How Overcriminal‌ization Threatens Liberty

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In Heritage Work

There’s a looming problem in America’s federal criminal justice system that “gravely threatens the liberty of ordinary citizens. It’s called overcriminalization.

The problem, law professor Stephen Smith writes in a new Heritage report, “is not simply that too many criminal laws are on the books, but that they are poorly defined in ways that give unwarranted sweep to the criminal law, raising the danger of punishment absent or in excess of moral blameworthiness.”

Congress has created, on average, 56 new federal crimes each year since 2000. This has contributed injustices “that federal prosecutors have committed against people who had no reason to know their actions were wrongful, much less illegal.”

While awareness of this problem is growing, legislation to properly deal with the problem has yet to be written. Smith explains an alternative solution: Continue Reading »

We Need Less Government in the Housing Market, Not More

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In Heritage Work

The federal government should be less involved in the housing market moving forward, Heritage Foundation experts Norbert Michel and John Ligon argue in a new report on housing finance and free enterprise.  The authors go on to explain,

Free markets promote affordable housing, but the federal government has increasingly intervened in housing finance for decades. Housing finance reform will be successful only if policymakers recognize the flaws of previous interventionist policies and embrace the basic principles inherent in a free market.

They argue for a housing policy “that promotes individual economic freedom and affordable homeownership,” and lay out five policies to achieve that goal: Continue Reading »

No Easy Fixes in Iraq, But Action Is Necessary Nonetheless

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In Heritage Work

Iraq is a mess. Caught between sectarian friction and open conflict with ISIS, Iraq is in need of serious support. But how can the U.S. help? And how much of a threat is ISIS? What will be Iraq’s future?

At a recent Heritage Foundation event, these questions were specifically addressed. The event, moderated by Heritage fellow Peter Brookes, brought together some of the top experts on military affairs and the Middle East, including Heritage’s Steve Bucci, Stephen J. Hadley, and Mary Habeck. Continue Reading »

Ferguson, MO and Our Overmilitarized Police Force

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In Heritage Work

Preserving law and order is an essential role of government. The ongoing demonstrations and subsequent police crackdowns in Ferguson, Missouri have sparked a debate about whether military-style police tactics are the right approach.

Although introduced into police departments to deal with exceptional circumstances,” Heritage Foundation legal fellow Evan Bernick reports, “the use of military hardware and tactics soon expanded.”

He continues: “While enforcing laws and stopping violent criminals are essential, routine use of military hardware and tactics in nonviolent situations has inflicted substantial unnecessary damage on persons and property.”

We need to take steps to scale back the use of military hardware and tactics in contexts where they are plainly inappropriate while ensuring that law enforcement can still respond with overwhelming force when necessary.”

Do you think police should routinely use military hardware and tactics?

President Obama’s Administrative Amnesty Is ‘Unjust and Costly’ and Won’t Solve the Problem

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In Heritage Work

Heritage’s Derrick Morgan and David Inserra report on President Obama’s latest unilateral amnesty gambit:

President Barack Obama is considering using prosecutorial discretion to effectively legalize millions of illegal immigrants. Doing so would be unjust and costly and would encourage more illegal immigration. Congress should discourage the Administration from considering this divisive and unproductive step, which would only make it more difficult to implement suitable, feasible, and just immigration reforms and more robust and effective border security.

Read their whole analysis of why this is the wrong approach to immigration and border security.

Last year, Heritage experts compiled their recommendations for a step-by-step reform that fixes our broken immigration system without granting amnesty.

What do you think Congress should do if President Obama goes through with this legalization?

How We Can Save Lives By Simply Changing the Debate

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In Heritage Work

Heritage Foundation expert James Carafano explains that autonomous military technology, commonly referred to as drones, has “the potential to increase U.S. effectiveness on the battlefield, while decreasing damage and loss of human life.”

While there has been controversy on this topic, Carafano tells us where the focus of the discussion should be:

Understanding the capabilities and limits of autonomous technology dispels fears of Terminator-like robots taking over the world and refocuses the discussion on the opportunities that these systems present, and the responsibility of lawmakers to set clear guidelines for their development.

