Habitat III – The New Urban Agenda

This month (October 2016), the UN is holding the third of it’s global conferences on cities; previous ones were held in 1976 and 1996.  The objective is to bring together government officials, industry leaders, planners, and environmental experts to discuss the future of cities around the world.  The State Department is representing the US government.  Increasing populations will have a major effect on urban environments and demands for services during the 21st century.  I’m all for sharing ideas, identifying best practices, and making the world better; however since the UN has become the global advocate for socialism we conservatives have to look at it with a bit of skepticism.  If you haven’t read their draft document it’s available on the Habitat III website.

Like UN Agenda 21 the draft has some lofty goals.  They’d like cities to be clean, safe, sustainable, and provide opportunities for all (nothing wrong with that).  They’d like to eliminate poverty, hunger, violence, inequality, discrimination, environmental degradation, and a list of diseases.

Like UN Agenda 21 the draft has the usual list of hypocritical goals.  The UN wants equality and equal opportunity for girls and women, and an end to discrimination.  We’re trying in the West, but no Muslim country will ever grant equality to women, who are often treated as less than human.  Countries that stone rape victims for adultery and hang men for being gay don’t see equality as a virtue.  The UN wants justice.  Tell that to countries that still torture, flog, and mutilate criminals.  The UN wants participatory government.  Tell that to communist countries like China where speaking out might get you 12 years hard labor.  The authors of this document are fully aware of these harsh and unchanging realities in totalitarian and theocratic states.

Unlike UN Agenda 21 there’s no obvious explicit demand for billions of dollars to be redistributed from developed nations to the third world but it is implicit.  Countries that can’t even end their own internal conflicts aren’t going to generate the cash to build clean water systems, productive farms, modern infrastructure, and the host of services needed in a city.

Their draft items often begin with “We will …” so let’s use that to draw our “line in the sand”.

We will listen, share, and learn.  We can combine past experiences with new knowledge to build better cities in the future.

We will work with the teams to identify best practices as well as chronic problem areas.

We will use new developments and best practices for our cities that will work within our legal, financial, and cultural environment.

We will work to protect our environment within current practical technology and will continue research on new technologies.

We will help other nations reach their objectives within financial reason and as long as the safety of US aid workers can be assured.

We will NOT implement any objectives that would deprive US citizens of their constitutional rights within our borders.  For example, if their “eliminate all forms of violence” means gun confiscation, that’s unconstitutional here.  There’s a fundamental reality that there will always be bad people who want to hurt good people and that self-defense is a fundamental human right.

We will NOT allow foreign troops operating under the UN flag to conduct any operations against US citizens within our borders.  The UN is an organization, not a legitimate state, so It’s military powers are limited, or at least should be.

None of this advocates isolationism, aggression, or abandoning our allies; it’s simply sovereignty.  Borders matter, and yes, I want secure borders.  A nation without borders will either descend into chaos or tyranny.

 

The USA can work with the world without surrendering to it.

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Retroactive Laws: A New Assault on Private Property

A retroactive law is a law that criminalizes a past action that wasn’t a crime at the time.  Known as “ex post facto” laws, they are strictly and unambiguously prohibited by Article I, Section 9 (for Congress) and Section 10 (for states) of our Constitution.  They can be used to punish a person and/or to seize their property which is why such laws are banned.  Progressives, however, see the Constitution as an obstacle to their agenda.  I’ll look at one example of how they’re being used and then discuss the very slippery slope of ex post facto laws.

The state of California has passed some restrictive new gun laws.  One bans the manufacture and sale of high capacity magazines; the other (SB1446) prohibits possession of such magazines (hence requires confiscation) that were legally purchased in the past.  The constitutionality of the first law may be under debate everywhere but the second one is clearly unconstitutional.  It’s a retroactive ban, therefore it’s a ex post facto law.  Those who don’t submit to a mandatory “buyback” will be criminalized for what was a legal activity at the time of purchase.  The term “buyback” itself is a misnomer.  The government can’t buy back something it never owned.  If the government asserts ownership of all private property it’s a communist government.  Unless the government is paying full retail value for confiscated items it’s also theft.  Obviously confiscation of items obtained illegally or used for criminal purposes is a different matter that doesn’t involve ex post facto laws.

