- Budget & Taxation
- Crime, Justice & the Law
- The Constitution
- Economic & Political Thought
- Economic Growth
- Elections, Transparency, & Accountability
- Family, Culture & Community
- Foreign Policy/ International Affairs
- Health Care
- Information Technology
- International Trade & Finance
- Monetary Policy/ Financial Regulation
- National Security
- Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
- Regulation & Deregulation
- Retirement/ Social Security
- Transportation & Infrastructure
- Acton Institute
- Adam Smith Institute
- Alabama Policy Institute
- Allegheny Institute
- Alliance for School Choice
- Alliance for Worker Freedom
- America’s Future Foundation
- American Council on Science and Health
- American Enterprise Institute
- American Institute for Full Employment
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Americans for Tax Reform
- Arkansas Policy Foundation
- Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation
- Atlas Society
- Beacon Center of Tennessee
- Beacon Hill Institute
- Becket Fund
- Bluegrass Institute
- Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
- Business & Media Institute
- Calvert Institute
- Cascade Policy Institute
- Cato Institute
- Center for Consumer Freedom
- Center for College Affordability and Productivity
- Center for Equal Opportunity
- Center for Health Transformation
- Center for Immigration Studies
- Center for International Private Enterprise
- Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Center of the American Experiment
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
- Citizens Against Government Waste
- Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy
- Club For Growth
- Commonwealth Foundation
- Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Council for Affordable Health Insurance
- Empire Center for New York State Policy
- Ethan Allen Institute
- Evergreen Freedom Foundation
- Federalist Society
- Foreign Policy Research Institute
- Fraser Institute
- Foundation for Defense of Democracies
- Foundation for Educational Choice
- Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability
- Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment
- Free Congress Foundation
- Free State Foundation
- Galen Institute
- Georgia Public Policy Foundation
- Goldwater Institute
- Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
- Great Plains Public Policy Institute
- Heartland Institute
- The Heritage Foundation
- Heritage Libertad
- Hoover Institution
- Hudson Institute
- Illinois Policy Institute
- IMANI Center for Policy & Education
- Independence Institute
- Independent Institute
- Institute for Health Freedom
- Institute for Energy Research
- Institute for Humane Studies
- Institute for Justice
- Institute for Market Economics
- Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
- Institute for Policy Innovation
- Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
- Institute of Economic Affairs
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute
- International Policy Network
- International Republican Institute
- James Madison Institute
- John Jay Institute for Faith, Society & Law
- John Locke Foundation
- Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy
- Kansas Policy Institute
- Landmark Legal Foundation
- Leadership Institute
- Lexington Institute
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- Maine Heritage Policy Center
- Manhattan Institute
- Maryland Public Policy Institute
- Mercatus Center
- Mississippi Center for Public Policy
- National Center for Policy Analysis
- National Center for Public Policy Research
- National Taxpayers Union
- Nevada Policy Research Institute
- North Dakota Policy Council
- Ocean State Policy Research Institute
- Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
- Pacific Research Institute
- Palmetto Family Council
- PERC - The Property and Environment Research Center
- Philanthropy Roundtable
- Phoenix Center
- Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
- Progress & Freedom Foundation
- Property Rights Alliance
- Public Interest Institute
- Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia
- Reason Foundation
- Rio Grande Foundation
- Sam Adams Alliance
- Science and Public Policy Institute
- Show-Me Institute
- South Carolina Policy Council
- State Policy Network
- Sutherland Institute
- The Tax Foundation
- Texas Public Policy Foundation
- Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
- Thomas Jefferson Institute
- Virginia Institute for Public Policy
- Washington Legal Foundation
- Washington Policy Center
- Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
- Yankee Institute for Public Policy
- Young America’s Foundation
Recent Policy Studies
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise InstituteRetirement Policy Outlook, 12/03/2008
The recent financial crisis and ensuing stock market gyrations have drawn renewed attention to Social Security reform, in particular proposals to establish personal retirement accounts that invest in stocks and bonds. As Barack Obama asked a campaign audience, “Imagine if you had some of your Social Security money in the stock market right now. How would you be feeling about the prospects for your retirement?” But despite the recent market downturn, individuals investing four percentage points of the 12.4 percent payroll tax in a personal account holding a “life-cycle” portfolio and retiring today would have increased their total Social Security benefits by more than 15 percent. Moreover, a simulation of ninety-five cohorts of individuals retiring from 1915 through 2008 found that all of them would have increased their total Social Security benefits by holding personal accounts.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy David F. Forte, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/03/2008
Determined to avoid corruption and self-dealing in the legislative process, the Framers kept all appointive powers out of the hands of Congress. But corruption could come not only from self-dealing but also from the blandishments of the executive. Consequently, Robert Yates proposed to the Constitutional Convention a ban on Members of Congress from “any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the U. States . . . during the term of service, and under the national Government for the space of one year after its expiration.”
