NPR's Robert Siegel talks to Donald Martin, superintendent of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District in North Carolina, which has been using value-added analysis in evaluating its teachers for the past three years. Martin says the method is only one part of teacher evaluations, and that data collected is for internal use only.
Toward the end of the interview, Dr. Martin says that he is glad that State Board of Education policy keeps value-added assessment of teacher performance under wraps. I am not so happy about a policy that keeps vital information away from parents and the public.
The New York Times and other media outlets around the world devoted attention to a recent report from the anti-nuclear power advocacy group NC WARN that contended solar power is cheaper than nuclear power.
Daren Bakst and an Italian colleague from the Istituto Bruno Leoni say the real evidence leads to the exact opposite conclusion: Nuclear power is much cheaper than solar. Daren discusses details of his new report here and in the video clip below:
The American Politics Research journal recently published a fascinating article, "What Made Carolina Blue? In-Migration and the 2008 North Carolina Presidential Vote" by professors M.V. Hood III (UGA)* and Seth C. McKee (USF).
Hood and McKee concluded,
There is no question that the rise in participation exhibited a strong Democratic bias that enabled Obama to squeak out a victory in a state that the GOP owned for more than 30 years. As we have shown in this study, the changing face of the Tar Heel electorate directly contributed to North Carolina going blue in the 2008 presidential election. Nonetheless, we would not be surprised if the state returns to the Republican column in 2012. Our claim is not that North Carolina is now a Democratic state in presidential politics, but rather because of population change through a continuing and substantial influx of migrants born outside the South, these voters are pushing the state in a competitive direction—essentially making it a swing state, or to stick with the color-coded language, we contend that North Carolina has become a purple state in presidential elections.
The researchers used two data sources: North Carolina's voter registration database and a pre-election poll conducted by Public Policy Polling. Both supported the in-migration thesis.
* To my knowledge, Dr. M.V. Hood III is not directly related to John Hood.
If you want to expand the number of poor people on Medicaid even though it is worse than private insurance, claim that it will provide universal coverage even though it won't, and claim that anyone opposed to your idea is just mean, you might need an introduction to the concept of economic efficiency. As Steven Landsburg writes, economic efficiency is a great way to cut through bluster and have reasonable policy discussions. He suggests a health care discussion might go like this
Politician: Here’s my program to make the health care system work better by subsidizing health care for the poor.
Economist: Your program costs a billion dollars and delivers half a billion dollars worth of benefits. That’s inefficient.
Politician: So what?
Economist: Well, the “so what” is that maybe you could take that billion dollars and deliver a full billion dollars worth of benefits instead if you spent it a little differently. Why not just hand the cash out to poor people?
Politician: Because I don’t want to help all poor people. I only want to help sick poor people — and this is the only way I can think of to do that.
Economist: Ah. So your goal here is not to make the health care system work better after all. Instead it’s to transfer resources to sick poor people.
Politician: I guess so.
Economist: That’s fine. Now we can have a healthy debate about whether that’s what we want to do.
The Medicaid links above are to Sen. Ben Nelson's critique of a study on Obamacare's costs for Nebraska:
"For example, the Milliman study anticipates 100 percent participation in the expanded Medicaid program under health reform. Medicaid is voluntary and voluntary programs never see 100 percent participation.
“Also, the governor’s new study assumes that about 60,000 people who have private insurance now will switch to Medicaid. Will that happen when private insurance generally is better than Medicaid, which also comes with a stigma for some?
From the N.C. Child Care Coalition Update #8 (August 2010) by Roz Savitt, Public Policy Consultant and Lobbyist, NC Child Care Coalition:
Do Elections Matter? You Bet They Do! Here is an Example
Have you ever heard of the North Carolina based John Locke Foundation? It is a leading conservative think tank that espouses the mantra of less government no matter what! They closely follow state politics and state legislation. Many, many public officials read their proposals and agree with them. So, this Fall if you get a chance to ask any candidates running for the NC General Assembly a question, why not ask them if they agree or not with the John Locke Foundation Agenda 2010? Under their ideas in the category of “Child Care and Early Childhood Education,” (Agenda 2010) they recommend:
1. Eliminate Smart Start and other subsidy programs for childcare and preschool expenses in favor of a refundable Smart Start tax credit for preschool children. For a smaller subset of desperately poor preschoolers who lack functioning parents, a carefully designed state intervention may be justified.
2. Limit regulation of daycare operations to health and safety requirements only. Parents should make their own decisions about the trade-off between price and child/staff ratios or qualifications.
3. Have a qualified, independent research firm redesign and conduct yearly evaluations of Smart Start and More at Four. Longitudinal studies should be conducted to determine if state pre-kindergarten programs produce lasting social and educational benefits as children progress through school.
Michael Baroneexplores for the Washington Examiner the popular reaction to the Obama administration's ambitious agenda:
Some of the most important things in history are things that didn't happen -- even though just about everyone thought they would.
