Aaron Borders: Republicans and the Blue Collar Worker

I want to open this article with a simple, yet profound, statement from President Reagan “You can’t be for big Government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”

When I talk to Blue Collar workers I have found many of them do not spent much time following politics. They rarely know how government works from the federal level down to local government, yet they have a common thread as they often tell me, “Republicans ONLY care about the Rich.” It always breaks my heart to hear this because I know that it is the furthest thing from the truth; yet, a lot of the Blue Collar workers I meet truly believe this from the bottom of their hearts.

I could go back and explain how we got to this point, and I used to try. However, I find that I usually lose them as I dig into American political history. Lets face it, unless you’re really plugged into politics, a 10 minute dissertation is way too painful to the average “non-political” Joe.

This is where our challenge lies. How do we educate, but not lecture? How do we be informative, but not come across as combative, arrogant and preachy? How I have started talking about Republican economics is simply to tell of my Blue Collar struggles and their paycheck.

Long ago in Ohio I worked with my cousins and friends in the construction field and I found that it was a trade that would suit me. Soon after, I started to work for a masonry company and went to masonry school to be a brick, block and stone mason. A few years later I started working for a General Contracting company, and started to make the best money of my young life. One afternoon the boss asked me to work a Saturday to help keep a project on track and enticed me by saying, “I will pay you time and a half!” I jumped on the opportunity.

A week or so later I went to grab get my check so I could take my young wife out to dinner to make up for the prior Saturday. When I opened my check, it was smaller then my normal checks. I thought there must be some mistake and went to speak with the HR department. Betty-Joe from HR sat me down and listened to my bewilderment for a few minutes before finally cutting me off. She calmly explained it to me, “Aaron, I know this is hard to understand, but you made too much money this week. It pushed you into a higher tax bracket, and so you have to pay a higher percentage in taxes then you normally do, making your check smaller.”

I had taken economics in school and thought I understood government taxes, but that day solidified my realization that I deserved the money I worked for, not the government. I have always believed that taxes were the ultimate win-fall for the government, but now I knew how unfair the system was. I had worked hard, negotiated my wages, put in extra time, yet now that I had worked one day more the government needed more of my money. I remember thinking, that was MY money, MY time and I earned it; not the Government.

From then on whenever my foreman asked me to work on Saturday, I always said that I had prior plans, and couldn’t. This in turn, made the projects we were building take longer, stalling the projects opening and thus slowing the growth of the economy in our small town.

There was no financial gain for me to work harder, so why would I; especially since the additional work actually accounted for a loss to my paycheck. If I would have gotten the paycheck with the extra money instead of extra taxes; my wife and I would have supported a local restaurant, tipped the waiter/waitress a little bit more, and probably spent a little more money at the store. All of that was taken out of the local economy, because I refused to work harder to earn less.

As I moved through my life and I became a business owner. I found this reasoning also applied to business. With a normal business plan, a business strives to reaches different levels of success in order to reinvest into its self. Whither it is more efficient tools, a larger facility, or more employees; a business is reaching for higher benchmarks. During this struggle to grow, they always have to account for the constant draining of funds being pulled away from the business via the government and taxes. This constant draining is a roadblock that every determined job creator has to jump over to be successful.

Democrats try to put blinders on low-income employee to say, “the other guys can afford to pay a little higher taxes.” However, many times the ‘other guy’ in this statement is their employer or a corporation that with the ability to keep a bit more of THEIR profit could hire more employees. Just like when I couldn’t spend MY money on MY family with MY earnings, a company getting a higher tax bills can not spend or invest their money in their company, through pay raises (to the Blue Collar Workers), new equipment, or new employees.

These financial hurdles and roadblocks hurt Blue Collared Workers yet, the Democrats consistently want to raise taxes on income and businesses that directly impact Blue Collar Workers. The Democrat Party says it’s a huge supporter of the “little guy” and the “Blue Collar Worker” but then their economic plan completely rejects this point. Anyone who wants people and businesses to pay more, because of their hard they work cannot say they want everyone to succeed. This makes the Democrat platform either completely disingenuous or completely inept to basic capitalistic principles.

When I tell this story to Blue Collar workers, I watch as they put it into perspective and see the basic logic and reasoning. Many Democrat candidates demonize corporations, big business and “the Rich.” In all actuality they are really demonizing every worker who wants to work hard to succeed for their family. Every worker should be able to work hard to support their family and every corporation needs to work hard to reinvest into itself. This is how Republicans view the economic development with tax cuts in order to spur economic growth.

President Ronald Reagan implemented this strategy when he cut taxes across the board and created a boom in the economy in the 1980’s. He so eloquently said, “A rising tide floats all boats.” When I try to start with this quote, I am always accused of defending the “rich guy.” But when I start the story from the beginning, I find that this quote is a great closer because by then nearly all my Blue Collar friends have realized that Republicans are actually the party for the hard working Blue Collar workers, not the Democrats.

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About the Author: Aaron Borders is a Financial Specialist and business owner in Arizona. Aaron was a Journeyman Mason and partner in a General Contracting and Construction business prior to the 2008 market crash. He got the proper education in order to help families and businesses with their Risk Management and Financial needs. He lives in Litchfield Park with his wife Shelly and three little boys, with a baby girl due in Sept. Aaron Borders is also a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 29. For more information on Aaron, please visit his website at www.AaronBorders4AZ.com.

The Arizona Senate & Medicaid Expansion: A Lesson in Making a Bad Bill Worse

By Christina Corieri

Last week, the Arizona Senate passed Medicaid expansion. Sadly, the proponents were not satisfied with merely passing a program expansion we can’t afford; they actively worked together to kill a series of common sense amendments that would have prevented extra expense and abuse.

One amendment would have activated the circuit breaker if the federal government ever dropped its share of the cost below the promised 90 percent, but every senate Democrat and five Republicans voted the amendment down, signaling that the Feds should feel free to increase Arizona’s costs.

Another amendment would have required an independent audit to ensure hospitals don’t pass the provider tax on to patients. Expansion proponents voted the amendment down, making it easier for hospitals to illegally pass the cost along without fear of being caught.

An amendment was offered to require an annual report on the quality of care provided by AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program. Although taxpayers have a right to know whether their money is being put to good use, these same senators voted the amendment down. Without this transparency, proponents can continue to assert how well the program works without risking evidence to the contrary.

This coalition also voted down amendments designed to curtail non-emergency use of emergency rooms and ambulances, which result in high, unnecessary costs to the state. Likewise, they voted down amendments to require health professionals and pharmacists to check the prescription monitoring database before authorizing or filling a member’s prescription for a controlled substance such as Oxycodone, Percocet, or Vicodin. These amendments would have saved taxpayers from paying for and enabling addictions to these medications.

While the Medicaid expansion is a costly and misguided policy, these amendments were not poison pills but sensible ways to mitigate some of the costs and prevent abuse. The proponents, however, made a bad bill much worse by rejecting these amendments. Thankfully, the Senate does not have the last word. While we hope the House declines the Medicaid expansion, at a minimum, we hope it supports some common sense amendments that will help protect taxpayers.

Christina Corieri is a health care policy analyst with the Goldwater Institute.

