Traffic Congestion in the World: 10 Worst and Best Cities

The continuing improvement in international traffic congestion data makes comparisons between...

Feds Rule Blind Spider Not Protected by ESA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined a blind, cave-dwelling spider does not merit...

Beyond Polycentricity: 2000s Job Growth (Continues to) Follow Population

The United States lost jobs between 2000 and 2010, the first loss between census years that has...

Education Incentives can Help End Low Expectations

Behavioral psychologists and economists long have considered incentives to be a normal part of...

Health Prices & Irrational Incentives

Price in health care are a mess, and the discussion about why that is the case is often even more...

High-Priced Drug Treatments – Worth the Cost?

Drug manufacturer Merck recently won approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its new “...
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Education

North Carolina Lawmakers Allow Waiting Kids to Enter Choice Program

When the North Carolina legislature approved a budget allocating more money for a new school voucher program in late July, it answered one mom’s prayer. Waiting for the initial school choice law to pass last year was a nailbiter, said Kena Cooper, and waiting to see whether her son Keenan—one of 4,200 qualified applicants in a lottery for about 2,400 seats—received a scholarship was “nerve-...

Environment

Feds Rule Blind Spider Not Protected by ESA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined a blind, cave-dwelling spider does not merit protection under the Endangered Species Act. The FWS found the Warton’s Cave meshweaver, is not distinct enough from other types of spiders to merit protecting. Twenty Years to Decide Fish and Wildlife’s decision took 20 years. In 1994, animal conservation organizations, including the Wild Earth...

Wastewater Tremors Weaker than Natural Earthquakes, USGS Reports

Small earthquakes linked to underground wastewater injection are substantially weaker in their effects than natural earthquakes of the same magnitude, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey . Natural earthquakes are approximately 16 times as strong as human-induced tremors of the same magnitude. Recent Increase in Small Quakes The USGS has documented an increase in...

Industrial Wind Farm Kills Bats While Feds Ignore Problem

A Nevada wind farm has killed triple the number of bats allowed under an agreement with federal wildlife officials, yet the federal government has imposed no significant penalties. Facility Responds to Bat Deaths Located 260 miles northeast of Las Vegas, the 152-megawatt Spring Valley Wind Energy project supplies energy to approximately 40,000 homes. The project, however, has been forced to make...

Finance & Insurance

‘Other Things’ Aren’t Equal When Government Intervenes in the Economy

The use of the ceteris paribus, or “other things equal” assumption, is an essential aspect of economic education. It is an important caveat that helps make sense of a complicated world by clarifying the stories that comprise the core of economics.  Unfortunately, acceptance of that phrase has also provided an opening for misrepresenting economic reality when analyzing government...

Opponents of Government’s ‘Choke Point’ Program Work to Loosen Its Grip

Two federal agencies have backed off—slightly—from a program critics say has been intimidating banks into canceling services for legitimate, law-abiding businesses and making it difficult if not impossible for them to operate. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) launched “Operation Choke Point” without warning or public discussion in March 2013....

How Wall Street Tobacco Deals Left States With Billions in Toxic Debt

[Editor’s note: “Politicians wanted upfront cash from a legal victory over Big Tobacco, and bankers happily obliged. The price? A handful of states promised to repay $64 billion on just $3 billion advanced.” So reads the teaser headline on this report from the independent, non-profit ProPublica news organization. The beginning of the article follows, with a link to the full story.] By Cezary...

Health

High-Priced Drug Treatments – Worth the Cost?

Drug manufacturer Merck recently won approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its new “game-changing” treatment – Keytruda – for late-stage melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. Keytruda offers “unprecedented response rates” for patients with late stage melanoma who otherwise face a death sentence, according to a September 8 analysis by Colin White, lead analyst for oncology at Datamonitor...

Health Prices & Irrational Incentives

Price in health care are a mess, and the discussion about why that is the case is often even more so. Today John Graham of the National Center for Policy Analysis sheds some light on the issue: Kaiser Permanente’s Former Chairman Might Not Understand Why Healthcare Prices Are Different Consumer Reports has published an article demanding that we get “mad about the outrageous cost of...

Better Access to Care for Wisconsin’s Former, Current Medicaid Recipients

Governor Walker’s decision to remove 62,776 people from Wisconsin’s Medicaid program who earned more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) made them eligible for highly-subsidized private coverage in the health insurance exchange. According to Linda Gorman, a state health policy expert at the Colorado-based Independence Institute, “The major differences for the people who are...

Taxes

Philly Sin Tax Scheme Unlikely to Save Schools, Studies Say

This month, Governor Tom Corbett (R-Pennsylvania) reaffirmed the legislature’s efforts to authorize levy new sin taxes upon Philadelphia residents. Suggested as a remedy for the city’s failing public school system, the tax hike also appears to have political motivations, as Corbett lags behind Democratic Party challenger Tom Wolf. Wolf, currently holding a 21-point lead over Corbett in recent...

Staying Out of the Red: A State Auditor’s Take on Pension Reporting Standards

A hot topic of discussion amongst taxpayers and public employers alike is how to properly manage our public employee pension systems and make sure that pension obligations are met. In June 2012, the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued Statement 68, requiring governments that provide defined benefit pensions to recognize their long-term obligation for pension benefits as a...

Research: Ex-Im Bank Hurts Economy, Shifts Burden onto Businesses

The charter of the U.S. Export-Import Bank was set to expire on September 30, but received a nine-month extension, courtesy of provisions inserted into the Continuing Appropriations Resolution. It remains to be seen whether Ex-Im is finally terminated on June 30, 2015, which is an outcome that may depend on greater awareness of the collateral damage the Bank inflicts on unwitting victims. Through...

Tech

The FCC Shouldn't Go Down the Primrose (Preemption) Path

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already has suffered two judicial rebukes in its efforts to impose net neutrality mandates on Internet service providers, most recently this past January in the D.C. Circuit's Verizon v. FCC decision. Nonetheless, the agency now is in the midst of yet another rule-making proposing to adopt new net neutrality regulations. But here I want to...

A Model for Innovation Protection: Section 1201

Today the House Judiciary Committee is undertaking the next in its series of hearings discussing the Copyright Act. This time the hearing will focus on Title 17, Chapter 12 which discusses copyright protection and management systems, including section 1201 regarding the circumvention of copyright protection systems. The very design of the Chapter was to promote creation and innovation, imbuing...