About Adam J. Bulava

I am a high school social studies teacher for the Lutheran School Association High School in Decatur, Illinois. I love reading, talking, discussing and writing about American history, government, politics and current events in relation to our found documents and their original intent.

Public Policy: My Tax Plan

NOTE ON COMMENTING ON THE POST:  If you want to comment please do so at my blog page. Comments on my Facebook will not be monitored or replied to for various personal reasons. Thanks for your consideration in this matter.  Have a nice day and enjoy your reading.

Lets be honest, our tax system in the United States is overly complicated.  It is over 80,000 pages long.  If you took the same tax information to five different tax preparers you would come up with five different tax returns.  The system needs change to make it easier, fairer and more equitable for all taxpayers and businesses.  Below is an outline that describes the major features of the tax plan that would replace the current tax code, if I were President of the United States.

Individual and Corporate Income Taxes
While I do not agree with the income tax, it is a part of our system and we should use it to the best of our ability to help pay for the government we have today and in the future. The design of this is to tax both individuals and businesses fairly and equitably.  Both benefit from our society and both need to contribute taxes based on their levels of wealth and success, because those who do better can help out those who might be struggling.

  1. General Principles: Taxes will be levied against individuals (not couples) and any for profit business in the same fashion. The government will tax the income/revenue of an individual and/or business with a flat tax rate that goes up based on the amount of you/it earns. Dividends, rents, and other forms of non-hourly or salary income will be counted as revenue for individuals and businesses.
  2. Taxes & Welfare: All income earned below the poverty line shall be non-taxable until filing.  At that point, every tax filer below the poverty line would pay a small set amount of money in income taxes (Section #3.A). This does not mean cannot businesses will not assess and deduct income taxes to people who work for them below the poverty line, but it does mean that if they are earning below the poverty line, determined by local factors, they will receive a tax refund of all taxes deducted from their paycheck for the past fiscal year. Also, welfare and state assistance programs that provide cash assistance to individuals will be counted as part of an individual’s income when determining taxes.
  3. Individual Progressive Flat Tax Levels: The tax percentage levied against anindividualwill be determined by the amount of income they earned from all sources (gross taxable income), minus the allowable income reductions (Section #4).  Individuals tax level can never be lower than one level below their tax level based on their gross taxable income).
    1. Level A (Below Poverty Line): Only individuals with gross taxable income below the poverty line are able to be taxed at this level.  At filing each individual with earned income will be required to pay $100/year which can be deducted from any possible tax refund or paid directly by the individual to the federal tax agency.
    2. Level B (Up to 150% of Poverty Line): 5% of net taxable income.
    3. Level C (Up to 200% of Poverty Line): 10% of net taxable income.
    4. Level D (Up to 250% of Poverty Line): 15% of net taxable income.
    5. Level E (Up to 300% of Poverty Line): 20% of net taxable income
    6. Level F (Up to 350% of Poverty Line): 25% of net taxable income.
    7. These levels can continue at a predictable basis up to 50% of net taxable income.
  4. Individual Taxable Revenue Reductions: There will be no tax credits or deductions other  than those listed below. Individualsare encouraged toprovide for themselves responsible benefits.  Any money that an individual spends on providing these responsible benefits will lower their tax revenue burden and their possible taxes.
    1. Retirement Savings: Money saved by an individual for their eventual retirement will be deducted from their gross taxable revenue. The limits on such contributions will be capped at 15% of an individual’s gross annual pay. Individuals may allot more money to said accounts but they will not be allowed to deduct that money from their total taxable income. The individual must provide receipts of deposits/withdrawals into approved retirement accounts during from the previous fiscal year.
    2. Health & Medical Care:  The money that individuals spend on providing for the health and medical care of themselves and/or their dependants will be deducted from their taxable revenues.  They must provide receipts of money spent on providing health insurance and anything necessary to provide medical care for yourself or your dependents for the previous fiscal year.
    3. Education & Training: Any money spent by an individual educating themselves or their dependants can be deducted from their gross taxable revenue.  This may be limited according to law on a per person basis. Individuals must provide receipts of money spent during this year on education, including; tuition, books, fees, supplies, etc.  Money allotted to specialized educational accounts will be included in this part of the policy.
