Sign Up For Our Mailing Lists

InsiderOnline Blog: May 2015

Competition Works—in Energy, Too

The idea that the production of shale oil would collapse if Saudi Arabia pursued a strategy of expanding production has been proven wrong, observes Mark Perry:

The Saudis assumed the $80 break-even price for U.S. shale was a firm floor. They further assumed that the American innovation and ingenuity that had suddenly turned shale rock — long deemed unproductive — into the source of an energy revolution, was complete. They assumed wrong. […]

For the shale producers, the fall in prices was a shock, but then came the response. Spending on new production was reined in. Contracts were renegotiated with oil service companies, reducing the cost of equipment, and only the best drilling and fracking crews were retained.

Statoil, for example, reported that just in a few months it cut its drilling time for new wells in Texas’ Eagle Ford formation from 21 days to 17. That kind of efficiency gain has helped “petropreneurs” reduce the cost of drilling wells from $4.5 million to $3.5 million.

Other companies are experimenting with new fracking fluids and different types of sand to create better shale-rock fractures. Some are effectively incorporating Big Data to better understand the sweet spots of geologic formations and optimal well-spacing to increase productivity.

The result is a rapid decline in the break-even price across shale plays. Already, analysts believe it is now $60 per barrel and before long will fall to $50.

Goldman Sachs now predicts that prices will likely hold at $50 for at least the next five years. Shale efficiency and innovation have created a new ceiling for the price of oil. This certainly was not the Saudis’ aim. [Investor’s Business Daily, March 26]

Posted on 05/30/15 12:20 AM by Alex Adrianson

Visualizing the Regulatory State

[Mercatus Center, April 1]

At this point, they’d have to cut almost all of the Code of Federal Regulations just to make it Kafkaesque.

Posted on 05/29/15 11:48 PM by Alex Adrianson

Who Needs Businesses Clamoring to Make Better Products When You’re Trying to Help People?

Remy sends up Bernie Sanders’s plan to solve poverty:

Posted on 05/29/15 11:20 PM by Alex Adrianson

Speaking of Protection Rackets

Don Boudreaux here captures the zeitgeist of current commentary on the political class:

We humans have a remarkable ability to adjust our expectations to reality. Overall, this ability serves us well. When serious illness strikes or when we suffer an unexpected downturn in our financial prospects, most of us don’t collapse into a state of pathetic helplessness; after the initial shock, we spring into action to deal with the situation as best as we can.

This capacity to adjust our expectations to prevailing reality, though, serves us poorly when it comes to politics. Political reality is full of politicians who refuse to take principled stands out of fear that doing so will lose them votes, or who dissemble and even lie in efforts to bolster their prospects at the polls. Yet because such unprincipled behavior and deceit are so commonly practiced by politicians, we’ve grown accustomed to reprehensible behavior by politicians and accept it as being simply a feature that we must tolerate.

An irony that would be comical if its consequences weren’t so dire is that government’s power expands as voters demand that politicians protect them from being deceived and cheated in private markets. Ponder this strange fact: Politicians whose deceptions in elections are readily tolerated are asked by voters to police against possible deceptions by entrepreneurs in private markets. It’s like asking the brute who just robbed you at gunpoint to serve as your personal bodyguard. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 26]

Posted on 05/29/15 11:09 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Union Protection Racket

The unions that have been pushing for raising the minimum wage in cities around the country now want exemptions to those laws for business that are organized by unions. That serves the unions, but not the workers, explains Diana Furchtgott-Roth:

Although the union-funded Raise the Wage campaigned so vociferously in favor of a $15.25 minimum wage, unions are seeking exemptions from the higher wages for their members. The exemption, or escape clause, would allow them greater strength in organizing workplaces. Unions can tell fast food chains, hotels, and hospitals that if they agree to union representation, their wage bill will be substantially lower. That will persuade employers to allow the unions to move in.

One of the leaders of the Raise the Wage coalition, Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, stated, “With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them. This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Everyone wants to “negotiate an agreement that works for them both,” in Hicks’s words. Teens that need summer jobs would like to work out such agreements, as Meyer and I show in our new book, Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young, so they can get their foot on the first rung of the career ladder. But unions are only in favor of exemptions for organized labor.

Once the higher minimum wage bill is signed into law, with the exemption for unions, then organizing becomes a win-win for employers and unions. Unions get initiation fees of about $50 per worker and a stream of dues totaling 2 percent to 4 percent of the workers’ paychecks. Employers get a lower wage bill.

