My personal voting guide — and you too if you wish to follow along

The following is my personal opinion and not that of any organization in which I may have an affiliation.

Being a Libertarian in Palm Beach County affords me the ability to not be pressured by conservatives or liberals / Republicans or Democrats to vote a certain way. In other words, I feel zero obligation to simply go down my ballot and vote for all the Republicans or all the Democrats. And, sadly, this election season, there are no Libertarians for whom to vote. I vote for maximum freedom of the individual regardless of political party, which makes this year one of the hardest since 1983 when I first had the ability to vote, as the bulk of the candidates are anti-freedom — no matter their rhetoric.

So, we’ll start off with some links to a few orgs I tend to like with their voter guides though I do not agree with each and every assessment. It should also be noted, some of the amendments on the ballot should NOT be in the Florida Constitution but should be in Florida Statute. Similarly, this bundling of different issues within one amendment is tragic and should never happen again.

Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County

Libertarian Party of Florida

James Madison Institute

Countywide School Question: I will be voting NO on this effort to quadruple the school tax on Palm Beach County property owners and indirectly to renters. The reason is basic, the school board does not need the money. It has $3 billion at its disposal already and can easily reduce some of its administrative costs to afford the $150 million they say they need. It is awful that teachers are not paid more and students in our county do not feel safe while on school property because of the mismanagement of the school district.

Amendment 1: I will be voting YES even though I struggled with this one because, like the Libertarians have said, it does not address the core problem with property taxes. The only reason I am voting YES is to help reign in government spending which continues to be bloated. If passed, this amendment will save the average Florida homeowner $240 per year on their property taxes.

Amendment 2: Similar in scope is Amendment 2 which I will be voting YES. The reservations I have about it are similar to those of Amendment 1, but it will help property owners who are not protected by the “Save Our Homes” law and will limit the property tax increases for non-homesteaded properties to no more than 10%.

Amendment 3: This may seem counterintuitive for a Libertarian to vote NO on a question of gambling; however, I am voting NO. This amendment is a protectionist sham. While I am in favor of casino gambling and the Florida government has done a miserable job from a free market perspective, any expansion of gambling would require a 60 percent approval from the voters—a difficult threshold to overcome. This is not the answer to an already broken system and would not likely result in an expansion gambling put would likely protect those already in the business from encountering additional competition.

Amendment 4: I have been a long-time supporter of restoring one’s rights after they have served their time. I will be voting YES to automatically restore the rights of those who have completed their obligations to society after committing a criminal offense. I would suggest this amendment does not go far enough; however, it is better than what we have today. The process a felon needs to go through to restore their rights in Florida is horrible and must be corrected or, as with Amendment 4, improved.

Amendment 5: I will absolutely positively be voting YES on this amendment! It is telling how Governor Rick Scott, when he was running for governor stated repeatedly how bloated the state government budget was at the time. Now that he’s been governor it has the largest budget ever! So no matter who is in charge, Democrat or Republican we never have reduced government spending. We need the financial constraints Amendment 5 offers to control government spending. We have plenty of reserves and backup resources so that if something truly disastrous happened, we could weather the storm and the amendment still affords a vote of 2/3 of the legislature to handle extraordinary events.

Amendment 6: This is one of those HORRIBLE bundled amendments where a voter will be strongly in support of one aspect, yet is strongly against another aspect. This amendment bundles three different issues! I will be voting NO even though I agree with part of the amendment, the rest of the amendment, not so much.

Amendment 7: Like Amendment 6, this is a bundled amendment and I will be voting NO. My NO vote is not a vote against first responders!!

Amendment 8: This amendment was removed from the ballot.

Amendment 9: I will be voting NO. Again, this is another bundled amendment, this time dealing with offshore drilling and vaping inside businesses which have nothing to do with one another. I will be voting NO because businesses have a right to decide whether or not to allow vaping (it is none of the government’s business) and we already have laws heavily regulating natural gas production and offshore drilling in the state.

Amendment 10: Yet another bundled amendment which is highly unfortunate as I am forced to vote NO. If enacted, this amendment would cause duplication of bureaucracies between state and federal government agencies which is not needed. The amendment would also eliminate a county’s ability to abolish constitutional offices and make them permanent. This amendment could have easily been four separate amendments, debated on their own criterium.

Amendment 11: I will be voting YES as this amendment removes obsolete language while enabling foreign-born non-citizens to own real estate in Florida. Basically, this will right some wrongs and, hopefully, offer better property rights to Floridians.

Amendment 12: I will be voting NO on this issue even though I have some strong reservations in doing so. While lobbying is rife with abuse in the Florida legislature (and that alone would lead me to a YES vote) it does not trump one’s right to free speech and their ability to earn a living. I do not have the full answer to solving the lobbying problem in Tallahassee and even here in Palm Beach County, I just know Amendment 12 is not the answer.

Amendment 13: I will be voting YES to ban gambling on the racing of dogs. As with a few of the other amendments, I have serious problems with such a thing being in our Florida Constitution, but sadly, this is one of those few moments I could be somewhat accused of being hypocritical. Just like with the “pregnant pigs” amendment and medical marijuana, it is sad we are here putting something like this in our constitution (if it passes). While I am on the side of gamblers and para-mutuals, when it comes to animals, especially when I personally have seen the abuse some of these animals have had to endure, you get little sympathy from me. Gamble on anything you want so long as it is voluntary in nature; I can guarantee you that the bulk of these dogs are not doing it voluntarily.

As for the Justices and Judges, I have no opinion to offer.

Florida Representative District 89: I do not like either of them. Neither is closer than the other to being considered a “freedom-based” candidate. Worst case scenario, I’d go with the underdog Bonfiglio as it is clear to me Caruso will win by a landslide. And who knows, there’s still quite some time between now and election day, perhaps things could turn around.

Florida Representative District 87: I have met both and though I like both candidates, I cannot recommend one over the other. If pushed into a corner, I guess I’d go with LeBeu, the underdog third party candidate as we do agree on a few issues.

Florida Representative District 86: Oh my, just NO on both. If you live in this district, my sympathies are with you. Again, if pushed into a corner, I guess you could with Willhite, who is a good guy, but there is little to like from a Florida legislature standpoint.

Florida Representative District 85: Rick Roth is the clear choice for freedom-loving voters. He’s not perfect, but he is far better than his opponent.

Florida Representative District 82: MaryLynn Magar is the clear choice for North County voters.

Florida State Senator District 30: This is another pointless exercise as Powell will win, but I would be writing in Josh Santos.

Florida State Senator District 25: While not on board 100% with Gayle Harrell, she would have a strong lead in my book over her opponent.

Commissioner of Agriculture: Skip this race, they are both terrible. Actually, that may be an overstatement, but I would not vote for either as their negatives outweigh any positives they have. And they both have positives, it’s just a shame we can’t mesh them both into one candidate.

Chief Financial Officer: Undecided. For me, it’s a tossup between Ring, Petronis and writing in Dembinsky. I likely will not decide until I am in the voting booth, quite frankly.

Florida Attorney General: I will be voting for Jeff Siskind. Moody and Shaw seem to be the opposite of freedom lovers while Siskind is — at least as best one can be as attorney general.

Florida Governor: Another tough race for a Libertarian to decide for whom to vote. Ultimately, I would go with Darcy Richardson. Like most candidates this year, he is not perfect from a Libertarian standpoint but seems to be the closest in the race.

U.S. Congress District 22: Tough choice and this would be another I would have to bow out. I can’t agree with either candidate on the bulk of the issues and certainly would never label either as a freedom-lover, unfortunately. While I have a deep respect for Deutch and he’s a good guy, he’s a no-vote. I could be wrong, but unlike Deutch, Kimaz’s campaign seems to be ego-driven rather than issue driven.

U.S. Congress District 20: Well, this is a no-brainer. First, whether you like him or not, Hastings will win. And for that reason alone, I would write-in Jay Alan Bonner.

U.S. Congress District 18: Brian Mast and Lauren Baer, what an awesome race. It is a shame neither is about freedom. They both want to take away your AR-15 while espousing all other types of government force onto our lives. No thank you, skip it!

U.S. Senator from Florida: Again, similar to above, neither the Republican or the Democrat are very good choices. It pains me to say that I am not able to vote for either the Republican or the Democrat and may have to sit this one out. Scott supports gun control while picking winners and losers with the unprovable strategy of corporate welfare, while Nelson is an empty suit, only showing up around election time. Nelson is another picker of winners and losers. He supports exempting my much-loved premium cigars from federal regulation which I appreciate, but he does so not out of principle which is rather pathetic. This is a link to all the candidates for U.S. Senate in Florida, pick a write-in candidate that seems the least crazy and write their name in correctly on the ballot so it gets counted or sit this one out. This is a sad election season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who will pay for Gillum’s 41% corporate tax increase proposal?

Andrew Gillum, a candidate seeking to be Florida’s next governor, is proposing to raise the state’s corporate tax rate from 5.5% up to 7.75% (a 40.9% increase) in order to pay for giving teachers a $50,000 per year salary, “raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and enacting a Medicare for All policy.” For many, this sounds like a great idea to hit those greedy corporations where it hurts — in their bank accounts. That is until you get into the details of such a proposal in action.

First, and foremost, the proposal, if it ever saw the light of day, would supposedly bring in just over an additional billion dollars to the state coffers. Currently, it brings in around $2.5 billion and theoretically it would bring in $3.52 billion. Many have questioned if an extra billion dollars would pay for all of what Gillum is claiming.  More importantly, if Gillum made it into the Governor’s Mansion, such a proposal would have to be passed by the Florida Legislature for him to sign and that would be quite the feat.

Who would pay this 41% increase in corporate taxes?

Gillum and spinmasters would have you believe those greedy capitalistic corporations would be paying; however, the reality is Floridians will be hit with the tax increase. Corporate taxes are simply a conduit for which consumers pay. If a corporation pays 5% or 50% of their profits in corporate taxes to any government entity, that tax is ultimately paid by their customers a/k/a us as part of every transaction.

Will it raise the $1 billion it says?

Not likely. Many corporations will strategize to reduce their tax exposure so they can remain competitive and keep their prices low for their customers. There are no concrete figures but many believe it will likely bring in an additional $500-600 million. No matter the figure, it is far short of what Gillum is selling or able to deliver.

Unintended consequences…

Although I say “unintended” anyone with even a rudimentary study of economics or having been in business for any length of time, will know the following are what will happen under such a proposal. The proposal would hurt most those who it is intended to help. It would hurt those seeking employment as employers will not hire as many workers, businesses will be forced to let some workers go — finding more efficient and less expensive means of production, and prices of goods & services across Florida would rise. So, in a nutshell, if the proposal was ever enacted it would hamper the economic growth in Florida.

While some will vote for Gillum thinking they are helping the poor, helping teachers, and helping those with serious medical conditions; they are actually doing the complete opposite. And yet others are considering voting for Gillum in order to create a blockage from any legislation from getting through considering we have a Republican-controlled state legislature. There are some of Gillum’s platform to be supportive of; however, his corporate tax plan is not one of them.

If Andrew Gillum truly believes in his tagline #BringItHome he would eliminate the state corporate tax and allow Floridians to keep more of what they earn rather than feed it to those “greedy corporations” and the even greedier state government.

It is everyone’s responsibility to research the candidates running to be Florida’s next governor and spend some time to research whether their platform will have the intended consequences if enacted. Go beyond the rhetoric and the shiny headlines and see if it actually makes sense in the long run.

Some links for your perusal:

The effects of minimum wage

Why Gillum should do the opposite and decrease or eliminate the state’s corporate tax

Gubernatorial candidates whose name will appear on the November ballot:

Ron DeSantis

Ryan Foley (no website found)

Kyle Gibson

Andrew Gillum

Darcy Richardson

Bruce Stanley

NOTE: Bruce Nathan is expected in court later today to argue his case to be included on the November ballot for governor.

There has been a dramatic change in my Twitter news feed and it is not good

Recently I have noticed a dramatic change to my Twitter news feed and it has turned into an echo chamber — not good. I am not talking about tweets that I post, but what Twitter has decided to curate for me to watch on my feed. Earlier this year, I noticed my news feed comprised of a mix of top news from people and orgs that I did not follow mixed in with people I do follow. Besides promoted posts, now my news feed is comprised of nearly all Libertarians and freedom-minded organizations. I mean, as much as I like @LarrySharpe, I do not need to see where others have posted about him and his last 15 posts cluttering my feed over the last half hour.

But that is for the Gods at Twitter (a/k/a @Jack) to decide for me as there is no way for me to control my own news feed. Although Twitter has a page telling you “How to control your Twitter experience,” it is weak. Weak meaning, it is mostly about exclusion rather than inclusion. What is found on that page is a snowflake’s dream and not really about having a great experience on Twitter. Twitter needs to get back to having an algorithm where I do not have my same thoughts parroted back at me, but offering a wide array of differing thoughts, news, etc.

While it is good to see some of what they are up to, it is not my only interest and frankly, I enjoy keeping up on Twitter accounts with opposing views. Perhaps I am in the minority these days, but I genuinely enjoy hearing from all types of views on politics, economics, etc.

Timbs Supreme Court Case: Amicus Briefs Stack Up Against Excessive Fines

In late November or early December, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Timbs v. State of Indiana, a case that will decide whether the U.S. Constitution’s protection against excessive fines applies to state and local governments, just as it has applied to the federal government since 1791. The case involves the forfeiture of a $42,000 vehicle for a crime involving a few hundred dollars. The Indiana Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause applies to only the federal government and does not apply at all to state and local authorities.

“Our client, Tyson Timbs, has already paid his debt to society,” said Wesley Hottot, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which is representing Timbs. “He’s taken responsibility for what he’s done. He’s paid fees. He’s in drug treatment. He’s holding down a job. He’s staying clean. But the State of Indiana wants to take his property, too, and give the proceeds to the agency that seized it. As we explained in our merits brief, there are limits, and this forfeiture crosses the line. We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling. This case is about more than just a vehicle; it’s about whether 330 million Americans get to enjoy their rights under the U.S. Constitution.”

Nineteen amicus (or “friend-of-the-court”) briefs have been filed thus far in Timbs. Among the more notable amici are:

  • The ACLU, R-Street Institute, Fines and Fees Justice Center and Southern Poverty Law Center, which submitted a brief that examines the effect of excessive fines and fees on the poor, as well as the use of fees to raise revenue for the government.
  • The American Bar Association’s brief examines how the Excessive Fines Clause protects equality of justice under the law.
  • The Constitutional Accountability Center’s brief spotlights the history of the passage of the 14th Amendment, and abuse of fines and forfeitures in post-Civil War southern states.
  • The DKT Liberty Project, Cato Institute, Goldwater Institute, Due Process Institute, Federal Bar Association Civil Rights Section and Texas Public Policy Foundation’s brief examines the abuses of forfeiture, fines, and plea bargaining.
  • The Drug Policy Alliance, NAACP, Americans for Prosperity, Brennan Center for Justice, FreedomWorks Foundation, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and others’ brief examines the history of civil forfeiture and how it came to be.
  • Three prominent scholars of the Eighth Amendment submitted a neutral brief that provides a deep dive into the history behind the Excessive Fines Clause, going back to Magna Carta.
  • The Institute for Free Speech’s brief documents the danger of excessive fines for technical violations of campaign finance laws.
  • The Juvenile Law Center and 40 other organizations filed a brief that chronicles the harsh effects of excessive fines on juveniles in the criminal justice system.
  • The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund’s brief provide a history of the 14th Amendment and asks the Court to revisit cases where it declined to incorporate portions of the Bill of Rights against the states.
  • The Pacific Legal Foundation’s brief documents abusive fines by state and local governments.
  • A collection of scholars, represented by UCLA School of Law Professor Eugene Volokh, filed a brief that discusses how excessive fines impact the poor.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a brief that examines how state attorneys general and other state and local government agencies impose excessive fines on businesses to raise revenue and even for political reasons.

Opposition amici in the case are due October 11.

The Institute for Justice released a high-resolution video news release that recounts Tyson Timbs’ battle to get his vehicle back and to extend constitutional protections against excessive fines across the entire United States.

Movement afoot to help keep kratom legal to help the many that need it #TAKEACTION

As many of you know, nine noted scientists have started working with the American Kratom Association (AKA) and have authored a letter to President Trump’s White House Opioid Crisis Team Leader Kellyanne Conway and Acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson.
In their letter, the scientists called out the FDA directly for their use of “bad science” when determining the safety profile of kratom.
And that’s why you and I must demand they disregard the FDA’s latest disinformation campaign against kratom.
There are organizations across the United States and within the Federal Government working day and night to criminalize kratom.
They don’t care about the truth, the science, or the disastrous impacts banning kratom would have on millions of Americans.
Below is the text of the petition being sent to President Trump and Ms. Conway:
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PETITION TO PRESIDENT TRUMP AND KELLYANNE CONWAY
We the undersigned ask for your immediate action to protect the freedom of consumers to make their own health care decisions and stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from their broad regulatory overreach and the criminalization of millions of Americans who use kratom.
Kratom is a safe herbal supplement that is used by Americans to manage their health and well-being. Many have found kratom to be an effective alternative pain management therapy to dangerously addictive and deadly opioids. Leading scientists have concluded that banning kratom will create an unsafe kratom black market, and force kratom users who manage acute or chronic pain to deadly opioids and will lead to increased opioid deaths in America.
Mr. President, we ask that you direct the FDA and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to research how kratom can best be used as both an alternative pain management therapy, and as a potential step-down from opioid addiction; and direct the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to return the proposed scheduling recommendation for kratom to the FDA and NIDA for those additional studies — and leave those Americans who use kratom for their personal health and well-being alone!
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Once you sign this petition, please forward this post to friends, family and even neighbors. Even if they are not a kratom consumer, please try to get their help in supporting this petition.