Journalism is Dead – it’s all Media Activism now

Journalism is dead – it’s all media activism now. In fact, we should stop calling them journalists and call them Media Activists – or if there’s a better term we’d love to hear it.

The media has gotten SO stupid that it’s tough to tell sincere from satire. So we start out with a game – Salon.com tweets – real or satire. The real ones are so much worse than you think.

Then we move on to discuss the 7 stages of liberal legal action, and how we can use that framework to make sure we are fighting the battle based on the step we’re currently IN not the one we wish we were still in.

It’s all in the podcast


Your hosts

THIS WEEK’S LINKS:

Seven Stages of Liberal Legal Activism: – http://baseballcrank.com/archives2/2007/05/politics_eliot.php

Basics of Media Bias – http://freeradicalnetwork.com/basics-of-media-bias/

Story About First Business to ‘Publicly Vow to Reject Gay Weddings’ Was Fabricated Out of Nothing – http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2015/04/01/story-about-1st-business-to-publicly-vow-to-reject-gay-weddings-was-fabricated-out-of-nothing/

Trust Me I’m Lying – http://www.amazon.com/Trust-Me-Lying-Confessions-Manipulator/dp/1591846285

Libertarians for Compulsion! – http://freeradicalnetwork.com/libertarians-for-compulsion/

Your Rights Don’t Require My Participation – http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/your-rights-dont-require-my-participation-2/

Columbia Rolling Stone Report – http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php

Rolling Stone Can’t Even Apologize Right – http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-06/rolling-stone-can-t-even-apologize-right

Rolling Stone Betrayed Women – https://storify.com/somethingfishie/rolling-stone-betrayed-women

The New Republic’s insane take on Rolling Stone – http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121462/rolling-stone-retracts-uva-rape-story-after-cjr-report

If You Understand Economics You’re a Bad Person – http://thepunditpress.com/2015/03/29/liberal-professor-if-you-understand-economics-you-are-likely-to-be-a-bad-person/

MO Food Stamps to Ban Steak and Seafood – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/03/missouri-republicans-are-trying-to-ban-food-stamp-recipients-from-buying-steak-and-seafood/

KS Proposed Welfare Restrictions – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/04/06/kansas-wants-to-ban-welfare-recipients-from-seeing-movies-going-swimming-on-governments-dime/?tid=sm_tw

The White Ghetto – http://www.nationalreview.com/article/367903/white-ghetto-kevin-d-williamson

FRN Resource List – http://freeradicalnetwork.com/introducing-the-frn-resource-list/

Brady Campaign Video Fail – http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/04/brady-campaign-runs-a-perverted-joke-video-to-appeal-for-more-gun-control-in-low-crime-states-video/

Ted Cruz Statement on Rand Paul Announcing Candidacy – https://www.facebook.com/tedcruzpage/posts/10153199140317464

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The Government Shutdown Didn’t Have To Happen

Partisan GridlockIt is pretty easy to find news about the negative effects for the economy caused by the Federal Government Shutdown. One common thread I’ve noticed is the lack of clarity on the actual cause of these losses, and the overarching mentality expressed by those reporting on the events. The Government Shutdown caused the private sector to lose $24B in revenue. How could that possibly be? Why is it that the Private Sector is so dependent on the Government that the Government’s inability to function as a result of partisan gridlock should damage the economy on the order of one tenth of one percent of US GDP?

Over the course of the last several decades the Federal Government has created a quid-pro-quo climate with its private sector contractors, those contractors’ other stakeholders, the tourism industry, and those who depend upon Government subsistence support. Specifically, when the Government stops spending money there are very focused impacts related to the stemming of that flow of funds from the taxpayer to the private sector or Government dependents. When the Government is unable to settle its fiscal affairs those who have, as a function of their business model, hitched their revenue streams to the chuck wagon that is Federal spending suffer. The same goes for those who are Federal dependents.

