Thursday, April 26, 2007

Column for April 26, 2007

Tell the ACLU to "Shove it!"

The American Civil Liberties Union. Now there is an oxymoron if I ever heard one. The organization is certainly not "American", nor does it stand for civil liberties. If anything, it exists to destroy such liberties and replace them with more governmental regulation and usurpation of freedom.

For those of you who did not read last week's "Selma News", there was a front page article on the ACLU wanting the Town of Selma to immediately cease opening the town council meetings with "sectarian prayer". I suppose they want one of three things; pray in the name of nobody in particular, have prayer represented by each religion possibly represented in this nation, or no prayer at all.

I find it absurd that denying a tradition and spiritual act that has been a foundation of this nation is somehow forbidden by the very documents of that foundation. That would be like someone proving from The Bible that Jesus forbade the worship of God. I know that some denominations do that very thing concerning spiritual gifts, but that is another topic for another day.

The ACLU is not about civil liberties. It is about money and power. The modus operandi of that organization is to sue towns, counties, states, and the federal government, to allegedly rectify some wrong. Basically, the ACLU has found a way to extort money out of government coffers, meaning us taxpayers, under the guise of representing a tiny fraction of the populace who are somehow being denied civil liberties by the rest of us enjoying and employing our own liberties. The ACLU then collects money for legal fees from local governments for waging their evil war on these same governments. Our tax dollars are paying for the erosion of our own civil liberties by a group claiming to protect them. In addition, the ACLU gets a lot of money from liberal, secularist, God hating groups of people.

To extrapolate an opening prayer at a local town or county government meeting into a violation of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" is ludicrous. First, a town or county (the ACLU has sued Forsyth County for this very thing) is not Congress. The amendment pertains to acts of Congress, not states, counties, or municipalities. Second, the original intent of the writers of that amendment and the entire Constitution is crystal clear for those willing to accept it. The "founding fathers" wrote more than just that one document. They wrote quite a bit in newspapers, essays, letters, and the like, as well.

Benjamin Franklin was arguably one of the more secular individuals in the group of founders. He signed the Declaration of Independence, signed the Constitution, and was a Governor of Pennsylvania. He wrote, "I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more clergy of the city be requested to officiate in that service." Does that sound like he wanted there to be no prayer before a meeting of Congress? Only a twisted, perverted view of First Amendment interpretation can lead to the belief that the amendment means exactly the opposite of what it says. We could have a long discussion about Supreme Court rulings and original intent regarding "separation of church and state". However, that will take more space than I have in my little column, so contact me if you want more information on that topic.

The ACLU claims that they received a complaint by an individual. I declare that this individual should be named publicly along with the date of the complaint, and the exact nature of said complaint. If an individual has a problem with how the town handles its affairs, the first place to turn is to the town for a redress of grievances rather than to some secularizing group that intends to relieve the vast majority of our rights. This catering to the small minority paradigm is pure stupidity. Quite honestly, anyone who believes in the ACLU's mission, tactics, and method of funding is, in my opinion, intellectually dishonest at best.

It is my hope that the town council here in Selma will, as other towns and counties have done, stand and defend its rights and those of its citizens. There are plenty of resources and organizations that are willing to join this fight. Forsyth County has decided to fight this battle, and The Alliance Defense Fund has stepped up to the plate on their behalf. Some battles are just worth fighting, and this is one of them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Column for April 19, 2007

A proclamation for the bond referendum

You may or may not see this one reported in the news. The Selma Town Council meeting last week got most of the attention by the media and potential new residents focused on the vote to annex five tracts of land into the town limits. That is appropriate, considering the volatile situation created by that very act.

Following the vote to annex, most of the crowd left the council chambers and did not stay for the remainder of the meeting. I did, since I already live within the town limits and am not personally being annexed. I personally want to find out all that my town is doing. Open meetings are one cornerstone of our republic.

One act by the town council that you may not know about is the passing of a resolution to support the upcoming bond referendum on May 8th. You may have read my previous column on that same topic, seen the billboards around the county, and heard about it in the media.

I don't know who paid for the billboards touting bond support, but I will be greatly unhappy if it was done with our own tax dollars. Our government has no business using such expense and propaganda for its own bond agenda. That should be left up to concerned citizens on both sides of the issue.

I was a bit dismayed that the proclamation to support the bond referenda was not read in open session in the town council meeting, so only those on the town council, in town government, and the media were given the content of the proclamation. I had to ask for a copy, and was graciously accommodated by Fran Davis, the Selma Town Clerk. Thank you, Ms. Davis. I am thankful for public access laws.

