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Recent Policy Studies
Health CareBy Scott Gottlieb, American Enterprise InstituteHealth Policy Outlook, 10/22/2010
Molecular diagnostics are undergoing increasing scrutiny by regulators as they grow in complexity and clinical importance. The Food and Drug Administration has long left its sister agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to oversee labs that run the tests. Now the FDA is widely expected to exert new regulatory control over most of these tests. Legislation pending in the Senate, and likely to be incorporated into the reauthorization of the Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act next year, would do the same. If the FDA imposes regulations that are needlessly broad or burdensome, the result could be higher costs, fewer new tests, and additional obstacles to developing safer and more personalized drug-delivery systems.
Budget & TaxationBy Stephen J. Entin, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 10/22/2010
Investment spending has been sluggish in spite of record low interest rates and enormous levels of excess reserves in the banking system. Banks have been criticized for not lending enough, but the real problem is that not enough businesses want to borrow. Businesses are hesitant because the expected after-tax returns on added capital are too low to make adding to the capital stock worthwhile. Instead of easier money, we need higher after-tax returns to capital to create investment and growth. Thus, lower taxes on investments allow more capital to be created and employed.
Expanding Head Start: Is the Obama Administration Serious about Using Empirical Evidence to Inform Policymaking?By David Muhlhausen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/22/2010
In the recent edition of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter R. Orszag argues that empirical evidence is the foundation of policymaking in the Obama Administration. In no way does the 2010 Head Start Impact Study demonstrate “very strong suggestive evidence” that Head Start “pay[s] off over the medium and long term.” Placing more children into an already failed program does not represent placing “significant emphasis on making policy conclusions based on what the evidence suggests.”
National SecurityBy Theodore Bromund, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/22/2010
On October 19, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the results of Britain’s Strategic Defense and Security Review. This review, the first since 1998, has resulted in substantial reductions in Britain’s defense spending that will have dangerous long-term consequences. The outcome of the review must be seen in the context of Britain’s financial crisis, for which the previous Labour government bears complete responsibility. While the coalition government unwisely decided against protecting defense spending from all cuts, Defense Secretary Liam Fox did ensure that the reductions were lower than those borne by most other departments.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Edward Pinto, American Enterprise InstitutePapers and Studies, 10/22/2010
The major cause of the financial crisis in the U.S. was the collapse of housing and mortgage markets resulting from an accumulation of an unprecedented number of weak and risky Non-Traditional Mortgages. These NTMs began to default en mass beginning in 2006, triggering the collapse of the worldwide market for mortgage backed securities and in turn triggering the instability and insolvency of financial institutions that we call the financial crisis. Government policies forced a systematic industry-wide loosening of underwriting standards in an effort to promote affordable housing.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Helle Dale, Ariel Cohen, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 10/21/2010
The nations of “New Europe” have been staunch allies of the United States in the aftermath of 9/11, and have sacrificed resources and soldiers’ lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again and again, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have shown their steadfastness and commitment to the United States. Yet America has not always returned the favor.
Health CareBy Victoria Craig Bunce, JP Wieske, Council for Affordable Health InsurancePolicy Study, 10/21/2010
A health insurance “mandate” is a requirement that an insurance company or health plan cover common—but sometimes not so common—health care providers, benefits and patient populations. Because mandates can drive up the cost of health insurance, it would be easy to assume that the states with the most mandates would also have the highest premiums. While that may be true in some states, it is not necessarily so. Some mandates will typically have a bigger cost impact than others.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Wilfred M. McClay, National AffairsNational Affairs, 10/21/2010
That general aversion to war talk surely reflects the outlook of Obama’s generation of liberal intellectuals, whose anti-military worldview is a standard product of the elite-academic demimonde. But this aversion has not diminished their willingness to speak of other causes as analogous to war, in the sense that these enterprises are worthy of great sacrifice yet also free of the moral taint of actually fighting and killing for one’s country.
