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Don't Go Here

Thursday, June 9, 2016

One hour of being stonewalled


This is what passes for customer "service" at CenturyLink: 

You are chatting with MARCOS A..

How may I help you today?
MARCOS A.: at 13:46:55

Thank you for choosing CenturyLink! My name is Marcos, how can I help you?
MARCOS A.: at 13:46:55

Michael Britton: at 13:47:19
Hi, my bill is supposed to be $34.95 but it is $38.94. I need that corrected, please.

MARCOS A.: at 13:47:58
I will be more than glad to assist you. Can you provide me your full service address as well as your account number?

Michael Britton: at 13:48:48
[INFORMATION PROVIDED]

MARCOS A.: at 13:51:51
Thank you for the information

MARCOS A.: at 13:52:42
Just to verify that I am speaking with a responsible party on this account, please provide the last four digits of the account holder's SSN.

Michael Britton: at 13:52:57
[INFORMATION PROVIDED]

MARCOS A.: at 13:53:00
Thank you for the information

MARCOS A.: at 13:53:50
may I know do you usually do long distance calls

Michael Britton: at 13:54:15
Irrelevant. Please focus on my problem.

MARCOS A.: at 13:54:25
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 13:54:37
I do show on my system that your bill is ok

MARCOS A.: at 13:54:48
This is your billing cycle

Michael Britton: at 13:55:00
"ok" how? It is $3.99 too much.

MARCOS A.: at 13:56:53
Thank you for waiting. I'll be with you in just a moment.

MARCOS A.: at 13:56:58
you have 40M internet speed $34.95 + internet cost recovery $3.99 (The Internet Cost Recovery Fee (ICRF) is a new monthly recurring charge which is applied to all consumer and business HSI lines in service. The charge will apply to all types of HSI) $3.99 = $38.94

Michael Britton: at 13:57:07
ok

Michael Britton: at 13:57:37
Hold on a moment please [I went and looked up information in this fee.]

MARCOS A.: at 13:57:37
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 13:58:37
Yeah, I refuse to pay that fee. I did not agree to it. Please remove it.

MARCOS A.: at 13:58:55
I do apologize for the inconveniences

Michael Britton: at 14:00:28
I understand that "This fee helps defray costs associated with building and maintaining CenturyLink's High-Speed Internet broadband network, as well as the costs of expanding network capacity to support the continued increase in customers' average broadband consumption."  But...that's what the rest of my bill is for. This is just another sneaky way to raise my rates. I object vociferously to being dealt with in this fashion. Please escalate to someone who can take care of this.

MARCOS A.: at 14:01:02
Allow me a moment please

Michael Britton: at 14:01:42
ok

MARCOS A.: at 14:02:03
Thank you

MARCOS A.: at 14:02:17
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:02:30
But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:02:33
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:02:47
What is not available?

Michael Britton: at 14:02:51
Escalation?

MARCOS A.: at 14:03:01
You have to pay that on your billing cycle

MARCOS A.: at 14:03:06
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:03:43
Really? I don't think so. If I have to pay the $3.99 fee, then I need the rest of bill lowered by $3.99.

Michael Britton: at 14:04:09
I insist on escalating to a supervisor, please.

MARCOS A.: at 14:04:06
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:04:22
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:04:32
But at this moment they are not available

MARCOS A.: at 14:04:34
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:04:53
Yes. I need a supervisor.

MARCOS A.: at 14:04:57
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:05:03
but they are not available

MARCOS A.: at 14:05:03
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:05:29
Why are they not available?

MARCOS A.: at 14:05:37
They are busy right now

Michael Britton: at 14:05:50
Okay, I can wait.

MARCOS A.: at 14:05:43
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:05:44
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

MARCOS A.: at 14:05:58
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:05:59
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:06:07
Yes, put me in the queue for a supervisor. I will wait.

MARCOS A.: at 14:06:11
I do understand

MARCOS A.: at 14:06:12
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:06:30
Yes, put me in the queue for a supervisor. I will wait.

MARCOS A.: at 14:06:45
I do apologize for the inconveniences this is not possible right now

MARCOS A.: at 14:06:47
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:07:11
Are you seriously denying a customer the opportunity to escalate? Really?

MARCOS A.: at 14:07:38
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:08:01
But this is your billing cycle

MARCOS A.: at 14:08:11
You have to pay this

MARCOS A.: at 14:08:16
I do apologize for that

Michael Britton: at 14:09:11
I'm sure there is someone there who can reduce my bill by $3.99 to accommodate your shady business practice of adding a $3.99 fee.

MARCOS A.: at 14:09:33
I do apologize for the inconveniences but this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:09:37
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:10:38
On March 9, 2016, Marvin in the Loyalty department assured me that my rate would be $34.95/mo for 24 months. He gave me his word. Surely you don't want to make a liar out of Marvin. Surely a man's word means something to you?

MARCOS A.: at 14:10:54
I do understand

Michael Britton: at 14:11:06
I insist on communicating with a supervisor to resolve this.

