Grassroot Perspective: Stifling Innovation, Global Taxation, and More

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

By Malia Hill


“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations”. – James Madison

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:

BioMed Brain Drain

Throughout our national battle on health care reform, there has been one positive that nearly everyone can agree on—when it comes to biopharmaceutical innovation, the USA leads the world.  But for how long?  Grace-Marie Turner writes in Forbes about how government regulation and burdensome taxes threaten the future of the industry; not least because other countries are doing their best to lure away the best talent and attract growing companies with lower tax rates and permanent incentives for research and development.  And the possible damage to the American public goes beyond the obvious loss of talent, innovation, and life-saving medicine.  The biomedical industry provides approximately 4 million jobs and constitutes a $917 billion slice of the US economy.  Will Obamacare and other government regulations, roadblocks, and taxes end up taking a toll on both our health and our wallets?  Yet again, we see the consequences of ignoring the secondary impact of government intrusion in private industry.

Taxation from WHO?

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity makes the case against granting taxing powers and direct funding to international organizations (namely, the UN).  I’ll be honest.  I had a hard time just getting past the title of this one.  Never mind the concept of taxation without representation, how about we just set fire to our money?  I’m pretty sure I’d be happier with that outcome that with what would happen to my money when collected by some Brussels bureaucrat.  But sure enough, the UN has been pushing for direct taxation (e.g. via internet taxes, etc.) for some time.  On reflection, it’s not a surprise.  Not only would it increase their budget, but it would help free them from that pesky “power of the purse” control that the funding member governments (like the US) currently have.  How bad an idea is this?  Let CFP count the ways.

Breaking News: Things Not As Bad As You Thought

We’ve heard a lot as of late about income disparity and the stagnant state of the middle class.  So much, in fact, that most of us probably take these as political points as fact rather than questioning the motives behind those that trumpet them so continuously.  But what if the situation wasn’t quite so grave after all?  And what if the origin of the notion that the middle class is dying while the 1% laugh heartily and run down Dickensian orphans with their new Bugattis came from a pair of economists with their own political ax to grind?  As Clark Judge explains, that’s pretty close to what’s happening.  According to three economists from Cornell and Indiana University (and their exhaustive calculations that I haven’t a prayer of explaining clearly here), the analysis that underlies the income disparity claim (and therefore a good bit of the 2012 Obama campaign) is fundamentally flawed, having failed to take into account various changes in the tax code, limits on IRS data, and so on.  Instead, far from being stagnant, middle class incomes had increased more than 36% while income disparity has not increased much since the early 1990s.  No one is claiming that the state of the economy is all rainbows and sunshine, but perhaps we can calm down the class warfare rhetoric a bit now.

Green vs. Green

I confess.  This item is here just because I’m starting to really enjoy the battle over windmills.  Call it “Green Schadenfreude.”  In this round, “clean” energy goes mano-a-mano with conservation.  As Deroy Murdock explains, windmills pose a severe threat to birds, not excluding birds of prey.  Or to put it more bluntly, they kill eagles–including bald eagles.  And in frankly startling numbers.  One estimate puts the current wind farm-related death toll for golden eagles in California at 100 per year.  Near the Altamont Pass wind farm, there has been a 50% decline in golden eagle nesting sites.  Federal law protects both golden and bald eagles—to the point that substantial fines can be levied on those cause them injury . . . though no one has been prosecuted when said injury comes from being sent through a giant rotary blade.  Apparently, that’s ok.  You know, because it’s “green.”

Hawaii, Through the Eyes of a Native Outsider

Because it’s always interesting to see how others see us, you may want to read through Paul Theroux’s recent Smithsonian article on deciphering our Islands and citizens.  As a resident of 22 years, Theroux may not be everyone’s notion of an outsider, but as he describes his difficulties in “getting” the culture of his home, anyone who knows Hawaii will feel flashes of recognition.  Not least of all, the article encapsulates the problem of perspective.  So diverse and layered is local culture that almost everyone has felt like the outsider at times, and yet it’s difficult to completely identify with Theroux’s own experience.  (Where’s the Spam?  The visits to Zippy’s?)  But regardless of how well you feel he may reflect your own impression of Hawaii, it’s clear that the famed Aloha spirit is more complicated—and more important—than you previously realized.

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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