On the Other Hand...

A Clutch of Oxymorons

by Jim Davies

No doubt like the other Parties, every week the Libertarians put out two or three Press Releases for the benefit of the media, on topics of current interest. For the most part they get carefully ignored, not because they are not well-written or pertinent (they are both) but because publishing a serious challenge to the status quo might lose those Establishment media a favor or two when it comes to getting the best interviews or White House passes.

However the Establishment media are rapidly losing pre-eminence, and one way to hasten that desirable outcome is for you and I to jump on the Internet (their REAL competition) and see for ourselves. These particular press releases can be obtained for the asking: visit them at http://www.lp.org/ to find out how.

A recent issue uncovered the latest oxymoron from our nation's capital. An oxymoron, you'll recall, is a phrase that contradicts itself internally, like "round square". The Release reported that in a recent radio message, President Clinton had called for young volunteers to do community work.

Fine, who could criticize that? - well, I could, for one; for Slick Willie got confused about the meaning of the word "volunteer". The particular scheme he was touting would have made "volunteering" for community service a condition for high school graduation. The Release said, "Clinton suggested that such mandated volunteering would teach young Americans 'the joy and duty of volunteering'." The author called that nonsense by its name: "What this forced labor will teach young people is that a desire to help their neighbors has been corrupted into another government program."

It's a terrible thing, when a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford, no less, should get so badly mixed up about the meaning of words. Apparently Clinton's confusion goes back at least as far as 1993; his AmeriCorps program actually pays young people to "volunteer". Some 50,000 of them are "serving their communities" for a salary of $7,400 a year, plus $9,450 in college expenses, plus medical benefits and free child care; an estimated total of $30,000 socked to us taxpayers, all in the name of "volunteering". Real volunteers, of course, cost us nothing.

If he gets his way now and "voluntary" community service is made a condition of high school graduation, I surely hope that will form the straw to break the camel's back, for many of them; that parents and students alike will decide "enough" and just walk out of school. Home schooling has done a better job at true education anyway for many years past; now with more and more fascinating knowledge coming on line via the Internet every day, the need for any kind of classroom schooling is rapidly diminishing. When its price includes jumping through yet another government hoop like this slave labor, it's time to go.

Voluntary Compliance

I've noted here before that there are no actual laws compelling the filing of IRS 1040 forms or the paying of its "income tax" (whatever that is), and that is another example of the Washington Oxymoron: the Pols solemnly urge us all to engage in "voluntary compliance", to obey these non-existent laws. I suppose I open myself to the response that since the laws don't exist, doing those things is necessarily voluntary, and so there's no oxymoron; but I'll risk it.

There really aren't any such laws, or the IRS would rush to cite them, whenever anyone asks; but they never do that. What their spokesmen do instead is to say that "the courts have many times enforced" the payment of their taxes, which is true; though occasionally the courts have declined to enforce them, as in the 1993 case of US v. Long. In so saying, they acknowledge that tax law, which is supposed to be written by Congress, is actually written by the Courts, in utter violation of the "separation of powers" principle required by our Supreme Law.

On the rare occasions that IRS people are forced to tell why they refer to such grammatical nonsense as "voluntary compliance", they liken the payment of their taxes to stopping at a red light. We obey the light, and the law that says we should, "voluntarily", even when no cop is watching. In the same way, they say, should we volunteer to file our tax returns without their "help."

Hog wash; there really is a law to make us stop at red lights, and if we break it and go to court that law will be read out; quoted, verbatim, chapter and verse, in the charge to which we must answer. But in cases of failure to file income tax returns, no such law is cited. There isn't one to cite.

SS Trust Fund

The Press Release I quoted above reminded me of some other Washington Oxymorons: "Social Security Trust Fund" was one of them. The fiction since the SS was started sixty some years ago is that a huge "fund" exists, to be invested by Uncle in productive American industry, the yield or interest from which would pay the benefits to SS recipients. If that had been done, Social Security would at least be "secure", for it would be operating just like an real insurance program, except for the absence of competing alternatives.

But there isn't, and never has been; all those benefits are paid out of current tax revenues, and that is why the system lurches from crisis to crisis and why it will inevitably collapse, for taxpayers also have votes. The quoted phrase is a Washington Oxymoron, and the sooner we recognize it the sooner we shall be able to jump ship and arrange ourselves a viable alternative. But time is now very short. E-mail me on jimdav@kear.tds.net for ideas about alternatives.

The last oxymoron mentioned in the Release was "honest politician". Nice one! That phrase indeed contradicts itself, at several levels; of which I prefer the most basic. A "politician" exists to favor one group of voters at the expense of another; who benefits his friends by forcing others to act against their wills. In contrast someone who is "honest" will first and foremost acknowledge that being "human" includes the exclusive right to own and operate one's own life. These two are unalterably opposed; so "honest politician" is the worst oxymoron of all. It can never, ever be true, any more than circles are square.

© Copyright Jim Davies 1999

Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.

The above is Edition # 203

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