Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Speaking of Bad Days

I was wrong. As was so eloquently pointed out by my predecessor, the current combined city/county/state sales tax is already at the maximum allowed by current state law. Mea Culpa.

I do wonder how the State is planning to handle their budget overrun, not to mention what will happen with all of the cities in Texas that are in budget crunches themselves due to promises of unsustainable salaries and pensions. I suppose the state will have to get a second job? It's not like they can legislate themselves more money through changes to the tax code and additional "fees," right?

Even in San Angelo, we are in the middle of a massive recession, but I'm not sure our town knows it. Our city council has just announced a brand-spanking new holiday for city workers, giving them one more holiday than even the bloated federal government. The small percentage of citizens that bothered to vote earlier this month passed permanence on the 1/2 cent sales tax so that we can pay to get another water source "for the future," even though we've already paid for this one once. Two or three years ago our water fees doubled to replace the water and sewer lines that were supposed to be being maintained by the extant water fees we had already been paying. While not directly city controlled, there was also the increase in property values (up as much as 500% in some areas) by the "non-city government" assessment district, so that we are now paying more in property taxes even though the tax rate officially "decreased."

Historically, the city council of San Angelo has a poor track record of keeping it's word on infrastructure issues. It also has a history of making ordinances that lessen individual freedoms (one example is the "garage sale" issue just weeks ago), but then don't bother to enforce existing ordinances that would probably preclude the new issues in the first place. In contrast, they will enforce obscure, ancient ordinances if it suits their purposes ("no tossing a ball to and fro on city streets", that is if you happen to be suspected of being a drug dealer).

Pardon me if I don't trust the city council and local government to be looking out for the best interests of the individual San Angeloan. The city is looking out for the city government's best interest. That's how bureaucracy works -- its purpose is to decentralize decision making (to cover bureaucratic butts) and to expand to fill available space. While everyone else is having to cut corners and spend less, it's business as usual for government.

That's why I "joined" the libertarian party. I was looking for like-minded individuals who would work for the REVERSAL of government spending and handouts, commercial or private; people who would stand up to the local governments to prevent them from stepping on the individuals of San Angelo, not just watch them do it.

Perhaps ConchoInfo was right. Maybe I shouldn't have been the one to take over this blog. I tend to say what's on my mind. But I was the only one who would step up, and I will keep it until directly asked to leave. Funny thing about libertarians: individuals tend to be, well, individual.

In the coming weeks, I'm going to try and get back to what I wanted to do in the first place, and explain in layman's terms what libertarianism really means, and how it can be used at the local level to improve citizen government of themselves. It's about protecting individual rights and the limitation of government intrusion on consensual human interaction.

We really can have that in San Angelo. If we try.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Good Days and Bad Days

Today is a good day to be a Republican. Republicans have taken over control of the House of Representatives. Hopefully, they have learned a lesson from the massacre of 2008. The "Tea Party" movement had a so-so night, but most of the Republicans took notice of them anyway. The most likely Speaker of the House mentioned smaller government, lower taxes, personal responsibility. Sounds like a good plan. I hope they stick to it.

Today is a good day to be a Democrat. They held onto the Senate (and the Presidency, which was not up for grabs). They don't have a filibuster proof majority any longer, but the Majority leader won his race, and the hard-core leftists are still with us. (It was mostly the moderates that got creamed last night.) So, we'll have to see if the Democrats in the Senate can work with the Republicans in the House to get work done in Washington D.C.

Today isn't a good day to be a Libertarian, at least not locally. The "majority" (actually about 1/6th of registered voters) in San Angelo decided that private property rights just aren't that important anymore. The most restrictive smoking ban in the state will begin on January 1st right here in Monterey East.

To make it worse, the 1/2 cent sales tax has now been made permanent. Looking into my crystal ball, I see a rise in the 1/2 cent tax to 3/4 cents in a couple of years, later to be replaced with the 1 cent sales tax. The only way they had a chance to raise the limit was to make it permanent first.

On the bright side, my children and grandchildren won't have to worry about paying the extra taxes. Neither one can find a decent job here in town, even with the economic slush fund (funded by the 1/2 cent sales tax, no?). They'll move on to greener pastures, where perhaps, just perhaps, they can open a business without "good ole boys" getting into their business.

