Thursday, September 05, 2002

4 Who Reject Tax System Are Facing U.S. Inquiry[registration required]

Helpful note on taxation from the NYT. We wouldn't want you to pounce on a single word:

"We believe abusive tax schemes, if left unchecked, will erode public confidence in our voluntary tax system," the senators wrote in June. (Voluntary refers to people and companies assessing themselves and filing tax returns subject to audit, as opposed to a mandatory system in which the government sends tax bills.)

It doesn't mean taxes are voluntary. I never would have guessed. Kudos to the NYT for clearing that up.
From Syracuse's invaluable Transactional Records Clearing House site:

The SSA in Peace and War
The federal agency with the most international terrorism referrals in April was a surprise—the Social Security Administration. It recommended 78 individuals be indicted for such crimes, compared with only 39 referrals during the month from the FBI. The Department of Transportation was third with 23 new referrals, followed by the INS and Customs. The FBI was the source of most referrals for domestic terrorism. See table.

We warned you that the Social Security Administration would become an instrument of totalitarian control back in 1935 when it was created. But you didn't listen
Oil Producers Flock to [Skhalin] Island (subscription required)

NOGLIKI, Russia -- Sakhalin Island has long been celebrated in Russia for its salmon streams and shallow ocean waters full of cod, crab and herring -- a bounty for fishermen and for endangered gray whales. Now it's about to become more famous for its oil.

Two multinational consortia are drilling and building rigs offshore, in the first such projects approved by Moscow, and plans are being laid for hundreds of miles of oil and gas pipelines. Since environmentalists blocked President Bush's plan to pump oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, this island across the North Pacific has become all the more prized by oil drillers trying to satisfy the world's demand for energy.

Sakhalin Island's natural assets aren't protected by the same environmental rules that govern drilling in the U.S. Therein lies a global tradeoff: As environmental groups scramble to shield one piece of the planet from oil exploration, the drilling rigs pop up on another sensitive frontier.

Note the irony. Russia currently has more "freedom of enterprise" than Alaska.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

General Ashcroft's Detention Camps by Nat Hentoff

Actually, ever since General Ashcroft pushed the U.S. Patriot Act through an overwhelmingly supine Congress soon after September 11, he has subverted more elements of the Bill of Rights than any attorney general in American history.

This is a pretty bold claim given the history of "Main Justice". John has only been AG for 1.5 years. He's only got 2 US citizen enemy combatants interned. By this time in his career, FDR's 4th AG Francis Biddle had 70,000 US Citizen non-combatants interned.

In fact, FDR's two longest-serving AGs Homer Stille Cummings and Francis Biddle are way ahead of John Ashcroft in the race for the greatest foe of the Constitution (among US AGs, of course!).

Homer Stille Cummings Fifty-Fifth Attorney General 1933-1939

Francis Biddle Fifty-Eighth Attorney General 1941-1945

Cummings presided over the greatest federal power grabs in US history.He shepherded the National Firearms Act of 1934 through Congress and the Court. He drafted the court packing proposal to eliminate an independent judiciary. He developed the commerce clause theory that would eventually allow the Feds to regulate every sparrow (or sick chicken) that falls in the US. And it was on his watch that the US version of the modern regulatory state was born with the massive individual rights violations involved. One should note for example that FBI and CIA spying on Americans in the WOT is insignificant compared to the systematic privacy violations of the IRS, the DMV and the rest of the State and Federal revenue and regulatory apparatus.

Biddle presided over the full flowering of the warfare half of the welfare-warfare state that was FDR's gift to us all. The internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans (70K citizens) as well as many thousands more German and Italian aliens. Note that none of these were considered combatants by their wardens. He was also there for the imposition of full wartime censorship, the confiscation of radio sets, travel bans, widespread FBI snooping, and the sedition trials of war opponents. Likewise wage and price controls, rationing, income tax withholding, and numerous other human rights violations unprecedented in American history.

In comparison Ashcroft's done very little so far. Fewer than 2000 total detainees (including several hundred captured on the field of battle). No censorship. No wage and price controls (imposed on his watch). No rationing. Mild travel restrictions.

While there is no doubt that Ashcroft's actions (and indeed the existence of his office) are wrong from a libertarian perspective, he's got a long way to go on a comparative basis to match the human rights violation records FDR's AGs.
Powell Booed and Jeered at Global Environment Meeting

Delegates from American and Australian environmental groups repeatedly interrupted him, shouting "Shame on Bush!" Some held up banners reading, "Betrayed by governments" and "Bush: People and Planet, Not Big Business."

This recent tradition in which various commies shout "shame" to people they don't like is highly amusing. It also seems a bit weak since all the opposition has to do is point out that "I thought you defectives had abolished 'sin.'" If we can't judge and nothing is wrong and you have no shame then you are logically estopped from shaming others. Too bad. You did it. It's gone.

Since you chose to exercise the right to do anything, you've given your enemies the right to do anything as well.