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Recent Policy Studies
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Clayton Cramer, David Burnett, Cato InstituteBook, 07/19/2012
This special publication uses an extensive collection of news reports from over an eight-year period to survey the circumstances and outcomes of defensive gun uses in America. Federal and state lawmakers often oppose repealing or amending laws governing the ownership or carrying of guns. That opposition is often based on assumptions that the average citizen is incapable of successfully employing a gun in self-defense or that possession of a gun in public will tempt people to violence in contentious situations. Those assumptions are false. Such cases are an exceedingly small minority of gun uses by otherwise law-abiding citizens and a great number of tragedies have been thwarted by self-defense gun uses. The vast majority of gun owners are ethical and competent, and thousands of crimes are prevented each year by ordinary citizens with guns.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Katrina Currie, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Memo, 07/19/2012
If government control of wine and liquor sales means a safer state, Pennsylvania should be the one of the safest in the country. This is not the case. Compared to bordering states and the national average, the commonwealth currently ranks in the middle-of-the-pack or worse in alcohol-related deaths and alcohol-related traffic fatalities. A review of the existing literature reveals there’s no clear consensus on the social impact of privatization. Many of the arguments against privatization aren’t about social harms—for which the evidence shows no link with government control—but increased “consumption” following privatization. Consumption could increase dramatically if every adult drinker had one more glass of wine each month, but this does not create a policy problem. And as long as “consumption” is measured in terms of sales, we expect to see an increase.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Diane Katz, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/19/2012
This week marks the second anniversary of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. There is nothing to celebrate. With every new rule concocted by one of the 11 federal agencies involved, the flaws of the statute and its injurious costs to consumers have become glaringly, painfully apparent. Congress should devote Year Three of Dodd–Frank to remedies. The act is all too characteristic of “crisis” legislation—devoid of reasoned analysis and thoughtful consideration. In ways both big and small, Congress has grossly misdiagnosed the factors responsible for the financial crisis while ignoring primary culprits such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is urgent that lawmakers reverse the grave mistake that is Dodd–Frank so that a year from now, Americans are celebrating its demise rather than lamenting its anniversary.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Walter Lohman , John Fleming, Robert Warshaw, The Heritage FoundationWhite Paper, 07/19/2012
Asia is a study in contrasts. It is home to economic freedom and political liberty; it is also home to political instability and tyranny. Some of Asia’s borders are unsettled and volatile. And military budgets and capabilities are expanding, sometimes faster than economic growth. The rise of China as a great power presents both sides of this equation. It is being watched carefully by all the countries of the region. It is the U.S. that is recognized as the catalyst in ensuring a prosperous peace over conflict. America is a Pacific power. That much is a matter of geography and history. But the facts – and America’s principles and interests – demand more than resignation to geography. They call for continued American leadership, commitment, and the predominant comprehensive power that has enabled Asia’s very welcomed, opportunity-laden rise.
