Friday, March 23, 2007

NYC Calling!

I'm off the New York this morning, for a weekend visit to my best friend, Steve Wainstead. We're going to eat our way through town. Steve's neighborhood in Queens (Jackson Heights) is an ideal starting place, for the sheer volume of interesting ethnic restaurants. We'll eat at Ecuadoran and Afghani mom & pop joints and get Dim Sum at the least. We won't be going to Brooklyn for pizza here.

I'm finally going to go to the Guggenheim. I don't know why I've never gone in my 20+ trips. We'll rectify that shortly! If the weather holds up, we'll bike the shoreline along northern Queens.

I will ride the MTA trains. Mass transit actually works in NYC because of the density of the city, the walking nature of the city, and the liability that having a car is, in terms of difficulty in finding parking and the high cost. I still wish it were privately funded.

Alas. It's going to be big fun!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mass Transit, Again

I really like that Abdul Hakim-Shabazz always picks me to be "The Opposition" for his on-air debates on mass transit. He had me on his "Abdul in the Morning" show again today, on 1430-am.

I was loaded for bear, waiting for Marc Fisher to use the 'we can't build our way out of congestion' line- while promoting building light rail. Alas, he must have read my last blog entry on the subject, reacting to hearing Marc represent the Indiana Chamber back in February.

Part of the ammunition included the IndyGo balance sheets from 2005 and other years. I made the case that the lion's share- unwards of 80%- of IndyGo's funding comes from tax dollars. IndyGo President Gil Holmes was in the studio with me, and he did not try to evade the numbers I cited. He affirmed that this was fact.

My opening statement included a philosophical position, that I am opposed to the funding of mass transit with tax dollars; that it represents a massive transfer of wealth from the vast majority of Americans who do not ride to the slim minority who do; that this transfer of wealth is unjust; and that if mass transit is to exist, it should be operated privately, or not at all.

Interestingly, Mr. Holmes reacted to my first statement by saying that he did not want to get into a philosophical or political discussion.

That was interesting, because supporting a massive transfer of wealth is both. It was also interesting because he made an almost endless series of political and philosophical statements.

He claimed all of the secondary benefits proponents like to, such as the environmental benefits, quality of life, and convenience, and justified in the cost. That's as political as it gets, to suggest that something is worthy of extracting tax dollars from non-participants and the basis of intangibles that he was not prepared to support with numbers or other supporting data, in the way my use of his balance sheet supported me contentions.

He said, "workers should not have to pay $2.60 a gallon for gas". Well, if that's not a political or philosophical statement, please wake me up with a cattle prod and let me know what is.

This was a tough show, though, in that despite being an hour long, I was able to get in exactly four comments, each one minute or less. I was not at any time able to rebut any statement by Mr. Holmes or by Marc Fisher, who was on the phone line, because there simply wasn't time to do so within the format of the show. Any one else notice the abundance of commercials and promo spots?

Events two days in a row. It was almost like being a candidate again!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Current Activity

I spoke at a press conference this morning with a coalition of opponents to SJR-7, Indiana's proposed constitutional amendment that would affect same-sex marriage.

I was pleased that the Libertarian Party of Indiana got involved with the opposition to this. Like so much of today's legislation, I believe it seeks to oppress a minority because it seems oppressable.

At the core, I believe that government has no business regulating marriage. As a straight, married man, I resented it deeply when I was compelled to purchase a marriage license from the state. I had a church willing to do what I consider church business- a marriage.

So why, as a straight married man, did I speak with the opposition? Because I do not believe that you have to be a part of the oppressed group to be moved to defend them. I would have been a resistance fighter against the Nazis on behalf of the Jews, had I been in Europe, even though I am not Jewish. I defended smoking in private establishments even though I have never been a smoker.

I stand with the opposition because I believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Here is an early report, from the Star:
A Democrat, Republican and Libertarian joined together on the south steps of the Statehouse this morning to denounce a proposed constitutional amendment
to ban same-sex marriages.

Indianapolis City-County council members JoAnne Sanders, a Democrat, and Scott Keller, a Republican, both called for the Indiana House to reject the amendment, as did Libertarian Mike Kole.

"I am inherently appalled by this amendment, which is an effort to write discrimination into our constitution," Sanders said.

Keller called for fellow Republicans to listen to the "voice of history" and realize that backing an amendment against same-sex marriage ultimately will be judged as wrong just as previous laws banning interracial marriages were.

Kole, who ran for secretary of state in 2006, said legislators should leave the business of marriage up to churches, adding that the amendment "rejects liberty."

Here is the full text of my prepared remarks:
Libertarians stand today in opposition to SJR-7. We stand with the opposition for many reasons, but I will focus this morning on a key, traditional, American viewpoint.

Americans have the right to live their lives their way.

This was the view of the Founding Fathers, and in particular, Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence that among our unalienable rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Libertarians honor this long-held, traditional belief as sacred. We ask those who state their support for SJR-7 on traditional grounds to consider just what traditions they are willing to trample in the name of conservative values.

The association of the pursuit of happiness and marriage is not new when regarding bonds seen as controversial to some. Chief Justice Earl Warren declared, in the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which dealt with mixed-race marriages, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

SJR-7 is an affront to the pursuit of happiness.

SJR-7 continues an ugly history of governmental involvement in the regulation of marriage. As I alluded to, the history of government meddling in the business of marriage begins with another discrimination, on the basis of race.

All states have repealed statutes banning mixed-race marriages. Undaunted by the enlightened end of that bigotry, Indiana and other states bring forth legislation that rejects the philosophical underpinnings to our traditions, and rejects liberty.

Rather than adopting SJR-7, the House should do the right thing and reject it. The House should soon enough begin to get government out of the business of marriage, leaving that to the churches.

As we know, many denominations will marry same-sex couples. Many others will not. Everyone goes home happy. There’s that pursuit of happiness again. Leave
everyone free to choose.

Government has a legitimate role to play when marriages fail. Government is correctly the referee, ensuring that obligations are upheld.

That’s the extent of government’s legitimate role.

SJR-7 is just another example of the eagerness of too many of our legislature and our citizens to use government as an instrument of oppression against minorities they believe are fair game to oppression.

Libertarians urge our leaders in the House to resist the temptation to abandon the cherished belief in the right to the pursuit of happiness.

Libertarians urge the House members to reject SJR-7.

I hope the House does just that today. I'll be watching the news reports on TV this evening and following online.

Big Thanks to Bil Browning for inviting me to stand for the Libertarians at the press conference!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hard Facts, Indeed

As I approach my fourth year of blogging, I find that I'm beginning to tire of it.

It was a great release when I was new to Central Indiana and didn't have many friends, or political or professional contacts. That's not an issue any more.

I recently took a look at the stats for my blog and discovered that my traffic is down. Way down. A steady decline since my campaign ended.

I also find that the nature of my work is such that I keep my trap shut on some things that I see as an insider, because although I have strong feelings about things, I would jeopardize my business relationships. Things I have said 2-3 years ago are lurking and probably could hurt my business if they are to be discovered. Do I self-censor and delete? It's the smart thing to do, for sure.

So, at the end of the day, if I'm not excited by it, and readers aren't there, I can hardly see a point. Am I wrong? I'm sure other bloggers have felt this. Tell me about it.