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Texas cities shouldn’t block short-term rentals

Out of the Storm News - 2 hours 40 min ago

The past few years have seen the rise of the “sharing” economy. First, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft allowed thousands of drivers to earn extra cash (and in some cases, make a nice living) while giving travelers an alternative to often-inefficient taxi services.

Now it’s the turn of hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to feel the heat of competition, as companies like Airbnb and HomeAway provide an easy online platform for homeowners to rent out their home, apartment or even just a single room for short periods of time.

As with ride sharing, the growth of short-term rentals has been mostly a boon, for owners and travelers alike. Arecent study of the impact of Airbnb in Austin found that competition from short-term rentals helped in “reducing hotel pricing power during periods of peak demand,” as high demand drew added supply to the market. As the study notes, by forcing competing hotels to offer better prices, the expansion of short-term rentals “benefits all consumers, not just participants in the sharing economy.”

Short-term rentals also benefit local economies by allowing property owners to free what economists call “trapped capital” such as spare bedrooms or empty houses when owners are themselves on vacation. Short-term rentals both expand the supply of available lodging for travelers and allow property owners to enjoy new kinds of returns on their assets.

While short-term rentals are sometimes blamed for making housing less affordable, the evidence does not support this. Even where they are most prevalent, short-term rentals make up only a tiny percentage of overall housing stock. The real culprit when is comes to affordable housing is restrictions on building.

Cities have not always known how to respond to the sharing economy. In many cases, they’ve tried to force short-term rentals into outdated regulatory schemes. In a new report, the R Street Institute takes a comprehensive lookat short-term rental regulation in 50 of America’s largest cities, as well as some popular vacation destinations. The report grades cities based on whether the city allows short-term rentals, the amount and frequency of fees and licenses required to operate a short-term-rental property, and other restrictions, which range from limiting the number of guests to limiting how far an owner may be from the unit.

Galveston ranks first in the nation for having the most favorable regulatory environment for short-term rentals. The city charges only minimal fees and imposes few regulatory requirements. Other Texas cities, such as Dallas and El Paso, also earned A ratings.

Not all Texas cities were so positive, however. Austin, for example, received a D rating, due largely to harsh new restrictions on short-term rentals passed by the city council. The new rules limit the number of people who can stay in a short term rental, impose a curfew on when guests can be outside the rental property, increase inspection requirements and make it easier to revoke licenses. Even more severe is the treatment of so-called “Type II” short-term rentals, which are not owner occupied. The ordinance ends the issuance of any new licenses for these properties.

The Austin Council has justified these measures as a means of dealing with a small number of so-called “party houses” — homes frequently rented out to large groups, often for rowdy parties. Yet the ban on all Type II licenses suggests the regulations go beyond what’s necessary to deal with a few bad actors. In fact, many of these new rules seem geared more toward increasing the cost of operating a short-term-rental property rather than resolving any legitimate issue with noise, parking or other social disturbance.

Attempts to regulate short-term rentals out of existence are a big mistake. Issues involving noise or traffic can be dealt with in most cases via existing ordinances, without having to create special restrictions for rentals. Instead, cities should view the ability to rent out a spare room as a benefit not only for homeowners but for the city as a whole.

Review of F.H. Buckley’s The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America

Somewhat Reasonable - 3 hours 17 min ago

The United States has lapsed into aristocracy, the New Class — the politically connected “enemies of promise” — standing in the way of the free market reforms that could make America the home of social mobility once again. This is among the central theses of a thought-provoking and inspiring new book from George Mason University law professor F.H. Buckley, whose The Way Back challenges us, perhaps audaciously, to pursue socialist ends through capitalist means. Buckley roundly repudiates the narrative, so common among free market types, that wealth and income inequality simply don’t matter, that there is no place for such concerns in a free society with a market economy. The fly in the ointment, of course, is the awkward fact that Americans no longer live in such a society, ensnared in a system of, in Buckley’s words, “crony capitalism in which favored firms pay for protection against business rivals” (emphasis in original). The alacrity with which Buckley confronts this uncomfortable feature of American political economy is an example for everyone in the liberty movement. If we are ever to demonstrate the importance of individual liberty and free market competition, to show the way back from the new expression of aristocracy that Buckley describes, then we must heed his lessons well.

Even more problematic than America’s inequality, Buckley argues, is its immobility, which finds Americans locked in the social and economic class of their birth. Citing data from 2011’s Pew Economic Mobility Project, he shows that “the U.S. is now one of the least mobile societies in the First World.” Part of what immobility metrics measure, Buckley explains, is the lag time that separates the high-earning forebear from his middle class descendants; if it takes longer for the rich ancestor’s wealth to dissipate, for subsequent generations to fall out of the upper echelon, then the society is less mobile, with inequality calcifying into immobility. Buckley suggests that this should “be troubling for Americans, who don’t want to see permanent classes of peers and peasants.” Libertarians seem to have a tin ear in discussions concerning economic class distinctions, inequality, and immobility, assiduous in our efforts not to feed the fallacy that free market economic relationships are zero-sum in orientation. But while it’s certainly true that exchange in a true free market is positive-sum, beneficial for both parties, cronyism often is a zero-sum fight for special favors. The recrudescence of aristocracy, Buckley argues, is the direct result of this cronyism, a “courtier class of favored recipients enrich[ing] itself” at the expense of societal wealth and efficiency.

