The 'Obscure Educator' Who Invented Charter Schools

July 3, 2019 at 7:22 am

The idea that charter schools are some kind of Wall Street plot to privatize education is undercut by the history of their origin, I write at Education Next.

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The Theology of July 4

July 3, 2019 at 7:18 am

"Beliefs," a podcast of the Religion News Service, had me on recently to discuss what I call the theology of July 4. You can listen to it here. The Religion News Service described me as "author and academic Ira Stoll," which I must admit made me chuckle, at least the "academic" part. Best wishes to everyone for a patriotic, free, fun, and prosperous Independence Day.

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Facebook Versus The Fed

July 2, 2019 at 5:23 am

The new Facebook-backed digital currency known as the Libra is the topic of my column this week. Please check out the full column at Newsmax here and at the New York Sun here: "If Congress doesn't keep Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on his toes, maybe Mark Zuckerberg will."

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Earned Income Tax Credit

July 2, 2019 at 5:18 am

Adverse consequences of the earned income tax credit — a $63 billion-a-year federal program — are the subject of an article by Teresa Ghilarducci and Aida Farmand In the American Prospect, who argue that it puts downward pressure on wages. The states have their own earned income tax credits of varying generosity, and the credits are aimed mainly at working parents. That allows for the measurement of their effect:

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Democrat Miami 2019 Debate Exposes Rifts

June 27, 2019 at 6:55 am

Last night's presidential debate disclosed a Democratic Party with no real consensus on a series of major issues.

A 70% top income tax rate? New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came out in favor of it, but Beto O'Rourke would not.

Outlaw private health insurance and force those who now have it onto government-run plans like Medicare or Medicaid? Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor de Blasio were for it, while John Delaney, a former congressman from Maryland, warned that it would put hospitals out of business and punish union workers who had negotiated for health plans they like.

A congressman from Ohio, Tim Ryan, complained that the Democrats are too "coastal and elitist and Ivy League," and "are not connecting to the working people." Senator Warren is a Harvard Law School professor who lives in Cambridge, Mass.

A congressman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, insisted, "we have to bring our troops home" from Afghanistan. Congressman Ryan pressed for continued American engagement. "When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings," he said.

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Questions For the Democrats

June 26, 2019 at 7:13 am

Some suggested questions for the Democratic presidential debates taking place tonight and tomorrow are the topic of my column this week. "Is there any problem that you think the federal government can't solve and should give up on trying to solve? If so, what is it?" Please check the full column out at Newsmax here and at the New York Sun here.

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A Medal For Laffer

June 21, 2019 at 9:08 am

After the markets closed on Wednesday, President Trump honored Arthur Laffer with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At the ceremony, the name of the late, great editor of the Wall Street Journal, Bob Bartley, was invoked twice. Another Journal editorial page figure, Jude Wanniski, was mentioned three times. Steve Forbes was on hand in the Oval Office. The next day the stock market, as measured by the Standard and Poor's 500 Index, closed at a record high, notwithstanding U.S.-Iran military tensions. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but perhaps it was the wisdom of the crowd in understanding that a share in a company is worth more when the economy is growing, and when the tax laws allow a company's owners to keep a bigger share of the profits.

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Trump and Zoning

June 20, 2019 at 6:10 am

Offering up ideas for a Trump policy agenda for 2020 and a second term, the Wall Street Journal editorial page suggests, "He could put Democrats on the spot for high housing prices and homelessness by talking about restrictive zoning for elites and high property taxes."

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Trump Versus the Elites

June 19, 2019 at 7:44 am

The editor of the Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti, has an excellent column in the New York Times about why President Trump is likely to win reelection:

Behind the rise of outsider politicians such as Mr. Trump are the interrelated issues of unchecked immigration, terrorism and the imposition of carbon taxes and other measures to mitigate climate change. Elites' inability or lack of interest in tackling these problems — or even seeing them as problems — generates a crisis of representation in which large numbers of voters look for alternatives they cannot find within traditional political structures....What unites these issues is the idea that elites insulate themselves from the costs of the policies they impose on others.

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Robert Bernstein, Hong Kong, and Iran

June 19, 2019 at 6:37 am

The protests in Hong Kong may help restore American idealism about the chances for the spread of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law around the world, I write in my column this week. Please check it out in full at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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Eugenics and Immigration Law

June 19, 2019 at 6:31 am

Daniel Okrent's recent book The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America, is the topic of a book review I wrote for Education Next. It appears there under the headline "How Professors Helped Slam Shut America's Door." Please have a look and read all the way to the end, which takes a surprise twist. The link is here.

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How Many Extremely Poor in the U.S.?

June 5, 2019 at 5:43 am

Claims of "millions" of children in the U.S. mired in extreme poverty — that is, surviving on $2 or $4 a day — are exaggerated, a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds. The researchers checked people's claims on income surveys against administrative data from the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and the states. They found some of the households reported as extremely poor on income surveys actually had assets worth $1 million. The $2 a day households numbered about 285,000 and included almost zero children. Read the whole column please at Newsmax (here) and Reason (here).

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Conference on National Conservatism

May 29, 2019 at 6:11 am

The inaugural conference on national conservatism is the topic of my column this week. Speakers will include John Bolton, Tucker Carlson, Peter Thiel, and Christopher DeMuth. Please check out the full column at the New York Sun here.

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Zoning and Housing

May 23, 2019 at 6:07 am

From a piece by one of the New York Times' newest op-ed columnists, Farhad Manjoo:

where progressives argue for openness and inclusion as a cudgel against President Trump, they abandon it on Nob Hill and in Beverly Hills....

Reading opposition to SB 50 and other efforts at increasing density, I'm struck by an unsettling thought: What Republicans want to do with I.C.E. and border walls, wealthy progressive Democrats are doing with zoning and Nimbyism. Preserving "local character," maintaining "local control," keeping housing scarce and inaccessible — the goals of both sides are really the same: to keep people out.

The effect of regulation on housing affordability has been a long-running theme around here.

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The Daniel Ortega Democrats

May 21, 2019 at 5:08 am

My column this week begins:

Give the New York Times credit for publishing, over the weekend, a long investigative piece about the strange enthusiasm of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for the communist strongman Daniel Ortega, who ruled Nicaragua in the 1980s and is in power there again today.

It bears remembering, though, that the group of Democratic presidential candidates who might be described as Ortega groupies extends well beyond the self-described socialist senator from Vermont.

Please check out the full column at the New York Sun (here), Newsmax (here), and Reason (here).

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