Justice For Balto

Meet Balto. Balto was once a beautiful, healthy Siberian Husky. In August 2012, he was adopted from Miami-Dade Animal Services. That should have been the happy ending. It was not.

Please, somebody, tell me how this is not being prosecuted as animal abuse/neglect by Miami-Dade Animal Services

Balto was dumped back at Miami-Dade shelter less than two months later in the condition you see above, by the “adopter”. Animal lovers in Miami saw him and the condition he was in and valiantly fought to rescue him. After but a few hours at the shelter, he was pulled out by a rescue worker and brought to a veterinarian. Despite the best efforts of all involved, Balto went septic and passed away at the vet.

I live in Texas and was not personally involved in the rescue, just watched as it unfolded on Facebook. I’m still in communication with the people who were involved, so I don’t have all the details yet, so bear with me.

Balto had a mild case of demodex (mange) at the time he was adopted out in August. The new owners were allegedly made aware of this. The owner did subsequently bring Balto to her own vet, and was given a prescription on September 9th. But she did not fill the prescription. Balto’s condition was allowed to worsen to the point you see here over the next three weeks. I have read there were neck injuries consistent with being left tied up outside. This was an Arctic breed dog, with a serious skin condition, left outside in Miami late summer heat and humidity.

Failure to seek medical treatment IS animal cruelty under the law. http://www.miamidade.gov/animals/cruelty_law.asp

In early October, the owner just dumped Balto back at the shelter where she got him.

Now, I will admit, the owner may have made more of an effort than it appears to care for Balto. I believe she should have to defend herself in court. I believe there is enough evidence here for charges to be filed. But no charges were filed, the case was closed, and this person was allowed to walk away without any legal consequences.

If you agree that Balto deserves his day in court, if you believe Miami-Dade needs to better screen adopters, if you believe no one who takes on responsibility for a pet should be allowed to neglect its medical issues without consequence, please communicate your disgust, anger, and heartsickness to the proper authorities. ESPECIALLY if you live in Florida. You may also want to get the attention of news outlets in the area. Obviously, this will have more impact coming from locals, but it can’t hurt for them to know of growing national outrage either.

Mayor:

http://www.miamidade.gov/mayor/contact.asp

Miami-Dade Animal Services

http://www.miamidade.gov/animals/contact-us.asp

District Attorney

http://www.miamisao.com/contactus/index.htm

I will update as I get more specifics.

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The Stakes Are Even Higher Now

Like many conservatives, the announcement of Paul Ryan as Romney’s VP pick made me very happy. I can’t wipe this silly smile off my face. It’s not Rand Paul my first choice, but of the likely possibilities, Ryan was the best. He will fight for fiscal sanity. I can’t wait for the showdowns with Harry Reid in the Senate. I have no doubt Ryan will call ol’ Harry out on shennanigans. And the VP debate? I can see Biden’s head exploding already.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s a nice young fellow, easy on the eyes, that may bring in some of the shallow female vote. (The non-shallow female vote is already in the Romney camp).

BUT while this is a great pick, we are screwed more than ever if Obama does win a second term. I didn’t think anything could make an Obama second term worse, but losing Paul Ryan’s leadership in the house would do it. Ryan can’t be re-elected to his House seat now. Chew on that for a second. Replacing his fiscal leadership in the House is impossible. He would have been the mattress in the canyon at the bottom of the fiscal cliff Obama is driving us off of. Now, if Obama is re-elected, he’s on the sidelines.

Be careful what you wish for. I love the Ryan pick, but if Romney loses, we are even more screwed, something I didn’t think was possible.

 

How Many Bites Of The Apple Does The Federal Government Really Get?

I’ve heard just about enough Leftist whining about how a lower rate on capital gains is an unfair tax break abused by the rich.

Let’s follow investment income and how it is taxed as it wends its way through the economy.

Individual investor A has earned $100,000 he’d like to invest. First, that income is taxed at (at least) 15% in Federal income income taxes, so Investor A has $85,000 left to invest. He buys stock in Corporation B.

Let’s assume that Investor A holds his stock for 10 years, and the average of annual net income is 10% of his initial investment, so there’s income of $85,000 over 10 years. Of this, 50% paid in dividends, and 50% reinvested in the company to grow it. At the end of the 10 years, Investor A sells the stock for 127,500, or a gain of 42,500, on which he pays individual income tax of 15%. Over the 10 year period, assume the dividends have also been taxed at 15%. Over 10 years of owning the stock, the individual investor pays 12,750 in tax.

But first, before any income is available for dividends or being reinvested to grow the corporation, corporate income taxes must be paid. So the 10% dividend/capital gain income Investor A has realized is after corporate income taxes. For the sake of keeping it simple, let’s say the average corporate tax rate in this case is also 15%. To net $85,000 gains/dividend income, the corporation would have needed to make $100,000 and paid $15,000 in corporate income taxes.

