Burt n’ Kurt

Last night’s episode of Glee was unfortunately lacking One Sue Sylvester™, but it did have one scene in particular worth talking about. This is FOX, in it’s primetime slot right after American Idol, with a Dad from “Real America” (western Ohio) talking about how to love and protect his gay son. Unlike drag shows, this actually helps.

On a related note, I just realized last  night that their names are Burt and Kurt. Cute.

The iPad is Great

Now that it’s been a couple months since I’ve had my iPad, I should really tell you that it’s great. I’m using it to tap out this blog right now.

I’ve been using my iPad this evening, sitting on the couch and surfing the web, playing Sim City, watching YouTube videos and managing email for almost 90 minutes and I didn’t even know that much time had passed.

The Kindle and iBooks apps are great, too. I’ve used both to read more books in the last few weeks than I have read in the last few months. Plus, it appears that Amazon has slashed some Kindle eBooks to just mere dollars. I’ve been snatching up all kinds of books for $2 or $3. Even a cheapskate like me can pay that. It beats going to the library, only because it’s so easy. I wish digital libraries existed so we could all share great books.

It’s a really neat device and well worth the money. And the now poorly-named iPhone OS 4 is really going to make this a dream to use.

Freedom of Common Sense

My apologies for the long tirade. It’s rather personal to me, so it’s nice for me to flesh out my thoughts…


I wasn’t able to vote in a presidential election until this past one, where I voted for Barack Obama. Frankly, McCain and the Ghost of Mrs. Twit weren’t really viable alternatives. Obama fit the bill with me pretty well and was a smooth performer and seemed articulate, smart and generally a good guy with a good heart. But lately, I’ve felt a little disenfranchised. I don’t regret my vote — at least not yet — but I don’t feel like Obama is making good on the things that were most important to me (and a lot of other people).

For years, I’ve dubbed myself as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal”. I call this “common sense” — it even says on my Facebook profile next to “Political Views”. I like the idea of a government that doesn’t spend or take much, but makes sure everyone’s protected and respected. My government currently doesn’t do either of those things. Congress ran out of checks 3 years ago and maxed out all the credit cards 2 years ago. Now, we’re just scribbling “IOU” on napkins. It’ll be an economic disaster when the bills come due and something my generation will have to deal with.

My government doesn’t do much to protect people, either. I’m not talking about protecting us from banks and GM, I’m talking about protecting us from one another. Frankly, my government should be in the business of doing what’s right, even if it’s not politically good. I’m talking, of course, about gay rights, women’s rights and the like. Plus, there’s something wrong when my government can suddenly start, stop or twist a private business around overnight.

That’s why I’m switching parties. I’m switching to the Libertarian party. Frankly, I don’t know why I hadn’t been more involved with these guys before. The Tea Party resonates a lot of Libertarian beliefs — namely, stop taking and spending my money on shit I and no one else cares about. But, I’m not a Tea Partier — most of those guys seem kinda nutty. But ever since Rand Paul, the Senate GOP Candidate running in Kentucky, got some press for his views on property rights, it’s weighed heavily on my mind and his success is largely fueled by the Tea Partiers in Kentucky. While he is running as a Republican, it’s an awfully small “r” and it’s really just so he can get on the ballot. These kinds of small “r”, mostly Libertarian, politicos I can get behind. Folks like Ron Paul, Mitch Daniels, etc. They take the approach of “let’s make people’s lives better by butting out of their lives as much as we can.”

Libertarians seem to be a consistent bunch, that’s for sure. And boy do I appreciate consistency. Ever try reading comments on articles on the Huffington Post or watch FOX News? Those guys can’t keep a straight story together. Libertarians always have an easy, simple, plain and common-sense approach to everything: “Yeah. We probably shouldn’t even bother with that.”

Here are some of my conclusions on various issues that match up pretty darn perfectly with the Libertarians.

Education

No one ever complains about Catholic schools. No one ever complains about Jewish schools or Christian schools or anything else. Why? Because if a parent has a problem with those schools, they don’t have to fund them or send their kids to those schools. Let’s do the same with traditional public schools and put ’em in competition mode to get results and support, innovate their way to success and let parents send their kids wherever they want. Then, when bat shit crazy Texan wing nuts want to stamp Jesus and a gun on Algebra II — fine, whatever. Your crazy asses won’t be around for much longer anyway. And if they do stick around, those parents would have instilled the same message on the kids anyway.

Taxes

The bellwether for any politician, this is really simple: tax only for the bare necessities and let everyone manage their own money, their own savings and their own lives the way they want. For example, I hate Social Security. It’ll be gone before I get to draw anything from it. It’s a stupid idea anyway. Who thought of that shit hole? “Hey, I have an idea. How about we make everyone pay into a big pot of money, then, when they get to an arbitrary age they can all draw from the same pot of money!” It’s the closest thing to a government pyramid scheme anyone has ever imagined and for all the money people put into the program, they don’t get nearly the same amount out of it.

