Old Drum

Commentary on Warrensburg, Johnson County and Missouri issues from a Libertarian perspective. View my earlier commentary at www.olddrum.net.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Time for Reflection

This is the day we observe Memorial Day, set aside to honor those who died in our various wars. The U.S. is suffering casualties in a continuing war in Afghanistan & Iraq and the media is rightly focusing on ceremonies in our national cemeteries and on the wounded veterans who have returned.

According to Antiwar.com, U.S. combat casualties in Iraq since 3/19/2003 are 1987 killed and about 18,000 wounded. I want to reflect on casualties in the war that led to our needing a Memorial Day - the war fought on American soil from 1861-1865. As we look at these casualty figures, it is well to remember that medical science then could not save nearly as many of those wounded as can be saved today, and that the "missing" figures might include many whose bodies were never found in addition to those made prisoner.

Here are a few of the major battles of the "late unpleasantness," Federal casualties only:
1st Manassas (Bull Run), July 21, 1861 - 481 killed, 1,011 wounded, 1,216 missing.
Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862 - 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounde, 2,885 missing.
The Seven Days, June 26-20, 1862 - 1,734 killed, 8,062 wounded, 6,053 missing.
Antietam, September 17, 1862 - 2,108 killed, 9,549 wounded, 753 missing.
Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862 - 1,284 killed, 9,600 wounded, 1,769 missing.
Murfreesboro, Deceber 31 1862-January 2, 1863 - 1,667 killed, 7,543 wounded, 3,686 missing.
Chancellorsville, May 2-3, 1863 - 1,575 killed, 9,594 wounded, 5,676 missing.
Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863 - 3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing.
Chickamuga, September 19-20, 1863 - 1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, 1,468 missing.
Wilderness-Spotsylvania, May 5-12, 1864 - 4950 killed, 15,400 wounded, 5250 missing estimated -source - Ominpelagos.com.
Cold Harbor campaign, June 1-3, 1864 - 1,800 killed, 9,000 wounded, 1,800 missing (almost half in 40 minutes on June 3rd) estimated -source - Answers.com.

The figures above, most taken from "The Civil War, Volume II" by Newman & Long (1956) have probably been revised some since, but they clearly show what the American People were willing to accept in defense of the nation. Confederate battle casualties were generally similar to the Federal casualties, if not greater, and they were Americans, too.

Like now, a lot of the media of the time flamed with criticism of the President and the war effort. Like now, factions in Congress opposed the war effort and did everything they could to hinder and investigate the conduct of the war. Like now, the President held firm against the critics in his belief that it was necessary to prosecute the war to a finish to achieve the national objectives. Even 140 years after the war ended, that President & his efforts are resented in much of the conquered territory. Like now, those who fought the war, by and large, believed that the cause they fought for was just and resented the meddling of press and politician.

I believe it diminishes the sacrifice of our dead & wounded when we question the value of that sacrifice while they are in harms way. Principled dissent is one thing; public posturing to promote a political program is something else, so if you disagree with what I have said, do it with civility (and sign your name).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Someone Made a Mistake?

Our Hancock Amendment restrictions on state government spending aren't working as well as some folks would like, so a group put together a petition drive to put even stricter restrictions on the ballot. They had no problem gathering way more signatures than required. But now advocates for unlimited government spending have sued to have the amendment taken off the ballot because of an error in the fiscal note. Who prepares the fiscal note? The State Auditor's office. The functionary who made the "mistake" says yes, he did reverse some tables. Yeah, right.

What a concept! Any time someone submits a petition the powers that be don't like, all they have to do is screw up the fiscal note, then sue to get the petitions thrown out. And I bet there's some reason why the functionary who made the "mistake" can't be fired (or sued by those who spent thousands to get the petitions in).

You take away their money, you take away their power. And we know what power does.

