America has been declining since the early 1960’s. That decline continued regardless of which political party controlled the White House, Congress, or state governments. We formed this organization in 2003 to whatever we could to recognize and stop this. Each year, we suggest the most important things needed to make our country great again. Below are my thoughts on the most important issues facing us in 2023 based on our breakfast discussions during the past year. Do you agree or disagree with these suggestions for 2023. Is there an important issue that we left out? Please let us know. Seth Grossman, Executive Director
1. Teach Our Children (And Ourselves) the Exceptional History, Principles and Values of America.
America is an exceptional country founded on exceptional ideas. As Abraham Lincoln often said, our nation was “conceived in liberty” in 1776 with a Declaration that held these truths to be “self-evident”.
“We are all created equal. We are endowed our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among us, exercising their just powers from the consent of the governed.
America was never perfect. However, when we understood and respected our Constitution and founding principles of liberty, America brought more wealth, opportunities, and justice to more people than any other nation in history. That is the message of New Jersey’s motto since 1776: “Liberty and Prosperity”.
Although our Constitution does not permit government to pay for or “establish” any particular religion, it can only work in a moral society. Most of our Founders agreed with Benjamin Franklin who wrote: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
The morality and virtue that made Liberty and Prosperity possible in America ere the fundamental Judeo-Christian values of the Ten Commandments and “Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself”.
In 2002, an obscure economist named Zhao Xiao shocked the Communist regime in China when he reached that same conclusion in his report called ilar in “Market Economies With Churches and Market Economies Without Churches”. According to Xiao:
“Christian beliefs will bring two thing. . .very important for the future social structure of China. The first thing it will bring is a spirit of contracts. We know that, whether it is a market economy or a constitutional system, behind them all is a civilization based upon rules. So what we need is a group of people who observe rules. Only then can this system work with highest efficiency. And this spirit of contracts, it comes from belief in Christianity, because we know that in the Bible, for instance, there are the Ten Commandments. . . “The second thing it will bring is the spirit of universal love. There is no culture that can match Christianity’s degree of prizing love, because what it emphasizes is a form of unconditional love, a love for everyone, including those who are not lovable, including those who have hurt you or oppressed you”.
- Understand, Respect & Enforce the Constitutions of the United States and of New Jersey
America was never a democracy and never intended to be one. Democracy gives absolute power to a majority of citizens. Our Founders understood that a majority with absolute power could be as tyrannical, dangerous, and corrupt as a king with absolute power. Benjamin Franklin warned in 1787 that constitutions were needed to define and limit the power of government because government and politics attracted people with “avarice and ambition”, the love of money and the love of power.
In 1906, Vilfredo Pareto recognized this problem in his “Manual of Political Economy”. Pareto wrote that because those who use government to gain money and power are richly rewarded for their efforts, while those who support honest and impartial government gain little or nothing for their efforts. Pareto concluded that those who gained from their misuse of government would eventually wear down those who gained little trying to keep it honest. At that point, Pareto predicted that democracies would collapse from unsustainable corruption, taxes, and debt.
To address this problem, America and New Jersey adopted written constitutions, and made them difficult to amend or change. Those constitutions, when understood, respected and enforced, do not allow government to give special favors to some at the expense of everybody else. If government officials have no power to give special favors to special interests, special interests have not reason to bribe government officials.
Unfortunately, few Americans today understand or appreciate this. Most voters, elected officials, and even judges today see our state and federal constitutions are antiquated obstacles to “getting things done”. That is why they are rarely interpreted, applied, and enforced as originally intended.
- Limit and Control Immigration. Arrest And Deport All Illegal Aliens Whether Or Not They Commit Other Crimes.
For years, America had no laws to limit immigration. We did not need them when small, slow sailing ships were the only way to get here. The uncomfortable, expensive, and dangerous month long sea journey kept the numbers of immigrants down to sustainable levels. All that changed after our Civil War. Then large and fast steamships with cheap fares brought millions of immigrants to America each year. By the 1890s, it was clear that these numbers were no longer sustainable. Massive, uncontrolled immigration brought low wages, poverty, overcrowded cities, crime, and political violence to many parts of the country. For years, there was intense debate over whether America should put limits on immigration.
Immigration stopped immediately in 1914 when World War One began in Europe. That brought higher wages and new prosperity to almost all Americans, especially black Americans leaving the South. In 1920, Republicans and Democrats agreed to laws to limit the number of immigrants to America. For the next 45 years, roughly 200,000 immigrants legally came to America each year. Illegal immigration was not tolerated. Most who broke the law to come here were quickly arrested and deported.
These new immigration limits were an instant success. Wages continued to rise. Business owners built new factories with new machines. Americans became the best paid and most productive workers in the world—even during the Great Depression. This is when the American Dream and our exceptional middle class became normal. Today, Democrats, “progressives”, and labor unions falsely claim credit for this. However, the most spectacular economic growth took place in the 1920s, when labor units were small, weak, and in decline. America’s new prosperity for all Americans was the direct result of new limits on immigration.
