Saturday, February 28, 2004

Letters To The Editor, 3

The GOP has continued its stalling tactics in the Indiana legislature. I think this is a great thing, as I have stated before, not for their reasons, but for mine. No bills being passed = less intrusive government at all levels.

However, I know that the public does not think as I do. They think that if the legislators are paid to vote on measures, then they should show up and vote on measures.

Fair enough. I can adapt. After all, if Libertarians were there in the place of the Republicans, there would not be a boycott. There would be votes against larger, more intrusive government. My letter in today's Star:

Apparently, Republicans believe that gay marriage is the most important issue in the state of Indiana today, and that grinding the process to a halt is the most important strategy. Libertarians disagree completely.

If Libertarians were in the Statehouse, there would not be a boycott but rather votes in favor of smaller government and small business. The Libertarian Party never loses sight of the priorities of Hoosiers. There is a place for the debate over the role of the state in marriage, but it is secondary to strengthening the state's economy.

Michael R. Kole

Note to self: Next time, remember to let the Star know that you are the Secretary of the LPIN.

The timing of my letter was perfect, as it sat next to another letter from a man angered with both Republicans and Democrats over this freeze:

The picture of the Indiana legislators laughing on the front page of the Feb. 26 Star makes my blood boil. These men appear to be having a great time playing politics, joking and putting on stunts to impress each other.

Meanwhile, the residents of our state are seeing no progress on critical issues. How about creating a climate that attracts and keeps businesses in our state? How about an updated tax system that properly funds our infrastructure and schools without bankrupting long-time homeowners? How about full-day kindergarten to give our kids a competitive education? How about a Bureau of Motor Vehicles that efficiently serves our citizens instead of appearing on "America's Most Wanted"? How about reducing the absurdly high number of bureaucrats so we can get our state budget on track?

It appears it's easier to grandstand on the gay marriage issue while everything else continues to deteriorate.

This fall, when it comes to the state elections, I'm not voting Republican. I'm not voting Democrat. I'm voting against the incumbents. They had their chance and they squandered it. Laugh at that!

Doug Knowles

I'll have to reach out to Mr. Knowles with a letter inviting him to join the LP!

Thursday, February 26, 2004

What To Do With The GOP?

Indiana House Republicans have chosen a bit of grandstanding over the work of legislating. Should I be tearing them up or praising them? From the Indy Star:

"Wednesday was the long-announced deadline for House lawmakers to amend Senate bills, setting the stage for final negotiations next week between the two chambers.

Instead, 60 bills failed to advance because the stalemate denied Democrats, who control the flow of legislation, the 67-member quorum needed to do business for much of the day."

My first instinct is to praise the Republicans, as I have earlier. After all, I have strong doubts that any of the 60+ bills before the house are the kind that will bring about smaller government. I have strong suspicions that these bills will bring bigger government, more intrusive government, and more expensive government, so anything anyone can do to jam a 70-lb. monkey wrench into the gears is something of a hero to me.

However, the GOP boycott has now extended into a second day, making it for me a glorious 1.5 bill-free days. The public, however, is going to begin to see this as inactivity. The public wants to know that the legislature is 'getting things done', and is increasingly aware that nothing is getting done.

It's probably time for an info campaign to let people know that getting nothing done is a comparative good thing. Still, pretty soon, the GOP is going to start to look bad. Today is the deadline for getting these bills passed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Democracy at Work

The issue of gay marriage reveals why democratic approaches to policy are so inferior to principled ones. In this case both the left and right can be left out.

I have explained previously how the churches, who should be in control of the institution, are left without the final say on the matter, to the dismay of the right. The state has ultimate control of who marries, or doesn't.

The left has the hardest time accepting the possibility that democracy can work against the cause of civil rights, but has the most stark examples of just that happening. Gay marriage is merely the latest. It is clear that if the issue were to be put to the vote, the American people would ban gay marriage, post haste. From Armstrong Williams:

"A recent Zogby poll indicated that 70 percent of Massachusetts's citizens do not favor the decision allowing homosexual couples to marry. And it's not just Massachusetts. Recent polls by "The New York Times" and CBS News and one by "USA Today" and CNN, all found that more than 60 percent of Americans oppose the legalization of homosexual unions."


"Just one thing - there is also a long tradition in this country of using moral codes to prohibit conduct deemed immoral by the majority of the citizens, as evidenced by restrictions against prostitution, bestiality, pedophilia, etc. As Justice Scalia tersely noted in his dissent, Texas's anti-sodomy laws is "well within the range of traditional democratic action, and its hand should not be stayed through the invention of a brand-new 'constitutional right' by a court that is impatient of democratic change." In other words, the matter of homosexual rights should not simply be dictated by the whims of appointed judges."

Nor, however, should the matter be dictated by the whim of mob rule, which is the straight-talk definition of 'rule by the majority'. It shouldn't even be dictated by the long tradition of excluding homosexuals.

I wonder, for instance, how Mr. Williams would feel if a referendum were on the ballot which excluded blacks from the right to marry whites. Williams, a black man, might be inclined to cry foul, citing the civil rights of blacks to choose their spouse. Alas, there had been a long tradition in this country of using moral codes to prohibit conduct deemed immoral by the majority of the citizens- in this case, miscegenation. There was a long tradition of Jim Crow. Was it the long tradition that justified it? Was it that the majority supported it?