The Way Back teaches that conservatives and libertarians need not — indeed, must not — shy away from condemning the present system of privilege and rent-seeking, instead contrasting that system with an open, competitive market. Today’s friends of freedom are heirs to the legacy of nineteenth century free traders who saw competition and commerce as diffusive of vast fortunes; they did not take their principled defenses of economic liberty to be apologies for the status quo but threats to it. Based on the idea that the law should treat everyone the same, that class laws, special protections, and privileges of all kinds should be repealed, Adam Smith’s “system of natural liberty” was inherently an attack on the powerful special interests of his day. Landed aristocrats were, during the 1800s, among the most forceful opponents of free trade. Indeed, the advent of classical economics, through the works of Smith, Ricardo, and others, represented a seismic shift, a turn away from statist power and privilege toward the peaceful cooperation of free trade. Even now, the profundity of their insights has not fully expressed itself. The persistence of certain economic fallacies (protectionism, for example) opens the way for rent-seeking pressure groups. Thus does the long-discredited mercantilism of old creep insidiously into our politics, firms and whole industries competing not in the marketplace but in the halls of government. Honest entrepreneurship is naturally anathema to the New Class, for whom the way to wealth is through government authority, blocking the path to advancement with “a profusion of new legal and regulatory barriers.” Hamstrung by the separation of powers that was designed to prevent such profligate aristocratic government, an America that is both too big and too tightly bound to special interests seems almost beyond reform and repair.

Buckley’s book shows, among other things, that history is not always and necessarily the steady march of progress; it can, propelled by the reemergence of poisonous ideas, chart the wrong course. History has not, contra Fukuyama, found its end. And if a happy ending is not a foregone conclusion, then the battle of ideas is that much more important, the stakes that much higher. The proponents of limited government, free markets, and individual rights must prosecute the case — practical and moral — for these vital ideas with clarity and conviction. Rather than waving away legitimate concerns about America’s class structure and the growing chasm that divides rich from poor, libertarians and conservatives must demonstrate that free markets are not culpable, that big government favoritism has perverted our political economy. The importance of studying the history of economic thought grows more apparent as the failures of the prevailing political and economic consensus appear ever more striking. For so long, economics has, as Murray Rothbard once noted, “displayed little interest in its own past,” overconfident in its mathematical methodologies, complacent in its self-image as a hard science.

Buckley’s The Way Back accomplishes the almost Herculean feat of discussing wealth and income inequality, class, and social mobility while appealing to neither the vacuous class war rhetoric of the left nor the revolting anti-intellectualism of, for example, the current election cycle. Buckley is a realist; he isn’t aiming at the castle in the clouds of “perfect mobility.” To be beguiled by that “false ideal” is to start on the progressive path of social engineering, the disastrous policies of which gave us the very aristocratic New Class that Buckley condemns. While “[w]e’d like to think that there’s something natural about social mobility,” he observes, it seems the natural state is actually the aristocracy to which we are returning, America’s relative freedom being the true historical aberration. Again we see that the fight for liberty is forever balanced on a razor’s edge. The Way Back concludes on a word of hope, “the voices which . . . appeal to individual liberty and a common humanity,” scorning the cronies of all partisan stripes, fighting the “uphill battle” for liberty and justice.

Categories: On the Blog

FDA imposes rules for e-cigarettes in a landmark move

Out of the Storm News - 4 hours 16 min ago

From New York Times

“In terms of the health of the public, this action is a disaster,” said Dr. Joel L. Nitzkin, senior fellow for tobacco policy at the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. “This will move the debate into a new arena. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing lawsuits.”

Heartland Weekly – Climate Realists Fight Back Against State AGs

Blog - Education - 4 hours 36 min ago

If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you every Friday with a highlight show. Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Heartland Opens Michael Parry Mazur Library
At a grand opening event attended by Thomas Hayes, mayor of Arlington Heights, and Dr. John Mazur, brother of the late Michael Parry Mazur, among others, The Heartland Institute formally announced the opening of the best collection of books about liberty in the Midwest and dedicated it to the memory of Michael Parry Mazur. Read all about it at the new webpage describing the collection and how to use it. Got books? Donate them to Heartland and get a tax deduction! READ MORE

Climate Realists Fight Back Against State AGs
H. Sterling Burnett, Climate Change Weekly
In April, politicians and environmental activists made good on their threats to abuse the legal system in order to silence climate realists. A subpoena was served on the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The subpoena gave the organization only four weeks to produce 10 years of publications, correspondence, emails, statements, notes, drafts, and other documents relating to climate change. Calling it “an affront to our First Amendment rights of free speech,” CEI is fighting the subpoena. READ MORE

Featured Podcast: Kent Lassman: CEI Subpoenaed on Climate Change Dissent
On the front lines of the war on climate realists is Kent Lassman, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Lassman joins the Heartland Daily Podcast to talk about the group of state attorneys general attempting to intimidate CEI and other skeptics of man-made climate change into silence. Lassman recounts how CEI was subpoenaed on his second day as the new president of CEI, quite a rude welcome! He explains how litigation has a chilling effect on public debate on many issues, not only climate change. LISTEN TO MORE

Bonus Podcast: Hans von Spakovsky: Nonprofit Organizations and Donor Privacy
Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, joins the Heartland Daily Podcast to talk about the fallout from California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ attempt to force Americans for Prosperity, a national nonprofit organization advocating for fiscal responsibility in government, to reveal its donors. Von Spakovsky explains how lawmakers often propose donor disclosure laws to suppress speech and harass those who support groups that criticize an over-reaching government. LISTEN TO MORE

Heartland Library Book Shelf of the Week – F.A. Hayek
For more, follow Heartland on Twitter @HeartlandInst

Coming Next Week to Arlington Heights: Ryan Yonk discusses Nature Unbound
If you love discussions about liberty, you will not want to miss the great series of events Heartland has lined up through the spring and summer. On Wednesday, May 11, Ryan Yonk, executive director of Strata Policy, comes to Heartland to discuss his new book, Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy and the Environment. We hope to see you here in Arlington Heights, but if you are unable to attend in person, our events are live-streamed and archived on Heartland’s YouTube page. SEE UPCOMING EVENTS HERE

