Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Republicans Should Raise Taxes on the Wealthy

First, the reason is NOT because raising taxes is a good idea.  It's not.

The first goal needs to be reducing the national debt.  Few disagree that our debt load is unsustainable.  Few disagree that if we continue down the current path, financial ruin is inevitable.

And no amount of taxes can can fix that problem.  If you were to be able to tax 100% of the income of every single person in America that makes more than $100,000, you would still not have raised enough revenue to cover the annual national debt.

So, then, why exactly should the Republicans consider raising taxes?  Because they, and the rest of our nation, are being held hostage by the Democrats.  The Democrats are the lone party that is currently in a position to accept solutions outside of tax increases, and they won't.

But I thought the Democrats said that the Republicans are the ones holding us hostage?

They did.  Frankly, it's a lie.

The Democrats have the strength in Congress to make demands.  The Republicans have basically been given two options by the Dems:

  1. Raise taxes on those making $250,000+;
  2. Raise taxes on everybody.
The Democrats, though, have more options available to them:

  1. Raise taxes on those making $250,000+;
  2. Raise taxes on everybody;
  3. Raise taxes on some other group of people than the two listed above;
  4. Don't raise taxes at all.
The GOP has only been given two options, both of which raise taxes.  The Democrats, though, basically have an infinite number of options at their disposal, with or without the Republicans.  Who does it sound like is REALLY holding the other party hostage?

So, why should the GOP raise taxes?

Because they don't have any option in front of them that doesn't do that.  They can either raise taxes on those making more than $250K, or they can allow taxes to go up on everyone.  That's it.  Those are their only choices.  In this particular case, the Republicans have to choose to raise the taxes on the wealthy to prevent the taxes from being raised on everyone else.  It's not a pretty choice, but it is the only choice that they have.

Instead of keeping up the non-winnable fight, though, the GOP can choose to agree to the raises now, and spend the next month playing their newly gained leverage to achieve other compromises.

President Obama and the Democrats have thus far only drawn one line in the sand: taxes must go up for those making more than $250,000.  Outside of that, they say they are willing to make compromises.  Republicans need to jump all over that.  Since they have no choice but to agree to the tax increases, then they should draw their own line in the sand.

"We'll agree to your tax increases for the wealthy, if you agree that we'll balance the budget."

If the Republicans make that compromise, then they can turn the tables.  First, they turn the tables on the Democrats that have successfully convinced Americans that the GOP are the bad guys here.  Second, if you can force that compromise, you might actually take the first steps to seeing a brighter financial future for our children, grand-children, and further generations down the road.

P.S. - Tip to the GOP: When you ask for a compromise that balances the budget, invoke the name of Bill Clinton and the fact that he, for all intents and purposes, did just that.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Unions and the Hostess Situation

Unions are interesting creatures. And for decades now, they have been one of the more controversial parts of the American work force.

Union supporters claim that unions are great for workers, and exist only for that benefit. The other side believes unions but unfair restrictions and financial burdens on employers.

The truth, as with most things, probably lies somewhere in between.

Sometimes the relationship between a union and an employer reaches critical mass.  The unions demand more, the employer demands more, and a stalemate ensues. Often, those stalemates lead to strikes by the union or lockouts by the employer. In the end, both sides normally end up compromising something that they could have before the work stoppage, and work resumes with both sides feeling a little bit better for having puffed out their chest to make a point.

By now you've heard about Hostess.  Hostess is an example of what happens when a union and an employer reaches critical mass.  And in this particular situation, it is an example of what happens when unions refuse to back down against an employer that is already up against a wall.

Businesses Will Fight to Survive

Businesses don't like to fail.  It's bad for communities.  It's bad for employees. It's bad

Once in a while, a small neighborhood business will close its doors when Mom & Pop get to old to keep at it, and no one else wants to take over.  Other than that, though...there's only one reason a business fails: it just can't afford to keep the operation running anymore.

That's other.  A business will fight and fight to survive...but if it can't make money, it will inevitably fold.  No profitable business ever closes.  Ever.

Unions Will Fight to Survive

It's no different for a union, really.  They can only do what they do if they continue to receive dues.  If there is not a benefit to belonging to a union, the members will eventually turn against the union and drive them out of the shop.

To due this, the unions will fight relentlessly for its employees.  Originally formed to see that workers were treated fairly, unions now work to get workers far more than their skills and abilities would be worth in any other place.

The unions will sometimes go so intensely after a fight, that they put the employees in a worse situation.  Sometimes, a union will draw such an unreasonable line in the sand that the employer can't ever meet the demands.

When an Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object

So, what have we learned?  That sometimes an unstoppable force (The union demanding certain wages and benefits for its members) does run into an immovable object (a company so teetering on the edge of survival that it simply cannot concede any further.)  And when that impact occurs, there is only one possible annihilation.

And that's exactly what happened when the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union failed to step back from its demands against Hostess.  The unstoppable force refused to take a different path and instead proceeded full steam ahead into the immovable object.  BAM!  Annihilation. 

I'm not sure what the Bakers' Union was thinking, either.  Hostess had made it clear to the unions (Teamsters also represented a large portion of workers in the company) that they absolutely could not afford the demands made to them.  The Teamsters listened.  The Teamsters even went to the Bakers' Union and told them they did not believe Hostess would be able to survive if they conceded to the union demands.

Ultimately, Survival is the Union's Call

The Bakers' Union refused to yield.  The immovable Hostess object, and their employees, were completely at the mercy of the union.  The immovable object could not move, it could only wait.  Hostess knew there were only three possible outcomes:

  1. The union backed down, and Hostess survived, for now; or, 
  2. the union kept at it until Hostesses relented, at which time Hostess would close; or 
  3. Hostess just put themselves out of their misery and closed on their own.

Note that no matter what happens to Hostess and their employees  at this stage the burden of the results are completely on the shoulders of the union.  If the Union backs down, there's a shot at survival.   If the Union refuses to step down, the Hostess fails and it's employees join the ranks of the unemployed. Hostess no longer has a say.

So what decision did the Bakers' Union make?  Well, of course you know the answer to that already.  The Union, despite being clearly warned of the consequences, made the decision that they would rather be unemployed than employed.

The Decision Affected Thousands Outside of the Union

Unions in states like Indiana complain about right-to-work laws.  They claim that by allowing non-union workers into a union shop, that non-members will be taking advantage of the union's work without having to pay dues.

Well, obviously that concern is not reciprocal.  Hostess employed approximately 18,500 people.  Of those people, only 6,700 belonged to the Bakers' Union.  Yet the decision of 6.700 people to not back down ended up costing almost 12,000 other people their jobs, too.

One Final Thought

I don't hate unions.  I do, though, find it hard to accept that any organization that supposedly exists solely for the purpose of helping its members will allow the members to become unemployed before allowing them to concede.

I don't blame you for fighting, just have to know when to say when.  This time you forced a large company out of business.  This time, those 18,500 unemployed people are on you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rupert Back to Work

Rupert Boneham has wasted no time getting back to work at his Rupert's Kids mentoring program. Tonight, Rupert is hosting his Tuxes and Tennies event and auction to raise money for the charity.

The event will be held at 6:00 at the Robert Irsay Pavilion, 1303 W. 116th St. in Carmel. Tickets are just $25 and can be purchased at the door.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Indiana Education Reform: Who Got a Mandate?

The 2012 election is now a few days behind us.  What's left now is just trying to decipher what it all means.  Sometimes, it's easier to tell what voters want.  Other times, though, the voters send confusing messages with their decisions at the polls.

When it comes to education reform in Indiana, voters sent the more confusing message.

