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So, What are Values Anyway? By Branehart

So, What are Values Anyway?

By Branehart

It isn’t hard to hear about “values”. Politicians and the media often mention “high moral values” and “core values” and “family values”. What is harder, and what the politicians and media typically don’t help much with, is getting a clear understanding of exactly what “values” are. The word is thrown around loosely, often being used to mean things it doesn’t like, such as beliefs or morals. Though related to them, these are not really values.

This is a huge problem because a correct understanding of values is essential for understanding and fighting for individual rights, political freedom and limited government. Values, properly defined, are the things, both concrete and abstract, that are valuable to living creatures of all kinds including humans for a purpose, with that purpose ultimately being to further their survival. Values for plants, for example, include water, sunlight, and minerals in the soil. For animals, consider the following scene in Alaska; A group of tourists are standing on the edge of a scenic rushing stream with a forest on the other side. Suddenly a large black or grizzly bear charges out of the forest towards the crowd. In the middle of the stream it turns, catching fish in its mouth. The bear is pursuing and achieving its values, in this case, food.

Only living things can have values. Only living things can have a purpose – their continued survival as living things – for which things can be of value. Inanimate objects such as rocks, automobiles, computers, oceans, buildings, planets and the like do not have a purpose for which they need to gain or seek anything, so nothing can be of value to them.

For humans, values include both necessities for living as well as things that may not be necessary but make life more enjoyable. Food, clothing, housing, employment, education, comaraderie, appreciation from others for the good one does, good health, financial security, leisure, romance, children, consumer goods, a good credit rating and lots of other things are all human values.

For living things other than humans, achieving values leads to satisfaction. When a bear catches a fish in an Alaskan stream, it is satisfied. But for something to be a value for humans its’ achievement must not lead merely to satisfaction, but additionally to happiness. Happiness is an enduring satisfaction, with “no bitter aftertaste”. Happiness results from something that is objectively beneficial to a person’s life, rather than just something someone wants but either knows or should know would be harmful to it. For example, a man meets a woman whom he gets to know, trust, and enjoys being with. He has similar interests and enjoys her company. After knowing each other a few years he asks her to marry him, she says yes, and he is happy. In contrast, a dictator or mafia hit man murders an innocent man, steals his property, or blackmails him. He may be satisfied because he accomplished his mission but certainly isn’t happy.

For something to be a value, it must be real. For example, to get nutrition necessary to avoid starving, living things must consume real food, not imaginary food or poison. To get energy and heat, you can’t burn ersatz coal; you have to burn genuine coal. Real can also mean abstract, as long as there is ultimately a real world benefit; For example, rights under a contract to receive a benefit can be a value. On the other hand, scams, snake oil, and 72 virgins in heaven are of no help to living things for achieving anything and therefore are not legitimate values regardless of whether anyone subjectively considers them to be or not.

Values are contextual. In one context something may be a perfectly fine value because it objectively benefits someone’s life while in another it could be extremely harmful. Cigarettes are a good illustration. Smoke a few of them and you’ll feel great, without getting high or hallucinating (which is objectively harmful because it cuts you off from reality). Smoke too many of them for too long, however, and they could kill you. They are still the same cigarettes, but their status as a value can change based on the circumstances.

One context where something is never a value for humans is when it is gotten by initiating, or starting, force against other people. Force not only includes physical means like beating or shooting someone, defaming him, wrongfully prosecuting or incarcerating him, or stealing his property (or credible threats to do any of these), but also swindling him through fraud. For someone to get something belonging to someone else and have it remain a value, it must be earned or otherwise given by voluntary, uncoerced consent. Or: you can be a banker, but not a bank robber.

When someone tries to obtain something by force, it ceases to be a value for his life and instead becomes detrimental to it. It becomes detrimental because it entitles the victim to retaliate against the perpetrator, which can result in legal penalties including loss of liberty through incarceration, loss of property through damages and fines and, in capital cases, even loss of life itself. Further, if a particular country’s government allows anyone to start the use of force against others as an official policy, a universal precedent is set for anyone to use it. This leads to anarchy where survival becomes difficult if not impossible, where happiness is unattainable and, as Thomas Hobbes once stated, “life is brutish and short”. For example, if a dictator initiates force against his subjects, he essentially opens the door for them to rise up and turn the tables on him when the conditions are right. Bastille Day in France, the fall of Shanghai to Mao in China, and Castro’s march on Havana are all examples. In other words, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

“For human beings, the two most important values are purpose and thinking.”

A purpose is a reason for choosing almost all of your other values. It’s a value because it helps determine and organize your other values. For most people their purpose is their career, as opposed to hobbies. Choosing a particular career will determine a whole bunch of other values, i.e., which skills one will need to develop, what kind of education he’ll need to get, which people he will have to meet and socialize with to assist him, and maybe even where he’ll have to live.

People need a purpose in life because without one we would have no idea from the vast number of possibilities which values to choose. As humans our values are never chosen for us automatically at any point during our lives; we have to consciously select them. This is different from other living things like the bear in the previous example. When the bear catches the fish in the stream, it doesn’t have to figure out how or choose to do it; it just does it automatically, as it does with all of its values. (For more information, watch for an upcoming blog post on purpose.)

The other value, thinking (also called reason), is important because it enables you to get all of your other values. Thinking is the process of taking in information about reality and turning it into knowledge useful for achieving values. Because values must be real, getting accurate information about reality is essential to live. This information must then be integrated with the requirements of our survival so that we can figure out whether something is a value for it or not.

Developing thinking skills is essential for people because, as said previously, we do not act automatically to survive; unlike lower animals we have to figure out how. We have no automatic knowledge in this regard. We have to consciously examine what’s out there and determine if it is helpful or harmful. For example, a primitive tribesman is hungry and sees an animal. Is it good to eat, like a tuna or salmon? Or is it deadly poisonous, like a pufferfish? If he wants to tempt eating it, what does he have to do to capture it? If he tried using his hands, would it get away? Or slash him to ribbons with sharp teeth and claws? Or poison him with venom? And if he did manage to capture it, how would he make it safe to eat? Eat it raw? Or cook it first? And if he does cook it, does he kill it first (as with most animals) or cook it while it’s still alive (i.e., lobster)? For other living things like the bear, there is no concern with such issues. But for us there is. (Watch for an upcoming blog on the thinking process.)

