Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Taxation’ Category

Confused Man Crashes Plane

In Communism, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Media, People in the news, Protest, Taxation, US Government on February 18, 2010 at 8:56 pm

A Confused Man

This morning, a confused man named Joseph Andrew Stack, crashed a plane into a building in Austin, Texas that housed IRS offices.

The man, before crashing his privately-owned plane, wrote a message on his website, which is now being called the Stack Manifesto.  In reading this manifesto, one can see just how absolutely confused this man was.

It seems that most blogs and message boards have been focusing on this man’s ideology, which is quite hard to pin-point.  He appears to oppose heavy taxation while also supporting government involvement in healthcare.  He displays a clear hatred for big government, big business, and big unions alike.  And the last two lines of his manifesto seem to imply that he considered communism a lesser evil than capitalism.

His mixture of libertarian, communist, populist, and socialist sympathies, thus, make it impossible to pinpoint the man.

With that said, he does nevertheless present some reasonable comments about problems faced in our society.  The problem, again, is that the man is clearly confused; thus, he conflates things that oughtn’t be conflated, and he often errs in the direction of his rhetorical attacks.

The man’s confusion was manifested this morning in his suicide-as-protest, when he crashed into a building with IRS offices.

People Matter

Unfortunately, the online news media fail to focus on the most important issue: was anyone killed?

I’ve searched through a variety of articles, and yet few present any information regarding whether anybody (other than Stack himself) died in the crash.  I finally found what I was looking for from Channel 8 News in Austin.

It appears that one person (other than Stack himself, presumably) died in the crash, and thirteen others were injured.  It also appears that Stack lit his house on fire this morning with his family still inside; luckily, they escaped.

Illiberalism

In my opinion, this is more than enough information to completely condemn Stack for his deed, just as the The Humble Libertarian blog does:

As the Editor-in-Chief of The Humble Libertarian, I unequivocally and without qualification, condemn this brutal, senseless, and stupid act of violence.  As a libertarian, I am incensed that Joe Stack took it upon himself to take innocent lives in the name of less government spending and lower taxes.

The writer makes it clear that Stack is not a libertarian, writing, “Libertarianism emphasizes non-coercion, non-aggression, and peaceful coexistence among people.”

Actions speak louder than words, and even if Stack’s rhetoric had been 100% in line with plumb-line libertarianism (which, obviously, it was not), his actions would necessarily belie his words.

This is not to say that we cannot or should not have sympathy for what Stack went through.  We most definitely should.  But his experiences do not justify the actions he took.

Had it been the case that Stack had crashed his privately-owned plane into an unoccupied government building, I would be whistling a very different tune right now.  I would actually be praising Stack for his brave act of defiance.  But, sadly, Stack cannot be cheered, for he is a murderer, and thus unworthy of praise.

A Libertarian Critique

A proper libertarian understanding of justice can illuminate just how problematic Stack’s actions ultimately were.  In order to evaluate Stack’s actions, let us consider the views promoted by the libertarian anarchist Murray N. Rothbard in his 1982 book, The Ethics of Liberty.

Although Rothbard defends the concept of using force defensively, i.e., using force to repel aggression (where aggression is defined as the initiation of force or fraud), he is very clear that responsive force is only ethical if it is in proportion to the force to which it is responding.  On page 85, Rothbard provides a very clear description of the limits of responsive force:

[U]nder libertarian law, capital punishment would have to be confined strictly to the crime of murder.  For a criminal would only lose his right to life if he had first deprived some victim of that same right.  It would not be permissible, then, for a merchant whose bubble gum had been stolen, to execute the convicted bubble gum thief.  If he did so, then he, the merchant, would be an unjustifiable murderer, who could be brought to the bar of justice by the heirs or assigns of the bubble gum thief.

The news report does not make it clear whether the persons who were killed or injured were all IRS agents or not, nor even whether they were all government employees.  Thus, while taxation is certainly and undeniably a form of theft, it would be impermissible to kill the IRS agents as retribution for their crime.  For, in so doing, Stack became an aggressor.

Perhaps we need not even go this deeply into analysis, however, for remember, Stack lit his house on fire with his family inside.  Unless it turns out that every member of his family that was inside of the house happened to be a murderer, Stack had clearly engaged in attempted murder of innocent people even before setting foot on his plane.  He was, thus, a criminal by libertarian standards, and one even more dastardly than those criminals we call IRS agents, who, by and large, at least aren’t murderers.

It is quite clear, therefore, that Stack did not care who he killed in his strive to retaliate, and even if people who have never worked a day in their lives for the state apparatus happened to be in the building at the time of the crash, Stack’s attitude was apparently, “So what?”

This brings us back to Rothbard, who wrote on pages 189 through 190,

[I]f Jones finds that his property is being stolen by Smith, Jones has the right to repel him and try to catch him, but Jones has no right to repel him by bombing a building and murdering innocent people or to catch him by spraying machine gun fire into an innocent crowd.  If he does this, he is as much (or more) a criminal aggressor as Smith is.

The same criteria hold if Smith and Jones each have men on his side, i.e. if “war” breaks out between Smith and his henchmen and Jones and his bodyguards.  If Smith and a group of henchmen aggress against Jones, and Jones and his bodyguards pursue the Smith gang to their lair, we may cheer Jones on in his endeavor; and we, and others in society interested in repelling aggression, may contribute financially or personally to Jones’s cause.  But Jones and his men have no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of their “just war”: to steal others’ property in order to finance their pursuit, to conscript others into their posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of their struggle to capture the Smith forces.  If Jones and his men should do any of these things, they become criminals as fully as Smith, and they too become subject to whatever sanctions are meted out against criminality.  In fact if Smith’s crime was theft, and Jones should use conscription to catch him, or should kill innocent people in the pursuit, then Jones becomes more of a criminal than Smith, for such crimes against another person as enslavement and murder are surely far worse than theft.

Conclusion

Joseph Stack acted unethically.  While we can sympathise with his struggles, we cannot, if we are libertarians, condone his aggressive, anti-social acts.

Although I would like to see revolution, it cannot be achieved with the methods employed by the confused Stack.  If we want to see positive change, nonviolent civil disobedience is a far better method, both tactically and ethically.  If there is one thing I sincerely believe, it is that there is something in the nature of the universe that prevents aggression (i.e., the initiation of physical force or fraud) from ever yielding the desired results.  If we fight the state using aggression, the unintended consequence will not only be that we will become the very thing we hate, it will also be that we will drive away public support for our noble cause.  But in using nonviolent civil disobedience, we force the state to show the guns it is holding, we force it to stop hiding that the entire state apparatus is built on violence.

Murdering an IRS agent will never solve the problems we face.  It won’t bring an end to taxation, and it certainly won’t help to convince other IRS agents that their occupation is unethical.  But if we use nonviolent civil disobedience, we thereby force the IRS agents (and other government employees of the world) to recognise that they themselves are actually threatening innocent people with violence, and this realisation will go a long way to promote the expansion of liberty.

—Alexander S. Peak

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The Next Greatest Generation?

In Activism, Congress, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Economics, Fraud, Libertarian, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Pork, Republican, Spending, Taxation, US Government on January 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I know of very few people in America today who would disagree with the statement that America is heading for a mountain cliff heedless of the dangers which will await us once we plunge over it. While people of differing ideologies might not agree about the various factors which are pushing us farther and farther into danger, I think that one thing that can be agreed upon by all factions is that our national budgets / spending are out of control and is one of the contributing factors. There are two basic topics which I want to discuss with this article. One is about some factors which I think compound the problems and combine to make our nation fiscally unsustainable. The other is a call to action and sacrifice by my own generation.

Have you ever wondered how one politician can claim that government spending has been reduced while another politician can claim that government spending has been increased and, yet, they can both be telling us the “truth” while our financial problems continue to get worse and worse with each passing year? Well, we can thank the idea of “baseline budgeting” for making such political contortionism possible. Baseline budgeting is the concept that, for a new budget year, you will draw a line at specific totals of spending from the previous budget (the baseline) and you then incrementally increase spending above that baseline. Thus, one politician can say that spending has been cut if the amount of money that will be allocated above the baseline is less than what might otherwise be allocated while the other can say that spending has increased because the current budget is higher than the previous one. In neither case, however, has the issue of the already bloated budget mess been addressed.

On the opposite end of the possible budgeting methods is “zero-based budgeting”. Zero-based budgeting is the process of building a brand new budget from the ground up each and every year. As stated in the Small Business Accounting Guide, “(ZBB) is a method of budgeting which requires you to justify all planned expenditures for each of your new business period[s]. It defers [sic] from traditional incremental methods which may only require you to explain the amounts you need in excess of the previous period’s funding.” (http://www.small-business-accounting-guide.com/zero-based-budgeting.html)

Baseline budgeting is easier for politicians who either can’t be bothered to spend the time necessary to actually create an annual budget from the ground up or who don’t want to cut pet projects and excess pork that benefits their own constituents (and thus, their chances of getting re-elected). Baseline budgeting also increases the likelihood that expenditures will be made annually that no one is actually aware of. To make a baseline budget sustainable over a period of years or even generations, you must have an infinite and ever increasing source of money and resources. Without such an infinite or growing pool of resources, taxes must be continually raised and new sources of taxation must be found, otherwise you have a system which continually increasingly overextends itself. Eventually, the golden goose (the taxpayers and revenue sources) die, leave or rebel because they have no more to give.

If you want to see a demonstration of why continuous baseline budgeting without a sufficient resource pool to draw from creates an unsustainable economy try this, get some Legos® and attach one block to a Lego base. So far, so good, it is solidly grounded. Now, what you do from there is to continue adding new Legos to the stack (not the base, the stack) you have started EXCEPT that, instead of placing new Legos completely over the ones already there, you add each subsequent Lego one step off from the one below. This creates a stair-like effect. The problem is that, without addition support from its base, you eventually reach a point where the weight on the topmost and farthest point of the stack is too great to be supported by the base and the end topples over. When it does collapse though, the top block is not the only one that falls off. Because of the connectivity of the blocks to the ones above and below them, most of the stack will collapse. THAT is the end result of continuous baseline budgeting.

Another way to look at it is that our government is a drug addict and the drug which they need to get high is tax dollars. As with any long-term and strung out junkie, the amount of drugs needed to give them their fix increases. Junkies do not make wise choices. The will ignore food, hygiene, love, any and everything which does not contribute to their high. They will also beg, borrow and steal money from anywhere that they can in order to buy them their drugs because they can’t make rational decisions. Eventually, those who have willingly or unwillingly financed their habit want their money back. If you don’t see where this is going, try watching the movie Less Than Zero and imagine that the character played by Robert Downey, Jr. is our government.

