November 6 – Texas Constitution Amendment Vote

Have you ever read the Texas Constitution? It’s a mess. Check it out, here. There’s been a movement underfoot for years now to replace the outdated state constitution with a version that makes a little more sense (it’s not like we haven’t done that a dozen times before, don’t see the problem with doing it again) but it never amounts to much of anything.

I only mention it because it’s once again time to amend the Constitution, as we seem to do every year here in Texas, and I’m consequently reminded of the idiocy of the current state of our government here.

Anyway, there are 16 amendments this year, which is more than the average year. There are several guides to what the different amendments mean; ranging from the tried and true League of Women Voters to the how can this not be biased guide published on the Texas Legislature’s site. (I don’t know about bias, but I do know that it would take a scholar to find it. 136 pages of wind. Sheesh) There’s even one from the local LP, which I’ll append to this blog entry.

The reason I feel compelled to write something on this anniversary of the annual vote-me-a-benny spending spree is because of the fifteenth amendment on the list, the one that everyone’s favorite biking hero has been cheapening himself shilling for.

Yes, I have a problem with being taxed so that Texas can have their own inefficient version of the NIH, and spend even more money on ill-advised gov’t backed research into cancer than the federal gov’t currently does.

You may well ask “why”, and you better believe I have an answer. It’s because I don’t like theft. It’s bad enough when the state steals from me when it wants to build roads (which it now wants to charge me tolls to drive on) or when it wants to indoctrinate, er, educate children (and pays too much for schools I wouldn’t want to send my neighbor’s kids too, much less my own) at least those types of massively over-funded boondoggles can be justified on the basis that they could benefit everyone in Texas.

Not so the TIH (or maybe it’ll be called TICR, but that sounds like heart research) the expenditures there will benefit only the researchers.

Oh, but I hear you saying “what about the benefit of new cancer cures, those will apply to everyone in Texas” What’s my response to that? The cures will only benefit those who can afford to pay. That’s right boys and girls, just like paying to build stadiums that you then have to pay to attend (or roads that you have to pay to drive on after paying for them to be built) we get to pay for research into medical treatments that we will then have to pay for in order to receive.

Those of us who still have sufficient funds to pay with, that is. Consequently, I’m not exactly gung ho on the subject of giving a few more of my rapidly disappearing dollars to the state so that they can spend it on things they will want to turn around and charge me for.

How about this for a suggestion; I’ll keep my portion of the dollars, and you can bill me for my portion of the research costs if I ever need cancer treatment (or drive on the new roads, or go to a stadium event, etc) Of course, the argument runs “well, you won’t have the treatments (or roads, or stadiums, etc) later if we don’t pay for them now.

I’ve got news on that front too. I won’t be here if my tax burden gets much higher. I’ll be taking up residence under the 360 bridge with the rest of the homeless.

…I guess I really shouldn’t worry. Hillary will be elected next November, and I’m sure she’ll be re-introducing her socialized medicine, er, single payer health care proposal; as well as putting a chicken in every pot, no doubt. Cancer treatment will be free then, right?

So, why is Texas wanting to pay for research now, then? Anyone care to follow the money on this issue?


Travis County Libertarians release constitutional amendments voter guide

AUSTIN – October 18, 2007 – The Travis County Libertarian Party (TCLP) executive committee has adopted positions on 12 of the 16 Texas constitutional amendment propositions to appear on the November 6 ballot.

For: 7, 10, 11, 14
Against: 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 13, 15, 16
No position: 3, 5, 6, 9

Propositions 3, 5, 6, and 9 generated debate among Libertarians. On the one hand, they appear to provide some tax relief. On the other hand, they are targeted toward narrow special-interest groups to buy votes and provide sound bites for re-election campaigns, while the legislature keeps raising spending and shifting the tax burden onto others. Libertarians favor broad-based tax and spending cuts, rather than more complexity and special-interest pandering.

During the debate, some Libertarians expressed the principle, “When in doubt, vote no.”

