Net Neutrality: Why should you care?

•October 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Net neutrality is a shortened name for the Internet Freedom Preservation Act.  It was introduced and sponsored by Senators Dorgan (D-ND) and Snowe (R-ME) in 2007.  The bill was co-sponsored by Democrat Sens. John Kerry (MA), Barbara Boxer (CA), Tom Harkin (IA), Patrick Leahy (VT), Hillary Clinton (NY) and Barack Obama (IL).

The goal of the legislation was to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from giving preferential treatment to content, applications or services over another.

Senator Dorgan touted the bill by saying, “Without a federal mandate for ‘net neutrality, broadband providers could be gatekeepers capable of deciding which content can get through to consumers, and which content providers could get special deals, faster speeds and better access to the consumer.”

Senator Snowe stated that the bill “marks another step toward ensuring the fate of the Internet lies in the hands of its users and not the hands of a few gatekeepers.”

In that same year, 2007, an amended version of the net neutrality bill passed in Maine.  The first state in the nation to pass such a bill.  Maine’s Office of the Public Advocate monitored activity on the federal and state levels for reporting back to the Legislature’s Utilities Committee by February 1, 2007.

Later in 2007, Congressional Democrats tried to attach the bill to a larger communications reform bill that modified national video franchising rules.  The effort failed.

Fast forward to 2009.  The bill now shows up as an FCC proposal that would also apply to wireless internet.  AT&T, Comcast and others oppose the bill because it would allow the federal government to tell them how to handle data and traffic on their own networks.

This is why you should care
In essence, the government would micromanage internet traffic.  They would be able to prioritize the content, applications and services you receive on the internet.

The Congressional Democrats’ want to classify the internet as a utility in order to accommodate the FCC’s desired regulations.  However, the internet should not be considered a utility because of the complexity of the delivery of it & the amount of engagement necessary.

For instance, water & electricity are utilities.  It does not take much to partake of water except a cup.  For electricity, it only requires possibly a light bulb and a lamp.  However, to engage in the internet requires software (e.g., operating system) and the creating and posting of content.

If the FCC gets its way, the federal government will determine which internet content you see & don’t see.

Remember the definition of “propoganda”?

References & resources:

Dems push net neutrality
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117957029.html?categoryid=18&cs=1

Net neutrality bill wins final OK in Senate
http://news.mainetoday.com/updates/012835.html

US as traffic cop in web fight
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125329467451823485.html

Blackburn: Net neutrality is fairness doctrine for the internet
http://thehill.com/blogs//hillicon-valley/605-technology/63875-blackburn-net-neutrality-is-qfairness-doctrine-for-the-internetq

FCC votes to begin crafting net neutrality rules
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9BG8MT00&show_article=1


FCC loses key ruling on internet neutrality
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/FCC-loses-key-ruling-on-apf-78990100.html?x=0

Ignorance is no excuse

•October 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“We have to pass the bill to know what is in it.” These were the words uttered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the debate on ObamaCare.  Unfortunately, this appears to be the line of thinking of some of the most powerful people in federal government. In this case, administration heads prefer to criticize Arizona’s SB1070 (http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070s.pdf) without reading it.

PJ Crowley of the State Department has not read the bill. (Video)

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/05/18/video-the-state-department-hasnt-read-the-az-bill-either/

Attorney General Eric Holder has not read the bill.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/13/holder-hasnt-read-ariz-law-he-criticized/

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has not read the bill. (Video)

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/05/17/napolitano_admits_she_hasnt_read_arizona_law_but_says_she_wouldnt_sign_it.html

President Obama has not read the bill.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/05/19/john-lott-arizona-immigration-law-read-obama-calderon-holder-napolitano-crowley/

Through a wave of US Senate hearings, Sunday news show appearances and  various interviews, the American people are getting opinions from those ignorant of what they oppose.  Attorney General Holder states he “is going by what he’s read in newspapers or seen on television.”  Secretary Napolitano knows that she “wouldn’t sign it.”  They posit that the bill encourages discrimination, racial profiling and that the police indiscriminately seizes people off the streets for no reason.

The line of logic used by the most powerful people in government is: I have not read what I don’t agree with but I know I don’t agree with it and these are the reasons why…

The statement to the American people is: We don’t respect you enough to become informed about the information we share with the public.

We don’t have that problem in Georgia.  As legislators, we take our responsibilities very seriously and realize that more government and higher taxes place a burden on your daily lives.  As your representative, it is my duty to read the legislation.

Enter the Georgia House Republican Study Committee.

During the most recent legislative session, the Committee met each morning at 8:30am to read and discuss legislation that made it out of the House committees and to the consideration calendar.  We debated the bills, explored intended and unintended consequences of its passage and explored other implications of the bills passage.

