THE COST OF FREE SPEECH 6
HONDURAS STANDS UP AGAINST HUGO CHAVEZ 13
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FOUNDATION IMMIGRATION REFORM: TWO FREEDOM PERSPECTIVES 14 1
LIVING LIBERTY AUGUST 2009 | WWW.EFFWA.ORG
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
OLYMPIA, WA PERMIT #462
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE
by Amber Gunn
The realities expressed in this article should shock us into taking firm and deliberate action to turn ourselves around. For our own sake, and for that of the next generation, we cannot allow government to bring more than two centuries of economic progress and freedom to an end.
Change service requested
his was the year I vowed never to file my own taxes again. By the time I finished filling out all the required sections for the Deduction Maximizer edition of TurboTax, I decided my aggravation threshold had been reached. Between my Health Savings Account, my regular job, my small business, and some consulting work I was paid for on the side, TurboTax happily informed me that my odds of being audited were “above average.” Great! From now on, I’ll leave it to the professionals and chalk up the extra accountant’s cost to just another aspect of Cost of Government Day—the day the average American finally stops working to pay for all the expenses of government at all levels. This year, Cost of Government Day (COGD), calculated by Americans for Tax Reform, falls later than any year since it was first tracked in 1977. Last year, national COGD was July 16; this year, national COGD is August 12—nearly an entire month later! Washington’s COGD will fall on August 17 this year, up from July 22 last year (the fifth-latest in the country). When we wrote about Cost of Government Day in 2008, we stated with certainty that the date would continue to fall later in the year as baby boomers retire and entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) consumes larger portions of the budget. We could not have anticipated the trillions the Federal Reserve would throw at struggling banks and lenders. It is estimated that the 2008 financial crisis, at a cost of approximately $4.2 trillion, was and is the most expensive enterprise in American history—even greater than the inflationadjusted costs for World War II, at $3.6 trillion.
“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” – Thomas Jefferson
Cost of Government Day – n. the date
of the calendar year, counting from January 1, on which the average American has earned enough in cumulative gross income to pay for his or her share of government spending (total federal, state, and local) plus the cost of regulation. – Americans for Tax Reform
National COGD is August 12. Washington’s COGD will fall on August 17 this year, up from July 22 last year (the fifth-latest in the country).
Continued on page 8
Get your copy from eff “To Protect and Maintain Individual Rights: A Citizen’s Guide to the Washington Constitution, Article I” This reference guide offers an easy-to-read review of the Washington Constitution’s Declaration of Rights. Written by Evergreen Freedom Foundation attorneys, the book provides a fresh look at our state’s founding document.
(plus shipping and tax)
“The wisdom of this book serves as a high standard against which we ought to judge our judges.”
– Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders
“Quote” “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.” From Created Equal, the last of the Free to Choose television series (1990, Volume 5 transcript).
VOLUME 19, Issue 8 EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.
Publisher: Lynn Harsh Editors: Steven Maggi Rich Frias Layout: Joel Sorrell
Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 email@example.com • www.effwa.org
3 4 6
Letter from lynn | by Lynn Harsh
WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT THIS BORING STUFF? New state and local taxes and fees total $590 million | by Amber Gunn A leaky bucket | by Bryan Leonard funding public education in Washington The cost of free speech | by Scott St. Clair YOUNG LEADERS PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT | by Diana Cieslak EFF’S SECOND THREE INTERN ARRIVALS
9 10 11 12 13 14
STATE PENSION PLAN INSANITY CONTINUES | by Brett Davis system needs to move from defined benefits to defined contributions
With new labor legislation, unions will have their cake and eat yours too
by Rachel Culbertson
DIARY OF A FREEDOM LOVING MOM | by Judy Parkins SNAKES, PRANKSTERS AND POLITICAL RASCALS WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT’S 2009 STATISTICS (YEAR TO DATE) | by Michael Reitz
HONDURAS STANDS UP AGAINST HUGO CHAVEZ | by Trent England AND THREE LESSONS FROM THE WORLD’S NEGATIVE REACTION
DEFENDING LIBERTY: EFF AND THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE | by Diana Cieslak
IMMIGRATION REFORM: TWO PERSPECTIVES | by Scott Dilley if you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention | by Craig Keller LASTING REFORMS INVOLVE MORE THAN JUST ENFORCEMENT | by Dan Fazio
TAKE THE FIELD WITH EFF ON SEPTEMBER 26TH AT SAFECO FIELD
W W W . LI B ERTYLI V E . OR G
OURYOUR BLOG! POST
OPINION ON THE ISSUES!
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
LetterLET fromTER Lynn FROM LY NN by Lynn Harsh
Why should we care about this boring stuff? A brief discussion of fiscal and monetary policy
e cannot have a comprehensive fiscal and monetary discussion in this small column and with the limited amount of time you and I have, but here’s a start. If your eyes begin to glaze over, remember, it’s your bottom line at stake. So please rub your eyes, get a cup of coffee, and then keep reading. Our elected officials have hung hundreds of billions of dollars of debt around our necks…to purchase toxic assets at inflated values; so we can borrow money again…probably at higher interest rates! In the meantime, our dollar has lost significant value, and dollar-denominated assets such as our life insurance, savings and retirement funds have taken a real hit. How did this happen? The status of our country’s money supply is what convinces elected officials, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to make certain decisions about debt, taxes, inflation…decisions that will influence our future for decades to come. Fiscal and monetary policies are crafted by government officials in an attempt to stabilize the economy and ensure sufficient money supply. Battles have always been waged around whether or not government officials and their agents should have this kind of authority. This is especially true since fiscal policies are set by politically charged elected officials often to help pay for profligate government spending. Monetary policy is established by the Federal Reserve for the purpose of setting interest rates and determining the amount of money in the national economy. Fiscal policy is established by elected officials when they deal with tax policy and transfer payments. So...does it work? Well, for the sake of brevity, let’s look at one piece of the mix. How do we figure out the true status of our money supply, since that’s what seems to create the greatest fiscal concern. We have to start by distinguishing the two kinds of deposits: time and transaction. Transaction deposits can be withdrawn by customers “on demand.” For example, when we pay for groceries next week, most of us will write a check or use our debit card. The store accepts our check or debit card as money because our bank (or other financial institution) honors it as such. The Federal Reserve rules require that all financial institutions accepting transaction deposits put a certain percentage aside in a mandatory reserve account. So each day, banks “sweep” their deposits and classify them as time or transaction. A certain percentage of all transaction deposits must then be put away in a non-interest-earning reserve account for customers like you and me who use our accounts to conduct day-today business. Banks depend on help from the Federal
Reserve to keep these balances intact. This gives banks necessary liquidity, but no profit. Transaction deposits and money from the Federal Reserve pretty much form the monetary base of our country. But banks need to make a profit to stay in business, and they can’t earn interest on mandatory reserves. So they use their customers’ time deposits to make loans with interest attached. Here’s the rub. In the daily sweep, some demand (transaction) deposits are now being “reclassified” as time deposits. This means banks do not have to keep a required reserve on those deposits. And this changes the base used to calculate our country’s money supply. It has traditionally been measured by the sum of money created by the Federal Reserve for the banking system and transaction (or demand) deposits, not time deposits. Again, why should you care? Because the money supply is used to determine the projected debt, the total
amount of money that will be created by the Feds, and the related inflation concerns that will ensue. For example, President Obama told members of Congress that we have a projected budget deficit for the coming year of $1.8 trillion. The assumption that this debt will be pushed entirely into the future for our children to pay is incorrect, since this would swamp credit markets. Instead, government creates more money. (Last fall, the Federal Reserve created more than one trillion dollars right out of the ether.) If, in fact, we really do face a $1.8 trillion deficit, our Federal Reserve will simply authorize printing another trillion dollars or so in the near future to finance it. Unless Congress and our state legislatures cut real spending during this biennium and for the bienniums that follow, the Federal Reserve will need to keep printing money to loan to the Treasury to pay the government’s bills. This means we will have more money floating around in the economy, but each dollar is worth less. We do not have enough goods and services in our economy to support the increase. Inflation is scratching at our door trying to get in, and our elected officials have their hands on the doorknob.
