Freedom Updates: January 2, 2001
All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
NRA: Too Afraid to Fight?
True, the NRA sponsors some great training programs. The NRA affiliated classes in Grand Junction are the best I've seen. (For more information, contact Linn Armstrong at 970.464.5177.) Unfortunately, the NRA's politics is usually ineffectual and often counter-productive. Ayn Rand got it exactly right in Atlas Shrugged:
"When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an absolute; when loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it's picked up by scoundrels -- and you get the indecent spectacle of a cringing, bargaining, traitorous good and a self-righteously uncompromising evil."
Norton Assigned Secretary of Interior
The Christian Science Monitor published an article today covering Norton's ideology (http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/01/02/fp2s1-csm.shtml). Norton is known for her libertarian leanings, and she even attended early meetings of the Austrian Economics Study Group in Denver, affiliated with the Foundation for Economic Education.
Westerners can expect a four-year respite from over-zealous federal land managers. However, Michael Cloud's insight weighs heavily: the problem is not the abuse of power, it is the power to abuse. As the Monitor points out,
The Interior Department is responsible for 436 million acres of America's public lands - nearly 20 percent of all the land surface in the US. This includes about a third of the natural gas, a third of the coal, and a quarter of the oil consumed by Americans.
Of course, the national government is not authorized by the Constitution to own or control any of that land. Ultimately, it doesn't do much good to have a libertarian managing a socialized system. I am tempted to remind Norton of Ludwig von Mises' comment when he was asked what he would do if put in charge of the Austrian economy: "Abdicate." (Not long thereafter, Mises had to flee the National Socialists (Nazis). He brought free market "Austrian Economics" to New York.)
Strangely, environmentalists want even more nationalized land, even as they complain about national land management. I have long advocated privatizing federal lands by giving half of them away to environmental groups, and selling off the other half. If environmentalists would adopt this plan, they would have much greater control over American wilderness areas.
Following is a press release from the Independence Institute about Norton's appointment:
Colorado's Richest Hypocrite
In a December 28 story, John Sanko published a story in the Rocky Mountain News about House Speaker Doug Dean's idea to lift campaign finance restrictions for candidates facing wealthy opponents. Incredibly, Polis told the News: "All it would accomplish would be to deliver state government into the hands of moneyed interests on a silver platter." Polis IS the "moneyed interest."
In reality, campaign finance restrictions serve to increase the power of special interests at the expense of grass-roots activism. Who has the legal team to circumvent the campaign finance laws? Fat cats like Polis, the Democrat and Republican Parties, unions, corporations, and subsidized interests. Meanwhile, third parties and independent activists are left without the means to exercise their First Amendment rights of free speech. Doug Dean is on the right track with his reform proposal. But he should seek to repeal all campaign restriction laws.
The News ran an excellent lead editorial December 30 on the issue:
[W]e don't favor caps on contributions of any kind. Contributing your own money, to promote ideas you believe in, ought to be considered a form of free speech.... Pete Maysmith of Common Cause... point[ed] to a number of wealthy candidates who poured large amounts of money into their campaigns, and still lost... But this is a bizarre argument for Common Cause to make. If you can lose while spending huge amounts of your own money, you can lose when spending huge amounts of other people's money. So why have limits?
In answer to the News' question: to further entrench the interest groups Peter Maysmith prefers. Maysmith doesn't mind if Jared Polis, the unions, and the Democratic Party spend as much money as they want to buy elections. But Maysmith speaks disparagingly of the National Rifle Association and the Realtors Association, groups which for the most part defend individual rights, including property rights. Perhaps Maysmith's ultimate goal is for people he likes to be able to spend as much money as they want on politics, and for people he doesn't like to spend nothing.
Telluride Suit Over Drug Check Points
Here's wishing Planet Bluegrass success in its legal pursuit. The group's action displays the kind of moral courage necessary to win back our rights.
Global Gun Control a Failure
Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north have tried to register all owners of rifles and shotguns. They have tried, and they have failed five million times over. That's the number of Canadians expected to practice civil disobedience and flout the registration law (http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html?s=singapore/headlines/001230/world/afp/Up_to_five_million_gun-toting_Canadians_may_be_breaking_the_law_on_Jan_1.html).
One Canadian sat down in front of Calgary city hall with an unloaded shotgun and waited to be arrested under the new law. "I don't like your gun laws," the man told police as they arrested him at gunpoint (http://www.nationalpost.com/news/national/story.html?f=/stories/20010102/423113.html). And this is in pacifist Canada -- civil disobedience would be practiced much more widely in the United States if such registration laws were passed.
Is Tax Avoidance Fraud?
But Campos has got it exactly backwards. What's fraudulent is the welfare statism that eats up nearly half the nation's wealth. The party guilty of theft is the United States Congress, which takes money from the productive class to give to special interests and useless bureaucrats. It is a moral virtue to pay as little in taxes as possible. Tax avoidance is legal and admirable. Tax evasion -- willfully breaking the law to pay fewer taxes -- is not fundamentally immoral, though it's generally imprudent. (I pay all the taxes the IRS says I owe because I do not want to deal with the many hassles involved with tax evasion.)
What would Campos make of Henry David Thoreau? Is he a villain because he refused to pay taxes? According to the libertarian world view, Thoreau is a hero for practicing civil disobedience and enduring jail rather than pay taxes for an unjust cause.
Libertarians might first note that the federal prescription requirements have failed to keep the problem in check. The federal government also created the mandatory insurance system for practically every medical expense. By (unconstitutionally) mandating employer insurance and health subsidies, the government has destroyed the market in health care.
We might draw an analogy to auto insurance. If the government encouraged a system where even gas and routine maintenance were insured, drivers would over-use both without regard to price, and insurance premiums would soar. In medicine, routine check-ups and medicines should not be insured at all, yet they are because of federal mandates. Predictably, people over-use such items as antibiotics. Thus, the federal government is partially responsible for the rise of resistant bacteria. Talk about unintended consequences!
I produced my identification papers and purchased the glass of wine. I enjoyed it so much that I asked if I could purchase a bottle to take home. No, I was told: "We don't have that kind of license."
We don't have that kind of freedom.