America's Decline: Economic Freedom in Eclipse
"Restoring economic freedom is prerequisite to revitalizing and brightening America's future," writes Index editor Anthony Kim. "2016 is the year to reaffirm the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and rule of law so that we can reconstitute an America where freedom, opportunity, and prosperity flourish."
Feb 5, 2016 - 7:57:02 AM
Getting Back to "E Pluribus Unum"
Something fundamental has changed at the heart of what it means to be an immigrant. For the first two centuries or so of our history, individuals found success in the United States through assimilation, while simultaneously maintaining their heritage. Today, however, that is less and less the case. For at least the last four decades, the federal government has been inflaming the balkanization of our country by encouraging immigrants to view themselves more as aggrieved ethnic groups than as aspiring Americans.
Jan 29, 2016 - 2:53:36 AM
Targeting Innocent Citizens
It's become such a serious problem that The Heritage Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, despite deep differences on many issues, joined forces to call for civil-forfeiture reform. Writing last month in The Des Moines Register, ACLU President Susan Herman and John Malcolm, head of Heritage's Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, said the problem "undermines the integrity of our justice system." Innocent citizens should never be deprived unjustly of their property. It's time to stop civil-forfeiture abuse.
Dec 6, 2015 - 12:38:45 AM
Climate Change: A Heated Debate
They actually want the government to target climate-change skeptics with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. That's right. They want to cap the critics with a law created specifically to go after organized crime. Their opponents are no better than drug cartels and the Mafia, apparently...In reality, of course, these academics simply can't abide having anyone disagree with them. So ... away with the skeptics. Make them disappear.
Dec 4, 2015 - 5:14:30 AM
Pursuing Peace Through Luck
The U.S. military -- which is smaller today than it was on 9/11 -- has had to contend with cuts amounting to more than $180 billion over the last four years. And there's no relief in sight. "While the Iranians are flush with cash and increase spending on their military and terrorist proxies, the United States continues to dramatically cut our military spending."
Oct 10, 2015 - 8:05:01 AM
Faking People Out at the Fed
You may be wondering what banking has to do with transportation spending. Good question, but don't waste time trying to find a link; there isn't one. When lawmakers need some bucks, they pull from wherever they can. We always knew they were good at wasting our tax dollars. Now they're proposing a gimmick that may even convince us it's not our money at stake.
Sep 25, 2015 - 1:35:32 AM
"Going to Pot"
There's another reason this shift occurred: Our nation's leaders are no longer sounding the alarm on drugs as they once did. When hardly anyone hears a word about the many health problems associated with pot, and everything they do hear is about how medically beneficial it is, should we be surprised public opinion has changed so much?
Sep 15, 2015 - 6:42:54 AM
The ACLU, ESAs and the Future of School Choice
Another school year is underway, and more parents than ever are using school choice to ensure the best education for their children. Or should I say trying to use them? Some groups, after all, are trying to thwart them. The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed a lawsuit to stop Nevada's ESAs from taking effect. "As the name implies," writes education expert Lindsey Burke, "parents can also save unused funds, rolling dollars over from year-to-year to pay for future education costs."
Sep 2, 2015 - 11:20:34 PM
Food Stamps: An Unappetizing Trend
Able-bodied adults receiving food stamps should be required to work, prepare for work or do job search. Look back at what happened in the 1990s. The great welfare reform of 1996 was put into law, reforming the largest cash welfare assistance program (Aid to Families with Dependent Children or AFDC, which is now Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Rather than allow the government to continue fostering dependency, we started insisting that non-disabled adults either work or be looking for work in exchange for benefits. And lo and behold, the numbers dropped.
Aug 30, 2015 - 4:57:24 AM
Ensuring a Free and Open Internet
"The U.S. government should reject out of hand any transition proposal that grants governments more influence over ICANN than they currently possess." To ensure that this doesn't happen, Congress needs to be involved. Some lawmakers realize this, which is why the House passed the DOTCOM Act (currently pending in the Senate), which would require the Obama administration to give Congress 30 legislative days to review any proposal it approves on this matter before it is implemented.
Aug 28, 2015 - 10:49:30 PM
Why the Iran Deal Makes War More Likely
Think opposition to the Obama administration's deal with Iran is strictly a partisan issue? Hardly. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York recently joined half a dozen Democrats in the House of Representatives who have voiced doubts about the agreement. President Obama has said that critics of the Iran deal are either "ideological" or "illogical." As we've seen, they're neither. They just want an agreement that will keep us safe. The Iran deal is no deal. It's time to try again.
