Saturday, June 26, 2010

For thee, but not for me...

It's not to difficult for people to get upset about government hand-outs. David Jungerman of Raytown, Missouri put up a big sign calling people that want hand-outs, parasites.

Of course, Mr. Jungerman didn't consider the MILLION DOLLARS he had received in the form of farm subsidies to be a hand-out.

I wrote a story about this sort of thing a couple of years ago. Things haven't improved a whole lot since then, so I thought i'd say it again:

Several years ago, there was a rather animated woman who attended our church regularly. On one particular Sunday, she was caught up in the spirit when the preacher began lambasting the evils of strong drink, promiscuity and adultery. However, when he scolded the use of snuff, she let him know in no uncertain terms that he had crossed the line of preaching, and he was now simply meddling.

In the Libertarian crusade for smaller government, we run into that same line of thinking quite often. I think it’s safe to say that most people are justifiably upset when the government gives McDonalds, (a company that earns $40 billion a year), $1.6 million taxpayer dollars to help them advertise overseas. People also take offense when giant corporations like IBM receive billions, or when Ernest and Julio Gallo pull down a cool $5 million.

When we get a little closer to home, however, people get a little more selective in their disapproval. A friend of mine used to be adamant in his condemnation of able-bodied people who drew welfare payments. He was also quite defensive if someone brought up the fact that he received more subsidies than any other farmer in Wayne County. Likewise, a lot of people who are opposed to farm subsides have no objections when public monies are used to bribe a business to locate in their community. Unless, of course, those monies are given as grants and subsidies to a company that produces ethanol, in which case all bets are off.

Truth be told, most of us probably have a few government programs that we would like to keep around, and several that we would like to see abolished. And most of those programs, like them or not, require tax dollars to operate. Usually a lot of tax dollars.

A long time ago, voters decided to give the government the power to seize money from one group or individual, and give it to another group or individual, in order to fund these programs. The problem is, when you give one group of legislators the power to take your neighbors money and give it to you, you also give them the power to take your money and give it to somebody else. You lose the power to choose. As a result, the American taxpayer on average now spends 47% of his or her income supporting those programs, or paying the increased cost the programs create through over-regulation and red-tape.

Here in Indiana, we’re experiencing a property-tax meltdown. In search of a solution, elected and prospective legislators are scrambling to come up with different ways to raise enough money to fund everyone’s pet programs in the state, while their federal counterparts do the same. But maybe that’s not the solution we need to be looking for. Maybe the best solution lies in limiting the role of government, and in turn limiting the number of programs it can create.

For starters, let’s get the federal government back to what it was intended to do. Simply put, protect us from force and fraud, foreign and domestic. Otherwise, stay out of our personal lives. Stay out of my home, stay out of my school, and as long as I’m not defrauding anybody, stay out of my business. I’m sure there will be a lot of discussions and arguments about what constitutes force and fraud, and what we should do to protect against them, but surely we can agree that giving money to Ronald McDonald doesn’t qualify. At the least, it’s a place to start.

Next stop, state and local government. I have to believe we can come up with a better way to fund the constitutionally mandated duties we have given to our governing bodies other than property taxes, which deny the right to really own property, or income taxes that serve to punish hard work and success. Along with lessening the questionable duties that government has assumed, we need to start transferring the funding of those duties to sales taxes and user fees, capped at reasonable limits, which would more evenly distribute the load, and give people at least a modicum of control over the amount of taxes they pay.

It won’t happen over night, and it won’t happen without resistance. It will take a change in attitude, an attitude that personal freedom and personal responsibility are more important than government control. And it will take eternal vigilance, because there will always be citizens and bureaucrats that believe they have a prior claim to your money and property.

But when enough people decide they are no longer capable of supporting every program that our legislators are capable of dreaming up, and vote accordingly, at least we will have a fighting chance.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Thinking ahead....

I remember Phyllis Diller saying one time that she didn't care if the kids wrote in the dust on the furniture, as long as they didn't write the date.

Phyllis's words of wisdom came to mind the other evening while I was watching people walk by our Libertarian Party booth at the Wayne County Fair.

A young girl walked by with what I assume was her boyfriend's name tattooed across her chest. I know a big portion of our society isn't really into long term relationships, but maybe this young lady thinks she is committed to spending the rest of her life with her current beau.

Or maybe she just thinks she'll always be able to find a partner named "Cameron".

Or maybe she just wasn't thinking.

Friday, June 18, 2010

It just keeps getting better...

If she decides to keep me around for another week, next Sunday Susan and I will have been married for 34 years. We've raised 3 great children, who married three great spouses, who in turn have presented us with 4 terrific grandkids (with another one on the way next month).

She kept me around when I wasn't much of a husband, changed diapers when it was really my turn, picked up after me, kept my books, and supported me in every hair-brained idea and elusive dream I ever came up with.

She brought me back to church, and she's been my best friend for 36 years.

You might think that would be enough, but.....

This week I asked her what she wanted for our anniversary. She told me she wanted a new walking mower so that I wouldn't have start it for her like I do with the old one.

They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Do as I say, not as I do....

You've probably seen the above video. It's North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge roughing up a person that approached him to ask some questions of the Congressman. I did some checking, and found out that assaulting a federal official, when bodily contact occurs, can be considered a Class D felony.

That means if the young man had done to Mr. Etheridge, what Mr. Etheridge did to the young man, that young man could be facing 20 years in prison, a $100,000.00 fine, and then deportation.

