Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Polls

First, the results on the old polls. The voters are mainly Hoosier Libertarians, with the numbers looking like this:

Voted for in '04:

Gividen 19
Daniels 9
Kernan 2

If given a second chance in '06:

Gividen 21
Daniels 5
Kernan 1
None of the above 4

With the legislative session having just concluded, I thought the time was right to reflect on what just passed (or didn't), and to think about the 2007 legislative session.

My highlight was the passage of the eminent domain bill. It wasn't everything the defenders of private property rights could have wanted, but it is an improvement over what was law before, and we found that there are some legislators, like Dave Wolkins, who do respect private property.

My lowlight was the overactivity of the session. The old quote is that no one's life or liberty is safe when the legislature is in session. The short session is supposed to be for the consideration of emergency legislation. The only item that qualified was the eminent domain bill, in light of the state's "negoatiations" with the NK Hurst Company. Most everything else was just puffery designed to make the legislators look significant. Well, that doesn't explain Major Moves, does it?

My top priority for 2007 is across-the-board budget cuts of at least 1%. The full session is the budgetary session, so Libertarians need to put pressure on the GOP to make this their priority so long as they have the majority... which they might not have by time the session begins.

If your top issues aren't in the poll, clue me in with comments!
People Vote With Their Feet

Today's Indy Star published an interesting article by Bill Ruthhart this morning. It should serve as a lesson for Marion County's elected officials, and a cautionary tale for Hamilton County's. From Ruthhart's article:
Some of the suburban county's growth is at the expense of Marion County, where the population drain is evident in the census estimates.

From 2000 to 2005, Hamilton County's population increased 32 percent, making it the 18th fastest-growing in the nation. Hendricks was the only other Indiana county to crack the Top 100, ranking as the 75th fastest-growing county with a 22 percent increase.

"An awful lot of this is coming from what we call suburban flight," said Vince Thompson, an economic research analyst with the Indiana Business Research Center in Bloomington.

While the newcomers moving into Central Indiana's suburban areas surged over the past five years, Marion County has seen people continue to move out. From 2000 to 2005, the number of U.S. residents moving out of Marion County outnumbered those moving in by more than 47,000.

What the article did not do is site anyone willing to make a political statement as to why the shift. As a former Marion County resident who chose to become a Hamilton County resident, I can shed some light: people vote with their feet.

The policies that carry the day in Marion County today drive wealth away. When living in Marion County, I could see that my tax burdens were only going to go up, and that my reward for staying would be a fight against urban decay. Consider:
  • IndyGo is more than 80% funded by tax dollars.
  • IPS continues to reach for ever more tax dollars without improving test scores or even security.
  • The streets and sidewalks (where you can find sidewalks) were crumbling.
  • The sewers lack the capacity to handle rainfalls of greater than a half-inch.
  • Etc. I mean, you could go on endlessly.
Also, where you have people who embrace public policies such as these, you will have people of means looking for the escape hatch.

Here's the biggest difference I found in attitude. I sent my son to IPS for exactly one half year. His teacher was excellent. When he goofed off, she called me on her cell phone to let me know. That was effort beyond the call of duty on her part, and I appreciated it.

I sat in her classroom one day and, being a product of private schooling that included a regiment of corporal punishment, I was appalled at the amount of time wasted just trying to get kids to sit down and settle down sufficient to hear the instruction. At a break I asked the teacher why it is as it is, understanding that the yardstick and paddle aren't available any more.

She told me that it didn't matter if she held the yardstick or if the parents did, as long as one of them held it. Didn't even have to use it, just hold it. She reported that a majority of parents would actually argue with her about the child's behavior, telling her it didn't happen the way she was reporting, and besides, it's her job to educate. It's the parent's job to get the kid to the bus stop.

Simply put, here in Hamilton County, a majority of parents expect their kids to produce in school and to succeed. That attitude makes all the difference.

At the core of it, the difference between Marion County and Hamilton County is the present population's relationship to the concept of self-responsibility.

That's why I am concerned for the future of Hamilton County. Just as so many people who reject self-responsibility embrace Marion County for that place's tolerance of it, Hamilton County is moving towards policies that will make it more hospitable to those who reject self-responsibility. The prime example of this is the embrace of public transportation. It is plain that the riders of mass transit do not foot the bill alone, but that others who never use it bear the lion's share of the cost.

Add to mass transit the approval of low-income housing apartments in Noblesville, the proliferation of Habitat for Humanity housing, also mainly in Noblesville, higher taxes and bigger government, and you have the makings for the reinvention of Marion County north of 96th Street.

Especially when you have children, you consider things like these. If you have the means, you go where you think it best for your children. There was simply no way I was going to be willing to stay in Indianapolis with a newborn in our future, so we moved.

People have been running away from the dominant policies of the dominant population centers for centuries. I come from immigrant stock on four sides- Irish, Polish, Hungarian, and Slovenian. Three of my four forebearers fled starvation. Two additionally fled political persecution. Today's immigrants continue to flee poverty, seeking opportunity. While the flight of wealth is a new American phenomenon, the impetous is the same- people just yearn to be free.

