- Budget & Taxation
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- Economic & Political Thought
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- National Security
- Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
- Regulation & Deregulation
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- Transportation & Infrastructure
- Acton Institute
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- Institute of Economic Affairs
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- 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
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Recent Policy Studies
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Bruce L. Benson, Independent InstituteBook, 07/07/2011
In The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State, Bruce L. Benson offers a powerful rebuttal of the received view of the relationship between law and government. Not only is the state unnecessary for the establishment and enforcement of law, Benson argues, but non-state institutions would also fight crime, resolve disputes, and render justice more effectively than the state because they would have stronger incentives to do so. This book gives readers the background needed to resolve some of the thorniest issues in political and legal theory and offers a multitude of insights that shed light on important aspects of government contracting and privatization.
Using Market Processes to Reform Government Transportation Programs, Report No. 2: Improving Transit with Competitive ContractingBy Wendell Cox, Ronald D. Utt, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/07/2011
America’s transit systems confront serious financial challenges that will force them to raise fares and reduce service unless they can get better control of their costs. Carrying less than 5 percent of commuters and less than 2 percent of all urban travel and concentrated primarily in large urban areas, these faltering systems will be seeking ever-higher subsidies at a time when hard-pressed state and local governments are laying off teachers and police and the U.S. Congress is contemplating significant cuts in all transportation programs. With government unable to provide more subsidies, a much better solution is for transit systems to use competitive contracting to reduce costs and improve the quality of service.
Economic GrowthBy John B. Taylor, Stanford UniversityPaper, 07/07/2011
Economists agree about the goals of price stability, low unemployment and stable economic growth, but they disagree about the policies to achieve these goals. The disagreement is particularly heated over discretionary countercyclical Keynesian fiscal policy. This paper is an empirical examination of the direct effects of the three countercyclical stimulus packages of the 2000s. It indicates that they did not have a positive effect on consumption and government purchases, and thus did not counter the decline in investment during the recessions as the basic Keynesian textbook model would suggest. According to the empirical estimates of the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, if there had been no temporary stimulus payments to individuals or families, their total consumption would have been about the same.
Health CareBy John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstitutePRI Study, 07/07/2011
Obamacare creates incentives for state and federal politicians and bureaucrats to exert direct control over the premiums of health plans. However, because health plans largely pass through costs from medical providers, artificially limiting increases in premiums cannot actually result in lower health costs. Instead, it results in reduced access to care and threatens the solvency of health plans. Addressed in this study are five critical uncertainties that make it difficult to estimate future medical costs accurately. Americans should be concerned that Obamacare will result in significant reduction in choice of health plans. Additional Obamacare will likely lead to a taxpayer bailout of private health plans or further the movement towards a single-payer government-monopoly system. Repealing Obamacare and replacing it with reforms that put the American people in charge of health dollars is the recommended way to avoid either outcome.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Michael Ennis, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 07/07/2011
The Washington Policy Center encourages five principles of responsible transportation policy to help guide policymakers in returning to a system that improves people’s freedom of movement. The principles in this policy note include: tying spending to performance measures, like traffic relief and economic development; respecting people’s freedom of mobility; deploying resources based on market demand; improving freight mobility; utilizing public-private partnerships.
