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Recent Policy Studies
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Pierre Manent, Intercollegiate Studies InstituteBook, 11/26/2008
In this pithy and eloquent essay, the eminent French political philosopher Pierre Manent raises the alarm on the dangers attending the “depoliticization” of contemporary Europe—that is, the dangers of reducing the human world to the single desideratum of maximizing individual and social rights. Europeans, he suggests, increasingly wish to escape from the “national form” that welcomed and nourished democracy in the first place. In place of territorial democracy, which made possible liberty and self-government, Europeans have increasingly succumbed to a “confused idea of human unity” that effaces all the mediations between the individual and the “world.” In Democracy without Nations? Manent takes powerful aim at this new, distinctively European form of “democratic governance,” which neither truly represents nor governs the individuals whose rights it aims to maximize.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Daniel K. Benjamin, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterReport, 11/26/2008
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been hotly debated for 40 years. Supporters call it the “crown jewel” of American environmental legislation, essential to biodiversity preservation. Opponents argue that the ESA imposes high costs on society while delivering few benefits. New research brings important evidence to bear on this debate. Ferraro, McIntosh, and Ospina (2007) find that the ESA has, in fact, failed to protect endangered species. Indeed, their evidence indicates that for a large majority of the species studied, listing under the ESA has actually harmed the species’ chances of recovery.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Donald R. Leal, Vishwanie Maharaj, Lexington BooksBook, 11/26/2008
Increasing coastal populations, rising recreational demand, and growing conflicts with other users are adding to the challenge of managing marine recreational fisheries today. Traditional regulations—such as daily bag limits and seasonal closures—are often not enough to control fishing impacts and they tend to generate greater discontent and lower economic benefits in the angling community as they become more restrictive. This volume is the first to examine management approaches that promise to better control fishing, generate more information on fishing impacts, and give angler more freedom to enjoy their sport.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Sean P. Wajert, Daniel G. Bowers, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 11/26/2008
In Fellner v. Tri-Union Seafoods, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that state law failure to warn claims concerning mercury levels in tuna fish products were not preempted by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory actions. While reinforcing its recent decision in favor of preemption in the drug context, Colacicco v. Apotex Inc., the opinion by Judge Stapleton concluded that FDA decisions not to require a warning in this particular food context were insufficiently formal, adjudicative, or authoritative to displace contrary state law, despite the FDA’s insistence to the contrary. The Third Circuit’s decision in Fellner demonstrates courts’ continuing struggles to apply the seemingly simple concept of the Supremacy Clause to FDA activity.
National SecurityBy James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/26/2008
Directed Energy Weapons, particularly those powered by lasers, have long been the stuff of science fiction. Due to recent innovations in commercial solid-state lasers and their adaptation to military uses, potential and immediate national security applications for these weapons are apparent. The Pentagon, however, has been agonizingly slow in fielding operational prototypes. This must change. There are real-world missions for which laser weapons are needed right now. Pirates off the coast of Somalia, terrorists armed with shoulder-fired heat seeking missiles that can down commercial airliners, and road-side improvised landmines waiting to ambush military and civilian convoys all share something in common: They are threats capable of harassing both governments and the private sector. Additionally, such dangers are not easily countered by conventional military capabilities.
EducationBy Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise InstituteEducation Outlook, 11/25/2008
The history of school reform is a tale of clashing recipes and absolutes. For conventional reformers, it is a question of professional development, instructional leadership, curricula, and “best practices.” While championing these remedies, advocates have overlooked the enormous difficulties inherent in trying to turn around established organizations. For those skeptical of district-based reform, the proffered remedy is typically parental choice or market competition. Advocates of this approach have given short shrift to the challenges of deregulation and the institutions and resources needed to foster a vibrant educational sector. These opposing camps suffer from a shared shortcoming—a failure to recognize that transformation will require consciously refashioning the world of schooling into a world that encourages and supports change.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 11/25/2008
When he assumes office on January 20, Obama will need to act decisively with heretofore unprecedented fiscal policy steps, in conjunction with measures by the Federal Reserve to increase the money supply and lower long-term interest rates. All of this must be done to help contain and reverse the accelerating global slowdown by halting the rapidly deepening American recession. The Fed needs to undertake quantitative easing, whereby it prints money and expands its balance sheet by direct purchases of longer-term Treasuries or mortgage-backed securities. The result of such quantitative easing would be to push mortgage rates down toward 4 percent from the current level of 6 percent. This would help to ease stresses in the mortgage market and thereby help to contain what is likely to be a reacceleration of the fall in house prices. Further, lower borrowing costs would help, at the margin, to stimulate spending by households that are not in acute financial distress.
