Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Take a guess...

One of the highlights of the summer when I was growing up was the Mooreland Free Fair. Come to think of it, it's still one of the highlights of the summer. I suppose everybody that attends the fair has their own favorite attractions. My favorite is getting the chance to see old friends.

In my younger days, I spent a lot of time at the fair with my old buddy, Stinky Wilmont. One of Stinky's favorites every year was the Gypsy Weight Guesser. Stinky had what might be called an unusual shape, and he was convinced that it threw the Weight Guesser off of his game. Stinky would give the man a quarter, and the man would take a guess about his weight. He always missed by more than the allowable margin, and Stinky would laugh and walk away with a prize that was probably worth a nickel out the outside.

Still, it was Stinky's quarter, and Stinky's choice to spend it. No matter how bad of a guesser the old man was, Stinky didn't care, the old man didn't care, and I certainly didn't care. Stinky got a prize, the old man got a quarter, and everybody was happy.

There's still a lot of guessing going on. I read the other day that somebody had determined that the earth's atmosphere weighs 5 quadrillion tons. Now, maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't. They could have guessed 4 quadrillion tons, or 6 quadrillion tons, and I doubt that anybody would have offered much of an argument. At least I know I wouldn't.

Sometimes bad guessing ends up costing us money, though. A while back someone guessed that 250,000 people use the Cardinal Greenway every year. Given the number of decent days in a year and the number of people that you see on the trail on any one of those decent days, I'm guessing that they guessed high. The 250,000 number was used to justify using our road taxes on the Greenway, I guess.

In Wayne County a couple of weeks ago, the director of tourism guessed that a new convention center in Richmond wouldn't compete with existing businesses that offer meeting rooms for various functions. I guess she was trying to convince those existing businesses to support the new tax that would finance the new center. I guess it didn't work.

When Mitch Daniels was working for George Bush, his best guess was that the Iraq War would cost the United States $50 billion. $60 billion, tops. Guess again.

Congress just passed, and President Bush just signed, a new housing bill. It puts taxpayers on the hook for all of the bad loan decisions that mortgage brokers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made in the past, or may make in the future. The government is guessing it could cost taxpayers $25 billion, but in reality there is no limit on the amount of bad loans that the American taxpayer might be required to buy.

There aren't very many government programs that don't end up costing more than the government guessed they would, or that turn out the way the government guessed they woud turn out.

I guess a lot of people think that elected officials somehow have a better understanding on how to manage and spend your money. I guess I don't believe that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Life's been good to me so far...

(Apologies to Joe Walsh)

I have a tendency to get worked up about things. Probably more than some people, but probably not as much as others. Usually it's about something the government has done or is getting ready to do. And then sometimes I quit thinking about the government and I remember that I've got it pretty good.

Last Sunday was one of those times. My parents celebrated their 60th anniversary and Dad's 80th birthday with an open house at the little country church they've attended for those 60 years. Mom and Dad raised 8 children, kept us fed and clothed, warm and loved, made sure that we made it to that church every Sunday, and then sent us on our way.

We went in a lot of different directions, but we all made it back home for this.
Mom, Dad, and the original "Eight is Enough"

We still get along pretty good, and we sat and stood still for the pictures without Mom having to get on any of us to much, one of the advantages of getting a little older I guess.

We also brought quite an entourage with us. From all the begetting that started back about 1950, with the children and their spouses, and the grand children and their spouses, and the great-grand children, we now number 61. Somehow we ended up scattered to the 4 corners of the world, but 57 of us made it in for Mom and Dad's day. And they"re proud of every one of them. Even the Libertarians.

Generation 2,3 and 4

Of course I'm kind of proud of my limb of the family tree, too. And when I saw the crowd of family and friends that turned out to honor Mom and Dad, it's easy to understand why. They come from good stock.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mr. Bell goes to Washington..

For the most part, I don't get to town much. Hagerstown has a nice hardware store, and if it still had a lumberyard, I wouldn't have to venture out even as often as I do. Still, on occasion, a worthwhile adventure presents itself, and I wander out of my comfort zone.

I had the pleasure of visiting Washington D.C. for the first time in my life for a couple of days last week. Mark Rutherford, past chair of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, and John Vaught LaBeaume, editor of , set up a chance for a few Libertarian candidates from Indiana to meet and conference with a few of the libertarian minded heavyweights in the nations capitol.

Mark accompanied Eric Schansberg, candidate for U.S. Representative, Steve Keltner, candidate for Indiana Senate,
and myself on a whirlwind one day tour.

We started out with the honor of meeting Dick Heller.
Dick Heller and me at the University Club

You may have heard of him. He's the Heller in the recent Washington D.C. vs. Heller decision that overturned the D.C. ban on the peoples ability to lawfully own a handgun. He's been in this fight for 5 years.

Apparently the powers to be in D.C. are unwilling to give up their control over their citizens so easily, though, and have instituted a different set of of overly restrictive laws in an effort to neuter the courts decision. Mr. Heller assured us that D.C. vs. Heller II is already in the works.

Thomas Jefferson said that "The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance". It's good to know Dick Heller is still on watch.

