Sunday, February 27, 2011

Right on!...

I have a hard time understanding all of the discussion that is going on about peoples' right to work. It's not nearly as complicated as we try to make it. Of course everyone has the right to work. A person has the right to work for themselves, and they have the right to work for anybody or any company that wants to hire them.

An individual and his or her employer can make any agreement they choose that affects them, or a group of individuals can get together and make any demands that their employer or potential employer is willing to accept. If one of the demands the group makes is that all employees join their group, and if the employer agrees to that demand,that's simple enough. If the employer doesn't agree, the employees can use any peaceful means to try to change his mind, or, barring any success with that, they can find an employer that does agree with them.

Employees have no more right to force their employer to accept their terms than the employer has to force the employees accept his terms. That way nobodys's rights get violated.

It's a pretty fair system. Out side of making sure no one violates another person's rights, I don't understand for sure why people want to get the government involved in it. I suspect it is because they don't understand what constitutes a "right", or that one person's right can't conflict another person's right, and still be considered a right.

Understanding what qualifies as a right has been a passion of mine for a long time. I wrote This Story concerning rights a few years ago. Here is an excerpt from it concerning rights:

Your rights cannot conflict with someone else’s rights. If something you decide to do requires or leads to the initiation of force against another person, then it isn’t a right.

Yes, you have the right to join with any number of people and pool your resources for your retirement. No, you don’t have the right to force someone to join your group.

Yes, you have the right defend yourself against violence. No, you don’t have the right to initiate violence.

Yes, you have the right to donate to any cause or charity you choose. No, you don’t have the right to force anybody else to donate.

Yes, you have the right to seek an education. No, you don’t have the right to take someone’s home if they decide they don’t want to pay for your education.

Yes, you have the right to own and control your property. No you don’t have the right to control someone else’s property.

Yes, you have the right to prevent people from smoking on your property. No, you don’t have the right to prevent people from smoking on their property.

Rights belong to individuals. While every person in a group has rights, belonging to a group does not give you more rights than a single person.

This group of people that is our government needs to realize they cannot grant or take away our rights. They can only protect those rights, or prevent us from practicing them. I’d prefer a government that protects them.

I think if we all understood a little more about rights, we wouldn't be so anxious to have the government walk all over them.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who's in charge here?...

I heard that the Democratic Party of Indiana is soliciting funds from its supporters to help keep its elected representatives over in Illinois. I hope they are successful in that quest.

A lot of people are upset that the legislators have left the state to avoid acting on proposed legislation. I'm not one of those people. I'm in agreement with Mark Twain when he said that "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the congress is in session."

I listen to the Democrat and Republican officials bashing each other and going through their antics, and I am constantly amazed that these same people feel not only qualified, but compelled, to dictate to the rest of us how to run our lives and our businesses, how to educate our children, and where to spend our money.

I'd be happy if the Democrats raise enough money to stay in Illinois for a long time. I'd be even happier if the Republicans raised enough money to join them.

And then we could set about making a few decisions for ourselves.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red, White and Blue Ribbons....

I spent a lot of time at the 4-H fair when I was a kid, and I spent a lot of time at the 4-H fair when my kids were kids, and I suspect I'll spend a lot of time at the 4-H fair when my grand kids get a little older. I never won a lot of blue ribbons, but I always felt 4-H was a worthy program, for people that were interested in that sort of thing. I also understand that there are people who don't feel that way.

This week, The Wayne County Commissioners decided not to replace a retiring person who worked with the 4-H program. People who want to use tax dollars to support 4-H quickly pointed out that there were other programs that should be trimmed before 4-H was trimmed. Of course, people who want tax dollars spent on those other programs were quick to disagree.

We see that a lot when government takes money from people and funds things it really shouldn't be funding. Especially when it starts running out of money. It's not a new phenomenon by any means. I wrote this piece a few years ago, and things are still about the same, so I thought I'd say it again. The issues may change, but the principle remains the same:

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.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Turn left in 500 feet...

I took a road trip Mississippi last weekend. I usually have my wife beside me on such trips, and I rely on her to read the maps and tell me when I need to make a turn. Since she was already in Mississippi this time, I decided I'd get some directions from MapQuest to study before I left. And since I probably wouldn't be able to read the MapQuest instructions while I was driving, I also plugged one of those talking GPS machines into the cigarette lighter, just in case I forgot an exit number somewhere along the way.

It worked out pretty well for the most part, except that the lady on the GPS telling me what to do didn't always agree with the guy that works at MapQuest. I guess there's more than one way to get to Mississippi, and I'm still not sure which one of them had the best plan. I will say the lady on the GPS got awfully upset whenever I pulled off of the road to get some gas, or to get a Mountain Dew, or to get rid of one. Or when I decided to listen to the MapQuest guy instead of her.

We tend to get a lot of advice in our lives, both solicited and unsolicited, good and not so good, relevant and irrelevant. I think it's good to have some idea about where you are and where you want to end up before you decide which of it to take.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Run, Rahm, Run....

Several years ago, my wife Susan and I took the family to Chicago for the weekend. We tried to make an adventure out of it by riding the train up and back. The real adventure started when we were boarding the train to come back to Hagerstown on Sunday afternoon.

Turns out that Amtrak had sold more tickets than they had seats on the train, and after the girls climbed on, the conductor closed the door and informed the boys that we would have to find an alternative way home. When Susan explained to him that I had already spent way too much time in Chicago, and that it would be in everybodys' best interest to get me out of town as soon as possible, he found a couple of fold-down seats and a 5 gallon bucket for me and my sons so we could make our escape.

I never had any desire to return to Chicago. Still don't. But a couple of years ago I went out to Washington D.C. On the way back, the plane I was on had to land in Chicago. As it turned out, Chicago wouldn't let my plane leave Washington on time, and when I did manage to make it to Chicago, they had sent my flight to Indianapolis on without me. I finally made it home in about the same amount of time it would have required to drive from Washington to Hagerstown. And I wouldn't have had to go through Chicago.

Last weekend, I took Susan to the Dayton airport so she could fly to Memphis to babysit for our newest grandson for the week.
Of course, her flight had to make a quick stop in Chicago. 13 hours later she arrived in Memphis.

I drove to Memphis to pick her up in under 10 hours. And I stopped to get something to eat. Twice.

I read the other day that the courts had decided that Rahm Emanuel was qualified to be the mayor of Chicago. I was glad to hear it.

I hope he runs, and I hope he wins.

Chicago deserves him.