Saturday, January 28, 2017

What is Geolibertarianism? (Abbreviated)

What is Geolibertarianism?

Written on January 25th, 2017

      The Libertarian Party needs a tax policy.

      Given that Gary Johnson failed to convince certain media figures that the FairTax is the best tax plan out there, and failed to convince the American people to vote for him, it's time for the L.P. to think about its tax policy, and the principles behind it.
     Don't get me wrong; there's nothing wrong with the FairTax, Johnson simply wasn't given enough opportunities to defend it. The FairTax – which would aim to replace personal income taxes – is a proposed 23% sales tax on all goods sold nationally, in order to fund the federal government. On first inspection, the plan appears to achieve every goal of good libertarian tax philosophy.

      Despite the concerns of CNN's Chris Cuomo that the FairTax is regressive - and the concerns of John Oliver that the plan is just another social welfare program – Johnson continued defending the FairTax.
      He argued that it was revenue-neutral. He also argued that the FairTax is not regressive; because it would compensate people – in advance, to the tune of several thousand dollars annually – for those national sales taxes which they would pay on ordinary consumer goods and services. This payout – which John Oliver described as just another social welfare program – is called the FairTax “prebate”.
      The FairTax succeeds at putting into practice most of the goals of libertarian principles on taxes. And what are those principles, exactly? We want to simplify the tax code, for a start. We want make tax burdens more equal by flattening tax rates, and run government services on fee-for-service models. But we also don't want to burden low-income people who have difficulty affording taxes, because we recognize that more government involvement has made their lives more difficult in that respect.
      Lastly, we want a tax code that doesn't inhibit productive behavior. We share the concerns of former Reagan economic adviser Art Laffer, whose “Laffer curve” explained the mathematical ramifications of the observation that taxes often have the effect of punishing or deterring the behaviors which they tax. If we agree that taxes do punish, then they should punish intentionally.
      More to the point; what the FairTax lacks is an idea of how to fully apply the idea that all taxes just might punish and deter the behaviors they tax. That's where the Single Tax comes in.

      Now commonly known as Land Value Taxation, the Single Tax is the philosophy of 19th-century American economist Henry George. Students of George's philosophy – called Georgists, or geoists – have adopted slogans such as “tax land, not man”, and “tax bads, not goods”.
      This means that Georgists want government to be funded entirely through the collection of rents on the non-improvement of landed property. In a Georgist system, local governments would levy fees against wasteful “uses” of landed property, while “community land trusts” would be charged with preserving and allocating land.
      I know what you're thinking, and you're right; your property taxes are high enough already. But under Georgism, you would incur no tax liabilities from making productive use of your land (as long as you don't render the land unusable). You would be free to make sustainable improvements that increase your property value, without paying increased property taxes.

      Despite the “Single Tax” label, there are numerous types of activities which would be taxed in a Georgist system. These include but are not limited to: hoarding, abuse, misuse, disuse, blight, pollution, and unsustainable development of land; as well as the extraction of natural resources without compensating the community.
      The Georgist system would levy taxes with the intent of deterring and punishing the undesirable behavior (the “bad”); while avoiding taxing man's productive economic behaviors; like engaging in labor, and buying and selling “goods”.
      The advantage that Georgism has over the FairTax is that Georgism taxes waste, while the FairTax taxes consumption. This is problematic because consumption is not always wasteful. Conspicious consumption (that is, excessive consumption), on the other hand, resembles waste. But to tax only the waste of land, while refraining from taxing purchases, could help avoid the risk that the FairTax could deter the purchase of ordinary goods.
      Truth be told, as long as prices and the value of the dollar were to remain stable, the FairTax's prebate would probably remove that disincentive to make purchases. But nonetheless, the Georgist plan to tax waste, in all its forms, achieves the goals of libertarian tax philosophy even more thoroughly than the FairTax does.
A geo-libertarian tax policy would most likely be funded through 1) voluntary donations, 2) user fees), and 3) taxes on the non-improvement of land.

      Henry George's philosophy was praised by the late former Reagan economic adviser Milton Friedman; as “the least harmful tax” ever proposed. For the last fifty years, Nobel Prize winner Friedman – as well as his son David, and grandson Patri – has been an important influence on conservative and libertarian thought.
In 1968, Friedman defended the Negative Income Tax (N.I.T.) against William F. Buckley's questioning. The N.I.T. was not devised by Friedman, but it was supported by Sargent Shriver and Daniel Moynihan, and considered by presidents Johnson and Nixon.
      The Negative Income Tax would be paid for through a flat tax on those above a certain income level, with a “negative tax rate” being applied to people below that income level. This imposition of a negative tax rate would result in a cash payment, which Friedman explained could be equal to (as an example) 50% of the difference between the low-income person's annual earnings, and the income level that establishes who will pay taxes and who will receive payment.
      One intention of the N.I.T. is to phase-out requirements that a person must give up benefits as soon as they become employed; these requirements create what some call “the poverty trap in the welfare system”. Another intention of the plan is to pay low-income citizens their own money back.
      Such a plan could be argued to provide reparative compensation (that is, reparations) to the impoverished; as an redress of grievances; grievances against the federal government such as growing beyond its appropriate scope of power, putting taxpayer money in the hands of cronies and lobbyists, and creating artificial scarcity of land through the hoarding of land into federal ownership.
      A libertarian implementation of the N.I.T. would most likely involve shrinking government involvement in health and education, while returning the moneys that fund health and education to the taxpayers, so that they may more easily be able to afford buying health and education goods and services on the open market, just as they would with ordinary consumer goods.

      Now the similarities between the FairTax and the Negative Income Tax are becoming apparent.
      Both plans impose a tax upon a productive economic behavior which is not related to land; the FairTax taxes sales, while the N.I.T. Taxes income. Both plans would be levied in the hope that they would make at least one other way of sourcing government revenue obsolete. Additionally, each plan would be administered concurrently with reductions in the size and scope of government; returning money to the taxpayer, in a way that is effectively progressive, even if some describe them as flat.
      Aside from the FairTax, the Negative Income Tax, and the Georgist plan, the ideas of Thomas Paine should be considered. At the Libertarian Party's 1998 convention, a group of libertarian Georgists called the Thomas Paine Caucus hosted a booth, hoping to get their land platform into the party's platform.
      The caucus was unsuccessful; and although some caucus members did become L.P. members, the caucus did not become part of the party. As a result, in the last twenty years, the party has perhaps paid less attention to Paine than it should. However, that does not stop today's geo-libertarians from calling for the party to consider Paine's ideas on welfare, in addition to George's and Friedman's.
      In Common Sense, Paine articulated what could be described as a geo-libertarian proposal for a citizens' dividend program. He essentially argued that, since government must deprive individuals of full private property rights (in order to maintain basic zoning and land-title systems), government should be obligated to compensate all adults in the country with a certain guaranteed income; an income equal to the value of the vast set of landed property rights which they would otherwise fully possess.

