About Me

My photo
Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee, a member of the Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Ethics Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Constitution shines brightly

Nashville Tennessean, September 14, 2011
By Susan Lynn
I believe the United States Constitution is indeed far mightier than any individual, any politician or any political party. But things are not looking good.

For instance, when the president of the United States refers to the Constitution as a “rigid idea” in a speech before a televised joint session of the U.S. Congress, a very poor example is set. When the mayor of America’s largest city states on live TV that the words “separation of church and state’’ are found in the U.S. Constitution, one surmises that he has probably never read the entire document.

When the Congress cedes law-making authority to unelected boards and commissions in the administrative branch they reveal a profound lack of understanding for their constitutional duties and authority.

When lawmakers feel entitled to take over 1/6 of the U.S. free market economy by means of a mammoth law, authority for which is nowhere found in the Constitution and whose corner stone is a mandate that imposes force and penalty on ordinary citizens who have committed no crime or wrong, the superciliousness is profound.

And when a federal court rejects a challenge to this law by the citizens of a state by concluding that “a state has no interest in the rights of its individual citizens sufficient to justify such an invasion of federal sovereignty’’ and this conclusion is reached even though that same court calls the law in question a “harsh regime’’ on taxpayers, one cannot help but recall the tyrannical list of grievances enumerated by our forefathers against King George of England.

All government is simply a voluntary association of individuals who unite for a purpose. The stated purpose of the United States government is to “secure’’ the enjoyment of our Absolute Rights, simply stated as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’’ and to protect this compact of “Free and Independent States’’ by use of “full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, [and] contract Alliances.’’

The Constitution grants power to the elected representatives to make decisions for the few items expressly enumerated but it does not allow the majority arbitrary power to take away the liberties to which the people are entitled; they are withdrawn from the province of ordinary lawmaking.

As Charles Nordoff wrote in Politics for Young Americans “Laws should be few in number and simple in structure; they should rigidly avoid granting special privileges or immunities to individuals, but should be general in their application; and they ought never to interfere with the liberty of men to move about peaceably from place to place; to discuss freely public affairs and questions; to engage in whatever honest occupation pleases them; to produce whatever seems to them most suitable; and to exchange what they have produced where they please, and for what they most desire.’’

The United States Constitution is a bright shining example of freedom to the rest of the world, and it is strong enough to withstand hubris, ignorance and abdication of duty because the people, once awakened, will always respond to their duty which lies at the ballot box.

Susan Lynn served in the Tennessee General Assembly from 2002-2008. She was chairman of the Government Operations Committee in the House.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

President's Jobs Speech

President's speech was unbearably disappointing - we are going to be suffering under this recession for a very long time with no end in sight.

This is not a jobs act but a tax act. He says it is paid for but he told us he doesn't have a plan to pay for it.

His make work projects are meant to supply jobs for union workers and government employees - is that really a problem?  The problem is not that Americans can't get from their homes to work because there is no road to get there but that there is no job to go to.

Because people respond to incentives, his $4000 tax credit to hire a worker who has been unemployed for six months will, if employers decide that they can hire someone, ensure that anyone newly unemployed can expect to be unemployed for at least six months - they are off the job market.

His credit for raises will ensure that any manager in a position to dole out raises will give himself a raise but will he actually be able to afford to give one to others?

Employers are left to consider, can I really afford to hire someone because if I do and I get the $4000 tax credit and then because the economy is so unstable and I have to lay-off an employee I'm stuck with another person on my unemployment rolls for years, much more than the $4000 credit.

Worst of all, he shows that he is completely unwilling to do anything about the policies that are foiling our economy. For business, the uncertainty lies in the anticipated expense of Health Care Reform, the policies that are raising our energy prices, raising commodity prices, nonsensical regulations and expensive business taxes including unemployment.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


on the Big Joe Show! 

Please listen today at 9am to 880am THE BIG MOUTH.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

TRA: My Op Ed in Today's Tennessean

Regulator could be phased out

Tennesseans need an independent utility oversight entity

No one knows better than I that we have a lot of departments, boards and commissions in Tennessee; more than 270 — that’s a lot of deck chairs on the ship.

The legislature’s Government Operations Committee reviews every one of these agencies, including the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA). Each year, Gov Ops decides to eliminate a few of these agencies because their duties prove no longer necessary, while other lawmakers legislatively act to create more.

To reduce size and cost of government, the Haslam administration is kicking around the idea of doing away with the TRA; perhaps dispersing its duties among other areas of government. The TRA is the agency that regulates monopolistic utilities in Tennessee, and despite some recent reform, regulating monopolies like gas, water, sewer, electric and telephone utilities is still absolutely necessary.

