In case you missed it...

 

 

Transparency

Madera, California is in dire financial straits. The city’s general-fund deficit is projected to rise from $1.7 million in 2018 to almost $4 million by 2023. Making the situation even worse, however, is the fact that Madera’s public sector workers recently pocketed a massive compensation increase. (The full analysis can be found on TransparentCalifornia.com) Residents of this largely low and middle-income community were rightly outraged by the massive pay raises at their expense but wouldn’t have even known about them had it not been for Nevada Policy Research Institute’s multi-state transparency projects: TransparentNevada.com and TransparentCalifornia.com. (Watch the video here.)

 

Federal tax reform

In late 2017, a tax reform package was passed by Congress and signed by the President that not only lowered the personal federal income tax for all income brackets, but lowered the corporate tax rate as well. And the resulting benefit for workers has been a wave of wage increases, bonuses and new opportunities. (Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of businesses that have done so, impacting more than 2 million workers.) Even here in Nevada, workers are seeing the impact of tax reform. Last week, the owner of South Point, Michael Gaughan, announced he’ll be routing an extra $1 million to employees this year because of tax reform. (Read more)

 

Government waste

It’s no wonder government enterprises always overspend. The IRS, in the last fiscal year, spent $20 million to collect a mere $6.7 million in back taxes using private collectors. The overspending should be seen as a prime example of government’s inability to balance cost and benefit, but is instead being presented by the New York Times as an argument against spending cuts and “privatization” of government services. (Read more)

 

Healthcare

Not all health-care reform has to occur at the federal level — a point that the Trump administration seems to be embracing as federal reform efforts stall in Washington. Trump has recently signaled that hes willing to grant Medicaid waivers to states that want to implement work requirements on the government-funded healthcare program. Such waivers are a significant step toward healthcare reform, given the inaction on the federal level. In fact, it could be “yuuuge.” (Read more)

 

Government overreach

In recent years, it has been uncovered that government agents have spied on journalists, members of Congress, citizen activists and even a presidential campaign. It’s therefore not too surprising that many Americans are apprehensive about government’s ability to monitor, collect and comb through our personal data without due-process protections. Unfortunately, this week, the House voted to expand that abuse, increasing the likelihood for potential abuse by federal intelligence agencies. (Read more)

 

 
 

Constitutional law

Two women recently tried to challenge a licensure law in Missouri, which required them to take thousands of hours of training and get government permission before braiding hair professionally. Unfortunately, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the burdensome regulations, using a legal concept known as a “rational basis standard.” Essentially, the standard means that challengers to a regulation must not only refute any justifications advanced by the state, but also must refute “every conceivable basis which might support” the statute or regulation. As Ilya Shapiro and Aaron Barnes pondered at Cato, “What are the actual limits of this amorphous standard? Could a court rationalize requiring a hair braider to obtain a degree in economics to properly price her services? A medical degree with experience in pain management in order to protect the tender-headed? Mandatory viewing of 80’s hair-metal videos in order to warn against the dangers of hair styling gone terribly wrong?(Read more)

 

 

 

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Education

One of the primary reasons school choice policies — such as Education Savings Accounts or Nevada’s Tax Scholarship program — are so important is that, for students who start life out with educational disadvantages, the current public school system tends to trap them in its own programmatic failures. As House Speaker Paul Ryan has put it, the current system effectively quarantines poor and minority children in “failure factories.” Not only does the public-education status quo thus perpetrate injustice, but it also assaults the entire spirit of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, that education is “a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” (Read more)

 

Free Markets

Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” was declared during an address to Congress 54 years ago this month. By its 50th anniversary, the war had consumed more than $22 trillion in federal spending — while doing effectively zip to lower the U.S. poverty rate. Despite the war’s utter failure to achieve any tangible result, self-described progressives continue to push for its perpetual expansion. They seem far more interested in the cheap applause their initiatives receive, than actually solving the real problems that exist. (Read more)

 