      Of course, without access to land and natural resources, it is practically impossible for most people to be productive. As a result, competition for resources, trade, and currency, are all more prevalent than they would be if individuals sustained themselves. Poverty and dependence go hand-in-hand; this is what libertarians, conservatives, and Georgists all want to address.
      That's why we should consider what people like Thomas Paine, Milton Friedman, and Henry George have taught us about taxes and welfare; as well what libertarians leaning to the left (such as Charles Murray) have to say on the matters. Murray (of the American Enterprise Institute) has been criticized for supporting a basic income proposal.
      Some of the more conservative members of the Libertarian Party might criticize basic income (and similar proposals like citizens' dividends and sovereign wealth funds) as proposals that advocate redistribution. But given our belief that most taxation resembles theft, and the fact that the First Amendment recognizes the natural right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, Libertarians shouldn't rule-out all proposals that would put cash directly in the hands of the people.
      That's because any one of these proposals could result in payouts that are parts of a long-overdue civil settlement between the people and their government. We the People have no duty to forgive the federal government for the self-defeating, unjustly punitive tax policies which it has administered since the Founding; we should instead hold it responsible. Government and its cronies should be found guilty of legitimized unconstitutional mass-scale theft of wealth and property rights; and the rewards should go to every resident under federal jurisdiction.

      Many L.P. members and Georgists would probably agree that the federal government should pay compensatory damages to its victims (We the People). We might argue about how much we can trust the states on land issues, and about whether people should have a choice between receiving land and money. But what is clear is that, if all “social welfare programs” keep people in poverty, then none of the reforms mentioned herein are social welfare programs.
      That's why we should continue to consider sales tax prebates, negative income tax payouts, basic income proposals, the citizens' dividend, and the sovereign wealth fund. We should also keep our minds open to new ways to put into full practice all of our principles on taxes. We must craft a tax policy that is fair and equal; that affords as much freedom to the taxpayer as possible; and that holds government (and its largest land-hoarding and polluting beneficiaries) responsible for funding government.
      We must levy fines that punish civil and criminal wrongdoing, not fees and taxes that deter people from working, trading, and engaging in productive activities that harm nobody. To do the opposite is to continue to grow government; to enrich cronies; to make land more expensive; and to keep the poor in poverty. It is to continue down the same path that has given innumerable unsustainable budget deals and irrational forms of taxation.
      That's why the Libertarian Party should not shy away from making tentative alliances with those slightly to the party's left, nor should the L.P. shy away from the party of free land and free money.

See other articles on this blog about Geolibertarianism here:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Twenty-Nine-Point Comprehensive Immigration Plan

            1. THE WALL: Do not add fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border, and do not build walls on the borders with Mexico nor Canada.

            2. CIVIL RIGHTS: Do not revoke the civil liberties nor civil rights (such as rights to equal protection of law, and due process of law) on the basis of the suspect's national origin, religion, nor enemy combatant status. All persons have these constitutionally recognized rights; not just American citizens.

            3. BANS: Enforce neither temporary nor permanent bans on immigrants and refugees coming from particular countries; especially not as a way to discriminate against refugees on the basis of the religious majority of the nations from which they come.

            4. REGISTRIES: Pass legislation specifically prohibiting the creation of federal registries, and of lists of Americans' races and religions.

            5. VETTING: If illegal immigration is really the problem, then maybe we shouldn't worry about who is trying to immigrate into the United States legally as much. Either way, relax procedures for the naturalization of legal immigrants and refugees; background checks and health examinations should take up the majority of the procedure.

            6. CRIME: As soon as possible, deport all undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of violent crimes.

            7. ARREST: Do not allow police officers, nor immigration and customs officials, to detain and deport undocumented immigrants for non-violent crimes; not for breaking petty vice laws, nor for having insufficient identification.

            8. HARBORING: Urge all governments (at all levels) to decriminalize harboring and assisting undocumented immigrants and refugees; these actions should not be felonies. State and local governments, the private sector, and charity and religious organizations, should not be punished for providing humanitarian relief (such as housing, education, health services, and food), to undocumented immigrants and refugees.

            9. AMNESTY: Grant permanent or temporary amnesty, temporary work visas, or Green cards, to all non-violent undocumented immigrants, regardless of their religion or national origin.

            10. BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP: Continue allowing all people who were born on U.S. territory to apply for U.S. citizenship when they turn 18.

            11. CHILD ARRIVALS: Ensure that undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children – especially in the last 35 years – are not deported; and ensure that they are not separated from family members who may be undocumented immigrants, unless they have been convicted of violent crimes. Support congressional deferred action for childhood arrivals and their parents; not executive orders which bypass Congress.

            12. TRAVEL: Increase the freedom of movement of labor and capital – and refrain from inhibiting the freedom of locomotion of non-violent undocumented immigrants to other countries – by decriminalizing the act of entry into the United States without going through required naturalization procedures. Urge governments to agree to make monetary settlements with any legal immigrants who feel slighted by the relative ease with which undocumented immigrants become citizens.

            13. NATURALIZATION: Ensure that the federal government retains its authority to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. Oppose and abolish any and all support of immigration quotas as calls for unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of national origin.

            14. WORK: Do not make work a condition for citizenship. Make it easier (for undocumented and documented immigrants alike) to get green cards and temporary work visas; by increasing the number of temporary work visas for immigrants who want to come here to work (especially the number of visas for high-skilled workers). Provide easy paths to legal work, lawful permanent residency, citizenship, and full voting rights.

            15. IDENTIFICATION: Do not establish a national identification card. Do not require businesses to use e-Verify (or similar programs) to confirm citizenship as a condition of hiring. All this does is turn undocumented immigrants who want to work into unemployed second-class citizens, and turn hiring managers into immigration enforcement officials.

            16. VOTING: Allow non-violent undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. to vote, as long as they are not eligible to vote in any other country.

            17. PURCHASES: Ensure that undocumented immigrants are not expected to show identification documents that would reveal their citizenship status, in order to purchase products that have legally mandated minimum ages of purchase (such as alcohol and tobacco).

            18. DRIVING: Make it easier for immigrants and refugees – and ordinary citizens as well - to obtain drivers' licenses. First, by urging more states to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses for non-citizens; second, by urging courts to find that charging fees to license drivers amounts to charging people to leave their state, which interferes with the freedom of locomotion. As long as driver's licenses are considered constitutional, and as long as people are expected to carry identification, all levels of government should be urged to issue driver's licenses and identification documents at no charge to the recipient.

            19. WELFARE: Ensure that state and federal welfare agency employees do not violate immigrants' Fifth Amendment freedom from self-incrimination, by using undocumented immigrants' state of need as an excuse to make them state their citizenship status, in order to have them detained and deported (without any evidence of commission of a real crime against person or property having appeared).

            20. SOCIAL DIVIDENDS: Ensure that governments cannot discriminate against undocumented immigrants seeking welfare support in the form of cash payouts from social dividends; if the opportunity arises to choose between a residents' dividend and a citizens' dividend, a proposal of a residents' dividend should be drafted and passed rather than a citizens' dividend.

            21. SAFETY NET: Stay open to the possibility of revoking federal social safety net benefits for undocumented immigrants; but only consider doing so after all structures supporting the corporate welfare system are abolished, and during the same time period that the federal social safety net is being phased out for all residents.

