Monday, May 22, 2006

We're not making this up...

LPIN State Chair Mark Rutheford made some interesting observations about seatbelt laws on his blog last weekend. Please allow me to relate a story that took place in Hagerstown a couple of weeks ago.

A friend of mine went to sleep the other night with his truck parked in his driveway. The next morning, when he discovered that it had been stolen, he called the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, who informed him that they would send an officer out. Two days and several phone calls later, no one from the sheriff's department had ever appeared, but my friend was told that if he would come into the office and file a report, he could then buy a copy of that report for a dollar, and for three dollars the department would fax a copy of the report to his insurance company.

My friend was a little late getting to their office, though. He had to pass through a couple of seatbelt checkpoints on the way.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What about Bob?

Although not as severe as the type his opponent in the Republican primary endorses, Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Garton certainly took a flogging in the May 2nd election, and continues to receive a literary flogging from writers around the state. And deservedly so. His refusal to admit to the absurdity of the health care plan that our legislators enjoy was quite possibly the major cause of his defeat.
But as voters and taxpayers, we need to remember that every legislator knew about this blatant misuse of public funds, but not one was opposed to it before it became public knowledge.
It’s called situational ethics. Voters can’t put any more faith in that type of official than they can in one that chases prevailing public opinion to decide what is right or wrong.
If the people we have been sending to represent us in Indianapolis or Washington base their opinion of right or wrong on whether or not they get caught, then we need to send in some new people.
Hoosiers started doing a little House (and Senate) cleaning on May 2nd. They need to do a little more on November 7th.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thanks Mom, I needed that.

While Kentucky may be the state of fast horses and beautiful women, I have ample evidence that Indiana has produced at least one woman that is in possession of both attributes. In about my eighth year in this world on the Henry County farm where I was raised to questionable adulthood, I both witnessed and participated unwillingly in an event that would become a Millville legend.

Growing up on a farm with seven brothers and sisters entailed certain responsibilities and chores that were delegated by our parents. One summer day after we finished our dinner, (we ate breakfast, dinner and supper in that order, I never heard of lunch until I made it to Hagerstown), my Mom informed me that it was my turn to help wash the dishes. Now being eight years old, and producing just enough testosterone to get into trouble, I decided that doing the dishes was woman’s work and that I would have no part of it.

My plan, though not terribly well thought out, was to run across the hayfield and hide out in the woods near the papaw patch, and then sneak back to the barn by milking time so as to remain in Dad’s good graces. I’m not sure what I would have done when the milking was finished, and it was time to go in for supper. As I said, the plan wasn’t one of my better efforts.

The latter aspects of said plan proved moot, anyway. I never considered that Mom would give chase, and even if she did, I was sure I had little to fear. I was a rugged outdoorsman, fleet of foot, while she was an old woman, probably at least 30, and barely 5 foot tall on a good hair day. Imagine my horror when she not only overcame my several hundred yards headstart while wearing an apron and carrying a flyswatter, but also passed me, turned my direction back to the house with a few well placed swats, and matched me swat for step all the way back to the kitchen.

To this day, if Mom reaches for a flyswatter, I head for the kitchen and start drawing the water.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I'm Toast

I've enjoyed writing since I had a poem published in the local paper when I was in the fifth grade. However, when it came to speaking in public, I was never very comfortable. In an effort to remedy that situation, I have joined Toastmasters, a group dedicated to improving public speaking skills. I'm giving my introductory "Ice Breaker" speech tonight, and couldn't resist mixing a little politics in with it. Does that make me a bad person? Anyway, here it is:

Mr. Toastmaster, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for allowing me this opportunity. I am a carpenter by trade, and a politician by necessity. The politician portion of my life has created many instances when I am required to speak in front of a crowd of people. That is a task I have never been comfortable with, and in the next few minutes, you are going to become painfully aware of why I felt it was necessary to join Toastmasters.

I would like to give you a little background on some of the events that led me to my present station in life.

I was born right here in Henry County, and raised on a small farm near Millville. I was the second of eight children. At an early age it was expected and accepted that the children would help with the farm chores. We drank milk from our own cows, ate eggs from our own chickens and bacon from our own pigs.

Outside of an occasional visit to Saffer’s General Store in Mooreland or Kelly’s Ranch Market in Millville, or sometimes when the Jewel Tea man stopped in, we were pretty much self-sufficient. I remember my Grandpa used to say that we were the type of people that liked to “pick up our own sticks and kill our own snakes.”

That self-sufficiency that my parents and grandparents taught me stayed with me into my young adult years, and in 1974, I started my own construction business, which I still operate today. I’ve spent 32 years driving nails. I said I was self-sufficient, I didn’t say I was smart.

This concept of looking out for yourself runs in the family. My wife Susan owns an upholstery shop and a furniture store. When she was elected Judge of the Hagerstown Court in 2003, she drew the first paycheck that either of us had seen in over 25 years. My two oldest children worked and saved and paid their own way through college, and my youngest son, who works with me now and has since he was eight years old, started a home remodeling business when he was junior in high school.

