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InsiderOnline Blog: December 2004

Ringing In the New, Rounding Up the Old

The Allegheny Institute hopes 2004 was a turnaround year for Pittsburgh's financial state, and offers tips for continued improvement in 2005.

The American Council on Science and Health recaps the 10 things you don't have to be scared of, despite what you heard on the news this year. Among them are such frightful things as vaccines, salmon and the dreaded teflon.

The ACSH also offers some solid New Year's resolutions.

The Maryland Public Policy Institute has no time for year-end wrap-ups because it's already in a hot battle over med-mal reform.

The Howard Center looks at 2004 for the Family.

Everyone have a great New Year's and keep safe!


Posted on 12/30/04 03:09 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

New Digs for the New Year

Amy Ridenour announces that the National Center for Public Policy Research has a new office. It's nice to have a very close, very smart new neighbor (just blocks from Heritage HQ). And I love what you've done with the place! Congratulations, National Center!

Amy also offers new contact info, so dig into the ol' database so you don't lose track of the National Center.

Posted on 12/30/04 01:45 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

New Rules

Hal Young of the Locker Room points out the new IRS rules for 501 (c) (3) organizations-- helpful for think tankers.

Certainly we can debate whether there's anything worth retaining in our current tax system, but for now we go to file with the tax code we have, not the tax code we might want or wish to have at a later time.

Posted on 12/29/04 04:37 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Shame on You

The Pacific Justice Institute presents their 2004 Left Coast Hall of Shame Awards. These are all from California, so you know they've got to be good.

1. Cupertino, California, school principal prohibits Christian teacher from discussing several historical documents and papers relating to America’s Christian heritage, including the Declaration of Independence.

2. City of Visalia, California, seizes a downtown theater by eminent domain rather than permit a local church to purchase it for religious worship and community service.

3. California Attorney General publishes advisory opinion claiming that public schools are not allowed to notify parents or require permission before releasing minor students from campus to obtain an abortion.

4. Hesperia, California, high school teacher and counselor posts offensive political posters and stickers denigrating Republicans and President Bush in classrooms during election season.

5. City of Sacramento imposes illegal occupancy restrictions on a church of Russian immigrants – causing the worship service to split in half and meet in a local residential garage.

6. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issues marriage licenses to homosexual partners in clear violation of California law.

7. California Supreme Court rules that Catholic Charities must provide birth control to its employees despite their religious objection.

8. City of Redlands and Los Angeles County elect to remove historical depictions of crosses from their municipal seals after being pressured by the ACLU – despite the offers from numerous organizations to assist them in defending the constitutionality of their seals.

9. U.S. Supreme Court rules that Washington State is allowed to deny scholarship funds to students studying devotional theology in precedent setting decision.

10. California Federal District Court rules that religious objectors to union membership are not entitled to the same benefits as political objectors.


Posted on 12/29/04 03:16 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Reagan Revolution Meets Orange Revolution

The National Center's Amy Ridenour finds out she's more closely connected to the Ukrainian election than she had thought:

I just read John Fund's On the Trail column in the Wall Street Journal and learned that an old friend of mine, with whom I had lost touch, is married to Victor Yushchenko. Yes, that Victor Yushchenko.

John Fund calls her Kateryna Chumachenko Yushchenko; I knew her as Kathy Chumachenko, and a more pro-freedom Reaganite you could not meet.


Posted on 12/28/04 12:27 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

A Christmas Story

Club for Growth points out a great holiday story with a great moral. A man donated all of his Social Security benefits for the year to the Salvation Army. Why the Salvation Army instead of just giving it back to the government?

“Undoubtedly, the Salvation Army will make more productive use of the money than would be the case if I returned it to the government.”

And God bless us, every one.

Posted on 12/21/04 09:55 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Reuters is Scared of the Snow

According to Policy Weblogger, who's on a great rant about federal spending, with plenty of good links.

I'll add to his list a link of my own-- the search results on the subject, which proves ridiculous spending is a universal problem.

Posted on 12/20/04 10:59 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Cool Blog

Just found this neat blog at Citizens Against Government Waste, publishers of one of my all-time favorites, the Congressional Pig Book.

As you would expect, the blog chronicles instances of government waste. Looks like it's updating every couple of days. Maybe it'll be more often once the new Congress gets started. Here's a good one from NY, NY:

The New York City Board of Elections, paid close to $2 million over the last four years for chauffeurs to drive workers home after hours, and the board recently signed contracts valued at about $6 million with two transportation companies to provide the service for another four years. The board said it cannot afford to upgrade its antiquated voting system, becuase the city has failed to provide $1 million it requested earlier in the year for improvements to its Web site and telephone system.

Posted on 12/17/04 03:14 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Kyoto, Where Are You?

