain himself called a “high-tech lynching.”

I hope Cain is strong enough to withstand all of the lies, smears and nasty allegations the left and their allies in the media throw at him. I suspect he is.

I also suspect that many Americans are sick and tired of such mudslinging — even when (or especially when) the perpetrators are the self-appointed guardians of the public good on network TV and the national press.

Please do your part to expose their lies. Your country will thank you for it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood 

Please, Mr. Buffett, Shut Up!

I don’t know which I’m more tired of hearing: Barack Obama gloating that one of the richest men in America supports his tax-the-rich efforts, or Warren Buffett whining that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.

Let me state for the record that both men are playing fast and loose with the truth, and they both know it.

It is true that Buffett pays a relatively low rate in taxes on most of his income. That’s because it’s not his salary that matters, but what he receives in dividends from his investments. Such dividends are currently taxed at 15 percent a year. If he pays his secretary a decent wage, which I’m sure he does, her tax rate is surely much higher.

But what Warren doesn’t include in his calculations are the taxes that have already been paid on those dividends before he receives them. You see, corporations must pay Uncle Sam 35 percent of all the profits they make before they can send any of those profits to the owners of the company — that is, the shareholders.

This tax rate, by the way, is one of the highest in the Western world. It explains why our most profitable companies that do business around the world — such multinational giants as Coca-Cola Co. and McDonald’s Corp., where Uncle Warren just happens to be a major shareholder — keep most of their profits offshore. Why should they bring those dollars back to the United States, where they would immediately get cut by 35 percent?

This explains why U.S. companies have decided to leave most of their offshore profits overseas. A recent estimate indicated more than $1.5 trillion in unrepatriated profits are held in foreign bank accounts, rather than being put to work building new factories and new products back home.

How many new jobs could that money create if it were put to work back here? Well, if a $400 billion jobs program could create 2.5 million new jobs (something I seriously doubt), then all those repatriated profits would go a long way to ending unemployment in the United States.

That won’t happen under the present Democrat rule.

But let’s get back to the taxes Buffett pays. If you add his 15 percent capital gains tax to the 35 percent tax on corporate profits, it shows the Federal government gets almost 45 percent of every dollar in taxed profits that Warren’s companies earn.

The bite from government doesn’t stop there. Nebraska also charges a 6.84 percent State income tax. There is also a 5.5 percent State sales tax assessed on most of the purchases residents there make. Oh, and let’s not forget an additional 1.5 percent sales tax Omaha, Neb., collects.

Of course, more than half of that amount is removed before Warren sees it, so it’s easy to see why he could overlook it in his calculations. But believe me, he knows it is happening. There are very few business owners in America who are as good at analyzing a balance sheet as the Sage of Omaha.

Think of it: Almost two-thirds of every dollar his companies earn and would like to pay him goes to government. And he doesn’t think it’s enough? C’mon, Warren, play straight with us here.

By the way, let me make one more point about America’s second-richest man before continuing.

Buffet has reduced his already low tax bill quite a bit more by making charitable contributions. I don’t know the full total, but he’s given away at least $50 billion to the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation. Just think, if he hadn’t taken the deduction, that’s several billion dollars he would have paid in Federal taxes.

But why stop there? If he really believes the Federal government deserves the money, why didn’t he send it all to Uncle Sam? Why, the extra $50 billion would have been enough to cover the deficit for almost 1.25 days.

Hmmm, when you put it that way, it doesn’t sound like very much, does it?

It’s too bad that Warren didn’t listen to his father more. Howard Buffet was a very conservative Republican Congressman who criticized growing government power back in the 1940s and ’50s. Think what he’d say today!

Warren’s dad didn’t like the graduated income tax and blamed the 16th Amendment for many of our financial ills. His son thinks millionaires don’t pay enough in taxes and seems pleased that Barack Obama likes to call his tax-the-rich efforts “the Buffett tax.” My, how things have changed out there in Omaha!

