Viewpoint: Rights, ripoffs and rhetoric

As if our freedoms and rights were not eroded enough already, some states are moving to cut them back even further. The latest is the state of Illinois.

Gov. George Ryan, on July 16, signed into law a bill that allows police to take your car if they catch you driving on a suspended license or if you are charged with drug or alcohol offenses.

What’s more, they can seize your car on the first offense or take your plates after three offenses. That’s on top of the federal USA Patriot Act that permits federal authorities to take everything you have if they decide to brand you a terrorist.

Minnesota has a similar law. There the forfeiture of your vehicle is related to driving under the influence or other alcohol-related offenses and license revocations. According to their law, a car used in a DWI may be taken and kept by police

under the following circumstances: 1. The offense is the third in 10 years, and the driver refuses a breath test;

2. The offense is the second charge in 10 years of DWI with an underage child present in the car or driving with a blood alcohol level of .20 or more;

3. The driver is charged with any form of DWI or his license is revoked;

4. The driver is charged with any form of DWI while his license is restricted for consumption of alcohol or a controlled substance.

In the Illinois law, the accused driver may sign the vehicle over to his or her spouse if it is the sole means of transport for the family. If there is a second offense, however, the car may be seized.

Under the Minnesota law, the vehicle is subject to seizure only if the owner knew of its unlawful use or should have known of it. Here there is no such provision.

From here it looks as though we are steadily marching toward a police state at all levels. I’m all for tough penalties for drunk drivers, but taking the car on the first offense? There are drunks out there driving after the third and fourth offense.

Governments can now take your real estate, your bank account and your car. What’s left? Who said this is the land of the free?

Corporate welfare

While we’re all gagging on the revelations about Enron, WorldCom, Harken, Halliburton and many more, along comes Congressman Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican (what else?), with a package of goodies for the corporations.

LaHood didn’t actually submit legislation. What he did was to vote against a Democrat-proposed amendment to bar issuing government contracts to companies that have reincorporated abroad to avoid paying U.S. taxes. They do this even though we’re supposedly at war.

Some experts estimate that corporations abusing this loophole get government contracts worth up to $2 billion per year.

Fortunately, the amendment passed despite LaHood’s vote. It will be up to the entire U.S. House to vote it up. His vote could decide whether the amendment becomes law.

This was the Democrats’ first step in a campaign to get the Bush administration to face up to corporate misbehavior, raids on employee pensions and stockholder deception.

Admittedly, political motivation is no stranger here, but the move is aimed in the right direction. Republican leadership of the appropriations committee predictably went along with the Bush administration, voting against the amendment and arguing that corporate taxes should be lowered.

Have you heard any of our alleged representatives arguing for lower taxes for you and me?

The New York Times, in a June 9th edition, quoted U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill as saying the Bush administration “would not support an overly broad effort to impose sanctions on tax havens.”

The Times said seven former IRS commissioners had urged O’Neill to halt his opposition to a proposed clampdown on Caribbean countries and others that are seen as tax havens.

Citizens for Tax Justice reports the arguments for lower corporate taxes come while data from the Congressional Budget Office shows corporate taxes this year are at their lowest rate since 1983.

This is the kind of greedy self-interest that is barely masked by the phony “outrage” voiced by President Bush and prompting the pretended crackdown on corporate evildoers. But there will not likely be any action to shut down the flight to the Cayman Islands and other tropical refuges for Bush’s ex-CEO buddies.

Neither will we see the recovery of any of the millions of dollars these bandits have stolen from the rest of us. Ali Babble will continue to protect the 40 thieves and take your car, too.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!