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Recent Policy Studies
Economic GrowthBy Karol Boudreaux, Daniel Sacks, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 09/11/2009
Agricultural development is a major focus of the current administration’s efforts in Africa. Though improvements to technology and training are important components of any push to increase food supplies and agricultural productivity, land tenure reform is a necessary factor in any long-term agricultural development plan. Ignoring this issue will limit the effectiveness of current efforts to strengthen African agricultural production, while improvements to land tenure security will help increase agricultural productivity by providing farmers—men and women—with incentives to invest in land and capital by strengthening land markets and increasing the efficient use of land.
Health CareBy Gregory Conko, Philip Klein, Competitive Enterprise InstituteIssue Analysis, 09/11/2009
Government tax policies, third-party purchase of insurance, a deep-rooted entitlement mentality, and the forced injection of technology into the government-dominated medical system help drive spiraling costs and uninsurability, and threaten further damage. Obviously, cases of fraud and abuse (as politicians often emphasize) exist as in any human endeavor. But, as a rule insurance companies, doctors, and employers are not to blame for the fact that some individuals are uninsurable, and punitively scapegoating those groups would only decrease the supply of insurance for everyone and expand the pool of uninsurable individuals. It is unfortunate that America’s employers, doctors, insurers, and medical products manufacturers, by creating an abundance of medical wealth, have something for politicians to exploit and therefore have become political targets. When political opportunists are openly hostile to the nation’s greatest benefactors, we have a serious problem that makes reform far more difficult.
Economic GrowthBy Michael LaFaive, James Hohman, Mackinac Center for Public PolicyReport, 09/11/2009
The state’s poor image among CEOs and its brutal economic decline have occurred despite the efforts of the MEDC’s economic development staff and growing list of programs. Clearly, the MEDC has failed in its mission to “create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life” for Michiganders, a conclusion reinforced by our findings on the performance of MEGA, the Michigan Broadband Development Authority and Michigan Film Incentive program. The earlier “Literature Review and Analysis” and our own research findings indicate that the MEDC’s problems are unlikely to go away. Moreover, the rationale for government economic development programs appears flawed.
Information TechnologyBy Donna Coleman Gregg, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 09/10/2009
Nearly two decades have passed since Congress handed the Commission the unenviable task of “promulgating rules and regulations establishing reasonable limits on the number of subscribers a cable operator may serve.” Based on current conditions in the cable television industry and the broader video programming distribution marketplace, it appears that Congress’s objectives largely have been achieved. The past two decades of sustained subscriber growth and the expanding amount and diversity of programming and other services now available to cable subscribers5 certainly indicate that the once-maligned cable industry has served consumers well.
EducationBy John LaPlante, Kansas Policy InstitutePolicy Papers, 09/10/2009
In the 2007-08 school year, Kansas government-run public schools had a full-time equivalent enrollment that was just 2.2 percent higher than in 1993. But spending has increased substantially, whether measured by growth in total spending (108 percent) or per-pupil spending (104 percent). For the 2007-08 school year, Kansas government-run public schools spent $5.4 billion or over $12,000 per pupil. There are four key measurements of student performance: mathematics in fourth and eighth grade, and reading in fourth and eighth grade. Of those four key performance measurements, Kansas schools do best on fourth-grade mathematics. But, nearly half of all Kansas students do not meet the standard of proficiency set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
EducationBy Matthew Ladner, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Brief, 09/10/2009
Arizona’s tax code makes it difficult for parents who want to send their children to private schools by making them pay for education twice: both with their taxes and private school tuition. That’s a mistake. The findings detailed in this report show that aside from being less expensive and more effective, students themselves are more satisfied in a private school environment than their public school counterparts.
EducationBy Matthew Ladner, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Brief, 09/10/2009
Social scientists have long studied political tolerance and volunteerism. In this study, we present the results of a survey of 1,350 Arizona high school students attending district schools. The surveyor also interviewed a group of students attending private schools with the aid of a tax credit scholarship. This is the first direct comparison between public school and tax credit students in Arizona. The survey finds an alarming lack of political tolerance in Arizona high school students, as measured by standard items. Tax credit students show substantially higher levels of both political tolerance and volunteerism.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Kay S. Hymowitz, Manhattan InstituteArticle, 09/10/2009
Welfare reform’s methods for encouraging moms to work don’t apply to dads, since, for the most part, they aren’t dependent on government benefits in the first place. The puzzle facing policy experts, then, is how to entice detached fathers into the workforce, where they can begin to build stable lives for themselves and also help support the children they have sired. NYU political scientist Larry Mead has an idea about that. Mead has observed that many detached low-income fathers actually are “attached”—to the government, at least—through two channels: the parole system and child-support enforcement agencies. Yet these groups do little to encourage legitimate employment and sometimes actively discourage it.
