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Richard Larsen: Moral and Financial Relativism

July 28th, 2012 by Halli

By Cris Sheridan and Richard Larsen

One of the indubitable effects of the secularization of our culture and our society is the debasement of our collective moral fabric, our social mores. The absolute and fundamental metrics of values which form the basis of our Judeo-Christian society have steadily eroded, and at an accelerated rate over the past few decades. This erosion of traditional values and standards has long contributed to an emergence of relativism that is profoundly symbolized through the uncertainty of our modern financial and monetary system. Just as moral relativism manifests a disintegration of society’s traditional values, the relativism we see permeating the financial system today portends a decline in the future viability of our global economic system.

The late Alan Bloom, professor of philosophy at Cornell, Yale, and the University of Chicago, wrote some twenty years ago in The Closing of the American Mind, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” If all truth is relative, all morality becomes relative as well, for the elimination of absolute truth claims absolute morality as its first victim.

This moral relativism has coincided predictably with the secularization of our culture. The secular concept that there are no absolute truths has gradually yet effectively eroded our collective value system in such a way as to alter and distort our social value system.

A common interpretation of moral relativism, regardless of the source, is the view that “ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person’s individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves. You decide what’s right for you, and I’ll decide what’s right for me. Moral relativism says, ‘It’s true for me, if I believe it.’” Essentially, nobody is objectively right or wrong. Fixed standards of value don’t exist aside from the changing whims of society and government.
William McGuffey, who authored the McGuffey’s Readers, which were the mainstay of America’s public school system for nearly a century, wrote: “Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.” We observe today with certitude, the veracity of his statement.

Moral relativism weakens our collective cultural conscience. It weakens our ability to identify evil and our resolve to confront it as such. It leads to the perfidious exoneration of individual responsibility and culpability for perpetrators of evil, and seeks blame for such actions in social, parental, and educational failures. It prevents us from recognizing the evil in our midst that threatens our families, our neighborhoods, our culture, and our nation. And if allowed to continue unabated, it perpetuates the continued erosion of our collective value system.

The displacement of absolute standards and values affects other aspects of our lives, as well, perhaps most notably in the world of finance. The financial world today—a world to which we are all connected whether we like it or not—is plagued by a similar erosion of value. Consider money, for example—a symbol of a nation’s willingness to maintain and uphold value through honest weights and measures. Even the word credit, which forms the basis of our modern global financial system, is based on the latin word credere, meaning “to believe.” That is, to believe in the other party to honor their contract and use honest scales.

In what is referred to as the Bretton Woods agreement, the dollar was originally chosen as the world reserve currency for international finance due to America’s reputation and economic integrity. This was done by giving the dollar a fixed and objective value (in terms of gold) upon which all other currencies were priced. In essence, this was the establishment of a monetary “golden rule”: Do unto others as you have them do unto you—a fair and equitable exchange through a common standard of value. With dollars held abroad redeemable for a fixed amount of gold, the exchange of goods internationally was anchored in the certainty of an objective monetary value.

However, over time the U.S. began to print too much money to pay off its growing deficits (hence, many other nations redeeming more gold) and thus, faced with a rapid decline in its gold reserves, broke free from the fixed limitations of the gold standard to allow the unrestricted debasement of monetary value here and abroad.

Regarding that fateful day in 1971, referred to as the “Nixon Shock”, BusinessWeek wrote last year, “Milton Friedman’s prediction that, left to the market, currencies would regulate themselves with only gradual adjustments proved wildly incorrect. The dollar plunged by a third during the ’70s, and currency volatility has threatened several national economies since; in 1997, Asian and Latin American countries were wrecked by currency runs. To this day, [former FED Chief Paul] Volcker regrets that Bretton Woods was abandoned. ‘Nobody’s in charge,’ he says. ‘The Europeans couldn’t live with the uncertainty and made their own currency and now that’s in trouble.’ The effect on America’s domestic economy was even worse.”

All is now relative, particularly among currencies. What this means is that various nations can now set, change, or alter their standard of measurement and value—by inflating the money supply—with much greater flexibility. Steve Forbes was recently asked in an interview: “Don’t we need a flexible money supply?” to which he replied, “That’s like saying that changing the number of minutes in an hour would be a great tool to increase productivity in the economy. Manipulating weights and measures, whether it’s the number of ounces in a pound or minutes in an hour, is a false way to think that you can achieve prosperity. All gold does is serve as a yardstick to measure the value of your currency.”

