Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Obamacare includes scrutiny, fines for charitable hospitals that treat uninsured people

original article: Obamacare installs new scrutiny, fines for charitable hospitals that treat uninsured people
August 8, 2013 by Patrick Howley

Charitable hospitals that treat uninsured Americans will be subjected to new levels of scrutiny of their nonprofit status and could face sizable new fines under Obamacare.

A new provision in Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, which takes effect under Obamacare, sets new standards of review and installs new financial penalties for tax-exempt charitable hospitals, which devote a minimum amount of their expenses to treat uninsured poor people. Approximately 60 percent of American hospitals are currently nonprofit.

Charity for the uninsured is one of the factors that could discourage enrollment in Obamacare, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or else face new taxes themselves from the IRS.

“It requires tax-exempt hospitals to do a community needs survey and file additional paperwork with the IRS every three years. This is to prove that the charitable hospital is still needed in their geographical area — ‘needed’ as defined by Obamacare and overseen by IRS bureaucrats,” said John Kartch, spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform.

“Failure to comply, or to prove this continuing need, could result in the loss of the hospital’s tax-exempt status. The hospital would then become a for-profit venture, paying income tax — hence the positive revenue score” for the federal government, Kartch said. “Obamacare advocates turned over every rock to find as much tax money as possible.”

Additionally, the rise in the number of insured Americans under Obamacare will make it more difficult for tax-exempt hospitals to continue meeting required thresholds for treating the uninsured, driving more hospitals into the for-profit category and yielding more taxable money for the federal government.

“The requirements generally apply to any section 501(c)(3) organization that operates at least one hospital facility,” according to a “Technical Explanation” report of new Obamacare provisions prepared by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on March 21, 2010, the day Obamacare passed.

Obamacare’s new requirements could slam hospitals with massive $50,000 fines if they fail to meet bureaucrats’ standards.
“The hospital must disclose in its annual information report to the IRS (i.e., Form 990 and related schedules) how it is addressing the needs identified in the assessment and, if all identified needs are not addressed, the reasons why (e.g., lack of financial or human resources). Each hospital facility is required to make the assessment widely available. Failure to complete a community health needs assessment in any applicable three-year period results in a penalty on the organization of up to $50,000,” according to the JCT report.

The government is particularly interested in how and why hospitals will be providing discounted or free care to poor patients, requiring each of them to “adopt, implement, and widely publicize a written financial assistance policy” and explain the methods they use to screen applicants for assistance and how they calculate patients’ bills.

A delegate working under the Department of Health and Human Services must review the innumerable reports charitable hospitals file every three years, along with copies of their audited financial statements.

After sifting through this massive amount of information, the delegate and HHS secretary must attempt to identify trends in the hospitals’ spending and send in a comprehensive report of their findings to Congress by 2015, according to the JCT report.

Healthcare experts warn that the Obamacare’s new requirements make it almost impossible for charitable hospitals to navigate treacherous new waters.

“Nonprofit hospitals should be advised that the new PPACA requirements will play a significant role in how they operate and report, specifically when it comes to billing and collections for services provided to the uninsured. The new law leaves many gray areas and hospitals themselves will have to establish eligibility criteria for financial assistance. Following the new procedures as best they can will ensure the best chance of maintaining their tax exempt status,” wrote D. Douglas Metcalf, partner at the law firm Lewis and Roca, in a 2013 op-ed entitled “Will nonprofit hospitals disappear under Obamacare?”

The White House did not return a request for comment.

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This is how cronyism works

original article: New York’s Taxi King Is Going Down
October 26, 2015 by Jared Meyer

People don’t deserve to be millionaires because they can get government to let them pick people’s pockets.

Evgeny “Gene” Freidman is no fan of Uber. The increasing popularity of this vehicle-for-hire (or ridesharing) company has lost him millions of dollars. He has even asked New York City taxpayers for a bailout. As difficult as bailing out the big banks was to swallow, bailing out a taxi mogul—who at one point owned more than 1,000 New York City taxi medallions—is an even harder sell. A bailout would be especially outrageous considering that Freidman and his financial backers are actively working to make consumers pay more for fewer options.

Freidman reluctantly took over his father’s modest yellow taxi business as a young man. He brought his experience in Russian finance to the industry, and started to accumulate increasing numbers of taxi medallions using highly leveraged financing. Freidman expanded a company with just a few taxis into a conglomeration of three- to five-car mini-fleets.

As Freidman’s taxi empire grew, he expanded into other cities, including New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He gained control of hundreds more medallions that are also now in financial trouble. His willingness to bid on practically any medallion that came up for sale helped drive a rapid increase in medallion prices across the country.

Subprime Taxi Medallions

This model can work when times are good but, as the housing crisis showed, it has its dangers. It works until another technology emerges, consumers move on, and funding dries up.

This is where Uber comes in. Competition from Uber has left investors wondering how much the company will grow and what further effects its growth will have on taxis’ market share. While yellow taxi medallions were selling for $1.32 million as recently as May 2013, now they may be worth as little as $650,000.