 

Phoenix Business Owner Says Mayor Needs To Keep Campaign Promise Regarding Food Tax

(Phoenix, AZ) It seems there were a lot of questions directed at Mayor Stanton at a community meeting held at the Mayo Clinic on April 23rd. But it wasn’t zoning laws or the need to fix our streets that was on most people’s minds, it was the food tax. In fact some of the residents that attended wanted to know why Mayor Stanton isn’t keeping his campaign promise that he made to repeal it like he did during his campaign. While Mayor Stanton continued to tell residents that the tax is needed to keep fire and police services operating, Phoenix business owner and city resident Nohl Rosen reminded him that he needs to keep his promise to the people.

“As a business owner when I make a promise to a customer, I honor it as that is what your supposed to do because it’s good service. I simply reminded the Mayor that he made a promise to the citizens of Phoenix and that he needs to keep it,” Rosen said.

However, during the meeting which was also attended by City Council members Jim Waring and Bill Gates, it was revealed that the food tax was used to give pay raises to city employees and also fund golf courses.

“When the food tax was put into affect 3 years ago, the citizens were told that it was to keep fire and police services going. Now we find out that the money wasn’t used for its intended purpose. Still, Mayor Stanton during his campaign said he would repeal the food tax and hasn’t done it. That would be the honorable thing to do and also sets things right. Just what is the Mayor waiting for?” Rosen further asked.

Rosen says he’s considering doing more of his shopping in Scottsdale and other neighboring cities to fulfill regular household needs until the food tax is repealed and encouraging others to do the same.

Why Does APS Want Energy Consumers to Subsidize Their Profits?

We all know that it’s mainly Republicans who read Sonoran Alliance. Last year, Arizona voters rewarded Republicans with a sweep on all of the open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Now all five members of the ACC are Republicans. All commissioners are constitutionally obligated to oversee the utility companies which of course, include APS. Republicans commissioners, big utility corporations, you’d think Arizona consumers would be getting the biggest bang for the buck right?

But anyone who reads this blog has probably noticed a little back and forth over the past few weeks regarding energy issues here in Arizona and how one monopoly utility is attempting to squash emerging competition from flourishing rooftop solar entrepreneurs and their consumers.

But APS’ efforts are actually far more disturbing. If you’ve made the choice to install rooftop solar panels, APS is essentially trying to confiscate the power that you generate and provide back to the grid.

How is this possible?

When you install your own solar power plant on your roof, any power that you don’t instantly consume yourself flows onto the grid and over to your neighbor’s home, therefore reducing the overall demand on utilities like APS that distribute power to other homes and businesses. Seems fair, makes sense and benefits everyone right? Energy production and distribution should be a free-market transaction. Consumers have to buy power from utilities. Utilities should have to buy power from consumers. And that’s exactly why it’s law in 43 states.

But, according to what APS has told Wall Street in their investor reports, there’s a radically different story than what’s being told to the public and Arizona Corporation Commission here in Arizona. APS views the increasing use of consumer-based solar as an inhibitor to their further growth and profit and even as a mortal threat to their profits. It’s very much the same way the public education establishment views charter schools and school choice.

That’s why APS wants our Republican-controlled Arizona Corporation Commission to lower the price of what APS has to pay for power consumers generate and provide to the grid – so they can sell it to others for a higher profit.

In other words, APS wants residential solar consumer-providers to subsidize the APS monopoly. Using government to punish innovation, ingenuity and self-sustainability among individuals who pursue energy choice is not a Republican principle. As Barry Goldwater, Jr. recently said this type of practice is not the American or Republican way.

This isn’t  the first time APS has tried to play this game. Take for example, a mailer insert recently sent out to APS customers notifying them that as of March, 2013, they would see a rate increase because more ratepayers are implementing more energy efficient measures and it’s eating into APS’ revenues. That was not a typo. If you choose to recycle your refrigerator or compact fluorescent light bulbs, you will indeed pay more! More energy efficiency and choice of course, obviously means lower profits for them. So APS passes along these fees and rate increases to offset consumers who are becoming more efficient.

APS Ratepayer Notice

APS Notice

As I wrote about earlier, Republican policymakers need to move away from supporting this type of corporate cronyism. When it comes to promoting a culture of competition, we should take a lesson from American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks who recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Corporate cronyism should be decried as every bit as noxious as statism, because it unfairly rewards the powerful and well-connected at the expense of ordinary citizens. Entrepreneurship should not to be extolled as a path to accumulating wealth but as a celebration of everyday men and women who want to build their own lives, whether they start a business and make a lot of money or not.

Many elected Republican officials are embracing changes of competition and innovation taking place in the energy marketplace as they have in other sectors of the economy including education and health care. When we do, the vast beneficiaries are parents of school children, patients, small business and energy consumers.

Like many Republicans realizing the need to refocus back to a free-market entrepreneurial-supportive marketplace, more than ever, we need to extend and reinforce these same principles within the burgeoning small energy provider arena.

To further support my argument, watch as American Enterprise Institute’s Tim Carney exhorts us to pursue a “Culture of Competition” because pursuing profit through competition has the broad effect of benefiting the consumer.

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Ten Reasons to Decline Medicaid Expansion in Arizona

By Christina Corieri, Heath Care Policy Analyst, Goldwater Institute

1. Expanding Medicaid will cost Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars.

For the first three years, the federal government has promised to cover 100% of the medical costs for the newly eligible Medicaid enrollees, and yet the cost to Arizona’s General Fund for the first year alone would be $154 million. The costs to the state are a result of the fact that the federal reimbursement rate of 100% applies only to the direct medical expenses of the newly eligible enrollees, not the additional administrative costs. Additionally, the 100% reimbursement rate does not apply to those new enrollees who were previously eligible but either did not know it or otherwise failed to enroll.

The true costs to Arizona have been hidden by projections that reflect only the first three years of the expansion, not the later years when the state’s share increases. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the total cost to Arizona for 2014-2019 could be as high as $739 million depending on how many newly eligible people enroll.

2. A supermajority vote is required to authorize new taxes.

In 1992, Arizona voters passed Proposition 108, which requires approval of 2/3 of both chambers of the Legislature to impose a new tax or fee or to increase an existing tax or fee. There is a narrow exception for “fees and assessments that are authorized by statute, but are not prescribed by formula, amount, or limit, and are set by a state officer or agency.”

The proposed Medicaid expansion disregards the spirit and letter of the law. Because the Governor’s office has explicitly prescribed the assessment amount in the proposed budget, the tax increase doesn’t fall within the exception in the law.

If legislators authorize a provider tax by a simple majority vote, they will circumvent the will of the voters and will be vulnerable to a lawsuit that, if successful, will leave the legislature with an expensive Medicaid expansion that lacks a funding mechanism.

3. The federal government is unlikely to maintain promised funding rates.

President Obama has already proposed cutting the promised reimbursement rate to states in his last two budgets.

The Governor’s office has acknowledged that Washington will likely cut its promised funding level. A publication released from the Governor’s office in January entitled Difficult Choice: Expanding Adult Medicaid Coverage states “it is probable that, at some point, the federal government will choose to reduce reimbursements to the states as a consequence of its own fiscal challenges.” In fact, the circuit breaker, which is intended to protect Arizona from additional costs, is not activated until the federal government cuts the reimbursement rate for the newly eligible enrollees to less than 80% – effectively allowing the federal government to double Arizona’s share of the costs before the state would react.