Aug 12, 2015 - 9:38:01 PM
Tapping the Taxpayer Till
An analysis by The Heritage Foundation found that small businesses benefit from less than 20 percent of Ex-Im's actual financing. And it's worth noting that Ex-Im's definition of "small" when it comes to businesses is rather generous, encompassing companies with up to 1,500 workers or even $21.5 million in annual revenue. Not exactly the "garage start-up" or Mom-and- Pop operation that phrase often brings to mind.
Aug 11, 2015 - 7:07:14 PM
The 2015 Culture Index: Tracking the Trends
News is available 24/7/365. We read it, listen to it and watch it. And do so with ease from the most crowded city street to the most remote mountaintop. But while this constant stream of information is certainly handy, it can also make it difficult to see the big picture. We're always on the ground, seeing what's right in front of us. We have only a vague sense of what's already happened -- and what to expect. What we lack is a bird's eye view. Something that will help us spot trends both helpful and harmful. Information that will enable us to adjust our policies accordingly.
Aug 9, 2015 - 5:32:38 AM
Creating a Case for Conservatism
Being conservative in a politically correct culture has never been easy. Whether you're a politician trying to explain a controversial sound-bite, or a voter attempting to defend your stance on a hot-button issue to incredulous co-workers, you either grow a thick skin -- or learn to keep quiet. Sadly, you get used to having your motives impugned by people who assume that no one could possibly believe what you believe. You must have some ulterior motive, right?
Aug 2, 2015 - 7:20:44 AM
Reagan's Tax-Cutting Legacy
Would Reagan have supported a flat tax that got rates down to 17 or 18 percent for all, with a generous deduction for families with children? All we can say for sure is that the idea is consistent with his work to simplify the tax system and promote growth.
Jul 17, 2015 - 10:35:44 PM
A Welcome Check on Bureaucratic Power
No, that's not a misprint. For a mere $9.6 billion, you can save $6 million! "To put that in perspective," writes energy and regulation expert Nicolas Loris, "it's the cost-benefit equivalent of renting $1,600 in scuba gear to collect four quarters at the bottom of the lake. Every year." The courts tend to defer to the judgment and interpretation of the regulatory agency in question. But this time, common sense won out, and the courts provided an important check on the power of unelected bureaucrats. We could use a lot more of that.
Jul 9, 2015 - 12:11:14 AM
Saluting a "Great Charter" of Liberty
"It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty," John Adams, our second president, wrote of July 4. "It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more." It's even more fitting that we do so this year, as we mark the 800th anniversary of another landmark document in the annals of liberty: England's Magna Carta, which preceded our Declaration by 561 years. In fact, the name, "Magna Carta," means "great charter" in Latin, and how appropriate that it be called this, considering its role in curbing the excesses of tyrannical monarchs. Both King Richard and his brother-successor, King John, were levying crushing levels of taxation on their subjects and seizing property virtually at whim.
Jun 19, 2015 - 9:12:41 PM
Let's Put the "Ex" in "Ex-Im"
"The winners should prevail by playing the game better than others, not by forcing taxpayers to give them an advantage," Garett Churchill, owner of Fluxeon Inc., told The Daily Signal. "The winners should be judged by the success they have, and that's not achieved on the backs of his fellow countrymen." Moreover, there are more than 31 investigations into alleged fraud at the Bank. At a recent hearing, members of the House Financial Services and Oversight and Government Reform Committees were told these will likely lead to indictments. There's also an alarming lack of transparency, with the Bank failing to account for $25.8 billion in transactions, according to the Heritage-Mercatus report.
Jun 10, 2015 - 9:46:29 PM
Minimum Wage, Maximum Hypocrisy
Labor expert James Sherk, for example, found that raising the minimum wage to $15 would cause a 36 percent drop in hours worked in fast food.....As Rusty Hicks, head of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, told the Times: "With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them. This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing."
Jun 4, 2015 - 5:31:20 AM
Giving "The Last Full Measure of Devotion"
Freedom requires hard work and skilled diplomacy, but there are times when it also demands blood. And if we don't thank God often for those willing to walk toward the guns aimed by those who would take our freedom away, do we deserve to enjoy the fruits of their victory?
