Recycling myths revisited

From Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).

In this revised essay, Daniel Benjamin takes us through the common claims asserted on behalf of the multi-billion dollar recycling programs that are generally presumed to be wise public policy. Benjamin applies careful analysis to the claims made over the years about the “need” for mandatory recycling — and finds them to be bogus. He reminds us that before we rush into costly policies presumed to be saving the environment, sound science and analysis of the facts, which are rarely as interesting as fantastic scare stories, are much to be desired in a society that values freedom in markets and personal choice.

Click here to read “Recycling Myths Revisited” [pdf].

A conservative agenda to get right on cronyism will be good for jobs, good for the economy, and, above all, the right thing to do, writes United States Senator Mike Lee at Heritage Foundation. Needed reforms include forcing Congress to periodically reevaluate expensive regulations, leveling the playing field for all energy producers, opening our higher education system to new students, teachers, and competition, giving Americans the right to choose whether or not to join a union, cuting out the bureaucrats who waste critical infrastructure funding, and eliminating taxpayer subsidies to organizations like the Ex-Im Bank.

From Charles Blahous via e21.

The next time you hear political advocates making claims about how much deficit reduction and spending cuts are being enacted, remember that these claims are being made in comparison to fictitious, somewhat arbitrary baselines. Ask them how much total spending and taxation would occur under their plans, and compare the answers. It is the only way to really understand the budget debate.

CBO report on Obamacare

From Bankrupting America, an educational project that explores the policies hindering economic opportunity and growth in America.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released a report that revised the estimated cost of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). The new projections estimate that the federal government will spend nearly $2 trillion on the ACA over the next decade. Here are the top five things to know about the report.

From LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies.

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! All right? Maybe — maybe not, says scholar Daniel K. Benjamin. Making an unused tissue out of a used one wastes resources and hardly benefits the environment. Melting and casting aluminum cans, though, both saves resources and benefits the environment. But you donメt need to exhort the aluminum company to save those resources: saving scraps is in its own interest. So why does it take a lesson from your third-grade teacher to get you to recycle household waste?

Only hours after Kansas Watchdog revealed Wednesday the law enforcement agency’s massive spike in drug tax revenue — the spending of which Capt. Doug Nolte said the police department doesn’t track — local media pounced.

This Friday (April 18, 2014) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features the two newest Wichita school board members speaking on the topic “An Overview of Wichita Public Schools from a New School Board Member’s Perspective.” The speakers are Joy Eakins and Mike Rodee.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. Meetings are held almost every Friday in the Wichita Petroleum Club on the top floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway. The program starts at noon, and it is suggested that guests arrive by 11:45 am in order to get their lunch before the program starts. The meeting costs $12, which includes a delicious buffet lunch and beverage. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson accused the White House of running an unprecedented pressure campaign against journalists, claiming they are pursuing a “particularly aggressive, well-organized” strategy “designed to have some kind of a chilling effect” on the American press.

The education “blob,” also known as unions, media and their education establishment allies (UMEEA), will not tolerate increased opportunity for students to attend charter schools in Kansas.

“And that guy who was smiling and joking with me in the checkout line at the grocery last Saturday? He lit a firebomb, taped a tax credit for private school supporters on it, and flung it through the window of a first grade classroom in the wee hours of Sunday morning.”

For this Kansas newspaper editorial writer, the institution of public schools are more important than struggling students: “Two elements of the bill are particularly troubling. One creates a $10 million-a-year corporate welfare program in support of private education. It allows large companies to enjoy a 70-percent credit against their state tax liability if they offer scholarships to at-risk students who move to private schools. This has nothing at all to do with public education equity; rather it creates a mechanism to damage the finance structure for public schools.”

Small steps towards Kansas education reform are “immoral” and make this representative “heartsick.”

More on the 77 cents

…as soon as Stevenson was actually questioned about the statistic by McClatchy reporter Lindsay Wise, the White House adviser crumbled, admitting her earlier comments were inaccurate. “If I said 77 cents was equal pay for equal work, then I completely misspoke,” Stevenson said. “So let me just apologize and say that I certainly wouldn’t have meant to say that.”

Obamacare in Oregon

Oregon has failed time again on their promises to deliver a workable exchange.

Once education, marital status and occupations are considered, the ‘gender wage gap’ all but disappears.

Reporters Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, authors of the inaccurate report on Koch’s oil sands holdings, admitted in a Monday piece that publicly available data contradicts their reporting, but moved the goalposts from “biggest lease holder” to “biggest foreign lease holder.”

Officialportrait[1]“Dear KOCHPAC: Thank you so much for the generous KOCHPAC contribution to my 2010 campaign. … Your early financial help keeps me strong in my campaign. … Again, I can’t thank you enough. … I look forward to working with you throughout this election.”

Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve in the Kansas Flint HillsThere’s controversy over the direction of the Kansas economy. This is from Stan Ahlerich, Executive Director, Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors quarterly “Indicators of the Kansas Economy” (IKE) report recently has been the subject of careless scrutiny. Some have taken the short term numbers in this report out of context and misconstrued them, painting a picture of a lagging Kansas economy, when in fact long term trends reveal that our state’s economy is the healthiest it has been in the last decade.

The council looks at a vast array of information to assess the Kansas economy and its growth, from university research to the expert opinions of economists, among many other sources. As responsible and professional business men and women, they must look at a comprehensive set of information in order to truly understand the complex nature of the Kansas economy. Merely looking at a narrow, short-term set of facts, as was done recently, poorly serves the people of Kansas and our economy.