MARCOS A.: at 14:11:16
but this recovery is on your bill you will have to pay this I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:11:16
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:12:10
Yes. You can credit my bill with $3.99 x 24 months = $95.76. That way, you guys aren't a bunch of stinking liars.

MARCOS A.: at 14:12:23
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:12:31
I would appreciate it if you did not use inappropriate language. If you continue to do so, this chat session will end.

Michael Britton: at 14:13:21
Sorry. I meant to say "malodorous speakers of untruths."

MARCOS A.: at 14:13:36
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:13:52
Yes, I need my problem resolved.

Michael Britton: at 14:14:01
I can do this all day. Please escalate me now.

MARCOS A.: at 14:14:38
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:14:38
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:15:04
There is no such thing in customer support as a rep who is not empowered to escalate to a supervisor. Please escalate me immediately.

MARCOS A.: at 14:15:26
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:15:30
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:15:43
Look, Marcos, I'm not trying to make your life hard. I just want to be treated like the paying customer I am.

Michael Britton: at 14:15:53
Escalate me, please.

MARCOS A.: at 14:16:11
I do understand

Michael Britton: at 14:16:50
I don't think you do understand.

MARCOS A.: at 14:16:43
I do apologize for the inconveniences but at this moment is not possible to give you this credit

MARCOS A.: at 14:16:43
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:16:55
Anything "else"? You haven't helped me at all, yet!

Michael Britton: at 14:17:01
Escalate me, please.

MARCOS A.: at 14:17:44
I do apologize for the inconveniences

Michael Britton: at 14:17:58
Uh huh.

Michael Britton: at 14:18:23
I saw that macro the first 30 times.

Michael Britton: at 14:18:32
Escalate me, please.

MARCOS A.: at 14:19:31
I do apologize for the inconveniences

Michael Britton: at 14:19:46
Funny, Marcos.

MARCOS A.: at 14:19:40
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:19:49
Escalate me, please.

MARCOS A.: at 14:19:55
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:20:05
Escalate me, please.

MARCOS A.: at 14:20:43
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

Michael Britton: at 14:20:56
Escalate me, please.

MARCOS A.: at 14:21:13
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:21:14
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:21:22
Put me in the supervisor queue; I will wait.

MARCOS A.: at 14:21:24
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:21:24
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:21:38
Escalate me, please.

MARCOS A.: at 14:21:41
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:21:42
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:22:36
This is the last ninety-five bucks that you crooks are going to steal from my family! I will post this chat transcript on social media to help expose the corruption of CenturyLink. This is the most appalling customer service ever.

MARCOS A.: at 14:23:04
I do apologize for the inconveniences

Michael Britton: at 14:23:26
Where are you located, Marcos?

MARCOS A.: at 14:24:14
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available give information

MARCOS A.: at 14:24:21
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:24:39
Yes. Escalate me.

MARCOS A.: at 14:24:43
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:24:43
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:25:00
Yes. Escalate me.

MARCOS A.: at 14:25:05
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:25:05
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:25:15
Yes. Escalate me.

MARCOS A.: at 14:25:23
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:25:24
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:25:36
When will a supervisor be available?

MARCOS A.: at 14:25:41
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:25:41
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:26:11
WHEN will a supervisor be available? Simple question.

MARCOS A.: at 14:26:14
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:26:19
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:26:29
Got that. So, when?

MARCOS A.: at 14:26:30
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:26:30
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:26:43
Yes. Escalate me.

MARCOS A.: at 14:26:42
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:26:43
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:27:18
Don't you even have a desire to help me?

Michael Britton: at 14:27:27
Do you just not care?

Michael Britton: at 14:27:36
Are you a human?

Michael Britton: at 14:27:42
Or a robot?

MARCOS A.: at 14:27:45
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:27:45
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:28:04
Ha! Robot!

Michael Britton: at 14:28:07
Knew it.

MARCOS A.: at 14:28:11
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:28:21
Yes. Escalate me.

MARCOS A.: at 14:28:28
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:28:30
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:28:40
Yes. Escalate me.

MARCOS A.: at 14:28:46
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:28:47
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:29:35
Yes, you can help me to figure out the best way to make sure CenturyLink regrets this.

Michael Britton: at 14:31:06
You know, just yesterday I was talking with some guys at work about how some companies are so big that they truly do not care about customer satisfaction. Here's a perfect example.

MARCOS A.: at 14:31:18
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:31:19
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:32:12
Now it's clear that you're just multi-tasking. Hitting macros. Not even reading my responses...a multi-tasking robot...

Michael Britton: at 14:32:18
How pathetic.

Michael Britton: at 14:32:44
Well, at least you guys can continue to abuse your customers with impunity.

MARCOS A.: at 14:32:42
I do apologize for the inconveniences

Michael Britton: at 14:33:02
Right.

MARCOS A.: at 14:33:03
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:33:13
MIchael do you need something else?

Michael Britton: at 14:33:27
Yes. Escalate me.

MARCOS A.: at 14:33:36
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:33:36
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:33:48
Yes. Escalate me.

MARCOS A.: at 14:34:28
I do apologize for the inconveniences But this is not available at the moment

MARCOS A.: at 14:34:31
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:35:21
Yes. Say something to prove you are not a robot.

MARCOS A.: at 14:35:49
Yes I am a human

MARCOS A.: at 14:35:52
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:36:15
Sorry I accused you of being a robot.

MARCOS A.: at 14:36:25
hahahahahaha

Michael Britton: at 14:36:36
From one human to another...will you please help me?

MARCOS A.: at 14:36:32
That is ok

MARCOS A.: at 14:36:50
I do apologize for this inconveniences Michael

MARCOS A.: at 14:36:59
But this is not possible right now

Michael Britton: at 14:37:17
When might it be possible?

MARCOS A.: at 14:37:16
Is not a way to fix this

MARCOS A.: at 14:37:42
I do apologize for the inconveniences but that information is not available

Michael Britton: at 14:38:55
No way to fix this, eh? This is just the way it is...I must accept it. I must roll over and be abused. Hmm. I will remember this when my contract is up, and you will lose a customer. Over $95. That is not a smart business move.

MARCOS A.: at 14:39:20
I do apologize for the inconveniences

Michael Britton: at 14:39:35
But, you will retain millions of other customers who are equally abused, so I guess I don't matter.

Michael Britton: at 14:40:02
And that's exactly what I meant about companies getting so big that their customers don't matter. We matter in aggregate, but not individually.

MARCOS A.: at 14:39:59
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:40:15
I do understand

Michael Britton: at 14:40:32
You're still going to lose me as a customer.

MARCOS A.: at 14:40:43
I do apologize for that inconveniences

Michael Britton: at 14:41:03
Because I may not matter to you (CenturyLink collectively), but my own self-worth matters to me.

Michael Britton: at 14:41:17
Self-respect.

MARCOS A.: at 14:41:19
I do understand

MARCOS A.: at 14:41:23
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:42:07
Can you provide me the DIRECT phone number to the Loyalty department?

MARCOS A.: at 14:42:54
I do apologize for the inconveniences, but this is not possible right now

Michael Britton: at 14:43:11
Ha ha! I should have guessed.

MARCOS A.: at 14:43:32
I do apologize for that

Michael Britton: at 14:43:43
Never mind, I found it in my notes from the other (many) times I have had to deal with you folks. It's 877-348-9004 in case you're wondering.

MARCOS A.: at 14:43:36
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

MARCOS A.: at 14:44:11
I do apologize for the inconveniences

MARCOS A.: at 14:44:16
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:44:49
Yes...enjoy a nice dinner after work today. Relax. Talk about this chat exchange with your wife or girlfriend. Appreciate your life.

Michael Britton: at 14:45:04
Be glad you are not a CenturyLink customer.

Michael Britton: at 14:45:31
Sorry for giving you such a hard time. I am not one to take no for an answer.

MARCOS A.: at 14:45:27
Thank you Michael have a good night and take care you too take the life easy

MARCOS A.: at 14:45:36
I do understand

MARCOS A.: at 14:45:45
That is ok no problem

MARCOS A.: at 14:45:56
I'm here for assist you on what I can

MARCOS A.: at 14:45:58
Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

Michael Britton: at 14:46:15
Yes. Escalate me.

Michael Britton: at 14:46:17
Just kidding.

Michael Britton: at 14:46:20
BYE

MARCOS A.: at 14:46:28
Hahahahaahahaha

MARCOS A.: at 14:46:34
Good By Michael

MARCOS A.: at 14:46:38
Bye*

MARCOS A.: at 14:46:42
Have a nice day

MARCOS A.: at 14:47:01
Based on the chat transaction with me today, there will be a post chat survey. I hope you rate me a 10-10. Have I earned that score from you today?

**************

Survey: Please provide comments or suggestions regarding your experience.
Me: The chat agent was friendly and patient, but unable to help me at all. He refused to escalate me to someone who could help me. I spent an hour trying to get him to escalate me. You have lost my business forever, and I will be spreading the word.

**************

UPDATE:

So, I complained on Twitter, and CenturyLinkHelp Team responded to me the next day. We engaged in a private message:

ME: On 3/9/16 Marvin in the Loyalty department promised me 24 months at $34.95/mo total. You've added $3.99 in bogus "ICRF." You need to reduce the rest of bill by $3.99 to offset this, or credit me $95.76 for the 24 months to offset it. Either way, you must keep your word. 

BRIAN: Your internet is $34.95 a month. The $3.99 is a Internet Cost Recovery Fee, you've been paying that for some time now. We can't remove that charge or credit the account.

ME: I was promised a total bill of $34.95, regardless of the sneaky fee you've added. This is shady business practices.

BRIAN: Your monthly bill is $34.95 before taxes and surcharges.

ME: We seem to have differing definitions of the word "total." So, what is the limit to the quantity and value of bogus surcharges that you can unilaterally add to this agreed-upon "total" bill? You don't think I'm going to miss a hundred bucks a year? Just because of the way you present it on the bill?

