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An Opportunity to Help Senior Pet Owners and Their Companions

December 29th, 2008 by Halli

Thanks to Andi Elliott, president of the Humane Society of the Upper Valley, charitable pet lovers in the area can help sponsor pets belonging to senior citizens, as well as special needs pets.

Many seniors are on fixed incomes and especially in difficult financial times may struggle to feed and care for their pets. In many cases, they have rescued these pets.

And some pets currently in foster homes have special health needs or circumstances that prevent them from being adopted. This stresses the resources of their foster “parents”.

Both situations can be addressed with tax-deductible donations to For the Love of Pets, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Humane Society of the Upper Valley.

Donations can be directed to the vet or distributed using vouchers for pet food, depending upon the need. Both one-time donations and monthly contributions are greatly appreciated. Visit the website for contact information.

Please consider financial support of this worthy cause!

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Posted in Family Matters, General, Idaho Falls Issues, Taxes | No Comments »

Guest Post: A New Age of Reason in America

December 27th, 2008 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Even casually perusing mainstream media sources these days creates the impression that the country is suddenly emerging from a cultural and political cave of Medieval proportions into a new era of reason and enlightenment. For many, it’s obvious that their newfound zeal and love of the American way hinges on an illogical presumption that moving the country to the left is somehow more reasoned and enlightened. To others, the nomination of a scholarly Energy Secretary is sufficient for a presumption of a more reasoned and rational national political culture.

Whatever the sources of such patriotic resurgence, we can only hope that there is somehow a more reasonable and logical climate for us to function socially in, regardless of what’s happening politically in Washington.

As seemingly pervasive as this perception is in media across the fruited plain, we can only hope that some of the irrational, fallacious, and spurious trends of recent years will likewise fade away with the advent of the new age of renaissance in America.

Perhaps the dawning of a new age of reason will curtail the idiotic notion that the government is forcing religion on people because (gasp!) the Ten Commandments are posted on government property. Our newly enlightened citizenry will appropriately realize that the Decalogue serves as a founding codex of cultural mores for Western civilization much as the Code of Hammurabi did for Eastern civilization.

Perhaps the illuminati of American culture will come to the realization that Christians have as much right to be heard in the public square as those who fervently preach their godless secular religions of man-made global warming, atheism, and paleontologically bereft evolution. Since each of these belief systems are founded in faith which fills in the gaps that science can’t explain, all such expressions of faith will now be heralded as acceptable, tolerable, and welcome contributors to the American social fabric.

We will likewise universally realize that non-profit organizations, even if they’re (gasp!) churches, have a right to exist, and continue their efforts in serving the temporal, social, and yes, spiritual needs of their parishioners. Much to the chagrin of our more “erudite” fellow citizens, the President Elect has indicated a desire to maintain the faith-based services initiated by President Bush. But now, in this atmosphere of increased enlightenment, it will be acceptable because it’s suddenly more reasonable for organizations with genuine interest in their fellow beings to provide tax-free and subsidized service for those less advantaged amongst us.

A new age of enlightenment will allow us to actually call Christmas, “Christmas,” instead of the more generic, and politically correct “Holidays,” or “Winter Solstice.” There is a freedom in being more reason based, because it means I don’t have to be offended by a Menorah in Manhattan, or the chimes signaling morning and evening prayers for Muslims in Boston. Likewise, atheists and agnostics will suddenly choose to no longer be offended by crosses on hillsides across the country, and nativity scenes in (gasp!) public places. Our collective reason-based epiphany grants us immediate recognition of the fact that each of us can maturely choose to not be offended at everything in society that cuts across our grain. We can actually rejoice in our diversity, and not just a “politically correct” version that disallows Christians and Jews the same freedoms and liberties that social secularists embrace.

This new age of enlightenment will allow children to actually sing traditional Christmas Carols at Christmas time. They won’t have to sing nondescript, theologically neutered songs that avoid any reference to the primary reason for our celebration of this season. As the central figure in the belief system of the Deists founding this nation, and nearly 80% of Americans today, it will finally be acceptable again to mention the name of Jesus Christ, and acknowledge this season as the time we celebrate his birth.

