Make Pandemic-Related Occupational License Reform Permanent

Whatever trail of wreckage to life, to social norms, and to our civil and economic liberty that COVID-19 ultimately leaves in its wake, there’s one potential casualty that many of us would like to see. If the virus were to severely weaken or, better yet, kill occupational licensing, that would be a rare victim of the pandemic that would make life better for us all.

So far, the crisis has inspired at least some suspension of barriers to the movement of doctors and nurses across state lines. That’s just the beginning of what should become permanent changes.

On March 13, in response to COVID-19 spread in the U.S., Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar waived several rules under the Social Security Act, including one that allowed compensation by federally funded programs of physicians and other providers only if they “hold licenses in the State in which they provide services.” Now, providers must only “have an equivalent license from another State.”

At roughly the same time, officials in states including Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington loosened or lifted some licensing requirements. The degree of leeway varied; some were ready to fully recognize out-of-state licenses, just the way they treat driver’s licenses from elsewhere, while Florida required that “such services be rendered to such persons free of charge” and Massachusetts just expedited licensing procedures.

In all cases, the extra leeway acknowledged that state licensing requirements aren’t exactly vital bulwarks against some imaginary mayhem that would otherwise be committed by Cousin Bob’s long-time primary care doc on the other side of the state line. Instead, such red tape places huge hurdles in the way of allowing perfectly competent providers to cross the border to treat patients.

How big a hurdle?

“The between-state migration rate for individuals in occupations with state-specific licensing exam requirements is 36 percent lower relative to members of other occupations,” reported a 2017 paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “Based on our results, we estimate that the rise in occupational licensing can explain part of the documented decline in interstate migration and job transitions in the United States.”

That hobbling of Americans was troubling in normal times when licensing requirements made it difficult and expensive for people to move in search of new opportunity. It’s deadly when it prevents doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals from crossing lines on maps to treat afflicted patients in places that have a shortage of trained personnel.

Among those places is hard-hit New York, which begged for medical volunteers to treat COVID-19 patients. By April 4, the state government boasted that 22,000 such professionals from out of state had heeded the call.

Normally, those volunteers would have been required to seek government approval through an expensive and time-consuming bureaucratic process before helping patients. To ease their way, the state suspended its normal licensing requirements to allow those “licensed and in current good standing in any state in the United States to practice medicine in New York State without civil or criminal penalty related to lack of licensure.”

But what happens when the pandemic passes? If these professionals are good enough to treat people in their own states, and in other states during a crisis, why shouldn’t they continue to be free to see willing patients? At the very least, say many economists, reciprocitystates recognizing each other’s occupational licensesshould be a permanent feature of post-pandemic America.

“We will learn many lessons as a result of this period in history,” says Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow for Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. “Hopefully one of them will be the benefits a reduction in the barriers that occupational licensing policies create—not just today in the fight against the coronavirus, but in the future as a means to increase human well-being.”

Slivinski is the author of a widely cited 2015 study of occupational licensing that focused on the damage that requiring people to seek government permission to work does to those at the lower end of the income spectrum. As he noted then, “the higher the rate of licensure of low-income occupations, the lower the rate of low-income entrepreneurship.” Imposing licenses was like cutting the bottom rung off the economic ladder, denying people employment or driving them to the shadow economy.

The ASU scholar’s work helped to inspire both the Obama and Trump administrations to seek not just licensing reciprocity, but to roll back licensing requirements in their entirety for many jobs.

“Licensing an occupation means that work in that occupation is only available to those with the time and means to fulfill licensing requirements,” pointed out an Obama-era report calling for licensing reform.

“The cost and complexity of licensing creates an economic barrier for Americans seeking a job, especially for those with fewer financial resources,” warned then-U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in 2017. “Excessive licensing creates a barrier for Americans that move from state to state.”

Acosta’s second point features in the current push to temporarily loosen and suspend licensing requirements for doctors and nurses so that they can treat COVID-19 patients in the states where the outbreak is at its worst, and not just whatever states issued them pieces of official paper. But concerns about complexity, cost, and the barriers they raise to entry should also be considered as we decide what to do with an occupational licensing structure that has grown to ensnare one-quarter of American workers, up from 5 percent in the 1950s.

After all, if life becomes better for us all when we let medical professionals work where they want to work, why shouldn’t we extend the same courtesy to barbers, massage therapists, carpenters, and florists, among others?

And, quite likely, license reciprocity among states isn’t enough. Many experts recommend independent reviews and voluntary certification as proven alternatives to occupational licensing.

