Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why we should keep the Electoral College

Writing in today’s Tennessean, a letter writer argues we should abolish the Electoral College. The writer explained that when we vote for president, that we are actually voting for electors who then vote for president. The letter writer opposes the Electoral College but never does explain why we have an Electoral College.

The United States is not a popular democracy but a representative democracy and a republic. The Constitution was designed to be a mixture of state-based and population-based representation. The Electoral College is part of the compromise that made adoption of the Constitution possible. It is part of the fabric that makes us a republic. Without the Electoral College system, a candidate for President could be elected President by appealing only to the interest of the largest urban areas and the rest of the country could be ignored.

The Electoral College is comprised of representatives from each state and each state gets a number of electors equal to their number of Senators and Representatives. Thus, not each person’s vote for president is equal. A vote of a person from a small state counts almost twice as much as the vote of a person from a large state. If this seems unfair, then you should surely be for abolishing the U.S. Senate and being governed just by the House of Representatives alone. In the Senate, each state gets two senators regardless of how small or how large the population of the state. In the House there is a representative for about each 734,000 people. Several states have such low population they only have one representative, yet they have two Senators. If you live in a state with low population, your Senate representation is about fifty times greater than if you live in a state with a large population. Is that fair? To my way of thinking it is because I accept that our federal government is designed to represent the interest of the people as individuals and the states that comprise the Union.

As a less philosophical reason but a more practical reason for supporting the Electoral College, consider what would have happened without the Electoral College during the ballot recount of 2010 in the contest between Gore and Bush? If the president were elected by a popular vote, then every vote cast anywhere in the country would have been equal to any other vote in the country and every vote cast anywhere would have had to have the same scrutiny as the votes cast in Florida. Think what a job and nightmare that would have been.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

All of the Syrian refugees are well-vetted, aren't they?

Those who think we should welcome with open hearts and open arms the refugees fleeing the war in Syria, argue that the refugees are well vetted. The Tennessean has spend numerous column-inches arguing that those seeking to enter the country as refugees have all been well-vetted.  So how are refugees "vetted?"

First they must be declared a refugee and there is an international protocol that established that criteria. CNN Politics explains it like this:

Potential refugees first apply for refugee status through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the international body in charge of protecting and assisting refugees.
The UNHCR essentially decides who merits refugee status based on the parameters laid out in the 1951 Refugee Convention, which states that a refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
If you are fleeing a bad situation and simply because you want greater economic opportunity, that is not sufficient to be considered a refugee. If you are simply fleeing war and afraid you might get killed that does not make you a refugee. If one meets the criteria and is then considered a refugee then he may be referred by the UNHRC for resettlement in a third country which has agreed to accept refugees.  Then that third country vets the refugee.

In the United States, the refugee is referred to the  Resettlement Support Center, which gathers information about the candidate to prepare for a screening process, which includes an interview, a medical evaluation and an interagency security screening process aimed at ensuring the refugee does not pose a threat to the United States.

According to The State Department, less than one percent of refugees worldwide are ever resettled in a third country. The average processing time for refugee applications is 18 to 24 months, but Syrian applications can take significantly longer because of security concerns and difficulties in verifying their information. It is not like doing a background check for employment with the CIA or the FBI. An investigation can not call up the refugee's high school teacher or talk to the next door neighbors. They cannot visit the local police station and see if the person has a criminal record. There is not even a Equifax credit report to review.

This is how the State Department website describes the process:
The UNHCR, a U.S. Embassy, or an authorized non-governmental organization (NGO) can refer a refugee to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Once a referral is made, a Resettlement Support Center (RSC) funded and managed by PRM prepares the case for presentation to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The RSC helps the refugee and his /her family (if applicable) prepare their case file - taking photos, checking the facts in the files, collecting information for the security clearance process, etc. Applicants are then interviewed by an officer of DHS' United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The interviewer adjudicates the case. If approved, the applicant and his/her family undergo medical exams, which are standard for all applicants seeking to reside permanently in the United States.
A non-governmental organization (NGO) working under agreement with PRM in the U.S. then agrees to be the refugee's sponsor. Refugees approved for admission are offered a short cultural orientation program to introduce them to life in the United States. Once all security and health checks are complete, refugees are scheduled for travel to the US.
So basically, the refugee is checked against a list of know terrorist and is interviewed. How confident does that make you that the refuges is "vetted?"

