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How To Be An Effective Voter

Written on January 17, 2015 at 12:11 am, by

Each election cycle we are presented with the same dilemma; who should I vote for? We compare each candidates stance on issues with our own. And we make the decision as to whether we will vote for candidate A or B.

But lets take a moment and examine this. We know that a politician can only be elected if they sway enough voters their way. Given that Maine has three political parties and that the Republicans are far from holding a majority, it is for all practical purposes impossible for a Republican to get elected without having to court Democrats, Greens or independents.

When running for office a politician’s first task is to secure his/her party base. Then he/she starts to concentrate on swing voters. Swing voters may or may not agree on all issues in regards to party stance. Therefor it is necessary for a politician to have to shift his/her principles enough to attract un-enrolled voters or voters from the opposite party. In a three way race a politician needs 34 % or more of the vote. In a two way race 51%. Republicans in Maine hold under 30% voter enrollment. Democrats slightly more.

This puts the swing voter in a position of controlling the issues. Its my contention that the more people we can encourage to un-enroll the less power the parties will have. If like minded independents organize, they can control or even disenfranchise political parties.

If your leaning towards starting a third party, then good luck. First the two parties have the rules locked down to make it very difficult to start a third party and then keep party status. The other problem is you’re once again stuck in the same paradigm of trying to attracts swing voters.

The solution to our problem is eliminate the party system. Take away the party’s ability to control the agenda and the ballot, and you open the electorate to a host of new ideas, possibilities and choices. And you know what, because party enrollment is so small, its really not that hard to have either party loose its party status. Both sides are seeing a decline in enrollment. Its time we stop being taken for granted. Un-enroll, encourage our friends to un-enroll and force politicians to earn our vote.

There is a reason why un-enrolled voters are called independents. Think about it.


Net Neutrality = Government Censorship In Disguise

Written on November 18, 2014 at 2:31 pm, by

Net Neutrality is a bad idea. In essence the government is asking to manage bandwidth through regulations.

First, understand bandwidth is a finite resource. Every time you connect a computer to the internet, you are competing for bandwidth with every other computer that is connected. For example you may be playing an on-line game, your neighbor may be streaming a Netflix movie. Times that by millions. Thats where routers come in. They are the traffic cop of the internet. But the government can’t manage millions of routers.

The only way they ( the government) can manage bandwidth is to regulate content. In other words, they choose who’s content is prioritized or allowed. The government claims that ISPs will give preferential treatment to some internet services over others and that they can do that better. How will they decide? Should they give it to Netflix, or Hulu, or or maybe to YouTube?

Bandwidth management is complex. Its much like supply and demand.
The question to ask is how will the government decide who gets what bandwidth?
The fact of the matter is, government is afraid of the internet. Its afraid it can’t control the flow of ideas….control speech. The government can’t wait to get their hands on it. This is their excuse to do so. Do you really want that? I don’t.

Charity and Mutual Aid Versus Government Welfare

Written on October 7, 2014 at 4:28 am, by

There was a time when government did not provide a safety net for people. Instead, we relied on ourselves, our neighbors, and our community. We did so by banding together and forming associations, clubs, guilds or fraternities. We’ve all seen the Mason Halls, the Elk’s Clubs. At one time these organizations provided insurance against unexpected events like sickness, old age or death. Members pledged to help one another knowing they could expect the same when they too fell on tough times.

Laborers in the same occupations formed self-governing guilds or fraternities. Individuals who joined paid membership dues, building a trust used to help each other in times of trouble. Members received benefits like sick pay, medical care, burial expenses, and survivor’s benefits. Some fraternities grew into national associations with hundreds of thousands of members. By 1920, nearly 30 percent of all adults belonged to fraternal societies.

Immigrants also formed associations, such as the National Slovak Society. and the Hebrew Immigrants Aid Society. African Americans organized fraternal orders similar to the Elks. In 1918 its estimated that more than 275,000 blacks belonged to over 4000 associations in Chicago alone.

An interesting aspect of of these associations is how they dealt with the problem of people trying to take advantage of the system. Today its not unusual to hear about massive fraud and abuse of welfare programs. To add insult to injury, the government is not held accountable ,but merely give us lip service by promising to stop the problem. Funny how it never does stop.

