by Amy Oliver Cooke and Robert Applegate
As Ron Binz campaigns to be confirmed as the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, much of the emphasis has been on his position as an activist for what he considers to be low or no carbon energy sources, predominantly Big Wind. (Forget the fact that wind requires an enormous amount of carbon emissions in the manufacturing of gigantic wind turbine.)
But Binz’s no carbon advocacy is hypocritical.
While Binz now advocates for lowering carbon emissions, he was instrumental in shutting down Colorado’s lowest carbon emitting power source, the Fort St. Vrain nuclear plant, which eventually converted to natural gas – a technology he now calls “dead end” when it comes to carbon emissions.
As head of the Office of Consumer Council (OCC), Binz successfully argued before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that the power plant did not work correctly and that the shareholders of the company running the plant must pay for the capital costs rather than customers using the electricity. (This is when Binz cared about ratepayers)
More stringent regulations and the burden of the extra cost upon the shareholders ultimately forced the plant to close as a carbon free, nuclear power source. This “regulating to death,” as stated by previously employees of the plant ultimately came at the cost detriment of electricity customers who paid for the decommissioning and subsequent recommissioning as a carbon emitting natural gas plant.
His position on natural gas has flipped too. In 2010, as chair of the PUC Binz took a lead role in negotiating the terms of the controversial fuel switching bill HB 1365 titled “Clean Air; Clean Jobs Act.” At that time, Binz championed a mandated fuel switch from coal to natural gas. Apparently Binz thought natural gas was a clean fuel in 2010 but isn’t now. Too bad ratepayers didn’t know that in 2010. It would have saved them more than $1 billion dollars, but then Binz’s concerns for consumer costs have flipped too.
William Few, Jr., June 8, 1748 – July 16, 1828
Few was an American politician and a farmer, and a businessman and a Founding Father of the United States. William represented the U.S. state of Georgia at the Constitutional Convention. Born into a poor yeoman farming family, Will Russell Few achieved both social prominence and political power later in life. Exhibiting those characteristics of self-reliance vital for survival on the American frontier, he became an intimate of the nation’s political and military elite. The idea of a rude frontiersman providing the democratic leaven within an association of the rich and powerful has always excited the American imagination, nurtured on stories of Davy Crockett. In the case of the self-educated Few, that image was largely accurate.
Few’s inherent gifts for leadership and organization, as well as his sense of public service, were brought out by his experience in the American Revolutionary War. Important in any theater of military operations, leadership and organizational ability were particularly needed in the campaigns in the south where a dangerous and protracted struggle against a determined British invader intimately touched the lives of many settlers. Few’s dedication to the common good and his natural military acumen quickly brought him to the attention of the leaders of the Patriot cause, who eventually invested him with important political responsibilities as well.
The war also profoundly affected Few’s attitude toward the political future of the new nation, transforming the rugged frontier individualist into a forceful exponent of a permanent union of the states. Men of his stripe came to realize during the years of military conflict that the rights of the individual, so jealously prized on the frontier, could be nurtured and protected only by a strong central government accountable to the people. This belief became the hallmark of his long public service.
Descendant of Quaker shoemaker, Richard Few from the county of Wiltshire, England, and his son Isaac Few, a cooper, who emigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1680s, the Few family lived in northern Maryland, where they eked out a modest living raising tobacco on small holdings. When a series of droughts struck the region in the 1750s, the Fews and their neighbors-actually a sort of extended family consisting of cousins and distant relations-found themselves on the brink of ruin. The whole community decided to abandon its farms and try its luck among the more fertile lands on the southern frontier.
