Friday, April 22, 2005


Several times in the past year, I made the observation that Republicans have made a clever shift. Whereas they used to describe themselves as 'fiscal conservatives', they now tend to describe themselves as 'fiscally responsible'.

What's the difference? A fiscal conservative wants to limit or cut spending. One who is fiscally responsible merely wishes to balance the budget. If tax increases are necessary, so be it. This is the difference between a Libertarian (the fiscal conservative) and a Republican (the fiscally responsible).

This comes to light thanks to the Editorial in this morning's Indy Star, which calls for balancing the budget on an increase in cigarette taxes.

Jeff Espich is nobody's idea of a tax-and-spend politician. But the fiscal conservative, who is chairman of the Indiana House Ways and Mean Committee, recently noted that the state is "going to have to have new revenue."

Legislators must find money to give a small -- many would argue insufficient -- funding increase to schools over the next two years. Money to keep pace, even minimally, with rising costs in Medicaid. Money to complete a truly balanced two-year budget, one that bridges the deficit and doesn't resort to gimmicks.

The best proposal for raising more revenue, or at least the one with the best chance of legislative approval, is a 19-cent per-pack increase in the cigarette tax. The state tax on cigarettes would increase to 74.5 cents a pack.

Actually, Jeff Espich is my idea of a tax-and-spend politician. Name for me one spending cut or tax cut he has proposed this session. It can't be done. But I can name for you two tax increases he has proposed: this on cigarettes, and another on food and beverages for a new Colts stadium- something that should never be done by government, only by the private sector.

The Star, like Espich, fail to consider that one primary way to balance any budget is to spend less. This is what you and I do with our personal budgets at home when money gets tight. We stop spending until we catch up with debt and begin to build a little cushion. The Legislature has one advantage we don't- they can will themselves more money any time they want to raise the money. To quote Bill Clinton: "Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool."

Not much in the way of incentive there for Espich and his ilk to be anything but tax-and-spend legislators. It's a situation made worse by comments like these, in the Star's Editorial:

But they can't leave the Statehouse a week from today without recognizing a potentially unpopular but necessary truth: Indiana can neither cut nor grow its way out of the budget deficit in the next two years. The state in the recent past has slashed spending on some services, raided reserve funds and waited patiently for economic growth to alleviate the fiscal crunch. But the problems remain.

Can't cut? I've yet to see an actual cut. The only "cuts" proposed this year have been reduced increases in spending. Those aren't cuts. A 1% cut across the board is not too much to ask, especially if you are seeking, as the Star claims to be, a balanced budget that doesn't resort to gimmicks. A real fiscal conservative would propose this kind of modest cut. A Libertarian sure would.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Voting With Their Feet

It seems that Indiana, while growing in real numbers of population, is watching other states grow even faster. From today's Star:
From 2000 to 2004, he said, 19,000 more people have moved out of the state than have moved in from elsewhere in the country. But, in the same period, 47,000 more people migrated here from other countries than left.

"The domestic loss is more than made up for by the international in-migration," Thompson said. "Some of them are college students. I would imagine most of those new people are Hispanic."

In other words, were more attractive than the Third World, but less attractive than other American states.

That is the result of policy. Sure, we always hear about the weather, but frankly, the weather is better here than in New York or Boston. While we lack the attractions of those older cities, we would attract population and thus create the attractions, if only Indiana became a tax haven. Lower the taxes and spending such that Indiana has the lowest tax rates in the country on personal income and on corporations, and you would see massive migration of entrepreneurs and established businesses.

I guess there is a greater commitment here to taxes and government than there is to prosperity. Sad. Oh well- we're still more attractive than Mexico. There's a slogan for our Gov. Mitch!
Convention Center Deemed Good Enough

Celebration III is the only George Lucas sanctioned event surrounding Star Wars for 2005. It is being held in the Indianapolis Convention Center- the one that is alleged to be too small, too outdated, too something that 'demands' replacement, at least according to some people who won't be paying for the replacement with their own money. Per the Star:
Celebration III came to Indianapolis for several reasons, says Steve Sansweet, director of content management and head of fan relations for Lucasfilm.

Celebration II was held here in 2002 because the city is within easy driving distance from many densely populated areas and has a good airport. Hotels are plentiful, and the Convention Center was large enough. About 25,000 fans attended.

The city got a good review, and the Convention Center was available, so a return visit was planned.

