Category: Economic Policy

“A Lottery will make the poor pay their ‘fair share'” by J. Pepper Bryars on

J. Pepper Bryars, who grew up in Mobile and lives in Huntsville, is a conservative columnist for Contact him at

We often hear that the rich should be made to pay their “fair share,” but the top 20% of earners are already paying about 84% of our nation’s income taxes.

Some say that’s a reasonable apportionment from each according to their ability, but here’s a modest proposal for consideration: maybe it’s time for the poor to actually start paying their fair share in taxes.

Outrageous? No more than feeding our unwanted children to the rich. But still, how can we tax the poor without seeming like a monstrous mix of Ebenezer Scrooge and Montgomery Burns?

Our lawmakers in Alabama have finally found the secret answer: a lottery.

You may be skeptical that a lottery could deliver additional revenue on the backs of the poor, but other states have experimented with them for decades and have thoroughly perfected the trick.

Duke University found that the poorest third of households buy more than half of all lottery tickets, and a University of Buffalo survey showed that the lowest fifth on the socioeconomic scale had the “highest rate of lottery gambling (61%).”

Studies in Texas, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Minnesota also show that those with below-average incomes purchase a majority of scratch-off tickets. That’s partly because, as the Duke study found, poorer neighborhoods are saturated with get-rich-quick lottery advertisements for games with tempting names like “Win for Life, ” “Golden Ticket,” and “Holiday Cash.”

And get this: a study in California found that lottery sales actually increase with poverty rates. It’s recession proof!

We get to hook their children, too. A Yale University study revealed that “receipts of scratch-off lottery tickets as gifts during childhood … was associated with risky/problematic gambling.” Teach them when they’re young, as the saying goes.

We never have to worry about the lottery being repealed, either. The poor don’t hire lobbyists to help avoid taxes, and when they vote it’s often for self-serving or incompetent politicians. For instance, those shouting the loudest for a lottery actually represent the poorest parts of Alabama.

If those reams of scientific studies aren’t convincing, take my personal word for it – the poor will pay.

I grew up poor, and not just relatively speaking. We fell below the federal poverty line for a family our size many times over the years, and I can recall how my father once blew the lion’s share of his paycheck gambling at the dog track in Mobile. It hurt. We weren’t the kind of family who could absorb a lost paycheck. Bills simply went unpaid … and our family simply went without.

Later on, a close family member’s husband blew three paychecks in a row at the casinos over in Mississippi. They were poor, too, and were eventually evicted from their rental house. Their family never recovered, and it eventually fell apart.

But who cares, right? Gambling is a victimless and voluntary vice, and we have no right to stop a grown man from wagering his family’s income on a chance to “Win for Life” or to get some “Holiday Cash.” Besides, it’s not our fault if children are caught up in the scheme, even if it’s sanctioned by the people and managed by the state.

Still, I remain worried that Alabamians won’t approve the lottery.

Think about it. If the poor knew that lotteries were actually wealth redistribution in reverse or that their children would likely grow up addicted to gambling, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?

If their elected representatives knew that a lottery would raise the taxes of their poorest constituents, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?

If the Democrats, who style themselves as defenders of the poor, learned that a lottery takes advantage of the most vulnerable among us, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?

And if the Republicans, who style themselves as the keepers of our Judeo-Christian values, knew that a lottery’s get-rich-quick advertising campaigns “exploit the poor because they are poor (Proverbs, 22:22),” they wouldn’t vote for it … right?

I’m not sure. All of this experience and evidence presents an overwhelming and convincing case that a lottery is a hidden tax on the poor.

Thankfully, nobody seems to know these things.

Nobody, that is, but you.

URGENT ACTION NEEDED! We Cannot Wait Another Day!


Please call your state representative and your state senator today, and ask them NOT to vote for a lottery.  Joe Godfrey, Executive Director of ALCAP, has issued an alert that we think needs to passed along to you immediately, as time is of the essence.

