Benefits of civil society should not be called “Rights”.

Thanks to The Des Moines Register for publishing the essay by Peter Funt about the misuse of the term “rights” by Democratic candidates for President.  (See link to Register essay below.)  The term “right”, without qualification, should be reserved for natural or fundamental rights that are also called “negative rights” – rights that place no burder or obligation on others.  The most notable of these negative rights are those included in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution.  They include freedom of the press and of speech (You can print or say anything but I don’t have to read or listen it or pay for it.); and freedom of association (You can associate or not associate with whomever you please, but you can’t force me to associate with you.); among others.
On the other hand, we also have “civil rights” or “government granted rights”.  These are called “positive rights” since they do impose a burden or obligation on others.  These rights are granted by governments through our legislative processes, and may be taken away in the same manner.  They are often granted based on the wealth of a society and its ability to pay the cost.  Common examples of these government created rights include basic education, medical care, and food.  In order for a person to receive these benefits, the force of government is used to make others pay the cost.
I would prefer that these government created positive rights be instead called “benefits” of a civil society.  Positive rights can be granted by government only if and when society has the ability to pay, and society’s ability to pay is not unlimited.  For example, I don’t think any reasonable person believes they have a right to unlimited health care paid for by taxpayers, So if our Democratic candidates for President want to be completely honest, they should talk about the benefits they believe should paid for by a civil society, not simply about rights that should be conferred without regard to cost or limits.
Advertisements

Congress has the power to prohibit states from giving special incentives to specific businesses.

The Des Moines Register recently published an editorial that showed how out-of control Iowa and other states are in giving incentives to businesses to locate in their state.  To help reverse this situation, Congress should exercise its Constitutional power to “…regulate commerce… among the several states…” and should limit states’ ability to bribe companies to locate in their state.  States should be prohibited from giving custom incentives to specific businesses to locate in their state.  They should only be allowed to use schemes that provide uniform incentives to all companies that locate their business or otherwise create new jobs in that state.

Link to Register editorial:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/11/20/amazon-apple-corporate-iowa-workers-education-environment-bribing-business-workforce-jobs-money-tax/2061418002/

Church free speech okay – no charitable tax deduction for donors

Churches and their leaders should be free to  speak out for or against candidates for political office.  Our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech for all, and especially for political or religious speech.
What our government should NOT do is allow a charitable tax deduction to donors who contribute money to churches that advocate for or against specific candidates.   If churches want to be treated just like other organizations that advocate for or against specific candidates, donors should be willing to give up their charitable tax deduction for contributions they make to those churches.
If churches are allowed to advocate for or against candidates and donors are given a charitable tax deduction for contributions made to such churches, then it would only be fair to give tax deductions to all donors to political organizations.  Better to not give the charitable deduction to any of them.
Related Register article:

Repeal Iowa Constitutional amendment – dont’ pay farmers rent to not pollute.

Governor Brandstad said he is open to increasing the sales tax to improve water quality in Iowa. (Des Moines Register, 5/3/2016, “Branstad open to sales tax for water quality” – link below) Specifically, he wants to implement the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreations Trust Fund. Under the Iowa Constitutional amendment passed in 2010, the next three-eights of a penny increase in the sales tax must go to the Trust Fund. He suggested offsetting the tax increase by a decrease in the income tax – to make the change revenue neutral.
We all want clean water and nice recreation opportunities. But, what I don’t want is to pay farmers rent to not pollute. It appears that up to 50% of the tax collected could go to farmers to entice them to not pollute. The Constitutional amendment was a mistake. People want clean water and good recreational opportunities, but the way the Consitutional amendment was structured was a mistake. I think most Iowans voted their emotions, but would really not agree with the structure of the amendment.  We need to repeal this amendment.

Grassley wrong to not hold hearings on Supreme Court Justice nomination.

The announcement by Senator Grassley, (and other Senate Republican leaders), that the Senate Judiciary Committee would not even hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, before a nominee is even announced, sets a bad precedent.  The Senate may have the power to not even consider a nominee, but what is to stop this kind of thing from getting even further out of control?  If a Democrat is elected President this November, and the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, will the Senate withhold its consent for four more years in order, “…to protect the will of the American people…”?  The Senate would have the power to do that too.  And the Democrats would do the same to a Republican President’s nominee just as soon as they got the chance.  The Republicans, and Senator Grassely, should hold the hearings and then vote the nominee up or down.

Supreme court was wrong on Obamacare!

I will respect the ruling of the Supreme Court in upholding the subsidies under Obamacare, but the decision was wrong.

Those who drafted, supported, and voted for Obama care clearly intended to withhold money from those states that did not set up their own state health insurance exchange – just like many other laws that require states to meet certain requirements in order to get federal money.  In this case, they intentionally wrote the law to provide subsidies only to people in states who purchased their health insurance through an “exchange established by the state.”  It was intended as a carrot or a stick to get the states to comply.  Many did not comply, so the strategy backfired.

The job of the Supreme Court is to resolve disputes based on the law, the facts, and the Constitution.  It is not the job of the Court to fix mistakes in political strategy.  That is what they did, and it was wrong.

Eminent domain – not for privately owned projects – no matter the “public benefit.”

Both the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions allow government to take private property, using the government’s power of eminent domain, when the property taken is for public use, (and just compensation is paid).  Taking property for public benefit is not sufficient.  Many privately owned enterprises benefit the public. If we allow property to be taken for public benefit, there would be almost no limit on the power of government to take people’s property.  Public use means what is says: the property will be used by the public, not by a privately owned company. So, using eminent domain to take property for privately owned gas pipelines or electricity transmission lines is not public use and should not be allowed.  The Iowa Legislature failed to pass legislation that would have strengthened our property rights against taking by eminent domain, but that doesn’t mean regulators (the Iowa Utility Board) can’t stand up for the rights of property owners and not allow the use of eminent domain for privately owned projects.

Link to related Des Moines Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/12/07/editorial-must-forfeit-land-utilities/20012449/