This drastic drop in price has made the banks and credit unions that fund Freidman’s vast enterprise nervous. For example, his companies still owe around $750,000 for each medallion financed by Citibank. Without new loans to meet existing obligations and expand his fleet, Freidman’s companies became insolvent. This is why he sought the bailout and wants the government to support the medallion market by offering taxpayer-guaranteed loans.

Adding to this financing crunch, the lease rates Freidman now can charge taxi drivers who rent his cars have declined. Many taxi drivers switched to Uber, which offersincreased earning potential, flexible work schedules, and improved driver safety. Competition led Freidman to complain that he is no longer able to charge the city’s legal maximum lease rate. This is promising news for drivers, but problematic for Freidman’s income.

There’s Not Much Argument for a Monopoly

Medallions commanded such astronomical prices in New York because yellow taxis had, and still do have, a monopoly on street hails in Manhattan south of the northern boundary of Central Park. Ubers come rapidly, but they are not street hails, because people summon them beforehand with a smartphone. In cities across the country that also use a medallion system, the same reasoning applies. Government restricts the supply of taxis below the level of demand, and medallion owners reap the profits—all at the expense of consumers.

It is not just Freidman’s companies that are in trouble. The banks and credit unions that funded him and other medallion owners are also worried. Just four credit unions hold security interests in over 5,300 medallions, for which they are on the hook for about $2.5 billion. In the face of greater potential losses, these companies have resorted to calling people who work in policy (myself included) to try and convince researchers that Uber is illegal and needs to be banned.

The credit union argument progresses as follows:

  1. Yellow taxi medallion owners were granted a monopoly on street hails.
  2. For-hire vehicles are only allowed to offer pre-arranged rides.
  3. Uber uses street hails, not pre-arranged rides, to connect riders with its driver partners.
  4. Therefore, Uber is illegally using street hails, and this infringes on yellow taxi medallion owners’ government-granted monopoly.

If the third premise is true, this argument could hold some rule-of-law water. It is not.

The law governing New York City’s street hails date back to the Haas Act of 1937. This law restricted the number of New York yellow taxi medallions to 16,900, which was lowered and now stands at 13,437—even though the city’s population has grown byover 20 percent since 1940.

The Haas Act also set the stage for other common carrier regulations that apply to the taxi industry. These regulations place substantial limits and requirements on taxi owners and drivers in exchange for their monopoly privileges. For example, the city’s Transportation and Limousine Commission sets fare prices, and fares cannot change with increased demand for rides. This is one of the main reasons it is so difficult to hail a taxi in the rain or at the beginning of rush hour.

Updating regulations takes time, but New York City taxis were finally granted the ability to accept ride requests from smartphones (e-hails) early this year. Once taxis were allowed to accept e-hails, something they needed to compete with new technologies, four credit unions argued that the technology was now off-limits for Uber—the company that had popularized e-hails. They sued New York City for infringing upon medallion holders’ monopoly privileges.

This makes no sense. How can a decades-old law covering street hails be construed to cover ride requests made through smartphones? Anyone who has tried to hail a taxi on the side of the road, and then used Uber, knows that the two experiences are vastly different. Simply put, holding your hand up is not the same as pressing a button on your phone.

How to Save Taxis Without Squeezing People

The path forward is not to ban ridesharing or bail medallion owners out. It is to make taxis more like Ubers. This takes more than simply allowing taxis to accept e-hails. Rather, the only ways to save taxis are greater flexibility in pricing and service and increased competition.

As Uber’s rise has made obvious, when the crucial aspect of competition is missing from markets, established companies do not have to worry about improving their services to attract and keep customers. Regulations need to be continually modified and updated in light of new technology.  There is no reason to require New York taxis to have expensive (and annoying) Taxi TVs. Pointless mandates such as this only increase the cost of taxi rides.

Even with a relaxed regulatory framework that embraces ridesharing and competition, taxis will still have an advantage. No one is talking about taking away New York City’s yellow taxi monopoly on street hails. Applying antiquated laws and regulations to new technology is what laid the groundwork for the rise of Uber and other ridesharing services in the first place.

Everyone Shouldn’t Pay for Some People’s Bad Bets

Credit unions oppose allowing Uber to grow because they want to protect their investments. The Queens County Supreme Court ruled against the credit unions last month. The court found that the credit unions did not have a cause of action against the city and its Transportation and Limousine Commission. This was a major win for Uber and consumers, but a death-knell for Freidman’s business and its financers.

The whole yellow taxi financing model is crashing, along with medallion prices. After the ruling, Montauk Credit Union, one of the plaintiffs, was seized by the New York State Department of Financial Services because of “unsafe and unsound conditions.” The day that New York City’s proposed cap on Uber’s growth was defeated, 22 of Freidman’s mini-fleet companies filed for bankruptcy.

Even if medallion holders such as Freidman lost a lot of money, it does not follow that the public should subsidize their losses. The returns from a yellow taxi medallion in cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, or New York far outpaced the stock market or gold for many years. The values of these medallions about doubled in each city from 2009 to 2013.