With the yardstick removed—or constantly changing in size—there is no fundamental basis for value. This highly unstable system is continually managed, however, as governments attempt to control the fluctuation of their currencies by intervening in the foreign exchange market and buying or selling the currencies of other nations. In lieu of the new reality, BusinessWeek stated, “Floating currencies unleashed a new world of risk and instability. For the first time, investors could bet on the direction of interest rates or the Swiss franc. New financial instruments, new speculative tools, proliferated. The world gravitated from the certainties of Bretton Woods to the dizzying market cycles we’ve lived with since.”

As mentioned, the financial system has adapted by developing increasingly complex financial instruments—options, swaps, derivatives—to either eliminate or capture the massive volatility coursing through the markets. Rather than promote long-term stability and investment, massive amounts of capital are now redirected towards hedging and speculation.

For example, the VIX is an index that measures the level of volatility in the market. Through exchange traded funds, you can go long, short, double long or double short volatility. That is, one can invest or speculate on volatility for volatility’s sake! Reminds me of a saying: “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” (Oh, by the way, there’s an option for that too. It’s called a “weather derivative.”)

Entire financial industries, asset-classes, and hedge funds have now sprung up offering services based not on providing economic value to society, but on one thing alone: volatility. Options, derivatives, futures contracts and high frequency trading of rapid fluctuations in price of various commodities, stocks, or currencies now comprise a massive share of trading volume.

What is the result of all this, you may ask? Chaos. Plain and simple. The global financial system is being tossed to and fro by massive amounts of cheap, electronically created, monopoly money that is constantly in search of the best yield, the most bang for its buck, and a quick fix. By removing the “limitation” of a fixed standard for the unrestricted manipulation of monetary value, governments and central banks are playing God over the financial system with, ironically, trillions of dollars they’ve created speculating on whether they will succeed or fail.

Consequently, relativism dominates not only as a reflection of declining absolute values today, affecting the morality of our culture, but as a chaotic financial sea from which many have seen their entire life-savings wrecked under the crashing waves of speculation. There are ways for the individual investor to partially circumnavigate these troubled relativistic waters, but they are diminishing. Could a return to moral absolutism reverse the financial relativism in the investment world? It’s unlikely, for that ship has long since left the harbor. The only way to turn that ship around would be a return to a monetary “golden rule” like the one abandoned 41 years ago.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Idaho Freedom Foundation Features Judge Napolitano

July 21st, 2012 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Judge Andrew Napolitano gave a rousing talk on Thursday evening at the Idaho Freedom Foundation banquet, challenging his audience to appreciate the threat posed to the Great American Experiment by Obama’s drive to socialize health care.
Not every generation is faced with such a fundamental challenge to personal and social liberty – but this one is, he argued.

The event was attended by many of the more conservative members of the Idaho Legislature, as well as Governor Butch Otter. State Superintendent Tom Luna and Treasurer Ron Crane were also in attendance.

KIDO Radio host Kevin Miller helped MC the dinner. Idaho Falls business leader Frank Vander Sloot was honored at the dinner, giving a lengthy account of his battles with the Administration over his passionate advocacy of Mitt Romney as the alternative to Barack Obama.

The big elephant in the room was the pending decision by Governor Otter and the Idaho Legislature to submit to Obama’s requirement of a state insurance exchange, combined with a massive new expansion of Medicaid. Will the principles of personal liberty and limited government – so eloquently defended at the banquet – be put into action by Otter and the Republican Legislature? We don’t yet know.

Reading the tea leaves causes us great concern. The Governor has appointed three “working groups” to advise him on the issue. All three – including the Leavitt Group, being paid some $100,000 by the taxpayers of Idaho – are decidedly packed in favor of the Insurance/Medical Syndicate which has pressed so hard to create an insurance exchange. It is hard to see how Governor Otter will ignore the advice he has requested.

We will have more to say on this matter as the situation develops. Suffice it to say at this point that pro-Life Idahoans have every reason to be concerned and to be seeking the Lord’s intervention with Butch Otter and other policy makers in Boise.

