A Case For School Vouchers in Nebraska

Create a marketplace
The solution to the impasse between Omaha Public Schools and the coalition of suburban school districts is to dissolve all school districts and declare each school an independent entity. Then issue vouchers to students and let them and their parents pick the schools of their choice.
There would be another round of consolidation, just as there was with the Baby Bell telephone companies. But it would be market-driven instead of being dictated by political boundaries.
The beneficiaries would be students and parents who would be free to pick schools offering the best educational value with no restrictions due to place of residence.
That’s real school choice.
Robert Ranney, Omaha

Source: Omaha-World Herald Public Pulse section, July 17, 2005.

Protecting Sugar Industry Doubles Consumer Price for Sugar

RUSSELL ROBERTS: “The bottom line is the price of sugar in the United States is about double what it would be outside the United States in a freer market. That means higher profits for sugar farmers and it means higher prices for U.S. consumers.”
“And it’s not just, of course, for the sugar you sprinkle on your grapefruit. It’s for anything you consume that uses sugar: ketchup, all kinds of processed foods, candy that has higher prices that we don’t see the higher price of sugar hidden in those higher prices.”
Russell Roberts on PBS News Hour, “FARMERS DIFFER OVER CAFTA” July 20, 2005.

Cable about to “get leapfrogged”

We’re playing offense, not defense when competing against the Bells,” says Brian Roberts, chief executive of Comcast, the country’s largest cable operator with over 21 million subscribers.
The technological arms race is further evidence that television is entering a new content- and feature-rich era. Early signs of this transition were the introduction of TiVo and other digital video recorders and video-on-demand services that enable viewers to watch shows whenever they want.
But many more new products and services are in the works by businesses using Internet technology to combine the functions of TVs, computers, the Internet and telephones. Cable has to make sure it doesn’t get leapfrogged. “This is about totally changing this industry,” says Lea Ann Champion, senior vice president of phone giant SBC Communications Inc.

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Medical Studies Frequently Not Confirmed

According to a study published in the July 13, 2005 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by Dr. John Ioannidis, almost a third of the medical studies included in his sample, were eventually either contradicted by subsequent studies (16%) or else required significant modification. (One media report summarizing the study appears at: http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hsdrug4348592jul19,0,2629446.story?coll=ny-health-headlines)
This is only surprising in the face of the certainty with which the media and parts of the medical establishment, totally embrace each new study as it appears. Perhaps the tentativenss, and revisability of medical research argues for allowing patients more choice in their treatment?

Ethanol Wastes Energy

Cornell ecologist David Pimentel and Berkeley professor of civil and environmental engineering Tad W. Patzek have published a study that shows that, for corn, 29 percent more fossil energy is used in ethanol production, than the energy yielded by the ethanol output. In the Cornell web summary Pimental is quoted as saying: “There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel. These strategies are not sustainable.” See: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July05/ethanol.toocostly.ssl.html
Pimentel and Patzek’s study was published in: Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14:1, 65-76).