This Man Gave Free Haircuts to Veterans and Got Clobbered by Regulators

Few things could be more American than volunteering to help others. So it’s a shame when our altruism is thwarted by another, far more lamentable American trait: big government.

Juan Carlos Montes de Oca knows firsthand. A cosmetology student from Tucson, Montes de Oca felt inspired when he heard about a barber in London who donated haircuts to the homeless on his days off. So he decided to do the same for homeless veterans in Arizona.

He did this free of charge, of course, to give the veterans a better appearance and a more positive outlook when applying for jobs. “Out of the kindness of my heart,” he told a reporter. “Out of the memory of my mom, because she lost her hair.”

Well, we can’t have that, can we? So to the rescue rides what the Arizona Republic referred to as “the hair police”—the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology.

It turns out Montes de Oca was giving these haircuts despite the fact that he hadn’t graduated from cosmetology school. He was giving these cuts to homeless vets without a license.

What a monster. Grab the torches and pitchforks!

It seems you can’t just set up shop and start shearing locks in the Grand Canyon state, no matter how talented you may be. A state law requires 1,000 hours of training at a state-licensed school.

>>> How Arizona Is Using Licensure Laws to Punish Compassion

Montes de Oca wasn’t the first Arizona resident to run afoul of government overseers. As Republic reporter Kristin Haubrich noted:

A dozen years ago, they swooped down on a 23-year-old Glendale woman who was braiding the hair of African-Americans. The cosmetology cops informed Essence that she’d have to get a license to do that which she’d been doing since she was 13 years old.

To get that license, she would have to take 1,600 hours of classes at a state-approved cosmetology school, paying tuition of $10,000 or more to learn everything from how to cut and curl to how to manicure and massage. Everything, that is, but how to braid hair.

The state legislature passed a law to fix this, but then along came the case of Juana, a 24-year-old eyebrow threader. She had been doing this kind of work for eight years, but the “cosmetology cops” told her she’d have to stop. Only a licensed aesthetician could do such work.

Juana, the Republic reported, would “need 600 hours of state-approved classes, learning everything from laser safety to Botox theory, from how to apply chemical peels and how to tint eyelashes. Everything, that is, but how to remove hair with a thread.”

It took a long fight and a lawsuit to get that requirement fixed. But you can never rest easy where government is concerned—as soon as you pluck one bureaucratic weed, another starts growing in its place.

Which brings us back to the case of Juan Carlos Montes de Oca. His plight has captured the attention of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who noted in his recent State of the State address that a cosmetology license requires “25 weeks [of training], more than an EMT, certified nursing assistant or truck driver.”

He’s pushing to ease the draconian requirements for a cosmetology license.

>>> Arizona Governor Says ‘Cut It Out’ to Ban on Unlicensed Haircuts for Homeless Vets

Ducey referred to the cosmetology board as “bullies.” He’s right. But that’s par for the bureaucracy at any level of government.

This case and many others like it show us an eternal truth: The government’s natural tendency is to expand beyond its original tasks—to reach into the details of our everyday lives and dictate what we can and can’t do. That’s why we call it “the nanny state.”

Yes, their rules and regulations may be well-intentioned. But that doesn’t change the fact that this mission creep can cause real harm—or that we need to resist it at every turn.

Hair, after all, isn’t the only thing that needs to be cut. So does big government.

Originally published by the Washington Times.

The post This Man Gave Free Haircuts to Veterans and Got Clobbered by Regulators appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Al Gore Blames the ‘Climate Crisis’ for Cold Weather. But Actually, It’s Just January.

Remember when global warming meant the planet was supposed to, well, warm up? Temperatures would rise, and all manner of ecological calamity would ensue?

Me too. So it was surprising to find myself shivering, like other Americans, through several days of arctic chill and extreme cold, only to hear Al Gore blame it on global warming.

He didn’t use the w-word, though. “It’s bitter cold in parts of the U.S., but climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann explains that’s exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis,” Gore tweeted on Jan. 4.

See, it’s a “climate crisis” now. But it’s hard to blame him for trying some rebranding. After all, prediction after prediction has come to naught.

But no matter: Like other Doomsday prophets, Gore just acts like the last missed deadline didn’t happen and comes up with a new one.

Which is why it’s important to remind ourselves of what Gore has said in the past.

Consider, for example, how he said global warming would cause the north polar ice cap to be completely free of ice within five years. When did he say that? Nine years ago.

News flash: The Arctic still has ice. Indeed, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, “ice growth during November 2017 averaged 30,900 square miles per day.” Oops.

So how about the evidence for the latest cold snap?

Gore’s source, Michael Mann, says the ultra-chilly temps we’ve been enduring are “precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.” As the planet warms, he says, we’ll see more cold snaps and “bomb cyclones.”

