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January 2, 2015

We Can’t Breathe

At recent protests inspired by black deaths at the hands of white cops, protesters held signs saying “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe,” the latter a reference to Eric Garner’s last words while being arrested by chokehold in New York City.

Mr. Garner was initially approached by police for the transgression of selling individual cigarettes, a victimless crime if one ignores the effects of smoking. Why was Mr. Garner selling “loosies?” Because there is a market, and it was worth his time. By making a pack of cigarettes unaffordable through high taxes, New York politicians created a market in individual cigarettes which Mr. Garner recognized. He no doubt had loyal and happy customers who could not afford to buy an entire pack.

New York’s high cigarette tax was designed to manipulate behavior (decrease smoking) rather than to raise revenue, which is the legitimate purpose of a tax. As with so many misguided policies based on intentions, unintended consequences frequently result. Black markets are usually created by government, as are the resulting laws forbidding them. In essence, Mr. Garner was killed by the City of New York for depriving it of the tax revenues it needed to pay the man who killed him.

So, a white cop choked an unarmed black man to death. Thought of in another way, government choked to death an entrepreneur- a free man who recognized a market and took initiative. Like Mr. Garner, thousands of other black male entrepreneurs have recognized markets in drugs stronger than nicotine, and many of those men have suffered the same violent fate as Mr. Garner, though usually at the hands of their competitors.

The compelling cause of black deaths is not racist cops, but market interventions by government to manipulate behavior. Whether through high taxes, regulation, or outright prohibitions, government creates lucrative, secondary markets for all sorts of things, like cocaine and nicotine, and it creates tragic, unintended consequences.

Heroin deaths are on the rise in Kentucky. Andy Beshear, Democrat candidate for Attorney General, wants to halt the epidemic in heroin deaths by getting tough on dealers. Those dealers were created by his father, Governor Steve Beshear, when he deprived addicts of their pills and more predictable dosing of opioids. Creating a problem and offering up your son as the solution is how one starts a political dynasty.

The “I Can’t Breathe” protestors should join the Tea Party, another group that is standing up for individual entrepreneurs and saying to government: “Your taxes, your debt, and your regulations are suffocating us, our children, and the American Dream. We can’t breathe!” Most Tea Partiers are outraged by the War on Drugs, a criminal justice system that too often imprisons nonviolent offenders, disproportionally black, and a public school system that too often imprisons children, disproportionally black.

It is curious that many of the public figures fomenting the “Black Lives Matter” protests are on record as being for abortion. Black babies are aborted at much higher rates than white babies. In New York City, more black babies are aborted than are born. Some progressives, like Jonathan Gruber of Obamacare fame, argue that black abortion reduces welfare and crime by decreasing the number of future welfare recipients and criminals. Like payday lenders, Planned Parenthood operates mostly in low income neighborhoods, near its customers. Planned Parenthood is partially funded by government.

Doctor Kermit Gosnell barely made the news when his Philadelphia abortion mill was busted in 2011. The clinic’s conditions were filthy, but, to authorities, Dr. Gosnell only crossed the line when he started selling pills. Some of the black babies born in his clinic were born alive and smothered. If his victims could speak, they might have said: “We can’t breathe!” Dr. Gosnell was licensed and supervised by government.

People caught in stampedes sometimes suffocate. A stampede of new illegal aliens will certainly trample some blacks vying for low wage jobs. Protecting Americans and the border should be job one of government, but when you are running a retirement Ponzi scheme (Social Security) you need a constant influx of new players.

Government is suffocating blacks. Inspiration, which they need, is sometimes more than the act of breathing.

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