FIX IT NOW!

FIX IT NOW!

After the horrific school shooting in Florida, Democrats and their allies in the media rushed to exploit the grief of children, blaming gun owners and the National Rifle Association (NRA). This tragedy was not caused by the millions of people who legally own guns for self-defense, nor was it caused by the NRA. But one cause is glaringly obvious: the background check system is full of holes.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was established in a 1993 law that forbids certain people from buying a gun: those convicted of a felony, addicted to drugs, or with a history of domestic violence or involuntary commitment to a mental institution. Gun buyers must pass the background check before lawfully buying a gun, but any computer database is only as good as the information put into it. The system has been in place since 1998 with the support of the NRA. Gun owners and the NRA have complained about the gaps in NICS for years, to no avail.

The monster who killed nine churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015 passed NICS because the FBI failed to discover that he had confessed to drug possession, which would have disqualified him.

The Virginia Tech killer passed two NICS background checks, even though a judge had found him to be a danger to himself and others. He was ordered by the court to get treatment, but his name wasn’t entered in the NICS database.

Prior to Nicholas Cruz killing 17 in Florida, sheriff’s deputies visited his home 39 times to quell domestic disputes. Cruz reportedly had a history of mental health problems, and school officials sounded the alarm about him for years. The FBI was warned about him, as were Broward County deputies, but they did nothing. He should, at the very least, have been unable to buy a gun.

In 2010, 80,000 prospective gun buyers were caught lying to the FBI to illegally buy a firearm, yet only 44 were prosecuted. This is a felony punishable by five years’ imprisonment and fines. Why hasn’t the DOJ cracked down on this? In addition, seven million felons have been left off the NICS database, and 38 states submit less than 80% of their felony convictions to the FBI.

Meanwhile, more that two million mental health records are missing from NICS. States have been slow to provide records, as have the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Defense.

The gun didn’t do it. Nor did the NRA. Mass murderers have free reign because the government that Democrats swear will protect us fails on every level, starting with the NICS. Its shortcomings have existed for as long as Chuck Schumer has been in office. Why haven’t our lawmakers insisted it be fixed?

There are many lessons to be learned here. First, Democrats will use any tragedy, and its victims, for political gain. Second, you can’t trust the government to protect you. The same people who seek to disarm us, powerful lawmakers like Schumer and Pelosi, have done nothing to fix the deeply flawed Instacheck system in the past twenty years. Think of that. They’re too incompetent or too indifferent to protect you, but they don’t want you to protect yourself.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

 

MONOPOLY

MONOPOLY

We used to think that concentrated monopoly power was bad for business, bad for competition and really bad for consumers. The point of monopolies is to eliminate all competition and to fix prices, maximizing profit for the monopoly owners. Merriam Webster defines a monopoly as “exclusive ownership through legal privilege…exclusive possession or control…a commodity controlled by one party.” To prevent monopolistic practices like price-fixing and restraint of trade we passed several antitrust laws, the first of which was the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Its aim was to promote competition, leading to lower prices, better products and services and greater consumer choice, keeping free markets free. Having a monopoly and making a handsome profit was fine, as long as businesses did it by besting their competition.

Now cast your mind to health care, and change the word profit to power. Instead of the filthy-rich monopoly man lighting his big cigars with $50 bills, you have politicians greedy for power and seeking to acquire even more – the power to decide who suffers and who is healed, all to make us beholden to them. This is the essence of so-called single-payer health care. Make no mistake, power is what politicians crave, and they wield it with the same casual ease that we give to changing our socks.

If enacted, single-payer would be the single biggest monopolistic concentration of power in the history of the United States. In its many iterations, single-payer health care is authoritarian (directed from a central authority) and is the very definition of a monopoly (total control over the vast array of products and services that make up health care.) Consider that any single-payer system must control the manufacture of prostheses, drugs, imaging devices, doctors, hospitals and, of course, prices.

Bernie Sanders, the avowed socialist from Vermont, has a plan which outlaws all private insurance – it’s BernieCare or nothing. He wants the secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a “national health budget.” But what happens when a surgical procedure for a painful condition nudges just over the “national health budget?” Oops, sorry – no care for you, madam, and no relief for your pain.

Bernie says we spend too much on health care. Canada spends less per person, he says. But Canadians wait 10 weeks for a referral to a gynecologist, 38 weeks for any kind of joint surgery and 47 weeks for neurosurgery. Why do Canadians wait in pain? Because their government tells them they must.

There is more bad news from the fantasyland that is single-payer health care. The Veterans Administration has been hiring doctors who have had their licenses revoked by their state licensing boards. This is the reality of any government-run system: you don’t get the best, you get who they give you, competent or not.