OK, you don’t care about the Second Amendment, but let’s look at just how slippery a slope ex post facto laws against private property could become.

The EPA has issued increasingly strict tailpipe emission and gas mileage requirements for cars and other light vehicles.  Tier I took affect in 1994, Tier 2 in 2004, and the Obama administration has approved even stricter mileage requirements in the future.  The standards that took effect in 1994 and 2004 effectively banned the future sale of new vehicles that didn’t meet those standards but they didn’t ban the ownership of older vehicles.  Suppose, however, that our progressive government, influenced by the socialist UN, decided to confiscate all vehicles that didn’t meet Tier 2 standards?  Of course they’d pay owners some token sum for surrendering their means of transportation but it would impose the greatest hardship on those who could least afford it.  Do they care?  NO!  Most politicians are rich.  As  I said once before, rich elitists will always live above the messes they cause for the masses.

You don’t think this could happen?  Don’t make me say “I told you so” again!  Over a year ago I predicted that we might someday see an environmental impact tax on meat.  Now the UN is actively recommending such a tax and Denmark is considering one.  Socialists are as relentless as ISIS when it comes to imposing their will on everyone.

The concept that private property that is obtained legally and not used for criminal purposes belongs to individuals, not the government, is fundamental to our freedom and our entire way of life.  Don’t let socialists incrementally deprive us of that freedom.

Tax And Destroy

Everyone has heard the famous quote “the power to tax involves the power to destroy” from Chief Justice John Marshall in an 1819 Supreme Court ruling that states could not tax the Federal government.  What about government use of taxation against the people it’s supposed to be working for?  What is that destroying?

For much of US history, taxes were collected to fund essential government services such as national defense, border security, law enforcement, public infrastructure, education, and resource conservation.  In fact Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said “taxes are what we pay for civilized society”.  Progressives have changed that through taxation for wealth redistribution and “social engineering”.  Social engineering typically involves the use of punitive taxes to discourage “wrong behavior” as defined by some omniscient Big Brother.  I’ll start with punitive taxation.

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is pouring millions of dollars into local efforts to impose a punitive tax on sugary sodas.  OK, they’re not particularly healthy, but where does that process end?  Under the influence of UN Agenda 21 Denmark is seriously considering a tax on meat.  Once the USDA includes sustainability in diet recommendations it won’t be long before progressives want taxes on meat, and eventually dairy products.  This is about controlling people, and more control equals less freedom.  Eventually the only choice progressives will allow is for an abortion.  Bloomberg also pours millions into local gun control efforts, some of which include punitive taxes on guns and ammunition.  No ammo tax will ever stop a street gang, psychopath, disgruntled worker, or jihadist from unleashing mayhem.  What it will do is hurt honest shooting sports participants, particularly those involved in competitive target shooting.  It takes thousands of hours and probably close to a million rounds to reach Olympic level competitor status.  It’s those honest achievers who will be hurt, not the criminal who loads a “Saturday night special” to rob a convenience store.

(Hey Mike, why don’t you ever ask for more taxes on billionaires?)

President Obama wants a ten dollar per barrel tax on oil, even though it would raise prices of gas and heating oil and could send the economy into recession.  This is a punitive tax to punish those who insist on using fossil fuels.  As I pointed out in “Alternative Energy: The Missing Link”, however, we don’t have the technology to convert to renewable fuels overnight.  How many cities are 100% powered by renewable energy 24/7?  The answer is none.  How many all-electric vehicles have a 500 mile cruising range, or even a 100 mile range that can recharge during a 5 minute rest stop?  Again the answer is none.  An all-electric vehicle is a great choice for commuting from the suburbs to the city but would you want to set out to “see the USA” in one?  Incidentally if that electric vehicle doesn’t recharge from a renewable source it isn’t fully “green”.  He claims that the tax revenue would be used for research, and while some might be, some of it might also be used for global wealth redistribution.