Investments carry risk, as Freidman knows from his background in finance. He made a poor calculation that the Manhattan yellow taxi street hail monopoly would continue to provide him enough future cash flow to satisfy bankers, who would loan him more money to expand his fleet. Freidman and his investors have no claim to a taxpayer-funded bailout to cover their poor business decisions. Perhaps they should consider investing in Uber instead.

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A Truly Honest Leftist Says Our Incomes Are the “Rightful Property” of Government

original article: A Truly Honest Leftist Says Our Incomes Are the “Rightful Property” of Government
September 21, 2015 by Dan Mitchell

In a perverse way, I admire leftists who openly express their desire for bigger government and less liberty.

That’s why I (sort of) applauded when Matthew Yglesias wrote in favor of confiscatory tax rates while admitting the government wouldn’t generate any revenue.

And I gave Katrina vanden Heuvel credit for openly admitting her desire to redefine “freedom” so that it means a claim on other people’s income and property.

Both are proposing horrible policy, of course, but at least they’re honest about their goals and motivations. Unlike politicians, they’re not trying to disguise their intentions behind poll-tested platitudes.

We can now add another person to our list of honest leftists. The new leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, Jeremy Corbyn, is a British version of Bernie Sanders, except he really is a socialist who believes in government ownership and control of business. And the chief economic adviser to Corbyn is Richard Murphy.

And, as reported by the U.K.-based Sun, Mr. Murphy openly says everyone’s income belongs to government.

Chartered accountant Richard Murphy, 57, is the brains behind the “Corbynomics” strategy of renationalisation, higher taxes and printing millions of pounds in “new” money. …his bizarre ideas have already sparked fears among Britain’s top economic experts… One of Murphy’s strategies was revealed in August 2014… The dad-of-two claimed taxpayers’ money was NOT their own – and was instead the state’s “rightful property”. Murphy said: “I would suggest that we don’t as such pay taxes. The funds that they represent are, I suggest, in fact the property of the state.”

To be fair, sometimes people mangle their words. To cite one hypothetical example, accidentally omitting a  word like “not” might totally change the meaning of a sentence and give a journalist an opportunity to make a speaker look foolish.

So maybe Mr. Murphy didn’t really mean to say that the government has first claim on everyone’s income.

But if you continue reading, it becomes apparent that he really does believe that government is daddy and the rest of us are children who may be lucky enough to get some allowance.

“…if we give the state the power to define what we can own, how we can own it and, to a very large degree, what we can do with it – and we do – then I would argue that we also give the state the right to say that some part of what we earn or own is actually its rightful property and that we have no choice but pay that tax owed as the quid pro quo of the benefit we enjoy from living in community. Murphy went on: “Well let me inform you that there is no such thing as ‘taxpayers’ money’: it is the government’s money to do what it will with in accordance with the mandate it has been given and for which it will have to account.

Wow, this truly gives us a window into the soul of statism.

Though let’s be fair to Murphy. He’s simply stating that untrammeled majoritarianism is a moral basis for public policy, even if it means 51 percent of the population ravages 49 percent of the population. And that’s an accurate description of how economic policy works in the United States ever since the Supreme Court decided to toss out the Constitution’s limits on the power of the federal government.

Moreover, Murphy’s view is basically reflected inthe “tax expenditure” concept used in Washington and the “state aid” concept in the European Union.

None of this justifies Murphy’s poisonous ideology. Instead, I’m simply making the grim point that statists already have achieved some of their goals.

But maybe it will be easier to counter further attacks on economic liberty now that Murphy has openly said what his side wants.

P.S. There are two types of honest leftists. Richard Murphy, like Matt Yglesias and Katrina vanden Heuvel, are honest in that they openly state what they really believe, even when it exposes their radical agenda.

Some other folks on the left have a better type of honesty. They’re willing to admit when there is a contradiction between statist ideology and real-world results. Just look at what Justin Cronin and Jeffrey Goldberg wrote about gun control and whatNicholas Kristof wrote about government-created dependency.

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If You Still Support Planned Parenthood, You Are Simply Not a Decent Person

original article: If You Still Support Planned Parenthood, You Are Simply Not a Decent Person
August 20, 2015 by Matt Walsh

The latest Planned Parenthood video is out. This time, it’s revealed that living babies with beating hearts are being sold and dissected.

One might think this is big news. One might think this is the biggest news going on right now. One might think the whole country should stop in its tracks and focus intently on this story. One might think that any decent human being would be overcome by a bitter, violent, passionate anger at these Planned Parenthood revelations. One might think we’d all be moved to do something. Do something, damn it. Do something.

But one is clearly not familiar with how this country works. Indeed, the first couple of Planned Parenthood videos garnered some interest, but the large collection of bored, emasculated narcissists in our culture have responded with an increasingly loud yawn with each successive installment.

If polls are to be believed, Planned Parenthood is actually still a pretty popular organization, and out of the people who saw the videos, less than half now have a more negative opinion of the child butchers.