Further, educators and government employees will suddenly discover they can have a backbone in standing up to those few who actually do force their beliefs on the rest of society. They won’t be like the school administrators in North Carolina who banned even the singing of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer since it had the word “Christmas” in it, because one parent complained.

The more I think about it, the more I like this American renaissance of reason, universal tolerance, and genuine multiculturalism. Those who have been forced into hiding because of religious beliefs can emerge now absent the fear of being defamed and derided. And we can go into stores and have the employees actually say “Merry Christmas.” What a wonderful time for the nation!

Although there is no logical reason to presume this new reasoned era will spawn the attitudes I’ve mentioned, there’s no reason why it can’t happen. It all comes down to us individually and our commitment to true classical liberalism. If we collectively realize the relationship between our inalienable rights and our moral obligations to one another in defense of those rights, this nation can rise like a phoenix from the ashes of 20th century obsession with political correctness, and become again, the kind of nation envisioned by the founders and our forebears.

In that spirit, I extend my warmest Christmas wishes for much happiness, love, and joy, regardless of religious or political orientation.

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Posted in Guest Posts | No Comments »

Guest Post: “Mixed Reviews” for Thayn’s Proposal Come from Government-funded Early Ed Proponents

December 22nd, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

The Idaho Press Tribune did a story on Rep. Steven Thayn’s proposal to strengthen the parent-child relationship and save taxpayer dollars by paying parents who bring their kids to first grade ready to learn.

Thayn’s proposal will reduce by one-half the amount of taxpayer resources currently spent to educate kindergarten children.

The “mixed reviews” cited in the IPT hardly come from an objective source: the objections come from the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, which is devoted to taxpayer funding for daycare and education starting at age zero.

According to their mission statement, “Idaho AEYC supports quality early care and education for all children, from birth through age eight, and promotes excellence in early childhood education wherever children grow and learn (emphasis mine).”

The AEYC’s executive director is quite specific about this. “[T]he most important years for learning development is between birth and three years. So we need to get them involved a lot earlier than kindergarten (emphasis mine).”

The bottom line here is that the AEYC sees parents as little more than breeders, who should, in a perfect world, surrender their children to the state as soon as they are born for care and education.

The AEYC’s objection to Thayn’s proposal rests on what amounts to an insult of many Idaho parents. “We totally believe that kids learning at home with parents is a good thing, but parents don’t always have the information they need to provide the best learning environment for kids (emphasis mine).”

What is becoming evident is that there is an anti-parent, anti-family bias present in most objections to Thayn’s plan. It would be one thing if taxpayer-funded early education proved clearly superior to what parents at home do, but not only do early education benefits virtually disappear by the end of third grade, Stanford and Berkeley researchers reported that the more time pre-K kids spend in daycare settings, the more stunted their emotional development is, and the more behavioral problems they display in elementary school.

The idea of parents breeding children and then turning them over to the state to raise is hardly original – in fact, it was central to Plato’s Republic. But it was a bad idea then and it’s a bad idea now, not to mention a horribly expensive and ineffective one.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature | No Comments »

Guest Post: Idaho Schools Not Exempt from Female Predators

December 22nd, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

There have been any number of stories in the Idaho media over the last several years revealing sexual molestation incidents involving teachers and students, a significant percentage of them involving adult women taking sexual advantage of vulnerable teenagers.

The Statesman reported on a local incident, which is a tragedy on many levels. Not only will the teenage victim of the sexual advances of this older woman have to deal with the lifelong impacts of the abuse on his own psyche, this event will devastate the woman’s family, which includes children and a husband and father who is an administrator in a Boise area junior high school.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education says are that 40 percent of sex offenses in American schools involve adult females taking sexual advantage of adolescents, whether male or female.

Despite the high visibility given to sexual abuse cases in the Roman Catholic Church, that problem absolutely pales in comparison to the sexual destruction taking place in public schools.

