The Moral Crimes Of The IRS And Their Punishments

The recent scandal concerning the discrimination of the Internal Revenue Service against conservative non-profit organizations has brought discussion of the integrity of the IRS into the establishment media discourse. But while the establishment media is quite willing to discuss the various aspects of the current scandal, they are not discussing the morality of the regular activities and functions of the IRS. Let us look at the definition of several crimes, see how taxation relates to them, and see what punishments would be inflicted upon any private citizen who acted in the same manner as the IRS. The definitions and punishments come from the United States Code.

Robbery: According to the United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 103, Section 2111, whoever, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, by force and violence, or by intimidation, takes or attempts to take from the person or presence of another anything of value, shall be imprisoned not more than 15 years.
How taxation relates: If a person disagrees with the tax policies of the government and acts upon that disagreement by refusing to pay, then the state will initiate force against that person. If the delinquency persists, then agents of the state within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, by force and violence, or by intimidation, will take or attempt to take from the person or presence of the tax resister something of value as a lien on the tax “debt.” Therefore if anyone else did what the IRS does, they would be guilty of robbery.

Slavery: According to the United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 77, Section 1589, whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person by any one of, or by any combination of, the following means— (1) by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person; (2) by means of serious harm or threats of serious harm to that person or another person; (3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process; or (4) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if that person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. Also, whoever knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in the providing or obtaining of labor or services by any of the means described above, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the venture has engaged in the providing or obtaining of labor or services by any of such means, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If death results from a violation of this section, or if the violation includes kidnapping, an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.
How taxation relates: Forcible taxation on one’s personal income makes one a slave because the state is knowingly providing or obtaining the labor or services of a person by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person. As IRS agents receive their salaries from tax revenue, they knowingly benefit, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in the providing or obtaining of labor or services by any of the means described above, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the venture has engaged in the providing or obtaining of labor or services by any of such means. Therefore if anyone else did what the IRS does, they would be guilty of two counts of slavery.

Receipt of stolen monies: According to the United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113, Section 2315, receives, possesses, conceals, stores, barters, sells, or disposes of any goods, wares, or merchandise, securities, or money of the value of $5,000 or more, which have crossed a State or United States boundary after being stolen, unlawfully converted, or taken, knowing the same to have been stolen, unlawfully converted, or taken, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
How taxation relates: The conduct of the IRS in collecting taxes meets the definition of robbery, therefore the tax money is stolen. The IRS receives and possesses the money which has crossed a State or United States boundary after being stolen, and taxes are frequently levied in amounts exceeding $5,000. Therefore if anyone else did what the IRS does, they would be guilty of receipt of stolen monies.

Transportation of stolen monies: According to the United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113, Section 2314, whoever transports, transmits, or transfers in interstate or foreign commerce any goods, wares, merchandise, securities or money, of the value of $5,000 or more, knowing the same to have been stolen, converted or taken by fraud, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
How taxation relates: The conduct of the IRS in collecting taxes meets the definition of robbery, therefore the tax money is stolen. The IRS transmits the money across state lines, and taxes are frequently levied in amounts exceeding $5,000. Therefore if anyone else did what the IRS does, they would be guilty of transportation of stolen monies.

Conspiracy: According to the United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 19, Section 373, whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property or against the person of another in violation of the laws of the United States, and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent, solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct, shall be imprisoned not more than one-half the maximum term of imprisonment or (notwithstanding United States Code, Title 18, Part II, Chapter 227, Subchapter C, Section 3571) fined not more than one-half of the maximum fine prescribed for the punishment of the crime solicited, or both; or if the crime solicited is punishable by life imprisonment or death, shall be imprisoned for not more than 20 years.
How taxation relates: IRS agents work together to enforce tax laws. As any other group of people who worked together to do what the IRS does would be engaging in conduct that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property or against the person of another in violation of the laws of the United States, and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent, solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct, they would be guilty of conspiracy to commit those crimes.

When we add up the above sentences, we get that any private citizen who acted in the same manner as an IRS agent would be looking at a maximum prison term of (15+20+20+10+10)*1.5=112.5 years, as well as a fine of up to $250,000*4*1.5=$1,500,000. So when the day that the rule of the state is abolished, the agents of the state are denied their claimed moral exceptions, and government is suppressed as a criminal enterprise comes, a sentence of up to 112.5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,500,000 for carrying out the functions of the IRS would be in keeping with the principle that one should be judged by the same standards that one judges.

Notes: This analysis only accounts for the minimum acts involved in taxation, and may not be exhaustive in doing so. An arrest and imprisonment for evading taxes, for example, would add additional charges, as this would be kidnapping if a private citizen engaged in such activity.

The Unfairness Of The Marketplace Fairness Act

This week, the US Senate is considering a bill known as the Marketplace Fairness Act that has the stated purpose of “restoring States’ sovereign rights to enforce State and local sales and use tax laws, and for other purposes.” The bill would allow states to require all Internet sellers with out-of-state sales exceeding $1 million per year to collect sales taxes for the state and local governments of the buyers. State governments would be required to provide software free to Internet retailers to calculate sales taxes. The bill passed a vote to take up the legislation for debate and amendment by a 74-20 margin on April 22.

If enacted, the legislation would cost online shoppers an estimated $22-24 billion in tax payments.

The Obama administration has endorsed the legislation, saying that it “will level the playing field for local small business retailers that are in competition every day with large out-of-state online companies.”

“We think this is inevitable, with states looking for revenue, with the growth of e-commerce,” said Stephen Schatz, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation.

