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China’s high-speed rail project has just changed from being a model of innovation to a cautionary tale on the limits of central-planning. The new trains have been touted as clean, fast and quiet by China’s Ministry of Railways, but, as Charles Lane and others have recently reported, Chinese consumers are opting out of paying a more expensive ticket and instead choosing to ride dirtier, slower, louder buses to work. Already, the Ministry of Railways has amassed of debt of nearly $300 billion.
Even worse, the project has demonstrated the potential for corruption in centrally planned bureaucracies: The project’s chief administrator, Liu Zhijun, was recently fired for possibly embezzling tens of millions of dollars.
Embezzlement may not be unique to this project. There are plenty of opportunities, in any country, for government officials to use public funds for private benefit. But this episode demonstrates why the government needs to be limited in its desire to undertake cavalier initiatives.
America should take note as its government suggests that we should be riding high-speed rail as well. If there is potential for rail in America to be profitable, it should be created by private industry (which will manage it more efficiently); electronic rail managed by private industry is not an impossibility: Acela, the only high-speed rail in the United States, is a public line, but one of the few that is profitable.
But the government should have no business in turning projects that might otherwise be profitable into boondoggles. The high-speed rail system in China demonstrates how, too frequently, the government acts in its own self-interest—while only putting taxpayers’ money on the table.
China’s high-speed rail project has just changed from being a model of innovation to a cautionary tale on the limits of central-planning.
Despite fierce opposition from the PSEA and other Pennsylvania teachers unions Senate Bill 1, the “Opportunity and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act” is supported heavily among Pennsylvania likely voters. According to the statewide poll Pennsylvania residents support Senate Bill 1 by a 15 percent difference, 54%-39%. According to PR News Wire, “a new Pennsylvania poll, conducted by national polling and research firm Public Opinion Strategies (POS), by a 15% margin (54%-39%) respondent’s favored pending legislation known as Senate Bill 1.” The article went on to say that, “When asked if they will be more or less likely in next year's elections to vote for a legislator that supports school choice legislation, 57% of respondents said they would be more likely, while only 33% indicated they would be less likely, a 24 point difference.”
The residents of Pennsylvania deserve this bill. It is time students have the opportunity to choose the school that best fits their needs. Please visit www.schoolchoicepa.com for more information about how you can help get this bill passed.
Despite fierce opposition from the PSEA and other Pennsylvania teachers unions Senate Bill 1, the “Opportunity and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act” is supported heavily among Pennsylvania likely voters. According to the statewide poll Pennsylvania residents support Senate Bill 1 by a 15 percent difference, 54%-39%. According to PR News Wire, “a new Pennsylvania poll, conducted by national polling and research firm Public Opinion Strategies (POS), by a 15% margin (54%-39%) respondent’s favored pending legislation known as Senate Bill 1.” The article went on
This administration has set another landmark: For the first time, America’s bond rating has fallen from standard to negative and the country may lose its Standard & Poor’s AAA rating. This development comes at a time when the White House is busy trying to prove that it is serious about addressing the deficit but pushing an unserious proposal. For any faults that Bowles-Simpson or “The Path to Prosperity” possess, at least these plans demonstrate that Washington does have Democrats and Republicans serious about addressing the long-term entitlement crisis. Last week, President Obama revealed that he is not one of those people. Though his speech at George Washington University was praised by some on the Left, even centrists who have generally been supportive note that the proposal is largely based on wishful thinking.
The most astute analysts pointed out that his plan was merely a political stunt meant to shore up his base—his first campaign commercial of the season. No one expected the president to endorse Representative Ryan's or the Republican Study Committee’s budget plans, but at the very least he might have shown a moderate willingness to do what the state of affairs demanded; Democrats at the municipal and state level are beginning to realize that we can’t go on raising taxes forever, but apparently this realization is too much to expect at the national level.
Essentially, President Obama called for cutting defense spending and raising taxes and, maybe, in some obscurely defined way, reducing Medicare costs through one of his medical boards created by Obamacare in 2010. While conservatives should probably welcome more cuts to defense spending than they have previously, it is hard to take President Obama’s proposed cuts seriously since he is calling for them while increasing the number of military engagements in the Middle East. Given the president’s unpredictability on foreign policy, basing the budget on his ability to cut defense spending is ludicrous.