            22. SOCIAL SECURITY: The right to receive social welfare supports (including the entitlements, the S.N.A.P. / Food Stamps program, and others) should not be contingent upon paying taxes and paying into Social Security. There is no enumerated constitutional authority for federal involvement in retirement savings nor welfare; federal involvement in retirement should end; authority for any continued federal involvement in welfare should be passed constitutionally; and all government revenue should derive from fines that penalize waste rather than taxes that penalize productivity. Such a policy on welfare and taxation will provide additional tax relief to low-income undocumented immigrants and refugees; easing the transition to work, without overwhelming the worker with tax forms. Allow immigrant and native-born workers alike to opt-out of the Social Security system.

            23. SANCTUARY: End the federal government's monetary support of so-called “Sanctuary Cities” for undocumented immigrants; but only do so as part of a broader effort to stop these unconstitutional payments from the federal government to community governments.

            24. STATE WELFARE: Allow state and local governments to decide whether to grant undocumented immigrants' requests for social welfare benefits such as housing, education, health, and food assistance.

            25. PRIVATIZATION: Save money, shrink the welfare state, and make ordinary consumer goods more affordable (for immigrants and the native-born alike), by making health, education, and housing easier to purchase on the open market. Phase-out federal involvement in those sectors, and urge state and local governments to decrease regulations and taxes on them. Make purchasing goods like health insurance, medications, and education – and buying or renting housing – as easy and affordable as buying foods and drinks.

            26. EDUCATION: Require all publicly funded universities to offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants who reside in the state. Do not inhibit private colleges from offering scholarships and grants to undocumented immigrants.

            27. MILITARY: Ensure that acts of Congress concerning immigration allow non-violent undocumented immigrants to serve in the military (and become citizens); rather than giving undocumented immigrants a choice between serving in the military for two years or attending college. Do not make undocumented immigrants, nor anyone else, subject to selective service registration, military drafts, nor civil emergency preparedness service; not as a condition of citizenship, nor for any other reason.

            28. LANGUAGE: Do not interfere with the First Amendment freedom of speech of undocumented immigrants and refugees who speak languages other than English. Do not make English the official language of the United States of America; and pass a constitutional amendment formally prohibiting any state or local government from doing so. Do not require immigrants nor refugees to learn English as a condition of citizenship.

            29. CULTURE: Do not interfere with the freedom of cultural expression. Do not expect, nor require, immigrants and refugees to "assimilate" to American culture; which includes liberal and conservative political cultures, neither of which fully embraces all of the freedoms that make people want to come here. Achieve civic pluralism by respecting ethnic and religious cultures' self-determination rights; while protecting the rights of ethnic, religious, and political minorities, with full civil liberties, and equal protection of law with due process.

Written on January 26th, 27th, and 30th, 2017

Edited on February 18th, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What is Geolibertarianism? (Expanded)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Gary Johnson and the FairTax
2. Libertarian Tax Principles
3. Georgist Tax Principles
4. The Basics of Georgism
5. Georgism, Advanced
6. The Geo-Libertarian Synthesis
7. Georgism as Libertarian
8. Thomas Paine's Citizens' Dividend
9. Taxation and Social Welfare
10. The Geo-Painean-Friedmanite Synthesis
11. Conclusion: Social Welfare Programs


1. Introduction: Gary Johnson and the FairTax

      The Libertarian Party needs a tax policy.

      In 2016, the party's presidential nominee Gary Johnson advocated the FairTax. Under this proposal, the federal tax on individual income would be replaced by a nationwide value-added tax on consumption; a 23% tax (paid by the customer) on all goods sold nationwide, functioning the same way that state and local sales taxes do.
      Since about half of federal revenues derive from taxes on individual income, it's possible that if the sales tax rate could be doubled (to 46%), capital gains taxes, estate taxes, and gift taxes, and maybe other types of taxes as well, could become unnecessary, in addition to personal income taxes (of course, few libertarians - and few followers of Henry George's Single Tax philosophy - would support prohibiting voluntary donations to government paid from charges on earned income, sales, capital gains, etc.).
      During the 2016 campaign, on Chris Cuomo's CNN show, Gary Johnson answered concerns that the FairTax proposal is regressive (despite the plan's “prebate” which would compensate consumers for their purchases). Additionally, John Oliver criticized Johnson for declining to go into enough detail about whether the FairTax's “prebate” is a welfare program.
      It seems that the public and the media are not quite ready for the FairTax. Judging by Johnson's disappointing 3% vote in the 2016 presidential election (after sustaining 5-9% polling averages, and even registering as high as 13% in one poll, all still short of the 15% threshold to get into the debates), party members themselves might be ready to move on to better tax policies as well.
      Given the misinformation and contentiousness surrounding Johnson's candidacy and surrounding the FairTax, it might behoove the party to consider tax policies that are different from the FairTax, but which still retain its intent and spirit. A new tax policy should ask the same question that inspired the FairTax: “Which behaviors ought to be taxed in the first place?”

2. Libertarian Tax Principles

      The tax-skeptical party that we are, we go back to first principles. Our members might be likely to advocate funding government entirely from voluntary contributions, others from user fees, perhaps others want to keep income taxes but allow individuals to choose which spending items to pay for.
      Others simply want whichever tax policy will place the lowest burden on people who engage in productive economic behavior. We understand that income taxes and sales taxes are really taxes on earning money and taxes on buying and selling (respectively). We also understand that when you tax an activity, you risk discouraging that behavior if you impose too high a tax rate. This is because high tax rates can deter people from engaging in the activity that is being taxed.
Hence, each kind of tax has the effect of penalizing and deterring the activity that it taxes. The result is that when you tax income and sales, less people are working and earning money, and less trade is taking place because fewer things are being bought and sold.
Art Laffer, former economic adviser to Ronald Reagan, theorized what is called the “Laffer curve”. The Laffer curve is essentially a bell curve, plotted on a graph; a graph in which the X-axis depicts rates of income or productivity, while the Y-axis depicts tax rate percentages.
Laffer hypothesized that some nominal tax rate might exist, which, if applied, would allow the government to take as much revenue as possible from our paychecks, without risking making us quit our jobs altogether because we can't afford to pay taxes at rates any higher than they already are.
       The pervasiveness of the sentiment that we're “taxed enough already” - and a new political environment that firmly believes that too much regulation and taxation stymies production and growth - suggest that Laffer's concern is valid. Some among us might even believe that the Laffer curve peaks at zero; which is to say that any percentage tax rate - even 1% - at least somewhat deters a person from engaging in taxed behaviors.
      That's why it's important for us to ask ourselves how to ow do we adopt a tax policy that satisfies the concerns of all members of the party, while making sure that the people who actually deserve to be “punished” (with these punitive taxes) are the ones that will bear the burden of federal taxes?

3. Georgist Tax Principles

If taxes do punish, then they should be levied with intent to punish. Understanding this could lead to a society where the people who pay for government, are criminals - those who destroy lands, restrict access to vast areas, rob us of our natural rights, waste our tax dollars, and enrich themselves through cronyism - while the people who reap the rewards are, by large, innocent civilians who engage in little or no economic activity which harms anybody else.
      The key to achieving that kind of society is to “tax bads, not goods”; that is, fund government through imposing intentionally deterrent, quasi-punitive fines on wasteful behaviors, not through imposing “taxes” on productive economic behavior that harms nobody and steals nobody's property.
      But taxing waste is precisely the issue; the FairTax taxes consumption. And so, we must ask, do we want to tax consumption? Do we risk discouraging people from buying things; from using the products they want to buy, including eating the foods they want to buy? Why should we be taxing economic activity at all? Shouldn't we tax luxury items before we tax ordinary consumer goods? Isn't conspicious (excessive) consumption a more waste-like activity to tax instead of taxing all sales nationwide?
      That's why “tax bads, not goods” and “tax land, not man” are some of the slogans of the Georgists (also called Geoists). Georgists are students of 19th-century American economist Henry George, whose 1871 book Progress and Poverty influenced the development of philosophy and policy concerning property rights, taxation, environment, economics, and other topics.
      Some of George's modern-day admirers have created a hybrid “geo-libertarianism”, integrating George's libertarian communalist philosophy into the broader ethics and politics of libertarianism, bringing George's “Single Tax” (or Land Value Taxation) together with a die-hard support for civil liberties, and a desire to decentralize government towards local communities.

