Lottery Jackpot Represents 73 Minutes of Federal Spending

PowerballThe largest lottery jackpot in US history headlines as a princely sum of $1.5 billion.

But if you’re the lucky winner – overcoming the astronomical odds of 1 in 292 million – and managing to not split the pot with other lucky individuals who also managed to overcome the same astronomical odds….you’ll never see that much thanks to your long lost friends in the Internal Revenue Service and state departments of revenue.

That’s right, not only will you have to fight off droves of never before seen “cousins,” long lost friends, acquaintances, that guy who held the door open for you that one time when you went to buy a lottery ticket…you’ll have to fight off scores of government bureaucrats looking to feast on your winnings in exchange for all the value the government provides to you for the roads they haven’t been building or maintaining.

First, the cash option drops “Billion” from the figure – presently standing at $930 million.

The federal government stands to collect 39.6% in federal income taxes: $368.2 Million

Next, most Americans will face a state tax bite – which varies by state (0% in some states all the way up to a top rate of 12.3% in California. Really California?! No wonder people are packing up and leaving you…), but we’ll estimate state taxes at 5% : $46.5 million

Some will also face city or local income taxes – but we’ll disregard those for now.

Your net winnings will be approximately $515 million.

Federal spending in 2015 was $3.687 trillion (about $421 million per hour).

Meaning the amount of money you’d expect to see from winning the largest lottery jackpot recorded in US history will net you…..73 minutes worth of federal spending.

May the odds be ever in your favor…

Lottery Jackpot
Photo Credit:

“Money” by Pictures of Money

Censoring the Past to Make a Comfortable Present Leads to a Dark Future

This Friday, we celebrate some common sense in the defense of genuine academic freedom.

We tip our hat to Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal for taking on the clueless insanity that has manifested itself at Columbia University’s student paper. The paper penned an op-ed recently decrying western classical literature as

Triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.

In the styling of the inner party of Orwell’s 1984, liberal students winding through the halls of academia (and liberals and progressive statists in general)  seem to want thought based on emotion – how you feel in relation to an event or idea rather than worry with ages-old tried and true approaches such as…logic or reason. And this is good. Provided that you feel the same way and react the same way as your betters. (Compare “bellyfeel” and “duckspeak” from the Newspeak Dictionary.)

Noonan’s response is the serious wake up call college students need before turning over any more of their minds to The Party.

At last year’s Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference, our editor Val Muller was lucky enough to hear Aranka Siegal speak. Siegal is a Holocaust survivor and was asked to attend the conference many times before she finally agreed. Now in her eighties, Siegal was encouraged not to travel, and her family discouraged her.

When she spoke at the conference, recounting her experiences in Hungary leading up to her time in Auschwitz, she cried. When she spoke of the last time she saw her mother–as her mother stood in line for the crematorium, she cried. When she spoke of nearly starving to death, of witnessing atrocities in the kitchens, of rape and abuse and death–she cried. There was no emotional safety in sharing these memories.

And yet she emphasized to all at the conference that she thought it important enough to speak to the room of educators not because she wanted their pity, but because she did not want the past to die. As horrific as those experiences were, and as painful as it was for her to recount them again, she wanted to share the pain of history so that it would not be repeated. So that the educators in the room would share her experiences – painful as they were – with the next generation of thinkers.

Avoiding history because it brings up unpleasant memories; bleaching out words of literature because they cause pain; or eliminating literary works to make people feel better about themselves in their present state of being is cowardice and weakness. But it is far more dangerous than that.

The Columbia student paper is advocating for censorship. At first it may appear to be benign – even benevolent. Why not wipe clean the sins of the past in order to spare a few tears or unpleasant moments during our present?

But it is the future that suffers from such folly. The level of censorship of works needed to wipe the past clean enough to accommodate the hyper-sensitivities of our current time would leave the next generation incapable of experiencing texts that can teach us to distinguish good from bad.

If our only reference point for unfairness is imagined exclusion, then we might overlook things like the federal government’s blatant dishonesty in saying it will only use mass surveillance to protect us from terrorists. Meanwhile we find out that federal agencies engage in “parallel construction,” bringing criminal cases against individuals constructed with bits of information obtained illegally and without a warrant.

If our only reference point for corruption is imagining that free market entrepreneurs only amass wealth and success by stealing it from poor people, then we become immune to widespread government theft of private property through civil forfeiture where a government agency seizes cash and property without ever filing charges against an individual – leaving the legal burden on the person to take the government to court to reclaim their own property.

If our only reference point for discrimination is sloppy math and dishonest studies used to politically decry a pay gap for women and to declare a “war on women” is on, then we might miss actual discrimination whereby the US government systematically abuses its power to discriminate against political opponents of the current administration.