So to recap, starting with $100,000, getting $42,500 in dividend income over 10 years and $42,500 capital gain in the final year, revenue to the government consists of $15,000 individual income taxes before anything is invested, 12,750 in taxes paid on capital gain and dividend income over 10 year period by Investor A, and $15,000 income taxes paid by the Corporation B. So far, the government has taken a cut of $42,750 from $185,000 in income, or 23%.

That may sound low, but let’s remember, that’s over a period of 10 years. Capital gains don’t take inflation or the time value of money into account.

Also consider whether the corporation had employees. Suppose it took $200,000 in wages to make the $100,000 in net income. I think people sometimes forget that employers match the Social Security taxes paid by employees. At a rate of 7.65%, that’s another $15,300 in taxes collected by the federal government. But wait, that’s social security, not income taxes, I’m comparing apples and oranges. Am I really, as long as the Federal government raids the “Trust Fund” for general spending, leaving the “Trust Fund” with nothing but IOU’s?

If you do add the Social Security/Medicare taxes of 15,300, it raises the taxes to $58,050, or 31% of the income generated.

This is obviously a simplistic example. But it should serve as an illustration of how “rich” investors directly and indirectly pay taxes beyond a “preferential” rate of 15% on capital gains.

This doesn’t even begin the take into account the state and local taxes paid by corporations, the costs of compliance with government regulations, and the benefit to the economy of a business employing people and growing a business.

So let’s see a little respect and appreciation for the “investor class”, shall we?

The Suspense Is Killing Me

I can’t stand the wait on the Supreme Court to announce its decision on Obamacare.  When it was tried, June seemed like a long way away, and now that June’s here…

It’s my hope, of course, that Obamacare is overturned completely, that the mandate is deemed unconstitutional and the lack of a severability clause invalidates the whole ugly hot mess of a bill.

Are there problems with our healthcare system? Yes. Is the massive, sweeping “reform” of Obamacare going to fix it? No. What we need are narrow, targeted, economically and constitutionally sound solutions. This is not what we’re getting.

But, rather than saying we should do nothing, here’s what I would do.

The state and Federal government should work together on easing restrictions on selling insurance in multiple states. Remove capricious barriers to entry. The states need to be an important part of the work to increase competition and individual coverage options – far more so than the Federal government.

We do have some systemic problems in the health insurance industry. Companies that drop people just because they’ll gotten ill and made claims is at best an unsavory practice, bordering on fraud. (I tend to think this doesn’t happen nearly as often as the Left would have us believe however.) It isn’t fair that someone who loses their insurance may be locked out of the market because they have a pre-existing condition, but neither is it fair for people who’ve never paid a dime for insurance to jump in the pool when they develop an expensive malady. I would suggest tax incentives, not mandates, for insurance companies to accept high risk patients. The incentive should be higher if the customer has been carrying insurance, but lost it. Perhaps a sliding scale based on the proportion of time they’ve been covered in the last 5 years or so. If you’ve been meeting your responsibilities, carrying insurance, and suddenly lose it, the tax incentive for the insurance company would subsidize the additional risk the new carrier would take on, allowing you to buy insurance at rates comparable to what you’ve been paying. The incentives could pay for themselves if a financial penalty is imposed for arbitrarily dropping patients who become ill. But if you have irresponsibly failed to provide insurance for yourself and/or your family, the rest of us should not be on the hook for it. You SHOULD pay more than the rest of us.

We should move to increase portability and decrease the amount of health insurance dependent on employment. The true cost of health insurance is masked by the fact that people do not usually pay for it directly. Just as we’d have a full-fledged revolution if we had to pay our income taxes in a lump sum, if the amount paid for health insurance weren’t mitigated by employers, we’d have seen market forces working to keep premiums down a long time ago. Obamacare takes us in the opposite direction. By continuing to play the shell game to hide the true price of insurance from the ultimate end-users, it negates the market forces that would otherwise work to lower costs and improve the product.

Another way Obamacare works contrary to economic common sense is in the mandate for insurance to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for a wide range of predictable and routine expenditures. We need to return to the concept that insurance should cover risk of the unknown and the unpredictable, not the normal. If our auto insurance was mandated to cover oil changes, so we weren’t responsible for our own car maintenance, we’d probably have $300 oil changes. I don’t think health care is any different. If health care providers had to compete for the dollars of informed consumers, we’d see much greater economy and efficiency in the market. We’ve seen it in the areas of health care that are not covered by insurance, like cosmetic surgery and Lasik. Those procedures haven’t been subject to the astronomical rise we’ve seen in other health care costs.