No, the moral principle of equal treatment before the law is far more compelling than a long, and wrong, tradition. For libertarians, the saw goes, 'democracy is often little more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner'. Democracy should never be used as a tool of oppression, which is what it can easily become.
My Kind of Business!

There seems to be a lot of hand-wringing going on over the issue of gay marriage. I'm really enjoying the spectacle. Here, the people who really want to pry into other people's personal choices are putting themselves on parade. More importantly, the role of the state in marriage is being discussed, and I say it's high time.

When I married last June, Ame and I got to experience the distasteful process of filling out an application for permission from the state to wed. Permission! From the state! It's some kind of America we have today. We have to get permission to have a garage sale, permission to work on the roof over the house we own, permission to renovate the house we own, and permission to marry the love of our life. Curiously, nobody needs a permit to reproduce, a much more grave proposition. I think that's all in reverse, but I'll take my holdings where I can find them.

The state has no business being in the business of marriage. That's something that should have remained the domain of the churches. Making marriage a civil process is one self-inflicted wound my secular brethren have made, and the proof lies in the fact that many churches throughout the 50 states would be willing to marry any pair that presents itself, while only a few states will do so.

But the business of grandstanding in favor of socialized marriage hit a high point here in Indiana yesterday. Some legislators are so eager to affirm that marriage is the state's business, especially where homosexuals are concerned, that they did my bidding. GOP legislators boycotted proceedings in the statehouse yesterday afternoon! From the Indy Star:

Republican lawmakers pushing for debate on their proposal to ban gay marriage boycotted the Indiana House on Monday, bringing the legislature to a standstill as it entered a pivotal week in the 2004 session.

House Democrats refused to go along with Republicans' demands to vote on a "blast motion" to force debate of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. It's not clear how long the partisan stalemate will continue.

The House has today off and will try to conduct business again Wednesday if Republicans return to the chamber.

The national debate over gay marriage has entered the Indiana General Assembly during the final two weeks of the legislative session -- stalling action on at least 83 bills dealing with issues ranging from child welfare to indoor fireworks.

Brilliant! No laws were passed yesterday afternoon, which means, no new hidden taxes were decreed; no for-my-own-good laws were enacted; Peter was not robbed to pay Paul. It was the kind of day-and-a-half in the legislature that I might have planned, stalling 83 bills in one fell swoop. This is good government!

Monday, February 23, 2004

Nader Is In

A co-worker asked me if Ralph Nader's entry into the Presidential race was disappointing to me. I replied, "not as disappointing as it is to the Democrats". He laughed, but it was all true.

I really did hope that Nader would stay out of the running. My opinion of the the three main Libertarian hopefuls is that they are all mediocre at best, and potentially harmful at worst. I think that whichever one emerges will get the usual 1% now that Nader is in. That candidate might have gotten 2% nationwide without Nader, and upwards of 4-5% in a few states. Forget that now.

I have enjoyed the Democratic panic over Nader's entry. It is amusing while perplexing. After all, if Bush was selected and not elected, Nader didn't matter then, and he doesn't matter now. Can't have that both ways.

Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who personally urged Nader not to run, called Nader's decision "unfortunate." From the USA Today story:

"You know, he's had a whole distinguished career, fighting for working families, and I would hate to see part of his legacy being that he got us eight years of George Bush," McAuliffe said Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation.

Crap, McAuliffe. Crap! I do accept one of Nader's justifications for running- he's the real socialist, and not willing to sugar-coat it:

"I'd go after Bush even more vigorously as we are in the next few months in ways that the Democrats can't possibly do because they're too cautious and too unimaginative".

Will v. McCain-Feingold, II

OK, this time George Will took on the badly misnamed 'campaign finance reform' law with intent. If only this sort of rhetoric was being issued prior to the President signing the legislation.

Supposedly, the principal purpose of McCain-Feingold was to ban large "soft money'' contributions to the parties, ostensibly for "party-building'' purposes. The delusional assumption of many McCain-Feingold enthusiasts was that when such contributions were banned, the people who had been eager to exert political influence by such contributions would say "Oh, well'' and spend their money instead on high-definition televisions. Or something.

Actually, McCain-Feingold was moral grandstanding by many liberals who had no intention of abiding by its spirit -- or its letter, for that matter -- any more than they had abided by already existing campaign finance law. To compensate for Republican advantages in raising strictly limited hard dollars, Democrats quickly formed a slew of committees technically disconnected from the party but allowed to receive unlimited soft dollars.

Of course, conservatives will have to do the same things... as will libertarians, socialists, or anybody else who wants to get a message out.

Will again failed to mention the biggest beneficiaries of McCain-Feingold: incumbents of any party. Sitting legislators are news by virtue of being legislators. Any time they want something for free that would cost anyone else a lot of money- publicity- they can generate it via a press conference.

Am I being paranoid to suggest that when the drooling saps who complain endlessly for a 'level playing field' catch on to this, that the likely casualty is press coverage of politicians? This is treacherous ground!