IndyTruth Blog
Wasteful pork in the Obama “stimulus” bill 
Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 05:19 PM - Opinion, Policy
Posted by Administrator
The idea of an economic stimulus bill is to improve the state of the economy. One has to wonder what these provisions in Obama’s $900 billion stimulus package would do to help the economy:
  • $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.
  • A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.
  • $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.
  • $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).
  • $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
  • $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters
  • $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's.
  • $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.
  • $125 million for the Washington sewer system.
  • $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.
  • $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.
  • $75 million for "smoking cessation activities."
  • $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.
  • $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.
  • $500 million for state and local fire stations.
  • $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.
  • $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs.
  • $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.
  • $412 million for CDC buildings and property.
  • $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.
  • $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.
  • $850 million for Amtrak.
  • $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.
  • $75 million to construct a "security training" facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.
  • $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.
In the free market, a company can only spend money on something useful. It is not profitable for a company to waste money on producing a useless product that nobody will use. For the government there is no incentive. It could spend $850 million on trains that nobody rides, and there is no consequence. Since the government cannot create wealth out of thin air, it has to be redirected out of the free market and into the hands of the government through taxes or inflation of the money supply. Government spending draws resources from productive endeavors in the free market to wasteful government projects. This will only further weaken the economy. The key to fixing our economic crisis is to get money out of the wasteful hands of the government and back into the pockets of the American people, where their spending, saving, and investment will use it to stimulate the economy.

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Should Libertarians Compromise on Property Taxes? 
Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 01:42 AM - Opinion, Policy
Posted by Administrator
A post by Liberty Pile at Bureaucrash posed the question of whether libertarians should make compromises. He starts with a quote from Murray Rothbard, "the day-to-day compromises of supposedly ‘practical’ politics get pulled inexorably in the collectivist direction." The key for us to approach compromise is to not sacrifice any freedom in exchange for another. An action is not compromise if it grants a segment of liberty and does nothing to remove any segment of liberty.

The matter of compromise was a sort of the theme of our last Indianapolis Libertarian Meetup (or maybe it's always the theme for libertarians). We discussed whether libertarians should support Governor Mitch Daniels' property tax caps. Most people seemed to be in agreement that these caps would not guarantee lower taxes in any way, and that reducing spending is the only way to accomplish that. By supporting these caps we would give nothing up in exchange for the caps. However, the caps do not offer any actual tax relief, so we would gain nothing either. Shifting taxes around only sustains the system we are trying to fight. I would interpret this as a compromise because we would reinforce a system of unfair taxation.

An idea we discussed was making property taxes fair and consistent, by setting a permanent assessment at the sale of a property. This would prevent the assessor from coming in and saying that you owe $1,000 more this year (I know people who had this happen last year). It would also let the market determine the value of the property, rather than the assessor's opinion.

Is making property taxes fair and consistent a compromise? If our ultimate desire is to eliminate property taxes, then one could argue that it is. I have heard many anarchist-leaning libertarians argue that authorizing any level of government is a compromise of liberty and permission of enslavement. While I agree with an anarchist society as the ideal, I do not see it as a compromise to move government in the direction of liberty even though it is not the ideal final solution. Assessing property value exclusively at the sale would reduce the government's ability to come and take my property away. While not granting me total rights to the property as I feel is the moral and constitutional solution, this is a restoration of a segment of my property rights. It does nothing to remove any amount of liberty from me. This is not a compromise because I make no new sacrifice, but I do gain something from it.

As long as we are moving in the direction of liberty and reducing the size of government, we are on the right path. As soon as we exchange a piece of liberty for a piece of authority, we are compromising our principles; we are compromising our liberty.
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International regulation of your house 
Wednesday, January 14, 2009, 09:09 PM - Opinion, Policy
Posted by Administrator
All eyes are on Washington D.C. this month as a new Congress convenes and a new President is inaugurated. Honestly, so far this year, I have paid little attention to the Capitol other than enjoying the latest Kucinich video on C-SPAN Junkie. Instead, I am much more intrigued with what is happening at the state level.