This organization was a sponsor of the banquet, which may strike readers as odd. But IFF has been a most diligent partner in our fight to stop the implementation of ObamaCare in Idaho. Our reasons for doing so may be somewhat different, but our goal is the same: Protecting the right of Idaho families to make their own health care decisions. In our case, we do so primarily with an eye toward safeguarding the Right to Life, pushing back against the sinister, anti-Life agenda being imposed on Americans by Washington, D.C.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Andi Elliott: Jefferson County Unravels at the Seams

July 20th, 2012 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

Are we witnessing the unraveling of the Jefferson County hierarchy? I read in the paper that our county officials have missed an important legal deadline, of alleged county cell phone misuse, we’ve had a commissioner that doesn’t know that it is inappropriate to have his own private business conduct county business, and there’s the matter of falsified documentation and misuse of power in the Sheriff’s Department. (I am still stunned that our Chief Deputy Poole was fired for running for Sheriff. I hope that he will consider a write-in candidacy this November. )

The Jefferson Star Newspaper has reported that they had to sue the county for the information. Does the county have something to hide? And so why the “missing pages” as reported by the Star? Since the prosecutor’s job is to uphold the law, why would he withhold information that was pertinent unless it was unfavorable to their side, or to protect the Sheriff? I’ve had to deal with the same tactics in my personal cases with the county. A prosecutor is supposed to be neutral. Why the “cover up”?

Thomas Jefferson, the namesake of our county, is quoted as saying, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Obviously, there is disdain for the county electorate and we need to re-establish the pecking order. For too long, we have trusted our officials to act responsibly and ethically and that public trust has been violated. People are taking action and questioning the practices of those in charge and the dissatisfaction amongst the populace is growing louder. Sheriff Olsen received only a bit more than 50% of the vote in the May primary. A wake up call, perhaps?

From personal experience I can honestly say, “Thank God for our First Amendment rights and our media”. When folks are kept in the dark, those in charge can, as the idiomatic expression implies…get away with murder.

Andi Elliott

Tea Party Patriots Idaho State Co-Coordinator
President of For the Love of Pets Foundation

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Politics in General, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: UN Arms Treaty vs Our 2nd Amendment

July 20th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“All countries of the world are coming together in New York to negotiate what is seen as the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations,” according to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). They’re working on a new treaty throughout the month that will provide a framework for regulating, controlling, registering, and tracking all conventional small firearms in the world. If signed by our president, it could be the most direct and overt effort to annul the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, for treaties take supremacy over the Constitution, per Article VI.

In 2006, the UN passed a resolution, “Towards an Arms Trade Treaty,” with a stated objective of establishing “common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.” The rationale was that terrorism and gang violence could be thwarted by establishing international standards regulating small-arms proliferation.

The Bush administration did not support the 2006 resolution, maintaining that each nation is best in a position to monitor and regulate arms sales rather than a one-size-fits-all approach assumed by the UN. But in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated the U.S. was no longer opposed to such an arms treaty, and in 2010, President Obama reversed the Bush administration objection to the earlier version.

Timing of this incarnation of a small arms treaty has been accelerated by the UN in hopes it can be signed by our current president and ratified by the senate before the November election, which could significantly alter the outlook for U.S. participation.

The UNODA has published a document titled, “Disarmament: A Basic Guide,” which lays out for the public the concerns regarding small arms. On page 68, we read, “Counting such weapons is difficult, as the majority are owned by civiliansThe trade in small arms is not well regulated and is the least transparent of all weapons systems. Due to the lack of regulation and controls, in many countries it is too easy for small arms to slip from the legal into the illicit market—through theft, leakage, corruption or pilferage.” On the next page we read, “Ammunition should be a key part of any discussion on small arms control.”

The UN clearly intends to address legal gun ownership within member states along with the trade of small arms. One of their many research and statement pieces on the UNODA website, states unequivocally, that arms have been “…misused by lawful owners and recommends that arms trade therefore be regulated in ways that would … minimize the misuse of legally owned weapons.”

Former UN ambassador John Bolton has affirmed this intent, and indicates that the UN “is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there is no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.”

While it’s uncertain what exact terms and provisions will be included in the new Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the archive of documents on the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs website provide ample indications. From their own documents, it’s clear that they want to accomplish the following, as published by Forbes Online last week:

“1. Enact tougher licensing requirements, creating additional bureaucratic red tape for legal firearms ownership.

2. Confiscate and destroy all “unauthorized” civilian firearms.

3. Ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons.

4. Create an international gun registry, clearly setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation.

5. Control distribution and availability of ammunition for small arms.”

The outcome, if adopted by the UN General Assembly, and ratified by the U.S., would result in “Overriding our national sovereignty, and in the process, provide license for the federal government to assert preemptive powers over state regulatory powers guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment in addition to our Second Amendment rights,” according to Forbes.

