a service of NPRI

October 20, 2005 
Vol. 1, No. 34

Also in this issue:

‘King of real estate’
 getting out

Students show almost 
no gains in reading

U.S. Senate nixes two 
minimum wage bills

How a victorious Bush fumbled plan to revamp 
Social Security

Billionaire buddies: The 
$91 billion conversation

Is religion good for you?


Time for new thinking 
about poverty

Gold versus the stock market

Got the HOTs?

A 'second Hitler' on trial in Iraq

The Long War
Why we see what we see in Carson City.

If you notice, foes of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) idea never claim it is ineffective at restraining budget growth.

In other words, the critics—in their quiet unanimity regarding TABOR’s efficacy—virtually admit why they don’t like TABOR: It’s successful at restraining government expansion.


Time for new thinking about poverty

By David Boaz
Cato Institute

Too many journalists seem unable to break free of their old assumptions, even when new evidence should cause some new thinking.

Three articles in the Sept. 22 edition of the Washington Post endorsed the view that giving more money to poor people and poor countries can solve the problem of domestic and global poverty. It's remarkable that so many smart people in our society are unaffected by the evidence that such transfer programs just don't work.

In a front-page article, two reporters talked about the destitute people fleeing Hurricane Katrina and wondered if America would finally face the problem of poverty.


Gold versus the stock market

By Peter Schiff
Euro Pacific Capital

While Wall Street pundits extol the virtues of the stock market, and its promise of assured riches, they consistently denigrate gold, and its value as an investment alternative.

Gold, they chide, is an arcane relic, as out of fashion as the leisure suits worn during the decade they naively perceive as the metal’s last hurrah. However, as fashions come and go, gold is once again back in style. This week gold’s successive run of eighteen-year highs occurred in sharp contrast to a slumping stock market.

Since the Dow ‘s 11,722 peak (which at the time equaled 41.3 ounces of gold) reached on January 14, 2000, the index has now lost almost half of its value relative to gold. As I write this the Dow Jones is currently worth about 21.6 ounces of gold. If we go back to the peak of the preceding bull market, in which the Dow topped out at 1,000 in 1966 (which at the time was 28.6 ounces of gold,) the index has actually declined in value by 25% when priced in gold.


Got the HOTs?

By Robert W. Poole, Jr.
Wall Street Journal

Nearly a decade of experience in San Diego and Orange County, Calif., has shown that you can keep traffic flowing smoothly, at the speed limit, even during the busiest rush hours. How? Charge a toll, varying by the density of traffic in the lane, for drivers to use the high-occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV).

Such high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes -- on I-15 in San Diego and SR 91 in Orange County -- have been a big hit with drivers in all income groups...

[continued] This article will be available to non-subscribers of the Online Journal for up to seven days after it is e-mailed

A 'second Hitler' on trial in Iraq

By John Keegan
London Daily Telegraph

"I would know by what power I am called hither ... and when I know [by] what lawful authority, I shall answer. Remember, I am your king, your lawful king, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the judgment of God upon this land, think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater; therefore let me know by what lawful authority I am seated here, and I shall not be unwilling to answer. In the meantime I shall not betray my trust." 

-- Charles I
of England


WHY BusinessNevada

Nevada schools
Restructuring in
store for the CCSD?

Would 'superstar' superintendent's real mission be a major overhaul of the Clark County school system?

By Steven Miller

For Silver State public schools, it could be one of the most positive developments in decades: A group of consequential Southern Nevada businessmen have allied themselves with an important critic of centralized government K-12 systems.

The development surfaced almost inadvertently last week in a news report on the search for a new superintendent for the Clark County School District.


Note to E-Bulletin subscribers

Due to the nature of news this week, NPRI is doing two editions of BusinessNevada, rather than one E-Bulletin and one BN.

‘King of real estate’ getting out

The world's best real estate investor has made billions in the U.S. market. Now he's cashing out and buying overseas.

