Friday, February 24, 2006
Who knew reading a good book could lead to so much attention?
I recently contributed a selection to the Indy Star, and they published the item in their Sunday edition. I have had a surprising amount of people stop me in the street and ask me about the Battle of Trafalgar. Cool by me!
The latest is a mention on Austin Cassidy's Third Party Watch site, where I was named Candidate of the Day for today. Here's the link.
Mr. Cassidy's site runs the entire gamut of third party candidates, not just Libertarians.
I love a good government joke on a Friday morning. Here's one that's been making the rounds:
Internal Revenue Service
Department of the Treasury
Washington, DC 20001
Enclosed is my 2005 Form 1040, together with payment.
For explanation, please note the attached article from "USAToday" archives. It says that the Pentagon paid $171.50 each for hammers and that NASA paid $600.00 each for toilet seats.
Please find enclosed in this package four toilet seats (according to your valuation, worth $2,400.00) and six hammers (using the same calculation, value of$1,029.00). This is in payment of my total tax due of $3,429.00.
Out of a sense of patriotic duty, I am also enclosing a 1.5inch Phillips head screw, for which HUD duly recorded and approved a purchase value of $2200, as my contribution to the Election Fund option on Form 1040.
It has been a pleasure to pay my taxes this year, and I look forward to paying them again next year in accordance with officially established government values.
Another satisfied taxpayer
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I am pleased to announce that my campaign bumper stickers are available. Here's what they look like:
If you would like one or more, email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations are naturally appreciated. Donations are payable to, and can be sent to:
Committee to Elect Mike Kole
7916 Turkel Drive
Fishers IN 46038
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Over and over, the approaches our lawmakers have taken to trying to bring about tax relief, which is very popular, has revealed a desire to have it both ways. They also want to maintain ever higher spending levels, because that is also apparently very popular.
Providing tax relief is actually very easy if you don't mind cutting a budget. This is where the brain knots start forming. No elected officials at any level have proven willing to cut a budget. Observe the latest evidence, as provided by the Indy Star:
"If I could get rid of (property taxes), everybody would be happy," said Sen. Gary Dillon, R-Columbia City.
But, he asked, "How do you replace that income for local government?"
Instead, he added a provision to the bill that would give local government the option of raising income taxes in order to reduce property taxes.
Sen. Robert L. Meeks, R-LaGrange, called the bill "a responsible way to eliminate property taxes. It's a first step."
It doesn't really matter to the working man if you cut property taxes but raise income taxes. It would be a wash for him, although while retirees who are no longer drawing an income get a benefit from the property tax cut. If the towns and cities aren't willing to cut spending, those who are drawing an income will be facing a heavier tax burden, making this kind of relief no relief at all.
Actually, municipal taxes are some of the worst kinds of taxes, because those who make the most have the greatest incentive to leave. This policy chases wealth away. Brilliant.
Simple and best solution: Cut spending.
Are you kidding me? President Bush has hidden the veto pen throughout his entire Presidency, amiably signing into law any hideous legislation the Congress puts before him, including every bill loaded with pork barrell spending. Now he's found the hill he's willing to battle to the death upon? One Congressman has it exactly right. From the Washington Post report:
Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) called Bush politically tone-deaf. "Of all the bills to veto, if he lays down this gauntlet, he'll probably have 350 members of the House ready to accept that challenge," Foley said.
Bush welcomed the fight. "They ought to look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do," Bush said. "But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto."
I'm generally as laissez-faire a capitalist as it get, but I have a real problem with foreign governments owning our ports, especially a government that has the reputation of harboring terrorists, such as the United Arab Emirates has. Also from the Post:
But many Republicans and Democrats who represent the seaport regions remain deeply skeptical of a UAE-owned company playing such a central role at some of the most sensitive entry points in the country. They noted that some of the hijackers involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial hub.
This is well-placed skepticism, and a poorly placed veto threat. Bush tried to invoke the imagery of Ronald Reagan in his campaigns, but he's far from Reaganesque. His lack of vetoes to date on budgetary issues is the proof. And you can bet that Reagan never would have struck this deal with the UAE.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The Geist residents who are in opposition to the Town of Fishers' forced annexation met again tonight, with about 400 present, including the local news media. This group really has it together. There is no doubt in my mind that they will defeat the Town's attempts. They had the power point presentations, tables set up for accepting charge card doantions, a block captain system set up, and one more very interesting thing-
For the first time, an elected Republican official stood up and declared that forced annexation is wrong. County Commissioner Steve Dillinger has broken the silent ranks of the GOP and spoke out.
