Freedom Updates: October 4, 2002

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

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Freedom Updates: October 4, 2002

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Social Security Folly
As I have long argued, the Cato Institute and their Republican friends are fools for suggesting Social Security be replaced with mandatory, regulated investment accounts. Now Democrats are actively running against so-called "privatization," and Republicans are running from the issue with tucked tails. See, for instance, stories by Susan Greene and Arthur Kane about Wayne Allard and Bob Beauprez for the October 2 Denver Post.

Greene reports, "Allard says he never favored 'privatization,' which he defines as abolishing Social Security altogether." The Post relates, "Allard co-sponsored two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991 and 1993 that would mandate diverting part of each worker's Social Security taxes to private accounts." The Cato wonks have managed to basically exclude the libertarian perspective from the debate.

Here's what a principled, able politician might say: "We must protect the benefits of everyone now on Social Security. But this failed, fraudulent program is bankrupting our nation and mortgaging the future of our children. Here's my plan for Social Security. First, no new workers will be forced to pay into this Ponzi scheme. Second, every current worker may voluntarily opt-out of Social Security. They don't have to pay the tax, and they don't get the so-called 'benefits.' Third, all promised benefits will be paid, not by raising taxes, but by cutting other government programs or selling off government assets. Once these benefits are paid off, we will finally be rid of this socialistic nightmare laughably called Social Security."

This plan would pay off current recipients, but it would indeed abolish Social Security altogether. Perhaps when Cato remembers it's supposed to be a libertarian think-tank regarding this issue, it will help politicians find the moral and intellectual fortitude to defend free markets.

This is a matter of rights, as much as it is a matter of money. Each person who earns money deserves to spend that money as he or she sees fit. It is flat wrong to force any worker to contribute to any retirement plan whatsoever. Socialist Insecurity is a moral crisis as much as it is a financial disaster.


Armed Samaritan Stops Crime
Jaquie Creazzo is no stranger to crimes involving firearms. In 1994, Creazzo stepped in to rescue a kidnapped woman being raped. The perpetrator shot Creazzo, paralyzing her from the chest down. Then, on November 11, Justin Goetz went to Creazzo's house armed with two handguns and a shotgun. Goetz had dated Creazzo's daughter and was angry about the breakup. Goetz set fire to two cars, fired his gun in the air, and then, according to Creazzo, aimed his gun at her children.

Creazzo could almost be a poster-child for the disarmament lobby.

Except that Creazzo stopped Goetz by firing her 9 millimeter pistol at him, wounding him. Sue Lindsay wrote an article for the October 3 Rocky Mountain News detailing these events.

But if disarmament would have stripped Creazzo of her handgun, might it also have stripped the two criminals of their guns? Probably not. Criminals by definition violate the law. Here in America where many drugs are completely illegal, violent criminal gangs supply them to whoever wants them. Such gangs could also easily supply the criminal market for guns.

Even if it were somehow possible to disarm both victims and criminals, still criminals would become adept at using other weapons such as knives. Victims would still be left at a disadvantage. Guns are the great equalizers. They are tools that help create equality for women, those less physically able, and members of oppressed minorities.

Goetz was sent to prison for 17 years. Judge Frank Plaut said, "If Jaquie Creazzo had not been armed and not used her weapon, the consequences might have been much worse." Creazzo wanted Goetz to go to prison for the maximum sentence of 32 years.

Not surprisingly, Creazzo expresses the libertarian call for personal responsibility: "In the three years I knew [Goetz], I saw someone who was very angry and used his illness to manipulate people around him. Whenever he does something, people say his blood sugar was off. [Goetz has diabetes.] It's about time he takes responsibility for his actions."


Gun Bans Mean More Crime in England
John Lott found that more guns carried concealed by law-abiding Americans resulted in less violent crime. Now Joyce Lee Malcolm has discovered that victim disarmament laws in England have created a crime wave there.

Malcolm wrote Guns and Violence: The English Experience. She also wrote an article for November edition of Reason Magazine. In addition to banning the tools of self-defense, the English government has persecuted those who dare to defend themselves against criminals. Malcolm summarizes: "[T]he English approach has not reduced violent crime. Instead it has left law-abiding citizens at the mercy of criminals who are confident that their victims have neither the means nor the legal right to resist them. Imitating this model would be a public safety disaster for the United States."

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre wrote an article on the same topic for the October edition of America's 1st Freedom. He reports, "In all, the [English] government took 162,000 registered handguns from licensed owners." He continues, "Almost immediately, the level of violence exploded against the newly disarmed population."

