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Issues Congress Should Tackle
|VOL. 45, NO. 2||P.O. BOX 618, ALTON, ILLINOIS 62002||SEPTEMBER 2011|
Issues Congress Should Tackle
The World Trade Organization just ruled against the United States again. A "dispute resolution panel" of WTO representatives from Pakistan, Portugal and Switzerland ruled that U.S. laws requiring Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) violate free trade.
The 2002 and 2005 Farm Bills required retailers to notify their customers of the country of origin of muscle cuts and ground beef (including veal), lamb, pork, chicken, and goat meat; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; perishable agricultural commodities; peanuts; pecans; ginseng; and macadamia nuts. The requirement on fish went into effect in 2005 and on all the other foods in 2008.
The WTO is based on the one-country, one-vote pattern. That means the United States has no veto and only one vote out of 153 nations, the same vote as Cuba or Grenada. The WTO's Dispute Settlement Board deliberates and votes in secret, decides trade disputes, and cannot be vetoed.
A couple of years ago, the WTO ruled against our Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which was designed to protect our people against the social and financial costs of internet gambling. Ruling that our law interferes with free trade in "recreational services," the WTO gave Antigua and Barbuda the go-ahead to punish us by violating U.S. copyrights and trademarks.
Americans want to know where our foods come from, especially since nearly two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables and 80% of the seafood we eat come from foreign countries where health and sanitary standards are not remotely equivalent to ours. And we have a right to know, despite impudent foreigners who seek to deny us that right.
We've had media coverage of the deadly E.coli outbreak in Germany, but very little coverage of the production peculiarities common in Communist China, where fish is raised in waters containing raw sewage disguised with dangerous drugs and chemicals. Several years ago, China sold us pet food containing melamine, a chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers, causing hundreds of our dogs and cats to die.
Some news has leaked out about China's peculiar and life-threatening food manufacturing industry. Incidents include the 300,000 babies sickened by milk tainted with melamine, the 286 wedding reception guests who were hospitalized after eating pork contaminated with Clenbuterol (a drug that makes pigs grow faster), the watermelons that exploded because of overuse of a chemical, the raw pork that emits a blue light from phosphorescent bacteria, the meals that are cooked using oil dredged from sewers behind restaurants, the pork disguised as beef, and soy sauce made using human hair clippings.
A new U.S. food safety law requires the Food and Drug Administration to inspect 600 foreign food facilities within a year, and more thereafter. That doesn't reassure us in the slightest because it's just a drop in the bucket of the problem. The FDA inspects only one percent of imports from China.
How did we get in this fix where foreigners presume to override the U.S. Constitution, our laws, and our sovereignty? It was a cozy political deal between the New World Order and free-trade activists in both political parties.
First, the 14-page WTO agreement was surreptitiously added to the 22,000-page revision of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) legislation. Second, Clinton and Congress bypassed the Treaty Clause in the U.S. Constitution (that requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate). They declared WTO passed as an executive agreement, which calls for only a simple majority in both Houses of Congress.
President Bill Clinton, House Speaker Tom Foley, and Republican leader Newt Gingrich then cooked up a deal to pass WTO in the December 1994 Lame Duck session, which included the votes of 80 Members who were defeated in the Republican landslide of November 8, or were retiring.
The WTO is not free trade but is a supra-national body that sets, manages and enforces WTO-made rules to dictate global trade. It's time to pull out of the World Trade Outrage.
If Congress can't repeal the law that banishes the Edison light bulb and forces us to buy Chinese-made bulbs we don't like, voters will ask, what was the use in electing a Republican House? The majority of Americans are in favor of abolishing that obnoxious law.
This issue not only involves Americans' freedom of choice to use the most popular and important of all American inventions, but it's also a matter of jobs. The ban gave General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt the excuse to close G.E.'s U.S. light-bulb manufacturing plants, lay off hundreds of well-paid U.S. employees, and open his plants in Communist China where wages are low and the new bulbs can be imported to sell in the U.S. for higher prices.
