Thursday, August 04, 2005

Boortz Commentary

The Kelo backlash and the Fair Tax dovetail nicely. They aren't perfect libertarian solutions. If they were, they would eliminate virtually all eminent domain and would eliminate most federal taxes. Again, these are steps in the right direction, which I support.

Boortz identifies the one thing that is especially appealing about these remedies, in today's edition of Neal's Nuze:
With the implementation of the FairTax politicians would lose power.

This is what political solutions to perceived problems invariably do: build personal power in politicians. I'm 100% in favor of policies that serve to strip away this power. More from Boortz:
During the fully expected delays at LaGuardia airport last night I was looking at a USA Today story on eminent domain. Politicians across the country and in Washington are working to pass laws to protect private property rights in light of that hideous Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court decision. Now just why are politicians suddenly so worried about private property rights? The Supreme's decision on eminent domain was a boon to politicians! It increased their power! Now they're trying to give that power back to the people? When is the last time you saw politicians act on their own, without any provocation, to surrender power? Answer ... probably never. So why now? Voters, that's why. The people were so outraged over the Supreme Court decision that the political class new they had to act, or risk losing support.

And so it is with the FairTax. With the implementation of the FairTax politicians would lose power. They would no longer have the ability to easily manipulate the tax code to curry favor with one class of voters over another. The class war aspects of tax policy would be over since the poor would essentially be relieved of the obligation to pay any federal taxes at all. Under the FairTax there really is no way for any politician to manipulate federal tax policy for votes or to elicit huge campaign contributions from favored business or individual taxpayers.
States Respond To Kelo

Whether you like the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London (I don't), some states are taking appropriate steps to respond- correctly, in my view, to limit eminent domain abuse.

I've chronicled below how Indiana is considering the issue in a House Study. A hearing will be held August 10, and I encourage supporters of property rights to attend and to speak up.

Blogger ProfessorBaimbridge has chronicled efforts in other states, where legislation is already passing into law, curtailing eminent domain. Backlash link.

Interesting quotes in a related USA Today article:
In Washington, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said his office received more calls from constituents angry about this case than it did for the Supreme Court ruling that limited displays of the Ten Commandments on public property. Cornyn is proposing a bill to bar cities and counties from using federal funds for economic development projects that involve seized property.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a liberal who rarely supports Republican bills, has signed onto two GOP bills and proposed two of her own. "The people who get hurt are the many poor people and working people who don't think they can fight City Hall," she said.

In fact, anybody can be hurt by commercial eminent domain takings. Even if you are someone as huge as Simon Malls, Donald Trump could come along with a bigger project proposal for Simon's property. Etc. There's always someone bigger.

It's great that a property rights issue has stirred up such a fuss. It's about time the average American began to take note of how property rights have eroded over the years.

Hat tip to WXNT's Andrew Lee for these items.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Force Over Reason, Again

It was yet another case of well-intentioned citizens using government to force others to change their behavior when the City of Columbus, Indiana passed it's smoking ban yesterday. From the Indy Star:
The City Council has banned smoking in all public places in the city except bars and private clubs.

So, owners of hybrid restaurant-bars are out of luck if they wish to provide a place for their customers to smoke. The owners may have thought that since they owned their establishments, they had the right to enact their own policies within the four walls. They found out differently yesterday.

Forget about conducting educational campaigns designed to convince people to quit smoking. Why bother when you can just force compliance?

Fortunately, there is one Councilor in Columbus who gets property rights and reason.
Councilwoman Ann DeVore, the sole dissenting vote, said businesses should have
the right to decide, without government interference, whether to be smoke free.

Sadly, she is outnumbered by six others who prefer force and the threat of law enforcement.

These bans are so unnecessary. There are markets for smoke-free restaurants, as there are markets for restaurants that permit smoking. Customers who detest smoke -like me- quickly learn to find the smoke-free variety. I have never needed to compel some business owners to change their ways to suit my desires. Such as shame that the Columbus City Council, and so many others, are incapable of taking the high road.

Keep on the look-out for more smoking bans throughout Indiana, and more threats to property rights.
Support the Fair Tax

Pity Neal Boortz. He's been the champion of the Fair Tax for many years, and his book is now on the shelves, and is a top seller.

So, why pity Neal Boortz? Because now he has to deal with every tiny exception anyone has ever had with the plan, H.R. 25.

"But Neal! The Fair Tax doesn't challenge the levels of Federal spending!"
"But Neal! The Fair Tax doesn't reduce our tax burnen necessarily!"
"But Neal! I have a minor, arcane exception that I can think of that would affect 0.0000037 percent of the population!"

Etc. The Fair Tax isn't perfect. It's a step in the right direction. Libertarians and other fiscal conservatives need to embrace this plan for the good things it does. Mainly, it brings the hidden, embedded taxes we pay in the products and services we buy out into the open so that people can actually see them, and know how significant they are. Also, it eliminates the IRS, and makes paying taxes a breeze. Even if I continue to pay the same amount in taxes in 2006 as I did for 2004, I will at the very least be spared the $275 I spent on a tax preparer, and will stop saving so many receipts in my file cabinet. That's a real gain.

Remember: if public policy is an all or nothing proposition, Libertarians and fiscal conservatives are bound to get nothing.

A small rollback is better than no rollback, and certainly better than tax increases. Back the Fair Tax!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Interesting Experiment

In the past few days, I sent two letters to a local newspaper. One was highly complimentary of the private and public leaders in my hometown of Fishers, which was recently ranked the 24th best community in the U.S. by Money Magazine. The other was my biting take on the GOP candidate school, which is blogged below.

Guess which letter was run?

No complaint, but interesting to note that the sensational stuff gets the nod over the nice and complimentary.