I did some rewriting of the proclamation, as I believe it should be written.

WHEREAS, the majority of the burden for paying taxes in Johnston County is unfairly borne by property owners, many of whom do not have children in public schools; and

WHEREAS, the school system already gets millions of dollars in financial support from the county, the state, and the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the school system population is growing as a direct result of the influx of illegal immigrants that are already given government benefits, and education not necessarily available to long term or native residents; and

WHEREAS, there are charter schools in this state that thrive with creative means of utilizing facilities for their academic institutions; and

WHEREAS, many of these same charter schools are able to finance new school construction without the benefit of the additional monies supplied to the public schools for school construction, which is the reason for the aforementioned school bond; and

WHEREAS, the public schools have a lower level of academic achievement today than any time in documented history of academics in this nation; and

WHEREAS, the very innovators of the concept of smaller class are the ones who are currently abandoning that concept as flawed, expensive, and non-productive; and

WHEREAS, the government has already indentured the taxpayers of this county, municipality, state, and nation with a high level of indebtedness far greater than at any time in history; and

WHEREAS, government construction and administration projects are notoriously inefficient and great wastes of taxpayer monies; and

WHEREAS, neither the Johnston County School System nor Johnston Community College have demonstrated sufficient efforts so as to ensure the utmost in stewardship and efficiency with existing taxpayer monies; and

WHEREAS, the taxpayers of this state have already been swindled by inefficient government initiatives such as "Smart Start" and "More at Four"; and

WHEREAS, private and home schools have, in general, been demonstrated to surpass the education quality of our public schools; and

WHEREAS, there is no freedom of choice as to where parents may send their children in the public school system, thereby creating competition in education thereby boosting academic performance; and

WHEREAS, recreational facilities are a nice thing to have for the county and municipalities but are not necessities thereof; and

WHEREAS, there are far more important things to spend taxpayer monies upon than recreation facilities such as infrastructure improvements;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Town of Selma encourages the county's voters to defeat the education and recreation facilities bond referendum scheduled for May 8, 2007.

Yeah, like that would ever happen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Engage brain before dialing phone

Here is a voice mail comment from someone who obviously didn't seem to get at all what I wrote in my latest LaPlante's Rants column. For some reason, it sounds like she thinks I wrote negatively regarding the use of the term "Blacks", when I actually wrote that it was disrespectful for the authors of the NC Senate bill and media articles to have used the spelling "blacks". I personally find it disrespectful to not capitalize a proper noun when referring to an entire group of people. This lady obviously did not read and comprehend prior to dialing.


Column for April 12, 2007

Should NC apologize for slavery?

Would you apologize for something you did not do? How many times does an institution have to make amends for previous wrongs? Is the answer just once or ad infinitum? When it comes to the issue of slavery and racial oppression, apparently the answer is ad infinitum. Fayetteville Democrat, Senator Tony Rand is a sponsor of 86 different bills in the Senate this session. The one that has garnered the most attention is S1557, a joint resolution to formally apologize for the institution of slavery by the State of North Carolina.

The bill says, "Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring:The General Assembly issues its apology for the practice of slavery in North Carolina and expresses its profound contrition for the official acts that sanctioned and perpetuated the denial of basic human rights and dignity to fellow humans." In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with recognizing the past wrongs of a governmental organization. I do take issue with the contrition aspect in this bill, however. I find it to be more of a political pandering than anything contrite.

Unless my math is very wrong, the Civil War ended 142 years or so ago. The 13th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (1865 and 1870) rectified the previously acceptable practice of slavery, as originally incorporated into the 1787 document. During that war, 360,000 Union soldiers died to help with the cause of abolition.

Make no mistake, the war was not anywhere near totally about abolition. It is more about slavery than many Southerners preach and far less so than many Yankees teach. Having lived in both the North and the South, I have heard both versions of history. After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, abolition officially became a war goal. The proclamation itself freed nobody. The warfare to back it up freed millions.

Before you think that slavery was totally a racial issue, keep in mind that a good many slave owners were Black themselves. The Cherokee also owned many Black slaves. Many American Indians were sold into slavery and exported in the 1600's. Many Africans sold other Africans into slavery for importation to the North American continent.