While almost 11,000 young people were sexually mistreated by priests between 1950 and 2002, roughly 290,000 – 290,000! – students experienced some form of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee in the decade of the 1990’s alone.

If we do the math, and 40% of such perpetrators are women, more than 11,000 instances of women abusing students take place every year in America’s public schools, more in just one year than the total amount reported in 50 years of Catholic priest abuse.

Adolescent males simply aren’t ready for the emotional complexities of these sexual relationships, and it does great damage to them in the long run. Says one therapist who has counseled many victims, males who are taken advantage of by an adult female suffer the following lasting effects: “[T]hey don’t trust people, they have trouble forming intimate relationships, they often feel used, exploited, dirty, ashamed. And that often leads to dysfunction in other areas – drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and particularly the inability to have intimate relationships.”

Another leading expert says, “Many sexually abused boys grow up distrustful, considering people dishonest, malevolent and undependable. They often become frightened of emotional connection and isolate themselves.”

Perhaps it’s time we put the Ten Commandments back up on school house walls, and remind teachers and students alike that sex is a sacred thing and is to be reserved exclusively for marriage, and that the command “You shall not commit adultery” is not Victorian prudishness but something that protects sexual innocence, the integrity of the family, and the reputations of everybody.

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Posted in Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts | No Comments »

Guest Post: Illinois’ Corrupt Governor has Long Carried Water for Abortionist

December 20th, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

The shameless governor of Illinois, “Hot Rod” Blagojevich, has long been a paid agent of Planned Parenthood. Long before he put a U.S. Senate seat on the auction bloc, Blagojevich was happily taking abortion money to impose their agenda on the families of Illinois.

Three years ago, Gov. Blagojevich issued an Executive Order requiring pharmacists to fill prescriptions for abortion –causing drugs or face a loss of license. This rough shod treatment of medical professionals in Illinois is just what Planned Parenthood would impose on the nation.

Pharmacists in that state filed a lawsuit, insisting that they had the same rights of conscience as medical doctors. That lawsuit has been working its way through the state court system for the past two years.

On Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an order reversing the actions of lower courts. Two previous courts found that the pharmacists’ claims did not even merit a hearing; the Supreme Court found that holding to be rubbish.

Planned Parenthood issued a statement affirming their firm belief that the courts would eventually uphold their agenda, despite a wealth of legal precedent supporting the right of medical professionals to refuse to participate in abortions as a matter of conscience.

This battle is an important front in the larger, national battle to protect the rights of medical professionals who still take the Hippocratic Oath at its plain meaning.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

Guest Post: Washington State Nativity Scene has Idaho Roots

December 19th, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

You are well aware by now of the way in which Washington governor Christine Gregoire has bollixed up the issue of holiday displays in her state capitol building. After first saying she had to put up an atheist statement next to the Nativity scene because she was compelled by freedom of speech requirements to do so, she has subsequently forbidden any additional free speech displays of any kind.

What is less well known is that the Nativity scene that started all this ruckus was crafted by a former Idaho legislator, whose son serves today in the Idaho House of Representatives.

Dieter Bayer built the manger itself and a friend donated the figurines.

(His son, Cliff, represents District 21 in the Idaho legislature. Cliff has been a consistent and principled advocate for fiscal and social conservatism, and along with Sen. Russ Fulcher engineered last year’s increase in the grocery tax credit, which, when fully implemented, will represent the largest tax cut in the history of Idaho.)

Freedom of religion is important to Dieter because of his own history. He was born in Nazi Germany in 1934 and was enrolled, as all German boys were, as a cub scout in the Hitler Youth. (The following is summarized from the ADF story which you can read in full by clicking on the link that follows this segment.)

But even as a child, he heard Germans speaking of America and talking about its freedoms.

Dieter barely survived World War II (three siblings died of malnutrition), and had to dodge the Allied bombs that fell on his home city of Dresden.

He also remembers, as a boy, learning of the German government’s determination to dominate religion. His father told him that “They (churches) do what the government wants them to do.” (Two of Hitler’s propaganda slogans: “Politics do not belong in the church,” and “The church must be kept separate from the state.”)