First, they elected a new Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Many in the political circles around the state were surprised by the outcome of this one.  Incumbent Tony Bennett spent well over a million dollars on the race, and was supposed to win without much trouble.  Glenda Ritz seemed to be unheard of by most as they headed into election day.

She won, though, with big numbers.  Quite an upset.  And when that happens, you have to accept that it is a clear message and mandate to other politicians: we support what she stands for...make it happen.

But then something else happened.  The Republican majority in the General Assembly, the very ones that put the recent education reform and voucher program in place, grew.  And they grew a lot.  The voters of Indiana gave the GOP a super-majority in both houses of the General Assembly, and they gave them a Republican governor, too.

Basically, Indiana voters told the GOP, "Here's our State.  We trust you.  Do with it what you wish."  And when that happens, you have to accept that it is a clear message and mandate to other politicians.

The problem we're faced with, though, is the voters mandates are in conflict with each other.  The goals of the new Democrat Superintendent of Public Instruction and the goals of the super-majority General Assembly are not going to be the same.

Of course, both sides are claiming their mandate is the superior one.  Governor Mitch Daniels and Governor-Elect Mike Pence announced that the election of Ritz does not mean that there will be any rollback of the voucher programs.

Democrats are crying foul, saying Ritz's huge numbers mean that, in fact, it is their mandate which should take the lead.  Jon Easter of Indy Democrat Blog titled a post on the issue, "Indiana GOP Leaders Losing Ever-loving Mind??"

So what should our politicians do?  That thing which all politicians should do: compromise.  The GOP should allow Glenda Ritz to do her job in the way she best sees fit, in accordance with the laws in place when she took office.  Ritz should accept that, and do the best job that she can with what she has to work with.

What shouldn't our politicians do?  Try to out-do the other side and create a war.  The GOP should wait until after the 2014 elections (and the mandates they may bring) before they attempt to expand any of the reforms they have put in place.  Glenda Ritz shouldn't put a fight up against the General Assembly asking for the reforms of the last few years to be rolled back.

For all intents and purposes, both sides should agree to not make any major changes for now.

Don't believe that is what is going to occur, though.  Political parties love to ram through legislation when they have no opposition to fear.  Expect the GOP to spend the next two years doing whatever they want to whoever they want.

That's what the voters said to do, I guess.  But if they use that authority to actually lower the powers of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and step all over another mandate the voters gave at the same time, don't expect the Democrats to be quiet about it.  Tread lightly, Republicans, or you'll see your new found powers evaporate just as quickly as you obtained them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can Mourdock Survive?

The simple answer is no.

By now you've heard the quote, probably many, many times, from Richard Mourdock last night about pregnancies from rape. A gaffe? Perhaps. A career killer? Maybe. A campaign ender? Almost definitely.

This comment might have not had an incredible impact on the outcome of the election if it had happened a couple months ago. Even horrible statements have a tendency to be mostly forgotten by the voting masses if there's enough time for them to fade.

For Mourdock's statement, though, that's simply not the case. There's now just 13 days before the election. There's no way the voters are going to be forgetting about this one. Even IF they could, there's even less of a chance that Donnelly and the Democrats would let them.

Not that I think the voters should forget it.  Just that with more time between the statement and election, they inevitably would.

For all intents and purposes, Richard Mourdock, 14 days before an election, ended his last debate by saying, "Please vote for Joe Donnelly or Andrew Horning."  And I think the voters are going to listen.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gary Johnson to Return to the Hoosier State

Libertarian Party of Indiana Executive Director Chris Spangle confirmed on Facebook this afternoon that Gary Johnson will be returning to Indiana.  Spangle stated that Johnson will be at the Moral Fire Station in Shelbyville Wednesday at 6:00 pm. Spangle also indicated that Johnson will be in Indiana both Wednesday and Thursday, and other stops are being planned.

Johnson made a stop in Indianapolis earlier this month. He had a speaking engagement at IUPUI, followed by a fundraiser at the Rupert for Governor headquarters.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Gary Johnson Ad

I know I risk turning this blog into the Gary Johnson Fan Page, but he's putting out good quality ads.

Here's the latest.

Please share with friends and family.  Please ask for him to be included in the debates.

Fill to Donate

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gary Johnson: A New Ad

Gary Johnson has a new ad out.

I covered his first six ads in a series of posts on these pages a week ago.  I guess we'll consider this a follow-up.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Let's Talk Gary Johnson (pt. 6 of 6)

Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are in the past, I want to spend a few days talking about the Libertarian Party's Presidential Candidate, Governor Gary Johnson.

He has a series of very well-produced commercials.  They are very upbeat and positive.  Unlike most political ads today, they spend their time to explain why Johnson is the best choice, instead of saying why the other guys suck.

Since you are unlikely to see these ads on TV too often, I am going to share them with you here.  Each day this week I will be posting one of Gary Johnson's ads.  I hope that, if you enjoy them and believe Gary Johnson should at least be considered by the voters, you will share these videos with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and in person.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Let's Talk Gary Johnson (pt. 5 of 6)

Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are in the past, I want to spend a few days talking about the Libertarian Party's Presidential Candidate, Governor Gary Johnson.

He has a series of very well-produced commercials.  They are very upbeat and positive.  Unlike most political ads today, they spend their time to explain why Johnson is the best choice, instead of saying why the other guys suck.

Since you are unlikely to see these ads on TV too often, I am going to share them with you here.  Each day this week I will be posting one of Gary Johnson's ads.  I hope that, if you enjoy them and believe Gary Johnson should at least be considered by the voters, you will share these videos with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and in person.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Let's Talk Gary Johnson (pt. 4 of 6)

Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are in the past, I want to spend a few days talking about the Libertarian Party's Presidential Candidate, Governor Gary Johnson.

He has a series of very well-produced commercials.  They are very upbeat and positive.  Unlike most political ads today, they spend their time to explain why Johnson is the best choice, instead of saying why the other guys suck.

Since you are unlikely to see these ads on TV too often, I am going to share them with you here.  Each day this week I will be posting one of Gary Johnson's ads.  I hope that, if you enjoy them and believe Gary Johnson should at least be considered by the voters, you will share these videos with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and in person.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Let's Talk Gary Johnson (pt. 3 of 6)

Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are in the past, I want to spend a few days talking about the Libertarian Party's Presidential Candidate, Governor Gary Johnson.

He has a series of very well-produced commercials.  They are very upbeat and positive.  Unlike most political ads today, they spend their time to explain why Johnson is the best choice, instead of saying why the other guys suck.

Since you are unlikely to see these ads on TV too often, I am going to share them with you here.  Each day this week I will be posting one of Gary Johnson's ads.  I hope that, if you enjoy them and believe Gary Johnson should at least be considered by the voters, you will share these videos with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and in person.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Let's Talk Gary Johnson (pt. 2 of 6)

Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are in the past, I want to spend a few days talking about the Libertarian Party's Presidential Candidate, Governor Gary Johnson.

He has a series of very well-produced commercials.  They are very upbeat and positive.  Unlike most political ads today, they spend their time to explain why Johnson is the best choice, instead of saying why the other guys suck.

Since you are unlikely to see these ads on TV too often, I am going to share them with you here.  Each day this week I will be posting one of Gary Johnson's ads.  I hope that, if you enjoy them and believe Gary Johnson should at least be considered by the voters, you will share these videos with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and in person.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Let's Talk Gary Johnson (pt. 1 of 6)

Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are in the past, I want to spend a few days talking about the Libertarian Party's Presidential Candidate, Governor Gary Johnson.

He has a series of very well-produced commercials.  They are very upbeat and positive.  Unlike most political ads today, they spend their time to explain why Johnson is the best choice, instead of saying why the other guys suck.

