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Great Moments in State Government

Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 12:13pm

When I write about the actions of state governments, it’s usually to highlight a specific bad policy. As you can imagine, states like CaliforniaConnecticutIllinoisNew York, and New Jersey give me a never-ending amount of material.

But I frequently run across things that are happening in the states that don’t really merit an entire column, but nonetheless are worthy of attention since they symbolize the venality and incompetence of politicians.

So I’ve decided that it’s time for a series on “great moments in state government” to augment my already well-developed series on “great moments in local government.”

Let’s start by looking at a truly bizarre example of occupational licensing from Tennessee.

A decade ago, Martha Stowe founded True Equine, an equine-services company, a few miles south of Nashville, Tenn., in Williamson County. After earning a certificate in equine myofascial release, a massage technique that releases tension and pain in a horse’s body, Martha soon acquired a large clientele. …In April 2016, however, Stowe’s well-established business was upended when she received a threatening letter from the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, a board within Tennessee’s Department of Health. Only licensed veterinarians are permitted to massage horses, the board’s attorney explained, and if Stowe continued to practice myofascial release, she could be fined up to $500 and receive a six-month jail sentence. …The board also sent the letter to fellow Williamson County resident Laurie Wheeler, a professional jazz musician and licensed massage therapist who, like Stowe, is certified in equine myofascial release. …Upon receiving the veterinary board’s letter, Wheeler was stunned — after all, she was certified, and not only that, she had never even accepted money for her services. But, she says, the government threatened to “fine me and put me in jail for voluntarily working on animals.” For Wheeler, helping horses is more than a volunteer position or an occupation; it’s a call to duty.

But there is some good news.

A pro-market think tank is helping the women fight back.

Both women disregarded the veterinary board’s warnings and subsequently looked to the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank, for legal representation. According to Braden Boucek, director of litigation for the Beacon Center, the board’s decision to allow only licensed veterinarians to massage horses is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause. Moreover, because the Constitution protects private property, which in turn protects the right to acquire property and the right to earn a living, the board’s decision violates the 14th Amendment. …Threatening to jail an individual for massaging a horse is absurd. These women aren’t giving medical advice to owners, or surgically operating on horses, or doing anything that only a licensed veterinarian could do. Remember, this kind of massage is not even taught in veterinary school. Under Tennessee’s logic, why shouldn’t massage therapists who practice exclusively on people be required to hold a medical degree? The veterinary board ought to take the necessary steps to begin updating this illogical statute. If it doesn’t, it will need to explain in court why it’s permissible to deprive Stowe and Wheeler of their fundamental constitutional rights.

Amen. I admire Tennessee for not having an income tax. It’s time, though, for the Volunteer State to extend economic freedom to horse masseurs.

Now let’s shift to Wisconsin where we have another example of cronyism.

State lawmakers may be brave when it comes to curtailing special privileges for government employees, but they like special protections for private industry.

Wisconsin state regulators…[are]…banning state grocery stores from selling one of the Emerald Isle’s most popular (and tasty) products: Kerrygold butter. Never mind that Wisconsinites have been buying Kerrygold for years with no problems. Or that it remains legal in the 49 other states. Badger State bureaucrats, trying to protect the state dairy industry, are suddenly enforcing a 1970 law that requires all butter sold in the state to go through a complicated evaluation by a state panel. This is the same state that once banned margarine because it was a competitive threat to local dairies. …as a result of the ban, Kerrygold-loving Wisconsinites have been forced to make butter runs across the state border, bringing back suitcases stuffed with the import. In Ireland, meanwhile, the ban is leading to headlines such as this in the Irish Mirror: “Shopkeepers in Wisconsin could face JAIL if they sell Kerrygold butter.”

Maybe butter consumers in Wisconsin can fly to Norway and learn how to get around misguided policies that make butter a black-market commodity.

Remember, if you outlaw butter, only outlaws will have butter.

Now let’s look at some onerous government intervention in my state of Virginia. And this one is personal since I don’t like the hassle of annual vehicle inspections.

…my annual Virginia motor vehicle safety inspection was due in a month. I knew my car wouldn’t pass and that I wouldn’t be allowed to stay on the road with that light on. Never mind that the light has nothing to do with the safe operation of the vehicle. And also never mind that in a 2015 study the Government Accountability Office “examined the effect of inspection programs on crash rates related to vehicle component failure, but showed no clear influence.” AAA Public Affairs Vice President Mike Wright said, “Nobody can prove with any degree of certainty that spending the money, suffering the inconvenience of getting your vehicle inspected, actually produces desired results.” …Virginia has a personal vehicle safety program overseen by the state police that cannot be shown to enhance public safety. The people who perform inspections are often the same people who fix any identified deficiencies. …A government program that requires the purchase of a good or service in return for a nonexistent public benefit is illiberal and anti-consumer. Two-thirds of states see no need to impose the burden of annual personal vehicle safety inspections on their citizens; Virginia should end its inspection requirement.