These are the TCLP positions, with brief explanations:

1. AGAINST (Angelo State University governance change) This would be more than a simple change in hierarchy. It would allow
spending, tuition, and fees to increase.

2. AGAINST (Additional $100 million bonds for student loans) Bonds cause future tax increases. Government subsidies to students enable university bureaucrats to keep raising tuition and fees. Student debt upon graduation has skyrocketed in the past ten years, and we shouldn’t encourage that trend with more tax dollars.

3. No position (Tweaking appraisal cap rules)

4. AGAINST ($1 billion in bonds for state facilities) Libertarians support less spending on state facilities, not more.

5. No position (Tax incentives for down town revitalization programs)

6. No position (Tax exemptions for personal vehicles used for business)

7. FOR (Eminent domain buy-back rights)
This would provide a small amount of protection in some cases. However, the 2007 legislature failed to pass stronger protections against eminent domain, and this is a perfect case where politicians are likely to mislead voters by claiming they support eminent domain reform more than they really do.

8. AGAINST (Home equity loan regulations)
Libertarians believe in free markets and personal responsibility. This amendment would increase government interference with the loan process.

9. No position (Disabled veteran tax exemptions)

10. FOR (Abolish office of inspector of hides and animals)
Libertarians support eliminating the obsolete minor office of Inspector of Hides and Animals. We wish this amendment would also eliminate the State Board of Education, which would represent a real cut in government.

11. FOR (Require record votes on bill passage)
This would allow voters to actually find out how their representatives voted on final passage of a bill. More accountability is good.

12. AGAINST ($5 billion in bonds for Texas Transportation Commission)
The government already does a terrible job of spending transportation tax dollars, and we should not provide new revenue sources.

13. AGAINST (Denial of bail to some offenders)
This has a “tough on crime” sound to it, but it violates constitutional rights to bail and is unnecessary. America has the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world. The state should focus on removing victimless crimes from the books to reduce incarceration and promote a stronger civil society, rather than imposing ever-increasing criminal penalties on every unwise action.

14. FOR (Permit judges who reach mandatory retirement age to serve out their terms)
Let elderly judges work if they want to.

15. AGAINST ($3 billion for a Cancer Research Institute)
Medical research is not a legitimate function of government. Funding for medical research should stay in the private sector. There is plenty of profit motive in seeking patents for drugs and medical devices, and if that weren’t enough, there is also a great deal of funding provided by voluntary charitable donations.

16. AGAINST ($250 million in bonds for water development to poor unincorporated colonias)
Developers build neighborhoods without providing and paying for infrastructure like water, then want other taxpayers to pay for water and wastewater services for their developments. Wrong. Development should pay for itself without outside tax subsidies.
Early voting starts October 22 and ends November 2. Election day is Tuesday, November 6.

Contact:
Wes Benedict, TCLP Chair
512-442-4910
wesliberty@aol.com


For the purpose of completeness, I’ll add this addendum. It looks like we’ll be getting TICR,;getting a high profile celebrity to back spending your tax dollars (rather than celebrities spending their own private funds) always gets the public behind a project. Amendment 15 passed with 61% in favor. (source, Texas SOS)

Most of the amendments passed by 10 to 20 percent margins. With only about 5% of the population voting (One million of the over 20 million reported in the last census) I wonder how much the vote was skewed by targeted advertising, and how it might have been skewed differently if all those people who are certain that voting is a waste of time (because all the amendments will pass anyway) had gotten off their fat asses and gone to vote.

I guess it’s true that we create our world through our (in)actions.

Guitartown Auction Results

Cybertar

Cybertar sold for a respectable $5,500 last night. I’m not going to complain about that price, although the artist did. I tried to explain to her that she didn’t go for the cute factor, didn’t have a famous person’s signature on the sculpture (and wasn’t already famous herself. Yet) or incorporate a famous person in the composition (although it does say “Dell” in about 4 places) and didn’t do the cultural equivalent of scream “Keep Austin Weird” somewhere in the piece. If she had done that, a five figure price would have been guaranteed.


