Archive for the ‘Big government’ Category

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom

November 19, 2012

Illegal hair-do in Utah unless your braider has a license

After a long and grueling election season, I’m tired.

Tired of beating my head against a wall.

Tired of watching good people make bad choices.

Tired of being beat up for taking a stand.

Tired of feeling like no matter what I do, it’s “Same song, 2nd verse” – or 6th, or 10th, or 40th.

After November 6, I took some time off. Read. Played with the kids. Went to the movies. Even went to the dentist. I did NOT go to interim day on Utah’s Capitol Hill last week – but I should have.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.
We’ve all heard that quote, right?

It can conjur up mighty images of the battlefield, of Patrick Henry and his impassioned speech, of fighting for freedom in the fields of Gettysburg. More recently, it might bring to mind presidential elections and unelected czars, a fiscal cliff and partisan gridlock.

As it turns out, it applies to the state legislature and little things like hair braiding as much as it does our federal politics.  (Dang it. I already knew that….)

In the Business and Labor committee on Wednesday,a bill was passed unanimously, by the legislators who were there. This bill creates – and requires – licensure for hair-braiders in the state of Utah. In fact, it creates two levels of hair-braiders (regular and advanced), adds in hair-braiding apprenticeships (800 hours or more) and creates a brand-new concept of a hair-braiding school. Imagine that.

The committee did manage to exempt “natural” hair braiding, but if you want to add extensions or even just beads, well, you’re out of luck. (Of course, if you don’t charge, then there is no problem because it is OBVIOUSLY the exchange of money that makes the practice dangerous, right?)

Because it passed unanimously, the bill will be introduced during the upcoming legislative session as a committee bill, bypassing additional committee hearings and having very limited floor discussion.

It was sad to hear the only person who testified for the bill (no one knew it was coming up – that eternal vigilance thing biting us in the butt) was the lobbyist for the cosmetology schools. She said that “we” had worked out a “deal” after the last legislative session. “Who’s the we,” you might ask. That would be the owner of a chain of beauty schools, said lobbyist and the sponsor of the bill. That’s appears to be it. There certainly was no outreach to the people who oppose licensing hair braiding in its entirety.

Some people have asked who is behind the push to license hair braiding. The answer is simple: Follow the money. If you as the owner of a beauty school – or even better, a chain of them – can get the government to require any and all persons who want to practice ANY part of your government-sanctioned monopoly, you can laugh it up all the way to the bank. If this bill passes, then if you want to legally braid hair with beads ala Cleopatra, you need HUNDREDS of hours of training – and that’s the bare minimum. Failure to comply? A fine of up to $1000 for the first offense, up to $2000 for EACH subsequent offense. And ps: even if you’ve been doing “advanced” hair braiding since you were 5, not only can you no longer do it, you can’t teach it to others, either.

If that weren’t enough, the committee threw in another little bonus for the cosmetology schools: eyelashes. Want ’em done? Gotta go to a state-licensed school to learn a whole bunch of stuff you’ll never use but hey! Big brother knows best, even in Utah.

Way to shut down cottage businesses, guys. All that free-market stuff only applies prior to the first Tuesday in November, is that it?

I’m so disappointed. And I just don’t get it. We have good people in the legislature, but this is a mighty bad decision.

Back to my opening statement.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Even when you’re tired.

See you on the Hill.

UPDATE: In speaking with the bill sponsor, Jim Dunnigan, he was clear that a 600-hr license and a 300-hr license ARE a move in the right direction and that even if “hair braiding” is not in the current statute, the definitions of “twisting, locking, weaving” mean that it IS included. Certainly DOPL considers it part of the current licensure. From that perspective – which I understand – he’s right that 600 hours and 300 hours are less than 2000 hours. I still think it’s 300 and 600 hours too many. We’re working on that…..

What a novel idea: A President who understands business!

November 1, 2012

President Obama finally clued in that the American people care about the economy and pronounced that he would consider appointing a new Czar Secretary of Business. How Ayn Randian of him.

Or – and bear with me here – we could elect a President who actually UNDERSTANDS business! The choice in this election is clear. Under President Obama, we will have four more years of the last four years, with higher taxes, fewer jobs and less take-home pay.

