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The Government’s response to the Harvey floods: Do anti-gouging laws kill?

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While the magnitude of the epic flooding in southeastern Texas from Hurricane Harvey is only beginning to emerge, and is likely to get much worse over the next few days, it is not too early to consider with apprehension the responses by government at all levels.

Ronald Reagan taught us that perhaps nothing was more dangerous than the government official who said: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Will the authorities, at all levels, impose draconian “relief” measures? Will they ration various commodities like potable water? Or gasoline? Or even confiscate goods?

Recently, in 2012, the New Jersey coast and New York City suffered some of the worst flooding in years from the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. (That was the storm which led to President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie having that infamous arms-embracing stroll on the beach, only days before the presidential election.) The response from the blue-state, government-power-loving authorities was gasoline rationing which made gas shortages worse, the lines longer and general hardship even deeper.

From personal observation, it appears that rationing does little to reduce overall demand, the impulse to hoard, or the gross inefficiency caused by waiting hours for gas.

The logical first reaction is to get a full refill in order to wring as much inefficiency from the wait time. It may, over time, reduce the amount people drive — as social engineers rejoice! — because some people will weigh the costs and benefits of any car usage against the ultimate inconvenience of a wait.

But what of people in the suburbs or rural areas, or people whose job necessitates driving around? How much economic activity is lost — never to be regained? (Note that commercial vehicles are generally exempt, but many independent contractors drive personal, noncommercial vehicles for business use and are quite vulnerable to any rationing games).

Also consider whether such disasters and sure-to-be embellished shortages will be used by the environmental or behavioral zealots whose fingers are on the levers of government power, as “teachable moments.”

As in: disasters are always a good excuse to teach a certain group a “lesson.”

Commodity rationing in times of disaster has costs. Assuming the absence of nefarious reasons to cause, permit or delay alleviating a shortage, let’s look at the immediate and easily recognizable costs of lost time, the related inefficiency, and a seriously degraded lifestyle.

There are downstream economic costs. A business owner who spends 70 hours, up from 60 hours a week, to make the same net income will either pass that cost down to consumers, or cut back on other expenses. The expectation (or objective) that the owner will willingly sacrifice his most precious commodity — his time — for the public good is both naive and, frankly, contemptuous.

Somewhere, someone will lose his or her job when owners cut back due to revenue declines or physical fatigue, or even demoralization at continued government policies that reduce or eliminate the marginal benefit of added work. This is a perfectly rational decision. Other businesses will pass on costs, and the price increases or declines in service quality, quantity or variety of offered goods and services will reduce the savings or standard of living of downstream consumers.

Somewhere, somehow, the price is going to be paid. But there are more problems.

A typical government response is an anti-gouging law. is intended to protect the consumer from presumed exploitation by a business owner who raises prices at all following a natural disaster or other emergency event. But the government presumption that businesses and their owners are exploiters leads to further, unintended — and unproductive and harmful — consequences.

The government scrutiny fuels (no pun intended) the public perception that gas retailers are greedy and somehow profiting unfairly. This encourages the consumer to cheat the gas station owner, run out on the bill, cut the line, and so on. The rule of law, based on the larger cultural value of a shared sense of fairness, will deteriorate further.

In a society where our former President Obama shamed Americans to “pay their fair share” and where First Lady Michelle Obama remarked during the 2008 campaign that some had to do with less so that others could have a little more, government policies which inflict hardship or create a sense of injustice threaten to produce more lawbreaking and antisocial behavior, not less. The danger is that more and more people will feel that they are being robbed. The result? A degrading in behavior, from harsher reactions, to reduced sympathy, to a heightened moral rationalization for greed, to less hesitancy to pass on costs or to simply withhold benefits from others just because one can.

You can imagine charitable contributions and investments drying up, in both an economic and emotional reaction. We will have hoarding, not merely of gasoline but of almost any asset or resource.

