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Lawrence Reed
1953 -

President of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan, U.S.A.


The first casualty when the ethical core of society evaporates is freedom. Law (government) fills the void -- directing by threat of force those aspects of life that formerly were governed by our ethical standards.

Nov. 7, 2000 - from "As Values Collapse, Government Grows", published by the Mackinac Center
Laws that aim to redistribute wealth prompt the smart or politically well-connected "haves" to seek refuge in tax shelters and other economic havens here or abroad, while the politically powerless "have-nots" bear the full brunt of economic decline.

Nov. 7, 2000 - from "The Quackery of Equality", published by the Mackinac Center
Examples of injurious laws motivated by egalitarian sentiments are legion. A classic case was the 1990 hike in [U.S.] federal excise taxes on boats, aircraft, and jewelry. Its sponsors in Congress presumed that only rich people buy boats, aircraft, and jewelry. Taxing those objects would teach the rich a lesson, help narrow the gap between the proverbial "haves" and "have-nots," and raise a projected $31 million in new revenues for the treasury in 1991. However, a subsequent study from the Joint Economic Committee of Congress showed that the rich did not line up by the flock to be sheared. Total revenue from the new taxes in 1991 was less than $17 million. Especially hard-hit were workers in the boating industry, where 7,600 jobs were wiped out. In the aircraft industry, 1,470 people were pink-slipped. In jewelry manufacturing, 330 joined the jobless ranks. Outlays for unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs came to $24 million. To advance the cause of economic equality by punishing some, Congress succeeded in nothing more than making America a little bit poorer.

Nov. 7, 2000 - from "The Quackery of Equality", published by the Mackinac Center