In time the Few family achieved a measure of prosperity, emerging political leaders in rural Orange County. Like many other western settlers, however, the family became involved with the Regulators, a populist movement that grew up in reaction to the political and economic restrictions imposed on the frontier or back-country farmers by the merchants and planters of the tidewater area and by the local politicians and lawyers. By 1771 protest had become confrontation, and a large group of mostly unarmed westerners gathered to clash with North Carolina militia units at the “battle” of the Alamance. The uneven fight ended in total victory for the militia, although most of the Regulator’s demands for political representation and economic relief eventually would be met by the state legislature. More immediately, one of Few’s brothers, James Few, was hanged for his part in the uprising, and the Few family farm just east of Hillsborough was ransacked by Tryon’s militia troops. The rest of the family fled to Wrightsboro, Georgia leaving William behind to settle the family’s affairs and sell their property.
These antagonisms within North Carolina began to evaporate as American opinion turned against the imperial measures instituted by Great Britain in the 1770s. Both the eastern planters and the new settlers found new taxes and restrictions on western expansion at odds with their idea of self-government, and Patriot leaders were able to unite the state against what they could portray as a threat to the liberties of all parties.
Few participated in this training as one of the first men to enlist in the volunteer militia or “minute men” company formed in Hillsborough. Typically, Few’s unit received its tactical instruction from a veteran of the colonial wars, in this case a former corporal in the British Army who was hired by the company as its drill sergeant. Citing the press of family business, Few rejected the offer of a captaincy in one of the first units North Carolina raised for the Continental Army in the summer of 1775. But when he finally settled the family’s accounts the next year and joined his relatives in Georgia, where he opened a law office, he quickly placed his newly acquired military knowledge at the service of the Patriot cause in his new state.
Georgia organized its citizen-soldiers on a geographical basis, forming local companies into a regiment in each county. Few joined the Richmond County Regiment, which his older brother, Benjamin, commanded. For the next two years Few’s military duties consisted of attending military assemblies where he instructed his friends and neighbors in the skills he had acquired in the North Carolina militia. Only in 1778, when Georgia faced the threat of invasion by a force of Loyalist militia and British regulars based in Florida, was Few finally called to active duty.
The Georgians’ first military campaign ended in disaster. A force of state and Continental units successfully combined to repulse an enemy raid on Sunbury near the states southeastern border, but a counterattack orchestrated by Major General Robert Howe of the Continental Army and Governor John Houstoun bogged down before the Patriots could reach St. Augustine. Few, now in command of a company of Georgia Militia, watched the collapse of the campaign’s logistical support and then the disintegration of the force itself, as senior officers bickered among themselves and as disease began to decimate the units. Only half of the American soldiers survived to return home. At the end of the year a sudden amphibious invasion by British forces resulted in the capture of Savannah, Georgia, and the destruction of the rest of the Continental units under Howe and most of the eastern militia formations. Armed resistance to the British continued in the western part of the state, led by the Richmond County Regiment. Throughout 1779 the regiment, with Few now second in command, frequently turned out to skirmish with probing British units, eventually forcing the enemy to abandon Augusta, which the British had captured soon after the fall of Savannah.
The success of the citizen-soldiers in defending their own homes began to reverse the fortunes of war in Georgia, prompting the new Continental commander in the region, Major General Benjamin Lincoln, to take the offensive. Lincoln combined his continentals and militia units from Georgia and South Carolina with a French force newly arrived from the Caribbean to lay siege to Savannah. He immediately encountered difficulty, however, in coordinating the efforts of his diverse forces. The French, under pressure to terminate operations quickly in order to move on to other assignments, persuaded Lincoln to launch a full frontal attack. The result was a bloody defeat, but Few’s militiamen participated in a successful rear-guard action that shielded the retreat of the American units. In the aftermath of the battle his regiment was posted to the frontier where the Creek Indians, interpreting the defeat before Savannah as proof of the Georgians’ weakness, had taken to the field in support of British forces.