Things would be bad enough if baseline budgeting was the ONLY budgeting problem that our government has. Unfortunately for us (the taxpayers) there are quite a few other flaws in the system. As a result, simply changing our budgeting method to a zero-base budgeting system (or to any one of several other possible ideas, such as program based budgeting) will not fix the problems with government expenditures.

Another of the problems (out of many) is that budgets are made based on PROJECTIONS of what Congress and the President THINK our national income will be for a given year. As a result, the actual amount of what is available is always wrong. If the projection is too high, then money will have to be “borrowed” to make a budget work. If the projection is too low then the excess money will STILL be used to fund SOMETHING. How this problem works is that taxes are due in April and usually by October, the government has a pretty good idea of what they actually have to spend. This is good because it coincides with America’s fiscal year. This is bad because what is being budgeted for is the fiscal year starting the NEXT October. While it would be painful to remedy this (and take several years), the time to present the next year’s budget can be moved back by two or three months each year until eventually budgets that are presented are based on what the real government income was (and which has been in “the bank”) since the PREVIOUS October. This, again, draws back to the analogy of the drug addict and trying to clean him up and wean him off of his drugs. Right now, we are theoretically spending money a year before we have it. We need to move things back until we are only allowed to spend what we have had in our hands since the previous October.

On another front, while in THEORY the budget is made up of a lot of individual budgets for all of the different budget areas, what is now the common practice is to make the process so continuous and time consuming that eventually Congress is forced by time limits to roll everything up into huge and monstrous constructs, so big that NO ONE can actually know what is contained within them, called omnibus budget bills. ( http://corporate.cq.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=232) As a way to delay the “need” of passing of omnibus budget bills, Congress can, and does, pass what is called a “continuing resolution” or a CR. (http://www.thisnation.com/question/003.html) What a CR does is authorize the government to continue spending what it is already spending based on the lowest possible amount… the amount proposed by the Senate, the amount proposed by the House, or the actual expenditure. While holding spending at the lowest level asked for might, on the surface, sound good, it is usually a political ploy to either hurt programs not liked by some members of Congress or to continue funding a pet project that might otherwise be cut. This game is played out until the “clock” runs out and, viola, the only option available is to pass yet another omnibus package.

There are many more problems which simply screw the taxpayer each year, such as earmarks, pet projects, hidden budgets, etc. Did you know that Congress gets an AUTOMATIC pay raise every year unless it votes to specifically NOT give itself a pay raise in any particular year? Because of a law passed in 1989, Congress doesn’t have to do anything or pass anything to get their automatic raise each year. If they do NOTHING they get the raise. (http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/agencies/a/raise4congress.htm) In addition, for a nation which was designed to have no permanent political class, elected office now comes with huge pensions and benefits. (http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/20/commentary/wastler/wastler/index.htm).

In addition, our legislatures operate under a sort of reverse-NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) philosophy when it comes to spending taxpayer’s money. I say reverse because (unlike politicians doing whatever they can to keep anything potentially negative from happening in the locations that they represent, no matter how necessary they might be or how they might be the best solutions for our nation, as a whole), politicians will say that we need to reduce spending EXCEPT for the spending that benefits their districts or states. Hey, we have too many military bases; no problem, we will close some, EXCEPT for the ones in my district. Wow, that project is a huge sinkhole for money but the money goes to my constituents so, by God, I will fight tooth and nail to keep it funded. Everyone agrees that spending needs to be cut but no one is willing to cut spending that benefits them or their businesses, no matter how much sense it might make to stop that spending. We have become a nation of whores who will justify any and every atrocity as long as we personally make money off of it. Such spending is nothing more that wholesale bribery by our legislatures to us, the people, to buy our votes to keep our Senators and Representatives in their jobs. “Every government is a parliament of whores; the thing is, in a democracy, the whores are us.”(Anyone who is interested in how our government works, or doesn’t work, but has not read P. J. O’Rourke’s brilliant Parliament of Whores needs to read it as soon as they can.)

So, what are some of the actual ways in which our government budgeting process and its resulting need for ever larger amounts of revenue harm the people of America. Well, for one thing, if we go back to the drug addict analogy, our government is not just addict, it is also a powerful “crime lord”. For a nation born from a tax revolt, America has become one of the most, if not the most, greedy and oppressive nations in the world when it comes to collecting taxes, even to the extent of its belief that collecting American taxes justifies its right to bully other nations into cooperating with the IRS. The United States is unique in the world in its obsession with collecting taxes from any and every American living outside of the US. (http://www.ivdgl.org/pages/c-lifeevents/expatriation.html) (http://wapedia.mobi/en/Tax_evasion) (http://www.richw.org/dualcit/faq.html#discover)

Unfortunately, this standard only seems to apply to individuals who the government can beat up on. Large American corporations can, for all intents and purposes, buy their way out of being taxed, even when they “base” themselves outside of The United States, by simply giving politicians “great heaping wads of cash” or, to use O’Rourke’s phrase, “more money than you can shake a stick at AND the stick”. If individual citizens were to do this, they would be considered “tax evaders” and prosecuted wherever they might relocate to. America wants “its” money and it is damn well going to get it, even if it means hounding geriatrics into their graves.

So, how can our national and state budgets be fixed before everything collapses? First, some generation is going to have to accept that it is going to be screwed, either by cutting or losing their own benefits or by being left holding the hot potato when it blows up. I realized this many years ago, when my own grandparents were still alive and I, in my twenties, listened to my grandfather get very angry about anything being done or even talked about by the government which might lessen his own benefits without any concern for what kind of mess would be left behind. Now, I loved my grandfather, he still is one of my heroes, but, at that moment, all I could think was “You selfish bastard; what about your own grandkids?

I realize that it is unconscionable to take away from people who have already entered their last years because they cannot rebuild their own lives. We cannot expect those generations to harm themselves like that. If sacrifices are going to be made, one of the younger generations will have to make them. Just as it is not reasonable to ask the dying generations to make such sacrifices, it is immoral to say to younger generations “I don’t care what happens to you or what you are left with. I’m going to get mine while I can and to Hell with anyone else.” (This, of course, is essentially the foundation of Ayn Rand’s objectivist “philosophy”.) This is where my call to action comes in. While this mess was created and worsened by the generations of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, if my own generation doesn’t simply suck it up and take the bullet, it will be the generations of our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will be hurt, and even worse than we would be by taking the hit now.

My grandfather’s generation has been called “the greatest generation” because it fought and died to save the world from the Axis powers in WWII. How can any of us expect to beat what they did? What we can do is harm ourselves in order to make things better for the generations which follow us and, maybe, give them something to live up to. We can become “the NEXT greatest generation”. This is my call to my own generation; this is my call for us to be heroes to the generations that follow us. Let us make the painful choices now. Let us absorb the harm, the lessening of benefits, the belt tightening, the need to rely on others to personally help us because we won’t be getting the help from the government that many of us will need.

I would also ask my readers to keep in mind that not only is my monthly government disability check my own source of income; I have no children to either rely upon or to worry about leaving our messes to. I have every reason to keep things the way that they are now and no reason to worry about how any future generations might be harmed. I have nothing to gain in this and everything to lose, but, if it would help future generations, I would willingly give up what I personally get and need. Would any others from my generation agree to make the necessary sacrifices themselves? Can we be the ones who clean up the mess that has been left to us? Do we have to courage to make ourselves “the next greatest generation”?

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”

© copyright 2010 by Rhys M. Blavier

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

Israel’s Biggest Theft of all Time.

In Children, Human Rights Abuses, Libertarian, Middle East, Minorities, Taxation, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on July 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm

I would like to start this by pointing out that when I refer to “Israel” in this piece. I am not referring directly to the people of Israel. I am referring to their government which acts in their name. Just like the American government spreads war around the world with the tax money they coerce out of me, Israel spreads war, death, poverty, inhumanity, and famine within throwing distance of it’s own inhabitants. Even though you might be an Israeli who does not care about the Palestinians or anything about them, please understand that this very second your government is actively killing, harassing, provoking, and starving these people who have a 60%+ unemployment rate in the territory they live in. They cannot rebuild from the last war with Israel because they cannot ship in basic building materials. They cannot seek good health care because Israel has damaged the biggest hospitals in Gaza. Palestinians have no certainty that they will still own the land they live on for any long period of time because of Israel’s illegal settlements that continue to spring up. The worst part of this situation is the theft of time. Palestinians must endure dozens of checkpoints which slow travel time and create hassles for these people on a daily basis.

I don’t think that I have to explain that ‘time’ is the most valuable resource. You can never get it back. It’s one of the most personal things you have. When man invests time into something then part of it becomes his. Time and effort have created all of the buildings and machines that make modern life possible. However, time is an extremely limited and valuable resource. Some spend it carelessly and achieve little in their lives. Some have it stolen through untimely death or imprisonment. Some try to maximize their time and create things to increase the efficiency and speed of the task they are trying to accomplish so that they will not have to spend excess time. Most people have a job or a trade that they do everyday. Your job is a trade-off of your time for money. When time is spent well then you can use it to enhance the life of yourself and your family. When your time is stolen then your death has come a few steps closer, but you take no steps toward your goals. Ultimately the theft of one’s time degrades their legacy.

This is the travesty that is performed by Israel and other governments everyday millions of times over.

I believe that the senseless death and destruction that Israel perpetrates daily can be broken down in to the amount of time and effort they destroy everyday. Every building they destroy in Gaza is the destruction of many people’s efforts. Every time they make a Palestinian wait hours at a checkpoint to go a few miles then they steal some of that Palestinian’s time. The theft is even more deplorable when kill and torture people at these checkpoints. Sometimes people are detained and strip-searched without reason. Young men are beaten without reason. After one is beaten or tortured then more time is stolen from that individual because they have to recuperate. Time is stolen when Palestinians are denied medical care in better Israeli hospitals. Some people die an untimely death because they did not have adequate medical care. Why would this situation be Israel’s fault? Because they destroy the hospitals that would enable the Palestinians to give themselves proper medical treatment.

