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Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Congress, a "Bill of Rights" Is To Protect You From Your Own Choices

Silicon Valley Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA14) today hailed the House's passage of a "Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rights" -- but it did nothing other than place new restrictions on what kinds of credit card contracts that a consenting adult is allowed to agree to.

If the bill becomes law, credit card consumers would no longer be free to
  • agree to contracts that enable lenders to offer lower initial interest rates by reserving the option of raising interest rates (with due notice) on the card balance when interest rates change in the overall economy.
  • agree as a student to a credit line greater than both $500 and 20% of the student's income.
  • agree to any credit card contract with provisions printed in less than a 12-point font.
  • borrow more than 25% of a credit card's limit in order to pay the first-year fees on that card (that typically allow the card to offer a below-market interest rate).
Eshoo also claimed the bill "will put a permanent ceiling on credit card interest rates". No evidence of such a ceiling was in the text of H.R. 627 that was available online this evening, but it may have been amended today before passage. The bill's author, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, has long bragged that it "contains NO rate caps, fee setting, or price controls", but it turns out that may have been bait-and-switch. Instead of updating a law called "Truth In Lending" to further restrict the choices of consenting grownups, perhaps these politicians should work on something called "Truth In Legislating".

In the minds of Maloney and Eshoo, a "Bill of Rights" is something that protects grownups from their own choices. To use the "Bill of Rights" label in this way is to mock our real Bill of Rights -- the one designed to protect citizens not from themselves, but from people like Maloney and Eshoo whose edicts are enforced by men with guns.

[LTE submitted via CapWiz to:
  • Palo Alto Daily News
  • Palo Alto Weekly
  • San Jose Mercury News
  • Silicon Valley Community Newspapers]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Time to Tax Sacramento with Tough Love

By Ron Getty
Mon, 27 Apr 2009

In Sacramento, it seems the issue of the day is always the need for more tax revenue. Unlike Oliver Twist, however, the legislators demand more taxes; they do not ask for more taxes, and they never say please.

The antithesis of Oliver Twist, Sacramento is the embodiment of a looting "Robbing Hood." Sacramento takes from the taxpayers and gives to the tax moochers, and has the effrontery to continue this looting by demanding that taxpayers vote yes on the coffer-filling Propositions 1A through 1E.

These five propositions on California's upcoming May 19 special election ballot are designed to save Sacramento from a fate worse than death — no money in the coffers to redistribute to moochers politically disguised as "those in need."

The recently approved budget to close the $41 billion deficit now has an $8 billion "tax shortfall." If three of the special initiatives fail, there will be another $6 billion in "lost revenue." That's a $14 billion hole in the shoe without a shoe repair shop in sight.

This month, Sacramento expects to raid paychecks of $8.9 billion in personal income taxes. That's $8.9 billion taxpayers could spend more wisely as a personal economic stimulus.

It's time for tough love lessons on taxes for Sacramento. Just vote no on Propositions 1A through 1E. (Vote yes on Prop. 1F, which denies pay increases to legislators during budget deficit years, although it's just a bone thrown to the "taxpayer dogs.")

How can California repair the $14 billion hole in the shoe?

The state employs 345,000 people who average $85,000 in annual pay and benefits. In comparison, private industry per capita pay and benefits averages $45,000. If state employees' pay and benefits were scaled to average that of private industry, the $40,000 reduction per state employee would repair the $14 billion hole in the shoe.

Another cost-saving measure would be to index the state private industry unemployment percentage rate and state worker furloughs. Whenever the private industry unemployment level exceeds 3 percent, which is about a half-million workers, an automatic furlough would kick in at all state agencies for each full percentage point above 3 percent. Why? Fewer private industry workers means lower income tax revenues, which mean less money to keep paying government workers.

The state budget could be further cut by reviewing each state department, division, bureau, board, and commission. The review would determine whether the taxpayer-funded government service should be discontinued, merged with other departments, or charge user fees to cover its budget, or whether the service should be competitively bid out at less cost to taxpayers.

