Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Condolences to the People of Norway

The writers of the American Federalist Blog, inactive on this blog though we currently are, would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the people of Norway. Such a tragedy affects us all and we will keep you in our prayers.

You have reminded us of how precious life is and renewed our determination to make every moment of ours count. In the coming days and months, we wish you comfort and strength. May this tragedy bring you closer to one another that you may draw strength and comfort from each other. Finally, may the Lord turn to good that which was intended for evil.

"And that is what evil does: forces us all down dark pathways we otherwise would not have trod." ~Dennis L. McKeirnan in The Dark Tide

"And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." ~ Job 28:28

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Health care as an unalienable right?

Senator Tom Harkin(D-Iowa) recently said:”What this bill does is, we finally take that step, as our leader said earlier, we take that step from health care as a privilege, to health care as an unalienable right of every single, American citizen.”

For the first time in American history, citizens will be forced to buy a consumer related product with no possible way to opt-out. Simply put, if you breathe then you pay.

And that’s not all, this bill contains the framework for a regulatory panel that will set the price that doctors may charge for various procedures, as well as deciding who may access those procedures.

Investor’s Business Daily conducted a poll of health care providers asking them what they will do if Congress passes the kind of health care overhaul that is currently under consideration. And the results were devastating. 45 percent said they would consider quitting or retiring early.
And, why shouldn’t they?

If an individual truly has an unalienable right to healthcare, this implies that the authority of that citizen can compel any health care provider to fulfill that right. But the right to life does not compel another citizen to use their talents to the benefit of others without reimbursement. And neither do any other rights that we may be said to have by the virtue of their origin-our Creator.

For a member of the United States Congress to put forth the notion that doctors, by virtue of their choice of vocation, may be forced to provide services according to the arbitrary whims of a governmental regulatory panel, and that such compulsion is not only consistent with the dictates of our Constitution, but an inalienable right of that doctor’s fellow citizens is outrageous and terribly erroneous.

Let’s remember that the 13th amendment clearly states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”The fact that our founders recognized that our rights are derived from our Creator is critical to understanding the authority behind those rights, as it sets the bar for who may remove those rights from us.

But as the founding fathers made clear, these rights did not originate with our government, but with our Creator and so our government cannot take them away.
So, in saying that the government will be providing an “unalienable right” to health care, Mr. Harkin is claiming the authority of Almighty God for the United States Congress. He is also setting the stage for the removal of all of the other unalienable rights that we, as American citizens claim as the gift of our Creator.

In addition to the clearly blasphemous nature of such a claim, every citizen in America should be made uneasy by the implication that some in Congress are trying to position themselves with a god-like power over our lives. And that is what this health care legislation is all about.

Belanne Pibal, the founder of Irate, Tireless Minority, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Charity Begins At Home

Part of our current problem in addressing the healthcare legislation is that Americans are a generous people. We like to help each other. We all recognize that sometimes unexpected circumstances can hit the best of us with a mountain of debt and no obvious way out. We want to live by the golden rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – because, by and large, we believe that if we help someone else today, someone else will be better able to help us tomorrow. That is an admirable thing. Many times it is the truth as well.(That whole pay it forward deal plays very well into the American ethos.) The problem comes when we try to apply that ethos through the government rather than as individuals and private organizations. Individuals and some private organizations have a Christian mandate to help people and provide charity. Governments have a mandate to govern.
When the government gives charity, it creates no reciprocal obligation in the heart of those who receive that charity. It fosters an attitude that, not only is one a total failure at life who must be grudgingly rescued by his or her betters, but that one is entitled, by the inability to succeed at life, to that charity and need not pay it forward by word or deed. However, if your neighbor or church steps up and pays your mortgage for a hard month, or buys groceries or Christmas presents for a family that can’t afford them, that creates a thankful heart(usually) and a reciprocal obligation to give back to that neighbor or community group in some way.
Perhaps the fact that there is no way to give back to the government is the culprit. Instead of a feeling of thankfulness, the recipient is left with a sense of frustration and failure. With a neighbor or a neighborhood church, there are opportunities to help and return the favor. Taking on supervision of the Sunday school classes, shoveling the helpful neighbor’s walk in the winter or even sharing some fresh baking or inviting them to dinner. This creates a feeling of fulfillment and self sufficiency. It gives the recipient of that charity the opportunity to demonstrate to that church or neighbor that they are someone who was worthy of such charity. That they understand the obligations of a community to care for each other.
This is one of the reasons that government entitlements and charity are a failure and degrading to the overall character of the nation. How does government charity provide a picture of community support, self respect, cheerful giving and true charity when our children see their parents grumbling over the taxes that are taken from us to provide such charity? What message does it send when they see the recipients of government charity grumbling at how it should be better or how it didn’t really meet their needs? What message does it send to the children who are supported by such largesse? How does that encourage our children to continue our tradition of generosity? When our children see that those who are providing this charity (the taxpayers) are made the poorer by it and involuntarily at that.
Voluntary charity is a blessing for both the provider and the recipient. Involuntary charity is not charity, it is wealth redistribution. We the People need to recognize that, while government may be a fine vessel for the governing of a people, it is not a fit vessel for works of charity.
Belanne Pibal is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