4. The Basics of Georgism

      While adherents to the Libertarian Party's platform are, for the most part, known as strong supporters of private property, Georgists want most land held in common (with open access), but with communally recognized private property rights. However, Georgists and geo-libertarians want intentionally deterrent fines to be imposed on people who have full private property ownership rights, including the right to exclude others from their land.
       Henry George's philosophy is known by many names: Georgism, Geonomics, Land Value Taxation or location value taxation (L.V.T.), split-rate taxation, two-rate taxation, two-tier taxation, or "the Single Tax". The Single Tax is a policy that funds government entirely through taxes on land; specifically, through taxes on the non-improvement of land, collected as land rents. Despite the "Single Tax" term, taxes on the non-improvement of land actually include multiple different types of taxation. This is because the full economic definition of land includes space, air, water, raw materials, mineral deposits, parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and other natural resources that exist in fixed supply.
The more libertarian among the geo-libertarians might argue in favor of limiting the types of behavior which the perhaps deceptively-named Single Tax might apply, but to fail to fully tax all behaviors, goods, and services which fall under the full economic definition of land (which includes raw materials, and does not include land not yet capitalized) would likely mean deserting George's vision to some degree.
A full “Single Tax” could potentially involve imposing monetary penalties upon: 1) the hoarding of landed property; 2) the enclosure of common lands; 3) emission of pollutants, potentially including the emission of carbon; 4) the extraction of natural resources without compensating neighbors or the community; 5) allowing land to become unusable and fall into disuse, disrepair, or blight; and / or 6) failure to homestead, otherwise sustainably develop, and demonstrate sufficiently frequent and active use of the land.
      The main revenue sources of a hybrid geo-libertarian tax policy would most likely be: 1) (as much revenue as possible from) voluntary contributions (from whatever sources); 2) (most of the remaining revenue) from user fees (through running as many government services as possible on fee-for-service models); and 3) taxes on land (funding whatever constitutional and necessary programs cannot be funded through donations and user fees.
      It's important to keep in mind that not all Georgists want to abolish the individual income tax, corporate income and capital gains taxes, and sales taxes. Of course, neither Georgists nor libertarians could rationally argue against abolishing voluntary donations to government from any of these sources. Despite those facts, it's not unreasonable to suggest that taxing solely land should logically involve eliminating (mandatory) personal income taxes, sales taxes, luxury taxes, capital gains and corporate income, estate taxes, and gift taxes. However, personal or corporate income from land sales, and gifts and bequeathing of land, might also be taxed. These provisos should provide plenty of room for negotiation with parties representing a host of different ideologies.

5. Georgism, Advanced

      An extensive application of Georgism might even include something like a carbon tax, but if each community could develop its own method of taxing pollution, then these communities could have a chance to convince urban and suburban communities not to adopt the United Nations carbon taxation plan.
      While this might sound unusual or risky - maybe to the more conservative members of the L.P. - taxing non-improvement of land could turn property taxes on their head, making it unnecessary to tax property value, freeing people to make unlimited improvements to their own property without paying taxes to the community (as long as the improvements are sustainable).
As a side note, in addition to George's demands, adherents of the property philosophies of John Locke and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon would likely promote punitive measures against property owners who do nothing to physically protect and secure their land, and instead rely on government to do it for them instead.
Additionally, these property owners - "absentee property owners" - rely on government to make land artificially scarce, resulting in takings of common lands that drive populations into urban centers, conscripting the people into the reserve army of labor, so that they are artificially impoverished through deprivation of natural rights, and are forced to compete for artificially scarce resources. This competition in the job market is not limited to the profession of working as a security guard to protect and defend someone's private property.

6. The Geo-Libertarian Synthesis

      But the geo-libertarians simply want to realize George's vision of ending taxes on all forms of labor (like personal income taxes), ending taxes on all forms of capital (like sales, capital gains, and taxes on profits), and taxing the waste and destruction of landed property, instead of taxing productive and sustainable improvements to landed property.
      Such a policy would render about 90% of current revenue sources obsolete. It would shrink the tax burden of renters, low-income workers, and ordinary consumers to practically zero; causing the burden of funding government to fall mainly upon the wealthiest of landed property owners, and the companies that release the most pollutants into common land, water, and air.
      This policy would ensure that the people who deserve to be punished by taxes - the beneficiaries of government protection of landed property (in addition to other artificial, taxpayer-funded privileges which destroy true free market conditions) – are the ones being punished. Additionally, this policy would minimally interrupt ordinary production and trade (aside from land); like sales, the earning of income, the earning of dividends through investment, and sustainable improvements to one's landed property (however, as one small possible downside, community governments' roles in mediating the sale and transfer of landed property would increase).
      The Land Value Taxation rate could even be set at a fixed number – maybe the same 23% as the FairTax; or maybe another number, maybe reflecting a very different budget – so Georgism would likely satisfy those in the L.P. who desire flat tax rates.

7. Georgism as Libertarian

      Without government taxing the income and purchases of ordinary people, prosperity would likely rapidly increase among low-income people. Social welfare programs could become unnecessary, making it possible to eliminate the majority of the activities of the Internal Revenue Service, focusing it on the taxation of non-improvement to landed property.
      Aside from simplifying the tax code and scaling back the affairs of the I.R.S., Georgists and Libertarian Party members might also choose to embark upon any or all of the following: 1) scale down the affairs of the Department of the Interior and bureaus of land management; 2) loosen requirements to claim homesteading, such as demonstration of exclusion and duration of occupancy; 3) pass homesteading tax credits at all levels of government, credits which are applicable to apartments, trailers, and small homes; 4) urge the federal and state governments to sell and grant public lands to local governments, potentiating more land sales to citizens; and 5) passing a new Homestead Act, allowing each resident to claim up to 7 or 8 acres of land.
      But perhaps the most important way to test the viability of a geo-libertarian alliance will be to see where libertarians and Georgists agree about what to tax, why we should be taxing it, and how much it should be taxed.