National SecurityBy Jena Baker McNeill, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/25/2008
On November 12, senior House Republican leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to amend Rule X, the rule governing how committees are organized, so that the chaotic system of congressional oversight of homeland security might be changed. Congress should consolidate oversight and limit jurisdiction over homeland security to four committees: the House and Senate appropriations committees and the House and Senate authorization committees. It should quickly enact a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorization bill that includes a structure for key personnel programs, critical missions, major research programs, and investments in information technology. Finally, through its oversight power, Congress has a major role to play in DHS’s success. Congress should be a partner, not an adversary, in this function.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 11/25/2008
With the completion of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement earlier this year, Washington’s ties with New Delhi stand on the threshold of great promise. China’s attempt to scuttle the agreement at the September 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting was evidence for many Indians that China does not willingly accept India’s rise on the world stage, nor the prospect of closer U.S.-India ties. As the relationship between the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracies develops, Washington will need to pay close attention to the dynamics of the India-China relationship. The future direction of relations between China and India, two booming economies that together account for one-third of the world’s population, will be a major factor in determining broader political and economic trends in Asia directly affecting U.S. interests.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/25/2008
On November 23, Venezuela’s previously fragmented opposition scored key victories in state and municipal elections. President Hugo Chávez’s march to create a socialized economy and install a one-party state à la Cuba continues to encounter resistance from wary voters. This electoral setback is the result of several everyday problems that have blemished Chávez’s social track record and placed him on the defensive, including: high inflation, food scarcities, skyrocketing crime, and poor service delivery. Consequently, the electorate’s reluctance to further embrace Chávez’s socialist, one-party vision is drawing the opposition together
National SecurityBy Peter Brookes, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 11/25/2008
While it might be true that American power has peaked in a comprehensive way, certainly in relative terms, especially with the rise of China, Russia, India, and Brazil, I would suggest that American power, particularly its military dominance, might be sorely missed in the years to come if America is indeed on the wane—a refrain, I’ll remind you, that we’ve heard before. For those who may greet a decline in American power with glee, I admonish you: Be careful what you wish for. You’ll be sorry when it’s gone. Obviously, military might is not the answer to every problem, but over the millennia it has often played a central, if regrettable, role in international politics. As one American statesman said, diplomacy without the credible threat of military force is nothing but a prayer.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Nancy G. Brinker, Christopher R. Hill, Said T. Jawad, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 11/25/2008
We have to embrace the guiding spirit of the President’s global democracy agenda and Secretary Rice’s emphasis on transformational diplomacy, both of which are rooted in partnerships between nations and people-to-people relationships. So we need to be promoting, strengthening, and furthering bilateral relationships in a way that has never been done before. We need, simply put, diplomacy in action. Who better to carry and communicate America’s values and shared interests back home than the foreign ambassadors? The diplomatic community has expressed a desire—a need—to know America: not just large cities, but each region of the country and small-town America. So our Experience America Tours have been sharing our hometowns, big and small, with foreign diplomats.
Pennsylvania State Education Association: Compelling Teachers, Marginalizing Students, Lobbying Politicians & Increasing TaxesBy Jessica K. Runk, Matthew J. Brouillette, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Brief, 11/25/2008
The Pennsylvania State Teachers Association (PSEA) has evolved into a powerful political machine with full and part-time political operatives in the state capital and in 13 regionally positioned offices throughout the Commonwealth. The labor union’s extensive network of personnel is able to directly and indirectly influence local, regional, statewide, and national political campaigns through hard and soft dollar contributions totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. But by completely politicizing public education at every level, the PSEA has effectively marginalized parents, children, and even teachers in communities throughout Pennsylvania.
