Friday, May 27, 2005

Not Just The Doughnut Facing Tax Increases

The counties surrounding Marion Co. are all facing 1% tax increases on food & beverages at the very least. Hamilton County, reputed as the most Republican county in the state, has also thrown a wheel tax increase on the table.

Madison County lies just outside the doughnut, and they are also considering a wheel tax increase on the table.

Check out the Anderson Herald Bulletin article, and especially the comments below. It looks like finally, at long last, the good people of Anderson and Madison County have reached a breaking point on taxes. This is good news for the Libertarian Party of Madison County, which is the only pary opposing these taxes. Thanks to Paul Zimmerman for the email tip on this item.

But that's the usual. Republicans and Democrats support tax increases. The Libertarian Party opposes tax increases and supports the people keeping their money in their pockets.
Guest Commentary

So, I opened by Noblesville Daily Times yesterday, and what did I find? Guest commentary from one Rex Bell, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Wayne County. Article link.

Look here, Rex. Pretty high and mighty of you, showing up our members here in Hamilton County with an article in our local paper. Perhaps the Richmond paper isn't good enough for you anymore.

In other words: Good work, Rex! Nice article on the nature of rights, governments who would compel people to act contrary to their conscience, and prescription drugs.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Radio Appearance Scheduled

It's always a good bet to tune in to Newstalk 1430-am WXNT for Abdul In The Mornings and for Neal Boortz. An even better reason presents itself on Tuesday, May 31, when I will be one of Abdul's guests, at 8am.

We'll talk about politics in Hamilton County- the myriad taxes proposed by the liberal Republicans, the budget deficit situation, the county's death tax, etc.- and about my campaign for Secretary of State.

Also, tune in Monday morning when Libertarian Party of Indiana Executive Director Brad Klopfenstein joins Abdul in the studio as guest host, from 6-9am. Rah rah WXNT!
Letters Results

The Star did not print my letter, but gratefully, they did print two letters by Libertarians in the wake of the smoking ban in today's edition.

Diluted smoking ban still stinks for businesses

The smoking ban passed by the Indianapolis City-County Council may be diluted from the original plan, but it still stinks like a cheap cigar.
Council member Angela Mansfield says the community wanted this, but did she think about the business community that will suffer from the law she wrote?
People smoke of their own personal choice; so let the businesses make their own choices on what goes on inside their buildings.
Christopher D. Ward
Chair, Libertarian Party of Hancock County
New Palestine
Council plays it safe on smoking, gay issues
The May 23 vote on the smoking ordinance was very disappointing. Yes, I abhor the smell of smoke and its effects, but I abhor the loss of personal freedom, an ever-expanding government and the belief that individuals have the right to dictate to others how to run their business. The hypocrisy and inconsistency involved is overwhelming.
From a consistency standpoint the City-County Council should have passed the anti-bias ordinance also. On one hand the council said landlords can choose whom to rent to but business owners cannot choose whom to serve. However, it voted safe on both issues, not on principle.
Greg A. Dixon
Chair, Libertarian Party of Marion County

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Star Editorial and Subsequent Letter

The Star published an editorial this morning that praised the passage of the smoking ban ordinance.

Two paragraphs in particular really got my goat.
A government intrusion into the free enterprise system? Perhaps. But it's hard to make that case in light of the fact that government now tells restaurant managers how many fire exits they must have and how clean the kitchen must be kept.

The smoking ordinance, as approved Monday by the City-County Council, is a reasonable compromise that balances health concerns with common patterns of public behavior. Bars and private clubs are excluded. Most restaurants will become smoke free by March 1.

Here's my letter in response.

The most regrettable thing about the nature of the smoking ban ordinance was that it created an either/or choice between public health concerns and the right of business owners to set their own policies within their own establishments.

The Star's recent editorial praising the passage of the ordinance was equally lamentable in justifying stomping the rights of business owners on the basis that those rights have been stomped before in directing businesses to post exit signs and conform to other regulation.

Following the Star's logic, it would be acceptable to trample First Amendment rights or any other civil rights, so long as those rights have been trampled before and a health issue could be conjured to justify the trampling.

