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Counterintuitive Thoughts on Healthcare Costs

Back in October, we released a paper on business costs in Massachusetts. One of the surprising conclusions was that our healthcare costs were not terribly out of line with our competitor states. This was a real surprise and ran counter to a lot of the anecdotal data floating around. A fascinating entry in WBUR’s Commonhealth series sheds some light on the discrepancy. If you measure by average premium (which we did), we are not that far out of whack. If you measure by some variation of healthcare’s share of the Massachusetts’ economy, then we are massively out of line. David Torchiana, of the Mass. General Physician’s Organization argues that the second measure includes NIH expenditures and the costs associated with […]

Thoughts on housing and Middle Cities

Housing is critical to the viability of Middle Cities, because housing development is the ticket to bringing a younger demographic and spending power back downtown—and therefore to fiscal solvency. These cities are built for and the leadership in these cities comfortable with high-density construction, especially if funding for school costs is available. Then why is there no 40R construction in these cities? The problem lies in the state requirement that all communities, notwithstanding the specific city or town’s attainment of the state’s 10 percent affordability threshold, deed restrict 20 percent of total 40R units to households earning no more than 80 percent of area median income (AMI). Most of these cities easily exceed the state’s affordability goals. Holyoke more than […]

I wholeheartedly agree. . .

. . . with Sally Dias, Vice President at Emmanuel College and member of a state task force assigned to examine why Black and Hispanic applicants lag behind white applicants on Massachusetts’ teacher licensing exams. She was quoted in today’s Boston Globe, “One test should really not be a determinant of someone’s career.” Ms. Dias is absolutely correct. It’s patently unfair to make teachers pass a licensing exam when no other profession is required to pass a similar test. I mean, doctors don’t have to. No, wait, they have to pass their boards. Okay, so they’re the exception. No, wait again, lawyers have to pass the bar exam. Okay, so two exceptions. Nurses? No, registered nurses have their board examinations. […]

OK, today’s sign of a cultural apocalypse

This one gleaned from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Friday Facts, which, though decidedly ideological, are often hysterical. It seems the American Council of Trustees and Alumni conducted a survey of 70 colleges, of which just 15 require their English majors – not their general student populations, mind you, but their English majors – to take at least one course on Shakespeare. Again, I have to ask, Shakespeare? Really? Not Dreiser, Booth Tarkington, Sinclair Lewis or Upton Sinclair (Yes, I have a thing against early 20th-century American realism), but Shakespeare, the apogee of Western Culture and the English language. Now, the literary canon needed to be broken open and made more inclusive, but please tell me there is a place, […]

Only 7 percent? Really?

According to today’s Springfield Republican, just 7% of American adults can name the first four Presidents in order. Not 17%. Not 70%. That’s right, 7%. And not all of the Presidents in order, just the first four, who among other things, drafted the Declaration of Independence, led a military campaign to insure that independence, drafted Massachusetts’ Constitution, which was one of the bases of the United States Constitution, and, finally, composed the Bill of Rights. Now, this has only tangentially to do with Pioneer’s current focus, but my predecessors at the Institute did, once upon a time, publish a report on the state of Civic Education in Massachusetts. Even if they hadn’t, can I just say: Washington, Adams, Jefferson and […]