Freedom Updates: December 8, 2000

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Freedom Updates: December 8, 2000

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Owens Proposes Sweeping Education Reform

Governor Bill Owens' radical change in his education proposals has made headlines across the state.

Previously, Owens wanted to rank schools with the letter grades "A, B, C, D, and F." But now, in a modification sure to improve the educational opportunities of all young Coloradans, Owens instead wants to rank schools with the words "excellent, high, moderate, low, and unsatisfactory."

See the enormous difference? Now we have words, not letters.

I guess this is the kind of inane tinkering we get with a socialized institution. Excuse me: a "market challenged" institution.


Gun Laws Don't Stop Criminals

An article in the Dallas Morning News reports federal gun laws don't stop criminals from buying guns. Criminals simply resort to the black market or theft to get guns (http://www.dallasnews.com/metro/233511_atfstudy_08met.html).

But that should hardly come as a surprise. The stated goal of the anti-gun lobby is to disarm law-abiding citizens. Of course, the anti-gun lobby has an easy solution to the myriad of failed gun laws: expand those laws.

Fortunately, John Velleco of Gun Owners of America has a better idea: "Going after more restrictions to the overwhelming majority of people who never use guns illegally is counterproductive. We'd rather have the Dallas police out there chasing real criminals and not spending so much time harassing law-abiding gun owners and doing more paperwork."

The ATF "study" cited by the Dallas paper is mostly nonsense anyway. It focuses on trace records, which are conducted for only a small percentage of crimes. The propaganda is conveniently timed to assist Handgun Control, Inc. in bringing private gun sales under national control -- thereby also increasing the power and budget of the ATF. Dave Kopel has already described the problems with basing a study on trace records: see http://www.i2i.org/SuptDocs/Backgrounders/gunshows.htm.


Florida: The Elian Connection

Given the closeness of the Presidential race in Florida, why haven't we heard even a word about the Elian Gonzales case? Though Gore distanced himself from his boss on the matter, I suspect many Hispanics and Cuban immigrants in Florida remain angry with the Clinton-Gore administration for seizing the boy in a military-style raid and returning him to a dictatorship.

JOSEPH STALIN pretty much summed up Al Gore's post-election strategy: "I don't care who votes as long as I get to count the votes" (quote attributed).


More Signs of Retreat from the Drug War

Cracks in the foundations of the drug war are growing larger. Clarence Page wrote recently for the Chicago Tribune about the "failed drug war." He writes, "We have fought a war on drugs, and drugs have won. A major reason is our failure to treat the conditions, psychological and otherwise, that lead users to abuse the stuff in the first place."

In similar news, Bill Clinton actually said something I agree with. He told Rolling Stone Magazine, "I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be... We really need a reexamination of our entire policy on imprisonment. Some people deliberately hurt other people and they ought to be in jail because they can't be trusted to be on the streets... But a lot of people are in prison because they have drug problems or alcohol problems and too many of them are getting out -- particularly out of state systems -- without treatment, without education, without skills, without serious efforts at job placement."

The comments were picked up by Reuters and can be linked at http://live.altavista.com/e?efi=467&ei=2330214&ern=y.

Unfortunately, drug agents continue to persecute peaceable citizens. Libertarian activist Steve Kubby and his wife Michele are battling for their freedom in court over marijuana charges, even though medical marijuana is supposedly legal in California, where the Kubbys reside. Steve suffers from cancer and uses the drug to alleviate his symptoms. For links to recent news stories, see http://www.kubby.com/index.html.


Eco-Terrorists Strike

The "Earth Liberation Front" has claimed responsibility for burning down a $2.5 million home in Niwot. "Viva la Revolution!" documents from the group say. Marxism is alive and well on the fringes of American culture. But at least Marx genuinely cared about human well-being, however mistaken were his theories. The eco-thugs would celebrate human misery, if only that could save a nest of rats or a tree. For more, see the following links:
http://www.denverpost.com/news/news1208e.htm
http://insidedenver.com/news/1208elf3.shtml


Hopeful Ruling for Tattered Cover

Local drug agents want to search book purchase records of Tattered Cover bookstore. A Denver judge allowed the search, but the store appealed. The case has not yet been decided. A November 28 ruling by U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum on a similar case bodes well, though.

The judge refused to allow federal Drug Enforcement agents to search the sales records of a book store in Kansas. A lawyer for the store, Borders, said, "Borders is very gratified that its First Amendment rights and those of its customers have been vindicated" (AP, http://www.freedomforum.org/news/2000/12/2000-12-04-04.htm).


Unions

A "union" is when people come together, right? What we commonly refer to today as "Unions," then, should actually be called "disunions." After all, unions prevent cooperation between some employers and willing employees. They routinely shut down businesses, interfering with the union between firms and their customers.

I recently came across an insightful article by Nathaniel Branden that addresses the myths about unions (http://www.nathanielbranden.net/que/que31.shtml). (His article was originally published some decades ago, but the ideas in it are still not universally recognized.) Branden points out that increases in real wages are the result of increased capital formation, definitely not of unionization. His analysis is perhaps the clearest and most persuasive I've read on the matter.

Of course, libertarians are not anti-union. If a union is truly a voluntary organization, then libertarians will support it. Unfortunately, American unions get special privileges from the government that allow them to interfere with the property rights of business owners. Unions might exist on a free market, though they would not add significantly to the welfare of workers. (Today, unions can benefit some workers at the expense of others, but that's hardly desirable. With a free market, unions could only raise wages in line with supply and demand, which would increase the well-being of everyone.)

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