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A National Taxpayers' Bill of Rights?

This week, the JOURNAL returned to the distressingly familiar topic of government waste – in this story through the perspective of Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Waxman said:

“People work hard for their money. And whether you're a liberal or a conservative or whatever you call yourself, you shouldn't want to see it wasted.”

Various measures have been enacted on the state and local levels to limit government spending. Some hope they'll help reduce the waste that often accompanies earmarks and non-competitive government contracts.

The most prominent of these is the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR), a voter-enacted 1992 amendment to Colorado’s constitution that strictly ties government revenues to previous years’ spending levels adjusted for population growth and inflation.

TABOR's advocates point to Colorado's low taxes and strong economic growth and assert that, since the policy was directly enacted by voters rather than legislators, it is more democratic than a legislature influenced by special interests and prone to pork. Opponents say that Colorado's infrastructure is being neglected, that legislators' hands are tied regarding necessary programs, and that TABOR is too complex a topic for most of the voters who supported it to fully understand.

Controversial from the beginning, TABOR has been loosened on a number of occasions to increase educational funding and to compensate for periods of economic recession.

What do you think?

  • Should federal spending be frozen and tied to inflation and population growth, as with TABOR? Should there be some other system of strict spending limits? Why or why not?

  • Is the sort of oversight practiced by Rep. Waxman’s committee a better strategy than a strict limitation on spending? Why or why not? If so, who oversees the overseers?


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    Comments

    Billy-Don Moyers: Journalists are supposed to "follow the money", not chase it.

    Due to the Victory party of Barrack Obama, we had this so called over expectation that might other’s expected due to the President Obama winner’s. We have now discovered who our next head commander is. Congratulations, Mr. Obama on becoming America’s 44th President of the United States of America. Your endurance through the 22-month campaign is highly admirable. However, your journey has just begun. You have been chosen to become the decision maker for all Americans to resolve the major issues in our economy. First and foremost, the financial system and the faltering economy must be stabilized and we understand that you have proposed a number of different stimulus packages in recent weeks regarding this matter. Your plans to temporarily exempt seniors from having to make annual withdrawals from their IRAs and 401 (k)s after the age of 70 ½ and to temporarily exempt the unemployed from having to pay tax on their unemployment benefits will most likely have you score on both sides. Nevertheless, the biggest focus should be on keeping the bank bailout/credit repair that started on track, reduce real estate foreclosures and change the position of financial regulation. To sum up, you have all your objectives laid out for you, Mr. President-Elect.

    Click to read more on Payday Loans

    Tax payment designation: I'm not sure where it came from, but I am confident this idea could save the American democracy. I will advocate it as part of a larger reform program as long as we retain any semblance of representative government. Now who would oppose this idea? Who has something to lose?

    The Supreme Court has determined that campaign money is the equivalent of free speech under the Constitution and current law. It has recently been suggested that corporations have suprahuman free speech rights under the same precedents. The definition of intellectual property, copyright and patent are falling under corporate hegemony and expropriation. These are unjust and dangerous ideas to be overcome, and barring that, bent to the will of the people. That is why no one other than eligible voters should be given the right to designate.

    The Jeremiah Wright controversy harkens me back to ante-Bellum days of slavery, when George Fitzhugh argued that slaves were the capital of the Southern landowner, just as the mills and railroad tracks were the capital of the Northern industrialist.
    How could a Constitution of due process abruptly deprive a man of his accumulated capital on the force of unlegislated moral law? And yet, the Emancipation Proclamation does just that, bale and barrel, cut and dried, without so much as a dime on the dollar compensation.
    How'd dat happen?

    My belief is that the moral revolution is half completed, and that the enormously wealthy speculators who own the levers of unreasonable power must now be brought to ground, just as the slaveowners were so long ago. This is the character of human and moral progress, so long diverted, so long concealed in a back room like a malformed idiot. Where the capitalists see a shameful monster I see a liberating angel, arrested in metamorphosis, held hostage by our greedy and illegitimate oppressors. Workers and clever minds build our world and should control the produce directly. That is why I call my program Neo-Abolitionist. We work in the spirit of what has been accomplished, for what has yet to be completed.

    Maybe the greatest injustice of our times is that technology that could be used to educate and empower is being used to manipulate and exploit. A good example is how the Patriot Act divides and horrifies us, making us unable to respond to threats from malevolent outsiders and the commercial forces oppressing us alike.

