Suing GOED

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Suing GOED

This was a big week for NPRI.

On Wednesday, our Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation challenged the constitutionality of the state government’s efforts to pick winners and losers in the economy through the Catalyst Fund.

Most of the media coverage since we filed the case — and there’s been plenty of it over the past two days — has rightly focused on the relevant legal issue: The Nevada Constitution expressly prohibits the state from giving money to private companies, and that is what the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is doing through the Catalyst Fund.

Joseph Becker, chief legal officer and director of the Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, addresses members of the media this week about NPRI’s lawsuit against the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

That constitutional issue is at the heart of this lawsuit, along with the basic unjustness of making a business subsidize its competition, and I urge you to read Joseph Becker’s detailed explanation of those issues here.

But today, I’d like to discuss another angle to this story, and to dive into the economic problems inherent to the Catalyst Fund’s existence.

Supporters of the Catalyst Fund have promoted it as a needed tool for “economic development.” They tell us that the $10 million account will draw new businesses, jobs and revenue into the state; that Nevada has to compete with other states for companies; and that politicians need this tool to create jobs.

Why is NPRI, a free-market think tank, against something that helps businesses?

Well, I’m glad you asked, because there is an essential distinction to make here. NPRI is pro-market, not pro-business.

In a free market, there will be some very large businesses that thrive by doing an excellent job of meeting the needs of their customers. We’re big fans of those businesses. And in the free market, there will be some small businesses that thrive by doing an excellent job of meeting the needs of their customers. We’re big fans of those businesses, too.

But we don’t applaud those businesses because of their size, the number of jobs they create or even how much they pay in taxes. We applaud them because they create value for their customers through mutually beneficial and free exchanges. Businesses aren’t ends in themselves, but a means individuals use to reach their goals.

Consumers — that’s you and me — are winners in this system. We get products that are of a higher quality, have more features and are often cheaper.

And in a free market, businesses face constant competition from other businesses who think they can earn money by doing a better job of pleasing those customers. It’s exhausting work staying in business and making a profit!

Some businesses, however, want to take a shortcut to profits, so they seek special privileges from the government to protect or guarentee their success.

These privileges — which could include monopoly status, selective regulatory breaks, bailouts, loan guarantees or, yes, subsidies from Nevada’s Catalyst Fund — are often called “pro-business” policies. But they are really just ways for certain businesses to benefit at the expense of others.

What’s amazing is that history shows that government support does not guarantee a business will thrive or even that it will survive. Just look at Solyndra, Abound Solar, Fiskar and ThromboVision. Despite hundreds of millions in taxpayer handouts, they still couldn’t make it.

So how many of the companies that will receive Catalyst Fund subsidies will end up going bankrupt despite taxpayer handouts?

Through our lawsuit, we’re working to make sure we never have to find out.

_______________________

By the way, I’ll be spending some time next weekend up in Oregon, first in Portland and then driving along the coast. If any of you know the area well and have some favorite spots you’d recommend (restaurants, scenic places, historic sites, etc.), I hope you’ll send those suggestions along. You can reach me at am@npri.org. Any ideas would be much appreciated!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Roses are red

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Roses are red

In case you didn’t notice — and if you didn’t, you’re probably in trouble — today is Valentine’s Day.

And while the team here nixed my idea of raffling off dates with single staff members, I wanted to make sure NPRI gave you a Valentine’s Day present. And since we’re the generous sort, we decided to give it to the whole state and to provide it a day early.

Yes, I’m referring to our release yesterday of Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System payouts, searchable by name, at TransparentNevada.

Now, while access to more than 49,000 pension records may not seem as fitting for February 14th as hearts and teddy bears, here’s how the PERS information now available at TransparentNevada reminds me of some familiar things associated with Valentine’s Day.

Candy Hearts

We all love those little candy hearts with the cute sayings, but the one most applicable here is the one that says: “I’ll tell.” You have a right to this information, and we’re telling the world.

Chocolate

Chocolate may melt in your mouth, but finding out from TransparentNevada that over 1,000 retirees are on track to make more than $100,000 in retirement payouts will make you want to melt your face off to relieve the anger. Or eat more chocolate to relieve the stress of knowing that, until the law changes, taxpayers are backstopping these pensions.