A review of the NHS (the National Health Service, UK’s government agency in charge of health care) found that NHS cannot meet the growing demands for services. It has gotten so bad that the NHS has been paying people with spare bedrooms to take post-surgical patients into their homes to ease the overcrowding in NHS hospitals.

A recent UK Independent headline blared, “NHS extends suspension of all non-urgent care as doctors warn of winter crisis.” As a result, the NHS “deferred” 55,000 operations. An operation deferred means suffering continued.

The whole point of antitrust legislation outlawing monopolies was to promote competition and provide better service to consumers. A monopoly made by building a better mousetrap comes about through competition and is earned. Single-payer would fall upon us by the exercise of raw political power and the unshakeable belief by elites that they are smarter and more compassionate than we are. It doesn’t matter who has the monopoly, concentrated power is a bad thing.

Monopoly is a game. People pretend to be landowners or railroad barons. A government health care monopoly is no game. Senator John Sherman, author of the law that bears his name, said, “If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and the sale of any necessaries of life.” The title of the autocrat does not matter: Your Highness, Senator, Secretary or Madam President. Because single-payer is a tyranny disguised as compassion. And we, as a free people, deserve better.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

 

ZERO GROWTH TAX CUTS

ZERO GROWTH TAX CUT

I’ll bet you didn’t know that some New Yorkers are getting a tax cut, which was actually passed a year ago. But it’s not like the economy super-charging tax cuts passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law by President Trump. Upstate New York’s decades-long trend of out-migration (first in the nation) won’t change. The upstate economy will not reverse its decades-long decline. The budget for 2017 included the biggest (delayed) personal income tax cut since the 1990’s, which should be a cause for celebration, but sadly isn’t. Tax cuts are supposed to unleash buoyant optimism, what economists call Animal Spirits, the breath that awakens the human mind to limitless potential and possibility. New Yorkers aren’t talking about these tax cuts because the cuts are puny, and they take seven years fully phase in. Those who designed the cuts in this way are economic illiterates.

Here are the details. If you make between $42,750 and $321,050 your taxes will decrease a tiny fraction – .12% per year from 2018 to 2025, where the tax rate finally lands at 5.5%. But only if your income falls in that range. No other brackets see a cut. The least affluent and the most affluent New Yorkers remain strangled by the highest taxes in the nation. With their earned money captured by the rapacious New York State government, they have less to invest, save and spend as they see fit.

Freedom is a finite thing: either you have it or you don’t. When it comes to your money, New York State is in charge. When your money is controlled by the government, it will not generate growth, prosperity and jobs. After all, who is best able to decide how, what and where to spend your money, a distant government bureaucrat in Albany or you yourself? I’ll go with you every time.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

Who’s Pillaging You?

Governor Cuomo is very angry at Republicans in Washington for cutting taxes on most Americans but limiting the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) to a mere $10,000. He ranted to Alysyn Camerota on CNN: “What the Senate was saying was because we have no senators from the blue states, we don’t care, so let’s pillage the blue to give to the red.” Oh really? Our two Senators from deeply blue New York are both Democrats and like Cuomo, they love high taxes and big government. Democrats own New York state. They have a 2:1 advantage in voter registration. They’ve held every statewide office for 11 years.

Our taxes are 27% higher than the national average, and the highest in the nation. We have high cigarette taxes, alcohol taxes, gasoline taxes, natural gas taxes, electricity taxes, home heating oil taxes, you name it. We have onerous state mandates imposed on upstate by Albany that drive our property taxes through the roof. In Steuben County 90% of our county taxes go to pay for these mandates. In Chemung County it’s 100%. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s true, and it’s crippling us here in upstate New York. Not surprisingly, we are near or at the bottom of measures of personal freedom and business climate. Who proposed these taxes and who voted for them? Democrats like Cuomo, who’s been in office since 2011.

Cuomo crows about his puny middle-class tax cuts, a 1.35% reduction phased in over 7 years to cushion the blow – to whom? The government? Meanwhile, the latest census data peal like a funeral bell for New York. In 2017 New York led the nation in lost population- 190,000 people left. Since 2010 we have lost a million people, another first in the nation. In 2011, 1.3 people left for every one person who moved in. In 2016, the awful trend accelerated to 1.6 leaving for every one who moved in. We’re also aging. Our under-18 population fell 3.9% from 2016 to 2017. All of this well before the tax reform passed by Congressional Republicans.

Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” This is Cuomo’s dilemma. Instead of lowering taxes, he’s scheming to change them to payroll taxes or sham charitable contributions to grab all of your money that he can.