4. The provider tax, which is the proposed funding mechanism for the expansion, could be limited or eliminated.

A provider tax is a scheme by which states tax healthcare providers in order to draw down additional federal matching dollars. The tax paid by healthcare providers is returned to them via increased Medicaid spending in the state or increased Medicaid reimbursement rates to providers.

There are growing calls from both sides of the aisle in Washington to limit or eliminate the ability to assess a provider tax. Attacks have come from President Obama, Majority Whip Durbin (D-IL), Senator Corker (R-TN), House Republicans, and the Simpson Bowles Commission. If the provider tax is limited or eliminated, Arizona will be left holding the bill.

Eliminating or limiting the provider tax will not trigger the circuit breaker despite the fact that it would leave the expansion in place with no funding source besides the general fund.

5. The circuit breaker may not be enforced by a future governor and future legislature.

The circuit breaker is designed to automatically abolish the Medicaid expansion if the federal reimbursement rate for the newly eligible enrollees ever falls below 80%.

If circuit breaker is triggered, the sitting governor and legislature would face a media storm as thousands of people who had become dependent on free government health care were removed from the Medicaid rolls. Arizona has already experienced such a media storm when the state did not drop coverage, but merely froze enrollment for childless adults up to 100% of the federal poverty level in 2011.

6. The Woodwork Effect is likely to be much larger than anticipated.

The federal health care law’s higher reimbursement rate does not apply to the costs associated with those individuals who are newly enrolled but who were previously eligible – this is referred to as the “woodwork effect.”

When Arizona passed Prop 204, it was estimated that roughly 129,000 people would fall into this category. But by 2003 it was approximately 250,000 – almost double the original estimate, costing the state hundreds of millions in unexpected money.

7. Uncompensated care is unlikely to decrease.

The Governor’s office has stated that uncompensated care results in a hidden tax of $2,000 per family per year that is reflected in the family’s insurance premium. Proponents of the expansion claim that it will solve the problem of uncompensated care and eliminate this hidden tax.

The same claims were made by proponents of Prop 204, but neither claim proved true. Uncompensated care increased by an average of 9% a year during the first seven years of the Prop 204 expansion according to a study by the Lewin Group. And the average family premium increased from $8,972 in 2003 to $14,854 in 2011 – a 66% increase. There is no reason to believe the results will be different this time.

8. Cost projections are likely incorrect, as Arizona’s last Medicaid expansion illustrates.

The Prop 204 expansion was four times more expensive than the projected cost each year. For example, in 2008, the cost of covering the Prop 204 population was projected to be $389 million, but the cost was actually $1.623 billion.

9. There is no rush because a state can choose to expand Medicaid at any time.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have made it clear that states may opt into the Medicaid expansion at any time. It would be wise for Arizona to wait and see how the expansion plays out in other states before committing Arizona to an expansion that will be incredibly expensive and difficult to roll back.

10.There is no such thing as free federal money.

This “free federal money” is borrowed money which taxpayers must pay back.

By agreeing to the Medicaid expansion, Arizona legislators would be committing current and future Arizona taxpayers to billions of dollars in new federal debt, and each Arizona legislator who votes for the expansion will be complicit in Washington’s spending problem.

Click here to download “Ten Reasons to Decline Medicaid Expansion in Arizona.”

Congressman Matt Salmon: Medicaid Needs Reform, Not Expansion

Matt Salmon

First bill repeals Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, gives states more flexibility 

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) introduced his first piece of legislation in the 113th Congress. Salmon released the following statement regarding H.R. 1404, The Medicaid Expansion Repeal and State Flexibility Act:

“Today, I’m honoring my pledge to fight with everything I have to eliminate Obamacare before it causes more damage to our economy. 

“My first step in this fight addresses Medicaid expansion at the federal level. 

“One of the big-ticket items included in Obamacare was a provision that essentially bribed states to expand their Medicaid eligibility requirements to 138% of the poverty level, and to have the Federal government pay for 100% of the expansion.  As with most other aspects of Obamacare, unwanted strings are attached. 

Obamacare only covers the full cost of this expansion for the initial years, but leaves the onerous federal mandates to stay.”  

“Medicaid needs reform, not expansion.” 

“Instead of more federal mandates, I support giving States the maximum flexibility to provide services to their most vulnerable populations.  My bill strikes the Medicaid expansion from Obamacare, and provides this flexibility without the strings attached. 

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to repeal this and more of Obamacare’s harmful federal policies.”

Additional Information:

  • Since the creation of Medicaid in 1965, the focus of this program has been on providing health care to vulnerable low-income individuals.
  • Under current law, the Medicaid expansion is expected to cost Federal and State governments over $500 billion dollars from 2014-2019.
  • Currently, Medicaid provides health care to over 60 million Americans and consumes a growing portion of State and Federal budgets.
  • By adopting the Medicaid expansion to cover up to 138% of the federal poverty level provided in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), states will be expanding Medicaid to a different population of able-bodied adults, the vast majority of whom are single and without dependents.
  • Adding more people to the already distressed system only further exacerbates Medicaid’s underlying problems.

Click here to read the text of H.R. 1404

Click here to view a video message from Rep. Salmon on H.R. 1404.

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The Actual Costs of Expanding Medicaid in Arizona – What Really Happened

The main argument being made to expand Medicaid dependency in Arizona is “to do the math.” Well the Texas Public Policy Foundation did the  math for what really happened in Arizona the last time Medicaid was expanded and here is the graph depicting the cost to Arizona. These numbers cover a six-year period beginning in 2002 and ending in 2008.

Medicaid Expansion

The actual cost of expanding Medicaid in Arizona

Here is the article posted on the Texas Public Policy Foundation website:

This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on 3/21/2013. 

If state lawmakers really want a clear picture of what Medicaid expansion under Obamacare will look like, they should start with Arizona, where expansion was tried more than a decade ago — with disastrous results.

In 2000, Arizona received a federal waiver to extend Medicaid to all childless adults and parents earning less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. This is nearly the same group that would be eligible for Medicaid under the federal health care law, except that Obamacare would include those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, a slightly larger group.

At the time, Arizona lawmakers and expansion advocates promised that expanding Medicaid would lower the uninsured rate, reduce uncompensated care costs, decrease the “hidden tax” on private insurance for uncompensated care, and save about $30 million a year in state funds.

These same promises — lower uninsured rate and reduced uncompensated care costs — are being made by those calling for Medicaid expansion in other states.

None of the promises came true. In fact, the opposite happened. Enrollment of parents was more than triple what was forecast, while enrollment of childless adults was more than double.

As a result, costs skyrocketed. Spending per enrollee was much higher than anticipated, especially among childless adults, who proved to be twice as expensive to cover as parents. By 2008, Arizona had spent $8.4 billion on Medicaid expansion — more than four times what had been forecast.

What about the promise that expansion would lower the uninsured rate? In 2002, about 18.7 percent of Arizona’s non-elderly population was uninsured. By 2011, that group had actually increased to 19.4 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of Arizonans with private insurance dropped from 61.8 percent to 55.5 percent, while Medicaid enrollment grew far beyond what had been predicted.

