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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Syria Showdown, Clinton Health Care

September 21, 2007

Showdown in Lebanon
In today's Wall Street Journal, Reason magazine's Michael Young, opinion editor of the Daily Star in Beirut, writes, "Next week Lebanon will enter the constitutional period, during which its parliament must choose a new president. The election might allow the Lebanese to finally be rid of Syria's peon, President Emile Lahoud, whose mandate was forcibly extended by Damascus three years ago. However, there is a real danger that it will be the final nail in the coffin of the Cedar Revolution. The outcome will also help determine whether Syria can win an important round in a regional struggle pitting its alliance with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas against a loose coalition of forces including the United States, the mainstream Sunni Arab regimes, and European states. Amid heightening polarization throughout the Middle East, a Syrian victory in Lebanon could also exacerbate simmering tensions elsewhere...Lebanon has the startling potential of becoming either the Middle East's salvation, or its nightmare. What happens here will have serious repercussions for what happens in the region as a whole."

Sending Poor Kids to Middle-Class Schools Doesn't Fix the System
In a column in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Reason Foundation's Joanne Jacobs, writes, "In June, the U.S. Supreme Court barred school assignments based on race to increase racial diversity. So school leaders immediately began considering economic integration plans instead. Sit poor kids next to middle-class kids. That should work! Presidential candidate John Edwards -- Mr. Two Americas -- has made this the core of his education proposals." Jacobs, author of the book, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds, examines the data and finds "contrary to expectations, moving families out of high-poverty neighborhoods has no overall positive impact on children's learning. The new neighborhoods were significantly less poor, and their residents were better educated. But researchers found no difference in children's reading or math scores or in behavior or attitudes toward school when comparing families that won the housing lottery with those who didn't. There also was no effect on retentions in grade or suspensions."

Clinton Health Care II
"At the center of Sen. Clinton's plan is a requirement that every American get and keep a health insurance policy. The good news is that such an individual mandate could be the cornerstone for a thorough-going reform of health care into a private consumer-driven system. The bad news is this is not the direction that Sen. Clinton's plan takes. The senator is right when she declares, 'Part of our health care system is the best in the world, and we should build on it; part of the system is broken, and we should fix it.' Sadly, she's misdiagnosed what part is broken and what part is best. The chief broken part of health insurance in the United States is the faltering system of employer-based health insurance. Since 2000, firms offering their employees health insurance have dropped from 69 percent to 60 percent...Sen. Clinton compares her health care plan to the mandate that all drivers carry car insurance. But it's a bad comparison. Employers don't buy their workers' car insurance or home insurance. Why should they buy their employees health insurance? When someone leaves his or her job, they don't have to change or lose their car insurance. It's portable. A modern health insurance system would really make insurance the personal responsibility of each American." - Reason magazine's Ronald Bailey analyzes Sen. Hillary Clinton's new health care plan.

Fundamental Air Traffic Reform
A group of nine leading aviation experts, including a former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, a former Federal Aviation Administration chief, and the architect of airline deregulation, is calling for significant changes to the nation’s air traffic control system. They stepped forward because "Congress has not realistically addressed" the reforms needed to successfully implement a re-designed and much higher-capacity air traffic control system that could eliminate today's record-setting airline delays. The group's recommendations are here.

How Sen. McCain Popularized the UFC
In Reason magazine, Greg Beato looks at the popularity of mixed martial arts and writes, "As much as we like violence, we apparently like it even more when it's tempered by a sense of order." Beato examines efforts to eliminate the UFC and how they backfired, "Of course, no ultimate fighting league worth its name would go down without a long, sweaty battle. As [Sen. John] McCain put the pressure on, the UFC counterattacked by going legit, implementing dozens of new rules, gaining the sanction of state athletic commissions in New Jersey and Nevada, and softening the marketing hype. An ownership change in 2001 further hastened the UFC's makeover, and by September of that year its events were back on pay-per-view. Today's UFC audiences, fueled in large part by the popularity of the Spike TV reality series The Ultimate Fighter, dwarf those the enterprise attracted in its pre-crackdown golden age."

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