Public Policy

Socialism Promises a Utopia, but Delivers Suffering

Heritage Foundation - Wed, 2019-05-22 03:01

Presidential contenders are in a battle to out-give one another.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposes a whopping $50,000 per student college loan forgiveness. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., proposes free health care for all Americans plus illegal aliens. Most Democratic presidential candidates promise free stuff that includes free college, universal income, “Medicare for All,” and debt forgiveness.

Their socialist predecessors made promises, too.

“Freedom and Bread” was the slogan used by Adolf Hitler during the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi) campaign against President Paul von Hindenburg. Hitler even promised, “In the Third Reich every German girl will find a husband.”

Stalin promised a great socialist-Marxist society that included better food and better worker conditions.

China’s Mao Zedong promised democratic constitutionalism and the dream that “farmers have land to till.” These, and other promises, gave Mao the broad political support he needed to win leadership of the entire country in 1949.

Socialism promises a utopia that sounds good, but those promises are never realized. It most often results in massive human suffering.

Capitalism fails miserably when compared with a heaven or utopia promised by socialism. But any earthly system is going to come up short in such a comparison. Mankind must make choices among alternative economic systems that actually exist.

It turns out that for the common man capitalism, with all of its alleged shortcomings, is superior to any system yet devised to deal with his everyday needs and desires. By most any measure of human well-being, people who live in countries toward the capitalistic end of the economic spectrum are far better off than their fellow men who live in countries toward the socialist end. Why?

Capitalism, or what some call free markets, is relatively new in human history. Prior to capitalism, the way individuals amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering, and enslaving their fellow man. With the rise of capitalism, it became possible to amass great wealth by serving and pleasing your fellow man.

Capitalists seek to discover what people want and produce and market it as efficiently as possible as a means to profit. A historical example of this process would be John D. Rockefeller, whose successful marketing drove kerosene prices down from 58 cents a gallon in 1865 to 7 cents in 1900. Henry Ford became rich by producing cars for the common man.

Both Ford’s and Rockefeller’s personal benefits pale in comparison to the benefits received by the common man who had cheaper kerosene and cheaper and more convenient transportation. There are literally thousands of examples of how mankind’s life has been made better by those in the pursuit of profits.

Here’s my question to you: Are the people who, by their actions, created unprecedented convenience, longer life expectancy, and a more pleasant life for the ordinary person—and became wealthy in the process—deserving of all the scorn and ridicule heaped upon them by intellectuals and political hustlers today?

In many intellectual and political circles, the pursuit of profits is seen as evil. However, this pursuit forces entrepreneurs to find ways to either please people efficiently or go bankrupt. Of course, they could mess up and avoid bankruptcy if they can get government to bail them out or give them protection against competition.

Nonprofit organizations have an easier time of it. As a matter of fact, people tend to be the most displeased with services received from public schools, motor vehicle departments, and other government agencies. Nonprofits can operate whether they please people or not. That’s because they derive their compensation through taxes.

I’m sure that we’d be less satisfied with supermarkets if they had the power to take our money through taxes, as opposed to being forced to find ways to get us to voluntarily give them our money.

By the way, I’m not making an outright condemnation of socialism. I run my household on the Marxist principle, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

That system works when you can remember the names of all involved.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

The post Socialism Promises a Utopia, but Delivers Suffering appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Let’s make politics less important

John Locke Foundation - Wed, 2019-05-22 01:01

It might sound odd to hear this from someone who’s been writing a syndicated column on politics for more than 30 years, but politics has become vastly more important in our lives than it should be.

Virtually every decision we make in our ostensibly free society is now subject to review, refinement, and reversal by some government agency. We can’t buy or consume what we want, hire whom we want on mutually agreeable terms, inhabit and dispense with our property as we want, or make critical decisions about our families’ education, health care, and financial planning without the intrusion of governmental “helpers.”

I’m not an anarchist. Modern civilization and human progress have proven to be impossible with governmental structures. When administered effectively and constitutionally, governments promote law and order, adjudicate disputes, and ensure the provision of certain public goods that for technical reasons can’t be delivered by purely voluntary means.

That’s not to say human beings can’t live without government. For most of the history of the species, humans lived in small hunter-gatherer bands, consisting largely of relatives, that came together only occasionally to swap, socialize, and find mates. In some places, these social bonds developed into tribal confederations and, later, into chiefdoms. But not until a few thousand years ago did true states appear in an anthropological sense — social institutions that established a “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory,” as Max Weber famously put it.

The invention of the state and the invention of cities were interrelated events. The word political comes from the Greek polis, for city-state. Civilization both creates and requires politics in the sense we use the term today.

Humanity can live without government, as I said — but not long or well. Hunter-gatherers may have had more free time than we do, but they starved, shivered, and died violent deaths at far higher rates, too. Tribes and chiefdoms weren’t much more conducive to human flourishing. Even early civilizations, built around cities and states, increased the total population and scope of human communities without necessarily raising the standard of living for the average person very much for very long.

What ultimately did the trick was the marriage of industrial capitalism and increasing levels of republican self-government during the 18th and 19th centuries, beginning in Northwestern Europe and North America and then spreading elsewhere. The public sector played a critical role in this gigantic and unprecedented leap forward in human wellbeing. But it did so precisely because its power was constrained by law and custom.

In the American context, at least, modern conservatives should be understood as conserving a set of truly revolutionary ideas and practices. One such idea is that government is both necessary and dangerous. As James Madison put it in a post-presidency speech in Virginia, “the essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”

By “power” here, Madison and other Founders meant coercive power — the capacity of government to force people at the point of a gun to comply with its commands. Whether republican or tyrannical, all governments possess such power. Again, it’s necessary. But it ought to be used sparingly, only for tasks that can’t be accomplished through market transactions, charitable activity, or simple persuasion.

That’s the case that my colleagues and I at the John Locke Foundation, and at other like-minded organizations in North Carolina and beyond, seek to make every day in our programs, articles, interviews, and public appearances. Our work is usually devoted to specific applications. We advocate liberating North Carolinians to make choices for themselves about how best to educate their children, improve their health, pursue economic opportunity, and build the families and communities in which they live their lives.

Whether the stakes in a particular dispute we discuss seem big or small to you, keep mind that the broader principle couldn’t be more momentous: everything need not be political. Minimize government. Maximize freedom.

John Hood (@JohnHoodNC) is chairman of the John Locke Foundation and appears on “NC SPIN,” broadcast statewide Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on UNC-TV.

Categories: Public Policy

This Arizona Policy Change Is Robbing Navajo Kids of School Opportunity

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 18:38

Three thousand and one hundred feet. That’s the distance between Hilltop Christian School in New Mexico and the Arizona border—but for students in the Navajo Nation, it might as well be 3,100 miles.

A change in policy by the state Department of Education means Navajo Nation students living on the Arizona side are no longer allowed to use education savings accounts to pay tuition at Hilltop. With an account, the state deposits a portion of a child’s funds from the state education formula into a private account that parents use to buy products and services for their children, including private school tuition.

Tim Sandefur, vice president of the Goldwater Institute, measured the 3,100-foot distance and sent a letter to the agency on behalf of these Navajo families asking the department to withdraw the policy.

For more than two years, Navajo families have been using the accounts to send their children to Hilltop. But the state Department of Education is now denying students access to this school because it sits across state lines in New Mexico. It’s even telling parents to repay money already spent on tuition.

Arizona law already says account holders can use the accounts to pay for online schools headquartered anywhere in the U.S., as well as tuition at any private college in the country. Sandefur explains that state law also “allows parents to pay for ‘teaching services’ from authorized individuals or facilities regardless of where they’re located.”

The goal of education savings accounts is to help children and their chances of success in school, and for that matter, in life. That is far more important than forcing students to attend a K-12 school in Arizona.

Even the Arizona law says the purpose of education savings accounts is to “provide options for the education of students in this state.” So how does taking away an option for some of the nation’s lowest-performing students further this goal?

Native American students have the lowest high school graduation rate of any ethnic subgroup in the country. Eighty percent of Native American fourth graders read at or below what a national comparison considers a “basic” level. By comparison, nearly the same proportion of white students score at or above the basic level (79%).

In Arizona, Native American students graduate at nearly the same rate as children with special needs. These students have the highest dropout rate of any subgroup—a rate that is double the same figure for their white peers.

Arizona’s education savings accounts had offered hope to Native American students. For instance, St. Michael Indian School in Window Rock, Arizona, located on the Navajo Reservation, reports that 99% of students graduate and 98% attend college.

Shortly after Arizona became the first state to offer education savings accounts to students, surveys found high levels of satisfaction among account holders. Yet a survey released last week found this figure has slipped in recent years.

Those looking to explain the discontent should start with agency rules like the new limits for Navajo students.

The Goldwater Institute’s recent letter challenging the agency’s new interpretation of state law isn’t the first such correspondence. Two years ago, the Arizona Department of Education reversed course on nearly a dozen new provisions it had issued after a letter pointed out that the department had exceeded its authority.

National research suggests that state regulations can limit parental options by scaring off private schools from even participating in state programs. Research from Louisiana and elsewhere have found that school leaders think twice about participating in education opportunities, such as K-12 private school scholarships, that operate with rules to micromanage private schools.

Arizona lawmakers say they will introduce a proposal to clarify that Navajo students can access quality learning options, even across state lines. But the solution can’t come quickly enough. Posts on social media indicate the state superintendent, Kathy Hoffman, wants to resolve the issue, too—though it’s not clear when or how learning options will be restored for the Navajo students.