Budget & TaxationBy Michael Schuyler, Institute for Research on the Economics of TaxationCongressional Advisory, 07/07/2011
The federal government’s deficit usually rises during recessions, and the depth of the last recession contributed to the red ink. However, the rise in the deficit this time was extraordinary. Why did the federal deficit increase so much more during and after this recession than during and after previous recessions? This paper examines the 10 U.S. recessions since 1950, and it concludes that an upsurge in federal spending is the primary reason for federal deficits of a magnitude not seen since World War II. The huge deficits of recent years, and the consequent mushrooming of debt, are not long sustainable. If Congress acts sooner rather than later, it can reduce the odds that a full-blown debt crisis will hit the United States.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Randy T. Simmons, Independent InstituteBook, 07/07/2011
In the newly revised version of Beyond Politics: The Roots of Government Failure, author Randy T. Simmons provides a wealth of new material showing why political and bureaucratic attempts to correct the problems of so-called market failure often result in inadequate, even counterproductive outcomes. The causes of that common malady are not especially hard to grasp, but doing so, Simmons argues, requires that we recognize the flaws of orthodox assumptions about politics and markets—and that we understand the institutional framework that shapes our government and economy. After laying this groundwork, Simmons exposes the roots of government failure in case studies of producer-rigged markets, consumer protection, government exploitation, public education, environmental protection, social welfare, and macroeconomic policy. He concludes by drawing out the core lessons of this analysis and offering four guidelines to improve public policy and create a climate for liberty.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Anthony Gregory, Independent InstitutePaper, 07/07/2011
Habeas corpus is a paradoxical bundle, comprising both an exercise of state power and a limit on it. There is room for debate about its technical and historical scope, but people must decide which principle they admire more: the empowerment of the judiciary or the curtailment of the executive? The exercise of government power or its limitation? So long as we have unlimited government, the liberals will never have habeas corpus as they want it. And so long as we have an imperial detention state at home and abroad, the conservatives will never have limited government constrained by anything resembling traditional conceptions of law. The reform proposals presented in this paper, including a program of restoring state habeas corpus powers over federal detention authority, are grounded in precedent and principle, however they do require a major shift in cultural values.
National SecurityBy Bruce Thornton, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/07/2011
In the war against Islamic jihad, appeasement—in the form of soliciting the goodwill of an enemy that is seen as the victim of our unjust foreign policy—has driven the West’s policy and tactics on numerous occasions, and even before 9/11. But flattering Islam to curry favor will only compromise the safety of the U.S., especially when risks lie ahead that include: the collapse into chaos of Pakistan, a nation with nuclear weapons and a considerable cohort of its citizens sympathetic to jihadist aims; and an Islamist Iran in pursuit of nuclear weapons it can hand off to the jihadist outfits it has long supported supported—such outcomes may yet give us painful lessons in the follies of appeasement.
EducationBy Matthew Carr, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 07/06/2011
Over the course of the last 35 years, traditional public school student achievement in the United States has been stagnant. In an effort to strengthen student achievement the State of Ohio has pursued an education reform strategy of providing various school choice programs as a sanction for poor performance. School choice programs such as charter schools and vouchers serve two distinct purposes: First, they provide a direct and immediate outlet for students assigned to poorly performing traditional public schools. Secondly, the competition that is created for public schools creates incentives for systemic improvements in the quality of education. This study finds that voucher threatened schools focus only on those students most likely to use the program to exit their residentially assigned school.
International Trade/FinanceBy David Muhlhausen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/06/2011
On June 28, Senator Max Baucus (D–MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, announced that he would hold a “mock” mark up of the South Korea, Colombia, and Panama free trade agreements (FTAs). Unfortunately, the legislation authorizing the South Korea FTA includes a reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program that reaffirms the expansion of the programs that was created by the 2009 stimulus bill. The TAA is an ineffective and costly program that provides job training, relocation allowances, and unemployment pay for workers who lost their jobs due to foreign trade while they attempt to shift into new occupations. With out-of-control spending and surging public debt threatening the nation’s stability, this is hardly a good time to provide overly generous benefits for only a small fraction of laid-off workers. Worse, there is little empirical support for the notion that TAA boosts participants’ earnings.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett Schaefer, James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/06/2011
In September 2011, the U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote on a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood. This resolution is linked to Palestinian efforts to obtain U.N. membership as a state and to delegitimize Israel. These efforts will have no legal significance because the General Assembly has no standing to recognize statehood—that is the right of sovereign states—or to grant U.N. membership without the Security Council’s prior recommendation, which the U.S. has indicated it will veto. But they will undermine U.S. interests by escalating tensions and harming efforts to resolve the international peace and security issues in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The U.S. should take steps to oppose the Palestinian effort to gain international recognition at the expense of Israel, rather than through negotiations with it.
