Sunday, July 30, 2006

Now really, Larry...

Larry Riley's July 30th offering in the Muncie Star-Press,"How will government live with 'the cap'," presents some interesting facts and figures on some of the problems local governments will face under the new limits the state legislature has placed on property tax rates.

However, I think a greater concern should be, "how will property owners live without the cap"? Here are some more interesting facts and figures. The taxes on my property have increased 450% in the last 25 years. It doesn't really matter if the blame is placed on re-assessment, or higher rates, or the new high school gymnasium. The fact remains that people are losing their homes to taxes, and we need to take whatever action is necessary to stop that travesty.

It may require that schools concentrate solely on education, and not so much on entertainment. It may require that people who want a hiking trail or bicycle path support those trails and paths. It may require that people who prefer libraries over the Internet pay for those libraries.

Local government places one of the highest burdens on it's citizens, and we need to assure, at both the state and local level, that the taxes we pay are spent wisely, and for legitimate government functions.

Is that to much to ask?

Monday, July 24, 2006

On Property Rights and Zoning...

Libertarians are generally opposed zoning, and I'm generally opposed to it myself. One of the basic tenets of property rights is that people can decide what to do on and with their property. For various reasons, a lot of people have a hard time accepting the concept of no zoning. Reasonable arguments have certainly been made concerning the consequences of certain uses of property on neighboring property, but many current zoning laws go far beyond offering reasonable protection.

I can see no reason to prevent my neighbor from opening a barbershop, or building a garage that is taller than his house, or selling sweet corn from his front yard. People that require such control over their neighbors can certainly achieve it by living in developments with deed restrictions and protective covenants.

In order to maintain a little decorum in the neighborhood, I would propose some simple zoning requirements, that would maintain reasonable distances between seemingly incompatible entities. Communities might set different standards, and I won't try to list all possible combinations here, but I would like to address one issue that is getting a lot of attention in my area right now.

Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFO's, are being built all over Indiana, and Wayne, Henry and Randolph counties are all trying to deal with them as best they can. Under current zoning laws, a person can build a new home in an area that is zoned residential, and a company can then apply to build a CAFO next door. The people making the decision, the local Board of Zoning Appeals, most likely don't own property in the area, and will not be affected by their decision.

Under a simplified set of zoning ordinances, a CAFO couldn't be built within a pre-determined distance, (perhaps 2000 feet) of an existing home. If a company wanted to build a CAFO within that setback, it would have to seek a variance from the affected homeowners. The homeowners and the company could strike whatever deal they wish, and BZA members, such as myself, who might live miles away, would have no input in the matter.

It's by no means a perfect plan, and no doubt could use some tweaking, but it's far better than asking someone you don't even know if your grandchildren can open a lemonade stand.

On Property Rights and Smoking Bans...

I put a lot of stock in private property rights. I think those rights made America great and proud, and protecting those rights will help keep America great and proud.

I have a neighbor that smokes. I also have a brother that smokes. I know it's not healthy, and they know it's not healthy. I wish they would quit, but I also know that is a choice they will have to make.

I do have a rule that nobody may smoke in our house, and my wife has a rule that nobody can smoke in her store. I think that is how it is supposed to work. I don't have the right to tell someone they can't smoke, or allow other people to smoke, on their property.

And since I don't have that right, the people I elect don't have that right. And since one person doesn't have that right, two people don't have that right. Neither does 100 people, or 1000 people, or a million people.

As I said before, I put a lot of stock in private property rights, and as an elected official or a private citizen, I will do all I can to protect them for everybody.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thanks to Karen Miller and Phyllis and Myron Bell for helping out at the Spiceland Freedom Days Parade.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Property Taxes....Phooey

I don't try to hide my contempt for property taxes. The fact that someone could work their entire life to secure a home and then lose it to a sheriff's sale because politicians can't control their spending is repulsive to me, and it should be repulsive to all Hoosiers. One of my goals as the District 54 Representative would be to eliminate all confiscatory taxes, with property taxes being at the top of the list.

I realize accomplishing this goal will be a gradual process, and while are phasing property taxes out, I believe we can make them more fair and more equal for all property owners, instead of giving breaks to the ones that are in current favor of the ruling party, while the ones that have fallen out of favor make up the difference.

The Libertarian Party proposed a formula for calculating property taxes a few years back, and it makes a lot of sense. It is based on "flat" system that would treat all land the same, all residences the same, all commercial buildings the same, and all manufacturing buildings the same. Taxing all homes at the same rate per square foot would not penalize homeowners for improving their property, as assessors do now, and taxing all land the same would prevent a landowner from being penalized if the county fathers decided to rezone that land, say from agricultural to commercial. As an added bonus, we could eliminate the assessors office and all of the descretionary decisions and assessments it produces.

Greg Kelver, the Libertarian candidate for District 20 House seat from up in LaPorte County put some numbers together. These examples contain a flat parcel fee, plus the land and structure fees. How do they compare with what you are paying now?

