Saturday, April 15, 2006

April 15 - Just Another Day?

Hopefully, soon it will be. I am a proponent of the Fair Tax, which would eliminate at the very least, the seven hours I put into completing my forms this year.

The Fair Tax is not perfect. It does nothing to question the amount of federal spending, or the priorities of that spending, nor whether the object of the spending is even proper in the first place.

However, here's what the Fair Tax does do, which makes it worthy of support:

* It eliminates the IRS
* It ceases the punishment on earning
* It ceases the punishment on saving and investment
* It abolishes the 16th Amendment, which authorized the personal income tax
* It makes it unnecessary for individuals to fill out cumbersome forms, or hire accountants to do it for them, making compliance easier and less costly
* It eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was designed to snare millionaires, but now bilkes upper middle class people * It eliminates corporate taxes, which would make the USA a haven for businesses from around the world and end the off-shoring American companies engage in
* It eliminates hidden taxes- the ones corporations pass along embedded in their prices, which most Americans scarcely know are there
* It collects dollars that are currently not collected from people who operate in the underground economy

Get all this done, and our economy will soar immediately. And, because the tax is a consumption tax with a visible 23% price tag, Americans will finally see how much they are paying, and will begin to question the amount of taxation and federal spending, the priorities, and whether the objects of the spending are within the proper role of government in the first place. Get this done, and the average American will get eight hours of his life back, will be encouraged to save and to invest, and take on more work. It just disgusts me that the tax code discourages people from doing these things for fear the gains would kick them into a higher tax bracket.

Go to the Fair Tax website for more details. Also, Neal Boortz' book on the Fair Tax is finally hitting library shelves and getting into paperback, so you can read up on it there.

Update: C-Span is airing Neal Boortz in a debate with Yale Law Professor Michael Graetz right now (Saturday evening, 7pm)! C-Span will air this item again Sunday early morning at 2:30am, and then again at 10:30am, all times EDST. Set up the Tivo!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Greenfield Report

Libertarians and a concerned citizens group held a Freedom Rally outside city hall prior to the Greenfield City Council meeting last night. It was interesting, to say the least.

The rally came in response to Greenfield's smoking ban. Some of the concerned citizens are smokers, others are business owners that catered to smokers, and others are defenders of property rights. The group took the time to craft a compromise ordinance, that would give greater options to business owners. It would permit restauranteurs to make their establishment an adult-only facility, which matches the law in nearby Indianapolis.

The meeting started with a discussion on all things related to the ban, but it was a council-only discussion. The issue of the literal interpretation of the ban, which would prevent churches from burning incense at services, was discussed at length, as were the issues of enforcement.

The Council entertained two amendments to the ordinance that were suggested by Council members. They voted on these, and moved on.

They did not introduce the amendments proposed by the citizens group. They took public comment after the voting was completed.

It really served as excellent commentary on how much interest the Council has in public input.

But, public input was taken, and an interesting group of people spoke. Two were from the Daniels Administration, and both commended the Council on the passage of the ordinance. One said it made his job of luring business to Indiana easier. How's that? By showing people property rights have no place here? I'm really doubting that the floodgates of corporate relocations are now beginning to burst. Slash the tax rates and pump smoke into every room, and then you'll see an exodus to Indiana.

Another supporter, who spoke directly before me, made the claim that "Big Tobacco" was behind the opposition with big dollars, that opponents always couch their arguments in terms of rights, and that we always ask the question, "if this now, what next"? He got 2 out of 3.

I spoke and made no apologies for defending the rights of property owners. I made the case for the primacy of property rights. The dynamic involved in backing non-smokers who want the policy enforced over the objections of the restaurant property owner is this: "I'm here now, so you get to change to suit me". I stated that Libertarians believe that the owner gets to call the shots, not every body else but the owner. Alas, this is the absurd world we live in.

I did ask "what next", because if a City can ban smoking within a business, can they not use the same rationale to extend the same law to your home? Health is the rationale, and it seems entirely foreseeable to me that banning smoking in the home to protect children is next.

As for "Big Tobacco", I said I sure would love to see about $300,000 in tobacco money. I turned and asked the gallery if anyone had even seen a nickel from a tobacco company. Of course, nobody had. In fact, tobacco is one of the most curious industries in the USA today. It is the only legal product whereby its producers have to spend millions of dollars urging people not to use it. More importantly, and contrary to the assertion made by the man who preceded me, Big Tobacco actually funds the non-profit organizations that do the work of pushing these bans on the cities. The websites that host the model legislation are paid for by Big Tobacco dollars.