Education savings accounts are a glimmer of hope for these children, and officials should ask themselves why these options for Navajo students were rescinded in the first place.

The post This Arizona Policy Change Is Robbing Navajo Kids of School Opportunity appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

House Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Action on Women’s Right to Vote

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 18:27

Lawmakers took to the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of action on the constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote.

The House passed what would become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution by a vote of 304-90 on May 21, 1919. The amendment was ratified by the required three-fourths of the states and became the law of the land a little over a year later, on Aug. 18, 1920.

The lower chamber originally voted 274-136 for the amendment on Jan. 10, 1918, but the Senate failed to pass it during the 65th Congress of 1917-1919. So the House ended up acting on a re-introduced amendment.

“Madame Speaker,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said Tuesday, “I rise today to celebrate the bold trailblazers like Susan B. Anthony, a pro-life Republican, [and] Emma Smith DeVoe and May Arkwright Hutton, who both led the suffrage movement in Washington state.”

“It’s leaders like Susan B. Anthony and others who have inspired generations of women to live their dreams, to be courageous, and be risk-takers,” McMorris Rodgers said in remarks prepared for delivery on the anniversary. “They fought to make sure the promise of America was available to women from all walks of life, so ‘we the people’ are able to make our voices heard.”

Those speaking from the other side of the aisle included Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa.

“I stand here inviting all the young girls to see me, to see the record number of women in this Congress, and to see women leaders across our [state], our country, and our world. See us, and in us, see a world of possibility.”

Other lawmakers turned to social media to celebrate the 100th anniversary of House action on the 19th Amendment.

“One hundred years later to date, we reaffirm our support of women and the value they bring to this country,” Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, tweeted. “We honor the women of the past who courageously fought for what they believed in, and we recognize the women today who continue in their footsteps.”

We commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first major step in adopting the 19th Amendment: the passage of the resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives. #WomensVote100 pic.twitter.com/Gz13u6gJX3

— Kay Coles James (@KayColesJames) May 21, 2019

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., said the nation is still reaping benefits today.

“One hundred years after the House passed the 19th Amendment to give women the right to vote, the House counts more than 100 women among its members,” Lawrence tweeted. “Proud to be celebrating today with my #suffragesisters & #suffragents and working towards a better future for all!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hosted a reception to mark the anniversary, which featured remarks by female lawmakers and guests.

“We don’t forget the sacrifices, the struggles, and the hard-fought victory to secure women’s right to vote,” Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James said at the event. “We were not given the right to vote, we took it.”

“Everything that happened in the past screams who we are today,” James said. “Every single woman in Congress is here because of the women who decades ago planted the seeds for justice.”

The post House Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Action on Women’s Right to Vote appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Skyrocketing Debt Too Important to Be Paired With Spending Deal

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 17:56

Two major issues that Congress will be forced to confront in the coming weeks and months are the debt limit and the future of the Budget Control Act discretionary spending caps.

A report from The Hill indicates that negotiations are underway between Congress and the Trump administration to combine a two-year budget caps deal with an increase or suspension of the debt limit.

Taxpayers have seen this failed approach before. For lawmakers, pairing an unpopular action, like raising the debt limit, with massive spending increases sweetens the deal.

The total national debt is more than $22 trillion. An unpaid for budget deal could add at least another $2 trillion. Congress should debate the debt limit and new spending thoroughly and separately. Importantly, lawmakers must not make the fiscal situation any worse.

As of May 17, the debt subject to the limit was $21.9 trillion and just $25 million short of eclipsing the limit. In total, the Treasury estimates that the national debt has increased by more half a billion dollars since Oct. 1.

For the time being there is no immediate risk that the federal government will have to stop making payments or providing services. The Treasury is permitted to take “extraordinary measures” to continue meeting existing federal obligations so long as no new debt is issued. An influx of April tax receipts also offered temporary relief.

However, extraordinary measures will last only so long. The Congressional Budget Office estimates by fall the federal government will no longer be able to cover its obligations.

Due to Congress’ dysfunctional budget process, fiscal year 2020 appropriations and the status of the Budget Control Act spending caps could also come to a head at the same time.

The Budget Control Act established discretionary spending caps from 2012-2021, but three separate amendments have raised the caps in two-year increments. House Democrats have already put forth a plan that would raise the caps by at least $357 billion over the next two years—without any plan to pay for it.

The issue at hand with the Budget Control Act is that the last mega spending deal created a cliff heading into 2020. Under current law, for spending to remain at the inflated levels would mean a $125 billion increase next year. Without changes to the law, national defense spending would absorb 57% of the cut.

The debt limit and status of the Budget Control Act are two critical issues that will have a sweeping impact on the economy. High levels of debt create a drag on the economy, hurting job creators and the average worker alike.

Thankfully, The Heritage Foundation has a plan that provides long-term solutions for the spending-driven debt crisis and shifts the role of the federal government back to constitutional priorities, such as national defense.

On Monday, “Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2020 was released. The comprehensive budget proposal reduces debt as a share of gross domestic product from its current level of 78% to less than 61%. In total, the plan would save taxpayers nearly $11 trillion over the next decade.

“Blueprint for Balance” would maintain the aggregate Budget Control Act caps for 2020-2021 by giving Congress the flexibility to prioritize defense spending without driving the country further into debt.

In 2020 alone, the plan calls for nearly $128 billion in discretionary budget cuts. Combined with other reforms, such as eliminating unauthorized appropriations, there is more than enough funding available to provide for a robust national defense within the overall cap.

Ultimately Congress will determine if there is another two-year caps deal or not. If lawmakers decide to amend the Budget Control Act, they must ensure that discretionary spending increases are fully offset by mandatory spending reforms.

“Blueprint for Balance” lays out comprehensive reforms for entitlement and other mandatory programs that would reduce spending by more than $7.3 trillion over 10 years.

These same recommendations could be used to address the debt limit. First, lawmakers should set a numerical limit. They should then utilize the budget process to enact reconciliation legislation that reduces spending by more than the debt limit increase to help curb the tide of red ink in the future.

Reaching the debt limit forces Congress and the president to confront the impact of unsustainable spending. It should be a wake-up call for lawmakers and a chance to change course before the situation gets worse. Combining the debt limit with the Budget Control Act debate deemphasizes the seriousness of both issues.

Lawmakers must be willing to confront tough issues like the debt limit head-on. America’s economic future depends on their strong leadership.

The post Skyrocketing Debt Too Important to Be Paired With Spending Deal appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

American Colleges Are Now Just Left-Wing Seminaries

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 17:39

Most Americans are not aware how morally and intellectually destructive American colleges—and, increasingly, high schools and even elementary schools—have become. So, they spend tens of thousands after-tax dollars to send their sons and daughters to college.

But today, to send your child to college is to play Russian roulette with their values. There is a good chance your child will return from college alienated from you, from America, from Western civilization, and from whatever expression of any Bible-based religion in which you raised your child.

If you think this is in any way an exaggeration, here is some of what has happened on campuses in recent months:

Harvard University fired law professor Ron Sullivan from his position as faculty dean of Winthrop House, a student residential hall, because he was one of Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers. (He has since resigned from the Weinstein legal team.) Some female Harvard students said they felt “unsafe” with Sullivan as a faculty dean.

Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law, said the decision “may be the worst violation of academic freedom during my 55 year association with Harvard.” Laurence Tribe, also a professor at Harvard Law, said he could not recall a “worse” blunder in his 50 years as a professor there.

Also at Harvard, all-black graduation exercises were initiated. And like most other colleges, Harvard has long allowed an all-black student dorm to exist on campus.

If nothing else, this provides additional proof of the vast difference between liberalism and leftism. That is why liberals such as Dershowitz, Tribe, and numerous liberal writers have condemned Harvard’s cowardly capitulation to a few female students.

Unfortunately for America, however, most liberals will not confront the fact that they have far more to fear from the left than from the right. Conservatives are not the enemy of liberalism; the left is.

In Minnesota, some students at South St. Paul Secondary petitioned the administration to allow students to wear sashes—stoles—with ethnic and LGBT colors to celebrate their identities. As one student said in leftist English, “I’m able to repurpose what was once an obstacle into a source of energy and pride.”

As reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “If they’re not allowed to don the sashes, some students have talked about wearing them anyway, said Naomi Gedey, a Black Pride Organization leader. Gedey added that many immigrant students also hope to wear flags of their nations of origin.”

Other Minnesota schools already allow students “to don so-called ‘identity adornments.'”

Those who still believe that one of the primary purposes of American public (and most private) schools is to Americanize students should know this is no longer the case. On the contrary, most American high schools now celebrate every identity except American identity (which the left brands a euphemism for white supremacy).

Meanwhile, at its commencement next month, the City University of New York will award an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Al Sharpton.

Among the many nonhumane activities Sharpton has been involved in was the infamous Tawana Brawley hoax, in which he fabricated a charge that four white men had raped a young black woman named Tawana Brawley.

Sharpton also runs a phony civil rights organization called the National Action Network, which has collected many millions of dollars from corporations in what essentially amounts to an extortion racket that enables those corporations to buy racial peace.

And Sharpton helped stoke the Jew-hatred that sparked black anti-Jewish riots in 1991. In a book published in 2006, Edward S. Shapiro, a Brandeis University historian, described the riot as “the most serious anti-Semitic incident in American history.”

In Pennsylvania, the Sabold Elementary School in Springfield announced that its principal will no longer say “God bless America” after the Pledge of Allegiance. The school district released a statement two weeks ago stating that the principal saying “God bless America” “violated the law.”