How much money is actually in our economy? As of this writing, the Federal Reserve claims $740 billion in demand and other checkable deposits. But jiggered reserve numbers make it likely that the amount is closer to $1.4 Trillion, making the real money supply well above $2 trillion. This is at least three times the money supply in our country from one year ago. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet is at historic highs. Banks loaning money are at historic lows. But this is not due to a lack of money available to lend. So the Federal Reserve has applied the wrong remedy to our national economic woes. We do not have a liquidity problem, such as occurred in the Great Depression. We have a trust problem. With good reason, since we don’t know by looking at the balance sheets of financial institutions which are solvent and which are not. We do not believe enough borrowers will repay their debts. How does pumping loads of new money through credit markets fix this problem? It doesn’t! Initially the funds were supposed to help purchase “toxic assets.” That’s a hard sell because no one knows what they are worth. If they are priced at current market levels, selling them would be a recipe for immediate bankruptcy at many financial institutions. So the Treasury Department recapitalized banks instead, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. Many economists and market watchers believe that this shift from recapitalizing the banking system in order to save it to only saving individual institutions has prolonged the time before we will return to economic health. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where government officials can succeed in managing all the complex parts of an economy. They certainly play a role in transparency, contract enforcement and such. But the business of predicting human behavior, anticipating unexpected world events, and acting in a timely manner is outside the realm of what we should ask or expect our government officials to do. In my opinion, they shouldn’t try. It’s likely that some of you reading this article disagree with my analysis. Please feel free to write to say so. If I get enough responses, I’ll publish a few with your permission.
state and local taxes and fees total
$590 million by Amber Gunn
EFF has compiled a list of all the new taxes and fees approved by the Legislature during the 2009 legislative session. We used Initiative 960 cost projections put together by the Office of Financial Management and, in some cases, fiscal notes to come up with a two-year total. Altogether, approved state and local tax and fee increases will exceed $590 million. Most of the increases are ongoing—meaning governments will collect at least $590 million additional dollars for each two-year budget cycle indefinitely, pending any legislative changes.
Two-year state and local tax and fee increases 2009-11 HB Bill Title
Two-Year Total 1052
Background check fee-Firearm licenses
1067 Limited partnership reporting fee
1244 Operating Budget--Multiple fees*
Water quality permit fee
1530 Asset protection waiver-Application fee
1568 Title insurance agent license fee
Business entities and associations
(Register with Secretary of State)
Mortgage loan originator licensing fee,
fingerprint-based background check
Small loan database transaction fee,
service provider’s cash receipts
1749 Loan originator licensing fee
1765 Physician license surcharge
Two-pole fee, Food Fish guide fee, transaction fee,
Western Washington pheasant fee
1935** Adult family home new license and renewal fee 2013
Self-service storage specialty insurance producer license application & renewal
2075 Retail sales tax (electronic)
2119 Various higher education fees
2211 I-520 bridge tolls
Document recording fee for homeless services-State Receipts
Liquor license fees, Spirits/Beer/Wine
2362 Various court fee surcharges
SB Bill Title
Two-Year Total 5195 Insurance licensing fee
District court clerk fees
Guardians ad litem fingerprint-based
5350 Special permits for poultry slaughter,
preparation and sale
5352 Transportation budget--multiple fees
5367 Spirits/beer/wine nightclub license
5368 Real estate transactions fee
5391 Tattooing/Body piercing license fee
Salmon and Steelhead endorsement (stamp), 10% transaction fee
Washington health care discount plan fees
5601 Speech-language pathology assistant
Genetic counselor license fee
Domestic partnership change fee
5976 Replacement tire fee 6126
Boxing, martial arts and wrestling fee
(converted from tax)
Total $40,482,936 Miscellaneous***
HB 2339 State parks system change to
opt-out $5 tab renewal
SB 5433 $20 license tab fee authority
for transit districts
HB 2331 Document recording fee
for homeless services—
Local Government Receipts Liquor profit mark-up
Grand Total $591,482,100 *Includes higher education tuition increases **This fee is already accounted for in operating budget estimates, and therefore not included in the total fee tally *** Not included in I-960 list: local government fee increases, “optional” fee increases, liquor mark-up
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
c o m p l i m e n ta ry w or k s hop f or
m e m b e rs a n d f r i e n d s
Pl a n n i ng for L ife S e p t e m b e r 17
S p oka n e
Responding to requests from EFF members, this workshop is pre-
Protect assets from taxes (especially the death tax)
sented for those who want to know how to make plans to protect
Learn about Charitable Remainder Trusts
hard-earned assets now as well as when the end of life comes. Perhaps you have never gotten around to doing this. Maybe you
Learn about Living Trusts, wills and annuities
have a plan that needs a tune-up. If you are unsure that your estate
Use your life values in estate planning
plan is complete and up to date, this workshop will give you new
Choose the right tools for your particular situation
ideas and tools that work. The presenters have been carefully selected. Each is expert in his field. And they both love liberty!
Discuss the current turbulent economy Learn where to get help
Please feel free to bring your attorney or other professional family advisor. No services are sold at this workshop. No one will ask you to sign up for anything. The entire day is free, including lunch. It will be a day full of great information and good con-
versation. We look forward to having you with us (attendance is
Alan W. Pratt, CEP, CAP
limited to 30 people).
Founder, Pratt Legacy Advisors. 30 years experience in financial services, the past 17 focused on wealth preservation through his Legacy Planning from the Heart process. Board member, The International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy.
Please RSVP by contacting Laurie at 1-800-769-6617 by September 14, 2009.
Glenn D. Price, J.D. Price & Farrington, PLLC. Graduate of Harvard College and Duke University Law School. 30 years experience in estate, tax, retirement, business and asset protection planning. Presents “Protect Your Estate: The Nuts and Bolts of Estate Planning.”
Thursday, September 17, 2009
1002 W. Riverside
9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Spokane, WA 99201
The Spokane Club
Complimentary buffet luncheon
A leaky bucket: funding public education in Washington by Bryan Leonard
hile state legislatures across the country face major budget shortfalls, a little-known court case will be heard this month that could completely change the way Washington state finances public education. McCleary vs. the State of Washington joins the ranks of countless other “adequacy” lawsuits around the country that place legislators under fire for more school funding. A host of school districts, teachers unions, and other organizations have come together to sue the state, calling themselves The Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS). NEWS highlights what we already know: public education is a leaky bucket, requiring ever-increasing dollars in exchange for no increase in quality. But NEWS isn’t just asking for more money. Proponents want a court order requiring the Legislature to determine the exact per-student cost of providing basic education—to the penny. From there, the state would have to foot the bill. This trial raises a number of issues. It calls into question the role of the courts and their ability to direct the Legislature; it reflects the tension between state-mandated equity and local control in education; and it even disputes what dictionary to use when interpreting the constitution. But the principal issue at stake in the trial is the assumption that more money yields better results. This relationship between dollars spent and student performance plays a critical role in all adequacy litigation. Whether through direct pleas for more dollars or subtle advocacy for reallocation of school funding, these lawsuits ultimately come back to increasing education spending. The crux of the argument? The bucket is leaking, so we need to throw in more water.
