Thanks to the Register for reporting on Civil Asset Forfeiture abuses.

Thanks to the Sunday Register (3/29/2015) for its exposé of the abuses occurring in Iowa under civil asset forfeiture laws. (Sunday Register 3/29/2015)  Taking people’s money and other property without charging them with a crime violates the principles of due process of law and innocent until proven guilty.

Allowing law enforcement officers and prosecutors to keep the money that they confiscate creates a clear conflict of interest and is a corrupting influence.  The examples given in the Register report show law enforcement officers have become more interested in collecting money than stopping crime.  We need to stop this corruption and abuse.

SF467 has been introduced in the Iowa Senate. It would allow forfeiture only as part of a criminal charge against the owner, and it would require any forfeited property to be turned over the general fund of the county or state.   If passed, this law would go a long way toward curbing these abuses.  Contact your Iowa Senator and urge them to move this bill forward to passage.

Link to Register article:  http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/2015/03/28/iowa-forfeiture-system-legal-thievery/70600856/

Obama needs to lead on budget cuts.

Thanks to the Des Moines Register for printing the editorial by Peter Morici on 2/16/2013.  (Obama blackmailing taxpayers to stick blame on Republicans – see link below.)  President Obama and other politicians and pundits who say the sky will fall if the sequestration cuts are allowed to go into effect are using misleading fear tactics.  Politicians at all levels of government who don’t want to see spending cuts always say that the services that will be cut are those that are the most needed and the most visible.  Examples include President Obama’s statement in his State Of The Union address: “These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.”  Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has warned us that layoffs of food inspector will result in food shortages.    A top general stated that troops in Afghanistan will have their stay extended because there won’t be enough money to train replacement troops.  Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano said the we should expect increased wait times in airports due to mandatory furloughs of security staff.

 As Morici wrote:, “It puzzles me how $85 billion in a $16 trillion economy could make such a difference, especially when tax increases of similar size, implemented on Jan. 1 at the President’s behest, had no such similar effect in his mind.”  Why can’t President Obama prioritize the cuts so that less needed services are cut?  President Obama got his tax increases on the wealthy as part of the negotiations to extend our borrowing limit.  Now is the time for him to take the lead and implement meaningful cuts based on priorities.  Everything is not a top priority.  Even entitlement changes, such as continuing to raise the normal retirement age for both Social Security and Medicare, should be on the table.  The debt that we are piling onto future generations is immoral and unsustainable.  It must stop.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013302160059

Don’t require BS for RNs – one more time

Regarding the letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register on 11/21/2012 entitled:, “Bachelor’s degree will lead to better nurses for patients” by Vickie Barth (see link below):  It is possible that patient outcomes would improve if every nurse was required to have a bachelor’s degree.  It is also possible that patient outcomes would improve if every health care professional was required by the State to have additional training and education.  The question is what should the State require.  The only moral justification for licensing by the State is public safety.  Laws and regulations intended to increase safety come at a cost in terms of both money and loss of freedom.  The balance between public safety on the one hand, and the loss of freedom and increased costs on the other hand, should be based on reasonableness.  What is or is not reasonable is properly the subject of political debate.  In this case,allowing people with associate degrees in nursing to be licensed as RNs does provide reasonable public safety.  Other goals expressed by Ms. Barth, such as “to advance our professional status…” or to “…determine our own practice.” are honorable goals, but they are not proper reasons for the State to make their licensing requirements more restrictive.

Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/comments/article/20121121/OPINION04/311210042/Letter-editor-Bachelor-s-degree-will-lead-better-nurses-Iowa-patients

Don’t require BS for RNs.

