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L. Neil Smith's
Number 589, September 26, 2010

"Why do creators create?"

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Tea—In a Whole New Bag*
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

It is moral weakness, rather than villainy, that accounts for most of the evil in the universe—and feeble-hearted allies, far rather than your most powerful enemies, who are likeliest to do you an injury you cannot recover from.
—L. Neil Smith's Bretta Martyn

Sometimes it seems that nothing can bring America's politicians and bureaucrats back under control (to the extent they ever were) as the Founding Fathers intended. Politicians show nothing but contempt for citizens struggling to fix what's wrong with America, belittling them, ignoring them, avoiding them, insulting them in public, even attempting to have them labeled as "terrorists". So far, no matter how incensed we get, or how many of us get that way, they somehow manage to reelect themselves like clockwork—although that may be changing even as I write these words.

Bureaucrats grow more lawless and brutal every year.

Although it's all the rage among those who concern themselves with such matters, I've never been satisfied that term limitation won't actually achieve the opposite of what's intended, removing the final curb—the hope of reelection, the fear of electoral defeat—on runaway do-goodery, social experimentation, and outright tyrannical oppression. What's to stop them if they can neither be rewarded or punished?

Where might we be today if Ron Paul had been limited to two terms?

With respect to the 27th Amendment, which was supposed to prevent members of Congress from raising their own salaries, the most naive American today knows that politicians always manage to fix things to suit themselves. These are the guys, after all, when faced with statutory time limits, who can actually order the clock turned back. They can simply vote to raise the pay of their successors—which largely means themselves—in sure and certain knowledge that the voters will have forgotten all about their chicanery by Election Day.

It should be clear by now that, in an age where half the average Productive Class individual's earnings are taken by taxes of one kind or another, and the other half is spent on goods and services doubled in price by taxes, then doubled again by regulations—and where bureaucrats, who are a greater threat to American life, liberty, and property than any foreign enemy, are paid two or three times what that average Productive Class individual receives—what we really need is something more surgical and certain than term limitation, and more difficult to get around than the current rules for Congressional pay hikes.

Allow me to introduce the four points of the "Taxpayers' Equity Amendment":

1. No elected or appointed official at any level of government may receive more in total salary, benefits, and expenses during his term of office—or for 5 years afterward—than his average productive- sector constituent; individuals, and employees of companies deriving more than 10% of their revenue from government will be excluded for purposes of calculating this average.

2. Those individuals subject to the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment will be required by law to participate in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and similar government programs for as long as they continue to exist; their children must attend public schools; all outside income (from businesses, inheritance, investments, spousal wealth, speaking fees, and book advances—to name a few examples) will be required to be "invested in America" by being placed in randomly-selected savings and loan institutions until the 5-year period expires.

3. Those subject to the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment will also be required to file weekly income/expenditure forms for scrutiny by the IRS, the media, and the public; telephone hotlines and lavish rewards for "whistle-blowers" will be provided to report violators; all salary and benefits of officials under suspicion of having violated the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment will be suspended pending the results of any investigation.

4. Violations of the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment will result in summary removal of that official, loss of salary, benefits, expenses—along with all deposited monies—and no fewer than 25 years in that federal maximum-security prison currently deemed most violent; introducing, sponsoring, or voting for legislation intended to evade the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment, or to falsify the statistical base on which its calculations are made, will be treated as violations.

The primary goals of the Taxpayers' Equity Amendment are these:

(A) to punish politicians and bureaucrats for past, present, and future crimes against the lives, liberties, and property of "We the People of the United States";

(B) to make sure that their fortunes rise and fall with ours, so they're forced to scrape along, day by day, exactly like the rest of us, only one or two paychecks away from bankruptcy; and

(C) to give them something better to do with their time than to continually threaten, at our expense, our fundamental rights and well-being.

It'll also save taxpayers several hundred billion dollars a year.

Amending the Constitution is complicated and difficult, exactly as it should be, but if there was ever a time when something like this could be accomplished—and needs to be accomplished—then this is it.

The left loves to blather about "economic democracy". Well, here's the real thing. The Taxpayers' Equity Amendment can begin working now, the sheer horror of its growing popularity, and the prospect of its eventual passage, altering the behavior of politicians and bureaucrats before it ever becomes law—in fact, even if it never does—but only if it's circulated widely enough, only if it appears often enough on websites, in magazine and newspaper letter columns, only if it gets mentioned every day by callers to talk radio shows, and only if it gets sent to all of your favorite office holders, appointed or elected.

Have fun ...

* Author's Note: an earlier version of this essay was written in the 1990s and appeared in my book Lever Action (Mountain Media, 2001).

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Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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