It’s Time to Dump Detroit Public Schools
Lindsey Stroud, Detroit News
The Detroit Public School system is floundering. From 2000 to 2015, DPS closed 195 schools, and saw an enrollment decline of 71 percent, and the problems are only getting worse. If parents are given the power to put their children in safe, successful schools – public or private – kids now suffering in a failing system would have much greater access to a quality education, and DPS would be forced to be more efficient and more accountable, and to create a better education system that better serves the needs of its students. READ MORE

Ohio Medicaid Expansion Failures
Matthew Glans, Heartland Research & Commentary
Few states demonstrate the failure of Medicaid expansion better than Ohio. The expansion of Medicaid by Gov. John Kasich (R) is already beginning to hemorrhage expenses the state’s budget may not be able to withstand. Medicaid expansion, at its core, builds on a failed model whereby the national government dictates multiple aspects of the insurance plan and the beneficial aspects of real market competition are lost. Once expansion occurs, it is extremely difficult to roll back. READ MORE

Is Government Responsible for Illinois’ Rising Suicide Rate?
Justin Haskins, Chicago Tribune
Multiple factors have been linked to climbing suicide rates, including drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, and family history. Research also shows one cause of suicide is lack of access to mental health services. In this op-ed published by the Chicago Tribune, Heartland Executive Editor Justin Haskins discusses the need to repeal “certificate of need” laws that artificially constrain the supply of health care services. READ MORE

Liberalism Will Never Fix Our Broken Health Care System
Justin Haskins, Consumer Power Report
One of the greatest problems with giving government even the smallest amount of control over an industry is the fact that control often expands enormously. In a recent New York Times op-ed, two university professors described the failures and shortcomings of Obamacare, but instead of conceding that the industry should embrace free-market reforms, they suggested government seize even more control over the health care system. Justin Haskins sets them straight. READ MORE

National Test Scores Dip Yet Again
Joy Pullmann, School Choice Weekly
The latest results of the “Nation’s Report Card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, are in and they show yet another drop. Just 37 percent of U.S. twelfth graders performed well enough in math and reading to indicate they would do well in college, a dip from the last round of scores in 2013. Education Secretary John King says the dip is due to teachers still “retooling their classroom practices to adapt” to Common Core State Standards. Really? American children have now spent nearly half their school careers being Common Core’s guinea pigs. READ MORE

Bringing Education Freedom to Native Americans
Lennie Jarratt, Deseret News
Native American students are being left behind, educationally, in great numbers. This minority population is at the highest risk of any group of students in the nation for not receiving a proper education. Native American students deserve access to a quality education – just like every other student. Help is on the way. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) recently proposed the Native American Education Opportunity Act, which would direct the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reimburse states that fund education savings account (ESA) programs that allow Native American students to attend a school of their choice. READ MORE

Help Us Stop Wikipedia’s Lies!
Joseph L. Bast, Somewhat Reasonable
Many people rely on our profile on Wikipedia to provide an objective description of our mission, programs, and accomplishments. Alas, the profile they find there is a fake, filled with lies and libel about our funding, tactics, and the positions we take on controversial issues. Wikipedia refuses to make the changes we request. It even deletes and reverses all the changes made by others who know the profile is unreliable. We need your help! READ MORE

Invest in the Future of Freedom! Are you considering 2016 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make. Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.  

Heartland Weekly – Climate Realists Fight Back Against State AGs

Somewhat Reasonable - 4 hours 36 min ago

If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you every Friday with a highlight show. Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Heartland Opens Michael Parry Mazur Library
At a grand opening event attended by Thomas Hayes, mayor of Arlington Heights, and Dr. John Mazur, brother of the late Michael Parry Mazur, among others, The Heartland Institute formally announced the opening of the best collection of books about liberty in the Midwest and dedicated it to the memory of Michael Parry Mazur. Read all about it at the new webpage describing the collection and how to use it. Got books? Donate them to Heartland and get a tax deduction! READ MORE

Climate Realists Fight Back Against State AGs
H. Sterling Burnett, Climate Change Weekly
In April, politicians and environmental activists made good on their threats to abuse the legal system in order to silence climate realists. A subpoena was served on the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The subpoena gave the organization only four weeks to produce 10 years of publications, correspondence, emails, statements, notes, drafts, and other documents relating to climate change. Calling it “an affront to our First Amendment rights of free speech,” CEI is fighting the subpoena. READ MORE

Featured Podcast: Kent Lassman: CEI Subpoenaed on Climate Change Dissent
On the front lines of the war on climate realists is Kent Lassman, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Lassman joins the Heartland Daily Podcast to talk about the group of state attorneys general attempting to intimidate CEI and other skeptics of man-made climate change into silence. Lassman recounts how CEI was subpoenaed on his second day as the new president of CEI, quite a rude welcome! He explains how litigation has a chilling effect on public debate on many issues, not only climate change. LISTEN TO MORE

Bonus Podcast: Hans von Spakovsky: Nonprofit Organizations and Donor Privacy
Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, joins the Heartland Daily Podcast to talk about the fallout from California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ attempt to force Americans for Prosperity, a national nonprofit organization advocating for fiscal responsibility in government, to reveal its donors. Von Spakovsky explains how lawmakers often propose donor disclosure laws to suppress speech and harass those who support groups that criticize an over-reaching government. LISTEN TO MORE

Heartland Library Book Shelf of the Week – F.A. Hayek
For more, follow Heartland on Twitter @HeartlandInst

Coming Next Week to Arlington Heights: Ryan Yonk discusses Nature Unbound
If you love discussions about liberty, you will not want to miss the great series of events Heartland has lined up through the spring and summer. On Wednesday, May 11, Ryan Yonk, executive director of Strata Policy, comes to Heartland to discuss his new book, Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy and the Environment. We hope to see you here in Arlington Heights, but if you are unable to attend in person, our events are live-streamed and archived on Heartland’s YouTube page. SEE UPCOMING EVENTS HERE