When the recession hit in 2008, Arizona faced a budget shortfall and scaled back Medicaid benefits for childless adults, including organ transplantation. It later froze enrollment for that group, which dropped from 227,000 to 86,000.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s January announcement that she will support the Obamacare Medicaid expansion should not have come as a surprise. Arizona’s waiver expires in 2013, and the state had no choice but to go along with expansion. If it did not, the feds would likely not renew the state’s waiver, which would force some 86,000 people out of the Medicaid program and into the ranks of the uninsured.

The Arizona experience is not unique. In 2002, Maine implemented an almost identical Medicaid expansion — with almost identical results. Within two years, enrollment was more than double what had been forecast, with childless adults costing more than four times as much as parents. Between 2002 and 2011, the uninsured rate remained the same, while the share of those with private insurance shrank, from 66 percent to 59 percent.

Proponents of Medicaid expansion claim it will reduce the uninsured rate and therefore reduce uncompensated care costs. The hope and expectation is that federal expansion dollars will free up state funds and relieve taxpayers, much like advocates of expansion hoped for Arizona and Maine.

Earlier this month, Methodist Health Care Ministries and Texas Impact published an estimate of Medicaid expansion savings. At first glance the figures are impressive; some $900 million in state funds could be freed up for the upcoming biennium, according to the report. The groups’ earlier study claimed counties and local taxpayers could expect relief from having to pay for uncompensated care costs, which the report said would decrease dramatically with Medicaid expansion.

But these projections are in fact nothing more than thin hopes. In Arizona, uncompensated care costs increased by an average of nine percent each year after expansion, and in Maine charity care rose from $40 million in 2000 to $215 million 2011.

Other states that have toyed with expansion — Delaware, Oregon, Michigan, Utah — have all had similar experiences: costs and enrollment exceeded expectations, uninsured rates stayed the same or increased, and the number of people on private insurance shrank.

If states are the incubators and laboratories of public policy, then the results of decade-long experiments with Medicaid expansion are in. In Arizona, Maine, and everywhere expansion was tried, none of the promised benefits materialized.

If lawmakers in other states choose to go down the road of expansion, they now know what to expect: skyrocketing costs, huge enrollment growth, a static uninsured rate, and more — not fewer — uncompensated care costs. Just ask Arizona.

 

The Cost of Expanding Medicaid Dependency in Arizona

Unlink Governor Brewer’s media campaign funded by huge corporations and special interest groups, the opposition to expanding Medicaid dependency in Arizona is almost entirely grassroots driven – and there’s good reason for the disparity. The Arizona Medical Industrial Complex stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars. This begs the question, “just how much will Medicaid expansion cost Arizona taxpayers?”

Here are two graphics provided by the prestigious conservative organization The Heritage Foundation. Please feel free, to download these and email them to your legislators.

Before the legislature attempts to pass a huge tax on Arizonans, they need to remember Arizona’s Constitution requires a 2/3 majority vote to pass any tax hike. Currently, the Governor would like to redefine the hundreds of millions of dollars as needed as a fee in order to avoid the 2/3′s  requirement. Any legislator needs to know they will be violating the Arizona Constitution if they pass this huge tax hike without the 2/3′s requirement.

CP-medicaid-expansion-by-state-AZ Medicaid Expansion US

 

If you would like to have Americans for Prosperity speak to your organization about why expanding Medicaid dependency is bad for Arizona please contact Americans for Prosperity through www.ArizonaTaxpayers.org.

The Beltway Bubble

By Sam Stone

There’s no recession in Washington, D.C. Massive building and construction projects blossom like D.C.’s famous trees. Vast, unending snakes of luxury automobiles slither along the streets. On any given day, many of D.C.’s myriad pricey boutiques and restaurants are standing-room-only.

It’s a different world.

Even the commercials are different. City buses grind around town plastered in messages sponsored by the AFL-CIO, imploring Congress to avoid cuts in federal spending programs. Ads designed not to appeal to the masses, but to provide one more avenue for lobbyists and special interest organizations to bend the ear of our elected officials, run endlessly on television.

It’s a glitzy, seductive high-profile bubble.

Spend time in D.C. these days, and it’s easy to see how so many well-intentioned Congressmen and Senators get trapped by the system. It’s not just Washington politics; it’s D.C. life. Elected officials are treated like kings: car services, staffers catering to their every need, posh apartments. The most succulent, extravagant dinners served, because of ethics laws, on a stick. And free booze. Lots and lots of free booze.

But it’s a lie.

People on Main Street are suffering. Despite one optimistic forecast after another, the recession really hasn’t gone anywhere. Although the White House and Federal Reserve Bank keep parroting the line that inflation is stagnant, prices for basic necessities like food, gasoline and heating fuel have more than doubled in recent years. Official joblessness rates grossly undervalue the problem by including people working part-time or seasonal jobs, and by assuming that anyone who hasn’t had a job recently is no longer interested in finding one. Real national unemployment is probably closer to 15% than the 7.9% our government is willing to admit to.

At home, still stuck in the bubble

Members of Congress rarely – if ever – even get to see the truth. When they do return to their State or District, it’s usually for a quick weekend of campaigning. They’re hustled from place to place, rarely stopping anywhere for more than an hour or so. They’re still surrounded by staffers whose job it is to cater to their every whim.

Even during longer breaks when Congress is in session, the routine doesn’t really change. Campaigns these days essentially never close up shop. One of the great advantages of incumbency is access to the enormous cresting waves of PAC, union and special interest donations an incumbent can secure for their reelection war chest. So while Congress may be on recess from time to time, the business of staying in Congress doesn’t stop. Instead of spending time talking with everyday citizens when they’re home, elected officials are stuck on the phone soliciting donations from groups who are only too eager to assist – so long as the recipients of their cash remember those debts the next time a vote comes down on the floor.

What’s the answer?

Term limits sound great, but until everyone agrees to play by the same set of rules, term-limiting yourself is just a way to ensure your Party leadership doesn’t take you seriously. No one becomes Chair of Ways and Means in their first term.

No, the best thing we could do is ask Congress to work less. Six months out of each year in D.C. should be plenty and, if our Representatives had to spend half of each year at home surrounded by their constituents, it’d be a lot harder for them to miss (or simply ignore) what’s really going on in America. Voters would have far more opportunities to get in front of our elected officials. And, as we saw with the Obamacare Town Halls across the country in 2010, they might be more than a little surprised at what they find.

Of course, less time in Washington also means that our elected officials would have to do less. Which, considering the mess they’re making of our nation, might be the biggest improvement of all.

Reposted from Southern Arizona News-Examiner

Inequality in America: How Wealth is Spread

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inequality in americaA recent YouTube video, “Wealth Inequality in America,” has been steadily circulating through various internet sites and social media outlets. The viral video seeks to educate the American populace on how unjust or “skewed” the American Economic system is because it creates horrible economic inequality.  However, the video is rather vague for it seems to only emphasize the topic of the distribution of wealth, without actually explaining why they believe this inequality is ghastly and unfair. The video raised the question of whether or not CEOs are worth what they earn.  According to the video, a CEO earns in one hour what the average employee earns in one month.  The video also made the hypothetical query, “Does a CEO really work 380 times harder than his average worker?”; implying that this is immoral because  Americans do not ideally think or even perceive the value placed on CEOs as being fair distribution of wealth.  So then I pose this question, “Is this supposed unjust distribution caused by an inherently evil unjust system and do the rich like CEOs and athletes get paid an unjust amount?”. I have concluded that this is view is inaccurate as it is a misconception of how wealth is actually earned and dispersed.

