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

How to Increase the Value of a Dollar? Move.
24 Oct 2014 07:00:58 CDT -

The state of Kansas may soon be flooded with surgeons, if doctors take a look at a new tool from Rasmussen College. The school's salary-comparison model uses Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis data to adjust salaries based on a state's cost of living. According to the tool, surgeons in Kansas make more than surgeons in any other state based on the adjustment: $277,820 annually.

The tool can look at individual occupations and compare the value of salaries across states. In general, however, it determined that workers in Washington, D.C. earn more than workers elsewhere both before and after adjusting for cost of living. That is not the case in all instances, however. Postal workers in the nation's capital have the highest average salary pre-adjustment, at $56,500. But after considering cost of living, that drops nearly $10,000, to $47,800. Washington mail carriers may want to move to Ohio, where postal carriers earn more than $63,000 annually after adjusting for living costs.

According to the tool, teachers are best off in Rhode Island, while CEOs earn the most pay in North Carolina, at an adjusted salary of $224,858. While CEOs in Connecticut have the highest average pay in the country, their paycheck falls to $193,647 after adjusting for cost of living. Similarly, financial analysts in New York lose $13,000 after taking cost of living into account, with average salaries falling from $97,490 to $84,480.

NCPA Senior Fellow Pam Villarreal discussed this issue recently in a study on teacher pay in major metropolitan areas. She explained that while teachers in Los Angeles have the second-highest salary in the country, at $74,280, that salary drops to $56,963 after taking cost of living into account.

Similar to the cost of living tool, the NCPA has developed a state tax calculator. The calculator allows anyone to plug in their income information and see how much money they would gain (or lose) from moving to another state. 

Source: Eric Morath, "With Your Job, Where Should You Live? If You're a Surgeon, Kansas," Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2014; Rani Molla and Lindsay Gellman, "The States Where Your Paycheck Goes Farthest," Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2014. 

For more on Economic Issues:

71 Percent of Obamacare Insurance Enrollment Gains Due to Medicaid
24 Oct 2014 07:00:57 CDT -

New enrollment data for the second quarter of 2014 reveals how Obamacare enrollment shook out among Medicaid and private coverage. In all, the number of insured Americans increased by 8.5 million individuals. However, according to a new study from Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowki of the Heritage Foundation, 71 percent of that gain was due to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

While Obamacare enrollment officially ran from October 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, enrollment was extended into April for a number of states. As a result, new data has just become available for the end of the enrollment period, and the results indicate that many insurance gains were offset by losses in other areas, and much of the increase in insurance coverage was due to Medicaid. According to Haislmaier and Gonshorowski:

  • Individual market enrollment -- meaning enrollment in health insurance plans both on and off of the exchanges -- rose by more than 6.2 million.
  • Employer-sponsored private plan enrollment, however, fell by almost 3.8 million, offsetting 61 percent of the increase in health insurance coverage in the individual market.
  • Enrollment in Medicaid grew by more than 5.7 million in the states that expanded Medicaid. In the states that did not, enrollment in the government health care program grew by more than 355,000 individuals.

Thus, while health insurance coverage -- whether in the private market or in Medicaid -- grew by 8.5 million individuals in 2014, the vast majority (71 percent) of that gain was due to increases in Medicaid. According to the authors, "[T]he inescapable conclusion is that, at least when it comes to covering the uninsured, Obamacare so far is mainly a simple expansion of Medicaid."

Source: Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski, "Obamacare's Enrollment Increase: Mainly Due to Medicaid Expansion," Heritage Foundation, October 22, 2014; Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski, "The Real Story on How Much Obamacare Increased Coverage," Daily Signal, October 22, 2014. 

For more on Health Issues:

Democracies Less Likely to Go to War
24 Oct 2014 07:00:56 CDT -

War has undoubtedly been a fixture throughout human history, and the battles raging in the Middle East today are just one example. But is war necessarily a permanent part of human civilization? In Scientific American, science writer Michael Shermer suggests that democracies are less likely to go to war.

