Grassroot Perspective: The Quiet Federal Takeover of Education, Ironic Civil Discourse, and More

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

By Malia Hill


“This is what power fetishists always do: assume the power will be used in ways they like. (And since the ends are noble, they surely must justify the means, right?) Sometimes it is. But power changes hands, and the inheritors may be a rather different sort. The people pushing for more government power never seem to think of that— until it is too late. – A. Barton Hinkle, “The Bipartisan War on Liberty” (November 8, 2011)

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:

Growth Requires Freedom

It is unfortunate that amongst the freedoms that Americans defend so vociferously, economic freedom is so often overlooked—or worse, looked on with suspicion.  As Charles Kadlec points out in Forbes, it is economic freedom that is the key to economic growth.  And economic growth is exactly what is required to lead us out of recession.  Instead, we have been further hampering such freedom with increased government control of economic resources at the cost of slow (or even non-existent) growth, rising unemployment, and an increasingly bleak future.  A brief glimpse of hope can be seen in the increasing public mistrust of big government, but reversing the naturally expansive trend of government power is no simple task.

Schools Slip Further Away From Parents

Are you ready for the federal takeover of education?  Or were you even aware that it’s coming.  Most don’t, and who can blame them?  Education policy is not the most scintillating of topics, and even during election years, people have a hard time paying attention once teacher salaries and classroom ratios have been sorted out.  So the ongoing effort to impose the Common Core Standards on every state (when parents and communities have not had a say in the creation or curriculum) have gone mostly unnoticed.  Fortunately, a few organizations have started to sound the alarm, and hopefully this issue will finally receive the public debate that it should have been subject to from the beginning.

A Study in Irony

Proving that it’s possible to be thoughtful and genuinely funny at the same time, the Daily Show has this clever (and occasionally hilarious) clip on the effort to bring more civility to editorial journalism.  I don’t want to give away the punch line here, so I’ll just add that in this case, “civility” seems to be required only from those whom one disagrees with.

Anti-Fed Before Anti-Fed Was Cool

As Paul Jacobs points out in a recent Common Sense article, Ron Paul deserves proper credit for sounding the alarm about the Federal Reserve while many of us were still trying to pretend we could understand what Alan Greenspan was saying.  Now, with some much-needed transparency finally dragging the doings of the Fed during the mortgage crisis into the sunlight, we learn that not only did we not understand it all, they didn’t either.  Which is more frightening—the fact that they were so off-base or the fact that it took so long for us to learn that they were so off-base—I leave to you.

More Lessons in Bad Rail Decision-Making

Some might say that it’s unfair that I so often focus on the rail-system failures that plague our major cities.  That I’m being too realistic—er, I mean pessimistic—about the “track” that the Honolulu Rail Project is currently on.  To such critics, I present one of the jewels of America’s rail system . . . the DC Metro.  Which works like a dream, assuming you don’t mind money-sinks that constantly have to raise fares, have huge maintenance and mechanical problems, face declining ridership exacerbated by fare hikes and bad policy, and (on a personal note) seem to specialize in stalling out and stranding you in the middle of a hot, airless subway tunnel just as you’re trying to make it to a meeting on Capitol Hill that it took you weeks to set up.  If this counts as success for a Rail System, I shudder to imagine what failure truly entails.

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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