Freedom Updates: June 26, 2003

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Freedom Updates: June 26, 2003

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Supremes Rule on Race, Sex, and Porn
The Supreme Court hasn't been this exciting since I can't remember when. It has said the federal government can take our money by force, then give that money to government-run libraries on the condition that they use "filter" software to keep patrons from looking at bad stuff on the internet. Of course, this avoids the fundamental question of why the federal government should be in the library business to begin with. If we had a real Supreme Court, one that actually gave a damn what the Constitution says, the justices would tell the feds to quit stealing that money in the first place. I just re-read through Article I, Section 8, and no mention is made of libraries. Article Ten of the Bill of Rights would seem to reserve the matter "to the States... or to the people."

The same goes for colleges. Running or in any way influencing education is simply not a matter for the national government. Thus, the Supreme Court's ruling about affirmative action is simply beside the point.

What about the sex case? The Supremes struck down a Texas law that provides criminal penalties for having sex. If you both happen to be male. It's possible to justify such a decision on Fourth Amendment grounds, or as a combination of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. The fundamental difference between this decision and the other two is that at least in the sex case the justices are defending individual rights. In the other cases they are defending illegitimate national powers.

At least Justice Thomas adopted acceptable reasoning in his dissent. According to a June 26 AP story by Anne Gearan, "Thomas wrote separately to say that while he considers the Texas law at issue 'uncommonly silly,' he cannot agree to strike it down because he finds no general right to privacy in the Constitution." Thomas wrote, "Punishing someone for expressing his sexual preference through noncommercial consensual conduct with another adult does not appear to be a worthy way to expend valuable law enforcement resources." But if getting arrested for having sex does not constitute an unreasonable seizure and an insecurity in one's home, I don't know what possibly could.


Mike Coffman Supports More Corporate Welfare
Mike Coffman's "Treasur-E-Notes," Vol. 4, Issue 25, June 25 (a.k.a. Coffman's Corporate Welfare Report) suggests he has firmly turned away from his potential free-market base and sought support with those sucking at the government tit.

Previously I reported that Coffman supports outright subsidies for select businesses. Put another way, he promotes taking money by force from some Colorado citizens and giving it to others (who are likely to support him in his run for governor).

His latest proposal is not so egregious an offense, but it does reaffirm Coffman sees an active role for state intervention in the economy. The title of his release is, "Stimulating Small Business Growth," as if the state can do anything other than suck funds out of the economy.

Here's much of Coffman's release:

State Treasurer Mike Coffman together with Milroy Alexander, Executive Director of the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), announced today that they have signed an agreement to help Colorado small business owners, farmers and ranchers obtain the financing they need to grow their businesses, and to retain and create jobs....

According to Coffman, limited access to loans for buying equipment or financing their operations is the single greatest impediment to the growth of most small businesses. To assist small businesses in overcoming this obstacle, under the agreement signed today, Coffman will invest $5 million in CHFA bonds.... The U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Rural Business Cooperative Service guarantee these loans.

"The partnership between CHFA and the State Treasury is a huge win for all of us here in Colorado. Most critically, it will provide a tremendous boost to small businesses throughout Colorado," stated Coffman. "When the state can provide additional capital for Colorado businesses, I believe we exponentially impact the state's economy through jobs and the spin-off from the spending of those wages in local communities."

The bonds the Treasurer will purchase are general obligation bonds issued by CHFA, with the principal payments additionally supported by the pledge of federally-guaranteed loan participations so there is no risk of loss of principal to the state. The bonds will yield a rate of return seventy-five basis points (0.75%) higher than seven-year U.S. Treasury bonds, which is an attractive return for the state on such a low-risk investment.

Based on the historic performance of the QIC and QAL Programs, this round of financing could result in the retention or creation of 600 jobs in Colorado.

Initially, Coffman and CHFA proposed a Treasury investment of $100 million over ten years. "Unfortunately, due to the legislature's continuing raids on the cash and trust funds I manage, the Treasury does not have at this time the resources necessary to make a long-term commitment of this magnitude. We modified the original proposal to allow me to evaluate the program's success and the state's financial ability to participate on a year-to-year basis. However, given this programs benefits for the economy of Colorado and the attractive rate of return the Treasury will earn on its investment, I will make every effort to continue the program in future years." Coffman stated.

Coffman's comments prove that, in terms of a basic understanding of the economy, he's an idiot. The government does not "retain" or "create" jobs by redistributing wealth. It merely makes some people better off at the expense of other people, and it creates general inefficiencies that make us worse off on net.

And "limited access to loans" is NOT "the single greatest impediment to the growth of most small businesses." Rather, the single greatest impediment is the bureaucratic and tax nightmare going into business guarantees.

Of course, there is a grain of truth to Coffman's claims: small businesses often rely on loans to expand. But universal expansion of (politically-favored) businesses is not good economics. On the market, the amount available for loans is determined by the amount people are willing to invest, and the interest rate serves as a mechanism to equalize investments and loans. The type of artificial "stimulation" Coffman supports is necessarily inefficient (especially because the money is handed out by politically-interested bureaucrats), and it only leads to costly readjustments in the future.