So, what about wealth redistribution?  Within the US wealth redistribution is accomplished through various welfare programs and a widely abused tax credit program called EITC.  If you read my proposal for the ISIC welfare reform program you’ll know that I’m not opposed to welfare as a hand up for the unfortunate or as assistance for those who are unable to fully support themselves due to disability.  When children are starving in spite of school meal programs, SNAP, and WIC, however, something in the system isn’t working.  When a person who is fully capable of working decides to live off the labor of others and then jokes about it on social media welfare fraud has gone too far and reform is past due.  That’s an insult to every working family that’s struggling to support itself.  I’m also opposed to allowing foreigners to enter the US and immediately land on extended welfare.  Traditionally our immigration policy only admitted honest healthy people who were capable of supporting themselves within a reasonable time frame.  See my “Immigration is a Privilege, not a Right” post for more.  Global wealth redistribution is a recent concept arising from UN Agenda 21.  Third world nations are demanding billions of dollars from developed nations to “go green” under Agenda 21 while having no intent to meet the human rights objectives specified in that agenda.  See my post “UN Agenda 21 vs the Wealthy Wimpy West” for more.  I believe that global wealth redistribution is unconstitutional.  Nothing in our Constitution allows the government to send our tax dollars overseas or be taxed by any foreign entity.

So, what are the socialist progressives destroying with social engineering and Marxist wealth redistribution?  Essentially everything that made the USA exceptional: freedom (choice, not control); individual responsibility (the flip side of the rights/responsibility coin); the value of the family, and national sovereignty.

As many have pointed out, the US will never be conquered from without, it will destroy itself from within..  Progressives/socialists are leading the charge.

2016 Update:  Not unexpected: the UN has advocated for all nations to tax sugary drinks like sodas.

Unexpected: the UN also wants taxes on 100% fruit juices.  Who wants their morning OJ taxed?  It’s past time to tell the UN that we’re a sovereign nation, and while we’ll work with them on international issues, we will not surrender our rights or our freedom to them.

Opportunity Knocks. Quick, Bar the Door!

The USA currently has an opportunity to secure it’s position as a world leader in technology and industry while securing the future of it’s workers.  Opportunity is knocking and the Federal government is refusing to answer.

When I wrote “Jobs for America, Starting Today” I was looking at two regional industries, one that has been running a successful apprenticeship program for over a century and another that recently partnered with a community college to develop a skilled workforce.  Now this trend is spreading.  Honda America is establishing a program to interest students in manufacturing jobs and develop the workforce of the future, Starbucks is offering it’s employees college scholarships, and we can expect other businesses to step up.  For those who think manufacturing is just for machinists and mechanics, remember that modern manufacturing also requires engineers, computer programmers, quality control experts, logistics specialists, and industrial safety and health professionals.  The best way the Federal government could help is to Get Out of the Way.  Businesses need skilled employees, colleges need qualified students, but neither needs a government middleman to broker the deals.  Neither needs the “strings” that come with government “help” either.  Here’s how the Feds can get out of the way.

Reform and simplify the corporate tax code.  Lower the tax rate while cutting “corporate welfare” to ensure that tax breaks benefit everyone, not just the top executives.

Implement my “PARA” plan for repatriating overseas  earnings in a way that will create jobs here at home while helping the environment as businesses can use that money to  improve energy efficiency.

As millions of Baby Boomers retire their knowledge must be passed to the next generation.  Encourage businesses to offer transitional employment such are part time work to retiring employees so that new employees can benefit from their experience.  In most cases it’s a win-win proposition.  Reform the individual tax code too to help all employees.

