In case you missed it...

Kimberly Strassel in Reno, NEXT WEEK!

Kimberley Strassel’s bombshell reporting at the Wall Street Journal has been uncovering facts that most of Big Media seems eager to ignore. Yesterday she reported Congressional revelations that the FBI and Obama Justice Department had engaged in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign. She’s also documented those agencies’ deliberate efforts to keep that information concealed from Congress and the country. (Click here to watch one of her latest appearances on Fox News) Kimberley does precisely what journalists should do — namely, in behalf of We the People , hold government accountable. Moreover, she’ll be in Reno, next week, to speak at the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Annual Spring Celebration! Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear one of the nation’s most prolific investigative journalists in person! There’s still time to RSVP for your seats! (Click here to reserve your seat!)

 

A word of warning…

As many of you know, before joining the Nevada Policy Research Institute as its president, I was a resident of the People’s Republic of Illinois. Over the years, I have seen the underfunded pension crisis grow in Illinois to unmanageable levels, and the “solutions” at this point are downright frightening. That is what this Forbes article is talking about. What this article does not say, however, is that most homeowners in Illinois face monthly property tax bills that are larger than their mortgage payments — and the state’s newest scheme to fix its pension crisis will only make this situation worse. This is just one of the many reasons I am glad to now be a Nevadan… but if we don’t act soon, this kind of out-of-control tax and spend government could easily take root here. It’s a warning that we, as freedom-loving Nevadans, need to take seriously. (Read more)

 

Judicial activism

One of the big Trump-era wins for constitutionalists has been this administration’s penchant for appointing judges who refuse to “legislate from the bench.” But proponents of a “living” constitution — that is to say, people who believe judges should use their power to subvert the constitutional process — aren’t going to take this laying down. Already, Democrats are discussing the possibility of “packing the courts” should they win the presidency in coming years. The plan is simple enough: Instead of nominating judges for existing vacancies, they would expand the number of courts and fill the new positions with “progressive” activist-judges. The plan has already been described as “a classic authoritarian maneuver used by aspiring dictators who seek to consolidate their power by dismantling democratic institutions.”… And that damning description of the plan was actually used by a supporter of the idea. (Read more)

 

State spending

The state’s “rainy day fund” is supposed to protect the state in the event of an economic downturn. The idea is that if the economy suddenly takes a turn for the worse, or some other unforeseen circumstance puts fiscal pressure on government, citizens won’t be unnecessarily burdened with higher taxes or reduced government services. It therefore seems worrisome that, despite Nevada’s massive tax increases and overall economic growth since the recession, the state’s rainy day fund remains extremely limited. As NPRI Communications Director Michael Schaus points out, the reason for this is simple: Few current politicians will promise less spending and more saving as long as they can, instead, use taxpayer dollars to reward special interests. (Read more)

 

Fiscal and taxes

Seattle homelessness has doubled in the last 8 years, as housing shortages (and climbing real estate prices) drive more and more residents into the streets. But what really caused the problem in the first place? And, more importantly, will the city’s new plan to tax large corporations for hiring workers actually do anything to fix it? In numerical order, the obvious answers are: 1) Government, and 2) No. (Watch the video)

 

Socialism

Under despotic regimes, the military is often treated as a preferred class by the ruling elite — a class that is afforded luxuries, security and comfort not available to the general public. And it’s a dynamic that makes sense, albeit in a warped way. After all, it’s the military that protects the elite rulers from the discontent of a brutalized and starving populace. Socialism, however, has a way of making conditions horrible for everyone in the long run — even the politically favored. In Venezuela, things have gotten so bad with food shortages, runaway inflation and widespread crime, that even members of the military are calling it quits. Earning a mere $2 per month, soldiers often resort to working side jobs, begging for food or turning to black market activities to survive. Sadly, however, the oil-rich country’s deeply destructive turn toward socialism continues — notwithstanding the entirely predictable tragedy looming ever-larger. (Read more)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Ed choice event

