NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis
NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis
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: NCPA

Daily Policy Digest

The Growth of Federal Involvement in Education
28 Aug 2014 07:00:58 CDT -

Federal intervention in elementary and secondary education has exploded over the last 50 years, according to a new report for the Mercatus Center by Courtney Collins, assistant professor of economics at Rhodes College.

The federal government had little involvement in elementary and secondary education in the United States until 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Originally intended to provide federal funding to schools with high populations of students from low-income families, the ESEA has ballooned into a law more than 20 times its original size, writes Collins. Federal education funding for elementary and secondary education was $6.7 billion in 1964 (in 2013 dollars). By 1966, it was more than $14 billion. In 2010, it was $80 billion.

As new federal programs have been created over the last half-century, new federal requirements have been imposed on schools:

  • The ESEA was amended in 1966 with Title VI, which covered the education of handicapped children. It provided money to states that promised to create plans to expand programs for children with disabilities.
  • In 1968, the law was amended to include the Bilingual Education Act, which provided states with funds to create new programs to serve students who were not native English speakers.
  • In 1974, the ESEA was expanded to include grants for a number of additional programs, including new funds to teach the metric system in U.S. schools and categorical programs for gifted children, career education and the arts.
  • In 1978, these categorical programs multiplied, adding new projects related to youth employment, health education, women's educational equity and book distribution programs. The ESEA also established new offices, including the Office of Environmental Education and the National Council on Ethnic Heritage Studies.

The Department of Education also grew during this time, issuing new regulations from year to year. The total number of regulatory constraints (regulations issued by the Department of Education including the words "may not," "shall," or "required," and the like) in 1980 was 2,000. By 2010, it had reached 10,800. All of these requirements, writes Collins, represent the replacement of state and local control with federal educational mandates.

Significantly, American students' scores in math and reading from 1971 to 2012 have hardly changed. While 9- and 13-year-old students have performed slightly better during that time, 17-year-olds have performed worse in math and shown no change in reading.

Source: Courtney A. Collins, "Reading, Writing, and Regulations: A Survey of the Expanding Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education Policy," Mercatus Center, August 25, 2014.

For more on Education Issues:

Is the Unemployment Rate Accurate?
28 Aug 2014 07:00:57 CDT -

Many people see the unemployment rate as the main indicator of the health of the labor market, but David Leonhardt of the New York Times reports that the number may be questionable. According to a new study from researchers at Princeton University, the unemployment rate has become more and more inaccurate over the last 20 years.

What is responsible for the drop in accuracy? Partly, it is due to response rates, says Leonhardt. Americans have grown more unwilling to respond to surveys:

  • As landlines have become increasingly rare and caller ID has become more popular, fewer people are picking up the phone to respond.
  • Trust in institutions has dropped over the last few decades, writes Leonhardt. Americans are skeptical of survey questions and increasingly concerned about their privacy.
  • In 1997, the average telephone poll had a 36 percent response rate -- a number that had dropped to 9 percent in 2012. The Department of Labor has higher response rates for its monthly jobs survey (89 percent), though it has also fallen, down from 96 percent in the 1980s.

How does the government calculate unemployment rates?

  • It surveys groups of people for four months, takes an eight-month break, then surveys them again for another four months.
  • According to the study, people being interviewed in the later months of the survey are less likely to say that they have been looking for a job. That response would not count the person as "unemployed," because unemployment requires an active job search.
  • Yet, responses from older respondents are weighted more heavily than are those from new respondents, meaning that these respondents -- who are unemployed but report that they are not looking for a job -- are not counted as unemployed. Instead, they are considered outside of the labor force.

This brings the reported unemployment rate down. For example, the unemployment rate for the first half of 2014 was officially recorded as 6.5 percent. Among those being interviewed for the survey, those interviewed in the first month recorded a 7.5 percent unemployment rate, compared to a 6.1 percent unemployment rate among those in the last month of being interviewed.

Source: David Leonhardt, "A New Reason to Question the Official Unemployment Rate," New York Times, August 26, 2014. 

For more on Economic Issues:

Obama Pushes International Climate Agreement
28 Aug 2014 07:00:56 CDT -

Reports have emerged that the Obama administration plans to push for an "international climate change agreement" that, unlike a formal treaty, would be entered into without Senate approval.

According to the Washington Times, the goal is to reach a deal by next year. Broadly, the agreement would call for signatories to commit to carbon dioxide emission reduction goals, as well as to send money to poor nations to deal with global warming.

The agreement would be enforced, however, only with pressure and shaming from the other participants, as the group would issue progress reports detailing which parties had not met their goals. The New York Times reported that "President Obama's climate negotiators are devising what they call a 'politically binding' deal that would 'name and shame' countries into cutting their emissions," in order to bypass the requirement that treaties must be ratified.

According to the Washington Times, the negotiators plan to use the United Nations Framework on Climate Change -- a pact passed in 1992 and ratified by the United States -- and add new, "voluntary pledges" to it.