Fraternal associations on the other hand often emphasized a code of ethics, enforcing a moral discipline affecting personal behavior. Fellowship and solidarity discouraged members from claiming benefits without good cause. They adopted rules to ensure adherence to them. For example a member could be denied benefits because of malingering, poor choices or immoral conduct. Organizations could require members to provide a doctor’s note in order to claim sickness benefits. Other organizations contracted with a “lodge doctor,” to provide medical care to all its members for a fixed price.

Charitable institutions also play an important role in civil society. Critics often state “If you abolish welfare children and the elderly will starve or die.” Nothing could be further form the truth. People have a natural desire to help the less fortunate. We form groups ranging from local soup kitchens and church charity bazaars to national organizations like the United Way, the Salvation Army and Doctors without Borders. Americans gave over 300 million dollars to charity to help out Hurricane Katrina victims. We are a caring people. We don’t want to see people go hungry or live in poverty.

In addition to more formal associations people hold socials gathered for drinking, eating and dancing. These socials were once used for advice or to help newlyweds start a new life. We still hold them today for families who need extra financial help with someone who is ill or perhaps lost their home due to fire. Known as Keh; Korean Americans get together once a month for dinner, socializing, advice, and the contribution of money to a common pot to be given each month to one participant.

Government safety nets harm all of society in many ways. Government programs have an incentive to keep people impoverished. When we let government take over we are trapping people in poverty and making it difficult for them to become independent, self sufficient and prosper. We take their pride, their self respect and dignity away. The welfare system encourages poor life choices such as unwed motherhood or drug addiction.

Society is harmed by welfare in other ways too. We begin to think if government is supposed to feed the poor, then charities are no longer needed. It discourages charitable giving and life becomes less fulfilling and more self centered. In the end civil society is replaced by the heartless nanny state.

If we truly want to end hunger and poverty, we need to see the solution is not government subsidies and welfare, but rather increasing and spreading wealth. A free market economy eases and even eliminates poverty. Capitalism is responsible for lifting more people out of poverty than any other system in the history of the world.

The Medicaid Fallacy

Written on April 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm, by

As are many states, the Maine legislature is fighting tooth and nail to expand Medicaid under the hope that if more people have health-care coverage, the more healthy the population will be. In reality it is the opposite. You may ask how can that be. The short answer is Medicaid drives up costs and produces poorer medical treatment outcomes. That sounds backwards doesn’t it. Lets take a closer look to see why.

Medicaid is a publicly funded health insurance program run by the state and subsidized by the federal government. The Federal government matches Maine’s spending at 61.8% That means for every dollar Medicaid spends 61.8 cents comes from Washington. There is no cap on this subsidy so the more Maine spends, the more Washington pitches in.

Because of the matching fund formula states like Maine are reluctant to adopt cost-reducing policies. This creates a bias in favor of maintaining or expanding the program. Additionally, any savings a state realizes must be shared equally with the federal government, further reducing incentives to cut costs.

Medicaid payments for care vary from 58% to 75% of what private insurance pays for the the same care. In addition excessive and complex paperwork result in late payments or denial or payment. As a result Doctors are reluctant to accept Medicaid clients. Or the reduced reimbursement fee is passed on to patients with private insurance. The end result is an over all reduction the availability of health care for Medicaid recipients.

Medicaid contributes to poorer treatment outcome. Limited access to doctors and treatment are likely to cause patients to put off seeing doctors and are more likely to use emergency care. Medicaid recipients are three times more likely to use emergency room than patients with private insurance. As a result patients on Medicaid have a greater frequency of a late diagnosis. As a result patients on average stay an extra three days in hospital visits over patients with private insurance. The mortality rate among Medicaid patients is twice that of a patient with private insurance.

Last but not least Medicaid has shown no overall positive effect on health for the general population. Data from the Oregon Study ( a two year randomized controlled study) suggests that Medicaid has no real impact o the over all health of Oregon’s population. The two year study revealed that there was no change in hypertension or high cholesterol. In fact the risk of diabetes increased. The only positive outcome was a reduction in depression.