And of course, college students across the country are increasingly taught, often from their first day at college, that being male and female is a choice, not a biological fact.

Other than Hillsdale and a handful of other colleges and religious colleges, the American university has become nothing more than a left-wing seminary.

Buyer beware.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

The post American Colleges Are Now Just Left-Wing Seminaries appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

California Considers Spending Billions on Health Care for Illegal Immigrants

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 16:24

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan for government-funded health care for illegal immigrants is frugal compared to proposals by other Democratic leaders in his state.

Newsom, the progressive first-term governor of California and ardent opponent of the Trump administration, wants to offer free health care services to low-income illegal migrants between the ages of 19 and 25. The plan is estimated to cost the state $98 million a year to operate.

“Young people feel the crunch of the cost crisis acutely—from high rents and student debt. Health care shouldn’t be one more worry,” Newsom said in a press release. “We are helping young adults when they come off their parents’ plan and assisting those who may not be able to join onto a parents’ insurance policy.”

Despite the nearly $100 million annual price tag, Newsom’s plan appears conservative when contrasted with the options being touted in the California state capitol.

A bill in the state Senate calls for not only 19- to 25-year-olds, but also those 65 years and older to qualify for free health care. The author of the bill argues California’s budget could easily afford the burden. In the state Assembly, there is legislation that would cover all illegal immigrants over the age of 19, costing the Golden State an estimated $3.4 billion. The state House proposal earned scrutiny from Newsom himself.

“There’s 3.4 billion reasons why it is a challenge,” the Democratic governor said during a recent press conference.

Leaders in the state Assembly and Senate are expected to finish their proposals within the week before they negotiate with Newsom on a final budget. No matter how the plans are tweaked, California appears poised to become the first state in the U.S. to offer government-funded health care to illegal immigrant adults.

Additionally, implementation of the proposals would further establish the liberal state as a counter to the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.

The White House, for example, is considering a regulation that would dramatically expand the deportation of immigrants living in the U.S. who are dependent on public benefits. President Donald Trump’s immigration plan, which he introduced earlier in May, would reduce the number of low-income foreign nationals allowed into the country.

The California GOP panned Democrats for pushing publicly funded health care for illegal migrants while simultaneously mulling a plan that mandates health insurance and slaps a penalty on those who choose not to participate.

“We’re going to penalize the citizens of this state that have followed the rules, but we’re going to let somebody who has not followed the rules come in here and get the services for free. I just think that’s wrong,” said Jeff Stone, a Republican state senator.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, emaillicensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post California Considers Spending Billions on Health Care for Illegal Immigrants appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

‘Tolkien’ Paints Vivid Picture of Writer’s Life, but Ignores His Faith

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 14:25

The new movie depicting the life of writer, poet, and academic J.R.R. Tolkien is a refreshing display of the beauty of friendship and perseverance in adversity. Yet the film fundamentally disappoints by neglecting to include a defining element of Tolkien’s life—his Catholic faith.

The film centers on Tolkien’s youth, followed by his coming of age against the backdrop of World War I. To its credit, “Tolkien” beautifully captures the impact that the author’s relationships—with his mother, his wife, and his friends—had on his fiction.

Director Dome Karukoski excels at showing how Tolkien’s friendships with fellow students at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, England, carried him through difficult times on the battlefield and later inspired his fiction.

After Geoffrey Bache Smith, one of Tolkien’s childhood friends, is killed in action, Tolkien meets with Geoffrey’s mother to persuade her to allow him to publish Geoffrey’s poetry posthumously.

As they reflect on Geoffrey’s life, Tolkien (played by Nicholas Hoult) shares that of everyone he knew, Geoffrey “embodied best what it means to love and be loved.”

Love, or fellowship as it is put elsewhere in the film, is the main theme. When Tolkien and schoolmates Robert Gilson, Christopher Wiseman, and Geoffrey decide to form the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, Gilson declares: “This is more than just a friendship. It’s an alliance, an invincible alliance.”

Not even death can conquer friendship, as Geoffrey reminds Tolkien in his last letter. “Tolkien” does a masterful job capturing the power of fraternal love.

The film also conjures the horrors of war that haunted Tolkien—the gas attacks, the never-ending fire, the blood-soaked trenches, the unattended dead. It depicts dragons on the battlefield to show how Tolkien’s experience of war inspired the forces of evil in his beloved fantasy books, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Tolkien understood Christ to be the only satisfactory response to the evils he had witnessed.

“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament,” Tolkien wrote in one of 354 letters published as “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.” “There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.”

Yet Tolkien’s faith is virtually absent from the film. The only explicit references to Christianity come in the form of Father Francis Morgan (Colm Meaney), a Roman Catholic priest charged with Tolkien’s welfare after his mother dies, and a split-second shot of a large crucifix standing in no man’s land on the battlefield.

In one scene, Father Morgan visits Tolkien as he recovers in a hospital from trench fever. The priest laments that he struggles to comfort the mothers and widows in the ward.

“I speak the liturgy,” he says, and tells Tolkien that the ancient language and customs of the Mass seem to bring people comfort.

Why? “Tolkien” is not inclined to elaborate, but the real Tolkien would surely have plenty to say on the topic. He was not just interested in the liturgy as a philologist, but as a believer. His Christian faith was an integral part of his work.

As Tolkien wrote:

The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories … There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.

For Tolkien, who died in 1973 at 81, faith was the key to the greatest fairy-story, greater even than his masterful “Lord of the Rings.”

To attempt to tell his life story without it, however beautiful the film, means that “Tolkien” is fundamentally incomplete.

The post ‘Tolkien’ Paints Vivid Picture of Writer’s Life, but Ignores His Faith appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

‘Violation of Trust’: Alabama Public Television Bans ‘Arthur’ Same-Sex Marriage Episode

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 13:04

Alabama Public Television (APT) decided not to air an “Arthur” episode depicting same-sex marriage because officials believed it would violate parents’ trust.

The animated children’s TV show launched its 22nd season with “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” on May 13, where  Arthur’s third-grade teacher Mr. Ratburn gets married to a male character in the episode.

APT Director of Programming Mike McKenzie along with others at the organization decided not to air the episode after watching it. McKenzie added that PBS warned of “possible viewer concerns about the content of the program” in mid-April, NBC News reported.

“The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not,” McKenzie said, according to AL.com. “Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode.”

This is not the first time APT did not air an episode part of the “Arthur” franchise over content matter.

APT decided not to show an episode where Arthur’s friend Buster visited several children with two mothers in 2005, NBC reported.

The Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage as legal in Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015.

APT and PBS did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for publication.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post ‘Violation of Trust’: Alabama Public Television Bans ‘Arthur’ Same-Sex Marriage Episode appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

McConnell Introduces Bipartisan Bill Raising Smoking Age to 21

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 12:44

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine introduced a bill Monday to raise the federal minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21.

“We’re in the middle of a national health epidemic,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor, according to Fox News. “Youth vaping is a public health crisis.”

The bill, called the Tobacco-Free Youth Act, would raise the age to buy e-cigarettes as well. The legislation comes after the Food and Drug Administration waged war on teen e-cigarette use under the direction of ex-commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who called the issue an “epidemic.”

More than 3.6 million middle and high school students were current e-cigarette users in 2018, a “dramatic” uptick that ended years of decline in overall youth tobacco use, according to an FDA survey published in November.

“Today, we are coming together to side with young people’s health. With this bipartisan legislation, Senator McConnell and I are working to address one of the most significant public health issues facing our nation today,” Kaine said in a statement Monday. “Raising the tobacco age to 21 is a critical part of our efforts to improve public health and keep tobacco products out of schools and away from our children.”

Both McConnell and Kaine represent tobacco-producing states. Although McConnell’s Kentucky has seen falling tobacco production, the state has one of the highest cancer rates in the U.S., according to Fox News.

The bill would implement a policy that 14 states—including Virginia, New Jersey, and Oregon, plus the District of Columbia—have already put in place. The House has its own legislation to raise the smoking age introduced by Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Donna Shalala of Florida, reported CNBC.

Kaine, Pallone, and Shalala are pushing to raise the age to purchase tobacco products even as other members of their party introduce legislation to lower the federal voting age from 18 to 16.

The Tobacco 21 campaign received support from tobacco companies, including Altria and JUUL Labs.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, emaillicensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post McConnell Introduces Bipartisan Bill Raising Smoking Age to 21 appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

America Has a Debt Problem. Here’s the Viable Path to Fiscal Sanity.

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 11:52

President Ronald Reagan’s famous maxim, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” remains true today. Yet during times of great prosperity, it’s easy to take things for granted and assume that the good times will remain forever.

Today, despite the present economic boom, two types of bankruptcy threaten America’s fortunes.

The first bankruptcy is a renewed push for the failed ideology of socialism, exemplified by the so-called Green New Deal and Medicare for All

The second bankruptcy is more literal: America’s skyrocketing national debt.

Even though economic booms are usually a time to bring deficits under control, the federal government is increasingly relying on the national credit card to pay the bills.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the current fiscal year deficit will be $896 billion, or more than $2,720 for every American (including children). With a disaster spending bill in the works and Congress discussing another possible caps deal, the deficit could surpass $1 trillion this year.

The last time America incurred such high deficits was in 2012, following the Great Recession. We have no such excuse today. 

And it gets worse. The deficit is projected to climb to $1.4 trillion in 2028, which means we would be about $4,000 deeper in the red per person, unless Congress acts to control spending.

All that is on top of the current gross debt of $22 trillion. Each person’s share of today’s debt is already a staggering $67,000—exceeding what the typical American household earns in a year by several thousands of dollars.

