“It is always from a minority acting in ways different from what the majority would prescribe that the majority in the end learns to do better.” –F.A. Hayek
“We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” -House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, March 2010
These infamous words take on a new meaning as we continue to discover more implications of the 2,800 page health care reform law, commonly referred to as ObamaCare.
Today in The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Kessler writes how ObamaCare impacts yet another part of our lives: it actually “punishes work.” How?
Kessler points to the government-funded subsidies designed to Americans purchase health care coverage. With the onset of government-run health care exchanges in 2014, the cost of coverage will grow so much that government will offer subsidies to help citizens buy insurance. However, as incomes rise for individuals and families, the amount of their government subsidies will decrease. Kessler explains the damaging impact of such a sliding scale:
“Consider a wife in a family with $90,000 in income. If she were to earn an additional $3,700, her family would lose the insurance subsidy and be more than $10,000 poorer. In addition, she would also pay more in income and Social Security taxes. Taken together, these policies impose a substantial punishment on work effort.”
In effect, the law will punish those who earn more. As the example above shows, families and individuals will all too often be incentivized to remain in lower income brackets to qualify for higher government insurance subsidies.
Kessler closes with this poignant question:
“For middle-income families, should economic success be determined by work and savings, or by participation in a government program?”
Is this what Congress was hoping to find when they passed the law?
Our high schools are not preparing kids for college and careers
It was a remarkably candid admission from Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday.
“Holliday said Kentucky’s education system sells a false promise to students that if they graduate high school they are ready for college or a career. The reality is, he said, that many of those graduates are not.”
Basically, that’s exactly what the Bluegrass Institute has been pointing out since we opened shop in 2003. It’s nice to have at least one state official honest enough to admit to this obvious truth.
Holliday also pointed out that the state’s new assessment and accountability system, which will launch in the next school term, aims to change this unsatisfactory situation. I hope his aim is right on target.
WAVE-3 reports that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is one step closer to the enactment of the nation’s most aggressive school voucher law. This law would allow parents to use part of the public school money to send their child to a private school, instead.
Ebony James, an Indiana mom, says the change can’t come soon enough. She is frustrated by slow progress of improvement in the public school system, saying, “We’ve been improving for how many years now?”
James’ frustration is interesting. Whites in Indiana outscored Kentucky by a statistically significant amount in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Grade 8 math assessments. Indiana’s poor whites also outscored our poor whites on that same math assessment.
In fourth grade reading in 2009 – one of Kentucky’s strongest areas in the NAEP – Indiana’s whites and blacks had scores that were not statistically significantly different from whites and blacks in Kentucky, respectively.
Thus, while our state wallows along, content with the slow improvement in our schools, at least one parent in Indiana and the Indiana State Senate say similar or better progress to that in Kentucky is not enough. It’s time to do something radically different.
Sadly, while Indiana moves forward to give parents more choices in schools, here in Kentucky we don’t even have public charter schools, let alone vouchers, as a parent and student school choice option. Instead, Kentucky’s public school system seems to be run more to protect the jobs of adults in it rather than to meet the needs of the students.
And, adults working in those public school adults seem to be doing everything they can to keep the system running in exactly that same old way.
Government may not be a business. But ”when government operates like a successful company, it works a whole lot better — and costs a whole lot less,” writes Jim Waters in his latest Bluegrass Beacon column.
Click here to read the latest Bluegrass Beacon.
A study by the foundation last year showed that colleges and universities have failed to control costs and have been increasing tuition at rates that far outstrip median household incomes. As of 2009, the average college graduate had incurred student debt of over $24,000.
“The state’s universities are refusing to run their institutions efficiently and they’re passing the cost of that failure on to students, families and taxpayers,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky.
The University of Louisville (6 percent), University of Kentucky (6 percent) and Eastern Kentucky University (5 percent) have all raised tuition during the past month. No one in Frankfort seems to be paying attention. (Hmmmm. We wonder if the state auditor might begin paying as much attention to public universities as she has been to for-profit colleges recently.)
“When gas stations in Jefferson County dramatically increased their prices several years ago, the Attorney General launched an investigation because of the effect on the public,” Cothran said. “Universities are increasing their prices at almost three times the rate of inflation. Where are the investigations?”