Here are some other ways California could help taxpayers, especially those in lower income brackets:

  • Repeal minimum wage laws to reduce overall unemployment and to promote employment of low-wage workers, unskilled workers, visa immigrants, and those with limited education or job experience. Repeal prevailing wage laws to increase the number of workers hired on state construction bond projects and enact market-competitive hiring under right-to-work laws.

  • Benefit unemployed and low-wage worker families by exempting all food, drink, beverage, and clothing purchases in a single transaction of $500 or less from city and state sales taxes.

  • Exempt those ages 72 and over, and all fully disabled, and their life-partners, from paying income taxes or property taxes. Seniors and disabled who rent would receive property tax rebates.

  • Exempt K-12 teachers from state income taxes on their teaching income and property taxes on their home. Teachers who rent would receive property tax rebates. The massive $50 billion public school employment budget would be reduced as teachers would need less pay because they would keep what they earn.

  • Exempt home schooling parents from paying education property taxes, since they shouldn't have to pay to send someone else's children to government schools. Exempt home schooling parents from paying state income taxes on the amount of time spent on home schooling and the cost of materials against their earned income. Home schooling parents who rent would receive an education property tax rebate.

These few tax relief fixes are limited in scope against the ultimate fix of repealing all taxes and starting fresh. To paraphrase Marc Anthony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "Cry 'Havoc' and let loose the 'taxpayer dogs' of war on taxes."

Finally, the taxpayers of California must send a livid message to the larcenous legislators of Sacramento and vote no on Props. 1A through 1E, in essence telling them, "Enough already!" Then taxpayers should vote yes on Proposition 1F, which denies pay increases to legislators during budget deficit years.


4,820 CalPERS Retirees Get Pensions More Than $100,000/Yr

From FlashReport.org:

Marcia Fritz, California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility

As of May, 2008, there were 4,820 CalPERS retirees receiving annual pensions in excess of $100,000. That didn’t include government retirees in 80 other plans in California—judges, UC, STRS, charter cities, and 1937 Act counties. About half of these retirees were public safety workers: cops, firefighters, prison guards. The remaining half includes former city managers, assistant managers, county executives, district attorneys, engineers, finance officers, personnel directors, computer scientists, and physicists.

Since May 2008, more than 120 new retirees have joined the “$100,000 Club” – each month - every month. That’s been going on for the last 12 months – more than 1,500 have joined that well-paid retirement group ; this rate of increase will accelerate as droves of retired public safety workers who are now in the $90,000 to $100,000 range receive annual cost of living increases.

ACCESS AN ONLINE, SEARCHABLE DATABASE OF THE 4,820 CalPERS RETIREES RECEIVING ANNUAL PENSIONS IN EXCESS OF $100,000 HERE.

Led by labor unions, this group has profited tremendously. When the dot com boom artificially inflated stock prices (giving pension funds surplus assets) those union representatives convinced former Senator Deborah Ortiz to carry SB 400 to give pension fund surpluses to government workers by increasing retirement benefits while lowering retirement ages. When real estate values exploded, developers’ fees, property taxes and sales taxes increased and labor negotiators demanded that those higher revenues be spent on higher worker salaries. The combination of generous formulas, lower retirement ages, and higher salaries (used in new formulas) means that career cops, among others, now receive pensions that exceed their final year’s wage, and for more years in retirement than they ever worked.

[...]

National Call To Help LPCA's CD32 Candidate

It may be a slow election year but there are still some exciting races happening across the country…and you can help without even leaving your home!

Specifically, I want to bring to your attention the special election for California’s 32nd congressional district where Libertarian Christopher Agrella is running.

The primary is on May 19th and the general election on July 14th and we are looking for volunteers all across the nation to help support Chris’ campaign.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “I don’t live in California…how can I help?” Well, there are of course donations but just as valuable would be a few hours of your time to call the voters of the 32nd district to promote Chris’ message of smaller government and liberty.

Personal contact is not just the most persuasive form of campaigning but it is also one of the easiest!