Enemy operations in Georgia in 1779 were part of a new “southern strategy” by which the British planned to use the state as a base for conquering the rebellious colonies in a sweep up from the south. Few’s military service in the later years of the war proved critical both in frustrating this strategy and in enhancing his credentials as a state leader. The western forces, in which Few’s regiment played a prominent role, kept the British from consolidating their position. The area never developed into a secure Loyalist base, and British troops needed for subsequent operations against the Carolinas and Virginia had to be diverted to counter the threat posed by the frontier militia units. Few emerged as a gifted administrator and logistics expert in this demanding and difficult effort to maintain a viable military force in Georgia. He also turned into a bold, innovative partisan commander. Experience and innate common sense enabled him to develop patience, preserve his forces for key attacks, and then pick his time and place to defeat small enemy parties without unduly risking the safety of his men. Most important, he displayed the raw physical stamina required to survive the serious hardships of guerrilla warfare.
Military was a success that went hand in hand with political service. During the late 1770s Few also won election to the House of Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly, sat on the state’s Executive Council, acted as state surveyor-general, represented Georgia in negotiations with the Indians that succeeded in minimizing the danger of frontier attacks, and served as Richmond County’s senior magistrate. Few’s growing political prominence and undisputed talent for leadership prompted the state legislature in 1780 to appoint him to represent Georgia in the Continental Congress.
Few served in Congress less than a year when, in the wake of General Nathanael Greene’s successful effort to drive the British out of most of Georgia, Congress sent him home to help reassemble Georgia’s scattered government. This task accomplished, Few returned to Congress in 1782, where he remained to serve throughout most of the decade. While a member of that body, Few was asked by his state to serve concurrently in the Constitutional Convention that met in Philadelphia in 1787. This dual responsibility caused him to split his time between the two bodies and therefore to miss portions of the constitutional proceedings. Nevertheless, Few firmly supported the effort to create a strong national government and worked hard to secure the Continental Congress’ approval of the new instrument of government. He also participated in the Georgia convention in 1788 that ratified the document.
Georgia promptly selected Few to serve as one of its original United States senators. Planning to retire from politics at the expiration of his term in 1793, he bowed instead to the wishes of his neighbors and served yet another term in the state legislature. In 1796 Few was appointed as a federal judge for the Georgia circuit. During this three-year appointment he not only consolidated his reputation as a practical, fair jurist but became a prominent supporter of public education. He was a founding trustee of the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens in 1785. Few’s efforts to establish UGA as the first state-chartered university in the United States indicated the importance this self-educated man gave to formal instruction.
At the urging of his wife, a native New Yorker, Few left Georgia in 1799 and moved to Manhattan. There, he embarked on yet another career of public service, while supporting his family through banking and the occasional practice of law. He served as director of the Manhattan Bank (known as Citigroup as of 2013) from 1804-14, becoming its President in 1814. His new neighbors promptly elected him to represent them in the New York State Assembly from 1802-05 and later as a city alderman from 1813-14. He also served as New York’s inspector of prisons 1802-10 and as the United States Commissioner of Loans in 1804. Few retired in 1815 to his country home in Fishkill, New York in Dutchess County where he died on July 16, 1828.
He died at the age of 80 in Fishkill-on-Hudson, survived by his wife Catherine Nicholson and three daughters. He was buried in the yard of the Reformed Dutch Church of Fishkill Landing but was reintered at Saint Paul’s Church, Augusta, Georgia.
Read more about William Few here.
Nullification The Rightful Remedy: What do we do when the federal government steps outside of it’s Constitutional boundaries? Do we ‘vote the bums out’ and hope that the new bums limit their own power? Do we ask federal judges in black robes to limit the federal government’s power? Thomas Jefferson and James Madison didn’t think so, and neither do we. The rightful remedy to federal tyranny rests in the hands of the people and the States that created the federal government in the first place. It’s called Nullification, and it’s an idea whose time has come. This documentary explores the history of state nullification, and how it is being used today to push back against the encroachment of federal power.
by Sean Haugh
The state requires our taxes to survive. The idea is that if we pay our taxes then government at all levels will provide us with all kinds of good important things that it is best suited to do. We’re upholding our end of the bargain. But in every way, government has failed to uphold theirs. At some point we’ve got to hold the politicians who have failed us responsible. At some point we have to ask, what are we paying taxes for? And we have to be prepared for an honest answer. The only way to hold our public servants accountable is to stop paying taxes.