The losers in this scheme are employees, who have to pay union dues out of their paychecks. Jobs become more scarce as wage levels rise and some less-skilled workers become unemployed. [Economics 21, May 28]

Posted on 05/29/15 10:57 PM by Alex Adrianson

EPA Power Grab

How much regulatory power will the granted by the “Waters of the United States” rule that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have recently proposed? Daren Bakst has written of the rule:

[The] proposal could cover almost any type of water. Almost all ditches, including man-made ditches, could be regulated. Depressions in land that only sometimes have water in them could be deemed a tributary and covered under the rule, even if the depression is bone-dry almost every day of the year. […]

Under the Clean Water Act, property owners are often required to obtain costly and time-consuming permits if engaging in activities that affect jurisdictional waters. We’re not talking toxic waste disposal being required to trigger the need for a permit. The statute would even prohibit actions that cause absolutely no environmental harm. For example, someone might need a permit for kicking some sand into a jurisdictional water. [Daily Signal, May 16]

The EPA’s own set of water inventory maps that it released last year (under pressure from Congress) provides a visual representation of the extent of control the EPA would have over economic activity. Rob Port, reporting on the opposition to the rule by North Dakota’s congressional delegation, notes the EPA’s map for Idaho: “Lakes are in dark blue. Streams and rivers are in light blue. Intermittent bodies of water are in yellow. Obviously, all that yellow is a concern.”

[SayAnythingBlog, May 27]

Posted on 05/29/15 10:40 PM by Alex Adrianson

To Do: Celebrate the Magna Carta

• Celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the “Great Charter of Liberties” that limited the power of the English Crown. To mark the occasion, the Cato Institute will host a short conference on the Magna Carta’s influence on the development of the rule of law around the world. The conference will begin at 9 a.m. on June 4. [Cato Institute]

• Students, get ready to learn the ethical and economic principles of a free society. The Independent Institute still has spaces available for its upcoming Challenge of Liberty Seminars. One session will be held June 8 – 12 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Another session will be held July 6 – 10 at the University of California at Berkeley. The program will take applications until the slots are filled. Get your applications in. [Independent Institute]

• Assess the capabilities of Iran’s missile program. A panel at the Hudson Institute will discuss the extent of Iran’s missile program and its relationship to its nuclear program. The discussion will begin at 10:15 a.m. on June 2. [Hudson Institute]

• Name a subsidized sports stadium. In its weekly contest, Reason has challenged readers to come up with a stadium name that reflects the taxpayer-funded model of stadium financing. (Seems to us the Cleveland Indians have already come up with a good entry: They named their stadium Progressive Field in 2008.) Send your entries to with “STADIUM” in the subject line by 11 p.m. ET, May 31. [Reason, May 29]

• Have some laughs while helping the Center of the American Experiment celebrate its 25th anniversary of battling for liberty in Minnesota. The Center will host its annual dinner on June 2, beginning with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton Minneapolis. Keynote speaker: P.J. O’Rourke. [Center of the American Experiment]

• Learn what life after combat is like for American soldiers. The Heritage Foundation and National Review will host a screening of the documentary The Last Patrol. The film follows four veterans who decide to honor a fallen friend by taking a 300-mile march from Washington, D.C., to Pennsylvania. The screening will begin at 6 p.m. on June 4 at The Heritage Foundation. [The Heritage Foundation]

• Figure out if citizens in a free society have a right to privacy in charitable giving. That question will be debated by James Huffman, Dean Emeritus of Lewis & Clark Law School, and Dan Meek, a public interest lawyer based in Oregon. The event, hosted by the Cascade Institute, will begin at 7 p.m. on June 1 at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Ore. [Cascade Institute]

• Examine the state of drone traffic in the United States. Tyler Collins will talk about the safety issues that will arise when 30,000 drones are flying over the United States at once. Collins’s talk will begin at noon on June 1 at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C. [John Locke Foundation]

Posted on 05/29/15 10:01 PM by Alex Adrianson

If Collecting Metadata Is a Problem …

There’s been a lot of discussion lately on whether government collection of telephone metadata violates civil liberties. As Congress considers reform options, here’s a reminder that the government has been perpetrating a much more intrusive data collection scheme since the 1970s, one for which there isn’t even a national security justification:

Posted on 05/29/15 02:09 PM by Alex Adrianson

Jack Templeton, R.I.P.

