Thursday, February 26, 2009

Column for Feb. 26, 2009

A few weeks ago, this newspaper ran a poll on its web site asking if readers knew anyone who lost their job. I voted in the affirmative in that poll, since I have known several such people. As a matter of fact, in my own household we had a recent job loss with which we are having to contend. My employer has laid off a lot of people in another state to consolidate its operations into North Carolina. My father-in-law got laid off after some 35 years or more with the same employer.

I understand cut backs. I have been the victim of them my own self, and on more than one occasion. I have no problem with people who have been displaced getting a "hand up" when they are down. There is a system designed for that very circumstance. I know first hand that there are people on both sides of the employment balance, both employee and employer alike, that abuse that system. I have even been served with a summons twice to appear before the Employment Security Commission to testify on the behalf of a wronged employee as well as one time for an employer that terminated an employee in a just manner. For every abuse story, however, there are many more honest stories.

Whenever I personally lost a job, I personally chose not to file for unemployment benefits but rather searched for work quickly, secured it even if it was a situation of serious underemployment, and kept going with life. It is never a fun thing. As I said, that was a personal choice.

According to the United States Department of Labor's web site, "In general, the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own (as determined under State law), and meet other eligibility requirements of State law. Unemployment insurance payments (benefits) are intended to provide temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers who meet the requirements of State law." In general, as the feds put it, I don't have a problem with temporary assistance for workers who find themselves suddenly unemployed and did not become so as a result of disciplinary action or of their own volition. In our current economy, there are plenty of people finding themselves in this circumstance.

My dear sweet wife and I were married in October of last year. In July of this year, we are expecting our first child together, a honeymoon baby. My wife has lived in Harnett County all of her life. That is, until we made the big commitment. She has had two jobs in her entire life. One was as a waitress and subsequently a wait staff supervisor, then for the Harnett County government. The department for which she worked made use of her talents for over a dozen years. Unfortunately, politics have their way of playing out in the office, not just during election season.

Under state law, an elected official, specifically, a Register of Deeds or a county Sheriff can hire and fire at will. Under law, such employees "serve at the pleasure" of the elected official. That means that they do not have to abide by state or county labor laws and procedures. If the local sheriff does not like the color of the car you drive to work, he can get rid of you at his whim. The official can set obscure policies such as the requirement for all departmental employees to reside within the county, even if there is no such requirement by the county Human Resources or even county law. Hey, even the County Manager for Harnett County does not live in Harnett County.

Just so my readers who are suffering through hard economic ties and feel wronged will know, my wife and I are right there with you. My wife was let go from her job in January with a letter explaining that her departmental head was exercising her state law supported right to let her go because she was reorganizing the department, and gave the reason for her selection that she has a personal policy that all employees of her department must reside in the county and she moved to Selma when we married. Never mind the fact that my wife was always at work earlier than employees who reside withing a mile or two of the office and knows every job in that department, she had to go. Furthermore, other office employees also reside in other counties. In reality, she was terminated because she is pregnant and the leadership did not want to deal with an employee being out on Family and Medical Leave Act provisions. The "piece de resistance" is the county fighting the claim for unemployment benefits, so we still have to contend with over one third of our family income being instantly removed by the whim of a petty dictator. If you really want to have fun ladies, try being a woman who is over four months pregnant and diligently seeking new employment.

With the mistakes being made by our federal government right now with the handling of our economy, bail outs, and the incredibly wasteful non-stimulus spending, we are all going to feel the hurt. My 401(k) is now a 200.5(k). My income has been slashed, and I will soon have another mouth to feed. Take heart my fellow citizens. You are not alone. And even more importantly, no matter what happens, God is still on his throne.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Column for Feb. 19, 2009

Congratulations, my fellow Americans. The United States government now has more debt than the entire annual gross domestic product of the entire world combined.

I was asked to give Obama a chance. When I declared that he is a socialist and was going to bankrupt America, I was told that I was just plain unfair. With the non-stimulus bill that is going to be law, we just mortgaged the future of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Many have dubbed the so-called stimulus bill the "porkulus" bill, and rightfully so. Even the Congressional Budget Office has declared that the stimulus spending effects on job growth will be miniscule.

With so many business concerns being taken over or even funded by the government, I have actually seen some fools cheer. Just this weekend, I was part of an internet discussion. One poor, misguided soul named Hannah was heralding the end of capitalism with the non-stimulus bill. She said, "Hurray! The end of capitalism! Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains! Off with the chains of capitalism and then we will have real freedom."
The sad thing is that she meant it. She declared that the election of Barack Hussein Obama was a mandate for a change of the type of government, saying that those who cleave to the Constitution are "outmoded". Of course there was the obligatory liberal twaddle of blaming George Bush for war spending and any other leftist nonsense she could muster with her diminished thought processing ability.