In 2008, Barack Obama promised to take China “to the mat.” Instead, he’s allowed China to treat the United States like a doormat. Regulations are crushing small business, yet President Obama has issued major new regulations at an unprecedented rate. He has stalled the trade negotiations and agreements he inherited, he has started no new negotiations, and he has completed no agreements of his own. Our corporate tax rate is already uncompetitive, and President Obama wants to take even more from our small businesses through new and higher taxes.

Worse still, President Obama has NO NEW IDEAS to fix the economy – other than creating a new bureaucrat.

Time for a president who actually has a plan.

Let’s ban profits! So say DNC convention-goers

September 6, 2012

See for yourself.

USDA intern program spent $2 M, hired ONE intern

August 10, 2012

The USDA released a report this morning of an audit done by the Office of Inspector General.

One of their findings? An intern program that got two million bucks – and hired one intern.

From their executive summary:

We continue to find that OCIO’s efforts should have been strategically planned, prioritized, and managed in order to be more effective. First, we found that several of OCIO’s projects did not meet the purposes outlined in the Congressional request for funding or address the Department’s most critical IT security concerns. For example, OCIO funded an intern program for a total of $2 million which, while funded as a security enhancement project, only resulted in one intern being hired full-time…

Sounds like a job for Frugal Dougall!

(h/t Liberty News)

Chicago Trib goes after Obama

July 18, 2012

You know it’s bad when the Chicago Tribune goes after the hometown boy now sitting in the POTUS chair – but they did. Award-winning columnist John Kass – who has been with the paper for almost 30 years – published a piece today titled “Who else, Mr. President?”

He starts with this: “When President Barack Obama hauled off and slapped American small-business owners in the mouth the other day, I wanted to dream of my father.”

He goes on to talk about his father and uncle who built a grocery business on the South Side of Chicago from the ground up – no federal bailout money, no corporate welfare, no handouts, no lobbyists…..

Just two immigrant brothers and their families risking everything, balancing on the economic high wire, building a business in America. They sacrificed, paid their bills, counted pennies to pay rent and purchase health care and food and not much else. And for their troubles they were muscled by the politicos, by the city inspectors and the chiselers and the weasels, all those smiling extortionists who held the government hammer over all of our heads.

He thought of his Dad, he says, when he heard President Obama tell small business owners “If you’ve got a business you didn’t build that. Somebody else make that happen.”

He knows first-hand the hard work that goes in to building a business, the possibility of failure and the entrepreneurs who “entrepreneurs risk everything, their homes, their children’s college funds, their hearts, all for a chance at the dream: independence, and a small business of their own.”

He concludes with this:

Obama’s changed. Gone is that young knight drawing the sword from the stone, selling Hopium to the adoring media, preaching an end to the broken politics of the past. These days, he wears a new presidential persona: the multimillionaire with the Chicago clout, playing the class warrior, fighting for that second term.

And he offers an American dream much different from my father’s. Open your eyes and you can see it too. He stands there at the front of the mob, in his shirt sleeves, swinging that government hammer, exhorting the crowd to use its votes and take what it wants.”

H/T Senator Todd Weiler

Obama administration guts work requirement for welfare program

July 17, 2012

The Obama administration has moved yet again to circumvent Congress. Last week, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services issued a new policy directive which gutted the work requirements of President Clinton’s welfare reform law of 1996.

As we face looming financial disaster, the current administration has moved to expand the culture of entitlement by no longer requiring recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to work or prepare for work as a condition for receiving this welfare aid.

According the Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell:

This reform was very successful. TANF became the only welfare program (out of more than 70) that promoted greater self-reliance. It moved 2.8 million families off the welfare rolls and into jobs so that they were providing for themselves. Child poverty fell, and single-parent employment rose. Recipients were required to perform at least 20–30 hours per week of work or job preparation activities in exchange for the cash benefit.
Now, Obama’s HHS is claiming that it can waive those work requirements that are at the heart of the law, and without Congress’s consent.

The new directive states that the TANF work requirement can be waived or over-ridden using something known as the “section 1115 waiver authority”. That section of the Social Security law says that “the Secretary may waive compliance with any of the requirements” of specified parts of different laws – however, it is not carte blanche authority. In fact, the ONLY provisions that can be waived under section 1115 must be contained in section 1115. The work provisions of the TANF program are not.