However this is a double bladed sword. They also waste the time of the Israeli people by keeping the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories going. The men who enlist for the Israeli military waste their time occupying lands and harassing people who pose no threat to them. Israeli generals and bureaucrats pass down the orders that ensure conflict with the Palestinians. Israeli people die as a result of their government’s negligence. Israeli people who live in the settlements stay armed because they stay on land stolen from Palestinians. It’s land that they did not cultivate or plow. It’s land that their family did not grow up farming. Olive groves that could have provided food have been destroyed for illegal settlements. This situation  creates a blackhole that consumes the time of all the parties involved. This blackhole is controlled by Israeli officials who have never seen the bullets and carnage that they create. However they too are trying to make efficient use of their time and efforts. As long as they have radical neighbors then America stays motivated to keep money and weapons flowing to them. Israeli generals and bureaucrats keep fat pockets at the expense of their military personnel, the Israeli people, and the Palestinians.

Apparently the Israeli officials who makes these policies believe that their time is more important than their people’s and the Palestinian people’s time (and lives)…

Peace…

My take on the ‘Independence Day’ Lesson.

In Democracy, Fraud, History, Iraq War, Libertarian, Middle East, Politics, Republican, Taxation, US Government, War on July 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm

On July 4th we celebrate “Independence Day” in the US. This is the day that American’s celebrate the end of British oppression and unjust taxes on the American colonies. At the time Britain was the strongest Empire in the world. There are many nations who have Independence days which celebrate the day they ripped themselves from the clutches of British colonial rule. I believe the lesson from that day is that all Empires fall. Even if they seem strong and invincible, the people in their conquered territory will eventually find the means to push the invader out of their land. America is an example, India is an example, Barbados is an example, and Sri Lanka is an example. Though people have to give their occupier ‘HELL’ they will eventually gain their freedom from them. The best example of this is the Pashtuuns in Afghanistan/Pakistan. There has never been a power who’s been able to subdue these people and hold on the their land for any long period of time.

Even though America seeks to celebrate this holiday with vigor we have not learned the lesson. In fact, we are the modern day empire that future countries will (one day) declare their independence from. Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan,  all of these countries (and more) will have their day to reflect back and say, “This was the date when the last American soldier/diplomat/puppet dictator/military contractor left our soil for good.”. The only question is how we will leave these foreign lands. Will it cost us the lives of young men and women who wanted to build a future for their families? Will our fraudulent monetary system have to crash for us to leave these places? Will it take a 100 year rebellion? Will it take a larger empire to push us out? Could the American people elect someone smart enough to pull the troops out of these countries? Regardless of how it happens, the only certainty is that it will happen. When it does then we’ll give some other country a reason to wave their flag, shoot their firecrackers, and have a big barbecue.

Happy 4th of July.

Peace…

Why Exactly is Madoff Going to Prison?

In Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Fraud, Law, People in the news, Taxation on July 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm

On June 29, 2009, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.  According to The New York Times, Madoff was guilty of running “the largest, longest and most widespread Ponzi scheme in history.”

It is true that Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme, but it is categorically false to call his the largest, the longest-running, or the most widespread.  But I digress.

The point is, I do not believe jail-time is the appropriate punishment for Mr. Madoff.

(1) If Madoff told his customers that he would be investing their money in a way he did not, then he committed fraud, and his punishment should be to pay back his customers in full plus extra for time preference.  If he has less money in his name than he owes to his victims, then he should (A) first pay what he has and (B) then have his future wages garnished to pay those to whom he still has debt.  (He should also pay back his poorest victims first, working his way up the ladder until he either pays off his entire debt in full or dies, whichever comes first.)

(2) If he did not lie to his customers about what he was doing with their money, then he committed no real crime, and should not be punished at all.

Either way, he should not go to jail.

As Mr. Jeffrey Tucker writes,

What, then, precisely, is the point of jailing him?  He is no direct threat to anyone.  Society would not be safer because he is in the slammer.  He is not going to rob people or beat people up.  He might write a book and donate the funds to charity or make some restitution to his victims.  I, for one, would like to read that book.

Instead, taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab for his living expenses.  Victims get nothing.  That’s not justice.  That’s inhumane for both sides of the transaction: Bernie and us.

—Alexander S. Peak

Why Taxes Enslave… Period.

In Austrian Economics, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Economics, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Taxation, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on June 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I often find myself in discussions with people. People who insist that the state is their best friend. People who believe that waging mass murder on the rest of the world is keeping us safe. People who believe that being a serviceman/woman does still serve the good of the world. People who believe that our support for the state is necessary for our well being and that of the world at large. Some people cannot be broken out of this infinitely flawed view. Some of these are the same people who can’t see that capitalism is not the culprit of the current economic crisis or that the same issues that caused alcohol prohibition to fail will be the same causes that make the “War on Drugs” fail.

Oddly, these same people are the ones who’ve never heard of the torture that we carry out at Guantanamo and other “black sights” around the world. They’ve never heard of the illegal detention and kidnapping of people around the world who were tortured, in some cases, and never had the chance to file for grievances with their captors. The daily killings of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan somehow escape their world view. What do these things have in common? The killing, detentions, torture, economic crises, and their continuation are made possible by you and I. Our tax money has not only turned life into a living HELL for other foreign people but it has also enabled the state to use our money to crack down on us. Taser’s, tanks, pistols, missiles, jets, and aircraft carriers are all bought and built with our money.

The money coerced out of me and you not only has resounding macro effects but it also has micro effects like the police state here in the US. Woman, children, and the disabled are being assaulted by cops who are paid by the very people they violate. How else can this occur other than in a state run system. Imagine a company who routinely violates it’s customers. This could not occur in a purely Free Market society because the victimized customers would quickly switch to the competitor and the aforementioned company would suffer great loses and possibly go out of business. Instead we are stuck with a system where the state has a monopoly on security which means that they can treat us any way they want without the risk of losing income. Other municipal systems operate this way too. Instead of water systems finding ways to maximize their water output or conserve they simply cut off water to their customers because they can. Of course in a free market one would be able to switch water companies or other technologies would be created to acquire water in other ways to keep water providers afloat.

So, as I’ve shown above taxes not only fuel wars, torture, monopoly’s, police states, and the war machine, but there are also many indirect consequences. For example the unlawful detention and torture of civilians in other countries creates resentment and hatred for the occupying power. When people are killed then you have others who want revenge against the occupying power (or invader) who committed the atrocity. As a result more enemies are created against the state (who took it’s people’s money (taxes) and used it to create war and mass murder in the foreign land). Some foreigners will want to take revenge on the people who enabled the occupying or invading state to carry out the attacks that killed their loved ones. The attacks that these people carry out in the homeland of the occupying/invading force will in turn be used by that occupying/invading force to justify it’s interventions in foreign countries and might be used to expand these operations. As a result more and more people are hostile toward the occupying/invading country. As a result the occupying/invading state is forced to crackdown more and more on it’s people to stem any attacks that might be carried out by it’s foreign enemies. Thus, the people who enabled their state to take their money for “security” are eventually the ones who the state has to keep itself safe from.

However, this is just one facet of the enslavement that taxes enable. The other facet is one that undermines private property. Certain things like your labor or property (that is acquired from another party) have nothing to do with the state yet they find it appropriate to come in and tax these things. The state has never owned or contributed to 100% of the property in it’s borders so how can it claim to be owed a taxes for 100% it’s use? Likewise, how can the state claim to have a stake in the income you receive from your job? Your labor never belonged to the state so how can they tax you when you trade it for private income (at your job)? The fact that you are taxed in these two ways means that the state feels that it owns us. You can never truly own private property because you must always pay taxes on it or the state will take it. Likewise, if you do not pay income taxes, even though they never owned the money or your labor, they will either take some of your money (a fine) or your time and labor (prison time). Does this sound like an entity “that’s for and by the people”? NO!

In-other-words the state makes freedom impossible for others and it’s own people. The state claims the right to wage mass murder in it’s people’s name while simultaneously taking it’s people’s rights. It creates monopoly’s in certain markets and undermines capitalism. It claims to provide security while being the biggest threat to it. It takes people’s money and converts it into death and destruction on foreign countries. It claims to own everything. It claims to be accountable to nobody.

Peace…

Live-blogging: Hamilton’s Curse: Chapter 2: Public Blessing or National Curse?

In Books, Censorship, Corruption, Economics, First Amendment, History, Libertarian, literature, Live-blogging, Spending, Taxation, US Government on May 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm

It’s unfortunate that economics is such an esoteric subject, for it certainly impacts all of us.  It’s perhaps all the more unfortunate because of the ease with which the political class can confuse and dupe the public, thereby exploiting the masses.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo begins the second chapter of his Hamilton’s Curse noting that “[g]overnment debt is every politician’s dream” because it allows him or her to “buy votes by spending on government programs…that will make him popular now, while putting the lion’s share of the cost on future taxpayers, who must pay off the debt” (p. 38).

The result of this is obvious enough: we, the taxpayers, never truly grasp how expensive are the programmes with which we’re presented, and so the debt keeps mounting.  The national debt, at the time DiLorenzo was writing his book, had exceeded $9 trillion, with unfunded liabilities mounting around $70 trillion (p. 39).

Then there’s “the biggest government program of all—war” (Ibid.).  The American taxpayer would be much more likely to demand peaceful relations if they were presented with “an explicit tax bill for it” (Ibid.).  Thus DiLorenzo writes, “Taxpayers feeling the sting of gigantic wartime increases would be much more inclined to pressure their governmental respresentatives to limit their military adventures to national defense purposes, as opposed to imperialistic ventures based on more dubious motives” (Ibid.).  And this is why Jefferson held that “the perpetuation of debt, has drenched the earth with blood” (p. 40).

What has any of this to do with Alexander Hamilton? It was precisely Hamilton who “championed,” in pursuit of his goal of bigger, more centralised government and imperial glory, “the creation of a large national debt” (Ibid.).  He did this in two ways:  He (1) encouraged the federal state to assume all of the debt from the old government and (2) encouraged the central government to assume the war debts of the various states (pp. 41, 46).

His first proposal was very popular, as it allowed the political class to become much more wealthy.  Federal politicians and other New Yorkers learned of the federal government’s plans to pay off old war debts at full face value long before the information could filtrate to the rest of the country and the many holders of old war bonds.  These members of the political class, with their inside information, quickly entered the game of speculation, buying up these government bonds around the country from “haplass and unsuspecting war veterans at prices as low as 10 percent of full value” (pp. 41–42).  Republicans and Federalists alike profited from the graft.

This did not sit well with James Madison, however, who proposed that the original bondholders also be paid at full value.  Madison was denounced “as a dreamer” (p. 44).

