Short Takes, March 1999

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The Colorado Freedom

Short Takes, March 1999

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In his magnificent novel about a near-future private space-race, Kings of the High Frontier, Victor Koman describes a rape scene by a national political figure that bears disturbing resemblance to Clinton's alleged rape of Juanita Broaddrick. In the novel, the victim manages to render her attacker unconscious and scrawl in his forehead with a knife, "RAPEST." The doctor hired to perform plastic surgery on the politician muses, "I'll bet she started to spell either 'rape' or 'raper,' then changed her mind and decided on 'rapist,' but it was too late to make corrections. Now it's spelled like a superlative. Rape, raper, rapest."

That's Bill Clinton: the RAPEST, the worst sort of scum.

On February 26, Colorado citizens rallied in a public protest organized by, led by Bob Enyart, the talk show host who recently burned O.J.'s jursey. I saw protesters holding black signs with Clinton's silhouette and the word "rapist," gathered at the State Capitol and at a courthouse in Arvada on Ralston. It heartens me to see a little public outrage over Clinton's blatant abuse of women. - Ari Armstrong

Wisdom from the Rocky Mountain News
The News published a thoughtful editorial February 21 criticizing SB 150, which would allow people to sue drug dealers if they were affected, even indirectly, by drug use. The main problem is that it would trample the rights of the innocent, even freezing their assets.

Unfortunately, the News would support a "far more limited bill that allowed people to recover actual damages... only after the responsible dealer has been convicted." While less onerous, such a law would still be ridiculous. What ever happened to individual responsibility? People use drugs by choice. If they are thereby hurt, it's their own fault. Similarly, tobacco companies are not responsible for the damages to smokers. Gun manufacturers are not responsible for crimes committed with guns. Neither car makers nor alcohol companies are responsible for House Speaker Russell George driving with a 0.21% blood alcohol level. Each individual is responsible for his or her own actions. The politics of blame leads to less responsibility, more litigation, and more expensive goods and services.

To be sure, if a drug dealer sells poisonous drugs (beyond what's expected), either willfully or by negligence, he or she should be held liable. If a gun manufacturer sells a defective gun that leads to injury, it should be held liable. If an auto maker sells a dangerous car without warning its customers, it should be held liable. However, if the user misuses a product or uses a product known to be dangerous, it's the user's fault, and the user's liability. - Ari Armstrong

Folly on Social Security
Also in the February 21 issue, the News printed yet another editorial favoring mandatory, regulated savings accounts as a way to "fix" Social(ized) (In)Security.

Let's get this straight. There's nothing about mandatory, regulated savings accounts that will help save Social Security. The problem with S.S. is that the government has promised to take money from the young and give it to the elderly. As the Baby Boomers retire, the number of retirees relative to workers will increase drastically. Forcing the young into mandatory, regulated savings accounts is not going to reduce the S.S. burden, at all. It will merely add a new coercive program on top of the old one.

There are only two ways to solve the S.S. problem: raise taxes or decrease benefits. Obviously, I favor the later. The age at which benefits are paid should be raised slowly over time until the system has been effectively abolished. Sure, the younger generations still get jipped, as we'll have to pay the S.S. tax even though we won't be forcing our children to pay us the tax. However, at least we won't be jipped twice, forced to pay the S.S. tax and forced to divert our money into mandatory, regulated savings accounts.

It's my money! I work very hard for it. It doesn't belong to the elderly, and it doesn't belong to the government to invest. It belongs to me, to spend as I see fit. Right now, I'm trying to pay off my debts and save for a house. Social(ized) (In)Security is the greatest obstacle in the way of me achieving my goals. Every time I write out a check to pay 15% of my income to this regressive tax it makes me physically ill. It's extortion, pure and simple. Stop taking my money! -Ari Armstrong

Squabbling Over the Tobacco Funds
Governor Bill Owens says "hands off" to the Federal government when it comes to the tobacco money won by several states in a recent court battle (Rocky Mountain News, February 23, 1999). You tell 'em, Bill: Colorado stole that money fair and square!

The very idea of a state suing for damages is silly. If the tobacco companies did willfully deceive smokers in such a way as to cause them more damage, something I find hard to believe given the high level of knowledge about the health risks of smoking, it would owe money to individuals, not to the government. - Ari Armstrong

It's the Drug War, Stupid
"Senators told smokable heroin may be next crack cocaine," says a Rocky Mountain News headline February 25. Why do all illegal drugs keep getting more potent and more dangerous? For the same reason alcohol became more potent and more dangerous during the Prohibition of alcohol: illegal substances can be smuggled easier the more concentrated they become. The drug war creates more dangerous drugs. There likely would never even have existed crack cocaine but for the drug war. - Ari Armstrong

It's the Government Schools...
"Parents win round in drive for more say in curricula," says a Rocky Mountain News headline February 25. The article is about Representative Norma Anderson's bill that would reduce state mandates for government schools.

Can you imagine a headline saying, "Customers win round in drive for more say in grocery produce"?

Of course not. Grocery stores are private, not government-operated. Private businesses, which are funded directly by their customers, must react swiftly and surely to their customers' needs. Businesses that fail to do so lose customers and risk failure. The government schools, on the other hand, are insulated from the needs of parents and students, because they collect taxes whether or not they do a good job. (Often they collect even more taxes if they do a poor job.)

For the parents who send their children to government schools, I have this advice: Stop Complaining! If you choose to take education welfare through the coercive mechanisms of the state, you have no right to dictate the type of education you receive. That's what being a ward of the State means: doing what the government tells you. If you really want a "say in curricula," home-school your children or place them in market (private) schools. And pay the bills yourself, or apply for voluntary charity. - Ari Armstrong

Committee Politics
A bill concerning concealed weapons passed the House Agriculture Committee February 25.

The Agriculture Committee? You know, those cows are up in arms about the proposed legislation.

Why not the Committee for Health, or Judiciary, or Local Government? Any other committee would seem more logical than Agriculture. The truth is that committee assignments are themselves political. If the Speaker likes a bill, it goes to a friendly committee. If the Speaker doesn't like a bill, it gets slammed into multiple, difficult committees. Pretty slick, eh? -Ari Armstrong

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