May 29, 2015 - 7:10:55 PM
Giving Kids a Chance to Succeed
..the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. It allows children from low-income families to attend the school of their choice. The DCOSP has helped more than 6,000 kids get a better start in life -- a chance to learn in a safe, challenging school environment where they can reach their full potential. Unfortunately, the program has come under fire from certain politicians who -- not coincidentally -- are beholden to teachers' unions that resent the competition.
May 20, 2015 - 8:17:50 AM
Ruled by Rules: The Hidden Costs of Over-Regulation
Say you got a recall notice for your car. You'd naturally be alarmed, especially after reading that the problem involved Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208 -- "Occupant Crash Protection." Is something wrong with the brakes? The air bags? The seat belts? Nope. You know the air-bag warning label on the sun visor? It might peel. That's why you have to bring your vehicle in. General Motors also had to issue a stop delivery order to dealers, notes Diane Katz, a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and instruct them to inspect the label on each sun visor. If the label was prone to peeling, the entire visor had to be replaced.
May 15, 2015 - 6:29:50 AM
The Fallout of a Bad Deal with Iran
The tone set by President Obama and his team as they deal with world affairs hardly inspires confidence, either at home or abroad. And left unchecked, their lack of true resolve can lead to some very serious repercussions. Take our situation with Iran. Some of The Heritage Foundation's top experts on foreign policy recently published a short assessment of the deal the administration has been pursuing. They listed a number of shortcomings, but one sentence in particular jumped out at me:
May 6, 2015 - 9:29:45 PM
Getting RFRA Right
Now, you can agree or disagree with that belief. But what could be more American than respecting their right to believe it and act upon it, free of persecution?..if a case goes to court, and the government proves that it has a compelling reason to insist that they act in defiance of their beliefs, so be it. Due process has been followed. But to simply say their beliefs are garbage? That they aren't to be respected because they don't align with our own ideas of political correctness? That's wrong.
Apr 13, 2015 - 8:27:11 PM
Muzzling the Marketplace of Ideas
Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident. Hardly a week goes by without news about one campus or another preventing unpopular views from being expressed. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which tracks such violations, most U.S. colleges are guilty.... But there's nothing funny about the underlying cause. Or with its effect: a society where political correctness makes debate impossible and only those who express the "accepted" opinion are permitted to speak.
Apr 3, 2015 - 4:38:37 AM
Critics? Or Traitors?
"Judas got thirty pieces of silver. What did you get?" one New Jersey resident tweeted. Others, sparked by a White House who accused the 47 senators of "wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran," were equally vitriolic. The New York Daily News called it an "unprecedented missive."... The hypocrisy is breath-taking.
Mar 28, 2015 - 12:10:33 AM
Busting the Budget
Let's say you were a financial advisor, and a family came to you with the following situation. They make the median family income in the U.S. -- $52,000. But last year they spent $61,000. That's right, $9,000 more than they're making, and it all went on the family credit card. That's bad enough, but then you find out they already have $311,000 in debt. Would you say they have a problem? The "family" in this scenario is the federal government.
Mar 26, 2015 - 6:13:45 AM
Time to Hit "Delete" on Net Neutrality
Government involvement rarely helps. In many instances, in fact, it exacerbates the situation. I'm not saying the FCC is necessarily being disingenuous. But consider the government's track record. Sorry, but net neutrality is like a virus or a bad line of code. It needs to be eradicated, not embraced. The government is here, all right, but not to help. Time to hit "delete."
Mar 12, 2015 - 7:33:46 AM
A Final First-Place Finish?
Every year since 1995, The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal have measured the state of economic freedom in the world. We go country by country, poring over the details of who's up, who's down, and who's treading water. And through all the changes we've charted, one thing hasn't changed: Hong Kong takes the top slot. But while Hong Kong in many ways continues to act as a fine example for other countries who aspire to be economically free, its foothold on the number-one spot is slipping.
