a service of NPRI

November 28, 2006 
Vol. 2, No. 16


Also in this issue:

Vegas hospital strike looms

Casinos go digital

Stakes high in fight
over union dues

Medicaid sees its first decline

States want better
deal from Congress

Warming bill endangers
California economy

Mr. Paulson goes to Washington

Commentary:

Democratic gasoline

Board games

The end of conservative cronyism

The social function
of stock speculators

 


NV Supremes
Democratic gasoline

Editorial
New York Sun

It looks like the Democrats are getting ready to use their new majority in the Congress to make the same kinds of mistakes that brought us all higher oil and gas prices last spring and summer. It's not just that the Democrats are likely to push a foolhardy ethanol agenda (about which we warned in our recent editorial, "Up, Up, and Away") to shift Americans to a rarer, more expensive, less efficient form of fuel. Speaker-elect Pelosi & Co. are also now looking for ways to punish the producers of cheaper traditional fuels.)

The trouble is lurking in the agenda for their first 100 days, in which they promise to "energize America by achieving energy independence." Lest anyone be unsure precisely what that means, they add, "we will begin by rolling back the multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil." In other words, as the Associated Press reported recently, they will cut tax incentives for exploration and for expanding refining capacity.

[continued]


The hidden civil war

Board games

Editorial
Wall Street Journal

The Hewlett-Packard meltdown has offered some poignant lessons in corporate board dysfunction, and with any luck the Securities and Exchange Commission has been taking notes. One way to create more HP-like storylines would be for the nation's top financial regulator to appease the latest political agitation for greater "shareholder democracy." That's what the SEC will consider at a December hearing to discuss "direct access," or the idea of giving shareholders more power in determining the makeup of corporate boards. What makes the "democracy" campaign so ironic is that this proposal isn't designed to make companies more responsive to most shareholders.

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


The end of conservative cronyism

Voters just handed a huge defeat to a decidedly pro-business Republican Congress that allowed all sorts of excesses. What we may see with Democrats, though, is protectionism and higher taxes.

By Bill Fleckenstein
MSN Money

Obviously, the most important news of November was the Democrats' sweep across the country. However, it's difficult to talk politics without letting one's own biases filter into the equation. So, in order to make it easier for folks to parse what I say about the ramifications of the elections, let me just state my biases up front.

Seeing the forest, trees and Bushes I am neither Democrat nor Republican. Rather, I'm a libertarian. What I believe in is less government, not more. My "platform" is three-sided: institute term limits, a flat tax and tort reform. Having said that, it probably won't come as a shock to folks to learn that I have voted Republican the overwhelming majority of time (though I voted for neither Bush, father nor son, the second time around.)

[continued]


Markets
The social function of stock speculators

By Robert P. Murphy
Ludwig von
Mises Institute

Libertarian economists typically adopt a two-pronged approach in their advocacy of free markets. On the one hand, they stress that people have rights (whether God-given or self-evident from the exercise of reason) and therefore should be able to engage in any voluntary activities with each other, free from political interference. Unfortunately, this appeal to principle is never enough, since the type of person who votes for today's politicians doesn't care much about abstractions.

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Nevada schools
What real innovation looks like in Nevada

Davidson Academy and ACE Charter School break the rigid mold

By Joe Enge
Nevada Policy Research Institute

Many public schools pretend to be innovative while completely avoiding the substantive changes necessary for genuine innovation. Yet they always ask for more money.

Nevertheless, Nevada does have some solid examples of true educational innovation.

The Davidson Academy in Reno and the Academy for Career Education (ACE) in Sparks are models of education that actually serves the learning needs of students. These are different schools for different students, the former targeting the profoundly gifted and the latter serving students interested in the construction trades.

[continued]


Healthcare
Vegas hospital
strike looms

By Christina Rodriquez
InBusiness Las Vegas

After a half-year of fruitless contract talks, the Service Employees International Union threatened a long-term strike of Valley and Desert Springs hospitals starting Dec. 4.

The threat worked. Hospital officials have agreed to return to the bargaining table for three days, Nov. 27-29.

It would be the first strike of hospital workers in Las Vegas, but the nurses say they're ready. SEIU Local 1107 has $1 million from its national office to pay workers in full while they strike.

[continued]


Gaming
Casinos go digital

Latest strides in surveillance may change how properties operate

By Matt Ward
LV Business Press

Casino operators nationwide are set to re-invest millions into their surveillance departments in order to replace aging analog recording devices with new digital technology.

While the upgrades might mean some will lose their jobs, it could also revolutionize the role surveillance technicians play in the overall operation of casinos, industry experts say.

[continued]


The right to work
Stakes high in fight over union dues

Washington judges: Union bosses have 'right' to spend nonunion members forced dues on politics

By Mark Mix
Human Events

Attorneys for 4,000 Washington state teachers filed their opening brief at the U.S. Supreme Court last week seeking a sweeping ruling that could give unionized employees new tools to reclaim their mandatory union dues. But the case didn’t start out with such high aspirations.

[continued]


Demographics
Medicaid sees
its first decline

By Dennis Cauchon
USA Today

Medicaid spending has declined unexpectedly this year, the first drop since the health program for the poor was created in 1965.

The historic reversal will free up billions of dollars in state budgets. Medicaid has been the fastest-growing expense for states over the past 10 years.

Medicaid spending fell 1.4% in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period a year ago, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The drop was even greater — an unprecedented a 5.4% decline — after adjusting for the rate of health care inflation.

[continued]


States' rights
States want better deal from Congress

By Eric Kelderman
Stateline.org

When the 110th Congress convenes in January, there will be a new Democratic majority negotiating with a Republican president and, state leaders hope, a new relationship between the federal government and the nation's 50 statehouses.

State lawmakers of both parties will be looking for relief from some federal policies imposed on states under the GOP’s watch, including expensive new rules for driver’s licenses and education mandates under the No Child Left Behind Act.

[continued]


Bureaucracy
Warming bill endangers California economy

'Typical of many heavy industries around the state, owners of a cement plant in Mojave have already delayed plans for a $400 million expansion and are looking to move to Nevada.'

By Thomas Tanton
Environment News

On September 27, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed A.B. 32, the "California Global Warming Solutions Act," after the bill was passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature.

The bill aims to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions, but analysts predict state residents will pay a high price for the gesture, which will have very little if any measurable effect on global temperatures.

A.B. 32 promises to reduce carbon emissions from sources within the state, and from certain sources outside. The act calls for limiting the state's emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, representing a 25 percent reduction from current levels.

[continued]


Clout
Mr. Paulson goes
to Washington

He is positioned to emerge as the most important Republican economic figure in Washington

By Geoffrey Colvin
Fortune Magazine

The Treasury Secretary has unmatched credibility on Wall Street and in D.C. Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer and Washington bureau chief Nina Easton pick his brain about the market, the economy and politics. An exclusive interview.

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