a service of NPRI

May 16, 2006 
Vol. 2, No. 8

Also in this issue:

Unions and majority rule

China to let yuan
strengthen quicker

Long-awaited study shows Nevada program a waste

Nevada meth use
out of control

The Net's not-so-secret economy of crime

How gas price controls
sparked '70s shortages


$3-a-gallon gas: Blame Washington, not Big Oil

Energy debates lead
to wrong answers

China’s war-time economy

Ready for a
Pelosi tax hike?


from NPRI:

Is Nevada public education 'adequate'?

Funding adequacy study ignores the most important issue

By Joe Enge

Has the Silver State’s public education system become an underperforming, expensive, and obsolete security blanket?

Is it really age-appropriate for a society facing global competition and technology advances in the 21st century?

These are heretical questions, judging from the study commissioned by the Legislative Committee on School Financing Adequacy.



Gas prices
$3-a-gallon gas: Blame the pols,  not Big Oil

What's driving up gas prices? It's not just higher crude costs; it's new regulations

By Nelson D. Schwartz
Fortune Magazine

WITH GAS PRICES ROARING past $3 a gallon and consumer fury rising even faster, Congress and the White House are engaged in a Kabuki-like ritual: pointing fingers at each other over who's to blame, while furiously attacking Big Oil for reaping gargantuan profits - as drivers get hosed at the pump.

If the politicians really want to figure out who's responsible for the latest round of price increases, though, they'd be better off looking in the mirror. That's because the rise isn't only due to higher crude costs. It's also fallout from some little-noticed provisions in the energy bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush last summer.


Energy debates lead to wrong answers

By Jack Kemp
Human Events

There's an old saying that it is better to be thought ignorant than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. This has never been more evident than in the debate over oil companies, gasoline prices, oil profits and windfall profits taxes.

Some in the GOP leadership suggest everything from $100 rebates and windfall profit taxes to Federal Trade Commission investigations and congressional hearings on so-called price-fixing and/or gouging. I'm reminded of Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, when he called for devaluing the dollar, wage and price controls, and higher taxes and tariffs - all of which helped cause his downfall and set the economy on a course of simultaneous inflation and unemployment, the likes of which we hadn't seen in our nation's history.

What is sickening is to hear that the GOP would offer a $100 bribe to poor and low-income people. Can you imagine a political party, ostensibly on the center right, telling people, "Don't earn too much or you won't get a rebate check"? Compare that to Abraham Lincoln, who said, "I don't believe in laws that prevent a man from getting rich. I want every man to get rich. He should be able to earn, save, invest and someday hire others to work for him. That is the American system."


The Fed
China’s war-time economy

By Peter Schiff
Euro Pacific Capital

The mainstream of economic thinking holds that China will continue to finance America’s current account deficit indefinitely because American consumption is vital, if not critical, to the survival of China’s export driven economy.

While I have written several commentaries exposing the fallacy of this argument, I thought one more analogy might be helpful.

During the Second World War, America’s industrial might was concentrated on supplying the war effort. We had ten million men under arms spread across three continents, our ships patrolled the Atlantic and Pacific and our bombers blackened the skies. Factories that had previously produced passenger cars, sewing machines, and farm equipment had been retooled to make fighter planes, jeeps, tanks, rifles, bullets, artillery shells, destroyers, aircraft carriers, submarines, uniforms, helmets, boots, mess kits, and military radios.


Ready for a Pelosi tax hike?

Human Events

When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on May 7, host Tim Russert repeatedly pressed her on whether she would try to repeal the tax cuts enacted by President Bush and the Republican Congress. Pelosi eventually broke down and gave a partial answer.

“Well, I, myself, am against them,” she said. “But the point is, there are choices to be made in our budgets, and, and I will tell you more the Democrats are going to do when we take over the Congress of the United States.”

Count on it: If Pelosi takes over as speaker in a Democrat-controlled House, she will let all of the Bush tax cuts—which are scheduled to sunset by 2011—expire.


WHY BusinessNevada

Canadian meds scheme unneeded

Nevada drug importation scheme
‘a solution in search of a problem’

By Tommy Thompson
Former Secretary,
U.S. Dept. Health & Human Services

ACROSS THE COUNTRY, including Nevada, there continue to be efforts by state officials to encourage the importation of drugs from Canada as a way to reduce health care costs for America's seniors.

Just last month, the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy voted to allow residents to purchase drugs from Canadian mail-order pharmacies. With all due respect to these officials, I would argue that importation has largely become a solution in search of a problem. The more effective approach to ensure access to safe and affordable prescription drugs is the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, Part D.

While there have been some initial stumbles getting out of the blocks, there is clear evidence that the new Medicare benefit is providing our seniors, including Nevada's, with access to needed prescription drugs at lower rates than they previously paid, all without looking beyond our borders. In fact, 75 percent of Nevada's Medicare beneficiaries have drug coverage under Part D -- the sixth-highest in the nation. Overall, enrollment -- and beneficiary satisfaction -- is exceeding expectations, both nationally and at the state level, with more than 30 million currently receiving coverage. Simply put, the debate on importation should now be moot.