NEWS claims that Washington has not met its constitutional requirement to provide “ample provision” for basic education state-wide. According them, schools lack the resources needed to get the job done. NEWS also claims that the dollars that are available aren’t being spent well. According to NEWS, the fact that under 100% of students pass the WASL means that the Legislature is in violation of the constitution. They offer a trimmed education budget and less spending on education than other states as further evidence of this claim. NEWS’ proposed solution? More money and more state directives. While there are certainly problems with our education system, this prescription simply threatens to make matters worse by ignoring meaningful issues and moving decision-making further away from the schools. If the state is going to put a price tag on education, they must decide in advance what to buy.
to the money—strings that get in the way of doing their jobs. What’s more, a study done by Alfred A. Lindseth reports that adequacy decisions have failed to increase test scores while at the same time actually hurting graduation rates. What’s more, the famous “Coleman Study” published in 1964 proved that there is no real relationship between spending and student achievement. Since then, the vast majority of academic and scientific inquiries have come to the same conclusion. Dr. Paul Hill of the University of Washington further argues that until we can determine the effectiveness of each dollar spent on education, we are in no position to increase that amount. Still, the current trend in education is to focus on resources inputs rather than basing policy on real academic outcomes. Ultimately, the quality of education depends on the ability of teachers to impact their students. School leadership, teacher quality, students’ backgrounds, and
“...public education is a leaky bucket, requiring ever-increasing dollars in exchange for no increase in quality.” This leaves little room for teachers to experiment or adapt to their students, whom legislators will never see. In the end, NEWS’ position rests on the notion that education is best organized far from the classroom, leaving the state making the important decisions and teachers simply complying with a pre-determined program. This top-down structure has made money all but useless to teachers, despite what the plaintiffs say. When asked, some educators admit they’d just as soon not take additional funds because of the strings attached
countless other factors contribute to whether or not a child receives a good education. The bucket is certainly leaking. And despite pouring in more and more water over the years, it seems the leaks are only getting worse. There are serious problems with our public education system and the way it spends taxpayers’ money. But adequacy litigation is no solution and will likely make matters worse. The last thing we need is more leaks in our education bucket. For more information on the trial this month, check out our policy highlighter online at www.effwa.org.
primarily at protests by something called the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, at the funerals of military personnel, most of whom were killed in the line of duty, the law sought to establish a buffer between the so-called “protesters” and mourners at the funeral. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis barred enforcement of the law in order to give a federal district court judge the opportunity to consider its constitutionality. Facebook, the social-networking Web site, has a petition electronically signed by nearly 180,000 people demanding the removal from the site of a group called “Soldiers are not heroes.” The group claims that it’s “intended to point out the absurdity of the many groups on Facebook that portray all soldiers to be heroes and shower the armed forces with unconditional praise.” Not surprisingly, the group’s tonguein-cheek nature, if indeed that’s what it is, is lost on those who have family or friends in the military, veterans, and others who appreciate their service and sacrifice. What’s to be done, if anything? Or should free speech reign supreme? As obnoxious, vile, and hateful as speech might be, the marketplace of ideas is the best place to deal
with it. In the Missouri case, the Westboro demonstrators (exercising my free speech rights, I refuse to acknowledge their legitimacy to use either the words “Baptist” or “church” in their title) are as entitled to First Amendment protections as Tea Party protestors or anyone else. That they use it to debase and demean fallen heroes is despicable—I would sign onto an effort to confront them and call them for the vicious haters that they are. But outlaw their protests? What happens when the tables get turned and someone wants to outlaw Tea Parties? With Facebook, I’d rather take the “Soldiers are not heroes” group on and whip them with superior ideas and reasoned argument rather than make martyrs of them. Don’t try to censor them because we don’t like what they say, but instead challenge them to prove their assertions, debate them on the merits, and expose their canards as the empty-hat posturing that it is. No American right is as precious as free speech, something tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and Coast Guardsmen died to secure and preserve. Should we minimize their sacrifice by quashing it when what is being said about them is vile, hateful and offensive? Blogger Andrew Brietbart recently said on Facebook:
The cost of free speech by Scott St. Clair
e all believe in free speech until it outrages us. Or at least that’s the way it seems. Let others say what’s on their minds until it rubs too raw or hits an exposed nerve. While it’s one thing to get mad about what’s said or written (it happens whenever I read the New York Times), it’s another to take action against it in order to suppress it. When is it appropriate to regulate the marketplace of ideas? Or is it ever? If liberty is the ultimate political, economic, and societal value, where does offensive speech fit in? Hard questions, but relevant since you can’t pick up a newspaper (those few of you who still
do), read Drudge, or check your Facebook page without being confronted by the issue. Let’s look at some examples. At the end of its 2008 term, the United States Supreme Court left in place an order barring Missouri from enforcing a law limiting protests near funerals. Directed
Continued on next page
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The cost of free speech continued from page 6 . . . “When they intimidate into silence those with whom they disagree, they then act like they are the only voice and claim eternal victory. This thug’s game worked in Hollywood for the last generation—and the silent are slowly emerging dazed from their somnolence. Work on your voice. Don’t let them get to you. Don’t allow them to shut you up.” While he was speaking of the current resurgence in conservative thought and speech among those in the entertainment industry, his words apply here too. It’s neither acceptable to be silent nor to be the thug who does the silencing. If our ideas are superior then they will come out on top—we don’t need to silence anyone who disagrees. And if they’re not, then no amount of silencing will make them so. When it comes to ideas, with confidence in the truth of them, they will set you free.
EFF and the Fraser Institute are proud to present
The 2009 Report Card on Washington’s Elementary Schools
Featuring • Five years of WASL scores in Reading, Writing, Math, and Science • School demographic data • Trends • and an overall rating on a scale of 0-10
All in a compact, reliable, and readable format—so you can make the best decision for your kids.
You can search schools online or download the entire School Report Card at www.reportcardwa.com. For more information or to donate to The School Report Card project, contact Diana Cieslak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COST OF GOVERNMENT DAY 1977 - 2009
7/26 7/21 7/16 7/11
Source: Americans for Tax Reform
7/6 7/1 6/26 6/21 6/16 6/11 2009
who has ever hired a plumber, a babysitter, or any other type of contractor knows, the wages one pays for a job is the price of getting the product one wants. If we could get a product for free, we would certainly take it; but would any of us pay someone the wages of a job without receiving a product? Doubtful. And yet, politicians fall all over themselves to tell their constituents about all the people they’ve put to work disposing of old crab pots, smelling cheese whiz, tagging squirrels and other such nonsense. Of course, crab pots and cheese whiz aren’t the usual justification for government jobs. More likely, you’ll hear about schools, roads and additional police and firemen. If these jobs are truly needed, then we have indeed received a service for our dollars (though whether it was efficiently delivered is another story). But paying a person to dig a hole for the sake of paying another to fill it up is a totally unproductive and wasteful use of resources—one that increases the cost of government even further. The real travesty in this story of paying for government is not what we can see, but what we cannot. Cost of Government Day can account for the real federal, state and local taxes that are extracted from our wallets; it can calculate the costs of complying with various regulations at all levels; it can even estimate the annual hours and dollars spent complying with IRS tax law ($265 billion and 6 billion hours in 2005 alone); but it cannot account for the lost-opportunity cost of all those dollars and hours consumed by government—the what might have been. Imagine if we had cured cancer or AIDS by now. Imagine all the lives that would have been saved. Imagine if traveling to a man-made city 3,000 feet deep were today’s equivalent of a Hawaiian vacation. Imagine if we had really begun to conquer the final frontier—space— to harness the power of capital and human curiosity to explore new worlds, without government coercion but of our own accord. What if all those hours dedicated to paying for and complying with government had instead been left to individuals to specialize and pursue their own interests? Some of these things might seem silly or unnecessary, but then, there were those who mocked electricity as superfluous when it was discovered, too. We humans have achieved some amazing things. Free markets and free individuals are the engines of those achievements. It is not a flawless system, and it is not without its faults. Capitalism can create vast inequalities and does not handle third-party impositions gracefully. And yet, what is the alternative? Are we to pretend that government action does not impose third-party costs on others? Are we to replace market efficiency with bureaucratic approval? Do we trade economic freedom for pervasive restrictions?