Much of the confusion surrounding the concept of values comes from the fact that it is easily misused, usually to mean virtues. The difference between values and virtues is that values are the things that living things want to get and use to survive, while virtues are character traits people have that help us get our values. As stated previously, values include having a purpose and thinking skills sufficient to get other values. Virtues, in contrast, include: rationality (which means living by thinking, as opposed to living mindlessly by emotional whim), independence of judgment (meaning thinking for oneself about what he observes or is told about an issue, rather than mindlessly accepting someone else’s conclusion about it), justice (treating other people well if they think, and poorly if they do not), pride (as opposed to arrogance or excessive humility, meaning being committed to living by thinking), integrity (being consistent in living by thinking, rather than lapsing into mindlessness periodically), productiveness (being in favor of achieving values), and honesty (being committed to not faking reality). In summary, virtuous behavior is mindful, thinking behavior.

Being clear about the meaning of values is essential for achieving the values of the Tea Party: individual rights, limited government, and fiscal responsibility. For example, the most fundamental of all rights, the right to the pursuit of happiness, means the ability without permission to choose the values one wants and pursue them. Without understanding values, understanding the right to the pursuit of happiness becomes impossible, which in turn makes incomprehensible the rights to life, liberty and property, which are derived from it. And without an understanding of individual rights, it becomes extremely difficult to fight for political freedom and limited government. (Watch for an upcoming post on individual rights.) To succeed in our fight, we must first understand the meaning of values.

Why our Government Mistreats our Troops: By Wald Branehart

“Why our Government Mistreats our Troops”

 By: Wald Branehart
Quite possibly the U.S. Military is the world’s best, not only in capability but also in benevolence. It successfully saved South Korea from the ravages of communism, transformed the barbaric dictatorships of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan into two of the world’s wealthiest nations, and even stared down the Soviet Union.  The federal government, however, treats the military with disdain if not outright disrespect.  Secretary of State John Kerry has compared the actions of our soldiers to the atrocities of Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has equated water boarding with torture.  Prosecutors regularly fly-speck the actions of combat personnel, ready to prosecute them vigorously for even slight violations of unduly burdensome rules of engagement. And Veterans’ Administration bureaucrats have been accused of falsifying veterans’ medical records in VA hospitals, leading to several deaths.  Why on earth does this grotesque injustice occur?
The answer has to do with an inherent conflict of interest within the governments of free countries between the military and civilian sides of the government. Often, in countries without mandatory military service where people are free to choose the values they want and pursue their own happiness by right, those who enlist in the military appreciate this freedom and individual rights so much they are literally willing to give up their lives to defend them.
Not so on the civilian side of government.  By its nature governments must use force to protect people against violations of rights.  This ability to use force, however, very often attracts the kind of people a government is supposed to protect everyone against: power lusters who want to live off others as bloodsuckers by assaulting, robbing or defrauding them.  Positions in government bureaucracies give such people opportunities to do this under color of law, making it far easier to get away with it long term than if they had to resort to street thuggery. To these power lusters freedom and individual rights are not considered values but are regarded as threats, because they give their victims the ability and justification to resist and fight back against them.
This conflict between the military and the civilian bureaucracy explains disgusting injustices such as the prosecution of Marine Lieutenant Ilario Pantano for shooting and killing two Iraqis who lunged at him while they were being detained during the Iraq War; the indifference shown by the federal government to the torture and abuse by Mexico of United States Marines Jon Hammar and Andrew Tahmooressi for accidentally bringing guns into Mexico; and of course the attitude of VA bureaucrats who denied medical care to veterans in a Phoenix VA hospital in 2014 resulting in 40 deaths. It also explains the leniency shown those military members against whom credible evidence of disloyalty exists, such as Bowe Bergdahl, accused of desertion; and the classification of the Fort Hood shooter’s acts as “workplace violence” rather than terrorism.
Our military personnel obviously deserve far better than this.  What they need are skilled and savvy advocates who, by recognizing this conflict of interest, are always ready to act on their behalf against those in the government who are out to do them harm.  The need to protect our military personnel from those in government who oppose them is just another reason why, as Thomas Jefferson once stated, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.

Funding the Government Without Taxes: Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free

Funding the Government Without Taxes: Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free

By Wald Branehart

The IRS regularly targets members of the Tea Party and other groups that favor limited government for harassment. This has an unacceptable, if not unconstitutional, chilling effect on freedom. Speak your mind or otherwise stand up for limiting, rather than expanding, the power of governments and BOOM! You figuratively have a bull’s-eye painted on you. Even if you can prove you paid your taxes (and did everything else according to the law), the IRS and other agencies can still make your life a living hell for a long time. And they’ll use their status as governmental entities to avoid accountability for wrongfully harassing you. It’s no wonder conservative talk shows are full of ads for folks who can help if you’re audited.

There are many people in favor of some type of simplification of the tax code. There are proposals for flat taxes and fair taxes and even national sales taxes, among others. But while simplification is a good idea, it doesn’t really address the real problem: the leverage taxes give governments over private citizens who want freedom and limited government. Because while fair taxes and flat taxes may be simpler taxes, at root they are still taxes – and are by their nature the opposite of freedom and limited government. Taxes are based on the premise that you do not own or have a right to your property, or at least some of it; governments ‘own’, in essence, whatever share their laws allow them to take. To increase their power governments always want to increase this share. And, of course, if you hide your property to reduce your taxes, you are legally a criminal and the government gets the go-ahead to destroy your life.

We need governments and must fund them. Without functioning governments there would be anarchy with everyone essentially his own judge, jury and prosecuting attorney, free to do whatever he wants to anyone else. All the benefits of interpersonal relationships including much of civilization would become impossible. It would be, as Thomas Hobbes described in Leviathan, a “state of nature” where “life is brutish and short.”

The trick is to figure out how to fund governments without giving them leverage over those they govern. This would require some kind of situation that would force people to fund the government, while not subjecting them to legal harassment if they didn’t.

There is such a system. As a play on the lyrics of the 1980’s Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing”, I call it Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free. Here’s how it works.

Whenever businesses enter into commercial contracts, they would remit an amount equal to a legally determined percentage of the value of each contract to federal, state and local governments to fund their operations. For example, a developer signs a contract with a contractor to build a building that will cost $6,000,000. The jurisdiction has a percentage rate of 7%. The parties would be liable for paying the government of that jurisdiction $420,000.

If a contracting party does not pay its share of the amount due to the government, the government will have no power to prosecute or otherwise use force in any way to collect the money. This would end the oppressiveness of governments regarding financing. However, the nonpaying party will not be able to sue the other party to enforce the contract and will have no recourse if the other party breaches it. For example, assume there are two parties to the aforementioned contract for a building. The parties agree that each party will pay half of the amount due the government, so each party has to pay $210,000. The party responsible for constructing the building pays his share but the other party, responsible for paying him the $6,000,000, does not. If the party constructing the building does so and the other party refuses to pay him, he can sue to get paid. But if the party constructing the building does not construct the building, the other party, not having paid his $210,000 to the government, cannot sue the other party for damages until he does pay it. The consequences of a breached contract can potentially be severe enough to bankrupt a business, so businessmen will pay to enforce them and governments will get a reliable stream of revenue.

Meanwhile, people will still be able to call the police, press criminal charges and sue civilly if they are physically attacked, defrauded, defamed, robbed, kidnapped, victimized by negligent behavior, their homes or businesses are broken into, their property is stolen, etc. This kind of protection everyone would get for free.

To better understand Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free, it is worthwhile to examine the nature of the two bodies of law that are relevant to it: contracts and torts.

Tort law is the oldest branch of the English common law. Developed in Great Britain between the Norman Invasion of 1099 and today, the English common law is the foundation for the legal systems governing countries with an English heritage including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Tort law prevents torts, which is the French word not for pastries, but for wrongs (and thus apropos because the Normans were French and brought tort law rules with them in 1099).

Almost all of the ways someone can initiate force against someone else are considered wrongs, or torts: battery, which means battering, or physically attacking, poisoning, etc. someone else; assault, meaning attempting to batter someone else; trespassing; false imprisonment; theft and destruction of someone else’s property; negligent behavior causing injury to someone else or their property; misrepresentation; and defamation. More severe torts are called crimes, which are based on torts. For example, the crime of homicide essentially means committing a battery resulting in the victim’s death. The crime of robbery is essentially theft under violent circumstances. Burglary is a certain type of trespass. Rape is a battery involving sexual penetration. Kidnapping is false imprisonment of someone plus moving him away from where he was captured. Arson is destruction of another’s property by using fire. Fraud is usually a theft through misrepresentation. Etc.

It is important to remember about torts that, notwithstanding defenses[1], they are actions that for the most part are automatically wrong for everyone all the time. By banning the initiation of force, tort law is the most basic body of law that protects individual rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

But while tort law can prevent people from stealing things and bashing each others’ skulls in, it can’t compel someone to pave a street, deliver a shipment of books or food, draft a legal opinion, construct a building, or pay someone for doing any of these things. This is why contract law is necessary. A contract is a binding and legally enforceable promise voluntarily entered into by someone to do something for someone else. Most commonly, it involves one party obligated to provide a good or service to the other, and the other obligated to pay him for it. It’s also possible for both parties to be obligated to provide goods or services to each other. In any case, if someone enters into a contract and then doesn’t do what he promised, he can be sued for breaching the contract and be liable for compensating the other party for any injury caused by the breach.

Contracts allow people to reasonably rely on others, making division of labor and all of its benefits possible, including much of civilized living. Without contract law this wouldn’t be possible for the most part because there would be no legal way to hold others accountable for the promises they make. People would essentially be trapped in a very primitive standard of living, unable to depend on anyone for their needs but themselves.

In contrast with torts, contractual obligations are not automatic and don’t apply to everyone. Rather they are contract specific and apply only to the people who enter into them. This is why, while I consider tort law “automatic” law, I consider contract law “do it yourself” law. Tort law provides the basic social compact to respect individual rights and refrain from initiating force against others that everyone must follow. Above and beyond that, to do specific things that some people want done but others don’t, people can tailor the law to their specific needs and hold only certain people bound by it with contracts.

The logic of Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free should now be clear. As humans we need to live free from force. Therefore protection from torts should be free and automatic for everyone, with anyone able to dial 911 whenever they need to. However, if someone wants to use the government for something extra, like to compel someone to live up to his obligations under a custom-made contract to build a building, perform surgery, manufacture or distribute a particular product, etc., he should pay extra for it.

If people had to pay to protect themselves from torts the result would be a disastrous protection racket. Instead of being harassed by the IRS, everyone would be at risk of being attacked by street gangsters. Governments could perpetually shake down everyone as much as they like and if anyone refused to pay, suddenly thugs and goons could beat him senseless, steal his property, burn his house down – until he forked over whatever amount the government requested. But with an obligation to pay to enforce contracts, the consequences would be far less severe and there would be no protection racket. Instead of being beaten to a pulp, the deadbeat who didn’t pay his enforceability fee would merely be at risk of the other party’s breach. In addition the harm would be localized to the nonpaying party and those associated with him, and not a threat to society as a whole.

Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free would even satisfy the public policy objective of progressive taxation. It is rich and middle income people who run businesses, at least high value ones. It is they who, in doing so, make contracts and thus they, not the poor, who would be paying the fees to enforce them. The poor, in contrast, wouldn’t be paying anything and would have no burden to finance the government, so government financing would not impose any financial hardship on them.

