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Friday, April 30, 2010
Facing Fiscal Crisis Head On: Lessons from New Jersey
By Gretchen Hamel

Ohio has major financial problems. Unemployment is 11 percent.  The state expects a shortfall of nearly $300 million this year and has unfunded pension liabilities of $26 billion. The Governor, legislature, and city councils are struggling to close budget gaps.  What should they do?

There are no easy answers, but policymakers can look to other states for lessons.  In particular, Ohio should pay attention to New Jersey for lessons good and bad.  While Ohio has problems, they are mole hills compared to New Jersey's mountains.  For fiscal year 2011, New Jersey faces a budget deficit of $10.7 billion—that's 36 percent of the previous year's budget (Ohio's current shortfall is about one percent of its total budget).  New Jersey already has the highest tax burden of any state in the nation.  With a per-person state and local tax burden of $6,610, raising taxes simply isn't a realistic option.

How did New Jersey get into this mess?  New Jersey, like every other state, lost tax revenue due to the economic down turn.  Total revenue for 2011 is expected to be 15 percent less (just under $5 billion less) than it was in 2008.

But revenue decline isn't the primary cause of the fiscal crisis: runaway government spending is.  New Jersey state spending increased nearly 60 percent between 2001 and 2008.  And so, even during flush economic times, New Jersey's debt ballooned from $16 billion in 2001 to nearly $52 billion in 2009.  As a result, New Jersey must use $2.5 billion of its budget just to service debt.    

New Jersey's situation is even worse than these numbers suggested.  In addition to the current deficit and explicit debt, New Jersey faces unfunded pension liabilities of $46 billion.  The state's pension crisis is another example of lawmakers' irresponsible spending habits:  liabilities doubled between 1999 and 2008, while the assets grew by little more than a third, leaving a serious financial hole.

New Jersey's new Governor, Chris Christie, has been clear about how he plans to tackle New Jersey's financial problems:  he is cutting spending, and cutting it a lot.  The Governor plans to reduce state expenditures by $10.1 billion in 2011.  He will reduce the number of state jobs; eliminate, streamline, and privatize programs; and root out waste wherever possible.  He will cut education spending—a necessity given that education consumes more than one third of New Jersey's budget—by $820 million.

Not surprisingly, these proposed cuts have created controversy.  The Governor urged teachers to accept a wage freeze, but unions are loath to make these concessions.  Yet this sometimes-ugly political tug-of-war has served an important purpose in educating the public about the budget crisis.

Few voters understood just how generous state worker benefits were until Gov. Christie laid it out:  A retired teacher who, while working, paid a total of $62,000 toward her pension and nothing for full medical coverage will receive $1.4 million in pension benefits and another $215,000 in health care benefits. Is this system really fair to taxpayers who have to foot the bill?

These cuts are just a first step in getting the state's fiscal house in order.  Pension reform must come next.  Christie's budget forgoes more than $3 billion in contribution to the state pension retirement system.  This helps the immediate budget crisis, but exacerbates the long-term problem of unfunded pension liabilities.  

The Governor has already begun the difficult process of reforming the pension system.  Last month he signed laws that modestly scaled back benefits by increasing employee contributions to healthcare, limiting payouts for unused leave time, and eliminating recent benefit increases. More pension reforms are needed and, thankfully, being proposed. 

New Jersey and Ohio aren't alone in facing the uncomfortable task of having to reduce public pension liabilities.  The Manhattan Institute found nationwide all 59 pension funds dedicated to public school teachers face shortfalls, with total unfunded liabilities as high as $933 billion.  With liabilities so high, and taxpayers already stretched so thin, states are going to have to face these pension issues or face financial ruin.

It's too soon to tell what the outcome of this looming crisis will be.  But it’s good governors and state lawmakers are having these conversations.  Ohio voters should encourage straight talk and tough choices from their state officials because, ultimately, it's the citizens who pay the price of government's runaway spending.

Gretchen Hamel is the executive director of Public Notice, a new independent, bipartisan, non-profit organization dedicated to providing facts and insights on the effect public policy has on Americans’ financial well being. For more information please visit www.thepublicnotice.org
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Obama Sends in the Clowns
By J. Matt Barber
 
With a potential political bloodbath looming in November, liberals are understandably desperate. They see it all slipping away and it shows. The grassroots groundswell of opposition to Obama’s neo-Marxist, secular-humanist agenda intensifies daily despite the left’s best efforts to silence dissent.
 