8. Thomas Paine's Citizens' Dividend

      In 1998, a group of libertarian Georgists called the Thomas Paine Caucus hosted a booth at that year's Libertarian Party convention in Washington, D.C.. Some members of the caucus were also members of the Libertarian Party, while others were not.1 The caucus's efforts to get the L.P. to accept its land rights platform were derailed, so as a result, the party has perhaps paid less attention to Paine - and to George - than it should.
In Common Sense, Paine explained that each of us deserves compensation for being deprived of the natural right to inherit and fully own landed private property, we begin to understand that if we want our government to perform basic functions like zoning and recognizing exclusive property titles, then we should be free to have private property; we should be free to claim an area of land commensurate with world land divided by world population.
      But we should also be free to choose monetary compensation instead of landed private property. Paine advocates a citizens' dividend; similar plans are called residents' dividends, sovereign wealth funds (such as the Alaska Permanent Fund), and the kind of universal basic income guarantees advocated by libertarian Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute (and many on the left, and in Europe).
      If you think about it, the idea of cash payouts to citizens, may not be too far off from the FairTax's “prebate”, which would compensate consumers up to several thousands of dollars for paying taxes on everything they buy in a given year.

9. Taxation and Social Welfare

Despite the suggestions of John Oliver and others, a “prebate” isn't exactly a social welfare program. Citizens' dividends and basic income guarantees don't have to be run like social welfare programs either.
As libertarians, we interpret the Constitution's General Welfare Clause, and the direct tax and capitation clauses, to suggest that taxes and spending should impact all citizens universally, and equally, with spending benefiting everyone.
Given these principles, a prebate, basic income, or citizens' dividend should only be passed if it leaves more money in the hands of ordinary people, so that they can buy in the market what those tax dollars previously paid for. The idea is to shrink spending and revenues, and return those revenues to everyone in the form of cash payouts.
      Truthfully, any basic income program, citizens' dividend, sovereign wealth fund, or Negative Income Tax -type program, could easily be implemented and administered in a way that ensures that as flat as possible tax rates - and the tax burden in general - fall equally upon those who can afford it (i.e., those above the poverty line); while ensuring that each citizen receive an equal share of the government's cash payout (and / or land-gift), as long as they are not a beneficiary of government land protection.

10. The Geo-Painean-Friedmanite Synthesis

      Out of the debate between FairTax and Negative Income Tax proponents, and basic income advocates, has come the suggestion of a “Geo-Painean-Friedmanite Caucus” in the party; one which unites the ideas of Henry George and Thomas Paine, with those of Milton Friedman.
      Friedman supported the Negative Income Tax, though he did not originate it. Daniel Moynihan and Sargent Shriver advocated for the passage of similar legislation, while presidents Johnson and Nixon considered similar measures.
      The Negative Income Tax aims to eliminate the "poverty trap" created by rules that cut people off from social welfare benefits when they start working, thus removing the monetary incentive to work rather than stay on welfare. The N.I.T.'s solution is to flatly tax people above the poverty line (or some nearby amount), while paying "negative taxes" (i.e., rebates) to people below the poverty line.
In a 1968 interview with William F. Buckley, Friedman defended the Negative Income Tax. He gave as an example a 50% negative tax for those below the poverty line; explaining that everyone below the poverty line would receive half of the difference between the poverty line and their annual income.
Friedman described it essentially as a flat tax which is not regressive, but which is effectively progressive because the “negative tax” (read: payout to people below the poverty line or some other income threshold) would be redistributed from the rich, who would pay the same flat tax rate on all the taxable productive behaviors in which they engage.
That would go regardless of whether that would involve keeping the current tax code, or whether the code were totally overhauled; this fact could allows some wiggle room for compromise on probably almost all forms of taxation.
      Additionally, to exempt low-income earners from having to pay the Negative Income Tax, and to relieve the tax burden of those who own the smallest areas of land, could both be described as plans to compensate ordinary residents for the taking of their property; both administered as flat taxes with exemptions for those below a certain level of property earning or ownership.
And there's nothing left or right about government compensating the people for the illegal theft of their property rights, whether you want to call that "redistribution" or a "welfare program" or just call it what it is, which is shrinking government and giving it back to the people (as money and/or land rights), while restoring reason to the tax code.
      Some of the more conservative members of the Libertarian Party might criticize such proposals as advocating “redistribution”, “bleeding-heart” policies, or “leftism”. But given our belief that most taxation resembles theft, and the fact that the First Amendment recognizes the natural right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, Libertarians shouldn't rule-out all proposals that would put cash directly in the hands of the people.
      We the People have no duty to forgive the federal government for the self-defeating, unjustly punitive tax policies which it has administered since the Founding. Government and its cronies should be found guilty of legitimized unconstitutional mass-scale theft of wealth and property rights; and the rewards should go to every resident under federal jurisdiction.
      That's why we should continue to consider sales tax prebates, negative income tax payouts, basic income proposals, the citizens' dividend, and the sovereign wealth fund; that's because any one of these proposals could result in payouts that are parts of a long-overdue civil settlement between the people and their government.
      Many L.P. members and Georgists would probably agree that the federal government should pay compensatory damages to its victims (We the People). We might argue about how much we can trust the states on land issues, and about whether people should have a choice between receiving land and money. But what is clear is that, if all “social welfare programs” keep people in poverty, then none of the reforms mentioned herein are social welfare programs.

11. Conclusion

      A new synthesis is emerging. It is a synthesis that wants decentralized community control over land, environment, and tax policy; that wants to simplify the tax code and avoid deterring economic growth; and that recognizes that government largesse has enriched its cronies with taxpayer funds through artificially limiting the ability to buy and afford land, and that due to the injustice which maintaining these institutional, market-distorting privileges perpetuates, residents are owed reparations: reparations in the form of increased personal liberty, more localized control, and choice between free land and free money.
      Libertarians would do well to draw inspiration from Paine, Friedman, and George, in order to formulate new, innovative proposals of sweeping reforms to (and overhauls and simplifications of) the existing tax code. They must be proposals that face modern economic realities, and plan to do something about the artificial scarcity and artificially inflated prices and taxes of landed property. Thus, followers of the teachings of Henry George should remain forever welcome in the Libertarian Party, and their advice and concerns on taxation and environmental policies should always be heeded.
      Given the attraction of some Green Party members to Georgism and similar proposals, convergence upon geo-libertarianism may even prove to be a strategy for aligning many of the goals of the Libertarian Party and the Green Party; and with them, Debbie Dooley's Green Tea Party, the Tea Party movement of the American right, the Constitution Party, socialist parties, and other independent parties and activist movements.
      The Libertarian Party must be careful to avoid embracing the capitalism and mercantilism of the traditional American right, and instead embrace true free enterprise, heterodox economics, and a critique of capitalism from a position that values property rights. That's why Georgism, the ideas of John Locke, and the influence of Proudhon, Friedman, Paine, and many modern libertarian authors concerned about welfare matters (such as Charles Murray) will and should remain important influences on the party for generations to come.
      We should also keep our minds open to new ways to put into full practice all of our principles on taxes; aiming to craft a tax policy that is fair and equal, and one that affords as much freedom to the taxpayer as possible. Most importantly, we must craft a tax policy that holds government, and its largest polluting and land-hoarding beneficiaries, responsible, for shouldering the burden of funding government. We must levy fines that punish crime, not fees and taxes that deter people from working, trading, and engaging in productive activities that harm nobody.
      To do the opposite is to continue to grow government; to enrich cronies; to make land more expensive; and to keep the poor in poverty. It is to continue down the same path that has given innumerable unsustainable budget deals and irrational forms of taxation.
      Without access to land, and the ability to derive productive value through the use of natural resources, productivity is difficult for most people. As a result, trade, currency, and competition for resources, are all prevalent, when they would most likely not exist if each person were capable of sustaining himself. Poverty and dependence go hand-in-hand; this is what libertarians, conservatives, and Georgists all want to address.
      That's why the Libertarian Party should not shy away from making tentative alliances with those slightly to the party's left, nor should the L.P. shy away from the party of free land and free money.