“What it means is a lot of money for states and localities,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said on April 22, 2013. He is supporting the legislation.

From a philosophical libertarian perspective, however, this bill is a disaster. Taxation is a violation of the natural rights of property ownership and voluntary association, and by current legal statutes, it meets the definitions of the crimes of armed robbery, possessing and receiving stolen goods, slavery, felony trespassing, communicating threats, and conspiracy to commit the aforementioned crimes. The Marketplace Fairness Act seeks to solve the problem that some businesses are victimized by the crimes of the state by attempting to victimize all businesses.

Let us also consider the practical implications of the bill. Online merchants larger than a certain size would have to become tax collectors for every jurisdiction in the United States, which is not a burden that is placed on brick-and-mortar establishments. Then there is the case of the owners of large businesses who wish to use the violent monopoly of the state to bring down smaller competition. For retailers that have sales in the billions of dollars, such as Amazon ($61.09 billion in 2012) and Walmart ($5.28 billion in 2011), compliance costs of such regulations are hardly noticeable. But for smaller retailers who barely meet the $1 million threshold, having to correctly apply and calculate thousands of tax rates depending on the jurisdiction of the buyer could cost enough to sink a business. The CEOs of larger companies know this and want to use this to their advantage to stifle free market competition for their own private gain. The $1 million threshold is of no concern, as companies smaller than that cannot mount an effective challenge to the market share of the largest retailers.

Next, there is the existential problem of the state. The state does not exist in the physical sense; only its constituent parts, such as people, buildings, and guns, have physical existence. As the state is only an idea in the minds of people that has no physical existence, it is impossible for it to have rights. Thus the claimed objective of “restoring States’ sovereign rights” is nonsensical.

Finally, there is the historical argument. “No taxation without representation” was one of the major grievances of British colonists in America in the 1750s and 1760s that contributed to the American Revolution. Since that time, it has been generally accepted that requiring merchants to collect taxes in places where they have no physical presence is even worse than the basic criminality of taxation, because even the political recourses of those inside a jurisdiction are denied to those who exist and do business outside of it. A desire for the expansion of statism is not a justification for forgetting this.

Rand Paul’s CPAC 2013 speech: a philosophical libertarian response

On March 14, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference. Video of the speech can be found below, and a transcript is available here. While much of his speech was sound from a philosophical libertarian perspective, there were some points of contention. Let us examine these philosophically.

“The message for the President is that no one person gets to decide the law, no one person gets to decide your guilt or innocence.”

The law is a collection of opinions enforced by the guns of the state. As law in a statist society depends upon the initiation of force, law is immoral in a statist society. As for guilt or innocence, it is impossible for any number of people to decide such a thing because truth is independent of belief, whether it is the belief of one person with absolute power, twelve people on a jury, or thousands of people in a lynch mob. A person is guilty or innocent based upon the truth and facts of a case, and anyone trying to determine guilt or innocence for the purpose of punishing criminals is, at best, using the facts which are available to make an educated guess. Thus, it is not just that no one person gets to decide the law and no one person gets to decide guilt or innocence, it is that making such a decision is logically impossible.

“The presidential oath of office states ‘I WILL protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution,’ NOT ‘I intend to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.’ Mr. President, good intentions are not enough. We want to know, will you or won’t you defend the Constitution? …We prize our Bill of Rights like no other country. Our Bill of Rights is what defines us and makes us exceptional. …Do we have a Bill of Rights or not? Do we have a Constitution or not and will we defend it? …The Constitution must be our guide.”

As Lysander Spooner once said, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.” It is important to remember that our rights do not come from the Constitution. The Constitution merely claims that the government it purports to justify will not infringe upon the natural rights that have always existed for sentient beings. History has proven this claim made by the Constitution false beyond any reasonable doubt.

“If we allow one man to charge Americans as enemy combatants and indefinitely detain or drone them, then what exactly is it our brave young men and women are fighting for?”

This is an important question, but unfortunately Sen. Paul did not give the proper answer to the question. The answer is the same as it has always been; soldiers fight at the command and for the interests of the ruling class. This truth is independent of whatever beliefs the members of the general public or the soldiers themselves may hold concerning any more noble motives.

“Government cannot give us our liberty; our rights come from our Creator.”

An appeal to the divine in a logical context is the refuge of someone who has no rational arguments to make. Rights do not come from a Creator any more than they come from a Constitution. Rights exist because of logical proofs by contradiction. Such a proof assumes that a right does not exist, and uses logic and reason to find a contradiction. A contradiction in a logical argument is a sufficient condition for falsehood. Proving that the nonexistence of an entity is false is equivalent to proving that the existence of that entity is true, therefore rights can be shown to exist through the method of proof by contradiction.

“I’m here to tell you, what we need to do is leave more money in the pockets of those who earned it. …With my five-year budget, millions of jobs would be created by cutting the corporate income tax in half, by creating a flat personal income tax of 17%…”

All money should be left in the pockets of those who earned it. Taxation is armed robbery, possessing and receiving stolen goods, slavery, trespassing, communicating threats, and conspiracy to commit the aforementioned crimes. No utilitarian argument can make virtue out of this evil.

“I say, not a penny more to countries that burn our flag.”

Because foreign aid is ultimately paid for by taxation, inflation caused by legalized counterfeiting through the Federal Reserve System, or debt enslavement of the unborn, not a penny more should be given to any country, regardless of whether its citizens burn our flag. Again, no utilitarian argument can justify the means employed.

“This month, I will propose a five-year balanced budget.”