Iowa should not require registered nurses (RNs) to have a bachelor’s (4-year) degree in order to get a license to practice.  Currently, Iowa law allows people to become RNs if they complete an associates (2-year) degree and pass a uniform exam.   As the Des Moines Register reported, opponents of the bachelor’s degree requirement argue that bachelor’s degree programs have not proven to result in better care.  (“Bachelor’s for nurses considered” 1/414/2012 – see link below.)
The Education Standards Of Practice Committee of the Iowa Board of Nursing is charged as follows: Review options and develop a proposal to submit to the Iowa Board of Nursing for the Associate Degree prepared nurse to educationally transition to a Baccalaureate in Nursing Degree as a license renewal requirement.  Why was the committee not charged to investigate whether or not there are public safety problems with the current requirement, and, if any are found, whether or not requiring a bachelor’s degree would solve such problems?  We do know that such a requirement would significantly increase the cost of becoming an RN for many people.  That would likely result in fewer RNs and higher health care costs (and higher wages for RNs with bachelor’s degrees and more students in four-year colleges of nursing).
Of the 16 appointed committee members, 11 are RNs with a bachelors or higher degree, 3 are not nurses – representing consumers, community colleges, and four-year colleges, and 2 are nurses who appear to not have bachelor’s degrees.  (See link to committee list below.)  So, 12 of 16 appear to have a vested interest in making the bachelor’s degree a requirement.
The only purpose for government licensing of any profession should be public safety.  More often than we would like, politically favored groups with vested interests ask to be licensed (or regulated) by government in order to to reduce  competition and increase their own wages or profits.  Since the committee meeting reported by the Register was not open to the public, we should presume it was because those with vested interests in making a bachelor’s degree a requirement did not want their comments heard.
The Register reported that there will be public hearing on this issue after the next closed committee meeting on December 13th.  Let’s hope the public hearing is packed with people who care about both public safety and the freedom to practice a profession without unneeded government licensing regulations.
Link to committee list and charge by the Board of Nursing:  http://www.state.ia.us/nursing/images/pdf/EdStand%20of%20Prac%20Committe.pdf

Delay new farm bill.

The Register printed an excellent editorial from Steve Ellis and Scott Faber urging delay on the Farm Bill.  (11/13/2012 – “Congress should pass a fiscally responsible farm bill extension” – see link below)  I agree that Congress should pass a one-year bill extension that is fully paid for by cuts to subsidies for those who do not need taxpayer support.  Farm subsidy payments, if any, should be based on need and should be limited in total dollar amount that any farm, or related group of farms, can receive.  Crop insurance subsidies should also be either eliminated or means tested.  Wealthy farmers should not receive subsidized crop insurance.  The Farm Bill needs to be fully exposed to open debate and to thoughtful deliberation, not rushed through behind closed doors.

Link to DM Register article:  http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012311130040&nclick_check=1

 

Jack Hatch is wrong – auto bailout was not needed to help Iowa manufacturers.

Contrary to the letter by Jack Hatch, the Obama administration and Congress were wrong in the way they handled the auto manufacturer’s bailout.  (See The Des Moines Register, 11/3/2012, “Auto bailout saved many Iowa jobs, too”)  Romney is correct that we should have followed established bankruptcy laws.  The bankruptcy process would have allowed the companies to remain open and the jobs to not be lost.  The companies could have reorganized their debt and equity and emerged from bankruptcy stronger.  What actually happened was that politically favored creditors, such as unions, were given unfair preferences, and some unfavored creditors were cheated out of their lawful security.  It is quite likely that Iowa manufacturers would have continued to supply their parts to the industry even if the law had been properly followed.

Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20121104/OPINION04/311040058/Letter-to-the-editor-Auto-bailout-saved-many-Iowa-jobs-too?Opinion&nclick_check=1

Iowans don’t live in poverty.

