Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How U.S. Foreign Policy Engenders Hatred of America

It appears that one of our "allies" in the "War on Terror" is having a bit of trouble holding on to the reins of power in his country.

Musharraf's grip falters in Pakistan

George W. Bush has routinely sung high praises to the leader of Pakistan as being an ally in Bush's Global Crusade for Democracy and Human Rights. Musharraf, ol' buddy, ol'pal!! You're doing a great job.

Oh the way... Musharraf obtained power in the late 1990s, through a military coup that overthrew a democratically elected government. But let's not dwell on such hypocrisies, shall we? We have to export democracy! After all, those poor starving A-rabs are yearning to breathe free, and have democracy, right? Well...
His attempt 2 1/2 months ago to sideline Pakistan's independent-minded chief justice touched off nationwide protests that have coalesced into a full-blown pro-democracy movement. ...

The United States is increasingly viewed as the main power propping up Musharraf in the face of calls that he resign as army chief, allow the creation of an interim government and call free and fair elections.

Some observers warn that the Bush administration's continuing support for Musharraf at this crucial juncture could threaten long-term U.S. interests in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state considered an indispensable ally in the fight against Islamic insurgents across the border in Afghanistan.

Will we see another Iranian-style revolution, where a hated dictator was ousted, and ushering into power a more theocratically-minded democracy, like Iran today? WHEN Musharraf falls... will the U.S. be seen as the force that stood in the way of democracy?

There isn't much that is honest and legitimate about our stated intentions in foreign policy. But the results are quite clear: Terrorists hate us - not because of our freedoms - because we actively work to oppress them. We support dictatorial regimes who will do the bidding of our politicians, and their corporate backers. The people in these countries are well aware of this, and that's why they are motivated to fly planes into skyscrapers.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ron Paul Schools Rudy the Red-Nose Mayor

Education Rudy Press Conference

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ohio Ballot Access Liberalized, Kudos to Democratic Secretary of State

Here is a news item from earlier in the week. As I've said many times in recent months, Democrats seem to be more friendly to liberty these days than Republicans, who have let power go to their heads. Here's another reason to cheer for Ken Blackwell's defeat -LJ

News Release
For Immediate Distribution
May 22, 2007
Contact: Robert Butler
w:(740) 204-3036
c:(614) 805-8292

Ballot Access Restrictions Eased
Major Victory for Libertarian Party

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued a new directive yesterday allowing minor political parties to organize for the 2008 ballot with half the signatures previously required by Ohio law. The new directive comes as a response to a lawsuit filed by The Libertarian Party of Ohio against J Kenneth Blackwell in 2004 after the previous Secretary of State had rejected their petitions to become a political party.

After hearing the Libertarian's case, the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Ohio's ballot access laws in September of 2006. The requirement to submit over 40,000 signatures a full year in advance of the general election was found to be an "unconstitutional monopoly of the two-party system". The Secretary issued the administrative directive yesterday to fill the void in Ohio's election law until the General Assembly takes action.

"We still need to submit over 20,000 valid signatures by late November," said LPO Chair Robert Butler, "but this new directive is only a temporary step in the right direction. We hope that the Ohio General Assembly will write a new law that meets the 6th Circuit's requirements to be constitutional."

According to Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, and a nationally recognized expert in ballot access, "It's the best legal news that minor parties have had in any state in calendar year 2007 so far."

Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky all have fewer ballot access restrictions than Ohio."The voters need to know who they are voting for," said Butler. "If a candidate is really a Libertarian, why should he have to pretend to be a Republican or Democrat to get on the ballot?"

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Tax Foundation: Finding Better Ways to Steal Your Wealth

Think Tanks are useful institutions. They often provide valuable research on issues that often get overlooked by formal academic institutions, who, more often, are focused on meeting political-driven priorities, and those pet issues of yet-to-experience-the-real-world graduate students pursuing their advanced degrees. I like think tanks because they can provide some empirical data, statistics, and other analysis on various issues that support the case for free market based solutions. Too often, making a moral case for liberty isn't good enough to Statists, who want to see "science" affirm what reason, logic, compassion, and common sense should make abundantly clear.

The problem, however, with placing too much emphasis on empirical approaches is that too often first principles get ignored. As I once heard an acquaintance say, if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything. Murray Rothbard had strong criticisms of the methodology of the "Chicago School", for overly relying on this approach. In an extreme example, if empirical data were to show that murder and rape led to increased efficiency in an economy, then by all means, that would make the case for supporting such things.

