Friday, February 17, 2012

That Old House....

Bell Contracting will have been around for 38 years this May. We started out doing home remodeling and room additions, and even after we started building new homes, we still did home remodeling and room additions. We've had the pleasure of working on some really neat older homes over the years.

And we've looked at a few houses that were to run down to fix up. Sometimes you could put on a new roof and some new siding and make one look a little better, but if the foundation and structure is shot, bringing it back to something you really want can be impractical. Occasionally, it's a house that has been in the family for a long time. Maybe it was Grandpa's house, and people really want to try and save it, to the point that it crowds out practical thinking.

I run into the same type of thinking a lot when it comes to political parties. Whenever I run for office on the Libertarian ticket, there are always people who suggest that I would be better off running as a Republican, and then working to change the party. And maybe, if the GOP was as interested in restoring a Constitutional government after the election as it was before the election, or if it was the least bit interested in protecting the civil liberties of people that disagree with them, or if they thought for even a minute that forced wealth re-distribution was as bad when they do it as it is when the Democrats do it, then I might believe it was possible.

But they don't. I guess old parties can get like that, so I think I'll just keep on working on building a new one.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Where never is heard, a discouraging word...

If you've ever been in the small part of the crowd, you've probably felt like you might have been fighting a losing battle occasionally. As a Libertarian pushing for a Constitutionally limited government, I know the feeling well. And sometimes more than occasionally.

But occasionally, you can get a little boost. Last evening, I attended the Young Americans for Liberty presentation, "The War on Terrorism, The Constitution and Civil Liberties. I had pretty much resigned myself to the notion that the Libertarians were the only group protesting the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, which now gives Barack Obama, (and possibly Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum in the future), the power to order the detention and execution of any person, anywhere in the world.

Last night I discovered that not only Libertarians like Jacob Hornberger oppose this latest and unprecedented expansion of abusive government power, but so do Liberals like Glenn Greenwald, and Conservatives like Bruce Fein. And they oppose it passionately. It felt pretty good to hear representatives of three different philosophies speaking out against government and for freedom. And I slept a little better when I finally made it to bed.

And besides all of that, I finally had the chance to meet Jacob Hornberger:

It was a good night, and gave a little hope for a better tomorrow.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Barn again....

About 100 years ago, or maybe about 50 years ago, my Dad built a barn for my younger brother, Ross. We all had a lot of fun with it, and later on in life I thought I ought to build one for my own kids. But there was an awfully lot going on when we were raising our kids, and somehow I just never got around to it.

A while back, I thought maybe I'd give barn building another shot, this time for the grandkids. I finally got around to it. I guess some of my priorites changed as I got a little older.

I noticed something else about getting older after I built it. The barn that I grew up with had something called a haymow. It was kind of like a loft. Every summer, we put bales of hay on one end, and bales of straw on the other end. Back then, bales of hay looked like this: We loaded them on a wagon, put them on the elevator to get them up to the mow, and stacked them to the roof in the north end.

Down in the straw on the south end, on some Sunday afternoons, when the Hilbert boys came over and after Sunday dinner, we would gather up some slab wood, and move and stack enough bales of straw to make a vertitable fortress of tunnels and caverns, the deepest and furthest back serving as the Fortress of Solitude. I doubt if the tunnels and caverns were as long and deep as we imagined at the time, and looking back, the Fortress of Solitude didn't really offer much protection when Dad hollered up that it was time to do the milking, or when Mom said it was time to come in for supper.

So the barn I built for the grandkids has a haymow, even though they probably don't know what a haymow is. Today, most bales of hay look like this: I guess they weigh about 1200 pounds, and they don't really lend themselves to building tunnels and caverns and Fortresses of Solitude.

But that doesn't mean I can't regale the Grandkids with stories of how things used to be. Or at least how I imagined things used to be.

I guess that's something else that comes with getting older.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

On my shirt list...

Back in the mid 1990's, I ordered a new truck from one of my neighbors who worked at for a car dealer up in Muncie. When I went to pick it up, I noticed it didn't have a rear bumper. When I pointed that fact out to the salesman, he and told me that I hadn't specified that I wanted a bumper. Apparently, bumpers were optional. It's been almost 20 years, and I'm still not completely over that experience.

This morning when I was getting ready for church, I reached into my closet and pulled out a shirt that I had received for Christmas. It is a nice looking shirt, but it had never worked its way to the end of the clothes rod before, so I had never had the occasion to wear it until today. To my horror, I discovered after I put it on that it didn't have a pocket.

I've always thought shirt pockets were one of the handiest inventions ever devised by man, hence the old saying, "It's as handy as a pocket on a shirt". I go out of my way to buy shirts with pockets. My work shirts have 2 pockets. With flaps and buttons.

I don't know who this Ralph Lauren guy is, but if I ever meet him, I'm going to tell him he doesn't know much about making shirts.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Just the facts, ma'am...

Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." He was probably correct, although it seems in today's increasingly intolerant society, a large number of people aren't too crazy about other people being entitled to opinions that are different from their own.

And maybe when Mr. Moynihan made that statement, facts were facts, and opinions were opinions, but the lines are kind of blurred today. Nowadays the difference between the two can be decided by a number of factors, often by which side of an issue a person is on. We are getting ready for an election this fall, and we are hearing a lot of claims, usually presented as facts, from all sides of the political spectrum.

In the past couple of weeks, I've read and heard stories claiming that our economy is getting better, and stories that our economy is getting worse. I've also heard that we have more jobs now than we had 3 years ago, along with a few stories claiming that we fewer jobs than we had 3 years ago. Often those stories involve explanations and qualifiers about the differences between then and now, and comparisons between private and public sector jobs.

It's not very often that one of those stories starts or ends with the phrase, "In our opinion".

Over in Indianapolis, our legislators have been spending a lot of time debating the so called "Right to Work" law. There certainly are a lot of different opinions on the law, with Republicans generally holding the opinion that it's a good law, Democrats holding the opinion that it's a bad law, and Libertarians holding the opinion that it's none of the governments business. I think that might be an example of the "opinions" Mr. Moynihan was speaking about.

But the Indiana Chamber of Commerce claimed personal income increased in Right to Work States, and the Economic Policy Institute claimed personal income decreased in Right to Work states. I'm pretty sure both of them considered their claim to be a fact. I'm also pretty sure one of them is mistaken.

I make my best effort not to be offended by other peoples' opinions, even though there are some real crazy ones out there. Admittedly, I would prefer that a lot of people keep some of the crazier ones to themselves, but as long as they don't try to force their opinions on me, I've always figured that we could work out a way to at least be civil to each other.

Unfortunately, mixing opinions and government doesn't usually work out that way. If a group of politicians and bureaucrats are of the opinion that businesses need to be subsidized with your tax dollars in order to improve the economy, you can pretty well bet that their opinion is going to become a law.

Over the years, our government has developed the opinion that it needs to be in control of every aspect of our lives. From how we distribute our income, to how we save for our retirement, to what we eat and drink. Who we marry, how big the windows are in our homes, even who cuts our hair.

Just to make a point, I've asked several people in the last few years to name 3 things that the government doesn't tax or regulate. Most people can't.

And that's a fact.