Freedom Updates: July 24, 2003

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

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.freecolorado.com

Freedom Updates: July 24, 2003

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

Libertarianism for Good Health
Libertarianism is good for your health. This seems like an obvious point -- people who advocate personal responsibility will be more likely to take care of themselves -- but new sociological research also supports the view.

Dr. Raj Persaud wrote a July 14 article for The Scotsman titled "Politics could be bad for your health." Persaud summarizes:

New research from sociologist Dr. William Cockerham and colleagues from the University of Alabama in the United States has found that differences in attitudes to looking after your body and your health are predicted by your political allegiances. It seems those who believe the state should take responsibility for most aspects of life also tend to eschew personal responsibility for taking care of themselves. As a result, they are more likely to engage in lifestyles hazardous to their health, including drinking to excess and not exercising. The just-published research was conducted among Russians, comparing those who longed for a to return to the old-style Soviet system with those who preferred the free-market approach to the economy. Personal interviews with almost 9,000 Russians found significant differences in how much they looked after their own health depending on where they placed themselves on the political spectrum.

However, Persaud notes, "But one of the key reasons Russia and eastern European countries are currently attracting the particular interest of health researchers is that one of the most striking developments in world health today is the recent dramatic decline in life expectancy in these parts of the world." But this finding is consistent with libertarian views: socialism severely undermined personal responsibility, and, whatever it is that has replaced socialism there, it can hardly be said to be a free-market system. World-wide, freer markets are strongly correlated with longevity and good health. Hopefully the health of the culture in Russia, along with the health of the residents, will slowly improve.

But if there is a link between a basically libertarian outlook and better health, why does the reverse not seem to be true? That is, "health nuts" very often are socialists (often Greens). But there is, I think, a strong tension within leftist environmental politics: on one hand, these lefties are severely skeptical of government interference in our personal lives, but on the other hand, they don't see any alternative to government protection of the environment. It is the job of libertarians, then, to convince self-responsible "health nuts" that, deep down, they're really libertarians and that freedom is the best policy for protecting the environment.

The research in Russia is also a challenge. If we claim to be "self-governors," then, damn it, we have to actually take responsibility for our own lives. So take two chapters of Mises and call me in the morning.

[Note: These claims have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. Libertarianism is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Except governmentia. And addiction to OPM, "other people's money."]


LP Fires Crickenberger

The national Libertarian Party fired Ron Crickenberger. That's too bad. I've talked with Ron on a number of occasions, and he's a great guy and a hard worker. He also wrote a fine essay that will be included in the forthcoming book edited by Sheriff Bill Masters. I was sorry to hear the news (reproduced below from a July 16 e-mail). Unfortunately, the national LP seems not to be doing well.

It is my duty to inform you that today, July 15th, was the last day of Ron Crickenberger's employment with the Libertarian National Committee Inc. (National Headquarters) as our Political Director.

Last year, the LNC passed a budget that segregated revenues and expenses into core and project areas.

Core expenses are related to membership administration, accounting, database maintenance, affiliate relationships, inquiry servicing, internal communications (including LP News) and media relations. Core revenues come from membership renewals, new memberships, house letters, pledges, undesignated donations, advertising, mailing list rentals and material sales.

Projects are expected to cover their costs, as well as a small overhead charge to cover core costs related to the management and accounting of expenses and revenues of the projects. Funding is restricted to designated donations.

During the first six months of this year, core revenues have covered core costs, but project revenues have not covered project expenses.

In light of this circumstance, the LNC in its June 28th & 29th meeting in Seattle directed that I was to take necessary steps to bring the project budgets into line with the scope of our current year budget.

Since revenues for projects, including all political activity, have not covered expenses related to projects, I have decided that we cease our employment relationship with Ron Crickenberger.

It is my intention to comply fully with the budget the LNC passed in December 2002. We will do so by spending revenues in excess of expenses related to projects once the revenues are realized. We have asked Ron to be prepared to bid on upcoming projects. We will also be opening the bid process to other parties interested in doing so.

Please direct any questions you may have to me.

Geoffrey Neale
Chair, Libertarian Party

The Limits of Federal Power
The following letter by Steve Gresh was printed July 21 by The Gazette.

In his March 3, 1817 veto of a federal public works bill for constructing roads and canals, President James Madison wrote, "The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers, or that it falls by any just interpretation with the power to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution those or other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States."

In her July 20 letter to the editor, Deborah Reinhardt implores Congress to "fully fund research by the NIH and other governmental programs that are making progress in the fight against diseases that kill millions of Americans every year."

Where in Article I, Section 8 did Ms. Reinhardt find any mention or implication of a power vested in Congress to fund any matters related to health?

Quoting our most recent spendthrift President as justification for her hope that Congress exacerbates its innumerable violations of the Constitution is very amusing indeed. However, such a citation from one more uneducated or disregardful President is wholly insufficient evidence to contradict the original, explicit intent of statements made by the "Father of the Constitution."


The Economic Meddlers
A July 23 release from Treasurer Mike Coffman states:

Today, State Treasurer Mike Coffman convened the first meeting of his task force to review the Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) program. Comprised of representatives from both business and state government, the group received a detailed overview of the program from the Governor's Office of Economic Development (OED), and heard comments from Bob Lee, Director of OED, and David Solin, former Director of OED and former Deputy Treasurer under Bill Owens.

