Saturday, March 31, 2012

No butts about it....

I suppose there have been rules of some sort since the beginning of time, though probably not as many as we have today. Adam and Eve lost some pretty sweet accommodations because they broke just one. We had several rules back at Millville Grade School too, but they didn't have the same effect on everybody. My old buddy Stinky Wilmont spent a lot more time down in Principal Walter's office than Bernice Hawkins did, even though the same rules applied to everybody. I don't imagine Bernice ever even considered breaking one of the rules, but I figured Stinky broke most of them whether he considered them or not. I'm guessing he never would have made it through with the rules they have in place today.

I read an article the other day that listed some of 40,000 new laws and regulations that state and local governments put in place for 2012. I kind of side with Stinky on this, in that we already have more laws than we can consider. I've asked several people over the years to name 3 things that the government doesn't tax or regulate. Most people couldn't come up with an answer, and it just got a little tougher this year.

Not to say that all laws are bad. Just like some of the rules at Millville kept Stinky from injuring another person, some of the laws we face as adults serve the same purpose. And even if a law doesn't serve that or any purpose, I find as an adult some of them are pretty easy to follow. I don't know if there is still a rule about not running in the hallway, but if there is, I can safely say that I haven't violated it in a number of years. In fact, I think I can say that I haven't violated it if there is a rule about not running anywhere.

There are a lot of laws on the books that are probably good ideas, even if they don't really make good laws. There's a law in Ohio that makes it illegal for more than 5 women to live together in a house. Being raised with four sisters in a house with one bathroom, I can see where this might be a good idea. Not sure it should be a law, though. And I'm not sure who it is supposed to protect. I feel the same way about laws designed to protect us from ourselves. Like mandatory adult seat belts. Good idea, bad law.

A lot of the old laws and new laws don't affect most of us, so we probably don't pay much attention to them. There's a law in Alabama that you can't chain an alligator to a fire hydrant. Now, I don't know about you, but I would never consider chaining my alligator to a fire hydrant. I never even considered taking him to Alabama.

There's a new law in California this year that makes it illegal to buy, sell, or produce caffeinated beer. I didn't even realize caffeinated beer had become such a problem. I'm sure it won't be for people that don't drink beer, and I can't imagine it would be for any self-respecting beer drinker. But then, I'm not from California, either. There's also a new law in New York that you can't possess a bear's gall bladder. Although it doesn't state so explicitly, I'm assuming bears are exempt from that one.

I also saw that Merrillville, Indiana, is considering an ordinance that would make it illegal for people to wear saggy pants. They define saggy as being more than 3 inches below the hip. Since my waist and hips aren't as easily definable as they used to be, I'll probably just try to stay out of Merrillville, so as not to create a scene. The town council says a violation would result in fines, but not criminal charges.

I'm not sure how that works. I guess it would be alright as long as the violator agreed to pay the fine, but as George Washington so aptly pointed out, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force." Every time the government passes a new law, that law is backed up with some type of punishment if we don't obey it. And if we disagree and don't comply with the stated punishment, the government ups the ante and takes us into court. And if we refuse to submit to the court, the government comes to get us with guns.

Eventually, every law is backed by the threat of eventual government violence, which makes me believe that the only laws we should have in place are the ones that protect us from force and fraud.

And then we can tell people that we think it might be a good idea for them to fasten their seatbelt, or pull up their britches, or buy health insurance, but that we're not going to put them in jail, or shoot them if they don't.

Friday, March 23, 2012

And the winner is...

Last December, Congress passed and President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which gave President Obama the power to arrest and indefinitely detain, without formal charges, any United States citizen anywhere in the world. On March 16th, President Obama signed an executive order called National Defense Resources Preparedness, which essentially allows President Obama to declare martial law at any time, and allows several of his department heads to seize control of any private business or private property they choose, basically for any reason they choose, at any time they choose.

We need to remember that these powers that President Obama and his department heads have acquired, will be handed down to the next president and his or her department heads. It may be President Romney, or President Santorum, or President Palin, or some other president that we have never even considered.

That's the problem with giving so much power to the president or the government. Your guys don't always win. Contact your legislators now about these horrific assaults on our freedoms, and choose your candidates very carefully this fall. And ask yourself how much power you want the government to have if your team loses.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Yes you can....