According to a Montgomery Advertiser article (click here to read the article), the Governor is planning to call a Special Session of the Alabama Legislature in order to find funding for Medicaid.  The article implies (and we have heard from reliable sources) that a state-sponsored lottery will be the primary “solution” offered to the Medicaid funding problem, and for the lottery Constitutional Amendment to be on the November ballot, the Special Session will need to be held in early to mid-August.

If pastors and church members do not contact their House Members and State Senators NOW and urge them to oppose all pro-gambling bills during the anticipated Special Session, we will be facing a lottery referendum this November! Given our limited resources, it will be difficult for churches to stop such a vote on the November ballot.

The Alabama Supreme Court wrote several years ago that a “lottery” is defined as “any game of chance.”  That means that if the people of Alabama vote for a lottery, the Legislature could come back and establish casinos throughout the state.

No state or government has ever gambled its way out of a financial crisis.  Instead, gambling actually sucks money out of the economy and states that have legalized lotteries and casino gambling have continually had to raise their taxes to cover the lost revenue from other sources.  California and Illinois are good examples of this.

It is also important to note that if the people of Alabama vote for a lottery, that will not be the end of it.  Pro-gambling forces will continue to push for new forms of lottery ticket sales (Keno and scratch tickets, video terminals, etc.) and new types of gambling.  Once a government becomes addicted to gambling dollars, that government will have to continue to “prop up” the gambling operations and expand gambling in order to keep revenue from gambling coming into the state.

A new documentary has been produced that shows the fallacy of state-sponsored gambling, especially lotteries. The movie is entitled, “Out of Luck.”  The downloadable version from the internet contains language not suited for viewing in churches, but an “educational version” has been released that drops the sound when those words are used.

Joe Godfrey has a copy of the educational version DVD and is willing to travel to different areas of the state in order to show the 1 hour and 44 minute documentary to groups of pastors and area associations of churches.  They will also try to have DVDs of the educational version available for churches to use.  The cost of the DVDs will be $25 (their cost).

If you, or a group of area associations and churches would like to schedule a viewing in the next couple of weeks, please contact Joe at [email protected] or call the ALCAP office at 205.985.9062. Or, if you wish to order the educational DVD directly, you may contact Joe directly at  [email protected]


Please thank the following Alabama Congressmen who opposed final passage of ESSA.  Senator Richard Shelby, Congressman Mo Brooks, Congressman Gary Palmer, Congressman Mike Rogers!!!  See our website for a detailed list of concerns about this act that will negatively impact Alabama children for years as there is no sunset date on the act.
O 314.721.1213 / C 636.357.4292 / [email protected]


Washington, D.C.: After months of secret negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the education reauthorization to replace the failed No Child Left Behind, President Obama has signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), favored by the education bureaucracy but opposed by many conservatives. President Obama’s quick and willful signature on this education overhaul should only increase skepticism that this bill will meaningfully reduce federal meddling in education.

Conservative goals for education policy are simple: reduce the role of the federal government, respect the primary role of parents, and protect the privacy of students. ESSA falls short on every one of these issues.

ESSA cuts a few programs but retains many more and even adds a few, such as a pre-K grant now authorized for the first time. Spending levels will increase over the life of this act, and in spite of the outrage from millions of parents, the onerous NCLB testing mandates remain. Washington bureaucrats will still have plenty to do.

Despite popular rhetoric from supporters, this bill does not eliminate Common Core. While it contains more explicit prohibitions on the Secretary of Education, federal law already contained numerous provisions limiting the Secretary and the Department that have been repeatedly defied without consequence. The damage has already been done, and unless states take action, those that have Common Core today will still have it tomorrow.

Phyllis Schlafly and Eagle Forum have fought the progressive education agenda through its every iteration for over 40 years. Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act is an incentive to work even harder for our education agenda. Concerned parents and education activists still have ways to fulfill conservative goals:  Urge states to end their involvement in Common Core. Push Congress to pass laws protecting student privacy and parental rights. Elect a president truly committed to ending the oversized federal role in education.