At some point, we need to reverse the dominant public policies in our core cities and return them to self-responsibility so that Americans will not continue this trend of leaving rotted cores for cities and consuming ever more land in developing new cities. You want to stop sprawl? Make the cities more attractive. Want to make the cities more attractive? Make people of means feel safe in cities- financially, in their person, esthetically, and especially, intellectually.
Hillary in '08?

Here's a nice cartoon laff for you: link. It looks like one of those Jib-Jab cartoons you will recall from the '04 presidential campaigns.

It would have been a tad funnier to me personally if Dennis Kucinich was on the chorus line. That's just me, though. (Kucinich was my US Rep. when I lived in Cleveland.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Fort Wayne TV Appearance Tomorrow

I will be the guest of the Fort Wayne Libertarians tomorrow at 7pm on their live broadcast on cable TV channel 57. Doug Horner is the host, and we'll take calls.

I plan to discuss the highlights and low points of the recently concluded legislative session and issues Libertarians would like to see taken up in next year's session, such as the gerrymandering of electoral districts, and a 1% across-the-board budget cut.

It would be great to get a DVD of this show and the other two I have appeared on, to get clips available for viewing here or on the campaign website.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tentative Good News Announcement

Just as the blind squirrel finds a nut, the General Assembly is poised to pass minor property tax relief. From an Indy Star report:
Legislative negotiators sealed a deal this afternoon on a property tax relief plan that will give homeowners $227 million worth of tax breaks this year and next.

The final version of House Bill 1001, which will be voted on today, provides $100 million in property tax credit for homeowners in 2006. On average, homeowners will pay 4 percent less this year than they would have without this break.

In 2007, the property tax break would become a deduction, which will mean the standard deduction off Hoosiers' assessed valuation will increase from $35,000 per home to $45,000 per home.

Let's not get crazy with full celebration mode yet. The final vote hasn't happened yet, and if new municipal taxes are attached to it, this is just a shift in how you pay. After all, if there are $227 million in tax cuts without commensurate cuts in spending, one of two things must happen- new tax burdens created elsewhere, or deficit spending.

Now- let's see the final tally on Major Moves!
How Should Elected Officials Vote?

Abdul led an interesting conversation on WXNT this morning asking this question. Should elected officials be beholden to the will of the people issue by issue? Or, should they take stock that they were elected to sometimes make tough decisions?

I believe in the latter. They elected you, so it was up to the voters to know what you were about. If it turns out the voters don't like the specifics of what you're about, they can unelect you next time.

The reason Abdul was having this discussion is that the vote on Major Moves happens today. In particular, the northern counties are very opposed to Major Moves, which presumably makes any Republican that votes in favor vulnerable in the next election.

Sticking to your guns is a function of having the strength and courage of your convictions. If Republicans are wavering, it tells me that they aren't completely sold on Major Moves, or that they have failed to do a good job of communicating what Major Moves is about to their voters.

I'll go back to Ronald Reagan, as I have many times in comparing Mitch Daniels. Reagan was brilliant at taking an idea to the people, communicating the benefits of a plan very clearly, often in advance of giving the plan to the legislature. The public was often on board from the beginning, making the decisions for the majority party less difficult. In fact, this is why the phenomenon of Reagan Democrats existed- because Reagan sold plans to the public so well, it became a difficult decision for the other party.

If Mitch Daniels were any kind of communicator, Major Moves might not be a controversial measure at all. If the Republican leadership, such as Kenley, Espich, etc., were any kind of communicators, it might be an easy vote today.

There are still many questions that seem unanswered to the majority of voters, which is why this has become such a controversial issue.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Can't Afford It?

Let me see if I got this straight. Earlier this week, the Colts got $120+ million in naming rights for the unbuilt stadium. Today, Edgerrin James signs with the Cardinals- because the Colts can't afford it? From ESPN's report:
The 27-year-old James played the 2005 season with the Colts under the one-year qualifying offer for a franchise tailback. Indianapolis officials had made it clear they could not afford to bring James back for another season, and the Colts likely will look to the draft for a replacement.
Did Mr. Irsay just blow all the money on the biggest whopping party since Sodom & Gommorah? How on earth could the Colts not afford to bring James back?

Mind boggling. It gets harder and harder to be a Colts fan. From the Indy Star report:
"If you look at our record, when Edgerrin's played, it's spectacular,'' Dungy about the veteran running back, who joined with Manning and receiver Marvin Harrison to form the Colts' highly acclaimed "Triplets."

With James in the lineup, the Colts posted a 70-26 regular-season record. Without him, they're 7-9.

"That says something about his value,'' Dungy said.

Agreed. Which makes it maddening to not have him back. Oh well, light another cigar with a $100 bill, Mr. Irsay.
Stretch Run

This year's short legislative session is coming to a close, and the pressure is on to deal with the Major Moves proposal.

I wish I could be for it, because I am in favor of this kind of privatization, whereby the state retains its' assets, and the private company manages the operation. However,

75 years is too long. 10 years is ideal.
No new terrain I-69. People along the majority of the route don't want it.
The money must be kept in the upper third of the state. No redistribution of wealth.

The Libertarian Party of Indiana has more details on it's legislative page. The LPIN calls for action! Contact your legislator and make your position known!

Link to Indiana's "Who's My Legislator" page.