Gregory Travis

February 14, 2004

News Release
Association of Monroe County Taxpayers

There are different kinds of taxpayer's organizations, all with different ideologies. But they all share a common concern: that of ensuring that the public's money is spent in the most beneficial, to the public, way. For years, the Association of Monroe County Taxpayers has followed the I-69 issue and, for years, we've tried to find the public benefit that justifies its enormous social, environmental, and dollar cost. As of today, we're still looking.

February 7, 2004

Business Economist Morton Marcus wrote recently of Indiana's new property taxation system and the fact that it retains much of the same capricious character of the old system, albeit a capriciousness (capriciocity?) generally targeted at a different set of folks. In particular, by moving toward a more "market value" based system, in which property taxes are supposed to more closely reflect the actual market value of the property instead of the age of its buildings and structures, the new property tax system places higher burdens on owners of older homes and of large land parcels.

January 31, 2004

Intrepid Alternative contributor Gregory Travis is hopping the globe at the moment, currently touching down in the Sandwich Islands, a/k/a/ Hawaii. Greg courageously prevailed over the primitive conditions he finds himself in to send the following dispatch to the frigid Midwest.

January 24, 2004

Although it had been nagging at my subconscious for years, it took a scene witnessed earlier this week to bring the reality of what's happening to the forefront and to give it a name. As I rode northbound on Rogers Street, I passed the site of the old RCA television factory where, for the first time in years, there was suddenly a cluster (albeit a very small one) of men working where men hadn't worked for years. On what, though, were they working?

January 17, 2004

You can see, twice a day, just by standing next to SR37. Take a position along the road in the morning and again in the late afternoon. The pattern is unmistakable.

What is it? It's the diurnal commute of employees and shoppers into Monroe County every morning and then back out to the doughnut of surrounding communities in the afternoon. Stand alongside that roadside, or any other county arterial, and observe how one direction is choked with cars in the morning and the other in the afternoon as the area literally breathes in 15,000 commuting workers in the morning and exhales them at quitting time.

December 7, 2003

Since our nation's founding, Americans have held license to an aggressive concept of the oft-abused word "freedom." For us, proper freedom consists of two salient characteristics: the promotion of rugged individualism simultaneously with the understanding that people should have no (or as few as possible) compulsory obligations to society. Or, as we say in Indiana, "No government gonna tell me what to do."

It's an ideal that's served us well for centuries. But there is just a little problem with it. When "every man for himself" is a core national value, you can expect at least some men (and women) to act pretty selfishly. Freedom, at least the American kind, is its own worst enemy, and this inherent moral hazard sets up the inevitable collision between our ideal of freedom and our deeply ingrained puritan orthodoxy.

November 29, 2003

There must be something in the water. Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels has decidedly split from the rest of his party and, to paraphrase the Democratic front-runner in the presidential contest, appears to be doggedly manning what remains of the conservative wing of the Republican party.

Well, at least the fiscally conservative wing. During his tenure in the Bush administration, Daniels had to preside over a federal budget exploding under an administration that sought to greatly increase the size, scope, and cost of the federal government, while simultaneously reducing its tax base. Rumor has it that the administration's fiscal irresponsibly finally got to Daniels, who always campaigned on a platform of slashing, not ballooning, government costs. The rest is, as they say, history. Daniels found the opportunity to exit Washington and come home to run for Governor.

November 22, 2003

A recent editorial in the Herald-Times got me thinking because the author of the editorial had gotten to chastising city councilmen Tim Mayer and Andy Ruff over ambiguous statements that each had made regarding business-as-usual plans for the community's transportation infrastructure growth. Of course the paper took its familiar pavement-is-progress position--no surprise there. But, buried between the lines of the editorial, was a more general story regarding the mechanics of growth and of our civic conception of it.

And that's a story that I can't resist telling.

November 9, 2003

"I'm anxious to see which Democratic Party shows up. If it's the party that continues to fight public/private partnerships and funding for economic development groups and continues to complain about tax abatements, that party will be very hard to work with." -- David Sabbagh, Herald Times - 11/6/03

Those were the words of Republican Councilman David Sabbagh commenting on the outcome of this week's election. What we found interesting about it was not its ominous tone but the repetition, once again, by a local conservative of decidedly un-conservative sentiments. Now everyone expects liberals to promote a mixed economy and large amounts of government meddling in the market, but when conservative candidates take every opportunity to argue against laissez-faire and for an expanded government role in business, as they did in this last election, we tend to sit up and take notice.

November 2, 2003

"You know, when someone claims a conspiracy involving their arrest on a DUI charge you can almost always bet they're grasping at straws. It's fascinating that this time it looks like there actually was a conspiracy."

That was the comment heard by CIVITAS from a colleague this Friday. The colleague, who usually spends the bulk of his time attending to his Ph.D coursework and his job, had picked up on the week's developments in the Scott Wells DUI trial. His comments, and other developments leading up to next week's election got us thinking about political tactics in the county, particularly the right's tactics of self-destruction.

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