Scanning the week’s national news, views and clues with you and yours in mind

By Malia Hill

Quote of the Week:
“Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” –Edward Everett

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:

Don’t Take My Lemonade Stand

There are any number of famous quotes that jokingly attribute leftist/liberal attitudes to youth and optimism and more conservative positions to age and/or wisdom.  And while they may be insightful and occasionally true (goodness knows this author had her own embarrassing youthful lefty impulses), they begin from the erroneous assumption that young people can grasp neither the importance nor the excitement of the movement to champion smaller government and greater personal liberty.  (As the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would say, who could not see the benefit of championing only that which moves us up toward greater liberty and away from big government tyranny?)

Janie Johnson, author of Don’t Take My Lemonade Stand, has demonstrated that it is possible to present these issues for young people in her new, provocatively-titled book, a primer on the rule of law, rights of man, and the Constitution. In this interview with Danny de Gracia, she discusses her book, her views on the current state of politics, and the questions she believes that young voters should be asking themselves about the 2012 presidential election.  (My favorite line from the interview: “When I hear the words “bipartisan” or “compromise” I know we the people are about to get screwed again!”)

Racial Preferences Hurting the Preferred

Our society seems to lack the will to have an honest look at and discussion about the real effects of racial preferences. It’s almost as if, having acknowledged our (collective) historical wrongs, we decided that we could slap a band-aid solution on it all, and escape ever having to consider whether this was the right solution—or if it even works.  In an amicus brief filed in the case of Fisher v. The University of Texas (in which the plaintiff alleges that she was squeezed out of a spot in law school to make way for students admitted under racial preferences), Anthony Caso of the Chapman University School of Law claims that race-based preferences in law school are actually backfiring to the extent of pushing African-Americans out of law school and the legal profession.  Caso’s brief cites research demonstrating that African-American students fail or drop out of law school at a rate more than twice that of white students, and that this drop-out rate is more strongly correlated with academic performance that financial hardship.  Caso cites similar findings on the bar exam pass rates as well.  The unspoken conclusion suggested by the research seems to be that this is really a question of preparedness—that the preferences meant to raise more minorities to the legal profession may actually be frustrating success by setting up some minority students for failure by placing them in an environment for which they have not been adequately prepared.

And so, we are brought back to our real failure.  Instead of confronting the failures of our school system (on all levels), we decided to take the easy route and just enact racial preferences at higher levels of education.  But this is just an attempt to cover up a rotten foundation.  Fix that, and we could see more success from all students, regardless of race.

Vouchers Outdo Preferences

And just because I can’t resist a good “I told you so,” on the heels of the previous item demonstrating how racial preferences hurt minorities, I give you a non-race based program focused on improving educational opportunities in general that has a significant positive impact.  A new study on the effects of voucher programs has found that overall college enrollment among African-American students who used a voucher to attend private school increased by 24%.  Interestingly, the voucher program did not appear to have a large effect on college enrollment a whole among all students who participated, but there can be no doubt that it improved college attendance in a number of categories for minority students.  Proof positive that the best way to help students do better, regardless of race, is to give them an opportunity to choose better schools.

Modern Health Care Inefficiency . . . And Cheesecake

Because it’s always fun—and educational—to contrast the way that actual, for-profit enterprises contrast with heavily regulated industries, I give you this article from John Goodman comparing the way The Cheesecake Factory operates in contrast to modern hospitals.  Why The Cheesecake Factory?  Because their menus rivals War and Peace for length.  Meaning that the company has had to work out ways to effectively and efficiently deliver their products.  Whereas, modern medicine, well, hasn’t.  It’s a great (even if slightly stretched) metaphor for how the search for more effective health care means repealing regulations, not enacting more.

The Energy Debate We Won’t Have

The problem with presidential debates is that despite all their sound and fury, we actually tend to learn very little about the candidates and their positions.  Instead we get sound bites, small speeches focused on moving specific groups of voters, and a whole lot of rhetorical grandstanding.  So if you want to know more about Obama’s and Romney’s likely effects on energy policy, a debate will get you nowhere.  (Unless you’re just in the mood for a diatribe about Republicans vs. the environment and Democrats vs. business.)  Fortunately, we can turn to Paul Driessen, who understands not only the difference in policy between the candidates, but also what the larger effect on American job growth, business, and the economy is likely to be.

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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