Investors are already voting with their feet on the president’s leadership. The president’s defenders will probably say that the credit-rating agency’s lack of confidence in the government applies to both parties. While Republicans have not always demonstrated fiscal discipline in the past, this is not the case now, when the Congressional Budget Committee’s tax rate proposals look more like that of the president’s own budget commission than does the president’s own proposal. Restoring America’s credit rating will require braver cuts than the president has been willing to make; the time for leadership is now, but so far the American people are getting only partisanship.
This administration has set another landmark: For the first time, America’s bond rating has fallen from standard to negative and the country may lose its Standard & Poor’s AAA rating. This development comes at a time when the White House is busy trying to prove that it is serious about addressing the deficit but pushing an unserious proposal.
Common myths about Senate Bill 1, the "Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act."
What is Senate Bill 1:
Senate Bill 1, or the “Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act” would allow students in failing schools the opportunity to seek better educational options in the school of their choice. SB1 gives parents of students trapped in failing and often times violent schools the opportunity to enroll in a better school that best fits their needs. During the first year of implementation, SB1 will give low-income students trapped in failing schools the opportunity to enroll in a better school that fits their individual needs. The voucher program is phased in over 3 years. By the 3rd year, the bill would allow all low-income children whose family’s income is at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level. Using income data from 2009, more then 547,000 or 32% of PA public school students are eligible to receive a voucher to attend the school of their choice. A recent amendment to SB1 states that by the 4th year of implementation all middle class children in households with income levels, “not exceeding 3x the Federal poverty line, or $66,150 for a family of 4” will also be eligible for the voucher. SB1 also increases the wildly successful EITC tax credit by 25 million to a total of 100 million.
Myth 1: SB1 will raise my property taxes
Truth: SB1 will NOT RAISE Property taxes. The scholarships are fully financed through current state funding. The bill does not involve any property taxes. Instead of local taxes, the scholarships are fully financed through state funding thus leaving property taxes alone. In fact SB1 will actually help the state balance its budget. School vouchers cost taxpayers a fraction of what they are currently paying. In Harrisburg, Taxpayers currently pay $17,675 per student annually. With SB1 the voucher would be for $8,498. Therefore if we do the math taxpayers are paying less then HALF the money per student so a child can receive a better education in a school of their choice. Again: SB1 will NOT Raise Your Taxes!
Myth 2: The Bill is Unconstitutional
Truth: The bill is Constitutional. The Pennsylvania Constitution reads, “no money raised for the support of public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.” Since the money to fund the vouchers is taken out of the General Fund, it was not raised to support public schools. The U.S Supreme Court has upheld similar school voucher programs across the nation since the money is not directly given to religious private schools. The scholarship is given to parents who have the choice whether to send their child to a non-religious or religious school.
Myth 3: School choice programs do not work
Truth: School choice programs do work! It has been proven many times throughout the country that any time a school choice program is put into effect the results are positive. School choice programs have been successful in Milwaukee, DC, Florida and Cleveland just to name a few. Studies also show that charter schools are generally very successful in improving education. When you inject competition in the school system all students succeed.
Myth 4: School choice programs hurt the students left behind in failing schools
Truth: Studies have shown that school choice programs actually help students who do not take advantage of the voucher program. As students leave the failing schools behind the children leave a smaller population of students behind, thus creating smaller class sizes. Also, with school choice programs the failing schools are forced to compete for students thus making them improve; this is free market economics.
Myth 5: School choice programs drain funds from public schools
Truth: Studies show that public schools actually benefit from the existence of school choice programs.
Myth 6: The Bill does not go far enough
Truth: SB1 would be the first step towards ensuring school choice for All. SB1 would expand opportunities to needy families that lack educational alternatives. This is just the first step to allowing all PA families to have the same opportunities regardless of income and zip code. In a recent amendment to SB1 in the 4th year of implementation all middle income families will be eligible for the voucher. Without SB1 no one will have choice. SB1 is by far the biggest school choice bill/program being pushed in the entire country. If it does not pass the school choice movement will be considerably damaged. We must walk before we can run.
Common myths about Senate Bill 1, the "Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act."