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat


Friday, October 29, 2010


In the past month or so, as I have been reading the comments in the on-line version of the Standard Times, I have noticed an unusual amount of libertarian thought being expressed by people who are both Democrats and Republicans. Many have expressed a desire to vote for the Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass for Governor. Unfortunately, these expressions are usually followed by "but I would be wasting my vote," or "a vote for Kathie Glass is a vote for Bill White."

I feel that Texas needs a new governor. Unfortunately for us all, the Republicans would only put up two political class participants for the run, and then they held their noses and voted to run the Emperor again. While the ‘Tea Party’ force is strong in this state, even they were not able to put up a viable fight against Perry. The Democrats, having a prime opportunity to make hay by moving towards the center, picked a left-leaning, sanctuary city loving statist with Clinton baggage (endorsed by the Standard Times) to oppose Perry. Now, they expect us to choose between those two.

Kathie Glass is a better choice. We will not only be making a statement to the political class, we could be giving Texas a governor that does not want to rule Texas, but to lead Texas through these tough times. Kathie Glass will look not to massive government and regulation to “stimulate” us into bankruptcy, but will start to get government out of our way so we ourselves can stimulate the economy.

If you go to the polls, and hold your nose and vote for your "party," you are telling the political class in this state that it's "business as usual." We poor "chattering class" of people would be stating with our votes that we do not have the power to affect change in the political system.

I hope that the people who are as fed up as I am with BOTH political parties would join me in throwing away our votes for Kathie Glass for Governor.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Not About Left and Right

What, exactly, is a conservative Democrat in this congress? They've voted, in masse, for every far-left liberal hair-brained scheme of every liberal wet dream for two years, and spend over a Trillion dollars over what they brought in. That's not "conservative" in any way.

This isn't about "left" and "right," as much as the press and current administration want everyone thinking it is. It's the "statists" (big govenment, higher spending/taxes) and "libertarians" (little "L", small government, lower spending/taxes) that are duking it out. And the statists, both Democrat and Republican, are getting their rear ends handed to them. That's what is going on this election.

The current Democrat Party has swung so far left in the past four years that even it doesn't recognize itself, let alone the Republican party. The fringe far-left is in charge of the Democrats.

Some in the Republican party have been trying to pull it to the left as well (Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain). But the Republican base, largely conservative, is beginning to fight back.

The people in "flyover country" are still "middle-right/slightly libertarian", where they have always been, and their wishes are being completely ignored by the political elite.

Now they're fed up.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Constitution Day

There was a letter published in the Sub-Standard Times recently by a professor of Political Science at Angelo State University. I don't know what I find more disgusting: Either this professor is blindly spouting a political philosophy that he doesn't believe for the sake of his party, or he really believes this drivel.

The "complex" issues and situations we are facing today were certainly imagined by the Constitution's framers. They warned us about tyranny. They warned us about
charlatanism. They warned us that the tree of liberty, from time to time, must be watered by the blood of tyrants. They warned that a free press (not the dog washing, cheer leading "mainstream" media) was essential to freedom. The only thing that they didn't foresee was the complete collapse of freedom of thought and unbiased education in the United States.

It is the FOUNDING PRINCIPLES contained in the Constitution that the liberals are trying to change. Those PRINCIPLES are non-negotiable in a free society. That's why people are so angry. It's not about the Democrats being "in charge." It's not because the President is black (or, half-black to be honest for a change). It's because the liberal left has chosen now to try and FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE (President's words) this country.

You see, it doesn't matter that the founders didn't know about Twitter or Facebook, only that the right to free speech should still be unencumbered, regardless of the means.

The FOUNDING PRINCIPLES are found in the preamble to the Constitution:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

We, the People of the United States: All of us. Not the nobles, or the upper class, middle class, or the poor. ALL OF US. The people are establishing this constitution to limit what other of our citizens may decide to do to us at a later time. The Constitution is about control; control of those who would govern the rest of us. Control by the people over the government they are creating.

In order to form a more perfect union: The Articles of Confederation just wasn't working. The founders felt there was already a "union" of like-minded people looking towards a common purpose. They were trying to make it better.

Establish justice: all people treated equally. No special favors for a perceived elite, nor special treatment of a perceived "under-served" or "disadvantaged". A man's worth is his own.

Insure domestic tranquility: the Federal government needs the power to squash rebellion and smooth tensions between states.

Provide for the common defense: This should be self-explanatory. It really would be nice if the jokers in Washington would bother to actually do this.