Diamonds

One of the four “C”s you consider when looking for a diamond is clarity, and that’s what you’ll find at TransparentNevada. No longer do citizens have to rely on second-hand information about government-employee retirement packages. You can see clearly now.

Poems

Roses are red
Violets are blue
TransparentNevada
is our gift to you.

By the way, it’s fine if you spend today pouring that special someone a glass of wine, instead of poring over these records. We’ll be here Monday.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Incentives

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Incentives

It seems with every passing week, another shoe drops in the mess that is Obamacare.

This week, it was the job-killing shoe that fell.

The news came from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which issued a devastating report detailing how the Affordable Care Act will encourage some 2.3 million full-time workers to leave the workforce or reduce their hours by 2021. That’s nearly three times the 800,000 jobs the CBO originally projected would be lost.

In the words of CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, “The act creates a disincentive for people to work.”

The problem lies in the fact that Obamacare subsidizes those at the low end of the income scale by imposing exorbitant premiums and deductibles on higher-income earners. The CBO predicts the (Un)Affordable Care Act will encourage able-bodied people to leave their full-time jobs as a means to lower their premiums and qualify for government subsidies or Medicaid. Others may leave their jobs because Obamacare enables them to live more comfortably on the public dole than off it.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that, when one of the major benefits of employment is removed, the drive to work is weakened for some.

Rather than admit that the law harms individuals, families and the economy, liberals instead have flocked to microphones to spin this news. Showing the same respect for the truth they did in promoting the company line — or lie — that “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” Obamacare supporters have spent the week claiming that the loss of 2.3 million jobs is a good thing. You see, it’s about freeing people from “job lock.”

“Job lock” — in the words of Sen. Harry Reid’s spokesman, Adam Jentleson — “is when people feel they have to stay in a job for the health benefits.”

In other words, “job lock” is the encouragement to continue working that comes through perks of employment. By the left’s logic, the government may want to consider shelling out vacation accruals and annual bonuses to the whole country to prevent people from feeling too tied to their jobs. Better yet, let’s just give everyone a paycheck every other week so they’re free to do whatever they want, which seems to be the reasoning of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Those ideas are absurd, of course, but one gets the sense that they wouldn’t sound that way to Sen. Reid. In response to the news that millions are gearing up to leave the workforce, Reid said: “The CBO report is far better for us than it is not.”

If your goal is to expand government’s reach and people’s reliance upon it, I suppose you would be happy with this news; as the number of unemployed Americans grows, so too does the perceived need for government handouts.

This latest revelation about Obamacare reinforces the fact that when government overreaches, the negative effects go beyond the economic. The drive to work hard and succeed — long one of the essential traits of the American character — is weakened as well. And that may be the most regrettable casualty of all.

____

Earlier this week, I shared with you NPRI’s latest project, Transparent California. This website, located at TransparentCalifornia.com, allows users to easily search the compensation levels of public employees just like they can at TransparentNevada.com. The new site launched on Tuesday and has been a great success in its first few days. At some point this morning, the site garnered its 500,000th page view, and it has earned over 40 media hits.

I’ll keep you posted on the continuing good news that’s sure to come from expanding transparency to Californians, including the benefits to us right here in Nevada as well.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Exporting transparency

Exporting transparency

Promoting transparency in government has long been at the core of NPRI’s efforts.

Not only do we citizens have a right to know how our government operates and how it spends our money, but that information is essential to making wise judgments in public policy.

That was our thinking behind launching TransparentNevada six years ago: Let the public see how government is spending money and how much public employees are making, and trust that once they knew the facts, citizens would demand better policies

Even though I was there when we launched the site, I never could have predicted how TransparentNevada would transform the debate on public-employee compensation in Nevada. From exposing overtime abuses in the Clark County fire department, to being a resource used by elected officials and media members across the state, to hearing union officials cite TransparentNevada as proof that school administrators are overpaid, TransparentNevada has changed the public’s perception of government-employee compensation.

Last year, TransparentNevada earned more than 1.98 million page views. That’s pretty amazing for a site with no paid advertising in a state of just 2.7 million residents.