Economic GrowthBy Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar , Cato InstituteDevelopment Policy Analysis, 12/03/2008
In contrast to the rest of India, where it is the government that predominantly owns and manages ports, the Indian state of Gujarat has implemented various forms of port liberalization since the 1990s. This has helped it become the country’s fastest growing state. Gujarat’s economy has grown at an average of 10.14 percent per year from fiscal year 2001 to fiscal year 2006, the last five years for which data are available. This is comparable with China’s average growth rate since 1978, and is distinctly faster than the growth of the other Asian tigers in the 15 years before the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Gujarat’s port liberalization should serve as a model for the rest of India and other developing countries.
LaborBy Paul Kersey, Mackinac Center for Public PolicyReport, 12/03/2008
It would be easy, but wrong, to lay the entire blame for the current state of the Detroit Three at the feet of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America union (UAW). A number of factors contributed to the crisis: mediocre vehicle designs, a reputation for poorly-built cars, an excess of dealerships and needlessly strict environmental and fuel economy regulations all played a part. But it is hard not to be dismayed by the recent comments of UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, whose public stance over the last several days has been to rule out wage and benefit concessions at a time when Congressional committees are contemplating a bailout of the Detroit Three, a bailout that is supposedly necessary to avoid the annihilation of Chrysler, Ford and GM.
Budget & TaxationBy David L. Littmann, Mackinac Center for Public PolicyReport, 12/03/2008
Rather than petitioning Washington to be a tax agent for Detroit’s account, it behooves auto executives to make their strongest case for lower corporate income taxes, less onerous corporate average fuel economy and environmental regulations, and an all-out effort to bring U.S. oil, natural gas and nuclear power to the market. Promoting these economic policies would enhance the U.S. economy at large as well as Detroit’s prospects. Failure to advocate fundamental long-term reforms of labor, tax, environmental, Corporate Average Fuel Economy, and energy policies still leaves the default option of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Budget & TaxationBy Michael LaFaive, Patrick Fleenor, Todd Nesbit, Mackinac Center for Public PolicyReport, 12/03/2008
Tobacco taxes — and their unintended consequences — have spiraled upward in recent years. In many cases the urge to raise cigarette taxes seems to involve more than a cost-benefit analysis; it appears to be driven instead by a conviction that public policy should be used to eliminate smoking altogether. This is a moral conviction and deserves more than an accountant’s ledger in response. It does not take much imagination, especially after America’s experiment with alcohol prohibition, to see that this policy approach could generate an intrusive enforcement regime and a growing disrespect for the law. As a society, then, we should be careful about marking people down for harsher tax treatment because they engage in certain personal activities. When taxation moves beyond a modest revenue measure, it can become a relentless social crusade, with each unintended consequence generating new reasons for more revenue and more enforcement.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, Peter Brookes, James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 12/03/2008
President-elect Obama, during the campaign you said you were committed to protecting the United States and its allies against attacks that employ weapons of mass destruction. This commitment extends to fielding defenses against such attacks that are delivered by ballistic missile systems. Your pledge is in keeping with the Bush Administration’s policy, moving the U.S. away from the Cold War strategy of relying almost exclusively on large-scale retaliatory threats, including nuclear weapons, to deter attacks. The American people should welcome this continuity because, first and foremost, they want to be protected. On the other hand, your “Blueprint for Change” implies that ballistic missile defense programs are not a top priority and that missile defense technology is not proven. Neither is true.