Instead of expanding Medicaid it should be at a minimum be reformed. For example, replacing the matching grant formula with fixed payment will give states freer reign to adopt reform without seeking permission and give states stronger financial incentives and greater ability to manage their programs. By using block grants you can create a fixed grant, that is indexed to inflation. Block grants do not increase as program spending increases. This gives states a stronger incentive to control costs without penalizing them.

In conclusion Medicaid is the largest public health program for low-income individuals and families. Expanding Medicaid recipients will add significantly to the cost of health care and will result in lower patient outcomes for the poor enrolled in Medicaid and no significant change in the overall health of Mainers. Clearly private insurance is a better alternative. it should be the goal of the federal and state government to exit the insurance market all together and let free markets and consumers control costs.

Sources: “Oregon Experiment – Effects of Medicaid on Clinical Outcomes” New England Journal of Medicine and “The Economics of Medicaid” Mercatus Center

Freedom of Association

Written on November 21, 2013 at 9:09 am, by

The article referenced below is a great example of one class of individuals having rights over another. A photographer is being forced to shoot a lesbian wedding. Somehow I don’t think that is how it is supposed to work. But then I guess freedom of association was thrown out long ago with the advent of civil rights.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people living their lives as they see fit. I don’t care about your sexual preferences, race or religion. Its really none of my business. But its supposed to work both ways.  In this example if someone refuses to do business with you for whatever reason that may be , it is simply an opportunity for another entrepreneur to step in.

I recall wanting to rent a house many years back. Just before signing the lease, the owner told me he and his wife did not want to rent to me because they felt it was immoral to have an unmarried couple living on their property. Could I have complained? Was it inconvenient? Yes to both questions. But then why would I want to associate with people that draconian? Instead I respected their beliefs and their right to use their property as they see fit. So I looked for another house to rent. On that note, I cannot imagine how well the photo shoot would turn out. Would you want someone to photograph your wedding against their will?

The Constitutional Right to Conscript a Wedding Photographer

Alternatives to Government Services

Written on June 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm, by

Here is an interesting column I stumbled across entitled “How Neighbors are Better than Government Services” The following two paragraphs really stand out:

“The United States were deliberately constructed to minimize control by establishing mere framework within which individuals could voluntarily operate without being violated by others. We’re light years away from that concept now… in fact, in many ways we are less free than China, Cuba, or Russia. How? Bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy is fundamentally opposed to voluntary action. Bureaucracy is governance by non-elected officials. Those officials are paid by funds taken involuntarily from private individuals under threat of imprisonment and/or theft of property.”

To read the original article click here.

The Ten Principles of a Free Society:

Written on May 22, 2013 at 6:42 am, by

1. Rights belong to individuals, not groups; they derive from our nature and can neither be granted nor taken away by government.

2. All peaceful, voluntary economic and social associations are permitted; consent is the basis of the social and economic order.

3. Justly acquired property is privately owned by individuals and voluntary groups, and this ownership cannot be arbitrarily voided by govenments.

4. Government may not redistribute private wealth or grant special privileges to any individual or group.

5. Individuals are responsible for their own actions; government cannot and should not protect us from ourselves.

6. Government may not claim the monopoly over a people’s money and government must never engage in official counterfeiting, even in the name of macroeconomic stability.

7. Aggressive wars, even when called preventive, and even when they pertain only to trade relations, are forbidden.

8. Jury nullification, that is, the right of jurors to judge the law as well as the facts, is a right of the people and the courtroom norm.

9. All forms of involuntary servitude are prohibited, not only slavery but also conscription, forced association, and forced welfare distribution.

10. Government must obey the law that it expects other people to obey and thereby must never use force to mold behavior, manipulate social outcomes, manage the economy, or tell other countries how to behave.

~ Ron Paul, “Liberty Defined”

Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?

Written on February 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm, by

What a very interesting article. It resonates with me to my core. It speaks of a GOP that is out of touch with Americans. A party that seems self centered and blind to today’s reality and doomed to be trivialized because of its greed, inability to connect to today’s American and a lack of vision.

Data shows many Americans, especially our youth, are very much in favor of limited government AND the freedom to live our lives without interference of government. Or as Jefferson so eloquently put it “… the pursuit of Happiness.” The problem is the GOP is perceived as old and close-minded.