Even if one believes in the need for government, and therefore a government budget, why not propose a one-year balanced budget, as proposed by 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson? He did break the record for votes received by a Libertarian presidential candidate, even in an election with a fairly close popular vote. Fiscal conservatives who found Mitt Romney to be unconvincing had something to do with this.

“My budget eliminates the Department of Education, and devolves power and money back to the states where they belong.”

Power and money do not belong to states; they rightfully belong to individuals through the natural rights of self-ownership and property ownership.

“Our party is encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom.”

All statists are encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom, not just the members of the Republican Party.

“…God bless America.”

If there is a God, then Sen. Paul has no business telling Him what to do. If there is not a God, then this is a meaningless expression.

Book review: We Who Dared to Say No to War

We Who Dared to Say No to War is a collection of essays gathered by progressive Murray Polner and libertarian Thomas Woods. The book includes anti-war writings by prominent Americans from the War of 1812 to the Iraq War. Accordingly, the authors whose works are included range across the political spectrum from socialist Eugene V. Debs to anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard.

Highlights of the book begin with Daniel Webster’s speech before Congress in which he compared military conscription for the War of 1812 to slavery and murder, an argument which Vietnam-era politicians would have done well to remember.

The second section contains an admonition against the Mexican War by Henry Clay, as well as the speech in which then-Congressman Abraham Lincoln demanded to know the exact spot upon which American forces were attacked by Mexican forces (it was in Mexican territory, but this did not faze the war hawks of the time).

The Civil War section contains arguments that show how war was not necessary to end slavery in the South and that the primary motivation was economic domination of the southern states by northern banking interests, many of which are made most effectively by Lysander Spooner, better known for his essay No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority.

Next, the essays deal with U.S. imperialism around the turn of the century, focusing on the Spanish-American War and the occupation of the Phillippines, as well as how imperialism is contrary to the ideals of earlier generations of Americans.

The fifth section contains essays from such luminaries as Eugene V. Debs, Helen Keller, and Robert La Follette, and demonstrates how people of all walks of life opposed World War I. Most prominent among this group of essayists is Randolph Bourne, whose refrain “The state is the health of war” remains a key part of the anti-war lexicon.

An explanation by Jeanette Rankin of why she voted against the declarations of both world wars bridges the gap between the World War I section and the World War II section. The World War II section is a bit sparse, containing a few essays by draft resisters but lacking the multiple hard-hitting pieces of both the previous and following sections. Stuart Chase’s “Assumptions about War” does as good of a job as one essay can, but it needs more support from other pieces. There are many surviving arguments against the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the inclusion of only Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy’s brief quote on the matter is mystifying.

The Cold War section highlights the non-interventionist wing of the Republican Party that was driven underground in the 1950s and 1960s and has only recently resurfaced with the rise of Ron Paul. Here, the most prominent piece is by Murray Rothbard, who did an excellent job of explaining the foundations of libertarianism and the illegitimacy of the state apparatus.

The Vietnam War, while technically a part of the Cold War, gets its own section, due to the massive social unrest caused by it. In this section, Wayne Morse speaks against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, General David M. Shoup makes a solid case for non-interventionism, and 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern delivers one of the most potent verbal lashings ever given to Congress, telling them “this chamber reeks of blood.”

The lessons that current policy-makers should have learned from the preceding eras of American history are brought to bear in the Iraq War section, which also includes Barbara Lee’s rationale for her lone vote against the Afghanistan War. Particularly moving is the resignation letter of John Brady Kiesling, who resigned as a U.S. diplomat on February 25, 2003 in protest of the Iraq invasion.

The final section is devoted to various criticisms of war in general, from John Quincy Adams speaking about foreign policy to Harvey Wasserman’s insightful comparisons of the false pretenses that have started many wars. The best summary of the preceding chapters is given by Sheldon Richman with the title of his essay, “War is a Government Program.”

While the book does an excellent job of presenting the anti-war case, it could have been improved by the inclusion of speeches and essays against the brutality inflicted upon Native Americans in the 19th century, as well as more criticism of World War II and the many smaller interventions of the current era. Nonetheless, it is still a treasure trove of sound arguments against the worst government program of all.

Rating: 4/5

A president frequently forgotten on Presidents Day

Today is Presidents Day, and many people will be thinking of two presidents who are considered by many people to be among the best in history, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. But there was another president who was born in February who receives no recognition whatsoever in mainstream discussion. His name was William Henry Harrison.

William Henry Harrison was born on February 9, 1773 into a prominent political family in Charles City County, Virginia. His father, Benjamin Harrison V, was a delegate to the Continental Congress, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, and served as governor of Virginia from 1781 to 1784. William enrolled at the Presbyterian Hampden-Sydney College in 1787 and stayed there until his father removed him in 1790. His father died in 1791, leaving him without funding for further schooling. Governor Henry Lee of Virginia heard of William’s situation and persuaded him to join the army.

Harrison served as aide-de-camp to General “Mad Anthony” Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, which ended the Northwest Indian War. Harrison then married Anna Symmes, a member of another prominent political family, in 1795. After resigning from the Army in 1798, he became Secretary of the Northwest Territory. In 1801 he became Governor of the Indiana Territory, serving 12 years.

As time went on, tensions between settlers and Indians reached the breaking point. The conflict became known as Tecumseh’s War. The Battle of Tippecanoe, for which Harrison was most famous, disrupted Tecumseh’s confederacy but failed to diminish Indian raids.