Regulation & Deregulation
Erasing Intellectual Property: “Plain Packaging” for Consumer Products and the Implications for Trademark RightsBy Patrick Basham, John C. Luik , Washington Legal FoundationMonograph, 07/06/2011
The idea that consumer products should be sold in “plain packaging” (i.e. packages containing only legislatively-dictated information and bereft of images, color, and unique branding marks) is a health policy tool of relatively recent vintage. Targets of these proposals argue that plain packaging mandates would illegally seize registered trademarks which are protected by both domestic laws and international treaties. Patrick Basham and Dr. John C. Luik provide an extensive evaluation of plain packaging proposals and studies in the context of international intellectual property treaties. They conclude that these treaties do not permit the sweeping seizure of trademarks that plain packaging policies would initiate.
Economic GrowthBy Dean Stansel, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 07/06/2011
Over the last three decades, large cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit and Cleveland have seen their populations shrink, while areas like Houston, Atlanta and Dallas have seen their populations grow rapidly. This article details the relationship between taxes and growth for 15 pairs of metropolitan areas. Not surprisingly, keeping tax burdens low appears to be an important ingredient in the recipe for economic prosperity. From 1980 to 2007 in the 10 lowest-tax areas, populations have increased by as much as 64.4% and employment has increased by 107.6%. If high-tax, low-growth metro areas want to enjoy prosperity similar to Dallas and Atlanta they should lower their onerous burden of taxation and bring spending under control.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Ronald Utt, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/06/2011
Growing dissatisfaction with federal transportation policy and government’s mismanagement of the highway trust fund have encouraged many in Congress and in state governments to seek ways to overhaul the system or to extract themselves from it. Since the mid-1990s, legislation has been introduced each year in Congress to phase out the federal highway program by shifting the existing federal taxing authority to states in a multi-year phaseout; it would restore most surface transportation responsibility—and the revenues to fulfill it—to the states. Considered too extreme by some, including states that would benefit from it, this “turnback” legislation never gained much traction and has not been a serious contender to displace the increasingly dysfunctional federal program.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Carrie B. Kerekes, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 07/06/2011
Public policy often regards pollution and other measures of poor environmental quality as public “bads” that are a result of market failures; thus government intervention through regulatory and environmental standards is argued as the necessary action. Instead, environmental quality should be regarded from a property rights perspective, in which institutions create incentives that lead to reduced levels of pollution. This article shows that where property rights can be well defined, as with land and water, increases in the security of property rights lead to improvements in environmental quality. For example, when property rights become more secure, deforestation decreases and access to safe water and sanitation facilities improves. However, when property rights cannot be well defined, such as property rights over the air, the environmental quality will erode.
EducationBy William Damon, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/06/2011
Young people in this country are failing civics, and it is a crisis for the nation. Many young Americans today are just not motivated to learn about how to become a fully engaged citizen of their country. This trend has not arisen in isolation; the attitudes of many young Americans are closely aligned with intellectual positions that they likely have never encountered first-hand. In our leading intellectual and educational circles, the entire notion of national devotion is now in dispute. Discouraging young Americans from identifying with their country is a sure way to remove their most powerful source of motivation to learn about U. S. citizenship. To preserve the American heritage of liberty and democracy for future generations, citizenship instruction must be placed at the front and center of our classrooms, not relegated to the margins.
