Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No news is no news...

Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child with a member of his household staff about 10 years ago. I know that because it was the lead story on one of the major TV networks this morning. And tonight. I suspect they will have more in-depth coverage on the story tomorrow morning. And tomorrow night.

I suppose they had to come up with something to on report now that the royal wedding is over and Charlie Sheen has been replaced on Two and 1/2 Men.

There were a couple stories that failed to make prime time news in the last week.
The Indiana Supreme Court took another bite out of our 4th Amendment protections here, and the Supreme Court of the United States did the same thing here.

The consequences of the Indiana decision have already started, with this sheriff chomping at the bit to conduct random searches whenever he's in the mood.

There's been a lot of discussion and analysis concerning the remarkably horrible decisions, mostly on alternative news sites and the Internet. If you want to weigh the options as to how those decisions might affect you, it would probably be a good idea to seek some of those sites out.

If you just want to find out who replaced Charlie Sheen, you can stick with the networks.


Friday, May 13, 2011


"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

That's the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. I think it's a good idea that the government should have to justify any intrusion into any citizen's home.

Like a lot of the protections afforded us by the Constitution, the 4th Amendment has been more loosely interpreted than most libertarians and constitutionalists would have approved.

It got a lot looser this week, at least in Indiana. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that if a police officer decides to enter your home for any reason, you don't have the right to stop him.

"In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry."

I'm pretty sure that's what they were concerned about when they put the amendment in there in the first place.

I'm not sure why those judges think it's in there.

Eating up time....

Gas prices being as they are, I try to stay and work as close to Hagerstown as I can. I related this story about our last venture out of Wayne County last fall. We are getting ready to do a couple of jobs that apparently require building permits over in Henry County.

I've never made it a secret that I'm opposed to the government requiring building permits in the private sector. I figure individual adults should be able to decide for themselves how they want to handle their business arrangements. If one of those individuals feels the need to involve a third party to help them handle the arrangements, that's okay too. I just never thought the government ought to force its way into the deal. Besides, in the 37 years I've been in business, I've never known a permit to do anything more than cost the consumer more money.

Still, I'm learning to better pick the time and place for my battles, so the other day when we broke for lunch, I drove over to New Castle to purchase said permits.

When I walked up to the annex building (I guess like most places Henry County has too much government to fit into just one building)at 11:55, I noticed a sign on the door that read "Closed for Lunch from 12:00 until 1:00". When I walked into the Building Commissioner's offices, I got the distinct feeling that none of the people in the room wanted me to be there any more than I wanted to be there.

I'm still not sure why all of the people in a public office feel the need to close it so they can all go to lunch at the same time, but then, I still haven't figured out what they were all doing there in the first place.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The road to ruin....

I attended a public hearing in Richmond tonight concerning the Wheel Tax the Wayne County Commissioners want to impose. It seems that since cars are getting better mileage and people are driving less, the county doesn't have enough money to properly maintain the roads.

I can understand how that might be a problem.

Apparently the Wayne County Highway Department budget is $3.2 million for this year. The highway department and the commissioners say that isn't enough. I don't know if it is or not.

I do know that there are about 68,000 people in Wayne County. I'm guessing that about 41,300 of them drive. I'm also guessing that each driver probably averages using about 15 gallons of gasoline a week. Like I said, I'm just guessing.

If those guesses are anyways close to being right, that means Wayne County drivers buy about 32,214,000 gallons of gasoline each year. We pay 52 cents in road use taxes for every gallon we buy. That totals up to about $16,751,280.00 per year. That doesn't include the 28 cents in sales tax we're paying on every gallon also.

You would think they could find $3.2 million somewhere in that amount. I guess not.

The state and federal government gets the lions share of our road use taxes, and they spend them on a lot of projects that don't involve roads.

Before the local government starts demanding more road use taxes from us, we need to demand that all levels of government spend the money they have already taken from us for its intended purpose.

It wouldn't hurt if our local officials started demanding that too.


Monday, May 02, 2011

Millions, Billions, Trillions.......

Back in my much younger days, I recall a television show named "The Millionaire". On the show, some guy would drive around the country in a car or train, and give a million dollars to some unsuspecting person. I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time, and while I didn't really have any conception about how many dollars were in a million, I remember thinking that it sounded like a lot of money. It still does, but just not as much as it used to.

Millionaires are more common than they were 50 years ago. Last year, according to CNN, about 8.4 million households in the United States had a net worth of a million dollars or more. People can make several million dollars a year playing on a baseball, basketball or football team. Or just by coaching a team. Every week we hear about somebody who just won a few million in a lottery somewhere, even if the odds of winning are over a million. While most of us will probably never own a million of anything, we do at least have some concept of what constitutes a million.

Our federal government has taken to dealing in billions and trillions of dollars over the past few decades. That's a whole different concept. I read a simple explanation of the difference between a million, a billion, and a trillion a while back. If we use seconds as a measure, we find a million seconds amounts to about 11 days. That doesn't seem like so much. But a billion seconds amounts to about 32 years, while a trillion seconds amounts to about 317 centuries. I think that's why most people who can grasp the concept of a million, have a little trouble relating to a billion or a trillion.

It sounded like a lot of money when Congress was arguing about whether to reduce next year's projected increase in the federal debt by $30 billion or $60 billion a couple of weeks ago. It still sounded like a lot of money when they settled on $38 billion. It didn't sound like quite as much when we found out that because of some creative government book keeping, the actual reduction in growth was going to be around $350 million.

As hard as it is to visualize a trillion dollars, it's even harder to imagine 14 trillion dollars. That's how big the immediate federal debt is. The federal governments long term obligations are five times that amount. That makes it even harder to envision.

Even if we have a hard time grasping how much the government spends, we don't have too much trouble understanding how much it costs each of us. If you are 35 years old and earn $45,000.00 per year, you can plan on sending the federal government about $425,000.00 between now and whenever the government finally loses interest in you. The amount will vary if you're older or younger, or if you earn more or less, but you get the picture.

I understand one of the main reasons more people aren't upset about a $14 trillion debt is because it is so hard to comprehend. But we can comprehend $425,000.00, and I can't understand why we aren't more upset about that.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Judge not....

I'm not a fan of reality TV. I've never watched an episode of "Survivor". I'm aware of the concept, but I could never get past the fact that just a few feet away from somebody who found it necessary to eat a bug in order to survive, was a camera crew with a motor home and and a refrigerator full of ham sandwiches.

My wife and I spent last weekend at the Libertarian Party of Indiana 2011 Convention up in La Porte. We ate a lot of food, listened to a lot of speakers, visited with a lot of friends, and all the other things people do when they have a convention.

On Saturday night, at this particular convention, the LPIN held a Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament. One of the players was Rupert Boneham, who recently decided to throw in with the LP and it's limited government philosophy. "Survivor" fan or not, you've probably seen Rupert in some capacity or another in the past few years. At least I have, but I never paid much attention. I've always had a hard time taking somebody seriously if they didn't seem to take themselves seriously. From a distance, and at least for me, Rupert's wardrobe and coiffure seemed to put him in that category.

I had a chance to visit with Rupert after my short stay at the tables. It turns out he's a serious guy. Aside from running a successful business, he also runs a program called Rupert's Kids. It gives young people that have run afoul of the law a better chance to get straightened out before they run afoul of the law again. He runs it with his own money, and corporate and private donations. I was impressed enough to make one. I was also impressed that he doesn't seek or accept tax money.

So I was wrong, and as part of my penance, I going to ask you to visit his website at http://rupertskids.org/ and send him some money or other help if you're so inclined.

But I'm not going to watch "Survivor".