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Obamacare Poll: Most Enrollees Hate Their Plans | The American Spectator

Health Care Suite - In The News - May 23, 2016, 8:49 AM
May 23, 2016, 5:00 am A new nonpartisan survey shows that they are unhappy with the coverage and its cost. The White House and the legacy media continue to…

Obamacare Poll: Most Enrollees Hate Their Plans | The American Spectator

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - May 23, 2016, 8:49 AM
May 23, 2016, 5:00 am A new nonpartisan survey shows that they are unhappy with the coverage and its cost. The White House and the legacy media continue to…

Did Medicaid Expansion Keep Hospital ERs from Closing?

Health Care Suite - In The News - May 23, 2016, 8:49 AM
One of the many rationales offered for the Affordable Care Act was that the previous system kept too many Americans uninsured for too long, resulting in part in…

California’s Bullet Train to Whenever

Budget and Tax Suite - In The News - May 23, 2016, 8:43 AM
In this Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 file photo, the supports for a 1,600-foot-viaduct to carry high-speed rail trains across the Fresno River are seen under…

California’s Bullet Train to Whenever

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - May 23, 2016, 8:43 AM
In this Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 file photo, the supports for a 1,600-foot-viaduct to carry high-speed rail trains across the Fresno River are seen under…

Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis Rooted in History of Feds’ Anti-Trade Policies

Somewhat Reasonable - May 22, 2016, 1:10 PM

Alejandro Garcia Padilla, the governor of Puerto Rico, has skipped out on a $422 million payment owed to private-sector creditors.

The missed payment, due on May 1, was just another scene in the slow-motion train wreck that has been termed “Puerto Rico’s economic crisis,” but to call the territory’s status a “crisis” understates the severity of the problem. Over 12 percent of the workforce in Puerto Rico is unemployed, and one out of every four employed Puerto Ricans works for the government, instead of contributing to the territory’s economy.

The job-sector universe—the raw number of jobs available and filled—in the territory is contracting as well. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 889,200 employed people working in Puerto Rico in October 2015. In March 2016, the most recent month for which BLS statistics are available, there were 893,300 people working, which means an average of 683 more people became unemployed every month for six consecutive months.

Puerto Rico’s territorial government is responsible for some of the problems its people are facing, such as its overly generous entitlement programs for workers, but Washington, DC lawmakers are ultimately responsible for the territory’s economic death spiral. As a territory, Puerto Rico exists at the pleasure of the U.S. Congress. Puerto Rico can elect its own governor, but Congress maintains most of the power.

One Washington, DC policy making things worse for Puerto Rico is called the Jones Act. The Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, was passed nearly 100 years ago as part of the fit of anti-trade sentiment that led to the Great Depression. It was intended to require regions of the United States separated by the open ocean to be serviced by all-American crews and ships, built with all-American parts, thereby banning foreign vessels from transporting goods from the United States to states and territories such as Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Instead of promoting economic prosperity by tilting the playing field, protectionist trade policies such as the Jones Act disadvantage consumers and benefit businesses favored by the government.

A 2012 report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRB-NY) studied the effect of the Jones Act on Puerto Rico and concluded increasing the cost of shipping goods to Puerto Rico from the mainland has resulted in fewer goods being shipped to Puerto Rico and less money available to Puerto Ricans.

According to the American Maritime Congress, a lobbyist organization representing the interests of the merchant marine industry, only 77 ships in the entire world comply with the requirements of the Jones Act. By artificially reducing the volume of shipping, the cost of shipping increases, making everyday goods more expensive for Puerto Ricans.

“It costs an estimated $3,063 to ship a twenty-foot container of household and commercial goods from the East Coast of the United States to Puerto Rico; the same shipment costs $1,504 to nearby Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and $1,687 to Kingston (Jamaica)—destinations that are not subject to Jones Act restrictions,” the Federal Reserve Bank of New York wrote.

Although other factors have contributed to Puerto Rico’s financial ship of state running aground, Washington, DC lawmakers’ refusal to face the reality of a global economy, by removing protectionist policies and allowing the free market to determine the cost of shipping goods, has played a significant role in making life on the “Island of Enchantment” less enchanting and more miserable.

Instead of considering targeted big-ticket bailouts from the mainland’s treasury to patch over their past mistakes, national lawmakers should enact free-market policies, including repealing the Jones Act, to help make prosperity more readily available to everyone, regardless of whether they live in Chicago, California, or Canóvanas.

[Originally published at Inside Sources]

Categories: On the Blog

Portland Public Schools Board Bans Any Dissent from Climate Dogma

Blog - Education - May 22, 2016, 1:00 PM

The Portland Public Schools Board (via screen cap at the Portland Tribune.)

The Portland Public Schools board this week voted unanimously to institute a ban on allowing any materials or discussion that express doubts that human activity is causing a catastrophic climate crisis. They might as well have just put out a resolution promoting homeschooling.