Go to www.effcan.org to find an event taking place near you and for resources to help you prepare for action. We can make a difference if we join together to send our government a clear message: Stop Spending Our Money!!!
We are calling for citizens from all over the northwest to gather at their federal or state legislator’s local office from 12:00pm - 1:00pm on Cost of Government Day (August 17th) to send them the message that we know how much they are spending and we are going to hold them accountable for it.
What this means is that the cost of government is growing, not just in absolute terms, but in relative terms compared to the growth in national wealth and productivity. Think of all the amazing things that have been created in the last fifteen years alone—the iPod, DVDs, Blu-ray, PlayStation 3, iRobot Vacuum cleaners, the Blackberry, daVinci surgical systems, debit cards, online stock trading, TiVo and Purell hand sanitizer (I never go anywhere without it). These and other inventions have saved us time and money, reduced transaction costs, kept us healthy or helped us heal ourselves, brought us entertainment or just made our lives easier. Despite these incredible advances in technology and our standard of living, we have not been able to keep pace with bloated federal, state and local governments. These increases in productivity have been captured by government, even though basic services should be shrinking as a portion of our national wealth. Fifty years ago, the average family spent about 20 percent of its income on food; today it is closer to ten percent. We spend the extra wealth in new ways, helping to support new industries and to raise our standard of living. As we have become more productive, we would hope to task government with becoming more productive as well, and to find better and smarter ways to deliver public goods and services. In fact, government has expanded its role in our economy to keep pace with and even surpass our gains in the private sector, while realizing few efficiency gains of its own. Adding to the cost of government, we now have whole government departments dedicated to make-work job creation. In politics, individuals tend to deny fundamental truths that they practice in their everyday lives. As anyone
Cost of government continued from page 1 . . .
The correct question is not, “What is the perfect system?” Perfection of this kind is not achievable in this life. The correct question is, “What is the best system of the choices we have?” and for that, all of our best evidence—measuring efficiency, ingenuity, wealth creation, prosperity, individual and economic freedom—points to capitalism.
• The average American worker must work 111days just to pay for federal spending which is now consuming 20.36 percent of national income. • The average American worker must work 49 days to meet the burden of state and local spending, compared to 42.5 days in 1999. This means that in the last ten years alone, state and local spending has grown almost 14 percent in relation to national income. • Regulatory costs force the average American worker to labor 65 days this year, and will consume 17.7 percent of national income. • 2007: Washington COGD July 18, Rank 8; National COGD July 11 • 2008: Washington COGD July 22, Rank 5; National COGD July 16 • 2009: Washington COGD August 17, Rank Coming Soon; National COGD August 12
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Young Leaders Program
EFF’s second Three Intern Arrivals
the summer moves by at a rapid pace, EFF continues to enjoy the help
of our six college interns and the opportunities we have to help them grow in knowledge and leadership. This month we would like to introduce the three interns who joined us in the second half of June.
by Diana Cieslak | photography by Gregg Santee
is a lifelong Washingto-
comes to EFF from
nian and currently lives in Puyallup, WA. A junior at
North Carolina. A recent graduate of the Univer-
Federal Way, WA. Kerry is a senior at Washington
Hillsdale College, Ben spends nearly all of his time
sity of North Carolina at Pembroke, Efrain majored
State University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s
on classes in Political Science, English, and Classi-
in Mass Communications and minored in Musical
degree in Digital Technology with a minor in Profes-
cal Studies. Ben has always loved learning—whether
Theatre. While there, he expanded his musical tal-
sional Writing. Kerry has always had an interest in
from great teachers or from timeless books. While at
ents and joined the brotherhood of musicians, Phi
computers and wants to pursue a career in technol-
home, Ben likes to go fishing, hiking, and skiing,
Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Efrain gained more experience
ogy. She is currently interning in EFF’s Communi-
and also loves to play tennis and ultimate frisbee. A
in his field by interning with comedy mega-brand
cations Department, where she has worked on updat-
full-time employee at Costco for over two years, Ben
National Lampoon in West Hollywood in 2008,
ing our various websites, editing and posting videos
was able to take this summer off to intern with EFF,
where he worked on several of the company’s viral
for the CAN online classroom, and contributing to
where he is hard at work on projects in the Citizen-
videos as a crewmember and acted as an extra. In his
several video projects. Through the Young Leaders
ship & Governance Center and the Property Rights
spare time, Efrain enjoys working out, playing music
Program, Kerry has developed an interest in video
Center. After returning to Hillsdale this fall, Ben
and performing stand up comedy. Efrain has been
editing and website work and has been a great help
will be taking on the duties of Resident Assistant in
contributing great work to EFF’s Communications
to our Communications team. At school, Kerry is a
a dormitory and also working as a research assistant
Department. His projects include writing scripts and
member of the Cougar Marching Band. In her spare
in the Office of the President.
filming viral videos for several of our centers as well
time, she likes to work out, play video games, and
as writing and recording radio advertisements.
At the end of this month, these young men and women will return to college or join the work-
For more information on the Young Leaders Program
force. Our goal is that their time at EFF will have provided them with the knowledge, experi-
Summer Internship or to partner with us by sponsor-
ence, and tools to engage on their campuses and in their communities. Through their leader-
ing a current or future intern, contact Diana Cieslak at
ship, the principles of liberty will be passed on to future generations.