“Voluntary certification through professional associations can benefit practitioners by enabling them to distinguish themselves, while consumers remain free to choose among all providers and decide for themselves how much value to place on such credentials,” notes the Institute for Justice.

“Where politically feasible, certain occupations that are licensed would be reclassified to a system of certification or no regulation,” recommends the Brookings Institution. “If federal, state, and local governments were to undertake these proposals, evidence suggests that employment in these regulated occupations would grow, consumer access to goods and services would expand, and prices would fall.”

Even government officials inclined to impose more control rather than less concede that more pandemic patients get better care when medical professionals are free to work where they’re needed. The same will undoubtedly be true of regular patients after COVID-19 has left our lives. And if that’s true of doctors, it’s almost certainly true of the rest of us.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/3e8M9T8
via IFTTT

Make Pandemic-Related Occupational License Reform Permanent

Whatever trail of wreckage to life, to social norms, and to our civil and economic liberty that COVID-19 ultimately leaves in its wake, there’s one potential casualty that many of us would like to see. If the virus were to severely weaken or, better yet, kill occupational licensing, that would be a rare victim of the pandemic that would make life better for us all.

So far, the crisis has inspired at least some suspension of barriers to the movement of doctors and nurses across state lines. That’s just the beginning of what should become permanent changes.

On March 13, in response to COVID-19 spread in the U.S., Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar waived several rules under the Social Security Act, including one that allowed compensation by federally funded programs of physicians and other providers only if they “hold licenses in the State in which they provide services.” Now, providers must only “have an equivalent license from another State.”

At roughly the same time, officials in states including Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington loosened or lifted some licensing requirements. The degree of leeway varied; some were ready to fully recognize out-of-state licenses, just the way they treat driver’s licenses from elsewhere, while Florida required that “such services be rendered to such persons free of charge” and Massachusetts just expedited licensing procedures.

In all cases, the extra leeway acknowledged that state licensing requirements aren’t exactly vital bulwarks against some imaginary mayhem that would otherwise be committed by Cousin Bob’s long-time primary care doc on the other side of the state line. Instead, such red tape places huge hurdles in the way of allowing perfectly competent providers to cross the border to treat patients.

How big a hurdle?

“The between-state migration rate for individuals in occupations with state-specific licensing exam requirements is 36 percent lower relative to members of other occupations,” reported a 2017 paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “Based on our results, we estimate that the rise in occupational licensing can explain part of the documented decline in interstate migration and job transitions in the United States.”

That hobbling of Americans was troubling in normal times when licensing requirements made it difficult and expensive for people to move in search of new opportunity. It’s deadly when it prevents doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals from crossing lines on maps to treat afflicted patients in places that have a shortage of trained personnel.

Among those places is hard-hit New York, which begged for medical volunteers to treat COVID-19 patients. By April 4, the state government boasted that 22,000 such professionals from out of state had heeded the call.

Normally, those volunteers would have been required to seek government approval through an expensive and time-consuming bureaucratic process before helping patients. To ease their way, the state suspended its normal licensing requirements to allow those “licensed and in current good standing in any state in the United States to practice medicine in New York State without civil or criminal penalty related to lack of licensure.”

But what happens when the pandemic passes? If these professionals are good enough to treat people in their own states, and in other states during a crisis, why shouldn’t they continue to be free to see willing patients? At the very least, say many economists, reciprocitystates recognizing each other’s occupational licensesshould be a permanent feature of post-pandemic America.

“We will learn many lessons as a result of this period in history,” says Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow for Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. “Hopefully one of them will be the benefits a reduction in the barriers that occupational licensing policies create—not just today in the fight against the coronavirus, but in the future as a means to increase human well-being.”

Slivinski is the author of a widely cited 2015 study of occupational licensing that focused on the damage that requiring people to seek government permission to work does to those at the lower end of the income spectrum. As he noted then, “the higher the rate of licensure of low-income occupations, the lower the rate of low-income entrepreneurship.” Imposing licenses was like cutting the bottom rung off the economic ladder, denying people employment or driving them to the shadow economy.

The ASU scholar’s work helped to inspire both the Obama and Trump administrations to seek not just licensing reciprocity, but to roll back licensing requirements in their entirety for many jobs.

“Licensing an occupation means that work in that occupation is only available to those with the time and means to fulfill licensing requirements,” pointed out an Obama-era report calling for licensing reform.

