Freedom Updates: May 3, 2001

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Freedom Updates: May 3, 2001

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


SENATE VOTES DOWN 18-20 BILL!

The Senate has voted down a bill (225) that would have stripped legal adults ages 18-20 of their right of self-defense. This despite the Democrats holding a one-person majority. Somebody saw the light!


John Thoburn Update

It's difficult to get current information on John Thoburn's situation. Thoburn was jailed for refusing to move trees, ON HIS OWN PROPERTY, to where the zoning board wanted them.

As of April 26, Thoburn languished in jail. See the Washington Post update, which is the most recent information I've found, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2828-2001Apr25.html?id=85000764. For more information, including an article Thoburn wrote from jail, check out http://www.freejohnthoburn.com.

As Vin Suprynowicz wrote on April 8, we are witnessing "creeping fascism" with the Thoburn case (http://www.thelibertarian.net/2001/vs010408.html). Fascism is a type of socialism in which state agents control nominally private property. As Leonard Peikoff wrote in Ominous Parallels, the United States is slowly moving in the direction of becoming a fascist state. It's time to wake up and take back our rights.

FREE JOHN THOBURN!


Great Libertarian Intro

Scott Banister, Chris Whitten, and Kevin B. O'Reilly of Free-Market.Net fame wrote a great introductory web page about the libertarian political philosophy. See http://www.libertarian.org/. You might pass along this link to your friends who would benefit from a basic introduction. I though it was an excellent overview.


'A Right, Not a Loophole'

I'm disappointed in myself for not thinking of the line first. On April 26, the Rocky Mountain News published the article "A Right, Not a Loophole" that criticized the effort to strip legal adults ages 18-20 of their rights of self-defense. See http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/article/0,1299,DRMN_38_370688,00.html.

The News points out, "[T]here are more than 150,000 young adults who would lose their constitutionally guaranteed right, not because of anything they as individuals have done, but because they are arbitrarily defined as underage. And if you are one of those who doubts the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to gun ownership, then check the Colorado Constitution, where the language is as straightforward as it can be."

It's refreshing to see a main-stream media outlet evoke the principles of freedom. The News adds, "Suppose a young man who is not quite "underage" in the bill's terminology -- 21, say -- would like his slightly younger wife to have a handgun for self-defense. This bill would make it a criminal offense for him to give her one."

The News is to be applauded for its straight-forward analysis. Unfortunately, the News perpetuates an erroneous view of Amendment 22: "[B]ackground checks, which the News supported, determine whether a particular individual has forfeited his rights by, for example, committing a felony. Unlike SB 225, they impose an insignificant burden on those whose rights are unimpaired."

That view of background checks is demonstrably false. Usually a background check wrongly denies the purchaser based on inaccurate or incomplete records. Thus, they too violate the Colorado Constitution. In addition, it is a "significant burden" to be registered with the federal government for purchasing a firearm, something background checks entail.

At least the principles the News espouses are correct. Now if the paper's writers will recognize their utopian vision of background checks for the fallacy it is, perhaps they will consistently advocate civil rights.

Reggie Rivers also criticized the 18-20 bill in his Denver Post column (http://denverpost.com/Stories/0,1002,73%257E26262,00.html).

Rivers' comments focused on the absurdity of requiring legal adults to get parental permission to exercise their right of self-defense:

What's unusual about this bill, and what makes it such a bad law, is that it extends parental control beyond the age of emancipation... [T]he words "parent" and "guardian" have no authoritative connotation once you become an emancipated adult. Senate Bill 225 ignores that reality... A mentally- and physically-fit 18-year-old doesn't have a parent or guardian; he's his own guardian.

That's an excellent point. Again, I wish I'd thought of it first! Rivers gets a bad wrap among conservatives, but I think he's just a tough interviewer who asks difficult questions and plays devil's advocate a lot. He may not be a consistent libertarian, but he's fair-minded and open to the ideals of liberty.


'What Fourth Amendment?'

The Denver Post, too, came to the defense of Constitutionally enshrined liberties. Well, one of those liberties, anyway, which for the Post ain't bad. In its April 25 opinion, the Post blasted the Supreme Court's move to threaten the Fourth Amendment through warrantless arrests (http://denverpost.com/Stories/0,1002,73%257E25786,00.html).

The court's ruling is only the most recent indignity heaped on the Fourth Amendment, which says: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." ...The high court seems to have forgotten that the Fourth Amendment was meant to guard citizens from the arbitrary excesses of government - not to ensure the convenience of cops.

Amen. Now if we can just get the Post to start quoting the First, Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments...


Jury Nullification

Vin Suprynowicz' April 22 Las Vegas Review-Journal article defends the right of jury nullification and blasts the notion that it is merely "Constitutional propaganda" (http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/2001/Apr-22-Sun-2001/opinion/15916384.html). He writes:

No law allows the government to appeal or overturn a jury acquittal, nor for any juror to be questioned by authorities, or charged or punished in any way for voting to acquit, even if the judge sits there in all his solemn majesty and says: "This jury is instructed to convict: I am giving you no choice." It's all one big bluff.

