Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are you ready?....

Being grandparents lets you relive a lot of the experiences you had when you were raising your own children. Some pleasant, some not so pleasant. My wife and I are now embarking on our second round of “potty training”. While I have never been overly enthusiastic about changing diapers, especially with the rinsing and pinning required with the cloth diapers of my early parenthood, I did find that I tolerated that chore better than the dreaded cry of, “Daddy, come wipe me!”

But I imagine I’ll get through it. I did the last time around, anyway. I do remember getting some advice from parents and in-laws concerning the timing of the training. The general consensus seemed to be that there was no use starting before the child was ready, and that different children decided they were ready at different ages and stages. I know that applied to my children, and I have a strong suspicion it will apply to my grandchildren as well.

I suppose that’s how things have worked all along. Different individuals tolerate and react to things differently. Back at Millville Grade School, classmates would pester my old buddy Stinky Wilmont mercilessly, and sometimes he would make it through an entire recess without decking one of them. His brother Gilbert lost his composure much easier, and most of his tormenters moved on pretty shortly.

Our Founding Fathers came to this country and put up with British rulers for 150 years before deciding that it was time for a change. Of course, some came to that decision sooner than others, and some never came to it at all. It took the French a little longer to start their revolution, but once they got it started, they kept it going a little longer, at least the ones that didn’t lose their heads over it did

According to a recent Rasmussen Report survey, the American people may be ready for another change. The number of people who self-identify as Republicans has fallen to just over 30% since the 2004 elections, while those who self-identify as Democrats dropped to about 36%. I don’t know how most of them are identifying themselves politically now, or even if they are identifying themselves at all. I do know where a few of them have ended up.

Bob Barr, a former Republican U.S. Representative from Georgia, and former United States Attorney , has left the GOP and joined the Libertarian Party. There’s a better than average chance that he is going to seek the party’s presidential nomination. There’s also a better than average chance he’ll get it.

Mike Gravel, the, uhhh, colorful Democratic Senator from Alaska, has left his old party, joined the Libertarians, and thrown his hat into the LP presidential ring, although getting the nomination might be a bit of an uphill battle.

The LP has seen significant growth recently, with membership increasing 14% in the first half of 2007. Gallup Surveys, Pew Research Center and the American National Election Studies find that about 14% of voting age Americans now hold libertarian values of fiscal conservatism and social tolerance.
Maybe not yet enough to win a presidential election, but certainly enough to influence the outcome of that election. And certainly enough to bring about a change.

And we all know that elected officials, like diapers, need to be changed once in a while.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Does anybody really know what time it is?...

Does any body really care?

Apparently. At a time when a lot of people are struggling to keep their taxes and bills paid, Wayne County officials want to spend $20,000.00 to synchronize their watches. From the Palladium-Item website:

"Fred Griffin, emergency management director, told commissioners Wednesday morning about plans to purchase a more than $20,000 system that would keep the clocks used by all the emergency services consistent, including police and fire, in Wayne County and Richmond."

Here's a suggestion. How about pulling out that cell phone that we're already paying for and checking the time on it.

I can't say for sure that they will be right, but you can bet they will be consistent.

Then they could apply the $20,000.00 to the $50,000.00 they want to spend on a feasibility study to see if we need an industrial park next to our industrial park.

Or not.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How much is it going to cost, and who is going to pay for it?

I try to be careful about criticizing the major party presidential candidates. It's not that they don't need it, but all to often criticizing a Democrat is assumed to be an endorsement for the Republican, and vice versa. This morning at coffee, when I was talking about how much money Barak Obama's proposed programs were going to cost, another coffee drinker at the table asked, "Well, would you rather stay in Iraq for 100 years?" I asked him if there was a way to control spending and bring the troops home. He said that wasn't an option.

That's a shame.

By the way, Senator Wayne Allard from Colorado had some studies done on the cost of Obama's programs. I'm sure he used our money to pay for the studies, and for what its worth, this is what he found:

"Sen. Obama has offered 188 campaign proposals that would add up to at least $300 billion in new annual spending. That has a 5-year cost of more than $1.4 TRILLION.
Of the 188 new spending proposals, the $300 billion price tag only covers 111 proposals. There are another 77 proposals with unknown cost estimates that will add billions to this number.
This new spending, if enacted, would represent an almost 10% increase over the President’s FY 2009 budget.
To put this in perspective, this $300 billion spending proposals would cost more than 42 states’ budgets combined (general fund expenditures). It is more than the United States spent last year on imported oil ($294 billion net). It is more than 60% larger than any one-year federal spending increase, ever."