It’s Time to Dump Detroit Public Schools
Lindsey Stroud, Detroit News
The Detroit Public School system is floundering. From 2000 to 2015, DPS closed 195 schools, and saw an enrollment decline of 71 percent, and the problems are only getting worse. If parents are given the power to put their children in safe, successful schools – public or private – kids now suffering in a failing system would have much greater access to a quality education, and DPS would be forced to be more efficient and more accountable, and to create a better education system that better serves the needs of its students. READ MORE

Ohio Medicaid Expansion Failures
Matthew Glans, Heartland Research & Commentary
Few states demonstrate the failure of Medicaid expansion better than Ohio. The expansion of Medicaid by Gov. John Kasich (R) is already beginning to hemorrhage expenses the state’s budget may not be able to withstand. Medicaid expansion, at its core, builds on a failed model whereby the national government dictates multiple aspects of the insurance plan and the beneficial aspects of real market competition are lost. Once expansion occurs, it is extremely difficult to roll back. READ MORE

Is Government Responsible for Illinois’ Rising Suicide Rate?
Justin Haskins, Chicago Tribune
Multiple factors have been linked to climbing suicide rates, including drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, and family history. Research also shows one cause of suicide is lack of access to mental health services. In this op-ed published by the Chicago Tribune, Heartland Executive Editor Justin Haskins discusses the need to repeal “certificate of need” laws that artificially constrain the supply of health care services. READ MORE

Liberalism Will Never Fix Our Broken Health Care System
Justin Haskins, Consumer Power Report
One of the greatest problems with giving government even the smallest amount of control over an industry is the fact that control often expands enormously. In a recent New York Times op-ed, two university professors described the failures and shortcomings of Obamacare, but instead of conceding that the industry should embrace free-market reforms, they suggested government seize even more control over the health care system. Justin Haskins sets them straight. READ MORE

National Test Scores Dip Yet Again
Joy Pullmann, School Choice Weekly
The latest results of the “Nation’s Report Card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, are in and they show yet another drop. Just 37 percent of U.S. twelfth graders performed well enough in math and reading to indicate they would do well in college, a dip from the last round of scores in 2013. Education Secretary John King says the dip is due to teachers still “retooling their classroom practices to adapt” to Common Core State Standards. Really? American children have now spent nearly half their school careers being Common Core’s guinea pigs. READ MORE

Bringing Education Freedom to Native Americans
Lennie Jarratt, Deseret News
Native American students are being left behind, educationally, in great numbers. This minority population is at the highest risk of any group of students in the nation for not receiving a proper education. Native American students deserve access to a quality education – just like every other student. Help is on the way. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) recently proposed the Native American Education Opportunity Act, which would direct the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reimburse states that fund education savings account (ESA) programs that allow Native American students to attend a school of their choice. READ MORE

Help Us Stop Wikipedia’s Lies!
Joseph L. Bast, Somewhat Reasonable
Many people rely on our profile on Wikipedia to provide an objective description of our mission, programs, and accomplishments. Alas, the profile they find there is a fake, filled with lies and libel about our funding, tactics, and the positions we take on controversial issues. Wikipedia refuses to make the changes we request. It even deletes and reverses all the changes made by others who know the profile is unreliable. We need your help! READ MORE

Invest in the Future of Freedom! Are you considering 2016 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make. Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.  
Categories: On the Blog

In The Tank Podcast (ep37): Next President’s Playbook, Renewables Dependent on Gov, ColoradoCare, and Illinois Taxes

Somewhat Reasonable - 5 hours 45 min ago

John and Donny are back! They continue their exploration of think tanks in #37 of the In The Tank Podcast. This weekly podcast features (as always) interviews, debates, and roundtable discussions that explore the work of think tanks across the country. The show is available for download as part of the Heartland Daily Podcast every Friday. Today’s podcast features work from No Labels, The Heartland Institute, the Independence Institute, and the Illinois Policy Institute.

Featured Work of the Week

This week’s featured work of the week is from No Labels – an American political organization based in the United States, composed of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. The piece highlighted is titled “Playbook for America’s Next President.” The guide offers 60 policy ideas that intend to solve problems that revolve around four specific goals in America – all solutions are said to have bipartisan support. John and Donny discuss a handful of this solutions and give their thoughts on the guide.

In the World of Think Tankery

Today Donny and John talk about a new Research & Commentary by The Heartland Institute titled “Wind & Solar Energy Growth Driven By Government Mandate.” The R&C highlights findings from a Berkeley National Laboratory report that attributes 60% of the growth in the renewable energy industry to government mandates. While the report most likely intended to highlight the importance of government mandates, the findings show how these energy sources fail to compete in the free market.

They also discuss an Issue Brief from the Independence Institute titled “Amendment 69: What You Need to Know About the ‘ColoradoCare’ Single-Payer Health Care Measure.” The brief outlines what the plan for a single-payer health care system would mean for the state and all the negative effects that would come with it.

Lastly, John and Donny talk about a recent proposal by an Illinois lawmaker to introduce a progressive income tax system to the state. The plan is dissected by several articles produced by the Illinois Policy Institute. The plan would have introduced a top taxing tier of 9.5 percent. As Donny and John comment, this will just speed up the exodus of citizens from the state.

Events 

I hope you’ll listen in, subscribe, and leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. We welcome your feedback in our new show’s inbox at InTheTankPodcast@gmail.com or follow us on twitter @InTheTankPod.

[Please subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Bringing Education Freedom to Native Americans

Blog - Education - 6 hours 2 min ago

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) recently proposed Senate Bill 2711, titled the Native American Education Opportunity Act. The bill would direct the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reimburse states that fund education savings account (ESA) programs that allow Native American students to attend a school of their choice. If passed, this legislation would open up a new array of education opportunities for Native American children and would give them access to a quality education, which, unfortunately, is often lacking on many American Indian reservations today.

