Inherent Rights?

It has been reported in the 5/16/19 Racine Journal Times that property owners along the 4 Mile Rd corridor in the Village of Caledonia, WI out to the interstate will be charged up to $156,000 for water and sanitary sewer mains installed in front of their homes that will service a business park across from them. These people do not need the water or sewers. They have perfectly fine wells and septic systems.

Of course they are contesting these charges. But John Bjelajac, attorney for the Caledonia Village Utility explained, “This has been done under police power, which is the inherent right of the village to do things.”

Police power? Inherent right? No governing authority has an “…inherent right” to do anything other than protect its citizens against force and fraud. And whatever Police power they do have must never be used to hurt the very citizens that have ceded this right to them.

In this particular instance the property the Park sits on will increase in value tremendously as business locates within the Park thereby increasing Caledonia’s tax receipts from that land. The Businesses within the Park should pay for the improvements they receive out of the taxes they pay.

Perhaps a TIF district should be created with any increase in taxes from that property to go to paying off the infrastructure costs. 

Inherent rights are the rights of Kings. We fought a revolutionary war to eliminate those rights. People are the only ones with inherent rights. Governmental bodies only have powers, those powers ceded to them by the people that have put them in power. Governments must be reminded of that from time to time!

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Answer to an Anti-Gunner

David Lincicum, Associate Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, recently published a commentary that appeared in many newspapers including my local paper, The Journal Times. It can be read at https://journaltimes.com/opinion/columnists/commentary-daddy-am-i-on-the-list-of-children-to/article_33cfa928-d290-505d-83f2-be08985d71c6.html. The following is my open response to him.

Dr Lincicum,

I disagree completely with the tone and conclusions of your commentary mentioned above. Do you really believe that adults are doing nothing to prevent future occurrences of gun violence among children? Do you really believe that we have taught our children that we are not going to save them, that they have to save themselves?

The obvious question is, ”What would you do?” Another law maybe? How could it be worded any stronger than, “Thou shalt not kill”?

Your statistics in paragraph 13, while they may or may not be accurate, are misleading. Unless these figures are broken down further into zip codes or Congressional Districts, we do not begin to know how to address and turn around these tragedies. My feeling is that 90% of these tragedies occur in 10% or less of our Congressional Districts.

Without trivializing the tragedy of gun violence let’s also put these statistics into perspective. There are many more deaths among children in auto accidents than by gun violence despite the best efforts of government and manufacturers to require seat belts, age appropriate car seats, air bags, etc. As for injuries, many times more children get seriously hurt in parental approved organized sports activities than by gun. 

And why oh why would you take your 6 yr old daughter to a rally on school gun violence with its accompanying grizzly posters and speech without anticipating it might give her nightmares? 

Dr Lincicum, it is easy to see a problem. It is hard to see a solution. You have not provided one. 

LGBTTQQIAAP – WTH

Recently while standing in line at the grocery store to check out, I read on the front page of some rag displayed on the rack that a certain gay Hollywood power couple, “…have two children together”. I started thinking about the terminology the gay community forces the straight community to use when referring to their lifestyle. Because, God forbid, if they don’t say it right they will be referred to as Bigots.

Terminology aside, it is physiologically, scientifically impossible for a gay couple to “…have two children together.” It simply can’t happen. They may be raising two children together. They may have adopted two children together. But they cannot “…have” two children together. Can’t happen! Never has! Never will!

I honestly don’t care what two people do in the privacy of their home. I don’t care if they consider themselves married. In fact I will go further. I don’t care if someone considers themselves married to their dog or to their cat or to their parakeet. “All they need is love!” Etc. But they cannot have baby dogs or cats or parakeets together either.

Then last night I watched an old episode of “In Plain Sight”. In it the main character, Mary, had been engaged to Raphael, an upcoming professional baseball player. Raphael wanted children. Mary didn’t. So Raphael broke up with her because he said he always thought, “The purpose of life is to create new life.” Wow! That’s pretty deep for a serialized TV show – the purpose of life in the simplest terms possible.