Less than half.

Dear God, forgive us.

Of course, the media hasn’t helped matters. If you rely on mainstream “journalists” for your information, you probably didn’t hear a single word about the most recent footage, even though it contains blockbuster, earth-shattering news. You’ve likely been inundated with stories about Donald Trump and maybe Hillary Clinton, but not the continued wholesale slaughter and sale of infants.

Social media hasn’t been any better. Yesterday, several hours after the video was released, here were the top trending headlines on Twitter:

  • “Jared Fogle to plead guilty to underage sex, child porn”
  • “Did Shaun King mislead Oprah about his race?”
  • “Deez Nuts joins 2016 presidential race”
  • “50 crazy things photographers do to get the perfect shot”
  • “Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green split after 11 years together”
  • “Dolphins safety carted off field with ACL injury”

Conspicuously, out of the top 20 hot topics, none of them had anything to do with a billion dollar conglomerate ripping the brains out of children’s heads.

(Incidentally, it’s interesting that Jared Fogle is being arrested for child porn at all. It’s legal to execute children and use their bodies for medical research, so why exactly is it illegal to use their bodies as sex objects? When it comes to vile, wretched, despicable creatures, child pornographers and Planned Parenthood employees are clearly in the same subspecies. What’s the moral reasoning behind funding one and locking the other in prison?)

That’s our society for you. Infatuated with personalities, obsessed with politics and celebrity, but bored with the little details like life and death and genocide. We are, collectively, a terminally ill cancer patient worrying about a pimple on her forehead, or a man complaining about the scratch on his fender while the mangled pedestrian he just hit dies bleeding on the pavement.

I just can’t take this anymore. This preoccupation with irrelevant minutiae. This insane self-centeredness. This absolute disregard for human life. It’s not just strange or curious or unfortunate anymore; it’s downright sociopathic.

Is that the problem — mass sociopathy? Or are we just callous? Selfish? Afraid? Stupid?

I don’t know. I imagine the truth is a mix of these things. I imagine when some historian writes the definitive book about us, it might actually be titled, “Callous, Selfish, Afraid, and Stupid: The Story of Western Civilization in the 21st Century.”

There are some exceptions, of course. Plenty of pro-life warriors are out there, fighting for life and liberty with all they’ve got, but they are not the majority. They are exceptions to the rule, and the rule is something entirely unconscionable and shameful.

So if you missed the last offering in the Center for Medical Progress’ ongoing “HELLO, BABIES ARE BEING MURDERED AND SOLD FOR PROFIT AND NOW MIGHT BE A GOOD TIME TO START GIVING A CRAP” series (not the official title), I’ll give you the rundown. It’s horrific and terrible, obviously, but its fatal flaw is that it doesn’t involve Kim Kardashian or fast food spokesmen, therefore it has little hope of gaining the sort of attention it warrants.

The video opens with Deborah Nucatola, the lovely Planned Parenthood executive we met in previous episodes, explaining how she “huddles” with her team each morning to determine which babies will yield the best harvest.

We go to Holly O’Donnell, a former “tissue procurement specialist” with StemExpress, who reveals that “fully intact fetuses” are often cultivated for parts.

Cut to a procurement manager discussing how sometimes women go in for abortions and “are out in three minutes” because, by the time they’re ready for the procedure, the baby is “already in the vaginal canal” and it “just falls out.” In other words, it’s alive and in the process of being born.

In the following clip, a director for Planned Parenthood tells an undercover investigator that if they “alter their process” (a direct admission of a felony) they can “obtain intact fetal cadavers,” which are then cut up and sold in different shipments. The dismembered baby, she brags, is “just a line item.”

Back to Deborah Nucatola describing how the child’s “presentation” can be changed in order to preserve the brain.

O’Donnell then relays a story about a time when she witnessed the “procurement” of a developed baby with a beating heart. Her coworker reportedly squealed that it was “kinda neat.”

Cut to a succession of officials at Planned Parenthood and procurement firms detailing how babies can be aborted without destroying the bodies or poisoning the organs. There is really only one way to do this: deliver the baby alive, then dissect it. This is plainly stated by one official, who reports that sometimes the hearts are still working after the abortion.

The most disturbing part comes next. We see footage of a baby in a dish moving its limbs, as O’Donnell tells us how she was instructed to take the baby with the beating heart, cut open its face, and extract its brain.

This isn’t just the sale of aborted children we’re dealing with; this is the dissection of living babies. Babies are being born alive and murdered for their organs. Meanwhile, the sole counter to this claim is that the children are actually murdered moments before birth. That’s obviously not a viable moral defense to begin with, and it isn’t true, either.

This is what we’re facing: a situation where the best case scenario is that babies are being brutally murdered while still in the uterus and then disassembled in petri dishes minutes later. Essentially, Planned Parenthood is caught with a bloody knife, standing over a dead body, and their whole excuse is that they didn’t just kill the victim — they killed him seven minutes ago. But even that, it turns out, is too high an ethical bar for Planned Parenthood to reliably jump over.