BRIAN: Sorry, but we can't credit the account.

ME: Yeah, that's the same line I kept getting from your chat support guy. It's clear that CenturyLink is not interested in doing honest business or keeping individual customers satisfied. My request to be treated honestly is not unreasonable. I will not renew my contract when it comes due, and I will be sure to spread the word to my extensive personal and professional network. I will also file a formal complaint with the appropriate regulatory agencies. I know this isn't your fault, Brian, but if customers keep rolling over for this kind of abuse, it won't stop.

BRIAN: If you need help with anything else please let me know.

ME: Nope. Decency and integrity was the only thing I was hoping for. Foolish, I know, but hey, I'm an optimist at heart.

******************

UPDATE:

I started the FTC complaint process, but abandoned it. Instead, I studied the CenturyLink agreement. By using their services I automatically consented to the terms of the agreement. The agreement states that I have no recourse regarding their unilateral changes to the agreement (in this case, the addition of sneaky fees). My only legal recourse, therefore, is to cancel, pay a $200 early termination fee, and change providers. Next time, I will red-line any contract before "agreeing" to it.


Monday, February 29, 2016

32 Things I Hate

There are those who would call someone like me, of my political opinions, a hater. 
Well, I admit it, I am a hater. 

  • I hate tyranny. 
  • I hate cruelty. 
  • I hate disingenuous debate. 
  • I hate Godlessness. 
  • I hate lies. 
  • I hate selfishness. 
  • I hate entitlement mentality. 
  • I hate abuse of power. 
  • I hate the trampling of the Constitution. 
  • I hate fascism. 
  • I hate arrogant "leadership." 
  • I hate the shutting down of reasoned debate by those who fear rational discourse because they know they can't win on the merits of their argument. 
  • I hate the biased MSM news. 
  • I hate the monopoly of influence held by the news-entertainment-media industrial complex. 
  • I hate the power of money in politics. 
  • I hate the lack of decency and morals among our elected representatives. 
  • I hate revisionist history. 
  • I hate Alynskyite tactics. 
  • I hate moral relativism. 
  • I hate distractions, misdirections, obfuscations, and outright deceptions utilized daily by those who seek to obtain and maintain power while brutally and mercilessly subduing all who may be perceived as standing in the way. 
  • I hate being characterized as a bigot or a neanderthal because I hold to traditional morality. 
  • I hate the fact that my government thinks I am too stupid and/or apathetic to see through their duplicity. 
  • I hate the fact that too many of my fellow citizens *are* too apathetic. 
  • I hate the fact that elections are decided by whoever can deceive and bribe the most voters. 
  • I hate the continued victimization of people by those who claim to have their best interests at heart. 
  • I hate the removal of personal agency disguised as do-gooderism. 
  • I hate the Orwellian use of language in the public sphere. 
  • I hate the confiscation of my property and the infringement of my rights that has become commonplace and standard policy. 
  • I hate that evil is called good and good is called evil — with impunity. 
  • I hate the fact that our liberties are ever-shrinking while the scope and reach of government is ever-expanding. 
  • I hate the sense of foreboding and futility I feel whenever I contemplate the direction our nation and our world are heading. 
  • I hate the fact that there is very little I can personally do to protect my children's future against the enemies of liberty. 

Yep...I am a hater. I do not apologize.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

5 Myths About the SCOTUS Marriage Decision



My concerns about the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell fall into two separate categories that can be broadly described as political and religious. On one hand, I consider the impact on liberty in the United States from the perspective of the Constitution and the power of the judicial branch, on the other hand I have my moral and spiritual perspective as it pertains to my own faith. I believe reasonable, principled objections exist on both fronts, and although many others have opined on this subject already, I desire to add my own voice.

I had an interesting exchange on Facebook with someone who supports the Obergefell decision, which requires the governments of all 50 states to legally recognize unions of same-sex couples as "marriages." What was interesting was that despite my providing ample examples of principled objections (all of which were from the legal perspective, not the religious), he was so ideologically blinded that he was literally incapable of seeing a perspective other than his own. You either agreed with him, or you were a hateful bigot. Period. I found it surprising because this man appears to be reasonably intelligent; apparently even smart people can have closed minds. The points below include some of the items I brought to his attention, but which were instantly dismissed like a kid with fingers in his ears going "la la la la."

From the legal/political perspective, here are some of my principled objections to the SCOTUS ruling, provided as rebuttals to the myths being expounded by some of its supporters:

1. SCOTUS expanded freedom for everyone. No, this decision has nothing to do with freedom. "Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits." (from Thomas' dissent, emphasis added) Claiming, as many do, that this decision expands freedom is a misapplication of the basic tenets of this representative republic.

The High Court swiping power from the states injures democracy by improperly altering the checks and balances system that has served us well thus far. "The Constitution itself says nothing about marriage, and the Framers thereby entrusted the States with '[t]he whole subject of the domestic relations of husband and wife.'” (from Roberts' dissent) It is thus with the states, and the people, that the issue should have remained. Just because it went to the Supreme Court doesn't mean that gives the SCOTUS justices carte blanche to let their feelings rule the day rather than exercising proper judicial restraint.