Well, why let facts, or liberty, get in the way of an unfortunate ordinance? I don't smoke, by my own choice. It was choice that was squashed in Greenfield once again.

I am eagerly awaiting the publication of the Greenfield paper. I was having a conversation with a friend as the reporter stood by. He asked me what I thought of the Councilor who made a claim to this effect- (paraphrasing) "I try to listen to the constituents and go with them. More people who were in favor of the ban spoke to me and urged me to vote this way. This is the right way to govern, in my opinion".

What do I think of that? Not much. What I said was, "That man has no moral compass". The reporter wrote hungrily in her notebook. That's fine. I knew she was there.

I meant it. If a preponderance of residents approach this Councilor and urge him to enact an 80% tax on guys named Fred, would he do it only because it was the will of the majority? Right and wrong has no basis? Principle has no place? That was what this man explained for all to hear. What matters is the mob.

What the heck- business was good for me. About 30 people took lovely 'Kole' bumper stickers. I really wish there was zero interest in them last night. I would have gone away happier knowing that the health of our nation -the defense of property rights- hadn't been traded away to the health nannies.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Radio Appearance Tomorrow

I will be on WXNT 1430-am once again, Friday morning, from 6-7:00 am. Those in and around Indy can tune in. Others can go to and listen to the streamed signal.

Brad Klopfenstien is the fill-in host tomorrow, as Abdul takes his comedy act on the road. Klopfenstien is the Executive Director of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association.

We'll talk about the issues of the day, take calls, and talk about the nature of the primary election system, the snafu's being encountered by the various counties with their primary ballots, and the expected anti-April 15th comment everyone comes to expect from a Libertarian candidate for office!
Greenfield Freedom Rally

I will be standing with others who support the right of business property owners to set their own policies on their properties in Greenfield this evening, around 6:30pm. Come down and show your support! We'll be right downtown, at City Hall.

This date and time was chosen as the Greenfield City Council meets at 7:00pm. The purpose is to remind the City Council that their smoking ban has crippled the operations of small, mom-and-pop restaurants, such as Annie's, which is owned by Ann Tomey. I have chronicled her plight many times, but here's the bottom line: the change in the law caused her to see her business drop by 80%. People who smoke seemed to really like to eat at Annie's. The City Council never consulted her to see how their law would impact her.

The City Council may not support her, but Libertarians do. We'll show it again tonight.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lawsuit Filed To Block Toll Road Deal

A citizens group filed suit today, suing the state on constitutional grounds, in the hopes of blocking the Major Moves toll road deal from moving forward. From the Indy Star:
Within hours of the state signing a deal to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years, a citizens' group filed a lawsuit to block the agreement.

State officials signed the lease this morning with Macquarie-Cintra, a private Australian-Spanish consortium, for $3.85 billion. Meanwhile, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana filed a lawsuit in St. Joseph County arguing the agreement violates the state's constitution.

Dave Menzer, a campaign organizer for the Indianapolis-based group, argued the Indiana Constitution requires the proceeds from any state-owned asset must go toward paying down public debt.

Proceeds from the lease would be used to fund Gov. Mitch Daniels' Major Moves roads initiative, which includes the extension of I-69 from Indianapolis to Evansville.
Libertarians are generally in favor of privatization. The constitutional argument made by the citizens group is an excellent one. Pay down the debt! Libertarians issued other objections prior to the passage of the law, on the following grounds:
  • The deal is too long. 15 years for the same money would have been appropriate, not 75.
  • This is a socialistic redistribution of wealth program, where uses of the road in the northern counties are paying to build roads in other parts of the state.
  • New terrain I-69 is the main target for new construction. Libertarian prefer upgrading existing roads to Interstate standards before consuming new terrain.
  • The people of the northern counties were against it. Their will should have been respected, or at least a better job of selling the deal to them by the Daniels Administration should have happened.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Relax With Marion County Libertarians

Travis Cross has done great things in putting together a strong Marion County Libertarian Meet-Up group, and also a regular after-hours meet-up.

