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Understanding Public Pension Debt

August 8, 2014 Comments off

Understanding Public Pension Debt
Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute

State government pension debt burdens labor markets and worsens the business climate. To get a clear picture of the extent of this effect around the nation, this paper amalgamates several estimates of states’ pension debts and ranks them from best to worst.

Today, many states face budget crunches due to massive pension debts that have accumulated over the past two decades, often in the billions of dollars. There are several reasons for this.

One reason is legal. In many states, pension payments have stronger legal protections than other kinds of debt. This has made reform extremely difficult, as government employee unions can sue to block any scaling back of generous pension packages.

Then there is the politics. For years, government employee unions have effectively opposed efforts to control the costs of generous pension benefits. Meanwhile, politicians who rely on government unions for electoral support have been reluctant to pursue reform, as they find it much easier to pass the bill to future generations than to anger their union allies.

Another contributing factor has been math—or rather, bad math.

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An Interstate Analysis of Right to Work Laws

August 7, 2014 Comments off

An Interstate Analysis of Right to Work Laws
Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute

The compelling preponderance of evidence suggests there is a substantial, significant, and positive relationship between economic growth in a state and the presence of a right to work (RTW) law.

This paper presents a labor economics analysis of the effect of right to work laws on state economies, and ranks states’ per capita income loss from not having an RTW law. People have been migrating in large numbers from non- RTW states to RTW ones. The evidence suggests that economic growth is greater in RTW states.

Nation’s Chemical Law Not Broken

March 9, 2012 Comments off

Nation’s Chemical Law Not Broken
Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute

Proposed reforms to the nation’s chemical safety law—the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)—threaten to undermine public health and innovation, according to a study released today by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). A broad array of environmental and industrial interests are lobbying Congress for TSCA reform, claiming that “modernization” is necessary because the law’s risk standard and other provisions are insufficient.

In The Real Meaning of TSCA Modernization: The Shift from Science-Based Standards to Over-Precaution, CEI Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini, Ph.D., explains that TSCA’s existing risk-based standard is one of the best on the books. It demands regulatory accountability, applying many of the measures found in regulatory reform proposals such as the Obama Administration’s Executive Order 13563 on regulatory reform.

“Rather than failing to serve public health, the TSCA’s existing standards hold regulators accountable, ensuring that regulations do not needlessly undermine innovation or produce adverse public health effects,” says Logomasini. “We should demand at least that much from any government regulation.”

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The Report on Carcinogens: What Went Wrong and What Can Be Done to Fix It

January 23, 2012 Comments off

The Report on Carcinogens: What Went Wrong and What Can Be Done to Fix It
Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute

There is nothing wrong in principle with publishing periodic reports identifying substances that pose carcinogenic risks to humans. Cancer remains a serious disease even though advances in diagnosis and treatment have rendered most types much less often fatal than they were when President Richard Nixon declared the “war on cancer” in 1971. But it would be a mistake to continue basing these reports on scientific knowledge and primitive technology dating from the 1960s.

The National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) Report on Carcinogens (RoC) is one such periodic report. The NTP has interpreted its statutory charge in a way that never was consistent with the law authorizing its preparation, resulting in Reports that never could live up to Congress’ original intent. Though the law requires the NTP to estimate the number of Americans actually exposed, and to list substances only if a significant number of Americans are exposed to them, the NTP functionally ignores exposure. The law also requires the NTP to estimate the reduction in cancer incidence resulting from regulatory standards, but it does not perform that required task, either.

Problems with the RoC begin with the NTP’s listing criteria. A careful review of the text shows that they are mere tautologies. For example, a substance is deemed to be a known carcinogen if the NTP decides that the evidence from human studies is sufficient. The minimum threshold for designation as a known carcinogen is unknown to the public because the NTP never says what is required for evidence to be sufficient. Thus, a substance is a known human carcinogen if the NTP says the evidence is sufficient. Conversely, the evidence is sufficient if the NTP says the substance is a known carcinogen. Similarly circular logic pervades the definition of a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen.

Worse, the NTP appears to be institutionally incapable of incorporating decades of advancements in scientific knowledge into its listing decisions, and there is no transparent way to scientifically rebut or reverse a listing decision once it has been made.

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New Study Touts Benefits of Expanded Oil Trade with Canada

August 12, 2011 Comments off

New Study Touts Benefits of Expanded Oil Trade with Canada
Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute/Fraser Institute

Canada now provides more oil to the U.S. than all Persian Gulf countries combined, lessening America’s so-called “dependence” on oil from the Middle East, yet environmental pressure groups continue to oppose efforts to expand oil importation from Canada, especially crude derived from tar sands. A new study published by Canada’s Fraser Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute advocates expanding this trade relationship with Canada.

Using data compiled from both CEI and Fraser, author Mark Milke, Ph.D. outlines reasons why Americans should not dismiss the importance of Canadian oil exports, particularly oil sands.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects tar sands to play an increasing role in the energy market over the next several decades, making Canada a necessary part of U.S. energy policy. The fact that Canada is an allied nation sharing the same values means that any proposal to expand trade with them needs to be taken very seriously.

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