Andrew J. Coulson
Zack Kopplin has spent the past five years trying to prevent taxpayers from being compelled to support the teaching of creationism as science. His initial focus was the public school system itself, but he has now added government-funded private “voucher” schools to his campaign.
Reading about Zack’s efforts, I was reminded of another campaigner for freedom of conscience in education, the now-retired law professor Stephen Arons. Thirty years ago, Arons wrote a remarkable book called Compelling Belief, in which he chronicled education-related conflicts that trampled parents’ freedom of conscience.
Like Arons, Kopplin seems to come from the political and philosophical left. And, also like Arons, Kopplin is fighting against compulsion that violates people’s most deeply held convictions. But there is one area in which the two men differ: whom they wish to protect from unjust compulsion. For Kopplin the answer is, exclusively, taxpayers. For Arons the answer was, exclusively, parents. As a result of this difference, their proposed solutions are precisely opposite to one another. Kopplin wants to abolish voucher programs. Arons proposed a nationwide voucher program.
Which proposal is correct? Whose freedom should prevail? The answers, respectively, are neither, and both.
Neither proposal is correct because neither safeguards the freedom of conscience of both parents and taxpayers. For anyone truly committed to freedom of conscience, it is unacceptable to throw one group under the bus in order to protect the other.
Fortunately, there is a policy solution that guarantees freedom of conscience for both parents and taxpayers—under which no one is forced to support beliefs that violate their convictions. That policy solution, as the U.S. Supreme Court has understood, is K-12 education tax credits.
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WASHINGTON — President Obama’s healthcare law helped as many as 6.6 million young adults stay on or get on their parents’ health plans in the first year and a half after the law was signed, a new survey indicates.
That number, found in the survey by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, is far higher than earlier estimates. And at a time when public wariness about the Affordable Care Act remains high, it underscores the popularity of a provision that requires insurers to allow parents to enroll their children up to age 26 on their own plans.
Earlier surveys by the federal government found that the number of people ages 19 to 25 without insurance declined after the law was signed, reversing years of erosion in health coverage for young adults.
But, although the government research indicated that 2.5 million more young adults had health insurance in 2011 than in 2010, it was unclear how many people were benefiting from the law.
The Affordable Care Act is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a decision is expected by the end of June. If the court strikes down the entire federal healthcare law, the requirement that young adults be allowed to sign on to their parents’ plans would die. Some insurers have indicated that they might embrace the provision voluntarily, citing its popularity.
In California, state law provides that this provision must remain in effect, regardless of the court’s ruling.
Not all of the estimated 6.6 million young adults who joined or stayed on their parents’ plans would have otherwise been uninsured, according to officials at the Commonwealth Fund, which is a leading source of healthcare research. At least some probably moved to their parents’ plans from other health insurance plans because the family plans were less costly or more comprehensive.
But, Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said, the survey was a hopeful indicator at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to get needed healthcare. "The new report … shows that implementation of the law has already begun to make a difference for young adults, their families and other Americans," she said.
The survey of more than 1,800 young adults nationwide measured how young people got insurance between November 2010 and November 2011.
The expansion in coverage for young adults has been a rare bright spot for the Obama administration and other backers of the healthcare law who have been laboring since 2010 to highlight the benefits of the law, most of which will not be evident for years. Under the law, all Americans will be guaranteed access to health coverage for the first time starting in 2014.
Allowing young adults, most of whom are healthy, to remain on their parents’ health plans is not as expensive as expanding coverage to populations with higher medical costs, although independent analyses estimate the expansion could boost premiums 1% to 2%.
Congressional Republicans are working to dismantle the law, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has promised to repeal it if elected in November.
House Republicans continued their campaign Thursday, voting to scrap a 2.3% tax on medical devices sold in America that was included in the law to help raise money to provide health coverage to an estimated 32 million people. The largely symbolic measure, cheered by business groups, is not expected to succeed in the Democratic Senate.
House Republicans also voted to rescind new restrictions on the use of tax-free health accounts; these were also included in the new healthcare law. So far, however, GOP lawmakers have not advanced any alternatives to the law.
The Commonwealth Fund survey suggests that simply repealing the law would have a substantial effect on young people, many of whom are still struggling to pay their medical bills and to get health insurance.
Nearly 2 in 5 young adults ages 19 to 29 reported a gap in health insurance in 2011, according to the survey. And 41% delayed getting needed medical care.
Millions of young adults are also struggling with debt they incurred to get medical care, with one-fifth reporting they are having to pay off medical bills over time.
That burden is falling most heavily on young people without insurance, with more than one-quarter reporting they had been contacted by a collection agency over unpaid medical bills.
Those without insurance are also disproportionately low income, with 70% of young people who make less than $29,726 a year — 133% of the federal poverty level — reporting that they had lacked insurance at some point in the previous year.
These Americans are also the least likely to join a parent’s health plan. While 69% of young adults in families making more than four times the poverty level stayed on or joined their parents’ health plans, just 17% from families making less than 133% of the poverty line did so, the survey found.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:30 am
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Three in 10 young adults live with parents, highest level since 1950s
A weak economy and high debt levels are prompting more young adults to return to the family nest, a new survey shows. Perhaps surprisingly, most are happy with their living arrangements.