So, why is it that we need a new Convention Center at nearly $1 billion? We don't- unless some private developer/investor is willing to put up the money. Anything else is simply a scam.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

LPIN Convention Coming QUICKLY

Faithful members of the Libertarian Party of Indiana have important business in front of them, along with learning opportunities, networking, fellowship, and entertainment at the State Party's convention, Friday April 29 through Sunday, May 1. The event is in Clarksville IN, near Louisville KY & I-65. If you haven't registered yet, please hurry as space is limited, especially in the area hotels. Event details.

Featured guests include columnist and author Vin Suprynowicz, Jason Shelley of the National Federation of Independent Business, Mayor Willy Marshall (L- Big Water, Utah), Abdul Hakim-Shabazz of Indy's WXNT 1430-am, and Trevor Southerland of the National Libertarian Party's Youth Caucus.

As one of the delegates from Hamilton County, I will be able to vote in the election of the four officers to the LPIN. For the record, I am not running for a second term as State Secretary, so that I may concentrate on my campaign for Secretary of State. The offices being elected are Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.

My campaign will be hosting a hospitality suite at the Holiday Inn Lakeview, Friday night through Saturday night. There will be a nightly Texas Hold 'Em Tournament, which should be very entertaining. Please stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Get It Done!

It's time to at long last pass the Daylight Savings Time bill. While in my laziest moments I like the fact that the time doesn't change here in Indiana, the reality is that this fact, coupled with the fact that 48 other states do change their clocks, make a compelling case for change. The first order of business is to just get on DST.

The second is to get on Eastern DST. While many will argue in favor of our proximity to Chicago, our past life in the 1950s and '60s on Central Time, and the geography, there is again a compelling argument for going Eastern. It is the list of cities in the Eastern Zone:

New York City, Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Toronto, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Miami, Jacksonville, Memphis, Buffalo, and even Montreal.

Compare this with the list of Central cities:

Chicago, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, St. Louis, New Orleans, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Tulsa, and ok, Winnipeg.

These are some fine cities, but their populations numbers and significance pale compare drastically with the Eastern cities. NYC & DC alone overshadow all of the Central cities.

Case closed. The vote should come today.

Monday, April 18, 2005

LaPorte Campaign Stop

Saturday night, I attended the County Convention of the Libertarian Party of LaPorte County. I was out of downtown Indy and up I-65 to LaPorte, 180 miles away. I was making good time on my drive, so I got off I-65 and took US 421 instead to enjoy this rural stretch that runs parallel to the old Monon Railroad. Lots of grain elevators and big, blue skies.

Once in LaPorte, I was very aware that I was in the hometown of Jeff Ake, the Indiana businessman who was recently kidnapped in Iraq. Every store that had a sign with movable lettering had messages asking for prayers for Mr. Ake and his family. It was overwhelming and very moving to see all the signs. No kidding- every video rental place, every Arby's, every convenience store or gas station had a message. Mr. Ake is very obviously beloved in his hometown. Indeed, the Convention began with a prolonged moment of silence for him. Story from local LaPorte paper.

I was the keynote speaker at this Convention, and it was my first experience with a rush of photographers in front of the podium. It gave me energy and an inward chuckle. I knew my speech well. It was the second time in the day to deliver it, and with a three-hour drive for rehearsal, I was not thrown off. The main thrust of the speech was the importance for taking action that might be uncomfortable. It's a comfortable thing to criticize policy from the safety of your PC, but if it's uncomfortable to show up at a council meeting to assert your position, it is 100% more effective. It's a comfortable thing to be a paper candidate running for Township Trustee, but if it's uncomfortable to run a real campaign for County Commissioner, it's eminently more valuable. Etc.

The speech was well-received, as I could see the group energized by it. People began talking about what offices they would be running for. The local media was on hand for Q & A afterwards.

I am delighted with The LaPorte Herald Argus' article covering my speech at the Convention. It does, however, include the strangest expression on my face in a picture where I am not playing hockey. Plus, I was a bit embarrassed at the coverage in that the other business of the Convention- the election of the officers of the LaPorte County party- was not even discussed. There's no telling what the media will include, or exclude, from a story. For the record, Doug Barnes was elected Chair after having been the District 2 representative to the Central Committee of the state party. He trades places with Greg Kelver. Both are outstanding leaders and great people who I personally enjoy working with.