10 Ways the Income Tax harms Civil Liberties

From The Daily Caller:

The Internal Revenue Service scandal over the targeting of conservative groups has highlighted the agency’s power to obstruct our political freedoms. Filing taxes every April also drives home how the government reduces our freedom.

Chief Justice John Marshall famously observed in 1819 that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy.” That’s true of any tax, but the massive federal income tax harms civil liberties much more than is necessary to raise the needed funds.

Some members of Congress have been talking about tax reform. But their efforts so far have been accounting-driven exercises that simply tweak the monstrous code. Instead, Congress should pursue major tax reforms that not only unshackle the economy but also expand our civil liberties.

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taxes

Is Decline of Public Spaces Hurting our Democracy?

From U-T San Diego:

Maidan Square in Kiev. Taksim Square in Istanbul. Tahrir Square in Cairo. Recent democratic movements around the globe have risen, or crashed and burned, on the hard pavement of vast urban public squares. The media largely has focused on the role of social media technology in these movements. But too few observers have considered the significance of the empty public spaces themselves.

Comedian Jon Stewart was one who got it. He quipped that if he ever becomes a dictator, he’d “get rid of these [bleep]ing squares” Why? Because “nothing good happens for dictators” in such places.

In the U.S., children are taught that the public square is essential to democracy. Here, the phrase “public square” is practically synonymous with free political speech. But these days “public square” is more likely to be a metaphor for media in all its forms than it is a reference to an actual, concrete place.

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Poll: Most Say Federal Taxes Too High

From Politico:

The day before Tax Day, April 15, a new poll shows that more than half of Americans think the amount they pay in federal income taxes is too high.

Fifty-two percent said the amount they have to pay is too high, while 42 percent called it “about right,” according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

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Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr

Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr

California Sen. Leland Yee indicted

From The Sacramento Bee:

Marking the next step in a sweeping FBI operation that has implicated suspended Sen. Leland Yee, a federal grand jury has indicted Yee and 28 others.

The indictment charges Yee with honest services conspiracy, wire fraud and conspiracy to deal in and import firearms. If convicted on all counts, Yee faces a sentence of 125 years in federal prison and $1.75 million in potential fines.

Also indicted were Keith Jackson, a former San Francisco School Board member and Yee fundraiser who surfaces throughout an FBI affidavit (wire fraud, engaging in business of dealing in firearms narcotics conspiracy, murder for hire, conspiracy to deal in and import firearms) and Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a former convict who had publicly touted having reformed and re-invented himself (money laundering conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes, conspiracy to transport and receive stolen property in interstate commerce).

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California Tax Addicts Set Sights on Property

From U-T San Diego:

A common refrain in California is that it’s awfully difficult to raise taxes because of Proposition 13 and other laws. But the reality is these obstacles have often been overcome. That’s why we have among the nation’s highest income, sales and gasoline taxes.

Because of Proposition 13’s limits on how much assessments can increase from year to year, California is in the middle of the pack nationally when it comes to property taxes. But now state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, is backing SB 1021, which would change the rules under which school districts can impose higher parcel taxes if two-thirds of local voters give their approval. Because of a dubious legal finding, the measure only requires majority approval by the Legislature, not the two-thirds approval required for many tax measures.

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Anti-Outsourcing Resolution passes California Assembly

From The Sacramento Bee:

On a party-line vote, the Assembly on Thursday affirmed a union-backed resolution urging lawmakers to resist contracting out public services.

The non-binding resolution stipulates that the Assembly “opposes outsourcing of public services and assets.” Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, the measure’s author, said public entities can cloud an otherwise open process when they contract out work, and warned outsourcing can lead to “rubber-stamped” contract awards with no discussion.

“Over the years, outsourcing has left taxpayers without transparency or accountability to where the taxpayer money is being used,” said Gomez.

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

What Legislators in Sacramento Want to Ban

From The Sacramento Bee:

Extinguish your filtered cigarettes, ditch the plastic bags to carry your groceries, toss your micro-beaded facial scrub and cancel those plans to catch an orca show at SeaWorld.

Each of those things would be prohibited under a package of bills circulating in Sacramento. Seeking to address such issues as pollution, animal cruelty and tobacco use, lawmakers have advanced measures to ban or limit the availability of various consumer products and activities.

The items facing potential prohibition join a growing list of products legislators have banned in recent years, like lead ammunition, foie gras, eggs from tightly caged chickens and edible shark fins. Those bills drew protests from specific groups saying they were being unfairly penalized – hunters decrying the loss of lead bullets, Chinese Americans who eat shark fin soup mourning the loss of a cherished tradition.

Taken together, critics say, sweeping statewide bans are prime examples of unmerited government interference.

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

States with most segregated public schools are Liberal Epicenters

From The Daily Caller:

The state with the most segregated public schools is New York.

Other states with exceptionally segregated schools include California,  Illinois and Michigan.

These findings come from a longitudinal study of enrollment figures conducted  by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles, The Associated Press reports. The period  studied was 1998 through 2010.

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Public Pension Reform Unlikely, but Problem isn’t Going Away

From The Sacramento Bee:

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s chances of enacting a comprehensive public pension reform ballot measure were scant even before Attorney General Kamala Harris gave it an unfriendly official summary.

He faced the essential dilemma of all would-be pension reformers: They have no natural allies among the political interest groups that might put up the many millions of dollars a successful ballot measure drive would require, but must contend with public employee unions – foes with bottomless wells of campaign money.

When Harris’ office issued a summary that characterized the proposal in negative terms closely paralleling the unions’ position, and Reed couldn’t persuade a judge to alter it, he backed off.

public employee union pension

Republicans should fire McConnell and Boehner

From The Daily Caller:

Senate Republican boss Mitch McConnell and his House counterpart, John  Boehner, have a clear strategy and a honed communications plan to undermine the  opposition.  Unfortunately, the two men believe that opposition is  comprised of people who think the congressional GOP should actually do things.   For that reason — and the opportunity that the feckless duo are poised to  botch — their Republican peers in Congress should fire them.

Remember the last time Congress mattered?  In the four years after the  1994 Republican landslide, a GOP-led Congress forced a Democratic president to  accept welfare reform, tax cuts, and the first balanced budget since 1969.   Can you think of a significant conservative legislative accomplishment  from the Beltway GOP since that era?  Neither can anyone else.  Nor  does anyone seriously think McConnell and Boehner are up to the task of  challenging Obama successfully in the final two years of the Obama era — even if  Republicans win control of both houses of Congress.

Time and again, McConnell and Boehner have failed to fight wisely or even  fight at all.

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Mitch McConnell