An article on MSNBC showed KING5 “Investigators” sting operation of “black market” cigarette vendors in Seattle, WA http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39771924/ns/local_news-seattle_wa/
The alleged reporter railed on the criminals for stealing as much as $10 million in revenue for the WA tax collector. I guess it never occurred to the reporter that the tax might be the problem, not the black marketer.
Members of a civil society do not object to taxes; we object to excessive taxes used to fund unrestrained, undisciplined, wasteful government bureaucrats. The liberal see vices like cigarettes, alcohol, small business, and income as welcome targets to their abusive tax schemes.
The problem is, however, that the liberal is unable to comprehend that people change their behavior when the government taxes. Math 101 for the liberal tax collector assumes that if a 10% tax on $100 yields $10, then a 30% tax will yield $30. The two problems with the simpleton’s view of the world is that taxation changes behavior, AND causes people to develop tactics to avoid taxation.
Some in Seattle probably cut down on their smoking, let’s say the additional 20% tax caused a 5% reduction in consumption; so the 30% tax yields $28.50 – the liberal rocket scientist probably accounted for this. What they don’t count on is those pesky unalienable rights like LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Liberty exist in the very core of our being; as such, we are inherently in tune with government excesses that result in tyranny.
When any tax becomes excessive, we naturally object and will avoid it. In this case the tobacco tax crossed the line and people found an alternative that avoids the tax entirely. Good luck in trying to stuff that genie back into the bottle. As the article states, cigarette tax revenues dropped from $44 Million to $34 Million; the tax and spend geniuses got a lesson in hard knocks – high taxes REDUCES revenue. In January when the taxing affects of Obamacare descend upon us, I will be excited to see the endless varieties of techniques that will be developed to reduce tax liabilities.
But aren’t those “law breakers?” I don’t think so. The Declaration of Independence states that if our government devolves into “utter despotism,” we have a “duty” to oppose it. The founders put it in writing, but I submit that we all know this in our gut, and causes us to reject tyranny and defy it. KING5 may call these people black marketers, but I think they may very well be responsible citizens defying an unreasonable government with peaceful acts of civil disobedience.
A MINORITY VIEW
BY WALTER WILLIAMS
RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2010
Leftists, Progressives and Socialists
One of the greatest sources of confusion and deception is the difference between leftists, progressives, socialists, communists and fascists. I thought about this as I caught a glimpse of the Oct. 2 “One Nation” march on Washington. The participants proudly marched with banners, signs and placards reading “Socialists,” “Ohio U Democratic Socialists,” “International Socialists Organization,” “Socialist Party USA,” “Build A Socialist Alternative” and other signs expressing support for socialism and communism. They had stands where they sold booklets under the titles of “Marxism and the State,” “Communist Manifesto,” “Four Marxist Classics,” “The Road to Socialism” and similar titles.
The gathering had the support of the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, stalwarts of the Democratic Party such as Al Sharpton and organizations such as the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Green for All, the Sierra Club, and the Children’s Defense Fund.
What goes unappreciated is that socialists and communists have produced the greatest evil in mankind’s history. You say, “Williams, what in the world are you talking about? Socialists, communists and their fellow travelers care about the little guy in his struggle for a fair shake! They’re trying to promote social justice.” Let’s look at some of the history of socialism and communism.
Nazism is a form of socialism. In fact, Nazi stands for National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Nazis murdered 20 million of their own people and in nations they captured. The unspeakable acts of Adolf Hitler’s Socialist Workers’ Party pale in comparison to the horrors committed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Between 1917 and 1987, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and their successors murdered, or were otherwise responsible for the deaths of, 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, Mao Tse-tung and his successors were responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese. The most authoritative tally of history’s most murderous regimes is in a book by University of Hawaii’s Professor Rudolph J. Rummel, “Death by Government.” A wealth of information is provided at his website: (http://bit.ly/WgWaf).
