A Lesson For Americans From The Armenian Genocide – Don’t Give Up Your Guns

Armenian GenocideThe Armenian-American culture inside California is very prevalent – especially in Southern California – and plays a large societal role. Other Americans enjoy our foods, appreciate our heavily religious culture, and benefit from our competitive businesses. Over the years, Americans of Armenian descent have also made many political achievements.

George Deukmejian, former Republican Governor of California, was of Armenian-American descent, as was Kenneth L. Khachigian, the chief speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan. Armenian-Americans hold their cultural values to a high standard – and it’s important to point out that our culture still stands strong over the course of thousands of years because of our cultural conservatism.

There are many modern day controversial issues about which Armenian-Americans have a strong viewpoint. One of these issues is the constant war on our Second Amendment. Our Armenian ancestors learned the importance of firearm ownership and self-defense the hard way.

After the start of World War I, the Ottoman Empire made Armenian citizens turn in their weapons. Armenians were told that they needed to turn in their weapons in order to help fight the war. Being loyal to their government, a majority of them did as told. A move they would soon regret.

On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire rounded up all the writers, educators, politicians, musicians and other important figures that the Armenians looked up to. In one night, 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals of Constantinople were arrested, were never to be seen again. The Armenians soon realized what was actually happening – the Ottoman Empire was performing a systematic extermination of their Christian Armenian citizens.

In July of 1915 the Ottoman forces reached the mountain on which my great grandparents live, in one of six villages on the Musa Dagh mountain, located in modern day Turkey, on the shore of the Mediterranean sea. The villagers, who were already aware of the previous Turkish atrocities, gathered their necessities and made their way to the top of the mountain. For 53 days, from July to September of 1915, 250 Armenian Warriors  armed with their privately owned firearms, protected 4,000 Armenian civilians from an army of about 20,000 Ottoman soldiers.

While it is unknown exactly how many casualties the Armenians suffered, the Ottomans suffered heavy losses. In September of 1915, Allied warships under the command of Louis Dartige du Fournet spotted the Armenian survivors and were aware of the atrocities that were taking place. The French and British ships evacuated around 4,200 men, women and children, my great grandparents among them. They moved to Damascus, Syria, then to Erevan, Armenia, where both my father and I were born, and then, blessedly, to America.

Although the Second Amendment may be a big part of the culture for generations of Americans, that sacred right is a part of my history as well and it is part of the values I try to uphold every day. The reason is pretty simple – if my great grandparents had given up their guns to the government, I would not be here today.

I know my Jewish-American colleagues will empathize with me when I say that I will not make the same mistake some of countrymen did of turning in their weapons.  Everyday I am grateful and proud that my great-grandparents took a stand against their oppressors, and fought for their lives. After all, their slogan was “Freedom or Death,” not all that different than America’s “Don’t Tread On Me.”

So I implore my fellow Americans to learn the hard lessons of the Armenian genocide. In order to defend your birthrights and your families, you must defend the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

God rest the souls of the 1.5 million Armenians who were slaughtered. We can’t bring them back, but we can honor their memories by honoring our Constitution.

David Ter-Petrosyan is a college student in Glendale, CA – and a delegate to the California Republican Party

Prison inmates are down, but costs still going up

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies inspect a cell block at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says he plans to implement all the reforms suggested by a commission in the wake of allegations that a culture of violence flourished in his jails. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

When Jerry Brown’s first governorship began in 1975, California had about 20,000 men and women behind bars in its prison system, but that number would increase more than eight-fold.

As crime rates rose to record levels in the 1970s, Brown, the Legislature and voters responded with laws creating new crimes and/or increasing prison terms for old offenses. Those laws, more that were added in the 1980s and 1990s and more unforgiving attitudes by prosecutors and judges, triggered a flood of new prison inmates.

Democrat Brown and his Republican successors, George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, undertook a massive prison construction program that eventually added 23 new human warehouses.

By 1990, the state’s prison population had quintupled to 100,000 and by the time Brown returned to the governorship in 2011, it had reached 162,000, just slightly below its peak.

Since then, however, it has declined sharply to a current 129,000, thanks to federal court orders attacking prison overcrowding, more lenient attitudes on parole and probation, diversion of some low-level felons into county jails, and two ballot measures – one sponsored by Brown himself – that reduced penalties.

Some law enforcement authorities contend that California’s penal pendulum has swung too far, and that having fewer miscreants locked up and more on the streets is sparking a new surge of crime.

Voters could weigh in on the issue under a proposed ballot measure that would restore harsher penalties for some crimes, even as the Legislature considers bills to lighten sentences even more.

One might expect that with prison populations having dropped by about 25 percent, costs would also have decreased.

Not so. In fact, they have continued to increase, and with fewer felons behind bars, the per-inmate cost has skyrocketed to about $75,000 a year, roughly the price of a Stanford University education and more than twice the national average.

Brown’s budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year pegs state prison and parole costs at $12 billion. But that’s not the total cost because one of the steps to reduce overcrowding was to shift more felons into county jails and probation programs, with money – $2 billion currently – to pay for them.

That $14 billion is only slightly less than what taxpayers spend through the state budget on higher education. But why, one might wonder, did costs escalate as the number of inmates declined?

The biggest reason is that the system is still housing more inmates than its designed capacity and, therefore, no prisons have been closed. Fundamental operating costs, including the number of prison guards and their ever-increasing salaries and fringe benefits, especially pensions, are unaffected.