International Trade/FinanceBy Sallie James, Cato InstituteTrade Policy Analysis, 07/06/2011
The Export-Import Bank of the United States picks winners in the U.S. economy by redistributing resources from the productive sector to its chosen clients. While the bank has been self-financing, taxpayers remain exposed to tens of billions of dollars of loans and guarantees. The Ex-Im Bank claims to correct market failure, but it introduces distortions into the economy and inserts politics into what should be purely commercial decisions. By diverting resources from the private sector, the bank’s activities produce a less-efficient economy and lower general standard of living than would occur in a free market for export finance. If the bank’s transactions were “sure bets,” then the private sector would be expected to step in; but they’re not and this is a clear signal that the public shouldn’t be subjected to risk, ether. Unfortunately, the bank’s mission is driven by political considerations rather than economic logic.
Health CareBy Roger Bate, Julissa Milligan, Lorraine Mooney, American Enterprise InstituteHealth Policy Outlook, 07/06/2011
Legal but poorly made, or substandard, drugs can be lethal. The problem is most prevalent in emerging markets, where gross flaws in production can be easily detected by simple quality-control tests. Flaws are rarer and more difficult to detect in developed countries, but they still pose a significant danger to public health. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released its "Pathway to Global Product Safety and Quality," a report that candidly explains that the FDA cannot adequately oversee the safety of chemicals manufactured overseas and imported into the United States. As a result, drug shortages and adverse health outcomes will increase, even in the United States.
Health CareBy Marc Kilmer, Maryland Public Policy InstitutePolicy Report, 07/05/2011
With Medicaid taking an ever-growing share of the Maryland state budget, the time is here for state policymakers to reform the program to ensure its affordability. Maryland should learn from other states that have adopted cost-cutting measures and consider the following remedies: Establish a task force to evaluate the variety of options that exist for restricting the state’s Medicaid program. Demand greater flexibility from the federal government so the state can tailor its Medicaid program to better fit the needs of Marylanders in the program. Reform and expand the state’s managed care system so that it offers better service and provides greater budget predictability. And lastly provide health care coverage in different ways to many who currently receive or who will soon receive Medicaid. Unless attempts are made to decrease the growth rate of Medicaid spending, Maryland will continue facing budget problems.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Roy C. Smith, Independent InstituteArticle, 07/05/2011
Ever since the bailout of Continental Illinois Bank in 1984, bank bailouts have been an unpopular device invoked to protect the financial system from risks posed by troubled banks deemed “too big to fail.” Although the Dodd-Frank Act prohibits taxpayer-funded bailouts, it leaves the financial system exposed to meltdowns and promotes the shifting of risk from large “systemically important” financial firms to smaller, less-regulated ones.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Johnathan O'Neill, The Heritage FoundationFirst Principles, 07/05/2011
Although it is readily apparent that conservatism is united in its principled hostility to modern Progressive Liberalism, it is often more difficult to pin down just what the movement stands for. Author Johnathan O’Neill suggests that a focus on defending and preserving the Constitution could unite the otherwise fractious conservative movement. In this spirit, he examines four early conservative responses to Progressivism, all of which continue to have supporters today: Burkean traditionalism, Southern Agrarianism, libertarianism, and constitutional conservatism. While the first three had a strained, ambiguous, or hostile relationship to the constitutional order that limited their ability to respond to Progressivism, the latter offered informed and forthright resistance to Progressivism based on an affirmation of American constitutionalism. These conservatives met Progressivism with principled arguments rooted in the constitutional tradition, and they give us a historical example that can offer guidance to today’s conservatives.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Noel D. Johnson, Matthew Mitchell, Steven Yamarik, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 07/05/2011
Do laws restricting fiscal policies across U.S. states lead politicians to regulate more instead? This paper illustrates that partisan policy outcomes do exist across U.S. states, with Republicans cutting taxes and spending and Democrats raising them. Furthermore, it reveals that these partisan policy outcomes are moderated in states with no-carry restrictions on public deficits. Lastly, it tests whether unified Republican or Democratic state governments regulate more when constrained by no-carry restrictions; it finds that no-carry laws restrict partisan fiscal outcomes but tend to lead to more-partisan regulatory outcomes.