He finally slipped through the Iron Curtain in 1962 and made his way to America, where he became a citizen and eventually moved to Idaho.

When they lived for a time in California, the death of the unborn child his wife Regina was carrying sealed their commitment to the pro-life movement. The baby was killed by a drunk driver, but when the Bayers filed a wrongful death lawsuit, the California Supreme Court ruled that the baby wasn’t a person, even though state law required a burial for a child who had been in the womb for more than five months.

Says Dieter, “I asked them what I was burying. They didn’t answer me.”

After they made their way to Idaho, Dieter was elected to the state legislature in 1984. Because of his outspoken conservative values, he soon became the target of hate mail (“We know where your kids go to school”) and was defeated through a concerted effort of his political foes, which included Planned Parenthood and the teachers’ union.

But he was introduced to Christ during his initial campaign, and soon learned that, “If you take Christ out of a nation, you have nothing left but a skeleton.”

This discovery ultimately led him, after a move to Washington State, to build the manger scene which is now in the state capitol, a manger scene which he was able to place in the Washington state capitol thanks to a legal victory won by the Alliance Defense Fund.

By way of warning, he says, “The controls our government is now placing on our churches here are reminiscent of ’state-run’ churches in Communist countries. We must, once again, free up the mouths of our churches to preach the Word as God gives it, without fear of retaliation.”

He concludes, “We need to repent, as individuals, and as a nation. We must come back to constitutional principles. We have to reverse this trend we are on, this godless way of living that is being encouraged by certain organizations. If America falls, then the rest of the world will fall in darkness. America is the last hope.”

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts | No Comments »

Guest Post: A Suggestion for Superintendent Luna and the State Board of Education

December 17th, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

The education budget, thanks to the foresight of former Gov. Jim Risch, has a rainy day fund of $114 million. This will cushion the blow of a slumping economy to Idaho’s education budget for this fiscal year.

But state superintendent Tom Luna is candidly admitting that schools will get less money next year, and will have to trim their sails to accommodate reduced revenue.

A little known provision in the state constitution might provide a way forward. The constitution requires the state to provide a “general, uniform, and thorough” system of public education (emphasis mine).

“Uniform” means “unchanging, consistent, unvarying in design.” The state is required to offer the same education everywhere to all students, no more, no less.

Quite simply, the state has no constitutional obligation to offer electives, music programs, theater programs or athletic programs.

While the idea is a radical one, and will generate howls of outrage from predictable quarters, huge educational savings could be anticipated almost immediately, particularly at the secondary level, as the state decided what exactly a “uniform” education would look like, and then made sure that every student got that education.

Once it ensures that every student has access to that “uniform” education, the state’s statutory job will have been satisfied. It is not obligated to do more.

The money saved by trimming the system back to its constitutional parameters could then be returned to Idaho families so they can pursue the extra-curricular activities of choice for their children.

What students pursue beyond that “uniform” education, whether in the arts or athletics, would be up to parents and students to decide.

Many parents – as we did – pay for private music lessons for our children. My son also participated in Y-ball, Optimist football, Little League, AAU basketball, and American Legion baseball, none of which were funded by schools with taxpayer dollars. (In fact, his Legion teams played teams from Canada where there are no high school baseball programs. The Legion program provided a suitable alternative.) Athletic programs certainly add pizzazz and school spirit, but are very expensive and nowhere required by the state constitution.

Education consumes by far the greatest percentage of the state budget. If the state is going to cut spending sufficiently to weather the downturn, cuts in education are going to have to be found. Taking a cue from the constitution might show us one way to do it.

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Posted in Education, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature | No Comments »

Guest Post: Kudos to Governor Otter for Fiscal Restraint

December 17th, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

Although the drumbeat for higher fuel taxes or registration fees are likely to continue to come from the governor’s office, Gov. Otter is to be commended for proactively directing state agencies to make budget cuts to accommodate lower tax revenues.