Jack Templeton died last Saturday at the age of 75. Under his direction, the Templeton Foundation, founded by his father, John, became one of the biggest givers to efforts to promote free enterprise and liberty around the world. Alejandro Chafuen remembers how Templeton’s curiosity about the big questions in life guided his philanthropic work:

His vision of freedom was inspired by that of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Dr. Templeton was convinced that having a good understanding of human nature is an essential aspect of all social sciences and the best guide for public policy. In promoting free enterprise and the principles of the free society, he quoted the Founding Fathers more than the great classical liberal economists. He found that, except for Adam Smith, especially in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, the vision of the human being promoted by free-market economists tends to be very limited and narrow. The drama, the conflict, the potential for evil as well as for good moral acts, the role of passion, as well as the relevance of virtues and vices, tends to get lost in simplistic arguments and in a “know it all” attitude.

He noted that during the periods when free enterprise developed and became respected as the road to prosperity, the focus of writers, such as the Founding Fathers, was on human freedom rather than on capital. Is the current decline of economic freedom and the rule of law in the United States rooted in a misunderstanding of human nature? This and other Big Questions fascinated Dr. Templeton. The motto of the foundation he led is “how little we know, how eager to learn.” It was natural for him to have an eagerness to ask big questions as a path to new knowledge. Those who were not aware of this were usually intimidated or surprised by his queries. Dr. Edwin J. Feulner, former president of the Heritage Foundation, recently remarked that, in meeting with him, “when some of us thought we had a chance to speak about our projects he would change topics and ask us: are humans inherently good?” [Forbes, May 19]

Posted on 05/22/15 08:32 PM by Alex Adrianson

Jobs Are Not at Risk in Export-Import Bank Battle

The idea that not extending the Export-Import Bank will lead to American job losses is nothing more than fear mongering. The chart below shows that the companies benefiting from Export-Import bank financing have backlogs of orders that will take years to fill and dwarf the benefit they receive from Export-Import Bank financing.

This chart was produced by Veronique de Rugy and Diane Katz, who write:

The expiration of the Ex-Im Bank charter will have no effect—none—on the financing of deals that already have been approved. The bank will simply be unable to extend new loans, which would be a win for taxpayers who are ultimately on the hook for a total of $140 billion if bank reserves fail to cover defaults.

Absent subsidies from the Ex-Im Bank, these corporations have production backlogs that will take years to fulfill—some with Ex-Im Bank financing in place and others without. This means that shutting down the Ex-Im Bank will not result in job losses—except, perhaps, among the ranks of lobbyists who are trying to scare members of Congress into maintaining this fount of corporate welfare. [Mercatus Center, May 21]

Posted on 05/22/15 08:05 PM by Alex Adrianson

Toolkit: Don’t Get Stuck in Your Booth

If you’re like us, you attend a few conferences every year; and when you do it usually involves manning a booth to promote your organization’s work. As Amy Armstrong points out, however, there are things you can do outside the booth space to promote your organization. Here is one idea:

Talk to your marketing staff to create a company app that is either company-related or tied into the trade show or event at which you are exhibiting. At the very least, be sure to promote using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. All of these platforms are great for live updates during the show. LinkedIn and Twitter are proven to be the best social media platforms to promote yourself while at the event, so don’t let them be silent. LinkedIn is a great way to get professional attention!

For more ideas, see Armstrong’s article “Think Outside the Box! 5 Ways to Promote Beyond Your Booth Space.” [Skyline Trade Show Tips, April 2]

Posted on 05/22/15 07:52 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Export-Import Bank Is Corporate Welfare

Daniel Ikenson:

U.S. trade promotion agencies are in the business of promoting exports, not trade in the more inclusive sense. That is worth noting because despite some of the wrongheaded mercantilist assumptions undergirding U.S. trade policy—that exports are good and imports are bad—the fact is that the real benefits of trade are transmitted through imports, not through exports.

In keeping with the conventional wisdom, in January 2010 President Obama set a national goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years. Prominent in the plan was a larger role for government in promoting exports, including expanded nonmarket lending programs to finance export activity, an increase in the number of the Commerce Department’s foreign outposts to promote U.S. business, and an increase in federal agency-chaperoned marketing trips.

But the [National Export Initiative] neglected a broad swath of worthy reforms by ignoring the domestic laws, regulations, taxes, and other policies that handicap U.S. businesses in their competition for sales in the U.S. market and abroad. For example, nearly 60 percent of the value of U.S. imports in 2014 consisted of intermediate goods, capital goods, and other raw materials—the purchases of U.S. businesses, not consumers. Yet, many of those imports are subject to customs duties, which raise the cost of production for the U.S.-based companies that need them, making them less competitive at home and abroad. U.S. duties on products like sugar, steel, magnesium, polyvinyl chloride, and other crucial manufacturing inputs have chased companies to foreign shores—where those inputs are less expensive—and deterred foreign companies from setting up shop stateside.