Health CareBy Michael Tanner, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 09/10/2009
If one reads through the different bills and proposals, it becomes clear that under all the current versions of health reform, Americans will end up paying more and getting less. In fact, Americans will pay more than $820 billion in higher taxes over the next 10 years and could see their insurance premiums rise as much as 95 percent. Health care reform will increase the budget deficit by at least $239 billion over the next 10 years and far more in the years beyond that. If the new health care entitlement were subject to the same 75-year actuarial standards as Social Security or Medicare, its unfunded liabilities would exceed $9.2 trillion.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Randal O’Toole, Cato InstituteBriefing Paper, 09/10/2009
High-speed rail is a technology whose time has come—and gone. What might have been useful a century ago is today merely an anachronism that would cost taxpayers tens or hundreds of billions of dollars yet contribute little to American mobility or environmental quality. The most ardent supporters of high-speed rail predict that the Federal Railroad Administration plan would carry the average American less than 60 miles per year, and in most places outside of California the average would be even less. By comparison, the average American travels by automobile more than 15,000 miles per year.
International Trade/FinanceBy Sallie James, Cato InstituteTrade Policy Analysis, 09/10/2009
The upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change has led to calls for the United States to adopt a climate change abatement program in advance. In an effort to minimize adverse effects on certain domestic industries from higher energy costs, however, proponents of a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions have loaded up their proposal with giveaways, loopholes, and barriers to imports from nations with less stringent emission caps. These trade measures are likely to be ineffective at best and harmful to U.S. interests at worst.
Health CareBy Tim Worstall, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/10/2009
Technology reduces the costs of providing services by reducing the amount of labor that must go into that provision, a welcome change at a time of rising labor costs. What we really want to do is to routinize and mechanize as much of the medical process as we can, and the one spur, the workable incentive, that we know encourages this is that combination of greed, profits, the division of labor and specialization, and the urge to find cheaper ways of doing things which comes from that odd but unique interaction of capitalism and markets.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Arnold Kling, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/10/2009
The biggest myth is that regulation is a one-dimensional problem, in which the choice is either “more” or “less.” From this myth, the only reasonable inference following the financial crisis is that we need to move the dial from “less” to “more.” The reality is that financial regulation is a complex problem. Indeed, many regulatory policies were major contributors to the crisis. To proceed ahead without examining or questioning past policies, particularly in the areas of housing and bank capital regulation, would preclude learning the lessons of history.
Budget & TaxationBy John Steele Gordon, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/10/2009
Only necessity will force Congress to control long-term spending on its own. And unless the body politic forces the needed changes, that necessity in the form of overwhelming debt is inescapable.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Jean Geran, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/10/2009
At the 2005 UN World Summit, world leaders first articulated the “responsibility to protect” as official UN doctrine. The power to intervene has always existed within the Security Council’s mandate, but this new language stipulated the conditions to prompt such intervention. The situation in Burma more than meets those conditions. With increasing public support, including across Asia, and with a coordinated diplomatic effort led by the United States to bring around China and Russia, a global arms embargo against the junta is possible. And for the people of Burma, it is essential.
Health CareBy Robert Fogel, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/10/2009
The long-term income elasticity of the demand for health care is 1.6—for every 1 percent increase in a family’s income, the family wants to increase its expenditures on health care by 1.6 percent. This is not a new trend. Between 1875 and 1995, the share of family income spent on food, clothing, and shelter declined from 87 percent to just 30 percent, despite the fact that we eat more food, own more clothes, and have better and larger homes today than we had in 1875. All of this has been made possible by the growth in the productivity of traditional commodities. In the last quarter of the 19th century, it took 1,700 hours of labor to purchase the annual food supply for a family. Today it requires just 260 hours, and it is likely that by 2040, a family’s food supply will be purchased with about 160 hours of labor. Consequently, there is no need to suppress the demand for health care. Expenditures on health care are driven by demand, which is spurred by income and by advances in biotechnology that make health interventions increasingly effective.
Health CareBy Henry Grabowski, American Enterprise InstituteHealth Policy Outlook, 09/10/2009
Innovators of biologics need to have a period of market exclusivity long enough to allow them to earn an appropriate return on investment. Failure to safeguard a place in the market for these originators may reduce the number of new therapies created and could serve as a disincentive for innovators to expend resources improving existing biologics. As Congress considers legislation that would allow imitative biological products, known as “biosimilars,” to rely on the safety and efficacy data of original innovators, it must ensure that any provisions passed will foster, not stifle, discovery.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy David B. Muhlhausen, The Heritage FoundationCenter for Data Analysis Report, 09/10/2009
From FY 2001 to FY 2009, Congress appropriated $5.7 billion in funding for fire grants. Using panel data from 1999 to 2006 for more than 10,000 fire departments, this evaluation uses fixed-effects regressions to estimate the impact of fire grants on four different measures of fire casualties: firefighter deaths, firefighter injuries, civilian deaths, and civilian injuries.
