Freedom Updates: March 30, 2001
All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
"I'd Be Dead"
Ellen Miller wrote March 14, "Harris, a contractor, had picked up three young hitchhikers on his way home from work, taken them home and fixed them a steak dinner. He was preparing to offer them work when two of them attacked him, stabbing him repeatedly in the back, head and hands with knives they had taken from Harris' kitchen. The assault stopped when Harris said he would get them money. Instead, he grabbed a .44-Magnum pistol he kept in a desk drawer and began shooting. He shot one in the torso. The two others tried to flee in Harris' car, so he shot out two tires."
The final line of the story quoted Harris: "If I'd had a trigger lock, I'd be dead. If my pistol had been in a gun safe, I'd be dead. If the bullets were stored separate, I'd be dead. They were going to kill me."
In other news, "Richard Peppers didn't hesitate when he saw a man beating and raping his neighbor -- he pulled out his Ruger .357 Magnum revolver and ordered him to stop." (http://www.news-press.com/news/today/010319hero.html).
Ode to the Thirty Percent
Today (Friday, March 30) is the last day to freely trade property at a gunshow. From now on, because of Amendment 22, those who buy guns from private sellers at "gun shows" (defined as three or more persons trading guns) will be forced -- at the point of a gun if necessary -- to register with the government and prove themselves innocent if any quirks show up on their records.
The new law will not prevent crime. It will kill some innocent people by preventing them from buying a gun for self-defense. Amendment 22 is not about stopping crime -- it never has been. It's about giving more power to the state to control the citizenry. It's about harassing honest gun owners until they simply bow down, disarm, and live in fear.
But we will not bow down, we will not surrender. A full 30 percent of Colorado's voting population said "no" to the intrusive measure. The majority of the population in 21 counties voted to keep our freedoms. (Where is "local control" Bill Ritter now?)
For a libertarian, material property is an extension of one's person. The right to life entails the right to that property one creates or freely trades to acquire. Freedom must extend to the economic realm of goods and services. However, freedom is primarily in the heart and in the mind.
You can kill a free person, but you cannot rule his or her soul.
We will fight on. We will fight until Amendment 22 is repealed. We will fight until the unconstitutional Brady registration law is repealed. We will fight until every federal law pertaining to firearms is wiped from the record -- with the exception of the Second Amendment. We will fight until Colorado politicians stand true to their oaths of office and defend the right to bear arms and to freely trade property.
Do you hear me, Bill Owens? Your days in politics are numbered. The same goes for every other lying, back-stabbing RINO who sells out our liberties for political expediency.
Pass an illegal statute, pack your bags for the road.
One man with courage is a majority. So said Jefferson. One woman with the strength to stand by her convictions will turn the tide.
One of my friends described the month of March as a sunset, the light of freedom fading and dying out. According to the anecdotes, one of the founders kept a painting in which the sun was halfway on the horizon. When the Constitution was ratified, he declared the painting was that of a sunrise.
The natural progress of human kind is toward greater freedom. Yes, the torch of liberty may be hidden at times in the dark shroud of deception and power plays. But it will not be extinguished. We only got 30 percent. That's already 28 percent more than we need to achieve ultimate victory.
So pass the sun block. Especially to those anemic slaves of the omnipotent state. They're going to need it.
More Gun Restrictions, More Crime
The facts beg to differ. Mike Yardley writes in the March 13 Daily Telegraph, "[T]he criminal misuse of handguns has actually increased greatly... In London in 1954 (when there were roughly double the number of legitimate firearm certificate holders), there were four robberies with firearms in the whole year. Now there are as many each day."
In general, criminals have been emboldened by English victim disarmament laws. Rates of robbery and burglary in England now surpass those in the United States. But the gun-grabbers blithely assume that their utopian laws will work as intended, despite the abundant evidence to the contrary.
"Close the First Amendment Loophole"
Of course, there are two quite distinct meanings of the term "loophole." In modern usage, the term refers to some inconsistency in the rules, such as a "tax loophole." However, in its original meaning, a "loophole" referred to a slit in a defensive wall through which you could fire at the enemy without getting hit yourself. In this sense, gun ownership is the ultimate "loophole" against two-bit criminal thugs and tyrannical politicians.
Similarly, free speech is a "loophole" through which we can defend the rest of our freedoms. To close that "loophole" means we can no longer use free speech in defense of our rights.