There are radical Muslims who want to do us harm. That is indisputable.  That does not mean all Muslims are evil, but the more Muslims allowed to enter the country, the greater the likelihood that among  those admitted as refugees there will be some sleeper terrorist waiting for the opportunity to strike. Also, while I believe most Muslim immigrants will assimilate, there is also a greater opportunity for Muslims who may have come here as legitimate refugees to become radicalized once they are here if we have more Muslims living in our country.

What has been the track record?  Senator Jeff Session recently released a list of twelve Muslim refugees who were vetted and settled in America who became terrorist.  I urge you to follow the link and read the story of these vetted refugees who became terrorist and then see how confident that makes you in the vetting process.  

I know that there are those who would demonize all Americans of the Islamic faith and Muslim immigrants and Muslim refugees and we must be on guard against letting fear lead us to violate our values, as we did in World War II during the Japanese interment in which 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced into interment camps, 62 percent of whom were American citizens. However, to call for a temporary halt to accepting additional Syrian refugees simply seems prudent in my view. To question the vetting process and the wisdom of accepting an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees seems like a wise thing to do. It is not prejudice or xenophobia to urge caution and a review of our vetting process. 

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

President Obama wants to ruin another Thanksgiving.

Remember Thanksgiving of 2013 when President Obama tried to ruin Thanksgiving for millions of families across America by using Pajama Boy to urge people to talk their parents into supporting Obamacare? Well, he wants to ruin this Thanksgiving also. His press Secretary is urging people to lobby their family to support more gun control (link).

I have had many holidays and visits, a couple camping trips, and one Caribbean vacation with family tarnished if not ruined, due to political arguments. Unfortunately, I am often the lone conservative when the gathering is of my mother and my siblings and their families.  My father was a conservative but he has been deceased for many years now. I have one brother who is conservative, but he seldom attends family gatherings. My mother transitioned from being conservative to liberal over the last twenty or so years. She is not hard left and is still conservative on some social and cultural issues, however, she is liberal on most things. She voted for Obama twice.

A few years ago, I was having Thanksgiving at the home of one of my sisters and we went around the table saying what we were thankful for and a friend of my sister's who was at this dinner said she was thankful Obama had been elected President. I bristled inside but did not respond with something equally partisan for which to be thankful.  Over the years, I have learned I have to do a lot of bristling inside or speak up and cause unpleasantness.

For the most part my family and I have learned to avoid unpleasantness by avoiding serious discussions. This works well in one-on-one situations or small groups. We can enjoy each others company and avoid anything of a controversial nature.  Being in the minority however, when the ratio is more like 12-to-one rather than one-on-one or five-to-one, my family members are less inclined to govern expressions of their liberal sentiment. I understand.  They mostly agree on foreign policy, the welfare state, environmentalism, social issues, and any other number of topics. They want to discuss the issues of the day. In a large group it is harder to avoid talking about sensitive and important topics than it is in a small group.  Even what they find humorous and not intended to be offensive, or in discussing movies or books, they reveal their liberal world view and I can either stifle my dissenting view or speak up and cause awkwardness or unpleasantness.

I have more and more learned to stifle, but that is not fun. I also think that I have gotten better at disagreeing without being disagreeable.  I hope I have. Still, being the lone conservative in a house full of liberals is just not fun, even when you love them.  One way I cope is by not staying long. I can go to dinner and stay for a couple hours and that is fine, but a full weekend of family and the more likely it is that their will be conflict.  I can only bottle it up and be on my best behavior for so long. I love my family but I would not want to spend a week at the beech with them all in the same house. I don't want to stifle and bristle inside for that long.

Gun control is an issue about which the country is deeply divided. Rather than bring it up, wouldn't it be better if families could spend good time together this holiday season without getting into a political argument?

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Are the Syrian refugees mostly women and children?

We keep hearing from those who think we ought to open our hearts and our arms to Syrian refugees, that most Syrian refugees are women and children.  President Obama recently targeted Chris Christie's concern about accepting Syrian refugees by saying he was “worried about three-year-old orphans," saying, "that doesn’t sound very tough to me.”