Seems counter-intuitive, but Mann suggests this is because warming is “causing the jet stream to meander in a particular pattern” that leads to these cold spells.

I use the word “suggests,” however, because this is simply a theory—one that other scientists are not sold on. (Gore and the rest of the climate-crisis crowd often act like their ideas are universally accepted—that the scientific community is in complete agreement with them. But there is more room for doubt and disagreement than they care to admit.)

Just ask Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“Winter storms are a manifestation of winter, not climate change,” he recently told the Daily Caller. “The Arctic is greatly affected by climate change, and it has a feedback effect—but not in winter.”

Even if Gore and Mann are correct about the link between global warming and cold snaps, the record works against them there, too.

“The frequency of cold waves have decreased during the past 50 years, not increased,” University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass says. “That alone shows that such claims are baseless.”

The term “bomb cyclone” is new to most of us, but it’s been around for a while. Climatologist Judith Curry recently told the Caller that it was coined almost 40 years ago by Fred Sanders of MIT, who spent a lot of time studying such storms.

Moreover, there are about 50 or 60 bomb cyclones every year, but most of them occur too far out to sea for us to notice.

Gore and his fellow travelers may have trouble admitting that they could be wrong. But their never-look-back crusade isn’t helping scientific research.

“It is very disappointing that members of my profession are making such obviously bogus claims,” Cliff Mass said. “It hurts the science, it hurts the credibility of climate scientists, and weakens our ability to be taken seriously by society.”

That’s what happens, though, when we bend facts to fit theories—and not the other way around. And remember, Al, as the old song goes, “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

Originally published by the Washington Times.

The post Al Gore Blames the ‘Climate Crisis’ for Cold Weather. But Actually, It’s Just January. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Al Gore Blames the ‘Climate Crisis’ for Cold Weather. But Actually, It’s Just January.

Remember when global warming meant the planet was supposed to, well, warm up? Temperatures would rise, and all manner of ecological calamity would ensue?

Me too. So it was surprising to find myself shivering, like other Americans, through several days of arctic chill and extreme cold, only to hear Al Gore blame it on global warming.

He didn’t use the w-word, though. “It’s bitter cold in parts of the U.S., but climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann explains that’s exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis,” Gore tweeted on Jan. 4.

See, it’s a “climate crisis” now. But it’s hard to blame him for trying some rebranding. After all, prediction after prediction has come to naught.

But no matter: Like other Doomsday prophets, Gore just acts like the last missed deadline didn’t happen and comes up with a new one.

Which is why it’s important to remind ourselves of what Gore has said in the past.

Consider, for example, how he said global warming would cause the north polar ice cap to be completely free of ice within five years. When did he say that? Nine years ago.

News flash: The Arctic still has ice. Indeed, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, “ice growth during November 2017 averaged 30,900 square miles per day.” Oops.

So how about the evidence for the latest cold snap?

Gore’s source, Michael Mann, says the ultra-chilly temps we’ve been enduring are “precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.” As the planet warms, he says, we’ll see more cold snaps and “bomb cyclones.”

Seems counter-intuitive, but Mann suggests this is because warming is “causing the jet stream to meander in a particular pattern” that leads to these cold spells.

I use the word “suggests,” however, because this is simply a theory—one that other scientists are not sold on. (Gore and the rest of the climate-crisis crowd often act like their ideas are universally accepted—that the scientific community is in complete agreement with them. But there is more room for doubt and disagreement than they care to admit.)

Just ask Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“Winter storms are a manifestation of winter, not climate change,” he recently told the Daily Caller. “The Arctic is greatly affected by climate change, and it has a feedback effect—but not in winter.”

Even if Gore and Mann are correct about the link between global warming and cold snaps, the record works against them there, too.

“The frequency of cold waves have decreased during the past 50 years, not increased,” University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass says. “That alone shows that such claims are baseless.”

The term “bomb cyclone” is new to most of us, but it’s been around for a while. Climatologist Judith Curry recently told the Caller that it was coined almost 40 years ago by Fred Sanders of MIT, who spent a lot of time studying such storms.

Moreover, there are about 50 or 60 bomb cyclones every year, but most of them occur too far out to sea for us to notice.

Gore and his fellow travelers may have trouble admitting that they could be wrong. But their never-look-back crusade isn’t helping scientific research.

“It is very disappointing that members of my profession are making such obviously bogus claims,” Cliff Mass said. “It hurts the science, it hurts the credibility of climate scientists, and weakens our ability to be taken seriously by society.”

That’s what happens, though, when we bend facts to fit theories—and not the other way around. And remember, Al, as the old song goes, “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

Originally published by the Washington Times.

The post Al Gore Blames the ‘Climate Crisis’ for Cold Weather. But Actually, It’s Just January. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

The GOP’s Work Has Just Begun. Here’s What Should Top the Agenda in 2018.