House Vote tomorrow; Call NOW


The U. S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote December 2 on the Conference Committee Report to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is known as the No Child Left Behind Act, for another 7 years. According to Education Liberty Watch, the bill entails:

  • Sham protection of states from federal interference in standards
  • Continued federally mandated tests that psychologically profile our children instead of testing them on academic knowledge
  • New and increased federal interference in preschool in the K-12 bill in spite of lots of  evidence about the ineffectiveness and harm
  • “Parent replacement centers” in the almost year round 21st Century Schools program supported by both Arne Duncan and Lamar Alexander

Please call your Congressman TODAY to urge a NO vote on the ESEA Conference Report.  To find your Congressman and contact numbers, go to call the House Switchboard at (202)225-3121.

See below additional reasons that this bill must be stopped NOW from the letter that Eagle Forum sent to each Alabama House member.

Dear Congressman:

We urge you to vote no on the Conference Report on the ESEA for the following reasons:

1.       The process precludes informed evaluation of the lengthy document. One week over Thanksgiving holiday is not adequate! We do know that the opt-out amendment that had passed the House has been removed.
2.       We cannot trust this President or his administration. Despite existing prohibitions on the federal department’s power, Secretary Duncan effectively coerced states into adopting Common Core.  His department continues to churn out extralegal directions to states for his liberal, social agenda. See the linked study showing How the Federal Government Controls Education in Alabama already. Why would the Republican led Congress negotiate a deal that this President would sign knowing his track record?
3.       The price for a signed bill is too high:
     a.       There is no meaningful measure to dis-incentivize Common Core, the teaching of which is harming our children, as evidenced by the NAEP scores that show Alabama has dropped from about 26th among the states before common core to dead last as of 2015 – reversing a trend of improvement.  See
     b.      This ESEA will rely on never independently validated, high-staked standardized tests that are psychologically profiling our children more than assessing their academic knowledge or helping inform instruction.  Education Week reports 11/23/2015, the new ESEA “may use non-cognitive traits in accountability” and asks “Is this a Good Idea?”  Of course not!  Parents do not want states measuring their children’s “social and emotional skills” in their accountability models and placing this information into their permanent records!!
     c.       An ever stronger role for the federal government with increased funds for PreK even though a 2012 Head Start study shows conclusively that any gain is gone by the third grade.
     d.      State longitudinal data systems and a massive increase in state and federal gathering of private family, education, and psychological data on our children without consent
     e.      Career-tracking, which undermines self-determination by means of an insistence on student compliance with the very flawed standards and subjective, unconstitutional psychological profiling
     f.        Again, according to Education Week, the opt-out amendment that passed the House has been removed.  There is only lip service to states’ rights and parental control, but centralized control, that has increasingly killed academic achievement while indoctrinating instead of educating, continues virtually unabated.
4.       Too little has changed from No Child Left Behind in the two bills that are being combined in conference.  States still have to submit their plans to the Secretary of Education, who can reject them after a peer-review process.  The federal government would still impose its testing mandate.  Instead, states should be encouraged to do what Massachusetts is again doing and determine their own accountability measures.
5.       PARENTS DESERVE MORE CONTROL OVER THEIR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION THAN EITHER BILL PROVIDES.  Putting this ESEA to rest will go a long way toward parents’ confidence in this Congress and will leave the door open for restoring education to the states and to the people, where it belongs and can thrive, under a new President.

Please see the following commentaries: (Heritage Foundation)

Best personal regards,
Eunie Smith, President
Eagle Forum of Alabama


Praise God for Sen. Jeff Sessions and for those four Alabama Congressmen who supported him with their votes on the TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance) bill in the House on Friday – Brooks, Byrne, Palmer and RobyPlease thank them.  Please ask all Alabama House members to vote against TAA if Boehner brings it up again this week.  Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121

Here is a rundown on the issue:
1. Consolidation Of Power In The Executive Branch. TPA eliminates Congress’ ability to amend or debate trade implementing legislation and guarantees an up-or-down vote on a far-reaching international agreement before that agreement has received any public review.

