Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Compulsory medicalized killing on the rize

So you thought you lived in a free country? How quaint. Two recent stories should prove that ignoring political and social issues is not the way to defend liberty.

Oh, you forgot liberty had to be defended? Don’t you remember the saying “if you can keep it”? That’s an American saying, sure, but it applies to all countries who purpose themselves a nation of free people. Most people seem to think merely living their lives in peace is enough. Sadly, that is simply not the case.

Take, for instance, the idea of a doctor who doesn’t want to violate the hippocratic oath and kill, ahem, “euthanize” a patient. Well, instead of actually killing patient, how about at least referring a patient to someone else who will? Currently, Canadian law protects a medical practitioner’s right to NOT do this. But in Ontario that may soon change.

Doctors shouldn’t be forced to comply with patients’ suicide. Ontario gov’t may change that by Alex Schadenberg

Doctors speaking out say they shouldn’t be forced to refer their patients to another doctor who is willing to help them die if they disagree with the practice.

“None of us ever envisioned whether we took our hippocratic oath 40 years ago or 4 years ago that we would one day be legislated to cooperate in the death of our patients.”

Another story stems from Sweden where a nurse was fired for refusing to participate in abortions. This is not a mere “referral” type situation. No, this nurse was told to actually participate in medicalized killing to keep her job.

Court Rules Nurse Fired for Refusing to Assist Abortions Must Do Abortions to Keep Her Job by Steven Ertelt

The Swedish Appeals Court decided Wednesday that the government can force medical professionals to perform abortions, or else be forced out of their profession. Because the ruling in Grimmark v. Landstinget i Jönköpings Län contradicts international law protecting conscientious objection, Grimmark is now considering whether to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

This nurse has tried to find work at several other locations in her city and been refused.

In Europe and in the new world we find a steady march away from respecting the rights of those performing work toward an environment of compulsory labor. Keep in mind conscientious objection is a big deal in most Western countries. Many (but not all) have done away with compulsory military service, for example. The right to NOT participate in religion is another example of the importance of letting people live by their own conscience. Bruce Springsteen shows us another example, where he refused service in Greensboro, North Carolina due to his personal conviction on what he perceives as a moral issue.

But on some issues it seems only one perspective is to be respected. On matters related to medicalized killing, the right to die and the right to kill one’s own child prevail over the right of medical personnel to refuse to participate in such killing. As should be obvious to all (and is to those who can think past the end of their own nose), if one group can be compelled into service against their beliefs, another group can be as well. It seems not to matter that the right to conscientious objection is being infringed upon, apparently the only thing that matters is whose right to conscientious objection is being infringed upon.

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If Common Core is state-based why is Uncle Sam pressuring states to accept it?

original article: Schools Threatened by Feds Over Massive Number of Common Core Opt-Outs
August 3, 2015 by REMSO MARTINEZ

From coast to coast, states throughout the country are trying to find any way possible to escape the widespread mess of Common Core. Recently, a large number of Long Island schools were at the center of attention when they reported having the highest number of Common Core opt-outs in the nation. Due to the immense number of students who refused to take place in the intrusive and cumbersome standardized tests, two schools in Long Island risk losing their prized national “Blue Ribbon” award for academic excellence nominations.

As of now, the two schools targeted by the Department of Education are George H. McVey and Quogue elementary schools, who earned their Blue Ribbon nominations based on scores from spring of 2014. However, the actual awards would be given to the schools nominated based on results from the following year’s score next April. This pressure to comply with the Common Core exams means that 12 of the 19 schools nominated for the prestigious award could be taken out of the running due to the opt-outs that have spread throughout the country.

This type of issue is only one piece in a larger part of the culture of corruption brought about by the heavy influence of not only Common Core pushers, but also the Department of Education. A recent Common Core related incident occurred in the past several weeks, where a Harlem principal committed suicide after fabricating the results of her students Common Core exams, all in order to maintain federal funding based on the achievement level of the students.

Parents, students, and even teachers against core curricula and its implementation are the reason so manystates are trying to escape this program. So what is left to do at this point? One path was to help strengthen the option for students to opt-out of the exams; Senator Mike Lee tried to do this at the federal level with an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, but that was shot down in the US Senate 32-64. However, a similar amendment authored by Rep. Matt Salmon to the Student Success Act passed the House.