PhilanthropyBy Marvin Olasky, Capital Research CenterCompassion and Culture, 11/25/2008
Theodore Roosevelt became known as a “trust-buster” during his first term because he favored action against large corporations that were anti-competition. What the new president became most passionate about, however, were not big economic issues but social issues. The best kind of helping, he felt, was “voluntary action by individuals in the form of associations,” particularly when the goal was “that most important of all forms of betterment, moral betterment – the moral betterment which usually brings material betterment in its train.” Church-based and community-based charity of the right kind was essential: Those who truly wanted to help had to stand “against mere sentimentality, against the philanthropy and charity which are not merely insufficient but harmful.”
EducationBy Bryan O’Keefe, Richard Vedder, Center for College Affordability and ProductivityReport, 11/25/2008
Over the years, the explosion in college enrollment and higher education costs has been attributed to many factors. But largely overlooked have been the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Griggs v. Duke Power: case and its related rulings. Yet these may have made major contributions to these developments. If so, the law of unintended consequences will have been proven correct once again. The long-term policy and legal challenge might be to remove higher education from this vocational credentialing role, allowing employers to test job candidates so long as the tests are fair and do not intentionally discriminate, and return the Ivory Tower to its core missions, which have been lost in the incessant zeal for college degrees over the last thirty-five years.
EducationBy Benjamin Scafidi, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceSchool Choice Issues, 11/25/2008
Maryland’s school finance system experienced a restructuring in 2002 with the passage of SB 856, the “Bridge to Excellence Act.” The “Bridge” Act set the funding amount for “base” students, brought state funding for kindergarten students on par with students in grades 1-12, and collapsed about 50 school funding programs into eight. The act also increased the state’s cigarette tax by 34 cents per pack to fund the increases in school funding to school systems. In exchange for this increased funding, the Bridge Act required the state to hold school systems accountable for meeting student achievement benchmarks, including sanctions for low school performance. This report makes two recommendations. The first would provide greater transparency in public school funding. The second would allow parents to direct the taxpayer resources devoted to their child’s education to the traditional public, charter public, or private school of their choice.
Nonprofit Organizations and Faith-based Initiatives: What the Private Sector Can Contribute to the Pursuit of the Public InterestBy Stephen M. King, Public Interest InstitutePolicy Study, 11/25/2008
It has been said that the quality of a nation can be seen in the way it treats its least advantaged citizens ...the state of nonprofit America is surprisingly robust as we enter the new millennium, with more organizations doing more things more effectively than ever before. There is substantial support for the impact of nongovernmental actors to operate in policy areas once dominated by government. These actors, including private, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, are increasing in quantity and influence. Many public services are now delivered through nongovernmental organizations, such as nonprofits.
EducationBy Paul DiPerna, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceReport, 11/25/2008
Two findings stand out in this scientifically representative poll of 1,200 likely Montana voters. First, considerable popular support exists for school choice policies and particularly creating a tax-credit scholarship system. There is also majority support for policies creating school vouchers and charter schools. Second, there is a glaring disconnect between schooling preferences and enrollments. Ninety percent of Montana parents told us they prefer sending their child to a private school, charter school, virtual school, or provide homeschooling. In reality, approximately 93 percent of Montana’s students attend regular public schools.