Are most of the refugees women and orphans? Well, we don't know, but this report from BBC News, Syrian refugees in the US explained in graphics, would indicate that that is not so. It is not specific enough to tell us how many of them are children, but it does tell us that the majority of them are male. Also this tells us the demographics of those who have come so far, not those waiting to be admitted.

Age breakdown of Syrian refugee arrivals in the US
October 2011 to present
  • 55.69% under 20 
  • 30.73% age 21 to 40 
  • 12.10% age 41 to 64 
  •  1.48% over 64
There could be a lot of men of terrorist age in these age groups. This would be more useful it the break was "under 12" or "under 16" rather than "under 20." Young men 17, 18, 19, and 20 are prime age for making good terrorist. Young men age 17, 18, 19, and 20 are not children. They make good soldiers.
 Gender breakdown of Syrian refugee arrivals in the US October 2011 to present
  • 47.05% female 
  • 52.95% male
 I think one can conclude that it is inaccurate to say most of the refugees are women and children. 

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Profiteering off poor kids and new market tax credits...

Reposted from TN Edu-Independent - So I just spent 30 minutes using Google to read up on New Market Tax Credits.  I'm therefore not an expert at all, but it's clear that certain Nashville school members who try to act like experts really have NO CLUE what they are talking about.

You can read a social media post here that somehow is supposed to shed light on how NON-PROFIT public charter schools are making tons and tons of money:

First, it needs to be said that it's incredibly demeaning for a publicly elected official on the school board to say that the people associated with KIPP Nashville - its leaders, board of directors, and teachers - exist to profit off the backs of poor (and minority) children.

Next, it is really quite fascinating how one post can have so many myths and false statements. I won't deal with every one of the crazy claims (I could blog for a month), but I'll write about one aspect - those supposedly lucrative New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs).

From the post:
 there is a lot of money to be made off the backs of poor people This irritated my board colleague...who challenged me to explain how non-profit charter schools make money. I explained that there are many ways non-profit charters make money, including: (1) a 39% federal tax credit that allows investors to double their money in seven years; (2) all sorts of land deals, including using taxpayer money to fund land investments that profit the investor, not the taxpayers; (3) requiring students to purchase materials from board members at marked up prices or charging students high prices for lunches and other necessities; and (4) taking money from classrooms and driving it up to the top by, for example, hiring cheaper, inexperienced, uncertified teachers; by using computers instead of teachers for classroom instruction; or by using uncertified teachers for enrichment like art and music.

Double your money in 7 years! Whoa!!! 39% tax credit!!!! Amaze-HING!!!

Except it's not true!!!  Let's back up a second.

What are New Market Tax Credits? (highlighting and emphasis is mine)

"The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) was designed to increase the flow of capital to businesses and low income communities by providing a modest tax incentive to private investors. Over the last ten years, the NMTC has proven to be an effective, targeted and cost-efficient financing tool valued by businesses, communities and investors across the country."

Between 2003 and 2013, $35 billion in direct NMTC investments were made in businesses and these NMTC investments leveraged nearly $70 billion in total capital investment to businesses and revitalization projects in communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment.  Between 2003 and 2012, the NMTC generated about 750,000 jobs, at a cost to the federal government of less than $20,000 per job.  By law, all NMTC investments must be made in economically distressed communities. However, more than 72 percent of all NMTC investments have been in communities exhibiting severe economic distress, including unemployment rates more than 1.5 times the national average, a poverty rate of 30 percent or more, or a median income at or below 60 percent of the area median."

First of all, charter schools represent a teeny tiny, very small amount of this NMTC program. NMTCs can be applied to for-profit businesses and non-profit corporations.

Secondly, I hope people catch the immediate irony of this.

This MNPS School Board member has long identified "poverty" as that which plagues public schools, children and communities from being successful.  So what does she then say about a program that helps provide more affordable capital to invest in low income communities?

#ironic #unbelievable #youhavegottobekiddingme

Feel free to browse a number of projects across America that have used NMTCs to finance projects in low income communities: NMTC at work in Communities Across America.

What are some of the projects that have been financed via NMTCs (that likely otherwise would not have been funded)?

