Extremist v. Extremist, Intolerance

charlottesville81217If you’ve ever been out in the streets protesting anything, you’re an extremist. If you’ve ever assembled peaceably to petition anyone, other than the government for redress of grievances, you’re an extremist. If you can’t handle the First Amendment rights of peaceable assembly and freedom of speech, you don’t deserve to be called an American.

According to the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law …abridging the freedom of speech, …or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Freedom of speech may be defined as, “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.” The right to peaceably assemble, and to petition government for redress of grievances may be defined as, “the individual right or ability of people to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue, and defend their ideas; and make a complaint to, or seek the assistance of, one’s government, without fear of punishment or reprisals.”

Congress has, thus far, made no laws abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Yet others, including some local governments, federal government employees, extremist groups, the Democratic Party, Google / YouTube, and Facebook, often enforce their own un-American statutes.

For example, Google recently suspended my Google Plus account indefinitely, without any right of appeal, simply for declaring myself to be a Trump supporter and posting pro-Trump news articles. Of course, prior to doing so my Collection, entitled, “Trump 2016 / 2020” had over 10,000 followers and more than 10,000,000 views. My attempts to reinstate the account fell on deaf ears.

Since I did not violate any of Google’s rules, it claimed that I violated its impersonation policy, even though, unlike others, I used my real name and biographical profile. Thus, I am no longer a part of Google’s social networking experiment. I no longer have the freedom to express myself, nor the right to peaceably associate with friends and followers, at least not using Google’s services. Nine years of associations, thousands of followers, hundreds of posts and comments, gone in a flash. So, what’s next?

If the KKK, Neo-Nazi’s, white nationalists, Alt-left, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter or any other group wants to assemble peaceably to petition the government, they have a right to do so without fear of punishment or reprisals. Certainly, such groups have the right to assemble, and the freedom to write or say whatever they wish. But, that’s not the problem in this era. The plight of our day lies in counter-protests.

Counter-protesters serve no useful purpose other than to deny others of their basic Constitutional guarantees. Government condemnation of domestic hate groups serves no meaningful purpose, as they have a right to exist. The role of the federal government should be to condemn intolerance. There is no place for intolerance, at any level, in our society.

Counter-protesters are not petitioning the government for anything. They are rather protesting against other people’s rights to speak freely, to assemble and to petition the government. Shutting down the right of free speech, or the right to associate and petition the government is not the American way.

What the federal government should do is shut down counter-protest movements in every shape, form and fashion. Congress must pass additional laws protecting basic first amendment rights, by cracking down on counter-protesters. It must also outlaw the practice of street protests. Allowing opposing groups to protest at the same time, in public venues, is asinine.

Allowing any group to protest in the streets, or public places, violates the rights of others. Allowing groups with opposing views to counter-protest encourages violence. Rather than cultivate intolerance and violence, the federal government should do everything within its power to discourage it, while at the same time protecting everyone’s First Amendment rights.

The role of the federal government, and all who have taken oath to uphold the Constitution, is not to pick sides, but rather to promote tolerance in a diversity of ideas.

Google’s actions against me are reprehensible. But, the freedom I have was not granted by Google, and Google cannot take it away. Rather than fight, I have chosen to take my business elsewhere.

If you don’t like MSNBC or CNN, don’t watch. If you don’t like Donald Trump, don’t go to a Trump rally, stay at home. Better yet, pow-wow with the candidate of your choice and prepare for the 2020 election. If you don’t agree with the KKK, Neo-Nazi’s, white nationalists, the Alt-left, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, the Democratic Party, or any other group, don’t support them or attend their functions. Instead support and associate with groups you agree with. Actions such as these are not extreme in nature, but are simply the American way.

Georgia’s Proposed Constitutional Amendments – November 2014

Photo by: Larry Walker II
Savannah City Hall

A Yes-No Proposition

– By: Larry Walker II –

There are two Proposed Constitutional Amendments on Georgia’s ballot this November 4th. They are as follows:

A. To prohibit an increase in the state income tax rate in effect January 1, 2015 (Senate Resolution 415). “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?”