Join us after work Thursday, May 10th, for a “School Choice Happy Hour!” (We’ll even provide the beer and wine!) The event will be held in Summerlin, at Honey Salt restaurant, at 5:30 pm, with Tim Keller from the Institute for Justice giving the night’s keynote address. Tim played a critical role in defending Nevada’s educational choice options, and will be discussing what can be done to expand choice in the Silver State in the year ahead. Just give the NPRI office a call to let us know if you can make it. (View the details of the event, and how to RSVP, here)

 

Cronyism

There’s a basic rule in economics: If there’s a demand for a product or service, someone, somewhere in the private sector, will work to fulfil that need. That’s why the government-funded “Electric Highway” along Highways 95 and 93 was such a bad idea to begin with: If there was an actual market demand for electric vehicle charging stations, private investors would have stepped up to provide a solution. Instead, government subsidies are being used to build each station, at a price tag of $85,000 to $250,000 each. Despite the massive taxpayer-funded investment, drivers so far have only charged their expensive electric vehicles 274 times. No wonder no one in the private sector was rushing to risk their own money to build Nevada’s “Electric Highway.” (Read more)

 

Free market “wins”

Amid all the contemporary political bickering and District of Columbia inaction, it’s easy to feel nothing is “getting done” to promote limited government. Obamacare has still not been repealed, the federal government still resembles a quicksand-filled swamp and much of mainline news media continues to froth at the mouth. However, when you look beyond the DC swamp, libertarians and conservatives actually have a lot of reasons to feel a sense of accomplishment. (Read more)

 

Politics

Words have meanings, and those meanings are important. Or, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Unfortunately, thanks to “political correctness,” many words that we use to debate important ideas and profound public policy questions are quickly losing any sort of concreate meaning. In a way, it’s nothing new. The “progressive” movement has routinely transformed or changed the meaning of words to make their ideas of collectivism more appetizing to average Americans. But things are only getting worse. As Benjamin Dierker writes in The Federalist, “We are a hair’s width and an ounce of stupidity away from ‘war is peace, freedom is slavery.’” (Read more)

 

Education

“The more teachers are absent from the classroom, the harder it is for them to connect to their students,” Michael Schaus, the communications director for Nevada Policy Research Institute, recently told 8 News Now in Las Vegas. That’s why a new report from the U.S. Education Department is so troubling: A staggering 59 percent of Clark County School District teachers were “chronically absent” during the 2015-2016 school year. As Schaus explained on NPRI.org, this is another prime example of why school choice — such as Education Savings Accounts, Opportunity Tax Scholarships and charter schools — are so popular among Nevadans. (Read more)

 

Vegas Golden Knights!

The Vegas Golden Knights have had an amazing run in their inaugural season. They have broken through countless records, winning more games than any other expansion team in the league’s history. They then went on to sweep the LA Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and have now tied the current series with the San Jose Sharks. For many fans in Vegas, however, the Knights are more than just a hockey team. Since the October 1 shooting on the strip, the Knights have become a symbol for the local community’s “Vegas Strong” mentality. Moreover, the team has offered the rest of the nation a glimpse into the spirit of the people who call Las Vegas their home. (Read more)

 

Criminal Justice

Civil Asset Forfeiture is bad enough. That’s what it’s called when law enforcement seizes someone’s property, even though he or she has not been charged with any crime. Chicago, however, has now taken things even further, making it impossible for people to get their seized vehicles back from the city without paying massive impound fees — even when the owners have been proven completely innocent of any wrongdoing. The greedy scheme has bankrupted individuals, ruined livelihoods and triggered a cycle of poverty for some. Yet, the practice continues, because… well, because Chicago city government is desperate for revenue. (Read more)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Ed choice event

Join us after work on May 10th for a “School Choice Happy Hour!” The event will be held in Summerlin, at Honey Salt restaurant, at 5:30 pm — and we’re providing the beer and wine! Tim Keller, of the Institute for Justice will be the evening’s keynote speaker. Tim played a critical role in defending Nevada’s educational choice options, and will be discussing what can be done to expand choice in the Silver State in the year ahead. Just give the NPRI office a call to let us know if you can make it. (View the details of the event, and how to RSVP, here)

 