Health CareBy Stuart M. Butler, Nina Owcharenko, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 12/03/2008
President-elect Obama, during the campaign you pledged to build a health care system in which Americans can be assured of access to affordable health insurance. You guaranteed Americans who already have insurance that nothing would change except that their coverage would be less expensive. You pointed to the health system that Members of Congress have as your model for expanding coverage. And you agreed that choice of doctor and care is a basic principle. These laudable themes struck a chord with Americans. Achieving this widely supported vision will be challenging in these difficult economic and budget times. It will be politically difficult. In order to succeed, then, the legislation upon which you and Congress agree must be consistent with the principles of health reform that Americans believe they heard in your speeches.
National SecurityBy James Phillips, Peter Brookes, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 12/03/2008
President-elect Obama, you are right that the United States cannot allow Iran to attain a nuclear weapon. Your statement during the second presidential debate indicates that you appreciate the unacceptable dangers posed by a nuclear-capable Iran. But you have made statements which indicate a lack of understanding about the past record of failed attempts to negotiate with Iran. Your Administration must learn from the experience of previous Administrations and European governments that have sought negotiations with Iran. The diplomatic path is not promising.
Budget & TaxationBy Alison Acosta Fraser, Curtis S. Dubay, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 12/03/2008
President-elect Obama, a centerpiece of your campaign was your pledge to cut taxes for 95 percent of American workers. Middle-class voters, especially, connected strongly with this pledge and expect their taxes to decline. Tax cuts are one key way to strengthen the economy for both the short term and long term, creating jobs and increasing wages. Targeting families, workers, and small businesses is a good starting point, but your promised tax cuts will deliver only minimal benefit to the groups you target. You must go farther if your tax plan is to promote a growing economy—something that is essential in our current situation.
Health CareBy Roger Stark, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 12/02/2008
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has proposed a universal, state controlled, high-deductible health insurance plan for all Washington residents who are not covered by another government program, such as Medicare and Medicaid. In spite of the Commissioner’s pronouncements, the “Guaranteed Health Benefits” plan is clearly a further extension of government into our health care system. First of all, the plan mandates participation by all employers and employees in the state. Funding is through an additional mandated payroll tax. There is no provision for businesses or workers who might wish to opt out of the program. From the point of view of individual citizens and employers this is unquestionably a top-down, government controlled system.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Richard A. Samp, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 12/02/2008
Activist groups in recent years have increasingly turned to international treaties as a means of effecting changes in U.S. laws that they cannot bring about through the normal American legislative processes. A significant number of existing treaties signed by U.S. negotiators would, if ever ratified by the U.S. Senate, usher in wholesale changes by incorporating large swathes of international law into our domestic law. One of the less-well publicized examples of this effort is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted in 2003 through the World Health Organization (WHO) and signed by 168 countries (including the United States). The WHO’s attempts at restricting advertising, sales, and corporate speech by tobacco producers represents a slippery slope for other “disfavored” product makers’ rights and consumer choice.
Regulation & DeregulationBy John D. Donovan, Robert A. Skinner, Benjamin S. Halasz, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 12/02/2008
One ingredient in the operations and management of mutual funds centers upon the compensation that funds pay to their investment advisers and managers. In Jones v. Harris Associates, the court deferred to the “market” to set and validate adviser compensation, effectively declaring that judges – and plaintiffs’ lawyers – have no business interfering in rate setting. The familiar principles of fiduciary duty and deference to markets provide a logical way to ensure that boards fulfill their function to protect shareholder interests. The Seventh Circuit’s approach should serve as a guide for courts dealing with these same issues around the country.
