In case you missed it...

 

Educational choice

Don’t miss Fixing Special Ed, NPRI Senior Vice President Steven Miller’s latest series on education — this one documenting the slow-moving, budget-busting tsunami of special-education costs soon to slam into the State of Nevada and its 17 school districts. The new 11-part series reveals why the existing federal-state system is breaking down, all across the U.S. — but also, the new solutions becoming available: Educational-choice options at the state level not only help special-needs students and their families with genuine customized education for the students, but also yield important savings for state budgets and taxpayers. (Read the series here)

 

Education spending

The education establishment is, once again, wailing that it lacks “enough” money for Nevada’s public schools. The argument, however, falls apart upon further inspection. Not only has Nevada nearly tripled its inflation-adjusted per pupil spending, but more and more evidence nationally indicates that there’s virtually no correlation between education spending and student performance. Some systems that spend vastly more than Nevadasuch as the states of Alaska, West Virginia and the District of Columbiarank significantly worse. By contrast, states that spend less than Nevadalike Arizona, Idaho and Utahall rank significantly higher. (Read more)

 

Criminal justice

On a neighborhood street in Coachella Valley, California, a city code enforcement officer sent a written warning to a landlord after spotting a few chickens in the backyard of a tenant’s home. That was three years ago, and 79-year-old Ramona Moralesthe landlordthought the issue was resolved after she had her tenant get rid of the chickens. Now, however, Morales faces nearly $6,000 in fees, thanks to a law firm handling the city’s prosecutions. “If you combine capacious and vague code, where almost anything can be a violation, and you let the person who is going to enforce the code make money off of it, then the potential for abuse is just tremendous,” explained Morales’ lawyer. (Read more)

 

Labor unions

Labor unions are panicked about an upcoming Supreme Court case that pits an Illinois man named Mark Janus against the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Janus has sued AFSCME over being forced to pay union dues, even though he does not want to be a part of the union. More interestingly, union leaders are claiming that if the court rules against the union, minorities wouldsomehowbe disproportionately hurt if they and other workers suddenly had the freedom to exit union membership. (Read more)

 

Protectionism

President Trump’s administration has started pushing to actually impose protectionist-style tariffs on various industries and imports. Not everyone, however, is on board with this idea. When Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) pointed out that past import restrictions and tariffs have caused serious damage to American consumers, the President shrugged off the concerns. The evidence, however, speaks for itself: Just like other increased taxes, tariffs are indirect taxes paid for by consumers not bugaboo foreign interests or faceless corporations. (Read more)

 

 

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Minimum wage

It’s worth repeating: Minimum wage increases cost jobs. When Ontario raised its minimum wage by roughly 20 percent, politicians certainly patted themselves on the back for “helping” low-wage workers. The result of their policy, however, has been quite a different story. Some 59,300 part time jobs have been lost as a result of the higher wage — and many companies are cutting back on costs in other ways, such as reducing benefits, ending paid breaks and hiking prices. As Ontario is quickly learning, there still is no such thing as a free lunch. (Read more)

 

Civil rights

What is the greatest libertarian accomplishment? According to David Boaz at the Cato Institute, it’s the abolition of slavery. In an article about Black History Month, Boaz explains that “Much of the progress we have made in the United States has involved extending the promises of the Declaration of Independencelife, liberty and the pursuit of happinessto more and more people.” And he’s right. The abolition of slavery, and the 20th century’s civil rights movement, was a quintessentially libertarian moment. After all, it was a movement that prioritized the rights of individuals over the oppressive nature of government. (Read more)

 

Labor

Every four years, the American people have the opportunity to vote for the President of the United States. Indeed, all of our elected representatives must win the approval of their constituency to remain in power. It’s such a basic feature of our representative government, most people never give it a second thought. It is simply a given that voters should have a say over who represents their interests in government. And yet, millions of workers across America are never given the opportunity to vote on who will represent their interests in labor agreements. In fact, unions are actively fighting the conceptarguing instead that once a union gains power in a workplace, workers should never again have the opportunity to vote on representation. Would we tolerate such an anti-democratic arrangement in any other aspect of daily life? (Read more)