And all of these examples are real and happening right now in the Land of the Free. And if the public tolerates these abuses, how much longer will it be before an all-powerful government can detain (even claim to kill) US citizens without trial.  (Oh, wait, it can do that too!? Yes we can…says the President’s Attorney General)

Americans already tolerate the above abuses of their freedoms by the federal government – in the name of security, of course.  And if we have already come this far, then how far away is an experience like Aranka Siegal’s – right here in the United States? Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933. Mass deportations of Jews into extermination camps and the eastern ghettos of Europe began with Operation Reinhard in 1942 – not even a decade later.

We believe sharing a painful past helps to prevent an even more painful future. Telling stories of suffering, of abuse, and yes, even of rape and the evil that Aranka Siegal endured, is strength. Recognizing the evil in those stories helps us identify it and know it when we see it instead of becoming numb and dumb to the world around us.

Perhaps we need to tell students painful stories more often, not less.

Debt Files: Gasoline and the National Debt

You asked for it!

A few weeks ago, we asked for interesting items, services, or ideas to translate the national debt into. And some of you had some pretty interesting ideas!

Here’s the first one: Gasoline and the National Debt. Others will be coming soon; you can find them on our blog or see the running collection here.

Got an idea you’d like to see us try to relate to the national debt? Post it in the comments or find us on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll see what we can do!

gasoline-and-the-national-debt

Updating the Trillion Dollar Page

packs-163497When we first started Freedom Forge Press in 2012, the US government debt had topped $16 trillion, a number that is so large that it doesn’t have much meaning for people.

So we thought, why not use other things from the news, such as events, or items of interest that people could use as a visual for the volume of money that  government politicians are borrowing to pay for their spending schemes?

Items such as sporting events, dollar bridges to Mars, bottles of champagne, even iPhones and…Furbies!

But governments and politicians have been busy – doing what governments and politicians do – which is spending money they don’t have and adding record amounts of debt to our national balance sheet without regard for where the money is coming from or what burdens it will place on our children and grandchildren.

In January 2015, the US government owed $18 trillion dollars ($18,000,000,000,000.00), and so it is time to update our page.

Do you have an idea for an item or event that could be translated into national debt figures? Post your idea in the comments section for this post and give us a link to a page where we can find out what the item or event costs. (Even if you can’t find the page, give us your idea anyway, and we’ll try to figure it out.)

When you’re done, tell your elected officials that it is time to stop mortgaging our future and to get America’s spending and debt under control.

Then, tell a friend!

Government Power Springs Forward

Victory-Cigar-Congress-Passes-DST.jpegDaylight Savings Time (DST) is a great example of how the government is slow to deal with change (if it ever does), and pushes wasteful and ineffective policy solutions – sometimes even on a bipartisan basis.

Although DST has been with us since the dawn of the 20th Century – and traces its roots earlier in time – the current incarnation of DST began in 2007, following implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The law was passed in a largely bipartisan (85-12) vote in the Senate with more controversy arising in the House (249-183) from House Democrats who took an ideological stance that the proposed law did not go far enough to place mandates requiring energy producers to use more expensive but politically friendly renewable energy in their overall energy production mix by 2020.

The arguments we often hear in favor of DST are that it saves energy. And of course the federal government knows best how to direct the activities of individuals from a national level. Have no fear, Department of Energy (DOE) “experts” conducted a study which estimates that the policy results in a savings of 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours.

The government produces the most optimistic case for DST resulting in actual (albeit scarce) energy savings. Multiple sources across the ideological spectrum cast doubt on the effectiveness of the government’s DST policy for saving energy.DOE sheepishly acknowledges, “this might not sound like a lot.” And at least it is right on this point. The US produces more than 4,000 billion kilowatt-hours of energy on an annual basis. Meaning the nation’s DST policy puts everyone on edge for a net savings of about 0.03% of total energy produced in a year’s time. This doesn’t even amount to finding a penny on the sidewalk; it is finding about 3 hundredths of one.
DOE DST Savings
But despite the Department of Energy’s optimism produced by their “experts”, the litany of scientific studies and arguments against the effectiveness of DST changes are overwhelming.

Let us Google that for you!

Virtually all sources from the resulting search screen show no support for the widely held belief that DST results in energy savings. In fact, contrary to the DOE’s experts, another 2008 scientific study suggests that the government’s manipulation of our clocks may actually increase energy use when compared to doing nothing. The National Bureau of Economic Research issued a report demonstrating that “contrary to the policy’s intent — DST increases residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase are approximately 1 percent.”

