Saturday, May 27, 2006
Astute libertarians have long and often cited an excise tax on long-distance telephone calls as proof that there is nothing quite so permanent as a temporary tax, and that yesterday's luxury becomes today's staple.
This temporary tax was enacted in 1898, in support of the Spanish-American War. Most Americans don't know squat about this war, much less remember the Maine, and yet they had been paying the tax on long-distance calls their entire lives. I guess this means the War is finally over! Hurrah!
The tax had been in the courts for years, and the federal government finally gave up after many appeals. From a Reuters report:
In a statement, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow also urged Congress to repeal the excise tax on local telephone service.
The Justice Department will no longer pursue litigation on the long-distance issue, the statement said.
The Treasury Department said taxpayers can claim a refund on their 2006 returns for the long-distance tax, which was established in 1898 as a luxury tax on wealthy Americans who owned telephones.
Snow, at a press conference on Capitol Hill with lawmakers, said the tax was "antiquated" and well-rid of.
"It's not often you get to kill a tax, particularly one that goes back so far in history," Snow said, adding that Treasury was pleased to concede this tax was no longer useful.
There really ought to be deeper criteria for a tax than its usefullness. It would be useful for me to grab a million dollars from somebody, but that whole morality thing gets in the way. Still- I'm grateful for the result.
Outstanding additional info is available on the TaxProf Blog.
Hat tip to Leo Morris of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel for his entry in his blog.
Update: See Michael Jarrell's entry in his blog Un-Civil Defence.
Friday, May 26, 2006
I left the last on up for a long time. Here are the results:
In the major media, are Libertarians adequately included in coverage?
10% Yes- Until they are elected to more offices, they shouldn't get much coverage.
68% No- Libertarians have good policy ideas and ballot access besides. They deserve more.
2% No- They get too much coverage already! Whatever happened to the 2-party system?
21% Major media? You mean, old media.
The new poll tackles the Wasted Vote Syndrome. As a Libertarian candidate, I frequently hear this: "I like what you guys are about, but I'm afraid that if I vote for you, you won't win, and I'll help the party I like the least to win". That's the Nader Effect.
I'm not so concerned about Libertarians and the Nader Effect in this cycle. I am concerned about the Wasted Vote Syndrome. It is something my campaign will tackle head-on in the run-up to the election.
Be sure to vote!
The Libertarian Party of Indiana announced that it is party to a class action lawsuit in response to NSA interactions with telecommunications compaines. From the LPIN press release:
[T]he Libertarian Party of Indiana is a plaintiff to the lawsuit filed in Indiana and U.S. courts today against a group of telecommunications companies, including the nation's largest service providers.
The class-action lawsuit challenges the telecommunications companies illegal actions in permitting the National Security Agency ("NSA") and affiliated governmental agencies to intercept, monitor and conduct surveillance on their customers' wireline and wireless calls and internet communications without proper authorization.
“This is worse than McCarthyism,” [LPIN Chair Mark] Rutherford said. “These searches are so broad that people with absolutely no relationship with terrorists have had their phone records searched.”
While the LPIN is a state organization that has focused on state and local issues because our candidates run for state and local office, we have not lost sight of issues that affect Hoosiers that are outside the scope of those state and local offices.
The full release can be viewed on the Libertarian Party of Indiana's webpage.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
I really don't like the nationwide Click It or Ticket campaign. Mostly, my safety is my business and not a police matter. Also, as police matters go, I prefer to have all the murders, rapes, and other violent crimes solved before police officers are directed to stand at the roadside to see if motorists are wearing seat belts.
Here's a great perspective on it from Walter Williams:
If we accept the notion that government ought to protect us from ourselves, we're on a steep slippery slope. Obesity is a major contributor to hypertension, coronary disease and diabetes, and leads not only to many premature deaths but billions of dollars in health-care costs. Should government enforce, depending on a person's height, sex and age, a daily 1,400 to 2,000-calorie intake limit? There's absolutely no dietary reason to add salt to our meals. High salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, which can then lead to stroke, heart attack, osteoporosis and asthma. Should government outlaw adding salt to meals? While you might think that these government mandates would never happen, be advised that there are busybody groups currently pushing for government mandates on how much and what we can eat.I love salt, and I can eat all I want. I have low blood pressure. I eat 3,000 calories a day and at 37, I'm rather trim. One-size-fits-all laws just don't fit.
Mandates on food were laughed at as absurd by the people pushing smoking bans just two years ago. Within the last month, soft drink vendors pulled some offerings from school vending machines, seeing the writing on the wall. It's come further in a short time than I would have ever dreamed.
Look- I don't smoke, I drink rarely, I generally avoid fried food, I never use drugs. I even rarely use aspirin when I have a headache. I wear my seat belt, and I try to get regular exercise. I do none of these things because of any law or warning label. I do these things because they make sense to do them.
Culturally, there are good reasons to be concerned. Just wait until you see your restaurant menus after food gets worked over by snobbish health nannies who expect it only to hit McDonald's and other fast food joints. Ever taken a look at the calorie and fat numbers on Kobe steak or your brie? The entire menu of the average Mexican or Indian restaurant would be banned.
Life is full of choices- or should be. Sometimes, we like to enjoy things that we know aren't good for us. These things give us pleasure. At the rate the busybodies are going, life in America is going to go from the vibrant cornucopia of cultural opportunities to a gray, bland, but safe stale humdrum.