We’re paying for perpetual war for a false perpetual peace. Our drones have killed at least 168 children in Pakistan alone in the last seven years. These are not enemy combatants by any stretch of the imagination. And not only do we bomb children, we also bomb women, wedding parties, funerals and even first responders to the strikes we just launched. Let me repeat that: we fire drones at first responders. We are taught to revere first responders on American soil and yet we slaughter them without mercy on the other side of the world, just because they happen to be of the same race as some people who mean us harm. Which maybe begs the question, why would they want to do us harm? I say ‘we’ because this is done in our name and with our tax dollars. Stop paying taxes.
The politicians keep looting the economy – our money – to give it to their special interest cronies. Tell me, how in the heck is giving trillions of dollars to ultra-rich bankers and Fortune 500 companies supposed to stimulate the economy? Are you better off than you were a year ago? Four years ago? Eight years ago? Have you noticed the prices rising in the grocery store? Have you even tried to look for a job in the last four years? How many people do you know who lost their homes? And yet they keep on looting, with their special tax breaks, incentives, restraint of trade, ever-increasing regulation that only the largest industries can afford, and when that isn’t enough they just outright grant them more billions – our money – calling it ‘stimulus’ or ‘bailout’. This adds up to trillions of tax dollars at the federal state and local levels. And then they have the gall to hold press conferences announcing the recession is over. Stop paying taxes.
Speaking of bailouts, we’ve already bailed out Detroit’s industries twice and yet the place is a wreck. There’s one simple reason why anyone who could has fled Detroit over the last several decades. Because the police force failed, the schools failed, infrastructure crumbled, heck the government couldn’t even keep the streetlights on, all despite the taxpayers bearing an average individual tax burden that was six times the average of what people paid in all of Michigan’s municipalities. Meanwhile the politicians spent hundreds of millions of dollars on sports stadiums for major league teams, all of which have multi-billionaire owners. The auto industries got their bailout billions. The city and the state has sunk themselves deep into every kind of corrupt corporate welfare. And now when they have run out of other people’s money, they have the gall to propose liquidating the pensions of public employees. People who held up their end of the bargain and dutifully did their jobs, who now in their retirement live on an average of $19,000 a year their pension provides, and these criminals are talking about raiding that money? This is not some dry economic discussion. This is talking about throwing Grandma and Grandpa out into the street. But hey! We need a new hockey stadium! If we don’t cut off their supply of tax dollars, this injustice will never ever end. Stop paying taxes.
One big thing that government is supposed to provide is security, both nationally and locally. But we are far less secure than we have been in our lifetimes, and the main threat is our own government. As already noted, we give every incentive to people who would want to strike back at America. Locally our own police forces are becoming more militarized and turning against the very people they are sworn to serve and protect. Police kill citizens for the most specious reasons and not only avoid prison time, they get to keep their jobs. There’s an alarming increase in police shooting family dogs without warning. Just because they can. And if you try to film them while they are committing these depravities, or just stomping on people’s rights at whim, they will arrest you and throw you in prison instead. When they’re not causing mayhem in their armored vehicles and playing ninja in their SWAT gear, they’re far more interested in writing tickets and ‘enhancing revenue’ than in actually solving crimes. Just try telling the police that your car has been vandalized and see what doesn’t happen. Their salaries and equipment, and these daily violations of your rights, are all paid for with your own tax dollars. Stop paying taxes.