He lists three steps Congress should take to enable drones and other autonomous military technologies to save lives:

  1. Insist that military developments be based on suitable, feasible, and morally acceptable mission requirements and realistic appreciation of the levels of technology available.
  2. Fund research and development of autonomous technology.
  3. Review the legislative framework for addressing the current and potential problems of autonomous technology.

Read his report here and tell us: How do you feel about autonomous military technology?

Here’s the One Thing That Will Lower Gas Prices, Create Jobs, and Boost the Economy

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In Heritage Work

Heritage Foundation expert Nicolas Loris explains how opening energy markets “would create more opportunities for Americans, promote economic prosperity at home and abroad, and improve political situations around the world.”

He specifically looks at natural resources including coal, natural gas, and oil.

He says:

Expanding market opportunities for energy exports will not just benefit energy companies. By opening the door to establishing more efficient global oil markets, all Americans will reap the benefits of lower prices, more jobs, and a stronger economy. Freely trading energy will not only increase prosperity around the world, but also bolster U.S. national security by diversifying supplies in the global market.

He suggests three policy solutions:

  1. Lift natural gas export barriers.
  2. Remove the crude oil export ban. 
  3. Prevent threats to coal exports

Read the Backgrounder and tell us: Do you think a free-market energy policy will benefit the United States economy?

How Taxes Limit American Opportunity

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In Heritage Work

taxes

High tax rates mean that only two thirds of the money you earn ends up in your pocket, Heritage Foundation chief economist Stephen Moore reports in the new Index of Culture and Opportunity:

Americans effectively work one day a week to pay federal taxes and the other four days to pay their bills and take care of their families. Taking into account state and local taxes, almost one in three dollars of a worker’s earnings go to the tax collector.

The government also imposes an “invisible tax of lost productivity and output” since “the federal tax code punishes saving, investment and business creation.”

And it will only get worse, according to Moore: “Tax burdens are likely to continue climbing if we do not rein in our rapidly growing debt. Without government spending reductions, taxes will likely rise.”

Be sure to read Heritage’s entire Index of Culture and Opportunity. The Index of Culture and Opportunity tracks key social and economic indicators to determine whether important indicators of opportunity in America are on the right track.

Does this crushing tax burden worry you?

Welfare Spending Is Up. This Has Real Consequences.

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In Heritage Work

welfareWelfare spending has significantly increased over the last decade, according to Heritage’s new Index of Culture and Opportunity.

This has real consequences, encouraging a culture of dependence. But the welfare reforms of the 1990s–guided by Heritage research–offer a way forward, New York University’s Lawrence Mead explains in the Index:

In light of welfare reform, the best hope to reaffirm a culture of achievement is to combine “help and hassle”: Assist the needy but also demand that they do more to help themselves. Recent education and training programs are increasingly telling their clients that they must meet accepted standards and go to work in available jobs. . .

By promoting work where possible, we can promote the self-reliant qualities needed to make marriage and family possible. Stronger workers can be stronger parents, able to prepare the next generation to flourish in a free society.

Be sure to read Heritage’s entire Index of Culture and Opportunity. The Index of Culture and Opportunity tracks key social and economic indicators to determine whether important indicators of opportunity in America are on the right track.

The Good News About the U.S. Abortion Rate

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In Heritage Work

abortion

The good news about the abortion rate in America is that it’s declining.

The most significant drop was from 2001 to 2011, reports Charles Donovan in Heritage’s new Index of Culture and Opportunity. “The overall direction of U.S. abortion practice is clear. A closer look at individual states that have consistent data confirms this trend,” he writes.

While the abortion rate is on the decline, there is more that needs to be done.

Be sure to read Heritage’s entire Index of Culture and Opportunity. The Index of Culture and Opportunity tracks key social and economic indicators to determine whether important indicators of opportunity in America are on the right track.

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