The Great Recession that struck the global economy was harsh, and led to dramatic actions at the national level.

Kansas was not immune to the economic downturn, which left no state unscathed. While we were not the hardest hit, the Recession nonetheless had a dramatic impact on all Kansans. From May 2008 to June 2010, Kansas lost 77,700 jobs, a staggering number for a state of our size to lose in just two years. Since that low in 2010, however, Kansas has recovered 60,000 of the jobs lost during the Recession. According to the Kansas Department of Labor, in the last three years, Kansas has regained a higher percentage of jobs than any state in our region except for one.

The largest portion of job recovery and creation, 45,000 jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occurred from January 2011 to December 2013, during the Brownback administration. Analyzing additional long term data trends in the IKE reports confirms that our state has a healthy economy. The trend lines during five and 10 year periods are impressive and indicative of a state that is moving the right direction. Over these longer term periods, Kansas’ trend lines for gross state product, personal income, private sector employment and exporting follow regional and national trends closely, and often outperform them.

Short term data should be viewed as a snapshot that should be analyzed in a broad context. A single year of data is based on a small sample size that does not always accurately reflect the underlying stability and health of the economy. Analyzing regional averages over short periods is particularly troublesome because there are often outliers in the data that can significantly skew results in a small sample size.

Furthermore, the most recent data available in the quarterly IKE report often lags the current economic conditions because of the frequencies of data reporting. These data are useful when viewed in the context of longer term trends, but cannot be taken as a standalone assessment from which to draw sweeping conclusions as some have done recently. The tax reforms implemented by Gov. Sam Brownback were phased in starting in 2013. The current IKE data cannot reflect the full impact of those cuts. Tax returns are only now being filed for last year.

Short term data can also obscure the fact that the Kansas economy is performing better than it has in years. Per capita income and gross state product dropped as the state lost jobs in 2009 and 2010. Kansas has not only recovered from those losses, but is well ahead of pre-Recession highs. For the first time since fall 2008, the Kansas unemployment rate has been below 5 percent and ranks among the lowest in the nation. New business filings have increased for four consecutive years and reached record levels with 15,469 new business filings in 2013.

Kansas is on the right road. The data confirm we are enjoying the sustained, fundamentally sound economic growth that will ensure our state is a great place to live and work.

Professor Daniel D’Amico interviews a New Orleans business owner about crime in the city after Hurricane Katrina. They observe that local businesses can play an important role in reducing crime and increasing the safety of communities. Entrepreneurs and businesses create more connections between people, offer support and economic opportunities, and provide what urbanist Jane Jacobs called “eyes on the street.”

Newton Republican Rep. Marc Rhoades blames the distortion of education funding legislation for his sudden resignation Monday as chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

From Kansas Policy Institute.

“One Shining Moment” for school choice amidst a sad day?

By James Franko

Yesterday will likely be remembered as a sad day for parents and kids seeking more educational choice in Kansas. Two proposals in the House Appropriations Committee died a quiet death; the committee was considering their funding “fix” to the recently-decided Gannon lawsuit and the choice pieces were offered as amendments to the larger package.

However, while proponents of choice were gnashing their teeth in the House, the Senate Ways and Means Committee (working on their response to Gannon) added a property tax credit for private and homeschoolers. The concept of a tax credit for private school education has been implemented around the country but the idea of extending a credit to property taxes is new. As it stands right now, the Senate provision is a good step but it may be fleeting (fleeting defined here about halfway down the page).

But, why choice? Why not spend more money on public schools?

Well, too many kids are being left behind in the current system (starting at slide 25). Low-income and minority students consistently, and tragically, lag behind their higher income and white counterparts on state, national, college prep., and just about any other test you can name. This stubborn fact remains the case despite billions more being dumped into educational programs aimed at these very same populations. More herehere, and here.

By whatever form, school choice would provide an escape valve for students who can’t find the right fit in their zip-code-directed school. It places the focus on each student’s individual need rather than creating a system that forces each child in a specified slot…a slot determined by where that child happens to live.

The Senate property tax credit gives property owners (e.g. homeowners) a $1,000 credit on their property taxes if they document to the county that their child(ren) attend a private school or are homeschooled. It is capped at $2,500 per family (2.5 kids worth of credits) and only applies if ALL children in the home don’t attend a public school. This is a step in the right direction of providing relief to families whose kids need a different educational opportunity.

Back to the House, a public charter school program that was based on best practices from around the country failed to win enough support to be considered by the full chamber. A corporate tax credit scholarship program faced a similarly gruesome end shortly thereafter. Both of these programs would have been targeted to students in the lowest performing schools in the state (Title 1 Focus and/or Priority), as defined by KSDE, and low income kids. By way of reminder, just the sorts of kids who are being left behind their counterparts as mentioned above.

In the event anyone needed it, the past month has been a stark reminder that Kansas runs our school system as just that — a system. A system that demands for the individualized needs of each child to be subordinated to the needs of adults and their institutions.

In this story: “What makes it different is an innovative approach in which the city government develops the land using market forces.” That’s pretty sad, that the state’s largest newspaper and a city think that “market forces” are an innovation.

How public-sector-only choice can increase costs, reduce educational diversity, and undermine competition, and how those unintended consequences can be avoided.

Independent filmmaker raises funds to bypass Gosnell media censorship. For more on this and why I contributed to the making of this movie, see Gosnell, the movie.

For more on this and why I contributed to the making of this movie, see Gosnell, the movie.