The Freedom to Gamble

I don’t follow sports directly; they don’t interest me much. I do follow sports indirectly though, because I follow politics. And anymore nothing is sacred.  So government gets involved in that too. Everything’s been perverted by government involvement. I wrote some time ago about the prospect of a few states bucking the Feds and allowing sports gambling, among them was New Jersey, and the inevitable push-back is underway.

NBC Sports is reporting that a confederacy of professional sports leagues and the NCAA have filed suit against New Jersey, in attempt to prevent the people of the state from gambling there legally. This is a clear example of a concept that Frédéric Bastiat described in The Law, in which one group engineers the legal code for its own benefit.

They, of course, do it under the guise of protecting the sport, but their motive is irrelevant, given that their means relies on State violence to achieve their ends. It’s immoral to coerce non-violent individuals into behaving in one way or another, and coercion is at the heart of every government action.

Of course this confederacy is able to use the government because the law, in Bastiat’s words, has been “diverted from its true mission,” which is protecting property rights, and now “it may violate property instead of securing it.”

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Decentralization as a Means of National Defense

In All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, author Stephen Kinzer describes the U.S./British operation that lead to the deposition of a popularly elected prime minister and the installation of a repressive dictator. Without going too far into the history of the affair, suffice it to say that Iran was a virtual colony of the British Empire for the better part of 100 years.

One way the British government achieved and maintained control over the Iranian people (and a number of their colonies, for that matter) was by working to diminish the role and power of regional tribes. Political authority was then vested in the hands of an Iranian monarchy, which was supported by the British State and subservient to it.

This is one reason among so many that people should always seek to preserve decentralized social order and government power. Not only will domestic tyrants look to gain control of the people in their own territory, but outside parties can use the government to exploit them as well.

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Montanans Plead the 10th

Last August, a group of medical practitioners and pharmaceutical manufacturers filed suit against the federal government in U.S. District Court. They claimed the feds violated their rights by sending armed agents into their businesses and, according to a report in the Santa Fe New Mexican “‘seized and destroyed thousands of live plants,’ and ‘took away hundreds of pounds of dried marijuana’ during a March 2011 raid on licensed producers, and stripped certain providers of lights and other equipment used to grow and distribute the herb, which caused […] significant financial damage.”

But the district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims, saying the issue had “already been decided.”

However, as Daniel Abrahamson notes, medical marijuana hasn’t really been decided by the courts, as most of the relevant cases haven’t actually been argued in court. In nearly all cases, the parties have settled or withdrawn their appeals. So it would appear to be an open question, ripe for such a challenge.

The group hopes they’ll have their chance to advance their case later this year in the 9th Circuit Court. One of the chief complaints raised by attorney Paul Livingston, who represents this Montana group, is that “It is truly astonishing that so much weight is given, so many actions taken, and so much reliance placed on a demonstrably false notion; that marijuana has no known medical uses.”

But the main thrust of their case doesn’t rest solely on the medical science regarding cannabis, the 10th Amendment will also be key to their argument. Livingston will attempt to show that both the power to police and provide safety to the public lie not with the Feds, but with the several states. Such a two-pronged approach ought to be the most effective, insomuch as petitioning the government courts to limit their own powers is concerned.

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Judges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Judges

In response to my latest column I received an e-mail from Bill Walker, co-founder of the Friends of the Article V Convention. The text of the e-mail was also posted as a comment on the original post.

My point with this post isn’t to burn bridges or start some feud between organizations that have similar goals in mind, namely restricting federal power. But I do think it’s important to understand both what we’re up against and where each organization comes from. So, with that in mind, allow me to expand on a few points by addressing Mr. Walker’s comments.

He writes: “[Joel Poindexter] provides no proof where any judge has ever ruled the states have such authority [to use nullification].”

This assumes that the states need approval from the Feds before they can nullify the Feds, and as the title of this post states, “we don’t need no stinking [judges].” And to that point, let me first suggest that if any judge with any clout ever ruled that a state can nullify an unconstitutional “law,” as determined by that state, we’d likely be in far better shape. Any judge who would side with a state on this issue isn’t likely to acquiesce to federal overreach in the first place, and since judges are appointed to the bench by politicians, we’d have to assume this judge had a similar outlook on federalism.

It’s because judges aren’t overturning unlawful “laws” that nullification is even necessary, so who needs them? That’s sort of the point of nullification; it essentially removes the Feds from the equation, since by the time a state has decided to nullify something, the Feds must have failed somewhere in the process. Whether it’s a legislature with an overly broad interpretation of the commerce clause, an executive who decides to write his own laws or a court without the moral fiber to strike down one of the former, nullification is the answer.

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Sportsbook Showdown: California Moves to Allow Sports Betting

The federal government currently preempts the states regarding the issue of sports gambling, allowing only four states to sanction the activity. This however may change soon, as legislators in California are considering a bill to decriminalize sports gambling in the state. Under the proposed Senate Bill 1390, which was recently approved overwhelmingly by the senate, sports betting would be allowed at licensed gambling establishments, including casinos and horse-racing tracks.

Unfortunately for freedom lovers, the bill is not the result of someone reading Lysander Spooner’s Vices are not Crimes and deciding to let a thousand flowers bloom. It is entirely an issue related to tax revenue generation, itself the result of profligate government.

