Monthly Archives: September 2007

Ron Paul Wins Maryland GOP Straw Poll

As reported by the Washington Post:

A curious thing happened this year at the Maryland Republican Party booth at the State Fair: A GOP presidential straw poll was won by Ron Paul, the idiosyncratic congressman from Texas who is a fierce critic of the Iraq war.

Perhaps just as curious was the Maryland GOP’s decision to trumpet the results in a news release last week with the headline: “Maryland GOP Presidential Straw Poll Is a Big Success; Grassroots Candidate Wins Surprise Upset.”

According to the release, Paul received 263 votes, and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (for whom Republican former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is toiling) was second with 220 votes. (Ehrlich received three write-in votes.) Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson– who had yet to declare his candidacy — finished third with 188 votes. No other candidate cracked 100 votes.

All told, nearly 1,000 people cast ballots in the Maryland GOP’s first-ever presidential straw poll at the fair. The party said the straw poll was open to everyone of voting age, regardless of party affiliation, who stopped by the GOP booth.

The campaigns of nine GOP presidential candidates were invited to have representatives at the booth. It turns out only Paul had someone there all 11 days, the party said.

“The final vote showing Ron Paul won is a lesson for all campaigns of how grass-roots politics can make all the difference,” said Chris Cavey, first vice chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and co-chairman of the party’s State Fair Planning Committee.

“The Paul campaign repeatedly e-mailed their base of support to turn out at the State Fair to cast a vote for Dr. Paul, and in doing so, demonstrated that a small, organized operation can beat the odds.”

This is perhaps the most positive thing I’ve seen in print from at Republican in a leadership position about the Paul campaign.

Set Your TiVo

I’m not sure whether this is wise or not, but Ron Paul is scheduled to step into the inane lion’s den that is The O’Reilly Factor on Monday’s 8pm episode.

Nick Bradley at Lew Rockwell’s Blog thinks Fox News is trying to downplay Paul’s appearance by scheduling it opposite the premier of the opening game of Monday Night Football.

Frankly, I think that’s nonsense.

But I’m not sure why the campaign is going after an appearance like this anyway. O’Reilly is, at heart, a blowhard, he’ll talk over whoever his guest is and won’t allow anyone to make their point. Congressman Paul is, quite honestly, too polite to give Bill O’Reilly what he deserves, and very few of the people who watch The O’Reilly Factor are likely to vote for Ron Paul anyway.

Nonetheless, I’m sure it’s likely to make for some great YouTube clips on Tuesday morning.

Is non-interventionism immoral?

“The noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and the war’s desolation.” Robert Heinlein Starship Troopers

For as long as I can remember, people interested in politics have been debating various crises where the main question was whether or not the U.S. military should go and bomb somebody who was doing something bad. All too often the debate involved two camps talking past each other, with the proponents arguing that the bad guys were really bad, and the opponents arguing that it was a waste of tax-payer money. Eventually Hitler is brought up, and then the debate becomes useless because few things kill rationality in a conversation quicker than accusing someone of supporting the Holocaust.

These arguments pit two truisms against each other. The first is Jon Stuart Mill’s observation that “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends than that good men should look on and do nothing.” The second principle is Thomas Jefferson’s observation that “War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.” Both truisms are correct yet seem to be irreconcilable.

Often, when two principles that are correct seem to contradict each other, it is because the thinker is making a bad assumption, and this is the case here. The choice is not between “looking on and doing nothing” on the one hand and “war” on the other. There are many ways to resist or oppose evil that do not involve “war”. » Read more

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.

Osama bin Laden: Source Or Symbol ?

Fred Thompson has only been in the Republican race a day and he’s already causing controversy:

ABC News’ Bret Hovell and Jennifer Parker report: Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., has only been an official Republican presidential candidate for a day. But his comments are already drawing fire from his GOP rivals.

“Bin Laden is more symbolism than anything else,” Thompson said while campaign in Iowa Friday. “I think it demonstrates to people once again that we’re in a global war.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., publicly disagreed with Thompson, arguing the al-Qaeda leader poses a significant threat to Americans.

“He’s more than a symbol,” McCain told ABC News when asked about Thompson’s comments. “He’s motivating and recruiting using the internet as we speak. He’s a threat. He’s a threat.”

McCain said bin Laden poses an enormous threat to Americans because of his ability to communicate, motivate and recruit people who are dedicated to the destruction of the U.S.

“It’s very important that we get him. I’ll get him,” McCain said.

