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Great Question

A great question posed on the website of the John William Pope Foundation:

Can the free market solve environmental problems in the United States?

Ask the average American on the street, and their answer would be no: Government regulation is needed to ensure that natural resources are preserved. They might even add that a free market and a healthy environment can’t co-exist.

But what if freedom, not government, really were the best path to environmental protection? The nonprofit Property and Environment Research Center, known as PERC and based out of Bozeman, Montana, has been making that case for over three decades. In so doing, they’ve shifted the way we talk about markets and the environment in America.

 PERC’s mission is simple: Show that private property rights, far from being antithetical to the environment, actually are the best way to preserve nature and natural resources for future generations. The nonprofit primarily deals with water use, ocean fisheries, wildlife, and land conservation.

Terry Anderson, President of PERC and a Senior Fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is quick to acknowledge the counter-intuitive premise of his organization’s mission. But according to Anderson, the intersection of free markets and the environment is one area where you truly can have your cake — and eat it, too.

“Most Americans operate under the assumption that if we have economic growth, we destroy the environment, and if we preserve the environment, we destroy economic growth,” Anderson said. “We at PERC don’t see that conflict. We see the issue not as liberty or environment. Rather, we see it as liberty and environment.”

 

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One Set Of Rules For You, Another Set Of Rules For Them

Your tax dollars at work.

The IRS handed out a total of nearly $1.1 million in bonuses in a 27-month period to more than 1,146 employees who had been disciplined for failing to pay taxes, according to an inspector general’s report.

“This is outrageous,” said Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas). “The IRS is essentially telling its employees: Break the law and we will reward you.”

The employees were among more than 2,800 at the agency who received performance awards within one year of disciplinary action, such as suspensions or written reprimands for drug use, filing fraudulent time sheets or other misconduct, the report found.

Overall, about two-thirds of IRS employees received cash bonuses and other performance awards, such as extra time off, in 2011 and 2012, the report said.

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Poll: 61% Favor Building Keystone Pipeline

From Rasmussen Reports comes data that shows the Obama administration’s position on the Keystone pipeline is completely out of the mainstream.

Support for building the Keystone XL pipeline is now at its highest level ever.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor building the major oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, while just 27% are opposed. This includes 37% who Strongly Favor the project and 10% who Strongly Oppose it. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.

Energy equates with prosperity. Let’s hope energy policy is a key issue discussed in this year’s election cycle.

 

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So Sad: Building Dependency On Government

Through a combination of government and private aid, a moral, civil society provides a social safety net to help those in need. The debate is over how generous the net should be and who should qualify for aid. Here in North Carolina, officials have made difficult but appropriate choices to address the more than $2 billion the state owed to the federal government for borrowed unemployment benefits. The money had been borrowed with no plan on how to pay it back.

In Oregon, a different issue: the incredibly generous benefits offered by the state has now led to a predictable problem.

As the Governing magazine headline states:

Why Can’t Oregon Get People Off of Welfare?

The story:

Yet in two ways, Oregon is unique: It saw the largest increase in TANF cases of any state in the country from 2007 to 2013 and its TANF recipients reported the lowest participation rate for work-related activities of any state in the country.

Last year one in 40 Oregonians were on TANF. The state has one of the highest TANF coverage rates in the country, the direct result of a policy decision to expand access by adding state funding while cutting related support services. The number of single-parent families covered by TANF almost doubled from 2007 to 2013, while the number of two-parent families increased fivefold. Although DHS expects the number of families on TANF to steadily decline in future years, its forecast for 2017 still estimates that more families will be on TANF than at the start of the recession in 2007.

When you build dependency on government, you an expect dependency to become the norm.

The correct course is to spur economic growth in the state, which provides opportunities for people who need jobs to support themselves and their families. We know exactly which policies lead to growth, as John Hood has explained.

During the Great Recession and its aftermath, few issues in North Carolina politics have been as contentious as fiscal policy. According to a literature survey of recent studies examining the relationship between public policy and economic performance at the state and local level, it is clear that the policy preferences of fiscal conservatives have strong empirical support. Most studies find that lower levels of taxes and spending, less-intrusive regulation, and lower energy prices correlate with stronger economic performance. Most studies also find that the quantity and quality of infrastructure and the level of educational attainment are linked to economic performance. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that raising taxes to fund more spending on infrastructure and education will prove to be a good investment, since the relationship between government spending and outcomes is not particularly strong.
For state and local officials, this suggests a strategy for promoting economic growth in both the short term and the long term that includes:
• Keeping overall tax and regulatory burdens as low as possible. 
• Spending more tax dollars on public safety and the courts.
• Increasing the productivity of current taxpayer spending on infrastructure and education programs. 
These implications of academic research on economic growth closely track with recent public policies adopted in North Carolina. Judging from the available empirical evidence, North Carolina’s new policy mix is likely to result in stronger economic growth in the coming years.

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The Last Thing Big Education Wants Is An Empowered Parent

I am astonished at the backlash from the Big Education establishment to the idea of giving poor families the same educational opportunity that more wealthy families can already access. Yet, that is the stark reality we are experiencing. That’s right — North Carolina’s progressives are suing to prevent poor families from receiving an Opportunity Scholarship made possible by the school-choice majority in the General Assembly. John Locke Foundation President John Hood weighs in.

In virtually no other area of public policy are recipients of a government-funded service forbidden from choosing providers that best meet their needs. No one tells Medicare patients what hospitals they must visit. No one tells food-stamp recipients where they must shop. In education, both federal and state governments provide financial assistance to children who attend child care centers and preschools, as well as to students who attend colleges and universities. Their families are free to choose from among public and private providers of these educational services, with nary a peep out of the usual left-wing suspects.

What makes elementary and secondary education a proper exception to this rule? Nothing. The only distinction is that district-run public schools have until recently enjoyed a monopoly. They simply don’t want to give it up.

It was no surprise that the North Carolina Association of Educators and other groups filed suit to block implementation of the new voucher program for the 2014-15 school year. They worry that once thousands of low-income children are enrolled in schools of choice, it will be practically difficult and politically disastrous to strip them of their choice later on.

Weep for the children and the 4,500 that liberals have chosen to deny this opportunity.

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About That ‘War on Women’ Nonsense

Writing for The Weekly Standard, Whitney Blake systematically takes apart the Left’s ‘War on Women’ nonsense –  not to mention, the incredibly hypocrisy of the Leftist elite.

Ladies, please stop embracing victimhood, stop giving the Leftist narrative power over your life, choose the path that makes you happy, and live your life.

 

 

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Despite The Evidence About Poverty, Leftists Remain Silent

Our friends on the Left continue to call for an every growing slate of government entitlements — including a mandated hike in the minimum wage — as a government remedy to poverty. As we know, government is the answer for the Left. But as we also know, evidence is strong that personal choices — particularly the decision to have and raise children in a one-parent home — have a big impact on the poverty rate. In this Wall Street Journal piece, Robert Maranto and Michael Crouch of the University of Arkansas discuss the data.

More than 20% of children in single-parent families live in poverty long-term, compared with 2% of those raised in two-parent families, according to education-policy analyst Mitch Pearlstein’s 2011 book “From Family Collapse to America’s Decline.” The poverty rate would be 25% lower if today’s family structure resembled that of 1970, according to the 2009 report “Creating an Opportunity Society” from Brookings Institution analysts Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill. A 2006 article in the journal Demography by Penn State sociologist Molly Martin estimates that 41% of the economic inequality created between 1976-2000 was the result of changed family structure.

Stunning. Yet Leftists are silent.

Why isn’t this matter at the center of policy discussions? There are at least three reasons. First, much of politics is less about what you are for than who you are against, as Jonathan Haidt, a New York University psychology professor, noted in his popular 2012 book “The Righteous Mind.” And intellectual and cultural elites lean to the left. So, quite simply, very few professors or journalists, and fewer still who want foundation grants, want to be seen as siding with social conservatives, even if the evidence leads that way.

How sad for the children.

 

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Governing Features N.C.’s Fight To Repeal Costly Renewables Mandate

Governing magazine reports here on the fight in several states — including North Carolina — to repeal costly renewable energy mandates that have cost consumers billions in added electricity costs.

A joint study by the conservative think tanks the Beacon Hill Institute and the John Locke Foundation estimates that RPS will cost North Carolina electricity consumers $1.845 billion between 2008 and 2021. The report also challenged what it characterized as bloated job creation claims by pro-RPS forces. Such arguments—and eye-popping numbers—however, weren’t enough to win over key House and Senate Republicans last session. They joined with Democrats to kill a bill sponsored by ALEC member and former Duke Energy employee, Rep. Mike Hager.