    4. Debt Retirement: Debt is a wealth killer and individuals that retire and stay out of debt deserve a small reward for doing so.  First, there will be a one time set taxable revenue reduction for any debt retired by the individual or corporation during the fiscal year.  Also a small taxable revenue reduction will be given to all individuals and businesses who do not take on any debt.
  5. Business Progressive Flat Tax Levels: The tax percentage levied against an individual business according will be determined by the amount of revenue they earned from all sources (gross taxable income), minus the allowable income reductions (Section #6). Individuals tax level can never be lower than one level below their tax level based on their gross taxable income. I am not sure what the different levels should be in terms of amounts of earned gross and net taxable revenue, but for each level the percentage that they pay should increase by no more than five percent for each level and start at 5% for the businesses with the smallest amount of net taxable revenue.
  6. Business Tax Revenue Reductions: Corporations being large entities thatemploy people to work for them, toprovide goods and/or services, have a few other deductions that they can make toreduce their revenue taxable burden. These are benefits provided to their employees for the social and productive good of their employees.
    1. Retirement Savings: Any money paid by a business to assist and provide their employees with a retirement will be be deducted from their gross taxable revenue for the fiscal year.  This amount will be capped at 15% of the individual’s gross taxable income. The retirement savings paid by the business must be money that individuals can take with them if and when they leave the business.  Expenses involved with old school type of defined benefit pensions can be included too under specific guidelines income.
    2. Health & Medical Care Expenses: Any money paid by the business to provide for their employees health and/or medical care expenses will be deducted from their gross taxable revenue for the fiscal year.  This includes health insurance premiums, providing health care workers at their place of business and any expenses meant to assist their employees lead healthy and productive lives.
    3. Education & Training Expenses: Any money paid by the business to train their employees or continue their education, either in house or at an outside school and/or training site will be deducted from their gross taxable revenue. This may be limited according to law on a per person basis. Businesses must provide receipts of money spent during this year on education, including; tuition, books, fees, supplies, etc.
    4. Sick and Vacation Pay: Companies that provide their employees with paid time off for sick and vacation days, can deduct that money from their taxable revenue. Employees must take these days or be credited the daily wage during the fiscal to be granted the tax reduction in the business’ taxable revenue.
    5. Living Wages: Businesses that provide their employees with a living wage, according to local conditions, can deduct those wages from their taxable revenue.
  7. Automatic Withholding: Business may still require that individuals sign up for automatic withholding of the their wages to pay their taxes throughout the fiscal year.  This will be determined by estimating their gross annual wage based on their weekly or monthly wage for the entire year.  Individuals will then have their that percentage of their gross earned income withheld and sent to the federal tax agency.
  8. Annual Tax Filing: Anyindividual and/or business that earned income or revenue from any source throughout the fiscal yearwill be required to file a tax return with the federal tax agency using the basic steps below.
    1. First they report any and all sources of income and revenue for the fiscal year.  This will be called their gross taxable income/revenue (GTIR). Businesses, banks, and other places that have given this money are required to provide documentation of all money earned by the individual as income.
    2. Next, they report any deductions to their GTIR based on the qualifications under Sections #4 and #6.  This amount will be deducted from their GTIR and called their Net Taxable Income/Revenue (NTIR).
    3. Using their NTIR individuals and business will determine their tax percentage rate using information from the federal tax agency.  They multiply their NTIR by this rate and that number is the amount of taxes that they owe to the federal government as income tax.
    4. They will thenenter into the form the total amount of taxes that have already been withheld from their paychecks throughout the year. Business may send their own estimated taxes throughout the year, just likeindividuals can have money withheld from their paychecks throughout the year.
      1. If the the amount of taxes withheld is less than the required amount to pay, individuals and business must make a plan to pay the additional taxes within the next twelve months.
      2. If the amount of taxes withheld is more than the required amount to pay, individuals and businesses must make a plan to pay the additional taxes within the next twelve months.

Capital Gains Taxes
Many people make a living and earn money not from income from a business in which they are employed, but by the buying and selling of different assets. Capital Gains Taxes are to ensure that these individuals and businesses are taxed fairly and equitably in our system for the benefits of our society as well.