Rather than a savings of 0.03%, there appears to be a cost of about 1 percent of energy consumption. Not surprisingly, this follows another pattern from government “experts” who claimed that government control of health insurance would result in $2,500 in annual savings to the average family, when in fact, the opposite has taken place, and the average family has experienced a net cost increase of $7,500.

Apart from energy savings, the DST-imposed time changes have been associated literally with killing people. One study associates the loss of an hour sleep with additional risk for heart attacks. Another links DST to increased street crime. And another study attributes driving fatalities to drivers having to re-acclimate themselves to darker driving conditions.

Other studies have determined other, harder to quantify costs and impacts such as the expense of changing software, managing transit schedules, even hindered agricultural production. One of our favorite articles from the list we perused was by Tom Zeller at Forbes.com. His summary of the critics’ positions says it best:

“But critics of DST also argue that most energy-use analyses fail to account for a variety of potential costs associated with routine time changes. These would include everything from impacts on human health and crime rates to the costs of adjusting mass transit schedules, hindering agricultural work, and, well, putting a large segment of the population into a foul mood.”

If energy savings was the stated goal of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the government failed miserably in its attempt. So why was the Energy Policy Act of 2005 necessary? It must have done something worthwhile. The text of the legislation tops 550 pages, so surely there is something in there that was beneficial for the public good. Right?

Of course not.

As we leaf through the legislation and associated analysis, we find that like many other laws the federal government produces, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 does little more than spend money we don’t have for questionable purposes. Questionable, but profitable – from the point of view of politicians and their lobbyist allies.

Public Citizen offers a succinct summary of the law’s winners, and what it cost in terms of political contributions to receive such generosity from the treasury.

Oil and Gas Subsidies: $6 Billion
Coal Subsidies: $9 Billion
Nuclear Power Subsidies: $12 Billion
Electric Power Company Subsidies: $1.7 Billion

All told, the estimated value of subsidies and special tax deals totals $28.7 billion from 2007 to 2015. Not a bad return on investment considering that energy industry lobbyists contributed approximately $115 million in campaign contributions from 2001 to 2005 with about 75 percent of that cash going to the political party in power at the time – Republicans.

Once again, the public was sold a bill of goods, citing a national urgency to curb energy consumption and be responsible stewards of the environment. Studies have demonstrated that rather than decreasing energy demand, DST actually increases energy usage. Additionally, the policy has been linked to inefficiency, higher costs of doing business, higher crime, even death. While many people continue to believe that they’re doing their civic duty to this end in the twice-per-annum ceremony of adjusting clocks, the only real accomplishment appears to be the government giving away money it does not have to energy producers that had already been adequately incentivized by the free market – considering the high prices of energy during this time.

Americans should take away two things from their semi-annual Daylight Savings Time ritual. First, both political parties, even one claiming to be for limited government, are more interested in growing their own power and collecting political tribute than they are in effective policy-making. The second, following from the first, is the fewer things the government is in charge of, the better off we all will be.

Photo Credit: “Victory-Cigar-Congress-Passes-DST” by United Cigar Stores Company (sponsor); artist unknown – Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-10663

Virtual Interview with Howie Lind – Candidate for US Congress, Virginia 10th District

Freedom Forge Press resides in the 10th Congressional District in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The seat for the House of Representatives is being contested this year due to the planned retirement of incumbent Frank Wolf (R-VA) who has represented the citizens of the Virginia 10th District since 1981.

We invited all candidates who have publicly announced their intention to run for the seat to a Virtual Interview.

Howie LindFreedom Forge Press (FFP):  Chris Christie remarked in July 2013, “This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought.” Christie appeared to be discussing the government’s role in fighting terrorism and responding to critics of all the federal government’s widespread domestic spying programs. Do you think Christie is right, or do civil libertarians have legitimate concerns?

Howie Lind (HL): The legitimate role of the Federal government has been subverted; we all want “the bad guys” tracked and interdicted. There is absolutely no evidence that the widespread dragnet of metadata accomplishes this. As an example, our intelligence agencies knew that we had major issues with the two individuals involved in the Boston bombing, yet failed to respond. Obviously, we have a major disconnect here, and if we continue the indiscriminate gathering of individual information, someday it will be used for the worst of reasons.

FFP: What would be your top 3-5 legislative priorities if elected?

HL: Repealing and replacing Obamacare, Reforming the tax code, reforming Federal spending, Restoring defense capability.

FFP: Considering all the federal government does and all the influence and control it exerts on states via Medicare/Medicaid and other spending, do you think the federal government is successfully doing its job to “promote the general welfare” of all citizens in these United States?

