Commentary

Michael Medved: Losing Ground In The Happiness Rankings

Opioid

The Sustainable Development Solutions network, an initiative of the UN, is out with its yearly “World Happiness Report,” in which respondents around the globe were asked how close their current circumstances came to their “best possible life.”

The United States placed 14th of the 155 surveyed nations—well ahead of Germany, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom, but behind Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Israel. The U.S. has been sinking in the rankings since those rankings began in 2012, and when America finished 11th. In terms of specific measures of happiness, the U.S. has moved up in health, life-expectancy and per-capita income, but we’ve lost significant ground in social support, a sense of personal freedom, and perceived corruption of government and business.

The Happiness Report hardly shows American “carnage,” or a national utopia, but it does reflect the worrisome conviction that our political and economic institutions now slow our progress and undermine sense of well-being.

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David Davenport: Young People Robbed Of Individualism

Compromise

America used to be a land of “rugged individualism.” People came to this country so that the key decisions about their lives would no longer be made by kings and queens, or the church, or their social class, but rather for themselves. Individual freedom was promised by the Declaration of Independence and protected by the Constitution.

But today individualism in America is in trouble. Not only has government taken over more and more of our money and decision-making, but young people are being coddled, first by helicopter parents, then in “safe spaces” in their college campuses. College used to be a time when kids went off to establish their own values and beliefs. Now we protect them from “micro-aggressions” and “trigger words.” We cleanse the campus of so-called controversial speakers and any real diversity of ideas.

Is it any surprise that young people are more open to socialism, for example, when we coddle them from birth through college? This does not bode well for America and its future.

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David Davenport: Bad News From the Index of Economic Freedom

Compromise

The 2017 Index of Economic Freedom has been released and it contains some bad news for Americans.  The U.S. dropped 6 positions in the ranking of economic freedom around the world to #17, its lowest level since these studies have been published.  While most nations of the world increased their economic freedom, the U.S. saw a significant decline, rated now not “free” but only “mostly free.”

The main contributor was a new category in the study called “fiscal health.”  This shows that a shocking 38 percent of our gross domestic product now goes to government and also emphasizes our growing national debt and deficit.

Milton Friedman, the greatest economist of the 20th century, said that the country that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither, but the nation that puts freedom ahead of equality will end up with a great measure of both.

Clearly we need more economic growth, less government spending and less debt.  In other words, more freedom.

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David Davenport: Trump’s Budget Asks: What Should Government Do?

Compromise

President Donald Trump’s first budget proposes some big changes. A much higher commitment to national defense is at the top of the list and, in order to fund that, less foreign aid, government regulation, and federal subsidies for research and the arts.

What Trump is doing is returning to the age-old question of what the federal government should do (and not do). Over the centuries, nearly everyone has believed that providing a national defense is the essential role of the federal government. But, as the economist Milton Friedman pointed out, when the federal government does more and more, it gets expensive and inefficient and—over time—it limits our freedom.

What government has been doing for a long time is adding more programs at a higher cost and simply sending the bill to future generations through our growing national debt. What the Trump budget finally asks is, what must the federal government do … and then what can we cut to pay for that?

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Lanhee Chen: A Choice

Tax Reform

Liberals and many voices in elite media have touted the recent Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare as a reason to oppose it.

But let’s be clear: The CBO estimates show that the legislation is fundamentally conservative. And while it’s not perfect, the American Health Care Act includes many important changes that will bring health spending down, cut taxes and lower costs for consumers.

For starters, the bill is estimated to reduce deficits and the debt by $337 billion over the next 10 years. Furthermore, the legislation includes almost $600 billion in tax cuts and is expected to lower premiums while contributing to a more stable marketplace for health insurance.

What we have before us is a choice: Do we continue to walk down Obamacare’s path to more deficits, less choice and higher health costs? Or do we work to pass an alternative that takes us in the other direction?

The American Health Care Act is a good start and we should work together to improve it and to get the job done.

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Albert Mohler: The Supreme Court Says, “No

Billy Graham

Sometimes history is made in just one sentence. That was the case when the United States Supreme Court handed down a one-sentence statement saying that it will not hear the case concerning the big question of transgender rights, specifically the rights of transgender students in the public schools.

When the Supreme Court does take a case on this issue, one question will be the interpretation of a 1975 regulation that allows schools to provide “separate toilet, locker rooms and shower facilities on the basis of sex.”

Back in 1975 Congress had absolutely no question what it meant when it referred to biological sex. And furthermore, we need to admit that even right now across our culture virtually no one has a major question about the definition of biological sex.

The new reality is that gender identity and biological sex are actually two different things. That might well be the key question that the Supreme Court will eventually have to answer.

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Hugh Hewitt: Republicans Keep Their Promise

U.S. Senate

Republicans are keeping their promise to American voters. They have introduced the American Health Care Act.

There are three main components of the AHCA that you should know about:

• First, it repeals every single one of the taxes in Obamacare. The individual mandate and medical device tax are both eliminated.

• Second, it sends Medicaid spending back to the states, and also puts a cap on Medicaid spending.

• Finally, it introduces tax credits for lower and middle income Americans to help with the cost of health care.

There are some in Congress, especially in the Freedom Caucus, who have complaints about the American Health Care Act. They must remember that the perfect must not be an enemy of the good.

There is a lot at stake here. The AHCA isn’t the only part of making this country come back. Regulation reform and tax reform are essential as well as a larger, rebuilt defense. But this is the key foundation.

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