“The cost and complexity of licensing creates an economic barrier for Americans seeking a job, especially for those with fewer financial resources,” warned then-U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in 2017. “Excessive licensing creates a barrier for Americans that move from state to state.”

Acosta’s second point features in the current push to temporarily loosen and suspend licensing requirements for doctors and nurses so that they can treat COVID-19 patients in the states where the outbreak is at its worst, and not just whatever states issued them pieces of official paper. But concerns about complexity, cost, and the barriers they raise to entry should also be considered as we decide what to do with an occupational licensing structure that has grown to ensnare one-quarter of American workers, up from 5 percent in the 1950s.

After all, if life becomes better for us all when we let medical professionals work where they want to work, why shouldn’t we extend the same courtesy to barbers, massage therapists, carpenters, and florists, among others?

And, quite likely, license reciprocity among states isn’t enough. Many experts recommend independent reviews and voluntary certification as proven alternatives to occupational licensing.

“Voluntary certification through professional associations can benefit practitioners by enabling them to distinguish themselves, while consumers remain free to choose among all providers and decide for themselves how much value to place on such credentials,” notes the Institute for Justice.

“Where politically feasible, certain occupations that are licensed would be reclassified to a system of certification or no regulation,” recommends the Brookings Institution. “If federal, state, and local governments were to undertake these proposals, evidence suggests that employment in these regulated occupations would grow, consumer access to goods and services would expand, and prices would fall.”

Even government officials inclined to impose more control rather than less concede that more pandemic patients get better care when medical professionals are free to work where they’re needed. The same will undoubtedly be true of regular patients after COVID-19 has left our lives. And if that’s true of doctors, it’s almost certainly true of the rest of us.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/3e8M9T8
via IFTTT

COVID-19 Patients and Their Families Are Being Put on Police-Enforced Lockdown

How should governments in the U.S. handle COVID-19 patients, their families, and those with whom they’ve recently interacted? How about potential patients unable to get tested or awaiting test results?

In countries that have quickly and effectively slowed the spread of the new coronavirus, authorities have subjected residents to what many Americans would deem extreme and invasive “test and trace” measures. Some are opt-in, like Singapore’s TraceTogether app. In South Korea, officials rely on tracking methods citizens can’t opt out of, such as cell phone location data and electronic purchases. Meanwhile, China requires everyone to download an app that displays a color-coded contagion risk level.

These places tend to be pretty upfront about freedom and security trade-offs. In the U.S., however, authorities often pay lip service to liberty and avoid more moderate safety measures while simultaneously making brave new forays into violating people’s privacy and civil rights.

In Kentucky, people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and those merely suspected to be ill have been told not to leave their homes, even with precautions, for 14 days. Sound advice. But in practice, some people live alone and need food (and there are ways to get it, outside the home, without contacting another person). Some people may live in a remote area where walks won’t endanger anyone. And so on. Nonetheless, patients and those they live with who leave home for any reason face judge-mandated isolation orders and a GPS ankle monitor in some parts of the Bluegrass State.

In Jefferson County, home to Louisville, health administrators have requested court orders and ankle monitors for at least four people. The first monitor went to a 66-year-old man who left his home after being diagnosed but before receiving a court order to stay at home. After that, two people who lived together got the same treatment even though only one had been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. One was ordered confined after taking a walk, the Courier-Journal reported, and the other because “based on a phone call, [they were] thought to be out of the house.”

It appears that in Louisville, COVID-19 patients and their family members are being closely tracked even before being given an explicit order to stay in.

A fourth Louisville residentalso not diagnosed with COVID-19 but merely living with someone who had beengot a court-ordered GPS tracking monitor last week.

In Abilene, Texas, city leaders came close to requiring an Abilene Christian University professor to wear an ankle monitor while he was awaiting a COVID-19 test result. City Manager Robert Hanna said at a press conference that this had in fact happened, then later said otherwise.

In some places, and likely more soon, health authorities are giving the addresses of all people diagnosed with COVID-19 to 911 dispatchers, to be shared with cops, firefighters, and emergency responders should any be called to a coronavirus patient’s address.

In Northern Kentucky, dispatchers have been instructed to give police “a heads up if they are headed out to talk with a person at an address where a confirmed COVID-19 patient lives,” the Cincinnati Enquirer noted on March 27.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order last week saying his state can share COVID-19 patient addresses with medics and law enforcement, despite it normally being barred by medical privacy law.

Massachusetts has been doing this statewide since the second week of March; Alabama since March 23.

