CKI Daily Wrap

16 Nov
Criminal Justice and Policing Reform:
Alia Wong. “How Parental Incarceration Affects a Child’s Education.”The Atlantic.

This article highlights a new report examining the effects of parental incarceration on the over five million children – roughly one in fourteen – who have experienced parental incarceration. Though “much of the report’s findings on health outcomes and social relationships are inconclusive, one of the few risk factors that does seem to have a direct association with parental incarceration has to do with the kids’ education.” Children with incarcerated parents were “significantly more likely to have problems in school, while those ages 6 through 11 had lower ‘school engagement.’” Researchers concluded that harms associated with parental incarceration can exacerbate “the already difficult circumstances of vulnerable children.” The wide-reaching negative effects of mass incarceration should inspire society to consider alternatives to incarceration in all appropriate cases.

Cronyism and Corporate Welfare:
Eric Dexheimer. “State Wanted to Cut F1 Payments Even More, Records Show.”

This article reports that the Office of the Governor of Texas revised the amount of money the State of Texas will be providing for a Formula One event from $15.6 million to $19.6 million. Formula One Group’s Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone argued that this was potentially threatening the existence of the event in Austin since the event was previously receiving a $25 million annual contribution.  However,  economists have questioned the accuracy of the “multiplier” effect of each dollar spent by out-of-state visitors offered by supporters, with one economist calling economic impact estimates in general “always too rosy.” The article explains that this is part of what led the state auditor to question the estimates of the Formula One organizers. While Ecclestone argues that the lower subsidy could lead to cancellation of the race, British Formula One journalist Christian Sylt makes a case that the reduced subsidy in fact may help halt the rising sanctioning fees for the race, ultimately doing the race organizers a favor. In a free society, government should not provide special privileges to some at the expense of others.

U.S. Foreign and Defense Policy:
Trevor Noah. “A Pricey Oversight in Afghanistan.” The Daily Show.

In this short clip from The Daily Show, Trevor Noah explains the recent scandal uncovered by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Using a mix of humor and sarcasm, Noah explains the details of the outrageous $43 million spent on one single natural gas station that was expected to cost a mere $200,000-500,000, making the station 8,000% over budget. This, Noah says, is like paying $960 for a pepperoni lover’s pizza. Pentagon officials, according to Noah, also failed to notice that the cars they were riding around Afghanistan in did not run on natural gas. In fact, SIGAR was unable to find any cars in Afghanistan that did. This woe begotten station is a clear, and popular, example of government waste and mismanagement, underscoring the arguments against nation building.

Technology and Innovation:
Richard Williams. “The Martian vs. the FDA on How to Science Stuff.” 

Mercatus Center senior fellow Richard Williams examines the FDA’s approval process for drugs and devices in the context of fictional botanist astronaut Mark Watney of the film The Martian. Williams makes the point that botanist Watney, who had to quickly adapt and invent solutions to constant problems on Mars, would “have just sat there and died” back home in the US because the FDA imposes high costs on inventors. Celebrated inventors in history would have also faced a mountain to climb. Jonas Salk would have had to pay between $500 million and $2 billion, and wait about 12 years, before his polio vaccine could be approved. Ben Franklin, who invented bifocals and a urinary catheter, would have faced a lower but still prohibitive $24 million cost on average for a “medium- to low-risk” device. Further burdens are placed on inventors for even tinkering with their devices after approval. As Williams says, innovation in medical technology and drugs is stagnating compared to other booming tech fields and would benefit from an updated model similar to Europe’s competing private certification bodies. In a free society, government should not impose burdensome barriers to the process of innovation that leads to technologies that can vastly improve our quality of life.

Editorial Board. “What’s Wrong with Policing Campus Speech?” The Chicago Tribune. 

This editorial argues that the University of Missouri protestors used the protections of free speech to stage their protests during which they then tried to restrict free speech by removing journalists covering the events. This trend is similar across many campuses including Yale where free speech was used on both sides of the debate, but only one side faced calls for censorship. While college is intended to expose students to diverse, sometimes objectionable ideas, many colleges have catered to the sensitivities of certain students through the inclusion of such mechanisms as speech codes and trigger warnings. Some even encourage students to self-report on peers whenever they see activity they find offensive. The board argues that rather than protecting students from diverse ideas, they should receive a warning at freshman orientation:  “This curriculum may contain material that some may consider racist, sexist, genderphobic, graphic, tasteless, politically incorrect or otherwise offensive. You can handle it.”

Contributors: Sabrina Gladstone, Carine Martinez-Gouhier, Michelle Newby, Kenan Safadi, Rick Barton
Editor: Austen Bannan
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