There is only one positive move politicians can make to free up investment dollars, and that is to cut state spending. Anything else is a sham and a con job.

If it falls to the Treasurer to invest state funds, his or her sole priority is to maximize returns, not to play politics with our money. However, I see little reason for this. If the goal is to have an emergency "cash fund," then tying up the money in long-term investments is contrary to that goal. If the state has more money than is needed for emergencies, it should return that money to its owners, the taxpayers, who can choose to spend or invest it as they see fit.


The Cure for Fake Cops
A June 20 story by Hector Gutierrez for the Rocky Mountain News reports, "Two Denver motorists may have been stopped Thursday by someone impersonating a policeman, a day after a man posing as an officer stopped a driver in Aurora. Metro-area police have been investigating a rash of reports from motorists in the last several weeks that impostors driving unmarked vehicles are stopping them. The vehicles usually are equipped with red or blue strobe lights flashing on dashboards or on the sides of the vehicles."

The cure for this problem is well-known and, by now, completely obvious. It is also apparent that the cure will not be adopted, because it would prevent police departments from bilking citizens out of their money.

Wayne Laugesen wrote a justifiably angry article about this matter for the Boulder Weekly, titled "The Lacy Law lie."

Laugesen writes, "Lacy Law's a worthless insult to the memory of Lacy. A meaningful law -- one that honestly prevents crimes involving monsters that pose as police -- would regulate cops." He goes on to describe the murder of a young woman by a man posing as a police officer. He also explains why merely increasing the criminal penalties for impersonating a police officer, as the legislature did, is a worthless move: "Bad guys who impersonate cops in order to commit violent felonies aren't terribly concerned with the cost of a misdemeanor that helps them do it."

Laugesen concludes, "[W]e need a law that keeps law enforcement agencies in Colorado from using undercover vehicles and non-uniformed cops for reasons other than undercover felony investigations. If we forbid police departments from using unmarked cars for traffic matters and other routine enforcement, crimes such as Clausen's [the killer] will be nearly impossible to commit because victims won't be fooled."

Ah, but see, the police WANT to fool people. They'd rather use undercover cars to write speeding tickets than use marked cars to deter speeding. Even if that means young women are put in greater danger of being tortured, raped, and murdered by psychopaths.

Meanwhile, if you are pulled over by an unmarked car, pull over only in a bright public area, then keep your doors locked and your windows rolled up until you can verify the identity of the person who pulled you over.


Media Notes

Prison for Unauthorized Spending-- According to the June 20 Rocky, former football star Mike Harden will spend six years in prison because "he violated the terms of his original sentence." Specifically, he "spent money at unauthorized places" and "had two outside bank accounts." His original crime was stealing $64,500 from two women. I'm all for forcing the guy to pay back that money. But sending him to prison for buying stuff? All that means is that taxpayers will have to spend far more than the value of his crime keeping the idiot locked up. I fail to see the justice in that.

Ashcroft's Endocannabinoids -- An interesting letter from Dr. Robert Melamede of CU, Colorado Springs appeared in the June 20 Rocky: "The federal government appears to be unable to get sound scientific advice from the peer-reviewed professional literature regarding medical marijuana. I am concerned. I see two choices. They are incompetent or they have an agenda that overrides their concern for suffering citizens. All aspects of our health are regulated by the marijuanalike compounds known as endocannabinoids. Every time U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft gets hungry his body makes endocannabinoids that give him the munchies. If he had a stroke -- or, simply, as he ages -- they help protect his brain from damage. If he had a heart attack, they would help repair his heart. They protect him from pain. They protect him from immune disorders. If he is lucky enough to get by with what his body produces, why does he deny those who need more of what he uses every day?"

Rest in Peace, Uris -- Leon Uris died this past week. I've read only two of his many novels -- Exodus and Mila 18 -- and both are well-crafted stories with profound historical insight. Mila 18 is surely the single greatest story ever written about the Warsaw Uprising.

A Novel Murder -- A June 25 story in the Denver Post relates, "Before his wife was shot to death and her body put in the trunk of her car, Hal Hebert lent a friend a novel called 'Everybody Dies' in which a murder victim is placed in a car trunk." What? No effort to sue the publisher, as happened with Hit Man?

Smoking Ban Ban -- The June 25 Post also reports, "Denver's proposed smoking ban... appears to have little chance of being approved by the incoming council." I really, really hate smoking. But I hate smoking bans even more. The issue is property rights. Smoking policy is a matter for property owners and their guests, not for politicians.

Judge Quits Unjust System -- A June 24 AP story reports, "A federal judge [John S. Martin] said Tuesday he is quitting what he called an unjust criminal justice system, fed up with Congress' quest to boost prison sentences and prevent judges from deciding how long someone is imprisoned." Unfortunately, the replacement will probably not have the same ethical standards.

Forced Vaccinations -- World Net Daily published a disturbing article reporting how a Grand Junction family was forced a gun point to have their newborn baby vaccinated. A social "service" worker allegedly told the parents they could lose custody of their child if they didn't comply. Reportedly, tests erroneously listed the mother as positive for hepatitis B, which prompted the use of force against the family.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.freecolorado.com