Many Key Indicators Better Than When Obama Took Office

via Gallup


Are higher tax rates for the rich a good idea?

Maybe not – Becker argues:

raising tax rates by only a few percentage points on a sizable tax rate base- as in President Obama’s proposal- will tend to have large costs in efficiency even when the elasticity of response to the tax increase is relatively small.

While Posner is less certain that efficiency will decline, he notes:

The real significance of the proposed tax increases is political. Income inequality is growing in the United States and there  is increased resentment at what seem the outlandish incomes of the rich and the increased frequency of crime and sharp practices by businessmen (whether that frequency actually has increased is unknown). A tax increase limited to high earners might assuage this resentment somewhat.

The Pathology of U.S. Democracy

The pathology of mass democracy translates into ugly social divisions. Great liberal thinkers from Bastiat to Mises have demonstrated that all classes have nothing to fear from one another in a market economy. Freedom of exchange results in the harmonization of interests. Politics, on the other hand, creates fissures that need not exist. Every minor issue becomes blown up into a Manichean struggle. This happens especially over relatively minor issues, because these are the only ones over which the mainstream politicians evince even a rhetorical disagreement. The truly foundational issues of our time—mass confiscation of wealth, IRS despotism, mass imprisonment, militarized policing at home and unending warfare abroad—unite both major parties behind an establishment agenda. They bicker instead over relatively small matters, each one of which becomes amplified into the greatest battle in the history of the world at election time.

via The Beacon

Intersection Between No Child Left Behind & School Vouchers?

More Americans think the No Child Left Behind Act[ (“NCLB”)], which has governed federal education grants to public schools for a decade, has made education worse rather than better, by 29% to 16%.

via Gallup. While President Obama’s education policy moves away from NCLB

his administration remains opposed to the Opportunity Scholarship program in Washington, D.C., which lets students—mostly low-income and African-American—use a voucher to attend a private school.

Perhaps Mr. Obama will reconsider his position on vouchers now that we have for the first time tracked the impact of a voucher program all the way from kindergarten (in 1997) to college enrollment (in 2011). Our study compared students who won a voucher lottery with students who didn’t—the only difference between the groups was the luck of the draw, the gold standard in research design.

The study shows that an African-American student who was able to use a voucher to attend a private school was 24% more likely to enroll in college than an African-American student who didn’t win a voucher lottery.

via Hoover Institution. Indeed, Obama has softened his stance on the D.C. voucher program.

One popular syllogistic explanation is that teachers unions oppose vouchers for various reasons; teachers unions have historically supported democrats and endorsed Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections; therefore, so the argument goes, the President’s defunding of an effective school voucher program in D.C. was an appeasement to the teachers unions. While this argument may have some merit, it suffers from multiple fallacies, the most severe of which is its affirmation of the consequent. It is true that there are principled explanations for the President’s opposition to school vouchers; nevertheless, Obama’s vacillation suggests a political reality rather than an ideological one.