The story outlining this in the Portland Tribune is absolutely incredible. It is filled with so many layers of nonsense, ignorance, petty tyranny, and moral preening that it seems a bit much, even for hopelessly lefty Portland. I do wonder, however, if they will host a book-burning ceremony at the football stadium. It’s the logical next step, right? Because, apparently, their text books are infected with terms like “might,” “may,” and “could” in some passages that address climate change. We must make sure those doubts don’t accidentally infect the minds of the children they are charged with educating indoctrinating. So why not purge all the sin from the books by fire.

Have these lefties not even an inkling of self-awareness? Do they not see how they have created a climate alarmist parallel to the Scopes Monkey Trial? They are demanding that their unshakable faith in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming be the only thing taught in school. Because, “science.” But even today, proponents for Intelligent Design don’t demand that’s all that’s taught in school, only that it be included in the discussion. Right or wrong, it’s a more open-minded approach than the Climate Cultists — especially considering there are volumes of peer-reviewed evidence that “might,” “may,” and “could” are conservative hedges.

Some of my favorite/most-outrageous parts of this story:

“It is unacceptable that we have textbooks in our schools that spread doubt about the human causes and urgency of the crisis,” said Lincoln High School student Gaby Lemieux in board testimony. “Climate education is not a niche or a specialization, it is the minimum requirement for my generation to be successful in our changing world.”

That’s right. The first quote in the story to bolster this idea, in the second graph, is from a high school senior, everyone’s go-to expert for identifying credible and effective curriculum. Gaby also sees her generation as already uniquely informed and wise enough to save the world previous generations have ruined. Of course she does. She’s gone to Portland public schools her whole life.

Here’s a shocker: This drive to purge doubt about the dogma is being driven by a radical environmentalist group.

Bill Bigelow, a former PPS teacher and current curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools, a magazine devoted to education issues, worked with 350PDX and other environmental groups to present the resolution.

“A lot of the text materials are kind of thick with the language of doubt, and obviously the science says otherwise,” Bigelow says, accusing the publishing industry to bowing to pressure from fossil fuels companies. “We don’t want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.”

So, a former teacher has apparently long entertained the fantastical and paranoid idea that just having the words “may,” “might,” and “could” in any discussion about the causes and consequences of climate change was slipped in there “courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.” Big Oil. What can’t it do!?

Another shocker: That former teacher and radical environmentalist also happens just so happens to produce a text book for children titled “A People’s Curriculum for the Earth.” That sure sounds like science to me, with not a hint of radical politics. Asked if his interest in producing climate science books for schools might be a conflict of interest, he says it doesn’t’ because his organization is “a nonprofit, not a money-maker.” OK, then.

Oh, almost forgot. The school board member who introduced the resolution — which, again, passed unanimously — has a pretty large conflict of interest, too:

School board member Mike Rosen … leads NW Ecoliteracy Collaborative, a project focused on environmental curriculum standards. However, he says that work has been on hold.

“I have become concerned about its ability to make progress and not have a conflict with being a school board member,” Rosen said, noting that he is now instead working part-time for the Audubon Society of Portland. “I don’t want there to be a conflict between my school board work and this nonprofit.”

No worries, Mike. You’ve made progress … toward 16th Century thinking.  It’s hard to imagine what else full victory over “climate deniers” would look like short of scarlet letters, stockades, and pyres ready to set aflame.

UPDATE: Read the board’s resolution for yourself here.

Portland Public Schools Board Bans Any Dissent from Climate Dogma

Somewhat Reasonable - May 22, 2016, 1:00 PM

The Portland Public Schools Board (via screen cap at the Portland Tribune.)

The Portland Public Schools board this week voted unanimously to institute a ban on allowing any materials or discussion that express doubts that human activity is causing a catastrophic climate crisis. They might as well have just put out a resolution promoting homeschooling.

The story outlining this in the Portland Tribune is absolutely incredible. It is filled with so many layers of nonsense, ignorance, petty tyranny, and moral preening that it seems a bit much, even for hopelessly lefty Portland. I do wonder, however, if they will host a book-burning ceremony at the football stadium. It’s the logical next step, right? Because, apparently, their text books are infected with terms like “might,” “may,” and “could” in some passages that address climate change. We must make sure those doubts don’t accidentally infect the minds of the children they are charged with educating indoctrinating. So why not purge all the sin from the books by fire.

Have these lefties not even an inkling of self-awareness? Do they not see how they have created a climate alarmist parallel to the Scopes Monkey Trial? They are demanding that their unshakable faith in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming be the only thing taught in school. Because, “science.” But even today, proponents for Intelligent Design don’t demand that’s all that’s taught in school, only that it be included in the discussion. Right or wrong, it’s a more open-minded approach than the Climate Cultists — especially considering there are volumes of peer-reviewed evidence that “might,” “may,” and “could” are conservative hedges.

