Immigration Policy Is Unjust



global_crossings_180x270Like you and every other person, I have no just right to prescribe for another person where he may come and go, with whom he may contract as employer or employee, and with whom he may buy, sell, and otherwise associate, so long as he does not violate anyone’s justly acquired private property rights or otherwise infringe on anyone’s natural rights. I don’t own other people; nor do you; nor does anyone else.

As everyone from John Locke to the Founders of the United States to the general run of political philosophers has recognized, the people are, in justice, the political sovereigns, and the government possesses no rights of its own, but only powers delegated to it by the sovereign people, who make this delegation solely to defend their natural rights more effectively.

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The Gender Wage Gap—A Myth that Just Won’t Die



gender wageThis past year I was on the academic job market, applying for faculty positions at a variety of colleges and universities. As a woman making a critical career move, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in cover letters, resumes, statistics about cost of living, state income taxes, health insurance, and, of course, salary information.

Chances are you’ve heard the statistic on numerous occasions, “women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—for exactly the same work.” I certainly heard this several times throughout my job search in various contexts. This issue of the supposed “gender wage gap” came up again recently during the 2015 Oscars when actress Patricia Arquette used the platform to call for wage equality stating,

To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.

Social media exploded. Bloggers, politicians, and others applauded Arquette for her statements. The familiar and rallying cry of “equal pay for equal work” was everywhere. While few would disagree with the sentiment that men and women should receive the same compensation for the same services, the position espoused by Arquette and others that women are systematically underpaid is just plain wrong. Of the many economic-related fallacies to be cited as gospel on a regular basis, this one drives me positively insane.

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Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore’s Transformation from Poor to Prosperous



SingaporeLee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s legendary statesman, who died last month at the age of 91, posed a challenge to those of us who believe in political and economic freedom (and all other freedoms). His combination of authoritarianism and economic freedom, of social engineering and self-reliance, worked. The result was a society that is more prosperous than most others, but free only in some respects.

For years, the best examples one could come up with to show that the marriage of economic and political liberty could work were the liberal democracies of the developed world, whose achievements originated in centuries past and different circumstances.

Lee Kuan Yew’s credentials became strong as many countries that also gained independence in the 1950s or 1960s opted for a mix of nativism and collectivism that kept them poor while tiny Singapore, with no natural resources, emerged as an economic powerhouse. While Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Castro—not to cite Mobutu, Idi Amin Dada, and others—destroyed the chances of a decent life for many generations, Lee Kuan Yew created the conditions for a 124-fold increase in Singapore’s per capita income in half a century.

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Needles of Panic? White House Fears Rejection of Boehner-Pelosi-Obama Medicare “Doc Fix”



HealthInsThe White House is starting to lose confidence that the Senate will uncritically swallow the Boehner-Pelosi-Obama so-called Medicare “doc fix”.

According to The Hill, the Obama administration is pleading with the Senate to pass the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) immediately after the Senate reconvenes on April 13. If not, the bill stalls, the administration will have to start processing doctors’ claims at a significantly lower rate of payment on April 15.

This pressure mirrors that of Obamacare supporters such as AARP and the American Hospital Association, which are lobbying hard toward the same goal: recruiting Republican legislators onto Obamacare’s B-Team by getting them to vote for this perpetual extension of the current Medicare payment system, which Obamacare made worse by centralizing decisions about “quality” and “value” in the federal government.

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Authority and Easter



empty-tombEaster is the day of liberation—the day the greatest earthly power has done its best, unleashed its ultimate weapon—and been defeated.

I’ve previously posted (here and here) a few thoughts on Easter’s significance to me, and this year turn to the insights of N.T. Wright—the renowned New Testament scholar, former Bishop of Durham and current professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

His output is prolific, impressive, and varied—from thick, scholarly tomes, to breezy, accessible guides to each of the books of the New Testament. Throughout, Wright reminds us time and again that we must read the New Testament in its context—in the lives and times of the first-century Jewish followers of Jesus. Yes, the truths are timeless, but we cannot simply transport the words wholesale into our 21st century mindset. And we cannot simply take a passage here and a citation there, string them together, and make our case. The Bible is an entire narrative.

It is by such taking of snippets, and disregarding the context in which they were written, that the same passages are used to make quite completely opposite points. A common case in point is Romans 13: 1-7, in which Paul, writing to the early Christians in Rome, tells them to obey authority and pay their taxes. Given that Nero was the ruling authority, and the taxation being levied was unfair and excessive, this is frequently cited, especially by “conservative” Christians, that this constitutes orders for us, in all times and all places, to obey authority and pay our taxes.