However, while one can easily get caught up in debating the minutiae of Obamacare, and the wisdom or lack thereof in the provisions contained within, I’d just like to take a step back from that particular monstrosity and review key provisions in a simpler, shorter, and wiser document that few seem to have any familiarity with. The Constitution of the United States.

In Article I, section 8, the powers of Congress are delineated, among them the power to lay and collect taxes, to borrow money on the credit of the US, to regulate foreign commerce, coin money, regulate bankruptcy and immigration, to establish post offices, raise and support a military, declare war, etc. This is but a partial list, but one can clearly see that the founders intended the Federal government to exercise only very specific powers.

This intent was reinforced by the adoption of the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

While the Constitution is continually and grievously abused, that is no reason to meekly accept more of the same.

There is simply no Constitutional authority, in my opinion, for the Federal government to regulate the health care and insurance industry to the extent Obamacare does.

That is at the core of my opposition to the bill and my hope it is overturned.

That said, something should be done to make health care more affordable and available. But the impetus should come from the individual states. Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii – all states that have attempted to “do something” about the problem, with varying degrees of success. I believe that with 50 different laboratories working on the issues we face, we are more likely to come up with something workable that other states will come to emulate. We will have far more input and viewpoints entering into the debate than the narrow lobbyist-driven, Beltway-blindered course Obamacare would lead us down.

Meanwhile, we wait.  The suspense is killing me.

"Miss Me Yet?"

In response to the billboards and other media with a smiling George W. Bush with the caption “Miss me yet?”, I’d have to say “No”.

Oh sure, I suppose I could miss W in the way a woman being tortured and killed might miss the old boyfriend who slapped her around but broke no bones.

But really, miss Bush?

TARP started on his watch.

No Child Gets Ahead – Oops, I mean No Child Left Behind.

Implementation of another huge social welfare program, Medicare Part D, was on his watch.

The coining of the phrase “compassionate conservatism”. I always resented the implication that us regular Goldwater-Reagan conservatives are not compassionate.

With a Republican Congress for 6 of his 8 years, he accomplished no meaningful conservative reforms or significant cutbacks in the growth and reach of the Federal government into areas best governed by states and local communities.

While I think he governed with the best of intentions and isn’t the Anti-Christ as portrayed by many in the far left, he didn’t come close to embodying true conservative values.

No, I don’t miss him.

In a way, he made things worse for conservatives, due to the common misconception that being Republican means a person is conservative. We have the Far Left telling us conservatives had our chance and our conservative policies failed.

No, we haven’t had our chance. Conservative policies didn’t fail because they were not implemented.

Don’t get me wrong. Obama is far worse than Bush. Things got worse under Bush when the Democrats took over Congress in 2006. W is not entirely to blame. But I really can’t say I miss him.

Who Needs Socialism?

If one calls Obama a socialist in mixed political company, there is always the progressive who (with a haughty sniff) insists you don’t know what socialism is, and you should look it up in the dictionary. America, they sneer, isn’t anywhere close to socialism, since we still have individual and corporate ownership of the means of production.

Within the strict definition of the word socialism, they are correct. However, the policies of the Obama administration accomplish the same end – removing control of commerce from individuals, and in doing so, reduce if not eliminate the value of investment in private enterprise.

Healthcare “reform” is a prime example. With the passage of Obamacare, the Federal government literally dictates what insurance products may and may not be sold, what customers they must sell to, and how much profit they are allowed to keep from these sales. Who needs socialism when the government can simply micromanage an industry legislatively?

Take the auto industry. What good is owning an automobile factory if you want to produce gas-eating fire-breathing muscle cars but government says you must build econoboxes? With further increases in CAFE standards from a target of 35.5 mpg in 2016 to 54.5 mpg by 2025, it’s getting there. For every Corvette and Cadillac sold, they’ll need more and more Cruze Ecos and Volts built to meet the average. Profit margins are greater on Cadillacs and Corvettes, but GM will be allowed to sell fewer and fewer of them. By regulation, the Federal government negatively impacts the earning capacity of a major industry. Who needs socialism when government can instruct industry to ignore consumer demands and instead supply the product the government thinks citizens should buy?

There is also the manner in which Obama took the GM bankruptcy out of the courts and into his own hands to turn over a large part of the ownership of GM to the UAW at the expense of bondholders. Who needs socialism when the government can ignore the rule of law in order to turn over industry to workers?

The Obama administration has made significant changes to the regulation of the financial industry. Banks made huge investments in the programming and infrastructure that allows greater numbers of merchants to accept debit and credit cards. These investments were made on the premise that the costs would be recouped by fees collected from merchants at the point of sale. Merchants across the country agreed to pay these fees. That is, until major retailers were successful in lobbying Congress to cap the merchant fees as part of financial system “reform”. The end result? Retailers save billions, banks stuck with the bill. Add to that the continual efforts to dictate mortgage terms and retroactive revision of loans already entered into. The inviolability of a contract is a cornerstone of a capitalism system. Who needs socialism when the government can reach in to change contract terms at will?

