This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
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Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

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Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Don’t Like the Politics? Change the Voters Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, January 08 2015
After all, one simply cannot comprehend the logic of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution without coming to an understanding of the fear with which the Founding Fathers regarded an unconstrained government.

Conservatives surveying all the damage that has been done by the Obama years — and considering the fact that the American people re-upped the president’s contract in 2012 — might be tempted to adopt the same attitude as Bertolt Brecht, the Marxist playwright from East Germany. When Brecht noticed the public losing faith in the government, he quipped that it would better to dissolve the people and appoint another one.

That kind of despair isn’t uncommon to hear from those on the right these days. Yet rather than succumbing to grief, conservatives should take heart. As it turns out, we do get to appoint a “new people” every so often. They’re called children. And soon enough they’ll be called voters.

One of the biggest mistakes that analysts of American politics make is assuming that the country will always remain on an unbroken trajectory. You can see that in the exultant claims of Republicans during the Bush years that the GOP was on the verge of an enduring majority — and the equal but opposite triumphalism that Democrats couldn’t contain during the early years of Barack Obama’s tenure. Those short-term fluctuations, however, pale in comparison to the kind of sea changes that can accompany generational churn.

So how does one attempt to ensure that future generations will take the country’s founding principles more seriously than the current electorate, one that seems indifferent to the limitations placed on the state by the Constitution? Well, in Tennessee they have an idea.

Under legislation being advanced by Gerald McCormick, the Volunteer State’s House Majority Leader and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, any student wishing to receive a high school diploma would have to first achieve a passing score (60 out of 100 questions correct) on a civics exam. The questions would be the same as those that appear on the test to become an American citizen.

Now, lord knows that we already have more than enough testing requirements placed on American high school students, many of which are incompatible with anything like real education. This is the rare occasion, however, when a universally applied standard really does make sense.

In the modern era, the project of public education has been increasingly debased, seen as little more than an effort to give children the bare minimum of skills necessary to shuffle them into the workforce. In the process, we’ve lost sight of one of the other values that was traditionally at the heart of the schooling process: preparing children for effective citizenship in a free society. What better way to rehabilitate that standard than by ensuring that a high school graduate can meet the same basic threshold of civic literacy as a newly naturalized immigrant?

There’s no guarantee that a teenager who’s gone through civics boot camp is going to be a materially different voter than one who hasn’t. But it’s difficult to imagine that there wouldn’t be some kind of effect. After all, one simply cannot comprehend the logic of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution without coming to an understanding of the fear with which the Founding Fathers regarded an unconstrained government. That’s likely to make any voter think twice before turning over more power to the state, regardless of which party he belongs to.

America’s civic traditions are durable, but they cannot be preserved without sustained, devoted effort. In recent years, we’ve seen a dramatic decline in even the most basic knowledge about the country’s history and founding principles. In 2008, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute administered a 33-question test on basic American civics to over 2,500 randomly selected citizens. The result: 71 percent of respondents failed. The average score: 49 percent.

Perhaps if the Founders had been given more credence all along, we wouldn’t be in this position in the first place. After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was & never will be.” That’s as true today as it was in Jefferson’s time. Tennessee gets it right if it passes the McCormick/Norris legislation.

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"In nominating Barrett to the Supreme Court, [President Trump] kept his promise by choosing an undaunted originalist -- someone who interprets the Constitution based on the understanding held by its ratifiers.Trump's most profound effect on the Constitution will come when she and the other Trump Justices apply that originalism to the questions of liberty and equality."Read entire article here.…[more]
 
 
—John C. Yoo, Heller Professor Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law
— John C. Yoo, Heller Professor Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law
 
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