Today, I heard about an exciting bill that would provide for gold and silver transactions with the State of Indiana (but more on that in a future post), and that got me browsing through the General Assembly web site to see what else our state representatives and senators have in store for us. A bill that caught my eye was SB 284, regarding the International Energy Conservation Code. What is the International Energy Conservation Code and how could some international institution get to dictate what Indiana does with its energy?

The synopsis of the IECC bill explains that it

Requires the fire and building safety commission to adopt the most recent edition of the International Energy Conservation Code before July 1, 2010. Requires the commission to adopt any subsequent editions of the code not later than 18 months after the effective date of the subsequent edition.

I was already concerned when I read this, because I am not sure what energy conservation has to do with fire and building safety. Is someone trying to use regulations intended to save lives as a means to serve some allegedly environmentalist agenda?

It turns out that they aren't only trying to do it. The IECC has already been adopted in a large number of states. In fact, in the 1992 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) Congress mandated that all states must review and consider adopting the national model energy standard. It is interesting that Congress feels it can mandate that states regulate something. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution comes close to giving the federal government the authority to regulate anything, let alone to mandate states to adopt regulations. 38 states and D.C. don't seem to mind, and have adopted some form of IECC or or national model energy standards for residential building codes (40+1 have regulated commercial codes). Indiana has adopted statewide standards older than 1998, which I would assume to mean they submitted to Congress' EPAct, but haven't let the International Code Council increase the bullying over the last a decade. Now that it is 2009, state senator Sue Errington (D-26) has decided that 10+ years behind is just too much. It is time that Indiana submit to the new world order of housing regulation.

The IECC might sound pretty to the average tree hugging Al Gore pupil. The Responsible Energy Codes Alliance brags that it

  • Effectively conserve energy
  • Minimizes increases in construction costs
  • Allows the use of new materials, products or methods of construction
  • Eliminates preferential treatment for particular industries or types or classes of materials, products or methods of construction.
From the perspective of someone who understands the nature of human rights and the intent of the Founders of our nation, it translates to

  • Increases the cost of building a house
  • Requires extra expenses that may be unnecessary for certain building projects
  • Requires one to jump through even more hoops to build a house
  • Prohibits the right to fully own property and choose what to do with it
Regulations like this inevitably rob individuals of reasonable choices that have no negative effect on themselves nor other people. If I attach a garage to my house, is IECC going to make me insulate it? If I am building a summer cabin that doesn't even have a furnace or air conditioner, is the IECC going to make me put special windows on it? So what if I don't do it? Whether or not the requirement is necessary the government has mandated it and will punish me if I do not meet it.

It is not the government's place to make this choice. As long as I am aware of what building materials are more energy efficient or even which ones are safer (likely thanks to Google), I can make the right choice for myself. Even if I don't make the most energy efficient choice, that isn't going to hurt anybody. However, if the government makes the choice, unnecesary expenses will be forced upon people and their private property. If the government chooses, somebody does get hurt.

Through the state and federal governments, the ICC regulates everything from plumbing and electricity to zoning. What will they regulate next, our rose bushes? I hope that Indiana will not hand over our property rights to Congress and the ICC by passing SB 284. It doesn't set a good precedent to let some committee in D.C. tell us what kind of pipes we can flush our fecal waste through.
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Andy Horning's Contract with Indiana 
Sunday, October 12, 2008, 11:45 PM - Elections, Opinion, Policy
Posted by Administrator
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about my favorite candidate out of all the political races happening around the nation for this November's election. It is Andy Horning, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of Indiana, with his running mate Lisa Kelly for Lieutenant Governor. I had the pleasure of meeting Andy at an LP picnic and Lisa at a meetup event for the Ron Paul campaign. While they are not career politicians, these two candidates have a genuine enthusiasm for political change and the knowledge about issues and policy to back it up (Andy's points in the governor debates were history lessons as much as policy arguments!). Andy and Lisa are also running on a platform that I cannot imagine any Hoosier disagreeing with. They intend to follow the constitutions of the United States and the State of Indiana, the supreme rule of law of our land, and to serve the people of Indiana, not corporations or special interests.