TRA is housed in the legislative branch to ensure independence. It decides economic matters, not environmental. It is funded by fees and taxes from the utilities it regulates. Ideas to create efficiency deserve consideration, because we do need to streamline and reduce the size of government. But simply doing away with TRA by dispersing duties among other agencies probably won’t reduce the size of government, just the overall number of agencies.
Elimination probably won’t produce savings, either, because no matter where TRA’s duties are eventually housed, the duties would still need to be performed.

There also is the question of dispersing staff. Utility economics and law are complex and specialized. Dispersal could produce staff that generalize rather than specialize.

Every state has a utility regulator, and TRA functions as a central place for consumers to go with their utility concerns — perhaps to the chagrin of the utilities but definitely to the empowerment of consumers. Monopolies receive the most restrictive form of government intervention, and housing these entities in a common area serves to isolate them from other businesses that do not need such a high degree of regulation.

TRA’s apparent embrace of green concepts in utility economics has been frustrating, but that is an ideological rather than structural problem. Structurally speaking, I’ve often wondered why the Utility Management Review Board and Water & Wastewater Financing Board are not housed under TRA rather than the comptroller.

We could do many things to streamline and reduce the size and cost of state government, as well as the number of regulations. Recession is a good time to re-examine all agencies and unpack the laws and rules that govern them, reconsidering each from the ground up, reviewing their constitutional purpose, the law, and regulations according to a specified series of very important considerations.

Some states have employed a decision matrix to help discover areas for reform; moving their state from disorder to order, reducing entry barriers for business, and helping citizens more easily find services.

Practically everyone is for reducing the size and cost of government, but removing the deck chairs just to force people to find a seat somewhere else doesn’t streamline or reduce the size of government — just the overall number of deck chairs.

Former state Rep. Susan Lynn served on the state legislature’s Government Operations Committee from 2002 to 2010, eventually rising to the position of chairman.


Gossip and Slander Violate Constitutional Rights

We recently read in the Tennessean about objections to a new Tennessee law on cyberbullying - where one can be charged with a crime for posting a photo on-line that makes another feel threatened.  A photo that makes you feel threatened?  What about actual harm?

A genuine problem was revealed in a recent episode of 20/20 and followed up by our own News 2.  They report on anonymous posts on blogs and of media that will say just about anything without fact checking.  Now this is something that causes actual harm - the internet is forever and there is no way to ensure a verbal retraction on radio will reach the same listeners who first heard the defamatory statement.  It is very difficult to remedy such posts and broadcasts.  We should address this problem as consumers by demanding that such behavior be modified and by making tort law more clear for victims of extreme cases.

More than just blogs and radio shows that fly fast and loose with vile gossip, libel and slander - why does anyone hold any regard for peers and co-workers who pretend to be “in the know” but in reality, they are causing harm and destruction to another person’s reputation. “They say…”, “I’ve heard…”, “some say…” such are the destructive tools in the toolbox of the gossip and slanderer.

I recall my mother, a gracious woman of high morals and ethics, warning me and my siblings “do not listen to gossip,” “do not repeat gossip,” and “do not reveal anything about someone that could embarrass him or her – even if it is true.”

My father, a sharp business man, cautioned me time and again, "Susan, only believe 10% of what you hear people say."  "10%?  Daddy?!" I replied the first time I ever really thought about what he was saying.  With furrowed eye brows and great insistence in his voice he replied, "Yes, people will say absolutely anything to advantage their position which usually has the effect of hurting someone else...most likely YOU.  You have got to have facts, and numbers and quality data."

The English scholar William Blackstone wrote that each man is entitled by natural right to the “Security of his good name and reputation from the art of detraction and slander.”  What has happened to society? Were so many really never taught these lessons on ethics and legalities?

The object of the slander is not the person of whom we should think ill - judging the witless victim as if he or she is guilty as charged.  But it is the gossiper, the slander that we should reject and send packing for their bad, if not downright evil and possibly illegal behavior.

Such deeds are all too common today.  I know a manager at a local store. Behind his back an assistant manager has set out to discredit and undermine him through exaggerations, mis-characterizations and outright lies.  Little does this assistant manager realize that should she succeed in causing the manager to lose his job he certainly has a case against her in tort law.  That is why employers should not put up with such behavior – it is their deep pockets that may pay for the actions of the slanderer.

I know an attractive, hard working young woman with a delightful personality; always willing to do what is needed at work.  A co-worker has it in for her. She sows bad seeds with other workers and managers in order to defame and detract from this young woman.  This activity is distressing.  My young friend worries about what will be made-up next behind her back, and about the effect that it may have on her career.  Little does her co-worker realize that she is robbing my friend of her constitutional right to live in peace and of much more.