By now you are probably wondering “Where in the world is he going with this. To tell you the truth, I’ve been wondering that myself. I think the point I would try to make is how my upbringing eventually led me to the Libertarian Party. The libertarians are strong supporters of personal freedom and personal responsibility.

I was raised by Republicans, so I naturally thought that I was a Republican, and I had always believed they were the friends of small business and limited government. As long as I could run my business without much interference I was fairly happy, and besides, any I could always blame any undue regulation or excessive tax on some Democrat somewhere.

That frame of mind started unraveling in the mid 1990’s. The building department in Wayne county, where I have resided since 1971, for years was operated by one little man. He would drive around the county visiting with contractors, and as long as nobody made any grievous errors in judgment, and as long the customer was happy with the builder’s work, he was not inclined to get involved in the private affairs of the public. I didn’t like the fact that our county commissioners were wasting our tax dollars paying this man a salary and buying his gas so he could drive around all day, but as long as he mostly left us alone, I had resigned myself to put up with him.

But, as I mentioned, sometime around 1996, my Republican county council and commissioners decided that they were going to “upgrade” the Wayne County Building Department. They increased the budget tenfold, hired a woman from Cincinnati with a codebook and a tape measure, but no knowledge of construction, to run the department, and generally made life a living hell for homeowners and builders in the county. I helped to lead a group of those homeowners and builders in a quest to return some sanity to the department. The new inspector was gone within a year, but not without a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by a lot of citizens in the county. I’ve always felt that this was the series of events that started to cause me to question if the Republican Party as it existed now was going to be able to satisfy my needs.

It was quite by coincidence that during this time I happened across the coverage of a Libertarian Party convention on CNN. I had never heard of the LP before, but it only took a few minutes of listening to a speech by Presidential candidate Harry Browne for me to decide that “hey, these guys actually get it”. Mr. Browne’s views on a constitutionally limited government, and what that government’s role in our lives should be, mirrored what my thoughts had been for years. I had thought that I was crazy to have these thoughts. Now, maybe I was crazy. But at least I found out that there were other people out there that were just as crazy as I was.

That exposure to the Libertarian Party started me to studying the libertarian philosophy. It is a philosophy of freedom and the responsibility that must accompany that freedom. It is based on the principles of freedom and responsibility that this country was founded on 230 years ago. And it is based on the principles that I was raised on 50 years ago.

It’s about freedom. That’s why I’m proud to be an American, and that’s why I’m proud to be a Libertarian.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

When you wish upon the Star

For some reason or reasons, Libertarians have recently incurred the literary wrath of a couple of Indianapolis Star columnists. Matthew Tully is distressed that Libertarians would like to be included in Star’s political coverage.

Dan Carpenter feels that the Libertarians, a party with “negligible policy impact”, should somehow share it’s ballot access with the Green Party. I’m not sure how that could be accomplished, but if Mr. Carpenter comes up with a plan, I’m all for it.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me state that I am a Libertarian, and I’m running for office on the Libertarian ticket. And I’m not “whining” about the lack of media coverage we receive. Most of the newspapers located in east central Indiana have been quite fair in the coverage they have afforded us. What I would like to address is Mr. Tully and Mr. Carpenter’s concerns as to the relevance of the Libertarians.

Admittedly, our progress statewide and in some of the metropolitan areas is not progressing as rapidly as we would prefer, but progress is being made. In my county, Wayne, it is not uncommon for Libertarians to garner 25 to 30% of the votes. While that may not constitute a win, it is a move in a positive direction, and certainly recognizes more voter support than the 2 or 3% Mr. Tully refers too.

In Hagerstown, the Libertarian candidate for Town Court Judge defeated the seated Republican in a heads up race. In a county dominated by Republicans, this was considered no small accomplishment, and while it might not carry the weight of a win at the state level, it does demonstrate possibilities beyond expected outcomes.

Concerning policy impact, Wayne County also has Libertarians on two town plan commissions. Citizens can depend on Libertarians on these commissions to support private property rights every time. Even if it inconveniences the town fathers, and even when members from other parties think that the desires of the town out weigh the rights of individuals.

And Wayne County is not alone in its efforts to protect your rights. All across Indiana, the Libertarian Party steps up whenever the government feels its interests trump the rights of property owners.

From Laporte County, to Hamilton County, to Floyd County, people can depend on the Libertarians to be the only party that will consistently oppose forced annexations and smoking bans on private property. The Libertarians are the only party that consistently and honestly calls for an end to property taxes, and they are the only party that consistently calls for reducing the size, scope and cost of government.

Is there a place in our political system for a party that is uncompromising in it’s quest for limited government and individual freedom? Is there a place in that system for a party that is unapologetic in its support for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? I think there is. I think there has to be. I also think it will be a sad day in our history when there isn’t.