We took a tour of the National Libertarian Party Headquarters, and taped some interviews with Volunteer Coordinator Austin Petersen. I'm happy to say we found a lot of young people involved with the LP in D.C. I'm happy because some of us old guys could sure use the help.

Then we had lunch with David Weigel. He's one of the editors at Reason and It was quite a treat for me, as I have long been a fan of Mr. Weigel's writing style and analysis. Enough so that I linked Reason to my campaign website, and use it as one of the news and opinion feeds. If I wasn't a Libertarian, I'd say it should be required reading.

We found that Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is passionate about his desire for Libertarians and Libertarian candidates to communicate libertarian ideas better to the voters.
Fred Smith and me at the CEI offices

It's something we all agreed needs to be done.It's certainly something I'm going to work on.You can find a lot of solid support for the benefits of competitive free enterprise at .

We also took the opportunity to tour the headquarters of one of the premiere think tanks of the world, the Cato Institute. We had a round table discussion (minus the table) with Tim Lynch, the Director of Cato's Project on Criminal Justice.
John and Eric at Cato Headquarters

If you are familiar with the works of Cato, you would have to agree that there are a lot of intelligent people in Washington. Unfortunately, they're not always in the right places or positions.

As I said earlier, it was a whirlwind day. It ended with an informal (and noisy) meet and greet with a group of DC area Libertarians. Again, most of them were younger than me, and a lot of them were younger than my children, so they probably didn't think it was as noisy as I did, but all in all, a nice evening.

From the tidbit section:

There were 5 of us traveling from the University Club to the Darlington House. Three of the group climbed into the first cab, while Eric and I grabbed the second. I've waited 56 years to shout "Follow that cab!!!!". I don't think Eric or the driver enjoyed it as much as I did, though.

Apparently drivers in D.C. believe that honking your horn can displace matter.

I had the chance to do a little touring before my flight home the next day was delayed. I went to see the reflecting pond where Forrest Gump's speech wasn't heard. I don't know why they can't find someone to pick up trash and pull weeds in the area. Hopefully some of those TSA agents from the airport can help if we go off of the Orange Level Alert. That's all I have to say about that.

There are a lot of memorials in Washington, for a lot of patriots, both soldiers and statesmen, that have given their lives and fortunes in an effort to protect our freedom. I hope we decide that we are not going to give that freedom up to easily.

To anybody.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Not me....

It wasn't always easy to get one of kids to fess up when Mom asked who tracked mud across the living room floor, or when Dad asked who left the milkhouse door open. It really wasn't something you wanted to admit to.

We see the same thing a lot of times when it gets towards the end of an elected official's term of office. For the number of people who will admit voting for them, you have to wonder how Mitch or George ever won their elections.

I've had a lot of discussions with people explaining why I think they should vote for me this fall, and asking for their support in my race even if they cast their vote for another party in another race.

Most voters tell me they never vote a straight ticket, anyway, because they prefer to vote for the person instead of a party. I think that is a good thing. At least it shows they're thinking.

But in 2006, 43% of the voters in Wayne County cast straight ticket ballots, which tells me that people who cast straight ticket ballots don't talk to Libertarians.

I guess.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And then there were two...

I'm running for the Indiana House of Representatives District 54 seat this year. It's the same seat I ran for in 2006. I learned earlier this week that the only candidates in the race are myself and Republican incumbent Tom Saunders.

In 2006, it was a three-way race, with Democrat David Sadler joining in. In that three-way race, I was able to win 6 precincts, and finish second in three others. I recieved 22% of the vote in Wayne County, and 14 1/2 % of the vote district wide.

Tom won with 46%.

Now, I'm not pretending that the 54% that didn't push the Republican button last time will vote for me this time. But hopefully, some of them will. And also, hopefully some of that 46% that did push the Republican button last time will decide that their property taxes didn't go down while their sales taxes went up, and maybe some of them will be ready for a change.

Tom's campaign out spent my campaign by $190,000.00 the last time out. I have no doubt he will outspend me by a lot this time, too.

While I don't have as much money, I do have some better ideas at .

And this year, it's just the two of us.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What and how....

I think most presidential candidates, like most people, want the same things. Generally speaking, we all want the United States to be free, safe and prosperous, although the definition of "free" varies from candidate to candidate and person to person. The main difference between the candidates is how the things we want should be accomplished. Since the poor will always be among us, certainly helping them out will always be necessary.

One of the core principles of Libertarian thought is that we should begin moving welfare from the tax burden and return it to private charity where it began and belongs. Traditionally, that was closer to the Republican way of thinking, while Democrats generally favored a little more involvement by the government.

While being an overtaxed family of modest means, we do support charities both inside and outside of our church as best we can, maintaining that we should keep the right to decide where our charitable dollars are spent.

A while back, George Bush decided to implement his faith
based initiative, where tax dollars were used even more to fund charities. Many Democrats were opposed to this plan, not for the right reasons in my opinion, but never the less, they were opposed to it.

As the line between Republicans and Democrats continues to blur, we find Barak Obama endorsing giving tax dollars to faith based charities. I'm anxious to hear the Democrats' response to the plan now.

I already know the Libertarian response.

Labels: , ,