President Obama rewarded Immelt by naming him his Jobs Czar. G.E. then announced its plan to send more American jobs to China by moving the headquarters of its 115-year-old X-ray business, responsible for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cardiac tomography (CT) , from Wisconsin to Beijing.
Banning the Edison light bulb doesn't even make sense in terms of environmental arguments. The new Chinese-made compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) give off less light (so we'll have to use more of them) and contain poisonous mercury so that, if we drop and break one, it will require a ten-step clean-up and be a danger to kids and pets.
Obama is moving right ahead with his effort to drive us into a nanny state. He said his energy policies will cause our electric bills to "skyrocket" (will they be controlled by the smart meters already being installed in some sections of the country?), and he warned we can no longer set our thermostats at 72 degrees.
Where are the groups that talk about the right to privacy, limited government, and keeping the government out of our bedrooms and bathrooms? It was bad enough when the progressives and busybody bureaucrats told us the "village" should raise our children, but now they want to manage our household appliances.
The busybodies have restricted the water flow in our toilets, so they cannot do what toilets are supposed to do, and in our shower heads, to deny us an efficient body wash. If the environmental purpose is to reduce our water usage, the restraints on toilets don't accomplish that goal. The low-water-flow toilets require two or three flushes to do their assigned task.
San Francisco spent $100 million to deal with the awful smell emitted in sewer pipes because of backed-up sludge caused by low-flow toilets. The cost includes putting 9,000,000 pounds of bleach in the water supply to try to dispel the stench.
The busybodies also ruled that we can't use detergents in our dishwashers that wash our dishes clean. I now must use more water to pre-wash my dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Most of these nanny-state regulations go into effect without notice to the public, so few realized the change when the boxes of Cascade changed from green to chartreuse.
The Obama Administration just announced new CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards to require that fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks must go up 3.5 percent annually and reach 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Obama's takeover of the automobile industry means that the companies can't object.
Of course, meeting that standard means that cars and light trucks will have to be lighter weight and thus more dangerous in accidents. If our goal is energy independence, there are so many better ways to achieve that goal such as drilling for oil in places where it is now forbidden.
USA Today published one of its colorful front pages detailing how America has not only grown dramatically in population over the last two decades, but has radically changed ethnically, geographically, and culturally. The most costly of the many changes is the fact that having children has become increasingly detached from marriage.
Illegitimate births for all Americans have risen from 26% in 1990 to 41% today "and could be headed higher." Among Hispanics, illegitimacy is 53%, among blacks it's 73%, and among whites it has risen to a shocking 29%.
The economist Robert J. Samuelson recently concluded that "the welfare state is winning the budget war." The bipartisan budget deal, which slashed our military budget but kept welfare-state handouts mostly off limits, turned out to be "a triumph of the welfare state over the Pentagon."
The Heritage Foundation reports that 77 types of federal means-tested handouts already cost $522 billion per year before Obama took office. He increased this giant amount to $697 billion per year in the first half of his term, and now half of Americans depend for their living expenses in whole or in part on government handouts paid by the other half who pay income taxes.
That was exactly what Obama planned to do when he told Joe the Plumber he wanted to redistribute the wealth and told Chicago's WBEZ-FM that his favorite Supreme Court Chief Justice, Earl Warren, wasn't radical enough because the Warren Court "never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth."
Estimates are that, over the next decade, the federal government will spend $7.5 trillion on means-tested welfare. That's in addition to the nearly $200 billion a year doled out by the states. The Heritage Foundation figures don't even count the social and fiscal costs of the drugs, sex, suicide, school dropouts, runaways, and crime that come mostly from female-headed households.
In Ronald Reagan's famous caveat, when you subsidize something you get more of it. So the subsidies to women who have no husbands in the house have promoted more and more children growing up without fathers.