2. Increased Trade Deficits. History suggests that trade deals set into motion under the 6-year life of TPA could exacerbate our trade imbalance, acting as an impediment to both GDP and wage growth.

 3. Ceding Sovereign Authority To International Powers. A USTR outline of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which TPA would expedite) notes in the “Key Features” summary that the TPP is a “living agreement.” This means the TPP commission could change the agreement as they please with no input from a Congress, including the entry of foreign workers. 

4.  Currency Manipulation. What is known about the agreement thus far is that it doesn’t address currency manipulation at all, which in one of major problems in our dealings with trading partners. 

5.  Immigration Increases. The plain language of TPA provides avenues for the Administration and its trading partners to facilitate the expanded movement of foreign workers into the U.S.—including visitor visas that are used as worker visas, especially since it is a “living agreement.

See how your Congressman voted on both TPA and TAA below. Also, read Sen. Sessions warns of another attempt to pass Obamatrade here.




EF National


TAA Fails – TPA Passes

June 12, 2015

Today, the House of Representatives considered two controversial trade related bills, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), that would empower President Obama to finish massive “free trade” agreements, namely the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The complicated vote series left the fate of the package up in the air. First came the vote for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). This ineffective and wasteful government program supposedly helps workers who lose their jobs due to foreign trade; in reality, it’s a bribe to garner Democrat support for trade.

Most Democrats voted against TAA in an effort to kill the whole trade package, and most Republicans opposed TAA as useless government spending. That left 86 Republicans who voted yes, either in support of more government spending or out of total commitment to moving President Obama’s top current legislative priority, TPA.

The following Representatives should hear your disapproval. Please call or tweet them this weekend:

Bishop (MI)
Brady (TX)
Brooks (IN)
Costello (PA)
Curbelo (FL)
Davis, Rodney
Emmer (MN)
Graves (MO)
Herrera Beutler
Huizenga (MI)
Hurt (VA)
Johnson (OH)
Kelly (PA)
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
McMorris Rodgers
Miller (MI)
Murphy (PA)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Ryan (WI)
Thompson (PA)
Walters, Mimi
Wilson (SC)
Young (IA)

The TAA vote failed, but the House moved onto the second part of the package, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA empowers President Obama to make his trade deals with foreign countries and takes away Congress’s ability to amend any agreement. Only 54 Republicans voted NO. Please call and thank them for their brave vote:

Brooks (AL)
Clawson (FL)
Collins (GA)
Collins (NY)
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Jenkins (WV)
Mooney (WV)
Smith (NJ)
Webster (FL)
Young (AK)

Please note that while they voted NO on TPA, the following Representatives voted YES on TAA: Aderholt, Donovan, McKinley, Jolly, and Katko.

Although the failure of TAA today delays the process, Speaker Boehner has the power to bring TAA back to the floor next week. The outcome of that vote will determine the fate of this trade package.

Please keep up the pressure! Contact your Representative and urge him or her to vote NO on TAA when it comes back next week. 

Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121


Action: Students are not Data

The State Board of Education is expected to vote on the proposed 2015 Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Model (CCGM) at its June 11 meeting.