Promote the General Welfare: General welfare, not the seizing of one person's property or life in order to serve another. There are numerous historical events which back up the fact that the framers, and most congresses and administrations through the liberal/progressive insurrections of the 1920s, knew that the federal treasury was not to be used for charity. Now under the charity clause, er, I mean general welfare clause we have TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS in individual handouts (meaning taking money from person "A" and giving it to person "B"), Medicare, Medicaide, OBAMACARE, Social Security, etc, etc, etc. Over HALF OF THE FEDERAL BUDGET is in handouts.

Secure the blessings of liberty: There are over 140,000 FEDERAL LAWS that you could be breaking right now. Do you know even 1% of them? This nation is so completely overwhelmed with regulation that it is nearly impossible to do anything. This government was supposed to be limited in its purpose. We were supposed to be free to do as we desired, so long as our desires did not deprive other citizens of their rights or property.

To ourselves and our posterity: All we've done is screw our posterity with debt and regulation.

Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It's the principle of the thing.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Smoke "Free" San Angelo

I’m wondering: Is “Smoke Free San Angelo” worried about our collective health? Or are they worried about their own?

I would like to know why these 4,500 people (those who signed the petition) really want to go to The Lone Wolf, or the Saddle Bronc. Maybe it’s La Casa or the Horseshoe Lounge. I’m not sure, but they are demanding that those establishments be smoke free in case they want to take their children there.

Or, perhaps they are really concerned about the patrons of those places. After all, bars and taverns would otherwise rival fitness clubs for health if they just wouldn’t allow SMOKING. It’s not like alcoholics driving home have ever harmed anyone.

So, what’s next? How about a city ordinance that mandates the use of condoms for any and all sexual activity? That is another pleasurable, personal choice that people make that may harm others. And why not? If 4,500 people can demand that the other 96,000 people bend to their will, it will only be a matter of time until they outlaw other behaviors they find distasteful. I sure hope they aren’t of a particular denomination…

Maybe my personal pet peeve will be next on the “ban” list: driving while distracted. I’m sure these soccer moms are really personally counseling the U.N. on world peace just after dropping off their spawn at the local no-one loses activity, but I seriously doubt it. I cannot think of a single reason to call anyone while operating a motor vehicle. Let’s ban that next.

OK. Enough childish venting from me; I’ll never be able to compete against the smoking banners in that department.

Instead, I’ve got a personal challenge to “Smoke Free San Angelo” to see if they are a reasonable group, or if they are just self-important, self-appointed former hall monitors wanting to control other’s behaviors:

Option One: Request the proposed ordinance be dropped. Get your people together, get with the local restaurant association, and petition them to ban smoking in their restaurants. If the business owner wants your business, they will comply. That is the way community activism is supposed to work. The business owners would be allowed to choose. This would mean losing your control over the lives of people, but it would mean that you can go to a restaurant – even a restaurant that serves alcohol, without having to deal with the “evil smokers.” They can continue to pollute their lungs in other places. Caution: this will anger your corporate sponsors.

Option Two: Modify your proposed ordinance to exclude any business that carries the “51%” sign. Those businesses make more than 51% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol. All of those establishments cater to adults, and generally aren't known as fitness establishments. This option would show that, while you still want to control other people’s behavior, you understand that there are individuals who do not share your values. That ordinance would probably gain more popular support, as there are even smokers (as evil as they are) who do not smoke in restaurants. They don’t even have to have statists (look it up) tell them not to. This is known as a compromise: it means everybody loses.

Option Three: Continue operating as you are. Your group’s demeaning, belittling, and emotion-based arguments will only persuade more people who are fed up with government to fight against you and your trumped up cause. Come November, you will actually lose in the election, and will have to put up with those evil smokers in the city parks that were built by other’s money JUST FOR YOU and your little overprotected liberal spawn. Maybe then you can petition the City Council to just do it on their own. This is known as the power of government over the will of the people.

I look forward to hearing from the “San Angelo Banners” on this matter. There are other ways to get their desired results. Forcing people to do what you want is childish.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How Much is a Man Worth?

Here it is, Tuesday again. I had previously prepared a nice little primer on the Libertarian Party for this week’s post. However, having parted with over $5,500 of my hard earned dollars last week, I thought that maybe I’d tackle another issue instead.