For what it’s worth, the People’s Republic of the District of Columbia doesn’t have this requirement. Kind of embarrassing that Virginia is more interventionist.

Our final example come from Illinois, where a local newspaper has a superb editorial on a sordid example of wasteful sleaze in the state budget.

Let’s eliminate the Illinois Arts Council Agency from the state budget. They must have taken lessons on government efficiency from our local townships, spending $1 million on staff and overhead in 2016 to hand out $834,900 in grants. The council is chaired by Shirley Madigan, who has been in that position since 1983. Funny, her husband, Mike, has been Illinois House Speaker since then, too. …guess who gets the money? Their well-heeled friends. Madigan’s alma mater received $95,100, another board member’s employer received $165,650 and yet another board member’s pet opera company received $503,000. Surprise! …Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has an opportunity to let someone else be a matron of the arts and appoint a majority of board members dedicated to either eliminating the council or at least making it a transparent organization that helps local artists rather than makes your taxes a minor revenue source for well-connected, large arts institutions.

Needless to say, the first option (eliminating the council) is the superior choice, just like we should shut down the National Endowment for the Arts in D.C.

But let’s set that aside. I’m still scratching my head about a bureaucracy that spends $1 million to give away $834.9 thousand. Though that’s actually efficient if you compare it with the German tax that resulted in €30 euros of government expense for every €1 collected.

To conclude, there’s a common thread in these four stories. In each case, politicians at the state level have policies to enable unearned wealth to flow to the pockets of their friends and allies.

In other words, the First Theorem of Government doesn’t just apply to what’s happening in Washington.

P.S. I’ve only had a few previous “great moments” for state governments. One from Florida involved a felony arrest of some luckless guy who was simply trying to impress his girlfriend by releasing some balloons, and the other from Virginia involved three misdemeanors for the horrid crime of rescuing a wounded deer.

Cartoon of the Day: Hot off the press

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:58am
Mainstream media

Obama was warned about Russian interference as early as 2014

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:52am
Ali Watkins, Politico

They’re going to have to go out and put a bullet in Donald Trump

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 10:14am
There's anti-Trump and then there's certifiable.

Member of antifa arrested after stabbing police horse in the neck

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 9:43am
Amber Athey, Daily Caller

Office pool: When (not if) will Steve Bannon go?

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 9:36am
Chavar & Cirillo, NYT

Kim blinks

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 9:09am

CNN political commentator says Trump is ‘unfit to be a human’

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 8:30am
Amber Athey, Daily Caller

Missile expert: North Korea appears to have gotten rocket engine from Ukraine, Russia for new ICBM

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 1:16am
Not your father's geopolitical world out there anymore.

The Right To Power

Tea Party Tribune - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 8:26pm


Carl Sandburg once wrote “A nation that forgets where it came from soon forgets where it is going”. Like and share if you agree! I mean, that’s where we are isn’t it? No one who reads this will disagree with Sandburg, and we all know that we have lost our way, but we are limited to watered down ways of expressing our frustration, like memes. Kind of like the big yellow smiley face that was in our face during Vietnam. Don’t worry, be happy!


What I’m going to write about is the stress which this causes to grow in us as individuals, and as a society; but first, where we came from. To cut things short, the founding fathers made it painfully clear that the authority to govern is conferred by those whom it governs. Every nation which has failed to follow this example has, well, failed. But the founding fathers, having written a perfect document in the constitution could not protect us from subsequent stupidity and corruption. Buttressing the Declaration of Independence, and providing the perfect segue into the constitution the preamble states that “we the people of the United States in order too to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense,promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America. Snowflakes? Hardly. This cannot possibly be misunderstood. This is where we came from!