First, we must become aware of how wealth is actually distributed in the United States, with the exception of government contracting, bailouts, grants and loans, social security, welfare (both corporate and individual). Whereas the Federal government chooses the winners and losers, wealth distribution is based off the free market. The market is simply people – millions of people that make day to day decisions. In fact, every time you choose to shop at Wal-Mart, Target or any other store you are deciding where to distribute your wealth. There is no system or outside force that causes you to purchase goods and services at any particular store in the United States or even a particular brand. Instead, we the American people decide how to spread our wealth. Economist, Walter E. Williams clearly conveys the truth of this idea,

Look at how Wal-Mart Stores generated wealth for the Walton family of Christy ($25 billion), Jim ($21 billion), Alice ($21 billion) and Robson ($21 billion). The Walton family’s wealth is not a result of ill-gotten gains, but the result of Wal-Mart’s revenue, $422 billion in 2010. The blame for this unjust concentration of wealth rests with those hundreds of millions of shoppers worldwide who voluntarily enter Wal-Mart premises and leave dollars, pounds and pesos.

In other words, millions of people are freely choosing to shop and distribute their wealth as they see fit.  This can also be seen when you choose to buy a generic brand over the name brand or when you decide to eat at a chain restaurant or a local restaurant; and by the fact that store owners and managers respond to your purchases by stocking the shelves with the products you desire most. These are all actions and reactions to people’s decisions.

Second, there seems to be a misconception of where people get the money to distribute the wealth they have. So where does wealth come from? Economist, Thomas Sowell explains this best,

Despite a voluminous and often fervent literature on “income distribution,” the cold fact is that most income is not distributed: It is earned. People paying each other for goods and services generate income…[M]ost wealth is not distributed at all. People create it, earn it, save it and spend it.  (Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed, 1995, pg 211)

It is crucial for one to understand Sowell’s point that most wealth is earned and created by innovation and hard work. With this earned wealth, these people then can choose to spend, save, invest or even give their money away.  Ultimately, this is an admirable thing because it demonstrates free people making free decisions based on their own family and unique life situations.  It is not some central organization or mystical entity that distributes money – if so, it clearly would be unjust. Moreover, the video’s argument that there must be something inherently wrong since the desired and perceived distribution of wealth is categorically off from the actual wealth distribution numbers, is no real argument at all! This does not make for a cogent argument, especially if a person’s perception is already based on a false understanding of how wealth is created and distributed.  Economist Walter E Williams expounds on these common misconceptions some more,

I think some of the ignorance and much of the demagoguery stems from the usage of the phrase “income distribution.” It might make some people think income is distributed; in other words, there’s a dealer of dollars….An alternative vision might be that there’s a pile of money intended for all of us. The reason why some are rich and some are poor is that the greedy rich got to the pile first and took their unfair share. Clearly, in either case, justice would require a re-dealing, or redistribution, of the dollars, where the government takes ill-gotten gains of the few and returns them to their rightful owners.

Williams is right, although many in our culture seem to think they were given the shaft by some mythical dollar dealer or somehow they did not get their fair share as if there was a predestined share they were entitled to receive at birth. Now contrast that to the reality that wealth is created by producing goods and services that are pleasing to “one’s fellow man,” as Williams states. In other words, the only way you will obtain wealth is to earn it from your “fellow man” and to do that you need to produce goods and services that will be of use to them.

Thirdly, the video poses the idea that Athletes and CEOs do not produce as much as their employees. As a reference library assistant, I get paid for the services I provide to students for the university. I am paid a wage that is on par with the value the university places on me, and thus is willing to pay me. Furthermore, I work there because I am willing to be compensated at that rate. Again, millions of people do this same process all over the nation voluntarily.  This same voluntary process happens for CEOs, athletes and other rich members of our society by getting paid based on how much their employers value them. For example, Derek Jeter the short stop for the New York Yankees is to be paid this year about $24.5 Million. Now to you and me, Jeter may not be worth 24 million dollars nor does he necessarily work as hard as you or I combined. But to the New York Yankees, he is worth every penny. According to Andrew Marhand of ESPN New York,

“He [Jeter] is the brand,” said St. Louis Blues interim CEO Mike McCarthy, who ran MSG Network when it owned the rights to Yankees’ games. From McCarthy’s unique position as a top television executive and now as part of an ownership group in St. Louis, the 36-year-old Jeter adds premium value to the Yankees and YES — both estimated to be worth more than a billion each, maybe much more — as he likely becomes the first Yankee with 3,000 hits.

Kurt Badenhausen of Forbs magazine gives us even more perspective:

During his Yankees career Jeter has made $213 million in salary (with another $43 million still to come) and roughly $100 million in endorsements. Yet his value to the Yankees has been even greater. The value of the Yankees and its related enterprises has increased by nearly $5 billion during Jeter’s career. Yes other stars contributed greatly to the Yankees success, but no one quite like the Captain.

In other words, Jeter adds more to the team in value than just what he produces out on the field. This is not an unjust distribution of wealth because again it is millions of people like you and I who buy the Jeter memorabilia and watch the Yankee games on TV which adds to ratings – all of these situations are examples of wealth being distributed on account of the voluntary decisions of free individuals and not some scheming system planers.  The same goes for CEOs, for it is not  society that gets to decide how much the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, University of Phoenix, or any other company gets paid for the job they do. Society does not know the value that these positions is worth to those individual stock holders.

In conclusion, we are the ones who choose how to spend our dollar votes.  Therefore, the next time you go shop at a store or buy a Derek Jeter Yankee’s jersey, realize that you are distributing your wealth. There is no system that is ideal. The video clip, “Wealth Inequality in America,” is talking about an imaginative system or idea of more equality that does not exist and never will exist. Free markets are not perfect, but compared to all other economic systems there is nothing better. If you wish for more just results, then maybe giving to charity or starting a business and employing people at a wage you believe is fair would be a start. Either way, it is up to the millions of individuals to decide how they will distribute their wealth, because they are the ones who make up the market.   Therefore, let’s looks beyond idealism and ignorant perception and seek understanding.

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Editors note: as with all blog postings that appear with a by-line, the opinions presented are the author’s and not necessarily the positions of Cafe Con Leche Republicans.

Thomas Martin Salazar is an Arizona leader of the Café con Leche Republicans. Thomas was born and raised in Arizona. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Grand Canyon University and is currently working on obtaining a MDiv in Biblical Communication from Phoenix Seminary. Thomas has also served as the Grand Canyon University College Republicans Vice President and interim President (February 2007-April 2008) and as a Maricopa County Republican Precinct committeeman (August 2009 – August 2012). Original link.

