Freedom Updates: September 14, 2003
All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
I'd love to wear a rainbow everyday
Conservatives on Campus
Of course, neither side will state the obvious: the only reason this is a political debate is that colleges are affiliated with the government. In a free-market system of education, the leaders of specific colleges would set hiring policy -- and they couldn't force the unsympathetic to pay the bill. Of course, voluntary groups would still be free to try to persuade college officials (and their donors) to hire more conservatives (or whatever).
But God forbid the Republicans argue in favor of free markets. The great irony, of course, is that, with few exceptions, today's Republicans don't even qualify as conservatives. At least real conservatives have some sort of intellectual bearing.
To read more, see Affirmative Action for Conservatives?
Why Prostitutes are Easy Targets
But why, exactly, are prostitutes easy targets? The answer is obvious: politicians have driven the practice into the black market. The woman who says she was attacked by White "was arrested on Colfax Avenue for prostitution while knowing she was HIV positive," Mitchell reports. This lack of health control is another result of criminalizing prostitution. Yet another problem is that men who illegally hire prostitutes often park near or on other people's property, then toss the condom out the window. Gross.
If prostitution were legal, almost all prostitution would be run indoors with security and health screening. Street walkers would virtually disappear. (Indeed, if street prostitution were made illegal, the legal houses would be the primary enforcers of keeping their competitors off the streets.)
On the other hand, if prostitution were legal, busy-body pseudo-moralists could no longer pretend they are self-righteous, even as their policies result in women being raped, beaten, and murdered.
To read more, see Prostitution and Liberalism.
Expanded CBI Checks?
In turn, I came up with a number of questions for the writers at the News.
1. Is there any reason to believe that there currently exists a problem? The News reports "in 2001, ATF inspected only 138 dealers of the 1,900 registered in Colorado." You seem to assume this implies a dangerous laps of police responsibility. Another theory is that searching through the records of licensed gun dealers, without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, is a useless waste of police resources. You have given no reason to suspect the first theory is superior to the second.
2. What exactly would the CBI be looking for, and how might this help reduce violent crimes?
3. Why is there a possible difference between the CBI's ability to search through handgun records, but not long-gun records?
4. Why should a state agency be asked to enforce federal law? Is the ATF inept or are its resources inadequate? If so, isn't that a reason to fix the ATF?
5. You report, "Finally, the audit points out that no one - neither the CBI nor the ATF - is doing inspections at gun shows." But aren't law enforcement agents present at every gun show? Is there any reason to believe they aren't doing their jobs? Is there any reason to believe that searching through purchase records will stop people from breaking the law (i.e., not generating those records to begin with)?
6. Is there any reason to believe that CBI records checks will be a more useful expenditure of limited police resources than, say, pursuing open criminal investigations?
7. Are you concerned about any fairness issues? Is it just to allow state agents, without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion, to rifle through the records of businesses? Is it possible this power could be abused?
8. Is there any reason to believe that searching the records of licensed dealers and people willing to register their gun purchases will have any impact whatsoever on the criminal gun market or on instances of violent crime?
9. How did it occur at Colorado's second-largest newspaper that a news article and editorial were published on the matter without answering any of the above questions, or even mentioning them?
Hasta La Vista, Arnold
Social Security Reform?
Unfortunately, Kerry also suggested rich people might pay more into the system. Kerry said, "The contract, in my judgment, is sacrosanct between generations." But Social Security never was a "contract." It was always a forced Ponzi scheme, in which the first recipients made out like bandits and my generation will get completely screwed. Indeed, given the anticipated payer to recipient ratio, the program threatens to destabilize the entire U.S. government. If you boomers think we're going to work as slaves and see the economy run into the ground to keep you in the money, you'd better think again. Something will give, it's just a matter of when and how, and the change will be a lot more dramatic that what Kerry suggests.
I'll again summarize a plan that would actually reduce the pain without leaving anybody destitute. Means-testing the system would be wonderful. It's just stupid that poor young people are subsidizing rich old people. Everybody now in the system would continue to get their benefits, but the pay-out age would increase at a steady clip for new recipients. That step alone, raising the pay-out age, would eventually solve the problem and finally end this horrifying socialist program. Another possible step is to allow everyone to choose to opt out of the system. They don't have to pay the tax anymore, and they get no benefits from the program.
Drug War Follies
In Colorado, according to an August 15 story in the Denver Post by Howard Pankratz, "Colorado law enforcement officers can use fake or 'ruse' checkpoints to ferret out drug dealers and drug users, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, even though real drug checkpoints are unconstitutional... In this case, officers posted signs on a road leading to Telluride warning that a drug checkpoint lay ahead, and hid nearby. They watched to see if anyone suddenly turned around or appeared to toss drugs or drug paraphernalia out a window."
See how lucky we are? Around the nation, the war on drugs has turned some police officers into drug-dealing gangsters. Here in Colorado, at least recently, the war on drugs has merely turned some police officers into pathetic liars.
Meanwhile, Brian Crecente reports for the August 23 Denver Post, "Police say the gang members [in GKI], who once focused on selling drugs, now make most of their money trafficking in firearms." The black market in drugs created by prohibition is fueling American violence. Some day, the drug war will be recognized, along with the Inquisition and the witch trials, as one of history's most insane ideas.
Boston Joins Free State Project
One year ahead of schedule, America's fastest-growing liberty movement has just crossed a rubicon. This week Colorado author and privacy activist Boston T. Party became the 5,000th person to join the Free State Project, an organization working to concentrate 20,000 liberty-minded voters in one state. Their aim is to help reduce the size and scope of government there, making it a beachhead for individual liberty: The "Free State." "It is my pleasure to formally join," says Party, author of "Boston's Gun Bible" and "You and the Police." "Start packing your bags... We're all gonna be neighbors!"
Boston isn't the first public figure to become involved. Other notables in the movement include New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson (R) and syndicated columnist Vin Suprynowicz. But Boston's decision to join triggers both crucial events and warm responses. "Boston T. Party was a favorite author of mine long before the Free State Project, " says FSP Vice Pres. Elizabeth McKinstry, "and it's thrilling to see the synergy between Boston and the FSP blossom in this way."
Having reached the 5,000 mark, the Project is now required by charter to select a state. Over the next month, members will vote by mail to choose between ten candidates: VT, NH, ME, MT, ND, SD, WY, ID, AK and DE. The winner will likely become their eventual home, though members are officially pledged to move only if their numbers reach 20,000. Individuals wishing to participate in the state vote have until August 15 to join the FSP. Ballots are due Sept. 22, and (drumroll) the winning state will be announced on October 1, 2003. In the meantime, Party says he's nearing completion on a novel he started in 1997: "Molon Labe!" The topic? Thousands of liberty lovers try to establish a Free State!
Littleton Grocery Tax
Of course, the Littleton effort was inspired in part by the unsuccessful effort in Montrose. A September 2 letter to the Denver Post by Tim Jacobs states, "As a Libertarian who was actively involved in the recent election regarding sales taxes on groceries in Montrose, I appreciated your editorial stance on the issue as it relates to Littleton. Sales taxes on groceries, no matter where levied, are regressive and unconscionable. I would like to clear up one misconception, though. Property taxes in Montrose would not have been needed to replace sales tax revenue lost if the initiative had passed; Montrose's revenues have been and continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Indeed, TABOR would have required voter approval to impose a property tax. A small measure of fiscal discipline would have been required, yes, and admittedly, that's a concept sorely lacking in Montrose city government."
Unbelievably Stupid Postal Socialists
Let's ignore, for a moment, the profound implications for civil liberties. Is the USPS doing so well that it can afford to alienate a huge segment of its client base? It's not as if there are no other options these days.
Nevertheless, Coffman's e-mail reports contain some useful information. He sent out the following notes on August 20:
Amendment 32... proposes to repeal the Gallagher Amendment and increase the taxable portion of residential property from the current level of 7.96 percent to 8.00 percent beginning with 2005 property taxes.
Coffman notes Amendment 32 would help businesses "by lowering the disparate rate of taxes assessed on business property." On the other hand, residential taxes will increase.
I don't understand the origins of the initiative well enough to describe exactly what it's supposed to accomplish or what groups it will help. Offhand, though, the debate seems pointless. We either pay taxes directly, on our residential property, or we pay taxes indirectly, through our purchases. To me, this misses the point entirely. A tax on property means you never really own your property: you have to pay off the state every year, or the state will send men with guns to throw you off the property. While some argue land taxes are less onerous than other types of taxes, I believe they are fundamentally corrosive, and they foster the mentality that the state is omnipresent. There is literally no place you can be that is not owned in some manner by the state. The real issue is not whether property taxes should be shifted from businesses to residential land, but rather how property taxes can be reduced, ultimately to zero, ideally.
Coffman also sent along some notes on September 3 about a strange political "investment" arrangement:
The Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) program was meant to create jobs through encouraging small business growth, particularly in rural areas. However, it appears Colorado went down the wrong path when it adopted the program. Actual investments through the program have not even begun to approach the amount of money the state has lost in the form of tax credits, and the benefit to rural Colorado remains questionable. Unfortunately, one unintended consequence of the TABOR Amendment is that it is impossible for the legislature to repeal the program without approval from voters.
More on Sex and the Law
Armstrong writes, "I think it's possible to have the best of both worlds: a federal government with the power to check the tyranny of state governments, but with little power to do anything else." In other words. Armstrong agrees the federal government is dangerous, and is therefore also leery, as I am, of giving it more power, but he thinks maybe we can limit the grant of power so that the feds have the power to veto bad state laws, but not the power to trample rights or balloon in size.
Certainly I take Kinsella's arguments with great seriousness. However, to me, the most important matter is, today, given the Fourteenth Amendment generally is interpreted broadly, should libertarians attempt to fit the measure to liberty, or should they attempt to downplay it? The answer to this question is not at all obvious to me. Nor is it obvious that competition among libertarians on this point is something to fear.
A Curious Investment
"Investment," eh? An "investment" is when a person or group delays short-term consumption, in order to redirect resources to the production of capital goods, so as to increase future consumption. That's investment.
Something rather different is going on with the city of Denver. The city political machine told the bottling company the city would transfer slightly less money from the bottler to the city, if only the bottler would stay in the area. That's not an investment. A more accurate term might be something like "savvy expropriation" or "negotiable expropriation." Ah, the joys of political competition: businesses get to shop around to find the city that will demand the least pay-off money.
Political Investments, Part II
I'm not sure which word pisses me off the most: "their" or "investment." Obviously, this money did not belong to legislators, it belonged to taxpayers. Some of it belonged to me. And I wanted no part of Praco's advertising adventure. So let us reword Blevins' comments for increased accuracy: "Praco's strategy is being closely watched by budget-crunching legislators eager for big political returns on the money they forcibly confiscated from others and spent to promote specific Colorado businesses."
Unlike the case of negotiated tax policy above, advertising really can be part of an investment. Specifically, advertising creates knowledge about a specific line of products -- in this case, tourist services in Colorado -- which can, on net, improve wealth. Colorado tourism businesses are perfectly free to pool their resources in order to advertise their services. Unfortunately, they instead chose to use the force of the state to compel others to promote their interests. Thus, whether or not this results in more tourism dollars or more tax revenues, the corporate welfare will not, on net, increase wealth. It merely redistributes wealth from the politically unconnected to a particular political interest group, with a net loss of value. So, again, there is nothing about this that counts as an "investment" in the economic sense.
Of course, it was the Republicans, led by Bill Owens, who fought to take this money away from people by force and redistribute it as corporate welfare.
Wal-Mart Dirty Deal?
Allan Ojala, "one of the owners of the Columbine West Medical Office Building at 5394 Marshall St.," told Francis, "I think what they're (AURA) construing as the public good is false... [They] want to take this land and give it to a private enterprise..."
I'm not aware of subsequent developments in the story. I hope libertarians local to the area can help the land owners defend their property rights.