Category Archives: legislation

“Economic Patriotism” — oxymoron.

So the President has been making noises about a few businesses that have decided not to be “American” for tax purposes. Then Mark Cuban steps in and says he won’t do business with those that do that.

And all that’s fine. But both are suffering from a fundamental misunderstanding of how all this rally works and their resulting misplaced expectations.

The correct expectation would be that people act in their best interests. For example, if it costs more in taxes to do business here than anywhere else, then yes, we should expect some number to go elsewhere. Patriotism doesn’t enter into the equation.

That said, if enough people, like Cuban, were to decide that they won’t do business with them because of such a decision, that also has to factor into best interest–its unlikely to ever generate enough participation–boycotts are historically ineffective. But if it were, it still has nothing to do with patriotism.

So the only effective coercive measure is law, which is what the President is talking about. Usually only totalitarian governments have to use force to keep their population from leaving the borders. Taking such action would seem to me to reduce patriotic feeling generally. And if force must be employed, then the subjects of that force are still not behaving patriotically.

The entire concept of “economic patriotism,” then, is only a pleasant sounding oxymoron not unlike trying to equate social programs with charity.

Some say that none of this “self interest” should matter. Businesses should be about giving back through paying taxes… Taxes are not “giving back.” Giving back is public service and community involvement–things that most businesses already engage in. Those activities also have the virtue of being voluntary–voluntary being the defining element of “giving back.”

Taxes are not voluntary. They are taken by threat of violence. Some level of taxation is appropriate but every individual decides what that level is for themselves. When it gets higher than they like, they take some action, from ramping up charitable giving, seeking out missed deductions, to refusing promotions or raises, to cheating on their filing or not filing at all. Or even moving somewhere else with a lower tax rate.

Personally, moving to Texas was a great move for me on taxes. Having done so doesn’t make me less Oklahoman. Oklahoma remains the community to whom I “give back” the most by time and talent in the National Guard.

The thing is, legislation has one constant effect–it changes the locus of decision making from the person to the legislature. It is a substitution of judgement–lawmakers know better how things should be then, well, everybody else. Every one of these laws, collectively, reduces the liberty–the ability to make one’s own choices– of the population. In a country like our, predicated on maximum liberty–when that is the foundation of patriotic feeling–how can an abundance of coercive legislation fail to erode patriotic feeling?

The difference between the voluntary “giving back’ and the coerced taking by taxation. If I give $1000 to a guy on a street corner–that’s me being charitable and the act is attributable to me–he had nothing to do with it. If the guy on the street corner takes $1000 from me, that’s theft and the act is attributable to him–I had nothing to do with it. Even if he provides me something in return, say an assurance that no one else will steal from me, its still theft.

Background Check Bill to be Raised Again

It was well publicized that 91% of Americans supported expanding background checks for purchasing firearms.  Not so well publicized, was that the same poll said that 48% thought that the information gained from such checks could or would lead to eventual confiscation.  SEN Manchin today spoke of the language in the bill that would prevent that, and I’ve got to point out that that means nothing, except that to do it under color of law would require a vote to change the law first, which is slim comfort.  I understand this thinking, as I am part of both the 91% and the 48%.  This is not one of those cases in which the results of a poll reveal a clear lack of understanding of the issue like the following illustration from the series “The West Wing”:

Josh Lyman: Because sixty-eight percent think we give too much in foreign aid, and fifty-nine percent think it should be cut.

Will Bailey: You like that stat?

Josh: I do.

Will: Why?

Josh: Because nine percent think it’s too high and SHOULDN’T be cut! Nine percent of respondents could not fully get their arms around the question. There should be another box you can check for, “I have utterly no idea what you’re talking about. Please, God, don’t ask for my input.”

Manchin, I think would characterize those who agree with me that way–that I just need to read the bill (I read the bill) as he said on Fox News Sunday this morning.  He simply places a lot more faith in the power of a law on the books to affect behavior, which I lack whether that means to ignore the law, or to write a new bill later and change it.

So my big question on this subject that I would pose to SENs Manchin or Toomey, if I had their ear for a moment, would be why we need a Federal background check to begin with?  Why not run these at the state level (where it cannot run afoul of the Second Amendment).  With the follow up being why should the check be requested by the buyer?  Why not protect the individual by allowing them to request their own checks, and presenting the results for verification.  This prevents any link between check and sale and the temptation to develop a database.

In a related note, polling  also shows that 75% of Americans support greater penalties for straw purchases of firearms, that is a purchase by an individual for another individual for someone else (different from a gift–the idea here is to hid e the identity of the person who will come to possess the weapon).  There is a missing factor here for the respondents.  They are unaware that despite the fact that straw purchases have been illegal since 1968 and federal prosecutors will not prosecute the cases (except in some rare cases where it’s an add on offense with other charges).

Strawman Mendacity in New Gun Law Proposal

Centrist Republican Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Susan Collins (Maine) have reached an agreement with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

“These guns are frequently sold, resold and trafficked across state lines resulting in the proliferation of illegal firearms in our communities,” said Collins on the Senate floor. “Straw purchasing and gun trafficking put guns in the hands of criminals.”

The bill strengthens the law prohibiting material false statements in connection with purchasing a firearm and strengthens penalties for purchasing a gun with intent to transfer it to someone involved in violent crime or drug trafficking.

What you may not know: The government does NOT prosecute straw purchase violations now, and has not since the ATF was moved into the Justice Department. Strenthening a law that is not enforced will have what effect on anything?

It would also outlaw illegal purchasers of firearms from smuggling weapons out of the country.

“The bill creates new specific criminal offenses for straw purchasing and the trafficking in firearms,” Collins said. “Instead of a slap on the wrist or treating this as if it were simply a paperwork violation, these crimes in our bill would be punishable by up to 25 years in prison.”

The truth is that the current specific offense for a straw purchase is already defined and is punishable by a fine and 5 years in prison. Is the new law more? Yes. But it’s not a wrist slap or a paperwork violation except as the DoJ exercises prosecutorial discretion. Collins and her clique are one of the following: a) illiterate, b) willfully uninformed, c) lying.

GOP, Dem senators strike agreement on gun trafficking bill – The Hill

World’s Greatest Deliberating Body, My Left Cheek.

The Senate is voting on whether to condemn or praise Rush Limbaugh.

They are passing non-binding resolutions that amount to “sternly worded letters” to the Iraqi parliament. (Rightly denounced by the Iraqi body.)

They passed a “policy” bill that authorizes, without providing, $150 billion for the war.

They have raised the national debt limit and provided a continuing resolution, which only keeps government from shutting down.

What they have failed to do is to pass an authorization bill. There is no money, for the Army, the National Guard, the Marines, the VA,… The DoD is left to wait for the Senate to get it’s collective act together.

Perhaps by “deliberate” they mean “deliberately dillatory,” “deliberately irresponsible,” or “deliberately childish.” If that’s the case, then I can agree with the “World’s Greatest” application.

Senator Reid: It’s time to gather the children in from recess and get to work.