This high and rising debt burden has many harmful effects.

For starters, the government will pay $382 billion in interest this year just to service the debt, or $1,160 for each of us. That kind of money would go a long way for most American families, but instead we send it to our creditors—many of whom are foreign nations. China alone owns over $1 trillion in U.S. treasuries.

As the debt increases and interest payments rise, that creates a heavier drag on the economy. Although it is hard to measure how much economic growth we miss out on because of the debt, even relatively small growth effects add up to thousands of dollars lost per year for every worker.

This is maddeningly unfair to younger and future generations. Not only are today’s children being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in national debt, but they may also have to navigate an economy that offers them less opportunity than they would have if political leaders were more responsible with the nation’s finances.

>>> No, Socialism Won’t Make Americans’ Lives Better

It is tempting to look at all of that bad news and throw up our hands. But that is not how Americans respond to a challenge.

The Heritage Foundation has the solution to big deficits and a slower economy: the Blueprint for Balance.

Drawing on the work of dozens of policy analysts, the Blueprint provides policymakers with a comprehensive approach to taxing, spending, and protecting vital liberties.

The impact of adopting the Blueprint’s 250+ specific policy proposals would be enormous. Over the course of a decade, the Blueprint would:

  • Shift the budget from annual deficits to a surplus;
  • Achieve over $30,000 per person in accumulated savings by eliminating wasteful programs, reforming Social Security and Medicare so they are sustainable, and returning control and responsibility for programs best administered by the private sector, states, and local governments to those entities;
  • Reduce taxes by roughly $2,500 per person through making the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent, while eliminating many tax subsidies for politically-connected groups and businesses;
  • Shrink the national debt as a share of the economy by over a third from current projections, making it manageable;
  • Ensure that America’s military has the resources it needs to keep the nation secure. 

Enacting the Blueprint will require a sustained effort and political courage. At a time when the Senate seems unable to legislate and the House would rather spend than budget, this seems like a daunting task.

Political leaders must make a choice. They can choose to do nothing—in which case debts will continue to pile up, Social Security will run out of money to pay benefits, and the federal government will remain too big to be managed properly—or, they can choose to move toward socialism, which would concentrate power and money in Washington, D.C., while throttling the economy with high taxes and reducing freedom and choices for Americans.

By following the Blueprint for Balance, though, lawmakers can secure more economic growth, a solvent retirement system, and a federal government focused on its core constitutional priorities, such as protecting the nation.

The choice is clear. America’s present and its future depend on a commitment to the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, and a strong national defense. These are the principles embodied in the Blueprint for Balance.

The post America Has a Debt Problem. Here’s the Viable Path to Fiscal Sanity. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

School Choice Breaks the Poverty Cycle, Not ‘Adversity Scores’

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 10:11

The College Board’s recent announcement that it will no longer score students based only on their ability to correctly answer questions on the SAT exam is about as welcome as a pop quiz.

Students will now also be assigned “adversity scores” of one to 100 using 15 different metrics regarding their background. The more disadvantaged a student is judged, the more points will be added to his or her adversity score.

What seems like a poor attempt at satire is, unfortunately, all too real. Breaking down human experiences and backgrounds, throwing them into an Excel spreadsheet, and assigning students a number to determine how privileged or disadvantaged they are sounds like something straight out of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

Students won’t know what their score is, but colleges will. Good luck to all of the talented high schoolers working hard to get into college, but who won’t know how the College Board ranked them—or have any recourse to challenge its decision.

Ultimately, this will render the SAT effectively meaningless. The public will have no idea if someone’s score and subsequent college admission is based on merit or if it’s the result of a student’s high adversity score bumping his or her application up the stack.

Furthermore, “adversity scoring” on the SAT will strip colleges and universities of their remaining credibility. The dean of admissions at Yale University, for example, stated that the adversity score is “literally affecting every application we look at,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Colleges and universities are certainly always eager to obtain as much information as possible about their applicants and will likely follow Yale’s example.

American universities have hailed themselves as meritocracies. However, recent events call this claim into question.

We learned from the recent college admissions scandal that some schools are easily open to bribes or even fraud in their admissions process.

Asian Americans are currently suing Harvard University for discriminatory admissions policies. The Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez has noted that Harvard’s own reports reveal that “Only considering academics in the admissions process would raise the proportion of the Asian-American students admitted to Harvard from 18.7% to 43.4%.”

The College Board’s attempt to rank students based on adversity is simply the next step down the slippery slope of identity politics.

It’s disappointing to see universities turn their back on the American dream, which tells students that if you work hard and play by the rules you can have success in our country.

Millions of students in America thankfully do not have to face serious adversity, whether it be poverty or racial discrimination. We should be celebrating the fact that these students do not have to face such hardships, not penalizing them in college admissions.

For students who do face adversity, the best thing we can do to level the playing field is to fix our broken public school system. Students who lack rigorous school choice options in their state must attend their assigned district public school, no matter the quality.

Restricting schooling options for families reinforces the cycle of poverty for students from poor neighborhoods, and undoubtedly affects a student’s preparedness for college.

Wealthy parents have been exercising choice for their children for decades, and it is time for state lawmakers to afford that right to all families.

Unfortunately, the College Board’s plan to assign adversity scores to students is simply another way that schools are tying the fate of America’s children to their ZIP code.

Instead of ranking students or placing them into groups, the College Board and universities should move past identity politics and treat students as individuals.

Originally published by Fox News

The post School Choice Breaks the Poverty Cycle, Not ‘Adversity Scores’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

New York Helped Birth the Entrepreneurial Spirit. Now, It’s Exporting Socialism.

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 10:06

“As goes (insert state), so goes the nation…” is one of the most overused clichés in modern political writing. It’s used to describe the outsized influence some states have over the nation as a whole.

But the dangerous thing about clichés is that sometimes, they’re true.

It was New York that nurtured and exported the culture of entrepreneurship that our nation became known for. Throughout our history, this spirit has powered the United States, and New York City is largely responsible for helping create the largest economy in the world.

So it should be particularly concerning to our nation that today, New York’s exports are socialism, the corruption and cronyism that are endemic to accumulated power, and class divisions created by the destruction of the middle class.

Political wunderkind Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has put meat on the bones of state socialism that has been slowly growing in New York since Gov. Nelson Rockefeller left office in 1973. One need only look to the brutalist buildings in Albany—reminiscent of Soviet mid-century architecture—to see this simple truth. 

The roots of socialism have slowly been sprouting in the Empire State since the 1850s. While socialism failed to bear fruit in the U.S. as a whole, unionism became the primary means by which socialists advanced their agenda.

First, they metastasized into large corporations vulnerable to collective action. Although Wall Street financiers were largely able to avoid unionization, large industrial companies such as Bethlehem Steel, General Motors, and AT&T could not.

Bethlehem Steel no longer exits, and General Motors would be bankrupt if it weren’t for a $23 billion taxpayer bailout to the United Auto Workers.

After gaining traction in the corporate world, unions moved into local and state government, with New York leading the way. New York now leads the nation in unionization. And this trend of government unionization has also spread to the federal government.

Unions and socialism share many ideals and practices, including the idea that they can grow strong by siphoning nearly unlimited sums of capital from private producers and the government.

Socialism is spreading its roots through our nation’s political soil with shocking speed. This is occurring because of our collective forgetfulness of the dangers of socialism, coupled with a whitewashing of its revolutionary manifesto and rebranding as enviro-socialism.

The result of today’s socialist renaissance could be the economic destruction of New York, and by extension the entrepreneurial spirit that is at the heart of the United States.

Just look at the way New York had to bribe Amazon to come to the Empire State. New York’s leaders know their policies aren’t working and thought they could throw money at the problem. What they didn’t consider is the ability of socialist Mayor Bill de Blasio and Ocasio-Cortez to scare away the titans of industry.

Socialism sends entrepreneurs running—and with them go prosperity.

America is now what New York used to be: a land that rewards innovation, verve, and creativity. Let’s hope America doesn’t follow New York’s latest turn.

The post New York Helped Birth the Entrepreneurial Spirit. Now, It’s Exporting Socialism. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

A tale of two op-eds and the 2020 Senate race

John Locke Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 04:02

As a regular consumer and producer of opinion columns, it’s possible that this observer tends to inflate their importance in the world of N.C. politics.

But two op-eds clearly have played significant roles in the opening stages of the fight for Republicans’ 2020 U.S. Senate nomination. Whether those op-eds have any long-term impact remains to be seen.

Incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis faces his first re-election contest next year. Heading into that race, a Feb. 25 column in the Washington Post focused national attention on Tillis, and not necessarily for reasons he would have liked.

The senator devoted much of his op-ed to pledging support for President Trump’s agenda of securing the southern border. Tillis also took shots at congressional Democrats. He accused them of obstructing Trump’s plans for dealing with the border and immigration.

But it was the Republican senator’s bottom-line conclusion that attracted notice. “I would vote in favor of the resolution disapproving of the president’s national-emergency declaration, if and when it comes before the Senate,” he wrote.

How could Tillis support the president on border security, yet oppose the national-emergency declaration designed to help implement Trump’s policies? The senator pointed to the proper separation of powers between Congress and the federal government’s executive branch.

He cited his concerns “as a conservative” about a precedent “future left-wing presidents will exploit.” Those future presidents could follow Trump’s lead to “advance radical policies that will erode economic and individual freedoms,” Tillis wrote.

