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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The Declaration of Independence

AAI's bulletins to Arkansas policy leaders.


This Week From AAI


Your Tax Dollars Are Going to Lobbyists, Coffee Is An Essential Benefit, & How Free-Market Kidney Sales Save Lives


The Arkansas Project

David Kinkade writes about Arkansas' Medicaid crisis & reviews AAI's latest policy paper, "Addressing the Arkansas Medicaid Crisis." Read the story at The Arkansas Project.


Coffee is an Essential Benefit Too

"Dear President Obama, can you believe the nerve of employers? Many of them still seem to think that they should be allowed to determine the benefits they offer. I guess they haven't read your 2,000-page health law. It's the government's job now." Allysia Finley continues at The Wall Street Journal.


Did Dharun Ravi Commit a Hateless Hate Crime?

Dharun Ravi was convicted of most of the charges against him, including the "hate crime" of "bias intimidation," which carries a penalty of five to 10 years in prison. Notably, the jury acquitted Ravi of deliberately trying to intimidate his roommate, Tyler Clementi, "because of" his sexual orientation on September 19, 2010, when he used a webcam in his dorm room to watch Clementi kiss another man. But as it has been pointed out, that was not the end of the matter. More from Jacob Sullum at Reason.


The Truth About Health Insurance Exchanges

If a state chooses to establish an exchange, it will bear the full cost of running it.  While a number of people are urging states to immediately create an exchange, the reasons are based on myths, not facts.  In this report, Jonathan Ingram of Illinois Policy Institute responds to those myths.


Subsidized Green Light Bulb Carries Costly Price Tag

The U.S. government last year announced a $10 million award, dubbed the "L Prize," for any manufacturer that could create a "green" but affordable light bulb.  Now the winning bulb is on the market, at the affordable price of $50, says the Washington Post.


Why Are Your Tax Dollars Being Funneled to Lobbyists?

The idea of government money going toward efforts to lobby the government sounds like some type of joke, but it's not. According to public records, money from some of government grants have been and are being used to lobby local governments in support of policies including sugar and soda taxes. The Daily Caller reports.


Affirmative Action and the Supreme Court

The charming assumption of the plaintiffs in Fisher v. University of Texas-a racial preferences case the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear-is that if five robed justices behind mahogany desks tell universities to stop discriminating by race in their admissions policies, universities will stop. Yet regardless of what the justices say, writes Shikha Dalmia, university officials will give up their firstborns before they let go of their beloved racial preferences. More from Reason.


Who is Happy?

Dennis Prager writes at National Review Online about who is happy and why. Read the story.


How Free-Market Kidney Sales Can Save Lives & Lower Costs

The 1984 National Organ Transplant Act prohibits the sale of human organs, yet economic analysis of the potential market for human kidneys has shown that the legislation is detrimental.  While opponents of free kidney trade argue that it would price the poor out of the market, further investigation finds that free trade would provide better results for both donors and recipients, says this report from the Library of Economics.


Romney vs. Obama on Corporate Tax Reform

Obama, Romney & Santorum have all unveiled their plans for corporate tax reform. But amid all of the promising rhetoric there is significant cause for concern. Many proposals, particularly those of Messrs. Obama and Santorum, seem to have unlearned many of the lessons of modern economics. More from The Wall Street Journal. 


Racial-Quota Fallout

Derrick Bell's options were to be a nobody, living in the shadow of more accomplished legal scholars - or to go off on some wild tangent of his own, and appeal to a radical racial constituency on campus and beyond. His writings showed clearly that the latter was the path he chose.Thomas Sowell explains at National Review Online.

The Coming Medical Ethics Crisis

For the past several years, the medical profession has been undergoing a disturbing transformation. The process was begun by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in an effort to control exploding Medicare costs, and was accelerated by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The medical profession must decide-and soon-which ethical doctrine to follow: Are doctors to be agents of their patients or agents of the state? Jeffery Singer explains at Reason.

The Unaffordable Care Act

President Obama's health plan should be rechristened "The Unaffordable Care Act." Precisely as Obamacare's critics predicted, the officially titled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is no bargain for taxpayers or patients. Deroy Murdock has more at National Review Online.


Politics: A Never-Ending Game of 'Hot Potato'

There's reason to believe that ideological realignments in this country are not necessarily the product of careful analysis and rigorous reasoning. Rather, they are the result of people assigning blame to the guy that just happens to be in charge when the data hits the fan. Jonah Goldberg explains at National Review Online.


This Week From AAI


Birth-Control Agitprop, The Accommodation That Isn't, & Infinite Affirmative Action?


Want to Address the Arkansas Medicaid Crisis? Look to Florida

Arkansas Medicaid costs are reaching a tipping point, with a major funding shortfall projected in the very near future. Lawmakers seeking to reform the system should look to Florida, where a Medicaid reform pilot program has created impressive results in cost savings and improved health outcomes. Christie Herrera explains in AAI's latest policy paper.


The 60th Obamacare Vote

Mitt Romney recently argued that campaign rival Rick Santorum was responsible for ObamaCare because the former Pennsylvania Senator had, years before its passage, supported Arlen Specter, his homestate colleague and one of the 60 Senators who later voted for the bill. But after March 15, even Mr. Romney may agree that the blame for the 60th vote really belongs to the U.S. Justice Department. More from The Wall Street Journal.



Nobody who wants the presidency too badly ought to be trusted with it. George Washington struck the right note in his first inaugural: "No event could have filled me with greater anxieties" than learning of his election. Unfortunately, writes Gene Healy, the modern presidential campaign calls forth characters with delusions of grandeur, a flair for dissembling, and a bottomless hunger for higher office. Read more from Gene Healy at Reason.