To the concept of blaming Bush for war spending and the so called mandate I said, "The "war debt" combined for the past decade is dwarfed by the liberal spending of the non-stimulus spending about to hit. Do you consider the Constitution to be "outmoded"? If that founding document is outmoded, then I will be happy to be considered such, as well."
Apparently, to those who must have failed civics class in school, if you do not support democracy, then you are an imbecile. I am told that accepting Obama's policies are merely the end result of democracy in action, regardless of the Constitution or the evils of socialism.
I want to make this point clear. The United States is not now nor has it ever has been a democracy. This nation is a representative republic. My five year old is learning to recite The Pledge of Allegiance, which has the phrase "...and to the republic for which it stands". I shall ensure that he understands what that means. Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution states "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government". There is a huge difference between a republic and a democracy. In reading the notes on the Constitutional Convention of 1787, it is clear that the founding fathers abhorred democracy.

It is impossible to be a true patriot and be a liberal at the same time. Ironically, I find that liberals often defend their characterizations of the Bush/Reagan/Bush era as patriotic. I personally have a lot of criticism for the Bushes as well as some of Reagan's policies. However, my criticisms are based upon an established standard rather than irrational, erroneous representations of an impossible Utopian society. This one woman actually called herself a "liberal patriot". One can not be a patriot and be antithetical to the very foundation of your nation and its core values.

I find it ironic that many liberals bash capitalism, big business, and the quest for profit while at the same time laud socialism, big government, and the quest for monetary control over its subjects. With all of its inherent flaws, mainly because of the sinful nature of man, capitalism is the best system of economics for all of mankind.

Capitalism has brought this nation from being a developing nation to being an economic powerhouse in the world. It has caused a fraction of the world's population to be the innovators in business and modern society. We have developed technology faster and advanced science further than any other nation on the planet as a result of pursuing financial gain as a reward.

No other nation on earth is more generous to charitable organizations, builds more hospitals, has built a better health care system, brought wealth to more people, or financed the spread of the Gospel more than the United States. All of this was made possible by the positive benefits of capitalism.

The national debt with which we are now saddled as well as the increasingly unconstitutional spending and governmental control now threaten to totally destroy the greatest republic in human history. Watch for resistance movements emerge as more and more states rediscover the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Column for Feb. 12, 2009

Once again, an "I told you so". This time about local ordinances and tyranny

People scoffed when I wrote that local planning and zoning ordinances can be used for control and can be a form of tyranny. Here are two more examples of usurpation of power and freedom.

By the time this column is published, the Town Council will have most likely taken a vote on whether to apply its ordinance on abandoned, nuisance, and junked motor vehicles to the ETJ, or extra-territorial jurisdiction. The proposal by the town is to allow the code enforcement officer to take an ordinance specifically intended for application within the city limits and extend the authority to cover into the ETJ, which is not within the town limits.

An ETJ exists for the sole purpose of planning growth outside the town's corporate limits to accommodate orderly future growth of the town. I personally disagree with the existence of an ETJ, since it amounts to regulation without representation. There is a violation of being governed without the consent of the governed or the benefit of services of the governing agency.

Selma wants to take an ordinance designed to be about motor vehicles and traffic and apply it to people who do not live within Selma. Junk cars have nothing to do with systematic planning for future growth of a town. Don't get me wrong, I hate to see junk cars in driveways and on properties here in town or outside of town as much as anyone. However, I have a fundamental problem with the idea of taking a law designed to be enforced within the town limits and apply it outside of our corporate limits. If we can do that with the junk cars provision, why do we not find a way to enforce the town's speed limits, parking, fire prevention, and livestock possession laws on people who do not even live within our town, as well?

Can you see how this is "letting the camel stick its nose into the tent"? Let's clean up our own act here in town before even thinking about telling people who do not even live within the town to clean up theirs. Let's not enforce what is in effect a parking and storage law outside of the town's limits.

A second issue came up recently and hit my best friend. My buddy, Dave, lives way out in the country in northern Johnston County. It takes me almost thirty minutes to get there from my house in Selma. He moved to the middle of nowhere on purpose.

One day, Dave came home to find a violation notice on his door. A busy body code enforcement officer for Johnston County went on to his private property on a private road to complain about the fact that he has three campers and a lot of cars on his land.