Nothing about the preceding paragraph would appear out of place in the writing, floor debates, or stump speeches of a standard-issue, right-of-center Republican lawmaker. But the practical impact of Tillis’ principled stand was direct opposition to Trump. The president’s supporters cared little about the senator’s purported principles or the proper balance between Capitol Hill and the White House.

By the time the Senate voted on the emergency declaration, 17 days after the op-ed’s publication, Tillis had changed his mind. From the Senate floor, he explained that conversations with Trump administration officials and fellow senators had addressed his concerns. He voted with the president.

But the damage was done. Trump supporters didn’t rally to his defense. They didn’t praise his decision to set his reservations aside and stick with the team.

Those who might have credited Tillis for standing by his principles no longer had a reason to do so. And most observers considered the episode to offer evidence of a “full flip-flop,” quoting a Raleigh News & Observer headline.

One person who clearly followed the proceedings with interest was retired Raleigh business executive Garland Tucker. Speaking May 8 with nationally syndicated radio host Sean Hannity, Tucker referred to Tillis and “the famous Washington Post op-ed.” “When he got a lot of pressure from conservatives back home, he flip-flopped on that issue,” Tucker said to Hannity’s audience. “I think on immigration he’s been very, very weak.”

Tucker featured that “famous” op-ed in his first television ad challenging Tillis’ re-election bid. Vying against the incumbent in a Republican primary, Tucker pledged to distinguish himself from the sitting senator both on immigration and government spending.

The challenger also promises support for Trump. He compares the president’s economic policies to those of conservative heroes Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. “When I’m elected senator of North Carolina, I’m going to support him 100 percent on what he’s doing with the economy, for sure,” Tucker told Hannity.

Those words haven’t protected Tucker against a charge from Tillis’ camp that the challenger is actually an “anti-Trump activist” who is “assembling an anti-Trump team.”

What’s the basis for Tillis’ accusation? Tucker’s own words.

He wrote an op-ed for the News & Observer in September 2016, shortly before Trump’s presidential election victory. Tucker labeled Trump a “flawed candidate.” The op-ed critiqued Trump’s character and temperament. It questioned his consistency on policy issues. Tucker pledged with reluctance to support Trump over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Responding this month to criticism of that nearly three-year-old column, Tucker told the N&O that he “wouldn’t retract anything” in it. He labeled Trump’s performance in office “one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve ever seen.” Tucker says he’s now pleased that Trump was elected, and “I shudder to think there’s any chance he might not get re-elected.”

Regardless of Tucker’s explanation, Tillis supporters might continue to mine that 2016 op-ed for damaging material. They will hope to plant seeds of doubt about Tucker’s devotion to Trump and his policies.

Much will happen between now and the March 2020 Republican primary. Both Tillis and Tucker will have plenty of ways to share their opinions with GOP voters. One can only guess whether either of these two potentially damaging op-ed columns will sway voters as they head to the polls.

But it seems clear that Tillis’ and Tucker’s writing has helped set the stage for the campaign that lies ahead.

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation.

Categories: Public Policy

This Congresswoman Has a Warning for High Schoolers About Socialism

Heritage Foundation - Tue, 2019-05-21 03:01

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is taking a leading role Tuesday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage in the U.S. House on May 21, 1919. The Daily Signal recently spoke to her about a range of issues affecting her constituents, including the disconnect between the people in Washington state and Washington, D.C. Plus, she speaks about her efforts to reach out to the next generation, why she values every human life, and how the booming economy is helping small businesses in her state. The interview is available on our podcast, video, and the a lightly edited transcript below.

Rob Bluey: You recently spent time back home in the district talking to a lot of your constituents. Tell us what is on their minds. It’s so interesting for those of us in Washington to hear what’s going on in the rest of the country.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: Sure. Well, it’s always good to get around to the countries of eastern Washington and hold town halls, invite people to come and ask questions.

I’m also visiting all the high schools. I’ve been to several high schools over the last couple of weeks. I represent several colleges and universities, and going on campus.

At the town halls, what I like to talk about and where I always lead is just that this is representative government, and just how much I cherish representative government, and what an honor it is to serve in the House, the peoples’ House. The battle of ideas that takes place.

I always like to highlight the economy. And in eastern Washington our economy is good, just like it is all over the country. If anything, we have a shortage of skilled workers and affordable housing. We need more plumbers and pipe fitters, and welders.

But the questions that I’ve been asked more just the last few days, I usually get asked about the cost of health care. That continues to be a big challenge, especially for families, small businesses, those that are in the individual market. Rising premiums, copays, the deductibles. That continues to be a question that they ask.

Those on the left, there seems to be quite an organized effort to show up and ask about the Green New Deal. There’s usually one or two, or maybe even more, that will ask, “What about the Green New Deal?”

Which, when you explain at least what we’ve seen to date, we’re talking $93 trillion in cost on this country, it quickly changes that conversation.

Bluey: I bet there are issues that you’re not hearing about as well that are really different from what it seems some in Washington want to focus on. The Mueller report and impeachment and everything else that comes along with that.

McMorris Rodgers: I’ve not been asked about that once.

Bluey: Wow.

McMorris Rodgers: As I have been in these town meetings, at the schools, I have not been asked about it once. Yet that dominates the news, obviously.

Bluey: It certainly does. When you’re meeting with high school students, what’s on their minds and do they think about this move by some in Congress to give 16-year-olds the opportunity to vote?

McMorris Rodgers: It’s been fun to ask them directly that question. I’ve been to several high schools and I remember the first time I asked that question I wasn’t sure how would they respond.

The teacher had said, “Well, Cathy, can you ask them a question maybe on something that’s going on right now in Congress?”

It was days after we had taken that vote in the House whether or not to allow 16-year-olds to vote.

I asked them the question and not one in that class raised their hand. Then I said, “Well, over 100 representatives in the House voted yes. Over 300 voted no, so it failed.”

But I’ve continued to ask that question and I might get one or two, but the large, large majority of them say, “No, probably not the best idea.”

Bluey: You mentioned the economy earlier. I know that that’s important for people young, people who are working and really everybody, whether it’s in eastern Washington or all across this country.

… What’s fueling this economic growth? We continue to see it whether it’s the S&P and Nasdaq hitting new records or the GDP surpassing expectations. What does that mean for your constituents in eastern Washington?

McMorris Rodgers: What that means is that the people that I represent in eastern Washington have more opportunities because the job is the opportunity.

We celebrate America as this land of opportunity. It starts with the job, right? You get that first job and then you get a better paying job.

So when we’re celebrating a record economic growth and record jobs, the fact that we have more job openings than people seeking jobs, we’re celebrating people that are coming off the sidelines.

Those that had given up on finding a job are now getting back into the workforce. That means people have more opportunities. People in eastern Washington, for the longest time we would talk about how we would lose our young people. …

I live in a great corner of the world. We have a great quality of life, and yet so often after high school young people would feel like they have to leave. Or even if they stayed to go to one of our colleges or universities, they would leave after that to find a good paying job.

… We had 9,000 new jobs in Spokane County in the last year. That is great news and that means that they can stay. They can stay in Spokane, stay in eastern Washington, live this great quality of life, raise their family, start a business. You know what also it means? It means that people have freedom to take those ideas and do something with it. That is what freedom and free markets has meant.

America has led the world in innovation and breakthroughs, and I’m always inspired by those stories of the individual that started in their basement or their kitchen with an idea and then built a company. Manufacturing or a new service, a new product. When we have a good economy, it means that there’s more opportunities for that.

Bluey: It certainly is and I appreciate your passion for it. I know you come from a family that had a small business. So that is certainly an area where whether it’s passing tax cuts or working on regulatory issues, certainly Republicans in Congress made a significant impact in the first two years of the Trump administration.

McMorris Rodgers: That was our priority.

Bluey: That’s absolutely true.

McMorris Rodgers: It was to get our economy going. You remember President Barack Obama, he was talking about the new normal. That this record-low economic growth and … coming out of the Great Recession, he said this is just a new normal.

As the Republican majority, along with our president, Donald Trump, have taken on eliminating those regulations and lifting the regulatory stranglehold and the tax burden.

We’ve seen just an amazing response within our economy. Small businesses are the engine of our economy, and I’m grateful to have been raised on an orchard where we had a fruit stand.

It was very family owned and operated. Grateful for that foundation, but we want to keep that going. So that economic growth means that the engine of our economy, and especially small businesses, can do better.

Bluey: You are also known as somebody who has a care and compassion for children. You yourself are a mother of three, and somebody who’s spoken out very directly about the impact that they’ve had on your life in such a positive way.

I want to ask you about some of the debates that we’re seeing play out in other states around the country, whether it be New York passing a law that allows abortion right up until birth or the Virginia governor stating publicly his belief in infanticide, and things of that nature.

What does that say about our culture and how can we go about changing that and bringing more value to the sanctity of life?

McMorris Rodgers: Right. I so want a culture that values life, that celebrates life, celebrates every life and that potential, the dignity, and the value of every life.

Boy, when I heard what New York had done, the law that they had passed and the governor of Virginia and his [comments] … I was shocked first and foremost at the idea that a baby who had survived an abortion outside the womb would not be given health care.

So we have immediately gone to work on the born-alive legislation. It has been more difficult than it should be. In my mind, this should be a no-brainer, and especially today with the life-saving treatments and technology that we have.

Our health care system is one that is about saving lives. … We do a lot. We lead the world in saving lives, and yet this idea that somehow a baby that’s born alive would not be given health care, it’s really a shocking commentary on our culture and the devaluing of life.

In our Declaration of Independence it says it so well. You just go back to our foundation … This is a country where we’re based upon a pursuit. It’s life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Bluey: Right.