Hamilton’s second proposal was not as popular as his first.  For one thing, this entire generation saw the various states as free and independent countries, with the federal government being merely a meeting of the states to better secure their basic and collective needs, such as defence or the coining of a uniform currency (p. 46).  For another, the states that had already paid off their debt, such as Virginia, did not want to have to socialise the debt of the other states that had not been in their opinions as dilligent (p. 47).  As such, Hamilton’s assumption plan was defeated in Congress no less than five times (p. 48).  It did not eventually pass until Hamilton struck a deal with Jefferson to allow the U.S. capital to move from New York to Virginia, something Jefferson had desired but the Hamiltonians had, until that point, been blocking (Ibid.).

The reason Hamilton wanted the newly centralised government to assume vast quantities of debt was that “he wanted to tie the wealthy to the state as a permanent, big-government lobbying class” (p. 45).  The primary government bondholders, after all, would be the more affuent citizens, and they would have an “interest in continued borrowing and continued tax increases to assure that they would be paid their principal and interest” (Ibid.).  Therefore Hamilton, not surprisingly, also rallied for higher taxes, “including the notorious tax on whiskey, a carriage tax, and a national property tax (which spawned a tax revolt in massachusetts—the Fries Rebellion)” (p. 43).

Hamilton defended the “[p]lundering of the working class with onerous taxes” because he saw Americans as too “indolent” and held that these harsh taxes would encourage the people to work harder (Ibid.).  Of course, the opposite is true.  The more people have to surrender in taxes, the less motivated they are to work hard.  What’s the point, they ask, when Uncle Sam is taking it all anyway?  Perhaps one of the worst aspect of these changes was the opportunity for a standing army of tax-collectors to be created, precisely what Hamilton had used to squash the Whiskey Rebellion (p. 44, cf. 33–36).  DiLorenzo cites this as “one of the chief reasons why the Anti-Federalists never trusted Hamilton.  A standing army of tax collectors could (and eventually would) destroy states’ rights altogether” (p. 44, cf. 48).

As I expressed in my previous entry, I’m not personally fond with DiLorenzo’s use of the term “states’ rights.”  Governments, after all, cannot possess rights.  Only individuals—and the voluntary associations they create—can possess rights.  The founders understood clearly that states did not and could not possess “rights,” and thus, when they drafted the tenth amendment, they clearly referenced powers rather than “right.”  What this Hamiltonian centralisation of power threatens, therefore, are the powers that were reserved to the states under the U.S. Constitution.

In any event, there were those who opposed Hamilton’s nationalist schemes.  Albert Gallatin of Pennsylvania called Hamilton’s assumption plan “subversive of the rights, liberty and peace of the people,” a view “endorsed by the Pennsylvania legislature” (p. 47).  (Luckily for Gallatin, Hamilton was unsuccessful in his drive to “have Gallatin arrested and put on trial” (Ibid.).)  John Taylor of Virginia pointed out that the Hamiltonian schemes “would result in ‘the accumulation of great wealth in a few hands,’ accumulted through ‘a political moneyed engine.’  It would create British mercantilism in America, in other words” (p. 48).

DiLorenzo also addresses the despicable Sedition Act, which the federal government used to silence Jeffersonians and other Republican opponents of the Federalists’ nationalist agenda.  Many innocent men were arrested under this law, including at least twenty-one newspaper editors, “all of whom supported Jefferson….  No Federalists were harassed by the Sedition Act” (p. 50).  This act, along with the Alien Acts (collectively called the Alien and Sedition Acts by historians), was what lead Jefferson and Madison to author the Virginia and Kentucky Resolves of 1798, thereby nullifying these laws within their state borders.

DiLorenzo attributes the reactionary policies of the Federalists to the 1800 Republican victory.  On pages 51–53, he details the history of national debt in the United States from the time of Jefferson to the present, showing how, over time, the amount of debt the government has opted to take on at any given time has ratcheted upward.  He concludes on page 53 that perpetual government debt “essentially relies on forced labor,” turning today’s citizens into tax serfs, and points out that governments have historically relied in the “hidden tax” of inflation to pay off debt, knowing that citizens do not notice this form of taxation in the same way they notice direct taxes.  Finally he spells out the destructive effects of this approach on pages 54 and 55, and draws the connection between Hamilton’s bad policy ideas and the destructive policies of modern Keynesians on pages 56 and 57.

Overall, I found the chapter stimulating.  Authors do not often comment, especially in any great detail, on the problems with large national debts.  This is probably because historians and political theorists often do not have much background in economics—DiLorenzo does, and is able to incorporate his understanding of this otherwise esoteric subject into his historical analysis.

—Alexander S. Peak

The Powers to Raise and to Spend Taxes (Liberal Libertarians Discussion Topic #01)

In Boston Tea Party, Charles Jay, Congress, Corruption, Democracy, Economics, Fraud, History, Law, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Pork, Spending, Taxation, Thomas L. Knapp, US Government, War on April 15, 2009 at 7:29 pm

The single greatest factor behind the rise and development of the English Parliament was taxation. What very quickly developed, and what lasted until the British Monarchy lost its functional power as a part of government and became a marginalized figurehead position (which happened over the course of the 1800s) was that the power to SPEND tax money was separated from the power to RAISE tax money. Under that system, only Parliament could RAISE tax money but only the Monarch could SPEND tax money. If the Monarch wanted to spend anything (for wars, his houses and mistresses, public building projects, anything) they had to convince Parliament to raise the necessary tax monies and give those money to him 9or her). Likewise, if Parliament wanted money spent on anything in particular, they had to convince the Monarch to agree to spend raised money in such ways. The inherent conflict within the system required negotiation and compromise from both sides. Sometimes one side would be more powerful than the other and would dictate to the other. Likewise, Kings would often not actually spend money as they agreed to. THOSE situations would lead to further conflicts in the future. Sometimes the Monarchs would simply get sick of their Parliaments and would dismiss them and not call another to replace it, but then the King could not raise any money. In those situations, the losers would usually be the common people who were hurt by both sides.

One of the main sources of conflicts between Monarchs and Parliaments (as in ALL nations) was the exorbitant costs of the wars which the Monarchs would want to fight. Because of the unique circumstances of both WWII and the Viet Nam war, Americans now think that wars create profit. They do not. Wars are and always have been burdensome drains on the public coffers. Monarchs want wars for various reasons, but those wars HAVE to be paid for… even in a dictatorship… and, historically, most wars bankrupt their nations as well as the other nations involved. Look at the current situation with our undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s not even get into the cost to human life or to property, let us just look at the actual fiscal cost to fight them, clean them up, care for our veterans afterwards, intelligence… all of it. The problem is, in America, because of the way the power to raise and spend tax monies is allocated, the dialogue is usually focused on questioning the patriotism of those who disagree with one side; on attempts to gain power by individuals, parties, factions, ideologies or branches of government; or is hurting our ability to deal with OTHER national priorities by saying we can’t question the money we spend on our wars so we cut the pennies in order to be able to keep throwing away the dollars.

So… in all of the discussion we hear these days about taxes, we are still simply talking about the ‘symptom’ of actual taxation rather than trying to explore the root causes of the actual problems. To ME, the issue is not whether or not taxes are too high, or if they are properly spent, it is that there is no incentive or system in place to DISCOURAGE spending OR raising tax money. If you give the people who have the power to SPEND your money the additional power of determining how MUCH of your money they can take you have the fox guarding the hen house. To me, before we talk about the very real issues of tax codes and policies in America, we need to talk about the basic powers involved in the fundamental issue of taxation.

Here is my personal idea, to start the ball rolling:

01.) ONLY The House of Representatives should have the power to RAISE tax monies. The functions of government which deal with raising and accounting for the expenditures of those monies should be placed under the authority of The House… the people’s house of government. I think that the IRS is the wrong organization for our nation but before it can be dismantled, we need to figure out something to take its place because its ROLE is, and will be necessary. We can NOT destroy something which has such a key role in the operation of our government (whether it SHOULD or should NOT HAVE that role is irrelevant… it does and it must be dealt with as a reality). The House should be completely in charge of our nation’s checking and savings account. This would result in Representatives keeping THEIR jobs in large part based on how they keep taxes low.

02.) ONLY the Senate should have the power to SPEND tax monies. The functions of government which deal with purchasing, contracting, supervising, etc. the expenditures of those monies should be placed under the authority of The Senate. The Senate should be completely in charge of our nation’s checkbooks, passbooks, and ATM cards. This would result in Senators keeping THEIR jobs in large part based on how much swag they can send back home.

03.) The President should be the mediator that coordinates the efforts of the two house of Congress and makes the deals. The President would also be the one who would make sure that all agreements between the two houses on both the raising AND the spending of tax monies would be followed to the letter. The President would be the one who makes sure that every side is honest with the other. The President would also be the one who signs off on all agreements (budgets) and certifies them as satisfying all sides and being in the best interest of the American people.

04.) All three parties involved (The House, The Senate and The Executive Branch) would have complete and unrestricted access to all records, notes, documents, EVERYTHING made or kept by any of the other parties regarding ANY issue regarding or relating to taxes. Further, all finalized, ratified and signed budgets and expenditure agreements shall have full force as LAWS for their durations and any violations of any parts if those agreements and budgets can be prosecuted as such, with the individuals responsible for those violations… ALL individuals at ALL levels up and down the ‘food chain’… being PERSONALLY accountable and liable for those violations (whether it is a Senator, the members of a specific committee, or a clerk who signs a check… EVERYONE is accountable and THUS has the motivation to be honest and above board about all actions and decisions regarding taxes).

05.) All three parties involved (The House, The Senate and The Executive Branch) would create a non-partisan, non-governmental committee or board, to which they will all appoint an equal number of members, which has the power and authority to review and mediate all agreements and violations and to make final and binding non-partisan decisions regarding the same when there are ANY questions about or challenges to finalized agreements or budgets which deal with tax monies and their expenditures. Each state would also get to choose one or two members of this board. Obviously all of the exact details would need to be carefully studied and worked out.

06.) SOMEHOW, The Federal Reserve and The National Bank (and any other such relevant entities) would be brought back under full federal control and incorporated into this who system… somehow.

No matter what our own personal and unrealistic idealistic vision of our government is, taxes are real, they are not going to go away and they ARE necessary. What WE need to do is to try to figure out how to make the system work better and fairer so that it can be a positive factor in our society rather than one which puts us at each others. throats.

Ok, those are my initial thoughts. What can anyone else contribute? How can anyone else make these ideas better or give us different ideas which are better? What can we do with this?

