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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: War on the Middle Class

February 9, 2007

Is the Middle Class an Endangered Species?
Politicians and pundits say there's a war on the middle class and are ready to fight "income inequality," as President Bush puts it. But Reason Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie finds "basic indicators of wealth and opportunity drive home the reality that the middle class' place at the table is pretty secure--maybe not the best seat in the house, but arguably better than ever. A historically high 70 percent of Americans own their homes. And two-thirds of high school graduates go on to college (up from half in 1970). That wouldn't be happening if the U.S. was fast turning into the Brazil of the North. But don't expect the 'vanishing middle class' storyline to itself vanish. Pols and pundits will use scare stories to drum up business and push minimum wage hikes, tax breaks to pay for the wage hikes, prescription drug coverage, and on and on. We in the middle class like the attention (and the more-than-occasional entitlement). More to the point, there are more of us and we've all got more to lose than we used to. Which also means we've got even more to worry about." Gillespie's full column is here.

Where's Gray Davis When You Need Him?
In a column for California Political News, Reason's Adrian Moore and George Passantino say Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest budget makes them yearn for, gulp, former Gov. Gray Davis. They say Schwarzenegger's living in "a sort of fantasy world characterized by rosy assumptions, undue optimism, and an utter disregard for the reform agenda that propelled him into office. Fiscal conservatives are facing the sad truth that the governor they supported has actually increased state spending more than the governor they ousted. Since Schwarzenegger assumed office, general fund spending has increased by an astonishing 31 percent." The full column is here.

Toll Road Trend Hits Arizona
Reason Founder Robert Poole is scheduled to testify before a House committee on toll roads and using public-private partnerships to build new highways on Tuesday. And next week, Reason's Geoff Segal will be appearing in Phoenix to testify about Arizona's plans to convert carpool lanes into high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and to partner with the public sector to build new freeways. In a column for the Arizona Republic, Poole and Leonard Gilroy write, "The private sector has committed nearly $2 billion to add high-occupancy toll lanes near Washington, D.C., and $7.2 billion to build toll roads from Dallas to San Antonio. There are more than $25 billion in public-private partnership highway projects planned or already approved across the United States. Arizona's freeways don't have to resemble parking lots. The Senate bills encouraging toll roads and public-private partnerships are significant steps in the fight against gridlock." The full column is here.
 » Reason's Toll Roads Research and Commentary

Fill 'Er Up With Terror-Free Gas
"Last week saw the unofficial opening of the nation's first Terror-Free Oil filling station, which sells only gas that originates from countries that do not support terrorism and oil companies that do not operate in the Middle East. The existence of the station was billed as a new way for U.S. customers to make a statement about energy policy and corporate behavior with their dollars. I was chewing on the idea on Thursday afternoon, when I stopped to fill up the tank of my busted 1998 Camry on my way to the Whole Foods in Cambridge, MA. As usual, I drove past the Citgo station to fill up at the Exxon station across the street in my own tiny version of protest about the country of origin of my fuel. These days, any purchase is fair game for an ideological battle. Since I'm headed to buy cruelty-free chicken weighted down with an entire food philosophy, why not put some thought into the implications of my gas purchase? I usually give Citgo a pass because most of the company's profits wind up on the hands of the Venezuelan government, headed by the socialist, Castro-loving, anti-globalization, and virulently anti-American Hugo Chavez...I'm far from alone in my (admittedly lackadaisical) efforts to buy ideologically-appropriate gas. If I'd cruised past the Exxon and continued until I reached Omaha, the site of the new Terror-Free oil station, it's good to know that I would have had even more options with which to express my opinions on geopolitics by paying at the pump, not just in a voting booth." - Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward looks at how hard it is to find terror-free gasoline.
 » Ronald Bailey: Peak Oil Panic

Global Warming and Our Addiction to Oil
The melting of polar ice caps will put Manhattan under water. We are running out of oil and natural resources. From Hurricane Katrina to the 2004 Tsunami we are told that we are experiencing 'nature's revenge' for our destruction of the environment. Reason's Ronald Bailey and three other prominent scientific experts will debate how dire today's environmental 'crisis' is and what we should do about it on Tuesday, February 13th at The New School in New York City. For more information, please click here.

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