Prevailing wage

For many reasons, government projects regularly run over budget and fail to meet deadlines, and silly bureaucratic burdens are front and center. Clark County commissioners, for example, have postponed a contract to install steel post barriers along the Strip — an important safety feature that authorities say should be done immediately to protect pedestrians — because a past contract might not have paid workers the “prevailing wage” required by a bad law beloved by unions. (Read more)

 

Healthcare

Socialized medicine might be sold to the public as “free” healthcare, but in the end patients pay plenty for the substandard care they receive. The British government ordered every hospital in England to cancel all non-urgent surgeries this week to deal with a shortage of resources. The order from the National Health Service will result in around 50,000 operations being postponed, as hospitals struggle with what is being described as “third-world” conditions thanks to a winter flu outbreak straining limited NHS resources. (Read more)

 

Federal tax reform

The federal tax reform bill just recently signed into law is having an interesting side-effect on tax policy in high-tax states such as California and New York. Thanks to a provision in the federal tax plan that lowers the amount of allowable deductions for state and local taxes, some wealthy residents in high-tax states could face higher overall tax burdens in certain circumstances. As a result, both New York and California are toying with ways to protect high-income residents from the change. It’s an ironic twist, given that both states have traditionally been run by lawmakers who claim they want to raise taxes on the wealthy. (Read more)

 

Individual freedom

Venezuela was once among the richest nations in the world. Today, however, Venezuela is ranked as the second poorest nation in the world, only slightly better off than North Korea. The nation’s socialist “reforms” plundered the wealth of the Venezuelan people in less than a generation, leaving citizens impoverished, enslaved and oppressed. Jorge Jraissati is a student leader in Venezuela who is risking his life to restore freedom to his country. His story serves as a warning to the rest of us to take care that we never take our freedoms for granted. (Watch the video)

 

 

 

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Media Bias

The tax reform bill recently passed by Congress is expected to boost middle-income Nevadans’ wages by an average $610 next year. And yet, many people seem to think this major tax cut is actually a tax increase. A big reason for this fundamental misunderstanding comes from the dishonest rhetoric being used by the reform’s opponents. Equally to blame, however, is the misleading and biased reporting that has accompanied the debate. The Nevada Independent, for example, recently rated Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen’s claims that Nevadans will be “slammed” with tax increases as entirely truthful. NPRI fact-checked the fact check, and — spoiler alert — the Independent got a few things wrong. (Read more)

 

Criminal Justice Reform

Randy Petersen, a senior researcher for Right on Crime, wrote in a recent op-ed that “Conflating civil asset forfeiture with criminal asset forfeiture is a common parlor trick used to confuse the general public.” He’s right — but it is hardly the only trick employed by opponents of reform. Often, concern over police “safety” is politically exploited to stall transparency and accountability-related reforms. However, as Peterson observes, “our police officers deserve more than having the public’s concern for their safety manipulated to perpetuate bad policy.” (Read more)

 

Climate Change

Judith A. Curry is an American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her resume is impressive: She’s a member of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Committee, the co-author of Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans, and has over 100 published works to her name. Until recently, she would have been considered part of the “97 percent of scientists” who believe in man-caused global warming. But when she began to question the “consensus” of climate change, and started to point out flaws in the models, the scientific community turned on her. According to Curry, the “science” of climate change has been taken over by politics — and it’s doing a disservice to the actual climate science. (Watch the video)

 

Public Sector

Nevada has the most “unproductive” public sector workers, according to a recently released study. Nevada’s state and local governments employed 11.7 public sector workers for per every 100 workers in the taxpaying private sector, the lowest ratio in the nation. But the state also paid those “public servants” 54 percent more than their private sector counterparts — the highest in the nation. The reason for this gross example of income inequality? According to NPRI’s Michael Schaus, the leading factor is the power that local public sector unions have over the political process. (Read more)

 

Education Reform

The public school establishment is hostile to any and all forms of potential competition, whether it be charter schools, education savings accounts, tax scholarships or even online educational options. One family trapped in CCSD recently tried to transfer to an online school, only to have CCSD reject the transfer. “It doesn’t make sense,” Sumer Henning said. “I almost feel like they’ve lost track of what’s important in our children and their education, and what is in the better interest of the child has been thrown out the window.” (Read more)

 

Government abuse

The Reno Gazette Journal recently reported on the sale of three lots within the Incline Village General Improvement District. (You can read the RGJ article here.) The story gained quite a bit of traction in the media. In response, IVGID has released a statement explaining its actions. (Read the response here.)