Contrary to the picture painted by the recent series of articles in the Des Moines Register, very few Iowans actually live in poverty.  What we have is families who whose incomes, before counting any welfare benefits received, are below government established guidelines for poverty.  We measure “food insecurity” because very few Iowans are actually go without food for any extended period of time.  Taxpayers provide food stamps, Medicaid health insurance, subsidized housing, and much more.  Charitable organizations provide food banks, clothing, shelters and much more. For children, taxpayers also provide pre-school, meals before, during and after school, subsidized child care, and much more.
We clearly have an effective and extensive safety net.  The relatively few who fall through the cracks either don’t know about the benefits or won’t ask for help.  It appears quite clear that we do not need to spend more taxpayer money to expand welfare benefits.  It’s actually hard to imagine that spending for welfare programs cannot be reduced.  There has been much anecdotal evidence of fraud and abuse in our welfare programs by both recipients and providers.
Today, the best way to help the poor is by having a vibrant, growing economy with enough jobs for those who are willing to work, not by expanding welfare benefits.  To encourage a growing economy, we need for our government to stop regulating businesses in areas not related to employee and public safety or pollution of our environment.  Government should not mandate pay levels or benefits.  Government should not provide corporate welfare (subsidies) to artificially prop up favored industries.  Just as with individual welfare, corporate welfare breeds competitive weakness and dependency on government.

Churches can speak freely!

On 10/16/2012, The Des Moines Register advocated for allowing churches to speak politically without jeopardizing their charitable tax status. (“Free speech should apply to churches”)   People who contribute to not-for-profit charitable organizations that qualify under tax code section 501c3, including churches, get to take a charitable deduction when calculating their income taxes.  This means that taxpayers are subsidizing these charitable contributions.
Political parties, campaign organizations, lobbying groups, and other not-for-profit organizations are tax exempt, but under different tax code provisions.  Supporters of those organizations do not get a tax deduction for contributions.  That is as it should be.  Taxpayers should not subsidize political speech.
If we simply allow all churches to advocate politically without limit, and supporters are allowed to take a charitable deduction for contributions made to those churches, then expect new “churches” to be established for the primary purpose of advocating politically.
The solution to this problem is already available.  If churches want to advocate politically, all they have to do is elect a different not-for-profit tax status.  They would still be tax exempt, but supporters would not get a tax deduction for contributions.

Iowans prefer Medicare voucher plan!

The Des Moines Register’s report on the Iowa Poll on Sunday, 9/30/2012, reported that 45% of Iowans prefer to, “Change the way Medicare works to provide seniors with the option of a subsidy to help pay for regular health insurance in the private market” as the most popular way to prevent Medicare from running out of money.  Less popular were the options of increasing taxes (26%) or cutting benefits (9%).  20% were not sure.  It’s pretty clear that a voucher program is the way most Iowans prefer to fix our Medicare funding problem.  Of course, if the Iowa Poll had given Iowans the choice, “Do nothing – don’t touch my Medicare”, the results might have been different.

We do need to solve this problem, so thanks to the Iowa Poll for not giving people the “Do nothing” choice.  A voucher system would contain costs, give freedom to people to choose the kind of coverage they want, and still provide a substantial safety net to meet people’s health care needs.

Vander Plaats panders to his base.

Bob Vander Plaats does not want to understand those who disagree with his religious dogma regarding the source of our rights (See Des Moines Register, “A Tale OF Two Conventions” 9/16/2012).  The vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats believe in God.  So belief in God not a distinguishing characteristic between the parties.  Vander Plaats wants it to appear that the Republicans are the Party of God in order to cater to his base.
A person doesn’t have to believe in a God in order to believe there are moral absolutes.  There are natural laws that are understood by all, without the necessity of being commanded by a God or religion:  Don’t initiate force against others, don’t use force or fraud to take other people’s property, don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you, peaceful and honest people who do no harm to others should be left alone by government, government should treat people equally.
Our Founding Fathers were wise to embed freedom of religion in our founding documents..They made clear that no religious test should be required in order to hold public office.  They wrote that our government, “… shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”  The belief that a deity has commanded or prohibited any particular actions should not be the reason why any law gets passed.  (Many Christians believed that the Bible allowed slavery.)
I agree with Vander Plaats on most economic issues.  I agree with him that our rights preceded and are superior to government.  I just don’t think they came from God, and I know they didn’t come from government.