Sunday, December 31, 2006

Homicides in Allen County

According to the Journal Gazette homicides fell to a 10 year low in Allen County this year. There have been 18 homicides this year. There were 31 homicides last year.

Sometimes I think I focus on too many negative things on my blog.

I am glad that the homicides in Allen County dropped to 18. This is good news.

The full story can be found at the Jounral Gazette:
<http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/16354656.htm>

Mike Sylvester

President Ford's funeral has minimal attendence from elected officials

I have never been a big fan of "State" funerals in The United States; however, many people in the United States seem to enjoy the pomp and circumstance...

There have been many stories bouncing around the internet and local blogs about the fact that incoming Democratic Majority leader Harry Reid is skipping the funeral. I have heard many people on the right take extreme exception to this...

All of these poeple need to read the article in today's Journal Gazette entitled "D.C. Statesmen skip ceremonies."

The story can be found here: <http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/news/16354594.htm>

If many on the "right are mad that Harry Reid did not attend the funeral of Ford what do they think about the following:
President Bush chose NOT to attend the funeral of a past Republican President. This is a
MAJOR slap and makes Harry Reid's choice minor!
Only 35 of the 535 members of Congress attended the funeral.
3 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices attended.

Very few elected officials attended the funeral...

Mike Sylvester

Friday, December 29, 2006

Death by hanging

Saddam Hussein is to be hung tonight at 10 PM EST. There are a lot of things about this that deserve discussion:

1. He was an evil man and I think he should be put to death.
2. I like hanging as a punishment. One of the positive effects of punishment should be
deterrence. I think that capital punishment should be VISIBLE to the public.
3. It will be interesting to see what happens to the levels of violence in Iraq after this. I
certainly hope that there is not a surge in violence because I do not want to see more of our
soldiers killed. I am afraid there will be a rather large surge in violence.
4. It disturbs me a great deal that he will stay in US custody until a few minutes before the
execution. This shows me that we do not trust the Iraqi government to do something as
simple as having Hussein in their custody for ANY length of time... This is scary folks.

Read the story here:
<http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/12/29/D8MAQ1U82.html>

Mike Sylvester

A little common sense please

This article in the JG tells it all:
<http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/16341146.htm>

Of special note is this excerpt from the above JG article:

"Library officials first learned of the leak a few weeks ago when the diesel fuel in an 800-gallon storage tank was gone. Officials weren’t sure whether the tank had a leak or someone had siphoned the fuel from it. More fuel was put into the tank so the level could be monitored, Krull said.

But the fuel began to disappear again, so the library called an environmental consulting company. It confirmed a leak in an underground pipe connecting a smaller feeder tank to a backup generator, which provides electricity to run emergency lights throughout the building. Both the small tank and the generator are in the same room, and the large tank is in a separate room, Krull said."


I have one major problem with this:

800 gallons of fuel oil are missing. They are not sure if it leaked or was stolen. This kind of thing happens, it is not a big deal. The problem is that ACPL put more fuel in the tank and then it leaked out again. That is stupid. Fill the tank with water!. Do not waste fuel and do not put more fuel into the spill area. Good grief.

A little common sense can go a long ways...

Mike Sylvester

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fort Wayne Downtown Parking fees

I decided to take a glance at the City budget for 2007 and at "parking" specifically. I found a statistic that will absolutely blow you away.

The budget calls for the collection of $176,875 in fees from Parking meters.

The budget calls for the collection of $535,000 in fines from Parking tickets.

In other words, the City collects OVER THREE TIMES as much in fines as it does in actual fees. Scott Greider posted on his blog that a Parking ticket only cost him $5...

This is amazing.

Mike Sylvester

Downtown Fort Wayne parking

I go downtown about twelve times a year. I go to occasional meetings and events of a political nature and I sometimes go downtown for other reasons.

This week I went downtown twice.

When I go downtown I almost always park in the Parking Garage next to the City - County building. I pay more; however, I can leave my car parked as long as I want. I do not mind walking a few blocks so I have always parked there...

This week I decided to park at the parking meters on Berry Street. Did you know that the longest you can park in those spots is an hour? The meters only allow you to go up to 60 minutes at a time.

I like to walk. I often walk from place to place rather then drive my car a few blocks. These parking meters are VERY annoying.

Tuesday I went to lunch at the Dash-In. I had to leave lunch and go put more money in my parking meter. It was annoying. Those parking meters should allow you to park for 2 hours and pay for it all at once...

Today I had a meeting downtown and parked on Berry street again. There were 54 minutes on the meter when I pulled into the spot. Knowing that my meeting would take about an hour I decided to put a nickle into the meter anyway and push my time up to 60 minutes.

It turns out that was one of my better decisions today. When I got back to my car the parking meter was blinking... I was out of time. The "Parking enforcement" officer was about four cars down...

Parking is something that MUST be addressed if we keep pouring money into downtown Fort Wayne. There are good and bad things about the current downtown parking situation:

Good things:
There are generally plenty of places to park. I have never had a hard time finding a place to park. I have lived in a lot of places where the same could not be said.
It is inexpensive to park downtown.
It is inexpensive to pay parking tickets downtown.

Bad things:
Some of the parking meters allow you to park for only one hour.
People who do not go downtown have no idea what the parking rules are since some of the signs are wrong and different parking meters have different maximum amounts of time you can park at them without coming back and putting in more coins.

What do you think?

Mike Sylvester

New poll

My new poll is about a new Baseball Stadium being built downtown. You may vote once per day in this poll...

Polls are often very inaccurate. Polls on a blog are extremely inaccurate.

I just do them because I find the results interesting!

