Saturday, November 27, 2010

May the workforce be with you...

Seems like about every time I go to the mailbox, there's a bill for some type of insurance. House, car, truck, business, life, or health. We just keep paying it and hope we never have to use it. But hope as we might, we have occasion to use it a few times over the years, once when lightning won the battle with most things electronic in the house, and a couple of times when somebody decided to help themselves to some of our tools.

I was glad for the coverage at the time, but truth be known, I've paid the insurance companies a lot more than I've ever collected. But I'll probably keep on paying them, just in case Mother Nature or some ne'er-do-well decides to up the ante someday, or I come down with something that can't be cured with aspirin or liniment.

Still, expensive as it is, I always figured it was my business, and I didn't expect anybody else to pay for the insurance on my truck or home. Or life.

I received a letter from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development the other day. I'm not sure how they came up with that name, but I guess it has a nice ring to it, and probably fits on the letterhead better than if they called it the Indiana Department In Charge of Collecting and Re-Distributing Unemployment Insurance.

Anyway, it seems the state unemployment fund, which is funded by employers, has run out of money. In order to get by, Indiana has been borrowing money from the federal unemployment fund, which is also funded by employers. And since there are fewer employers paying in and and more employees taking out, the government has decided to remedy the situation by making the employers pay more into each account.

I guess that's one way to handle it, but it always seemed to me that the common-sense way would be to let the employees that stood to benefit from the unemployment insurance purchase and pay for it if they so choose. We know there are a lot more employees than employers, and employees could choose the amount of coverage they were willing to pay for. And they could purchase it from an insurance company, and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development could get on with the business of developing a workforce.

Or not.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What's good for the goose...

My friend Mark Rutherford always said that the best way to get a bad law off of the books is to enforce it evenly. I saw the other day that a lot of government officials aren't subject to airport searches. I'm pretty sure the TSA would modify its current screening techniques if Nancy Pelosi were subjected to them. (I imagine a lot of TSA agents would be demanding it.)

I wrote this piece a while back about the government granting favors and exemptions to certain businesses and groups.

I read this week that the government has started a list of businesses and organizations that will be exempt from the newly passed health insurance laws. According the Department of Health and Human Services, these are the ones that qualify so far:

■Protocol Marketing Group
■Star Tek
■Adventist Care Centers
■B.E.S.T of NY
■Boskovich Farms, Inc
■Gallegos Corp
■Jeffords Steel and Engineering
■O.K. Industries
■Service Employees Benefit Fund
■Sun Pacific Farming Coop
■UFCW Allied Trade Health & Welfare Trust
■HCR Manor Care
■IBEW No.915
■Integra BMS for Culp, Inc.
■New England Health Care
■Aegis Insurance
■Alliance One Tobacco
■Asbestos Workers Local 53 Welfare Fund
■Assurant Health (2nd Application)
■Captain Elliot’s Party Boats
■Carlson Restaurants
■CH Guenther & Son
■CKM Industries dba Miller Environmental
■Darden Restaurants
■Duarte Nursery
■Employees Security Fund
■Florida Trowel Trades
■Ingles Markets
■O’Reilly Auto Parts
■Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 123 Welfare Fund
■Sun Belt
■UFCW Local 227
■Uncle Julio’s
■United Group
■US Imaging
■Vino Farms
■Alaska Seafood
■American Fidelity
■Gowan Company
■Macayo Restaurants
■Periodical Services
■Universal Forest Products
■UFCW Maximus Local 455
■GuideStone Financial Resources
■Local 25 SEIU
■Preferred Care, Inc.
■Ruby Tuesday
■The Dixie Group, Inc.
■UFCW Local 1262
■Whelan Security Company
■AMF Bowling Worldwide
■Assisted Living Concepts
■Case & Associates
■GPM Investments
■Grace Living Centers
■Swift Spinning
■Belmont Village
■Caliber Services
■Cracker Barrel
■DISH Network
■Groendyke Transport, Inc
■Pocono Medical Center
■Regis Corporation
■The Pictsweet Co.
■Diversified Interiors
■Local 802 Musicians Health Fund
■Medical Card System
■The Buccaneer
■Greater Metropolitan Hotel
■Local 17 Hospitality Benefit Fund
■Harden Healthcare
■Health and Welfare Benefit System
■Health Connector
■Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc.
■Transport Workers
■UFT Welfare Fund
■Baptist Retirement
■BCS Insurance
■Fowler Packing Co.
■Guy C. Lee Mfg.
■Jack in the Box
■Maritime Association
■Maverick County
■Metro Paving Fund
■QK/DRD (Denny’s)
■Reliance Standard
■The Service Employees Benefit Fund
■United Food and Commercial Workers Allied Trade Health & Welfare Trust Fund
■International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union No. 195
■Asbestos Workers Local 53 Welfare Fund
■Employees Security Funds
■Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 123 Welfare Fund
■United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227
■United Food and Commercial Workers Maximus Local 455
■Service Employees International Union Local 25
■United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1262
■Musicians Health Fund Local 802
■Hospitality Benefit Fund Local 17
■Transport Workers Union
■United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund
■International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (AFL-CIO)