Command and control economic policies spark an uncontrollable chain reaction of misery. The solution is not to fight people, or their demand. A real solution is to open up supply. Let gas station owners and other businesspeople charge whatever they want. Those who abuse consumers will soon pay a heavy price when they are shunned by their former customers. This will encourage gas station owners to stay in business, wholesalers to deliver gas, and refineries to get back in business.

Areas hit by disasters will not experience any recovery or economic revival when their governments act like the savage bikers out of the dystopian, post-apocalyptic movie “The Road Warrior.” Elected leaders should use their authority to work on supply preservation and supply chain problems, and on intergovernmental relations among various authorities to preserve basic public order and infrastructure. These are some of the simplest, and core, functions of government. Governments must serve their people, not treat them like the enemy for the sin of wanting to drive. Otherwise, we may see a new form of “road rage.”

Conservative corporate lawyer, commentator, blockchain technology patent holder and entrepreneur. Headquartered in a red light district in the middle of a deep blue People's Republic.

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Politics

Trump’s proposal to defund Planned Parenthood under Title X is fake news

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Last week, Donald Trump, the self-absorbed occupant of the White House who routinely rails against news outlets that print unfavorable news stories and refers to them as “Fake News,” engaged in a bit of his own version of fake news with his announcement that he would be defunding Planned Parenthood.

Calling it the “Protect Life Rule,” Trump proposed withholding $50-$60 million received by Planned Parenthood each year under the government’s Title X Family Planning program, which is used to provide family planning services to low-income individuals.

If the proposal is accepted—an unknown outcome since Trump provided no details on what it would look like—it will model a regulation first implemented by Ronald Reagan and modified over the years.

Despite claims by Ingraham—one of the many members of the so-called conservative media on the Trump Train—this is a fake news story because it doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood, a fact confirmed by a White House official on the day of the announcement.

“This proposal does not necessarily defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they’re willing to disentangle taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning, which is required by the Title X law.”

Under the proposal, as long as Planned Parenthood uses taxpayer money to pay for what “candidate Trump once called the “good work” they do and not for the “relatively small part of the business” known as abortion, the largest provider of baby-killing services in America will continue receiving every penny of Title X funds they want.

Even if successful, Trump’s proposal is nothing more that a restatement of existing law. It’s been illegal for Planned Parenthood to use taxpayer money to pay for abortions ever since the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, even though Planned Parenthood still receives federal funds that have now reached over half-a-billion dollars a year.

How is this possible? It’s because money is fungible.

By providing Planned Parenthood with taxpayer money, other funds are freed up to bankroll the murder of over 321,000 unborn babies a year. To put it another way, Planned Parenthood is able to make nearly all of its non-government revenue from killing babies because taxpayers are paying for everything else.

Of course, with 2018 being an election year and the GOP in serious danger of being wiped out by a Blue Tsunami come November, Trump’s fake news announcement fits right in with the rest of the GOP’s election-year game plan where recycled campaign promises are used to cover a track record of ineptitude and cowardice.

Much like the House “show votes” earlier this year regarding term limits and late-term abortions, this proposal by the man evangelicals are calling “the most pro-life president in history” is simply the latest effort by Trump and the GOP to get conservatives to the polls to vote Republican in November while doing absolutely nothing to defund Planned Parenthood.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

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Guns and Crime

Will school shootings be the next step toward a nationalized police force?

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The recent shooting at Santa Fe High School outside Houston, TX, that resulted in ten dead and thirteen wounded is fueling another round of demands by liberals in Congress to pass more anti-gun laws “to protect our kids” with some blaming the NRA for preventing such laws from being passed.

While conservatives and those who claim to be conservative willingly point fingers at the Democrat side of the aisle, the sad fact is that many Republicans agree with Democrats on the issue of gun control.

For example, after blaming local police for the Parkland, FL. high school shooting in February, Trump held a bipartisan meeting with members of congress where he openly supported the idea of seizing guns from Americans who committed no crime, even if it violated their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.

Weeks later, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos wrote an opinion piece praising Trump for signing the disastrous Omnibus bill because it contained over $700 million to fund the STOP School Violence Act to pay for so-called mental health services designed to prevent school shootings. DeVos’ rhetoric aside, Rep. Thomas Massey (R-KY) stated in an interview with Conservative Review at the time that the STOP SVA essentially nationalized public-school safety.