Budget & TaxationBy Leonard C. Gilroy, Reason Foundation12/02/2008
Rather than ask federal taxpayers to bail them out, cities and counties should embrace a variety of privatization strategies to help them do more with less. As one key example, in the business world financially-stressed firms often find it good practice to divest assets. Divisions or subsidiaries that are poorly run by a large conglomerate often receive a new lease on life under new, leaner management. The one-time windfall from the sale permits the seller to pay down debt or obtain capital for other needed investments—without having to engage in new borrowing. It should be no different within the context of local government assets. In recent years, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has brought this concept to local government, implementing a groundbreaking privatization strategy that relies on long-term leases of city assets, generating billions of dollars to boost the city’s fiscal health.
Budget & TaxationBy Leonard Gilroy, Reason FoundationReport, 12/02/2008
At least 41 states have recently faced, or are facing, budget deficits. How governments find themselves in this position is obvious: They’re addicted to spending taxpayer dollars. So what’s a state to do to climb out of the fiscal hole they’ve dug themselves into? It’s simple: Spend within your means and partner with the private sector more often to deliver more services. Texas is currently the envy of the nation with an $11 billion budget surplus. How did the state do it? For starters, the Texas Constitution gives the state Comptroller of Public Accounts (a chief fiscal officer, of sorts) the responsibility to certify the state’s budget and send back any spending bills that the state can’t afford.
Budget & Taxation
Permitting Class Refund Actions Is Key to Effective Challenges of Illegal Taxes: Ardon v. City of Los AngelesBy Joseph Henchman, Travis Greaves, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 12/02/2008
When an illegal tax is being collected, taxpayers generally must first pay it, demand a refund, exhaust administrative appeals, and only then may file a lawsuit. Estuardo Ardon, who argues that the Telephone User’s Tax imposed by the City of Los Angeles is unconstitutional for failing to be approved by two-thirds of voters as required by California’s Proposition 218, did so. (The question of the tax’s constitutionality has not yet been considered by the court in this case.) His lawsuit was filed “on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated.” Such a class action lawsuit is useful in that it combines all who paid this tax into one comprehensive legal case, and if Ardon prevails, it ensures that the city must refund illegally collected taxes to all who paid them.
EducationBy Robert Holland, Don Soifer, Lexington InstituteReport, 12/02/2008
When school boards spend thousands of tax dollars to send teachers to education conferences around the country, they have a reasonable expectation that the attendees will bring back knowledge and skills that will be put to constructive use in the classroom. That is not necessarily what the boards are receiving in return when they send teachers to conferences on multiculturalism and so-called social-justice teaching. At many of these gatherings, teachers are being urged to go back home and work for an anti-free-market, redistributionist social agenda rather than teach children the academic fundamentals.
EducationBy Roger Prosise, Lexington InstituteArticle, 12/02/2008
Many of the most important challenges in American public education can be framed by considering the deeply troubling statistics and trends regarding our high school graduates. For instance, 17 of the 50 largest cities in the United States have high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent. For English language learners, a large and fast-growing part of our student population, the urgency is even greater. The best predictor of student success in high school is student success in elementary and middle school. In Illinois’ Diamond Lake School District 76, we have experienced remarkable academic progress with our elementary school English language learners. There is little doubt that an important reason for the district’s success with English learners is related to our success in increasing parent involvement for this crucial population.
National SecurityBy Lexington Institute, Lexington InstituteReport, 12/02/2008
The paradox of the Internet is that in delivering power to the edges, it has also delivered power to the fringes. Predators of every persuasion now have access and options they never would have enjoyed in the past. Some are agents of foreign governments seeking to subvert democracy, or steal its secrets. Others are criminals, cult members, transnational terrorists or nihilistic vandals. All have discovered that the internet provides a potential pathway to their goals. And increasingly, it is information networks themselves – the nervous system of our civilization – that such actors seek to target. This report provides an overview of the threat to America’s information networks, especially the networks operated by the federal government.