2. SCOTUS lifted restrictions on marriage, weakening government power. No, immediately prior to this decision, there was no restriction on who could get married (with the obvious exceptions of age of consent and incest). That's because prior to this decision, marriage was defined as the legal union of a man and a woman. SCOTUS redefined the word "marriage" and imposed that definition on the states -- something the Constitution does not empower SCOTUS to do. (A simple example should suffice to clarify: any homosexual man was always free to marry a woman, and any homosexual woman was always free to marry a man. There was no restriction on anyone entering into what a marriage was, by definition.)

The decision clearly expanded government power. This idea that SCOTUS limited government power is manifestly absurd. As atheist blogger Christopher Cantwell points out:

The court decided that the constitution, despite lacking any language saying so, promises everybody a “right” to a “license” to marry... Firstly, a “license” is an indicator that you do not have a “right” to do something. Licenses are a thing government issues, specifically to prevent someone from doing something, until they get government permission to so do. They are, by their very definition, a constriction on rights, a limiter of freedom. To license a thing is to outlaw it, and to then grant one permission to break that law. To say that you are fighting for gay “rights” by seeking to have licenses issued to them, is not just a complete failure to understand rights, it is a complete failure to understand rudimentary English.

It is tomfoolery to claim the creation of this new "right" is at all the expansion of an existing right. And if people want this new "right," the correct mechanism is through state legislatures in this representative republic as conceived in the Constitution, not via judicial fiat. As Roberts states in his dissent: "The Court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people." Claiming that this decision curtails government power is risible. On the contrary, this decision is yet another step away from liberty, as it concentrates power in a few hands (SCOTUS), stealing it from the people, who had previously utilized their right to self-determination via democratic means and within the constraints of the Constitution.

Justice Alito opens his dissent by stating that "The Constitution leaves [the question of defining marriage] to be decided by the people of each State." By ruling in this manner, it is clear that SCOTUS took power unto itself that was not rightfully the Court's to take. "In our system of government, ultimate sovereignty rests with the people, and the people have the right to control their own destiny," Alito said. Well, at least we used to have that right.

"Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The [majority] opinion...robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves." (from Scalia's dissent)

This nation was founded on the principle of the government deriving its powers from the "consent of the governed" (see Declaration of Independence, 1776). We went to war with Great Britain over the idea of "taxation without representation." Now we have, as Scalia put it, "social transformation without representation," and it is a despicable turn of events that no American should be celebrating.

3. Now that SCOTUS has settled this once and for all, we can all just get along. No, this will, without question, serve to be a pyrrhic victory. As Roberts notes: "However heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause." To wit, SCOTUS has proclaimed, "Because I said so!" and closed all debate, insulting and alienating the majority of the citizens plus 34 of the states, for no other reason than "they felt it best" -- with no actual Constitutional authority to do so. When the "rainbow high" wears off, things are going to be more contentious than ever. We have learned from past experience that if you cross the militant homosexual agenda, they will hurt you.

4. The SCOTUS decision won't affect churches. No, there are factions who will now see this as an opportunity to cause problems for churches and religious people; you can bet they will continue to push their agenda, not satisfied with what they have thus far obtained. "In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples." (from Thomas' dissent) Meanwhile, Alito warns, "[This] decision will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy." Ya think?

There will definitely be ramifications to this heavy-handed approach by SCOTUS. Roberts says, "Today’s decision...creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution. Amdt. 1." Even amici supporters of the decision warn that it will "have unavoidable and wide-ranging implications for religious liberty.”

Alito sees a bleak future for anyone on the losing side of this decision: "I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools." Sadly, his vision of the future has already been proven to be true, just ask one of the cultural martyrs such as Brendan Eich, who have paid dearly for their beliefs.

This poorly-reasoned, emotion-based exercise of federal overreach by five unnaccountable, unelected black-robe wearers will only serve to create more major infringements on religious liberty. More acrimony is ahead. More lawsuits are coming. More persecution of conscience will abound. This is a mess, and it needn't have been handled this way -- in fact, the Constitution says it shouldn't have been.

5. The ends justify the means. No, they don't. It amazes me that some people are so happy to cede inappropriate powers to each of the three branches of government, as long as they use that power to please them. They are too shortsighted to consider what will happen when parties not likeminded later fill those roles and wield that same inappropriate power. It's all fun and games until the anti-you takes the reins back. Why not just properly restrict the power to begin with?

The central government usurping power from the states and the people violates the spirit and letter of Constitutional law, which, of necessity, endangers other liberties, including religious freedom. Thomas notes, "Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty."

So, even if I were of a mind to approve of same-sex "marriage" (which I am not, for the principled religious reasons spelled out here), I would wholly object to the philosophical gymnastics and Constitutional chicanery used to arrive at this decision. If I were, for example, a 19th century Latter-day Saint who supported plural marriage, and the SCOTUS made polygamy legal in all 50 states using similarly awful jurisprudence that resulted in an assault on the Constitution and a usurpation of state authority, I would be just as flabbergasted and defiant.