Health CareBy Kathryn Nix, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/19/2012
Many retired Americans believe that they have already paid for their Medicare benefits. Their benefits, though, are not funded by the payroll taxes they paid during their working years—but mostly by payroll tax revenues from current workers. As a result, the Medicare program faces huge structural deficits, and seniors face automatic benefit reductions in 2024—or working Americans will shoulder enormous tax increases—if reforms are not enacted. Medicare should move to a premium support model, and Congress must direct Medicare’s limited financial resources at those who need them most. Otherwise, Medicare’s current course is set for disaster. It is still possible to reverse this course, yet Congress must pursue rational reforms quickly.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Walter Lohman, William Jordan, Lewis Stern, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/19/2012
Despite the improving relationship between the U.S. and Vietnamese defense establishments, the strategic imperatives of the U.S. and Vietnam are developing in different ways at different speeds. Both countries have complex relationships with China and stakeholders who militate against strategic clarity on the most salient issue they face—the rise of Chinese power. The two countries have also prioritized objectives for U.S.–Vietnamese relations that cannot be met in the near term. The U.S. wants greater access to Vietnamese ports for its warships and Vietnam wants the U.S. to remove restrictions on arms sales. In light of this impasse, the U.S. should focus on building an ambitious program of defense cooperation with Vietnam that will lay the groundwork for a closer strategic relationship down the road.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Karen J. Lugo, Federalist SocietyEngage, 07/19/2012
This paper analyzes cases in which American courts and judicial systems in other countries have dealt with issues arising from marriages compliant with Sharia law. The purpose of this survey is to explore the nature of any conflict between the Sharia philosophy, lifestyle and the socio-religious Islamic presumptions, and American family law traditions. This article considers the challenges and potential results of evaluating Muslim family law practices in American family law courts. It is important to first contemplate the family structure, as the repository of cultural values, in respect to both Western and Islamic orientations. Next, it is helpful to consider the process of negotiating and solemnizing marriages when a secular law-based society asks of an insular, clerically-dictated system respect for individual rights to bargaining, contracting, dividing property, and sharing custody of children.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Michael Ennis, Washington Policy CenterKey Facts, 07/19/2012
New research released by Washington Policy Center, a non-partisan, public policy think tank with offices in Seattle, Olympia, Spokane and the Tri-Cities, provides key facts about the Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority (C-TRAN). The findings include double operating costs since 1996, employee compensation costs increased by 174%, C-TRAN’s share of wages on its total operating budget (78%) is now the highest of all urban transit agencies in Washington State, and cumulative capital expenses have amounted to more than $100 million since 1996. Out of serving an estimated 1.4 million person trips per day, C-TRAN serves only 1.6% of all daily person trip demand.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Jack Goldsmith, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/19/2012
George W. Bush’s counterterrorism initiatives were unthinkable on September 10, 2001. Many believe that his success came at an unacceptable cost to American legal traditions, and that he destroyed the constitutional separation of powers. Barack Obama continued almost all of his predecessor’s counterterrorism policies. The problem with the conventional wisdom about the expansion of presidential power is that it tells only half the story. The rest of the story is a remarkable revolution in wartime presidential accountability that checked and legitimated this growth in presidential power. The Constitution creates a system of that gives other institutions the motives and tools to counteract the President when they think he is too powerful, pursues the wrong policies, or acts illegally. Far from rolling over after 9/11, these institutions pushed back far harder against the Commander in Chief than in any other war in American history.
Economic GrowthBy John Hendrickson, Public Interest InstituteInstitute Brief, 07/19/2012
Thomas Sowell, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and noted economist, recently recommended that Republicans read Andrew Mellon’s book, Taxation: The People’s Business. Mellon, who served as Secretary of the Treasury during the Administrations of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover, outlined in his book a powerful argument for lower tax rates. Mellon believed in the importance of a balanced budget and paying off the national debt. These principles were the crucial economic pillars of the Republican Administrations of the 1920s, and it is these policies that need to be considered by policymakers today.
Budget & TaxationBy Deborah D. Thornton, Public Interest InstituteInstitute Brief, 07/19/2012
Outside of the Federal budget, the financial status of state governments is also of concern. Fortunately, state governments – by law – must officially balance their budgets. Though some states use a variety of budgeting and accounting gimmicks to do so, the Governors and Legislatures are hopefully more accountable. The Public Notice Project recently released a report titled “Bankrupting America,” which summarizes key state budget, tax, and economic information. This brief examines how Iowa is doing better than many, but not as well as some. Several of Iowa’s neighboring states are in fiscal trouble, such as South Dakota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Paul S. Atkins, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 07/18/2012
For more than 40 years, money-market mutual funds have helped businesses, states, and municipalities meet their financial needs by purchasing their short-term debt. But now, Washington bureaucrats threaten to impose major changes to the structure of these funds, supposedly to decrease risk in the financial system. Remarkably, the current discussion comes just two years after the Securities and Exchange Commission tightened credit standards, shortened maturities, and increased disclosure requirements for money-market mutual fund assets.