Maricopa GOP Votes Down Medicaid Expansion in Arizona

March, 2013

A RESOLUTION OF THE EXECUTIVE GUIDANCE COMMITTEE (EGC) OF THE MARICOPA COUNTY REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE (MCRC) MARICOPA COUNTY, STATE OF ARIZONA

IN OPPOSITION TO

THE ARIZONA GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED EXPANSION OF MEDICAID (AHCCCS) IN SUPPORT OF OBAMACARE

WHEREAS, Arizona voters clearly expressed their will to reject implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the individual mandate by amending the Arizona Constitution in 2010 via the Arizona Health Insurance Reform Amendment, Proposition 106; and

WHEREAS, the “circuit breaker” clause is insufficient to prevent out of control escalation of enrollment and the long term costs will cause severe financial hardship on Arizona’s budget; and

WHEREAS, the “assessment” on hospitals is actually a tax and a disingenuous attempt to subvert Arizona’s Constitution and legislative process requiring tax increases receive supermajority approval in the legislature; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court ruled that each State may reject the expansion of Medicaid and Insurance Exchanges, the two cornerstones of Obamacare, without which it collapses; and

WHEREAS, the best method to honor Arizona voters’ wishes to reject Obamacare is for each State to refuse implementation and allow Obamacare to fail; and

WHEREAS, supporting a government takeover of Arizona’s health care system, even to secure large amounts of federal funds, does not reflect the values of the Republican Party or the interests of the taxpayers of Arizona.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Executive Guidance Committee of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, Maricopa County, State of Arizona, does affirm and declare our opposition to the Governor’s plan to expand Medicaid; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the Executive Guidance Committee of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, Maricopa County, State of Arizona, demands that the Arizona State Legislators uphold the rule of law set forth by Proposition 108 requiring a supermajority vote in this matter; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED by the Executive Guidance Committee of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, Maricopa County, State of Arizona, demands that the Arizona State Legislators stand with the people of Arizona in opposition to the Governor’s plan to expand Medicaid by defeating any bill to such ends.

Author: Eric Morgan, Chairman, LD22 Republican Committee

PASSED & APPROVED this 7th day of March 2013, by a vote of 26 (ayes) to 2 (nays) to 0 (abstentions) of the Executive Guidance Committee of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, Maricopa County, State of Arizona.

MARICOPA COUNTY REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE

MARICOPA COUNTY, STATE OF ARIZONA:

A. J. LaFaro

________________________________________

by: A. J. LaFaro, Chairman

Maricopa County Republican Committee

[Download Resolution]

The Shadow of Big Government

By Thomas Purcell

Shadow GovernmentIt’s been said that ennui and employment are simply incompatible. Obviously the person that said that has never lived in a country run by statists.

Yesterday I spoke with an old friend; we worked together for a few years back in the early 90’s during a roaring economy here in Arizona. He was still in the same business today, but was explaining that he was going to leave the business to sell something else, as his business was awful.

He explained some issues revolving around his financial situation, living condition etc. but basically all his problems revolved around a lack of money.

“People just aren’t buying stuff. It’s not 1995 you know” he explained.

As the conversation ended I realized that this was not the first time I heard it. Everywhere people were saying that exact expression, ‘it’s not the 1990’s you know’ or ‘it’s not what it was’. Funny thing though, the President swore his policies were the same as Clinton’s just a few short months ago at the Democratic convention.

Even people who are working are taking on roommates, working two jobs, or doing something more to make ends meet. They stay in unhappy or violent relationships because they have no other place to go; they stay in jobs with bosses they hate because they are uncertain about their prospects for another job, they take less money than they think they are worth to avoid layoffs.

Thomas Purcell

Thomas Purcell

Then they go home at night and sit in front of the TV or computer rather than going out because they are worn out from work and have no money for extras and take their medication to get through another day.

A quiet ennui has settled over the land as we continue to accept less, work more, and feed more of our money to a hungry government. We worry about government inspectors who look over our shoulder, we worry about that report that needs to be filled out for the state, and we read the emails from the boss on the new regulations and change our procedures once again.

This is the legacy of big government. It’s not the promise of a utopic society; it’s the nightmare of government telling us what to do and how to behave. It’s like living with your parents again and working for minimum wage hoping that you can save enough to move out.

We passed laws yesterday to enhance programs to protect women from violence, but fail to address the real issue causing societal unrest—the pressure of working too hard, for too little, with too much oversight—which leads to violence in the first place, not just at home, but at work and school. Like too many rats in cage with too little cheese, eventually the rats being to prey on each other. Men blame women for a feeling of emasculation and so they kill their wives in a fit of rage. School kids blame classmates for being bullied and the schoolmasters for allowing to happen and so they go ballistic and massacre them. Workers ‘go postal’ at the guy in the cubicle next to them as they pop their gum one too many times, or they fail to get that promotion that the boss decides they can’t afford.

How often do we see it happen where men prefer killing everyone rather than go through the financial chaos of divorce? Or criminals commit suicide rather than face the prospect of prison and humiliation?

Instead we decide more programs are necessary and exacerbate the problem. Each new program now costs 5 times what they say, since we have to borrow to pay for it, increase the taxes to compensate, and return the principle at compounding interest. The debt piles up and the pressure piles on. All those little programs are straws that beginning to break the camel’s back—we are bankrupt and are foolishly thinking of cutting the defense of our nation and the safety net for our elderly when we are sick and old.

A pall has fallen over the land; the shadow of big government.

Read more of Thomas Purcell at his blog: www.Thomas-Purcell.com

WSJ – Governor Brewer’s Spectacular Flip-Flop

The GOP’s ObamaCare Flippers

Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal

February 4, 2013

As D-Day looms for ObamaCare, one big question is how many states will sign up for its Medicaid expansion. The recent and spectacular flip-flop of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is a case study in the political pressure and fiscal gimmicks designed to get states to succumb. It’s also a study in the arcane and perverse ObamaCare incentives that are intended to gather ever more health-care spending under federal control.

***

Arizona’s current Medicaid program is well run by the program’s standards—a low bar—but it is also too large. The program now finances one of every two in-state births and two of every three days seniors spend in nursing homes. Spending tripled in the last decade to $9 billion a year.

That’s despite $1.8 billion in cuts since 2009. The state fisc was such a mess that in 2010 Arizona Medicaid banned paying for several types of organ transplants. In March of that year, Ms. Brewer wrote to Mr. Obama calling the Affordable Care Act “a vast new entitlement program that our country does not have the resources to support” and also one that “makes our situation much worse, exacerbating our state’s fiscal woes by billions of dollars.”

Arizona argued before the Supreme Court that the Medicaid mandate was unconstitutional, anti-federalist commandeering—and seven Justices agreed it was “a gun to the head” and allowed states to opt out without penalty.

But so much for that. In her State of the State address last month, Ms. Brewer pulled a political 180°—or maybe 540°—and said expanding Medicaid would “inject $2 billion into our economy and “save and create thousands of jobs.” (Is Larry Summers moonlighting as a Brewer speechwriter?)

One secret of her switcheroo is Medicaid’s “matching rate” formula, in which the feds pick up 67% of Arizona’s existing spending and 100% (and later 90%) of the costs of ObamaCare’s newly eligible population. The state supposedly no longer needs to spend “billions” but merely an extra $154 million in 2014—then bank $1.6 billion from Washington, which her budget documents call “a return on investment of more than 10-to-1.”

Associated PressArizona Governor Jan Brewer

How can the state conjure such money from nothing? The answer is that Ms. Brewer and Arizona hospitals have cooked up a spending scheme to rip off national taxpayers to avoid even the $154 million the state would at first pay. The hospital lobby first floated this scheme in 2011 “for the specific purpose of generating matching federal Medicaid funds.”