  1. Definition: Capital gains taxes are assessed at the sale of any property or asset. Assets can include but are not limited too; land with our without fixtures on them, stocks, bonds, businesses or companies, patents, copyrights, trademarks, and any other property or asset that can be owned by an individual or business.
  2. Assessment Model:  Capital Gains Taxes are paid at that time of the sale out of the proceeds of that sale.  Capital gains taxes are only assessed on the sale of property or asset when there is a profit made from the original purchase price.
  3. Progressive Tax Rate & Limits: Capital gains taxes also assessed according to a progressive rate, but at a flat percentage rate depending on the amount of profit of the asset sold. The amount of taxes assessed in the sale of an asset cannot exceed 50% of the profit.

Import/Export Taxes
I believe that every nation is entitled to tax the goods coming from other countries into its own borders to be sold by to its citizens.  It provides those countries with incentives to make products useful to the rest of the world and they are allowed to profit by it.  We should move and lead a system that is not based on special relationships and treat all countries as equally as possible in our trade taxes.

  1. Export taxes are forbidden by the U.S. Constitution and would require a constitutional amendment to change. I do not support that change because it punishes our nations manufacturers from selling their goods overseas.
  2. Repeal all former special trade relationships with other nations replaced with the tax system below.
  3. Any material goods or services imported from any other nation of the world would be assessed a progressive flat tax based on the level of purchased price. This would be similar to the progressive levels set in the Income and Capital Gains tax system above.
  4. Import tax sanctions would be used against nations that are currently involved in actions that they United States does not agree with and are not in line with their principles.  Congress, with Presidential approval, would authorize such changes to the import tax rates.

Excise Taxes
These are taxes on individual items like cigarettes, alcohol, gasoline, etc.  I have no plan to fundamentally alter this system within the tax code.  It probably needs some reforms but I am ignorant of changes I would make to this system.

Estate (Death) Taxes:
In principle I am against the estate tax, but practically it has some value.  Andrew Carnegie was in support of some form of estate tax to ensure that the vast wealth of individuals does not go into the hands of those who do not know how to manage for the betterment of society.  This is why he suggested it, but preferred that wealthy individuals manage their money in their life so that it can benefit others; either their families or the common good of other people.  This is the value of the estate tax, but there are some problems with it as it stands now and in the future regardless of possible reforms.

The main problem is that most smart people know legal and beneficial ways around paying the estate tax.  For example, a person who understands the tax code can give gifts to their family or organizations out of their wealth for years before they die., lowering their amount of possible inherited wealth.  Then when they die their level of wealth is low enough that it is not taxable.  This practice is not necessarily bad. It allows for their wealth to be distributed according to their wishes and to people who can use it while they are alive.

With all this in mind, there should probably be some form of estate tax, to deter the super wealthy from hoarding wealth within the families for generations.  The total assets of a family should be taxed upon the death and before it is distributed to the inheritors.  I am not sure at what wealth levels or tax rates should be used to determine this tax and would leave it to Congress to determine it in the best interest of their constituents.

Conclusion
Our tax system is hugely complicated, unfair and inequitable to individuals and businesses.  It needs reforms so that all individuals and businesses that benefit from our society, constitution and government, pay something into the system that provides the safety and commerce to all the people in our nation.  There are plenty of other options to simplify our system.  This is mine.  I would love to have more discussion and debate on this topic.  Please feel free to ask question, comment, and raise your concerns about this plan below.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Class dismissed!

Reversing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Dream

NOTE ON COMMENTING ON THE POST:  If you want to comment please do so at my blog page. Comments on my Facebook will not be monitored or replied to for various personal reasons. Thanks for your consideration in this matter.  Have a nice day and enjoy your reading.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963).

In the last few weeks and month, maybe even years there has been many racial events that prove that the United States still has issues with racism and identity. Treyvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson. The incident in Texas where the police reported to a pool party because there were too many black people. New York City police choking out a suspect that leads to his death. The shooting in Baltimore, Maryland. And most recently the story of a white girl posing calling herself black when she clearly is white by her genetic heritage. All of these incidents are tragic and insane in their own way, but the bigger issue that I see within them all is the reversals of one of the dreams by the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior. Many groups of people in different ways have contributed to this dream being reversed in modern America. In short, today we only seem to judge by the color of skin instead of content of character.

