Sunday, July 29, 2007

Disposition of the pillage, 2007...

After a great deal of hoopla, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the new farm bill. It takes $286 billion from taxpayers and gives it to someone else. Some of it will go to farmers, both alive and deceased, some will go to provide people, both needy and not so needy, with food stamps. About $60 billion will go pay people not to farm, or to help them figure out how to make fuel out of hog poop.

The hoopla wasn't about whether or not government has the right to re-distribute our money. It was about who would get the money.

Walter Williams hit the nail on the head:

"Conservatives and liberals are kindred spirits as far as government spending is concerned. First, let's make sure we understand what government spending is. Since government has no resources of its own, and since there's no Tooth Fairy handing Congress the funds for the programs it enacts, we are forced to recognize that government spending is no less than the confiscation of one person's property to give it to another to whom it does not belong -- in effect, legalized theft. Liberals believe government should take people's earnings to give to poor people. Conservatives disagree. They think government should confiscate people's earnings and give them to farmers and insolvent banks. The compelling issue to both conservatives and liberals is not whether it is legitimate for government to confiscate one's property to give to another, the debate is over the disposition of the pillage." -- Walter Williams in his book All It Takes Is Guts

Libertarians think you should make the decision about who gets your money.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hey, that's not my job!!.....

Whenever I need some plumbing work done, I call Ed. That's what he does. I wouldn't call him if I needed my teeth worked on. He doesn't do that. It works out well that I know what Ed does. And what he doesn't do. That way I don't waste time calling a plumber when I really need a dentist, or vice versa.

I attended a workshop hosted by the Wayne County Council the other evening, along with about 100 other Wayne County taxpayers, a state senator, a state representative, a mayor, and several township officials. The Council was seeking input on adopting the Local Option Income Tax. Oversimplified, it's part of a plan to tranfer part of the burden from property tax payers to income tax payers. The Council made sure the audience understood that this isn't a tax cut or increase, but just a change in where they get the money. And the annual budget increase is still figured in.

Still, there were a couple of suggestions from the audience as to how spending could be cut, and taxes could be reduced. I'm not sure they understood who they were talking too. These were elected Republicans and Democrats. Good people for the most part, I'm sure. But they don't cut spending or reduce taxes.

In order to do that, they would have to reduce the size of government. That's not something they do either. They might shuffle the tax burden from one group of citizens to another, or from big business to small business, or from manufacturing to retail. But they don't cut spending. And they don't reduce taxes.

Now, I'm sure they have a place in society, among people that want more government and higher taxes. But people that want less government and lower taxes need to find a political party and candidates committed to reducing government and taxes.

So we don't waste our time asking somebody for something they can't deliver.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The times they are a-changin'...

After forty some odd years, I finally made it to a Dylan concert the other evening. Quite a night to say the least. It had been a long time since I'd been to an outdoor concert. I think the last one was when I took my oldest son, (he was about 14 at the time) and some of his friends to a Hootie and the Blowfish show. He returned the favor by taking me to see Dylan. (I hope he enjoyed seeing Darius as much as I enjoyed seeing Bob.)

A lot has changed since the concert attending days of my youth. For starters, when we walked up to the gate, all of the attendees were being frisked before entering. We were instructed by a guard moving through the crowd to hold the contents of our pockets in our hands as we walked through the gate. As luck would have it, I had my pants on. And since I had my pants on, I also had my pocket knife with me. I wasn't looking forward to creating an incident, and there wasn't time to take the knife back to the car, so I just held it in my closed hand while the crack Homeland Security detail checked my pockets and then waved me on through. I felt all safe and warm. After we found our spot on the lawn, I was pleased to learn that fellow libertarian Jimmie Vaughan was the opening act. Great job, great blues.

Dylan is a little harder to critique. The man is a legend, and he's one of the mainstays on the sound system in my shop. But in my mind he's mostly a poet, and when I listen to him at home "every one of those words rang true, and glowed like burning coals, pouring off of every page like it was written on my soul". So I was mildly tangled up in blue when the instruments overpowered the vocals.

And I know they are his songs, and he can change the tune and perform them however he likes, but I've listened to Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 at least a 1000 times. Sunday night he was in the third chorus be for I figured out what he was singing. But before the night was over he redeemed himself with a couple of great versions of "I shall be released" and "All along the watchtower". Mixed in with some of his new stuff, and a 2 hour nonstop show, I felt like a kid again, except when I tried to sit down in or get up out of those darn beach chairs!

All in all, a great night and a great concert. I hope I get a chance to see him again before one of us dies. Hopefully in a coffeshop with a few people and an acoustic guitar.


