(March 17, 1997)

April is the cruelest month...
T.S. Eliot, The "Waste Land"

Among the numerous reasons given for Bill Clinton's intrusion into the American Airlines pilots' strike was that a prolonged work stoppage by the pilots would cause severe economic disruptions.

Imagine that: Bill Clinton doing something to help the economy flow smoothly! It was not as if he had any Constitutional authority to intervene in the manner that he did, or that there is a "keep things humming along" clause in the Preamble to the Constitution. He just intervened, and no one thought anything of it.

Actually, there is something the president can do to make American life really flow more smoothly for all of us. He can hasten the arrival of that day when millions of Americans are freed from the oppressive burden of the income tax. It is within his constitutional authority. I'll explain more in just a bit here. First, however, let me explain just a few things about the income tax.

What, then, can the president do, within his constitutional power, to eliminate the income tax? He cannot singlehandedly pass laws or ratify amendments. He can, however, under Article II, Section 2, "grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States." He can, for example, pardon all non-violent tax offenders currently in federal prison.

Such was a cornerstone of the campaign Harry Browne, the 1996 Libertarian Party candidate for president. Browne explained that after just a few days of pardoning all inmates currently doing time for non-violent federal tax offenses, tax prosecutors would realize the futility of their efforts, and the Internal Revenue Code would cease to have any teeth. Browne believes that we can pay for the military and federal court system that we need with the revenue currently collected from tariffs and excise taxes.

Browne would have replaced the income tax with nothing. That's right. No flat tax. No consumption tax. Nothing.

One of candidate Clinton's 1992 campaign slogans was "Putting People First" For years, various oppressed groups have asserted their inherent humanity by reminding us that they are "people too" Perhaps representatives of America's largest oppressed group, tax victims, should stage a march on Washington to remind Bill Clinton that, "Taxpayers are people too!""

In the meantime, those of us who took the positive step of voting for Harry Browne last November should keep his constitutional lesson in mind, and be comforted that our votes for him were not in vain.

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