The Tax Foundation is a decent think tank which devotes itself to researching the impacts of tax policy. I like to keep an eye on the things they are talking about, for the reasons I mentioned above. But I was startled when I read this recent blurb about some new research on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
New Study on AMT Finds More Fault with Regular Tax
by Patrick Fleenor

Congress should not repeal or radically change the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) but instead reform the regular tax code so that it allows less income to go untaxed, according to a new Tax Foundation study, titled “Fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax.”

"In the year just past, more than 60 percent of personal income went untaxed by the regular tax code," said Patrick Fleenor, Tax Foundation chief economist and author of the new study. "By closing some of those gaping holes, we can take pressure off the AMT."

Key Findings:
The overriding flaw of our income tax system is the vast flow of funds that escapes taxation through the use of various loopholes in the tax code. The AMT corrects a small portion of this problem, albeit imperfectly.

The AMT is often redundant and complex, but the basic idea behind it—taxing a broader base at lower rates—is a sound one that should serve as a guide to tax policy.

Unfortunately most of the AMT "fixes" currently under consideration would move us in the wrong direction—shrinking the tax base and taxing what is left at even higher rates.

The key to fixing the AMT lies in the regular tax code. By curtailing the myriad exclusions, deductions, exemptions, and credits in the code we could expand the tax base. This would allow us to raise the same revenue with lower tax rates, reduce the number of filers affected by the AMT, improve the overall quality of the tax system, boost the nation's economic well-being, and improve tax equity.

The problem, according to the Tax Foundation, isn't that the State has its greedy mitts in too many cookies jars, but rather, not enough. Tax loopholes, exemptions, deductions, credits, and other devices which allow private individuals to protect and retain their property against theft by politicians are not good things, but actually, an enemy of sound tax policy. The priority, is to make sure the State is getting fed enough, and private activity towards wealth building comes second. The principle that taxation is theft, and fundamentally immoral, is lost upon the study's authors.

One would think, if it's acknowledged (and rightfully so) that the AMT is a burdensome, counter-productive tax, then the simplest solution would be to abolish it altogether. But here's where blind empiricism can go awry, and propose solutions that completely ignore basic principles. If an economic system based on private property is the only morally, and yes, empirically, tenable one, then it stands to reason that any research that concludes exposing more private wealth to the threat of confiscation is optimal, may be just a bit flawed.

I'm surprised by this conclusion, and I wonder how many supporters of the Tax Foundation will give pause, when considering them spending brain power in the pursuit of expanding taxation, rather than limiting it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Patriot's Response to Guiliani

The Ron Paul candidacy sure is making some waves. Honestly, I'm a bit surprised, as much as I welcome the shake-up. I never expected Paul to get much national attention. However, since the recent debates in South Carolina, he's gotten a lot of attention for expressing his lone view (for a Republican, that is), that it was American Foreign Policy that inspired the 9-11 attacks. And it was none other "America's Mayor" Rudy Guiliani that took the most offense to Paul's stance, and took up the "I Am A Propaganda Parrot" Banner, and waved it mightily for all to see.

Anyway, Nelson Hultberg of Americans for A Free Republic posted an interesting article in which he lays out some questions for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Mayor:

I would ask Mr. Giuliani the following questions: "What if Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia were one country called Persia, and it was a sophisticated world superpower? How would we like it if this superpower Persia was constantly intervening into our affairs to guarantee a steady supply of our wheat and corn by shoring up political dictatorships in several of our states with loans, weapons and advice? Is this not what America has done in the Mideast during the past 60 years by shoring up the Shah of Iran and his ruthless secret police, by shoring up the House of Saud which lives in Marie Antoinette style while dispensing crumbs to its people, and by shoring up several other smaller satrapies in the region? Is this not what we have done to guarantee a steady supply of Mideast oil?

The article has some interesting points, as well as some flawed tangents, but it is a pretty good article on the whole. Take a read.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Coming Soon: A Relaunch of Yearning to Breathe Free


I know I have been really inactive these past few months, and there have been a lot of things to comment on....the war, Virginia Tech shootings, Ron Paul's candidacy for President, smoking bans, the war, and so on.... but my personal life has been really crazy...changes at work, romantic life on a roller coaster, and other drama.... I haven't had much time to collect my thoughts, let alone compose some blog entries.

So... My intention is to get back to blogging on a more regular basis soon. I will be "relaunching" Yearning to Breathe Free soon, hopefully in the next week or so.

I hope you will continue to stop by and check it out. Thanks again for your patience.