Every one of the cars is registered. Two of the campers are response vehicles for emergency communications. One is owned by the Johnston County REACT Team, one is for the NC Emergency Reserves and has been used in hurricane response efforts by several agencies. One camper is a private RV. Two of the vehicles in question are registered to the State of North Carolina, and after the state abandoned its constitutional militia efforts, several former members have been left with the burden of upkeep and storage of its vehicles.

Dave takes no services from the county, such as water, sewer, electricity, etc. He had a county inspector on his property when he had his house built and the utility hook up for his campers installed and approved. He has met the requirements for keeping vehicles on his property registered. Yet a meddling inspector felt compelled to show up to a private residence on a private road in the middle of nowhere to extend a hand of power onto someone's private country acreage. He even used Google Earth type satellite photos from a few years ago as evidence for coming onto private property.

The fact is that there have been no complaints by any neighbors or passers by. This is the hand of over-reaching government. It is funny that I pass by dozens of junked cars, dilapidated buildings, old signs that probably violate the county sign ordinance, and properties that were once construction sites but are now illegally abandoned to get to Dave's house. The inspector would have to drive past the same things in order to get there.

Why can we not just leave people alone when they are out in their own remote personal paradise? Some people move to the country to escape such problems only to find some eager beaver intruding on their freedoms already approved by previous inspectors. Yes, local ordinances can just as easily be used as a form of oppression as can state or federal laws. I told you so.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Column for Feb. 5, 2009

Come on, let me hear a great big Amen, my brothers and sisters!

The Triangle area made history of its own for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The Triangle viewing area had the highest ratings and number of viewers in the entire country for the inauguration ceremony. Of course most of us were snowed in that day, so it allowed us the opportunity to watch television more than most of the country. Make no mistake that regardless of your opinion of the man, the inauguration of Barack Obama as President was indeed an historic occasion.

I watched the ceremony, along with my wife and mother-in-law. My five year old, for some reason, could not have cared less and played with his toys, instead. Immediately following the inauguration ceremony, I published an observation with some commentary on the internet that I felt that the closing benediction by a black minister was patently racist in nature. In a day and time when the inauguration of a (half) black President was supposed to signal a healing in race relations, I found it in bad taste, bad judgment, and inappropriate for a man to pray in the name of my Lord and Savior and indict an entire race of people, namely Caucasians, with an insult. I could not believe the amount of comments I got from around the country and around the world. Literally thousands of people read my commentary on an obscure web site and skewered me over my observation and assertion. My commentary is nothing new and has been pretty much written here in the past. But because I had the audacity to take note that the comment was racism (as have many others, as I later found out from reading news reports after I had already made my commentary) and stand by my comments, I was ridiculed, written about, scoffed, and insulted.

The "reverend" Joseph Lowery is a prominent black minister from Alabama, was active in the civil rights movement (for which I give full support), and has spoken at such events as the funeral for Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, he has also been outspoken in support of supposed civil rights for sodomites and supports civil unions. Joseph Lowery delivered the benediction, and gave the following quote which even made Barack Obama visibly annoyed.

"Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen."

The underlying assertion is that whites do not embrace the things that are right and oppress the other ethnic groups so mentioned. Sure, the line is catchy and is a line from an old Blues song, or so I read. However, how can anyone seriously expect to be taken seriously as an advocate for racial harmony, reconciliation, or parity when making hateful remarks in front of millions of people in attendance and many more millions on television that only serve to "pick at the scab" of bigotry? I found the comment to be racist in nature and entirely inappropriate, and I called it as such.

Not only did I get comments from people who are rabid left wing Obama supporters, I also got comments from people claiming to be Native American, black, and Caucasian who also found the comment to be inflammatory and inappropriate for the same reason. I was amused when I was told that I was narrow minded and was a racist for pointing out racism. Hey, I point out racism by "whitey", too, and did so on the same internet page. I got comments from people who whether as a sick joke or just to stir the pot that were extremely racist, full of hate, or were ethnic jokes. I deleted a good many comments that I found either patently offensive, just plain wrong, or not germane to the topic at hand. Of course by deleting comments, I was then accused of censorship and not honoring First Amendment rights. Since the First Amendment only applies to government actions, not mine, I slough off such criticisms.

The bottom line is this, as I wrote on the internet. The comment was "just wrong and in itself racist. I despise racism, and I do not care from whence it comes." If people truly expect to be treated with total parity and accepted as equals in society, then they need to stop fanning the flames of racial hatred with such attitudes and remarks. Now, can you say Amen?