1. "Libertarian Outreach Successful" (about the Thomas Paine Caucus at the 1998 L.P. convention):

Written on January 22nd, 2017

Edited on January 23rd, 24th, and 29th, 2017

Edited and Expanded on January 25th and February 18th, 2017

See other articles on this blog about Geolibertarianism here:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Due Process Violations in Melissa Calusinski's Murder Case

       I was holding Ben up, off of the floor. It looked like he was about to stand on his tiptoes. I thought he was going to stand up, but when I let go of him, he fell.1 He kind of almost slipped when I dropped him.2 Then his head hit the chair.1, 2

      If asked to summarize concisely why the 2009 death of infant Benjamin Kingan was an accident, then this is what Melissa Calusinski would probably tell us. She was charged with intentional homicide in Ben's death, amidst questions; about malfunctioning X-ray software, and about the presence of previous head injuries to the child.
      Several days ago, Calusinski, age 30, marked eight full years behind bars for first-degree murder; at the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois. If she serves out her entire sentence, she will serve a total of 31 years, being released at the age of 53.

      At the beginning of 2009, Melissa Calusinski worked as an assistant teacher at the Minee Subee in the Park day care center in Lincolnshire, Illinois.2 That January, sixteen-month-old Benjamin Kingan died in her care, evidently due to a head injury sustained while in Calusinski's care.
      The way the State of Illinois defines homicides, Calusinski's first-degree murder conviction carries with it the implication that she intentionally killed Ben, or at least inflicted injuries upon him that she knew would be likely to lead to his death.
      Melissa Calusinski's request for a reversal of her conviction was denied last September. Some time this month (January 2017), her attorney Kathleen Zellner appeals the case again. Zellner is known for defending Steven Avery of Making a Murderer fame.

      Although Melissa Calusinski has been convicted of first-degree murder, there is plenty of reason to believe that she is innocent of the charges against her. It also seems that the detectives who interrogated her may have committed numerous violations of her rights to due process of law.
      Among those are:
1) perjury in the courtroom by detectives, prosecutors, and the state pathologist;
2) wrongful suppression or unreasonable dismissal of evidence, including exculpatory evidence;
3) wrongful admission of an incomplete piece of evidence which may not yet have been examined in full detail by either defense or prosecution;
4) wrongful admission of video evidence that shows a coerced confession;
5) misrepresentation regarding legal rights, by police;
6) false arrest, unlawful detention, wrongful incarceration, improper inhibition of right to locomotion, and / or unlawful seizure of an individual's person, all resulting from Calusinski being locked in the room during her voluntary police interview);
7) deprivation of access to several basic human needs during an inappropriately prolonged interview, by detectives;
8) compounding of emotional trauma that Calusinski was already experiencing, through intimidating behaviors by detectives;
9) defamation of Melissa's character by prosecutors, creation of a bias against the defendant in the courtroom, and unethically using Melissa's low verbal comprehension against her in order to distract the jury from the implications of her lack of knowledge of her legal rights;
10) deprivation of Melissa's income, perhaps as high as $20,000 per year for eight years;
11) wrongful conviction; and
12) a possible double jeopardy violation pertaining to the day care center's liability.
      Here are the facts of the case as I see it.

     Given Calusinski's low verbal comprehension,2, 3 vulnerability to suggestion3, and lack of understanding of her legal rights2, it seems appropriate to suggest that Calusinski would have thus been more easily misled, confused, and intimidated into making a false confession. After denying her guilt at least 79 times, she had become essentially coached by detectives to give a story that would explain the way they perceived the extent of Ben's injuries.
      The facts that Melissa never asked for an attorney1, spoke to detectives without a lawyer present, didn't seem to understand the seriousness of the charges3, asked whether the incident would appear on her criminal record, and thought she'd be allowed to go home after the police interview, should help drive home the previous point.
     The existence of a state of duress would be abundantly evidence if it could be shown that police continued questioning Melissa for longer than she was willing to do so, but it is somewhat unclear whether that is exactly what happened.
     So should the facts that Calusinski stated that she was “terrified” and “emotionally exhausted”7 when her voluntary police interview began, and stated that she hadn't slept much in the 41 hours between Ben's death and the start of the interview. Detectives' actions during the interview appear to have aggravated the emotional trauma that Calusinski was experiencing.

      These facts demonstrate a want of understanding on Melissa Calusinski's part, and that coupled with her vulnerability to suggestion (while police instruct her to parrot-back a lie2) strongly suggest that detectives were intentionally manipulating Calusinski.

      Detectives put Calusinski into a state of duress and coercion by locking her into the small 9” x 12” interrogation room
2. Their locking her in was a violation of the law; Calsinski was there voluntarily, and therefore had the right to leave at any time. Judging by the nine-hour duration of her interrogation4, it seems that she was not aware that she had this right; and that suggests that detectives misrepresented her through omission by failing to inform her of her right to leave.
      Calusinski's state of duress was also compounded by deprivation of access to restroom facilities5 and to food5. It is worth noting that being deprived of food and bathroom access – in addition to Calusinski's stated loss of sleep prior to the interview – can contribute to a state of disorientation, which could have compounded Calusinski's known vulnerability to suggestion.
      It is unclear whether she was deprived of water, how long Calusinski was deprived of food and bathroom access, and whether she also should have been provided with a mattress while in custody for that nine-hour period.
      However, if Melissa truly was deprived of food and restroom access (as JWCDaily reported in March 2015), then it would be appropriate to charge officers Sean Curran and George Filenko for allowing that deprivation to occur through negligence, or perhaps even for deliberately declining to inform Melissa of her rights to stop asking questions and end the voluntary interview at any time.

      Another set of factors which contributed to the creation Calusinski's state of intimidation are the basic facts about the interviewing detectives and the set-up of the interrogation room. Melissa was interviewed, seated
in the corner of a 9” x 12” room7, with two large policemen and a table taking up the vast majority of the room. This seems sufficient to establish that intimidation occurred.
      As if that weren't enough, detectives cursed, shouted, and slammed their fists on the table during this voluntary police interview, according to Kathleen Zellner.
3 Reporter Ruth Fuller called the confession the most troubling confession that she has ever seen.3
      Calusinski has stated that she can't explain why she confessed, nor why she demonstrated slamming Ben to the ground.2 The fact that detectives told her that Ben's injuries were consistent with being thrown from a second-story building onto concrete, would perhaps explain why Calusinski felt it appropriate to demonstrate throwing the infant to the floor, while she has otherwise maintained that she accidentally dropped him, and then he hit his head on a chair.1, 2

      Given the apparent fact that police essentially fed Melissa the kind of story they wanted to hear, it seems that the interviewing and arresting officers likely committed some form of wrongful interrogation or misrepresentation. Calusinski's lack of awareness of her legal rights, apparent lack of understanding of the seriousness of the charges, and her belief that she'd be allowed to go home after she confessed, help demonstrate that misrepresentation probably took place at least once between the beginning of the interview and the booking.
      Detectives likely deliberately misinformed or misled Calusinski regarding her Miranda rights, her right to leave a voluntary interview, and / or her right to have an attorney present. Additionally, it is unclear at what point Melissa was formally placed under police custody, given the facts that she stated she was locked into the room, when she should have been free to leave, having agreed to a voluntary interview.
      It seems fair to say that police lied to her about her rights, at least through omission, if not through positive speech. Through either their action or inaction, Calusinski was deprived of food, restroom access, a mattress, a police interview of reasonable duration, and the ability to make statements under conditions of sound mind and judgment.

