Monthly Archives: September 2007

Smoke ‘em if You got ‘em…for the Good of the Children

With the expiration of SCHIP looming on September 30th, the congress plans to extend and expand the program by adding another $35 billion over the next 5 years despite President Bush’s threat to veto the bill. The House passed the bill 265-159 with the support of 45 Republicans. The Senate also is expected to pass the bill with the help of Republicans and other Republicans are being targeted in an effort to override the veto. Fortunately, it appears that there are not enough votes to override the veto, but it’s going to be close.

With projected shortfall of $43 trillion in current entitlement spending, how is it that these Republicans think they can support this monstrosity without receiving the wrath of its base? I have a few theories but I think many believe they can support the program because of the perception that most taxpayers will not be funding the program. On paper, the only people who will be funding SCHIP will be smokers in the form of a $.61 sales tax. Smokers deserve to be punished anyway for their disgusting habit and surely those who crafted the bill arrived at this figure based on how much the SCHIP program is supposed to cost?

The New York Sun found some interesting research on whether or not the tax increase on cigarettes would be enough to fund the program:

We’ve written before on how corrupt is the government’s interest in the cigarette business. It turns out that the government needs to keep people smoking; the Heritage Foundation estimates the government would need to sign up some 22 million more Americans to take up smoking by 2017 to fund this increase in SCHIP. To add to the irony, most smokers are low-income Americans, meaning that the poor essentially will be funding the health insurance of the middle class. Mr. Bush would be right to veto it while working to increase access to private insurance through tax breaks and deregulation.

So if the Heritage Foundation is correct, where will the remaining revenues come from? This sin tax is merely a ruse to get people who otherwise would not support a tax increase to support a tax on others. It’s the old game of pitting one group of Americans against another to achieve political aims. What far too many people fail to realize is that we will all bear these costs; even if the states spent the funds only on health insurance for children (historically these revenues curiously end up funding projects that have nothing to do with the stated purpose of the tax).

Besides this shortfall, insurance for those who choose not to join the government health program will pay higher healthcare costs. Michael F. Cannon of the CATO Institute writes:

Inevitably, many families simply substitute SCHIP for private coverage. Economists Jonathan Gruber of MIT and Kosali Simon of Cornell University find that, in effect, when government expands eligibility for SCHIP and Medicaid, six out of every 10 people added to the rolls already have private coverage. Only four in 10 were previously uninsured.

In other words, SCHIP and Medicaid cover four previously uninsured Americans for the price of 10. That’s a bad deal even by government standards. Yet Republicans want to renew it, and Democrats think it’s an absolute bargain. They want to enroll more than 70 percent of all children.

It gets worse. SCHIP discourages these families from climbing the economic ladder. If a single mother of two earning minimum wage in New Mexico increases her annual earnings by $30,000, her net income does not change: She pays an additional $4,000 in taxes and loses $26,000 in SCHIP and other government benefits. Why should families expend that extra effort if it will leave them no better off financially? Expanding SCHIP would pull even more families into that low-wage trap.

It seems to me that Republicans are supporting this bill because they don’t want to be perceived as “against poor children” (But its not like they will get credit for it anyway come election time). Would it really be that difficult to come up with a free market alternative that would do a better job than a government program ever could? Cannon believes there is such a solution:

Each state forbids its residents to purchase coverage from out of state. That allows each state to enact costly health-insurance regulations without fear of competition from states with more consumer-friendly regulation. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that these regulations increase health premiums by as much as 15 percent.

Congress could make coverage more affordable simply by letting consumers and employers purchase out-of-state coverage. Tearing down those trade barriers would force states to provide the protections consumers demand and eliminate unnecessary regulations. States that don’t provide consumer-friendly regulations would lose premium tax revenue to other states.

Sweeping away those trade barriers would make coverage more affordable without increasing government spending, trapping families in low-wage jobs or increasing prices for private purchasers.

Imagine that: instead of increasing government involvement in healthcare, getting government out of the way would do a better job. For a moment there I thought I would be obligated to take up smoking again…for the good of the children.

Ron Paul Meets Fundraising Goal, Sets New One

A few days ago, the Ron Paul campaign started a campaign to raise $ 500,000 in a single campaign before the end of the quarter on September 30th.

Well, the quarter isn’t over, but the goal has been met.

And, now the campaign is shooting for an equally amazing fundraising goal, $ 1,000,000.


Frankly, I’m floored. And very, very grateful. Our $500,000 online fundraising goal for the end of the quarter was reached so fast it took my breath away. But we can’t stop now. So I am raising the bar to $1 million by midnight, September 30th. I am so grateful for all you have done. Would you help me with this?

Whenever I face a hit piece on tv, or a smear in a newspaper column, I remember my secret weapon: you. In establishment politics, people make campaign contributions because they want something: a contract, a subsidy, a special-interest deal. But the thousands of people who contribute to this campaign want no favors from big government — which must come at the expense of their fellow citizens, and sometimes our soldiers’ lives. They want only what is their God-given, natural, and constitutional right: their freedom.