The American public has been alerted to the effects of family breakup ever since Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1965 report called "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." We can now see clearly that giving cash and benefits to single moms, beginning with Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, destroyed families by making fathers unnecessary and even a barrier to the women receiving free money.
This common-sense analysis was confirmed by British commentator Melanie Phillips, who described the current London riots as the result of "the promotion of lone parenthood" and "the willed removal" of fathers from the family unit by the Welfare State and the "ultra-feminist wreckers" of the traditional family with its male breadwinner. She calls for removing "the incentives to girls and women to have babies outside marriage" and for dismantling "the concept of entitlement" from the Welfare State.
The religious Left has injected itself into the U.S. budget debate by corralling a list of leftwingers to sign a statement called "Circle of Protection" opposing any cuts to welfare-state spending. This group made a political splash running newspaper ads featuring the provocative question, "What would Jesus cut?"
I wouldn't presume to try to read Jesus's mind or announce His political opinions, but I think it's hard to make the case that He would approve subsidizing, and thereby encouraging, illegitimate births. That's exactly what the means-tested welfare handouts have been doing ever since Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.
Michael Gerson defended the religious Left's Circle of Protection in the Washington Post. He calls the billions of dollars of government spending on poverty "essentially irrelevant to America's long-term debt."
I guess we now know why George W. Bush wasn't more conservative: Michael Gerson was his speech writer.
Also, welfare spending is a failure; it doesn't advance us toward any constructive goal, such as helping recipients to get on their feet economically. It merely increases dependence on government handouts and votes for leftwing politicians.
The Obama strategists know their political bread is buttered on the side of creating more and more women dependent on government. Republicans will lose the budget battle unless they face up to the fact that traditional husband-provider marriage is the mainspring of economic solvency, and Republicans will lose elections unless they stop the redistribution of money from taxpayers to dependents on government.
Remember how we were threatened that if the Republican House of Representatives didn't raise the U.S. debt ceiling, the stock market would crash and Standard & Poor's would punish us by downgrading our credit rating? So, the Republicans did what Wall Street, President Obama and the media demanded, and the stock market nose-dived anyway and S & P reduced our financial rating for the first time in history from Triple-A to second-place AA-plus.
The problem isn't the debt ceiling but out-of-control spending. The bipartisan compromise increased the government's borrowing limit by nearly a trillion dollars but cut less than $2 trillion in spending over the next ten years, which hardly makes a dent in the problem.
Pell grants to college students are exempted from the spending cuts, and Obama even won authority to increase grants to college students by $17 billion over the next two years. Colleges reacted by raising this fall's tuition prices an average of 9.8%, with some increases as much as 20%.
If there is anything Congress should not do, it's borrow more money to send more kids to college who then can't get jobs that are worth the price of college. That's just a sneaky way of concealing the true unemployment figures of young people.
The promise to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment elevates symbolism over reality. Even if it passed the House, we all know it won't pass the Senate, and even if it did, it would take years for ratification by the states.
The way to balance the budget is to refuse to raise the debt ceiling. There are so many ways to cut spending.
We should reduce federal spending back to the level of the day Obama took office; most people don't realize how much he increased spending in his first two years. We can furlough all the non-essential federal employees; those are the ones told not to report to work when Washington, D.C. has a snow day.
Check into the 45.8 million food stamp recipients; it's unlikely that so many are needy, such as the Michigan guy who won a $2-million-dollar state lottery. And what about the free cell phones (with 200 minutes a month) given to food stamp recipients, a handout unknown to most Americans?
Raising taxes, eliminating tax loopholes, or even trimming spending around the edges will not solve our colossal debt and deficit problem. The only thing that will make a positive difference is more people working real jobs in the private sector and paying taxes as a result.
We don't mean hiring more people for government jobs because that requires more spending, not less. Obama's Keynesian-style stimulus only dug us deeper into depression.