National SecurityBy Michael Ledeen, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 11/25/2008
Today’s Iran story is that the head of its armed forces announced that it has a new and formidable missile. There is neither a picture of the missile nor any information about the nature of the missile, and, in fact, you can be quite sure that there is no such missile at all. The bottom line is that Iran is our principal enemy in the Middle East, and perhaps in the entire world. It is also a terribly vulnerable regime, and it knows that—which is why it makes up stories about airplanes and missiles that it doesn’t have. Our choices with regard to Iran are to challenge them directly and win this war now, to do so only after they kill a lot more of us in some kind of attack, or to surrender.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Russell Roberts, Princeton University PressBook, 11/25/2008
Stanford University student and Cuban American tennis prodigy Ramon Fernandez is outraged when a nearby mega-store hikes its prices the night of an earthquake. He crosses paths with provost and economics professor Ruth Lieber when he plans a campus protest against the price-gouging retailer—which is also a major donor to the university. Ruth begins a dialogue with Ramon about prices, prosperity, and innovation and their role in our daily lives. Is Ruth trying to limit the damage from Ramon's protest? Or does she have something altogether different in mind? The Price of Everything is a captivating story about economic growth and the unseen forces that create and sustain economic harmony all around us.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Edward H. Crane, Cato InstituteReport, 11/25/2008
Let’s put in perspective the commentaries about the collapse of laissez-faire capitalism and the end of libertarianism in light of the financial fiasco we face. The federal government has been regulating banks and monetary policy intensely since the 1913 creation of the Federal Reserve and well into the 19th century in the case of banks. Laissez-faire capitalism this ain’t. It is not even clear it’s capitalism. This is a crisis born and bred in halls of the United States federal government. It is the furthest thing from a market failure. It is a pure example of government failure.
Regulation & DeregulationBy David R. Henderson, Cato InstituteReport, 11/25/2008
Many journalists claim that the U.S. economy since the late 1970s has been very free, with little regulation; that this absence of regulation has caused markets to fail; that there was a consensus in favor of little regulation; and that, now, this consensus is fading. On all these counts, the reports are false. Specifically, the U.S. economy has not been free since before the New Deal of the 1930s. Even before the 1930s, the U.S. economy was “mixed”—that is, a combination of economic freedom and government regulation—and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal altered the “mix” substantially toward regulation and away from freedom. We have not had a period of light regulation, deregulation didn’t fail, and regulation makes things worse.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Ryan J. Miller, Washington Legal FoundationCounsel's Advisory, 11/25/2008
One sign that judges are becoming less tolerant of time-consuming and resource draining ‘junk’ lawsuits is a recent increase in court-imposed sanctions on plaintiffs’ counsel. In the highly competitive market of plaintiff lawyering, sanctions are an especially unwanted black mark on attorneys’ resumes. In ATSI Communications v. The Shaar Fund, Ltd., three attorneys made a creative attempt to use a post-judgment settlement as a bargaining chip to persuade a judge to drop sanctions against the counsel and order the “depublication” of documents relating to the case. The attorneys learned that the old adage “it never hurts to try” does not apply to the filing of baseless lawsuits, and that attempting to use a settlement as leverage to negotiate their way out of the consequences is not an option.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 11/24/2008
Legislation designed to address global warming failed in Congress this year, largely due to concerns about its high costs and adverse impact on an already weakening economy. The congressional debate will likely resume in 2009, as legislators try again to balance the environmental and economic considerations on this complex issue. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pursuant to a 2007 Supreme Court decision, has initiated steps toward bypassing the legislative process and regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. The EPA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) is nothing less than the most costly, complicated, and unworkable regulatory scheme ever proposed. Under ANPR, nearly every product, business, and building that uses fossil fuels could face requirements that border on the impossible.
Budget & TaxationBy Goldwater Institute, Goldwater InstituteReport, 11/24/2008
The principles of individual rights and limited government enshrined in the Arizona Constitution are as relevant today as they were when it was written almost 100 years ago. Indeed, its words are the very foundation of ideas that will advance freedom. Article II, Section II of the Arizona Constitution clearly states the purpose of government: “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.” In that spirit the Goldwater Institute presents “100 Ideas for 100 Days”—one idea for each day of the legislative session. These ideas will help lower the tax burden, give parents more choices in where their children go to school, and address the state’s billion dollar budget shortfall.
National SecurityBy Jena Baker McNeill, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/24/2008
Recent headlines have been dominated by the exploits of pirates operating in the Cape of Aden’s global shipping lanes. By seizing cargo ships and oil tankers, these modern pirates have had a tremendous impact on the security of the maritime domain. The United States, however, is likely best served by not engaging this issue in a way that would be perceived as a military presence, unless our intelligence demands intervention. If the U.S. does not act in its own interests first, it will do little to protect the security of Americans, and it will perpetuate fears by African countries that the U.S. seeks to have a sustained military presence in the region for less than honest reasons.
