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Editorial published December 6, 1991


While George Bush and his gang in Washington are having a hard time using the word ďrecessionĒ, the rest of the country is only too aware that times are tough.

Over the last three decades politicians of every stripe have mortgaged our future in the name of greed.  We have families who see nothing wrong with living cradle to grave on welfare.  We have millions of functionally illiterate, under-educated people who are incapable of holding down any job that requires thinking.  We have repressive tax laws which are driving people out of business.  We have property values that are all but out-of-reach for the average American.  We have civil and criminal laws which make absolutely no sense.  We have a healthcare system in chaos.  We have little to be proud of and less to look forward to.  We have a population that is afraid to make waves.

This is not the America of our founders or even our grandparents.  Itís time we took control of our lives back from the crooked (and confused) politicians, crooked cops, prosecutors, and judges.

First we need to make some basic assumptions.

1. Millions of people will forever remain dependant on the public dole if permitted.  There is no intelligent reason to continue the policies which have allowed and encouraged this to happen.

2. Basic to solving our people problem is the ability to read.

3. Prisons donít work.

4. The death penalty does nothing to stop desperate people.

5. Guns donít kill.  People do.

6. The Internal Revenue Service, Franchise Tax Board, Board of Equalization, and every other taxing agency are out of sync with reality.  The people who work for them are mindless automatons who would (and should) all jump off a cliff if directed to.

7. Criminal penalties no longer fit the crime.

8. Lawyers and litigation are sucking the system dry.

9. Every American should be able to afford basic healthcare, but healthcare is not a right.

Equal rights should mean just that.  Equal opportunity should mean that everyone, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Christian, Jew, Moslem or Buddhist has the opportunity to attain whatever goals they set for themselves.  Their ďgoalsĒ should not be artificially set by an out-of-touch Supreme Court that has lost sight of our constitutional rights.

Welfare should be a tool to help desperate people help themselves.  Along with food and money, there should be some simple rules.  The more children you have, the less help you receive.  If youíre capable of working, you must participate in special education classes so that you can gain the necessary skills to obtain a job to get you off the welfare roles.  In essence, we need something more like workfare.  A simple example of this would be allowing thousands upon thousands of welfare moms to become paid in-home childcare providers so that thousands more could afford to go out and get a decent job.

The only course kindergartners should be taught is how to get along with their peers and their elders and, most importantly, how to read and comprehend.  Then, as they advance to second and third grades and beyond if necessary, they continue to learn only how to read and comprehend.  Only when their little minds are opened, can we expect them to learn math, history, science, and get all of the other talents necessary to become productive, informed citizens.  Today, the ladder of opportunity is laying flat on the ground, so it makes little difference which way youíre going.  Where the ladder is upright, its rungs are covered with the blood of those who have been walked on as a greedy few resort to any trick in the book to obtain what they believe to be a superior position.

Itís unbelievable that in a country like America, we have so many functionally illiterate people.  Owning a newspaper gives one an unusual opportunity to see just how uneducated the great mass of humanity really is.  If we are to have a peaceful future, reading is a key ingredient.

Looking at laws, lawyers and criminal penalties, we are a nation out of control.  Every time you turn around, there is some new law passed.  Most laws are basically ridiculous; with control of private lives as their real goal.  Bureaucrats with conservatism, liberalism or religious fundamentalism as their battle cry, are cramming ever more repressive laws down our throats, and we do nothing.  I donít know about you, but Iím tired of being told to live my life the way others want me to live based singularly on their particular philosophy.  To start to cure this unbalanced situation, we need to pass at least one new law.  That law would be one that allows bureaucrats to introduce no more than one new bill per month with a limit of 12 per year.  If, and only if, the politicos have to give real thought to the bills they are introducing, will we ever obtain sensible legislation.  At the same time, we need to scrap thousands of existing laws which are dragging this country down.

Victimless crimes should no longer carry criminal penalties.  By definition, a victimless crime is one in which the so-called criminal harms no one but himself or herself by their actions.  An example is the smoking of marijuana.  By itself, it should not be a crime.  If a person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle and is high or does something that jeopardizes the life and welfare of others, then, and only then, should there be any possible crime to even contemplate.  Another example is gun control.  There should be no crime attached to owning or possessing any type of weapon.  If, and only if, you use that weapon in some way that harms or threatens harm to others should there be any crime.  Also, I fail to understand why mere possession of guns suddenly becomes a felony if you are arrested for some other crime that has nothing to do with the possession of the guns in the first place.  A third example is prostitution.  While every politician practices some form of it, the actual profession should be legalized.  Only religious mores prevent the legalization.  If legalized, prostitution could be controlled, taxed, and with regular medical testing, legalization could help stem the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

If we are (rightfully so) going to continue to treat 18-year olds as adults, then they should be able to legally consume alcoholic beverages.  They can fight and die for their country.  They can vote.  They can spend the rest of their lives in jail.  They can sign contracts.  They can and do live by themselves and most conduct themselves as adults.  So why canít they drink?  Like their 21-year old counterparts, if they fail to drink intelligently, then they will have to pay the price.  In addition to making it legal for all adults, the level of presumed intoxication should be raised back to .10.  Currently there is a move to lower the limit from .08 to .05 which is absolutely ridiculous. It was lowered to .08 so that the bureaucrats could line their coffers with exorbitant fines aimed at destroying peoples lives and wills.  If the current trend continues, weíll soon be again battling the religious teetotallers who plunged us into the prohibition era.

Our current attitude about drugs is nothing but a lose-lose position.  As with prohibition, we have created a situation where virtually every cop, judge, prosecutor, and bureaucrat lives on the ragged edge of corruption.  In the twenties gangsters shot gangsters as they jostled for the more lucrative territory.  Guns were used then as guns are used today.  Only instead of booze, itís drugs weíre supposedly trying to control.  It didnít work then.  It isnít working now.  It will not work in the future.  When prohibition was finally overturned, we experienced a period where the corruption was greatly reduced and law enforcement personnel were doing the job they were hired to perform.  With our current drug prohibition laws, we are spending billions upon billions to build ever more prisons to hold people who have simply lost hope.  Along with losing hope, hundreds of thousands have also lost their hard-earned property due to asset forfeiture laws.  These terrible laws give law enforcement all the motive they need to bust (and frame) innocent people.  With our useless probation system, we have created a virtual revolving door for those we choose to jail.  Theyíre slammed behind bars, taught nothing of real value and then released to go out and commit the same stupid crime that landed them in the system in the first place.  Why not make it mandatory that a person learn to read before they can be released?  If you have ever seen how the probation system works, itís hard to believe that anyone would except it as a condition of release.  A person virtually gives up every right they have.  Probation officers are inhumane idiots who, like prison guards, thrive upon making life as miserable as possible for others.  Read a probation report and you will see writing akin to one of Hitlerís trusted aides.  Itís a rare probation officer who actually treats alleged criminals as if they were human.

Going back to drug arrests, which account for an alarming number of our inmates, imagine what could happen if drugs were legal, taxed and as heavily controlled as alcohol is.  In the past few years we have made wonderful inroads in treating alcoholism.  This came about because we finally realized that an alcoholic has a medical problem.  There is no difference in a drug abuser.  There also should be no difference between a person who can intelligently handle a drink or two and a person who takes a small amount of some other drug.  If we took the criminal penalties out of drug use and concentrated our efforts on controlling drug abuse, just imagine what would happen to the number of people who are being arrested.  If they didnít have to steal to get the money for something that is artificially outlawed, suddenly all of our lives would become less complicated.  We can take back our streets and our neighborhoods simply by taking the profit out of drug trafficking.  Crime, real crime will not disappear entirely, but the average law abiding citizen will definitely breath easier.  Use the tax revenue from the sale of these legalized drugs to treat those individuals who need and want treatment.  If that individual breaks some real law because of their drug addiction, then they should be arrested for the law they broke and offered treatment along with incarceration.  Weíre warehousing thousands upon thousands of people who are desperately in need of serious help due to mental health problems.  People in need of medical care due to mental health problems do not belong in prisons.  Like the drug abuser or alcoholic, they need help - not jail.

If we took a more realistic tack with our laws, we could eliminate much of the need for mindless litigation.  With our chaotic laws today, we have literally given attorneys a license to steal.   Simple changes could make a huge difference.  A perfect example is automobile insurance.  The current system encourages abuse on all sides.  Like drug laws, our insurance laws donít work.  Iíve never met anyone who could drive two vehicles at the same time.  With this in mind, I suggest a more equitable proposition for vehicle insurance.  The insurance should be on the person and not on every individual vehicle he or she owns.  Basic insurance should cover personal liability and property damage as well as reasonable medical costs (the same as homeowners or renters insurance).  For sake of argument, letís say that you carry 100/300 coverage.  That basic coverage goes with you no matter what legal vehicle you operate.  If you want to have collision, comprehensive, fire and theft or other types of coverage, you would pay an additional premium based upon the maximum value of any one vehicle that you anticipate driving.  That coverage also moves with you from vehicle to vehicle so that today, if you take the $6,000 Toyota to work, youíre covered.  If, on the other hand, you take the $25,000 Corvette tomorrow, youíre still covered because your policy is good for $25,000 in damages.  This may sound complicated, but itís a very simple solution to a complex problem.  Of course all of this insurance would be of the no-fault type to take most of the litigation right out of the picture.

Next to the lack of ability to read, taxes, all types of taxes, are probably the second leading cause for the decline of America.  Our bureaucrats need to read, then reread the Declaration of Independence.  While theyíre at it, they should read a ton of other historical documents which point out all too clearly the repressiveness of taxes.  To be sure, we need some taxes, but the situation is hopelessly out of control.  The bureaucracies have grown with the tax bills.  The level of service has not.  There are few people who are truly better off today because of higher taxes.  Our roads, cities and institutions are in a constant state of disrepair.  Rather than fix real problems, we tend to look only at the short term and then throw money at the problem with no thought about the consequences.  Federal taxes should be simplified with a 3x5 card system which features a flat tax with no deductions.  As an example, if we used 15 percent as the basis for all taxpayers over a poverty level, a person or couple with an income of $40,000 would pay $6,000.  Using the same logic and percentage, state taxes would be $900 based upon 15 percent of federal taxes.  No forms, no fuss, no exceptions, no IRS as we know it today.  Obviously the numbers could change, but the basic premise remains the same.  Above the poverty level, everyone, individual, business or corporation, would pay exactly the same percentage based on income.

As with our tax laws, all of our other laws need a major overhaul.  Every law that is passed should have to undergo a rigorous test akin to an environmental assessment.  If the law is a good law, it should be able to withstand the scrutiny of such a test.  Who will this law help?  Who will it hurt?  What is the need for such a law?  What is the cost to enforce it?  These are but a few of the questions every law should stand up to.

People have to take control of their own lives.  We cannot and must not depend on an ever-growing government to take care of us.  At the same time, we must realize that we have created a class of people who are almost beyond help and we will have to assist them from now to their graves.  But there is no reason why we must continue to go blindly down the path of creating a welfare state composed of under-educated fools who cannot think for themselves.

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