In 1795, philosopher Immanuel Kant first suggested that those in democratic republics were less likely to support wars, and -- despite the War of 1812, the American Civil War, the Israel-Lebanon war and others -- since then, scholars have continued to support the theory. In 2001, political scientists Bruce Russett and John Oneal analyzed 2,300 interstate disputes taking place from 1816 to 2001. For each country involved in a conflict, Russett and Oneal gave them a "democracy score" based on the nation's political process, system of checks and balances, electoral process, and the like. According to their research:

  • Disputes would decrease by 50 percent between two countries with high democracy scores.
  • The chance of dispute doubled when one of the countries had a low democracy score or was an autocracy.
  • Countries more dependent on trade in one year were less likely to have a militarized dispute in the year following.
  • The researchers also looked at membership in intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). For any two countries scoring in the top 10 percent in terms of democracy, trade and IGOs, they were 81 percent less likely to have a militarized dispute than a pair of average countries would be.

More recent studies have followed, says Shermer. In 2014, Havard Hegre, political scientist at Uppsala University, made similar findings, concluding that two democratic states were less likely to have conflicts.

Shermer writes that 63 percent of the world's 195 countries are democracies.

Source: Michael Shermer, "Perpetual Peace?" Scientific American, November 2014.  

For more on Government Issues:

Copyright Protection for Course Syllabi?
24 Oct 2014 07:00:55 CDT -

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to establish patents and copyrights in order to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts." As such, our law gives inventors and writers an exclusive right, for a certain period of time, to their creations.

But how far can the concept of copyright go? Writing for the Pope Center, George Leef reports that a controversy over the concept has been brewing at the University of Missouri. The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) sought to produce a study to evaluate education school programs at colleges and universities across the country. As such, the NCTQ sought syllabi from colleges, most of whom complied. The University of Missouri, however, was an exception.

Leef explains that Missouri refused the NCTQ's request, prompting the teacher quality group to file a formal request for the syllabi under the state of Missouri's "Sunshine Law," which is aimed at providing the public with information on state government activities. As the University of Missouri is a state school, it fell within the umbrella of the law. However, a state appellate court ruled in favor of the university, insisting that federal law -- specifically, copyright law -- trumped the state's sunshine law.

But are course syllabi really protected by copyright? According to copyright law export Tom Bell, no. He also notes that copyright law carries an exception known as "fair use," which allows the reasonable use of copyrighted work, including for educational, nonprofit purposes.


Moreover, University of Missouri professor Michael Podgursky contends that professors routinely use course syllabi from other professors who teach the same classes. Podgursky also says that providing copyright protection would limit the taxpaying public's access to what might be important information, such as "[i]f I'm using a Jane Austin novel instead of an economics textbook in my principles of economics course."

NCTQ attorney Erich Veith says a copyright decision in the school's favor would limit the public's ability to access government records and give government agencies an incentive to look for potentially copyrighted material within their records.

Leef writes that the copyright claim is merely the school "trying to avoid possible criticism of its education school by hiding behind a legally risible defense." While those in favor of the copyright defense suggest that the course materials might otherwise be used for "sensationalistic critiques," Leef dismisses their concern: "Professors should not be allowed to use copyright to avoid intellectual confrontations over their courses."

Source: George Leef, "Are college course syllabi really protected by copyright?" Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, October 22, 2014.

For more on Government Issues:

Title IX: From Athletics to Assault
24 Oct 2014 07:00:54 CDT -

How did a federal law aimed at improving opportunities for college women to participate in athletics become a vehicle for extensive federal involvement in schools' sexual assault programs?

