Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oh, Now There's A Problem With License Plates

Indiana is one of many states that allows itself to be a fundraising instrument for private organizations via vanity license plates. My position has always been that the license plate serves a particular function, and the bumper sticker goes on the bumper. The state should never be an instrument for private fundraising.

There are somewhere near 100 organizations for which the state wrongly acts as middleman- for sports organizations like the Colts and even the Tony Stewart Foundation; civic clubs like the Rotary and Lions; unions; and many more. Up to there, I had never heard a complaint from anyone but Libertarians. But, once a gay group gets in? Oh, conservatives finally decide the state shouldn't be involved. From the Indy Star:

Indiana began printing new plates in December for the Indiana Youth Group, which supports gay youths. The state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles approved the plates after a 2010 court battle with IYG and the Indiana American Civil Liberties Union.

Yet in the waning days of the 2012 session, Advance America -- an Indiana-based nonprofit led by conservative stalwart Eric Miller -- is lobbying state lawmakers to ban IYG and other gay support groups from offering special Indiana plates.

State Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, has tried three times this year to ban the IYG plates by pushing amendments for unrelated motor vehicle bills. House Republicans rebutted his latest attempt this week for fear that the controversial issue would damage support for their broader effort of cracking down on the recent rapid growth of specialty plates -- there are 105 of them, according to the House's Transportation Committee chairman.

Oh, they want to crack down? First I'm hearing of it. Interesting. Once there are 100, it's out of hand. What about principle? What about the very question of the role of government in private fundraising? Why wasn't that attacked at the onset?

I suspect that if Indiana Youth Group was first to request, the conscience of the conservatives would have been alive and well.

The state shouldn't be a middleman for fundraising. It's time to eliminate this practice altogether- not because a gay group wants to play the game too, but because it's wrong.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Spectacle Of Wealth Envy

I learned long ago not to worry about what others make. It can eat you up, from the inside out. Is what I'm making fair to me? That's the way I look at it.

And rich? Who's rich? My experience has been that nobody, regardless of their income, thinks of themselves as rich. Always, there is somebody else more wealthy than me or you, and THAT is the slacker who is getting off light. Tax that bastard!

People truly lack perspective. The 1%? Who are they? Well, in the US, you're top 1.5% if you make more than $250,000 in a year. Worldwide? If you earn $50,000 a year, you're top 1% worldwide. I think a lot of people getting upset about the upper 1% in the US find themselves in the top 1% worldwide. And top 20% worldwide? No doubt about it, being that it only takes $1,500/year to get there.

Now comes Roddy White, pro football player with the Atlanta Falcons. He makes $8.33 million per year. Definitely in the 1%. So, is he satisfied? Because he's in the top 0.1% in the USA. Wealth envy, and a lack of perspective know no bounds. From ESPN:
Roger Goodell reportedly will make $20 million per season by the end of his current contract. That figure set off Falcons receiver Roddy White, who posted his displeasure Monday at the commissioner's salary on his Twitter account.

"How in the hell can u pay a man this much money that cant run tackle or catch," White wrote, posting a link to a story which referenced the Sports Business Journal's report on Goodell's compensation.
How? The Commissioner does a few important things, like negotiate the TV deal. This is a large source of White's income.
When one of White's followers pointed out that Goodell is running the biggest sports league in the country, White took offense.

"Thats the stupidest thing i have ever heard the players make this league dont ever forget that," he wrote.
I'll accept some measure of his frustration, in that in sports or other entertainment, the performers are the whole show. If you don't have the best or most entertaining talent to showcase, your product isn't as valuable. But, having a highly paid professional Commissioner isn't the stupidest thing ever. The NFL was once a league where players made $10,000 a year and worked in factories or sold insurance in the off-season. Perhaps White would prefer to go back to that? Get Joe Blow off the street, who would be willing to do the job for $50,000/year, and see what you get.

One of White's followers asked the receiver in a tweet if he expected to be fined for questioning Goodell's salary.

"I hope not im praying not i need my money," he wrote.

Ah. Now you get to the root of it. Roddy White's $8.33 million is important to him. I wonder if it ever occurred... No. I'm sure it never occurred to White that Goodell values his salary, all of it, as much as White values his.

White best be careful. There stands 99.9% of the population looking up at his salary much the way he looks at Goodell's. Many times have I heard, "They get paid ridiculous amounts of money to play a game," or, "School teachers are more valuable than pro athletes". A lot of people are in real trouble if we move away from markets and towards public votes on who gets what.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mark Rutherford For LNC Chair!

I am very excited about Mark Rutherford's announcement that he is seeking the Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. Mark is currently the Vice Chair of the LNC, and was Chair of the Libertarian Party of Indiana for seven years. Link to Rutherford's LNC Chair website.

I lived in Ohio until 2002, and wasn't terribly involved with the Libertarian Party there. They lacked ballot access, so they had very few candidates, and the leadership there was not very focused on getting the ballot access, ensuring that they were more of a supper club than a real political party.

The contrast in Indiana was significant. With Rutherford as Chair, the LPIN ran candidates at every level, across the state in 2002. It employed an Executive Director (Brad Klopfenstein) who carried out a range of tasks, from recruiting and assisting candidates to lobbying at the Statehouse. Indianapolis hosted the LP's national convention, landed here by Rutherford, Klopfenstein, and the leadership of the LPIN's Central Committee. I was very impressed, and when I moved here, I got very involved very quickly, assisting Andy Horning's campaign for US House the week I arrived. Rebecca Sink-Burris ran for Secretary of State in 2002, securing continued ballot access. I did the same in 2006.

So, I am very excited. I have no doubt that Rutherford can do on a national level for the Libertarian Party what he did here on the state level. That means, I would expect direction towards vastly improved professionalism and standards, and more effective branding of the party.

I am looking forward to this year's national convention in Las Vegas, where I will be proud to cast a vote for Mark Rutherford for LNC Chair.