L. Neil Smith's

Number 18, November 15, 1996.

Small Victories

By Vin Suprynowicz

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         Most of us seem to have figured out in plenty of time that the dastardly "cuts" congressional Republicans were charged this year with voting in Medicare, federal student loans and the like weren't "cuts" at all, but only reductions in the rate of growth.
         Of course, I found it hard to muster much sympathy for the much-maligned Republicans. They were elected in 1994 precisely on the promise they would cut the size of government. Whimpering "Honest, we're trying to protect all these bankrupt Democratic Ponzi schemes," somehow doesn't ignite me with a righteous passion to sound the bugle and prime the old flintlock.
         Is America's drink of choice these days really "Socialist Lite"? Not only did these guys campaign to the left of Robert A. Taft ... they're well to the left of 1928 Democratic presidential nominee Al Smith.
         But the saddest case this year, I think, were the incumbent Republicans in the Nevada state Senate who voted in good faith last session to liberalize the conditions under which parents in my state are allowed to "sign off" and exempt their kids from mandatory inoculations.
         The federal government admits the oral "attenuated" polio vaccine is now the largest cause of polio in this country -- mostly in parents who change the diapers of children recently immunized -- and that the pertussis vaccine causes permanent brain damage or death in a small but predictable percentage of infants. I've gone to the library and read the reports of the "blue ribbon" government panels. Yet, in Nevada, only a "religious" exemption is allowed. To spare their kids these shots, parents must change churches, or lie about their faith.
         (The other option, of course, is to avoid the government schools -- withholding admission to which is the state's only real enforcement hammer. Refusing to surrender our kids to these indoctrination camps is indeed the best course, though many overtaxed, two-income families just can't figure out how.)
         After the bill in question passed, Democrats and the orthodox medical community raised a hue and cry that the liberalized exemption would bring back epidemic disease -- despite the fact that pertussis can be cured today with common antibiotics, and that merely switching to the "killed" Salk polio vaccine would render American families again completely safe from polio -- if the vaccinations are still needed, at all.
         The bill was quickly repealed. But demagoguing Democrats still ran TV ads this fall, accusing Republicans who voted in good faith for this tiny restoration of medical liberty of "voting against immunizations for kids," as though they voted to outlaw immunizations (they didn't) or even to cut funding for the shots. (In fact, they voted $1 million for free shots.)
         Sadly, such lies worked in at least one case ... that of a former local TV news anchor who actually funds as her personal charity the Lowden Children's Center, which has vaccinated hundreds of kids free of charge. Targeted by the ruthless local Culinary Union because her family owns a Las Vegas hotel and casino (the Santa Fe) which has resisted unionization, Sue Lowden was not re-elected to the state Senate.
         Although no Libertarians were elected in Nevada -- all the party's money was siphoned into the presidential race this year, and none raised enough to make any local impact -- somewhat happier news came in the defeat of a substitute schoolteacher who told me she supported the Second Amendment -- though I found they all say that.
         "But what about someone who lives next door to a school; should someone like that be allowed to own 40 or 50 guns?" I followed up.
         "Oh, no!" she exclaimed.
         "So what you're really saying is that you need the government's permission to have a gun, it's not really a 'right'."
          "That's right."
         Finally, on the bright side, we also stumbled onto a diamond in the rough this year. Son of a Montana mining family, John Lee is a big, well-spoken fellow who owns a plumbing outfit and a tile and marble company.
         Asked about gun control, Mr. Lee asserted: "I say the police have 'em, the government has 'em, so I need 'em. I don't have a single problem with an American owning anything other than big bombs. ... I'm not against semi-automatic weapons. I don't even care if they own automatic weapons. Every American has a right to bear arms."
         How would Mr. Lee balance environmental concerns against the right of folks to make a living in mining or lumber, I asked.
         "The resources of the earth are for man," he said. "If we don't watch out, we're going to regulate ourselves right out of those industries."
         A political newcomer running against a strong incumbent, John Lee is also a Democrat.
         This traditionally Republican newspaper endorsed him. We ran his picture. We called him one of the "brightest new faces" of the year.
         Tuesday night, John Lee was elected to the Nevada state Assembly, with 53 percent of the vote.

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.

Do your friends a favor today -- clip off the delivery schedule for The Libertarian Enterprise and the index, and pass it around.

Next to advance to the next article, or Index to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 18, November 15, 1996.