“Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires,” repeatedly proclaims President Obama, arguing for his proposed $1.5 trillion tax increase over the next 10 years. “That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that.” In fact, Mr. Obama’s statement is anything but straightforward and not hard to argue against. Seeking to reverse his declining poll numbers, especially among his increasingly disillusioned base, Obama is attempting to give the impression that America’s millionaires and billionaires are paying lower taxes than their secretaries. IRS data for 2008, however, the latest year for which the numbers are available, show that those who earned more than $1 million in adjusted gross income paid an average federal income tax rate of 23.3 percent.
Our nation stands at the precipice of an economic meltdown that would make the current recession seem like the “best of times.” The almighty dollar, once labeled “good as gold,” stands close to repudiation. Yet the Obama administration and congressional leaders are failing to address the reason for the dollar’s decline. We find ourselves mired in the “it can’t happen here” syndrome. The experts won’t tell the public what happened in Germany in the 1920s, or in Hungary and Argentina more recently, or in Zimbabwe only a few years back. But all of the agony and chaos experienced in those nations should be expected in America. The dollar has plummeted so far in value that its worth is now less than five percent of what is was when a deceived Congress voted to create the Federal Reserve in 1913. Addressing this increasingly dire situation, Congressman Ron Paul has introduced H.R. 1098, the “Free Competition in Currency Act of 2011.” Its main purposes are: 1) repeal the legal tender laws; and 2) bar taxation when buying or selling such commodities as gold, silver, and platinum if the intention is to use them as money.
Infamous for political corruption, the city of Chicago rehired for one day former union leader Dennis Gannon, who as a result netted $158,000 in a public pension, according to the Chicago Tribune. Rehired by the city in 1994, Gannon was accorded an indefinite leave of absence after working a single shift. Raking in about five times greater than the average retired city worker, Gannon’s lavish pension is a product of corrupt political massaging among Chicago union leaders and government officials. After gaining high stature in labor politics, Gannon sought to gain from the city’s skewed law that would allow him to remain in the municipal pension fund. So he was rehired and the next day granted a leave of absence to work for Local 150. Illinois law permitted Gannon to retire in 2004, at 50-years-old, and since then he has incurred approximately $1 million in pension benefits, and is expected to pocket about $5 million during his lifetime.
Item: The New York Times for August 26 reported that Chinese defense officials had “denounced” a Pentagon “report that called China’s military buildup ‘potentially destabilizing.’” The paper cited a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman saying, “The report does not hold water as it severely distorted the facts.” The spokesman added: “China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development, and its national defense policy is defensive in nature.” Correction: Peace, as it is understood by dedicated communists, is the absence of resistance to communism. Tibetans, among others, have experienced firsthand the nature of the type of “peace” imposed by Communist China and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — with estimates of those killed in Tibet ranging from 600,000 to twice that number. As noted by Jean-Louis Margolin in The Black Book on Communism (edited by Stéphane Courtois, et al., Harvard University Press, 1999), the “litany of atrocities” in Tibet “is hair-raising and in many cases unverifiable. But the eyewitness reports concur so precisely that the Dalai Lama’s assessment of this period [in the late 1950s] seems beyond challenge: ‘Tibetans not only were shot, but also were beaten to death, crucified, burned alive, drowned, mutilated, starved, strangled, hanged, boiled alive, buried alive, drawn and quartered, and beheaded.’”
Despite the government's increased creation of money, new federal regulations that stifle companies and cause additional costs, and proposed new taxes, some businesses are pushing ahead with business-as-usual, leading to an uptick in the economy — at least in the short term. The shipping of materials used in industrial production by rail in the United States grew last month to the highest level since October 2008, with Union Pacific enjoying its strongest weekly volume so far this year. UP Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Robert Knight said he continues to see “solid demand” across most business segments, with shipments of industrial products increasing by eight percent annually. Norfolk Southern’s CFO, James Squires is also positive, maintaining an outlook “which is still upbeat," with expected growth of three percent annually through September. And CSX noted that its industrial shipping volumes are growing at about five percent a year as well. CSX’s CFO said he isn’t concerned about “any kind of overarching sort of dire circumstances around the corner,” as his customers and suppliers are both showing a “general level of optimism.” He added, “Sure, things have moderated, but there is no one in that near state of panic that we saw certainly in late ’08 and ’09.”
