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  • Issue Brief posted June 16, 2016 by David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D. Discounting Climate Costs

    Economic analysis of climate change and climate policies is fraught with many problems. Uncertainty and imprecision surround fundamental scientific and economic factors, such as, for example, how much warming will result from a doubling of carbon-dioxide (CO2) levels and how much damage is done by a given change in average world temperature. This paper addresses the…

  • Commentary posted June 9, 2016 by James Sherk Simple - and Wrong - Solutions in Search for Higher Wages

    Why are so many workers struggling today? Some union-backed analysts have a straightforward answer: "Their employers are cheating them." They claim businesses no longer compensate workers for their productivity. This argument demonstrates H.L. Mencken's point that "for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." Competition forces…

  • Backgrounder posted May 31, 2016 by James Sherk Labor’s Share of Income Little Changed Since 1948

    Many commentators claim that labor’s share of income has fallen to historic lows. They claim that a combination of automation, decreased unionization, and free trade reduced workers’ ability to command higher pay. However, changes in how the government measures self-employment income and faster depreciation explain—entirely—the apparent decline in labor’s share. Neither…

  • Backgrounder posted May 31, 2016 by James Sherk Workers’ Compensation: Growing Along with Productivity

    Increasing living standards depends on increasing worker productivity. Competition causes firms to tie wages closely to employees’ productivity. Since 1973, the average private-sector employee’s productivity has increased by 81 percent, while their average compensation has increased by 78 percent. Some analysts have produced charts purporting to show that productivity has…

  • Issue Brief posted May 19, 2016 by James Sherk California’s Unprecedented Minimum Wage Increase Will Hurt Vulnerable Workers

    The California legislature has passed an unprecedented statewide minimum wage hike. By 2023, the minimum wage across California will be $15 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, this will be higher than any statewide minimum wage in U.S. history. It will also be higher than the national minimum wage of any country in the world. The real increase will be even greater in inland…

  • Backgrounder posted May 11, 2016 by Lindsey Burke, Salim Furth, Ph.D. Research Review: Universal Preschool May Do More Harm than Good

    Evidence continues to mount that government-funded preschool fails to fulfill the promises of its proponents. New studies of large-scale preschool programs in Quebec and Tennessee show that vastly expanding access to free or subsidized preschool may worsen behavioral and emotional outcomes. Even proponents of universal preschool admit that it does nothing to improve…

  • Backgrounder posted April 22, 2016 by David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D., Nicolas Loris, Katie Tubb, Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D. The State of Climate Science: No Justification for Extreme Policies

    Hysteria over global warming is now pervasive in the federal government, driving not just the Obama Administration’s energy and environmental policies, but also those of nearly every federal department and agency.[1] Throughout his term in office, President Obama consistently has said that policy action to combat man-made global warming is imperative and urgent. On the…

  • Issue Brief posted April 15, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Six Hidden Taxes

    Thousands of federal regulations raise the prices of goods and services that Americans buy. Just six of these regulations raise prices enough to cost the average American household $1,005 per year.[1] Consumers pay hidden taxes when they buy a new or used car, fill their gas tank, and pay for their groceries. According to most estimates, income growth for middle-class…

  • Issue Brief posted April 15, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Local Land-Use Reform Can Save Money and Raise Wages

    Americans who are struggling to pay their bills or to increase their standard of living would get a big lift if local governments around the country reduced the regulation of land use and strengthened individual property rights. Too many local governments have bought into the harmful ideas that cities and suburbs ought to be “planned” by experts and that new construction…

  • Backgrounder posted April 13, 2016 by Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D., Nicolas Loris, David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D. Consequences of Paris Protocol: Devastating Economic Costs, Essentially Zero Environmental Benefits

    During the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, President Barack Obama met with world leaders from around the globe to discuss plans to combat climate change. The general consensus from the summit was that the use of natural resources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas—which provide 80 percent of the world’s energy needs—should be avoided. Furthermore,…

  • Commentary posted April 12, 2016 by John L. Ligon USDA's Rural Housing Service Should Be Plowed Under

    Among the many federal agencies with an “affordable housing” mission is the Agriculture Department’s Rural Housing Service (RHS). It was established in 1949 to provide housing assistance to poor farmers and farm workers. But what is a federal agency without mission creep? By 1961, RHS expanded its portfolio to include direct mortgage loans to individuals residing on…

  • Special Report posted April 11, 2016 by Geoffrey Lawrence, James Sherk, Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D., Cameron Belt How Government Unions Affect State and Local Finances: An Empirical 50-State Review

    Executive Summary Over the past half-century, the American union movement has moved into government. Despite highly publicized efforts to curtail collective bargaining powers of government unions in Ohio and Wisconsin, almost all changes to government collective bargaining statutes over the past 20 years have increased, not decreased, the powers enjoyed by government…

  • Issue Brief posted April 6, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Rescuing Entitlements and Pensions: Study Shows Americans Can Work Longer

    A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) estimates that Americans can work significantly longer than they currently do.[1] According to the study, Americans could work an additional 2.5 years to 4.2 years on average between the ages of 55 and 69. This is equivalent to a 30 percent to 50 percent increase in employment among this age group. This is…

  • Commentary posted April 5, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Want to Fight Global Warming? Forget Fuel Economy Standards and Focus on Land Use.

    Having led and won the fight in the 1960s and ‘70s to reduce air pollution from automobiles, California's road regulators turned their sights on a more ambitious goal: curbing global warming at the tailpipe through fuel-economy standards. But powerful evidence shows that these standards are costly for consumers and have almost no impact on the environment. The federal…

  • Issue Brief posted April 1, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D., Rachel Greszler Draft House Legislation Falls Short of Priorities for Puerto Rico

    Congress should not lose sight of key conservative priorities as it considers whether (and how) to respond to the economic and fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. The troubled territory has been a laboratory for progressive politics and crony capitalism for decades. Predictably, the government has smothered the private sector, and workers receive a lower share of income in…