Grassroot Perspective: Feeding the Machine, the Akaka Bill Rises Yet Again, and More

This article was originally published here on Hawaii Reporter.

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

Quote of the Week:
“The more laws, the less justice.”—Cicero

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:

Feeding the Machine

Hawaii is no stranger to the quandary of the public employee union versus the taxpayer—except inasmuch as we (just like everyone else) tend to forget about that connection. When it comes to the occasional conflicts between vital public servants like teachers or police and the government, it’s not hard for those workers to gain our support—when all’s said and done, who is going to oppose better schools or crime prevention? Especially when the “antagonist” is the huge, faceless, and frustrating “government”?

What we fail to understand is the true dynamic at work here. A dynamic that is wonderfully illustrated by this short video. Called “The Machine,” this short film demonstrates that the relationship between public sector unions, politicians, government, and public sector employees is precisely that—a moneymaking machine built on the backs of taxpayers. And, in the case of teachers unions, one that has not seen much of the education improvements continually promised us in each new liberal application of our tax dollars. And yet we continue to feed that machine, oblivious to the fact that supporting teachers is not the same as supporting teachers unions, no matter what the millions of dollars in marketing and PR from politicians and teachers’ unions might tell you.

More perils of a bloated government

It’s not hard to understand the reasoning behind why a senior FAA official might urge his employees to vote for Obama. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have made it very clear that cutting government spending is part of their platform. And no words are more likely to strike fear into the heart of a bureaucrat like “cutting spending.” We may be suffering from recession and serious unemployment out here in the private sector, but for civil servants, the bureaucratic insulation from the realities of the marketplace is one of the major perks of the job.

So it may not be surprising. But it’s also a big, big no-no. Specifically, a violation of the Hatch Act, which bars civil servants in the executive branch from partisan activity—something else that makes sense and stands as a thin wall against total partisan corruption of an already bloated (and still bloating) series of executive agencies. So when John Hickey, the number 2 safety official at the FAA told a group of subordinates that a Republican win was likely to lead to furloughs, the question became whether Hickey’s statements constituted pressure to vote for Democrats. Fortunately, the watchdog group Cause of Action has brought Hickey’s statements to light, and a federal investigation is forthcoming. But the entire incident illustrates the fact that at some point, big government becomes self-perpetuating.

The New Lost (and Losing) Generation

Have you ever watched news footage of some “student” demonstration in another country and thought, “Why aren’t they at work? Goodness knows they’re old enough”? What if those were really glimpses of America’s possible future. As Robert Romano writes, we are in the process of creating our own lost and unemployed generation of young people. The Administration’s failed economic policies have led us to a place where as many as half of recent college graduates are unable to find work. A significant young and unemployed population led to unrest in other countries. Moreover, the lack of tax revenue from that group means that budgets and long-term projections based on assumptions about new entrants to the workforce could be flawed enough to put entitlement programs in crisis in even earlier than expected. So now that same generation has to decide whether the policies of the last four years are really the way “forward.”

The Akaka Bill Rises Again

Senator Akaka, despite numerous defeats and the suggestion that his fellow Democrats in Congress may not want this on their plate with an election looming, has not abandoned his various plans to get some form of Native Hawaiian Reorganization passed (by hook, crook, or loophole). This week, the Akaka Bill was voted to the Senate floor via voice vote, though Sen. Barasso, Vice-Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, noted on record that he and many others feel strongly that the Bill inappropriately bypasses the Dept. of Interior process. Steven Duffield, former policy director to Sen. Kyl, (R-AZ) stated that, “This bill is dead on arrival on the Senate floor. Committee Vice Chair John Barrasso (R-WY) went out of his way to thank Sen. Akaka for his service and leadership, but then made clear that he opposes the bill and many others do, too. The fact that Sen. McCain, who once chaired this committee, reiterated his opposition should remind everyone how deep the concerns about this bill are.”

Rand Paul on Government Bullies

Want to get mad? Maybe not—goodness knows, I don’t enjoy the impotent feeling of frustration that comes out of learning about how the government can bully us regular citizens. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not important to know about. As in this video, where Sen. Rand Paul discusses government bullying, waste, fraud and abuse with Sean Hannity. Prepare for infuriating stories like the man who went to jail for moving some dirt. But there is a value to the anger—we, as citizens, have to remind ourselves that we’re not impotent in the face of the government bullies. In the end, we (and only we the people, working together) have the power to stop them.


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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