We have an idea how much it is going to cost. And if you are a taxpayer, I think you have a pretty good idea who is going to pay for it.

As I have stated many times in the past, we shouldn't have to choose between a fiscally responsible domestic policy and a sane foreign policy. But if your voting for the Republican or the Democrat, you can't have both, and your going to end up paying a lot for the one that you don't get.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Every little bit helps...a little...

"Like the old lady said when she pee'd in the ocean, 'Every little bit helps'".

When I was growing up and helping on our farm, my Dad used to work that phrase into the conversation pretty often. At least when an old lady wasn't around. I think the phrase applies well to congress and its attempts to rein in earmarks in the budget. Several newspapers in central Indiana have been running editorials praising our Representative Mike Pence for his efforts, and I certainly don't want to belittle any effort to curb government spending.

But we need to keep in mind that earmarks account for about 1% of the federal budget, and considering that less than 10% of them are targeted for elimination, I'm not sure the savings to the taxpayers merits the media attention the cuts have been receiving. It's not that I don't appreciate the effort, but I fear they are overlooking the real problem.

For example, around the corner from my home is the Brick Cemetery. Down the road a little further lives a man with a backhoe and a dumptruck. When the cemetery needs his services, he drives down to the cemetery, by himself, and digs a grave.

A little further down the road in the other direction is a cemetery that is managed by the city of New Castle, and it's employees. Last week, digging a grave at that cemetery required a backhoe, 3 trucks, and 7 men.

There may be things that are necessary for government to do, but there is very little that government does efficiently. We might have to accept the cost of ineffeciency from the agencies that perform the legitimate government function of protecting its citizens from force and fraud, but we don't have to accept in areas where the government shouldn't be involved in the first place.

Cutting earmarks might save us a tenth of a percent at the federal level, but real savings can only come by reducing government to its proper role at the local, state and federal level.

Someone said that while tornados might receive the most press, termites do a thousand times more damage.

Look around. I bet you can find some termites that need a little press.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Now cut that out...

One of the problems we face when we talk about eliminating property taxes is the insistence by our elected officials that the loss of revenue would result in the loss of government services. The first things they mention are police and fire protection. I guess that is the first lesson in Politics 101. Whenever taxpayers start to complain about excessive government spending, threaten them with the loss of police and fire protection. And if they complain about the cost of the new high school gymnasium, threaten to lay-off some teachers.

But when reasonable people face a shortfall in their funding, the first cuts in spending shouldn’t involve basic trips to the grocery or their chosen form of shelter. That’s not to say that the money we spend on necessities couldn’t be spent a little more wisely, or that some of the frills couldn’t be eliminated. But wouldn’t it make more sense to start with dropping the premium channels from your cable provider, or maybe canceling that gym membership, or your subscription to the “Cookie of the Month” service?

From the federal to the state to the local level, politicians have lost sight of what they should really be doing, which is providing basic, essential government services. Any talk of eliminating a tax, or lowering a tax, or actually cutting government spending, threatens the growth of government, which in turn threatens the power of the politicians.

They assume we will accept that any reduction in our taxes will result in a reduction in government services. They are fond of warning us to be careful what we ask for, because we might get it.

While that might be true, I would suggest that taxpayers be especially careful when asking for something from the government, because you never know what you are going to end up with.

You might reasonably ask your government to take the taxes you pay on gasoline and use them to build and repair our roads. What you end up with is nearly half of that money being spent on flower gardens, hiking trails, bicycle paths, studies on adolescent obesity and thousands of other pork-barrel projects.

You might ask your government to simply educate your children, and instead end up paying for a top-heavy bureaucracy that costs 3 to 4 times more per student than private schools.

You might ask your government for health insurance to protect your poorest senior citizens, and instead end up with a program that spends your tax money to furnish Viagra for the wealthiest segment of our population.

You might ask your government to raise an army to protect you from foreign invaders, and instead end up paying to have troops stationed in 140 countries around the world, providing security for nations quite capable of providing their own.

Sometimes getting what you ask for isn’t nearly as bad as getting what you didn’t ask for.

I think I’m ready to ask for a little less government. How about you?