Recent example: Scads of liberals gleefully predicted that the financial crisis and deep recession would destroy Americans' faith in markets and increase their confidence in Big Government. Many conservatives gloomily feared they were right.
Hasn't happened. If anything, public opinion has moved in the other direction, with most Americans rejecting the stimulus package and the health care bill, denying that government action is needed to address global warming, and expressing negative feelings about labor unions.
How to explain this? One way is to see the public's reaction as opposition to governance by an alliance of Big Units -- Big Government, Big Business and Big Labor.
Remember that Barone will help the John Locke Foundation assess the politcal landscape during an election preview panel discussion Sept. 29 in Raleigh.
That's the message in this hard-hitting article by Dr. Hal Scherz. Voters should not fall for incumbent pols who promise to vote for bills to "fix" ObamaCare next year.
Dr. Scherz also wallops the deceptive ads featuring aging busybody Andy Griffith.
Here is Dr. Scherz's closing paragraph: "America's doctors have millions of personal interactions each week with patients. We have political power. And we intend to use it by working to defeat those who have disrupted and gravely endangered the best health-care system in the world."
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's latest Human Eventscolumn focuses on the national jobs picture as Labor Day approaches:
This year’s holiday is a particularly opportune time to reflect upon that message. America’s unemployment rate stands at a stubborn 9.5%. If you include those who are underemployed (working part-time but seeking full-time work) that number is closer to 18.4%.
Last week, the Labor Department revised second quarter economic growth down from 2.4% to 1.6%.
Sales of existing homes are at the lowest level since 1995.
The small business confidence survey is at the lowest level since the survey began in 2003. Overall, it has been 31 months since the recession started and the economy is still losing jobs.
This Labor Day, ask yourself: If America’s strength is indeed a product of the strength of the American worker, what does it tell us about America’s prospects when so many Americans are not working?
In other words, can America work if Americans aren’t working?
In this weeks Pope Center Clarion Call Professor Bruce Caldwell of Duke University discusses what he sees as a hole in the graduate economics curriculum and one that's developing for undergraduates -- courses in the history of economic thought.
If you think it deplorable that English students can get their degrees without reading Shakespeare, is it not equally deplorable that economics students can get theirs without reading Adam Smith, David Ricardo, F.A. Hayek and, yes, Karl Marx?
Why? Boehner could have a shot at a more high-profile job after the November election.
Though Boehner doesn’t generate much enthusiasm among limited-government activists, Fineman’s article does offer some cause for optimism:
Ironically, Boehner was a Tea Partier well before the Tea Party. Once in Washington, he joined Newt Gingrich’s anti-establishment mujahedin, terrorizing insiders by attacking the House bank and other cushy congressional perks. Since then Boehner has compiled one of the most conservative voting records in the House. In many ways, he’s the sum of all that he’s not: He vowed to vote against earmarks and has kept his word. He’s for cutting spending (except at the Pentagon). Like most self-made businessmen, he has a conveniently constricted view of government. He hates taxes—he wants to make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich—and regulation, and downplays how government can improve people’s lives and help enterprise thrive.
Even that last little dig from Fineman could serve as a nice badge of honor for Boehner, who will likely hear nothing but criticism from Newsweek if he ever holds the House speaker’s gavel.
In an article scolding the president — mildly — for rejecting an even larger stimulus package than the ones he’s presented to date, Newsweek offers this assessment:
Obama’s cautious, late embrace of Volcker was all too typical. He had arrived in office perceived by some as the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Yet Obama hadn’t acted much like FDR in the ensuing months. Instead he had faithfully channeled Summers and Geithner and their conservative approach to stimulus and reform. Early on, Obama’s two key economic officials had argued down Christina Romer, the new chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, when she suggested a massive $1.2 trillion stimulus to make up for the collapse of private demand. They opted for slightly less than $800 billion. [Emphasis added.]
The latest Newsweek includes Keith Libbey and Evan Thomas’ arguments in favor of a tax system overhaul featuring the institution of a new value-added tax.
What’s wrong with that idea? Roy Cordato is glad you asked. He outlined problems with the VAT in an article published in the latest issue of The Freeman.
“The VAT is a pernicious and insidious tax that promises to fuel dramatic growth in government,” Roy explains. Later, he tells us how he really feels:
From the perspective of the State, this is a near-perfect tax. It touches every stage in every production process, from new homes to hair cuts, and allows the government, because of the required invoices at every point, to keep track of every business’s buying and selling. For a State bent on managing the details of business, possibly to implement CO2 controls or to make sure that politically favored firms (say, unionized ones) are patronized, the information can establish a useful database.
But beyond this, the VAT would be a revenue-generating machine, unmatched by any other form of taxation. First, it guarantees that a percentage of the total value of all goods and services sold in the economy goes to the State. Nothing escapes the tax. Also, because it is levied on such a broad base, very small increases in the rate would bring in large amounts of revenue. While this is also theoretically true of a retail sales tax, the multilayered enforcement mechanism of a VAT makes it almost impossible to avoid.