Go Dennis!

When I hear American government officials criticize Dennis Tito, the world's first private space explorer, I become a little angry. They simultaneously mock Tito for paying so much money to go to space -- $20 million -- and for allegedly not paying his fair share.

There's one reason why NASA opposes Tito's trip: the subsidized quasi-monopoly fears private competition. Tito's journey in all likelihood signals the next big wave of space exploration -- and the government won't have a damn thing to say about it. Market space companies are gearing up to meet anticipated demand.

Control freaks just can't stomach somebody doing something without their complete control and guidance. Just as the private internet system is undermining the USPS monopoly, so private space exploration will eventually put NASA out of business. Good riddance.


Tax Thieves

According to the April 21 Rocky, "[B]urglars... broke into a tax preparation office in Littleton this week [and] walked away with... computers [which] contained detailed data on the office's clients, including names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and bank account numbers." And let's not forget earnings information.

It is simply ridiculous that government agents know any of this information in the first place. The IRS doesn't just take your money, it takes your privacy. The Littleton burglars were simply mimicking the behavior of the IRS. It's debatable whether the information is more dangerous in the hands of the IRS or the burglars. If we seek to restore liberty and privacy, we must repeal the income tax, and replace it with NOTHING.


Proficient Is as Proficient Does

I guess it depends on what your definition of "proficient," is. The following text was composed by a Massachusetts high school student for a test each student must pass to graduate. The writing earned a mark of "proficient." It is drawn from a New York Times article by Kate Zernike reprinted April 22 in the Post.

The book I would like to write about is called 'Of Mice and Men' and there were two main real characters but the character I want to write about the character his name is Lenny, he really issn't the main character of the book 'Of Mice and Men.' But in the story he played a keyrole. Lenny wassn't the smartest person but he was a real good worker. But nobody really listened to him cause everybody thought that he was stupid, but Lenny is just a little slow so nobody would pay attention to Lenny everybody would make fun of him.

It would be nice if we could believe the student was really displaying a subtle genius, writing from the perspective of poor Lenny in order to drive the point home. But we all know that's not the case.

My Random House dictionary defines "proficient" as "well-advanced or expert; skilled." Chances are good that the student doesn't know the meaning of the term. Certainly no honest literate person would describe the work from the test as "proficient."

A dumbed-down curriculum in government schools requires a dumbed-down proficiency test. Government schools operate according to the same principles that governed the Soviet economy, a command-and-control system that results in poor incentives and bureaucratic entrenchment. In addition, because every student is expected to learn the same things, the average performance in any given subject is reduced.

To be fair, I must mention that one of my teachers at the government high school I attended helped me develop my writing skills. She got me ready for college. But the trend line for government schools generally is declining standards.

Government schools are more effective att creating real good obedient subjects.


A Free Market in Energy

In a May 2 article, Professor George Reisman points out that the problem with energy in California is that a free market has never been permitted to operate by the state. Instead, price controls and restrictions on construction have created the current crisis. Reisman, who studied with Mises in New York, calls for a free market in energy and points out the power of the market generally:

[T]he average American of the year 2000 was able to obtain at least ten times the goods and services, and vastly more than ten times the electric power, as the average American of the year 1900, even though he worked perhaps only two-thirds as many hours per week. In other words, forty minutes of his labor in 2000 gave him wages sufficient to buy the equivalent of what in 1900 required ten hours of his labor. And a very few minutes of his labor was sufficient to give him the wages to buy electric power that would have required many, many hours of his labor in 1900. Such wonderful progress in the ability to buy electricity and all other goods can continue in this new century -- if only power-hungry government officials and misanthropic environmentalists will get out of the way. (http://mises.net/fullarticle.asp?control=669&month=32&title=Avoid+Blackouts+Now&id=32)

What's a 'Loophole?'

Previously I wrote, "In its legal sense, the term 'loophole' is inherently biased as it carries a negative connotation. Deibel writes as if it were a given that the law for firearms should be exactly the same as laws for other items. But this is an illogical leap." In reply, Mike Huemer sent in the following comments:

I would add the following:

Where I come from, a "loophole" means a possibility for circumventing the intent of a law while obeying the letter of the law. If the legislators intended to make safety regulations for guns, but the gun manufacturers somehow found a way to avoid making their guns safe in the intended way, that would be a loophole. On the other hand, if the legislators specifically decided not to make safety regulations for guns, and the gun manufacturers accordingly didn't do anything, that isn't a "loophole."

As an analogy, if a state decides to eliminate capital punishment, and then as a result, convicted felons escape execution, that isn't a 'loophole,' regardless of whether capital punishment is a good idea or not.

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