Economic GrowthBy John B. Taylor, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 07/18/2012
Burdened by slow growth and high unemployment—especially long-term unemployment—the American economy faces an uncertain future. We have endured a painful financial crisis and recession, the recovery from which has been nearly nonexistent. Federal debt is exploding and threatening our children and grandchildren. In my view, the reason for this predicament is clear: we have deviated from the principles of economic freedom upon which America was founded.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Horace Cooper, National Center for Public Policy ResearchNational Policy Analysis, 07/18/2012
For the media and opponents of ballot box protections to claim that over 750,000 Pennsylvania voters may not get to vote this November because they lack a driver’s license is alarmist and misrepresents the provisions of the new voter ID law. Weakening such identity protections would only play into the hands of those who mean to steal votes and improperly subvert the election process.
EducationBy Terry M. Moe, Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 07/18/2012
The structure of power that protected the educational status quo had traditionally been local superintendents, but they lost their preeminence when many states adopted laws to promote collective bargaining for teachers and other public sector workers. Technology could bring fundamental change, generating a wholesale transformation. Districts could begin offering their students more online options. It could become the greatest force for school choice in history. With the politics of blocking substantially weakened, the door would then be open to a broad range of reforms. Without union obstruction, the way would be paved for the design of more effective accountability systems. Technology would be a force of liberation, freeing policy makers from the unions’ iron grip, and allowing them to put children first.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/18/2012
Is it possible to retain some semblance of the balance of power between corporations and unions? Corporations and unions are organized under very different principles. Corporations are organizations that are formed by unanimous consent. Under current labor law the union election winners can bind the dissenters. Under basic California law, public unions work under what is known as an “agency shop.” Public employees are not allowed to avoid paying those expenses that are needed to govern the day-to-day activities of running a union. What accommodations does the First Amendment require? There is one modest way to duck the issue: These financial anomalies quickly disappear by getting rid of the agency shop altogether. No state entity should ever voluntarily cede collective bargaining rights to workers that will enable them to extract monopoly rents from the public at large.
EducationBy Koret Task Force, Hoover InstitutionBook, 07/18/2012
Washington is at crossroads on K–12 education policy. It can continue down the path of top-down accountability; devolve power to states and districts, thereby returning to the status quo of the last century; or rethink the fundamentals and do something different. The Koret Task Force on K–12 Education proposes a new path in which Washington releases states from top-down accountability in exchange for unleashing the ability of parents to engage in informed choices of schools for their children and by causing those choices to generate competitive pressures on the providers of education services. Under the proposed fiscal federalism model, the federal role is confined to what the federal government clearly does best and states and local entities focus on what they do best.
Budget & TaxationBy Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ike Brannon, American Action ForumStudies, 07/18/2012
The U.S. faces a $600 billion “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012 that includes a $440 billion tax increase and $108 billion in across-the-board spending cuts. Going over the fiscal cliff will likely result in a recession if the administration and Congress fail to act. Failing to extend the 2001-2003 tax cuts would not only increase taxes on every single taxpayer in the country but would also put millions of lower middle class households who are not currently paying taxes back on the tax rolls at a rate of fifteen percent, and restore the marriage penalty. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are especially sensitive to increases in marginal tax rates. The $600 billion negative fiscal shock would likely constitute the final nail in the coffin of the tepid economic expansion the U.S. economy has experienced in the past three years.
Economic GrowthBy Mark Harrison, Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 07/18/2012
The economist David Henderson coined the phrase “do-it-yourself economics.” In the world of DIY economics, public spending and exports are good because they create jobs; factories that produce things are more deserving of support than offices that produce intangible services; cheap goods made by foreigners threaten our jobs; and whatever is wrong, it is the government’s duty to do something. It would seem that if beliefs based on DIY economics lead people to make false inferences about cause and effect, then they ought to learn from these mistakes. This doesn’t seem to happen. One reason is that causal chains are often so long and complex that effects are far removed from causes in time and space. Related to this, the data don’t perfectly discriminate between false beliefs and true ones, and as a result even the professionals can’t agree on how the world works.
