Grassoot Perspective: Don’t forget to vote, Stinky Deals for Taxpayers and How To Help Small Business

This article was originally published here in the Hawaii Reporter.

A weekly liberty briefing and news guide to keep you informed and prepared on what’s UP to more freedom or DOWN to bigger, more intrusive government.

Quote of the Week:

“In America we have a creed which comes to us from the deep roots of the past. It springs from the convictions of the men and women of many lands who founded the nation and made it great.”
General George C. Marshall

Local News

Don’t forget to vote in ALL contests on your ballot – Federal, state and municipal!

Voting has begun with mail in absentee ballots and walk-in voting will commence in just a few days. But many people both in Hawaii and all across the U.S. are registered to vote but never vote! Other people will vote, but they only choose two or three of the most “exciting” contests and then leave the rest of their ballot blank. While we wouldn’t dare to tell you what to vote for, we do want to encourage all of you to make sure that you do vote and not skip any of the contests.

ANALYSIS: Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” You owe it to yourself to vote – the experiment our Founders called “a Republic, if you can keep it” began with the concept of no taxation without representation.  If you don’t vote, you deny yourself a vital right that was given to you at great cost by our forebears.

In Hawaii, one of the areas that we need better voter participation in is the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Last midterm election, more blank votes were cast for many of the trustee offices than actual votes for candidates. Whatever your opinion about OHA and its trustees may be, please don’t skip over and leave that portion of the ballot blank – cast a vote.

Voting is a very special right that should never, ever be taken lightly or for granted. I’d like to share with you anexcerpt from a speech President Ronald Reagan gave some 30 years ago before British Parliament regarding the day that the people of El Salvador were given the opportunity to vote, in spite of pressure from guerillas that they would kill or capture anyone who tried to vote. Reagan said:

“on election day, the people of El Salvador, an unprecedented 1.4 million of them, braved ambush and gunfire, and trudged for miles to vote for freedom. They stood for hours in the hot sun waiting for their turn to vote. Members of our Congress who went there as observers told me of a woman who was wounded by rifle fire on the way to the polls, who refused to leave the line to have her wound treated until after she had voted. A grandmother had been told by the guerrillas she would be killed when she returned from the polls, and she told the guerrillas, “You can kill me, you can kill my family, kill my neighbors, but you can’t kill us all.” The real freedom-fighters of El Salvador turned out to be the people of that country – the young, the old, the in-between.”

The lesson to be learned from that speech is that we take voting for granted but there are people in other countries who recognize the right to vote is so important that they would be willing to brave danger just to cast a ballot. In America, let us not get so complacent or hardened of heart that we treat voting as an ordinary thing with no value. Your vote is your future! If you want UP to more freedom, you need to SHOW UP to vote! Stand and be counted this election day!

ACLU of Hawaii and the Law Firm of Alston, Hunt, Floyd & Ing Seek Permission To File Amicus Brief Supporting Courtroom Media Access (Hawaii Reporter, 10/16)

The latest update from the local Hawaii chapter of the ACLU indicates that they have teamed up with Alston, Hunt, Floyd and Ing to enable a local group to document proceedings in court involving a Hawaiian activist fighting a disorderly conduct charge.

ANALYSIS: Few people are aware that one of the key defining moments for the famous American patriot Patrick Henry was in March 1775 when he rode into Culpeper, Virginia and found a man tied to a whipping post and bloodied from being scourged brutally with a metal whip. Henry said, “When they stopped beating him, I could see the bones of his rib cage. I turned to someone and asked what the man had done to deserve such a beating as this.” The response he received was “Scourged for not taking a license.”

Because Henry witnessed what had happened, it caused him to understand in a powerful way why liberty is so important. In like manner, there should be transparency and openness in our court proceedings so that the American people can see what goes on in and nothing is hidden from them. This move to seek permission to file an amicus brief for media access is an important part of upholding sunshine in government. This is an important UP for more freedom.

Honolulu’s Sewer Construction Projects Cost Five Times the City’s Estimates (Hawaii Reporter, 10/16)

Malia Zimmerman reports that “Three major sewage construction projects the City & County of Honolulu administration planned to complete for $88 million, actually cost the taxpayers $473 million. That is five times the cost of the city’s initial estimates.”

ANALYSIS: It’s always a stinky deal for taxpayers when they end up having to pay more than originally promised for a program item, and unfortunately cost overruns are almost always the case when it comes to public works and other government programs. To understand why this is the case, we need a brief economics lesson from libertarian journalist Rose Wilder Lane who said, “A ‘planned economy’ destroys Government because when men use force in an attempt to control productive energies, they have no means of knowing real costs, and these costs automatically increase at an increasing rate until the people can no longer pay them.”

