Friday, December 3, 2010

Reason... WikiLeaks, Federal Pay Freeze & Freedom of Movement

Three briefs from Reason Foundation…

At Ken Kurson writes, "The existence of WikiLeaks is a good thing. You can't be in favor of democracy—and you certainly can't be a journalist—if you don't believe that the potential for exposure of wrongdoings helps keep those in positions of power accountable. However, just because something can be published doesn't mean it should be. Privacy is not the same as 'secretive' or 'clandestine' or 'obfuscating.' As a society, we benefit from the Internet's unrivaled ability to blast infinite information freely. But that ability does not mean everything ought to be shared."

Reason Foundation's Leonard Gilroy says that we "should avoid the temptation for cynicism regarding President Obama's proposal and instead give him credit where credit is due. Sure, the pay freeze proposal is just a start. Sure, the pay freeze—while estimated to save a significant $60 billion over the next 10 years—is a drop in the bucket relative to the massive current and future structural deficits at the federal level.  But you have to start somewhere. There are no magic wand solutions for our massive fiscal challenges. Solving the budget crisis will require a broad package of reforms, some large and many small, some short-term and some long-term. And taking small steps to stop the bleeding—like temporary pay and hiring freezes—is essential when managing a fiscal crisis. That's what private businesses do in a crisis, that's what many nonprofits do, and that's what the president is proposing for a majority of federal employees. This week Obama has also talked about selling underutilized federal property and freezing non-security spending.  Are these mostly symbolic steps? Yes, but even symbolic spending cuts are necessary and add up. For those of us who believe the government has a spending problem and not a revenue problem, it is good to see the White House proposing spending cuts—of any size.  And hopefully this opens the door to the bigger discussion about the massive costs that government workers and their pension benefits are imposing on all taxpayers."

The next one is all too real… and all too frightening…

"[Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano said last month that we should expect to soon see tighter restrictions at bus, train, and marine transportation centers, too...It's not difficult to envision the day where anyone wishing to take mass transportation in this country will have to first submit to a government checkpoint, show ID, and answer questions about any excess cash, prescription medication, or any other items in his possession the government deems suspicious. If and when that happens, freedom of movement will essentially be dead. But it won't happen overnight. It'll happen incrementally. And each increment will, when taken in isolation, appear to some to be perfectly reasonable." - Reason magazine's Radley Balko

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