Every little bit helps…

I’ve long maintained that almost everybody is at least a little bit Libertarian. I believe that in their private lives, most people don’t rely on force, or the threat of force, that government depends on when dealing with their neighbors.

And when there is a discussion of political philosophies, a growing number of people seem to be agreeing with Libertarian ideals, especially when discussing them one at a time. Most people hit a stumbling block somewhere along the way, sometimes on one issue, and sometimes on more than one.

It’s pretty common for people to be opposed to government handouts, except for the one that they are getting.

I read in the paper today that some in the government are looking to decrease or eliminate farm subsidies. I don’t really believe that will happen or amount to much under our current leaders, but I do believe a lot more farmers would be a little more Libertarian if it did.

A lot of them are pretty close already.

Paint and feathers…and lemonade…

Every August, on the third Saturday, Hagerstown puts on a big celebration called Jubilee Day. Just about every year, we have something going on that day. Some years we are getting ready for an election, some years we have a class reunion, and some years we’re just watching the parade.

This year we had a couple of projects going on. I had a booth to sell and sign my book, Stinky Shorts, and our Grandchildren shared the space with their Lemonade Stand, raising money for a group that developes water wells in Kenya, where my brother is a missionary. It worked out pretty nice, since I was able to sell and autograph several books, and the grandkids raised $124.98 for the well.

It turns out Saturday was also “Lemonade Freedom Day”, when people across the country opened up lemonade stands without a government permit, in response to a recent rash of government shutdowns of lemonade stands. I’m happy to say we made through the day without incident.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of government permits or licensing. I figure people should be able to decide for themselves who they want to do business with. There was however, a young lady in a booth next to us who was spray painting peoples hair, and then tying some type of chicken feathers to it. She was also complaining that there was another person down the street that was doing the same sort of thing, but without the proper license.

Now, I don’t hardly have enough hair to paint, and you’d probably have to use some tape to get a feather to stick to it. But if I do decide to get what hair I do have painted, I really don’t care if you have a license to paint it.

And I don’t care if the kids I buy lemonade from have a permit, either.

LPIN Podcast Season 2 – 003: LPIN Vice Chair Jerry Titus

Jerry Titus was elected as the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Indiana this previous spring. Jerry discusses what role a Vice Chair serves in a political party, why he gives up so much of his own free time for political organizing, and what motives him most.

Download Here.

So how are things going for you?….

I know things don’t always work out exactly as planned. Some days more so than others. One evening last week, after a particularly trying day, a neighbor asked me how things were going. I told him not very well.

The next morning I ran into an old friend and asked him the same thing. I remembered that his first wife had left him for another woman, and that his current wife was a real moron. I had heard that his daughter was on her 4th live-in, and that he seldom got to see his grand kids. I read in the paper a while back that his son had been arrested for drug possession again.

He told me that he still hadn’t been able to find a job, and that he was starting chemo next week.

The next time somebody asks me how things are going, I think I’ll tell them things are going pretty well.

You can’t get there from here…

Back when we were attending Millville Grade School, my old buddy Stinky Wilmont used to look forward to visiting his grandmother in Kentucky every summer. I don’t recall which part of the state she lived in, but I do recall that we didn’t have as many roads back then as we have nowadays, and I remember Stinky telling me that he would enjoy the drive to her house a lot more if the trip could have been started in Jeffersonville.

I never made very many trips to Kentucky, but I did make a trip every summer to Camp Mack up in northern Indiana, and I shared Stinky’s sentiments that the trip would have been a lot easier if we had started a little closer to our final destination to begin with.

But Stinky didn’t live in Jeffersonville, and I didn’t live in Milford, and it didn’t take too long to figure out that wherever we were going, we about had to start from where we were.

Several years ago, our federal government started expanding, and it started spending a lot of money on a lot of programs it hadn’t spent money on before. As is normal for governments, they tended to spend more money than they had. A lot more. And whenever they spent more than they had, they created the federal debt. Some of the people that were running the government back then thought that we ought to put a limit on how much debt the federal government could have. Some of the people running the government today think the same thing. Most of them don’t.

