SocietyWatch

From the March 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

War on women

On Dec. 3, 2015, United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a historic transformation of the U.S. military: opening all combat jobs to women.

“There will be no exceptions,” Carter said. “While the Marine Corps asked for a partial exception in some areas such as infantry, machine gunner, fire support reconnaissance and others, we are a joint force, and I have decided to make a decision which applies to the entire force,” explained Carter. Women will now be “allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy seals, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers, and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

The Marine Corps was the only service division to commission an independent, peer-reviewed study that revealed the inefficiency of female integration in certain front-line positions. The study found that gender-integrated units were slower, less accurate and more injury-prone than all-male units. While only 19 percent of men incurred musculoskeletal injuries, as many as 41 percent of women did.

As the Trumpet wrote in April 2013, “The average woman is almost 5 inches shorter, with nearly 40 fewer pounds of muscle and 6 more pounds of fat, than the average man. She has less than half of his upper-body strength, 20 percent less aerobic capacity, and lighter, brittler bones. She cannot run or jump as far; last as long; grip as well; push, pull, lift or carry as much. … An honorable man shields a female from danger and hurt. … And within a gender-integrated theater of combat, it introduces a host of complications. A leader is expected to view that woman not as a woman, but simply as a soldier—a grunt whom he must be able to send into harm’s way.”

Congressman Duncan Hunter, a Marine combat veteran, expressed another common apprehension about integrating women into combat operation: “What cannot happen—as many are rightly concerned will—is that the services will be forced to lower various specialty standards, in order to remain ‘gender neutral.’” Compromising those standards is inevitable if women are to play a significant role.

Putting women into harm’s way is not a victory for women’s rights, but an example of misguided ideology trumping good sense.

Government gives IRS authority to take your passport

United States President Barack Obama signed the fast Act highway transportation bill on Dec. 4, 2015. Buried inside the bill is a little-known provision that vastly expands the power of the federal government.

The Internal Revenue Service now has the right to revoke your passport for unpaid taxes if it says you owe $50,000 or more (including penalties and interest). There are 12 million people in the U.S. that the irs says owe taxes.

Under the law, the irs does not have to prove that you owe the money. It only has to claim that you do. The irs does not have to ask a judge for permission to revoke your passport. An irs official just sends an e-mail, and the State Department revokes it. The law does not provide taxpayers an opportunity to challenge a finding that they owe back taxes in federal court before their passport is revoked.

According to lawmakers, this is an effort to force more delinquents to pay their taxes. But opponents say that the bill grants an extreme amount of power to an agency that has been known to be used by politicians to target their enemies.

The irs already has the power to file tax liens against all property you own. The irs also has the ability to empty your bank accounts without judicial review. It just has to send you a notice of payment saying how much you owe. If you don’t challenge or pay within 10 days, they can empty your accounts. This is routine.

The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 also granted the irs the power to seize the bank accounts of those suspected to be engaged in criminal activity—even when no charges have been filed and no convictions made. According to Forbes, in 2012 only 20 percent of the cases in which money was seized were criminal charges even pursued. Eighty percent of victims were innocent in the eyes of the law—and they had their money stolen by the government anyway. Forbes calls it an “irs horror story.” Even the New York Times is reporting horror stories of abuse by the government. Almost none of these people get their money back.

Now the irs is even more immune from the core principles of American governance: individual rights, innocent until proven guilty, trial by jury, judicial review, separation of powers.

2015’s record-breaking gun sale year

In almost every year since 1998, the month of December invariably sets the monthly record for background checks for firearm purchases. December 2015 was no exception: The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that 3,314,594 checks smashed the next highest month of the year by over 1 million, and broke the overall monthly record of December 2012 by over 600,000.

More than 23 million checks were processed during 2015. It was an all-time record, with each month from May to December breaking their respective records.

President Barack Obama has said that he will make gun restrictions one of his primary objectives during his last year in office.