Barry is a Senior Economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, one of the most influential think tanks in America today.
The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. Topics include reforms in health care, taxes, Social Security, welfare, criminal justice, education and environmental regulation.
NCPA Motto - Making Ideas Change the World - reflects the belief that ideas have enormous power to change the course of human events. The NCPA seeks to unleash the power of ideas for positive change by identifying, encouraging, and aggressively marketing the best scholarly research.
Daily Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Daily Policy Digest
- Public Believes Government Wastes 51 Cents of Every Dollar
- 22 Oct 2014 07:00:58 CDT -
American government is growing at leaps and bounds, and with that growth has come massive amounts of wasteful spending on programs that are duplicative, unnecessary, inefficient and outdated. Indeed, the American public is not unaware of this reality; according to a 2014 Gallup poll, Americans believe that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every dollar that it spends. Gallup has been conducting the poll since 1979, and the 2014 result is tied for the highest since the poll began.
Heritage Foundation Fellow Romina Boccia has authored a comprehensive report on government spending. Incredibly, the last two decades have seen federal spending grow by two-thirds, after taking inflation into account.
- The types of programs on which the federal government is spending money is especially significant; while discretionary spending was two-thirds of the American budget in 1963 (and mandatory spending was one-fourth), mandatory spending is now two-thirds of the budget today.
- This is important, because mandatory spending is automatically required from year-to-year, while discretionary spending requires congressional approval annually.
- Why the rise in mandatory spending? Entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, entitlement spending grew sixfold from 1972 to 2011.
With such massive spending growth, controlling waste is essential. Boccia writes that the public typically thinks about waste in terms of seemingly ridiculous spending -- funding reality television in India, or throwing lavish parties on the government dime or paying farm subsidies to the dead. But waste can be much broader than that, she says, identifying six ways in which the government might misallocate resources: paying for projects that cost more than the benefits they create; intervening in a market and thus creating inefficiencies and slowing production, like granting subsidies; performing functions better left to state governments or the private sector; funding recipients who do not need government benefits; paying for outdated or duplicative programs; and mismanagement or fraud.
Boccia outlines a number of ways to curb federal spending and get the government's finances in check, including reforming entitlement programs to be true safety nets, ending corporate welfare, reducing fraud and improper payments and establishing spending caps.
Source: Romina Boccia, "Eliminating Waste and Controlling Government Spending," Heritage Foundation, October 17, 2014.
For more on Tax and Spending Issues:
- How Important Is Water to the U.S. Economy?
- 22 Oct 2014 07:00:57 CDT -
America is highly reliant on water, from supporting agriculture to thermoelectric power to regular household use. In fact, American household water use is quite high compared to other nations -- domestic water use in the United States is 98 gallons per person per day, while it is just 37 gallons per day in the U.K. and 32 gallons per day in Germany.
Brookings Institute researchers Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. Harris, Brad Hershbein, Elisa Jácome and Gregory Nantz have compiled a report that looks at the importance of water within the U.S. economy. According to the study:
- Eighty percent of all water that is withdrawn in the United States goes towards power generation and irrigation, with power generation responsible for 49 percent and irrigation 31 percent. Notably, however, not all withdrawn water is fully consumed.
- Agriculture-heavy states have understandably high rates of water use. In California, 80 percent of water withdrawals are used for agriculture. The production of alfalfa alone uses one-eighth of the state's water.
- The agriculture sector in California is important for the entire nation; the state is the largest agricultural exporter, responsible for exporting 13 percent of all American agricultural exports and three-fifths of all fruit, nut and vegetable exports.
- The percentage of water used for agriculture in California has actually fallen since 1980.
The authors note that drought (though not unusual when looking at drought historically in the United States) is a significant problem in much of the country, with 57 percent of the United States facing abnormally dry conditions this year. Significantly, America's driest states are also its fastest-growing:
- Of the 10 fastest-growing states in the first decade of the 200s, half received an average of less than 20 inches of precipitation annually. The national average for the twentieth century was 30 inches. Nevada and Arizona have less than 15 inches of precipitation annually, while simultaneously growing at 35 and 25 percent rates, respectively.
- America's driest region (including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) is projected to grow by 45 percent over the next 30 years.
- The driest states also have the highest domestic water usage per capita, due to outdoor watering needs. While Maine residents use just 54 gallons of water per day, Nevada residents use 190 gallons per day.
Source: Melissa S. Kearney et al., "In Times of Drought: Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States," Brookings Institute, October 20, 2014.
For more on Environment Issues:
- Wisconsin Teachers Leaving Unions in Droves
- 22 Oct 2014 07:00:56 CDT -
In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill known as Act 10. The bill made union membership optional, resulting in a major change in union enrollment in the state.
Perry Chiaramonte Fox News reports that Act 10, also known as the Budget Repair Bill, has changed the union landscape in Wisconsin:
- For the last three years, public employees have been able to opt out of union membership (and the corresponding requirement to pay dues).
- The bill requires unions to have a "recertification drive" each year in order to gauge the support of its members.
- Public sector employers cannot automatically collect union dues on behalf of unions.
What's happened? Union membership has fallen in the teaching sector. The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) had almost 100,000 teacher members in June 2011; today, that figure has fallen by one-third. And AFT-Wisconsin, a smaller teacher's union, has seen its 16,000-member peak cut in half. Teachers told Fox News why they left:
- Teacher Amy Rosno said, "As soon as I was given the choice, I left." After attending her first WEAC meeting as a representative, she said, "I realized that it was all political and not about teaching."
- Many teachers were concerned that their dues were being spent on political causes. Michelle Uetz, a special education teacher, said, "We shouldn't be pigeon-holed into contributing to politics we don't believe in."
Many of those who have left the unions have joined non-union trade groups, including the Association of American Educators.
Source: Perry Chiaramonte, "Union enrollment plummets for Wisconsin teachers under tough law," FoxNews.com, October 19, 2014.
For more on Education Issues:
- EPA Warns about Sea Level, But Rate of Rise Is Falling
- 22 Oct 2014 07:00:55 CDT -
Gina McCarthy, administrator of the EPA, recently traveled to Miami to "raise awareness" about stopping global warming and preventing sea level rise.
McCarthy expects global warming to melt glaciers, thus expanding oceans and flooding coastal areas. But the problem, write Bob Carter and Tom Harris for the Washington Times, is that sea level rise due to global warming is not a real problem. Carter is the head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia, while Harris directs the International Climate Science Coalition. They explain:
- There has been no global warming for the last 18 years, and there has been no ocean warming since at least 2003.
- The rate of sea level rise has actually decelerated over the last few decades, despite a 9 percent rise in carbon dioxide.
Carter and Harris say the idea that greenhouse gases and global warming lead to sea level rise is "fallacious." In fact, sea level is a function of water volume, ocean current movement and uplift or subsidence of the earth below sea level measuring stations. To see the warming of the type McCarthy is concerned about would require major melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps, yet those caps have not melted in the past, even in eras much warmer than today.
Even if sea level rise is likely, Carter and Harris say the problem is a local and regional one, not a global one; affected coastal regions can take steps to adapt to any future sea level change. This adaptation strategy is exactly the type of response called for by Tanner Davis, NCPA research associate. Davis explained that the uncertain science surrounding global warming requires that policymakers use techniques of adaptation, rather than mitigation, to combat any possible future effects of warming.
Source: Bob Carter and Tom Harris, "Another EPA alarm about rising seas that aren't rising," Washington Times, October 20, 2014.
For more on Environment Issues:
- NC Community Colleges May Offer Bachelor's Degrees in Nursing
- 22 Oct 2014 07:00:54 CDT -
Community colleges typically offer associate's degrees in nursing, a program that takes between two to three years to complete. Five states, however, allow their community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in nursing through a four-year program. North Carolina is the latest state to consider the option and would join Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington if it decides to allow the change.
