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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Medical Marijuana, Lost Students

August 2, 2007

Slamming the Sick, Stiffing the States
In the New York Post, Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum examines the GOP's disregard for states' rights and its callous fight against medical marijuana, "Last week the Los Angeles City Council voted for a measure that asked the federal government to stop harassing medical marijuana users in California. Minutes later, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County. The disrespect for local judgments on local matters could not have been starker. Determined to maintain anti-drug orthodoxy, the DEA is running wild in the laboratories of democracy, smashing experiments in reform and injuring innocent bystanders. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed this cruel crusade to continue, based on the premise that a cancer or AIDS patient who grows a few marijuana plants to relieve his pain or nausea is engaged in interstate commerce and therefore subject to federal 'regulation.' As for Congress, on the day of the L.A. raids the House once again rejected a measure aimed at restraining the DEA."

California's Lost Students
At Reason.org, Joanne Jacobs writes, "Only 60 percent of EL [English learning] students who began school in California as kindergartners will be reclassified as proficient by seventh grade, estimates a study by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office...After 10 years in California schools, less than 40 percent of English learners will be reclassified as proficient." Jacobs details the perverse incentives that keep schools from educating and promoting students who are learning English.
» Lisa Snell: Universal Preschool Reality Check in New Jersey

Peace and Prosperity Through Productivity
Reason magazine's Ronald Bailey asks "why South Asians and Cubans are more productive outside of India and Cuba? Why do Russians have the highest per capita income of any ethnic group in the U.S., but very low per capita income in Russia? Why are Mexicans five times more productive in the U.S. than in Mexico? The answer is that productivity flourishes when people are free, safe, and justly treated."

Health Care Costs Imperil Big Three
In The Wall Street Journal, Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia writes, "America's former Big Three auto makers are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy -- Ford's second-quarter profit notwithstanding. And one big reason for their dire state, apart from collective amnesia over how to make hit cars, is their ever-escalating health-care expenses. Every car they produce, they plaintively assert, contains $1,500 in health costs that their Japanese competitors don't face." Dalmia says these are the "most critical contract negotiations in the history of Motown's auto industry" and the carmakers and union must work out a deal that reduces health care costs.

Reducing Gridlock in LA
In a letter published in The Planning Report, Reason's Robert Poole, who has advised the last four presidential administrations, outlines how Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa can start to reduce Los Angeles' infamous traffic jams: "...the single most important step Los Angeles could take on congestion pricing is to convert the region's large and growing set of HOV [carpool] lanes into a seamless network of HOT [high-occupancy toll] lanes. This could be done by installing electronic tolling equipment and signage overhead on the existing lanes, issuing revenue bonds based on the projected toll revenue, and using those funds to add key missing links—e.g., HOT lanes on US 101 and I-10, and flyover HOT-to-HOT connectors at key interchanges. If such a network existed, what would be the benefits? First, every driver in Los Angeles would then have 'congestion insurance'—i.e., the peace of mind of knowing that whenever she absolutely had to be somewhere on time, she would have an uncongested alternative available. Most people would not pay to use this alternative every day, but most would welcome the option for those times when they really needed it. Second, the large majority of the costs of the additional lanes and flyovers would be paid for out of toll revenues, with the funding available up-front so that these projects could be built within the next decade, not whenever Caltrans could scrape together the funds. But the third benefit is perhaps the most important. A HOT Network offers by far the most bang for the buck in expanding mass transit's market share in Los Angeles. Express bus service is vastly less costly than rail transit, since it can use existing roadway capacity paid for by motorists. Even on congested surface streets, the new Metro Rapid bus service has been a tremendous success. And where express buses operate on relatively uncongested HOV lanes, such as the El Monte Busway, they carry huge numbers of people."

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