Since you are unlikely to see these ads on TV too often, I am going to share them with you here.  Each day this week I will be posting one of Gary Johnson's ads.  If you enjoy these videos and/or you believe that Gary Johnson should at least be considered by the voters, I hope you will share them with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and in person.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The GOP Labored Hard to Keep Ron Paul Quiet

It's Labor Day.  A day that most use as an extra day of rest as a reward for their hard work the rest of the year.

Today, I am going to show you some hard work done by the Republican Party at their convention last week.  Sure, it's been over for a few days.  Still, I am bothered by what I saw.

The Republicans fought their hardest to keep Ron Paul and his supporters quiet.  Here's some great news coverage from Fox 19 News in Cincinnati. Ben Swann's "Reality Check" segment covers how the GOP not only changed the rules at the last minute, but also went so far as to script doing so.  They also kept a person heading up those voting against the rules change trapped on a bus circling the stadium while the vote was approaching.  The video runs about 5 and a half minutes.  The entire thing is worth a peek, but it starts to get really good around 1:14.

Even many Republicans are disgusted by how this unfolded.  Here's former RNC Chairman Michael Steele in an interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.  He makes it clear that he believes the actions of his own party are disgusting.

If you, too, find these actions disgusting, please share these videos.  Help inform those that might not realize what is happening behind the scenes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Do I Owe the GOP Voters a Round of Applause? Nah.

I feel like I should give the GOP some credit here. Kinda. Sorta. Maybe.

The GOP is the party that questioned Obama's religion in 2008. And 2009, and 10, and 11, and today. For some reason, the possibility that Obama might even maybe be Muslim, despite all evidence otherwise, seemed to be a topic of much concern to the members of the Grand Ole Party.

Sure, they been concerned about Obama's birth certificate, too. More so, even. But the amount of concern over his religion has not been slight.

Now, though, the Republicans have selected a 100% non-protestant presidential ticket. Mitt Romney is Mormon.  Paul Ryan is Catholic. A surprise from this party in many ways.

My initial reaction is to wish to applaud the GOP. After spending the last few years concerned about the potential non-Christian beliefs of Obama, they seem to have finally set those religious concerns aside. They have, themselves, chosen a presidential candidate that isn't Christian. And his Veep choice, although Christian, isn't Protestant.

It feels like a huge leap.

But I'm skeptical. I'm sorry, but I just have my doubts about how "accepting" the traditionally Christian Right Republicans have become with other religions.  My concern is this: just how accepting would the Republicans be if the Mormon candidate wasn't one of their own? I'm afraid the answer is, "not very."

I'd bet a paycheck that if the GOP ticket was Protestant-Protestant that the GOP voters wouldn't be near as cool with a pair of candidates that weren't the same. I have little doubt that there would be a thousand memes floating around on Facebook that make fun of Mormonism and Catholicism (especially Mormonism), and indicating that the candidates were unworthy of your votes because of it.

The Republicans simply don't have a history of religious tolerance. Quite the opposite. Year after year, candidate after candidate, issue after issue, the Republicans seem to find fault in those that are not Protestant, or at least Christian.

Because of that history, I just don't buy what is currently going on. I feel like there are probably tons of Republicans out there right now that are offended by the religious choices of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. I feel like if it were Obama or another Democrat that all sorts of hell would be being made of this. (All unofficially, of course, which is why I'm speaking of GOP voters instead of the official Party.) But since it's a pair of Republicans, they are turning a blind eye.

If you're a member of a non-Protestant religion and you have political aspirations, don't expect the same respect for you in the future. Unless you're a Republican, of course. Then you get a pass.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Email from Dems on Recent Polls Conspicuously Misleading

I received a bulk email today from State Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker. In it, Parker discussed some recent polling results and interpreted them. The polls was conducted by the Indiana Chamber, and can be found here and here.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect an email I receive from any political party to be without bias.  The logic in this particular email seemed so flawed, though, that I felt it worth pointing out.

From the email (emphasis mine):

Just like two prior polls, the surveys conducted by the Indiana Chamber and MajorityPAC show Joe Donnelly and Richard Mourdock within the margin of error -- just a couple points apart!
These numbers prove what we've known all along: Hoosiers don't want a Tea Party candidate who hides everything from public records about his failed auto worker lawsuit to the billionaires backing his campaign.

Here's where I get confused.  Parker seems to believe that polling that shows Two of the three candidates within the margin of error indicates that Hoosiers don't want Mourdock in office.  But if you are going to apply that math to Mourdock, doesn't it apply to Donnelly as well? I mean, if such a tight race is an indicator that we don't want one candidate, doesn't it also mean we don't want either?

Parker also fails to mention something else: the poll also asked about Indiana's Gubernatorial race.  In the results from that section of the poll, Republican Mike Pence is absolutely obliterating Democrat John Gregg 50-32%.  I'm curious what that kind of spread means about whether Hoosiers want Gregg of not, based on Parker's logic from above.

As for the poll, I also find the lack of Libertarian questions interesting.  While the polls did choose to include Libertarians Andy Horning and Rupert Boneham in their "if the election were held today" questions, they were left out of all other questions in the poll.  Also, the Libertarian party was left out of the question about party identification.  I guess this partial inclusion is better than the many polls that exclude Libertarian candidates altogether.  I wish, though, that Libertarians would get included in all questions, not just a couple here and there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Sad Timing of the Closing of The Project School

The other day, I wrote about Mayor Ballard revoking the charter of The Project School.  I stated that I believe that poorly performing schools should be at risk of being closed, and I stand by that.

There's another side to the pulling of the charter, though.  One that I do not agree with at all.  That is timing.  Choosing to pull a school's charter so close to the beginning of a school year is wrong.  By the time the final decision is made, it will be August 7th.  That leaves parents and students scrambling just weeks before classes are supposed to start.

Where are the kids going to go?  Will I see my friends again?  Will the next school be any better?  What is the transportation situation going to be?

All are questions parents and students would have to face if a school were to close.  None are questions a student should have to face this close to the beginning of a new school year.  It's too much stress to add at the most inopportune time to do so.

Still, there's a side to this story that seems to have been forgotten since the original announcement.  When people are talking about The Project School today, they are focusing on the schools poor academic performance.  They are talking about anger from parents. Just see Erika Smith's recent column in the Star.

Don't let it slip your mind that there are indications of egregious misuse of money and incredible amounts of growing debt.

I'm not saying that it makes the timing of Ballard's move any better.  I'm just saying it's a big part of a puzzle that has quickly become overlooked.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guns and Abortion

As you're well aware, there's been a tragedy.  People who felt they were in a safe and fun environment were suddenly mowed down by a well-armed gunman.  Twelve dead.  Dozens injured.  Still no answers.

Immediately after the incident, the gun control debate shifted into high gear.  One side saying the tragedy may have been prevented if guns were harder to acquire.  The other side saying the tragedy may have been prevented if more people in the auditorium were armed.

Maybe you should stay out of the debate, at least most of the time.  Neither you nor your cause will gain from it.  You see, when it comes to guns, people pretty much have their mind made up.  You'll never convince a gun control advocate that an increase in well-armed citizens can bring about safer communities.  You'll never convince a gun rights advocate that making it harder to get guns does anything but make it easier for the criminals to have targets.

I equate the guns right debate to the abortion debate; it's normally not an argument worth having.  The two sides of the guns rights and abortion debates are so polarized that you are unlikely to ever sway someone's opinion.  These issues are also incredibly emotionally charged, so a debate adds a possibility of anger and resentment.

Be cautious how you read my words.  I am not saying you should keep your opinions on highly charged emotional issues to yourself.  Quite the contrary.  You should be be very willing to stand up and say "This is what I believe!"

