Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

IMG_2133Guest post by Charles Frohman.

A Virginia libertarian can vote Tuesday for Attorney General Cuccinelli and feel comfortable, despite his unwillingness to contemplate removal of government from women’s health care, private behavior, gun purchases or immigration. That’s because the “Cooch” – as some in politics call the Republican candidate for governor – will focus on the changes needed in the state for progress: cuts in government taxation, cuts in bureaucratic spending and cuts in job-stifling regulations. Certainly McAuliffe, the Democrat, offers no reason for a vote, given his “government-first” answers for any Virginia problem. What about the third choice, Libertarian Sarvis? Doesn’t he offer an investment for Virginia’s long-term future that combines the fiscal responsibility of the Cooch without the social interventions saddling the AG?

Yes, only Sarvis offers the combination of fiscal responsibility and social tolerance favored by most Americans; if ten percent of voters Tuesday invest in the Libertarian, that party will have no signature threshold to get onto future state-wide ballots through the next several elections – guaranteeing a libertarian choice and, perhaps most importantly, pressure on the Republicans to stop offering candidates that are only partially acceptable, as the Cooch is only acceptable fiscally.

Conservatives may have noticed the GOP smears against Sarvis floating around the interwebs over the past week. They claim Sarvis isn’t as libertarian as the Cooch on spending, healthcare reform or transportation funding. These distortions of the Libertarian’s record have properly been debunked by the Richmond Times Dispatch, Virginia Conservative and Virginia Right – all faithful conservative media organs and none in the pocket of Sarvis. The truth on taxes is that while the Cooch helpfully would marginally cut income taxes, Sarvis would seek abolition of the hated tax and move to a consumption tax (making us competitive with the growing number of states that rely for revenue solely on a sales tax). Let’s abolish the income tax.

On taxpayer-funded health care for the poor, Sarvis never said he disagreed with Cuccinelli on holding the line on expanding Medicaid –the core access expansion provision of ObamaCare. Sarvis, however, has called for reform of government health care, moving to a cash-support model (touted famously in 2012 by Congressman Paul Ryan) whereby the poor could receive a voucher to buy any health plan instead of having a one-size-fits-all plan shoved onto them. Further, only Sarvis wants to get government out of women’s health care; Cuccinelli doesn’t. Libertarians – and Sarvis – want government out of health care period.

On Transportation funding, Sarvis is accused of supporting a privacy-violating mileage tax to fund road building. The Libertarian does not endorse this tax and instead merely included it in a list of suggested ways to undo the damage done by Cuccinelli’s administration that moved away from user fees. Further, only Sarvis has mentioned the libertarian dream of devolving road building decisions to local governments away from Richmond. Local control is the way to fix those potholes and build more lanes to get rid of congestion.

Staying on the privacy-threatening implications of the car mileage tax, it’s striking that the Republicans making this warning fail to see the way Cuccinelli already has violated this warning with his support for mental health gun bans. For the government to deny 2nd Amendment rights to mental patients, the government must violate health privacy. And who doesn’t suspect the definition of mental disability will expand as the government tries to deny more Americans – including civil dissidents – this ancient right of armed defense? The 2nd amendment is not to be trifled with.

The Cooch deserves a vote Tuesday for his generic fiscal conservatism and judicial activism against ObamaCare, Real ID and those unfairly prosecuted. However, to keep the pressure on Virginia to keep moving in a libertarian direction – including to protect the gun rights of all Americans, to get government completely out of healthcare, to get government out of private behavior and to improve transportation with more local control – withhold support for un-libertarian choices and invest in an “open-minded and open for business” future for Virginia with a vote for Sarvis.

Charles Frohman, from Suffolk and now in Williamsburg, worked in DC politics for 2 decades including Governor Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.  He now directs development for the Our America Initiative, the only national grassroots movement for fiscally responsible activists who also are socially open-minded.  To reach Charles, email CFroh@yahoo.com.

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Picture from Tareq Salahi’s Facebook Page

Guest article by Steven Latimer

On December 19th, I had the opportunity to meet Virginia gubernatorial candidate Tareq Salahi over lunch in downtown Charlottesville.  Salahi is a winery owner and businessman best known for crashing a White House state dinner in November 2009 while his (now former) wife Michaele was on the cast of Real Housewives of D.C.