How does this happen? Why should it be that there is such a vast transfer of taxpayer wealth to those private interests that either provide a service to the Government in some form, or those who depend on the Government for subsistence? More to the point, why should it be that the Government has allowed for such an entwining of  interests solely dependent on Federal spending? It is almost as if entire industries in the Private Sector have become so dependent on Federal Spending that the nearly five years of Continuing Resolution debates in Congress (as opposed to an actual Federal Budget) cause such a disruption in Federal activity that it becomes a National Crisis. This is a structural problem that must be resolved if the private sector is going to be able to extend a business plan for growth beyond the end of the current CR.

So What is the Problem?

Current GDP

Our GDP is reported at $15.68T as of 2012. As I stated earlier, the reported $24B in economic loss attributed to the Shutdown accounts for 0.0015% of the annual Gross Domestic Product for the entire country. Again, my question is why is there such an impact on the economy when the Federal Government stops spending money. The mechanics of Federal spending necessitate that the funds expended are at the expense of the economy, either through individual or corporate tax liabilities decreasing discretionary spending, through borrowing, which has a prolonged effect on the Nation’s spending obligations as a result of the requirement to service that debt, or through printing of new money, which devalues the money currently in circulation. Every activity the Federal Government expends funds on decreases GDP by a proportionate amount because, at some point, those funds must either currently exist in the economy, or be created out of thin air. Either instance is a drag on economic activity at the macro scale, which effectively dampens GDP growth.

The Nation has been structured in such a way, both politically and economically, to rely on predictable Federal spending patterns, so much so that business models begin to show signs of operational failure when Federal spending is decreased. Politicians are not recognized for their beneficial contributions to Federal fiscal responsibility as much as they are recognized for the amount of Federal spending they are able to bring back to their Districts. Put simply, politicians are empowered to spend taxpayer funds in order to secure their positions of power. This creates a system where Government promised favors are developed in order to entice businesses and special interests to support this politician or that. Those favors are often in the form of contracts, directed business opportunities, tax considerations, and other vehicles of crony capitalism, all of which fail any ethical test imaginable. This, coupled with the lost revenue from above the board contractors simply providing services to the Government in its legally mandated activities and lost revenue from the industries that support these activities (support services, ancillary services, tourism, hospitality, etc.) add up to a significant loss over the course of a 17 day shutdown.

The way the Government spends only makes things worse!

Baseline Budget ModelThe Federal spending model is broken. The fact that there hasn’t been a Federal Budget since April 29th, 2009 only highlights this. That budget was for on-budget operational efforts, and did not include appropriations for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which were handled with separate bills. Traditionally, the Federal Budget assumes that “effective” programs require funding increases in order to continue being “effective”, and as such, those programs often receive those funding increases automatically as a matter of the baseline budgeting model.

Baseline Budgeting creates a basement below which the Government will not lower spending levels. Over time this created an expectation by program managers that every concurrent year of operations will come with an almost guaranteed increase in funding. For the longest time this had been the case, with some very specific exceptions. The problem with Baseline Budgeting is that it doesn’t allow for conversations about spending reductions to begin from a position of strength on the part of those proposing fiscal responsibility. The premise begins with the idea that, in order to continue being “effective”, annual increases in the baseline are required.

Baseline Budgeting coupled with partisan gridlock causes a Federal budgeting nightmare when budget deadlines aren’t met. The ultimate culmination of this gridlock is a shuttering of services when the deadlines are missed.

How can we fix this?

US ConstitutionCurrently, the Constitution coupled with various other pieces of legislation requires Congress to pass a budget every year. They’ve bypassed this by passing Continuing Resolutions instead of actually passing a Budget, thereby continuing the baseline budget totals established by spending levels following the 29APR09 budget. Not only that, but because the CRs that have been passed often are not for an entire year’s worth of operations, the threat of shutdown is almost always looming off on the horizon or actively being debated in Congress.

There is a way to fix this, though. Congress is not the answer. There will always be a very small minority who will be willing to do what is right regarding Federal fiscal responsibility, but the core of this problem is politicians find very early in their careers that if they simply promote the status quo they will almost certainly grow their power.

