We can’t help but love predictions. Before the start of college football season, ESPN always guesses who will win the national championship. Sports Illustrated’s NBA preview issue predicts it’ll be the Heat over the Lakers in the Finals this year. Days after the election, ABC News headlined a story with “After 2012 Election Expect 2016 Primaries to Begin Immediately,” making predictions about who may win the nominations for both parties in four years. And a blog called “EPIC 2020” is featuring a 10-minute video that sends us almost a decade into the future to see what colleges could look like.
Beginning with an overview of websites like Udacity and Coursera, which provide free college classes online, the video explains that Udacity has a job placement program that matches students with prospective employers. The best students are matched with the best jobs, and businesses pay a fee to take part in the system. Udacity uses the fees to help keep the courses tuition-free. Coursera is a collection of online classes from 33 major universities around the world. The website edX offers classes from MIT, Harvard, the University of California-Berkley, and the University of Texas.
Here’s where the EPIC 2020 video gets bold: what if companies like Apple and Google started investing in these “MOOCs” (massive open online courses), and employers started using credits from a MOOC instead of a diploma? What if the student loan market, with debt at over $1 trillion, collapsed, scholarships were abandoned, and students stopped going to traditional brick-and-mortar schools, and instead took free courses from Udacity, Coursera, and the like? What if education and a chance at a job were free for anyone, of any age, at any time?
It’s a grand vision and until we have a time machine, predictions are just guesses. But universities must admit that the traditional college experience is changing. Lawmakers should ask what state colleges are doing to answer the challenge MOOCs are presenting. Businesses want people with specific skill sets, and the traditional college diploma might not be attractive much longer.
Wall Street Journal: Student-Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion
If you were to move across the state of Arizona, certain things wouldn’t change. Traffic laws would be the same, for instance. But what you pay taxes on might change. That’s because the sales tax base in Arizona differs from city to city. Something that is not taxable in one jurisdiction may indeed be taxable in another.
A prime example is rent. When you sign a lease in Phoenix or Tempe, you pay sales tax. Do so in other places, like Flagstaff, and you wouldn’t. Meanwhile, rent paid by tenants is not taxable by state government.
Differences like these not only lead to confusion for residents, but the increased complexity increases the cost of compliance for businesses. A business that operates in multiple cities not only has to keep track of each sales tax base, but they can also be subject to multiple audits – by the state and each local government – for the same set of transactions within the same year.
This isn’t the case in all states. In fact, two of our biggest economic competitors – Florida and Texas – have a uniform sales tax base throughout the state.
The numerous tax bases throughout the state have long been noted by the business community as something that inhibits our state’s competitiveness. To make Arizona more competitive, it is vital that all jurisdictions within the state operate under a unified sales tax base. If the state decides something should or should not be taxed, local governments should abide by that decision, too. The only thing that should vary among cities is what additional sales tax rate a locality may want to assess in addition to the state rate.
There are many things Arizona can change in its tax policy to be more competitive when attracting companies, one of the first should be to address this fundamental flaw.
Goldwater Institute: A New Tax Plan for a New Economy: How Eliminating the Income Tax Can Create Jobs
State of Arizona: Governor Brewer’s Transaction Privilege Tax Simplification Task Force
During the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us reach way back in our memory banks to recall those old grade school lessons about the Pilgrims. Many of us were taught that the Pilgrims prospered once they learned North American horticulture, but there’s more to the story. For some years, the Pilgrims continued to suffer from famine. It turns out it was of their own making.
The Pilgrims practiced communism. They shared and shared alike, farming together on land owned by the community. They starved and starved alike, too.
Casting about for a solution, William Bradford, Plymouth’s long-time Governor eventually allowed each man to plant corn for his own household. This change resulted in a productivity boom. In his personal diary Bradford wrote: “The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability.”
Bradford also pointed out, “the failure of the experiment of communal service proves the emptiness of the theory that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing.” A year later, he recorded that by planting corn on their own account they managed, with a great deal of patience, to overcome famine.
We can be thankful today that our country still considers property rights and individual responsibility cornerstones of the freedom and way of life that is unique in the world to America. Too many countries around the world are mired in poverty and famine because they haven’t learned this fundamental truth.
When I gather around the Thanksgiving table with my family, I will give thanks for those early lessons learned by our Pilgrim forefathers.
Byron Schlomach, Ph.D. is director of the Goldwater Institute Center for Economic Prosperity.
As last week’s so-called “deadline” for states to decide whether or not to establish a “health insurance exchange” came and went, Arizonans were given good news: Governor Jan Brewer will not stick Arizona taxpayers with the bill for implementing the new federal health insurance mandates – for now. The Governor has decided to delay her decision as she continues to study Arizona’s options.
Early on, some state policymakers were misled into thinking that setting up a state exchange would give them flexibility from federal control. There’s also been discussion of urgent “deadlines” states must meet to “comply” with the federal law.
Federal bureaucrats, ill equipped to execute a comprehensive takeover of the nation’s health insurance industry, have been hoping governors and legislatures would buy these stories.
What the feds don’t want states to know is that federal law does not require states to establish exchanges. In fact, there’s no rush to make a decision – states may opt in at any time. If states choose not to set up an exchange, the federal government will have to create and fund one on its own.
Fortunately, governors across the country are finally learning the truth about insurance exchanges.
They’re learning that state exchanges are state-funded, but not state-run. That exchanges leave no room for state flexibility but come with price tags of over $60 million per year. And in states with Health Care Freedom Acts, state exchanges are illegal.
That’s why last week, while the feds intensified their efforts to get states on board, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma joined the growing assembly of states—now at 20—that have chosen not to establish state-funded exchanges. In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services announcing his decision, Wisconsin’s Governor Walker wrote, “No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents.”
Arizona should follow the leads of these states and decline to establish a state-funded exchange. At the very least, with so much uncertainty surrounding insurance exchanges, Arizona should not rush to be Washington’s guinea pig.
Goldwater Institute: Key Points on Health Insurance Exchanges
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