After the debate, we score the legislation against conservative principles of smaller government, lower taxes, liberty & justice, proper role of government and individual responsibility.  Those bills that do not promote conservative principles are scored lower.

On the House Floor, if a legislator votes in favor of a bill that has scored lower, he must return to the committee to explain the reason s/he voted in favor of the legislation.

Each representative has the freedom to vote how s/he desires on the legislation.  The committee does not hamper that responsibility.  The committee does; however, want the legislator to be aware of the implications of his/her vote.

While our federal officials prefer to take their legislative cues and opinions from television and newspapers, I prefer to actually read the legislation, discuss it and balance it against conservative principles.

Election season

•October 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Due to this economy and the policies of the Obama administration, everyone knows someone that has either lost their job or their home if it has not already happened to them directly. The government takeover of the auto industry, health insurance and, potentially, Wall St. has stunned America but we are not destroyed.

Georgia and the country are in a state of upheaval. With upheaval comes transition and with transition comes opportunity.  As a nation, we can either raise our voices and fight to return this country to our constitutional principles or we can be lulled into the abyss of more government control.

Elections have consequences. As a nation, we understand this now more than ever.

This November there are races for everything from school board to commissioner to governor.  Each person that you elect to represent you has the potential to impact your everyday life. They will tell you which schools your children can attend, whether or not you will have a sidewalk in your neighborhood, what you can or cannot do while in your car and how much money you have to spend on your family.

As you stand in the voting booth and cast your ballot for the many candidates seeking to represent your interests, answer the questions:

  • What are those values that are non-negotiables for me and my family?
  • Where can I make an impact to ensure those values are maintained?
  • Who has the life experiences and wisdom to help me preserve those values?
  • When am I going to act on those values I hold dear?
  • How do I want my story to end about my actions today?
  • Why would I not take a stand?

Remove the noise of the campaign season. Focus on those ideals that will make you and your family stronger. Resolve to vote your values.

Myths and Facts of the Illegal Immigration Debate

•October 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The illegal immigration debate is gearing up again.  As the bill gets closer to a congressional vote, the debate will become progressively heated.  During the discourse, you will hear facts and fiction about illegal immigration and what it means to you.  To head this off at the pass, here are some myths and facts about illegal immigration.

Myth #1:

Immigrants need comprehensive immigration reform

Fact:

Immigrant vs. illegal alien

An immigrant is a person who is granted the right to live permanently in the US.  An immigrant has completed the process to become a citizen of the US.  An alien is defined as a person in a country who is not a citizen of that country.  An illegal alien is a person who is in a country who is not a citizen of the country and is there against the immigration laws.

Immigrants do not need comprehensive immigration reform (amnesty) because they have followed the immigration laws and process. On the other hand, illegal aliens need amnesty because they want to avoid the punishment associated with illegally entering the US.

Amnesty was granted to approximately 3 million illegal aliens in 1986.  Today, there are 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the United States.  To reward illegal aliens with the very thing they broke the law to obtain, only encourages more illegal immigration.

Myth #2:

Most illegal aliens are not criminals, they are just coming to the US to find a job & work hard

Fact:

Illegal aliens have crossed our borders or overstayed their visas against our immigration laws;  each person is a criminal and this is their first crime.

In a trial run of the 287(g) program in February 2009, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s office flagged over 900 inmates for deportation who were charged with the following offenses & this is just a sampling: murder (13), armed robbery (28), felony drug offense (154), DUI (48), kidnapping (11), battery (15), rape (15), child molestation (23).

What about the work situation & jobs Americans won’t do?

According to a forum sponsored by Kennesaw State University featuring Vicente Fox, Mexico’s unemployment rate is 7%.  The unemployment rate in the US is over 9.7%.  It is not logical to leave a place with lower unemployment to illegally arrive in one of higher unemployment.  Companies that hire illegal aliens are in violation of employment laws.  Illegal employment harms low-skilled, low-wage workers of all races but Blacks and native-born Hispanics are affected disproportionately.  When raids occur, poor and low-skilled Americans fill those jobs formerly held by illegal workers.

Myth #3:

The struggle of illegal aliens struggle is comparable to the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.  Illegal immigration is a civil rights issue.

Fact:

Civil rights are reserved for the citizens of a nation.  In the 1953, the Supreme Court found that “The Bill of Rights is a futile authority for the alien seeking admission for the first time to these shores.  But once an alien lawfully enters and resides in this country, he becomes invested with the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all people within our borders.” (Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding).  The illegal aliens have come here to the US to demand something that does not belong to them. They chose to leave a place where they had civil rights to a place where they have none.  By the way, it is not racist to desire enforcement of the US immigration laws.  One more point, illegal is not a race.