Abolish the Medical Device Tax immediately.  It hurts everyone: patients, providers, and businesses that save lives.  Medical technology is a growing field that requires multi-disciplinary professionals, and one in which this country excels, so keep these businesses here and growing.

Cut excess overhead by eliminating requirements for endless reports that no one looks at, then cut the bureaucrats who asked for them.

Stop flooding the country with unskilled immigrants.  A tight labor market will result in wage increases without a mandated minimum wage increase while an excess of available laborers will depress wages.  Politics can’t change the basic rules of economics.

Don’t increase the H1B visa ceiling for skilled foreign workers until every citizen with a STEM degree has a job in their field.  Technology companies and IT departments  have used H1B visas to cut older (i.e., higher paid) workers out of job opportunities.  Also, since H1B holders tend to be in the higher salary ranges, don’t let their spouses work and take jobs from citizens.

If you expect businesses to help in training the workforce of the future don’t tell them who they must hire.  Let them invest in those who are best qualified for the particular work at hand.

Reject the false promises of modern socialism, which is actually elitism.  Don’t put the UN ahead of the USA either.  Resist the notion that we must become a third world nation in order to help third world nations.  We are a sovereign nation founded on one document, our Constitution, and it has helped this nation prosper for over 200 years.

Surrender Sovereignty?

Tell that to the families of troops who have died defending our sovereignty.  Tell that to the disabled veterans who suffered defending our sovereignty.  They’ll probably disagree. The new US  ambassador to the UN once wrote that “giving up a pinch of sovereignty” to an organization like the UN would be good for the USA.  No, it wouldn’t.  Does she think the UN should tax us to support a global redistribution of wealth?  Does she think the UN should have the power to suspend our Constitutional rights?  Does she want bands of  third world “peace keepers” riding around in armored vehicles?  Does she want brutal 7th century Sharia law?  What official of any other country has ever made such a statement, or would dare to do so?  When our country’s founders issued the Declaration of Independence it was a statement that “we are a sovereign nation”.  There are no reasons to surrender to the “one worlders” except sheer stupidity or hatred of our way of life.  As stated before, anyone who doesn’t like it here is free to leave, her included.

In some countries this statement alone would be considered an act of treason, but here in the USA we have freedom of speech.  That does not mean the ambassador has freedom of action.  If she takes any action to compromise our sovereignty she should be removed from her position immediately.  An ambassador to the UN, a somewhat dysfunctional organization at best, should represent our nation, not everyone else.  If you think other countries care about our best interests, guess what, they don’t, and neither does she.

Sovereignty is like pregnancy, you are or you aren’t.

If the Science is Real, the Politics Are Lies.

We all accept the fact that air pollution is bad for human health.  Now if we take the word of those who say that pollution, including ubiquitous CO2, is also bad for the global climate what do we find?  We find hypocritical politics, that’s what.  The US-China agreement on “climate change” says that the US must start reducing CO2 emissions immediately while China gets a 15-year grace period during which it can continue using coal-fired power plants.  Hey, the atmosphere is global and no science can prove that pollution from China or India is less hazardous than pollution from the USA or western Europe.

What we find, once again, is UN Agenda 21.  It requires developed nations to reduce pollution faster than emerging nations so they can catch up and make the world fairer.  Putting developed nations at an economic disadvantage is one way to redistribute global wealth, isn’t it?  Even though China is an economic powerhouse that’s buying up US land as fast as it can it’s still considered an emerging nation so it can get away with this ruse.  India would fare even better.

Progressives like to ridicule “science deniers” but their own hypocrisy betrays them.  They would be far more convincing if they demanded that every nation play by the same rules.

Is there any reason to reduce our consumption of oil as a fuel without getting into the climate change debate?  Actually there are two indisputable and apolitical facts: eventually the world will run out of oil and petroleum is an essential raw material for millions of products used around the world every day.  Evidently the UN didn’t worry about these because they don’t support wealth redistribution..

Global threats require global responses, nothing less.