Freedom Updates: February 6, 2004

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Freedom Updates: February 6, 2004

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


All the Carry, None of the Registration
Peggy Lowe wrote a February 2 story for the Rocky Mountain News titled, "Outrage greets bill to gut concealed-weapons law." Lowe began her column, "A bill that would gut Colorado's concealed-weapons law -- allowing everyone but criminals to carry a gun -- has been introduced by a group of Republican legislators. House Bill 1281 would create an exception to the state's law on carrying a concealed weapon for anyone who hasn't been convicted of a felony. 'I would call this the "reaffirmation of your Second Amendment rights" bill,' said Rep. Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican and one of the bill's 10 sponsors. Gun-control advocates are outraged, and said the measure would end the background checks and training requirements required under last year's concealed-weapons law. 'We have a huge public-safety problem on our hands with this bill,' said Cynthia Stone of Colorado Ceasefire. 'Does that mean you can take a gun into a school? A hidden, loaded gun?'"

So because an ignoramus who favors victim disarmament is "outraged" over the bill, that's what the Rocky emphasizes. Of course, the bill was not met by "outrage" by many gun owners and civil libertarians, who greeted the bill with praise and applause.

And neither does the bill "gut Colorado's concealed-weapons law." A bill to "gut" the carry law would further restrict or prohibit the citizen's right to carry. This bill expands the concealed-carry law.

The Rocky Mountain News could have selected a less biased headline, and it could have asked its reporter to accurately describe the bill without adding her own editorial content. A headline could have fairly noted the outrage of anti-gun activists.

Why Lowe considers Cynthia Stone a credible source is beyond me. You'd think Stone could have glanced at the two-page bill and noticed the line, "A person who carries a concealed handgun... has the same rights and is subject to the same limitations specified in section 18-12-214 as apply to a person who holds a permit to carry a concealed handgun."

Stone could have further bothered to check the content of existing law. 18-12-214 states, "A permit issued pursuant to this part 2 does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun onto the real property, or into any improvements erected thereon, of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school..."

Stone doesn't have a clue what she's talking about, and Lowe didn't bother to question Stone's nonsense.

Of course, the fact that Colorado prohibits responsible adults from carrying a gun into schools does not imply that's a prudent policy. I have an idea: let's poll all the parents of Columbine students who were trapped in the library on the day of the murders, and ask these parents if they wish they had been inside the school carrying a "hidden, loaded gun."


Super Bologna
So I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl, a tight and hard-fought game. But, not wanting to watch MTV's pop-music stupidity, my friends and I popped in a half-hour episode of BBC's The Office, a riotous look at the staff of a fictional paper company's regional office. Now that's quality mass entertainment.

But look what I missed! Janet Jackson flashing her nearly-naked breast for the whole world to see!

My first reaction to hearing the news was a chuckle; my second reaction was a yawn. Who flippin' cares?

Well, the conservatives care. I'm not sure I could name a single conservative columnist in the nation who resisted the urge to comment upon Janet's "bare" (actually partly covered) breast. I guess these conservatives are more concerned about the indecency of a woman's breast than the obscenity of the Republican tax-spending spree.

Patricia Calhoun wrote an excellent piece for the February 5-11 Westword in which she describes the reaction of Focus on the Family, the religious-right group in the Springs. More amusing than the Jackson Extravaganza is the symbiotic relationship between smutty pop stars and prudish Christian fundraisers. Janet got exactly what she wanted -- billions of words printed about her -- and Focus on the Family got a new crusade, with all the media play and dollars that entails. The Madonna Kiss, Janet's Breast -- it's the best reality TV has to offer, man.

I never thought I'd see myself write this, but can't we be just a bit more... European in this respect?

Those who want to take a serious look at sex in America should check out the Boulder Weekly's cover story and Hygeia section for this week.


"Privatized" Tax Funding?
The Independence Institute released an article by Barry Poulson on February 4. Poulson covers some solid economics concerning state-financed education, and he argues vouchers would be an improvement upon the current system.

Poulson writes, "The only 'reform' that would increase efficiency and equity is 'privatization', in which direct subsides are replaced by vouchers that students could use to offset tuition at either private or public higher education institutions. Clearly, there would need to be a transition period in which both private and public institutions have an opportunity to respond as the voucher system replaces the system of direct subsidy to public colleges and universities. The optimal policy would be a gradual period of privatization of higher education in which a voucher system is introduced that could be applied to offset tuition charges at either private or public institutions. 'Privatization' would create a level playing field in which public higher education institutions would have to compete directly with private institutions. Only then would public higher education institutions have an incentive to improve quality and reduce costs of higher education. Colorado citizens would then have the choice to use their voucher to get the best education for the money. The major beneficiaries of this reform would be low-income students."

But Poulson here makes a serious error. A "private" education system is not one that is funded by the state, either directly or through vouchers. A truly privatized college system would simply get the state completely out of the business. In the short term, Poulson is correct that general vouchers are better ("more efficient") than direct welfare transfers to colleges and vouchers limited to state schools. The problem he ignores is that, as "private" colleges start to accept tax funding, they will increasingly become state colleges, subject to the whims of the legislature.

Vouchers are still wealth transfer schemes -- they force unwilling citizens to fund the college educations of others -- and thus they still create economic inefficiencies. Because of the long-term political problems, I'm not convinced general vouchers are an improvement on the current system. The only unequivocal improvement, from a libertarian perspective, is a reduction in government spending on (and government regulation of) colleges.


Bell Attacks TABOR
You'd think a group named after the Liberty Bell would, you know, advocate liberty. But the Bell Policy Center seems concerned mostly with using more government force to transfer wealth.

A February 5 article in the Denver Post relates, "An effort to loosen state constitutional spending restrictions took its first step Wednesday toward November's ballot. Two proposed constitutional amendments drafted by the Bell Policy Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, moved forward during a formal hearing in the secretary of state's office... Bell drafted five proposals to address what it sees as problems with the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which limits spending increases according to a combination of population growth plus inflation."

My wife suggests an alternative name for the group: "Tax 'Em Till They Bleed Policy Center."

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