Again I say, more power to them. They're lucky they're not getting all of the government they're paying for.

But maybe if all laws were enforced equally, even more of us could say that.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It don't matter to me...

Earlier this year, the folks over at NASA informed us that an earthquake had slowed the rotation of the earth by about a millionth of a second per day. I thought maybe I noticed a difference at first, but now I'm not so sure. I guess if I want to believe the earth is slowing down, I'll just have to take their word for it.

Last week, I read that some scientists had isolated some anti-matter. I started reading about what anti-matter is, but it gave me a headache. So I'm still not sure it is, but according to the story, these scientists isolated 38 anti-matter atoms for two tenths of a second. Then they lost them. I think one of the scientists thought there were actually 39 atoms, but one of them was hiding behind another atom and they just didn't know it.

I looked at the picture they said they took, and I couldn't see any of them, so I think I'll just go with the guy that said there were 39. When it comes right down to it, who's to say if there were 38, or 39, or any at all?

I've also heard a lot of people claim recently how the government bailout of General Motors saved GM and possibly the entire nation from economic collapse. I've also heard people claim that the government had no business loaning or giving taxpayer dollars to a private company, and that if GM failed because of poor business practices, another company would have taken up the slack by using better business practices.

I tend to agree with the second notion. I've always believed that capitalism without failure is a lot like religion without hell. We need something to keep us honest and convince us to try a little harder.

If and when we recover as a nation, I'm sure there will be people who are convinced it was because of what the government has done. And there will also be people like me, who are convinced it was in spite of what the government has done.

But government and economics aren't exact sciences. They're not as simple as counting atoms, anyway.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

17,543,940,979,332,434, more or less...

I read the other day that there are 17,543,940,979,332,434 gallons of water in the Atlantic Ocean. There's about twice that much in the Pacific Ocean. Sounds like a lot of water to me, and it sounds like whoever figured that out has way too much time on their hands.

In my younger days, whenever I made an effort to help out on a project, my Dad always encouraged me by saying "Well, like the little old lady said when she peed in the ocean, 'Every little bit helps!'". (I don't think he said it if there were any little old ladies around, though.) Of course at the time, I didn't know how many gallons of water were in the ocean, and I wasn't sure about the urinary output of little old ladies, but I did get the gist of his meaning.

I imagine some people might think I have too much time on my hands, because I've spent some time in the last week going over the results of this years general election. Some of the results reminded me of Dad's "little old lady" comment.

I ran for the Indiana House of Representatives District 54 seat on the Libertarian Party ticket. In that particular race, I was able to win 4 precincts in Wayne County. I also won a couple of precincts in Henry County.

Then comes the "little old lady" part. I lost 1 precinct by 1 vote. I lost another precinct by 8 votes. It was a three-way race, and I was able to finish 2nd in Wayne County, 7% ahead of the Democrat. I finished second in a precinct in Henry County, and missed finishing second in 5 more precincts by a total of 28 votes. I missed finishing 2nd in Randolph County by 7 votes. Just a few more votes here and there would have made a big difference. A few more would have made a even bigger difference.

Across the region and across the state, Libertarian candidates continue to gain votes and support with each election. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes just a little bit.

More voters are beginning realize to that we can't afford for government to keep growing at it's present rate. When they realize that the Libertarians are the only party advocating smaller government, we'll gain a little more.

And like Dad always says, every little bit helps.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Truth or Consequences...or both....

When I was a kid back at Millville Grade School, you could always count on a few things. You could count on my old buddy, Stinky Wilmont, pulling some kind of prank to aggravate one of the teachers at least once a week, and you could count on one of the teachers applying the consequences of that prank to the seat of Stinky's britches. While those consequences never seemed to deter Stinky too much, they did manage to at least get the attention of most of the other kids in school.

