Sunday, December 9, 2018

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #193 "THE 'TRANSFER STATE' IN ACTION"

 Recently I read the book Your Money or your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax by Sheldon Richman (The Future of Freedom Foundation, 1999), which discusses how we have spawned such an expensive and intrusive federal government, and what it does to repress Liberty.  It truly is worth the read in itself. But he wrote the following three paragraphs, beginning at page 93, that I simply had to pass along to you.  Please think about this situation and share your thoughts with others.

“The irony is that even people who claim to support limits on government power play the transfer game.  The late libertarian teacher Robert LeFevre used to ask conservative businessmen to list the government activities they liked. These people, who claimed to favor limited government, would each write a short list of programs.  The lists would differ, though; so when they were consolidated, the result was a government that had its hands in many areas of the economy.  The point of LeFevre’s exercise was that the political process can produce big government even when self-styled limited-government advocates are calling the shots.
“Observe the transfer state in action.  Social Security imposes taxes on working people and hands the money to retired people.  Medicare does almost the same thing, except the money goes to doctors and hospitals.  Agricultural programs take money from taxpayers and consumers and give it to farmers for not growing or for growing particular crops.  Welfare programs give the taxpayers’ money to people who do not work. Subsidies reward well-connected business people with the hard-earned money of the middle class and working class. Foreign aid indirectly subsidizes particular American businesses by giving tax money to foreign governments that will buy American products and services.  Government cultural agencies transfer wealth to artists, musicians, broadcasters, and humanities scholars.  The education bureaucracy subsidizes trendy social experiments on children.  The defense bureaucracy floods contractors with cash for equipment that is not needed and for missions that are improper.  The list goes on and on.
“In each case, people seeking reelection and aspiring to prestigious ‘public’ careers extract wealth from the general population to finance their schemes and benefit those with the time and resources to gain influence.  The textbook model of democratic government responsive to the people is not found in the real world.  Rather, government is a vast auction hall (to use Mencken’s metaphor) in which people enter bids for access to politicians and the vast booty collected by the tax system.”

Thomas Jefferson famously said that we should have a bloody revolution every generation to keep the vested interests at bay.  Well, our Constitution can keep it from being bloody, but how long has it been since we had a revolution?  The 1860s when the Republicans took over from the Whigs?  So maybe it’s long since time! And the Libertarian Party is the only hope in sight!

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President


Quote for the week by Author Unknown: “Dreams don’t work unless you do.”                                                                                
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2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #192 "MAKE THE SYSTEM WORK"

     Those of us who are citizens of this great country are blessed because this brings us many benefits.  But it also brings responsibilities, and this edition of 2 Paragraphs will briefly discuss four of them.  The first is not only to vote, but first to prepare so that we are educated about the candidates and the issues.  The second is to serve on juries when called upon to do so.  That means that we, as civilians, will in many ways have the final say about how various civil and criminal disputes are resolved.   And by doing that we sometimes can exercise great civilian control over our governments.  Thirdly, we should pay our taxes.  Of course, I’m a libertarian and believe those taxes are much too high, but that is a subject for another day.  Fourthly, and no matter what social or economic position we are in, all of us are sometimes in a position in small and even large ways to Make the System Work. 
       For example, if we see some people who are being mistreated, cheated or humiliated, and they are unable to defend themselves, we should, as citizens, step forward and help them.  I’m not saying that we should unnecessarily put ourselves into danger, or be busybodies, but sometimes the situation calls for involvement by third parties, and we should be those people.  Or if we see potentially dangerous conditions either on public or private property, we should report it so that the chances of injury to others or damage to their property will be reduced.  Most of the time things like this don’t take much effort, but they can be effective.  As an illustration, recently when I had a speaking gig at Columbia University in New York City, I noticed that Grant’s Tomb was just a few blocks away.  So I went back to see it.  Inside it was still clean and impressive, but outside there was a beautiful tile bench that went about 270 degrees around the tomb that had weeds growing all through it.  And the National Monument sign from the US Park Service was also sitting on its side.  So I took some pictures of the situation and sent them along with a letter of complaint to the Head of the Park Service, which quoted Bob Dylan that we are “either busy being born or busy dying.”  And, since that is true both for individuals as well as countries, I didn’t want anyone “on my watch” to think our country was busy dying.  This was not a question of money, it was a question of caring.  Happily, I received a letter back about two weeks later saying that the problem was fixed.  The sign was up and the weeds were gone.  (I verified this later with my contact at Columbia.)   Yes, this is just a small thing, but I think it helps  And all of us are sometimes in similar positions to make the system work and, in my view, our obligations as citizens demand it!