I am tired of being forced to accept the gay lifestyle as normal. It is not. I am tired of having to be careful how I refer to their lifestyle lest I be considered bigoted. They can never fulfill the purpose of life. They cannot guarantee the survival of the species. I will accept them as friends. I will accept them as co-workers. I will never discriminate against them for living the way they do. But I refuse to say that their lifestyle is normal.

I also think that it is wrong to teach children that the gay lifestyle is normal. Look at the definition of normal – “the usual, average, or typical state or condition.” Are other species living a gay lifestyle? Or are they doing what life demands – procreation to guarantee the survival of their species? Children should know what normal is.

I hate the terminology used to describe their community/lobby. It has gone from LGB, to LGBT, to its current state of initialism as the LGBTTQQIAAP community which according to Wikipedia stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual”. I will not refer to them by any acronym that makes them sound somewhat normal like CBS or FBI or AARP. I do not even know what some of those lifestyles are. What the hell is an intersex or ally or a pansexual? I don’t care as long as I don’t have to call it normal.

So there you have it. If I am considered old fashioned, I can live with that. If you call me a fuddy duddy, that’s OK too. But don’t call me bigoted which means, “having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others.” No opinions have been stated above. As Sgt. Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, “Just the facts ma’am.”

Paul Krugman – EconoMissed

In a recent article in Fortune as reported in Rational Review News Digest on 2/12/2019, Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, was quoted as saying at a recent World Government Summit in Dubai that a recession might be coming late this year or next. Really? This year or next? Might or might not? My question is what the hell is this kind of forecast good for? All it is is typical economic BS. In this case BS means Boloney Supposition – a guess.

What should we do with his prediction? Should we stock up our cupboards? Should we change our retirement plans? Should we bury our money in the back yard? How about we just YAWN? That’s right – yawn. Because even Krugman admits, “By the way, my track record for this is bad – as bad as is everybody’s. No one is good at calling these turning points.” THEN WHY CALL THEM AT ALL?

Maybe this is why Alfred Nobel never established a prize in economics. Officially there is no such thing. In fact a grand nephew of Nobel, Peter Nobel, has said, “There is nothing to indicate that he would have wanted such a prize”, and that the association with the Nobel prizes is nothing but, “a PR coup by economists to improve their reputation.”

The prize that everyone associates with the Nobel Prize in Economics is actually The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. It was established in 1968 to commemorate the bank’s 300th anniversary with a large donation to the Nobel committee. It was a bribe. “If you guys let us use the Nobel name we will make a large donation.” Kind of like naming rights on a sports stadium. Seems kind of hollow to me. Perhaps if I was rich and donated millions to the committee I could have a Nobel Prize named in short order cooking. That’s what I spent most of my career doing.

But that’s Economics. Lots of maybes. Lots of might or might nots. Not too many sure things. It is really not a science at all.

When I was in college I had to take an Econ class. So I signed up for a class taught by a PhD in Economics, Leon Applebaum. Applebaum was well respected in his field and was called to Congress to testify on economic issues of the day. Well one day in class he was putting some kind of graph on the board and he told the class the reason it worked was because the line of the graph had a different slope at different points on the line. I raised my hand and explained that the scientific definition of a straight line was that it had a constant slope between any two points. He said I was wrong.

Like I said, Economics is not a science at all.


Dark Store Silliness

Wisconsin’s new governor, Tony Evers, has recently said he is willing to address the “Dark Store” taxing issue. That issue allows successful operating stores such as Sears, Pennys, Kmart, Walmart or Walgreens to challenge the property tax assessments of their successful stores by comparing the value of these properties to the value of vacant similar sized big box stores.

A couple things come to mind. Firstly – shouldn’t property tax assessments be based on the brick and mortar value of a property – the lot, and everything that goes into making a building useful as a going enterprise? In that case what does it matter whether a given property has a going entity operating within its walls or not? It is a property tax, not a going enterprise tax. The property gets taxed as a going enterprise when it starts operating via the sales taxes and income taxes that the state and local community collects. The property should not be taxed more just because it has a going entity within its walls.

It should also not be taxed less when that entity goes belly up. Herein lies the problem. Why have these communities undervalued certain properties in the first place just because the business operating within its walls has shut down?