When TANF was created in the late 90’s, Congress deliberately exempted most of the program from the section 1115 waiver authority so that the laws could not be rewritten via directives from HHS. In fact, only one section of the TANF law falls under section 1115 – state reporting requirements.

The bureaucratic gymnastics to exempt the work requirements are frightening in their implications. With this new directive, HHS guts the core of TANF, allowing them to rewrite the law at will, via rules, regulations and directives – but keeping Congress completely out of the loop. They do so in clear opposition to the 2001 findings of the Congressional Research Service and the intent of the law as written. The 2001 finding states explicitly that the limited authority to waive state reporting requirement in section 402 does not grant authority to override work and other major requirements in the other sections of the TANF law
This is a not the first time President Obama has gone around Congress to push his agenda. It’s not even the first time in the last month. In the face of exploding costs – welfare spending has grown more rapidly than Social Security and Medicare, education, and defense – the work requirements of the TANF program were a step in the right direction. Now, instead of working towards REDUCING the size and scope of a nation’s dependence on government programs, we now have one more program we can’t pay for – and no incentive for recipients to get off.

Congress must reassert its authority as a check and balance against the executive branch. We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the unprecedented power grabs of the current administration.

Mia Love: Make the moral case about the future we are leaving our children

July 17, 2012

Republican Congressional candidate Mia Love says that while we have plenty of facts and figures about the out-of-control debt, we must ALSO make the moral case about the future the federal government is now stealing from our children and grandchildren.

Forcing students to buy school lunches

April 12, 2011

How far are people willing to go to ensure that others – in this case kids – make the “right” decisions? At the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, Principal Elsa Carmona will not allow lunch to be brought from home.  She said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

The policy has been in place for six years and while Carmona declined to name other schools with similar policies, she said it is a common practice. Of course, schools that ban homemade lunches also put more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. They were unavailable for comment.

The students and their families have been told they must eat the school provided food or “go hungry” – and some are going hungry. According the the Chicago Tribune, “during a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though [Chicago Public Schools] have improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.” On the South Side of town, Claremont Academy Elementary confiscates the “bad” food – snacks that are high in sugar or salt.

School lunches and healthy eating are smaller parts of a national debate about the role government should play in individual food choices. “This is such a fundamental infringement on parental responsibility,” said J. Justin Wilson, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom. “They’re saying, ‘Parents don’t know what’s best for their children, the government does.’ ”

Of course, policies banning lunch from home also ignore the fact that school lunches can be, well, gross. Susan Rubin, a nutritionist and founder of the “Better School Food” programs has some pointed words for Little Village Academy. According to an AOL News interview, she didn’t mince words about the cafeteria food in most schools.

“It’s rare that I see a school, especially a public school, that actually serves food that’s good,” she said in a phone interview. “I get physically sick just looking at it, because it makes me sick that kids are eating this processed crap.”

School kids in Chicago are starting to protest and the issue is gaining national attention. Even on liberal Huffington post, some 80% of their readers voting in an online poll (bottom of the article) believe parents should be able to make decisions about their child’s nutrition. About 86 percent of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced price school lunches because their families live close to the poverty line. For the ones who don’t, they are forced to shell out $2.25 per child per day, while the cost of sending a nutritious meal from home is generally much lower.

When are tax cuts a bad thing?

December 16, 2010

When they pile on additional spending with no offsets, that’s when. The bill to extend the Bush tax cuts sailed through the Senate this week and is scheduled to be voted on in the House today. However, it is meeting with bipartisan resistance. Because of its very short-term nature, it does not create market certainty. It piles on an additional $300 billion in spending and makes no cuts to spending. Democrats complain that it extends the tax cuts for all, including small businesses that actually produce jobs. Some were so angry, in fact, that “F— the president” was heard coming out of the Democrat caucus.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, writing in USA Today points out that the temporary nature of the extension removes much of the potential benefit for creating an environment that encourages growth.

