California’s Burgeoning Nanny State ( Foreign Policy ) by David Boaz

Los Angeles Times reporter Nancy Vogel has a roundup of nanny-state bills pending in the California legislature:
Enjoy fast food? Like to light up while you watch the waves? Forget to sock away money for your kids' education? Some California lawmakers want to change your ways. They've planted a crop of proposals this year — "nanny" bills, as they're called — that would:
•  Restrict the use of artery-clogging trans fat, common in fried and baked foods and linked to heart disease, in restaurants and school cafeterias. •  Bar smoking at state parks and beaches, and in cars carrying children. •  Open a savings account, seeded with $500, for every newborn Californian to use at 18 for college, a first home purchase or an investment for retirement. •  Fine dog and cat owners who don't spay or neuter their pets by 4 months of age. •  Require chain restaurants to list calorie, saturated fat and sodium content on menus. •  Phase out the sale of incandescent light bulbs, which are less energy-efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs.

Posted on March 8, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Big Day for Cato Books ( General ) by David Boaz

On Sunday the New York Times Book Review ran a review of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution by Michael Tanner. Reviewer Jacob Heilbrunn wrote
By exposing Bush and the Republican leadership as apostates who foolishly believe big government can be employed for conservative ends, Tanner hopes to persuade the right to return to what he sees as its original ideals of limited government and individual responsibility....Tanner is a lucid writer and vigorous polemicist who scores a number of points against the Republican Party’s fiscal transgressions.
On the same day, the Washington Post Book World reviewed On the Wealth of Nations, the latest book from Cato's H. L. Mencken Research Fellow P. J. O'Rourke. And in the Post and hundreds of other papers, George Will took note of John Samples's new book:
According to John Samples of the Cato Institute (in his book " The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform"), congressional Democrats began the process that culminated in criminalizing large contributions -- the kind that can give long-shot candidates, such as Vilsack, a chance to become competitive. Yes, the initial aim of campaign "reforms" was less the proclaimed purpose of combating corruption or "the appearance" thereof than it was to impede the entry of inconvenient candidates into presidential campaigns. In that sense, campaign reform is a government program that has actually worked, unfortunately.
Finally, the Times Book Review also reviewed Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who spoke at Cato's Annual Benefactor Summit a week earlier. Benefactors who attended the Summit got to hear from three authors a week before their books hit the big time. Don't miss it next year!

Posted on March 6, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss ( Foreign Policy ) by David Boaz

In the 2006 campaign, Democrats accused Republicans of "selling access" to Congress. But now, the Washington Post reports,
Eager to shore up their fragile House and Senate majorities, congressional Democrats have enlisted their committee chairmen in an early blitz to bring millions of dollars into the party's coffers, culminating in a late-March event featuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 10 of the powerful panel chairs. In the next 10 days alone, Democratic fundraisers will feature the chairmen of the House's financial services panel and the House and Senate tax-writing committees. Senate Democrats also plan a fundraising reception during a major gathering of Native Americans in the capital Tuesday evening, an event hosted by lobbyists and the political action committee for tribal casinos, including those Jack Abramoff was paid to represent.
Where is The Who now that we need them?
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution Take a bow for the new revolution Smile and grin at the change all around Pick up my guitar and play Just like yesterday Then I'll get on my knees and pray We don't get fooled again

Posted on March 2, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Health Authoritarians Afraid That People Won’t Do as They’re Told ( Defense & National Security ) by David Boaz

The Wall Street Journal reports: 
The big drinks makers now plan to disclose the caffeine content on the product label. The new information will allow consumers to compare the caffeine content of various soft drinks and comes as beverage companies are introducing new supercharged drinks.... While health groups laud the move toward more labeling, some worry the caffeine disclosure might be used to encourage more caffeine consumption. "It's conceivable that some people will choose higher caffeine soft drinks," says Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who has lobbied for caffeine labeling by soda companies.
Yes, there's always some possibility that when you give people more information, they'll still make their own choices. Some people consider that the nature of a free society. Others consider it a good reason to impose more and more restrictions, until people do as they're told. No doubt we'll soon find out which category includes Mr. Jacobson.

Posted on March 2, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Pork and Principle ( General ) by David Boaz

The Hill reports that Blue Dog Democrats are very concerned about the proper balance of powers between the president and Congress. But for a big hike in farm subsidies, they'll forget about that little constitutional matter. 
House Democratic leaders will add nearly $4 billion for farmers to a bill funding military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to attract conservative Democrats concerned that the measure would wrongly constrict President Bush’s power as commander in chief.
The Democrats hope that moderate Republicans are just as malleable:
Democrats may also add money for children’s health insurance in the hope of winning the votes of Republicans such as Illinois Reps. Mark Kirk (R) and Judy Biggert (R), whose home state faces a $240 million deficit in its State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
To be fair, there's no proof in the story that Kirk and Biggert are considering such a deal, but Republican leaders are reported to fear it. In the civics books, they tell us that members of Congress deliberate about war, separation of powers, balanced budgets, and so on, and then make collective decisions. If you read a newspaper, though, you soon learn about logrolling and other budget games. Still, it's one thing to trade your vote for farm pork for the other guy's vote for urban pork; the taxpayers lose twice, but at least it's only money. Trading your vote on a matter of life and death, which is also a fundamental constitutional issue, for a few billion in home-state pork seems entirely unbecoming to a member of the legislature of the world's most successful republic.

Posted on March 1, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

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