 Making Cold Medicine Prescription-Only Did Not Reduce Meth Use

In 2005, the state legislature of Oregon passed a new law requiring that pseudoephedrine be bought only by consumers with a prescription.  This, lawmakers argued, would reduce the production of methamphetamine (meth) in the state because pseudoephedrine is a necessary ingredient in that process. Read the full story from the National Center For Policy Analysis.


Antonin Scalia's ObamaCare Problem

When the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments later this month on whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which requires all Americans to buy or secure health insurance, oversteps Congress' lawful authority to regulate interstate commerce, the Obama administration will be drawing heavily from the legal arguments of a surprising ally: conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Damon Root explains at Reason.


Oil Sanctions & the Pretense of Knowledge

The sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the EU on Iranian crude oil exports were not supposed to cause a spike in oil prices. Yet as Reuters analyst John Kemp reported this week, "the policy has backfired." Why? As Sheldon Richman explains, it's because the matter that these "experts" were grappling with does not permit the kind of knowledge they would need to design a plan calibrated to produce the results they seek.More at Reason.


 Islam, Free Speech, & Democracy

The story that flew around the blogosphere last week was guaranteed to cause an uproar: A Muslim assaults an atheist for mocking Mohammed, and a Muslim judge dismisses the charges and berates the victim-and it all happens here in America. Suddenly, warnings about the threat of Sharia law on our shores got a strong boost. In reality, writes Cathy Young, there was no "Sharia court," and the judge is not a Muslim. But, however egregious the misreporting of the story and the vilification of the judge, the actual facts of the story are troubling. Get the full story at Reason.


Limbaugh and Our Phony Contraception Debate

At issue isn't inhalers for asthmatics or insulin for diabetics. Contraception isn't like other kinds of "health care." Yes, birth-control pills can be prescribed to address medical problems, though that's relatively rare and the Catholic Church has no quarrel with their use in this circumstance. And the university's insurance covers prescriptions in these cases. Still, Ms. Fluke is not mollified. Why? Because at the end of the day this is not about coverage of a medical condition. Cathy Ruse explains at The Wall Street Journal.


Tax Reform to Encourage Growth, Reduce the Deficit, and Promote Fairness

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget, Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, said the internal revenue code is needlessly punitive and complex. Tax reform has the potential to reduce, or perhaps even eliminate, these problems.  But it also could make them worse. More from the National Center for Policy Analysis.


Birth-Control Agitprop

The Blunt amendment isn't going to send America back to the Dark Ages. Rather than transport us to President Franklin Pierce's America, never mind Charlemagne's Europe, the Blunt amendment would send America hurtling back to January 2012. In that Handmaid's Tale of an America, women were free to buy birth control from their local grocery store or Walmart pharmacy, and religious employers could opt not to subsidize the purchase. What a terrifying time that must have been for America's women. Jonah Goldberg opines at National Review Online.


Ira Stoll on Rush Limbaugh's "Slut" Comment

The press and President Obama have been all over Rush Limbaugh for the words he used to criticize a Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke, who spoke on February 23 at a meeting of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. There's been less attention paid, writes Ira Stoll, to the details of Ms. Fluke's testimony, which, when you get into them, help explain why Mr. Limbaugh was worked up about the issue. The full story from National Review.


Infinite Affirmative Action?

 Later this year, the Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of the use of racial preferences in college admissions in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas. The battle lines will once again be drawn over the meaning of the equal-protection provisions of the Constitution. So it's noteworthy that Attorney General Eric Holder has just made it clear he's never bumped into a racial preference he didn't like, and that he sees no time limit on such policies. John Fund elaborates at National Review.


The 'Accommodation' That Isn't

Over the past several days, it's become clear that the White House's talks with religious leaders - over the "accommodation" to HHS's recent regulations on mandatory contraceptive benefits in insurance plans - are not going terribly well. James Capretta explains at National Review

This Week From AAI


Chicks Dig Jerks, School Choice Works, & Liberals Like Taxes


The Arkansas Project

Would you believe that state unemployment overpayments are only $44 million? We thought you might. And that's just the amount they've uncovered so far. David Kinkade at our affiliate, The Arkansas Project, has more on this feel-good story


States Delaying Obamacare Exchanges

States are lagging in the creation of health insurance exchanges, the supermarkets where millions of consumers are supposed to buy subsidized private coverage under President Obama's health care overhaul. Some want to set up rudimentary exchanges with limited features - as a defensive tactical maneuver - rather than cede control to Washington. More-conservative Republicans do not want to do anything at all. More from The New York Times.


Academic Hypocrisy

Academics love to say that businesses are not paying enough to people who work for them. But where in business are there people who are paid absolutely nothing for strenuous work that involves risks to their health? In academia, that situation is common. It is called college football. Thomas Sowell opines at National Review.


Ira Stoll on the Capital Gains Tax Rate

The founder of the Vanguard group of mutual funds, John C. Bogle, who says he is a lifelong Republican, is calling on Congress to raise capital gains taxes to the rates that apply to ordinary income." As a general policy, equalize the taxes, raise the taxes on capital gains," Mr. Bogle said earlier this month in an interview with Bloomberg Television's Betty Liu. Mr. Bogle has a lot of wisdom about investing, writes Ira Stoll, but on the question of capital gains, he's wrong.  Get the full story from Reason.


Obamacare's Bipartisan Critics

The ongoing controversy over President Obama's universal female-contraception entitlement decree reportedly found Vice President Joseph Biden, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former chief of staff Richard Daley, and five Democratic senators opposing Obama's fusillade against religious liberty and economic freedom. This is the latest example of Democrats, in whole, or in part, giving the cold shoulder to Obamacare. Deroy Murdock has more at National Review.


Why Liberals Like Taxing The Wealthy

This election is a contest between a Democrat who wants to make this country more like Tocqueville's France and Republicans who want to keep it more like Tocqueville's America. The liberal bloggers are rooting for France. Michael Barone explains at National Review.


Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

In what the Wall Street Journal labeled "The Year of School Choice," 2011 saw the continued growth of one of the country's most prominent systems of school choice.  The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. More from the National Center for Policy Analysis.


Obama's Budget Badly Undercounts Tax Increases

President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget proposal explicitly claims a $1.561 trillion tax hike over 10 years, as reported by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This is a vast understatement, because that figure fails to account for all of the President's tax increases and improperly claims credit for reducing tax receipts from tax cuts that are not new policies. Curtis Dubay explains at Heritage.


Ray Lahood 1.0

Ray LaHood's latest attempt to revise the rules of the road in response to hysterical fears about in-car technology is nothing new. Get the full story from Reason.


Yes, Chicks Dig Jerks

One of the remarkable facts about domestic violence is that it is in many ways easier to draw up a statistical profile of typical domestic-abuse victims than it is to generalize about the men who commit domestic abuse: Age and other variables are more consistent for the victims than for the abusers. Kevin Williamson has more at National Review.


Our Debt, Not Our Children's

When explaining the dangers of America's ballooning national debt, fiscal conservatives unwittingly sabotage their cause by invoking "the children." They should spend lots more time discussing how federal red ink harms adults today. Deroy Murdock expounds at National Review.


James Q. Wilson In His Own Words

James Q. Wilson, who died Friday at age 80, was one of America's most consequential political scientists and a frequent Journal contributor. Read Wilson in his own words at The Wall Street Journal 


James Q. Wilson Remembered

One of our editors once made the mistake of referring to James Q. Wilson as a sociologist, and he was quickly rebuked with a note that, no, the professor was a political scientist. Jim Wilson liked to get things right, which as far as we can remember he always was. The Wall Street Journal remembers.


Pro-Union Activism by California's Attorney General

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is a close ally of the public sector unions, who are doing all they can to stop the state's burgeoning pension reform movement. So when the group California Pension Reform submitted two voter initiatives that would rein in the unsustainable costs of the state's pension system, Harris decided to behave as a political operative and besmirch the office she holds by distorting the official descriptions that most voters rely upon when making their voting decision. More from Reason.


This Week From AAI


Fairness Fraud, Distorting The Economy, & The Upside Of Default


The Arkansas Project

Believe it or not, Arkansas is already facing a shortage of doctors.  In fact, the state says, "The existing health workforce is unable to meet the health needs of Arkansans by almost every measure."  What happens once Obamacare takes full effect?  David Kinkade analyzes over at The Arkansas Project.  Constitutional experts disagree on the merits of a constitutional convention, but Advance Arkansas' latest policy paper outlines a few indisputable facts. Also, Arkansas legislators who think government is getting too big & growing too fast should review our  Five Strategies policy paper


Obama Tax Overhaul: Replace Loopholes With Different Loopholes

President Obama has long offered rhetorical support for the idea of getting rid of "special interest loopholes" in exchange for lower overall rates. The economic case is apparently not so compelling, however, that the Obama administration is willing to avoid adding new  "special tax preferences" for favored industries. Reason breaks it down.


Obama's Virtual Economy

With his recently announced campaign platform-An Economy Built to Last-President Obama has essentially constructed a virtual economy. Instead of the economy we all live in, he's making one up and inviting us to pretend we are living in it. Welcome to the Sim City Economy. More from The Wall Street Journal.


The Upside of Default

Given the number of economic indicators that suggest impending trouble, few doubt that the government will be forced to default on some of its fiscal obligations within the next few decades.  However, as the experience of state defaults in the 1840s has taught, this may not be an entirely negative event -- benefits can be drawn out of a default, according to Jeffery Rogers Hummel. More from the National Center for Policy Analysis.


Unbundle the Welfare State

The New York Times has done a long article about how tea-party types actually rely on government benefit programs, extensively and increasingly. This is a key progressive political argument, and it has engendered a lot of blogospheric commentary. Read more from Jim Manzi at National Review.


Distorting the Economy is the Whole Point

What does Barack Obama mean when he advocates "tax reform"? Sometimes he simply uses the phrase as a euphemism for tax hikes. But he also claims to favor simplifying the hideously complex corporate and individual income tax codes, lowering rates while broadening the base by eliminating special breaks. Jacob Sullum of Reason explains.


Cheer Up Liberty Lovers, Schumpeter Was Wrong

Sometimes, when you are despairing that Joseph Schumpeter was right that capitalism is doomed because its very success inspires the Paul Krugmans and Robert Reichs of the world to spew venom against it, the universe randomly whacks you over the head with something to remind you that not all is lost.  More from Reason.


Halftime in Detroit

Politicians everywhere are forming encounter groups to commemorate the great Detroit rescue of 2008-2009, and given the selection of recent economic policies to feel good about, maybe the auto bailout is the best they can do. Still, amid Michigan's GOP primary and President Obama's re-election victory lap, this $81.8 billion-odd adventure in industrial policy could stand more scrutiny. More from The Wall Street Journal.


Americans' Reluctance to Make Tough Choices

"Since Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty began in the late 1960s, government spending has gone up relentlessly," writes John Stossel. "This is just not sustainable. So what do we do? We must cut. But I fear Americans aren't up for that. People on the street told me that the budget is out of control. But when I then asked them, 'What would you cut?' most just stared ahead."  More at Reason.


Obamacare's High-Risk Pools Cost Twice as Much Per Person as Projected

Enrollment in ObamaCare's high-risk insurance plans-intended to provide immediate coverage for the especially difficult to insure until the law's major insurance expansions start up in 2014-has so far been underwhelming: Fewer than 50,000 people are enrolled in the program, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Initial estimates had projected that around 375,000 people would end up enrolled, possibly pushing it far over budget before 2014. Reason expounds. 


