Freedom Updates: July 19, 2002
All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
Rosen and Capitalism
Ironically, some leftists are using the corporate scandals to advocate the increased socialization of the economy. In other words, they want to replace the limited, correctable, and illegal fraud of the market with the massive, pervasive, and legal fraud of political force. Of course, what we really need is to stop the politicians from interfering with the market and use government and legal structures for what they are for -- providing redress for theft and fraud.
In his Rocky Mountain News column today, Mike Rosen offered some nice comments in defense of capitalism. Some industry executives, Rosen says, "have failed us. They've cheated and defrauded investors, employees, consumers, their fellow Americans and they've undermined the principles of the economic system that's created this nation's wealth and prosperity." Rosen continues, "As a champion of market capitalism, I hate corporate crooks. They lend aid and comfort to Naderites, populists and the forces of socialism and statism... Socialism promises utopia but delivers mediocrity. Capitalism has shown it can deliver prosperity but can't promise perfection, so socialists will be forever carping."
So far, so good. Unfortunately, Rosen adds, "In a real-world mixed economy, some level of government oversight and regulation is necessary. The question is, how much before it becomes counterproductive?"
That's not "the question" at all. Rosen invokes his typical argument that libertarianism and free markets are great ideals, they're good in theory, but in practice they must be watered down and compromised. Rosen thus perpetuates the "moral-practical dichotomy," as Rand put it. But if our principles are not practical, that is a good indicator the principles are incorrect. I'm a libertarian precisely because I think the "real world" is best suited for libertarian policies.
Rosen writes as if "government oversight and regulation" were a homogeneous bundle. We need only decide what level of regulation we want. This is totally wrong. What matters is not the *level* of "oversight and regulation," but the *type*.
Legislators have no business regulating markets directly. The appropriate body to make investment rules is a business entity that coordinates investments. The role for the law is to enforce contracts and outlaw theft and fraud. All legislative corporate regulations should be repealed, as those regulations hamper the free market and actually give rise to abuse. The best check on corporate corruption is the self-interest of investors, who are free to change their investments as they see fit. The law is only a backup to correct for abuse of contract, theft, and fraud. Tax-funded corporate bailouts, of course, only breed corruption and inefficiency.
Stanley, Grant Part Ways
On July 18, Stanley sent an e-mail to his "Stanley Scoop," the "official newswire" of his campaign: "I am forwarding this exchange between Paul Grant and myself, for comment and advice from the Stanley Scoop, all across the country. Before I make a decision, my sentencing is next Thursday, July 25, I would like some feedback that I respect. I respect the members of the Stanley Scoop and welcome your input." Grant's e-mail to Stanley, which Stanley forwarded to his list, reads,
On July 19, Rick Stanley sent the following comment to his Scoop, "I have made the decision to handle my sentencing on my own pro se, and Paul Grant will no longer represent me in this case from the sentencing forward through my appeals."
Grant continues to represent Duncan Philp, who was arrested at the same event and for the same charge as Stanley.
Nevadans Seek to Legalize Marijuana
[This November], an historic initiative to end the war on all marijuana users will be on the statewide ballot in Nevada...
If approved by a majority of the voters, our ballot initiative would eliminate the threat of arrest and all other penalties for adults who use and possess up to three ounces of marijuana. Second, it would require the state government to implement a system whereby adults could obtain marijuana through a legally regulated market, rather than from the criminal market. Third, it would allow seriously ill patients to obtain marijuana at a lower cost than non-medical users. And, fourth, it would impose common-sense restrictions that the voters demand, such as imposing penalties for driving dangerously while under the influence of marijuana, smoking marijuana in public, and providing marijuana to minors.
In short, this ballot initiative would end the government's war on responsible marijuana users, thereby allowing the police in Nevada to focus their time and resources on murder, rape, robbery, and property crimes. Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement is the right name for our campaign committee.
To see the text of the initiative, please visit http://www.nrle.org. And, if you like what you see, would you please use the contribution form on that Web site to donate $10 or more to this historic campaign? ...
After the Nevada government certified on July 9 that our initiative will be on the November 5 ballot, CNN Headline News ran a story about our campaign on its 30-minute rotation for an entire day. And on Saturday, the national FOX News Channel hosted a live debate between a supportive Nevada state legislator (Chris Giunchigliani) and an extreme prohibitionist (David Evans) who believes that everyone -- including seriously ill people -- should be put in prison for using marijuana.
The Washington Post ran a story on page A2 on Sunday, and the Associated Press, Reuters, and U.S. News & World Report also ran stories in the past week, as did every newspaper in Nevada... Perhaps most significantly, the largest newspaper in Nevada -- the conservative Las Vegas Review-Journal -- endorsed our initiative...
There have been only three statewide initiatives in the history of the country that have sought to end marijuana prohibition. In the 1970s, California voters rejected a marijuana initiative by a 2-to-1 margin. In the 1980s, Oregon voters rejected a similar initiative by a 3-to-1 margin. And in November 2000, Alaska voters rejected yet another marijuana initiative by a 41-59 vote...