Mike Sylvester

Results of my most recent poll

My last poll asked this question:
Who will blow it worse over the next two years in Washington DC?

The final results were:
Both Dems and Reps 62%, 48 votes.
Dems 22%, 17 votes.
Reps 12%, 9 votes.
Neither 5%, 4 votes.

Mike Sylvester

New blog you may be interested in

Scott Greider has an interesting blog called "Scott's Simple Story."

Scott is a native of Fort Wayne. He and his family currently live in New York. They plan on moving back to Fort Wayne next year. They have purchased a home downtown and Scott plans on getting involved with the effort to re-vitalize downtown.

Scott is an architect and a Libertarian. Scott is 100% in favor of re-vitalizing downtown Fort Wayne and brings an interesting perspective to the discussion.

From Scott's blog you can link to several other sites that provide information about both "The Wizards" and downtown development.

I have put a link to Scott's Blog on my sidebar. I have him listed under Fort Wayne blogs since he is moving back to Fort Wayne in the near future.

You can also following this link to his blog:
<http://greiders.blogspot.com/>

Mike Sylvester

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Karen Goldner and the 2nd City Council District of Fort Wayne

I met with Karena Goldner today. She is the 2nd candidate I have talked to who has declared their candidacy in 2007.

Karen Goldner is a Democrat and she is running for the City Council position in Fort Wayne's 2nd City Council District. I live in the 2nd City Council District as of this most recent re-districting due to annexation.

Karen has a financial background and has worked for the City in the past. We talked for almost an hour and a half and I was quite impressed with Karen Goldner. She understands that "Economic Development" is not the same as "Economic Re-arrangement!" She has a passion for the future of Fort Wayne and she has a strong personality.

I have not talked to Don Schmidt, the current 2nd District City Councilman in quite awhile. I am still hoping that a Libertarian will step up and run for the 2nd City Council District; however, I doubt that will happen.

If the 2nd City Council race is a two way race between Karen Goldner and Don Schmidt I would currently vote for Karen Goldner hands down. I would not even think twice about it...

I look forward to watching this race over the next year and I hope that the race is a clean one that is focused on the issues rather then personal attacks!

Mike Sylvester

Auditing, AUD, portion of the CPA exam

I got my score for the auditing portion of the CPA exam I took on Nov 30th. I passed with an 82.

I took all four portions of the exam in the last five months of 2006. I passed 3 of 4...

I will retake the REG section in mid January. I will not studay very much...

Mike Sylvester

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another neat thing to do in Fort Wayne

There are a lot of neat things to do in Fort Wayne. I get tired of people who sit around and complain about how boring Fort Wayne is.

I spent eleven years away from Fort Wayne; about half of those years I was in the USN. I lived in Florida, Upper State New York, California, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Missouri. I have traveled all over the US and the world. I have spent time in about 25 different foreign countries.

My wife and I purposefully decided to live in Fort Wayne after considering MANY places. In the end there were several reasons we decided to have and raise our children in Fort Wayne, Indiana:

1. We think family is an important aspect of raising a family and most of our small family lives in this area.

2. Cost of living. We decided we wanted to live in a large house on an acre of land. That eliminated several locations.

3. We think that Fort Wayne is a relatively safe City and that Allen County has two strong public school districts.

This evening we went to the 12th annual Fantasy of Lights at Franke Park. This is a great place to take your family and the money goes to a great cause. The light display runs from Nov 22 - Dec 31. Sun - Thur it runs from 6 - 9 PM. Friday and Saturday it runs an hour later.

The cost is $5 for a car load.

We enjoyed ourselves and I think some of you might enjoy it as well!

You can learn more at:
<http://www.awsusa.com/aws/index.shtml>

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Mike Sylvester

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Harrison Square, new plans unveiled for downtown baseball stadium in Fort Wayne

Well the big announcement was made and I have had a chance to look it over. Both major newspapers have stories about it and their statistics contradict each other on several points. This project is still in its planning stages and so I think that some variance should be expected.

To make a long story short the proposal would build a new baseball stadium downtown for the Wizards. This project cannot be started without a new hotel coming to Fort Wayne that has at least 300 rooms... This project would also include a new parking garage that the City would manage, 60 upscale condo's and a small amount of retail space...

After looking the proposal over; it is not as bad of a proposal as I expected.

In my opinion there are several good things about the project:
1. I like the fact that they want to use an entire city block.

2. It sounds like they no longer want to demolish Memorial Stadium. Memorial Stadium will
be paid for on July 1st of 2007. It is a good baseball stadium and I do not think it should
be demolished. I am encouraged that IPFW thinks they may be able to utilize that
facility. This needs to be explored fully.

3. It sounds like the City will not abuse its power of Eminent Domain on this project beyond
its shameful seizure of Belmont Beverage's property over five years ago.

In my opinion there are several bad things about the project:
1. The project hinges on a new hotel being built in downtown Fort Wayne on the property the
City of Fort Wayne shamefully stole from Belmont Beverages with its abuse of eminent
domain. The occupancy rate of Fort Wayne hotels fluctuates between 42% and 49%.
Several new hotels are going to be built in Fort Wayne in the next couple of years on the
north side of town. The City of Fort Wayne should not get into the hotel business...

2. The City plans on building a 1000 space parking garage and having The City manage it.
This is a very bad idea. The City cannot efficiently run a Parking garage!

Many Fort Wayne residents have utilized the Parking garage that is located next to the City
County Building in downtown Fort Wayne. This existing parking garage has room for 985
cars and is about the same size as the proposed new parking garage. I would argue that the
existing parking garage that is next to the City County Building is located in one of the best
possible locations downtown to make money. It is right next to the City County Building and
it is one block from the Jail and the Court House.