Let’s start with the story of Rachel Dolezal. She was recently fired from her leadership position with the NAACP because she had lied about her race. She was born to and raised by two white parents. She claims to the “trans-racial” in the way that some people claim “transgender.” Basically this means she was born one race, but identifies as another. Personally I don’t have a problem with a white girl serving as the head of the NAACP, because there are plenty of people who are in the racial and ethnic majority that could do a great job representing the interests of the black or any minority community regardless of their skin color. While they may not completely understand the struggle that does not negate their ability to represent their interests. The NAACP concurred with this mind-set. She was not asked to step down because she was white, but because of her deceit. I am not sure what was going in Ms. Dolezal’s mind when she decided to “become” black but she must have thought in some way that it would help her in life. She was judging herself by the color of her skin instead of her character.

The other major events that are reversing King’s dream are the different incidents involving police officers and racial or ethnic minorities, specifically black people. I don’t care if its Texas, New York City, Furguson, Missouri, Baltimore, Maryland or where it is occurring people on both sides are judging on the color of skin as opposed to their character. Many in the black and minority communities are only seeing the color of skin of those shot instead of looking at their character. Some of the black people at the hearts of these incidents don’t have very strong character. Michael Brown was not a gentle giant. He robbed a store just a few minutes before his death. The same judgement of color of skin is playing out when the black community judges the police involved too; they are largely white.  The storyline becomes the actions of WHITE police officers shooting BLACK people without any context of the events that led to the incidents.  On the other hand, the people on the opposite side of these incidents are judging by color too.

Yes, many of the people involved in these shootings are white and many of the people as victims in these incidents are blacks. Either way, too many people are quick to judge the black people who are rioting and condemning the entire group. Judging them on the color of their skin and not their character of those involve. We should look at the actions of the majority who are not rioting and using violence in their protests. Also, just because a person is a police officer does not give them a free pass or allow to not be judged at all for their actions. Many are quick to give the police the benefit of the doubt in these incidents as others give the benefit of the doubt to the victims, just because they are police. There are bad police officers and we must judge them based on their character, not the color of this clothes.

The thought process could be said in a larger sense in how we deal with each other in the other categories in which we place ourselves.  Too many times we divide ourselves by political, social, economic, and religious categories and judge others by those categories.  When we do that we judge people by those categories as opposed to their character.  Not all Republicans or conservatives are xenophobic, poor hating, racists.  Not all Democrats want to bring about a socialist communists revolution in America.  Christians are not necessarily homophobic because they believe what the Bible says about that lifestyle.  Homosexuals are not trying to turn the world gay.  Rich people do not necessarily want poor people to stay poor.  The poor do not want to live off the system. Muslims are not terrorist. Asians are not bad drivers.  Jews are not cheap.  Blacks are not lazy. All of us are to busy judging each other on the color of our skin or the group we belong to instead of judging us by our personal character and actions. If we could look past the labels and see each other we could finally work with each other and find compromises to the problems we face as people and a nation.

How should we respond to these events? First, we must respect the process that is in place when these events occur. Most cities, and states have rules in place to try to judge as fairly and as equitably, as possible, when a police officer kills a person on the job. The rules put in place are to make sure that the officer has due process and his other constitutionally guaranteed rights protected. While they are not perfect, they are the best we got right now. If you feel they are unfair, or unjust then work with local and state officials to make them better. Work with local police to connect them with your community. Also realize that police will go on trial and some will be found guilty, because they acted outside of the law and they will punished for it. As much as we must respect the process we must respect the idea that we must expect higher of our law enforcement officials. A gun and bullet must be the last case scenario when dealing with suspects. We should expect better from our police officers.

Second, we must have compassion on all parties in these cases. A few days ago I watched a later episode in the series “The West Wing.” In the episode, Congressman and Democratic Party Candidate for President Matt Santos had to speak at a black church immediately the shooting of a black child by a Latino police officer. The main crux of his message is that we need to have compassion on each other in this situations. Compassion on the cops who had to pull their gun and kill someone. They will live with that their entire lives on their conscience. Compassion for the victims, because no one deserves to die without due process, regardless of their crime. Compassion for the families involved who now face life without loved one or the prospect of life without loved ones. We must have compassion because it can heal us more than vengeance ever can.

Lastly, both sides of these issues are guilty of judging based on the color of skin instead of the character of those involved. We need to get all the facts about a case before any of us race to judgement in favor of police or victims. Unfortunately the news media does not always help with that, but each of us has it within our power to critically read the news. Don’t just look at one site for news on these incidents, look at several from different perspectives. Then make judgements about the case. But remember these accounts are at best second and third hand information, therefore it may not represent the truth. In the end, we must judge on these people’s character, not their skin color. That is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior desired over 50 years ago. We must live up to that dream today.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Class dismissed!

