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Young Voices Launches Spring Campus Pundit Program

Last fall, Young Voices launched our Campus Pundit Program, rewarding students for advocating for free speech on their college campus. Thanks to the talented work of our applicants and editing team, 18 op-eds were placed in student newspapers across the U.S. at notable schools including Berkeley, William & Mary, the University of Michigan, Clemson, and the University of Alabama.

Young Voices is pleased to announce that we are bringing the program back in the spring with a focus on investigative journalism. From speech-stifling administrators to spendthrift student governments, there is a lot that goes unnoticed at universities today. Young Voices will reward any student who can successfully place an article promoting transparency in their student or local newspaper with $50.

Click here for more information, including how to apply.

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LGBT Groups Should be Upset Over Trump’s Letter, but the Effect on Transgender Students Shouldn’t be Overstated

On Wednesday night, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education issued a joint Dear Colleague letter withdrawing federal guidance promising transgender public school students access to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify. The Obama administration controversially extended such protection last year, warning that schools that failed to comply were at risk of losing federal funding for violating Title IX’s prohibition of discrimination based on sex.

Yesterday’s letter claimed the previous guidance did not “contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.” As a result, the Trump administration will give “due regard for the primary role of states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

Civil liberties and LGBT rights groups are understandably up in arms after the letter. However, the effect of the withdrawal should not be overstated. The effect of the letter will likely be marginal considering how divisive Obama-era guidance was from the outset.

Read the rest at Rare…

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Trump Should Deregulate Renewable Energy Instead of Subsidizing It

The Governor’s Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of governors dedicated to developing solar and wind energy, sent a letter to President Trump earlier this month urging him to increase federal funding to modernize local power grids and expand clean energy research. They argue that these industries, particularly solar and wind, are crucial economic engines for poor, rural regions of the United States, and they must be supported by the federal government.

In addition to federal funding, the governors requested “options to modernize and streamline state and federal regulatory processes.” If Trump wants to promote the energy industry, he should be encouraged by this bipartisan effort and begin removing the regulatory barriers to renewable energy. Right now, the technology exists for millions of Americans to access clean and affordable solar energy in their homes, but government regulations, many of which are interpreted by monopolistic utility companies, are holding back these cost-saving innovations.

Thanks to decreases in costs of solar technology, solar-based electricity is now cheaper than grid electricity in many parts of the country. Investment in solar technology makes sense for many businesses and wealthy homeowners, but for the average American, who moves more than 11 times in their lifetime, or the third who rent housing, an expensive long-term investment is not going to work.

A new technology known as plug-and-play solar systems may change the game. People can install them in a backyard with no training. These systems are affordable and portable, which is ideal for transient or renting individuals, and they tie into the electrical grid. They do not produce enough energy for an entire household, but the systems can greatly cut down on energy costs.

Unfortunately, government regulations at all levels of government are holding back the market for these innovative systems. These regulations take the form of price controls, licensing, zoning laws and other rules, all of which can be different at each level of government.

Read the rest at The Washington Examiner…

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Don’t Let Defense Wreck the Budget

Now that President Donald Trump is in office, the temptation to pass legislation to either raise or remove the spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) is enormous, and Senator John McCain recently released a proposal that would do just that.

McCain’s proposal comes in response to claims that the American military has been neutered by the Obama administration’s inattention to proper funding. These claims have been a central part of the narrative employed not only by Trump during his campaign but also by rank-and-file legislators eager to demonstrate their commitment to a renewal of American strength and vitality.

The premise that underlies this crusade is deeply flawed. American military spending is already sizeable, and though the military’s footprint has declined, it remains strong. Repealing the BCA would unnecessarily boost military spending while leaving less funding available for other increasingly costly areas of the budget like healthcare, education, and infrastructure spending.

In 2011, a deeply divided Congress, in an effort to produce a legislative mechanism so grim that both parties would have no choice but to engage in bipartisan deficit reduction, passed the BCA. The bill was designed to trim a projected $984 billion from the budget over the next decade.

Read the rest at RealClearDefense…

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Obama’s foreign policy legacy undermines his C-SPAN ranking as 12th best president

C-SPAN recently released the 2017 Presidential Historian Survey, in which a group of presidential historians rank all previous presidents from best to worst. President Obama did extremely well, coming in as the 12th best president of all time. Obama was commended for his handling of the economy, public persuasion, and (the most unsettling reason) his moral authority. Survey respondents seemed to have overlooked a simple fact, though, which should shatter any image of moral authority from the Obama tenure in office: his destructive and inhumane foreign policy.

Obama’s record on warfare is, frankly, abysmal. It’s particularly galling considering that he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. In 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped over 26,000 bombs on seven different countries; that’s three bombs every hour. The campaign in Libya destabilized the country in a vein similar to the US invasion of Iraq. He killed a 16 year-old American citizen living in Yemen, and recently increased US involvement in the Yemeni civil war — a war that is starving the country’s citizens. And there is significant skepticism that his administration came even close to telling the truth about the amount of civilians killed in drone strikes over the last eight years.

This does not sound, at all, like a president that retained any semblance of moral authority. To the group’s credit, they gave him “below-average” marks in international relations. It seems like a generous standard, though, for an administration that had a secret “kill list” and caused foreign teenagers to dream about their own deaths by drone strikes.

Continue reading at The Libertarian Institute.

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Can School Choice Save A Stagnating Economy?

In the Huffington Post, Dale Hansen sums up many liberals’ views when he claims, “The recent appointment of Betsy DeVos has proved one thing – conservatives are far more concerned about politics than they are about educating children.” But the competitive education reforms that Devos champions are essential to giving kids the skills to thrive in a global economy.

Median wages in the US have stagnated, but liberals who decry this fact ignore a root cause: a mismatch between the skills that students acquire in school, and the skills that they need to thrive in the workplace. Jobs in many sectors keep commanding higher salaries: IT wages rose 18.4 percent from 2011 to 2015. The problem, as renowned economist Tyler Cowen notes in Average Is Over, is that our economy leaves behind people who lack the skills to compete in these sectors. And traditional public schools are still focused on outdated classes like cursive writing, in lieu of preparing students for the economy of the future.

The U.S. needs an education system that’s as dynamic as the market our kids will enter, where new technologies can spring up overnight and render old ones obsolete. The warehouse model of one teacher lecturing to 20-30 students, which has remained almost unchanged since its importation from Prussia in the 19th century, is no longer working.

Continue reading at Townhall.