McMorris Rodgers: Life is pretty fundamental and we need to make sure that we’re celebrating that life either before the life is born or after it’s born. And certainly the born-alive legislation should be something that we can pass.

Bluey: Absolutely. It’s currently a discharged petition, which means Republicans have signed it and you’ve had a few Democrats who have also put their names on it, but you need more Democrats in order for it to get to that number, 218, to have a vote on the House floor.

I want to ask you about what you’ve experienced in terms of the difference now that the Democrats are in control of the House. Republicans seem to have thrown a few curve balls at them with motions to recommit and forcing votes that they might not have wanted to take.

What is it like, in your own experience, having gone from Republicans being in the majority to now Democrats controlling Congress?

McMorris Rodgers: It’s night and day. It’s very different. We were just talking about the born-alive legislation.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to bring that up for a vote in the House of Representatives. That means that our only recourse to force that vote is the discharge petition, and it means that we have to file it, we have to get 218 signatures in order to get it released from Speaker Pelosi. Then you have to wait for a certain amount of time before you can have the vote.

When you’re in the majority, you are setting the agenda. You are setting the calendar.

For the last eight years the Republicans had been in the majority in the House. We had been setting the agenda, which meant we led on tax reform. We led on a whole series of bills that were lifting the regulatory burden.

And now that’s all being done by Speaker Pelosi, it’s just a very different agenda. Unfortunately, it appears that she’s more interested in the presidential race and votes of … It’s just basically show votes.

We’ve done more resolutions this year. They’re not putting forward legislative solutions, they’re just putting forward resolutions. It’s more they just want to be able to grandstand and talk about an issue rather than really sit down and do the tough work of legislating.

Bluey: Yeah, getting things done. No, absolutely.

You have a couple of political celebrities in this new class—I’m talking about the congresswoman from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar—who made a lot of news themselves.

Have you had much interaction with them or, as somebody who’s served in Congress, how do you get back to avoiding these headlines and actually getting things done on behalf of the American people?

McMorris Rodgers: Right. It seems that they’re more interested in headlines. I term them celebrity politicians, right? They’re not about actually building relationships or doing the hard work of legislating.

What is most frightening is that they are openly promoting a socialist agenda for Americans. This is the first time that I’ve ever seen it quite at this level.

I’m reminding the high school students that I visit and colleges that socialism and human rights do not coexist.

You look at the history: Socialism doesn’t celebrate every person, individual rights and human rights, and make sure that their potential is being reached. Socialism is a few people that get to make the decisions for the rest of the country.

Bluey: We’re talking about the growing economy. If you look at Heritage’s own Index of Economic Freedom, you see the socialism countries don’t provide that freedom for the people who live in places like Venezuela or North Korea. The countries that do are those who are the most economically free.

McMorris Rodgers: Yes, yes.

Bluey: Glad to hear you’re telling the high school students about that.

McMorris Rodgers: Well, yes. It’s free markets, capitalism, free markets that allows you to take that idea that you have.

We’re creative people, right? We have ideas. We’re always in search of that more perfect union, and we’re always coming up with new ideas to improve our lives. It’s in a free-market society that you can actually do something with that idea. You don’t have to ask permission of the government. And yet socialism is all controlled by a few.

That’s where … America has led the world in. … You think about health care and all the breakthroughs and new innovations. We have led the world and … we’ve lifted more people out of poverty. We’ve raised the standard of living higher than any other country in the world, and it’s because we are a free people.

Bluey: One of the other things that comes with economic freedom often is trade, and I have heard you talk about the importance of trade, particularly to Washington state, and how reliant Washington state is on having a free trade.

McMorris Rodgers: Yes.

Bluey: We have an opportunity here coming up, perhaps, with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which the president has negotiated.

What can you tell us about that or what prospects there might be in this Congress to take some action on trade and really help the economy grow even more?

McMorris Rodgers: Ninety-five percent of the consumers live outside of the United States of America. My vision is that America is a country that grows, that manufactures, that produces, innovates, and then sells it to the rest of the world.

In Washington state, we are. We are the most trade dependent state in the country. It’s estimated one out of every three jobs is dependent upon trade, and that is the fact that we export so much of our agriculture.

Apples, potatoes, and wheat. We export Boeing airplanes. We export Microsoft and Amazon products, and we sell it to people all over the world.

The USMCA is really important. I’m on the whip team. This is a modernization of NAFTA that the Trump administration has led. Getting USMCA approved is going to be very important.

was just down at the White House a few weeks ago, we were strategizing on how to get it done.

Part of USMCA is calling for some labor reforms in Mexico. We hope that Mexico will do that by the end of April. The clock is ticking there. Then ITC has issued its recommendations.

Once that’s in place, then the administration plans to send USMCA up to Congress and the clock will start ticking. We’ll have 60 days to get it done. My hope is that we’ll get that done by August and then we can move onto other important trade agreements with Japan and others.

I also want to just express appreciation to our president for what he’s doing with China, and being tough on China. No other administration has been willing to do that.

China has not been a good actor. China has not been honoring intellectual property rights or playing by the rules of the road.

This administration is holding China accountable. That’s very important so that China isn’t the one that’s setting the trade agenda, but it will be an agenda that’s driven by freedom-loving countries.

Bluey: We appreciate your interest in that issue, and I’m glad to learn a little bit about Washington state myself. I did not realize some of that information you shared.

Finally, I want to ask you a question about some people that you’ve tried to hold accountable. That is the big tech companies.

You have been an outspoken advocate on behalf of conservatives to make sure that their content isn’t suppressed, there’s not censorship. Why is that issue so important to you?

McMorris Rodgers: It’s pretty fundamental. It’s the First Amendment. It’s freedom of speech.

The public square today, a lot of the debate takes place on these platforms, these giant platforms. It’s so important that we are protecting that freedom of speech, and that conservative voices are not being stifled, and that we have a real freedom of that debate within the public square on the tech platforms.

… I’m also looking at privacy, how we make sure that we have transparency around what’s actually being collected, how it’s being used. There’s been too many surprises recently about information that’s being used in ways that no one was aware of.

Bluey: Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, thanks so much for spending time with The Daily Signal.

McMorris Rodgers: Great to be with you. Thank you.

The post This Congresswoman Has a Warning for High Schoolers About Socialism appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Heritage Foundation Blueprint Would Balance Budget While Cutting Taxes, Stressing Defense

Heritage Foundation - Mon, 2019-05-20 18:57

Balancing the budget while reducing taxes and prioritizing national defense are the main goals in a blueprint for smarter government spending released Monday by The Heritage Foundation.

The think tank’s new “Blueprint for Balance” “lays out an agenda both for our long-term governing vision [and] what our conservative policy priorities [are] that we want lawmakers to champion,” Romina Boccia, director of Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, said during a roundtable with reporters to introduce the plan.

“Overall,” Boccia said, the blueprint specifies “what Republicans especially should be pushing for in the spending bills in order to realize conservative policy priorities and reduce spending in accordance with our values.”

The Budget Control Act, passed in 2011, sought to curb government spending and control the growth of government programs, capping discretionary spending at $1.07 trillion for fiscal year 2018.

Justin Bogie, a senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at Heritage, wrote in a recent commentary that congressional Democrats are looking to raise the Budget Control Act’s caps on discretionary spending by at least $357 billion over 2020 and 2021.

Heritage’s “Blueprint for Balance,” if implemented, would reduce spending by $10.8 trillion over 10 years and eliminate budget deficits by 2029, as well as permanently extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and reduce taxes by $800 billion.

During a second event in which Heritage presented its blueprint to congressional staff, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., drew comparisons between the document and a budget released May 1 by the Republican Study Committee.

“We get a large task force and members with unique perspectives in a room and hash out differences and avoid some of the land mines that might cause some members not to vote for it,” Banks said of arriving at the Republican Study Committee budget.

“And that’s why I think our budget proposal this year is as strong as ever and very important for all of you to pay attention to because it has that broad support and it still balances [in] six years.”

However, neither the RSC budget nor the Heritage proposal has much of a hope of making it onto the House floor for a vote, given the Democrat majority led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.  

“While we wanted to avoid our budget proposal being aspirational per se, we aren’t naive enough to [think] that Nancy Pelosi [is] going to put the RSC budget on the floor,” Banks said.

Government funding runs out Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2019.

The Hill reported earlier this month that lawmakers suggested another government shutdown could occur if Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on funding, including a $19 billion disaster aid bill passed May 10 by House Democrats that is opposed by the Trump administration.

The Heritage plan, which would balance the budget within 10 years, would expand the Republican tax reform plan signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2017.

Specifically, it would end 29 tax subsidies and make permanent both the individual tax cuts and the ability of businesses to fully expense investments in equipment.

“This is something that wasn’t included in the president’s budget but is a really important piece of extending the entire Tax Cuts and Jobs Act going forward,” Adam Michel, senior policy analyst at Heritage’s Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, said during the roundtable.

“And if we can pay down our debt and start balancing the budget, there are real economic dividends beyond all of the other benefits of getting the government out of our lives in various different ways,” Michel said.

Bogie said similarities between the RSC and Heritage budgets include permanently extending the 2017 tax cuts; providing another $850 billion in tax relief; prioritizing defense spending; and significantly reducing nondefense discretionary programs that fall outside the government’s constitutional responsibilities.  

“Both budgets undertake comprehensive entitlement reform,” Bogie said in an email to The Daily Signal. “One of the most important aspects is that both budgets balance in 10 years and significantly reduce debt as a share of GDP.”

