Freedom and happiness

Sharon Rossie

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

A new study released this week confirms something many of you — if not all of you — already know:

Freedom makes people happy.

In fact, freedom is more important to a person’s happiness than that person’s age, income or even employment status, according to the study by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank. Using data from the World Values Survey, European Values Studies and the think tank’s own Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report, researchers found that the world’s most economically free countries are also its happiest.

Besides the inherent value of living in a country that is economically free, the researchers found that individuals who believe they have more control over their own lives — something that accompanies economic freedom — are more satisfied.

This study validates what we at NPRI, and all of you who are friends of the Institute, work so hard for on a daily basis. Whether through keeping the public informed of how government is spending money through; studying the impact of collective bargaining on government budgets; analyzing the health of Nevada’s public employee pension system; or sharing the value of parental choice in education, we believe the more freedom people have to live their lives as they wish, the happier and more prosperous they will be.

Earlier this month, Nevada students and businesses gained more freedom as scholarship organizations began participating in the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship program. As explained by NPRI’s Executive Vice President, Victor Joecks, this new school choice and business tax-credit program — though somewhat overshadowed by Nevada ESAs — is sure to make Nevada students, families, business owners and communities happier.

Under the new program, created by AB165, businesses are now able to receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits for funding scholarships that will assist qualifying low-income students in attending private schools that will help nurture them into the educated, capable leaders Nevada needs to have a more successful tomorrow.

Announced this week is that early applications for Nevada’s ESA program — which will allow any student who has been in public school at least 100 days immediately prior to applying for an ESA to receive at least $5,100 a year for non-public school education — are now available. The early applications, according to the Nevada Treasurer, will allow students who spent last year in public school to move into private or other non-public classrooms at the beginning of the upcoming school year and still be eligible to receive ESA monies in 2016.

The United States, according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, ranks number 12 when it comes to economic freedom. What really disturbs me is that Canada, the country I was born and raised in, has surpassed the United States for several years.

One of the reasons I’m most excited to be back at NPRI is to help change that, and Nevada’s school choice programs are key in those efforts.

As Nevada families begin to use these new choice programs and other states witness our successes, I know we can continue to push the needle forward and make the U.S. a freer and happier place to live.

Warm regards,

Sharon J. Rossie
NPRI President

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