But John McCain is hell-bent on destroying as much of the Bill of Rights as he can get away with. A couple of recent articles point out the problems with McCain's anti-freedom proposals."[E]very effort to reform campaign spending in the past century has followed a similar pattern: a big scandal, new laws designed to clean up the influence of money in politics, and an unintended consequence.... But [no past] reforms produced the deep cleansing of the political process that advocates had hoped they would." (http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/03/23/fp2s1-csm.shtml)
"Campaign-spending limitations are like the amusement-arcade game of whack-a-mole. The faster you hammer one mole into the ground, the sooner another pops up from a different hole. Thus, limits on contributions to individual candidates simply divert "soft money" into contributions to political parties. Other reforms also spawn unintended consequences; the much-derided Political Action Committees (PACs) were created by the 1974 federal-election reform law, with the intention of reducing political corruption... To the extent that campaign-finance laws are effective, they harm the political process even more. Establishment candidates with hefty rolodexes can amass huge treasure chests by raising $1,000 each from scores of other insiders. In contrast, mavericks need deeper support from their narrower base." (http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel032101.shtml)
Should be Alan Goldspan
Fortunately, Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. recently made the case in his article "The Thrill is Gone" at http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/thrill.html:
"If Greenspan had any sense or guts, he would hold the line on interest rates, and permit the economy and the stock market to tank. The screams would appear unbearable, but in 12 to 18 months the economy would be back on a solid footing and prepared for real growth in the future. This would also teach an important lesson to investors: that they can't count on the Fed's printing presses to bail them out.
"A quick inflation primer: why do artificially lower interest rates create inflation? Here's how it works. The Fed lowers the rate it charges its member banks for overnight loans, which then permits banks themselves to lower rates for borrowers. If banks find takers for the money, the effect is to create credit that is unjustified by the pool of savings. Assuming no other changes, this new money waters down the purchasing power of all existing money. The banks and their connected interests are able to spend the money before prices rise, while the consuming public gets stuck with the bill down the line.
"The effects of inflation are deadly for long-term growth. Inflationary expectations can quickly take hold. Instead of saving, then, consumers began to realize that they are far better off spending, that is, getting rid of their cash before its purchasing power decreases. These spending patterns further increase prices until a spiraling upward begins to take effect."
Rockwell quotes a 1928 paper by Mises: "Every single fluctuation in general business conditions -- the upswing to the peak of the wave and the decline into the trough which follows -- is prompted by the attempt of the banks of issue to reduce the loan rate and thus expand the volume of circulation credit." Rockwell notes that "[t]hey didn't listen to Mises in 1928," and they sure as hell aren't listening to him now. And Alan Greenspan should know better -- he praised the gold standard while working with Ayn Rand in the '60s.
Bedfellows in Freedom
They say politics makes strange bedfellows. Perhaps that's especially true considering the unlikely and uneasy alliance between some gay intellectuals and conservatives on a handful of freedom issues.
For instance, my favorite lesbian Camille Paglia wrote a stunningly succinct defense of a tax cut for Salon Magazine. She argues, "Meanwhile, I'm baffled by the demagogic rhetoric of my own Democratic Party about Bush's proposed tax cut, which is rather minimal. It may be my libertarianism talking, but surely the people who create the income should have the benefit of the doubt when it comes to disposition of their wealth. Government has become a fat, lazy behemoth, spawning parasitic bureaucracies resistant to reform. Democrats seem addicted to the dole. We need a more radical reduction in taxation as well as a stripping down of government agencies to essential social services" (http://www.salonmag.com/people/col/pagl/2001/03/21/spring/index.html).
Of course, Paglia believes the government's "essential services" include "public" education and "medical clinics for the poor." Still, Paglia sounds more like a Republican -- and a libertarian -- than most Republicans I know.
In the same article, Paglia takes on the government school system, despite her support of tax-funded education. She writes, "If high school has turned into a seething arena of boredom and competitive tension erupting in mayhem, it's partly... because modern schools have become dungeons for active young men at their most hormonally driven period of life. Forcing restless teens of both sexes to sit like robots in regimented rows in crowded classrooms for the better part of each day is a pointless, sadistic exercise... This school system is not even 200 years old, yet most people treat it as if the burning bush floated it down from Mount Sinai. Too often, school has become a form of mental and physical oppression... Can anyone honestly claim that current high school students know more about history, science, language and the arts than students 40 years ago?"
Go ahead. Try to name five elected Republicans willing to tell the truth about government schools the way Paglia has. Try to name even one.
