Will the Supreme Court’s gambling ruling help or hurt sports and budgets? – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

“A true Englishman,” Jules Verne once quipped, “doesn’t joke when he is talking about so serious a thing as a wager.”

After the Supreme Court’s ruling two weeks ago effectively legalizing sports wagering, Americans, too, are starting to take gambling seriously, both inside and outside the world of sports.

Alex Ovechkin controls the puck against Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt in the first period in game one of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports via REUTERS

In Murphy v. NCAA, the Supremes held by a 7-2 margin (more or less) that a congressional act forbidding state legislatures from authorizing sports gambling violated the “anti-commandeering” doctrine of the Tenth Amendment and therefore was unconstitutional.

Under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1991 (PASPA), instead of prohibiting sports gambling outright, Congress declared it “unlawful” for a state to “advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact . . . a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme” based on competitive sporting events.

In 2011, voters in New Jersey approved a state constitutional amendment authorizing just that, and the following year, the state legislature formally authorized sports betting. Shortly thereafter, the major sports leagues and the NCAA challenged the legislation in court, arguing it was barred by PASPA. New Jersey countered that PASPA itself was unconstitutional because the Tenth Amendment prohibits the federal government from “order[ing] the State to regulate in accordance with federal standards” — a principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine.

After further judicial and legislative maneuverings, the case found its way to the Supreme Court, where Justice Alito, writing for the majority, explained that the anti-commandeering doctrine derives fundamentally from the Framers’ “decision to withhold from Congress the power to issue orders directly to the States.” This “structural protection of liberty” helps “promote political accountability” and “prevents Congress from shifting the costs of regulation to the States.”

And in the case of PASPA, the high court held that by purporting to tell legislatures not what they must affirmatively do but what they must not do, Congress overstepped its bounds and violated the doctrine.

Thus, New Jersey and the 49 other states found themselves suddenly liberated to enable sports betting within their borders. Anticipating the ruling, several states, including New York, West Virginia, Connecticut, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, did exactly that. Another 15 states have taken steps in this direction.

But the Supremes’ Murphy decision nevertheless left sports fans and others alike wondering whether sports will benefit or suffer from the ruling.

Predictably, libertarians celebrated, and with good reason. Americans are already betting enormous sums of money on sports, they reckoned, so why not legalize it outright and at least capture some tax revenue?

According to statistics cited by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, while Americans legally wagered nearly $5 billion in 2017, they bet $123 billion per year on sports, almost all illegally. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of states conduct lotteries and permit some form of casino gambling, generally on Indian reservations.

But doesn’t widespread, legalized sports gambling run the risk of interfering with the integrity of games? Worse, wouldn’t the prospect of, say, in-seat touchscreens in sports arenas, on which spectators could place bets on all aspects of the game they’re watching, ruin the stadium experience?

The four major sports leagues, which had joined the NCAA in the original suit against New Jersey, wasted little time in calling for uniform national standards, with the National Basketball Association emphasizing that “the integrity of our game remains our highest priority” and the National Football League reportedly “focusing on getting paid for selling rights to its own data and video footage — intellectual property that legal betting operators will want to pay for in order to help them set lines and prop bets.”

What also remains uncertain is whether sports wagering will benefit local and state coffers.

Interestingly, misery and ecstasy have blended on the Strip: Las Vegas sports bookmakers stand to lose big as the city’s juggernaut National Hockey League expansion team, the Golden Knights, has overcome tremendous odds to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

In addition, a 2016 report from the State University of New York’s Rockefeller Institute found that “state authorizations and promotions of gambling offer little long-run relief to state revenue problems” because while “new gambling activities may generate short-run increases in public revenues . . . these increases are getting smaller and their duration shorter, perhaps as more and more states compete for a limited pool of gambling dollars.”

Thus, many questions remain as we enter the brave new world of sports gambling. Jules Verne wasn’t joking around.

Read more from American Enterprise Institute…

The college dropout problem most education advocates don’t talk about – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Talk of higher education reform tends to focus, understandably enough, on the cost of college. After all, steady tuition increases, rising student debt, and eye-popping sticker prices at well-known colleges and universities leave too many students and parents wondering if college is out of reach.