Budget & TaxationBy Nick Kasprak, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 07/17/2012
President Obama’s proposal to let the Bush tax cuts expire for married taxpayers making over $250,000 and single taxpayers making over $200,000 sounds simple enough. If you make less than those amounts, nothing changes; if you make more, you pay the old Clinton-era tax rates. Right? As with anything related to the federal income tax code, things are much more complicated than they seem. This analysis includes the tax brackets under the Bush tax cuts, current policy and President Obama’s proposal of the $250,000 threshold.
National SecurityBy Robert Poole, Reason FoundationTestimony, 07/17/2012
This testimony to the Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security focuses on two recommendations for improving airport screening. The most urgent one is to further reform the current Screening Partnership Program so that the airport, not the Transportation Security Administration, selects the contractor, and therefore selecting the best-value proposal from TSA-certified contractors. The airport, not TSA, manages the contract, under TSA’s overall regulatory oversight of all security activities at the airport in question. The second recommendation is the revision of the ATSA legislation to give responsibility for passenger and baggage screening to individual airports as part of their overall security program. Airports would have the option of either hiring a qualified screener workforce or contracting with a TSA-certified security firm. This change would produce greater accountability for screening performance and would also bring the United States into full conformity with ICAO regulations.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Antos, Michael R. Strain, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 07/17/2012
Though the individual mandate imposes a tax on people who do not purchase government-approved health insurance, the law neuters the IRS’s ability to collect the tax. First, the tax is too small to matter to the people who are its target. Second, the law counts on most of the scofflaws turning themselves in. If you do not have insurance and think you owe the tax, then you will be asked to check a box to that effect. Third, the law requires the IRS to sift through 140 million tax returns to track down the few scofflaws who are actually liable. Finally, the IRS has very limited ability to force you to pay. Congress purposely limited the enforcement powers of the IRS to avoid the public outcry that a strong mandate to buy government-approved insurance would evoke.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Randal O’Toole, National Center for Policy AnalysisIssue Brief, 07/17/2012
Compared with driving, rail transit is slow, inconvenient and expensive. Although some rail lines may bypass congested roads, most people do not live and work right next to rail stations or transit stops, meaning door-to-door travel time for transit tends to be far longer than for driving. The solution, say transit advocates, is to rebuild American cities to higher densities so more people can live and work close to transit stops. This means a higher percentage of people will have to live in multifamily housing instead of single-family homes. Planners in Portland, Oregon, for example, have set a target of reducing the number of households living in single-family homes from 65 percent to 41 percent. Even if this goal could be achieved, the benefits are questionable and the costs would be high. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, transit is not more environmentally friendly than automobiles, and when all subsidies are counted, it actually costs several times more per passenger mile than driving.
National SecurityBy Christopher Ford, Hudson InstituteSpeech, 07/17/2012
Is there a reason to throw out the idea of nuclear deterrence, the foundation of the nuclear security architecture with which so many have lived for so long? We should be wary of revisionist reexamination of what seems to have worked for so long, especially when the evidence for a contrary view is so scant. That said, it is not entirely clear how relevant the Cold War experience with nuclear deterrence really is today. The subjectivity of deterrence provides a powerful reason to limit the number of “players” in the nuclear game. There certainly seems to be a vastly stronger case for nuclear deterrence than for the proposition that the entire concept has always been fantastical.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David G. Tuerck, Paul Bachman, Michael Head, Kansas Policy InstitutePolicy Study, 07/17/2012
The Beacon Hill Institute has applied its State Tax Analysis Modeling Program to estimate the economic effects of Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandates enacted under former Governor Kathleen Sebelius. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a division of the Department of Energy, provides optimistic estimates of renewable electricity costs and capacity factors. This study bases our estimates on EIA projections, but we also provide three estimates of the cost of Kansas’s RPS. Major findings show that the Kansas RPS law will raise the cost of electricity by $644 million for the state’s consumers through Kansas’ electricity prices will rise 45 percent by 2020. These increased energy prices will hurt Kansas’ households and businesses and, in turn, inflict significant harm on the state economy. In 2020, the RPS will lower employment by an average of 12,110 jobs, and reduce real disposable income by $1.483 billion. It will also decrease investment by $191 million.
