a service of NPRI

August 18, 2005 
Vol. 1, No. 26


Eminent Domain
'Blight' code for property theft

By Thomas Bray
The Detroit News

The quote in last Tuesday's Bozeman Daily Chronicle - the paper of record in Bozeman, Mont., population 35,000, where my wife and I can often be found roaming the mountains - fairly leaped off the page: "Blight is downtown Detroit; it's not Bozeman, Montana."

The person being quoted was one Jackie Wilson, described as living in a corner of Bozeman that the city fathers had just declared "blighted," the first step in preparing an "urban renewal" plan. Wilson appeared to have a point. My wife and I happened to be driving through the "blighted" area the next day, and while some of the residential and commercial structures might be described as a bit ramshackle, it would be a stretch - at least for somebody from Detroit - to call the area blighted.

Thus it was no surprise that residents, concerned that the urban renewal plan is only a plot to throw them out of their homes to make way for the wealthy yuppies flocking to the Rocky Mountain's Front Range in search of "lifestyle," jammed the city commission to protest the designation.

"This is the last community in Bozeman still barely affordable and I'd like to see it stay the same," asserted Wilson.


All dead
How Bush's Social Security reform died

By Kevin A. Hassett

Social Security reform is dead. How it died tells us a lot about both U.S. political parties.

For a while, Social Security reform was like Westley, the hero of “The Princess Bride.” After his friends discovered him in a torture chamber, apparently dead, they took him to a miracle maker named Max to see if he could be revived.

After inspecting Westley, Max had good news. “There's different kinds of dead,” he said. “There's sort of dead, mostly dead and all dead. This fella here, he's only sort of dead.”

Until two weeks ago, Social Security reform was sort of dead. But now it seems to be all dead. The breakdown occurred when the administration backed away from a proposal making its way through the House of Representatives that would have introduced personal accounts without specifically restoring solvency to the system.


Federal statistics
What's wrong with economic growth?

By Antony Mueller
Mises Institute

Economic growth serves as the prominent standard for measuring the performance of an economy. However, what is published as the gross domestic product (GDP) does not represent production but reports overall spending. The calculation of economic growth is based on the nominal gross domestic product deflated by a price index. Thus, the figure for real economic growth is subject to two distortions: the indicator does not measure production but reports expenditures, and, secondly, the obtained number is dependent on the techniques that are applied to the calculation of the respective price indices. Economic growth figures can be determined in a fairly accurate way for an economy, which is in a primitive state and when only a few, easily identifiable and compoundable items are being produced, as it is the case with basic agricultural products. In the 1950s and 1960s it was thought that tons of steel could be used as a proxy for an objective estimate of economic performance. Nowadays, the figure for GDP gets all the attention, although the basis for its calculation its actually weaker than ever before.


WHY BusinessNevada

Blasting apart the
eduprotection racket

A distinguished professor reveals -- in a chatty, personal web log -- exactly how our colleges of education spread ignorance, rather than learning

By Steven Miller

If you’re an employer here in Nevada, there’s a very good chance that you’ve become thoroughly unimpressed with the graduates coming out of Nevada public schools.

Forty-two percent of Nevada employers rated their recently hired graduates as unsatisfactory overall, according to a recent survey conducted for the Nevada Policy Research Institute. Employers gave especially low ratings to recent graduates’ skills in mathematics, communication and problem solving.

Of course, after decades of spiraling-downward public-school performance scores, all around the nation, this is probably not exactly news to you.

But have you ever wondered exactly why public schooling, despite the humongous sums “invested” into it (doubling, in real dollars, over the last quarter-century), so often only grows worse?

One big part of the problem—and thus a clear area where demolition would mean major progress—is the teacher-training system, whether here in Nevada or across the country. Our colleges of education have for decades been gripped by a bizarre ideological paralysis. Within its frozen categories, the ed schools rarely, if ever, actually teach their students how to teach. The regimen that takes its place instead is almost entirely devoted to nonsensical and politically correct pap that subverts genuine educational values.

It is difficult for newcomers to the subject to grasp the scope and virulence of the pathology involved here. In the private sector, such a failure-centric operation would be bankrupt in a few months and replaced by something that works. But, hidden behind academic defenses in depth and political allies that share the same general ideology, the ed schools have for decades been able to conceal their scandalous fecklessness from the broader public—while continuing to suck up taxpayer resources.


New legislation
State eyes stake in energy law

By Kevin Rademacher

Across Nevada, and the nation, energy experts are sifting through more than 1,700 pages that make up the federal energy bill signed into law this week by President Bush.

They are looking for clues as to how the long-awaited piece of legislation might affect utilities, renewable energy developers and customers when a series of new rules and mandates take shape.

Interested parties ranging from power company executives to the state consumer advocate praised efforts to update federal energy policy, which had gone without revision for more than a decade. The long stall dragged on despite a crisis in the Western electric market, soaring natural gas prices and struggles to spark renewable energy development, to name a few problems facing the nation.


Let (cordless) freedom ring

By Peter Lewis

A NEW voice over Internet phone system makes it simple for even tech neophytes to tap into the cutting edge of telephony — and maybe save a bundle on their bills.


Special Report
Best return on investment:
part-time programs for MBAs

By Kurt Badenhausen
and Lesley Kump

our fourth biennial ranking of business schools shows why students are embracing part-time programs.

Our survey ranks schools based on return on investment--meaning compensation five years after graduation minus tuition and the forgone salary during school.

The top part-time school, Stern's Langone Part-time M.B.A. Program, had a median five-year gain of $166,000, greatly helped by the absence of forgone salary. That sum beats the $134,000 gain of the top-ranked full-time program, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

In a combined ranking of part-time and full-time U.S. programs, Tuck and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School are the only full-time schools that would make the top five. (For the first time, Harvard Business School is not the top-ranked school.)


Mexico's government subsidizing Illegals' run

By Jerry Seper
The Washington Times

The Mexican staging area for illegal aliens that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson demanded this week be bulldozed is among hundreds of similar sites along the border sponsored and maintained by the Mexican government.

Poll: Hispanics
split on Illegals

More than 40 percent of Hispanic voters say the rising tide of illegal aliens is hurting the country.

Many of the sites are marked with blue flags and pennants to signal that water is available.

Others, such as the Las Chepas site that Mr. Richardson denounced, are a collection of old, mostly abandoned buildings or ranch houses where illegals gather for water and other supplies—sometimes bartering with smugglers, or "coyotes," for passage north.

Las Chepas, law-enforcement authorities said, also is a center for drug smugglers looking to move marijuana and cocaine into the United States.


Illegal alien crisis yields partisan split in Arizona

By John Turner Gilliland

Unhappy with federal efforts to maintain border security and keep illegal aliens from crossing into Arizona, the state's governor and a top legislator have submitted dramatically different plans to achieve the same goal. The issue could eventually dominate the 2006 governor's race in Arizona.

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano this week declared a "state of emergency" for four southern Arizona counties bordering Mexico. The declaration frees up $1.5 million, which will help the counties escalate their own efforts to keep undocumented workers from crossing into the state.


Health costs
Former AOL worker jailed
under anti-spam law

By David Glovin

Jason Smathers, a former America Online engineer and self-described cyberspace outlaw, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for stealing a subscriber list spammers used to send billions of unsolicited e-mails.


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