 

 

 

In case you missed it...

 

Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted this week to reverse the Obama-era regulations known as “Net Neutrality.” (Reason.com explained what exactly this means going forward.) Despite the apocalyptic rhetoric coming from opponents of the reversal, the big takeaway is that the repeal will allow consumers in the future more options for internet service providers In fact, even the arguments opposed to the repeal of Net Neutrality unwittingly highlighted this point. (Read more)

 

Educational choice

It is worth remembering that opponents of educational choice often sacrifice the best interest of individual students to the “greater good” of the public school system. A perfect example of this phenomenon is happening in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio has capitulated to his union cronies and refused to provide Success Academy — a local charter school — with sufficient space to operate. Unions, which see non-union charters such as Success as a major threat to their political clout, have led a major campaign in recent years to force such choice schools out of business. The mayor’s decision to refuse space for the charter means that thousands of students have no certainty where they’ll end up. Many others will be sent back to the underperforming public schools from which they recently managed to escape. (Read more)

 

Labor unions

A local school district in Rhode Island is suffering from a teacher strike… kind of. Rather than striking — which would be illegal in Rhode Island — the teachers union is conducting what is known as “sick outs.” The practice consists of many teachers calling in sick at the same time, forcing the school to shut down. As NPRI’s Communication Director Michael Schaus told the Heartland Institute, the sick out “is a perfect example of the ‘union first, students last’ mentality” in public education. (Read more)

 

Government waste

According to one recently released study, Nevada's public employees are the least productive in the U.S. The study used two sets of data to make the claim: The number of public-sector employees, and the cost such a workforce puts on taxpayers. While Nevada has substantially fewer public employees for each private sector worker compared to other states, they are also among the highest-paid nationwide. In short, Nevada taxpayers pay substantially more than most states for a far smaller public sector workforce. (Read more)

 

Federal regulations

One of the largest obstacles that small and growing businesses face is the ever-increasing level of regulations from the federal government. However, 2017 has brought some good news on this front. For each new rule proposed by federal agencies, more than 20 old regulations have been repealed by the Trump administration. Indeed, this deregulatory effort will benefit growing small and midsized companies that often struggle to make a profit while remaining in compliance with the web of federal regulations. (Read more)

 

 

In case you missed it...

 

Free speech

Increasingly, Americans seem willing to censor political opinions with which they disagree. It’s now commonplace for political partisans to invoke forms of “political correctness” to silence dissenting views and demonize opposing thinkers. Such growing political intolerance, however, ultimately threatens the future of our republic. As Thomas Jefferson warned in his first Inaugural Address, “Having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.” (Read more)

 

Government regulation

The fight over “Net Neutrality” has created a sense of panic among the big-government supporters of the Obama-era regulations. Lawmakers have received death threats, protestors are warning about the “death of the Internet” and even the FCC chairman’s children have been harassed by supporters of the regulatory scheme. The hysteria, however, is stunningly misplaced, given the FCC’s actual actions. According to Reason.com, “In truth, the Obama administration-era Open Internet Order (OIO) that the FCC is overturning has little to with ‘net neutrality’ at all.” (Read more)

 

Politics

The term “fascist” is increasingly thrown around by leftists bent on portraying free-market reformers as some sort of power-hungry Mussolini-wannabes. A little knowledge of history, however, throws cold water on the claims. After all, Fascism is diametrically opposed to free-market capitalism, along with multiple other forms of liberty. In fact, the concept of fascism is deeply rooted in the big-government “progressive” movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (Watch the video)