I somehow doubt Mr. Etheridge is facing any of those.

I don't know what it is that makes our elected officials think they are more important than us regular citizens. Last year I had THIS EXPERIENCE with a bunch of legislators that got moved to the front of the line because their "work" was somehow more important than anyone else's.

Back in 2005, ONE OF OUR LOCAL LEGISLATORS used his position to stonewall the Henry County Prosecutor after the legislators son was involved in a fatal hit and run accident.

It's their fault that our legislators continue to grant themselves special privilege, and ignore the laws they place on the rest of us.

It's our fault that we continue to allow it.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Decisions, decisions...

So far I've made it through 58 years of this life. I'd like to think I've made some good decisions in those years. I know I've made some bad ones, too. One thing about making decisions, though, is that you don't always know if it was a good decision or a bad decision until well after you've made it. Like buying Enron stock.

And then there are times when you know right away if it was a good decision or a bad decision as soon as you make it. Like letting that pitch go right down the middle.

And some decisions you just know are bad even before they're made. I read This Story today about how New York is going to borrow money from a pension account so that they can use the money to make payments into the same account.

I haven't really decided what would make anyone think that is a good idea.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

When it rains, it pours...

Whenever somebody asked him if it was going to rain, my Dads standard answer was, "It'll be a long dry spell if it doesn't". As always, he was right. I don't recall a time when it didn't rain eventually.

I'm hoping the same forces apply now when I wonder if it's going to stop raining. I suppose it will be a long wet spell if it doesn't.

But I also realize that there is a possibility, however remote, that someday it might stop raining and never start again, and by the same token, there is also the possibility, however remote, that it might start raining and never stop. The latter possibility seems a little less remote after the last couple of weeks. And when it comes right down to it, I don't suppose there's anything we could do about it, anyway.

I've spent a lot of my adult life fixing broken things that could be fixed with a hammer. If it couldn't be fixed with a hammer, I usually had to find someone that could fix it using something else. Of course, sometimes things got in such a shape that they couldn't be fixed at all.

I'm starting to wonder if that might be the case with the leaking oil well down in the Gulf of Mexico. Everybody's upset about it, and rightfully so. And everybody wants the leak stopped. I want it stopped, and you want it stopped. President Obama wants it stopped, and I'm sure British Petroleum wants it stopped just as much as everybody else. I don't know if they had a plan in place just in case something like this happened, and that plan didn't work, or if they never really had a plan at all. At any rate, I'm also sure some of the smartest people in the world are trying to figure out a way to get it stopped.

Of course, there's always the possibility that it will never be completely stopped.

I feel kind of the same way about our federal government debt. Right now we owe about $14 trillion. The people that keep track of such things, the Congressional Budget Office, says that by 2015 we'll owe around $20 trillion. If you figure in all of our unfunded liabilities, the amount goes up to $60 trillion, with the 2015 estimated amount approaching $100 trillion.

I don't know if we can get that debt under control or not. I do know that about 60% of the United States population is taking more from the government than they are kicking in. I guess that means the other 40% might have to start kicking in a little bit more. I'm just not sure that is a workable plan.

While I'm not sure what type of plan BP might have had before the well started leaking, I do know that we did have a sort of plan before our federal government got in such a mess. It was called the Constitution. It limited what the government could do, and in turn limited what it needed to spend. We didn't get in this condition until we quit following that plan.

It may be too late return government to its proper duties and size. I certainly hope not, and I know a lot of people out there that are going to keep working to try to do just that.

And I don't know if they can stop that oil well from leaking, but I sure hope they keep trying.

And I sure hope it stops raining so much one of these days.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A penny for your thoughts...

Sometimes things just have a way of working out.

Last week THIS STORY came out about a judge in the Hagerstown Town Court (who just happens to be my bride of 34 years), and a man who wanted to pay his seat belt ticket fine with 2500 loose pennies. The defendent was upset about the law that requires adults to wear a seat belt. And rightfully so. Wearing a seat belt belongs in the "Good Idea, Bad Law" category. Seat belt laws create and address another victimless crime, something Libertarians would like to see a lot less of.

So the defendant, Neil Brooks, certainly had the sympathy of court. And Judge Bell explained just that, along with pointing out that once a higher court upholds a law as Constitutional, it is not within the authority of a town court to overturn that ruling, and suggesting that perhaps Mr. Brooks objections to the law should be voiced to a wider audience, including the legislators that made the law in the first place.

And the sympathetic court could have accepted the pennies, counted them and carried them to the bank, and Mr. Brooks could have went on his way, with himself, the court clerk, and the Judge being the only people to hear his protest.

After the Judge asked him to reconsider his payment plan, Mr. Brooks complaint about a over-reaching law ended up in SEVERAL NEWS OUTLETS across the state.

I don't know if she planned it that way or not.

I do know that for the last 34 years things have just had a way of working out.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

We aren't always what we were...

Apparently my campaign for District 54 Representative on the Libertarian ticket worked its way into the conversation at a local coffee shop the other morning. Reportedly, a man who has been a staunch Republican all his life asked another man who has been a staunch Democrat all of his life why he was supporting a Libertarian.

The second man replied, "Well, I'm not as good a Democrat as I used to be.", to which the first man replied, "Yeah, I'm not as good a Republican as I used to be, either."

That's change we can live with.

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