How Both Parties Lost The People

The founders of this country were possessed of the revolutionary notion that the supreme power of our government resides in the people. The Declaration of Independence stated “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. Our Constitution, the very document that outlines the principles by which this nation is to be governed begins:”We the People”, indicating that the Constitution itself is a statement made by the”consent of the governed”.

The recent race for New York’s 23rd district as well as the recent Rasmussen poll showing that TEA Party candidates would be more likely to win than republican candidates, are demonstrations that the people are beginning to reclaim that power from the political party establishments, by whom it has been usurped. That’s right, usurped, by the established political parties. Here’s a short explanation of how we have come to the current state of the GOP and the Democratic party:

A group of Americans have similar values. They decide to pool their resources to find and financially support the candidacy of legislators who share those values and, as time goes by, the group expands and gets more and more resources donated to them by other like minded Americans for the purpose of supporting candidates who share their core values. This support does not come with strings attached (other than maybe attendance and speeches at a few group functions for the sake of courtesy and information sharing). It doesn’t need to attach strings, because the basic premise is that the candidate will be a person of strong moral fiber who shares the core values of the group and will vote according to those values, regardless of how the group thinks the legislator should vote.

Eventually, someone who doesn’t care a bit about the core values decides that the power of that organization is attractive and the group now has a problem.

At some point these “privateers” get control (because such people like power, they will take positions of responsibility within the group to obtain that power). And then they begin to suggest that it is inefficient to support candidates who “cannot” win and that the resources of the group are best spent on candidates who can win. They then also argue that the financial and personal resources of the group can, or should, be used as a goad to coerce the candidate to vote as the group desires once he/she has been elected.

Here’s the tricky bit.

At some point, “candidates who can win” turns into “candidates who can win, regardless of whether their core values align with those of the group.” There is a concurrent rise in the belief that the candidate’s values do not have to match those of the group, because the group wields the re-election resources as a whip to ensure that the candidate votes the way they are told.

This is the point at which the organization has usurped the power of “We the People”. For whatever reason, the political parties and their supporters have not viewed this as an ethical breach, although, it is nothing more or less than the purchase of legislative votes-votes that belong to We the People, not to either party. Candidates who accept such aid are, by definition, people lacking in strength of character, because they have agreed, outright or by implication, to sell their votes in exchange for the support of a political party. This is where we find ourselves now.

The GOP and the Democratic Party have turned that corner and are no longer representing the Americans who started them or their core values. Core values are completely irrelevant to these groups and that’s why they no longer have or deserve the support of the folks who want candidates with those core values. If these parties do not change, so that they once again represent the core values of their base, so that they are not in the position of purchasing the legislative votes of those candidates who have been elected with their “support”, they will cease to exist as Americans step up to their individual responsibility to elect people of character who share their core values. If candidates do not show the strength of character demanded by the duties of governing a free people, they will find themselves unemployed.

May the American people make our founders proud by reclaiming our supreme authority over our government.

Belanne Pibal is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guilt Through Television

As though it wasn’t enough to have the government increasing our debt exponentially and taking over whole sectors of the economy, now Americans will also be assaulted with guilt through their televisions. It’s not enough for this administration that Americans will be paying for their excesses for generations to come, we must also volunteer to spread their propaganda. Hollywood has acquiesced to requests from the government to include promotion for the “iParticipate” program. This is not just accepting advertising for that propaganda machine, but the actual inclusion of encouragement to participate written right into the scripts of weekly or even daily television shows for the week of Oct. 19th-25th. The sites you may be directed to are run by the Entertainment Industry Foundation (iParticipate.org), the AARP (Create the Good.com) and the government itself (serve.gov).