Commensurate with plummeting poll numbers and evaporating public trust, Democrats, media elites and the usual gaggle of left-wing pressure groups have ramped-up the unhinged “right-wing-extremist” twaddle to historically hysterical levels. For those who delight in watching the self-styled “progressive” movement implode, it’s priceless.
 
“How can it be?” they ask. “The stars were aligned.” With Barack Obama in the White House and his egalitarian enablers running Congress, liberals found themselves at ship’s helm on the USS Hopey-Changey, sailing unabated toward the perfect storm of Euro-socialist reform. America’s elite class would, at long last – curse these two-plus centuries of “constitutional” government – be as those erudite Europeans our homespun lefties so pitifully parrot.
 
Oops… something happened on the way to the Communism. Middle America, channeling Dana Carvey’s Bush-one, said: “Nope, not gonna’ do it… wouldn’t be prudent.” According to the latest Pew poll, America’s trust in today’s godless Obama-Pelosi-Reid federal government is at an all time low of 22 percent, little more than a year after Obama took office. 
 
Plan B: Demonize Dissent  
 
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” His words are eerily applicable to the elitist acrimony we see in response to the rapid resurgence of America’s traditionalist zeitgeist.
 
After months of ignoring the burgeoning constitutionalist movement and dismissing it as “Astroturf,” the left hit the panic button. Jig was up. It had become painfully apparent to all that this measured, monotone young president who carried with him such high hopes for so many was, in fact, the radical leftist ideologue those Limbaugh-Hannity-Beck-types had warned of.
 
And so, the mainstream media hit back, latching like pit-bulls to a poodle on iffy reports that Tea Partiers had shouted racist and “homophobic” slurs at black members of Congress and, well, Barney Frank (claims which, as it turns out, were apparently fabricated whole cloth).
 
Conservative pundit Andrew Breitbart offered $100,000 reward to anyone able to provide video or audio of the alleged slurs. Despite scores of television cameras in the immediate vicinity, no one has produced a shred of evidence.
Capitalizing on the media’s deliberate mischaracterization of Tea Party conservatives as racist, inbred seditionists, some despondent Obama supporters then devised a strategy to “crash the Tea Parties.” Throngs of constitutionally challenged, Berkeley-esque short-bussers (you shall know them by their patchouli covered bong pong) infiltrated many of the conspicuously peaceful “Tax Day Tea Parties” with racist and misspelled signs, screaming bigoted and inane slogans in an effort to paint Tea Partiers in a bad light.
 
Again, the strategy backfired with hilarious results as these boorish boobs outed themselves by posting their intentions on the internet in advance of operations. Legitimate Tea Partiers were ready for these “decaf” counterfeits, peacefully surrounding them when they showed up and calling them out in comical fashion.   
 
Conservatives are Domestic Terrorists  
 
Others have taken to the gutter deeper still. Most recently it was Bill Clinton with his lip-bitingly ominous warning that Tea Party conservatives and talk radio will cause another Oklahoma City. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla) issued a scathing statement, calling Clinton’s remarks “unconscionable,” and chided the former president: “This is an over-the-top effort to try to stop a movement of people who aren’t amenable to supporting Obama programs, like cap and trade, government-run health care and closing Gitmo.”
 
And then there’s the Alabama Alinskys. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a hard-left Montgomery-based outfit that claims to “monitor hate groups and racial extremists,” remains the liberal media’s go-to smear merchant. Perhaps more than any other group, the SPLC has overplayed its hand in vilifying opponents of Uncle Sam’s extreme makeover.
 
SPLC director Mark Potok, for instance, compared Tea Partiers to “domestic terrorists,” saying they’re “...shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism,” and are widely linked to “hate” and “vigilante groups.”
 
Filed under “absurd acts of transparent desperation” – the SPLC recently lumped-in with the KKK, neo-Nazis and “potentially violent” militia groups, a list of 40 high profile conservatives – to include three sitting U.S. representatives – who are apparently facilitating sedition (a federal offense). 
 
Among the treasonous “enablers” of the “antigovernment patriot movement” (read: Tea Partiers and pro-life/pro-family Americans) are Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minn); Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex); Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga); Glenn Beck (Fox News host); Judge Andrew Napolitano (Fox News legal analyst); and Joseph Farah (Editor of WorldNetDaily.com).   
 