Source: Victor Morton, "Obama seeks to bypass Congress for U.N. climate change deal: report," Washington Times, August 26, 2014. 

For more on Environment Issues:

Desalinizing Water in Texas
28 Aug 2014 07:00:55 CDT -

A plan to desalinize brackish water could provide an answer to Texas' water problems, according to William McKenzie, editorial director at the George W. Bush Institute.

Texas' population continues to grow, but the state has suffered recurring droughts. Desalination poses a potential answer to a water resource problem, though it can be expensive. Desalination takes brackish water and seawater and cleans it, removing the salt and turning it into water that can be used for irrigation and for drinking water. Desalination is not an entirely new idea in Texas:

  • In the Western part of Texas, the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Desalination Plant supplies El Paso and Fort Bliss with fresh water.
  • Craig Pederson, formerly of the Texas Water Development Board, is working to create a private sector solution to the problem, desalinizing brackish water and selling the minerals that are extracted on the commodities market.

According to McKenzie, desalination could be especially significant in Texas because of its relationship with fracking, as fracking produces wastewater. If that water can be recycled, it can be reused and can keep water supplies steady.

NCPA Senior Research Fellow Lloyd Bentsen recently wrote about this topic on the NCPA's Energy and Environment Blog.

Source: William McKenzie, "Hope on the water front," Dallas Morning News, August 25, 2014. 

For more on Environment Issues:

Lawmakers Focus on Student Loans
28 Aug 2014 07:00:54 CDT -

David Wilezol at Minding the Campus writes that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are targeting student loans for reform.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has offered a number of proposals to deal with rising student loan debt:

  • The Know Before you Go Act would require the disclosure of colleges' graduation rates as well as the amount of graduates' student loan debt and various employment data.
  • His Investing in Student Success Act calls for income-share agreements (ISAs). ISAs allow private investors to provide students with tuition funds in exchange for an agreement that the student provides the investor with a portion of his future earnings post-college.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is also focused on student loans:

  • Her Bank on Student Loans Fairness Act would give student borrowers access to very low government interest rates -- the same rates that the government gives to large banks.
  • Warren has proposed to allow student loan borrowers to refinance at lower interest rates. She would fund her proposal with taxes on Americans making $1 million annually.
  • She has also supported a bill that would allow students that were "medically distressed" to discharge their loans.

Wilezol writes that the two approaches are reflective of each supporter's political leanings. Rubio, he says, is seeking market-driven reforms that can tackle the student loan problem with little government involvement, while Wilezol characterizes Warren's reforms as "top-down government interventions to alleviate student debt." But both, he says, could garner political support from young people in the upcoming 2016 election.

Source: David Wilezol, "Student Loan Reform Is Now a Major Political Issue," Minding the Campus, August 26, 2014.

For more on Education Issues:

Calming Fears of Climate Change in Asia
27 Aug 2014 07:00:53 CDT -

Many climate studies have focused on South and Southeast Asia, as the region is considered uniquely vulnerable to the projected effects of climate change such as a reduction in crop yields, rising sea levels, flooding, a loss of biodiversity and drought. Many of these Asian countries are islands or are on peninsulas, with highly populated coastal cities; if climate change predictions come true, these countries would be highly vulnerable.

In a paper for the National Center for Policy Analysis, Research Associate Tanner Davis explains that the five cities deemed at the most "extreme risk" for climate change by global risk analysis company Maplecroft are Dhaka, Mumbai, Kolkata, Manila and Bangkok -- all of which are in South or Southeast Asia. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming poses a special risk to these two regions.

But while climate change alarmists have suggested that higher temperatures will increase food insecurity in Asia, food production has been increasing for the last half-century:

  • Since the 1990s, food production in Southeast Asia has increased substantially.
  • South Asia has kept a stable supply of arable land, and the amount of arable land in Southeast Asia has increased.
  • In fact, according to agronomist Craig Idso, increased levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has increased, not decreased, plant production.

Similarly, while many have raised concerns about sea level rise, there is no consensus on the amount of rise. According to the World Bank, were the sea level to rise by one meter, just 1 to 2 percent of land area, population and farmland in developing countries would be affected, and GDP would fall by 0.5 percent to 2 percent.

Davis distinguishes what he calls "mitigation" from "adaptation." Mitigation, he says, seeks to combat climate change by embarking upon new projects or instituting measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to curb climate change. Adaptation, on the other hand, consists of strategies to deal with the effects of global warming, such as rehabilitating coral, engaging in water resource management and protecting wildlife.

As climate science is so uncertain and unsettled, writes Davis, adaptation is the more cost-effective approach to climate change.

Source: Tanner Davis, "Calming Fears of Climate Change in South and Southeast Asia," National Center for Policy Analysis, August 27, 2014. 

For more on Environment Issues:

Health Policy Digest

Provided courtesy of: NCPA

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...


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...


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...


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