HL: No.

FFP: Gallup recently released a poll with a record number of respondents (72%) saying that “Big Government” is the biggest threat to the future of the country. “Big Government” has always led the other categories (Labor, Business). Yet the president, a clear advocate for transformational large government, won re-election with 51% of the popular vote. What do you think we are missing here?

HL: Our culture and our educational institutions have not been promoting or educating the American public on the foundational constitutional precepts of liberty and individual responsibility.

FFP: A quote is attributed to John Adams: “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” Looking over the past 10 to 15 years and the rapid pace of government expansion invites a lot of pessimism to accept that quote as true. Do you think that quote is true? And if not, what do you think it will take for the country to get back on track?

HL: Historically it is accurate. I don’t think it is too late, but time is growing short. Reagan is the model to follow; it is possible to turn the ship of state, however, it takes bold, consistent effort.

FFP: When, if ever, do you think it is acceptable for the federal government to play favorites with favorable regulatory requirements, grants, tax credits, or other policy levers?

HL: As a general rule, no, there should always be a level playing field. Of course, there may be some exceptions that are of such national importance that they demand attention; the space race, interstate highways, and some other very narrow exceptions come to mind.

FFP: Grover Cleveland is one of our favorite Democrats. Following a drought in Texas! Congress passed an appropriation for a seed bill of a modest sum of $10,000 (about $289,000 in today’s dollars). Cleveland vetoed the bill and issued this statement:

“I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering… …though the people support the government, the government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. … Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.”

Given the various types of federal aid, the increased participation in those welfare programs—which shot up markedly during the current administration, and the record high level of people who have left the labor force, do you think Cleveland had a valid point, or does government have a duty to relieve individual suffering?

HL: Yes, Cleveland was broadly correct. Cases of calamity and individual suffering, the individual community and its private resources, and the state are the best provider of services. The Federal government has proven time after time that the least efficient manner in which services can be delivered is through the central government, regardless of constitutionality. FEMA comes to mind. Certainly the Federal government has a role in exceptional circumstances where a region or state is affected and request support, but clearly we have “federalized” every type of event that should and can be handled locally.

FFP: Is it time for term limits?

HL: Yes.

FFP: If elected, what will you do in office to promote individual freedom?

HL: Adhere to the Bill of Rights.

FFP: If elected, what will you do in office to limit the size, scope, and power of government?

HL: Tax reform and the elimination of base line budgeting. Complete reorganization of EPA and its oversight functions. Consolidation of antiquated agencies and programs spread throughout the government.

FFP: The Tax Foundation estimates that the average tax payer will work into the 2nd week of May just to pay his/her federal, state, and local tax bills for the year. Do you think this is appropriate?

HL: Of course not; anytime that the federal budget grows beyond 18%, there is clear historical evidence to suggest that there negative economic growth is stalled. The tax structure is in need of major reform.

FFP: By many objective measures, spending by the federal government has ballooned out of control in the 20th Century to unsustainable levels where we find ourselves today.

Is there a specific aspect of government (e.g., an agency, program, function) that you would agree to freeze, reduce, or cut?  (If so please name the agency/program/function?)

HL: I believe the time has come for massive re-organization; one tiny example is that there are 19 job training programs spread over the government. We need to ask a basic question: What is the legitimate constitutional role of the Federal government, what are those things that only it can do? Everything else needs to be returned to the states to pursue – and we’ll find many of them are never picked up by the states because they simply are not critical programs.

FFP: Why are you running for office? (Or if you’d like to address a question we didn’t ask, please add it here and give your response).

HL: I want to go to Washington to do something, not be someone. The Republic is in a critical place, and there may be little room left to turn our course back to economic sanity and individual liberty.

We would like to thank Howie Lind and members of his campaign staff for participating in our virtual interview. For more information about Howie, visit his campaign website.

Status of campaign participants (As of 3/29/2014):

[Republican Candidates]

Barbara Comstock – Has not yet responded to our invitation to participate.

Stephen Hollingshead – Has accepted our invitation; responses are pending.

Howie Lind – Has accepted our invitation and submitted responses.

Bob Marshall – Has not yet responded to our invitation to participate.

Marc Savitt – Has accepted our invitation; responses are pending.

Rob Wasinger – Has not yet responded to our invitation to participate.

[Democratic Candidates]

Richard Bolger – Has withdrawn from the race.

John Foust – Has not responded to our invitation to participate.

Sam Kubba – Has withdrawn from the race.

Our Interview with Katrina Pierson

We had the exciting opportunity to talk to Katrina Pierson. Katrina is running for Congress in the 32nd Congressional District in Texas.

