The Public Policy

The Public Policy

Don’t Fence Us In: Western States Seek Return of Land From D.C.

By 2.8.16

According to the United States Geological Survey, nearly half the land in the Western United States is owned by the federal government. This includes 84.9 percent of land in Nevada (hiding UFOs requires lots of space), 64.9 percent of Utah, 61.6 percent of Idaho, 61.2 percent of Alaska, 52.9 percent of Oregon, 48.1 percent of Wyoming, and 45.8 percent in California. Meanwhile, the federal government owns only about 5 percent of the land in states east of the Mississippi River. Altogether, Uncle Sam owns roughly 640 million acres of land.

The Public Policy

Perpetuating the Pay Equity Myth

By 2.2.16

On the Democrat presidential campaign trail, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been harping again on the so-called “war on women” and demanding pay equity. At a recent rally in a packed gym in Des Moines, Clinton framed the issue bluntly, “We have got to have equal pay for equal work.”

Working off his more “progressive” playbook, Sanders echoed Clinton’s message in his own inimitable way, “And, when we talk about decent and fair wages, there is another injustice we must address. I’m talking to the men now…stand with the women and demand pay equity for women workers!”

Late last week, in a transparent bid to energize the Democrat campaign on the pay equity issue, President Obama laid out new rules that would require every company with more than 100 employees to report salaries based on race, gender, and ethnicity, setting up the federal government to actively engage in a nation-wide fishing investigation for pay disparities. Armed with that data, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hopes to target companies for paying women less than their male counterparts with massive investigations and systemic discrimination lawsuits to follow.

The Public Policy

Buddy, Can You Spare $15 an Hour?

By 1.21.16

Two years ago, Thumbtack — a startup that connects consumers with local contractors — conducted a survey to see what they thought of proposals to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, as per President Obama’s bid “to give America a raise.” The survey found that that a plurality of the small businesses that used Thumbtack thought a wage hike would be good for the economy. Most thought that a minimum-wage increase would have no effect on their hiring or firing decisions. But what happens if Washington passes Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ proposal to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour — or Californians pass a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage to $15 from $10?

One piece of news this past weekend suggests a big minimum-wage hike could cost low-skilled workers their jobs.

The Public Policy

Sowing the Seeds of Discontent in the West

By 1.6.16

There are real and deeply serious issues underpinning the “standoff” at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon — both having to do with the idea that liberal appellate court judges, at the behest of federal prosecutors and agenda-driven bureaucrats, can send people back to jail after they have completed their initial sentences, and with the more general issue of the public policy problems surround federal ownership of massive amounts of public lands in the West.

It must be stipulated at the start, however, that the armed occupation of an empty federal facility is fundamentally unhelpful to the process of finding solutions to either, and, in fact, is nothing more than a distraction to serious discussions of those solutions. But solutions need to be found, since the problems surrounding the standoff (especially those pertaining to public lands) have been festering for decades.

The Public Policy

The Busybody Left

By 12.22.15

The political left has been trying to run other people’s lives for centuries. So we should not be surprised to see the Obama administration now trying to force neighborhoods across America to have the mix of people the government wants them to have.

There are not enough poor people living in middle class neighborhoods to suit the political left. Not enough blacks in white neighborhoods. Not enough Hispanics here, not enough Asians there.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it grant the federal government the power to dictate such things. But places that do not mix and match people the way Washington wants them to can lose all sorts of federal money they currently receive under numerous programs.

Handing out vast amounts of the taxpayers’ money is the way the federal government has expanded its power far beyond the powers granted by the Constitution — thereby limiting the freedom of individuals, localities, and states. Washington is essentially buying up our freedom with our own money, taken in taxes.

The Public Policy

How Ted Cruz Would Balance the Budget

By 11.12.15

At the CNBC debate on October 28, Ted Cruz . released his tax reform proposal, which I believe is the best of all the presidential candidates’ plans. At Tuesday night’s debate, Crux released a spending reduction plan showing how he will pay for the tax cut involved in the tax reform plan.

