“Deceptive” Charge “Misleading”

Many politicians serve as powerful arguments for term limits. Arkansas State Senator Jon Woods rivals the best.

Sen. Woods (R-Springdale) and State Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) authored a 22-page, 7,000-word constitutional amendment on this November’s ballot. They say Issue 3 is about ethics and transparency.

You decide.

Woods and Sabin threw together various ethics provisions and then stuck in a gutting of term limits. Their ballot title reads it is “establishing term limits” — without bothering to inform voters that it doubles how long legislators can stay in the Senate and more than doubles the House limit — to a whopping 16 years!

This week, Arkansas Term Limits debuted TV ads alerting the public to the scam, charging that legislators have “pursued a campaign of silence . . . letting the deceptive ballot title do their work,” so that “when Arkansas voters go to the polls there will be no mention of the doubling of term[s].”

The unrepentant Sen. Woods says that it is “misleading” to call his Issue 3 deceptive. Meanwhile, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that, after asking if Woods’s ballot language wasn’t indeed deceptive: “Woods said he doesn’t know.”

The senator’s response to the Arkansas GOP Convention’s nearly unanimous resolution against Issue 3? “You just have a couple of nuts that got together on a Saturday that were out of touch with Arkansans and passed a silly resolution that in no way reflects the point of view of all Republicans in Arkansas.”

Perhaps Democratic politicians are smarter. Democratic co-author Sabin is nowhere to be found in news coverage of Issue 3, likely hiding under his bed.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

John Oliver vs. Cops Who Rob

“Since 9/11, under just one program police have taken two-and-a-half billion dollars in the course of over 61,000 seizures of cash alone, from people who . . . were not charged with a crime. That is the sort of behavior we laugh at other countries for, along with their accents and silly hats.”

So says a prime-time TV comedian who devotes more than 15 minutes of his monologue to exposing and critiquing the malignant practice of “civil forfeiture,” which lets cops grab and keep your cash just because it’s there.

You won’t find such an extended, mostly spot-on critique of civil forfeiture — bolstered by Q&A with the likes of Ezekiel Edwards and Scott Bullock — delivered by a “Tonight Show” or “Late Night” host. The credit goes to John Oliver (HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”), who finds plenty to satirize in the contradictions and silliness of “law enforcers” who function as thieves.

Much of the work is done for him. Oliver doesn’t have to try too hard, for example, to poke fun at the Funk Night raid, caught on video. The police seized 48 cars, contending, “simply driving vehicles to the location of an unlawful sale of alcohol was sufficient to seize a car.” Says Oliver: “Which means you might as well seize any car being driven by any teen on prom night.”

I’ve been more or less indifferent to the fate of John Oliver’s new HBO show; but now I say, ardently, “Live long and prosper!”

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Is “Less Big” Possible?

The idea of a streamlined welfare state is utterly foreign in today’s political climate. Offering some social services, but not others? Anathema — at least to our “progressives.”

It is also, even more obviously, not nurtured by current political process.

After all, we’ve witnessed two major expansions in “welfare” programs in the last decade, the bipartisan Medicare “Part D” and the Democrats’ “Obamacare.” The first was underfunded from the start, and the second was and remains a mess. Both are financial time bombs.

But if you think America has it bad, it’s worse in France.

Jean Tirole, the new (just announced) Nobel Laureate in Economics, calls the condition of the French labor market “catastrophic.” And he thinks France’s government has to be smaller.

Now, he’s no heir to J.-B. Say and Fredéric Bastiat. He does not support an extremely limited government, a “nightwatchman” state. He says he likes France’s basic model. But it has grown too far in size and scope:

Tirole remarked that northern European countries, as well as Canada and Australia, had proven you could keep a welfare social model with smaller government. In contrast, he said France’s “big state” threatened its social policies because there will not be “enough money to pay for it in the long run.”

He’s basically just demanding that government live within its means.

It’s not too far from common Tea Party sentiment.

But tell that to your average progressive pol. Or blogger. Or activist. Given protective cover for ever-growing spending by the likes of New York Times’s Nobel columnist, Paul Krugman, any idea of federal spending cutbacks have been and remain off limits.

Maybe Professor Tirole can convince them.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Baghdad Boots

Are we being misinformed about the war now being waged against ISIS in Iraq and Syria?

Or should I call it a “counter-terrorism operation”?

Oh, I know there is an election in a few weeks, so we don’t want to bother the pretty little heads of our national representatives in Congress. They’re far too busy running for re-election.

And, though the president isn’t on the ballot, as he points out, his unpopular policies certainly are. Mr. Obama’s concern for his own political legacy must of course come before the ordinary lives of our sons and daughters that he has placed in harm’s way.

Get realpolitik.

Don’t expect a congressional debate over the U.S. commitment now. And give the Prez a break; he’s ordering enough airstrikes to supposedly keep a lid on things until after the election.

Chill out. Our commander-in-chief has repeatedly assured us there are no boots on the ground. Certainly, the city-within-a-city U.S. Embassy in Baghdad isn’t going to be overrun or anything like that.

Except, well, we do have boots on the ground. Or just above it, flying attack helicopters on combat missions . . . because ISIS soldiers have gotten within 15 miles of the Baghdad airport.

“The tool that was immediately available was the Apache,” explains Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “You’re not going to wait until they’re climbing over the wall. Had [ISIS forces] overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the Baghdad airport.”

Boots guard that airport. But who’s guarding truth, justice and the American way?

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

The £2 Workaround

Last February, between Bath and Bristol, the A431 suffered from a “landslip.” (I assume that’s Brit-speak for “landslide.”) With the road closed, folks on either side of the slide had to drive around “the long way.”

The government body responsible for the road said the repair wouldn’t be finished till the end of the year.

So one commuter, businessman Mike Watts, took matters into his own hands. Contracting with the farmer who owned the adjacent fields, he built a road parallel to the old one. And, with the apparent blessings of the road authority, set up his 400-yard toll road to make up the difference. A private, pay-for-use “traffic revision.”

He charges £2 per trip for a car, and just celebrated his hundred thousandth car. He’s well on his way to recovering his costs.

Unfortunately, those costs have included some payola demands (er, fees) from the government.

On mises.org Matt McCaffrey lauds the success of this private road venture, making the point that, yes, private enterprise can build roads.

But we all knew that. Private roads, turnpikes, toll roads — they were once quite common, and could become common again. This is the first in a century in Britain, though.

What this story demonstrates? Let another enterprising Brit, 19th century sociologist Herbert Spencer, explain it: “Unlike private enterprise which quickly modifies its actions to meet emergencies . . . the law-made instrumentality lumbers on under all varieties of circumstances at its habitual rate.”

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Townhall: And the Hypocritical Horse-Trading You Rode In On

This weekend on Townhall.com? The Common Sense of a broken stalemate in Virginia. Click on over. Then come back here, for more information.

Video: The Long Con in Arkansas

A video about three legislature-referred ballot measures in Arkansas, one of which, Issue 3, is NOT like the others. Video courtesy of Paul Jacob.