Saturday, January 26, 2008

Define "unbeatable"....

I read an article in the Courier-Times last Wednesday about the property tax debate and the role Tom Saunders is playing in it. Tom is the State Representative for District 54. He's also a friend of mine, and he was my winning opponent in the 2006 election. We don't share the same views on the role government should play in the citizens lives, which is why I decided to run against him in the last election. Nothing personal, just a difference in opinion.

In the article, Richard Cockrum, a governmental affairs consultant from Indianapolis, referred to Mr. Saunders as "unbeatable". Again, nothing personal, but I hope Mr.Cockrum is wrong.

Admittedly, the redistricting that took place in 2000 made District 54 a safe-haven for Republicans. And incumbents that run are typically re-elected 96 to 98 percent of the time. But our form of government loses something when our elected officials become "unbeatable". They need to have at least a little fear in the back of their minds that the public might not put up with the growth of government spending year after year forever.

Tom won the last election with 46 percent of the vote. I'm not sure that's a sign of being unbeatable. At least I hope not.

And if our legislators come out of this session without a plan to eliminate property taxes, they all deserve to be beat.

And then they deserve to be voted out of office.

Nothing personal, though.

More on Chicken Little...

It looks like Indiana may have dodged the bullet on the statewide smoking ban this year, although I fear it may have been due to a lack of time rather than from a renewed respect for private property rights. The jury is still out on what, if anything, Richmond is going to adopt, but whatever happens, I doubt that we will see a significant change in the number of deaths, or the number of business failures.

I wrote about smoking bans and seatbelt laws in 2006 on this site , and since then some of the things I feared would happen, did happen. No, the sky didn't fall and the world didn't end, but the government gained a little more power, and we lost a little more freedom.

Here's the article: ... ially.html

"Smoking bans of some degree certainly seem to be the rage all over Indiana. Delaware County is currently considering a pretty restrictive ban of it's own. When the Muncie Star-Press claimed in its February 12th editorial, “The sky won’t fall when smoking stops”, the paper was correct. If the Delaware County commissioners pass a county wide workplace smoking ban, the sky won’t fall, the world won’t come to an end, and for the most part, most of our lives will continue without requiring too much adjustment. For those of us who don’t smoke or own a business, it won’t require any adjustment at all.

The sky didn’t fall when it became a law that motorists must wear seat belts when driving their cars, and it won’t fall when they pass a law that we have to wear them when we are driving a truck. The sky doesn’t fall when you pull up to one of those seat-belt checkpoints, and it probably wouldn’t fall if the police were to inquire about your destination and purpose for going there.

It probably wouldn't fall if a law was passed that required newspapers to obtain approval of stories that were critical of public officials before they were printed.

Like so many other things we have come to accept as long as it promotes for the “general welfare and greater good”, the sky didn’t fall when the Supreme Court ruled that the government could seize your property for any reason it deemed necessary. Of course, whether or not the sky fell on that one might depend upon whether or not it was your property that was being seized.

The sky didn’t fall when the government started taking 1% of our income and property to redistribute as it saw fit, and it didn’t fall when that amount was increased to 10%, or 20%, or 30% or even when it reached its current level of nearly 50%. It may not fall if our ‘contributions’ climb even higher, as long as we are convinced our resources are being used to promote the “general welfare and greater good”.

This smoking ban, like all smoking bans, is not the end of the world. But, if the Star-Press is correct in its assertion that restaurants that have self-imposed bans in place are seeing an increase in business and profits, a government enforced ban is unnecessary. And if other businesses find more profit in increased productivity and lower health care costs, we will see voluntary smoking bans in these businesses as well. That’s the way business works.

No, the sky won’t fall if Delaware County passes this smoking ban. And it won’t fall if they pass another seat-belt law, and it won’t fall if they adopt another income tax, or another sales tax, or another food and beverage tax.

It’s not going to fall all at once, but it is going to sag just a little more."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Are you sure that's enough?....

I see that the federal government is considering sending taxpayers up to $800.00 apiece to help boost the economy. Now there's a plan!

But the auto industry and home building sectors are among those suffering the worst, and I'm not sure $800.00 would have much effect on those markets, unless we all bought one of those new cars from India.

Maybe if they would send everybody $50,000.00 we could all buy a really nice car. Or better yet, why not just send everybody a million dollars, and we could buy a new car and a new house, and we could just retire and quit worrying about everything.

Just a thought.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let's get this right....

The Palladium-Item stated today in its editorial that the proposed smoking ordinance should address conflicting rights. In actuality, rights cannot conflict. What the proposed ordinance would do is prevent certain property owners from exercising their rights without fear of prosecution.

And while I'd like to see everyone quit smoking, I'd also like to see everyone's rights protected.

Here's a column I wrote a couple of years ago concerning rights. It still applies, regardless of what any branch of government decides:

The recent uproar over certain pharmacists’ refusal to provide “morning-after” birth control pills due to moral objections showcases the misconception of rights that many people have. Does a pharmacist have the right to refuse to sell a product he or she finds morally objectionable, or does a woman have the right to purchase a drug that the FDA has approved for sale? The answer to both questions is yes.