My contention is that any given property should be taxed at its original building cost or purchase cost (land value plus improvements) plus any additions or remodeling done to it over the years. That value should never change for any other reason.

For a commercial building, it would encourage owners of vacant buildings not to hold on to them. They would never be able to challenge their assessment because the property went vacant. Vacant property would therefore be developed quicker because owners would have no incentive to hang onto them. In point of fact there would be a huge incentive to redevelop or sell the property quickly.

For instance here in Racine, WI we have a former 4 story large department store building in our downtown that has been vacant since 1981. It is currently assessed at $600K but in 1995 it was assessed at only $100K. And in 2011 for some reason it was assessed at $1,650,000. Why has the assessed value of this property changed when throughout all these 38 years, the property has been vacant?

For personal homes, it would encourage people to stay in their homes and remodel them rather than move. It would stabilize neighborhoods. Sure there would be situations where a given city block would have similar houses at significantly different assessments. But oh well! It would also not force old people to sell their homes because they could no longer afford their property taxes.

Secondly, I am not sure improvements to property should even affect property tax assessment at all. Maybe property tax should be assessed on the value of the land only. After all does it cost any more to provide city service to a given square foot piece of land whether it has a $1,000 improvement or a $1 million improvement on it?

It is time to rethink the way property is assessed in Wisconsin and everywhere.


Military Monstrosity

Can anyone tell me why there are 242 US Coast Guardsmen in Bahrain? For that matter why are there 28 in Germany, 24 in the UK, and 31 in the Netherlands? And the least logical of all, why is there only 1 in S Korea? If anyone can come up with a valid reason for USCGuardsmen to be stationed in S Korea, certainly you must admit you would need more than 1 to make a difference of any kind.

If the mission of the Coast Guard is to “….ensure our Nation’s maritime safety, security and stewardship” then why are so many Coast Guardsmen stationed overseas?

For that matter why are there 81,000 US troops in East Asia, 64,000 in Europe, 54,000 in Japan and 1,000 in Djibouti? You may ask where the hell is Djibouti? I had never heard of it and had to look it up. It is in the Horn of Africa. I still do not know how to pronounce it. Why does the US military have a presence there? Is Djibouti planning an attack on America’s homeland? If so the Coast Guard should be able to protect our shores from a Djibouti attack – if they have not undermanned their presence at home too much in order to man stations in far away lands!

It is time for America to reduce its military presence everywhere! In fact it is time for us to eliminate our military presence in most areas of the world. Of course the usual argument is that we are protecting our interests or that we are protecting freedom. What American interests are being protected in Montenegro with the presence of 20 troops? Can those 20 troops guarantee the freedom of Montenegrins? And even if they could, does America have a right to interfere in the politics of that nation or any nation? In some areas of the world where US troops are stationed, there has not been peace in hundreds of years. So if our presence is not helping, then let’s get the hell out of there!

Now I am not an isolationalist. I am a Jeffersonian in that regard, “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.” We should have embassies in these nations. I just do not think we need soldiers.

How much does one soldier cost across the board – enlisted, officers, support, etc? The defense budget in 2018 was about $600B. With the total number of active service personnel being about 1,500,000, the cost for each and every soldier is $400,000. It is simple arithmetic. Sure some of that is for support but if you did not have the soldier you would not need the support.

How much would we save if we eliminated 1,000,000 military personnel? That’s higher math. I will leave it for you to determine. But ask yourself if you think the 500,000 active service personnel left would be able to adequately keep America safe from invasion? I am pretty sure your answer would be absolutely yes!

Reduce the military now!

Suspension Politics

In a front page headline article in the Racine Journal Times on Sunday, Jan. 6, it was reported that certain local schools are trying to shrink the school suspension rate for black students which was almost 25% district wide for the 2015-16 year. At Knapp Elementary school, the suspension rate for black students was 60.5% last year.

Did you catch that? 60.5% of black ELEMENTARY students were suspended last year! District Superintendent, Eric Gallien, has said that Unified policy allows suspensions of students for violent behaviors, habitual disruptions and behavior that endangers other students. May I reiterate – WE ARE TALKING ABOUT ELEMENTARY STUDENTS with violent, disruptive behavior that can endanger other students!