Some of my favorite/most-outrageous parts of this story:

“It is unacceptable that we have textbooks in our schools that spread doubt about the human causes and urgency of the crisis,” said Lincoln High School student Gaby Lemieux in board testimony. “Climate education is not a niche or a specialization, it is the minimum requirement for my generation to be successful in our changing world.”

That’s right. The first quote in the story to bolster this idea, in the second graph, is from a high school senior, everyone’s go-to expert for identifying credible and effective curriculum. Gaby also sees her generation as already uniquely informed and wise enough to save the world previous generations have ruined. Of course she does. She’s gone to Portland public schools her whole life.

Here’s a shocker: This drive to purge doubt about the dogma is being driven by a radical environmentalist group.

Bill Bigelow, a former PPS teacher and current curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools, a magazine devoted to education issues, worked with 350PDX and other environmental groups to present the resolution.

“A lot of the text materials are kind of thick with the language of doubt, and obviously the science says otherwise,” Bigelow says, accusing the publishing industry to bowing to pressure from fossil fuels companies. “We don’t want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.”

So, a former teacher has apparently long entertained the fantastical and paranoid idea that just having the words “may,” “might,” and “could” in any discussion about the causes and consequences of climate change was slipped in there “courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.” Big Oil. What can’t it do!?

Another shocker: That former teacher and radical environmentalist also happens just so happens to produce a text book for children titled “A People’s Curriculum for the Earth.” That sure sounds like science to me, with not a hint of radical politics. Asked if his interest in producing climate science books for schools might be a conflict of interest, he says it doesn’t’ because his organization is “a nonprofit, not a money-maker.” OK, then.

Oh, almost forgot. The school board member who introduced the resolution — which, again, passed unanimously — has a pretty large conflict of interest, too:

School board member Mike Rosen … leads NW Ecoliteracy Collaborative, a project focused on environmental curriculum standards. However, he says that work has been on hold.

“I have become concerned about its ability to make progress and not have a conflict with being a school board member,” Rosen said, noting that he is now instead working part-time for the Audubon Society of Portland. “I don’t want there to be a conflict between my school board work and this nonprofit.”

No worries, Mike. You’ve made progress … toward 16th Century thinking.  It’s hard to imagine what else full victory over “climate deniers” would look like short of scarlet letters, stockades, and pyres ready to set aflame.

UPDATE: Read the board’s resolution for yourself here.

Categories: On the Blog

Florida Can Curb Doctor Shortage, in Part, by Empowering Nurses

Somewhat Reasonable - May 22, 2016, 12:16 PM

Co-authored by: Logan Pike & Matthew Glans

Decades of overregulation of the health-care labor market, an aging population and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act have created a shortage of primary-care doctors nationwide.

This isn’t a problem that has snuck up on lawmakers. Even before the ACA’s passage, many states faced the prospect of a doctor shortage. In 2011, a study published in the Milbank Quarterly found the ACA would create a need for between 4,300 and 7,000 more physicians in the United States by 2019.

A new report suggests the Milbank authors were correct about the looming shortage of primary-care physicians, especially in the state of Florida. The Robert Graham Center estimates Florida alone will need an additional 4,671 primary-care physicians by 2030 (based on the 2010 figure of 12,228 primary-care physicians) to accommodate the rising need for health-care services.

Some efforts are already underway in Florida to help fix this growing problem. On April 15, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill making Florida the last state to allow advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe certain controlled substances. This will significantly decrease the demand currently placed on many primary-care doctors.

A 2014 survey by the Physicians Foundation found most doctors have little or no room to add patients, with 81 percent of physicians describing themselves as “either over-extended or at full capacity.” Only 19 percent of the respondents “indicate they have time to see more patients.” The report also found 44 percent of physicians surveyed plan to take steps that would reduce patient access to their services, including “cutting back on patients seen, retiring, working part-time, closing their practice to new patients or seeking nonclinical jobs.”

Strict licensing standards have become a significant barrier to entry in many fields, but nowhere is the influence of licensing more sharply felt than in the health-care industry. Supporters of strict state licensing standards argue they assure quality, but critics say the arduous and often expensive licensing process harms the health-care market by hindering entry for new physicians, thereby impeding the market competition needed to lower costs and improve access for patients.

There are several paths Florida legislators and medical boards can choose to lower regulatory barriers in the health-care industry to reduce the physician shortfall. The first proposal, recently introduced as model legislation by the Federation of State Medical Boards, would make it easier for doctors licensed in one state to treat patients in another.

Reporter Robert Pear wrote in The New York Times that this reform would not only cover in-person visits but also videoconferencing and online visits. The proposed legislation would create an interstate compact, and the Times reports it has political support from both sides of the aisle.