Malcolm offers a more complete account of the history, citing the mis-named 1953 Prevention of Crime Act as the point that marked the steady increase in English crime rates. "In the two years following the 1997 handgun ban, the use of handguns in crime rose by 40 percent..."


Drug Czar Offers Mixed Message
"Our goal is not to cope with the drug problem, but to actively reduce substance abuse in our society... The greatest threat is the notion that we ought to give up and simply treat those people who are addicted." That's the ambiguous message of Drug Czar John Walters, according to a Rocky Mountain News story by Mike Patty. Yet a photo caption relates, "Walters highlighted the national drug court initiative that gives some drug offenders options other than jail time."

Jim Kehl of the Denver Post also quoted Walters: "Our intent is to expand federal support for drug courts... President Bush has committed to expand drug treatment funding... by $1.6 billion over the next five years."

What Walters did not say is that he plans to work toward the repeal of prohibition and end the drug war. But for the "czar" to even consider alternatives to the police state is a step in the right direction.

Obviously, this federal money for treatment is an unconstitutional expenditure. And apparently it goes for mandated treatment, rather than voluntary treatment. Patty reports, "Most Coloradans in treatment used marijuana..." That's ridiculous. Those people aren't going to stop smoking marijuana just because the Denver government forces them into "treatment."

According to Patty, Walters said, "We have a responsibility -- as family members, employers, physicians, educators, religious leaders, neighbors, colleagues and friends -- to reach out and help these people... We must find ways to lead them back to drug-free lives." Sheriff Masters offers a similar message in his book Drug War Addiction, though he adds: "Let's try something new, like telling people to accept responsibility for themselves." Walters is starting to talk sense once in a while, but he definitely needs to read the Sheriff's book a few more times and contemplate its message.

Walters said, "Of the 6 million people addicted to drugs, more than half don't believe they have a problem. Denial is part of the disease." Sheriff Masters writes, "The first step to curing any addiction is to admit we have a problem. The drug war doesn't work." Perhaps if he works at it Walters too can overcome his addiction and again lead a productive life.


Letter Writers Address Senate Race
The Rocky Mountain News published two letters October 2 and 3, one praising Senator Allard and one lambasting him for his positions on guns.

M.R. Swenson claims that, "[w]hen asked why he had not voted for the 1999 congressional bill for three-day background checks at gun shows, [Allard] said, 'I think I did'; but, indeed, he hadn't." Finally, according to Swenson, Allard "repeated the gun lobby's stock answer in support of 'instant background checks,' declaring that anything that took longer would be 'unfair to law-abiding citizens'." Instant checks aren't good enough for Swenson, who ridiculously maintains more felons would be prevented from getting guns using three-day checks. In reality, Brady checks strip some law-abiding citizens of their rights, leaving them at the mercy of violent criminals.

What's notable about Swenson's letter is that it assumes the "gun lobby" indeed endorses "instant" gun-owner registration. And Allard believes that "instant" gun-owner registration is somehow superior to registrations that take three days!

Yet Jan Pascoe writes, "I urge the people of Colorado to vote freedom first and return Allard to the Senate."

The two letters demonstrate the massive failure of the NRA to consistently advocate the right to bear arms and to articulate the case against victim disarmament. Contrary to the claims of Swenson, Allard, and the NRA, the real debate is not between "instant" and slow gun registration. The real debate is between gun registration and repealing the Brady law and every other unconstitutional federal gun law.


Market Preservation
The Denver Post editorial board wrote an excellent article October 4 titled "Do-it-yourself preservation." "Instead of expecting government to step in and preserve open space before it's gobbled up by development, some folks are pooling their cash and buying it themselves." The Post describes projects in Longmont and Denver in which residents got together and used their own money to influence land use.

"Too often, gadflys pressure all-too-willing zoning boards and county commissions into changing zoning on particular pieces of land. Some call it preservation. Others call it 'takings.' Either way, the landowner loses."

Wow! The Denver Post -- champion of property rights and the free market! Well, this time, anyway...


Shnelvar, Brooks Make Up
Ralph Shnelvar, the Libertarian candidate for governor, appeared on KBDI public television October 2 and on KBPI radio (106.7 FM) October 3.