In Liberty

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Gleanings from City Council "work seession"

I read with interest the digitalBurg.com article on the City Council "work session." A few of their hopes and fears ned some more discussion:

1. City wide trash service, run by or contracted by the city. This presupposes that Government can do things better than private industry. Their main rationales are reducing truck traffic and people sneaking their trash into commercial dumpster. I suspect the most of the truck traffic problems have already been alleviated since there is now only one major commercial hauler in town. The night-time dumping problem will likely not go away - human nature being what it is. However, once the city takes over trash hauling, they can foist mandatory recycling upon the citizens, instead of the voluntary program that now exists.

2. The need to provide incentives for retail businesses. Is htere a reason why most of the attempts to bring "fine dining" to Warrensburg have failed? I think so - it's because going to the city makes the occasion more special. Similarly, other upscale shopping (like clothing) also pulls people to make an event of it. or any type of business, once the market here is right, the chains will come, much to the regret of the local folks put out of business. That's the marketplace, but why do we want to subsidize the outsiders?

3. The article said Mayor Arwood's greatest fear was "that the City Council would lose the community's confidence and would not support tax increases for some of these plans." Uh, you're damn right - we shouldn't be taking money from the people to give to developers!

Looking at all this, it gives me pause to reflect on the nature of our city government. We have a non-partisan system with 5 councilpersons elected at large. Currently, three of them are CMSU-connected, one is a prominent residential developer and the other has a large retail business. Major segments of the population are not represented. Perhaps as the city grows, it's time to reconsider the merits of this system as opposed to one in which councilpersons are elected to represent specific areas or constituencies?

In Liberty

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Fair Tax Book available

The Fair Tax Book is now available at Hastings for about $11 (including tax). It's the paperback, and it includes a new section explaining some of the misconceptions and questions that have cropped up since the hardbound was published. If you're intersted in getting rid of the current system, the Fair Tax is the only way to fix things. The book is by Libertarian talk show host Neal Boortz and Republican Congressman John Linder.

You can't miss the book - it has a big "ban the IRS" symbol on the front cover.

In Liberty

CMSU name change

CMSU is considering changing its name to University of Central Missouri. They've provided a website explaining the options. It goes ino a lot of background and detail, but the analysis indicates to me that they will back the change. I have no objection to the new name, and only a couple of reservations.

+ First is that they should pay for it out of donated moeny, rather than taking it from the students (the legislature already said that the annual appropriation can't be used). Since I attended classes in 1986-89, the cost per credit hour has skyrocketed. I paid about $60/hour ($750 per semester) for 12 hours with no charge for addiitonal hours; now it's almost $195/credit hour. So it would be unfair to make the students, who already pay out the nose, pay for something of doubtful real usefulness to them.

+ They're concerned about lack of growth in enrollment as compared to other Missouri universities. Because of its proximity to Kansas City, CMSU has a lot more competition for students than do the other regionals. CMSU admits its pricing strategy hasn't really worked to increase its prestige or population. I don't think a new name will make a significant difference when dealing with supply and demand.

In any case, we all have the opportunity to submit comments on-line. CMSU is important enough to our community that we all ought to make our voices heard.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Random Thoughts

We watched the Texas Ranch 1867 series on PBS this week. As one who has done a little living history of the 1860s, I found the way the people tried to live to the era (or didn't try) really interesting. I think I was on the side of the cowhands rather than the rancher (although I liked the Comanches best). One question, though - they supposedly rounded up a bunch of wild cattle and sold them to the Cavalry. The herd included a lot of steers. How'd those critters get to be steers, anyway? They don't get that way by themselves!


The KC Royals are ontheir way toward smashing the Mets' all-time single-season loss record. Why are they so bad? I don't know which ones (or all) of the many reasons cited, but I do think I know why they slipped so badly in the early 90s - the Death Tax. That's right, had the team been included in Ewing Kaufmann's estate, the estate would have been forced to sell it since it had appreciated maybe $90 million while he owned it. To keep the team in town, it became the chief asset of a charitable trust and was managed very parsimoniously by a group of directors whose chief charge was to generate the maximum $$ for charity. The actions since then haven't done anything to start the team back toward respectability. For old-time KC baseball fans (I don't go back that far), it's deja vu all over again. At least we don't have the mule.