Instead, they take babies with beating hearts and dismember them.

Do I need to repeat that a hundred times for it to matter to our culture?

Babies with beating hearts are being dismembered and sold or parts.

Babies with beating hearts are being dismembered and sold for parts.

Babies with beating hearts are being dismembered and sold for parts.

I could write 50,000 sentences elaborating on that theme, but I’m not sure any of it can do any good if “babies with beating hearts are being dismembered and sold for parts” isn’t already enough to fill you with an urgent, holy rage.

I probably can’t explain why this is wrong if you really don’t understand instinctively. I can’t infuse a functioning moral compass into your mind. Either you have a conscience or you don’t. Either you are a decent person or you are not. Either you care about the lives of children or you don’t. Either you will put all of your political prejudices aside and condemn this unmitigated evil or you won’t because you are a moral degenerate.

You cannot be a decent person and still support Planned Parenthood because “decent” means “morally upright and respectable.” There is nothing — absolutely nothing — morally upright or respectable about being an apologist for child killers.

We can debate many issues. We can listen to both sides of all sorts of topics. We can come to different compromises and reach all kinds of understandings. But not with this. With this there is just good and evil. You are one hundred percent right or one hundred percent wrong, with no room at all left in between.

A few other notes:

1) To “Christians” who have not yet taken a stand, know this: it is a sin to condone Planned Parenthood’s actions. It is a sin to make excuses for them. It is a sin to stay silent.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said silence in the face of evil is itself evil. If you are willfully complicit in the murder of children, you share in the responsibility for it.

Ask yourself, has God sent us here to come up with creative rationales for the worst evils of our time? Or has He sent us to be disciples of Christ and soldiers for Truth? How do you think God views the destruction of precious and innocent human life? How do you think He views His supposed followers who hide in the corner like spineless traitors while His children are ripped to shreds and stuffed in biohazard containers? Do you imagine He’s proud of such behavior? Do you think He will not see that justice is done? Do you really think He will ignore the cries of these children just as you have? Do you think you’ll never have to answer to Him?

These videos are a great gift from God. He has struck a severe blow against the forces of darkness by bringing their deeds into the light. But this gift could also be our damnation if we fail to act or to care. Now we have no moral alibi. It’s out there in the open, the “grey areas” we manufactured in our heads have been obliterated. God has put it all in front of us and said, “Here you go. Now it’s time to choose a side.”

Whose side are you on, friend?

2) Donald Trump likes to say a nation that doesn’t protect its borders is not a nation. I agree, but a nation that doesn’t protect its children is even less a nation. A nation that preys upon its young is a parasite.

You can tell me all about our technological achievements and our medical advancements and our wealth and our art and whatever else, but none of it means anything if we can’t even shield our own children from the worst barbarity and cruelty the world has ever seen. How can we celebrate our “exceptionalism” when we’re not exceptional enough to stop our government from funding the daily slaughter of infant children?

You might say that a house without walls is not a house, and this would certainly be an apt comparison for a country without a protected border. But the most important thing about a house is the family it shelters inside. What can be said then about our “national family”? We kill our young and hope their bodies will be useful to cure our diseases. We’ve become like villains in some macabre comic book, trying to live for a million years by devouring the flesh of infants. That’s not much of a family, and we are not much of a country.

3) It’s clear that progressives are born with some kind of genetic irony deficiency. They seem to be incapable of noticing their own ironic contradictions, no matter how extreme.

Here’s a Tweet from Chris Hayes, an MSNBC host and pro-choice radical:

anchorbabies

Tiny humans to be cherished and valued, Chris? I agree. But I think our significant disagreement comes with the application of this concept. You believe the tiny, valuable, cherished humans should be legally eligible for summary execution; I, on the other hand, tend to think “cherished” and “valued” people should be afforded basic protections against torture and murder.

But Chris isn’t the only liberal suddenly discovering an affection for “tiny humans”:

Hillary Clinton: they're called babies

Yes. They’re called babies. Unless they’re in a Planned Parenthood clinic, in which case they are, alternatively, “tissue,” “product,” or “profit.”

But then again, this is coming from Hillary Clinton, the same person who describes herself in her Twitter bio as a “women and kids advocate,” despite being a pro-abortion extremist who spent 20 years intimidating and silencing the women her husband sexually assaulted.

Apparently she has some very unique ideas about “advocacy.”

4) Some Republicans are afraid that it might be impolitic to shut down government for the sake of defunding Planned Parenthood. I think Conservatives need to make it clear that it’s now quite impolitic if they don’t. This should not even be a discussion. Of course government should be shutdown to prevent it from giving another 500 million dollars to baby butchers. I’d sooner burn the whole system to the ground and start over again from scratch than let this go on for another year.

I can tell you for sure that I will not support, and will actively campaign to undermine, discredit, and shame, any Republican who refuses to dedicate themselves sincerely and completely to the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the prosecution of Planned Parenthood officials, and the criminalization and destruction of the entire abortion industry.