The historian Wright reminds us that Paul was writing to a particular people, living under particular circumstances, in a particular time. Paul himself spent a great deal of his missionary life in various prisons, and his life was ended by torture and beheading in Rome by the very authorities of whom he wrote in this letter—so if those who cite this passage to defend obedience to rulers are correct, Paul apparently did not follow his own entreaty.

So what was it all about, and what does this mean at Easter?

According to Wright:

…Paul is saying … that the Christians, who were regarded as the scum of the earth in Rome at the time, must not get an additional reputation as trouble-makers. No good will come to the cause of the gospel [the “good news” of Jesus] by followers of Jesus being regarded as crazy dissidents who won’t cooperate with the most basic social mechanisms. Paul is anxious, precisely because he believes that Jesus is the true Lord of the world, that his followers should not pick unnecessary quarrels with lesser lords. They are indeed a revolutionary community, but if they go for the normal type of violent revolution they will just be playing the empire back at its own game.

To take Paul’s letter as an instruction for Christians to live as meek subjects of the State makes a lie of Jesus’s life, and especially death and resurrection: Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. Jesus was tried, convicted and killed by the all mighty Jewish and Roman authorities—but he did not stay dead.

And so to Wright’s “An Uncomfortable Truth at Easter:”

The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of the final putting-to-rights of all things. In the light of the resurrection, the church must never stop reminding the world’s rulers and authorities that they themselves will be held to account, and that they must do justice and bring wise, healing order to God’s world ahead of that day. Those who want to depoliticize the resurrection must first dehistoricize it, which is of course what they have been doing enthusiastically for many years – and then we wonder why the church has sometimes sounded irrelevant! But we who celebrate our risen Lord today must bear witness to Easter, God’s great act of putting-right, as the yardstick for all human justice.

And this is the cry to we beneficiaries of Christ’s teachings, the Spanish scholastics, the Austrians, the great expositors of liberty and rights and truth and justice: by seeking these things in this world, we must therefore pick our fights judiciously, choose the hill we’ll die on, keeping our eyes on and always measuring against the true yardstick.

Education Savings Accounts Challenge Common Core’s One-Size-Fits-All Schooling



coverdell-education-savings-account-esa04With a growing Common Core opt-out backlash by parents and students against one-size-fits all government schooling, it’s no surprise that the latest innovation in educational choice is allowing more parents to personalize their children’s learning through educational savings accounts, or ESAs. As I explained in a recent Washington Times opinion piece:

The concept behind ESAs is simple. Parents who do not prefer a public school education simply promise not to enroll their child for the upcoming year, and 90 percent of what the state would have sent to the public school is deposited into that child’s ESA instead. Parents then use a type of “debit card” to pay for education services and supplies, including private school tuition and fees, online courses, tutoring, therapists, and testing programs. Importantly, leftover funds remain in the child’s ESA and can be used for future education expenses, such as college.

Arizona became the first state to enact an ESA program in 2011, followed by Florida in 2014. Both programs serve students identified as having special educational needs. Arizona has sinceexpanded its program to include students in or assigned to failing public schools, students from the foster care system, as well as children of Active Duty members of the military stationed within the state. Proposed expansions introduced this year would make students being raised by their grandparents, those who live on Indian reservations, and students on public school waiting lists eligible for Arizona ESAs. Gov. Rick Scott has also proposed $5 million in additional funding to expand Florida’s ESA program.

ESA programs in Arizona and Florida are enrolling nearly 2,600 students combined and are helping parents customize their children’s education to degrees few Americans could otherwise afford. Not only are parents more satisfied, students are thriving academically and socially for less than what it costs in a public school setting.

The ability to choose not simply where but how their children are educated results in high parental satisfaction with ESAs, according to follow up studies. Fully 100 percent of participating Arizona parents reported being satisfied with the program, with 71 percent reporting they are “very satisfied.” In contrast, just 43 percent of parents reported any level of satisfaction with their children’s previous public schools.

No wonder this spring at least 22 state legislatures are considering or introducing ESA legislation.

As Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Freidman noted, just because we finance education through government, that does not mean government should be in charge of delivering education. “Education spending will be most effective,” Friedman explained, “if it relies on parental choice and private initiative—the building blocks of success throughout our society.”

Government Union Boss Apparently Equates Valuing Work with Taxpayer Shakedowns



TaxpayerShakedownOn the heels of the worst jobs report in over a year, Watchdog.org’s Jason Hart reports that Americans “are footing the bill for six-figure government union pay.” As Hart explains:

Taxes siphoned by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees let the union pay its staff and officers an average of $103,623 last year. …

While private-sector union spending can harm workers, employers and hit customers with higher costs, taxpayers throughout the country are stuck with the tab for spending by AFSCME and other public-sector labor unions.