We spend a lot of time discussing what government should and shouldn't do. Being a Libertarian, I generally think government should do a lot less than it does.

We also spend a lot of time discussing what government can and can't do. About a hundred years ago, we decided that the government could lay claim to some portion of our income. We didn't put any limit on the amount it can claim, leaving ourselves in the position that the government could seize 100% of what we earn if it deemed it necessary.

More recently, Congress passed and President Obama signed, The National Defense Authorization Act. It gave our government the ability to indefinitely detain, or execute, any person in the world.

Last Friday, President Obama signed an executive order entitled National Defense Resources Preparedness. You can read the whole thing here:

It basically gives a whole list of government agencies the ability to seize, in peacetime, any type or amount of private property they deem necessary for practically any reason.

We can continue to discuss what our government should do, but there isn't much sense in discussing what our government can do.

As of last Friday, it can do whatever it wants to do.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Endeavoring to persevere...

There's something to be said for perseverance. Usually. I received a call the other evening from Phillip, who said he was representing the Indiana State Police, and he offered to send me a window sticker if I would send him $50.00. I hurriedly explained that I was late for a meeting, and that I just didn't have time to talk to him right then. He apologized, and asked if he could count on me for $25.00. I told Phillip good-bye and hung up the phone.

A few evenings later, I got another call from somebody, (I couldn't understand his name), who also offered to send me a window sticker if I would send $50.00 to the State Police. Since I had a little more time to talk to old "what's his name" than I did to talk with Phillip, I relayed This Story to him, explaining how I had received a seat belt ticket last year, and how it had cost me a goodly part of 4 days work, plus the gas it took to drive to Richmond, plus a $25.00 fine.

I explained that I wouldn't be contributing until the State Police took a stand against mandatory seat belt laws for adults, and until I was able to recoup my losses from my last incident involving the police.

He apologized, and asked if he could count on me for $25.00.

I'm still not too happy about the seat belt laws, but I did get a kick out of old what's his name.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

War of the Words...

I'm one that tends to lean towards diplomacy and persuasion instead of violence or force whenever a disagreement between people or ideals arises. I probably didn't always give that approach a chance to work when I was raising my children, but as I've grown a little older, and hopefully a little wiser, it just seems like a better policy.

Besides, looking at things from a more limited government Libertarian angle often puts me on the opposite side of the fence from people who favor a less limited government.

I have realized, and seemingly more so lately, that a lot of people get really upset when they have a difference of opinion with other people.

We are in the middle of a national debate about whether insurance companies should be required by law to provide birth control for women. (I'm not sure if anybody is advocating that insurance companies should be required to provide birth control for men.) Being a Libertarian, I'm of the opinion that insurance companies and the people that buy insurance from those companies should decide what benefits they want to offer and purchase. It really doesn't have anything to do with men or women. It has to do with people and companies making their own decisions.

That opinion makes some people that want a lot of government so mad that they claim people who have that opinion have declared a "War on Women". Now, I can't speak for everybody, but personally, I like women for the most part. Even the occasional attitude adjustment I received from my Mom, and the very rare grief I receive from my wife wouldn't be enough for me to declare war on half of the population of the world.

I'm also a fan of parental choice in education. I think parents have the right to decide what type of education their children should receive, even if we haven't figured out the correct funding formula just yet. People that want the government to decide what kind of education other peoples' children claim that people who support parental choice have declared war on public schools, teachers and even children. Again, while I can't speak for everybody, I'm pretty fond of a lot of public schools, most teachers, and just about all children. I'm certainly not even close to declaring war on any of them. (Except maybe that smart-alec kid that lives down on South Street and makes obscene gestures at me when I drive by.)

Apparently people who like a lot of government believe that anybody who supports individual choice and responsibility are at war with all sorts of groups and people.

Again, I can't speak for everybody, but I'm not at war with anybody. I do get a little irritated at people when they try to use the force of government to make other people comply with their vision of how we should live our lives and conduct our business.

