Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty

Paul Jacob & the Human Face of Corporations by maliab
August 23, 2011, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Economy, Limited Government | Tags: , ,

It’s a little tiring, listening to the tired trope that makes corporations the ultimate bad guy of modern culture.  Look at Hollywood.  Any time they can’t work a Nazi (or at least a neo-Nazi) into the plot of their latest action thriller, they turn to the same cliche . . . the evil corporate fat cat.  So is it any wonder that Mitt Romney earned heaps of undeserved scorn for commenting that “corporations are people”?  As Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge, points out, Romney biggest offense was pointing out the ugliness of the Left’s anti-business prejudice:

On the video page featuring Mitt Romney’s notorious “corporations are people” comment — the one I clicked to, anyway — every comment was negative, with jokes like “Did you hear that S&P downgraded the Tea Party credit grade to KK+?” and economically illiterate whoppers like “Corporations do not help anyone except those who own them or do what they say.” It’s saddening to see ignorance and bigotry so self-righteously maintained by everyday Americans.

Yes, bigotry.

For Romney was right: Corporations are made of people. Those who roil with hatred for corporations, singling them out for more regulation or greater taxation, are attacking actual living, breathing people, who, as Milton Friedman pointed out, are made up of three classes of just plain folks: the owners, the, who are people; the corporation’s hired managers, who are people; and served  that is, people who have chosen,  duress, to buy stuff from the corporations.

Economist Steven Horwitz, writing in the , cited one study that estimated that “45 percent to 75 percent of the burden of a corporate tax increase is borne by workers,” and noted that, if profits fall, fewer dividends would go to stockholders.

And “stockholders” are often nothing other than workers’ retirement funds.

Yeah, soak the older people. That should make corporation-haters feel good.

Setting aside “some other people” to hate is exactly what anti-corporatists are doing. It’s bigotry. And it’s ugly . . . and de-humanizing.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


Downturn for Wisconsin Union by maliab
August 19, 2011, 5:37 am
Filed under: Economy, Limited Government | Tags:

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is reporting that the state’s largest teacher’s union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) has been forced to layoff 42 employees (or 40% of its staff):

Burkhalter said that the layoffs and other budget cuts at WEAC are a result of Gov. Scott Walker’s “union-busting” legislation.

“Right now we’re engaged in membership continuation campaigns,” Burkhalter said in a statement. “We’ve made steady progress in signing up members and we anticipate further progress will be made as the school year resumes. Despite budget cuts and layoffs, our goal remains the same: to be a strong and viable organization that represents the voices of Wisconsin’s public school employees.”

The organization has been working to stay relevant in a time when state legislation has severely clipped the collective bargaining of teachers and other public workers. The legislation makes it illegal for local teachers unions to electronically deduct dues from the payroll of teachers, and local unions also have to hold re-certification votes.

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards estimates that about 275 school districts in the state are working outside of collective bargaining agreements and subject to the new legislation. About 150 or so districts are operating under contracts that were extended with their respective unions before the legislation passed.

No doubt some people will be confused (or willfully misled), so it bears repeating–these are union employees who are losing their jobs, and not the state’s teachers themselves.  It is being blamed on the fact that new legislation frees most of the state’s school districts from collective bargaining agreements, though one does wonder whether there may be other factors in play.  After all, one person’s “union busting” legislation is another’s “critical effort to resolve a budget crisis.”  Of course, one can hardly expect that the Union would also announce that they had an unsustainable model, but the fact that one of the blows to their bottom line is the fact that they can no longer electronically deduct union dues from people’s paychecks warrants at least an eyebrow raise.

Hawaii’s own state unions are immensely powerful and entwined with the government (or at least with the Democratic Party that runs most of the government in these parts), and our own state/union agreements have a significant impact on our own budget woes.  But don’t look for solutions from the unions themselves, which are more concerned with their own bottom line than the long-term economic health of the state.