I did make a couple of observations about the way concerts have changed, or remained the same in 40 years.
I noticed that the roadies are a lot older than they used to be, and a lot of the pony tails are gray.
The tie dyed shirts looked suspiciously mass produced.
And I think the no bra look loses some of its appeal on some women when they get close to sixty years old or 350 pounds. Or both.
There's no way I'm paying $40.00 for a T-shirt. I don't care whose picture is on it.
And I'm not sure some of the people at the concert realized we're fighting a war on drugs. Either that or they're on the other side.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

We're from the government, and we're here to help...

"If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life."...Henry David Thoreau

I see that Mitch Daniels and some of our legislators have decided to try to help straighten out this property tax mess. Now there's a scary thought. I'm not convinced that a politicians thought processes are really going to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.

I saw an example of that thought process in my hometown a couple of weeks ago. A local restaurant encountered some difficulties with it's cash flow, and needed to raise some emergency funds. Just about anybody that has been in business could certainly sympathize with that. The restaurant is very important to the small town's economy, and since most of the normal channels for obtaining funding were unavailable, a movement was started to raise the funds privately. A noble gesture, too be sure.

A couple of plans surfaced, one from a couple of politicians, and one from a local business person. Keep in mind the object was to raise $16,000.00 to help the restaurant.

The poiticians' plan involved issuing notes for $1000.00 each. The holders of the notes would receive the principle and 6% interest on that note in two years, and in addition would also receive two free meals a week for as long as they held the note.
Doing a little math then says that each $1000.00 note has the potential of costing the restaurant $5228.00. Caught up in the fever of helping out, 51 notes were sold at last count, so the need for $16,000.00 ended up saddling the business with a $266,628.00 liability. How's that for helping out?

The business person's plan was to sell $16,000.00 worth of gift certificates, giving the restaurant the cash it needed, with only the obligation to honor the certificates. Admittidly not as flashy as the politicians' plan, but probably more in keeping with the original plan, which started out being to help the restaurant.

So forgive me if I get a little worried when politicians say they're going to help us out.

I've about had as much of their help as I can stand.

Monday, July 09, 2007

"Guess I'm doin' fine"...

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm in the autumn of my life, but I'm certainly at least in late summer. It's gone by pretty fast, with only a few minor glitches, I guess. The Lord blessed me with parents that have stood by me through those glitches, and a wife that has put up with me for 31 years. My children and their spouses all seem to get along well, and my granddaughters all live within a few miles of home.

I've also had a job that I've enjoyed doing for the past 36 years, so when it comes right down to it, I guess I don't really have any complaints.

There are a few things, though, that I never did get done. I always wanted to learn to play the guitar. Never got around to it. I had good intentions of restoring that 1948 Ford truck. A lack of time and ability ended that.

One thing I really wanted to do in my younger days was to take in a Bob Dylan concert, and you would think that in forty some years of him touring I would have been able to make that connection. But like the guitar and the truck, it just never clicked.

But a couple of months ago, by a simple twist of fate, my oldest son called and said he was taking me to a Dylan concert in Indianapolis this July. I'm excited that I'll finally get a chance to see him perform, but I was also a little leary, imagining that I would probably be the oldest person in attendance.

But then I realized that at worst, I'll only be the second oldest person in attendance.

Don't think twice, it's alright.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The lesser of two evils...

When my old pal Stinky Wilmont came of age, he took up with a woman of questionable moral character. Now today, I wouldn't consider that any of my business, but at the time, I felt compelled to offer Stinky the benefit of my advice. However, when I told him that his new girl was reported to be the biggest harlot in town, he replied "Well, this ain't a very big town".

I suppose he had a point. She probably wasn't as bad as some others. Still, I never really thought that was much of a defense.

We've recently been hearing a lot of the same rationale from the people that are defending George Bush and his decision to commute the sentence of Scooter Libby. The argument seems to be that since Bill Clinton pardoned Mark Rich and 139 other people on his last day in office, then George isn't as bad now as Bill was then.

For a long time we've been hearing that George Bush isn't as bad as Bill Clinton was, and that Mitch Daniels isn't as bad as Joe Kernan was, and that the Republicans aren't as bad as the Democrats are.

Of course, there is another group out there just as insistent that Bill wasn't as bad as George is, and that Joe wasn't as bad as Mitch is, and that the Democrats aren't as bad as the Republicans are.

I honestly can't tell much difference, and from the shape of things I'd have to say I'm not overly impressed with any of them.

What I'd really like to see is a few candidates that we could vote for because they are honestly interested in restoring the republic and the Constitution, not just a bunch of politicians that we have to vote for because they're not as bad as the opposition.

The lesser of two evils is still evil.