Grassroot Perspective: Unemployment Lies, Soda Police, and More

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Scanning the week’s national news, views and clues with you and yours in mind

By Malia Hill


Not-To-Be-Missed Quote of the Week:
“The (biggest) recipients of the blessings of free enterprise are the poor themselves. How do I know it? Go back to 1970, and compare 1970 around the world to today. It turns out that between 1970 and 2010 the worst poverty in the world – people who live on one dollar a day or less – has decreased by 80 percent. You never hear about that. It is the greatest achievement in human history and you never hear about it. 80 percent of the world’s worst poverty has been eradicated (in 40 years.) That has never ever happened before. So what did that? What accounts for that? United Nations? US foreign aid? The International Monetary Fund? Central Planning? …nah. It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship. In short it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world. …I will assert and defend the statement that if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it not just for ourselves but for the people around the world. It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.” —Arthur Brooks, American Enterprise Institute

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:

Lies. Big Lies, and Unemployment Statistics

The latest unemployment figures have come out, and the news continues to be disappointing.  (Or, as the Obama Administration might say, “promising.”)  I’ll spare you the spin on this set of job numbers because, as we are all slowly learning, unemployment statistics may be the most manipulated set of data not currently being promoted by Al Gore.  As the Mercatus Center explains, job growth and unemployment data is fraught with lies—not least of which is the notion that there the government actually knows what it is claiming to know.  Uncertainty and flat-out misrepresentation.  Not a great set of things to build public policy and spend billions of tax dollars on.

More Nanny State Meddling in the Moderately-Sized Apple

Every politician dreams of leaving behind a legacy.  Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, however, seems determined to go down in history as the political equivalent of that guy who gives out raisins and toothbrushes for Halloween.  Nurse Bloomberg’s latest policy brainwave takes government meddling to a new high, creating a ban on “high calorie” drinks in sizes larger than 16 ounces.  There are exceptions for juice or drinks made of more that 50% milk, so in essence, this is a ban on large sodas.  Unsurprisingly, restaurants and soda companies are opposed to the measure.  More shockingly, there are apparently people out there who see no problem in a government edict controlling how many ounces of Sprite someone is allowed to order.  Most astounding of all is the fact that New York City, American’s long-time leader in the “Coolest City in the World” stakes is now becoming the leader in ridiculous nanny-state measures.  Yes, New York, “where dreams are made of,” and, “there’s nothing you can’t do” . . . except buy a large Coke.

Out-of-State Politician Tells Locals that Akaka Opposition is “Meddling” in Local Affairs

Thank goodness we have him to set us straight on what we should and shouldn’t be doing.  Tom Cole, a Republican Congressman from Oklahoma, was in Hawaii campaigning on behalf of former Governor Lingle’s Senate campaign.  Perhaps feeling that Hawaii’s citizens needed an outsider perspective on what they should think about a wildly transformative piece of legislation that will affect them profoundly, Rep. Cole called opposition to the Akaka Bill “arrogant” meddling in local affairs.  Putting aside for the moment the egotism on display in telling a local group what they should think about a controversial piece of legislation that has a large amount of local opposition, Rep. Cole’s statement is offensive on a whole new level.  As Ilya Shapiro of Cato explains, principled opposition to unconstitutional race-based legislation is not dependent on geographic notions.  Rep. Cole should realize that the only arrogant meddling being done here is all on his end.

Are Union Tactics Good for Workers?

Hawaii is a very pro-union state.  Also, the sky is blue and the sun is warm-ish.  It’s not a surprising thing, given the state’s history, but it does mean that we are vulnerable to the same problems that so many strong union states experience.  (Giant unfunded liabilities for one, strikes that can disable our entire infrastructure, for another.)   These problems tend to come along when the local knee-jerk pro-union sentiment becomes so strong and automatic that we cannot take a clear and unbiased look at the real effect that union practices and policies have—not only on the state, but on the workers themselves.  The Capital Research Center has an eye-opening essay on these tactics, which make it clear that all too often, the good of the union is put far above the good of the workers.  What else can you say about tactics that see driving a company out of business (and thereby putting people out of work) as a victory for unionization?

The Treaty We Don’t Need

Treaties hold an interesting place in Constitutional and International law.  There are even some who believe that the agreements in an international treaty would supersede the Constitution.  So this is important stuff that can’t be ignored.  (I mention that because I’m about to bring up the Law of the Sea Treaty, which—as it involves both maritime law and international law—will cause even dedicated law geeks to want to leap out the window to avoid the oncoming boredom.)  Why care?  Because, as Brian Darling explains, the Obama Administration is trying to push through the Law of the Sea Treaty in a campaign of specious arguments and intimidation.  Experts agree that the provisions of the treaty that are positive for the US are unnecessary and redundant under current maritime law, and there is a strong suspicion that this treaty is being promulgated as a back-door method of introducing carbon offsets and new corporate taxation schemes.  Here’s hoping the principled opposition holds its ground on this one.

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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