Tomorrow will be one of the after-hours events. Meet at Bearno's Pizza downtown (Google Map) beginning at 5:00pm and talk politics and issues of the day with other supporters of free markets and individual freedom! You can RSVP here if you want to be included in future notifications of Marion County Libertarian Meet-Up events, or simply show up.
New Poll Time

The Libertarian Party of Indiana hosts annual state conventions, attracting delegates from all over Indiana who vote on party business. Link to LPIN State Convention info.

The 2006 state convention is in the most important of the four-year election cycles, as it nominates the party's candidate for Secretary of State. The SoS candidate's outcome in November determines the LPIN's ballot status. The candidates for other statewide offices, such as Auditor and Treasurer will also be nomindated, along with candidates for State Representative, State Senator, and others.

Do you plan to attend your party's state convention? Take the poll!

Here are the results of the last poll:

When the Libertarian Party earns Major Party status this year, it will be eligible to participate in the 2007 Primaries. The LPIN should:

57% Take the moral high road and opt out. Continue to spare taxpayers the expense, and nominate candidates at party-funded conventions.

29% Participate in the Primaries. It shows Hoosiers the LP is major just like Rs & Ds.

14% Participate in the Primaries. The Rs & Ds use them to figure out who will be their volunteers and contributors. Why should they enjoy this advantage?

This was pretty much as I thought it would be. It would be interesting to poll this question seriously among Hoosiers statewide. I don't think most citizens give much thought to the question of how the primaries are funded, and to the benefit of whom. If they did, I think they would want a change.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

NK Hurst "Update"

If two parties come to an agreement in principle in January, it doesn't necessarily mean that the documents have to be signed in any kind of hurry, does it?

Not if the Stadium Authority is involved, apparently. Oh, sure, they'll commission digging half-way to China and piling the soil such that it dwarfs the NK Hurst building (is that intimidation?) before construction season even begins, but sign an important deal that sends a signal of good faith? Bah. Why rush? From John Ketzenberger's Indy Star report:
Optimism ran high after a marathon meeting Jan. 21 between the two sides. The grueling nine-hour session ended with an agreement in principle: The company could stay on the property and would be paid for a 3-acre parcel shared with the stadium, if it agreed to give control of the land to the state.

Emotions ebbed and flowed at that meeting, the first face-to-face gathering since the state filed suit Dec. 30 to take the land. The breakthrough came at mid-afternoon, according to people at the meeting, when stadium authority member John Mutz made it clear the Hursts could stay on the land.

A few days after the big meeting, Mutz, a Broad Ripple High School classmate of company exec Needham Hurst, predicted a done deal in short order.

Now it's nearing mid-April, and the huge mound of dirt just west of the two-story Hurst factory is at least triple the height of the brick building's roofline.
I don't know if the Star ran pictures of the mound in the print version (I don't buy the Star because they don't cover Libertarians enough), so here's one of mine, from March 16. Somehow, it doesn't convey the feeling of being there. Oh, that's right- if you take the photo from the other side of the mound, you can't see the building at all.

(T)he Hursts got a tour of the site, including a trip to the top of the dirt mound Jim Hurst called Mount Klipsch in honor of the stadium authority's point man, John Klipsch. "I told him that," Hurst said, "and he thought it was pretty funny."
If you can't laugh about it, you might cry. Let's hope this thing ends as it should- on terms favorable to the Hursts. Then let's pray we never see another pointless, ugly eminent domain theft attempt in Central Indiana again.
Abdul On Stage

After a year of hearing about radio host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz having the stand-up comic alter ego for about a year, I finally got to witness his act, and without having to drive to Springfield, IL, where he often goes to do it.

Abdul opened for former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson last night at Crackers in Broad Ripple, and in my opinion, was the best of the three comics this evening.

My favorite Abdul gag was the one about frivilous racial lawsuits, such as the recent one against Southwest Airlines. Abdul's got his own waiting in the wings. It has to do with opening aspirin bottles and having to pick cotton out of them. Abdul warmed to his routine as he progressed through it and won the crowd over by time he handed the mic off to the next comic.

He's been saying on his morning show that there is a lot of material in his act that he can't use on WXNT. He delivered in that as much as I've heard him on the air, there were plenty of lines I've never heard from him before, and actually, he probably could use it on the air without any worries from the FCC.

I ended up feeling a bit sorry for Jackson. It can't be good for the self-esteem trading on the good ol' SNL days, being a platinum blond telling dumb blond jokes, and getting some of the biggest applause for doing a handstand.