Monday, October 30, 2006

The Georgia Debates for Governor

I have taken the time to watch two of the first three debates for the position of governor of Georgia. I wish others would do so as well.

Sonny Perdue, (who is the current governor and a democrat that turned republican), and Mark Taylor( the lt. governor and a poster boy for what one who is raised at birth as a liberal will believe) are an embarrassment to the state. It is incredible to believe that this is the best that the state of Georgia can offer us.

Garrett Hayes, the libertarian candidate, was concise, state on the topic, and offered real solutions to the problems of bigger and bigger government.

Let's look at the topic of education and how the three candidates responded. Taylor accuses Purdue of cutting funding to schools, and says that the evidence can be found online.

I took the time to look at expenditures per pupil for the years 2001 through 2005 and they are as follows:

2001 $6,536 per student
2002 $6,978 per student
2003 $7,279.82 per student
2004 $7,261.37 per student
2005 $7,425.53 per student

There certainly does not appear to be a long term cut there. The fact that we are spending nearly $900 per student more in 2005 than in 2001 has been omitted by Taylor. Instead it is a game of semantics. The school districts are getting more dollars from the state, but instead of the state funding 65% of the school district, it is funding 60%. So Taylor is claiming that this is a cut. Not very truthful to say the least.

Meanwhile, Hayes wants to put the dollars and the control back into the hands of the local school district(and closer to the parents of the students). This way the parents can demand accountability at the local level. Neither Perdue or Taylor would like this, as it would reduce their influence statewide.

Then we had the issue of Sonny's land deals both in Florida and here in Georgia. The smirk on Sonny's face as he defends these breaks and omissions is rather obvious. Taylor has asked how many other georgians benefitted from the midnight backdoor tax break. Purdue knows he has access to this answer as a short call to the Georgia Dept of Revenue could run a program and see how many taxpayers took this break.

Garrett Hayes once again pointed out that all of this just points to the fact that the code is too complicated and that a complicated code leads to breaks for one individual or group over another. Reducing the Georgia State income tax until it is gone would take care of this issue forever. But once again, neither Taylor or Perdue would want this, as their power would once again shrink.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What's in a Name?

There was a time where I thought that a child should be allowed to select their own first name at an appropriate age. Names can have a powerful influence on individuals. Witness the research that shows that kids named Dennis are more likely to become dentists than they are any other profession. Or that women named Georgia, born outside of Georgia, are more likely to move to Georgia than any other state. The same goes for women named Virginia. It's too bad that my parents did not name me Kona. And I wonder how many parents are now second guessing their decision to name their child Dakota?

This subject got me thinking about the fact that I have many other names besides my first name. I wonder how much they impact who I am and what I have become. I wonder if others can look at me and see that list of names as defining who I am. So, for the fun of it, I have begun to create a list of names that I have had in my life. Below is a start:

Home Owner
Former Husband

Driving around with this thought in my head I would have bet the bank that there would be so many more names for me. I may need to have some time to reflect on that. Am I not all that I think I am?

Some of the names can go with one another,while their are some names that you must be exclusively, as I cannot be both a republican and a libertarian at the same time.

Why Conservative Control Creates Liberal Outcomes

Conservative voters celebrated when they felt they gained control of the presidency, the house and the senate. Of course they are not celebrating now. What went wrong and why was the outcome not the one conservative voters anticipated?

First, in the past 20 years, 14 members of the house and the senate switched parties and became republicans. This merely meant that the dividing line between the parties had shifted, and that now republicans included a more liberal bias. A different outcome would have been achieved if that dividing line had not shifted, and instead conservative voters had elected 14 members that were conservative along the old lines.

Think of it this way: 14 people who had views that need not be considered in your decisions now had a voice and were allowed to be heard. Imagine 14 executives leaving Apple to work for Microsoft. Do you think that the future of Microsoft would not have an Apple flavor?

Another way to look at it is this: If the numbers 1 through 5 represent liberals, and the liberal average is a 2.5, while the conservatives number 6-10 and the conservative average is 7.5, then taking the 5 from the liberals and adding to the conservatives now makes a liberal centrist a 2, while a conservative centrist is a 7. After the switch the liberals are more liberal, and the conservatives are more liberal, too. So which ideaology benefits from this switch? Yes, the liberals.

Secondly, once the republican party had control of all three groups, the democratic minority party had nothing to lose by taking more extreme and liberal positions and publicizing those positions, forcing the republicans to shift even further left to cause the gap to shrink. This is why Nancy Pelosi became their leader. The entire republican party had to become more liberal, and actually tried to outspend the liberals on all sorts of agendas that they would have been against had they been in the minority themselves. By trying to appear more compassionate than in the past, they acted more liberal than at any time in the past. The result is that the liberals will scream "Not enough" even as the republicans propose more than ever in liberal programs.

Third, this happened not only at the federal level, but at the state level across the nation. Georgia has a republican governor that has been a republican for less time than I have been a libertarian. In effect, the democrats took control of the elections by being able to offer a democrat and a democrat light, removing any serious opposition. As proof, witness Sonny Purdue's effort to remove all those over 65 from the liability of state income tax. Shifting the burden of income tax is a liberal move, not a conservative one. True conservatives would have attempted to reduce the burden on all taxpayers, not a select group.

Do you really believe that if the republicans in congress would have been the minority party, that they would have wanted Mark Foley to continue as a representative in light of his text messaging scandel? Would a minorty conservative party have allowed spending to go on unabated?

If you do not believe that what I have described is or can happen, look at the election contest of Cynthia McKinney in Georgia. Republican voters switched parties and moved that district towards a more conservative yet still democratic candidate.

At least it is good to see this affects both parties, albeit in different ways. A good start to eliminating this issue, and letting the voters get what they actually vote for is to eliminate the barriers to third party candidates. As the United States has become more and more segmented, isn't it time our political processes catch up and reflect the interests of the voters.