Stewart Jones announces his candidacy for House District 14

Stewart Jones, who currently represents District 4 on Laurens County Council, has announced his candidacy for the S.C. House seat, District 14, being vacated by retiring Mike Pitts.

A lifelong Laurens resident, Jones is a graduate of Thornwell High School and Piedmont Technical College. He and wife Kelly, a Laurens District High School graduate, have two daughters, Lillie and Emma Grace.

“With the news of Rep. Mike Pitts announcing his retirement, I’d like to thank Mike and his family for their many years of service and sacrifice,” Jones said. “After much encouragement from the community and with the support of my family and friends, I’m excited to announce that I am seeking to serve House District 14 of South Carolina.

“Great strides have been made over the last four years in my first term on Laurens County Council. If elected to serve in the South Carolina House of Representatives, I will continue to stand for conservative values and apply the same proven methods for greater accountability of government that I have fought for in Laurens County.”

Jones founded his own company, Greenwood I.T., LLC, in 2010. He is an active member of the county Republican Party and Tea Party.

The special election to replace Pitts, who is retiring for health reasons, has been set for April 23, 2019. Filing opens on Dec. 28, and the primary has been scheduled for Feb. 19, with a runoff, if necessary, on March 5.

Originally appeared in GoLaurens.com

Why Indefinite Detention is Un-American

Governments throughout the vast majority of history have abused individual liberty and ignored basic safeguards like due process and habeas corpus.

June 15th, 2018, marked the 803 anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, a monumental moment for the advancement of liberty. Due process and trial by jury remain to be some of the most important safeguards for freedom against tyrannical government. The Magna Carta or “Great Charter” was signed on June 15th, 1215, when rebellious barons forced King John of England to agree to the most basic natural rights of the people. This included the first substantial guarantee of the writ habeas corpus, which “demands that a prisoner be taken before the court, and that the custodian present proof of authority, allowing the court to determine whether the custodian has lawful authority to detain the prisoner.”

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.” -Habeas Corpus, Clause 39 of the Magna Carta, June 15, 1215

Of the 63 clauses in the Magna Carta, some of the most important are due process, trial by jury (or peers), and limits on the power of a king or government. The Magna Carta of 1215 was a monumental advancement in the struggle for human freedom and justice. American Revolutionaries would carry forth these ideas of liberty in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Patrick Henry once called trial by jury “the best appendage of freedom.”

Amendment V, U.S. Constitution—Due Process:  

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.                                                                                              

Amendment VI, U.S. Constitution—Speedy and Public Trial:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII, U.S. Constitution—Trial by Jury:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.        

Amendment VIII, U.S. Constitution—Prohibition of Cruel and Unusual Punishments:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison saying that

a bill of rights [should provide] clearly and without the aid of sophisms for… the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land and not by the law of nations.     

803 years after the signing of the Magna Carta and 242 years after the signing of the U.S Declaration of Independence, these cornerstones of liberty remain under attack from government officials that would gladly trade liberty for a false security.

On this anniversary of the Magna Carta, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina objected again (for the sixth year in a row) to even allowing a vote on the repeal or amendment to sections 1021 and 1022 in the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). These sections allow for the indefinite detention and the potential assassination of any person without any due process. The vaguely worded provisions use the war on terror to classify U.S. citizens and any suspected person as a potential “enemy combatant” under the “laws of war.” With no end in sight for the “war on terror,” these provisions allow for the abuse of any person’s right to due process.

While the NDAA is an annual defense appropriations bill, in recent times it has been used as an omnibus vehicle for unconstitutional usurpations with dangerous provisions similar to the (unpatriotic) PATRIOT ACT.

“If you’re lucky enough, clever enough to capture one of these bad guys, the last thing I want them to hear is that you have a right to a lawyer. You don’t. Under military law, no enemy prisoner has a right to a lawyer.” – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, June 12th, 2018

242 years ago, a member of the Virginia General Assembly and writer of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, George Mason wrote,

In all capital or criminal prosecutions a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers.

The unconstitutional indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 NDAA are based on authority granted for use of military force (AUMF) for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, sections 1021 and 1022 opened the door for the United States to be treated as a “battlefield” and allow the government to indefinitely detain and imprison any person by only accusations or suspicions of a crime without due process or trial by jury. This is dangerous to liberty.

“And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘shut up! You don’t get a lawyer.” –Senator Lindsey Graham on the indefinite detention provisions, December of 2011

In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson had a much different view and believed that “Freedom of the person under the protection of the habeas corpus” is one of the “essential principles of our government.”

Jefferson also wrote in 1798 to A. H. Rowen stating, “The Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume.” This reaffirmed the idea of “unalienable rights” which applies to all people by the laws of nature.

Governments throughout the vast majority of history have abused individual liberty and ignored basic safeguards like due process and habeas corpus. In the grand scheme of history, liberty is still young.

Senator Graham’s blatant disregard for real justice is a continuance of an age-old tale of government neglecting individual liberty. Due process has been destroyed under the guise of “foreign danger” and war.  As a Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, James Madison said in June of 1787, 

The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

The indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 NDAA have the potential to be abused. These provisions essentially give government the ability to detain without trial or allowing for due process. This sets a very dangerous precedent of removing the burden of proof from the state.

When due process is ignored, it means that the government doesn’t have to prove anything. They simply have to accuse someone of a crime and secretly send them off to a prison or assassinate them. This goes against the very fibers of a civil and free society. We should never trade liberty for security, and we don’t have to!

“Trial by jury is part of a bright constellation which leads to peace, liberty, and safety.” – President Thomas Jefferson 

Originally appeared in FEE.

Will Tax Cuts Bring on Armageddon?

The hyperbole surrounding the inevitable effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ranges from lurid to outright laughable.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, “If this goes through, kiss life on earth goodbye. The debate on health care is life/death. This is Armageddon.” Senator Chuck Schumer said that “tax breaks don’t lead to job creation” and called the bill a “punch in the gut for the middle class.”

At least the left-leaning Tax Policy Center clarified that 80% of taxpayers are going to get a tax cut and on average would see a reduction of taxes by $1,600.

As Ludwig von Mises said, “Progressive taxation of income and profits means that precisely those parts of the income which people would have saved and invested are taxed away.”

The fact is that tax cuts and the lowering of tax rates are going to make a big difference in the lives of many people. Businesses are already announcing many positive plans to use that extra revenue productively.

Some of the announcements include:    

  • AT&T will see a tax reduction from a 32.7% rate down to a 21% rate. This prompted them to announce that all 200,000 employees will receive a $1,000 bonus.
  • Third Fifth Bankcorp announced that 13,500 employees will be receiving a bonus and minimum wage will be raised companywide to $15 per hour.
  • Wells Fargo also announced that they will be raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and that they will donate $400 million to charities and non-profits in the coming year.
  • Comcast announced it would be giving $1,000 bonuses to more than 100,000 employees and will be investing over $50 billion in broadband and network infrastructure.

And all of these announcements are only within hours of Congress passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax reform package. It sure sounds like “Armageddon,” doesn’t it?

The market is already responding positively to the future tax cuts. The effects of these tax cuts are going to allow massive amounts of capital to foster new growth and investments and to create jobs. All of these announcements only reinforce the positive impact that reducing and even eliminating taxes can have.

Why does the government think that it owns or is entitled to the production and resources of businesses and individuals? Taxation of the fruits of one’s labor is by far the most egregious and morally wrong because it claims ownership of an individual’s time, productivity, and resources. In essence, income taxes of any type are a form of slavery.

Until the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the United States had the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world.

The income tax was first enacted in 1861 to fund the war between the states. By 1865, Congress had increased the tax from 3 percent to 10 percent. Congress finally allowed the income tax to expire in 1872. The first U.S. corporate income tax was then enacted in 1894 and rightfully deemed unconstitutional until the passing of the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913. Technically, it’s still unconstitutional, but that’s another matter.

The U.S. corporate income tax is at the root of why businesses and people have left the United States for a long time. This is just one of many taxes that businesses in the United States, and even abroad, face.

Until the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the United States had the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world. Lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent will undoubtedly help bring more capital and resources to the United States, and this will allow for the creation of new growth and wealth, not to mention the positive effects of lowering personal income tax brackets as well. 

One can only hope for the full repeal of the 16th Amendment eventually. Just imagine how much growth and new opportunities would occur if the corporate tax rate and income taxes were closer to, if not actually, 0 percent.

As Leonard Read pointed out, “Socialism takes and redistributes wealth, but is utterly incapable of creating wealth.” In other words, government is incapable of creating or actually producing anything. Everything government has was taken from someone else.

Why do some in government believe that they know how to grow the economy or even use an individual’s resources better than that individual or business? It really takes a certain level of arrogance for someone in government to tell the producers in an economy that they don’t know the best use of their own wealth or resources.

Lowering taxes and freeing the market is the greatest incentive for economic growth. When the government doesn’t confiscate their hard-earned money and property, people are more productive and happy. Economic growth, job creation, and real wage increases can only happen when government gets out of the way. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is definitely a step in the right direction towards lower taxes and less government. I hope that massive spending cuts are soon to follow.

UPDATE: The announcements continue to come in regards to lowering corporate tax rates.

Bank of America announced that they will be giving $1,000 bonuses to more than half of its employees; around 145,000 in total will receive the bonus said Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America.

Under the new tax plan, Apple Inc. will bring $252 billion of overseas money to the United States without a big tax hit.

Founder and CEO of GoDaddy Bob Parsons announced that he will be giving over $1.3 million in bonuses to employees as a result of the tax cuts and said, “On a massive scale, the lowered federal tax burden on businesses will increase investment, entrepreneurship, and corporate philanthropy.”

Originally appeared in FEE.

The World Isn’t Fiat Anymore

Just because Bitcoin is decentralized, that doesn’t mean it’s not regulated. It’s just not regulated by a central bank or government.

In 1788, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter that, “Paper is poverty. It is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.” Jefferson and the Founding Fathers understood the history and dangers of a government’s manipulation of money. They knew that kings and empires of the past had debased and devalued currencies, completely removing the accountability that precious metals enforced on governments.

While many items have served as mediums of exchange throughout history, governments and societies have consistently recognized gold and silver as legal tender. The problem is that governments and central banks have traditionally controlled currency in order to tax and control people. History shows that most governments had a gold and/or silver standard at its inception, but later deviated in order to impose complete tyranny on a society, the funding of war, and further taxation in general.

If Thomas Jefferson were here today, would he and other American revolutionaries support cryptocurrencies?

The Founders tried to hold government spending to sound money standards with Article 1, Sections 8 and 10 of the Constitution and the Coinage Act of 1792, which tied the dollar to a specific weight of gold and silver and recognized gold and silver as legal tender. However, these checks and balances were removed completely as time went on, which allowed for unprecedented levels of government debt and manipulation by the Federal Reserve.

If Thomas Jefferson were here today, would he and other American revolutionaries support digital cash and possibly even use cryptocurrencies?

In 1790, long before electronic computers were invented, Thomas Jefferson actually invented the first mechanical method to encode and decode secret messages, utilizing something called the Wheel Cipher. America’s third President understood and invented a secure way to utilize cryptography. Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Washington, Madison, and others used cryptography to code messages for secrecy against the British.

Cryptocurrency utilizes cryptography in order to securely alter data on the blockchain, known as the ledger. Cryptography is also used to encrypt and secure data in many different ways and applications today. Modern day encryption was influenced by Thomas Jefferson’s Wheel Cipher invention, an that invention was way ahead of its time.

In October of 2008, the white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto put the pieces together and built a new protocol, a peer-to-peer system for digital cash known as Bitcoin. While this technology is still very new, cryptocurrency actually has many of the same sound money characteristics as gold and silver.

In this exciting time, there are many use cases for various blockchain protocols that are being tested; however, cryptocurrency is the initial primary use of the blockchain. With over 1,000 cryptocurrencies competing at this time, Bitcoin is currently the best store of value, and others like LitecoinBitcoin Cash, and Dash are better for mediums of exchange. With this in mind, not all cryptocurrencies are the same.

We know that Thomas Jefferson and the Founders used cryptography to encode messages to keep the British from stealing the secrets of the American revolution. We also know that, for the most part, the Founders had a strict adherence to gold and silver standards. So, how do Bitcoin and top altcoins compare to the sound money properties of gold and silver?

“Specie is the most perfect medium, because it will preserve its own level; because having intrinsic and universal value, it can never die in our hands.” — Thomas Jefferson

Scarcity is a natural control on inflation and runaway government. Blockchain technology (which cryptocurrencies utilize) brings a new level of accountability to money and smart contracts, but also to many applications and processes that are in development. For example, the mathematical algorithm that calculates and verifies Bitcoin is hard-coded with controlled supply. This makes it impossible for central banks and/or governments to inflate it via quantitative easing.

Just because Bitcoin is decentralized doesn’t mean that it’s not regulated. It’s just not regulated by a central bank or government. It’s regulated by a mathematical algorithm which is computed and verified by mining computers.

For the first time in history, we have a decentralized system that isn’t susceptible to human emotion or the intentions of the state. Blockchain technology ensures that more money can’t be created out of thin air. Thomas Jefferson would definitely appreciate that cryptocurrency can “preserve its own level; because having intrinsic and universal value” of the blockchain and that “it can’t die in our hands.”

Fungibility is the property of a medium of exchange whose individual units are essentially interchangeable. In other words, how divisible the medium of exchange may be makes it easier to trade for specific amounts of value or goods and services. As an example, each Bitcoin can be divided into 100,000,000 satoshi, which is equivalent to .00000001 BTC.

Cryptocurrency is very fungible. I would argue that it’s even more fungible than gold because it’s much easier to divide units of Bitcoin for payments using a digital wallet than to divide physical units of gold or silver. It’s also never been easier, faster, or cheaper to send payments for goods and services around the world. It’s not easy, fast, or cheap to ship gold or silver.

Cryptocurrency is definitely still a very new technology. However, 2017 has been a monumental year with updates, forks, and overall improvements. Various competing cryptocurrencies are simplifying usability and working on making blockchain easier for everyone to use. This is leading to wider adoption. To put it in perspective, in January 2017 the total market capitalization for all combined cryptocurrencies was only $18 billion. As I’m writing this, it’s currently at $585 billion.

How durable is cryptocurrency? You may be thinking, but it’s just data! And you’re correct, it’s data that is not kept in just one location. The decentralized ledger that is maintained in the peer-to-peer network is extremely durable because it’s not housed in just one place.

Think about it like a single server running a network or website. If this server goes down then the website or network is out. Peer-to-peer networks have thousands of nodes (that act like a server) that ensure the integrity, security, and durability of a cryptocurrency. In this sense, it’s extremely reliable.

Scarcity, fungibility, and durability are some of the main characteristics that Bitcoin shares with gold and silver.

So, how can cryptocurrency be durable if you can’t physically hold it? Let’s compare 1 BTC to a digital document on a computer. What if the document is a deed signifying ownership of 1,000 acres of land? Is this an important, valuable document? Absolutely! Well, digital money can be thought of the same way.

There are also many different ways that you can store or use digital money. Hot wallets (like Exodus) can be downloaded to a computer, and they make it easy to send or receive digital money. Cold storage wallets (like Ledger) are great for added security and storing cryptocurrency for the long-term offline. Digital wallets are deterministic, which means they have a seed phrase that allows for easy backup and restoration in the event a computer or device crashes. It’s always a great idea to keep good backups. You can even print a paper wallet. So, not only is it durable but also versatile in how you can store it. There are many types of wallets that work great for using cryptocurrency. It’s best to always read reviews and see what’s working best for the needed cryptocurrency.

Scarcity, fungibility, and durability are some of the main characteristics that Bitcoin (and some other cryptocurrencies) shares with gold and silver, which have stood the test of time as solid standards of value and exchange.

“The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” — Thomas Jefferson

While the concept of digital money can be hard to comprehend, the technology that utilizes blockchain for money like BitcoinBitcoin CashLitecoinDash, and many others is essentially creating stable, fungible sources for economic value and mediums of exchange. This recent and new-found technology is gaining traction, and it aims to achieve a greater level of economic freedom than the world has ever known.

2017 has been a truly revolutionary year for both money and technology.

Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies, and technology that utilize blockchain are quickly revolutionizing not only how people can trade, but also who can trade. This money revolution will ultimately put greater freedom in the hands of consumers, removing the manipulation and coercion of governments and central banks. At the very heart of this matter, the market is solving an age-old problem of government controlling an individual’s property and resources.

Thomas Jefferson and the Founders did not have this blockchain technology and, therefore, tried to rely on strict standards of gold and silver as the basis for a medium of exchange and store of value. Nakamoto’s invention uses cryptography to ensure a secure, fast, universal, and decentralized medium of exchange that is also a store of value. Putting that in perspective really shows how magnificently important these new innovations with blockchain technology truly are.

While I can speculate about what Thomas Jefferson may have thought about cryptocurrency, one thing is for sure, and that is that 2017 has been a truly revolutionary year for both money and technology. I can’t help but think that, someday, people will look back and think of Satoshi Nakamoto and all the great innovators of the blockchain as the founders of this wonderful invention that allowed for a revolution of money and the advancement of the entire world.

Originally appeared in FEE.

Why My Grandpa Would Have Loved Bitcoin

Assets have actual value set by the market, not by government.

Bitcoin hit an all time high on Sunday, reaching $3,000 per Bitcoin. Ethereum also reached a record level, trading at $407. Since this time last year Bitcoin is up over 360%, Etherium is up over 2,000% and Litecoin is up over 480%. With bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies continuing to gain real and stable value, one can clearly see the benefits of market based currency vs government controlled currency.

The Beauty of Cryptocurrency

The amazing thing about decentralized digital currency is that governments and central planners do not have the ability to take advantage of it like they’ve done with paper money, which they can print and control at will. Cryptocurrency allows for individuals to control their own resources without government interference and theft.

Cryptocurrency eliminates the need for banks or credit card companies.

It’s generated digitally from proof of work (PoW) algorithms which solve mathematical equations to receive cryptocurrency as payment in the form of bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and many others. Digital cryptocurrency allows for transactions of payments in a more secure way than any other form of web based payments by utilizing blockchain which is comprised of a highly secured public ledger.

Utilizing Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrency eliminates the need for banks or credit card companies. Putting the power of market currency strictly in the hands of consumers and producers. I love it!

Market Standards vs. Government Manipulation

Unfortunately, some believe that only the government should be in charge of certain things whether it be the delivering of mail, putting out fires, sending an ambulance, producing currency, etc… however cryptocurrency offers an excellent free market medium of exchange. The free market can do all of these things better through spontaneous order.

Central control of a currency has always led to government abusing the currency to grow bureaucratic control.

I’ve always considered myself lucky to have grown up learning economic lessons and theories from my Grandpa. We spent lots of time metal detecting and searching pawn shops buying and selling gold and silver through the years. Along the way he taught me that gold and silver are real money and that the market is the best indicator of the cost of goods and services. The older I get the more I realize how right he was!

So, what would my Grandpa think about bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies these days?

The basis for Grandpa’s lesson was that assets and commodities had actual value set by the market, not the government. While most governments have a history of using gold and silver for coinage and currency, at some point they always try to manipulate currency, inevitably converting to paper money, causing hardships on individuals, and eventually going bankrupt.

The bottom line is that central control of a currency has always led to government using and abusing the currency to grow government and bureaucratic control.

Gold and silver have withstood the test of time with the earliest gold coinage dating back to around 700 BC. Gold always serves as a great measure against the value of all currencies. Currently, 1 ounce of gold is equal to $1270 US dollars or .45 Bitcoin. When put in that perspective, we can see how well Bitcoin is actually doing.

Bitcoin has become digital gold.

Ludwig von Mises once wrote in the Theory of Money and Credit that the “phenomenon of money presupposes an economic order…” between production and consumption, not government. Through this spontaneous order the market is the best indicator of the value of goods and services. This is why Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general is gaining more value.

What it comes down to is market standards versus government manipulation and control. Luckily, precious metals and cryptocurrency prove that the market will win and governments that print paper money will lose.

The Future of Money is Now

Bitcoin has become digital gold. In many ways it’s become better than gold, allowing for an easier way to make exchanges and transactions worldwide. Trading has never been easier than with cryptocurrency. We are living in an amazing time for currency and trade.

I believe it’s completely safe to say that the future of money is now.

In recent years, many have used and are familiar with web-based pay services like PayPal, which allows the use of many types of currencies including Bitcoin. Many stores are now accepting Bitcoin and very quickly it has become accepted worldwide.

While it’s hard to estimate just how well Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will do in coming years, I believe it’s completely safe to say that the future of money is now. Cryptocurrency has the ability to remove government’s manipulation of currency and interference in exchanges, allowing greater freedom of trade between individuals everywhere.

Originally appeared in FEE.

County Council helps make walking to Sanders Middle School safer

Laurens County Council received thanks Tuesday for supporting an effort to make walking to Sanders Middle School safer.

Members of Bridging the Gap’s Hype Team said they appreciate the support of council, and Councilman Stewart Jones, in having warning lights installed on West Farley Avenue in Laurens.

They previously told council that walking from Washington Heights subdivision and the Bridging the Gap headquarters, across the busy street and to the school was dangerous. The Hype Team joined with a nationwide safe-walking-to-school initiative to bring the matter to the attention of people who could fix it.

The SC Department of Transportation installed the warning lights on one of Laurens’ busiest streets.

“They wanted to express their appreciation to the council in their own words,” said Calvin Whitmire, founder of Bridging the Gap Advocacy.

The young people made their presentation at Tuesday’s regular council meeting, which featured a brief agenda and then a budget discussion among the council members. The county budget will go for 3rd and final reading, and a public hearing on June 27. It is expected to be balanced, close to last fiscal year’s figures, without a property tax increase. The new budget must be in place by July 1.

In other action, council approved Resolutions of Recognition for Clinton High School. Principal Maureen Tiller accepted the resolutions recognizing CHS as a Bronze Medalist for U.S. News & World Report’s top high schools in the U.S., and recognizing the Science Olympiad teams of Clinton High and Middle Schools as South Carolina Champions.

Jones made the resolutions presentation to Tiller, who thanked the council on behalf of Clinton High School and District 56.

Council approved 3rd and final reading of a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes resolution for Birdseye Energy (Project Angus), an $80 million solar farm to be built between Clinton and Joanna. Ground-breaking is expected in 2018.

Company officials met this week with Laurens County officials about buildings codes, the council was told.

Council also congratulated the Laurens County Emergency Medical Service.

EMS is one of 13 SC services receiving Silver Status in the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline awards program. The service receives the award for “implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks,” a news release said.

Originally appeared in GoLaurens.com

Citizen Group Rallies Against $109 Million Referendum

The Common Sense Coalition for a Better High School hosted a Stop the Laurens District 55 Tax Hike Rally at the Laurens County Higher Education Center on Thursday night.

About 40 people heard Laurens County Republican Party Chair Keith Tripp and Laurens County Councilman Stewart Jones speak out against Laurens County School District 55’s proposed $109 million referendums to be held on Sept. 5, 2017. State Representatives Mike Pitts and Mark Willis were scheduled to speak but were not able to attend.

The Common Sense Coalition for a Better High School is a newly-formed group of Laurens County residents who are opposed to the $109 million tax referendum to build a new high school in District 55. Their mission is to “work to stop this referendum, plan rallies and discuss strategies.”

“Other meetings were controlled by the school district,” said Tripp. “A different perspective will be presented tonight. My main goal is to give us something to think about.”

Tripp talked about elitism when referring to District 55 and challenged the signage outside of LDHS, which reads “Every Student, Every Day, College Bound”.

“That says a lot about the thinking of the people that put that there,” said Tripp. “It says that all students are heading to the same place. What about plumbers and electricians and people that work with their hands.”

Tripp challenged the recent editorial from members of the District 55 board of trustees. He said that the editorial was arrogant and elitist. “It says that their decisions are not to be questioned,” said Tripp.

“The value of a school is dependent on the teachers and the students,” said Tripp. “The question is not what you want but what you need. You need to live within your means.”

Tripp said that he would like to see a school where students are taught the basic academics, where parents and children decide the best educational path, where students feel safe and are safe, where there are no drugs and gangs, and where teachers are respected.

“The main thing is to stop this $109 million grab for our tax money,” said Tripp. “We need to keep the main thing the main thing. If it is removed, if the referendum is withdrawn or if it is defeated, then we can look at other common sense plans.”

County Councilman Jones focused much of his speech on school choice and competition in public education. Jones is an advocate for a free market for education.

Jones attended two of the community forums hosted by District 55. “I was alarmed about some of the things said,” said Jones. “I was told to come with an open mind and what they meant was to come with an open wallet.”

Jones presented some ideas to improve the education system for taxpayers in Laurens County. He recommends combining District 55 and 56, fix current facilities and add additions, partner with business and industry, offer more online classes and allow school choice.

“A big new building does not make for a better education,” said Jones. “

Originally appeared in GoLaurens.com

The Great Gold Racket

How could government be able to control buying power without the public knowing of a direct tax? Hm…

Murray Rothbard said it best when he said that “the threat of gold redeemability imposes a constant check and limit on inflationary issues of government paper. If the government can remove the threat, it can expand and inflate without cease. And so it begins to emit propaganda, trying to persuade the public not to use gold coins in their daily lives.”

Why does government hate the gold standard … or any real standard for that matter?

At the heart of government’s attack on gold, silver, bitcoin, and other commodity standards is an outright hatred for accountability and private property, and a real love for theft.

How It All Began

On April 5th, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt forbade “the hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States” by executive order 6102.

How could government be able to control buying power without the public knowing of a direct tax?

It had only been 20 years since Congress signed the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 into law in what would become the biggest act of theft and bamboozlement on the American people ever. How would government be able to control buying power without the public knowing of a direct tax? A fractional reserve system run by the power elite allowed for theft at an unprecedented level. It allowed for the manipulation of buying power and the control of all American’s real money and trade.

Then, on January 30th, 1934, the US Gold Reserve Act was signed into law demanding the rendering of gold and gold certificates to the Federal Reserve. The federal government traded paper fiat federal reserve notes at $20.67 per ounce of gold and managed to take more than 8000 tons of gold from the American people. Once the gold was off the market, the federal government raised the rate of gold to $35 per ounce in an attempt to inflate the value of the dollar.

Government then feared that, with the confiscation of gold, people would use silver as a way to curb the control of the Federal Reserve. This resulted to passing of the Silver Purchase Act of 1934 imposing a 50% tax on any transfer of silver and calling for the cease to any silver mining.

Power Moves

Taxation in its simplest form is theft, but government has also stolen by removing any real backing to the US dollar, allowing it the ability to temporarily spend without limit. This is purely an illusion. Making gold illegal gave the federal government unprecedented control over buying power and took real savings from Americans.

The fact is that with the passing of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and executive order 6102, the federal government started the disconnect from a gold standard and the confiscation of private gold ownership. This ushered in the printing of federal reserve notes which by 1971 were completely disconnected from any gold standard or any other real commodity backing.

It wasn’t until 1974 that the federal government would lift the ban on private ownership of gold.

Today and Tomorrow

In summary, the federal government created a central bank in 1913. Then it made the private ownership of gold illegal and attacked silver with a tax and control. Government then disconnected the US dollar from a gold standard in 1971 and lifted the ban on gold in 1974. The government literally stole the wealth and real money from the American people.

Gold has survived dictatorships and oligarchies, serving as a standard governments haven’t ignored.

With no standard or a check and balance on government debt, the federal government has been able to spend, temporarily, with no limit. I say temporarily because history shows us that governments have spent themselves into oblivion and eventually the market corrections will occur, reducing empires to rubble. The chains of economic sanity have been eroded by over 100 years of attacks on real market standards and actual money.

While gold has been attacked by governments throughout history, it has also stood the test of time, surviving many dictatorships and oligarchies, still serving as a market standard that governments haven’t ignored.

As the federal government quickly approaches $20 trillion in debt and over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the US dollar will continue to grow as a note of debt. The government’s ability to print debt and spend without limit has only been possible with the Federal Reserve and the attack on real money. Gold, precious metals, and market-based currencies have the ability to outlast any government and give individuals the ability to control their own property.

Originally appeared in FEE.

How the Market is already Repealing Obamacare

If we bypass the government regulations and laws on health care, more people would get better service at a more affordable rate.

There’s a common misconception that if you’re opposed to government services, programs and/or departments, then you’re opposed to building roads, education, people getting affordable health care and even people taking care of the sick and elderly. These misconceptions are becoming more apparent as the free market offers solutions and options using innovation and technology, as the government continues to fall in on itself.

Six months into the pregnancy, we received a letter explaining that due to the changes in the law, our policy would no longer cover maternity services.

I continue to be amazed at the ingenuity of people and individuals working toward solutions in the marketplace, in spite of government. Over time government has assumed more and more control over medical decisions that individuals make everyday.

My Own Experience

I have paid my dentist out of pocket for many years and had private insurance for major medical only. In 2011, my wife and I were expecting our first child and had private health insurance which was slowly being limited more and more by regulations from the Affordable Care Act and Patient Protection Act. It was dreadful!

Six months into the pregnancy, we received a letter explaining that due to the changes in the law, our policy would no longer cover maternity or OB-GYN services. This meant that our insurance would no longer pay for anything related to the birth of our daughter. We searched and shopped for insurance that would help cover the cost of the hospital and birth, but the more government regulations and controls were placed on the market, the more difficult it became to actually get affordable medical insurance and health care.

We spoke with our doctor about it and found that by avoiding insurance altogether and paying the doctor directly, it reduced all costs associated with pregnancy by 60%. We avoided the government-burdened insurance market and paid the doctor directly.

This model of doctors and patients actually working out agreements and paying a flat fee in exchange for medical services is actually very effective. If we could only bypass the government regulations and laws on health care, more people would get better service at a more affordable rate. 

Market-Based Medicine

One awesome example of markets finding ways around the government’s stronghold on medical services is the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. In order to run their own practice with the least amount of government interference as possible, two doctors formed this practice 15 years ago. The goal was to eliminate the inefficiencies that accompany hospital networks and Medicare/Medicaid networks in order to run their own practice. The practice has done so well, that it has grown to over 40 doctors now.

According to them:

It is no secret to anyone that the pricing of surgical services is at the top of the list of problems in our dysfunctional healthcare system. Bureaucracy at the insurance and hospital levels, cost shifting and the absence of free market principles are among the culprits for what has caused surgical care in the United States to be cost prohibitive. As more and more patients find themselves paying more and more out of pocket, it is clear that something must change. We believe that a very different approach is necessary, one involving transparent and direct pricing.”

This has allowed them the ability to perform the best quality surgeries at the lowest and most transparent cost. All of their procedures and costs appear on their website. By bringing this level of transparency to the public, it has forced a price war for surrounding hospitals to post prices for procedures, something that is often hidden. This has brought costs down in surrounding areas.

Exiting the rat race of hospital networks and eliminating acceptance of government payments has allowed them to cut the cost and provide a better service.

In spite of what government does, people around the country are finding ways to lower costs and raise quality in the most competitive and realistic manners.

Flat Fee Memberships

The difficulties with getting health care at affordable rates come not from marketplace inadequacies, but from government regulations.

Another great example, are physician’s offices like Irmo Primary CareGold Standard Pediatrics and many others that are starting flat fee pricing for memberships and monthly medical services called Direct Primary Care. These practices are helping to once again bring patients and doctors together without interference from government and bureaucratic middlemen. I love streamlining services!

Dr. Bryan Hill, a South Carolina pediatrician, opened his direct primary care practice in September. “Instead of accepting insurance for routine visits and drugs, these practices charge a monthly membership fee that covers most of what the average patient needs, including visits and drugs at much lower prices.”

It’s sad that most of the difficulties with getting good health care at affordable rates come not from inadequacies in the marketplace, but from the many regulations by central planners in government.

History has shown us that free-market forces have the ability to lower costs and increase quality while fostering new growth and innovation. It puts the power in the hands of consumers, where it should be. If government would just get out of the way, then the free-market can fix the problems with healthcare.