What a difference from the other campaigns. What a refreshing change from politics as usual. What a sign of the reborn American freedom that can be ours, and our children’s, and our grandchildren’s.

Aggressive wars, income taxes, national IDs, domestic spying, torture regimes, secret prisons, Federal Reserve manipulation — we don’t have to take it any more.

And the next step to not taking it is that $1 million goal. Please give as much as you can, before midnight on Sunday, September 30th.

There are two reasons:

1) We need the money. As we move into the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, then South Carolina, California, Texas, and all the rest, we need your support. We can’t duplicate the spending of the big boys, and we don’t have to, thanks to the internet and our magnificent army of volunteers.

But we need constant website improvements, phone banks, voter registration and get out the vote efforts, mailings, travel, printings, many small offices, targeted TV and radio ads, legal and accounting help, and 101 other things. And without donors like you, we can’t do a darn thing.

2) I want to make the mainstream media sit up and take notice. They did when we beat John McCain for cash-on-hand in the last quarter. This quarter, we can really shock them — if you help. Our total can show the sort of enthusiasm, organization, and grassroots support that will chill every big-government backer, and warm the heart of every lover of freedom — and open the eyes of the media.

Please, help me win a victory for liberty with your most generous gift. You and I are engaged in an historic enterprise. It is growing in power and influence by the day and by the hour. But it will stutter to a stop without people like you. I need your help. Our cause needs your help. We can make $1 million. We can win this thing. Please help me do it. Donate today:



$ 500,000 in less than three days is a pretty tall order, but the website shows they’re already over $ 700,000, so anything is possible.

H/T: The Crossed Pond 

Was Sir Robert Cruising For a Tasing?

Ever wonder why the the police in London are called Bobbies? They got that name from their founder, Sir Robert Peel, who is widely held to be the father of modern policing. I don’t think this is accurate, since modern policing as of the beginning of the 21th century has as much to do with Sir Robert’s ideas as the Borgia papacy had to do with St Peter’s ideas.

Sir Robert Peel is a bit of a conundrum: To his credit, he broke the back of the landed gentry in England by repealing the Corn Laws when he was prime minister. Shamefully, he was a supporter of laws that forbade Catholics from owning land and participating in certain professions. He also passed the first ‘Factory Laws’ which, in effect, punished factory owners for the “crime” of opening businesses that were more attractive to workers than slaving away on farms for no money at all.

However, prior to becoming prime minister, Sir Robert Peel was given the task of introducing professional law enforcers or ‘police’ to London, and here he made his greatest contribution to humanity. Prior to this law enforcement was carried out by whatever men at arms noblemen had at their disposal. The result, when coupled with a death penalty for felonies, was predictable, law enforcement was generally performed by amateurs whose mistakes or malice sent many an innocent person to the gallows.

In an attempt to establish a police force that possessed discipline and professionalism, Sir Robert Peel published the following principles:

The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder

1.The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.

2.Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

3.The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

4.Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

5.Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.

6.Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

7.Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

8.The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

I think in this day and age, most police have never learned these principles, which shows up in the increasingly draconian and brutal relationship policemen seem to have with the rest of the polity.

I especially want to call attention to the last three principles:

Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

Many policemen have taken to viewing themselves as being somehow separated from the citizenry. This view manifests itself in terms like “civilian” for citizens who are not police, and talk of “the thin blue line”. The view increasingly seems to be that the police are the fathers or teachers, and that the non-police are savages or children who must be disciplined and restrained lest they make Lord of the Flies a reality.

This view is wrong and incompatible with a civilized society. We are all police: the neighbor who stops kids from vandalizing a mail-box, the armed grandmother who subdues an armed robber are all police. The police are the people: some policemen have been proved to be serial killers, muggers, thieves, arsonists, serial rapists, and extortionists. There is nothing special about a person who puts on a blue uniform, straps a gun to his waist and goes out to walk around the city looking for trouble.

Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

Not only are police appearing to usurp the power of the judiciary, they are actively subverting it, with the support of legislators Asset forfeitures permit police to seize property for their own use without a trial. Policemen have in several instances acted as executioners or death squads. Warrants are routinely rubber stamped by the judiciary, particularly in areas where judges are elected and are fearful of the police union endorsing their opponents in elections.

The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

The hysterical zero tolerance policies, the high-visibility shows of force, the actions to “send a message to whatever malefactor is the target-du-jour” do not improve society, make it safer or more orderly. While they may make a splash that leads to more revenue from the legislature, in the end, they seriously damage the fabric of society. Police who engage in such destructive activities are in effect peeing in their water-well.

Police have to live in the same society that their enemies do. They should bear this in mind – for they are destroying it.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Part of PATRIOT Act ruled unconstitutional

Another federal judge has ruled that sections of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act are unconstitutional:

Two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow search warrants to be issued without a showing of probable cause, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, “now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”

Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield sought the ruling in a lawsuit against the federal government after he was mistakenly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.

The Patriot Act greatly expanded the authority of law enforcers to investigate suspected acts of terrorism, both domestically and abroad.

The Fourth Amendment says:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

You cannot simply throw the Constitution out the window. Individuals still have rights and the government still has limits.

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