Is it Time for a Woman to be President?

Since Hillary Clinton just announced that she is running for the office of President of the United States, the titled question is definitely one that bears being answered.

To clear up some historical facts, former Senator and Secretary Clinton is not actually the first woman to run for President.  Technically Victoria Woodhull ran for President in 1872 as part ticket of the Equal Rights Party (Trotman 118-119).  Frederick Douglas was the Vice-Presidential candidate, but they did not seek his approval.  So sorry Hilary this happened over a century before your historic run in 2016.  But none of this answers the question.  Is it time for the United States to choose a woman President?

Yes, women have been vital to this nation since our beginnings.  Their role in many stages of U.S. History from the colonial era to 2015 cannot be disputed.  In the words of Abigail Adams to her husband as he served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, we must “remember the women.”  Women served as examples and teachers of republican virtue long before many of them could vote.  They also stood up for many causes advancing the ideas of liberty and freedom long before they had equal liberty as their male counterparts.  They practiced the rights available to them fully even if they did not have all of them.  The role of American women in our history answers an unequivocal YES!  It is long past time for the United States to elect a woman to the office of President of the United States. Unfortunately the second part of this essay will be more politically biased than the first.

While I believe it is time for the United States to have a President, I do not agree that it is Hillary Clinton.  Events in the last several years, even the last few weeks, have shown she is not a person worthy of the office. Now given of the history of men who have served as President, the previous argument could be considered moot. There are many men who had done worse things than Hilary before they became President, but this is not an article comparing her works to theirs.  Let us judge her on her works alone.

In the last several weeks it came out that Hilary Clinton, while Secretary of State did not follow the law or federal regulations about the storage of her emails.  She stored them on a private server at her home. This violated federal law and State Department regulations.  She did release some of the emails on that server to the State Department, but the emails she released was done according to her own judgement not anybody elses.  We don’t know what else could be in the emails on the server because she won’t release.  This flagrant violation of the law and her refusal to give her server to the State Department or Congress for their review of any other vital emails related to her time as Secretary of State shows that she thinks herself above the law.  Is this a characteristic we want of a person whose job it is to enforce the laws of the land?

Now to clear something up because I know someone on the other side will say it.  I DO NOT think Sarah Palin is the woman to be elected President.  I think there are better candidates on both sides of the aisle that would be better choices of President than Palin or Clinton.  Honestly, while I may disagree with Senator Elizabeth Warren on her policies, her staunch stance about not running for President makes her more attractive in my mind.  The fact that she is not seeking power when she could make a good run at grabbing it.  This is a characteristic that is to be highly praise in our system, much like how George Washington did not actively seek power, but took it up when required and requested by those above him (Keep in mind my conservative friends, I am only comparing Washington to Warren in this one aspect of not seeking power .  So do not put words into my mouth about me saying they are the same person).

I don’t know if the first woman to be elected President has made themselves known yet.  I do believe it is time.  I believe that the first woman President is closer and further away than political pundit may think. I believe we will see the first woman President within a generation.  Who it is I am not sure, but I hope it is not Hilary Clinton.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?  Class dismissed!

Sources
Trotman, C. James. Frederick Douglass: A Biography. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2011. Print.

Hilary Clinton 2016 Logo. 2015. Newser. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Gay Marriage, Religious Freedom & the Free Market

So in the last few days Indiana passed a hugely controversial law .  This law has sent the internet into a tailspin of debate and diatribes for and against this law, the people who support and oppose it, and what to do about it..  There are three aspects to consider in this issue as described in the title.  I hope to explain my position on each one of them and how the relate to each other by the end of this article.  I know this article will probably aggravate many people on both sides of the political argument, because that’s just the way I roll.

Gay marriage.  It is time to admit this is a thing.  Marriage is a relationship sanctioned by the state and entitles those getting married according to the laws of their state to specific rights, privileges, benefits and responsibilities.  Because  it is a state sanctioned relationship the state cannot legally deny one group of people the right to get married.  To do so would violate the equal protection they have under the law and the privileges entitled to them as citizens of the state protected by 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution.  Therefore, within our civil society they must be allowed.  I do not like the idea of the state redefining marriage, because I always wonder what is the next redefinition that will get us further from the truth of what marriage is in our society.  But in the interest of equal protection of the laws, equal rights, full faith and credit, and any other number of constitutional issues, gay marriage should be allowed by our society in a civil manner. Where did this perspective come from for a conservative Christian?  Let me explain.