 

Federal lands

When President Obama unilaterally announced millions of acres suddenly “protected” by the federal government, environmentalists applauded the overreaching land-grab. Now that President Trump is in charge — someone committed to limiting such federal excess — executive power is suddenly out of fashion on the political left. (The flip-flop was actually predicted by NPRI’s Communications Director Michael Schaus months ago.) No sooner had President Trump announced he was reducing the size of some national monuments in Utah, and the outdoors retailer Patagonia began telling customers “The President Stole Your Land.” Indeed, the company is even trying to take the administration to court. (Read more)

 

Healthcare

Medicaid was originally intended to help the elderly and the disabled. Being a big-government program, however, it unsurprisingly expanded well beyond its original mission. Today millions of able-bodied adults are in on the take — via the Affordable Care Act and thoughtless state governments. Some superior solutions, however, can be implemented on the state level.  (Read more)

 

Fiscal and tax

Opponents of the House and Senate’s respective tax reform packages have not been stingy with their false claims. Last week, Democrats claimed that one tax provision of the Senate’s version was an “earmark” to benefit the conservative-leaning private Hillsdale College in Michigan. The truth, of course, was that the amendment would have benefited any college that refused to accept federal tax dollars. If opponents of the provision want more colleges to take advantage of the provision, all they have to do is convince more colleges to abandon the practice of depending on taxpayer subsidies. (Read more)

 

 

 

In case you missed it...

 

Labor unions

A major labor case comes before the Supreme Court early next year, and it could effectively give every union employee in the nation the right to opt-out of his or her union. While such an event would be a victory for employees who want to be freed from their union, it still wouldn’t tackle the larger problem: Most labor unions currently operate under significantly anti-democratic rules, with little or no accountability to the workers they claim to represent. For example, over 90 percent of union workers in America have never had the chance to vote on what bargaining agent — if any — should represent them at the workplace. Most workers simply inherit unions, whether they want them or not, that were voted on by workers long-since gone. (Read more)

 

Transparency

Government accountability is directly tied to government transparency. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that police officers who are required to wear body cameras receive fewer complaints from the public. That was the observed result from a yearlong study involving the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. According to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, misconduct and even “use of force” reports fell by almost 40 percent for officers who were equipped with the cameras between February of 2014 and September 2015. (Read more)

 

Government regulation

The possibility that an Obama-era effort to regulate the internet, known as Net Neutrality, could be overturned has resulted in some very heated rhetoric. Republican congressmen have received death threats, and the children of the FCC Chairman were even harassed by supporters of Obama’s regulation efforts. (Read more about that here.) Proponents of Net Neutrality say that reversing the rules would endanger the internet as we know it — never mind the fact that the “internet as we know it” was humming along just fine before the 2015 regulatory scheme. So what exactly is Net Neutrality? In short, it’s a heavy handed regulatory approach to solve a problem that never actually appeared in the first place. (Read more)

 

Free markets

Many big-government activists are calling on lawmakers to begin breaking up tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook — as if the sheer size of the companies somehow merits government involvement. Citing antitrust and monopoly concerns, these activists argue the companies somehow harm the marketplace. What these regulation-happy leftists fail to understand, however, is that these giants weren’t always giants — and their ascension actually displaced companies that had previously been demonized in similar terms, such as MySpace, Yahoo and even Walmart. (Read more)

 

Fiscal and taxes

Big-government advocates continually lament the widening “inequality” of income in the United States. As in this New York Times piece, tax-and-spend leftists bemoan the fact that the “top one percent” control so much of the wealth in this nation. They argue such inequality is evidence for an inherently “unfair” economic system. And yet, even the New York Times itself couldn’t help but notice that the industries seeing the most wealth accumulation tend to be those benefitting “from regulatory barriers that shelter them from competition.” In other words, government cronyism is the biggest dynamic behind the oft-vilified “income inequality” — far more than free-market capitalism. (Read more)

 

Repeal the Commerce Tax

Petitions are being circulated across the state to put on the 2018 ballot a question that would let voters repeal the state’s recently imposed and destructive gross-receipts tax, the Commerce Tax. Folks who want to be more active in getting the tax repealed can visit ripcommercetax.com.

