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by John Martin
June 27, 2003

P eople have sometimes asked, "What government services would you be willing to give up?"

Probably none--at least in the warped mind of so-called "conservative" Republican Governor Bob Riley. He has other ideas. He has drawn up a hodgepodge of tax and spending increases that only Karl Marx could take to heart. Most of the power-hungry, self-serving, brain-dead legislature loved it and railroaded it through with bi-partisan enthusiasm. The only good thing about it is that the people will get to vote it down on September 9. Nevertheless, we will have to be vigilent to make sure the special interests don't out-vote us.

Why is it--when the economy is down and the private sector is losing jobs and cutting salaries to stay afloat, government keeps driving more stakes into its heart? This is very similar to what happened in most states (including Alabama) at the beginning of the Great Depression in the early 1930's. Corrupt politicians imposed the first state income and sales taxes. Taxes of all descriptions soared to record levels. Families lost their homes for unpayable property taxes. It took many years for the economy to recover.

In his first few months as governor, Riley has proven to be the biggest wolf in sheep's clothing Alabama has had since those dark days. He claims that a budget shortfall necessitates a record increase in taxes.

Various people have offered suggestions to avoid new taxes. Many suggested trimming this or that needless program, but only by a very small percentage. Few, if any, proposed any serious reductions in government.

Alabama Tax Watch founder Matthew Givens claimed that "cutting essential services won't receive support from either an electorate... or a legislature who will take the blame for the cuts." As a substitute, Matt suggested that outsourcing can save about 25% while maintaining current programs.

On the surface, it seems like a great idea. Who would not want to save 25%? It would certainly more than make up the state's so-called shortfall. If that savings translated into lower taxes and less government, I would support it 100%. But we all know that politicians will have none of that. They'd find somewhere to spend it and just make government bigger and badder.

Matt offered an idea to make government more efficient. But a more efficient government isn't what we need. We need a government that is less intrusive and less expensive. We need a SMALLER government--a MUCH smaller government.

If you're a die-hard communist, a bigger and more efficient government might be appealing, but for any person who desires independence, there are endless "essential" services that can not only be severely cut, but outright eliminated and provided instead by the private sector.

What are these? Let's start with the big one--government-run "education." I would like nothing better than to have that whole ball of wax dissolved in hot acetone ASAP--and along with it every cotton-picking tax and expenditure that it consumes. That might sound draconian, but it is not nearly as dangerous as maintaining the horrible institution of government-run indoctrination they call "education."

I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the statists and the AEA: "Our children won't get an education." Well, they're not getting one now. What else is new?

Bob Riley has something new--five extra days of indoctrination every year--on top of the 5 days jacked up a few years ago. He's proposing to start up a new pre-kindergarten program (about 20 years ago, we didn't even have government kindergartens). And on top of that, he's proposing a "free" college scholarship for every student that makes a "B" average. That's Bob Riley's idea of making education more "accountable" and balancing the state's budget: more taxes, more spending, and somewhere down the road, bigger deficits. Could Ted Kennedy be any more leftist?

I have a friend with three children who go to the Chapman Christian Academy in Elmore County. It is a typical example of a private school. It costs $1200 per child per year for education that is superior to the Elmore County public schools that cost about $5500. The lower-quality Montgomery County schools cost about $6000. But Chapman can do a better job for $1200 and still make a profit.

If we eliminate government-run "education," we can repeal over two-thirds of Alabama's state and local taxes. That is more than enough to give every child a superior education four times over. Total privatization and a free market--including repealing compulsory attendance laws--is the ultimate solution and outsource for education. It will solve virtually every problem from discipline to prayer in schools. Instead of a "puny" 25% savings, we will all get well over 75%. And Paul Hubbert and his minions can get real jobs in the private sector and see what it's like to really earn their livings.

Education is not the only thing that needs excising, or at least downsizing. Every single state and local department could stand AT LEAST a 25% whack on the chopping block. That includes everything from surplus traffic signals to officials and employees. And every employee who gets to keep his job gets at least a 25% pay cut, and at least 50% for a judge or politician. If he doesn't like it, he can hunt for a real job that's not subsidized by stolen money (taxes).

At least 50% of the Public Safety department should retire. Speed traps, checkpoints, roadblocks, vehicle searches, "Click It or Ticket," and excessive traffic stops in general are criminal abominations. State troopers should be limited to assisting motorists, investigating accidents, and enforcing only legitimate laws against crimes that have victims.

We could also dispense with at least 50% of the departments of Finance, Health, Conservation, Human Resources, Marine Police, Insurance, Public Service, Rehabilitation, Revenue, Veterans Affairs, and Youth Services.

Other departments need to be eliminated. Besides "Education," we would be much better off without the ABC Board, Agriculture and Industries, Economic and Community Affairs, Medicaid, Mental Health, Nursing, Retirement Systems of Alabama (David Bronner's empire), ADEM (the state's version of the EPA), the Alabama Development Office (uses stolen money to bribe "industry"), matching federal funds for worthless programs (we get a double whammy here), incarcerating prisoners for victimless "crimes" (the obvious solution to prison overcrowding), all laws, enforcement, and other impositions against the natural rights of people, AND Bob Riley's stupid idea of a state department of "Homeland Security."

In other words, every government department, agency, and program that does anything other than protect our individual rights against the actions of other people needs to be ELIMINATED, and the remainder need serious reductions. If this is done honestly, then less than 10% of the government we now have should be left standing, which is adequate for maintaining roads and a justice system. Everything else can be done much better and more effectively by private enterprise. Over 90% of the taxes we now pay can be eliminated. If this is ever done, Alabama would be the beacon of prosperity for the whole world to follow.

To rectify our malignant, overbearing, and obese government, we must put it on a crash diet and drastically REDUCE state and local revenues, not increase them.

Yes, it sounds like a pipe dream. But we can benefit from even one or two of these suggestions. On the other hand, if Riley's tax plan slips by the voters, it is time to put a "for sale" sign in front of your house and flee to another state.

What government programs would you give up? Do you want more freedom and independence? Or would you prefer to pay more taxes to "invest" in more chains to bind and enslave you?


John Martin writes from Elmore County.
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