I have a better idea: how about you let me invest my own money how I see fit? Then, in the event that I die before I ever get to draw, or I find a way to make more by investing it wisely, I’m all set with my own estate plans and don’t get screwed out of my own money. Better yet, we won’t waste public money on people who don’t need it . Are we seriously going to give Bill Gates and Warren Buffet a Social Security check!?

Yes, someone will say, “but what about all those people who don’t save money?” Well. I guess they screwed up, huh?

Transportation

Every city in the nation with a transportation system is sitting around scratching their heads on what to do with just about every piece of subway, rail and transit line they have. It’s all falling apart, yet they keep building on to these things and they never have a way to make repairs. Indy’s sitting in the enviable spot of being on the cusp of change on all of this and, sadly, it looks like there’s going to be a push for a massive public funding effort for the same rail lines everyone else can’t afford.

The Libertarian stance on public transit seems to be, from my readings, that it’s better to let private companies figure out and compete on ways to make busses and trains work. I could run off the wagon train just a bit to get behind the idea of government subsidies for some poor, elderly and disabled people to get cheaper fares.

They’re already tons of private shuttles and busses all over the place anyway. I’m sure they’d be happy to figure out ways to run another block or two.

Foreign Policy

America is over here between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Our empire doesn’t need to exist all over the globe — bring everyone home, join in with allies as necessary and keep wars and conflict at zero. If someone rattles our crib, we’ll get up and kick ass, then come home and have a beer.

Gay Rights / Abortion Rights

Libertarians seem pretty straightforward on abortion: “Well. You’re the adult.”

As for gay rights, it’s the same thing — two consenting adults can do whatever they want. The interesting thing here is they believe what I’ve thought for years in that government shouldn’t be meddling in marriages. If people want to be married in the eyes of Jesus, Buddha or the Flying  Spaghetti Monster, go to your own freakin’ church. The government, to instill protections in terms of real estate, guardianships, finances, kids, etc. should only offer up civil unions. Then, folks can choose to have a civil union and a religious union, or one and not the other and you can choose which benefits you want. Only want to get married in a church? Fine, but when your spouse goes to the hospital, don’t expect visitation rights. You’re the adult — you decide. This makes the gay marriage issue moot, because suddenly there’s absolutely no tinge of religious or historical precedents in “marriage” to mess with.

I guess, in close, this all makes perfect sense to me that adults should do whatever they want, however they want, so long as it doesn’t endanger me or my property (so no firing fireworks and guns off your roof right next to mine, don’t drive 110 MPH on the highway, stay off my lawn, etc.). Keep the government limited in scope and size and let the adults be adults.

IndyGo Resembles a Bus Crash Scene

This IndyGo dealio is really like watching a bus collide with another bus:

They showed that routes the agency plans to cut — the 11, 55 and 87 — have among the lowest ridership of all 29 routes.

They explained that the door-to-door paratransit service, known as Open Door, is far more expensive to operate than fixed-route service — $35 per passenger versus about $4.

Well. There’s yer problem, son. IndyGo’s average rider fare is $1.75. They want to raise it $2. That means they’re, uh, still $2 short. If it costs $4 per passenger to operate the system, I’d be charging $4 a rider!

Assuming a person were to drive from one end of Marion County to Downtown, that’d be about 11 miles. The average cost-per-mile to include wear-and-tear, gas, oil, insurance, etc. is 50 cents a mile. That’s $5.50, or $11.00 round-trip by car. A bus fare would be $8, round-trip at the full cost to the rider, which is still a net savings of $3 for the rider to take the bus.

Heck, they could raise the fares to $3 a trip and there’d be even more savings for the rider vs. driving a car and they’d close their budget cap overnight. Or, you could subsidize some riders and not others. They’re a number of riders that take the bus because they can’t drive — maybe they have DUIs, seizures, want to be eco-friendly or are just plain afraid to get in a car. They may likely be perfectly capable of affording a car, but can’t or just don’t want to drive one. In which case, charge them $4 a ride and the poor folks can get a $3 fare.

Somehow, though, that was lost among those at the public hearing:

“It took me an hour and a half to get from my house to Washington (Street to catch the bus),” said regular IndyGo rider Nora Wright, her voice shaking with anger. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Then came the personal attacks and accusations.

“Thank you for lying to us all!” one person yelled toward a table where IndyGo employees were seated.

Another man, shouting at Terry, demanded to know: “What kind of car do you drive?” (Terry said he hasn’t owned a car since the 1990s.)

She’s right — that’s not right. IndyGo needs to beef up and attract more riders. They do that by improving service and adding busses to make it more convenient and faster. A 10 minute car trip takes 40 minutes by bus, if you’re lucky enough to live and work close to the stops. And you fix these problems by generating revenue. They can’t look to the government for funding — there isn’t any. Alas, raise the fares on a tiered system to provide better service, get people where they need to go and all the while helping those less fortunate.