Should he run for another term, I'm sure he will be well rewarded at the polls in the Geist area for having recognized the obvious- that these people want no part of a forced annexation.
Amusingly, one Republican precinct committeeman stood up and spoke in roundabout ways about how the annexation couldn't be all bad. Talk about not knowing your audience. The rumbling of discontent swirled through the room. I was delighted, of course. My point on forced annexation is that it is wrong, period, and that the GOP has been conspicuously out of touch. The people sitting at my table all took my business cards and palm cards, thanks to the man's comments. I do thank him kindly.
His position will probably cost him his postion. Nedra Moran, a Geist resident and annexation foe, is challenging him for the Precinct Committee post.
This is what is delightful to me: The people of the area are becoming rather politically savvy. They are looking for candidates to back, whether incumbents or challengers. The single issue is the position on forced annexation. If incumbents are unwilling to represent their views, they will back a challenger to replace the office holder. I hope to earn their backing.
Sheriff Doug Carter was there and said words to the effect that he had never seen a finer display of the democratic process in action. I couldn't agree more.
Update: Link to Indy Star coverage. Also, WTHR-TV coverage. Also, WISH-TV coverage.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Johnson County municipality Greenwood is prepared to pass their smoking ban ordinance tonight. It would be one of the most restrictive I've seen in our state.
The issue of city employees' smoking habits arose when considering smoking in city-owned vehicles. The conversation went further, to extend to employees using their own vehicles, but conducting city business. From the Indy Star report:
According to Greenwood City Attorney Shawna Koons-Davis, the ban would prohibit smoking -- "if you have to use your vehicle for business."
But Councilwoman Jessie Reed, who spearheaded the initiative, said the ban would be limited to vehicles the city owns.
"Anyplace that has something to do with the public," she said. "I don't think we're quite that Gestapo."
So, according to Reed, Greenwood is willing to be Gestapo, but not that Gestapo. Wow.
I know that in retrospect, Reed will be hating the fact that she said this. It's a Freudian Slip on the grandest order.
That must be reassuring to the good people of Greenwood, for the business owner who believes he should have the right to set his own policy within the four walls of his business, and for the person who believes her car is her property, no matter who it is serving at any given moment.
Never wonder why Indiana drives people away. Sure, I like smoke-free environments. I don't smoke, and never have. But this is a heavy price to pay for smoke-free environments. Why must civil liberties always be the first thing to hit the curb in the quest for a solution to a problem? Why is force the first thing governments turn to? The arguments against smoking are compelling enough. Can't we let it go at that?
It can be a frustrating endeavor if you are a supporter of limited government and greater liberty, trying to figure out where to start to apply your efforts in pursuit of your principles. All levels of life are rife with assaults on freedom, whether these are direct attacks or the results of unintended consequences.
Because allocation of resources is a factor, I always advocate starting with the smallest level of governance possible. I use that word intentionally. You'll see why in a moment.
Sure, federal issues are sexy. These are discussed on the network news, on the Sunday morning pundit shows, so you can easily talk to anybody about these issues and make your points. What you cannot is affect change easily, because just as anyone can talk about these, everybody with a million dollars and an advocacy group that spends millions of dollars also talks about, and lobbies on, these federal issues.
Local issues aren't so flashy, but they affect you, and probably more directly, and in ways you feel. Everybody talks about Iraq, but really only a small percentage of people feel this directly. Sure, we all pay federal taxes, but that money goes into the hopper and is dispersed over many more allocations than we could begin to name or even count. When a municipality has a smoking ban, and you smoke, you feel it. If you own a restaurant business, and the smoking ban is enacted, you feel its effect on the numbers of customers you draw.
If you live in a modern subdivision that has a set of covenants included with the recorded plat, coupled with a vigorous enforcement effort by a Homeowners Association (HOA), you can really feel it.
