Grassroot Perspective – Aug. 11, 2003-Are You a Criminal or an Idiot?; The Incredible Shrinking California Teacher Shortage; Stand by Me – But Not Too Close; Phony-Baloney Constitutionalists

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Letter from Lynn

Are You a Criminal or an Idiot?

Check the box that applies to you:

__ I litter public roadways; therefore, I am an idiot.

__ I never litter public roadways, but I do not have an approved litter bag in my car; therefore, I am a criminal.

The Washington State Patrol issued a press release on January 9th indicating they intend to start enforcing RCW 70.93.100 that mandates all of us “keep and use” a litter bag in our car (or our watercraft). Failure to do so is a “non-traffic criminal offense,” making us subject to a fine and a mandatory court appearance if caught.

Furthermore, the RCW orders the Department of Ecology to design and produce litter bags “bearing the state-wide anti-litter symbol and a statement of the penalties.” The Department of Licensing was ordered to distribute the bags when renewing drivers’ licenses.

Are you thinking this is just another byproduct of modern, radical environmentalists with too much time on their hands? Well, you would be wrong about the “modern” part, anyway. The law was originally passed in 1971, with revisions in 1979 and 1981. I don’t have time right now to research its legislative background, but I’ll bet it was proposed by a “sensible” individual wearing a blue suit, who was tired of watching idiots throw litter around our beautiful state.

If it’s not obvious already, here’s the problem with this approach. When the law was written, littering was already illegal. (It still is.) The new law presumed potential guilt and presumed a necessary remedy for a potential, not actual offense. The penalties were crafted based not on actual wrongdoing, but on the presumption that we would or might commit wrongdoing. This type of reasoning would send chills up the spines of our Founders.

I heard one woman commenting on the law who said that, while it is annoying, the law is really harmless, because smart people keep litter bags in their cars anyway.

She missed the point! Do we really want to live under the authority of governing officials who write laws and issue penalties based on what we might do?

Besides, think of the absurd applications.

There’s my youngest son, who has a litter bag in his car … somewhere. When I last saw it, it was full. The floor behind the passenger’s seat, however, appears to be his litter repository of choice (a far better choice than the great outdoors, which he has been taught to respect). If he gets stopped and can produce a well-used litter bag, he will, presumably, be in compliance with the law.

Then there’s my car. I hate litter inside or outside my car. When I come home from work or play, I take the litter with me to throw away. When I fill my car with gas, I throw away any litter in the car. Litter bags get dirty and sticky, and I do not like them. But if I get stopped, and cannot produce a litter bag in use, I have committed a criminal violation. (The hair on the back of my neck is up!)

Included in the press release issued by the State Patrol was a statistic from the Department of Ecology estimating that 16 million pounds of waste is blown or thrown onto our roadways each year. The people who created this mess actually broke the law. They should receive significant fines, particularly if incendiary devices are tossed.

But it is unjust to pass a law on the presumption that those of us without litter bags intend to contribute to the 16 million pounds of litter and, therefore, are guilty.

No law has ever been passed that will make a determined person stop behaving like an idiot. This is a law that presumes many of us are idiots and sentences us in advance of our proving or disproving it.

I’m not upset with the State Patrol. They have to enforce laws passed by the legislature, whether they like the laws or not.

I’ll let you know what I decide to do.

Above article is quoted from Evergreen Freedom Foundation

– The Incredible Shrinking California Teacher Shortage

Section III D of the California Teachers Association’s (CTA) Statement of Mission, Goals, and Objectives states that “California faces the need to recruit well over 200,000 new teachers in the next five years.”

*February 22, 2000: “California faces a severe teacher shortage and will need an estimated 330,000 new teachers over the next 10 years.” – California Teachers Association (CTA) press release.

*November 16, 2000: “Our state alone will need at least 300,000 [new teachers] during this same 10-year period.” – CTA Vice President Barbara Kerr, in testimony to the Little Hoover Commission.

*January 2002: “In fact, we need to hire 20,000 new teachers every year for the next decade just to hold our own.” – CTA President Wayne Johnson in a radio ad.

*June 8, 2002: “No wonder there is a huge teacher shortage and growing worse every year.” – CTA President Wayne Johnson to the union’s State Council.

*December 2002: “[W]e must do something about the problems that are creating the frightening teacher shortage.” – CTA President Wayne Johnson in his column in the California Educator.

*June 5, 2003: “If you don’t care where you’ll go, you can find a job.” – CTA President Wayne Johnson to the Sacramento Bee.

