Pennsylvania Teachers Woefully Unprepared for Classroom Challenges, Study Finds

Teachers are not ready to teach in many states including Pennsylvania. That was the message...

Yes, Virginia, There is no Political Santa Claus

At a time of the year when gift giving and charitable good spirit fills the air, please allow me to...

Embrace, Don’t Fight the Future of the Labor Market

In 1811, British factory workers literally “fought the machine,” protesting against technology...

What if Obama’s Climate Change Policies are Based on pHraud?

“Ocean acidification” (OA) is claimed to be a phenomenon that will destroy ocean life—all due to...

Searching for Lessons of Hope in NYC Schools

Review of Lessons of Hope: How to Fix Our School, by Joel Klein, Harper, 320 pages, $21.16, 2014...

MOOCs Lead to Massive Data Collection

Students enrolled in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) may be subject to mass data collection by...
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Education

Pennsylvania Teachers Woefully Unprepared for Classroom Challenges, Study Finds

Teachers are not ready to teach in many states including Pennsylvania. That was the message delivered by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) in a national report on educators released in December. The eighth annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook examines the effectiveness of educators in all 50 states and concludes school districts are mostly failing to provide well-prepared...

Environment

Peru Wrangling Produces Toothless Climate Agreement

Climate Change Weekly #151 The international global warming conference held in Lima, Peru in early December closely resembled previous climate change conferences. There were countless speeches. Developing nations requested pay-offs. Wealthy countries demanded more be done to reduce carbon emissions. And after seemingly endless negotiations, back-room meetings, and whispering, world leaders...

Battle Lines Form Over Renewable Fuel Decision

Sitting on opposite sides of the fence, refiners and producers of biofuels are anxiously awaiting a decision by the Obama administration on the amount of renewable fuels Washington will mandate for use in the transportation sector. In November 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a significant reduction in the federally mandated volume of biofuels in its Renewable Fuels...

California Requires Oil, Gas Companies to Report Water Use

The California state Senate unanimously passed a bill to require oil and gas companies to report the source and amount of water they use in drilling operations. The measure was approved during a prolonged and severe statewide drought. Law May Backfire “Requiring oil and gas companies to report water use falls firmly within this class of useless and possibly counterproductive actions: it is most...

Finance & Insurance

Swiss Bank Drops Out of IRS Tax Compliance Program

Reversing earlier moves taken this summer and fall, a major international bank is ending its cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service’s efforts to prevent investors from investing money in foreign countries with more amenable tax structures and policies, such as Ireland or Switzerland. During a Zurich speech, Barclays bank executive Francesco Grosoli announced that the firm’s Swiss...

CFTC Rulemaking Process Needs Greater Scrutiny, Transparency

Regulators, confident in their own virtue and ability, have typically seen little need to have anyone check their work. As a result, regulatory requirements are flowing out of agencies such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission without the required public, judicial, and legislative oversight. As the government has expanded, Congress increasingly has regulated by delegation, leaving major...

Gordon Tullock, R.I.P.

Gordon Tullock, one of the truly great economists of the 20th century, passed away on Monday. He was 92. Tullock is best known for the role he played in founding the “public choice” school of economics, which subjects political decisions and programs to rigorous economic analysis, and for promoting the idea of “rent seeking,” whereby the origins of many regulations are tracked back to the self-...

Health

New GOP Congress Likely to Consider Insurer Bailouts

The Republican-led 114th Congress will have to decide whether to provide taxpayer dollars to health insurance companies facing losses for selling policies on the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act. The subsidies are built into the law but require an appropriation from Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service. If Congress does not approve funding for the subsidies,...

Report: Health Care Consumers Expect More

A recent report by Strategy&, a subsidiary of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and formerly known as Booz & Company, notes a growing interest among medical patients in taking greater control over their health care. Titled The Birth of the Healthcare Consumer: Growing Demands for Choice, Engagement, and Experience, the report summarizes the results of a survey of more than 2,300 U.S...

Shumlin Single-Payer Effort Hurts Re-Election

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin’s efforts to bring government-run single-payer health care to his state may have cost him politically and prevented his direct reelection to another term. During his 2014 campaign, Shumlin faced severe criticism on the campaign trail over his single-payer plan, particularly over an unsuccessful attempt to get control of Medicare in Vermont. Shumlin received 46.4 percent...

Taxes

Virginia Considers Increased Tobacco Interdictions, Regulations

The Commonwealth of Virginia is considering forcing retailers to get licenses to sell tobacco products, attempting to increase the difficulty of reselling Virginia-purchased tobacco in other states. Currently, Virginia laws do not restrict to whom wholesalers sell their products, and excise taxes are only applied during retail transactions. The Commonwealth State is one of 14 states without laws...

Government Employees Sheltered from Economic Storms, Study Finds

A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds public sector employees generally enjoy greater job security than private sector employees, especially during recessions and other economic downturns. The study’s authors, Jason Kopelman and Princeton University Professor of Economics and Business Policy Harvey Rosen, examined 22 years of employment data from the United...

New Study Shows Unpredictable Effects of Monetary Policy Intervention

A new paper by New York University Assistant Professor of Finance Johannes Stroebel and University of Chicago Assistant Professor of Economics Joseph Vavra explores the relationship between home and retail prices. In their paper, “House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices,” the authors find a strong positive correlation between retail and housing. Between 2001 and 2006, home prices...

Tech

FCC Votes to Increase E-rate Telecom Taxes

In mid-December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to hike fees on consumers’ wireless services, subsidizing the cost of Internet connectivity for public libraries and school. Created in 1996 as part of the Telecommunications Act, the E-rate program receives $2.25 billion annually in consumers’ money, through the Universal Service Fund, a line-item fee tacked upon to the bills of...

Obama to the FCC: Go Ahead and Break the Internet

President Barack Obama’s recent call to the Federal Communications Commission to strictly regulate broadband networks could be the death knell for the open, free, and prosperous Internet that has become one of the key engines of the American economy. That engine is not broken, but bureaucratic meddling will surely do the trick. In 1996, Congress classified broadband as an “information service”...