There Is No Such Thing as an Innocuous Tax


On July 17, Eric Garner was accosted by police on the streets of Staten Island, suspected of selling cigarettes on which no tax had been paid. Garner complained, the police tried to arrest him, they got him in a chokehold, and he died as a result. His death has become an issue because he was black.

Do people really need charges of racism before they see how vicious the state can be — how vicious it routinely is — when it enforces its laws?

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Gregory Nunn

This is another example of how the government operates. You are correct in that race is not a real issue here. People look for reasons like race because they don't want to believe that we have become so controlled and our government so violent. The entire system is bent, if not broken, with little or no recourse.


Unfortunately for Libertarians, most folks may ONLY see the racial aspect to this, and that must not be overlooked. However, as you point out, it's the petty nature of many oppressive, intrusive laws that give the police the authority to exercise whatever racist tendencies they may have in situations such as this one.

Eric Garner was trying to hustle a buck. He deserved an award for entrepreneurial excellence, not to be choked to death. He should be made the inaugural member of the Black Market Hall of Fame.


I think you have it wrong about cigarette tax. He was selling individual cigarettes. He paid the tax when he bought the pack.
In this case I think it is more appropriate to blame the individual police office rather than the state. I don't think the State of NY condones killing people for cigarette sales. If the police officer was tried for murder then it would send a message to other officers. If you're going to use excessive force then you'd better have a legitimate reason. The main reason for criminal punishment is to set an example? Maybe.


You make a valid point. However, this is really just about the gross over reach by the State. Can you imagine the howl that would arise if a Native American bought cigarettes tax free on an Indian Reservation and then tried to sell them on the streets of NYC. This type of case has been litigated on numerous occasions, with clear cut decisions on where and from whom one can sell and buy cigarettes.

Bottom line: They killed a guy, albeit by accident, because they didn't like him and what he was doing and where he was doing it. He wasn't hurting anyone and they should have just written him a citation. When, one can only wonder, will they put a choke hold on some woman who didn't pay her parking fines? I won't hold my breath. I can't breathe!

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