My belief about this came, as strange as it may seem, from a conservative political pundit, Judge Andrew Napalitano.  A few years ago, on his Facebook page, he said regardless of whether homosexuality is a choice or not (Not a debate I am going to get into now, so don’t try to bait it), does government have authority to deny these couples the right to choose their mate and get the benefits that come from it.  He referenced the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia that deemed the anti-misogynistic laws  that prevented whites and blacks from getting married as unconstitutional.  This went further to convince me that in our civil society we should allow gay marriages to occur.  The fact of the matter is that many of these men and women are living in a marriage relationship already.  My friends Don and Quin have been together nearly as long as my parents, why should the benefits of marriage be denied to them in our civil society. Acceptance of this perspective is not without consequences thought, both intended and unintended.

In several states gay couples have attempted to use services related to weddings from business men and women who are Christians who believe that gay marriage is contrary to the Bible (which it is) and therefore choose not to take part.  Penalties have been laid on them by the state and sued in their courts to force them to provide their services, which would violate their religious beliefs.  Anyone who says this is not a clear violation of the religious freedom clauses in the first amendment will have to explain to me why it is not (Those who do please explain in the comments).  This is not what worries more than a different unintended consequence.  What happens when a gay couple decides they want to get married in my church, by my pastor and he says no because it violates this freedom of religious expression?  Will the state step and tell my church that they have to do this or lose their non-profit status?  Could a judge order my pastor, on pain of fines or jail time, to conduct such a service?  Many of you might say it would never come to that, but if the government can force a business and its owners to operate for the benefit of someone else, against their expressed wishes and beliefs, why couldn’t they do this to a church?  The best way to handle this is through the free market of the economy and ideas.

The free market is an economic idea related to capitalism that believes that the best regulator of goods and services is the market itself, not a government or other entity.  In a truly free market economy a business is free to do business with whomever they choose with little or no regulation from the government.  When a business says that they will not serve a person they are within their rights as individuals and businesses.  No one can be forced to service another person.  Just as no one can force a person to shop at a specific business for their wants and needs.  So what do we do in those situations where a business owner does not want to service a gay couples’ wedding?  Let the free market decide.

Bakery A claims they don’t have to provide a wedding cake for Gay Couple X because to do so would violate their religious beliefs.  Couple X is free then to get their cake from any other bakery they want which will service their needs, Bakery B.  Bakery A has lost business too.  I am also willing to bet Couple X is going to tell their friends who are getting married that Bakery A won’t make their cake which could lead their friends to take their business elsewhere.  It may even lead to boycotts and protests, all of which are perfectly legal under the 1st Amendment.  Bakery A after acquiring a reputation for not providing cakes for homosexual marriage ceremonies begins to lose business, while Bakery B has seen his business increase because of the recommendations of Couple X.  The free market has clearly decided that Bakery B was the superior businesses because of its willingness to put religious beliefs aside in the prospect of getting new customers.  This is not to say Bakery A will go out of business, but their rights as individuals in their religious beliefs, and their right to service whom they will in the free market it preserved.  No one is hurt and everyone gets what they want.

How does this all connect together?  Gays marriage is a thing and they will be getting married, regardless of our beliefs on the issue.  It is only a matter of time before all 50 states by their own laws, or decisions of the federal courts must allow for equal access to marriage for those of the same gender.  Nothing short of a constitutional amendment will change that, and I don’t see that happening any time soon.  With that trend in mind, we must protect the religious rights of those who don’t agree with gay marriage. They must be allowed to honor their deeply held beliefs and not forced into doing anything personally or professionally to compromise them.  Lastly, the free market of ideas and of the economy will rule as it always does to bring balance back to the market place.  Gays will still be able to get cakes, invitations, photographers, videographers, tuxedos, dresses, and all the accoutrements involved in weddings regardless of a person’s religious beliefs on gay marriage.  This will happen because some shrewd business person will open up a business to service them because he/she know they will get business and be able to make money doing it.  The free market is already at work within Indiana with this law being passed.  Companies are pulling out and people are actively protesting and boycotting the state.  This is forcing the state to react to this law.  The free market does work and we need to let it work.