The 'Fairness' Fraud

How does allowing politicians to take more money in taxes from successful people, to squander in ways that will improve their own reelection prospects, make anything more "fair" for others? Thomas Sowell of National Review explains.


This Week From AAI


Arkansas Makes The Top 10, Big Sugar Robs You, & Obama Is Right On Natural Gas


The Arkansas Project

Arkansas has made the Top 10! Well, in highest combined state & local tax rates. We are #6, to be exact. David Kinkade adds some perspectiveAnd the $19 billion question is, "Are hardworking taxpayers entitled to effective and efficient government, or should we continue to let government grow faster than Arkansas?" This conversation can only be good for our state. AAI President Dan Greenberg explains.


Birth-Control Mandate: Unconstitutional & Illegal

Obama's birth-control coverage mandate violates the First Amendment's bar against the "free exercise" of religion. But it also violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Wall Street Journal explains.


Obamacare vs. Consumer-Driven Care

A fair amount of evidence suggests that consumer-driven health plans, which typically pair high-deductible insurance with health savings accounts (HSAs), offer one of the most promising mechanisms for controlling the growth of health insurance premiums as well as overall health spending. But Obamacare will make it hard for CDHPs to survive, according to Reason.


The 'Progressive' Legacy

Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States, but his doctrine is by no means unique. He follows in the footsteps of other presidents with a similar vision, the vision at the heart of the Progressive movement that flourished 100 years ago. Thomas Sowell opines at National Review.


 1 in 8 Voter Registrations Inaccurate

Approximately 24 million active voter registrations in the United States -- one of every eight -- are no longer valid or have significant inaccuracies, according to the Pew Center on the States' Election Initiatives. National Center for Policy Analysis has more.


The Obama Budget

President Obama recently proposed his budget for fiscal year 2013, including outlook and projections for many years to follow.  While analysts continue to look at specifics, the general diagnosis is that Americans can look forward to more and higher taxes, less international competitiveness, deflated growth and out-of-control deficits that will drive the federal government even further into debt. The National Center for Policy Analysis explains.


How Big Sugar Robs You

Perhaps the most famous example in the American economy of effective implementation of trade barriers to protect domestic industry, sugar producers enjoy an inflated price that boosts personal profits.  This benefit is to the detriment of American consumers that routinely pay higher-than-optimal prices for sugar and all foods for which sugar is an input. More from the National Center for Policy Analysis.


Washington's Knack for Picking Losers

Like the mythical monster Hydra-who grew two heads every time Hercules cut one off-President Obama, in both his State of the Union address and his new budget, has defiantly doubled down on his brand of industrial policy, the usually ill-advised attempt by governments to promote particular industries, companies and technologies at the expense of broad, evenhanded competition.  Michael Boskin of The Wall Street Journal explains.  


Lessons from Europe's Experience with Renewable Mandates & Subsidies

The state of Texas, one of the largest producers of wind energy in the world, can learn a great deal from European countries' experiences.  While environmental advocates argue that targeted subsidies will reduce emissions and create "green" jobs, the experiences of Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom suggest that this may not be the case, according tothe National Center for Policy Analysis.


100 Years of Natural Gas

In his State of the Union speech last month, President Obama touted natural gas, claiming that the U.S. has an estimated 100-year supply of it. Critics responded that natural gas is an evil fossil fuel and that a 100-year supply is a "myth" anyway. Reason Science CorrespondentRonald Bailey looks into the matter and finds that the president knows what he's talking about.


How Taxing the Rich Harms the Middle Class

The Obama administration seems content to force American corporations to continue to abide by one of the most abusive corporate tax rates in the world, as this is a tax on the "rich," yet the corporate income tax has just the opposite effect.  More from the National Center for Policy Analysis. 


This Week From AAI


Tim Tebow Law, Power To Holder, & Why Follow A Budget?

The Arkansas Project

58 Arkansas legislators have joined Cato Institute's amicus brief against Obamacare's individual mandate. And why does Governor Beebe keep saying Arkansas is #5 in education? It's not really true, and it's holding us back from real reforms. 


Budget? Why Follow a Budget?

Families and businesses have budgets, yet Washington doesn't-and it hasn't for the last three years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't think this major omission is that big of a deal, and the White House has no opinion on the matter. Read The Heritage Foundation's full analysis here.



Congratulations, You're Paying Your Neighbor's Phone Bill

A finer example of the immortal nature of taxes than the telephone tax you will never find. Passed in 1898 to fund the Spanish-American war, it stayed on the books in different forms until 2006. In 1996, it was supplemented with the Universal Service Fund fee, paying for a program called "Lifeline," which is not remotely as urgent or necessary as its name suggests. Bottom line: You are paying for millions of other people's phone service with every call you make. More from Charles C.W. Cookeat National Review Online.



Holder vs. Racist Photo-ID Cards

A  bunch of racists in South Carolina are trying to hold down blacks by forcing them, and everybody else, to show photo identification before they can vote. Astonishing! Luckily, Attorney General Eric Holder is on it. Holder's deputy, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, blockedthis provision on December 23, citing "the racial gap that presently exists among photo identification holders in the state." Specifically, "8.4% of white registered voters lacked any form of DMV-issued ID, as compared to 10.0% of non-white registered voters." This 1.6-percentage-point gap can mean only one thing: racism. Deroy Murdock at National Reviewsays, "Power to Holder!"


Why Republicans Must Become More Libertarian

"The new debate in the Republican party needs to be between conservatives and libertarians," says Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). "A lot of the libertarian ideas that Ron Paul is talking about...should not be alien to any Republican." Watch Senator Demint's full interview withReason.



Obama's Enemies List

How would you feel if aides to the president of the United States singled you out by name for attack, and if you were featured prominently in the president's re-election campaign as an enemy of the people? Consider that all this is happening because you have been selected as an attractive political punching bag by the president's re-election team. This is precisely what has happened to Charles and David Koch. Read morefrom Theodore Olson of The Wall Street Journal.