By the time you read this, congress will have most likely raised the debt limit for the 75th time since they started having debt limits. I’m not sure a limit still qualifies as a limit after it has been raised 75 times, but that’s what they call it, and I guess if you’re running things, you can call it whatever you want to.

In the last few years, a lot of people have decided that we would probably be better off if the government would stop spending more money than it has. Some of those people are even helping run the government. We even sent some of them to congress. Most of them probably just voted to increase the debt limit.

I’m not sure why. Admittedly, the government has gotten used to spending more money than it has, and admittedly it is going to be an arduous task to rein in that spending. But we have to start somewhere, and it would be hard to argue that it would be a lot easier if we were starting with a debt that was only a few billion dollars, instead of 14 or 15 trillion dollars. But it seems they should realize that adding a couple trillion more isn’t going to make it any easier, either.

We don’t always get to choose where we start, and we don’t always get to start at the beginning. Sometimes we don’t get to start in Jeffersonville or Milford. Sometimes we just have to start where we are.

Even if it’s Millville. Or $14 trillion in debt.

LPIN Podcast Season 2 – 002: Phyllis Klosinski’s Fight for Property Rights

Phyllis Klosinski and her husband Mike have been fighting for property rights through the court system for many years. Her recent ruling in the Court of Appeals, Klosinski vs. the Cordry Sweetwater Conservancy District, has ramifications for every property owner in the state of Indiana. Her about her fight against an out of control government on this episode of the Libertarian Party of Indiana Podcast.

Listen here:

LPIN Podcast 202

Raw Audio: Michael Munger on America’s Debt Crisis

Michael Munger lays out America’s debt problems, and gives three solutions on how to solve them. Munger is an economist, chair of the political science department at Duke University, and was the Libertarian candidate for Governor of North Carolina in 2008.

Munger also appeared in the popular YouTube videos “”Fear the Boom and Bust” a Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem.” – http://youtu.be/d0nERTFo-Sk and the sequel! http://youtu.be/GTQnarzmTOc

Raw Audio: Andrew Horning Delivers a July 4th Message to Lawmakers

Andrew Horning delivers a July 4th, 2011 message to Indiana lawmakers and the Governor on the steps of the Indiana state capitol.

LPIN Podcast Season 2 – 001: Atlas Liberty’s Executive Director, Evan McMahon

Libertarians around the nation will have noticed lately that the Federal PAC Atlas Liberty has been more active than in previous years. After the 2010 elections, they hired a new Executive Director, Evan McMahon. Evan discusses the mission of Atlas Liberty PAC, the needs of the libertarian movement, and the differences between the cultures in the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party.

Listen Here:

Executive Director of Atlas Liberty, Evan McMahon

Cross Posted at LPIN.org.

How libertarianism Helps the Poor

For most libertarians, their first stumbling block to the philosophy was how those in need will receive assistance. Even those that count themselves as party founders still probably get a little hot flash of anger when someone calls them “heartless” or “selfish.”

Libertarians are usually driven to the philosophy of non-intervention because they’ve witnessed first-hand how a government program, policy, or regulation is negatively affecting their community and they want to make a change.

Matt Zwolinski has written a great article at the Daily Caller entitled, “How libertarianism Helps the Poor.”

When I tell people that I work for the Libertarian Party, I often hear:

“Everybody knows that libertarians are greedy capitalists who favor the maximization of profit above all else. “Taxation is theft!” they cry, but the exploitation of the working classes fails to elicit any similar moral outrage. Libertarians, everybody knows, care about the rich to the utter neglect of the poor and vulnerable.”

Zwolinski’s article gives 3 fantastic rebuttals to this notion.

1. “The first mistake is to believe the government when it claims that its policies are intended to help the poor. They almost never are.”

2. “The second mistake is to confuse intentions with results. Even if government policies were intended to benefit the poor, we would have good reason to expect them to fail”

3. “The last mistake is to think that a concern with regulation and taxation is the sole defining feature of libertarianism. Libertarianism is about individual liberty, and while economic liberty is a part of that, it is not the whole. “

 

Cross Posted at LPIN.Org

Humble beginings…

Les Brown says that “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”. While I learned a long time ago to never say never, I do appreciate Mr. Brown’s sentiments.