Eagle Forum considers this plan to be beyond the legitimate purview of counselors and an overreach that could be harmful rather than helpful to students and their families.  Eagle Forum believes the family is the rightful place for inculcating values and determining career choices.  It states, “All students will receive a data-informed counseling and guidance program that promotes academic achievement, career readiness, and personal/social development.” (p. 1)

  • CCGM shifts the primary goal of school counselors from helping children to collecting data on students and pushing Common Core objectives. (p. 38)
  • CCGM sets goals for changes in students’ behavior, emotions, feelings, attitudes, values and beliefs, thus expanding public authority over private lives of students into the affective domain, which has never before been allowed in Alabama schools (p. 16)
  • CCGM mandates in K-2 exercises to “identify changing family roles” (p. 15), “various family configurations” (p. 16) rather than modelling a natural family to which all may equally aspire
  • CCGM mandates acceptance of alternative lifestyles (p. 16)
  • CCGM violates students’ fundamental right to privacy by requiring students to disclose criminal records, language spoken in the home, socio-economic data, family composition, disability, beliefs, thus also violating student/professional counselor privacy protocol (p. 39 -40)
  • CCGM implements a series of assessments (with data collection and retention) that can disserve students by limiting student academic options and career possibilities: an assessment in the third grade that sets a trajectory for career tracking (ACT Aspire), another single assessment in the 8th grade (ACT Explore), and another in the 11th grade (ACT WorkKeys) with the resultant “annual career plan” to be only “annually approved” by the parents.  Career exploration/planning is desirable, but career tracking is unacceptable in a free society.  (p. 12-13)

You may view the CCGM herePlease ask your State School Board member here, to preserve proper counseling roles and stop this new model.  It facilitates psychological testing on all children and opens the door for school based health clinics, which would further usurp parental rights and responsibilities.

Eunie Smith, President
Eagle Forum of Alabama
[email protected]

Budget Decisions: Consequences of Gambling Expansion (Compact) Vs. Other Ways

May 13, 2015

To:   Governor Robert Bentley

Members, Alabama Senate and House

From: Eunie Smith, Eagle Forum of Alabama

You are in our prayers as you make the hard, limited-government choices that result in the most cost-effective government and the most liberty for our citizens.  We wish to share the following four points with you as you wrestle with budget decisions. Explanations follow.

  • It is NOT a foregone conclusion that the Poarch Creek Indians will have any gambling going forward.
  • We’re not just talking about gambling on Indian Reservations.
  • Gambling interests will take control of politics and policy making in Alabama.
  • There is Another Way.

1.      It is NOT a foregone conclusion that the Poarch Creek Indians will have any gambling going forward.

The push for a compact is premised on the notion that Indian gambling is here to stay, and therefore we might as well tax it.  This is a false premise!  It is being used to convince conservative legislators who would otherwise oppose gambling to give up and support a compact!

The Alabama Attorney General has a strong case pending in the federal Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (in Atlanta) that could be decided in a matter of weeks.  If the appeal is successful and the Attorney General eventually wins the case, it will undermine the right of the Poarch Creek to conduct any gambling operations in Alabama!

For over five years, the issue of “electronic bingo” has been fought out in case after case in Alabama state courts.  It is this form of gambling that has been conducted up until now on both Indian and non-Indian land in Alabama.   Just a few months ago, in a case called Houston County Economic Development Ass’n. v. State (November 21, 2014), our Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling that finally settles the matter once and for all:  so-called “electronic bingo” is illegal under Alabama law.  Only paper bingo is allowed.  Now that this ruling is in place, there is good reason to believe that the federal courts will take notice and rule that, since this gambling is illegal under Alabama law on non-Indian land, federal law will not permit it on Indian land either.

In addition, the case brought by the Attorney General also includes a sound argument that  the land on which all of the Indian gambling is being conducted in Alabama was not even properly taken “into trust” for the benefit of the Poarch Creek tribe.  In a 2009 case called Carcieri v. Salazar, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that only Indian tribes recognized as such by the federal government in 1934 could benefit from land taken into trust for them by the Secretary of Interior.  Alabama’s Poarch Creeks were not recognized as a tribe until the 1980’s!

2.  We’re not just talking about gambling on Indian Reservations.

If we enter into a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians, non-Indian gambling bosses will never let us hear the end of it.  They will keep pushing until they have the same rights.  Once we “cross the Rubicon” and become a gambling state, the political pressure from non-Indians to be treated “equally” will be relentless.   (The tools available will include massive political contributions to those who favor increased gambling and equally massive contributions to recruit and support opponents for those who oppose increased gambling.)

The result of gambling expansion is NOT more reliable net revenue to the state.  However, the costs are reliable: more addictions, more family breakdown, more divorces, increased crime, increased law enforcement and public assistance programs, business and restaurant closings …   See

3.     Gambling Interests will Take Control of Politics in Alabama.

In Mississippi today, whenever a new law is proposed in the legislature, the first question legislators ask is “Where are the casinos on this?”  Do we in Alabama really want to turn control of our state politics over to the gambling bosses?

Right now the two biggest donors in Alabama state politics are the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Business Council of Alabama.  Of course there are other “players,” but these are the two dominant forces.  But if we legalize casinos, the amount of cash generated will easily swamp the combined political resources available to current donor groups.  The gross profits from three or more Las Vegas style casino operations could easily exceed $2 million dollars a day.   Whether Indian or non-Indian, the gambling money is huge, it is politically minded and it will likely not be chasing after conservative candidates.  Gambling money will control Alabama politics.   (While there is talk of restricting political participation by casinos, this is only being proposed as to Indian casinos; and, besides, substantial First Amendment questions exist as to whether any such restrictions will be enforceable.)

Make no mistake:  Signing a compact with the Indians will usher in a new era in which gambling bosses will control Alabama politics.  They will have much more influence than most people realize over who we elect to our courts, as our Governor, and as our representatives in Montgomery and even in Washington.

4.  There is Another Way – Un-earmarking and combining the budgets

“The solution to Alabama’s budget ‘crisis’ is so simple it will blow your mind,” according to Yellowhammernews, which explains that there will be a surplus in education trust fund tax revenues this year of $287 million!  This is almost exactly the same amount as the projected shortfall of $290 million in this year’s general fund budget!  So without one dollar from gambling interests, the State already has enough money to fund essentially the entire deficit!    What is required is that we un-earmark all or even just part of the excess money that is now restricted.  And much of this money can be un-earmarked simply by an act of the legislature.

Additionally, the legislature can continue to cut out inappropriate expenditures; and it is time to combine our education and general fund budgets.  If 47 other state legislatures can manage dollars used for education without a separate budget, so can Alabama.  Please consider these options as you move forward.

A New Year, New Session, New Opportunities

Today marks the beginning of the 2012 session of the Alabama Legislature. A new session means opportunities and for Alabama, the opportunities are abundant.  Legislators will have the opportunity to pass meaningful education reform in the form of charter schools.  Basic principles of any market tell us that more competition leads to a higher quality across the board. And no one can deny Alabama schools could use some improvement.

Legislators will also have opportunities to help create jobs.  I say “help” because the state shouldn’t create jobs, but it should get out of the way and let the private sector begin putting Alabamians to work.  Legislators should remove obstacles to job creation and provide incentives for companies looking to locate or expand in our state. Several of these job creating measures are on the slate for the first week of the session including legislation giving economic development offices and the Governor more flexibility in offering tax incentives and a measure to allow the state to offer temporary state income tax incentives to offset build-up phase costs for companies bringing jobs to the state.

Last, but certainly not least, legislators will have the opportunity to stand strong on Alabama’s new immigration law.  There are those who want to weaken the law who will use language like “tweaking” or “making it easier to enforce,” but legislators should tread carefully.  While there are some legitimate fixes that need to be made, i.e.–adding military ID’s to the list of acceptable forms of identification, by and large, the law should be left as is.  Keep an eye on our website for more information on this issue.

Alabama legislators appear poised to take advantage of some of these opportunities and they deserve our support.  We just have to make sure they keep their eye on the ball and don’t get  distracted by those who want to keep running Alabama in the same old way.  After all, if we keep doing things the same way, we’ll keep getting the same result.  They say opportunity only knocks once, so here’s to giving our legislators the fortitude to open the door.