The Price We Pay

February 8, 1924 dawned cold and icy, just like any other winter morning in Emory Gap, Roane County, Tennessee.

But the day would prove far from ordinary.

Constable James Jett had information about an illegal moonshine still on the Newport family farm.  This was the era of Prohibition, and the U.S. Constitution had been amended to outlaw the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.”  This moonshining had to be stopped, and Constable Jett was determined to uphold the law by destroying the still and arresting the moonshiners.

Constable Jett couldn’t conduct a moonshine raid by himself; he was going to need some help. And he couldn’t think of anyone better to help him on the raid than Deputy Sheriff John Franklin Swann.  The two men worked raids together previously, and Deputy Swann was a good man he could count on to have his back. So Jett stopped by the Swann home that morning to ask for help.  John got his gun, and said goodbye to his wife Essie and their four small children. He promised to be home for supper and left with Constable Jett at about 8:55 a.m.

That was one promise John would not be able to keep.

At the farm, 15-year-old Leland Newport went up from the house to the family’s moonshine still to get something.  He arrived to find Constable Jett and Deputy Swann in the process of destroying the family’s still.  The two lawmen arrested and handcuffed Leland, and Constable Jett went down to the Newport house, presumably to make more arrests. He left Deputy Swann guarding Leland.

At some point, Leland managed to run off through the chicken lot toward the house.  An eyewitness said that Walter Newport, seeing his younger brother running toward the house handcuffed, called out to Leland “Son, what are you doing with them things on?”  Leland replied, “Jett and Swann arrested me and put ‘em on me.”

An eyewitness in the home said that upon hearing this, Walter grabbed his gun and left the house for the barn.  Less than a minute later, the witness heard shots ring out.  He hightailed it away from the Newport farm, fleeing from the trouble.

Two young men were rabbit hunting near the scene and witnessed the shooting.  Dewey Pressly and Roosevelt Stamps heard four rifle shots from either the barn or the nearby chicken house. Then the two men saw Constable Jett come running out of the Newport’s barn and fall down on all fours. They heard him loudly cry out “Oh!”

With the sharp sound of two more shots, Deputy Swann also fell. The two hunters heard him repeatedly crying “Oh Lord!” as he struggled to get back up.

According to stories passed down, it was Maynard Human who shot Deputy Swann.  Walter Newport and John Swann often played pool together at the local pool hall and Walter considered him a friend.  When Walter said he couldn’t shoot John, Maynard reportedly said “you have to” and took the gun from Walter and fired the fatal shot.

Deputy Swann’s liver was shot into pieces and part of it was completely severed, lying loose outside his body in the front of his shirt. Medical examiner Dr. H. M. Carr stated at the trial, “There was a piece of his liver about five inches long and two and a half inches wide that was out here under his shirt.”


Passing Thoughts

When people qualify the word “justice” with adjectives like “social” or “racial” or “environmental”, what they usually mean is, “injustice”.  Justice applies to individuals, not groups.  It is impossible for the federal government (or anyone else) to provide justice to groups by violating individuals’ rights. === My truck is not the planet’s thermostat.  Neither is…


Independence Forever

An Independence Day article cross-posted from the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center. Worth a read the day after.


“Independence Forever”

These words were uttered by John Adams, as a toast to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Iindependence. Those words were also among his last as both he and Thomas Jefferson died that very day, that very year, on July 4, 1826.

It is not uncommon to hear of someone dying after getting an emotional closure they had long been seeking. In hospice care, when someone lingers long and is suffering, the caregivers are exhorted to plumb the depths and determine what closure they need so they can pass on peacefully. Sometimes it will be one last hug or kiss from a loved one they haven’t seen in a while, other times it will be permission to go from those they are leaving behind, and sometimes it is simply the certainty that their life mattered, that they will be remembered, that their legacy and heritage will live on.

I suspect that it was more than just a coincidence that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, 50 years after the first Independence Day. The passion of their life was spent securing liberty for their families, their nation, and those who would follow. Benjamin Franklin, in answering a question about what type of government we were to have, said “a republic if you can keep it”. Clearly the founders were concerned that their sacrifices may be for nothing, that the effort to secure liberty may ultimately fail. Perhaps celebrating the 50th anniversary of their independence was a sort of closure for them, an important symbolic milestone that the republic would survive and endure.


The Tenth, Texas and the TSA

By Becky Akers

As originally published at American Daily Herald

Ohio’s “GOP-controlled Senate” recently passed a resolution that ”would place an issue on the November ballot … prohibit[ing] any law from forcing Ohioans to participate in a health care system.” The measure now heads to Ohio’s House. It needs 60 votes there, which seems likely since “Republicans hold 59 out of 99 seats.”

Ohioans are probably shaking in their boots lest the proposition pass. Sure, it could save them from dying in wretched, government-controlled hospitals, but what if the Feds retaliate by closing all the doctor’s offices in the state? Or, horror of horrors, they could declare Ohio a “No-Health Zone.” Then, too, statists who adore an overweening central government might laugh at Ohio’s legislature for daring to challenge the over-weenies.

Those fears probably resonate with Texans. After all, Obama’s goons threatened to ground aviation in the state and turn the place into a “No-Fly Zone” last month when its legislature toyed with prohibiting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from sexually assaulting passengers. And now, as the re-incarnated bill struggles for life, the Speaker of Texas’ House worries that it could make his little fiefdom a laughingstock.


Think Federal Agencies are Interested in Success? Think Again

Today, an unprecedented amount of individual responsibilities have been delegated to the Federal govt.  This trend has been to the detriment of our society.  What is the goal of any human?  The goal of any person is to make their life better, whether through more money, more security or less work; everything we do is geared towards this goal. In Mises’s own words;

“Action based on reason, action therefore which is only to be understood by reason, knows only one end, the greatest pleasure of the acting individual.”

Therefore, we cannot expect the individuals who compose the public sector to act contrary to their own best wishes.  So to see what we should expect from our public employees, we should look at what actions they should take to advance their (and not ‘society at large’s) aims.  We will compare for each goal what the respective incentives for private vs. public individuals.

Job security:

One of the biggest goals of employees (especially ones with families) is job security.  What actions does a private employee have to take to ensure job security?  One of the best things a private sector employee can do to ensure he will come back tomorrow would be to Be as productive as possible, maximize profit, and ensure that customers have a nice experience while using whatever product or service is being produced.

How does a government employee stay employed?  Under no circumstances “should” a public employee accomplish anything if they want to keep their job. The fastest way to end a govt. program would be to solve the problem it was created to solve, right?  The employee should perform poorly, thus retaining a deficiency, causing lawmakers to throw more money at it…. in the hopes that voters will see how much they care. Under no circumstances would any lawmaker cut the headcount at a dept before the “problem” has been solved; coincidentally, few problems are ever actually solved.


Two States Defying No Child Left Behind

from Andrew J. Coulson, Cato-at-Liberty:

South Dakota joined Idaho this week in declaring that it will not raise its student proficiency targets next year as required by the NCLB. Under the law, states have been required to bring increasing percentages of their students up to the “proficient” level on their own tests. By 2014, NCLB demands that all students be deemed proficient by their respective state departments of education.

The belief driving NCLB was that, if we we raise government standards for what students are supposed to know and be able to do, they will learn more. They haven’t, according to the best, nationally representative indicator of academic outcomes: the NAEP Long Term Trends tests. By the end of high school, overall student achievement is no better today than it was 40 years ago. In science, it’s slightly worse.


Do federal elections really matter?

Do federal elections really matter?  The answer around the Tenth Amendment Center seems generally to be No.  Perhaps a more nuanced way of answering the question would be, in the near term, Yes, but in the long run, No.

The trouble is with the place itself.  Washington, D.C., has indeed become ‘ “the asylum of the base, idle, avaricious and ambitious” ’ that New York Anti-Federalist George Clinton predicted it would become (Bill Kauffman, Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet (hereafter FFDP), ISI Books, Wilmington, DE: 2008, p. XIII).  It has a culture all its own, and when elected officials go there to serve out their terms of office, that culture has an effect on them.

‘I have smelt/Corruption in the dish, incense in the latrine, the sewer in the incense,…’ (T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral (MitC hereafter), HBJ, New York: 1963, p. 67)

Luther Martin, an Anti-Federalist from Maryland, described that troubling effect this way:  ‘ “If he [a U.S. senator] has a family, he will take his family with him to the place where the government shall be fixed; that will become his home, and there is every reason to expect, that his future views and prospects will centre in the favors and emoluments of the general government….  [H]e is lost to his own State.” ’ (FFDP, p. 97)

Why should this surprise anyone?  ‘Their paymaster in the federal city, predicted Martin, will absorb their energies and loyalties.’  (FFDP, p.37)