SPEAKING OF EDUCATION, famed libertarian Thomas Szasz published an article on the subject March 15 in the Los Angeles Times. "Schools are prisons, to which children are sentenced by compulsory education and truancy laws. School-prisons may be used to serve the following purposes: teaching literacy and mathematics--a goal that can be met in six years, or by the time a child is 12; vocational education or preparation for a higher education--goals that are not justified, and in fact, are hindered by, compulsion; social control, which requires and justifies compulsion and is antithetical to giving teenagers a choice about school attendance. Using schools as institutions for social control makes them de facto criminal-psychiatric facilities, depriving children of liberty... The main function of the public school is not education but social control. The result is that the schools are unsafe and test scores are dismal... In words and deeds, young people today tell us that they do not like being patronized, made to feel useless and baby-sat in day-care prisons called 'schools.' School administrators, teachers, child psychiatrists, child psychologists, social workers, grief counselors, pharmaceutical companies and the many other businesses that profit from the education racket are not the friends of children as they proclaim."
Heavy stuff. And true. And strikingly similar to Paglia's message.
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GAYS AND GUNS? But of course! Paula Martinac recently wrote an article for Lesbian Nation which explains why some gay people use guns for self-defense. She writes:
"[T]here's a new movement of pro-gun queers raising provocative questions that may help our community arrive at solutions to the problem of antigay violence... [One gay writer argued that c]arrying concealed weapons that we know how to use could change our image and serve as the perfect deterrent to gay bashers... [N]ow progressive-thinking queers are coming out as pro-gun as well, and lesbians and bisexual women are reportedly joining shooters groups, too... [A] recent article in the Pittsburgh City Paper about the fledgling Pink Pistols chapter there interviewed a member of the group who is active in the Democratic Party but rejects the traditional liberal stance for tighter gun controls... The answer, [some] suggest, is for us to start toting guns--not to stage a revolution, but just to brandish or use them when attacked. Once youthful gay bashers get the message that we're armed and dangerous, hate crimes won't seem like so much fun and the stereotype of gays as weak will shatter" (http://www.lesbianation.com/storydetail.cfm?Section=98&ID=3959).
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MIKE LITTWIN wrote a column in the March 25 Rocky entitled, "Scout resolution was bigotry, plain and simple." Now, I was in the Boy Scouts for awhile, and I believe it's a valuable organization. But I think it's a mistake to ban gays from serving as Scout leaders. I agree with Littwin.
And I'm going to state so publicly even if it costs me readers. I've often thought of how easy it is for us today to criticize the racists of America's past. But back then, it was expected for whites to be racist against blacks, and it was potentially dangerous for a white to support black people. I often wonder whether I would have had the intellectual integrity and courage to stand beside my black friends, back when it wasn't popular to do so. Well, today I stand beside my gay friends.
Littwin displays a Constitutional sensibility that's unusual for a popular newspaper writer. He writes, "We should note that the Supreme Court, in upholding the Boy Scouts[' ban on gay leaders], did not say the Scouts were right. The justices, in a 5-4 vote, merely ruled that their argument was constitutional... Law and morality often line up on opposite sides."
To put a new spin on an old line, I disapprove of the Scouts' ban on gay leaders, but I will defend the right of the organization to practice that policy. It's possible to do something that's politically your right which is nonetheless irresponsible and harmful; that's a main tenet of the libertarian philosophy.
My hope is that freedom-oriented conservatives will learn to respect the gay community and will willingly work with libertarian gays to advance freedom for everyone.
Give Us Fox
John Rice produced an article for the Associated Press March 19 entitled, "Mexican president quoted suggesting eventual legalization of drugs" (http://www.boston.com/dailynews/078/world/Mexican_president_quoted_sugge:.shtml).
Rice writes, "In an interview published by two newspapers Sunday, Fox indicated agreement with a police official who suggested last week that the only way to win the war on drugs was to legalize drugs, eliminating the profits and violence caused by illegal trafficking."
But Fox realizes drug prohibition is driven by the United States, despite the fact that the policy violates the U.S. Constitution. Fox said, "When the day comes that it is time to adopt the alternative of lifting punishment for consumption of drugs, it would have to come all over the world because we would gain nothing if Mexico did it but the production and traffic of drugs continued here." Unfortunately, Rice adds, "On Jan. 24, the new president announced a 'great crusade' against drugs, saying, 'I pledge a war without mercy.'" That kind of talk tends to keep U.S. tax dollars flowing into Mexico.