This observation lead to jokes concerning incorporating flashing LED’s into the body of the guitar, something that would be bound to get any geek to pull out his wallet. LED’s that spelled out “Keep Austin Weird”? Top seller


The full results of the auction can be found at the Julien’s website. A grand total of $693,000 raised for charities in and around Austin.

Trip to the Light Fantastic
Reflections of Austin
Striking Texas Gold

The big winners of the night were also the ones that I personally found most impressive; Trip to the Light Fantastic, Reflections of Austin and Striking Texas Gold. The reason they are impressive might not be apparent in the photos. All of them are 360 degree mosaics (all of the surfaces are covered) of tiny little pieces of glass or stone, all of them meticulously glued into place by hand. How they got them finished in the time allotted is a mystery to me.

Fractal

Most underrated painted guitar: Fractal; it’s a picture, inside a picture, inside a picture, inside a guitar. Or maybe I just looked into opposing mirrors too much as a child.

Gibson Tree

Most underrated sculpture: Gibson Tree; This sculpture was featured on the cover of XL, and it still didn’t draw more than a 10,000 price. This was also an impressive display in the amount of time invested by the artist (the stand was molded to look like a tree trunk that the guitar had been carved out of) If any artist at the auction had reason to be disgruntled, this artist does.

Several of the guitars were donated back to the city for redisplay on the streets of Austin. While I can appreciate the charity of this action, I have to wonder who will be responsible for maintenance of the artwork once it’s back out on the street. I can’t imagine that the artists will be willing to continue maintaining the art for free; and as a libertarian, I don’t really think the gov’t should be saddled with this cost to be paid for at taxpayer expense. Maybe a private organization will step forward and offer to maintain the art, as has been done in other cities with public art displays. Only time will tell.


I left out the T-shirts. While at the auction, we stopped at a table for Wiskyclothing.com. They were selling T-shirts with a nice guitar collage on them, as well as shirts with your favorite guitar only. To quote S.C. Essai:

They are a bit pricey but then again… they are very very nicely printed. Not iron on transfer like Cafe Press. They “FEEL GOOD” is the best way I can describe them. They are printed on very comfy and durable t-shirts. I checked it out myself.
So.. what the heck.. feel like it ? Buy a shirt!

…and yes, the artists get a commission on shirt sales; so I’ll be buying at least one.


Remember all those funky 10-foot-tall guitar sculptures that were standing around town most of the year? They were part of a public arts project sponsored by – who else? – Gibson Guitar, to brighten up our cityscape for a year (and get the name of Gibson out there, natch). They were plucked from their perches a few weeks ago, so they could be auctioned off for charity, and so they were on Oct. 17. A crowd of 500 packed GSD&M’s Idea City to bid on (and watch others bid on) the 35 10-foot-tall guitars and 30 regular-sized guitars that had been transformed into works of art. Lone Star songster Ray Wylie Hubbard served as emcee, while international auctioneers Julien’s Auctions supervised the sales. They were brisk – Reflections of Austin, by Shanny Lott, and Striking Texas Gold, by Diane Sonnenberg, went for $55,000 apiece – and overall the Austin GuitarTown Auction Gala brought in $589,000. That wealth will be spread among four area charities: the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, the Austin Museum of Art, American YouthWorks, and the Austin Children’s Museum.

Austin Chronicle, GuitarTown Project: Going, going, gone!

The Best Laid Plans: Transportation

Another CATO daily podcast episode featuring Randal O’Toole; I think I may have to buy his book. Sort of a follow-up to Zoning’s Best Laid Plans this one discusses the shell game of mass transit vs highway funding. Very informative.

The Best Laid Plans: Transportation

There’s also Debunking Portland: The City That Doesn’t Work for those Austinites curious to know what your city planning department wants to subject you to.

Doug Benson at Cap City Comedy Club

This is becoming a habit; a habit that makes me laugh. Can there be harm in that?