-The construction of a low income health clinic in Memphis, TN:

"MBS Urban Initiatives provided $8.4 million in NMTC financing for the construction of the 45,000 square foot Quimby Plaza building. Located on Poplar Avenue, east of the Memphis Medical District, Quimby Plaza resulted in the creation of 137 construction jobs and 65 permanent jobs and includes a 5,500 square foot community center and management space, as well as 24 units of market-rate rental housing. The building also provides 9,000 square feet of medical office space for Methodist Hospital, a non-profit health care provider that provides low-income residents with access to a full range of medical services."

-The expansion of a food bank in San Antonio, TX:

"When the recession hit in 2008, the demand for SAFB’s food distribution drastically increased, and it expanded food distribution from 35 million pounds in 2009. Demand is to grow to an estimated 60 million pounds in 2014, a 71% overall increase. However, SAFB’s ability to meet this growing demand is constrained by its facility and storage capacity limitations, especially for fresh and healthy food. To help meet this demand, the Texas Mezzanine Fund and National New Markets Fund provided $13 million and $14 million NMTC loans, respectively, to help finance a $28.3 million expansion project. This project will double the overall facility to 204,000 sq. ft., more than double food storage capacity, and triple the cold storage space available for healthy fresh and frozen foods. A new pavilion will be constructed for new community service programs and weekly farmer’s markets"

-The expansion of a school exclusively dedicated to serving homeless youth in San Diego, CA (and is actually a NMTC financed project from a California state based NMTC program, not the federal NMTC program):

"Monarch Schools educates students impacted by homelessness. This transaction allowed Monarch Schools to expand its services from 150 to over 350 children in grades K-12."

Here's a "simplified" chart of how NMTCs work.

Here's basically how this program works:
1. An investor puts up an equity investment into a Community Development Entity "CDE."
2. After that, the CDE can make below market rate loans to Qualified low-income community investments "QLICI"s (food bank, school, nonprofit low income health clinic) for projects.  They can make a below market rate loan thanks to the tax credits.
3. The QLICIs pay interest and principal on the loan back to the CDE.
4. An investor receives an equity return on his/her investment from the CDE and can take tax credits based on the amount equal to 39% of the equity amount invested over the 7 year period.

Why does this help low income communities? Basically because it subsidizes the cost of capital on financing projects in low income areas.  If you haven't noticed, access to capital is hard to come by in low-income communities. Banks don't really exist in poor neighborhoods, but payday lenders reign and charge exorbitant interest rates.

"By combining the tax credits with a below-market interest rate, the investor is generally able to obtain a sufficient return on investment to justify the risk associated with investing in a low-income community business. Representatives from one CDE we interviewed said that the CDE can generally offer loans with interest rates between 3.5 and 4.0 percentage points below the standard market rates at a given time and in a given location. Depending on prevailing market interest rates for loans, NMTC loans under the subsidized rate model could be as much or more than 50 percent below market interest rates. For example, if an investor were to offer a loan to a QALICB at a 7 percent interest rate, subsidizing the loan with NMTCs would likely allow the investor to offer the loan at 3.5 percent or 3.0 percent, or about 50 percent to 57 percent below market, resulting in considerable interest savings to the QALICB."

And the supposed "double your money" claim?  Simple arithmetic tells us absolutely no way.  

For starters, the investor's money must stay out for 7 years to get the tax credits.  Not many investors like having their money locked up for 7 years (just to get some tax credits).  The 39% tax credit is also spread over 7 years, so you can get a tax credit of only 5 or 6% per year (that offsets tax liability).

A tax credit of 5 or 6% per year IS NOT a 5 or 6% return of your money per year.

Think about the math in simple terms. QALICBs (nonprofits that benefit from a subsidized loan) are paying a 5-6% interest rate on loans to the CDEs.  Given the fact that inflation is 1-2% per year, there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that investors DOUBLE their money (a 100% return) over a 7 year period.

Even when considering the amount of the tax credit + the return of capital from the investment made to the CDE, the CDE that is only loaning that amount out at 5-6% and also taking some cut of that loan paid back as a fee to operate...there is NO WAY that an investor "doubles" their money.

I searched pretty extensively, and the highest investment return for an investor using NMTCs that I could find was 24%...24% is FAR FROM 100%, and also again remember that was after 7 years, and it appeared to be through a leveraged loan financing model and using NMTCs (more complex and higher risk).