But I'm not at war with them.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Stinky Wilmont, my old buddy back at Millville Grade School, usually seemed to have a way of making things work out to his advantage. I can recall more than a few instances when Stinky would ask his Mother's permission to join in on some misadventure that the neighborhood lost boys were planning. If his mother's answer was "no", he would then rephrase the question and perhaps the description of the upcoming event and seek permission from his father, usually asking during chore time, and while Stinky was performing his appointed duties with an unusually cheerful demeanor and determination. If he was able to elicit a more favorable response on the second ask, he would then return to his mother, explaining how his father had given his blessing for the affair, and wondering why she wanted to deny Stinky even this short time of camaraderie, especially since he had done such an excellent job taking care of his chores. I was always amazed at the number of times Stinky was able to turn initial defeat into ultimate victory using that technique.

Of course, Stinky's plan didn't work out quite as well if both parents agreed that "no" was the final answer right from the start. That scenario didn't leave him much to work with.

I've seen similar situations play out between citizens and the political parties in Congress. As long as the parties stood on opposite sides of an issue, a voter could voice approval or disapproval by casting his or her vote in the appropriate direction. As long as one party was opposed to massive deficit spending by the federal government, citizens at least had a chance to voice their displeasure with it by supporting that party. Now that both major parties agree that deficit spending is acceptable, the most a person can hope for by voting for either party is a chance to agree that a $1.28 trillion deficit isn't as bad as a $1.31 trillion deficit.

If at least one of the major parties was opposed to corporate welfare, which involves the forced transfer of taxpayer money and the granting of special favors to selected businesses, we could vote for one party over the other in hopes of discouraging such behavior. It becomes a little harder to send that message when neither major party at the federal, state, and right down to the county level, has even the slightest qualm about handing out favors and money like candy at a parade. Of course, the businesses on the receiving end might vary, depending upon that company's compatibility with the current ruling party, but the basic premise of legal forced redistribution remains the same.

We hear a lot of calls for bi-partisanship these days. Apparently some people think we would be better off if our elected officials could get along and work together a little bit better. And that might be alright if they were working together to reduce the size, scope, and cost of government. But if history is any indicator, most of the time when both parties get along, government gets a little bigger, a little more intrusive, a little more expensive, and a little further in debt.

I don't know about you, but I would feel a little bit better knowing there is someone in the front seat that will say "no", even when most everybody else is saying "yes".

I think even Stinky would agree with that.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Rooting for the right things...

Henry David Thoreau once stated that "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." I guess he meant that people are more inclined to examine the more frivolous aspects of a problem than to examine its basic core. Henry came to mind this week when I heard a lot of people, both in and out of Congress, arguing about whether the government should force health insurance companies to furnish birth control materials and services to their customers.

For the most part, Democrats and liberals claim that companies should be required to provide the materials and services, while Republicans and conservatives claim that the companies shouldn't be required to provide the materials and services. It seems that currently the former group is winning, although I suspect the latter group will continue to hack away at this latest government intrusion into our health care affairs, not because they are opposed to government intrusion, but simply because they are opposed to this particular intrusion.

Nobody, except Libertarians, are striking at the root of the problem, which is that government shouldn't be forcing any business to offer any service. Certainly if a person enters into a contract with an insurance company, one of the roles of government should be to offer both parties a remedy if the contract isn't followed or honored, but that's about as far as government should go.

With the number of people who apparently want birth control coverage, we can rest assured that many companies would be willing to step up and offer policies that included that coverage. I also trust that many companies would be willing to offer policies that don't offer that coverage, for those of us who find our insurance more affordable if it is used for occasional catastrophes instead daily expenses.

I've also heard the argument that since people have the right use birth control, health insurance companies should be required furnish it. We also have the right to buy gasoline, but I'm not sure we should expect our auto insurance company to fill our tanks anytime in the near future. Unless, that is, you find a policy that offers that provision. And if enough people request it, you can bet some company somewhere will offer such a policy.

One thing so many people misunderstand about their individual rights is that they cannot conflict with another person's individual rights. While one person has the right to buy and use birth control, the next person also has the right to abstain from buying and using birth control. Your right remains valid until you use force, or the threat of force, to prevent another person from buying or using it, or until you use force, or the threat of force, to make another person buy or use it.

A lot of Republicans and Democrats believe our individual rights can be negated as long as a majority of elected officials and a handful of judges agree on some new law or government program.

That's not right.