Hager blames the foundering of his Electricity Freedom Act on powerful political interests including poultry and pork farms, which are specifically designated as renewable energy producers in the North Carolina RPS law. “[They] don’t want to end the gravy train,” Hager was quoted as saying after the bill was bottled up in the House.

The rebuke in North Carolina—along with the sweep in the 19 other states by pro-RPS forces last year—seems to have taken the wind out of the sails of those seeking to stall, roll back or repeal renewable portfolio standards. This year only a handful of states are seeing continued action on RPS, but one of those is Kansas. There, anti-RPS forces are going the grassroots route, blanketing the airwaves with ads pounding RPS as anti-consumer and anti-economic development.

Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports here on the fight to free consumers from these higher electric bills.

North Carolina consumers would have saved $4.2 billion since 2007 if mandates on electric power utilities to purchase expensive renewable energy had not driven costs well above the U.S. average, said a nationally recognized energy and environmental policy analyst.

James Taylor, senior fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of the monthly publication Environment & Climate News, added that the limited potential for a North Carolina commercial wind and solar industry does not justify the exorbitant costs of renewable subsidies.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that electricity prices have risen 10.8 percent nationally since 2007, but 17.8 percent in North Carolina over the same time period, or 65 percent faster, Taylor said. Taylor made his presentation March 29 presentation in Raleigh at the Civitas Institute’s Conservative Leadership Conference.

“North Carolinians are paying the price. We can measure this in our pocketbooks,” Taylor said.

Even with the higher costs, there seems to be little appetite in the General Assembly to roll back the 2007 law, known commonly as Senate Bill 3, which set the mandates in place.

State Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, who was on the panel with Taylor, noted that in 2007, “my first year in the House, I voted against the renewable bill, and in the last session I was one of the co-sponsors for repeal” of the mandates under House Bill 298.

The fight continues.

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Expert: N.C. Consumers Would Have Saved $4.2 Billion Without Renewable Mandates

Your electric bill is higher than it would have been, thanks to the renewable energy mandate foisted on North Carolina utilities — and thus, we consumers — by Senate Bill 3. Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports on the sky-high electric bills North Carolinians have been paying because of the mandates.

North Carolina consumers would have saved $4.2 billion since 2007 if mandates on electric power utilities to purchase expensive renewable energy had not driven costs well above the U.S. average, said a nationally recognized energy and environmental policy analyst.

James Taylor, senior fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of the monthly publication Environment & Climate News, added that the limited potential for a North Carolina commercial wind and solar industry does not justify the exorbitant costs of renewable subsidies.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that electricity prices have risen 10.8 percent nationally since 2007, but 17.8 percent in North Carolina over the same time period, or 65 percent faster, Taylor said. Taylor made his presentation March 29 presentation in Raleigh at the Civitas Institute’s Conservative Leadership Conference.

“North Carolinians are paying the price. We can measure this in our pocketbooks,” Taylor said.

Even with the higher costs, there seems to be little appetite in the General Assembly to roll back the 2007 law, known commonly as Senate Bill 3, which set the mandates in place.

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“the Left’s position on economic growth has been thoroughly discredited”

John Hood writes here about the academic research on which state-level policies lead to economic growth -- and which do not. The evidence is clear, and the evidence discredits Leftist ideas we hear touted regularly and with fervor.

Two years ago, I began accumulating a database of every recent study I could find about state economic policy that had been published in a peer-reviewed academic or professional journal. The list started out as a few dozen studies, then grew to about a hundred. As I continued to expand my search for articles on state and local taxes, government spending, regulation, energy prices, infrastructure, education, and other potential drivers of economic growth, the database doubled in size, then doubled again.

An initial version of the research appeared in my 2012 book Our Best Foot Forward. I shared an updated version with a national audience in the February 2014 issue of Reason magazine. Now JLF has published the final version of my literature review. It reflects 1,389 different findings from 681 different studies published since 1990. Here’s what I found.

First, the Left’s view of economic-growth policy lacks any substantial empirical support. States and localities can’t boost their economies simply by boosting public budgets. Only 15 percent of the relevant studies found that higher state or local spending was associated with higher economic growth. The results were particularly horrendous for spending public-assistance programs such as Medicaid, which was associated with lower economic growth in the vast majority of cases.

Ideas have consequences, as Richard Weaver has explained.

 

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