The post Heritage Foundation Blueprint Would Balance Budget While Cutting Taxes, Stressing Defense appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

100 Years Ago, the House Voted for Women’s Suffrage. Here’s the Back Story.

Heritage Foundation - Mon, 2019-05-20 18:55

It’s been nearly a century since the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting women the right to vote.

As the House of Representatives celebrates its role in starting the amendment process this week, it’s worth examining how and why the 19th Amendment became the law of the land.

Support for the measure did not occur overnight—passage was a slow, gradual process. But what many don’t appreciate is that the 19th Amendment, though a landmark achievement, did not represent the beginning of female political power in America. Instead, its passage showed that women already wielded widespread influence in society even before they were guaranteed the right to vote.

Generations of Americans laid the groundwork for the amendment’s adoption as state after state granted women the right to vote. That trend culminated in a national amendment because an overwhelming majority of Americans—both men and women—became convinced that it was necessary.

The Early Republic

It would be a mistake to think that Thomas Jefferson’s line in the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal,” simply meant equal rights for males and not females.

Rights guaranteed under the Constitution—such as the rights of free speech and the right to bear arms—applied equally to men and women alike with no qualification from the very beginning.

What was often restricted in our early history were civil rights for women—like voting and running for office.

But, contrary to popular opinion, that exclusion was not absolute. Many women in certain states were allowed to vote prior to the 19th Amendment, even before the adoption of the Constitution.

According to historian Thomas G. West, New Jersey’s 1776 constitution gave the franchise to all inhabitants “of full age, who are worth 50 pounds proclamation money, clear estate in the same, and have resided within the county in which they claim a vote for 12 months immediately preceding the election.”

This allowed women to vote throughout the state, a policy that was reinforced in 1790 when the constitution was revised to add “he or she” to the language on voting rights. The law was deeply expansive for its time, allowing both women and black citizens the right to vote. Unfortunately, those provisions regarding women and black citizens were rolled back during a fierce partisan battle in the state in 1807.

According to West, women were voting outside New Jersey—including on the local level in Massachusetts—as well during this era. Interestingly enough, in the early 19th century as voting rights expanded for non-property holding white males across America, voting rights occasionally decreased for women, as in the case of New Jersey.

During this era, women voted in small numbers compared to men, since they could only vote in New Jersey and a few towns dotting the American landscape. But while the franchise wasn’t universal, there was no serious movement to make it so.

That would change in the mid-19th century.

Seneca Falls Declaration of 1848

In the mid- and late-19th century, the women’s rights movement began to coalesce around three big agenda items: the abolition of slavery, equal treatment of women under the law, and temperance, which at the time was a growing movement.

Perhaps the most important precursor to the passage of the 19th Amendment was the Seneca Falls Declaration of 1848, passed at a women’s rights convention attended by many anti-slavery abolitionists.

Some of the most famous women in American history attended that convention, including Lucretia Mott, an abolitionist Quaker and leading social reformer in her day, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, another abolitionist and women’s suffrage activist who did more than anyone to lay the groundwork for the 19th Amendment.

Among the most hotly contested provisions in the Seneca Falls Declaration was the call for women to secure the right to vote. That provision was eventually included thanks to the support of Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist.

Stanton would spend the rest of her life building momentum for women’s voting rights. She co-authored the six-volume “History of Woman Suffrage,” along with other leading women’s rights activists, including Susan B. Anthony.

Anthony’s work in particular was so critical to the passage of the 19th Amendment that it was actually called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, even though it passed in 1919, more than 10 years after her death.

It was during Anthony’s lifetime that many states, especially Western ones, began to guarantee women’s voting rights.

Wyoming’s law dated back to 1869 when it was still a territory, and several other Western states passed suffrage laws for women in the late-19th century.

These laws reflected, in part, a growing desire of less populous Western states to up their voting strength relative to the more populous Eastern states. But they also reflected the power of highly organized local women’s suffrage organizations that fed off of the arguments made by Stanton, Anthony, and other leading voices of their national movement.

Passage of the 19th Amendment

By the early 20th century, Americans became overwhelmingly convinced that it would take a constitutional amendment to secure women’s suffrage. This was due in part to a Supreme Court ruling in 1875, which said that equal protection under the 14th Amendment did not apply to women. After that ruling, a number of states continued to deny women the vote.

The amendment process began in 1878, when Sen. Aaron A. Sargent, a Republican from California, introduced what would become the 19th Amendment. In the decades that followed, momentum built across the country to fix what many Americans saw as a flaw in their system.

On May 21, 1919, the amendment finally passed in the House and was shortly thereafter passed in the Senate. It was then passed by three-quarters of the states and went into law in 1920, just in time for the presidential election.

The 19th Amendment reads, simply:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The 19th Amendment is a textbook example of how the amendment process is designed to work. In a sense, it should serve as a rebuke to those who today want to effect sweeping constitutional changes outside the carefully crafted amendment process.

Fundamental changes to our Constitution are meant to come about only as a large majority of the public come to embrace them. That’s the story of the 19th Amendment.

The post 100 Years Ago, the House Voted for Women’s Suffrage. Here’s the Back Story. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

I Had 3 Abortions. Here’s Why I’m Fully Behind Alabama’s Pro-Life Law.

Heritage Foundation - Mon, 2019-05-20 17:39

Alabama rocked the news cycle with its near-total abortion ban signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week, and to hear the mainstream media tell it, the law is human trafficking in disguise; it echoes communist-era Albania; and miscarriages will land women behind bars.

What none of these stories mention is the life-crippling abortion regret that thousands of women may be spared. As a woman who has experienced abortion, I’d like to share some insights about the impact that “choice” has had on me and millions of other women.

Abortion hurt me, and I am not alone.

According to afterabortion.org, women who aborted their pregnancies were 31% more likely to suffer health complications, visit doctors 80% more often than women who did not abort, and sought mental health care 180% more often.

The proliferation of after-abortion recovery programs, both faith-based and secular, speaks to the fact that women are suffering unanticipated after-effects of abortion for years, or even decades.

I had three abortions, and I’m not alone in this either. Statistics have shown that 45% of women who have an abortion will have had one or more prior abortions. Ten years ago, a woman named Irene Vilar wrote a book about her 15 abortions, and even some abortion supporters found themselves speechless.

Raised in middle-class America, I had everything going for me. A home in the suburbs, a love for art and drama, and parents who tried to provide everything for me.  

I went to public school in the late 1980s. In health class, we were taught about “safe sex.” One birthday, my aunt gave me the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” a feminist manifesto that pushed the concept of sexual liberation. Reading it, I felt empowered and educated.

When I got pregnant at 15, my parents thought abortion was my only choice and forced me to terminate the life of my innocent child. Depression overtook my life, and I turned to drugs, alcohol, and a series of unhealthy relationships.  

I got pregnant again at 18. This time, it was my decision to have the abortion because I thought it was the only solution. I had my final abortion at 22, just six months after the birth of my first (living) child.

I was forced to decide between the “security” of keeping my infant’s father involved in our lives, or the prospect of having this second baby on my own. I would be a single mother of two babies. I chose abortion, but the man I sacrificed my child for would be out of my life within a few short years.  

I wish my story was unique, but it’s not.

On the Silent No More website, there are thousands of stories just like mine. Women who have chosen abortion talk of unhealthy relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, multiple abortions, and mental health issues.  

Some of us become workaholics, while some of us find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it’s hard to bond with children born after abortion, or the opposite is true: Women who have had abortions can become helicopter mothers, afraid to let their children out of their sight.

Abortion changes each and every one of us.

I saw a photo recently of a woman holding a sign that read, “My abortion was fabulous.” Her abortion changed her, too.

Many Silent No More women talk about becoming involved in the pro-choice movement as a way to validate their own choices. Eventually, though, each one of us has had to face the truth that our choice was fatal to our own children.

The latest effort of abortion supporters to normalize this lethal procedure is the #YouKnowMe campaign that asks women to come out of the shadows and declare that they have had an abortion.

This is what the women of Silent No More have been doing since 2002, with much less support from the mainstream media.

The truth is that everyone probably knows at least one woman who has lost a child to abortion, and many of us were broken by the experience. Abortion was not the solution we thought it would be.

New laws in Alabama and Georgia, with Missouri on deck, will save babies’ lives, but they also will spare women the pain that I and my Silent No More sisters have endured.

But it would be a mistake to applaud these laws and walk away. Women facing unexpected pregnancies will still feel the panic that comes with a positive pregnancy test, and we cannot abandon them. Abortion advocates say women will go back to trying to self-abort, and that would be a tragedy.

Those of us who are pro-life and who have fought for or supported these abortion restrictions have to be willing to step up. We have to support pregnancy resource centers with our donations, our time, and our expertise. We have to make sure we are part of #YouKnowMe and #ShoutYourAbortion and tell our stories publicly whenever we have the chance.

We have to be willing to listen to the fears of a woman or a girl who thinks a pregnancy will derail her life and help persuade her that she is strong enough for whatever is coming.

A pro-abortion study often cited by the mainstream media talks about the dire consequences faced by women who want abortion, but are turned away. But buried deep in a New York Times Magazine story about the study is one very interesting statistic: Just 5% of those who are turned away suffer consequences; the other 95% “adjust.”

It’s our job now to help make that adjustment as easy as possible for women in states where abortion is no longer so readily available. It’s up to us to help mothers understand that an unexpected pregnancy is a blessing, not a curse.

The post I Had 3 Abortions. Here’s Why I’m Fully Behind Alabama’s Pro-Life Law. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

The War on History Comes for George Washington

Heritage Foundation - Mon, 2019-05-20 17:33

They finally came for George Washington.