It’s no secret that plenty of Californians – and folks in all the other states for that matter – place bets on sporting events, despite a federal prohibition. (Isn’t it funny how laws against non-violent behavior with no victim never seem to work out?) Because of this, legislators are hoping to begin regulating this gambling for the purposes of collecting licensing fees and taxes on winnings.

As part of the legislative process the committee researched Nevada’s sports gambling totals and estimated them to be somewhere north of two and a half billion dollars. Given California’s immense budget deficit, even a fraction of that multi-billion dollar industry would help to relieve fiscal strain. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Roderick Wright, said of the “illegal” gambling “We receive absolutely no money from it,” and suggested the state could end up with “a great deal of money” as a result of his bill.

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ACTION ALERT: Help South Carolina Nullify the NDAA!

The senate finance committee is considering a bill, S. 1184, to amend state law, effectively nullifying sections of the NDAA authorizing indefinite detention. The bill prohibits the agencies of the state and its subdivisions, including their officers and employees, acting in official capacity from “[engaging] in any activity that aids an agency of the armed forces of the United States in execution of [the NDAA], in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of any citizen of the United States in violation of Section 3, Article I, and Section 14, Article I of the South Carolina Constitution.”

S. 1184 was introduced February 7, 2012, and now sits in committee with two sponsors; an additional two sponsors have signed on from other committees. Given recent passage of Virginia’s own nullification of the NDAA, let’s continue this trend and send yet another message to the politicians in D.C. – we won’t allow them to abridge our liberties.

You are urged to contact individual members of South Carolina’s Senate Finance Committee, politely explaining why S. 1184 will help restore liberty and continue in the restoration of our Constitutional Republic. Should this bill pass, South Carolina will be the second state to reject the Feds and their unconscionable, unconstitutional NDAA.

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Time to Take Down TSA – For Real

“Time to Take Down TSA” was the Heritage Foundation’s headline. The author, James Carafano, was commenting on a recent study he coauthored for the D.C.-based think-tank. But in typical establishment, inside-the-beltway fashion, his prescription for the Transportation Security Administration would take down nothing. Nor would it restore to the states a constitutional level of federal aviation oversight – which is zero.

Just like politicians who throw buzzwords like “reform” around to pander to constituents, these groups who advocate “rethinking” the TSA have nothing profound to contribute to the discourse. Under such a plan, which involved “redefining” the TSA’s role, no fundamental change would take place in transportation security.

What Carafano and the Heritage Foundation call for is changing the role of the TSA from providing “security” directly, to “making aviation security policy and regulations.” He goes on to suggest that: “Screening responsibility would devolve to the airports, whose security operations would be supervised by a federal security director.”

This is really no different than the various federal agencies charged with waging the war on drugs shifting their focus from direct action to merely writing policy and regulations. In the same way that airports would be responsible to implement the government’s central plan, drug enforcement would be turned over to semi-private agencies which, under the direct supervision of the feds, would continue the very same assault on our civil liberties. At least the current system allows the tyranny and incompetence to be directly associated with government, whereas a more “privatized” system would tend to shift the blame away from the feds and onto others.

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Arizona Moves to Regain Sovereignty

In December of last year an amendment to Arizona’s constitution was introduced by representatives Chester Crandell, Brenda Barton, and state senator Sylvia Allen. On Monday the proposed change was approved by committee in the state’s senate, as reported by The Yuma Sun, and with full Senate approval will begin making its way to the ballot in November.

The proposed amendment, HCR 2004, is intended to reassert Arizona’s sovereignty as a state, and regain control over much of the state’s lands and resources. According to Section C. of the proposal: “The State of Arizona declares its sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries….” The authors made exceptions for existing military posts, Indian reservations, and federal property, pursuant to the US constitution’s Article I, Section 8, Clause 17.

According to senator Allen, the federal government made “an implicit promise” to the state of Arizona in 1912, in exchange for control over large sections of state lands. The deal was supposed to allow the federal government to sell off the land to pay the national debt, but as Allen describes, this never happened.

Presently the feds control almost half of the state’s lands, with total holdings standing at well over 100,000 square miles. Private ownership amounts to only seventeen percent, with the remaining territory is held by the state and reservations.

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Elk County, PA Takes First Step In Nullifying NDAA

Prompted by citizens concerned over one of the federal government’s latest oversteps, the county commissioners in Elk County, Pennsylvania voted unanimously in favor of a resolution opposing sections of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.

Shortly after the president signed the act into law, members of the local Tea Party addressed the county commissioners in a January 17th meeting, calling for the adoption of a resolution on behalf of the county’s residents. Blaise Dornisch, a member of the Elk County Tea Party, brought to the attention of the board sections of the act which expand the executive’s power to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism. The board promised to consider the issue and the meeting was closed.

At the following meeting, Resolution No. 2012-03 was unanimously adopted by the bi-partisan commission. Titled “To Preserve Habeas Corpus And Civil Liberties,” the resolution invokes both the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions to defend the rights of county residents. The commissioners found that Sections 1021 and 1022 “jeopardize the fundamental rights of American citizens to remain free from detention without due process and the right to habeas corpus….” They further declare that such an act is “in direct contravention of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions.”

On its own, this resolution from a small county in Pennsylvania holds little weight. However, the county Sheriff’s department is in agreement, and has promised to support the resolution and “protect the constitutional rights of all citizens.”

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