All you need is a phone, a computer, and a good attitude. If we all pull together then we can give Chris a fighting chance at winning!

We are in particular need of bi-lingual volunteers with Spanish and Chinese language skills.

If you want to take on a leadership role we need Call Captains to help coordinate. Let us know if this appeals to you.

If you are interested in participating in the phone bank please use the link below to sign up. We will be in contact with you soon for training and time-slot sign-up.

Go to http://www.libertymanager.com and create an account using registration code CA32. After we verify your identity you will be given access to the call system.

Thank you very much, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Austin Petersen
Director of Outreach
Libertarian National Committee

Monday, April 27, 2009

CA: Highest Income/Sales Taxes, 4th Highest Capital Gains Tax

From Richard Rider:

California teachers and prison guards highest paid in the nation:
http://www.nea.org/home/29402.htm
http://www.caltax.org/caltaxletter/2008/101708_fraud1.htm

Fourth highest capital gains tax 9.55%
http://www.thereibrain.com/realestate-blog/capital-gains-tax-rates-state-by-state/109/

From http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/15.html :

California's Top Individual Income Tax Rate Is the Highest in the Nation
With seven brackets and a top rate of 10.3 percent for those earning over $1,000,000. California's individual income tax has the highest rate and one of the most highly progressive structures in the nation. In 2006, California's individual income tax collections were $1,418 per person, which ranked 6th highest nationally. Since most small businesses are S Corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships, they pay their business taxes at the rates for individuals. That makes California's taxes on small businesses some of the most burdensome in the nation.
50-State Table of Individual Income Tax Rates
50-State Table of State Individual Income Tax Collections
50-State Table of State and Local Individual Income Tax Collections Per Capita

California's Corporate Income Tax Rate is the Highest in the West
Corporations looking to relocate, or even establish, a business in the West may shy away from California, as the state's 8.84% flat rate is the highest corporate tax rate in the West. Nationally, only eight states have a higher top corporate tax rate than California. In 2007, state-level corporate tax collections (excluding local taxes) in California were $307 per capita, which ranked 6th highest nationally.
50-State Table of Corporate Income Tax Rates
50-State Table of State and Local Corporate Income Tax Collections Per Capita and Per Household
50-State Table of State Corporate Income Tax Collections Per Capita

California's State/Local Tax Burden 6th Highest In Nation
Estimated at 10.5% of income, California's state/local tax burden percentage stands at 6th highest nationally, above the national average of 9.7%. Californians pay $5,028 per capita in state and local taxes.
California's State and Local Tax Burden, 1977-present
Other States' State/Local Tax Burdens
Historical Chart Comparing All States' State/Local Tax Burdens from 1977 to 2008

California's 2009 Business Tax Climate Ranks 48th
California ranks 48th in the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index. The Index compares the states in five areas of taxation that impact business: corporate taxes; individual income taxes; sales taxes; unemployment insurance taxes; and taxes on property, including residential and commercial property. The ranks of neighboring states are as follows: Washington (12th), Oregon (9th), Arizona (22nd), Nevada (3rd) and Hawaii (24th).
50-State Comparison of Business Tax Climates (data only)
2009 State Business Tax Climate Index, Sixth Edition (full study)

California's Sales Tax Rate Is Highest In Nation
California levies a 7.25% general sales or use tax on consumers [five states tie for second at 7%], and local governments are permitted to levy another 1.5%. State and local governments combined collected $1,117 per capita in general sales taxes in 2006, which ranks 13th highest nationally. California's statewide gasoline tax stands at 35.3 cents per gallon and is the 3rd highest in the nation, while its cigarette tax stands at $0.87 per pack of twenty (29th highest nationally). Additionally, California's general sales tax and various municipal sales taxes are levied on the sale of gasoline. The sales tax was adopted in 1933, the gasoline tax in 1923 and the cigarette tax in 1959.
50-State Table of Sales and Excise Tax Rates
50-State Table of State and Local General Sales Tax Collections Per Capita and Per Household
50-State Table of State and Local General Sales and Gross Receipts Tax Collections Per Household and Per Capita