Having lunch with Tareq and having the chance to quiz a Republican candidate for governor was truly a coincidence and chance meeting: I was casually strolling up and down the Downtown Mall, since I had about an hour to kill before my shift at work was to begin.  I ran into Joe Oddo, who I have known for a few years, and who is chairman of the Independent Green party in Virginia.  (“More trains, less traffic”)  Joe asked me if I’m interested in meeting Tareq Salahi, who was in Charlottesville for the day to be interviewed by the media, and conduct his “listening tour,” and I expressed my interest.

After shaking Tareq’s hand, he asked me what’s on my mind and what my concerns are, and I told him I want the federal government to get off our backs, and we want to pursue our own industry here in Virginia.  Salahi said that he agrees, and said something almost identical earlier in the day, on a morning radio show.

I learned that as part of his listening tour Salahi plans to travel to every place in the commonwealth.  Salahi lives in Warren County, and owns vineyards in Fauquier County.  He adds that we’ve got it made in Virginia because we have beaches, ski resorts, and great wine.

I asked Tareq if he is a self-made man.  He said yes, that every business he has owned he built from the ground up, and that he and his father planted some vines that were previously new to Virginia.  When I asked if “you built it,” a sly reference to what President Obama said in Roanoke, Salahi said yes, he built his business.

Tareq Salahi spoke favorably of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (who suspended his own campaign for governor last month), and does not particularly care for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  Salahi was very critical of the Republican Party of Virginia’s decision to hold a convention rather than a primary because it moves up the deadline for candidates to file to seek the Republican nomination from March or April to January, perhaps reducing the candidate pool.  Salahi feels this is hypocritical, since Cuccinelli supported Virginia law earlier this year when only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified to be on the Virginia presidential primary ballot.

Cuccinelli has sued Salahi for violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, concerning wine tours that were allegedly paid for, but never given, or for which no refund was given.  Salahi accuses the attorney general of “grandstanding,” adding that Cuccinelli views this as another opportunity to get in front of the camera and be seen doing something.

I asked Tareq Salahi if he likes Chris Christie.  After pausing for a few seconds, Salahi told me he likes Governor Christie, the things that he is doing in New Jersey, and that Christie was able to work together with Barack Obama following Hurricane Sandy to help out the people of New Jersey.

I asked Tareq what concerns he has heard from Democrats and independents as he travels Virginia.  And Salahi said that jobs and the economy is the number one issue for Democrats, but women’s issues are a close second.  Salahi said that the ultrasound bill from last year’s General Assembly session could have been handled better, and while he despises abortion, Salahi struck a tone that is somewhere in between pro-life and pro-choice.  I offered to compromise that good people can disagree, but we should agree that government should not be in the business of funding abortion, and Salahi said that is a reasonable compromise.

I am very happy that Salahi expressed his support for industrial hemp.  He does not see a reason why hemp should be illegal.

Unfortunately, Salahi wants to use Virginia government to promote Virginia wines – he says that tax dollars from wines sold help fund the General Assembly, and that tax revenues can go to fund mental health, to prevent atrocities from happening to Virginians, such as the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  I asked Salahi if he feels government promotion of products should be limited to wines.  Should the state government also promote Virginia peanuts?  Tareq Salahi says “absolutely”, because it brings in more revenue for the commonwealth.  I disagree with Salahi.  Helping the private sector do their marketing is not a core function of government, and if Virginia wines and peanuts really are superior, they can stand on their own strengths, without assistance from Richmond.

Tareq Salahi hopes to be in a town near you.

About the Author: Steven C. Latimer is a lifelong Virginian, holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is the Vice-Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia.  He lives and works in Charlottesville. 

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VC Note:  Earlier today, while at a meeting of the Valley Family Forum, I heard this political poem as read by its author, Angie B. Williams of Harrisonburg.  I thought that her message was particularly appropriate as we begin the two-month countdown to the November elections.  Can you imagine what kind of country we would have if every citizen chose to vote, not based upon labels and superficial attributes, but primarily guided by principle, reason, and the dictates of his or her conscience?  I’m pleased to present Mrs. Williams’ poem to you and I hope that you enjoy her work as much as I have.