Before you turn standing up for your beliefs into a pointless argument no one can win, though, pay attention to who you might be arguing with.  Ask yourself if it's worth it to start a heated debate with someone whose opinion you will never change.  Ask yourself if the stress and anger of wondering how the other side could possibly be so blind to your points is worth it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ballard to Revoke School's Charter

Word has been given to The Project School, one of Indianapolis' charter schools, that they will be be having their charter revoked.  The revocation will take effect immediately; no classes will begin at the school this fall.

According to an Indianapolis Star story, the charter is being revoked for multiple reasons.  The school was one of the worst performing schools not only in the county, but in the entire state.  Only 29% of the school's students passed the ISTEP.

Perhaps just as troubling is the extreme financial issues the school is having. The school apparently was bouncing payroll checks.  The reports also states that the school misused large amounts of federal funds as well as accumulating three million dollars in debt.

The revoking of the charter, at least according to the details of the Star's story, seems to be a fully acceptable.  It also goes to show one of the benefits of the expansion of charter schools recently in Indiana: the ability to hold the school accountable with extreme consequences.

This is the way schools across our state should operate.  If they fail to meet the most basic requirements then they should be at risk of being closed. The growth of charter schools makes this more likely to occur.  The addition of voucher programs makes consequences even more likely, as parents would be unwilling to allow their children to continue to attend schools that so horribly fail.

Over the next days or weeks we will undoubtedly learn more details about what exactly was happening at The Project School.  For now, though, it seems that some of the safety nets in place with our charter school system have enabled Mayor Ballard to get rid of a bad apple before it could do any more damage.

(If you are interested in learning more about charter schools, voucher programs, and school choice, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice will be holding the Friedman Legacy for Freedom Day at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis on Friday, July 27th.  Please contact Chris Spangle for more information.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Super Bowl?!? Don't Buy the Spin

To the surprise of exactly no one, word began to get around on Tuesday that Indianapolis would be submitting a bid to host another Super Bowl.  Most reports suggested that the bid would be for Super Bowl LII in 2018.

During and after the completion of the Super Bowl festivities this year, it was a common to hear visitors review the experience as one of the best jobs hosting a Super Bowl ever.  Maybe even the best.  Such reviews are especially important since so many people, especially sports writers across the nation, were critical of the decision to choose Indianapolis in the first place.

Immediately after the Super Bowl was over, everyone knew that Indy would be seeking Round Two.  It's almost a surprise that it took this long.  The visitors loved it and the citizens of Indianapolis and Central Indiana had a great time and have been begging for more.

This morning, the Star reports that mayor Ballard and Governor Daniels announced that direct spending as a result of the Super Bowl was $152 million.  Although some spending projections were as high as $200 million, the numbers released today were higher than the more common $150 million projections that seem to be the only ones currently remembered.

But today's numbers are suspect.  As Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana points out, hotel and sales tax revenue don't seem to match up with the $152 million dollar story.  But even if the revenue numbers are correct, that's only part of what went on.

Today's numbers fail to take into account the grand expenses involved.  There is no mention at all of the two reports coming out of the CIB that says that organization lost a million dollars from the hosting duties.  There's barely a mention of the multi-million dollar Georgia Street project; a project which was supposed to have long-term benefits as a pedestrian mall, but has recently left businesses complaining it is often barren.

And Welsh is the only person currently talking about the troubles that businesses not located in the central downtown area faced.  Based on the hype, many restaurants and bars spent tens of thousands of dollars to stock up on food and alcohol to prepare for an onslaught of business that never came. 

For corporate restaurants this may not have been an enormous problem.  For "Mom & Pop" establishments, though, tying up that kind of cash in unused stock, much of it perishable, can be crippling.  It forces them to change their business model for the rest of the year and can risk putting them out of business.

So, as Indianapolis starts building excitement about the possibility of hosting another Big Game, remember that things from the last one may not have turned out as great as it seems.  I'm not saying we shouldn't want to host another one.  The last one WAS a great time and WAS great for the morale of the City.  We should demand more transparency this time around, though.  And we should make sure that we don't give the farm away to the NFL for the chance to host.

Let's just make sure we know what's going on before we put our arms around the idea of another Super Bowl and hug tight.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cops Want You to Speed

Our police officers are supposed to help make our communities safer.  In the case of speeding, though, our officers are more concerned about cashing in by writing tickets than taking steps to truly make the roads safer.

Fox 59's Jenny Anchondo (whose staff bio interestingly includes several pictures that look more like she's trying to score a job modeling than be in a professional news position) recently had a story about the five worst areas in Indianapolis for speeding.  (There's also a written story here.)  The station's story showed an officer hiding around the corner and using his radar gun to trap speeders that were unable to see him until it was too late.

And that is exactly the problem.  Officers don't take proactive steps to make our roads safer by preventing people from speeding.  Instead, they allow drivers to speed and only take steps after that damage is done.

What you see in Anchondo's story is proof that this is the case.  Officers hide to catch speeders instead of staying out in the open.

What do you think would work better to keep the speed of drivers down?  Hiding allows drivers to cruise along at whatever speeds they want.  It doesn't slow drivers down at all.  It only retroactively punishes those drivers that go fast enough to cross the threshold that the officer has decided warrants a ticket.

What if the officers didn't hide?  What if they intentionally stayed out in the open?  To answer that question, you only need to ask yourself what YOU would do if you were speeding and see a cop.  If you're like most of us, you would immediately slow down.  And so would everyone around you.  Instead of everyone speeding until one person got caught, everyone would slow down and only the bold or stupid would continue to speed.

And officers being out in the open wouldn't have to be limited to where they sit on the side of the road.  What if officers spent as much time on I-465 traveling the speed limit as they do hiding and waiting for someone to blow by them?  Again, you know the answer.  How likely are you to fly by an officer going the speed limit?  You'll probably just slow down and stay behind the officer or maybe just creep by them going only a couple miles per hour above the limit.

This is evidence that officers have their priorities mixed up.  Instead of taking steps that are likely to keep us from ever getting out of line to begin with, they take steps that completely allow us to get out of line and then write us a ticket for it. The priority is to ticket us first, and make us safer second.  Only by staying out in the open do officers place making us safer first, and ticketing us second.

This is a byproduct of how police departments receive funding.  Departments make money by busting us.  This means that police departments are encouraged to let us do wrong because they can make more money because of it.  Only by restructuring how the police receive money will our protectors ever care about protecting us first, and busting us later.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama's Gay Marriage Statement: Right Message, Wrong Reason...Again

President Obama declared yesterday that he now agrees that homosexuals should be allowed to marry.  In an ABC News interview, Obama stated that his views have been evolving and that now, "it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."

This is an issue I feel strongly about.  I applaud Obama for publicly making this statement.


This is the third time where Obama has seemed to only care about LGBT issues during a summer election season.  I'm glad he takes the stances he does, but I wish he didn't only do it when it was politically beneficial for him to do so.

You might remember that, in 2008, Obama campaigned on getting rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT).  When Obama was elected, though, DADT was an issue that fell by the wayside.  Obama's Democrats had commanding control of both houses of Congress (57-41 in the Senate and 256-178 in the House).  Obama had the ability to, upon inauguration, get rid of DADT very rapidly and with no chance of losing.

But he didn't.  If DADT was really that important to Obama he had the strength to bat it aside and not look back.  Instead, though, after Obama was inaugurated you never heard about his dedication to ridding the military of DADT again.  That is, until election season in 2010.

Suddenly, with an important election looming, Obama was again vocal about his dedication to get rid of DADT.  DADT became a hot-button issue of the 2010 election.  Obama and the Democrats campaigned long and hard on the issue.

