Most Americans still have not yet felt the economic recovery. Good paying jobs remain scarce across most of the country. Harrison County, West Virginia has found prosperity other places can only dream about. In early 2010 unemployment hit desperation levels at nearly nine percent. Now the jobless rate only four years later has dipped to 4.9 percent -- which economists consider full employment. Most would call this an economic miracle.
Jason Stverak | All Articles
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Jason Stverak is the President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a leading journalism non-profit organization. The Franklin Center is dedicated to providing reporters and non-profit organizations at the state and local level with training, expertise, and technical support. For more information on the Franklin Center please visit www.FranklinCenterHQ.org.
The winds of change roared through the American political system this November, but clearly they didn’t blow hard enough to break congressional love for wasteful subsidies like the wind energy production tax credit.
For over two years, New York has awaited results from a natural gas study commissioned by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The study examined the effects of the hydrofracturing method of drilling for natural gas on the environment. Last week, Cuomo announced that the Health Department would issue its results by years’ end -- in other words, after election day early next month.
The BP Deepwater Horizon spill has cost taxpayers and business tens of billions of dollars, dealing a serious blow to fishing, tourism, and other industries in the region. Now BP has put up over $30 billion to compensate people, businesses, and government for the damage caused. Unfortunately, much of that relief isn’t reaching the people who need it most.
NATO members convene in Wales this week with a full agenda and urgent matters at hand. Retired Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander, has said, “This is the most operationally important summit since the fall of the [Berlin] wall because things are changing so fundamentally with Russia and with the Arab Spring, the changes are in the operational zone."
Poor Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to know if she’s rich or “dead broke.” But, amidst her book tour and $200,000-a-pop speaking engagements, Mrs. Clinton says she and Bill got where they are with “hard work.”
In the first week of July 1776, delegates to the Continental Congress debated, compromised, and ultimately signed their names to a declaration of independence from the British crown. The most important consequence of the document they signed was the establishment of the United States as a sovereign nation. Nearly as consequential, however, was the ascension of Thomas Jefferson to our national pantheon.
The EPA’s new CO2 emissions rule may be designed to combat global warming, but it will instead accomplish exactly one goal -- killing off the American coal industry. The rule, which requires both new and existing power plants to cut emissions by 30 percent over the next 11 years, deliberately targets coal-fired plants that now face massive compliance costs. In effect, the rule is an end-around way of eliminating American coal as an affordable and practical source of electricity generation.
Corn is incredibly versatile — it makes paper, porcelain, toothpaste, solvent, instant coffee, drywall, and ethanol. But too much of a good thing can kill you. In 2000, 5 percent of the U.S. corn crop was converted to ethanol. By 2012, that figure had spiked to 40 percent, most of which became a gasoline additive. Given that ethanol contains one third less energy than gasoline, no competitive business in its right mind would be selling the stuff — unless, of course, they were forced to.
After disturbing revelations last year that the Department of Justice was treating the privacy of U.S. citizens with the disdain it once reserved for enemies of the state, hopes were briefly raised that Congress would finally get around to legislating some long overdue protections for journalists. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently announced that the Senate has the votes to pass a media shield law to do so. Unfortunately, Sen. Schumer’s bill, the Free Flow of Information Act (FFIA), falls disappointingly short.
California’s historic drought is getting worse by the day, as water providers are now levying unprecedented cutbacks on municipalities and farmers. The federal Bureau of Reclamation had already announced that there’s a 50 percent chance that parts of California will face water rationing at some point next year, and the state government has cut off over 1 million acres of farmland from the state’s reservoirs. Although many Californians have never before experienced water shortages of this magnitude, water scarcity has long been a reality for the state’s farmers, who find it more difficult to make a living each year thanks to green policies crafted by politicians and activist judges clueless to the value of this scarce resource.
Just as the Obama administration exhausted its arsenal of stall tactics and seemed resigned to approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Nebraska threw one final roadblock in the way of this job-creating project. Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy overturned the law that allowed Gov. Dave Heineman to give formal approval to Keystone, and the fate of the pipeline now rests in the hands of the state’s Public Service Commission. The commission has no reason to further delay the project, and should act quickly to deliver jobs to Americans eager to pick up a shovel.
Growing up in the Dakotas, I learned firsthand about the value and many uses of land -- from family farms and real estate development to the spectacular protected wilderness of our national parks. Responsible land development is foundational to economic growth, but the federal tax code actually disincentivizes development by encouraging the creation of “conservation easements,” which permanently bar land from productive use. As our lawmakers seek to close loopholes and eliminate wasteful deductions, conservation easements should be at the top of the list.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia don’t often agree, but the increasingly widespread practice of collecting DNA from arrested individuals is bringing progressives and conservatives together in opposition. Our DNA is our most intimate personal information, and government should not have the right to seize it and store it in a permanent database merely because a person is suspected of having committed a crime.
The federal government shutdown has shown us the true face of Washington, and it’s ugly. The partisan bickering, grandstanding, and persistent refusal to compromise we’ve seen over the past two weeks is emblematic of everything Americans don’t like about their president and Congress.
When President Obama nominated Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the next secretary of transportation, he gave the rising politician a chance to become one of the youngest cabinet members in history. But Foxx isn’t qualified for the job.
Local and state governments around the nation are struggling to move out of the red. Some are cutting spending while others are laying off government employees. But one city has decided to levy a new tax on a group of individuals who voice their lives, problems, and concerns via the internet. Yes, bloggers in Philadelphia beware: you are now subject to a $300 “business privilege license.”
During a commencement address at Hampton University, President Obama bemoaned increasing use of technology by Americans to stay entertained instead of “informed and engaged.”
Now we should call it anti-social media.