Freedom Updates: January 25, 2001

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom

Freedom Updates: January 25, 2001

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

California Outlaws

California legislators registered so-called "assault weapons" (select semiautomatic rifles), then the politicians moved to confiscate them. Only California gun owners are not surrendering their guns. 10,000 Californians complied with the law, but an unknown number chose the path of civil disobedience.

Thomas D. Elias reports the story in a January 22 Washington Times story ( Democratic State Attorney General Bill Lockyer is quoted, "No one knows exactly how many of these types of guns are in private hands, but we estimate the number is far higher than what has been registered."

It's a sad day in America when peaceable citizens are treated as criminals by their government. But the United States were founded on civil disobedience, and that tradition may restore our rights.

Drug War for the Birds

Unbelievable. Denver police got a tip about an alleged methamphetamine lab in Adams County, hidden underground under chicken coops. We don't know whether the tip was anonymous. The Denver police passed on the tip to the North Metro Task Force Anti-Drug Unit, a crack militarized force (a.k.a "standing army." See Hector Gutierrez' story in the January 25 Rocky Mountain News, page 25A.)

Did the Task Force find any illegal drugs? Of course not: they found illegal chickens. Fighting cocks, to be exact. The drug agents confiscated the cocks and arrested four men at the house.

The moral of the story is that, if you don't like your neighbors, just tell the cops they've got drugs. That'll get 'em. Either the informant just cared about the chickens and invented a cover story about drugs, or mistook the chicken smells for drug lab smells, or simply didn't like the people at the house. Regardless, the Task Force made its bust.

Perhaps we need a North Metro Task Force Cock Unit, too. This case further demonstrates what I've believed all along: the drug war is for the birds.

The Energy Market

A January 22 headline in the Denver Post declared about natural gas: "Gas prices blamed on speculators." The story, by Steve Everly of Knight Ridder, also argues that regulators "failed to protect their customers and constituents from such price spikes."

Blaming speculators is worse than blaming the messenger: it is blaming the very people who are preventing future shortages. If a good is in short supply, then the prudent move is for speculators to reserve some of the supply for the future. That brings short-term prices up, causing consumers to conserve, and it assures a long-term supply.

Underlying the alleged news story is the belief that energy is rightly a nationalized industry. But the only "protection" consumers need is a free market. Government agents are the main cause of energy problems. Through price-fixing and restrictions on production, those agents guarantee supply problems. The term "regulator" is ridiculously inappropriate for government meddlers. They don't "regulate" (make regular) anything. Instead, they make the energy markets irregular. They should be called "government irregulators."

Electricity woes continue to plague California. In his January 21 column, Vincent Carroll of the News hits a home run:

In a rational world, the leaders of the green coalition who spent last week in the nation's capital trashing Gale Norton would instead have been put on public dunking stools in Sacramento, where Californians could have vented their anger on the instigators of their misery. After all, who is it who has fought every proposed major power plant in California during the past quarter century? (,1299,DRMN_86_6385|106,00.html)

The following articles also offer a rational perspective on California's energy problems:

Clinton's Economic Lies

According to Bill Clinton and his friends in the media, Clinton caused interest rates to fall, created surpluses, and paid down the debt. These are lies. Check out Harry Browne's hard-hitting WND article at .

The New Americans

Residents of the United States generally think of themselves as the sole "Americans," even though we share the continent with two other countries. (I've met South Americans who think of themselves as sharing a single continent with us.) When we call ourselves "Americans," we do so with a certain pride, and we mean to say something about our history of freedom. But now our neighbors to the North are showing more of the "American Spirit" than many in the U.S. Not only have millions of gun owners refused to obey the recent confiscation demands, but there's a fairly strong secessionist movement. Let us not forget that the United States were created out of a secessionist movement. Tyranny is tyranny, whether it originates from England or North America. See the Sierra Times article at

Prison for Thee, But Not for Me

Have you ever heard of a case where a politician's family member has been sent to prison on drug charges according to the mandatory minimums? Neither have I. Instead, politicians pass the drug laws but exempt their family and friends from those laws. Daniel Forbes provides the latest example in his Salon article at When John Ashcroft was Governor of Missouri, his nephew was given probation for growing 60 marijuana plants. When his nephew tested positive for drugs, he remained free. Who believes the kid would be on probation if he were black or Hispanic?

Traffic has been getting a lot of well-deserved publicity. The following two links review the film. The first points out the good qualities of the film; the second, by Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine, argues that the film also perpetuates common stereotypes and hysterias about drugs.

Norton Looks Good

Norton passed her committee hearing 18-2. Big surprise here -- one of the two holdouts was Chuckie Schumer.

A recent Los Angeles Times article sheds more light on Norton's character:

Norton prefers a skeletal government role in public life--a belief that bloomed from her early infatuation with the free-market writings of Ayn Rand... [A]t Denver University, Norton fell in with students attracted to Rand's philosophy of Libertarian "objectivism." She was fascinated by land issues, attuned to the "approach that private property is private property. It's not the public's or the government's," recalled law professor Jan Laitos... Norton supported Libertarian presidential candidate Ed Clark in 1980--even attending the party's political convention as a delegate.

The more I hear about Norton, the more I like her. I'm almost even ready to forgive her for taking an active role in the tobacco settlements.

Campaign Finance Deform

Roger Pilon put out a fine article detailing the problems with campaign finance restrictions at He writes, "It's not money that corrupts. It's power. Money, being necessary for political speech, is the antidote to that corruption.

Market Growth Earns More Support

Wendell Cox, an Illinois consultant who analyzes policy for the Independence Institute, took on so-called "smart growht" January 23 at a Denver economics conference. John Rebchook wrote an excellent review of Cox's ideas for page one of the business section of the Rocky Mountain News (,1299,DRMN_4_7639,00.html). Rebchook relates a number of crucial points.

  • Living density increases traffic congestion.
  • Traffic congestion increases air pollution.
  • Building restrictions raise housing prices.
  • Light-rail is a waste of money. HOT lanes are the way to go.

Trashing the White House

Richard Combs sent in a link to the Drudge Report about Clinton's aids' trashing of the White House ( Richard's reaction was, "Unbelieveable!" But it's entirely in line with the Clinton Administration's trashing of the rule of law.

Putin Crushes Minor Parties

Yes, the two old parties in the United States hold a monopoly of power and pass laws to hinder opposition. But Russia's Putin has taken action to shut down most opposition parties. Erik Kubinski sends us the link to

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