These limits on immigration helped America in other ways. Immigrants and their children were immersed in the English language and American culture and quickly embraced both. In return, most Americans welcomed and included immigrants and their children into mainstream American life.
All that changed starting in 1965. In that year, Democrats and Republicans alike adopted a series of immigration laws that removed the limits on immigration that had been in place since 1920. The numbers of immigrants increased from roughly 200,000 to more than a million each year. Immigrants from poor Asian, African, and Central American and Caribbean countries were preferred over those from Europe. Unskilled and uneducated relatives of those immigrants were preferred over immigrants with education and skills. Additional immigrants from poor countries were permitted for “disasters” like hurricanes and earthquakes. This new immigration fundamentally changed America.
Many of these new immigrants lived in separate neighborhoods and never learned English or adopted American culture. This made it difficult or impossible to identity illegal immigrants. As a result some 20 million to 30 million illegal immigrants had also come to America by the time Republican President Trump was elected in 2016. Although Trump slowed illegal immigration during his four years, he stopped deporting illegal immigrants who were already here unless they committed other crimes.
Since President Biden becae President in 2021, some three to five million new illegal immigrants have arrived each year! This is nothing less than an invasion that is destroying and occupying America. It has drastically increased direct and indirect taxes and the cost of government, schools, hospitals, taxes, medical care, and everything we buy.
Electing a new President and Congress to build border walls and enforce the law in 2024 will not fix this problem. America will never be safe and prosperous again unless we systematically deport those who have illegally come to our country during the past ten years. President Biden has made this difficult by paying millions of dollars to have Catholic Charities, HIAS and others move illegal immigrants to every part of state in America. No politician will arrest and deport illegal immigrants unless Americans overwhelmingly demand it. Will we? Or will the sympathetic images of poor “migrants” on our television fill us with too much “compassion” to do what is needed to save America for our children and grandchildren?
- End Mandatory “Collective Bargaining” and Forced Union Membership For Government Employees.
We have nothing against labor unions in privately owned companies. They worked well in America for more than a hundred years. However, unions and collective bargaining for government employees are new and dangerous. They turn “public servants” into a privileged class of nobility with absolute power.
Unions for employees of private companies cannot demand more than the employer can afford. If they do, they put their employer out of business. However, unions of government employees have no limits on what they can demand. The government agency or public school simply collects higher taxes.
Government employee unions falsely claim they are part of the labor movement that protected exploited factory workers in America since the 1880s. However, they are much more like privileged aristocrats who took whatever they wanted from powerless peasants before the revolutions in France and Russia.
In New Jersey, almost every employee of every college, public school, and government agency is forced to either join or pay dues to a labor union. Roughly 35,000 New Jersey state government employees are forced in the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The CWA bargains to set the salaries for state psychiatrists earning $226,000 per year and a thousand full-time employees earning less than $40,000., Roughly 103,000 public school teachers are members of two unions, the NJEA (NJ Education Association) and NEA (National Education Association).
Besides having absolute power to force tax increases to meet their demands, government employees also have unlimited power to control our government.
Public employee unions make big contributions to political campaigns. Their leaders also use their magazines, newsletters, and emails to influence their members and public opinion. In New Jersey, more than 90% of the candidates they support get elected.
When government employee unions negotiate for more pay and benefits with their employer, they are usually negotiating with people they helped elect!
Another problem is that most government employee labor unions have been taken over by “woke” extremists with socialist, hate-America political agendas.
Government employee unions also make it difficult or impossible for elected officials and supervisors to discipline or fire bad employees.
The result is that most colleges, public schools and all layers of government in New Jersey are inefficient, expensive, and dysfunctional. The biggest obstacles to fixing these problems are government employee unions.
- End Class Action, Fee Shifting, and Presumed and Punitive Damages Lawsuits
Most Americans blame lawyers for “frivolous lawsuits” that bankrupt good people and cause high taxes, high prices and high insurance costs. However, most of those “frivolous lawsuits” are caused by bad laws that benefit only a handful of lawyers and special interests.
Years ago, a lawyer rarely filed a lawsuit unless somebody caused significant injury or loss to his or her client by doing something wrong. The wrongful conduct usually involved negligence (carelessness) or the breaking of a contract.
Lawyers rarely filed lawsuits for small injuries or losses, because the lawyer’s time and expenses cost more than any compensation than a judge or jury would award. People could not claim damages for hurt feelings or “emotional distress” without scientific medical evidence to prove it.
All that changed during the past fifty years. During this time, politicians and judges created new laws that gave big compensation to people who suffered little or no damage or injury. These new laws also awarded big fees to lawyers who brought these cases. And it forced people who had done nothing wrong to pay for this.
The was done by adding four new “remedies” to traditional lawsuits: Class actions, Fee-Shifting, Presumed Damages, and Punitive Damages.
Class actions: Very often we buy a product or a service that disappoints us. Either the product is not what we expected, or we pay extra costs we did not expect to pay. Normally, we get satisfaction one way or another. If we complain, we often get a discount or refund. Or we give the company poor ratings and never buy from that company again. However, laws creating “class action” lawsuits create a remedy that benefits nobody but lawyers. They allow a lawyer with good connections to be appointed by a court to bring a “class action” lawsuit on behalf of every person who bought the product or service. That lawyer then collects hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars from the company, earns huge fees, and then distributes a few dollars to each of the “injured” customers. Those customers end up paying for this in the form of higher prices.