Another more practical and permanent solution would be to keep this issue within the borders of the individual states, since they brought this beast of a program on themselves, it would be best for them to keep it as an in-house issue. Lindsey Burke, a Will Skillman fellow in education policy at the Heritage Foundation, discussed how states could exit from Common Core back in an article for the Daily Signal last April; she stated three main points (for further details on her points, click here):

  1. Determine how the decision was made to cede the state’s standard-setting authority.
  2. Prohibit new spending for standards implementation.
  3. Determine how to reverse course.

Until state governments can come together and realize that the common curricula and excessive, intrusive testing is causing more harm than good, it will depend almost entirely on the grassroots to affect real change by bringing not only awareness, but solutions to the policy table.

Do we want compliance, or a separation between school and state?

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Uber shows us why progressives hate choice

If there’s anything that scares government loving progressives more it isn’t what you might think. A lot of people (myself included) would think threats to the Democrat voter base would be the worst thing to progressives. Apparently that’s not the case. The biggest threat is anything that challenges their political money base.

Uber is a fine example of free enterprise at work. It uses existing untapped resources (people who already have vehicles) to provide a service better at a cheaper price than what is already offered (taxi services, in this case), and the people who do the work (individual citizens using their own vehicles) get to enjoy a little prosperity for their efforts. The process is self regulating (reputational tracking) which protects both passengers and drivers, and all this happens in real time. And drivers get to set their own schedules to work as much or as little or how they want. Is this a great country or what?

Well, for some, the answer is “or what”.

You would think offering the people more choice, improved service, at a lower price, with no increased risk to their well being would be a good thing. But you’re not an ultra leftist, are you? You don’t think government knows best and government needs to be in charge of everything and control people’s choices (except who they have sex with), do you? But some people are ultra leftists, radical progressives who think too much freedom and independence is a danger to us all.

The Washington Post’s Emily Badger recently chronicled how NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to limit Uber. The mayor essentially tried to paint Uber as a big corporate bully trying to tell government what to do. Does Uber make money in the billions? Yes. Is Uber a big corporation? Well, that depends on a few of the details. You see, the many people offering rides to people are the primary driving force of Uber. Without them Uber would never have gotten off the ground. Then there are the millions of people to use Uber to transport themselves. They are the paying customers, they are the source of Uber’s billions. Why would so many people in big cities choose Uber over taxies and public transportation? I’m sure you can figure that out on your own.

But to make choice and innovation and convenience look bad de Blasio essentially has to treat Uber like the Kulaks, a class of peasants (that’s you and me, and Uber drivers) who have the gumption to rely on ingenuity and ambition to create something other people are willing to pay for but has the unfortunate effect of challenging government cronyism. And what crony industry is being challenged by Uber – taxi cartels. Badger provides this nugget in her article:

“This lets other cities know that Uber is not going to be intimidated by municipal governments,” said Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU, “that the days of taxi industry cartels are over, and that meddling with how people get from place to place is not easily done in an age of Internet-based mobility.”

Okay, if you’d like a less politically loaded term, instead of taxi cartel how about we just call them Medallion owners. But they are an example of cronyism none-the-less. In fact, what is a medallion in this context anyway? It’s a regulated requirement of taxi companies, companies who are highly regulated by their local governments and have to pay sometimes over $1 million to have the right to transport people around town. And the taxi industry’s multi-billion dollar bottom line is being threatened by Uber. But because of the many regulations on taxis, so is the tax revenue big city governments collect from taxi companies.

Ironically, it is taxi companies who are acting like a big corporate bully trying to tell government what to do. Taxi companies are complaining that Uber is taking business away from medallion owners and driving prices down. Oh my! And to rectify this horrible travesty taxi companies are pressuring governments to clamp down on Uber. And taxi companies have allies.

The Observer’s Ronn Torossian also seems to think Uber is a danger to the people, not merely the taxi companies. Torossian is worried that Uber drivers are unregulated and therefore dangerous. Never mind pedestrians are unregulated and people walk passed them all the time. But government regulation is not the only means of regulating Uber and similar businesses. Market self-regulation is happening via the reputation tracking feature in Uber. The reputation tracking idea is old, as far as technology goes. And it’s viability has been proven beyond doubt by giants such as Ebay.

On the more mindless end of things is infamous personality Russel Brand, complaining about profit. We all know cab companies are in the transportation business for money but Brand doesn’t seem to realize this. And he thinks Uber drivers don’t put their “profits” back into the local economy like official cab drivers do.