Maintaining Full-Spectrum Capabilities in an Operating Environment of Hybrid Threats: The Army’s Future RequirementsBy Mackenzie M. Eaglen, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 09/10/2009
Experience shows that blended warfare will happen more often than expected in one conflict and that hybrid conflict will demand creative approaches to operational problems, including the need for ad hoc, modular composite units. As Army leaders create an updated modernization plan, they will be wise not to think of modernization in a vacuum, but to plan for a future force of legacy and modern platforms.
EducationBy David Muhlhausen, Don Soifer, Dan Lips, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 09/10/2009
This WebMemo is a summary of a CDA Report by The Heritage Foundation and Lexington Institute that presents an analysis of 911 calls originating from schools in D.C. for the 2007-2008 school year, the most recent full school year for which data were available.
National SecurityBy Mark Begich, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 09/10/2009
Alaska is sixth among all states and territories in volume of personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a very important component in America’s missile defense system, which overall is 90 percent accurate because of robust testing and better technology. In addition, energy independence is critical if we are to have more flexibility both in our national defense and in dealing with international affairs.
Health CareBy James Jay Carafano, Richard Weitz, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 09/10/2009
With H1N1 vaccines not becoming generally available until after the U.S. flu season begins, the single greatest contribution that the public can make is to limit opportunities for infection by practicing basic hygiene, beginning with washing hands frequently. National capabilities should prove sufficient to deal with the swine flu during the approaching flu season.
National SecurityBy Jena Baker McNeill, James Jay Carafano, Matt A. Mayer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 09/10/2009
This Friday makes the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Congress should honor the memory of that tragedy by solidifying its homeland security agenda by enacting several critical pieces of legislation—and avoiding others.
EducationBy William Howell, Martin West, Paul Peterson, Education NextEducation Next, 09/10/2009
Our findings suggest that a well-publicized stance taken by a popular president on an education issue might shift the opinions of large segments of the American public. Similarly, scholarship appears to be a potent weapon for groups with policy agendas they wish to pursue, as the committed can broadcast research findings with great repetition. Indeed, any group that seeks to change public opinion without gathering research to back its positions is leaving a flank unprotected. Finally, advocates are well advised to search for facts the public does not understand, and then to communicate those facts as widely as they can. Just as nothing affects opinion about an ongoing war as quickly as communiqués from the front, so too a better understanding of the facts about the public schools could in the long run shape American education.
EducationBy Chester E. Finn Jr., Education NextEducation Next, 09/10/2009
Sustaining whatever pre-K gains can be produced, especially for poor kids, is therefore principally a challenge for K—12 policy and practice. But that does not mean entrusting pre-K education to public-school systems. Today, those systems cannot even sustain their own gains, which is why American 4th graders tend to have stronger results than 8th graders, and high school students do less well than middle schoolers. Adding more years to the present public-education mandate would simply give ineffectual school systems additional time to fumble around while entangling pre-K education more tightly in the web of school politics, federalism disputes, bureaucratic rigidities, and adult interest groups.
EducationBy Mark Schneider, Education NextEducation Next, 09/10/2009
While the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) program has its partisans and states have chosen to participate in past years, momentum is behind the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). If more states do choose to participate in PISA, what should they expect? First, they would get a PISA score that would allow them to compare themselves to other PISA participants. In some cases, this would provide bragging rights (“Our students are better than those in Turkey”). In most states, disappointing results would provide reform-minded governors with ammunition to push for their own legislative agenda. But if states choose a full state assessment, along with the PISA scale score would come all of the OECD’s policy advice and its approach to standards, which might make it harder for reform-minded governors to choose the options they prefer. Caveat emptor.
EducationBy Patrick J. Wolf, Education NextEducation Next, 09/10/2009
On average, participating low-income students are performing better in reading because the federal government decided to launch an experimental school choice program in our nation’s capital. The achievement results from the D.C. voucher evaluation are also striking when compared to the results from other experimental evaluations of education policies. The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) at the IES has sponsored and overseen 11 studies that are RCTs, including the OSP evaluation. Only 3 of the 11 education interventions tested, when subjected to such a rigorous evaluation, have demonstrated statistically significant achievement impacts overall in either reading or math. The reading impact of the D.C. voucher program is the largest achievement impact yet reported in an RCT evaluation overseen by the NCEE.
EducationBy Richard Arum, Doreet Preiss, Education NextEducation Next, 09/10/2009
The expansion of student legal entitlements has been accompanied by the increasing formalization and institutionalization of school discipline. As educators’ discretionary authority over school discipline has been challenged and undermined, counterproductive authoritarian measures such as zero-tolerance policies have been implemented in its place. But to be educationally effective, school discipline requires that educators have moral authority and students perceive their actions as legitimate and fair. Ironically, the expansion of student legal rights, rather than enhancing youth outcomes, has increased the extent to which schools have relied on authoritarian measures, decreased the moral authority of educators, and diminished the capacity of schools to socialize young people effectively.