One last point before I leave this topic for today. I’ve been amused to see how many critics have jumped on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 proposal to change the tax system in this country because it’s regressive.

By “regressive,” those opponents mean it slaps an unfair burden on the poor. This is a great example of how the left likes to turn the meaning of words upside down. In the old days, everyone admitted that the Federal income tax was progressive, meaning that the more you earned, the greater percentage you had to pay in taxes. To the advocates of Big Nanny government, this was eminently “fair.”

Of course, those of us who pointed out that a progressive income tax was a key plank in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto were mocked, scorned and shouted down — when we weren’t totally ignored. But now the argument has become so turned around, the advocates of big government claim that if we tax everyone equally, we’ve suddenly become regressive.

Let me point out that none of these people oppose the most regressive tax in America: the numerous lotteries various States run. Studies have proved over and over again that the poorest third of our population spends the biggest proportion of available cash on lottery tickets.

It’s no surprise that many of them are addicted to the something-for-almost-nothing promise of this form of State-sponsored gambling. But at least they’re not allowed to buy lottery tickets with those fancy government-issued credit cards that have replaced food stamps. At least, I don’t think they are.

Probably every adult in America will agree that the present tax system isn’t fair. Getting them to agree on what should replace it is another matter entirely. It doesn’t help when the President of the country and our second-richest citizen conspire to fudge the facts.

As I said at the beginning of this piece: Please, Mr. Buffett, shut up.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Desperate For Votes

The communists endorse the Occupy Wall Street crowd. No surprise the communists like the protesters. After all, Brian Phillips, their self-proclaimed leader, said the group’s goal is nothing less than “the overthrow of the government.” The question is: Why have Barack Obama and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee cozied up to them? Are they that desperate for votes? I guess the answer is “yes.”

Subsidizing cars in Europe. After receiving Energy Department loan guarantees totaling $529 million to manufacture electric automobiles, the Fisker car company said it couldn’t find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work it needed; so it moved its assembly line to Europe. When he praised the original loan, Vice President Joseph Biden said it would be “a bright new path to thousands of new jobs.” Yeah, Joe, but you didn’t say they’d be in Finland.

Turning fairy tales into class-warfare propaganda. A new version of The Pied Piper of Hamelin has just been published for kids. In this version, the children live in rat-infested garbage heaps while “the rich and greedy” live in comfort. The mayor and his councilors are “the nastiest of all the rich folk,” having bilked the working people out of their just due. In this version, the piper leads away both rats and children. But he says he’ll return the latter if the evil rulers change their ways. It sounds ideal for parents in the Occupy Wall Street crowd, doesn’t it?

Student loans pass the trillion-dollar mark. Students and workers seeking retraining borrowed more than $100 billion in Federal loan programs last year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Total indebtedness for such loans will exceed $1 trillion by the end of the year — more than all the money that adults in America owe on their credit cards. And unlike most other debt, student loans cannot be erased by bankruptcy. It looks like a lot of youngsters will owe a lot of money for 20 years.

–Chip Wood

 

Put Up Or Shut Up

Please, Warren, shut up. Are you getting as tired as I am of hearing Warren Buffett spout off about how the rich should pay more in taxes? Rather than annually giving billions of dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which lowers his taxes even more, why doesn’t he just write a check to the U.S. Treasury? The truth is, every dollar Buffett gets in dividends has already been taxed 35 percent by the government. If you add that to the supposedly meager taxes he pays personally, it comes to a lot more than his poor secretary forks out. And what really riles me is that Buffett knows this.

Not even the Democrats like Obama’s jobs bill. The Democrats are sitting on a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate. So why hasn’t Harry Reid pushed through Obama’s much-ballyhooed (and utterly phony) jobs bill? Because the Senate Majority Leader knows too many Democrats won’t support it. Of course, our Prevaricator in Chief ignores this when he blames Republicans for not passing it. He knows telling the truth won’t get him re-elected.