Police unions in Minnesota, Illinois, and New Jersey are now pushing for the same disclosures.

At first blush, the rationalepolice need protection from a contagious diseasemakes sense. But this could be said about so many diseases, which is why police and medics already take precautions. And with huge numbers of COVID-19 patients being asymptomatic or taking days or weeks to develop symptoms, police officers should currently be taking extra precautions around everyone, anyway.

Montgomery County, Ohio, Sheriff Rob Streck, whose department is not seeking addresses of COVID-19 patients, told reporters, “We’ve been dealing with people who have had infectious diseases for years that we haven’t known about because of confidentiality rules.”

Providing police with patient addresses risks extrajudicial surveillance and harassment and patient identities getting out in the wider community.

Yet many folks would like to see some patient info made even more widely available.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has been taking heat from local media and health officials for not requiring the release of city- and town-specific demographic data on COVID-19 patientssomething that could amount to doxxing patients in smaller areas. Other state leaders aren’t as cautious. Georgia, for instance, keeps an online list of the age, sex, and county of every COVID-19 patient who has died.

COVID-19 patients and those they live with aren’t the only ones facing privacy-invading police hoopla right now, of course. A lot of locales are instituting coronavirus curfews, even though these make little sense beyond security theater: The virus isn’t less likely to spread during daytime hours; all a curfew does is ensure everyone has less time and space in which to do socially-distanced exercise and essential errands. (Well, that and giving authorities another excuse to harass residents who do have to leave their homes at night.)

In New Orleans’ Acadia Parish, authorities recently announced that anyone outside between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. will have to present a permission slip from their employer or else be given a citation. To alert citizens it’s time to get inside, police in the Louisiana city of Crowley played the siren from the movie “The Purge” that signals murder and mayhem are legal all night. (They have since apologized.)

So far, we’re not hearing too many stories of police overreach on curfews and stay-at-home orders. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to get voluntary compliance, and most of us are trying to approach it that way,” Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, recently told USA Today.

Like Acevedo, police units across the country claim to be focusing right now on education, not enforcement. But right now should be cause for concern. The shelf life on this goodwill approach will likely fade as quarantines, business shutdowns, and other aspects of our new outbreak reality drag on.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told USA Today that while “the best outcome is to get people to voluntarily comply… we’re just on the front end of this thing. I fear the public’s patience is going to be stretched as time goes on.”

And so will the patience of police who keep seeing colleagues fall ill and die from COVID-19.

To the extent that cops are likely to take this out on COVID-19 patients and curfew violators in their communities, their ire will be misplaced. If police can’t get the personal protective equipment they need, then their own departments and governments are to blame, not sick or similarly stressed community members also harmed by government missteps. It’s certainly not COVID-19 patients who are requiring cops to risk their health by handing out parking tickets and policing minor crimes.

If we want to avoid sick cops, community spread, and more police overreach and abuse, we should be thinking about how to create social distancing between police officers and their communities.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2JO8Q10
via IFTTT

COVID-19 Patients and Their Families Are Being Put on Police-Enforced Lockdown

How should governments in the U.S. handle COVID-19 patients, their families, and those with whom they’ve recently interacted? How about potential patients unable to get tested or awaiting test results?

In countries that have quickly and effectively slowed the spread of the new coronavirus, authorities have subjected residents to what many Americans would deem extreme and invasive “test and trace” measures. Some are opt-in, like Singapore’s TraceTogether app. In South Korea, officials rely on tracking methods citizens can’t opt out of, such as cell phone location data and electronic purchases. Meanwhile, China requires everyone to download an app that displays a color-coded contagion risk level.

These places tend to be pretty upfront about freedom and security trade-offs. In the U.S., however, authorities often pay lip service to liberty and avoid more moderate safety measures while simultaneously making brave new forays into violating people’s privacy and civil rights.

In Kentucky, people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and those merely suspected to be ill have been told not to leave their homes, even with precautions, for 14 days. Sound advice. But in practice, some people live alone and need food (and there are ways to get it, outside the home, without contacting another person). Some people may live in a remote area where walks won’t endanger anyone. And so on. Nonetheless, patients and those they live with who leave home for any reason face judge-mandated isolation orders and a GPS ankle monitor in some parts of the Bluegrass State.

In Jefferson County, home to Louisville, health administrators have requested court orders and ankle monitors for at least four people. The first monitor went to a 66-year-old man who left his home after being diagnosed but before receiving a court order to stay at home. After that, two people who lived together got the same treatment even though only one had been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. One was ordered confined after taking a walk, the Courier-Journal reported, and the other because “based on a phone call, [they were] thought to be out of the house.”