By Husna Haq, Correspondent / March 15, 2012
3 and 0 After graduating from Brown University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and completing a Fulbright scholarship in Brazil, Cassie Owens was left with a few dollars on her stipend and no job in sight. So, Ms. Owens returned home to her mother in Philadelphia.
.“I moved back home pretty much for lack of money and prospects,” she says. Owens’s cousin, Evon Burton, who also returned home after graduating from Morehouse College in 2009, adds, “The choice is to go out and be in debt or to pursue your dreams and save up money at home, in a safe, stable environment.”
Owens and Burton are among the scores of so-called “boomerang kids,” young adults who move out of the family home for school or work and then return home. Unable to find well-paying work in a weak economy, escalating numbers of young adults – as many as 3 in 10 – are returning home to the family nest, resulting in the highest share of young adults living in multigenerational households since the 1950s, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday.
“The rise in the boomerang phenomenon illustrates the effect the recession and the weak economy are having on young adults,” says Kim Parker, a senior researcher at Pew and the author of the study. “Young adults were hit particularly hard in the job market and are having to delay reaching some basic financial milestones of adulthood because of this.”
In 1980, some 11 percent of young adults lived in multigenerational households, suggesting that a strong economy helped youngsters gain independence more quickly. Today, some 29 percent of 25- to 34-year olds either never moved out of their parents’ home or say they returned home in recent years because of the economy, according to the Pew report. Among 18- to 24-year olds, that figure is even higher – 53 percent of young adults in that age group live at home.
“These statistics show that the recession has exacerbated a trend that was already under way since the 1980s … living at home longer and boomeranging back more frequently,” says Barbara Ray, coauthor of “Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood and Why It’s Good for Everyone.” The recession has hit this age group particularly hard, says Ms. Ray, and high unemployment among young adults, combined with growing college debt, means more youngsters are returning home.
Surprisingly, most “boomerang kids” don’t mind living with mom and dad. If ever there were a stigma about living with parents through one’s late twenties and thirties, the recession and, along with it, a practical dollars-and-cents outlook on life have all but erased that perception.
Of those living at home, some 78 percent say they’re upbeat about their living arrangements, according to the Pew study, and 24 percent say it’s been good for their relationships with their parents (48 percent say it hasn’t changed their relationship).
Owens says she’s happy to have an opportunity to look after her mother, who isn’t in good health.
“My parents love it and if they could keep me here forever they would,” says Erika Brunner, who moved back home to Lafayette, N.Y., in 2010 after completing her bachelor’s degree, working, and traveling in Europe for five months.
.What’s more, says Parker, the trend of young adults returning home, and with it, the increasing number of multigenerational households in the US, suggest family is once again becoming an important social safety net.
“Census data suggest that if it can keep you out of poverty, it is in essence a sort of social safety net,” she says, citing Pew findings that young adults who live in multigenerational homes are less likely to live in poverty than those who don’t. Given an aging population and entitlement programs threatened due to a budget crunch, “it seems like family has to step in and fill a void,” says Parker. “That’s what we’re seeing here.”
But in many cases, it also means young adults are caught in a murky phase between adolescence and adulthood.
“The recession has really accelerated trends of prolonging adolescence and shifting adulthood later. If you can’t find a job, it’s difficult to establish yourself,” says Parker.
In fact, as many as 3 in 10 young adults postponed marriage, starting a family, or both, due to the economy, according to the Pew report. Another third have returned to school and untold numbers have settled for a job simply to make ends meet.
“But in spite of the trials and tribulations this generation is facing, they are extremely optimistic about the future,” says Parker.
Take Owens. Because well-paying jobs are hard to come by, she says, “a lot of people are going where their heart is and trying to have a good experience. In the past, they would have been content settling for a [traditional job]. Now no one’s willing to make pennies at a job they hate, so a lot of people are pursuing the stuff they really love.”
In Owens’s case, that’s journalism and music, which the 24-year-old is exploring with internships at Philadelphia’s CITY newspaper and at R&B Records, a mecca for audiophiles, which stocks one of the country’s largest collections of 45s. Owens says she’s been “blown away” by the experience and is planning to return to graduate school soon for a master’s degree in journalism.
But as Mr. Burton and Ms. Brunner – each of whom juggles three or more part-time jobs or internships – point out, the situation for many young adults is far from ideal. “I don’t think I’d be working 3.5 part-time jobs if I nailed down one that paid well enough and was something I really enjoyed,” says Brunner.
In that, Ray sees a worrisome trend in the boomerang generation.
“If the ‘launch’ feels blocked for too long, will this generation’s optimism curdle into bitterness and skepticism?” she asks, in an e-mail. “Will a ding to their wages at an important juncture haunt them for years? Will a generation that has been told they can be and do anything – without many challenges as of yet – be resilient enough to withstand this setback?” she says. “Only time will tell.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:26 pm
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