I am done giving any Republican even the slightest room to breathe on this issue. Stand up or shut up and go away. I have absolutely no use for  a Republican who can’t get it right when it comes to baby murder. No use whatsoever.

5) People often ask me what they can do about all of this. That’s a good question, and I wish we were at the stage where all conservatives and Christians only needed to know what to do, rather than still needing to be convinced that they ought to care in the first place.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but as far as I see it, our attack should be, and is, multi-pronged:

  • Keep the issue out in the open. Talk about it on social media. Talk about it with your friends. Take a stance publicly, through whatever forums you have available to you.
  • Support candidates who are one hundred percent pro-life and fully committed to the cause. I won’t tell you which candidates fit that bill because I think they still have to prove themselves.
  • Take to the streets. Picket Planned Parenthood clinics. March. Rally. Be present and active physically.
  • Money talks. Our government gives half a billion dollars to the abortion industry. You might not have that much to give, but donate whatever you can to pregnancy centers and other organizations that serve the cause of life.
  • Pray. If we aren’t going to include prayer in this crusade, it will be hopeless. Pray. Every day.

So we’re talking, we’re pressuring, we’re marching, we’re giving, we’re praying.

But it begins, as I said, with caring.

This is the most basic step. We have to care.

To not care is a willful act, an evil act, and there’s just no excuse for it anymore.

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Federal watchdogs accused of stealing lunch money from needy kids

Federal watchdogs accused of stealing lunch money from needy kids
August 12, 2015 by Fox News

Five employees who work at a federal watchdog agency tasked with rooting out fraud and abuse were indicted Tuesday after investigators say they concocted a plan that stole lunch money from needy children.

Prosecutors say the employees, all working with the Government Accountability Office, as well as the spouse of a separate GAO worker, tried to illegally obtain reduced-price school lunches for their children. They did so by falsely reporting their incomes in order to qualify for the discounted government meals.

“There is no excuse for stealing funds intended to go to children whose parents cannot afford the school lunches,” Maryland’s Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said in a written statement announcing the news. “Their actions are made even worse by the fact that some of them claimed to have not just low income, but no income at all, even though they were working full-time jobs at the GAO.”

One of the accused is Lynette Mundey, a Prince George’s County school board member. Mundey, along with Barbara Rowley, Jamilah Reid, Tracy Williams, Charlene Savoy and James Pinkney, the spouse of a GAO employee, were charged with filing false applications, fraud and theft.

Federal officials say the group bilked the program designed to benefit needy children out of $13,000 over the course of five years. They did so by either under-reporting their income or in some cases, reporting that they had no income even though their actual salaries ranged from $55,000 to $78,000.

Children who are legally eligible for the reduced-cost lunch program must come from households with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level – or about $30,615 for a family of four.

A reduced-price lunch costs an elementary child 40 cents compared to $2.75 for a full-price meal, according to the Prince George’s County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services.

“This is a program for people who can’t afford it, but these are people who can,” John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office told The Washington Post in a statement.

Calls to Mundey as well as the Prince George’s County Board of Education were not immediately returned.

abuse, bureaucracy, children, corruption, criminal, ethics, fraud, funding, government, greed, nanny state, poverty, scandal, spending

Filed under: abuse, bureaucracy, children, corruption, criminal, ethics, fraud, funding, government, greed, nanny state, poverty, scandal, spending

Planned Parenthood can’t even be honest about website maintenance

Planned Parenthood Fundraises Off ‘Extremist Attack.’ Then People Took a Closer Look…
July 30, 2015 by VICTORIA TAFT

Planned Parenthood claimed their website was hacked by anti-abortion “extremists” yet somehow the website was still able to solicit (and apparently process) donations from the public. It turns out PP implemented a “site down campaign” falsely purporting their website was attacked. Some people actually looked into the source code of the website to discover the fraud.

When the scam was made public PP tried to cover their tracks by claiming the site was under maintenance, and yet was still able to accept online financial donations. It seems the situation is worse that it originally looked – instead of a hack attack, it was a smear campaign designed to drum up sympathy for PP and make them look like the victim by fraudulently accusing their critics of committing a crime. Does this campaign in itself qualify as a crime?

read the full article

abortion, abuse, bias, campaign, corruption, cover up, criminal, extremism, false, fraud, funding, gaffe, greed, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, lies, progressive, propaganda, scandal

Filed under: abortion, abuse, bias, campaign, corruption, cover up, criminal, extremism, false, fraud, funding, gaffe, greed, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, lies, progressive, propaganda, scandal

Planned Parenthood gets paid for work it doesn’t do

original article: What These Pro-Life Groups Have to Say to Companies Donating to Planned Parenthood
July 24, 2015 by Kate Scanlon

On Tuesday, The Daily Signal published a list of companies that donate or have donated directly to Planned Parenthood, either through grants or through matching employee gifts. We used data from 2nd Vote, a website and app that tracks causes that corporations donate to.

We asked each company about its donations to the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Spokespersons for three of the companies—Coca-Cola, Ford and Xerox—objected to their inclusion on the list. When The Daily Signal provided the companies with a Planned Parenthood website listing them as donors, they said they would be contacting the organization to be removed.

