Sunday, July 18, 2021

Your July 18th Sunday Summary ...

Dear Friend of TJI,
If all goes well, this Tuesday Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post, will fly off into space (insert your own joke here). He will be accompanied by 82-year-old Wally Funk, who trained to be a Mercury astronaut under a ‘60s-era program for women, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemon, substituting for someone who paid $28 million to win an auction to ride but could not go this time because of “scheduling conflicts” … leaving open the question what in this world would be so important that you’d skip your chance for a ten minute out of this world ride?
Meanwhile …
1.) CNBC came out with its rankings of “Top States for Business,” and Virginia ranks number one. Jefferson Institute Senior Fellow Steve Haner notes that “Inclusion” was an added component this year, likely adding enough points to seal the deal (here).   Steve followed up with a post on Bacon’s Rebellion noting that Virginia ranked next to last in the Wall Street-connected Motley Fool rankings (here).
2.) A new report authored by Jefferson Institute Visiting Fellow F. Vincent Vernuccio for the Institute for the American Worker notes that the PRO-Act under consideration in Congress would reduce workers’ incomes and opportunities (here), and offers specific data for Virginia. Vernuccio also wrote a commentary making the point that freedom for Virginia workers hangs on Senator Mark Warner (here).
3.) Two weeks ago Haner called for tax cuts to counter the $2 Billion surplus (here) resulting from the policies of Governor Ralph Northam (now up to $2.6 billion). The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star agrees (here).
4.) While Northam and the General Assembly have approved more than their share of new or higher taxes (here), local governments are now taking advantage of the new opportunities Northam and Company gave them: Prince Edward, Buckingham and Cumberland Counties are considering a regional tobacco tax (here) as is Loudoun (here), and Fairfax County is exploring a tax on plastic bags (here). Unquestionably … more to follow.
5.) Further taxes are no doubt coming, driven in part by rising costs, exacerbated by pent-up pandemic demand but inevitably spurred by inflation created by government policy. Economists are starting to agree that higher inflation is here to stay (here), and the lobster is starting to feel the water getting a tad hot (here). Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Senior Fellow Mark Perry offers what he calls the “Chart of the Century” showing the relative affordability of selected items (here). We cannot help but note that a commonality of less affordable items (health care and college education) is the increased involvement of government in both. A commonality of the more affordable items is technology and trade. Just sayin’.
6.) In plans attracting bipartisan support, Governor Northam has proposed spending $700 million in federal American Rescue Plan (covid) funds (here). The idea is overdue. We’ve long argued that in the 21st century, the lack of broadband is as serious an inhibition to economic and educational opportunity as the lack of electricity was in in the 1930s. Conservatives, however, should ensure these one-time funds are spent without building new or expanded bureaucracies that then must be sustained. Spend it, get it built, and get out of the way.
7.) During a rally before Thursday’s Fairfax County School Board meeting, Fairfax NAACP Vice President Michelle Leete accused her opponents of being against everything from children to education to healthcare, concluding “Let Them Die” (here). Ms. Leete has since said she wanted her opponents’ “ideals” to die, not people. The Virginia PTA, where Ms. Leete is also a Vice President, was quick to disassociate themselves from the remarks (here), and Ms. Leete yesterday resigned her position with the Virginia PTA (here). The Fairfax County PTA, where she was listed as Vice President as recently as Friday now lists that position as “vacant.” (here) The Fairfax County NAACP plans to issue their own statement in the next 24 hours. It is time for all sides in highly charged debates to remember that words have meaning.
8.) The Thomas Jefferson Institute took the lead in opposing the Virginia Clean Economy Act (here and here), and supports its repeal. VCEA requires solar farms 20 times the size of Manhattan (here), and Virginia Business reports storm clouds are gathering over the idea (here).  Dying of its own weight?
9.) When Democrats gained a (slim) majority in the U.S. Senate, those who once supported the filibuster (here) reversed their long-standing position. The Washington Free Beacon has discovered a filibuster the Left can get behind (here).
10.)               Ninety miles off the American shores, thousands are taking their lives in their hands for the hope of freedom. Ben Shapiro notes what foreign dissidents understand about the American Flag (here). Cuban leaders, meanwhile, are finding that their traditional fall guy for their failings, “American Imperialism”, isn’t working (here and here) – except with groups like Black Lives Matter (here), the Young Communist League of New York (here), or the incredible AOC (here). (But we repeat ourselves.)
11.)               “Each year,” said our intern many years ago, “my grandmother sits us down and makes us promise to go back and reclaim our homes when Castro dies. But none of us is interested in that.” Yet, like those who led the way in taking down the Berlin Wall, protests against the Cuban regime are being led by the young, in Cuba (here) and the United States (here and here). We do hope his abuela’s home will still be there for him.
Finally … as so often happens, it starts with the artists.
Happy Sunday, Everyone.
Say a prayer for Homeland and Life.
Chris Braunlich
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The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

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