Are you ready for a chat-down? Word is that some agents of the Transportation Security Administration are being trained in a new and gentler method of spotting potential bad guys (and gals). Instead of a pat-down during airport screening, get ready for a “chat-down.” The theory goes that asking a bunch of questions could help identify potential security risks. No, you’re not allowed to reply with just name, rank and Social Security number.

Of course, there’s no editorializing here. Let me quote, in full, the question Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty asked Representative Michele Bachmann during a recent Presidential debate: “Congresswoman Bachmann, three years after the financial meltdown, Main Street continues to suffer. People have lost their jobs, they’ve lost their homes, they’ve lost their faith in the future. But Wall Street is thriving. The banks not only got bailed out by the government, they have made huge profits, they’ve paid themselves huge bonuses. Do you think it’s right that no Wall Street executives have gone to jail for the damage they did to the economy?” Does anyone see any bias and political posturing here? Apparently, her bosses at The Post don’t.

–Chip Wood

Don’t Argue With Idiots, Even If They’re Family

I have a very serious question I want to ask you today: What are you doing to win others to our cause, so we can enjoy enough political victories next year to begin turning this country around? I hope you’ll give me some encouraging, even inspirational, answers.

Don’t get me wrong; I know it’s going to take a lot more than one election to undo the consequences of 100 years of growing government and infringement on our liberties. There is no magic wand we can wave and no magic leader we can elect who will suddenly undo all of the disastrous advances the socialists and their allies have made in our lifetime.

No, we’re going to win back our liberties and restore solvency to our government the same way we lost them: step by step, law by law, election by election.

It’s going to be difficult. Almost half of adults in America don’t pay a penny in Federal income taxes. They are “net tax recipients,” as the more kindly like to phrase it. I prefer “hogs at the trough.”

Then you have all of the people who have jobs and pay taxes, but only because they work for the government. Among these are several million bureaucrats — all of the so-called “public service” unions, their allies in the teachers’ unions and other organized voting blocs that think they are entitled to take more of your money for their favorite recipients: themselves.

And then, of course, there are all the liberal intellectuals, college professors, misguided idealists and pundits in the press who honestly believe government has a moral imperative to feed, clothe, house and educate everyone in need — with your money.

Don’t forget about the politicians who learned long ago that robbing Peter to pay Paul will always ensure them of Paul’s vote. Sadly, for the reasons I just enumerated, there are a lot more Pauls than there used to be; and there are a lot more politicians willing to pander to them, for the power and pelf they get as a result.

What are we going to do about it?

One approach is to try to win the support of those who disagree with us. I just had a lengthy exchange of emails with an old friend who had been trying to do this with his (very liberal) daughter. No matter what he said or how reasonably he phrased it, she just got angrier and angrier with him.

He finally threw in the towel and said he was giving up arguing with her. Nothing he said made any difference. And after all, “blood is thicker than brains.”

I know exactly what he means. I suspect you do, too. I recently spent two weeks on a trip with two very liberal cousins of mine. They are both sharp as tacks, as my mother used to say. But for all their brainpower, they still think it’s perfectly all right — in fact, even noble — to take money from me — by the threat of force, if necessary — and spend it on whatever recipients they think are more deserving than I am of my money.

Forget about private charity helping the truly needy. That’s too demeaning for the poor unfortunates. It’s much better to give them a government handout to which, after all, they are “entitled.”

Both cousins are very familiar with my position on things. They have known me as a card-carrying member of the far right going on 50 years now. (Yes, it’s true; this year, I celebrate my 50th year as a member of the John Birch Society.) So they couldn’t resist the opportunity to try to get my goat from time to time.

But I’ve been goaded by experts too many times to fall for their juvenile gibes. I know how to turn their slyest dig into an amusing rejoinder or to just ignore what they’ve said, which makes them even madder. So no blood was drawn (on either side) during our two weeks together. In fact, it was oftentimes somewhat amusing.

I even got them to agree that most of what we actually like about government — roads, firefighters, parks and police — is best done locally. Local government is more responsive to our needs, I said. It’s more efficient, less costly and easier to change when we don’t like what it’s doing. If it becomes truly insufferable, we can always move.