Another big factor is that – also thanks to federal court orders – prison health care costs have exploded to $20,000 per inmate. That’s by far the highest in the nation, nearly four times the national average, and also roughly twice the average cost of health care for Californians not behind bars.

The future is cloudy. Under the more lenient laws and policies in effect now, inmate populations may decline slowly, perhaps to the point at which some prisons could be shuttered.

However, prison unions and the communities that see their prisons as economic boons will resist closures. And if the pending ballot measure on sentencing passes, the inmate decline could be stopped.

As the last four decades have shown, what we euphemistically call “criminal justice” is ultimately just another political issue that, like others, is subject to the whims of voters and politicians.

This article was originally published by CalMatters.org

Jerry Brown to Leave Office With $13.5 Billion Rainy Day Fund

California Gov. Jerry Brown has submitted his May revised 2018-2019 budget, which indicates he will leave office in January with the maximum $13.5 billion rainy-day fund.

Brown, a liberal Democrat, has complained that no politician should face the type of catastrophic financial crisis he inherited when he returned at age 72 on January 3, 2011 for his third term as the state’s chief executive officer.

At the time, outgoing Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finance department was forecasting a $28.5 billion deficit over the next 18 months and California had been already been downgraded by to the lowest credit rating of any state in the nation.

Most political observers thought Brown might be the worst possible California governor for the crisis, given that after being termed out of office after eight years in 1983, he left newly elected Republican Gov. George Deukmejian with what was considered at the time a hellacious budget deficit of $1.5 billion. …

Click here to read the full article from Breitbart.com/California

Politicians Failing to Spend Our Money to Fix Roads

los-angeles-freewaysConsider this argument from Sacramento politicians: California’s roads, freeways and bridges are crumbling. Our spending on transportation is so seriously inadequate that a gas tax increase and other taxes are desperately needed to save California from ruin.

If this sounds like the shrill arguments we are currently hearing to support an increase in California’s gas tax by another 12 cents a gallon and a hike in the car tax by nearly $40, you’re only half right. Those with long memories will recall that these were the identical arguments made in 1990 by Gov. George Deukmejian and transportation interests urging the passage of Proposition 111, a 9 cents-a-gallon tax increase combined with a 55 percent increase in truck weight fees.

Demonstrating that not much has changed in a quarter-century, promoters of Prop. 111 trotted out long lists of projects that would be completed with the billions of dollars in new revenue. Advertising focused on the benefits of Proposition 111, without ever mentioning taxes.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Reinstating Program for Low-Income Seniors – What Took So Long?

Property tax assistance for low-income seniors, the blind and the disabled is available again. In 2009, the Legislature ended the Property Tax Postponement (PTP) program that for 40 years had allowed low-income seniors, the blind and the disabled to defer payment of their property taxes.

That the PTP program is back is good news, but the question beproperty taxgs to be asked, why was a program that for vulnerable homeowners could mean the difference between remaining in the homes where they had resided for decades or being forced out into the street, canceled in the first place?

The answer is a sad commentary on how Sacramento works when political insiders think no one is looking.

First, it is important to recognize the unofficial motto of the state Legislature, which is, “When you’ve got it you spend it.” This is what then Senate leader David Roberti said in response to Gov. George Deukmejian’s effort to return excess tax revenue to taxpayers in 1987. Unsaid, of course, is that lawmakers are equally willing to spend even when they don’t “got it.” This helps explain why, even before the economic meltdown in 2008, the state budget was running a deficit of billions of dollars.

When the recession came, and state revenues declined, the Legislature’s response was to raise taxes on Californians whose economic fortunes had also plummeted. Lawmakers raised sales taxes and income taxes. They even went after parents by cutting the tax deduction for dependent children in half.

While taxpayers got a haircut, the highest paid state workers in the nation were fully protected. Bureaucrats who had been given furlough days to cut costs, were fully reimbursed for lost pay.

The Sacramento politicians made a few cuts to limit the increase in state spending, but spending, nevertheless, continued to expand. The motivation for cutting at least one program, was clearly mean spirited.  To save a few million dollars in the current budget, legislators eliminated the Property Tax Postponement program.  However, this program, so important to low income seniors, was never a handout or an entitlement. The state recovered all costs, plus interest, when the home was sold or the owner passed away.

Taxpayer advocates immediately set about lobbying for the return of the PTP program, a program that pays for itself. Finally, even thick skinned lawmakers were embarrassed and approved reinstatement of the PTP in 2014.  However, claiming that time was needed to train staff and prepare paperwork, the benefit was not to be available for another two years.

Time is up and the Office of the Controller will begin taking applications in October. To be eligible for property tax postponement, a homeowner must be 62, or blind, or have a disability. The homeowner must also have a household income of $35,500 or less, have at least 40 percent equity in the property, and occupy the home as the primary residence, among other requirements.

The interest rate for taxes postponed under PTP is seven percent per year. Postponed taxes and interest become due and payable under PTP when the homeowner moves or sells the property, transfers title, defaults on a senior lien, refinances, obtains a reverse mortgage, or passes away.

Funding for the program is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The program application and details are on Controller Yee’s website or by phone at (800) 952-5661.

However, taxpayers who need this assistance must remain vigilant. If lawmakers think no one will notice, they may throw the PTP overboard again, as they did in 2009.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

This piece was originally published by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com