Per an independent Fort Wayne CPA named Ron Reinking the City lost approximately $930,052 dollars from 2002 - 2005 on this strategically placed parking garage. This certainly does NOT bode well for a City managed Parking Garage in a location that will draw far fewer people.

There is also another problem with the Parking Garage idea. Half of the parking spaces will
be reserved for Lincoln employees during the work week. This means the parking Garage
will lose even more money each year. Another City Parking Garage will be another money pit that the taxpayers are forced to pay for each year.

3. There are a lot of people saying that the public money will not be coming from tax payers
and that displays a lack of understanding on how government works. All public money
comes from the tax payers... We will be paying for it one way or another.

4. About half of the money from the project will be public money, that is very discouraging.
I would think that a project like this should be almost totally funded with private
investment. Past projects have been built 100% with public money; so maybe I should look at 50% as being an improvement over some of our past mistakes.


I will have to look into the financial side of this project in the future. I have learned not to trust figures for projects that the government provides; they are often inaccurate in my experience.

I will reserve judgment on this project until all of the facts come out. I can say this much; the project as outlined is better then I expected. I do wish that Fort Wayne would stay out of both the Hotel and Baseball business. Fees are skyrocketing in Fort Wayne and I think Fort Wayne should focus on ways to provide the services they provide in a more efficient manner!

Mike Sylvester





Fort Wayne Downtown Development

Fort Wayne officials (Democrat and Republican) will be announcing their most recent scheme to re-develop downtown Fort Wayne at the expanded Grand Wayne Center this morning.

The Grand Wayne Center is the PERFECT location for them to announce their most recent plan to develop downtown Fort Wayne.

The Grand Wayne Center was expanded by stealing private property from successful local businesses in the name of "progress."

The Grand Wayne Center loses money every year and has drawn little or no new business to downtown Fort Wayne. The only accountants who think the the Grand Wayne Center is making money every year are those accountants directly employed by Fort Wayne. ANY independent accountant quickly comes to the conclusion that the Grand Wayne Center is losing money each and every year.

Today our Democratic and Republican elected officials will unite in a massive public ceremony. Arm in arm we will see both Democrats and Republicans in elected office trumpet their new downtown project and they will once again talk about how this project will re-vitalize downtown Fort Wayne.

Rumor has it that this project will involve a downtown baseball stadium, another government subsidized hotel in downtown Fort Wayne, and some retail facilities.

Many of you will read my blog and you will think to yourself that I am against all efforts at downtown redevelopment. That is NOT true.

I am against projects that will NOT improve downtown and that will waste tax dollars. This project certainly will NOT do any of the things "they" will promise.

I will discuss this announcement later today after the announcement...

I have to go and work...

Mike Sylvester

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Public Access TV, Thursday night

To All,

Please tune in to Cable Chanel 57 on Thursday from 7P – 8P.

The guest will be Kyle McDonald, the new Executive Director of the LPIN.

We will be happy to discuss anything of interest to you.

The phone number is 422 – 3902.

I’d LOVE to go off on a rant about the bullcrap NO SMOKING ban. I really would.

Respectfully,

Doug Horner
Secretary, Libertarian Party of Allen County
(260) 704 - 4698

Matt Kelty for Mayor

I am the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Allen County. The Libertarian Party of Allen County does not necessarily share my views!

I am extremely impressed with Matt Kelty and his campaign for Fort Wayne Mayor.

If people like Matt Kelty and Bill Larsen were in charge of The Allen County GOP I would most likely still be a Republican today; alas, they are not and the local GOP is a large government organization that continually is in favor of expanding the role and scope of our local government.

I think there are a lot of "grass roots" Republicans who still believe in:
A smaller government
The Constitution
The rights of the fifty states to pass their own laws

Matt Kelty believes in all of the points I have listed above...

I attended a Christmas Party that Matt Kelty held tonight and I had a great time. I talked to many of the people who attended this event and I enjoyed talking to them. They were a group of great people who all seemed to believe that the government has gotten too large. This event was attended by "grass roots" Republicans and by a smattering of Independents.

I only saw one person at the event who could be considered a "Republican Insider" and that was City Councilman Tom Didier. I am not sure if Tom Didier is going to publicly back Matt Kelty; but, I hope that he does.

I spent a fair amount of time talking to Marvin Hoot and his family at the event.

I think it is both sad and typical that the "good old boys" in the Republican Party are going to back Nelson Peters en masse. I do NOT think Nelson Peters is a bad man; I just think it is time for change. Primaries USED to be held to allow the voters to choose the candidate that would best represent them in the upcoming election. The Allen County GOP seems to feel that it is the job of the "good old boys" to choose a candidate for their members. I think that this is a sad and destructive policy!

Unless a LIbertarian decides to run for Mayor Matt Kelty will have my full support.

I am extremely impressed with Matt Kelty and I think it is time for a change in Fort Wayne!

As a small business owner I think that I have to support Matt Kelty because we need a Mayor who understands that small business is the key to Fort Wayne!

Mike Sylvester

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another "must read" article

AWB has a great post about a horror story here in Fort Wayne.

Please take the time to read it:
<http://www.angrywhiteboy.org/index.php/2006/12/19/this-is-terrible-just-terrible/>

AWB plans on buying those kids something for Christmas and several of his readers plan on helping. My wife and I will help as well...

Mike Sylvester

Credit Card Rant

My wife and I use our credit cards a lot. We like the "cash back" and "reward" credit cards. We always pay our balance in full every month.

We decided to change credit cards.

I took about one hour to research various cards on the internet. I narrowed it down to four cards.