When I added it up this year, with Federal Income Tax, Social Security, Medicare, and local property taxes (not including sales tax), I was taxed at an effective rate of 32%. So, at 11:12 AM on Thursday, I stop being paid for the rest of the week. Or, to look at it realistically, I don’t start getting paid until about 1:00 PM on Tuesdays. Mondays really suck.

A man’s work is his life. I don’t mean that figuratively. It is an exchange of a portion of his life for something of value to him. In colonial times, a man bartered and exchanged the product of his labor for other necessities. Soon coins were used for the same purpose, in addition to the bartering system.

Later, coined money became the main means of purchase. A man exchanges his labor for a piece of gold or silver, and exchanges that piece of gold or silver for the things he needs. It was basically the same arrangement as before, but it made life a little simpler. Instead of taking a cow to the market and exchanging it for 20 bushels of corn that had to be stored, you could just sell the cow, and buy the corn as you needed it. Local, private banks were the norm. The U.S. went on the gold standard in 1873. The Federal Government’s role was to make the exchanges “regular” and fair.

Then, in 1913 things changed. The Federal government amended the constitution to tax your labor. They also established the Federal Reserve System to standardize paper money. In 1914, the Federal Reserve note was the standard of payment, and was backed by gold. But no longer was the exchange between just people. Now the Federal government was involved. It was only 1% for most people; only the rich had to pay 6%. In one fail swoop, the federal government reduced a man’s life by 1%-6% annually. It had taken the political class 122 years to undo the Constitution, and forever change the balance of power from the producers to the moochers. And our great-great-grandparents let them do it.

Once they had their foot in the door, it was only a matter of time. Who could complain about 1%, right? Then it became 2%, and then higher. They taxed everything. They taxed your income, the products you bought, and the services you used. They taxed your property and your investments. And our great-grandparents let them do it.

Next, in 1933, they took the paper money off of the gold standard, and in 1964 they were taken off any precious metal standard. The paper money was now only as good as the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government.” The paycheck soon became the standard method of payment. But the government had already gotten their cut before the worker. It was only fair, since it’s the government’s money, right? And our grandparents let them do it.

Now, most don’t even get the paper. It has been reduced to numbers on a computer. And the Federal government takes its cut before you even know you earned it. They tell us that the people who make more money don’t really earn it, they’re given the money. They are just more fortunate than the rest. And too many of us have bought that crap.

But, in essence, work is still the same. It is still an exchange of labor for goods. It's just that now, a man's life is worth less, and the Federal government gets a cut of your labor – and your life - first. They decide how much of our own money we get to keep. The rest, they spend and give away as they see fit. And we are supposed to be thankful to them. Trust me, our children will care when it’s their turn. And they will hate us for it.

At least, that’s the way I see it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What is Libertarianism ?

There are no "Democratic" ideals, nor are there "Republican" ones. The main philosophies of the two parties are generally liberal (left) and conservative (right), but there are both conservatives and liberals in each party. What we normally hear about the political spectrum is that there is a "left" and a "right." Anywhere in between is called "centrist". The fact is that the political "left" and "right" that we hear so much about only concerns government actions towards economics and "personal" issues. There is more to government, and life, than that.

There are many other political philosophies. If you only get your information from the main-stream media and government education (AKA "public" schools and universities), you may think there are only two viable philosophies: conservatism and liberalism. There are many others. Of note, there is libertarianism (individual rights and responsibilities) and statistism (big government) that cover the same left-right spectrum, but also add the specific role of government in society. There is also democracy (mob rule), socialism (income redistribution, government ownership of business or "far left"), communism (government ownership of everything, including government control of the economy, or "extreme left"), and fascism (private ownership but government control of business and the economy, which is still on the "left") to name a few. There is also a 'laissez faire' or largely unregulated economics in the "far right" column. Let's not forget authoritarianism (theocracy (religious rule), absolute monarchy, and dictatorship, or "extreme right") and anarchy (chaos, no government) as well. Most all have been tried, and all have largely failed over other, more representative types of government.

Libertarianism, as a philosophy, believes in the primacy of the individual -- personal rights; personal responsibilities; personal property; small and limited government. That's the simplicity of libertarianism. In this philosophy, the government exists only to protect individuals from external harm (foreign invasion), and protect individuals from other individuals in cases of fraud and deceit. Individuals are free to interact peacefully as they wish, with little government involvement or regulation of those consensual, peaceful interactions. You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (where have I heard that before?) as long as your pursuit doesn't interfere with the rights of others to do the same. Both the Conservatives and Liberals want to control aspects of your life. The Libertarians want you to be responsible for your own life.