B. Adding reckless driving penalties or fees to the brain and spinal injury trust fund (House Resolution 1183). “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional reckless driving penalties or fees to be added to the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative services for Georgia citizens who have survived neurotrauma with head or spinal cord injuries?”

Yes on Proposal A

Well, Proposal A is pretty much a no-brainer. Do you want to increase the State’s income tax rate, and thus reduce its, and thereby your, competitiveness? I think not. A Yes vote on Proposal A prevents the General Assembly from calling a special session to raise taxes before the next official session begins on January 1, 2015. Therefore, I’m voting Yes on Proposal A.

No on Proposal B

I will be voting No on Proposal B, although the reasons are a bit more complicated. Increasing fines on those convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, or reckless driving, in order to allocate such additional funds to a Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund sounds like a noble idea, however, I believe this concept is best suited for a public Charity. We don’t really need the current Commission to provide such grants. A public charity will do just fine. Ironically, the Commission already accepts public donations. Who knew?

In exploring this proposal intelligently, two important questions arise. First, what is the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund? And second, why does it need more money?

The Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund was created through a constitutional amendment passed by Georgia voters in November 1998. Who knows what we were thinking back then? It is funded solely through a surcharge on DUI (and reckless driving) fines, to assist Georgians with traumatic brain and/or spinal cord injuries, by awarding grants to help alleviate a portion of the often insurmountable costs of procuring necessary equipment and services to help rebuild lives after a traumatic injury.

Why does the Commission need more money? The Trust Fund has never been lower than it is today, with collections having fallen from a peak of $2,069,640 in FY-2008, to just $1,579,626 in FY-2013. The commission only awarded 242 grants in FY-2013, with a total value of $1,343,136. This amounted to an average of just $5,550 per grantee. The reason Trust Fund collections have dwindled is because the number of DUI convictions is down. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out (Fewer DUI’s = Less Revenue).

Wait a minute! Wasn’t the Trust Fund created to penalize, and thus discourage the number of DUI’s? If so, then it’s working. However, if its real purpose was to establish a government-backed slush fund, then perhaps fines should be increased, and rather dramatically, since any increase would have to be proportional to the declining number of DUI convictions. What this would mean is if the number of DUI’s dropped to 10 on an annual basis, then this lucky 10 would have to pay fines of around $206,964 apiece, in order to reboot the Trust Fund. Did you get that? If not, here are a few more reasons to vote No on Proposal B.

In its FY-2013 Annual Report, the Brain & Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission stated that the estimated lifetime costs of care for a person with a traumatic brain and spinal injury could reach upwards of $4,000,000. Yet, according to the same report, the maximum lifetime cap on awards through the Commission is just $15,000 per applicant, hardly a drop in the bucket.

Further, because the Trust Fund is a payer of last resort, an applicant must have exhausted all other fund sources, such as Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, Private Insurance, Disability Insurance, VA, Victims Compensation Fund, etc…, in order to be eligible. In other words, only a handful of applicants will ever even qualify for this penury.

And then there’s this. Eligibility depends on the cause of injury, which must be one of the following: accidental fall, accidentally struck by or against an object/person, assault, self-inflicted injury, sports/recreation injury, and last but not least – a transportation/motor vehicle accident. So let me get this straight, we are collecting fees from those convicted of DUI and reckless driving (traffic) violations, and giving it to persons injured in non-traffic related accidents. What’s wrong with this picture?

Finally, according to its FY-2013 Annual Report, there were a total of 73,770 statewide traumatic brain and spinal injuries in 2013, yet the Commission was only able to grant awards to 242 persons, averaging $5,550 each. This leads me to conclude that the Trust Fund isn’t of much use to anyone at this point in time.

If you all want to punish those convicted of DUI and reckless driving, by all means, do it. But if you want to use this as an excuse for maintaining a government slush fund, then forget about it. I’m voting No on Proposal B, and if I could, I would vote to completely disband the Brain & Spinal Injury Trust Fund and its Commission. Its mission, although a noble one, can more effectively be carried out by, and should be transferred over to, a public charity. You got that?

Health Insurance Co-Ops vs. Government-Run Health Insurance

* More Honest Debate *

By: Larry Walker, Jr. –

What is a Cooperative (Co-Op)? *

A Cooperative is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or who work at it.