Not only has the White House indicated support for the ATT, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has vowed to push it through the Senate for ratification. Until now, the administration’s attempts to diminish 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms have been under the radar, except when botched, as in the Fast and Furious gun walking incident which can only be logically explained away as an effort to create a crisis that they would capitalize on to this end.

We’ve seen all too many times how the Obama administration bypasses congress and implements its agenda through executive orders. Don’t be surprised if the White House attempts to circumvent the Senate’s ratification of the treaty altogether, and declares the ATT “in effect” by Executive Order. After all, constitutional limitations on government, and our constitutional rights, are only valid if honored and upheld, something this administration fails at when it conflicts with their agenda.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics, Property Rights, Second Amendment | No Comments »

David Ripley: Kudos to Denney and Moyle

July 13th, 2012 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

At a time of critical challenge to Idaho, it is encouraging to see strong leadership coming from House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Majority Leader Mike Moyle on the question of submitting to Blue Cross and the Obama Administration.

The pair of Republican leaders issued a public statement today arguing that Idaho should not create a state insurance exchange… nor should it allow itself to be enticed into expanding Medicaid. Both of these men deserve high praise for offering strong leadership at a time when many in the Statehouse are looking for a way to accommodate powerful interest groups while retaining their claim to being “fiscal conservatives”.

Moyle raised the question of whether it is better for Idahoans to allow the federal government to implement its own program. One of the advantages of doing so is that more insurance companies would be participants – theoretically offering competition to Blue Cross.

In discussions with legislators this past session, we challenged folks to explain why an expensive and oppressive new bureaucracy was to Idaho’s advantage – since only 3 companies are allowed to sell insurance in the state. They have neatly carved up the market between them, with Blue Cross controlling something like 70% of the market.

Why create a whole new “supermarket” when the only thing for sale in the store is loaves of white bread?

The notion that Idaho businesses and individuals can go on-line to “shop” for insurance deals is fundamentally flawed and, frankly, is no more than intentional deception. There will be no competition under a state insurance exchange. And the size of the bread loaves will be controlled by the Obama Administration.

This points out one of the fundamental problems with ObamaCare.

The major attraction for the Insurance Industry (and hospitals, for that matter) is that the federal government will offer substantial subsidies through the state insurance exchange. Blue Cross will be paid by the U.S. Treasury to provide insurance policies to a whole new segment of the population. And hospitals will have a whole new pot of money to pay for their ever-rising prices.

Under Obama’s scheme to make health care decisions for all of us, Blue Cross will become a quasi-public creature – with a pipeline permanently tapped into the federal treasury. Perhaps a good analogy of the new arrangement would be to compare Blue Cross to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It will look like a “private” company, with all the protections of a private interest – but one operating with huge taxpayer subsidy. (And need we remind anyone of the incredible difficulty Congress has experienced in holding Fannie Mae accountable? Or changing their business practices?)

Like the Fannie Mae model, We the Citizens will become the silent and aggrieved partners. Congressmen and legislators will wring their hands. Citizens will have even less power to protect ourselves from rate hikes. But of greatest concern is our inability to make health care decisions. Those matters will be decided in private meetings between Washington bureaucrats and Blue Cross officials.

Make no mistake: It took tremendous courage for Denney and Moyle to stand up. Hopefully the People of Idaho will rally behind them to push back against Obama’s scheme to control Idaho’s health care.

And let us pray that their example will motivate other political leaders to take a stand in defense of the Constitution.

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

Richard Larsen: What Makes America Different?

July 11th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

At the NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France, in 2009 our president said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

Contrary to what some among us erroneously assume, American exceptionalism is not some obtuse reference to Americans being any better than anyone else in the world. It doesn’t mean that our products are somehow superior, or that we’re any more erudite than the inhabitants of any other country. It simply means that, as a nation, America was exceptional in how it was founded and the precepts upon which it was established are unique and unparalleled in all of human history.

There has never been anything so unique and exceptional in the rising up of a new nation than one being established according to declared inalienable individual and collective rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In an era when monarchs, rulers, autocrats and aristocrats governed according to their whims and disposition based primarily on caste or bloodline, a motley collection of men steeped in classical-liberal principles led a revolution and established a nation dedicated to individual freedom.

Those precepts were the foundation to the Declaration of Independence, which states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” There is nothing more exceptional in human history than those two sentences and the nation that resulted from their utterance: a nation that derived its “just” powers from the “consent of the governed.”