 

Climate change

When governments in California sue energy producerssuch as Exxon Mobilefor contributing to climate change, they insist that local damage from global warming will cost billions of dollars to mitigate. When those same governments talk to investors, however, they sing a different tuneessentially shrugging off concerns that apocalyptic climate change will have an impact on the government’s finances. So which is it? (Read more)

 

Free markets

As it turns out, capitalism is awfully persistent. Whether it is a cultural upheaval, economic depression or any other “bad news,” capitalism faces the challenges and then goes right back to generating widespread prosperity. As Nick Gillespie explains it at Reason.com, “Capitalism's genius, it turns out, is a form of repressive tolerance that, as economist Joseph Schumpeter observed, brought more and more stuff to more and more people. (Read more)

 

 

 

 

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Groundhog Day

It’s Friday, February 2nd, Groundhog Day. I am always a bit confused by what it means for Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow and how that can possibly translate to the length of the winter season.

Does it have something to do with Global Warming?

Regardless, on this day I can’t help but think of the film in which Bill Murray is trapped repeating the same miserable day, over and over, until he gets it right.

Well, here in Nevada we have our own version of Groundhog Day when it comes to the performance of our (government run) public school system.

How long must these children have to be stuck in the same terrible schools, receiving an education that leaves them ill-prepared for success? The sad part is, they can’t do anything about it. They are not the ones who can get it right.

We are. The adults. The citizens of Nevada. The voters.

When will the school district administrations, unions and our elected officials make real change? When will the parents rise up and demand better options for their children?

When the voters put enough pressure on the system — that’s when.

NPRI is here to create that pressure. Pressure, discomfort, guilt in the conscience of those who have the ability to implement change. Conscience over the thousands of opportunities for Nevada children lost, followed by real ideas for school reform.

In the movie, Bill Murray grows tired of waking up every morning to the alarm clock playing Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe”. Well, I’m tired of waking up each morning and reading about how the schools in Nevada are terrible.

Let’s not keep repeating the same mistakes. Let’s get it right this time!

 

In case you missed it…

 

Tax reform/ global apocalypse

According to Nancy Pelosi, passage of the GOP tax reform bill “literally” marked “the end of the world.” So, the apocalypse is now upon us. But as NPRI Communications Director Michael Schaus points out: At least the end of the world comes with a bump in pay! Workers and businesses are already seeing the benefits from the reduction in tax rates and starting this month, workers will see an increase in their take-home pay, thanks to lower withholding. In other words, despite the apocalyptic rhetoric from the reform’s opponents, Americans in every income bracket are about to see their financial situation improve. What a way for the world to end. (Read more)

 

Civil Asset Forfeiture

While many states have implemented new limits on the policing practice known as “Civil Asset Forfeiture,” Nevada has not. In fact, law enforcement agencies in Nevada are exploiting the practice even more than in years prior. This alone should be enough to concern civil libertarians, but it actually gets worse: The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is using a legally

 

dubious argument to keep the public in the dark when it comes to how, exactly, it uses the practice. (Read more)

 

Big Government

One of the policy proposals floated by President Trump in the State of the Union Address this week was the concept of federally-implemented “paid family leave.” Some libertarian and conservative policy wonks have tried to outline ways such a policy could be done without creating a new entitlement program on the federal level. One idea is to allow individuals the ability to receive paid leave through Social Security but such concepts still have one major flaw: It’s still a new entitlement, being funded by a federal government that already overspends on social welfare programs with little regard for future fiscal restraint. (Read more)

 

Politics

Why is it that progressives constantly complain about the corruption that stems from “money in politics,” but then trust the very politicians who are supposedly corrupted by all that money to fix that problem? Indeed, on many issues, the liberal left is plagued by cognitive dissonance. But they aren’t alone. In fact, conservatives and libertarians suffer from the same phenomenon in many cases. How, exactly, are we supposed to have honest and open debate about policies, if we can’t even be honest and open with ourselves? (Read more)

 