The second proposal, supported by the Institute of Medicine and National Governors Association, would further expand the scope of responsibilities for nurse practitioners, allowing them to provide additional health-care services. These additional services would include expanding the scope of practice to services like the initial evaluation of new symptoms, ongoing care for chronic diseases and preventive services, such as immunizations and screenings. This extension would only apply to registered nurses who have also received a graduate degree in nursing. Allowing nurse practitioners to administer care would greatly reduce the doctor shortage and increase access to care.

Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow nurse practitioners to diagnose and provide some form of treatment for certain illnesses. Although critics of these efforts claim expanding the scope of practice will lower the overall quality of care, a 2012 article in Health Affairs reviewing 26 studies noted the “health status, treatment practices, and prescribing behavior [of NPs] were consistent between nurse practitioners and physicians.”

Further, according to research from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the average American would rather see a nurse practitioner or physician assistant than wait to see a primary-care physician. But nurse practitioners and physician assistants cannot serve as practical alternatives when they lack the authority to prescribe controlled substances.

In a time when many health-care-policy debates at the state level are gridlocked, there are still policies that would improve access to care without increasing costs or decreasing quality. Allowing physicians to treat patients across state lines and expanding the scope of practice of nurse practitioners are two incremental steps Florida can take to address the doctor shortage.

[Originally published at the Orlando Sentinel]

Categories: On the Blog

Costly Lessons from Europe on Renewable Energy Support

Somewhat Reasonable - May 22, 2016, 10:58 AM

Wind Farm in Desert

A new study by the Manhattan Institute shows the aggressive policies adopted by the European Union to fight climate change have resulted in dramatic increases in electricity costs for residential and industrial consumers. For instance, between 2005, when the E.U. adopted its emissions trading scheme, and 2014, residential electricity rates in the E.U. increased by an average of 63 percent. In addition, E.U. countries intervening the most in their energy markets – Germany, Spain, and the U.K. – have seen their electricity costs increase the fastest.

Higher energy costs are undermining European companies’ international competitiveness. In 2013, the Center for European Policy Studies found European steelmakers were paying twice as much for electricity and four times as much for natural gas as U.S. steel producers. A 2014 International Energy Agency (IEA) report warned continued energy imports, along with expensive climate policies, will likely hurt European industry for the next two decades or more, predicting the E.U.’s share of “the global export market for energy-intensive goods, especially for chemicals, is expected to fall (by around 10% across all energy-intensive goods, i.e., cement, chemicals, pulp and paper, iron and steel).” By contrast, IEA expects the United States and emerging economies to be able to increase their shares of the global export markets for these goods.

With these facts in mind, in January 2014, Germany’s energy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, declared that his country had reached  “the limit” with renewable-energy subsidies and that Germany had to reduce its electricity prices or risk “ deindustrialization.”

The study also found Europe’s sacrifices failed to affect global carbon dioxide emissions. Since 2005, while the E.U. reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 600 million tons per year, the combined emissions of four developing countries – Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia – increased by 4.7 billion tons per year, nearly eight times the reduction achieved in the European Union.

Categories: On the Blog

DOJ diverted MILLIONS to ‘slush fund’ to fuel big liberal groups; wait until you see which ones

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - May 22, 2016, 7:24 AM
Muslim Pilot Of Flight 804 Converted The Plane Into A Portable Mosque And Said Farewell Before He Crashed The Plane And Slaughtered Everyone How nice, your…

Paul Krugman Beclowns Himself…Again

Budget and Tax Suite - In The News - May 21, 2016, 5:39 PM
I sometimes feel guilty when commenting on Paul Krugman’s work. In part, this is because I don’t want to give him any additional attention, but mostly it’s…

Google’s Omnipresent Tracking Much Harder to Leave than an ISP for Privacy

Somewhat Reasonable - May 21, 2016, 12:23 PM

If you are online, you can’t escape Google’s myriad of ways it tracks you, but you can leave your ISP.

A famous 2009 Google Blog post boasted that: “Google is not the Hotel California — you can check out any time you like and you CAN, in fact, leave!

Since Google chose that apt metaphor, and boasted about how easy Google makes it to “check out” your private data and “leave” to a competitor, lets test if you can ever “in fact leave” Google-Eye’s pervasively invasive online surveillance — from a privacy perspective.

But first, why is this point a relevant exercise for people who care about privacy at this particular point in time?

Right now in the U.S., the FCC is trying to justify differential treatment of ISPs and dominant edge platforms like Google in its Title II privacy proceeding and its AllVid set top box proceeding, by claiming that ISPs are more “sticky” and harder to leave than dominant edge platforms like Google.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week heard testimony from the FCC that: “…we can choose not to visit a website or not to sign up for a social network, or we can choose to drop one and switch to another in milliseconds. But broadband service is fundamentally different. Once we subscribe to an ISP—for our home or for our smartphone—most of us have little flexibility to change our mind or to do so quickly.

The FCC Chairman also said: “I go to WebMD, and WebMD collects information on me. I go to Weather.com, and Weather.com collects information on me,” he said. “I go to Facebook, and Facebook collects information on me. But only one entity collects all of that information, that I’m going to all of those different sites, and can turn around and monetize it.”