$5 Trillion and Change

The political strategy behind Obamanomics was always simple: Call for "stimulus" to rescue the economy, run up the debt with the biggest spending blitz in 60 years, and then when the deficit explodes call for higher taxes.  The Wall Street Journal explains.



"Tim Tebow Law" Would Let Homeschooled Virginia Kids Play Public School Sports

Sometime this week Virginia lawmakers are expected to vote on a lawwhich would allow the state's "tens of thousands of" homeschooled kids to play sports on public school teams; in fact it would prevent public schools from being part of any intramural-type organizations which barred the presence of homeschoolers. So, who are the folks objecting to this bill? Lucy Steigerwald expounds at Reason.



Giving Colleges Some "Skin in the Game"

Among the many reforms brought into place by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 was the concept of "skin in the game" for mortgage originators -- an idea exemplified by the Mortgage Partnership Finance (MPF) mortgages of the Federal Home Loan Banks.  MPFs force the originator of the loan, usually the banks, to accept a loss should the loan fail to be repaid as opposed to being covered by some sort of government guarantee, says Alex J. Pollock, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. More from the National Center for Policy Analysis. 



The Human Capital Imperative: Bringing More Minds to America

There is no doubt that immigration is often a contentious and polarizing political issue. However, in the important national dialogue over the issue, it is crucial to parse high-skilled immigration from low-skilled immigration. This first group must be recognized as a crucial tool for long-term economic growth, say Nick Schultz & Dewitt Wallace.  Read more from at the National Center for Policy Analysis



Dependence on Government at All-Time High

Published by the Heritage Foundation for the past 10 years, the Index of Dependence on Government tracks the growth in government dependence dating back to the early 1960s.  This year's edition shows an alarming trend, says Patrick Tyrrell of The Heritage Foundation.


Lessons From Solyndra

In September 2011, solar energy giant Solyndra filed for bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 employees.  The collapse was a major embarrassment for the Obama administration; however, fallout from the bankruptcy has revealed a number of additional factors that speak to the broader implications, according to Robert P. Murphy of Pacific Research Institute.


This Week from AAI

The Arkansas Project


David Kinkade writes about the Tax Foundation's report on how states measure up with their business tax climate and it's not pretty for Arkansas: we rank 31st. We also fare even worse on in education at 45th place, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council's report on the state of education in America.  


In Defense Of Negative Campaigning

There is a near-unanimous sentiment among the high-minded that negative advertising is a bad thing. It pollutes the air even more than carbon dioxide. It breeds cynicism about politics and government. It is somehow unfair. In response, Michael Barone says a few words in praise of negative ads. Read more here from National Review.


Should Everyone Be Required To Have Health Insurance?

It is one of the most contentious issues in U.S. politics today: the federal health-care law's requirement that everybody have health insurance or pay a penalty. Supporters of the mandate-which is the central issue in the case before the Supreme Court challenging the law-argue that it's the key to making health care more affordable and accessible to everyone. By expanding the pool of insured, the thinking goes, the burden of paying for the sick is covered by all. But opponents argue that costs will go up and quality will go down, Karen Davenport and Michael F. Cannon lay out both sides here at the Wall Street Journal.


The Political Cowardice Of Barack Obama

Criminologists have remarked on "the banality of crime," the idea that most criminals are not dark geniuses, but ordinary dolts driven by the basest motives. The State of the Union is the ultimate example for the banality of American politics, of the reality that the people who want to reform us haven't the slightest clue about anything. Read more here from Steven Greenhut at Reason.


Obama's Vision For A Spartan America

The promise of American life for Obama is that if we all try our best and work our hardest, we can be like a military unit striving for a single goal. I've seen pictures of that from North Korea. No thank you, Mr. President. Read more here from Jonah Goldberg at National Review.  



Big Brother Is Now Your Diet Coach

A new federal effort called SuperTracker may sound like a program to keep extremely close tabs on suspected terrorists or other enemies of the state, but it isn't-unless those enemies also happen to be healthy-minded consumers intent on dropping a few pounds. Read more here from Greg Beato at Reason.


Ballot-Box Zombies

One recent probe recorded on tape shows how easily anybody can vote on behalf of dead Americans. Elsewhere, the total ballots cast by the dead exceeded the winning margins in several high-profile elections. These cases confirm the urgent need for all voters to prove that they are alive and to correctly identify themselves via photo ID - just as Americans do on non-election days. Read more here from Deroy Murdock at National Review.


Morning Bell: Mitt Romney's Taxes And True Reform

For more than a week, the media has focused on the subject of just how much Romney pays in taxes. On Tuesday, the governor released his tax returns indicating that he paid about 15 percent in taxes last year. At first blush, that sounds like a low rate, especially considering that Romney is admittedly worth millions. But as with all things in politics, there is more to the story. Read more here from Mike Brownfield at the Heritage Foundation blog.


Obama's Dumbest SOTU Demand: Imprison Kids In Schools Until They're 18 

Nick Gillespie suggests the absolute dumbest idea Barack Obama floated during the State of the Union address was the idea that anything in our sick, sad world would be made better by forcing kids who are bored or uninterested in high school to stay there "until they graduate or turn 18". There's no question that kids who don't graduate high school don't fare well in the world. There's similarly little question that turning schools into even-more obvious holding pens for such kids will accomplish nothing more than driving down whatever education may still happen inside the brick buildings we misidentify as schools. Read more here at Reason


A Brass Age?

This may be the golden age of presumptuous ignorance. The most recent demonstrations of that are the Occupy Wall Street mobs. It is doubtful how many of these semi-literate sloganizers could tell the difference between a stock and a bond. Read more here from Thomas Sowell at National Review.