Freedom Forge Press: We love your outlook for freedom, liberty, and limited government. Our mission aligns with your outlook—we found you on Twitter because of these beliefs. Your website indicates that you have a preference for promoting market-based reforms. So to get started, what kind of specific proposals would you bring with you to Congress in terms of improving the healthcare system?

Katrina PiersonKP: I have years of experience in healthcare. I was an administrator at a hospital; I ran outpatient neurology. I have experience with how these things can work. I know lots of people are talking about Heath Savings Accounts (HSAs), which should be on a market level, not a federal level. We need to have full transparency with all medical costs for patients so they can compare costs, rate doctors, and know where to go. We need to incorporate those types of transparency requirements so patients know where to find good quality care at an affordable price.

Tax reform is a good starting point—there’s been talk of eliminating that tax exemption altogether, and providing either a tax credit, or dumping it into an HSA. We can also break up insurance markets to compete across state lines. If you have a plan for a family of four, you could compare the prices side-by-side and have a difference of five thousand dollars from one state to another. [Selling insurance across state lines] would drag down the cost because the companies would have to compete with each other.

Also with regard to Medicare, we’re not means-testing people. I know a lot of people who don’t need to be on Medicare but are, and this shouldn’t be. There are so many common sense solutions that we just so completely ignore.

FFP: One of our editors has had a Health Savings Account since 2008. Talking about transparency: when he got to the dentist and asked about the cost of getting a cavity filled, the response was, well it depends on what insurance you have. It’s that complicated. So should the private market sort this out through an insurance conglomerate, or what?

KP: I don’t think it should be a federal government mandate. Take Texas, for example. If we want transparency in Texas, that would become a state law. Most people want transparency. With larger HSAs, which would cover many insured, you could change health care in just a few years [by increasing transparency]. Something not a lot of people are talking about are wellness programs. AFLAC is ahead of the curve in this. Some big employers are providing wellness programs. Companies should provide wellness programs for employees as a substitute for preventative medicine, even. But as long as we keep things at the state level, individuals have a lot more control.

FFP: Speaking of a national marketplace, Congress’s duty is to regulate interstate commerce. If Congress were to try to set up a national market for insurance, do you think this infringes on states?

KP: I don’t think the federal government should establish a national market; I just think they should eliminate the inability to buy across state lines.

FFP: What would your priorities be if elected?

KP: You wish you could fix everything, but there are a few things more heavy on my to-do list than others: one of those things is I believe we have to make a priority of fundamentally changing the education system in our country. We should be able to have this debate with the public. This is where we lose on a lot of issues; people go into smoke-filled rooms and work things out with fellow bureaucrats, and we lose out.

We should put the states on notice and say “no” to the Department of Education (DOE). The DOE was established in the 1970s. If you look at all the big innovators and the successful people, they didn’t go through public education. We’re losing that [type of innovation] right now—we’re not getting anywhere with education in this country. It’s a big issue for me because if we’re going to change anything in this country, we’ve got to save our kids.

There are simple policies to put in place like a federal check registry. I think we should require every department and agency to do the same thing. We’re living in the age of technology. We should not have to wait for the GSA scandal to break before we find out how outrageously they’re spending money. This is the people’s money; they should see it. The technology is there; the state of Texas does it.

I’d also like to get back to single-issue bills. We shouldn’t have to be in a situation where we have to pass it before we know what’s in it. The reason we have such outrageous spending is they tack on these little things to these bills they know are going to pass, and we find out later we’re paying for things like breast implants for prostitutes. We need to raise the standard on how we do business and how we govern.

Think also about bringing back the anti-appropriations committee. That committee was cranking out three billion dollars of waste. Why is the committee gone? Because it was cranking out three billion dollars of waste!

FFP: Back to education for a moment: What do you think about Common Core?

KP: I am adamantly opposed to Common Core. It’s more of a curriculum thing—I know some people like the structure of it. I have a background in science, and when we look at education standards in the US versus the other countries, we teach linearly. But when you look at the human brain, it doesn’t think in a straight line. It thinks in colors. The BBC did an interesting program about struggling students, and they taught them how to draw their ideas with curvy colors. These students improved in education, and their self-confidence and behavior improved. We’re teaching with a very archaic system, and we won’t fundamentally change it—we need drastic changes to get our children back on track.

FFP: So the Common Core wouldn’t allow for individual flexibility. Looking at the history of our education system, wealthy industrialists contributed to our educational system, and the mindset was, “we don’t want thinkers; we want assembly line workers.” So it seems we’re still training people to live in the 20th Century.