I disagree with some of what Thompson says about the connection between Iraq and the War on Terror, but he does have a point here. Capturing and killing Osama bin Laden, both noble goals given the acts he has coordinated against Americans and others, is a noble goal, but, at this point, it seems clear that neither will entirely end terrorism as a threat.

But it’s easy to have a nice convenient target to point to, so it’s understandable why the other Republicans are reacting the way they do.

A Ron Paul-Mike Huckabee Rematch ?

That, it seems, is what CNN would like to see happen:

After the recent FoxTV-managed GOP debate fireworks in New Hampshire, CNN is actively seeking to set up an “immediate” further debate between Ron Paul (R-Tex) and former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (AR). Huckabee has already accepted, certain presidential campaign observers say. And these sources add that the Ron Paul’s campaign is close to accepting as well, if the head-to-head discussion is not treated as a “sound bite” and lasts longer than a few minutes. It is not clear who would moderate such an exchange.

Ron Paul and Huckabee had a sharp exchange of words over the Iraq war during the recent GOP debate, with Ron Paul insisting, as he has throughout his campaign, that the war was a failed policy and that the troops ought to be withdrawn. Huckabee retorted that for the “honor” of the United States, the war must continue. Huckabee’s campaign manager Chip Saltsman said of the exchange: “Governor Huckabee clearly had a break-out moment during his exchange with Congressman Ron Paul during [the] debate – which illuminated his leadership qualities, experience, dedication to principle, and vision for a unified America.”

Saltsman’s opinion was echoed by some who seemed – following the debate – to give Huckabee the victory; however several GOP debate polls showed that Ron Paul won the overall debate handily, including Fox’s own cell-text poll. Ron Paul is a classical conservative in the Jeffersonian tradition and does not believe in aggressive military confrontations overseas without strong provocation. He hews to the minimalist tradition of government. His views have seen increasing mainstream acceptance during the nascent presidential campaign and his fund-raising continues to strengthen.

Close observers of the current campaign scene said that it is apparent that Huckabee is running out of money and was looking for a confrontation such as the one that developed in the hopes of raising his profile – and additional cash. These sources add that Huckabee has apparently adopted the strongly pro-war line of presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in the hopes of being considered as a vice-presidential running mate for Giuliani. The mainstream press currently considers Giuliani to be the current Republican front-runner.

First a few observations. It’s clear that Huckabee had planned this confrontation from the beginning. Until the Iowa Straw Poll last month, he was basically a non-entity. Now he has a chance to turn himself into a contender. If not for the Presidential nomination, then maybe for the Vice-Presidential nomination. And, since, Giuliani is the apparent GOP frontrunner right now, he decided that appealing to that point of view would be in his interest. It’s an interesting strategy given the fact that Ron Paul’s first breakout moment back in May came in a debate confrontation with Giuliani himself, which I am still convinced Paul got the better of.

In other words, Huckabee is a player, and a phony and more concerned with his own electoral prospects than what’s actually the right thing to do.

Second, while it would seem to be wise for the Paul campaign to accept this invitation, it does invite some risks. There’s more to being a libertarian than just being opposed to the continued insanity that is the American occupation of Iraq (although I concede that many, including some contributors here will disagree with my opinion on the Iraq issue).

By continually being drawn into debates over Iraq and the War on Terror, Paul risks being defined as a one-issue candidate. And, while Iraq is an important issue, it’s not the only one, and it’s certainly not the only threat to individual liberty that Americans need to be worried about.

Fred and the First Amendment (not a good record)

Fred Thompson tried to weasel his way out of his past support of McCain-Feingold today with Laura Ingram, but the Club for Growth did some fact checking on his claims:

Thompson says at about the 10:55 mark “the issue ad thing wasn’t even being discussed as far as I remember when the first debates were had and the first bill was proposed. It was a matter of whether you wanted to get rid of soft money.”

At 11:45, he says “they added on something that was a mistake — and that is the issue ad that you were talking about, and I voted for all of it. So I support the first part [the ban on soft money to parties], but I don’t support that.”

Fact: He did support it. You can debate about what you support when you vote for a bill on final passage that has warts, but when you sponsor a bill, it’s your work. No one makes you sponsor your own bill.

Take a look for yourself at title II of S. 27, the so-called “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001.” Title II has limits on issue ads.

Now the late Sen. Wellstone offered an amendment, and made the provision even worse.
[…]
Thompson filed an amicus brief (pdf., see pp. 26-30) to the Supreme Court defending not only the original language banning groups from running issue ads, but the toxic Wellstone amendment too!

