Thursday, July 17, 2003

First Bummer

Whether speaking politically or economically, in my 10 months in Indiana, I have found almost everything to be more positive here than in the state I left behind, Ohio.

I gave myself a decent raise just in terms of the income taxes. In Ohio, my income tax rate was a little above 7%. In Indiana, it is 3.13%. In Ohio, I was subjected to double municipal taxes. When I worked in Parma but lived in Cleveland, one charged me 2% and the other 1.5%. In Indiana, I am charged 0.25% by Marion County. That's better than a 7% raise... just for swapping states!

I gained the ability to vote for the party I am a member of, the Libertarian Party, when I moved to Indiana. I couldn't do that in Ohio. The Republicans- Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in particular- made sure of that. Indiana had 160 candidates in 2002. Ohio had zero.

As much as I like my new state, I had hoped to hang on to my Ohio driver's license until it would expire in 2005. My plan was that it would stay in my wallet, along with the money I save in not getting an Indiana licnese. But the BMV threw a wrench in that plan, since my Ohio plates expired in June of 2003. The clever Indiana BMV would not issue Indiana plates without an Indiana drivers license.

So, about 50 bucks and a written test later, I got my Indiana license. It was pretty much in line with the cost of one in Ohio. Then I got my new title and Indiana plate.


I asked why the heck it cost so much. I was told that there was an excise tax collected by the BMV, the amount of which depended upon my vehicle.

I have a 1997 Saturn SL2. It's a simple A-to-B car. No frills. 130,000 miles. I asked how much the tax would be on an average new car. I was told that it would be anywhere from $800 to $1,000!

Back home, I told Ame about this. Ame has a 1996 Chevy Cadaver, er, Cavalier, with about 125,000 miles. It isn't surviving nearly as well as the Saturn, and she talks frequently about buying a new car. Her response? A definite, "I won't be buying a new car any time soon."

Isn't this a great policy? The people of Indiana are discouraged from buying new cars by an agregious tax. Think about the ramifications of that. Hoosiers are encouraged to drive cars that are falling apart, posing safety risks to the driver inside and everyone else on the roadway. The state that relies more on manufacturing for employment than any other state in the Union, and is especially reliant on the auto industry, proactively shies its own people away from purchasing the products they help make.

The tax is part of an economic shell game. Where Indiana doesn't take through the income tax, it takes through the BMV. It even brags about how the Hoosier Lottery- the greatest tax on ignorance ever invented- helps lessen the excise taxes. You mean if people were smarter and didn't play the Lottery, the excise tax would be higher? Is intelligence ever rewarded instead of punished?

Indiana may be better than Ohio, but it isn't any kind of utopia.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Suits Me

Remember when that zealot, Stephen Joseph, tried to get Oreo Cookies banned in the People's Republic of California?

I was shopping at Wild Oats- one of those hoity-toity grocers where everything seems to be priced 200% higher than at the usual chain grocers, with a heavy emphasis on organic products.

I always get a chuckle out of packaged organic foods. There may not have been any pesticide used, but there is often no shortage of sodium or fat in these packaged goodies.

I got the biggest guffaw out of Paul Newman's line of snacks. The Newmans make a big deal on their packaging about being organic and giving the profits to their favorite 'progressive' causes.

That wasn't the gag. The gag was seeing the Newman Oreo equivalent on the shelf. Newman-O's have that naughty saturated fat, but no word on that bad, evil, trans-fat.

Will the zealot be pursuing Newman-O's with the same rigor? I doubt it.

Don't get me wrong. I actually like seeing Newman's products on the shelf. The difference between a capitalist and an authoritarian such as Stephen Joseph is this: A capitalist enjoys seeing more choices in the marketplace, not less, and even enjoys seeing products such as Newman's, that have it built in to support causes I do not necessarily support. The authoritarian will actively seek to eliminate marketplace choices, preventing the capitalist from enjoying the freedom the capitalist will grant the authoritarian.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

More From a Most Favored Source

If 6,995 American workers lost their lives on the job in one year, how would most critics react?

If these lives were lost in just one industry, how much howling would be heard about the need to get the government involved?

If these lives- just shy of seven thousand- were lost in just one segment of one industry in one year, wouldn't there be almost universal outcry?

Of course. One could expect the usual accusations to fly from the usual critics: lousy, indifferent management; exploitation of the workers; the greed of ownership; etc.

In this case, the usual critics would be correct. Unfortunately, I have not heard the accusations from the usual critics. Why? The operation in question is China's state owned coal mining industry.

My latest Most Favored Source ran an expose` on this Most Favored Nation's latest human rights outrage in their Tuesday, July 8 edition. There is a dismaying photograph of mine workers pushing three loaded coal hopper cars on a railroad track, up grade.

Mining is filthy business, but at least in the United States, where the greedy capitalist owners are said to run amok, locomotives do this work, and have done so since roughly the time of the Civil War.

If anyone needs to see the difference between capitalism and socialism, this should serve nicely.
Favored Source

I tend to pick up a newspaper every day when at work, usually the Indianapolis Star, but sometimes I get the Noblesville papers. When nothing else is available, I get the USA Today.

That's not a slam on the USA Today, although if I have my first choice for a national paper, I get the Investors Business Daily. That's an excellent newspaper. I just prefer to read the local papers.

I ended up picking up USA Today three times this past week. It was just as well, since the local papers were loaded with little but flood coverage. Since I work for the County Surveyor, I get my fillover flood coverage first hand.

One thing had me riveted through three lunches: the States section. It lists one item from each of the 50 states every day. Here are some that caught my eye:

Tuesday, July 8
Columbus - Ohio State University lost a $540,000 state grant for reducing tobacco use among adults in two rural counties after accepting a grant from Philip Morris. The medical school's neuroscience department is using $590,000 from the tobacco company to study how nicotine affects nerve cells. The state grant prohibited recipients from taking money from a tobacco company.

Sounds like OSU is still money ahead, no matter what politically correct edit is issued.

Tuesday, July 8
Portola - Six years after the state poisoned a Sierra lake to rid it of voracious northern pike, the population of the non-native fish is growing fast. A recent effort using explosives to destroy spawning pike in Lake Davis also failed. The pike threaten native fish, and officials fear they will escape from the lake.

If California poisons a lake, it's considered environmental action. If anyone else does it? I've love to see what would happen if a group of sportsmen took to the lake with explosives.

Friday, July 11
Los Angeles - The city will pay nearly $170,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by dozens of homeless people arrested during police sweeps of Skid Row. About $75,000 will go to about 58 people. A class-action lawsuit claimed that the two-day probation and parole sweep resulted in the arrests of many without a violation being properly documented.

How many forties of St. Ides will that buy?

Monday, July 7
Nampa - A former Mexican police officer was among those arrested in a drug bust that netted 100 pounds of marijuana. Adan Diaz, 28, of Stockton, Calif., and two others were arrested on an anonymous tip.

And the Free State Project is seriously looking at Idaho... I guess there will be some changes to be made right away!

Bloggers take note. These are rarely the big stories, but often, they should be. The bonus of the online edition: a full week for each state, per page!