Policymakers should stop conflating the interests of exporters with the national interest and commit to policies that reduce frictions throughout the supply chain—from product conception to consumption. Why should U.S. taxpayers underwrite—and U.S. policymakers promote—the interests of exporters, anyway, when the benefits of those efforts accrue, primarily, to the shareholders of the companies enjoying the subsidized marketing or matchmaking? There is no national ownership of private export revenues. [Cato Institute, May 22]

Posted on 05/22/15 07:35 PM by Alex Adrianson

Kasparov on the Importance of Always Having a Goal

Garry Kasparov tells St. Louis University’s class of 2015 how he became a chess champion and then a champion of human rights and democracy around the world:

Posted on 05/22/15 07:34 PM by Alex Adrianson

To Do: Discover What’s at Stake in the Iran Deal

• Assess President Obama’s proposed deal with Iran. Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University will give a talk on the potential consequences of a deal that removes all nuclear sanctions against Iran within 15 years. Inbar will speak at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., at noon on May 26. [Hudson Institute]

• Celebrate the America’s Future Foundation’s work building the liberty movement. This year’s AFF Gala will commemorate the organization’s 20th anniversary. The festivities will begin at noon on May 27 with a luncheon followed by a conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The gala will begin at 7 p.m. at the Reagan International Building. [America’s Future Foundation]

• Find out what the Conservatives’ victory means for economic policy in the United Kingdom. A panel at The Heritage Foundation will look at Britain’s options on European Union relations, austerity, financial regulation, and other issues. The discussion will begin at 11 a.m. on May 28. [The Heritage Foundation]

• Examine the potential of online medical care. A panel at the Cato Institute will look at the regulatory barriers that hinder telemedicine. The discussion will begin at noon on May 28. [Cato Institute]

• Remember those who sacrificed to preserve our freedom. Memorial Day is Monday, May 25.

Posted on 05/22/15 06:48 PM by Alex Adrianson

Remember Those Who Sacrificed to Keep Us Free

Tony LoBianco performs a poem in tribute to American soldiers:

If you like this video, consider taking a moment to visit The producers of the video would like to reach 21 million views by Veterans Day, November 11—to match the estimated 21 million living veterans.

Posted on 05/21/15 03:39 PM by Alex Adrianson

Corruption in Export-Import Bank Lending

The Export-Import Bank provides taxpayer-supported financing that benefits big corporations. Not only that, some of that financing is obtained fraudulently. Here is a look at how much fraud is going on in the Export-Import Bank:

Posted on 05/21/15 12:57 PM by Alex Adrianson

To Do: Learn What’s Next for Britain

• Assess the state of freedom in the United Kingdom. A panel discussion at the Cato Institute will look at Britain following reelection of Prime Minister David Cameron. The discussion will begin at 11 a.m. on May 20. [Cato Institute]

• Hear the story of one family’s search for the truth about their son’s fate in battle at Normandy in 1944. The Heritage Foundation and National Review will host a screening of the documentary, Honoring a Commitment. The screening will begin at 4 p.m. on May 21 at The Heritage Foundation. [The Heritage Foundation]

• Examine what fracking has to do, if anything, with earthquakes in Dallas. The Institute for Policy Innovation will host a talk by geologist Craig D. Pollard. Pollard will speak at noon on May 19 at IPI headquarters in Irving, Texas. [Institute for Policy Innovation]

• Hear a Brit’s take on how to meld conservative and libertarian ideas into a winning movement. The John Locke Institute will host Charles C. W. Cooke discussing his new book The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future. Cooke’s talk will begin at noon on May 18 at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C. [John Locke Foundation]

• Find out what Michigan needs to do to fix its civil asset forfeiture laws. The Mackinac Center will host a panel discussion beginning at 11:30 a.m. on May 20 in rooms 402 & 403 of the state Capital Building in Lansing, Michigan. [Mackinac Center for Public Policy]

• Discover whether focusing on learning rather than time spent in class is the way to fix American higher education. A panel at the American Enterprise Institute will examine a new approach called competency-based education. The event will begin at 3:15 p.m. on May 21. [American Enterprise Institute]