You say, “Williams, isn’t it a bit unfair to lump the “One Nation” communists, socialists and their supporters with mass murderers such as Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung? After all, they expressed no such murderous goal.” When Hitler, Stalin and Mao were campaigning for political power, you can bet they didn’t campaign on the promise to murder millions of their own people, and probably the thought of doing so never crossed their minds. Those horrors were simply the end result of long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the quest for “social justice.” It was decent but misguided earlier generations of Germans, Russians and Chinese, like many of today’s Americans, who would have cringed at the thought of genocide, who built the Trojan horse for a Hitler, a Stalin or Mao to take over. But as Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
While America’s leftists, socialists and communists condemn Hitler, they give the world’s most horrible murderers a pass. First, they make a false distinction between fascism, communism and socialism but more importantly, they sympathize with the socioeconomic goals of communism and socialism. The primary goal of communism and socialism is government ownership or control over the means of production. In the U.S., only a few people call for outright government ownership of the means of production. They might have learned that government ownership would mess things up. Instead, they’ve increasingly called for quasi-ownership through various forms of government regulation, oversight, taxation and subsidies. After all, if someone has the power to tell you how you may use your property, it’s tantamount to his owing it.
I believe most Americans find the ideals and principles of socialism, communism and progressivism repugnant, but by our sanctioning greater government centralization and its control over our lives, we become their dupes or, as Lenin said, “useful idiots.”
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at http://www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM
Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium
– I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery
For those with rusty Latin skills I provided the translation to Michael’s final reference. What a great quote and one I will use sometime this week.
October 18, 2020
My name is Michael Roberts, and I am a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, Inc., based in Houston (that is, I still am for the time being). This morning as I attempted to pass through the security line for my commute to work I was denied access to the secured area of the terminal building at Memphis International Airport. I have passed through the same line roughly once per week for the past four and a half years without incident. Today, however, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at this checkpoint were using one of the new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) systems that are currently being deployed at airports across the nation. These are the controversial devices featured by the media in recent months, albeit sparingly, which enable screeners to see beneath people’s clothing to an extremely graphic and intrusive level of detail (virtual strip searching). Travelers refusing this indignity may instead be physically frisked by a government security agent until the agent is satisfied to release them on their way in what is being touted as an “alternative option” to AIT. The following is a somewhat hastily drafted account of my experience this morning.
As I loaded my bags onto the X-ray scanner belt, an agent told me to remove my shoes and send them through as well, which I’ve not normally been required to do when passing through the standard metal detectors in uniform. When I questioned her, she said it was necessary to remove my shoes for the AIT scanner. I explained that I did not wish to participate in the AIT program, so she told me I could keep my shoes and directed me through the metal detector that had been roped off. She then called somewhat urgently to the agents on the other side: “We got an opt-out!” and also reported the “opt-out” into her handheld radio. On the other side I was stopped by another agent and informed that because I had “opted out” of AIT screening, I would have to go through secondary screening. I asked for clarification to be sure he was talking about frisking me, which he confirmed, and I declined. At this point he and another agent explained the TSA’s latest decree, saying I would not be permitted to pass without showing them my naked body, and how my refusal to do so had now given them cause to put their hands on me as I evidently posed a threat to air transportation security (this, of course, is my nutshell synopsis of the exchange). I asked whether they did in fact suspect I was concealing something after I had passed through the metal detector, or whether they believed that I had made any threats or given other indications of malicious designs to warrant treating me, a law-abiding fellow citizen, so rudely. None of that was relevant, I was told. They were just doing their job.
Eventually the airport police were summoned. Several officers showed up and we essentially repeated the conversation above. When it became clear that we had reached an impasse, one of the more sensible officers and I agreed that any further conversation would be pointless at this time. I then asked whether I was free to go. I was not. Another officer wanted to see my driver’s license. When I asked why, he said they needed information for their report on this “incident” – my name, address, phone number, etc. I recited my information for him, until he asked for my supervisor’s name and number at the airline. Why did he need that, I asked. For the report, he answered. I had already given him the primary phone number at my company’s headquarters. When I asked him what the Chief Pilot in Houston had to do with any of this, he either refused or was simply unable to provide a meaningful explanation. I chose not to divulge my supervisor’s name as I preferred to be the first to inform him of the situation myself. In any event, after a brief huddle with several other officers, my interrogator told me I was free to go.
As I approached the airport exit, however, I was stopped again by a man whom I believe to be the airport police chief, though I can’t say for sure. He said I still needed to speak with an investigator who was on his way over. I asked what sort of investigator. A TSA investigator, he said. As I was by this time looking eagerly forward to leaving the airport, I had little patience for the additional vexation. I’d been denied access to my workplace and had no other business keeping me there.
“Am I under arrest?” I asked.
“No, he just needs to ask you some more questions.”
“But I was told I’m free to go. So… am I being detained now, or what?”