The CAPCO program was originally created by the Legislature in 2001 to spur additional economic development activity across the state. The key element of the program is the provision of $200 million of state tax credits offered to insurance companies. In return for these credits, the insurance companies agree to provide funds to CAPCOs. The first $100 million in credits was distributed in April 2002, and the second is currently scheduled for distribution in April 2004.

Opponents of the CAPCO program argue the grants are little more than a scam in which insurance companies contributing capital are guaranteed a return on their money, plus a credit on their taxes. Meanwhile, the actual CAPCOs accumulate wealth not by investing in businesses, but by taking 5% of the money each year in fees to operate the program.

On the other hand, supporters claim CAPCOs are the only way to persuade insurance companies, which historically do not provide venture capital, to do so. They contend the fees charged by the CAPCOs are quite modest considering the expertise of their managers and the difficulty of identifying legitimately good business ideas and helping those firms convert their idea into a profitable business.

"My goal is to hear from both sides on this issue. Either CAPCOs are to the key to economic development in Colorado, or they are a rip-off to the tax payers," said Coffman. "It's time to sort out those claims and figure out whether the program is accomplishing what it was created to do."

Coffman added that the purpose of the first meeting, in addition to the presentation on how the CAPCO program actually operates, was to hear from those who are critical of the program and think it needs to be either dramatically reformed or scrapped. He indicated that at the next meeting CAPCOs and their supporters would give presentations so the task force could consider all the factors before moving forward with possible recommendations. Coffman scheduled the second meeting for Tuesday, August 26th, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Capitol.

Coffman also indicated the task force would begin to formulate recommendations for the legislature at the third meeting in September. "This is just the beginning of the process as we analyze a very complicated program. However, with another $100 million on the line, we need to make sure this program is delivering on the promises made when it was adopted," said Coffman. "If it isn't, we either need to fix it or abolish it. We have a responsibility to ensure the citizens of Colorado are not being short-changed."

Does anyone seriously wonder why government is fundamentally out of touch with "we the people?" I'm relatively well-educated about politics, and I've never heard of CAPCO before (though perhaps I had nodded off). And thus these discussions are dominated by those who have a direct financial interest in the government's economic meddling. Rather than worry whether "the program is accomplishing what it was created to do," Coffman would better serve the taxpayers by pointing out economic meddling is not an appropriate or useful task of the government. Another lesson here is that only rich special interests can afford to figure out how to avoid high tax rates, which is why taxes are often regressive in practice. The only way to solve this problem is to dramatically lower taxes and government spending.


MPP Update
The Marijuana Policy Project send out the following update July 23.

Today, July 23, the U.S. House of Representatives surprised the nation by voting 152-273 on an amendment that would have prevented the DEA and the U.S. Justice Department from spending any more money to raid and prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers. This is the first time in the history of the country that the full House or Senate has voted on legislation to end the federal government's war on medical marijuana.

Today's vote was closer than anyone had expected, in large part because of the letters that members and allies of the Marijuana Policy Project have been faxing to their U.S. representatives. MPP -- in conjunction with the American Liberty Foundation, Americans for Safe Access, Change the Climate, Drug Policy Alliance, Drug Reform Coordination Network, and the Libertarian Party -- generated tens of thousands of faxes, e-mails, and phone calls to Capitol Hill in the past few days, showing U.S. House members for the first time the collective strength of the medical marijuana grassroots movement.

I want to publicly thank U.S. Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Sam Farr (D-CA) for sponsoring the amendment and giving strong speeches on the House floor yesterday in support of today's vote.


Media Notes

Mack Joins LP -- Richard Mack, former sheriff and contributor to Masters' upcoming book, joined the Libertarian Party recently. Mack, the author of three books, also challenged Brady registrations in court. He's contemplating a run for governor in Utah.

Cato Fights NRA -- A July 21 release from the Cato Institute states, "[T]he facts suggest that Hatch and the NRA are doing everything they can to prevent the Supreme Court from upholding the Second Amendment. Here's the untold story behind the Hatch bill: It was concocted by the NRA to head off a pending lawsuit, Parker v. District of Columbia, which challenges the D.C. gun ban on Second Amendment grounds." The same day, the Washington Post published an article titled, "Pro-Gun Groups Split on Tactics: Cato Institute, NRA Quarrel Over Challenges to D.C. Law."

"Allowed" to Speak? -- A mini-editorial in the July 23 Rocky Mountain News states, "U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co... is asking the Federal Trade Commission if it would be OK to put out an ad recommending a change from cigarettes to something called Revel, described by the Associated Press as 'a tobacco-filled packet, like a tea bag, which consumers suck on.' Unless the government believes the ads are false, it should allow them." How in the hell did we reach the point in this country when we have to beg the government for the right to speak? Hello? First Amendment?

Mayor Cuts Salary -- I just can't help liking John Hickenlooper. As Karen Crummy reports July 24 for the Denver Post, "Mayor John Hickenlooper has chosen to take a 25 percent pay cut, and his new appointees have agreed to earn less than their predecessors." No, I'm not going to agree with the guy on a lot of issues, but taking a cut in pay is a pretty cool thing to do. Now, he makes "only" $92,088 per year. We feel your pain, John.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.freecolorado.com