I contacted each credit card company.
One company I sent an email to
One company I exchanged 6 emails with
One Company I talked to two different people on the phone after navigating an awful phone
messaging service.
One Company I sent three emails and one phone call

In each case I requested the company send me a paper application in the mail. After two weeks; I have yet to receive one...

I have repeatedly been told to apply online, apply on the phone, etc. I keep telling them that I want a paper application...

I like to read the fine print...

They are incredibly inefficient...

Mike Sylvester

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nerd score

I took the nerd test that many local bloggers are taking. I scored a 16%...

I must be getting old (39 years)...

Mike Sylvester

Next meeting of The Libertarian party of Allen County

The LPAC will be meeting Monday night at 7 PM. The public is invited to attend!

December's meeting is at the Lucky's (formerly Munchie's) at the southwest corner of Dupont and Coldwater. We will meet infomrally at 7 PM and the formal meeting will begin at 8 PM.

Mike Sylvester

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another Republican defects to the Libertarian Party

The Republican Party is not a Party of smaller government and more and more Republicans are waking up and realizing the today's GOP is a large government party!

Read more at:
<http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/12/15/D8M1ILB00.html>

Mike Sylvester

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Diet, again...

I started another diet on December 1st.

The last diet I started was a miserable failure. I just did not try very hard...

In the first 14 days of this diet I lost 7 pounds. This is fairly normal for me. I have such bad eating habits that it is generally easy for me to lose at least 10 pounds early on!

Mike Sylvester

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Graydon's Christmas Program

We went to my sons Christmas Program and it was a blast. Watching kids who are 2-6 years old put on a Christmas Program is a lot of fun!

Graydon has a great time and did a heck of a job!

Mike Sylvester

Fort Wayne Community School

The rumors are circulating freely about the size of the expansion project that FWCS will be asking the taxpayers to fund.

I have been told that the current estimates are:
Low end: 200 Million Dollars
Middle and most likely: 500 - 600 Million Dollars
High end: 950 Million Dollars

These numbers are so high that the project may have to be split into three different bond issues...

Wow. I bet local Construciton companies are going to have a very Merry Christmas!

Property taxes in FWCS will skyrocket if these estimates are accurate.

Mike Sylvester

Another "must read" article

Chris Douglas authors an interesting Indiana blog entitled "First Republicans."

I find myself reading his blog more and more often...

Chris Douglas wants to reform the Republican Party...

His most recent article about the "falling dollar" is very interesting:
<http://www.firstrepublicans.typepad.com/>

The only thing I disagree with in that article is that he feels the dollar will fall more with Dems in charge then if Reps were in charge. I disagree...

The dollar will fall no matter which large government Party is in charge. Neith Dems nor Reps plan on changing the way they do business... They do not think there is a problem...

The dollar is falling becuase of Reps and Dems...

Mike Sylvester

Monday, December 11, 2006

A "must read" article

Fred McCarthy operates an Indianapolis blog called "Indy Tax Dollars."

His most recent post is entitled "Why not." This article is a must read for everyone who reads this blog.

Fred has an interesting idea. He thinks we should "privatize" the Indianpolis Colts and the Indiana Pacers...

What a revolutionary thought...

Let me know what you think:

<http://www.indytaxdollars.typepad.com/>

Mike Sylvester

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor, 1941

As many readers of this blog know I was stationed at Pearl Harbor for almost four years. I spent that time stationed on the nuclear powered attack submarine USS Pintado, SSN 672.

While stationed at Pearl harbor I met my wife.

December 7th is truly a "day of infamy" to me.

The Japanese navy attacked Pearl Harbor in a vicious sneak attack and killed 2403 service men and 68 civilians. The United States (Especially the United States Navy) was handed a huge loss in both life and in material.

Hawaii is the most "peaceful" place I have ever lived. There are many mornings that I woke up from a duty day (24 hours spent on the submarine) and went up on the deck of the submarine and looked out over Pearl Harbor and tried to imagine what it must have been like for American sailors on the morning of December 7th, 1941.

I never could imagine it...

I would like to think that we learned something from the events that transpired that day; however, I do not think that we have.

I think we should have learned two major lessons from that day:

1. We are always susceptible to attack. We must always remain vigilant. The United States military should always be the strongest fighting force in the world and it should always be ready to engage any foes that may arise. The military must never be caught "asleep" again.

2. Many people still fail to understand why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because of our trade policy and because of Japan's desire to expand their Empire. We must always watch other counties and we must monitor their goals and their pursuit of those goals.

I do not think most Americans have learned anything from the events that occurred on December 7th, 1941.

I think most Americans are more interested in Brittany Spears and whether she wears underwear or not...

Mike Sylvester

Credit Cards

I hate credit cards.

My wife and I use credit cards for many things. We always have credit cards with no fees and that give us cash back.

My wife loves credit cards.

We always pay them off in full every month.

Last night I did some research on our three credit cards and their terms. It took well over an hour to find out exactly what the terms were... The terms keep changing...

I then did some research on other credit cards. We need to get a new credit card to use in Europe. Mastercard and Visa now charge a 3% "transaction fee" on foreign transactions... I am not paying that when I go to Europe next year...

I sent away for four credit card applications. Three I was able to send in with no problem. The fourth is another story entirely...

The fourth did not have an email address. I had to call them. I called them 9 times. This 4th card is the one I really wanted. I never sign up on the phone or internet. I always make them send me the application in the mail so I can red the fine print and so that I have a copy of the terms in my file...

They kept transferring me from one department to another. Realize all I wanted them to do was to send me an application in the mail. They kept trying to get me to sign up on the phone. It was ugly.