“We just need to hold you here so he can…”
“Hold me in what capacity?” I insisted.
“Detain you while we…”
Okay, so now they were detaining me as I was leaving the airport facility.
We stood there awkwardly, waiting for the investigator while he kept an eye on me. Being chatty by nature, I asked his opinion of what new procedures might be implemented if someday someone were to smuggle an explosive device in his or her rectum or a similar orifice. Ever since would-be terrorist Richard Reid set his shoes on fire, travelers have been required to remove their footwear in the security line. And the TSA has repeatedly attempted to justify these latest measures by citing Northwest flight 253, on which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab scorched his genitalia. Where, then, would the evolution of these policies lead next?
“Do you want them to board your plane?” he asked.
“No, but I understand there are other, better ways to keep them off. Besides, at this point I’m more concerned with the greater threat to our rights and liberties as a free society.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said. And then, to my amazement, he continued, “But somebody’s already taken those away.”
“Maybe they have,” I conceded, watching the throng of passengers waiting their turn to get virtually naked for the federal security guards.
As a side note, I cannot refrain here from expressing my dismay and heartbreak over a civil servant’s personal resignation to the loss of civil liberty among the people by whom he is employed to protect and serve. If he no longer affirms the rights and freedom of his fellow citizens, one can only wonder exactly what he has in view as the purpose of his profession.
The TSA investigator arrived and asked for my account of the situation. I explained that the agents weren’t allowing me to pass through the checkpoint. He told me he had been advised that I was refusing security screening, to which I replied that I had willingly walked through the metal detector with no alarms, the same way I always do when commuting to work. He then briefed me on the recent screening policy changes and, apparently confused, asked whether they would be a problem for me. I stated that I did indeed have a problem with the infringement of my civil rights and liberty.
His reply: “That’s irrelevant.”
It wasn’t irrelevant to me. We continued briefly in the conversation until I recognized that we were essentially repeating the same discussion I’d already had with the other officers and agents standing by. With that realization, I told him I did not wish to keep going around and around with them and asked whether he had anything else to say to me. Yes, he said he did, marching indignantly over to a table nearby with an air as though he were about to do something drastic.
“I need to get your information for my report,” he demanded.
“The officer over there just took my information for his report. I’m sure you could just get it from him.”
“No, I have to document everything separately and send it to TSOC. That’s the Transportation Security Operations Center where we report…”
“I’m familiar with TSOC,” I assured him. “In fact, I’ve actually taught the TSA mandated security portion of our training program at the airline.”
“Well, if you’re an instructor, then you should know better,” he barked.
“Really? What do you mean I ‘should know better’? Are you scolding me? Have I done something wrong?”
“I’m not saying you’ve done something wrong. But you have to go through security screening if you want to enter the facility.”
“Understood. I’ve been going through security screening right here in this line for five years and never blown up an airplane, broken any laws, made any threats, or had a government agent call my boss in Houston. And you guys have never tried to touch me or see me naked that whole time. But, if that’s what it’s come to now, I don’t want to enter the facility that badly.”
Finishing up, he asked me to confirm that I had been offered secondary screening as an alternative “option” to ATS, and that I had refused it. I confirmed. Then he asked whether I’d “had words” with any of the agents. I asked what he meant by that and he said he wanted to know whether there had been “any exchange of words.” I told him that yes, we spoke. He then turned to the crowd of officers and asked whether I had been abusive toward any of them when they wanted to create images of my naked body and touch me in an unwelcome manner. I didn’t hear what they said in reply, but he returned and finally told me I was free to leave the airport.
As it turned out, they did reach the chief pilot’s office in Houston before I was able to. Shortly after I got home, my boss called and said they had been contacted by the TSA. I suppose my employment status at this point can best be described as on hold.
It’s probably fairly obvious here that I am outraged. This took place today (now yesterday, when I wrote all this down), 15 October 2010. Anyone who reads this is welcome to contact me for confirmation of the details or any additional information I can provide. The dialog above is quoted according to my best recollection, without embellishment or significant alteration except for the sake of clarity. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations for legal counsel – preferably a firm with a libertarian bent and experience resisting this kind of tyrannical madness. This is not a left or right, red or blue state issue. The very bedrock of our way of life in this country is under attack from within. Please don’t let it be taken from us without a fight.
Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium
Michael S. Roberts
3794 Douglass Ave.
Memphis, TN 38111