So he sponsored it, voted for it, and then defended it in Court.

Everything is Economics

I’ve said this many times before: economics isn’t the study of money; it’s the study of incentives, choices, and consequences.

In this video from the TED conference, economist Emily Oster performs an economic analysis of the spread of AIDS in Africa and shows once again, it’s about the economics (which means it’s about peoples choices and incentives):

What is abundantly clear here, is that government aid does little or nothing to combat AIDS; but choice, and incentives do a hell of a lot.

This is one of the fundamental principles of libertarianism in action. Rational actors, making rational, self interested choices.

Now, here’s another TED conference video, but this one you may have heard of before; it’s Andrew Mwendas speech about how foreign aid has actually HURT Africa.

Mwendas central point (though the language he uses may be a little to the left of the way I would put it) is that foreign aid has hurt Africa, because it has isolated the people from market driven incentives and consequences; and has in fact created perverse incentives towards greater poverty, and policies which HURT the people and economis of the continent. This is because more poverty means more aid, which means less attempts (and less success) at breaking out of poverty, ad infinitum (the perverse incentive).

Everything is economics, really.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Is Osama bin Laden Abandoning Head Chopping For Tax Cutting ?

Okay, it’s late in the day on Friday, so this post is very tounge-in-cheek.

But, I can’t help being amused by some of the latest ramblings from Osama bin Laden:

He says to the American people, “you made one of your greatest mistakes, in that you neither brought to account nor punished those who waged this war, not even the most violent of its murderers, [former Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld…”

“You permitted Bush to complete his first term, and stranger still, chose him for a second term, which gave him a clear mandate from you — with your full knowledge and consent — to continue to murder our people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then you claim to be innocent! The innocence of yours is like my innocence of the blood of your sons on the 11th — were I to claim such a thing.”

This guy’s got to have a media adviser. The first thing you do is mention George W. Bush, whose approval ratings are in the toilet.

Then, you bring up the Neo-Cons:

Bin Laden says President Bush’s words echo “neoconservatives like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Richard Perle.”

And, since Americans hate all their politicians right now, the Democrats:

[Y]ou elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven’t made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there.”

And, to show you care, the economic plight of Americans:

He also speaks to recent issues grabbing headlines in the United States, referring to “the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes…”

Hmm, sounds just like the platitudes you hear in the standard political stump speech.

But this quote has to qualify as the single funniest thing I’ve heard all day:

“To conclude,” bin Laden says, “I invite you to embrace Islam.” He goes on to say: “There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling 2.5 percent.”

Which just makes you wonder. Has Osama bin Laden been reading Hayek ?

Fred Thompson on Federalism

More here on Thompson’s essay on federalism

I don’t know a whole lot about Fred Thompson’s record at this point, but I do like most of what he has to say about federalism. He’s at least speaking my language:

Before anything else, folks in Washington ought to be asking first and foremost, “Should government be doing this? And if so, then at what level of government?”

Among the candidates who actually have a chance of winning the nomination, who else is even asking this question? Giuliani? McCain? Romney? Huckabee? I think not. As I have said before, the perfect candidate is not in this race. Fred Thompson is by no means a libertarian either (but neither was Ronald Reagan). Brad has raised some legitimate questions about Thompson which also need to be fleshed out.

I’m by no means endorsing Fred Thompson at this point but as far as I can tell at this moment, he may be the least worst choice. We should at least hear him out and take a look at his record before writing him off.

Nifong Goes to Jail; Exonerated Players Seek Settlement and Reform

RALEIGH, N.C. – The prosecutor who led the now-discredited Duke lacrosse rape case reported to jail Friday to serve a 24-hour sentence for contempt of court. The city, meanwhile, was in settlement talks with the three exonerated players.

According to a person close to the case, attorneys for the three players are seeking $30 million from Durham and reforms in the legal process.

If the terms aren’t met, they will sue early next month, the person told The Associated Press on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proposed settlement wasn’t complete…

[…]

Attorneys Brendan Sullivan and Barry Scheck met Wednesday with Durham officials to discuss a possible settlement to avoid a lawsuit. The lawyers stressed that the money — about $10 million each for David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann over five years — must be accompanied by legal reforms, the person close to the case told AP.