Those who celebrate this decision are cheering their own eventual demise. The "gay marriage" movement has been used as a pawn in concentrating government power and setting terribly dangerous precedents regarding the manner in which SCOTUS power may be wielded. This should trouble everybody, including those benefitting from the decision. Surely supporters of the decision can see that the same tactics used to obtain a result that they *dislike* would have been just as unacceptable. What the High Court did was, as Alito stated, "far beyond the outer reaches of this Court’s authority."

But who cares, as long as you got what you wanted, right? No need to look past the end of your own male enhancement to what may lay ahead now that this Pandora's Box has been opened. Alito puts it clearly: "Today’s decision will also have a fundamental effect on this Court and its ability to uphold the rule of law. If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate. Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry." Indeed, we should all be very worried.

If you love our country, if you love liberty, and if you love the Constitution, this decision is chilling. As I have said elsewhere regarding tortured reasoning, the Constitution will say whatever you want it to say, if you waterboard it enough.

So, in short: this decision was, plain and simple, a power grab by the centralized government. The supporters of this decision have it backwards, as usual, claiming it expanded freedom. But then, that is Satan's expertise -- flipping things 180-degrees from truth. (Yes, I mentioned Satan...no discussion of politics would be complete without a reference to ol' Lucifer, now would it?)


Okay, that's a brief summary of my legal/political objections. Now onto the issues I have with the way this is being handled culturally.

First, suggesting this ruling was about "love" is specious. If government licensing of marriage was about love, then not even heterosexual couples, prior to the 20th century (when marriage license schemes first came into effect) were allowed to love each other. And what of all those heterosexual couples who choose to cohabitate? Are they not actually allowed to love each other until they have obtained permission from the state? Puh-leeze. Utter nonsense.

Meanwhile, shutting down any opposing views by claiming that you're a hater if you disagree is a tool of tyranny. I don't have to agree with you to love you. And sometimes disagreeing with someone is, in fact, the best way to show love.

Speaking of love, the people using the vapid ‪#‎lovewins‬ hashtag are either full of malice or wildly lack self-awareness. That offensive, disingenuous tag implies there can be no principled objection to the SCOTUS ruling; it says that if you disagree, you are a hater and do not value love. It is as bigoted and closed-minded as can be. And it insultingly deflects from the real point of this issue, as if we're all stupid. I suggest a more accurate hashtag: ‪#‎constitutionloses‬.

If the decision's supporters really believed in "live and let live," and liberty, and government non-interference, they would reject this ruling and quit acting so self-righteous. Instead, they are already on the attack, using their silly arguments about "love" to try to shame all principled opposition into a corner labeled "hater." Yeah, that's super-tolerant of other peoples' beliefs...


As for my religious objections to the decision, it is all neatly summed up by this content from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's worth reading the whole thing -- it will give you a clear understanding of where so many of us are coming from, and how we intend to deal with this situation. Suffice it to say, I stand with the Brethren.


As for the moral aspect of this newly created "right," it is a simple truth that homosexual behavior is a serious sin. Despite what SCOTUS has said, marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman. Anything else is just an improper relationship masquerading as acceptable. I have had friends who were homosexual, and I thought they were very nice people and I got along with them very well. That doesn't mean I believed their behavior was correct, but I appreciate that we are all sons and daughters of God and we all have our failings and weaknesses. I love everybody. But I don't condone all behavior -- I would be a monster if I did. There are many laws that are not morally sound - such as the fact that abortion-on-demand is legal, and adultery is legal.  But as Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "Man's laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral." 

We should always -- always -- treat others with kindness and compassion, but we must also never, ever stop standing for truth and right.

Thankfully, I know that everything will work out right in the end. It's just going to be a very challenging ride until we get there.

*****

(C) 2015 Michael D. Britton 
Feel free to use any of my arguments above as you engage with your friends. Just please provide attribution and links back to here if you quote me. Much appreciated!




Tuesday, May 12, 2015

3 Reasons Why You Should Talk About Your Dreams



I just read an article at LinkedIn, and then perused the comments, where a self-described "Entrepreneur/Professional Speaker/People Mover/Branding/Marketing/Transformation Expert" (he must have a very large business card) provided a short list of steps to achieving major career goals. While some of his ideas seemed sound, I found myself vehemently disagreeing with his #2 item:

"Tell no one your dreams and desires - they will only pull you back."

What? Are you kidding me? That is TERRIBLE advice. Not only does it represent a horribly cynical view of humanity, but it's a great way to shoot yourself in the foot before you even begin the race. (HINT: If you're really surrounded by the kind of people who will tear down your dreams, telling them about your dreams is NOT the problem.)

