Sometimes it’s just not possible to be an ‘informed’ voter

Laws passed in the Lame Duck session of the Guam Legislature average 20% of total laws passed over ten years.

I’m sure most of you have heard someone tell you how important it is not only to vote, but to be an informed voter. You may even have heard the argument that the ‘uninformed’ probably shouldn’t vote at all (Though for these people, uninformed usually just means ‘people that don’t agree with me’).

But what happens if it just isn’t possible to be fully informed about all the candidates prior to Election Day. That’s standard operating procedure on Guam, where, over the past decade, the legislature has waited until AFTER Election Day to pass about 20% of its laws.

Passed 30th 29th 28th 27th 26th 25th
Total 239 156 189 161 174 192
Lame Duck 40 42 33 51 21 19
16.7% 26.9% 17.5% 31.7% 12.1% 9.9%

That means that even the most diligent of informed voters would only know of 80% of the work done by that Legislature prior to going to the polls.

The government’s regulatory agencies…

…have created or sustained private monopoly power more often than they have precluded or reduced it. This result was exactly what many interested parties desired from governmental regulation, though they would have been impolitic to have said so in public. The “one common conclusion” reached by historians of regulation is that “regulatory politics involved an intricate, complex, struggle among intensely competitive interest groups, each using the machinery of the state whenever it could, to serve particularistic goals largely unrelated to ‘public interest’ ideology except in the tactical sense.”

From page 8 of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Bob Higgs’ Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government.

Fiscal cliff a big fat fiscal joke

From Washington’s Phantom Austerity by Reason’s Editor-in-Chief Matt Welch:

“The very sequestration “cuts” that Washington is freaking out about will not, it can’t be stressed enough, lead to a net reduction in the size of government. Even the estimated $110 billion in trims currently slated for 2013 can and probably will be easily offset by war spending, post-Sandy relief, and whatever other goodies Congress hoses through the massive spending-cap loophole.”

Hurricane Sandy relief funding will likely be in the $60 billion range. That means we’re looking at more than half the savings disappearing right there. That leaves $50 billion in cuts to a $3.8 trillion budget; or about 1.3% in cuts before any manipulation of war spending is used to offset the temporary slowdown in the growth of the defense budget. That will put us back to where we were back in… 2012… plus a $150 billion cushion for good measure…. How Austere!

Read Matt’s full article here.

In a free and open society, income inequality is not unjust

Matt Zwolinski over at offers an insightful case against income redistribution as a tool of social justice.

“Asking whether the distribution of wealth in a society is in accordance with social justice is like asking whether the color blue is heavy or whether a stone is moral. It simply doesn’t make sense.”

From the talk page:

Zwolinski argues, we are all distributors. When we make decisions, like which grocer to buy from, what to study in school, or where to live, we affect the distribution of resources. None of those decisions is inherently just or unjust. As Prof. Zwolinski says, “If there’s no [single] agent responsible for the distribution of wealth in society, then how can that distribution be just or unjust?”

The more things change, the more they stay the same

An excerpt – as timely as ever – from page 484 of David Stanley’s 1982 volume South Pacific Handbook, 2nd Edition:

Up to now, Guam has lived on federal government handouts, but Washington is urging the island government to be less dependent and to stand on its own feet. They are attempting to do this by limiting govt. deficits, while encouraging business, tourism, and trade. Financial instability has meant that much of the money obtained from the 6 cents-a-gallon gasoline tax and 10% hotel room tax, meant to bring in revenue to use to improve facilities for visitors, has instead found its way into the general fund and is used to pay for normal govt. operations.  Unrealistic U.S. regulations such as the Jones Act, which requires that all goods shipped through Guam be carried on U.S. ships, make the island vulnerable to labor disputes thousands of kms away and add about US$10 million to Guam’s annual fuel bill. Almost all of Guam’s food is imported. The rich volcanic soils lie fallow due to the large military reservations (35% of the surface area of the island); the local government holds a further fifth to a third of the land, also very poorly utilized.