KP: We have an opportunity here. One pet peeve of public school [in Texas] is in the African American community: these students can hardly speak English, but they are required to speak and write Spanish. Mastering lower education—reading, writing, arithmetic—shouldn’t be too difficult. We are taking away kids’ ability to think on their own. They are being pushed into group think. Math classes now push students to do math in group, four to a table, and have to pass or fail based on what your group comes up with. A straight-A student was upset because she was receiving grades based on what her group did, and she wanted to quit school. These students are mixed together so their grades average out. Luckily in some schools, like in Texas, we still have AP classes, but in some states it’s getting really bad.

FFP: Taking America as a whole, thinking about everything that is happening, what do you think is wrong, and what do we need to do to fix ourselves?

KP: We have a morally bankrupt society. We’re too complacent. We’re going to struggle with that. By electing people who are interested in engaging the public rather than joining the club and making decisions behind closed doors, we will fix some of the complacency part. When the Tea Party started, we had people who had never been involved before, and now we can’t get them to stop being involved. Problem is, there are few people willing to lead on principle.

I’ll go back to one of my legislative priorities. We need to have debate about the UN. I have spent years on the local level pushing back against the international standards being pushed into our community, whether it’s zoning, putting up signs that don’t require people to read and speak English, we’re just seeing the UN dictate the way we plan our cities, the way we interact with international communities, the way we hold our elections. That isn’t what our country is about. The UN has been operating outside its mission system for quite some time. We need to revisit the UN and our involvement in it.

FFP: “Soft tyranny” seems to have the UN written all over it. It’s not the power to overtly destroy, but to make every one play to a lowest common denominator. You don’t have pioneers willing to depart from the norm. It’s hard to see or prove.

KP: I think we can fix the engagement of the American public. We have so many qualified people who would be very good legislators, good on a local, state, and national level—good, solid freedom fighters. But our society is so conditioned in fear, in every aspect. They have us afraid of everything and everyone. The cycle of people stepping out there, like myself, it’s a question of “who is going to take the beating?” Once we break that mold and get more people to fight back… well, human beings follow courage. Nothing has changed with the human psyche, but we’re conditioned to not stir up the pot. Hopefully it’s not too late.

FFP: Looking at a recent Gallup poll, a record number of people said big government is the biggest threat to the country. Big government has always been at the top of the list, well above big business or big labor. So what are we missing? Americans seem to think big government is the problem, but we have a president who won the election and is an advocate for big government.

KP: Republicans have to govern on principle. It’s sort of tragic, what we have on “our” side (if we’re on the side of freedom). We’re not just going to blindly vote for anyone. The perfect example is Mitt Romney. When he ran and knocked out each conservative one at a time, before he won the nomination, he was completely against Obamacare. After he won the Republican primary, he said, “I’ll repeal Obamacare, but I want to replace it.” People didn’t like that.

That spring, Romney got on a microphone and said, “There are some things about Obamacare that we’ll keep.” I talked to hundreds of grassroots leaders in swing states, and millions of those people did not vote. Their reason for not voting? They said that they refused to have Obamacare under a Republican. It wasn’t enough to vote against Obama; they didn’t have a reason to vote for Mitt Romney. That was very telling. I mean, you look at Ted Cruz in Texas. People couldn’t find a reason not to vote for Ted Cruz. He beat all odds. That’s what’s happening. The Republican Party is all talk and no action. They say they’re free market, but they’re not. They’re pro-business. This is not the same as free market. It’s all depending where the money’s coming from. Challenge politicians to define what they mean. They’re saying what they want you to hear, but they’re not saying what they mean. For example, the word “amnesty” is one of those words. It means different things for different people.

FFP: You had been a Tea Party activist in your area, and a grassroots leader. It seems like you’ve reached the point where enough is enough.

KP: I can’t just sit there and walk. I met with my congressman for the better part of the year, tried to explain what conservatives in our district wanted, and he just wasn’t interested. He was only interested in supporting John Boehner. He didn’t want to hear it. He made it seem like we didn’t know what we were talking about. He supports farm bills, amnesty, the NSA, indefinite detention. I couldn’t sit back without challenging him.

FFP: Do you think we need a third party. Could the Tea Party provide a viable option?

KP: I don’t know if the question today is if we need a third party. That’s a question for 2010 or 2011. I think the question today is with Republicans actively trying to stomp out conservative voices and freedom and liberty-minded voices. The question today is if we’re going to be able to stop a third party. I have no idea if the Tea Party is a viable option. There are some people saying the Tea Party was “kind of” right about Obamacare, “kind of” right about privacy. I don’t know if they can recover from all the image damage done to them over the years. I think we’ll know over this next cycle or two if we’ll be able to stop a third party, though I think a third party will be devastating to Republicans. I can’t see organizations backing the Republican Party again after all that’s coming. The Republicans are not governing like Republicans. I hope this election cycle, we can make enough noise to guide the ship back onto the right course.