      Calusinski's judgment was impaired through deprivations of basic needs through the fault of the police, deprivation of sleep through emotional trauma, and additional emotional trauma and intimidation inflicted by police.
      Aside from simple trauma and intimidation, a demonstrable state of coercion and duress began the first time that Melissa was locked in the interview room. Additionally, wrongful incarceration or wrongful arrest may have occurred; that is, if she was first locked in before she was read her Miranda rights). If that did happen, then Calusinski's natural right of locomotion (i.e., travel) was also probably unduly inhibited, and her individual person was likely improperly seized by police.
      Some of the detectives' statements to Calusinski – such as “that's a bunch of lies”, “that story you're giving us is a load of shit”, and something to the tune of “something else must have happened”3, suggest that detectives were intentionally trying to mislead and confuse Melissa; to coax out of her a confession that would satisfy them. This repetition of blatant lies and concocted stories were not mere suggestions; they were insisted upon, amidst some eighty denials of guilt. Accompanying that insistence were cursing, shouting, and slamming of fists.
      It is worth noting that several interrogation techniques used by officers Curran and Filenko parallel components of the Reid Technique, which can involve officers misleading confusing the suspect into making a false confession by asking them questions and limiting the acceptable answers.
      It seems fair to conclude that police allowed Calusinski to be poorly informed of her rights, and thus misrepresented, through refraining from informing her of her right to leave, and to stop the interview, which was at least 350% longer than even the longest interviews are supposed to be; a fact which is especially unusual given the fact that Calusinski agreed to be interviewed.

      The repeated lies by police and prosecutors were not the only lies that hurt the case for Calusinski's freedom; state pathologist Dr. Eupil Choi may very well have manipulated evidence when he crossed out the word “significant” in an affidavit regarding the head injury which Ben Kingan sustained two months prior to his death.
      When detectives insisted that Calusinski explain Kingan's apparently extremely grievous injury, they told repeated lies about what happened, expecting her to more or less parrot those lies back to them. Her repeated insistence upon her innocence, her statements that she doesn't know why she confessed (nor why she demonstrated practically body-slamming the child onto the floor)2, and the testimony of her co-workers that they never saw her get angry nor frustrated with the children in her care3, all point to the likelihood that police lied repeatedly.
      The fact that Nancy Kallinger stated that she didn't hear screaming nor crying at the time of Ben's death5, suggests that Ben's last moments of life were much less violent than Melissa's body-slamming demonstration made them look. So too does the fact that Ben died foaming at the mouth, in his sleep, laying in a chair. Also, that he died no more than a few days after recovering from a stomach bug, and after suffering multiple previous head injuries; due to bumps, headbanging, and throwing his head back several times shortly before he died.
      Prosecutor Matthew deMartini called Ben's October 2008 injury “microscopic”, while then Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd stated that that injury was visible to the naked eye.3 Prosecutors conceded that that injury occurred, but also said that the injury was “too small to matter”3, attributing Ben's death exclusively to having been thrown to the ground by Calusinski.
      Additionally, Rudd testified that the previous injury could have easily killed Ben by itself; Rudd testified that Ben was a head-banger; and Nancy Kallinger stated that Ben threw his head back, slightly, twice, shortly before he died. It is my opinion that prosecutors inappropriately downplayed, and wrongfully suppressed, evidence of Kingan's previous injuries. They also likely neglected to discover the total number of head injuries that Ben Kingan sustained during the last two months of his life.

      Ben's 95th-percentile abnormal head growth3 probably should have been attributed to brain swelling resulting from multiple head injuries, not dismissed as if it were not significantly outside the normal range of head size. Additionally, Ben's pediatrician may have failed to pay sufficient attention to the October 2008 head injury (which resulted in a bump that day care workers then reported to Ben's mother)3.
      These facts, Dr. Choi's having edited his affidavit, and the failure of the prosecution team to sufficiently brighten an X-ray of Ben's head, all seem to strongly suggest that some key evidence was ignored, incomplete, wrongfully suppressed, and / or manipulated.
      Because the precedent in Brady v. Maryland established that withholding of evidence violates due process when evidence is material to guilt or puishment; it may be appropriate to investigate prosecutors for withholding evidence, as long as it can be demonstrated that the prosecuting team negligently failed to undertake reasonable effort to brighten the X-ray. Whether deliberate or negligent, the darkness of the X-ray resulted in neither defense nor prosecution being able to observe that piece of evidence in full detail; this points to incomplete evidence.
      Given that head injuries can cause vomiting, it seems equally possible that Ben's vomiting could have resulted from either the head injury or the stomach bug. It is unclear whether Kingan was still suffering from a stomach bug in the day or two leading up to his death (which is to say, after he had apparently recovered from the bug, after drinking Pedialyte). It is also unclear whether orange foam coming from Ben's mouth should be attributed to injuries or a virus.
      However, what does seem clear is this; the head-banging in the last several months of Ben's life - in addition to the stomach bug that he had apparently gotten over at some point in the last three days of his life - were both downplayed and contested by prosecutors as factors contributing to Ben's death. I would hope that the examples of evidence mishandling, which I mentioned above, should be enough to reverse Calusinski's conviction and / or prompt a new trial.

      Calusinski deserves to be compensated for each of the due process violations against her, including defamation of her character, and creation of bias against the defendant in the courtroom. In my opinion, she should be awarded at least $160,000, the equivalent of eight years' worth of her 2008 salary. She should also be given an additional $30,000 or more for defamation of character.
      Any physical assaults she sustained while in police custody (of which there is no apparent evidence) should entitle Calusinski to further compensation, as should the exacerbation of her emotional trauma by police. I feel that Calusinski ought to be entitled to a total of perhaps as much as a quarter-million dollars.
      As I just implied, if it could be demonstrated that Calusinski became victim of physical assault at any point while in police custody (which her videotaped coerced confession would have shown, and didn't), then Calusinski should be entitled to compensation.
      But even if there is no evidence of direct initiation of physical force (aside from the initiation of force implied by an unlawful arrest), it could be easily shown that Melissa was physically and emotionally intimidated by the large, strong detectives who interviewed her. Zellner's statement that police cursed, shouted, and slammed their fists on the table, help bolster arguments claiming emotional trauma and confession under intimidation and duress.

      Given that Melissa was apparently the only employee present in the room when Ben died, it does appear that it was appropriate to hold the day care center liable, due to state requirements that at least two adults be in a room with five or more small children. However, as an employee of Minee Subee in the Park, Calusinski was a subsidiary of the company, which is supposed to be exclusively liable for its subsidiary employees.
      Calusinski should never have had criminal charges read against her, because the day care center that represented her had already made a $2 million cash financial settlement with Ben's family. The Supreme Court has ruled that a person can't be convicted of a charge if a civil debt was already paid off with cash; and as an employee and subsidiary, Calusinski cannot be sued – nor held liable responsible for damages – if her employer has already been held liable. Otherwise, a 7th Amendment due process right has been violated.