Here’s how it works: Arizona will tax hospitals and insurers for the $154 million. Then it will return $154 million to the health industry via more Medicaid business that will cover the cost of the tax and then some. The money needs to make a round trip from providers to the state and back to providers to game that 67% federal matching rate.

So Arizona takes (say) $3 from a hospital and then turns around and pays the $3 back, using one of the hospital’s own dollars that Arizona converted to “revenue” plus two dollars courtesy of Washington for its 67% federal share of the $3 payment. Arizona can then use the hospital’s remaining $2 of the original $3 to pay for another $6 of Medicaid expansion.

Some 49 state now use this trick of so-called provider taxes to goose federal spending, up from 21 in 2003. (Alaska is the exception.) But the practice is so abusive that even Mr. Obama proposed new limits in his last two budgets.

This subsidy honeypot can’t last forever, which is why other Governors are more skeptical about this Obama Medicaid windfall. When the money inevitably runs out, states will retain permanently larger obligations and lose budget autonomy for a generation or two as health care crowds out other priorities like education and roads.

Ms. Brewer was nonetheless besieged by health-industry lobbying, especially from hospitals that want more government money and the insurers that administer Medicaid. The campaign is orchestrated by Chuck Coughlin, Ms. Brewer’s former political strategist, and Peter Burns, a former Brewer budget consultant.

Providers are especially powerful at the state and local level, and the goal now is to rush the Brewer-Obama condominium through the Phoenix legislature with little debate. A particular offender is the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, a trade group whose 2012 agenda includes “Oppose Taxpayer Bill of Rights-style legislative referendums or bills that arbitrarily limit state spending.”

Ms. Brewer’s other rationale is that everybody else is doing it, and that if Arizona opts out of a larger Medicaid then “Arizona’s tax dollars would simply be passed to another state.” Well, no, Washington would simply spend less money that it doesn’t have. In any event Arizona is already a net tax beneficiary—pulling down $1.19 from the feds for every dollar it sends to D.C., according to the Tax Foundation.

Ten other GOP Governors have rejected Mr. Obama’s Medicaid bribe, with another 20, Democrats and Republicans, undecided. Twenty are expanding, including Republicans Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota and even, on Monday, Ohio’s John Kasich. Thus does modern government create the carrots and sticks of ever-larger government.

 

 

Call to support Obama objectives

A m e r i c a n  P o s t – G a z e t t e

Distributed by C O M M O N  S E N S E , in Arizona
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Call to support Obama objectives

All out plan to save lives!

 

Realizing Hussein Obama’s plan to control guns and reduce needless deaths in the United States will do little to curb violence; we developed a 23 point ban plan to end the major causes of mortality in the United States. In an effort to help make this a safer country for our children we offer the following ideas on things he can ban that are not constitutionally protected.

Proposed ban list:

1.       Fertilizer – this is one of the major components in homemade explosive devises most infamously used by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City. We also hear Washington D.C. is full of it.

2.       Earthquakes – these killer events have plagued humanity for eons, and are the root cause of tsunamis

3.       Terrorism – frequently used in the Middle East, and now one of the region’s most well known exports, this phenomenon strikes down many in the prime of life. The proposal is that entire cities will be declared terrorism free zones, just as schools are identified as gun free zones. Signs will be posted in English, French and Arabic with graphic symbols to ensure maximum compliance.

4.       Old people – the Surgeon General reports that the elderly have the highest death rate. Eliminating old people will significantly reduce this problem.  Additionally, most of them have read the Constitution and are disrupting the President’s agenda.

5.       Armed police – A recent study conducted by the National Association of Bank Robbers, Muggers and Rapists uncovered an alarming reduction in membership in 2012 due to police shootings. Elimination of armed police would extend the productive years of these citizens. Most of the Association’s members gunned down by police were in their prime years.

6.       Automobiles – In 2010, more than 32,000 fatal car crashes were recorded. Shocking.

7.       Horses – when people rode horses, accident rates were even higher than auto accident rates.

8.       Gasoline – without cars, this explosive, highly flammable and dangerous fuel will no longer be needed.  It is used for Molotov cocktails and bombs – deadly stuff.

9.       Tablespoons – a leading cause of obesity, widely used to eat ice cream which is loaded with cholesterol, spoons are suspected of causing three out of every four heart attacks. Furthermore, when the handles are thrust into sensitive areas of the body, such as the neck, they can sever arteries and should be considered a deadly weapon.

10.    Volcanoes – they have spawned earthquakes, and when their eruptions are powerful enough, can cause wide-spread, crop destroying global cooling that could kill hundreds of millions.

11.    Ice ages – the most recent major ice age spread ice a mile deep over Connecticut and other areas of North America. All life on earth was sharply diminished. Congress should enact immediate legislation to prevent a repeat of the last ice age.

12.    Floods – When the ice melted suddenly and precipitously, there were massive global floods that sparked descriptions of Noah like rescues of human and animal species in societies around the planet.

13.    Gravity – The law of Gravity should be repealed. It causes falls, and is a major factor in airline crashes.

14.    Airplanes – and of course, airplanes ought to be outlawed. Without airplanes, there would be no more airplane accidents. One such accident killed over 500 people! They can kill hundreds with each event.

15.     Soft drinks in containers over 16 ounces or larger – they are an important causative factor in obesity which leads to diabetes and heart disease.  New York has already taken the lead on this one.

16.    Hospitals – the danger of these institutions should be self evident. People die every day in hospitals, and nobody has made any effort to close them.

17.    McDonalds’ Happy Meals – They may be on their way out, but we must make them illegal.  San Francisco has taken the lead here.

18.    Nancy Pelosi -Just looking at her makes some folks feel suicidal.

19.    Harry Reid – his visage has been known to make people beg for a quick end.

20.    Hurricanes – these dangerous storms must be stopped once and for all, especially those that are as large as the one George Bush caused to target New Orleans.

21.    Knives – Once all guns are banned, murderers will turn to the use of knives which are known to be very deadly. There is no reason that people cannot tear their food with their bare hands and butter their bread with fingers or thumbs.

22.    Rocks – This is a primitive weapon that would be used by killers once there are neither guns nor knives. They have proven to be quite deadly in the Middle East and could be widely used elsewhere. The recommended procedure to eliminate rocks is to pulverize them into sand.

23.    Birth – The GOP research staff has come up with a startling finding. Birth is the number one causative factor in deaths around the world. Birth is so deadly, 100% of its victims eventually die because of it. If we ban birth, we will have solved the problem of human mortality forever.

This list is as comprehensive as any committee might ever be expected to produce, but in the interest of inclusiveness, we welcome your comments.  And please my fellow Americans, NO MORE RUNNING WITH SCISSORS!

The Arizona We Want 2.0

The Arizona We Want 2.0: The Case for Action

(reprinted from Az Republic, Jan. 19, 2013)

​Lattie F. Coor, Chairman and CEO

​Center for the Future of Arizona

Capturing a complete and accurate picture of Arizona is a difficult task for, in reality, we are a state of contrasts.  We have vast, beautiful open spaces and yet we’re one of the most urban states in America. We have a significant number of senior citizens yet we also have one of the youngest populations in the nation.