Planned Parenthood later removed all corporate donors from the site.

Many of the companies acknowledged that they contribute to Planned Parenthood through their employee gift matching programs.

The Daily Signal reached out to pro-life groups to ask what they would tell consumers about these companies.

Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, said that “this shows how badly Planned Parenthood is hurting.”

“A couple of years ago, businesses would have replied that they proudly supported Planned Parenthood or live in fear if they didn’t (remember what they did to the Komen Foundation?) but today they are the defense, rushing to say that they are not directly donating to Planned Parenthood but instead are giving their employees the option to donate—which is still giving money to the abortion giant,” Hawkins said.

“You can’t just donate to Planned Parenthood and say your donation is earmarked for utilities or staff or paper clips but not abortion.”

“The building and the staff and the utilities all contribute in some way to abortion and are involved [in] it,” Hawkins said. “Any money whatsoever going to Planned Parenthood in any way contributes to the more than 327,000 abortions they commit every year—and who knows what else they do behind closed doors, some of which is thankfully now being revealed because of the Center for Medical Progress videos.”

Rev. Clenard Childress of the Life Education and Resource Network said that he applauds companies who practice corporate responsibility, but that the companies on the list need to more carefully scrutinize “to whom they are writing checks.”

“The community should hold them accountable,” Childress said.

He criticized the companies who said they will donate to “any” organization their employees choose.

“Would you write a check to the Ku Klux Klan?” Childress asked.

Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life, said her organization has called for Planned Parenthood to be defunded because there “have always been concerns” about it.

She said that not only is Planned Parenthood allegedly selling fetal organs, but its employees also “changing their abortion procedure” to obtain them.

“We know, from history, that we cannot trust Planned Parenthood,” Day said.

“Just a few years ago, the Komen Foundation decided not to provide grants to organizations who do not actually perform mammograms. Planned Parenthood, who does not perform mammograms, embarked on a huge PR campaign to complain about Komen’s policy because their half a million dollar grant was pulled. PP raised over $3.3 million in 24 hours (6 times the grant they would have lost). Komen was hit hard by the smear campaign and lost millions of dollars at future fundraising events. Planned Parenthood’s grant for mammograms was restored, but they still do not perform mammograms. The grant would have paid for 50,000 mammograms for women.”

“American tax dollars should be allocated to companies we can trust, not to organizations that bring customers into their business, offer a procedure—abortion—and in turn benefit financially from their recommendation, selling hearts, lungs and livers,” Day added.

“American businesses should follow this same protocol.”

abortion, cover up, ethics, funding, greed, ideology, pro-life, protests, scandal

Filed under: abortion, cover up, ethics, funding, greed, ideology, pro-life, protests, scandal

Planned Parenthood Faces Allegations From Former Clinic Worker in Graphic New Video

original article: Planned Parenthood Faces Allegations From Former Clinic Worker in Graphic New Video
July 28, 2015 by Kelsey Harkness

A new documentary-style video was released today about Planned Parenthood’s alleged “black market” of the harvesting and selling of fetal body parts.

The 12-minute video, titled “Human Capital,” features a woman who says she previously worked for a company that procured tissue and organs for Planned Parenthood clinics describing what she considers to be the profit motive involved in the harvesting of aborted fetal body parts.

Viewers should be warned that the video is graphic. There are images of aborted fetal body parts.

“I thought I was going to be just drawing blood, not procuring tissue from aborted fetuses,” says Holly O’Donnell, who claims she fainted on her first day of work.

They [Planned Parenthood] get paid from it. They do get some kind of benefit.

Under federal law, is illegal to profit off of the sale or purchase of human fetal tissue.

The video also features undercover footage of Dr. Savita Ginde, vice president and medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Denver.

Standing in the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic pathology laboratory, where fetuses are brought after abortions, Ginde suggests the clinic benefits in some way from harvesting these organs, stating payment per organ “works a little better,” according to the video.

“I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it,” she says.

The episode, produced by the Center for Medical Progress, follows two undercover videos depicting senior Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting of organs from aborted fetuses.

Planned Parenthood has adamantly denied that the organization profits off of tissue from aborted babies, and says the videos have been heavily edited to depict Planned Parenthood workers in the worst way possible.

The previous two videos triggered congressional investigations and calls to end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.

According to its annual report, Planned Parenthood received more than $500 million in taxpayer funding while performing 327,653 abortions, making it the nation’s largest abortion provider.

