Archive for April 15th, 2009

H.W. "Sputnik" Strain

H.W. "Sputnik" Strain

The open air and miles of asphalt stretch out all across the U.S.  Bikers nationwide consider the open road a home away from home and the desire to explore is sometimes described as a spiritual calling.  To ride with the wind in your face and be free on the open road is like nothing else.

But, are we truly “free?”

Some in the motorcycle community believe we’ve sold our grandchildren into slavery to a totalitarian government by not being involved in the full spectrum of political debate.  One such person is H.W. (Bill) “Sputnik” Strain who founded in 1992 the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association (TMRA2).  As State Chairman he describes its purpose as returning Texas to the Representative Republic as envisioned by those who founded the state and this nation. TMRA2 is a member driven association with a pledge to keep motorcycle citizens informed of the daily political happenings in the state and around the nation. They work tirelessly to introduce and pass Bills into law, that are favorable to Texas Citizens and to try and prevent bad Bills from becoming law.

Sputnik is a hard-boiled and fiery mohawked activist who is consider by many to be the Patrick Henry of bikers.  A well respected member of the NCOM Legislative Task Force who has been reasonably successful in his home state is now looking to go nationwide to help return our country to the Constitutional Republic as envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

There is an excellent interview in the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies (IJMS) by Darilynn McClure which provides an insightful glimpse of the man behind the “Free” tattoo.

UPDATE: June 28, 2010 — Last Thursday (June 24, 2010) the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association announced that Sputnik, passed away suddenly at approximately 5:00 AM in the morning.  Sputnik was 70 years old and passed away in the associations state office.  He will go down in history as a great Motorcycle Rights Activist.  A memorial service is planned for July 10, 2010.

Photo courtesy of Hamilton Steele.

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red_bike_roadI believe that people work harder and invest more when they can keep a larger portion of what they earn.  I don’t believe this concept is unique to the left or right.  I also believe government should promote work; savings and private investment; and stable sensible policies to facilitate the efficient exchange of goods and services.  Good tax policy promotes balance between livability and livelihood.

In Oregon the gas tax revenue maintains the state highway system. Because it’s getting squeezed by rising cost of materials and labor along with a decline in revenues due to improved fuel efficiency and people driving less due to the economy the frantic lawmakers are proposing a mileage-based tax system.  You’ll be required to attach a GPS to your motorcycle and it will track miles traveled in Oregon.  Service station pumps will have electronic reading devices to collect mileage data from the motorcycle and you’ll receive a tax bill in the mail.  Never mind privacy issues.

This from a state where voters couldn’t pass the “no brainer” measure 59 which would allow a taxpayer to deduct from Oregon taxable income the entire amount of federal income taxes the taxpayer paid on the income subject to Oregon income tax.  At the same time there was pure genius from the Oregon Zoo management who paraded out an endearing baby elephant just as voters were being ask to pay more property taxes via a $125M bond measure to enlarge the elephant reserve.  I’m not anti-zoo, but paying more $$ to make an inadequate elephant exhibit a litter bigger in the middle of the Portland metro area seems anti “peta-ish.”

If that wasn’t enough elephant Haathi Chap for you there is the Oregon governor, Ted “Sleepy” Kulongoski.  He seems to be clueless in coming up with one idea after 6 years in office other than to propose building a 2000-room hotel by the convention center and open it as a state-owned casino.  How ironic because Kulongoski was the most vocal opponent of video poker back when the state economy and budget wasn’t in free fall.  If this is his best idea of dramatic state government restructuring and leading Oregonians through a recession that has forced over 12% of the residents out of their jobs — then Ted your cheese has slid off your cracker!  All he talks about is raising taxes (property, mileage, lotto, cigarettes, gas, sales, and the list goes on) — gimme, gimme, gimme and nothing about downsizing incompetent government.  In a very recent interview Kulongoski said,

“When you do not have enough revenue,… a lot of the fun leaves.” 

A true mark of a real loser is to whine when the going gets tough!

There are TEA Parties and tax revolts being held all over the state.  Join in and have a voice.

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