McCain says the Native American graduation rate is around 50 percent, and according to Native American students’ ACT scores, there is a great disparity in college readiness compared to non-Native American students. In the English language arts category, less than 40 percent of Native American students scored high enough to be considered adequately ready for college. This is 25 percentage points lower than all students. In math, only one in five are college ready. Across all four traditional subject areas, data show barely 10 percent of Native Americans are college ready.

Native American students are being left behind in great numbers. This minority population is at the highest risk of any group in the nation of not receiving a proper education. Native American students deserve access to a quality education — just like every other student.

Arizona is one of only five states with an education savings account program. It is also home to the largest reservation in the country, the Navajo Nation, with a population of just under 175,000. The problem in Arizona is Native American students in schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) are not eligible for the state’s ESA program. The Native American Education Opportunity Act would correct this problem by allowing students on reservations to have access to these funds. If passed, American Indian students would no longer be trapped in the poorly run BEI schools in Arizona.

BEI operates 183 schools across 23 states and 64 reservations and has a student population of around 42,000. The largest reservation populations are in Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah. Allowing ESAs to be utilized in states with large reservation populations would be one of the most significant education improvements for Native Americans in U.S. history. These students would be able to attend non-BIE schools, which could be private, virtual, tribal, a charter school, or a mix of learning facilities. The ESA would also allow the students to find tutors, pay for transportation to another school, pay for books, and pay for individualized instruction. The education opportunities would grow each year, allowing more and more students to escape failing government-run schools.

Some opponents of the legislation claim it would pull resources away from current BIE-run schools, leaving them worse off. While it is true BIE schools would not receive the same amount of funding as they have in recent years, their track record in educating students is dismal. Any private or charter school with a 50 percent graduation rate would be shut down as rapidly as possible. It is inhumane to force students to remain in a school that is failing to educate its students adequately. Opponents of ESAs are effectively saying they are more interested in keeping the failing money train moving in favor of government schools than they are of allowing students to find a quality education.

The lack of good educational opportunities on American Indian reservations has left many Native Americans in poverty. In the Navajo Nation, the unemployment rate is 42 percent, and 43 percent of the total population lives in poverty. On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, unemployment is 80 percent, and 69 percent live in poverty.

While there are myriad reasons for the extreme unemployment and poverty rates, education plays a very important role in solving the problem. By providing a quality education, more students will be able to obtain a college degree. Currently, only 5 percent of Native Americans attend college immediately after graduating from high school, and only one in 10 of those who do attend college are able to graduate within four years. These numbers would dramatically rise over time if Native Americans are given the opportunity to utilize ESA programs, a move that would give every Native American student access to a much-needed quality education.

[Originally published at Deseret News]

Bringing Education Freedom to Native Americans

Somewhat Reasonable - 6 hours 2 min ago

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) recently proposed Senate Bill 2711, titled the Native American Education Opportunity Act. The bill would direct the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reimburse states that fund education savings account (ESA) programs that allow Native American students to attend a school of their choice. If passed, this legislation would open up a new array of education opportunities for Native American children and would give them access to a quality education, which, unfortunately, is often lacking on many American Indian reservations today.

McCain says the Native American graduation rate is around 50 percent, and according to Native American students’ ACT scores, there is a great disparity in college readiness compared to non-Native American students. In the English language arts category, less than 40 percent of Native American students scored high enough to be considered adequately ready for college. This is 25 percentage points lower than all students. In math, only one in five are college ready. Across all four traditional subject areas, data show barely 10 percent of Native Americans are college ready.

Native American students are being left behind in great numbers. This minority population is at the highest risk of any group in the nation of not receiving a proper education. Native American students deserve access to a quality education — just like every other student.

Arizona is one of only five states with an education savings account program. It is also home to the largest reservation in the country, the Navajo Nation, with a population of just under 175,000. The problem in Arizona is Native American students in schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) are not eligible for the state’s ESA program. The Native American Education Opportunity Act would correct this problem by allowing students on reservations to have access to these funds. If passed, American Indian students would no longer be trapped in the poorly run BEI schools in Arizona.

BEI operates 183 schools across 23 states and 64 reservations and has a student population of around 42,000. The largest reservation populations are in Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah. Allowing ESAs to be utilized in states with large reservation populations would be one of the most significant education improvements for Native Americans in U.S. history. These students would be able to attend non-BIE schools, which could be private, virtual, tribal, a charter school, or a mix of learning facilities. The ESA would also allow the students to find tutors, pay for transportation to another school, pay for books, and pay for individualized instruction. The education opportunities would grow each year, allowing more and more students to escape failing government-run schools.

Some opponents of the legislation claim it would pull resources away from current BIE-run schools, leaving them worse off. While it is true BIE schools would not receive the same amount of funding as they have in recent years, their track record in educating students is dismal. Any private or charter school with a 50 percent graduation rate would be shut down as rapidly as possible. It is inhumane to force students to remain in a school that is failing to educate its students adequately. Opponents of ESAs are effectively saying they are more interested in keeping the failing money train moving in favor of government schools than they are of allowing students to find a quality education.

The lack of good educational opportunities on American Indian reservations has left many Native Americans in poverty. In the Navajo Nation, the unemployment rate is 42 percent, and 43 percent of the total population lives in poverty. On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, unemployment is 80 percent, and 69 percent live in poverty.

While there are myriad reasons for the extreme unemployment and poverty rates, education plays a very important role in solving the problem. By providing a quality education, more students will be able to obtain a college degree. Currently, only 5 percent of Native Americans attend college immediately after graduating from high school, and only one in 10 of those who do attend college are able to graduate within four years. These numbers would dramatically rise over time if Native Americans are given the opportunity to utilize ESA programs, a move that would give every Native American student access to a much-needed quality education.