Through regulation, legislation, and executive fiat, this administration is engaging in a form of virtual eminent domain. There is no physical, legal “taking” of property, but rather the encumbrance of private enterprise with expensive and counterproductive mandates. The impact of this insidious process erodes the value of business ownership. With the overreach of the government into the private sector, businesses can’t rely on contracts entered into by parties of their own free will, but must deal with the risk that government may arbitrarily change these terms, possibly to the detriment of both parties. Neither can businesses operate in the most sensible and cost-effective manner, sensitive to consumer demands. Instead, they are stuck with costly and inefficient mandates and restrictions on what consumer demanded products they are allowed to manufacture. Without the freedom to control the means of production, legal title becomes increasingly meaningless.

This process did not start with the Obama administration, but it has escalated, and it seems to have become increasingly accepted by voters and legislators. This trend cannot continue. This election is critical. We must elect a President and legislators who respect the rule of law, respect free market capitalism, and respect the rights of business to manage themselves responsibly for the benefit of their owners, their employees, and their consumers. If we let Big Government continue to make slaves of business enterprises, it will make slaves of us all.

Voting Rights AND Responsibilities

There are no rights without responsibilities. This is as true of the right to vote as it is other rights we hold dear. Our right to vote is infringed upon when it is not counted or when it is cancelled out by a fraudulent vote. It is not infringed upon by requirements that merely require one behave as a responsible adult.

Voter ID is a prime example. Many States are making the attempt to prevent voter fraud by requiring voter ID at the polls. In response to criticism that the poor, disabled and/or elderly may not have valid state ID, states have offered to provide a government issued ID free of charge. This is not enough for the Left. The requirement to show ID such as a birth certificate to secure a valid state ID is also apparently too much of a burden for the disadvantaged. But while it certainly isn’t against the law to have misplaced your birth certificate or naturalization papers, responsible adults in this country should have this and other important paperwork and know where it is. Parents should be responsible with their children’s birth certificates or other evidence of citizenship until the children come of age. This is nothing more than common sense. Having these documents or securing them when you need them is just part of the privilege of being an adult in this country. It is time to start treating all people as adults, not as children who cannot be counted on to do their homework without supervision. The only exception I might consider making is when communities and public records are destroyed by natural disasters and documents are therefore not replaceable. If the Left wishes to focus its GOTV campaigns on people who are for one reason or another lacking either state-issued ID or the documents needed to secure one, then it needs to focus as well on helping people get those documents too. For that matter, the Republicans could make a sincere effort in that area. If you can provide a ride to the polls election day, you can provide a ride to the DMV or help someone get a copy of their birth certificate ahead of time.

I’m originally from Nevada, where voters are required to register 30 days before an election in order to vote in it. I oppose same day voter registration. In my opinion, it is an invitation to fraud, as it makes it possible for people to register and vote at multiple locations. It is up to the individual to pay attention to deadlines and register on time. A voter is no more disenfranchised by the requirement to register ahead of time than they would be trying to vote the day after the election.

There is currently outrage on the Left due to the state of Florida attempting to purge its voter rolls of non-citizens. The Left would have you believe that people are going to show up at the polls and be denied the right to vote with no warning. But all Florida is asking is for people who may not be citizens to verify their legal status. They are being notified there is a question, well ahead of election day, and being given ample time to respond. I simply do not see this as unreasonable. “But what if someone doesn’t get their notice?” the Left whines. Two points. One, this has been all over the national news, so I have no doubt it is big in the local news also. If a voter has any reason at all to think they might be part of the purge, all they probably have to do is call and ask. Two, maybe they didn’t receive it because it was sent to the wrong address. If it was sent to the wrong address, it means the voter didn’t properly update their voter registration with their new address, as required by law. So it all comes back to personal responsibility. Naturally, since Obama, Holder and his DOJ see absolutely everything through racism-colored glasses, they’re screaming that the voter purge is targeting minorities. No, it’s targeting possible non-citizens fraudulently voting in U.S. elections. Has it occurred to the leftists that perhaps, just perhaps, non-citizens residing in the Florida just happen to be minorities in a greater percentage than the general population of the state? It’s not as if there has been a steady stream of Northern European immigrants to Florida in recent years.

I liken voting to serving on a jury. We have the right to a jury trial, and by extension, the people have a duty to serve on juries when possible. If you are chosen to be on a jury, you will be thrown off the jury if you snooze throughout the trial or fail to follow the rules of the court. So it is with our right and the duty to vote. We The People are the judge and jury of our elected officials. Those who sleep through the electoral process or don’t follow the rules may end up not exercising their right to vote, i.e. be thrown off the jury. And that is no one’s fault but their own.