Conservatives, we have our work cut out for us this year.

Mind you, 2017 definitely had its ups. Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court. The war on terrorism moved in the right direction, with the prime minister of Iraq declaring victory over ISIS.

The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate-change agreement and is working to reduce regulations. We also have a much-needed tax cut in place.

On a more personal note, we welcomed a new president at The Heritage Foundation: the immensely talented Kay Coles James. Director of the Office of Personnel Management under President George W. Bush, and a senior member of President Donald Trump’s transition team, James was the Heritage board of trustees’ unanimous choice after an extensive search.

The nation’s leading think tank couldn’t be in better hands.

Good thing, too, because there’s plenty to do in 2018—and beyond.

Take health care. Despite Trump’s claim to the contrary, repealing the individual mandate does not “essentially” repeal Obamacare. Key provisions, such as the expansion of Medicaid, remain in place.

“Repeal of the individual mandate is certainly a significant victory for congressional Republicans,” writes David Sivak in the Daily Signal. “Yet the change is modest compared to prior Republican attempts at repeal.”

Indeed, he points out, “Some predict that repeal of the individual mandate may actually lead Republicans to shore up the Obamacare exchanges.”

Or take spending—please. It continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Budget expert Romina Boccia, in a review of federal spending in 2017, notes that the deficit reached $666 billion (how appropriate), the debt hit $20 trillion, and Social Security spending topped $1 trillion.

This is unsustainable. No wonder we’re always told we can’t “afford” tax cuts. The money we send to Washington flows out at such a prodigious rate that policymakers naturally howl at the thought of even a modest reduction.

The problem is that freedom requires constant work and vigilance. There are no permanent victories or defeats. It’s like weeding a garden. Policymaking is never a “one and done” situation. There will always be something to do tomorrow. And the next day.

With that in mind, here’s a six-question test that I introduced in my 2006 book “Getting America Right.” My co-author Doug Wilson and I wrote that, if followed, “it could well become the bypass operation that restores Washington’s failing political heart to normal functioning.”

The questions we should ask of any policy prescription:

  • Is it the government’s business? Relatively few things really need federal intervention. Many can and should be handled at the state and local level, where accountability, knowledge, and oversight is naturally better.
  • Does it promote self-reliance? Liberal policy proposals usually promote dependence on government, but nothing could be more un-American. We should, for example, measure a welfare program’s success not by how many people are signed up for it, but by how many who are on it have managed to find work.
  • Is it responsible? Should we spend more than take in? Should we tolerate waste, fraud, and abuse? Of course not.
  • Does it make America more prosperous? That’s a key question to pose when it comes to trade barriers and business regulations. Yet we seldom do.
  • Does it make us safer? The way we’ve been underfunding the military, to the point where current readiness levels are seriously compromised, suggests that we need to ask this more often.
  • Does it unify us? We used to welcome immigrants as new Americans. Yet our current policies encourage balkanization. This needs to change—and soon.

We should certainly be optimistic about 2018. We have the tools we need to make things better. The question is, will we have the courage to act?

Originally published by the Washington Times.

The post The GOP’s Work Has Just Begun. Here’s What Should Top the Agenda in 2018. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

With Christmas Tax Cuts Signed Into Law, 2018 Just Got Merrier

Most of the gifts exchanged at this time of year are opened on Christmas Day. But this time around, a big one arrived a few days early: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

You’d never know that if you listen to the grinches in the so-called mainstream media, of course. They poured the usual amount of derision on it, insisting that it’s nothing more than a robber-baron’s roundup—a grab bag of goodies for the rich and no one else.

“A Win for the Wealthy, the Entitled and the Irresponsible,” read the headline of The Washington Post’s editorial. The New York Times, meanwhile, went with “Tax Bill Lets Trump and Republicans Feather Their Own Nests.”

Other media outlets followed suit, venting outrage at what they insist is nothing more than a sell-out and a scam.

It isn’t. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act isn’t perfect, but it offers real tax relief to Americans up and down the income scale. President Donald Trump’s opponents are so fixed in their class-warfare ways that they seem oblivious to how beneficial it will really be, to ordinary workers and to the economy as a whole.

Several high-profile businesses—ones with no ideological ax to grind, unlike many in the media—seemed to realize this. They immediately followed the announcement of the Act’s passage with a few welcome announcements of their own: bonuses for their employees, and plans to create more jobs.

AT&T said it plans to give a $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 employees, and to invest $1 billion in the economy. Boeing announced a $300 million investment. FedEx said it’ll hire more workers, as did CVS—3,000, to be specific.

Comcast reacted to the tax bill and to the repeal of net neutrality by saying that 100,000 of its employees will get a $1,000 bonus.

There were others—and more to come, you can be sure. “This is just the first wave of many such stories,” tax expert Adam Michel told The Daily Signal. “These announcements show that businesses across America will put their tax cut to good use.”