Using this as a reference point for our future, it’s crystal clear that we have lost our way to a future that might be rationally charted from that point. Now, let me make something perfectly clear: it ain’t politics as we lowercase citizens think of politics. It’s politics the way that the uppercase players think of it. Long term. Not four years, or eight years, but 20 years at the least, which is the average term of a Supreme Court justice, and usually much, much longer due to customs such as stare decisis (google it guys, I’ve got a word limit here). So let’s just visit a few cases where the supreme Ugga Bugga (sorry, just trying to convey some contempt of court here) decided that the preamble was kind of like that last couple of squares of toilet paper we never bother peeling off to use. It’s there, but what the hell, let’s throw it away. As late as 1946 the court quoted the majority justice in Holmes v Jennison when justifying their decision against the state of California for levying an illegal sales tax against Richfield oil corporation, and I quote the court: “ All words in the constitution are meaningful. Every word appears to have been weighed with the utmost deliberation, and its force and effect have been understood. No word in the instrument can be rejected as superfluous, or unmeaningful”. Boo Ya! Now, I don’t know what you, dear reader, believe, but I for one think that we, as a nation had our heads screwed on pretty tight. So, to be clear, in 1946 we remembered where we came from, and thus presumably knew where we were going. But wait! What about 1904 when the court tried Jacobson v Mass? This case essentially upheld the power of the federal government’s right to compulsory vaccination of citizens. The view of the decision was that sometimes the rights of the individual must be infringed upon for the common good. As a liberal, I’m okay with that, liberty does not mean that we may act in a completely unrestrained fashion, but it clearly represents the verge of the slipperiest of slopes. The judicial review further decided that this made citizens subject to the police power of the state. No real surprise to 21st century Americans right? I mean, have you read the Patriot Act? Still walking the tightrope, the court then stated that “the Preamble indicates the general purpose for which the people ordained and established the Constitution”,and then that “the Preamble has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred upon the government of the United States, or on any of its departments”. Oops.


The court goes on to say “such powers embrace only those expressly granted by the body of the constitution and such as may be implied from those granted”. Oops again! They just offhandedly gave the Constitution a circumcision! Put plainly, the court said yes, the Constitution has a Preamble, but it’s like the forward to a book, you don’t have to read it, and it doesn’t count. I believe anyone who knows the history of this country would agree that there was a feeling that we had lost our way, and that where we were going at that time.


This plainly dangerous doctrine came home to roost in 1972 with Roe v Wade. When confronted by an issue that most definitely concerns the state’s interest in “posterity” and how that aspect of the preamble overrides the personal rights of women, the court again decided to divorce itself from the Preamble, as being separate from the “main body” of the Constitution, and in a decision which basically admitted that the myriad complexity of the case made it impossible to decide on constitutional grounds, once again decided its outcome along purely pragmatic lines, pretty much the same way that they did in Jacobson v Massachusetts. Now let us proceed to what is ailing all of us.


As we see, lots of folks cannot talk about politics, or the direction of our nation coherently anymore. That is due to ideological stress which goes unrelieved day after miserable day. That condition is often referred to as frustration. Studies conducted by the U.S. army throughout the 1960’s generally concluded that frustration leads inexorably to aggression. Aggression leads to social alienation. We know that we are supposed to be the source of legitimate power in this country, and yet our government has acted against the interests of the overwhelming majority of its citizens for the last 30 years in lockstep. Why? Because liberals are all powerful and rampant? Is it the vast right wing conspiracy? Well, maybe, if our story begins with “once upon a time”. The answer is yet another Supreme Court case, Citizens United. You see, the Supreme Court justices wield great power, and the consequences of their actions determine our future. For one thing, our present Chief Justice John Roberts invited David Bossie, the chairman of the 501c organization known as Citizens United to bring the case before the court. Now, I’m no constitutional scholar, but I do know a nickel from a dime, so I’m pretty sure that’s social engineering, especially when the folks over at Breitbart broke out the champagne on that day, ahead of its being scheduled on the docket. Now, I’m not going to go into detail about that case, because it reads like “The reason it was ok for three bears to murder a little girl”. What I will say, is that the majority ruling in that case went far beyond those cases which divorced the Preamble from the “main body” of the constitution, and openly robbed We The People of our right to confer legitimacy upon our governing authority, and hand delivered it to David, Allen, and Bill Koch, and the 17 richest families in America, thus making your wishes or opinions irrelevant, save on Facebook perhaps. By conferring personhood onto corporations, and then giving them the right to bestow unlimited funds onto the political candidates of their choice, the court redacted parts of the constitution. Period.


Now, I do have an answer for this. All is not lost, because the main body of the Constitution does include several means by which We the people may rescue ourselves from the disasters that the founding fathers surely knew we would create, and if you want to know what that answer is, you will have to read the op-ed on Clevenger and Witt.

The post The Right To Power appeared first on Tea Party Tribune.


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