Monday, August 23, 2010

That's hard to believe...

I suppose if you say something often enough, some people might start to believe it. I suppose you might even start to believe it yourself. For the next couple of months, we are going to hear a lot of Republican candidates tell us we need to elect them to office so that they can stop the runaway spending we are presently experiencing. I think some of them actually believe that we didn't have runaway spending when they were in charge.

Wes Benedict, up at the National Libertarian Party Headquarters made this observation about one of the GOP's go-to heroes:

"As the 2010 election approaches, a lot of Republican politicians are trying to posture as government-cutters, and they often hold up Ronald Reagan as an example.

But although Reagan often talked about supporting smaller government, most Libertarians know that in practice he did exactly the opposite. For example:

*Reagan boosted import tariffs and trade restrictions.

*Reagan cut marginal income tax rates, but he also raised Social Security taxes.

*Reagan increased farm subsidies.

*Reagan sent the federal debt through the roof.

*Federal spending under Reagan grew from $678 billion to $1.14 trillion.

*Reagan set the record for the highest average spending as a percent of GDP over his administration. (Obama may beat him.)

Many people are complaining right now about unemployment under Barack Obama. In the first 18 months of Obama's presidency, unemployment has increased from 7.7 percent to 9.5 percent.

Did you know that during the first 18 months of Reagan's presidency, unemployment increased from 7.5 percent to 9.8 percent? That's even worse, but I don't hear a lot of Republicans mentioning it.

I got a fundraising letter that my Republican opponent for the District 54 Representative seat, Tom Saunders, sent out the other day. In it, he says that he relies on friends and fellow Republicans to help buy the paper, envelopes and stamps for his campaign. Here's where most of the $207,033.00 he spent on his 2006 campaign came from:

THE SIX-PAC $2,000
GEO GROUP $1,500
PAUST PRINTERS $1,220 0.59%

He also promises in the letter to use his friends money to make a strong case for limited government in Indiana. This is the same man who said he was opposed to property tax caps because he didn't want to limit future legislators ability to raise taxes.

I'm not sure what to believe.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Symbolic of our jubilation...

One of the best parts of campaigning for the District 54 Representative seat is when my four oldest Grandchildren help hand out candy and literature at the parades we attend. It's a little symbolic, too, since one of the major reasons I'm involved with the Libertarian Party is so my Grandchildren have a chance to enjoy and afford a limited government.

It happens that there was a lot of symbolism in Saturday's Jubilee Day Parade in Hagerstown. For starters, when the parade organizer put the Libertarians in line behind the Republicans, he told me that we might have to help clean-up any mess that the Republicans made. I told him we already knew that. That's why we're in the race.

I also found it symbolic that my Republican opponent for the District 54 seat was handing out empty plastic bags, and depending on somebody else to come along later in the parade and furnish the candy to fill them up. Turns out it was same kids that are going to be paying on all the government spending that is going on today.

I also had the chance to meet my Democratic Party opponent for the District 54 seat, Bruce Gaylor:

Seemed like a really nice guy. I wished him luck and told him I hoped he finished a strong second. I also noticed that the palm cards he was handing out made no reference to the political party he represents. I can't say as I blame him for that.

My new great-nephew, Austin, came up from Texas for the weekend. This was his reaction when we told him his share of the federal debt is over $170,000.00. Talk about child abuse!

Anyway, I think the kids and the babies and Ray's basset hounds got more attention than the candidates, but I figure that's what parades are for.

See you next weekend at Archway Days in Centerville.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fair Enough...

I spent last week campaigning at the Mooreland Fair. I've been attending the fair for 58 years. I don't think I ever attended one that was as hot as this one. Mooreland isn't a very big town, but they put on a heck of a fair every year. It's kind of a big homecoming and getting reacquainted event for thousands of people.

Having a booth at the fair, I get to visit a lot of people I've known all of my life, but usually don't see until the fair. I also get to meet and visit with people i didn't know before. I was especially happy that my old buddy Stinky Wilmont stopped by and agreed to have his picture taken with me: That's Stinky on the right. Hopefully it will satisfy those who have questioned Stinky's existence.

I had some help from four of my grandchildren who handed out "Elect Rex Bell" stickers, and then took a break for some rides:

Henry County candidates Jon Bell and Bill Claar helped out at the booth, along with the Libertarian Secretary of State candidate Mike Wherry:

I was encouraged by the number of positive comments I received about the campaign, and especially those from elected Republicans.

I was a little discouraged by person who walked around the crowded fair in the 95 degree heat and complained that he wasn't receiving enough disability assistance to take care of his kids.

And I was mildly amused to see that not one candidate over at the Democrat Party booth had any kind of word or symbol on their yard signs identifying themselves as a Democrat.

And what would the Mooreland Fair be without a Grand Finale parade! We handed out about 20 pounds of melted Tootsie Rolls:

I hope all of our campaign events are as much fun as the Mooreland Fair. I also hope they're not as hot.

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

You decide...