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President

   (Silly) Thought for the week: “If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.” 

   By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #191 "DRUG PROHIBITION KILLS AGAIN!"

      Many prior 2 Paragraphs editions have outlined how our government’s policy of Drug Prohibition is killing people, both through the absence of quality control as well as the rampant violence of Mexican drug cartels and juvenile street gangs which emanates from the sales of illicit drugs.  But now we can update those unnecessary deaths with the current so-called opioid crisis.  Yes, drug “overdose” deaths have increased recently, many coming in combination with alcohol and other substances.  But a closer look at the news reports shows that many of these deaths are caused by the synthetic form of heroin called fentanyl.  This is manufactured in Mainland China that is as much as 50 times more potent than heroin, such that a sugar-packet-sized bag of it is strong enough to kill 500 people!  But, since it is so potent, only small amounts are needed, and they can be shipped into our country without detection fairly easily.  So it is the absence of quality control and accurate labeling caused by the illicit market spawned by Drug Prohibition that is killing so many people.            
     As reported on October 21, 2018 in the Orange County Register, the Zheng drug trafficking organization in Shanghai advertises and sells fentanyl and its synthetic cousins quite cheaply and openly in 35 languages on the internet.  And since the DEA is now monitoring our country’s medical doctors so strongly when they prescribe narcotics as pain medication, many doctors are hesitant to provide them to their patients.  So this either leaves the patients in needless pain, or forces them to seek relief from street drugs, like heroin.  And the result?  Last year there were 28,826 recorded deaths in our country from overdoses linked to synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyl, which is up from “only” 3,100 such deaths in 2013.  But in countries that do not prosecute the possession and use of heroin, such as Portugal and the Netherlands, fentanyl is virtually unknown.  So, for all of the potential harm that can be caused by heroin, don’t you agree that the quality control and death prevention efforts would be better left in the hands of a legal market overseen by medical professionals, than an illegal one overseen by mobsters?  In other words, the term “Controlled Substances” is the biggest oxymoron in the English language.  Why?  Because as soon as we prohibit a substance, we leave all of the control regarding quantity, quality and age restrictions in the hands of the bad guys!  There must be, and is, a better way!

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with

Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President


Image result for terezin poemsThe quote for the week comes in the form of a poem written at the Terezin Nazi Concentration Camp in what is now the Czech Republic by a 12 year-old boy, who soon was killed. It brought tears to my eyes.  

                                By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #190 "THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY"

     Demonstrably since the time of FDR the presidency has usurped to itself or been abrogated by Congress increasingly large amounts of power.  As such, in many ways, it has been turned into an Imperial Presidency.  But we should all be reminded that we do not have a monarchy in this country.  Instead we have a democracy based upon the Separation of Powers as expressly set forth in our Constitution – and this works for the benefit and protection of us all.  Thus a president should not be able unilaterally to send our combat troops into war in places like Korea, Vietnam, Serbia, Panama, Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan.  Similarly, President Obama should not have been able unilaterally to change our laws to keep “Dreamers” from being deported.  And President Trump should not be allowed unilaterally to impose tariffs, withdraw us from treaties, or stop the practice of awarding citizenship to people solely because they were born in this country.
        Regardless of whether we agree with the decisions made by our presidents or not, we should insist that the Constitution be followed. (I happen to agree with President Obama about the “Dreamers,” and also agree with President Trump that people born in this country should not have automatic citizenship – but I still strongly object to the procedures used by them both!)  Congress should be involved before we change our laws or treaties, and before we go into battle on an extended basis.  And if the interpretation of the 14th Amendment is to be changed such that people who are born here are no longer determined automatically to be citizens, a test case should be brought in our federal courts, eventually leaving it to our Supreme Court to make that interpretation.  Congress has allowed these usurpations to happen because not enough of the individual members want to take the political responsibility for the various outcomes.  But if they don’t act within the Constitution, they should be replaced by others who will.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President





