Citizenship—Lens of Liberty

Lens of Liberty is a series of projects and programs developed to educate Americans on what it means to be a United States citizen, and on the responsibilities that come with citizenship. A citizenry that sees and understands issues from the perspective of freedom’s principles can influence outcomes at virtually every level of our lives. Moreover, all citizens who enjoy the privileges of a free society must play a part in keeping the nation’s ideals of freedom on course. As someone who is passionate about keeping America free from tyranny, your partnership with Lens of Liberty will embrace a unique opportunity to grow a more responsible citizenry—citizens who will take smart, effective action when freedom is threatened.

Illegal Immigration

Americans are increasingly frustrated at the unwillingness of Congress to address the problems associated with millions of illegal aliens, the potential terrorist threat of uncontrolled borders, and the cost of this underground economy. A nation of laws must control its borders, and the U.S. economy is dependent upon an inefficient and undependable labor force. The public is demanding that Washington address the issue, but politicians of both parties have failed to reach any agreement on how to do so.

The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation has conducted extensive polling on these issues to help understand what Americans want Congress to do, what they understand about illegal immigrants, and what policies they think would work. The key is to simplify the issue, by separating the discussion of border security and temporary workers from the discussion of immigrants and citizenship. Workers should be able to apply for jobs in the U.S., undergo quick background checks, and be issued a “smart-card” that allows them to come out of the shadows, work legally, pay their taxes like everyone else, and come and go across the border with their families. Removing these people from the illegal border crossings would free up law enforcement to control real threats at the border, provide the workers our economy needs, and assure citizens that these workers are here legally. The free market will determine the number of workers needed, and private-sector companies should be licensed by the government, authorized to open offices abroad, empowered to run background checks, and to issue the smart-card work permits. It is a solution that will simplify the problem, solve 90% of it easily, control the borders, provide the workers we need, and do so using the oldest and most reliable system in America – the free market.

Other good thinking on this:

  • The third side of the immigration debate Mon, March 4, 2013 
  • Immigration debate shows hypocrisy on both sides Sun, November 18, 2012 
  • A Losing Immigration Strategy Sun, November 18, 2012 
  • Republicans Can Win the Immigration Reform Battle Mon, May 3, 2010 

Legal Immigration

The United States is a nation of immigrants with a rich history contributed by “wretched refuse” from the teeming shores of every continent. Yet immigration remains a very divisive issue in America, and for those seeking U.S. citizenship, the process is clearly broken. American history is inconsistent: Congress went from no immigration laws for the first 50 years, to excluding certain types of people (diseased, disabled, etc.) for another 50, to racial and ethnic quotas designed to maintain America’s Caucasian majority. These were replaced only in the 1960’s by a system designed to keep families together. However, that system, with some minor revisions between 1986 and1992, has done nothing to acknowledge the terrorist era we now live in. Nor can it address the cultural decline caused by the rapid changes in our population, the political correctness of cultural diversity, and our resulting failure to require assimilation.

America should always be an open door for freedom to oppressed people everywhere – and they are expected to become Americans when they get here. Divided loyalties should never be allowed, and citizenship should have deeper meaning than residency. America is not just a place, but an idea. Those who seek American citizenship should be required to understand what that means, to understand our government, philosophy, language and culture. Citizenship should never be taken lightly, nor arranged easily. For foreigners, it should be a choice, purposefully granted and accepted, not an accident of birth or an automatic result of residency. It should be available on an equal basis to anyone in the world, with no special place in the line for any particular group.

Missile Defense

In the dangerous post-9/11 world we live in, it is inconceivable that the United States would fail to use every technological advance to protect its citizens again terrorist attacks. During the Cold War, America’s pursuit of technology that could render intercontinental ballistic missiles useless literally helped bring down the Soviet empire. Yet today, third-world dictators and terrorist gangs are dangerously close to developing long range nuclear missile capability that could again threaten the U.S. with nuclear destruction.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to stop rogue states from selling nuclear technology to the highest bidders, including terrorists who would not hesitate to use such weapons against the free world. Therefore, it is vital that the U.S. and its allies accelerate the development and deployment of strategic systems to defend against missiles launched from any part of the world. The only sure way to avoid the use of nuclear weapons is to make them obsolete.

Other good thinking on this:

  • Memo for the MovementThu, November 18, 2010 
  • Missile Defense: Now More Than Ever Thu, January 29, 2009

United Nations

The United Nations was created as a means of avoiding future world wars by providing a forum where civilized nations would talk directly to each other, and work out differences before disagreement escalated into war. No nation has contributed more than the United States to help realize that vision, including a headquarters in New York, a disproportionate share of the funds over the past 60 years, and continual support for the UN’s ideals. Yet the promise has far outshone the performance. Today the UN is not a gathering of civilized people calmly discussing problems and solutions. It is thoroughly dominated by nations unfriendly to the U.S. and its allies, and its original purpose has been overwhelmed by an agenda to create a world governing authority with its own courts, its own military, and its own economic agenda to transfer wealth using dubious issues like global warming.

The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation continues to believe in the original purpose of free nations working together on common issues, though the UN clearly no longer provides that forum. A new league of democracies should be created, to provide allied free democratic governments a place to gather and discuss joint approaches and solutions to issues that affect their common security, and to promote the growth and spread of freedom and democracy throughout the rest of the world.