My bucket list (things I hope to get done before I kick the bucket), by its very nature, consists of things I’ve never done before. At my age, I try not to add to much to the list at one time. A while back, I added “publish a book” to my list, and recently I was able to cross that item off of the list.

But on my bucket list, much as in life, one thing often leads to another. A couple of weeks ago, Tom Butters, who runs the Hagerstown Museum and The Arts Place, asked me if I would like to do a book signing one evening.

I was a little on the apprehensive side, remembering that one of my publishing mentors, Chuck Avery, had once said that one of the most humbling experiences a person could experience was to have a book signing in their hometown.

To my advantage, I’ve run for office as a Libertarian a few times, so I’m not totally unaccustomed to being humbled.

I’m happy to say that I was humbled, not because people didn’t show up, but because so many of them did. Occasionally some of them even had to wait in line. We sold a lot of books, and signed even more. It’s looking like a second printing might be on the horizon. I hope I’m not to old to set that as a goal, anyway.

If you’re into first editions, Stinky Shorts is available at www.StinkyShorts.com and the locations listed on the site.

You’ve got mail…not…

A while back I wrote This Story about a government office shutting down for lunch. For the most part, I trust that most government offices could shut down altogether without any permanent ill effects, but as long as they require us to do business with them, I don’t think it is asking to much for them to keep common hours.

Today I stopped in at our local post office during lunch. Apparently shutting down the government at noon is catching on. The post office is closed from 12:30 until 1:30. So with a heavy heart and an unmailed package I continued my lunchtime errands.

I went down to the local hardware store where the employees were also having lunch. They asked me if I Needed Any Help, which I didn’t, until I took my merchandise back to the counter, at which time Carla came up and rang me out, asked about the grandkids, and then went back to her lunch.

Since there is only one hardware store in Hagerstown, I guess Gary could close for lunch if he wanted to, but I think he knows that’s not the way to run a business.

I guess the post office doesn’t know that.

I was gonna tell them, but they weren’t open.

Us and them…

Since there wasn’t a lot of money for uniforms back at Millville Grade School, the preferred method for identifying team members during the basketball games at recess was the time honored “shirts and skins” designation. It was a pretty simple and recognizable system for determining who was on who’s team, unless my old buddy Stinky Wilmont ended up on the “skins”. Stinky was a good bit older than most on the outdoor basketball court, and by the time he was making his 3rd attempt at the 4th grade, the combination of his age and genetically acquired body hair made it difficult to quickly tell which team Stinky was on, especially on some of those overcast days.

But we always managed to make through the games, and after the “skins” put their shirts back on, it didn’t take long to forget which team you had been on anyway. I don’t know if people still use “shirts and skins” when they choose sides.

I do know there seems to be a lot more “us and them” than there used to be, and whether someone is an “us” or a “them”, emotions and rhetoric can run pretty high on both sides. We saw an example of this recently when the state of Indiana decided to stop giving tax money to the Planned Parenthood organization because it provides abortions.

A lot of the people who support the government decision claim Planned Parenthood is an evil organization because at least one of the services it provides is abortions. Some of the people who support Planned Parenthood claim the government decision is an attack on women. I don’t suppose either group of people is exactly right in its assessment of the situation, but it is such a divisive issue that I doubt the government will ever be able to reach a solution that makes both sides happy.

It makes me wonder if maybe we couldn’t get along a little better if the government just stepped out of the funding issue altogether. That way the people who like Planned Parenthood could send it a couple of dollars a month, or a few dollars a year, or as much as they choose to send as often as they might like. And the people who don’t like Planned Parenthood could send their money to some similar organization that doesn’t offer abortions.

I have no doubt that as long as there is an “us” and a “them”, we will be arguing about whether or not abortion should be legal, when it should or shouldn’t be legal, and why it should or shouldn’t be legal. I also have no doubt that no matter how long we argue about it, there will never be a satisfactory government solution to the problem.

