Saturday, September 23, 2017

Who's Your Bully?

President Trump is under fire for stating that he believes that professional athletes, particularly NFL players, are being disrespectful of their country with their National Anthem protests. He even took it further, suggesting that NFL owners fire these ungrateful miscreants. Although they have the right to free speech and can express their displeasure with any perceived slights they believe are afflicting Americans of color, the fact remains that President Trump is correct in his view. Athletes that have the skills necessary to perform on the public stage and earn a considerable amount of money for doing so, have to keep in mind that, although Charles Barkley may disagree, they are examples for those that pay to watch them, particularly young people, who can be unduly influenced by their actions. So, back to the question at hand, who is the bully? President Trump who speaks his mind and has an opinion, shared by a majority of citizens of these United States, or athletes that use the public stage to promote a reality that, truly, no longer exists?

Over the last 8 years we were exposed to President’s Obama’s opinion of unequal race relations in this country. From the Cambridge police officers questioning a black professor attempting to break into his home without the requisite identification on his person that were deemed to be “acting stupidly” by our commander in chief to his divisive comments about the police after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and his suggesting that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. Personally, I believe that President Obama’s outspoken criticism of the police has driven the spike in violence against police officers including the shooting deaths of 5 Dallas officers and any number of police that have been ambushed by persons of color that somehow believe that every white police officer begins his tour of duty with the intent to kill as many persons of color that he can. President Obama’s views on racial inequities could not be further from the truth.

Having been a police officer for 29 years, I think I have a clearer understanding of how law enforcement in conducted. Every time force of any nature is used by a law enforcement officer it is thoroughly investigated. Any use of deadly force is referred to the District Attorney’s office and if the officer is deemed to have used an unlawful level of force, he/she will be subjected to the appropriate criminal charges and the courts will prosecute. Video recorders on squad cars and on the police themselves, document almost all of the police interactions with citizens, to be used as evidence against the perpetrator, even if it is the police officer. Records of police interactions with minorities are monitored by the Justice Department and any agency with an inordinate number of contacts with minorities will have action taken against them. After Ferguson, out of 17,985 US law enforcement agencies, only 21 departments, including St. Louis and Ferguson, were under investigation by the DOJ due to civil rights complaints, amounting to just over .001% of all police agencies in the country.

Have all racial biases been erased? Not all, but claims that minorities somehow are being targeted by police has no factual basis. Take the incident involving Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett and the Las Vegas Police. Police responded to a shooting in progress. Everyone in the casino was ordered to lay down on the floor with their hands in front of them. Bennett decided to hide and not comply with the officers. He then thought it appropriate to try to flee on foot. I’m sorry, but he is extremely lucky that the officers had the prudence to refrain from assuming that he was the bad guy by shooting him and eliminating the threat he presented to them and the public. Now he has the temerity to complain and threaten a civil rights lawsuit. Talk about the world turning upside down. Then you have Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors vacillating about not attending a white house visit because he doesn’t like President Trump. President Trump says fine, then I’m rescinding your invitation and the left and media (I repeat myself here) goes on another “hair on fire” rampage. Now the whole team will not attend. Great, that will open up the calendar for President Trump so that he can continue to advance the people’s agenda.

For many, sports are an avenue to escape from the harsh realities of this out of control world. If I want to listen to politics, I will tune in to Fox News, CNN or any other news channel. I don’t need to be lectured to by any celebrity, including athletes, that don’t have the intelligence or can’t or won’t properly inform themselves. (See LeBron James, Leonardo DeCaprio, etc….) I think we can look no further than NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s response to President Trump. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.” Talk about calling the kettle black. And this is coming from the man presiding over the NFL’s fall from grace! These “protests” by NFL players are simply showing a lack of respect for the country that gives them an opportunity to become rich playing a game. This is the ultimate insult to all those who contribute to the money they make. Even if you do not watch or attend, you are paying, when the cost of items you purchase rise, in part, because of the advertising on the networks that broadcast those events.