As with a national sales tax, Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free would only be effective at ending the abuse of the existing tax system if there were no tax system. Otherwise, it could become an additional financial burden in addition to existing income taxes. Therefore before Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free could be implemented, there needs to be a total repeal of the current tax system. Repealing the 16th Amendment to the Constitution would be a good idea.

There are a number of operational details that can be worked out in the future. For example, the default rule, if the contract is silent and the parties didn’t decide otherwise, could be that the parties would split the obligation to pay the enforceability fee equally among the contracting parties as in the preceding example. Also one party might be able to waive its obligation to pay its share with the consent of the other party, who would then pay the whole amount due. The effect of amendments to contracts which would change the value of a contract and thus the amount due to governments would also have to be addressed. Also to be worked out are the rights of a nonpaying party who is sued by a paying party. He would have to have a constitutional right under due process of law to defend himself, but could he bring a counterclaim if appropriate against the party suing him? I would say no. Anyone has a right to defend his self if sued, but to countersue, pay the fee.

There are some unavoidable hazards. For example, the term “value of the contract” would of course be legally defined by statute, just as tax rates are today. This statute could become complicated like the current tax code and for the same reasons, as special interests would lobby for the changes to it that they want. Also, governments would still want the percentage rate to be as high as possible. The only cure for this is pressure from the electorate to prevent it from increasing, much the way people lobby for lower tax rates today. Regardless of the system used to fund the government, it is still the government you will be funding – and to do that, there never will be a substitute for eternal vigilance.

Regardless of these issues, however, I believe such a system would be vastly more preferable than the one we have today. Not only would it be unoppressive for reasons previously noted. It also probably would be far less costly to administer. Even if special interests succeed in making the law complex, it probably would never become as crazy as today’s tax code. But even if it did, the absence of the threat of prosecution and audits might collectively save businesses billions if not trillions of dollars, leading to far more wealth production and an explosively vigorous economy.

Obviously I don’t expect all of this to happen tomorrow. But what I hope to do is, between now and Election Day 2016, get as many freedom-loving people as possible thinking along these lines. Those who value limited government can escape the leverage of the IRS with a theory like Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free.

© by Wald Branehart 2015

[1] There are defenses to a tort claim, such as self defense and defense of others against someone who initiates an attack, or consent (i.e., you can’t sue someone for battery if they punch you in a boxing match or tackle you in a football game you voluntarily entered into), duress, emergencies, etc.

But Don’t Businesses Need to be “Regulated”? Blog By: Wald Branehart

But Don’t Businesses Need to be “Regulated”?

Capitalism calls for a separation of state and the economy, without regulation of private sector businesses by government.  But don’t businesses need to be regulated by governments to protect people’s individual rights?

The answer is: no, they don’t.

But then, if businesses are not regulated, what would stop them from rampantly making dangerous products, defrauding consumers, breaching contracts and committing (and getting away with) other injurious actions?

The answer is: not regulations, but rather laws – properly formulated, to protect the individual rights of everyone.  As the foregoing makes clear, the fundamental distinction is one between the proper concept of laws, and the concept of regulations.

Properly constituted, laws are binding rules designed to protect individual rights.  Philosophically speaking, man has four basic rights: those to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.  A right to life means man can choose to live if he wants; he does not have an obligation to fall on his sword for anyone else if he does not want to.  A right to liberty means man has the freedom to take those actions that he must to live.  A right to property means he has control over the use and disposal of the material values he rightfully owns.  And the right to the pursuit of happiness means he can decide for himself which values will make him happy and then pursue them.

Because man has rights, he is entitled to be free from other people violating these rights by starting, or initiating, physical force against him. The most obvious form of force is direct physical agency like beating or shooting someone (a violation of the right to life), kidnapping or wrongly incarcerating him (a violation of the right to liberty), or stealing his property (a violation of the right to property). Credible threats to do such things to another person are also considered force, because they have the same effect as the actual acts themselves in that they cause someone to give up his rights and obey the force wielder; deception, such as through acts of fraud or defamation, is also a form of force.

To protect rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness, governments pass laws banning the initiation of physical force against other people.  Today all developed countries have similar laws that do this, banning negligence; assault and battery; homicide; false imprisonment; theft; fraud and misrepresentation; defamation; trespassing on others’ property; and breach of contract. Although there are differences from country to country, these rules form the basis for the codes that protect individual rights worldwide.  These laws may be civil laws, resulting in the awarding of monetary damages to compensate a victim upon a finding of liability of the accused; or for more severe offenses they may be criminal laws, resulting in fines, incarceration for significant periods, or even death to the accused upon a finding of guilt.

In contrast with proper laws, regulations (which are also called ‘laws’ by the left to package-deal them with proper laws, and are given the force of law by governments) do not protect individual rights. Rather, they order businesses to follow certain procedures when conducting their affairs that have nothing to do with violations of rights or force.  For example, some regulations may tell businesses how to value their assets when doing their accounting.  Other regulations may tell businesses how to design mechanical devices or what fuel mileage the cars they produce must get. Still others may order them to use certain materials when making clothing or specify procedures to be followed when making food products.  Still others may tell businesses how securities are to be bought and sold.  Today there are so many thousands of regulations on the state and federal levels of government controlling almost all aspects of commerce that virtually no business can follow them all to the letter.

Governments justify the passage of regulations on the ground that they are necessary to protect the “general welfare” or the “public interest” by specifying procedures that ban dangerous products and deceptive trade practices.  And to many people, this sounds credible and regulations seem like a good idea.  However, the truth is that regulations are not made by anyone who knows how to keep people safe other than by banning the initiation of physical force. There is no special governmental “know-how”, for example, that justifies bureaucrats coercively micromanaging others’ lives, regulating businesses or making products safer or better or whatever with “governmental oversight”.  Governments, for example, do not know how to build cars or trade securities or make food or clothing or anything else better than the private sector companies who make these things do.  For this reason, regulations do not make businesses more efficient or their products safer or of better quality.  All regulations do is cause businesses to spend inordinate amounts of time and money to comply, destroying their profitability and success thereby.