But while we’re doing all of that arguing, if we just wouldn’t force other people to pay for something they really shouldn’t have to pay for, maybe we wouldn’t get under each others’ skin so bad.

For those who couldn’t make it today…

Today was Step #1.  I think it’d be great to do pretty much the same thing again on Constitution Day, Saturday, September 17.  We had a good band of patriots in attendance today, but hopefully, Constitution Day will be much, much better.

Here’s pretty much what I’d said today:

Eleven score and fifteen years ago, our founding fathers waged war against their own government.

Yet it seems that to many Americans today, Independence Day is about flags, fireworks, and a day off work.

Let us humbly recognize that because of our founders’ sacrifices, We The People have what We The People have chosen. Our votes and our daily actions leave us nobody else to blame for any of the injustice, corruption and violence around us.

Indeed if the so-called “Arab Spring” of uprisings in the middle east teaches us anything, it’s that ALL government, even the most oppressive, is by consent of the governed.

Here in the USA, we can simply choose how we’d like to live; and we can do it in safe, air-conditioned, button-pushing comfort.

After generations of choices, it’s obvious that the life we have chosen is not at all what our founders sacrificed, fought and died to bequeath us.

Out of the 27 specific complaints listed in the Declaration of Independence, there is only one, rather minor mention of taxation. Obviously there were no complaints about healthcare or Social Security. The colonists weren’t mad about working conditions or Daylight Saving Time. They weren’t asking for anything special or even new.

Our nation’s founders’ first and underlying complaint was that they’d been denied what was due all English people: They were denied English Law.

The very first-listed complaint against the king was that “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

That’s important; let me repeat that. “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

Now, to those who don’t know anything about Libertarians, it may seem odd that I would stress that our libertarian founders wanted laws.

But what we have instead of laws today is an endless stream of contradictory words, spit out like machine gun bullets by bureaucrats, judges, lawmakers and executives that produce the effect of power without authority; politics without any restraint …ungoverned government. Rules change daily, corruption is everywhere, and the violence is incessant.

This lawless, politicized anarchy is just not working.

It’s a basic human need that we must know the rules by which we must live. It’s the most basic justice that these rules should be applied in a way that’s fair, or at least predictable.

So here’s what we’re asking for:

We want rules that are few enough that everybody can know them; simple enough that everyone can understand them, and important enough that every one of them is to be obeyed by everybody without exception, all the time. We want these rules to stay put for long enough to plan a business or a retirement; or better yet, to raise a child to see that law and order is a thing to be desired, and chosen.

OK, so we’ve all had reasons to oppose such simple order and justice. Maybe our fear of foreigners, our political tribal loyalties and hatreds, the past sins of slavery or our greed and ignorance made us use the constitutions as tug-of-war ropes. We’d grab onto our favorite rights to yank away somebody else’s.

But those of us here today have learned our lesson. We will sacrifice our pet violations, or even the degree of freedom we think the constitutions deny us, in order to gain some measure of liberty and justice, for all.

We want to know the rules. And we’re all fine with what is already the proven, signed and once-revered Law of the Land.

Bottom line: We want our constitutions, state and federal, as written, back.

Helpful Books when Running for Office

• Running for Office: The Strategies, Techniques and Messages Modern Political Candidates Need to Win Election by Ronald A. Faucheux
• All Politics Is Local: And Other Rules of the Game by Tip O’Neill
• Winning Elections: Political Campaign Management, Strategy, and Tactics by Ronald A. Faucheux
• The Campaign Manager: Running and Winning Local Elections by Catherine Shaw
• How to Win a Local Election How to Win a Local Election by Lawrence Grey
• Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders by Christine Pelosi

…They must be kidding me

I wasn’t going to blog about such things. I really do mean to focus on my primary objective and avoid wasting time on anything else.

However, just moments ago I just opened the Final Order/assessment of a $503.68 “civil” penalty to the Horning for Governor campaign for what was, perhaps, the all-time most trivial offense against Indiana Election Commission paperwork.

