L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 50, July 4, 1999
It's Time to De-Tax the Bill of Rights
by L. Neil Smith
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Ira Magaziner, Marxoid architect of Hillary Clinton's insane scheme
to take over America's medical marketplace, has been asked to
investigate the internet and figure out how it might be regulated and
taxed. Preferably to death.
There's a reason. It's hard to say which part of the electric
resistance movement was more instrumental in short-circuiting Polly
Pot's fascist health-care ambitions, conservative radio, or the
libertarian internet. In either case, it represents a little heralded
but significant milestone, an historic first victory of "new media"
over the "old", who set off every weapon in their arsenal in a
corrupt, collusive effort to offer fire-support to the Bride of
Stung by what biographer David Brock sees as her self-inflicted
defeat, the girl Americans love most to hate immediately sent up
trial balloons aimed at curtailing freedom of speech in the broadcast
media. Happily, the First Fishwife was almost laughed out of the
country, thanks largely to the musical merriment of Rush Limbaugh.
His "Try to Remember" parody deserves a major award.
So now La Clinton and the Gulag Guru have turned against what they
see as a softer target -- or at least one that they'd assigned a
lower priority and felt they could safely afford to hand over to
Algore -- anybody who believes in and enjoys the absolute freedom of
expression afforded by the internet. Personally, I perceive this as
an opportunity, rather than as a threat. It's the perfect occasion to
launch a long-overdue initiative of our own.
Most of us are all too well acquainted with the historic observation
that "The power to tax is the power to destroy". Such power has been
employed, for example, to all but destroy the unalienable individual,
civil, Constitutional, and human right of every man, woman, and
responsible child to obtain, own, and carry, openly or concealed, any
weapon, rifles, shotguns, handguns, and most especially machineguns,
absolutely anytime, anyplace, without asking anyone's permission.
Sometimes the process is subtle (or at least invisible to the
public). New York, for example, enjoys no natural monopoly in book
publishing. Their monopoly was seized during World War II by the
Writers' War Board and other groups, using artificial shortages and
rationing as an excuse. Before Mister Roosevelt's war, publishing
flourished in half a dozen other great American cities.
If you've ever wondered why it seems so hard for new writers to
"break in", look no further than an inventory tax the IRS imposed on
publishers about the same time I was getting started. The new tax
reduced the amount of capital publishers were willing to invest in
new writers. It also exacerbated a tendency they already had to treat
books like magazines and regard them as commercial failures if they
failed to sell within weeks of going on the racks. And, of course, it
provided publishers with another excuse to pay writers less. The
worst effect it had was to all but eliminate new ideas from science
fiction, leaving us with little besides Star Wars, Star Trek,
unicorns, dragons, singing swords, happy halberds, and more dwarves
than a Judy Garland movie.
The power to tax is the power to distort a civilization. The average
Japanese car imported into this country is burdened by $4000 in
tariffs and other punitive fees. Americans prefer and purchase
Japanese cars anyway, but if disincentives were removed, the picture
would be clearer and maybe Detroit would give up and start
manufacturing something we Americans are good at manufacturing.
By the same token, those who see an American trend away from
manufacturing and toward and "information and service economy" as due
to the "impersonal forces of history", or at least something beyond
prediction and understanding, like the weather, couldn't possibly be
more wrong. Manufacturing was taxed and regulated out of existence in
America. If those taxes and regulations were repealed, America would
become -- seemingly overnight, and as if by a "miracle" -- the most
powerful manufacturiung country in the world, all over again.
But I see, once again, that I've digressed. The invasion of the
internet by Ira Magaziner, I said, is the perfect occasion to launch
a long-overdue initiative.
The Founders of this country, the authors of the Bill of Rights,
intended to impose on the government they created certain absolute
limits. They didn't want it, for example, to suppress or even
diminish the freedom to speak one's mind. (They were even more
explicit when it came to the private ownership of weapons.)
The Founders made two mistakes, however. They failed to provide harsh
-- no, let's make that draconian -- criminal punishments for
politicians and bureaucrats who transgress against the Bill of
Rights. And they failed to foresee the way that taxes -- let alone
outright regulation -- could be used to keep folks from saying what
they want and exercising their other rights, as well.
To begin to remedy the Founders' mistakes, I hereby propose that
anything even obliquely mentioned in the Bill of Rights -- religion,
speech, the press, and peaceable assembly; weapons, ammunition, and
accessories; home ownership; our persons, papers, and effects; life,
liberty, and all private property; assistance of counsel; trial by
jury (not to exclude everything covered by the 9th and 10th
Amendments) -- must henceforth be rendered immune to government
interference of any kind, including regulation and taxation.
Otherwise, any guarantees of protection the Constitution is supposed
to offer us are utterly meaningless.
Anything mentioned in the Bill of Rights must be immune to regulation
We'll discuss how to achieve that goal very soon. In the meantime,
talk it up among your friends, with your enemies, with legislators
and creatures in the media. Mention it in every article of e-mail you
send and every reply you make.
Let Ira Magaziner chew on that a while.
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