In the specific case of KIPP Nashville, their facility at Highland Heights did receive capital funds allocated from the city of Nashville through municipal bond financing, not NMTCs, but it should also be noted that those funds went to revitalizing a historic building (in a low income community in Nashville), adding a park, and creating a community space. There will also be about 800 students there when the high school fills out, not the ridiculous 100 that was claimed. KIPP Academy Nashville does not own their building, and must pay rent to the city.  

Do MNPS district schools have to pay rent to the city or the district? No. KIPP Nashville does.

It should also be noted that KIPP's facility renovation was financed by the City of Nashville through the sale of municipal bonds to investors (at 4-5% interest rate per year, municipal bonds likely make investors more money than a NMTC investor would earn, especially given the tax free nature of municipal bonds for investors).  The City of Nashville (Davidson Co) finances MNPS buildings this way too, through selling municipal bonds to finance capital projects.  This past year, the city approved $141 million in capital projects for district schools.

Guess how much public charters got out of that $141 million?  Zip. Zilch. Nada.

If you went back over the past couple of years, and calculated the totals of capital outlay money allocated to the district from the City of Nashville, it is going to be hundreds of millions of dollars put towards capital projects in district schools, and still Zip, Zilch, Nada for public charter schools.

Is that fair? Hardly. Charter school parents pay taxes too, taxes that are used to pay back the municipal bonds that the city of Nashville sold. Charter school parents pay for district school buildings but don't see any benefit for their kid's buildings.

If MNPS board members don't like the idea that public charter schools governed by UNPAID community volunteers might tap New Market Tax Credits to help finance a school building, then they could solve that problem and start providing facility financing or capital outlay funds to charter schools.

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Marsha Blackburn's Chocolate Attack Sunday November 29th

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Middle Tennessee Republican Women's 2nd Saturday Brunch, Dec. 12

What: SAVE THE DATE! Middle Tennessee Republican Women's 2nd Saturday Brunch
When: December 12, 2015 8:30am--10am
Where: The Egg & I,  710 Old Hickory Blvd, Ste 307, Brentwood, TN 37027.

We hope you can join us for our first monthly brunch. MTRW wants to be involved in the community to spread our conservative values.

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Sen. Bob Corker: Visa Waiver Program More Concerning Than Refugee Crisis

Press release, WASHINGTON – Appearing on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom,” U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, discussed the need to ensure our nation’s refugee program has integrity and warned that our visa waiver program may pose an even greater risk if gaps are not addressed.

“I think what people on both sides of the aisle are beginning to realize is the refugee program is certainly something that needs to be looked at…we need to make sure that it has integrity,” said Corker. “But people are realizing that the visa waiver program that we have with multitudes of countries in Europe probably poses a much greater risk to us than even the refugee program. There are all of these tools that exist for people to come into our country, and there are some gaps in them that could pose a security threat.”

Corker added, “I understand Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is introducing a bill…relative to the waiver program I was just talking about, which again, appears to have much greater gaps in it even than the potential gaps that exist with the refugee program. So, I think what you’re going to see happen is, though this veto threat may exist on a piece of legislation, my sense is there is going to be an even broader piece of legislation that is considered by both houses so we can carry out our number one responsibility and that is making sure our citizens are protected.”

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Gallup Poll: Americans Again Opposed to Taking In Refugees

Gallup PRINCETON, N.J. -- Americans, by 60% to 37%, oppose plans for the U.S. to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees who are trying to escape the civil war in their country. This is in keeping with Americans' historical tendency to oppose taking in large numbers of refugees, something that has been evident in similar situations as far back as the 1930s.
Support for the United States' Taking in Refugees, Gallup Polls
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill to tighten the federal government's screening requirements on refugees from Syria. This action came after many governors said their states would refuse to take these refugees. Many in favor of halting the refugee program cite increased concerns about terrorism in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month.

Majority in U.S. Disapprove of Plan to Take In Syrian Refugees
Despite the specific concerns about possible terrorism associated with accepting Syrian refugees, Americans' opposition to the current plan is in line with public opinion on refugee situations in the past. Across seven different refugee situations since 1939 for which Gallup has a basic support or opposition measure, the average level of public support has been 33% and the average level of opposition has been 57%.

Of these seven situations, the only one a majority of Americans supported involved Kosovo refugees in 1999. However, support may have been higher because the question mentioned that only several hundred refugees were being accepted, and the question was asked after the government had already taken that action.