Here are three important reasons why you should share your dreams as often as possible:

  1. Like speaking the name of Voldemort (or is that Beetlejuice?), every time you verbalize your dreams, they become more real. That is, speaking it aloud - to another human being - causes the dream to begin to coalesce, to gain a more concrete form, to develop a life of its own and get traction. If you don't believe in your dream and in yourself enough to share it with others, you probably won't succeed. Also, speaking of the dream keeps it at the front of your thoughts, not simmering somewhere on a forgotten backburner. Thoughts lead to words, words lead to actions. Don't short circuit that process by staying silent about the things that matter to you most -- things that should occupy a rightful place in your daily conversations.
  2. Telling someone else (or lots of someone elses) about what you plan to do adds an important component of accountability to your dream. You may not actually say, "Now, I expect you to hold me to that!" - but when you tell people about what you are working toward, it is at least implied. When you come into contact again, you may hear, "How's that dream coming along?" or some other form of benevolent "checking up" on you - a follow up that is offered out of sincere interest, because people like to see their friends succeed - it's inspiring. And their interest can be a catalyst to keep you doing a little something every day toward your goals - a reminder of the track you should be on.
  3. The more people you tell, the more likely you are to find someone who can actually HELP. It's a subtle form of networking. You may be able to do it alone, but if you can get assistance, all the better. Sharing your dream with others is a great way to build support - whether it be practical support or just moral support. 

So, if I may be so bold: don't listen to that blah-blah-blah-transformation expert dude. Dream your dream and shout it from the freaking rooftops. Talk about it to every single person you meet. Talk about it every day, ad nauseum. Sell your idea to those who can hop on board and add value to your plan, or simply point out ways you can improve on your strategy. Get others to believe in you and your dream and you'll go much farther than you can on your own steam alone.

But don't fall into the trap of being just a dreamer and a big talker. Remember, that critical process is think-speak-do. Figure out what you want. Discuss it openly with others regularly. And take action each day - even if it's just a little step - toward that goal...and your dreams can come true.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cut It Out...NOW.


Enough is enough.

The federal government is expected to take in a record $3 trillion in taxes (approx.) this year from hardworking Americans – but many say it’s just not enough, and we need to raise taxes even higher. But revenue is not the problem…spending is. Done right, a lean, constitutionally-bound federal government could easily perform its intended limited functions on far, far less than the amount that it currently takes from citizens. Spending cuts are what’s in order, not higher taxes.

But how can we cut federal spending, you ask? Well, let me count the ways… here are a few common-sense, constitutionally-based ways to hack away at the behemoth federal budget.

Entitlements

Let’s start with the big elephant in the room: entitlement spending.

There are at least six ways to help reduce entitlement spending:

      1)      Via eligibility codes, require greater effort on the part of the welfare recipients to do their part to improve their circumstances (oh, I know, that’s so MEAN, huh? – actually, it is far more humane than endlessly enslaving them to welfare). Include drug testing as part of those requirements – we should not be subsidizing illegal drug use, a habit that keeps people difficult to employ.
      2)      Reduce welfare fraud and waste (which benefits the legitimate recipients).
      3)      Improve the economy by reducing taxes and regulations on businesses. Remember, most businesses are small businesses, not evil corporations that use regulations they’ve lobbied for to squeeze out smaller competition. This will allow the small businesses to afford to hire more people, helping the poor escape the welfare cycle.
      4)      Eliminate the federal minimum wage, which disproportionately hurts entry-level workers by forcibly pricing them out of the market. Minimum wage laws are the most anti-poor, anti-teenager, and anti-minority laws on the books today, and do nothing but damage the economy for everybody.
      5)      Provide tax incentives (tax breaks for employers) for approved on-the-job training/mentoring programs that lead to full-time employment.
      6)      Eliminate federal welfare programs and move it all to the state level, which will reduce a ton of bureaucratic costs and allow for greater diversity in programs, ideas, and innovation. The closer to “home” you can bring the social safety net, the better it is for everybody (the principle of subsidiarity).

Another big piece of the entitlement puzzle is Social Security. We need to look at privatizing SS. I still haven’t heard any good arguments against that approach, other than “But…but…big government should run everything!”

Military

The military is another large component of the budget, and it could stand to be trimmed and made more efficient.

We could start by reducing our permanent footprint in a number of foreign countries (allies) that are currently “cold spots” militarily. We don’t need to be everywhere all the time; let those countries pay for their own defense. We could also try getting a handle on contract spending that doesn’t make sense. We’ve all heard stories about $400 toilet seats and $800 hammers…I don’t know the validity of those tales, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone somewhere was getting rich off the taxpayer dime – heck, that kind of corruption is the one thing the government is actually GOOD at. The more we can reduce the budget while not materially affecting our actual defense capabilities, the better.

Foreign Aid

Another area to cut is the billions of dollars we give out in “aid” to foreign nations each year – in particular, nations that hate us. Such action is deplorable, and not in our national interest. It sickens me to think that money I personally earned at my job is literally being sent to people who want to kill me and my family and want to destroy my beloved nation – and enabling them to do so. It is indefensible and treasonous (inasmuch as that word may apply in a not-necessarily-legal sense).