Ron Bailey is reporting from Buenos Aires, and says the Kyoto Protocol is doomed.  h/t Instapundit

The folks at Competitive Enterprise Institute are reporting from Kyoto too, over at Ivan Osorio notes what global warming has become to the enviros:

So global warming is now a crime for which there are culprits and victims and that occurs within a short period of time with immediately observable effects?

Posted on 12/17/04 11:25 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Answering the Critics

The Policy Weblogger listens to criticism of Social Security reform. Then responds.


Posted on 12/16/04 05:11 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Educational Kudos

To the winners of the Fordham Foundation's Excellence in Education award winners.

John E. Brandl served for years as a former Democratic member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate. There he was instrumental in enacting many of the state's path-breaking K-12 reforms, especially those that made Minnesota one of the first places to institute programs of education choice.

Marion Joseph served as assistant to California's state superintendent of public instruction from 1970-1982. In 1997, Governor Pete Wilson appointed her to the State Board of Education, where she served until 2003. In this position, she spearheaded an overhaul of the statewide reading curriculum and successfully transformed reading instruction in the state.

Terry M. Moe is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of the Institution's Koret Task Force on K–12 education, and professor of political science at Stanford University. He has done groundbreaking research on the interactions of politics and education, studying and explaining a host of issues, especially focused on school choice.

Posted on 12/16/04 02:36 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Meant to Post Here...

My list of tips on how to celebrate Bill of Rights Day, but they're over at the Townhall C-Log.

But in seriousness, visit the Bill of Rights Institute for all your Bill of Rights needs.


Posted on 12/15/04 02:56 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

A Veritable Baby Shower

It's raining babies in the blogosphere today. Everyone and their mama is talking about how red-staters make more babies than blue-staters, and will continue to make more babies, who will then grow up to be a whole new generation of fertile red-staters.

Uh oh, Michael Moore is going to be very sad to learn that Jesusland begets an even bigger Jesusland.

Here's Hal Young (father of 7), of the John Locke Foundation, responding to a David Brooks column on the subject:

Brooks treats it like an anthropologist -- the "natalist" label and the categorization "defined by parenthood" are the phrases of an outsider, not those he describes. I think most of us would say our true identity is in the total of our religious belief, of which childbearing and child rearing are only one facet; after all, faith informs the believer on his role in the community, his duty to country, the use of his finances, and the daily disciplines of life. It's part of the same package that leads many of us into homeschooling (indeed, the National Center for Educational Statistics reported that nearly two-thirds of homeschooling families had three or more children -- which has other interesting ramifications).

And Paul Chesser backs him up.

It seems Rightwingsparkle is one of this demographic too, herself a stay-at-home mom of four. She has some thoughts on what impact this phenomenon may have already had.

Then, none other than James Taranto points out that more kids these days are getting along with their parents. So much for "another 1960s-style youth rebellion. What's more, intergenerational harmony coupled with the Roe effect ought to lead to a more conservative electorate as these youngsters come of age."

Julian Sanchez has a take on this group, called the Millenials. He thinks it's overreaching to call them conservative or libertarian, but that they could be urged in that direction.

I know AEI and the Manhattan Institute have done something on this too, but I can't seem to find it right now. I'll keep looking.

Posted on 12/14/04 04:54 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

I Could Go For That.

The Second Amendment Foundation suggests celebrating Bill of Rights Day (Dec. 15) by, "purchasing a firearm or ammunition, for yourself or as a gift, to applying for a concealed carry license if you have not yet done so, or visiting a gun range and practicing marksmanship and firearm safety."

A good idea! I've heard lots of good stuff about this place. And it's close to my house. AND, Friday night is Ladies' Night. Good stuff.

Search here for a shooting range near you, courtesy of the NRA.


Posted on 12/14/04 03:36 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

None Too Happy

Project 21, over at the National Center for Public Policy Research, is not amused by Sen. Reid's comments about Clarence Thomas last week.


Posted on 12/14/04 02:01 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

It's Che Day

Powerline has some thoughts on the Che-glorifying "Motorcycle Diaries." Hat tip, No Left Turns.

Jay Nordlinger has declared a Che glorification watch.

And John J. Miller at The Corner has spotted Cuban Americans fighting against the glorification. It seems the New York Public Library is selling colorful, whimsical Che watches in its gift store, and some are not happy about it. Here's my favorite passage from the New York Sun story on it:

A spokeswoman for the New York Public Library, Tina Hoerenz, said that under no circumstances would the library sell Hitler merchandise. When informed that some Cubans felt that selling a pop-culture image of Guevara was the moral equivalent of glorifying Hitler, she replied, "I don't know what to say about that."