Transparency

Transparency in government leads to a government that is more accountable to the very taxpayers it ostensibly serves. Riverside Public Utilities in California, for example, didn’t previously have any systems in place to monitor overtime pay for its employees. But it does now, thanks to NPRI’s multistate transparency project. TransparentCalifornia.com — a website run by NPRI as a sister site to TransparentNevada.com — reported on overtime abuses within the department in 2017, and things immediately started to change. The utility now says it has put overtime regulations in place to help combat the abuse Transparent California exposed. (Read more)

 

Welfare

“Universal Basic Income” is a concept long championed by welfare advocates — and even a few free-market thinkers — as a more effective safety-net than the modern web of government welfare programs. The idea is simple enough: The government guarantees a minimum income amount for citizens, even if they are unable to find work or earn their own income. The Finnish government was the first European country to experiment with the idea — but it didn’t last long. Now the Finnish government says it is ending the program because the guaranteed income appears to deprive individuals of motivation to find gainful employment. (Read more)

                                                                                                                

Fiscal and taxes

Nevada’s Commerce Tax — a gross-receipts tax on businesses with more than $4 million in annual revenue — does not impact all industries equally. NPRI published an analysis of the tax last year that showed the inequality of the tax’s burden on different Nevada industries. (Read that analysis here.) Tracking down that important information wasn’t easy, given that the state tax department originally claimed it didn’t actually have the data. (Read more on that here.) NPRI’s reporting, however, has paid off in a key win for public transparency: Nevada’s Tax Department now provides an industry-specific breakdown of all Commerce Tax revenues right on its website. (Read more)

 

Culture

Increasingly, so-called progressives show serious intolerance for anyone diverging from their “politically correct” thinking ruts. This was on display again this last week, when outrage sprung up over the fact that Chick-fil-A — a company that subscribes to traditional Christian values — is doing successful business in the progressive enclave of Manhattan. (How dare it!) According to a piece written in The New Yorker, some progressives simply can’t understand why the restaurant is proving to be so popular with NYC residents. (Read more)

 

Government bias

Despite a law that prohibits the Center for Disease Control from advocating and promoting gun control, an institutional bias in the agency seems to still operate against private firearm ownership. Apparently, in the 1990s, the CDC looked at one of the most critical issues regarding the firearm debate: How often are firearms used in self-defense each year? The answer was staggering: According to the CDC’s analysis of a handful of states, Americans use guns to defend themselves, their families and their property up to 2.5 million times each year. Despite the importance of such findings, the CDC decided to keep the results hidden from the public for almost 20 years. (Read more)

 

Cronyism and protectionism

A court case that focuses on a Wisconsin butter-making rule is proving to be a great case study in the crony-serving nature of big government. In Wisconsin, before butter can be sold to the public, each batch must go through an “udderly” ridiculous grading system. According to Cato, “the criteria used to grade the butter are a ludicrous mad-lib of meaningless jargon not even the state’s experts understand.” The law purports to identify such flavor characteristics as “flat,” “ragged-boring,” and “utensil,” and requires great expense to get each batch “approved” for sale. The absurd grading scheme has done little to help the state churn out tasty butters — but it has done wonders to protect the state’s largest butter manufacturers from facing any legitimate form of competition. (Read more)

 

 

In case you missed it...

 

Ed choice event

Join us after work on May 10th for a “School Choice Happy Hour!” The event will be held in Summerlin, at Honey Salt restaurant, at 5:30 pm. Tim Keller, of the Institute for Justice will be the evening’s keynote speaker. Tim played a critical role in defending Nevada’s educational choice options, and will be discussing what can be done to expand choice in the Silver State in the year ahead. (View the details of the event and RSVP here)

 

Benefits of tax reform

Workers and businesses are still seeing the benefits of last year’s GOP tax reform. McDonald’s recently announced that, thanks to the lower corporate tax rates, they will be able to expand and improve their popular tuition-assistance program for employees. Promising $150 million to the program, McDonald’s officials said the amount employees can receive toward tuition assistance will roughly triple under the new framework. Furthermore, the executives explained that savings from the tax reform will allow the fast food company to dramatically lower the eligibility requirements for the program — resulting in 400,000 employees being eligible to take advantage of the program. (Watch the video here)

 