Support for marijuana policy reform has been surging across the country for the past six years, and it is time we capitalize on this cresting wave by scoring our first broad-based initiative victory -- in Nevada.
Rivers Advocates Legal Prostitution
Denver Post columnist Reggie Rivers wrote a July 11 column, "Why not legalize prostitution?" Rivers argued,
The answer to the Colfax prostitution problem is counterintuitive but remarkably simple... All of the problems associated with prostitution are a direct result of the prohibition of the activity. If it were legal, there would be no solicitations on Colfax.
Rivers said there isn't much of a problem with black-market dealings involving beer or cigarrettes, because the sale of those items is legal.
The people who live and work along Colfax are trying to fix the problem, but they're going at it all wrong. If they want to get rid of the blight on Colfax, they need to lobby the legislature to decriminalize prostitution. That'll take it off Colfax and into brothels or private homes...
The issue of prostitution is discussed at length at http://www.freecolorado.com/2001/11/prostitution.html.
Vouchers Mean Control
Here is yet more evidence that vouchers will eventually be taken over by leftists. Sue O'Brien, the editor of the Denver Post editorial pages, wrote a July 7 article, "Abandoning the anti-voucher camp."
She wrote, "That's why the Cleveland experiment, now upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, is appealing. It is means-tested: Only disadvantaged families can get public help to change their children's schools... To them, I'm delighted to extend a helping hand. But if folks who can afford it want to send their kids to today's Punahous, they don't deserve my help."
Put another way, O'Brien likes vouchers precisely because they redistribute wealth. In addition to keeping people dependent on government dollars, vouchers are sure to invite more "reasonable, common-sense" regulations of now-private schools.
Marshall Fritz, a founder of the Advocates for Self-Government who now heads up the Separation of School and State Alliance, blasted vouchers in his recent article at http://www.sepschool.org/essays/fritz/red_pajamas.html. Below are a few of his comments.
Tax funding of schooling infantilizes parents by taking over their duty to decide how much to spend on their children's education. The American spirit of voluntary interdependence has been gradually cooked out of us by this infantalizing... School vouchers, charter schools and camouflaged vouchers in the form of tax-credits, will continue the infantalizing of the parents of the 46 million already on the dole; worse, they will entice many of the families of 5 million children who use voluntarily funded schools to surrender their independence, too.
On July 3, Gary Bills wrote in a letter to the News, "The wall separating them serves to protect both government from religion and religion from government. I predict that the pro-voucher group will eventually regret this decision [by the Supreme Court] as much as those opposed to vouchers."
On July 10, Fred Bowers wrote in his letter to the News that "if vouchers become a reality in this state... I want all private school administrators and teachers certified and licensed, as they are in public schools... If the public schools have to follow the rules and guidelines as dictated by politicians, lawyers and the media, then so should private schools that receive tax money."
Masters at Telluride Writers Guild
A Telluride paper reported, "Most Telluriders know Bill Masters as the San Miguel County sheriff, a post he's held since 1979. But his reputation extends well beyond this box canyon as a writer and political leader who has declared a war on the war on drugs."
AP Covers LP's Convention
The Rocky Mountain News published a July 8 story from the AP about the LP's national convention. The formation of the LP was prompted by "disenchantment... over the Vietnam War and President Nixon's wage and price controls," the article relates. The story describes the Libertarian "principles of individual liberty, smaller government and free trade."
Immigration Adaptation a Two-Way Street
In his July 18 letter to the Rocky Mountain News, Jack Woehr argues immigrants should indeed learn English. But if "the good citizens of Greeley and elsewhere were to welcome the immigrants as an infusion of fresh blood that keeps democracy alive in this country, as were previous generations of immigrants, well then, maybe they would be emboldened to show off their newly learned skills in Ingles more openly."
Welfare is Immoral
The Colorado Springs Gazette published the following letter by Steve Gresh on July 17.
Welfare programs are not virtuous
Virtuousness is not an attribute of taxpayer-funded welfare programs, such as the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Fund that Lynn Hefley, my Republican opponent for election to the office of state representative, House District 20, extolled ("Investing in a t-risk youth pays off handsomely in the future," Letters, July 13).
Although she evoked my heartfelt sympathy for a small percentage of Colorado's children who suffer from deplorable circumstances beyond their control, her arguments conveniently avoided the inevitable conclusion that all taxpayers should be forced to pay for preventive measures that steer some juveniles away from lives of underachievement and delinquency. To those who volunteer their time honorably and donate their money liberally to youth programs, such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, I thank them for their nobleness and charitableness. However, I despise the use of emotional blackmail to deceive voters into believing that taxpayer-funded welfare programs are virtuous.