There is a lot of incompetence in the Customer Service department of that specific credit card company!

It was awful.

Mike Sylvester

Credit Cards

I hate credit cards.

My wife and I use credit cards for many things. We always have credit cards with no fees and that give us cash back.

My wife loves credit cards.

We always pay them off in full every month.

Last night I did some research on our three credit cards and their terms. It took well over an hour to find out exactly what the terms were... The terms keep changing...

I then did some research on other credit cards. We need to get a new credit card to use in Europe. Mastercard and Visa now charge a 3% "transaction fee" on foreign transactions... I am not paying that when I go to Europe next year...

I sent away for four credit card applications. Three I was able to send in with no problem. The fourth is another story entirely...

The fourth did not have an email address. I had to call them. I called them 9 times. This 4th card is the one I really wanted. I never sign up on the phone or internet. I always make them send me the application in the mail so I can red the fine print and so that I have a copy of the terms in my file...

They kept transferring me from one department to another. Realize all I wanted them to do was to send me an application in the mail. They kept trying to get me to sign up on the phone. It was ugly.

There is a lot of incompetence in the Customer Service department of that specific credit card company!

It was awful.

Mike Sylvester

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another reason the Republicans lost

The last Congress worked fewer days then even the "do nothing Congress" of 1948...

Read the full story:

<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/05/AR2006120501342_pf.html?

Mike

3rd section of the CPA exam

As I expected I did not pass the 3rd section of the CPA exam. I got a 73 on that section and I needed a 75 to pass it!

The simulations really hurt me! I feel that if I would have bought a study system that would have allowed me to practice simulations I would have passed; but, I went the cheap way!

So I have passed two sections, did not pass one section and I am waiting to hear on the 4th section. I expect to pass the 4th section fairly easily.

I will be re-taking REG in January!

Mike

Interesting article

Jeff Pruitt sent me a very interesting article. I have copied it below! The articles argues, rather well, that LIbertarians and Liberals should band together...

Since the late '60s, and especially the mid-'80s, torrents of words have been spilled urging Democrats to move toward the center of the political spectrum. Most such efforts, however, have advanced one compromise or another between progressivism-as-usual and conservatism-as-usual--a few more items from Menu A here, a few more from Menu B there.

But the real problem with our politics today is that the prevailing ideological categories are intellectually exhausted. Conservatism has risen to power only to become squalid and corrupt, a Nixonian mélange of pandering to populist prejudices and distributing patronage to well-off cronies and Red Team constituencies. Liberalism, meanwhile, has never recovered from its fall from grace in the mid-'60s. Ever since, it has lacked the vitality to do more than check conservative excesses--and obstruct legitimate, conservative-led progress. As a governing philosophy, liberalism has been moribund: When Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton managed to win the White House, they did so only by successfully avoiding the liberal stigma.

Today's ideological turmoil, however, has created an opening for ideological renewal--specifically, liberalism's renewal as a vital governing philosophy. A refashioned liberalism that incorporated key libertarian concerns and insights could make possible a truly progressive politics once again--not progressive in the sense of hewing to a particular set of preexisting left-wing commitments, but rather in the sense of attuning itself to the objective dynamics of U.S. social development. In other words, a politics that joins together under one banner the causes of both cultural and economic progress.

Conservative fusionism, the defining ideology of the American right for a half-century, was premised on the idea that libertarian policies and traditional values are complementary goods. That idea still retains at least an intermittent plausibility--for example, in the case for school choice as providing a refuge for socially conservative families. But an honest survey of the past half-century shows a much better match between libertarian means and progressive ends. Most obviously, many of the great libertarian breakthroughs of the era--the fall of Jim Crow, the end of censorship, the legalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce laws, the increased protection of the rights of the accused, the reopening of immigration--were championed by the political left.

Furthermore, it has become increasingly clear that capitalism's relentless dynamism and wealth-creation--the institutional safeguarding of which lies at the heart of libertarian concerns--have been pushing U.S. society in a decidedly progressive direction. The civil rights movement was made possible by the mechanization of agriculture, which pushed blacks off the farm and out of the South with immense consequences. Likewise, feminism was encouraged by the mechanization of housework. Greater sexual openness, as well as heightened interest in the natural environment, are among the luxury goods that mass affluence has purchased. So, too, are secularization and the general decline in reverence for authority, as rising education levels (prompted by the economy's growing demand for knowledge workers) have promoted increasing independence of mind.

Yet progressives remain stubbornly resistant to embracing capitalism, their great natural ally. In particular, they are unable to make their peace with the more competitive, more entrepreneurial, more globalized U.S. economy that emerged out of the stagflationary mess of the 1970s. Knee-jerk antipathy to markets and the creative destruction they bring continues to be widespread, and bitter denunciations of the unfairness of the system, mixed with nostalgia for the good old days of the Big Government/Big Labor/Big Business triumvirate, too often substitute for clear thinking about realistic policy options.

Hence today's reactionary politics. Here, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the rival ideologies of left and right are both pining for the '50s. The only difference is that liberals want to work there, while conservatives want to go home there.

Can a new, progressive fusionism break out of the current rut? Liberals and libertarians already share considerable common ground, if they could just see past their differences to recognize it. Both generally support a more open immigration policy. Both reject the religious right's homophobia and blastocystophilia. Both are open to rethinking the country's draconian drug policies. Both seek to protect the United States from terrorism without gratuitous encroachments on civil liberties or extensions of executive power. And underlying all these policy positions is a shared philosophical commitment to individual autonomy as a core political value.