Business

Every time we turn around, it seems as theres another tax being levied against businesses, another regulation being implemented or more talk about raising the minimum wage. Unfortunately, these anti-business proposals are often supported by large portions of the voting public and there’s a good reason why that is the case: Most people are under the impression that businesses have far higher profit margins than they actually do. This explains why so many voters are quick to support such policies, and dismissive of warnings that doing so will drive up prices. (Read more)

 

Second Amendment

Very few things about so-called “commonsense” gun-control are actually grounded in anything resembling common sense. New York’s most recent gun-control attempt is a perfect example. Empire-State residents now must first obtain a permit to purchase or even possess a handgun. The permit is supposed to be issued on a lifetime basis, but thanks to the state’s anti-gun “SAFE” act, permit holders were required to renew their lifetime permits by January 31, 2018. The requirement has caused confusion, civil disobedience and outright refusal to comply. So far, anywhere between 20 and 50 percent of the state’s lawful firearm owners have failed renew their permits, creating a headache for law enforcement tasked with ensuring compliance. (Read more)

 

 

 

 

 

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School Choice

Happy National School Choice Week! Despite the fact that Nevada failed to fund and implement the nation’s first-ever universal school choice program in 2017 — Education Savings Accounts — the landscape for increased choice in education continues to be promising both nationally and locally. Underreported, however, is the fact that the recently passed GOP tax reform plan is, in fact, a step toward greater school choice for many middle-income families. With the Child Tax Credit being increased, many families might soon find themselves in a better financial position to seek out educational options such as extra-curricular lessons, tutoring or even private school. (Read more)

 

Tax reform

It seems like every week since the passage of the GOP tax plan, we’ve seen multiple stories about businesses giving their workers raises, shelling out bonuses or bringing more money back to the United States — and this last week was no exception. FedEx is the latest company to announce it will be using tax savings to reinvest in its workforce. According to the announcement, employees will see more than $3 billion in raises and wage increases, thanks to the reform. Opponents of the tax plan, however, aren’t letting up. They continue to insist — despite the boosted paychecks and larger take-home pay for most Americans — that the reform is nothing but bad news. (Watch here)

 

Individual privacy

Do you own your information if it’s digitally held by a software company? What if that information is stored outside of the United States? Where, exactly, is the line that allows the federal government to treat digital property differently than other types of property? These are a few of the questions that are likely to be answered by a pending U.S. Supreme Court case. In short, the U.S. government is seeking access to electronic communications that Microsoft has stored in Ireland — but the software giant is arguing that users, not Microsoft, owns that data, and therefore the government should follow the process for pursuing foreign investigations. The government, unsurprisingly, disagrees. As Ilya Shapiro writes at The Federalist, “The online world relies on trust. If consumers cannot trust that their data is secure and private, they will be far less likely to engage in e-commerce or even to send email.” (Read more)

 

Healthcare

Nevada Policy Research Institute’s recent paper highlighting the possibility of work-requirements for able-bodied Medicaid enrollees is already making noise throughout the state. The Nevada Independent reported that, unsurprisingly, “progressive” groups and politicians are largely opposed to the idea — an idea that is conceptually similar to the welfare work-requirements implemented by the Clinton administration in the 1990s. But, as NPRI Policy Analyst Daniel Honchariw points out, “Unfortunately, as the system currently works, it actually encourages many able-bodied adults to stay out of the workforce. As a result, the program isn’t just draining public finances, it’s eroding the self-sufficiency of those it’s purportedly supposed to be trying to help.” (Read more)

 

Cronyism

Amazon is still pitting cities against each other, shopping around for the “best” crony deal politicians are willing to offer. Maryland's Republican governor, Larry Hogan, is pulling out all the stops in an effort to woo the corporation into his backyard. Hogan’s proposal includes $150 million in direct grants, as well as infrastructure upgrades, transit projects and tax abatements totaling roughly $5 billion. Maybe, rather than shelling out $5 billion to a private company, politicians in Maryland should focus on improving the state’s business climate for the entrepreneurs and corporations already in its backyard. (Read more and watch the video)

 

Fiscal and economic

Truth In Accounting has released its most recent evaluation of the finances of major cities — and the news isn’t great for Las Vegas. The City’s debt burden is roughly $241 million, or $1,200 for every Las Vegas taxpayer. Additionally, the city has more than $535 million in unfunded pension promises and almost $74 million in unfunded retiree healthcare benefits. But, there is a bright side: Las Vegas was transparent about some of its liabilities, which is more than we can say for many big cities. (Read more here — Las Vegas information is on page 62 of the study.)  