Americans are a bit more positive when asked if the Syrian refugees would be welcomed if they came to their community -- 49% say they would be welcomed and 46% say they would not be. However, that is a slightly more negative assessment than Gallup found in a 1979 poll asking about Southeast Asian refugees, also known as the "boat people." At that time, 57% of Americans said those refugees would be welcomed in their community and 30% said they would not be.

In 1979 as well as now, many more said refugees would be welcomed in their community than were in favor of having them enter the U.S. This could indicate that Americans are expressing positive sentiments about their local community as much as support for the policy on taking in refugees when asked whether refugees would be welcomed.

Republicans Least Supportive of Taking In Syrian Refugees
Politics are a major influence on Americans' views about Syrian refugees. The majority of Democrats, 57%, approve of the plan for the U.S. to take the refugees, but a far larger majority of Republicans, 84%, disapprove. Independents' views are similar to the national average. These partisan differences are similar to what occurred in the House vote on the Syrian refugee bill, with nearly all Republicans voting in favor of the measure to tighten requirements for those refugees to gain entry to the U.S., and most Democrats voting against it.
Opinions on Syrian Refugees Coming to U.S., by Political Party
Roughly six in 10 Democrats approve of the plan and say Syrian refugees would be welcomed in their local community. Republicans and, to a lesser degree, independents, are more inclined to believe Syrian refugees would be welcomed than to approve of letting them into the U.S. in the first place. Notably, though, a majority of Republicans still say the refugees would not be welcomed where they live.

Last week's House bill passed with enough votes to override an expected veto from President Barack Obama. However, as of now it is not clear whether the Senate will take up the measure, let alone pass it.

If the president does move forward on his plans to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees, he would be doing so without the American public's support. However, that would hardly be unprecedented, as Americans historically have not been supportive of plans to bring refugees to the U.S., and presidents have sometimes acted to take in refugees despite public opposition.

Why Americans have historically not been supportive of accepting refugees is unclear. To some degree it could be related to their more general views on having large numbers of new people enter the country, whether that be immigrants coming to the U.S. by choice or refugees coming to escape a troubled situation in their home country.

Americans have consistently said that immigration to the United States is a good thing. However, in the past 50 years Gallup has never found more than about a quarter of Americans calling for an increase in immigration levels; typically they have favored keeping the levels where they are, but at times a majority has called for a decrease. Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

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A Thanksgiving Lesson

As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s not only remember the lessons of Plymouth — let’s commit to proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, property rights and free markets more boldly than ever.  Otherwise we’ll have even less to be thankful about next year.
By Howard Rich — The Separatist Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in November 1620 began their new settlement utilizing overtly communist economic principles.  In addition to common ownership of the land, the Pilgrims farmed corn on a communal plot and divided their harvest evenly amongst themselves.

This is the theoretical Marxist utopia — minus indoor plumbing, NPR, MSNBC and portable electronic devices powered by Solyndra solar panels, naturally.  But did this early communist experiment work?  Did it succeed at putting food on the table?

Not according to William Bradford, an early Pilgrim governor of the colony best known today as the “Father of Thanksgiving.”

The communal arrangement initially employed by the Pilgrims was “found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort,” Bradford wrote in his journal, which was later compiled into Of Plymouth Plantation.

Why did this arrangement fail?  Because as has been the case from time immemorial, the equitable division of inequitably produced assets did not sit well with those whose labors yielded the harvest.
“For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense,” Bradford wrote.

But enmity amongst settlers wasn’t the real problem encountered at Plymouth — it was a shortage of food.  In his book Mayflower: A Story of Courage Community and War historian Nathaniel Philbrick discusses how communal farming and common ownership produced a “disastrous harvest.”

Faced with the prospect of starvation, Bradford “decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew,” according to Philbrick.  Not surprisingly this approach replaced infighting and starvation with harmony and industry — not to mention an abundance of food.

“This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content,” Bradford wrote.

In other words where top-down planning based on communist ideology failed — the enforcement of private property rights based on free market ideology succeeded.

“The change in attitude was stunning,” Philbrick writes. “Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before.”

“The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism,” Philbrick added, noting that “although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.”