No, Congress is not the answer. There is, however, a way for the States, often the hardest hurt in terms of the deleterious effects of Federal dysfunction, to Amend the Constitution without the consent of Congress. This process, as well as a set of proposed Constitutional Amendments, are detailed in Mark Levin‘s most recent book, “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic”. The States, through effective and concerted use of Article V of the Constitution, have the means of proposing and ratifying Amendments that can then be used to force Congress to not only abide by the Constitution, but also eliminate the overarching powers they’ve delegated to the Executive Branch, thereby creating an Administrative Branch of Government by fiat. In terms of this article, the Amendment proposed by Mark that would directly address Spending and Taxing powers, and are covered in Chapter 5.

Specifically, the Spending Amendment would enforce a budget timeline, and, in the absence of a budget being passed by Congress and signed by the President, would automatically fund the Government at the prior year’s budgeted levels minus an across the board 5% reduction in spending. This would eliminate the threat of shutdown because the Government would continually fund itself as a function of the Constitution. This Amendment also requires that spending levels not exceed revenues, except in extreme circumstances, thereby eliminating a need to continually increase the debt ceiling because the debt should never actually increase. This would dramatically reduce Federal borrowing and allow for the Government to actually make payments on its debt principle, instead of only servicing its debt interest.

We Can Only Fail if We Surrender

National EnsignThe Government continually acts outside of its Constitutional Boundaries. No greater negative impact on every individual in the United States can be effected than that which couples future tax revenues to debt servicing without end. There are ways of resolving this issue, and decisively so, but they do not manifest themselves without hard work and the willingness to accept risk. Currently, we’ve all come to understand that our Congressional Leaders are unwilling to apply themselves to either the hard work or to the consideration of that risk. I believe it is time the States and the People take it upon themselves to solve the problems Congress has created, and the time to act is well passed.

What is Wealth, really, and why is the Left so Obsessed with Taking It from You?

The Left would have us believe there is only a finite amount of wealth and that wealth is tied directly to the monetary supply of the world. This is, of course, entirely false, but it is critical for Conservatives to be able to understand what this argument means, and how to disarm it.

The distinction between wealth and money is subtle, but it is clear. Wealth is the accumulation of material and immaterial things of value within a societal construct. Money is a system through which a currency is used, in varying values, to be bartered with in order to obtain items associated with wealth. Money in and of itself can be an item of wealth, and the accumulation of it is generally accepted as a means of measuring the wealth of an individual within a societal construct.

Human beings have an inescapable compulsion to measure everything around them. We are unable to ignore that there are those with more wealth and those with less. We’re also involuntarily predisposed to compare one another to the whole of society, and individuals against other individuals. These measurements create divisions within a society. Divisions create a basis for jealousy, and when jealousy is allowed to fester these divisions create fissures that can demoralize and destabilize regions, markets, and eventually the entire economic system of a society.

These fissures are why the Left wins the argument when posing these sorts of  notions to their Low Information Voters. The idea that wealth and the monetary supply aren’t directly tied to each other, and that the monetary supply can be increased without action from the Government is often too complex a concept to be grasped by those who are easily sated by handout legislation or promises thereof. Its easy to coerce someone into believing there is only a given amount of money in the world, and that the rich have so much of it that the poor will never be able to rise above their situation to claim their share because the class warfare concept incites jealousy against those who have more than another. This is the core premise behind wealth distributive socialism; the rich will never give up their share of the wealth so as to allow the poor to prosper, so Government must take that wealth from the rich and distribute it evenly to the poor. The Left will never concede that the rich gained their wealth through the creation of wealth which didn’t exist before they became successful; allowing for the idea that wealth can be created independently of Government interaction (i.e.: the printing of money or the regulation of markets) destroys the entire belief system the Left would have their voting base subscribe to. Their premise is that that any accumulated wealth was stolen from the whole of society at the time the wealthy became successful, and that their (the Left) just and righteous leadership is the only means of ensuring the playing field is level again.