It appears that in Louisville, COVID-19 patients and their family members are being closely tracked even before being given an explicit order to stay in.

A fourth Louisville residentalso not diagnosed with COVID-19 but merely living with someone who had beengot a court-ordered GPS tracking monitor last week.

In Abilene, Texas, city leaders came close to requiring an Abilene Christian University professor to wear an ankle monitor while he was awaiting a COVID-19 test result. City Manager Robert Hanna said at a press conference that this had in fact happened, then later said otherwise.

In some places, and likely more soon, health authorities are giving the addresses of all people diagnosed with COVID-19 to 911 dispatchers, to be shared with cops, firefighters, and emergency responders should any be called to a coronavirus patient’s address.

In Northern Kentucky, dispatchers have been instructed to give police “a heads up if they are headed out to talk with a person at an address where a confirmed COVID-19 patient lives,” the Cincinnati Enquirer noted on March 27.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order last week saying his state can share COVID-19 patient addresses with medics and law enforcement, despite it normally being barred by medical privacy law.

Massachusetts has been doing this statewide since the second week of March; Alabama since March 23.

Police unions in Minnesota, Illinois, and New Jersey are now pushing for the same disclosures.

At first blush, the rationalepolice need protection from a contagious diseasemakes sense. But this could be said about so many diseases, which is why police and medics already take precautions. And with huge numbers of COVID-19 patients being asymptomatic or taking days or weeks to develop symptoms, police officers should currently be taking extra precautions around everyone, anyway.

Montgomery County, Ohio, Sheriff Rob Streck, whose department is not seeking addresses of COVID-19 patients, told reporters, “We’ve been dealing with people who have had infectious diseases for years that we haven’t known about because of confidentiality rules.”

Providing police with patient addresses risks extrajudicial surveillance and harassment and patient identities getting out in the wider community.

Yet many folks would like to see some patient info made even more widely available.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has been taking heat from local media and health officials for not requiring the release of city- and town-specific demographic data on COVID-19 patientssomething that could amount to doxxing patients in smaller areas. Other state leaders aren’t as cautious. Georgia, for instance, keeps an online list of the age, sex, and county of every COVID-19 patient who has died.

COVID-19 patients and those they live with aren’t the only ones facing privacy-invading police hoopla right now, of course. A lot of locales are instituting coronavirus curfews, even though these make little sense beyond security theater: The virus isn’t less likely to spread during daytime hours; all a curfew does is ensure everyone has less time and space in which to do socially-distanced exercise and essential errands. (Well, that and giving authorities another excuse to harass residents who do have to leave their homes at night.)

In New Orleans’ Acadia Parish, authorities recently announced that anyone outside between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. will have to present a permission slip from their employer or else be given a citation. To alert citizens it’s time to get inside, police in the Louisiana city of Crowley played the siren from the movie “The Purge” that signals murder and mayhem are legal all night. (They have since apologized.)

So far, we’re not hearing too many stories of police overreach on curfews and stay-at-home orders. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to get voluntary compliance, and most of us are trying to approach it that way,” Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, recently told USA Today.

Like Acevedo, police units across the country claim to be focusing right now on education, not enforcement. But right now should be cause for concern. The shelf life on this goodwill approach will likely fade as quarantines, business shutdowns, and other aspects of our new outbreak reality drag on.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told USA Today that while “the best outcome is to get people to voluntarily comply… we’re just on the front end of this thing. I fear the public’s patience is going to be stretched as time goes on.”

And so will the patience of police who keep seeing colleagues fall ill and die from COVID-19.

To the extent that cops are likely to take this out on COVID-19 patients and curfew violators in their communities, their ire will be misplaced. If police can’t get the personal protective equipment they need, then their own departments and governments are to blame, not sick or similarly stressed community members also harmed by government missteps. It’s certainly not COVID-19 patients who are requiring cops to risk their health by handing out parking tickets and policing minor crimes.

If we want to avoid sick cops, community spread, and more police overreach and abuse, we should be thinking about how to create social distancing between police officers and their communities.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2JO8Q10
via IFTTT

“Have a Taste of Wuhan! Let These Mouth-Watering Specialties in Wuhan Satisfy Your Stomach”

Apparently a real (though now deleted) Tweet from the People’s Daily—the official Chinese Communist Party paper—according to Newsweek (David Brennan):

As a foodie—and someone who loves Chinese food, including various subcuisines (such as Chinese Islamic)—I would be delighted to try some Wuhanese cuisine, of the right sort, in years to come. It’s just that right now it seems less appetizing than I’m sure it one day will ….