Unqualified and erroneous “facts” are repeated over and over by the left and they attack anyone who fails to share their opinions. See illegal immigration, global warming, and especially the University of California, Berkeley and any number of college campuses that will use any means necessary to squelch any conservative speaker with the audaciousness to schedule an appearance at these “so-called” bastions of debate and free exchange of ideas, unless it fits their progressive, liberal agenda. Who is it that is really engaging in hate speech? The real bully is becoming more and more apparent, and he does not live in the White House.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Breach of Contract

Conservatives and libertarians constantly rail about our overreaching Federal government. The founders gave the Federal government strict limits and granted the States wide ranging powers. James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, “It is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects.” In order to place checks and balances on the Federal government, three distinct branches were created, judicial, legislative, and executive. The Founders did not intend for the Federal government to expand and assume the responsibility to dictate how its’ citizens live their lives. The Federal government has overstepped its authority and usurped the freedoms of its citizens to their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by attempting to control decisions better left to those who are most affected by them. Healthcare is not the responsibility of the Federal government. Those who cannot provide for themselves due to disability or economic disparity can fall under the umbrella of a societal safety net. Those who can provide for themselves should be allowed to do so.

After a democrat Congress and President Obama enacted the boondoggle known as the Affordable Care Act, many republicans ran vowing to dismantle Obamacare and won majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Now they have a chance to finally repeal this, regardless that Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion to save it, illegal takeover of 1/6th of our economy and allow government to dictate what we must have in health insurance coverage at, what has become, an unreasonable cost. Obamacare should be repealed and the Federal government should get out of the way.

Employer provided health insurance became a staple of workers benefits during WWII. Employer provided health insurance plans became the norm due to wage controls imposed by the federal government during WWII. There were increasing demands for goods and there was a limited pool of available workers. Federally imposed wage and price controls prohibited employers from raising wages. The War Labor Board declared that sick leave and health insurance, would not count as wages for the purpose of wage controls. Employers responded with offers to provide health care coverage. Over the years, this staple of employee benefits has escalated the cost of health care unreasonably.

The following is a plan to subject the health insurance industry to a free market system and minimize the government’s role in providing health care.

• Increase the amount allowed to be placed into a Health Savings Account to $15,000 per year for families, $8,500 for single.

• Designate the contribution made by the employer to any employer provided health care plan as taxable income. (Democrats have been looking for ways to do this for years.)

• Allow the option for employees to “opt out” of their employer provided health insurance and receive 75% of the employer contribution to health insurance as taxable income. (Those who choose so, can designate this as salary only and will not be required to purchase health insurance, but will also be responsible to make payment to any health care provider if services are required.)

• Allow the option to designate, up to the maximum allowed, of that income to their HSA as non-taxable.

• Allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines, granting consumers the privilege to “shop for the best price and coverage appropriate to their needs and forcing health insurance providers to compete in the marketplace as other insurance (auto, life, property) companies do.

• Remove Medicare and Medicaid from the control of the Federal government, (reduce taxpayer contributions to FICA accordingly) and transfer authority to individual states to manage both programs and have the authority to levy taxes to appropriately fund them. (Most states already provide an alternate plan to augment those programs, ie; Wisconsin has Badger Care.)

I believe that this system would move government out of the way and allow the free market system to determine the appropriate cost for health care. This will also eliminate the escalating premiums that employers have been forced to accept to provide this benefit to employees. This will also allow those who do not want to purchase health care the choice to increase their income that will, in turn, put more of that income into the economy and add to the tax base. Averaging the employer contribution to each full time employee’s family health insurance premium at $1,000 monthly and assuming there are 55,000,000 persons in the US receiving that benefit, an additional $11,000,000,000 would be freed for those businesses to reinvest in their companies, enabling them to expand their businesses and create additional employment opportunities to reinvigorate the economy.

The constitution is a written contract with the citizens of the United States. We did not sign up for this overreaching Federal government that is bloated beyond anything the Founders envisioned. $20 trillion in debt is unacceptable. It is time to downsize the Federal government and let us citizens make our own decisions. Getting out of the way of our health decisions is just a start.