In a story by Maureen Groppe in the Indy Star, Amy Walter of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, tracking U.S. House races said “Indiana is literally the center of the universe right now. To have three Republican incumbents in a very Republican state either tied or behind their Democratic opponents, what is that?”
What is that? It’s the Republicans, particularly on the federal level, betraying the people and the principles that got them there. The party of Eisenhower and Goldwater, the party of fiscal responsibility, foreign pragmatism, and small government has turned into a party of budget busting big government policies and impractical, ideological, ineffective foreign policy all mixed up with an Orwellian disregard for civil liberties and catering to the impulses of Dominionist religious groups.
The article focuses on the shifting fortunes of Chris Chocola, who started the year seeming to be safe in his seat. Now he is at least slightly behind challenger Joe Donnelly in the polls. Courtesy of Gov. Daniels, Chocola has been slammed by a double whammy of local issues, important to his constituents in north central/western Indiana on which he has been silent: Daylight Saving Time and the Toll Road sale. Combine that with increasing voter dissatisfaction with national policy generally and President Bush particularly, and suddenly Chocola has a real challenge on his hands.
Meanwhile, in Indiana’s 8th and 9th Congressional races you have challenges that were always expected to be competitive. The re-rematch between Sodrel and Hill in the 9th effectively pits two incumbents against each other. And, in the 8th, you have a successful, fairly conservative, Democratic Sheriff, Brad Ellsworth, running against the always unconventional and anemic fund raiser, John Hostettler.
The Louisville Courier Press has the story on the debate in the 9th District last night between Hill, Sodrel, and Libertarian Eric Schansberg. Mike Sodrel says we have no energy policy crisis while Baron Hill says gasoline costs are causing great pain to the public and we need to take steps to wean ourselves off of oil dependence. Little is likely to be done, Hill says, under the current administration led by oil men, Cheney and Bush. Schansberg wants to let markets run their course, creating innovatie ways to produce energy and lower costs.
I particularly liked Schansberg’s quote on the financial implications of prosecuting the war in Iraq:
“The choice has been made, so far, to finance it with debt,” Schansberg said. If the government “has the courage to spend money,” it should have the courage to pay for it now rather than leave the bill for future generations.
Baron Hill had this to say:
Hill criticized the Republican-controlled government for cutting taxes for the wealthy and for oil companies while hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent on the war.
“It doesn’t make sense to people,” Hill said.
Sodrel responded with statements about the importance of liberty to the Iraqi people and claims that the cost of the War in Iraq is small compared to the costs of World War II. And there, we have more evidence that we’ve gone from a National Republican Party of fiscally responsible, hard-headedly practical foreign policy to one that supports a fiscally irresponsible approach to funding an ideological foreign policy.
Hoosiers, by and large, are practical people who do not love opening up their wallets. They expect the same from their government.
Libertarians have to take note of one gem toward the bottom of the story:
“Everybody is getting disgusted with both of them,” said Richard Sommers, a GOP county commissioner in Pulaski County. “All you hear is the negative on the radio and television and telephone. I wish there was a third party. I’d vote for them.”
I do like the Libertarian approach on social issues,and would be willing to see if it works. As I interept it: ‘Just leave people alone’If everyone were left alone then there’d be no reason for government action to give back ‘equality’.But Im probably missing something.
If you really think that Chocola has been silent on the time issue you are very mistaken. In a quote last November in the SB tribune he stated that St. Joe County should withdraw their petition in favor of time zone unity. Unity with who, Chocola represents one township of Elkhart County. He represents of all St. Joe and most of LaPorte. Unity in his district meant St. Joe would be in the central time zone thus putting the entire New Prairie School Corp. in one time zone. In typical Republican form he denies having anything to do with the DOT decision. Go figure!!
The one problem I have with the Libertrian approch is with things like the enviroment. They honestly think that businesses won’t harm the enviroment because it isn’t in their best intrest. Most business can’t see past next quarter, and screwing the enviroment will give a lot more cash next quarter than trying to protect it.