For all this healthy attention as to whether students can afford to go to college, however, we’ve too often lost sight of an equally crucial question — whether they’ll actually earn a degree once they’re there. The disheartening reality is that far too many students invest scarce time and money in attending a college from which they never graduate, and frequently wind up worse off than if they’d simply foregone college altogether.

In 2016, more than 40 percent of all students who started at a four-year college six years earlier had not yet earned a degree. Odds are that most of those students never will. In real terms, this means that nearly two million students who begin college each year will drop out before earning a diploma.

Indeed, according to our research, there are more than 600 four-year colleges where less than a third of students will graduate within six years of arriving on campus. When we look at public two-year colleges, most of which are community colleges, the graduation rate for full-time, first-time students is even lower. Only about 26 percent of students at those schools will have completed their degree within three years.

These dismal completion rates create significant private and societal costs. For individual students, the costs come in the form of student debt, lost time, and lower expected earnings (median annual earnings for students who complete a bachelor’s degree are $15,000 higher than for those who attended college but didn’t earn a degree). For society, the costs show up in forgone tax revenue and wasted public subsidies. In aggregate, some estimate that the total private and public costs of non-completion impose a half a trillion dollar drag on the economy.

In seeking to respond to these challenges, education scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and Third Way have joined together to commission a series of studies by five experts laying out the challenges of non-completion and the urgency for families, educators, and policymakers to take action to address it. (You can find those papers here.)

Now, we do well to heed the risks that a narrow focus on college completion can invite — especially when such an emphasis starts to shapes the incentives and strictures of public policy.

As we have seen in K–12, it is all too possible for simple metrics to yield gamesmanship, corner cutting, or manipulation. We are all-too-familiar with colleges that are content to churn out watered-down degrees with little labor market value, or that take care to only admit the most academically prepared students — leaving someone else to serve others for whom the path to completion will be more difficult. Obviously, measures that encourage colleges to “game the system” are a step in the wrong direction.

Thus, reforms intended to incentivize or improve completion rates need to be designed with scrupulous attention to potential consequences and due regard for the full range of outcomes that matter to taxpayers and students.

That said, there are examples of intriguing programs at the state and college-level that merit careful attention. Thirty-two states currently use performance-based funding policies that award a larger share of public subsidies to colleges that deliver impressive performance metrics. While the overall success of these policies is still up for debate, what’s clear is that states like Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee are using these policies to gently prod colleges to focus on their students’ outcomes. In such states, some higher education institutions have modified their advising, counseling, and academic services to prioritize retention and completion.

Approached with care and appropriate attention to possible perverse incentives, performance-based funding is one way to encourage colleges to put more emphasis on supporting the students they enroll.

At the campus level, it’s vital to note that low-cost, quick-fix programs are predictably hard to come by. While there are no silver bullets, we know that higher education providers are already making hundreds of decisions that impact students’ experience and motivation in a way that makes it more or less likely they will succeed.

For example, Georgia State University issues automatic completion grants to college-level juniors and seniors with unmet financial need. On average, these grants are about $900 each, and they help students overcome the stumbling blocks that can be posed by expenses like heating bills and textbook costs. In 2016, nearly 2,000 students received completion grants, with GSU reporting that 61 percent of seniors who received one graduated within two semesters. Programs like these illustrate what colleges can do to help students graduate, without compromising standards or lowering the bar for college completion.

Even in these polarized times, we can agree that college students should complete their degrees and that taxpayers should get repaid for the funds they make available through student loans. We have the opportunity to seek solutions that focus not only on whether students can afford to arrive on campus, but on whether those students willing to do the work will leave with the education and the credential they came for. Left or right, that’s a cause we can all embrace.

Read more from American Enterprise Institute…

Why Campus Shootings Are So Shocking: School Is the ‘Safest Place’ for a Child

In the days after a school shooting, like the one last Friday in Santa Fe, Tex., parents hug their children tighter in the morning, wondering if such tragedies are inevitable. Amid the trauma, heartbreak and anxiety is a key piece of data, one that makes campus shootings all the more shocking when they do happen: School is one of the safest places for an American child.

Read more from Parkland School Campus…

Denver Mayor’s pricey trip to Paris attracts little attention

Remember when the media was obsessed with Scott Pruitt’s travel expenses and whether he flew business class or coach? To be sure, those are valid questions to investigate in case taxpayer dollars are being abused, but the story wound up mostly hitting a dead end. Still, if there are any other government officials out there wondering about how they can fly with the elites and not have to reach into their own pockets, they might want to have a chat with Denver’s Democratic mayor, Michael Hancock.

An investigation by the local CBS affiliate found that Hancock, his staff, and a number of officials from the Denver International Airport (DIA) took a very nice trip to France recently and ran up quite the tab. Much of the expense can be attributed to the fact that virtually everyone on the non-stop trip to Paris and beyond flew business class rather than coach and most of the tickets were booked at the last minute, driving up the already hefty fares even further.

A CBS4 Investigation has found some business class flights to Paris last month for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, his appointees and Denver International Airport administrators cost between $7,000 to $9,000 with some roundtrip tickets running nearly $16,000.

“These flights are expensive, and we acknowledge that,” said Stacey Stegman, a spokesperson for Denver International Airport.

CBS4 found two newer DIA employees on the trip, office manager Katie Halbert and DIA travel administrator Katie Houlmiere, flew to Paris on Lufthansa business class at a cost of $8,917.80 each. Their return flights on Lufthansa business class from Paris to Frankfurt to Denver cost $6,734. Meaning the two mid-level administrators round trip flights from Denver to Paris cost $15,651.80.

The stated purpose of the trip was claimed to be (irony alert!) to “celebrate the inaugural trip of low cost airline Norwegian Air, which …offers fares as low as $300 from Denver to Paris.” This trip went to Paris first, ostensibly to receive economic briefings and meet with French industry leaders. The gang then flew to Brest, finishing up with a trip to Normany to visit Omaha Beach. When you add up the cost of this five-night jaunt for 15 municipal government and DIA employees it approaches a quarter million dollars.

Now that CBS has exposed the expenses, this will surely be coming to a stop, right? Perish the thought. The DIA spokesperson says that the policy remains in place and business class flights are required so that the travelers can be “well rested” when they arrive and to ensure they have “time to relax” on the way back.

The Mayor, while admitting the trip was expensive, is quick to point out that “no taxpayer money was involved.” But that’s only true in a very limited and direct view. The airport is an “enterprise” as described in the state constitution and is, in theory, responsible for generating its own revenue and doesn’t rely on taxpayer dollars. But that’s something of a smokescreen because the airlines and all the airports rely on government largesse and their infrastructure needs are almost always covered by the taxpayer. And the airport is owned by Denver’s Department of Aviation and governed by the City and County of Denver.

Even if that weren’t the case, the Mayor and all of his staff and DIA cronies aren’t paying for these tickets themselves. They essentially arranged for more than a dozen officials to have a lovely, five-day holiday in France with top level amenities and didn’t have to lay out a dime for it.

Nice work if you can get it.

The post Denver Mayor’s pricey trip to Paris attracts little attention appeared first on Hot Air.

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Grieving athletes can turn grief to relief with wondrous, sometimes cathartic feats.

MAY 15: Stephen Piscotty #25 of the Oakland Athletics high fives Marcus Semien #10 after Piscotty’s solo home run in the second inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on May 15, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. If you caught a glimpse of Stephen Piscotty’s home run on Tuesday night, well, you’re probably wondering when your chill bumps will calm down.

Read more from Bob Davis…

The Unexpected Upside of a Homeschooled Education

The people who know what’s best for their kids aren’t politicians, but parents.

By Hannah Long

I was a bundle of nerves and insecurities, clutching a packed lunch. I kept repeating the location of my first classroom as I wandered haplessly around the new, strange educational environment.

It was my first day of school. I was 18.

God must have a sense of humor about homeschoolers. English 101 had been moved from its original room, twice. By the time I finally tracked it down, I was considering chucking college to be a barista.

I collapsed into a chair, nervous that I’d missed something. I hadn’t… The teacher spent the first class reading from an arcane document called a “syllabus” and employing mysterious jargon like “semester” and “term.” My panic began to ebb. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, but I could Google it later.

Googling is a great tool when you go to school at home and don’t have schoolmates. Growing up, it was my No. 1 method for translating unfamiliar peer slang. Thanks to Urban Dictionary, I often learned more than I bargained for. (If you’re unfamiliar with that particular resource, imagine the wall of a high-school bathroom stall, but crowdsourced by the entire Internet.)

Once I was dumped into a class of disaffected college students, I was not the least bit shy. I sat at the front and asked an obnoxious number of questions. I felt like I was on safari in a strange land.

What were normal students like? Would I fit in? When would the dreaded Marxist Indoctrination begin? (I had watched Fox News – I knew the score.)

For the record, the answers are:

  • Pretty much the same as me.
  • As much as I ever will.
  • About two weeks into the semester, Comrade.

I usually don’t confess I was homeschooled until I’ve known people for a while. The revelation provokes curious, shifty glances that show they’re wondering whether I’ve been sufficiently socialized or educated. One man, unsubtly, dropped pop quiz questions into our conversations… “So, what do you know about evolution?

It’s easier to homeschool a child than you might think. Although – as in public schools – it depends on the student, the parents, the teacher, and the week.

My homeschool schedule went like so: I woke up in the mornings, rambled downstairs to get breakfast, rambled back upstairs and did my schoolwork in bed. There were reading assignments of varying difficulty – I looked forward to My Man Jeeves more than Moby Dick.

Math took more time. My family used a math software package that included lectures and practice problems. By the time I got into the higher maths, the subject ate into larger and larger portions of my day, as did biology, chemistry, and physics. My father is an engineer, so he could usually help me with homework, but the Internet makes getting access to tutors easy.

Some days, I’d get it all done by noon and have the rest of the day to myself. I spent hours typing away at a clunky computer, writing what I thought was the next great fantasy novel, but was really mediocre Tolkien fan fiction.

During the warmer months, I could get outside and lose myself in the woodlands surrounding our house. I must have looked like a walking cliché – a scraggly, pony-tailed Appalachian teenager in overalls, holding a metal bucket and clambering up hillsides looking for black raspberries. The only discordant notes in this Tom Sawyer image were the earbuds snaking up into my ears, transmitting, usually, a Ravi Zacharias evangelical Christian podcast.

I was able to live unstructured and unplugged, enjoying learning for its own sake. In that, I count myself lucky.

The best part was the freedom of it. Book report deadlines and standardized testing didn’t dominate my childhood. I was able to live unstructured and unplugged, enjoying learning for its own sake. In that, I count myself lucky.

Homeschooling worked well for me. But any attempt to describe it in general terms is difficult because homeschooling is so intensely individual. I’m an introverted nerdy sort… I flourished with self-motivated, solitary study.

On the other hand, I know extroverts who couldn’t handle the seclusion. I know timid homeschoolers who “broke bad” when they were finally exposed to the great Babylon of university campuses. But I also know sensitive people who would have been crushed by the pettiness and assembly-line mentality of public education.

Of course, that raises the question: Am I introverted because I’m homeschooled or homeschooled because I’m introverted? It’s a rephrased formulation of the nature-vs-nurture debate, and your answer will probably come from your preconceived notions about education and humanity.

I’m going to cheat on that question. The biggest influence on who I am has nothing to do with school, and everything to do with my parents. I’d take a step further and say that’s true for most people. Shy and hesitant in social encounters? Sounds remarkably like my dad’s description of his college days. Loud and opinionated? Sounds quite like my mother.

What I have to say here probably won’t satisfy a sound-bite society. In an age of easy absolutes, homeschooled kids must either be hothouse flowers, sheltered from the character-building agora of junior high, or overachieving honor students kept pure from the filthy masses. The reality’s more like real life. Some are hardened by adversity, others draw strength from privacy and family. Some wilt away in isolation, others love crowds. Ultimately, the best people to ask what’s best for kids aren’t their politicians, but their parents.

As for me, school and society are significantly less intimidating now, both because I’ve grown stronger, but also because I’ve learned that everyone else is just as uncertain and awkward and socially clueless as I am.

C.S. Lewis said once that friendship begins when one person looks at the other and says, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” Or, as that conversation usually goes in college, when one person looks at the other and says, “Oh, crap – that was due today?”

Read more from American Consequences…

Five Things To Know About Alabama’s Juicy New Political Scandal

If you were wondering how Alabama could possibly top the tawdry, successive sagas of “Luv Gov” Robert Bentley and “teen dream” Roy Moore, a shuttered nonprofit and a retiring state representative may have just delivered the thing you were waiting for. Republican Kay Ivey, who replaced Bentley after his resignation over a sex scandal and cover-up, is trying to win a full term in the governor’s mansion.

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