The perpetual war on history now has the father of our country in its sights as the San Francisco Board of Education considers removing a mural of Washington from a local school.

If the board succeeds in politicizing Washington, whose legacy was once so secured and uniting that his home at Mount Vernon was considered neutral ground during the Civil War, then we have clearly crossed the Rubicon of social division.

Critics of the mural point out that, in addition to Washington, it also depicts slaves and Native Americans—and one of the Native Americans appears to be dead.

They have called the artwork offensive, and the school board says it “traumatizes students” and “glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc.,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

But the original intent of the mural was actually the exact opposite.

It was painted in 1936 by artist Victor Arnautoff, a man of the left in his own time who, according to historian Fergus M. Bordewich, wanted to depict Washington in a less glamorized way by including images of disturbing realities. Bordewich explained:

[Arnautoff] included those images not to glorify Washington, but rather to provoke a nuanced evaluation of his legacy. The scene with the dead Native American, for instance, calls attention to the price of ‘manifest destiny.’ Arnautoff’s murals also portray the slaves with humanity and the several live Indians as vigorous and manly.

Those who condemn the murals have misunderstood it, seeing only what they sought to find. They’ve also got their history seriously wrong. Washington did own slaves—124 men, women and children—and oversaw many more who belonged to his wife’s family. But by his later years he had evolved into a proto-abolitionist, a remarkable ethical journey for a man of his time, place, and class.

No matter to the modern iconoclasts. It’s too much to expect one to think about what one is rushing to destroy. Obliterate now and ask questions, well, never.

This is just the latest example of attempts to purge American history of its historical figures. Not only is this trend wildly misguided—how destroying statues and paintings bring an end to racism and prejudice is never fully explained—but it also cheapens the debate over America’s past by ignoring nuance.

From the beginning, it was clear that this movement had far less to do with genuinely criticizing past historical figures, but instead reflected the need of modern radicals to feel good about themselves and think they are “doing something” to stop oppression, be it real or imaginary.

Reflection and thoughtfulness are uncomfortable impediments to those who never dare question whether they are on the “right side of history.”

It makes sense that the same people who seek to de-platform individuals for wrongthink on social media and shut down controversial speakers at universities are the same people who want to erase artwork and monuments. The common thread is for their views to be constantly reinforced and never challenged from without.

The unthinking maxims of intersectionality and identity politics must be recited over and over again from all sectors of society. No alternate views can be tolerated. Such teachings soothe the minds of radicals who can easily ignore the moral complications of life from the safe comforts of their college campuses and public buildings. (Those, of course, are made possible by the wicked people they seek to extinguish.)

Doubt, skepticism, and the use of reason are uncomfortable and problematic.

It didn’t take long for the iconoclasts to move from Jefferson Davis to Thomas Jefferson, and then from Jefferson to the most revered of our Founding Fathers, George Washington.

What’s truly revealing about the empty, surface-level nature of these efforts is how little cost is involved for those doing the erasing.

Criticizing slavery and racism in 2019 can get one tenure, public office, and a six-figure salary as a corporate consultant. So brave.

It’s easy to cover up or take down a painting, not so easy to sacrifice the immense benefits of living in the prosperous constitutional republic that problematic men like Washington created.

As David Marcus wrote for The Federalist, it was easy to get rid of Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” recording at Yankee games due to her singing what are now considered offensive songs in the 1930s—but are Yankee fans willing to abolish the Yankees themselves because of their team’s historical role in segregation?

For that matter, are Harvard University administrators and professors willing to give up their jobs at an institution founded in part by a man who owned slaves because its origin was problematic?

Not likely.

It’s far more satisfying to take the less costly step of tearing down a painting or a statue. And it’s much easier to avoid the complicated fact that so many of these supposedly ignorant and prejudiced people built the very institutions they enjoy today.

In their simplistic thinking, surely those who founded a free republic based on consent, and truly “broke the wheel” of tyranny that had been the norm for virtually all of human history, couldn’t be great if slavery was still a part of their heritage.

They failed to live up to their own ideals, so they best be erased.

But to follow this logic forward, we can’t stop with the Founders.

The over half-million Americans who lost their lives and countless others who risked them to end slavery, the “original sin” of this country, also weren’t so great, you see.

Their skin was generally too fair, their motivations insufficiently pure, and most were undoubtedly homophobes who couldn’t have conceived of modern concepts like gay marriage or a man literally becoming a woman.

How can men like President William McKinley, who could simply be attacked for other reasons, be celebrated?

They can’t. They too must be obliterated.

Greatness, according to the history erasers, truly belongs to the wokescolds who wage hashtag campaigns to raise awareness about offensive art and ensure society conforms to their ever-evolving whims.

But the truth is, those who wage war on America’s history are tacitly acknowledging the benefits of living in America, a free country that allows them to pursue their radical activism, even though it is antithetical to the founding ideals that enable free speech.

These movements are forcing politics to infect every corner of our existence, and that weakens this country. It makes us more hateful toward one another and trains us in the un-American notion that to win arguments, we must quash, liquidate, and erase from all memory those we disagree with.

The Washington mural may come down in San Francisco, but the real damage is not being done to the art. It’s being done to the legacy of Washington, to ourselves.

The past is an easy target for iconoclast bullies, but if Americans don’t want them to keep winning, they will have to begin standing up and speaking out against them.

If not, the destruction of our statues and artwork will merely be symbolic of the destruction done to our country at large.

The post The War on History Comes for George Washington appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

How Charter Schools Empower Inner-City Children to Escape Failing Public Schools

Heritage Foundation - Mon, 2019-05-20 16:40

Butler College Prep, a top-rated charter school on the South Side of Chicago, provides an atmosphere that reflects and engages the local community.

The founder and principal, Christopher Goins, built his school community by intentionally hiring teachers from Historically Black Colleges so students would have relatable role models.

“If [students] don’t love the school and enjoy learning, then they are not going to learn. And it goes back to what research states,” Goins, noting the importance of a tailor-made education, told Ebony magazine. “Those of us who grew up black know that we respond to a supportive family-like environment, a place that understands who we are and appreciates who we are.”

Butler College Prep is just one example of successful public charter schools that operate with less funding and greater autonomy.

Instead of being trapped by their ZIP codes, the advent of charter schools meant that low-income parents were no longer compelled by the government to send their children to assigned district schools. Parents could vote with their feet for the first time.

For many low-income families who live in America’s inner cities, a feeling of helplessness is entrenched by high crime rates, gang activity, and cycles of intergenerational poverty. So, families are eager for the chance to choose their children’s schools.

Safety, innovative curricula, and unique missions give public charter schools the opportunity to impact specific communities and tailor their programs to them. In fact, charter schools impact student achievement most among low-income and academically struggling students.

For example, CBS News reported on a 2013 study that found that “black students gained the equivalent of 14 days of learning by attending charter schools, but that black students living in poverty saw even greater benefits, the equivalent of 29 days in reading and 36 days in math.”

But charter schools do more than just increase academic gains, they create environments where children feel safer and receive character and values instruction—two of the top three priorities for parents.

For instance, New York charter schools are safer than their district school counterparts. As Max Eden from the Manhattan Institute observed, “While every charter school is different, and the advantage is not universal, the conclusion is unmistakable: From a parent’s perspective, a charter school is frequently the safest option in the neighborhood.”

Another advantage of charter schools is their autonomy, which allows them to innovate in the classroom and to create a specialized environment.

For instance, Democracy Prep Charter School, which aims to increase civic participation among low-income and minority students, is a prime example of how charter schools instill values in students.

Researchers found that students enrolled at Democracy Prep were more likely to register to vote and to vote in the 2016 election.

Opponents of charter schools, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., argue that charter schools drain funds from district public schools and prevent integration. In their minds, charter schools need greater regulations to protect taxpayer dollars.

Higher regulations, however, can have adverse, unintended consequences.

Jonathan Butcher, senior policy analyst in the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, discovered public school districts rife with waste and fraud.

“There are districts with excess administrative spending, vacant buildings supported by taxpayer resources, fraud, and theft … . State lawmakers should require school districts to clean up the books … ,” he wrote.

Similarly, the California Policy Center discovered wasteful spending in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which provided pay bumps totaling $519 million annually to teachers who took classes directly related to any subject taught in the school district.

Or take the billions wasted on bumps to teacher salaries due to master’s of arts degrees. As Harvard economist Thomas Kane commented, “Paying teachers on the basis of master’s degrees is equivalent to paying them based on hair color.”

The real drain on school district budgets comes from poor internal management and waste—not from quality charter-school alternatives for families. Due to their near-monopoly, district schools lack the market pressures that should incentivize them to respond to student needs.

Charter schools in Wisconsin, on the other hand, achieved better outcomes than district schools, according to a new study by Corey DeAngelis of the Reason Foundation.

He found that “private and independent charter schools tend to be more cost-effective than district-run public schools in the state overall and for the vast majority of individual cities.”

Similarly, charter schools in Oakland, California, and in Los Angeles achieved nearly equal outcomes while only operating at a fraction of the cost (63% and 73%, respectively).

Additionally, a 2017 meta-analysis of the literature on charter schools’ effect on integration found neutral to positive effect overall.

On the whole, charter schools break up the geographic district school monopoly. But most importantly, parents—not big government—choose the school that best fits their children’s needs. Charter schools empower parents and give many children from low-income families opportunities that they could not otherwise afford to attend.

The post How Charter Schools Empower Inner-City Children to Escape Failing Public Schools appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

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