When I heard that the 6th funniest person in the world was going to be at Cap City this week, I jumped at the chance to sit in on one of his shows. All I can say is, if Last Comic Standing is accurate (tongue firmly in cheek here. See my previous post) then I better stay away from the shows featuring the top three. I might die of a heart attack.

Doug Benson was one of the finalists on LCS that I intended to see if he ever came to town (Cap City isn’t listed as an official tour location at LCS’ site) I’m glad he made the trip.

This is the part where, if I was trying to write a real review, I would try to describe the type of comedy that Doug Benson does (an herbalist with a passion for his subject of choice…?) A task that most people fail at horribly. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I don’t have to try, I can take the easy way out and just point you to his clips on Comedy Central or YouTube, and save myself the time and embarrassment of trying to describe why I find him funny.

[I will say this; I watched him wander around the stage for an hour with a mic cord tied around one leg, and a mic stand rolling around behind him, waiting for him to trip over either of them. He managed not to do that, and even climbed the angle iron stage display at one point, without killing himself; only to miss the last step coming off the stage as his set was over (bad architecture, not clumsiness) and nearly break his neck tripping over our table. First time I ever felt the need to apologize to a comic for laughing at him]

So, watch the clips. If you think that’s funny, go see him in person. I guarantee it’ll be better than the clips. Just go.

Oh, wait. There’s a clip embedded right in the post. Too cool…


Did I mention The Marijuana-Logues? Super High Me? (a preview of which is showing at Drafthouse Lake Creek at 4:20 Saturday as a part of the Austin Film Festival; yes, it starts this week!) He was hawking some other disk that I just completely spaced on. Wish I could remember the title…

(Comedy Death Ray yeah, that was it. And I need to try some McGriddles, apparently…)

Alamo Drafthouse, 9/20: Monty Python & the Holy Grail Ale

…And now for something completely different.

Live improvisation, good beer and a Monty Python film. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.

Click for showtimes.


…and today I get the response:

Howzcom you have a different date for this?
http://www.originalalamo.com/Show.aspx?id=4770

I was planning on going Wed Sep 26th (Village).
(It was sold-out for Wed Sep 12)
I know! You are trying to keep the *real* date from
getting sold-out, right? Sneaky!

Wanna get a mob together and go?

Well Actually, I have a different date because, rather than go to the trouble of going to the Alamo Drafthouse website and clicking on the very prominent advertisement on the front page, I decided to search the web and went to the drafthouse link I found there. The fact that I might stumble across a showing that wasn’t in Austin never even crossed my mind until Barbara pointed out the date discrepancy. When I checked with the ticket seller, I realized that I probably should have dug a little deeper before posting the info. My bad.

(In hindsight I probably should have gone with the “‘it’s all a clever plan” defense. It would have made me look clever, at least)

So, the show date is actually 9/26 at the Alamo Village, if you would rather go to a local showing, rather than driving all the way to San Antonio. I’ll leave that up to you.

XL features Guitartown

That small piece of artwork that I helped complete a while back (and wrote about here) has been featured in the XL portion of the Austin American-Statesman.

Here’s a link to the story and the photo gallery.

Here’s the important part:

‘CYBERTAR’

Where: Outside the Littlefield Building, 106 E. Sixth St.

S.C. Essai’s sly ‘Cybertar’ communicates on multiple levels. Made from ‘dead computer parts’ Essai has collected over her years working in the tech industry, the geek-chic guitar represents Austin to the core. ‘This is sort of a way to merge elements of Austin, merge the high-tech with the music,’ she says. ‘I’m one of not a whole lot of people whose art is made from spare computer parts. And the name I use is part of the art itself. SCSI is an abbreviation that stands for Small Computer Systems Interface.’ Very clever. Essai painted the individual pieces and worked diligently to sculpt them into the (difficult, it turns out) contours of her fiberglass canvas.