I don’t challenge that there is a real time hassle to switch ISPs.

What I do respectfully challenge is that first, Google essentially doesn’t “collect all of that information” because they do (see here), and second, that Google somehow is easy to escape,when it comes to collecting one’s private information, because it is not, as I will prove below.

Let’s return to Google as a “Hotel California” where “you can check out but never leave.”

Google likes to present the mirage of freedom by touting that they allow users to leave by easily exporting their private information to take elsewhere. As with most things Google, that’s the truth, but not the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

One can take a copy of one’s data, and leave, but Google generally retains a copy of it all and can use it for all sorts of purposes. Tellingly, Google’s Cloud Platform director Tom Kershaw told the New York Times last year: “Never delete anything, always use data – it’s what Google does

Most importantly, when you leave Google, it can still track most all you do. How?

First, if you surf the web, you need to know that ~98% of the top ~15 million websites use Google Analytics so most everywhere you go on the net, Google can track you.

Second, two million of the most popular websites use the Google YouTube Display Ad Network to serve you video and other display ads so they can track you.

Third, 1.2 million of the top websites about physical locations like stores, restaurants, hotels etc. have Google Maps embedded by default enabling Google to track your location and intent.

Fourth, even if you are not one of the billion plus Gmail users, Google’s Gmail algorithm secretly reads your emails that are sent to Gmail users.

Finally, if you use any type of smartphone 93% of all mobile searches use Google Search because it is installed by default by manufacturers on Android and Apple smartphones/tablets, and if you are the half of U.S. users who use Android, the dominant licensable operating system in the U.S., multiple Google mobile services track your usage and location in order to function as designed.

In sum, if you are a consumer who values their privacy and seeks to control the use of their private information, it is likely a more involved ongoing hassle to quit all Google services and avoid Google’s ongoing pervasive tracking of non-Google users, than it is to leave an ISP.

That’s because once the time hassle of leaving your ISP is done, the privacy concern is done. However, if one tries to leave Google-Eye’s persistent surveillance, the hassle and switching cost of proactively protecting one’s private information from Google is not over, it persists indefinitely.

If you want to learn about all the things one has to do to fully quit Google’s omnifarious products and services, see these accounts of what it involves to leave Google completely from: Slate, TechRepublic, ieee.org, MacWorld, PCWorld, Time, and MakeUseOf.com.

Simply, with Google you may be able to check out, but when you think you’ve left them, they still secretly follow you most wherever you go online.

[Originally published at the Precursor Blog]

Scott Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is President of Precursor LLC, an emergent enterprise risk consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, some of which are Google competitors, and Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests. He is also author of “Search & Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google Inc.” Cleland has testified before both the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees on Google and also before the relevant House oversight subcommittee on Google’s privacy problems.

Categories: On the Blog

Scientists: Michelle Obama’s Nutrition Facts Label Not Based on Science

Health Care Suite - In The News - May 21, 2016, 10:26 AM
Share Email / AP BY: A controversial regulation to update the nutrition facts label that is part of the first lady’s Let’s Move push was finalized by the Food…

Scientists: Michelle Obama’s Nutrition Facts Label Not Based on Science

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - May 21, 2016, 10:26 AM
Share Email / AP BY: A controversial regulation to update the nutrition facts label that is part of the first lady’s Let’s Move push was finalized by the Food…

Heartland Weekly – Robert Zubrin’s ‘Merchants of Despair’ Back in Print

Blog - Education - May 20, 2016, 4:12 PM

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 Joins Fight Against the Abuse of RICO Power Jim Lakely, Somewhat Reasonable Five weeks have passed since our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) were served a subpoena for their climate thought crimes. To the displeasure of the group of attorneys general, they are not rolling over. In fact, CEI and a coalition of supporters are fighting back harder than ever. A full-page ad in this week’s New York Times, which included Heartland’s public support, makes it clear this legal action is an affront to free speech and will not be taken lightly. READ MORE

Recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month In recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month, The Heartland Institute has constructed a page containing all recent Heartland news, research, and commentary related to this important subject. These articles seek to promote innovation in reaching and treating those with mental illness and improving the quality of care they receive, as well as identifying solutions to public policies that obstruct innovation and the delivery of mental health services. READ MORE

Heartland Reprints Robert Zubrin’s Merchants of Despair Combining riveting tales from history with powerful policy arguments, Merchants of Despair provides scientific refutations to environmentalists’ pseudo-scientific claims, including its tirades against nuclear power, pesticides, population growth, biotech foods, resource depletion, industrial development, and, most recently, fear-mongering about global warming. Merchants of Despair exposes this dangerous agenda and makes the definitive scientific and moral case against it. ORDER A COPY

Featured Podcast: Dr. Keli’i Akina: Hawaii Moving to Ban Gasoline and Diesel Vehicles In a move that puts appearance ahead of practicality, two state representatives from Hawaii have introduced legislation banning from the state vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel fuel. Dr. Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, joins The Heartland Daily Podcast to explain how bad this wacky idea really is, and why the government should stand aside and let the free market pick winners and losers in the energy sector. LISTEN TO MORE

Heartland Library Book Shelf of the Week – Economics
For more, follow Heartland on Twitter @HeartlandInst

Get Your Popcorn Ready: Heartland Movie Night – Atlas Shrugged Part 2 Join us and fellow lovers of liberty for the second part of our special series of Heartland Movie Nights, in which we’re showing each part of the Atlas Shrugged trilogy on three Wednesdays in a row – May 18, May 25, andJune 1. Based upon the enormously influential 1957 novel by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 follows the struggles of Dagny Taggart, a railroad heiress trying to maintain her integrity and keep her family’s railroad alive in the midst of a rapidly decaying world. Doors to Heartland’s Andrew Breitbart Freedom Center open at 5:30 p.m. Film starts at 6:00 p.m.Group discussion follows. SEE UPCOMING EVENTS HERE

Florida Can Curb Doctor Shortage, in Part, By Empowering Nurses Logan Pike and Matthew Glans, Orlando Sentinel Even before the implementation of Obamacare, many states were suffering from doctor shortages. Now the problem is even worse. Florida alone may need an additional 4,600 primary-care physicians by 2030. Proposed in this article are several solutions that would help increase access to care without increasing costs or decreasing quality. READ MORE

Remaining Contenders Differ Radically on Climate, Fuels H. Sterling Burnett, Climate Change Weekly Donald Trump’s views on climate change and energy production differ radically from those held by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Trump, a climate change skeptic, has said he will reverse regulations issued by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit access to and use of fossil fuels, regulations he says harm the economy for little or no environmental benefit. READ MORE

Obamacare Court Rulings Protect Employers and Taxpayers’ Rights Michael Hamilton, Consumer Power Report Patients and taxpayers won two important battles against the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in court this week. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Zubik v. Burwell, instructed multiple courts of appeal to reconsider the constitutionality of a mandate the federal government admits needlessly violates employers’ First Amendment rights. In a separate U.S. District Court case, the judge ruled against unlawful spending under Obamacare for which no funds were appropriated.  READ MORE

Bonus Podcast: Cynthia Cabrera: FDA’s War on E-Cigarettes and Vaping Power-hungry bureaucrats in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are about to put electronic cigarettes – a relatively new and increasingly popular smoking cessation product – through a long and arduous federal approval process, potentially putting thousands of small companies out of business. Cynthia Cabrera, president of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, joins The Heartland Daily Podcast to talk about how the new regulations will take many products off shelves and effectively promote smoking traditional cigarettes. READ MORE

Trans Bathrooms Edict Proves Feds Have Too Much Power Joy Pullmann, School Choice Weekly Regardless of one’s views about transgender issues, it’s clear the Obama administration’s edict last week Friday – requiring all 13,506 U.S. school districts to give transgender children access to the bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and sports teams of their choice – proves the federal government has too much power over American schools. What fuels the culture war like perhaps nothing else is putting the force of government behind one side. 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 – Robert Zubrin’s ‘Merchants of Despair’ Back in Print

Somewhat Reasonable - May 20, 2016, 4:12 PM

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 Joins Fight Against the Abuse of RICO Power Jim Lakely, Somewhat Reasonable Five weeks have passed since our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) were served a subpoena for their climate thought crimes. To the displeasure of the group of attorneys general, they are not rolling over. In fact, CEI and a coalition of supporters are fighting back harder than ever. A full-page ad in this week’s New York Times, which included Heartland’s public support, makes it clear this legal action is an affront to free speech and will not be taken lightly. READ MORE

Recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month In recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month, The Heartland Institute has constructed a page containing all recent Heartland news, research, and commentary related to this important subject. These articles seek to promote innovation in reaching and treating those with mental illness and improving the quality of care they receive, as well as identifying solutions to public policies that obstruct innovation and the delivery of mental health services. READ MORE

Heartland Reprints Robert Zubrin’s Merchants of Despair Combining riveting tales from history with powerful policy arguments, Merchants of Despair provides scientific refutations to environmentalists’ pseudo-scientific claims, including its tirades against nuclear power, pesticides, population growth, biotech foods, resource depletion, industrial development, and, most recently, fear-mongering about global warming. Merchants of Despair exposes this dangerous agenda and makes the definitive scientific and moral case against it. ORDER A COPY

Featured Podcast: Dr. Keli’i Akina: Hawaii Moving to Ban Gasoline and Diesel Vehicles In a move that puts appearance ahead of practicality, two state representatives from Hawaii have introduced legislation banning from the state vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel fuel. Dr. Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, joins The Heartland Daily Podcast to explain how bad this wacky idea really is, and why the government should stand aside and let the free market pick winners and losers in the energy sector. LISTEN TO MORE