The Coming Tech-led Boom

In January 2012, we sit again on the cusp of three grand technological transformations with the potential to rival that of the past century. All find their epicenters in America: big data, smart manufacturing and the wireless revolution. Read more here from Mark P. Mills and Julio M. Ottino here at the Wall Street Journal.

 What The Bible Teaches About Capitalism
Who would have expected that in a Republican primary campaign the single biggest complaint among candidates would be that the front-runner has taken capitalism too far? As if his success and achievement were evidence of something unethical and immoral? Read more here from Aryeh Spero at the Wall Street Journal.


Lessons From Medicare's Demonstration Projects

The evaluations show that most programs have not reduced Medicare spending: In nearly every program involving disease management and care coordination, spending was either unchanged or increased relative to the spending that would have occurred in the absence of the program. Read more here from the Congressional Budget Office.


This Week from AAI


The "Bain" of the GOP, U.S. Falls in Economic Freedom Ranking, & Town Explores Private Policing

The Arkansas Project

David Kinkade writes about the Tax Foundation's report on sales tax burdens by zip code. Arkansas doesn't rank well in this category.  Also, Kinkade reports on the "friend of the court" briefs filed by GOP U.S. House Members and Senators in support of the lawsuits against Obamacare. Arkansas' Rep. Tim Griffin and Sen. Boozman both signed on the briefs.  


The Reorganization Man

The Washington rap on President Obama is that he's humorless, but that's unfair. He may not be Jay Leno funny, but his bit Friday on reforming and reducing government was great. This is a President who last year promised a review of all regulations while riding the greatest rule-making wave in American history. Now he's calling for leaner government without mentioning ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank, which create so many new boards and commissions that government auditors (literally) can't even count them. We suspect many in the White House were laughing themselves when they came up with this one. Read more here from the Wall Street Journal.


The Truth About Bain and Jobs

Mitt Romney and his GOP rivals are engaged in a fruitless argument in South Carolina over whether private equity creates more jobs than it destroys. The debate is fruitless because voters and politicians don't believe jobs should ever be destroyed. The American voter is not about to become sophisticated about the place of private equity in American life. But the American voter can become inured to it. So let backers of Newt Gingrich's flaming candidacy run a "King of Bain" video savaging Mr. Romney's leveraged buyout career on South Carolina TV. Read more here from Holman W. Jenkins at the Wall Street Journal.



Another Way California Wastes Taxpayer Dollars

California legislators never have enough time, and always lack the vision, to deal appropriately with the state's pressing budget and infrastructure problems. But they are great at self-aggrandizement and at catering to the special-interest groups that assure their re-election. One would think, for instance, the Assembly Transportation Committee would be deeply concerned with the massive predicted cost overruns for the proposed High Speed Rail system, or with planning cost-effective ways to meet the transportation needs of a growing population. Yet the committee spends nearly a third of its time on a task that few readers would consider of vital importance: naming highways. Read more here from Steven Greenhut at Reason.


It Isn't Just the Mandate

Most people have heard that Obamacare is being challenged as unconstitutional because it contains an individual mandate forcing people to purchase health insurance. That challenge is due to be heard by the Supreme Court this year. But while the mandate is certainly problematic in a system that, at least notionally, is one of limited and enumerated powers, the mandate is not the worst part of this bill - not by a long shot. Read more here from Mona Charen at National Review.


We're Number Ten

Good news! On economic freedom, America is in the global Top 10. Bad news: America is No. 10 - one blond hair ahead of Denmark. According to the 18th annual Index of Economic Freedom, released Thursday by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong enjoys the earth's freest economy. Indeed, this is the fourth consecutive year in which the U.S. fell a notch. Out of a perfect score of 100, America declined 1.5 points to 76.3. Denmark, No. 11, scored 76.2. Read more about why the U.S. keeps falling here by Deroy Murdock at National Review.


5% Of Patients Account For Half Of Health Care Spending

Just 1% of Americans accounted for 22% of health care costs in 2009, according to a federal report released Wednesday. That's about $90,000 per person, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. U.S. residents spent $1.26 trillion that year on health care. Five percent accounted for 50% of health care costs, about $36,000 each, the report said. The report's findings can be used to predict which consumers are most likely to drive up health care costs and determine the best ways to save money, said Steven Cohen, the report's lead author. Read more about the report here at USA Today with Kelly Kennedy.


Ethanol Subsidies Are Gone, But Not Forgotten

The fact that Congress has finally put an end to the ethanol welfare program is a step in the right direction. On December 31, 2011, the $6 billion per-year Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) was allowed to expire, and the ethanol import tariff was slashed from the books. However, those hoping that 2012 would be a fresh start are bound to be disappointed, as VEETC and the tariff represent only one part of a greater effort to force consumers to use ethanol. Of much greater significance to the industry is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a mandate that requires a certain amount of ethanol be blended into gasoline every year at increasingly greater amounts. Read more here from Daniel Kish at U.S. News.


California's High-Speed Rail To Nowhere

In announcing the appointment of a new economic adviser last summer, President Obama emphasized his commitment to fact-based policymaking. It's "more important than ever," he said, to get "recommendations not based on politics, not based on narrow interests, but based on the best evidence, based on what's going to do the most good for the most people in this country." If only the president and his political ally, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), would follow that advice regarding their pet project for the Golden State: high-speed rail. No matter how many times they tout the mega-project as the job-creating wave of the future, they can't change the mountain of evidence that high-speed rail is, in fact, a boondoggle. Read more here from Charles Lane at the Washington Post.