The central challenge in cementing a new fusionist alliance--and, make no mistake, it is a daunting one--is to elaborate a vision of economic policy, and policy reform, that both liberals and libertarians can support. Here, again, both sides seek to promote individual autonomy; but their conceptions differ as to the chief threats to that autonomy. Libertarians worry primarily about constraints imposed by government, while liberals worry most about constraints imposed by birth and the play of economic forces.

The basic outlines of a viable compromise are clear enough. On the one hand, restrictions on competition and burdens on private initiative would be lifted to encourage vigorous economic growth and development. At the same time, some of the resulting wealth-creation would be used to improve safety-net policies that help those at the bottom and ameliorate the hardships inflicted by economic change. Translating such abstractions into workable policy doubtlessly would be contentious. But the most difficult thing here is not working out details--it is agreeing to try. And, as part of that, agreeing on how to make the attempt: namely, by treating economic policy issues as technical, empirical questions about what does and doesn't work, rather than as tests of ideological commitment.

Allow me to hazard a few more specific suggestions about what a liberal-libertarian entente on economics might look like. Let's start with the comparatively easy stuff: farm subsidies and other corporate welfare. Progressive organizations like Oxfam and the Environmental Working Group have already joined with free-market groups in pushing for ag-policy reform. And it's no wonder, since the current subsidy programs act as a regressive tax on low-income families here at home while depressing prices for exporters in poor countries abroad--and, to top it off, the lion's share of the loot goes to big agribusiness, not family farmers. Meanwhile, the president of Cato and the executive director of the Sierra Club have come out together in favor of a zero-subsidy energy policy. A nascent fusionism on these issues already exists; it merely needs encouragement and emphasis.

Tax reform also offers the possibility of win-win bargains. The basic idea is simple: Shift taxes away from things we want more of and onto things we want less of. Specifically, cut taxes on savings and investment, cut payroll taxes on labor, and make up the shortfall with increased taxation of consumption. Go ahead, tax the rich, but don't do it when they're being productive. Tax them instead when they're splurging--by capping the deductibility of home-mortgage interest and tax incentives for purchasing health insurance. And tax everybody's energy consumption. All taxes impose costs on the economy, but at least energy taxes carry the silver lining of encouraging conservation--plus, because such taxes exert downward pressure on world oil prices, foreign oil monopolies would wind up getting stuck with part of the bill. Here again, fusionism is already in the air. Gore has proposed a straight-up swap of payroll taxes for carbon taxes, while Harvard economist (and former chairman of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers) Greg Mankiw has been pushing for an increase in the gasoline tax.

Entitlement reform is probably the most difficult problem facing would-be fusionists. Here, libertarians' core commitments to personal responsibility and economy in government run headlong into progressives' core commitments to social insurance and an adequate safety net. Yet a fusionist synthesis is possible nevertheless, for the simple reason that some kind of compromise is ultimately unavoidable.

With millions already dependent on the current programs, and with baby boomers beginning to retire in just a couple of years, libertarians' dreams of dramatically shrinking federal spending are flatly unrealizable for many years to come. But liberals must face some hard facts as well. Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is now projected to increase from about 9 percent of GDP today to approximately 15 percent by 2030. Already, spending on the elderly consumes more than a third of the federal budget, and the fun is just getting started. If a fiscal crisis is to be averted, if economic growth is to be sustained, and if there is to be any money left to fund domestic programs for people under 65, the federal safety net is going to have to be recast.

One possible path toward constructive compromise lies in taking the concept of social insurance seriously. Insurance, to be worthy of the name, involves the pooling of funds to protect against risky contingencies; "social" insurance fulfills the same basic function but makes the government the insurer. Unemployment insurance is a species of legitimate social insurance; wage insurance, much talked about, would also qualify. But Social Security and Medicare as currently administered are not social insurance in any meaningful sense, because reaching retirement age and having health care expenses in old age are not risky, insurable events. On the contrary, in our affluent society, they are near certainties.

We can have true social insurance while maintaining fiscal soundness and economic vibrancy: We can fund the Earned Income Tax Credit and other programs for the poor; we can fund unemployment insurance and other programs for people dislocated by capitalism's creative destruction; we can fund public pensions for the indigent elderly; we can fund public health care for the poor and those faced with catastrophic expenses. What we cannot do is continue to fund universal entitlement programs that slosh money from one section of the middle class (people of working age) to another (the elderly)--not when most Americans are fully capable of saving for their own retirement needs. Instead, we need to move from the current pay-as-you-go approach to a system in which private savings would provide primary funding for the costs of old age.

These are only suggestions, meant to start conversations and debates. If a new kind of fusionism is to have any chance for success, it must aim beyond the specifics of particular, present-day controversies. It must be based on a real intellectual movement, with intellectual coherence. A movement that, at the philosophical level, seeks some kind of reconciliation between Hayek and Rawls.

If such an exploration could be launched, liberal and libertarian thinkers would begin talking with one another and engaging one another regularly. Over time, they would come to see themselves as joined in a common endeavor. And, in the shared identity that would emerge, there would be plenty of room for continuing disagreements, even sharp ones, just as there is in any robust political movement.

Can liberals and libertarians really learn to work together? I don't know, but their alternative is most probably to languish separately.

Brink Lindsey is vice president for research at the Cato Institute. He is the author of The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture, which will be published this spring.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Andrew Kaduk weighs in on my Post-Election predictions

Andrew Kaduk weighed in promptly; I am just now getting around to posting his thoughts...

Andrew thinks:

1. This would be a very hypocritical move by the Dems, considering they tout themselves as the champions of free speech....or does free speech only apply to left-leaning agendas?

