Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Indiana- Home Of Crony Capitalism

I absolutely hate it when a critic makes the mistake of seeing a government created monopoly business situation that creates problems, and assailing it broadly as a failure of capitalism.

I expect such criticism to begin to mount in the wake of the Indiana prison riot in New Castle. From the Indy Star report:
State officials will temporarily halt the transfer of Arizona prisoners to the New Castle Correctional Facility after a riot Tuesday that prompted calls for an end to housing another state's inmates in Indiana.

Department of Correction officials said nine people -- two prison employees and seven inmates -- suffered minor injuries in separate disturbances involving Arizona and Indiana prisoners during a two-hour period Tuesday afternoon at the facility 50 miles east of Indianapolis.

The other day, it was the "In God We Trust" license plates. Today it's this 'imported inmates' deal. What do both have in common? True conservatives should be opposed to both.

True conservatives should be opposed to special interest group-driven license plates on the basis that government has no business being a clearing house for private organizations, or for promoting mottos or images. Instead, Republicans seek balance- some plates they can call their own.

True conservatives should be opposed to selling off excess prison capacity on the basis that government should only have marginal excess prison capacity to begin with, and that state government has a limited proper role in protecting its' citizens from dangerous criminals. Instead, Republicans seek to turn the state into a business, making a profit on the excess prison capacity that should not be, taking in prisoners that are not the proper responsibility of the state of Indiana.

Indeed, Indiana government turned its responsibility on its' head. While by housing Indiana prisoners it is supposed to be protecting the law-abiding citizenry, it imported Arizona prisoners and thereby threatened the safety of the law-abiding Indiana citizenry.

This is without even considering the social implications of bringing two distinct prison populations together. Also from the Star:
"The idea of bringing in people from another state who bring along their gangs, allegiances and different alliances immediately was a mixture that was bound to bring trouble," said House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend.

This is something that should have been anticipated by the State. It's obvious. Was it even considered? It isn't just culture clashes between populations that should have been considered, but also between procedures. Another quote:
Commissioner J. David Donahue said the Arizona prisoners may have been upset
because Indiana prisons have different rules, including a ban on smoking and
limits on personal items inmates can have in their cells.

What causes riots? When a prisoner has so little, they hang on to the few things they have. If they had cigarettes in Arizona and lost them in coming to Indiana, anyone with a shred of common sense had to know the inmates would be unhappy. All these differences should have been scouted in advance. It appears they were not.

So, capitalism is likely to take the hits, when it doesn't deserve it. Let's be clear on terms:

Capitalism is business that exists in the private sector, and outside of monopoly settings. This privatization deal is not capitalism. There is no competition in Indiana for private operation of prisons. This prison is the only one that is privately managed. That's crony capitalism. I detest crony capitalism.

Privatization is allowing a private operator to manage a function previously managed by government. This prison is no longer managed by government, being managed by a private corporation, GEO Group.

The importation of prisoners into this prison was not the brainchild of GEO Group, however. This was a Daniels Administration initiative. GEO had to deal with the situation.

Both Daniels and GEO have failed here, but I hold Daniels as most accountable. The importation never should have happened, as outlined above. If it hadn't, the riots most likely wouldn't have happened.

Today's Republicans will accept anything the people wearing the Elephant Brand promote. Expanding the state government's role in prison management? What principled conservative could possibly be in favor? Ah. There's just an absense of principled Republicans.

So, Republicans. Don't wince to sternly when capitalism gets beaten up because of this. You helped make it so.

Monday, April 23, 2007

License Plate Suit Being Pressed

No surprise here, but in conjunction with the ICLU, an Indiana man has filed suit regarding the state's "In God We Trust" plates. From an Indy Star report:
The lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis claims motorists who request the "In God We Trust" plates receive preferential treatment because they do not have to pay a $15 administrative fee that the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles collects. The administrative fees are added to other fees whose proceeds promote the causes of the other specialty plates.

The plaintiff bringing the case, Mark Studler, said he pays an additional $40 for one of the popular environmental plates depicting an eagle above the word "Environment." Of the total fee, $25 goes to a state trust to purchase land set aside for conservation or recreational purposes and the remaining $15 is for the administration fee.

The 2006 law establishing the "In God We Trust" plate waives the
administrative fee.

I don't like the premise of license plates to begin with, let alone vanity plates. But I stringently object to the state, via the BMV, collecting money for any extraneous purpose. It doesn't matter to me whether the cause is the environment, one of the state universities, or Riley; or if the plate is just a motto or the image of a team like the Pacers or the Colts. The state shouldn't be a clearing house for a cause. It's bad enough that we have license plates at all. Must the state make a cottage industry of it?

It will be amusing listening to the so-called conservatives wailing about this suit as frivolous, mainly because it bothers them in the perception as an assault on God. Real conservatives would have opposed using the state as a tool for creating special interest imagery and the whole premise of special interest vanity plates. No, today's conservatism merely calls for "balance". The environmentalists have a license plate? Well, then we should have one with the word 'God' on it, too!

This is just as where conservatives used to oppose all welfare, they are now unified in providing balance, in the form of corporate welfare. &c.