Seriously, guys? The SPLC would save us all time and energy if it simply released a list of conservative pundits, politicos and organizations that are not on its official “right-wing watch list.”
 
Perhaps the one charge SPLC nailed is that America is currently experiencing a “far-right resurgence” (read: conservative comeback). The good news is that such dishonest smears are causing the SPLC – already hemorrhaging credibility – to just bleed-on-out.
 
Mainstream media, you're on official notice: Continue to cite the activist “analysis” of this discredited gang of kneecappers at your own peril. You risk losing completely, your own already vanishing credibility.
 
I’m sure they’ll get right on that.
 
In the meantime, what these panicked “progressive” pixies fail to understand, is that the more they malign the ever-growing millions of red-blooded, God-fearing Americans who feel compelled to push back against Obama’s weighty radicalism – the more they humiliate and embarrass themselves.
 
The more the left attempts to marginalize our nation’s center-right mainstream with disingenuous charges of “racism,” “homophobia” and “potential violence” – the more it marginalizes itself.
 
 
Still, I say marginalize away. Political self-neutering may just be these frowny clowns’ one true act of patriotism. 
    
Matt Barber is an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. He is author of the book “The Right Hook – From the Ring to the Culture War” and serves as Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel. Send comments to Matt at jmattbarber@comcast.net. (This information is provided for identification purposes only.)
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Thursday, April 15, 2010
Barack Obama: Enemy Within
By J Matt Barber

[W]e will achieve our destiny to be as a shining city on a hill for all mankind to see.
– Ronald Wilson Reagan
Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world.
– George Walker Bush
America does not presume to know what is best for everyone.
– Barack Hussein Obama (Insert deflating balloon effect here.)

We have a president loath to acknowledge American exceptionalism. Indeed, the weight of the evidence suggests that our chief executive, through both word and deed and with malice aforethought, seeks to undermine – if not dismantle – that exceptionalism. At one time we properly called such activity anti-American, seditious or even – under certain circumstances – treasonous. Today we call it "progressive."

Abraham Lincoln – also from the Prairie State – perhaps forecast his presidential progeny when he observed: "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

We are destroying ourselves. Of course, by "we" I mean those egalitarian ideologues who presently control the reins of government: liberals in Congress, President Obama and his stable of cracked czars and policy advisers. Their demonstrated antipathy toward America's uniquely grand place among world nations is unambiguous.

Consider comments made recently by John "forced abortion" Holdren, Obama's science czar, to students at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In a rallying cry that could only be mustered by a true patriot, Holdren proclaimed: "[America] can't expect to be number one in everything indefinitely." (Self-fulfilling prophecy, anyone? Go team! That'll sure fire 'em-up before they hit the field.)
 
But what's most outrageous is the demonstrable reality that Obama's legislative agenda is intentionally designed to do just that – to ensure that America devolves to the lowest common denominator, lining-up as but another "also-ran" in today's neo-Marxist, internationalist horse race.

In addition to his humiliating world apology tour, the president recently gave us a sneak peek into this egalitarian mindset while preaching to the choir at his April 12 Nuclear Security Summit: "Whether we like it or not, we (the United States) remain a dominant military superpower," he said.

"Whether we like it or not"? That Obama would even preface recognition of America's precarious role as the "last remaining superpower" with "like it or not" betrays his fixed membership among the camp of self-loathing "or nots."

I've been reluctant to climb aboard the "Obama wants to destroy America" conspiracy train. I'm no longer reticent to do so. As Newt Gingrich recently observed, we know this administration to be "far and away the most radical administration in American history."

Although he may not seek to destroy America outright, we can only conclude – based upon his grossly irrational and irresponsible governance – that Obama remains determined to destroy America both as we know her and as our Founding Fathers intended her.

It's our own fault, really (by "our" I mean "you" if you voted for him). We should have taken this radical ideologue at his radical word.

Remember? During his Inaugural Address, Obama promised to "begin again the work of remaking America." That's "remake" America, not "improve" America or even "reform" America. It has always been this man's "hope" to "change" our nation by wiping clean the slate – "remaking" an America in his own secular-humanist, neo-Marxist self-image.

And that's exactly what he's doing. Obama has embarked upon the most brazen, slash-and-burn socialist restructuring scheme in our nation's history. This president is many things, but he's not stupid. He knows full well that his massive government takeover of health care, coupled with his global warmist "cap-and-trade" tax scheme – and his broader tax-and-spend-during-deep-recession game of economic Russian roulette – are undeniably unsustainable.

