Historic Views on Government – Bovard

Honest opinion about government from James Bovard:

The Internal Revenue Service is the authoritarian means to paternalist ends. A government that is anxious to give alms to as many people as possible is even more anxious to commandeer their earnings. Increasingly, the average American's guilt or innocence is left to the eye of the tax auditor, not to the citizen's actual behavior. Federal tax policy is now largely oppression in the name of revenue maximization.
   The U.S. Treasury Department defines a tax as "a compulsory payment for which no specific benefit is received in return." No matter how many taxes a person pays, or what politicians promise, the taxpayer is not irrevocably entitled to a single benefit from the government. The level of taxation is thus a stark measure of government's financial power over the individual–a precise gauge of the subjugation of the citizen to the financial demands of the state.
   Lost Rights, 1994

A journalist and policy analyst, James Bovard has written for many magazines, including Newsweek, New Republic, and Reader's Digest. Among his writings are The Fair Trade Fraud (1991) and Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (1994).

Quotation and short bio from The Quotable Conservative: The Giants of Conservatism on Liberty, Freedom, Individual Responsibility, and Traditional Values. Rod L. Evans and Irwin M. Berent, editors. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Publishing, 1996.

Historic Views on Government – Watt

Honest opinion about government from James G. Watt:

As laws mandating higher minimum wages have been passed, black youth unemployment has risen from 25.3 percent in 1966 to 47.3 percent in the 1980s….
   Conservatives are so sure that a reduced minimum wage would give jobs to millions of untrained, nonunion black workers that they have even tried to get a summer experimental program through the Congress. This would give the country one summer to see if the conservative theorists are right. And with black youth unemployment so staggeringly high, it would certainly be worth the try.
   Not so, says the liberal Establishment. Out of one corner of its mouth, it tells blacks that they don't have to settle for lower wages. Meanwhile, almost half of black youth get no wages at all. Out of the other corner of its mouth, it tells white union workers not to worry. Their jobs are protected. Frustrated conservatives point out that this is the very rationalization used in South Africa to keep blacks out of the white work force, but the irony is conveniently ignored. Carlton Pearson points out this cruel discriminatory cycle: "You can't get work without a union card, and you can't get a union card if you have no work experience."

Another possible answer to the problems of black economic inequality is enterprise zones. By lowering the tax rates and, in some cases, eliminating them altogether, inner-city ghettos could be transformed. Restaurants, shops, businesses, and factories would pour in, and with them, thousands of jobs.
   At first, liberals were dubious and warned that the value of land would increase. Renters would be forced out. One of their studies worried that life in the inner cities would be "disrupted."
   Conservatives did their homework, however, on this issue. Our think tanks show convincingly that jobs would multiply at a much faster rate than prices. A few city governments have made the concept work, reviving their inner cities…. Conservatives are offended at the sanctimonious way that liberals refer to "disruption of life" in the ghettos, as if crime-ridden and firetrap tenement houses were historic landmarks in need of preservation in their present state.

There was a tragic reason why the black divorce rate had reached twice that of whites, and why 55 percent of the nation's illegitimate births were to black mothers. Quite simply, it was the fault of the well-intended but often distorted federal program called Aid to Families with Dependent Children. This program literally induced fathers of poor families to leave home. If the head of a household with children would simply disappear, the federal government would provide his wife with monthly checks, based on the number of those dependent children. In other instances, the program had the effect of encouraging young girls to get pregnant out of wedlock so that they could secure public housing and AFDC payments.
   Within one generation, the black family unit, which had survived slavery and ugly racial discrimination, was nearly decimated. Many black fathers, who wanted to be strong role models for their children and wanted to spend their lives with the women they loved, were at a loss. The government had shut them out of most small business enterprises with excessive regulations and licensing procedures that favored already established businesses. White labor unions, with powerful Washington lobbies and hypocritical protection by liberal politicians, shut them out. With the rising minimum wage, even menial jobs began disappearing. For many, welfare was the only real alternative, and it was a trap. Regulations required that savings must be spent. It was difficult, if not impossible, to gather the capital to launch any kind of enterprise to break free of government dependency.
   The Courage of a Conservative, 1985

After having earned business and law degrees from the University of Wyoming, James Watt served in various governmental and political positions during several presidential administrations. He served three years as Secretary of the Interior in the Reagan administration. Watt is the author (with Doug Wead) of The Courage of a Conservative (1985).

Quotation and short bio from The Quotable Conservative: The Giants of Conservatism on Liberty, Freedom, Individual Responsibility, and Traditional Values. Rod L. Evans and Irwin M. Berent, editors. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Publishing, 1996.