This article originally published in the Hawaii Reporter here.

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

By Malia Hill

Quote of the Week:
“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”—Thomas Jefferson

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 Senate Breaks Its Own Rules…Constantly

It is kind of amazing that so (comparatively) few people have seen this video clip of Senator Rand Paul, making what are a few stunning confessions on the part of the Senate.  Sure, it doesn’t involve kittens or babies dressed in strange outfits, but every once in a while, something of actual importance to the future of democracy ought to seep through into our consciousness.  Here, Sen. Paul is officially objecting to the fact that the Senate broke its own rules by not allowing the required 48 hours between proposal of a piece of legislation and the vote on it, a gap that is supposed to allow everyone the chance to read it.  Of course, at 600 pages, with new additions only hours old, it is ridiculous to expect that even the required 48 hours would be sufficient to read and digest the bill in question.  As anyone who has ever attempted to read legislation can tell you, we’re not exactly talking about snappy, well-constructed prose.  Your average legislative item makes a Game of Thrones book look tightly constructed and fast-paced.

Paul goes on to complain that the majority will almost certainly overrule his rules-based objection that they ought to have the opportunity to read the material being voted on . . . pretty much just because they’re the majority and they say so.  It’s a shocking and depressing state of affairs that not only do our elected officials not do the only thing that they’re supposed to do—read and seriously consider pending legislation before acting on it—but that there is no attempt whatsoever to hold them accountable for that.  Watch the video, and then wonder, along with Senator Paul, why even the small percentage of the public that does approve of the Congress can do so.  Did they only poll the Senators’ mothers?

A Gold Star for the GOP

A huge victory for sound money and monetary reform occurred this week as the Republican Party platform added a plank calling for a commission to study the feasibility of a return to the gold standard.  Of course, as is so often the case with bold action, this came accompanied by panicky and occasionally hysterical criticism.  (Though not, I should note, from headline writers or other lovers of cheap, easy puns.)  It’s a bit much to ask gold standard critics to declare that they love inflation, unstable currency, or an unaccountable Federal Reserve.  So we are left to wonder why the attempts to marginalize the gold standard (an increasingly mainstream position) are so prevalent and where these people learned their history.

Fortunately, Ralph Benko sets the record straight in this Forbes article, outlining the history of the gold standard, and chronicling its traditionally high levels of public support.  Of course, to claim that a return to the gold standard is an extreme position is a weak argument to begin with, but as Benko demonstrates, it doesn’t even have the merit of being true.

Big Problems for Small Business

It’s an election year, so that means it’s time for politicians to make a lot of noise about how much they care about small businesses while doing very little to help them in any way.  In fact, given the President’s recent remarks on how the government really built those small businesses, small business owners must be wondering why that same government seems to be working so hard to destroy their own “creations.”  As Amy Payne writes, a recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses shows that the top three concerns for small business owners—taxes, regulations, and poor sales—give those owners every reason to be even more concerned about their post-election prospects.  With taxmageddon, more Obama regulations, and continued economic stagnation looming, those “We Built It” signs may end up needing an addendum: “You tore it down.”

The Recovery That Isn’t

Does anyone believe “official” unemployment statistics anymore?  Or has the contrast between real-world experience and the claims of press releases and government officials finally made it clear that no amount of statistical tap dancing is going to cover up the truth any longer.  The key, of course, being the manipulation of the statistics.  As 87% of those reading this know, 42% of published statistics are completely incomprehensible.  Like that stat I just made up.  What we really need to do is consider what information is being left out of the official statistics being offered to us.  Consider, for example, this essay from the National Center for Policy Analysis on a better way to evaluate unemployment.  The official stats don’t account for people who have become discouraged, stopped looking for work, etc.  So in order to truly claim a rise in employment, we need to see a corresponding drop in this otherwise untracked number.  (Not that I can blame the Administration for avoiding it—who wants to publicize the number of people who have so lost hope in your promises for “recovery” that they’ve just given up?)

The NHS Brain Drain

If I learned anything from the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics, it’s that British cultural pride is a random and many-splendored thing.  And also that David Beckham uses some powerful, possibly supernatural hair products.  Oh, and the Queen is a good sport.  But the most surprising item might have been the ode to the NHS, Britain’s socialized medical system that is also beloved by American liberals who don’t live there and famous for long lines, denial of care, degrading facilities, and poor pay.  And now also dancing nurses.  But despite the Olympic love letter to NHS, it seems that British doctors are not quite as fond of it, and are departing it in large numbers—a quiet brain drain based on an understandable desire for better hours and more money.  It’s possible that the effort to provide better(and universal) health care to its citizens may only end up straining the health care providers to the breaking point, giving those citizens even longer waits and fewer options.

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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