It would have been significantly better for the health of liberty in Indianapolis had the City-County Council and the Star resolved to ramp up educational campaigns to pursuade changes in behavior rather than to promote forced obedience.
In Praise of the Indy 500

Actually, I'm not a big race fan. I really enjoy watching Monte Carlo type races, with cars weaving through the city. That's very interesting for me to watch.

What I like about the 500 and the other events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the fact that the site is family owned, with strictly private funding making it happen. Not a single penny of tax money is taken from the people of Speedway, or Indianapolis, or Marion County, or the doughnut counties surrounding Indy.

Unlike the Colts current stadium, and new stadium. Indy Star story.

Remember: Republican Governor Mitch Daniels pushed this project and these taxes. Republican State Senator Luke Kenley of Noblesville pushed these taxes. Republicans on the Indianapolis City-County Council will likely vote in favor of these taxes.

Libertarians can't wait to run against them all, pointing out where Republican rhetoric fails to match Republican policy on taxes, limited government, and personal responsibility.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the spectacle that the Indy 500 creates. I'll be grateful for real economic gains taht it brings- because it comes with no dead weight loss.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Net Results Watch

The smoking ban will soon be law, but the City-County Council is not finished. It will soon be considering a host of new taxes to pay for the Colts new palace and a new convention center. Taxes on the table include:

1% Marion County food & beverage tax
Increased taxes on rental cars
Increased taxes on hotel rooms

So, if you are a conventioneer, coming to Indy means that you can't smoke, your meals and drinks will cost more, your rental car will cost more, and your hotel room will cost more. As a conventioneer, what value do you get from this? Nada.

I have to believe that some conventions will just skip Indy due to the smoking ban. Word is that the firefighters won't come here any more. You have to be realistic about the outcomes of policy. These new laws and taxes make Indy less attractive, not more.

Do this enjoyable excercise:
  1. Indianapolis? Or, Las Vegas?
  2. Indianapolis? Or, New York City?
  3. Indianapolis? Or, Las Angeles?
OK. That's not really fair. Try this:
  1. Indianapolis? Or, Nashville?
  2. Indianapolis? Or, Columbus?
  3. Indianapolis? Or, Cleveland?
This is what conventioneers do. The first set of three is a no-brainer. Conventioneers will put up with smoking bans in New York, mainly because New York is New York. If Indianapolis is on par with Columbus in terms of attractions, do conventioneers now choose Columbus because their prople can smoke? Do they choose Cleveland or Nashville because the rooms, cars, food and drink is cheaper?

It would be way smarter to pass some laws that would make the choice for Indy easier instead of harder.
Spin In Your Grave, Voltaire!

Famously, Voltaire was quoted as saying, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." Libertarians tend to carry the spirit of this quote as an underpinning to their philosophy.

For instance, I hold cigarette smoking in extremely low regard. Smoking is damaging to your health, and makes the air surrounding the smoker stinky, unpleasant, and harmful to me besides. That's why I choose to limit the time I spend in smoky bars. It's tough, too, because I love to play poker, and with poker the fad that it is, many bars host free-to-play poker tournaments as a way to draw traffic. But if you want to smoke, it's your life. Smoke away. I don't think it's smart or pleasant, but hey- have a nice day.

Because smoke is stinky and harmful is why I choose to not let people smoke in my house. It's my house, and I set the rules in my house. My house is my dominion. OK... it's our dominion. Ame and I agree on this.

But your house is your dominion. You set the rules there... unless you are a business in Indianapolis. Then, the City-County Council sets the rules in your house regarding smoking. As reported here last night, the City-County Council passed the smoking ban by a wide 18-9 margin. Indy Star story.

Proponents of the smoking ban were at once pleased and disappointed. They were pleased that the ban passed. They were disappointed that it didn't cover more areas of life. Proponents are calling the ban that passed 'a good first step', indicating that they do want to go further in the future.

It begs the question, "how far"? From the Star:
But Republican Councilman Scott Schneider, who voted against the ban, questioned whether -- in the name of health -- the city might someday ban fried foods.

"Where do we draw the line as a society?" he asked. "Where does this body stop?"