EducationBy Christian D’Andrea, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceResearch Papers, 10/21/2010
In just these three aspects of public funding, dropouts cost the state of Tennessee hundreds of millions of dollars each year. This money could have been spent on state debt reduction, capital projects, more comprehensive educational programs, and even lower taxes for residents. These funds would have a major impact on the quality of life for Tennesseans, and in turn spur growth well into the future.
EducationBy David A. Stuit, Jeffrey A. Springer, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceResearch Papers, 10/21/2010
The high school dropout rate in California is alarming. In 2007-08, the California Department of Education estimated that 98,420 public high school students dropped out of school. These data suggest that about 19 percent of California high school students in any ninth-grade class will drop out over a four-year period.The dropout rate is particularly acute among the state’s largest minority student populations. An estimated 33 percent of African Americans and 24 percent of Hispanics will drop out over a four-year period. The economic and social consequences of the dropout crisis are profound, particularly in those minority communities whose children drop out of high school at disproportionately higher rates.
EducationBy David A. Stuit, Jeffrey A. Springer, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceResearch Papers, 10/21/2010
The consequences of dropping out of high school to an individual’s economic and social well-being are profound. Social scientists have repeatedly demonstrated that dropouts earn less income, suffer more joblessness, and tend more to criminality, poor health, and public dependency than high school graduates. Our nation’s minorities continue to bear these costs at a disproportionate rate. As economic globalization continues to shrink the supply of unskilled jobs available to dropouts, we can expect these trends to grow more severe.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Leo K. Simon, Susan Stratton Sayre, Rachael E. Goodhue, Independent InstituteWorking Paper, 10/21/2010
Water distribution and use decisions must be made within a complex system with economic, political, engineering, legal, and ecological dimensions. Any policy choice will impact all of these dimensions. Two critical tasks in the resolution of such debates are to characterize these multi-dimensional impacts for each potential solution and to identify instruments capable of implementing particular choices. Because of the system’s complexity, however, it is virtually inevitable that stakeholders’ interests will conflict under any chosen policy path.
Budget & TaxationBy Jason Thomas, National AffairsNational Affairs, 10/21/2010
In Washington, on Wall Street, and in foreign capitals, all eyes are on mounting government debt, particularly America’s. The scope of American borrowing, and the ease of the government’s access to credit, offer useful signals about the strength of our economy and about the future direction of global public finances—especially during this time of economic uncertainty. The Treasury market’s status as a safe haven is not an immutable feature of economic life: It is a function of institutional credibility that took generations to build, but that would take just a fraction of that time to destroy.
EducationBy Frederick M. Hess, National AffairsNational Affairs, 10/21/2010
These would seem to be dark days for the school-choice movement, as several early champions of choice have publicly expressed their disillusionment. And yet, looking back, it is hard to see how they were not inevitable. For decades, school-choice advocates have seemed bent on producing this hour of disappointment. It would seem, then, that school choice “works” in some respects and in some instances—but that choice alone could never work as well as many of its champions have expected, and promised. It is time for those who would like to transform America’s schools to let go of the dream that choice by itself is any kind of “solution.” The goal ought to be a much more serious agenda of school deregulation and re-invention.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Gary Wolfram, D. Joseph Olson, Competitive Enterprise InstituteStudies, 10/21/2010
Michigan’s insurance industry provides a good example of the unintended consequences of government intervention in the market, and of Ludwig von Mises’s interventionist dynamic, in which government intervention begets more intervention. In an attempt to keep any particular person from suffering economic losses due to an auto accident, the legislature enacted the requirement of unlimited personal injury protection. This created a situation where insurance companies face great uncertainty as to their possible liability in auto accident claims, and has led to overuse of expensive medical treatments. This in turn has led to high insurance premiums.
Economic GrowthBy Luke Malpass, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 10/21/2010
A year ago in Auckland, the humorist P.J. O’Rourke gave a dinner lecture for the Centre for Independent Studies titled “Invisible Hand vs. Visible Fist: Securing the Future Wealth of Nations” on the global financial crisis and the disastrous role that governments played in it. For a country full of lefties and lacking the rich tradition of political satire as in the United States, P.J. was a refreshing shot in the arm for the classical liberals in attendance. New Zealand was once a beacon to the Western world for classical liberal reform. No longer. Where did it all go wrong?
