Scanning the week’s national news, views and clues with you and yours in mind
“It’s not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting.”—Tom Stoppard
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:
The Election Ain’t Over ‘Till the Last Dead Guy Votes
Every four years, Americans rediscover voter fraud. Sure, it has probably always been with us (even between Presidential elections), but people tend to forget about it when the stakes seem smaller. Believe it or not, most states don’t even require photo ID in order to vote. (Hawaii, incidentally does have a photo ID requirement—with some special exceptions.) Needless to say, if you’re looking to engage in some light election fraud, the no-ID-required states are where you want to start. As Project Veritas demonstrates in this video, without an ID requirement, it is frighteningly easy to walk into a polling place and cast a vote in place of someone else, be they living or dead. All you need, apparently, is a name that’s on their list and a pulse. You know, some who oppose ID laws do so on the grounds that they could be discriminatory. But from what you see in this video, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the poll workers in Vermont showed some ability to discriminate between a lawful voter and a fraudulent one.
The 2012 election is shaping up to be . . . odd. In one corner, you have an incumbent President who is, in theory, defeat-able as even his most fervent supporters have lost some of the enthusiasm (the less charitable might call it “blind worship”) that they had four years ago. And as for the Republican field . . . well, the less said about it the better, but it’s hard to deny the sense of frustration and dissatisfaction coming from even the GOP faithful. Perhaps the public senses that what we really need as a country can’t be found among any of those currently in contention to win the next Presidential election. As Gene Healy notes, the last several years have seen the fruit of an ever-increasing federal government, but few of those who seek the Presidency are offering us any clear vision of how they will champion liberty over executive power. (Some, in fact, are likely to expand it even more.) As Healy explains, the battle over containing the scope of the federal government will continue, regardless of who wins in November. Because rare is the politician who wants to limit his own power.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Every month, we get a new unemployment figure from the Department of Labor. Then, it its wake, come the various pundits and commentators and spin doctors who explain carefully to us (often through the use of charts or stock footage of factories) why this is good news—or at least not as bad as it seems. And we all sit and watch the show and wonder why it is that—if things are not so bad and are also getting better—so many people we know are having trouble finding work. Well, as it turns out, that may be because the unemployment figures we’re getting are, shall we say, somewhat “finessed.” As Rick Manning explains, the government’s method of finding the unemployment rate manages to ignore certain salient factors—like the millions of people who have dropped out of the workforce (or even trying to find a job) since Obama took office. In other words, if you have been looking for work for three years, and have finally given up in despair and tell others that you are no longer job-hunting, then (as far as the government is concerned) you are no longer counted as part of the unemployment rate. Yes, perversely, by giving up, you’ve helped lower the unemployment rate. So then (even more bizarrely), if this gave you a rush of optimism and you started job-hunting again but still couldn’t find work, then you will have helped raise the unemployment rate again. And all without ever getting or losing a job. It’s enough to make you dizzy. Ain’t statistics grand?
Obama’s Taxing Game of Hide and Seek
As an ordinary person who has to worry about ordinary things like car payments and groceries, there are few things as irritating as someone going on about how he or she doesn’t mind paying higher taxes. Speak for yourself, buddy, and don’t try to tell me that your accountant still doesn’t try to cram in every possible deduction and credit he can. (I’m pretty sure that he people who say that kind of thing never have to sit at their dining room table with a tax worksheet and mountain of receipts and paystubs.) So perhaps there are some who also wouldn’t care that President Obama has hidden approximately $128 billion in tax increases (over and above the $1.561 trillion hike he had already acknowledged) in the 2013 budget proposal. It’s hard to picture just how much $128 billion is, so let me put it in perspective: that is a whole darn lot of money. As the Heritage Foundation reports, the President has managed to “hide” the additional tax hikes by reporting them elsewhere than in the “tax” section of the budget. So much for being the “most transparent White House in history.”
For the student of human nature, few things are as amusing as the amazing contortions that the bureaucrats in Brussels go through in the name of political correctness. Apparently, there is no slice of existence that is beyond the scope of regulation. Take Viviane Redding, a senior justice official for the EU who is so concerned about the gender balance of corporate boardrooms that she is threatening to install a quota requiring a certain percentage of each corporate board to be female. Even more amazingly, no one has told her that this is none of her business—instead they’re quarrelling about definitions and “implementation.” Amazing. I really need to get a meeting with Ms. Redding. I’m hoping that she’ll be duly shocked about the tragic lack of hapa-haole mothers of three holding highly lucrative boardroom spots as well.
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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