– Stand by Me – But Not Too Close

EIA strongly encourages you to read the report Stand By Me: What Teachers Really Think About Unions, Merit Pay and Other Professional Matters by Public Agenda ( It’s one of those “pick and choose” studies, by which I mean advocates and critics of unions can each select interesting data to support their points of view. There aren’t too many surprises, though it is nice to see empirical evidence to support the existence of the vastly differing opinions of new teachers versus those of veteran teachers. I won’t comment further, because I don’t want to scoop myself. The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation will soon publish a piece I wrote on this very issue, tentatively titled “The Tao of Teachers’ Unions.” The Public Agenda report strongly supports this clip from it, and I suspect both the unions and their critics will agree: “What teachers’ unions can sell to every teacher, however, is security. Even the best teachers desire protection from arbitrary administrators, litigious parents and unruly students.”

Above articles are quoted from The Education Intelligence Agency , EIA communique’-6/9/2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Phony-Baloney Constitutionalists

Sheldon Richman, May 26, 2003

Conservatives favor strict construction of the U.S. Constitution. How do we know? They never stop telling us so.

But judging by what they say about the late Iraq war, we may conclude that most conservatives are just phony-baloney constitutionalists. These politicians, such as Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), and pundits, such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, are as committed to the pernicious idea of the “living Constitution” as the so-called liberals they despise.

The “living Constitution” is the doctrine that the principles in the Constitution, which was supposed to limit government power and thereby protect individual liberty, must change with the times — without resort to the onerous amendment procedure specified in the same document. Thus when the Supreme Court during the New Deal upheld legislation that previous generations of Americans would have condemned as unconstitutional, big-government advocates invoked the “living Constitution” doctrine to explain why amendment was unnecessary.

It should be obvious why this is such a dangerous practice: it effectively repeals the Constitution. As Thomas Sowell put it: to say the Constitution is living is to say that it’s dead. Or as Walter Williams suggests, those who like a “living Constitution” should think about what it would mean to play poker with a “living” rule book.

For these reasons, conservatives have led the charge against this pernicious doctrine. They have often been effective in pointing out its horrendous consequences. After all, it turns the Constitution upside down. The Framers made the amendment process difficult because a constitution that is easily amended is more likely to be changed casually. As the Constitution was written, the central government is permitted to exercise only those powers expressly delegated, which, as James Madison noted, were “few and defined.” If a power is not listed, the government may not exercise it. If someone wants that power exercised, he has to undertake the burdensome task of amending the Constitution.

But under the “living Constitution” doctrine, the government can do anything as long as it is not expressly forbidden. Thus the burden of amendment is shifted from those who wish to expand government power, to those who wish to maintain liberty and keep government constrained. That directly subverts the system established by the Framers. It came about as a result of decisions by judges and so-called lawmakers.

How are conservatives guilty of embracing the very doctrine they claim to abhor? Look at what they say about President Bush’s war in Iraq. Bush said he had to go to war to protect us from Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. He also justified the war on grounds that Hussein was brutal to the Iraqi people (which he was). As the war proceeded and no threatening weapons were found, Bush changed the emphasis to the liberation of the Iraqis, as foreshadowed by the name Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now that the war has been over for weeks and still no weapons have been found, just about all we hear is how wonderful it is that “we” freed Iraq. Conservatives are at the front of the chorus singing George Bush’s praises as the great liberator.

There’s only one problem. There is no warrant in the U.S. Constitution for the president of the United States to launch a war in order to liberate people from a brutal government. You can look it up. Americans used to know that. In 1821, then-Secretary of State John Quincy Adams famously said, America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

This is not the only example of conservatives’ embracing their adversaries’ doctrine. The Constitution clearly says that only Congress can declare war. But Bush never asked Congress to declare war, and it did not do so. Instead, it illegally delegated the war-declaring power to the president.

But most conservatives wanted war, so they did not care. For them, the Constitution has to keep pace with the times. It has to “live.” So they did their part to kill it.

Such is the bankruptcy of what goes by the name conservatism today.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of Ideas on Liberty magazine.

Above article is quoted from The Future of Freedom Foundation, Commentaries

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“Politicians are always interested in people. Not that this is always a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs.” — P.J. O’Rourke

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, 1314 S. King Street, Suite 1163, Honolulu, HI 96814. Phone/fax is 808-591-9193, cell phone is 808-864-1776. Send him an email at:”’ ”’See the Web site at:”’