Here is good reporting that you will want to check regularly.
Recently, I had the privilege of serving on a panel convened by Human Events Magazine that was assigned with the task of naming the 10 worst government programs. Other panelists included such luminaries as Larry Kudlow of Kudlow and Cramer fame, Walter Williams, one of the best-known economists in the country, and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (among others). The votes are now tallied and here is what we came up with. This was a weighted vote that included some 50 federal programs. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the panel’s choices, but it is a good listing and should provoke discussion.
The House has voted 218-209 for more restrictions on our freedom of speech. National Review editorializes:
We’re old enough to remember when the Republican mainstream was against restricting campaign finance. That was about four years ago. Way back then, House leaders were decrying McCain-Feingold as damaging to the GOP’s electoral fortunes and probably unconstitutional. How times change. The current crop of House leaders, acting with the White House’s blessing, is set to introduce legislation this week that would restrict the ability of so-called 527s — nonprofit groups named for the section of the tax code under which they operate — to raise money for political causes. Quite apart from the unseemliness of this about-face, the legislation deserves to be defeated. It is both politically unwise and, more important, an objectionable restriction on speech.
Tom Udall was the only New Mexico representative to stand tall against these restrictions. Jeff Flake and John Shadegg of Arizona and Ron Paul of Texas were among the 18 Republicans who are not shamed.
Education reform is an integral component of the Rio Grande Foundation’s mission. Of course, “reform” means different things to different people. Vouchers, tax credits, and charter schools are all possibilities and are worthy of varying levels of support. While New Mexico does not allow vouchers or tax credits, it does have a charter school law. That said, the complying with state and federal rules and regulations is no picnic for the charter school movement. This article gives you one man’s experience in navigating those tricky waters.
I was deeply saddened this morning to learn of the death of legal scholar Bernard Siegan. Here is a tribute to him by Mark Brnovich compliments of the Goldwater Institute:
Bernard Siegan Remembered
The impact of a property rights champion
by Mark Brnovich
March 31, 2006
I met Professor Bernard Siegan during my first year of law school. He had been rejected for an appointment to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals the year before and his spirits were dampened. The toll of political fights often takes place off camera, but it can be tremendous. Judge Bork’s memory still looms large in the national debate, but people often forget how the godfather of property rights, Bernie Siegan, was “Borked” by the same group of Senators.
Professor Siegan’s small office was packed with books about constitutional law and economic theory, a field of study in which he had been a giant contributor. As a lowly 1L, I was awed to be sitting with the author of The Supreme Court’s Constitution, Other People’s Property, Economic Liberties and the Constitution, and Property and Freedom.
I told him that his writings had a tremendous impact on me and that I couldn’t wait to take his con law class the next year. Taking a long shot, I asked him if he needed a research assistant. He looked surprised and told me that he was a “falling star” and recommended attaching myself to another professor. But I pressed on and he reluctantly began a tutelage that has had an enormous impact on my life.
Professor Siegan’s groundbreaking work focused on the negative impact of zoning regulations. In Land Use Without Zoning, he explained how Houston thrived without restrictive zoning regulations. To him, government planned “solutions” often resulted in higher housing costs, with the poor and middle classes usually taking the hardest hits.
Professor Siegan often pointed out that it was little wonder that the Constitution contains so many direct and indirect references to the importance of protecting property. Article I, Sections 9 & 10, provide that no state shall pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contract. Respect for the supremacy of property can also be found in constitutional provisions prohibiting the quartering of soldiers in the 3rd amendment and the 4th Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. Of course, the 5th and 14th Amendments both explicitly provide that no person may be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
The Framers—strongly influenced by the writings of John Locke, William Blackstone, and Edward Coke—had created a system designed to maximize human freedom by protecting the means to acquire and maintain property. Professor Siegan wrote extensively about this, highlighting the important role that property rights played in human liberty. He understood that attacks on property rights were a threat to political liberty.
Professor Siegan’s message wasn’t simply an academic exercise. His books Drafting a Constitution for a Nation or Republic Emerging Into Freedom and Adopting a Constitution to Protect Freedom and Provide Abundance were blueprints for countries emerging from communism. Copies of his books were available in Polish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Spanish and many other languages. He was determined to see young nations recognize that economic growth was dependent on respecting property rights and establishing the rule of law.
A few months ago, I was in San Diego and met Professor Siegan for lunch. His body was tired, but his mind was still very sharp. We talked about his days at the University of Chicago and his work at the University of San Diego and the impact it would have on future students, lawyers, and judges. He wanted to talk about China and how impressed he was with their GDP and that they were moving to secure more property rights. He was trying to put together a conference to explore economic and property rights developments in China. If anyone could speed along China’s road to respecting economic and property rights, it would be him. Unfortunately, he ran out time.
Professor Siegan, always the gentlemen, insisted on paying for that lunch, pointing out that he was the professor and I was the assistant. Noting that conversation we had at our first meeting over 15 years earlier, I pointed out that his legal star had never fallen. To the contrary, his work serves as a guiding star for any serious scholar seeking to find the original intent of this nation’s founders.
Mark Brnovich is the former director of the Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Studies.
I am thrilled to see GMU’s basketball team make it to the final four. But did you know that (unlike its basketball team) its Department of Economics has long been in the top tier? For more on Professor Buchanan look here. If you really want to understand economics, Don Boudreaux and Russ Roberts display clear explanations here. And, of course, many of you have probably heard Walter Williams on the radio.
In today’s Albuquerque Journal we learn that the state is receiving more money for education from the feds (SR). Nonetheless two-thirds of our school districts will receive less money!
That’s not all; APS feels it requires a tax hike to fund new school construction(SR). I wonder what they are doing with all the extra tax revenue from our recent growth?
Charles Murray has an interesting new idea to fix welfare. In essence, he proposes that everyone receive a lump sum welfare payment. The lump sum nature of the payment would virtually eliminate all adverse incentives to which welfare recipients are subject. And it would get much more money back to the people by eliminating the Gargantuan welfare bureacracies. Of course, the taxes needed to fund the lump sum payments would still punish productive behavior. But reducing the destructive effect on recipients would be a real advance.
For a detailed discussion of the destructive incentives of federal and state welfare programs in New Mexico look here (pp. 12-18).