Last night, I had the privilege of watching the documentary, “The Cartel” which chronicles the failures of New Jersey public education system. The film takes a hard look at just how bad the system is doing. In one scene of the film we are told that New Jersey spends more money then any other state in the union but produces some of our countries worst results. Following this scene the viewer is introduced to wide range of issues facing the New Jersey school system. After seeing these horrible statistics you are introduced to a Representative from the NJEA Teachers Union. A troll like figure she denies all of the claims that New Jersey schools are failing. In one interview she is asked about the New Jersey tenure system and how it only fires 0.03% of all tenured teachers. Her response… "I think 99.97% should be celebrated." Her defiance in the face of these tough questions shows the real face of the teachers union. Instead of admitting that our schools are failing they suggest it is the reformers who are destroying the education system. In honor of this great movie I have created a fun but serious chart of the differences between us (reality) and the teachers union. Ask yourself this…Where do you side?
Reality: Our schools are failing
Teachers Union: Our Schools are fine, we just need more money
Reality: Vouchers work
Teachers Union: Vouchers have never worked (lie), they take desperately needed funds from us
Reality: We care about the children
Teachers Union: According to the Reason Foundation, the California Teachers Association has spent more than $200 million on ballot initiatives, candidates for state and local office, and lobbying.
Reality: Some teachers need to be fired
Teachers Union: See above NJEA Teachers Union rep…Need I remind you, “99.97%”
The Teachers Union is hurting our children. What are you doing to fight them?
Last night, I had the privilege of watching the documentary, “The Cartel” which chronicles the failures of New Jersey public education system. The film takes a hard look at just how bad the system is doing. In one scene of the film we are told that New Jersey spends more money then any other state in the union but produces some of our countries worst results. Following this scene the viewer is introduced to wide range of issues facing the New Jersey school system. After seeing these horrible statistics you are introduced to a Representative from the NJEA Teachers Uni
Will Peru Maintain its March Towards Democracy and Free Market Reform? Doubtful.
Just a few days ago, the South American nation of Peru had its presidential election. There were a number of really great, moderate capitalists in the running. Pedro Kuczynski, an economist who has graduated from Oxford and Princeton, former president Alejandro Toledo who holds a Ph.D. from Stanford, and Luis Castaneda Lossio, the former mayor of Lima. However because of the large gap between the wealthy and the poor in Peru, two extreme candidates emerged, and were victorious in what amounts to a close tie, which will be decided in a run-off election in June.
Ollanta Humala, a leftist radical disguised in a suit is a former army officer and coup plotter; he came in slightly ahead of the second runner up. Ollanta Humala, rose from the dead due to a huge injection of petrodollars sent to his campaign by his mentor, the tyrant of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez; Due to this injection of communist cash, Humala now enjoys a comfortable lead in the polls. Humala has little governing experience and possesses no political philosophy to speak of. His father is a bona fide communist has worked to free all imprisoned communist/guerilla terrorists, and his mother believes that all homosexuals should be shot. His brother has been convicted of kidnapping and murder.
Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, the former president who is now in prison for the crimes committed during his regime is facing off against Humala in June. Dennis Jett from the Miami Herald states: “It would be like Tricia Nixon running for president at age 35, if her father had received the jail time he deserved, with a program that consisted of nothing more than pardoning him.” Full Miami Herald article
Jett goes on to write: “Humala will probably win in June and then start rewriting the constitution to permit his immediate reelection. That will require a majority in Congress, which he can obtain by letting Fujimori out of jail and thereby gaining the support of his followers.”
So why should we care who wins this contest in the United States? A blogger from RedState (Castor) correctly illustrates: “If Humala wins in Perú it would be a huge victory for Hugo Chávez as his puppet, Humala would become a sort of viceroy for him on the style of Bolivia´s Eva Morales. The anti-Americanism of Humala´s so-called Nationalist party along with Patría Roja, Sutep and other extremist Marxist groups will color his government´s every act and the narcos will take heart. While Obama fiddles with Libya ,Perú can burn. If the supporters of the other 3 candidates will rally round whichever of them opposes Humala, then the leftist will lose, if not, Chávez wins and Perú and the USA lose big.”
Will Peru Maintain its March Towards Democracy and Free Market Reform? Doubtful.
Today, the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee is voting on Senate Bill 1, the "Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act." Senate Bill 1 will allow students from failing and often violent schools the opportunity to pick the school of their choice regardless of zip code. SB1 will grant low-income children in low-achieving schools a scholarship to attend a better public or private school of their choice without raising taxes or spending more money. If this legislation passes it will force schools to compete and answer directly to the student and not special interests like the teachers union (PSEA).
