Grassroot Perspective: Hawaii Leadership, Ron Paul Was Right and Using Sin Taxes For Credit Ratings

by Danny de Gracia, II

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:

“We have depended on government for so much for so long that we as a people have become less vigilant of our liberties. As long as the government provides largesse for the majority, the special interest lobbyists will succeed in continuing the redistribution of welfare programs that occupies most of Congress’ legislative time.”
Rep. Ron Paul

Local News

After Akaka: The Next Generation of Native Hawaiian Leaders (Civil Beat, 10/25)

Michael Levine of Civil Beat reports that the retirement of Sen. Daniel Akaka –  the only Native Hawaiian ever elected to the upper chamber of Congress – leaves an unknown future.  “With nobody ready to take Sen. Daniel Akaka’s place, will the void created by his departure provide the kick in the pants the Native Hawaiian community needs to incubate and organize a deeper “bench” of leaders?” Levine writes.

ANALYSIS: The “reset” that comes with the departure of long-standing leader of an organization indeed creates uncertainty, but it is also a golden opportunity to change the atmosphere and bring about new reforms and higher levels of excellence. Leadership consultant John C. Maxwell writes in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership that the major barriers to successful planning are “fear of change, ignorance, uncertainty about the future and lack of imagination.”

Whoever wins the November 6th election will need to recognize thatHawaiineeds a paradigm shift in both leadership and representation that makesHawaii’s congressional delegation leading advocates for more economic freedom, less Federal interference in the lives of our people and a fearless pursuit of a return to Constitutional principles. When our leaders do these things, it will not only be a new chapter of success, it will be an UP for Native Hawaiians … and the rest of us as well.

1,000+ Hawaii Island Residents Say ‘No’ To HELCO Rate Increase (Hawaii Reporter, 10/25)

In a press release published by Hawaii Reporter, the Hawaii Senate Majority announces that “Sen. Solomon will be presenting the 1,000+ name petition to a PUC hearing on HELCO’s proposed rate increase at 6 p.m., Tues., Oct. 30 atKealakeheHigh School. All interested Hawai’i Island residents are urged to attend this PUC hearing in Kona, or a companion hearing at 6 p.m., Mon., Oct. 29 at Hilo High School Cafeteria, to speak out against the proposed rate increase.

ANALYSIS: BigIsland residents like so many others across the nation have good reason to be outraged over utility rate increases. The combination of low interest rates at the Federal Reserve as well as skyrocketing commodity prices has a macroeconomic effect on the entire U.S. economy which causes demand for money to increase at such a sharp rate that everything costs more and everyone needs higher profits just to keep pace with inflation. Compounding this problem is the fact that thanks solely to government municipal planning, utility corporations exist as monopolies and private individuals cannot opt out or seek cheaper private utilities.

While government imposed price controls may temporarily give the public relief, the root issue – inflation and scarcity – still remains. This is an area that our state legislature should be extremely concerned about.America is on the cusp of a serious hyperinflation crisis. Retiring Congressman Ron Paul, who has been warning for decades about the dangers of the Federal Reserve, has truly been proven right by the inflationary shocks bothHawaii andAmerica are seeing.

The best way to help the public cope with rising utility rates is to divest government’s stake in utilities and allow competing utility markets. This may sound crazy, even radical to some, but the fact of the matter is only a market can accurately assign values to goods and services in such a way that scarcity is appropriately moderated.

In the meantime, Sen. Solomon’s praiseworthy efforts are certainly an UP for her constituents for more breathing room – but Hawaiiresidents are going to need a long term solution and fast.

Wade Hicks allowed home after being stranded in Hawaii(Russia Today, 10/22)

In case you missed it, one of the most terrifying developments here in Hawaiiwas the stranding of military dependent and radio host Wade Hicks after discovering that his name was on the TSA no-fly list. Hawaii Reporter author Malia Zimmerman originally broke the story which led to the shock of millions of people across the world over the fact that a man who had apparently done nothing more than speak critically of the government was placed on a list for accusations he couldn’t view and couldn’t appeal.

Luckily for Hicks, he was eventually waived from the list – but his stranding certainly has profound implications for everyone living in and visiting toHawaii.