Kollen Brooks, the former mayor of Georgetown, is filling in on the hard-rock radio station for a few weeks. Previously, she agreed to be a spokesperson for Shnelvar's campaign but then backed out at a press conference. But she interviewed him on her radio show. Shnelvar said marijuana should be legalized because it has health benefits, hemp production helps the environment, and people have a right to control their bodies. He said war "destroys wealth" and those who claim war can help the economy are simply ignorant of economics. "I want to restore rights," he summarized.

Shnevlar's comments about the television appearance are reproduced below.

Our Friendly Competitors with Reggie Rivers on KBDI-TV

On Wednesday, October 2, 2002 Representatives from the Green Party (Ron Forthofer), the Reform Party (Victor Good), The Natural Law Party (Deanne Drda), and the Libertarian Party (Ralph Shnelvar) met in friendly competition on live call-in TV (KBDI-TV) to discuss our political similarities and differences.

Afterwards, I watched the event on tape. I, Ralph Shnelvar, feel that I outshone my competition. I had a better handle on the issues and answered pointed questions with pointed answers. I handled myself beautifully on health care, campaign finance reform, and general political philosophy.

I set us apart from all our, basically, socialistic competitors. Each of the minor parties, as well as the majors, have their hand out asking for government money to fund their campaigns. I scored moral as well as practical points by pointing out that we don't take government money.

We walk our talk.

Biff Baker Weighs In On War
Biff Baker is perhaps the most credible Libertarian on military issues ever to run for Congress. Here's what he had to say about the potential war in Iraq:

I am against war with Iraq unless we have a U.S. Congress declaration of war --

Secondly, after 10 years of reductions in the military -- I think we would need to rebuild many of our forces prior to an invasion. We lost 45% of our active duty forces and the Navy shrunk from 600 to less than 300 ships.

I think this [is] merely a war of revenge -- not a "just" war.

Libertarian Blues
Let's see -- "Papa Smurf Goes to Washington?" "Blue Libertarian Group?" The possibilities are endless!

One Libertarian candidate has found an innovative way to get media exposure. An AP article carried by the October 3 Denver Post reports, "Montana's Libertarian candidate for Senate has turned blue from drinking a silver solution that he believed would protect him from disease... He made his own concoction by electrically charging a couple of silver wires in a glass of water."

The candidate, Stan Jones, said, "People ask me if it's permanent and if I'm dead. I tell them I'm practicing for Halloween." The AP reports the condition is indeed permanent. Hopefully Libertarian foolishness is transitory.


Media Notes

Blumner Attacks Drug War-- Robyn Blumner, in an article reprinted in the October 1 Rocky Mountain News, writes, "Putting drug users into the criminal justice system is absurd and cruel. But it guarantees full employment for special interests such as law enforcement, the courts and all the ancillary businesses who serve them."

Gaar Potter-- An October 4 story in the Denver Post quotes Gaar Potter, the Libertarian running for state treasurer: "The Libertarian message needs to be heard. Limited government and personal responsibility."

AG No-Show-- The October 4 Rocky Mountain News covered a debate between Attorney General Ken Salazar and his opponents Marti Allbright (R) and Alison "Sunny" Maynard (G). "The race's Libertarian candidate, Dwight Harding, a Longmont lawyer, did not appear at the debate." That's too bad, given that Salazar condemned medical marijuana and supported Amendment 22, putting him on the wrong side of two signature Libertarian issues.

Hans Romer-- Lynn Bartels reports for the October 4 Rocky Mountain News, "Libertarian Hans Romer... said if elected he would introduce a bill to get rid of the state income tax." Romer is running for House District 29. Romer also criticized the foreign policy of sending "troops all over the world to police everybody..."

Sugar Water for Health-- Page 28A of the October 4 Rocky Mountain News lists "Suggestions on how to increase exercise." One suggestion is to "[w]alk to a restroom, soda machine or copy machine on a different floor." A SODA MACHINE? I recently heard a health guru describe soda as "the worst food ever invented by man." I guess you could also increase your exercise by walking an extra block to pick up a carton of cigarettes...

CU Regents-- Flux Neo and James Vance earned press coverage in October 3 stories by Dave Curtin written for the Denver Post. Neo "wants to grant each campus more autonomy and supports elimination of the 'race box' on applications." Vance "advocates distance learning and would like to see a Western Slope campus for CU." (I don't think Mesa State is having any trouble keeping up with demand there.) Neo and Vance are both Libertarians, by the way. That might not be obvious given libertarians want to get government completely out of the education business, yet neither candidate seems to have mentioned that fact. Both candidates were asked their "reasons for running." I can't imagine a libertarian answer other than, "To convert CU to a market institution and thus eliminate my position."

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com