The Supreme Court Fails to Protect Economic Liberty, Again

On Monday, the Court declined to hear a powerful legal challenge filed by the Institute for Justice against the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' 2011 decision upholding Florida's requirement that all interior designers carry an occupational license from the state. Not only do 47 other states currently permit unlicensed interior design without any accompanying risk to innocent civilians, Florida's own attorney general's office even admitted in a joint pretrial stipulation that "neither the defendants nor the state of Florida have any evidence that the unregulated practice of interior design presents any bona fide public welfare concerns." This isn't unlicensed brain surgery, after all. Read more here from Damon W. Root at Reason.


The Force Is Not With You

A small Minnesota town is set to embark on a radical civic experiment: replacing cops with a private security force. The cost-saving move has triggered worry among some that town leaders may have gone too far, taking some life-or-death responsibilities out of the hands of those with the legal authority to enforce the law. While many cities and towns pay for private guard details to supplement the work of badge-carrying deputies and police, often within discrete institutions like schools and hospitals, Foley is the first town in Minnesota and one of a few nationally to try relying solely on private guards for street patrols. Read more here from Andrew Strickler at The Daily.


Why You Probably Can't Fire Your Health Insurance Provider

When Mitt Romney said that he likes "being able to fire people who provide services to me," he was talking primarily about health insurers. But there's a reason many people can't easily "fire" their health insurer: Their health insurance is attached to their job. About 45 percent of Americans get health insurance through their workplace, and they don't have many choices to pick from. Now, some employers offer a limited choice of plans and options, but even in those cases it's far from a wide-open marketplace. For the most part, employees are stuck with the health insurance their employer offers. Read more here from Peter Suderman at Reason.


Supreme Court Appears Sympathetic To Idaho Couple In Battle With EPA

Conservative members of the Supreme Court seemed outraged Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency's actions in a four-year battle with an Idaho couple who want to build a house on land the EPA says contains sensitive wetlands. Justices across the ideological spectrum appeared troubled by the EPA's position that Mike and Chantell Sackett do not have the right to go court to challenge the agency's wetlands decision. Read more here by Robert Barnes at the Washington Post.


Protecting Free Speech By Banning T-Shirts And Commerce? 

Here is how debased the political culture of Los Angeles has become: In a city with persistent 12 percent unemployment, where the most popular storefront brand name is "For Lease," the City Council is cracking down-again!-on people who make a living by selling stuff to people who want to buy stuff. And it's actually much dumber than that. Read more here from Matt Welch at Reason.


Rick Santorum's Moral Delusions

Why is Rick Santorum running for president? Because America is in trouble and he knows why. America is a good place to judge the value of faith in promoting virtue. There is a great deal of variation among the 50 states in religious observance-and a great deal of variation in social ills. Steve Chapman from Reason argues that religiosity does not translate into good behavior, and disregard for religion does not go hand-in-hand with vice. Read Chapman's article here.


Why Does Keynesian Success Feel Like Failure?

The recession officially ended more than two years ago, in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. More important, Keynesian "equilibrium" was achieved last Christmas. Demand has been restored. The strengthening of the dollar and a threatened increase in the net saving rate have been, with vast and concerted public effort, averted. Interest rates are low or effectively negative. Deficit spending has more than doubled.  And yet month after month the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports unemployment above 9 percent, higher than it was when the 2009 stimulus became law. Even allowing for the usual lag in post-recession job growth, the employment recovery is by far the most anemic since the end of World War II. Read more here from Tim Cavanaugh at Reason.  


This Week from AAI

Ideas Have Sex, The Hidden Dangers of "Living Wages," & Ethanol Tax Credits Expire

The Arkansas Project

David Kinkade writes about the continuing tragedy that is Obamacare, focusing on the tax on medical devices. After all, what better way to ensure the availability and affordability of these devices than to make them more expensive?

Also, the Forestry Commission managed to find themselves four million dollars short. No word yet if any officials will be held responsible or if it is just accepted in bureaucracies that these things just happen.


The Rise Of Consumption Equality

Just about every product or service that makes our lives better requires a mass market or it's not economic to bother offering. Those who invent and produce for the mass market get rich. And the more these innovators better the rest of our lives, the richer they get but the less they can differentiate themselves from the masses whose wants they serve. Read more here from Andy Kessler at the Wall Street Journal.



Estimates of Illinois' budget contain more than $2 billion of promises for which there is no money. In addition, the state has carried over $5 billion in unpaid bills from previous years. To make matters worse, many companies, fearing that they and their employees will ultimately have to pick up the tab, are demanding tax breaks to stay in the state. Read more here from the Economist.


The Hidden Dangers Of The "Living Wage"

With 2012 upon us, the next labor market battle, both in the United States and in Europe, will be over the "living wage." Unlike the minimum wage, the proposed living wage law in New York City is targeted only to those individuals who work in projects that receive some sort of government subsidy. The justification for this proposal is that the parties who receive these government subsidies ought to share them with the workers that they hire. Read more here from Richard Epstein at the Hoover Institution's Defining Ideas.


Compliance - Or Else

Michael and Chantelle Sackett bought two-thirds of an acre of Idaho property in 2005, intending to build a new family home. What they got instead was a lesson in the arbitrary power of federal administrative agencies-one that has now taken them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Read more here by Timothy Sandefur from the Pacific Legal Foundation.


After Three Decades, Tax Credit for Ethanol Expires

The tax break, created more than 30 years ago, had long seemed untouchable. But in the last year, during which Congress was preoccupied with deficits and debt, it became a symbol of corporate welfare. Fiscal conservatives joined liberal environmentalists to kill it, with help from a diverse coalition of outside groups. Read more here by Robert Pear at the New York Times.


