QUOTE OF THE DAY
National Review: The Voter Fraud That ‘Never Happens’ Keeps Coming Back
Critics of voter ID and other laws cracking down on voter fraud claim they’re unnecessary because fraud is nonexistent. For instance, Brennan Center attorneys Michael Waldman and Justin Levitt claimed last year: “A person casting two votes risks jail time and a fine for minimal gain. Proven voter fraud, statistically, happens about as often as death by lightning strike.”
Well, lightning is suddenly all over Cincinnati, Ohio. The Hamilton County Board of Elections is investigating 19 possible cases of alleged voter fraud that occurred when Ohio was a focal point of the 2012 presidential election. A total of 19 voters and nine witnesses are part of the probe.
Democrat Melowese Richardson has been an official poll worker for the last quarter century and registered thousands of people to vote last year. She candidly admitted to Cincinnati’s Channel 9 this week that she voted twice in the last election.
Forbes: States Push Back Against Obama's Knee Jerk Tax-Increase Addiction
In the wake of the U.S. economy realizing its most significant decline since 2009 (an annualized decline of 0.1 percent during the 4th quarter of 2012), this week President Obama laid out his plan to kick the “sequester can” even further down the road. His renewed call for tax increases, along with limited spending cuts, is a prime example of what President Ronald Reagan was referring to when he claimed, “Some people have labored so long at making government bigger that they’ve developed a knee-jerk addiction to tax increases. Every time their knee jerks, we get kicked.”
The federal government’s seemingly insatiable appetite for out-of-control spending affects far more than jut the wealthy. In fact, Washington’s tax-and-spend tendencies will impact more than three-quarters of American households this year. Many American workers were caught off-guard in January, when they saw their annual take-home pay shrink by hundreds of dollars due to a broad-based increase in payroll taxes.
In 2013, the employee tax rate for Social Security increased to 6.2% (an increase of 2 percentage points), and the Social Security wage base limit increased to $113,700 from $110,100. Now, a single person earning $38,000 a year will pay $760 more this year. Workers earning $90,000 will pay nearly $1,800 more than last year. Those with incomes of $185,000 will pay $2,274 more in 2013.
In addition to the “fiscal cliff” deal that the President signed into law last month which raised taxes on high wage earners, couples who make more than $250,000 will face a new 3.8 percent tax on their investment income passed as part of ObamaCare in 2010. In effect investment income taxes will rise from 15% to 23.8% for those making over $400,000. But wait, there’s more! High wage earners, those who make $400,000 plus, will also see their income taxes rise from 35% to 39.6%. Add in state and local income taxes and many families will find themselves paying over 50%.
Our federal government’s “knee-jerk” dependence on tapping into workers’ earnings at nearly every income level is causing several states to kick back in very Reagan-esque ways.
Atlantic Cities: What Makes Urban Charter Schools Effective?
Last month Technology Review profiled M.I.T. economist Josh Angrist, who's known for conducting "natural experiments." That's an academic way of describing research that occurs through observing the world, as opposing to being controlled in a lab. From his morning commute in Cambridge (via bike) to his interest in urban charter schools (analyzing their effectiveness), it's clear that Angrist's powers of observation are largely focused on cities.
Most of Angrist's recent attention has been on urban education in Massachusetts. Because over-subscribed charter schools use a lottery to determine who gets in and who doesn't, they offer a "natural" point of comparison between student populations. Different schools in comparable communities also provide a solid basis for study. Tech Review summarizes two of Angrist's most significant findings:
In a 2009 report, they found that certain Boston charter schools had produced an average gain of roughly 15 percentile points for middle-school students on the state math exams.
Two years later, however, Angrist and colleagues found that in Massachusetts districts outside Boston, charter-¬school students did no better on average than students at other public schools.
In an upcoming issue [PDF] of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Angrist and colleagues expand on the difference between urban and non-urban charter schools. They argue that urban charter schools in Massachusetts outperform urban public schools when it comes to student achievement. They also argue that non-urban charter schools may actually reduce achievement from a baseline level.
So what's happening to make urban charters so effective? Well, part of the explanation is simple demographics. Urban charter schools tend to boost performance for minority students from parts of the city with low achievement scores. In other words, they help students who enter school with lots of room for improvement.
MarketWatch: Why gasoline prices are headed even higher
Gasoline prices at the pump have climbed every day for the past 21 days — and they’re not going to let up anytime soon.
On Thursday, the average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $3.555, making it the most expensive average ever for that day and the highest level since Oct. 26 of last year, according to AAA. See AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The price has risen 26.3 cents, or about 8%, this year, steeper than the 6.2% increase for the same period in 2012 and 1.6% rise for the same period in 2011, according to the motorist and leisure travel group.
Gas prices increased at a blistering pace over the previous couple of weeks,” said Michael Green, AAA spokesman, adding that the jump of 17.4 cents between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 marked the largest weekly price spike in nearly two years.
And as the gasoline market set all sorts of milestones, analysts offered more reasons why prices are headed even higher over the next few months.
“This is a very early rise,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. “January has tended to be a quiet month through the years. The rally really began in earnest around Jan. 15.”
Prices saw an “off-season” bottom on Dec. 20 when they averaged $3.219 a gallon, he said, so since that bottom, they’ve rebounded by about 33 cents — “with more increases to come.”
American Thinker: Confederalism
When our Constitution was ratified, there was no debate about the purpose of government. The words of the Declaration of Independence are clear:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men[.]
The purpose of government was to secure liberty; the founders did not argue about that point. Rather, they argued about the best way to do that.
Our first government was a confederation, and the mission of the men in Philadelphia was not to end that confederation, but to fix it. What were the problems with the Articles of Confederation? The standard litany runs thus: Congress had no power to raise taxes; a supermajority was required for Congress to pass laws; the national government had no method of enforcing those laws; each state had a single vote. America could never have been great if it had remained a confederation.
But is this true? Canada and Australia were both, in practical terms, confederations. Switzerland, the most successful nation in Europe, has been a confederation for centuries. The United Provinces of Netherlands, which were really a loose confederation of seven little nations (Holland, for example, was simply the largest of the seven provinces), were wildly successful.
CARTOON OF THE DAY