Do you know anyone who has ever been on Medicaid? My word, what a living hell. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I worked at a hospital 15 years ago and saw it for myself. I’m sure it’s even worse now. You have to follow so many procedures, fill out so many forms, and jump through so many hoops that just keeping up with your benefits is a full time job. And they’re putting pressure on you to get a real job and get off benefits, in increasingly threatening ways. But how in the heck is someone supposed to make the leap straight from keeping up with all your bureaucracy to full time employment that will take care of you and your family? Because if you try to take just one step and get some part time work, you’re screwed with no benefits and not enough income. Do you really think Obamacare will be any different? I call it ‘Obamacare’ because it is most definitely not national healthcare. It’s more ‘stimulus’ for the insurance firms, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors and everyone else who profits from our illnesses. It’s just a system to make sure more of your money goes into their already fat pockets. Stop paying taxes.
As I write this, in a bipartisan vote the US House decided to keep giving the NSA all the money they want to continue their comprehensive spying on Americans. You have no privacy anymore. Every thing you say, write and do can and will be used against you. Under Obamacare, that also includes your medical records. When there is no privacy there is no freedom. Polls show pretty much everybody except for rabid neocons and Obama worshipers is united in their outrage against this. Yet when Edward Snowden tries to tell us what the government is doing against us he is treated like Public Enemy No.1. This surveillance is all approved by secret courts. And guess what? The secret court just ruled the secret courts are perfectly legitimate. No! Secret courts cannot possibly exist in a free society. Where there are secret courts, there is totalitarianism. And although a vast majority of the people, not to mention every principle of freedom, are against this, Congress just said they wouldn’t dream of putting an end to it. Stop paying taxes.
I could go on. Our schools are falling apart, while the host of school administrators who don’t add anything to actually teaching children is burgeoning. In my town we voted for millions in bonds for fixing our roads and yet I’m still driving over more potholes. It’s now criminal in many places to drink raw milk, run a lemonade stand or even donate food to the homeless. And so on, ad infinitum, on every issue. We trusted government at every level to administer public services and they just took our money and ran. In private business when that happens people go to prison. But in politics the same criminal acts are rewarded with perpetual reelection. If we can’t vote them out we must remove their ability to keep acting against our interests. Stop paying taxes.
Taxes are your money. You are responsible for how they are spent. Even in the most corrupt state, it is still the case that governments can only continue with the consent of the people. All over the world, when the people withdraw their consent, when they start filling up public squares in protest or start marching down the street banging on pots and pans, governments fall down. As we just saw in Egypt, when the new government that arises also fails, people will rise up and throw those bums out too. These actions are not some abstraction done by ‘the government.’ In America in particular, we are the government. The murder, the looting, the injustice, the continual assault against every basic human right, all of this is done in our name, with our money. And it can only continue as long as we allow it. Stop paying taxes.
Of course some people will say, I’m afraid. If I stop paying taxes they will come after me with penalties and interest and maybe even throw me in prison. Well folks, I haven’t filed a damn tax form since 1979 and I’m still here. Yes, they manage to seize some money from me every once in awhile, but definitely not with my willing assistance. But let’s not just use me as an anecdote. The IRS freely admitted a few years ago that they believe 36 million people don’t file their taxes, but they could only identify maybe 6 million of them. Then and now, they simply don’t have the resources to go after everyone who stops paying taxes. The government is not omnipotent. It has no magic wand that just enforces their laws. It requires people and resources to carry out its work and its aims. People who can only be paid and resources that can only be acquired with our tax dollars. More importantly, it requires your cooperation. If those of us who are still paying taxes go on strike, they cannot possibly stop us. Stop paying taxes.
Of course some people will say, but what about all the good things we need government to do? Sure maybe you’re right, the government has given us a lousy police force and failing schools, but if we don’t pay our taxes then we won’t have any police or fire department or schools at all. So dear reader let us go back to Detroit. In the middle of that post-apocalyptic urban wasteland, where government has failed in their administration of even the most basic public services, people are coming together at the grassroots across all demographics to create their own systems that truly serve everyone. People have started their own police force that is resolving disputes and restoring order. They’ve built a system of public transportation that could possibly be the most efficient in the nation, at a much lower cost to users than the government’s system. They’ve created community gardens and urban farms and the markets to sell all this fresh local food at affordable prices. All of this is happening even while the residents of Detroit remain dutiful subjects of their city, state and federal governments. All over the country there are examples of people doing it for themselves just like in Detroit. Unfortunately you usually hear about them when government, fearing competition, cracks down on it. We can do better than the government can. Stop paying taxes.