Fiscal and taxes

Most people were aware that tax day was this week. But fewer people seem to know that there was another important tax-related day this week: Tax Freedom Day. Tax Freedom Day, which fell on April 19th this year, represents the day when Americans as a whole have earned enough money to pay their cumulative tax bill for the year. In other words, Americans had to work over 100 days to earn the amount of money they will owe in taxes to their governments in 2018. To put this into perspective, Americans pay more on taxes than they do on food, clothing and housing combined. (Read more)

 

Property rights

Little Pink House is an amazing true story about a lone homeowner in New London, Connecticut, who stood up against a crony government that wanted to bulldoze her home under the guise of promoting “economic development.” (Tickets are still available for the showing in Las Vegas, Nevada. Click here to learn more.) The film stars some well-accomplished actors, including Academy Award Nominee Catherine Keener. Yet one would be forgiven for thinking the movie might suffer from little attention at the box office since its budget was a mere $5 million and official advertising was sparse. In truth, however, audiences seem eager to learn about this real-life struggle against a crony-oriented and abusive government. In New London, the official premiere drew so much attention, people were turned away due to lack of seating. According to some who attended, moviegoers were so moved by the tale, the theater broke out into applause when the credits began rolling. (Read more here)

 

Free markets

If you listen to its political critics, Amazon is killing “mom and pop” businesses — undercutting their prices and driving them into bankruptcy — or so the argument goes. The truth is, however, that these arguments aren’t new. Similar complaints have been made about innovative retailers for over 100 years. In the 1990s, everyone worried about Wal-Mart. In the 1920s, the target was Woolworth. In the 1900s, it was Sears. So what is it about disruptive companies like Amazon that has had people worried over and over again? (Read more)

 

California

What do you think of California? What would you think about three Californias? A Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Tim Draper, has long discussed the possibility of breaking the state into multiple new states. His latest plan — to break the state into three states — has collected 600,000 signatures. That’s enough to place the proposal on the ballot. So, what does that mean for California, and the rest of the country? (Read more)

 

Continuing series on special education

The final part of Fixing Special Ed, NPRI Senior VP Steve Miller’s in-depth series on special education in Nevada, is now available on Nevada Journal. (Click here to read more) Even more exciting, however, is the fact that the entire series, with some new material, is now available as an e-book for Kindle! (Click here to download a copy)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Individual privacy

Given last week’s events on Capitol Hill, it’s likely that any mention of “privacy violations” would conjure up images of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg getting grilled by Congress. While Facebook’s privacy issues may cause concern, they’re nothing alongside the risks we’re subject to from Big Government’s collection of our data. Take the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Established by former president Obama and the 2010 Democrat-controlled Congress, the CFPB sucks up massive information on Americans’ major financial doings, including credit-card transactions, home loan applications and bank accounts. This week the CFPB confirmed it has been successfully hacked at least 240 times, with another estimated 800 suspected hacking attempts. The successful penetrations of the CFPB have jeopardized the Social Security numbers, personal banking details and other financial information of untold numbers of unwitting American citizens. At least Facebook asks consumers to agree to “Terms of Use” before putting its user’s data at risk. (Read more)

 

Free markets

A new scientific study demonstrates concrete evidence of something free-market proponents have long known already: Communism doesn’t lead to prosperity. The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, looked at the wealth and overall wellbeing of citizens in 44 countries across Europe and Asia to identify factors that contribute to economic prosperity. The conclusion was inescapable: The single strongest predictor for a country’s low overall health ranking, and the second-strongest factor for its poor wealth ranking, turned out to be whether or not the nation had adopted communism in the past. I guess this officially “outs” all those proponents of Marxist “scientific socialism” as nothing more than “science deniers.” (Read more)

 

Public sector pensions

Pew Charitable Trusts this week released its latest report on the fiscal health of government pensions, and the news hasn’t gotten any better. According to the study, states have a cumulative deficit of $1.4 trillion, up a whopping 27 percent from 2015. In an attempt to minimize shortfalls states are moving into riskier investment strategies, and there’s already been an ever-larger share of tax dollars going toward keeping these pension plans afloat. It’s a trend that should worry even the most die-hard advocate of public sector growth, given that, as the AP reported, the looming crisis means less money “is available for core government services such as education, public safety and parks.” (Read more)

