When Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) released his economic plan, which calls for eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, the howls of outrage from the media were predictable. Paul was accused of wanting to end the federal student loan program immediately and, therefore, of being anti-education. Paul responded to his critics with a cogent op-ed in USA Today in which he explained that he had merely proposed transferring the student loan program to another federal agency and has no intention of repealing the program in the short term. However, he added that, in his opinion, the program ought to be retired in the long term, arguing that “we will assist [students] the most by eventually transitioning student aid away from the inefficient and ineffective federal government and back to local governments and private market-based solutions — which simply work better.” Is Paul correct that federal student loans are a bad idea? Certainly it doesn’t make good financial sense for students to take on tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt in the present economy. Americans already owe about $1 trillion in student loans, and delinquency and default rates are on the rise. Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh wrote in 2010:
A North Carolina county wants to resume its longtime practice of beginning government meetings with prayer, and is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that bans prayers offered “in Jesus’ name.” As reported by The New American, in July the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ tradition of beginning their meetings with mostly Christian prayers offered by local clergy. Specifically, two area residents sued the county after attending a county board meeting on December 17, 2007, in which a local pastor “thanked God for allowing the birth of His Son to forgive us for our sins and closed by making the prayer in the name of Jesus,” according to an Associated Press report. Writing for the majority in the Fourth Circuit ruling, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III noted that three-quarters of the prayers offered at the Forsyth County meetings between May 2007 and December 2008 were Christian themed, referring often to “Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Savior.” But “in order to survive constitutional scrutiny,” he explained, “invocations must consist of the type of nonsectarian prayers that solemnize the legislative task and seek to unite rather than divide. Sectarian prayers must not serve as the gateway to citizen participation in the affairs of local government. To have them do so runs afoul of the promise of public neutrality among faiths that resides at the heart of the First Amendment’s religion clauses.”  
Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry spelled out the details of his “Cut, Balance, and Grow” flat tax plan on October 25, saying that “the U.S. government spends too much. Taxes are too high, too complex, and too riddled with special-interest loopholes. And our expensive entitlement system is unsustainable in the long run.” Perry’s plan would offer taxpayers a choice between a new flat rate of 20 percent on incomes over $50,000, or their current income tax rate. The plan would allow them to file their taxes on a postcard, eliminating the enormous current compliance costs in filing their Form 1040s. Various deductions and exemptions would be eliminated, he says, thus improving incentives for entrepreneurs to invest, create, and hire. In addition, Perry would cap government spending at 18 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and put a freeze on all federal hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced. He would push for the repeal of ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform laws. Finally, he would allow participants in Social Security to set up their own personal retirement accounts outside of the current system which would protect their contributions from being raided by Congress to be spent for other purposes.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul won both votes in the October 29 Iowa straw poll, winning 82 percent of the Iowa vote, easily besting Herman Cain's 15 percent support. The straw poll, sponsored by the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, also included a poll for out-of-state supporters of presidential candidates that Paul won more narrowly, besting Cain by 26 and 25 percentage points, respectively. The NFRA promoted their straw poll as, in the words of Human Events Political Editor John Gizzi,“gold for GOP hopefuls.” The NFRA also pointed out that its straw poll was "last major straw poll before the Iowa caucuses," but the poll included less than 600 total votes cast between the two polls. The number of attendees and votes was much less than the 4,671 votes that Paul won in a close second place loss to Michele Bachmann in the Ames Straw Poll back on August 13. The straw poll could be seen as a victory of the message of peace won a straw poll over the message of more war, as the only two candidates to address the conference were Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (who finished a distant third with only one percent of Iowa voters).  