Economic GrowthBy Joseph L. Bast, Heartland InstituteHeartlander, 07/05/2011
The official unemployment rate is back up to more than 9 percent, and the percent of workers who are unemployed or have given up trying to find jobs is higher than it was during the Great Depression. George W. Bush may have owned the Great Recession of 2008–2009, but Barack Obama owns the Second Great Depression of 2011. His policies – call them Obamanomics – are to blame. In order to turn this economy around there are a several things that must be done, including: not raising the debt ceiling, reducing spending, blocking Obamacare, engaging unions on benefits and bargaining rights, expanding school choice, and furthering the development of natural resources.
Budget & TaxationBy Alabama Policy Institute, Alabama Policy InstituteReport, 07/05/2011
The Alabama state legislature’s 2011 session was prolific, as lawmakers tackled and passed legislation dealing with a broad range of issues. For example, in an effort to get Alabama’s fiscal house in order and contain costs, House Bill 414 provides for roughly a 2.5% increase (from 5% to 7.5%) in public employee contributions for pension coverage. With regard to tort reform, Senate Bill 184 prevents product liability suits against sellers who are not the manufacturer of the goods sold. And in an effort to promote a more ethical government, Senate Bill 222 prohibits gifts or the solicitation of gifts for public officers, employees, and their family members for the purpose of influencing official action.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Eli Lehrer, Heartland InstitutePolicy Study, 07/05/2011
Each of the past four years, The Heartland Institute has released a report that asks fundamental questions about the nation’s property and casualty insurance regulatory environment, which addresses: how free consumers are to choose the property and casualty insurance products they want, and how free insurers are to provide the property and casualty insurance products consumers say they want. The data reveals that there is an uneven, but real trend towards more freedom for consumers and businesses in the homeowners’ and automobile insurance realms. Although state-level insurance bureaucracies make it difficult for insurers to offer consumers the products they need, want, and deserve, the burdensome regulation shows signs of easing.
Regulation & Deregulation
Solving the Flood/Wind Problem After Hurricane Losses: The Case for a Standardized Loss Allocation SystemBy Scott Richardson, Eli Lehrer, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 07/05/2011
In the aftermath of a hurricane landfall, there often isn’t enough data or experience relating to the losses to make known for certain whether a given loss resulted from wind or water. Each time an indeterminate loss situation (total home destruction) takes place, protracted legal battles and custom-made agreements are currently the only way to resolve disputes over who should pay for losses. This paper describes the problem of indeterminate losses, outlines the shortcomings implicit in two other frequently proposed solutions, and then describes a better solution: a standardized loss allocation system. Under such a system, federal and state regulators and private parties would agree in advance to distribute losses in specific ways. Rather than adjusting claims individually, a standardized loss allocation system would, in the case of a total loss, distribute claims based on a formula between wind insurers and the National Flood Insurance Program.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy William C. Duncan, Institute for Marriage and Public PolicyResearch Brief, 07/05/2011
As of July 1, 2011, all but seven states have concluded their legislative sessions for 2011. This legislative year has seen significant action on foundational questions of the meaning of marriage with important bills considered in at least fourteen states. This brief examines three types of bills related to marriage: (1) proposals to amend state constitutions to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, (2) bills that would redefine marriage to include same-sex couples and (3) bills that create civil unions, an alternative legal statuses to provide the benefits of marriage to unmarried couples under a different term.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Henchman, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 07/05/2011
Just last week, on July 1st, California’s “Amazon” law went into effect. Named after their most visible target, these laws deem an out-of-state company to be an in-state company for sales tax collection purposes if the company receives commissioned referrals from in-state resident “affiliates.” While 21 states have considered “Amazon” laws in the past three years, only seven have enacted them: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. This new tax, which is likely to be unconstitutional, expands state taxing authority in a manner likely to invite extended litigation. Furthermore, in every state that has implemented this tax has failed in their twin objectives of collecting additional revenue and creating a level playing field between brick-and-mortar and remote sellers.