In the coming weeks, the Center for Medical Progress is expected to release more episodes as part of its “Human Capital” series.

abortion, babies, corruption, criminal, ethics, extremism, greed, left wing, liberalism, progressive, scandal, video

Filed under: abortion, babies, corruption, criminal, ethics, extremism, greed, left wing, liberalism, progressive, scandal, video

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.”

bias, bullies, bureaucracy, capitalism, corruption, culture, Democrats, elitism, extortion, government, greed, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, regulation, scandal, video

Filed under: bias, bullies, bureaucracy, capitalism, corruption, culture, Democrats, elitism, extortion, government, greed, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, regulation, scandal, video

Planned Parenthood and Unfettered Congressional Spending

original article: Planned Parenthood and Unfettered Congressional Spending
July 22, 2015 by Zack Pruitt

The U.S. Constitution permits congressional spending for two purposes only — to pay debts and to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the country (Article 1, Section 8).  Experts have debated ad nauseam over the proper interpretation of the terms “common defense” and “general welfare” but it is difficult to deny that modern spending has far surpassed the intent of the Founders and, in some cases, reached the point of absurdity.  With entire websites devoted to exposing the excesses of government spending that has virtually no limits, it is inevitable that taxpayers will be forced to subsidize things that they view as morally questionable.

Planned Parenthood receives over $500 million each year from American taxpayers, which comprises over 40 percent of its budget.  It was recently shown on video ostensibly seeking to profit from the sale of aborted baby parts (as opposed to being reimbursed for tissue donation), perhaps in violation of federal law.  Make no mistake, the big picture story here is not congressional overspending; it is the Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood graphically describing her efforts to “not crush” vital organs when performing abortions in an effort to preserve them and recoup “between $30 and $100 per specimen.”  In another video, the President of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors Council indicates a profit-motive for aborted parts by negotiating for higher prices and haggling over the cost of “intact tissue.”  When a system allows for unfettered spending, taxpayers can wind up paying not only for unnecessary services, but ones that straddle the line between genocide and the commercialization of human body parts.

Without government assistance it is unlikely Planned Parenthood could survive as currently structured.  A system without proper checks and restraints allows for congressional funding of a multitude of programs that are unnecessary, and some, like Planned Parenthood, that blur ethical and moral lines.  Numerous calls for investigation and defunding have followed the release of this video, but under the current setup it will be difficult to fully strip federal grants because congressional Democrats and the President support the continued funding of Planned Parenthood despite the recent revelations.  In 2013, President Obama said, “You’ve also got a president who is going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way… Thank you Planned Parenthood, God bless you.”

It should come as no surprise that when the government sanctions a morally questionable procedure such as abortion, that other morally suspect actions will stem from that tree, even ones that shock the conscience.  Historically, polls have shown this nation to be nearly 50-50 when it comes to general abortion rights, but the same polls move sharply against abortion in the 2ndand 3rd trimesters.  Partial-birth abortion is illegal but the methods described by Dr. Deborah Nucatola in the video closely resemble techniques in the partial-birth procedure.  She said that “[Planned Parenthood doctors are] very good at getting heart, lung, and liver…so I’m not going to crush that part, I’m going to crush below, I’m going to crush above, I’m going to see if I can get it all intact.”  Dr. Nucatola implies that specific steps are taken to preserve body parts, deviating from legal abortion standards.  In response to this aspect of the video evidence, Bill Murphy, co-Director of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Wisconsin, told the Washington Post “The general consensus is that’s unethical and unsafe… you can’t modify a life-saving procedure for a patient in order to harvest organs.”

Control of the nation’s money with few limitations on expenditures encourages legislators to provide funding for projects they personally deem necessary for society and equality.  The results are runaway spending and massive budget deficits.  Politicians routinely use the public coffers to strengthen their reelection efforts by securing the support of special interest groups.  Irresponsible fiscal policy combined with substantial political support for abortion rights have led to taxpayer funding for an organization that harvests and sells baby body parts for research.  It strains credibility to reason that this is what the Founders had in mind when they authorized spending only for debt, defense, and general welfare.

Public money is used for a multitude of things that many Americans find objectionable.  When standards for congressional spending become virtually obsolete, the financial door swings wide-open for potential abuse.  Likewise, it is not a stretch that a society that permits abortion and the use of fetal parts for research would give rise to groups looking to profit from it.  As Dr. Nucatola explained in the video, “I think for [Planned Parenthood] affiliates, at the end of the day, they’re a non-profit… if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.”

What has resulted is a perfect storm of economic entropy and blurred bioethical lines, in which congressional spending is rubber-stamped and prices can be placed on human body parts.  This lethal downward trajectory of fiscal and moral standards tugs at the fabric of society in ways that is harmful to both the economy and to the culture.  It is one thing for evil to exist but it is another for that evil to be sanctioned by the government and paid for by the people.  Without dramatic financial reforms and near-unanimous condemnation of immoral actions, we can expect an exponential increase of morally objectionable activity subsidized by the taxpayers.

Ending the trafficking of aborted baby parts will not be easy, but a return to the original plan for congressional spending would be a good start.

abortion, babies, bureaucracy, congress, constitution, corruption, ethics, extremism, funding, government, greed, ideology, political correctness, politics, public policy, reform, relativism, scandal, spending, taxes

Filed under: abortion, babies, bureaucracy, congress, constitution, corruption, ethics, extremism, funding, government, greed, ideology, political correctness, politics, public policy, reform, relativism, scandal, spending, taxes

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