Driving Up Our Costs by maliab
July 28, 2011, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Limited Government | Tags: , , ,

I just bought a new car.  Well . . . new to me, anyway.  It was about as fun as a root canal and took much longer.  And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to walk onto a car lot and pick something out without regard to price, room for car seats, gas mileage, probable maintenance costs, or any of the other hundred things that make a car purchase a difficult and stressful process for us ordinary folks, then you probably don’t have much to worry about with regard to the Obama Administration’s new federal regulations on fuel efficiency standards.  Unless you’re also concerned about the economic future of our country and automobile safety.  As the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Brownfield explains:

The Washington Post reports that the Obama Administration and the auto industry have reached agreement on new federal regulations that would raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, hitting an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025—a 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to today.

Those new standards, though designed to reduce greenhouse gases, bring with them significant costs. Fourteen of Michigan’s 15 representatives in Congress—including Democrat Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin—wrote a letter to the President warning him of the consequences that draconian fuel efficiency standards could have for their state, the home of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, citing a report by The Center for Automotive Research which warned that overly stringent standards could add $10,000 to the cost of a new car. Heritage’s Nicolas Loris explains how those higher costs can lead to job loss:

Higher prices reduce demand and force people to hold onto their older vehicles longer. Reduced demand means fewer cars produced, which means automakers have to shed jobs. The Michigan-based consulting firm Defour Group projected that a 56 mpg standard would destroy 220,000 jobs.

In addition to lost jobs and costlier cars, forcing automakers to achieve those standards could result in a loss of life. In order to make cars more fuel-efficient, automakers reduce the weight of vehicles. As Reason reports, “a 2002 National Academy of Sciences study concluded that CAFE’s downsizing effect contributed to between 1,300 and 2,600 deaths in a single representative year, and to 10 times that many serious injuries.”

All the costs of the new CAFE standards aside, can the auto industry even achieve the high-mileage goals? Not without massive government subsidies. Reason‘s Shikha Dalmia explains:

[E]ven the Environmental Protection Agency admits that the market share made up by hybrids and electric plug-ins will have to touch 49 percent if the industry is to come anywhere near compliance. Given that these vehicles now occupy only 3 percent of the market despite hefty subsidies, it is a foregone conclusion that expanding their presence will mean massively expanding subsidies to them.

And, as always, these kind of increased costs always hit Hawaii a little harder.  After all, we already pay a little more for everything except leis and aloha spirit.

Is the Autoworker’s Union involved in this change?  Does the sun rise in the east?  Is the Pope Catholic? Does Donald Trump buy his hair in bulk?  The UAW actually reversed its earlier position on such regulations (previously based on the fear that the damage to SUV and truck production would cost jobs), teaming up with environmental groups to lobby for regulations that (not coincidentally) will require major retooling of the industry and major subsidies from the federal government.  Brownfield concludes:

And there you have it. The Obama Administration is issuing rules—without congressional approval—to significantly change the way the auto industry is doing business, forcing it to make vehicles that few are buying today (only 2,745 Chevy Volts have been sold this year). And in order to achieve that compliance, the Administration will likely have to fund the retooling plants and subsidize consumers’ purchase of the high-mileage cars. Meanwhile, the cost of gasoline is going up, yet the President has restricted drilling in the Gulf, leaving the United States unable to tap its domestic oil reserves.

The President’s environmental and energy policy is driving in circles. The costs are high, and the American people and businesses will pay the price.

Short-Term Thinking on Debt by maliab
July 20, 2011, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Economy, Hawaii Sunshine, Limited Government | Tags: , , , ,

Well that didn’t take long.

Our nation’s spending has increased so much over the past decade that a showdown (like the current one over the debt ceiling) was pretty much inevitable.  It’s interesting to note that though the claim that we would have to cut spending by 44% to balance the budget sounds scary, it actually just means scaling us back to 2003 levels.  That’s not exactly the olden times when phone calls were a nickel and we had to walk to school in the snow.

