Grand Jury Sins

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the most important jobs of the informed citizenry is to push back against government excesses. All governments– indeed, all bureaucracies– are inclined to grow fat with power and reluctant to relinquish either the money that they collect or the control that collects around them. It is their nature.

That doesn’t mean that government is evil or only does evil, only that the balance of power should always tip in the favor of the citizens. Government employees and politicians should always be made to be aware that they serve at the whim and will of the people. Protect the people and serve them well, and be safe in your job; serve yourself and you’ll soon need to be looking for a new line of work.

Sadly, it’s damned hard to fire government employees (whose jobs are not only safe, but they have better benefits and pay than their civilian counterparts), and politicians at the national level enjoy retention rates that are ridiculously high (and approval rates that are similarly low).

Gnaw on that fact for a bit.

So, as citizens, we keep rewarding failure at the highest level with more pay, perks, power, and job security. The failures of the United States are not the fault of the political class; they are the fault of the citizenry that refuses to do its job. We have become a trivial people given to worry over irrelevant social policies while our economy continues to falter and the politicians become ever more powerful.

Which is a long-winded prologue to this story of why government, at every level, must be held accountable for their failures and citizens must be protected from their excesses.

Grand juries are supposed to protect us from false allegations, but the old saying that prosecutors could get a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich”reflects the reality that most fail on that front. Instead, as this study from the Cato Institute explains, they’re often used to harass and intimidate.

Read it all and remember: it’s your job to push back against the excesses of government. At every level.

Vote wisely in the upcoming elections.

Quick Read of the Day: Obama and the New Global Instability

Over at Commentary, a quick little article about President Obama’s failure on foreign policy. A tidbit:

Mr. Obama said that if elected his approach would be characterized by “smart diplomacy.” The result would be that he would “remake the world” and “heal the planet.” And during the first summer of his presidency, Mr. Obama said his policies would usher in a “new beginning” based on “mutual respect” with the Arab and Islamic world and “help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East.”

Some new dawn.

President Obama has not only not achieved what he said he would; the world may well be, as Senator John McCain put it this weekend, “in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime.” Mr. Obama’s role in this turmoil depends on the particular case we’re talking about, but it’s certainly the case that (a) his policies have amplified and accelerated some of the problems around the world while failing to mitigate others and (b) measured against his own standards, the president has failed miserably.

And it was all utterly predictable. That’s the hell of it.

I find that my commentary is becoming increasingly bitter. I don’t blame our president at all for following his own nature or for being precisely the politician that I fully expected he would be. No, I blame my fellow citizens for electing him twice to this position, and for leaving our nation open to him. While we debated the trivial (free contraceptives are, truly, trivial in comparison to our economy, the number of healthy Americans who remain jobless, and the dangers of an unsettled world political order), we elected a man who was a measurable failure as president. A failure in nearly every meaningful way.

No One Wants to Pay for the Free Stuff

Hide Our Heads

Apparently, we can’t handle the truth…

What to take from this Reason article wherein we find that millenials are deeply cynical about government, believe it to be bloated and inefficient, and would like to see it spend less money while at the same time wanting access to free health care and a guaranteed “living wage?” Probably nothing earth-shatteringly huge, except that as long as someone else is footing the bill, we all want all of the “free” services that we can get.

“Would you like a Ferrari?”

“Yes.”

“Would you like a Ferrari even if it means that you’ll have to pay for it, heavily, for the rest of your life.”

“Well, when you ask that way…”

But when you’re convinced that someone else always owes more taxes (a misguided sense of “fairness”), then there is always someone else to pick up the tab. The conversation about green energy is similar.

“Would you like all energy to be generated through clean, renewable sources?”

“Yes.”

“Would you like all energy to be generated through clean, renewable sources even if it doubles your current energy bill?”

“Well, when you ask it that way…”

Of course, this ignores all sorts of subsidies and market-distorting realities that mean few of us know the actual cost of most of the staples in our lives (farm subsidies, energy subsidies, unequal tax and regulatory burdens on a variety of industries…) so what we actually pay for our energy, food, medical care, and Ferraris is anything but transparent. While transparency would be nice, what we have is such distortion that our supposedly free market is more like a pool where some bits are a tad murky and others are utterly opaque.

But here’s the thing: when it comes to politics, we usually stop at that first question and answer set. We rarely step back to truly understand the cost of our legislation and our expectations. Why would we imagine folks would make rational choices when they aren’t actually given enough information (or that information is so obscured as to be indecipherable) to choose rationally?

More Obamacare Fun

Firstly, our friend, Steve Green, is pointing out some of what I was mentioning below and then goes a few thoughts deeper on the subject in The Week the Wheels Came Off Obamacare.

The pols and pundits can argue and fingerpoint until they’re blue in the — finger? — but Obamacare’s numbers paint a bleak picture of broken promises and outright lies. After a full month, nearly 40,000 people have successfully signed up for health insurance at HealthCare.gov, out of an administration goal of over seven million by the end of March. At that rate, the administration will have met its goal sometime in the autumn — of 2028.

Mind you, the goal of Obamacare was to provide coverage for some 47,000,000 uninsured Americans. So take those 15 years and multiply them by about seven. You’re gonna need a bigger calculator.

Ignored in those dreary statistics is the fact that people are being dumped out of their current coverage and onto the nonfunctional exchanges faster than the exchanges can handle them. An estimated 1,500,000 have lost their coverage, up against those newly insured 40,000. The best guess is that seven or eight million more face the same fate.

And that’s just the first few paragraphs.

This little article dives into the numbers in Kentucky– and it’s dismal.

These notes serve to reinforce my belief that when the numbers start turning positive, the “newly covered” are going to be nothing of the sort. Folks stripped of coverage by government mandate will be the first, largest influx of Obamacare enrollees.

View from the Tar Pits

Velociman’s view from the tar pits is five minutes of reading extremely well-spent.

There is a strange poetry to his words.

So, What You’re Telling Me…

…is that our “not quite good enough job growth” has  been downgraded to “nowhere near replacement level job growth.”

Well. That sucks.

Between December of 2012 and February of 2013, 699,000 jobs were created; for an average of 233,000. Between March and May of 2013, however, the economy created only 466,000 jobs; for an average of 155,000 jobs.

Read the original.