Cybertar

March 15, 2019. I cannot find a single working link to any of the Gibson Guitartown information that was easily accessible at the time that I wrote this piece. The Statesman has hit hard times and no longer keeps records online where they can be found. Gibson has also removed all the data to an archive that is a pale reflection of what existed previously. I may have to reach out to the people who put the original pages together and find out if there is any way to get them onto the Wayback machine so that this period in history is not lost to the future. This is something we are going to have to take much more seriously.

June 23rd Serenity Screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Downtown, Drafthouse closing that week

The link for the event:
http://austin.cantstoptheserenity.com/

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007
Alamo Drafthouse Downtown
Time and Special Guests TBA
Schedule of Events TBA

Can’t Stop the Serenity 2006 raised over $65,000 for Equality Now, and we are looking to raise $100,000 in 2007!

For more information about the screening, visit our Theatre page (coming soon). We are in need of volunteers. See our Get Involved! page, as well as our News section below to keep apprised of our volunteer opportunties and descriptions. We are also looking for individuals and businesses to donate items to be used for our raffle and silent auctions. Based on donations and sponsorships, we will try to offer door prizes. More information about that will be available in our News and Theatre section.

Long on talk, very short on pertinent information (such as availability of tickets)

The calendar for the theatre holding the event:
http://www.originalalamo.com/Calendar.aspx?l=2

Which does not (at this writing) have any events for the month of June at the Drafthouse Downtown.

As a side note, This event will occur 4 days prior to the closing of the Downtown Alamo Drafthouse, the “Original Alamo”. It will be reopening on 6th street in the newly remodeled Ritz theatre. http://originalalamo.blogspot.com/2007/04/its-official-final-day-at-alamo-is-june.html

I’ve never been fond of the downtown location for the Drafthouse, and I think the Ritz will be a nice step up for them. On the other hand, the Drafthouse has been at it’s current location for 10 years now, so it’s closing will be a bit of an event. One that I’m also hoping to attend.

It’s at this point in the post that I’d like to mention that Tim League completely stole this whole “restaurant in a theatre” idea from me, and the move to the Ritz proves it. It was at an office party held in the building that was/will be the Ritz, about 17 years ago, that I first conceived of the idea.

Three beers down, playing pool with a few co-workers, I look up and notice that the ‘screenwall’ of the former theatre dominates the room, screaming for something to be shown on it. And it suddenly hit me, why not? Why not serve food and drinks, maybe even play pool, while watching a film?

The difference between Tim and I is, I just talked about it, he went out and did it.
Congrats on 10 years Tim. Here’s hoping for 10 more that are just as successful.


Still not much information on the Can’t Stop the Serenity page; however, the event is now up at Alamo Drafthouse downtown (if you look closely at the date on the calendar, you’ll notice it’s only one of three tributes to Joss on that day. Seems it’s his birthday or something…) The Last Night at the Alamo event is also posted.

Special needs and Government Schools

One of the arguments in favor of government schools that I frequently hear is how the private schools cannot handle the requirements of special needs children, and how only the government funding of schools allows for the proper education of these children.

I happen to know that this is a fabrication. I have watched a close friend engage in the endlessly frustrating task of trying to find a school, any school, which can meet the requirements of educating her special needs child. The charter schools were simply disappointing, because they have so far failed to deliver on their promises of being able to teach her child. At least, with the charter schools, it was a simple matter to find another charter that might do the job better.

The government school (frequently mislabeled as public school) was a complete disaster by comparison. After taking months preparing an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for her son, which she was involved with to such a large extent that she even attended school classes with him in order to help guide his progress; the school decided they couldn’t educate him the first day that they were left alone with him, and called the police to have him arrested (he’s 10) for leaving his classroom.

What the police would have done is anybodies guess, but the crisis was averted by her timely arrival and permanent removal of her son from the only available school system in her area.


Enter Texas SB 1000, which will allow the parents of children with autism to receive vouchers so that they can seek an education for their children outside the restrictions of the government run system. She’s understandably interested in this bill’s passage. So am I, but for different reasons.