Few things demonstrate the great contrast in economic policy like a debt/budget fight.  Because (as dull as these things can sound when reduced to charts and dollar figures on the evening news), what we’re really witnessing is a dispute over economic philosophy and the direction our country will take for the foreseeable future.  Consider this comment from Moody’s (which has made quite a few appearances in this space on the issue of credit and bond ratings):

“If the debt limit is raised again and a default avoided, the Aaa rating would likely be confirmed. However, the outlook assigned at that time to the government bond rating would very likely be changed to negative at the conclusion of the review unless substantial and credible agreement is achieved on a budget that includes long-term deficit reduction. To retain a stable outlook, such an agreement should include a deficit trajectory that leads to stabilization and then decline in the ratios of federal government debt to GDP and debt to revenue beginning within the next few years.”

To pass through this crisis without looking towards a long-term resolution is merely to pass the burden of our wasteful spending onto our children.  It is a future that will be defined by higher taxes and a weaker economy.  That’s not a legacy to be proud of.

Energy, Transit & More (Weekly Update) by maliab
July 19, 2011, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Economy, Limited Government | Tags: , , ,

The latest energy, transit, funding, highways, and zoning headlines and updates courtesy of Dale Evans, President of Charley’s Taxi:

uly 18, 2011


We are taking away a choice [incandescent light buls] that continues to let people waste their own money. — Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy
Japanese car charger are gaining ground, BGDNA Tech News, 7/18/11

What You Need To Know About Energy, National Academies

Mica’s Retort to U.S. C. of C., The Antiplanner, 7/15/11

Ten Skills for the Future Workforce, Institute for the Future for the University of PhoenixResearch Instiute,

Sense-Making, Social Intelligence, Novel & Adaptive Thinking, Cross-Cultural Competency, Computational Thinking, New-Media Literacy, Transdisciplinarity, Design Mindset, Cognitive Load Management, Virtual Collaboration.

Considering a Balanced Budget Amendment: Lessons from History, Ernest Istook, Heritage Backgrounder #2581, 7/14/11

Free the Housing Finance Market from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, David John, Heritage Backgrounder 2577, 7/12/11

A Test of Prudence Favors Coal – Part One, Dr. Frank Clemente, EnergyFactsWeekly, 7/12/11

Stimulus funds for W. Virginia’s handicapped and poor instead goes for lobbying, consulting, Evan Bush, WatchNews, 7/06/11

News in Hawaii

Solar panels going up on Hickam, Alan Yonan, Jr., Star Advertiser, 7/16/11

Hilton Adding Parking, Altering Road For New Project, Keoki Kerr, KITV4 News, 7/11/11


Stimulus funds for W. Virginia’s handicapped and poor instead goes for lobbying, consulting, Evan Bush, WatchNews, 7/06/11

Are the Rich Undertaxed?, Michael G. Franc, National Review, 7/14/11

Blackstone’s Wien: Unemployment Will Never Dip Below 7 Percent Again, Forest Jones, MoneyNews, 7/14/11

How Bernanke’s Fed Triggered the Great Recession, Richard M. Salsman, The Capitalist – Forbes, 7/17/11


DUI, Uninsured Motorists, Tolling, PPPs, Variable Pricing, RUCS and Sustainable Transportation

Proposed tolls infuriate drivers, IOL South Africa, 7/18/11

Mr. Money: driving the ‘car’ of the future, Mike Rutherford, Telegraph UK, 7/14/11

Why we need road pricing: part five, Edward Keenan, TheGridTo, 7/11/11

Toll lanes in LA to cost 25 cents to $1.40 a mile, Robert Jablon, TheTrucker, 7/11/11

Nevada turns to tolls for congestion relief, Keith Gobie, LandLineMag, 6/11/11

Don’t Count High Speed Rail Out Yet, Angie Schmitt, StreetsBlogNetwork, 7/15/11

Most Successful Bus Rapid Transit Stalls Out, Tim Halbur, Planetizen, 7/16/11

Mica’s Retort to U.S. C. of C., The Antiplanner, 7/15/11

Rail-Wary FL Gov. Scott Threw Caution to the Wind in Supporting SunRail, Tanya Snyder, DC.StreetsBlog, 7/15/11

Recession Hits Transit Budgets Despite Rising Need, Bob Salsberg, MyFox NY, 7/11/11