State pension plan insanity continues:
System needs to move from defined benefits to defined contributions by Brett Davis
lmost nothing in life is a sure thing—except death and taxes—and even those have variable rates and timelines. Lawmakers apparently have not learned this lesson, as evidenced by how they’re dealing with Washington state’s pension debt. Instead of making the major changes the pension system needs, legislators are balancing the budget by raiding pension funds at a time when the state is already $5.9 billion behind in funding the oldest retirement plans for public employees. Back in December 2007—when the nationwide recession officially began—the state investment fund for pensions was valued at $65.8 billion. As of May 2009, pension funds are valued at $47.7 billion, a loss of $18.1 billion! In the first four months of this year alone, the state pension fund lost $2.6 billion in value. The struggling economy explains some of the pension plan’s problems. However, several questionable decisions on the part of the Legislature—skipping pension fund payments even when there was a $2 billion surplus a few years ago, increasing retirement benefits for government workers when investment returns exceeded expectations, ignoring the state actuary’s mortality assumption recommendations—have created “a perfect storm” that has dramatically increased pension costs for taxpayers. The questionable decisions continue, with lawmakers opting to balance the state budget by shorting pension obligations. The 2009-11 budget managed to wring $429 million in general fund savings from pensions. In other words, by putting in less money now, the state plans to pay at a higher rate in the future, and for longer. Conveniently, the legislators responsible for this will be out of office by then. The state has boxed itself in by effectively promising state workers a guaranteed retirement outcome (defined benefit plan), rather than contributing to individual accounts that depend on investment returns (defined
contribution plan). Most private sector companies did away with traditional pension plans years ago, after realizing that there was no way to guarantee an outcome 30, 40 or 50 years down the road. Rather than acknowledging this reality, legislators have shunned it and continued to make promises that will have to be fulfilled long after they’ve left office. An argument could be made that traditional pensions are better at leveling investment and longevity risk for individual retirees. Basically what that means is that if you lived to be 95 or retired in a year when the market crashed, that was okay because your risks were shared with people who failed to live as long or retired in other years. But the truth of this assessment is outweighed by political realities. The state’s current defined benefits pension plan relies on many suspect assumptions related to the annual rate of return on investments, lifespan length and annual contributions by the state. A change in any one of these categories can have devastating effects on the value of the state’s pension fund. In Washington’s case, budget realities combined with political preferences to produce “a perfect storm” for the coming pension disaster. Politicians skipped payments into the state’s pension fund for the fiscal years ending in 2003, 2004 and 2005. They have also chosen to ignore the State Actuary’s recommendation that the state recognize longer life spans for state employees (after all, it matters substantially whether you assume people die at 72 or 76). These two mistakes were purposeful—a conscious decision by those in charge that the money was needed elsewhere. Even if legislators had not skipped payments and had adopted more realistic life span assumptions for their pensions, it is still doubtful they could have averted the coming pension crisis. Given the crash of world markets and the subsequent lousy economy, the average rate of return for Washington’s pension fund for the past 10 years has dropped to 5.4 percent. The state’s contribution formula assumed an 8 percent return on investments.
So, what can be done to reduce Washington state’s pension debt? It’s time to stop the insanity of putting taxpayers on the hook for results that are far less than certain. Lawmakers should close down the current system and move to a defined contribution plan in which the amount of the employer’s annual contribution is specified. Only employer contributions to the account would be guaranteed, not future benefits. Current state workers would get to keep their pension plans, with new workers getting the defined contribution plan.
“. . . ‘a perfect storm’ that has dramatically increased pension costs for taxpayers.” The move toward defined contributions plans— 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts, for example—can be seen in the private sector, where the bottom line is king. Most companies have already transitioned away from defined benefits plans, and those that haven’t are bankrupt or on their way (GM, anyone?). Defined contributions plans force employees to recognize that investing always carries some level of risk, and that should ultimately be determined by the individual’s own investing style and preferences. For all of the same reasons, it’s time the state followed the private sector’s lead. In the case of state government, a less expensive retirement plan for public employees means savings for taxpayers footing the bill. Taxpayers don’t have a guaranteed retirement; why should they guarantee the retirement of a state employee? Making the switch to a defined contributions plan would help the state deal with its current pension woes and create a more just system for taxpayers. Continuing to reduce payments to the pension system—or skipping payments altogether, as has been the case in years past—will only increase costs later. That’s almost a sure thing.
With new labor legislation, unions will have their cake and eat yours too by Rachel Culbertson
overing under the radar for the past two presidential terms, labor leaders have been hard at work cooking up a recipe for revolutionary labor reform. Their soup du jour: the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This seemingly small piece of federal legislation, whose passage could be just around the corner, is promising to provide major consequences for worker freedom and economic prosperity. Republican strategist Mark McKinnon has called EFCA “the most radical rewrite of labor legislation since the 1930s.” Knowing that it wouldn’t pass under the previous administration, labor leaders have made this bill their top legislative priority now that a new man is in the White House. The ingredients of EFCA are meant to better allow workers the “free choice” to unionize, but the means for getting there are rather unsavory. In its original form, the main feature of EFCA would have allowed a union to be officially recognized after a simply majority of employees publicly signed authorization cards. The current practice of holding a secret-
“To those who value ‘the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action,’ there’s something wrong with EFCA’s recipe.” ballot election to decide whether to unionize would no longer be necessary. This is known as the “card check” provision of the bill. If, while employers and the union are negotiating a contract, they cannot come to an agreement, EFCA would subject employers and unionized employees to binding arbitration in which government officials could create and impose a final contract. You’re probably wondering where the “free choice” part of the bill comes into play. According to Webster, “freedom” is the absence of necessity, coercion, or con-
straint in choice or action; liberation from slavery or restraint from the power of another. To those who value “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action,” there’s something wrong with EFCA’s recipe. Not only is the elimination of a secret-ballot election undemocratic, it leaves the door open for serious coercion and intimidation by both union representatives and fellow employees in favor of unionization. This fundamental flaw has not gone unnoticed. Citizens and congressmen alike have cried out against the elimination of the need for secret-ballot elections, which was enough to stop the bill from progressing in the Senate. Consequently, lawmakers have been crafting compromise language to gather enough votes for some version of EFCA to pass. Continued on next page
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
of a Freedom Loving Mom… by Judy Parkins
Snakes, Pranksters and political rascals
t is curious to me at how romanticized family camping trips are in our culture. I admit I love to look at my sister-in-law’s family photo albums of 17 years of camping. But what is not captured in the photos is the stress and tension that inevitably happens each year over…something! Summer of 2009 was no exception. I was walking back to our campsite from my $2.25 shower. It was pitch black and I was juggling my wet towel, dirty clothes, toiletries bag, hair dryer (yes, I take my hair dryer!) and flashlight when I walked into a personal hell. A huge, three foot black snake slithered from the grass onto the path right in front of me. I know in my head that it is not personal. He is not really there to get me. In the moment, however, I cannot think clear enough to hold onto that thought. Or the thought that he is more scared of me than I am of him. No. I scream like Satan has grabbed my ankle, jump up and down, and blindly run. I escaped with my life, just barely, and returned to camp. My new 12 year old step-daughter, Rebecca, was sitting at our picnic table. The other 15 family members were across the cul-de-sac at my brother’s campfire. Having just survived a life-and-death experience, I was distracted and didn’t acknowledge how odd it was that she was sitting there alone, nor did I feel like chatting. I simply said, “Good night, honey. I’ll see you in the morning.” She followed me as I walked to my tent. I reached down to grab the zipper and grabbed hold of a snake! Several things went through my mind instantaneously. Kill Rebecca. Kill the snake. Don’t show fear. Through gritted teeth I quietly ordered, “Get that snake out of here or I will slap you into next week.” (Sometimes fear does overcome love.) Her reply: “Geez, Judy, you don’t have to get so mean.” She had no idea how mean I wanted to be.
