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Kathryn Hickok, Cascade Policy Institute

If Oregon charter school students can stay at home and stay in school at the same time, shouldn’t they be able to?

Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-08, which closed all Oregon public schools due to COVID-19, has been interpreted to also close Oregon’s online charter schools. This means students who were enrolled as online charter students before COVID-19 have had their online schools closed, even though these students already learn at home and can safely comply with Oregon’s social distancing and stay-at-home norms. Like other public schools, online charter schools are permitted to offer “supplemental” educational materials, but not their full curriculum, according to Willamette Week.

Apparently, this decision isn’t about students; it’s about school funding. A memo from the Oregon Department of Education suggests that because online charter schools already have a curriculum for students to learn Continue reading

Lloyd Marcus

My brother who lives in Baltimore is a fellow black Christian conservative Republican. He phoned to warn me not to mention Trump to a senior relative. Fake news media’s corona-madness has driven her hatred to the extreme. Now, she wants him dead!

Our relative’s irrational hatred for Trump is exactly what Democrats/fake news media still strive to create since the day he was elected.

However, whenever Trump speaks directly to the American people, they believe him, gravitate to him, and love his America-first agenda.

This is why Democrats/fake news media continuously seek to block Trump from communicating directly to We the People. Absurdly, they claim his tweeting is an impeachable crime. The Democrats/fake news media were thrilled when coronavirus hit our shores, giving them an opportunity to demand that Trump stop holding rallies. The mega thousands who attend Trump rallies include a growing large number of Democrats eager to jump aboard the Trump Train. Continue reading

Rachel Dawson, Policy Analyst, Cascade Policy Institute

Oregon, it’s about time we talk about nuclear power.

No, I don’t mean major reactors like PGE’s decommissioned Trojan Nuclear Plant which shuttered in 1992. Rather, I’m talking about small modular reactors (SMRs) which are experiencing rapid development and receiving great international interest.

Countries around the world, such as Russia and Canada, are currently exploring this technology. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has completed its first SMR certification review for a company called NuScale Power, which expects final approval by 2020. As it so happens, NuScale is headquartered right here in Portland.

NuScale is developing a new type of nuclear reactor that it claims is safer, smaller, and more affordable than traditional nuclear reactors. Continue reading

Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

The system is facing a $30 billion shortfall—radical reform is needed

Coronavirus has hit the economy hard. Nearly all the stock market gains from the past two or three years have been wiped out. While it’s painful for investors and retirees, it’s likely to fuel the third major PERS crisis since the dot-com bust.

PERS, the public employee retirement system, has two major sources of funds: investment returns and employer contributions. PERS investments are managed by the state treasurer, under guidance from the Oregon Investment Council. “Employers” are state and local governments whose employees are PERS members.

PERS charges these employers a rate equal to some percent of their payroll to fund the costs of their employees’ anticipated retirement benefits. Currently, the average rate is approximately 25% of payroll. For example, for a city employee with a salary of $60,000 a year, the city must pay an additional $15,000 to PERS.

One of the many factors that affect the employer rate is the unfunded actuarial liability, or UAL. The UAL is an estimate of how much money would be needed to pay off all existing beneficiaries if the system were liquidated. Think of it this way: If you sold everything you owned—house, car, checking, savings, retirement—would you have enough to pay everyone you owe? If you don’t, you have unfunded liabilities. Continue reading

Alyssa Ahlgren

Worry, hysteria, and panic-buying have ensued as the days of uncertainty during COVID-19 continue. The contagion rate, mortality rate, a potential vaccine, and other details of the virus may be in question, but one thing is for sure — partisan politics is alive and well.

Gone are the days where a national emergency unified the country. Gone are the days where we are able to unite as Americans rather than along party lines in a time of despair. Present are the days where every action taken is twisted into a political punch towards the other side of the aisle. Present are the days where legislation to combat a threat is taken advantage of to sneak in ancillary policy agendas. Present are the days where tragic events are viewed as political opportunities rather than a team effort for the people.

It’s true, we live in an exacerbated time of divisiveness. We’ve seen the divisiveness prevail through shootings, deaths, and national crises. It took a global viral infection to show us that this divide is rooted deeper than we might have anticipated; deep enough to stand strong as our countrymen and those around the world fall ill. Continue reading

Michael Farris, CEO of ADF

On March 24th, I was one of 35 conservative leaders that Vice President Mike Pence briefed on COVID-19.

I was very encouraged by what I heard, and I think you will be too. The Vice President first reviewed the actions that President Trump has taken thus far to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

  1. President Trump stopped travel from China in late January and then Italy and South Korea. Even though he was advised that these were unprecedented actions, he decisively imposed them based on sound medical counsel in order to help slow the spread of the virus here in the U.S.
  2. While the President has the authority to direct American industry to make critical supplies by the force of law, he has instead simply asked American business leaders to help. And they have done so enthusiastically and effectively.
  3. The President has stripped away regulatory red tape that had prevented the redeployment of industrial masks for medical uses. The masks are safe and effective, but bureaucracy was keeping these resources from being redirected efficiently. Safety and common sense prevailed.

We are halfway through the 15 days designed to slow the spread. We should all be committed to doing our part for the remainder of the 15 days by continuing to follow the recommendations of the White House.

While the exact timetable remains uncertain, the Vice President emphasized that we would be getting back to business in weeks, not months. Continue reading

President Trump, who is doing everything he can to fight the coronavirus, called for a Day of Prayer recently. He proclaimed, “We are a country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.”

But David Hogg, a Parkland shooting survivor, tweeted: “Don’t let this administration address COVID-19 like our national gun violence. [Expletive] a National day of prayer, we need immediate comprehensive action.”

U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, famous for her declaration to “impeach the [expletive]” even retweeted Hogg’s message. Dr. William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, notes: Tlaib, as a U.S. Representative, should be censured for her “obscene assault on people of faith.” Continue reading

Rachel Dawson, Policy Analyst, Cascade Policy Institute

Businesses across Oregon are laying off employees and shuttering their doors, triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak and Kate Brown’s executive order requiring social distancing and closing specified businesses. Unemployment claims jumped by around 3,200% in Oregon last week and unemployment could reach 20% in the coming months.

Due to the outbreak and increased statewide demand, the state is relaxing requirements for some occupations. For example, the state will be expediting the licensing process for daycare providers and will “waive, suspend or amend existing administrative rules pertaining to child care while allowing for emergency child care to be established.”

Easing the burden and costs of licensing for daycare workers is a good first step, but the state can go farther to help more Oregonians access jobs they otherwise would be locked out of due to costly fees and lengthy processes. Oregon has the 8th most burdensome licensing laws in the nation and licenses 69 of 102 lower-income occupations identified by the Institute for Justice. Continue reading

Bryan Fischer

Hope for the coronavirus is here. We don’t have to wait for it. We don’t have to wait for a year and a half to get a vaccine developed and tested. There is an inexpensive, readily available drug which has already cured its first coronavirus patient. It is cheap, effective, and available today.

The drug, choloroquine (or hydroxycholoroquine), has been used to treat malaria since 1944. It can safely be used with patients of all ages, including children. Scientists in China and South Korea began testing it on patients diagnosed with coronavirus, and discovered that it is something of a wonder drug in dealing with this disease.

China’s daily rate of new infections has dropped virtually to zero, and the entire world looks at South Korea as a model of how to respond to this virus. Perhaps the use of choloroquine has something to do with that.

South Korea has never resorted to the “incarceration in place” edicts that are keeping the American people imprisoned in their own homes while criminals are released from jail so they won’t catch the virus from other inmates. Continue reading

Jim Wagner

My search for coronavirus artifacts began in the vast sedimentary sludge of late Holocene reporting from national health centers around the world. (That is, not quite a week ago.) I noted, for example, how the very high death rate from the virus in Italy contrasted with the very low death rate in Germany. Specifically, 8% of infected Italians were dying, while only 0.3% of infected Germans were dying. That is a ratio of more than 25 to one, and I concluded it could not possibly be accounted for by the various explanations offered—the smoking rate in Italy, an older population, less frequent hand washing, closer personal space etc. There had to be something else at work.

On the morning of March 19th I wrote to family and friends: “I have a suspicion that the data on the coronavirus epidemic is being misapplied. Looking at the exponential growth in the number of new coronavirus cases, it strikes me that this could simply be an artifact reflecting the exponential growth in the number of people being tested.” (An “artifact,” in this sense, is a misleading or confusing creation or application of data.) I explained that as the number of people tested increases, the number of new cases will fall off because we will reach a point of diminishing returns. “It will be like picking cherries,” I wrote, “slow at first until you bring out the ladder, and then increasing rapidly until only the most difficult fruit to access is left on the tree. The more rapidly the tests are being deployed, the more dramatic this data artifact will be.” Continue reading

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