Harry Painter of the Pope Center explains the coming transformation within nursing education. For years, most nursing positions have not required a college degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing is the highest paying job of all the jobs that do not require a bachelor's degree. And the field is only growing -- nursing is expected to grow by 19 percent in the decade between 2012 and 2022, much higher than the 11 percent average growth that other jobs are expected to see.
Rising numbers of nurses are getting degrees beyond the typical associate's degree, whether bachelor's or master's; today, over 50 percent of nurses have such degrees. Some employers are starting to require that nurses carry a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN), and nursing and medical groups have also encouraged bachelor's degrees for nursing.
What would the move mean for community colleges? Currently, many community colleges have partnered with four-year colleges to offer joint programs, but if community colleges offer bachelor's degree, students would have no need for dual enrollment and could instead enroll in the less expensive community college. Some have expressed concern that the move would pull community colleges away from their initial mission, but others are very supportive. There is concern, however, that the BSN degree might be perceived as less valuable if it comes from a community college rather than a standard four-year college.
Source: Harry Painter, "Should community colleges offer bachelor's degrees in nursing?" Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, October 20, 2014.
For more on Education Issues:
- The Future of Farming and Rise of Biotechnology
- 21 Oct 2014 07:00:53 CDT -
There is a great deal of controversy over genetically modified crops; some countries have banned their growth entirely, while others have placed strict regulatory restrictions on production. David Weisser, research associate with the National Center for Policy Analysis, argues that biotechnology is necessary. As the world's population continues to grow (it is projected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050), global food production will have to increase by 70 percent in order to meet demand.
Scientists have discovered ways to improve crops by manipulating plant DNA, creating a product that better resists insects and stands up to herbicides, allowing farmers to grow crops using fewer pesticides. For example, biotechnology company Monsanto created a crop known as Bollgard Bt cotton -- a strain of cotton injected with the Bacillus thuringinesis bacterium which produces its own insecticide, reducing the need for additional pesticide. The product was introduced in India in 2002, and its benefits became evident:
- Yields improved with the use of Bt cotton. One particular cotton farm increased its yield by 7,625.7 pounds per hectare while simultaneously reducing costs by $143.32 per hectare (due to decreased use of pesticides).
- With more money in their pockets, Indian farmers have been able to upgrade their machinery, advancing the country's agricultural economy.
Brazil is currently experimenting with biotechnology and sugarcane. While Brazil produces 588 million tons of sugarcane per year (half the world's output), it could double that production; half of its potential crop is currently lost to pests, weeds and drought.
Biotechnology offers the potential to combat world hunger by greatly increasing crop yields and producing hardier plants that can withstand pests, drought and more. But because many countries do not allow the production or importation of biotech crops, the ability of these crops to feed the globe is limited, says Weisser.
Source: David Weisser, "The Future of Farming and Rise of Biotechnology," National Center for Policy Analysis, October 2014.
For more on Environment Issues:
Health Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Consumer Driven Health Care
- Health Care Reform Tax Will Hurt Franchisees
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - When the employer mandates go into effect in 2014, many franchised businesses will be motivated to reduce the number of locations and move workers from full-time to part-time status...
REAL CLEAR MARKETS
- Saving Jobs from Health Reform's Harmful Regulations
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - If the rate of health care cost growth had not exceeded general inflation, a typical family would have had $545 more per month in spendable income instead of $95 -- a difference of $5,400 per year...
- Does Health Insurance and Seeing the Doctor Keep You Out of the Hospital?
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - Gaining health insurance and using more primary care services leads to more hospitalizations as a result of physicians' discretionary decisions regarding aggressive and intensive treatment...
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
- The Case for Competition in Medicare
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - A well-functioning marketplace would set in motion the forces needed to transform American medical care into a model of efficient patient-centered care...
- Potential Effect of Health Care Reform on Emergency Department Utilization Not Clear
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - In 2010, 71 percent of emergency physicians said that they expected emergency department visits to increase due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act...
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE
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