For example, I heard Schansberg say that the evidence isn’t clear on global warming, so we shouldn’t do anything until we have a clear indication on it. By that time, it will be too late.
Libertarianism has a tough time grappling with economic transactions where costs can be externalized and, therefore, are not reflected in the price. Take, for example, the situation where a manufacturer can make a widget cheaper through processes that do not control pollution. The manufacturer can then sell the widget cheaper than the competitor who uses a process that does control pollution. The polluting manufacturer is not using a more cost-effective process.
The manufacturing process is probably less cost effective because the result of the pollution will be health problems and decreased enjoyment of the environment by residents of the surrounding area. However, because these costs are not borne by the seller or the buyer, they aren’t reflected in the price of the widget. Surrounding residents are, in effect, subsidizing the pollution.
The market doesn’t do a good job of rewarding the more cost effective manufacturing process in this example and, because the harm to the surrounding residents is incremental and rather amorphous, the law doesn’t do a very good job in allowing them to protect their rights.
So, what’s a devoted libertarian to do? Probably swallow hard and figure that some government regulation might be necessary.
Mike Kole says
This Libertarian figures you do need to swallow hard and that some regulation is necessary. Funny enough, I like to breathe clean air!
However, the environmentally conscious who would peg Libertarians as idealist dreamers have to be careful that they are not exactly that themselves. Nations like China and Mexico do not have the same environmental regulations as the United States, so, coupled with their lower costs for labor, there is a powerful reason for manufacturing to leave the USA and go to China and Mexico.
If you want to keep manufacturing jobs in the USA, which do you lower- the wages to labor, the environmental standards, or a little of both?
This decision is a part of living in the real world. The air is much cleaner in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Cleveland today than it was in 1950, but they aren’t making much steel anymore. That cannot be laid entirely at the feet of environmentalism (I would primarily place it at greedy management that refused to modernize plant, and labor that paid $35/hr to push a broom), but it is in the mix.
Mike Kole says
â€œEverybody is getting disgusted with both of them,â€ said Richard Sommers, a GOP county commissioner in Pulaski County. â€œAll you hear is the negative on the radio and television and telephone. I wish there was a third party. Iâ€™d vote for them.â€
Paul- I wish we did have someone running as a Libertarian in that particular race. Alas.
More than that, I wish that even 50% of those who say things like that actually would follow through were there is a 3rd party choice. It would help make for more responsive office holders.
As far as competing with countries with lesser environmental and labor protections, I think you need to impose tariffs or otherwise level the playing field in a way that doesn’t require the U.S. to compromise its protections. Probably we can only go so far in doing this without wrecking our economy and possibly the world economy. But I think we can go further than we’ve done.
that Libertarian down in the 9th seems to believe in government-forced pregnancies …
To Wilson: I don’t recall arguing that the government should forcibly impregnate people. Sounds rather unpleasant…
To Jason and Doug: Libertarians have as much trouble with environmental issues as any other political party. Libs are free to find a theoretic role for government, given the absence of enforceable property rights. One contrast: in practice, we probably have greater concerns about how the intervention will play out.
I think some thoughts on that would describe what your plans are for the enviroment would be great for voters. I would be voting in your race if I lived 1 block farther south (stupid district lines).
I’m not talking about the section you have on gas prices. I think high gas prices are a good thing, as the higher they get the quicker something will replace it.
I’m talking about what we will do to lower our rate of polution. I don’t care if China and India are doing worse than us, that is that much more of a reason why we need to do better. Someone besides Iceland needs to work on balancing all of the excess pollution generated by the US, China, Russia, and India.
I’m just a novice, but everything I read and hear says to focus on relatively few issues. And for better &/or worse, general pollution does not rise to the top 10. (Global warming, perhaps; general pollution, no.)
As for pollution, the general economist/libertarian answer would be, simply: tax the pollution at a level equal to the costs imposed on society– improving the standard of living in terms of pollution while proudly accepting the cost on the economy (lower standard of living) in other terms.