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Three Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Future
Finding a silver lining amid stagflation gloom
My listeners know that I am an optimist, despite all of the doom-and-gloom type stories we read daily.
This week, there has been more bad news – as usual. Two pieces from the American Institute for Economic Research especially caught my eye: one about the Fed’s recent interest rate hikes, and another about attempts to combat climate change through “de-growth” (read: coercion and green energy handouts). Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Economic Research seems to be defining down the definition of a recession to exclude the past two months of consecutive negative growth.
However, there is always good news to find if you just know where to look.
Reason #1: There is Still Freedom in the 50 States
The biggest reason I find to be optimistic this week comes from a Cato Institute project led by AIER President and Cato research fellow William Ruger as well as Jason Sorens. Ruger and Sorens are the authors of the “Freedom in the 50 States” report, which gives an annual assessment of which states are increasing and decreasing in the rankings of a broad index of liberties.
They both will join my show for the first time to discuss how the index weighs different broad categories of freedom – from regulatory, to financial to personal – as well as specific freedoms that vary in importance for different people. Of course, there are many people who would be happy to live in a state that restricts other people’s liberty, while their own cherished freedoms are left untouched. But which states guarantee liberty for all? Find out this Sunday on the show of ideas what separates the #freestates from the unfree.
Not coincidentally, the freest states are also some of the fastest growing, while less free states like New York hemorrhage residents. As Frank Buckley talked about last Sunday, this is part of the process of jurisdictional competition among states that makes America great.
Reason #2: School Choice is Winning
I’ve covered the topic of vouchers, charter schools, and school choice countless times, since it represents one of the most important issues where libertarians can make a compelling case to the American voter that their tax dollars would be better spent in the private sector than by government. This is as true of education as it is of clothing or groceries: competition and choice breed excellence, while bureaucracies create inefficiency. John Stossel has a new video for Reason talking about a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is that many parents got a taste of greater choice in the form of homeschooling their children. Some of them are not going back.
Kansas and Missouri expanded access to charter schools.
Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Dakota, Utah, and Tennessee expanded Education Savings Accounts, which help parents try private schools.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed "the most expansive school choice legislation in the nation." It gives money to families that families can spend on private school, home schooling, micro schools, tutoring or any other educational service that meets the needs of kids.
These states will undoubtedly rise in next year’s freedom rankings, and we should applaud them. States that are losing citizens should copy them.
Reason #3: Humanity is Becoming More Resilient to Extremes
Despite what the doomsayers say about increases in heatwaves, droughts, natural disasters, etc., it appears that we are getting much better at surviving temperature extremes. The recent climate hysteria across Europe has renewed calls for regulation in the name of saving the planet. But as Vincent Geloso reports, “heatwaves are killing between 64 percent and 91 percent fewer people (relative to population) today than in 1936.”
Geloso’s article is agnostic about whether the climate is indeed changing rapidly due to human activity, but regardless, these statistics suggest a very different response than environmental authoritarianism.
Let’s hope cooler heads prevail.