When incubating Young Voices, Students For Liberty worked from the beginning to make it a sustainable endeavor with its own branding and niche in the pro-liberty movement. We believe it has reached a point where we can spin it off, allowing Young Voices’ staff to focus solely on its mission in order to grow beyond its current scale. As of Monday, May 11, I will be working full-time to make Young Voices even bigger and better.
Although I am sad to leave Students For Liberty, I look forward to giving Young Voices a stronger focus on issues affecting young people today and bring us greater notoriety as the PR shop of note for the millennial generation.
Remittances Should Be Encouraged, Not Banned
Donald Trump made headlines when he announced his plan to force Mexico to pay for his big, beautiful wall on the southern border by threatening to cut off remittances, which pump billions of dollars into the Mexican economy every year.
There are a number of problems with Trump��s plan — not least of which that we don’t need his wall to begin with — but the whole idea of using remittances as a bargaining chip in his quest to stop illegal immigration may very well be self-defeating. As the White House was quick to point out, cutting off remittances would have serious ramifications on the Mexican economy, which could in turn drive even more people to flee to the United States.
By implication, does that mean we should spend more taxpayer dollars on foreign aid to give people less of an incentive to come? Not exactly. But whether we want to help poor countries for its own sake or to prevent people from flocking to our borders, remittances are a bigger, better, and smarter way to do it than foreign aid.
First of all, remittances are huge. Americans send more money abroad in remittance payments than any other country on Earth — nearly four times more than every federal foreign aid program combined. Each year, the United States federal government spends approximately $35 billion in economic aid to over 140 countries around the world, directed primarily to underdeveloped regions. By comparison, residents of the United States send an estimated $123 billion in remittances to friends and family overseas.
The nearly $25 billion sent by US residents to Mexico accounts for 2.5 percent of the country’s GDP, bringing in more money than the oil industry. Millions of low-income families in Mexico depend on the inflow of remittances in order to make ends meet, and cutting off that flow could cause many to uproot and head north to rejoin family members in the United States — hardly the goal of border security advocates. If our presidential candidates really want to stem the flow of illegal immigration, they should focus on facilitating remittances, not threatening to shut them off.
Read the full article at FEE, here
Politicians and commentators love to talk up the notion of a bachelor’s degree as a surefire pathway to the middle class. Statistics show that four-year college graduates earn 68% more than people with only a high school degree. This has led politicians to funnel enormous subsidies into higher education, and for some on the left to go further and call for college to be free entirely.
But a surface interpretation of these numbers violates the number one rule of statistics: correlation does not imply causation. On the contrary, those who choose to go to college in the first place could be (and are) quite different from those who do not. Differences between people may drive part of the premium in earnings for college graduates, rather than the degree itself. An examination of the true value of college must take account of these differences.
Some factors that potentially affect earnings, such as race, family background and school district, are easy to control for. But including such easily measurable attributes only tells part of the story. “Unobservable” factors such as motivation, cognitive ability and social capital all plausibly affect earnings—but may also affect whether a young person decides to attend college.
Read the full article at Forbes.
It’s no secret Illinois is in terrible financial shape. To be sure, the state’s corrections system is a key contributor. Illinois prisons cost taxpayers $1.4 billion in 2015, up $110 million since 2010.
One silver lining may be that the financial strain has prompted progress on the criminal justice reform front. Citing the huge dollars spent on corrections annually, Gov. Bruce Rauner formed a bipartisan commission to look at ways to reduce Illinois’ prison population by 25 percent by 2025. Commission members released a solid list of recommendations last month and have a report focusing on sentencing reform due out this summer.
But to bring prison spending down, lawmakers must pay just as much attention to what happens after prison as to the operations themselves — specifically, how barriers to work and employment so frequently land former offenders right back in the system.
Today, about 48 percent of the inmates released from an Illinois prison return within three years. Imagine the savings if this cycle were stopped.
It’s clear that the stigma of a criminal record is difficult to overcome when attempting to find work. National survey data suggest that as many as 60 percent to 75 percent of ex-offenders are unemployed a year after release from prison. Even with ban-the-box legislation active in Illinois, many employers still hesitate to give former offenders a chance. And, lacking legitimate work, many ex-offenders find themselves back on the wrong side of the law.
Even those unmoved to sympathy by the employment struggles of former offenders should recognize the crippling cost of maintaining the status quo. The Sentencing Policy Advisory Council estimates that each act of recidivism costs Illinois $118,746 — about $41,000 to taxpayers, around $57,000 in victimization costs, and about $20,000 in lost economic activity. The more former offenders find work, the more we shave criminal justice spending — and gain in a broadened tax base and contributing citizens.
read the full article at My Journal Courier.
On May 19, Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan signed into law House Bill 336, which had the support of 167 of Maryland’s 185 elected representatives. Americans are politically polarized, but agree on one matter: they do not like it when government steals from innocent people.
The Maryland bill further curtails the state’s civil asset forfeiture programs. Civil forfeiture, at least according to the Justice Department, “deprives wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes.”
Civil forfeiture does not require proof.But there is just one glaring omission from this definition—civil forfeiture does not require any proof (or even claim) that people committed crimes for the government to take their property.
By the twisted logic of civil forfeiture, property itself is charged with the crime. This is why civil forfeiture cases have absurd names such as United States v. One Solid Gold Object in Form of a Rooster or United States vs. $35,651.11 in U.S. Currency.
Since the Bill of Rights covers property owners instead of property, victims of civil forfeiture are forced to prove their property innocent in order to get it back. And they are not entitled to legal assistance. This is why many people do not fight back after their property is seized—it is simply too expensive to win a court case against the government.
Read the full article at FEE.