In the War of 1812, Harrison was given the command of the Army in the Northwest with the rank of brigadier general. At the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813, his forces defeated the combined British and Indian forces, and Tecumseh was among the fallen in battle. The remaining Indians scattered and never again offered serious resistance to American expansion in what was then called the Northwest.

Harrison returned to civilian life after the war, serving as a U.S. Representative from Ohio from 1816 to 1819, an Ohio state senator from 1819 to 1821, a U.S. Senator from 1825 to 1828, and Minister to Colombia from 1828 to 1829.

In the 1836 presidential election, the Whig Party tried an unorthodox tactic of running four different nominees in four different regions of the nation, and Harrison was the candidate in most of the northern states. The tactic was unsuccessful, as Martin Van Buren won the election with 170 electoral votes to Harrison’s 73, Hugh Lawson White’s 26, Daniel Webster’s 14, and Willie Person Magnum’s 11.

In 1840, the Whigs ran Harrison as their sole nominee. Harrison based his campaign on his military record and on the struggling economy of the time, caused by the Panic of 1837. Harrison won the popular vote against Van Buren by 146,536 votes (which was 6.1% of the vote at the time), but won an electoral landslide, 234 to 60.

On March 4, 1841, the day of his inauguration, Harrison was 68 years and 23 days old, making him the second oldest president to take office in American history, behind only Ronald Reagan (69 years and 348 days.) He would also be the last president born before American independence from Great Britain. Facing accusations that he was frail and unintelligent, he decided to give a lengthy and sophisticated inauguration speech which lasted two hours, despite being edited for length. He did so on a cold, rainy day without clothing appropriate for the conditions. Harrison then rode in the inaugural parade and attended three inaugural balls.

On March 26, Harrison became ill with a cold, which later developed into jaundice, pleurisy, pneumonia, and septicemia. These complications killed him on April 4, making him the first United States president to die in office. His last words were to his doctor, but assumed to be directed at Vice President John Tyler, “Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.” Harrison served the shortest term of any American president: 30 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes.

From a libertarian perspective, Harrison’s actions and policies were certainly not the best; after all, he wanted to reestablish the Bank of the United States, which was the 19th-century equivalent of the Federal Reserve System. He was also in favor of the institution of slavery, and had fought to remove Indian tribes from their ancestral lands. But despite these blemishes, he did nothing of great consequence while in office and served the shortest term in the history of American presidents. To see how powerful of an example this could have been, imagine what America would be like if every president died after only a month in office. How would the government function without a steady executive presence? Who would even want to be president if it meant having only one month to live? We would probably have managed to remove the burdensome yoke of government long ago and would probably have a functioning stateless society by now if each president only lasted a month. At the very least, we would not be suffering from the overreach of the executive branch that is so prevalent in America today, since no president would live long enough to overstep the powers of the office. For these reasons, Harrison is a unorthodox but convincing candidate for the best president in American history.

Scientific thoughts about the New Year

At midnight, many people will celebrate the passage of a year in the Gregorian calendar. As always, there are many festivities planned in different locations all over the world, with celebrations in each inhabited time zone. The first places to celebrate New Year’s Day were Kiribati and the Line Islands, as their time zone of UTC+14:00 puts them ahead of everyone else in the world. The last places to celebrate the beginning of 2013 will be American Samoa, Niue, and Midway Atoll, with a time zone of UTC-11:00. (While the time zone UTC-12:00 exists, it is used only for two islands that are currently uninhabited, as well as the International Date Line.)

But for a scientist, this is a time to reflect upon the arbitrary nature of New Year’s Day in particular and our methods of keeping time in general. Let us consider the number of moments that we could choose to celebrate. We can choose any day of the year to be the end of one year and the beginning of another year. We can choose any moment within that day as well. While the number of moments that we could choose out of a year is unimaginably large, it is a finite value. This is because the speed of light is finite, and it is impossible for mass or energy to move faster than light in normal space. There is a quantization of length that is related to the Planck length, a quantity derived from the speed of light, Planck’s constant, and the universal gravitational constant. According to the generalized uncertainty principle, the Planck length is in principle, within a factor of order unity, the shortest measurable length. The smallest measurable time, called the Planck time, is the time it takes for light to travel one Planck length.

The NIST value of the Planck length is 1.616199 x 10^-35 ± 9.7 x 10^-40 meters, a value many orders of magnitude smaller than what can currently be measured directly. The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second, so a unit of Planck time is 5.39106 x 10^-44 ± 3.2 x 10^-48 seconds. If we invert this, we find that there are 1.85492 x 10^43 units of Planck time per second. If this quantization of time is correct, then we may think of the universe as being “animated,” with a “frame-rate” of 1.85492 x 10^43 frames per second. There are 31,556,926 seconds in a year, so we have a total of 5.85356 x 10^50 moments to choose from when deciding when to mark the boundary between years. To put this number into perspective, Drew Weisenberger of Jefferson Lab estimates that the number of individual atoms on Earth is about 1.33 x 10^50. So from the standpoint of quantum mechanics, New Year’s Day is not so special.

The Hobbit and its significance for libertarians

The Moral Crimes Of Taxation And Their Punishments

Recent events, such as the Fiscal Cliff, are bringing discussion of tax policy into the forefront. But while the establishment media is quite willing to discuss the various tax policy proposals put forward by politicians, they are not discussing the nature and morality of taxation itself. Let us look at the definition of several crimes, see how taxation relates to them, and see what punishments would be inflicted upon anyone who dared to challenge the violent monopoly that the state has on the collection of taxes. The definitions and punishments come from the North Carolina General Statutes, except as otherwise noted.

