Archive for September, 2014
Arming Syrian Rebels—Afghanistan Deja Vu?

Concerns over the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, have continued to grow. Last night, President Obama addressed the nation on the “ISIS threat.” He announced his intentions to provide further assistance to opposition groups. More specifically, he is asking Congress for $500 million to arm and train “moderate Syrian rebels.” The idea...
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Are Students Afraid To Be Free?

Class is back in session for most colleges and universities across the country. Last year, I had the privilege of teaching college economics courses for the first time. We discussed many issues, from the economics of War on Drugs and the War on Terror, to the minimum wage, to why airlines offer discounts to...
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Long-Term Unemployment Benefits Expire; Long-Term Unemployment Falls

The unemployment rate has fallen from 6.7% at the end of 2013 to 6.1% in August 2014. That decline is primarily the result of the expiration of long-term unemployment benefits. Unemployment compensation usually expires at the end of 26 weeks of unemployment, but during the last recession Congress extended that period, and many states...
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New Study Links Patent Trolls to Decline in R&D Spending and Other Ills

A new paper (“Patent Trolls: Evidence from Targeted Firms”) written by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Texas offers more evidence of the harm that patent trolls cause to the American economy. The data show that (1) trolls target companies flush with cash, (2) seek targets likely to settle rather than litigate, and (3)...
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Misplaced Outrage over the NCAA’s Decision to Reduce Sanctions on Penn State

In a USA Today column published on September 8, Nina Mandell is livid about the lessening of sanctions imposed on Penn State two years ago in connection with charges of child sexual abuse against assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Those sanctions, which included a $60 million fine, a reduction in football scholarships, and a...
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After $26 Billion Paid Out, Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records Only 4 Percent of Target

At a September 3 meeting of the Obama administration’s Health IT Policy Committee, officials disclosed that only 3,154 eligible professionals (doctors, dentists, et cetera) had “attested” to so-called “meaningful use stage 2” to get their bounties from the federal government for installing electronic health records. Only 143 hospitals had attested. One healthcare leader, who was at the meeting,...
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“Hunger” Games

As with their measurement of “poverty,” federal officials not surprisingly similarly play creatively with their definition of “hunger”—that is, “food insecurity.” As James Bovard explains in The Wall Street Journal, in releasing figures showing nearly 15% of the U.S. population as “food insecure,” the USDA has in fact polled Americans on their feeling that...
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Obama: The Unbearable Lightness of Being on Immigration

President Obama’s decision to postpone executive action on immigration is probably the nail in the coffin for comprehensive reform under the current government—regardless of whether the president has the constitutional authority to bypass Congress or not, which is not the topic of this post. Whatever reform comes after the midterm elections, if any, will...
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Costs of Government Administration of Health Care to Almost Double in Ten Years

This week’s report by staff of the Office of the Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concluded that the last few years of muted increases in health spending will soon be ending. Health spending will resume its upward march: The combined effects of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions, faster economic...
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Politics and Inequality

The Federal Reserve has just released a survey indicating that income and wealth inequality has been growing in the United States since 2007. Meanwhile, President Obama has called for government action to reduce inequality. So, it is worth a remark that the growth in inequality reported by the Fed pretty much coincides with the...
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