2. Why bother? Bush is their puppet now. Oh, and Pat White is an idiot.

3. I would rather see amnesty than a massive "program" compiled of riot squads, home invasions, random ineffective deportations and generally inefficient uses of our time, money and manpower. I'd prefer we start annexation talks with Mexico, at least insofar as to grant them provincial status, open the border and wait for equilibrium.

4. Aggressively lowering troop levels in Iraq would have exactly the opposite effect many people like to think. This would effectively throw the current Iraqi leadership "under the bus" and open a direct avenue for Iran to send their hand-picked clerics and militants straight in to begin the inevitable takeover process. C'mon, can anybody tell me they're not doing it already? We're the only thing slowing them down right now. I personally believe that Iran was positioning itself to make a move on Saddam Hussein, and we got in their way before they said "go." But that's all speculation...

5. Yeah, what Stan said.

6. I hope the Dems do this. Chuck Rangel is already calling for such an action. It's called "biting the hand that feeds you" and the Democrats will continue to draft inept tax policy until they get it through their heads that this is NOT THEIR MONEY, and we all benefit when people spend this into the economy without using the FedGov as a middle-man. You know, they could just cut spending. Nancy Pelosi and Mark Souder both voted themselves pay increases last year.

7. Co-sign to the "evil" sentiment. That money has already been taxed (several times, I'm sure).

8. It is illegal by most coherent interpretations of the Constitution for the Federal Government to establish a minimum wage. The abilities of employees and the needs of employers will dictate a minimum wage without any legislation whatsoever. If McDonald's only pays $2/hr, they will have a hard time finding anyone to stand by their vats of boiling grease and flip their horse-meat patties.

9. I sure hope the Dems can do something to that effect, but history indicates otherwise. The employment of fancy accounting witchcraft during the Clinton years created an illusion of a balanced budget, and yet the actual debt remained. I'm with you, Mike. If you're gonna do it, do it TODAY.

10. Yup.

11. I'll take a cashier's check for the money I've dumped into SS over the years. Cash is fine too. Now get your grubby fingers off my paychecks. I, unlike many people, have been diligently investing toward my retirement for years. I will continue to do so until a financial advisor says "stop."

12. The government doesn't have any money. Therefore, they should stay out of such expensive business, especially business that they are not qualified to understand or participate in, save maybe as consumers. See the section on "unfunded liabilities."

13. I'll raise my glass and toast Pelosi et al if they can do this, but since [politicians] are generally a bunch of self-serving pricks, I think this law will be complicated, convoluted and generally ineffective.

14. OK

15. Just the word "entitlements" makes my skin crawl. Why exactly is someone else entitled to MY money to aid their eduction? I'm too busy working to go back to school and finish my degree...I'll be damned if somebody's gonna take my money for others to spend in the fashion I wish I had time for... Baaaah. Entitlements. Why make more? What's the point? There are plenty of private lenders out there willing to give kids money for school. Let the professionals handle it.

16. Well, I'm opposed to the government administrating health care in the first place, but since they are doing it already, there's no reason to continue to be stupid about it.

17. If Federal money would be "money well spent" with respect to speculative embryonic research, then PRIVATE money would be even better. The windfall profits that will pile into the accounts of whichever researcher develops a concrete methodology won't come back to the government, so why shouldn't they be investing their own money in the research? How about developing a charitable foundation to fund it? Why does it have to be the government? The only thing that will do is make lives longer and further put the screws to the oh-so precious Social Security system.

18. Harumph, harumph.

19. Yeah, I don't think the oil companies need a crutch at this point. I'm not sure they did in the first place. I would, however, offer a short-term tax abatement to any oil company that builds a new refinery.

20. Gee, I think that being a slave-country to foreign oil is serving us pretty well... (cough, cough).

21. I sincerely doubt it. I think Pelosi is writing checks her ass can't cash.

22. Hey, if they wanna walk around with that dirt smudge on their collective face, more power to them. Jefferson will act as an enduring reminder of the hypocrisy of politicians in general. D's and R's alike want to hold eachother to higher standards than they, themselves are willing to hold. Newt Gingerich's pompous ass talking about "morality" and "family values" while keeping a mistress, Rush Limbaugh denigrating drug users while he was high, politicians rationalizing bad behavior by pointing out people who have behaved worse than they, Nancy Pelosi blaming Republicans for the partisan hackery in Washington in which she gleefully participated...if not often instigated, wow, I could go on all day. I'm glad a bunch of congresspersons got fired. I hope just as many get fired in two years.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Downtown "meet and greet"

I am the President of my Homeowner's Association. I went to an event for Homeowner's Associations this evening.

The event was a "meet and greet" and was designed to allow those involved with Homeowner's Associations to meet each other and several elected and appointed officials. Many other people in the community attended as well.

I spent some time talking to a number of people at the event.

I had a short conversation with City Councilman Smith. He assured Nelson Peters that there were enough votes on the City Council to "Either pass the Smoking Ban adopted by the County" or to "Adopt a stronger smoking ban." He said those were really the only two options that would pass.

I had a longer conversation with County Commissioner and Mayoral candidate Nelson Peters. We talked about how we both disliked negative campaigning and he assured me his campaign would be positive and focus on the issues. We talked about Eminent Domain and we agreed on that issue. We talked about the smoking ban and did not agree on that issue.

We also talked about Tim Zank!

Nelson Peters told me that "The County would be voting to change the date of adoption of the smoking ban to June 1st 2007 at their next meeting. This would result in the County implementing their smoking ban at the same time as the local hospitals." I think this is a good move. This will give local business owners some time to comply with the new ordinance.