Of course, delay now is better than an immediate tax hike. But because the extension is only temporary, a large portion of the investment and job growth that characteristically accompanies low taxes will be lost. When entrepreneurs and employers make decisions to start or expand an enterprise, uncertainty about tax rates translates directly into a reduced propensity to invest and to hire. With only a two-year extension, investors know that before their returns are realized, tax rates may be jacked up to the levels favored by President Obama. So while the tax deal will succeed in temporarily putting more money in the hands of consumers, it will fail to deliver its full potential for creating lasting growth.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz spoke to National Review about the bill. “I think the support is eroding,” he says. “The more people understand that one third of the cost of this bill has nothing to do with the Bush tax cuts, the more unpalatable it becomes.”

Additionally, Moody Investors Service predicts that passing this package without offsetting spending reductions could negatively impact the nation’s credit rating.

According to Bloomberg:

“From a credit perspective, the negative effects on government finance are likely to outweigh the positive effects of higher economic growth,” wrote Senior Credit Officer Stephen Hess. “Unless there are offsetting measures, the package will be credit- negative for the U.S. and increase the likelihood of a negative outlook on the U.S. government’s AAA rating during the next two years.”

The GOP has the votes starting January 5th to make the tax cuts permanent and can pass a bill without the extra spending in a straight up or down vote. Frankly, this vote could well be referenced during the 2012 elections as evidence that the GOP learned nothing from 2006 or 2008. Whether out-of-control spending comes from Republicans or Democrats, the American people are sick and tired of larded-up bills. Make the current tax rates permanent and do it January 6th – without any more trips to the trough.

Ominous omnibus

December 16, 2010

The level of tone-deafness in DC has hit an all-time high. After an absolute thrashing of establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle, those good ole boys (and gals) decided to give the American people a giant middle finger on their way out of town.

They just introduced a ginormous spending bill. $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending, almost 6700 earmarks, to the tune of $8 billion and oh yeah – toss in another billion for Obamacare that doesn’t even go into effect until 2014. Unbelievable.

Soon-to-be-former Senator Bob Bennett remains defiant to the end, adding hundreds of earmarks that add up to over a billion dollars, then telling The Hill:

“That’s my intention,” said retiring Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) when asked if he would support the package.
 
Bennett said earmarks in the bill might give some of his GOP colleagues reason to hesitate but wouldn’t affect his vote.
 
“It will be tough for some, but not for me,” he said.

Meanwhile, Utah’s Senator Hatch has pulled the visible earmark requests under his name and removed them from his website. His donors have no reason to fear, though – Senator Bennett is sponsoring those very earmark requests.

Additionally, he still has hidden goodies, according to Nacilbupera:

Hatch proposed a $1M bailout earmark for helping with the UTOPIA buildout for Perry City and Tremonton in a $132B appropriations bill which had yet to be voted on: S. 3606.

The proposed $1.1T Omnibus takes S. 3606 and adopts it in full or modified form (so sorry, like anybody else in Congress I haven’t had time to read it all) and combines it with the other pending appropriation bills Congress has failed to address. If you compare p. 55 of S. 3606 which authorizes the money to p. 63 of the Omnibus, they read exactly the same: both grant the continuation of the $18M in grant money (the grant money was separately earmarked on p. 76 of Senate report 111-221).

Some of the Christmas goodies include the following list from Senator John McCain (who, it appears, can be taught)

#10. Is a tie – $300,000 for the Iowa Orchestra & $106,000 for the Utah Symphony

#9. $1,500,000 for New England Multi-Species Surveys and Development in New Bedford, MA

#8. $300,000 for Groundfish research in Augusta, ME

#7 $500,000 for highly migratory shark fishery research program in San Jose, CA

#6. $2,500,000 for the Imiloa Astronomy Center in Honolulu, HI

#5. $425,000 to restore the Booneville Hardware Building in Booneville, MS – population 8,360!!

#4. $1 million to re-introduce upper floor housing in Des Moines, IA – what about the lower floor housing?

#3. $3 million for Chesapeake Bay Oyster restoration in Maryland.

#2. $500,000 for Blue Fin Tuna tagging and research in California

#1. $10,000,000 to the John P. Murtha Foundation – nuff said…

Only in government do people who are fired get two months free reign AND control of the checkbook. The first politician to introduce a no-lame-duck-session bill – and get it passed – will become an instant national hero.


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