Freedom Updates: March 31, 2004

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

The Colorado Freedom

Freedom Updates: March 31, 2004

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

Tancredo Turns Left
Congressman Tom Tancredo, once the leader of Colorado's most prominent free-market think-tank, now spends much of his energy trying to destroy free markets.

Much has been made recently of Dick Lamm's attempted take-over of the Sierra Club. Lamm and other candidates for the organization's board want to use "environmentalism" as a club to beat back immigration. Tancredo's arguments against free labor markets bear an uncanny resemblance to the so-called "environmentalist" case.

According to the March 30 Rocky Mountain News, Tancredo recently said he wants a "trade policy that enables Americans to export their goods and services, not their jobs." The News notes the irony of Tancredo following John Kerry's anti-market ideology.

Here's why "outsourcing" is good. If companies can produce certain goods and services less expensively elsewhere, that means a comparative advantage exists, and the world as a whole is wealthier when different regions specialize in what they're best at. This provides less expensive goods and services to American consumers. It increases global trade, which helps U.S. exports, and creates more stable, more peaceful relations with other nations. Yes, there can be some short-term transitional pains as Americans turn to higher-valued work, but the net result is higher standards of living.

Only an economic illiterate or a political demagogue pretends outsourcing is fundamentally related to unemployment. Instead, institutional unemployment (i.e., the amount of unemployment above the normal amount of seeking better jobs that always goes on in a healthy economy) is caused purely by political meddling in the economy. The political causes are many: minimum wage laws, welfare misincentives, high labor regulatory costs, high labor tax rates, etc.

Paper Ballot Draft
Albin Kolwicz has distributed a draft "caucus resolution" he hopes will inspire political adoption:

WHEREAS trustworthy elections are basic to democracy,

WHEREAS trustworthy elections require that each vote is anonymous, secure, verified by the voter and counted as intended by the voter,

WHEREAS paperless voting machines make it impossible for us to verify that our votes are correctly recorded,

WHEREAS paperless voting machines make it impossible to prove that each vote is correctly counted,

WHEREAS a receipt printer on a paperless voting machine would not solve these problems because the printed votes can be different than the votes stored in the machine, and because the printed votes would rarely be counted,

WHEREAS accurate re-counting requires that the votes on the original paper ballots be examined and counted, and that the people doing the re-counting do not know the results from a previous count,

WHEREAS failure to conduct trustworthy elections opens the door to undetectable errors and fraud and destroys voter confidence,

THEREFORE, we voters want to hand mark, or machine mark, our votes onto full-ballot-text paper ballots, to check our votes before we cast them, and to have physical proof that every ballot is accounted for and that every vote is correctly understood and counted.

Colorado's State Budget
The Rocky Mountain News provided one of the more helpful overviews of Colorado state budget on March 30. Drawing on information provided by the Joint Budget Committee, the News noted that, between cash funds, federal funds, and the "general fund," Colorado's annual proposed budget is $14.2 billion, up 4.4% ($605 million) from 2003-4. (The population of Colorado is around 4.5 million, so the state spends around $3,000 for every man, woman, and child. Counties and cities spend yet more.)

Out of the $5.8 billion general fund comes spending for K-12 education ($2.5 billion), health care ($1.25 billion), higher education ($592 million), corrections ($497 million), human services ($465 million), and judicial ($220 million).

Government Schools Promote Big Government
Terrance Carroll is one of my favorite Democrats -- he has a strong commitment to civil rights. I was disappointed, though, with a clip from his March 29 "Legislative Update."

Carroll writes, "I visited with the Martin Luther King Middle School social studies students and their teacher, Mr. Price, on March 18, 2004. The class first contacted me in December 2003 with letters stating concerns they wanted to see addressed through legislation. Their letters were filled with ideas that included; stronger punishments for drunk drivers and child abuse. The students wanted to see laws requiring parents to attend night school, and to promote healthier life styles such as helping smokers to stop smoking. These students are making two important distinctions: they are identifying problems and then finding solutions to those problems."

Unfortunately, Carroll has failed to make the important distinction between pandering for political points and legislating responsibly. And the students have failed to distinguish between social goods and good government.

Let us leave aside the matter of criminal sentencing, which I somehow doubt was treated at an appropriate level of sophistication by the children but which nevertheless is open to reasonable debate. What is this about forcing adults to attend school? Forcing citizens to fund the promotion of "healthier lifestyles" and the discouragement of smoking? Such proposals are socialistic in nature.

The children who made such proposals apparently give little thought to the proper restraints of state power. They apparently have little concern with a government that micromanages its subjects' lives. They apparently confuse good ends with government projects. They are encouraged by their government-school teacher to think that "democracy" can and should take on any social issue -- a mindset that tends to push out concerns about individual rights and the abuse of power. But, as I've recently argued, government schools are institutionally biased in favor of the state.

Affirmative Action Stays
The Colorado Progressive Coalition (CPC) posted March 26, "You might want to remember this one because it doesn't happen very often: the Colorado State Senate produced a rare victory for civil rights today! Senate Bill 194, the misnamed 'Colorado Civil Rights Act' sponsored by conservative State Senator Ed Jones (R-Colorado Springs), would have ended all affirmative action programs in Colorado, including public college and university admissions, state employment, and contracting."

My response: Yawn. CPC is quite correct that Jones' bill was misnamed. It had nothing to do with civil rights. Instead, it concerned itself with how wealth is redistributed in Colorado. There's no such thing as a "civil right" to tax dollars. For the same reason, CPC is off the mark in describing the defeat of 194 as a "victory for civil rights." Meanwhile, the underlying rights violations -- taking money from people by force to fund projects outside the proper scope of government -- remain ignored by both parties.

In other legislative news, the senate killed 1078 by a surprisingly wide margin -- 21-14. Should we be grateful that the legislature declined to further endanger our rights?

Department of Waste
Ann Imse wrote a remarkable story for the March 31 Rocky Mountain News. She reports, "The Department of Energy program to compensate sick nuclear weapons plant workers has cost $74 million of taxpayers' funds -- and only one worker has been paid. That one person in Washington state has received $15,000."

$70 million here, $70 million there, what the hell.

Live and Let Live in Wyoming
Recently I wondered how much the religious right controls Wyoming. In a March 29 story in the Denver Post, Eric Gorski hinted at a strong live-and-let-live attitude. Casper is home to a female Jewish mayor and a gay council member. The councilor, Guy Padgett III, told Gorski, "By and large, the people of Casper want to judge you based on your accomplishments and contributions rather than any sort of preconceived idea of what someone should or shouldn't be." Sounds pretty good to me.

The Colorado Freedom