Friday, January 20, 2017

The Heritage Insider: How to improve health care, the model Supreme Court Justice, Kentucky goes right-to-work, RIP Nat Hentoff and Roy Innis, government is the problem with infrastructure

The Heritage Insider: How to improve health care, the model Supreme Court Justice, Kentucky goes right-to-work, RIP Nat Hentoff and Roy Innis, government is the problem with infrastructure

Health care will get better the same way that progress is made in every other area of human endeavor—by letting unplanned innovation happen. The next Supreme Court Justice has big shoes to fill; but at least that person will have the benefit of Antonin Scalia’s model. Kentucky has become the 27th right-to-work state, and has charted a new path for the right-to-work movement in the process. Two icons of the liberty movement were lost this week: Nat Hentoff and Roy Innis. The Trump administration can help infrastructure by getting government out of the way.

How health care will really get better: Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed budget resolutions calling for a repeal of ObamaCare. Why did President Obama’s signature domestic program fail to fix American health care? What reforms can do so? Sen. Jim DeMint finds lessons in the history of the automobile industry:
“By the end of the 1970s, Japan, once known for its cheap trinkets and poor product quality, was overtaking the U.S. automobile and manufacturing industries in terms of quality, efficiency, and costs. That was largely due to the business practices revolution led by Edward Deming, an American management consultant who went to Japan after World War II to rebuild its infrastructure.
“Deming’s message was that companies could become successful by prioritizing quality above quotas, and bottom-up observations about efficiency from the factory floor in place of top-down edicts from the boardroom. Japanese corporations listened, improved, and grew.
“In contrast, manufacturers in the U.S.—even during the “golden age” of American assembly-line production—were not keen to listen to their customers’ complaints, nor to their workers’ ideas for improving quality and lowering costs. […]
“Just like the American companies that lost market share when they refused to innovate, establishment politicians have lost elections because they ignored the outrage of Americans over the high costs and low quality of big government services.
“The answer is not to replace one top-down centralized plan with a different top-down centralized plan. Rather, the solution lies in clearing out the web of government regulations and subsidies that shield the status quo from the kind of bottom-up innovation that produces better quality at lower cost.” [The Daily Signal]

What do we want in a Supreme Court Justice? President Trump will soon nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. How should we evaluate the nominee? Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has himself been nominated for a post in the Trump administration, provided some guidance on that question last June when he gave a speech at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship:
One of the chief principles Justice Scalia championed, as a scholar and as a judge, is that the law, whether statutes or the Constitution itself, must be applied according to its text. In other words, judges should not apply the law based on what is good policy or what they suppose Congress may have intended in passing legislation. Justice Scalia rejected the judicial activism of inventing law while embracing judicial engagement by ensuring that the limits on government are strictly enforced.
“Ensuring that the next justice appointed to the Supreme Court is someone in the mold of Justice Scalia is surpassingly important. The appointment of the next Supreme Court justice could be the most legally significant event for our country in a generation. If the next justice is in the mold of Justices Ginsburg or Sotomayor, the rulings of the Court will shift dramatically to the left. If the next justice shares the principles and philosophy of Justice Scalia, the ideologically balanced Court that we have grown accustomed to in the last quarter century will likely remain.” [Hillsdale College]

Right-to-Work comes to Kentucky. Kentucky became the 27th right-to-work state last weekend when Governor Matt Bevin signed a bill making it illegal for employers to require union membership as a condition of employment. Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Institute writes that Kentuckians can look forward to better wages: “Compare what happened in West Virginia, which, like Kentucky, dragged its heels on right-to-work for years until passing it last year, to what happened in Indiana and Michigan. Vincent Vernuccio of the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy found: Average wages in both Indiana and Michigan increased after right-to-work laws were passed. Since Indiana became a right-to-work state in 2012, it’s average wage rose faster than West Virginia’s. Between 2012—when Michigan passed its right-to-work law—and mid-2015, incomes in Michigan rose more than 9 percent, which was faster than both West Virginia and the national average. Between 2012 and 2014, average hourly wages rose by 56 cents to $19.94 in Indiana, 56 cents to $21.70 in Michigan but only 37 cents to $18.21 in West Virginia.”[Richmond Register]
But Kentucky’s experience, as Kevin Mooney writes, provides a new roadmap for the right-to-work movement in other states: “What happened in Kentucky is not necessarily going to stay in Kentucky. That’s because the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers districts in Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, and Ohio, issued a ruling in November that upheld the right of localities to pass right-to-work ordinances in the absence of state-level legislation. The action began in Warren County, Kentucky, in the fall of 2014 with 11 other counties following suit. The Kentucky counties argued that because the federal government has already authorized states to pass right-to-work laws, it follows that the counties are also permitted to pass right to work since they are creations of the state. Therefore, the counties argued, local right-to-work ordinances are permissible unless a state legislative body explicitly forbids them. Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute, a libertarian, free-market think tank in Kentucky, said in a phone interview with The Daily Signal that Warren County’s decision to press ahead with its own ordinance certainly had an impact on what happened statewide.” [The Daily Signal]

The liberty movement lost two of its champions last Saturday. Nat Hentoff, a writer who championed free speech, died at 91. Roy Innis, a civil rights activist who staked out conservative positions on crime, welfare, gun rights, and other issues, died at 82.
Of Hentoff, Paul Gallagher writes: “Hentoff didn’t simply pay lip service to the First Amendment. He meant what he said. Consider his book “Free Speech for Me — But Not for Thee.” People who advocate removing “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from school reading lists because it contains racial slurs could expect no support from Hentoff. Chapter one profiles some on the front lines of the perpetual battle to ban Mark Twain’s novel. The freedom to read means you risk being hurt. But that, in his view, is how you learn to think and to reason. It’s how you make vital connections.” [Dayton Daily News]
To hear Hentoff explain why hate crime laws are contrary to the First Amendment, check out the Cato Institute’s interview with him from 2011.
Innis led the Congress on Racial Equality from 1968 until his death. He also held various leadership positions with the National Rifle Association. Innis, who lost two of his sons to gun violence, once told Newsday: “My sons were not killed by the KKK or David Duke. They were murdered by young, black thugs.”
Ralph Hallow writes of Innis: “His ability to win the respect of people across the political spectrum and from the entertainment and sports world was something to behold. ‘If you’ve never been to one of Roy Innis’ annual CORE dinners in Manhattan on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, here’s what you missed,’ said [Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association]. ‘Three rows of “head tables” filled by cops and politicians from all five boroughs — every sitting mayor, I mean from Ed Koch [to] Rudy Giuliani. You’d see famous singers from the Metropolitan Opera, boxing impresario Don King, former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield.’ […] At these dinners could be seen Laura Bush, Jane Fonda, Peggy Noonan, Ted Turner, George W. Bush, Howard Cosell, Muhammad Ali, Charlton Heston, Usher, Morgan Freeman and Barry Manilow.” [Washington Times]

An infrastructure program worth supporting: If the Trump administration wants to spur infrastructure, writes Chris Edwards, it can do so by getting the federal government out of the way: “As Obama administration officials head for the door at the Department of the Treasury, they have released a new study on infrastructure. […] The Treasury report suggests that some ‘major challenges to completion’ of projects are imposed by governments.
“One challenge is ‘significantly increased capital costs:’
“Capital costs of transportation and water infrastructure have increased much faster than the general rate of inflation over the past 20 years … Increased capital costs are also a product of enhanced design standards and regulatory requirements related to performance, safety, environmental protection, reliability, and resiliency.
“Another challenge is ‘extended program and project review and permitting processes:’
“Successful completion of the review and permitting processes required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions, is an important part of project development. NEPA helps promote efforts to prevent or eliminate damage to the environment, but has also extended the schedule and generally increased the cost of implementing major infrastructure projects. This is a long-standing challenge that has spanned the last 20 to 30 years. Studies conducted for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concluded that the average time to complete a NEPA study increased from 2.2 years in the 1970s, to 4.4 years in the 1980s, to 5.1 years in the 1995 to 2001 period, to 6.6 years in 2011.” [Cato Institute]