WASHINGTON, December 6, 2014 — “I can’t breathe!” Eric Garner yelled at NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo before expiring a few minutes later, the victim of a police chokehold. Like the Ferguson, Mo. grand jury before them, Staten Island’s found no evidence to indict an officer-caused death of an unarmed black suspect.
“All lives must be valued,” said Attorney General Eric Holder shortly after the grand jury handed down their decision. “Mr. Garner’s death is one of several recent incidents across the country that have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and protect.”
The race-baiting Holder and the sincerely naive candle-vigil-istas across the nation miss the point. Garner was choked to death not because he was black, but because he sought to make a living by offering cash customers cigarettes free of their oppressive tax.
A pack of cigarettes in the Empire State averages $14 a pack. Add another $1.60 if you happen to be standing in the Big Apple, which is where Eric Garner just happened to be standing when uniformed officers noticed he was selling cigarettes – far below what the nanny state of all American nanny states allows.
When New York politicians raised the cigarette tax in 2010, they said the measure would “provide $440 million in revenue for health care programs,” said the New York Times. The law even applied to tobacco sales inside Indian reservations, causing one tribal leader to declare the tax an “act of war.”
“Consider a married couple with a $30,000 a year income,” pondered Kenneth E. Warner and Harold A. Pollack in the pages of the Atlantic magazine. “If each spouse smokes a pack a day and they live in a state where cigarettes cost an average of, say, $6.00 a pack, they will devote 15 percent of their very limited income to cigarettes. Six percent of their income will go to cigarette taxes alone… New Yorkers surely pay more in tobacco taxes than they do in taxes to support Social Security and Medicare.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27.9% of smokers live below the poverty line, with African-Americans making up 18.1% of tobacco purchasers. High New York State tobacco taxes, therefore, trample upon the desire for self-determination among Native American nations and penalize poor people of color.
Kentucky Senator Ran Paul raised the ire of the media’s big-government worshipers for saying high tobacco taxes have “driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive. But then some politicians also had to direct police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.’ And for someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians. We put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws.”
“In Paul’s libertarian fantasy world, taxes and the government are always the problem,” said the deep thinkers at Salon.com, dismissing as irrelevant the statement by Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan that “Eric Garner… after being taken into police custody for alleged sale of untaxed cigarettes… the grand jury found that there was no reasonable cause to vote an indictment” (emphasis added).
That is to say, in the harsh reality of New York City, cigarette taxes and its armed government enforcers became a life-ending problem for Eric Garner.
Denying that reality is the only fantasy.
As I recall, Tea Party favorite Dave Brat, the economics professor who will replace Eric Cantor in Congress this January, was also criticized for a paper he wrote on omnipresent big government.
“The government holds a monopoly on violence,” wrote Brat. “Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military. Do we trust institutions of the government to ensure justice?”
Funny, but that’s the same question asked by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and race-hustler Al Sharpton. They want us to believe the institutions of government injustice (controlled by “The Man”) aim their wrath exclusively at blacks.
The obvious problem is “The Man,” or in this case “Men,” running major government institutions from Washington are themselves black.
Just in passing, NYPD Sergeant Kizzy Adoni, on the scene at Garner’s takedown, said, “She ‘believed she heard’ Garner say he was having difficulty breathing. Adoni also said ‘The perpetrator’s condition did not seem serious and he did not appear to get worse,” New York television station PIX 11 reported.
Supervising officer Adoni is black.
We live in a political culture that prizes victims – real or imagined. Political theater’s central casting produces victims that are usually African-American, LGBT or female. But a man victimized by over taxation sounds eerily like the over taxed colonists victimized by an overbearing British government and king.
America’s Founding “extremists” believed government power should be restrained to expand the individual’s liberty. Like the freedom to sell tea or cigarettes without the government strangling you.
And so, big government promoters scream at the top of their lungs that we must close our eyes to the obvious: Eric Garner died in order to preserve an absurdly high cigarette tax imposed by politicians who believe government revenue is more important than the lives of those they claim to represent.