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2Rnu1v6
via IFTTT

“Have a Taste of Wuhan! Let These Mouth-Watering Specialties in Wuhan Satisfy Your Stomach”

Apparently a real (though now deleted) Tweet from the People’s Daily—the official Chinese Communist Party paper—according to Newsweek (David Brennan):

As a foodie—and someone who loves Chinese food, including various subcuisines (such as Chinese Islamic)—I would be delighted to try some Wuhanese cuisine, of the right sort, in years to come. It’s just that right now it seems less appetizing than I’m sure it one day will ….

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2Rnu1v6
via IFTTT

Bernie Sanders Suspends His Presidential Campaign

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) has ended his presidential campaign, clearing the final hurdle for former Vice President Joe Biden to secure the Democratic nomination.

“I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth,” Sanders said in a livestreamed address to supporters Wednesday morning. “I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful, and so, today, I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.”

Sanders said he would have continued his campaign if there was a “feasible path” to the nomination, but that path does not exist. He congratulated Joe Biden as “an honorable man” and promised to work with him toward defeating President Donald Trump.

Sanders said he will remain on the ballot in remaining states and will continue accumulating delegates in the hopes of having greater influence over the internal party deliberations at the Democratic National Convention.

As recently as the morning of March 3, Sanders appeared to be the front-runner for the nomination after having won (or narrowly lost) the first few contests in the nominating process. But Biden turned a strong showing in South Carolina’s February 29 primary into a national cascade on Super Tuesday that lifted him into first place and considerably narrowed Sanders’ prospective path to victory. A week later, Biden swept a slate of four primaries and cemented his lead.

It was a stunning reversal of fortune in the span of just a few days—a reversal that was aided by several other Democratic candidates dropping out of the race and by Sanders himself, who chose the week before Super Tuesday to offer a bizarre defense of Cuba’s communist regime.

But the real problem for Sanders during this election cycle was not his pie-in-the-sky economics or his history of praising communist dictators. It was the fact that he wasn’t running against Hillary Clinton.

Sanders entered the 2020 race promising to build upon the large coalition he’d built during his surprisingly strong upset bid against Clinton in 2016. But the self-described democratic socialist found voters less enthusiastic about his promised political revolution this time around. By the end of March, it was obvious that Sanders was underperforming his 2016 marks. The true believers were still with him, but the sizable anti-Clinton vote that had inflated his support four years ago was now absent.

Sanders’ decision to drop out of the race solves at least a few headaches for the Democratic Party. Several states have postponed primary elections in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and while those elections will still have to take place at some point, they can be scheduled without one eye toward the presidential race. It also precludes the possibility of a brokered convention—something that once seemed possible, or even likely—whenever the Democratic National Committee meets to officially decide the nominee (the convention has already been postponed from July until August).

Still, Sanders’ defeat in 2020 (and 2016) has undoubtedly had an effect on the Democratic Party. As he pointed out in his address on Wednesday, the 78-year-old Sanders has done remarkably well with younger voters during both his presidential campaigns.

“In other words, the future of this country is with our ideas,” Sanders said Wednesday.

In a statement, Biden praised Sanders for having “changed the dialogue in America” and credited Sanders for having put his “heart and soul” into the campaign.

“While the Sanders campaign has been suspended, its impact on this election and on elections to come is far from over,” Biden said. Coming from a figure who has always been a reliable indicator of where the party’s center falls, Biden’s assessment is a telling one.

If the arc of the Democratic Party continues to bend toward the left, Sanders may be remembered as something of a Moses figure for the next generation of the party. He’s led blue America to the edge of democratic socialism. But in 2020, at least, Democratic voters looked over and rejected what they saw.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2VebRgp
via IFTTT

Bernie Sanders Suspends His Presidential Campaign

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) has ended his presidential campaign, clearing the final hurdle for former Vice President Joe Biden to secure the Democratic nomination.

“I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth,” Sanders said in a livestreamed address to supporters Wednesday morning. “I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful, and so, today, I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.”

Sanders said he would have continued his campaign if there was a “feasible path” to the nomination, but that path does not exist. He congratulated Joe Biden as “an honorable man” and promised to work with him toward defeating President Donald Trump.

