The Trump administration has often trumpeted its effectiveness in reducing the number of regulations that U.S. government agencies impose on regular Americans and businesses. But since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of new regulatory restrictions issued by federal agencies and departments has exploded, reversing much of the progress the Trump administration had made.
While Americans were celebrating their freedoms during the July 4th weekend, the people of Hong Kong were losing theirs, with passage of China’s Hong Kong National Security Law. Independent Institute President and CEO David J. Theroux and Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan joined 68 other leading advocates for freedom from around the world in signing this open letter on the state of affairs in Hong Kong and in support of the people fighting for their freedoms. The Independent Institute is an associate member of the Economic Freedom of the World Network, and an Economic Freedom of North America Network partner organization.
The coronavirus has spawned crises on three fronts—medical, financial, and economic—and the tide in each turns at different times. The stock market has rebounded from its March 23 bottom, two weeks after Treasury bond yields began to rise from their all-time low. COVID-19 death rates passed their peak in the United States and most other countries by the beginning of May. Now the economic fallout has begun.
Last week, Amber Northern, a senior vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, penned a rebuttal to the Independent Institute’s evaluation of Florida’s new Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) standards. As the author of the foreword to that evaluation, I decided to respond to some general statements of Northern’s rebuttal here. I will not address, in any depth, her criticism of the English language arts (ELA) and mathematics reviews themselves—that is left to the authors of those, if they so choose.
As we noted, the current pandemic has failed to lock down spending on California’s vaunted high-speed rail project. The pandemic has also failed to halt the massive underground tunnel that would pump water from the San Joaquin Delta to central and southern California. The so-called “Waterfix” was a pet project of Gov. Jerry Brown, and Gov. Gavin Newsom remains on board.
One hundred and fifty well-known intellectuals from the English-speaking world, a majority of them from the left, have published an open letter in Harper’s Magazine railing against intolerance, censorship, obscurantism. They have aimed their guns not only against the enemy on the right, but also against their counterparts on the left. And they have touched a nerve in American academic and cultural circles, where a dictatorship seems to prevail against those who disagree with what is deemed politically correct.
Federal government briefings on the current pandemic have failed to feature anyone openly identified with the Epidemic Intelligence Service, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Embattled Americans might find that odd, since the EIS is tasked to protect the country from health threats.
Angry that the CEO of Goya Foods praised Donald Trump as “an incredible builder,” the Left has organized a boycott of the company. Goya, of course, brands itself as providing “authentic Latino foods.” According to its website, “Goya Foods is the largest, Hispanic-owned food company in the United States.”
CEO Robert Unanue was at the White House to participate in President Trump’s Hispanic Prosperity Initiative. The initiative was created by executive order and seeks to improve access to education and economic opportunities in the Hispanic community.
Of all the actions the U.S. government has taken during the coronavirus pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been one of the most effective in achieving its desired results.
The PPP provided $510 billion in emergency loans to small businesses to let them continue paying the incomes of their employees as they were shuttered by their state or local government’s coronavirus-related lockdown orders. As emergency spending programs go, it appears to have succeeded in keeping millions of Americans from becoming unemployed.
More than 80 wealthy individuals are petitioning for higher taxes on the rich to help pay for the billions in new government programs made necessary by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is petition is disingenuous at best.
If the wealthy want to pay more to help fight COVID-19, they can choose to do so themselves. They don’t need government to force them.
Many wealthy individuals already have pledged to devote more than half their wealth to charitable activities, without government force. What this petition actually asks is that government tax other people, who don’t share the values of the petitioners.