 

 

In case you missed it...

Commerce Tax

A new analysis of the Commerce Tax — Nevada’s destructive gross-receipts tax — shows that not all industries are treated equally under the law. Some industries, such as retail trade, bear a much higher burden than other industries, such as mining. For skeptics regarding the unpopular tax, the data reinforces what was commonly understood: That the Commerce Tax ultimately benefits certain industries over others — while enabling politically connected businesses to effectively shift their taxes onto sectors of the economy with less political clout. (Read more)

 

Government regulation

An Obamacare regulation that mandates calorie counts on menus has had the industry worried since it was first announced. There was some hope that the burdensome mandate — which the industry says is almost impossible to comply with — would be reversed, or at least revised, by the Trump Administration. However, while FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has issued “clarifying” guidance on the rule, core concerns remain — including potential criminal penalties for small businesses that incorrectly display calorie information. (Read more)

 

Government waste

Local governments — including those within Nevada — always seem to be promoting the idea of some “new” mass-transit rail project. Las Vegas, for example, has repeatedly discussed the possibility of adding light rail. But why is this idea so popular among local governments throughout the nation? After all, mass-transit has been seeing substantial declines in ridership for years, despite massive amounts of taxpayer dollars being spent to prop up the failing concept. In fact, since 1970, taxpayers have spent well over a trillion dollars in such schemes. As Randal O’Toole explains in the Wall Street Journal, “measured per passenger-mile, the subsidies for transit are more than 40 times as great as for driving.” (Read more)

 

Free markets

The best thing about a free market system, is the fact that there are no “losers” in a voluntary transaction. This is why, when someone purchases something at a store, both the customer and the business owner say “thank you.” By contrast, government operates entirely on coercion. It’s no wonder, then, that taxpayers never feel like they get as good a deal from government as they do from the voluntary exchanges they make with neighbors and private businesses. (Watch the video)

 

Environmentalism

Another alarmist group is trying to fear-monger politicians into adopting big-government “solutions” for climate change, a recent letter sent to world leaders reveals. “A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated,” reads a recent letter written by a group of scientists. Keep in mind, however, that these are largely the same scientists that predicted human population growth would result in an uninhabitable planet by the 1990s. They also predicted that the polar icecaps would be completely melted by 2014, and the city of New York would be consumed by rising ocean levels by 2018. (Read more)

 

In case you missed it...

 

Free speech

PragerU, the popular conservative and libertarian non-profit founded by Dennis Prager, has filed a lawsuit against the tech giants Google and YouTube for censoring Prager’s educational videos. PragerU CEO Marissa Streit told The Daily Wire that she believes the organization will win in its lawsuit against “two of the most important public forums in the world” for what amounts to political discrimination. (Read more)

 

Job creation

License requirements are dragging down Nevada’s ability to get more people into the workforce, according to a new study by Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. In fact, if Nevada relaxed some of its occupational licensing requirements, it’s estimated the state could see an 8.5 percent boost to employment. It’s an estimate that makes sense when you consider that many common careers require clearly excessive amounts of “training” and administrative fees — the transparent purpose of which is blocking work in the field. Barbers, for example, are required to take 890 days of education and pay $140 in fees. Interior decorators face an even longer “training” period, with 2,190 days of apprenticeship required to get licensed by the state. In fact, the average license in Nevada requires $505 in fees, and over 600 days of education or supervised experience. (Read more)

 