Recommended Readings for people interested in this topic are:

1.)For Good and Evil (Second Edition): The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization
By: Charles Adams (Tax Scholar and Historian, Cato Institute Fellow) http://www.amazon.com/Good-Evil-Second-Impact-Civilization/dp/1568332351/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224912619&sr=1-1

2.)Those Dirty Rotten taxes: The Tax Revolts that Built America
By: Charles Adams (Tax Scholar and Historian, Cato Institute Fellow) http://www.amazon.com/Those-Dirty-Rotten-taxes-Revolts/dp/0684871149/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238470625&sr=1-1

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

© 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

To discuss this topic, the discussion thread is going on here: http://blavier.newsvine.com/_news/2009/04/15/2688338-the-powers-to-raise-and-to-spend-taxes-liberal-libertarian-discussion-topic-01

Live-blogging: Hamilton’s Curse: Chapter 1: The Rousseau of the Right

In Books, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, History, Libertarian, literature, Live-blogging, Police State, Protest, Taxation, US Government on March 31, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Although no other founder has had “a bigger impact on American society” than Alexander Hamilton, his impact has nevertheless been “almost universally negative from the perspective of those who would like to think of America as the land of the free,” people like you and me (p. 9).

Thomas J. DiLorenzo continues with this theme as he embarks on chapter two of Hamilton’s Curse, the title of which comes from an article by political scientist Cecelia Kenyon in the scholarly journal Political Science Quarterly (pp. 22–23).

The defining characteristics of the British Empire, the same British Empire American revolutionaries found so liberticidal that secession was their only option, were “dictatorial monarchy, centralized power, imperialism, and economic mercantilism”—the very same set of conditions Hamilton fervently hoped America would adopt (p. 9).  Thus, if Hamilton was to convince the public to adopt these conditions, he would have to use rhetoric with striking simularity to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s conception of “general will.”  Thus, Hamilton discussed his policies in terms of “the public interest” literally “hundreds of times in [his] speeches, letters, and writings” (Ibid.).  This is, of course, an ancient tactic of statist oppressors, but one that often proves successful nonetheless.

Thus DiLorenzo writes, “Hamilton was an American mercantilist, and he and his party (and its political heirs, the Whigs and Republicans) advocated special-interest policies that would primarily benefit politically connected merchants, manufacturers, speculators, and bankers at the expense of the rest of the public.  The ‘public interest’ rhetoric was (and is) an indispensable political smoke screen if they were to achieve political success.  The wool must be pulled over the public’s eyes with ‘public interest’ rhetoric if mercantilism were to succeed.  Jefferson and his political compatriots, such as John Taylor, saw through it” (pp. 23–24).

We learn a bit more about Hamilton in this chapter, for example we learn that he was a slave-owner (pp. 10–11) who became a founder of the New York Post with the purpose of smearing his rival Thomas Jefferson.  We learn that Hamilton was an advocate of outright nationalism (p. 13) who wanted America to “a kind of ‘king’ [a permanent president] who would yield supreme power over all people, who in turn would have essentially no say in how their government was run.  The states would be mere provinces whose governors would be appointed by and loyal to the ‘king.’  Under such a regime, all political power in the nation would be exercised by the chief executive and his circle of advisors” (pp. 16–17).  And we learn that Hamilton had no qualms with lying in order to achieve his goals.

Hamilton, for example, prior to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, assured Jeffersonian localists that the various states would still be sovereign under the Constitution, even though he clearly had no personal opposition to the seizure of power by the central state.  Moreover, he promised that the newly-proposed U.S. Congress would never contemplate “marching the troops of one state into the bosom of another” for any reason (p. 20).  This, it turns out, was a bald-faced lie.

Hamilton, who wished to have a huge national debt and ever-higher levels of taxation, “was instrumental in getting Congress to enact numberous excise taxes, a national property tax, and other taxes, including a special tax on whiskey” (p. 34).  Unfortunately for western Pennsylvanian farmers, who used whiskey as their means of exchange (i.e. money), this made basic commerce too difficult and thus destroyed trade.  Needless to say, the farmers rebelled by refusing to pay the insane tax.

This act of independence and rebellion infuriated Hamilton, who wanted to fight the rebellion with “overwhelming force” (Ibid.).  “So at Hamilton’s urging, President Washington personally led an army of more than 13,000 conscripts to Pennsylvania, accompanied by Hamilton the chief tax collector,” the very thing he had promised the New York ratifying convention less than a decade earlier would never happen (Ibid.).

We really shouldn’t be surprised by this corruption.  Hamilton had no love for restrained government, and instead aimed to “build the foundations of a new empire” (p. 14).  Both Jefferson and Hamilton, DiLorenzo tells us, “fully understood what was at stake:  Would the American government mimic the British and pursue ‘national greatness,’ ‘imperial glory,’ and empire, as Hamilton preferred?  Or would the primary purpose of government be the modest Jeffersonian one of protecting the lives, liberties, and property of its citizens?  Both men understood that empire would mean that government would become the master, rather than the servant, of the people, as it had been for generations in the Old World” (p. 12).  The difference between the two men is that Hamilton wanted the involuntary servitude associated with statism to be foisted upon the haplas masses; the Jeffersonians did not.

Hamilton was no doubt disappointed by the Philadelphia Convention, therefore, which rejected his goals.  As Robert Yates’s Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention and Senator John Taylor’s New Views of the Constitution of the United States (1823) point out, the Founders understood themselves to be creating a system wherein each of the states retain their sovereignty.  Although Hamilton proposed his “permanent president,” the Convention whole-heartedly rejected the proposal and the philosophy of “executive dictatorship and monopoly government” (p. 17), instead viewing the Constitution as “a compact among the free and independent states and not as the creation of a ‘national’ government” (Ibid.).  It was never their intention to create a “central government whose laws would always trump the laws of the states” (p. 18), so it should come as no surprise that Hamilton, following the convention, called the Constitution “a frail and worthless fabric” (p. 14)—it didn’t achieve his hypernationalist goals.

Unfortunately today, the central state is treated as a Leviathan whose legitimacy trumps all below it, from the various state governments down to the individual.  Thus, although Hamilton initially saw his objective as having failed, in the end Hamiltonianism has unfortunately succeeded in transforming the American republic into the American Empire.  Hamilton the nationalist, Hamilton the mercantilist, Hamilton the militarist (pp. 28–29, 32), would be gleeful at the position of the modern American state.

I cannot say that this chapter comes without a personal objection.  On page 27, DiLorenzo states that the doctrine of implied powers, as advocated by Hamilton and his Federalist Party, bore “liberal judicial activism.”

I must ask, why do people still insist on implying that judicial activism necessarily expands the state?  It seems to me that it is judicial restraint that allows the Congress and the president to expand state power—in other words, the judiciary restrains itself from overriding the unconstitutional actions of the other two branches.

Liberal judicial activism was used back in the day to limit the power of the state, used to say that the unconstitutional big government policies of the other two branches were just that—unconstitutional—and were thus null and void.  Liberal judicial activism was used in the early years of Roosevelt to fight his unconstitutional New Deal.

Judicial restraint, conversely, was used—more often then not—to pretend that various big government programmes of Congress and the president were in fact perfectly fine vis-à-vis the Constitution.  Thus, the judicially restrained court effectively restrained itself from nullifying these laws.

It therefore seems to me that the Federalist Party brought us the birth of conservative judicial restraint.

DiLorenzo also fails to point out, when speaking of state sovereignty, that states do not actually possess “rights,” that rights can only be possessed by individuals and the voluntary associations they form.  (Surely, not even Mussolini would be so cavalier as to claim that the state is a voluntary association.)  The Founders clearly understood this, as the tenth amendment, which DiLorenzo himself addressed on pages 17–18, refer to the reserved powers of the states, not their “rights.”

DiLorenzo’s failure to mention that states do not actually possess rights and his willingness to associate judicial activism with either the Federalists or Hamilton’s doctrine of implied powers appear to be the only drawbacks to this chapter.  DiLorenzo’s attack on Hamilton remains well-deserved, and my view of Hamilton has, especially in light of his vicious and vile attack on the admirable Whiskey Rebellion, sunk to all new levels.

—Alexander S. Peak

John Stossel Takes On the Bailouts

In Drug War, Economics, Immigration, Media, Medical Marijuana, Spending, Taxation, US Government on March 17, 2009 at 8:56 pm

This past Friday, 20/20 had a special report titled “Bailouts and Bull,” explaining why stimuli and bailouts will do nothing to jump-start the economy.

More than 300 economists earlier this year signed a petition declaring their view that “more government spending is [not] a way to improve economic performance” and that “[t]o improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, savings, investment and production.  Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.”

Eighteen of these economists were interviewed for Stossel’s special report.  Among those interviewed are two of my own professors, Dr. Howard Baetjer (back row, second from the viewers’ left) and Dr. Joe Pomykala (front row, on the viewers’ right), both of whom were lucky enough to get face-time.

I spoke to Prof. Baetjer this past Wednesday.  He explained that Stossel interviewed the eighteen economists both as a group and on a one-on-one basis.  Baetjer said he enjoyed the experience, and would love to do further televised interviews in the future.  In my own experience, I find Baetjer to be a very upbeat guy who is quite gifted at explaining economic concepts.

In watching the special, one can see that not everyone was lucky enough to have her or his interview used.  Baetjer, for example, said that when Walter Williams was interviewed, Williams allegedly said, “I don’t even know why we’re discussing the economics.  These bills are unconstitutional!”

For those that missed the 20/20 special, the Mises Economics Blog has made the entire episode available.

In addition to explaining that bailouts and “stimuli” are not the solution, the special report also (A) explains why privatising roads is an effective means of alleviating road congestion, (B) details how the federal government is oppressing medical marijuana retailers even in states that have legalised the medicine, (C) shows that universal pre-K is not a desirable government programme, (D) explains why building a fence between México and these United States is a huge waste of money, and (E) posits how a destitute person with no college degree can gain wealth in America.

—Alexander S. Peak

It’s the Economy, Stupid!

In Barack Obama, Corruption, Democrats, Economics, George Bush, Pork, Republican, Spending, Taxation, US Government on March 17, 2009 at 6:51 pm

The Mercantus Center at George Mason University released yesterday an overview of the Bush spending policies.  And as any libertarian can tell you, those eight years were not pretty.

