7 Billion Days of Christmas!?

PNC released its annual update to the Christmas Price Index. Buying all items in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song will set you back $25,431.18. Without any repeats! But if you’re a “true love” who buys everything on the list (repeating the verses from the song) you’ll have to spend $107,300 for that special someone.

If we consider the national debt, we find that all the money the US owes could have paid for everything on the “12 Days of Christmas” gift list for more than 629 MILLION special someones. (We would definitely not want to be found in the return line of that store the day after Christmas.)

That figure multiplied by 12 gives us the potential for a whopping 7.5 BILLION Days of Christmas–enough to fill about 20.6 million years of holiday fun.  We think we speak for many, if not all, when we say there’s only so much eggnog that we can handle and only so much nonstop Christmas music we can listen to.

The “12 Days” list provides another visual for how irresponsible the US federal government has been in managing the country’s finances. As you complete your own holiday shopping for your special someones, consider how having to pay for 20 million years worth of Golden Rings, Ladies Dancing, and Drummers Drumming would impact your own personal and economic freedoms.

 

Photo Credit:Biblio Archives/Library ArchivesFrank Royal. Canada. National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada, e010966655

Government Action Shuts American Bettors Out of Intrade

The US Government, via the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, has killed America’s access to  Intrade, an Irish company allowing people to “bet” on various outcomes of world events from politics to foreign affairs, to who will win the Best Picture at the next Academy Awards.

Notice to US Customers Appearing on Intrade.com

The CFTC stated that the reason for the legal action was because Intrade “illegally” allowed customers to bet on futures contracts that should be regulated.

In our view, it’s called “betting” for a reason. People can put their own money behind a predicted outcome and potentially win more money if they’re right, and lose it if they’re wrong. What could be a more simple proposition than that? Yet the federal government chooses to insert itself into a private transaction between willing parties and thereby limits the freedom of choice that Americans enjoy.

Instead of worrying itself over how private citizens spend their own money, and in the process limiting personal choices and freedoms, we believe the government should concern itself more with how it wastes billions of dollars of our money.

 

 

Our Lord and Savior Obama?

Some of us have lost our minds. At the 2012 Soul Train awards, Jamie Foxx had this to say about President Obama:

In a society that values freedom, there is no room for any serious belief that elevates a man (or woman when she achieves the office of president) as a deity. The idea of any man or woman doing anything that qualifies them as a god or goddess walking amongst mere mortals is a dangerous one for freedom lovers of all stripes.

If the American political left has done one thing right in terms of promoting freedom, it is defending the idea of keeping the church separate from the government–the so-called “division of church and state.”

If the American political right has done one thing right in terms of promoting freedom, it is its passion for keeping government small and manageable so as not to confuse people into thinking that the government can be a provider of all to all people.

This should be an idea so laughable that it does not deserve serious consideration. Freedom Forge fears for the future of the Republic if people truly hold this view and are not simply speaking in jest.

Belief in a deity, whomever that may be or not be for you, typically requires a suspension of certainty and doubt over the seen and unseen and acceptance of certain principles and ideas through faith. The trouble is, doubt, skepticism, even a healthy dose of cynicism are useful tools when dealing with politics–and more appropriately politicians. Faith is not.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is an appropriate time to put aside the bustle of daily life, upcoming sales, football games, and reflect on that which we hold dear. At Freedom Forge Press, we celebrate the spirit of the individual and are thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy every day.  We believe freedom is a flame, meant to burn brightly for all to see and enjoy, and we view our mission to do our small and humble part to protect that flame from those who seek to extinguish it–so that the torch of freedom may be passed to those who come after us.

In the whole of human history, mankind has known the chains of slavery, tyranny, and oppression far longer than he has the right to be free. Only recently, within a handful of generations, have the monarchies of the world given rise to self-rule and representative government.

