a service of NPRI

September 8, 2005 
Vol. 1, No. 29

Also in this issue:

Sprint spin-off of Nevada operation could become sell-off

A less sticky brand of red tape

Utility rates likely to surge

Katrina reinvigorates Alaska debate

The law that screwed up science



Rudderless in New Orleans

Nothing saved for a rainy day

In praise of price-gouging

Restore worker freedom in America

Recent NPRI Commentaries

Dead and Not
Knowing It, Part 2

Dead and Not
Knowing It, Part 1

Nevada's tax-financed universities are based on a paradigm that no longer represents reality.

On Ratchets
Taxeaters love to rant about the TABOR "ratchet." But they've got a much more insidious one of their own.

Wishing Upon a Superstar
The Clark County School District chronically fails in its mission because it is a government monopoly, protected from market forces.

Small Business
Rudderless in New Orleans

Editorial Report
The Washington Times

The city of New Orleans issued a "Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan" for hurricanes well before Katrina arrived, and the document gives a window into how city officials saw their roles in the aftermath of a hurricane.

The city envisioned itself taking charge of issuing a warning, ordering and managing evacuation, arranging for busses for those without any other transportation, setting up and maintaining shelters, and other critical duties.

Given the corruption in municipal agencies —one not necessarily cynical Louisiana politician remarked that "half the state is under water and half is under indictment" ...


The Economy
Nothing saved for a rainy day

By Peter Schiff
Euro Pacific Capital

The U.S. economy, which has clearly been a bubble in search of a pin, may have finally found one in Hurricane Katrina. However, if a recession ensues, it will not be Katrina that causes it, but rather America’s imbalanced, savings-starved economy, that left it so vulnerable to such a disaster in the first place.

Katrina has struck the American economy at a particularly vulnerable time. By assuming that the sun would shine indefinitely, and that our economic levees (such as rising home values), would protect us from ruin, Americans have saved nothing for a rainy day.


In praise of

By John Stossel
JFS Productions Inc.

Politicians and the media are furious about price increases in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They want gas stations and water sellers punished. If you want to score points cracking down on mean, greedy profiteers, pushing anti-"gouging" rules is a very good thing.


Restore worker freedom in America

By Anthony P. Archie
Pacific Research Institute

More than 84 percent of Americans believe that workers should have the freedom to negotiate wages and working conditions with employers, according to a recent poll by the Marketing Research Institute.

If this is true, then it's time to end exclusive union representation in the workplace.

Under federal law, if a majority of employees vote to be represented by a union, then that union becomes the exclusive representative during contract negotiations for all the employees of that organization.


WHY BusinessNevada

Higher Ed
The dubious mania for more college graduates

According to the new conventional wisdom, more and more jobs will require more skill in the future, so increasing the number of college graduates must be a national priority. A little critical thought, however, demolishes this dogma.

By George Leef
John William Pope Center
for Higher Education Policy

Fifty years ago, college education was sold to students as a way of broadening their intellectual horizons. The curriculum was filled with courses in literature, philosophy, history and so on. If you were looking for job training, that was mostly found in the job market itself, or at technical institutes and community colleges.

Strangely, the situation has changed almost 180 degrees. Today most people look to higher education for job training (or at least preparation) and great numbers of students believe that without a college degree, they will be unemployable in all but menial labor. At the same time, the old idea that the purpose of a college education is to broaden one's intellectual horizons has been largely relegated to the broom closet. True, quite a few institutions still pay lip service to the importance of a liberal education, but in fact it is quite easy for students at most of them to earn a BA without taking any of the kind of courses that used to be the pillars of the curriculum. Students who want to learn about, say, philosophy or history would be better off looking for a good lecture series on tape than looking through the course catalogue..


Phone Service
Sprint’s spin-off of Nevada operation to become sell-off?

Company filed with state utilities commission in August for a spin-off that would occur in 2006.

By Valerie Miller
Business Press

Sprint Nextel's recently announced decision to spin off its traditional land-line operations into a separate company could be the first step in the division's eventual sale. Millions of people—especially consumers younger than 30—now turn to wireless phones rather than the century-old phone-to-wall technology, say industry experts.


A less sticky
brand of red tape

Any regulation can be abusive, annoying, or ridiculous. But for many small businesses, local rules still fit better than the federal kind.

By Cait Murphy
Fortune Small Business

Provide an extra six weeks of job-protected family leave. A written accident-prevention plan for even the teeniest business. The most lavish unemployment-compensation benefits in the country.

If you run a small business in Washington State, those are just some of the mandates you face—well beyond what the federal government or other states require. "It's like the frog in the pan. The state government turns the heat up a little each year," says John Heaton, president of Pay Plus Benefits in Kennewick, which administers payroll and benefit functions for other small companies. "I think small businesses are beginning to feel burned."


Utility rates likely to surge

Natural gas prices are cited in requests

By Kevin Rademacher

A pair of Southern Nevada utility rate increase requests are swelling in the face of soaring natural gas prices. "It's a very important issue," said Swami Venkataraman, a utilities analyst for Standard & Poor's. "People are going to be paying more money."

In May, Las Vegas-based Southwest Gas Corp. asked the state Public Utilities Commission for a 2.8 percent residential rate increase to recover $11.3 million in past gas costs. That increase would push the average customer's winter bill higher by about $1.37 a month.


Gas Prices
Katrina reinvigorates Alaska debate

By Brian McGuire
The New York Sun

WASHINGTON - With gasoline prices nearing an all-time high this week, lawmakers and environmentalists here are rejoining with increased vigor a decade-long battle over proposed drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


The law that
screwed Up science

Twenty-five years ago a law known as Bayh-Dole spawned the biotech industry. It made lots of university scientists fabulously rich. It was also supposed to usher in a new era of innovation. So why are medical miracles in such short supply?

By Clifton Leaf

Even in the mute efficiency of international wire transfers, $540 million makes a noise when it lands in your bank account.

To Kent Alexander, that sound was a thud—and in this case "not one single thud, but a lot of different thuds." All afternoon on July 21, 2005, Alexander, who is Emory University's general counsel, president Jim Wagner, and other senior members of the school's administration were receiving e-mailed reports from the finance de- partment: "121 million just hit!" And then, 50 minutes later, "183 million just hit!" Half an hour after that, an even richer stash arrived. Thud.

"It was an out-of-body experience," says Alexander, 46. "By any definition, it's a huge deal. As one of our trustees was saying, 'It doesn't get any bigger than this on Wall Street.' "



When a small firm got hit with a campaign of cyberextortion, it tightened up computer security. Its biggest problem, however, lay in its open dumpster.

By Alec Foege
Fortune Small Business

Dan Videtto shivers as he recalls his first e-mail messages from someone using the name Bryan Ryan.

It was a wintry January day, about six months after Videtto had become president of Micropatent, an East Haven, Conn., company that manages the electronic delivery of patent documents. The 13 messages from Ryan had all been sent from the same Yahoo account. They included photos of Micropatent’s branch offices in Alexandria, Va., as well as copies of e-mail messages and other confidential documents relating to the company’s customers.

The e-mails suggested that Ryan had access to even more privileged data and might forward it to Videtto’s clients. 


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