I find it very interesting and curious to learn who today's puritans are. It's time to step back and see what we are doing to our culture. What's the big deal about seat belts? To get it, ask a biker about lid laws, or ask a French chef what he thinks about doing without butter or cream. It's losing liberty and losing joy, bit by little bit.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Excellent breaking news for supporters of property rights and the right to self-determination, as a Judge has ruled against Carmel's effort to forcibly annex the Southwest Clay area. From the Indy Star's initial report:
Hamilton Superior Court Judge William Hughes issued the ruling this morning in favor of four petitioners fighting annexation of the area. The ruling comes after a three-day trial at the end of February.
Hughes found that Carmel had not met its legal burden to prove annexation is in the best interests of Southwest Clay Township residents. Hughes is the same judge who, in October, blocked Carmel's attempt to annex Home Place, the 1.4-square-mile community just east of southwest Clay Township. The city is appealing that decision.
Of course the City of Carmel is appealing. These are tax-and-spend Republicans at work!
Residents of Geist have been watching for developments in this case, as Fishers had shelved its' plan to forcibly annex Geist neighborhoods until they learned the results of the Carmel-SW Clay case.It is likely that the Fishers Town Council will now either give up on its forced annexation plans or further shelve the item to await the outcome of Carmel's appeal. That could be a very lengthy wait.
Here are some details from Tom Britt's report on atgeist.com:
First, SW Clay already receives adequate police and fire protection. The legal issue that arose was whether or not SW Clay “provides” their own fire protection since they hire Carmel firefighters and own the firestation that they use. In their case, just as is the case with Geist homeowners, Clay Township actually built the firestation and has a contract with Carmel to provide firefighters and staffing. The judge ruled in favor of SW Clay and agreed that through this relationship, they were already providing this service.
Secondly, the court agreed with landowners that the tax impact would be “significant”. In this case, SW Clay residents were looking at a 21.4% property tax increase; the same type of increase Geist property owners would be looking at. By pulling tax records of the remonstrators, Carmel tried to show that the residents could afford a 21.4% increase. However, the judge ruled that it didn’t matter if they could afford it or not, it was significant and that was all that mattered.
Thirdly, Judge Hughes did not see this annexation in the best interests of SW Clay landowners. Remember, in order for a municipality to overcome a remonstration, they have the burden of proof that the annexation is in the best interests of the residents. He cited that Carmel had not provided sewer or water to the entire territory, and therefore this was not in the SW Clay residents’ best interests.
Obviously these forced annexations aren't in the best interests of those being subjected to it. In business, this is the equivalent of a hostile takeover, or in foreign policy, an act of war. When people believe being added to a municipality is in their best interest, they voluntarily petition to be annexed.
Let's hope to appeal is summarily dismissed.
Did you miss the Hamilton County Libertarian Meet-Up last night? No problem- go to Marion County's tonight!
Where: Borders Book & Music, 8675 River Crossing Blvd, on Indy's north side. Borders phone: 317-574-1775
RSVP if you will be there, or if you can't and would like to get on the email notification list. Follow this link to RSVP.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Come out to Claude & Annie's in Fishers tonight from 7:30-9:00 for a casual Libertarian Meet-Up. No boring business meetings, just fun, stimulating conversations on issues of the day and libertarian perspectives.
Claude & Annie's is located on the southwest corner of SR 37 & 141st Street in Fishers, in the strip behind the Speedway station. See you there!
RSVP by following this link. It's useful to sign up so that you can get notifications of future Meet-Up events.
I was beginning to think that the Democrats were going to forget about running a Secretary of State candidate, but yesterday a soft announcement was made that there will in fact be a Democrat in the game.
The reporting was interesting. The Indy Star report pointed to a wonderful reason to elect Mike Kole Secretary of State:
After governor, no office is more important to the political parties than secretary of state. If the House is tied 50-50 after this November's general election, the party that wins this office also wins control of the House.
Take us right to the top in the House! Elect Kole!
Big numbers in this race will make political life in Indiana very interesting. I think it's clear that the Ds & Rs underestimated Libertarian tenacity and endurance when they wrote the rules, never expecting that we could reach their thresholds. We have, and we are continuing the climb up the ladder!
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Big, big thanks to the Monroe County Libertarians, including Margaret Fette, Bob Grisham, Duncan Adams, and Sandy May Parkes, for putting together an excellent parade and fair presence in Harrodsburg Saturday.
This event helped kick off Kole's Parade Brigade. After all, everyone loves a parade. I think the pictures show that abundantly.
Photo info: Top photo, from left is Margaret Fette, Sandy Parkes May's son and two friends ready to pass out candy. Second photo: Sandy and Margaret enjoying a moment just before the start of the parade. Third photo: Bob Grisham staffs the Libertarian Party booth at the Community Center. Bottom photo: Duncan Adams gives me a good-natured ribbing.
This was just an excellent event. The people of southern Monroe County were very interested in Libertarian postions on issues such as extending I-69 and taxes, especially. There was a lot of 'looking for a complete change from Rs & Ds' sentiment expressed. We made it a point only to distribute literature to those who wanted it- and we gave it all away.
I love doing the small-town events, because the statewide candidates rarely appear here. People were very appreciative. Plus, I had an awesome lemon pepper pork loin sandwich!
We'll be at parades and fairs around the state this year. Come join the fun and support the campaign! Contact Rob Place to join the Parade Brigade!