According to the AARP, the new prescription drug benefit provides seniors with a cheaper alternative to drugs advertised as "Canadian," noting that "for many Americans, Medicare drug plans that cover all of a beneficiary's drugs can cost less than buying the same drugs across the border."


Unions and majority rule

By Mike Antonucci
EIA Online

The State of Nevada has provided us with an object lesson on the stranglehold incumbent unions have on their members, their privileges and their power.

After a four-year court battle, Teamsters Local 14 finally won the right to challenge the NEA-affiliated Education Support Employees Association (ESEA) to represent some 10,500 custodians, bus drivers and other support personnel in the Clark County School District. NEA sent UniServ directors from other states into Nevada to defeat the challenge. The mail-in ballots were counted last week. Here are the results:

Teamsters: 2,711

ESEA: 1,932

No union: 93

The Teamsters win, right? Wrong. The Nevada Supreme Court upheld a rule that a challenging union must gain a majority of the eligible voters, not just the votes cast. So to win, the Teamsters needed 5,259 votes, even though only 4,736 votes were cast.

ESEA remains the exclusive bargaining agent, despite being outpolled by 779 votes, receiving only 40.8 percent of the votes cast, and only 18.4 percent of the eligible vote. ESEA announced the victory on its web site without mentioning the vote totals.

There are several overlapping issues at play here:

a) almost 5,800 employees couldn't bring themselves to vote at all;

b) the utter hopelessness of ousting an incumbent union under such onerous rules; and

c) the danger of letting card checks replace secret ballot elections as a means of determining initial union representation.

For all the talk of democracy and majority rule, most teachers' unions in the United States won their exclusive bargaining status in the 1960s and 1970s, and have not faced a representation election since. Many education employees today are members of locals that were voted into power before they were born. In AFT, it is not uncommon for local presidents to hold that office for 20 or 30 years. Most NEA affiliates practice term limits, yet the line of succession is as structured (and archaic) as that of the Bourbons.

Exempt from anti-trust laws, unions can form partnerships, set up jurisdictions, and enforce "no-raid" agreements. For all the ink on choice in education, no one seems very interested in examining the definitive monopoly NEA/AFT hold in the field of teacher representation.

China to let yuan
strengthen quicker

By Andrew Browne
The Wall Street Journal

HONG KONG -- Beijing, in a move that ends weeks of stalling and should help President Bush contain complaints in the U.S. about China, gave the go-ahead for a stronger Chinese currency.

FAQ: The
Yuan Rally

See Also:
Peter Schiff column
at right:
China's War-time Economy

China's central bank allowed the yuan to briefly break through the symbolically important level of 8.0 to the dollar. The move came just days after the U.S. Treasury Department drew back from confrontation with China by determining that Beijing wasn't manipulating its exchange rate to artificially boost its exports.

[continued]  These articles will be available to non-subscribers of the Online Journal for up to seven days after being e-mailed.

Long-awaited study shows Nevada program a waste

National board teachers -- on which the state spends large funds -- found to be no better than other educators

By Bess Keller

Students of teachers who hold certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards achieve, on average, no greater academic progress than students of teachers without the special status, a long-awaited study using North Carolina data concludes.

The research, which draws on one of the largest data sets used so far to examine the credential, was completed well over a year ago. But the board did not provide any public information about the less-than-flattering portrait until earlier this month, when an “overview” was posted on the organization’s Web site. And it put out the summary only after being pressed by a prominent education blogger. National-board officials say they do not intend to release the full study.


Nevada meth use
out of control

State no. 1 in crime, meth said behind 80 percent

By Caroline Fontein
Las Vegas Business Press

Illicit drug use is a growing problem in Las Vegas, yet many people do not recognize it, nor the negative impact it has on all aspects of society. For instance, when Nevada was recently ranked as the state with the most crime, few probably thought of drug use as the main culprit.


The Web
The Net's not-so-secret economy of crime

The people who want to rip you off are very polite with each other when they're buying and selling credit card numbers

By David Kirkpatrick
Fortune Magazine

Raze Software offers a product called CC2Bank 1.3, available in freeware form - if you like it, please pay for it. Raze's attractively designed Web site, registered in Belarus, may suggest a shaky command of English -"I shall pleased any estimation in respect of my programs and this page," it reads - but it displays the classic characteristics of web commerce, like visitor statistics, advertising, and links to Web sites of partners.

But CC2Bank's purpose is the management of stolen credit cards. Release 1.3 enables you to type in any credit card number and learn the type of card, name of the issuing bank, the bank's phone number and the country where the card was issued, among other info.


How gas price controls sparked '70s shortages

By Patrice Hill
The Washington Times

Proposals to control gasoline prices and tax producers' windfall profits were popular ideas that were tried -- without much success -- during the oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s.

The era of price controls is most remembered for long lines at gas stations. The controls were put in place by the Nixon and Ford administrations in reaction to a jump in fuel prices caused by cuts in production by the newly formed international oil cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.


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