Health CareBy Dennis G. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/24/2008
Reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) will take on new and heightened importance early next year. Flaws in last year’s SCHIP legislation could produce even worse results this time around, and rushing the same legislation through the new Congress could create new inequities and tensions among the states. Honest numbers should encourage Congress to consider a new approach to providing affordable health insurance to American families and children that enables them to keep the private coverage they have and to get the private coverage that they want.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Brian Doherty, Cato InstituteBook, 11/21/2008
This past June, the Supreme Court decided a question at the heart of one of America’s most impassioned debates, ruling that individual citizens have the constitutional right to possess guns. With that decision, the District’s handgun ban—one of the toughest and most controversial in the nation—was ended. Brian Doherty tells the full story behind the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling. With exclusive, behind the scenes access throughout the case, Doherty delved into the issues of this monumental case to provide a compelling look at the inside stories, including: the plaintiffs’ fight for the right to protect themselves and their families from violent neighborhoods; the activist lawyers who worked exhaustively to affirm that right; and the forces that fought to stop the case, including city officials and the National Rifle Association.
National SecurityBy Ariel Cohen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/21/2008
The day after Barack Obama won the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced the first real test for the U.S. President-elect. In his State of the Federation speech, Medvedev threatened to station Iskander short-range nuclear-capable missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave if the U.S. proceeds with deploying anti-missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Obama Administration should not give in to Russian threats. If it does, it will signal that the new U.S. President-elect can be pressured on other issues. Even if Obama were open to the idea of delaying or canceling the deployment, to do so following Russian missile threats would be an unmistakable sign of weakness.
Budget & TaxationBy James Jay Carafano, Eric Sayers, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 11/21/2008
Eliminating misspent defense dollars is frequently cited as a remedy for reducing military spending. Such proposals ignore the fact that eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse has historically proven to be a relatively modest source of savings compared to the overall defense budget. In addition, substantial programs already exist to root out unnecessary spending. While government should, of course, take every responsible measure to ensure it is a good steward of our tax dollars and provide the best support for our men and women in uniform, procedures to guard against waste should not be so restrictive that they undermine efforts to innovate and adapt to national security challenges.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Andrew M. Grossman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/21/2008
Congress’s habit, when confronted with anything that its Members dislike, no matter how trivial, is to write a new criminal offense. The latest example is particularly egregious: A new bill introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) would criminalize the sale of inaugural tickets, which are handed out for free by congressional offices. The measure, according to reports, may win passage under expedited procedures, without any debate or deliberation. Congress can certainly ban ticket sales if it wishes, but in achieving such a narrow objective, it should avoid making our already unruly criminal law even worse.
Budget & TaxationBy Nigel Hawkins, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/21/2008
Britain’s experience with two major industries—shipbuilding and automobiles—shows why governments should hesitate to provide heavy subsidies in an effort to “save” firms with serious management and commercial problems. It also shows that the best way to turn around areas dependent on a crumbling industry can be to limit subsidies and encourage new industries. In the U.K., financial problems of major employers dominated the 1960s and the 1970s as many old industries, including the automobile industry, faced profound problems. Finally, the then-Conservative government provided £35 million (in 1972 money) in order to finance Govan Shipbuilders, the part-successor to Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. However, the U.K. commercial shipbuilding industry remained very uncompetitive. Margaret Thatcher, elected in 1979, decided enough was enough. Consequently, commercial shipbuilding was allowed to “wither on the vine,” and Glasgow embarked on a remarkable commercial turnaround.
National SecurityBy Tony Blankley, Helle C. Dale, Oliver Horn, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 11/21/2008
Seven years into the war on terrorism, it has become apparent that final victory must be won not only on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in the hearts and minds of people. The institutions that are tasked with strategic communications (informing and influencing foreign publics) operate with too few resources and virtually no effective interagency coordination. Consequently, their messages are often ineffective, incoherent, and sometimes contradictory. While there is no easy fix, the President and Congress need to reform the strategy, doctrine, and structure of strategic communications to engage in the war of ideas seriously and effectively. This requires establishment of a new institutional framework focused on a new agency—a U.S. Agency for Strategic Communications—as well as substantial reforms of the Department of State and greater utilization of the Pentagon’s combatant commands.