 

 

 

In case you missed it...

 

Health care

Medicaid has transformed from a critical safety net for the most vulnerable members of society into a program that encourages dependency and erodes self-sufficiency. More than half of Medicaid enrollees didn’t work at all in 2015, and roughly 60 percent of Nevadans who gained Medicaid coverage — thanks to the program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — didn’t work at all during 2015. It’s for this reason, NPRI Policy Analyst Daniel Honchariw says Nevada lawmakers must look at the possibility of implementing work requirements for able-bodied enrollees. (Read Honchariw’s op-ed here) Such a policy is just one of many policy initiatives Nevada could take, despite federal inaction on health care, according to NPRI’s newly-released study on state-based health care policy options. (Read more)

 

Tax reform

The benefits of the GOP tax plan just keep showing up. Over 2 million workers have already benefitted thanks to the reform — and virtually all American workers are likely to see a boost to their take-home pay next month. But that’s just the beginning. In recent years, numerous corporations had moved their operations (and their money) off-shore in an effort to avoid America’s punitively high tax rates — but that’s now changing. Apple announced this week that it plans to pay $38 billion in taxes to repatriate hundreds of billions of dollars back to the states. The company has also pledged to invest $350 billion in American operations in the next five years and hire more than 20,000 American workers. (Read more)

 

Education

State Senator Tick Segerblom has a plan to increase funding for government-run education: Increase Clark County’s sales tax. It’s bad enough that Sen. Segerblom is pushing to hike a regressive and punitive sales tax just years after the state raised $1.4 billion in new taxes. What’s even worse, however, is that he hopes to establish a legal loophole that would allow state lawmakers to do so without Nevada’s constitutionally required threshold of two-thirds approval within each legislative chamber. (Read more)

 

Minimum wage

While cuts to federal tax rates are putting more dollars in the pockets of workers and spurring economic growth, government-mandated minimum-wage increases are having the opposite effect across the nation. The restaurant chain Red Robin recently announced it would be eliminating bus-boys at 570 locations due to “rising labor costs.” The cause of those rising labor costs? Well, in most cases, it’s the increased minimum wage that took place in 18 states and 20 cities just this month. (Read more)

 

Cronyism

There has recently been talk about bringing back earmarks — those special-interest spending provisions that used to be attached to bills, encouraging lawmakers to vote “yea” on bills they would otherwise oppose. Even President Trump has floated the idea of bringing back the practice, claiming that doing so might encourage some partisan lawmakers to once again consider working with the opposing party. But not everyone is on board. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) reminds us that earmarks were banned in 2010 for one very simple (and important) reason: They encourage cronyism, abuse and government waste. “Who can forget pork-barrel embarrassments like the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ the ‘Monuments to Me’ projects that members got named after themselves, or the turtle tunnel in Florida (yes, it’s a tunnel for turtles) — ? Earmarks were everything Americans couldn’t stand about Washington — corrupt, wasteful, entitled, and out of touch,” writes Sen. Lee. (Read more)

 

War on poverty

California officially has the highest poverty rate in the nation, as the LA Times reported this week. The revelation isn’t that surprising, given the skyrocketing cost of living in California and the complete disregard for entitlement reform within state government. In short, the state’s burdensome regulations, taxes and massive welfare state are actually contributing to the poverty crisis within its borders, rather than mitigating it. And while plenty of “red” states also ranked fairly high, one thing is certain: California’s indifference to sound policy is making it increasingly harder for over a fifth of the state’s population to climb the economic ladder. (Read more)

 

 

 

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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.)

 

 

 

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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)

 

 

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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)

 

 

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