[Originally published at Deseret News]

Categories: On the Blog

FDA Essentially Bans E-Cigarettes with New Regulations

Somewhat Reasonable - 6 hours 10 min ago

The FDA’s new vaping regulations in the name of protecting public health will actually achieve the opposite.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Thursday that e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products will be now be subject to strict federal regulation. The new measure also puts cigars and hookah products under FDA’s regulatory regime, which previously applied only to cigarettes and cigarette-related products, including smokeless tobacco. The new rules include a prohibition of selling vaping products to minors, selling them in vending machines, distributing “free samples,” and marketing any vapor product as “light,” “low,” or “mild” unless authorized by the FDA.

[See The Heartland Institute’s press release reacting to this news here.] In 2014, the FDA began to focus on the e-cigarette and vaping industry, with a proposed rule that would require all products introduced after February 15, 2007 to “apply retroactively for approval.” This is a process, vaping companies claim, would wipe out the billion-dollar e-cigarette industry, including thousands of small businesses. The FDA apparently did not care, applying the retroactive date, which goes into effect in 90 days.

Products that were introduced on the market after the “predicate date” of February 15, 2007 “will have 12 months to submit an exemption request, 18 months to submit an application proving the product has a substantial equivalent already on the market and 24 months to submit an application for pre-market approval.” The FDA has also given itself the authority to regulate and “control the ‘parts’ and ‘components’ of tobacco.” This includes e-liquids, atomizers, batteries, flavors, and software. Manufacturers of tobacco and e-cigarette products will now have to register with the FDA and provide a list of products, ingredients, which the agency will review for approval in the market.

The complaince cost of this regulation is immense. As Michael B. Siegel points out in today’s Wall Street Journal:

The FDA itself has acknowledged that the premarket applications are a burdensome requirement that will take more than 5,000 hours to complete and will cost a minimum of $330,000 per product. Since few of the e-cigarette-product makers—most of which are small businesses—can afford to stay in business and pay for this level of resources or expertise, the majority of these companies will shut down. That will leave the market open only for e-cigarette products made by the largest of companies, some of which have already begun buying what once were small-company e-cigarette brands. For example, R.J. Reynolds now owns Vuse.

The reaction from proponents of e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products was immediate and strong. The Vapor Technology Association said the regulations a “will harm public health and devastate small vapor technology businesses.” The the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) said:

Our industry has a long history of supporting sensible science-based regulations, including license requirements, as well as banning sales to minors and adopting child-resistant packaging. Today’s final rule pulls the rug out from the nine million smokers who have switched to vaping, putting them in jeopardy of returning back to smoking, which kills 480,000 Americans each year and costs the U.S. more than $300 billion in annual health care expenses.

Jeff Stier, a policy advisor to Heartland and senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research said:

The FDA wasn’t wrong to regulate e-cigarettes. It was wrong to effectively ban, by its own estimate, up to 98.5% of the e-cigarettes on the market today.
E-cigarettes, Public Health England says, are about 95% less harmful than smoking, are not a gateway to smoking, and could help smokers quit.Now, the FDA wants to put an end to this less harmful alternative to smoking.

It’s very simple: Cigarette smokers who switch to e-cigarettes dramatically reduce their risk, as the Royal College of Physicians put it in a landmark report last month, by using “nicotine without smoke.”

E-cigarette shouldn’t be sold to minors, and government should restrict advertising so they aren’t marketed to kids. But the FDA’s drastic overstep today will require e-cigarettes not already on the market by February 2007 to undergo a costly and onerous Premarket Tobacco Application process that holds e-cigarettes to a standard nearly impossible to prove, and one that well-established actual cigarettes don’t have to face.

No serious study has ever been produced by the FDA to conclude anything but the positive health benefits of vaporized nicotine products compared to smoking cigarettes. So the FDA’s new regulations in the name of protecting public health will actually achieve the opposite … which is sadly typical for government work these days.

Read below some of Heartland’s research, commentary, and news stories on vaping, including our event in April titled “The Vaping Wars.”

Dearborn, Michigan City Council Passes Public E-Cig Restrictions, The Heartlander (April 19, 2016)

E-Cigarettes: A Better Way to Quit Smoking, Heartland Institute Panel Says, Somewhat Reasonable (April 29, 2016)

Vaping as a Public Policy ‘War’, Somewhat Reasonable (May 2, 2016)

Research & Commentary: How Do Electronic Cigarettes Affect Adolescent Smoking, Heartland Research & Commentary (March 28, 2016)

Stroud: Move to raise legal age won’t snuff out smoking, Boston Herald (April 29, 2016)

In The Tank Podcast (ep31): R Street Institute, E-Cig Taxes, Tax Cuts, and Obamacare Turns Six, Heartland Institute (March 25, 2016)

Categories: On the Blog

A Real Bet for the Tough Guy in a Bow Tie

Somewhat Reasonable - 9 hours 36 min ago

BREAKING NEWS: Bill Nye issued a bet more than six years after my initial challenge to him in 2010 (which he would have lost) and four months into 2016 after reviewing the impact of El Niño on global temperatures. News flash, Bill: Midway through last year I said 2016 global temperatures would rise thanks to El Niño. I can forecast this because I don’t believe CO2 is a major player in determining global temperatures. I believe the sun, ocean cycles and stochastic events play a much more significant role.

Just so Bill and the rest of his brainwashed audience understand, I fully support our nation’s transition to clean and sustainable energy while using all sources of energy at our disposal now until a feasible economic transition can be accomplished. If you were really serious about it, we would be using more nuclear energy anyway.

However, I also believe the policies that Bill and the rest of the global warming political activists are pushing are detrimental to our economy and, in turn, our national security. How much money have we shipped to the Middle East because we did not use our own domestic fossil fuel resources? If not for the recent fossil fuel energy boom in the U.S., foreign countries would be making billions of dollars more at the expense of the U.S. consumer. I would argue that our failure to move more quickly and utilize our domestic fossil fuel resources has had catastrophic effects on our economy and national security.