What solutions are being tried? At Knapp they have established, “…areas in each classroom where students can go take a break, redirect themselves, and refocus.”

It seems to me like they are trying to use a cork to stop a tsunami. It will not work. This type of behavior is learned at home. You will not stop it by giving a child a 15 minute break in the middle of an important class that he or she is disrupting.

The only way to stop this behavior is to get to the root of the problem. But that will never happen when good people, white and black, are labeled racist the minute they start talking about generational welfare, single parent poverty, gangs, and drugs.

In another front page headline article in the Journal Times a day later, it was reported that Gov elect, Tony Evers, wants to include information on property tax bills showing how much money taxpayers contribute to private schools through the voucher program. If Evers wants to know why parents are choosing voucher schools over public schools, all he has to do is read the Journal Times article mentioned above.

But Evers is in the pocket of the education lobby. During the campaign he promised to get rid of Act 10 and the Voucher program for them. The feeling is that with the money going to vouchers, these problems could be solved. But money will not solve these deep rooted problems


Gun Control Book Review

Recently I finished reading Guncrazy America by Frank Egerton, professor of history, Emeritus, at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside in Kenosha County, WI. He and I have had dozens of back and forth opinion pieces regarding gun control published in our local paper and in personal correspondence for at least 20 years.

He sent me the 5th chapter years ago to read because I am included in it. I told him then that I would like to read the entire book when he finished. He finished a while back and sent me an email saying if I still wanted to read it that I could get a digital copy for $3.99 from Amazon. I told him I would not spend $4 just to see my name in print and if he wanted me to read it, he would have to supply a free copy. He did.

The book is 358 pages long but here is the interesting thing: there are only 264 pages of prose with the remaining 94 pages being index, bibliography, endnotes, and further reading suggestions. It appears at first glance to be a scholarly work. It is not. It is filled with misspellings, punctuation errors, and misidentifications. Some of the errors can be attributed to the apparent self publishing of this book. But I fault the author, a PhD in history, for not having hired a proof reader to check his manuscript. Without these corrections this seemingly scholarly work becomes nothing but a personal rant and bias against individual gun ownership. If his thought in writing this book was to convert gun lovers into gun haters, he has failed miserably.

Guncrazy starts out as a history of the gun industry in America and the use of guns for war, hunting, and for personal defense. The first dates mentioned were in the 1500’s with the use of guns by the Spanish, English and French against the American  Natives and against each other. It proceeds to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries with discussions about the war of Independence, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War. In later chapters the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and current conflicts are discussed. But in each discussion the underlying theme is the connection between the gun industry and those governments waging war and their financial support for improvements in gun development and production.

Chapter 5 is particularly interesting when it discusses the NRA. Egerton follows the NRA from its beginnings in the late 1800’s as a shooting club to its current status as the primary defender of the individual right to keep and bear arms.  After the Civil War he says the NRA was established in New York to promote rifle practice. It was perceived that many if not most of the Northern Soldiers in the Civil War were from urban areas and not familiar with guns and hence very poor marksmen. The Rebels on the other hand were mostly country men and much better shots than the Union Soldiers. During the late 1800’s the NRA established shooting ranges with the support and financing of New York State and later by the Federal Government.

Egerton says the NRA fell upon hard times for a while when its public support was ended. However with the start of the Spanish American War, the renewed interest in military preparedness again prompted public support. Rifle clubs were established, civilian marksmanship was encouraged, and public funding was restored.

Egerton bemoans this connection between the NRA and the public support they received. He also dislikes the fact that many US Surplus guns ended up in civilian hands. At one point he says, “During the 1960s, it became evident that both left-wing and right-wing extremist individuals and groups were joining or forming NRA clubs in order to receive free government guns and ammunition.” Egerton provided a footnote for this statement, “Bakal, The Right To Bear Arms, 1968, 140-141”. I did not read this book but I have read a couple reviews. The author was a professional glamour photographer for McCall’s Magazine in the late 50’s, not the type of credible  reference that should be cited in a scholarly work.

Another questionable reference he uses is the web site, http://www.stopthenra.com. I went to this web site and found a total of one page of info. And the page starts with the sentence, “The NRA is a fucked up organization.” Later the web page author says, “I love guns just as much as the next person (have you ever shot a pumpkin with a gun?” It seems rather strange to use a self identified gun lover as a reference in a gun haters book.

Using these types of references calls into question the reliability and credibility of every reference Egerton has used. No one could possibly research all of the included footnotes to see whether any of them are credible. But having found two that are not makes all of them questionable.

Later on in chapter 5 Egerton says that he obviously does not speak for the NRA but lists 12 of their basic beliefs as he understands them. Among his list of NRA beliefs at number 12 is, “Law-abiding NRA members have a right to shoot other Americans if they conclude that whoever is being shot is a serious threat to themselves, others, and possibly to property, even if the perceived threat comes from a government official.” I have been a life member of the NRA for 50 years. Never in all those years and in all the publications by the NRA I have read and never in any minutes of any annual meetings have I ever seen a statement such as this. There is not one NRA member I know that believes this. It is an absolutely false and inappropriate claim and is shameful from a man who has dedicated himself to higher education.

I could write more but I won’t. I have said enough about an issue that was settled over 200 years ago, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

This book is not worth reading. And if this book is representative of the quality of the anti gun literature available then the 2nd Amendment is not in jeopardy.

Narcissim

I am an avid reader of letters to editors of papers, magazines, blogs, etc. It never ceases to amaze me how blind most people are. In a recent letter to my local paper a man wrote in exclaiming how narcissistic President Trump is. I agree.

He is almost as narcissistic as our former President. And the one before that. And the one to come. Presidents have to be narissistic to think they are worthy of leading a nation of 300 million diverse people.

In fact all politicians are narcissists. Any person who thinks he or she knows better how to run our lives than we know ourselves is a narcissist. There is no doubt in my mind. No one knows what is best for me except me. No one knows what is best for you. Only you. Nothing I do should ever be regulated or controlled by a politician unless I am hurting someone else through force or fraud. Same for you.

A wise man once said, “Good men do not need the law. Bad men won’t obey it.” So any time you hear someone say, “There outa be a law…”, tell them we don’t need any more laws. We have too many the way it is. If the good people of the world do not need law, then we do not need politicians.

In another letter in my local paper on the same day as the above mentioned, a man laments the fact that Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has never had a real job that was not paid for by the taxpayers. The same can be said of our former President and many other national, state, and local politicians. And the same can be said of anyone that works at a government taxpayer funded job at any level.

Bureaucrats and Politicians. How many is too many? We hit the limit a long time ago!

 

 

Fools and Schools

My local newspaper, The Racine Journal Times, ran a front page headline recently that declared, “Voucher enrollment increases”. The article went on to bemoan the loss of money to the public school system that the Choice Program takes from them. It even said that these students are attending private school, “…on the public’s dime.”

Here is what happens – when a student chooses to join a participating Choice program school, $7754 follows him. That is money taken away from the local public system. Here is the interesting thing though, if that student were to stay in the local Unified public school, that system would spend $11,377 on his or her education.  Each and every student enrolled in a Choice school saves the taxpayer $3623.

I guess the local paper and the taxpayers should all be applauding the money that the Choice Program saves the taxpayer. But the news media manipulates what the public thinks through the words they use. In fact aren’t all students attending a public or Choice school, “…on the public’s dime”? But those students enrolled in a Choice school are taking fewer public dimes. Isn’t that good?

Wording is everything. Why didn’t the headline declare, “More parents dissatisfied with public schools”? Why not, “Choice Schools saving taxpayers millions of dollars”?

As far as I am concerned in this internet age, public school systems are an anachronism, a hold out from long ago, and needed about as much as an operating manual. If you want to end bullying, violence, and racism in the public schools, eliminate the schools. We could easily educate our students at 1/10th the current cost. All that is needed is the will to breakup the bureaucracy. And anyone who wants their children in a private school can then pay for it themselves!