Property Tax Collections Slightly Below Average
Despite Proposition 13, California ranks in the middle of the pack when the states are ranked on combined state/local property tax collections. Proposition 13 favors people who have owned the same property many years by only permitting re-evaluations at resale. As in most states, local governments in California collect far more in property taxes than the state does. California's localities collected $968.01 per capita in property taxes in fiscal year 2006, the latest year for which the Census Bureau has published state-by-state data. At the state level, California collected $62.59 per capita during FY 2006. That brought its combined state/local property taxes to $1,030.60 per capita, ranked 28th highest nationally.
State property tax collections per capita by state

Federal Tax Burdens and Expenditures: California is a Donor State
California taxpayers receive less federal funding per dollar of federal taxes paid than the average state. In 2005, California taxpayers received only 78 cents in federal expenditures for every dollar in federal taxes. In 1995, by contrast, California taxpayers were receiving 94 cents in federal expenditures for each tax dollar.
Comparing the amount of federal taxes sent to Washington with the amount of federal spending coming back to the state

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Secret License Plates; Municipal Bankruptcy; Smoking Bans; Medical MJ

Steven Greenhut: California Smart Growth Helped Inflate Housing Bubble

Rancho Cucamonga Considers New Smoking Bans

New Medical Marijuana Dispensaries May Be Slow To Spring Up

SacBee Editorial Against Restrictions On Municipal Bankruptcy

Government Employees Evade Tickets With Special License Plates


LPCA Convention Day 2

77 delegates convened on Sunday morning. Chair Kevin Takenaga, Northern Vice-Chair Rich Newell, and Southern Vice-Chair Zander Collier were re-elected by acclamation. Gale Morgan and Brian Darby were nominated for Treasurer, and Darby won 31-30. Morgan was afterwards nominated for Secretary and was elected by acclamation.

Santa Clara University Economics Professor Fred Foldvary spoke about how the current economic crisis is not a market failure. He traced the crisis to government manipulation of the money supply and the mortgage industry, and to a boom-and-bust real estate cycle fed by government subsidies of land ownership and speculation. He said public services that inflate land values should be limited by financing them only with the extra value they create in the free market for land. He specifically recommended a Green Tax Shift, in which all taxation of income, production, sales, and gifts is replaced with levies on pollution, resource depletion, and land value. Dr. Adrian Moore of the Reason Foundation gave a talk about Reason TV and a another about the growth of government in California.

John Inks spoke on "Governing as a Libertarian", about his ascent to the Mountain View City Council in November 2008. He described the record of civic activism that prepared him to win office: Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Planning Commissioner, volunteering in various civic groups, campaign treasurer for two city council candidates. For his campaign he visited 9000 households, meeting 2500 voters. Volunteers like T.J. Campbell and Tricia Marcos covered 2000 more households. Inks raised and spent $13K, and sent 17,000 direct-mail pieces to voters. He was endorsed by former Republican and Democrat mayors and the Sierra Club, but not by any of the three newspapers that interviewed him. In office he has earned headlines like "Hotel Deal Worries Council Dissenter" for questioning a $30M hotel subsidy. He urged Libertarians to get involved with local activism and local politics, where they have the most leverage.

Norm Westwell shared his reflections on his two terms so far on the Ocean View School District Board. His activism was sparked (literally) when his kids asked why they can't enjoy fireworks on the beach like Norm did when he was young. He said that running for multiple elections has helped build his name recognition. His campaigns have let him accumulate a "war chest" of campaign signs that he "harvests" from other candidates (with their permission) after election day and then re-paints with his name and no office or year. This allows him to increase his name recognition with each election cycle. He has won the support of his local teachers' union because he tells them he supports their right to organize as much as he supports free markets -- and because he voted to raise what he says were his district's relatively low teacher salaries. He calls the term "Libertarian" an "anchor around my neck", and he finds people are more accepting of the LP if they have to inquire about his party affiliation. His next campaign will target a seat on his city council.