      It is my opinion that Melissa Calusinski and Kathleen Zellner should:
     1) move for judgment that a false conviction has occurred;
     2) co-author a joint statement that will suffice as new evidence, hopefully prompting a new trial;
     3) move to have the case re-tried;
     4) insist on Melissa's innocence on most charges;
     5) consider striking a plea bargain, pleading guilty to a charge lesser than first-degree murder (such as negligent homicide or negligent manslaughter), and asking for eight years prison time served;
     6) seek to nullify Calusinski's conviction (overturning any case law precedents that it may have created);
     7) have Calusinski invoke her Fifth Amendment freedom from self-incrimination when she speaks to an investigator;
     8) moving to charge police officers and prosecutors with potentially multiple counts of each of the rest of the due process violations listed in the list of twelve above;
     9) suing the prosecutors for declining to move to dismiss the case; and
     10) taking any steps possible to have the prosecutors disbarred.

      Additional new evidence which could be created or produced include new testimony by Calusinski's co-workers; new testimony by outside experts on murder and child head injuries; and a newly lightened, clearly visible, sufficiently contrasted X-ray of Ben Kingan's head (taken the day of his death).
      I would recommend that Melissa; her sister Crystal; Nancy Kallinger; Dr. Eupil Choi; now former Coroner Thomas Rudd; all interviewing and arresting oficers; an additional, new expert witness on brain damage in children; and an new expert on murder (one who is willing to testify about under what circumstances people commit murder), all volunteer - or be subpoenaed - to testify in a new jury trial.
      The defense team should move to suppress the video of Calusinski's nine-hour police interview; on the grounds that it is inadmissible because of the states of confusion, intimidation, deprivation, and duress. Any evidence obtained during searches which may have followed arrest according to improper procedure should also be suppressed, due to the doctrine of the fruit of the poisonous tree.
      There are additional facts which suggest not only deliberate misrepresentation, but professional incompetence, on the part of the prosecuting team; this is a piece of information that the defense should emphasize in addition to the possible perjury and misrepresentation committed by the prosecutors. Calusinski should sue her prosecutors for refusing to move for dismissal of the case against her. Successfully drawing attention to the numerous failures and lies by prosecution could aid in an effort to get the prosecutors disbarred.

      I would also recommend that Calusinski and her defense team consider doing nine additional things.
      First, Calusinski might consider sending an apology letter to the Kingan family, expressing regret for her role in Ben's death (that is, if she has not yet done so). Calusinski should be careful to avoid implying that she has remorse stemming from guilt of first-degree murder, but some expression of remorse for her own negligence would likely be appropriate.
      Second, Calusinski's defense should discover exactly what physical evidence Calusinski was originally indicted on. If there was no physical evidence, or if it is unclear what Calusinski was first indicted on, a violation of precedent set by Terry v. Ohio may have occurred.
      Third, Calusinski might consider hiring a male to defend her, rather than her current female attorney. The image of a distinguished man defending an innocent young woman might prove to be more palatable to juries than the image of two women working together to put a first-degree murder convict out on the street.
      Fourth, Calusinski's defense should prepare to appeal her case as many as four times. The defense team should attempt to get two hung juries in a row, and it should appeal every single due process violation, in order to avoid having their request for a new trial denied.
      Fifth, Calusinski should exercise her right to decline to be present at pre-motion hearings. Calusinski should only testify at trials, because at pre-motion hearigs, her statements may be used by prosecution as evidence against her. She should be able to concisely and clearly articulate why Ben's fall was an accident, and why she confessed when she knew she was innocent (or negligent at the very worst).
      Sixth, the defense should move for a change of venue to a new jurisdiction, due to potential bias in juror selection among those in the north suburbs of Chicago who may have heard of the case, especially given the coverage of her case on national major network television. The defense should appeal any and all judgments by the judge (regarding voir dire, i.e., jury selection) which could be construed as collusion with the prosecutor to dismiss jurors without sufficient rationale.
      Seventh, the defense might consider moving to dismiss jurors who have children, because the presence of too many parents on the jury might create a bias against Calusinski.
      Eighth, the defense team must ensure that the jury is fully informed of the rights of the accused; and of the rights of the jury to determine not only the facts of the case, but also whether the law itself is just and whether it is being applied appropriately.
      Ninth and last, the defense should ask an expert on murder to give testimony regarding how often adults commit murder in broad daylight, indoors, in close proximity to other adults.

      Finally, the defense must passionately and meticulously insist that Calusinski has been wrongfully convicted, and it must demonstrate that the last eight years of Melissa Calusinski's life have more or less amounted to deliberate routine misrepresentation of her rights; deprivation of her needs, livelihood, and comfort; violations of her due process rights; and defamation of her character.
      All options should be on the board; including suing or disbarring prosecutors, moving for the firing of the detectives who interviewed Melissa, and moving for the firing of the medical examiner (Dr. Choi). Defense should also prepare to collect evidence that the judge and prosecutors are attempting to mislead the jurors about their rights.
      The fact that Lake County, Illinois has a history of being reluctant to pay settlements after admitting to false convictions and false imprisonments, shows that a grave injustice will have been committed against Calusinski if her appeals fail.
      Melissa's freedoms of self-ownership and travel, her 5th and 7th Amendment (if not others as well) rights to a fair trial and due process of law, and her rights to be arrested and interrogated according to proper procedure, were likely all violated by detectives and arresting officers.
      Even if Melissa Calusinski's negligence caused Ben Kingan's death, she has suffered enough due process violations, and served enough time behind bars, for her negligence. After spending the entire Obama administration in prison, she deserves justice, and she deserves her normal life back.

1. “Melissa Calusinski: Detective “Made a Mistake””,, February 24th, 2016
2. “Melissa Calusinski: Was a Day Care Worker Coerced into a Murder Confession?”,, July 18th, 2015
3. “Blaming Melissa”, 48 Hours, CBS News, December 17th, 2016
4. “Daycare Worker Melissa Calusinski Reveals Why She Confessed to Murdering a Toddler: ‘I Was Terrified’”; People Magazine, October 13th, 2016
5. “Is Deerfield “Killer” Innocent? “48 Hours” Suggests So”,, March 4th, 2015
6. “Free Melissa Calusinski”,, accessed December 18th, 2016
7. “Questioning Melissa Calusinski”,, February 28th, 2015

Author's Note:

     Court documents reveal that Calusinski was not locked in the interrogation room, although there is plenty of reason to suspect that she believed she was locked in, which would help account for behavior if, indeed, the confession was coerced. 
Any person who reasonably believes they are being detained, are, for all intents and purposes, being detained; and police and private security guards alike subscribe to that code.

     Additionally, it is apparent from court documents that Calusinski had access to food during the interrogation; however, she was not eating at the time because she was distraught and could not bring herself to eat. Calusinski apparently did have water and restroom access at the time.

 Written on January 19th and 20th, 2017

Based on Notes Taken on December 17
th, 20th, and 31st, 2016

Author's Notes Added on June 18th, 2017 and February 27th, 2019

Thanks to Matt Johnson for his assistance and advice