Andy writes on his web site,

I will not abuse or refuse your rights…I will be the first real, constitutional, legal Governor Indiana has had in a hundred years. I will protect your rights, because that's the job, and that's the law.

That's no business. That's called Liberty, and I want it back.

He also writes,

The constitutional job of Governor is to enforce (or Execute) the Indiana Constitution, as well as to enforce federalism under the Constitution of the United States. The Governor swears an oath of office to do this. Should I become Governor, I'd be the first in a very long time to actually keep that oath, and make Indiana The Place To Be for the American Dream…just as the Indiana Constitution demands."

Our current governor, Mitch Daniels, has satisfied many Hoosiers by balancing the budget and attracting some new jobs to the state. However, he has also frustrated many of us and challenged the rule of law by changing our time zones to contradict our geographic location, selling our publicly constructed toll road to a corporation based overseas, attempting to build new toll roads with public-private partnerships by using immanent domain, and most recently supporting a plan to eliminate 90% of elected offices in the state, while placing powers traditionally under the authority of local communities into the hands of the state. (Would you like Child Protective Services to be a local support group or strangers who kidnap your kids and take them to the capitol?) As a teacher, I am also disappointed in Daniels' weak education policy, which stresses an all-day kindergarten program to increase graduation rates, rather than fair education funding which would support the schools most in need (communities in poverty which coincidentally get less state funding) and providing better education at the middle and secondary levels, where chances of graduation change dramatically.

I followed the Democratic primary race for governor in hopes of seeing a strong opposition to Daniels. The Democrats nominated Jill Long Thompson, a very smart woman but not a very promising candidate for governor. In her campaign and in the gubernatorial debates, Thompson has focused a negative campaign against Daniels without offering specific details about what she will do as governor. She has not demonstrated any plan to at least ease property taxes or balance the budget.

When I met Mr. Horning this summer, I finally became very excited about this year's race for governor. Andy has an understanding of political issues which tops that of any other activist I know personally. He studies the issues not as a politician or a lawyer, but as a hard-working American (more than a decade in product development and clinical engineering before residing on a small farm where he home schools three of his five children).

When I read Andy's platform, I realized that he would make a fine candidate for the Boston Tea Party, a young and non-exclusive independent political party which claims the world's smallest political platform" "The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose." With the party quickly growing this election season, I was asked to and accepted the offer to start and run our state affiliate, the Boston Tea Party of Indiana. We focus on solutions that come from the people and the free market, rather than the government. It's time the government stop working like a corporation with a monopoly backed by police and military forces and the world's largest arsenal of firearms, or as Andy Horning would call it, "a dangerous threat; proven by history to be the agent of oppression, slavery, genocide and war."

This Wednesday, Andy Horning, the best candidate in the race for Governor of Indiana, is having a "Contract with Indiana Moneybomb" as a final big fundraiser to air radio ads across the state. The Horning-Kelly challenge to you is, give $10 for each principle you agree with:

1. We promise to end corporate handouts.
2. We promise to obey the constitution, which was written to protect you.
3. We promise to reduce government spending.
4. We promise to cut property taxes by 50%, and replace that property tax with nothing.
5. We promise the freedom to choose your own lifestyle.

Watch the video including clips from Andy's debate appearances at

The only other political campaign I have been this excited about is Congressman Ron Paul's campaign for President. Please look into Andy Horning and send him $10 for each principle you agree with. The people of this state deserve more than the least bad of the two Republicrat candidates to be Governor of Indiana. They deserve the BEST candidate for the job. That candidate is Andy Horning.
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A duopoly on politics keeps candidates off your ballot 
Tuesday, July 29, 2008, 03:51 AM - Elections, News, Opinion, Policy
Posted by Administrator
America's first President George Washington said that political parties "serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests."