I have paid for private school for my children, and found charter schools for them when I could no longer afford private school. The government school system is so lackluster that I wouldn’t subject even normal children to it, much less one whose needs are more demanding than others. I have supported vouchers for Texas in the past, and I will do it again in the future. I think that providing vouchers to children with Autism is an excellent test, a chance to prove how much better an open market can deal with the requirements of educating the children of Texas.

Naturally, the supporters of state schooling are foursquare against this proposal, because they understand the threat that vouchers pose to their ill-performing monopoly. They are so frightened by this that they would do anything to defeat the proposal.


Enter the former mayor of Austin, Kirk Watson. He’s moved up in the world, taking over the designated Democrat representative seat in the State Senate, replacing the drunken Gonzalo Barrientos as the senate representative for the Austin area.

Far from being the friend of business that he has been credited with being, Watson has proven himself to be a pretty predictably average mercantilist or corporatist, handing out favors to large corporations and interest groups while mayor of Austin, and stifling small businesses and individuals with ill-founded proposals, such as the recent toll road proposals.

Watson is, also predictably, against vouchers. I’ll let him speak for himself:

Subject: Autism Services Accessibility
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 11:58:46 -0500
From: Senator Kirk Watson

Dear Mr. Steele:

Thank you for your letter regarding your support of Senate Bill 1000, relating to the use of public money for private school tuition for children with autism. I appreciate you sharing your views with me.
I am committed to ensuring that we have an adequate and equitable funding structure for public education. The issue of vouchers has always been a controversial one, and I believe that we must carefully consider the options available for public school funding before we come to any decision regarding alternative education systems. We need to find ways to strengthen public schools and not weaken them by draining them of money and students.
I support providing teachers and teacher’s aides with up-to-date information and training on programs and best practices on educating students with disabilities. I also support keeping parents well-informed on and involved in their child’s education.
To that end, I have filed several bills to improve public school services to children with disabilities.
  • Senate Bill 1490, which requires the Texas Education Agency to update the Guide to the Admission Review and Dismissal (ARD) Process to ensure that teachers have current information on the process by which an individualized education program (IEP) is developed for a student in a special education program and the rights and responsibilities of a parent concerning the process;
  • Senate Bill 1491, which permits the Texas Education Commissioner to make grants, consisting primarily of federal funds, to school districts to cover the high cost of educating students with disabilities;
  • Senate Bill 1625, which allows a teacher to be more involved in the development and implementation of a child’s IEP and to request any necessary training to ensure the child’s needs are met; and
  • Senate Bill 1686, which allows parents and teachers to discuss and consider teacher qualifications and the need for teacher training with the ARD committee for their school. This committee reviews the special education programs and personnel for each school and helps establish the individual education program for each student who requires special education.
I appreciate that you took time to contact my office. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance to you in the future.
Sincerely,
Kirk Watson

Personally, I don’t think he’s that sincere. If he was sincere, he might have taken the time to remember a few facts before replying to my letter with his standard boilerplate response.

Facts like these:

The public school system already costs (at least) twice as much as private school, where teachers are selected by parents to teach exactly what and how the parents want. “Draining the school of students and funds” in that light yields a net gain to the Texas taxpayer, and a benefit to the children of Texas by allowing them to attend schools of their choice rather than forcing them into a one-size-fits-all, centralized, micro managed, antiquated system.

Looked at from another perspective, adding another facet to the already over-burdened bureaucracy in order to deal with special needs children simply adds an even greater expense to a government school system that is already cash strapped and in need of re-organization. Allowing children with special education needs to leave the government school system assures that these children will get the education they need without exacting a greater cost on a system that is already stressed to the breaking point.

Or these:

Four bills introduced with the best intentions at heart, I’m sure. All of which will do exactly what I predict, increase the cost of administrating the schools by adding another facet to the already overly complex state school requirements. They will increase the cost of training teachers to meet every eventuality, rather than allowing them to specialize in the types of children they wish to teach.