Armed robbery: Any person or persons who, having in possession or with the use or threatened use of any firearms or other dangerous weapon, implement or means, whereby the life of a person is endangered or threatened, unlawfully takes or attempts to take personal property from another or from any place of business, residence or banking institution or any other place where there is a person or persons in attendance, at any time, either day or night, or who aids or abets any such person or persons in the commission of such crime, shall be guilty of a Class D felony, punishable by 38 to 160 months imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record.
How taxation relates: If a person disagrees with the tax policies of the government and acts upon that disagreement by refusing to pay, then the state will initiate force against that person. If the delinquency persists, then agents of the state (having in their possession firearms and other dangerous weapons) will eventually take or attempt to take personal property from that person as a lien on the tax “debt.” Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of armed robbery.

Receiving or possessing of stolen goods: The receiving or possessing of stolen goods of the value of more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) while knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that the goods are stolen is a Class H felony, punishable by 4 to 25 months imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record.
How taxation relates: The conduct of government in collecting taxes meets the definition of armed robbery, and the Internal Revenue Service receives and possesses the tax money. Taxes are frequently levied in amounts exceeding $1,000, and reasonable grounds to believe that the goods are stolen clearly exist. Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of receiving or possessing of stolen goods.

Slavery: According to the United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 77, whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person by any one of, or by any combination of, the following means— (1) by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person; (2) by means of serious harm or threats of serious harm to that person or another person; (3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process; or (4) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if that person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
How taxation relates: Forcible taxation on one’s personal income makes one a slave because the state is knowingly providing or obtaining the labor or services of a person by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person. Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of slavery.

First degree trespass: A person commits the offense of first degree trespass if, without authorization, he enters or remains on premises of another so enclosed or secured as to demonstrate clearly an intent to keep out intruders; or in a building of another. First degree trespass is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by 1 to 60 days imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record, unless the offense involves an act that places either the offender or others on the premises at risk of serious bodily injury. In that case, first degree trespass is a Class H felony.
How taxation relates: Governments violate property rights by enforcing compulsory tax collection. By doing so, they trespass against the property of those who pay taxes. As agents of the state have in their possession firearms and other dangerous weapons, their actions place both themselves and others on the premises at risk of serious bodily injury. Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of first degree trespass at the Class H felony level.

Communicating threats: A person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by 1 to 120 days imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record, if without lawful authority he willfully threatens to physically injure the person or that person’s child, sibling, spouse, or dependent or willfully threatens to damage the property of another; the threat is communicated to the other person, orally, in writing, or by any other means; the threat is made in a manner and under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to believe that the threat is likely to be carried out; and the person threatened believes that the threat will be carried out.
How taxation relates: Tax evasion laws provide for arrest and imprisonment of those who refuse to pay taxes. This amounts to willfully threatening to physically injure people. The threat is communicated to the citizenry in writing, and the threat is made in a manner and under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to believe that the threat is likely to be carried out. The citizens must believe that the threat will be carried out; otherwise they would not be so compliant in paying taxes. Therefore if anyone else did what the government does, they would be guilty of communicating threats.

Conspiracy: Unless a different classification is expressly stated, a person who is convicted of a conspiracy to commit a felony is guilty of a felony that is one class lower than the felony he or she conspired to commit, except that a conspiracy to commit a Class A or Class B1 felony is a Class B2 felony, a conspiracy to commit a Class B2 felony is a Class C felony, and a conspiracy to commit a Class I felony is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Unless a different classification is expressly stated, a person who is convicted of a conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor is guilty of a misdemeanor that is one class lower than the misdemeanor he or she conspired to commit, except that a conspiracy to commit a Class 3 misdemeanor is a Class 3 misdemeanor. This means that:

  • Conspiracy to commit armed robbery is a Class E felony, punishable by 15 to 63 months imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record.
  • Conspiracy to receive or possess stolen goods is a Class I felony, punishable by 3 to 12 months imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record.
  • Under United States Code, Title 18, Section 373, conspiracy to enslave gets half the sentence that slavery does, so conspiracy to enslave would result in a fine under this title, imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.
  • Conspiracy to commit first degree trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by 1 to 20 days imprisonment, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors and prior criminal record. If the offense involves an act that places either the offender or others on the premises at risk of serious bodily injury, then this is a Class I felony instead.
  • Conspiracy to communicate threats is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

How taxation relates: Tax laws are enacted by legislatures, who work together to create and pass laws. As any other group of people who worked together to do what the government does would be committing the aforementioned crimes, they would be guilty of conspiracy to commit those crimes.

When we add up the above sentences, we get that anyone who dared to challenge the violent monopoly that the state has on the collection of taxes would be looking at a consecutive prison term of anywhere from 64 to 652 months. So when the day that the rule of the state is abolished, the agents of the state are denied their claimed moral exceptions, and government is suppressed as a criminal enterprise comes, a sentence of 64 to 652 months imprisonment would be a reasonable sentence for any government official who acted to create new taxes, raise tax rates, or enforce tax laws.

Notes: This analysis only accounts for the acts involved in taxation. An actual arrest and imprisonment would add charges of kidnapping, felonious restraint, and false imprisonment. Also note that larceny is not included in the list of charges because larceny is a non-violent theft, while government is inherently violent.

The Santa Claus Lie And The Harm It Does To Children

Every year on Christmas Eve, children across America eagerly await a visit from Santa Claus. Children are typically led to believe that he is a nice man who visits the homes of good children to bring them presents. While many parents may believe that this is a harmless “white lie”, there is a case to be made that the myth of Santa Claus is actually very harmful to children. Let us examine the facts.

