Libertarian Commentary #16-04B, 25 JAN 2016 By Nathan Barton
What business does the “justice system” have deciding what is, and what is not, a potato chip (called a potato crisp in the UK)? Apparently, every bit when taxes are at stake. The BBC records that the Brit’s High Court has decided that Pringles (no matter what flavor) are NOT potato chips: they are not at least 50% potatoes, are an “unnatural shape and color” and are sold in a can not a bag. Scott, who sent this to me, described it accurately as “Freakazoid.” Definitely. It just proves the insanity of tax systems.
It is easy for Americans to make fun of the VAT (Value-added tax) because it is even worse than our sales and excise taxes, and approaches the nuttiness of American income taxes: the reason for this bizarre court decision is that if they aren’t “crisps” (chips to us Yanks), they are not subject to the VAT: therefore, they will be cheaper for the consumer and the manufacturer will sell more and make more money. This is the same court system that tells us that if it’s dirty or “not fresh” it is not a tomato. And that Spenser and Marks “tea cakes” really ARE cakes (and therefore you don’t have to pay VAT on them), but if it is a “biscuit” (Brit for “cookie”) made out of cake batter but completely coated in icing (frosting) – that is, dipped like a Girl Scout Thin Mint – it is NOT a cake and so you pay the state for the privilege of buying (and presumably, eating) them. By the way, the VAT is a big deal: in the UK it is 17.5% – that is a LOT of tax: a tube of Pringles that formerly cost the buyer a pound will now only cost 82-1/2 pence. Of the many, many things that governments do to meddle with the market, taxes are the nuttiest – and frankly, I am not THAT much of a fan of nuts in my cookies. Or my Pringles.
Mama’s Note: I have an idea that really ought to appeal to the governments all over the world. Instead of all this taxing of things, with all the nutty exceptions and very questionable rationalization of this and that – not to mention the torture of shop girls and businessmen trying to collect it… Why not just have the goons, er, tax collectors go around each month, confront the “citizen” with a drawn gun, and make him/her produce their wallet for extraction of “their fair share” of the tax. Done, nice and clean, and no cookies or cakes damaged or even involved.
Naturally, that might not prove too popular, since the drawn gun is quite apt to make most folks very nervous. I suspect most people would rather go on arguing about whether something is a cake or a cookie, or a potato chip of some sort. Frankly, the few times I’ve tried them, I thought Pringles tasted like fried, salted cardboard. No resemblance to the wonderful, greasy and heavenly tasting potato chips I used to make for my boys.
Of course, potato chips, tomatoes and teacakes are NOT the only things that government messes with and ruins. Take water.
The so-called “Flint water crisis” escalated as the EPA regional administrator resigned, reported by CNN. “The Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator for Flint, Michigan, has resigned, the agency said in a statement Thursday. ‘EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman has offered her resignation effective February 1, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has accepted given Susan’s strong interest in ensuring that EPA Region 5’s focus remains solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water,’ the agency said. In late June, then-Flint Mayor Dayne Walling wrote to Hedman, seeking information about the issue of lead in Flint’s drinking water. She essentially shot him down in her response. … She had also fallen under fire for allegedly retaliating against EPA employees involved in investigating sexual harassment cases.” Center for a Stateless Society makes yet ANOTHER strong case for a stateless society in their summary of this “Flint water crisis.” The problem here – the ROOT problem that created a situation in which the residents of Flint are being poisoned by the water in the city’s water supply – is GOVERNMENT. State government decided to “save money” by using contaminated water instead of purer water ALREADY available. But we can trace the root back further: what BUSINESS is it of a government at ANY level to provide water? If water, then why not FOOD? AIR? CLOTHING? SHELTER? The truth is, government has no business providing ANY of these things. Why? Beyond the destruction of liberty entailed in government providing such services (and mandating that only THEIR service can be used, 9 of 10 times), government is INCAPABLE of doing this (or anything else) well and efficiently, and will ALWAYS allow politics to be more important than providing a good product at a reasonable price. And will ALWAYS be corrupt and find ways to avoid common decency, as well as breaking its own laws. And it will ALWAYS find a way to pass the buck: as in this case, where the state is demanding that the EPA do something to solve the problem created BY the state when it PERVERTED the very regulations that EPA was supposedly enforcing. Except, of course, the EPA did NOT enforce its regs and hid this until an independent researcher inconveniently blew the whistle. But EPA will not learn from this: I see no reason why this Hedman should resign over the Flint water problem – caused by the STATE (and the CITY) and only enabled by EPA’s inaction, while the EPA Region VIII administrator in Denver did NOT resign after DIRECT EPA ACTION contaminated the water of many MORE people in Southwestern Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. (This, by the way, invalidates Hillary Clinton’s hysterical claim that a wealthy suburb would have seen action: Durango and Farmington are much better off than Flint, and all they get from the EPA is hollow apologies and demands for more action by local governments, while blaming the state. I don’t know why Colorado is castigated while Michigan is given a pass.) The EPA is saying that the Region’s SOLE focus is on solving the water problem for Flint, and let the rest of the supposed duties of the region go hang. Of course, the state’s idiot of a governor is demanding that the FedGov pay for all the water distribution and everything else.
