Archive for the ‘government powers’ Category

Real World Graduation: Question 21

RealWorldGraduation_Question_21   <– PDF

The Mayor and City Council of a certain city desired to raise the amount of tax revenue received by the city. They made a secret arrangement with a mall developer as follows:

  1. The city would designate a certain district of the city, consisting of 150 homes and a few small businesses as suitable for development. This district was selected because most of the homes are more than 30 years old, and it has excellent access to major freeways.
  2. With the area so designated, the city would send notices to each homeowner and business owner that they had 90 days to move out of their homes, and the land turned over to the developer.
  3. In order to save taxpayers money, the city would offer 85% of the current appraised values of the homes and businesses as compensation. On average, the homes in the affected district are appraised at $130,000.
  4. The total amount paid to the homeowners by the city as compensation would be repaid by the developer. He would be allowed to collect an additional 2% surcharge sales tax on everything sold by stores in the mall. That way, the city would be repaid the amount given to the original homeowners, and also collect all the usual sales taxes.
  5. The Mayor, City Council, and their respective staff members were to do all of the foregoing without any public hearings or notices until the formal designation letters were mailed to each affected resident.

The Constitution of the state in which this was to occur contains a “takings” clause, in which people are to be compensated for any seizure of property devoted to public use (i.e., the same as the U. S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment). If this plan were enacted, which of the activities contained in the secret plan would violate both Constitutions?

a) A government entity entering into a secret financial agreement with a private entity.

b) Seizing property from a group of private owners and giving it to another private owner for the benefit of the new private owner (as well as the city).

c) Arbitrary designation of a certain district for unusual treatment simply because of the age of the homes and their location.

d) Forcing each homeowner to take a $19,500 loss on their property, since they will be paid only $110,500 for homes that were appraised on average for $130,000.

e) All of the above.

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Posted in Bill of Rights, critical thinking, fifth amendment, government powers, living constitution, Real World Graduation, U. S. Constitution | No Comments »

Real World Graduation: Question 20

RealWorldGraduation_Question_20   <— PDF

Why is the agency that collects federal income taxes called the “Internal Revenue Service” (IRS)?

a) It is responsible for answering taxpayer questions.

b) It is responsible for printing all the forms and making them available online.

c) It generates the revenue necessary to run the government.

d) It advises Congress on the advantages and disadvantages of various tax policies.

e) A combination of a), b), and d).

(The answer is shown on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation: Question 19

RealWorldGraduation_Question_19   <– PDF

Suppose a prominent black civil rights leader had made public speeches like these in 1993:

a.  “Only after the white virus destroying the quality of life of black people has been eliminated can we hope to promote cooperation between the remaining races, which will then be founded on a common understanding.”

b.  “Honkie parasites on one hand ripped off the black people without a second thought, and on the other hand instigated people of color to violence. The misfortunes of black people have become a continuing objective for these white trash crackers, and it was unfortunately made possible because of the large number of desperate unemployed black people that mistakenly supported the international trade treaties, which further benefitted the rich honkies.”

What is the proper amount of government regulation or actions that should be adopted to address speech of this sort?

a) Public speeches of this sort should first be subject to review by qualified people to determine if they are acceptable for public consumption. If a proposed speech is considered acceptable, then the speech could be made.  However, neither of these two fragments is acceptable, and both should be prohibited.

b) These fragments are obviously racist, and should be prohibited by appropriate legislation.

c) These fragments indicate both racism and mental illness, and the person who made these statements should be examined to determine his mental health. If he is found to be of sound mind, he should be prosecuted for racism or hate speech.

d) The person making these statements should be prosecuted for hate speech unless he can prove he is mentally ill and therefore not responsible for what he says.

e) Because of the First Amendment, it is difficult to pre-empt speech solely because some find it objectionable. For radical opinions like these, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work, but the government should consider some appropriate remedy, tailored to specific cases.  However, such remedies should be civil (i.e., fines and restrictions) instead of criminal (imprisonment).

(The answer is shown on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation: Question 18

RealWorldGraduation_Question_18  <– PDF

Consider the following fictional scenario. A certain city of 250,000 people was consistently overrun with rats.  It was estimated that there were about 20 times as many rats in the city as there were people.  The rats continued to be a health nuisance, and many children had to be treated in local hospitals due to rat bites and the diseases they carry.  Over the past ten years, the citizens had voted for, and paid, special taxes to be allocated to fighting the rat problem, totaling $150,000,000.  (This works out to about $60 per year for ten years for each city resident.)  The city sanitation department was in charge of suppressing the rats, and sometimes made some progress.  They routinely proclaimed great successes, but over the long run, the reality was that the rat population continued to grow, outpacing the growth of the human population.

A certain wealthy man decided to take some action. He convinced a local radio station to announce a “bounty” on rats, amounting to $2.00 per pound for any rats, dead or alive, payable in cash to any resident of the city who showed up at the city dump with the rats on a certain day.  This was widely advertised over a two-week period; on the chosen day, many city residents arrived at the city dump with about five million dead rats. This is far greater than the total number of rats killed by the city forces in the past ten years.

The average weight of the rats was about 1.5 pounds each; this initiative cost the wealthy man about $15,000,000 all total. The wealthy man paid the bounty in cash as promised.  The total expense was about one-tenth of the total cost of the special taxes paid by the residents over the past ten years.

Then, to embarrass the city, the wealthy man arranged for all the dead rats to be dumped on the sidewalks in front of City Hall late on a Sunday night. When the City Hall workers come to work the next morning, they could not get into the building because of all the dead rats blocking the entrances.  Naturally, the Mayor and City Council members were furious, and called a press conference to denounce the private rat killing effort.  The mayor demanded that the wealthy patron have the rats removed, which was refused.  The city ended up removing the rats and burned them in a neighboring incinerator.  What is likely to happen next?

a) An investigation will be conducted into how the tax money appropriated for the unsuccessful city-run rat suppression initiative was spent to see if there was any waste, fraud, or abuse of the taxpayer’s money.

b) The head of the sanitation department will resign for his failure to get the rat population under control, even though the taxpayers had paid $150,000,000 in taxes for that purpose over the previous ten years.

c) The Mayor will resign in disgrace for letting the rat situation get out of control.

d) The Mayor will remain in office, but will announce that he will not run for re-election.

e) Both a) and b) plus either c) or d).

(The answer is shown on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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