Budget & TaxationBy Hanns Kuttner, Hudson InstituteResearch Papers, 07/16/2012
Current federal policy on state sales taxes yields a distortion. The result is prices and pairing up of buyers and sellers that differ from the free market result. These distortions mean a loss of economic efficiency. Goods move more. Consumers respond to differences in price based on tax differences, not differences in how efficiently goods and services can be produced. These differences create a deadweight loss that burdens the economy. Many tools could be put to use to implement approaches that would make the future marketplace a fair one in which tax policy does not distort sales away from the most efficient location.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Mark P. Mills, Manhattan InstitutePolicy Report, 07/16/2012
The United States, Canada, and Mexico are abundant in hydrocarbon resources of oil, natural gas, and coal. The total North American hydrocarbon resource base is more than four times greater than all the resources extant in the Middle East. The United States alone is now the fastest-growing producer of oil and natural gas in the world and recent growth in hydrocarbons production has already generated hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in local tax receipts. Jobs related to extraction, transport, and trade of hydrocarbons can awaken the United States from its economic doldrums and produce revenue such that key national needs can be met—including renewal of infrastructure and investment in scientific research. There will doubtless be objections to the idea of a radical shift in policies and attitudes toward hydrocarbons. But the benefits to the U.S. are so dramatic and important that abandoning them without serious policy deliberations would be unconscionable.
Budget & TaxationBy Emily Goff, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/16/2012
The Senate recently passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, which repeals a set of wasteful and antiquated commodity programs. Yet it supplants those program cuts with a costly new subsidy—the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program. The House draft farm bill also gets rid of the so-called direct payments and replaces them with a similar new subsidy. The Senate bill’s new subsidy program, also called “shallow loss,” would provide yet another layer of subsidized insurance to farmers. It would further drain the pockets of taxpayers and consumers and harm international trade. At a time of tight budgets and record high crop prices and farm revenue, it is especially poor policy and irresponsible budgeting to expand the already lavish safety net.
National SecurityBy Luke Coffey, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 07/16/2012
As part of a policy that is shrinking America’s military presence in the world, the Obama Administration’s recent defense cuts heavily impact the U.S. military footprint in Europe. These cuts are sending the wrong signal on America’s commitment to transatlantic security and will embolden U.S. adversaries in the Euro–Atlantic region. Most importantly, the cuts will reduce the ability and flexibility of the U.S. to react to the unexpected in Eurasia and the Middle East.
Health CareBy Nina Owcharenko, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/16/2012
If the Administration’s attempt to centralize health care decision making in Washington was unworkable, its unconstitutional imposition on the states has made its problems even worse. Long before the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Medicaid mandate on the states as unconstitutionally coercive, opponents of the health care law argued that it would be financially unsustainable and administratively unworkable. The Court’s decision likely puts the law on a faster pace to collapse. Under the law’s unconstitutional Medicaid expansion, states would have been required to expand their Medicaid program to cover all individuals up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) or risk losing all of their federal Medicaid funds. As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, a state can choose not to expand its Medicaid program and no longer risk losing their existing federal Medicaid funds. In essence, the ruling makes the Medicaid expansion voluntary.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy J.D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationBackground Paper, 07/16/2012
The Federal Reserve recently renewed efforts to strengthen the U.S. economy through Operation Twist, under which it sells short-term securities and buys long-term securities. The Fed is responding to weak U.S. jobs growth and the evident ineffectiveness of President Obama’s economic policies. The “twist” policy has little prospect of helping the economy, while adding more harmful uncertainty to markets. Down the road, as interest rates rise again, the policy means the Fed will be at risk of losing significant sums on its investments, further burdening the federal budget and the taxpayer. Once a robust recovery is underway, the Fed may also find it hard to unwind its positions in long-term securities without seriously undercutting the recovery.