Vote Your Conscience!

The saying, “All that glitters is not gold,”

Is ne’er more true than in the political bowl.

So when in the voting booth you finally stand,

Poised with pen and ballot in your hand,

Put partisan politics completely aside,

And let your conscience be your guide.

On which issues are you willing to negotiate,

And what compromises are you unwilling to make?

If family, faith, and freedom are your agenda,

Be sure you reflect them in the vote you render.

We must ignore the color of a candidate’s skin,

And consider his character before we begin.

For color of the skin no difference doth make,

But integrity and judgment for the people’s sake.

It’s not party, popularity, or pigmentation,

But who is best suited to lead our nation.

We don’t have to align with our party of the past.

For God holds us accountable for the vote we cast.

Axe the rhetoric, the big talk, and the photo ops,

And judge whose experience will rise to the top.

So before your ballot you mark at last,

Check the candidate’s voting record in the past.

Don’t whine about what difference one vote can make,

Just cast your vote, but never conscience forsake!

© 2012 Angie B. Williams, Harrisonburg, VA. Used with permission.

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Guest Post by Daniel Wilson

With an election rolling around the corner, President Obama is out on the campaign trail touting himself as an economic savior for the homeland. Though, it’s hard to imagine how anybody could possibly run on an economic record as lousy as his own. After all, the majority of Americans still believe the economy is in a recession.

Technically, the recession ended in the second quarter of 2009, but the so-called recovery has been too weak to reverse much of the catastrophic damage done to the average household during the recent economic collapse. For example, since the alleged recovery began real gross domestic product growth has averaged an anemic 2.4 percent, with 1.9 percent for the first quarter of 2012.

Given the depth of the economic contraction from the financial crisis, economists would expect a much larger rebound in growth rates. Historical evidence compiled by many economists, including Milton Friedman, clearly shows that deep economic downturns are followed by rapid expansions. For instance, at this same point in the 1980s recovery following  the deep contraction at the start of the decade, GDP growth averaged a much more robust rate of 6 percent.

What about on the jobs front? The picture remains the same, no real recovery to speak of. True, the private sector has added 4 .3 million jobs over the past 27 months, which is around 160,000 jobs a month. However, that’s hardly enough jobs to keep up with the growth in the labor force and private sector jobs are still 4.5 million below their 2008 peak. Hence, employment statistics continue to remain in the dumps.

For instance, the unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for over 40 consecutive months, the longest since the 1930s. The labor presentation rate has plummeted to multi-decade lows as millions of discouraged workers have stopped looking for work and are no longer part of the official unemployment rate. In fact, if you calculate the unemployment rate using the same labor participation rate held on January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 10.9 percent.

So what’s holding back the economy? John Taylor, a prominent economist from Stanford University, believes the current administration is most to blame through their interventionist economic policies. Taylor argues that the increased regulatory burden of government over the last few years, including but not limited to, Obama care,  Dodd- Frank, an overzealous EPA and NLRB, have stifled business expansion, causing resources to remain idle instead of being used in productive manners that foster job creation. To validate this view, a recent poll done by the Chamber of Commerce found that 74 percent of small businesses say that Obama Care makes it harder for their business to add employees. Another recent poll by Gallup found that the number one problem small businesses face is complying with government regulations. Just since 2008, the amount of federal workers employed in regulatory activities has increased by 20 percent.

Another blatant impediment to a genuine economic recovery is the profligate spending in Washington D.C. The increase in federal outlays since 2008 did not stimulate the economy, but rather sedated it. The more the government spends, the less the private sector can invest.  As Milton Friedman put it, a government taxes what it spends, so spending increases have the real effect of higher tax rates on the private sector. Since governments have no resources of their own, they have to obtain their fundings by robbing the private sector of its capital. That is, when governments spend money, whether through taxing, borrowing, or inflating they displace resources from the productive sector of our economy and squander it on wasteful projects, such as Solyndra.

A recovery built to last must come from the only productive part of our economy, which is the private sector, not the public sector. In order to allow the private economy to fire on all cylinders, producing a recovery strong enough to reverse the damage done from the recent financial meltdown, the federal government must remove its grip on the economy with large-scale cuts in spending and onerous regulations.

