Grassroot Institute Founder Was Right About Big Government

The late Richard “Dick” Rowland, founder of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, famously remarked: “The bigger the government, the smaller you get. “

“Big government”, of course, is a euphemism for large-scale economic interventionism and authoritarianism, but also, and not coincidentally, a reference to the literal size of the government bureaucracy.

Have you recently flipped through the 26 fine print pages of the Hawaiian Telcom phone book that lists all federal, state, and local government offices in Hawaii? The number may vary from county to county, but it is a surprisingly large number of offices and phone numbers, reflecting a surprisingly large number of federal, state, and local officials and all taxes and regulations. that they involve.

In Hawaii, there are currently 31 state departments and agencies comprising 152 additional subdivisions and attached agencies. As if that wasn’t enough for Hawaii taxpayers to support and manage, there are also 170 boards and commissions.

As of July 2021, about one in five workers in Hawaii was employed by state, local or federal governments, not including the military, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. It is the fifth highest share among all states, according to a recent analysis of census data.

Dick Rowland.

Of course, not all bureaucracy is necessarily a bad thing. This can be a prime example of the division of labor, whereby complex tasks are distributed among individuals, resulting in specialization.

However, bureaucracy should only be tolerated to the extent that it serves the individual, and not the other way around.

In a free market, if a company refuses to recognize the demands of individuals, profit and loss signals and other market mechanisms will cause the company to change its behavior. The alternative is to risk collapse, or at least to lose significant market share to competitors.

On the other hand, a large monopoly government bureaucracy blurs the importance and interest of individuals. As bureaucratic “red tape” is added, individuals are increasingly estranged from their elected officials and other governing bodies.

The disconnect between government and the individual results in a lack of government accountability and policies that do not reflect individual interests, but rather a government that governs for the sake of governing. In 2014, a 60-page audit of the customer service department of the Honolulu Motor Vehicles, Licensing and Permitting Division concluded that the division had not supported “customer service improvement initiatives.” Previously launched by the division itself and the mayor’s office.

Inept management

According to the city auditor, the division “did not view long lines and long waits at its satellite town halls and its motor vehicle, registration and licensing offices… as valid concerns; and has not supported or fully implemented initiatives to reduce waiting times and queues.

In 2015, Hawaii received a D + in the State Integrity Survey, a comprehensive assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted in partnership with Global Integrity, the nonprofit group which tracks governance and corruption trends around the world. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that in 2018 a verifiable and incompetent emergency management worker had the power to alarm millions of Hawaiians from an incoming ballistic missile.

Hawaii got another D + rating in 2019, this time when it comes to its infrastructure. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, some components of the state’s infrastructure are over a century old, which by common standards is far too old to be considered usable.

In 2016, as Hawaii faced criticism for the condition of its roads, Larry Galehouse, director of the National Center for Pavement Preservation, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser: “Of the 50 states, Hawaii’s roads are near the bottom. . … It’s unfortunate but it’s true.

Hawaii should look to limited government and the free market.

Galehouse said eight years earlier he had provided the Hawaii Department of Transportation with 16 pages of road repair recommendations, but “much of what we recommended fell on deaf ears.” .

Simply put, whether it is county, state or federal government, great government comes at the expense of the voice and sovereignty of the individual.

As government takes root in bureaucracy, individuals are not only forced to live with the consequences of government incompetence, but find it more difficult to challenge this incompetence when faced with bureaucratic hurdles. .

If we want to see a better Hawaii, a shift to limited government and the free market would be a good place to start.

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