FFP: John Adams said, “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” Do you think there’s hope for freedom in the future or is it too late?

KP: I think we still have hope. I do believe once it’s gone, it’s gone; I just don’t think we’re there yet. I think we’re in the transition, and it’s going to be up to the American people to make the final decision. That’s why it’s so important to bring these discussions to the American public so they know exactly what’s going on and exactly how these things are happening… like the IRS, DOJ, and NSA scandals.

If Republicans were smart, they would jump on this, bypass the media, and go straight to the people and say “this is what’s happening to you.” The federal government should send a letter to every single person whose cell phone was spied on. Then you would start to see the American people say, “Wait!” The problem is, everything done in DC is kept in DC. Americans have to be touched personally before they get engaged. There has been no accountability on the federal level, there is no one going to the American public. People don’t know what do to, so they say, “Oh well, nothing I can do about it.”

FFP: So do you believe the media isn’t doing its job for the American people?

KP: Absolutely. The media needs to point out how the government isn’t doing its job. There are now three million signatures on petitions against Obamacare. People had no idea what was coming with Obamacare, but because Ted Cruz  and others went to the American public, people are now questioning Obamacare. That’s why they blamed the shutdown on Cruz, but people can see that he was trying to warn us. That was just a month or two ago, and now no one is mad at him anymore—people are thankful to him for informing them. Imagine if all Republicans did that—how much they could inform the American people.

FFP: Is anyone even about small government anymore? The Republicans don’t offer a difference from Democrats.

KP: I wish Republicans would take the anger against conservatives, and use it against the Democrats every once in a while.

FFP: Grover Cleveland once vetoed a bill from Congress aimed at easing severe drought conditions in Texas by spending $10,000 on distributing grain seeds to farmers.

In his veto message, Cleveland said:

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering… Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct [individual charity] which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.

We like some Democrats, but it seems the good ones are gone. Thinking about the Texas Seed Bill, does the federal government have a role to play in easing individual suffering?

KP: It is so not a government duty. Think about how long ago that was and where we are today. We’re the most abundant nation in the world. Not only have we given up our responsibilities, but our churches have, too. Our states have, too. The states are now copying the governing in Washington, DC. Texas’s state budget is now fifty percent federally funded. States are going to go crazy, but it [cutting federally-funded budgets and programs] has to be done. It’s not the federal government’s role to babysit people or states. Responsibility has to be put back on the states.

FFP: It’s exciting to find people like you who are standing up and running for office.

KP: It was not an easy decision to run. I tell people, the good news is I’m not your traditional Republican candidate. I’m not an old rich guy, I’m a single mom. That’s also the bad news. I’m going to go into it fully prepared for a full character assault. Nobody else would step up. I’ve reached the point where, as Thomas Jefferson said, “resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” I’m young enough that I’m able to recover. If I have to move, I’ll survive. I couldn’t consciously not do anything. Ted Cruz always says, you lose one hundred percent of the battles you don’t fight.

Katrina Pierson is a candidate for the United States Congress in the 32nd District in Texas. Keep track of her at her website, on her Twitter feed, and Facebook.

Olympic Update: The Results Are In, And They’re Not Good!

800px-Olympic_Rings.svgWe recently posted that Team USA would need to sweep all 98 medal podiums at Sochi (and 122,000+ more Sochis besides) in order for the IRS to have enough taxable medal winnings to pay off the interest on the federal government’s debt in 2014 alone.

Unfortunately, Team USA did not win gold, silver, and bronze in all 98 events. Accordingly, we will have to revise our projections.

Team USA won 9 gold medals, 7 silver, and 12 bronze medals. This will give the IRS the opportunity to leech a mere $178,200 in tax revenue, a downward revision from $1,940,400.

This unfortunately means that the IRS will have to wait for more than 1.3 MILLION Sochis (which will take 5.3 million years!) in order to collect the revenue needed to pay off only one year of interest on the federal government’s debt today.

Are we being ridiculous? Of course we are! The US was never going to win all medals at all 98 events at the Winter Games.  But then again we’re no more ridiculous than the federal government’s politicians who continue to irresponsibly enact unrealistic budgets that spend far more than is collected in revenue and far more than is the constitutional mission of the federal government.

Go Team USA, Your Government Needs Your Prize Money!

800px-Olympic_Rings.svgThe 2014 Olympic Winter Games are underway in Sochi!