This stunning success got us thinking about other states that could benefit from a similar website. And there’s no state more in need of increased public understanding of the problems of big government than our neighbor to the west.

I am pleased to let you know that today, NPRI — working with the California Public Policy Center, a California-based free-market think tank — has launched TransparentCalifornia.

TrasparentCalifornia.com enables users to search the compensation data of public employees in California just like they can on TransparentNevada — by name, job title and jurisdiction.

We already have more than 2.2 million salary records on the site, including information from cities, counties, public universities and the State of California. Additionally, the site makes public more than 1 million pension records, including records from CalPERS and CalSTRS.

Just like in Nevada, high salaries and pensions abound in California. Thanks to this new website, the public can now see that, in 2012, more than 1,000 former government workers took home more than $200,000 each in pension payouts. One, a retired public defender from Alameda County, collected a total pension payout of $527,255.

The site also brings extravagant salaries to light. There’s the lifeguard who made over $299,000 in L.A. County, the firefighter who took home over $428,000 in the town of Torrance, and the administrative secretary who received over $172,000 in Palm Desert

I don’t know if I should be encouraged or discouraged to see that inflated compensation for government employees isn’t limited just to Nevada.

Exposing runaway government spending in California is important, not just to Golden Staters, but to citizens all across the country — including those of us right here in Nevada. More than any other state, California has been a public-policy trend-setter, and so many policy ideas that have originated there have spread into Nevada and other states. Given the massive fiscal problems facing California today, it’s crucial that Californians understand the dangers posed by out-of-control government and stop spreading it across the country — and into Nevada.

But there’s something I want to make very clear to you. Much to the chagrin of public-sector unions here in Nevada, the launch of TransparentCalifornia doesn’t mean we’ll be any less committed to fostering greater transparency here in our state. Far from it.

In fact, even as you read this, our team is currently working to put Nevada PERS payments online at TransparentNevada, and we’ll be unveiling that information in the coming weeks.

I want to thank you for your continued investment in and support for NPRI. It’s not just paying dividends here in Nevada, but in our largest neighboring state as well. And if you have friends or family in California, send them to TransparentCalifornia.com. I promise they’ll be shocked at what they find out.

Sincerely,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Formulas

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Formulas

This week, the Nevada Department of Education gave itself a big pat on the back as it released Nevada’s 2013 graduation rates.

Taken at face value, the self-praise might seem deserved — the state’s graduation rate jumped from 63 percent in 2012 to just over 70 percent in 2013.

But a closer look reveals that the state’s education officials have merely improved their own accounting skills and done little to advance student success. Prior to 2012, Nevada school districts counted students who transferred out of a district as dropouts. Now, students who move during high school are removed entirely from the graduation equation, thereby upping the perceived performance of state schools.

Even with the modest gains in the number of graduates last year, Nevada still lags behind the national average, and our children are paying the price.

No matter how you want to count graduates, we can all agree that Nevada’s schools are broken and that there’s plenty of room for improvement. While the Nevada Department of Education was busy adjusting its formula to make its failing schools look a little better, we at NPRI have been highlighting real solutions — those that actually increase the number of students graduating, not just improve our ability to count them.

This week, NPRI hosted two of the more than 5,500 events that took place across the United States in celebration of National School Choice Week. In Reno and Las Vegas, we screened a new documentary titled “The Ticket.” Directed by Bob Bowden, the film explores the different types of school choice that have been allowed in other states and the achievement that results when states stop protecting the education monopoly.



Bob Bowdon, maker of "The Ticket: The Many Faces of School Choice," responds to a question from KNXT's Kevin Wall.

One of the many successes championed in “The Ticket” is Saint Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, a private school that low-income students can afford to attend thanks to school vouchers, or Opportunity Scholarships. While the Cleveland Metropolitan School District has a graduation rate of roughly 54 percent, Saint Martin graduates 97 percent of its students. If a near-perfect graduation rate isn’t impressive enough, 100 percent of those graduates are accepted into college.

School choice is a unifying concept and has a long history of drawing support from both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, it’s often stopped by teacher unions who don’t want their education monopoly threatened by competition.

Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C., have implemented school choice, and it’s time for Nevada’s students to share in its benefits.

Fixing accounting errors is a fine thing, but the way to genuinely increase the number of students who graduate is to empower parents with more options regarding how and where their children are educated.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Health benefits cost 40% more for government workers than for private workers

A new survey from United Benefit Advisors (UBA) reveals some rather unsettling trends in regards to public employee compensation, particularly as they relate to health benefits:

The survey finds that public employer cost per employee increased 22 percent from $7,001 in 2012 to $8,551 in 2013, while employer cost in the private sector increased only 15.8 percent from $5,226 in 2012 to $6,040 in 2013. The portion an employee pays decreased for both during that same time period, but by nearly 30 percent (or $1,025) for a public worker and only 15.7 percent for a private worker. Taxpayers, therefore, assumed an additional $1,681 or 24.28 percent of a public employee's health care cost.

There is even more cause for alarm than just the continued out-of-control spending and subsequent burden on taxpayers that it creates; a tax included in the Affordable Care Act known as the "Cadillac Tax" will impose penalties on plans that exceed $10,200 for individuals and more than $27,500 for families. 

Thom Mangan, Chief Executive Officer of United Benefit Advisors, reveals just how bad things could get:

"...the average municipality in Illinois and Massachusetts will pay $5,000 per employee in 2018. By 2020, the penalty for family coverage will skyrocket to $9,202 in Illinois and $19,699 in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, those penalties are passed to taxpayers facing their own health care cost increases."

Unfortunately, it appears that this crisis may get much worse before it gets better.

Robert Fellner is a transparency researcher at NPRI.

 

Priorities

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Priorities

Earlier this week, we held our first Board of Directors meeting of the year. Our Board meetings are always valuable, but the first meeting of the year is especially important.

That’s because it gives my management team and me an opportunity to sit down with our Board and discuss the projects and initiatives we have planned for the year ahead. And as we do so, we’re guided by a sometimes-frustrating but highly crucial truth: We can’t do it all.

There is an endless list of project ideas that have at least some merit. But the reality is that, given the limitations on our time and resources, we have to identify those areas where we can really make a significant difference on behalf of our organization’s principles, and we have to stay disciplined in concentrating our efforts on those things. In short, we need to prioritize.

In the year ahead, the majority of our work will focus on a few key areas: educating the public on the destructive economic impact of the proposed margin tax; continuing to inform union workers of their right to leave their union if they so choose; making government more transparent and accountable to those who fund it; and a fourth issue that I’ll get to in a moment. My job, as the Institute’s president, is to make sure that all of our departments and staff members understand what those priorities are and what they’re expected to do to help us achieve our goals.    

So if Geoff Lawrence, our fiscal-policy guru, were to propose a study on, say, recent trends in the migration habits of the ruby-throated hummingbird, I’d have to suggest to him that such an analysis didn’t quite fit with our organizational priorities. If Chantal Lovell, our new deputy communications director, decided that half our media budget should be spent on hiring a skywriter to paint “Go Seahawks” in the air above the Shetland Islands, I’d likely express my concern that such a move would take us “off message.” Those might both be fine ideas. But not for NPRI. And of course, neither Geoff nor Chantal would ever suggest those things because they both understand what this Institute’s priorities are.

Unfortunately, that clarity of purpose often escapes government bureaucrats and politicians.

The purpose of government is to perform a few core functions that only it can perform and which maximize the freedom individuals have to pursue their own interests and happiness. One example of a legitimate government function is ensuring public safety by maintaining a police force and fire department. For an example of something government should not be doing, on the other hand, let’s turn to Colorado, where a proposed ballot initiative would require couples to take marriage-education classes before tying the knot (and the required number of education hours goes up if you’re trying to remarry after a divorce). Is taking those classes a good idea?

Maybe. But that’s not a question the government should be in the business of answering.

Now, it’s easy to identify the above as a case of government overreach, in large part because there’s something almost comical about the idea. But there are lots of cases where the proposed idea doesn’t necessarily sound silly, but is bad nonetheless.