On the elitist, arrogant side is Mayor de Blasio himself. He was offered an opportunity to debate the issues with Uber but smugly rejected the invitation claiming he doesn’t “debate with private corporations” and labeled the open invitation as an attempt to dictate to government.

But the public isn’t buying that. While there is indeed a lot of blowback, guess who’s defending Uber – the people! Not only Uber drivers, but Uber’s customers are defending it. Uber agreed to a four month study of its impact on traffic and the environment, which also gives de Blasio room to maneuver for his cronies who don’t like Uber. While de Blasio lost this round, the battle is not over.

Opponents of Uber would have you believe they are concerned about corporate greed (but not government greed or government cronyism). You should be aware of some history about government regulation of transportation.

The progressive political class doesn’t like Uber because it threatens the flow of money into their coffers. They claim they are trying to protect people and to protect the environment, but to quote the mayor, “Let’s not kid ourselves about their motivations.”

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Malcolm X: Black Democrats are ‘chumps’

Malcolm X
Excerpt from The Ballot or The Bullet
April 3, 1964
Cleveland, Ohio

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Democrats want to force everyone to pay for abortions. So much for having a choice.

Abortion opponents used to be told things like “if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one”. But Democrats want them to pay for abortions anyway. Because that’s not oppression, killing babies is health care!”

original article: Dems Propose ‘Historic’ Abortion Rights Legislation
July 8, 2015 by Laura Bassett

House Democrats proposed bold pro-abortion rights legislation on Wednesday that has no chance of passing in the GOP-controlled chamber, but highlights the massive gulf between the two parties on the hot-button issue.

The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, or the EACH Woman Act, would guarantee abortion coverage for all Medicaid recipients and women who receive health insurance through the federal government. The bill, authored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and co-sponsored by more than 60 House Democrats, would repeal the decades-long ban on abortion insurance coverage for U.S. federal employees, military servicewomen, Peace Corps volunteers and those who are insured through the Indian Health Service. It would also prevent state legislatures from interfering with the private insurance market and banning insurers from covering abortion.

Specifically, the bill would overturn the Hyde Amendment, a policy rider that bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, except if a pregnancy arises from incest or rape. Anti-abortion politicians have been attaching the rider to important pieces of legislation each year since 1976, and it disproportionately affects minority and low-income women.

“Make no mistake– these lawmakers really do want to ban abortions altogether,” Lee said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Since they can’t, they employ these very devious and underhanded tactics to push abortion care out of reach for women who are really just struggling to just make ends meet, and that’s just wrong. Politicians have no business interfering with a woman’s private reproductive health decisions.”

When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, 86 percent of private insurance companies covered abortion. This meant that most women who purchased private insurance plans or received health coverage through their private sector jobs had abortion coverage, while Medicaid recipients and federal employees did not. But the passage of Obamacare seemed to alert Republican lawmakers to the fact that abortion was being covered in insurance plans, and more than 20 GOP-led state legislatures have since passed laws banning private insurance companies from covering abortion.

Republicans have tried to restrict abortion in the past few years by mandating ultrasounds, placing gestational limits on abortions and imposing harsh clinic regulations. While Democrats have pushed back hard, the Hyde Amendment and other efforts to restrict the funding and coverage of abortion have slipped into law relatively easily. Republicans have successfully branded federal insurance coverage of abortion as “taxpayer-funded abortions,” and President Barack Obama has accepted the Hyde anti-abortion language in Obamacare and year after year in unrelated bills.

This year, as Republicans in Congress push to ban abortions at earlier stages of pregnancy than the limit established by the Supreme Court in 1973, House Democrats are playing offense, too, by pushing for an unprecedented expansion of abortion coverage. Planned Parenthood, one of 39 national organizations working with the All Above All coalition in support of the effort, lauded the new legislation as “historic.”

“For 40 years, the majority of Americans have been saying that abortion should be safe and legal,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “And that means it should be safe and legal for everyone – not only for those who can afford it.”

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Remember when we needed to ‘get the money out of politics’? Never mind

original article: Government labor union spends $65 million on politics
April 3, 2015 by Jason Hart

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees funneled more than $65 million to politicians, lobbyists and activist groups last year.

Would you believe taxpayer money taken from government workers’ paychecks was sent to MSNBC host Al Sharpton? It was.