Here’s a suggestion for Cuomo: why not allow taxpayers to deduct their property, sales and other state taxes on our state income tax returns. If Cuomo truly reveres the SALT deduction, he should get right on board. Meanwhile, maybe he could stop whining about a situation that he and his party created in the first place.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

Reply to Mr. F.

Every attack by a progressive is an opportunity to persuade with facts and logic. Recently, I wrote an article about the House and Senate tax cut plans. I posted it on my Facebook page and on my blogsite. The Elmira Star-Gazette ran it on Sunday, December the 9th. It drew a rebuttal from Michael Fitzgerald, a writer from the Finger Lakes Times, who commented: “Quoting Calvin Coolidge-considering what happened in the year following his presidency (1929) is a poor choice to support any argument in favor of a poorly drafted, almost incomprehensible tax bill passed by the House and Senate. Perhaps use Herbert Hoover instead.”

Fitzgerald implies that the Coolidge tax cuts led to the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed, which is untrue. First, tax cuts do not lead to depressions. After taking office following President Harding’s death in 1923, Coolidge (like Harding) cut taxes throughout his term of five years. Mr. Fitzgerald implies that suddenly, Coolidge cut taxes and the Great Depression fell on us like an avalanche a year after he left office. If tax cuts were responsible for the Great Depression, then why didn’t the Kennedy tax cuts in the 1960’s and the Reagan cuts of the 1980’s cause depressions? They did not. They led to wide and deep prosperity, just like the Coolidge tax cuts of the 1920’s.

To Mr. Fitzgerald’s second point, “perhaps use Herbert Hoover instead,” I would never use Hoover, because his policies were essentially FDR’s.

Hoover raised taxes, raised tariffs and increased government spending. Hoover-Roosevelt policies failed to pull us out of a recession and turned it into The Great Depression. The Harding-Coolidge administration cured the depression of 1920, which was as deep and painful as the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s treasury Henry Morganthau testified before Congress on May 5th 1939. The New Deal was in its’ 7th year. Morganthau said:

We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started And an enormous debt to boot!”

Why do Progressives attack when Republicans cut taxes? First, every religion has a creation myth. And so it is with Progressives and the Democrat Party: it’s that Roosevelt’s policies worked, and that a few so-called smart people can grow the economy by spending taxpayer dollars. But the myth must be preserved, because it burnishes the concept of central planning. Second, it must really annoy the Democrat Party that someone other than them can be Santa Claus. Al Smith, a Democrat stalwart of the 1920’s, said of FDR, “no one shoots Santa Claus,” referring to FDR’s plan, and that of every Democrat since: buy votes with taxpayer dollars. Only they can be Santa. But this betrays something deeper and more sinister. They believe they own all that we earn, and they “give” us what they think we need. Tax cuts at the margins create growth, and this puts to the lie all that they believe.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

DON’T FORGET SILENT CAL

A wise man once said that if you don’t learn from history you’re doomed to repeat it. Yet that’s exactly what the Republican House and Senate are about to do with their respective tax reform packages, which may not produce the robust growth they promise to deliver.

There is much to support in both versions: lowering the corporate tax, increasing the standard deduction and increasing the child tax credit, to name a few. But what both plans fail to do is to substantially cut marginal tax rates for the highest earners. We should fully protect private property rights, even those of our most well-off citizens. I can hear the lamentations of the left already: that’s a giveaway to the rich! Ah no, we’re not giving them anything: it was their money to begin with, because they earned it.

There are practical reasons for proposing tax cuts for high earners. High earners can put more money at risk, because they can afford to lose it. Therefore, they risk their money to make more money, in ventures that employ thousands and create opportunities for regular folks where none existed before. They create jobs.

History has proven that tax cuts for high earners expand opportunity for all. Way back in 1925, President Coolidge said, “The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost for the government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager.” Translation: every day people worked to pay their taxes was a day they didn’t work for themselves and their families.

Coolidge cut taxes on the top earners form 73% to 24%. Everyone else’s taxes were also cut. The result? By the end of Coolidge’s term, 98% of Americans paid NO income taxes. The rich paid it all. Per capita income increased by 30%. Unemployment averaged 3.3%. Gross National Product, a measure of economic growth, grew at a faster rate than ever in US history. The roaring 20’s roared because of the Coolidge tax cuts.

Conservatives must always teach why their ideas will work, because they have worked, and other institutions (academia and the news media) will not say it.

Republicans have surrendered two important principles out of abject fear of criticism: one, no matter what your income level, your earnings are your property. Two, tax cuts for all creates prosperity, as proven by the Coolidge, Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts in the 1920’s, 1960’s and 1980’s.