Not only will these policies bring down the private insurance industry (part of the plan), they will – if let stand – bring down the whole of private industry, crashing our entire free-market system (again, part of the plan).

It's already happening. AT&T, Verizon, Deere and Caterpillar are but the first among an anticipated cavalcade of major corporations expecting to suffer a multi-billion dollar bloodbath at the hands of Obamacare – merely one of the president's radically sweeping, game-changing initiatives. (Congratulations, Mr. President.) As every good Marxist knows – to include the "man-child president" (as dubbed by Rush Limbaugh) – it's all unsustainable. Scary thing is: It'll work if they're not stopped at the ballot box come November.

As reported by FoxNews.com: "'The future of the economic might of this nation is at stake,' Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way bluntly observes.

 "President Obama's budget forecast for the next decade (grossly underestimated) projects an additional $10 trillion in deficit spending, more than doubling the current national debt to a staggering $20 trillion.

"The gloomy forecast leads some analysts like former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin to suggest our economy is headed for a cliff.

"'This looks like Thelma and Louise to me. I mean, you know, there's the Grand Canyon and we're going to hit the accelerator. Why? You should hit the brake and then turn the car around."
But Thelma and Louise never intended to turn the car around.
 
Neither does Barack Obama.

There's no other way to say it. As goes the war to preserve liberty, national sovereignty, national solvency and American exceptionalism: Intelligence suggests we have an enemy within.
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Standing on Principle
By Harris Sherline

Everyone I know admires people who stand on principle when they are making important decisions. However, there are times when common sense dictates that we compromise. 
 
It’s possible to be so intractable in matters of principle that people can be willing to “go down with the ship” when they are clearly wrong. This is the situation with environmental purists, who are largely responsible for preventing us from drilling for oil.
 
That both the federal government and the state of California are broke is beyond dispute. The numbers vary from various sources at various times, but there is no question that California is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. And, for purposes of this commentary, it doesn’t really matter who’s at fault. In addition, Santa Barbara County, where I happen to live, is also broke. Perhaps not teetering on the brink of bankruptcy at the moment, although I suppose that could be a possibility at some point, but certainly with a budget that’s upside down and that promises to get worse.
 
Most people have focused on budget cutting as the solution. The budget hearings by the Santa Barbara county board of supervisors included a parade of department heads testifying to the plight that deep budget cuts would produce: closing facilities, terminating employees, reducing services to the public, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum.
 
In a June 16, 2009 Daily Sound article, “Board of Stupes,” Loretta Redd commented: “Here in Santa Barbara County, our Board members all but genuflected when expressing support for public safety. But when budget restoration dollars were handed out, a jaw-droppingly stupid preference of tax money, led by the nacent Doreen Farr, went to the Department of Planning and Development over that of the District Attorney… Not only was Planning and Development allocated a restoration to its $17.36 million operating budget; it was given $443,000 when assistant department chief John Baker had only requested $275,000!...Maybe code enforcement of fluorescent lightbulbs or improperly installed sprinkler systems is more important than having adequate legal protection for the entire County…Maybe the weather here is so nice that residents and tourists throughout Santa Barbara county just aren’t bothered by punks loitering and fighting, drunks urinating in public, from State Street to Isla Vista, or folks driving under the influence, writing bad checks in Lompoc, or shoplifting in Santa Maria, or domestic violence in Vandenberg Village.”
 
So, what’s the solution to the financial mess in California and Santa Barbara County? 
Stretched near to the breaking point financially, there is an answer: oil. 
 
I know “oil” is a dirty word to the environmental crowd, and my purpose here is not to argue the case, other than to point out that intractable opposition to any drilling, anywhere, anytime, forever, may be OK for those who can afford to be a purist. But, it strikes me that it borders on irrational when public safety, schools and social services are being jeopardized for lack of funding.
 
Two situations illustrate the point:
 
Tranquillion Ridge Project (off Lompoc): “The Governor's proposal would ensure that four oil platforms, which would otherwise remain off the coast of Santa Barbara indefinitely and two oil processing facilities, will be permanently removed in 14 years and bring $1.8 billion in new revenue to the state over the same period. If approved, the proposal will result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the protection of nearly 4,000 acres of significant lands in Santa Barbara County.” (News Blaze, June 2, 2009).
 