AFSCME donated $126,500 to Sharpton’s National Action Network, one of many examples of AFSCME spending member dues on polarizing “progressive” causes.

In the government union’s 2014 report the U.S. Department of Labor, AFSCME disclosed $64,585,115 in “Political Activities and Lobbying” spending. The union also reported more than $1 million in donations to political nonprofits — including Sharpton’s — as “Contributions, Gifts and Grants.”

Not all members share AFSCME’s priorities, as demonstrated since 2011 in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 empowered public employees to leave the union.

Act 10 “gave government workers a choice,” Nick Novak, spokesman for Wisconsin’s free-market MacIver Institute, said in an email to Watchdog.

“Most public employees now have the ability to leave their union if they don’t feel they are getting a value from it. AFSCME has lost 25,000 members in Wisconsin alone — nearly 70 percent of its membership,” Novak said.

“Government unions have become more and more political, and they have been able to do it on the backs of the taxpayers,” he added.

“If a public employee wants to leave a union because they disagree with its political activities, they now have the ability to do so in Wisconsin.”

Before Act 10, Wisconsin was among the states where government workers opting out of AFSCME membership could be forced to pay AFSCME “agency fees” as a condition of employment.

Unions aren’t permitted to use agency fees on politics, but the ability to collect forced fees lets unions spend more member dues on politics. AFSCME did not respond to questions from Watchdog about how the union’s spending decisions are made and communicated to members.

Because AFSCME takes its revenue from government workers, the union’s funding of Democrat politicians and political activist groups amounts to indirect support from taxpayers.

Taxpayer spending fuels AFSCME lobbying for more taxpayer spending. Dues taken from 1,337,126 members and mandatory agency fees taken from 125,255 nonmembers make the government union a powerful advocate of bigger government.

Sharpton and AFSCME officials are far from the only beneficiaries of this system.

AFSCME made a dozen political expenditures of $1 million or more last year, plus 16 political expenditures of $500,000-$999,000 and 27 of $250,000-$499,000.

The union’s direct campaign contributions and super PAC expenditures helped Democrats in Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida and elsewhere. AFSCME’s largest donation of 2014 was a $4,275,000 contribution to the Democratic Governors Association.

The vast campaign spending AFSCME reported to both the Department of Labor and the Federal Election Commission was overshadowed by tens of millions of dollars in contributions to leftist advocacy groups.

Americans United for Change, whose mission is “to amplify the progressive message,” received $1 million from AFSCME last year according to AFSCME’s Department of Labor filing.

AFSCME gave America Votes, “the central coordination hub of the progressive community,” $629,250 plus an additional $500,000 for the nonprofit’s “state engagement initiative.”

AFSCME contributed $1.7 million to Working America, union coalition AFL-CIO’s community organizing group. AFSCME gave environmentalist group League of Conservation Voters $500,000, and paid abortion advocacy group Planned Parenthood Action Fund $400,000.

Illegal immigrant advocacy group National Council of La Raza received $255,000 from AFSCME. Progressive activist networks ProgressNow and USAction received $250,000 and $130,000, respectively.

AFSCME paid $100,000 each to Citizens for Tax Justice, Jobs With Justice, Center for American Progress and CAP’s activist arm. The union also made contributions of $50,000 each to union think tank Economic Policy Institute and activist group Sixteen Thirty Fund.

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How does the federal gov’t take over state-lead education initiatives?

The nation’s top education official threatened Monday to withhold federal funds if California lawmakers approved pending legislation to revamp the state’s standardized testing system.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued the warning as AB 484 awaits a full vote of the Assembly and state Senate.

The proposed law would end the standardized exams used since 1999 and replace them next spring with a computerized system. The purpose is to advance new learning goals, called the Common Core standards, that have been adopted by 45 states.

California would be moving up its timetable for the computerized tests by a year, leaving some school districts scrambling to prepare. The plan also would result in the suspension of test scores for at least a year during a trial run of the new exams.

The lack of test scores attracted Duncan’s criticism.

“Letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition,” he said in a statement. “No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing.”

Duncan declined to specify what action he would take, and in fact, the federal government has no direct authority over state school systems. But the department controls billions of dollars in federal funds, which can make up about 10% of a school district’s budget. This money adds up to about $600 million a year for Los Angeles Unified, according to the district.

“If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds,” Duncan said.

read full article: U.S. secretary of education opposes California’s testing plan

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