I'm glad they campaigned on the issue in 2010.  And I'm glad they were successful.  Readers of this blog will remember that, on more than one occasion, I questioned the sincerity of Obama and DADT because of the timing gap.  And I still do.

Since forgetting about DADT for almost two years before (re)making it an issue on an election year, Obama again forgot about LGBT issues.  It was something that wasn't mentioned at all for nearly two more years.  Until today.

Today, as another election season begins to steam ahead, Obama suddenly cares about the gay community again.  This time stating that he is now in favor of the rights of gays to marry.

Based on his history, I'll have to make a prediction on how this will unfold.  I believe this will be a hotly discussed topic for the remainder of the election season.  I believe Obama will most likely get re-elected.  Then, I believe, we won't hear much more about gay rights.  That is, until 2014.  During 2014, Obama and Company will again suddenly make LGBT rights and awareness an issue.

I don't doubt Obama's support for these issues.  I just wish he'd focus on them because he's dedicated to them and it's the right thing to do.  Instead, he focuses on them because he's dedicated to his Party and it's the right thing to do for Obama.

(FWIW, the Libertarian Party has been openly committed to LGBT rights since its founding.  Most Libertarian candidates, such as Presidential contender Gary Johnson and Indiana Gubernatorial candidate Rupert Boneham, have made pledges dedicating to fight for equality if elected.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lugar Asks Voters to Break the Law in Effort to Re-Elect Him

Dick Lugar is desperate to win in Tuesday's primary election.  How desperate?  He's publicly calling for people to break the law to help make it happen.

Indianapolis Business Journal is reporting that Lugar has sent out a call for Independents and Democrats to cross party lines and ask for a Republican ballot in the primary.  He asks they will then use their vote to help him defeat challenger Richard Mourdock.

The problem with that is that it may be illegal for voters to cross the party lines as Lugar is asking them to do.  According to Indiana law, you can only pull a party's ballot in a primary if you cast at least half of your votes for that party in the previous general election, or if you intend to cast at least half your votes for that party in the next general election.

Independents may not be breaking the law very often by pulling a primary ballot that they normally wouldn't.  Democrats and Libertarians who pull a Republican ballot for the sake of the Senate or Presidential race, or some other reason, are clearly in violation and are committing voter fraud.

Is that an enforceable law?  No, not at all.  The only way the law could ever be enforced is if we moved away from a secret ballot.  That, of course, is never going to happen.

But whether it is an enforceable law doesn't change the fact that it is the law, and Dick Lugar is asking people to break it for his own political gain.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sunday Alcohol Sales: Hoosiers Now Alone

Connecticut just passed a bill that will allow retail alcohol to be sold in that state on Sundays.  This makes Connecticut the 49th state to allow Sunday alcohol sales.  That's right,'re the last man standing.

Sometimes it's good to be the lone wolf.  When you're blazing new trails or experimenting with a new idea, it is perfectly fine to be the only one doing something.  When you're the last one to move away from an arcane way of doing things, though, it just means you're the slowest to adapt to the future.  It means you are not willing to accept change and head into an inevitable future.

States are designed to compete with each other.  It was built into the design of our country via the Constitution.  When it came to free markets, the constitution supported them at that level.  The states were designed to be able to do pretty much whatever they wanted within a few simple federal guidelines.  By doing this, states would have good reason to come up with new and better ideas for running themselves.  People of a certain philosophy could gather into areas than ran the way they appreciated most.  States that ran the best would be a draw for new citizens.

The exponential growth of the federal government over the years has removed much of that ability for states to compete for the better of us all.  Still, in areas like alcohol sales, the states still have most of the control.  (It should be noted that the drinking age is not one of those areas.  While states officially can determine their own drinking age, the feds play a funding game with them that says if a state has a drinking age lower than 21, then they get less money.)

The biggest fighters of Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana may not be who you would think: liquor stores.  Liquor stores despise the idea of Sunday sales.  They believe many of them may go out of business if Sunday sales are allowed.

How does that work?  Well, in Indiana we're so accustomed to not being able to buy alcohol on Sunday that we go out on Saturday and get our "Sunday beer."  On Sunday, the liquor stores are closed for business.  No staff to pay.  No lights to turn on.  The furnace or air conditioner can be turned down for the day.

If Sunday sales are allowed, though, liquor stores will have a choice to make.  First, they can keep their bills the way they currently are by just being closed on Sunday.  But, since Sunday sales are available, they will probably lose their "Sunday beer" business on Saturdays to stores that are open Sundays.

If the liquor store opens up on Sunday, they'll have to pay the extra money for staff and lights, etc. But, since we've been so accustomed to getting "Sunday beer," then a lot of the Sunday revenue will not be increased sales, but just sales that shifted to Sunday from Saturday.

Plus, major retailers like Wal-Mart and CVS that are already open Sunday will now be able to sell alcohol on that day.  Unlike the liquor stores, though, there will not be an additional cost for them to do so.  They are already open Sundays, and thus already have a staff on duty, the lights on, and the temperature set.  There is no additional cost for them.

Yes, if Sunday sales are legalized here in the Hoosier State, some liquor stores may close.  Most, though, will still be there just as they are today.  It's the economics of a free market.  Not every business should stay open forever.  Inevitably, times change, and some grow from change while others stay still or go away.

Will Sunday sales potentially hurt some people?  Yes.  There's not a law you can enact that won't.  It's time for Indiana to get it together, though, and join the rest of the country in the 21st century on this issue.  It's time for Indiana to no longer be the last one grasping to the past.  It's time for Indiana to allow Sunday alcohol sales.

(And Sunday car sales, too...but that's another story.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gay Student Told the Bullying He was Subjected to was His Fault for Acting so Gay

The Indy Star reported Wednesday that a Tech High School Student, Darnell "Dynasty" Young faces expulsion  for carrying a stun gun to school.  The expulsion hearing was set for sometime Wednesday afternoon.

I'm sure Darnell probably got expelled.  You carry a weapon like a stun gun to school and you're going to get expelled, no matter you're reasons.  Even if he felt he was in danger, the school has to take the "two wrongs don't make a right" approach and hand down a severe punishment.

But that's not what you should care about in this story.  You should care about the fact that the bullying was allowed to continue, without any apparent intervention.  You should care that the bullying was allowed to continue without any apparent investigation into it, despite the fact that the school was informed about it, at the bare minimum, 10 times.

But mostly you should care about the way Tech Principal Larry Yarrell handled the situation.  You should be outraged that, when confronted with information about the bullying, Yarrell turned the tables and told young Dynasty that maybe he should just "tone down" his gayness a little bit by not accessorizing his outfits as much.  You should be outraged that Yarrell, much like an uninformed masogynist saying that a raped woman was "asking for it" because of what she was wearing, seemed to think that Dynasty was somehow at least partly to blame for how he was treated at school.

In a world where the LGBT community is, albeit slowly, becoming more accepted by our society, you would think that a high school principal would know how to handle these situations just a little bit better.

Some of the quotes in the Star article from Principal Yarrell and the school are enough to infuriate and disgust you with his ignorance.

"If you wear female apparel, then kids are kids and they're going to say whatever it is that they want to say," Yarrell said.

 'If you're going to dress the way you're dressing, people are going to say things. If you could tone it down as much as possible, then people won't have as much to say.' 

His behavior and the way he dressed called attention to himself, they said. He accessorized his outfits with his mother's purses and jewelry. (second hand quote)

 Obviously, Yarrell is out of touch with how to deal with one of the most common causes of bullying in today's teen society.  If he is so out of touch that he can't properly deal with this major out of touch that he blames the victim...then Yarrell needs to consider another profession.

