Western states want all that federal land

Western states are organizing in an effort to take over all of that federal land within their borders, which often constitutes most of their territory.  (See the map after the jump.)  I can see why the states would have a better claim than the federal government.  But why not just privatize it?  (If anyone knows the ins and outs of this issue, I’d like to hear about it.) [Read more…]

Secession movements

What with the European Union, globalization, the United Nations, and being a “citizen of the world,” the trend was supposed to be for the elimination of narrow nationalisms in favor of cosmopolitanism and ever-larger unions.  But now nationalism is back, and little countries are trying to break away from big countries.  After the jump, links to those efforts, including the upcoming vote in Scotland to secede from Great Britain.  How do you account for this phenomenon? [Read more…]

From transparency laws to enemy lists

Contemporary politics requires raising lots of money.  But that is also a formula for corruption, with elected officials potentially giving pay-back to those who gave them money for their campaigns.  How can that be avoided?

One solution, found to be constitutionally dubious,  was to strictly limit the amount of money individuals can give to a political campaign.  Another, advocated by many conservatives, is to let people give what they want as long as “transparency” is maintained by making public the names of the donors.  That way if lawmakers pass bills that enrich certain donors, the bribery would be obvious.  So “transparency” has become part of most campaign finance laws.

But this has had an unintended consequence.  Donor lists are being used as enemy lists, allowing the government and private groups to go after people who have given money to certain individuals or causes, harassing and punishing donors for their politics and their beliefs. [Read more…]

“Fixing” the Second Amendment

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, having spent much of his career trying to interpret the Constitution away, now wants to change it.  He has written a book entitled Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.  He has published an op-ed piece on how he thinks the Second Amendment can be “fixed” by adding five simple words.  See them, along with some thoughts, after the jump. [Read more…]

IRS may go after underwater homeowners

Homeowners who were underwater on their homes but who took advantage of mortgage relief programs face the prospect of the IRS calculating the amount by which a portion of their loan was forgiven as income. [Read more…]

IRS was going after the children to collect parents’ debts–but stopped!

A sentence was stuck into the Farm Bill removing the 10 year statute of limitations on debts owed to the United States government.  So now the IRS is withholding tax refunds from the children of deceased parents who owed Uncle Sam money.

UPDATE:  The IRS has announced that it is stopping the practice.

[Read more…]