Why hasn't anybody but Donald Trump figured out where the good jobs have gone? Apparently, he is the only one to say out loud that the United States is being ripped off by Communist China, which has now become insufferably arrogant.
We have lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. The U.S. closed 42,400 U.S. factories between 2001 and 2008 because of our trade deficit with China.
China's official news agency, Xinhua, impudently demands that the U.S. "ensure the safety of China's dollar assets" because the "good old days" of borrowing are over. Xinhua calls on the U.S. to reduce our military expenditures at the same time that China is spending its U.S. dollars to build up an offensive Chinese military.
Where are the U.S. leaders to stand up and say we are no longer willing to accept (and subsidize and defend) a globalist world where Americans must compete with Asians who work for 30 cents an hour? Where are the U.S. leaders to say we will no longer stand for Communist China stealing our intellectual property and requiring U.S. companies to give the Communist establishment our patents and trade secrets as the price of being allowed to build a plant in China?
Where are the U.S. leaders to expose the hypocrisy and dishonesty of so-called free trade that allows China to impose tariffs (called by other names such as Value Added Tax) against us, while we allow China to sell all its goods in the U.S. without any tariff and use their profits to build a Chinese military to threaten us?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), now up for reauthorization, is in major need of revision. Its billion-dollar-a-year price tag spent by the radical feminists to pursue their ideology and goals (known as feminist pork) make it an embarrassment to Members of Congress who voted for it.
For 30 years, the feminists have been pretending that their goal is to abolish all sex discrimination, eliminating all gender differences no matter how reasonable. When it comes to domestic violence, however, feminist dogma preaches that there is an innate gender difference: men are naturally batterers and women are naturally victims (i.e., gender profiling).
Starting with its title, VAWA is just about as sex discriminatory as legislation can get. It is written and implemented to oppose the abuse of women and to punish men.
Ignoring the mountain of evidence that women initiate physical violence nearly as often as men, VAWA has more than 60 passages in its lengthy text that exclude men from its benefits. For starters, the law's title should be changed to Partner Violence Reduction Act, and the words "and men" should be added to those 60 sections.
The law should be rewritten to deal with the tremendous problem of false accusations so that its priority can be to help real victims. A Centers for Disease Control survey found that half of all partner violence was mutual, and 282 scholarly studies reported that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men.
Currently used definitions of domestic violence that are unacceptably trivial include calling your partner a naughty word, raising your voice, causing "annoyance" or "emotional distress," or just not doing what your partner wants. The law's revision should use an accurate definition of domestic violence that includes violence, such as: "any act or threatened act of violence, including any forceful detention of an individual, which results or threatens to result in physical injury."
Women who make domestic violence accusations are not required to produce evidence and are never prosecuted for perjury if they lie. Accused men are not accorded fundamental protections of due process, not considered innocent until proven guilty, and in many cases, are not afforded the right to confront their accusers.
Legal assistance is customarily provided to women but not to men. Men ought to be entitled to equal protection of the law because many charges are felonies and could result in prison and loss of money, job, and reputation.
Feminist recipients of VAWA handouts lobby legislators, judges and prosecutors on the taxpayers' dime (which is contrary to Section 1913 of Title 18, U.S. Code), and the results are generally harmful to all concerned. This lobbying has resulted in laws calling for mandatory arrest (i.e., the police must arrest someone; guess who) of the predominant aggressor (i.e., ignore the facts and assume the man is the aggressor), and no-drop prosecution (i.e., prosecute the man even if the woman has withdrawn her accusation or refuses to testify).
VAWA should encourage counseling when appropriate and voluntary, as well as programs to help couples terminate use of illegal drugs. When the abuse is only minor, divorce and/or prosecution should not be routine or the first choice of dealing with domestic conflict. Minor partner discord should not be over-criminalized.
VAWA should be subject to rigorous auditing procedures in order to curb waste and fraud and to establish accountability.