Mar 5, 2015 - 7:50:35 AM
Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None
"Supporters of free markets, limited government, and robust civil society free from interference by federal overlords must find a way to speak to the people who are being left behind." - Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America
Jan 21, 2015 - 8:10:01 AM
Why Gasoline Prices Are Down -- And How to Keep It That Way
Since 2008, we've increased our domestic supply of oil by 50 percent. Thanks to technological breakthroughs such as hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and horizontal drilling, we're able to find and extract far more oil than we possibly could have years ago. Oil production in states such as North Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma has doubled in the last six years. The U.S. is now the world's number-one producer of oil and natural gas. Signs that read "No to fracking" might as well read, "Yes to higher prices." And "no" to the more than 100,000 jobs created in the oil and gas extraction industry over the last few years.
Dec 14, 2014 - 12:23:03 AM
A Nation of Problem-Solvers No More?
Problem solving makes us stronger, smarter and more confident. Without the ability and the responsibility to solve the problems we encounter on a regular basis, neither success nor happiness is possible. Historically Americans have risen to every challenge and have seen opportunities in every problem we have encountered. But the ambition of the modern welfare state is to eliminate problems entirely and provide a government guarantee of security for all.
Dec 3, 2014 - 7:50:12 AM
The Facts Behind Obamacare's Numbers
Why would so many people be losing employer-based coverage? Because of the negative incentives built into Obamacare. It's cheaper for many employers (who might otherwise face steep rises in coverage costs or fines from Washington) to stop offering coverage altogether and let their employees fall into government-run programs.
Nov 9, 2014 - 3:50:20 AM
Our Great Charter of Liberty
When July 4 rolls around, there's no mistaking it. There are fireworks, parades and other patriotic tributes to our Declaration of Independence. But if you're like most Americans, September 17 comes and goes without any fanfare.
Oct 11, 2014 - 1:53:09 AM
The Encouraging Rise in School Choice
And as education expert Virginia Walden Ford notes in the "2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity," when we consider all school choice options -- deductions for homeschooling expenses, for example -- more than one million children are benefitting from choice in education. That's quite a jump to occur in just over a decade. ...This shouldn't surprise us one bit. It's only natural that parents would take advantage of the rise in school choice options to ensure that their kids were in the best schools possible.
Sep 10, 2014 - 2:00:29 AM
Our National GPS Device
Among the highlights of this year's report: The family tax burden. The amount of money extracted from our paychecks is a good place to start. According to Heritage chief economist Stephen Moore, that tax burden has grown from about 5 percent of national income a century ago to almost 20 percent today. It's 1.7 percentage points higher today than it was in 2004. And -- color me shocked! -- that rise corresponds roughly to the rise in government spending.
Aug 10, 2014 - 12:30:00 AM
The Trouble with Banning Trans Fats
If the amount of artificial trans fats we consume is a problem, it's one we already have well in hand. In 2003, we were consuming 4.6 grams per day, or 2 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet. By 2012, this number had dropped to only 1 gram of trans fat per day, or 0.5 percent of the typical adult diet. In short, even without the FDA trying to restrict consumption, we've had a remarkable 78 percent reduction. The Institute of Medicine recommends that trans fat consumption should be as low as possible, not that we should seek to consume zero trans fat, whether artificial or natural. Yet the FDA is trying to eliminate the consumption of artificial trans fat. Why?
Aug 8, 2014 - 9:15:56 AM
Unions Putting the Squeeze on Home Health Care Workers
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) likes to present itself as the champion of the little guy. But officials of SEIU Healthcare -- "the fastest-growing union of healthcare, child care, home care and nursing home workers in the Midwest" -- aren't averse to a little high-living. For example, in FY 2013 officials of SEIU's Illinois-Indiana healthcare division (SEIU-HCII) chalked up more than $1.1 million in travel expenses -- $13,000 of it on D.C. hotel expenses rung up at President Obama's second inaugural.
Jul 23, 2014 - 2:25:26 AM
Measuring the "Great Society"
Changing this won't be easy. As Nicholas Eberstadt points out in AEI's recent publication The Great Society at Fifty: The Triumph and the Tragedy: "So deeply impressed is the Great Society into our consciousness that, as a practical matter, it is scarcely possible for most citizens now alive even to imagine the American way of life in the days before our huge, activist, modern welfare state came into existence."
Jul 6, 2014 - 2:17:27 AM
The Disastrous Tenure of "Obama's Enforcer"
To some observers, the idea of a truly ethical Justice Department is something of a pipe dream. As far as they're concerned, the attorney general is nominated by a president who's either Democrat or Republican, so we shouldn't be surprised when he conducts business is a partisan manner.
Jul 2, 2014 - 2:05:27 AM