But I lost them when I argued that the Federal government, by contrast, costs way too much, is horribly inefficient and, on a daily basis, really doesn’t do much that we would actually agree to pay for, if we had a choice. It’s a vast, bloated bureaucracy enforcing rules and regulations that in many cases we don’t like, don’t understand and don’t want or need. The country would be much better off if its budgets and its authority were slashed dramatically.

All of this makes a lot of sense to me, as I’m sure it does to most of you. But of course, statements like these that drive the Barack Obama-lovers absolutely bonkers. And rather than try to dispute any of our facts, they usually resort to the nastiest sort of name-calling. My cousins were too polite to do this — at least not to my face. But none of us changed anyone’s mind.

And that’s the point of today’s piece: If we don’t increase our numbers, we’re not going to save our freedoms. So how do we do that?

My first recommendation is: Don’t argue with idiots, even if they’re family. All that will do is frustrate both sides of the debate. Give it up. It’s a waste of time. Remember what my friend said: “Blood is thicker than brains.”

If arguing with idiots isn’t the solution, what is? I think the answer can be found in three simple words: Activate our allies.

By that, I mean find people who already share our basic principles. See if they also share our concerns about how those principles are being threatened. And if they do, ask them to join you in doing something about it.

We don’t need them to become full-time crusaders for the local Tea Party, card-carrying members of the John Birch Society, or dues-paying members of any organization, for that matter. (Although there are plenty of good ones that deserve and can use your support.)

No, we must convey to them that they need to have an energizing realization of the battle we are in and a determination to do something about it.

At the very least, that “something” should be to vote for the very best candidates they can find next November. Please note the “s” on the end of the word. We need to do a lot more than just replace the current occupant of the White House, as important as that is. We need more Constitutionalists in the House, the Senate, the various State Legislatures and more Governors’ mansions.

What are you doing to make that happen? For one thing, I hope you’ll encourage more people to read these columns.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Look Who’s Protesting

Unions support the Occupy Wall Street movement. A new group has joined what The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto called “superannuated hippies, dopey college kids, and fatuous liberals” demonstrating against Wall Street: thousands of union members. And guess what? It turns out the labor groups all have something in common: “They all include members who work for the government or, in the case of the UAW, for corporate welfare cases.” Surprise, surprise.

A tiny step forward for Saudi women. Last month, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia granted women the right to vote in the next elections, which won’t take place until 2015. In the meantime, women are still forbidden to drive in the country or to appear in public without a male chaperone.

That wasn’t true either. A new book about Barack Obama’s mother says that his often-told story of how she died while worrying whether health insurance would cover her medical bills simply isn’t true. According to A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother by Janny Scott, Ann Dunham’s cancer treatments were covered by her employer’s health insurance, “minus the deductible and any uncovered expenses.”

Someone made a big mistake. Did you know that religious leaders of all faiths were deliberately excluded from the 10th anniversary memorial service where the Twin Towers used to stand? Former New York Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington said: “This is America, and to have a memorial service where there’s no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me. I feel like America has lost its way.” Maybe not America, Rudy, but some of our so-called leaders certainly have.

–Chip Wood 

 

Government Declares War On Lemonade Stands

Let’s switch for a bit from the deadly serious to the merely very irritating.

Last week, I pondered whether the U.S. is now sanctioning murder. Please click here if you didn’t read that very important column. So much more has come out about the slaying of Anwar al-Awlaki, and there has been so much confusion and controversy, that I’ll definitely return to the topic very soon.

But today, I want to talk about one of the most ridiculous results of our Big Nanny government run amok. It is the startling fact that all across the country, children are being told that their lemonade stands are against the law. And not just lemonade stands, but sales of Girl Scout cookies and Japanese green tea have also been declared enemies of the State.

I kid you not. In community after community, these budding entrepreneurs are being told to pack it up and scoot before they’re charged with various violations. In some instances, in fact, fines have been levied.