EducationBy Jonah E. Rockoff, Benjamin B. Lockwood, Education NextEducation Report, 10/21/2010
Middle school. The very words are enough to make many Americans shudder with memories of social anxiety, peer pressure, bad haircuts, and acne. But could middle schools also be bad for student learning? Could something as simple as changing the grade configuration of schools improve academic outcomes? That’s what some educators have come to believe.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Merrill Matthews, Institute for Policy InnovationPolicy Report, 10/21/2010
The nature of the market for medicines is changing. Most prescription drugs that consumers are familiar with come from the pharmacy in pill form. They are considered” small molecules” and are relatively simple to manufacture or duplicate through chemistry. But a new class of drugs, generally referred to as “biologics,” is emerging from the innovator drug companies. But until recently, there was no clearly defined, abbreviated pathway for drug manufacturers to create generic versions of brand name biologics—usually referred to as “biosimilars” or “follow-on biologics”—and get them approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
EducationBy David L. Kirp, National AffairsNational Affairs, 10/21/2010
Over the past few decades, improved academic achievement data have given us unprecedented insight into the strengths and weaknesses of America’s system of education. And among the most striking and worrisome findings has been the degree to which African-American boys and young men lag behind their fellow students. By almost every measure of academic performance and achievement, black males are on the wrong side of a staggering divide. This so-called “achievement gap” has of course drawn a great deal of attention in education-policy circles. But efforts to address it have, by and large, been guided by one of two sets of assumptions, neither of which is well rooted in real-world evidence.
Budget & TaxationBy Jeffrey H. Anderson, National AffairsNational Affairs, 10/21/2010
In the eyes of America’s founders, unlimited government was a recipe for tyranny. Were the founders here today, they would almost certainly urge Americans to take action to avoid the pitfalls of “public debt,” excessive taxation, and the “wretchedness and oppression” that follow—let alone to combat the dangers that an overbearing government poses to our civic fabric and way of life. The best way to take up that call is through the Limited Government Amendment. And given the urgency of America’s predicament, the best time to advance it is now.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Joshua D. Hawley, National AffairsNational Affairs, 10/21/2010
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus taught that individual happiness was the aim of living and that pleasure was the sum of happiness. Self-fulfillment is our great national ambition. The quest for individual self-discovery defines our ethics and our notions of justice; it motivates our work, our play, and our relationships. In virtually every quarter of our national life, individual happiness, as defined by each person for himself, is the order of the day. This is certainly true of our politics, and not by coincidence. A nation’s public life always reflects its political regime, and the American regime has been dominated for nearly a century by a set of ideas shot through with epicurean influence.
Budget & TaxationBy Daniel Disalvo, National AffairsNational Affairs, 10/21/2010
Public-sector workers’ ability to unionize is hardly sacrosanct; it is by no means a fundamental civil or constitutional right. It has been permitted by most states and localities for only about half a century, and, so far, it is not clear that this experiment has served the public interest. It is true that ending government workers’ ability to organize is politically inconceivable today in the states where it exists. But if states’ and cities’ fiscal ills grow painful enough, the unthinkable could someday become political necessity.
Economic GrowthBy Veronique de Rugy, Reason FoundationReason, 10/21/2010
During recessions, small businesses are inevitably hailed as the key to recovery and showered with still more targeted programs. These policies are based on a myth. Neither small nor large businesses can flourish in an environment of anxiety about government intrusions and burdens. By reaching into virtually every sector of economic life and by picking winners and losers, the government is injecting uncertainty into the marketplace and making it harder for the economy to recover. To start helping American business, Obama needs to stop trying to help.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ronald Bailey, Reason FoundationReason, 10/21/2010
Overpopulation panic is back. Concerns about a world too full of “filthy human children“ motivated eco-terrorist James Lee when he held employees of the Discovery Channel hostage at gunpoint in September. But the deranged Lee is far from alone when it comes to worrying about overpopulation. The May-June cover of the progressive magazine Mother Jones asked, “Who’s to Blame for the Population Crisis?” British journalist Matthew Parris wrote an op-ed in September in the London Times asserting, “If you want to save the planet, stop breeding.” Parris further coyly suggested that we study “China’s example, for lessons good and bad.”