Posted on 05/16/15 02:11 AM by Alex Adrianson

Americans Are Voting with Their Feet for Red States

The chart above is from a new report by Stephen Moore, Arthur Laffer, and Joel Griffith, who write:

The nine zero-income-tax states gained an average of 3.7 percent of their population from domestic in-migration from 2003 to 2013, while the highest-income-tax states lost an average of 2.0 percent of their population during the same period. Overall, population growth on an equally weighted basis from 2003 to 2013 was twice as high in the low-income-tax states. In terms of raw population, the nine zero-income-tax states in total gained an average of 830 people per day from domestic migration throughout 2004–2013; meanwhile, the nine highest personal income tax states in total lost an average of 944 people per day from domestic migration. [Internal citations omitted.] [“1,000 People a Day: Why Red States Are Getting Richer and Blue States Poorer,” by Stephen Moore, Arthur B. Laffer, and Joel Griffith, The Heritage Foundation, May 5]

Posted on 05/16/15 01:24 AM by Alex Adrianson

U.S. Federal Regulation Consumes More than India

Government regulations are a hidden tax on the economy. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual Ten Thousand Commandments report, written by Clyde Wayne Crews, helps makes those costs more transparent. Some highlights:

Federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.

If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking behind Russia and ahead of India.

Economy-wide regulatory costs amount to an average of $14,976 per household – around 29 percent of an average family budget of $51,100. Although not paid directly by individuals, this “cost” of regulation exceeds the amount an average family spends on health care, food and transportation.

The “Unconstitutionality Index” is the ratio of regulations issued by unelected agency officials compared to legislation enacted by Congress in a given year. In 2014, agencies issued 16 new regulations for every law—that’s 3,554 new regulations compared to 224 new laws.

Many Americans complain about taxes, but regulatory compliance costs exceed what the IRS is expected to collect in both individual and corporate income taxes for last year—by more than $160 billion. [“Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, 2015 Edition,” by Clyde Wayne Crews, Competitive Enterprise Institute, May 12]

And here is a look at how the current administration has added to the regulatory state:

[“Red Tape Rising: Six Years of Escalating Regulation Under Obama,” by James L. Gattuso and Diane Katz, The Heritage Foundation, May 11]

Posted on 05/16/15 01:07 AM by Alex Adrianson

User Fees Fund Safety; Politicians Fund Shiny Objects

Politics may indeed be a problem for the upkeep of our infrastructure, but the villain is probably not who the media thinks it is. Randall O’Toole:

The reason for this is that politicians prefer to spend money building new infrastructure over maintaining the old. The result is that existing infrastructure that depends on tax dollars steadily declines while any new funds raised for infrastructure tend to go to new projects.

We can see this in the Boston, Washington, and other rail transit systems. Boston’s system is $9 billion in debt, has a $3 billion maintenance backlog, and needs to spend nearly $700 million a year just to keep the backlog from growing. Yet has only budgeted $100 million for maintenance this year, and instead of repairing the existing system, Boston is spending $2 billion extending one of its light-rail lines.

Similarly, Washington’s Metro rail system has a $10 billion maintenance backlog, and poor maintenance was the cause of the 2009 wreck that killed nine people. Yet, rather than rehabilitate their portions of the system, Northern Virginia is spending $6.8 billion building a new rail line to Dulles Airport; D.C. wants to spend $1 billion on new streetcar lines; and Maryland is considering building a $2.5 billion light-rail line in D.C. suburbs.

On the other hand, infrastructure that is funded out of user fees is generally in good shape. Despite tales of crumbling bridges, the 2007 Minnesota bridge collapse was due to a construction flaw and the 2013 Washington state bridge collapse was due to an oversized truck; lack of maintenance had nothing to do with either failure.

Department of Transportation numbers show that the number of bridges considered structurally deficient has fallen by more than 50 percent since 1990, while the average roughness of highway pavement has decreased. State highways and bridges, which are almost entirely funded out of user fees, tend to be in the best condition while local highways and bridges, which depend more on tax dollars, tend to be the ones with the most serious problems. [Cato Institute, May 13]

Posted on 05/16/15 12:38 AM by Alex Adrianson

Conservative Leaders Talk Federalism, Accountability, and Innovation at Resource Bank 2015

Last week we went to the other Washington for The Heritage Foundation’s annual Resource Bank meeting. We were in Bellevue, which is right next to Seattle. The theme of this year’s event was “Out of Bounds and Out of Control: Time to Bring Government Closer to Home.” Here are a few of the things we learned from the speakers and the discussions:

Some states have leaders who are willing to say no to the federal government—for example Maine, Oklahoma, and Utah. Maine Governor Paul LePage, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruit, and Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes discussed how their states are resisting federal control and charting their own course in health care, welfare reform, and land use.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is giving students the information they need to choose a good college—something beyond school reputation. They are answering the question: What Will They Learn? ACTA’s grades 1,100 colleges and universities based on whether they require coursework in seven core subjects: composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and natural or physical science. For their good work, ACTA received The Salvatori Prize in American Citizenship at the annual Krieble Dinner last Thursday.