I hope you will join me in calling for the resignation or termination of Tech High School Principal Larry Yarrell.  Our youth don't need to be told that it's their fault.  Our youth don't need those leading our schools to turn such a blind eye to what's going on in their building that parents feel the need to arm their students to protect themselves.

Larry Yarrell is completely out of touch.  And he needs to go.

You can contact Tech High School, including Principal Yarrell, via the contact information on this page.

You can contact IPS via the information on this page. Their switchboard number is 317-226-4000.

Please also leave your comments on the Star article linked above.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dick Lugar's Voting Record

Erick Erickson of Red State did a short, but interesting piece Monday on Senator Lugar's voting history.  He quickly chastises Lugar for complaining about Mourdock not having voted for John McCain in the 2008 Republican primary.  Erickson then goes on to obliterate Lugar's voting record, including:

  • To support a host of anti-gun legislation including a concealed weapons ban
  • To support the Bridge to Nowhere
  • To oppose school choice for victims of Hurricane Katrina
  • To oppose $13 billion in new mandatory spending cuts
  • To support raiding the social security trust fund to fund general budget appropriations
  • To oppose a one year earmark moratorium
  • To support adding $52 billion in new spending to Barack Obama’s stimulus bill

Make sure you don't just read the article, but also the comments.  Especially the first few.

Hat tip to Judy Morris of both The Judy Morris Report and The Humble Libertarian for making me aware of this article.

***  After I wrote this blog, but before I had it scheduled to post, the good people at United Liberty wrote a column on the Lugar/Mourdock race that also pointed out the Erickson info I linked to above.  The United Liberty writing is also worth your time.  ***

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Much is a Billboard Worth?

Apparently $189,000.

Indianapolis Business Journal reported yesterday on a deal that took place in Speedway.  Apparently, the City needed a quarter-acre of land to install a new roundabout.  The land owner had already sold the land to Speedway.

Clear Channel, though, had a lease on the property for a billboard they had on it.  When the City offered Clear Channel $165,000 for the board, Clear Channel refused.  After taking the company to court, the City and Clear Channel were ordered to accept a $189,000 transaction.

From the IBJ article:

"It's much less than what they had reuested in their counteroffer," said Scott Harris, executive director of the (Speedway redevelopment) commission, who declined to divulge the exact amount of Clear Channel's offer."

I guess maybe I just don't understand the economics of the advertising industry.  I know they can deal in big money.  Money beyond my comprehension.  Almost $200,000 for a lone billboard, though, just seems horribly steep.

Think about what you can buy for that kind of money.   I own a decent little 3-bedroom home in Indianapolis on about .7 acres. Two car garage.  Shed.  Central air.  I spent half that.  And, in today's housing environment, I would pay less, I'm sure.

I could take $100,000 around this town and probably have my choice of a half-dozen or more decent little bars for sale.  Make it $150,000 and I might have a serious choice to make from a ton of options.

So what in the world makes a billboard in Speedway worth $189,000?  Not the land, I remind you, just the board itself.  Are they really that kind of revenue generating machines?

I'm obviously in the wrong business.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rupert Campaign Unveils RV to Tour the State With

The campaign of Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Rupert Boneham today introduced an RV that Rupert will use to visit all 92 Indiana Counties.

Boneham's campaign manager, Evan McMahon, said the RV was chosen because,

"We don't have millions of dollars in corporate sponsors, like the establishment candidates do.  Instead of bombarding TV and Radio with poll tested sound bites, Rupert is going on the people can really understand who he is and what he stands for.  Face to face with Hoosiers in their communities."

No word yet from the campaign where the RV might make its first appearance in its tour around the Hoosier State.  According to the campaign's Facebook page, though, you can make a donation to the campaign to help cover gas costs and other expenses at their Donate Page.

Sarah Palin Endorsement Only Relevant for About a Week

Sarah Palin has endorsed Richard Mourdock for Senate.  John McCain endorsed Lugar.

Neither of those endorsements are particularly surprising.  McCain endorsed his long-time friend.  Palin endorsed the Tea Party favorite.

Right now we're hearing a lot about the Palin endorsement.  So much so, in fact, that Mourdock, while thanking another group for their endorsement, went out of his way to again address the Palin endorsement.

Why?  Because Palin is incredibly popular among uber-conservatives.  And those are the people the Lugar and Mourdock are fighting for right now.  So as we get much closer to the May 8th Primary, I wouldn't be surprised if we continue to hear Mourdock tout the importance of the Palin endorsement.

One way or another, though, I bet that ends May 8th.  If Lugar wins, of course it ends along with Mourdock's campaign.  If Mourdock wins, though, as is looking more likely every day, I doubt he continues to brag much about the Palin endorsement.

Why?  Because the voters he's fighting for will change dramatically.  Today he's fighting for right-wingers and is proud to display his endorsement by someone right-wingers adore.

But starting May 9th, Mourdock will have the right-wingers' votes locked up.  If he wins the primary, the Republicans are going to vote for him in November.

So starting May 9th, Mourdock is fighting for the votes of independents and swing-voters.  And that crowd aligns themselves more with the Democrats when it comes to attitudes towards Sarah Palin.  Their feelings range from a great dislike toward her, to outright hating her.

So while you see Mourdock proudly wearing the Palin endorsement today, I wouldn't expect that trend to continue for more than another week.  Then it gets filed away as a campaign hindrance. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Indy Bar Owners: You've Been Had" OR "How the Government Tricks You Into Supporting Something You Hate"

'When it comes to controversial legislative issues that have no chance of ever passing in their fully intended form, it's not uncommon for legislators to pit those that oppose them against each other.  This most commonly happens through what I call "the baby step game."

What is the baby step game?  Simple.  Our laws are currently at step A.  The legislators have determined that we should be at step D.  Unfortunately for our legislators, though, they know there is no way that their constituents would ever support a jump straight from A to D.  So, they break it down into pieces.  Instead of going from A to D, they go from A to B, then wait a little bit and go from B to C.  Finally, they make the step from C to D.

Each step seems a little less harsh, and thus is less likely to receive the level of criticism that would cause the legislators to reconsider it.  It's a trick that our government uses against us very, very regularly.

The worst part of this government trickery is that, by breaking it down into stages, our legislators are sometimes able to turn the very people that were originally all on the same side against each other.  By doing so, they turn what were originally their enemies into their supporters.  And our legislators are so successful at doing this that most times the sides that have been turned into unwilling supporters have no idea it's happening to them.

The most recent example of this is with the smoking bans.  The advocates of smoking bans wanted an all-encompassing ban from day one.  The legislators pushing for a ban, though, knew that there was absolutely no chance of moving from no ban on public smoking to a full ban on it.  So, they started by focusing on restaurants.

When they first went to ban smoking in restaurants, they knew it would be a battle. It was just restaurants, though, not bars.  Just the place that the kids could go.  It was a fight, but a fight "for the kids."  Slowly, they gained the support that they needed to pass the ban.  Restaurants, bars, cigar bars, private clubs and more all were against the ban.  It was spun as a compromise, though, and eventually they were able to get it passed.

After passing the restaurant smoking ban, it felt like it was all over for a while.  Restaurants complained that they were unfairly focused on and were losing smokers' business to bars and private clubs.

After a few years, the angst of restaurants started to take hold.  Suddenly, the fully acceptable compromise that only restaurants would be impacted became obsolete.  Now, the attack turned to bars as well.  No longer was protecting the kids the focus, though.  Now, the attention was turned to protecting the employees.  Now it was important to ban smoking in bars, too.