Unlike Bill, I am a rational man, and I understand that while we must transition to clean energy we must do so in a way that is smart and economically viable.

Furthermore, we all know that Bill is not a forecaster. And since I am, I have a bet for the “science guy.” I believe 2017 will be colder than 2016. The bet is this: For 2017, every increment of .05 degrees Celsius (plus or minus compared to 2016) will be worth $10,000. If 2017 is 0.1 degrees Celsius warmer than 2016, I will pay you $20,000. If 2017 is 0.1 degrees Celsius colder, you owe me $20,000.

We do it with Dr. Roy Spencer’s satellite measurements.

The satellite data cannot be manipulated as we have seen in a culture among AGW scientists. (Remember “Climategate”?)

Furthermore, since you say global warming is proven science, how about we take all the money allocated for AGW research and use it to improve veterans health benefits. We wouldn’t be allocating all that research money to study whether the earth is flat/round, would we? Or we could stop that AGW gravy train and use the money allocated to professors around the world for improving fusion output. Make sense?

One more thing. I challenge Bill to lead by example and for one year use no fossil fuels, including products that use fossil fuels to be made. He can be like the DirecTV commercial in which a settler is settling in a world void of fossil fuels.

See you Dec. 31, 2017, Bill. One of us will pay up.

[Originally published at The Patriot Post]

Categories: On the Blog

After 10 Years Al Gore’s Film Is Still Alarmingly Inaccurate | The Daily Caller

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - 9 hours 39 min ago
5019453 It’s been nearly one decade since former Vice President Al Gore released his film “An Inconvenient Truth.” It sent shockwaves through American politics…

Europols Want to Dilute an Already Worthless Carbon Market

Environment Suite - In The News - 9 hours 39 min ago
The EU’s carbon market has, to this point, been a failure. The Emissions Trading System (ETS), as it’s called, is flooded with carbon credits, and as a result…

Shareholders continue to be misinformed about the costs and benefits of proxy access

Out of the Storm News - 9 hours 41 min ago

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the New York City Comptroller’s Office both continue to use a deeply flawed CFA Institute report as support for their advocacy of proxy access, the ability of shareholders to have their own slates of nominees to corporate boards included in the proxy materials companies must distribute ahead of their annual meetings.

As R.J. Lehmann and I discuss in our recent op-ed in RealClearMarkets, which was republished in the Oxford Business Law Blog, the importance of the CFA Institute report in the debate over proxy access can’t be overstated. Shareholder proposals on proxy access typically have included a supporting statement noting the CFA Institute’s finding that mandatory proxy access could raise overall U.S. market capitalization by up to $140.3 billion, if it were adopted market-wide.

However, as I tried to make abundantly clear in a recent policy brief for R Street, the report is “deeply flawed in ways that should disqualify its use as support for mandatory proxy access; for shareholder proposals on proxy access; for board discussions about whether a proxy-access bylaw should be implemented; and, perhaps most importantly, for board discussions about whether a proxy-access bylaw needs to be rescinded.”

In sum, “the report is full of errors, contradictions and practices of questionable methodology.” These flaws are especially relevant in regard to the $140.3 billion market value calculation, a number that should be totally disregarded by shareholders.

Nevertheless, the CFA Institute report continues to be used by those in the shareholder-empowerment movement (shareholder activists who advocate shifting decision-making authority to themselves, and away from corporate boards of directors and executive management) as support for implementing proxy access on a company-by-company basis.

Most importantly, its continued use reinforces the argument made in our op-ed piece: “The report’s persistent use by those in the shareholder-empowerment movement suggests either that some in the movement are intellectually dishonest or that they are, at the least, reckless in their arguments.”

It also reinforces the argument that the shareholder-empowerment movement does more harm than good and that the activities of those who participate in the movement should be viewed with great suspicion.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The FDA’s Vaporous Thinking About E-Cigs

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - 10 hours 4 min ago
Photo: Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday finally released its regulations on electronic cigarettes. The rules,…

Speechless on Campus

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - 10 hours 4 min ago
Photo: Getty Images We told you recently about Marquette University professor John McAdams, who writes an independent blog called the Marquette Warrior. In 2014…

Captain America: Civil War – Bring the popcorn

Out of the Storm News - 10 hours 27 min ago

At points over the past year, it looked like the worm was beginning to turn on the dominance of comic-book movies.

Sure, Avengers: Age of Ultron finished as the third highest-grossing movie of 2015, but it cost $30 million more and made $125 million less than its predecessor. Marvel’s follow-up, Ant-Man, was a modest financial success from a studio accustomed to mega-blockbusters. The reception to both films, from fans and critics alike, was decidedly mixed.

Then there were the real turkeys. The Fantastic Four, made by 20th Century Fox for $120 million, pulled in just $56 million domestically and had an execrable score of nine percent “fresh” on the aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Warner Brothers’ Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice managed a just dismal 28 percent “fresh.”

But however bad it was, the latest D.C. Comics film property did pretty well at the box office, as has Fox’s Deadpool (both have topped $350 million domestically). All of which puts the pressure on Marvel and Disney to return to form with Captain America: Civil War, opening this Friday nationwide.

I’m pleased to report they hit this one out of the park.

Filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo (who earlier produced 2014’s strong Captain America: Winter Soldier as a 1970s-style conspiracy thriller and who are signed on to replace director Joss Whedon on the next two Avengers films) here take the basic formula inherited from Whedon and turn all the dials up to 11: More action, more pathos, more locations, more jokes and more characters, with Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man (a character rebooted for the second time in less than a decade) serving as the new major arrivals. This approach could have gone horribly wrong, doubling down on the bloated mess that doomed Age of Ultron, but the Russos manage to make it work.

