Saturday, June 28, 2008

What a waste....

I just finished spending a week of evenings at our county fair. I’m not sure how long a person can survive on Lemon Shake-Ups and Elephant Ears, but know from experience you can make it at least 7 days. I’m sure there are people who believe that spending three dollars for some lemon seeds and sugar in a glass of water, or four dollars for an ounce of fried dough dragged through a bowl of cinnamon and sugar might be wasteful, but it sounded like a good idea at the time, and it did sustain me for a week. And if I was wasting money, at least it was my own.

While I have a lot of family and friends that are active in 4-H, my main reason for attending the fair every night was to work the booth that was promoting our local, state and national Libertarian candidates. (I just happen to be one myself.) Whenever we set up a booth, we always manage to attract a diverse crowd with diverse opinions. Some friendly, some not so friendly, but usually interesting and always welcome.

This year we found a lot more interest in the national ticket than usual, Libertarian Presidential Bob Barr in particular.
Apparently a lot of voters are dissatisfied with the choices the other two parties are offering. But we also heard a lot of the same concerns voters have expressed before. Inevitably, at every event, at least one person tells us that they like a lot of our ideas, but they feel that voting Libertarian would be wasting their vote.

Now admittedly, Libertarians are seldom favored to win, but voting shouldn’t be like betting on a horse race, and if choosing the winning candidate was the only criteria for deciding whether or not your vote was wasted, then about half of the votes are wasted in every election.

I became convinced several years ago that the only way to waste a vote is to use it voting for something that you don’t want. Say, for instance, that you want lower taxes, but you vote for a person or party that continues to raise and create new taxes. That is a wasted vote. Or say, for instance, that you want government that isn’t quite so intrusive in your private life, but you vote for a person or party that continues to expand government. That is a wasted vote.

If you waste three or four dollars on some less than healthy fair food, you can probably recover by purchasing one less gallon of gas and walking 15 or 20 miles. Wasted votes have a longer lasting effect, and they’re a little harder to get over.

But we can get over it. We just need to stop wasting our votes voting for something we don’t want. And this November would be a good time to start.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fair enough?...

Stop by the Libertarian Party of Wayne County booth at the Wayne County Fair in Richmond this week. Meet the candidates, ask questions, take the Worlds Smallest Political Quiz, sign up for a door prize, or just sit and rest a spell. Or all of the above.

The booth will be open each evening from 6:00 until 9:00.

We promise to be on our best behavior, because we're right across the street from the Sheriff's Mobile Command Unit and Tactical Response Vehicle.

Death by a thousand cuts...

Well, they're at it again. Or still. The president and the congress are again thumbing their collective noses at the 4th amendment guarantees of protection against unreasonable searches. If that disgusts you like it does Libertarians, you might want to consider voting against it this fall.

Here's the press release from the Barr for President campaign:

"June 19, 2008 6:33 pm EST

Atlanta, GA -- “In asserting his power to conduct warrantless searches of Americans, President George W. Bush has expressed his clear contempt for the Fourth Amendment. So has Sen. John McCain, despite his reputation as a supposed maverick,” says Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for president. Now the Democratic-led Congress is preparing to approve a so-called compromise that gives the Bush administration almost everything it wants in order to expand dramatically the power of the federal government to surveil American citizens without court orders. “America desperately needs leaders who will stand up for the Bill of Rights,” observes Barr, “not those who flaunt its vital and time-honored protections.”

The president already has the power to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists. The 30-year old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides for court oversight, along with the requirement that the government get a warrant. “The court has virtually never rejected a request,” notes Barr. “Changes in technology require updating the law, not gutting it.”

However, the bill being advanced by the Democratic leadership “would allow the government to listen to millions of phone calls by Americans with neither an individualized warrant nor an assessment of probable cause,” he adds. Although the law would offer some protection when a particular American was expressly targeted, even then “the proposed rules fall short of what the Fourth Amendment mandates.”

Moreover, the bill would immunize telephone companies from wrong-doing, protecting them against law suits even when the firms violated the law by helping the government conduct warrantless searches. Past cases would simply be dismissed. “Conservatives once said, ‘you do the crime, you do the time,’ but no longer,” observes Barr. Now virtually the entire Republican Party is prepared to sacrifice the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans in favor of federal government power.

And the Democratic leadership is ready to do the same. Congressional Democrats privately say that they don’t want to take the political risk of opposing the president. “But the individual liberty of Americans is not a political football, something to be tossed about when an election looms,” insists Barr. “It is the constitutional duty of lawmakers of both parties to defend the Constitution, even when they believe doing so might be politically inconvenient.”

Advocates of abandoning the Constitution warn us that we live in dangerous times. But Americans have long lived in dangerous times. “That didn’t stop the nation’s founders from creating a Constitution that secured individual liberty and limited government,” notes Barr. “It shouldn’t stop us from following the Constitution today.”

Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, where he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to his congressional career, Barr was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and also served as an official with the CIA.

Since leaving Congress, Barr has been practicing law and has teamed up with groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Conservative Union to actively advocate every American citizens’ right to privacy and other civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Along with this, Bob is committed to helping elect leaders who will strive for smaller government, lower taxes and abundant individual freedom."

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Time, time, time, see whats become of me"...

A few weeks back we had some fun making fun of some proposed government spending concerning a plan to synchronize their watches. Although we haven't been able to pinpoint when or how all of the funding was approved, apparently workers are stringing cables through the county building to make the hookups.

Since every cloud is supposed to have a silver lining, I've been looking for something positive to come out of this fiasco. Maybe I've found it.

Hopefully, with the new system, we will be able to pinpoint the exact time the taxpayers lost control of their government.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is that your final offer?...

I picked up the newspaper when I got home this evening and saw that the government has predicted that the price of gasoline will peak at $4.15 a gallon.
I wish the gas stations in Hagerstown would have read the paper too, because when I came through town they were selling their lowest priced gas for $4.19 a gallon.

I guess we shouldn't be overly surprised. This is the same government that predicted (when Mitch Daniels was in charge of the predicting) that the Iraq war would cost $60 million, tops. It's also the government that predicted that Medicare would cost each worker 25 cents per week, tops.

When it comes to predicting how much anything will cost, our government has never been very good at it, so I'm pretty sure they really don't have any idea where the cost of a gallon of gas will end up. A lot will depend on circumstances that are beyond their control. Like how much oil other countries produce, and how much of that oil other countries are willing to buy.

Not that our government couldn't help us out if it wanted to. Henry David Thoreau said "this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way." Unfortunately, this government has become less willing to get out of the way than it used to be.

Government regulations have prevented any new oil refineries from being built in the United States for over 30 years. Government regulations prevent drilling for oil both on and off shore. Government could allow private companies to produce ethanol from switch grass and cane instead of artificially propping up the market for ethanol made from corn.

Government could do us all a lot of good by simply getting out of the way. But I'm not counting on that happening, anymore than I'm counting on gas peaking at $4.15 a gallon.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Something refreshing from the Barr....

I've made some mistakes in my life. I'd be the second to admit that. My wife would be the first. The worst thing about making mistakes is the problems that accompany them. The best thing about making mistakes is that, if you live through them, you have the chance to learn not to make them again. That's a good thing, I think.

I caught a clip of Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr on the Colbert Report tonight. As expected, Colbert made some humorous straw man suggestions about Libertarians,(e.g., equating opposing the FDA to drinking lead based paint) and then moved on to some more serious questions about Mr.Barr's past votes on some less than libertarian bills in Congress concerning the Patriot Act and the Drug War.

It was refreshing to hear a politician say that some of the things he had supported weren't right, and that we need to change directions. That's probably as close as we're going to come to hearing a politician say that he made a mistake, and I doubt that we'll hear it from anybody else.

But wouldn't it be nice to hear the Republicans (and Democrats) admit that their aggressive foreign policy is bankrupting our nation, and that their oppressive domestic policies have cost us more freedom than the nations we fight with?

How much better off would we be if the Democrats (and Republicans) would admit that the social and entitlement programs they have created to provide all things for all people are unsustainable, even if we count on our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to pay for them?

Wouldn't it be refreshing if they all would admit that they had made mistakes, but were now willing to make amends?

Wouldn't it be nice if a few of them would follow Bob Barr's lead?

Wouldn't that be refreshing?

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The spend we're in...

Due to the increase in the number and size of our grandchildren, it became apparent recently that we were going to need a larger vehicle, regardless of gas prices. My wife is the shopper in the family, so most of the decision making fell to her. It was an exhaustive process to decide on the best vehicle, best gas mileage, best trade-in deal, best price and best warranty before she was able to tell me which one I wanted, and where we would spend our money.

By contrast, I attended a town board meeting the other evening where the board members spent $120,000.00 of taxpayer money on some home improvement projects at some apparently secret locations in less than a minute.

The two scenarios reminded me of the old adage about how we spend our money:

-When someone spends their own money on themselves, they are careful about how much they spend and what they spend it on.

-When someone spends their own money on someone else, they are careful of what they spend, but not of what they spend it on.

-When someone spends other peoples' money on themselves, they are careful of what they spend it on, but not of how much they spend.

-When someone spends other peoples' money on other people, they don't really care how much they spend or what they spend it on.

Elected officials and bureaucrats spend other peoples' money on other people all of the time. The only solution I can see is to limit the amount they have to spend by reducing taxes and the programs they are allowed to spend other peoples money on.

The only way to do that is to start electing some people that favor smaller government. Libertarians, perhaps.