Obviously, I am very disappointed that Michael Nifong is only serving one day in jail for his disgraceful criminal behavior and even more disappointed that that lying whore Crystal Mangum who made the false charges in the first place is apparently getting a pass. But in the grand scheme of things, if these young men are successful in receiving their settlement and force reforms in the legal process, maybe future cases like this will be handled more carefully. As I have mentioned before, it should be very expensive for governments which make mistakes such as this when someone’s freedom is at stake.

Peggy Noonan Warns The GOP

It’s time, she stays, to stop laughing at Ron Paul and start debating him:

The debate was full of fireworks about Iraq, about its essentials–the rightness of the endeavor, and what should rightly be done now. From the libertarian Ron Paul a blunt argument against the war: We never should have gone in and we should get out. “The people who say there’ll be a blood bath are the same ones who said it would be a cakewalk. . . . Why believe them?” His foreign policy: “Mind our own business, bring our troops home, defend our country, defend our borders.” After Mr. Paul spoke, it seemed half the room booed, but the other applauded. When a thousand Republicans are in a room and one man of the eight on the stage takes a sharply minority viewpoint on a dramatic issue and half the room seems to cheer him, something’s going on.

Ron Paul’s support isn’t based on his persona, history or perceived power. What support he has comes because of his views. As he spoke, you could hear other candidates laughing in the background. They should stop giggling, and engage in a serious way

Something tells me that’s not likely to happen.

Portions Of Patriot Act Declared Unconstitutional

A Federal Judge in New York has ruled that key portions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional:

A federal judge struck down controversial portions of the USA Patriot Act in a ruling that declared them unconstitutional yesterday, ordering the FBI to stop its wide use of a warrantless tactic for obtaining e-mail and telephone data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York said the FBI’s use of secret “national security letters” to demand such data violates the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers, because the FBI can impose indefinite gag orders on the companies and the courts have little opportunity to review the letters.

The secrecy provisions are “the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values,” Marrero wrote. His strongly worded 103-page opinion amounted to a rebuke of both the administration and Congress, which had revised the act in 2005 to take into account an earlier ruling by the judge on the same topic.

Although a government appeal is likely, the decision could eliminate or sharply curtail the FBI’s issuance of tens of thousands of national security letters (NSLs) each year to telephone companies, Internet providers and other communications firms. The FBI says it typically orders that such letters be kept confidential to make sure that suspects do not learn they are being investigated, as well as to protect “sources and methods” used in terrorism and counterintelligence probes.

The ruling follows reports this year by Justice Department and FBI auditors that the FBI potentially violated privacy laws or bureau rules more than a thousand times while issuing NSLs in recent years — violations that did not come to light quickly, partly because of the Patriot Act’s secrecy rules.

While it’s unclear how well this will stand up on appeal, it’s good to see that there are at least some members of the Federal Judiciary willing to stand up against the derogation of the Fourth Amendment.

That Sam Brownback Sure Can Draw a Crowd!

http://i2.wp.com/x7d.xanga.com/ee3c0210c0c32145919714/m108165385.jpg?w=860

This photo just warms my heart. Here we have the Christian Right’s dream candidate Sam Brownback drawing…let’s just say a less than impressive crowd in New Hampshire. Could it be that his vision of government imposed family values isn’t resonating even within the G.O.P.? Could this be a sign that maybe, just maybe the Christian Right is losing some if its control over the party? That would probably be too optimistic of an assessment but hope springs eternal.

Related:
Not Even to Save the Life of the Mother

Ron Paul vs. Mike Huckabee On Iraq

I didn’t watch tonight’s Republican debate, but, from this description, it sounds like Ron Paul stuck it to Mike Huckabee on Iraq:

(CNN) — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made a dramatic statement regarding Iraq at Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate, declaring, “We bought it because we broke it.”

The comment came in perhaps the most compelling moment of the Republican debate so far, when the Arkansas Republican directly confronted Texas Rep. Ron Paul on his position for an immediate withdrawal from the country.

“Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion for historians, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it,” he said. “We’ve got a responsibility to the honor of this country and the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor they deserve.”

Amid loud cheers, Paul responded, “The American people didn’t go in. A few people advising this administration, a small number of people called the neoconservatives, hijacked our foreign policy. They are responsible, not the American people.”

Huckabee quickly fired back: “Congressman, we are one nation. We can’t be divided. We have to be one nation under God. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country.”

As the crowd roared louder, Paul answered, “When we make a mistake, it is the obligation of the people — through their representatives — to correct the mistake, not continue the mistake. We have dug a hole for ourselves and we have dug a hole for our party. We are losing elections, and we are going down next year if we don’t change it.”

Huckabee replied loudly, “Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor.”