David Wilezol, co-author of "Is College Worth It?" with former Education Secretary William Bennett, explains how Title IX has become unrecognizable. In 1972, Congress passed the Education Amendments, which included a section that forbade federally-funded colleges from excluding women from activities on the basis of sex: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

That section -- known as Title IX -- was meant to improve athletic opportunities for women. But in 1977, Yale law student Catherine McKinnon insisted that sexual harassment was a limit on educational opportunity. She and a group of friends filed a lawsuit on that basis against Yale. The suit was dismissed on standing grounds, but Yale began to create grievance processes for harassment cases, as did other schools.

Wilezol explains that there was no federal mandate that sexual assault cases be considered Title IX violations -- the Supreme Court had never addressed the issue. Terry Pell, who served in the Reagan Department of Education's Civil Rights division, said that his department considered sexual harassment and assault the fault of the student perpetrators, not the fault of the schools. However, a rape and murder at Lehigh University in 1986 prompted new legislation in 1990, from which point the federal government grew more and more involved in sexual assault on campus. Wilezol explains:

  • In 1990, Congress passed the Clery Act and required that schools report on-campus crimes to the federal government. The Department of Education is in charge of compliance, and schools are charged for failing to report incidents.
  • In 1992, Congress required that any schools receiving federal funding develop sexual assault policies and grievance procedures. The Department of Education also monitored compliance with the law, and grants were given to schools for providing sexual assault training.
  • In 1997, the Department of Education -- and the Bush Administration in 2001 -- said that schools should deal with sexual assault under Title IX.

Recently, the role of the federal government in sexual assault on campus has become even larger. Wilezol writes that in 2011, the Obama administration required sexual assault claims to be handled through Title IX. It also discouraged schools from allowing accused parties to cross examine their accusers, encouraging schools to apply a "preponderance of the evidence" standard when determining an accused's guilt, rather than using a "beyond the reasonable doubt standard."

Wilezol warns that schools are going to find themselves under even greater scrutiny in coming years, thanks to the new guidelines from the Education Department. He encourages schools to challenge the new procedures but fears that such challenges are unlikely.

Source: David Wilezol, "How the Education Department Warped Title IX," Minding the Campus, October 22, 2014. 

For more on Education Issues:

Your Tax Dollars Paid for Swedish Massages for Rabbits
23 Oct 2014 07:00:53 CDT -

Unbelievably, the federal government spent $387,000 to give Swedish massages to rabbits, $856,000 to teach mountain lions to use treadmills and $307,524 to study whether sea monkeys can be trained to swim. And those are just three projects of $25 billion in wasteful Washington spending identified by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) in his annual Wastebook report.

According to Coburn, Congress passed fewer laws during the last two years than any other Congress in at least the last 50 years -- but that did not stop lawmakers from spending. His report on government waste is filled with head-scratching spending anecdotes of dollars that never should have been spent:

  • The National Institutes of Health has complained that a lack of funding has prevented the development of an Ebola vaccine, yet the agency is the same one that funded the study for Swedish massages for rabbits.
  • NASA is currently paying Russia to transport passengers to the International Space Station (ISS), at a cost of $70 million per passenger, because it has retired the space shuttle. At the ISS -- where research costs American taxpayers $1.5 million per hour -- scientists are conducting studies on how to design a better golf club.
  • Budget cuts have led the Coast Guard to reduce drug and migrant interdictions, yet it has continued its "party patrols" - keeping the general public away from private events on yachts and beaches. The cost? At least $100,000 in New York alone.
  • $371,026 was spent to study whether mothers love their dogs as much as they love their own children.

It is the classic example, writes Coburn, of the incentives associated with spending someone else's money -- efficiency, discretion and prudence disappear.

Coburn's research into government waste did frighten some agencies into limiting their purchases; when his office called the State Department to ask about a life-size, inflatable foosball game that the department had ordered in September, it cancelled the purchase.


Source: "Wastebook 2014: What Washington doesn't want you to read," Office of Senator Tom Coburn, October 22, 2014.

For more on Tax and Spending 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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NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis Web Site

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