We consider America to be something of an improbability. A poorly equipped fighting force stood against the world’s premier superpower. The Founders brought forward exceptional ideas of limited government and checks and balances on government power in an age ruled by kings, sultans, and emperors. When the British forces surrendered and America won her freedom, King George III of England is noted to have said that if George Washington relinquished power and did not become King George I of America, that “he will be the greatest man in the world.”

And so he did–following the conclusion of America’s War for Independence, General Washington laid down his sword and became simply Mister Washington. And when America called him to lead again as our first President, he walked away from the power of the office after a 2nd term, establishing a precedent observed for nearly 150 years before Congress amended the Constitution to limit a President’s tenure.  Not once, but twice, George Washington put aside titles and power in favor of being a private citizen, and we are thankful for the example he set.

We are thankful to all our service members past and present, who answer the call of duty to defend America’s freedoms. We are thankful to those who gave all, whose names aren’t known, whose remains were never recovered for the sacrifice they made in the name of liberty. We are thankful to first responders who risk their lives to save others. We are thankful for those elected leaders who bear the burden of leadership and do their small part to keep the torch of freedom alight.

Proposed Email Peep Law Threatens Freedom

The US Senate is set to introduce changes to a proposed law that would give several federal agencies the authority to view private emails and digitally stored online files without going to the trouble of obtaining a warrant–and in some cases without even notifying the owner of the email or files.

In a disgusting turn of events, Senator Patrick Leahy is working on changes to a bill that initially would have required law enforcement to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause to merely issue a subpoena instead. No warrant. No probable cause. No judicial review. The excuse offered is that the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association–and the US Department of Justice–objected to the warrant requirement.

Modified text of the proposed law would grant an alphabet soup of federal agencies the ability to peek at customer and private emails and digital files with no warrant. We find no cause for agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board to have such power. Frankly, we don’t understand why law enforcement requires the ability to snoop in private email inboxes without obtaining some warrant issued by a judge.

The US Constitution guarantees citizens freedom from unreasonable searches such as this. That a US Senator, law enforcement agencies, or the US Department of Justice are eager to dispense with such rights and personal freedoms is an outrage.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

We recognize that Senators, prosecutors, sheriffs, and people working at the Department of Justice must be intelligent people in order to achieve the positions their positions. Yet reading and comprehension skills seem to be escaping these groups at the moment. The key words they need concern themselves with are Shall. Not. Be. Violated. Words so simple even a Senator should be able to understand them.

Americans must not be tempted to trade away the dignity of their freedoms in exchange for empty promises of safety and security. Benjamin Franklin warned against such a temptation, saying, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

We believe those advocating for this destruction of freedom are not worthy of the public trust nor the offices they have been given. An enduring principle of our Republic has been that Governments are instituted to protect the rights and freedoms of their citizens. This turn of events is illustrative of various government actors that are willing to destroy liberty on the empty promise of safety in order to increase their own power rather than to protect the essential freedoms for which governments exist in the first place.

For more information, check out the following CNET article.

Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ten Thousand Thanksgivings

As America prepares for Thanksgiving this week, news stories pop up about the American Farm Bureau’s annual cost estimate for a Thanksgiving feast. This year AFB reported that the average cost of feeding 10 people at a “typical” Thanksgiving dinner would be approximately $49.48, an increase of 28 cents over last year.

Thanks to the federal government’s gross negligence of managing the country’s finances, our current national debt ($16 Trillon+), could have paid for each and every American man, woman, and child living today to have 10,000 years worth of Thanksgivings!

We think perhaps the…ahem…turkeys in Washington DC need to take management of our country’s finances more seriously and pledge to stop spending like drunken sailors at port call and get America’s fiscal house in order.

Find out what else the US government debt could have paid for at our $16 Trillion Page and suggest your own comparisons!

 

Freedom Agenda

We think it’s time for American leaders, politicians (yes two different classes of people), and voters to embrace a Freedom Agenda. What do you think should be in it?