While libertarianism allows for individual rights, individuals are also responsible for the results of these consensual interactions. We are all products of our individual decisions. Decisions used to have consequences. Now, government has imposed itself to assist those who make bad decisions. Instead of learning from the negative consequences of bad decisions, they can continue to make bad decisions without negative consequences. People become "victims" of their own mistakes. Or they are "disadvantaged" because they continue to make them. Libertarians would rather be allowed to succeed or fail on their own. Charity is an individual virtue, not a government program.

Finally, libertarianism is more than a political affiliation. It is a philosophy and a way of life. We are all libertarian by birth. It has to be trained out of you, which the current educational system in the U.S. is designed to do. Libertarianism is human nature. Libertarians believe that the fruits of our labor belong to us, to retain or give away at our desire. We all believe that we are the masters of ourselves. Libertarians believe that interactions between consenting, peaceful individuals need no governance, oversight, or regulation. We should all believe that we have no right to someone else's property or services.

I believe government is the opposite of liberty. While there is a need for government in society, the government should be limited in scope and responsive to society -- not an overlord of society.

So where do you fall in the political spectrum? It might surprise you. As a start, I suggest you take five minutes and try the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” at http://www.theadvocates.org/quizp/index.html. There are only 10 questions, and, if you answer honestly to them all, the chart will show you where you really are politically.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


First off, I'd like to thank Jim Turner for his service to San Angelo. I had to chuckle a bit at the thought of trying to organize Libertarians for anything. That seems to me a lot like herding cats. Libertarians, by nature, are individualists, and the task of organizing a group like that can be overwhelming. While I am certain Jim will be commenting from time to time, I hope he will continue to contribute on this blog as well. There is no better source of real, unbiased information on Tom Green County and San Angelo city politics and day-to-day functioning as the Concho Info blog. Keep up the great work. And thank you again.

Second, a bit about me. I was born and raised near Houston, Texas. I served in the Marine Corps, in the U.S. and overseas, in peace and war, for over 24 years before retiring in 2006. I moved to San Angelo, and began working for a defense contractor training soldiers at Goodfellow AFB. My nickname comes from my dogs, Smoke and Shadow. If you need to, please call me "Top."

I'm libertarian by nature; Libertarian by choice.

Finally, I've offered to contribute to this blog in the hopes I can help explain libertarianism and to garner support for libertarian ideals and participation in the political process in Tom Green County. As Tip O'Neal has been often quoted, "All politics is local." San Angelo and Tom Green County have long been afflicted with apathetic voter turnout and a long-standing tradition of "good-ole-boy" politics. In one place of agreement I have with President Obama, it is a time for change. Let's see if we can.

I hope to provide interesting topics for discussion between all people of any political affiliation. I do not intend for this blog to become merely a mouthpiece for the Texas Libertarian Party. My postings are mine alone; I have received no guidance from anyone. I hope for robust discussions in the comments to each article. I only ask that, when the inevitable disagreements begin, everyone try to POST TO THE IDEAS presented, and NOT TO THE INDIVIDUALS posting the ideas.

I'll get things started very soon. I plan to post every other Tuesday for now. Until then, have a nice day -- if you are so inclined, of course ;-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I just resigned as the organizer of the Tom Green County Libertarian Party Meetup, and I will no longer hold an office in the Libertarian party. I have been with the Libertarian Party here locally for about 16 years, and off and on county chair and organizer of all the meetings for around 5 years. I give up.

I don't know how to get the local libertarians organized. I have spent money I don't have and spent wasted hours trying to get people involved and doing things. I had some hope after Robert Butler was here twice, and we had reasonable turn outs and it look like maybe something would happen, and it probably could have. I tried to find someone to take over as county chair as I needed a break, but that really didn't work out. There are a few people that show up and complain about the political situation, but no progress has been made under my watch. I must take responsibility for the current state of the local party and therefore I am resigning from all positions. Someone else will have to take up the challenge.

There are some good people among the local libertarians. Hopefully one of them will step up and do what I couldn't

Goodbye and goodluck.

p.s. I will leave this blog up for a month. If no one contacts me to take it over, I will take it down.