Offshore Drilling: The Heritage Foundation Morning Bell (July 24, 2008) noted: “The left’s campaign against oil development is well known. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), liberals in Congress are preventing an estimated 19.1 billion barrels of oil from being developed in our Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and another 10.4 billion barrels from being developed out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)...While liberals in Congress are forcing less oil production at home, the world is busy drilling at every opportunity. Brazil, whose beautiful beaches rival or surpass anything in California or Florida, recently discovered a huge underwater oil field and is moving quickly to …drilling. In Asia, China and Japan were able to put aside centuries of mistrust to come to an agreement on how to drill and share oil in waters between their countries.”
 
To continue blocking new drilling in the continental United States and offshore when we are stretched financially without any relief in sight strikes me as more than foolish, especially at a time when we are close to financial collapse at almost every level of government.
 
© 2010 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The Face of Hate
By J. Matt Barber
 
“Progressives” are like pig farmers. In an effort to bury opposing viewpoints they sling pejorative slop, labeling as “bigot,” “hater,” “wingnut” or “racist” those with whom they disagree. It’s the height of intellectual sloth.
 
The ad hominem approach – chief among logical fallacies – undergirds an effort to both marginalize conservative viewpoints and avoid arguing on the merits the controversies of the day. For liberals, to set sail in fair debate is to navigate treacherous waters.
 
We’ve seen this tired tactic abused ad nauseum in recent days by the mainstream media and Democrats. Aided by hard-left outfits such as the Southern Poverty Law Center – all too eager to provide “expert analysis” tailor-made for jaundiced journalism – liberal elites have been desperate to throw poison on bourgeoning grassroots opposition to Obama’s careening Marxist agenda. It’s straight out of the “progressive” playbook: Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” 
 
Hence, in the face of zero supporting evidence, “Tea Party” conservatives, Constitutionalists, pro-life and pro-family Americans, and generally any patriot who disagrees with the Obama administration are smeared with “hate’s” broad brush.  
 
Grandma and Grandpa; your fireman neighbor; school teachers; pastors; butchers; bakers; and candlestick makers are now “potentially violent right-wing extremists.” They are, as Mark Potok, Huffington Post columnist and SPLC director puts it: “…shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism,” and are widely linked to “hate” and “vigilante groups.” (Knock it off, Mark. With the exception of your fellow moveon.org-types, the vast majority of Americans aren’t biting.)
 
Nonetheless, every once in a while, as it goes, “even a blind squirrel finds a nut.” While I rarely agree with the Mark Potoks of the world, today, on at least one issue, I find myself doing so. Cult leader Fred Phelps and his Westboro brood of “God hates F-gs” fame are infused to the marrow with pure, unadulterated hate.
 
Phelps hates homosexuals. He hates the military. He hates America. He apparently hates everyone. But he also hurts people. Intentionally, I believe. 
 
Phelps contends that every time a U.S. soldier dies in combat its God’s judgment for our nation’s affirmation of homosexual sin. Best known for disrupting military funerals, Phelps is – and was – a lot of things: He’s a former Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate; he was an Al Gore fundraiser for the ex-Veep’s 1988 presidential run; he’s a self-styled “Baptist minister;” and he’s a buffoon. 
 
But one man decided to fight back. As reported by the AP: “Albert Snyder of York, Pa., is suing [Phelps’] church that picketed the funeral of his son, who died in a vehicle accident in Iraq. The Westboro Baptist Church contends U.S. military deaths are God’s punishment for tolerance of homosexuality. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
“The appeals court ordered Snyder to pay $16,510 in court costs to Westboro and its pastor, Fred Phelps. Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly has pledged to donate that amount. An American Legion spokesman says the veterans’ group has collected more than $12,000 in donations. People can also donate directly to Snyder on a Web site in his son's name.” (To donate go to www.mathewsnyder.org).
Indeed, Phelps and his incestuous band of Dale Carnegie rejects represent hate personified. Rather than taking the biblical “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach to sexual immorality, these false prophets preach counterfeit Christianity, devoid of the faith’s core tenet: redemption. 
 
They labor under the misconception that, somehow, they are exempt from the Gospel’s central “judge not lest ye be judged” provision. “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’” Romans 3:10.
 
