Freedom Updates: January 22, 2002

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

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Freedom Updates: January 22, 2002

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Jan. 23 Update: Robert Nozick Died Today Harvard Philosopher Robert Nozick died this morning. His classic book Anarchy, State, and Utopia revived interest in libertarian theory among contemporary academics. Harvard has published a review of his life and works at http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2002/01.17/99-nozick.html.


Discover Big Government

"Join me. Rediscover Colorado." That's what Governor Bill Owens, or "Taxaholic Bill," said on a television campaign that cost the taxpayers half a million dollars.

What I'd like to rediscover is the Colorado where politicians don't take the people's money from them by force to squander on politically motivated corporate welfare.

Senate Democrat Bill Thiebaut is right about the ad: "[Owens] knew the political advantages of doing this in an election year" (Denver Post, January 11, story by Julia C. Martinez, page 14A).

According to the Post, the legislature passed a "$500,000 emergency supplemental appropriation late last year." At that time, Owens had not been selected to appear in the ad, according to Bob Lee of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. In other words, the legislature took half a million dollars out of the legitimate economy in Colorado and spent it on what was to become an Owens re-election commercial. And that's supposed to help the economy.

What is especially discouraging, though, is that supposedly conservative Republicans have failed to blast Owens for this flagrant waste of tax dollars. The silence is deafening.

In a public e-mail dated January 10, John Andrews, minority leader for the State Senate Republicans, wrote, "They say Congress must act to get the economy growing again. But what ability does Congress have to create any real wealth? Aren't we better off if they just get out of the way and let the enterprisers and the work force, the people who really produce things, rev up the American economic engine?" Andrews remains one of my favorite Republicans, and here he shows his free-market sensibilities. In the e-mail, he says people like "Democrats and liberals" pretend the legislature can help the economy. You better add RINOs to your list next time, Senator.


Grab Your Ankles...

A January 19 AP article by Curt Anderson reviews a recent poll taken about tax compliance. (http://www.nandotimes.com/politics/story/223966p-2157812c.html)

About 76 percent of taxpayers agreed when asked in a recent survey if they should cheat "not at all" on their taxes - meaning almost a quarter felt otherwise. Eleven percent said it was OK to cheat "a little here and there," with 5 percent saying people could cheat "as much as possible."

However, the poll is bound to suffer the same shortcomings as polls about gun ownership. People don't really know who is calling them or if the information will be kept confidential. Thus, more people will say they don't "cheat" than is probably the case. (The exact language of the poll wasn't provided, but if the term "cheat" was used that could also have thrown off the results. The only actual "cheating" involved is directed at the taxpayers by the IRS and the Congress that implemented it.)

The poll is also misleading in that it only counts "taxpayers." However, lots of people who are not officially listed as "taxpayers" make tremendous amounts of money on the underground economy. For example, marijuana is a leading cash crop in America. In other words, the people who seriously "cheat" on their taxes aren't counted by the poll at all.

Larry Levitan of the IRS Oversight Board said the poll does "indicate some erosion in the commitment to the importance of paying taxes." The importance of paying taxes. We wouldn't want those minions of bureaucrats to have to get honest jobs, now would we?

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said, "If we can't make sure that everyone pays their fair share, then honest taxpayers get stuck making up the difference." This statement is simply astounding. If our rulers really cared about making the tax rate "fair," it wouldn't consume nearly half the country's (official) GDP. Allowing oneself to be robbed is hardly the equivalent of "honesty." To be sure, I pay all my taxes -- I'm almost paranoid about record keeping -- because if agents from the IRS come knocking on my door I want to get the audit over with as quickly as possible without getting threatened with back-breaking fines. But my compliance has nothing to do with my desire to be morally virtuous. I think it's fair to say that's true of the majority of Americans.

The article reported, "In 1988, one out of every 79 tax returns was audited, or a total of about 1.77 million. But by 2000, the 716,000 audits represented only one out of every 232 returns." We witness, then, this oscillation in IRS practices. Abuse of power is inherent in the income tax system. So the IRS abuses people with audits, and people complain and the IRS backs off for a time. Then fewer people pay taxes, so the IRS boosts its audits. There is only one way to break this vicious cycle: eliminate the income tax and the IRS.


Free Our Children

Roger Arnold teaches economics at California State University-San Marcos. He has also written economics texts for high school students. His January 22 article in the Dallas Morning News confirms what I have also come to believe about textbooks used in today's government schools.

http://www.dallasnews.com/editorial/viewpoints/arnold_20edi.ART.69be.html

After puzzling over an assignment, my older son asked for my help answering the questions in a chapter of his science book. I read the chapter, then the questions. It was as I had suspected. What my son didn't know, but I did, was that his frustration with the assignment had nothing to do with him; it had everything to do with how textbooks are produced in America today...

Behind closed doors, many publishers question the ability of teachers to choose good books. They say teachers know so little about the subjects they teach that they wouldn't know a substantive, clear and organized book if it were placed in front of them. Publishers say flashy books, not content, wow teachers, and so they spend an inordinate amount of time and money producing flashy books.

To read my article on the subject, see http://www.freecolorado.com/ari/ieducation/wholemathnonsense.html.


Drug Warriors Plant Wallboard

One major criticism of the Drug War is that it makes it very easy for police to abuse their power. For instance, framing a person is a trivial affair for the police. As a January 18 article from the Washington Post reports, police in Dallas allegedly ground up wallboard and then claimed it was cocaine. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A229-2002Jan18.html)

The article reports, "[I]n at least 18 cases involving alleged major cocaine seizures by the Dallas police narcotics unit in the past year, the purported evidence was all, or nearly all, ground-up wallboard material."

Legislators who support drug prohibition were unavailable for comment, as they had their heads buried in the sand. Or maybe it was wallboard dust.


British Crime Wave Continues

"While Britain has some of the toughest firearms laws in the world, the recent spate of gun murders in London has highlighted a disturbing growth in armed crime." (January 4, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1741000/1741336.stm) The article continues:

Between April and November 2001, the number of murders in the Metropolitan Police area committed with a firearm soared by almost 90% over the same period a year earlier.

Armed street robberies rose, in the same period, from 435 to 667 in 2001 - an increase of 53% - while overall in the capital there were 45,255 street robberies and snatches last year, against 32,497 in 2000.

But I wouldn't encourage anybody to hold their breath until the Brady Center and the Violence Policy Center discuss these trends in their propaganda.


Links

The following story provides yet another example of how the registration of guns leads to their confiscation.
http://www.kc3.com/news/chicago_confiscation.htm

The Objectivist Center has published some comments by George Walsh about the history of Islam.
http://theobjectivistcenter.org/navigator/articles/nav+gwalsh_history-creed-islam.asp

Plans are underway to build a giant boat called the Freedom Ship. It's supposed to be a hub of free-market activity. I'll believe it when I see it, but I hope I do see it, even if it falls short of libertarian hopes. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,42147,00.html

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