Freedom Updates: July 24, 2003
All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
Libertarianism for Good Health
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
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.
The Limits of Federal Power
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
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.
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.
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.
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.