Economic GrowthBy Edward L. Glaeser, Joseph Gyourko, American Enterprise InstituteBook, 12/02/2008
Despite the recent drop in house prices, housing remain unaffordable for many ordinary Americans. Particularly along the coasts, housing remains extremely expensive. Policymakers must recognize that conditions differ across housing markets, so housing policies need to reflect those differences. The poor and the middle class do not struggle with the same affordability issues, so housing policy needs to address each problem differently. The poor cannot afford housing simply because their incomes are low; the solution to that problem is direct income transfers to the poor, rather than interference with the housing market. In contrast, housing is unaffordable for the middle class because of local zoning restrictions on new home construction that limit the supply of suitable housing. The federal government can sensibly address this issue by providing incentives for local governments in these markets to allow more construction.
Economic GrowthBy Robert A. Sirico, Acton InstituteReport, 12/02/2008
In a very familiar parable, Jesus tells the story of two home builders. One built a house on sand, the other on rock. The house on the rock withstood the weather. The one built on sand did not fare so well: “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof” (Matthew 7:24-29). If the parable were retold today, it might include an episode in which treasury officials and members of Congress cobbled together a bailout program for the owner and lender of the house on the sand. No matter how much money they spent, however, the ending would be the same.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Anthony B. Bradley, Acton InstituteReport, 12/02/2008
Are America’s children overweight because of advertising? A new study suggests that banning fast-food ads would reduce the number of overweight children ages three to 11 by 18 percent and would reduce the number of overweight adolescents ages 12 to 18 by 14 percent. However, common sense – something often missing from research reports and very underrated in America today – reminds us that the single most important variable in child obesity is parenting.
Information TechnologyBy Thomas D. Sydnor, Progress & Freedom FoundationProgress on Point, 12/02/2008
Recently, the Court in Capitol Records, Inc. v. Thomas vacated a $222,000 verdict awarded by a jury of the peers of Defendant Jammie Thomas.1 The Court held that it committed a “manifest error of law” by instructing the jury that U.S. law provides the “making-available right” required by nine international agreements supposedly implemented by U.S. legislation. Cases like Thomas turn upon whether the Copyright Act provides a making-available right that can be infringed when someone shares a copyrighted file on KaZaA or posts it on a website. As the term is used here, a “making-available right” could encompass either a KaZaA user sharing audio files or a person behind a table stacked with books labeled, “Free Books: Take One.” Historically, copyright law called this a “publication” right.
Information TechnologyBy Barbara Esbin, Progress & Freedom FoundationProgress on Point, 12/02/2008
I have written about the Kafkaesque procedures the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cooked-up to prosecute Comcast Corporation for alleged violations of the agency’s theretofore unenforceable network neutrality principles. In a nutshell, the agency used a public inquiry proceeding to gather unverified facts used to “adjudicate” allegations contained in a non-conforming “formal complaint” alleging that Comcast had violated Internet principles acknowledged by the FCC to not constitute enforceable rules of behavior at the time of their adoption. Now, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, at the direction of Chairman Martin, seems to be conducting a far-ranging data gathering exercise on cable programming channel movement and pricing practices under the guise of individual complaint enforcement. What is disturbing is the process the FCC’s Chairman is using to pursue what might otherwise be a perfectly legitimate inquiry into a range of industry-wide practices in connection with the migration towards all-digital operations.
National SecurityBy James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/01/2008
While the rationale and responsibility for the Mumbai attacks are still under investigation, the incident raises questions about U.S. Domestic security. If and when the next attack occurs, the United States should not simply throw money at the problem, trade safety for civil liberties, or automatically blame America. No administration can guarantee it will stop every attack everywhere. But if our nation assumes the offensive, the U.S. can take the initiative away from the terrorists, lessen their chances of success, and mitigate the damage they cause. Washington should emphasize cooperation and information sharing between the levels of law enforcement, retain an integrated approach to homeland security, and maintain valuable terrorism-fighting tools established under legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008.
National SecurityBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/01/2008
Wednesday’s terrorist strikes in Mumbai are the latest in a string of attacks across India over the last year, most of which appear to have been perpetrated by local Islamists with external links. These most recent attacks should lead to greater counterterrorism cooperation between Washington and New Delhi, two nations whose interests in countering regional and global terrorism continue to converge. At the same time, these strikes could heighten tensions between India and Pakistan, especially if investigations reveal that the attackers received training, finances, or logistical support from Pakistan-based terror groups. Indeed, Indian authorities have already begun to accuse Pakistan-based groups of having links to Wednesday’s attacks.
Economic GrowthBy Kenneth P. Green, et al., American Enterprise InstituteOn the Issues, 12/01/2008
Democrats in Congress have asked the “Big Three” domestic automakers to provide a plan by early December that would return the auto industry to profitability. American Enterprise Institute (AEI) scholars have been examining the industry’s options. Martin Feldstein, a member of AEI’s Council of Academic Advisers, argues that the appropriate solution for the Big Three is to file for bankruptcy. Kevin A. Hassett says that bankruptcy is not a death sentence, but rather “intensive care.” Robert W. Hahn and Peter Passell share the sentiment that a bailout would be ill-advised. They suggest provocatively that we should stimulate auto buyers by offering “eye-popping” rebates for a limited time to help put the auto companies on the right road. Kenneth P. Green discusses the environmental movement’s unhelpful role in efforts to return profitability to the auto industry.
National SecurityBy Thomas Donnelly, American Enterprise InstituteTestimony, 12/01/2008
The approval by the Iraqi cabinet of a strategic framework and status-of-forces agreement, defining the role of U.S. military in Iraq when their current UN mandate expires at the end of the year, represents a tremendous success for the United States and for a free Iraq. Word out of Baghdad is that the Iraqi parliament will ratify the agreement by the end of the month. If so, U.S. forces in Iraq will avoid the plague of legal uncertainty and will be free to continue their effective operations without having to worry about a potentially debilitating debate in the United States or at the United Nations. These developments also free me to talk about the larger issues and interests at stake. To focus, as the media have done, on the timetable for withdrawal of American troops at the end of 2011, is to miss the forest for a single tree.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Harvey C. Mansfield, American Enterprise InstituteLecture, 12/01/2008
What is rational control? In the brand new building where I work at Harvard, the lights go on and off, the shades go up and down, and the toilets flush automatically. Rational control has replaced individual virtue, which is subject to vagaries and may not be active or awake. As instruments of rational control, the seatbelts in your car are inferior to airbags because the former you have to buckle on your own and the latter save you without your having to lift a finger. These examples are small matters of convenience, but they add up. As intrusions into your privacy, your own control over your life, and your virtue, they also add up. In their very minuteness, they reveal the comprehensiveness of rational control. Rational control was Alexis de Tocqueville’s enemy. He said sarcastically that it takes away “the trouble of thinking and the pain of living.”
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Theodore Dalrymple, Ivan R. DeeBook, 12/01/2008
In this essay collection, British writer Dalrymple lays out a case for the decline of Western civilization, finding its symptoms lurking in everything from multiculturalism to the delusions of honesty by political leaders. In Not with a Bang But a Whimper, he takes the measure of our cultural decline, with special attention to Britain-its bureaucratic muddle, oppressive welfare mentality, and aimless youth-all pursued in the name of democracy and freedom. He shows how terrorism and the growing numbers of Muslim minorities have changed our public life. Also here are Mr. Dalrymple’s trenchant observations on artists and ideologues, and on the questionable treatment of criminals and the mentally disturbed, his area of medical interest.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy William Damon, Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 12/01/2008
The life prospects of a young person in today’s world are far from certain. The global economy has increased the opportunities, and pressures, for young people to move far from the communities they grew up in. Even many of the best educated will spend years in casual jobs without settling into a permanent line of work. In the face of the serious choices ahead of them as they move toward adulthood, many youth feel as though they are stalled in their personal and social development. Many of today’s young people hesitate to make commitments to any of the roles that define adult life: parent, worker, spouse, citizen. What is too often missing is the kind of wholehearted dedication to an activity or interest that stems from a serious purpose—a purpose that can give meaning and direction to life.