Fake news report:  Recently a reporter was interviewing President Trump, and asked: “I know that your name is Donald J. Trump, but what does the ‘J’ stand for?”  The response:  “It stands for Jenius.”

                By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #189 "LIBERTY IN IMMIGRATION"

      I, through no effort of my own, was truly blessed to be born in the United States of America.  Many people who were not so fortunate have sought to come to this country to pursue a better life for themselves and their children, i.e. to pursue the American Dream, just like me.  And they should be allowed to do so!  That means that, after a meaningful background check for such issues involving criminality, mental health and possible terrorist sympathies, anyone who can show that they can support themselves should be allowed to live in our country and do so.  And if they can support their families they should be allowed to bring them along.  BUT, no welfare is attached – except for truly emergency medicine, life-threatening situations and for the education of their children.  This would, in effect, be a legal guest worker program, almost identical to the “Bracero” Program we employed successfully many years ago.  We have profited from the immigration of such hard-working people throughout our history, and it is also a matter of Liberty. 
     We could give each of these people a non-counterfeitable Orange Card, maybe matched to the iris of their eyes, that would show them to be here legally.  That would allow them to cross back and forth across our borders, get drivers licenses and car insurance, rent housing and more likely result in them paying their taxes just like all of the rest of us do.  However, and most importantly, we must prosecute any employer who hires anyone who doesn’t have citizenship or a Green or Orange card!  Thus, since no welfare would be attached, if they couldn’t support themselves, they would likely be forced to move elsewhere. Accordingly, this program would be fairly straightforward to enforce, and there would be no need to build a wall to keep people out.  
     So why has this not happened?  Because, although many high-ranking Republicans have given lip service to changing away from our present failed system, they love the cheap labor, and don’t want to give it up.  And many high-ranking Democrats love the idea that many people will come into our country and eventually vote for Democrats.  So they also give lip service for change, but don’t want to change the system either. And the proof of that statement is clear, because if they had actually wanted to change away from this failed system, they would have done it – years ago!  In the meantime, literally millions of people are suffering under the present system.  This simply must change!

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President




Discouraging Quotation for the Week taken from an old Somalian Proverb (and we wonder why there are somany problems in that area of the world):          

"Me and my clan against the world; me and my family against my clan; me and my brother against my family; me against my brother."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, November 12, 2018

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY #188: “NO FREE LUNCH”


It was Milton Friedman who coined the slogan “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”  And this is exemplified by the following story that was recently sent to me, which is: Once there was a chemistry professor in a large college who had some exchange students in her class.  One day in class the professor  noticed a young male exchange student who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt. When she asked the young man what was the matter the student told her he had a bullet lodged in his back.  He had been shot while fighting communists who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist regime.  In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, "Do you know how to catch wild pigs?"  The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke.  The answer is that you catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground.   The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn.  Then, when they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming.   When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. So you continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side.  The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat, and then you can slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom.  They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.  But soon they go back to eating the free corn.  They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, and quickly they begin to accept their captivity.

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in America.  “The government keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops, welfare, medicine, drugs, etc., while we continually lose our freedoms - just a little at a time.  And then, in not so long a period of time, we are captured.”  So all of us should always remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch!  Dr. Friedman also gave us another eternal truth when he said that we get more of what we subsidize, and less of what we tax.  And the truth is that today we are subsidizing entitlements, victimization and even laziness, and taxing success.  So what are we getting more of?  Does this concern you?  It certainly concerns me.


Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President



Quotation for the Week: “I know that God will not give me more than I can handle.  I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”  Mother Theresa
By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty!