Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sheep-Shearing Season on the Revenue Ranch

During the most recent Federal Reserve-engineered economic bubble, state and local governments made extravagant promises to their tax-feeder constituencies regarding pensions and other benefits.
Now that the bubble has burst, sales and property taxes -- once a mighty, roaring river of revenue -- have been reduced to a thin, pathetic trickle.

This comes at a time when, as the
New York Times reports, there is "a $1 trillion gap between what all 50 states have promised their workers [sic -- a more accurate description is "employees"] and what they have set aside."

As the economic crisis deepens, how will state and municipal governments continue to provide for their most cherished constituency -- those who live by plundering the productive?

Wendy McElroy highlights one approach being pioneered by the town of Tracey, California: The city will now impose a surcharge on emergency services that have already been paid for through taxes. Residents of that city will be charged $300 for the fire department to respond to a medical emergency; non-residents will be billed $400 for the same service. There is the option of paying an annual $48 fee for "premium" 911 service.

Note carefully that this is
not privatization. Taxes will still be extracted, but tax victims will now have the privilege of paying twice for the same services. If you're a Tracey resident and see someone having a heart attack, McElroy wryly comments, "you should quickly set a trash bin on fire. Otherwise, by calling for help, your monthly budget may not stretch to include mortgage or food." Tracey's political class simpers that the city government is running a $9 million budget deficit. Interestingly, that is exactly the amount spent each year on employee pensions.

Rather than renegotiating those benefits, the city government is putting the screws to economically burdened tax victims, and doing so in a way that is going to cost the lives of some of them.
"Forget that phone bills already include a charge to cover 911," continues McElroy. "Forget that property taxes already assist with those costs. The politicos don't care. They want your money. And they will let people die -- many of them elderly poor -- rather than deliver services for which they have already been paid."

In other jurisdictions, the wealth-devouring class is resorting to other potentially lethal revenue enhancement strategies. Before examining the specifics, two principles should be kept in mind.

First, government -- unlike private entities that offer goods or services in exchange for revenue -- engages in pure consumption. As a result, all sources of government revenue involve destruction of wealth, rather than mutually beneficial commerce that enhances both parties.

Second, everything government does to obtain revenue contains an implicit death threat. Anyone who resists or refuses the demand for revenue with sufficient tenacity will find himself on the receiving end of an explicit threat made by an armed stranger in a government-issued costume.

A gathering of statist shearers: Maryland State Police and personnel from the St. Mary's County assemble before carrying out "Operation Most Wanted Weekend," a 2008 exercise in "taxation by citation."

Those principles provide the proper context to examine the tactics employed by various municipal and state governments to conduct what former Sheriff Richard Mack perceptively describes as "taxation through citation."

To put the matter bluntly, police -- the self-described "Sheepdogs" -- aren't here to protect the flock, but rather to make sure that we're securely penned in when it's sheep-shearing season.

During the penultimate weekend of February, police in Minneapolis-St. Paul Minnesota conducted an elaborate and lucrative sting to enforce the state's primary seat belt law.

Officers disguised as homeless people were dispatched to harass drivers at a busy intersection: The "homeless" people -- most likely in violation of traffic ordinances, certainly in violation of the 4th Amendment and Minnesota's state equivalent -- would peer into cars and then radio ahead to their cohorts in officially sanctioned crime, who would hand each "offender" an extortion note (more commonly called a "traffic ticket").

Dave Kvam, the deputy police chief of Maplewood (a suburb of St. Paul), insists that the multi-departmental racket was a justifiable exercise. After all, he told local reporter Ruben Rosario, "police have received numerous complaints of panhandling, and he believes the seat-belt law is a good one and should be enforced" -- by, among other things, having police violate ordinances against panhandling. That parallel is a bit unfair: Although panhandlers may be obnoxious, even the most tenacious of them couldn't get away with demanding money at gunpoint, as Kvam's fellow street criminals did during the seat-belt ambush.

Each victim would typically be mulcted $25 for declining to wear seat belts, coupled with a $75 "petty misdemeanor surcharge fee" -- which is essentially a tax inflicted on people for refusing to obey a spurious enactment the tax-absorbing class calls a "law" -- plus an additional $8 kickback to the state crime bosses in St. Paul (who had already been given a $3.5 million federal bribe to enact the primary seat-belt "law" in the first place). At least 122 citations were handed out in a space of three and a half hours.

As Rosario points out, the homeless ruse has been used not only in Minnesota but also "in Houston and a few other jurisdictions." (As we will discuss anon, Houston is also the scene of another creative effort to harvest revenue from the plebes.) As the economy sickens and street people become a more visible presence, it's quite likely their numbers will frequently include predatory, revenue-hungry police.

