The Hangover Strategy
Most people are aware of the phrase “too much of a good thing” and understand its meaning, that excess will do you harm. If you eat too much you may get a stomach ache and if you drink too much you may get a hangover. However, most people probably remain unaware that “too much of a good thing” can be and is used as a political tactic. This is likely the premise of the current Justice Department and ATF scandal, Operation: Fast and Furious.
Fast and Furious’s premise was to allow illegal gun runners to purchase firearms facilitated by the ATF and afterward using the guns to gather intelligence and further evidence against the Mexican drug cartels. Fast and Furious ended in late 2010 after US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down by one of the thousands of guns that got away. In all, around 2,000 guns were trafficked through Fast and Furious and of them, only roughly 600 have been recovered. In addition to Brian Terry, there have been a number of the guns that have been used in high profile (and otherwise) murders throughout Mexico. Now that Fast and Furious is a full blown scandal and has been exposed, the sinister purpose of the operation is no longer effect. The sinister part of the operation is advocates of gun control, the Obama Administration, creating an environment where acquiring guns is easy for criminals in order to cause havoc and make the public turn on 2nd Amendment freedoms. If criminals (who can’t legally purchase firearms) get a hold of semi-automatic rifles and go on killing sprees, one of the natural reactions of people is to make getting firearms more difficult. And because anyone could be a potential straw purchaser (people who can purchase guns and sell them to those who can’t legally purchase them), that would mean cracking down on all gun owners and buyers. Its actually quite likely that had whistle-blowers not have outed the plan, that the public may have never known. So in effect, there would’ve been calls for stricter gun control laws through a secretly manufactured plan to cause it. While illegal, reckless, and nefarious intentions were on display with Fast and Furious, the hangover strategy can potentially be used to advance the cause of liberty.
Raising taxes on the rich, while economically harmful and perhaps immoral, isn’t something that the public is necessarily against. Most opinion polls say that roughly half the country supports raising taxes on the rich and/or thinks the idea should be considered. Also true is that when polled, most people think the rich should pay around 25% in taxes, a full 10% less than what they already pay (the public generally has no idea what the tax rates are). Similarly, the estate tax is something that people on the left greatly favor and many moderates are on the fence. What isn’t considered is that the estate tax is a double tax, paid the first time when the income is earned or goods are purchased. The estate tax is a proposal in Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto (in other words, has no place in a free society). In 2010, there was no estate tax and in 2011 the estate tax is 35%. When New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died in 2010, many in the sports world commented that it was a blessing that the ailing owner died this year because had he died during a year with a high estate tax, his family would’ve lost the Yankees. Steinbrenner was the longest team owner in Yankees history and turned the team from a net worth of $10 million to roughly $1.2 billion. Its easy to see why most people were happy the Steinbrenner family retained the ownership of the franchise George rebuilt and took to unprecedented levels. But what about other, less well known family businesses and properties, is it not just as much of a tragedy when they are forced to sell off their assets when the owner dies? Obviously the answer is yes, being as we are all created equal. The best way to turn the public against the estate tax is to have a sympathetic figure die and his family lose their iconic/treasured estate because of the tax. After that, the worst case scenario is the public would support a reduction in the estate tax and the best case scenario would be popular support for eliminating it altogether.
The other recent scenario in which the hangover strategy could’ve been used for good is when Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps was in the news for smoking marijuana at a University of South Carolina party in 2009. The British tabloid, News of the World, ran the photo in their paper and the story blew up. Richland County Sheriff’s Office initially talked strongly about prosecuting Phelps before eventually deciding against it for “not enough evidence”. Apparently, “not enough evidence” is sometimes code for “I won’t get re-elected if I go ahead with this”. A national celebrity was at a college party with dozens of people who saw him and there is photographic evidence of it happening. The best way to legalize/decriminalize marijuana would be to have charged Michael Phelps. Despite most politicians not supporting the drug’s legalization, most people concede that prohibition of the substance has failed and that its use isn’t a plague on our society. The public would’ve been outraged at our country’s top athlete and national celebrity having his career permanently tainted and embarrassed at the charge for such a petty crime. Thus, for the greater good, it should’ve been pursued. But because we are all created equal (aside from a few who are above us, apparently), the charge was dropped.
To be perfectly clear, I like Michael Phelps and on a personal level I’m glad he wasn’t charged, that would’ve been ridiculous. The only reason I wanted him to have gotten charged is because I think the prohibition of marijuana is unconstitutional without an amendment and because it shouldn’t be included in the same category as other illicit substances. I don’t like the Yankees and I don’t particularly care for the Steinbrenners, but the Yankees are their franchise and no one should be able to take that from them. Its not about personal preferences, its about what is fair and just. While Fast and Furious’s attempt at the hangover strategy thankfully backfired, it shouldn’t be forgotten or go quietly into the night. We, the freedom loving individuals of this nation, should keep this idea in the back of our minds in case another situation arises. That is, unless we want to continue living in a nation where “we are all created equal” is a mere slogan, not a governing philosophy as it was intended.