I urge you to make your voices heard by contacting the list of Senators below and and asking them to vote, "YES" on Senate Bill 1, the "Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act." To sign our petition click here!
John Gordner 717-787-8928
Robert Tomlinson 717-787-5072
Patricia Vance 717-787-8524
Charles Mcllhinney Jr. 717-787-7305
Jame Earll 717-787-8927
Gene Yaw 717-787-3280
Elder Vogel 717-787-3076
Lisa Boscola 717-787-4236
Andy Dinniman 717-787-5709
Larry Farnese 717-787-5662
Shirley Kitchen 717-787-6735
John Yudichak 717-787-7105
Today, the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee is voting on Senate Bill 1, the "Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act." Senate Bill 1 will allow students from failing and often violent schools the opportunity to pick the school of their choice regardless of zip code. SB1 will grant low-income children in low-achieving schools a scholarship to attend a better public or private school of their choice without raising taxes or spending more money.
Randi Weingarten’s interview in the Wall Street Journal was disappointing but not surprising. As the leader of the American Teachers’ Federation, the second most powerful teacher’s union in America, Weingarten revealed herself to be a staunch defender of the status quo. She doesn’t argue that kids are getting a sufficient education (that is becoming increasingly difficult), but she stood firmly against anything that might reverse the trend.
Her defense of teacher seniority—or, the practice of securing teachers’ jobs based on how long they have been employed rather than how well they have performed—is a perfect example of how the union leader defends business as usual:
[Seniority is] not the perfect mechanism but it's the best mechanism we have. You have cronyism and corruption and discrimination issues. We're saying let's do things the right way. We don't want to see people getting laid off based on who they know instead of what they know. We don't want to see people get laid off based on how much they cost.
This defense misses the main points of the reform debate entirely. Few, if any, reformers have argued that teachers should “get laid off based on how much they cost,” but they have argued that a senior teacher who is demonstrably less effective than his or her younger counterpart should probably be laid off first. This has nothing to do with how much the ineffective teacher costs, just as it has nothing to do with how long that teacher has been employed. The determining factor is whether or not the teacher is effective.
In all fairness, Weingarten would probably prefer to see no teachers laid off; but when this predisposition meets economic reality, the policies which she recommends are often myopic and imprudent. In 2010, for instance, she was one of one of the primary voices lobbying for a school bailout. Just a year before, the stimulus package had included more than four times that amount in education spending, much of it devoted to supplementing education budgets at the state level.
The stimulus package was a significant spending increase, but increases in education spending are normal. As Professor James Guthrie has pointed out, when education spending is adjusted for inflation it still works out to be nearly three times what it was fifty years ago, before there was even talk of a broken education system. The American education system does not need more money; it needs policy entrepreneurs who will devise innovative initiatives such as Pennsylvania's Senate Bill 1, a bill which would provide parents with vouchers to send their children to successful schools.
Individuals like the leader of the American Federation of Teachers don’t defend the status quo because it is broken, but they will defend it so long as it sustains their monopoly. But monopolies are only good for the people who are sustained by them. For consumers and, in the case of public education, taxpayers, they stunt innovation and reform. When they fail to provide results, all that monopolistic agencies can do is ask for more to pay for the same thing, only on a larger scale the second time around.
Randi Weingarten’s interview in the Wall Street Journal was disappointing but not surprising. As the leader of the American Teachers’ Federation, the second most powerful teacher’s union in America, Weingarten revealed herself to be a staunch defender of the status quo. She doesn’t argue that kids are getting a sufficient education (that is becoming increasingly difficult), but she stood firmly against anything that might reverse the trend. He
I was emailed this today from a group of dedicated North Carolina FreedomWorks activists who spent their day protesting the pay-to-play policies of Duke Energy and its CEO James Rogers. Great work guys!
"FreedomWorks activists from across North Carolina gathered yesterday, March 17, outside of Duke Energy Headquarters in Charlotte to protest Duke's decision to guarantee $10 million to the DNC. The message was clear, if Duke Energy has $10 million to spread around, it should be going to Duke's customers via rate reductions. Most of NC's residents are Duke Energy customers and if the merger, currently in the works, is culminated, practically the entire state will be."