Scoring the New Starts Report, Yonah Freemark, 10 May 2009


TODs, Eminent Domain, Property Rights

Free the Housing Finance Market from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, David John, Heritage Backgrounder 2577, 7/12/11

Wendell Cox responds to environmental group on population dispersion in Seattle, Michael Ennis, Washington Policy Center, 7/13/11


Lights Out! Big Government’s Insidious Creep Inside Your Home, Audrey Hudson, Human Events, 7/18/11

Electric car safety and durability, Washington Post, 7/15/11

$76 Trillion: UN’s Cost of “Going Green” Soars, Peter G. Glover, Energy Tribune, 7/15/11

Japanese car charger are gaining ground, BGDNA Tech News, 7/18/11

What You Need To Know About Energy, National Academies

Lights Out for the Light Bulb Ban?, Heritage Foundry, 7/12/11

A Test of Prudence Favors Coal – Part One, Dr. Frank Clemente, EnergyFacts, 7/12/11

Unplugged from reality: 2011 Chevrolet Volt, Sven Larson, Daily Caller, 7/11/11

Oil trade groups: Drilling deregulation could create 190,000 jobs, Michael Mayday, Daily Caller, 7/12/11

Better Place Unveils Europe’s First Battery Switch Station in Denmark, Better Place, 6/28/11


This is Your Brain on Google, Lisa M. Krieger, Jewish World Review, 7/15/11

Car parts makers face antitrust scrutiny, Bernard Simon, FT, 7/17/11

How foreign aid funds corruption, Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 7/06/11

Ten Skills for the Future Workforce, Institute for the Future for the University of PhoenixResearch Institute,

America’s Most Reputable Companies, Laurie Burkitt, Forbes, 4/20/10

The High Cost of Government Jobs by maliab

Senator Sam Slom and Small Business Hawaii regularly distribute a e-newsletter with items of interest for Hawaii’s entrepreneurs and supporters of business.  With the recession still on everyone’s mind, it can be a difficult thing to watch the barriers placed on business and economic recovery–not just in Hawaii, but around the country.  After all, small business often operates like the barometer of our economy.  When they thrive, so do we.  When they struggle, it’s a sign that things aren’t going well (or may be about to get worse).  I’ll save my diatribe about the federal reserve and the credit crunch on small business for another day, but I was much struck by this note in the Small Business Hawaii newsletter:

Coincidental that the final report on the federal stimulus spending program was quietly released last Friday before the July 4 weekend. The report, not reported in most government media, confirmed that the only real jobs created were those in government. The cost per job? It was $278,000. Per government job.

Not that we needed more proof, but what finer example can there be of the fact that growing the economy is best left to the private sector?  How many jobs could the typical Hawaii business create with $278,000?  More than one I bet.

The Case for Nullification by grassroothawaii
June 24, 2011, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Limited Government | Tags: , ,

By Cannon Brooke

A few weeks ago, economist and political analyst Thomas Woods gave a speech at the event Nullify Now in Los Angeles California. His speech was one of the strongest and most thought provoking I had heard on nullification and states’ rights.

The process of nullification refers to the power of a state to refuse to enforce or apply an unconstitutional federal law. Typically, when nullification is discussed in the media, it usually gets reduced to generalities that are poorly strung together in a semblance of reasoning. One example of this, which Woods eloquently touches on, is the dubious racist connotation attached to the nullification dialogue.

And that is exactly the problem, most Americans never heard the idea of nullification, and if they have – it is known only in caricature.

The speech is approximately forty-eight minutes and covers a lot of ground. Woods presents an exemplary job at educating and providing a clear logical case for nullification and states’ rights. Moreover, he delivers an excellent historical review of the growing power in the federal government.

I highly recommend you set aside some time to review this speech. We need more prolific champions of freedom like Thomas Woods.

Cannon Brooke is the policy analyst summer intern at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

Cannon is from Seattle, Washington, and holds a Master of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Western Washington University. Much of his research is on policy and qualitative analysis, concentrating on American government, the legislative process and demographic trends.

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