The convention endorsed Chris Agrella for the 32nd congressional district, Susan Marie Weber for Palm Desert City Council, and Norm Westwell for Huntington Beach City Council.

None of the six eligible Executive Committee members ran for re-election: Rob Power (resigned), Brian Holtz (too busy with elected office and PlatCom), Cam McConnell (moving to Tennessee), Ted Brown (taking a break after many years on ExCom), Lawrence Samuels (ditto?), and Michael McMahon. The nominees and votes were:

52 Matthew Shannon "the LP is too small for infighting"
49 Mike Seebeck wants to build on what the ExCom has been doing
48 Jill Stone wants to "keep our party on track because the national committee certainly isn't"
43 Terry Floyd 2007 convention organizer served as an alternate before, "knows what's involved"
40 Mark Selzer will "do what I can to help out"
38 Allan Pyeatt grew up in Ron Paul's district and has voted for him ever since he was old enough
37 Mark Hinkle warned that he would have to resign from the Judicial Committee if the delegates wanted him on ExCom

The top five vote-getters won two-year terms, and Pyeatt won the 1-year term. Tricia Marcos and Savva Vassiliev were nominated to be the two ExCom alternates, and a vote of 30-26 decided that Marcos would be First Alternate.

Bob Weber proposed a lengthy resolution calling for pardon of medical marijuana prosecution victim Charlie Lynch and impeachment of Bush administration officials responsible for torture. The vote of 22-17 in favor failed to achieve the requisite 2/3 majority and 30-vote majority of the registered delegates.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

LPCA Convention Day 1

Saturday's breakfast talk was by Chris Agrella, running for Congress in the May 19 special election in district 32. His theme was resistance to the incumbent political structure. He pointed out that the original American revolutionaries could resist the government with arms on a relatively level playing field, but that now we must resist with election campaigns.

Chair Kevin Takenaga reported on the activities of the previous year: the candidate rally on the Sacramento capitol steps, an event for columnist Steven Greenhut re-registering as Libertarian, and half a dozen other fundraisers and house parties (featuring e.g. Wayne Root and Ed Clark). He celebrated all our elected Libertarians, including John Inks's election to the Mountain View city council and Tom Tryon's 7th term as a county supervisor. Takenaga described all the moving parts of the LPCA operation that recently got Chris Agrella onto Fox-LA TV after going through LPCA "candidate finishing school".

Northern Vice Chair Rich Newell reported that a couple of NorCal counties have new young Chairs, Sandy Keating and Kate Moore. Newell said there have now been ten issues of the eFlyer electronic newsletter, and that the distribution list is up to 10,000. Southern Vice Chair Zander Collier reported on convention location scouting and his initiative to find LP prospects by mining demographic data.

Treasurer Don Cowles reported that 2008's deficit was cut to $5000 from $27K in 2007, by reducing expenses from $105K to $88K. The 2008 convention was self-financing (at $15K), so the remaining major 2008 expenses were staff compensation ($32K), office overhead ($10K), and newsletter costs ($17K). (The newsletter costs break down to $6K for printing, $5K for postage, and $6K for editing and layout.) Secretary Beau Cain reported that our membership is roughly the same as two years ago (about 1200) and that we have 86K registered Libertarians. Cain now enjoys automated generation of county rosters and will be extracting a list of all standing resolutions from archived Executive Committee minutes.

Keynote speaker Ed Coleman is an Indianapolis city councilman who recently switched to the LP, making him the elected Libertarian with the most constituents in the country. He recounted the inappropriate pressures that local Republican party officials put on him. He said that his unwillingness to sell favors hasn't necessarily hurt his fundraising, and has even brought him promises of future campaign contributions. Coleman said he sees the purpose of government as just to protect people from aggression and to ensure access to water, electricity, and streets. He said he wanted the government out of his church, his bedroom, and his wallet.

74 delegates have been credentialed so far at the convention. They rejected a Bylaws Committee proposal to restrict convention delegates to those who were LPCA members for the previous 90 days; the current Bylaws give credit for any 90-day period in the past. The committee's other proposal, to make ExCom email votes be roll-call votes, was approved.

Rob Power, Chair of the Outright Libertarians and LP San Francisco, proposed a resolution to undo the ExCom's endorsement of the Domestic Partnership Initiative. DPI would repeal the Prop 8 ban on gay marriage, and replace the word 'marriage' with 'domestic partnership' throughout California law. The resolution attacked DPI as "particularly misleading in Libertarian terms", calling it a "social engineering scheme that undermines progress on equal rights". The resolution failed 18-25, and the convention overwhelmingly approved a subsequent resolution reaffirming the LPCA's position that Prop 8 should be repealed.

The Platform Committee proposed adding to the Arts and Society plank 24 new lines, written largely by Starchild, contrasting art and "bureaucracy". The delegates rejected the change, keeping the current 9-line plank (which says quite profoundly "Taxation of an artist to support another artist is a form of censorship."). The delegates approved deletion of the clause "where governments exist" in the Judicial plank about trial by jury.

Treasurer Cowles and Secretary Cain announced that they would not be running for re-election, as Cowles is moving to Nevada to escape California's taxes, and Cain will be focusing on his paid staff duties in LPCA HQ. The officer elections were postponed to Sunday, as delegates wanted to find out more about who might be running for party office. ExCom members who won't be running for re-election include Ted Brown (retiring after decades of service), Cam McConnell (moving to Tennessee), and Brian Holtz (too busy with family, career, elected office, and PlatCom). Rob Power resigned his seat last month, and one other ExCom member is rumored not to be running for re-election, but on the convention floor there were no buttons or literature for any seekers of party office.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tea Parties Across California On April 15

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that 5000 attended the Tea Party "taxed enough already" protest in Sacramento (above), and 500 in San Francisco (video here, hat tip to Starchild). The LA Times headline said "Republicans Stage 'Tea Party' Protests", but when the crowd in Sacramento was asked "Are you guys tools of the Republican Party?", they shouted "Noooooooo!" Recent Libertarian convert Art Pedroza writes at the Orange Juice Blog that the California GOP's leaders are afraid of the tea parties, and voted to oppose all of the budget-related ballot measures advocated by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What's Wrong with Banning Black Cars?


By L.K. Samuels Mon, 13 Apr 2009

When a proposal in California to ban black painted cars was revealed in March 2009, the blogosphere and talk radio buzzed with cries of "outrageous." The state legislature, under the auspices of the California Air Resource Board, pushed to reduce auto emissions by controlling the color of vehicles. Because black paint encourages heat absorption, any reflective material painted over dark-hued cars would likely fail to stop reflective heat, violating the 2006 California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). And since black is the second most popular color for cars, the opposition was intense. In the face of angry voters, the eco-bureaucrats naturally back-pedaled on this unpopular provision.

But one wonders what is so awful about outlawing dark-colored vehicles? Why complain about the lack of individual choice?

In recent years, America's policies have taken a sharp turn down the road of "banamania." Some West Coast cities have already banned plastic shopping bags, certain dishwashing detergents, and Styrofoam containers. The U.S. Congress outlawed the broadcasting of analog TV signals as well as sale of incandescent light bulbs. At least with the incandescent light bulb ban, which goes into effect in 2014, the government still lets people buy the more energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs even though they are laced with highly toxic mercury.

American lawmakers seems to be on an outlawing-everything spree.

The California Energy Commission is exploring regulations to outlaw energy-sucking big-screen televisions for the noble cause of the environment, denying charges that it wants to simply control people and do a little social engineering. In 2004, the California legislature banned teenagers from artificial tanning booths, citing increases in skin cancer as the reason. Some suggested that the lawmakers should have also outlawed tanning on the beach, but the sun refused to comply. In another case, local authorities have banned water bottles, mostly at universities and government buildings. In New Jersey, lawmakers nearly outlawed "Brazilian" bikini waxes.