Freedom Agenda

We’ve added a few starter issues to get started, but we want to hear from YOU! So if you don’t see an issue that ought to be here, add it or list at Ranker.com or to the comments section, and we’ll add it as soon as we’re able!

We realize this post is US-centric. We’ll add an international one soon.

Twinkie Shrugged!

Ladies and Gentlemen, may we present…

“Twinkie Shrugged!”

Federal Government Is “Blowing Smoke” in Montana Marijuana Case

We submit to you, Dear Readers, the case of Chris Williams as a cautionary tale of an out-of-control federal government that refuses to recognize the sovereignty of the several states as enshrined in the US Constitution. The federal government does not exist to destroy individual freedom or state sovereignty.

In 2004, Montana voters passed the Montana Medical Marijuana Act by popular referendum. It wasn’t close–the law passed with a 62 percent majority of votes cast.  The law legalized the growing, distribution, and sale of marijuana to customers who had a certified medical need. State residents could pay an application fee and submit a request to be a registered cardholder of the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. All applicants were required to obtain a physician’s certification that they are suffering from a debilitating medical condition. By 2011, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services confirmed approximately 30,000 state residents were enrolled in the program.

In 2009, the Obama administration via the Department of Justice announced that prosecution of marijuana cases in states with medical marijuana laws would be a low priority. Following these statements in 2009, Williams and 3 business partners opened Montana Cannabis.

Williams and his partners established what they felt was a responsible model for medical marijuana providers. As reported in Montana’s Independent Record, ” [Williams] said they set up a legitimate business model in 2009 that would be the ‘gold standard’ for other medical marijuana providers to follow. [Montana Cannabis] had an open door policy, hosting tours for legislators, law enforcement officers and even the chief narcotic officer for the state. They hired accountants, paid taxes and tracked all of their plants ‘from the time they had roots to their harvest’ and as well as when they were being packed and distributed.”

Compounding the situation in the eyes of federal prosecutors was the fact that Williams carried a pistol for protection, in accordance with his Second Amendment rights. But to federal prosecutors, this means Williams was in possession of firearms while committing a drug trafficking felony.

Williams faces nearly 50 years in prison for violating federal drug laws, which consider marijuana to be a Schedule I Controlled Substance. At his trial, the Independent Record article goes on to state that Williams and his attorney were not permitted to discuss the Montana law because the judge ruled “Montana laws…weren’t pertinent to the case and he didn’t allow any mention of them before jurors or as a defense.” Jurors in the case were prevented from even hearing the defense that Williams believed his actions were consistent with state law.

We disagree. On many fronts.

1. The US Constitution grants legislative powers “herein granted” to Congress. If the Constitution does not specifically and explicitly grant Congress authority, then the federal government has none. We do not recognize regulation of marijuana grown, sold, and distributed within a state’s borders to be a federal issue warranting an unlawful excursion of federal power into state sovereignty.

2. The oft-abused “Interstate Commerce Clause” which Congress has relied upon for a host of federal abuses of authority ranging from passing laws about highway speeds to Obamacare does not apply. Montana voters approved their medical marijuana law which impacts residents of Montana. State residents may cultivate, distribute, sell, or grown their own plants for their own purposes within the state’s borders.

3. The Tenth Amendment says simply, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” It doesn’t take a law degree to understand this simple statement–though federal prosecutors and a federal judge in Montana seem to be giving it their best effort either to not understand the simplicity of the statement–or to outright ignore it.

We conclude the federal government does not have lawful authority under the Constitution to prosecute citizens who are lawfully following their state’s laws regarding marijuana usage. The federal government cannot effectively micromanage issues that are best left to the states. The United States is too complex and too large for such a federal government to be able to successfully run so many aspects of our lives without being destructive to the freedom and liberty that it exists to protect. With a broken immigration system, ballooning federal debt and deficits, a stalled economy, rising unemployment, we see the federal government clearly has other challenges that it should be focusing on rather than worrying about infringing on a citizens rights and freedom to conduct lawful activity within their own state borders.