AFSCME deducts dues from members’ taxpayer-funded paychecks. In 21 states and Washington, D.C., AFSCME and its affiliates can take hundreds of dollars per year in mandatory “agency fees” from nonmembers.

As of Dec. 31, AFSCME had 1,337,126 members and 125,255 forced agency-fee payers, based on the labor union’s annual report to the Department of Labor. AFSCME’s Washington, D.C., headquarters collected $178,668,843 from its state and local affiliates.

In 2014, AFSCME headquarters paid 566 officers and employees an average of $103,623. In addition to the 10 officers and employees paid more than $250,000 each, 16 were paid between $200,000 and $250,000 and 60 were paid between $150,000 and $200,000

AFSCME President Lee Saunders was paid $348,745 last year, and last month issued a statement calling for bigger government.

With an $18 trillion debt (at last count) subsidizing government union bosses is the last thing we can afford to be doing. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel, according to Hart:

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, expected as soon as next year, potentially could end mandatory union dues for government employees nationwide.

Unfortunately, as Hart concludes:

Even if workers are given the ability to opt out of paying AFSCME — as thousands in Wisconsin and Michigan have done under reforms passed in 2011 and 2012, respectively — taxpayers still will be indirectly funding the union through payroll dues deduction from remaining members.

With tax season upon us, it’s worth keeping this in mind—especially since it now takes 114 days to reach Tax Freedom Day, which the Tax Foundation defines as the day “when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year.”

Valuing “work,” as Saunders puts it, should not mean shaking down taxpayers.

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak on Humans Becoming Gods, Pets, or Ants



29845974_MSteve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, Inc., spoke recently with the Australian Financial Review. In a wide-ranging interview, Wozniak offered his thoughts on the future relationship between man and computer.

“Computers are going to take over from humans, no question,” Wozniak said. He now foresees a time when computers will mimic human consciousness, a potentially dangerous development according to Wozniak.

He admitted to not knowing exactly what the future holds for humans, but his comments suggest a pessimistic view:

Like people including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have predicted, I agree that the future is scary and very bad for people. If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they’ll think faster than us and they’ll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently. Will we be the gods? Will we be the family pets? Or will we be ants that get stepped on?

Wozniak speculated that the undoing of humans might be quantum computers. Today’s computers process data using binary ones and zeros. A quantum computer would operate on qubits, which can be a one and a zero at the same time; and thus, it can execute extremely complicated calculations in vastly less time compared with current computers.

Quantum computers would allow Moore’s Law to continue beyond 2020, when some scientists predict the law will reach its limit as transistors become as small as a single atom.

“I hope it [a quantum computer] does come, and we should pursue it because it is about scientific exploring,” Wozniak said. “But in the end, we just may have created the species that is above us.”

So what do you think? Will the increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence turn humans into gods, pets, ants, or something else? Share your comments below and let’s start a (polite) conversation.

The U.S.’s Nazi Imports



80e1d323989f1925f5ff0bbc2afd2063A Florida appeals panel recently upheld an order to deport General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova. A former defense minister of El Salvador, Casanova is accused of gross human rights violations, including the 1980 murder of three nuns and a missionary. He was granted entry into the United States in 1989. Now, a unit of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is looking to send him back to his native land. The message is a simple one — the U.S. government won’t tolerate or harbor human rights abusers.

Or…maybe it will.

After the end of WWII, the United States was met with a large number of people who desired entry. Individuals from all over Europe clamored to leave their war-torn homelands and start fresh. Operating under the National Origins Act of 1924, which set strict quotas on immigration based on country of origin, many were barred from entering.

Immigration during this time was (supposedly) compounded by an additional consideration. That is, the U.S. government was supposed to ensure that no former Nazis or Axis sympathizers gained entry into the country. The Allied program of “denazification” was in full effect, attempting to remove former Nazi members from positions of power and influence.

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Access to Health Care Unchanged after Obamacare’s First Year



Learn More About Health Insurance - History 4The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released early estimates of health insurance and access to health care for January through September 2014. The National Health Insurance Survey (NHIS) is the most effective survey of health insurance, because it asks people three different but important questions: Are they uninsured at the time of the survey? Have they been uninsured for at least part of the year? Have they been uninsured for more than a year?

The proportion of long-term uninsured is about the same as it was circa 2000—about 12 percent of adults aged 18 to 64. The proportion of short-term uninsured has shrunk a little in Obamacare’s first year.

However, this masks a dramatic increase in government dependency among working-age adults, which was not primarily due to Obamacare.

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  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org