Losing elections, not important. Losing lives, apparently not important either. Losing international credibility, heck who cares.

Honor ? Have the Neocons turned into the Klingon Empire ?

YouTube clips coming if and when they’re available.

Update: Check out the clips, basically, Ron kicked ass under some heavy fire from the Fox News crew.

School Choice For Me, But Not For Thee

That, it appears, is the attitude shared by a sizable plurality of Senators and Members of Congress who choose to send their children to private schools rather than public schools:

Many Members of Congress value the opportunity to choose a safe and effective school for their own children, yet many of these same Members consis­tently oppose school choice legislation that would give the same opportunity to other families. For example, Senators Edward Kennedy (D–MA) and Hil­lary Clinton (D–NY) have been outspoken opponents of school choice initiatives even though both have sent their children to private schools.

Since 2000, The Heritage Foundation has con­ducted several surveys of Members of Congress to determine how many Senators and Representatives practice school choice by sending their children to private school. In 2007, The Heritage Foundation updated this survey and found that 37 percent of Representatives and 45 percent of Senators in the 110th Congress sent their children to private schools—almost four times the rate of the general population.

Based on the survey results, if all of the Members who exercised school choice for their own children had supported school choice in policy, every major legislative effort in recent years to give parents school choice would have passed. Congress should support policies that give all families the opportunity to choose the best school options for their children.

I don’t begrudge the efforts of Congressman and Senators who want to do better for the children, and who wish to give them an education better than what’s offered in a public school. The question is why they, and the rich people they often talk about taxing to death, should be the only ones able to do make this choice.

Washington, D.C. Files It’s Appeal In Parker v. D.C.

The District Of Columbia today formally set forth the legal basis for it’s petition for an appeal of the decision earlier this year that struck down a decades-old gun ban as unconstitutional:

The District today asked the Supreme Court to uphold the city’s ban on private ownership of handguns, saying the appeals court decision that overturned the law “drastically departs from the mainstream of American jurisprudence.”

Most legal experts believe the court will accept the case, which could lead to a historic decision next year on whether the ambiguously worded Second Amendment to the Constitution protects private gun ownership or only imparts a civic right related to maintaining state militias.

The District argues in its petition for review that its law–one of the toughest handgun bans in the nation–should be upheld regardless of whether the court sides with the so-called “individualist” or “collective” legal theories.

“It is eminently reasonable to permit private ownership of other types of weapons, including shotguns and rifles, but ban the easily concealed and uniquely dangerous modern handgun,” states the petition, filed by District Attorney General Linda Singer. It adds: “Whatever right the Second Amendment guarantees, it does not require the District to stand by while its citizens die.”

“We’re going to fight to uphold a law that . . . has public support,” Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said at a news conference outside D.C. police headquarters. “The only possible outcome of more handguns in the home is more violence. Our appeal will help the District of Columbia be able to continue to reduce gun violence.”

Because, you know, there’s been so much less gun violence in the District of Columbia in the thirty years that the handgun ban has been in effect.

Oh, never mind.

Quote Of The Week: God Bless Capitalism

Matt Carrothers via Jason Pye:

 God bless capitalism and the enduring quest across the globe for individual freedom and liberty. Anyone who knocks capitalism while holding a $4 cup of dark roast fair trade organic grande latte purchased at a multinational chain coffee shop really needs to visit their favorite chain bookstore and read P.J. O’Rourke’s latest book, an analysis of Adam Smith’s “On the Wealth of Nations.” You can likely even purchase a cup of coffee at said bookstore, find a chair and read the book for free.

Adam Smith, Ronald Reagan and Juan Valdez would be proud.

The sound you here is 1,000 Starbucks drinking leftists spitting their coffee all over their keyboards.

Taxachusetts: Why Property Taxes Are Going Up Again

The defining characteristic of socialism is that it divorces production from consumption. In other words, in socialist systems consumers are permitted to consume goods without producing anything, and producers are forced to give up the the fruits of their productive labor to consumers without regard to how they (the producers) would like these fruits to be distributed or used.

Of course, since they do not have to limit their appetites to that which their production would support, consumers naturally increase the goods and services that they demand, requiring increasing levels of forcible distribution to support. When the amount of unwanted distribution crosses some threshold, a producer will be tempted to rebel, or at least not work very hard or very carefully. When this phenomenon becomes widespread enough, socialists systems begin to breakdown. Avoiding this trap is possible, and long-running voluntary socialist systems such as Hutterite colonies seem to have perfected a set of customs that do just that.