Heartland Library Book Shelf of the Week – Economics
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Get Your Popcorn Ready: Heartland Movie Night – Atlas Shrugged Part 2 Join us and fellow lovers of liberty for the second part of our special series of Heartland Movie Nights, in which we’re showing each part of the Atlas Shrugged trilogy on three Wednesdays in a row – May 18, May 25, andJune 1. Based upon the enormously influential 1957 novel by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 follows the struggles of Dagny Taggart, a railroad heiress trying to maintain her integrity and keep her family’s railroad alive in the midst of a rapidly decaying world. Doors to Heartland’s Andrew Breitbart Freedom Center open at 5:30 p.m. Film starts at 6:00 p.m.Group discussion follows. SEE UPCOMING EVENTS HERE

Florida Can Curb Doctor Shortage, in Part, By Empowering Nurses Logan Pike and Matthew Glans, Orlando Sentinel Even before the implementation of Obamacare, many states were suffering from doctor shortages. Now the problem is even worse. Florida alone may need an additional 4,600 primary-care physicians by 2030. Proposed in this article are several solutions that would help increase access to care without increasing costs or decreasing quality. READ MORE

Remaining Contenders Differ Radically on Climate, Fuels H. Sterling Burnett, Climate Change Weekly Donald Trump’s views on climate change and energy production differ radically from those held by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Trump, a climate change skeptic, has said he will reverse regulations issued by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit access to and use of fossil fuels, regulations he says harm the economy for little or no environmental benefit. READ MORE

Obamacare Court Rulings Protect Employers and Taxpayers’ Rights Michael Hamilton, Consumer Power Report Patients and taxpayers won two important battles against the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in court this week. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Zubik v. Burwell, instructed multiple courts of appeal to reconsider the constitutionality of a mandate the federal government admits needlessly violates employers’ First Amendment rights. In a separate U.S. District Court case, the judge ruled against unlawful spending under Obamacare for which no funds were appropriated.  READ MORE

Bonus Podcast: Cynthia Cabrera: FDA’s War on E-Cigarettes and Vaping Power-hungry bureaucrats in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are about to put electronic cigarettes – a relatively new and increasingly popular smoking cessation product – through a long and arduous federal approval process, potentially putting thousands of small companies out of business. Cynthia Cabrera, president of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, joins The Heartland Daily Podcast to talk about how the new regulations will take many products off shelves and effectively promote smoking traditional cigarettes. READ MORE

Trans Bathrooms Edict Proves Feds Have Too Much Power Joy Pullmann, School Choice Weekly Regardless of one’s views about transgender issues, it’s clear the Obama administration’s edict last week Friday – requiring all 13,506 U.S. school districts to give transgender children access to the bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and sports teams of their choice – proves the federal government has too much power over American schools. What fuels the culture war like perhaps nothing else is putting the force of government behind one side. 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 (ep39): The TSA, Volunteer Care, Dependent States, and Tech-Enhanced ESAs

Blog - Education - May 20, 2016, 1:05 PM

John and Donny continue their exploration of think tanks in #39 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 the Cato Institute, the Palmetto Promise Institute, and the Goldwater Institute.

Featured Work of the Week

This week’s featured work of the week is from the Cato Institute. John and Donny discuss a paper from Cato titled “End the TSA.” Recently, the news has been filled with stories of astonishingly long security lines at airports across the country. The problem: a shortage of TSA employees paired with the busy travel season. The paper gives a short historical context to airport security. Then, it shows how private firms are shown to be a better option the the current government-run system.

In the World of Think Tankery

Today Donny and John talk about a new Policy Brief by the Palmetto Promise Institute titled “Volunteer Care: More Healthcare without More Government.” The Brief outlines the growing imbalance of South Carolina’s health care system. According to the Brief, nearly 1 in 4 citizens are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. It then proposes a system called Volunteer Care – a program that has proven successful in Florida. This innovative idea has the potential to benefit thousands while saving the state government millions.

The next item Donny and John discuss is an article from Wallethub. While this study did not originate from a think tank, it does add to several discussions that have taken place on the podcast. The article, titled “2016’s Most & Least Federally Dependent States,” shows that support from the federal government is not equal. Some states receive less money from the federal government than others. This could factor into how much taxes states extract from their citizens.

The last item from the Goldwater Institute explores how technology could increase the efficiency of school choice programs like Educational Savings Accounts. Titled, “The Future of Money and Giving Every Child the Chance at a Successful Future.” this report shows how smartphone apps could hold the key to unlocking a transparent, efficient, and far-reaching school choice system for millions.

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.]

In The Tank Podcast (ep39): The TSA, Volunteer Care, Dependent States, and Tech-Enhanced ESAs

Somewhat Reasonable - May 20, 2016, 1:05 PM

John and Donny continue their exploration of think tanks in #39 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 the Cato Institute, the Palmetto Promise Institute, and the Goldwater Institute.