He is directing state agencies to prioritize programs for fiscal year 2010 so they can slash a total of $169 million from their budgets. This is on top of the $130 million he has directed them to trim from budgets for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Bizarrely, of the 36 states facing deficits, 22 of them are increasing spending anyway, simply digging themselves into deeper holes. New York’s governor is proposing a staggering 88 separate tax increases, affecting everything from iPods to soft drinks to health spas, which will only drive New Yorkers to New Jersey to purchase the same products for less money, and in the end only increase New York’s money woes.

We can be grateful that Idaho’s governor has chosen to do his constitutional duty and pursue the path of fiscal restraint instead.

The governor directed agencies to work on “eliminating entire programs if they are not in furtherance of or required by your statutory mission.”

There are two important observations to make here. The first is that this review is long overdue. Most Idaho taxpayers will be asking themselves why state agencies are spending money not “required by their statutory mission” in the first place, and the directive represents a candid admission by the governor’s office that even in Idaho government has grown in places beyond its proper boundaries.

The second thing is that cuts in government spending can in fact be made if there is sufficient urgency. This has relevance to the governor’s insistence that Idaho needs to spend an additional $240 million a year on transportation needs. Thus far he has suggested only increases in taxes and fees to find that money.

But increasing taxes raises costs to consumers, and elementary economics tells us that if you raise the cost of anything, you reduce consumption. In other words, the surest way to get consumers to spend less money on fuel is to increase its cost, which raising the fuel tax will do. Reducing consumption will of course then reduce revenue generated from fuel taxes.

(As an example of this dynamic, New York’s governor is proposing a draconian 18 percent “obesity” tax on soft drinks explicitly for the purpose of reducing consumption.)

Feature articles in today’s Statesman make precisely that same point. The spike in gasoline prices to $4 a gallon this summer has resulted in fairly dramatic reductions in gasoline purchases as Idahoans modify their driving habits. As the cost of fuel comes down, purchases will inch back up. In other words, if you want to generate more fuel tax revenue, the surest way to do it is to make gasoline less expensive through lowering the tax rather than making it more expensive by raising it.

The governor’s directives to state agencies will almost immediately reduce state spending by $130 million in order to meet the state’s constitutional requirement that the budget be balanced.

Why could not that same approach be used to free up additional dollars for transportation? In other words, if dollars are scarce, money has to be reallocated and spent where it is most needed. Families do this all the time, and as the governor’s recent actions show, government can do it too when it has to.

It admittedly will be difficult to find an additional $240 million in spending reductions in other parts of the state budget, but if $130 million can already be found this year, and $169 million next year, what logical reason is there to believe that another $240 million cannot be found? All that is required is sufficient will and motivation.

I believe most Idahoans are sympathetic to the need for the state to invest more in infrastructure. A well-functioning transportation system benefits all residents, whether they use roads to deliver product or take their kids to soccer practice. But they also would prefer the state to transfer funds from one government pocket to another rather than stick its hands deeper into their pockets.

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Posted in Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature | No Comments »

Guest Post: Kansas Legal System Brought to Chaos by Abortion Lobby

December 17th, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

Aided and abetted by Governor Sebelius and a corrupted state Supreme Court, the criminal prosecution of abortionist George Tiller and his pals at Planned Parenthood seems to be moving further away from justice.

In a press release dated yesterday, Operation Rescue informs the pro-Life community that defense attorneys for George Tiller have filed a motion to obtain all the records Prosecutor Phill Kline is using to prosecuting Planned Parenthood. The move confirms suspicions that the abortion allies are working closely together to beat their respective criminal charges – even though the cases are completely separate.

Planned Parenthood has been charged with a criminal complaint totaling 107 charges by Prosecuting Attorney Phill Kline.George

Tiller has been charged with some 30 misdemeanor counts by the Attorney General’s office.

This case is currently on hold until next month.Both defendants have been aggressive about putting Phill Kline on public trial, rather than defending themselves on the substance of the charges. In this, they have been abetted by a corrupted Supreme Court.

