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Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength”

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength”
Source: Heritage Foundation

The U.S. military may be weaker than you think. All but one branch of America’s military and nuclear forces are currently operating at “marginal” strength levels. The exception is the Air Force, which is rated as “strong” in the “Index of U.S. Military Strength,” released today by The Heritage Foundation.

A first-of-its-kind report, the Index provides an in-depth analysis of global threats to vital U.S. interests and our armed forces’ ability to prevail against them. It concludes that, overall, U.S. armed forces are not capable of prevailing when fighting two regional conflicts at once, a longstanding strategic objective. It notes that, while terrorism still presents a serious threat, Russia and China pose the greatest danger to U.S. national security.

Digital divide: Improving Internet access in the developing world through affordable services and diverse content

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Digital divide: Improving Internet access in the developing world through affordable services and diverse content
Source: Brookings Institution

In his latest paper, Darrell West argues that it is especially important to make progress on digital access, particularly in the cases of India and China. In these countries, an estimated 2 to 4 billion people have no Internet access, comprising over half of the world’s disconnected populace. Addressing barriers to connectivity in this part of the world will make it easier for the unconnected to use digital services, bring them into the technology era, and give them access to valuable tools for economic development and social integration.

From this research, it is clear that zero rating programs—waiving data caps for people who lack the financial resources for expensive data plans—represent effective ways to expand access by bringing impoverished people into a diverse and competitive digital world and drive demand for local content and services. These approaches help to address the affordability challenges that exist, especially in many parts of the developing world.

Policies that promote telecommunications competition help reduce access charges and thereby enable more people to use Internet services. And if people can access a wide range of digital content through multilingualism or their local languages, it will promote greater literacy and show people the social, economic, and civic benefits of Internet connectivity. With these kinds of changes, it is possible to narrow the digital divide and bring digital benefits to billions of people around the world.

Why Patent Reforms Are Needed: Intellectual Property Abuses Threaten Innovation and Cost Consumers Billions

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Why Patent Reforms Are Needed: Intellectual Property Abuses Threaten Innovation and Cost Consumers Billions (PDF)
Source: Heartland Institute

The past several years have given rise to an industry of patent stockpiling – often referred to as “aggregation” – and patent assertion, filing either frivolous or mostly baseless lawsuits. These efforts have the effect of thwarting legitimate innovation and discouraging competition, both of which are essential to a thriving economy.

The potential financial gains of patent stockpiling and assertion have driven some struggling, well-known consumer brands to shutter their manufacturing operations entirely and shift to full-time patent assertion. Internationally, governments are forming their own patent assertion entities (PAEs) and using them as weapons of protectionism and government subsidization of private enterprise.

The White House, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), courts, and a growing number of state legislatures have taken action against patent abuse. Congress has made a number of reform attempts that have fallen short. With new leadership entering the Senate, legislative action on Capitol Hill is expected.

Part 1 of this paper briefly reviews the economic impact of stockpiling and assertion, and Part 2 describes the several forms such patent abuse can take. Part 3 describes the America Invents Act of 2011 – the most significant overhaul of the patent system in decades – and discusses the likelihood of new action on patent reform in the 114th Congress. Part 4 summarizes policy recommendations.

The Budget Book: 106 Ways to Reduce the Size & Scope of Government

March 2, 2015 Comments off

The Budget Book: 106 Ways to Reduce the Size & Scope of Government
Source: Heritage Foundation

The 114th Congress has an opportunity and obligation to stop Washington’s taxpayer-financed spending spree. Over the past 20 years, spending has grown 63 percent faster than inflation. Unless leaders emerge with the courage to change the nation’s course for the better, the future looks like more of the same as total annual spending will grow from $3.5 trillion in 2014 to $5.8 trillion in 2024.1

Congress is financing the profligate spending by increasing taxes and incurring stunning amounts of debt. In 2014, Congress borrowed 14 cents of every dollar it spent, totaling a half a trillion dollars. Even more alarming, the country just surpassed $18 trillion in cumulative national debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the country is projected to borrow another $9.6 trillion over the next 10 years

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective
Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective, written by Dr. Muki Haklay of University College London, examines European citizen science projects to understand how they can support or influence public policy (and how policy can support or constrain citizen science). The report concludes with suggestions for how projects around the world can be structured to meet policy goals—for example, through strategic partnerships, and by developing guidelines to facilitate the use of citizen science data.

Spending on public schools across Canada increases while student enrolment falls

February 27, 2015 Comments off

Spending on public schools across Canada increases while student enrolment falls
Source: Fraser Institute

Despite a steady decline in student enrolment, spending on public schools in Canada has skyrocketed, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, Education Spending in Canada: What’s Actually Happening?, examines changes in spending on public schools in Canada over the last decade.

For example, between 2001/02 and 2011/12, the most recent years for which data is available, spending in public schools across all provinces rose to $59.6 billion from $38.9 billion—a 53.1 per cent increase.

Yet despite these spending increases, during this 10-year period public school enrolment dropped in almost every province. Subsequently, on a per student basis, for that time period, spending on public schools increased 63.2 per cent, rising to $11,835 from $7,250.

The Political Assimilation of Immigrants and Their Descendants

February 27, 2015 Comments off

The Political Assimilation of Immigrants and Their Descendants
Source: Cato Institute

Many skeptics of immigration reform claim that immigrants and their descendants will not politically assimilate and will consistently vote for bigger government for generations. Political survey data suggest that this fear is unwarranted, as the political differences between immigrants and native-born Americans are small and, in most cases, so small that they are statistically insignificant. In the cases where the differences are significant, the descendants of immigrants rapidly assimilate into America’s political culture by adopting mainstream ideologies, political party identifications, and policy positions held by longer-settled Americans. The policy and political views of immigrants and their descendants are mostly indistinguishable from Americans whose families have been here for at least four generations. As a result of these small differences in opinion and the subsequent rapid assimilation of immigrants, they and their descendants are unlikely to alter America’s aggregate political attitudes.

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