This is not the ONLY stupid act by a government official, or a governor here recently. In Oregon, the Democratic Governor condemned federal response to refuge standoff, according to Reuters “Oregon’s governor blasted the federal government’s response to the occupation of a wildlife refuge [headquarters] by a group of armed men saying the situation was “absolutely intolerable” and costing the state about $100,000 a week. Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, said she had been asked by federal officials to limit her public comments about the protest which began on Jan. 2 at the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and that she had no wish to escalate the situation. ‘But I will say this … The situation is absolutely intolerable and it must be must be resolved immediately. The very fabric of this community is being ripped apart,’ Brown said on Wednesday at a news conference.”
First off, according to what Brown and DC agree with (that the Feds control all the “federal land” in Oregon, it is NOT the State’s problem. I think the claim of a $100K a week is, at best, overblown and and ANY money spent by the state is waste, fraud, and stupidity. The peace of the state is not bothered in the least by this occupation of a site 30 miles from the nearest town and ten from the nearest ranch. Exactly what is “intolerable” about this? The state should WANT to distance themselves, since they are unwilling to stand up to DC. (Keep in mind that although Oregon may be a colony of DC, southeastern Oregon is a colony of the pacifist, uber-liberal/Tranzi Willemette Valley, heart of Ecotopia. They don’t WANT ranchers, they don’t WANT cows, they want it all to be “wilderness.”
The next story reminds me that Oregon was originally settled by New Englanders: Puritans who believed (wrongly) that they had the obligation and the right to force their religion down the throats of anyone, especially the AmerInd people of the area. Fortunately, most all (even the most wrongheaded) of the so-called christian denominations have rejected that evil. But not all, as for example the African warlord who leads the “Lord’s Resistance Army.” In The Hague, this LRA commander Ongwen faces charges (reported by ABC News [ ]) that his (Joseph Kony’s) feared “militia” deliberately targeted civilians in its conflict with Ugandan government forces, murdering indiscriminately, abducting children to turn into killers ‘steeped in blood,’ forcing girls and women into ‘marriages’ with fighters and even ordering cannibalism. Very christian, that, eh?
An International Criminal Court prosecutor Ben Gumpert spoke at the start of a hearing to establish whether evidence against Dominic Ongwen, one of the most senior commanders in Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, is strong enough to merit putting him on trial.” This is equated by some apologists to the Caliphate: that supposedly “Christianity” has its equivalent of the murdering terrorist-thugs that are the Islamic State, in the LRA. I personally reject that idea, because unlike Islam, you can find nothing in the New Testament to support the warfare and murdering terrorism practiced by Kony. But you can (despite disagreements on interpretation) find support for Islamic terrorism and statism in Mohammad’s (peanut butter und honig) own words in the Koran and the Hidatha.
Mama’s Note: And either one would be no real justification anyway. Murder, rape, assault and aggression of all kinds is simply wrong… and that wrongness is natural to all human beings, and those who are honest with themselves don’t need to be told that. No religion or belief system can justify any sort of aggression in any way.