Taxation is theft. Theft is wrong. Individuals are harmed egregiously and permanently when government steals their money for redistribution to others or for feel-good social welfare programs. The coercion of taxpayers to fund welfare programs that Hefley wants to reinstate is immoral. Theft is not charity. The wrongs from which some children suffer plus the wrongs from which taxpayers suffer do not equate to rights.
Individuals are capable of deciding which charities to support. I'm certain that many individuals would choose voluntarily to donate money to the programs that benefited from the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Fund. Don't many individuals already make those choices?
Steve F. Gresh
Tyranny Imposed through Private Snoops
The Denver Post published a surprisingly pointed editorial July 19 blasting the proposed TIPS program. Nicely done!
The acronym stands for Terrorism Information and Prevention System. Millions of Americans from utility service workers to ship captains would be asked to be on the lookout for suspicious activity and report it to the government. The government's own website describes TIPS as "a national system for reporting suspicious, and potentially terrorist-related, activity. The program will involve millions of American workers, who in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to see potentially unusual or suspicious activity in public places."
The Post editorial sounds a little like a release sent out by the national LP. Steve Dasbach said, "This program will undermine the American traditions of freedom and privacy, and make us more like the nations that we abhor... By deputizing utility workers, delivery drivers and other private employees as de facto government agents, the government has created a way to search your home without a warrant. The only reason the government wants to recruit private citizen-spies is that they can do things the government can't do legally, such as monitor your private behavior with absolutely no suspicion that you've done anything wrong. These were standard tactics for the Stasi -- the East German secret police -- but they should be repugnant to every American."
Property Rights Up In Smoke
Dr. David Nelson of the American Heart Association wrote a column about secondhand smoke for the July 19 Rocky Mountain News. In his shrill attack on David Kopel, Nelson forgets that Kopel's job at the Rocky is to point out media bias and list a wide variety of sources.
For Nelson, simply the fact that secondhand smoke is harmful implies politicians should pass laws banning it on private property. "If these communities pass strong clean indoor-air laws, they will join the growing number of communities here and nationwide who place the health of their citizens above the health of the tobacco industry."
But healthful living entails living in a free society that protects property rights, rather than in a petty fascist state. Healthful living entails personal responsibility, and it precludes being infantilized by two-bit tyrants.
Nelson attempts to argue that smoking bans actually help those whose property rights are infringed by the bans. If that were true, they would voluntarily make their establishments smoke-free.
I have nothing against Nelson attempting to persuade people not to smoke and to restrict smoking on their private property. But when he advocates the use of force to trample property rights, he promotes thuggery, not health.
Maynard Blasts II, Corporate Welfare
It annoys the hell out of me every time Independence Institute President Jon Caldara slavishly sucks up to Bill Owens. In a July 18 e-mail, Caldara praises Owens for his "fiscal responsibility," even though Owens only wants to raise government spending slightly less than the Democrats do, even though Owens failed to oppose a tax proposal for transit, and even though the only real source of "fiscal responsibility" in this state is TABOR.
But on the whole I love the work of Caldara's organization.
Green candidate for attorney general Alison Maynard is not quite as forgiving as I am. The July 18-24 edition of Westword features a story by Patricia Calhoun about Maynard and her tiff with the II.
When the II invited Maynard to a "Candidates' Briefing" -- apparently to preserve the fiction that the II actually cares about candidates other than Republicans -- Maynard shot back with a sarcastic reply.
Maynard offered to brief associates of the II at her home. She asked about the II's funding sources. One of the things I like about Maynard is that she rails against corporate welfare. She complains about the "many ways in which Colorado subsidizes real estate development and sprawl."
Maynard also wants voter registration forms to list all qualified political parties. Calhoun also quoted BetteRose Ryan of the LP about the importance of enabling people to register as a member of a smaller party.
On the same page, Westword described the calendar produced by Ryan's Victory in Colorado Now.
Forfeiture Reform Day
A July 1 story by Michele Ames in the Rocky Mountain news reported, "Beginning today, Colorado law enforcement officials will have to change the way they seize and sell a suspected criminal's property. The target of seizure must be convicted of a crime before property can be sold... In addition, the new law redirects how proceeds from seizures are spent. None of the money can be kept by district attorneys or police departments. Now, a portion goes to drug treatment programs around the state and the rest to local governments."
Some of my friends recently reminded me that there are a lot of great things going on in the world around us. Below are a couple of quotes from the July 19 Rocky Mountain News, page 12A.
"Boulder researchers have developed a type of laser that may someday be used to make superfast computer chips and more powerful microscopes... The new Boulder device uses extreme-ultraviolet light..."
"Jenny Rood... aced... the ACT *and* the SAT college entrance exams... [T]he science-minded teen wants a career in genetics... 'It's a new field, and there's a lot left to be discovered,' Rood said. 'I'd like to discover something interesting... I like to figure things out, and I think math is a really nice, concrete way to do that... There's no reason a boy should think he's smarter than you just because he's a boy'."