ImmigrationBy Alex Nowrasteh, Competitive Enterprise InstituteIssue Analysis, 10/21/2010
Highly skilled foreign workers are typically well educated, English speaking, and young. They receive high levels of compensation, do not consume social programs, and do not commit crimes more than the general population. Moreover, there is little direct competition between foreign highly skilled workers and similarly skilled Americans. Foreign workers complement American workers and push them into different higher paying occupations. To further expand these benefits to the American economy, the restrictions and fees levied on H-1B visas and other skilled foreign worker visa categories should be removed.
Health CareBy David R. Henderson, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 10/21/2010
On September 23, 2010, a wide array of provisions from the controversial new Obama health care law went into effect, creating new restrictions on existing health insurance plans and an even bigger set of restrictions on new health plans. Perhaps the most immediate and far-reaching impact will be felt by the two million Americans who currently have limited medical benefit plans, known colloquially as “mini-med plans.” Mini-med plans have gained popularity in recent years, especially among companies that employ low-wage, seasonal and part-time workers, and contractors. Mini-meds allow these employers to offer a health plan at a low cost to both the company and employees.
International Trade/FinanceBy Doug Bandow, Cato InstituteTrade Briefing Paper, 10/20/2010
Moving forward will require genuine statesmanship backed by political courage from the Obama administration. If the president and his aides are able to convince the Republic of Korea to further open its market, they will make the congressional sale easier. But if Seoul insists on the deal as written, then the administration should proceed as well. Failing to ratify the U.S.–South Korea free trade agreement would likely result in permanent economic and geopolitical damage. This would be a high price to pay at any time, but especially now when China is rapidly expanding its influence throughout East Asia.
Information TechnologyBy Randolph J. May, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 10/20/2010
In recent years, rising broadcast retransmission fees have been the source of increasing friction between broadcasters and multi-channel video programming distributors negotiating over rights to retransmit broadcast signals. Just witness this past weekend’s loss of Fox TV’s network television programs by Cablevision’s subscribers in New York, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas. Not surprisingly, in light of the increasing number of blackouts and threatened blackouts of network television programming by broadcasters, there is now an important debate emerging concerning whether the FCC should adopt a set of negotiation and dispute resolution rules to address “must-carry” and retransmission consent rights.
Budget & TaxationBy Allegheny Institute, Allegheny Institute for Public PolicySpotlight, 10/20/2010
With City Council’s final vote and the Mayor’s pronouncement that it is “time to move on” to other issues, the stage appears to be set for the troubled pension plans to move from City administration to that of the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System under the terms of Act 44. After the vote on the Mayor’s lease plan the Council and Controller rolled out yet another plan to raise the $220 million needed to avoid the state takeover of the pension funds. The Mayor’s office indicated the Council-Controller plan is a non-starter and would not get his approval.
Budget & TaxationBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstituteSpotlight on Spending, 10/20/2010
According to the City of Chicago’s website, traffic control aides assist in facilitating the movement of traffic; keeping intersections clear; allowing police to be in the neighborhoods fighting crime; providing assistance to pedestrians; and helping redirect traffic during emergency street closures. Is it necessary, though, to have traffic control aides out on the streets as much as they are? Some taxpayers don’t think so.
Budget & TaxationBy Talmadge Heflin, Katy Hawkins, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 10/20/2010
Many states are facing extremely difficult cuts because their governments have grown unchecked for so long. If Texas does not make changes now to strengthen the Tax and expenditure limit, the Texas Legislature can expect to face more tough cuts in the future. The state’s current budget shortfall will require a significant reduction in the growth of government spending. A strong tax and expenditure limit will limit the volatility in government spending and thus help prevent future budget shortfalls. It is also a step toward enforcing greater government efficiency and accountability at every level.