Another point to make is that the Left sees and portrays the world in terms of “fair share”. This is a fallacy as well, as it implies that there is only so much energy that an individual can expend to influence their livelihood, and since there are those who have taken more than their fair share of that energy from the system the only just and right thing for them to do is give back what they don’t use. Success isn’t directly tied to the value of the possessions and/or wealth one consumes throughout their lives. Instead, mistakenly, wealth is directly associated with material accumulation above and beyond what is necessary for a “middle class” family to survive. Note, I didn’t say “thrive”, but to simply survive. The “middle class” is generally defined as those working class individuals who, through the progression of their working lives, have been able to develop enough personal purchasing power that they are able to take time away from work in order to enjoy that purchasing power. Simply put, if you are not living from paycheck to paycheck, forever tied to an occupation, regardless of its fulfillment and enrichment of your life, and you can take time off without a penalty to your quality of life, you are considered “middle class”. This creates a general societal hatred from those who haven’t been able to leverage their labor output into a career that supports an ability for the pursuit of leisure toward those who have, and even more so, toward those who have leveraged their careers into something more lucrative than a “middle class” existence.

Class warfare is something we, as Conservatives, are generally unable to defend ourselves against. Conservatism typically doesn’t recognize class warfare as a relevant argument when discussing economics because, in the economic systems we support, there are no barriers to upward mobility for those who find themselves at the relative bottom of the economic food chain, as it were, nor are there barriers to failure for those who find themselves at the top. The CEO of Apple today can find themselves unable to pay their mortgage due to failures on their part next month in a truly Free Market Capitalistic economy, the same as the janitor the Apple CEO used to employ could find themselves the CEO of their own billion dollar corporation as time progresses.

The Left has utilized the instruments of Government to reward their friends and punish their enemies. The primary tool is the Progressive Tax Code, which is specifically designed to levy a heavier tax burden on those whose incomes are above certain benchmarks. The argument supporting this type of system is “the rich have enough money, so they are better able to afford to pay their fair share of the Government’s obligations.” That sounds all well and good, unless you’re wealthy. Then it sounds like you’ve been singled out for your success, which is what has generated the money you have access to. According to the Left, if you make more you can afford more, so you should pay more. This ignores barriers that your income creates should you choose to attempt to access many of the Government social safety net systems that your wealth is being confiscated in order to fund. As a wealthy individual, your income taxes are all that the Left are interested in. Your access to means tested wealth redistribution programs designed solely to support those without your means is irrelevant, regardless of the language used to motivate the voting base to cast ballots that condemn you to a lifetime of supporting systems that do not support you.

Jealousy is such a strong emotion. The Left is able to show the stark disparity between the haves and the have-nots by creating a rift between their definition of the socioeconomic lower class and the classes they’ve designated above the poor, thus winning the argument. All the while they’ll hide the truth about what wealth creation really means, because to allow for their Low Information Voter base to understand the true power they hold is to risk the possibility of those voters realizing they do not need to support the Dependency State. The Left’s goal isn’t to tell the truth about how wealth is created, but to mislead the Low Information Voter into conceding their individual rights to the greater whole in return for a promise of normalcy and equality.

Why don’t we Link Spending and Revenue

Google Plus user +Paul Clayton Smith asked a fundamental question yesterday, which I’ll paraphrase here: “Are the dollar figures we see coming out of Washington DC taking into account the nature of the wealthy to avoid taxes, or do the assumptions of revenue gained by tax take into account only present day figures of GDP, incomes, taxes and other inputs into the economy?”

Budget
The question is key because to understand the way politicians and the Beltway play with our money is to understand the fundamental disconnect between the amount of that money they take from us and how much they spend on things that benefit only portions of society. For instance, the current “budget” for the Federal Government is over $3.79T, while current revenues only make up around $2.47T. Simple math would indicate the nearly $1.32T in deficit spending the Government takes out of hide based on these numbers. With all the talk in DC about the deficit and how it is a potentially crippling black hole that must be dealt with at some point, one would think that meant there should be a mechanism that would force Congress to keep spending to within a manageable range compared to revenue, but if you take our current “budget” numbers into consideration you’d find there isn’t much in a way of a link between taxes and spending at all.

What is the problem?
Why should there be a correlation between spending and revenue? What difference does it make whether or not the Federal Government balances its budget? Can’t the Treasury just print the money it doesn’t have to make up the difference, or borrow against the credit of the United States in order to keep the bills paid?

Technically, the Federal Government can’t ever “run out of money”. The Treasury can simply print every dollar that is required to fund the Government above and beyond tax revenues, or the Federal Reserve can borrow the money. Many Liberals believe this is acceptable as a course of action, and in fact, a combination of printing and borrowing has been the make-up of over $0.40 of every dollar the US Government has spent for the majority of the last four years.

Printing devalues the currency because it increases supply when there is not a corresponding increase in demand. Demand, in this case, is the productivity of the economy creating money out of products and services. The US Government requiring funding to accomplish its agenda doesn’t constitute demand for the dollar because there is no corresponding product or service created by the Government when the money is created.

Borrowing is expensive, and, if uncontrolled, as it has been for decades, can put the Government in a situation where its interest liability is so high that the revenues brought in by taxes are not enough to cover both spending goals and the mandatory servicing of the debt. Servicing the debt is the primary concern in every budget because to default is to damage the full faith and credit of the US Government on the world stage. If we don’t pay our bills no one will want to continue lending to us. What we’ve done, though, instead of paying our bills, is effectively taking out a loan to pay down only the interest on another loan. This is not a sustainable track.

Whats the solution?
We borrow and print over half the value of revenues into the Treasury every year (in the present budget model, which isn’t actually a budget, but a continuing resolution). In order to solve the fiscal problems the Government has this funding activity must be reversed. Currently the budget is set up so that safety net entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, which politicians have convinced voters are the Government’s responsibility, are considered mandatory spending. Items the Federal Government is actually Constitutionally charged with providing for its citizenry, for example, a strong defense, are considered discretionary spending. In order to reverse the overspending we’ve seen over the course of the last several decades there must be a concerted effort by all in Washington DC to stop spending more money than the Government can generate in tax revenue. To do this our politicians must come to terms with what the Government is required to provide for its citizenry and what it can afford to provide for its citizenry.

Why not just raise taxes?
Over the course of our Nation’s history there have been attempts in both local and Federal Government to increase revenues through higher taxation as a means of reducing deficit spending. The idea is that the increased taxes will bring more money into the coffers, and the spending can continue at its present rate, unabated. One major problem with tax rate increases is that the individual is free to make choices that will impact the overall revenue generated by the increased taxes. A prime example of this is the exodus of wealthy individuals from California following the recently passed Proposition 30 tax increases. The State decided to increase income tax rates for individuals with incomes over $250k/yr, up one percent to 10.3% (the increase is retroactive all the way back to January, 2012, due in April, 2013), while those making over $1M/yr will see their tax rates increase to 13.3% (again, retroactive to January 1st, 2012). These tax increases on the wealthiest in the state have made many consider taking action that will reduce or eliminate their tax liability in this regard. There are also considerations that need to be taken into account in terms of property taxes and other, locally generated government revenues, which are not able to be voted on directly by the citizens under the local government.

Human beings will all avoid pain, given the opportunity to do so and no motivations to do otherwise. As noted in the linked article, the financial planner being interviewed commented that until the tax rates reset down in seven years he will make sure his clients incomes are less than $1M/yr. Those who can shelter their incomes from the tax man will do so. Those who cannot may have no choice but to leave the state.

What about at the Federal level? The Federal Government has a captive audience when it comes to tax increases because its much more difficult to simply leave the country to avoid taxes than it is for Californians to go to South Dakota or Texas, right?

Well, when taxes, an inversely proportional input into the overall economy, are increased, overall economic growth decreases. This stems from the fact that when an individual or entity is forced into a liability that is payable before their income is realized that liability is taken into account when the individual or entity budgets their remaining income for a period of spending. For the micro scale, simply put, if the tax man takes X from individual Y based on income Z, net income Zn is the remaining spending power of the entity. If X is increased there is an inversely proportional decrease in Zn.

For the macro scale, when the economy sees a collective decrease in Zn, across all entities and individuals, the entire economy stalls. Since taxes are a function of a percentage of the Nation’s GDP, if GDP growth stalls so does tax revenue.