My anger scared her and the whole truth came pouring out. While I was in the shower my brother, my sons and both my nephews decided it would be hilarious to put this ‘little’ garter snake in my tent. Even as she was talking, they were at the campfire waiting to “hear the show.” As their lookout and scout, Rebecca was to report on the glorious details of my fearful reaction. I told Rebecca, “Do you want to lose your cell phone until you are 18 years old or do you want to earn $5? I’ll pay you $5 to go back to the campfire and tell them I did not react. Tell them I calmly asked you to throw it in the weeds and then I went into my tent. Yes, I’ll pay you to lie.” Smart girl that she is, she took the money option. The next morning at breakfast I said nothing. The boys caved like cheap lawn chairs. They had to brag about catching the snake. They giggled re-telling how they had put the snake in several different places before deciding on the front-door zipper. They rattled on and on about how clever and funny they were. But then they said something very interesting. They told me they had forgotten I was afraid of snakes and that it was Rebecca who assured them that I was still very afraid. She was the one that came up with the idea of putting it in my tent. She offered to stay with the snake so she could watch my reaction. She was in on the whole thing! A few nights later while climbing into bed after a “free” shower, I found myself thinking about things like loyalty, “playing both sides,’ ‘jumping ship,’ and “people pleasing.” Rebecca is 12 and the new kid on the
block. Who can blame her for joining the boys in their fun? The minute she saw that their plan had backfired, however, and she was in trouble, she positioned herself to make sure the blame went “to those guys.” She is 12 and has an excuse. Politicians in Washington, D.C.? I’m waiting to see how creative they can be in shifting the blame for unprincipled policies that are guaranteed to “not get the reaction” they want. Redistributing wealth. Making deals with “favored” financial institutions. Releasing terrorists back into communities. Forcing business closures through “cap-and-trade.” Second stimulus. The tricks politicians play in forcing bad and unwelcome policies down an unwilling public’s collective throat are far more dangerous than the “innocent” pranks of loving but immature adolescents. People are beginning to grit their teeth and quietly say, “No more.”
Unions have their cake continued from page 10 . . .
about could force companies to accept an agreement they can’t afford, potentially causing them to close their doors. The provision would be no better for workers, either. Government officials would dictate what employees gain—or lose—in their own contract, without their approval. Even the late George Meaney, former president of the AFL-CIO, had called arbitration an “abrogation of freedom.” Just why is labor so insistent on getting this bill passed?
hurting for business. Union bosses anticipate that EFCA will drastically increase union membership and influence, creating what journalist Michelle Malkin has called “a labor empire.” As far as our nation’s economic recovery is concerned, such union monopoly is not likely to provide any assistance. Labor scholar James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation found that “unions have the same effect on business investment as does a 33 percentage point corporate
Vice President Joe Biden, who touts union power as the salvation of our nation’s economy, has said that the best way for the U.S. to strengthen the middle class is to see labor unions grow. However, this bill may really be a simple solution to organized labor’s largest problem: declining labor membership. Union membership for the private sector has dropped from 35% in the 1950s to just 7.6% in 2008. Because antiquated labor models are proving insufficient for today’s global market, unions themselves are
income tax increase.” Just imagine what such a burden will do to businesses across the country. When it comes to the Employee Free Choice Act “soup du jour,” who actually gets the meal and who’s left behind to pick up the tab? With employers under the thumb of onerous government regulation and workers faced with compulsory union membership where their best interests may not really be in mind, it’s doubtful that anyone other than unions will benefit from this bill.
Now it appears—much to union leaders’ dismay— secret-ballot elections will not be eliminated from the process for union organizing. Even though this change in legislation has come as a disappointment, union leaders remain optimistic that EFCA will still provide dramatic changes for labor law even without the “card check” provision. After all, unions spent huge amounts of money to help elect a Democratic White House and Senate this last election cycle. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the nation’s largest and most powerful, has boasted of spending $60.7 million on the Obama campaign alone. You can probably guess what sort of payback unions expect. Because “card check” will likely be dropped from EFCA, lawmakers must include at least two other provisions to appease labor leaders: a shorter union election period (in which unions have access to workers on company time and property) and, most troubling, binding arbitration. Such a provision is dangerous, at best. Binding arbitration gives the government one more opportunity to stick their spoon where it doesn’t belong—in the free market. Allowing government bureaucrats to make the final contract decision for a business they know little
The Washington Supreme Court’s 2009 statistics (Year To Date) by Michael Reitz In July the state Supreme Court concluded its Spring Term. With that milestone, we introduced a new feature at the Supreme Court of Washington Blog. Every term we will track the written opinions and votes of each justice, and will provide a spreadsheet with a case-by-case breakout. At the end of the year, we will provide information about how each justice votes on various key issues. A few trends are worth noting in the charts below.
Number of Written Opinions by Justice Justice Alexander C.Johnson Madsen Sanders Chambers Owens Fairhurst J.Johnson Stephens
Majority Opinions 2 4 8 5 10 3 5 0 10
Concurring Opinions 1 0 9 1 0 1 2 1 2
Total Opinions 6 7 22 14 11 5 11 2 13
Dissents 3 3 5 8 1 1 4 1 1
Frequency in the Majority Majority Total % in Majority Votes* Votes Alexander 37 47 79% C.Johnson 40 47 85% Madsen 41 47 87% Sanders 33 46 72% Chambers 41 47 87% Owens 43 47 91% Fairhurst 38 45 84% J.Johnson 37 47 79% Stephens 37 40 93% *Including concurring votes **Including cases that were unanimous in results only Justice
Unanimous Opinions** 1 2 1 3 7 2 3 0 4
Number of Decisions by Vote Count Splits 9-0 8-1 8-0 7-2 6-3 6-2 5-4
Number of Cases 22 3 1 4 10 1 7
% of Total 46% 6% 2% 8% 21% 2% 15%
A few observations: Justice Debra Stephens did not participate in a number of cases where she joined the court after the case was argued, or cases in which she participated as a judge on the Court of Appeals before she was elevated to the Supreme Court. Even so, the court’s junior member has been busy, writing ten majority opinions this year—the most for any justice (a position she shares with Justice Tom Chambers, who also wrote ten). Justice Barbara Madsen takes top marks as the most prolific justice, writing 22 opinions so far, while Justice Richard Sanders continues to enjoy his role as the court’s inveterate dissenter. Sanders authored eight dissenting opinions, including a case where he dissented to his own opinion. (The case, State v. Daniels, was decided in 2007, with Sanders as the majority author. The Ninth Circuit subsequently
ruled on a similar issue, but reached the opposite conclusion. The state Supreme Court granted a motion for reconsideration in Daniels, but upheld Sanders’ original ruling, with Sanders dissenting.) Chief Justice Gerry Alexander’s somewhat low numbers can be discounted due to the myriad administrative tasks associated with his position. Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, which sees many narrow 5-4 decisions, the state Supreme Court enjoys a number of strong majority opinions, with nearly half of its rulings unanimous or 9-0 in the outcome. Justices will frequently concur in the result of an opinion, while employing a separate rationale for reaching his or her conclusion. (Note: These numbers are freely available for publication; we only ask that you cite the Supreme Court of Washington Blog as the source.)