National SecurityBy Alex Wilner, Macdonald-Laurier InstituteReport, 10/20/2010
Canada has a problem with home-grown radicalism. It comes from many sources and when it crosses the line from advocacy to violence, law enforcement steps in. People are arrested, tried and, if convicted, sent to jail. Unfortunately what looks like a solution to most people can be the start of another problem. Prisons are a fertile recruiting ground for radicals and terrorists in many other countries. If we do not want to jail one terrorist only to release three, we need to take preemptive action based on the experiences of our friends and allies.
Budget & TaxationBy Mike Denham, TaxPayers' AllianceResearch Note, 10/19/2010
The unchecked growth of Britain’s National Debt places an increasing burden on Britain’s taxpayers and poses a serious risk to our future prosperity. According to a recent report from the Bank for International Settlements, on current policies by 2040 our public debt will exceed 500 per cent of GDP, higher than any other major economy they studied. Debt of that magnitude would be way beyond previous experience and would exact a heavy price, “driving down capital accumulation, productivity growth and long-term potential growth.”
Budget & TaxationBy Allegheny Institute, Allegheny Institute for Public PolicyReport, 10/19/2010
Pittsburgh is heading inexorably toward a period of either much higher taxes or finally facing up to the need to make serious cuts in spending to free up $30 million or more a year to pour into pensions. There are no easy answers or cheap fixes to the problem. It would be egregiously imprudent to continue looking to Harrisburg for a bailout. The state does not have enough money to meet its own obligations. Going forward, the City needs to be very careful about what it promises its employees. Maybe the Act 47 team and the Oversight Board could begin exercising some of their authority to help steer the City in that regard.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/19/2010
Under present circumstances, it would undermine U.S. security not to force the Obama Administration to be more transparent regarding the ongoing negotiations with Russia for a side agreement regarding missile defense. Such transparency is also needed in the related area of space arms control. The Administration, despite the lack of justification for its position, wants the Senate to consent to the ratification of New START in the upcoming lame duck session of Congress. Clearly, Senate consideration of New START can wait.
EducationBy Dan Lips, Maryland Public Policy InstituteReport, 10/19/2010
Online or virtual learning has the potential to revolutionize how American students learn. Already, more than a million children are participating in online learning programs across the country. In the future, participation in virtual learning is expected to grow dramatically. Online learning has the potential to benefit students of all background sand achievement levels by providing access to high-quality instruction that is customized to students’ specific needs and learning styles.
Maryland’s Restrictions on Patient Choice: The State of Health Care Freedom in the 2010 Maryland General AssemblyBy Marc Kilmer, Maryland Public Policy InstituteReport, 10/19/2010
While national health care legislation received significant attention in 2010, there were also efforts in Maryland to enact healthcare reform legislation. These reforms ranged from a wholesale overhaul of how health care is funded in Maryland to minor tweaking of insurance regulation. In general, these bills were reflective of two modes of thinking about how to reform health care: introduce more government regulation in an attempt to protect consumers or reduce government interference in the health care marketplace in an attempt to give consumers more choices and lower prices.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Thomas A. Firey, Maryland Public Policy InstituteReport, 10/19/2010
Will Maryland’s retail electricity market develop such diverse offerings, satisfying consumers? Or do the unusual characteristics of electricity—unable to be stored, requiring a transmission and distribution network that is a natural monopoly, having both residential and industrial/commercial consumers—limit its ability to be traded in competitive energy markets? These are questions that Maryland policymakers must consider going forward. Most important, they must consider that there has been great discontent with both electricity regulation and deregulation.
Budget & TaxationBy Talmadge Heflin, Katy Hawkins, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 10/19/2010
In 1990, the entire budget for the state of Texas was $23.3 billion. This level of appropriations supported all the major operations of government: administration, health, education, judicial services, legislative activities, and capital projects. Today, the major functions of state government remain largely the same, taking into account some agency and program consolidations, name changes, and the addition of some new agencies and commissions. What is not the same, however, is the cost of sustaining Texas government.
