IN WITH THE GOOD - OUT WITH THE BAD
By: William A. Shields
In Joseph Wambaughs Lines And Shadows, a book about law enforcement
incidents near the Mexican border area south of San Diego, the author made an important
and sometimes overlooked observation. That is that the line we call our southern border
separates two economies even more than it separates two countries.
People cross lines every
day for a lot of different reasons, some honorable and some not. Some are taking advantage
of favorable economic conditions and some are seeking the benefits of a more tolerant
jurisdiction for whatever activities they feature. Post World War II Cuba had a thriving
tourism industry because it offered a venue for Americans to do things that were illegal
in the states. Then in 1959, a party pooper named Castro pulled the plug on capitalism and
hedonism and now Havana nights just arent as fun as they used to be.
IN WITH THE GOOD OUT WITH THE BAD
Until 1972 my home state of Delaware
maintained a whipping post.
Red Hannah was last used publicly in 1952, but was locally viewed as an
effective crime deterrent as long as it was a legal punishment. I clearly remember my
father remarking that Delaware criminals would cross the state line into Pennsylvania to
rob gas stations simply to avoid a possible whipping, should they get caught.
So were exporting crime. I said. Thats a bad thing? he
As Cuba once made itself attractive to
gamblers and tourists, Delaware has enticed its neighbors in surrounding states to leave
home and purchase merchandise in The First State. Since there is no sales tax in Delaware,
the retail industry thrives. The shopping mall parking lots are full of cars with
Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey license plates. Whats better than your
neighbors coming into your state, leaving their money and going directly home, taking
consumables and merchandise with them and leaving jobs in their wake?
ENTER THE LAWMAKERS
Im sure by now the reader has caught on to the
formula. Economic freedom and deregulation attracts consumers and businesses and the
result is prosperity. Punishing truly bad behavior tends to convince those who would
burden us in that fashion to ply their trade in another jurisdiction. But Delaware
lawmakers are not quick studies. In a veritable declaration of war on private property
rights, Delaware legislators and Governor Minner have made it illegal to smoke indoors in
any bar or restaurant in the First State. And now that giant sucking sound heard around
Delaware is the sound of dollars being vacuumed out of state and being spent on the other
side of the line where smoking freedom prevails, and private property is respected. Ocean
City Maryland will now benefit at the expense of Rehoboth, Delaware. The sleepy towns of
Pennsville and Salem, New Jersey, just across the bridge from Wilmington, suddenly look
like a good place to open a small tavern or a restaurant. Once the bar and restaurant
patrons leave, the businesses wont be far behind.
CAUTION: PORCUPINES CROSSING
Delawares size and location, along with some other
favorable numerical characteristics, is drawing the attention of one particular group of
political activists who may soon cross into Delaware en masse. They call themselves
porcupines (hands off) and they are the members of Free State Project. When they get here (if
Delaware is chosen as the target state) they plan to make over Delaware in a small
government, libertarian fashion. 20,000 (initially) libertarians suddenly making
themselves heard politically within Delawares small voting population will surely
look like a political bayonet charge to the establishments big government parties.
Perhaps these porcupines can show Delaware how to use its
strategically suited size and location to attract the good and export the bad. Maybe we
need a porcupine to show us what lines, borders and jurisdictions are for, and how to use
them to advantage.
William A. Shields is a USA
Daily columnist. He has also been a contributor to the American Reformation Project.
Willie is a "once and always" U.S. Marine with 19 years experience as an air
traffic controller. The former chairman of the Delaware Reform Party, and a past president
of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, EWR Local, he has held positions in
the rail, aviation and marine transportation industries. A freelance writer, Mr. Shields
owns and operates a small business in Wilmington, Delaware. He is a regular columnist for
William A, Shields
can be reached at:
Published in the January 2, 2003 issue of Ether Zone.
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