Featured Work of the Week

This week’s featured work of the week is from the Cato Institute. John and Donny discuss a paper from Cato titled “End the TSA.” Recently, the news has been filled with stories of astonishingly long security lines at airports across the country. The problem: a shortage of TSA employees paired with the busy travel season. The paper gives a short historical context to airport security. Then, it shows how private firms are shown to be a better option the the current government-run system.

In the World of Think Tankery

Today Donny and John talk about a new Policy Brief by the Palmetto Promise Institute titled “Volunteer Care: More Healthcare without More Government.” The Brief outlines the growing imbalance of South Carolina’s health care system. According to the Brief, nearly 1 in 4 citizens are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. It then proposes a system called Volunteer Care – a program that has proven successful in Florida. This innovative idea has the potential to benefit thousands while saving the state government millions.

The next item Donny and John discuss is an article from Wallethub. While this study did not originate from a think tank, it does add to several discussions that have taken place on the podcast. The article, titled “2016’s Most & Least Federally Dependent States,” shows that support from the federal government is not equal. Some states receive less money from the federal government than others. This could factor into how much taxes states extract from their citizens.

The last item from the Goldwater Institute explores how technology could increase the efficiency of school choice programs like Educational Savings Accounts. Titled, “The Future of Money and Giving Every Child the Chance at a Successful Future.” this report shows how smartphone apps could hold the key to unlocking a transparent, efficient, and far-reaching school choice system for millions.

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

The Trust Ramifications of an EU-Google Search Bias Conviction

Somewhat Reasonable - May 20, 2016, 11:48 AM

The Sunday Telegraph reports that the EU is poised to fine Google an EU record ~€3b for “web search monopoly abuse” and that “Google will be banned from continuing to manipulate search results to favour itself and harm rivals.

Assuming this occurs in the reported June-July timeframe, and just like the EU’s 2015 Statement of Objections charged, the long-term ramifications for Google will be much broader and more serious than most appreciate.

That’s because Google has been so masterful in managing public, media and investor expectations that this day would never arrive, (because Google had done nothing wrong and Google was on the right side of competition in offering free, high-quality, and innovative services that benefited consumers); and that it was really EU regulators who were in the wrong because they were protectionists who were also “wrong as a matter of fact, law and economics.”

Why is the pending outcome here so problematic for Google?

First, Google has long maintained it is not a monopoly and has done nothing wrong, critical premises undergirding the public’s trust in Google, its algorithms, the objectivity of its search results, and its brands.

The EU’s pending decision per the Statement of Objections, will rule that Google “has abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services in the European Economic Area (EEA) by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages…” and that “Google has a dominant position in providing general online search services throughout the EEA, with market shares above 90% in most EEA countries.”

Simply, the EU will be ruling as a matter of law that Google is in fact a monopoly that has done wrong.

Second, what’s different here is this will be the first official search antitrust conviction of Google in the world, and it will be for abusing its search dominance to the detriment of consumers, competition and innovation.

Both the U.S. FTC’s negotiated settlement with Google in 2013, and the Canada Competition Bureau’s negotiated settlement with Google in 2016, afforded Google the opportunity to continue to represent itself publicly as not a monopoly, and that it had done nothing wrong.

Third, the EU’s pending ruling that Google “abused its dominant position” in search “by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages,” and its pending mandated remedy, that “Google should treat its own comparison shopping service and those of rivals in the same way,” both expose that Google has long fundamentally misrepresented its business model to the public, i.e. that it’s algorithms are neutral and unbiased, when they are not.

For over ten years, Google’s current “About” page has publicly asserted: “Ten things we know to be true. We first wrote these “10 things” when Google was just a few years old. From time to time we revisit this list to see if it still holds true. We hope it does—and you can hold us to that.” “Focus on the user and all else will follow. Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible.”We never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher in our search results and no one can buy better PageRank. Our users trust our objectivity and no short-term gain could ever justify breaching that trust.” [bold added] … “It is best to do one thing really really well. We do search.”

Simply, the expected EU ruling will conclude that Google has manipulated its search results since 2008, which means what Google claims it knows to be true – in fact, is not. Google lied.

In sum, this pending outcome is highly problematic for Google because its cuts to the heart of who Google is, what it does, and what it promises to be.

It officially exposes Google as a search monopoly that systematically manipulates search results in ways that undermine trust in Google, its search algorithms, and its public claims of neutrality and objectivity.

[Originally published at the Precursor Blog]

Scott Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is President of Precursor LLC, an emergent enterprise risk consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, some of which are Google competitors, and Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests. He is also author of “Search & Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google Inc.” Cleland has testified before both the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees on Google and also before the relevant House oversight subcommittee on Google’s privacy problems.

Categories: On the Blog
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