Ideas Have Sex, and We're Better for It

An idea walks into a bar. She meets another idea. They get together, and nine months later (or maybe it's nine minutes or seconds? It's not clear how it works with ideas), a new idea is born. A baby idea with the best traits of both parents. When this happens a lot, everyone gets smarter and the world gets better. Read more from John Stossel at Reason here  


Romney Derangement Syndrome

A number of commentators have been remarking on how rarely Mitt Romney gets attacked by his opponents in the GOP debates. What's even more remarkable is what the other candidates are attacking Romney for. Instead of calling Romney to account for his health-policy mistakes, they're going after him for his . . . successful business career? Read more here from Avik Roy at National Review


OWS In Crisis

The disproportionate media coverage that OWS received - which was more in line with the protesters' deluded sense of self-importance than commensurate with the public's interest or the coherence of their aims - was its greatest achievement of 2011. But there was not much sign of OWS in New York. In the seven hours Charles C.W. Cook had been out of touch with those on the ground, America's media had gone wild with apathy and OWS had gone home. Read more here from Cook at National Review.  


This Week from AAI


Gun Permit Holders Do Less Crime, Americans Are The Most Generous, & A Look at 2011

The Arkansas Project 
David Kinkade writes about the deceitful attempt by the New York Timesand Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times to paint permit-holding gun owners as criminals. More about the story is below.  


NYT Scare Story About Carry Permit Holders Shows They Are Remarkably Law-Abiding

A front-page story in the New York Times tried to stir up alarm about liberalized carry permit laws. To illustrate the hazards of that policy, the Times cites crimes committed by permit holders in North Carolina. How many crimes? Excluding traffic offenses, the Times counts 2,400 over five years, of which 200 were felonies. More relevant (since critics of nondiscretionary permit laws worry that they contribute to gun violence), "More than 200 permit holders were also convicted of gun- or weapon-related felonies or misdemeanors, including roughly 60 who committed weapon-related assaults." By comparison, about 0.35 percent of all Americans are convicted of a felony each year--more than 20 times the rate among North Carolina permit holders. It seems clear these people are far more law-abiding than the general population, a finding consistent with data from other states. Read more here from Jacob Sullum at Reason.


'Things Happened'

What better way to celebrate the new year than to recap some of stories we get to leave behind? Jacob Sullum provides some highlights of "responsibility deflection" in 2011. Perhaps we might suggest "accepting responsibility for my own actions" as a new year's resolution for those in power... Read more here at Reason.


Resisting Euro-Bailouts

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with European socialism was that it would eventually run out of other people's money. That is a good summation of what has happened with today's euro crisis. The politicians across the water have run out of other people's money in their own countries, so now they want other nations to foot the bill. Topping the list of potential suckers is the United States. Many Republicans in Congress want nothing to do with any more taxpayer bailouts. Over 60 House Republicans have signed on to legislation to pull back on U.S. funding of the IMF. Read more from John Fund here at National Review.


For Public Safety, A New Golden Age

Crime has never subsided as a topic for local news or prime-time detective shows. Anyone looking for reasons to fear going out of the house can find plenty. But the truth is our streets are safer than they have been in a long time.

The latest evidence came last week, when the FBI reported that in the first half of 2011, "violent crimes were down 6.4 percent, while property crimes fell 3.7 percent." Murder declined by 5.7 percent, rape by 5.1 percent, and robbery by 7.7 percent. Read more here at Reason from Steve Chapman.


The Class Warfare We Need

Voters are faced with an apparent dilemma, a contest between the two powerful emotions of envy and fear: should we let our envy of the supposedly too-wealthy, too-powerful "rich" outweigh our fear of damaging the economy's ability to create private sector jobs? Which side should we take in the unfolding class war: the Democrats' message exploiting envy, or the Republicans' message exploiting fear? It's a difficult dilemma-but, fortunately, it's also a false dilemma. Read more here from Steve Conover at the American.


America The Generous

After the Britain-based Charities Aid Foundation released a survey this week that ranked the U.S. first in generous citizens among nations of the world, Jason L. Riley contacted Adam Meyerson of the Philanthropy Roundtable for a reaction. Given the economic hardships of so many Americans in recent years, was he surprised by the results? Read more by Jason Riley here at the Wall Street Journal.


Paul Ryan's Old-Fashioned American Vision

When you think of Republican congressman Paul Ryan, terms like earnest, serious, and important come to mind. So does the term old-fashioned. Ryan comes from an old-fashioned place, the blue-collar town of Janesville, Wisconsin. He cherishes the old-fashioned values of a faithful family man. He even looks old-fashioned, with his white shirts and striped ties. And he uses old-fashioned argument skills, persuasively weaving big-picture themes with the numbers that back them up. Read more from Larry Kudlow here at National Review.


Is Obamacare Stopping Businesses From Hiring?

President Obama says his health care "reform" will be good for business.

Business has learned the truth. Three successful businessmen went on John Stossel's tv show last week to explain how Obamacare is a reason that unemployment stays high. Its length and complexity make businessmen wary of expanding. Read more here from John Stossel at Reason.


Holder's Voter ID Fraud

In Attorney General Eric Holder's telling, the movement in the states to require voters to show some ID is a revival of minority disenfranchisement a la Jim Crow. A growing number of minorities, he said in a speech last week, are now worried about "the same disparities, divisions and problems" that beset the country in 1965 and "many Americans, for the first time in their lives . . . now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up" to the promise of democracy for all. If you haven't heard about this national crisis, perhaps that's because you don't travel in Mr. Holder's political circles. He is merely repeating the howls of groups like the NAACP and the George Soros-funded Brennan Center, which claim without evidence that voter ID laws hurt minorities. Read more here from the Wall Street Journal.


A Libertarian Year Ahead?

As 2011 draws to a close, we wonder: Is freedom winning? Did America become freer this year? Less free? How about the rest of the world? John Stossel fears Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." That's what's happened. Bush and Obama doubled spending and increased regulation. Government's intrusiveness is always more, never less. The state grows, and freedom declines. But there were bright spots. Read more here from John Stossel at Reason to find out what those bright spots were.