Posted on 12/14/04 11:13 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Watch Out for Reid

A Washington state talk radio host explains why Sen. Harry Reid shouldn't be misunderestimated. Brian Maloney got up close and personal with Reid's bad side when he was working in talk radio in Nevada:

After spending a program lambasting Reid over a front-page Wall Street Journal story connecting him to a controversial land exchange involving Del Webb Corp., Reid and his staff finally took the gloves off. They demanded tapes of the show, threatened litigation and personally attacked me in a Las Vegas Review-Journal story. Station management publicly downplayed the pressure placed by Reid and his staff to get me off the air, but what was going on behind the scenes was less clear...

Harry's busy consolidating power and working on media control at the same time he's characterized as unassuming. If he attempts to reinstate the FCC's former Fairness Doctrine to muzzle talk radio once and for all, I will be the least surprised person in the country.


Posted on 12/14/04 10:45 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Smoked Out

Chris Derry of the Bluegrass Institute in Kentucky is discussing the pros and cons of a tobacco tax tonight on TV.

If you can't catch it on TV, check out this Cato publication on how higher taxes didn't fix New York's budget crisis.

Or, there's Paul Gessing's piece on how high taxes (particularly a 75-cent cigarette tax) made Michigan the only state in the union to lose jobs in 2004.

Both houses of the state Republican legislature have actively assisted Granholm in making Michigan inhospitable to business and job growth.

In the past year alone, the Republican-dominated legislature has delayed a scheduled income-tax cut by six months (costing taxpayers $77 million), raised cigarette taxes by 75 cents ($300 million annual cost to smokers), hiked the tax on Detroit’s casinos from 18 percent to 24 percent (costing $49 million), boosted driving fees and penalties (cost of $115 million annually), sped up the collection of county property taxes, and generally avoided steep cuts in state government spending.

You can also check out the Smoker's Lounge at the Heartland Institute's Web site for tons of info on cigarette taxes, smokers' rights, and junk science.


Posted on 12/13/04 02:29 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Where's the Glass Ceiling?

Regina Herzlinger, of the Manhattan Institute, puts it in perspective:

In 1988, worried about the decline in female MBA applicants, I had publicly contended that the CEO barrier for women — the glass ceiling — was a myth perpetrated by the "I am victim, hear me whine" branch of the women's movement...But I stuck to my guns: The paucity of female CEOs was primarily caused by the paucity of qualified candidates, not by prejudice.

So, Herzlinger assumed that these days a reunion of Harvard Business School grads from 1964-1979 would include many more CEOs, who had spent their years climbing the ladder. She was right:

I found that by 2004, 16 women led Fortune 1,000 companies and many more headed large private firms and great universities and other non-profits. This admirable, accomplished and diverse lot included Meg Whitman of eBay and Andrea Jung of Avon.

But there was a bigger shift at work:

I assumed that female managers wanted to shatter the glass ceiling; but, as it turned out, many wanted something else entirely. As women, blessed with creativity and the flexibility to re-create themselves more freely than men, many rejected big corporate careers, opting to become entrepreneurs.



Posted on 12/13/04 11:20 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

News from the Inbox

I've got news from around the think tank world:

The Nevada Policy Research Institute is planning a forum on Nevada property taxes in January. That is if it can free up its researchers from charting Harry Reid's misstatements. As the NPRI newsletter puts it: "Reid Debuts on National Stage With Both Feet in Mouth."

At Ashbrook, Andrew Busch tries to save the Democrats from themselves amd John Zvesper wonders about help from Europe.

The Galen Institute hopes folks are in the giving mood round about this time of year.


Posted on 12/13/04 10:58 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Independence Subs for Instaman

Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute is standing in for Glenn Reynolds at He's got a bunch of good stuff on the virtues of good, clean self-defense, including a commemoration of Armed Jews Week.

Speaking of the Independence Institute, President Jon Caldara lays out the best rock n' roll movies of all time in a column for the Boulder Daily Camera. I'm with him on Hard Day's Night ("He's a very clean old man."), but he clearly forgot entirely about this rock n' roll jewel.

We do agree on this, however:

But in essense, all you need to know about rock can be learned by the masterpiece documentary "This is Spinal Tap."

I think fondly of this movie every time I straighten my hair. You see, my flattening iron goes to 20. Most flattening irons only go to 10, and where do you go from there? Nowhere. But mine, mine goes to 20.

Posted on 12/10/04 05:33 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Educating the New Population

A Wall Street Journal piece this week highlighted the imact immigration is having on public education in the South, referring specifically to Georgia and North Carolina.

Since that piece came out, Jenna Ashley Robinson and Hal Young have been talking about it from John Locke Foundation headquarters in North Carolina.

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation also has something to say about educating immigrants in its area. Not suprisingly, it's alternatives to traditional public school that are getting results: 

Stepping up to the plate in the DeKalb County school system is the International Community School, a charter elementary school in Atlanta whose students include refugee and immigrant children from nearly 40 countries. The school is located in several classrooms, offices and a few trailers in back of the Avondale Patillo United Methodist Church. Now in its third year, ICS has an enrollment of 230 children in grades K-4 and a waiting list of about 100. Plans are to expand the school to 500 students in grades K-6...