In an example that’s closer to home, the City of Las Vegas has been considering a proposal to use taxpayer money to help fund a new sports arena downtown. As regular readers know well, I’m a big sports fan, and I’d love to see a major sports team in our state. And it may well be that having an arena in Las Vegas would be of some benefit to the local economy.

But deciding which projects are worthy of funding isn’t the government’s job. If a developer wants to build an arena, here or anywhere, he should do so either with his own money, with private investments, or with some combination of the two — just like MGM is already doing.

It’s the job of consumers to pick the winners and losers in an economy. When the government tries to do so, it’s acting outside of its proper role. And this isn’t a merely philosophical point, either. The track record of publicly funded arenas, in terms of living up to their supposed economic promise, is not a good one.

It’s not surprising that government so often succumbs to mission creep. When you have the power to take your funding by force, you’re going to feel less inclined to be efficient and responsible in how you spend it. Here at NPRI, we have to earn financial investment in our work, which means we have to consistently demonstrate that we’re spending money wisely. If we blow a big chunk of it on inappropriate projects like bird-migration studies and skywriting, we can’t simply force our members to contribute more so that we can still pay for the important things. But the government can — and often does.

Educating the public on the need to restore government to its proper role is an extremely important task, and it’s perhaps the most critical challenge we as a people face today. And that, as you’ve probably guessed by now, will be NPRI’s fourth priority area in the year ahead.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Turkeys

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Turkeys

As I mentioned a while back, I spent this past Christmas in rural Massachusetts, which is where I grew up and where most of my family still lives.

That trip offered a real change of pace from my typical day-to-day life and reminded me of one of my favorite things about America: that the customs, climate and experiences you’ll find in one part of the country can differ so vastly from what you’ll get in another. As if to drill the point home, I was out driving one morning in the small town where my parents live and I came within a few feet of running over an entire rafter of wild turkeys. That’s never happened to me in Las Vegas.

Still, there are some constants, and I was reminded of one of them on the morning of Dec. 27. As I was drinking my coffee, my dad handed me a copy of the local newspaper, The New Bedford Standard-Times, a paper for which, incidentally, I used to write sports articles as a teenager. In particular, he told me to check out the lead story on the front page. The headline: “New Bedford teachers union calls for United Way boycott.” Somehow, he knew I’d be intrigued.

Now, before I get to the teachers union’s vendetta, let’s have a little back story. New Bedford High School has been performing miserably for years, so much so that it could face a takeover from the state in the near future. New Bedford’s superintendent of schools, Dr. Pia Durkin, has proposed a plan to turn things around. That plan includes replacing 50 percent of the teaching staff — a requirement that state officials, and a firm they’ve retained to track the progress of reform efforts, say stands above all other factors as a predictor of success. Not surprisingly, the plan has generated some controversy.

That brings us to Michelle Neves Hantman, the president of the United Way of Greater New Bedford. She became a character in this story when she put her name on a petition expressing a vote of confidence in Dr. Durkin.

And that brings us to the teachers union, which, naturally hostile to Dr. Durkin’s plan (as teachers unions tend to be toward anything suggesting a whiff of accountability), called for a boycott of Dr. Durkin’s supporters and their organizations — including the local chapter of the United Way.

My point is not to endorse the Durkin plan. Whether a 50 percent teacher turnover in New Bedford is a good idea, or whether it goes too far — or not far enough — is not something I’m in a position to judge, given my lack of expertise on the various factors at play locally. But at least Dr. Durkin has a plan to bring accountability to her school system, which obviously needs it.

Union leaders also have a plan — threaten anyone who dares to support an idea with which the union disagrees.

That’s the constant.

North, South, East or West — whether you drink soda or pop, whether you eat hoagies, subs or grinders, and whether you spent this past holiday season under a palm tree at the beach or up to your waist in snow — you can always count on America’s public-sector unions to try to bully their way to their desired ends.

We’ve certainly seen it here in Nevada, haven’t we?

For decades, the Nevada State Education Association has been the most dominant force on education policy in Carson City. From increasing spending to protecting ineffective teachers to promoting class-size reduction, no group has influenced Nevada’s education policy more than the teachers union.

The results have been entirely predictable. Over the past 50 years, Nevada nearly tripled education spending, while our graduation rate sank to worst in the nation. It is extremely difficult to fire ineffective teachers and administrators. Unlike 21 other states, Nevada lacks any school-choice options for parents.