1400 SF Residential Structure on 1/2 acre
Basic Parcel Fee 1 x $240 = $240.00
Land Tax 21,780 SF x $.ooo1 = $2.17
Structure Tax 1400 SF x $.20 = $280.00
Total Flat Tax $522.17

80 Acre Farm Field
Basic Parcel Fee 1 x $240 = $240.00
Land Tax 3,484,800 SF x $.0001 = $348.48
Structure Tax 0 SF x $.20 =$0
Total Flat Tax = $588.48

20,000 SF Light Mfg. Building on 3 Acre Site
Basic Parcel Fee 1 x $240 = $240.00
Land Tax 130,680 SF x $.0001 = $13.07
Structure Tax 20,000 SF x $.30 = $6000.00
Total Flat Tax = $6253.07

3000 SF Commercial Store on 1/4 Acre Site
Basic Parcel Fee 1 x $240 = $240.00
Land Tax 10,890 SF x $.ooo1 = $1.09
Structure Tax 3,000 SF x $.60 = $1800.00
Total Flat Tax = $2041.09

Admittidly, these numbers might not look so good if you are among the chosen ones that recieve the tax abatements, but they seem a lot better if you are the one paying extra so someone else can get those abatements.

The numbers might change county to county or city to city, but the local politicians could be held accountable for those changes, good or bad. And if a community has been saddled with the debt of a grandiose school or jail by a bunch of free spending officials, the people who choose to remain will still have bonds to pay. But the fact that you can't stop the pain after someone sucker punches you in the nose doesn't mean that you can't stop them from punching you again.

A simple, fair and understandable tax system, coupled with limited government intrusion and responsible spending that results in lower taxes for all Hoosiers, is the system we need to attract responsible, viable businesses to locate Indiana, and to keep and encourage growth of existing businesses.

That's economic developement the way it should be.

This plan probably won't allow the politicians and bureaucrats to collect enough money to fund all of their pet projects, but as I've said over on TheBellCurve,
that's not why I'm running

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Lets make a Deal-Redux

Here's a reprint I've moved to the campaign site....

I've got a friend who works for one my suppliers that is an unapologetic socialist. I normally try to avoid politically oriented discussions with him because they so seldom accomplish anything. But the other day, our conversation somehow meandered into that arena, and I nearly choked when he stated that government might be involved in a few more areas of our lives than is really necessary. He then quickly said that even though this might be the case, he was worried that if the Libertarians were in charge, we might trim things too much.

Well, we were able to strike a deal. I'm going to try to get the Libertarian nomination for the District 54 seat in the House of Representatives. If I win the nomination, Jim is going to vote for me. If I win the election, I'm going to use every opportunity to reduce the size, scope and cost of our government. If we get enough Libertarians elected, we might actually return it to it's Constitutionally mandated limits.

But if, during this transformation, the government gets too small to suit Jim's tastes, I promise there will a lot of Republicans and Democrats that he can vote for that would just love to make it big again. It's almost one of those "win-win" situations politicians like to talk about.

How's that for a deal?

Why and What-Redux

This is a post from January when I announced that I was running for District 54 seat. I just moved it and a couple of other previous posts to my campaign page....

I announced today that I am seeking the Libertarian Party's nomination for the House of Representatives District 54 seat. A good friend of mine, who is not sympathetic of the libertarian philosophy, asked " why in the world would you want to do that, and what in the world do you think you can accomplish?" I know it was a rhetorical question, and he really didn't want an answer, but being a libertarian, I never pass up an opportunity to ramble on, so here's why, and what.

I'm running to give people who want a limited government a chance to vote for it. Not just the Libertarians that want limited government, but the Republicans and Independents and yes, even the Democrats out there that want limited government. I know there are a lot of those people out there. I've seen them and I've talked to them. They just haven't had a way to vote for it. I'm hope to change that.

I don't have a lot to offer to people that want an unlimited government. But that's okay. They don't really need me anyway. They already have a lot of options. They can vote for the Republican candidate. Or they can vote for the Democrat candidate. Or they can not vote at all. Any of these actions or inactions will move us closer to unlimited government, unlimited taxation, and unlimited regulation. That is how it has worked in the past, that is how it is working now, and nothing has convinced me it will be any different in the future.

So that is why I'm running.

As to what I hope to accomplish, well, I've narrowed that down to three things. Number one, of course, is that I hope to win. That is not as far fetched as it once would have been. The county Libertarians have been putting up some impressive numbers the last couple of elections. Races where we have garnered 25%, 30%, 38% and even 61% of the vote. Needless to say, we won that last one. As more and more people get fed up with the tax and spend policies of the two major parties, our chances keep getting better. And in the three way race that I hope to be in, 34% could send me to Indy.

Of course, there does exist the possibility that I could win the nomination and still lose the election. Not something I like to think about, but a possibility, none the less. But, if in the course of that loss, I am able to collect enough votes to affect the outcome of the race, perhaps the other parties would consider it in their best interests to adopt some libertarian ideas into their platform. Just as the Republicans and Democrats carried the socialist agenda when it was politically expedient for them, they can certainly help carry the libertarian banner now that the pendulum is swinging back in our direction. And I can live with that for a while.

Of course, as Arlo Guthie found out from Officer Obie, there is a third possibility I would rather not consider at all. There is the possibility that I win the nomination, lose the election, and have absolutely no effect on anything or anybody. I truly hope that doesn't happen, but if it does, I will at least be able to look my soon to arrive grandchildren in the eye and swear that I did my best to preserve for them a little bit of freedom.

That's what I hope to accomplish.