So the question becomes, why all the fuss over the color of a car?

We've become a society hell-bent on banning whatever the political elite or some lobbying group doesn't like. Get used to it. So what if the state's gone wild? The legislature has been doing it for decades. We even criminalize particular vegetation. In fact, federal and state governments spend billions of dollars annually to eradicate a common variety of weed.

Since much of the banning is done in the name of the environment, you can expect more where that came from. Now that CO² has been classified as a greenhouse pollutant considered harmful because of its supposed climate change properties, it is only a matter of time before the biggest greenhouse gas is criminalized. Water vapor makes up over 95 percent of greenhouse gas, so it must be considered far more dangerous than the CO² and thus must be labeled as a harmful gas, outlawed and forced out of the atmosphere. How about gravity? People have been saying for years that gravity sucks! Why not liberate people from its heavy effect? We could all get around better without that annoying limitation of weight, and save all that money from expensive dieting, exercise, and weight-loss programs.

Why not let the political system ban all sorts of inanimate objects, for whatever reason? Other democratic nations do it all the time. The Australian government recently banned child pornography on the internet. Unfortunately, the ban was soon extended to include many other types of sites. But nobody was supposed to know. When the international whistleblower site Wikileaks posted the banned list, the Australian Communications and Media Authority banned Wikileaks, which had discovered that most of the blocked sites had nothing to do with porn.

But the Australian censorship regulators had to do something to stop porn, so they imposed stiff penalties for violators. Any Aussie caught informing the public about the secret list can be jailed for up to 10 years. And if a Website or blogger unknowingly links to one to the secretly outlawed Websites, that person's site can be secretly listed on the secret list as well! The penalty for linking to secret banned sites can be as high as $11,000 per day, an amount that recently was levied on an anti-abortion site. After being taken offline, Wikileaks only terse comment was: "The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship."

But banning inanimate objects wouldn't harm free speech in the United States. Or would it?

Actually, a federal judge in San Francisco issued a 2008 injunction to ban and shut down the U.S. Wikileaks site after it posted embarrassing documents (the injunction was lifted two weeks later). Maybe banning things could lead to unwanted consequences. Maybe banning black cars is also a free-speech issue. Maybe outlawing things could lead to censorship of ... [CENSORED].


LPCA Candidate Agrella On LA Fox News





Watch this April 15 Fox 11 news segment, which includes Chris Agrella, Libertarian candidate for the 32nd congressional district in east Los Angeles County, speaking against Prop. 1A, the May ballot measure that would raise income, sales and car taxes in California by $16 billion. [Hat tip to Kevin Takenaga]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Blog: California Freedom


Libertarian intelligence about freedom in California.

This site's mission is to help the Libertarian Party unite all California voters who seek both more personal liberty and more economic liberty behind the choices that will most move public policy in a libertarian direction. It will provide an informative and lively blend of political news, policy analysis, and civil discussion. It will focus on:
  • California events , rather than national.
  • Externally oriented politics , not internal debate.
  • Our successes, rather than our disappointments.
  • Libertarian analysis of positions that resonate with California voters who want more freedom.
  • Practical guidance on winning elections and changing public policy.
The site will cover the same ground as the LPCA's printed California Freedom newsletter, but will be more timely, more comprehensive, and more engaging.  Past contributors to California Freedom are welcome to publish content here that aligns with the editorial mission.  Just as with the printed newsletter, nothing on this site constitutes an officially-adopted statement of the Libertarian Party unless so indicated.

Comment Moderation

The comments section of each page is a letters-to-the-editor area, where LPCA members and guests can expect us to publish only civil and constructive commentary related to the page's contents. To be published, comments must 1) unambiguously identify the commenter, 2) be related to the article or the comments on it, 3) not conflict with the editorial mission, and 4) reflect the traditional civility and constructiveness of letters to the editor in the print edition of California Freedom.  Submitting a comment releases it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License, thus allowing it to be published in print editions of California Freedom. Comments about this comments policy, or its application here, will only be accepted at the editorial mission page.