A decade later, a structural document creating the governmental framework by which the tenets articulated in the Declaration of Independence were codified, was ratified by the colonies. That document, our Constitution, stated specifically what our national government would do in no uncertain terms, and whatever powers were not specified or enumerated, were “reserved to the states respectively or to the people.”

That concept of limited governmental power and maximum individual freedom is the embodiment of American exceptionalism and is the reason for our holiday this past week. It is a time for us to reflect on the historical significant of a nation being so founded, intentionally constructed in such a way as to prevent tyrants, despots, and bureaucrats from usurping the authority and power of the people. While we may seem so far removed from those ideals today, the poignant reflection on the historicity of the day should stir something deep within our souls for a return to such principles.

We can also reflect upon, and celebrate the lives and contributions of those who fought and died for those principles. Not just in our revolutionary era, but with each successive generation from that time. None have given more, and sacrificed more, than our men and women in uniform, who have carried high the banner of freedom onto foreign lands to defend life and liberty, and vanquish tyranny.

Those who don the nation’s uniform take an oath of fealty to the Constitution, and that they will defend it against all foes, foreign and domestic. I often reflect how all of us, as citizens, should take a similar oath. For if we did, the abuses of power, usurped and purloined from the citizens, would be so much less likely to occur than we observe on a nearly daily basis in news emanating from our seats of government.

In our reflection of the historical significance of the day, may we catch a glimpse of the fervor that filled the hearts and souls of those earliest of patriots. They were so willing to give all that they had, including their very lives, for the freedom for which they yearned. Yet collectively, we allow that very liberty to be frittered away on a daily basis by ostensibly well-intentioned politicians who, through new legislation, laws, and Acts, limit individual freedom and liberty, and engorge government with ever increasing power to harass, subjugate, and rule over us. With each such law, we become less citizens of a republic based on freedom, and increasingly subjects to an omnipotent and omniscient government.

If we are to truly celebrate Independence Day, let us recommit to those principles for which our forebears struggled that we might enjoy the fruits thereof. Let’s not allow their sacrifices to have been in vain, but let us take up the torch of Lady Liberty, with the fire of freedom burning within our souls, and recommit to those founding doctrines that made America unique and exceptional in all of human history.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues | No Comments »

David Ripley: Perry Refuses to Submit

July 10th, 2012 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced today that his state would not be “going along” with the Roberts Court in massaging the Constitution to accommodate ObamaCare. Despite the dangling “free goodies” offered to the states, Texas will not expand Medicaid and it will not create a state insurance exchange.

This development is critically important to Idaho. Our own governor has said that he will not convene a special session to accommodate the Insurance/Medical Cabal … but otherwise he has been conspicuously quiet about what is being planned for Idaho.

We do know that the “Legislative Health Care Task Force” has announced that it will be meeting later this month (July 30th) to consider the Roberts Edict and push again for a state exchange. This same group already reached that conclusion in early January when it issued a recommendation to the Idaho Legislature urging acceptance of ObamaCare.

Of the 12 members – which, in January, included Sen. John McGee – only Rep. Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls had the courage to say NO. Eleven members voted to help Blue Cross and the Hospital Association by accepting Obama’s vision of a new America. (This is a key reason that we opposed some of these legislators in the May Primary).

The composition of this Task Force is cause for great concern. Four of its members work in the Insurance Industry. Two others are doctors and a third serves on the governing board of a local hospital. The apparent conflict of interest

To make matters worse: five of the members are “lame ducks” who will not be part of the 2013 Legislature. And the 3 Democrat members of the panel have already issued a press release demanding that Idaho submit to their Leader’s plans to take-over the health care sector.

Here is a list of the membership:
Sen. Dean Cameron (co-chair) Rep. Gary Collins (co-chair)
Sen. John Goedde Rep. Sharon Block
Sen. Patti Anne Lodge Rep. Carlos Bilbao
Sen. Tim Corder Rep. Fred Wood, M.D.
Sen. Joyce Broadsword Rep. Janice McGeachin
Sen. Dan Schmidt, M.D. Rep. John Rusche, M.D.
Rep. Elaine Smith

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

Richard Larsen: Surprises in Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare

July 7th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Well, it’s official. It’s now constitutional for politicians to tell huge lies, and not only get away with it, but be rewarded for it. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare this week confirmed what most of us realized all along, that President Obama and congressional supporters of the “Affordable Care Act” lied to the nation, to all of us! They told us that it was not a tax increase, ardently, vehemently, and ad nauseam, yet that’s the very justification the Supreme Court used to rule it constitutional this week.