By Shawn Tully

Tom Barrack is driving a dusty Chevy Suburban around his 1,200-acre mountain ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif. Nestled between the Ronald Reagan estate and Michael Jackson's Neverland, Barrack's spread is a medley of vineyards, pastures, and paddocks. Barrack cruises past the lovingly restored manor house, a rambling adobe aerie framed by allées of cabernet franc, then weaves through a cluster of stables sheltering 60 horses that munch homegrown wild oats. Even in this magical setting, real estate is never far from his thoughts. He stops the Suburban at his favorite spot, a vast polo field planted with delicate, lime-hued Bermuda grass that's easy on the horses' hooves. Then Barrack launches into a parable. "I feel totally safe playing polo on a field full of pros," says the bronzed 58-year-old. "But when amateurs are all over the field, someone can get killed. They have more guts than brains. They charge after every ball and don't know when to hold back." It's the same with the U.S. real estate market right now...


Students show almost
no gains in reading

By Kavan Peterson

In the latest snapshot of how well American schoolchildren are learning, national test results showed a small gain in math proficiency in the past two years but nearly zero improvement in reading scores since 1992 despite more than a decade of focus on boosting student achievement.

Nevada scores
lag the field

Las Vegas Review-Journal

The achievement gap between students of different races narrowed slightly, but about 70 percent of students nationwide still are scoring below grade level on math and reading tests, according to the latest scores on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests released Oct. 19.

Only about 30 percent of the nation's fourth- and eighth-graders scored high enough to be considered proficient in reading in 2005, nearly the same average as in any year since state NAEP scores were first reported in 1992.


Senate nixes two
minimum wage bills

The Senate torpedoed two bills that would have raised the federal minimum wage, defeating competing amendments introduced to an appropriations bill by Senator Ted Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming.

Both proposals would have inflated the minimum wage to $6.25 from $5.15, but Mr. Enzi's amendment purported to ease the wage hike's burden on small businesses by, among other provisions, reducing the number of enterprises subjected to the minimum wage laws and by allowing small businesses to substitute overtime pay with compensatory time off. While Republicans enjoy a 55-44 majority in the Senate, Mr. Kennedy's bill, cosponsored by Senator Clinton, was defeated by a vote of 51-47,receiving more support than Mr. Enzi's, which was defeated 57-42.

—Staff report, New York Sun

How a victorious Bush fumbled plan to revamp Social Security

A divided Republican Party, strong opposition derail push for private accounts

By Jackie Calmes
Wall Street Journal

Through two campaigns, George W. Bush vowed to fix and partially privatize Social Security, the nation's most popular government program. This year, claiming a re-election mandate and enjoying a Congress controlled by his party, the president finally made his move. Yet now even the president has acknowledged Social Security is dead for this year, his biggest domestic defeat to date. How could it have gone so wrong?

[continued] This article will be available to non-subscribers of the Online Journal for up to seven days after it is e-mailed

Billionaire buddies:
The $91 billion conversation

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates answer questions on the economy, philanthropy, and investment strategy—an exclusive report

By Daniel Roth

It's the Friday before the University of Nebraska's Big 12 Conference opener in football-mad Lincoln, but the Cornhuskers game isn't the only hot ticket in town. On a beautiful late September afternoon, some 2,000 students are lined up outside the school's Lied Center auditorium, an hour before the doors open. Andrew Schoemacher, a lanky 19-year-old chemical-engineering sophomore, doesn't even have a ticket but hopes he can scrounge one to get inside. How could he miss seeing this show? After all, he says, "It's Bill Gates and Warren Buffett."


Big Picture
Is religion good for you?

Does going to church make people better off or is it that better-off people just go to church?

By Linda Gorman
National Bureau of Economic Research

A number of researchers have found striking correlations between religion and various measures of well being. For example, religious participation is correlated with lower levels of deviant behavior and better health. And, attending religious services weekly, rather than not at all, has the same effect on individuals' reported happiness as moving from the bottom to the top quartile of the income distribution.

However, the same factors that determine religious attendance may also determine these outcomes; for example, it may be that happier people go to church, not that going to church makes you happier. In Religious Market Structure, Religious Participation, and Outcomes: Is Religion Good for You? (NBER Working Paper No. 11377), NBER Research Associate Jonathan Gruber seeks to solve the problem of estimating the effects of religious participation on earnings and other economic measures.


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