If regulations do not protect individual rights or make businesses’ products safer or otherwise better, then why are they passed – and why do they proliferate?  The truth is that regulations allow governments to either shake down and/or effectively take control of private businesses, forcing them to work to further governments’ objectives rather than those of the companies’ rightful owners. Governments do this by essentially playing “gotcha” with the companies they regulate, using the fact that, as mentioned earlier, regulations are too numerous for companies to completely comply with.  Any infraction can give governments leverage to levy fines or compel management to comply with whatever demands they wish to make.

In a free society there is no justification for regulations.  If a business negligently, knowingly, intentionally or recklessly acts in a way that violates others’ rights, it should be prosecuted and held accountable; it should not be ‘regulated’.  For example, if a car company creates or markets unsafe models that cause injury or death to others or their property, such as the Ford Pinto during the 1970’s, the solution is to convict and imprison the officers and engineers who knowingly approved the dangerous design and levy heavy fines against the company; it is not to start telling all car companies how to design their gas tanks or chassis or engine blocks or whatever.  (This is actually the job of liability insurance underwriters.)  If a CEO of a major corporation directs the accountants to “cook the books” by greatly overvaluing assets and causes the company’s bankruptcy, as was done at Enron Corporation, the solution is to prosecute the CEO and the accountants for fraud. It is not to start specifying how all companies are to conduct their accounting procedures (as the American Federal Government did with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act).

As for deterring future violations of rights by others, whether they be businesses or individuals, this will be accomplished by holding the violators of rights accountable for their actions.  In this manner inferior and dangerous business practices will be abandoned, and be replaced with safer and better ones over time.

In sum, businesses (like individuals) should be held accountable for violating others’ rights – but no they should not be ‘regulated’.

© 2009 by Wald Branehart

A Rose by any Other Name: By Charles Robertson

A Rose by any Other Name

By Charles Robertson, co-founder Broward Tea Party

The question arose at our Tea Party Meeting, “should we change our name?” The intention was to remove “Tea Party” from our name. Those who supported the change pointed out that the Tea Party has been effectively portrayed by the liberal media as a radical, fringe, extremist organization. It matters little the inaccuracy or unfairness of the portrayal, what counts is what the public believes. Polling would show that the Tea Party image has suffered, affecting our ability to market our message.   It’s hard to counter public opinion and this negative image makes Tea Party recruiting an uphill struggle. Perhaps they say, with a different name, our group could attract more members.

One way to circumvent the branding burden is to rebrand. A simple name change would immediately neutralize any negative image. A new name would mean a clean slate that could still promote Tea Party principles, an agenda that appeals to mainstream America. That’s an easier sell which could boost membership thus creating a more effective political action group. The pro name changers would argue that results are what matters. If that was all that mattered, I might side with them.

My first thought against a name change is that it’s conceding defeat. This change would reward the smear merchants and leave me, and many others I suspect, feeling cowardly for not defending our team. I’m not for raising the white flag and moving on. Tea Partiers are patriots and fighters for our cause. It would seem hypocritical to fight for our principles while at the same time shedding our identity.

Tea partiers need to relish the attacks, if we weren’t a strong force, there would be no attacks. Even under a new name, if we grew to prominence then we’d again be on the liberal radar dealing with the same smear campaigns. If we changed our name to let’s say, Team Liberty, then it would only be a matter of time before you’d hear us described as, Team Liberty – formerly the Tea Party. The more successful Team Liberty would become the more its opponents would link it to the Tea Party which tells me our name also carries a positive attribute. We’re the staunchly conservative, anti-liberals, and that’s branding we should relish and hold on to.

United we stand. Imagine if most Tea Party groups opted to change their names; that would spell the end of the movement…. the headline – “Tea Party Fractures”. Yet, despite the media onslaught, the Tea Party still maintains millions of faithful members. Should an economic crisis come to pass as many predict, the Tea Party would resurge. The failure of liberal fiscal policy would only validate and vindicate our message. Just as quickly our image would change. The pendulum would swing back to the conservative side, the Tea Party banner would be a beacon to those looking for answers and a new course of action.

My final argument regarding our identity crisis is that our name is just a convenient excuse for our difficulties. We don’t have a good member retention record. I’ve seen scores of people come to the Tea Party looking for the group to support their candidate. They’re quick to go when that doesn’t happen. Our name has nothing to do with that. People get excited and enthused for their leader, not so much for free markets, fiscal responsibility, and limited government. We’ve lost others when our meetings focused on a topic that didn’t interest them… Fickle – pseudo – activists. Finally, our biggest obstacle is apathy, self centered citizens who don’t know and don’t care. There’s no name that would spur them to action.

Perhaps the best thing the Tea party can do is summed up in my favorite saying:

Press On

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Broward Tea Party Meeting: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Broward Tea Party Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 
TOTAL WINE & MORE
15980 Pines Blvd.
Pembroke Pines, Fl. 33027
Sign-in/Social Time:  6:45 pm
   
Meeting Starts:  7:00 pm
 
Guest Speaker
Lauren Cooley 

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Florida Field Coordinator for Turning Point USA 

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 Most well known for its Big Government Sucks campaign
 
 
Lauren is a recent graduate of Furman University, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science and ran the
Conservative Students for a Better Tomorrow – a group named the #1 Conservative Student Group in the Nation. 
She is also a reporter with Campus Reform. Her stories have been featured on several national news outlets,
including the Drudge Report. In addition to her work for Campus ReformLauren has written for the 
Greenville JournalThe College Fix, and her college paper, The Paladin
Lauren has made numerous appearances on local and national talk radio programs, including The Mike Gallagher Show. 
The Times Examiner reported Lauren Cooley as one of the nation’s top student activists.
# # # #
** We will be discussing the upcoming General Election and Ballot Recommendations.**
  
Coffee, sodas, & water provided. Please bring a snack or treat to share…Greatly Appreciated! 
Bring a Friend or Two, Guests Most Welcome!
 