ANALYSIS: Several months ago, the Atlantic Magazine reported that Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard a case regarding the TSA no-fly list and asked the government attorney what he would do if he found himself on that list. Ironically, the attorney essentially said that there wasn’t much that could be done and there was almost no way to judicially appeal it. “In fact,” the Atlanticwrites, “the lawyer would not even concede that a federal court possessed the authority to order someone removed from the No Fly List. In other words, according to theUnited States government, the only redress that is available to a watch-listed citizen is to hope that some government bureaucrat will correct a mistake or change his mind.”

The Constitution specifically states that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” It is terrifying that today the government can take actions which restrict an individual’s freedom of movement without even allowing them to know the reasons why they are under suspicion.  The post-9/11 attitude towards personal freedoms is that terrorists would change their behavior if they knew which of their members where “under suspicion” but the problem with this is where does it stop? And what benefits, if any, does the Constitution provide for U.S. law abiding citizens if not even a court has judicial power over some list that no one can see?

This is a serious DOWN to less freedom andHawaiineeds to work with its congressional delegation to ensure that what happened to Wade Hicks does not happen to any other law abiding citizen.


National/International News

Energy Department spent $360 million on foreign travel, vast majority by contractors (10/22)

The Washington Post reports that the DoE inspector general “has warned that the agency has not taken sufficient steps to control the travel costs of its contractors, which account for 85 percent of the $360 million the department spent on travel over the past six years. Contractors have taken more than 90,000 international trips during that period, according to the audit, which comes as federal agencies have been under orders to cut back on all government travel.”

ANALYSIS: So many times at so many levels of government we see recurring problems in controlling costs. The problem? Government agencies, unlike private corporations and individuals, spend someone else’s money rather than their own. The report by the Post that contractors took more than 90,000 trips in spite of calls to cool travel shows us that as long as there is government, there will be excess spending.

If you want to cut “waste” in government, you have to cut government. The less government agencies we have, the less chance they have to waste our tax dollars. This is a serious DOWN for taxpayers.

Philippines needs sin tax hike to win ratings update(Bloomberg, 10/25)

Bloomberg reports that “The Philippines must pass a law increasing the excise levy on liquor and tobacco, or sin tax, to meet its goal of winning an investment-grade rating in four years, Tax Commissioner Kim Henares said.”

ANALYSIS: Ironically just a few days ago in our earlier Grassroot PerspectiveI discussed how sin taxes are less about changing public behavior and more about government aspirations for more revenue and more power at market expense. Further complicating this is the fact that with a debt based economy, governments are always farming out the future earnings of their taxpayers in order to finance present day spending. In effect, whenever a government sells a revenue bond, it is making its own citizens slaves for external investors.

Here in America and especially Hawaii, whenever government proposes a tax increase of any kind remember that more taxes mean DOWN to less freedom.

Inflation, war collectivism and the politics of national security(Washington Times Communities, 10/20)

Ever wonder why today there has to be a “war” for everything? A war on drugs, a war on poverty, a war on illiteracy, a war on women, a war on terror … the list goes on and on these days. In an interview with Mises Institute/Austin College professor Dr. T. Hunt Tooley, we discuss just how the modern warfare state got its shoes on and what it means for your freedoms.

ANALYSIS: George Orwell wrote in his dystopian novel 1984 that it is necessary for a “mentality appropriate to a state of war” in order for government to achieve its aims. Said another way, government exists because people believe a crisis exists that requires social compulsion to resolve, therefore the bigger the crisis, the bigger government gets. Just think about all the “war” related changes you’ve seen here in Hawaii and around the United States over the past decade.

Dr. Tooley mentions in my interview with him that “War is necessary for the modern Leviathan state.” One of the things that allows government to wage war on everything under the sun – no, it’s not Congress – is the power to print money and deficit spend against your future. The more wars we fight, the less freedoms we have and the more impoverished our nation becomes. If you want UP to more freedom, we need to stop giving in to crisis mentality and allowing government to run rampant abroad and at home with the power of our fears.

Government cannot fix – it only destroys.

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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