Sanders said he will remain on the ballot in remaining states and will continue accumulating delegates in the hopes of having greater influence over the internal party deliberations at the Democratic National Convention.

As recently as the morning of March 3, Sanders appeared to be the front-runner for the nomination after having won (or narrowly lost) the first few contests in the nominating process. But Biden turned a strong showing in South Carolina’s February 29 primary into a national cascade on Super Tuesday that lifted him into first place and considerably narrowed Sanders’ prospective path to victory. A week later, Biden swept a slate of four primaries and cemented his lead.

It was a stunning reversal of fortune in the span of just a few days—a reversal that was aided by several other Democratic candidates dropping out of the race and by Sanders himself, who chose the week before Super Tuesday to offer a bizarre defense of Cuba’s communist regime.

But the real problem for Sanders during this election cycle was not his pie-in-the-sky economics or his history of praising communist dictators. It was the fact that he wasn’t running against Hillary Clinton.

Sanders entered the 2020 race promising to build upon the large coalition he’d built during his surprisingly strong upset bid against Clinton in 2016. But the self-described democratic socialist found voters less enthusiastic about his promised political revolution this time around. By the end of March, it was obvious that Sanders was underperforming his 2016 marks. The true believers were still with him, but the sizable anti-Clinton vote that had inflated his support four years ago was now absent.

Sanders’ decision to drop out of the race solves at least a few headaches for the Democratic Party. Several states have postponed primary elections in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and while those elections will still have to take place at some point, they can be scheduled without one eye toward the presidential race. It also precludes the possibility of a brokered convention—something that once seemed possible, or even likely—whenever the Democratic National Committee meets to officially decide the nominee (the convention has already been postponed from July until August).

Still, Sanders’ defeat in 2020 (and 2016) has undoubtedly had an effect on the Democratic Party. As he pointed out in his address on Wednesday, the 78-year-old Sanders has done remarkably well with younger voters during both his presidential campaigns.

“In other words, the future of this country is with our ideas,” Sanders said Wednesday.

In a statement, Biden praised Sanders for having “changed the dialogue in America” and credited Sanders for having put his “heart and soul” into the campaign.

“While the Sanders campaign has been suspended, its impact on this election and on elections to come is far from over,” Biden said. Coming from a figure who has always been a reliable indicator of where the party’s center falls, Biden’s assessment is a telling one.

If the arc of the Democratic Party continues to bend toward the left, Sanders may be remembered as something of a Moses figure for the next generation of the party. He’s led blue America to the edge of democratic socialism. But in 2020, at least, Democratic voters looked over and rejected what they saw.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2VebRgp
via IFTTT

Charlotte Figi, Who Showed Americans the Value of Medical Marijuana, Dies of COVID-19 at Age 13

A young girl whose lifelong battle with seizures helped changed many minds about the value of medical marijuana died Tuesday from the coronavirus at the age of 13.

News of Charlotte Figi’s death was posted on her mother Paige’s Facebook page by a family friend. In late March, five members of the Figi family, including Charlotte, got sick and were self-quarantining in Colorado. The Colorado Sun reports that the family had not been able to get tested to determine whether they had been infected with COVID-19. But an organization that Paige belonged to confirmed today that Charlotte’s death was due to the coronavirus:

This is Nichole writing to update you for Paige, Greg and Matt. Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love. Please respect their privacy at this time.

Posted by Paige Figi on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Charlotte spent much of her life fighting Dravet syndrome, a very rare form of epilepsy that causes children to suffer from long, recurring seizures and resists most medical treatment. About 15 percent of children with Dravet syndrome don’t survive to adulthood.

Charlotte’s fight to control her seizures became a national story when the family reported that treating Charlotte with cannabidiol oil, more commonly known as CBD, dramatically reduced her seizures. Paige connected Charlotte with medical marijuana producers in Colorado, run by the Stanley brothers, and they developed a strain of cannabis with high levels of CBD, which they made into an oil. That medical marijuana dispensary subsequently named their strain (and later, their whole company) Charlotte’s Web after her.

The success of Charlotte’s treatment drew families from across the country to Colorado from other states where leaders were dragging their feet on legalizing medical marijuana use. While Charlotte’s story was known both to those who followed medical marijuana trends and to families with children struggling with epilepsy, her story became national news in 2013 when CNN reported on her case and the network’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, reversed his position and declared his support for marijuana as a medical treatment because of Charlotte.