** Please park in the west parking lot of Total Wine & More 
** We meet in the Wine Education Room,
 very back of store, left aisle
 Contact:

Broward Tea Party Meeting with special guest speaker, Anita MonCrief: Tues., Sept. 9th

Broward Tea Party Monthly Meeting
 
Tuesday, September 9, 2014 
 
TOTAL WINE & MORE
15980 Pines Blvd.
Pembroke Pines, Fl. 33027
 
Sign-in/Social Time:  6:45 pm 
  
Meeting Starts:  7:00 PM
Special Guest Speaker > “Grassroots Activism”
Anita MonCrief 
 
Grassroots Trainer & Curriculum Consultant
 for Americans for Prosperity (AFP)
           ACORN/Project Vote Whistleblower and Ex-liberal.
 Anita will share her fascinating story and give
us her insight on “How to Outsmart the Left”.

Come spend a few hours with Anita and also
hear what AFP is doing on the ground.
Twitter: @anitamoncrief
@AFPFlorida   @AFPhq
 There is no cost for this event and food and refreshments will be provided.
&
We Will Also Host
Rodger Dowdell
Florida State Coordinator for National Liberty Alliance
 
Rodger Dowdell on “Common Law Grand Jury”:
 Greater Orlando Tea Party – 7/15/2014
Bring a Friend or Two, Guests Most Welcome!
 
** Please park in the west parking lot of Total Wine & More 
**We meet in the Wine Education Room, very back of store, left aisle
  

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Shills for Mexico as Captive Marine Suffers: By Joe Kaufman

 Debbie Wasserman Schultz Shills for Mexico as Captive Marine Suffers

By Joe Kaufman
On March 31, 2014, Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi accidentally made a wrong turn from the United States into Mexico. He has been held in prison there ever since. Tahmooressi had been heading to San Diego, California to seek treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD which resulted from his time spent in combat overseas in Afghanistan. He had with him all of his belongings, including three firearms, which triggered the response from Mexican authorities.
Tahmooressi is a recent resident of the South Florida city of Weston; his mother, Jill, still resides there. The congressional representative for Weston is Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman Schultz is also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Since Tahmooressi’s arrest, Wasserman Schultz has played a dual game of assisting Tahmooressi, while providing cover for the Mexican government and his captors.
Reports have stated that Wasserman Schultz has been in contact with both the State Department and Vice President Joe Biden regarding the Tahmooressi case. For the head of the Democratic Party and someone who is a phone call away from the President himself, this would seem to be the bare minimum, and it has resulted in no action as Sgt. Tahmooressi continues to languish behind bars in a foreign nation.
On May 28th, Wasserman Schultz took the time to speak with the comedy radio duo, Paul and Young Ron, on Miami, Florida’s Big 105.9. There, she made a few statements that, instead of helping Tahmooressi, made her out to be a shill for the Mexican government and those who have recklessly held him in Mexico for what is now nearly three months.
“The Mexican government has not done anything wrong here, so let’s be clear,” she insistently told the show’s hosts. She then began to speak about how Mexico has laws, which according to Wasserman Schultz, it “appears” he had violated.
Wasserman Schultz has stated that her office is “working diligently with the Mexican Embassy.” She said that she had spoken with the Mexican Ambassador, “who assured me that this is being worked on diligently and that they will do everything they can to expedite the situation.”
When asked if they were treating him well, she replied, “As far as I know, yes they are.”
On May 29th, just one day after the Wasserman Schultz interview, Tahmooressi appeared via phone on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta Van Susteren show. On it, he spoke of the nightmare he went through in Mexico.
He said that his fellow inmates threatened to rape and kill him. He said he was chained to a bed on three separate occasions, including chained standing up, as a form of “punishment.” He told Van Susteren he was punched in the stomach “to the point that I couldn’t breathe.” He said he was struck in his jaw by prison guards so many times his jaw moved out of place.
Wasserman Schultz’s statement that Andrew Tahmooressi was being treated well was either based on complete ignorance of his situation or a way to shield the Mexican government from harm. Considering that she made it a point to say that the Mexican government did nothing wrong – that they should be exempt from criticism – makes one come to the conclusion that it is the latter.
On May 31st, President Barack Obama traded five Taliban commanders for Bowe Bergdahl, an Army troop who had been held captive by the Taliban since June 2009. It was a highly controversial move not only for the violence associated with the terrorist commanders, but for the fact that Bergdahl has been considered by many to be a troop deserter who walked away from his camp.
Sgt. Tahmooressi, on the other hand, has been lauded as a hero for saving at least eight of his fellow troops’ lives in Afghanistan. So while President Obama traded five Taliban leaders for a possible troop deserter, the hero Tahmooressi has been made to suffer behind bars in Mexico with his family’s own government representative doing the least possible to see to his freedom.
Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill, said that never in all his time during four years as a Marine and two tours in Afghanistan was her son treated so badly as he has been in Mexico. But that may only be her opinion, as people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz believe he’s been treated just fine and Mexico did nothing wrong.
About Joe Kaufman
Joe Kaufman is an expert in the fields of counter-terrorism, foreign affairs and energy independence for America. He has been featured on all major cable networks, including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and C-SPAN. Kaufman has served as a consultant to different government agencies, and he has been instrumental in getting U.S.-based terrorist charities shut down and terror-related individuals put behind bars. Exactly one month prior to the September 11 attacks, Kaufman predicted the attacks by stating that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was not an aberration and that it would happen again.

This Blog Is Not for You: By Charles Robertson

This Blog Is Not for You

By Charles Robertson, Co-founder of Broward Tea Party

This Blog may not be for you, but don’t stop reading. Let’s first figure out if you’re on the Intended Readers List. If you’ve ever read one of my blogs or one of the blogs from the Broward Tea Party, then you’re probably not on the Intended Readers List. Likewise, if you attend a Tea Party or similar political action group, you’re most likely one of the engaged, aware, civically responsible citizens and I salute you. I don’t need to reach you; you already get it.   But please keep reading, because I’ll need you to help me get this to this those for whom it is intended – those who would never read a blog relating to politics. You see I’m tired of preaching to the choir. It’s time to spread the message to those who need it most. I’m also skipping my normal, catch more bees with honey approach. This is an in your face, I’m calling you out, guilt trip… whatever works.