I think that's what consequences are supposed to do. They're nature's way of letting you know when you've made a bad decision. Or a good one. It's a system that works pretty well, I think, when we let it. At least most of the time.

A lot of high schools are trying to figure out how to reduce their dropout rates. A worthy goal, no doubt, but apparently also a daunting task. I would imagine a lot of the difficulty in convincing young people not to drop out of school is the result of the lack of consequences if they do.

When I was in high school, conventional wisdom was that if you dropped out of school, you wouldn't be able to get a good job, and you might end up going hungry. And while I wasn't really looking for a job at the time, somehow the threat of not being able to get one in the future, and possibly missing a meal or two, motivated me to try to get through one more day of Mrs. Warner's Latin 101.

I suppose one of the consequences of quitting school today might still be the inability to land a good job. Of course, if you're planning on quitting school, you probably weren't setting your sights too high in the first place, and the consequences sort of end there.

Yes, if you drop out of school, your employment opportunities might narrow, but for the most part, if you have gumption enough to get yourself down to the city or county building and sign up, you won't have to worry about going hungry. You won't have to worry about having a place to live, or about keeping the place heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer.

In fact, if any of us decided that we weren't going to turn a tap for the rest of our lives, the government would still provide for our basic needs. It will pay for our birth, and it will pay for our funeral. Granted, the housing it provides might not be as elaborate as someone's who decided to stick with it, and the car we can afford might not be as new, and the health care we receive might not be as advanced. The cell phone the government provides might not be as fancy as some, and the free minutes it provides might be limited. But the basic needs are met, and the consequences aren't near what they used to be.

We wouldn't amount to much as a society if we didn't have compassion and charity for those that are unable to provide for themselves. But we also lose a lot as a society when we remove the consequences for people that simply don't want to provide for themselves.

There's a line that needs to be drawn somewhere between the two. I'm not convinced we've found it yet.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

First and Third....or Second....

Avis Rent-A-Car used to have a commercial that claimed "We're number 2, We try harder!" I don't know if they really tried any harder than the number 1 company was trying in order to stay number 1, or if they were really trying any harder than the number 3 company that was trying to make it to number 2.

In the 10 years that I have been associated with the Libertarian Party, it has always been considered a "third party". I've never considered that a bad thing. It just meant that we are operating under a two party system, and that the Democrats and Republicans were the two parties. And anybody that didn't feel like they were a Democrat or Republican, and wanted to change things by running for a political office, had to play by a different set of rules. So, being Libertarians, everybody told us we were a third party, and we accepted that we were a third party, and we even called ourselves a third party.

I live in Wayne County, and the first year the Libertarian Party of Wayne County took part in a mid-term election, we had more candidates on the ballot than the local Democratic Party. We thought that wasn't too bad for a third party.

The next year, the LPWC fielded candidates for all of the positions in the Hagerstown town election in which the Democratic Party put up one candidate. (That was the year the first Libertarian judge was elected in Indiana. In Hagerstown.)

Since then, the Libertarians have consistently finished second in many state and county legislative office races, usually due to the fact that they were one of only two parties represented in those races.

This year, we gained a little more ground. Along with multiple Libertarian candidates winning multiple precincts in Wayne and Henry counties in more of those 2-way races,the Libertarian candidate for the District 54 seat in the Indiana House of Representatives, (that would be me), came in second in a 3-way race in Wayne County. Along with a couple of township wins in Wayne and Henry counties, we also had 6 candidates finish in second in Wayne County, and a couple more each in Henry and Rush counties, and several more in counties across the state.

I'm not sure how many times you have to finish second before you're no longer considered third.

On the statewide level, our Secretary of State candidate, Mike Wherry, received over 100,000 votes, the most any Libertarian candidate has ever received in a 3-way race in Indiana. 1801 of those votes came from Wayne County, which amounts to a little over 11% of the SOS vote total here. According to Indiana election law, when we get 10% across the state, we won't be a third party anymore.

Libertarian candidates in Wayne County received over 19,000 votes this year. Our vote totals and percentages continue to increase across the county and across the state, and I strongly suspect that two more years of the current two parties running things will increase those totals and percentages even more by 2012.

Libertarians may not be considered the second party yet, but we're not as third as we used to be, either.

And we're gonna keep on tryin'.