Economic GrowthBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/05/2011
Despite the official end of the recession in June 2009, the labor market remains stagnant. Employment has fallen by nearly 7 million jobs since the recession began. Unemployment remains above 9 percent. This is the weakest recovery of the post–World War II era. Current policies have not stimulated business hiring. If job creation occurs at the same rate as in the 2003–2007 expansion, unemployment will not return to pre-recession levels until 2018. If job creation continues at the low rate of the past year, unemployment will remain permanently high. Congress needs to act to prevent this by removing federal barriers to business investment and success, which include: repealing Obamacare and its associated employer mandates and tax increases, permitting more domestic energy production, and reducing spending to mitigate the specter of enormous tax increases.
Budget & TaxationBy Ivan Osorio, Trey Kovacs, Capital Research CenterLabor Watch, 07/05/2011
It was national news when government employee unions took over the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest Republican governor Scott Walker’s proposal to curtail collective bargaining “rights” to address the state’s budget crisis. Republican lawmakers were denounced, and the mainstream media imagined that the Republican victories in 2010 had created conditions for a holy war against labor unions. But interestingly, even in Democrat-controlled states—including Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut—budget crises are compelling lawmakers to defy their relationship with labor unions, allowing them to implement the reforms necessary to get their fiscal houses in order and restore fairness to the taxpayers.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Joanne Nova, Science and Public Policy InstitutePaper, 07/05/2011
The Utah State Legislature produced HJR 12, a bill calling for the EPA to substantiate its claims about carbon dioxide. It’s the most obvious of statements, so mundane it shouldn’t even be necessary. Nonetheless, the Utah Legislature has been criticized by a small cadre of PhDs at Brigham Young University (BYU). Disturbingly, these scientists don’t appear to have examined the empirical evidence themselves, as identified in the study, and merely repeat the conclusions of others. To make matters worse, their criticisms are filled with logical errors, baseless assertions and mistaken assumptions.
Economic GrowthBy Scott Moody, Wendy P. Warcholik, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsAnalysis, 07/05/2011
One of the most important economic considerations people look at when deciding where to relocate is the cost of living in an area. Fortunately, Oklahoma’s low cost of living, relative to the national average, is a boon for the state’s economic competitiveness. But there is still a lagging awareness of the state’s cost-of-living differences and how they affect public policy. Oklahoma’s individual income tax create winners and losers based solely on where one lives. Moving to a single, flat income tax rate would be the simplest and quickest way to end the cost-of-living bias in the income tax.
EducationBy Brandon Dutcher, Jonathan Small, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsPerspective, 07/05/2011
Last month Oklahoma’s higher education regents approved tuition and fee increases for the state’s public colleges and universities. But it can’t come as a suprise; as former Harvard president Derek Bok famously remarked, “universities share one characteristic with compulsive gamblers and exiled royalty: there is never enough money to satisfy their desires.” That being said, before the regents consider their next round of tuition and fee hikes, one hopes they will consider ten compelling reasons why tuition should be cut and not raised, including that: some of the higher education compensation is excessive, professors aren’t teaching enough classes, and colleges and universities have spent more than $188 million on travel over the last three fiscal years.
