Apr 222009
 
 
I saw a news blurb this week that Chuck Norris wants to be president of Texas.  He thinks the state will secede from the union and he would like to be their butt-kicker in chief.  I thought he might be joking at first, but he’s serious.  Apparently, Norris has cultivated a second career as a political activist (conservative, that is).  I knew he’d done some stumping for Mike Huckabee, but this goes beyond that.  (And, by the way, I wonder how Huckabee would do in the 2012 election if the big ol’ red state of Texas is no longer a voting member of the union.)  Norris has penned a book — an alleged bestseller — entitled “Black Belt Patriotism” advocating his conservative brand of activism.  Look for the TV movie “Walker, Texas Protestor.”
 
Norris is an active member of the Mad Hatter Movement — an anti-tax advocate extraordinaire.  His website (www.chucknorris.com) hosts his numerous blogs on the matter.  Most recently, he’s been pushing the “fair tax” which is a tax on consumer goods.  Norris and his cohorts want to do away with the income tax, estate tax, and all other taxes except import duties and taxes on purchases.  This, he claims, was all the Founding Fathers believed in taxing.  The Great White Fathers did not advocate any other form of taxation and specifically prohibited the income tax in the Constitution.  Because they did not approve of the other kinds, we shouldn’t have them now.  Only the founders knew what was right for us.  We are too stupid to think for ourselves and must never deviate from the founder’s tax plan.  Additionally, the plus of the fair tax is that, while not punishing you for your success and hard work (completely ignoring the racial, sex, and class issues associated with economic achievement in the U.S.), you can control how much you are taxed.  If you don’t want to pay a lot of taxes, simply buy less.  It’s like one of those psychological experiments where you control how often you give yourself electro shocks.  Yea!
 
While Norris’s blogs are long on passion, they lack historical accuracy, unfortunately.  First of all, the founders did not prohibit the income tax.  Article I Section 9 of the Constitution does not bar Congress from assessing direct taxes (including the income tax).  It merely requires them to be assessed in proportion to population figures.  The purpose of this is to assure that there is equal representation in taxation — as in voting.  Remember, this is the same document that sets representation in Congress by the number of citizens in a state plus a percentage of the slaves.  In any case, the Sixteenth Amendment was passed in 1913, eliminating the proportionality requirement.  Now, if you have a wealthy number of citizens in your state, they can be assessed taxes based on their income regardless of whether or not other states have the same number of citizens paying such taxes.  This is fair.  If there are more poor people in Mississippi, cumulatively, they shouldn’t pay as much in taxes as the citizens of a wealthier state like Connecticut. Duh.  Anyway, these anti-tax advocates also claim that the Supreme Court ruled the income tax unconstitutional.  They are referring to Pollock v. Farmer’s Loan & Trust Company (157 U.S. 429), which the Supreme Court ruled on in 1895.  The Court struck down the income tax in that case because it was not based on the proportionality principle.  After the Constitution was amended, the Supreme Court noted in subsequent cases that Congress had always had the power to levy a direct tax — it just had to be done in a certain manner, which was later repealed. Clearly, the anti-tax advocates are either ignorant of the legal developments here or they are manipulating the history to suit their cause.  Further, they ignore the fact that originally the federal government only taxed imports because other taxes were left to the states.  The founders, then, were not opposed to income taxes, property taxes, or the like.  They just expected the states to do this (as they still do), rather than the federal government.  Of course, back then, the federal government didn’t provide all the services it does now, and it could pay its tab relying solely on import duties.  Now, it has to provide social security benefits, pay for fighter jets, and furnish Secret Service protection to W until he croaks.  The kitty requires a bigger ante.
 
I’m not even going to touch the issues with Norris, et al’s reasoning that if the founders didn’t want it, we should oppose it.  That suggests that in the eighteenth century humanity reached the apex of its reasoning capacity — which, actually, the anti-tax logic tends to support.  Anyway, I won’t bother to go there because the logic is so ridiculous as to qualify as illogic.  I think the average Joe/Josie gets that the founders didn’t have to deal with a lot of economic issues that we have to today (like, say, CAPITALISM) and that their lack of foresight should not limit our options.  I do, however, want to note that the perk that Norris promotes about sales taxes (or consumption tax or whatever you want to call it) is actually very unfair, despite the moniker assigned.  Sales taxes are regressive, punishing the poorest of us — from whom any tax takes more than from the richest of us, unless the tax is progressively adjusted like the income tax structure we have today.  It is significantly harder for someone making $20K a year to pay a $5 tax bill than it is for someone making $150K.  The unfair tax that Norris promotes does not adjust for income.  It is therefore regressive — and ironically redistributes wealth from the poorest to those better off.
 