Sean Haugh is assistant editor for Liberty For All. Sean is married to longtime Libertarian Pam Adams, and they have a family of three dogs and four cats. Besides them, Sean loves God, Liberty, and Oklahoma Sooners football. Write to Sean at email@example.com.
by John Stossel
The Internet has revolutionized the marketplace by, among other things, eliminating middlemen.
Internet car-buying services let you shop for prices and options without leaving home. “For sale by owner” websites show you houses for sale.
Uh oh. Can’t have that, can we?
In a truly free market, businesses can’t kill competition, because they can’t use force. Unfortunately, in our “mixed economy,” they can get their friends in politics to use force to stifle competition.
Adam Smith saw it all the way back in 1776. In “The Wealth of Nations,” he wrote, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” He advised that any legislation such a group proposed “ought always to be listened to with great precaution.” Detroit and its dealers wield enough influence in state capitals to make direct sales of cars on the Internet illegal everywhere but Alaska. Every year the automotive industry spends millions of dollars fighting government regulation, but when it can use government for its own ends, it does.
When I confronted David Hyatt, spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers’ Association, about that, he said, “If the manufacturer sells directly over the Internet, it leaves the dealer in an unfair competitive situation.”
“So what?” I asked. “The Internet put lots of middlemen out of business. Consumers like it. I don’t want to buy from the dealership!”
Hyatt answered, “There is a very healthy system in place.”
Healthy for his car dealers, anyway. Less healthy for consumers.
Similarly, now that more home sellers sell their homes themselves, real estate agents are using their political clout to try to protect their 6 percent commissions.
In 2001 and 2002, California’s Department of Real Estate, run by (surprise) a real estate broker, sent warning letters to some “for sale by owner” websites, demanding that they comply with licensing laws for brokers. In 2004, a federal court held this demand unconstitutional.
Limited-service “discount” brokers also threaten brokers’ 6 percent commissions. They offer services at lower rates, like a flat fee of $250 to host a two-hour open house or $499 to review the contract paperwork.
So traditional brokers have won “minimum service” laws in many states that force discount brokers to offer more services — and thereby force consumers to pay higher fees.
When I confronted David Lereah, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, about that, he said,
“Not everyone is providing the adequate amount of services to protect the consumer.”
Excuse me, but if I want a Realtor to protect my interests, I’ll hire one. I didn’t hire them to protect me from concluding I don’t need their services. If I think I’m better off selling my home with less help than they want to sell me, that should be my choice.
Part of being a free person is deciding for yourself what’s in your interests. That doesn’t mean you can’t get expert help, but it does mean you get to decide when, how much, and from whom. If the Realtors think “for sale by owner” and discount brokerages are bad options, they should — as they do — make their case through advertising.
Ironically, the same industry asking government to keep home sales expensive has itself been a victim of government meddling. Real-estate agents share information through what are called “multiple listing services.” It’s one of their best services, and it costs money and effort to maintain. But the federal government is trying to force the brokers to let their competitors take advantage of their invention.
Why not let real-estate services compete on the open market? Traditional brokers provide a lot of knowledge and effort, and their multiple listing services reflect big investments; if you want the benefit of their energy and expertise, it’s only fair that you should pay for it. But if you think you’re better off with a cheaper alternative, that should be your choice, too. The government should stick to enforcing the contracts you willingly decide to make.
Originally published at Townhall.com October 15, 2005.
John Stossel – arguably the highest-profile libertarian journalist in the world – joined Fox News Channel (FNC) and Fox Business Network (FBN), effective October 2009, to begin a weekly show that may well be the most consistent, intelligent, ongoing presentation of libertarian views in television history.