Conversely, when taxes are decreased, Zn increases, causing entities to purchase more, which causes producers to produce more, sell more, and the engine runs faster. When the engine runs faster tax revenue increases because the overall number of entities with tax liabilities increases along with GDP. As indicated before, tax rates being a function of a percentage of the Nation’s GDP, when GDP grows quickly Federal revenues grow quickly.

Coupling lower taxes with decreased spending will solve our Nation’s fiscal problems. The path to this lies in
the hands of the politicians we vote for. They won’t do it on their own, though. Once most politicians find themselves enjoying life in the Beltway they learn quickly that they need only give their constituents gifts from the public trust in order to continue their employment. Every dollar they earmark or bring home to their district is a dollar spent by the Federal Government on something that benefits a few, but is paid for by everyone.

To claw our way back from the brink of fiscal collapse we Americans must hold our elected officials accountable for not only their responsibilities to their constituents, but also their responsibilities in being proper stewards of the public trust. Until this happens, we’re going to repeat recent history every year until it is no longer sustainable to do so. Once it is no longer sustainable, we will find out very quickly what government services are luxuries and what services are necessary. We’ll also find out very quickly how to live with neither.

I’ve been over a Cliff. It wasn’t fun. We’re nearing another. Do we go over?

When I was very young, around 5 or 6 years old, my brother and I were left alone in a 1980 Chevette at the top of a driveway. The driveway faced away from an unprotected cliff; one could walk right up to the edge and see down every inch of the 75 foot drop to the parking lot below.

My brother, wanting to play race car driver (in a Chevette? Really?), jumped into the driver’s seat, while I sat in the hatch back, one of my favorite places to sit while being driven around. It was quite a different time than we’re in now.

My brother had managed to knock the car out of gear, and we started rolling backward toward the cliff. I was the first to realize what was going on, but unfortunately I was also privy to front row seating to what may very well have been the end of the world for my brother and I.

So, it turns out, our worlds didn’t end. My brother and I survived what looked like almost certain death with very little injury at all. I’ve some scars, my brother’s one scar healed and disappeared over the years, and neither one of us remembers the event.

Now I hear there’s another cliff approaching, and it makes me wonder if we’re in all that much trouble, seeing as how I’ve been over one before. Having experienced danger and survived nearly unscathed often makes one braver in the face of the same danger, but also more wary. There’s a lot of talk of a cliff in the news these days, and I, for one, am very wary of what’s coming.

The United States, in its rise through its Industrial Revolution, two World Wars and several other scarring events, including the indelible marks of terror in Oklahoma City and on 9-11, has weathered every one of these events with courage and resolute dignity. It may be that we’re unable to see the danger associated with our present condition due to our ability to withstand our past tragedies, but, based on what I’m reading and hearing from those who take our Nation’s fiscal condition very seriously, we will not be able to weather this “Fiscal Cliff” and continue to be the United States we’ve known.

There are two directions being discussed to address our Nation’s fiscal condition, but neither one of them actually addresses the problem. As a doctor will treat the cause of the symptoms instead of simply medicating away the symptoms, so must Congress and the President address the cause of our fiscal destruction instead of simply salving the symptoms. Our Nation can ill afford to continue failing to meet its obligations in a way that doesn’t expose our citizens to the irresponsibility of passed Congressional malfeasance.

We’ve spent our way into a sealed tomb. While the “Full Faith and Credit of the United States Government” still means something, we need to cauterize the wound that bleeds our Nation out, address how to pay for our previous largess, and bind our Nation’s financial future to a balanced budget that will only allow for borrowing in times of dire need, instead of using borrowing to fund the majority of our Federal Government’s activities, many of which are not legitimate in terms of our spending is concerned.

Until we do something about our Government’s insatiable appetite for our money, present and future, borrowed and otherwise, there will be no way to back away from the “Fiscal Cliff”. There will be no way to build a bridge far enough to get us over the chasm, and there will be no way to keep us from seeing the suicide of the greatest experiment in self governance humanity has ever known. Our founders knew this day would come, and they told us as such during the Nation’s founding. Why have we failed to heed their warnings?

A better question… How much longer will we be allowed to ignore their warnings before things are so far gone we’re not able to recover?