According to the data (Table 1), spending under Bush increased each and every year.  The smallest budget increase, from ’06–’07, was one of $75,000,000,000, while the largest budget increase, from ’08–’09, was $955,000,000,000.  Overall, the budget increased from 2002 to 2009 from $2,011 billion to $3,938 billion.  That’s a total increase of $1.93 trillion.

Entitlement spending and discretionary spending both also increased each and every year Mr. Bush was president.  Net interest and deficit spending fluctuated over this same period, but deficit spending took place each of Bush’s eight years, between $158 billion in 2002 and $1.75 trillion in 2009.

The data also tell us that government spending increased under the Bush regime more than under any of the previous six presidents, including the Johnson regime (Table 2).  It is estimated that in Bush’s second term, real total outlays increased by 48.6%, exceeding that of Johnson’s 35.8%. Bush’s first term saw an increase of 18.9%, the biggest increase since Johnson, beating Carter’s 17.2%.

I recognise that not everybody is going to be familiar with the term outlays; it’s not a term used often.  The website of the U.S. Senate describes outlays as follows: “Outlays are payments made (generally through the issuance of checks or disbursement of cash) to liquidate obligations. Outlays during a fiscal year may be for payment of obligations incurred in prior years or in the same year.”  Wikipedia probably gives a better definition for layman use. According to Wikipedia, the term “outlays” is usually synonymous with “expenditure” or “spending” (cited 17 March 2009, 4:36 PM).

Total outlays can be divided into two general camps: (1) entitlements and net interest payments and (2) discretionary spending.

Entitlement spending is any spending the government thinks it has to make, and includes such things as Social Security, Medicare, and the like.  The idea is that the government has already established these programmes and informed citizens that they are supposedly entitled to this money; thus, the government says, it must spend its money on these things in accordance with the already-established policies of the programmes.  To eliminate or alter this spending, the government would not merely need to alter the budget, but would also have to alter the programmes themselves, say for example by raising the age necessary to receive the Retirement Insurance Benefits of Social Security from 62 to 64.

Discretionary spending is all other spending, from military expenditures to earmarks for wood utilisation research.  (And, yes, Bush did approve spending for wood utilisation research.)  Thus, discretionary spending is itself divided usually into two camps: (1) defence spending and (2) non-defence discretionary spending.

The data are not in yet for these two types of discretionary spending under Bush’s second term, but it is estimated that his total second term discretionary spending entailed an increase of 29%, the highest since Johnson’s 33.4% increase (Table 2).  And in these past ten terms, who had the third highest increase in discretionary spending, following Johnson’s one term and Bush’s second term?  Why, once again it is Mr. G. W. Bush, with his first term (2001–2005), with his increase of 27.7% over Clinton’s second term.

Some may find this surprising, but of the past ten terms, it appears the most responsible President (at least as far as spending is concerned) was Bill Clinton, at least in his first term where total outlays only increased by 4.2% and discretionary spending actually decreased by 8%! This isn’t to say that Clinton was an ideal president, but if I had to choose between Bush and Clinton in the realm of spending, I’d choose Clinton in a heart-beat.  (Figure 1 makes a direct comparison between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush, showing the actual spending in millions of dollars between the two men.  According to the source, “Adjusted for inflation, in eight years, President Clinton increased the federal budget by 11 percent.  In eight years, President Bush increased it by a whopping 104 percent.”)

Although the specific numbers are not yet available for Bush’s second term, we can still analyse his first term discretionary spending.  In doing so, we find that his defence spending increase at the dramatic rate of 36.0%, more than any president in the pat ten terms, even beating out Johnson’s 33.1% and Reagan’s 26.1% (Table 2).  We can also see that his first term non-defence discretionary spending increased by 20.7%, the highest increase since Nixon’s 25.5% increase, beating Clinton’s second-term 14.4% and his own father’s 13.9%.

Figure 3 compares the cumulative real discretionary spending of Bush, Clinton, and Reagan over each of their eight years.  What I find most remarkable about this is the paragraph that follows:

President Bush outspent both Reagan and Clinton.  President Reagan boosted defense outlays by 41 percent during his terms, but he also cut real nondefense outlays by 10 percent.  Overall, total discretionary spending increased by 15.8 percent during Reagan’s terms.  During Clinton’s first term, real discretionary spending actually decreased by 8 percent.  During his second term, with the Republicans in control of Congress, it increased by 8.8 percent.  Over Clinton’s eight years then, real discretionary spending increased by 0.1 percent.  During his two terms in office, however, President Bush increased real discretionary spending by 44 percent.

Figure 9 is also quite interesting.  It depicts Congressional pork from 1994 to 2009.  1994 is the last year that the Democrats held control of Congress before the Republican Revolution of ’94.  After that point, we see the number and cost of earmarks skyrocket, especially in the years Bush was president, culminating in $29 billion dollars worth of pork in 2006, the last year Republicans held control over Congress.  Following the Democratic Revolution of ’06, the Democrats seem to have briefly attempted to abide by their libertarian mandate (remember, it was libertarian-leaning Republicans voting for Democratic candidates to protest the high spending and unnecessary wars of the GOP that enabled Democrats to win all those new seats) by reducing pork to $13.2 billion, the lowest it had been since 1999.  But the Democratic reforms did not last, and Democrats have since fallen into the same nasty habit as their Republican allies, increasing pork expenditures back up to $17.2 billion the following year.

The publication concludes with the following remarks:

Republicans often claim to be the party of smaller government.  Many Republicans would express support for Ronald Reagan’s observation:  “Growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down.”  Unfortunately, once Republicans are elected to political office, they tend to fall into the Washington trap of assuming that more federal spending will solve the nation’s problems.  Certainly, President Bush appears to have fallen into this trap.  So did the Republicans in Congress.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Frankel argues that we should not be surprised by the discrepancy between the rhetoric and the actual policies of Republicans.  Frankel even argues that “the Republicans have become the party of fiscal irresponsibility, trade restriction, big government, and bad microeconomics.”  Frankel is incorrect about the microeconomics—Republicans generally pursue sounder tax policies than Democrats, for example—but when it comes to big government spending, the Bush Administration seems to have gone out of its way to confirm Frankel’s point.

Perhaps there’s an easy way to summarise the approaches to government of the two major parties:  Democrats want big government, while Republicans want to supersize government.  This isn’t true across the board, of course; the GOP does have a few noble, small-government friends, such as Dr. Ron Paul and Mr. Walter Jones, but they seem unfortunately few in number.

This is not to be taken, of course, as a ringing endorsement of the Democratic Party or the current president.  I have maintained in the past, and continue to maintain, that Mr. Obama is just as bad as Mr. Bush.  Ultimately, time will tell.

Nor is this to be taken as a justification for the Clinton years.  Clinton’s willingness to starve innocent Iraqis through embargo, and his administration’s authoritarian mishandling of the Waco Massacre, go to show that Mr. Clinton was by no means a man of honour.

Rather, I believe this serves another purpose: it serves as a warning about trusting Republican politicians and their talking-head partisans.  Republicans talk a good game regarding smaller government, but they never seem to deliver (with the rare exceptions mentioned above).  Thus, I recommend always taking what politicians say with a grain of salt.

—Alexander S. Peak

Antiwar.com: You have a choice!

In Activism, Congress, Economics, Iraq War, Libertarian, Media, Taxation, US Government, War on November 11, 2008 at 6:53 pm

They’re Bailing Out the Banks
With Your Tax Dollars.

But you have a choice!

Nobody asked you if you wanted to bail out the banks. The powers that be in Washington, D.C., just went ahead and did it. They wrote a check for almost $1 trillion to the biggest financial institutions in the country, saving them from their own disastrous investments. Andyou get the bill.
But it doesn’t have to be a total loss. You can direct some of your tax dollars to a worthy cause. Instead of rewarding the greed and hubris of “businessmen” whose only assets seem to be their friends in Washington, you can send your tax dollars to work for peace. 
Unlike the hundreds of billions going to the banks, yourtax-deductible contribution to Antiwar.com is a good investment: it will keep you informed about the world you live in, warning you of the dangers to peace just around the bend. 
Since the mid-’90s, Antiwar.com has been the place to find out what’s really going on in hotspots around the globe. And since our beginning, we’ve depended on the generosity of our readers to keep us online.
Now hard times have hit all of us, at the very time when Antiwar.com is most essential. Our fight for a noninterventionist foreign policy is making some real gains, for the first time in years. But with charitable giving down, we are feeling the pinch. We need your help, and we need it now.
The choice is yours: would you rather give your hard-earned dollars to the big banks and the war profiteers, or to Antiwar.com?

Don’t delay.

Sorry for the interruption.
Continue to Antiwar.com

 

Contact akeaton@antiwar.com or call 323-512-7095 for more information.

Trillion dollar ripoff is dead…for now

In Congress, Economics, Libertarian, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Republican, Taxation, Terrorism, Torture, US Government on September 29, 2008 at 7:26 pm

The House version of the Congressional wall street bankers bailout ripoff is dead. Conservative Republicans united with liberal Democrats in a narrow victory against the muddled middle, but the fight is not over.

Terra Eclipse has united a diverse group of interests, including MoveOn, Downsize DC, True Majority, Campaign for Liberty, United Liberty, FreedomWorks and the National Taxpayers Union to oppose and track no votes in the Senate and possible future votes in the House.

pdsa reports at IPR:

Republicans blamed Pelosi’s scathing speech near the close of the debate — which attacked Bush’s economic policies and a “right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation” of financial markets — for the vote’s failure.

“We could have gotten there today had it not been for the partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House,” Minority Leader John Boehner said. Pelosi’s words, the Ohio Republican said, “poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get, to go south.”

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the whip, estimated that Pelosi’s speech changed the minds of a dozen Republicans who might otherwise have supported the plan.

Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Stunning defeat for economy bailout; stocks plunge“, Associated Press, September 29, 2008

Most urgent private message

In Children, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Economics, Fraud, Human Rights Abuses, Humor, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Taxation, Terrorism, US Government on September 25, 2008 at 1:00 am

H/T Delaware Libertarian

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had a crisis that has caused the need for a large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Franklin Raines, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. You may know him as the Chief Economic Advisor for Senator Obama’s presidential campaign, and the former head of Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2006.