Daniel Wilson is a recent graduate of James Madison University and holds a degree in economics.

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VC Note: I’m pleased to present another article by Karen Kwiatkowski.  Like Kwiatkowski, I am not nor have I been in favor of any kind of farm subsides.

Complaints are rampant about the draft 2012 Federal Farm Bill.  Farm subsidy recipients are enraged about proposed cuts, even as the same benefits would flow to them through direct payments and insurance offsets.  Sustainable small farm and local food efforts complain that they are getting short shrift, and corporate agriculture is busily lobbying for its favorite programs.  The 46 million Americans currently enrolled in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Program may see reductions and restrictions, and we hear that starvation looms large.

Everybody wants a piece of the federal agricultural pie.  But no one seems to be questioning why this monster half a trillion dollar piece of taxpayer and debt-funded socialized program is in any way good for this country.

King Corn is eyeing the possible loss of the Renewable Fuels Standard (ethanol) subsidy and seeking to gain compensatory supports for corn.  The environmental lobbies are worried that programs that so many of them administer will be cut.  The public debate between small sustainable food production and massive NPK-based industrial food production is heating up, as our own Joel Salatin debates with the New York Times.

Here are some questions I’d like to ask about the 2012 Farm Bill:

  •        — Didn’t centralized government 5-year plans go out with the 1989 demise of the Soviet Union?   When do we get to try the free market and liberty?
  •        — Why do the lobbyists believe Congress owes them our money?  As Davy Crockett noted, it’s not Congress’ money– it belongs to the people!
  •        —  Can no one envision a future where the government doesn’t pick winners and losers and try to control every aspect of the marketplace?  Corporate aid to big banks is wrong.   But standing tax-funded bailouts and benefits for industrial giants like Monsanto and ADM are all just fine?
  •        —  In an era of nearly $18 Trillion in current federal debt, why are we clamoring for even more redistribution of wealth?
  •        — Can someone explain to me the collusion between USDA, FDA, FBI, IRS and DHS in conducting raids, confiscations and general harassment of small food producers and retailers all over the country?  What part of the budget can we cut to relieve us of this idiocy?

I have a radical idea.  Let’s let farmers grow and raise what makes sense to them, and let consumers buy and consume what they want.  Let’s get the corn syrup, white flour and Monsanto bought-and-paid-for bureaucrats out of policy-making.  Why not put private property rights first for a change?  Is it possible in America to encourage liberty and personal responsibility instead of farmer and consumer dependency on government?

I don’t take or apply for federal or state subsidies for my farm, and I never will.  I don’t think my children and grandchildren can afford it.   And I’m pretty sure yours can’t either.

Karen Kwiatkowski, conservative Mount Jackson cattle farmer and veteran, is challenging Bob Goodlatte in the GOP Primary on June 12, 2012.

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Guest post by Daniel Wilson.

United States gasoline prices are up over 13 percent since the start of the new year, standing at a national average of $3.92 a gallon. On a seasonal basis and in nominal terms, gas prices are the highest ever.

High and escalating gas prices have become a major political issue with numerous politicians and pundits in the media quickly coming to false conclusions on the issue.

One of the most common fallacies perpetrated by politicians on both sides of the aisle is that investors speculating in futures markets cause prices to rise and fluctuate dramatically.

Typically so, politicians have it backwards, speculators actually play a vital and important role in the economy. Speculators make markets more liquid by adding additional buyers and sellers, thus aiding transactions and improving efficiency. Also, speculators actually make markets less volatile. In order for speculators to make money they have to buy low and sell high. Buying at a low price, increases the low price, and selling at a high price, lowers the high price, causing the market price to have a lower variance in the long run.[1]

In addition, a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas demonstrated that speculators didn’t contribute to the run up in oil or gas prices over the last decade.[2]

Another common myth about gas prices is that the big oil companies control and manipulate prices upwards in the name of greed and corporate profits. This myth runs wild within the Democratic party, many of them have recently scolded the oil companies for price-fixing gas and oil to profit at the expense of everybody else. Oil companies control gas prices like grocery stores control cereal prices. Measured by profit margins, oil companies rank 114 out of 225 different industries.[3] Big oil companies, like Exxon Mobil only earn seven cents per gallon of gas. Compare that to the $.50 a gallon excise tax that’s embedded into the price of gas that local and federal governments collect.[4] In other words, governments are collecting seven times more in taxes than oil companies make per gallon of gas. So, the next time you fill up at a gas station, ask yourself, who’s actually greedy, big oil or big government?