When Charlotte was born, only a handful of states permitted the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Now in 2020, only three states maintain complete bans—Idaho, South Dakota, and Nebraska. And there’s a ballot initiative in Nebraska for consideration in November to amend the state’s constitution to permit it.

Paige Figi founded the nonprofit Coalition for Access Now, which works to educate Americans about the value of marijuana and CBD oils as a potential treatment for health problems and advocates for changes in the law to allow for legal consumption.

While legal changes are still a fight, especially on the federal level, it’s safe to say that the Figi family and Charlotte have succeeded wildly in helping change Americans’ view of the value of CBD oils. Now, CBD goods have become trendy—maybe a little too trendy, given those who want to attempt to treat it as a miracle cure for just about anything. The Food and Drug Administration is sending out letters warning CBD companies to stop telling people that their products will protect users from COVID-19. And state governments persist in meddling unnecessarily in the use of CBD in foods and beverages.

It’s a tragedy that Charlotte didn’t make it to adulthood to fully appreciate how much the Figi family’s hard work has helped change the landscape for marijuana policy. More children in Charlotte’s situation now have easier access to treatments that can ease their suffering. More research is happening, too, to determine what cannabis can actually do as medicine.

America is a different place now—and a much, much better one when it comes to drug policy—because of the pivotal role played by Charlotte Figi and her family.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/34mWmHk
via IFTTT

Charlotte Figi, Who Showed Americans the Value of Medical Marijuana, Dies of COVID-19 at Age 13

A young girl whose lifelong battle with seizures helped changed many minds about the value of medical marijuana died Tuesday from the coronavirus at the age of 13.

News of Charlotte Figi’s death was posted on her mother Paige’s Facebook page by a family friend. In late March, five members of the Figi family, including Charlotte, got sick and were self-quarantining in Colorado. The Colorado Sun reports that the family had not been able to get tested to determine whether they had been infected with COVID-19. But an organization that Paige belonged to confirmed today that Charlotte’s death was due to the coronavirus:

This is Nichole writing to update you for Paige, Greg and Matt. Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love. Please respect their privacy at this time.

Posted by Paige Figi on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Charlotte spent much of her life fighting Dravet syndrome, a very rare form of epilepsy that causes children to suffer from long, recurring seizures and resists most medical treatment. About 15 percent of children with Dravet syndrome don’t survive to adulthood.

Charlotte’s fight to control her seizures became a national story when the family reported that treating Charlotte with cannabidiol oil, more commonly known as CBD, dramatically reduced her seizures. Paige connected Charlotte with medical marijuana producers in Colorado, run by the Stanley brothers, and they developed a strain of cannabis with high levels of CBD, which they made into an oil. That medical marijuana dispensary subsequently named their strain (and later, their whole company) Charlotte’s Web after her.

The success of Charlotte’s treatment drew families from across the country to Colorado from other states where leaders were dragging their feet on legalizing medical marijuana use. While Charlotte’s story was known both to those who followed medical marijuana trends and to families with children struggling with epilepsy, her story became national news in 2013 when CNN reported on her case and the network’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, reversed his position and declared his support for marijuana as a medical treatment because of Charlotte.

When Charlotte was born, only a handful of states permitted the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Now in 2020, only three states maintain complete bans—Idaho, South Dakota, and Nebraska. And there’s a ballot initiative in Nebraska for consideration in November to amend the state’s constitution to permit it.

Paige Figi founded the nonprofit Coalition for Access Now, which works to educate Americans about the value of marijuana and CBD oils as a potential treatment for health problems and advocates for changes in the law to allow for legal consumption.

While legal changes are still a fight, especially on the federal level, it’s safe to say that the Figi family and Charlotte have succeeded wildly in helping change Americans’ view of the value of CBD oils. Now, CBD goods have become trendy—maybe a little too trendy, given those who want to attempt to treat it as a miracle cure for just about anything. The Food and Drug Administration is sending out letters warning CBD companies to stop telling people that their products will protect users from COVID-19. And state governments persist in meddling unnecessarily in the use of CBD in foods and beverages.

It’s a tragedy that Charlotte didn’t make it to adulthood to fully appreciate how much the Figi family’s hard work has helped change the landscape for marijuana policy. More children in Charlotte’s situation now have easier access to treatments that can ease their suffering. More research is happening, too, to determine what cannabis can actually do as medicine.

America is a different place now—and a much, much better one when it comes to drug policy—because of the pivotal role played by Charlotte Figi and her family.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/34mWmHk
via IFTTT