Many people voted for Obama even though his views are contrary to their beliefs. You have to ask why that is. The author provides us with plenty of proof the issue is an out of touch and out of date GOP.

Until the GOP changes this perception it will be marginalized and irrelevant. That is until there is a generational change in leadership. Something that will not take place for at least another ten to twenty years. Until then the our country will move further from the ideals we hold dear; liberty and prosperity for all by a very cleaver and organized left wing. Wake up GOP!

Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?

The Absurdity of It All

Written on February 3, 2013 at 8:20 am, by

The 126th legislature, as of this writing, has posted 86 bills. In addition, our state government has a $35 million dollar shortfall. Both Republicans and Democrats are arguing. One side claims children will starve and the elderly will freeze to death if we don’t raise taxes. The other side calls for more efficient government and less fraud and abuse. Both want to borrow to pay the bills. Neither wants to look address the real problem; failing programs and an overbearing government that has inserted itself in every facet of our lives.

A quick review of a few of those bills reveals how deep our government has indeed inserted itself. It demonstrates how we have allowed a body of people in Augusta to control every aspect, if not every detail of our lives.

  • LD2: Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 252: Rules Governing Certification of Seed Potatoes in the State of Maine, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
  • LD5: An Act To Make Changes to the Potato Marketing Improvement Fund
  • LD9: An Act To Allow the Maine Potato Board To Have Access to Information Regarding the Potato Tax
  • LD6: An Act To Prohibit a Requirement That a Superintendent Reside in the School Administrative Unit
  • LD12; Resolve, Directing the Department of Transportation To Add a Reference to the Katahdin Trail to the Sign for the First Newport Exit on Interstate 95 North
  • LD13: Resolve, Directing the Maine Turnpike Authority To Place Signs Directing Motorists to Berwick Academy

You have to think their responsibilities are unfathomable. They include the power to decide how to grow and market potatoes, where school superintendents are permitted to live and what signs should be mounted on the side of our roads and highways. All kidding aside, can anyone see the absurdity of all this?

Obviously politicians have happily made us their wards. They are now our nanny’s treating us like children, unable to make decisions for ourselves. They have taken away the power and the incentive for us to think and make decisions for ourselves. And, we are guilty of letting them.

As far as I know, farmers have been able to grow and market their products for hundreds of years. I’m also pretty sure local communities can determine for themselves where Superintendants can live. Do we really want 188 strangers making decision for us? Or are we adults capable of taking responsibility for our own lives.  If not, then we are no longer free. I prefer to believe the later.

The Fiscal Cliff: A Game of Charade

Written on January 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm, by

The United States was saved from a fiasco that would have devastated our very lives. Thank goodness! We should all contact our Representatives and praise them for averting yet another crisis. </sarcasm>

Now lets look at reality for just a moment. There was no crisis. It was a game of charades. We simply need to spend less than we take in. Not rocket science, not even advanced economics.

So who did win? Why all the hullabaloo? With all of this effort someone must have gained something? Well lets take a look at corporate America. Better yet, lets zero in on the entertainment industry. In fact lets look at just one entertainment corporation; Disney.

Included in the bill was the renewal of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004.  In this act was buried a tax credit for the film industry. Specifically they will receive a tax deduction for the first $15 million dollars used to produce each movie or TV show filmed in the United States. Ka-ching! The tax deduction  jumps to $20 million if filming takes place in a low-income community. Ka-ching! For family friendly Disney that meant $110 million in 2010, $183 million in 2011 and is projected to be $200 million in 2013. Since the ACT was passed in 2004, Disney received a total of $718 million in public dollars while earning $40.9 billion in revenue.

All the while Congress and the President squabble about Millionaires who don’t pay their fair share. An amount, by the way, that would be consumed in less than two weeks. With all of our fiscal woes, corporate welfare continues in mass. In the mean time our government continues to borrow $600+ Billion annually to pay its debt, indefinitely.

I don’t know about you, but I’m outraged. I’m tired of this crony capitalism. Where politicians and corporate executives continue to thrive, while we get an occasional bone thrown our way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for handouts. I want us to get our debt in order and a fair and equitable tax system. Is that not reasonable?