I had a conversation with incoming County Commissioner Bill Brown. We talked about several items including Eminent Domain. We did not entirely agree on Eminent Domain; however, we came to some middle ground. Bill Brown is more in favor of Eminent Domain then I am. Bill Brown and I did agree on the Smoking ban and that it is a property rights issue...

Phil GiaQuinta and Matt Kelty were in attendance; however, I did not get a chance to talk to them.

This was a good event and I plan on attending more events like this in the future!

Mike Sylvester

Bad press day for Allen County GOP

The two lead stories over at the WPTA-TV, WISE-TV website are about the local GOP.

The first story discusses the arrest warrant issued for Doug Foy. Doug Foy was the executive Director for the Allen County GOP until he was caught committing forgery on official election forms. The Allen County GOP handled the situation in the correct manner by immediately releasing Doug Foy. The only disturbing thing about this event is the fact that several GOP candidates refused to cooperate with the Allen County Election Board in their initial investigation. Now that it is a police matter I am sure those GOP candidates and office holders will cooperate. The full story is here:
<http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/Story.aspx?type=ln&NStoryID=4499>

The second story is another story about Steve Shine. I have no idea what is going on in Steve Shine's personal life and I tend to think that these issues should be resolved between Steve Shine and his wife.

Once someone at the residence dialed 911 this domestic situation became a police matter. When you dial 911 and report an emergency the police have no choice but to respond to the call and investigate.

Unfortunately both Steve Shine and now his wife have gone to the media and now they are headed towards court. Last week Steve Shine issued a statement saying that his wife had "recanted" her Domestic battery allegations. That has turned out to be COMPLETELY untrue. Beth Shine issued a statement today saying that she did NOT recant her Domestic battery allegations.

Last week Steve Shine filed a protective order against his wife that evicted her from the couples home. Today Beth Shine filed for divorce. The full story is here:
<http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/Story.aspx?type=ln&NStoryID=4499>
<http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/news/16148792.htm>
<http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/news/16121147.htm>
<http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/16141128.htm>

I am afraid that we are going to here a lot more about this case over the next few months...

Last week when Steve Shine went to the media and was quoted as saying that the 911 phone call his wife made was due to a case of "frayed nerves" I had a feeling that this would upset his wife of 24 years. I do not know very many people who would take kindly to their spouse being quoted by the local press saying something along those lines...

The really interesting item is that Beth Shine chose Mr. Loomis to represent her. Mr. Loomis and Steve Shine have some "bad blood" between them over the 2002 race for County Prosecutor which Mr. Loomis lost...

Lets hope that this case does not get undue attention from the local media. I think that Steve Shine may well regret his decision to talk to the media that way he did last week about the issues between he and his wife.

Mike Sylvester

Friday, December 01, 2006

Two statistics that tell you how bad some of our problems really are

I heard two statistics today that were very appalling and that illustrate two of the problems that this country faces.

Both of these statistics should frighten you and should be the topic of large national conversations...

Neither will matter to our politicians or to the majority of the electorate...


The first statistic is that one out of every 32 adult Americans are either in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole as of the end of 2005.

Does anyone who reads this blog think this is a good thing? It is a terrible thing and we have to do something about it. Realize that the average inmate only serves about 40% of their original sentence. Who do you think pays for all of the people in the "correctional" population?

The second statistic was in todays newspaper. 1 in 6 Hoosiers are on at least one of the following programs: Medicaid, Food Stamps, TANF (Welfare).

What? 1 in 6 Hoosiers are on one of the above Government programs. Who do you think pays the tab for the above programs?

Even more frightening is the fact that Indiana ranks 50th (LAST) our of the 50 states as far as our ability to get people to work and off welfare...

Mike Sylvester

Passport stupidity

My wife and I are planning on going to Germany to visit her father next year. Our passports are valid through 2009.

Graydon is three years old and Kayla is five years old. We now have to get them passports.

I just looked up the rules and I thought I would post them here.

It is going to cost us $164 so that our kids have the ability to travel abroad for five years.

It is going to take us about half a day as well...

What a joke.

Here are the requirements:

The nearest passport office is the post office at 1501 South Clinton. Phone is 427-7301. Hours for passports are:
Mon – Fri 8 AM – 4:30 PM
Sat 9 AM – 2 PM

Take the following:
Kayla and Graydon must appear in person
Forms filled out in black ink
Official birth certificate for each child
Both parents must go and both parents must take their official (Raised printing) birth certificate AND a valid drivers license OR
One parent must go and the other parent must fill out form DS-3053 and it must be notarized. 2 Passport photos per kid.
Cost is $82 per kid. Call post office for methods of paying, some require exact cash.

After you drop off a valid passport application at the post office you will generally get your passport back within six weeks…

Good grief.

Mike Sylvester

Democrats want to make college tuition tax deductible

The tax code as far too complicated. It is over six million words.

There is not one person in the United States who understands the tax code.

I have read several surveys that show that when taxpayers and tax preparers call the IRS with questions about the tax code the IRS answers them WRONG about 40% of the time.

I think it is extremely likely that Congress will make the cost of college tuition fully tax deductible in the next few weeks. The Republicans tried to pass this bill by lumping it with an increase in the minimum wage and with repealing the "death tax." The Democrats defeated it since they love the "death tax."

I will keep an eye on this...

The "Devil will be in the details." Depending on how it is done this could make the tax code even more complicated...

I will lete you know how this goes...

Mike Sylvester

4th section of the CPA exam

I spent four and a half hours yesterday taking the fourth section of the CPA exam. I think I passed it.

I have taken all four sections of the exam in the last couple of months. I have got my scores for the 1st two sections I took and passed both with an 82 and an 84...

Mike Sylvester