[Photo from The Daily Signal, May 7]

Some good news in the fight against Common Core: States have been withdrawing from the consortia working on Common Core. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is particularly vulnerable, having declined from 26 member states to 11. A few more states withdrawing could make the consortia unviable.

The threat that Common Core poses to basic education can be seen in the recent changes to the Advanced Placement U.S. History Test. At a panel on stopping bad education policy, Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center explained how the College Board has revamped the test to reflect a Leftist version of U.S. history—downplaying America’s virtues and emphasizing its sins. The federal government, meanwhile, has incentivized schools to offer AP history. The solution, says Kurtz, is to break the College Board’s monopoly in AP history testing. Kurtz has developed both an alternative test and model state legislation that would allow schools to choose different tests. If you are interested in working with Kurtz to get such legislation considered by your state legislature, you should contact him at

Abortionist Kermit Gosnell is the most prolific serial killer in American history, but almost no one knows that fact because conservatives are not engaged in the culture. Liberals tell stories, while conservatives crunch numbers, explained Ann McElhinney. McElhinney and her husband Phelim McAleer are working hard to change that. They’ve made documentaries challenging the environmental movement on a number of topics, most recently on the facts about fracking (FrackNation). Their next project is to tell the story of Kermit Gosnell’s crimes. Andrew Klavan is writing the script and Nick Searcy is slated to direct.

Canada is a showcase for conservative reforms. Niels Veldhuis and Jason Clemens of the Fraser Institute talked about how Canada reversed course on fiscal policy in the 1990s. Canada closed its fiscal gap by cutting spending (real cuts) much more than raising taxes. Not only did the government move out of the red, but Canada’s economy has consistently outperformed the G7 since 1997. Canada has also reformed its welfare system and has a growing constituency for independent schooling.

Health care innovation is coming. Soon, explained Robert Graboyes of the Mercatus Center, we’ll be able to get diagnosed for $40 without leaving our homes, and we’ll have nanites that can eat leukemia in our blood and then dissolve. And we’ll get those and other good things sooner, said Graboyes, if we can get government out of health care. Key targets for reform, said Graboyes, should be the delays in drug development caused by Food and Drug Administration regulations, Medicare’s pricing setup, the hospital monopolies created by Certificate of Need laws, and the medical schools’ control of entry into the medical profession.

The supply side of education matters, too. School choice has achieved gains around the country, but in order for choice to really work, the suppliers—charter schools, private schools, online providers—need fewer regulatory constraints. At an education roundtable, Matt Ladner of the Foundation for Excellence in Education argued that Education Savings Accounts are probably the easier way forward for getting choice in education. A setup that lets families spend their share of education funding on a basket of education goods that they choose diffuses the imperative to regulate providers.

Posted on 05/15/15 11:52 PM by Alex Adrianson

States Are Preventing Competition in Hospitals

They do it with something called Certificate of Need Laws:

Posted on 05/15/15 10:42 AM by Alex Adrianson

Who Wins and Who Loses from Export Import Bank Lending?

The Export-Import Bank uses taxpayer money to finance foreign purchases of U.S. products. This graphic from the American Enterprise Institute explains who wins and who loses from that arrangement:

[American Enterprise Institute, May 11]

Posted on 05/13/15 03:57 PM by Alex Adrianson

The United States Is Not Keeping Its Commitments

President Obama’s pursuit of a deal with Iran is undermining our relationships with allies, says Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.): “This President is soft and soothing and supplicating towards dictators and adversaries but harsh and unyielding toward allies.”

Posted on 05/04/15 04:21 PM by Alex Adrianson

To Do: Learn from Your Conservative Allies

• Learn the best strategies and hear the winningest arguments for advancing conservative policies. The Heritage Foundation will hold its annual Resource Bank on May 6 - 8 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue in Bellevue, Wash. Steve Forbes, Victor Davis Hanson, rising stars, policy entrepreneurs, creative marketers, and donors who have helped build the conservative movement will be there. Topics will include the latest victories and reforms underway in tax, education, and welfare policy, as well as strategies to move forward on health care, telecom, and environmental policy. And you can learn from some of the best fundraising and marketing executives in the breakouts. [Resource Bank 2015]

• Find out whether forced disclosure of donor names threatens free speech. The Texas Public Policy Foundation will host a debate on Texas’s proposed disclosure laws for nonprofits. The debate will begin at 5 p.m. on May 5. [Texas Public Policy Foundation]

• Examine the potential of energy independence to trigger a transportation revolution. A conference at the Hudson Institute will discuss how new forms of fuel could lead to new technologies in vehicles. The conference will begin at 9 a.m. on May 7. [Hudson Institute]

• Help the Steamboat Institute promote conservative principles. The Institute is now accepting applications for its Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism. [Steamboat Institute]

• Honor religious liberty champion Barbara Green of Hobby Lobby. For her courage in fighting the contraception mandate, she’s been awarded the Becket Fund’s 2015 Canterbury Medal. The Canterbury Medal Dinner will be held at the Pierre Hotel in New York, beginning at 6 p.m. on May 7. [Becket Fund]

• Explore how World War II is taught in schools. The Pioneer Institute will host a panel discussion on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. The event will begin at 8 p.m. on May 4 at the Omni Parker House. [Pioneer Institute]

Posted on 05/01/15 07:33 PM by Alex Adrianson

Keeping Score: Iran Seizes Ship, Witch Hunts for Accusations of Witch Hunts, Some Faith Rights Wins

Policy news to note:

• Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm (D) suggested that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) could be prosecuted for defamation for saying that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm (D) has been using his office to conduct a political “witch hunt” against the supporters of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). [National Review, April 26]

• For the sixth time, the Supreme Court protected faith rights against contraception mandates. The Supreme Court ordered the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to reconsider its decision allowing the Internal Revenue Service to fine a group of Catholic ministries in Michigan for not providing insurance that includes contraceptives its coverage. [Becket Fund, April 27]

• Iran fired on and then seized a Marshall Islands-flagged container ship sailing through international waters in the Persian Gulf. Iran says it seized the ship in order to satisfy a legal claim it says it has over the owner of the cargo. Iran is now holding the ship and its crew in Iranian territorial waters. The United States has a treaty with the Marshall Islands that gives it the sole responsibility for the national defense of the Marshall Islands. So far, the U.S. response has been limited to sending U.S. warships to escort other container ships through the Straits of Hormuz. The United States and Iran, meanwhile, continue to negotiate the future of Iran’s nuclear program. [New York Times, April 30]

• Congressional negotiators reached agreement on a budget resolution that repeals ObamaCare. The House of Representatives passed the resolution on Thursday and the Senate will vote on it next week. If the Senate approves the measure, it will be the first budget Congress has passed in five years. [Daily Signal, April 30; The Hill, April 30]

• Arguing that the federal government has overreached, Oklahoma’s governor and legislature both moved to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rules in Oklahoma. Gov. Fallin (R) signed an executive order that prohibits state agencies from formulating state plans to meet EPA carbon emission targets; and instructs the Attorney General to consider actions to “enforce the rights of the state” against the order. The Oklahoma Senate, meanwhile, sent the governor a bill that would require additional reviews of any climate plan written by state agencies. [The Hill, April 30]

• Canadian regulators can no longer increase the regulatory burden from the rules they writes. They can still write new rules, but a new law requires them to eliminate an equivalent regulatory burden first. [Financial Post, April 24]

• The First Amendment still protects some speech rights—at least for now. The Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington, Ky., ruled that T-shirt maker Hands-On Originals did not violate Lexington’s fairness ordinance when it declined to print T-shirts with the words “Lexington Pride Festival” on them. [Lexington Herald Leader, April 27]

• The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on state authority to define what a marriage is. Justice Anthony Kennedy—widely considered the swing vote that will decide the case—asked the plaintiffs, who want marriage defined in genderless terms, to explain why they believe it is the Court’s job to overrule the voters and change a definition of marriage that has been operating for millennia; he also asked the states’ lawyer to explain how denying gay couples the dignity of marriage furthered the state’s interest in stable families. [, April 28]

• The Internal Revenue Service won’t be hounding nonprofits for their politics anymore. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said so: “The IRS has taken significant actions to eliminate the selection of potential political cases based on names and policy positions, expedite the processing of Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization applications, and eliminate unnecessary information requests.” [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, April 30]