Bureaucracy

Then there are a handful of offices, agencies and departments that have no business existing. I don’t know how many people these units employ, how much they pay in salaries, benefits, office space, utilities, capital expenses, office supplies, travel, auto fleets, and other bureaucratic overheads, but I can bet it’s more than just a little.

Here’s a quick starter list of federal cuts we can make, starting today:

      ·         Eliminate the Office of National AIDS Policy
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Science and Technology Policy
      ·         Drastically cut the Office of the First Lady
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
      ·         Eliminate the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
      ·         Eliminate the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
      ·         Eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency
      ·         Eliminate the National Center for Education Statistics
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools
      ·         Eliminate the Energy Information Administration
      ·         Eliminate the Administration on Aging
      ·         Eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
      ·         Eliminate the National Center for Health Statistics
      ·         Eliminate the Homeland Security's World Trade Center Captive Insurance Company
      ·         Eliminate the Homeland Security's Long Range Broad Agency Announcement Office
      ·         Eliminate the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT)
      ·         Eliminate the Science and Technology Directorate
      ·         Eliminate the Environmental Measurements Laboratory
      ·         Eliminate the Federal Housing Finance Agency
      ·         Eliminate the HUD's Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities
      ·         Eliminate the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae)
      ·         Eliminate the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Insular Affairs
      ·         Eliminate the DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services
      ·         Eliminate the DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division
      ·         Eliminate the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
      ·         Eliminate the Bureau of Justice Statistics
      ·         Eliminate the Community Capacity Development Office
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (they may be O SO SMART! – but they are not Constitutionally mandated)
      ·         Eliminate the Office on Violence Against Women
      ·         Eliminate the Professional Responsibility Advisory Office
      ·         Eliminate the United States Trustee Program
      ·         Eliminate the Bureau of International Labor Affairs
      ·         Eliminate the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division
      ·         Eliminate the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board
      ·         Eliminate the Department of Labor's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
      ·         Eliminate the Office of Labor-Management Standards
      ·         Eliminate the Ombudsman for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
      ·         Eliminate the Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
      ·         Eliminate the Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
      ·         Eliminate the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
      ·         Drastically reduce the size of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
      ·         Eliminate the Research and Innovative Technology Administration
      ·         Eliminate the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
      ·         Eliminate the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
      ·         Eliminate the Bureau of the Public Debt (since they’re doing such a bang up job)
      ·         Eliminate the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund
      ·         Eliminate the Federal Consulting Group
      ·         Roll the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network into the FBI and reduce its size
      ·         Eliminate the Financial Management Service
      ·         Roll the National Cemetery Administration into the Pentagon and reduce its size
      ·         Eliminate the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
      ·         Eliminate the African Development Foundation
      ·         Eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service
      ·         Eliminate the Export-Import Bank of the United States
      ·         Eliminate the Farm Credit Administration
      ·         Eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services
      ·         Eliminate the Inter-American Foundation
      ·         Eliminate the International Broadcasting Bureau
      ·         Eliminate the National Council on Disability
      ·         Eliminate the Merit Systems Protection Board
      ·         Eliminate the Overseas Private Investment Corporation
      ·         Eliminate the Panama Canal Commission

What, you didn't even realize those federal government agencies existed? Funny, neither did the Founders/Framers. 

Look, this list is just for starters. Almost all of the above can and should be handled at the state level or below; the rest are completely unnecessary. NONE of them are constitutionally required; most violate the 10th Amendment by being administered at the federal level. They are not legitimate functions of the federal government.

If your family was in as much debt as the feds (proportionally speaking), would you be spending frivolously on non-essentials, or would you take a serious look at your budget and man up?

While we’re speaking of feckless and unconstitutional agencies to eliminate, we also need to dissolve the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency. These have no business existing, and the Department of Education in particular has been a total failure.

Elitism

Eliminate pensions for elected officials (senators, representatives, the president, vice president, etc.). Nothing gives these overpaid “public servants” the right to keep collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for the rest of their lives after they leave office. Put a reasonable cap on presidential vacation expenses – stop feeding the elitist leadership.

Where should revenues be?

We do not need as much taxation as we have now. We need to repeal the 16th Amendment (and 17th, while we’re at it!). Eliminate federal income tax, and switch to a flat 10% consumption tax. Disband the IRS (huge cost savings). Also, as long as we’re cleaning house, let’s audit the Federal Reserve (who could possibly be against that, and why?).

Rationale

This list is all just for starters. With these suggestions, we can drastically cut the federal budget. I make these suggestions not because I’m some crazy anarchist who wants the world to fall apart – but because I care about holding it together. My suggestions come because I love my country, honor the Constitution, and respect myself and my fellow-citizen.

If we don’t take drastic action to rein in this over-bloated and out-of-control federal nightmare ASAP, it will be too late for us and our children. There will NEVER be enough tax money to sustain this current system. Making these cuts is the only way to survive, is the morally right thing to do, and aligns with the intent of those who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to bring this country into existence.

I welcome civil and well-reasoned debate regarding why we should or should not implement any or all of these measures immediately.


It will just keep getting worse...only drastic cuts can save us.