Category Archives: Op-Eds

“National Debt” is a Scam. Repudiate It.


The world’s political elites sound a lot like Chicken Little lately as Greece’s regime heads into what looks like full-scale default and Puerto Rico’s governor publicly mulls bankruptcy proceedings.

Lots of other governments continuously teeter on the edge of that same abyss, not least that of the United States. Given current tax and spending trends, by 2020 the US government’s accrued debt will exceed $23 trillion (more than the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product) and half of all tax revenues will go toward interest on that debt.

Apropos of which, let me quote Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everything the state says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.”

The whole idea of “national debt” is poppycock and propaganda.

Suppose I’m perpetually short on cash, and so every week I break into your house and rob you at gunpoint. But I always need $200 and you usually only have $100 on you. So I go to the local loan shark every week and borrow the other $100 from him, on the supposition that I’ll keep on robbing you weekly forever and that sooner or later either you will cough up more money or I will need less,  so the loan shark will get paid back.

Question: Are you in any way morally responsible for my debt?

Answer: Not even a little.

What I just described is government finance in a nutshell, stripped of the propaganda. You’re no more morally responsible for the real debts the politicians run up in your name than you are for the hypothetical debt I ran up in your name in my little story.

If anyone tries to tell you that “we” owe $18 trillion to the US government’s creditors, ask him who this “we” is. Does he have a mouse in his pocket or something?

If anyone tells you that “your share” of the “national debt” is approaching $60k, demand to see the promissory notes proving that you co-signed the politicians’ loans.

In the real world, nobody actually believes that the US national debt will ever be paid off. Today’s politicians and those who loan them money are just hoping you’ll keep picking up their tab until they can retire and stick some future generation with the check.

The politicians can’t be counted upon to repudiate their debts.  But the rest of us can and should do in their stead.  “We” don’t owe them anything.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


“Tax Incentives”: Cut! That’s a Wrap!

Map of USA highlighting states with no income tax
Map of USA highlighting states with no income tax (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Movie and television producers say they just can’t afford to film in Florida without “tax incentives,” a mix of special tax treatment and outright corporate welfare. And with those welfare checks drying up (Rene Rodriquez, “Florida’s entertainment industry fights for flailing tax-incentive program,” Miami Herald, June 28), they’re reduced to grabbing some quick exterior shots for location flavor, then moving production to states where the legislatures are more willing to be more cavalier with taxpayer funds.

Re-combobulating state policy to spur “economic development” is a losing game. Every time a rent-seeking industry comes along demanding that taxpayers build them a sports stadium, kick back a portion of highly hypothetical “money we’re causing to come here” or cut them special slack on taxes, the eventual outcome turns out to be an economic wash at best.  Native residents and long-established, home-grown businesses pick up the tab for legislators’ mistakes. The only real gains come in the form of fancy lunches and campaign contributions for those legislators.

Fortunately, things are starting to change nationwide. As Rodriguez notes, in recent years “many states downsized or eliminated their incentive programs altogether.” That leaves Florida in great position to compete with Hollywood as a film center and win.

California demands a top state income tax rate of 13.3% from its citizens and residents. Florida takes no income tax at all. Florida also compares favorably with California (and the rest of the US) when it comes to sales and property taxes. The “tax incentives” are already there, no special programs needed!

When it comes to shooting locations, Florida competes well too. Aside from Arctic and mountainous terrain, there’s almost no outdoor environment or terrain type that can’t be either found or cheaply simulated in Florida. We’ve got jungle. We’ve got swamp. We’ve got evergreen and deciduous forest. We’ve got beach. We’ve got ocean. We’ve got island. We’ve got iconic cityscapes and bucolic farmland.

We’ve also got the infrastructure and the population to support as many studios and crews as care to come here, where they can make — and keep! — more money from their work.

We don’t need a bunch of tax jiggery-pokery and lobbyist-fueled legislative favoritism  to bring more television and movie production to Florida. We can get there by hopping off the corporate welfare/special interest merry-go-round and promoting our state as what it is: Hands down, the best place in America to do business.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.

Life After Obergefell: Survival Tips for the Dismayed

Same Sex Marriage
Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So: A major battle in America’s culture war has ended. Sort of. But not quite.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are constitutionally entitled to state marriage licenses under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses. Opponents of marriage apartheid celebrate; opponents of same-sex marriage mourn. I fall into the former camp, but I understand the concerns of those who find the ruling devastating. Here are a few tips on how to deal with it:

First, if you oppose same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex. Pretty easy, right? This isn’t as bad as you’re trying to make it out to be. You’re still perfectly free to be heterosexual and to marry someone of the opposite sex.

Secondly, if you are a government employee involved in the issuance of marriage licenses and your religious beliefs keep you from issuing those licenses to same-sex couples, quit and go find work in the private sector. You’re entitled to your religious beliefs. You’re not entitled to a government paycheck for refusing to do your job.

Thirdly, if you are a private sector worker  whose job involves weddings — clergy, caterer, baker, florist, photographer, what have you — and your beliefs forbid you to participate in same-sex weddings, by all means stand your ground. Yes, there will be malicious, vexatious and frivolous litigation for awhile as activists try to legally enslave you. But those of us who really support marriage freedom support your freedom too. We’ll stand with you and defend your rights. You will win out.

Finally, understand that very little has actually changed.

Marriage has existed for about as long as people have — probably before religion and certainly before the state and its licensing schemes. Same-sex marriage has been around for approximately as long.

The only differences post-Obergefell are that same-sex couples now fill out the same paperwork and pay the same fees as heterosexual couples, and for their trouble are now entitled to the same state recognitions (benefits AND penalties).

Personally, I celebrate the Obergefell ruling for two reasons:

First, because I don’t think members of the LGBTQ community can conscionably be treated as second-class citizens.

Secondly, because reducing the state’s discretion and ability to discriminate in turn reduces its power over all of us. That’s something we should all want.

The next logical step is to end state licensing of marriage altogether. Neither same-sex nor opposite sex couples (nor, for that matter, groups larger than couples) should have to seek the state’s permission to marry, nor should anyone be privileged or penalized by the state for marrying.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.