Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The GIVE Act

This is a letter I sent to my elected officials today.

I am writing to ask that you oppose the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, or the GIVE Act. I think it is unnecessary to encourage volunteerism in a the country with the highest rate of volunteerism in the world. I also believe the act is unconstututional, poorly crafted and ill-considered in and of itself.

I think the information collection bit of the act is a violation of people's privacy.Specifically the information collection referred to in Subtitle G Sec 1710 and SEC. 190A. REPORT ON PARTICIPANT INFORMATIONPart of which states:

"‘(a) In General- The Corporation shall annually collect and report to the appropriate committees of Congress any demographic and socioeconomic information on the participants of all programs or projects receiving assistance under the national service laws.

‘(b) Information Collected and Reported-

‘(1) PARTICIPANTS AGES 18 AND OLDER- The information collected and reported under this section for participants ages 18 and older shall include age, gender, race, ethnicity, annual income, employment status, disability status, veteran status, marital status, educational attainment, and household size, type, and income.

‘(2) PARTICIPANTS UNDER AGE 18- The information collected and reported under this section for participants under age 18 shall only include age, gender, race, ethnicity, and eligibility for free or reduced price lunch under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.).

‘(c) Public Availability- The information collected and reported under this section shall be available to the public.

‘(d) Confidentiality- The information collected and reported under this section shall not contain any personally identifiable information of any participant.’."

You will forgive me if I am not confident of the government's willingness or ability to collect this information-which may be publicly accessed-without assigning personally identifiable information to it. If there is no way to verify the collected information, then it is merely a propaganda tool for those who may wish to influence the program for personal or political gain. If there is a way to have personally identifiable information connected to the publicly released information, then it is a violation of the 4th amendment regarding privacy.

I think that the restriction on participation in religious activities while participating in programs funded by this act is in violation of our 1st amendment rights by placing restrictions on both a participant's religious activities as well as their political speech.


‘(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

‘(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

‘(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.

‘(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.

‘(4) Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.

‘(5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office.

‘(6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.

‘(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.

‘(8) Providing a direct benefit to--

‘(A) a business organized for profit;

‘(B) a labor organization;

‘(C) a partisan political organization;

‘(D) a nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 except that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative; and

‘(E) an organization engaged in the religious activities described in paragraph (7), unless Corporation assistance "

I believe the prohibition on participating in or conducting a religious service while a participant in this program would be detrimental to the character of our citizens as well as causing many of the fine leadership and volunteer programs that are currently in existence such as the Boy Scouts of America and the 4-H to be stripped of participants as both those programs have a strong religious although non-denominational component.

This requirement would also prevent parents from sending their child to religious instruction such as catechism classes or AWANA programs or even attending church as a family or asking their child to say grace at the table while they are a participant in this program. Clearly it is restricting the freedom of the people to worship freely.

Section 8E may be an attempt to address this objection, but it is not specifically spelled out in what way it is addressing that concern and may be completely ignored by an overzealous enforcer of the program's requirements. The semi-colon in section 8D may be an indicator that participation in a religious organization on one's own initiative is not included in the reference of 8E and the words "one's own initiative" would restrict a parent's authority to require their child to participate in a church program if the child did not want to. Section 8D is questionable on the grounds that any enforcement activities must be based on law enforcement's ability to determine at whose initiative those otherwise proscibed activities took place.

I further believe that the rumors I have heard of the intent to make participation in this program mandatory violate the 13th amendment which states :"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

This legislation is unnecessary and wasteful of our tax money at a time of financial crisis. It is unconstitutional and absolutely brimming with the potential for abuse as well. This is a thoroughly reprehensible bill and it should not pass.

"Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?"~Jer 2:14

Monday, March 30, 2009


I have had a request to change the color scheme of my blog to make it easier on the eyes. As I have had some discomfort myself since getting our new flat screen monitor, (I much preferred the old one for the sharpness of the display) I thought perhaps it is time for a change. I did like the black background, but with this new monitor it is almost impossible to avoid the strobing affect while maintaining readability. I don't know what I think about this yet. There may be further experimentation to come.
If you've got comments or suggestions, make them now.

"Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant."~Psalm 119:76

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Entitlement Question to Rep. King

This is one of the questions from the call referenced in the previous post.

One question to Mr. King was '...You say reducing capital gains taxes is the right way to rebuild the economy. David Walker and the Peter G Peterson Foundation say that the upcoming unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs are the bigger threat.' "Do you propose to cut spending in the area of entitlement programs and how are you going to address that?"

