Archive for the ‘federal overreach’ Tag

Don’t Fence Us In   Leave a comment

For Western state citizens, who typically value freedom and the ability to leave our homes and breath fresh air, it is very frustrating that we are constrained by the federal government onto tiny plots of land in cities because we are not allowed to own most of the land in the states we live in.

Alaskan Fights for Liberty   Leave a comment

John Sturgeon encountered the typical federal government attitude that Alaska belongs to the federal government … not just the federal lands, but the state lands as well. Like so many of us, it made him angry. He decided to do something about it and now he’s before the Supreme Court. This coincides with our local newspaper finally returning to local ownership resulting in a change in editorial policy. I included the editorial in its entirety, but I also provided a link to an Atlantic article that manages to deal with the issue sanely … as apposed to the rest of the liberal press, like Outside magazine. If you want to understand why Americans have taken over a National Park Service building in Oregon, this is one example. If this case is decided wrongly, Alaskans will no longer be able to use the rivers of the state to get anywhere without federal permission. In a state where 80% of the communities are not connected to a road system, that could be devastating. Lela

News-Miner opinion: Today in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that will resonate thousands of miles beyond the nation’s capital. The case of John Sturgeon v. National Parks Service and Department of Interior, being argued this week, could have big impacts on state residents’ ability to traverse waterways within Alaska. While the incident in question isn’t particularly notable — a disagreement over use of a hovercraft on a river flowing through a national park — the precedent it sets will be. It will provide a legal answer to the question of who has authority over navigable waters within the parks: the state or the federal government?

It’s a question Mr. Sturgeon and many Alaskans thought was settled. The relevant passage in the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act reads as follows:

“Only those lands within the boundaries of any conservation system unit which are public lands (as such term is defined in this Act) shall be deemed to be included as a portion of such unit. No lands which, before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act, are conveyed to the State, to any Native Corporation, or to any private party shall be subject to the regulations applicable solely to public lands within such units.”

Mr. Sturgeon, through his attorneys, makes a straightforward case. Based on established law, submerged lands under navigable waterways (in Mr. Sturgeon’s case, the Nation River) belong to the state, so state law is in force for those transiting them. As ANILCA states, state and private lands within the boundaries of the federal areas created by the act are not to be governed by the federal rules applying to the land surrounding them. If federal law were to apply on the waterways, the ability of Alaskans to access much of the land within the state — a land mass greater in size than the state of California — could be greatly curtailed. This is of particular concern for Alaska Native corporations with holdings adjoining such lands. Federal rule changes limiting transportation on waterways could isolate parcels and greatly hinder development, subsistence hunting and fishing or other uses for their land, directly contravening the stated purposes both of ANILCA and ANCSA.

The phrase “federal overreach” has been lobbed by state leaders and Alaska’s congressional delegation so often and loudly it has lost its meaning in some cases. But in the Sturgeon case, there’s no other way to describe what’s happening. In the language of ANILCA, Congress’ intent was clear. The law sought to strike a balance between protecting federal lands that would be governed under national laws and regulations and protecting the rights of Alaskans to use, traverse and transit private holdings and those of the state. By attempting to expand the jurisdiction of federal agencies, the agencies Mr. Sturgeon has sued are significantly endangering Alaskans’ rights in that regard.

Those with an interest in the balance of federal and state power should hope Mr. Sturgeon prevails and the rights of Alaskans to travel on state waterways are protected.

Arguing with the Indoctrinated 2 (Voluntary)   6 comments

So, I have established that I believe taxation is nothing more than highway robbery conducted by the majority using government as their bully boy.

I subscribe to the 10 Commandments that say “Do not steal” and I follow Jesus (God incarnate) as my example. When you actually study the Bible, you begin to notice that God never forces anyone to do anything against their will. He sets standards and consequences for not meeting them, then He leaves us free to decide our own path … to obey or to disobey as we choose.

Take Adam for example. God gave him one rule — don’t eat of that fruit on that one particular tree in the garden. He didn’t put the fruit out of Adam’s reach. Why? Because God understands that obedience is not truly obedience if you have no choice. He made keeping the one rule voluntary for Adam to give Adam a choice in the matter. Adam could have chosen to not eat of the fruit. He had lots of others available to him, but he exercised his right of self-determination and paid the consequences.

When the rich young ruler wanted to know what he needed for eternal life, Jesus told him to give up everything he owned. It was completely voluntary. The guy went away without accepting eternal life. Jesus, being God, knew his heart and knew he loved his wealth more than he loved God. Jesus didn’t make him give up his wealth or accept eternal life. He offered an option, the consequences of which were to be left out of the Kingdom.

When his disciple James first became a disciple, James asked what he could do to make himself right with God. James was a tax collector, which could be done honorably, but mostly was not because the Romans allowed tax collectors to make huge profits off the collection by adding their own fees. Jesus knew James’ past habits and his newly acquired heart and told James to return what he had stolen from the people, plus interest. He did not tell James to give up everything he owned and become a beggar. That was not necessary for James to become right with God.

Jesus does the same thing with all of us. The vast majority of humankind will be left out of the Kingdom of Heaven not because God decided they are unfit, but because they love something else (called “the world” in the Bible) more than they love God. They might greatly desire to secure a future in Heaven, but they will not give up their own will, come to God on His terms and live according to God’s guidelines. They prefer to follow their own will rather than submit to God.

I know, we don’t like that word “submission” in the 21st century, but basically what it means is to VOLUNTARILY do what you know is right, even if it goes against your own personal interests.

Jesus voluntarily went to the cross for us, even though He had all the power in the world to stop it. He stands at the door and knocks, waiting for us to voluntarily let Him into our lives. There is no coercion with God. There is simply a choice to be made and the consequences of that choice.

Do we do it His way or ours? Christians are meant to be in submission to God’s way of doing things.

So, what does that have to do with my view of taxation?

Taxation is not voluntary. If I don’t pay my taxes, the federal government comes, confiscates everything I own, and puts me in jail (google Wesley Snipes)  So, clearly taxation is not a God thing. Yes, Jesus said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. Christians don’t have the option to not pay our taxes because God has better things for us to do than languish in prison for tax evasion. If we go to prison, it darn well better be for something Jesus would do.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t oppose taxation and do what we can to retrain thoughtful people away from the coercive nature of the government we live under.

God placed in my heart that when we are coerced into providing charity for others, we are not doing God’s work. Yes, Christians should give from our surplus to the poor and needy (who are not necessarily the financially destitute). Our family strives to give 10% of our net income to our church, which participates in charities that help people who actually need help (Food Bank, Rescue Mission, an agricultural mission in Tanzania, an English & citizenship school for the foreign born). Other Christians we know attend other churches that conduct other ministries from the tithes of the other Christians. I know some richer people who give a larger percentage of their income to the church. That is voluntary. Nobody is forcing any of us to give. We do it because we love God and He teaches us to show His love of people through giving a portion of what He gives us back to Him to be used to help folks who need help.

Opposition to taxation is not about a lack of generosity. I daresay if we were to compare my voluntary contributions to charity against the vast majority of population, I’d look a great deal more generous than any of the folks screaming for wealth redistribution. I’d like to give more, but the federal government takes 15% of my income, so I can’t afford it. I’ll be able to give even less when the State of Alaska institutes a proposed 30% tax on my income. That is fewer people who need actual help getting the help they need.

My opposition to taxation is based upon the understanding it is wrong for a portion of our society to force folks to be generous and then to waste that stolen money on buying votes for the political class.

Is it generosity if your “giving” is coerced? I submit that it is not.

And, yes, I will continue to hit this topic and you’re welcome to join in.

Arguing with the Indoctrinated 1 (Robbery)   8 comments

Twitter rather limits the intelligence of a conversation by restricting you to 146 characters, but it also boils down the essence of the stupidity people believe, highlights how they take things out of context and how they ascribe evil motives to people they’ve never met and know almost nothing about.

Rather assume those I disagree with are evil, I assume they are ill-informed and indoctrinated.

Economics 101 – first class of the semester — the professor explained that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

  1. Everything costs somebody something.
  2. If it doesn’t cost you something, it cost someone else something to provide it to you.

This was not a new concept for me. My mom was a child of the Great Depression and my father had been a young working man during it. They understood the concept of TINSTAAFL instinctively and they passed those lessons onto my brother and myself. I wasn’t the only one in the class to grasp the concept, but I was the youngest. Most of my classmates argued from the traditional “socialist” viewpoint that a society owed those who make less money a living and if that means taking money from those who made more money, then it really wasn’t going to hurt “the rich.”

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that so many of my generation are still wrapped up in that concept and don’t really understand the implications of TINSTAAFL and that they’ve passed the concept onto their children.

I’m not wealthy by any means, never have been. My parents were lower middle class earners who paid taxes for basic societal necessities like roads. My husband and I have earned as high as the 25% tax bracket and we’re currently in the 15% tax bracket. So I’m not a wealthy person defending my own stuff. So why would I defend the “wealthy” by arguing against increased taxation?  Don’t I understand I’m arguing against my own interests? Don’t I want some of what that wealthy person has? Aren’t I angry that the wealthy have so much income and I have so little? Don’t I think corporations are morally wrong and abusive of society?

Yes, corporations are wrong and I think it is obscene that a corporate CEO can be paid more in one year than I will make in a lifetime. I would like to make more money. But …. The next few blog posts are going to be on this subject.

I ascribe to the 10 commandments, one of which says I may not steal. Stealing is absolutely against the Law of God. What is stealing? The forcibly taking of another person’s property (which includes their money and could include services they provide as part of a business). It is morally wrong and considered illegal for me to don a mask and use a gun to coerce money out of passersby in the park near my home. Yes, that would add to my family income and there are times I could really use that extra money and I could make careful observations to assure that I only rob people who can afford to lose the cash, but it’s still against the law and I’d go to jail for doing it. Even if I were giving the money to charity, I would still go to jail because it would still be wrong and against the law. Rightfully so.

If I engaged in a mob that did the same thing, we’d still be wrong and breaking the law, even if we conducted an election among ourselves and invited the passersby an opportunity to vote in it — robbing them would still be wrong and illegal.

So why is it that we think that it’s okay when the government coerces money from people?

Yeah, yeah, we voted — yada yada. I didn’t vote to create the federal government, the State of Alaska or the Fairbanks North Star Borough. All of those entities came into existence before I could vote. Every vote I’ve cast in the last 35 years (exempting my dumb college student period) has been an attempt to reduce that web of government. I DID NOT vote to have my neighbors steal from me to use what I earn for their own purposes, especially when those purposes fly in the face of everything I hold sacred. I didn’t vote for the government to steal from my neighbors to use what they earn for my purposes. Other people may have voted for that, but that vote makes them no better than a mob at the park robbing people for the money in their wallets.

I’m going to keep talking about this subject for a while and you’re free to argue with me if you want.

Thom Stark Responds to a Reader   1 comment

LELA: Thom and I have been going back and forth about private enterprise and the role of government in utilities like broadband. Nicholas asked Thom this question:

Nicholas:  How about the general welfare? I don’t see how my tax money is properly used with grants for Chattanooga for something the government should not even be involved in.

Thom StarkTHOM:  Nicolas, that Chattanooga’s MAN was partially funded by Federal tax money is really beside the point. Congress set aside money for stimulus grants. Because of the way government fund-based accounting works, that money could ONLY be used for stimulus grants. Alaska (which is to say Sarah Palin) chose not to apply for such grants. Chattannooga, however, did so, so they got that money.t

It’s clear that we disagree on whether it’s proper and appropriate for “the government” (in this case, Chattanooga’s government) to provide Internet service. That’s been the central point at issue in the last couple of these exchanges. Lela agrees with you. I do not.

Let’s be clear here. It’s just as valid to ask why Tennessee taxpayers should be asked to pay $320 million for the Gravina Island Bridge in Alaska (yes, the 2008 earmark was deleted from the highway bill – but only because conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation called it “a national disgrace). The short answer is Congress appropriated money to pay for maintenance and construction of highways. That money was parceled out to each state according to an arcane formula that Congress uses for that purpose. Don Young and Ted Stevens “earmarked” a portion of Alaska’s share for the bridge – and then the screaming started.

That’s the way the system works. You can complain that it shouldn’t be that way, but IT IS. There’s a pot of Federal money set aside for a particular set of purposes. A state can decline to accept its share of that pot – as Palin did with the stimulus funds – but the money in the post still HAS to be spent for those purposes, because THAT’S WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES.

I’m not about to explain the logic behind fund-based accounting here, but it has to do with (believe it or not) accountability.


Thom Stark is the author of the American Sulla trilogy and blogs at

Thom and I come from different political philsophies, but we both agree that listening to other perspectives is an important and currently neglected American tradition.

Finding the elusive reset button   Leave a comment

The winter of our discontent: ‘Reset button’ to improve state-federal relations may prove elusive – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.

This is part and parcel with what I was discussing with Thom Stark yesterday.

Unintended Consequences of Renewable Energy?   Leave a comment

Unintended Consequences of Renewable Energy?.

The article and attached comments say it all.

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