We failed to properly close-out our meagerly funded campaign and report the money we didn’t make by their deadline.  That’s it.

But  the whopping fine, amounting to a huge percentage of what my campaign raised, is not what I’m writing about.

And no, it’s not that I’m miffed that Obama or Charlie White got away with much more serious violations of campaign and civil law, while a poor schlemazel like me has to cough up the dough.

(though, in case you’re wondering, I am miffed about all that).

No, I’m really writing about the two (2) quarter-sheet notices slipped into the envelope.

The two sheets were identical, and said,

ATTENTION

The styrofoam cube enclosed in this envelope is being included by the sender to meet a United States Postal Service regulation. This regulation requires the letter or package to be ¾ of an inch thick at its thickest point. The cube has no other purpose and may be disposed of upon opening this correspondence.

For any further questions or comments about the styrofoam cube only, please call 1-888-624-5990.

Now, there is so much wrong with this, that I hardly know where to start. Forget that StyrofoamTM is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company and should …by law,  be so noted. Forget that the enclosed bit was not a cube at all (it was supposed to be a parallelepiped, but it was smashed into a rhombus). I don’t care so much about clumsy or incorrect grammar and such (“is being included,” or “disposed of upon opening”). And I’m assuming I was given two notices by mistake (may I never find out that this is another regulation!)

No, this is just one of those freakishly weird regulations that none of us could possibly know about unless we’re in the business of sending dangerously, criminally thin packages. I see this as analogous to having to duck under a sign that says “WARNING, Low Sign / ¡ADVERTENCIA, Señal de baja! placed in accordance with the Officious, Unnecessary and Badly-Worded Signage Act of 2010” 

I’m quite tempted to call that 888 number and…  No, strike that.  I don’t even want to know how many people staff that line at taxpayer expense.  I think I’ll just slip the “cube” and the little sheets into the documents I’m mailing to the Governor (http://wedeclare.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/713/).  Maybe he’ll be amused.  Maybe the package will look suspicious and get “special attention.”

Sigh…

We must oppose this unregulated regulation/lawless lawmaking madness with all our wits and might; and we must not waste any more time in this important endeavor.

Please join me.

Buckle up, buckle under, or buckle down…

There are a lot of things in our lives that I think are really good ideas. I try to keep my weight at a reasonable limit. I don’t drink to much caffeine, and I don’t drink any alcohol. I go to church just about every Sunday, and I kiss my wife every morning when I leave for work. Sometimes I even kiss her when I stay home.

Like I say, I think these are some pretty good ideas. I don’t think they would make very good laws. I feel the same way about adults wearing seat belts. Good idea, bad law.

Back on July 1st, 2007, one of those really bad laws that required pick-up truck drivers to wear a seat belt took effect. The new law did allow a few exemptions, however. One of those exemptions was for “..a newspaper motor route carrier or newspaper bundle hauler who stops to make deliveries from a vehicle.” Since I delivered Libertarian Party newspapers from time to time, I was glad to learn that at at least sometimes I wouldn’t be committing a violation if I was driving without my seat belt fastened.

Last February, while I was heading out to deliver a few copies of the January edition of the LP News, a young Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped me for not wearing my seat belt. When I explained the law to him, he told me he thought the law only applied to postal workers in government vehicles. He was wrong.

After four months and three trips to Richmond, I had my day in court. The prosecuting attorney said the motor route didn’t start until I made my first delivery. I read the above exemption several times, but I couldn’t find that clause in it anywhere. Unfortunately, the judge agreed with prosecutor, and just as unfortunately, they were both as wrong as the young officer. The judge told me to give the clerk $25.00.

Thomas Jefferson said that “It is the natural tendency for government to grow and liberty to yield.” I suppose he was right. It’s also the natural tendency for government to interpret laws to give the government more power, and to allow the citizens less freedom. Kind of makes you want to buckle down and fight a little harder.

I guess I’ll be considered in violation a little more often than I used to consider myself in violation, but life goes on. And I’ve known for a long time that freedom isn’t free.

