Saturday, December 06, 2003

The Wide World of Sports

Every person uses tools to perform the work they do. A plumber uses wrenches and sealants. A landscaper uses mowers and rakes. Doctors use instruments. All use their minds to some degree or other, or should.

Athletes have their bodies as their foremost tool. Some people argue that athletes don't use their minds very much. I tend to give most athletes more credit than that, but I will have to concede that there is a group that clearly does not use their minds. In fact, this group is destroying the tools in order to make a point.

What kind of worker destroys his tools in order to demonstrate how oppresed he is? A moron? I guess some union strikers in a wildcat frenzy will do that... but I repeat myself... besides, their intent is to damage the tools provided them by the employer.

Honduran soccer players are destroying the tools, on a hunger strike. Not that I support the employers failing to make good on their end of the deal- far from it. It's just that it's hard to tell who is now harming the worker at the moment. It will be easy to tell in about a month.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

So It's Anathema? Big Deal

One of the biggest hurdles in taking the Libertarian Party from third party to major party status lies in the libertarians themselves. Stay with me on this.

Libertarians abhor government. They join a political party only with the greatest reluctance. Libertarians are living laissez faire, which means "leave us alone". So, it's anathema for libertarians to embrace the idea of becoming government officials.

Pity for us. You can't allow liberal Republicans and socialist Democrats to be the government officials and then also be surprised when they draft anti-liberty legislation or erect a labyrinth of red tape. In the language of my son Alex, "Duh".

In some parts of Indiana, there is actually an opportunity for LP members to be appointed to boards, such as zoning or planning, and some of our members are actually cringing at the thought. (Tell this to the LP of Ohio, where they just poured their souls into getting on the ballot. They have wet dreams about our opportunity.)

I understand the gut-reaction of the cringe. In a better world, government would be nice and small, and would leave us alone. Fact is, it isn't and it doesn't. So, who will it be? Us or them? Would you, as a libertarian, rather have a libertarian serving on a taxing body or a committed statist?".

I'll up the ante and point to what I do these days as an example of what being on the inside of the process can produce. I work for a County Surveyor's Office. Yes sir, I am inside the belly of the beast itself. I was hired by an elected official- a Republican- who has won re-election every time since 1977. I have found that he agrees with us on rather a lot. Not everything, of course, but he's a small government Republican. However, he has even asked me what it would take for us to replace the Democrats on the boards in the county!

Think about that possibility in terms of fiscal issues. If Democrats are on the left, and Republicans right of them, they meet in the middle, more or less. Consider what it would be like in some counties if taxing bodies were comprised of Republicans on the left and Libertarians on the right, meeting in the middle, more or less. Would that be of value to you?

Being alongside elected officials in the day-to-day work setting helps break down the barrier of common thought that goes, "if a Libertarian is elected, the city will be in flames within a week". I do my job very well. They see me do my job very well. They decide, "he's ok". They'll vote for me when I run for office. Moreover, being in government gives you the platform to talk about government in a real, germaine way... unlike Thanksgiving dinner.

I know that most libertarians are so because government is anathema to who they are. However, if we really want to change things, we'll have to get our hands dirty and do some things that may on first blush cause us to hold our noses. Who knows, though? You might even have some fun along the way. (For instance, I'm in Hamilton County, which is one of the most Republican counties in Indiana. I love telling Republicans that I could be one of them if they weren't such fiscal liberals! I love watching them cringe to that music.)

Look, the Declaration of Independence wasn't drafted by a bunch of people who sat around and theorized correctly about Adam Smith in cozy saftey. No, they did something they would rather have not done. They gave up their cozy safety and put their lives on the line.

I'm asking for much less when I ask libertarians to get off their debate society duffs, to put their money where their theory-gushing mouths are, and to get involved in government to affect change towards freedom. If you aren't willing to hold your nose and sit on a zoning board, YOU AREN'T WORTHY OF FREEDOM ANYHOW.

I Do Not Miss Cleveland

When I left Cleveland, I left a numbing mindset of clutching ever backward towards the past. I admit that one of the things I loved about Cleveland was the presence of big industry- steel, railroads, foundries, auto plants, and more. But, I love these things as functional giants, not the rotting hulks in closed-up mills and yards, and the ornamentation they have become in the entertainment district known as the Flats. These things made Cleveland a first-class city in around 1890. No more.

I left the punishing greed of the Democratic Party that rules northeast Ohio to the point that statewide, Ohio's Republicans are left of Indiana's Democrats. I gave myself a full 9.5% raise just by leaving Ohio, saving 4% in state income tax, 3.5% in municipal tax, and 2% in sales tax. The Democratic Party was innovative around 1900, with Mayor Tom. L. Johnson, the capital 'P' Progressive who made Cleveland the first city in the U.S. to own an electric utility. In better than 100 years, the Democrats have more or less owned the city, and look at the result. It was a first-class city that was loaded with towering industrialists such as John D. Rockefeller, and was an immigrant magnet around 1900. No more.
I Miss Cleveland

For the first time in my 15 or so months away from the ol' mistake on the Lake, I actually felt like I missed it once there. I was getting to where I was certain I would never feel such a thing, despite having spent most of my first 34 years there.