Commerce Tax

Volunteers have already started collecting signatures to get a measure on the ballot to repeal the Commerce Tax — the state’s gross receipts tax on businesses. Nevada Controller Ron Knecht, who has been spearheading the effort to repeal the destructive tax, will be in Minden on November 13 to talk about the effort. Considering that a similar gross receipts tax was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in 2014, it seems that there is plenty of support to successfully repeal the Commerce Tax in 2018. (Read more)

 

Criminal justice

How many laws are actually on the books? Apparently, too many to count. Even the Department of Justice has been unable to tally the total number of federal-level criminal statutes. Title 18 of the United States Code, which governs crimes and criminal procedure, has over 6,000 sections, with more than 4,500 federal crimes and over 300,000 agency regulations containing criminal penalties. But if it’s impossible to even count the number of statutes and regulations that carry criminal penalties, how could it ever be possible for average Americans to follow all of them? (Read more)

 

Communism

November 7th marked 100 years since the Bolsheviks took control in Russia, promising bread, peace and liberty and instead ushering in a communist “revolution” that resulted in widespread poverty, genocide, human rights abuses and global conflict. The list of terrors and human suffering caused by communist regimes since the October Revolution of 1917 seems almost endless: The terror-famine in Ukraine, the religious persecution in Cuba, the “Cultural Revolution” in China, the Cambodia Killing Fields, Stalin’s Gulags… It goes on and on. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 100 million people died in the 20th century under the rule of communism. And yet, this dangerous ideology just never seems to be completely discredited. (Read more)

 

Veterans Day

Every year, marking the anniversary of the day on which World War I ended, with the armistice of 1918, Americans take the time to thank the men and women who have stood ready to protect our freedoms throughout the generations. Veterans Day is a time when we take a moment to acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions of members of our armed forces. Be sure to take time this weekend to reflect on the challenges, hardships, and sacrifices our veterans endure to keep us free.

On behalf of everyone at the Institute, I would like to say “thank you” to all our men and women in uniform. Your dedication to our freedom is inspiring and appreciated.

 

 

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Entrepreneurship

The late Steve Jobs once explained that “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” This is clearly the mentality of a successful entrepreneur — and certainly, it is a part of what allows America and the west the prosperity we enjoy. But there’s something else that makes the kind of entrepreneurship we see in the free world possible: The freedom to fail. It’s a freedom we take for granted, but it is essential to ensuring progress and the creation of wealth. (Read more)

 

Individual rights

Rudy and Rennie North were an elderly couple living out their retirement in a comfortable home on a golf course in Las Vegas, Nevada. But their world turned upside down when one day a woman named April Parks barged into their home. Parks told the Norths that she had an order from the Clark County Family Court to “remove” them from their home. Suddenly, all their belongings and assets were under Parks’ control, and they weren’t even allowed to notify their family. One of the men with Parks even said that if the Norths didn’t comply, he would call the police. How did this happen? Well, unfortunately, it was not an isolated incident — April Parks had gained “guardianship” of the Norths, without them even realizing it. Guardians, as it turns out, can take unbelievable control under Nevada law over the lives of senior citizens, and can even loot their estates. (Read more)

 

Big brother:

We know that tech companies surveil virtually every aspect of our digital lives for the sake of targeting us for products, providing content and tailoring our online experience. But imagine a world where the government similarly watches your every move, and distills your behavior down to a single “score” that rates what kind of citizen you are. You don’t have to imagine too hard — because China is already working on such a system. It’s called a “Social Credit System,” and this Orwellian scheme is expected to be launched sometime in 2020. (Read more)

 

Culture

George Washington was one of the founding members of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. He attended the church for more than two decades, and even bought pew No. 5 when it opened in 1773. But, according to the so-called “social justice” attitude among the church’s modern leadership, none of that history matters. Last weekend, the church announced it was pulling down a memorial plaque to the nation’s first president because both Washington and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become “too controversial” for a church that has the motto “All are welcome—no exceptions.” Understandably, the “politically correct” decision to toss this important piece of history down the Orwellian memory hole didn’t sit well with many parishioners, as the church’s Facebook page soon erupted with outrage over the issue. (Read more)

 

 

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Happy Nevada Day!