Other good thinking on this:

  • UN-enviable RecordMon, October 12, 2009
  • The Demise of the U.N. Procurement Task Force Threatens Oversight at the U.N.Thu, February 5, 2009

Taxpayer-Funded Advocacy

Organizations subsidized with public funds dominate much of today’s political debate on every side of every issue. The law prohibits political activity by charitable or educational organizations that are tax exempt. Also, organizations that receive federal loans and grants are not supposed to use such funds for political activity. Yet despite the clear intent of these laws to forbid public subsidies for political activity, abuse of these laws has become routine, and it undermines the very foundations of democracy. Both political parties have strong allies dependent upon tax-exempt status, and upon government loans and grants, so both parties have self interest in maintaining the status quo. Thus, challenges to the tax-exempt status of such organizations are rare, attempts to stop federal grants and loans are even rarer. Paycheck protection efforts have essentially become efforts to de-fund the left, and most other efforts to address this problem have targeted specific organizations, issues or parties.

The right answer is to stop all funding of all lobbying and political activity, for all groups on all sides, including both tax-exemption and public funding. We propose a complete prohibition of all federal grants and loans to any organization engaged in advocacy, and a strict interpretation that would deny tax exempt status to groups engaged in such activity – even if such funds are kept in a separate account. Also, all government activity that aids such organizations (including payroll withholding) would either be prohibited, or funded by voluntary user-fees.

Single-Subject Rule

The controversy that always surrounds Congressional earmarks, piggy-back riders and last-minute amendments leaves many Americans frustrated with the legislative process – and many Congressmen and Senators unaware of key details of the bills they pass. The practice is easy to stop. In fact, most states simply do not allow it. Forty-one state constitutions contain a single-subject rule, requiring all legislation and ballot initiatives to address only a single subject, and several more states have such requirements in statutes or legislative rules. Congress should apply a similar constraint to its own process.

Instead, Congress has developed an age old practice of tacking controversial provisions onto “must-pass” bills – such as annual appropriations – as a way around the democratic process. Using this practice, leaders regularly enact unpopular legislation that does not have the votes to pass. In many cases such controversial provisions are sneaked through, not even subject to hearings or debate, much less an up-or-down vote. It is a clear threat to the democratic process. Today the practice is more than common; it is routine, often considered the “only” means of passing some bills. But if Congress were barred from adding provisions not germane to the main bill, all Americans (including Members of Congress) could more easily understand legislation and know what was being voted upon. Imposing such a rule on Congress from the outside would require a Constitutional Amendment, though obtaining the ratification of legislatures would be easy enough (since nearly all states have such a rule). But Congress could easily adopt the rule itself, even without the absolute requirement of the Constitution. Such a rule would end one of the most flagrant abuses of our democracy.

Founding Principles

  • America’s Greatness Lies in Knowledge Diffused Thu, November 3, 2011 
  • Decline Is a Choice Mon, December 7, 2009 

Health Care

Our national health care system has evolved into a complex maze of government programs, a mix of varying insurance coverage, a complicated diversity of physician and hospital specialties, and a system of costs that growing numbers of Americans simply cannot afford. Government regulates costs and fees; insurance company rules govern procedures, fees, providers and locations; the availability of Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement often determines the very availability of medical care; and patients feel increasingly subject to the whims of a system they can neither understand nor afford.

The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation believes neither government nor insurance companies have any business making health care decisions. Such choices belong to individual patients, in consultation with their families and the medical provider of their choice. The rapidly-growing segment of patient-driven free market health insurance should be encouraged, including specialty hospitals, in-store health clinics, and portable insurance plans. As in other economic sectors, free competition is the best incentive for higher efficiency and lower costs. Government programs that limit the choices of physicians or patients lead to higher costs and lower-quality care.

The Environment

Conservation is a high priority for most Americans, and the United States has done more to improve the environment than any society in world history. Yet our national debate on environmental issues has also become so partisan and litigious that conservation itself is often thwarted. Important safeguards – such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act – are increasingly used as tools not to improve the environment but to stop human activity. Government agencies charged with administering environmental laws more often spend their time and budgets defending themselves from lawsuits, congressional hearings, and news media criticism. Many Americans who care deeply about the environment are frustrated by what they see as a system off the rails – used to lock the public out of public lands, stop the construction of affordable homes and improved roads, and to bar the production of badly-needed energy.

Free markets generate the money needed for environmental improvement projects, including open space preservation, species recovery, forest health restoration, and pollution cleanup. Lawsuits and government regulations that drive up project costs deprive these environmental improvement programs of vital resources. Regulation should be used to carefully monitor our progress, and to quickly stop pollution and degradation – with stiff penalties and speedy mitigation. But issues like climate change and endangered species should not be used to further other political agendas – to force future generations to travel less, live in smaller homes, and consume less, to transfer wealth, or to stop human progress. The best defense against such abuses of important environmental laws is to focus on improving the environment. Leaders who do the right thing for the air, water, wildlife and public lands will enjoy broad public support, marginalize those with hidden agendas, and leave the world a better place for future generations.