So, fair warning to the residents of Texas, secede and this is what your candidate has to offer.  It’s probably too late to do a return with Mexico, right?
 
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 Posted by at 10:14 pm
Apr 172009
 
 
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 — a notable date for no other reason than that on this day Oklahomans impersonated colonial Bostonians at a political “tea party,” marking the first time ever that any Okie cared to represent himself as a Yankee — brought yet another wave of foolish nonsense out of the Oklahoma state legislature.  While their secessionist traitor-partners were filling  parks and the downtown courtyards with gaggles of lemmings styled a la the Mad Hatter in crazy hats adorned with tea bags (Rebellion — brought to you by Tetley Tea!), the philosopher-morons at the Capitol were busy passing a resolution that mercifully kept them from the bothersome business of addressing the poor road conditions, spiking homelessness and abuse of children, and proliferation of drug manufacturing in the state.  In the cool of spring, the ship of fools instead hoisted sail for the shoals of social conservatism and ran aground on their own stupidity.
 
“Be it resolved,” they said, “by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 1st session of the 52nd Oklahoma legislature that the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States; that this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers; that all compulsory legislation which directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.”  In other words, we demand — in a completely impotent and non-binding way — that the federal government repeal the dreaded  bailout of the states. Gobierno RINO in California may take the stimulus money, but we’d rather go bankrupt, thanks.  We’ll happily drown in our smug self-satisfaction because we’d rather shoot ourselves in the foot than take money from a black man.  Stimulus?  We don’t need no stinking stimulus.
 
Doesn’t anyone take American history anymore?  Or, do they only teach the far right-wing version nowadays?  These idiots are relying on the exact same argument that John C. Calhoun, et al. tried to use to justify secession in the 19th century.  The states are sovereign and in a mad flurry of anti-federalism, they will nullify federal law and even leave the union over breach of social contract.  It’s the 21st century…and they are still fighting the Civil War.  And, still, it’s all about race.  There was no crazy secession talk in Oklahoma until segregation got shot down and the Dixiecrats revolted from LBJ’s party in the 1960’s.  Ever since then, there’s been irrepressible strains of states’ rights and hostility to government (not the intruding fascist kind — we like that — but, rather, the benevolent welfare state).  It is not coincidental that this resistance was closely connected in time to the civil rights movement.  Racism and rebellion go hand in hand here.  They always have.  Just as slavery was tied to states’ rights in the 19th century, so today, white supremacy links to contemporary anti-federalism.  Only, the philosopher-morons have spent too much time promoting their ideology and not enough time studying history.  We’ve had this fight before.  You remember the Civil War.  Spoiler alert:  the Lost Cause was, uh, lost.  You are going to take the bailout and like it, or you can try to secede and prompt another civil war.  It will hurt more this time, though, when the black president kicks your ass.  By the way, there wasn’t this kind of crazy secessionist talk here when FDR was doling out the funds during the Great Depression.  But, then, we don’t mind taking money from the Great White Father.
 
On the upside, my class’ final just got a whole lot easier to write:  Recently, the Oklahoma legislature passed a resolution declaring the State’s sovereignty and demanding that the federal government stop passing legislation the locals declare unconstitutional.  Explain how the Oklahoma legislature is full of shit. (Answer:  explain the debate between the federalists and anti-federalists, the failure of the Articles of Confederation warranting a stronger federal government under the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Marbury v. Madison establishing the Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter of constitutionality, Jefferson and Madison’s nullification theory, the reworking of that by John C. Calhoun, Andrew Jackson calling the nullifiers’ bluff over the tariff in the 1830’s, South Carolina recruiting other states to join the cause and promote secession, the Dred Scott case, the Civil War, and its outcome [i.e. the federal government is supreme and states do not have the power to nullify federal legislation].)  That’s the political story of the first half of U.S. history in a nutshell.  Hot damn!
 
Oh, and in case you philosopher-morons didn’t get it, when you use the U.S. Constitution as your authority, you are essentially conceding the superiority of the federal government.  Jackasses.
 
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 Posted by at 11:37 pm