Economic GrowthBy Hoover Institution, Hoover InstitutionFacts on Policy, 12/01/2008
Oil and gasoline prices are down 60 percent from their peak. In general, October 2008 was a month of large fluctuations throughout in the economy. That month, production by the manufacturing sector fell to its lowest level in 26 years. The Dow fell to 8,175.77, a 42 percent drop from its peak. Bucking other trends in the U.S. economy, the U.S. dollar has been gaining relative to the euro. In November 2008, the euro traded for $1.29. Compared to the Japanese yen, however, the dollar hasn’t fared as well. In November 2007, the yen/dollar exchange rate was 115 yen/dollar. Since then it has declined to 99 yen/dollar, a 12 percent loss. Compared to last year, personal savings increased substantially in the second and third quarters of 2008.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Richard L. Gordon, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 12/01/2008
Many politicians and pundits are panicked over the existing state of the oil and gasoline markets. Disregarding past experience, these parties advocate massive intervention in those markets, which would only serve to repeat and extend previous errors. Fear of oil imports is premised on pernicious myths that have long distorted energy policy. The U.S. defense posture probably would not be altered by reducing the extent to which oil is imported from troublesome regions. Fears about a near-term peak in global oil production are unwarranted, and government cannot help markets to respond properly even if the alarm proved correct. Market actors will produce the capital necessary for needed investments; no “Marshall Plans” are necessary. Price signals will efficiently order consumer behavior; energy-consumption mandates are therefore both unwise and unnecessary. Finally, more caution is needed regarding the case for public action to address global warming.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Marie Gryphon, Manhattan InstituteCivil Justice Report, 12/01/2008
In addition to being overly expensive, American litigation is all too often inefficient and unfair. The fees and expenses incurred by lawyers on both sides of a lawsuit are almost as costly as transfer payments to plaintiffs claiming injury. Mass tort litigation, for example, over asbestos, has been exposed as rife with fraud. Small businesses are regularly besieged with nuisance suits that they must settle if they hope to avoid crippling legal costs. The “loser pays” rule refers to the policy of reimbursement by the parties who lose in litigation of the winners’ legal expenses, including attorneys’ fees. This study argues that loser pays could be an important part of a larger effort to reduce litigation costs, better compensate prevailing litigants, and better align tort law with its goal of deterring socially harmful conduct.
Information TechnologyBy The Free State Foundation, Free State FoundationTranscript, 12/01/2008
Our existing economic environment may actually call for even more regulatory humility than usual, as we await market readjustments, stabilization, and hopefully, the return to long term economic growth that we have witnessed for decades, especially in the telecommunications and information sectors. The current system that has developed over the decades is based upon trying to effectuate extremely laudable social goals like affordable and ubiquitous telephone services for all of our citizens, no matter what their income and no matter where they live. Since the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Federal Communications Commission has recognized the importance of re-evaluating the existing intercarrier compensation regime. In light of increasing competition, new IP technologies, and the significant advantages of an overall evaluation of mechanisms applicable to different types of traffic to ensure a more efficient symmetrical regime, the Commission needs to address the core Internet service provider remand.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/01/2008
In July 2008, when Chávez visited Russia to meet with President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, he spoke glowingly of a “strategic alliance” to “free him from Yankee imperialism.” Chávez has since made strides toward such an alliance and these meetings with President Medvedev will help seal the deal. The centerpiece of this nascent Russian-Venezuelan relationship are several arms contracts estimated to exceed $4.5 billion. Furthermore, Nicaragua is set for a bruising, polarizing fight between President Ortega’s loyalists—the manipulated masses whose desperation makes them vulnerable to populist propaganda—and opponents of Sandinista misrule. Latin America is looming larger on Washington’s radar scope. An inability to defend real democracy and aid embattled opponents of authoritarian populism in the Americas will invite global rivals to sink their roots even deeper into the Americas.