It is our sincere hope that the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals will overturn this trial court’s verdict and speedily return Mr. Williams to the freedom that he deserves. His courage to stand up for his rights should be commended and serve as an example to all!

Editor’s Note: As of posting time 11/15/12 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized various levels of medical marijuana programs. As of 11/6/12, two states (Colorado and Washington) have legalized “adult use” of marijuana by popular referendum.

Photo Credit: JonRichfield

Murals in Schools and Election Polls

We’re not going to get into US Election Day analysis, that’s been done ad-nauseum since last week. But one story that’s been sticking out in our minds are the reports from multiple sources about campaign materials and images being posted in polling locations where voters cast their ballots on Election Day.

Perhaps the most widely cited example is this image  from Philadelphia’s Ward 35, Franklin Elementary School. But other examples have surfaced in Washington, DC and Florida as well.

Pennsylvania election law states “no person within a polling place may electioneer or solicit votes for any political party, political body, or candidate, nor may any unauthorized written or  printed materials be posted within the polling place.” Fairly simple and straightforward–even for government legalspeak. A candidate’s campaign materials should not be posted inside a polling place.

The Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania brought a complaint to a local judge, Pamela Pryor Dembe. As the rhetoric began to escalate, she is reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer as stating, “I find it ludicrous to think that somebody’s vote is going to be changed by a mural on the wall. So curb your enthusiasm, if you will.” The Inquirer report also quotes some local officials as saying the concern is “much ado about nothing.”

From the judge to the city’s legal counsel, there is a failure to understand the issue at hand. Luckily, we are here to help with that.

The United States is a Republic with strong democratic traditions. One feature of a Republic is respecting the rights of the minority. Otherwise the 50% + 1 can run roughshod over the 50% – 1 and eliminate their freedoms. A popular illustration of this idea is the iconic “democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner” anecdote. Protecting the rights and freedom of those not in power is a principle well showcased in the Constitution.  Curbs on power were designed to ensure a basic level of rights that may not be changed without supermajorities agreeing to the proposed changes.

To the people who do not support the president, seeing this wall mural in a government building is not acceptable. The school–which is supposed to be nonpartisan–also serving as a place where people cast their ballots (also supposed to be nonpartisan) should not be engaged in partisan activities. We could see a wall mural with President Obama to be legitimate if it were part of a mural including all presidents, or we could find it acceptable if the president is no longer serving in office. But posting the image on the wall of a school for someone still in office–who is running for reelection and where ballots are cast–is too close to an active endorsement of that person’s policies for our comfort.

This begs 3 very big questions:

1. Why did it take a complaint from local GOP party officials and a court order to fully cover the mural?

2. Once the court order was issued, why was it acceptable to half-heartedly cover it with ballot instructions–leaving the campaign logo visible–as the image to the right shows? This was in violation of the court order to fully cover the mural.

3. Why is campaign paraphernalia in a school, which many–but sadly not all–agree should be an apolitical place of learning?

We think that to ensure freedom, it is inappropriate to post such murals in both schools and in polling places. Because a school, in many cases, is a government institution, a presidential portrait would seem appropriate, but the presence of a stylized wall mural, to include the campaign logo is offensive to our sense of fair play.

It also speaks to an idea of “the cult of the presidency”, or this idea that the president can accomplish anything he or she has a mind to do and out to get anything they want…because they’re the president. This is similar to the stylized murals we find of dictators in other countries (examples below) and is not an idea we believe should flourish in a free society. More on this in a later post.

And least anyone accuse us of being one-sided, we did look for examples of Romney images in GOP-friendly polling places. But our research was not able to find any examples of Mitt Romney campaign materials inside of polling places–let alone schools. If you have evidence, please let us know and we will include it with this post.

Obama DC School Mural:

 

 

 

 

 

Obama Banner in Florida Polling Place:

 

 

 

 

 

Murals of foreign dictators