If the decline in the Portuguese money supply for September is annualized, it will shrink by more than 20 percent, presaging more economic difficulties for a country already reeling from austerity measures imposed by the European Union. Measures of money supply are watched carefully by economists as a portent for economic behavior over the coming six to 12 months. With an economy already suffering from 12-percent unemployment, a debt-to-GDP ratio approaching an astonishing 360 percent, and the yield on the country’s 10-year treasury debt exceeding 12 percent, it won’t take much to send the Prime Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, scurrying to the European Central Bank (ECB), hat in hand, for more help. In fact Portugal's economy may already have gone over the edge. Simon Ward, economist with Henderson Global Investors, said that the mix of fiscal austerity demanded from the ECB in exchange for a bailout of $115 billion earlier this year and monetary tightening by the ECB has forced Portugal to enter a “Grecian vortex.”
A top court in Brazil has weighed in on homosexual marriage, ruling that two women can legally tie the knot. According to the Associated Press, Brazil’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice (STJ) is the nation’s highest court to side for same-sex marriage. In May Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that homosexual civil unions could be recognized, despite the constitution’s restriction that such unions were restricted to a man and a woman. The high court stopped short of ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. But in June “a state court judge ruled that two men could legally change their civil union into a full marriage,” reported the AP, and since then “several couples have petitioned to have their civil unions recognized as full marriages. Some of those have been approved at lower courts, others blocked.”  
I don’t know which I’m more tired of hearing: Barack Obama gloating that one of the richest men in America supports his tax-the-rich efforts, or Warren Buffett whining that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.  Let me state for the record that both men are playing fast and loose with the truth, and they both know it. It is true that Buffett pays a relatively low rate in taxes on most of his income. That’s because it’s not his salary that matters, but what he receives in dividends from his investments. Such dividends are currently taxed at 15 percent a year. If he pays his secretary a decent wage, which I’m sure he does, her tax rate is surely much higher. But what Warren doesn’t include in his calculations are the taxes that have already been paid on those dividends before he receives them. You see, corporations must pay Uncle Sam 35 percent of all the profits they make before they can send any of those profits to the owners of the company — that is, the shareholders.
As Americans become more frightened by the disastrous direction our government is taking, and more frustrated that elected representatives are not listening to them, the demand is growing for drastic action. In recent months the action most heard in state houses across the nation is a rising call for a new Constitutional Convention (Con Con). Supporters somehow think a Con Con is the solution to saving our Republic. They want to amend the Constitution to force a balance budget. They want to shore up ambiguous language to make the meaning clear. They want to assure there is no doubt what America is and should be. For most pushing such an agenda, their intentions are honest.  
Two employees at the notorious Philadelphia “House of Horrors” clinic operated by late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell have pleaded guilty to murder in the deaths of a baby born at the clinic and a woman who had come for an abortion. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, 34-year-old Adrienne Moton admitted that she killed a baby who had been born alive at the abortion facility, while Sherry West, 52, pleaded guilty to administering a lethal dose of painkillers and anesthesia to a 41-year-old woman who had come for an abortion. The guilty pleas leave seven additional individuals to be tried in a case that has stunned even abortion supporters because of the evidence of the murders of both live-born babies and adults at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society. “Gosnell, 70, could face the death penalty if convicted,” reported the Boston Herald. “He is accused of cutting the spinal cords of seven babies born alive at his clinic.” He also faces a third-degree murder charge in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, the immigrant woman who died as a result of the drugs he directed West to administer.
Despite the Obama administration’s best efforts to place stricter gun controls on American citizens, support for the Second Amendment is currently at a record high. A recent Gallup poll shows a mere 26 percent of the respondents believe the federal government should ban handguns. Seventy-three percent of those polled are opposed to a government ban on handguns. Another Gallup poll reveals that the percentage of American gun owners has increased as well. The Second Amendment poll shows a marked increase from the first time the question was asked in 1959, when 60 percent of the respondents favored banning handguns. Those figures changed dramatically by 1975, however, when the majority of Americans began to show opposition for such a measure. This most current poll shows that support for gun-control measures is at a historic low. Gallup’s website reports: For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.
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