Derek Olson


Studies point to school choice benefits

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly asked President Barack Obama earlier this year why he opposes school vouchers. “Every study that’s been done on school vouchers, Bill, says that it has a limited impact, if any,” Obama said. The president is a master of rhetoric, but he isn’t above using full-blown distortions of the truth to maintain his composure. Obama has an uncanny ability to bend the truth further than imaginable without definitively breaking it — in most cases.

Will money corrupt our elections?

There is a lot of anger over the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which struck down limits on the amount that individuals can donate to political campaigns. People from across the political spectrum — right, left and center — are concerned that more money in politics is a bad thing. It quite possibly is. However, there are at least a few silver linings to the ominous dark cloud of big campaign contributions.

Tax Day costs us more than we think

Yesterday marked the 101st year in which Americans reported their taxable income to the federal government. While many student readers likely have simple and easy tax forms, if any, older workers are likely well-acquainted with the nuisance of filing taxes.

There’s a new political blacklist

Same-sex marriage has become one of our generation’s defining issues. While public opinion on the issue has changed quickly in recent history, some supporters have taken advocacy to another level: effectively silencing opposing voices. Just two weeks after taking a the position as CEO of Mozilla Corp., Brendan Eich left his new job solely due to backlash from his own opinion on same-sex marriage. Two years ago, the Los Angeles Times published a complete list of the donors to Proposition 8, a 2008 California ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage.

Support free speech at the U

Higher education institutions like the University of Minnesota widely emphasize the importance of diversity. This is why I am positively flummoxed that some members of the University community do not seem to think this value extends to diversity of perspective and diversity of opinion. Students for a Democratic Society have requested the University Faculty Senate vote on a resolution to rescind a speaking invitation to former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

No more special-interest spirits

On a typical autumn Sunday, I turn on the TV and watch more hours of NFL previews, games and highlights than I care to admit. At some point during the first game, I open my refrigerator to complement my viewing experience with an adult beverage when, to my great dismay, I have none left. Wouldn’t it be great if I could make a quick trip to one of the multiple liquor stores within a mile from my house? Unfortunately, because of Minnesota’s ban on Sunday liquor sales, I have to drive all the way to Wisconsin. And I’ve done it — and more than once.

An education goes beyond the classroom

I can still recall my fifth grade teacher moving a paper triangle — representing a ship’s sail — up and across a globe. She used this to demonstrate how Christopher Columbus witnessed ships arriving at port and first hypothesized that the earth was round. The trouble with her story was, as I didn’t learn until many years later, Columbus didn’t discover that the earth was round.

How concerning is wealth inequality?

It seems noble these days to be concerned with inequality. There is a constant barrage of people across the news discussing how extreme income inequality is a problem in America, but how much should it bother us? Bemoaning income inequality is a lazy way of discussing things we should actually care about, such as the plight of the poor, income mobility and macroeconomic stability.

Behind the numbers

There is probably no issue of more concern to students than the rising cost of tuition. The average debt load for graduating undergraduates at the University of Minnesota is $27,578, according to One Stop Student Services. Beginning one’s career with that much debt means that it’s imperative to find a job that pays well enough to manage it.

The reality of the 1 and 99 percent

Occupy Wall Street’s biggest accomplishment was embedding the view of the “1 percent” into political discourse. Now more than ever, political commentators use the statistics of income distribution between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent to illustrate the wealth discrepancy. Unfortunately, these statistics do more to obfuscate our understanding of inequality.