Scanning the week’s national news, views and clues with you and yours in mind
By Malia Hill
“It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot be separated.” —James Madison, Speech at the Virginia Convention (December 2, 1829)
Each week, we’ll be monitoring the web to find the most interesting, challenging, or important items for those who are concerned about liberty, accountability, and big government. Here are some of the highlights from the past week:
Political pundits and observers are a bit confused. The 2010 elections and more recent polls show an American public increasingly intolerant of (and suspicious of) big government. And yet, as Fred Siegel and Joel Kotkin observe in this article on progressive authoritarianism, the President and the hard left of the Democratic Party seem to be hardening their own attitude in response rather than listening to an increasingly unhappy citizenry. Thus, the President’s recent attempt to expand Executive Branch powers in bypassing approval on presidential appointments. And considering the fact that these are still the acts of a politician seeking reelection, it makes one wonder what a lame-duck Obama may be emboldened to reach for should he win a second term.
There’s an unpleasant hint of envy and schadenfreude in the observations some have made on the issue of income disparity and the US. And, as Paul Jacobs points out, the truth is (as always) more nuanced and less predictable. In fact, those wealthy one-percenters were losing money even before the bailouts, at the same time that us comparatively poorer and more huddled sorts were actually increasing in wealth. There’s more to the financial ups and downs (and lack of mobility) than the propagandists would have you see.
It’s amazing how often that common knowledge doesn’t seem to trigger common sense. Especially in the case of government and spending programs. Pretty much everyone knows that Medicare and Medicaid are the subjects of rampant fraud, costing taxpayers unknown millions as we continue to pay out who-knows-how-much on questionable claims. And the fact that we don’t really know how much is fraud just points to the lack of will to do anything about it. But, as Michael F. Cannon points out in this article, politicians are much more willing to throw away money on fraud than deal with the possible upset that anti-fraud measures might cause among certain voting blocks.
I’m thinking of making a huge collage of articles about problems faced by cities who committed to big rail projects only to have them go badly. Then, I’ll mount a giant art exhibit in Honolulu called “I Told You So.” Today’s warning tale comes from Nevada, more specifically, the Las Vegas Monorail Project, which is currently the focus of a lawsuit from bondholders who are claiming fraud in the way that the project was sold to investors. The suit largely hangs upon the omission of report that questioned ridership projections and thus the viability of the project. Do I even need to make connections to Honolulu Rail? What if I mentioned that the same expert has noted that Honolulu Rail’s projections are similarly off-base? Can we hope that when it comes to selling mass transit systems of dubious potential, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?
We must hope that Hawaii will refuse to follow. Unfortunately, Hawaii legislators sometimes have an inclination for the same type of intrusive, social-engineering laws that our West Coast neighbors occasionally like to dabble in. And Cali’s law-makers seem to abhor a vacuum of legislation. In 2011, they managed to stick 8 year-olds back in car seats, make cough medicine a controlled substance, and introduce the concept of LGBT history to public schools. And, as Investor’s Business Daily reports, this itch to legislate the state into submission is having an attendant negative effect on business in the state where economic concerns appear take a backseat to fretting about the availability of Robitussin. Consider deepening state recession the unintended consequence of a meddling legislature.
Views expressed in this column are intended to promote creative thought, educate, and, we hope, prompt comment. Accordingly, thoughts expressed do not necessarily reflect the official position of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii or the author.
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