I’m beholden to the Freedom Center of Missouri, a relatively new public policy group in the Show Me State, for documenting the following list of outrages. Please note that all of these occurred this year. Such crackdowns are becoming more and more common.

Aug. 6: Massachusetts State police shut down the stand of a 12-year-old refugee from Fukushima, Japan, who was selling green tea he brought with him when he and his family evacuated after the tsunami.

Aug. 1: Police officers in Coralville, Iowa, ordered at least three sets of children to quit selling lemonade during the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa unless they first got a vendor’s permit and a health inspection. This is the first known example of a coordinated set of shutdowns at a single time.

July 19: In McAllen, Texas, authorities shut down a girl’s lemonade stand for failing to obtain a food permit and threatened a grandmother who protested with a $50 fine.

July 17: Police in Appleton, Wis., inform children that despite legally selling lemonade and cookies in their front yard during an annual city festival for the past several years, a new city ordinance bans these sales. The reason? To protect licensed vendors from competition. How’s that for a great example of how America works?

July 15: Cops in Midway, Ga., shut down a lemonade stand some children were running in their own front yard, saying the kids had to obtain a peddler’s license and a food license and pay $50 per day for a temporary business permit.

June 16: A county inspector in Maryland closes kids’ lemonade stand and fines parents $500 for violating county law.

June 10: The Philadelphia Department of Health shuts down a lemonade stand operated by a cancer charity because it lacked a necessary permit and — get this — didn’t install a hand-washing station.

March 7: Officials in Hazelwood, Mo., said a cookie stand in a family’s driveway violated local ordinances and ordered an end to the Girl Scouts cookie sale.

Feb. 26: Georgia police demanded the closure of a Girl Scout cookie stand until the girls obtained a peddler’s permit.

Feb. 26: Savannah, Ga., officials determined that city ordinances require an end to a 40-year tradition of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the historic home of the organization’s founder.

Is this a world gone crazy or what?

I wish I could tell you that the evil triumvirate of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama were responsible for this nuttiness. But they aren’t. In virtually every case, the culprits were local officials obeying local ordinances. So much for my long-held conviction that the closer you can bring government to the citizenry, the more fair and efficient it will be. Clearly, in the communities described above, some petty bureaucrats have an awful lot of time on their hands.

Have you heard of a similar outrage in your community? If you have, please notify the good folks at the Freedom Center of Missouri at www.mofreedom.org. They have a national map on their website where they like to track such things.

I thought of a way we can turn this absurd negative into a bit of a positive. And that is by asking you to share an inspiring story from your own youth when you demonstrated the same entrepreneurial spark as the youngsters above. What happened as a result?

I’ll start. My first money-making effort, besides a long list of chores that earned me a weekly allowance, was setting up a roadside lemonade stand along the highway that ran past our house.

What I didn’t consider, and what neither parent pointed out to me, was that the two-lane highway was in rural Ohio and that cars zipped by at 50 miles an hour. Want to guess how many slammed on the brakes and backed up a few hundred yards so they could buy our lemonade?

None. Our only customer in three days was a nice neighbor who knew we were there and came to a stop in front of our house. My younger brother, who was my partner in the enterprise, got pretty discouraged after the first hour or two. Because I was older and bigger, however, I made him keep at it for two more days.

Truth be told, I didn’t mind our lack of success. First of all, I had all the lemonade to drink I wanted. Second, I always had a book handy and could wile away the quiet hours with one of the Black Beauty stories or Tom Swift and his electric whatever. It didn’t take much to keep me happy in those days.

But during the third day, I finally threw in the towel. I had had enough of my brother’s complaining. Besides, he came up with an alternative idea that made sense to me.

“Why don’t we walk along the highway and pick up all the empty bottles we find,” he suggested. “We can take them to the store in town and collect the deposit on them. Then we can spend it on Coke, candy and comic books.”

Like any brother, Jeff knew all my weaknesses. I wasn’t that crazy about Coke or candy; in fact, I preferred a root beer float. But the chance to purchase a brand-new comic book, and not wait until my monthly haircut to read whatever remnant of a comic book I could find in our neighborhood barbershop, was irresistible.

