Civitas Review

Chicago Tribune calls for school choice


campus CCC

On Sunday the Chicago Tribune, that city's largest and most influential newspaper, added its voice to the growing public chorus calling for school choice in Illinois.

School choice has had a long, difficult road in the Land of Lincoln.   Strong labor unions have successfully beaten back all proposals to give parents an option to the current public school monopoly. However, Tribune editors — like people everywhere — see the wreckage created by the current failing system of public schools and are asking legislators to give parents the freedom to make their own choices.

It's time to stop letting luck, wealth or your zip code determine who gets a good education.

More Research on Unemployment Insurance's Impact on Employment


Last week my article on unemployment benefits was published in the N&O. The main premise was simple and noncontroversial: when you pay people not to work, the result will be more people not working. But apparently pointing out an obvious truth ruffles some feathers, judging from the several angry letters to the editor the article generated – with one such letter calling this self-evident bit of common sense "a stretch."

For additional reading on the subject (as if glaringly obvious common sense is not enough to persuade them) for these deniers, they can review some recent academic findings that confirm what should be obvious to any rationally thinking person: more generous and longer extended unemployment benefits translates into higher unemployment.

  • This 2012 paper by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank, that finds: "The extensions of UI benefits are found to have contributed to an increase in the unemployment rate of 1.4 percentage points, which is 29 percent of the observed increase in the unemployment rate (4.8 percentage points);" and "the December 2010 extension has moderately slowed down the recovery of the unemployment rate, keeping the rate 0.6 percentage point higher during 2011."
  • Or this 2013 National Bureau of Economic Research paper that states: "Our estimates imply that most of the persistent increase in unemployment during the Great Recession can be accounted for by the unprecedented extensions of unemployment benefit eligibility."
  • And this 2011 article by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank that concludes: "the extension of unemployment insurance benefits during the recent economic downturn can account for somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 percentage point of the increase in the unemployment rate, with a preferred estimate of 0.8 percentage points."
  • This research by Econ Journal Watch that suggests: "The UI benefit extensions that have occurred between the summer of 2008 and the end of 2010 are estimated to have had a cumulative effect of raising the unemployment rate by .77 to 1.54 percentage points."
  • And then there is this article written by former Obama economic advisor Larry Summers, in which he declares: "The second way government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment is by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work. Each unemployed person has a “reservation wage”—the minimum wage he or she insists on getting before accepting a job. Unemployment insurance and other social assistance programs increase that reservation wage, causing an unemployed person to remain unemployed longer."

A picture IS worth a thousand words


Sarah Arnett at the Mercatus Center has put together a number of interesting  maps ranking the fiscal condition of the 50 states by various indices such as cash solvency, budget solvency, long-run solvency and service-level solvency.   She also has a map that combines her four indices to provide an overall long-term ranking of states by fiscal condition. Access it here.

I hope Sarah doesn't mind if I add some other interesting information, care of our friends at State Vote

Top Ten Ranked States by Fiscal Solvency

  • Legislative Control – 8 – Republican; 1 Split; 1 N/A (Nebraska Unicameral)
  • Governor's Party – 9 Republicans; 1 Democrat
  • State Control: 7 – Republicans;  2 – Split ; 1 N/A (Nebraska Unicameral)

Bottom Ten Ranked States by Fiscal Solvency

  • Legislative Control – 8 Democrats; 1 – Republican,  1 – Split
  • Governor's Party –   8 Democrats ;  2- Republicans
  • State Control -  7 Democrats ; 1 – Republican; 2 – Split

Detect a pattern?…   Just thought you might be interested.

Remember the Race-Baiting City Councilman? There's More to the Story!


A previous Civitas blog post reported that Rocky Mount City Councilman and Witness Wednesday arrestee Andre Knight made comments which could easily be interpreted as calling a community leader a racist.  This happened when that community leader was presenting a petition for the City of Rocky Mount to have a public hearing on whether or not the city should build a proposed Event Center downtown. Wait a minute there is more to the story.

In the meeting, which took place Jan. 13, there was a proposal put forth to approve $67,430 to include a study that would be run by Visions Inc.  Senator Angela Bryant (D- Nash) runs this organization, and Rocky Mount City Councilman Lamont Wiggins  is on the board. The Rocky Mount Telegram reported that “(t)he intent of the plan was to assist the city in recognizing the importance of a diverse workforce reflective of the community as much as possible allowing the city to better understand and respond to citizens,” said Assistant City Manager Ann Wall in a memorandum to City Manager Charles Penny. “The intent of the plan was also to establish a workplace which values employees and encourages their development.” The study was approved that night, since September of 2012 the City of Rocky Mount will have spent $413,220 just on studies  for the City and for building of the proposed $43.6 million Event Center.  Citizens in the community are beginning to become upset that the city is spending the taxpayers’ money not only to help a local Senator and City Councilman but to also build an Event Center that is of questionable value.

Another thing to look at about the Visions study that was approved was the fact that it passed the City Council with a voice vote.  Some said “Aye”, no one said “No”, and no one recused themselves.  If LaMont Wiggins is on the board for Visions Inc. wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest for him to vote on the approval of the study?