Mason in the News

Posted: March 13, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage Mason recently received.

Thursday, March 5, Associated Press

New Study Ranks South Dakota as Among the Freest States in Nation

“A new study anoints South Dakota as one of the freest states in the nation, but it fared much better on economic than personal freedoms. Researchers at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center created an index measuring economic, fiscal, personal and regulatory freedom and found South Dakota trailing only New Hampshire and Colorado in the overall category. ‘The first three states in the rankings are clumped tightly together, and thus citizens of all three states should be pleased to live in the freest states in the Union,’ the study noted. New York and California ranked among the least free. South Dakota received a top ranking in economic freedom and scored second in fiscal freedom. The researchers complimented South Dakota’s fiscal decentralization and said it’s among the best for taxes and spending. But the study criticized the state’s high sales taxes and higher-than-expected transportation spending for a state with such a low population density.”

Thursday, March 5, CNN: The Situation Room

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

“A flurry of appointments as the new president tries to attack several problems at once. New White House policy coordinators for the economy, health care reform, urban affairs and the environment. But his approach has at least one critic in congress. Robert Byrd is concerned that President Obama may rely too much on White House policy czars instead of cabinet secretaries. ‘They don’t have personnel power. That means that they can’t hire and fire people or tell cabinet secretaries to hire and fire people and they usually don’t have any budget power either,’ says James Pfiffner, professor of public policy at George Mason University. ‘The more you multiply the czars the more complicated that management problem becomes for the White House.’”

Saturday, March 7, Boston Globe

Layoff Will Reprioritize Your Lifestyle, So If You Find a Job, Stick to New Habits

“On the job search, the best advice is to network, network, network. ‘Don’t agonize. Make your best effort today,’ advises Janice Sutera, director of University Career Services at George Mason University. Tailor your resume to the job and use the Internet to research opportunities.”

Saturday, March 7, Chicago Tribune

Stimulus a Fiscal Tourniquet

“[President Obama’s economic] stimulus will act, to the extent it does, mainly to make the slowdown less severe. So far, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan has done just enough to provide the backdrop for Obama’s photo opportunities. There was Caterpillar Inc.’s production line in Peoria last month, the cop event in Columbus Friday, and not much more. The next phase will begin soon, said George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller. When people receive tax credits worth $800 to the average household, a new round of spending will start.”

Saturday, March 7, Washington Post

Every Bank Failure Is Also a Beginning

“The FDIC has increasingly promised banks that if they agree to take control of loans, the government will share in any losses. When Bank of Essex bought Suburban Federal, it agreed to take control of almost 97 percent of the bank’s loans and assets in exchange for a loss-sharing agreement. Transferring borrowers to a new bank, however, is only a partial solution. Carlos Ramirez, an economics professor at George Mason University who has studied bank failures, said it takes months for borrowers to explain their businesses to the new bank and build trust. His research shows that lending remains restricted and more expensive for about nine months after a failure. ‘A new bank comes in, they have to get to know the clientele. They cannot just give away money willy-nilly. The relationships take time to build up,’ Ramirez said. ‘In the early stages of the relationship, the lending is a little bit more expensive because they have to protect themselves against their lack of knowledge.’”

Sunday, March 8, Radio New Zealand National, Sunday Morning with Chris Laidlaw

“The Washington Post recently declared that Latin America was experiencing revolution by constitution. On Jan. 25, Bolivia became the latest of 10 Latin American countries to approve new constitutions since the 1980s. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, hailed the passing of the constitution as the end of colonial rule in the country. ‘Before 2009, I would say that the constitution of South Africa was the most radical [in terms of human rights] in the world,’ said Mark Goodale, assistant professor of conflict analysis and anthropology. ‘The new Bolivian constitution goes many steps further. It is filled with every international norm that exists and perhaps might say that doesn’t exist. In fact, it introduces new norms; new human rights.’”

Sunday, March 8, Washington Post

Residents Given a Say in Neighborhoods

“Neighborhood Improvement Group pilot program launched by Manassas last month by the Manassas Neighborhood Services Department, brings residents from across cultural lines together in neighborhood ‘study circles’ to discuss issues, projects and ideas for change. The program culminates with group members carrying out one of their ideas. Wilson-Sogunro said George Mason University helped get the study circles off the ground. The university donated $1,000 to train the 17 facilitators needed for the groups and provided volunteers and advice after undertaking a similar program on campus regarding immigration. ‘Because we are an education institution and can look at all sides of the issue, we felt we were in a unique position to bring people together,’ said Charvis Campbell, assistant dean of university life at George Mason’s Prince William campus. ‘We are really empowering the community here. They get to decide what the issues are and how to tackle them.’”

Thursday, March 12, Forbes

Beware Defaulting Munis

“Many cities and states now face a nasty mix of soaring pension and unemployment claims, plunging tax revenues and a plague of other fiscal woes. If state and local finances continue to deteriorate, wide-ranging defaults will quickly lead muni investors into uncharted territory because their legal rights are not entirely clear under current law, according to Todd Zywicki, a bankruptcy expert and law professor at George Mason University. Does the ‘full faith and credit’ of a government mean the government can be compelled by a court to raise taxes in order to pay off a bond? Don’t count on it.”

Thursday, March 12, Washington Post

Impact of Chapter 11 Change on Retailers Debated

“[In 2005] Congress amended the Chapter 11 provision of the U.S. bankruptcy law to shorten the time frame for companies to decide whether they will keep leases with their landlords. The law was changed to protect landlords from the drag on mall traffic when troubled anchor retailers maintain their leases while their businesses are in a sharp decline. Todd J. Zywicki, a professor at the George Mason University School of Law, said Montgomery Ward hurt business in the malls where it operated when it was in bankruptcy protection several years ago. The malls, he said, were only able to thrive again once the retailer closed and other anchor retailers moved in. By using the prolonged Chapter 11 process, ‘we tried to save a store that shouldn’t be saved,’ Zywicki said.”

Write to at