I find it ironic that the main sponsors of a formal apology coming 150 years too late are Democrats, although the bill has passed the Senate with bi-partisan support. The Democrats are the ones who opposed abolition in the South and wanted to leave the topic alone in the North. The Republican Party began in the 1850's as an abolitionist party. The Democrats were the ones who supported Jim Crow laws. They are now the same party that tries to keep people in economic and social slavery, yet currently attract the very people to whom they are attempting to apologize.

Bringing up the issue of slavery today merely picks at a scab to reopen a sore wound. Sure, we should teach history, but teach it accurately. The good, the bad, and the ugly should all be taught as history for all to learn thereby. However, to dredge up the same topic to no real benefit is not a productive use of our time, our legislature, resources, or money.

I don't know about you, but I don't think that there are any people alive today that were under the bondage of slavery in this nation. Nor are there any people alive who perpetrated this gross injustice. Other than a "warm fuzzy to sooth the conscience", what does the apology do? Essentially, just waste time and money. The best apology is to encourage with social and economic freedom and to treat all with dignity, respect, and love.

Speaking of respect, in reading the Senate bill and most newspaper articles, slaves and their descendants are referred to as "blacks". It is not that this is a disrespectful term, but I noticed that not once did the bill's author or the media have sufficient respect to capitalize the word, since it refers to an entire race of people. I come from a French family, not a french family. Similarly, there should be enough respect for those to whom the bill's author believes an apology is due to at least capitalize the term "Blacks". Perhaps that is just my opinion, but I sure feel that it is accurate. For a free hour long monologue on this topic, contact me.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Column for April 5, 2007

When is enough, enough?

One battle cry during the American Revolutionary period was "No taxation without representation". Sometimes, I wonder if it is any better in America today than it was with no representation. All I have to do is to read the newspaper, the internet, or listen to news casts to just plain get annoyed. I sometimes feel almost numb to the constant assault upon the American taxpayer. I realize that the key is to be vigilant rather than to tune things out, but it sure isn't easy.

Just recently, we have seen proposals to annex property that is actually a form of taxation with promised future representation. There are bills before the U.S. Congress that fail to renew tax cuts that were only temporary. Here in North Carolina, there are proposals to continue in the tax raising mode. Our state representatives are also in the mode of increasing governmental control over the serfs of this state. For instance, did you know that there is a proposal to make you pay for and install two license plates on your automobile? There are all sorts of reasons for making this happen, none are sufficient to convince me of the need or justify the imposition and cost to the people who pay the bills in this state.

Does any thinking individual actually think that we are not taxed sufficiently in this state or nation to perform all facets of the purpose of government? Even at the county or town level? If we can find areas in which to actually cut spending at the town level, we can certainly find areas of waste, fraud, abuse, and unnecessary expenditure at each larger level of government. However, that is not sufficient for the insatiable appetite of government control.

One bill in particular, State Senate bill S1201, will put a 1% sales tax (though some call it a real estate transfer tax to soften the blow of its actual function) on people who sell their real estate. The idea is that the home seller will be responsible for coughing up 1% of the sales price of their property and handing it over to some bureaucrat. Of course, we all know that the government knows how to better spend your hard earned money than you do.

If that bill becomes law, you can kiss a good amount of home equity that you worked your tail off to build and call it your contribution...nay, your duty to serve your already bloated government. But this insidious bill does not stop there. Not only will this bill hurt you when you sell your home by taking away some of the money you would be putting towards your new home, it will do the same to hit you hard on your next car purchase.

The same bill would raise the sales tax on automobiles, more than doubling it. Yup, I can think of no better way than to make use of more of my money by giving it to some bloated bureaucracy. I mean, it is better used in the hands of a tremendously inefficient governmental operation than in paying down the debt of a new car loan, right?

Could the mindset that brought us this bill get any worse? Yes it could. The bill goes on to remove the deduction of the cost of the old car you want to trade in for your new car from the cost of your taxation. That means that not only are you going to pay double the tax on a new car, if this bill is passed, you are going to pay the tax on the entire retail of that same automobile, even though you are not paying the full price and are giving up your existing property in the deal.

The money grubbing attitude of government is enough to make one weary. How much more can we take of this? The paradigm that brought us the idea of constant taxing and spending is prolific in most all levels of government, but is certainly proportionate to the amount of taxpayers from which the money is forcibly extracted. The real sad thing about S1201 is that the tax hikes are to help replenish the highway trust fund, which was pillaged by the same state government, and that fund was never repaid, even when there was a huge surplus in revenue last year.

I used to be optimistic that we could stop or at least lessen the financial rape of the taxpayer, but I become less so as time goes by.