Oddly enough, many of our elected officials seem unable to grasp the concept of rights. In California, legislators are drafting legislation that would require pharmacists to provide any lawful drug, regardless of their moral or religious beliefs. Apparently they believe they can give someone the right to force someone else to do something that person finds objectionable. At the same time, legislators in Washington are drafting legislation that would require employers to make allowances for their employee’s religious beliefs. Apparently they believe they can give an employee ( perhaps a pharmacist), the right to refuse their employer’s orders, (perhaps an order to sell birth control pills), without a fear of repercussion, so long as the refusal is made on religious grounds. So what happens next? Does the pharmacist go to jail for not providing the drug, or does the pharmacy owner go to jail for forcing him to make the sale or firing him for not making the sale?

Maybe the solution lies in the realization that government cannot grant rights, that every person in the world is born with the same natural rights, regardless of the type of government they live under.

Every person has the right to purchase what someone else wishes to sell. If your pharmacist decides he will sell Bayer Aspirin but not Tylenol, you have the right to get mad, you have the right to walk out the door and find a pharmacist that sells Tylenol. You don’t have the right to force the offending pharmacist to sell Tylenol.

When an employee goes to work for an employer, they come to an agreement. The employee agrees to perform a service in return for benefits. The employer agrees to provide benefits in return for services provided. When they can no longer agree on services and benefits, they have the right to part ways in search of other employers and employees. This is our system of free enterprise and contract law. It works well with minimum government intrusion. Government has no reason to step in until someone tries to forcibly prevent you from going to another pharmacy, or until an employer defrauds an employee, or until an employee defrauds an employer.

Your rights cannot conflict with someone else’s rights. If something you decide to do requires or leads to the initiation of force against another person, then it isn’t a right.

Yes, you have the right to join with any number of people and pool your resources for your retirement. No, you don’t have the right to force someone to join your group.

Yes, you have the right defend yourself against violence. No, you don’t have the right to initiate violence.

Yes, you have the right to donate to any cause or charity you choose. No, you don’t have the right to force anybody else to donate.

Yes, you have the right to seek an education. No, you don’t have the right to take someone’s home if they decide they don’t want to pay for your education.

Yes, you have the right to own and control your property. No you don’t have the right to control someone else’s property.

Yes, you have the right to prevent people from smoking on your property. No, you don’t have the right to prevent people from smoking on their property.

Rights belong to individuals. While every person in a group has rights, belonging to a group does not give you more rights than a single person.

This group of people that is our government needs to realize they cannot grant or take away our rights. They can only protect those rights, or prevent us from practicing them. I’d prefer a government that protects them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Til death do us part, if this works out...

If we make it until June, Susan and I will have been married 32 years. It was nip and tuck about whether she was going to keep me for a few years, but I'll have to admit that I've felt pretty good about my chances lately. But I may have hit a snag today.

About a month ago, Susan received a letter from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles informing her that the information on her drivers license and her social security account didn't match, and unless the discrepancy was rectified within 30 days, he drivers license would become invalid. It seems her social security account was still under her maiden name. I don't know why. (I suspect that years ago she was hesitant to make the change until she was sure things were going to work out.)

Anyway, having some experience dealing with both agencies before, Susan took her drivers license, her birth certificate, our marriage license, a note from her mother and several hundred dollars in small, unmarked bills to the local social security office. After standing in line, dodging a security guard, taking a number, and standing in line some more, she was informed by a clerk behind the counter that she actually needed a marriage certificate instead of a marriage license.

It seems that certificate is buried in some filing cabinet in Eaton, Ohio, and there is some question about being able to locate it. So she's looking at all of her options, and I'm afraid one of them might be dumping me, leaving things the same at the SS office, and changing her name back at the BMW. I did find out that if the male and female designation was different between the two agencies, a couple of transgender groups have convinced the BMV to overlook that discrepancy. I doubt it will do the same for married women.

So I don't know how all of this will work out, but for my part, I've decided to be on my best behavior when I'm around my wife.

At least until June.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I attended a town meeting last night where our state representative was taking public comments about how the legislature should address the property tax issue in the upcoming session. I was glad to see that I wasn't the only person in attendance that would like to see property taxes eliminated completely. I was also glad to see other people suggesting that government spending needed to be trimmed.

When one gentleman made such a suggestion, our representative asked if he would be willing to give up police and fire protection to achieve those cuts.

It must be the first lesson of "Politics 101". If someone mentions cutting spending, immediately try to scare the public by suggesting that any cuts would first effect police protection, like any cuts in education would first result in teacher layoffs.

How about a little something from "Politics 202". How about if we start cutting spending on the non-essential things that our government shouldn't be involved in in the first place. Things like hiking trails, swimming pools and golf courses, convention centers and sports stadiums, not to mention all of those tax dollars they give away to multi-million dollar companies. And how about spending our education dollars more on education and less on entertainment.

That's not so scary, is it?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

And the winner is...

I've always been a little suspect of our country's efforts to spread democracy to other nations. It's not that I have anything against democracy, as long as constitutional protections and individual rights remain intact. But one of the things that makes democracy work in the United States is the knowledge that after the election, the loser will step aside, no matter how he or she feels about the winner. We've all seen some nasty campaign claims give way to some humble concession speeches.

That isn't the case in many places around the world. In many places the losing candidate or his supporters declare themselves too be a general, and start shooting at the winner. We're seeing it now in Kenya, and we've seen it in the past in Iraq. I suspect we'll see it in the future in Iraq, too. The world is full of sore losers, I guess.

Up in Anderson right now, Mayor Kevin Smith is refusing to step down for the newly elected Mayor Kris Ockomon. Apparently he thinks there is a length of residency problem. Maybe there is. I just hope they can get things settled without too much fighting.

And before the troops go in.