This past week, over 70% of voters in Missouri decided that they didn't want to be forced to buy health insurance as required by the recently passed federal health insurance law. It's encouraging that people are taking a stand against the new law, and it's encouraging that more states are moving in that direction. It's an exercise of the Tenth Amendment, which gives the states and people the remedy of nullifying any law the federal government makes which exceeds the boundaries of its Constitutional authority. One of the lines in the above Reuters article wasn't as encouraging. It states, "Experts said because federal law typically supersedes state laws, the state efforts could ultimately be largely symbolic, although it is likely the debate will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court." I suppose an expert can be mistaken, although I'm not sure they could still be considered an expert afterwards. The assumption by these experts is that the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction over Tenth Amendment issues.

While I was glad to see Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller jumping into the game, he was off base when he made the following statement: “The unprecedented claim that the federal government has the right to require individuals to purchase a private health insurance product is a question that ultimately ought to be decided by the United States Supreme Court.”

While the Supreme Court certainly has some important duties, also enumerated in the Constitution, deciding who gets to decide on what qualifies as a Tenth Amendment issue isn't one of them. The court is a branch of the federal government, and the Tenth Amendment says that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people."

Imagine for a moment that you and I signed a contract authorizing me to put a roof on your house and to charge you for that service. Then, at some point in time, I decided that your house needed painting, and I informed you that I was also going to paint your house and charge you for that service. When you protest that painting your house wasn't part of the contract, I inform you that I had shown the contract to my wife, and she had decided that roofing and painting were kind of related, and since you had already agreed to the roofing, I was right and you were out of luck.

You could and should justifiably call foul. You could also justifiably ignore any second or third opinions.

The federal government has broken its contract with the states many times over the years. It's breaking that contract more frequently and to a greater extent recently.

And it's not up to federal government to decide when it's breaking the contract.
It's up to the states. And the people.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Nicknames and Nullification

There used to be a guy up in Mooreland who went by the nickname "Banjo". I don't know why people called him by that name. There were a lot of people with nicknames when I was growing up, but I didn't always know where the names originated. I was pretty sure how Stinky Wilmont got his name, and Fat Brown was pretty well self explanatory, as was Slim, Blubber and Shorty. I'm not so sure about Ginky, or Crowbar, or Skeeter.

However the names came about, after a period of time they became so commonly used that a lot of people didn't know the person's given name. I never knew Banjo as anything but Banjo.

Whatever his real name was, Banjo had a way of getting the better end of a deal. I recall a time when Banjo and another friend of mine, Charlie, (a nickname for Charles, I suspect,) decided to raise some chickens. The deal was they would buy 100 chicks, Charlie would furnish the feed, and Banjo would board and tend to the flock until they were big enough to be turned into fried chicken.

Whenever Charlie would inquire as to the progress of the chicks, Banjo always replied, "Mine are doing really well, but two of your died last night." I don't know how many chickens Charlie ended up with, but it didn't take too long to figure out that letting one guy keep all the chickens and make all the decisions about them might not work out so well for the other guy.

Back when our nation was first formed, the individual states decided that a federal government might be useful when it came to performing certain duties. So they all got together and wrote up a Constitution describing what those duties would be, and what the federal government was supposed to do. Then, just to be on the safe side, they threw in the Bill of Rights, ten amendments to the Constitution listing some of the things the federal government couldn't do. The tenth of those amendments states that, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

I don't suppose anybody really thought that everybody would always agree on exactly what the Constitution empowered the federal government to do, or made sure it wouldn't do. And as a nation, we've certainly had our disagreements over the years. Even a war, at one point. And I suppose we'll continue to have disagreements as long as we exist. One of the biggest disagreements has been over who gets to decide who gets to decide.

People who like a lot of federal government think that the federal government, and the United States Supreme Court, a branch of the federal government, should get to decide. They think the Tenth Amendment doesn't amount to much. People who don't like a lot of federal government think that's a lot like letting your ex mother-in-law decide on your divorce settlement. They think the Tenth Amendment is pretty important.

If an individual state decides that a federal law is unconstitutional, a lot of people believe the Tenth Amendment gives them the authority to nullify that law. A lot of people don't believe that. The people who don't believe that often point out that some states used that argument in defense of slavery. The people who do believe that often point out that some states used that argument to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act, which required states to return escaped slaves to their supposed owners.

Given the growth of the federal government in recent years, I suspect the interpretation of the Tenth Amendment will become increasingly important in the next few years, and in the next few elections. It would behoove us all to make an informed decision on it. As someone who places a lot of importance on the Tenth, I'd recommend reading the book, NULLIFICATION, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., for a well reasoned history and defense of it. I'll leave it up to someone who doesn't think it is important to recommend something to read in opposition.

Like nicknames, the current interpretation of the Tenth Amendment has been around so long, we've forgotten what it used to be and why it was put in the Constitution in the first place.

Banjo would say it's like putting all your chickens in one basket. Or maybe he said eggs.

I'll ask Stinky next time I see him.

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