This flatly contradicts the conventional, ahem, wisdom at many media outlets. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work, they insist.

But actions speak louder than words, and the actions of many businesses shows how tax relief can help all Americans, directly or indirectly. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Will the rich benefit more than lower-income Americans? It depends on how you look at the numbers.

The rich pay the lion’s share of the tax burden, so they will see the largest dollar value in benefits.

However, the middle class sees the largest reduction in taxes paid: up to a 56 percent tax cut for some people.

Is this what the media means by Trump’s “tax cut for the rich?” News flash: Under this legislation, the wealthiest people in America will actually pay a larger share of total taxes. Liberals should be celebrating—our tax code is now more progressive than it was under President Barack Obama (not that that’s a good thing.)

Still, this is a win-win across the income spectrum. When you increase the standard deduction and the child tax credit, to cite two of the tax bill’s most notable features, you can’t help but lower the federal burden on many hard-working Americans—not just the wealthy.

Mind you, there’s still work to be done. There’s much we can do to simplify our Byzantine tax code, and make it flatter and fairer to all Americans.

But the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is an excellent place to start. Something to think about next year, when your gift budget is a bit bigger than it was this year.

Originally published by the Washington Times.

The post With Christmas Tax Cuts Signed Into Law, 2018 Just Got Merrier appeared first on The Daily Signal.

With More Investment, Our Missile Defense System Could Be Truly Dependable

Thirty-three minutes. That’s all the time we’d have to respond to an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile from anywhere in the world.

Roughly half an hour to avert disaster—if we’re lucky.

Sure, that isn’t the most cheerful thought to entertain, especially at Christmas time. But with all the saber-rattling coming from North Korea these days, not to mention other global hot spots, we don’t have the luxury to pretend this threat doesn’t exist.

A successful nuclear strike would carry an unthinkable toll. The bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945 had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons of TNT. North Korea’s nuclear test in October? Two hundred fifty kilotons.

According to the documentary film “33 Minutes,” the Sept. 11 attacks resulted in 3,000 deaths and $80 billion in damage. A nuclear bomb dropped on Manhattan would cause hundreds of thousands of casualties, and trillions in damage.

That’s not the only way a nuclear bomb could be used against the U.S., however. An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is another likely method of attack. In this case, a nuclear bomb isn’t dropped on the targeted area, but detonated hundreds of miles above it. This would emit a wide-ranging burst of electromagnetic radiation.

Goodbye, electric grid. Nearly everything powered by electricity, from telephones, internet service, and electric power, to car batteries and airplane controls, would be disrupted or permanently damaged. And not just in one city, but across the continental United States. In a flash, we’d be set back more than a century.

But wait, you may be thinking. You said we’d have 33 minutes to respond. We could counteract such an attack, right? Stop it from happening?

If you’re thinking of missile defense, you’re right. We do have a way of responding, and we could stop a missile with a missile. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the missile defense system we have isn’t as comprehensive and well-developed as it could and should be at this stage. We have a revolver, when we could have an automatic rifle.

Nearly 35 years ago, President Ronald Reagan first called for a way to render the threat of ballistic missiles “impotent and obsolete.” Yet today, thanks in part to opposition from those who consider missile defense both unworkable and destabilizing, we have only one system capable of shooting down long-range ballistic missiles headed for the U.S. homeland: the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.

We can do better, though. The GMD system is the only system we have capable of intercepting an intercontinental ballistic missile in the mid-course phase of its flight.

With a system that includes sea- and space-based interceptors, we could target intercontinental ballistic missiles earlier in their flight—during the boost or ascent phase, when they’re traveling more slowly and are easier to hit.

Now’s the time, as the Trump administration conducts its own missile defense review, to reverse the cutbacks that occurred under the Obama administration. Defending ourselves on the cheap is unwise. With the right budgetary priorities, we can ensure that we get more than one shot at destroying an incoming missile.

North Korea, after all, isn’t the only threat (as if it wasn’t enough). Iran has a large ballistic missile arsenal and an active nuclear program, and it remains a dogged opponent of U.S. interests in the Middle East.

Then there’s our old Cold War nemesis, Russia. Thirty years ago, it signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the U.S.

But “Russia has violated the treaty at least twice,” writes defense expert Michaela Dodge. “The U.S. government’s 2017 report identifies a Russian ground-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile 3N-14 that can potentially carry a nuclear warhead.”

President Donald Trump has called the tax-cut bill before Congress “a big, beautiful Christmas present” for the U.S. With the work of the administration’s ballistic-missile defense review coming shortly thereafter, what better way to follow up this gift than to make 2018 the year when we finally get serious about protecting ourselves?

This article originally appeared in The Washington Times.

The post With More Investment, Our Missile Defense System Could Be Truly Dependable appeared first on The Daily Signal.