Let me assure you that this transaction is 100% safe. Mr. Raines is completely trustworthy with your money. His record speaks for itself.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of friend so the funds can be transferred. Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully

Henry “Hank” Paulson

Minister of Treasury

TN State Employees Being Paid to Sing About Taxes

In Taxation on July 30, 2008 at 10:18 am

I believe Mr. Chapman also had a song about taxes. “Free Christians don’t pay taxes on their labor, free Christians don’t pay taxes on their land,…………..” Or something similar. Now, Tennessee state employees are being paid to sing classic hits such as “Like an auditor, assessing for the very first time.” Neither Merle Hagard or Madonna probably intended for their songs to be changed to be about taxes.

They’re tunes about taxes — written and performed at the expense of taxpayers.

State officials call them “training,” but training for what?

Our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams has the videos that may have taxpayers singing the blues.

To the tune of “Hey Jude,” one group sings, “Hey, dude, the check is in the mail.”

The video shows state employees at work.

Another group dances to the music of “Eye of the Tiger,” instead celebrating the “eye of the auditor.”

But these state workers aren’t just spending your tax dollars.

To the tune of “Redneck Woman,” yet another group declares, “I’m a sales tax auditor.”

They’re also the folks in charge of collecting your taxes.

Click here to read full article

How much did this singing cost taxpayers?

“You know, there’s all types of team building that our training office does.”

It’s all part of what the revenue department calls Team Week — five days of training at Gaylord’s Opryland Hotel. Last year, the total cost to taxpayers: almost $150,000.

When reading about taxes, I always think of Former Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant’s quotes about the IRS.

Jim Traficant: “Madam Speaker, an investigation revealed that 16,000 IRS employees illegally used their computers. The report states IRS agents spent 50 percent of their time at work on personal business. If that is not enough to service your revenue, IRS agents illegally used their computers for shopping, stock trading, gambling and pornography. Unbelievable. Think about it. While 60 percent of taxpayer calls to the IRS go unanswered, the IRS agents were watching Marilyn Chambers do the Rotary International. Beam me up here. It is time to pass a flat 15 percent sales tax and abolish this gambling, porno-watching IRS completely. I yield back the internal rectal service of the United States of America.”

IRS Gone Wild: Joe Francis claims alleged tax evasion was a setup

In Celebrities, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Entertainment, Fraud, Law, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Police State, Shine on you crazy diamond, Taxation, US Government on July 26, 2008 at 12:04 am

Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis, currently free on $1.5 million bond, has been accused of claiming $20 million in fraudulent expenses on his tax returns. He has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of tax evasion. If convicted, he faces a possible 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

However, Francis says he never knew anything about the tax problems until after he was indicted, and that the situation is really nothing more than his own CPA setting him up so he could collect a multimillion dollar “reward” from the Internal Revenue Service.

“IRS informant rules permit a CPA who actually plans and initiates the tax return mistakes to still collect the tax informant reward, which in this case could go as high as $10 million. If the case goes criminal, the tax rat gets even more.” – Robert Bernhoft, attorney for Joe Francis

Francis has filed a lawsuit against his former CPA, Michael Barrett, for fraud. Francis alleges that Barrett personally prepared, reviewed and approved tax ledgers with errors in them, and vouched for the correctness of those records with Francis’s tax preparers. Francis also claims that Barrett never brought the errors to his attention, or to the attention of anyone except the IRS; and that he pushed the IRS to bring criminal charges against Francis, so that he could collect a larger bounty.

Joe Francis’s tax evasion trial is presently scheduled to start on September 16th.

Cirino “Reno” Gonzalez faces retrial on both acquitted counts

In Activism, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Law, Law Enforcement, People in the news, Politics, Shine on you crazy diamond, Taxation, US Government on April 22, 2008 at 11:57 pm

From Bombs, Taxes, and Red Crayons:

Earlier this month, the jury in New Hampshire found Reno guilty on two counts, but could not reach an agreement on two other counts, resulting in a mistrial on those two undecided charges.

The government will retry those two unresolved counts on June 23, 2008, according to a recent filing in the Bob Wollfe’s docket.  The prosecutors have asked the judge to delay Wolffe’s sentencing until Reno’s trial is over, because Wolffe is expected to testify against Reno as a condition of his plea agreement.

In case anyone has forgotten, Reno provided security for Ed and Elaine Brown during their standoff against the US Marshals.  He was found guilty of two counts, and his two co-defendants were found guilty on all counts.  To catch up on the case, merely search for “Reno” on this blog.

Government Gone Wild: Extortion Edition

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Drug War, Fraud, Law, Law Enforcement, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Local Politics, Police State, Politics, Socialism, Taxation on April 20, 2008 at 5:16 pm

By now we are all aware that the government can seize your car, your house, your money, etc if they believe the items were purchased with the proceeds of drug transactions. However, the practice of seizing property is actually far more common than that, and far, far more sinister.

Are you aware that the government can steal your house, even if you don’t owe a dime on it, and sell it for as little as one year of back taxes? On top of that they pile on additional extortion fees, and you’ll end up either paying the taxes and fees, or being homeless. They’ll sell it for a small percentage of what the property is worth, and there are predators who actually make a living by buying houses this way, only to resell them.

Are you aware that if you are caught driving a motor vehicle with an expired registration, the government can steal it and place it in an impound, where you will be forced to also pay a high towing fee plus a shocking amount for it to just sit there (usually between $25 and $50 per day) until you pay their extortion fee? Are you aware that if you don’t pay that extortion fee (which at that point includes the fee to the towing company for towing and storage, plus the registration, plus the taxes, plus whatever ticket you got for not having an up-to-date registration) within a short period of time, sometimes as little as 30 days, they will sell your vehicle and you will no longer have any rights to it?

There are predators who actually make a living buying cars that way for resell, too, not to mention the predatory towing companies in cahoots with the government, who make all that extra money for doing nothing (in some places, the government has its own impound lot, but in most, the impound is merely the towing company’s premises).

So, what gives the government the right to take something which doesn’t belong to them, and the right to sell it and give you back nothing no matter how much it was worth, even if you owned the property free and clear?

Only the laws the government has written for its own benefit give them that right, of course. Nothing else gives them that right. There certainly is no constitutional right for the government to steal your property, nor is there a natural right for the government to do such a heinous thing. Extortion, especially on that level, is illegal for everyone except the government.

You are actually far more likely to fall prey to this government extortion scheme if you don’t owe money on your property. Of course, the government knows whether you own it free and clear or not, since they have specifically written laws stating that any lien interest must be filed with them.

Those who fall prey to these schemes are not just those who protest taxes. Instead, most victims are simply good people who fell upon hard times, and many times those hard times are directly caused by government extortion which snowballs.

Let’s say you inherited a home from your parents, and you have a car which you worked and paid for yourself. The home is bought and paid for as well, so you own both your car and your house free and clear. Then let’s say that you work too far away to get there any way except by automobile. You didn’t get your registration paperwork in the mail (not at all unusual in my experience), so you simply forgot it was due. You get stopped by the police because your registration is expired, and they ticket you and impound your vehicle.

At that point, you don’t have the money to get the vehicle out – it will cost you the towing fee, plus daily storage fees, plus personal property taxes, plus registration – and you can’t even make that kind of money because you have lost your job for missing work. You also can’t pay the fine you were levied because you didn’t have an updated registration, so your license is suspended until you pay that, plus about $50 to the DMV to reinstate your license (which in reality requires only a mouse click on a computer).

The only job you can get to feed yourself and your family, and be able to get there and back since you no longer have a car or a license, pays minimum wage. There is no way you will be able to afford to get your vehicle back. So you tell yourself, “that’s okay, I’ve been in hard times before. I’ll eventually I’ll get back on my feet again, and pay the fine and get another car. We’ll scrape by.” In the meantime, the government sells your car right out from under you.

A friend has an old moped they no longer use, and they let you use it so you can get back and forth to a little bit better job. There is no license plate or anything on it, so you assume you don’t have to have that. It’s slower than a bicycle, after all. You are pulled over by the cops, and hit with multiple tickets. You are ticketed for not wearing a helmet, for not having a license plate on it, for not having insurance on it, for not registering it and paying taxes on it …. the list goes on. You are fined hundreds of dollars, even though the vehicle isn’t even yours, and they impound the moped, too. To make sure it gets back the maximum return, the towing company actually sends a tow truck to transport a moped. You also go to jail for driving on a suspended license, even though no one with more than one brain cell would assume you need a drivers’ license to drive a moped, given that they are not supposed to be ridden on main roads because they are so slow.

Once you pay your bail with the little bit of money you’ve saved up to try to get back on your feet, you’re back to zero again. Chances are you’ve lost your latest job because you missed a shift and didn’t call in (since you are in jail, after all).

You get a notice for property taxes, but you can’t pay it so you figure you’ll pay them when you pay everyone else. The government can’t take your house, you think, because it’s paid for and you own it free and clear.

You get another crappy job, and start riding a bicycle to and from work. You are stopped for not having a license on your bicycle, and for not wearing a helmet. More fines ensue, and they impound your bicycle.

You start walking back and forth to work, taking the only job you can find within walking distance, and everything seems okay until a cop shows up giving you legal documents saying your home has been sold for back taxes, and you have only a short period of time (usually 30 or 60 days) to “redeem” what is yours. What’s worse, it has been sold to a stranger for only the amount of the taxes.

Where do you get the money to buy your house back from the extortion agents? At that point your credit is destroyed, so you can’t borrow it.

In many cases, you don’t get the money. The government sells your house and you end up on the streets, with no choice but to depend upon the government to feed and shelter your children, since you lost the good job when your car was impounded, lost another job when the moped was seized and sold and you were arrested, lost your bicycle because it didn’t have tags on it, and eventually ended up having to take whatever crap job you can find where you can walk to and from work. By this time you owe the government thousands in fines, you’re working and supporting a family on minimum wage, and now – as if all that isn’t bad enough – you’re homeless.

The government wants it that way. The more people depend upon it for basic necessities, the more power it has over all of us. It is nothing but communism in action: the people own nothing, because the state has the power to take anything it wants without compensation.

There are many people, every single day, who have encountered these problems, thanks to the many government extortion programs. In fact, I know people who have had these specific problems, so I know for a fact that it can happen, and that it does happen all the time. The mainstream media doesn’t cover it, because to get many stories they must have the cooperation of the politicians who enacted and support these extortion programs. However, whether we see it on the news or not, it is so common that the only thing I find surprising about it, to be quite honest, is that to my knowledge no one has yet snapped and killed someone for stealing their home. You will notice that I said “yet”. It will eventually happen, of that I have no doubt. When it does, I certainly hope libertarians will stand up loud and clear in their defense. I know I will.