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Honduras stands up against Hugo Chavez
And three lessons from the world’s negative reaction by Trent England
hat do you do if you’re a term-limited president of a Latin American country? Mel Zelaya, who until June 28, 2009, was President of Honduras, decided to call a referendum to rewrite the nation’s Constitution. While he had no legal authority to call such a referendum, he was simply following the path blazed by his friend Hugo Chávez, the anti-American far-left President of Venezuela. The Honduran Supreme Court ruled Zelaya’s actions unconstitutional. The nation’s Attorney General agreed that the referendum was illegal. A majority in the nation’s Congress, including many members of his own political party, opposed Zelaya’s actions. Nevertheless, with support from Chávez, Zelaya determined to carry out the illegal referendum that could allow him to extend his term in office and potentially recreate the entire Honduran government in his own image. Enforcing the Supreme Court’s order, the Honduran military (which normally distributes ballots in the nation’s elections) seized the referendum ballots. Zelaya gathered a mob, broke into the military base, stole the ballots, and announced that his own supporters would conduct and oversee the election. To many, this looked like the beginning of a dangerous struggle. After all, Zelaya would clearly win an election run by his own mob and boycotted by many Hondurans. With that, he and his supporters would claim the right to draw up a new constitution. At best, the result would be instability, at worst, a violent and perhaps extended clash between the forces of law and the forces of Zelaya backed by Chávez’s Venezuela. The other branches of the Honduran government determined not to roll over. The Supreme Court issued an order to arrest Zelaya and declare the office of president vacant (their Constitution unfortunately does not establish a process for impeachment). Zelaya may or may not have initially agreed to step aside in exchange for not
being tried as a criminal, though he denies this. Acting on the Supreme Court’s order, the Honduran military arrested Zelaya and flew him out of the country. They were concerned that if he remained in Honduras, he would become a flashpoint and a martyr. The Congress appointed a new president according to Honduran law. The nation’s Constitution remains intact, with regular elections—including for president—scheduled for November. A lawless wannabe strongman has been sidelined, and most Hondurans are glad that he’s gone. Nevertheless, “world opinion” is overwhelmingly in Zelaya’s favor. Some of the criticism is nakedly ideological, driven by a mix of Chávez cronies and other law-benders made nervous by the fall of one of their own. In the United States, a leftist pundit called for “solidarity” with Zelaya. Yet most of the coup condemnations and cooing over Zelaya sound like echoes rather than arguments. The conventional wisdom has settled, and the only way Honduras wins and Zelaya loses is if Honduras can run out the clock, somehow protecting the status quo until the nation’s November elections. It’s always more pleasant to learn from the mistakes and misfortunes of others.
Defending liberty: EFF and the Electoral College by Diana Cieslak
ow should presidents be elected?” EFF’s Citizenship & Governance Center will keep on asking the question so long as the stability of the United States is endangered by the campaign known as National Popular Vote (NPV). NPV continues its stealth effort to do away with the Electoral College by entering states into an interstate compact to cast their electoral votes for the national popular vote winner, regardless of who wins in their own state. Five states have enacted legislation to join the compact, three have rejected it, and legislation has been introduced in all but one of the remaining states.
NPV campaign misleads
The NPV campaign relies on public ignorance in order to claim overwhelming public and political support. Most people don’t know much about the Electoral College, so when asked if they support doing away with it, they say “sure”. Interestingly, EFF’s fact checking has discovered discrepancies in NPV numbers on their website (www.NationalPopularVote.com)—legislators counted twice as supporters, the same legislative chambers counted two years in a row, retired legislators listed as legislative supporters. What’s more, NPV only updates the numbers that shift in their favor, leaving out some important develop-
ments in the national conversation— a conversation NPV would rather we not have. For example, Oklahoma recently passed a resolution in favor of the Electoral College. To the east, Rhode Island did an about-face in their 2009 session. In 2008 both legislative chambers passed NPV’s bill only to have it vetoed by Gov. Carcieri on constitutional grounds. This year the bill was reintroduced and defeated in the Rhode Island House—a fact not mentioned in NPV’s updates. While claiming to complete American “democracy”, NPV provides misleading information on its own campaign.
EFF informs debate
To counteract the misinformation and to elevate and inform the debate, EFF has launched a coalition of think tanks, professors, authors, and policymakers from around the country. Coalition members engaged to educate legislators and the public in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Nevada earlier this year. In every case, NPV’s effort stalled once the facts got out. In
The Honduras example offers three lessons that are as true in state and local politics as in national statecraft:
Images matter. If it looks like a coup, people
will call it a coup. That first word-picture—armed soldiers forcing their way into the presidential bedroom to seize a pajama-clad head of state and whisk him away as the nation wakes up to discover what happened— has stuck. That picture has indeed proved more powerful than thousands of words about Zelaya’s crimes and further criminal intentions.
Words matter. The “coup” label has proved unshakable as the shorthand description for Zelaya’s removal. Surely some of this is the work of Honduras’s enemies in Venezuela and elsewhere on the far-left. But some of the blame must go to the dictionary itself. “Coup” is an easy shorthand way to describe a leader being forcibly deposed and kicked out of his country. There’s no comparable word that captures what really happened: leader-turned-crook is forcibly seized, deposed, and expatriated, all on the basis of a court order. The world has a short attention span.
Everybody flipped to the Honduras channel when they heard something interesting was on, but most quickly flipped away. Honduras versus the Michael Jackson funeral wasn’t a fair fight. This has probably hurt Honduras in the court of public opinion by leaving most nonHondurans with only their first impression. After all, if it’s guys with guns versus guy in jammies, most people are going to root for the guy in the jammies. Only those who took a second look realized that even if Mel Zelaya is the underdog, Hugo Chavez is holding the leash. The short attention span, on the other hand, might save Honduras. In the week after Zelaya’s removal, it seemed impossible that Honduras could stand up to such withering verbal fire from the rest of the world. Today, the issue is off the front pages and, while opinion seems to have changed little, interest has waned. Here’s to hoping the next time Honduras makes page A1, above the fold, it’s for the results of peaceful and legitimate elections this fall.
Nevada, even chapters of the ACLU and the NAACP testified against NPV. EFF’s goal is to get trustworthy information and helpful analysis into the hands of policymakers. They need to know that the Electoral College provides moderation, stability, and representation; that it was designed by some of the greatest minds in history after careful study and long deliberation; and that it seals off election debacles and prevents widespread fraud and corruption. They need to understand how the Electoral College protects minority voices, forcing candidates to build broad national coalitions that appeal to many diverse viewpoints, rather than just the radical fringe. But policymakers aren’t the only ones who need to know. EFF wrote an article for the most recent edition of Townhall Magazine to educate citizens about this key constitutional issue. The public must have the opportunity to carefully consider what’s at stake before it’s too late. NPV and its lobbyists continue to work away, but the American people are beginning to catch on.
Read the Townhall Magazine article by visiting cg.effwa.org.
Immigration Reform: by Scott Dilley
The issue of immigration reform has been one of the hot topics for at least the past decade. In fact, debates about U.S. immigration and citizenship date back even to the writing of the Constitution, which declares that the U.S. president must be a “natural born citizen.” The issue took the form of literacy tests and quotas during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and in 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act to update federal immigration and employment laws. The United States now has an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, and President Obama, like President Bush before him, has pledged to address the issue. While EFF does not engage in policy work on immigration, we recognize the importance of the issue. As the guest columns found below reveal, even people who are traditionally on the conservative side of the political spectrum disagree about how to deal with immigration. Should people who are here illegally be rounded up and deported? How would that impact businesses and families? What is the best approach, in your opinion? I encourage you to carefully read the two perspectives and respond. We would like to publish some of your thoughts on the matter in our next issue of Living Liberty. Please send your letters to Steven Maggi, Living Liberty editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or PO Box 552, Olympia, WA 98507. This space is provided for commentary and debate and the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. Furthermore, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation does not vouch for the accuracy or the fairness of the statements contained in either perspective.