One of the most conspicuous causes of higher oil and gas prices, that often goes ignored, is the depreciating value of the U.S. dollar on international exchange markets. People generally accept that individual prices go up or down based on changes in supply and demand. However, they fail to understand that the value of the dollar, in which goods are priced, is also determined by supply and demand. Therefore, when the Federal Reserve system prints excessive amounts of money for misguided political and economic reasons, the supply of US dollars increases, which then reduces the value of the dollar. Over the past 10 years the US dollar has lost 35 percent of its international exchange value. This means that commodities, such as oil, that are sold in international markets denominated in dollars, have to go up in price since the value of the dollar has fallen. To sum this up, when the value of the dollar falls from an increase in its supply, everything priced in dollars becomes more expensive, it’s called inflation.

Measured in Swiss francs, a strong currency, the price of oil has risen to a less extent. For example, since 2010 the price of oil has risen by 15 percent in Swiss francs, but 30 percent in US dollars.[5] Measured in terms of gold, which has historically been used as a monetary unit, oil prices are below their 40 year average.[6] Both of these measurements indicate that a large portion of higher gas prices are due to a falling U.S. dollar.

The Joint Economic Committee released a study showing that just a 10 to 15 percent appreciation in the dollar would lower gas prices by 43 cents.[7]

Politicians should stop wrongfully blaming big oil companies and speculators and worry about the real problem that threatens this country’s economic future and that’s the declining dollar. The resurgence of a strong greenback would lower gas and oil prices more than any other political solution.

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VC note: A Guest Post by Karen Kwiatkowski

In the 6th District of Virginia, we don’t much like government rules and regulations, especially when they don’t pass a common sense test.   The Constitution speaks of our God-given rights to be secure in our persons, property and papers – to live free.  This part of Virginia lives and breathes this valued sense of who we are – citizens always, and subjects to a distant capitol, never.

We tend not to trust politicians.  We tend to understand that the longer these politicians are in office collecting benefits, creating legislative networks, and accumulating personal power, the more we, as Virginians, will suffer.

My recent visit to Highland and Bath Counties dished out plenty of evidence about how Virginians – real Virginians – think and live.  They think independently, and they strive to live free.

While in Highland, I ate local trout and maple pecan pie.  In Bath, I spoke to trout fishermen and gave some of the best bait they were using a smell test.  I saw lots of sheep and lumber mills, and observed maple syrup being boiled down in antique boilers, in the old ways.

The world famous Maple Festival in Highland is about an older way that works.  And in many ways, this region is about old ideas that have stood the test of time.

The people I met in Bath and Highland Counties this past weekend are not the same people I met at Hot Springs at the Republican Advance in early December.  Those politicians visiting the high country, with few exceptions, constitute the political elite in Virginia.  Many of these Republicans were more interested in each other and the power to be gleaned from those relationships than they are in promoting the fundamental and limited role of government.

The Republican Party creed is a good one, especially for those of us living in the upper Shenandoah Valley and in the western mountains of the state.  The creed embraces “fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints” at “all levels of government.” It affirms that the “Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations.”

In other words, on paper, the Republican Party values the freedom to work, to produce, to think, and to speak.  The message is that we have the freedom to take care of our own, and we deserve freedom from government idiocy.

This message is exactly what I heard again and again from veterans and from businessmen, from public servants and retired people in this part of the district.    As a visitor, I was inspired by the geography, the natural beauty and natural resources of this lovely part of Virginia.  As a Republican challenger standing up to the career politician who currently represents the 6th District, I was honored to talk about government and politics with people in this far western part of our district.  As a constitutionalist, a veteran, as a farmer and a lover of liberty, I felt right at home in Highland and Bath Counties.

Karen Kwiatkowski, conservative Mount Jackson cattle farmer and veteran, is challenging Bob Goodlatte in the GOP Primary on June 12, 2012.

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