Today, my house is my house unless my house is a business. Will tomorrow's ban include my residence? Your car? We see that nanny laws already extend into the car.

Click It Or Ticket is a nationwide campaign to get people to wear their seat belts. Like the smoking ban, it is meant as a safety campaign. Like the smoking ban, it pits health and safety against liberty. Indy Star story.

Wearing the seat belt is probably the smart choice. Sure, there is the study that shows that when people wear seat belts, they fell safer, so they drive faster, resulting in more accidents. But, if you are in that accident, you are probably not going to die. Your car will need repairs, though, so that's probably why the insurance companies and auto body shops have always been in favor of the seat belt laws.

A big complaint with the smoking laws or with Click It Or Ticket is that the safety forces are diverted from their usual business in order to make a political demonstration. This is clearly not the best use of safety forces. From the Star on Click It Or Ticket:
"There will be zero tolerance. That's zero. None," Col. Larry R. Rollins, assistant superintendent for the Indiana State Police, said at a news conference Monday.


But Rollins and others dispute that notion, arguing that driving should be considered a regulated privilege, not a right.

"It's a political issue," Rollins said. "But I think that everyone in a motor vehicle needs to be restrained."

On smoking:
Councilwoman Marilyn Pfisterer, a Republican, questioned whether police officers should be taken away from more serious crimes to deal with the ban. She also questioned whether the Marion County Health Department, with its roughly 30
inspectors, was prepared to enforce the measure.

"The ordinance is virtually unenforceable," she said.

Maybe these energies would have been better spent in educational campaigns, showing people how better choices could be made. This would at least leave people liberty enough to make the choices that affect their lives, taking the results as their own, too. That way, police could chase murderers, rapists, and violent criminals rather than decent citizens who make choices some might not say are smart.

Wouldn't it make Indianapolis more attractive if it were a more tolerant place and less a place were busybody, know-it-all nannies micromanage the details of our lives?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Not Even Close

Deep down, I was pretty well convinced that the smoking ban would pass. Those of us who opposed it from the beginning, when it stood to be the most restrictive ban in the United States, are pleased to a minor degree that at least this law was beaten back to the extent it was. But, word was that this vote would be close. It gave opponents of the ban a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the Council would vote in favor of liberty. Alas, the final tally was 18-9. Indy Star story.

However, this vote was every bit as much a referendum on the right of business owners to set their own policies within their own establishments as it was a public health issue. The way the authors of the law set it up, it really was an either/or proposition.

So, thank goodness I left Marion County just about one year ago to the day. Don't get me wrong- I don't smoke. I find it a detestable habit. In the spirit of Voltaire, I don't like smoking, but I'll defend the right to use the legal product tobacco. I don't care for smoggy bars, but I'll defend the right of bar owners to have that atmosphere, if they so choose. The City-County Council is not nearly so open-minded or tolerant as that, so they ban things. That is the atmosphere I am pleased to have left.
Show Up!

The Indianapolis City-County Council is expected to vote on the proposed smoking ban tonight. Indy Star story.

Take Woody Allen's advice: "90% of success is simply showing up".

Business owners have the right to set their own policies regarding the use of a legal product in their own private establishments. Most City-County Councillors do not accept this principle. The only hope of causing them to accept this, sadly, is with a show of numbers. People who support liberty need to be present. The Council members only know how to count.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Curiosities of Campaigning

As I move further along the trail, I pick up my own curious observations. For instance: Did I ever think I would suffer a sore shoulder as a result of campaigning? Why, no. I did not, although I suppose I might expect that result from holding a bullhorn for 12 hours on end.

Saturday afternoon, the LP of Wells County hosted an event featuring target practice with a variety of firearms. I took aim at 10 clay pigeons, striking 5 with slugs from the 12-gauge shotgun. I was immediately dismayed that I only took 5. A few years ago, I would have gotten 9. When I got home, I was dismayed with the deep soreness in my right shoulder. That gun had some kind of kick!

Thanks to Chair Brandon Harnish and Wells County for hosting a fun, safe event. Harnish is a fervent supporter of the 2nd Amendment and a gracious host.