While Americans are among the most generous of people with our time and our money, apparently we are not volunteering for the “right” things. Here are just a few of the opportunities available at the sites that will be touting this propaganda during the week of Oct. 19th-25th.

There is the opportunity to “refute the lies” about Mr. Obama’s proposed healthcare plan through participation in a volunteer opportunity labeled “How to Spread the truth about Healthcare Reform” complete with a propaganda video showing bloggers and radio talk show hosts as a sneering masked woman named Miss Information. They want these volunteers to become unpaid trolls on blogs, talk radio and websites that oppose the administration’s healthcare agenda.

Planned Parenthood wants volunteers to push their political agenda in the upcoming healthcare legislation. Namely that the government should provide for elective medical procedures on the taxpayers dime.

The Secular Student Alliance, on serve.gov, wants help to support and spread atheism and secular thinking among schoolchildren. Why should parents burden themselves with providing a religious education when the government can find volunteers to do it for them? Perhaps the folks at serve.gov forgot the 1st amendment? ”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” While this isn’t establishing a law, only a volunteer opportunity, why should these religions be promoted at taxpayer expense? (Atheism requires faith in the notion that there is no God, thus it is a religion.)

Serve.gov is also looking for executive level volunteers who consider Iraqis to be “fully human” (Americans everywhere should find the implications of that phraseology insulting.)for an opportunity labeled “Provide Policy Guidance to correct Iraq Policy”. Apparently all that spending did not include money to keep our top brass informed on foreign policy and military matters and volunteers are needed to correct that deficiency. (See bottom of article for the text included on that page.)

Then there is the opportunity to become a “Global Warming Ambassador” This nifty little deal is sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, a strong supporter of Cap and Trade legislation. You too can tell folks that they should want to pay more for the energy supplies they need to survive because disputed and manipulated data on global temperatures has resulted in scientifically questionable conclusions.

Not all of the volunteer opportunities are manipulative propaganda, but Americans may want to ask themselves why there are any. The pressure to insert this administration’s propaganda into television programming and volunteer sites is a truly outrageous abuse of government power. One might ask who is paying the salaries of those who researched and wrote these volunteer opportunities as well as who is funding serve.gov. The unfortunate answer is almost certainly that the money for this is coming from the American taxpayer. The government is supposed to maintain our freedoms, not tell us what to do with them and certainly not to dictate to us how to use our free time. Americans are quite able to find volunteer and political advocacy opportunities, if that’s how they choose to use their free time, without being manipulated into serving a government agenda under the guise of volunteerism or service.

Belanne Pibal is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Author's note: All of the links originally included in this article have been adjusted, one assumes as the result of a reasonably competent government web-site manager, so that, instead of going to the specific pages mentioned, they all go to the serve.gov start page. For this reason, I have not included those links in the re-posting of this article. I saved the webpage to my computer for the most egregious of those links as I anticipated that such would be the case. I have included the text of that page here.

Here is the relevant text of that page:"

Provide Policy Guidance to correct Iraq Policy
Posted By: The Project to Stabilize Iraq

Description: Explain to the President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, Special Envoy, CENTCOM Commander and Ambassador the foundations of Arab society, the values of Arab people, how and why the current approach is injuring US national security, and what should be done instead. Most of the effort of this project will be aimed at getting face time with the identified individuals. Only about 45 minutes per briefing will be required to conduct actual explanations. Assume 15 hours of prep for each briefing.

Dates: Now/Anytime

Days: Daily

Location: Washington, DC See Map

Tasks for Volunteers: Mandatory: must have executive level experience developing and providing policy analysis and advice concerning international relations with the Arab world. Mandatory: must respect the people, culture and values of Iraqis. Must consider Iraqis fully human. Desired: Relevant Academic and publishing credentials

Learn More: Email this address Stabilize_Iraq@yahoo.com

Available to: Men/Women

Details: Are attendees paid? No
Disability friendly No

Type: Education"

I felt compelled to include this, because I don't want folks to assume that I am lying when the link takes them to a portal page rather than the actual "volunteer opportunity".

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Taxation with Manipulation

Why is the United States tax code so complicated? One might think that our elected representatives could manage the chore of taxing people with a few relatively simple and easily understood words. Instead Americans are subject to thousands of pages of ever changing regulations. What possible use are all those regulations?

There have been several calls in the recent past for simplification of the tax system in America. They seem to have boiled down to two options: the fair tax and the flat tax. The fair tax (HR 25,/S 296) is a sales tax. It is paid once, at the point of purchase. The flat tax is a system whereby everyone is taxed the same percentage of their income. The rich would pay more because they make more. Both plans contain provisions by which those below the poverty level would receive a refund. There are a number of concerns with both of these plans, mostly regarding changes to the status quo and how those changes will affect the nation.

Will America see either one of these proposals come to a vote, much less enactment? It’s doubtful for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that the tax code is being used to influence the behavior of American citizens. The tax code is used as both the carrot and the stick. It rewards “good” behavior and it is used to punish “bad” behavior. The definition of “good” and “bad” is often dependent upon whomever is in power at the time. How much would a beer or a pack of cigarettes cost you without the “sin tax”? Would you really donate as much to that charity if it wasn’t the end of a year in which you needed another tax write-off? How about installing those new, energy efficient windows-they ones approved for the tax break?

Another reason the tax system hasn’t been simplified is because the current tax system isn’t just being used as a way to collect revenue for the government and influence behavior. It is a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of every American citizen. It is one of the largest and most effective law enforcement tools the government has. How can individual Americans scrutinize the thousands of pages of tax code that are changed and amended every single year to be sure they have done everything as they should? What American does not feel the least bit of trepidation when the time comes to sign their tax returns certifying that “to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete”?

Is this really an appropriate use of the tax system? Do the words ”to promote the general welfare” grant authority to the government for this kind of social engineering, experimentation and tyrannical oversight of our personal finances? Common sense and the most cursory of readings of our founder’s writings indicate otherwise. And yet, should any of the current healthcare proposals be passed, Americans will all be making healthcare choices determined by the fact that we will all be subject to being “taxed” for not obtaining “government approved healthcare.” We may even go to jail for non-compliance. Not to promote the general welfare, but to implement the policies of a president and administration who believe that the fruits of our labor should be “redistributed” according to their values, not ours.

Belanne Pibal is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Congress Will Not Listen On Health Care

It seems that our legislators, despite the thousands who showed up at their town halls to protest such measures, despite the tens of thousands attending other TEA Parties across the nation all year and despite the millions attending various 9/12 rallies, still do not understand the message the American people are sending. The American people want government to resume it’s proper, Constitutional role. For a good example, let’s look at the current healthcare debate.

Our legislators continue to insist that “something must be done” to control healthcare costs and that “something” must involve at least a partial government takeover of our healthcare system. Many of them profess alarm at the anger and opposition they are seeing, but refuse to believe that American citizens are rejecting the entire notion of government run healthcare. They often suggest that those who oppose their legislative attempts to take control of the healthcare system are lacking in compassion. Many of them have referred to large segments of the American population in derogatory terms. It is time for them to wake up.

This debate is not just about healthcare, it is about the foundational principles of this republic. The issue is whether or not we, as individuals, have the right to control our own lives and property and to make our own decisions about our healthcare. Doctors are professionals, providing a service that many times costs more than it should because of a system already filled with intrusive, overbearing, needless, bureaucratic, governmental interference. If our legislators are truly interested in lowering healthcare costs, perhaps they should consider deregulation and tort reform. Perhaps they should allow interstate competition for health insurance companies. In other words, they could consider getting the government out of the way and letting the free market work.

For anyone, least of all our elected officials, to suggest that those who oppose government run healthcare are lacking in compassion, when the question before us as a nation has little or nothing to do with compassion for one’s fellow man, is outrageous. Americans donate more of their time and money to charitable and service efforts than the people of any other nation. As was noted in the Seattle Times in a 2007 article: “Americans give twice as much as the next-most-charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the United States ranked first at 1.7 percent. Britain was next at 0.73 percent, while France, with a 0.14 percent rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany”. Notice that the USA gave more than twice as much as the 2nd place nation.

Government run programs are not known for compassion. Witness Oregon’s response to Barbara Wagener, a woman suffering with lung cancer. The state health plan refused to pay for her cancer drugs, but offered to pay for palliative care, including drugs she could use to commit suicide.

The government is known for corruption and fiscal irresponsibility. The American people are known for compassion and charity.

Listen carefully legislators. Americans as a whole are a compassionate and giving people and we do not want government run healthcare. Americans want the freedom to make our own choices, even if that means we occasionally fail to make good choices. It is not the government’s job to control the choices we make with our freedom, it is the government’s job to make sure we have the freedom to make those choices. The current administration and Congress seem disturbingly unwilling to grant that point, and that is why millions are gathering to peacefully protest the actions of this administration and this Congress.

Belanne Pibal is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.