As the United States moves further away from its free market foundation this Thanksgiving, the example of Plymouth is worth considering.  It is a cautionary tale — a grim reminder of where the federal government’s present trajectory is going to take our nation.

Already the “fair share” policies of Barack Obama — who is making good on his stated desire to “spread the wealth” around — have failed to produce the promised economic recovery.  In fact America’s central bank is now printing money indefinitely as government’s debt and unfunded liabilities race past the threshold of sustainability.

The result of this “stimulus?”  Income levels are shrinking, joblessness remains chronically high and economic growth is anemic.  And lurking around the corner are massive tax hikes and the full implementation of Obama’s socialized medicine law — both of which will result in additional large-scale shifts from the “makers” to the “takers” in our society.

Incentivizing dependency has clearly failed to stimulate our economy.  From 2000-10, government’s cash assistance to the poor increased by 68 percent — after adjusting for inflation.  Health care assistance increased by 87 percent, housing assistance by 108 percent and food assistance by 139 percent — again, all after adjusting for inflation.  Still, poverty in America climbed from 11.3 to 15.1 percent during that time period.

Government efforts to combat poverty have produced more poverty, in other words — and based on the ongoing entitlement expansion, the worst is likely yet to come.

As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s not only remember the lessons of Plymouth — let’s commit to proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, property rights and free markets more boldly than ever.  Otherwise we’ll have even less to be thankful about next year.

The author is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

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The Thanksgiving Proclamation of George Washington, 1789

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. Go. Washington

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First Tuesday: "ITS PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS TIME IN TN"!! Tuesday, Dec 1.

From Tim Skow:

1ST TUESDAY members and friends:


1ST TUESDAY is bringing you more LEADERS of the campaigns you most want to hear before the March 1st "SEC Primary".... that includes us in Tennessee.

Flying in to Nashville to represent the TRUMP Campaign is their renowned NATIONAL CO-CHAIR and Sr. POLICY ADVISER SAM CLOVIS !!

Mr. Clovis is literally the “ICON of IOWA” when it comes to Republican presidential politics! He is truly a power player of our time! Mr. Clovis certainly makes the TRUMP campaign a force earning delegates in the notoriously difficult Iowa Caucus process!

Representing the CRUZ Campaign, from the Cruz Campaign State Leadership Team is noted talk show host & former candidate for Congress, Tennessee’s own Steve Gill.

Buoyed by a formidable ground game [including most leaders of “YES on 1” initiative ] and a well-funded PAC already running radio spots in rural TN, the CRUZ campaign is banking on Tennessee

As usual, we will meet at WALLER Law - 511 Union St. 27th floor. Doors open at 11AM for Coffee and Social time. Lunch, at 11:30, is $20 for 2015 Members and $25 for Guests. Program starts at NOON sharp. Secure seating for yourself at Guests at and click "Join Us"..... Remember..... parking is just $5 under the building !!

See you on TUESDAY, December 1ST !

Tim Skow

PS - remember - 2016 annual dues are due. For those contributing $50 or more to the TN National Guard Toy Fund Drive that our Nashville Republican Women help sponsor each year --- please send your checks to my attention at Box 1233 Brentwood, TN. 2016 dues will be waived and new 2016 name tags will be ready for "Santa's helpers" !

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Carol Swain says, "When I leave Vanderbilt, it will be on my own terms."

Writing on her Facebook page, embattled Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, under attack by leftist crybaby students who want to silence what is probably the only conservative voice on campus says, "I am scheduled to teach two courses at Vanderbilt during the spring semester. Any of the students attacking me are welcome to enroll in one of my classes. I will treat them with the respect I have always shown students. In the current controversy, Vanderbilt students are learning valuable life lessons by observing the world's reaction to their online petition and personal conduct. I would like to see the Vanderbilt campus become more open to conservative thought. I would also like to see the Vanderbilt administrators take steps to restore the rights of conservative Christian student groups. When I leave Vanderbilt, it will be on my own terms. It will not be because of a group of bullies and their enablers."

My Comment: Hang tough Professor Swain and my God richly bless you. Thank you for your courageous stand.  To follow Dr. Swain on Facebook follow this link. To see the petition opposed and in favor of Dr. Swain and all Disgruntled Republican post concerning Dr. Swain follow this link.

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