In the comics, the Civil War storyline originally was a heavy-handed and not entirely successful post-9/11 metaphor for our policy debates over surveillance and homeland security. The picture does offer a version of that plot — high-profile international incidents lead to a call for more governmental oversight of superheroes, sparking deep philosophical disagreements between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) — but it smartly keeps the focus off the politics. The film instead serves as an extended rumination on the nature of familial and fraternal ties, as well as the notions of loyalty and (as befits a movie that essentially serves as Avengers III) vengeance.

All of which makes this sound far heavier than the film that actually unspools onscreen. What Civil War is, first and foremost, is a perfect popcorn picture, with a steady stream of perfectly choreographed fight and chase scene set-pieces that keep one from even noticing its 2:26 running time. Perhaps realizing that one of the weaknesses of Marvel movies past is that the villains (with the exception of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki) have tended to be kind of lame, the film more or less dispenses with any true “big bad” and has the heroes mostly fight each other, to great effect. The effects keep getting better, though the single most eye-popping one this time around involves a CGI recreation of Downey’s face from 30 years ago.

There is so very much this film gets right. As great as the action is, what’s even more impressive is that everything is very much grounded in character. Each hero has motivations that make sense and each member of this huge and talented cast gets to add their own shadings. Holland, in particular, is a revelation, which is a positive sign as he prepares to launch his own franchise next year. For once, Peter Parker isn’t a haunted soul, but a skinny, wiseacre kid, exactly how most fans best remember him (although straight men of my generation may need a moment or two to wrap their brains around the idea of the still eminently foxy Marisa Tomei as Peter’s “elderly” Aunt May).

For those tired of the comic-book movie “fad,” I’m sorry to report I don’t think they’re going away quite yet. Marvel is back strong, and the first great summer blockbuster of 2016 has arrived.

Should the Fed act as the world’s central bank?

Out of the Storm News - 11 hours 28 min ago

The need for public justification is a vital, if overlooked, check on power. If an institution cannot convincingly explain why it does what it does, consequences naturally will follow. In recent months, the Federal Reserve has been citing global economic conditions to vindicate its monetary policy choices. The question is, is this a sufficient justification? Should the Fed accept responsibility as the de facto central bank of the world?

Hosted May 5 by the American Enterprise Institute, R Street’s Alex J. Pollock moderated a discussion on this question and more, featuring Stephen Roach of Yale University, Vincent Reinhart of the American Enterprise Institute, Charles Collyns of the Institute for International Finance and Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute. Watch the full panel below.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Nasty politics may kill drinks reform in Colorado

Out of the Storm News - 11 hours 35 min ago

Colorado loves its drinks. It is the home of Stranahan’s whiskey and great microbrews too numerous to list. The Rocky Mountain State also is the home of the Great American Beer Festival, which began in 1982 and draws tens of thousands of visitors each autumn.

So you might think that an initiative to improve consumers’ retail access to drinks would be a no-brainer for the state’s leaders – give the people what they want and they’ll vote you back into office.

Think again.

Current law only allows the state’s grocery and convenience stores to sell “near beer,” a watery, bland, Prohibition Era product with an alcohol content of less than 3.2 percent. Colorado is one of only five states that still mandate near beer. Brewers would not produce this dreck were it not for archaic state laws that create a captive market.

The near-beer policy is exceedingly consumer-unfriendly. Want to enjoy a bottle of Echo Brewing Co.’s Nocturnal Black IPA? You must go to a liquor store. Want to purchase any of the craft spirits produced by Colorado’s 50 distillers? You must go to a liquor store. Care to pair the cut of beef you bought at the grocery store with a Malbec? You must go to a liquor store. (One wonders how much gasoline is burned and pollution released on these government-mandated, drinks-only schleps.)

The group Your Choice Colorado is collecting signatures to revise the state’s retrograde drinks retailing to permit grocery stores to sell all beers and wine. Some advocates also are proposing that groceries also be permitted to sell liquor, which is the best possible policy, since alcohol is alcohol.

But as Joey Bunch of the Colorado Post explains, the reformers’ efforts are being savaged by critics. Liquor store owners, who monopolize sales of real beer and wine, are especially vexed. They complain that competition will put them out of business. (That’s how capitalism works, but never mind.) Some local brewers also oppose change—they fear their beers won’t get shelf space in groceries, which will instead carry mega-brews like Coors. (If I ran a brewery, I would welcome the opportunity to expand my sales and get my brews on the shelves of groceries. Go figure.) Keep Colorado Local, a group that sprang up to oppose de-monopolization, is sleazily playing the kid-card. Families will be less safe from the evils of alcohol, they argue, if anyone other than liquor store owners can sell beer and wine, which is utter nonsense.

In a sane world, the Legislature would promptly pass legislation creating a single retail drinks license that would enable a holder to sell beers, spirits and wines. But, such fair and consumer-friendly policy scares entrenched interests.

The Colorado Legislature will adjourn May 11, and may do nothing on this topic, because its members cannot figure out how to satisfy all the competing interests. Even if it did get a good reform bill passed, Gov. John Hickenlooper, might veto it. “I’m not sure we need to change our regulatory framework to help big business at the expense of little business,” he declared.

So it goes in Colorado, where helping millions of citizens is low on the to-do list for elected officials.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Pascal's Wager For The Global Warming Religion

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - May 05, 2016, 5:51 PM
Do you freaking love science ? Then you might be a big enough sucker to fall for a claim like this one : “Across the span of their lives, the average American…

Minimum Wage Advocates Now Want $21 Per Hour - The Mental Recession

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - May 05, 2016, 5:21 PM
Remember last month, when a $147 billion budget deal in New York included a job-killing hike to a $15 per hour minimum wage, didn’t seem to satisfy radical…
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