So, too, are we a state of contrasts in our social and political endeavors.  We have high educational aspirations, yet low investment and performance. We recognize the need for a diverse, balanced economy that will yield a larger number of high paying jobs, yet population growth and housing remain our dominant economic identity. We will be one of the first states in the nation in which our “minority” population will be the majority, yet we are not adequately educating the younger members of our new majority for success in the economy of the future.

How do we turn our contrasts into strengths as we chart a clear and coherent way forward? In The Arizona We Want 2.0, a new report our Center is releasing this week, we are presenting a roadmap that will enable us as Arizonans to sort through the elements of the future we want for ourselves and the state in order to direct our collective activities in a more coherent manner.  Building on the insights gained from The Gallup Arizona Poll in 2009, and the vast array of meetings, discussions and activities that have occurred since the release of the original Arizona We Want report, the 2.0 report turns now to presenting very specific next steps we can take to move us toward that desired future.  Those specific steps are organized around the 8 goals expressed by Citizens in the original report.  Five of the goals – Education, Job Creation, Environment and Water, Infrastructure and Health Care — are leader driven requiring the collective action of leaders around the state.  Three of the goals – Young Talent, Civic Engagement and Community Involvement – are citizen driven, requiring individual and collective action of citizens everywhere.

Making significant improvements in education and the economy are at the heart of the action plan presented by the report.  “Fix Education – Fix the Economy” is the way the recent Morrison Institute report entitled Dropped put it.

Fortunately, major improvement in Arizona education is on the horizon with the full implementation of the Common Core Standards in the coming school year along with a more rigorous set of assessments, called PARCC, year after next.  The 2.0 report calls for adequate funding for these steps as well as a substantial increase in the number of Arizonans receiving college degrees and certificate-based job training over the next 10 years.  The recommendations not only tie education funding to student, teacher and school performance but also, seek to ensure that quality education is provided to all students regardless of socio-economic status.

Similarly, for job creation, the report not only calls for a significant increase in new jobs, 75,000, but also recommends focusing on jobs that will increase the average wage over time by 30% county by county. There is also an emphasis on strengthening and/or recruiting businesses that export at least 75% of their product, as well as a challenge to move our research and development expenditures into a ranking among the top 10 states.

Highlights of the remaining 6 goals of The Arizona We Want 2.0 include recommendations for the Environment and Water that 30,000 acres a year be thinned from our National Forests to reduce the fire danger and that at least 600,000 acres of State Trust Land be preserved for open space use.  With respect to water, the report recommends the adoption of at least three new regional and community plans to ensure sustainable uses of water and it also urges Arizona to establish itself as the nation’s leader in water conservation and usage. The goals for Infrastructure call for high speed broadband to be available throughout the state and for citizens to support local community commitments to upgrade streets, water and sewage treatment facilities and public transportation.  Health Care goals include a recommendation that we build upon the success of AHCCCS to provide coverage to more Arizonans, maximize federal dollars and that we develop a health workforce plan to meet Arizona’s future needs.

Since the Gallup Arizona Poll indicated that only 11% of our citizens thought Arizona was a good place for young college graduates, our report places major emphasis on recruiting and retaining talented young people.  It urges communities throughout the state to demonstrate that they value young people and recommends that we involve young people on boards and commissions and foster spaces and events that attract young talent

The final two goals of the report focus on civic engagement and community involvement and present the findings of the 2012 Arizona Civic Health Index report to guide the development of programs in each of those two areas.

Having worked with individuals and organizations throughout the state in preparing The Arizona We Want 2.0 report, we believe key leverage points for action are now ready for implementation.  We believe also that this is a critical moment for Arizona: we all have a vested interest in mobilizing around the citizens’ goals of the 2.0 report and aligning our efforts to achieve these goals. Success will be contingent on the collective effort of individuals and organizations throughout our state.  In light of the urgency and significance of this work, we have created The Arizona We Want Institute, chaired by Don Smith, President and CEO of SCF Arizona, to lead our part of the effort.  We strongly encourage individuals and organizations from across the state to join with us in forming alliances that will help us achieve the Arizona we want

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Congressman David Schweikert discusses upcoming debt ceiling fight on CNBC

There is no one better able to discuss and debate our pending economic crisis than Congressman David Schweikert. Watch as he schools two CNBC business reporters on what’s really happening with the debt ceiling debate.

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Thanksgiving Story: The Pilgrims, Socialism, and Free Enterprise

The story of the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving is widely taught in all our schools.  What is seldom taught, however, is what those Pilgrims learned, at great pain, about Free Enterprise versus Socialism. That story stands as perhaps the clearest and starkest-ever comparison between those two rival systems for human interaction.

We all know how the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in November, 1620, and how they lost half their population to starvation, sickness, and exposure that first winter. We all know how a Native American named Squanto taught the survivors to fish, plant corn, use fertilizer, and hunt deer. And we know that following their first harvest, Governor William Bradford (above) declared a day of Thanksgiving that we celebrate to this day.

What most of us never learned was that the original contract the Pilgrims brokered with their London sponsors required that everything the Pilgrims produced was to go into a common store, and every member was to be allotted one equal share.  Further, all the land they cleared and all the buildings they constructed were to belong the whole community.

It must have sounded like the ideal society.  Free of outside evil influences, greed and personal property were to be banished.  Everyone was to work for the common good, and altruism was to be its own reward.

How did it work out?  Horribly.  In the three winters of 1621-1623, many died from starvation, pneumonia, or both.  Here is Governor Bradford’s own summary of the community’s results with what we now call Socialism:

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.

In other words, said the Governor, it simply didn’t work.

Wisely, in April, 1623, Bradford abruptly abandoned the idealistic practice of collectivism. Instead, he assigned a plot of land to each family, permitting them to keep everything they grew or made and to market anything they didn’t consume themselves.  He actually harnessed all that awful ”greed” and put it to work in a Free Enterprise system.  Bradford had discovered that even these most idealistic of peoples had no reason to put in any extra effort without the motivation of personal incentives to do so.

So how did Free Enterprise work out for the same people in the same place under the same circumstances?  Boffo!

The Pilgrims soon had more food than they could eat or trade amongst themselves.  So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Native Americans.  They paid off their debts to their London sponsors and soon attracted a great European migration.

As Bradford summarized the new approach:

This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.

This was an essential and timeless lesson, learned the hard way.   So why isn’t this lesson featured up front, in neon lights, in American history classes?  Why isn’t it the lead story of the Pilgrim experience?   Perhaps it’s because the people who write our history textbooks still don’t want to believe it.  Perhaps those authors still cling to the hope that some form of Socialism will one day triumph over Free Enterprise.   Unfortunately for those authors, the historical record couldn’t be clearer, and the Pilgrims’ experience is Exhibit One:  when it comes to bettering the life of the common man, Free Enterprise works — and Socialism fails.

For more than 3000 years at Passover, Jews around the world have been re-telling the story of their deliverance from slavery, and for over 2000 years at Easter, Christians have been re-telling the story of their redemption.  Now that it’s been nearly 400 years since the Pilgrims landed in America, perhaps we could begin re-telling the real story of Thanksgiving every year, headlining those life-and-death lessons the Pilgrims learned about the differences between Socialism and Free Enterprise.

[Originally posted at WesternFreePress.com, January 26, 2011]