“If you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention” by Craig Keller
hat bumper sticker wisdom defined two classes of voters who were recently offered the “Respect for Law” I-1043 petition. Although insufficient signatures were gathered to place this legislation on the November ballot, thousands of people graduated from the class of “oblivious” to that of “outraged.” “Respect for Law” sought to mandate the use of a no-charge Social Security number (SSN) verification tool by employers, labor unions and governments toward mere compliance with existing immigration law. Known as “E-Verify,” this web-based tool is offered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for rapid confirmation of a job applicant’s work authorization status. Employer enrollment in E-Verify requires only 10 minutes at www.uscis.gov. In 1986, Congress reasoned that if a “pathway to citizenship” were to be granted to 3 million illegal aliens, then employers who wittingly and unwittingly lured them into the United States must surely become partners in verifying the employment eligibility of all future hires. Thereby was born the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. For 23 years now, employers have filled out millions of I-9s upon cursory review of both genuine and counterfeit identity documents presented by job applicants. A completed I-9 is filed away by the employer for three years, available for inspection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Today’s 12 million illegal alien wards of the U.S. taxpayer are proof that President Reagan’s intent in signing
the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act has been betrayed. He bargained away amnesty for 3 million illegal aliens for the ineffectual paper Form I-9. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates 277,000 of those 12 million illegal aliens reside in Washington state. Their statewide annual taxpayer subsidy is estimated at $800 million and, nationwide, $33 billion. In 1996, after 10 years of rising illegal entry and systematic defrauding of the I-9 “verification” process, Congress authorized “E-Verify.” The system allows employers to check name and SSN combinations against source visa and SSN records, thereby frustrating SSN thieves. Today, E-Verify allows ample opportunity for employees to demand correction of any errors in government records. Even the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rebuffed obstructionist challenges to E-Verify. E-Verify is now required in Arizona, 11 other states and the city of Lakewood, Washington. After 10 years of availability, every citizen should be outraged that Congress has stalled its mandatory nationwide implementation. An embarrassing tussle between Democrat and Republican Party marketeers for political supremacy within a racial minority is to blame. During the Clinton Administration, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began alerting employers who remitted Social Security taxes to nonexistent accounts. Every year employers submit approximately 10 million W-2 wage reports on which the name and SSN do not
correspond. In 2006 the SSA mailed “no-match” letters to 5,002 employers in Washington state, identifying 55,022 employees with SSN “errors.” In an effort to tighten immigration enforcement, the Bush Administration in 2007 issued a rule requiring employers to audit suspect I-9 and W-2 records and to discharge workers unable to rectify their “no-match” condition. The AFLCIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce together successfully challenged the rule in federal court. Now the SSA is enjoined from assisting employers with correction of their records via “no-match” letters. Around these political and legal obstructions, Respect Washington introduced the “Respect for Law” initiative for direct citizen approval. So long as Congress and the president remain derelict, this legislation will continue to serve as our model in fighting corruption and protecting employment for legal Washington workers. Best for America would be passage of the national E-Verify mandate included in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 2892). Please encourage Congress to preserve this critical element by phoning the U.S. Capitol at (866) 220-0044. In the meantime, citizens should support E-Verifying businesses that daily prove their respect for the taxpayer and legal American worker. Search for E-Verifiers in your town here: www.smartbusinesspractices.com/ pilot/. Regrettably, a symbiotic relationship exists among (1) employers who cling to paper I-9 “verification” to
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
maintain plausible deniability, (2) enterprises that trade in humans, drugs, forgeries and money laundering, and even (3) the state of Washington, which provides illegal aliens with driver’s licenses, medical care, housing and education. They falsely lament a “brokenness” that has benefitted their business and political models for decades. They behave as takers—as “economic men” and not as “citizen men” constrained by a social contract. While some participants in this coalition seek to maximize profits through externalization of employee benefits costs and unlimited access to third-world wages, others seek wealth redistribution through mob democracy at the ballot box. While one protested big government at TEA Parties, the other marched in Seattle’s streets
demanding “free” medical care. Despite that clash, both now lobby for “comprehensive” amnesty and betrayal of our social contract embodied in the Constitution and rule of law—all for 30 pieces of silver. Frankly, does our treasury still have two coins to rub together? Outraged yet?
Craig Keller is chairman of Respect Washington, a Chartered Financial Analyst, and an Economics BA graduate of Hillsdale College. He may be contacted at Craig@RespectWashington.us.
lasting reforms involve more than just enforcement by Dan Fazio
omprehensive immigration reform last happened in 1986, and it’s a safe bet that an overhaul of our immigration system will be debated and voted on sometime in President Obama’s first term. Today’s immigrants are tomorrow’s voters and community leaders, so it is vital that our immigration laws reflect the core values of our democracy, while also serving our national economic interest in a world economy. In short, we need to get it right. By far the most controversial part of immigration reform is what to do with people who are in the United States illegally. Should these undocumented people be forced to leave the country, or should they be able to pay a fine and back taxes, demonstrate English proficiency and receive legal permanent residence? To many, the solution seems easy. They broke the law, and now they should just leave. This sentiment reflects one very important core American value—we are a nation of laws. Are there others? Aren’t we also a welcoming nation built on immigration? Doesn’t it serve our national interest to bring in the best, brightest and hardest workers to compete in a global economy? How do we fix the problem of illegal immigration? In 1986, approximately 3 million undocumented people received amnesty. We thought we fixed the problem, but 20 years later the number of undocumented people is about four times that number. How do we prevent the same thing from happening again 20 years from now? It’s relatively easy: make it easier for people to come here legally and harder for them to come here illegally. No one would resort to illegal immigration if there were a workable legal alternative. People are willing to pay for the right to obtain a legal, temporary work visa. By tightening the border, we can make it more costly for people to enter our nation illegally. The combination of increased border security and an easing of guest worker immigration systems is the logical way to go. Employers are pushing for temporary immigration visas for people who want to come here to do the jobs American workers cannot or will not do. At the high end of the employment ladder, companies like Microsoft and Boeing need the best and brightest employees to compete in a world economy of computers and aviation. It serves our national interest to bring people here to contribute to our world leadership in these areas. At the lower end of the employment ladder, we simply don’t have enough workers who want to perform migrant labor in our agricultural industry or wash dishes and make beds in our hospitality industry. Farmers in Washington are paying harvest workers an average
of $15 per hour this year, and even in these tough economic times, there is little or no interest in these jobs. Washington farmers are competing with farmers in Mexico, where the wages are about $1 per hour, and China, where the wages are less than half that. When we tell farmers to “just pay more,” we should also ask how quickly we want American agriculture to go out of business. If you enjoy relying on the Middle East for oil, you will really love it when you must buy apples and cherries from China. Jobs are the magnet for illegal immigration, but employers are not border patrol agents. Employers want to hire the most qualified people. Our president and others have stated that employers are intentionally hiring undocumented workers so that they can deny basic employment rights. I am a representative of employers, and I find such sentiments to be crass and disingenuous. Right now, the government is hiring hundreds of new inspectors and spending millions of dollars to inspect businesses in an effort to find employers who are denying rights to immigrant workers; and they have been largely unsuccessful in this endeavor. Employers want a system where they can check employment documents before they hire a worker and turn the applicant away if the documents don’t pass muster. The current government program—E-Verify— does not do that. E-Verify requires employers to begin a background investigation, after the worker is hired, that could take a month or more. E-Verify does not address the problem of document theft. If a worker presents a name and Social Security number that belongs to someone else, the E-Verify system will typically authorize that person to work. The only real way to guarantee that only legally documented workers are hired would be to establish a national database of all citizens and visa holders, as many countries have done. Workers would receive an identification card with a magnetic information strip, and employers could swipe the card and offer a job, or not. Of course, such systems are not very popular with many Americans because of privacy concerns. Can you see why immigration reform is so tricky?
Dan Fazio is the director of employer services for the Washington Farm Bureau and the chair of Immigration Works Washington, a coalition of employers who are working on immigration reform. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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