Thursday, 28 July 2011

Liars to the Left of Us

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Becky AkersWatching DC’s spendthrifts and Keynesians try to resolve the nation’s catastrophic debt is like watching witch doctors try to cure cancer: We know the patient’s gonna die, and painfully, no matter how many goats they sacrifice.

Nonetheless, Leviathan’s lackeys in the media keep leading more goats to the altar. Catch this article from the Associated Press, “States eye fee increases as alternative to taxes.” Rather than asking why government at any level should license us to go about our daily lives or charge us an additional fee for using what our taxes supposedly subsidize, AP’s propaganda inquires instead whether jacking those fees is an acceptable substitute for raising taxes.

“The Associated Press is a not-for-profit cooperative,” its website tells us, “which means it is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members.” And also accounts for its distillation of the fascism, communism and worship of the State permeating your local rag. It’s a two-way process as well: AP supplies copy for newspapers to publish while plucking local stories from its members for wider dissemination, “On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP,” the website brags on one page and on another adds, “More people in more places get their news from the AP than from any other source.” No wonder the State reigns supreme everywhere on Earth.

AP’s “STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES” insists that the collective is innocent of bias and devoted to “truth”: “For more than a century and a half, men and women of The Associated Press have had the privilege of bringing truth to the world ... quickly, accurately and honestly.... We abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions.” Good thing they told us: I’d never have suspected otherwise. When was the last time you read an article in the mainstream media that called bureaucrats’ sexual assault on children at airports “pedophilia”? Instead, the AP sticks to the euphemisms the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approves: “pat down” and “screening.”

AP fusses that employees may accept no gifts, participate in no public political debates, and affix no political bumper-stickers to their cars, among a long list of other no-no’s, all to convince us of its balance. But they’re not fooling me. Each of us brings his predilections to everything he thinks, says or does: it’s impossible to eliminate. AP and its members may ban the signs of obvious partiality, but they cannot eradicate the prejudices that color every word any human says or writes.

Contrast AP’s hypocrisy with the John Birch Society’s honesty: “Our editorial point of view is guided by our support of the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which our Constitution is based.... As you can see, unlike myriad news organs that deceptively slant the news while claiming to be ‘objective,’ The New American forthrightly acknowledges an editorial point of view.”

Just as JBS requires a commitment to freedom’s philosophy, AP demands deference to the State, as our example with the TSA proves: it can’t be mere coincidence that all its reporters and editors rely on the same euphemisms in every story.

Which brings us to AP’s coverage of the parasites at the local level. Undergirding the report is the presumption that states should license cars and drivers, day-care, fireworks displays, traveling circuses; the only legitimate question is how much Our Rulers should charge us for these privileges. Naturally, apologists claim that government’s picking and choosing who gets to drive, babysit kids, set off a Roman candle, or wander the country with animals and clowns protects us. That would explain why an average of about 42,000 souls depart for eternity each year because of accidents with government-licensed “motor vehicles” that government-licensed operators drive.

You’ll never learn it from AP, but there are other, far better ways to guarantee quality than Leviathan’s licensing. Private watchdogs such as Underwriters Laboratories certify products’ safety — and since the company can’t sell its logo to manufacturers unless consumers trust it, UL’s professionals work hard to ensure that whatever bears its approval is as dependable as promised.

A similar idea animates Consumer Reports with its “valuable buying advice.” Again, because CR relies on its customers’ confidence for its income (“We are a non-profit organization that is supported by the subscriptions to our web site and magazine”), it must vigilantly guard its word: When it says a new lawn-mower cuts grass more smoothly than a politician lies, it better or CR will receive no more of your money.

But the bureaucrats enforcing the State’s regulation have no stake whatever in a product’s performance, as their roadways’ murderous record shows. However badly an agency fails at protecting us, legislators will continue voting it our money lest AP accuse them of endangering us.

Despite its presuppositions, AP’s report reveals the states for what they are: predators every bit as ruthless and greedy as the Mob or your average “home-invader.” They want money; we have it; by gum, they’ll steal it from us one way or another. The only difference between government and free-lance thugs is that the former’s victims by and large excuse its depredations.

And they naively expect states to react with the market’s rationality, too. “Julio Reyes, who was ... pay[ing a] certificate of title fee, said the recent jump from $50 to $100 to title a new car was too much, too fast. ‘I think maybe $20 more; that's OK,’ Reyes said. ‘100 percent? Too much.’" But DMV’s lack any incentive to keep prices low. The multitude of automotive permits and licenses states force us to buy are useless scraps, made valuable only because government cages us if we drive without them. They have no intrinsic worth the way bananas, computers or haircuts do, so Leviathan arbitrarily sets their prices; we can’t refrain from purchasing them if those costs rise, as we would with bananas, computers, or haircuts. Nor can we patronize a competitor offering a cheaper version. And of course Our Rulers realize and exploit this.

Indeed, politicians’ – and AP’s – attitude is that all of life is a taxable event. “Lawmakers say the new fees and fines are just keeping up with the times.... [They plan to tax] Smartphone applications[, which] didn't even exist when lawmakers imposed the sales tax on the purchase of software at a retail computer store.“ Awwwww. Trust the thieves to make up for lost opportunity rather than repeal extortion they had no right to “impose” in the first place.

At least one Democrat disagrees with raising fees instead of taxes. "’They say, “Look, it's not a tax, it's a user fee,”’ said [Texas state Rep. Richard Peña] Raymond, a Laredo Democrat. ‘I say that's bull. The public is cynical already. We have to be honest and call it what it is: a tax.’"

No kidding? Well, then, if you really want to be honest, call taxes what they are: theft.

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