Civitas Review

Human Lab Rats: "Science" Being Used to Defend the Welfare State


Defenders of the broken and destructive welfare state are getting more desperate. Case in point, check out this frightening article in the N&O, entitled "The Science of Lifting Kids Out of Poverty."  The author begins by informing readers about the results of a recent study:

In a study published this year in Nature Neuroscience, several co-authors and I found that family income is significantly correlated with children’s brain size – specifically, the surface area of the cerebral cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain that does most of the cognitive heavy lifting. Further, we found that increases in income were associated with the greatest increases in brain surface area among the poorest children.

Notice the study says it found only a correlation, no causation has been determined. And no mention of the number of parents in the household, nor no mention of how the household incomes increased (i.e. earned income vs. gov't handouts). But the author uses this study to inspire a more elaborate study.

That’s why I am part of a team of social scientists and neuroscientists planning a large clinical trial in which 1,000 low-income mothers will be randomly assigned to receive either a large ($333) or small ($20) monthly income supplement for the first three years of their children’s lives. Periodic assessments of the children and their mothers will enable us to estimate the impact of these cash supplements on children’s cognitive, emotional and brain development, as well as the effect on family functioning.

Yep, its come to this. Monitoring children's brain size and activity in response to the size of a welfare check. Why not just let them run through a maze to find a piece of cheese? This kind of human experimentation is appalling – and likely financed by your tax dollars.

Even more frightening is the author's insistence that "we" should not wait for  the results of this experiment to expand the welfare state – claiming that such programs are the only solution to protect children's "pliable brains" from the "ravages of poverty."

If this scientist is interested in reducing poverty, maybe she should actually look into what social institutions best facilitate the reduction of poverty. Here's a hint: its not the big government welfare state.

To quote Milton Friedman: "So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system."

Can we learn something from American manufacturing?


I bet you didn't know that last Friday, October 2nd was Manufacturing Day.  This graph by AEI's Mark Perry tells us why American manufacturing is the envy of the world.   

It didn't take long for folks to make the comparison with K-12 public education.  See Matt Ladner's post here.  We could add a whole raft of other pieces making the same point See Andrew Coulson at Cato, here and here, or others at Heritage. See here . No matter the author the point is clear: in education. outcomes do not equal investment.  Sadly, there are no simple solutions. One thing we should have learned however; significant improvements aren't likely to come through additional staffing.

CLF Fighting for Coastal Residents


Check out this News & Observer story about how our Center for Law and Freedom is helping some coastal residents fight plans to build 104 giant wind turbines in their area.

“I’m concerned it will make our beautiful county, quite frankly, ugly,” one resident said. “Each turbine is the size of the Washington Monument. These things are huge monstrosities.”

Residents, aided by Elliot Engstrom of the CLF, are fighting to ensure the project undergos a new regulatory review. Keep an eye on this blog and for news about how the lawsuit is progressing.

CON Exemption for Bellhaven Hospital Moves to House: Why Is This Necessary?


A bill that would exempt "legacy" medical care facilities from acquiring a Certificate of Need to operate has cleared the Senate and is heading to the House. An amendment to clarify the definition is credited with exempting the hospital in Belhaven.   

Some additional background via the Statesville News & Record

Health care company Vidant Health took over the Pungo Hospital in 2011 but closed it on July 1, 2014 in part due to operating losses and the hospital's aging building.

Vidant is now building an around-the-clock health facility, but it's not considered a hospital, which Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal and others say is needed for critical, emergency care now lacking between Beaufort County and the Outer Banks.

A nonprofit formed to reopen the hospital has been approved for a $6 million federal rural development loan provided in part there is a certificate of need — a state document affirming the hospital's necessity. The document wouldn't be necessary for an "existing hospital."

The certificate of need "is holding us up and stopping us from saving lives," O'Neal told the committee, adding "the bureaucrats in Raleigh are stopping us from opening our hospital up and it's wrong and we need some help."

O'Neal said in an interview hospital supporters believe they don't need a new certificate of need because the hospital had previously been open for more than 60 years. The process also would take a year and cost $500,000, and likely would be opposed by Vidant, the mayor said.

All this begs the question: why is all this necessary? Why does North Carolina continue to have restrictive, anti-competitive, bureaucratic CON laws on its books?

Its time to repeal these CON laws, which serve to drive up health care costs, bog down medical facilities in red tape, and restrict access to medical care.

Top GOP Candidates Zero in on North Carolina


As the GOP field begins to winnow, the top contenders for the Republican nomination have had their eyes on our own state of North Carolina.

This week, Dr. Ben Carson, currently in second place according to a just-released NBC/ WSJ poll, will be visiting Randleman and Winston-Salem to meet and greet North Carolinians. Donald Trump, still at the number one spot according to the same poll, also visited North Carolina to fund raise just last month. Jeb Bush was in Greensboro just three weeks ago. And Marco Rubio, who just shot up to third place in the NBC/WSJ poll, gave his stump speech to over a hundred people packed into a restaurant in a town outside of Charlotte last week. (Read NC Capitol Connection's full account of the Rubio event here.)

So why are the top candidates so focused on North Carolina? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that according to a new bill on the governor's desk for signature, NC has 72 delegates to offer. In order to win the GOP nomination and stand victorious at the convention next July, a candidate will need 1,235 delegates, making our 72 quite a chunk out of what they need to procure. In fact, this is a larger number than many other states with larger populations have to offer, making North Carolina a strategic state for the GOP primary.


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