Monday, February 20, 2006

Taxation - It's proper purpose

Recent pushes for increases in taxes on various products has refocused my attention on the proper use of taxation by the government. The power to tax has long been recognized as the power to destroy. Taxation has a single legitimate purpose. That purpose is to generate revenues for the operation of the government.

But beyond that single legitimate purpose, special interest groups are pushing, and have pushed governments to use the power of taxation illegitimately. Taxation is used to reduce consumption, to control behaviors through the use of excessive penalites on those who are taxed.

Legitimate taxation may be used solely to generate revenues. There is a tax rate versus revenue curve. Upon that curve there exists a maxiumum. On either side of that maximum are points where the consumption rate times the tax rate will generate a certain income and equivalent income. The lowest rate which generates the desired income is the proper rate. The higher rate does nothing to increase revenue but merely serves to force people to reduce consumption. Taxation to be legitimate must impose the lowest burden upon its subjects. Thus when those who levy taxes do so, they are obligated out of proper application of the power to tax to set the tax rate at the lowest level that generates the desired income. To do otherwise is to violate the trust of the people and to place an unfair, imbalanced burden upon the shoulders of those who pay the tax.

Calls to tax cigarettes at greater and greater levels are in violation of the public trust. Calls to raise gas taxes to force changes in the driving habits of the people are violations of the public trust. It is not legitimate to use a revenue generating power as a power to control behaviors. Those who do so violate the public trust and they violate their oath to the people who elected them to serve.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

I was reading a few blog posts today at several of the sites I regularly visit. Quite often the discussions there burn my butt because the bloggers get off on criticizing the Supreme Court's actions but the bloggers are unaware of reality.
I decided to add this blog to my ever growing group of rants.

Judicial Fiat

So you hate the concept of a living constitution. You abhor the extension or creation of law through judicial fiat. You exercise your right to free speech and freedom of the preess and would fight to the death to protect those rights against government.

Hold on a second. You got a problem. Seems you support judicial fiat legislation. Seems you want to have your cake and eat it too. I'd like to take a moment and educate you. The First Amendment is not a prohibition on all government intervention in religion, speech, and the press. The First Amendment, short of reading between the lines by a bunch of folks in black robes, does not prevent state and local governments from controlling your freedom of speech or of controlling the press or any of the other sacred cows in the First Amendment. There I've gored your ox. You see the Supreme Court invented the idea that the First Amendment bound any governmental body except the one explicitly mentioned in the First Amendment. The First Amendment applies solely to Congress and does not in any way shape or form apply to state and local governments. Not only can this fact be found in the words of the First Amendment, but its position as the original third amendment indiciate it was singled out by the Framers with its "Congress shall make no...", AND the Framers' discussions at the drafting of the amendments also state that they would leave these areas of contention to state law or to state constitutions.

The Supreme Court in one of its mighty strecthes, looked into the 14th Amendment and found some where between the lines the Doctrine of Incorporation. Under that Doctrine, the Supreme Court picks and chooses which rights it wants to apply in binding state and local governments and what holes the court wants to leave in to cover any government exigency. Now the 14th Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with rights EXCEPT in the area of voting rights which are not rights but which are a privilege, which is not a right in the sense of "rights" as understood by the Framers. Rights come from the Creator, privileges and immunities come from government. The 14th Amendment is concerned solely with privileges and immunities as per the simple, naked text. So whenever you stand up and claim your "First Amendment" right to freedom of religion, or freedom of speech, or freedom of the press against a state or local government you implicitly support judicial activism and judicial alteration of the base law of the Union. State and local governments were never covered by the First Amendment. They were, in contrast, bound by all the other amendments, even though the Supreme Court decided the entire Bill of Rights did not bind the States way back in 1833, in Barron V. Baltimore. So pick a side and quit trying to fence sit. Either you are against judicial fiat or you are for it. You cannot sit on the fence and love it when it suits you and scream about it when it goes against what you want.


Teenage grafitti

Interesting since this is what I have taught in my college courses for years. Even though I teach Chemistry, I often (too often) get off topic when students ask questions that take us outside the normal lecture. I also sit outside with my students and discuss life in general. I have been telling people for probably a decade and a half that I thought cave art was simply grafitti from cave kids.

Teenage Grafitti


Monday, February 06, 2006

Presidential power to exercise warrantless surveillance

So much fucking bullshit is floating out there that the place is beginning to smell. The claim that the President has the inherent power to order the conducting of domestic surveillance on citizens is totally bogus. This claim hinges on several false assumptions.

Article II, Section 2 begins “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into actual Service of the United States;” So of course the President is Commander in Chief BUT he is not the totalitarian ruler. Neither he nor any other public servant (federal or state official) can override the protections enumerated in the Bill of Rights. By common law understanding, latter law overrides any prior law with which it conflicts. The Bill of Rights holds the status of latter law, overriding, that is circumscribing, all delegated powers in the original Constitution for the United States. The President’s power, Congress’ powers, and the powers of the courts are all circumscribed by the latter law, the Bill of Rights.

The supreme Court recognized the limitations on the powers delegated under the authority of the Constitution in Ex parte Milligan, 1866 when the court stated “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine involving more pernicious consequences was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false, for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it which are necessary to preserve its existence, as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority. Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866)”

In addition, no war exists at this point and a state of war cannot exist until so declared by Congress. Congress may not transfer this or any other power, even in the slightest, to any other person or body of the federal government. This power was delegated to Congress by the People and as such can only be exercised by Congress. AND the power to declare war is EXTREMELY limited. It is solely the power to declare war and nothing therein allows for the suspension of any right or freedom. No part of the Constitution, except amendments altering such, may be construed to negate or make unnecessary any other part of the Constitution. Now, Article 8, Section 9, paragraph 2 states “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” If the war power of Congress is so broad as to allow the suspension of constitutional provisions and citizen rights, then this simple sentence was a moot point and is of no significance. Taking that stance, the Framers must have been a bunch of idiots. Why waste time hammering out clauses and such when one broad one covers it all? The truth is that the power to declare war is just the power to declare war and all the rights that we have exist whether we are at peace or at war. AND neither Congress, nor the President, nor the Courts have the authority to behave otherwise. Congress can suspend habeas corpus but beyond that no other Constitutional restriction on governmental power may be suspended at any time. Actions contrary to these limitations are tyranny.

The Fourth Amendment states “The right of the people to be secure in their person, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Only an arrogant individual bent on tyranny and the theft of power cannot understand the limits this enumerated right describes. As was recognized in the 19th century in Judge Thomas M. Cooley’s works, the only reasonable search and seizure was performed under the color of a warrant. The warrant can only be issued upon a showing of probable cause and the EXACT persons or things to be seized must be described. The particulars cannot be left wide open because it is just as easy for a government bent on tyranny to destroy evidence of innocence as it is for that same government to find evidence of guilt.