Some HOAs regulate on an order never dreamt on by Soviet Politboro, much less know-it-all city planning commissions. They regulate such arcane things as the color of the roof or the paint on the walls, the make & model of the mailbox, the dates you are permitted to have Christmas lights hung on the house, whether or not you may have a shed or pole barn, etc. Your neighbors may be the very ones keeping an eye on you so they can rat you out to the HOA, insisting you take down a political sign, or re-paint your house a more neutral color.
Today's Indy Star has an excellent article outlining the stresses of living within subdivisions with vigorous HOAs. From the article:
More than 54 million Americans are living in subdivisions subject to covenants and homeowners associations, according to the Community Associations Institute's national headquarters in Alexandria, Va.
Critics say covenants, which gained popularity during the rise of suburbia following World War II, often are overly restrictive. Advocates, however, say the documents protect homeowners' interests by establishing and enforcing community standards.
"They provide homeowners the chance to govern themselves, maintain the property and enhance property values," said Matt Englert, president of the Central Indiana chapter of the Community Associations Institute.
There is no doubt that most homeowners buy blindly, failing to even read the restrictive covenants. It often looks like so much legalese and gobbledegook, that buyers gloss over and sign the purchase documents. At that point, they have locked themselves into not having a backyard pool or Christmas lights in April. As ever, Caveat Emptor.
However, this is a place where Libertarians can do much good. In my Fishers subdivision, there is a covenant about the mailboxes. Nobody adheres to it. Heaven forbid some busybody with nothing else to do should become the HOA president, and enforce the convenants. About 75% of the neighborhood will find itself shelling out some 50 bucks to get the "right" mailbox.
One's choice of mailboxes is not what makes or breaks a subdivision. General upkeep of the properties means a whole lot more than a personalized mailbox.
Libertarians need to get involved with their HOAs on a leadership level. I know- it isn't nearly as much fun as talking about Iraq or earmarks, but it does two things. It makes home a much happier, freer place to live, and, it gives a nice resume item that shows you can work with people and that the neighborhood didn't go up in flames in the way the paranoid distopian fantasies the opponents of freedom like to describe any time you talk about scaling back control and command with regard to property ownership.
Besides, unless you are a millionaire celebrity, you aren't getting elected to the US Senate without having served a lower office first anyway. At home is where you can start to make a large difference.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
The Indianapolis Star runs an occasional feature in some Sunday editions called "What Hoosiers Are Reading". I decided to submit "Nelson's Trafalgar, The Battle That Changed The World". The Star ran the item this morning.
This is a great book that coincided with my third trip to southern Spain to visit my son, Alex. The interest came from our annual side trips to Gibraltar, where veterans of the Battle of Trafalgar are buried in Trafalgar Cemetary. I like to read up on the places I visit immediately before or after the trips.
Gate entrance to Gibraltar's Trafalgar Cemetary
The Battle of Trafalgar was a pivotal moment in world history, and unfortunately not well studied in the US. This was the last great naval battle involving wooden ships, but resulted because Napolean desperately wished to control the seas for a few hours so his invasion fleet could make way to Britain across the English Channel. The combined French & Spanish fleets failed to budge the British, even for a few hours. The result was British naval supremacy taht gave rise to an empire on which the sun never set.
If you enjoyed the movie Master & Commander with Russell Crowe, and especially if you have enjoyed the books by M&C author Patrick O'Brian, you'll value the graphic descriptions of life at sea while at war, in the early 19th century. An unbelievable way of life.
The book is as much a biography of Nelson, who remains popular on Gibraltar to this day, more than 200 years after his death at this battle. Posters commemorating the man were available at shops on Gibraltar last month during our visit.
I'm really enjoying NBC's coverage of the Olympics, and especially the hockey- both men's & women's.
It's been tough for the USA so far, with the women losing to someone other than Canada for the first time ever, in more than 100 Olympic games, and with the men struggling to qualify for the next round.
NBC has provided excellent coverage for the hockey. They air entire games on any one of their various networks. CNBC has hosted a great many, and this morning I watched Germany-Switzerland and now Russia-Latvia. The USA plays at 10:30 EST this morning, and I can't wait.
Very rarely were entire games aired in previous Olympiads. With single networks juggling a variety of sports, you might get to see five minutes of hockey, and then luge and skiing, missing key moments of games, sitting in suspense over what you couldn't see. Seeing the whole USA-USSR game live was a rare event, and the Miracle On Ice completely justified it. That game made me a hockey fan forever, and an Olympic hockey fan.