National SecurityBy Steven Bucci, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/16/2012
The Heritage Foundation has previously written on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, authored by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I–CT) and Susan Collins (R–ME), but additional analysis of Senator John McCain’s (R–AZ) Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act of 2012 (SECURE IT) is needed. SECURE IT relies on stronger cybersecurity information sharing than the Lieberman–Collins bill and also rejects potentially costly regulations. Information sharing costs almost nothing and is something that both parties can agree on. Furthermore, information sharing is a continuous and regular process that helps private companies and the federal government keep up with constantly changing cyber threats.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Russell A. Berman, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/16/2012
For American Europe-watchers, the political maneuvering on the continent in response to the economic crises of the Eurozone is reminiscent of the two-party narratives of U.S. domestic policy. The conflict between the Republican desire to balance the budget, on the one hand, and the Democratic habit of Keynesian deficit spending, on the other, maps easily onto the European drama playing out between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and nearly everyone else. The predisposition to read Europe through American eyes is understandable but inaccurate. The American refusal to recognize the cultural complexities within Europe is the price it pays for an education system that minimizes the opportunities students have to study other languages, cultures, and histories. We therefore end up with a political system that demeans American politicians for speaking other languages. No wonder we misunderstand the European crisis.
EducationBy Terry Stoops, John Locke FoundationPolicy Report, 07/16/2012
Private, charter, and home schools continue to be popular in many states, including North Carolina. This popularity, however, has not produced a significant enrollment shift from district schools to schools of choice – private, charter, or home schools. North Carolina and nine other states had a net increase in the percentage of students attending a school of choice between 2001 and 2010, but statewide market share increases were trivial. School choice reformers must continue their praiseworthy efforts to expand educational options for families. They must also recognize that the traditional public school system will remain the primary provider of schooling for most families.
Information TechnologyBy Seth L. Cooper, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 07/16/2012
Restrictions on video services premised on early 1990s assumptions about competition and technology impose compliance costs that are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. They also limit the flexibility and innovative capabilities of multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to provide new services. But there is yet another downside to over-regulating video services. In several respects the analog-era video regulation regime burdens constitutionally protected free speech for digital-era MVPDs. Replacing last century’s restrictions on the video market with greater reliance on free market forces will promote a more competitive and convergent space for video competition in the 21st Century. Just as importantly, in order to conform to recognized rule of law norms, a free market future for video will require that First Amendment protections be respected for all technology platforms.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Peter J. Nelson, Center of the American ExperimentPolicy in Detail, 07/16/2012
The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Minnesota to strike the Voter ID constitutional amendment question from the ballot. Two old cases from the turn of the twentieth century clearly show that the Legislature is free to write ballot questions just about however it wants. The only legal standard is that the question “must not be so unreasonable and misleading as to be a palpable evasion of the constitutional requirement to submit the law to a popular vote.” Ultimately, longstanding Minnesota Supreme Court precedent grants the Legislature broad discretion in proposing a constitutional amendment and nothing in the petitioners’ brief presents the Court with the clear evidence and rationale they would need to justify a dramatic decision to overturn the will of the Legislature.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 07/16/2012
The global financial picture continues to look bleak, with major current disruptions in the United States, Europe, and China that demonstrate a troubling overall pattern of weak recoveries and rolling crises. Boom-and-bust examples from Japan and China over the last forty years show how overinvestment can result in financial bubbles. When the bubbles burst, investors are pushed into less-risky assets that reflect a transition away from wealth enhancement to wealth preservation that complicates a much-needed return to economic equilibrium. Sound currency policy, including more exchange rate flexibility for rapidly growing economies, can help mitigate asset bubbles and financial crises that are hampering global growth.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Alabama Policy Institute, Alabama Policy InstituteGuide to the Issues, 07/16/2012
When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was asked what document emerging democracies should look to in drafting a constitution, she pointed to the 1997 constitution of South Africa, rather than the United States’ Constitution. In contrast to the U.S. Constitution, that document includes positive rights, for example, stipulating that citizens have the right to adequate housing. Understanding the difference between “negative” and “positive” rights is integral to comprehending the federal government’s deviation from the nature and bounds of the Constitution. In the modern setting, where individuals claim “rights” to just about every aspect of life, citizens have an obligation to understand the difference in the guarantees of the Constitution and the wishful promises of politicians who have limited abilities and resources to actually deliver the rights they aim to provide.