It’s because government has a monopoly on things like sewage and utilities that prices are bound to exceed estimates. Government has you, the taxpayer on the hook no matter what happens and there’s no way to opt out of these things. While a short term solution to remedy problems like these involves simply making sure that public administrators are more competent and pay more attention to detail, the root cause – government monopoly – ultimately is to blame and until that is taken out of the picture, people are going to pay more for the projects than they bargained for and more for the services until, eventually, they can’t pay for them.

This is truly a terrifying development but one that is not without precedent and not occurring in a vacuum. Inflation is taking place all around us as a combined result of reckless government, increased spending and low interest rates at the Federal Reserve. Taken together, this is a serious DOWN towards more tyranny.

National/International News

Total Welfare Spending Now At $1 Trillion (National Review, 10/18)

The National Review Online reports that the Congressional Research Service has determined that total spending on welfare for fiscal year 2011 was “nearly $750 billion in federal dollars and another roughly $250 billion in state funding.”

ANALYSIS: It’s worth remembering that in 1982 the entire budget of the United States – taking into consideration the arms race between America and the Soviet Union – was only $745.7 billion dollars. The fact that welfare spending exceeds the total spending of the United States at the height of the Cold War tells us that the combined forces of inflation, low interest rates, government growth, underemployment and a bad economy are putting more and more people on welfare and making the cost more burdensome for the taxpayer.

America is in dire straits. The more money that Congress and local legislatures inject into the economy in a desperate push to stimulate aggregate demand, the more expensive things get and the less purchasing power everyone has. This manifests in demand for labor shrinking as businesses scale back production, less capital creation as investors seek to avoid risk and the destruction of your personal savings as government raises taxes to meet falling revenues.

Sadly, the length, width and depth of the crisis that America is in cannot be resolved easily. The system of inflation, taxation and government spending did not appear overnight and will not go away easily because of the addictions and market distortions caused by government’s massive interference in the marketplace. This is a serious DOWN towards destruction of the American way of life and less economic freedom.

Nickel tax proposed on each bullet sold in Chicago (Fox News, 10/19)

FNC reports that in an attempt to stem rising violence in Chicago, “Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will submit a budget proposal Thursday that calls for a tax of a nickel for each bullet and $25 for each firearm sold in the nation’s second-largest county, which encompasses Chicago. Preckwinkle’s office estimates the tax will generate about $1 million a year, money that would be used for various county services including medical care for gunshot victims. Law enforcement officials would not have to pay the tax, but the office said it would apply to 40 federally licensed gun dealers in the county.”

ANALYSIS: Unfortunately a tax on bullets doesn’t stop criminals from acquiring ammunition and arms to commit crimes, all it does is raise the price of security and self-defense for law abiding citizens. Remember, private firearms owners, security contractors and police all go through legal channels and obey the framework set forth by legislation to acquire their ammunition “off-the-shelf.” Criminals, by contrast, are not bound by bureaucracy and thus can get inside exploit the “acquisition loop” and get ammunition and weapons faster than even law enforcement and military can acquire them!

The problem with legislators is that they have the tendency to be determinalistic and micromanagerial, thus they think nearly everything can be solved with a tax or a law. This is not the case. Laws and taxes only raise the price of justice for those who obey the law, not for those who disobey it. This is a serious DOWN to less liberty.

Protecting America’s Small Business Owners (9/2)

Small business is the very heart and soul of America’s economic engine. Nearly half of all U.S. private sector employees work for a small business, and over thirteen times more patents are created by small businesses than large firms. In this interview with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, I ask NFIB president Dan Danner exactly what’s on the minds of small business owners.

ANALYSIS: This election year, like all other election years, everyone says that they “support small business” but if that’s the case, why is it when elected, legislators often shaft small business by creating regulatory and tax regimes that raise the bottom line for small business and make larger companies more competitive with the help of government?

Most small business owners are just trying to make ends meet and doing the best they know how to provide the best services and products they can. But our government is quickly becoming a sadistic, tyrannical and elitist bully force which makes life harder and harder for the average person to be independent and plan their own future. We need to work on restoring the freedoms that made America a place of innovation, entrepreneurship and economic opportunity for our Founders. We need to get government out of our wallets and out of our way. For too long government has told us what’s good for us, but only you know what’s best for your business and your family. The trend that we have seen and continue to see is a very frustrating and distressing DOWN to more government control and less economic freedom.

Danny de Gracia is the Economic Policy Adviser for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. 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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Please let us know what you think about this reporting. We want to serve your needs, so include your recommendations. Send to danny@grassrootinstitute.org.

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