Four bills, all of whose goals could be met, simply by allowing the parents to take their children and their money out of the system. Which is what the one bill, SB1000 will do.

Why don’t we do what the parents of children with Autism are asking us to do? Let their children out of the system. It’s the smart thing to do, for so many different reasons.

Freedom (of expression) or Empire?

Caught news of the roll out of Star Wars themed collection bins on Keith Olbermann the other night (I’m sure I’m not the only one; according to their stats, it’s the most DVR’d program on TV. Glad I could help, Keith) A friend of mine sent me a picture of the R2D2 bin in Austin today, along with a link to a goofily mocked up video of a letter being inserted into R2D2 by Princess Leia (www.uspsjedimaster.com) that probably could have been done better by any of the special effects people I’ve met here in Austin.

Cybertar

If there was any truth in advertising, the postmen would be dressed up to look like Stormtroopers (heralded over by a postmaster general garbed like a leering Emperor Palpatine) rather than bins painted up to look like freedom loving androids; but then I guess I’m just nitpicking. I don’t have a serious beef with the post office, I just don’t appreciate all the snail mail spam that they insist on bringing me.

True artwork doesn’t come in the form of a repetitively decaled mail bin, anyway. True artwork can be found one block up the street from the R2D2 bin on Congress Ave, in front of the Littlefield Building at 6th and Congress; the location selected for S.C. Essai’s Cybertar (I blogged on the subject of finishing this behemoth of a project several months ago)

There is a map to all of the Guitartown displays on the Guitartown website. I haven’t seen any of them that I didn’t like.

Why I am a Libertarian – Liberator Article

I’m rehashing an old subject here, trying to update it for publishing in the Austin Liberator. As I pointed out in the recent blog post The Vote, I pulled the lever next to “L” again this year, just as I have for the last 10 plus years. I do this because I vote my conscience, rather than worry about wasting a vote.

The only wasted vote is the vote cast for a lesser evil, rather than being cast for a greater good. I vote and refer to myself as a Libertarian, and I do it with pride.


I am a libertarian because I believe in the concept of limited government. When I mention this fact to someone, I usually get the response “But you’re really a Republican, aren’t you?” Nothing could be further from the truth. I tolerate conservatives, but I’m not one of their kin.

Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat’s benign rule. However, I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted (with tacit Democrat support) or why the term “Politically Correct” was ever coined (by a Democrat) Even when the Democrats dominated the legislature and Democrats held the Presidency, social liberty never increased.

When the Republicans came to power, they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a bad thing. Having more of my money to dispose of as I wished seemed like a good thing to me. Having less government interference in my life was one of my goals, as well. I thought I might have something in common with Republicans after all.

Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller, even when the Republicans dominated the legislatures, and a Republican held the Presidency. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation of Americans went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us, and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?

When I was told “read my lips” and then watched taxes rise anyway, and when I heard “It depends on what the definition of is is” used as an excuse to cover the questionable activities of a president (activities that were the least egregious of the impeachable offenses that he could have been charged with) I began to see the truth that I know today; If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he’s most likely lying.

I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only help that government can give; and it doesn’t even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.

Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system; less force means more freedom.

Jefferson, Adams and the others who founded this country understood this. The Democratic party (I was told) was the party of Jefferson. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the limited government principles of Jefferson and the founders were abandoned by the Democrats in the 1940 election. this brings us back to the Nolan chart and the LP.

Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian. Jefferson was solidly so. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians, and it’s been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, not just a political misfit.

Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government.

If there is a core libertarian belief, then this is a good portion of it; that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history.

These were the beliefs of our nation’s founders, and because I claim these same principles as my own, I must be a libertarian.


Editor’s note.  I am no longer libertarian. I reject the label, and most of the philosophy behind the label.  The reasons for this are complex, and I haven’t quite worked it all out and written it down yet.  Still, I’m certain that Libertarians are aspiring to something that I see as dystopic in nature.  But that is another story. I hope I get around to writing it.