So, the legislators fought again.  This time, they fought to ban smoking in bars.  Eventually, they again reached a compromise.  This time that compromise meant that bars would now also be prevented from allowing smoking in their businesses.  That compromise, of course, eventually passed and was signed into law.

That compromise that was signed into law prevents Indianapolis bars from allowing smoking in their establishments.  Cigar bars, hookah bars, tobacco shops, and private organizations, though, are still continued to allow smoking.  For now.

The first steps towards the next expansion of the smoking ban are already in motion.  Since the passing of Indy's latest smoking ban, several bar owners in town are now calling for a comprehensive smoking ban.  They are, justifiably, worried about losing business to low cost private organizations that may be near their businesses.  Organizations that, in many cases, are just a glorified bar.  Organizations that now allow smoking while the traditional Mom & Pop bar can't.

While I see where the bar owners are coming from (they're just trying to protect their business), I worry about what this means for the future.  You see, the Indy bar owners are now just playing into the legislators' hands.  They WANT the bar owners to complain and, in lieu of being able to allow smoking themselves, will fight for no smoking for anybody.  It is the first step to the next step.

Trust me, Indy bar owners, the legislators are listening.  And at each step along the way, they will meet less resistance.  It may be very soon, considering Indy's recent history, before the next step is introduced.  Like each step along the way, it will be unlikely to meet with success at its first stop.  Within a couple or three tries, though, the ban of smoking in private establishments will definitely pass.

Following that will be the cigar bars and hookah bars.  Maybe even the tobacco shops.  Again, it will take two or three tries, but it will pass.

After that, we'll see a push against smoking in cars or our homes.  It probably seems silly now, and it will seem silly when it's first introduced.  Within a few tries, though, it will pass.  Our yards may follow.  And cigarettes as a whole, the original goal, will be banned within most of your lifetimes.

Indy bar owners:  I understand your angst and your anger right now.  I hope you'll understand, though, that you are playing right into their plan.  Your desire for the next step to take place will only make it one step closer to the next step after that.

You have been turned into a pawn for the anti-smoking crowd.  Exactly as they planned just from the beginning.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rupert Makes Pledge to the LGBT Community on Marriage Equality

One of the more divisive issues in our communities today is the future of LGBT rights.  Marriage is at the forefront of this issue.  Whether you are for or against the rights of homosexuals to marry, the topic is hotly debated in just about every political arena.

Other issues the LGBT community are fighting for include inheritance rights and hospital visitation rights.  Without the ability to marry, if one partner in a homosexual relationship dies, then the surviving partner doesn't have the tax benefits on the inheritance that a similar heterosexual couple would have.  And if a LGBT partner is hospitalized, the other partner may not have visitation rights if the family disagrees...something that would obviously never be possible to happen against a spouse in a heterosexual marriage.

Over the last few years the fight for LGBT rights has become the civil rights issue of the generation.  There have been great advances in the fight.  A handful of states have started to allow gay marriage.  Hate crimes laws now include acts against homosexuals.  The public attitude has become welcoming enough that many that formerly would have stayed in the closet for their entire life are now comfortable coming out at an early age.

The obstacles yet to overcome far outweigh the advances, though.  While many now feel comfortable coming out that may not have, by doing so they face the potential to face dangerous bullying issues...especially while still of school age.  Entire segments of the population still fight against homosexuality; they fight over things like why people are gay and they fight over what rights the LGBT community may have.  They do everything they can do to "keep the gay away."

In politics, the fight is just as grand.  The Republicans, with little exception, fight with all their might to prevent LGBTs from having any kind of benefits at all.  For the most part, the gay community responds by rarely voting Republican.  And who can blame them?

Confusingly to me, though, the LGBTs turn their support to the Democrats.  While the Democrats don't go out of their way to fight against gay rights, they sure don't go out of their way to support them, either.  It feels like  the LGBTs just choose to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Examples?  Let's start with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Which Republican signed this bill that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and also keeps states from having to recognize a gay marriage performed in another state (despite the constitutional requirement to do so)? No Republican at all.  The bill was signed by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1996.

And what Republican signed into law Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT)?  Again, none.  The bill was signed into law guessed it...Democrat Bill Clinton in 1993.

But, wait!  Democrat President Barack Obama got rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell, didn't he?!?  Yes, he did.  But let's look at how he did it.  Throughout the 2008 Presidential campaign, he indicated that getting rid of DADT was a priority to him. But how much of a priority did he make it once he took office in January 2009?  The answer is he didn't make it a priority at all.  In fact, after he was elected we never heard him mention it again for about 18 months.

Why did he wait for 18 months to bring it back up?  He had the majority in the House and the Senate.  If it was REALLY a priority for Obama, all he had to do was tell his friends in Congress to get the bill on his desk, and it would have been law in very short order.

Instead, though, Obama used the LGBT community to his political advantage.  He only made an issue out of it when he felt he could pick up a few votes with it.  He campaigned on its importance in 2008 to get votes.  Then he ignored them for nearly two years.  Then it suddenly became important again in 2010 when he could again use it as leverage for votes.  In the meantime, LGBTs spent two years either choosing to not serve in our military, or serving and hiding who they are.  Obama made them suffer for all that time so he could pick up a few more votes for he and his party.

The same attitude is going on right now in Indiana and it's Gubernatorial race.  Ask a member of the gay community what they think of Mike Pence and they are likely to despise him.  After all, Pence openly fights against gay rights.

But then ask LGBTs who they're going to vote for this fall and they are likely to say John Gregg.  Why?  Not because he's on their side, but because he's the lesser of two evils.

As my friend an fellow blogger Mike Kole recently wrote on his blog The Kole Hard Facts of Life, John Gregg is no friend to the LGBT community.  When it comes to LGBT issues, Gregg is suspiciously silent.  If he does support LGBT rights, he sure isn't saying so. And he may very well be against those rights...we just don't know.

If Gregg does support LGBT rights, why would he keep quiet about it?  There's only three possible reaons: A) He's embarrassed by his position;  B) He feels his position could harm him politically; or  C) He doesn't really support LGBT rights.

If you are LGBT, which of those makes you comfortable voting for Gregg?  Do you want to vote for someone who's embarrassed to support you?  Do you want to vote for someone whose principals are so low he'd hide his support for you to gain political advantage?  Do you want to vote for someone who is against you?  I bet the answer is "No!" to all three.

There is an Indiana Gubernatorial candidate that isn't John Gregg or Mike Pence, though.  And guess what, LGBTs, he's made a public pledge to support marriage equality and LGBT rights.

That's right, Rupert Boneham is a friend to the LGBT community.  He's not embarrassed by it.  He stands by his principals and admits it.  He will fight for you.

As we head into the fall elections, I hope you will remember that.  Of course, there are many more issues than just LGBT rights.  Rupert will be making several trips around the state in the next several months.  He makes himself very accessible and is always happy to talk policy with Hoosiers.  If you will be attending Circle City IN Pride this year, Rupert plans to be there all day at the Libertarian Party booth.  Please stop by.

The Bisard Case and The Integrity of Our Police Force

It's hard to be a cop.  Harder than I can imagine.  I have a few friends that are cops.  I wouldn't want to trade places with them.

One of the hardest thing about being a cop has got to be the lack of respect shown to you by different segments of the population.  Mostly, I'm sure this comes from people that are up to no good and the presence of a police officer means they have to delay or abort their nefarious plans.

Sometimes, though, the lack of respect comes from those who are mostly good and would never consider doing harm to another.  Maybe that lack of respect comes out of anger; a person was speeding or rolled through a stop sign and got a ticket.  Angry over the ticket, even though that person broke the law, they have a show of disrespect to the police officer.  Hey, they're just doing their job.