It wasn't the industrial landscape that I so love that moved me. I got to play an old game as I drove through the city, called, "I did a job here".

As a surveyor in the Cleveland area doing a lot of work for utility companies, I really blanketed the area. East Side, West Side, Downtown, outer suburbs- it doesn't matter. I can drive in any direction in the area for three minutes, and invariably I will be able to claim, "I did a job there". This is a game I used to annoy a co-worker as we drive across town.

It was a lot of fun to play. What I realized is that I had tangible evidence that I was contributing to my region. I could point to a telephone pole, a pedestal, a service cabinet, a vault, a manhole, and a hundred other structures and know that this was a result of my effort. I could see it every day.

I had no idea I could be so concrete! I know that I am having an impact in Indiana, both in the Surveyor's Office and in the Libertarian Party, but having it be evident almost everywhere was really gratifying.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Adios, Alex

It was so great to have Alex with me for four days over an extended Thanksgiving weekend. It was just like old times to be with him in Cleveland, and in our own little world. We went to Tower City in downtown Cleveland, went bowling, ate tons of food, visited with Grandma & Grandpa, played card games, wrestled, and generally had a blast.

It's tough saying goodbye to him- I hadn't seen him since getting married in June- but the upside is that Ame & I will be visiting him in January in Espana, and we get to look forward to that time when he will show us around his world, which is Rota and Andalucia. It will be a hoot!

I was chuckling as he squirmed through Grandma's, "look at how big you've gotten" -isms. I used to squirm to them, too. I spared him that corny spiel, but I did tell him many times that I think he's a great kid. It's no spiel. He really is a great kid.

Four days never passed so quickly.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

A Republican Member of Congress Speaks

Ok, so this is cheating a bit in my quest to dispel the notion that I am a frothing lunatic due to my prediction that the GOP is running itself into a schism. Now Ron Paul (R-TX) has chimed in with his own 'hear ye, fiscal conservatives: abandon all hope in the GOP' message. It's cheating because Paul was the Libertarian candidate for President in a past life. Still, he's a Republican today- just like Andy Horning.

"The Medicare prescription drug bill passed by Congress last week may prove to be a watershed event for political conservatives in America. This latest expansion of the federal government, potentially the largest in our nation’s history, is firmly in keeping with the failed New Deal and Great Society programs of the utopian left. This leaves true conservatives, who believe strongly in limited government and identify with the Goldwater-era Republican party, wondering whether they still have a political home in the modern GOP. In the eyes of many conservatives, today’s GOP simply has abandoned its limited-government heritage to buy votes and gain political power in Washington."

Last week, Neal Boortz brought it home thusly, and I paraphrase, 'Today's Republicans are where Democrats were in 1963, and today's Democrats are where the socialists were in 1963'.

Yep. The statists are winning the war, but this schism will help the individualists clarify the objectives.

Monday, December 01, 2003

The Ink Keeps Spilling

There seems to be an endless supply of well-known or well-placed conservative writers willing to criticize the GOP for their free spending ways. It is pleasing to me that there are so many that do retain their integrity, and who do criticize when the GOP parts ways with principle. (On the left, there are some who will criticize the Democrats, but rarely the well-known, and less than that for the well-placed, and usually the pseudo-intellectual types such as Christopher Hitchens.)

Donald Devine, a Reagan administration official, joins the chorus over the $400 billion Medicare 'reform' / prescription drug transfer of wealth in his article entitled "What Should Reaganites Do?".

Why, join the Libertarian Party, of course, but he dare not say that. What he does say, and the numbers he uses again reinforce that I am not a frothing lunatic.

An ABC News poll recently found disapproval of Bush's job performance among self-described conservatives has increased from 14 to 23 percent. By contrast, Ronald Reagan wanted to cut the welfare state and was generally successful, being rewarded with committed conservative support in good times and bad. Conservatives may have no option in 2004 (other than staying home) but, if they want to recover the Reagan philosophy, they will get no assistance from anyone in party or government today, so they had better start devising a course of action by themselves.

Reaganites who care to be honest will have to begin to assert themselves forcefully while they still can wrest control of the GOP back to its' small government ways. Otherwise, the LP will be their only hope, like it or not.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Letters To The Editor, IV

What fun to be in Cleveland for an extended holiday weekend and to discover that the Indy Star has printed another one of my letters.

I am amazed that it ran as-is, since the thing essentially reads like ad copy. I am pleased and grateful. Is that redundant? I think so.

Couldn't Have Said It Better, II

I am becoming less and less a frothing lunatic as the chorus of committed conservatives and Republicans chimes in to criticize the $400 billion Medicare "reform" bill.

Cal Thomas' article is especially damning, chucking skewers at the GOP in general:

"Smaller government and less spending? That's a joke. Eleven years ago, Newt Gingrich, who would soon become Speaker of the House, blasted Democrats for seeing "no contradiction between adding a billion and a half dollars in pork-barrel (spending) for the politicians in their big-city machines and voting for a balanced budget amendment." Now that Republicans are doing precisely what Democrats did when they were in the majority, what shall we call these overspending Republicans? Hypocrites? Liars?"

Thomas asks, rhetorically, "Is it time for another revolution yet? Who's got the tea?"

I like the fissure that is emerging. Let's make it a chasm. We have the tea!