A couple of side bars related to the article above, but not exactly part of the content itself.  One of them is absolutely hilarious so please read to the end if you want a good laugh.

Side Bar #1:  Many of the businesses sued by homosexual couples for refusing to give them service for their wedding had already been serviced by these businesses in the past.  These businesses just choose to discriminate when it came to their participation in a wedding that went counter to their religious beliefs. So they are not discriminating against homosexuals in and of themselves, but against being involved in a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs.

Side Bar #2:  Some may ask, what about the laws Congress passed to end segregation in public accommodations in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement? Would those apply to this case?  Well, one could argue that these laws were violation of free market principles, and it was, but Congress had authority to so such things because it its authority to regulate interstate commerce. These public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, bus terminals, etc.) operated under the clear premise of interstate commerce.  Therefore Congress had authority to regulate them.  The same argument could be made in the cases of the Indiana law.  Very few businesses today operate only at an intrastate level.  I am betting bakeries, chapels and other wedding businesses, while they do operate solely in the state, they engage in interstate commerce when they buy the supplies they need to operate their business.  So Congress could possibly regulate this, but it would still violate the religious liberty of the individuals who run the business.

Side Bar #3: The husband of former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was the first victim of this law.  He was dress shopping for her in Indianapolis when they visited this weekend in support of the law.  The lady who owned the dress store exercised her right to deny his service because she thought he was gay.  HA! I am not saying he is  gay, but it is sweet irony that situation makes me laugh out loud.

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed!

Why I Love “The West Wing”

In the last few months, my wife and I started watching the late 90s television series, “The West Wing.”  It chronicles the stories of the President and his immediate closest staff as they navigate challenges of governing in this nation of ours.  There are several reasons why I love this show and it is superior to other politically driven dramas.  The chief reason is the treatment the show gives to the opposition party.  Secondly, the simplifying of complex political powers, processes, and principles for the public.  Lastly, the main character of the President has a certain approachability not found in other political dramas.  It is for these reason that “The West Wing” is the best political television drama in the history of Television.

In the first episode of series we don’t even meet the President until the last five minutes of the episode.  Played by Martin Sheen, President Jedidiah Bartlet is in middle of his second year in the White House.  We spend most of the episode becoming familiar with the members of the White House Staff, like the Chief and Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications, the Press Secretary and their immediate subordinates.  We know the President is a New England liberal Democrat with the Republicans in control of Congress.  When he steps into the room to face a the leadership of religious organization, he commands the room with his presence.  He explains his position on the topic with clarity and a slight partisanship against the people he is meeting about an issue that was not even in discussion at the start of the meeting.  He does all this while quoting the Bible like a devoted Christian would.  He supports his staff and does not throw them under the bus because of a stupid comment.  In private he makes sure that the officer in question, deputy Chief of staff  Josh Lyman, knows that he is upset with his actions and it should never happen again.  This and plenty of other events make this partisan president a very relatable man to both liberal and conservatives alike.  He skirts a line that while his policies are everything a conservative would stand against, his honesty and forthrightness makes them want to cheer for him to succeed.  This show would not have done well if the President and his staff could not be relatable and cheered on by member of the Republican party.

As a government teacher I love how I can educate both students, parents and others about the powers, processes and principles of our government, even if you don’t agree with me on policies.  This show does a good job of this too.  A recent episode we just watched started with a senator filibusters on the floor of the Senate over a proposed bill.  Throughout the episode we hear snippets from the White House staff of how a filibuster works and why it exists.  The episode even goes into minute details of parliamentary rules and law making in Congress.  It educates the public of how our system of government works.  As an educator I appreciate this aspect of the show.  it not only entertains but informs the public.  There are very few shows out there that do that any more on primetime.  Let us recognize “The West Wing” for their role in educating the American public about its government.