Fee-Shifting: For hundreds of years, American lawyers were paid by their clients. If a lawyer took a case with little value, he or she usually earned a very small fee. Lawyers rarely took cases unless they had good reason to think they could prove significant damages to their clients and wrongful conduct by the person or company they were suing. All that changed when politicians and judges created “fee-shifting” laws and rules for certain cases. Under these new rules, lawyers could get paid in full for all of that work, even if that work obtained a very small award from the judge or jury. Fee shifting laws and rules reward lawyers who bring “frivolous” lawsuits because they can earn thousands of dollars of legal fees for themselves even if they win only a few hundred dollars for their clients.
Compensation for “Emotional Distress” Without Medical Evidence: For years, people could not get compensation for “emotional distress” without evidence of “a severe and disabling emotional or mental condition recognized and diagnosed by a mental health professional” . Emotional distress claims could not be based on “speculation”. Vague complaints, such as “lack of sleep, aggravation, headaches and depression” were “ deemed insufficient as a matter of law because of the potential for fabricated claims”. This is explained in detail in the 2020 New Jersey Appeals Court cases Clark v. Nenna, 2020 N.J. Super. 244 .
However, courts in New Jersey changed that rule for “discrimination” and “civil rights claims”. Now, any person in a “protected class” who claims he or she was insulted, disciplined, not hired, or promoted or offended in any way can sue for compensation for “emotional distress” without any medical proof. Anyone who is black, Hispanic, female, gay, transgender or is not Jewish or Christian is presumed to be in a “protected class”.
Punitive Damages: Punitive Damages let juries “punish” people or businesses by making them pay money over and above the amount needed to fully compensate someone for any actual loss or injury they suffer.
Class action, fee-shifting, emotional distress, and punitive damages lawsuits hurt most Americans in many ways. First they are expensive. They drive up the cost of government and cause high taxes. They drive up the cost of insurance and everything we buy.
However they cause many indirect problems. They force government and businesses to hire, promote, and fail to discipline bad or unqualified employees in a “protective class” for fear of being sued. They also force lenders to lend to and landlords to rent to otherwise unqualified applicants in a “protective class”. Sometimes, this is deadly. The murder of a Fedex supervisor in Philadelphia and mass shootings of employees at a Walmart in Virginia were done by employees who were probably hired and promoted only because they were in a “protected class”.
- Repudiate Unconstitutional State and Federal Debt.
Article I, Section 8 of New Jersey’s Constitution states that State government cannot borrow money without voter approval. Most of New Jersey. Right now, New Jersey has $5.5 billion of debt incurred with voter approval. That debt is sustainable. However, New Jersey state government also has $243 billion of debts and obligations which were NOT approved by voters pursuant to our State Constitution. Roughly 2/3 of that debt are promises to pay pension and benefit payments to state, local and public school government employees over and above what is in the pension funds. That comes to $81,000 of unconstitutional debt for each of New Jersey 3 million households. That debt is clearly unsustainable. At some point, New Jersey must either cut those payments or impose massive new tax hikes to pay them.
As of September 30, 2022, the federal government debt was $30.9 trillion or $30,900,000,000,000. That comes to more than $100,000 for every man, woman, and child in America, or roughly $250,000 for each household. The interest on that debt is $724 billion per year. Clearly that debt is unsustainable, and will never be paid back. There is a sound legal theory for not paying most of that debt. Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution states that the federal government can only borrow money for specific purposes such as to build roads, deliver the mail, fund a court system, and pay for national defense. Most of that debt was incurred for purposes not permitted by our Constitution. Can a future Congress “repudiate” or fail to repay debts incurred in violation of our Constitution?
- Restore “Election Day” With Voting Through Paper Ballots Or Traditional Mechanical Voting Machines On A Single Election Day Except For Military Or Objective Medical Conditions.
Back in the 1880s, there was massive corruption and fraud in our elections. After years of debate, Republicans and Democrats agreed on many reforms to restore election integrity. They included the following:
- Require voter registration more than 30 days before elections.
- All voting to be held at fixed polling places on one Election Day.
- All voting to be done with locked, supervised ballot boxes or mechanical voting machines.
- All voting to be done under the supervision of government officials representing both major parties and “challengers” representing each candidate.
- No electioneering within 100 feet of polling places.
- No “absentee” ballots without proof of travel plans or medical need.
- No assistance in voting unless medical need and voter requests it.
- Challenged voters must appear before a judge to prove they are qualified. Judges available as courts closed for all cases other than election cases.
During the past forty years, those voting safeguards were systematically eliminated. To restore election integrity and confidence in elections, we must restore these safeguards and procedures.
- Permit nuclear power to supplement coal, oil, and natural gas for energy. No more subsidies for wind or solar projects that cannot pay for themselves.
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Seth Grossman, Executive Director