Grassroot Perspective – July 31, 2003-Lack of Tax Increases This Year Makes Next Year Tougher; Opinion of the Week – Ronald Bailey on Free Market Health Care; Junk Lawsuits Against Constitutional Rights

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Lack of Tax Increases This Year Makes Next Year Tougher

The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that “Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida’s
Republican legislative leaders can once again brag that they have
protected Floridians from a tax increase” by passing the state’s $52
billion budget. Since 1996, the Legislature has not voted to raise
taxes. House Speaker Johnnie Byrd told the paper that he’s optimistic
the economy will rebound because state government has kept its spending
to a minimum, and that a tax increase will not be necessary during his
second and final year at the helm of the House.

In JMI Commentary #1, “A Growing Economy or a Growing Government? Notes
and Ruminations on the Budget Debate,” JMI Executive Vice President Curt
Leonard argues that House and Governor should stay the course and make a
better effort of articulating why the state is doing just fine. “It is
silly to describe Florida’s current tax structure as ‘old’ or
‘antiquated.’ That makes for a good quote but it doesn’t hold up under
scrutiny. Increasing taxes does not make a state cutting edge, modern,
or a shining star in the 21st century. Increasing taxes makes a state
poor,” he says.

JMI Commentary #1, “A Growing Economy or a Growing Government? Notes
and Ruminations on the Budget Debate,” can be found in the Point of
View/News section at

– Opinion of the Week – Ronald Bailey on Free Market Health Care: “It’s
Time for a Truly Radical Proposal”

“Democratic presidential hopefuls have identified health care as the
issue for the 2004 election. They are all offering various proposals to
increase federal government involvement in the messed-up medical system.
Meanwhile, Republicans are busy playing the War on Terrorism card and
hoping the issue will go away. No one is offering a true solution to the
health care ‘crisis.’

“Perhaps the time has come in which some brave policy makers can step
forward and advocate true free market health care. Already, patients and
physicians are seceding from today’s barely disguised system for
rationing health care, and moving to free market models.

“Consider the case of SimpleCare, which is spreading across the United
States. In SimpleCare, patients agree to pay physicians in full on the
spot. Another promising phenomenon is the rise of ’boutique medicine’
in which patients agree to pay primary-care physicians an annual fee, in
return for the physicians’ agreeing to limit their number of patients
and make themselves available on a 24/7 basis.

“SimpleCare and boutique medical practices are pointing the way toward a
future of free market medicine and the end of the health care ‘crisis.’
But do we have politicians and policy makers courageous enough to
advocate such a future?”

Above articles are quoted from The James Madison Institute, Madison
Policy Digest June 2, 2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Junk Lawsuits Against Constitutional Rights

By Dave Kopel

The mother of all gun control battles is expected in the U.S. Senate
this summer, over congressional legislation to ban junk lawsuits against
law-abiding firearms manufacturers and sellers. Most states, Colorado
included, already have such laws. The U.S. House has already passed such
a ban, with the support of all five Colorado Republicans, and against
the vote of the two Democrats. In the Senate, over half of all the
Senators are already co-sponsors, including Colorado Senators Ben
Campbell and Wayne Allard. Whether 60 Senators will vote to stop a
filibuster of the reform bill is unclear. While the reform bill’s
prospects are unclear, the need for reform is plain.

The junk lawsuits are a direct assault on First Amendment rights. Among
the victims of the suits are the firearms industry trade associations,
such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation. None of these
organizations sells or makes guns. Instead, the organizations’
activities consist almost exclusively of exercising First Amendment
rights to conduct public education campaigns, get-out-the-vote drives,
and other free speech.

Suing someone in revenge for their lawful exercise of First Amendment
rights is known as a SLAPP — a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public
Participation. Many legislatures have enacted laws against such
litigation abuse, and congressional action against one particular form
of SLAPP is a good first step towards a nationwide ban on all SLAPPs.

At an American Bar Association symposium in 1999, one of the plaintiffs’
attorneys for the antigun lawsuits explained that the attorneys had read
the Dun & Bradstreet reports on the firearms companies, estimated how
much the companies could spend defending themselves against litigation,
and then filed so many cases in so many jurisdictions that the gun
companies would not be able to spend the money to see the cases through
to a verdict.

Even if all the gun companies in America were put together, they would
not constitute a single Fortune 500 company, so the gun companies are
much more vulnerable to abusive litigation than deep-pocketed giants
such as McDonald’s or the New York Times.

Firearms are the most heavily regulated consumer product in America.
They are the only consumer product for which a retailer must obtain FBI
permission in advance for every single sale. Retailers must also keep
records on every gun sold to every customer. The federal gun laws alone
comprise 75,000 words — the size of a book. State gun laws are larger

The congressional tort reform would in no way restrict lawsuits against
anyone who violates any gun law. For example, straw sales have been
illegal ever since the Gun Control Act of 1968. In a straw sale, a
prohibited person (e.g., a convicted felon) uses a straw purchaser to
buy the gun for him. Any firearms dealer who knowingly participates in a
straw sale commits a major federal felony. Someone injured as a result
of the dealer’s crime should have every right to sue the dealer, and the
bill would preserve that right.

Likewise, a company that makes a gun that is actually defective would
still be liable. But it should not be possible to try to bankrupt gun
companies with suits claiming that making guns or operating a gun store,
in strict conformity with all laws, constitutes a “public nuisance.” Nor
should it be possible to sue companies for not including gun accessories
which haven’t even been invented.

The lawsuits even target firearms companies for making guns that are
especially well-suited for personal protection, such as compact, light
handguns good for carrying for self-defense, as is legal in Colorado and
most other states.

The main reason our Constitution grants Congress the power to “to
regulate commerce… among the several States” is so Congress could stop
local actions that interfered with lawful commerce. Congress also has
the power (and the duty) under Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment
to act against local actions that infringe on the Second Amendment and
the right-to-bear-arms guarantees in the Colorado Constitution – as well
as almost every other state constitution.

There is no right to file abusive lawsuits that chill the exercise of
constitutional rights. That is why the Supreme Court, in the 1964 case
New York Times v. Sullivan, restricted libel suits that infringed on
First Amendment rights. Colorado, like most other states, has enacted
legislation affirming that gun laws should be made by the legislature,
not by trial attorneys trying to end-run the democratic process.

The Senate bill would in no way limit the expansion of gun-control laws;
it would simply ensure that new restrictions are created through open
debate in our legislatures.

Above article is quoted from The Independence Institute Newsletter July
03, 2003

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of
his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or
whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to
violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to
every one the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by
it.” — Thomas Jefferson

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, 1314 S. King Street, Suite 1163, Honolulu, HI 96814. Phone/fax is 808-591-9193, cell phone is 808-864-1776. Send him an email at:”’ ”’See the Web site at:”’