Friday, May 13, 2005

Latest From Libertarian Writer's Bureau

Sheri Conover Sharlow weighs in with applause for new BMV chief Joel Silverman, and observes how Silverman's cost-saving measures are decried by a prominent Republican.

GOP's Garton shows how self-preservation trumps Indiana's well-being
by Sheri Conover Sharlow
It's no surprise that the Republican General Assembly lacks the backbone to deliver the small government its party brags about. Even their own party members must work around these political invertebrates if they hope to just slow the rate of growth.

Here it is in a nutshell from a story in last week's The Indianapolis Star:

Senate President Pro Tempore Robert D. Garton, R-Columbus, called the planned license branch closings a "sneak attack."

Garton, the most powerful Republican in the Senate, said he believed the closings -- including one in Hope, about 20 miles from Columbus -- were deliberately timed to be announced after lawmakers left town last week.

Asked if he had been sneaky, Joel Silverman, commissioner of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, said: "Yeah. I'll be honest."

It's pretty pathetic that Silverman had to sneak around his own party's leadership to make necessary cuts.

Never mind that taxpayers must pay $1 million a year to keep open offices that locals don't care enough to use. License branches are doing less business because users have more attractive options that don't involve taking a number and waiting. We can buy license plates by mail or at the BMV web site, and renew our drivers licenses online.

Later in the Star story, Garton was quoted saying that government should not be run like a bottom-line focused business, but "government should be run for the customer. The citizens are the customers. It's different. I hope at some point, in what I hope is a short career in government, (Silverman) learns that."

Actually, it's Silverman who understands this, not Garton. The BMV chief knows that the real customers are those who pay the price. That's us taxpayers.

The mesmerizing part is that Garton is so terrified of the handful of constituents who use the Hope BWV branch in his district. His district is so rigged that Democrats haven't bothered to field candidates in the past election. He has won by 18,568 votes in 2002. Even if every one of the about 12,000 users the Hope BMV office voted against Garton, he's unlikely to lose.

Could it be that his only challengers – Libertarian candidates – have him scared silly?
If Republicans like Garton can't handle an easy yet necessary cut like this, how are they going to make the tough yet necessary cuts in Medicaid and education spending or stand up to those who want to extract even more money from Hoosiers?

Hint: They won't. And they didn't.
  • They've refused to limit Medicaid coverage to only those items the federal government orders states to spend, meaning that those on welfare in Indiana have access to more comprehensive health-care coverage than those who work full time.
  • They've refused to cut off colleges who build pricey and unnecessary new buildings, particularly in places where buildings could be leased for far less, forcing students to pay more for tuition.
  • They've refused to say 'no" to corporate welfare for the Indianapolis Colts. Everyday Hoosiers will pay an extra sales tax to subsidize millionaires. They try to pass it off as 'just 1 percent" on a restaurant tab, neglecting how much every little tax and regulation on restaurants has added up into a huge burden, especially on small businesses. No wonder mom-and-pop restaurants give up.
  • They've refused to stand up to the overpriced, unnecessary Interstate-69 project. The expensive new-terrain option will cost millions more, at the cost of upgrading and maintaining other federal roads throughout the state for at least a generation. It's even politically crazy: This project rewards a Democrat governor's supporters.
Republican legislators are afraid that the boogeyman of the moment – nasty Democrats, liberal interest groups, the media – will say something unkind to those who do the right thing.

They'd rather complain about the game being rigged. How rigged can it be? They're the majority.

Now we have proof that too many Republicans want leadership titles without providing real leadership, which requires doing the right thing. That's why Silverman deserves applause.

The game is actually rigged against us, the people who pay the bills. Taxpayers and voters must let them know that these so-called leaders will not stay in office if they refuse to cut spending. Don't discount impeachment or recall threats, no matter how impractical.

These guys are chickens and it obviously takes little to scare them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Opinion Wanted!

OK, Hoosiers. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) wants to know what kind of a job you think they are doing. Are they a good value for the taxpayer dollars? Are they a black hole for dollars to disappear into? Are they part of the bureaucratic quagmire? Let 'em know! Questionaire.

I took the quiz and am darned proud to have participated as a citizen!
Taping Today

Huge thanks to the Libertarian Party of Allen County, and Doug Horner. Doug invited me to be interviewed on their cable TV show. It will broadcast to the greater Fort Wayne area.

The questions are in Doug's corner, but I imagine we will talk about my campaign for Secretary of State and issues related to that office, but also the role the Libertarian Party is increasingly taking and can take in Hoosier politics. I'll post an update with a schedule when I find out when the show will air.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Smoking Nannies Beaten Back- Again

The proponents of the Nanny State from both parties were dealt well-deserved disappointment yesterday when the City-County Council sent the proposed smoking ban back to committee, lest it be defeated outright. Indy Star story.
"I'm very unhappy," said Greg Bowes, a Democratic sponsor of the ban. "I think the community was all ready for this."

If the community is ready for it, how about taking the proposal out of the hands of the Council, and putting it on the ballot, so that the people really can decide. Didn't think so.

There has been one consistent opponent of the ban: the Libertarian Party of Indiana. The Chamber of Commerce is actually in favor of the ban. The restauarant and tavern interests have been somewhat soft on this, surprisingly. The owners of the restaurants and bars know who is on their side, and who isn't.

Be clear on this: No Libertarian I know is extolling smoking as a virtue or urging non-smokers to take up the habit. The basis for the opposition is the defense of business owners, who have the right to set their own policies, and who should be free from the heavy hand of government interference. If you don't like secondhand smoke, why not just avoid places that permit it? Is that too high-minded of me? To ask for a little tolerance of people engaging in behavior you don't quite approve of, in places that do not belong to you?

Libertarians have helped expose the fact that some of the money from the big tobacco lawsuit settlement, that was supposed to go for education, has instead gone into lobbying and into issue advocacy lobbying. From the Indy Star story:
At least one opponent -- Brad Klopfenstein, executive director of the state Libertarian Party -- questioned why government is spending thousands on an advertising campaign.

"I personally find it offensive that this money belongs to the state of Indiana," Klopfenstein said. "Suddenly, you have the state of Indiana lobbying other agencies to pass an ordinance."

So, the vote has been postponed. This had begun as the most restrictive law on smoking in the United States. With the help of the Libertarians, it has lost much of its authoritarian bent. It is assumed that the proponents will go back to the committee and pare the regulations down further.

We'll keep fighting to beat it back further. It's one thing for government to decree that smoking is forbidden in government owned place. It's another thing entirely to dictate to individual property owners on how to manage what belongs to them.