Team USA Olympians are engaging in their quadrennial quest for winter gold, and, if they’re successful, they’ll pay for it. Each medal comes with a cash prize of $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze (per medal) paid by the US Olympic Committee to the event winner.

And the IRS is already salivating at the opportunity to stick Team USA with tax bills on their winnings.  At the highest tax bracket, Americans for Tax Reform estimates an approximate $9,900 tax bill for each gold medal, $5,940 for a silver, and $3,960 for each bronze medal.

But let’s take it a step further.

There are 98 events at the Winter Games this time around.  If Team USA were to sweep the medal podiums and win every single medal available (gold, silver, AND bronze) in every single event, the IRS would need more than 122,000 Sochi Winter Games (at 98 events each!) just to pay the interest on the federal government’s debt, for this year alone!

Despite having imposed math mandates on states, it’s clear yet again from this example that federal government elected officials utterly fail to comprehend even the most basic math.

So ski, snowboard, skate, shoot, and curl hard Team USA. Your government needs you!

Budget “Deal” Shows Why You Shouldn’t Trust Politicians to Fix Anything

House Republican Paul Ryan and Senate Democrat Pat Murray proudly emerged from crafting their back-room budget deal. Finally, an end to the dreaded “sequester” budget cuts that were promised to be so intense and so devastating that the sky might literally fall if they were enacted. Finally, an end to the threat of another government shut down when the continuing resolution passed in October expires in mid-January.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor praised Ryan for “the hard work behind trying to get a deal in this divided government we’re in.”

Speaker John Boehner was so angry that conservatives in his caucus weren’t widely supporting the budget deal, he yelled “Are you kidding me?” at one point into a microphone at his press conference earlier today.

That’s funny. We think the question really should be asked of him and those who support the budget “deal” and think that something meaningful has actually been accomplished.  Maybe a better question is “who are you trying to kid?”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office scores the deficit impact of the laws Congress passes.  They evaluated this budget deal and reported the law would result in about $150 billion in deficit reductions. Over ten years.

Of course Representatives have two-year terms–meaning there will be five elections between now and the end of this projection. Even the Senate will go through nearly two full election cycles of its members during this timeline. What is the chance that the cuts enacted will be left in place? If you need a hint, the budget cuts that went into effect January 2, 2013 lasted until…well until about today, so not even a full year. What’s the likelihood that budget cuts enacted ten years from now actually remain in place?

This is the dishonesty of budget projections. All the budget pain is in the later years of the timeline. But politicians claim to have made “the hard choices” now and done “the hard work” now of getting a deal done today. They’re hoping you don’t notice when the cuts go into effect.

The “hard choice” made in the House today is to make NO change to the projected deficit in 2014. That’s right. Zero change. All changes take place after 2014. And we know 2014 is an election year, meaning in 2015, fresh faces in Congress may alter this budget blueprint at will.

The pie chart below shows the dollar value of deficit cuts in each year of the budget plan.  Yes, 2014, the year when Congress could have actually enacted something that would stick, is zero. As each year passes, the likelihood of the cuts remaining in place drops–so we shaded the chart to reflect lighter pie slices until 2023 when the final slice is a pale white-green color.

Seventy cents of every dollar in proposed cuts won’t take place until after the 5 year mid-point (2019) of the budget plan. We won’t even have the same president by then. The remaining 30 cents in cuts will be realized between 2015 and 2019.

But the size of the cuts themselves are unbelievably small. Sure, politicians will claim to have cut the deficit by $150 billion (…*cough*overtenyears*cough*…)

But what does that mean? Even if every penny that is proposed to be on the budget chopping block remains on the chopping block, the size of the cuts is insignificant.

Over the same 10 year period where Republicans and Democrats are slapping each other on the back over their $150 billion in deficit reductions (…*cough*overtenyears*cough*…) your government is expected to spend some $46.6 TRILLION. Suddenly the $150 billion in reductions (your turn! *cough*overtenyears*cough) is little more than an insignificant rounding error–just 0.3% of funds to be spent.

We colored the area of the rectangle below green in a sea of red to represent the value of the cuts as a percentage of expected spending. You might need to zoom in to find the cuts.

This inability of Congress to address the country’s fiscal woes will lead to economic ruin in the form of crippling tax increases, inflation, and a damaged US Dollar in foreign currency markets. These effects in turn limit the freedom we have to enjoy a fruitful and prosperous lifestyle as we have less disposable income, must pay more for basic goods and services with the money the government was gracious enough not to tax, and an inability to afford goods and services that are not produced here.

All of which begs the question of Speaker Boehner and those who voted for the measure, “Are you kidding us?”