Budget & TaxationBy Ocean State Policy Research Institute, Citizens Against Government Waste, Ocean State Policy Research InstituteReport, 07/05/2011
If Rhode Island citizens wonder why unemployment remains at unacceptable levels, taxes are so high, and so many people are giving up and leaving Rhode Island, it is because the state government is spending so much money that it is burning up the economy. The 2011 Rhode Island Piglet Book exposes over 300 pork projects, bungled boondoggles, and bad ideas and examples of abuse of power that have resulted in the waste and fraud of over $600 million of taxpayer money. It may be hard to stomach when finding out that government spent: $20 million to renovate state lawmakers’ offices, $5.3 million for a new elephant pen and a botanical exhibit at Roger Williams Park, and $250,000 to provide digital television to the state’s inmate population.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Estimates of Global Food Production in the Year 2050: Will We Produce Enough to Adequately Feed the World?By Craig D. Idso, Science and Public Policy InstituteReport, 07/05/2011
Global food security is one of the most pressing societal issues of our time. This study has projected trends in the productivities of key crops for the year 2050, finding that expected advances in agricultural technology and expertise will significantly increase the food production potential of many countries and regions. However, it also reveals that these advances will not increase production fast enough to meet the demands of the planet’s even faster-growing human population. More notably, this study points out the positive impact of Earth’s rising atmospheric CO2 concentration on crop yields which will, consequently, lessen the severity of the looming food shortage. Rising CO2 levels will aid in lifting untold hundreds of millions of people out of a state of hunger and malnutrition, thereby preventing widespread starvation and premature death.
Budget & TaxationBy Justin Owen, et al. , Beacon Center of TennesseeReport, 07/05/2011
The sixth-annual Tennessee Pork Report, authored in collaboration with Citizens Against Government Waste, is chock-full yet again, of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of taxpayer money by state and local government officials. Despite a changing political landscape in Tennessee, wasteful government spending has not disappeared. In fact, there is even more government waste than the $269 million detailed in last year’s pork report. In all, the 2011 report uncovers a whopping $371 million that state and local governments wasted over the past year, including: $140 million to pay a European company to relocate to Memphis; 14.5 million on an unnecessary solar energy program run by the state; and $131,000 to send utility district employees on exotic trips around the globe.
Budget & TaxationBy Amanda Griffin-Johnson, Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Brief, 07/05/2011
Most consumers understand that the forces of supply and demand are largely responsible for setting gas prices, but many are shocked to find that Illinois has the fifth-highest gas taxes nationwide. Not surprisingly, government has exacerbated the problem: The state reaps “windfall profits” when gas prices rise since it applies a 6.25 percent sales tax on gasoline, in addition to a flat-rate excise tax. So when gas prices go up, so does the state’s “take” from sales taxes. Illinois should eliminate the five percent state share of the sales tax on gasoline (the rest goes to localities), thereby taking the tax from 6.25 percent to 1.25 percent. Under this scenario, the average motorist would save $2.83 each time he filled up his tank at the current prices. Such a reform would undoubtedly be welcome relief to the Illinois taxpayers, especially in this economic climate.
Health CareBy David Tuerck, Paul Bachman, Michael Head, Beacon Hill InstitutePolicy Study, 07/05/2011
In 2006, Massachusetts enacted landmark health care reform legislation that promised to extend health care coverage to all citizens while significantly lowering costs. The Beacon Hill Institute has calculated the effect of healthcare reform on state and federal governments and the private health insurance markets. The findings are unfavorable, to say the least. Since the law’s enactment, state health care expenditures have risen by $414 million and private insurance costs have escalated by over $4 billion. Additionally, by 2009—only three years after the bill’s implementation—premiums for plans covering a single individual rose by $289 per year. Furthermore, the bill’s proponents claimed that emergency room visits would decrease, given that the newly insured now had routine access to preventative care. In fact, emergency room use increased by over 7 percent within just three years.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David Tuerck, Paul Bachman, Ryan Murphy, Beacon Hill InstitutePolicy Study, 07/05/2011
Last August, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act into law. The law orders the state Board of Public Utilities to develop an offshore wind energy certificate program that would support at least 1,100 megawatts of generation from qualified offshore wind projects. The project requires a cost-benefit analysis of its impact on the state’s economy and electricity ratepayers. The Beacon Hill Institute has conducted the analysis, and the findings are dismal. From 2017 to 2036, the average household ratepayer will pay $431 in higher electricity costs. And especially at a time when New Jersey is implementing bold, cost-cutting reforms so it can live within its means, the project would cost an alarming $3.245 billion, within a range of $2.106 billion and $4.137 billion.