“The legal wrangling in these two abortion cases is unlike anything we have ever seen before,” said Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman. “It’s almost like the prosecutor is the one on trial, not the law-breaking abortionists.”

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

Guest Post: Homeschooling, Parental Rights, and Government Intervention

December 15th, 2008 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

There seems to be a steady trend toward increasing the power of government at the cost of individual liberties. This is not just evident nationally but a trend observable at the statewide and local level as well, and was on display at a School Board meeting last week.

Journal coverage of that meeting reported that Rep. Donna Boe is concerned by the fact that Idaho protects the right of parents to educate their children at home without interference from the state. As it stands currently, there is no state law granting authority to local school districts or to the State Department of Education to provide oversight or to regulate homeschooling, even though other neighboring states have imposed such regulation. California law goes so far to make it a crime to home teach children if the parents are not certified educators.

Patti Mortenson, Director of Elementary Education for District 25, proposed adding a definition for “educational neglect” to Idaho law. That’s very strident language. Could something like this open the way for Child Protective Services and the courts to start forcing their way into the homes of children being taught by their parents? Could it open the way for the state to take children away from parents if their home schooling efforts are subjectively deemed inadequate? While the intent may be noble, the law of unintended consequences could produce significant ignoble side effects.

According to the Journal article, Boe’s concern was to provide a “safety net” for children who may be receiving an inadequate education at home. But I can’t help wonder if the attention should be more on a safety net for our children working their way through our public schools instead.

Neither Boe nor Mortenseon returned my call in my effort to clarify their intent.

I can’t help but suspect the issue is not really about academic aptitude. Idaho children who are home schooled traditionally score in the 82-84 percentile range on the Iowa Tests, according to the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators. Back when Idaho’s public school students took the same tests, they hovered in the 54 percentile level.

In light of that fact, it’s difficult to believe that Rep. Boe’s concern is for the children themselves. They seem to be doing statistically much better than their publically educated counterparts. Perhaps it’s more of a budgetary issue, since for every child being taught at home, the district loses anywhere from $5,500 to $8,000 in funding. Rep. Boe indicated there are about 13,000 home-taught children in Idaho. How many of those are in Pocatello is anyone’s guess.

The fundamental doctrine this manner of thinking is based on is the superiority of the “state,” whether it’s federal, state or local government entities. The “state” is somehow more competent and has a greater aptitude in providing for the welfare of our children, according to this doctrine. The continuing encroachment of government into private lives is symptomatic of this notion, and will undoubtedly be increasing at an accelerated pace over the next few years. But the premise that the “state” somehow knows what’s best for our children over loving, nurturing parents is problematic.

Adding the language “educational neglect” to Idaho Code could be a Pandora’s Box, for it’s statistically much more likely to occur at the public education level than it is at home. I’m not sure that’s a box they would want opened.

Rather than take the pernicious sounding “educational neglect” route, it seems more logical to simply have parents inform the local school district that their children are being taught at home. That way the local district knows where the kids are and can offer assistance and materials, if so desired.

This country was founded on principles of individual liberty and freedom. Each time the government regulates, some of that liberty is eroded. While it seems draconian to think a child could be removed from his home because he failed his math test after being homeschooled, the door is certainly nudged open with a charge of “educational neglect.” If language is added to Idaho Code to that effect, could not the state be charged with the same? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

We’re getting to the point where government is telling us what kind of speech we can engage in (politically correct), what kind of thoughts we can and can’t harbor (“hate”), how much energy we can consume (carbon footprint), talking about imposing a tax on “excessive” energy consumption (carbon tax), regulating what we eat (no restaurants using trans fats), whether we really have a second amendment (DC gun ban), even what kind of light bulbs we can and can’t use (illegal 100w incandescent), and attempting to force Judeo-Christian influences out of the public square, etc. ad nauseam.

Intent behind such regulation is probably meritorious, but the net effect of diminished individual freedom is not. The encroachment on personal liberty is accelerating, and at some point, we must collectively stand up and say “enough.” Seems to me, this is a good starting point.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature | No Comments »

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