The tax-extracting class afflicting Texas will celebrate the beginning of March with the fourth annual "Warrant Roundup," a yearly event in which police fan out to shakedown or imprison anyone with unpaid citations of any kind. This includes not only traffic tickets, but also fines for violating any of the myriad morally unsupportable but lucrative provisions in state and municipal building, planning, zoning, and safety codes.


The armed revenue farmers presented in this film clip were on their best behavior, of course. They weren't shown banging on the door of some underpaid, overburdened private citizen at or before daybreak, demanding money and dragging away in handcuffs those who couldn't pay. They weren't shown barging into classrooms or workplaces to present the same demands and inflict public humiliation on those not capable of complying with them.

All of this does occur during warrant roundups, however -- a fact prominently mentioned in official pronouncements, if played down, for propaganda purposes, by government-aligned stenographers in the local media.

At the risk of culpable redundancy, I make the point once again:
All of this is done for the purpose of collecting revenue on behalf of the political class, not to serve or protect the productive public. This is made quite clear by the opening lines of a Houston Chronicle account of a "warrant roundup" conducted last August: "Nearly 2 million warrants worth more than $340 million are outstanding in the Houston area, and in most cases they're not for hard-core criminals. They're for average citizens who haven't settled minor traffic and ordinance citations."

Revenue farmer in the rear-view: No good can come from this.

Of the eight people listed as "Houston's Most Wanted" during the round-up -- people who had at least 100 outstanding warrants -- four were cited for the apparently grievous offense of “failure to securely attach a tax permit to a coin-operated machine.” Other grievous offenses committed by that band of shameless rogues include failure “to conspicuously post at every entrance a sign stating smoking is prohibited,” and “having no hand-washing sign in a bathroom used by employees.”

How can Houstonians sleep peacefully in their beds knowing that such marauders are on the loose? As Barney Fife might exclaim: "It's a regular reign of terror!"

According to the Chronicle, in 2008 the Houston Police Department -- in tacit recognition of the fact that its primary function is to plunder the populace rather than to protect it -- “purchased automated license plate readers that read up to 60 vehicle license plates per minute." This allows the police to identify those with outstanding warrants, including the growing number of people who “have to choose between paying their grocery bill or their tickets.”

What a shameful lack of civic consciousness! How dare such people put food on their tables when there are tax-feeders pining for revenue? And coughing up the money is so much more convenient now that police “have the ability to run credit card payments so people can settle their outstanding warrants on the spot.”

For those who cannot pay off the parasite class and its armed enforcers, debtors’ prison awaits: As the Texas Court of Appeals recently observed, Class C misdemeanors “are still crimes, and … the person charged can be arrested on warrant like any ordinary criminal, forced to travel a long distance to attend the court, [and be] remanded in custody and imprisoned in default of payment of the fine.”

The only things that government makes -- as I've said before -- is criminals out of innocent people, and corpses out of living human beings. A Government's lethality increases the more energetically it criminalizes innocuous behavior.

In light of that relationship, it's reasonable to suspect that the ruling class in the Lone Star State appears determined to precipitate a bloodbath: The Texas Public Policy Foundation points out that 779 Texas statutes identify “misdemeanors,” but “only 64 of those instances are in the Penal Code or Code of Criminal Procedure.”

In the once-free Lone Star State, concludes the Texas Public Policy Foundation, "the criminal law is not just for criminals anymore. The same is true of imprisonment: Half of all Texans behind bars were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.

This trend is not confined to Texas. The state and municipal governments that disfigure our country like pustules on the face of a smallpox victim are relentless in devising new measures intended to justify the extraction of wealth at gunpoint. This aggression will only increase as the depression deepens.

At some point, those presuming to rule us won't be satisfied merely to fleece their increasingly bedraggled flock. That's when the options for the sheep will be clarified into a stark and unmistakable choice between revolt and slaughter.

Be sure to tune in to Pro Libertate Radio for your daily dose of sedition -- weeknights from 6:00-7:00 Mountain Time on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!


TAS said...

One of the reasons why the police pursue traffic warrants is that liberal judges, black and self-hating white politicians, and "civil rights" laws make it impossible for the police to effectively crack down on violent criminals. Thus, they rely on traffic stops to get criminals off the streets.

Anonymous said...

A very funny article however a very sobering ending.
It was interesting because I recently was privy to a discussion with a recently retired game warden about the fact that a samll twon was about to disband their police dept ( it consisted of one part time officer and he was the chief) At any rate the goal was to utilize the State Police to replace this officer during events held within the town. This ex game warden made a salient point. He stated that never having a police presence in the town was not an option - due to the lack of political will on the part of the townsfolk. However, he emphasized that the State Police would charge the town an arm and a leg for overtime and they would be brutal when it came to even minor traffic violations. Absolutely no breaks - he emphasized. As someone who believes a police presence should be almost non existent in our society - I had to concede given the current political climate and general malaise on the part of the Sheeple - this retired LEO had a point.

William N. Grigg said...

My urgent and sincere apologies to Daniel Hewitt. I was distracted while moderating comments to this blog and mistakenly deleted the following very germane and generous contribution:

Great article Mr. Grigg.

Short time reader (found you through the Christian Libertarian blogs), first time commenter, and I've even started podcasting your radio show.

I thought I'd share this gem, from Mish's blog. What union bosses think

Quoted from the article:
"I'm not running a popularity contest here," [Albany Police Officers Union President Chris] Mesley said. "If I'm the bad guy to the average citizen...and their taxes have go up to cover my raise, I'm very sorry about that, but I have to look out for myself and my membership."

Anonymous said...

Just as I finished reading this article, someone sent me a link to a YouTube video which, by pure coincidence, sums things up perfectly:

Anonymous said...

Cop tased after alleged DUI, falling asleep in his car

Luke Fisher said...

I only wish the police & justice system vigilantly cracked down on violent criminals. Unfortunately, those criminals are not normally cash cows. The militaristic War on Some Drugs and now the aforementioned War on Tax resistors are the new cash cows. These are supported by both the Progressives and modern "law and order" Conservatives.

MoT said...

"law and order" That statement makes me want to cringe when it burbles from the lips of statists. (not the commentators here). It reminds me of how the older Russians longed for the days of Stalin because he kept things in "order". Yeah, right... bodies stacked like cord wood are in order, too.

Redleg said...

Here is another video for you that sums up everything very nicely:

dixiedog said...

I really like your presentations - both on radio and the blog here - now even more so than in the past because I think the formerly vague "line in the sand" you drew (in my mind anyway) about your stalwart convictions is becoming much clearer now ;).

Short and to the point: Dependency at all levels is KILLING (has likely already KILLED) any viable return to a semblance of true freedom in Ami-land.

The states, locales, and the people themselves will never unshackle the reins while local governments, state governments and >50% of individuals are filling their faces at the central government trough.

And, of course, this dependency disease has been the primary fuel enabling the united State to coalesce so rapidly.

Virginia law officers protest proposed budget cuts
Disabled protest state’s proposed cuts in home care
University Students in Nevada Plan Walkout to Protest Budget Cuts

Sigh...I could dig up a TON more of this mindless dependency that plagues (by choice) folk at all levels.

So it's not JUST Leviathan or a Leviathanette's own parasites that want their fat slice of the host, regardless of the health of the host, but MANY ordinary, individual commoners want their fat cut of the expropriated stash as well.

The big picture of all this gives a clear indication of exactly how way too many folk out there think of true genuine freedom. Not a blessed thing.

Lastly, I always look forward to your radio show every evening now and catch your blog posts periodically since I long tired of arguing self-evident (!) reality to hard-heads. As for me, I just find it too difficult to endlessly belabor points to self-made fools gladly. Sorry.

OTOH, you're a quality message-conveyor, a hammer with the exposure that hopefully will have some forceful impact (no pun intended, really) and pound some reality nails into the vast horde of hard heads out here. Mind you, I'm not optimistic, but even the remotest hope is better than no hope.

I think the country is forlorn culturally, economically, and socially, but there's always a possibility that individuals can be salvaged, especially when humbled.

Josh Parris said...

LOS ANGELES – Cash-strapped Los Angeles is going to the dogs — literally.

The City Council voted Tuesday to have two departments share information in order to track down people who haven't licensed their pets.

Council President Eric Garcetti estimates two-thirds of the city's dogs are unlicensed. Licenses cost $15 for a sterilized dog and $100 for an unaltered pet.

Getting all dogs licensed would mean at least an additional $3.6 million in fees to the city.

The Department of Animal Services has eight full-time people whose job is to find and license dogs. The Department of Water and Power keeps a meter-reader database of homes with dogs. The council ordered the departments to coordinate to find the pooches.

Anonymous said...

Think about this the next time you get pulled over by some a hole for not wearing your seat belt or for speeding. While this "public servant" who is being paid to "protect and serve" you is writing you a ticket someone is being robbed, raped or burglarized, but they don't seem to give a damn.
Public safety has become a joke.
All the cops are nowadays is a bunch of overpaid meter maids. They just go around and write reports of crimes like someone got burglarized or killed here. They don't prevent anything from happening. People have to defend themselves because the police sure won't.

Anonymous said...

Yep just woke up this morning and read , on the front page of the Union Leader, that the highest wages paid to NH govt employees goes to ....... drum roll please.... two State Troopers in charge of protecting the governor. In fact they make more than the governor himself. Also buried in the article was the fact that 40 of NH's finest make over $100,000 p/year.
Public servants - my arse- more like public parasites.

Bob said...

What continues to disturb me most about stories like the one you cited where the cops dress up like bums in order to carry out a "sting" on seatbelt violators is the fact that everytime I go to the page the story orignated from there is a faithful pack of morons who actually defend these sort of actions constantly calling it "for your own good".

This was the same with the story I believe you cited a little while back where the man was beaten by police while his son was in critical condition after an accident because he failed to comply and back away from his potentially dying son. Sure enough there was a slew of authoritarian empty heads defending the actions of the police in the comment section.

This is typical and it is this that continues to dishearten me and leaves me without much hope for a large scal rejection of statism. There are too many morons who think these things really are for the greater good and that you ALWAYS listen to the man in the government issued costume.

Anonymous said...


I live in Utah and whenever there is some sort of "officer-involved shooting" or some other type of "officer-involved" whatever, the number of comments on places like that are overwhelmingly pro-police, no matter what the situation, is ridiculous - at least from my perspective.

Last summer, the police in Hurricane, Utah tazed Brian Cardall, who was having a "episode" as a result of suffering from bi-polar disorder. Mr. Cardall had apparently removed his clothes and was naked, or nearly naked in the middle of the road. In response to this, and in order to save Mr. Cardall from himself, the police tazed him and Mr. Cardall died.

I was disheartened, although not shocked, to see the number of replies posted to the KSL website that came off as suggesting that somehow Mr. Cardall had it coming to him, deserved it, or that that action was take to save his life (the ultimate irony).

I can't speak for the rest of the country, but I would imagine that the situation here in Utah will only get worse, until more individuals decide that it is the police who are the ultimate crime syndicate within their communities.

Anonymous said...

Here in NH when an article is written about some incident involving the police abuse and coverup, I am struck by the ever larger number of negative comments toward the criminal syndicate in blue. Even two years ago the comments were overwhelmingly supportive. Now it seems that the larger percentage of comments are negative. People are slowly waking up to the fact the police are nothing but armed guards hired to protect only the interests of the State. They realize the whole "protect and serve" line is as mythical as the tooth fairy.

Barney said...

It seems to me that the vast majority of these pro-police, anti-human comments are actually posted by those wearing the government-issued costume themselves. How better to defend the indefensible than to pose as a member of the public?

liberranter said...

It seems to me that the vast majority of these pro-police, anti-human comments are actually posted by those wearing the government-issued costume themselves. How better to defend the indefensible than to pose as a member of the public?

Yes, exactly. Most local PDs, as well as state and federal "law enforcement" agencies, have active intelligence units that are dedicated to monitoring activist web sites and news organizations to gather information on dissident bloggers and to strategically insert disinformation/propaganda, the most common examples being pro-cop commentary. This is of course authorized, funded, and conducted under the rubric of "the War on [Drugs/Gangs/Terror/statist false flag-red herring du jour]." You can also bet that such activities, like those associated with revenue collection, enjoy a resource and budgetary priority much higher than that given to fighting actual violent crime against person and property.

Sibkiss said...


For Immediate Release
March 1, 2010

Congressman Paul Returns Over $100,000 to Treasury

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Ron Paul has continued to run his Congressional office in a frugal manner, and was able to return more than $100,000 from his allotted office budget to the Treasury this year, an increase over the $90,000 returned last year.

“Since my first year in Congress representing the 14th district I have managed my office in a frugal manner, instructing staff to provide the greatest possible service to the people of the 14th district at the least possible cost to taxpayers,” said Paul.

Fred said...


I can't agree that MOST of the agencies monitor web traffic. Granted that ANY of them performing such acts and are posting on blogs should be sufficient evidence to alarm a free man, but saying most of them are doing it is a stretch, IMHO.

Fred said...

Wow. I'm pretty slow tonight. I just realized I fell for the trap.

Now everything I offer might be read as if it's coming from someone who is "on the clock" monitoring and posting on blogs, etc.

MoT said...

Liberanter, you reminded me of a scene in the movie "Minority Report" where one character, a founder of pre-crime stated, and I'm paraphrasing here, "when the chips are down all living things act the same... that being it's own survival". In that film we were witness to a mutated plant but in the here and now it's a mutated gun toting political body.

Anonymous said...

"A federally funded ticketing blitz in the state of Virginia landed a total of 6996 traffic tickets this weekend. The blitz, dubbed "Operation Air, Land and Speed" coincided with frantic efforts by state officials to close a$2.2 billion budget deficit. Supervisors ordered state troopers to saturate Interstates 81 and 95 to issue as many tickets as humanly possible over the space of two days."