So we went inside and each took a pillowcase from our bed. Then we started searching the roadside and gutter for castoffs.

You’ll probably be surprised to learn how successful our efforts were. As I recall, we received 2 cents for every small glass bottle we found and a nickel for the larger ones. After a couple of hours of effort, I think we’d each earned a dollar or two. That may not sound like much today, but back in the early 1950s, it was a king’s ransom — or at least enough for several comic books and candy.

The whole experience was a great lesson for us. Our parents made sure we realized there was no such thing in this world as something for nothing. If you wanted something, you had to earn it. As the Lord said in Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made” (NLT).

I wish I saw more examples of today’s youngsters working as hard for their spending money as we did a generation or two ago. Kids today take their $100 sneakers and jeans for granted as well as their $200 electronic gizmos.

Would they actually be better off if they had to trudge down the highway, picking up empty soda and beer bottles to earn a few extra dollars? You tell me.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

 

Did The U.S. Sanction Murder?

An awful lot of readers will be angry at some of the things I have to say today. So before the shouting begins, let me tell you where I’m coming from, as the kids like to say.

I was raised with a profound respect for the fact that we are a nation of laws, not men: That “no one is above the law,” that a jury of our peers will decide our guilt or innocence, that we are guaranteed the right to face our accusers, that “our home is our castle” and that we will be protected in our persons and our property.

Does that sound like the America you were taught to love and revere when you were young?

It is promises like these that made our country the inspiration of the world. They are some of the reasons we became the wealthiest nation this planet has ever seen. Even the poorest among us lived better than the majority of citizens in other countries. No wonder people dreamed of becoming Americans — so many, in fact, that we had to establish a lottery to decide who could get in.

Yes, the United States of America that you and I were born into was a very special place. We knew it and were profoundly grateful for it. We gave thanks that we were lucky enough to be born here, because we knew that no other place on earth enjoyed our freedoms, our protections and our prosperity.

So what on earth happened?

Or maybe a better question is; what have we allowed our government to do to these cherished principles?

The God of the Old Testament asked His people to give 10 percent of all they earned to Him and His work. Today, our government takes four times as much from us. In fact, if you add up all of the hidden taxes we pay, the figure is probably closer to 60 percent.

In the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers said one of the reasons for their rebellion against King George is that he had “erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.”

Those brave gentlemen wouldn’t believe how many Swarms of Officers harass us today, or how much of our Substance they consume. Have you flown anywhere lately? How many Transportation Security Administration employees did you see — many of whom were guarding hallways no one was using.

Pity you if you ever do fall afoul of some Federal bureaucrat. Our government has created so many rules and regulations and has so many agents and inspectors to enforce them, there is no way on earth you can obey them all. If they want to get you for something, they can. And worst of all, in many cases you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

We have gone from what was once “the land of the free and the home of the brave” to what is rapidly becoming the land of the cowed and the cowardly. Untold millions of our countrymen (some legal, some not) feed at the public trough — and get angry at us producers if we suggest cutting back their goodies by even a penny.

All of that is bad enough. But now our government has decided that it is above the law. That it can listen in on any conversation it wishes; open any mail; snoop on any citizen any time and any where; accuse us of all sorts of crimes and misdemeanors; and incarcerate us at will.

Oh, and murder anyone it says deserves it.

You think I’m exaggerating? Please consider for a moment the fate of one Anwar al-Awlaki. I won’t disagree that this demented jihadist was one of the bad guys. I’ll even grant that this renegade U.S. citizen did all he could to give “aid and comfort” (the Constitutional definition of treason) to our enemies. But so what?

As far as I know, he was never accused of a crime by any legal authority in this country or abroad. Not only did he never get a chance to face his accusers, there was never a trial or even a hearing by any court, military or civilian.

Yet the President of the United States ordered his death. And an unmanned drone, armed with a Hellfire missile, carried out the execution.

And what an interesting outcry that has produced! Ron Paul probably did his candidacy for the White House no favors when he said that it would be “sad” if “the American people accept this blindly and casually.”

The ACLU — an organization that I have never voluntarily gotten in bed with — declared:

“[T]his is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney praised the Obama Administration for the attack, then added that Obama owes George Bush an apology for his criticism of the Bush Administration’s actions against suspected terrorists.

But the nastiest assault on the libertarian position came from the editors of The Wall Street Journal, who promptly denounced what they called “the caviling” over Awlaki’s death. After a lengthy introduction explaining why such anonymous executions are “manifestly legal,” the Journal concluded:

“For ridding the world of the menace that was Awlaki — even while ignoring the advice of some of its ideological friends — the Administration deserves congratulations and thanks.”

I’m sorry, but this is not the America I grew up in. And it is not the America I want to see my children and my children’s children inherit.

I’m not saying we’ve never done anything wrong in the past. Abraham Lincoln suspended the U.S. Constitution for anyone he considered any enemy of the State, whether Northerner or Southerner. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in one of the most shameful moments of a Presidency that did our nation much harm, ordered 110,000 Japanese Americans to be rounded up at gunpoint and herded into concentration camps. During my lifetime, legal authorities in the South often conspired to break the law to deny black citizens their civil rights, and even encouraged (or at the very least did not stop) mob violence.

All of this was bad. And like most Americans who give any of it a moment’s thought, I regret it happened.

I feel the same way today about the frightening growth in the cost, the power, and the wicked aggressiveness of our national government. Nobody’s called me an enemy of the State… yet. But I’m worried that that day may not be far off.

When they come for us conservative opponents, how many on the left do you think will rush to our defense? Heck, how many of our colleagues on the right will be what I used to call “foxhole buddies”?

I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming more and more frightened by more and more of the actions of our government. As I said, this isn’t the America I knew and revered. How about you?

Until the next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

A Curmudgeon Retires

*So long, Andy. Thanks for the memories. Last Sunday marked the end of an era. Andy Rooney, everybody’s favorite caring curmudgeon, delivered his last essay on 60 Minutes. It was a dandy, too — as was the interview with him earlier in the show. Even though Andy was a tad more liberal than I am (okay, a lot more liberal), you’ve got to admire someone who was clever, amusing, entertaining and often spot on for 1,097 broadcasts covering 33 years. I salute you, Andy. And I’ll honor your final request — to leave you alone if I ever see you in a restaurant.

*The left stretches to smear Perry. I was concerned that many readers might interpret my Straight Talk column last Friday as a plug for Rick Perry. (Click here if you didn’t see it.) I’ve said repeatedly that I’ve got some concerns about the swashbuckling governor of Texas. But he’s sure making the right enemies. The latest example is the despicable smear of the man and his father because of a hateful word that had been painted on a rock at a camp they bought in the early 80s. Rick’s dad promptly had the offensive word (a derivation of the “N” word) painted over. Still, Perry is getting smeared for it now, 28 innocent years later.

*Justice Department pays $16 for a muffin. And $8 for a cup of coffee. Yes, the boys and girls who want to tell us how to live our lives and enforce our laws sure do like to spend our money. A report from the department’s Inspector General said the agency spent $4,200 for 250 muffins at a conference at the Capital Hilton in 2009. At an “Amber Alert” meeting in 2007 at the Grand Hyatt in Denver, they paid $7,430 for 1,334 cans of soda. That’s a staggering $5.57 each. Had they walked to the shop on the corner, they could have gotten them for about $1 each.

*An Obamacare “glitch” will cost us $50 billion a year. But forget sodas and coffee for the folks at the Justice Department. For the really big bucks, look to the really big government programs. A report from the Employment Policies Institute reveals that cost estimates of Obamacare neglected to include the expenses of covering employees’ spouses and children. This “oversight” by the administration will cost thee and me $500 billion over the next 10 years. Now, that hurts.

–Chip Wood