Take the world of politics – I know an elected official whose opponent sowed bad seeds with a group of voters saying that she and her husband were in bankruptcy and losing their home – it was a complete lie. The opponent also spread falsities about her positions and lied about her votes.  Then he had his employee file a false report on the candidate which led to vicious defamation in the media by outlets where he routinely purchased ads.  This same official suffered for years from attacks and gossip by detractors via email, blogs and spoken word.  They started rumors of affairs, tried to paint her as being difficult to work with, rumors of tax delinquencies, and they would often apply pressure to groups in hope of forcing them to cancel this official’s invitation to speak.  All of this was extremely distressing, difficult to battle and defending herself exhausting but more than that it is a violation of this official’s constitutional rights.

I have a book on ethics from the 1890’s. The chapter on justice reads as follows: “People can do injustice by their thoughts.  When we hear complaints or accusations against any person, and readily believe them, without knowing what the accused might say in self-defense, we are generally unjust.  We must therefore be careful, and not judge hastily; and we must not, even in our minds condemn the absent unheard person.  We should not like to be judged and condemned thus; and it is unjust for us to form opinions in this way about others.”

Here is a rule of thumb:
  • Those who gossip and slander are wrong doers.  
  • Those who listen to gossip and slander are also doing wrong.
  • Those who repeat gossip and slander are wrong doers.
  • Those who judge the victim of gossip and slander without a hearing are doing wrong.
  • And those who refuse to reveal the identity of the slanderer to the victim but feel justified with having merely alerted the victim to the slander are also doing wrong.  The victim deserves justice - and the gossiper deserves to be confronted.  Such activity leaves the victim to worry about the source of the gossip, how to measure the damage, and the number of people that are privy to the lie.
I urge all – be better than this.  Be better Christians than this.  Have more regard for the rights of others than this.  Refuse to listen. Refuse to repeat what you hear. Reject the gossiper, and reject the slanderer; those who artfully seek to paint some poor soul badly in your eyes; robbing the victim of the right to a hearing and of their reputation.

From what I've seen, Dad was absolutely right, people will say anything.  And as my mother taught us, rejecting gossip is the best way to stop it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Public Notice: Under Threat

This year several bills have the State Legislature considering doing away with the publication of public notices in local newspapers in order to save money.

Before you conclude that this is a good idea, consider a few facts.

The state Constitution and state law require publication of public notices. This is due to an important principle of civil societies: if the government is going to take some action to limit or change our rights, or take away our property, it must go out and seek to provide public notice to the citizens of the potential action. It is not mandatory that you read it but a good faith effort must be made by the state to provide the information.

Publication has always meant that the notice must be outside of Government's own halls; in newspapers of general circulation where the community can read them. But to get around this provision, the legislature wants the government to publish legal notices on the state's website and charge for the posting.

While this may sound like an efficient way to gain a new stream of revenue; this sort of publication does not meet the standard of the past; that publication is outside of government's own halls.

In recent weeks we’ve seen governments around the world “switch off” the Internet denying access to its citizens. An Internet switch is currently being considered in Washington. In such a case, what would happen to the notice that the government is constitutionally required to provide?

Meanwhile, over 669,800 out of 2.2 million Tennessee households are still without Internet access (1). This means that those citizens’ chances of ever seeing a public notice will be equal to zero.

The elderly are the most vulnerable because only 28% of those 65 and older use the internet.(2) While most of our legislators have a college degree, and 80% of those with a college degree have the internet,(3) legislators must remember, that equates to only 19.6% of Tennesseans.(4) Only 35% of those without a high school diploma use the internet. And a full 40% of those with a high school diploma still have no internet in their home.

But even of those adults that have the internet – fully 50% say they never seek online news. Will they ever really look at a government web site for legal notices?

The state budget is $29 billion dollars.

It costs a just tenths of a cent per person to print a statewide legal notice informing Tennesseans of a state Constitutional Amendment - about $17,000.

It costs just a few hundred dollars for your election commission to publish the ballot for upcoming elections. In danger too is publication of utility rate increases, annexations, zoning changes and city or county meeting notices.

Consider that the expense for most notices is not born by the government but by individuals who are seeking a court ordered legal claim to your property, to put you under lien, or to take some legal action that will affect your family. Public notice ensures that there is an attempt to reach out and notify you of some action that may affect your rights.

Most newspapers of general circulation post the notices on their Websites but it is the printing; creation of a permanent record, and the circulation of the notice in the community where all can see it and decide upon its fate that serves to secure our Republic. Truly, publication is an essential price of democracy.