I’ll close with a statement from the late Barbara Jordan (D-TX) who was the first African-American Congresswoman elected from the deep South, a law professor, a recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and the Bill Clinton-appointed chairwoman of the Commission on Immigration Reform in 1995. Ms. Jordan stated what it would take gain credibility on immigration policy: “Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave…It is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.”

References & additional information:

Testimony of Barbara Jordan (3/29/1995) before the House Committee on Appropriations and others:http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/uscir/032995.html

US Commission on Immigration Reform Recommendations: http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecentersa781 & Full report: http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/uscir/

The Dustin Inman Society: www.TheDustinInmanSociety.org

NumbersUSA: www.NumbersUSA.com

Center for Immigration Studies (CIS): www.CIS.org

FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform): www.FAIRUS.org

Back doors and word games

•October 18, 2010 • 1 Comment

Napoleon Bonaparte stated, “We often get in quicker by the back door than by the front.”  This did not only work for politicians in the 1800s but works for politicians in 2010.

See, calling something a tax would mean going through the front door.  There would be yells of opposition, chants of no new taxes and tax reform organizations coraling their members to march on the Capitol steps.  Legislators are hip to that game.  Well, now.  How will they accomplish the same task with less noise?  License fees.  So, while you are barracading the front door to keep taxes out, legislators are sneaking into your unlocked back door, climbing up the stairs stealing the savings jars, destroying the piggy banks and taking the safe out of the house.  While the door is barracaded, go upstairs to see that you have been robbed yet again.

This spring, House members will return to their districts pounding their chests and speaking triumphantly of how they did not raise taxes; how noble.  When your friends go to the district townhall meetings, tell them to mention HB1055 and HB307 to their Representatives.

HB1055 imposes new or increased license fees on those in the agriculture industry, pesticide companies, timber businesses, etc.; it also increases the fees for prestige license plates. Another highlight of the bill is that it will charge constituents $320 to lobby their legislators.  Currently, it only costs $20 and that is just for the picture badge to freely access the Capitol.  In this entire 70-page bill, there are only 7 pages that do not mention new fees (taxes), increased fees (taxes) or how to allocate those fees (taxes).

HB307 assesses a 1.45% fee (tax) against the hospital’s net patient revenue.  In other words, the profit that a hospital makes will be levied an additional 1.45% tax every three months.  Oops, provider payment every three months!  The hospital is the provider and the payment is going to the Department of Community Health (yet another government agency).  This bill takes yet more money from the private sector to prop up a public sector agency.

It is well known that any increase in a business’s costs will be transferred to the consumer in the form of higher prices.  So, if you want to avoid the increased costs as a result of HB1055 & HB307, don’t eat and don’t get sick.

Both bills signify more regulation which means the government seeks to confiscate more money from businesses.  It also means more impediments to conducting business in Georgia and fewer jobs for Georgia residents.

Reference & more information:

HB1055: Summary: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/sum/hb1055.htm & Full text:http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/fulltext/hb1055.htm

HB1055: Voting record: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/votes/hv0755.htm

HB307: Summary: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/sum/hb307.htm & Full text:http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/fulltext/hb307.htm

HB307: Voting record: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/votes/hv0760.htm

The People Have Spoken: No new taxes!

•October 18, 2010 • 1 Comment

These have been the chants of protestors from April 15, 2009 to Monday, March 8, 2010 and beyond.  Taxpayers from the steps of the Capitol in DC to the steps of our Georgia Capitol rail against being encumbered with rising taxes because politicians are unable to curb their appetite for spending.  Often, in lieu of decreased spending, governments raise taxes.  But the people have spoken and they are screaming, “No more!”

“The burden of debt is as destructive to freedom as subjugation by conquest.”  This is the 27th Principle of Freedom as explained by the book The 5000 Year Leap. To be indebted to another is to give your power to that entity.

Well-run businesses understand this concept.  Other corporations “too big to fail” are rapidly learning what it means to get government bailouts.  AIG, GM, Chrysler and those who have partaken of taxpayer monies no longer operate their businesses as they desire but as the government commands.  What if governments, conducted themselves as well-run businesses?

What If, in 2010, government jettisoned agencies, boards and commissions as fast as businesses eliminated non-productive and strategy-impairing products?  The yells of “No new taxes!” would be a distant memory.

This vision is not a long-distant dream but a current reality entitled the Georgia Government Accountability Act (GA HB 236).  This bill allows for the creation of a Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee.  The committee would be composed of General Assembly members and would eliminate those agencies, boards and commissions that are a “duplication of services or other efficiencies” and/or “suggest a change in mission and a consolidation with other departments.”  HB 236 would “give the General Assembly the tool to actually cut government’s size.”