While debating the Act in congress, proponents claimed constitutional authority for the hostile takeover of the health care industry based on the commerce clause. And when Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued the case in front of the Supreme Court justices, the Act’s constitutionality was based on the commerce clause, not on its merits as a tax.

But the end result is that one of the largest and most regressive tax increases ever, $1.76 trillion over ten years, according to updated figures from the Congressional Budget Office, has been thrust upon the taxpayers, courtesy of Obama and congressional Democrats. In a bizarre twist of irony, it’s their lie that allowed it to be ruled constitutional! And from a constitutional basis, we’re supposed to ignore the fact that as a tax bill, it originated in the Senate, another strike against its constitutionality.
Prior to Obamacare’s passage in 2010, Obama denied it was a tax. In September 2009, Obama told ABC News that the law “is absolutely not a tax increase.” In fact, in nearly every major sales pitches for the Act he would reassert, “for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.”

And he was not alone. All the congressional Democrats sang the same tune. Notably, the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, declared in 2010 that not only was it not a tax increase, but it certainly didn’t violate Obama’s pledge of absolutely no new taxes on the middle class. We all remember him promising in every campaign stop through the 2008 campaign, “I can make a firm pledge – under my plan, no family making less that $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.” Yet, of the 21 taxes included in the Act, nearly half will affect the middle class; the economic stratum that Obama promised no tax increases to.

There is one truly significant aspect to the ruling Thursday that is actually encouraging. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts ruled the “individual mandate,” relative to the commerce clause, was in fact unconstitutional. Roberts wrote, “The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce.

Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do.”

The significance of this aspect of the ruling is nearly as great as upholding of the Act itself. This means there is now judicial precedence limiting congress’ authority to compel American citizens to purchase anything, or to be fined or otherwise punished or regulated for not engaging in certain behavior. They simply cannot mandate citizen behavior under the Commerce Clause. Those of us thinking the entire Act would be ruled unconstitutional because of the mandate were right. Little did we know that it would pass muster based on the taxing authority of congress.

Regrettably the Act is much more than a tax, as it takes complete control of our health care delivery mechanism. Tom Price, a congressman from Georgia and a medical doctor, said on Friday, “We clearly chose in 2008, and we’re now as a nation living under the consequences of that political choice. But as a physician, I can tell you that the doctors and the patients of this land are very troubled. Because this law violates every single principle we hold dear as a nation in health care. Whether it’s accessibility or affordability, or high quality care or choices for patients, this law violates all of those things and makes them more difficult.”
The oxymoronic title of the Act has already proven, in two short years, that it is anything but “affordable,” as premiums and health care costs have skyrocketed in anticipation of full implementation over the next two years. It was the wrong prescription for the ailments of health care delivery, and there were many less intrusive and cheaper ways to provide insurance to the uninsured, short of a hostile takeover of the entire industry.

Perusing the Roberts ruling from the NFIB v. Sibelius decision, there is a very strongly worded line that goes to the heart of the issue for those of us who are strict constructionists. He said, “The Framers knew the difference between doing something and doing nothing. They gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it. Ignoring that distinction would undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited and enumerated powers. The individual mandate thus cannot be sustained under Congress’s power to “regulate Commerce.”

He continues, “The most straightforward reading of the individual mandate is that it commands individuals to purchase insurance. But, for the reasons explained, the Commerce Clause does not give Congress that power.”

“The Federal Government ‘is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers.’ That is, rather than granting general authority to perform all the conceivable functions of government, the Constitution lists, or enumerates, the Federal Government’s powers,” he wrote.

Although we perceive the ruling to be a loss to the constructionist argument, the first few pages of Robert’s explanation is a reaffirmation of the limits of federal government authority, based upon enumerated powers. He really gave us a gift, for by ruling as he did, he’s reaffirmed the constitutional limitations of the federal government and motivated the masses in revolt against the current regime. For as Roberts said later, whether the government should even be involved in mandated health care is a political question, one that we can address at the polls.

It seems sadly ironic that we would learn of the constitutionality of the one piece of congressional legislation most restrictive to personal freedom and liberty ever, on the eve of our national observance of our Independence Day. We can only hope that with a change in the White House and gains in the House and Senate in the November election, that this onerous legislation can be rewritten or repealed. For as it stands now, Obama’s win with the Supreme Court is a loss for the American people.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, National Sovereignty, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

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