South Carolina lawmakers have undertaken reforms to address some of the serious issues with their state’s pension system, but major changes are still needed to prevent future budget problems. In 2012, the state increased employee and employer contribution rates for the South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS), the state’s public pension fund. The increase affected current members as well as new hires. The 2012 reforms also reduced the expected rate of return for pension investments and reduced the minimum cost-of-living benefit increase. In 2000 and 2002, the state created optional defined-contribution plans for existing and new state and local government employees and teachers.
Listening to the presumptive Republican and Democratic candidates for the White House, the average voter would think that international trade and investment is a zero sum game in which there is a “winner” and a “loser.” Their economic policy assumption is that other countries are gaining at the international trade game at the expense of the United States.
John and Donny continue their exploration of think tanks in episode #43 of the In The Tank Podcast. This weekly podcast features (as always) interviews, debates, and roundtable discussions that explore the work of think tanks across the country. The show is available for download as part of the Heartland Daily Podcast every Friday. Today’s podcast features work from the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, the John Locke Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute.
As they don caps and gowns, endure commencement speeches and take their diplomas, many high school and college graduates face bleak prospects in an economy that grew a dismal 0.5% the first quarter.
For many people, Pittsburgh is defined by the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela Rivers, out of which is formed the Ohio River. Three Rivers. But, Pittsburgh was transformed from a disease-infested frontier town into a great city by a different kind of confluence: the combination of coal from West Virginia and iron from Minnesota and the upper peninsula of Michigan.
On Monday, May 2 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on what the New York Times (NYT) called: “a lengthy battle for energy production.” The court’s unanimous decision to strike down two cities’ limits on fracking is a victory for oil-and-gas companies and a “disappointment” to anti-fossil-fuel activists. Several states, including Colorado’s neighbors, New Mexico and Texas, have faced similar anti-oil-and-gas initiatives that have also been shot down.
The electronic payments industry has revolutionized worldwide markets, making services like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and touch and pay systems possible. As the industry grows and innovates, consider the effects of this technology on the US economy.
During March 22 hearings before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, under questioning by West Virginia Rep. David McKinley (R), EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted (once again) the Obama administration’s climate efforts will do nothing to protect public or environmental health. McCarthy instead acknowledged the efforts are merely a symbolic attempt to get other countries’ leaders to join the Paris climate agreement.
Political campaign years are filled with candidates’ promises to solve people’s problems. Government policies will “create jobs,” will reduce or even block the “unfair” competition of market rivals in foreign lands, will restore or create prosperity for all, and will assure “fairness” for everyone, even if it means imposing regulatory or special tax burdens on some to guarantee politically provided privileges and benefits for others who are deemed “deserving.”
Advocates of occupational licensure argue that it protects the public interest by excluding incompetent and unethical individuals from sensitive jobs. This is certainly the case in some fields, such as health care — but in general, research reveals weak evidence that licensure confers a tangible benefit on public safety or the overall quality of services provided to consumers. What it mainly does is increase costs: Kleiner estimates that licensing increases prices 5 to 33 percent, depending on the occupation and geographic location.
President Reagan once said, “The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.” The omnibus budget package being negotiated on Capitol Hill is a perfect example.
Florida’s citrus harvest has plummeted 60 percent from ten years ago, because of citrus greening disease, a bacterial infection that causes trees to produce stunted fruit and eventually die. The disease has also been found in one Los Angeles area orchard, potentially putting California’s citrus groves at risk. Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are at stake.
Roadsnacks.net recently identified its candidates for “The Ten Worst Places to Live in Illinois,” and although the article is basically infotainment—the written word’s equivalent of reality TV—and plenty of people disagree with the rankings, it does highlight an undeniable fact: The Illinois towns cited in the article suffer from high unemployment, low incomes, and high poverty rates, which in turn are associated with higher rates of robberies, theft, and even murder.
Oreos have been for years made in Chicago, Illinois (and several other American cities). Mondelez International, Inc. – the company that delivers us the chocolatey, spherical goodness – announced they would make their next wave of Oreo manufacturing investment not in Chicago, but in Mexico. This move will reduce – not end – Chicago’s role in production. Jobs in the Windy City will be halved – from 1,200 to 600. (Other cities will continue their current roles.)
A recently released study claiming to have found a statistical association between hydraulic fracturing and hospitalization rates in Pennsylvania has been popular in the news. However, just about every aspect of this study is problematic, rendering it to the realm of speculation, not science.
Paring it down to size will require a death by a thousand cuts, which, in environmental and energy policy, may have begun with the passage of the Cromnibus budget bill in late 2014. The Cromnibus might mark the beginning of a slow reduction of the federal government’s overreach in environmental issues.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan (CPP) requires that states reduce their electric utility sector carbon dioxide emissions an average of 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. EPA twisted 80 words in the Clean Air Act into 1,560 pages of regulations (plus appendices) demanding that utilities return CO2 emissions almost to 1975 levels, while our population grows by 40 million.
The plan will result in higher electricity costs for businesses and families, lost jobs, lower incomes, higher poverty rates, reduced living standards, and diminished health and welfare, our exhaustive recent study found. This damage will be inflicted at the national level and in all 50 states. The CPP will impact all low-income groups, but hit America’s 128 million Blacks and Hispanics especially hard.
The world’s two leading Global Cities, London and New York are, according to most indicators, remarkably similar in their patterns of regional commuting. This is the conclusion from our recent review of commuting in London and commuting in New York. This analysis contrasts the results between the London Area (Greater London Authority, East and Southeast regions) and the New York combined statistical area, which stretches from New York state, to New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.