Not only do I think this is a great idea, but so does the Georgia Tea Party.  They sent a press release in support of HB 236.  The chairman of the Georgia Tea Party, J.D. Van Brink stated that, “this legislation is more important than ever in today’s economic environment.  “With state budgets under extreme pressure from declining revenues, we need a process that reviews each agency’s performance in detail and determines if the agency continues to serve a useful purpose consistent with the responsibilities of state government. But economy aside, it is the responsibility of our elected officials to keep a careful watch over public funds and determine whether or not taxpayers are being well served.  We hope all Georgia voters will contact their state representatives and urge them to support this fiscally important bill.”

I agree with you.  We should not pay additional taxes for agencies that duplicate work, are no longer necessary or involved in activities not pertinent to government.

References & more information:

Georgia Government Accountability Act (HB236): http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/sum/hb236.htm

What about the children?

•October 18, 2010 • 2 Comments
Look past the emotion-laden marches and past the rhetoric of “sacrificing our children for the budget”  from the Capitol steps.  Filter through teachers and administrators marching through the Capitol demanding no furloughs or pay cuts.

This is where we are: The money is not there, period.

Revenue…

In 2008, Georgia’s revenues were over $18.7B.  In 2009, they dropped to $16.7B.  For 2010, it dropped to $15.2B and for 2011, revenues are projected to be $15.8B.  In three years, Georgia’s revenue has decreased by 15%.  Revenues are down because unemployment is up.   There are more than a few jobless Georgians that would have preferred furloughs as opposed to being laid-off.  As explained in an earlier article, Georgia receives 46% of its revenues from individual income taxes and 30% from sales taxes.  Higher unemployment means less income taxes are collected because the income tax base has dwindled.  Consequently, unemployed Georgians are spending less money because the money is not there!
Education is 58% of the Georgia budget.  If a line-item in your budget consumes 58% of your income, is this not where you would look first to save money?

Only educators are taking the hit…

Not true!  The GBI has cut their budget by 20%, the Dept of Corrections budget has been cut by 10%, 3 of Georgia’s 7 Crime Labs have had their budgets cut, pay raises for state employees have been eliminated, the Public Safety Dept has cut their budget by 14% and the Juvenile Justice Dept has had their budget cut by 15%.  Other departments have made the tough decisions and decided to do more with less.  However, educators howl that they are being forced to make sacrifices while no other departments have.  11 Georgia state departments had the budgets cut by 20% or more.  The Department of Community Affairs had its budget cut by 50% and the State Properties Commission’s budget was cut by 65%. Clearly, education is not the only area being asked to do more with less.

Can’t the state use its extra money…

What extra money?!  The funds that Georgia held in its Reserve accounts for 2007 were $1.6B.  By 2010, those reserve funds were down to $476M.  The money is not there.  The federal stimulus money was a one-time “shot in the arm” to the budget.  A majority of those funds were used for medical programs.

What about the kids…

Let’s talk about what Georgia’s children are getting as compared to the nation’s other children: 1) an education that ranks 44/51, 2) average teacher pay that ranks 18/51, 3) student-teacher ratios that rank 23/51, 4) expenditures per pupil at 30/51, 5) ACT & SAT scores that are 41st & 48th respectively.  In comparison, what are Minnesota’s students getting?  They rank #1 in overall education, they have higher student/teacher ratios, spend more per pupil and pay their teachers slightly more than Georgia.  What do Minnesota students get in return?  ACT & SAT scores that rank 9th and 2nd in the nation, respectively.  If Georgia’s schools were a company, the organization would be out of business.

So, through chants on the Capitol steps of “sacrificing Georgia’s children for the budget” our children are getting a third rate education at premium dollars.

Now what…

The Governor convened a task force to create recommendations for saving Georgians money.  K-12 education savings were a component of the recommendations.  One recommendation includes outsourcing activities such as accounting, HR, janitorial and food services.  These services would be considered back office operations to directly educating Georgia’s children.  Another recommendation is to hold schools accountable for their budgets.  All other organizations, departments and businesses are responsible for adhering to their budgets, why not educators?  Certainly not last on the list of recommendations is to have educators invest 6% of their own pay in their own retirement.

If these actions and others aren’t enacted, there is one more option…

Increase property taxes…

How about a 1 mill increase in property taxes?  That is to say, that for every $1,000 of assessed value your property taxes would increase by $1.00.  For a $200,000 home, would you be willing to pay an extra $200 per year in taxes?  The more pertinent question is what would you be getting for your money?

So, this is where we stand and those are our options because the money is just not there.


References & more information:





Cherokee County Tax Commissioner’s Office: http://www.cherokeega.com/departments/department.cfm?departmentid=31

Report Card on American Education: A State-by-State Analysis http://www.alec.org/am/pdf/ReportCard08.pdf