Friday, September 30, 2005

Drumbeat Continues to Continue

Today's Indy Star editorial calls the GOP out on ethics and out-of-control spending. From the editorial:

Republicans have reason to worry
Our position: House leadership increasingly shows signs that it's arrogant and out of touch. The word from Washington is that Republicans who have been in control of the U.S. House for the past 11 years are worried about their prospects in next year's midterm elections. They should be.

And not only because Majority Leader Tom DeLay was indicted this week on charges that he violated Texas election laws.
House Republicans' problems, however, neither start nor end with DeLay. The leadership in particular has been sending the same type of arrogant and out-of-touch signals that cost Democrats their majority in 1994. Witness the dressing-down Indiana's Mike Pence recently suffered from House Speaker Dennis Hastert for daring to observe that federal spending is out of control.

Smart Republicans, both in the House and elsewhere, should take the DeLay indictment as a warning. Either live and govern by the principles that supposedly guide the party or prepare to lose power.

People of principle would have done so without requiring the fear of a backlash. Alas. The Pence case shows that the GOP has no commitment to smaller government and restrained spending. Honest fiscal conservatives need to disassociate themselves from the Republican Party in order to remain clean. They need to support the Libertarian Party.

Here's a message to the Star, who is late on this missive. The word across Indiana from fiscal conservatives is deep dissatisfaction with the GOP's misuse- or underuse- of their majorities at the Federal and State levels. These voters have expected tax cuts, spending cuts, even the evaporation of a few levels of bureaucracy. Instead, taxes have gone up, spending has gone up, and new levels of bureaucracy were added.

Libertarians will get the job done.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Drumbeat Continues

Real Clear Politics is merely the latest to chronicle the GOP's shift to the economic left. From Terry Michael's latest article:
Republican "conservatives" have lost their way during the Bush big-spending era.

Now, they've lost their collective mind.

Pigging out at the pork barrel is nothing new for the congressional GOP. They've competed with liberal Democrats to bring home the bacon for years -- though they both went for the whole hog in this year's assault on the treasury.
Useful Junk Mail

In with the cell phone bill was an ad. These usually go straight to the cylindrical file, but the screaming headline, "Tax On Talk!" caught my eye. Here's the text:
The Spanish-American War ended 107 years ago - so why are you still paying a 3% monthly excise tax to help fund it?

In 1898, President McKinley imposed the Federal Excise Tax law, or "Tax on Talk". It was supposed to be a TEMPORARY "luxury tax" on the very wealthy - who were the only ones that had phones at the time.

But a grassroots move is underway to wipe out this unfair and outrageous tax!

There are bills now in Congress to repeal this outdated and unfair tax - and we need your help!!

Two things come to mind:
  1. There is nothing quite so permanent as a temporary tax
  2. Today's luxury is tomorrow's common staple
Of course, this is in no way a grassroots movement. It's the effort of an industry to make their product marginally less pricey by eliminating a tax that brings no value to the consumer. This is, of course, very commendable and makes me think, "Where have you been the last 25 or 50 years?"

There is an online petition that foes of this tax can sign.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wither Air America?

The development of a radio network is not an easy thing, it turns out. Programming and show hosts have to develop over time. It isn't a simple as saying, "phooey on that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity! We need a left-Democrat equivalent"! While you can trot out boring ratings-free crap on Federally subsidized NPR, radio on the free market has to actually be entertaining and draw listeners.

Alas, Air America is as entertaining as reading the legal notices in the newspaper. Because nobody listens, they can't sell ads. Because they can't sell ads, they fall back on the NPR model of begging for financial support. From Joe Kovacs' article at World Net Daily:
"We know we can't achieve this next stage of growth without significant help from you, our loyal listeners," said the network in an e-mail to supporters, according to Mediaweek, which said the "unusual move for commercial radio" was "more common to noncommercial stations and political action committees."
a California radio station pleaded for advertisers to sponsor the liberal programming of Air America shows it broadcasts, claiming it could not get a single ad.

Supply and demand, as ever. I'd actually like to see it succeed, just for the sake of having unfettered liberal bias on the air. I like a crowded marketplace of ideas. However, I'm afraid the 'talent' and business model are so weak that the thing will die on the vine.

My favorite Indy radio station, WXNT 1430-am, has a poll on its webpage.

Which party is worse about pork-barrel projects?
  • Democrats
  • Republicans
  • They're the same, vote Libertarian!

Check out the results. They might surprise you.

Request of my libertarian friends: Don't stuff the ballot box. I know, it's tempting. I also know that these things aren't scientific in anyway, and this poll is skewed just by my sending you to it. I just want to see how libertarian WXNT's audience is.
Latest Russmo

Great stuff from Russmo, as usual. Be sure to keep it in mind when reading Dr. Schansberg's article, below.
Libertarian Disaster Analysis

Dr. Eric Schansberg has summed up many of my own thoughts on government & Katrina in a few short paragraphs, in his latest Libertarian Writers Bureau article.

Afterthoughts on the Aftermath of the New Orleans Flood
by Eric Schansberg

A month after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the debacle of the ineffective levees surrounding New Orleans, and the disappointment with the government's relief efforts, let's look back at the lessons we should have learned from this disaster.

The disaster was much more about the flood than the hurricane. Many people seem to be missing this point. The over-estimation of Hurricane Rita's predicted impact is one symptom. Another side-effect is that, relatively speaking, the damage wrought by Katrina outside of New Orleans was ignored by the media. When we think about the devastation of hurricanes, unfortunately, we're far more likely to remember flooded New Orleans than flattened coastal Mississippi.

The blame game never ends—and rarely takes a break. It was good to see the Democrats and Republicans wait, oh, a few hours before they started blaming each other. Instead of a dispassionate analysis of the debacle after the dust had settled, we were mostly left with partisan hacks throwing mud at each other almost as soon as they could grab a handful.

All levels of government bear some blame for the debacle. The federal government could have responded quicker and better. But state and local plans were woefully inadequate and their implementation was inept. Anyone who tries to ascribe blame to only one level of government is remarkably blind or politically motivated.

The federal government bore too much blame and is now trying to bear too much responsibility. Why do people expect the federal government to be the chief solution to an essentially state and local problem? The federal government is not especially competent; it's out of their jurisdiction; and it's not as if they don't have enough to do already! And not surprisingly, local officials want boatloads of federal taxpayer dollars while being given as much control as possible over how those resources will be spent.

Far too many people depend on government far too much. Let me get this straight: government failed at all levels—before, during, and after the disaster—so the solution is to get the government much more involved. Hmm…Moreover, for the last 40 years, the federal and state governments have been busy subsidizing bad decisions by individuals through public policy. The result: many people have been left unable to make decisions to promote their own well-being—or unwilling to do so, knowing that the government would probably bail them out. Natural disaster plus government ineptitude plus sin nature equals a debacle of biblical proportions.

Politicians really enjoy spending taxpayer money. President Bush has said that he wants to spend $200 billion post-Katrina and cut spending elsewhere so that overall spending does not increase. He might as well say he'd like to see cows fly. The few Republican fiscal conservatives in Congress have run with this charge by proposing 'Operation Offset"— a plan to reduce pork-barrel highway spending and to postpone the recently-passed prescription benefit for seniors. For their efforts, they have already been brow-beaten by the House leadership. And Bush has repeatedly shown that he has no stomach or backbone for fiscal discipline.

Your taxes will rise dramatically. Bush says that he is committed not to raise taxes. If so, this means an increase in the national debt—in other words, higher future taxes. At this point, Congress is now looking to spend $250 billion—over and above the amount that private insurance will pay in claims. This turns out to be more than $3,300 in taxes from the average family of four—and almost $200,000 per person in the New Orleans MSA before the flood. Honesty and candor would require a mention of the spending's impact on taxes. Unfortunately, another Category-5 hurricane is more likely.

D. Eric Schansberg
Professor of Economics
Indiana University (New Albany)
Adjunct Scholar, Indiana Policy
Review and the Acton Institute
Author, Turn Neither to the Right nor to the Left: A Thinking Christian's Guide to Politics and Public Policy

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What's In It For The Taxpayers?

The Indy Star ran an article today on the lavish nature of the soon-to-be-built Colts stadium.
Fireplaces in club lounges. Pool tables in the quarterback suites. Wireless Internet access throughout. A little more room in the seat.

The nearly 500-page stadium plan released Monday details how nearly every inch of the new building will look and be used -- from the size of potted plants to the width of the seats.

Why not make it lavish? After all, the taxpayers are paying for it! Interestingly, the article's headline reads, "What's in it for the fans"? The better question is in my headline, "What's in it for the taxpayers"? Certainly not a thank you, as Sam Goldstein pointed out in the Sunday Star.

No thanks for people footing the big bill
I was just watching the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Downtown stadium and I heard Mayor Peterson thank a wide range of people for their support in getting this boondoggle. The only group the mayor forgot to thank was the long-suffering taxpayers of Marion County and now most of the surrounding counties.

We have funded facilities for professional sports teams and still have storm sewers that do not function, and our public safety professionals are in jeopardy of losing their jobs. We have given tax breaks to corporations who leave town without consequence while many homeowners are at risk of losing their property due to outrageous tax increases.

I would ask Mayor Peterson and the tax-and-spend Democrats and Republicans on the City-County Council to keep this in mind. The Libertarian Party of Marion County certainly will over the next two years.

Sam Goldstein
Vice Chair, Libertarian Party of Marion County

Monday, September 26, 2005

Giving Drunken Sailors a Bad Name

How far out of control is spending in the Republican-controlled halls of government? In very current articles, Alan Greenspan, Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak, and even local GOP shill Greg Garrison call out the Republicans on spending.

Garrison's article is largely incoherent rambling. In between, he managed to accurately sum up the thoughts of anyone who voted Republican in 2004 and isn't living in complete denial:

But his stewardship of the people's money and his vision for the role of government in our lives have left me more than disappointed with his leadership of Congress and his direction of his own administration.
Or, as Glenn McCoy's recent cartoon summed up...

The Noblesville Daily Times ran the McCoy cartoon and the Garrison article on the Viewpoint page today. The drumbeat is growing. Per Buchanan, at World Net Daily:

The Taft-Goldwater-Reagan-Helms Republicans were prepared to pay the political price for saying "No." But just as the Democrats of the 1930s found the formula for permanent power in "tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect," as Harold Ickes Sr. put it, the Bush Republicans and Big Government conservatives of the 1990s believe they have found an even surer formula for permanent power: "Cut taxes, spend and spend, elect and elect."
Per Novak, at Town Hall, discussing the treatment given Indiana's Mike Pence for daring to be a fiscal conservative:

Pence was far more discreet in Tuesday's session with his party's leadership, but that did not save him a going over, led by two powerful committee chairmen: Rep. Don Young (Transportation Committee) and Rep. Bill Thomas (Ways and Means
Committee). The harshest treatment of Pence, however, was administered by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who does not like his rank-and-file members depicting a free-spending Republican Party.

Even though Pence is correct, and it's absolutely true. It is incredible to think that President Bush has not used he veto power even once... until you recall and consider the formula identified by Buchanan above. Republican leaders like Tom DeLay don't want fiscal conservatives to be shown enough of the Goldwater-Reagan legacy to think carefully about it. They want fiscal conservatives to waste their votes on the GOP on the mere, fading memory of those legends, despite the reality of the spending actions of the Republican-led Congress.

Mona Charon, the American Conservative Union, Matt Towery, the Cato Institute... these aren't the liberals calling out the GOP. Five years of denial is enough for them.

The real question is: have you had enough? Isn't it enough that the GOP has ushered in more real liberalism than the Democrats could have? Isn't it enough that no Democrats had to be elected President, or gain control of Congress, in order to have their agenda so thoroughly advanced?

When you've had enough, and have decided that you are serious about smaller government, with lower spending, the only sane thing you can do is back Libertarian candidates (or become one), and vote Libertarian.