There are many types of Co-Ops in the United States. I will attempt to address some of the most common cooperatives. If you belong to a credit union, you are already a member of a Co-Op. My electric and natural gas utility company is an EMC, another word for Co-Op. In the insurance industry, Co-Ops are called Mutual Companies, or Mutual Legal Reserves.

Credit Unions are owned by their members. When you join, you must establish a share account and maintain a minimum balance. Your share account is your capital investment in the company. You are paid ‘dividends’ on your savings and checking accounts. Dividends are your share of the Credit Union’s profits. A Credit Union offers benefits for its members such as preference on home and automobile loans.

An Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) is a service cooperative owned by those who receive its services. There are nearly 1,000 electric cooperatives in the United States. When the EMC makes a profit, those profits are shared with customers through credits to their electric bills, or lower rates.

Health Insurance Co-Ops

Health Care Services Corporation (HCSC) is the largest customer owned health insurer in the United States.

  • HCSC operates the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, employing 17,000 people and serving more than 12.4 million members – 38% in national employer plans, 32% in large local employer plans, 10% in small employer plans, 10% in individual plans and 10% in government plans.

  • HCSC is the fourth largest health insurance company in the United States and the largest customer-owned health insurer. In 2008, the company’s gross revenue totaled $39.9 billion (considering all subsidiaries which are not included in the chart below in accordance with GAAP).

  • HCSC is the most financially secure health insurer in the United States, with a rating of AA- (Very Strong) from Standard and Poor’s, Aa3 (Excellent) from Moody’s and A+ (Superior) from A.M. Best Co.

  • HCSC retains full or joint ownership of a number of subsidiary companies, including Fort Dearborn Life Insurance Co., Dental Network of America, MEDecision, Availity, Prime Therapeutics and RealMed.

If the HCSC model is the type of Health Insurance Co-Op being discussed in Congress, then I am a fan. Yes. Here is an idea that would have strong bi-partisan support. We can agree on Health Insurance Co-Ops. In my opinion Co-Ops are in line with the purest sense of Capitalism. On the other hand, if Congress is talking about some kind of partially Government owned, or Government controlled entity, then I am not in favor.

In fact, I would like to join HCSC, or a similar Co-Op, but unfortunately it only operates in 4 states, and none of the health insurers in my state are co-ops. Fostering increased competition by allowing insurers to operate in all states would be an improvement.

The Plan

So if America wants to convert its health insurance industry to Co-Ops, the question is how? Obviously, it would be unfair, and foolish, to force the existing insurers out of business, so how do you get them to convert?

I am a proponent of Binary Economics. Under Binary Economics, the only role of Government in private enterprise is to offer interest-free loans through its central bank. Existing publicly traded insurers will need to buy back all of their stock in order to make the conversion to mutual companies. Interest free loans from the Government will facilitate this conversion. The loans will be paid back over the long-term out of the profits of the insurers. Once the loans have been paid, the insured will be able to participate in a larger share of company profits. Profits will be shared with policy holders either in the form of dividends, or lower insurance rates.

Interest free loans are not hand-outs, or bailouts. The money gets paid back. Granting interest free loans would be a much better use of taxpayers money than the current foolishness being promoted by certain ‘linear’ thinkers (right and left). The World is not flat. In fact, most good ideas come from outside of the box.

Reforms I can believe in:

  1. Conversion of the Health Insurance Industry to Co-Ops

  2. Tort Reform

  3. Fostering Interstate Commerce for increased competition

  4. No denial for preexisting conditions

  5. Tax Incentives for those paying higher premiums due to preexisting conditions

  6. Tax incentives for purchasing health insurance

  7. Portability of policies

Reforms I don’t believe in:

  1. Making health insurance mandatory

  2. Taxing employers who don’t offer insurance

  3. Expanding Government-Run health care

  4. Excessive Government Regulation

  5. Triggers

click images to enlarge

Sources:

http://www.hcsc.com/about-hcsc/overview.html

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/mutualcompany.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Co-op

http://www.waltonemc.com/mycoop/

https://blackandcenter.blog/2009/09/02/government-run-vs-private-health-insurance/