Teacher’s Union Sues to Stop New York Congestion Pricing Plan

“Because NEPA allows third parties to sue over allegedly inadequate environmental studies, it’s become a favorite tool of environmentalists, slow growth activists, and garden variety NIMBY (not in my backyard) trying to stop or delay infrastructure projects.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/05/teachers-union-sues-to-stop-new-york-congestion-pricing-plan/

The COVID Bailout of State and Local Governments Was Unnecessary

” In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that states (including Washington, D.C.) had spent just 45 percent of the funding they had received through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program, a $350 billion line item within the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which passed in March 2021. Local governments had reported spending just 38 percent of their funds received through the same program.”

“”The new GAO study confirms that the ARPA spending was not needed,” Chris Edwards, chair of fiscal studies at the Cato Institute, tells Reason. “By the fall of 2020, it was clear that the states were in good fiscal shape and not facing Armageddon as many policymakers were claiming. They did not need federal handouts.””

“Before the American Rescue Plan passed, there was widespread skepticism about the proposed bailout, in part because three other pandemic-era spending bills had already sent about $360 billion in aid to states and localities.”

“In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper published in June 2022, a trio of researchers found that pandemic-era aid distributed to state and local governments had cost taxpayers about $855,000 per job saved. The stimulus spending had only “a modest impact on government employment and has not translated into detectable gains for private businesses or for states’ overall economic recoveries,” concluded University of California, San Diego economists Jeffrey Clemens and Philip Hoxie and American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Stan Veuger, the paper’s three authors.”

“Iowa spent $12.5 million of its $4.5 billion cut of the federal bailout on a new baseball stadium near the Field of Dreams movie set. Because that’s an essential public health issue, of course.”

“Michigan “reported spending $25.6 million on a travel marketing and
promotional campaign,” allegedly to “respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism.” Louisiana, meanwhile, reported spending $115 million to construct roads and bridges.

Tourism is nice and roads are in some ways an essential government function, but the emergency COVID spending was meant to help states address an immediate public health crisis—or to offset the costs of it. It’s not at all clear how highway construction was a victim of the pandemic ”

https://reason.com/2023/10/13/the-covid-bailout-of-state-and-local-governments-was-unnecessary/

Government-Run Grocery Store Is Predictably Losing Money

“Grocery store chains don’t have some anti-Chicago bias. If the people in charge of the city made those neighborhoods safe and economical places to do business, groceries would be as plentiful as they are anywhere else in America. Reducing Chicago’s high crime rate would surely help, though that’s admittedly a long-term project. But there is something city officials could do almost overnight: Reduce Chicago’s commercial property tax rates, which are some of the highest in the country, or the city’s high sales taxes that incentivize consumers (the ones who can, anyway) to do their shopping outside the city.
At best, a government-run grocery store is merely addressing the symptoms, not the underlying problems plaguing Chicago—and it seems unlikely to improve the symptoms, for that matter.”

https://reason.com/2023/10/23/government-run-grocery-store-is-predictably-losing-money/

What the GOP debate revealed about Republican health care hypocrisy

“On abortion, on health care for transgender people, even on mental health care, the candidates were comfortable flexing governmental authority to dictate the terms of medical treatment.
But when it comes to using that same authority to protect people during a global pandemic or providing health coverage to people with low incomes, they don’t want the government getting involved.”

https://www.vox.com/2024-elections/2023/8/25/23844263/republican-debate-national-abortion-ban-trans-care-covid

Niger’s coup and the international community’s opposition, explained

“Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, the head of Niger’s presidential guard, with other members of Niger’s armed forces, on Friday declared himself head of a transitional government he called “the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland,” while international leaders and organizations including the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) strongly condemned the coup.”

“It’s the fifth successful military coup in Niger since its independence from France in 1960. A series of coups has toppled the governments of several African countries over the past three years, but Niger is a bit of an outlier among its neighbors, particularly due to the vociferous support Bazoum’s government has enjoyed. Though Niger, like many other West African nations, had suffered from poor economic growth and stunted democratic and public institutions, Bazoum’s tenure produced improvements in education and public health, as well as the security and economic outlooks compared with neighbors like Mali and Burkina Faso.”

“Tchiani’s claim to power rests on the idea that Bazoum’s government had failed to deal with the violent Islamist extremism that has festered in the region over the past decade. That claim has driven coups elsewhere in the region, such as Mali. Military leaders can present themselves as a strong security alternative in unstable and violent nations, but in the case of Niger, the security situation was actually improving, especially in relation to its neighbors in the Sahel region — the band of north-central Africa stretching from northern Senegal to Sudan.”

“Bazoum had reportedly tried to force Tchiani into retirement, as Daniel Eizenga, a research fellow at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, points out. “The coup justifications have no foundation to stand on in Niger,” Eizenga said, adding that the power grab seems to be due to “the egotistical motivations of this individual.”
Indeed, Tchiani did not initially have the full support of the armed forces, though he has since commandeered the endorsement of some of Niger’s military leaders. Civilian protests immediately after Tchiani’s takeover insisted that Bazoum be returned to office; however, as Eizenga told Vox, those protests were violently suppressed by the presidential guard, Tchiani’s unit, creating a “chilling effect” against further civilian protest.”