 

Educational choice

Join NPRI after work on May 10th in Summerlin for a “School Choice Happy Hour!” Education Savings Accounts may not yet be funded in Nevada, but we do still have one school choice program in place — and there are plenty of things we can do to expand choice for parents and students in the Silver State. Tim Keller, an outstanding legal mind from the Institute for Justice, will be the evening’s keynote speaker. Tim — instrumental in the successful legal defense of Nevada’s ESAs — knows better than anyone what we as parents, taxpayers and activists can do to help give every child a genuine opportunity for quality education. So come by Honey Salt restaurant on May 10th at 5:30 to talk with us about the future of educational choice in the Silver State! (Click here for RSVP information)

 

Government overreach

Can you imagine a government so powerful it can literally force you out of your house to make way for a major commercial development that — supposedly — will bring in more tax revenue for politicians to spend? It sounds like something that could never happen in America, but under “progressive” theories of “eminent domain,” it does happen. Like when the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer convinced the Connecticut government to bulldoze an entire neighborhood to make way for its new development. But one woman fought back. Suzette Kelo, a small-town paramedic who lived in a little pink house in New London, Conn., went all the way to the Supreme Court in a bid to save her home and the homes of her neighbors. Her incredible true story is now a motion picture starring two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener and Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn. (Watch the trailer and read about the case here!) And now, if enough Nevadans reserve their tickets this weekend, this moving story about the abuse of crony government will be showing right here in Las Vegas on April 23rd. (Click here to reserve tickets)

 

Continuing series on special education

Don’t miss Part Eight of Fixing Special Ed, NPRI Senior VP Steve Miller’s in-depth series documenting the abuse, law-breaking and deception that all too frequently still today characterizes public-school districts’ administration of special education. While this problem has existed in Nevada for decades, there’s a way out, which more and more states are embracing. Hint: All the Silver State need do is simply embrace the same respect for parental choice that increasing numbers of other states are affirming. (Read the series here)

 

 

 

In case you missed it...

Nanny state

The nannycrats in California want you to know that your morning cup of coffee has chemicals that could, in vastly larger quantities, potentially increase one’s chance of cancer. California's Proposition 65 requires such warnings on any products that contain chemicals that could cause cancer — even if the quantity of such chemicals is so low it poses no actual health risk. The law is so sweeping that even generally benign chemicals and compounds can land companies (in this case, coffee roasters) in legal trouble. In fact, lawsuits have become so commonplace, Wells Fargo now offers businesses “Prop. 65 Insurance,” to use in the event of a lawsuit. As time goes on, it’s becoming pretty obvious that Prop. 65 does a lot more for trial lawyers than it does for public health. (Read more)

 

Fiscal and taxes

President Donald Trump continues to pledge more tariffs on China, citing America’s trade deficit with China as justification. However, as economist Milton Friedman once pointed out, panic over trade deficits is an “upside down” way of thinking. After all, “the goods and services we send abroad, are goods and services not available to us. On the other hand, the goods and services we import, they provide us with TV sets we can watch, with automobiles we can drive, with all sorts of nice things for us to use.” In other words, shouldn’t it be considered a good thing for Americans to get more stuff from abroad than we give up to other nations? After all, all the “trade deficit” shows is that we get more valuable stuff from China than we send to them. Really, that should be seen as a surplus, and a major win for American consumers. (Read more)

 

Teacher unions

Until recently, Michigan teachers wanting to opt-out of their union faced similar trouble as Nevada teachers. Among other obstacles, teachers in Michigan were only afforded a short one-month window within which they could request to leave the union. (Nevada’s window of time is actually worse, at a mere two weeks in the middle of summer.) But thanks to a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision, unions will now be required to allow members to opt out any time they wish. The elimination of an “opt out window” is a huge win for teachers who hope to exercise their right to not belong to a union, which probably explains why union bosses are worried other states might soon follow suit. (Read more)

 

