DHS: Requiring suspicion before conducting searches “harmful”

Operating under rules put in place by George W. Bush in 2008, the Department of Homeland Security has assumed the authority to search people’s electronic devices close to our nation’s borders.  This means cell phones, cameras and computers can be confiscated and searched by the DHS, without cause, without suspicion and without any warrant – completely removing 4th amendment rights from everyone in the area. Continue reading

Cato: Detroit’s failure lies in big government, bad choices

111149Not a week after Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, left-leaning pundits and big government believers hit the ground running, blaming “free trade” for its failures in the case of Michigan’s former Governor Jennifer Granholm, or “market forces” from the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, or simply “small government” from MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry.

For nearly 50 years Detroit has been led by Democrats, and its failure lies solely on its own failed policies, government bureaucracy and a slew of unfunded liabilities, writes the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner.

Unfunded liabilities cost the city dearly.  Almost ALL of the city’s healthcare obligations are unfunded.  Pension programs city-wide paid out far more than what they took in, and have for nearly 8 years.  Unfunded liabilities account for half of the city’s $18 billion debt.

Nearly 1 in 15 Detroit residents work for the city, draining the city of more than a third of its revenue to pay the salaries of its workforce.  “Legacy obligations, which include pension contributions and benefit payments, take an additional 39 percent of revenue. That leaves little to invest in the failing infrastructure,” wrote Tanner.

The city spends more than $14,000 on each student, annually, in the city’s education system, even though city students are notorious for low test scores in national proficiency tests.  In 2009, the city recorded its lowest scores ever.

As a result of this spending, Detroit’s city income tax is the highest in the state and leaves businesses shouldering a undue burden of tax obligations.  Understanding the reality of economics and the laws of human nature, Tanner wrote: “The income tax burden on residents is significantly higher than that for those who live in the surrounding area, which helps drive more affluent and successful residents out of the city.”

“A few years ago, the nonpartisan Bay Area Center for Voting Research rated Detroit as the most liberal city in America. The city’s own choices, not free markets and limited government, are really responsible for Detroit’s failure.”

In 5-4 decision, Supreme Court rules DOMA unconstitutional

In a sharply divided and much anticipated case, the highest court in the land ruled that the Defense of Marriage act – a piece of legislation that defines marriage as a “heterosexual union” –  is unconstitutional because it denies same-sex couples government benefits that heterosexual couples already enjoy.

12 states have now amended their own statues to allow for same sex marriage, and coupled with the Supreme Court ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, our nation is finally on its path of protecting equal rights among all of its law-abiding citizens regardless of sexual orientation.

More, from Bloomberg.

We don’t have to sacrifice our liberties for security

I wish I could say I was shocked at the reports the NSA is secretly spying on the private phone calls of millions of Verizon customers. However, this is a predictable result of a government that continues to erode our liberties while promising some glimmering hope of security.

The Fourth Amendment is clear; it says we should be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects, and that all warrants must have probable cause.

I opposed and continue to oppose the Patriot Act because I believe it throws the Fourth Amendment right out the window. It is certainly not patriotic to support warrantless wiretaps, blanket ‘metadata’ collection, and spying on innocent American citizens.

Unfortunately, what is worse than the reports, is knowing that politicians of both parties will continue to defend this practice as necessary to supposedly keep us ‘safe’. We do not have to sacrifice our liberties for security. At times like this, the question must be asked, ‘if we are willing to change our way of life and our very definition of freedom while tolerating the invasive searches at our airports and now of our phone calls, have the terrorists already won?