The last and most important reason why I love “The West Wing” and consider it the best political show in the history of television is the even handedness it gives to both sides of the political aisle.  Many times in this day and age, in entertainment media shows one side or the other is viewed or portrayed as unreasonable, illogical, immoral, unethical, or characterized in the worst possible light.  “The West Wing” never stoops to that level.  The  major characters (who are Democrats) may not always like the Republicans (majority in Congress during the show), but they are never portrayed by the show as a caricature of what they really believe.  They are not portrayed as racists, homophobic, poor hating, white people.  The show seems to go out of their way to educate the public on the general principles of the conservative Republican Party at the time the show aired.  Not even news media today will do that with either side of the aisle.  Both Conservative and Liberal news sources go out of their way to show the other side in the worst possible light and angle, thereby dividing us even more against each other.  The fact that “The West Wing” goes to such lengths to protect the image of the other side shows that it is heads and above any other political show today, either fake (House of Cards, Daily Show, etc.) or real (Major cable news network shows.)

“The West Wing” is one of the best political drama on television.  This is because it is able to portray both sides of a political debate in a reasonable and even handed way, making neither seen as unreasonable.  It also educates the viewers on the nuances public policy and its creation within our federal government.  Lastly, the President is approachable by people regardless of their politics and political beliefs.  It is for these reasons that if a person wants to watch a political drama they should watch this show.  Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, conservative, liberal or moderate you will enjoy this show.  Make this your next bing show.  Watch it with a friend, it will certainly give rise to many a political debate and discussion between those watching about the actions taken by the President and his staff.

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed.

Apolgies From an Over Zealous Father

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am passionate, sometimes over zealous person, for the things that I believe.  Before Father’s Day this year that side of my personality poked its evil little head out and I stuck my foot too far down my throat.  I hurt some feelings and offended others.  That was not my intent.  So first let me say that I sorry if my comments specifically hurt any of you in a personal way.  I humbly offer my sincerest apologies and beg your grace and forgiveness.  Also, I need to remind myself that when a person praises their single mother on father’s day that it does not detract from who I am as a father or the praise I receive on that day (Just like a student getting an specific grade in a class does not detract from my accomplishments). My passion got in the way of my message and my tone certainly did not help one bit.  Father’s are important.  Everyone can agree with that statement.  Mothers are equally important, but they cannot and are not the same thing.  A father cannot be a mother, just as a mother cannot be a father.  Let’s give the men who were real fathers all the love and respect they deserve on father’s day.  And if some mother get praised I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

If you have any comments please direct them to my Wordpress blog as I do not check Facebook anymore.

Thanks for listening.  Question?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed!!!

Public Policy: Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls

Over 257 girls were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria.  The Boko Haram, an extremists Islamic group that wants to bring sharia law to the country, kidnapped the girls on April 15.  There is a twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls to garner support for those kidnapped and to spur action.  Unfortunately, social media can’t do anything for this problem except make people aware.  And Twitter will not convince these extremists to return these girls to their families.  They will only listen to one thing: force.  If I were President, I propose joint military and intelligence operations with Nigeria and other surrounding African nations.

The first part of the plan would be extensive drone and satellite surveillance over the areas suspected of Boko Haram camps.  With the capabilities of the NSA, DoD, CIA and other national and international organizations there must be cached images that can give us hints to where these people went too.  Fifty of the girls escaped so they also would have valuable intelligence on where the kidnappers went.  Scouring thought the available satellite imagery and pressing any local contacts in the area would be a start to find the missing girls.

Once we have established the girls location we must try to contact the leaders of the groups.  If we know where they are, then we keep the eyes in the skies on these people and get some teams on the ground for visual tabs on the group.  We contact them via the available channels to tell them that we know where they are and they cannot hide from us anymore.  Also, they have 72 hours to release the girls and turn themselves into the custody of the Nigerian military. It would be the hope that they would do the right thing, but these are religious extremists so there is a plan B.

Plan B would go into effect at the end of the 72 hours, or if any intel on the groups showed that they were going to move or harm the remaining girls.  At that point, the U.S. special forces with the support of the Nigerian Army would go into the camps and free the girls.  I would have the Special Forces take the lead because they are specially trained for these kinds of missions.  The Nigerian Army would be able to mop up any that get away.  The point would be to capture as many of these people for prosecution in Nigeria, but the use of force would be authorized against any combatants.  Any other national military or special forces teams would also be welcome on this operation to give more attack teams and support.

The point of this mission is to show the world and other extremists groups that this form of warfare is not acceptable.  Extremists only listen to force, not negotiation or diplomacy.  Showing this level of force against them would hopefully convince other extremists groups to think twice before attempting something like this again.

What do you think?  Is this a practical and realistic plan?  What am I missing from this plan that I need to take into consideration?  I welcome to the comments.  Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed!