What A Deal

What A Deal

On October 1st the Mid Bay Bridge Authority (MBBA) will raise tolls on the Bridge and Bypass so that a round trip from Crestview to Destin will cost a “non frequent” user $12. If a person uses the bridge more than 40 times a month, their toll stays at $7 round trip, but if they use it 39 times or less using Sunpass, they’ll pay $9. Just a few years ago people would have scoffed at the notion of such high tolls. Perhaps we all should be thankful they aren’t higher.

When the government is called upon to provide services, which should always be the last resort, they should provide the greatest amount at the least cost. What Okaloosa has now are tolls that cost workers who use the Bridge and Bypass even part time at least a $1000 a year. That isn’t chump change, nor does it help economic growth. How did something as simple as managing a bridge get so out of hand?

First, from early on, and in typical government fashion, the Bridge Authority relied on debt instead of using cash. The bridge was originally built for $65 million dollars, but after 20 years Bridge Authority debt now officially stands at a whopping $285 million. For at least a decade the cost of the bridge operators was deferred as debt with the State of Florida. Every new road spur and toll booth was funded with debt, as was the Bypass road. All of that debt was funded with bonds issued under the exclusive control of the MBBA, the value of which now sit perilously just above junk. This coming October’s toll increase is directly linked to keeping bond ratings up for the bond issue that happened this past May.

Next, in the crucial years just before Bypass construction, the MBBA seemed to have bought into the idea that the number of cars using the bridge would grow to the sky. No one in authority seemed to ask “What if there are fewer cars?” The volume of cars using the bridge peaked around 2006. Since then, the average yearly number of cars is about one million less than at the peak. It’s doubtful that the new tolls will make more people want to use the bridge.

Then came the blind eye by the only government agency given any responsibility by law to oversee the MBBA, the Okaloosa County Commission. It’s routine for them to not ask a single question about the MBBA operating budget, even though they have this power. Furthermore, many years ago, the past County Legal Advisor, John Dowd, interpreted that law to mean that only the MBBA Executive Director’s office budget was subject to County oversight. Figuratively speaking, he said the County Commission could only argue over how many secretaries the MBBA has. As questionable a legal opinion as that is, that is only about $800,000 out of an $18 million dollar yearly budget. To whom is the remaining $17 million accountable? No one but the MBBA themselves.  By the way, the past Executive Director got paid at least $250,000 a year for his services from the MBBA budget.

Taken altogether, you have a lot of borrowed money being financed by a smaller number of vehicles crossing the bridge, run by a government agency that is essentially responsible to no one, that used over-optimistic growth projections, being pressured by outside bond underwriters demanding higher tolls to service debt on new bonds, and backed up by a County Commission that never asks any questions. Is it any wonder why tolls went up?

What’s clear is the MBBA is unaccountable. In the meantime, the average Okaloosa citizen will painfully pay for this unaccountability with their labor, not just now, but forever. What a deal.

Pity. Everyone in Okaloosa would have been better off if the Bridge Authority simply focused on paying off its debts.  Imagine how the local economy would be helped if it cost 50 cents instead of $8 to go back and forth cross the bridge each day.

Now that would have been the real bargain.

Pete Blome is a retired military officer and Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party

If You Were Free

 

By Joshua Joscelyn, Secretary NFLP

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” –Harriet Tubman

Every July 4th, Americans partake in a rather confusing and disturbing exercise in denial. Big and small, black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, the overwhelming majority of Americans take a day off from the job they spend 40-60 hours a week at, bring together the family they never otherwise spend time with, fire up the grill at a home they probably owe thousands of dollars on, just three months after they sent up to half of their income to the government, and spend the day congratulating each other on how free they are.

Euphoric Delusion

Americans are languishing in a euphoric delusion of freedom that arrests progress by propagating apathy and self-righteous indignation when anyone dares to question the status quo. Logical fallacies are typically substituted for rational, thought-provoking discussion – fallacies like, “America: love it or leave it” or “America is the freest country in the world – and if you don’t agree, move to North Korea.” This is not rationality. This is an emotional reaction to rationality based in fear of admitting the truth: that America is not free. America hasn’t been free in any meaningful sense for many decades.


Truth is Treason

But to make this statement is to commit a kind of treason. George Orwell said it best when he stated, “Truth is treason in an empire of lies.” It’s like the boy in the children’s story by Hans Christian Anderson who said what no one else could bring themselves to admit: the emperor has no clothes. Everyone had gathered for a parade and celebration of the emperor’s new clothes, just as Americans host parties and parades for their freedoms. But the freedoms they celebrate are as fictional as the clothes that supposedly adorned the emperor’s back.

Truth Will Set You Free

Why we lost our freedoms is a topic for another time, but in a nutshell, sin is what has robbed this once great nation of the freedoms she once possessed. In Proverbs 28:2, the Bible tells us, “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof” – and I might add, many are the laws thereof. And in fact, according to Harvey Silvergate, who wrote Three Felonies a Day, the average American adult commits three felonies every day without even knowing it. A society of people who refused to govern themselves by God’s laws has been turned over to an overwhelming onslaught of impossible statutes and regulations to entrap and enslave them, and the solution is to first acknowledge that the problem exists and then accept the truth of Jesus and His Word. Christ pointed this out to the sinful leaders of the Jewish society who were at that time occupied by and under tribute to Rome in a very interesting exchange:

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

I spent the last 4th of July thinking about this staggering level of denial that pervades our society as it apparently did the Jewish society under Roman rule, and I typed out just what society would look like if we really were as free as we deceived ourselves into thinking we were. In no particular order, I noted 100 things that would be different if we really were free like the digitally lobotomized, mentally-enslaved morons of today say we are. I could have noted 100 more quite easily, but for the sake of brevity, I limited the list to 100 things that each represent a smoking gun, and taken as a whole scream out, “the emperor has no clothes!”

This is a wakeup call.

100 Things That Would Be Different

  1. If we were free, taxation wouldn’t steal about half our earnings.
  2.  If we were free, the national debt would be zero.
  3. If we were free, the laws in this country would not be too numerous to count…literally. Look it up. No one knows just how many we now have in the USA. We’ve lost count. Over 40,000 were added to the books in 2010 alone.
  4. If we were free, we could fish for our supper without asking and paying the government for permission.
  5. If we were free, we could pick up a bird feather from the sidewalk without fear of committing a felony in the event it was from a protected species.
  6. If we were free, we could hunt to feed our families without paying the government for permission or going to jail for getting the wrong animal in the wrong season.
  7. If we were free, the police wouldn’t resemble an occupation military force.
  8. If we were free, our right to keep and bear arms would not be limited, infringed, and subject to permits.
  9. If we were free, we could sell milk.
  10. If we were free, we would be allowed to own any of the herbs bearing seed that God gave us.
  11. If we were free, we wouldn’t have the largest prison population on the planet with 25% of all prisoners in the world incarcerated in the US.
  12. If we were free, 90% of our prison inmates would not be in prison for non-violent crimes.
  13. If we were free, we could remodel or add onto our homes without paying the government for permission.
  14. If we were free, we wouldn’t have to pay the government for permission to feed our families in most occupations.
  15. If we were free, the bulk of federal revenues would be from small tariffs (and not the protective tariffs that subsidize favored industries and businesses).
  16. If we were free, our right to defend ourselves would also be honored in parks, schools, airports, post offices, federal buildings, court houses, military installations, etc.
  17. If we were free, we could shoot off any kind of fireworks we wanted.
  18. If we were free, we would not have occupation forces in virtually every country of the world.
  19. If we were free, states could secede when they deemed it in their best interest without fear of genocidal military invasion, subjugation, and forced occupation.
  20. If we were free, the government would not rob us to pay lazy people not to work.
  21. If we were free, we would not be extorted for driving faster than an arbitrarily determined limit.
  22. If we were free, the federal government would not own 28% of all land in the United States.
  23. If we were free, we would be allowed to collect our own rainwater.
  24. If we were free, we could choose whether or not to have auto insurance.
  25. If we were free, we could choose whether or not to have health insurance.
  26. If we were free, we would not have to pay the government for permission to drive our own vehicles.
  27. If we were free, we would not have to pay the government for permission to cross national borders.
  28. If we were free, we could hire who we wanted to, regardless of their citizenship status.
  29. If we were free, we could choose who we did business with on any basis of discrimination.
  30. If we were free, we could build a shed on our own property without paying the government for permission.
  31. If we were free, we wouldn’t care nearly as much about who was running for president.
  32. If we were free, we would know more about our state legislature than about Kim “The Trash Can” Kardashian.
  33. If we were free, street preachers wouldn’t be arrested for using amplification or failing to pay the government for permission to be on public property.
  34. If we were free, we could sell prepared food without paying the government for permission and getting a second, commercial kitchen.
  35. If we were free, the government wouldn’t be reading our emails, storing our phone data, listening to our phone conversations, and monitoring social media posts.
  36. If we were free, we could sell our airline tickets to our neighbors and friends.
  37. If we were free, we could board an airplane without being groped, radiated, and digitally undressed in Nazi-style turnstiles like cattle.
  38. If we were free, we could opt out of the Ponzi scheme known as Social Security.
  39. If we were free, we wouldn’t have individual inventory numbers, like cattle, under the guise of a mandatory retirement program.
  40. If we were free, our government wouldn’t define marriage.
  41. If we were free, we would formulate ideas independent of those given us by the talking heads in the mainstream media.
  42. If we were free, we wouldn’t be under the impression that voluntary sterilization was a good idea.
  43. If we were free, our first thought when wanting to do something major would not be, “Who do I need to get a permit from for that?”
  44. If we were free, we wouldn’t have to turn in our vehicle deeds in exchange for government tags.
  45. If we were free, there would be no federal funding for local police agencies.
  46. If we were free, families wouldn’t live in fear of having their children taken from them.
  47. If we were free, you wouldn’t need to opt your children out of mandatory vaccination programs.
  48. If we were free, we wouldn’t automatically be medicated with fluoride in the water supply.
  49. If we were free, anyone could live on their land in a camper trailer or tent if they so chose.
  50. If we were free, anyone could live off grid, whether in city limits or not.
  51. If we were free, we could work for whatever wage we agreed to with our employer.
  52. If we were free, we could work for as many or few hours as we agreed to with our employer.
  53. If we were free, we could sell anything the market demanded, even if frowned on by the majority (drugs, guns, etc.).
  54. If we were free, we could use midwife services freely.
  55. If we were free, we could have home births without the risk of losing our children or facing penalties should something go wrong.
  56. If we were free, we could practice homeopathic medicine without paying the government for permission or being persecuted by the FDA.
  57. If we were free, anyone could study and practice medicine without a formal degree and government license.
  58. If we were free, anyone could study and practice law without a formal degree and government license.
  59. If we were free, you could buy electricity without a government inspection of your hookup.
  60. If we were free, homeowners wouldn’t be tried for firing in self defense when police conduct no-knock raids at the wrong address.
  61. If we were free, we wouldn’t have sobriety checkpoints.
  62. If we were free, we wouldn’t have immigration checkpoints, especially those 50 miles from the border.
  63. If we were free, jurors would judge the law as well as the facts.
  64. If we were free, we could educate our children as we saw fit without asking the government for permission or complying with standards set by bureaucrats.
  65. If we were free, the government couldn’t assassinate you with a drone before a jury of your peers convicted you.
  66. If we were free, we could buy sinus medication without showing a local driver’s license.
  67. If we were free, we could own a shotgun with a barrel shorter than 18 inches or fully automatic weapons.
  68. If we were free, there would be no such thing as a gag order.
  69. If we were free, you could conduct transactions with your bank in amounts greater than $10,000 without getting reported to the IRS.
  70. If we were free, you could travel overseas without having to tell the government your private business in order to get back into the country.
  71. If we were free, we could build a business next to or onto our home, regardless of zoning.
  72. If we were free, you couldn’t be imprisoned on charges of conspiracy for living in the same house as someone who does drugs.
  73. If we were free, we wouldn’t lose half our buying power every decade to inflation
  74. If we were free, our money would be worth something, rather than being backed only by the threat of government.
  75. If we were free, our money would not be confiscated and used to pay off other countries to the tune of billions of dollars every day.
  76. If we were free, you couldn’t have your child taken away for choosing natural cancer treatments over cancer-causing radiation and chemotherapy.
  77. If we were free, we wouldn’t have to give our entire life history just to get a driver’s license that registers us in a federal database.
  78. If we were free, our money wouldn’t be taken from us to bail out private corporations.
  79. If we were free, we could gamble online if we so desired.
  80. If we were free, our firearms would not be seized during hurricanes or other disasters.
  81. If we were free, there would be no governmental “no fly” list.
  82. If we were free, we wouldn’t need “free speech zones.”
  83. If we were free, you could give an impromptu tour of Washington DC without going to prison for 90 days.
  84. If we were free, we could let our children play in the yard unsupervised without going to jail and/or losing our children.
  85. If we were free, the world wouldn’t hate us. We used to be free, and they flocked to and loved us.
  86. If we were free, we could own a pet deer without going to jail.
  87. If we were free, we wouldn’t be required to file paperwork with the IRS every year disclosing all our most intimate financial data.
  88. If we were free, ministers could solemnize marriages in which no government license was purchased without fear of being prosecuted by the government.
  89. If we were free, we could host Bible studies in our own homes without being locked up for 60 days for violating zoning laws.
  90. If we were free, we could grow vegetables in our front yards, and not just grass lawns.
  91. If we were free, we wouldn’t be eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist.
  92. If we were free, you couldn’t be arrested for attempting to pay a highway toll with cash.
  93. If we were free, the federal government would not be allowed to imprison us indefinitely without so much as formal charges.
  94. If we were free, the federal government would not reserve the “right” of “extraordinary rendition,” by which they can transport US citizens to other countries to torture them, since torturing citizens here might pose certain legal obstacles.
  95. If we were free, there would not be a surveillance camera mounted on nearly every telephone pole, street corner, and traffic light.
  96. If we were free, public school students across the nation wouldn’t be required to wear RFID tracking chips.
  97. If we were free, students wouldn’t be arrested for burping in class or drawing guns.
  98. If we were free, the president of the US would not claim the power to choose if a US citizen is to be tried in a military tribunal or in a jury trial.
  99. If we were free, you wouldn’t have to register your pets with the government.
  100. If we were free, police would not be setting up fake cell towers called “Stingrays” to collect your cell phone data without a warrant, thus localizing the surveillance state and adding yet one more to the list of government bodies spying on your every move and communication, making you that much more a prisoner and slave.

Face Facts

It’s time to stop rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and gushing over the latest celebrity presidential candidates. It’s time to face facts. Americans need to come to grips with the bleak reality in this country: We’re NOT free in this country. Everything would be different if we were. Instead, everything is illegal. This country cherishes statism and tyranny. And we’ve passed the point of political reform. Our only hope is in acknowledging the problem and calling out to God for mercy. Americans need to cancel the fireworks and seek after the Lord. He alone can save us from this bondage.