Budget & TaxationBy Gabriel J. Michael, Maryland Public Policy InstituteReport, 10/19/2010
While Maryland’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average, analysts believe the state cannot expect full recovery until 2012 at the earliest. Yet the economic toll of the past year only reinforces the importance of ensuring that the state of Maryland is fiscally responsible, promoting tax policies that will encourage economic growth while cutting costs and increasing the efficiency of services. Unfortunately, the O’Malley administration’s proposed budget accomplishes none of these things.
Budget & TaxationBy Gabriel J. Michael, Maryland Public Policy InstituteReport, 10/19/2010
The Annapolis Report is designed to be a concise, plain-language guide to many of the major topics addressed during the session: the state’s budget, taxes, education, health insurance regulation, and more. This year’s session spanned the 90 days from January 13 to April 12. During that time, a total of 2,700 bills were introduced, and more than 700 were passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor. The Annapolis Report differs from many other projects in that we do not assess the performance of individual legislators; rather, our focus is on the legislative session as a whole.
An Analysis of Arizona Individual Income Tax-credit Scholarship Recipients’ Family Income: 2009-10 School YearBy Vicki E. Murray, Harvard UniversityWorking Paper, 10/19/2010
In 2009, the East Valley Tribune and the Arizona Republic alleged that Arizona’s individual income tax-credit scholarship program disproportionately serves privileged students from higher income families over those from lower-income backgrounds. Yet neither paper collected the student-level, scholarship recipient family income data needed to verify their allegation. This analysis does by using family income and related data provided by school tuition organizations for 19,990 individual income tax-credit scholarship recipients, representing almost 80 percent of all scholarship recipients in 2009.
PhilanthropyBy Terrence Scanlon, Washington Legal FoundationCounsel's Advisory, 10/18/2010
Earlier this year Florida successfully beat back an attempt by activists intending to lay the foundation for the “ACORNization” of philanthropy in the Sunshine State. Their goal was to make it easier to impose philanthropic grant quotas in the future by forcing charities to publicly disclose sensitive information such as the race, gender, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation, of its employees, officers, directors, trustees, and members.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Mark Osler, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 10/18/2010
It appears that the Department of Justice has taken notice of certain federal sentencing guidelines, and concluded that they may be a corruption of law (to use Aquinas’ term). They are correct in this conclusion. In a report to the United States Sentencing Commission, the DOJ has urged the commission to study a few types of crime for which the “guidelines have lost the backing of a large part of the judiciary."
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Stephen A. Fogdall, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 10/18/2010
In recent years, New York courts have grappled with the question of whether a plaintiff should be permitted to bring a design defect claim where the plaintiff’s core contention is not that the manufacturer failed to design a safer product, but that the manufacturer should never have designed the product at all. New York courts have rightly concluded that permitting such a claim could amount to a judicial ban on the product, and would implicate policy judgments beyond the proper role of courts.
National SecurityBy Sam Grable, Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 10/18/2010
U.S. policy makers have invested enormous energy since 9/11 in understanding the new strategic terrain and how best to operate within it. Winning over local populations and “turning” insurgents has become more important than killing. Avoiding civilian casualties—always an implicit objective—is now an explicit strategic linchpin. In this environment, money is a subtle and potentially effective means of achieving what bombs and bullets cannot. Unfortunately, some fail to appreciate the value of cash in war.
National SecurityBy Dave Almand, Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 10/18/2010
The complex global environment demands a unified effort. As that World War II cartoon suggests, using resources to plan postwar reconstruction or a conflict’s endgame can be construed as “putting the cart before the horse.” However, today and in the future that is exactly what we should do. Government leaders who reinvigorate the collaboration among academia, government, and industry are taking a path that has made the United States exceptional. Working together illuminates the strategic implications of our potential actions. Focusing on the “cart” might prevent a war.