I pray that Phelps and Co. will both repent and seek Christ’s redemption for the harm they’ve caused people like the Snyders. I also pray that liberals will repent. By lumping together with Phelps those who recognize traditional, biblical sexual morality, homosexual activists and the left-wing media trivialize true hate.
 
Indeed, many Americans – perhaps most – adhere to the biblical notion that all sexual conduct outside the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman is sexually immoral. (Sorry liberals, that’s just the way it is; nothing personal. Despite disingenuous bleatings to the contrary, such beliefs are typically as far removed from hate as Phelps is from cuddly. Every major world religion, thousands of years of history and uncompromising human biology hold this to be true. And as with all absolute truth, it just is.) 
 
So, Fred Phelps aside, every time you hear some lefty like Anderson Cooper or Keith Olbermann despicably refer to Bible-believing Christians as “homophobes,” or who call grandma a “teabagger” (slang for a vile homosexual act), consider who the real haters are.
 
Whenever Mark Potok, Rachel Maddow or some liberal politico in Congress attempts to equate conservative Joe to a “right wing extremists” or a “domestic terrorist,” contemplate who the true bigots are.
 
The palpable irony is that leftists – with their slanderous name-calling, harsh judgments and ad hominem attacks – are, in truth, more like Phelps than those they falsely accuse.    
 
Progress demands a vigorous, open and honest debate. “Progressives” should quit the empty name calling and stop running-scared from true progress.
 
Matt Barber is an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. He is author of the book “The Right Hook – From the Ring to the Culture War” and serves as Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel. Send comments to Matt at jmattbarber@comcast.net. (This information is provided for identification purposes only.)
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Thursday, April 1, 2010
All-purpose rally to address issues
By Andy Caldwell

Two weeks from today, I hope you will join me to protest against Obamacare, a program that threatens to bankrupt our nation.

A worse fate than bankruptcy is actually what I think about when I consider this legislation. The health bill is unconstitutional, and as bad as that is, there is something even more troubling about it.

That has to do with the fact that this health-care plan has been thrust upon us, against our will, by the likes of congressional Rep. Lois Capps.

I understand that people can agree to disagree on an issue, but one thing we had better all agree on is that our government is founded upon a principle of the consent of the governed. This principle goes to the heart of why our nation was founded in the first place, to escape the tyranny of government in the lives of the citizenry.

Every single poll on health care indicates Barack Obama and Congress acted contrary to and without our consent in passing this health-care legislation. And that, my friend, is something to protest.

I invite you to join me for a TEA Party Rally on April 15 at 5:30 p.m. that will be held one block off of Betteravia at Bradley Road, across from the Cross Roads Shopping Center. We are going to take our protest to the streets, as the rally will actually be held at the intersection of Bradley and Auto Plaza Drive, the road that runs between Toyota and Honda of Santa Maria.

We are closing the street to facilitate our protest. I hope you will be there. In the event of rain, we will meet at the Santa Maria Fairpark.

In addition to health care, other issues that need our attention include the growing movement seeking to pressure our government into passing an amnesty bill. I am all for a guest-worker program, but I am dead-set against amnesty.

Too many law-abiding people have been dutifully waiting to get into this country legally for us to grant amnesty to those who entered otherwise.

Another pressing issue has to do with our current state and county budget deficits.
 
Something has to give. One concept I have been seeking to convey in recent speaking engagements is that the same policies that protected our communities from being overrun with growth in the boom years are now preventing our economy from recovering in this bust period.

At our TEA Party last year, which attracted about 2,000 people, we addressed the job-killer bill, AB 32,  Arnold’s Global Warming Act and the diesel-engine rules.

Well, these job killers are still lurking out there, and we need people to show up and learn about a ballot initiative that will roll back the regulations, at least until our economy recovers. These rules will decimate what is left of our manufacturing, industrial, transportation and farming sectors of the economy.

Furthermore, they will subject us to rolling blackouts and skyrocketing energy costs. If the taxes don’t get us, the regulations and junk science will.

Another topic for our consideration has to do with the ability of politicians to deal with the pension crisis as it affects government workers, when these same politicians have taken huge campaign contributions from the same.

Members of our local Board of Supervisors have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the same unions they bargain with during salary negotiations. Talk about a special interest.

Finally, we will focus on the ridiculous rules affecting water that could obliterate agriculture on the Central Coast.

Please, mark your calendar.
 
Andy Caldwell is executive director of COLAB and a 42-year resident of the Central Coast. For contact information visit www.colabsbc.org
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