Health care

Most people understand that medical prices are climbing at an alarming rate, but few Americans are aware of how much most medical procedures actually cost — nor are they that concerned with finding out. After all, most of us don’t directly pay for these services. Almost 90 percent of medical payments are made by “third parties,” such as private insurance companies, Department of Veterans Affairs and government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Indeed, depending on “other people” to pay the bill has become commonplace, as consumers relied on these third parties as a way to keep out-of-pocket costs down. However, evidence demonstrates that it’s this very disconnect between consumers and medical providers that has helped to drive up the costs in the first place. (Read more)

 

Continuing series on special education

Don’t miss the latest installment of Fixing Special Ed, NPRI Senior VP Steve Miller’s in-depth series documenting the abuse, law-breaking and deception that all too frequently still today characterizes public-school districts’ administration of special education. Las Vegas attorney Marianne Lanuti has represented special-needs parents in lawsuits against the Clark County School District for more than 20 years, and she says many of those parents are desperate for a larger role in their children’s education. (Read the series here)

 

 

In case you missed it...

 

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel headlines NPRI’s Spring Celebration!

Save the date! On May 24th, NPRI’s Spring Celebration in Reno will host the amazing Kimberly Strassel as our keynote speaker. Kim — a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and the author of The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech —routinely appears on nightly cable news programs as a guest and commentator. It’s going to be a great night, and tickets are now available. So don’t miss out! We hope to see you there. Click here to register.

 

Educational choice

The public education establishment endlessly calls for increasing per-pupil funding for public schools — claiming such increases would cure what ails the current system. Well, what if states could increase per-pupil funding without raising taxes or increasing public spending? The truth is, such a system already exists. It’s called school choice. In fact, as NPRI’s latest study demonstrates, if Nevada’s only funded school-choice program — Opportunity Tax Scholarships — were expanded to cover 5 percent of the population, the benefit to traditional public schools would be the same as a $116 million increase in funding. And it can all be done without a single dime in tax hikes or increased spending! (Read the study here.) As NPRI Policy Analyst Daniel Honchariw writes, “who could possibly be opposed to that?” (Read more)

 

National politics

Thanks to the budget deal just signed by President Trump this week, America now is an additional $2 trillion in debt just one year after Republicans took control of the House, Senate and White House. Many fiscal conservatives have criticized he budget deal for not only its massive size, but also because it funds partisan Democrat spending priorities — including a $900-million tunnel boondoggle in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s New York backyard. The final price tag for this week’s spending-splurge budget is a whopping $1.3 trillion — and that doesn’t even include entitlement funding or interest payments. (Read more)

 

Capitalism

It’s no secret that large numbers of millennials are neglecting to save for retirement. Some two-thirds don’t even have a savings account. A big reason is that student debt, rising healthcare costs and expensive housing are consuming more and more of the millennials’ paychecks. Additionally, many appear to believe they won’t actually need to save for retirement. Blaming capitalism for their current financial woes, many are betting that the USA will transform into a socialist worker’s paradise by the time retirement comes around. “Not only am I not saving for retirement,” one millennial told Salon, “I have never had a serious job, because I have thought capitalism would be f----d by [the time I retire]…” Growing up is going to be tough for some of these folks. (Read more)

 

Cronyism

Facebook has been in hot water recently for a variety of reasons. There’s an unease among users over how their information is being used, the “newsfeed” and other features continue to disappoint expectations on a regular basis and First Amendment concerns continue to crop up as the tech giant attempts to deal with “fake news.” And so, in many ways, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now encouraging the government to begin regulating social media. His regulatory push is certainly less about preserving the “integrity” of his industry, and more about preserving the dominance of his tech empire. Nick Gillespie of Reason.com explains the pattern well, noting that “the ‘market entrepreneur,’ who makes a fortune by providing a new or improved service at a great price, almost inevitably evolves into the ‘political entrepreneur,’ who uses regulation and other connections to stay on top.” (Read more)

 

Continuing series on special education

Don’t miss the latest installment of Fixing Special Ed, NPRI Senior VP Steve Miller’s in-depth series documenting the abuse, law-breaking and deception that all too frequently still today characterizes public-school districts’ administration of special education. There’s a simple, cultural reason why public schools tend to ignore the needs and wants of special-needs students, and it’s an attitude that has been around since the 19th century. It’s also an important reason these families need an escape hatch from the de facto monopoly of government-provided education. (Read the series here)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Transparency

The Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in NPRI’s lawsuit against the Nevada Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). The Institute was forced to sue in 2015 after PERS refused to disclose public-record information — just the most recent attempt by the agency to circumvent the letter and spirit of Nevada’s public record laws. NPRI Transparency Director Robert Fellner, at the hearing, said the court seemed to be receptive to the argument that the public is entitled to the information PERS has tried so hard to conceal. (Read more)

 

Fiscal and taxes

Ignoring objections from his own party, libertarian groups and the overwhelming majority of economists, President Donald Trump has decided to go forward with punitive tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The unilateral executive action is being done under the color of “national security” — a precedent that some have not only questioned, but worry could prove to be a very slippery slope. Already, free-market proponents in Congress are trying to evaluate what, if anything, they might be able to do to undo Trump’s ill-advised tariffs. (Read more)

 

Cronyism

In a move that is not too distanced from satire, cities and states have fallen over themselves in the last year in an effort to lure Internet retailing giant Amazon into their respective communities. (Watch this video for Reason’s humorous take on the issue.) Las Vegas, eventually cut out of the running, was apparently no exception. According to public records, Vegas was willing to grant Amazon 84 acres in the city’s downtown, along with a slew of other goodies. (Read more)

 

Criminal justice

Bipartisanship is not dead. In Connecticut, at least one good policy proposal won widespread approval: A bill ending the use of civil asset forfeiture unless accompanied by a criminal conviction. Civil asset forfeiture is the practice in which law enforcement agencies are able to confiscate property they argue may be tied to a crime — even if no criminal charges are levied against the owner. Connecticut’s law — which won unanimous support in the House and Senate — is a major step toward ensuring due process rights for property owners. (Read more)

 

Labor unions

Why should employees have the right to opt-out of a union? Well, in short, it’s because public sector unions are inherently political, and no American should be forced to support a cause with which they disagree. (Watch the video)

 

Continuing series on special education

Don’t miss the latest installment of Fixing Special Ed, NPRI Senior VP Steve Miller’s in-depth series documenting the abuse, law-breaking and deception that too frequently now characterizes public school districts’ administration of special education. Part 4 reveals the record tampering, state and federal law violations and illegal actions the Clark County School District resorted to, in an effort to avoid accountability to parents and students.  (Read the series here)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Transparency

The Nevada Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week in NPRI’s lawsuit against the Nevada Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). The core of the case concerns the repeated and ongoing attempts by PERS to conceal its pension payout amounts from public scrutiny. A recent case in New York shows why transparency is critical if government insiders are to be held accountable: Turns out a sanitation worker there was pocketing an annual pension approaching $300 grand — more than twice the amount of his former salary. (Read more)

 

Fiscal and taxes

Thursday, President Trump announced new punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as the centerpiece of his protectionist trade policies. In addition to potentially damaging the beer industry (no, seriously…) the tariffs are expected to greatly increase the costs consumers will pay for goods made with aluminum and steel. Ostensibly, the 25 percent tariff on steel is supposed to increase domestic production of steel — by increasing the cost of imports — and so create domestic steel-working jobs. That outcome, however, is unlikely: Not only will higher prices cost jobs in other sectors of the economy, but most employment losses in the U.S. steel industry reflect its modernization through improved efficiency and technological advancements — not foreign imports. (Read more)

 

Labor unions

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME — a case that could restore First Amendment rights for millions of state and local government workers across America. Mark Janus, a child-support specialist for the State of Illinois, is suing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in an effort to end a practice that requires workers to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. Mark Janus explained his position in a USA Today opinion piece, stating simply “AFSCME uses my monthly fees to promote an agenda I don’t support.” (Read more)

 

Individual responsibility

Curling isn’t exactly the most exciting Olympic sport, but it is unique in one important regard: Its rules are almost entirely enforced not by judges or referees, but by the players themselves. There are no referees blowing whistles, no instant replays, no slow-motion analysis and no forced penalties by any “neutral” authority. Instead, players accept personal responsibility and voluntarily hold each other accountable for a fair game. In other words, as Eric Boehm at Reason.com put it, “curling is a sport that, more so than almost any other, is played in a state of anarchy.” No doubt the late Murray Rothbard would love it — and point out the lessons in there for the rest of us. (Read more)