However, coercive systems take the easy way out and inevitably resort to coercion to attempt to close the gap between consumptive demands and production, especially in the case when production levels are in a decline. Producers are threatened with kidnapping, assault, or even murder if they do not produce more, or hand over the goods they must be ‘hoarding’.

While some socialists such as Lenin or Castro are unabashedly straightforward about their willingness to attack producers who are insufficiently enthusiastic, most socialists are uncomfortable with such naked aggression. They choose to cloak their violent impulses with euphemisms such as demanding that force people to “pay their fair share” or “give back to the community”. They also try to set up confiscatory systems that are mechanistic and impersonal. Governments, being socialist organizations that claim a monopoly on the use of violence in some region of territory, all adopt a system of “property taxes” where property owners are forced to pay the government for the privilege of occupying their land. The protection money extracted from these property owners is then spent on “services” which are consumed by other people. These services can vary from popular ones such as government operated schools to unpopular extravagances such as the marble floors in our new town hall.

To make the tax mechanistic, impersonal, and thus seemingly fair, the town governments typically peg the tax to some percentage of the property’s “fair market value”. The “fair market value”, of course, is determined by appraisers in the employ of the town government, who take their guidance from the prices of recent sales of similar properties nearby. The property owner has little choice in the matter: if he holds on to the property, he is not participating in setting the market price.

In the 1950’s, government officials began to reap an unexpected windfall from this system. It was wholly unexpected, and due entirely to the monetary inflation that had taken place in the decades since FDR had last devalued the U.S. dollar. This process which accelerated dramatically in the 1970’s when the Nixon administration devalued the U.S. dollar again, worked in the following way:

The newly created money by the U.S. central bank was funneled to politically well connected people or firms, working on projects of interest to the U.S. government. In addition, this money, when deposited into the banking system was used as the reserve justifying a large number of loans, increasingly directed by political incentives towards people looking to acquire homes. The end result was a steady increase in the amount of money available for home purchases, and a concomitant increase in sale prices for real estate. Of course, the appraisers took advantage of these price signals to raise the “fair market value” or properties, with the result that taxes increased dramatically.

This of course was a double whammy. The monetary inflation had not uniformly raised prices across the board. Prices are set by sellers who try to set the maximum price that will move all their stock. Some goods and services, particularly those in demand by politically connected firms who received the newly created money first, saw massive price increases, where as firms and people that were economically distant from the money creation had no reason to raise their prices. This latter group saw their incomes grow little, or not at all, while their cost of living increased dramatically. Then they were hit with a tax bill that demanded an increasing share of their dwindling purchasing power.

In the 1980’s, there was a backlash. Here in Massachusetts, a popular referendum limiting tax increases to 2.5% per annum easily passed. But a backdoor was in place: if government officials could convince half of those showing up to a voting booth on a certain day each year to vote for an “override”, the cap could be lifted. So the government officials used an old scheme. They transferred money from popular projects to unpopular ones. They built tony “senior centers” and “modernized town halls” with funds transferred from the road maintenance budgets and school budgets. Then they called for an override explaining that without it the potholes would not get fixed and high-school football would be cancelled. In some towns, people saw though this trick. In others, the referenda were passed by the minority who bothered to vote and voted in support of the increased taxes.

So once again in Massachusetts, we see people being squeezed. Unlike any other expense, they cannot control their taxes, which increase seemingly without limit.

Property tax bills rose an average of $161 in the past year. The average bill for a single family home hit more than $3,962 — an increase of about 4.2 percent compared to last year.

In 65 communities, taxes climbed at a rate of 7 percent or more, according to the state Department of Revenue.
Since 2000, property taxes have jumped nearly 50 percent. Over the past seven years, the average annual property tax hikes for homeowners have ranged from about $150 to nearly $215, The Boston Sunday Globe reported.

The increase has homeowners grumbling that they are being asked to pay higher taxes even as local services are being trimmed.

So long as we force people to pay for others’ consumption through taxes, we will see this phenomenon continue. The consumers will inevitably be able to use the threat of state violence such as evictions and arrests for tax-delinquency to ratchet up the amount of wealth that is forcibly transferred. Their demands will continually outstrip supply, resulting in perpetual “shortages” and crises. It’s a pity that in the U.S. we permit such vital services such as roads, schooling, water and sewage to be provided by a system which discourages thrift, efficiency, and high quality, while encouraging perpetual crises that set neighbors at each others’ throats.

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.
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