"FreedomWorks activists were very disappointed in Duke's CEO, James Rogers, decision to guarantee the $10 million. The group was asking the Board to fire him and replace him with an executive more responsive to the needs of the customers. Some of the activists likened his decision to vote buying and money laundering. Since Duke Energy has been in the forefront of promoting "cap and trade" Legislation, the activists believe that this is Roger's way of passing money to the administration, to promote this legislation, through the back door of the political process."
This type of behavior is unacceptable and as activists we must be ever vigilant in preventing it from happening. Continuing our fight against Duke Energy and its CEO is just one step FreedomWorks is taking to ensure that corporate welfare, and pay-to-play politics is no longer tolerated.
"Si, Se Puede" President Obama
Many Republicans and Democrats cannot figure out exactly why President Obama is absent on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. President Obama obviously believes that free trade is valuable and recently applauded himself when he returned from South Korea with a signed FTA in his hand. So why isn’t Colombia, one of our only democratic allies in South America “worthy” of a similar agreement?
GOP Senate Leader Senator Mitch McConnell can’t figure this out either and recently published on Oped in the Miami Herald about this exact issue. He writes: “This is completely unacceptable, and that’s why Senate Republicans have insisted in recent weeks that all three trade deals must be moved through Congress as quickly as possible. American job creators deserve better than what they’re getting from this administration’s delays. The excuses coming out of the White House have been patronizing at best, not only to American businesses and workers who are clamoring for presidential action, but also to our close allies in Latin America who are just as perplexed as we are that the administration continues to slow-walk these deals.” Senator Mitch McConnell's Miami Herald Oped.
Those politicians and activists who oppose the Colombian Free Trade Agreement cite human rights violations as being the number one reason for President Obama should not to sign the FTA with Colombia. Dan Kovalik, a prominent U.S. labor and human rights lawyer states: “Colombia, in other words, is considered a key strategic ally in the region, and although "the U.S. is forever criticizing Cuba and Venezuela for their human rights policies, any objective observer would have to conclude that Colombia's human rights policies over the last 15 years, which have included the wholesale murder of its own population, is many times worse." Is he right? Kind of, but he stupidly and so typically falls along partisan lines and loses credibility when he fails to mention or even acknowledge the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia); not mentioning the FARC when speaking about Colombia is like not mentioning Al-Qaeda when speaking about Iraq or Afghanistan.
The FARC was established in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, the FARC is Colombia’s oldest, largest, most capable, and best-equipped Marxist insurgency. This group of communist insurgents has killed and continues to kill thousands of Colombian and international citizens every year. In fact on this very day, these terrorists hold many prominent Colombians, as well as world citizens hostage in the jungles of Colombia, and like the murders that are the Somali Pirates, they demand ransom for the release of their captives.
Colombia, with help from the U.S. managed through tremendous sacrifice to their own people, security and geography to arrive on the frontier of defeating these communist murders; Colombia has paid the ultimate price in their endeavour to rid its nation from Coca trafficking; and how do we re-pay them for this sacrifice? We cruelly dangle a valuable FTA above their heads, which would better the lives of their citizens dramatically. Colombians like so many Americans are in disbelief and cannot for the life of them figure out why this is happening.
The United States encouraged Colombia to fight the FARC, we helped them do so, our brave Special Forces soldiers, whom we will never hear about, died and suffered with their fellow Colombians in the jungle-but this isn’t enough. It’s time for liberals, and so-called Human rights activists to live in reality and see the amazing accomplishments the Colombians have made; they have not perfected their democratic country, but they are advancing every day, in the midst of a hunkered down communist guerrilla force just waiting for the opportunity to terrorize again.
I “applaud” Senator Mitch McConnell for taking the lead on this very important issue; Colombia is one of our only democratic allies in South America, and we must support them at every turn in their march towards true freedom from insurgents.
"Si, Se Puede" President ObamaMany Republicans and Democrats cannot figure out exactly why President Obama is absent on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. President Obama obviously believes that free trade is valuable and recently applauded himself when he returned from South Korea with a signed FTA in his hand. So why isn’t Colombia, one of our only democratic allies in South America “worthy” of a similar agreement?GOP Senate Leader Senator Mitch McConnell can’t figure this out either and recently published on Oped in the Miami Heral