But then there's another side.  There's the side of  "cops taking care of their own."  This is the side that would really piss me off if I was a cop.  The majority of police officers do their jobs and live by operating above and beyond the demands of the law. They understand that when all eyes are on them, they have to go above and beyond to earn and keep the respect of the citizens. A few, though, ruin it for the rest of the force.

One of the ways that cops operate above the law is speeding.  That's one that really gets on my nerves.  The speed limit on I465 around Indianapolis is 55mph.  I regularly set my cruise control at somewhere between 63 and 65.  Plenty of people pass me, including off-duty police in squad cars moving at 70mph or more.  I may not literally see it every day, but I see it several times a week.  Sometimes the officers are on duty, too.

Hell, on-duty officers never follow the speed limit.  They are always going at least 63 on I465.  What's my motivation to follow the speed limit if they can't?

I just lost some respect.  IMPD and the State Police regularly give people tickets for going 70 on I465.  But these officers aren't scared, because they are in a police car.  They're not getting pulled over for going 70, so they just cruise along with no worries.

People like me who appreciate the police and respect them for the job they do get saddened by stuff like this.  A big sigh and a "c'mon, guys!" I know that, even though I didn't mean to, I just lost a little respect for the badge.

As I stated, the officers should, especially when on-duty or off-duty but in a squad car, follow the law to a T.  Maybe even go beyond it's requirements.  I shouldn't see officers going above 55 except when their is a call for them to do so.  It's just the right thing to do.  (And, whether I would like it or not, I bet the average speed on 465 would come down a few mph if all the cops were going 55.)

Same deal, but exponentially bigger,  with the Bisard case debacle.  The first blood draw was taken at the wrong facility and thrown out.  The second blood draw was "accidentally" removed from refrigerated storage and is now compromised.  The FBI has been asked to come in and investigate whether there has been criminal intent in these situations.

If I was one of the majority of the officers out there that are good, I'd be pissed.  This is the kind of stuff that just made the entire IMPD, as well as police officers everywhere, lose respect from the masses.  The whole "a few rotten apples" cliche at its grandest.

I love my police officer friends.  I respect you and your job; it's one of the most difficult in the world.  I just hope that you and your fellow officers remember that "protecting your own" means much more than protecting an individual officer that has done wrong.  It means protecting your department and what your badge stands for.  It means having integrity above all else because all eyes are on you and the slightest misstep is amplified and ripples out to those all around you.

To protect your own doesn't mean to turn a blind eye to misdeeds.  It does not mean to do shady things to let one of your badged brothers get away with wrongdoing.  Protecting your own means holding yourself and your fellow officers to the highest of standards at all times.  You earn respect that way.  You keep respect that way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Smoking Bans: Can We Please Stop Pretending It's About Health?

I don't write much about smoking bans.  I know, as a political blogger, you'd think it is some kind of prerequisite.  I choose not to talk about smoking bans, though.  It's not that I don't have strong feelings on the issue, because I do.  I choose not to spend time on it because: A) I think smoking bans are inevitable, and B) There's plenty of blogs out there talking about it and I'd just be noise.

So today, the day after the Indianapolis City-County Council has, for the second time this year, passed a enhanced smoking ban, I guess I'll touch on the issue a little.

I don't really want to talk about the ban itself, though.  I'm not going to focus on what's included, what's not included, who's applauding the vote, and who's upset with it.

Instead, I want to talk about why people want a smoking ban to begin with.  And let me tell's not about health.  Not about the health of patrons.  Not about the health of employees.  It's not.

And I'm not going to get into whether or not second-hand smoke is dangerous.  Or third-hand smoke, which I've started to see little bits and pieces of mentioned in stories.

I'm not going to talk about any of those things because that's not why people want a smoking ban.  Some people are concerned about those things, but that's still not why they want a smoking ban.

People who support a smoking ban want a smoking ban for one simple reason: the smell.  They hate the smell of cigarettes.  They don't like going to bars and having to put up with the smell.  They don't like coming home and smelling the smell in their clothes.  They don't like feeling like they need a shower to get the smell off of them.

I get that.  There is a non-smoking bar near my house that I enjoy going to because I don't like coming home smelling of cigarettes. (Although I will sometimes smoke a cigarette or two while I am in a bar.)  But I don't pretend I go there because it's better for my health. I go to avoid the smell.

Why do I believe that it's the smell and not the health that is why people want a smoking ban?  A couple reasons.  First, that's what people bitch about.  The smell.  Not the impact on health, but the smell.  Second, there are plenty of other things that are plenty dangerous to people's health that you here very few ramblings about.

I'm not saying no one cares about the health aspects.  I'd bet, however, that if cigarettes were odor-free, then this argument would be a much quieter one.  I just wish that smoking ban advocates would be honest and say they don't like the smell.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tax Day Thoughts...

There's a lot of different thoughts on taxes, even among Libertarians. There are few, if any, that believe our current tax rates are appropriate. There are those that are nearly anarchists and think taxes in general are a bad thing. There are those of every level in between.

That's where I find myself. While I don't necessarily believe that an income tax is the best way to tax our citizens (I'm a fan of a spending tax, but that's a talk for another day), I don't think near-zero is exactly called for either.

I'm also not one of those Libertarians that pitches a fit every time tax season rolls around. I'm happy to pay my taxes...I just don't think that I should be paying so much of them.

So how should we be taxed and what should our taxes be used for? The scope of government is far too grand, even in a reduced tax and reduced spending environment, to cover that topic in detail within the boundaries of this blog. So I'll hit a few highlights.

I don't believe that our tax money should be funding undeclared wars. We've been at war pretty much nonstop for longer than any of us have been alive. Since World War II, not a single one of those wars has been properly declared by Congress as the Constitution mandates. That's a problem that has cost us Trillions of dollars.

And presidential candidates like Ron Paul are getting chastised for being “isolationist” when he says he wants to correct this problem. He's not saying that he doesn't want to get involved...he's just saying that if it's necessary for us to go to war then we need to get a Congressional Declaration of War. It's not isolationist, it's mandated. We just forgot.

Some Libertarians think that tax money shouldn't even be used for things like roads. That's an extreme I don't buy into. I think that there are certain pieces of infrastructure that Government should be involved in. That includes roads. That does not include the internet.

I don't think our Federal tax dollars should be going toward education. Not that I don't believe that education is important. I think that by the time your tax dollars get filtered through the bureaucratic red tape at the Federal level, then your tax dollars would be better served by being collected by the State. Not to mention that the Department of Education doesn't exactly have a track record of accomplishing, well, anything.

On the other hand, I don't really have a problem with State tax dollars being collected for education. Education succeeds better when handled locally. At the State level, though, I believe it is important for schools to have to meet the demand to improve that is created by competition. For the reason, I am a big fan of voucher programs.

Mostly, though, when it comes to to taxes I think that the discussion needs to be focused on spending.  And sacrifice.  The fact that we're fighting over who gets taxed and in what amounts is only successful in doing one thing: turning us against each other.  For Big Government, that's good news because it means we're not turning our attention towards the other details that add up to so much of what our government does and spends.

The truth is that, no matter how much we tax, we can't overcome our deficit woes with our current spending levels.  The only way we can ever begin to ease the pain of our deficits is by dramatically reducing our spending. We all need to agree to sacrifice to accomplish this.  Not just the rich.  Not just the poor.  Not just the middle class.  If eveyone is not on board, then we are doomed to fail.

So on this tax day, I ask you to not just look at the amount of the refund you may be getting.  Don't just look at the amount of money you had to fork over.  Also look at your legislators.  Reach out to them and let them know that you've had enough.  Demand spending cuts from them, and let them know that you're willing to sacrifice a little to help us all out in the future.