Susan Lynn was state representative in the 57th House district from 2002-2010.  She is leading EPPC – Education, Public Policy Consulting, a 501 (c)3.  For more information visit www.publicnoticetn.com.

1. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s1156.pdf
2. http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/10statab/infocomm.pdf
3. http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/10statab/infocomm.pdf 
4. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/47000.html

Monday, February 28, 2011

Antitrust, Unions & the Wall Street Journal

I have been saying for years now that collective bargaining violates antitrust law. My theory was greeted quietly yet thoughtfully at first in 2007 at ALEC but I've stood by it.

On Friday, I created a pop culture cartoon on the anti-collective bargaining bill to explain my theory.

Now, finally, in today's Wall Street Journal a Professor of Economics at Harvard University is stating the very same thing; that collective bargaining is a violation of Antitrust.

"For a teachers union, collective bargaining means that suppliers of teacher services to all public school systems in a state—or even across states—can collude with regard to acceptable wages, benefits and working conditions. An analogy for business would be for all providers of airline transportation to assemble to fix ticket prices, capacity and so on. From this perspective, collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty."

I hope the logic of this thinking will quickly spread - it is about time...

Susan Lynn

NOTE: When the law is unjust we see ill effects. That is why laws get changed. Special treatment; excluding the activities of particular special interest groups from the law does not make it just. Why did they need to be excluded in the first place? What have the effects been? Others comment "what about all the good for which unions have worked?" If the law is changed unions can and always will still exist. In fact, many associations (guilds, industry groups, special interest groups, whatever you want to call them) successfully work for the passage of very good laws (and some bad ones) all the time and they don't need collective bargaining to do so.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today's Tennessean Guest Editorial

Please see my guest editorial in today's Tennessean. They named it:

Special interests pull strings on government diet rules

Please visit my Facebook Notes section to see two articles that provide further information on this subject:

1. Diet mentioned in my Tennessean guest editorial.
2. The Diet.
I also wrote a 2007 blog post on the subject located here. 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule on nutrition standards for school lunches funded by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The bill’s been criticized for expanding schools’ responsibility for outcomes while providing only 6 cents extra per child per meal to accomplish goals.

I have a personal interest in good nutrition for children. At age 3, my son was diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

We were told there was no cure but that when he was old enough (6) he could be treated with Ritalin. Giving Ritalin to a 6-year-old was unacceptable to me. My research led me to the Feingold Diet; primarily, avoidance of synthetic food additives.

After just three days of strict adherence to the diet, I had a normal little boy. He never needed Ritalin. He excelled in school, graduating with honors. Today, he serves in the Tennessee Air Guard — something, had we used Ritalin, he could not do.

After achieving success in their alternative school, an entire school district in Wisconsin is using a similar diet. And Chefs as Parents, a Washington-based nonprofit organization dedicated to serving freshly prepared, additive-free whole foods in schools, is successfully going well beyond federal minimum standards.
Although thousands of families have found help, similar dietary solutions are neither recommended by the government nor part of the USDA’s new rules.

As the former chairman of the House Government Operations Committee — the committee in the Tennessee Legislature that approves rules — I can tell you that rules are developed by consensus; that means there is great influence from special interests.

Sometimes that is good, sometimes bad; how should we view these rules?

No basis for federal authority

Constitutionally, the feds typically cite the General Welfare Clause as authority to produce such rules, but the clause really only applies to the general welfare of the nation within the confines of the federal government’s 30 enumerated powers — there is no authority over school lunches.

As a states’-rights issue, states alone have police powers over behavior; but even then, only over behavior that infringes on the constitutional rights of others. But let’s be real: Federal money comes with strings. School-lunch funding is no exception.

What of objectivity? Do we trust that the USDA’s directive is truly objective — free of Washington special-interest influence?

Parents, school districts and organizations are taking action — avoiding FDA-approved synthetic food additives, which were initially approved with the good intention of extending the shelf-life of the food supply.
But the ancillary effect is that whole, fresh, vital foods have been supplanted by an overwhelming array of highly processed, chemical-laden, nutrient-poor foods, high in refined sugars and carbohydrates. They’re cheaper, quicker and easier to serve, and abundant but unfortunately, they produce obesity, poor health and problem behavior.

Clearly, America is suffering from a health/nutrition problem. But solutions to most social problems are not typically found in government rule-making sessions manipulated by special interests but rather in the hearts, minds and homes of the American people. It’s called a movement — try it on.

Susan Lynn is a former Tennessee state representative. She invites readers to view her Facebook notes for more information on the diet mentioned in this guest editorial.