Scanning the week’s national news, views and clues with you and yours in mind
By Malia Hill
“I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice. That’s what I call a liberal education.”—Tallulah Bankhead
Each week, we’ll be monitoring the web to find the most interesting, challenging, or important items for those who are concerned about liberty, accountability, and big government. Here are some of the highlights from the past week:
While the threat of government intrusion on our lives via Obamacare mandate has (happily) begun to receive the attention it deserves, there are other moves being made to expand the scope of the federal government that have been creeping past unnoticed. As the Pioneer Institute (in conjunction with several other organizations) illustrates in this report, the growth of the federal involvement in education could have serious repercussions on both federalism and the parents’ right and ability to have a say in what is being taught to their children. Offering federal funds as the incentive to comply with a growing list of “requirements”, the Administration has so far managed to evade the legal limitations placed on the Dept. of Education. But without action, we may find ourselves with an education system dictated by bureaucrats in Washington rather than one that reflects the values of our own community.
Is there a word for the dread you feel as you watch the price counter on the gas pump merrily climb higher and higher, hoping every second for the blessed click-thunk that means that your pain is finally at an end? You’d think the Germans would have come up with something at least. Of course, the price of gas does not exist in a magical, erratic limbo. (Though it sometimes seems that way.) As Charles Kadlec explains in Forbes, the weak dollar policy of the Federal Reserve (and current Administration) are largely responsible for rising oil and gas prices. If we want to see more stability in the price we’re paying at the pump, we’re going to need more stability in the value of the dollar. (Which could be accomplished by defining the value of the dollar in terms of gold.)
A persistent criticism of school voucher programs is the claim that allowing education funds to be tied to the student ultimately hurts the public schools. The dedicated free market advocate may instinctually dismiss such a claim, but it is still very compelling for those who don’t wish to test the theory. However, a recent study of the Effects of School Choice Programs on Public School Districts bears out the claims of the free market-eers. Not only are the voucher programs not harmful to the public school, but may even help the school district to improve, as tying the money to the student creates a powerful incentive to the public school to improve.
Economically speaking, America is now the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Mostly Free. That’s according to 2012 Economic Freedom Rankings produced by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation, which grades countries on economic freedom based on 10 categories ranging from property rights to entrepreneurship. The U.S. scored an uninspiring 76.3, 1.5 points lower than last year, and part of a four year decline that has seen America slip from a “free” ranking to the qualified one it now occupies. Hong Kong was first for the 18th year in a row, while Canada, Chile, Australia, Switzerland, and Mauritius all ranked higher than the United States. Yup, Canada is freer than us. It’s a good thing they’re too polite to talk trash about it.
“Equality” is one of those terms that works well in speeches. So long as you don’t think too much about what’s really being said. Of course, we are all equal in terms of our basic human worth (“In the eyes of God,” as some might say), but as Walter E. Williams points out in a recent column, we should also be grateful for our fundamental inequalities. After all, too dogged an attempt to stamp out all inequities would only lead to totalitarianism and a dysfunctional society. Believe it or not, inequality is what helps to keep us happy.
Views expressed in this column are intended to promote creative thought, educate, and, we hope, prompt comment. Accordingly, thoughts expressed do not necessarily reflect the official position of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii or the author.
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