So instead of accepting responsibility and apologizing to the tens of thousands of children they’ve hurt, what do union officials do? Put a margin-tax initiative on the ballot that’s so destructive that even the AFL-CIO doesn’t want any part of it.

And to what end? So we can pay the same teachers and administrators more to do the same job? And pay them more based not on their ability, but on their longevity and degrees, of course.

What a joke.

There is another constant here. NPRI will continue to promote the solution that is improving the lives of children around the country: school choice.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Ticket

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Ticket

One of the tenets of conservatism is the belief that individuals and families make better choices for themselves than government bureaucrats.

One of the places we see this most clearly demonstrated is in education. For the last century, government has run the vast majority of our nation’s schools with predictable results. As graduation rates and educational performance decreased, bureaucrats demanded more control and more money to address the problems they created. And despite spending more and centralizing control more and more, results continued to decline.

All the way back in the 1950s, the great economist Milton Friedman introduced the solution — school choice. Let parents control a portion of the money the government already spends to choose the school that’s best for their child.

In the last few decades, this idea has spread across the nation, and now 21 states and Washington, D.C., have some form of school choice. These programs have produced academic gains in student achievement for those participating in them, and also for those students who remained in traditional public schools. And since these programs can save the government money, it’s a true win-win-win.

While Nevada does offer some options to parents — like charter schools, magnet schools, online learning and the freedom to home school — it lags behind other states with school-choice programs.

What’s easy for me to lose sight of in the discussion of school-choice programs or test-score improvements are the stories of the children and families who have benefitted from school choice.

And that’s why I’m so excited to let you know about a free screening of the movie “The Ticket” that we’re hosting on Jan. 28 in both Reno and Las Vegas. “The Ticket” is a 38-minute documentary on the power of school choice — focusing on the stories behind the stats. This trailer does a great job sharing some of the stories you’ll see in the movie.

Our Reno event will run from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and will feature both the movie and a panel discussion hosted by KKOH’s Dan Mason and featuring “The Ticket” filmmaker Bob Bowdon and school-choice experts from the Reno area.

Our Las Vegas event will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and will include the movie and a panel discussion hosted by KXNT’s Kevin Wall and featuring Bowdon and Vegas-area school-choice experts.

This is a free event for the whole family, so please bring your kids and invite your neighbors to see the movie.

We will be sending out locations to you early next week, but I hope you will save the date now.

We’re also pleased to be co-hosting these events with The LIBRE Initiative and the RISE Education Resource Center as part of National School Choice Week.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Until next time,

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Resolved

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Resolved

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution?

I’ve known people who’ve vowed to exercise more, spend quality with their family, eat healthy, read more or even to follow that dream they’ve always had.

I’ve even made some resolutions myself, with varying degrees of success.

A New Year’s resolution is a conscious acknowledgment of personal responsibility — that you have the power to change your job, your body, your circumstances and your life. And you do have that power. Where I’ve succeeded or failed in keeping resolutions, the credit or blame has been my own. I’m guessing your experience has been similar.

When I step back and think about it, New Year’s resolutions reveal one reason why I’m a free-market conservative. I believe in personal responsibility.

If someone makes a wise decision, works hard and follows through, he or she has the right to reap the rewards that come from that decision.

If someone gets up at 5:30 each morning and exercises for an hour, we celebrate that person’s improved fitness.

So why is it that when someone gets up at 5:30 each morning to build a business and improve the lives of others by offering their customers a desirable product at a competitive price, some people want to attack that person’s financial success, or claim, “You didn’t build that”?

Government’s job is to protect our God-given freedoms that allow us to make and then act on our resolutions, not punish those who succeed in keeping theirs.

I hope you had a Happy New Year, and I wish you the best of success in keeping your resolutions.

We’ve slowed our publishing down a bit for the holidays and for some planning time, but we’ll be back up to full speed on Monday. I want you to be the first to know that we’re planning a National School Choice Week event that we’re really excited about.

We’ll send out more details early next week, but mark your calendar for Jan. 28.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Total Records: 1789

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