A high school freshman upset by the war in Iraq has been questioned by federal authorities after venting her frustration with President Bush last spring on her MySpace.com Web page.
Julia Wilson posted a picture of the president, scrawled "Kill Bush" across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. She later replaced her page after learning in history class that such threats are a federal offense.
It was too late. ...The 14-year-old freshman was taken out of class Wednesday and questioned for about 15 minutes by two Secret Service agents.
A similar incident involved a Mars Hill student earlier this year. From what I can tell, the majority opinion about the girl is, Well, perhaps it's a little overboard, but she should have known better, and we hope she learned her lesson.
How about this: Parents: Don't let your 14-year-old have her own MySpace account!
On NC Spin this morning Chris
Fitzsimon argued that students at state universities are not subsidized by
the taxpayers because they pay less than the cost of their education.
He argued that since the state (he used the euphemism “we” for the
state) owns the universities, it is impossible for the state
to subsidize them. The argument is that one cannot subsidize oneself.
Of course he is correct, the state government can no more subsidize the
state universities than it can subsidize the department of motor
vehicles. But notice how Fitzsimon twists the argument. No one claims
that the universities are being subsidized. It is the students who are
being subsidized. It is quite possible for the state to subsidize
students, who, in America, own themselves. Although I guess that Chris
could be holding to standard socialist dogma, in which case there is no
private property and the state owns all of us. In that case his
argument would be correct.
I break no new ground by asserting that politicians tend to listen more intently to the concerns of special interests than those of average taxpayers.
That doesn't mean politicians are evil or unprincipled. As Stephen Slivinski explains in his book Buck Wild (Nelson Current, 2006), the taxpayers' "complaints are rarely loud enough to break through the cocoon of noise created by the swarms of special interest groups defending their pet programs."
Slivinski explains why the beneficiary of government largesse has a stronger incentive than the taxpayer has to lobby politicians.
Think about, for example, the National Endowment for the Arts. The grants budget of this program is $47.4 million. That's about 0.01% of income taxes. Now imagine the calculation from the point of view of an average NEA grant recipient. The NEA awarded 1,970 grants in 2004, and the average grant that year was $24,000. A single artist, museum, or theater might have gotten more or less than this, but in any case you can see how much more a grant recipient has at stake than you do as a taxpayer.
So, while the elimination of the NEA would likely only get you back much less than a penny of every dollar you paid in income taxes, the average grant recipient would lose the entire $24,000. The grant recipient has a substantially larger incentive to get the attention of Congress -- by hiring a lobbyist, testifying in front of a committee, and otherwise trying to infuence the decisions of policymakers -- than you do as a lone taxpayer.
Repeat this process for hundreds of agencies and programs, and you'll understand the daunting task that faces advocates of limited government.