EducationBy Tom Neumark, Maryland Public Policy InstituteMaryland Policy Report, 09/09/2009
Maryland’s unions should give teachers the freedom to be entrepreneurs. If, in the end, teachers return to unions because they offer teachers more satisfying pay and working conditions, the union’s case will be made. But, if Maryland’s union continues to prevent teacher freedom by using their legislative influence to enact laws that protect them from competition, they will have avoided the chance to demonstrate their relevance to teachers. If the union is important to teachers as unions claim, setting teachers free is the best way to prove it.
LaborBy David G. Tuerck, Sarah Glassman, Paul Bachman, Beacon Hill InstituteBHI Policy Study, 09/09/2009
The Beacon Hill Institute undertook a multi-pronged effort to determine whether the claims put forth in Obama’s Executive Order regarding the benefits of Project Labor Agreements on large-scale federal construction projects were justified by the facts. We found that the claims were at odds with the facts.
Budget & TaxationBy Mark Robyn, Tax FoundationBooklet, 09/09/2009
How do taxes in your state compare nationally? This convenient pocket-size booklet compares the 50 states on 37 different measures of taxing and spending, including individual and corporate income tax rates, business tax climates, excise taxes, tax burdens and state spending. The 2009 version of this booklet was originally published in February; this is a mid-year update reflecting recent rate changes in some states.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy David C. John, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 09/09/2009
The Treasury Department has proposed consolidating the existing consumer protection divisions of the various federal financial regulatory agencies into a new and powerful Consumer Financial Protection Agency. A far better approach would be to coordinate the consumer activities of existing state and federal financial agencies creating a coordinating council designed to promote equal standards of consumer protection using agencies’ existing powers.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 09/09/2009
The unprecedented pace, scope, and ambition of U.N. peacekeeping operations have led to numerous serious flaws, limitations, and weaknesses that need to be addressed. Peacekeeping assessments should be revised to spread the financial burden more equitably among U.N. member states. Without fundamental reform, these problems will likely continue and expand, undermining the U.N.’s credibility and ability to maintain international peace and security.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 09/09/2009
President Obama is expected to launch a new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan that puts a premium on protecting the Afghan people from Taliban terrorism and intimidation. While this new strategy is promising, it will not be easily or quickly implemented.
Health CareBy D. Mark Wilson, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 09/09/2009
Policymakers need to know that the costs and benefits of an employer mandate will not be equally borne by firms and employees.
Health CareBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 09/09/2009
Unions strongly support health care reform and have made supporting a “public plan” that would lead to a government-run single-payer system their top priority.
Economic GrowthBy Rea S. Hederman Jr., James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 09/09/2009
The predictions that were used to promote the stimulus bill have proven false as the August jobs report shows unemployment continues to climb.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Nile Gardiner, Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 09/09/2009
Abandoning the third site missile defense installation would sacrifice U.S. interests, as well as those of its allies in Europe, on the altar of political vanity. Such a move would also grant Russia a strategic victory and embolden Iran.
Budget & TaxationBy Palmer Schoening, Patrick Fagan, Family Research CouncilInsight, 09/09/2009
The death tax, which negatively affects family businesses, will soon be modified. In a rare opportunity, Congress can increase its revenues, increase employment and stimulate the economy if it chooses to repeal the death tax. If the death tax returns to its 2001 (high) levels, Congress will collect less revenue while the country will have fewer companies and fewer jobs. All sectors of the economy, and especially the individual states, have much at stake.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, Rowman & LittlefieldBook, 09/09/2009
Although rooted in noble aims, the United Nations has a long history of failing to solve the world’s most critical problems—such as war, terrorism, genocide, poverty and pandemics. Despite this poor track record, the United Nations has managed to increase its budgets and expand its mandate and activities into new areas in which it has little expertise. Billions of hard-earned American tax dollars are invested in the United Nations each year, but U.S. efforts to improve the effectiveness of the organization seemingly have little effect. This book discusses the many weaknesses and failings of the current U.N. system and offers practical solutions for reform.
Economic GrowthBy International Policy Network, International Policy NetworkReport, 09/08/2009
The ideological rights-based approach that Britain’s Department for International Development takes to development assistance does not appear to have resulted in an improvement of the condition of the poor. Furthermore, substantial amounts of funding predicated on the rights-based approach appear to have been spent on projects that have little if any connection even to the promotion of the “rights” of people in poor countries, but have instead been spent on domestic propaganda and lobbying. It is time to stop this fake aid.