I think that nationalizing public-school safety is the ultimate goal of big-government progressives. It’s been building for quite some time now, and I think the hype over recent school shootings will be the thing that puts it over the top.

The desire to create a nationalized police force began gaining traction under the Obama administration. Consider the actions of the Congressional Black Caucus following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. In a letter to then-president Obama, the CBC demanded the appointment of a Police Czar to give the feds control over the local police. Not long afterward, Al Sharpton called for a march on Washington to demand the DOJ to take control of the police nationwide.

Though neither of these efforts came to fruition, Obama succeeded in laying the groundwork for a nationalized police force by leveraging a series of tragedies into policies giving the DOJ control over local police forces in several communities across America.

Trump has bought into the idea of federal control of local police since becoming president, threatening to “send in the feds” in January, 2017 to clean up Chicago after a FOX News report about gun violence in the Windy City.

Shortly after the Santa Fe tragedy, Trump demanded action “at every level of government” which is exactly what he said following the FL shooting. This led to the creation of a host of anti-Second Amendment proposals by Republicans and Democrats designed to disarm Americans and place armed security in every public school.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with working to make schools safer, but with Washington working 24/7 to limit our Constitutional rights, should we give the federal government and the Department of Homeland Security that power?

Before you answer, do you remember how George Bush and a fully compliant Congress federalized airport security and created The Transportation Security Administration in the name of “safety” following 9/11? Besides creating tens of thousands of lifetime unionized government jobs, and the likely violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, these “transportation security officers” have been an abysmal failure.

Federal control of school security essentially creates a type of nationalized police force. Doing it “for the children” doesn’t change that.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and FacebookSubscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Opinions

Conservative Picks for the Kentucky Primary

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Kentucky is the state that gave us Rand Paul. He is the biggest highlight, however he is not alone like Ben Sasse in Nebraska. Thomas Massie is also a strong Conservative. This primary has a chance to unseat a major swamp creature. Aside from this one race, there wasn’t much action to be had. Mitch McConnell shows that Kentucky does not have a rich history in holding bad politicians accountable. So if there are any Conservative victories in Kentucky, they should be celebrated vocally.

Best Pick: Geraldo Serrano
Worst Picks: Harold Rogers, Chuck Eddy, Andy Barr
Best Race: District 5
Worst Race: District 6

District 1

James Comer is more fiscally responsible than most RINOs, but he still voted for Omnibus. He is unopposed.

District 2

Bill Gutherie is an unopposed RINO.

District 3

Three Republicans look to win Louisville. The first is Vicky Glisson. She is running a limited issues campaign focused on drugs, healthcare, and a hint of fiscal responsibility. Next is Rhonda Palazzo, the most upfront Conservative in the race. She is a real estate agent and devout Christian. Her stance is overly simplistic, to a fault. Lastly is Mike Craven. His platform is also too simplistic. This race is a three way crapshoot in terms of determining the best candidate.

Conservative Pick: Rhonda Palazzo

District 4

Since 2012, Thomas Massie has been a solid Conservative. He is unopposed.

District 5

Harold Rogers is a decades experienced swamp creature, 33 years in the making. Gerardo Serrano is his challenger. Serrano has Rand Paul potential in both foreign and domestic policy, such as FISA. His website features a unique story of him and a county sheriff, where he held a sheriff accountable when the 2nd amendment was in danger. (The sheriff wasn’t a villain in the story).

I especially like his twitter handle. Geraldo Serrano is a strong candidate, and we desperately as a nation need to unseat swamp monsters such as Harold Rogers.

Conservative Pick: Geraldo Serrano

District 6

Andy Barr is another RINO with a horrendous spending record. He is being challenged by Chuck Eddy. This was a huge disappointment.

I don’t believe he realizes how much a massive walking contradiction he is.

Conservative Pick: None, Barr will undoubtedly win

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