As libertarians, we spend a lot of time complaining about federal income taxes. That’s all well and good, but what we should be doing as well is working to stop this kind of rampant government extortion on the state, county, and local level, which destroys the lives of hardworking American families every single day.

If they want to charge taxes, fine; if the taxes get too high, eventually no one will live there, and they will have slit their own throats. However, we should never allow the government to steal property due to nonpayment of taxes, especially when those taxes are levied simply by virtue of owning the property in question. Extortion by force is always wrong, no matter who is doing it, and it must be stopped.

Root’s “brain trust” has a brain fart

In Congress, Economics, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, Taxation, US Government, Wayne Allen Root on April 17, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Third Party Watch posted Wayne Allyn Root’s plan to end federal taxation.

It is tax day, April 15, 2008. What a perfect day to announce our proposal to dramatically reform the American tax system. During this campaign for our party’s nomination, several of my esteemed opponents have spoken in favor of imposing a 30% national sales tax on all goods and services- combined with a check paid to everyone in the country (in the form of an automatic annual tax rebate – whether you’ve earned income or paid taxes, or not). Our campaign has received hundreds of requests to comment on the “Fair Tax,” many of them proponents. But after studying the proposal, we conclude that the “Fair Tax” is a bad idea.

The so-called “Fair Tax” is not an advance for freedom; it is a prescription for tyranny and will relegate our descendents to being little more than welfare-dependent wards of the government.

Advocating a “Fair Tax” is bad for our party and bad for America, and we believe that having our party’s nominee advocate this would tarnish the Libertarian Party’s brand.

Our campaign offers a competing vision.

Imagine instead a country where businesses and individuals would no longer need to account to the government for their income. Imagine a country where we can be free from the Internal Revenue Service. Imagine in one instant eliminating individual federal income taxes, corporate federal income taxes, payroll taxes, death taxes, the marriage penalty, excise taxes, and even the dreaded AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) – all of it at once, gone forever.

No, this is not a dream. It can be a reality in a Root Administration.

Our campaign team’s economic brain trust has crafted an alternative approach that we believe will be attractive to America, consistent with our constitution and right in line with our libertarian ideals. Our plan completely rids America of federal income taxes and the I.R.S., while at the same time restoring power to the American people at the state and local level – just as our founding Fathers intended.

We propose eliminating the income tax and all other sources of federal tax revenues, including payroll taxes, excise taxes and import duties, and replacing it with only one tax: a tax on each state in proportion to its population, with each state deciding for itself how to raise its share of the money.

Not only would this eliminate taxes on income by the United States federal government, it would likely end taxation on income in virtually all states in this country. Most states calculate their own income taxes starting with the taxpayer’s calculation of Federal taxable income. It would be too costly for most states to enact their own income tax systems without being able to leverage the current system of W2s and 1099 filings.

To further reduce the likelihood of even some states imposing income taxes on their residents, if elected I will ask Congress to introduce legislation to update Public Law 86-272 to prohibit states from taxing the business activity of any person or enterprise engaging in interstate commerce, and define this broadly enough to include even the solicitation of customers in more than one state.

Our Founding Fathers understood the power of the purse as an instrument of tyranny. Today, because the U.S. Government taxes its citizens and then kicks back a portion of the money to the states (as it sees fit), the federal government exercises enormous unconstitutional power against the states through various federal mandates, ranging from No Child Left Behind to Real ID. Today’s regime of personal income taxation facilitates this mockery of our system of Federalism.

Our vision for dramatic change in U.S. tax policy is as simple as it is revolutionary in scope. With our plan there will be only 50 taxpayers in our country writing checks to the U.S. Treasury each year. With no other source of revenue to the U.S. Government, the balance of power would be forever dramatically reversed back to the states (just as our Founding Fathers envisioned).

Moreover, because these 50 states (and their taxpayers) will have a bias toward keeping tax dollars at home instead of sending them to Washington, they will have great incentive to mount enormous political pressure against Congress to reduce the size of government- thereby reducing both spending and taxes.

Some of the unnecessary and wasteful federal spending that would be first on the chopping block for this President (a perfect description for the son of a butcher) would be welfare, entitlements of all kinds including corporate welfare, dramatic cuts in foreign aid, a dramatic reduction in military bases across the globe, and dramatic cuts in wasteful pentagon spending. It’s high time to stop spending billions of our tax dollars to defend wealthy allies such as Japan, South Korea and Western Europe.

It’s time to de-fund and eliminate entire government departments and bureaucracies – starting with the Dept of Education (which is not authorized or mentioned in our constitution). The first step toward improving our education system (and saving our tax dollars) is to keep the money at the state and local level, giving less power to the federal government and teachers unions, and more power, freedom and choice to parents.

Under this plan, if Congress chose not to reign in out-of-control federal spending, it runs the risk that states could respond by withholding taxes from the federal government, which is the ultimate “check and balance.”

Power would be restored to the states, just as Thomas Jefferson envisioned when he authored the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, arguably the most libertarian President in United States history, declared the primary responsibility of the American President was “to render ineffective and invisible the very government he is elected to lead.”

Jefferson and the Founding Fathers intended for taxes to be minimal and up to each state to decide. Jefferson said of taxes, “Government shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” Jefferson believed taxes were completely up to the discretion of individual states when he said, “The true theory of our constitution is that states are independent as to everything within themselves…” and even went so far as to recognize the right of states to nullify federal laws within their own borders, describing federal intrusion into state matters as “interference by a foreign government.”

Our founding father Thomas Jefferson would certainly approve of this plan to switch the power of taxation and spending decisions from the federal to the state level.

With this one sweeping change, devolving power from Washington to the states, tax and regulatory policy at the state level takes on greater importance. In this environment, competition amongst the states for business and residents would likely become fierce. States that impose high taxes or forms of taxation unpopular with their residents will be punished with losses in population. States that create an environment of low taxation and fair forms of taxation will be rewarded with population gains. Taxpayers will be better able to monitor how their money is spent up close and personal at the state and local level. A major shift of all taxation (and most spending) from the distant and draconian federal level to the state level can only be positive for the American taxpayer.

We believe this arrangement is exactly what our Founding Fathers intended – more power at the state and local level, less power at the federal level, and taxation determined by each individual state. This plan respects our Constitution, expands your personal freedom, restores power to the American people (and taxpayers), and increases the money you keep in your wallet. Please join us in this campaign to restore Federalism, returning power from Washington back to the states and to the people.

Root seems to be merely saying what he thinks libertarians want to hear, and not really thinking this through. He also uses a lot of words to say very little. Most of what he wrote seems intended to talk us into agreeing with him, as if we’re not smart enough to see right through his plan for what it really is.

Many of those posting comments on Third Party Watch pointed out that Root is still learning, and I think that’s wonderful. We should always encourage those who are interested in libertarianism to learn more about it. However, do we want someone who is still learning about libertarianism to represent the Libertarian Party as its presidential candidate? I should think not, especially when their background tells us that they are not a libertarian by nature.

Will his tax plan work? Of course not, especially since many states already tax income and he wants to take that ability away from them, while also placing a huge financial burden upon them. Congress represents the interests of the states, after all. No way will Congress ever go for that idea … unless of course they realize that they can make much, much more money by grossly overtaxing the citizens, and blaming it on the federal government.

The states will not be put off by the necessity of enacting a financial reporting plan similar to that of the W-2, as Root believes. They would just make laws requiring their own forms, and copy the federal forms. They could even just copy the federal laws, and change the specifics, and set up the computer program necessary to keep track of the information. If Root thinks they won’t do that, he has no business running for President, because it is proof that he has no clue how the real world works. Government does only one thing very, very efficiently, and that’s picking the pockets of its citizens.

His plan is setting up the American people for taxation at a rate which could only be described as financial rape. He may be getting rid of the IRS, but he is not really getting rid of income tax, because what states lack in income tax, they more than make up for in other taxes. Taxpayers are going to get hit for a predetermined amount, and it doesn’t matter what the government calls it, it’s still picking our pockets. In reality, his plan will make overall tax rates far worse than they already are.

His plan is not only poorly thought out, it’s dangerous to the American people. In states with a high number of financially disadvantaged citizens, it could prove catastrophic. If the states are required to pay the federal government based upon population, the taxpaying members of society will end up paying far more to the states than they pay now to the federal government, in order to make up for the indigent population. As a result, many working-class families will be taxed into poverty by the states.

I could go on and on, but in short, his “brain trust” had a brain fart. This is not the first time that’s happened. The last time Root put out an issue release, he wanted to bring the entire federal government to an abrupt halt by refusing to fund any federal agencies. He obviously has not thought that through, either. While some libertarians will applaud ideas such as Root’s, the more pragmatic among us will recognize that Root’s ideas are unrealistic. It took over two hundred years for the government to get the way it is today, and that cannot be undone overnight, by Root or anyone else.

Libertarians need to look beyond the facade which is Wayne Allyn Root. This is all part of a much bigger plan for him, which does not involve the Libertarian Party. He is doing exactly what Ron Paul did: getting a name for himself and some support by running for President as a Libertarian, then jumping back to the Republican Party so he can get a seat in Congress, and possibly run at a later date for President as a Republican. Libertarians are nothing but a stepping stone for this man.

Why he thinks no one will see through that is beyond me, except that he apparently believes libertarians are stupid.

Jury finishes deliberating in Brown supporter case

In Courts and Justice System, Crime, Law, Taxation on April 11, 2008 at 2:00 am

According to Bombs, Taxes, and Red Crayons, it’s been quite a day at the trial of the Brown supporters, but the jury has finally delivered its final verdict.

Earlier in the day, there was an outburst in the courtroom.

Gonzalez’s outburst

Lawyers for Gonzalez and the government met in a room adjoining the courtroom for more than half an hour following the reading of the verdicts. After their conference, they met with Singal in his chambers. The judge later instructed the jury to keep deliberating.

Just before the jury left the room, Gonzalez yelled a message to them.

“Jury nullification is your right,” he said. A second statement was difficult to hear.

Singal called the parties back into his chambers after the outburst.

There was another outburst when a supporter, Joe Haas, yelled “point of order”, and the judge had him removed from the courtroom.  According to the Concord Monitor, Chief Deputy Marshal Gary Dimartino said later that Haas was merely escorted from the building, and he was not arrested.

The jury later returned with guilty verdicts against Cirino “Reno” Gonzalez on the aiding and abetting and conspiracy charges, but they were unable to reach a verdict on the other charges.

It is unknown whether the government will retry Reno Gonzalez on the charges not resolved.