 

Continuing series on special education

Don’t miss the latest installment of Fixing Special Ed, NPRI Senior VP Steve Miller’s in-depth series documenting the abuse, law-breaking and deception that for decades has too frequently characterized public school districts’ administration of special education. If you’ve ever doubted that special-needs families face grudging resistance and outright lawbreaking in America’s school districts, the LA school district’s court-appoint monitor, David Rostetter, can quickly destroy any illusions you may have. Rostetter has acknowledged what many parents of special-needs children have long believed — that systemic flouting of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is conscious school-district policy in many locales across the U.S.  (Read the series here)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Florida

Mike Rowe, famous for hosting the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” series, has become known in recent years as a rare voice of reason in an otherwise hyper-partisan world of celebrities. When asked about his reaction to the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Rowe once again extended his unique brand of rational thinking to the conversation. “Should we discuss the impact of video games, accessible firearms, single-parents, no parents, powerful medications, social media, mental illness, bullying, or anything else we think might have encouraged [the shooter] to choose evil over good? Without question,” explained Rowe, “but we should also stop confusing the influence of such things, with the root cause.” (Read more)

 

Privatization

Hosting the Olympics has proven to be a budget-busting “privilege” for cities and their taxpayers. For example, it took Montréal 30 years to pay back the money it borrowed for hosting the 1976 games. The decaying ruins of the elaborate venues built specifically for the games often serve as visual reminders of the massive waste involved in hosting. The facilities in Athens already looks like a landscape from an apocalyptic future. Sochi’s Olympic village was described as a $50 billion “ghetto” just one year after the games ended. The 1984 games, however, were different. Far from leaving behind massive debts and abandoned ruins, the 1984 Olympics actually turned a profit! So, how did they do it? Well, let’s just say it wasn’t government’s doing. (Read more)

 

Educational choice

A top public school administrator in Washington D.C. was forced out of office this week, after it was discovered that he had conspired with other administrators to illegally place his daughter in the district’s highest-performing public school. As Reason.com explained, “At the end of the day, these self-dealing bureaucrats were trying to get what libertarians have long argued all parents deserve: meaningful choices about where to educate their kids.” (Read more)

 

Economic development

Nevada’s “economic development” officials are fighting to keep the crony handouts alive in the Silver State, through incentive packages like the one given Tesla to build a big factory in Storey County. Not all policy experts are on board, however. Pew Charitable Trust — hardly a libertarian or limited-government organization — has criticized Nevada’s tax incentive packages, pointing out the lack of accountability. NPRI Communication Director Michael Schaus went even further, pointing out that since low property taxes worked to attract a business such as Tesla, lawmakers should offer low taxes to all businesses — not just those with political clout. (Read more)

 

Minimum wage

A “progressive” Nevada group is once again pushing for a government-mandated $15 minimum wage — and it’s doing so while depending on the efforts of unpaid interns. As Victor Joecks points out in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, all political and advocacy campaigns depend on volunteers, but these interns are much more than that. According to the job description, interns must work 10 to 15 hours a week for a minimum of 15 weeks, commit to the internship “as they would a work schedule” and attend at least five events that are “often” held outside of regular work hours. Apparently, a $15 minimum wage only sounds good, so long as these progressives don’t actually have to pay their workforce. (Read more)

 

Continuing series on special education

Don’t miss the latest installment of Fixing Special Ed, NPRI Senior VP Steve Miller’s in-depth series documenting the abuse, law-breaking and deception that too frequently now characterizes public school districts’ administration of special education. Part Two, released this week, details the clear message sent by the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit — where Nevada appeals must be heard. Not only did the justices of the Ninth oh-so-dispassionately hammer a California school district for its repeatedly attempted deceptions, but the lower district court and its hearing officer got clear reprimands as well. So, is the jig is really up for school districts that attempt to save money by misleading parents? (Read the series here)

 

Total Records: 2097

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