obama

The Need for a Flat Tax

Uncle Sam

America’s current income tax code is simply unfair.  From the cradle to the grave, the government has its hands in our pockets.  It’s a reality that our extant income tax code punishes wealth: As individuals move up the economic ladder, an increasing percentage of their income government entitles itself to receive.  Dr. Ben Carson recently lectured President Obama about how unfair the tax code is.  He highlighted that the bible explains that God requires everyone to give ten percent of his or her earnings to Him.  As Dr. Carson disclosed, God does not care how little or great one makes—He wants everyone to pay the same percentage of his or her income to Him.  For Dr. Carson, this is the same principle government should embrace.  He attacked the argument that a flat tax would not “punish” the wealthy enough by positing that “it’s not supposed to.”

Although it’s difficult for many to resist trying to take more of rich people’s money, especially for those who are barely making ends meet, there must be an understanding that this type of thinking deincentivizes people from striving to become wealthy.  In the 21st century, we shouldn’t let this type of class warfare continue.  Let people enjoy more of the money they’ve earned.  A poor man has never given someone a job.

When we’re fair to wealthy people, we enable them to create more jobs.  In the struggling Obama economy, Americans need an explosion of job creation.  Replacing the current income tax code with a flat tax would help to spur job creation, ameliorate consumer confidence, and boost personal finance.

If we have a flat tax in place, we will not have to worry so much about individuals finding tax loopholes.

Our tax code must be reformed to make America the most attractive nation to do business.  Individuals are seeking tax shelters and shipping jobs overseas because our tax code is robbing them of their wealth.  If someone is openly going to keep robbing you, you’re not going to sit there and continue to let him or her rob you.  Those aforementioned individuals are protecting themselves from this same victimization.

Do you believe the current income tax code is fair?  Why or why not?  What do you think about replacing the existing tax code with a flat tax?  What are your ideas about reforming the income tax code?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Political Correctness Threatens Free Speech and Dissent

At the recent Fellowship Foundation National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Benjamin Carson gave a speech that has received tremendous national attention because it critiques President Obama’s handling of the national debt, healthcare, education, taxes, and etc. in ways unfavorable to him.  What should not get lost in the responses to the speech, however, are the powerful comments he makes about America’s current insistence on political correctness.  Political correctness is threatening to diminish one of most important purposes of the First Amendment: protect unpopular speech.  While the First Amendment still protects unpopular speech, many people in positions of power are finding ways to create conditions where dissenting voices will face serious repercussions.  While it was not the politically correct thing to do, Dr. Carson did not allow a burgeoning American penchant for political correctness to keep him from disagreeing with President Obama on substantive issues while at this event that traditionally has not been a place where dissent has been accepted and while being in close proximity to President Obama.

When one elects to defy political correctness, he or she must be ready for backlash.  Many employers will establish a hostile agenda against employees when they voice disagreement with their policies and practices.  Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with the responsibility of protecting employees from this type of discrimination, employees are not always safeguarded from this discrimination.  Many employees are too afraid to exercise their First Amendment rights because they fear losing their jobs.  Political correctness informs employees to remain silent and keep their disagreements with their employers private.  Unfortunately, too many people buy into this promotion of silence and end up getting crushed by the misery of their silence.

More lawyers, philanthropists, organizations, and etc. need to be willing to help individuals to combat efforts by powerful employers to mute their employees.

What good is the First Amendment if the American people are afraid to exercise the rights it guarantees?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other organizations deserve tremendous appreciation for their offering of free legal representation to individuals to fight against employers’ efforts to abrogate their employees’ First Amendment rights.

America would have never gained her liberation from Great Britain had it not been for the value of dissent the colonists evinced.

Some employers are even arrogant enough to place in writing that they forbid their employees from using their First Amendment rights to speak in opposition to them.  We certainly need more organizations like the ACLU and NAACP to rise up and aid in striking a mighty blow against political correctness and First Amendment violations.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission needs to be much more aggressive in defending employees against employers who engender conditions where political correctness is mandated, especially when it comes to employees’ rights and requests to have religious, racial, and viewpoint accommodations.

While this piece has focused primarily on political correctness in the workplace (and a little on political correctness in general), it is crucial to understand that political correctness is present in virtually every space of American life.  We deny the dangers of political correctness and don’t engage in efforts to eradicate it at our own peril.

What did you think about Dr. Benjamin Carson’s statements about political correctness?  What did you think about his critique of President Obama’s handling of the national debt, education, taxes, and healthcare?  Do you agree or disagree that political correctness is a threat to free speech and dissent?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

Open Letter to Colin Powell

Colin Powell

Dear Colin Powell:

I would like to thank you for your many distinguished years of military and public service.  The work you’ve done is extraordinary.  Your true American story is inspiring and speaks to what is possible in this great nation.  Mr. Powell, I have deep respect for you.

It’s becoming increasingly ostensible that you’re no longer a republican.  You’ve voted for President Obama in the last two presidential elections and have been fiercely critical of the Republican Party for the last 8 years.  While there’s certainly nothing wrong with being critical of one’s political party, you seem to find nothing you like about the party any longer.  You, however, have no problem with finding things you like about the Democratic Party and President Obama.

If you really believe that the Republican Party does not value minorities, then why are you still claiming to be a republican?  Why not change your political affiliation?  Are you masquerading as a republican when you’re really a democrat for the potential political benefits this can offer the Democratic Party?  Are you really that thrilled with the Democratic Party in the last 8 years, or do you just have a fondness for President Obama?  If you’re using the label of republican against republicans, then it’s having little to no impact on voters.

You’ve never really been too comfortable in the Republican Party in the first place.  Why continue to experience this discomfort?  Would the Democratic Party make you feel more comfortable, or would you feel more relaxed as an independent?  Are you enjoying the spotlight that your opposition to republican presidential candidates gains you?  Do you feel the need to have substantial national political power and see this as your way to command this desired power?

The policies, values, and worldview of President Obama are diametrically opposed to the Republican Party.  You’ve given the policies, values, and worldview of President Obama ringing endorsements.  You cannot honestly admit that you’re committed to the Republican Party.  What would it hurt if you changed parties?  Someone with an illustrious record as you have is more than entitled to do what you please.  If you’re truly a republican, then publish a piece about why you’re a republican and how you reconcile this with being a zealous supporter of President Obama.

Mr. Powell, you’ve given many people the right to question the authenticity of your claim to be a republican.  Don’t get angry when people question your genuineness about being a republican—simply explain to them why you are.  Many democrats, republicans and independents are curious about why have elected to remain a republican.

Would it be best for you to sever all ties with the Republican Party?

Sincerely,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Revolutionary Paideia’s June 2010 Person of the Month: General Stanley A. McChrystal

Brigadier General Stanley McChrystal, US Army

Brigadier General Stanley McChrystal, US Army (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Each month (towards the end of the month), Revolutionary Paideia will honor a living or dead person who embodies (in some way) the notion of “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” this site represents. Revolutionary Paideia does not have to necessarily like the individuals it selects, but every effort will be made to honor someone for doing something that “unsettles,” “unnerves,” and/or “unhouses” people. When Revolutionary Paideia likes one of its monthly honorees, this will be openly disclosed.  At the end of each year, Revolutionary Paideia will select a living person (or one who has died in the same year) as Person of the Year. Living people who have been selected as a Person of the Month are not ineligible for the Person of the Year award.

 

Revolutionary Paideia’s inaugural Person of the Month award is presented to General Stanley A. McChrystal. If you do not agree with General McChrystal receiving this award, I would simply like for you to go ask President Obama if General McChrystal did not “unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse” him. Revolutionary Paideia supports General McChrystal because he was willing to break with tradition and criticize the current U.S. President and his administration. One of the core problems that General McChrystal expressed to a freelance writer for Rolling Stone with President Obama is his lack of engagement with the counterinsurgence efforts in Afghanistan.  General McChrystal has had a history of being outspoken on issues.  Before this incident, he had been outspoken about his advocacy for the “surge” strategy in Afghanistan before President Obama even had a chance to make a decision about whether he supported an increase in troops in Afghanistan. Although General McChrystal’s “surge” strategy was successful and President Obama supported it, many found that General McChrystal acted inappropriately. I just wonder why there was not this level of criticism for him as there was for his recent direct criticism of President Obama and his administration.

 

When General McChrystal was interviewed by the freelance writer for Rolling Stone, he knew that what he was saying would eventually get back to President Obama and the members of his administration referenced during the interview. This did not stop him from disclosing his problems with President Obama and members of his administration about their handling of the war in Afghanistan. I agree with General McChrystal that President Obama has seemed to lack engagement with the efforts in Afghanistan. It took tremendous courage for General McChrystal to challenge the U.S. President in the way that he did. While people can view what he said as being disrespectful all they want to, I think this incident reveals a serious flaw in the military code of conduct: a Commanding General should have the right to speak his mind in public about how he feels about anything or anybody, including the Commander-in-Chief.

 

While I would have preferred for General McChrystal to not have apologized for what he said, I understand the enormous political pressure his faced to cause him to give an apology. What is more important for me, however, is his great courage before he apologized. The apology represents his decency—not his cowardice. We need more people in America like General McChrystal who are willing to speak truth to power, and who are willing to tell people how they feel without being fearful of any repercussions. Now, I know President Obama really does not like dissent and I know that his creation of “a team of rivals” is a farce. He does not appreciate dissent—he made this clear when he “accepted the resignation” (also known as “fired”) of General McChrystal.

 

Again, Revolutionary Paideia congratulates General Stanley A. McChrystal for being Revolutionary Paideia’s inaugural Person of the Month. Americans should be proud of the distinguished service of this solider, leader, and hero. I appreciate your service General McChrystal and love your candor!

 

Antonio Maurice Daniels

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

President Obama is Not a Magic Negro: The Need for Patience with the Gulf Oil Spill

President Obama

I decided to use “Negro” in the title because President Obama allowed this term to be included on the 2010 U.S. Census. Although President Obama has been treated like the “Second Coming” in many ways, I want to offer the American people a reality that might be unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing for many: President Obama is not the “Second Coming.” While I disagree with President Obama on many issues, I think it is highly unfair for people to be criticizing him for not being able to have the current oil spill crisis resolved by now. This is a serious oil spill and is a crisis that cannot be remedied by simply having President Obama to snap his fingers. It is a little poetic justice, however. I remember President Obama being highly critical of President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. President Obama, things are a little more difficult when you are actually serving as the President of the United States of America, huh? The purpose of this article is to respond to the unfair criticisms and expectations of people for President Obama to quickly resolve the Gulf oil spill, and to still advocate for offshore oil drilling.

President Obama has a team of experts, scholars, and engineers working to address the Gulf oil spill. He is dedicating all of the resources and time possible to help us to have the swiftest resolution to this crisis as possible. If this crisis would have been able to be solved by now, President Obama would have had it solved by now. We should not use every opportunity possible to try to score political points and play “gotcha” politics. America needs a much more mature and healthier politics than this. Although I would like to see President Obama using language that clearly identifies that it is his job to resolve this crisis and not BP, I think he has handled this crisis about as good as any clear thinking American can expect. The law actually requires the President of the United States of America to remedy this crisis. While he can involve BP in the process of resolving this crisis, he is legally responsible for addressing the crisis. When President Obama continues to say that BP will be held responsible for paying for this oil spill, he is not trying to remove blame from himself for this crisis, but he is trying to let the American people know that the taxpayers are not going to be held responsible for paying for an accident caused by BP. I applaud President Obama for this too.

While this crisis is unfortunate, I do not want it to become a distraction for preventing more offshore drilling and oil exploration. We cannot conserve our way to energy independence. Conservation is one important dimension of improving our energy supply, but we have to do a tremendous amount more on the production side of things. I was proud to hear President Obama’s support of offshore drilling and willingness to support nuclear energy.  Offshore drilling and nuclear energy are essential to ameliorating our efforts to be less reliant on foreign sources of oil. I really hope that President Obama will not allow this current Gulf oil spill to sway his publicly expressed support for more offshore drilling and nuclear energy.

More regulation of the oil industry is not needed to solve future problems with oil spills. What is needed is more investment in safer exploration for oil and safer methods of offshore oil drilling.  BP needs to be held accountable for as much of the costs of this crisis as possible. We should not, however, try to unfairly demonize BP for this oil spill. It is not like BP intentionally tried to cause this oil spill. Accidents do happen; after all, we are human beings.

I want us to remember that President Obama has done as much as he can do to address this crisis. While he has not always used the best language that I (and many) would like him to employ to respond to issues about this crisis, it is unfair to think that he is not strongly engaged and making every effort possible to bring a swift resolution to this crisis. Again, this Gulf oil spill crisis has demonstrated to many that President Barack H. Obama is not a magic Negro. My thoughts and prayers are with the people who have been deeply affected by this crisis. I encourage President Obama and the American people to do what is necessary to help those affected by this crisis.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

Illegal Immigration Must End Now

Immigration

Although some will immediately think I am a racist, I want you to know I am one of the strongest fighters for racial and social justice. The harsh reality is America’s national security is placed in jeopardy when we do not fight illegal immigration. America is a nation with laws and a nation governed by the rule of law. If you break this nation’s laws, then you should face the consequences of breaking those laws. We should not simply allow illegal immigrants to break our nation’s laws because we want to be culturally, racially, and ethnically sensitive—that’s simply not the way to go about it. A nation without true borders is a nation without order. Let me be transparent from the beginning—this article is not an attempt to argue in favor of the Arizona Immigration Reform Bill. This article has a larger purpose: to have people to understand that the issue of illegal immigration is a serious matter of national security.

As an African-American, trust me I understand how angry discrimination, racism, bigotry, and racial prejudice can make you. Regardless of our race, we all have to be tremendously concerned about those individuals who would wish to do us harm who are living outside of our borders. I would not want a terrorist to come through our vastly unprotected borders, especially our Southern border (the Texas-Mexico border), and do us harm. While we sit around and debate about what type of immigration reform bill would be best, terrorists living outside of America are thinking about how they can enter into our country through our borders. If you are an illegal immigrant, then you are a criminal—it’s that simple. If you enter into this country in an illegal manner, you have violated the law and you deserve to be returned to your country of origin. I do not want to hear all of this rhetoric about we are a nation of immigrants. Of course, we are a nation of immigrants. This nation of immigrants has established laws for people wishing to enter into it.

In immigration reform bills being floated around in Congress, there is consideration of sundry “guest worker” programs. I do not support any guest worker program that will allow people who have entered into this country illegally to remain in this county. If they have children in this country who are products of parents who entered into this nation illegally, then those children should be returned to their country of origin with their parents.  It is unfair for us to allow any illegal immigrant to remain in this country when legal immigrants have gone through the long process of formally becoming a citizen. These illegal immigrants should be forced to return to their country of origin, and then they can formally apply to be citizens. I am not against them formally applying for citizenship, but the formal process of becoming a citizen is a crucial process to ensuring our national security. We must have a formal accounting and screening of all individuals who enter into America.

The federal, state, and local government is going to have to do a better job of punishing those businesses that hire illegal immigrants. I have always found the label “undocumented worker” to be quite unsettling, which indicates that we have simply adopted illegal immigrants into our society—such a dangerous phenomenon.  By acknowledging that we have undocumented workers, we make a public acknowledgement that we know that these individuals are not legal citizens. Is it going to take one of these illegal immigrants engaging in serious terrorist act before we stop treating the issue of illegal immigration as just another “hot” topic, instead of as a matter of public safety. Many American businesses, not all, enjoy exploiting illegal immigrants because they are able to pay them extremely low wages. Just to gain this cheap labor, many American businesses are putting our lives in danger—we do not know much about these illegal immigrants.

I am often unsettled and unnerved by the argument that illegal immigrants are performing vital work for America, work that we (legal American citizens) do not want to do. Are you kidding me? In an economy like this, people are looking for any type of work to help their families to survive. Many poor African-Americans would love to have the opportunity to have access to these jobs that illegal immigrants are performing for exploitative wages. Because employers know that these illegal immigrants will work for any wage, employers do not need to consider hiring poor African-American workers because they can save tremendous amounts of money by giving the work to illegal immigrants. While without question illegal immigrants performing in many of these jobs work tremendously hard, they are serving in jobs that legal citizens could be receiving income from. When illegal immigrants work for these exploitative wages, they enable employers to cut jobs and slow the rate at which they give pay raises and create good paying jobs.

Many African-Americans are trying to support illegal immigrants because of some of the radical elements of the Arizona Immigration Reform Bill. Although many African-Americans see this bill as racist, this should not cause them to support illegal immigration because it hurts them not only economically, but also when it comes to national security. Even though African-Americans are economically disadvantaged by illegal immigration, the threat to all Americans’ national security is much more important. Do you go to sleep at night with your doors wide open? I’m sure you don’t. Then, why would you allow your federal, state, and local leaders to leave our borders vastly unprotected?

Even though some think that it is not practical to ship all illegal immigrants back to their country of origin, we have to make a strong effort to do this. We cannot allow these lawbreakers to just roam around like they have not done anything wrong—they broke our laws! If you are an illegal immigrant, you need to go back home today! You have certainly worn out your welcome, and your illegal entrance into this country was never appreciated. President Obama seems to be more interested in gaining the votes of these illegal immigrants by allowing them to stay in this country.

While we do not have to solve the illegal immigration problem in the way Arizona has attempted to do it, we can find effective ways of sending them back home. We need to put the National Guard on our borders to help to provide better border security. Yes, we need to militarize the borders. I am not trying to be disrespectful in anyway, but these illegal immigrants were not worrying about being disrespectful when they illegally entered this country. It’s so unfair to those who entered into this nation legally to let illegal immigrants stay in our country. I call on President Obama to see illegal immigration as a matter of national security.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison