Americans push their kids harder in sports than school

Mark Perry for AEIdeas: There’s a dichotomy and inconsistency among many of today’s American parents. Many parents aren’t afraid to push their children really hard when it comes to athletics and emphasize the connection between hard work and athletic achievement. Strict standards, scores, times, and rankings are accepted as necessary and accurate measures of athletic success.

Any type of cheating in sports is unacceptable to parents and coaches and would be met with strict consequences. Hard work, effort, and athletic success are more important to most parents than athletic self-esteem.

On the other hand, many of today’s parents in the U.S. don’t push their children very hard when it comes to academics, they don’t necessarily believe in the connection between effort and academic achievement, and don’t believe that academic success is within the reach of any student willing to work hard for it. Establishing and enforcing strict academic standards has given way to less challenging curricula that emphasize self-esteem and vague concepts like “social justice” over academic excellence.

Parents now complain to teachers and administrators if their children are disciplined for cheating and expect inflated grades and report-card mercy. Many high schools no longer have a valedictorian or have dozens of them, rendering the valedictorian distinction meaningless, all in the name of greater self-esteem. That diffusion and degradation of academic excellence would never be tolerated in sports, where there are still state champions, state rankings for sports teams, and state records for sports like track and swimming.

E-smoke’em if you got’em

Nicholas John for the R Street Institute: Historically, American tobacco control policy has been based on the premise that all tobacco products are hazardous and that none can offer personal or public health benefits. However, peer-reviewed research by the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Physicians has demonstrated that e-cigarettes are significantly safer than cigarettes, which continue to be both the most widely used and the most harmful tobacco products on the market.

That work by the Royal College of Physicians is particularly notable in light of the fact that it was that group, decades ago, who presented the first comprehensive study on the negative health impact of cigarette use.

More recently, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb echoed similar sentiments in a recent Washington Post interview. Gottlieb noted that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a known addictive substance, but the real threat to humans is the carcinogens produced when tobacco is combusted. Electronic nicotine delivery systems, or “ENDS,” provide a safer alternative for adults who still want access to nicotine but avoid that mass of carcinogens.

Beware raising interest rates too soon

Josh Bivens, Dean Baker, and Michael Madowitz for the Economic Policy Institute: This month, workers who supported Trump may see another betrayal. It has been reported that Trump may pick Kevin Warsh, who married into a billionaire family, to replace Janet Yellen as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Decisions made by the board are extraordinarily important for American workers. In recent years, pressure has built for the Fed to begin applying the brake to America’s economic recovery by raising interest rates. The rationale for this is that the Fed must slow growth to tamp down inflationary pressures. Warsh has consistently been on the side advocating for slowing growth to fight inflation. But these inflationary pressures appear nowhere in either wage or price data. And if the Fed hits the brake prematurely, millions of Americans could lose opportunities to work, and tens of millions could see smaller wage increases.

One underappreciated aspect of raising interest rates is that they will put upward pressure on the value of the U.S. dollar, and this stronger dollar will make U.S. exports less competitive on world markets while making foreign imports cheaper for American consumers. This in turn will lead to rising trade deficits that stunt growth in manufacturing employment. Warsh knows about this argument, but he just doesn’t really care…

This blithe waving away of clear evidence that a rising dollar will lead to larger trade deficits and displace American manufacturing jobs is par for the course when it comes to Warsh’s views of globalization. He is an ardent proponent of trade agreements that expose American workers to fierce global competition but provide even greater protection for corporate profits, protections that come at the expense of policymaking autonomy and Democratic accountability in the poorer trading partners of the United States. As a Fed governor, he proclaimed that the Fed had a role in weighing in to support trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, departing from the general view that the Fed should restrict its scope to issues directly related to the conduct of monetary policy.

Compiled by Joseph Lawler from reports published by the various think tanks.

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