Sometimes it costs $25.00

We need to know the rules

I think we should meet at 11:30-11:45am on the east steps of the Statehouse in Indianapolis to get ourselves composed and our story unified.  I don’t know how many want to speak, but let’s do our best to make it only a few, and make it brief.  It’s never good to give too much rope to the media when they get to determine who, or what, gets hanged.

Who: Citizens who want to know the rules

What: Asking the Governor to do his job, as written

When: July 4, 12:00 noon

Where: East steps of the Statehouse, Indianapolis, IN

We need to know the rules

Freedom, IN – The time is long past when we could fuss about “big government” versus “small government;” or about raising or lowering taxes. Even war versus peace, or freedom versus oppression are irrelevant abstractions right now.

We need to know the rules. We need to see them in print so we can judge infractions, or whether they’re even rules, as opposed to excuses. We need to know that our rules will be rules long enough to start a business, plan a retirement, or raise a family. We’ve lived for too long without this simple, foundational understanding on how we humans are to get along.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse? Nobody knows the laws that we’re supposed to live by! Nobody could. It’s debatable, in fact, whether we have any laws at all out of the billions of contradictory word-strings woven into the incomprehensible and corrupt tangle that our judges, lawyers, bureaucrats and other politicians call “laws.”

None of their words apply equally to all. None are enforced as written. All of us know that our tribal, crony lawlessness is corrupt, immoral and destructive to our society’s peace, prosperity and life. It is madness. And history shows that our lot will grow much worse if we don’t come to our senses very soon.

It is the heart of sanity to establish simple rules by which we can live. The most basic justice demands that these rules apply equally to all. It’s only reasonable that these laws must be knowable by all.

So this is what we’re asking for: rules that are few enough that everybody can know them; simple enough that everybody can understand them; and important enough that all of these rules must be obeyed equally by everybody all the time.  And we’re fine with the rules (the real rules) that are already written, already proven to work, and already the Law of the Land.

###

Something sold, something new…

When you get close to 60 years old, the chances of doing something you haven’t done before get a little slimmer. And even if you find something you haven’t done before, there’s a good chance you won’t have the energy to do it anyway.

Ive been writing for a long time. The first thing I ever had published was a poem in the Hagerstown Exponent in 1962. I was in the 5th grade at the time. I’ve had a lot of letters and articles printed since then.

The internet made it a lot easier to get what you write in front of a lot more people. People can write a blog, or participate in an online forum, or just make a comment about at article if you are so inclined. I do all of those from time to time. Sometimes people agree with what I write, and sometimes they don’t. One time a reporter from Florida contacted me to let me know that a candidate down there was reposting my blog under his own name. I think the reporter thought I should be upset. Actually, at the time I was kind of flattered.

But getting back to doing things that you haven’t done before, last Friday I picked up a bunch of copies of “Stinky Shorts”. It’s a book of short stories about my old buddy Stinky Wilmont and me that I’ve been putting together over the last few months.

Friday night I sold one of the books. It was the first time I’ve ever sold anything that I had written. It felt pretty good for the first time.

By the way, If you’re interested, Stinky Shorts is currently available in Richmond at Augustin Printing, in Hagerstown at The Corner Oak and Nettle Creek Hardware, In Cambridge City at Building 125, and in New Castle at Bill’s Diner.

Hopefully by later this week it will be available at www.StinkyShorts.com

Right now I’m going to look for something else that I’ve never done before.

That’s kinda what I expected…

This week we learned that, like so many other government give-away programs, Medicare is expected to go broke even sooner than expected. Actually, I suppose it’s only sooner than some people expected. Some of us figure it’s already broke.

I also received a notice from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development today. It seems that starting on July 1st, three classifications of individuals that used to eligible for unemployment benefits won’t be eligible for them anymore. Then on October 1st, another couple of groups become ineligible.

For quite a while now, the state has been paying out more in unemployment benefits than employers have been paying in. That’s another good way to go broke sooner than expected.

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money.

And sometimes eventually ends up getting here sooner than anybody expected.