President Washington would be disappointed to see the state of American politics today. Two huge political parties hold a near unanimous majority of political offices in America. Only one of our one hundred Senators is an independent (Joe Lieberman), and he is only identified that way because he lost a Democratic primary and ran as an independent (although a Democratic incumbent) against the nominee who beat him. The Democratic and Republican parties control the choice of Americans by offering only one or two choices on an issue, while there are really many more options that must be considered. Often, neither party considers whether or not a decision is constitutional, but the two simply debate about specific aspects of the decision. What is most devastating of all, these two parties have held their duopoly on American politics for so long that they have arranged a system where no citizens from outside their clubs may contest them.

Ballot Access News reported Monday that "Alabama is almost certain to be the only state with no independent or minor party candidates on the ballot this year, for any federal or state office other than president." Darryl W. Perry, who is running as a write-in candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, explained in an interview with me on the IndyTruth Show that the state required him to obtain 37,513 verified signatures of registered voters by June 3, 2008 to get himself on the ballot for Senate. The mp3 of the show including that interview is available here.

What is unusual about the ballot access laws in Alabama is that it only takes 5,000 signatures to get on the ballot for President, even though it takes a much larger number for other statewide elections. Andy Shugart, who is running for U.S. House as an independent in Alabama's 6th congressional district, discovered that 6,155 signatures are required in his district. The U.S. Supreme Court actually ruled in the 1979 case of Illinois State Board of Elections v Socialist Workers Party that "it is unconstitutional for a state to require more signatures for a candidate running for an office that covers just part of the state, than that same state requires for an independent candidate running for statewide office." Therefore, Alabama's ballot access requirements are unconstitutional and illegal.

We face a similar situation here in Indiana. Over the past 75 years, the Democratic and Republican parties that have dominated the state government have increased the signature requirements for state-wide ballot access 64-fold, from 500 signatures in 1933 to 32,741 in 2008. The signature requirement is currently calculated as two percent of the total votes cast in the most recent election for Secretary of State, currently 32,741 signatures.

If a "minor party" candidate can collect enough signatures to get on the ballot for Secretary of State, he can earn statewide ballot access for his party by receiving at least two percent of the vote in the election. The Libertarian Party accomplished this in 1996 and has held on to it since then. They and the two other "major parties" only need to turn in a form to get their candidates on the ballot.

If an independent or minor party candidate is running for another office, such as state representative, he must gather a number of signatures equal to two percent of the vote for Secretary of State in the most recent election in the district in which he is running. These requirements are often also unmanageable for minor parties. The Constitution Party and Green Party rarely run candidates for public office in the state of Indiana because they do not have statewide ballot access and it is expensive and time-consuming to petition for a candidate to get on the ballot. This year, Taxpayer's Party candidate John Waterman and independent Steve Bonney attempted to get on the ballot for governor, and both failed to get the 32,741 signature requirement by the June 30th deadline.

Independent candidate Ralph Nader and Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin did not attempt Indiana ballot access for their 2008 presidential campaigns. The signature requirements were simply unrealistic for them to attain. The Green Party did not nominate its presidential ticket until July, after the June 30th deadline for ballot access petitions in Indiana, so Cynthia McKinney was unable to attempt ballot access here. These three candidates will be on the ballot in most states, enough to win the election. However, none could dream of a spot on the ballot in Indiana this year.

Ballot Access News reports that ten more parties will hold nominating conventions in August and September. Eight of them will not have the opportunity to attempt ballot access for their candidates in Indiana and many other states. The other two are the Democratic and Republican parties, which have very late conventions but are not subject to the same requirements as minor parties.

It is clear that the system for getting candidates on the ballot for elections is unconstitutional and discriminatory. The Republican and Democratic parties, who happen to have crafted the requirements, are not subject to the same rules as most other parties. Minor parties spend resources on petitioning which major parties are not required to do. If a party wants to gain statewide ballot access, it must "put all its eggs into one basket." A minor party could otherwise devote the resources used to attempt two percent of the vote for Secretary of State to candidates that have a better chance of winning in races for smaller offices. These factors put minor parties at a significant disadvantage against major parties in the state of Indiana. We must change these unconstitutional requirements so that Indiana voters have the choices they deserve when they go the polls.
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