In the 2003-04 school year, ICS met its goals for Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind. According to Mr. Moon, 90 percent of ICS students met or exceeded standards on last year’s third-grade CRCT reading test, and 97 percent met or exceeded standards on that year’s third-grade CRCT math tests.


Posted on 12/10/04 01:32 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Poster Child for Med Mal Problem

Maryland Public Policy Institute has a new study out on medical malpractice reform. From the press release:

According to the Maryland Hospital Association and the state's largest malpractice insurer, the Old Line State has become a poster child for the med-mal problem. Nowhere is the crisis in malpractice more evident than in obstetrics, where 70 percent of physicians have been sued at least once. For OB-GYNs, the average settlement exceeds $1 million; this year the average malpractice premium will reach $150,000, despite the lack of evidence that the state's obstetricians are careless or negligent.

Posted on 12/09/04 12:03 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

New Studies For Ya

The Welfare State We're In: James Bartholomew illustrates the results of Europe's socialist tendencies.

Health Affairs on the public perception of managed care.

Brent Bozell on Weapons of Mass Distortion, like CBS.

And Pacific Research Institute's U.S. Economic Freedom Index.


Posted on 12/06/04 05:05 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Oh, the Tragedy!

Jon Sanders at the John Locke Foundation illustrates how the "Tragedy of the Commons" rears its ugly head when the Foundation is offered communal Christmas chocolates.


Posted on 12/06/04 03:36 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Honey, Do I Look Fat in this Blog?

Don't answer that. We've been experiencing technical difficulties here at all day, but no problems now. Moving on... a few of think tank thoughts on what really does make us fat:

A couple new theories and a couple new folks to sue if you're so inclined: The Adam Smith Institute blog points out new evidence that it's computers making us fat, not food.

(A new study) finds that the frequency with which 11-15 year-olds eat fast food has been falling, along with their consumption of crisps and confectionary. But they spend an average 7.3 hours a week on the internet (up from 5.2 hours in 2003), plus 7.7 hours playing computer games (up from 7.3 hours in 2003).

Meanwhile, Matthew Hisrich of the Buckeye Institute in Ohio, is commenting on two recent publications that suggest it's actually the suburbs that make us fat, giving new meaning to the term "sprawl."

The premise of these publications is that people who live in suburban communities are more likely to live sedentary lives than their urban counterparts. They drive from door to door, rather than walk or bike, for groceries, school and work... With the facts established, the studies’ recommendation — more densely planned communities — appears to be a practical response.

But Hisrich suggests the studies are missing some context:

The authors estimate, for example, that an average person in the most dense and compact county would be six pounds lighter than someone in the least dense county. Changing one’s diet even slightly can achieve similar results... Seeking to dictate neighborhood form to prevent a small weight increase is, however, a tall order for even the most committed social engineer and probably the least cost-effective method to address America’s growing waistlines.  

But the most disturbing part of all this: as a blogger, I'm already pajama-clad and bathroom-dwelling. Now, I find blogging (especially in a suburb of D.C.) will make me fat, too. Perhaps this is all just a clever plot by the plus-sized jammies industry. Very clever indeed.

Posted on 12/06/04 02:51 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Hope For the N.C. Constitution

Folks from The John Locke Foundation and other freedom loving lawyers in N.C. have started a new public interest law group: The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law.

Looks like they're just in time to defend the state constitution-- the UNC law school has just offered John Edwards a teaching position. Paul Chesser at the Locker Room has some other ideas of classes that could be taught by the prettiest Senator.

Posted on 12/03/04 11:13 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

The Cracked Rails

Policy Weblogger has a good post on the privatized British rail industry, which is running much more smoothly than the publicly-owned one did.

In related rail news, AEI's Joseph Vranich has a new book out called "End of the Line." It's an examination of the exorbitant amount of money taxpayers lose on Amtrak every year. Vranich was at a meeting I attended this morning, and noted that the increase in riders since the British system privatized is equal to the entire number of passengers Amtrak serves in a year. And Amtrak has cost taxpayers $27 billion since its inception in 1971.

According to the Townhall book review:

It would be cheaper for the government to buy every Amtrak passenger a discount airline ticket than to continue subsidizing the struggling railroad.

Vranich said every ride on Amtrak is subsidized between $75 and $1,000. So, what's keeping the money flowing despite the ridiculous failure? Vranich blams the combined forces of the railroad labor unions, raliroad supply industry, and the emotional factor-- politicians saying "let's save our trains" tends to play pretty well with a nostalgic public. AEI held a book forum this afternoon for the book.

Posted on 12/01/04 02:39 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

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