Concerned that their group’s name may sound too “regional” for effective outreach throughout the U.S., officials of the 166-year-old Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have announced a task force assigned to study the possibility of changing the name of the 16.16-million member evangelical Christian denomination, the nation’s largest. “Starting a church in New York, or Boston, or Minneapolis, or Cheyenne, Wyoming, it’s really a barrier to a lot of folks in even considering that church or that ministry,” SBC President Bryan Wright told Christianity Today. “When they hear Southern Baptist, it’s a regional perception there. The reason this task force has been set up to study a possible name change is [firstly] to consider a name that is not so geographically limiting, and secondly to help us be better prepared for reaching North America for Christ in the 21st century.” It is not the first time the SBC has looked into changing its distinctive label. “Motions to study a name change have been presented to the convention on numerous occasions,” reported the SBC’s own Baptist Press News, “for example, 1965, 1974, 1983, 1989, 1990, and 1998.” Additionally, a proposed “straw poll” to consider a name change was defeated at the SBC’s annual meeting in 1999, and an effort in 2004 to put a study in motion was also shot down.
Nearly all the pundits and attorneys are calling Jaycee Lee Dugard’s federal lawsuit a “long shot.” Ms. Dugard, who was abducted with a “stun gun” on her way to school at age 11, then raped and tortured in a shed for 18 years by a federally paroled sex offender with the help of his also-released inmate wife, sued the federal government September 22, citing “gross neglect.” Even though the Dugard family received a $20-million settlement in 2009 through the California’s Victims’ Compensation Fund, Jaycee Dugard wants to send a message to federal officials and parole agents who “failed on numerous occasions to properly monitor” Phillip Garrido, her captor, a criminal with a history of drug abuse and violence dating back to 1976, when he abducted a woman from the Tahoe area and took her across state lines to Reno, Nevada, and raped her. Any proceeds from the lawsuit, says Dugard, will go to her private charity, the JAYC Foundation, which assists families recovering from abduction and other trauma. She has quite enough money now, after all. It’s her childhood she can’t recover — and the welfare of two children conceived in rape, whom she still nurtures.
Activists protesting Utah's opposition to same-sex "marriage" (and other statutes dealing with moral issues) have found an effective way to garner public attention: stripping down to their underwear and running through the streets of Salt Lake City. Nate Porter, who planned the so-called Undie Run, said the goal of the event was to organize those frustrated by what he dubbed "uptight" laws in Utah. He continued, "My goal is to change Utah. To make this state lighten up once and for all. I’m trying to draw people in that are jaded by [the state's] politics.” According to the Undie Run website, residents of Utah are boring and uptight, and it is the job of the protesters to change that. The site states, We want each group of friends to come with there [sic] own specific demands written all over your body/undies/signs. Be creative. Get your friends to come with matching undies and help protest for your particular issues. Help us get the message out that Utah needs to lighten up. The Beauty of this event is that it's for you [to] decide. If you check the comments below you will see many voicing there [sic] opinions in many areas that Utah needs to simply lighten up on.
Publishers of the Times World Atlas are under fire for exaggerating ice loss in Greenland and are "urgently reviewing" their newest map of that country. HarperCollins claims the latest edition of its atlas, published September 15, depicts the world "at its most fragile," but scientists say it shows a dream world. One expert told Reuters the atlas suggests Greenland's massive ice sheets are shrinking at a rate that "could easily be 20 times too fast and might well be 50 times too fast." HarperCollins admitted it erased 15 percent of Greenland's ice cover from its previous 2007 atlas, an amount Elizabeth Morris of Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute said "would lead to a sea level rise of 1 metre," according to Varsity. She and six colleagues wrote a letter to the publisher calling the mistake "implausible" and "stupid." Glaciologist Poul Christofferson also signed the letter and told Reuters that "a sizable portion of the area mapped as ice-free in the Atlas is clearly still ice-covered."
Tim Hawkins is a very funny guy. He sings a great song, “The Government Can,” with body movements that tell the story in a truly hilarious way. I watched it the other day on a website with an incredibly simple but potent message: that 545 people in Washington are responsible for all of America’s woes. Charley Reese, the writer, explained in an essay posted at LewRockwell.com: One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices — 545 human beings out of 235 million — are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country. He explains further: Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them. Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?