• Koch Industries, a leading advocate for criminal justice reform, dropped criminal history from its job applications. [USA Today, April 27]

Posted on 05/01/15 04:59 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Export-Import Bank Props Up U.S. Adversaries Abroad

Not to mention corrupt foreign state-owned industries. Mark Pfeifle:

Known until 2007 as the Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs of the U.S.S.R., [Vnesheconombank (VEB)] maintains an operating agreement with Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport “to promote exports of Russian military products and boost their competitive edge in the world market.” Rosoboronexport also handles more than 80% of Russia’s weapon exports. In this capacity, it has become a chief weapons supplier to Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria and has supplied advanced missile systems to Iran, according to reporting last year in this newspaper. VEB has said that its practices fully comply with European Union and United Nations sanctions.

Americans probably assume that Washington wouldn’t use taxpayer money to help a company that supports these regimes. Yet the bank’s records indicate that VEB received a $497 million loan guarantee in 2012 and a further $703 million in 2014. American taxpayers still haven’t received thank-you cards from President Assad and the mullahs.

Ex-Im has nearly $1.5 billion of taxpayer exposure in Russia by the bank’s own report. And its indiscriminate use of taxpayer money extends far beyond Vladimir Putin’s autocracy. Between 1997 and 2014, companies in countries such as China, Venezuela, Pakistan and others received billions of dollars in Ex-Im’s taxpayer-backed assistance.

Many of the bank’s foreign beneficiaries are also state-owned. American taxpayers are unwittingly propping up the bank accounts of foreign states, from China to Russia to a host of other countries. [Wall Street Journal, April 26]

Posted on 05/01/15 11:16 AM by Alex Adrianson

White Supremacists and Apologizers for Riots Have Something in Common

Prager University Student Chloe Valdary:

Posted on 05/01/15 11:06 AM by Alex Adrianson

Marriage Before the Court

Marriage was argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the plaintiffs want the Court to rule that equal protection of the laws requires states to allow any two adults to marry. The respondents (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) argue that the state has an interest in seeing children raised by two parents of the opposite sex, that that interest would be compromised by redefining marriage in genderless terms, and that therefore the Court should respect the wishes of voters in states that have defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The Court is expected to rule in late June. A panel at The Heritage Foundation assesses the oral arguments:

Posted on 05/01/15 10:47 AM by Alex Adrianson

Congress Is Getting Set to Extend Another Failed Welfare Program

This one is called Trade Adjustment Assistance, which provides job training and other assistance to workers who can show that they lost their jobs because of foreign competition. As David Mulhausen, James Sherk, and John Gray write, a 2012 study by Mathematica found that TAA not only costs taxpayers a bunch of money, it doesn’t really even help the workers:

TAA participants averaged $12,674 in the first year and $12,987 in the second year in lower annual earnings than their counterparts (in 2006 dollars). TAA participants averaged $7,451 in the third year and $3,273 in the fourth year in lower annual earnings. Over the entire four-year follow-up period, TAA participants earned a total of $37,133 less than their counterparts. Further, “[w]hen TAA participants returned to work, they had lower wages and were less likely to have access to fringe benefits than their comparisons.” For their most recent jobs, TAA participants have an average hourly wage of $11.81 (in 2006 dollars), while the comparison group averaged $12.59—a difference of $0.78.

Given that TAA participants were more likely to receive job training than their counterparts, employers may place a higher value on work experience than on TAA training activities. Yet only 37 percent of TAA participants who received job training found employment in the occupations for which they trained.

Mathematica concluded that TAA financially hurt both its participants and society overall. A cost-benefit analysis found that the net benefit to society of TAA was a negative $53,802 per participant. Taxpayers bore half of the cost, and the economy could have put the resources spent on TAA to productive use elsewhere. However, displaced workers bore the other half of the program’s cost. In net present-value terms, the typical TAA participant experienced $26,837 lower total earnings and income despite receiving federal benefits. As Mathematica reported:

Participants’ reduced tax bills and higher benefits from UI and TRA were not enough to compensate for the additional earnings and fringe benefits they would have received had their paid employment been similar to that of the comparison group. [Internal citations omitted.] [The Heritage Foundation, April 28]

Posted on 05/01/15 09:39 AM by Alex Adrianson

Heritage FoundationInsiderOnline is a product of The Heritage Foundation.
214 Massachusetts Avenue NE | Washington DC 20002-4999
ph 202.546.4400 | fax 202.546.8328
© 1995 - 2015 The Heritage Foundation