First, we begin with the true origin of Santa Claus and the custom of leaving presents under a tree. His original form was nothing like his common appearance today. The custom of presents placed under a tree began with mother/child cult of Semiramis and Nimrod in ancient Babylon. The mythology says that Nimrod married his mother, setting her up as the “queen of heaven” and himself up as the “divine son of heaven.” The two of them had a son named Tammuz. Upon Nimrod’s death, Semiramis claimed to see an evergreen tree spring up to full size overnight, symbolizing the “new life of Nimrod.” She then taught Tammuz to go into forests and make offerings to his father on the day that is December 25 in the Gregorian calendar (the origin of the date of Christmas), who was now worshiped as the sun god Ba’al, the false god mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament of the Bible. This Babylonian myth is the true origin of the custom of leaving presents under a tree. The custom was well-known to the author of the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, which includes the following:

“Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.” ~Jeremiah 10:2-5 (NKJV)

The book of Jeremiah is believed to have been written in the late 7th century and early 6th century BCE, which was well before the time of Jesus, disproving any assertions that the customs surrounding Christmas were an invention of Christians. According to William L. Langer’s Encyclopedia of World History, Nimrod was also known as “Santa” throughout Asia Minor. Another name for Nimrod, used in Greece, was “Nikolaos.” The name Nikolaos (Nicolas) is a combination of the Greek words nikos and laos, which together mean “victory over the laity” or “conqueror of common people.” So “Santa Claus” or “Saint Nicholas” is really a manifestation of the ancient cults of Babylon.

Now that we know the truth about the Santa Claus myth, let us examine what a parent is doing when telling a child that Santa Claus is real. Parents who participate in the Santa Claus lie are destroying their own credibility. The children will someday realize that their parents have lied to them, and while this particular lie may not do a great deal of damage in and of itself, the fact is that the children cannot trust their parents after that point. This can lead to trust issues that persist even into adult life, as well as damage a fundamental and irreplaceable relationship in a young person’s life.

Another danger is that the Santa Claus myth teaches children to believe in entities whose existence and efficacy are not supported by credible evidence. A scientific analysis of what Santa Claus and his flying reindeer would have to do to fulfill the conditions set for him shows that he would have to endure G-forces more than 1,000 times beyond what is lethal. The idea of gifts coming seemingly out of nowhere, deus ex machina style, to those who deserve them, requires a supernatural violation of physics as well as economics. If a child can be taught to believe in Santa Claus in the absence of credible evidence, then it will be easier for them to fall prey to religious cults or confidence schemes later on.

But perhaps the most damaging aspect of the Santa Claus myth relates to the similarities between Santa Claus and the institution of the state. Remember the song that goes, “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake?” The idea of a benevolent gift-giver who regularly violates one’s right to privacy is a close approximation of government under the ideals of collectivism, and sets up children to be accepting of a state apparatus that frequently violates their natural rights. A young child is not yet able to grasp the ideas of the state, taxation, bribery, etc., but he or she can understand the idea of rewards for obedience. Thus the myth of Santa Claus makes the subjects of the state easier to control, and helps to fulfill the definition of the name “Saint Nicolas.”

All things considered, the story of Santa Claus is a setup for destroying trust in the family, trust in reason and science, and the desire for freedom and liberty in the mind of a child. For this reason, we can fairly say that telling the Santa Claus lie to children is a form of mental abuse. If you want children to value honesty and have a healthy, independent mind, tell them the truth about Santa Claus.

Interview with Barbara Howe

On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, Libertarian North Carolina gubernatorial nominee Barbara Howe held campaign events in Gaston and Lincoln Counties, NC. There was 5K run in Gastonia, NC at in the morning and a 5K run in Lincolnton, NC in the afternoon. I ran in the afternoon 5K in Lincolnton, NC, and caught up with Mrs. Howe for an interview at 6:00 p.m. Videos of the interview may be found here and here.

MATTHEW REECE: My name is Matthew Reece, and I am here in Lincolnton, North Carolina with the 2012 Libertarian nominee for Governor of North Carolina, Barbara Howe. Mrs. Howe, thank you for joining me.

BARBARA HOWE: Glad to be here.

MR: For those who don’t know about you, tell me a bit about your background.

BH: Well, first let me say the reason I look all hot and sweaty is because I just finished a 5K run, so please forgive me. My background is…I grew up in North Carolina, a lifelong resident. I spent about five years away when my husband was in school early in my married life, but other than that, I have lived in North Carolina all my life. I was born in Wingate, NC, just south of Charlotte. I grew up there. I went to Pfeiffer College and graduated with a degree in English and Psychology. I married a man named Tom Howe in 1976. We have three children. Since my marriage, I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom. We home schooled…the whole nine yards. The children are all adults now, young adults. I have two sons and a daughter. We built our own house in Granville County. I mean, literally built our own house with our own two hands. So, that’s me in a nutshell. I have been involved in Libertarian politics since about 1976.

MR: For most voters, the economy is first and foremost in this election. North Carolina’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average. What policies do you propose to bring jobs to North Carolina?

BH: Well, a common myth…you’ll hear a lot of politicians say, “I’m gonna create jobs!” Government doesn’t create jobs. Government gets in the way of job creation, but it doesn’t create any jobs. My proposal would be: reduce taxes, reduce regulation, create more certainty for small business owners so they all know what the rules are from one day to the next and don’t have to guess so they can actually offer products that consumers want. The notion that government creates jobs is just ludicrous, and in North Carolina, we even are worse than that, because we offer massive tax incentives to lure large businesses here in hopes of job creation. As my friend Mike Munger who ran for governor [of North Carolina as a Libertarian] in 2008 said, “They’ll come for money, they’ll leave for money,” so the best way to lure jobs here is to have low taxes, low regulation, a solid infrastructure, and good education, and if we put those in place, job creators will flock here.

MR: You mentioned cutting taxes. By how much?

BH: Well, I can’t imagine any of us thinks we’re paying too little in taxes. I’m not going to give you a firm number right now, because we would have to examine exactly…once I get in office, we’d have to examine the budget inch-by-inch and determine what’s duplicative, what’s not necessary, what can be provided by the private sector, and start eliminating things right away. So, I can’t give you a number. It will be massive though.

MR: Your platform mentions eliminating “burdensome regulations.” Give me some examples.

BH: The mounds of paperwork people have to do. You have to get a privilege license in order to do business in North Carolina. The privilege you’re getting is to collect sales tax for the state of North Carolina. That kind of paperwork, that kind of burdensome regulation, is just something that business owners don’t need to deal with. The list is probably too long to count, and I can’t…beyond that one I can’t pinpoint one right away. My son and I ran a small business briefly in the early 2000s and just filling out that kind of paperwork was a nightmare, so I can imagine what people who have big businesses have to do.

MR: North Carolina currently receives 31% of its budget revenue from the federal government. Do you believe that this is a problem?

BH: Absolutely, because one of the reasons we’re in the budget crises we’re in now is that we got all this TARP money and stimulus money and now, that money is disappearing because the federal government is in a bind too. So, we put into place programs that we only had temporary funding for, and so now we’re kind of stuck with them, and no way to pay for them. I would do everything I could as governor to decrease our dependence on the federal government. That might not make me very popular because North Carolina taxpayers do pay a lot of tax money to the feds, but every dollar they send, they attach strings to it, and it costs us money just to get some of those dollars.

MR: Let’s talk about energy policy. There is a push to bring hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” to North Carolina. What is your position on this?

BH: My position on that is about the same as it is on every environmental issue. We have to protect property rights. I am all in favor of energy exploration and people doing business here in North Carolina. If a company wants to come and explore the possibility of fracking in North Carolina and they think its worthwhile, they have to come here without tax incentives from North Carolina, they have to pay their own bill, they have to have bonds enough to protect the people they might harm if there is environmental damage, and under those circumstances I would be…I would sign off on fracking. But under those circumstances, unless it is really worth their while, they’re not going to come to North Carolina anyway. From [what] I understand, the resources in North Carolina are not that great, and if the cost is too much, they won’t explore it.

MR: Duke Energy is being accused of being too cozy with the Obama administration because of its financial support of the Democratic National Convention. The Charlotte-based utility has solicited donations, donated office space, and guaranteed a loan to the convention committee. As governor, would you seek to stop a public monopoly governed by regulation, such as Duke Energy, from taking such actions?

BH: That’s a good question. I haven’t given that particular issue a lot of thought. I’m not familiar enough with this issue to really give you a thoughtful answer.

MR: Give me an overview of your education policy.

BH: Well, what we have now in North Carolina, and probably every state in the Union, is a monopoly, one-size-fits-all education program, government-provided education, and the government decides the curriculum. And parents are pretty much stuck unless they can afford to pay twice, either going to private school or home schooling. What I would like to see is much more competition available to parents to be able to send their kids where they feel [their children] will get a good education. Since we are constitutionally mandated by the North Carolina Constitution to provide education, we have to work within those parameters. What I would advocate for at this time is tuition tax credits, so that any taxpayer, whether it is the parent, the grandparent, members of your church, [or] your boss at work, could provide tax credit scholarships to send any kid to any school. And how this would work is that the business would set up a scholarship fund, parents could use their tax liability toward tuition at a private school, and what would happen in the market is that there would be all kinds of small schools popping up all over the place trying to meet the needs of this market. Some kids would go to schools that focused on mechanical things. Some kids would go to schools that focused on art. Some kids would go to schools that focused on math. So we would be able to meet the needs of every child in North Carolina. I have three children. They’re all very different, and they don’t learn the same way, and our expectation that we can throw 30 kids into a classroom and teach them all the same thing at the same time and expect them to learn at the same rate is ridiculous. So we need a market-based, market-driven education system that would help parents get the education their kids need.

MR: Would it be a good idea to amend the Constitution to remove the public education requirement?

BH: Well, you’re calling for a constitutional convention there. While I think it would be, that would be a hard sell at this time, I’m pretty sure. But eventually, if we just get into a more market-based education system, I think we can solve a lot of the problems, but ideally we would get government out of the business of education altogether.

MR: Let’s move on to social issues. You opposed Amendment One. Some libertarians come at this from the position of marriage equality as a constitutional right, while others take the position of separation of marriage and state. What is your position?

BH: My basic position is that government really has no business in marriage, other than enforcing the contract that two adults make. And so, the notion that we grant the right to marry seems anathema to me, and I would like to see government out of the business of marriage, and the only role they would have is enforcing the contract.

MR: You are an opponent of capital punishment. If one person has taken the life of another without due process of law, has that person not forfeited the right to his or her own life?

BH: My opposition to capital punishment is that I don’t advocate killing prisoners. I am a big proponent of people using all the self-defense within their power. If somebody is bothering you, and you’re at liberty to stop them any way you can, that’s fine. But once you’ve caught the person and rendered him helpless and harmless, I don’t think you have the right to kill him. So what we do in government is we catch the criminal, we put them in jail, we try them and they’re found guilty, and then they’re pretty much harmless to us. We’ve put them away and they can’t harm other people. So I am opposed to the state killing prisoners, because there is a chance that they’re wrong, and if you have created the ultimate penalty of death, you can’t rectify that if you’ve made a mistake.

MR: One issue that divides libertarians is abortion. Where do you stand on abortion?

BH: Well, I have to describe myself as pro-choice. I don’t like the division of pro-life and pro-choice because, of course, I want every baby to be conceived and loved and born into a happy, healthy home, but the reality is that’s not going to happen. Where I do come down with the right-to-life crowd is that I think government should stay out of it. That means your tax dollars shouldn’t go to fund abortions. So I am a strong advocate of getting government out of the abortion business. I don’t think government should be making healthcare decisions for women, and frequently it is a health decision, and the decision has to be made between the woman, her partner, and her doctor, and government should stay out of it.

MR: The Obama administration is clashing with some states that have legalized medical marijuana. Would you seek to repeal drug laws in North Carolina?

BH: Absolutely. The drug war is a terrific failure. It has created more problems than it has solved. It has made our streets unsafe. It has corrupted politicians. It has corrupted policemen, and drug dealers are running rampant and making a killing. If the drug war were to end, drug use probably would stay about the same. Ever since we implemented the drug war, drug use has remained pretty much constant. We need to focus on the issue of the medical needs of individuals who get involved in drugs and not make this a legal problem. We have our prisons full of simple drug users. They’re not hurting anybody but themselves, which is unfortunate, but we don’t need to bankrupt our country and ruin lives over the drug war. I would advocate, especially for medical marijuana, it seems like a no-brainer. Its a proven fact that marijuana has certain medical benefits, and the fact that we continue to make this illegal and prosecute people for it is horrendous in my opinion.

MR: What is your position on voter identification laws?

BH: That’s a good question too, because I have mixed emotions. I have no problem with us knowing who is voting, but I also think, I think other people have said this, its a solution in search of a problem. I’ve heard that the amount of voter fraud is just infinitesimal. It has never been enough to sway an election. So I think we have bigger issues, and I know the opponents of the voter ID are concerned about the disenfranchisement of older voters or people who don’t have driver’s licenses, and the implementation is going to cost the state something too. And as I say, it seems to be a solution in search of a problem.

MR: You have said that governments are instituted to defend our rights, not to limit them. But when we look at history, governments have a terrible track record when it comes to actually fulfilling this responsibility. Might we conclude that government is incapable of fulfilling this duty?

BH: Well, what did the founders say? You have to remain ever vigilant, and the tendency is for government to grow and liberty to yield…I don’t have the quotes down right, but that’s why as a Libertarian, even as a Libertarian, I have a very hard time running for office because the last thing I want to do is tell you how to run your life, but I realize that in order to get that kind of government that is limited strictly to just protecting individual rights, I have to be involved in the process. And you’re right, it just continues to get bigger and bigger and its going to be hard to rein in, but we have to start somewhere.

MR: As a third party candidate, you face challenges that Republicans and Democrats do not. Tell me about your experiences with this.

BH: Well, I have been involved in the Libertarian Party in North Carolina for many years, since the late 1970s. North Carolina is a particularly difficult state in which to get…to get on the ballot. I can’t compose that sentence very well grammatically. Our last petition drive in 2008 when we got Dr. Munger on the ballot took us 3.5 years and cost us over $150,000. Our resources were drained, our energy was drained, and it shouldn’t be that way. Any group of committed individuals who want to form around a political idea and create a political party ought to be able, through volunteer efforts, to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot so they can let their voice be heard in the political arena. North Carolina makes it extremely difficult; that’s why we only have three recognized parties right now, and as in North Carolina that bar to get on the ballot is based on voter turnout and election results, and it is a constantly rising bar, and as the elections go forward, the hurdle is going to be so high [that] no other party will ever qualify for North Carolina’s ballot unless they’ve got millions of dollars like Americans Elect had. We still don’t know how much Americans Elect paid to get on the ballot in North Carolina, but we speculate it was a couple million dollars.

MR: Those who are sponsoring the gubernatorial debates seem to want to exclude you. What, if anything, will you do to fight for inclusion in the debates?

BH: Well, I have contacted the debate sponsors. Beyond that, there is not a whole lot I can do. They are private organizations. I’m not taking them to court. I’m disappointed that my two opponents would even agree to debate without me on the stage. I think its a disservice to the voters of North Carolina not to let them hear from all their options. They may listen to me and decide not to vote for me. That’s fine. But I really ought to be able to participate in the process like the other two.

MR: Last question. What do you say to voters who are leaning toward Pat McCrory or Walter Dalton, but have not made up their minds?

BH: One of the arguments we get as Libertarians is “Well, if I vote for you, I’m going to waste my vote because one of those other guys is going to win. So I’ve got to keep Walter Dalton from winning so I’ve got to vote for Pat McCrory, or I’ve got to keep Pat McCrory from winning so I’ve got to vote for Walter Dalton.” You’ve only got one vote. One vote. And no gubernatorial election has ever been decided by one vote. You have to cast your vote for the person you really want to win. If you’re voting for Dalton or McCrory because you don’t want the other guy to win, they’re not going to know that’s why you cast [your] vote. They’re going to think its an endorsement of what they believe. So cast your vote for the person you really want to win. I hope its me. If its not me, I’ll accept that. But don’t cast your vote because you’re afraid of a wasted vote.

MR: Mrs. Howe, it has been a pleasure.

BH: Thanks a lot. I enjoyed it.