To determine where you stand in terms of civic awareness and responsibility, I’ve devised the following three tier rating:

Level 1 – Firefighting 101

The first requirement is a basic understanding of our system of government. Our system is under assault, burning at multiple sources. Yet, most are apathetic and among those who aren’t there remains a large portion that lacks the knowledge of history and government necessary to fight back.

“Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.”

~ John Adams

“The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.”

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Since “knowledge is power,” let’s test your knowledge to see if you’ve passed this level. Following are the top 10 questions on the U.S. Citizenship test:

Citizenship Test

1. What is the supreme law of the land?

 

2. What does the Constitution do?

 

3. The idea of self-government in the first words of the Constitution, What are these words?

 

4. What is an amendment?

 

5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

 

6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?

 

7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

 

8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?

 

9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

 

10. What is freedom of religion?

 

ANSWERS:

  1. The Constitution
  2.  • Sets up the government • Defines the government • Protects basic rights of Americans
  3. We the People
  4.  • A change (to the Constitution) • An addition (to the Constitution)
  5. The Bill of Rights
  6. Any one of these: Speech, Religion, Assembly, Press, and Petition the government

7. Twenty-seven (27)

8.  Announced our independence (from Great Britain) / Declared our independence (from Great Britain) / Said that the United States is free (from Great Britain)

9.  • Life  • Liberty • Pursuit of happiness

10.    You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion.

If you answered 8 – 10 correctly, congratulations, you passed the same test that is required of immigrants seeking citizenship. If you fell in the range of 6-7 correct answers then you need to brush up on your government. Citizenship may be your birthright but civic responsibility requires a basic understanding of our system. If you answered 5 or less correctly then you’re a pinhead. You’re part of an embarrassingly large portion of our society who is content to be clueless, undeserving of the freedoms you’ve inherited. You can rise above this. Please, read on.

 

Level 2 – Find the Fire

Pick a fire, any fire. Out of control debt, IRS scandal, Benghazi, unemployment, immigration; the list goes on and on. Once you have a good understanding of our government and our history, you’re ready to engage current events. You have the foundation to speak with authority and the wisdom to provide analysis. At this level, you’re armed with knowledge, prepared to set the record straight. The only thing holding you back is your reluctance to take on the leadership role. You can change minds and set the record straight in conversations, but you’d probably prefer to avoid that. Your country needs you to move out of your comfort zone, to use your knowledge to wake up and persuade others to take action. You can’t fix everything, but if you focus on one issue you can make a difference.  Pick any of those fires and make it your personal cause, join a group, move yourself to level 3.

Level 3 – Join the Firefighters

Those who reach the highest level, who fulfill their civic duty, take on the role of activist. “For God and Country” is an interesting phrase and a rallying call. In four short words, it sets both a priority and a challenge.   Throughout our country and in communities everywhere, people set aside time to worship God every week. So let’s put church service and all the related activities under the category of “For

God”. That leaves “For Country”. ‘What are you doing in this category?” If you’re like most people the answer is precious little! Many will say, “I vote”, as though that alone is all that’s required. Anyone can cast a ballot, some liberals cast many. What’s needed is to study the candidates and issues and make informed votes at every election, especially the small local ones. Fulfilling your civic duty is your obligation; we all share the responsibility to defend freedom.   This requires more than just voting. Give your country a fraction of the time you give to God. While I’d love to suggest the Tea Party as a great means to get involved, the truth is we are one of many great organizations offering similar opportunities. Pick one, any one.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

~ Edmund Burke

Now that you’ve been called out you have 3 choices. First, you can do nothing which makes you a civic deadbeat. At least you can’t unread this message. May the guilt of your apathy fester inside you until the day you become involved. Secondly, you can forward this blog to others. This is passing the buck but at least you might create results via proxy. Lastly, you can join the firefighters at level 3.   “Ding, ding, ding!”, we have a winner – you’re one in a hundred, or 500; who knows. I do know that those who heed the call are rare, the salt of the earth, and our reason to remain optimistic.

 

“The Good, The Bad, and the Silly Putty”- “Eyes Wide Open”, A Blog by Kristin Matheny

“The Good, the Bad, and the Silly Putty”

Blog Entry # 11, “Eyes Wide Open” by Kristin Matheny, Co-Leader of the Broward Tea Party

I have two sons. My oldest, who is three and a half, is starting to really “come into his own”, he’s starting to ask really good questions. He’s just beginning to grasp concepts like “telling the truth” and “expressing emotions”, concepts that were completely foreign to him just four or five months ago.

Of course, when you are raising boys, you have to tread delicately when it comes to emotions. As a woman raised in a home where the girls outnumbered the boys (well…”boy” being my father), it’s been a learning process. Most of my friends growing up were boys and I always thought that I understood how boys “worked”. Girls, though I was surrounded by them, seemed to be an enigma to me. Their emotions were intense and often aggravating. As a result, I learned to be the type of person who “sucked it up”, who barely let my feelings show.

When I eventually got married and had two sons of my own, I found myself saying things to them like “tough it out” when they fell and scraped their knees, or “you’re okay, walk it off” if they bumped their heads. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hold them and rock them back and forth. I did. But it seemed to me that it just wasn’t in my nature, and therefore not in their natures, to allow them to cry.

The other night my oldest son, who might as well be a carbon “boy version” copy of me, asked me about being afraid. He’s been having bad dreams lately, and when he wakes up he’s not sure how to react.

“Well, if you wake up, and you see that everything is okay, and that you are safe in your bed, you can roll over and go to sleep. Or call for us and Daddy and I will make sure you are safe.”

He looked at me. “What if I cry?”

I was stunned. I realized that I’d told him to “suck it up” for so long that he wasn’t even sure when he was supposed to cry. “What IF you start crying?” I asked him.

He was quiet. “Sometimes I just cry when I’m scared.” He almost seemed penitent. I certainly never got mad at him when he cried. When a child cries, we try to soothe them, we try to make them stop. I hate seeing anyone cry, and I especially hate seeing my boys cry. But I instinctively tell them to “relax” and I tell them that “it’s okay”. Most of us do that, we walk a fine line between raising gentlemen and raising “pansies”.

I started really thinking about emotions after that, on a deeper level. I started thinking about all of the times that I’ve seen that infamous “emotional appeal” used against people like us, conservative people. It can be used to trick, deceive, and coerce. In that sense, as a society, we are emotional, vulnerable pansies. The Left has capitalized on that. We’ve become a country so emotionally dedicated to the messages that politicians deliver to us in these tightly-designed packages, wrought with irrational emotion, that the Left managed to takeover the government at almost every level. You could argue this began around 2006, but I would say it began much earlier. You’d better believe this was all smoke-and-mirrors. It didn’t matter what they actually DID about these heart-wrenching social issues, as long as the message was emotional enough to appeal to the hearts of those who were too angry, sad, or upset to understand the facts.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I see Republicans who are so afraid to be authentic with their emotions, who are so driven by the desire to capture precious votes from Democrats, that they’ve become laughing stocks. The ideas of Democrats are worthless and illogical, but at least they stick to their modes and their opinions don’t change. There is nothing but pure nonsense and foolishness…but there is consistency.

In an effort to “combat” the power that the Democrats have wielded over the last decade or so, the Republicans have become a party of ‘silly putty politicians”, willing to mold, bend, and stretch however necessary to get some votes and perhaps a moment or two of positive attention. Now, it seems, we’ve been left with a huge, mushy mess.

I had an acquaintance from college who I knew from the College Republicans Executive Board, whose name I won’t mention. He was a few years younger than me. He was very loud, very opinionated, somewhat immature. He certainly wasn’t popular, but he was defiantly conservative, and socially conservative. He often scolded more “Libertarian-leaning” Republicans like me for our differing views, never once seeing that we could work together, truly believing that his conservative views were the “only true conservative views”. He discussed his desire to run for office one day. (We all subsequently rolled our eyes.)

Fast forward ten or eleven years…he is a state representative. He lost a few elections in the beginning, but continuously moved around his home state until he found a district with an octogenarian state rep with health issues who was running unopposed. He barely eked out a win and he’s now up at the state capitol.

Here’s the issue, though. He’s switched his party several times, eventually deciding to run as a Democrat in order to “capture” the district he eventually won (which is heavily Democratic). When I tell you that this guy was a huge proponent of small government and the Constitution right up until he ran in this district, I mean it. He quickly buried those ideals (though he does claim to secretly support them in legislation). He played down his church affiliation and his Catholicism to appease those who may not favor his faith. And here’s the worst part: He was openly gay, came out after college. He’s completely hidden this fact and even went so far as to recently vote down a huge piece of legislation that would have made for LGBT housing allowances. His district, steeped in biblical rhetoric, would not have liked if he’d voted otherwise.

This guy is everything that makes me angry about politicians. He is everything I despise about so many RINOs and Republicans running for office.

Where the hell did our backbones go? Have we suppressed the truth and emotion SO much to counter the Left that we’ve become dishonest and crumbling shells of who we once were?

The Left stops at nothing to vilify politicians who have their hearts clear and their backbones very much intact. These are Conservatives who are not afraid to counter irrational Leftist emotional rhetoric with honest, straightforward ideas. They did let emotion seep into their words, and because of that, they’ve become our last (and perhaps our only) line of defense against the likes of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Hillary Clinton.

What I find frustrating is that these wishy-washy, “silly putty” Republicans are equally quick to point and laugh at people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, people who allowed their frustration to speak clearly through their actions. Their emotions are not devices used to appeal to vulnerable, empty-headed young people who voted for Democrats because they just couldn’t see through the haze, their emotions are real, and these emotions have made them vulnerable…even to members of their own party who lack the “cojones” to do the same.

We’ve managed to help the Democrats bring down many men and women who had such gumption. Sarah Palin. Herman Cain. Even in the media…how many outspoken Conservatives have been chased off of networks and radio stations? How many have been ostracized in Hollywood? Labelled as “crazy” (oh, what an easy and effective label to give someone who simply speaks the truth), Republicans instead force good politicians to “bend” and “sway” with the hope of gaining votes (see: Marco Rubio, Chris Christie). Even not-so-good, but powerful Republicans have just danced to the fiddles while “Rome burned around them”, or jumped ship like my old college buddy for self-promoting purposes, poster-children for gutlessness (see: Charlie Crist). How many times did we hear after the 2012 Election that “if Mitt Romney had just displayed the fire and frustration he had in a handful of candid interviews and in that very first glorious debate”, we could’ve been victorious? Instead, he was admittedly told by his handlers to “tone things down”, to “say what people wanted to hear”. To “be electable”.

Electable means “suppressed”. “Suppressed” brings you nothing. Who said that we weren’t angry too? Who thought that his repressed, hidden anger (which bubbled to the surface occasionally, but too rarely) wasn’t something that MOST Americans would’ve latched onto?

I’ve come to the conclusion that suppressing and hiding emotion does no good. If it’s used to pursue bad things, or to coerce or gain, it’s not authentic. But if one is honest with himself or herself, and one is angry or upset or frustrated- and their heart is clear, and their logic is solid- there is no stopping that person. That’s a person with a backbone. That’s a man or a woman I would vote for a million times over one who will say what will get him or her elected.

Who knows if either or my sons will run for office one day. Maybe so. Maybe not. But I’ll never tell them to “suck it up” again. If they are hurt, angry, or aggravated with something, no matter how trivial, I will demand that they express it in a healthy way. Anger and aggravation are powerful, powerful tools, and they can be used to promote action, positivity, and perhaps most importantly, HONESTY. It’s the only way to remain strong and formidable in the face of liberals. My sons should never express satisfaction with something that is truly unsatisfying. If they see wrong or harm in the world, they should take action to correct it, to make their world better.

I should do the same. Our politicians, too.

Perhaps we all should.

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