    I am old now but I see hopefully beyond my lifespan to a world of cooperative worker ownership and worker management of all except small proprietorship, and a representational government directly connected to such reforms. Our motto: "No one can become or remain tremendously wealthy in a fair and just society," houses within the principle the opportunity for many beneficial reforms and advances.
    A new sustainable technology will arise when people have the opportunity for complete and unbiased self-education of their capability and choice which will be an integral part of each workday. Our minds are so clouded now with uncertainty and the stress of the current self-defeating means of making a living that no one can truly predict how reforms will be implemented, or what goodness and fellowship can be cultivated in our human nature.

    Let the designation of tax payments be the first step and we will all begin to see new possibilities and more efficient ways than monied competition and cruel "creative destruction." We will gain personal confidence by other means than longing and ownership.
    True,the past of carbon fueled cars on a gridlocked roadway, and robber overlords taking tribute from our labors, a weather system undermined by desperation and greed,and hungry people looking at overpriced food will always be part of our cautionary heritage, just as slavery and world wars are now. Humankind has already learned from cruel past errors, but is being restrained from acting upon obvious knowledge by those who parasite off us. Reform can be accomplished with relative non-violence through spontaneous people power.
    Join with us at Beret Folk School to advocate for Tax Payment Designation as a first step here in the United States toward saving our planet. I'm sure many of you have suggestions and constructive critiques. We will accept only expanding ownership of a consensus plan. If you are afraid to discuss with us now, imagine the failed and oppressive existence that is imminent if you fail to take responsibility. No contribution is asked except your time and attention. contact: beretco.op@gmail.com

    John Barbee: Exactly what "below" do you consider socialist? Here you are in enormous debt, and you are willing to take the entire blame upon yourself. Maybe you can work the rest of your days as a motel maid to pay "Massa" back.
    The sacredness of each human individual and the individualistic ethic that blames the victim are two distinct (and irreconcilable)concepts. Didn't anyone ever explain "structural dysfunction" or "engineered injustice" to you. (Even cavemen buy Geico insurance from Warren Buffet!)
    Look brother, declare bankruptcy now, and let Citibank eat the note. Think of your loved ones and seek a just world.

    Rather than withholding taxes from our paychecks, wouldn't it be great if we were forced each payday to send a check to the IRS and State for the grand total? We might actually have another Boston Tea Party, something that is long overdue.

    And my god, some of the socialistic writing below scares me to death. I'm facing some pretty big financial problems. And I would rather go through financial disaster than allow the government to take another step in the direction they propose. Does "give me liberty or give me death" and "live free or die" mean nothing to them?

    How sad.

    The Wessel and Borosage articles below are accurate, correct in their analysis, but incomplete and very short. Please Moyeristas see also Terry Gross's Fresh Air (WHYY archive ) of Feb.3 in which Professor David Greenberger (a former commodoties regulator and law professor) explains the instruments and procedures at fault and how they came about. He agrees with my friend Professor Ravi Batra that another Great Depression is probably on the way.
    If Bill Moyers continues in his failure to fairly address these issues we will know he is part of the lobbying and media propaganda keeping people ignorant of the theft of their slim chances for prosperity or even comfort. If this goes down like 9/11 Truth did on the Journal, we'll know who to blame.
    Another bull hockey session like the one about the demise of entitlements will have even progressives and populists clamoring to cancel Our sacred BMJ. Maybe Donohue or Rick Karr will tackle it. They're still selling household insulation over at PBS NOW.
    What in Hell are informed viewers supposed to think? Don't you-all want any membership money next pledge week? Bill Moyers has now been a hostage 61 days. beretco.op@gmail.com

    Ten Days That Changed Capitalism
    Officials Improvised To Rescue Markets; Will It Be Enough?
    March 27, 2008; Page A1

    David Wessel

    Ten Days That Changed Capitalism

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120657397294066915.html

    By Rob Johnson and Robert Borosage
    10 days That Changed Capitalism

    http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/10-days-changed-capitalism

    PRESS RELEASE (link, see Irene's post below)
    Ben Bernanke, former FED chairman, on a survey of Decider's Yellowstone oilfield, suggested that the "Smart Money" would acquire at least 20 shares of Congress, take a modest position in Final Supreme News (Newscorp+Supreme Court), but concentrate their portfolio in Decider, "where the real action is."
    Quiryed by a reporter as to whether his suggestion constituted a conflict of interest, he shot back that," assets are presently so concentrated that conflict of interest is an impossibility." He went on to recommend more deregulation "just for the Hell of it" he laughed. "There have been insufficient incentives for insider trading in the past , to the detriment of well-deserved returns on risk." Asked by another reporter what he predicted for the next quarter he replied, "More risky behavior on the part of prominent persons."

    (Glorious AFD from me too, comrades.)

    It came as no real surprise this morning when Sec. of Treasury Paulsen announced that the FED would absorb the SEC and the Treasury, take on a number of new regulatory powers, merge with Homeland Security, FEMA, TSA, the FBI, CIA, NSA and other unnamed covert branches, buy the New York and Chicago Exchanges and thus become a unitary self-regulating entity responsible only to itself and investor profits.
    He proceeded to introduce Sec. of State Rice who announced that the Executive Branch and the Presidency, because the government is "way-bankrupt," accept a complete takeover and merger with Exxon-Mobil. Each former stockholder (ne citizen) will receive one dollar per share making the takeover worth three hundred million dollars.She cautioned anyone objecting to this move that the new entity (Decider Inc.) has purchased Blackwater, CACI and Wackenhut in order to insure security and a smooth transition.
    Five minues later, Chief Justice John Roberts appeared on the Supreme Court steps with Rupert Murdoch to celebrate Newscorps option to purchase the courts, lock-stock-and barrel,for a fire sale price of 90 million dollars, exercising an option arranged on Sept.12, 2001.
    The only surprise of the day came when Nancy Pelosi disclosed a prospectus under which the Congress will go public. It will be the largest IPO in history.
    535 million shares will be offerred at an opening price of a million each.
    "Those who want a real stake in legislation must pony up by 4p.m. closing on Thursday," she cautioned,"The new reality will reflect a truth that has been obvious to most voters for some time. Now, with the votes under the control of informed shareholders with strong interests it will be much easier to campaign."
    Alan Greenspan was optimistic,"The new competitiveness optimized under the market reality of these three emerging firms can only lead speculative markets to unheard of gains."
    Happy April Fools!

    Why should you care that I'm housesitting in Cumberland , Maryland this week? On the ride up I saw what are supposed to be the Giant antenna dishes of the NSA in Virginia, though I was not able to find any of FEMA's purported internment camps on my route. They say the scenic steam train to Frostburg, where coal is still mined (and sometimes exported overseas) may begin its spring runs this coming weekend. (Oh, for those bygone days of carefree carbon emissions, exquisite nostalgia.) I will use the excuse of my internment camp search to guiltily ride it. The C&O Canal (terminus here) produced much lower emissions and now is a superb walking trail all the way to Washington, D.C. A guidebook suggests it connects to railway trails and many other pedestrian by-ways. With my electric scooter I'd be below NSA radar, cruising the gravel.

    Two Yankees, Ethan Allen and Douglas Kinan, are having a discussion over on the Race-Inner City-Cory Booker page. Champerties is the subject. Seems certain powerful interests in our country like to frame problems in a particular way so they can make money solving them. The prison industrial complex and terrorism are two big examples. Before 2001, the little bit of terrorism we had was more of a crime problem to be solved by courts rather than armies. Seems a cabal decided to attack WTC and the Pentagon and get the military-industrial-congressional complex in on the profits. The prison thing was perfected in the South after slavery was abolished. You could arrest any colored stranger and call him a criminal (terrorist), and put him right to work as a county laborer or rich man's slave right up into the 1980s. What agriculture that was left unindustrialized up to World War II was propelled by a parallel, virtually inescapable,debt peonage. They're still trying to keep 'em down on the farm in China.

    The idea here is how you frame the problem of idle labor in an exploitive market, and how much mobility you'll allow. Cory Booker would put the criminalized class to work insulating real estate. I ask you, Cory, who will own that real estate and who will pay the home boys a living.

    In the USSR we always said people were not free to travel or move, especially those in archepeligoes (country ghettoes). I like moving around, don't you?
    Yet we live in a country where one can not usually walk or bike safely to the next settlement or shopping center. Sidewalks and trails are lacking near most new developments and you have to have a car because of the absense of public transportation. What better way to keep people down in times of expensive fuel than to put a car on their back.

    I think a demand by the public and a mandate for a complete network of pedestrian and bicycle trails is in order for our nation. Not being able to eschew cars and walk or bike where you want is imprisonment. There's no better way to save energy, get healthy, and put people face to face. It's all in how you define the problem that determines the rational solution. Hiring bigtime engineering firms and multinational manufacturers to build short stretches of subway and light rail is champertie in this debtor nation. Let us all walk free by designating taxes for foot trails.
    Free also phenomenologist Bill Moyers who has now been a hostage 60 days.
    beretco.op@gmail.com

    When the TABOR amendment came up for significant changes via Referenda C and D on the Colorado ballot for November 2005, a remarkable coalition of leaders from every spectrum came together (democrats and republicans, business and labor) to work for changes to this mindless law.

    The author of TABOR, and the voters who passed it, forgot that in a representative democracy, We are the government and We own the roads, schools, prisons, and public educational enterprises -- all those things that require the combined effort of all citizens. We pay for all these things out of our own money by a process called taxes. If that word is too freighted with negativity, then pick another one. At the end of the day, the highway you drive on is maintained by your money, not by little green men dropping coins out of the sky.

    All those who decry wasteful spendiing are correct. But if the representatives you elected can't do the job to your satisfaction, then elect someone who will -- or run for office yourself.

    Most 'non-wasteful' spending goes for the maintenance of roads, or funding of schools, or the health of the aged and the poor among us. The current subprime mortage and credit crisis
    shows clearly enough that any of us might suddenly find ourselves poorer than we had expected.

    TABOR's tragic flaw was to adopt a meat axe solution to problems with government spending, and just cut funding without dealing with the needs the funds are for. It left Colorado a fiscal mess, with roads crumbling, the entire community college system on the verge of having to close, and the flagship University of Colorado so short of funds that Nobel prizewinners were leaving, and the new Anchutz Medical Center unable to pay its renowned
    researchers a competitive salary.

    I repeat, in a representative democracy the people who hold office do so at the pleasure of the voters. If they spend too much money, vote 'em out and put in more fiscally prudent stewards. If you don't want to spend money on the maintainence of roads, shut them
    down instead of leaving them a hazard.

    If you don't want to pay the costs of a major research university, close it down, rather than underfund it while keeping the fiction that you have a thriving institution.

    If you don't want to pay taxes for prisons, then set the captives free --
    or at least adopt reasonable sentencing guidelines.

    Colorado would best be served by throwing out its Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, and replacing it with a
    Taxpayers' Bill of Responsibilities.
    When people abide by their civic responsibiliities, the rights take care of themselves.

    Referendum C passed, and the state of Colorado is far better off for it. Now, at least, you don't have to worry that the bridge you cross may collapse before you get to the other side. And we have all learned the painful lesson that you simply cannot do things on the cheap -- or blithly cut funding when the needs for which the funds are collected are still there.


    Dr. Curt Schmidt, Author

    'A Taxpayers' Bill of Responsbilities':

    'What Every Voter Should Know About
    Taxes, Government, and Fiscal Responsibility'

    I also really like the tax designation idea below, although it didn't originate with Beret Co-op, but at Union Theological Seminary of New York in the late 1920s. Anyway, let's do it!
    I can see the tax forms now,with categories for defense,infrastructure, environmental protection, social services, border security, education and financial oversight and regulation.(and a blank category to write things in.) Being a distinct deduction category, entitlement funds could no longer be robbed for war and corporate welfare but would be set aside for safe investment until needed. Regulations would have to be put in place to prevent campaigning and coercion by interest groups in the media to distort taxpayer's common sense.
    A new kind of representative would be called upon to design efficient and targeted programs to limit waste. One's tax form would be a second partially secret ballot (choices inaccessible to prying) where personal assessments could be expressed. If something wasn't funded at first people would see the need and include it the next year.
    Why not let commercial interests have a menu vote too? Since people already have individual choices, and the same individuals own companies or stocks, to allow them double voting would be unfair. One citizen: one vote! You could choose to represent your ownership or investment needs through your menu rather than your personal assessment, but wouldn't that be self-defeating. The goal of designation is to filter out special interests. Minorities could designate as a block to secure funding. It might be that a base of tax money would still exist not subject to designation. Certainly corporate, business, excise,use, carbon taxes and tariffs would constitute a sizeable undesignated pool. Representatives could divvy it up according to need and urgency. Anyway, being able to decide how your taxes were spent would give you a bigger stake in the system.

    With this change each citizen would have two types of voting at their disposal. Worker ownership of enterprises would yield a third form of voting, and the restoration of free speech and redress would provide a fourth. What other ways can "you" think of to let the people express their needs and values?

    Grif J. 3-20 11:40AM
    U sure got to the essence of my intention. Actually we were talking trillions & U mentioned taxes-that thorn in the side of us Big Boys-can't something be done there?

    By the way-did U preceive that Obama's white grandmother was afraid of passing black men on the streets of Hawaii when the demographics were more non-whites than whites? That his father was from Kenya & Obama was not from relatives that were brought to Am. as slaves.
    Yeh. that slipped my the media I watch too.

    Respectfully,
    Billy Bob, Florida where votes don't count unlike Chi-town where even the dead have votes that count.

    Always, it's the Constitution, as if God wrote it! The flexibility of this document is the main thing that has kept it in use. The Founding Fathers were not especially religious, but were professionals, farmers, slave owners seeking a world in which they could operate. Even they paired it with the Declaration of Independence after the Articles of Confederation broke down. The idea was periodic revolution and workable reorganization for the present times.
    Again the people of this continent are oppressed, because our government is run by and for special interests. If it were not so, geriatric cases like Nader and McCain would not be running. We don't need a leader anyway, because elections are a sham. No matter who's elected they fall into the same nasty habits.
    Nowadays the FED can manipulate the whole economy without Congress saying anything. Billy Bob, say I loan you 30 billion at 2% and you invest it in Treasury Bonds at 4% and the people pay your dividend through taxes. You're just gonna wanta borrow more and more, you big ol' banker, and suck the life out of the country. I ask you, doesn't the sacredness of private property as written in the Constitution (with SUPREME COURT interpretation by REAL Conservatives) make this possible. You can't be secure in a one bedroom shack with three jobs as long as the big boys are shuffling the paper. Solution: Make Big Boys illegal. Let's have a Jubilee and start over with fair rules.

    Seems there are views that The Constitution should be worked around, with the differences depending on whether the view comes from the "left wing" or the "right wing".

    The system (Constitution) is in place that will allow for majority rule, with minority rights. However, when the voters let the national political parties make "rules" that eliminate candidates the big money,power brokers have not approved, before the majority of citizens have a chance to vote, then I get the impression the same voters will have trouble spending EastCcoast money on West Coast fires--or what ever.

    The Founding Fathers put their money and blood where their beliefs were. Today the trend seems to be not my blood & someone else's money.

    Vote the right people to office and things will work OK. Put the John Dalleys, Hughey Longs, & Tom Delays in office and maybe what we get is deserved.

    Compare Nader's long held views to the other candidates' stances, then ask what chance the Am. people have in even hearing a discussion on the differencies and you may get a feeling for the scope of hope.

    Can we go back to "We the People..."?
    Respectfully,
    Billy Bob, Florida

    Hear Here I agree with Grady Lee Howard's comment:

    The best way to keep taxpayers interested is to let them designate the purpose of the revenue they pay in and legislators deal with the implementation. Corporate and commercial taxpayers should be denied this constitutional perk.

    Though I do not yet understand why corporations and commercial taxpayers should be denied the right to determine where their taxes are spent...

    And I would like to know why Jack Higenbotham says:

    that budgeting by ballot box doesn't work...

    for that would seem to be one way to discover where taxpayers would spend their taxes.

    Bill Moyers,

    It is ironic that on a segment about holding government officials accountable you did not hold Henry Waxman accountable for his vote in the Iraq war. You let him pass the buck to George Bush. He said something like "If I'd known Bush was lying I wouldn't have voted for the war". And you let that go.

    Anyone who was paying attention would have been skeptical about the claims of the Bush administration. The relevant question is: “If Colin Powell, in Washington DC, claims to know where the weapons of mass destruction are, then why didn’t the UN inspectors in Iraq find them?” Why didn’t Waxman ask this question?

    The truth of politics is more complex than lying vs. not lying. The political cost to Waxman of voting AGAINST a war is high if the war goes “well” (such as the first gulf war). But the political cost of voting FOR a war is low if the war goes poorly but everyone else was on the band wagon. Your viewers are intelligent enough to understand this. You should have pressed Waxman about it.

    Dear Mr. Moyers,
    My family and I appreciate your reports. My teenagers never miss a show and voice their "informed" opinions readily at school and in discussions with other adults. You are a constant reference in their political papers.

    My teenagers are wondering what it will take for this president and his administration to be impeached. "Nixon was not half this bad and they threatened him with impeachment," is one of my son's mantras. My children are very disillusioned with todays government and its lack of ability to see proper justice served "for the people." The teenagers of today are certain they will inherit a legacy of total corruption. It is a sad thing to see, but we appreciate your honesty to "tell it like it is," as another famous journalist once said. The corruption is so blatant, truly we are a giant about to take a great fall. Many in the global community will be glad to see the US ego cut down to size.

    Keep us informed.

    Sincerely,
    A.I.R.

    How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principles shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men.

    Byron: Thanks for hearing our recommendations (Beret Co-op Folk School of Dallas, N.C.).
    Jack Martin and the school have adopted the following axiom:"It is difficult or impossible for anyone to become or remain extremely wealthy in a fair and just society." We advocate economic democracy as outlined by SMU economist Ravi Batra and other academics, with a sizeable part of capitalist enterprise being owned by workers within each enterprise. We go farther in recommending the devolution of corporate personhood as mistakenly protected under the 14th Amendment. While we see money as only a convention based upon a social contract, we believe that monetary reforms would follow the above changes. (The FED would shrivel and have to be replaced by better means.) The entire world could then follow our advantageous example, unlike now where they are forced to follow a downspiral of debt and extraction at the point of our guns or through the exclusion and starvation of restricted commerce. We are not free traders and believe tariffs also have their place in keeping regions and countries self-sufficient. Tariff revenues have proven the best way to finance government over centuries. Without the need to use threat and force in developing and protecting elite enterprise overseas our defense costs could be greatly reduced, and peacekeeping transferred to multi-national bodies. Peace and health to you Byron during this week of symbolic renewal. Contact us at beretco.op@gmail.com to initiate discussion. We do not link, neither do we force our opinions on others. We try to listen.(Spend your "growth pittance" wisely: We will pay interest on it later.)

    The best way to keep taxpayers interested is to let them designate the purpose of the revenue they pay in and legislators deal with the implementation. Corporate and commercial taxpayers should be denied this constitutional perk.

    Absolutely fantastic recommendation! I doubt any working taxpayer feels they have any say in how their taxes are spent, at least at the federal level.

    The entire tax system and code must be redesigned to allow working taxpayer much more say in how their taxes are spent. If they had this ability, then taxes themselves would not be so "demonized" as they are today by the republican party. The fact is, taxes are necessary but it's how much you tax and Republicans have done more damage to the dialogue of taxation by bastardizing taxes so much that we cannot have a civil debate about the role of taxation in a capitalist state.

    Not being one to throw myself in front of a speeding bullet to save a book author or political ideologue (but be my guest, Jack H. ,Jr. Mar. 16-1:09pm)I think neither budget by the ballot or oversight can be effective. The best way to keep taxpayers interested is to let them designate the purpose of the revenue they pay in and legislators deal with the implementation. Corporate and commercial taxpayers should be denied this constitutional perk.
    I see the present economy and social structure as a tight puzzle with few moves left. The only viable actions are forbidden. If we can't overcome the suicidal taboo of "the sanctity of private property" beyond a reasonable limit, we are destined to become a doomed culture of slaves and masters. Considering how the tax burden has consistently been shifted downward (since 1983) while productivity has risen phenomenally we have a society now of at least 60% wage slaves (slavocracy?). How can their judgment not be affected when they are under a heavy debt load and generating fear is one of the main purposes of media? An upward shift of taxes (progressive structure), mandatory segregation of entitlement deduction funds, and some say so in use of income taxes (even United Way and Community Charity Funds allow designations) would do alot to restore hope to the repressed and oppressed parts of our citizenry.

    For every law that wealthy, corrupt politicians create to prevent fraud by future wealthy, corrupt politicians, there exist 10 ways for the current law writers to circumvent the 'anti-fraud' law they enacted ...with voters none the wiser...

    I think that is what Max Kaehn meant by 'budgeting by the ballot box'?

    How quickly we all forgot "LoopHole Boy" Tom Delay ... to the end his lawyers kept insisting he broke no laws. And if a 'law' was not broken then ethics were not an issue. And if the shoes were switched, a man like him could just as easily have been a Democrat. Both major parties and 80% of the media are corrupt.

    Within our government, transparency cannot occur without a free media and a free media cannot exist without competition among individual journalists. That is the beauty of combining free speech with a free market.

    Easily, 1,000,000 people in this nation would throw themselves in front of a speeding bullet headed for Ron Paul, Richard Gage or Dr. David Ray Griffin but all we hear about on the media are people who sell 1,000,000 music albums, books or videos?

    How can we as a nation claim to support free speech when only 5 media moguls ultimately decide what 80% of the population will see, hear or read?

    J.W. Heginbotham Jr. Ohio

    As a resident of California, I can tell you that budgeting by ballot box doesn't work. What works is oversight by Congress, and transparency so citizens can check their work, and diligent reporting by the Fourth Estate to inform the voters.

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