For the individual income tax under his tax reform, Cruz’s plan provides for one flat rate of 10% on everything – wages, capital gains, dividends, personal business income, rent, interest, and all other forms of individual income. The corporate income tax would be abolished, and replaced with a 16% Business Flat Tax, which applies to sales of goods and services, minus all purchases and expenses for inputs for production. It automatically provides for immediate “expensing,” or an immediate deduction for all purchases of plant and equipment, and all other capital investment, which inherently involves purchases of inputs from other businesses. It is essentially a consumption tax for business.

The Public Policy

Ignoring the Obvious

By 11.3.15

A recent, widely publicized incident in which a policeman was called to a school classroom to deal with a disruptive student has provoked all sorts of comments on whether the policeman used “excessive force.”

What has received far less attention, though it is a far larger question, with more sweeping implications, is the role of disruptive students in schools.

Critics of charter schools have often pointed to those schools’ ability to expel uncooperative and disruptive students, far more readily than regular public schools can, as a reason for some charter schools” far better educational outcomes, as shown on many tests.

The message of these critics is that it is “unfair” to compare regular public schools” results with those of charter schools serving the same neighborhoods — and often in the same buildings. This criticism ignores the fact that schools do not exist to provide jobs for teachers or “fairness” to institutions, but to provide education for students.

“Fairness” is for human beings, not for institutions. Institutions that are not serving the needs of people should either be changed or phased out and replaced, when they persistently fail.

The Public Policy

Open Season on the Police

By 10.20.15

In recent months there have been a series of cases reported in the media, where some teenage thug — white, black, or Hispanic in different cases — has been stopped by a policeman for some routine violation of the law and, instead of complying with lawful instructions, such as “show me your driver’s license,” chooses instead to defy the policeman, resist arrest, and finally ends up physically assaulting the cop.

In the most recent case, the teenager happened to be white, but the story doesn’t seem to change much, whatever the complexion of the guy who violated the law. Nor does the sad ending change, with the young wise guy shot dead. Nor do the reactions of the media and the parents vary much.

“He was only a kid” is an almost automatic reaction of the parents and the media. “He didn’t deserve to be killed” over a traffic violation, or because he didn’t drop a toy gun when ordered to, or some other minor infraction.

Are we so addicted to talking points and sound bites that we can’t be bothered to use common sense? If you are killed by a teenager, you are just as dead as if you had been killed by the oldest man in the world.

The Public Policy

The ‘Gun Control’ Farce: Part II

By 10.15.15

The grand illusion of zealots for laws preventing ordinary, law-abiding people from having guns is that “gun control” laws actually control guns. In a country with many millions of guns, not all of them registered, this is a fantasy and a farce.

Guns do not vanish into thin air because there are gun control laws. Guns — whether legal or illegal — can last for centuries. Passing laws against guns may enable zealots to feel good about themselves, but at the cost of other people’s lives.

Why anyone would think that criminals who disobey other laws, including laws against murder, would obey gun control laws is a mystery. A disarmed population makes crime a safer occupation and street violence a safer sport.

The “knockout game” of suddenly throwing a punch to the head of some unsuspecting passer-by would not be nearly so much fun for street hoodlums, if there was a serious risk that the passer-by was carrying a concealed firearm.

The Public Policy

The ‘Gun Control’ Farce

By 10.13.15

President Obama’s intrusion into the mourning community of Roseburg, Oregon, in order to promote his political crusade for stronger gun control laws, is part of a pattern of his using various other sites of shooting rampages in the past to promote this long-standing crusade of the political left.

The zealotry of gun control advocates might make some sense if they had any serious evidence that more restrictive gun control laws actually reduce gun crimes. But they seldom even discuss the issue in terms of empirical evidence.

Saving lives is serious business. But claiming to be saving lives and refusing to deal with evidence is a farce. Nor is the Second Amendment or the National Rifle Association the real issue, despite how much the media and the intelligentsia focus on them.

If there is hard evidence that stronger gun control laws actually reduce gun crimes in general or reduce murders in particular, the Second Amendment can be repealed, as other Amendments have been repealed. Constitutional Amendments exist to serve the people. People do not exist to be sacrificed to Constitutional Amendments.