Tourist Alert: Louisiana Revenuers - Part 2
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12 - 11 - 97

Tourist Alert: Louisiana Revenuers - Part 2

by Leon Felkins

In Part One, I reviewed and commented on NBC's Dateline story about Louisiana's experiment with "Direct Taxation" of travelers of Interstate 10 which aired in January of 1997 and was repeated on August 22, 1997. By Direct Taxation I am referring to that form of taxation that has become increasingly popular in the last few years in which private property is directly seized from the citizens without the usual burdensome legal process. Louisiana, learning well from its Big Brother, the Federal Government, got a little carried away and was harassing motorists and taking their property, mostly on Interstate 10, to the extent that some people were actually planning their cross country trips so as to avoid Louisiana altogether!

In this segment, the emphasis will be on the effort of the Louisiana government to mend its ways by passing legislation to limit the power of the police and the judiciary in their enthusiastic efforts to take private property. It is fun to watch the antics of people torn between ethical considerations and greed.

Before I proceed with that, however, I think it is worthwhile to pause and reflect on the importance of the news media to the maintenance of liberty, freedom and the protection of individual welfare. While we all get very frustrated with the media for its biased reporting, its presenting of editorials in the guise of news, and its left leaning tendencies, we must surely admit that without them we would live in a state as rigidly controlled as the Soviet Union ever dreamed about with a Gestapo monitoring our every action. It is the media that periodically wakes up some sleepy agency -- like the Medicare/Medicaid agency (HCFA), with a cast of thousands in its "investigative" resources -- and point out to them that there is massive fraud going on right under their noses. And it is the media that has stepped in and said to Louisiana, "Maybe you are going a bit too far with your hijacking of the tourists of I-10".

One more general comment before we move on to the subject material: I think the imposition of the asset forfeiture and seizure program on the US citizens more than any other action of the government, puts the lie to the claim often made by liberals, academics, and many "political scientists" that government agencies are altruistic and that they do what they do for the benefit of the citizens. Surely this program shows, once and for all, that that belief is absolute idiocy.

So, all is back to normal (sigh). Seizures are up, the legislature was kept busy all Summer trying to look like they were making drastic changes without doing anything, and the tourist trade is flowing again.

I only have one suggestion: When you come to Mardi Gras next Spring don't come dressed as a person of African or Mexican descent with wads of money sticking out of your pocket. And for gods sake, don't drive home in a white Lincoln!


You may think it is strange that Federal grants need to be awarded to the states to support the Forfeiture and Seizure programs. You shouldn't. It is a fundamental law of nature -- as sure as the law of gravity -- that all government programs always cost money. If somehow the government should somehow get its hand on a gold mine, in full production, they would need appropriations to operate it.

Yes, the Federal Government provides grants to states to operate their asset looting programs. It is called the TREASURY FORFEITURE FUND. I quote from that document: "The total FY 1998 drug control budget request is $155 million. No new enhancements are being requested. " Aren't they sweet!

Appendix: More Examples From the Dateline Episode.


Dateline, NBC News, August 22, 1997. Transcripts of the Dateline series can be obtained by sending $7.00 to Burrelle's Transcripts, Box 7, Livingston, NJ 07039. They also have some video copies of some programs.

The Baton Rouge Advocate published a series of essays on the Dateline story and subsequent maneuverings of the Louisiana politicians. Contact them for copies (there is a small cost).


More of Leon Felkins' essays may be found on his home page, A Rational Life.

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1. Agree: My God by Les Heifner, 10/27/98

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