Mr. King's answer was to say that Mr. Bush had expended his political capital in attempting to remove some entitlement spending during his administration to no avail. He said he would be supportive of what could be brought to reform Medicare, social security and others, but he's turned his focus more on real tax reform. He then went on to say that we are in a crisis and leaping off the brink of the abyss into a socialist economy. He wants to know how we can get this thing to the point where we can make some positive changes.
He believes two "transformational" changes would put us back on the road to fiscal responsibility: a fair tax, and giving parents school choice.

First, I don't believe a fair tax (by which I think he may be referring to a flat tax or the consumer based sales tax model - but he didn't say really, so perhaps he, or someone in his office will correct this if I am mistaken) will ever be passed because the tax code as it stands is such an excellent tool in the hands of government/law enforcement. If we cannot stop some criminal in any other way, we have the get-them-through-their-taxes option. The current tax code is longer than the Bible. I believe that it is now, nearly impossible for anyone to file their taxes in a way that is above reproach. It's a catch - 22 in the system, a sword of Damocles, if you will. It does need to be changed, but I don't think anyone who currently holds an ounce of power in the government will really vote to change it to a simple and easily understood system. I sincerely hope to be proved wrong at Congress' earliest possible convenience.

Second, school choice is a wonderful thing. I am currently utilizing a school choice program for my own son. Yay to school choice. So what? Federal funding of education is an entitlement program. One does not get rid of entitlement programs by continuing to fund adapted forms of them.

Put the states in charge of their educational systems and have a federal competency test. Education is important, but from all that I've seen and read, the two most important factors in a child's education are parental involvement and good teachers. Not extracurriculars, not fancy facilities, not athletic programs, not the many bureaucratic layers necessary to ensure compliance with state and federal guidelines, not even community support - parental involvement and good teachers.
Putting the states in charge of their own educational systems brings the choices closer to home and begets parental involvement. Here's a really revolutionary and transformational idea for Mr. King, let schools fire teachers when they need to be fired. The NEA has been holding this country hostage long enough. Teaching is not any more noble than any other job which serves it's community.

A national competency test would assure us that when a student has obtained a high school diploma he/she will be able to read, write and do math with a certain level of competence whether they were taught in Maine or Hawaii. That would be transformational and reduce a large entitlement program.

Thirdly, yes, I agree we, as a nation, appear to be ecstatically leaping off the edge of fiscal irresponsibility and into the abyss of socialism. However, refusing to address the entitlement programs we have on the basis of pointing out the fiscally and philosophically perilous entitlement programs we are about to be adding is illogical. Don't vote to add the new ones and tackle the old ones head on. Yes, that means you risk being labeled as heartless and voted out of office in the next election. That's what character is, doing the right thing regardless of popular opinion and personal risk. We are a republic, not a democracy, for just that reason. Because popular opinion is not always right. While a congressman/woman does need to be responsive to their constituency, they also need to be aware that their constituencies do not have all the information they need to make good decisions in all matters legislative-that's why they hired you-to do the right thing for them and the country, to oppose their wishes when your information is better.

I thank you Mr. King for taking that question. My observations are not those of a republican, just a conservative. I thank you for making yourself available for the conference and for your service to the country as an elected Representative.

I'll get to more of the questions from this call in another post.

"And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle."~1 Sam 17:28

Thursday, March 26, 2009

GOP Conference Calls

My apologies for the lengthy break between posts. I have been distracted by my non-blogging life of late. I hope that is settling and I will be able to post more consistently for this next bit. I would like your help to decide about a new opportunity that has been presented to me recently.

On March 16th, I received an e-mail from the House Republican Conference. It said that they are reaching out to blogs who do not currently receive their Congressional updates and videos.
They also extend invitations to exclusive blogger conference calls with House members on hot topics being discussed in Washington. I participated in my first such conference call with Reps. King, McCotter and McMorris Rodgers on the 25th.
Some of the topics addressed were the strategy of the current administration, the debt, increases in spending, entitlement spending, AIG, and etc.
To hear the call click here. This call lasted about 30 minutes. Mr. McCotter's remarks starting at 27 minutes, 45 seconds are refreshing.
"Our truths are self-evident, not relative"

I'm not quite sure why I was invited to participate in these calls as I am not a republican, but rather a conservative.
Let me know what you think. Is this sort of conference call valuable?
If so, and I decide to continue to participate and post on them, Would you prefer that I write a transcript of the call, post a link to the call itself, as I've done here, or just excerpt bits that I find relevant?

"The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame. "~Zeph 3:5