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The Main Blog of Independent Institute

Parental Choice Smear Campaign Falls Flat
Monday August 21, 2017 | Vicki Alger

Opponents of parental choice in education have been in overdrive portraying private school scholarships (and by association, those who support or use them) as racist to diminish their popularity. Results from a new national poll suggest opponents’ strategy isn’t working. According to the 11th annual Education Next  poll public support for a variety of private...
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A Unilateral Free Trade Policy Would Be Hugely Beneficial for Brexit Britain
Saturday August 19, 2017 | Kevin Dowd

My new monograph, A Trade Policy for a Brexited Britain, was published on Friday by the Institute of Economic Affairs. Here is a brief synopsis: Adam Smith once observed that “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far...
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Slavery and Justifications for Southern Secession in Their Own Words
Friday August 18, 2017 | Sam Staley

With the national debate over removing monuments to confederate war heroes dominating headlines, perhaps we need a reminder of the principles and justifications for southern secession for which these men fought. The following excerpts are from the articles of secession adopted by five states, and the ordinances of secession adopted by the legislatures, conventions,...
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Tax Reform V: Eliminate the Estate Tax
Friday August 18, 2017 | Randall Holcombe

The estate tax amounts to a penalty on the heirs of those who have accumulated wealth over their lifetimes. It raises less than 1% of federal revenues, so it provides almost no benefit to anybody, but imposes a big cost on a few. There are many ways for the wealthy to avoid the estate...
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Tax Reform IV: Corporate Tax Reform
Thursday August 17, 2017 | Randall Holcombe

The United States has one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world. While both the Obama administration and Trump administration have criticized American companies for moving operations off-shore, and considered a variety of policies for punishing them if they do, a better approach would be to design policies that make it...
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Review: Atomic Blonde‘s Stylish Action Bolstered by Duplicity of War
Wednesday August 16, 2017 | Sam Staley

Current events have bolstered Atomic Blonde‘s, giving the film substance beyond its role as a conventional summer action movie better at scoring at the box office than provoking thought. Accusations of Russian influence in domestic elections, eyebrow-raising flights by private jet by millionaires advising presidential candidates, and historically low levels of trust in information from...
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Tax Reform III: Tax Employer Health Care Benefits; Offer a Tax Credit to Health Insurance Purchasers
Wednesday August 16, 2017 | Randall Holcombe

In an earlier blog post I suggested eliminating all personal tax deductions, with a possible exception related to health care. One of the well-publicized problems with the American health care system is that employer-provided health insurance is not taxed, pushing us to a system in which people get health insurance from their employers. A...
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A Project of Independent Institute

Will Trump End Antiquities Act Road Show?
Monday August 21, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Since 1996, U.S. presidents have deployed the 1906 Antiquities Act to create 27 national monuments, including the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bear Ears, both in Utah, and the 1.6 million-acre Mojave Trails National Monument in California, created in early 2016. President Donald Trump calls this a “massive federal land grab” that unilaterally puts...
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Federal Government Layoffs in the Works
Monday August 21, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

For a very long time, the employees of the U.S. government have had it really good. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the combination of regular wages with extremely generous benefits puts the total compensation of the federal government employees well ahead of their peers in the private sector. But that’s not all. Downsizing...
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The Curse of Corporate Welfare
Thursday August 17, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

When it comes to the amount of money that’s wasted by governments, it’s hard to beat corporate welfare for both its size and its endurance. All too often, once a company is gifted with taxpayer money to “stimulate the economy” or to “stabilize the market” or to “keep jobs here”, it opens the door...
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Transit Boss Bonanza Stresses Taxpayers
Monday August 14, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

In California’s capital of Sacramento, rapid transit has been in terrible shape, but not for lack of spending on management. As we noted, after hiring Mike Wiley as manager, the RT district plunged into financial distress, tapping reserve accounts to balance its budget and raising fares 10 percent. Though a major bust as transit...
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The Return of the Debt Ceiling, 2017 Edition
Monday August 14, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

In what is almost an annual tradition now, the U.S. Congress will soon come up on the deadline where it must either approve a new increase in the statutory debt ceiling, the total amount of public debt outstanding that the U.S. government is officially allowed to have on its books, or risk defaulting on...
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A Failure to Execute in Washington D.C.
Thursday August 10, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

Earlier this week, MyGovCost celebrated the termination of a wasteful spending program that would save $10 million a year. That success however must be measured against Washington D.C.’s projected $4,100,000 million ($4.1 trillion) spending, where a $10 million reduction is not any more than the barest amount of nibbling around the edges. Part of...
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More Costs Flowing from Government Dam Negligence
Wednesday August 9, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

National Water Quality Month is turning out rather dry in California, but trouble will soon be washing up in court. Farmers and business owners have filed more than 90 claims against the state government for causing a total of $1.7 billion in losses from the spillway failure at Oroville Dam back in February. Might...
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