Friday, September 09, 2005

Eminent Domain Update

While Katrina's aftermath dominates news coverage and attention spans, the fight in defense of property rights and against eminent domain abuse is advancing.

Today I received a letter from State Rep. Dave Wolkins (R-18), of Winona Lake IN. He is the Chair of the legislature's Interim Study Committee on Eminent Domain.

In the letter, Rep. Wolkins advised that the next meeting on the eminent domain issue will be held Wednesday, September 21 at 1pm in the House of Representatives Chamber, 3rd Floor, Statehouse. The agenda for the 9/21 meeting has been posted. Public comments will be taken, so I urge supporters to attend and to speak out.

Don't be afraid to drive from the remote corners of the state. At the last meeting, the first comments taken were from those who drove the furthest. I thought that was rather respectful.

Minutes from the first meeting at which I testified are available. My comments, and those of Mike Sylvester are condensed into a paragraph each in the minutes.

I urge supporters of property rights to contact Rep. Wolkins and express your support. Phone: 1-800-382-9841. Email by visiting his website. Or, write:

State Representative Dave Wolkins
Indiana House of Representatives
Room 401-8, Statehouse
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Isabel At 3 Months!

Wow. 3 Months. Almost 100 days. It's amazing how fast the time goes. I wouldn't expect it to feel that way with the sleepless nights, and yet, it goes by faster that ever.
She smiles a lot and makes lots of expressive sounds. She loves her swing and any kind of motion, especially long walks through the neighborhood. She's becoming very observant, and especially likes the ceiling fans. She's also starting to notice that some of her toys play music when she grasps them. It's fun to watch her development unfold before our eyes!
Non-Partisan Katrina Report Card

Republicans have been eager to point out New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's failings, along with those of Louisiana governor Blanco. Democrats have been eager to point out the failings of FEMA chief Brown and especially President Bush.

Guess what? The Republicans and Democrats are correct. All of these parties failed somewhere along the line.

The best analysis I have seen so far is on They cut through the partisan red herrings and lay blame where it belongs- everywhere.

Tom Bevan's conclusions:

Having said that, it's worth noting that even a more competent, experienced FEMA director wouldn't have been able to stop the flooding or most likely to have foreseen the widespread looting and violence that followed and caused such havoc with rescue efforts. In fact, short of President Bush stepping in an using executive powers to order the National Guard to forcibly evacuate New Orleans (something I'm not sure is possible), a perfectly executed post-hurricane relief plan under the circumstances in New Orleans would have sped things up by maybe 24 hours. That's a lot of time in a crisis relief situation and certainly would have saved a few lives, but I'm not sure it would have drastically changed the dynamics of what we saw unfolding in New Orleans last week.

Katrina really was a perfect storm in that she struck a city that was extremely vulnerable to flooding; a city with significant crime, drug, and poverty issues that was effectively rendered lawless for three days causing a complete social breakdown, and a city (and state) government with a long and notorious tradition for corruption and incompetence. All of the tragedy resulting from these things was compounded by a less than perfect response by FEMA.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Comparing Disasters

Jesse Walker has an interesting article comparing various disasters and their accompanying reactions by the citizenry. Says Walker, in his Reason article "Disaster in New Orleans":
The civic breakdown we've seen in New Orleans is extremely atypical, not just next to smaller-scale emergencies like 9/11 but next to some of the worst natural and technological catastrophes of recent history.

Just so you haven't thrown in the towel on the human condition, tempting though it may sometimes be.
The Colts & Government Agree

Remind me to do business with the State where I have an asset the State wants to remain in Indiana, and I could threaten to move it- especially if I can get into a negotiation with the State.

In sum, the Colts got everything they wanted. A new stadium is on its way. The Colts will get a portion of proceeds from other events that use the building they will not own. The Colts will not put a $3 tax on tickets. I just have to enter into a negotiation with the State one day!

I have been complaining on this site for two years that public saftey and infrastructure should be higher priorities than stadium building. In the wake of Katrina, economist Bill Styring offers some interesting priority comparisons between New Orleans circa 1971, and Indianapolis today. From Styring's op-ed in today's Indy Star:
New Orleans' choice in 1971 was to spend money upgrading the levees or to build a Superdome for the Saints football team. The new dome cost $134 million. In today's dollars, that's not quite a billion bucks. They chose the Superdome. True, had they opted for levees instead of the Superdome, the Saints might have left for another city. And there might also today be a New Orleans.

So Indianapolis is about to make the same trade as New Orleans: a glitzy new sports palace in exchange for rotting basic infrastructure.

I'd wager that if New Orleans could do it over, the Saints would be in Los Angeles and today New Orleans would be dry. Are we making the same mistake they did?

Mr. Styring, please do not overlook the notion that the new stadium could be used one day as a shelter should floods equal to those of 1913 return to Central Indiana- just as the Superdome has been recently employed. That should bring you all the comfort you need. Just ask State Senator Luke Kenley. From another Indy Star story on the stadium deal:
"My expectation is they (the authority) will not only announce it, but also approve it and move forward," said state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, the architect of the stadium legislation and a nonvoting member of the authority board. "I feel greatly relieved -- it looks like we'll get it done and hold to the timeline of finishing by August 15th, 2008." (emphasis supplied)

It would have been a vastly nobler achievement to be regarded as the architect of a deal to make sure the sewers cease to back up with raw sewage and cease those discharges into the White River. It could have been done on the same timeline, at about the same cost.

Ah, well. A man's got his priorities.
Russmo Cartoons

I've always been a fan of political cartoons. Russmo is my current favorite. Here are two recent ones that I really like.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Price Gouging = Bad, Right?

Here are several columns on proce gouging, the mechanism of price, and general economics as related to the aftermath of any disaster.

John Stossel, from ABC News.
Iain Murray, of Tech Central Station.
William Tucker, with the American Enterprise.
Walter Williams, George Mason University.
Walter Block, Loyola University.

Everybody wants prices to be lower. Many argue that they should be lower. The question that must be asked is: who should correctly set the prices, the seller or the buyer? Those arguing for price controls is saying that the consumer is more important the the producer, and has no legitimate claim of ownership on what he produces. And we wonder why there is a struggle for property rights in this country.

If the Kelo v. New London decision angered you, for the same reasons that it did, you should not be in favor of price controls.

Also, the kook network is busy circulating emails urging a gas-out, or boycott. As usual, urban legend website Snopes sorts of these actions, and shows that they would do more harm than good. Supply and demand, as always.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hamilton County Budget Time

I was surprised to learn today that the County Council moved their meeting to the first Tuesday of the month, whereas it is normally scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month. No matter. I attended and urged the Council to pass the most austere budget possible.

Actually, that's not much of a surprise. I always lobby for austere budgets, and local governing bodies seem to shift the days and times of their meetings regularly. Maybe this latter is why I wasn't too surprised that I was the only person who got up and spoke on the budget.

Get that.

Just me. Nobody else. It's a county of a quarter-million, and only one person gave the Council any input whatsoever.

I know that the Hurricane is on the minds of many, and is much more an issue of life or death. It's just unfortunate. The opportunity to speak up is there, and unexercised by the average citizen.
Happy Anniversary, Abdul!

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the "Abdul In The Morning" show on WXNT. Congratulations go to host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz and program director Andrew Lee in bringing an outstanding talk program to Central Indiana.

Prior to Abdul's arrival, WXNT's "Morning Line" was a decent program, with fairly regular coverage of news events. Abdul took the coverage to a new level, by attending public meetings, interviewing elected officials at all levels, covering news in places long ignored and deemed too small by other media outlets, such as Lawrence and Beech Grove. And of course, I appreciate the inclusive coverage of the activities of the Libertarian Party, and being invited onto the show regularly.

Here's looking forward to several more years... or until we convince Abdul that he absolutely has to run for office as a Libertarian!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Full Weekend of Campaign Activity

The Kole Campaign was busy this weekend, making three appearances, reaching people in a wide range of the state.

Wayne County held their annual fundraiser garage sale, and I was on hand Saturday to say hello to friends, supporters, and bargain hunters alike. Chair Rex Bell and his organization raised over $2,300 on the weekend.

I discovered the joy of making cotton candy. Ame & Isabel met the cows across the fence in Rex's backyard. From Hagerstown to Greenfield as Hancock County held a tax freedom rally and cookout. Excellent fellowship with Chair Chris Ward, campaign team member Jenn Bradshaw, and all of the Hancock County folks. Labor Day weekend is a great time for a tax freedom rally. No better time to remind people that you should have the first claim on the fruits of your labor, and not the government.
This morning, I sat in with Abdul on the morning show on WXNT. Of course, most conversation centered on Katrina and New Orleans, although the passing of Chief Justice William Rehnquist was discussed, and President Bush announced his move to have Roberts start his tenure on the Supreme Court as Chief.

It wasn't all Federal issues, as we did get around to talking about what the Libertarian Party has been doing lately in Indiana- mainly, providing the only consistent opposition to higher taxes.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Tune In Monday Morning!

Here's the reminder, since tomorrow won't feel like a Monday morning. Catch me on Newstalk 1430-am WXNT, from 6-9am Labor Day morning. I'll be joining Brad Klopfenstein on the popular"Abdul In The Morning" show.

The original idea was that Brad & I would fill in for Abdul so that he might take a vacation day. We've done this before. See my profile picture for an 'action photo' behind WXNT's microphone.

Since Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath are still big news, management wants Abdul on the microphone. Instead of filling in, Brad & I will Abdul's guests.

Feel free to call in, on 317-228-1430. Those outside the Indy area can listen to the streamed signal via the website. We'll give the 1-800 number during the broadcast.
Awful Scene, Awful Selective Coverage

Why is it that an important story about the horrible conditions within the Superdome immediately after the Hurricane passed is under-reported in the US? Why did I have to go to a New Zealand newspaper's site to find such a story?

It seems that a sizeable effort has been made to try to hide the facts, and probably with the major media's complicity. Why? If only that effort was more properly spent- in assisting and protecting the refugees- the situation might have been improved to the point that it would be reported on here. For my own edification, I gave up on the major media for this story and checked out New Orleans bloggers, who were on or near the scene, and who did not mince words.

Let's not hide the embarrassing stuff. Let's get it out in the open. That's the only way you can ever begin to address it.

Blog links:

The Interdictor. This is the most amazing blog I have seen since the events of September 11. The sheer volume and journalistic quality of the photographs will stagger you. Fans of historian Howard Zinn should take note. History books will one day give facts and statistics about Katrina. Anyone really wanting to get a detailed human look at humanity on the ground can already get it, first-hand. Talk about a primary source. Beware- you could spend a lot of time here. It's hard not to get caught up in the real-life drama.

Dancing With Katrina. I think the writers thought it would be cute to blog the Hurricane. Yeah, cute. It's worth reading to see reality sink in over time, and starkly depicted.

Google Earth. The satelite images of New Orleans for the days of Katrina are becoming available. You could rebuild, but why would you want to risk duplicating this mess?