Today is Nevada Day, the “largest” statehood celebration in the nation (perhaps because no other state apparently came up with such a get-off-work excuse). Arriving on the last Friday in October, it officially commemorates Nevada’s admission as a state into the union on October 31st, 1864. As you celebrate our 153rd anniversary of statehood, be sure to take a moment to reflect on the values and the freedoms that made the Silver Sate such a remarkable place to live. Happy Nevada Day!

 

Commerce tax

Governor Brian Sandoval has continued his fearmongering over a possible repeal of the Commerce Tax, telling reporters “I think if somebody’s going to make a proposal [to repeal the tax], they’ve got to stand in a schoolroom with a room full of parents and teachers and be able to explain who they’re going to cut.” The cynical humbuggery here is depressing, considering that most Nevadans didn’t want this new tax, and Sandoval knew it very well. Also, Commerce Tax revenues — which so far make up only a tiny fraction of the state budget — don’t even go into education. Instead, they go into the General Fund. Finally, the tax river flowing into education will continue to grow, even if the Commerce tax is repealed. In short, as Thomas Mitchell wrote last week, “Gov. Brian Sandoval has been crying about a paper cut as though it were an amputation.” (Read more)

 

Government transparency

Government employee names, benefits and even salaries are supposed to be public information in Nevada. Therefore, Transparentnevada.com publishes the names and compensation of almost all state employees as a way to preserve financial accountability, fight corruption and keep the public informed of how tax dollars are spent. Some government workers, however, can remain anonymous under a special exemption that exists for positions that might require confidentiality for specific reasons — such as undercover police officers. While the exemption makes sense in theory, the practice has been abused by some governments as a way to avoid complying with transparency requirements. (Read more)

 

Separation of powers

When there is a permanent government-class that writes the laws, passes the laws and implements the laws, it’s no longer a government “of the people.” A perfect example is a case from the People’s Republic of Illinois: Two Chicago cops, who are also legislators in the Illinois Legislature, worked to pass a law that specifically benefited them (and only them) by allowing days spent in the legislature to count toward their police pensions. While the self-serving activity of these two Chicago politician-cops is appalling, it’s certainly not shocking. After all, this is the reason Nevada’s state constitution specifically forbids individuals from working in two separate branches of government at the same time — a provision that NPRI is actively litigating to have enforced. (Read more about the Chicago story here)

 

Media bias

The former CEO of National Public Radio, Ken Stern, did something increasingly rare in today’s big-foot media biz: He went out to learn about, and from, people who don’t agree with him. Indeed, after talking to some conservatives in America’s heartland, Stern, a Democrat, even changed his mind on a few things — including on the effectiveness of gun control. “The media should acknowledge its own failings in reflecting only their part of America,” wrote Stern in a recent op ed. “You can’t cover America from the Acela corridor, and the media needs to get out and be part of the conversations that take place in churches and community centers and town halls.” If the rest of the elite national media took Stern’s advice, it could be a different country. (Read more)

 

“Social justice”

Apparently, if you look hard enough, anything can be considered “racist.” A University of Illinois math professor, Rochelle Gutierrez, argues in a newly published math education book, that mathematics actually promotes “white privilege” because of its use of Greek characters and allegedly “European” concepts. Even math tests are inherently racist, according to Gutierrez, because minority students sometimes perform poorly. “On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness,” she claims. (Read more)

 

Pension Reform

“An unholy combination of unrealistic accounting, skirting of state law by public employee unions, and a veil of semi-secrecy imposed by a board of self-interested pension beneficiaries poses a clear and present danger to Nevada taxpayers, particularly homeowners,” writes Jim Clark in the Sierra Sun. All is not lost, however: Proven reforms — already implemented in other states — could easily provide Nevada taxpayers with relief. (Read more)

 

 

Total Records: 2082

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