The Overton Window

Seven years after his death, a friend of mine is drawing national attention because of a simple but profound observation he made about the process of how ideas move from being politically impossible to becoming law. His observation helps explain, in part, why the work of think tanks like ours is so important.

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RFRA: The Civil Rights Act of the First Amendment Law

Before the year began, many legislators were expecting a relatively noncontroversial session. This was, perhaps, wishful thinking. But one bill that did not seem controversial was SB 2681, the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act (MS-RFRA). Indeed, SB 2681 sailed through the Senate with little debate and even seemed an appropriate vehicle for the governor’s proposal to add "In God We Trust" to the state seal.

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Federal Gov’t Bigger Than ever, Problems Still Exist

Last year, the federal government took in more money than any year in history – $2.7 trillion. The federal government also spent more money than any year in history – $3.7 trillion. We spent a trillion dollars more last year than we spent in 2006, just seven years earlier!

This shows that no matter how much we increase government spending, the problems that money is supposed to alleviate still exist, now accompanied by the additional burden of astronomical debt.

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How Poverty Programs Grow

Government poverty programs usually start with a small nucleus of people who, most everyone agrees, really need help. Then just beyond that nucleus, there is a group of people who almost qualify but make just a little too much money. So wouldn’t compassion demand that you expand the program just a little to include them? When you do that, you’ve now created a bigger circle, meaning even more people just beyond the line, and the pressure builds to include those people. And so it goes, eventually encompassing vast groups of people who would never have been defined as being “needy” when the program first began.

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