Would you gladly pay more for a cheeseburger today if it keeps your local librarian working tomorrow? Several members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors think so. So do supervisors in neighboring Loudoun County, who hope the General Assembly will allow them to impose a meals tax, too.If the supervisors are so sure that a tax increase would be popular, why don't they put it to a referendum? Or better yet, why not make it voluntary? The waitress could bring you a bill that shows the cost of the food and drink, the state tax, the county tax (as Virginia receipts already do), and then "additional voluntary local tax to keep Fairfax government big." If the supervisors are right, people will gladly pay it. Right, supervisors?
Posted on November 29, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
The tale centers on Charlie Flagg, a stubborn rancher who battles the unyielding drought. He also resists the government's relief programs with a determination that his friends find both admirable and strange. What emerges is the portrait of a rugged libertarian: "I just want to live by my own lights and be left the hell alone," says Flagg. The federal aid turns out to have bad consequences. It fuels inflation, turns neighbor against neighbor, and chips away at bedrock freedoms. Each time a rancher surrenders a piece of his independence, says Flagg, "he's given up a little of his self-respect, a little of the pride he used to have in takin' care of himself by himself."Kelton's father might have preferred that he actually be a cowboy, but at least he became one of the great modern advocates of the cowboy ethic:
In 1995, based largely on the accomplishment of "The Time It Never Rained," the Western Writers of America voted him the greatest western writer of all time. Finishing a distant second: Willa Cather. Kelton may not have grown up to be a cowboy, but he devoted himself to explaining and defending the cowboy's way of life. Last year, in the Texas Monthly, he observed that in certain circles the word "cowboy" has become a pejorative, as in "cowboy capitalism" or "cowboy diplomacy." He responded by trying to explain "what the cowboy is and always has been—a common man in an uncommon profession, giving more than he receives, living by a code of conduct his detractors will never understand."
Posted on November 26, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
• Fewer Americans died in traffic fatalities in 2008 than in any year since 1961, and fewer were injured than in any year since 1988, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began collecting injury data. One possible reason: Seat-belt use hit a record high of 84% nationally. • Life expectancy in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 77.9 years in 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available, continuing a long upward trend. (That's 75.3 years for men and 80.4 years for women.) • Death rates dropped significantly for eight of the 15 leading causes of death in the U.S., including cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, accidents, diabetes, homicides and pneumonia, from 2006 to 2007. (Of the top 15, only deaths from chronic lower respiratory disease increased significantly.) The overall age-adjusted death rate dropped to a new low of 760.3 deaths per 100,000 people—half of what it was 60 years ago…. • Around the world, 27% fewer children died before their fifth birthday in 2007 than in 1990, due to greater use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, better rehydration for diarrhea, and better access to clean water, sanitation and vaccines.… • Twenty-seven countries reported a reduction of up to 50% in the number of malaria cases between 1990 and 2006.Read it all. (I should note that Beck attributes more of this good news to government action than I would, and she counts the mere existence of smoking bans as a "health care advance," despite the lack of evidence that they actually have any health effects. But that's an argument we can save for next week. Today and tomorrow let's just celebrate the good news.) I wrote a couple of years ago about the good news of falling cancer death rates and falling heart disease death rates. In his book The Improving State of the World, Indur Goklany examined, as the subtitle put it, Why We're Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet.
Posted on November 25, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Expresses support for the goals and ideals of Complaint Free Wednesday. Encourages each person in the United States to remember that having a positive life begins with having a positive attitude. Recognizes and reaffirms the meaning of Thanksgiving by asking each person in the United States to use Complaint Free Wednesday to refrain from complaining and prepare for a day of gratitude.So what's my complaint? My complaint is that people get elected to office and they think their every passing thought should be a law. Eat less, exercise more, play classical music to unborn children, have a college football playoff, keep your frequent-flyer miles forever, don't complain so much -- every time a politician has an idea, he writes a law to ban or mandate something. So, please, send Rep. Cleaver a message -- on this Wednesday of all Wednesdays, complain about politicians who don't understand that the powers of the federal government are "few and defined" and think that all their preferences should be enacted into law.
Posted on November 25, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Posted on November 23, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
For more than a century Rhodes scholars have left Oxford with virtually any job available to them. For much of this time, they have overwhelmingly chosen paths in scholarship, teaching, writing, medicine, scientific research, law, the military and public service. They have reached the highest levels in virtually all fields. In the 1980s, however, the pattern of career choices began to change. Until then, even though business ambitions and management degrees have not been disfavored in our competition, business careers attracted relatively few Rhodes scholars. No one suggested this was an unfit domain; it was simply the rare scholar who went to Wall Street, finance and general business management. Only three American Rhodes scholars in the 1970s (out of 320) went directly into business from Oxford; by the late 1980s the number grew to that many in a year. Recently, more than twice as many went into business in just one year than did in the entire 1970s.Apparently Gerson believes that our best and brightest can accomplish more good for the world in such fields as writing, law, and bureaucracy than they can by creating, innovating, and improving lives in the world of business -- the arena that not only provides all of us with more comfortable, more interesting lives, and has lifted billions of people out of the back-breaking labor and short lives that were the human condition for millennia, but also makes possible the luxuries of the Aspen Institute, which was founded by Walter Paepcke (1896-1960), chairman of the Container Corporation of America, and is supported by successful businesspeople and their heirs today. Of course, it's not clear that business needs Rhodes Scholars. Think of the businesspeople who have revolutionized our world in recent decades: Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Larry Ellison, David Geffen, Ted Turner, and Malcom McLean, among others, either never attended or never finished college. Sam Walton, Bill McGowan, and Fred Smith did finish college but weren't Rhodes Scholars. In the Washington Post Jay Mathews notes that the chief executives of the top 10 U.S.-based Fortune 500 companies attended Pittsburg (Kan.) State, Texas at Austin, University College Dublin, Texas Tech, Texas at Austin, Dartmouth, Kansas, Gannon, Georgia State and Central Oklahoma, not the usual sources of Rhodes Scholars. But the elite hostility to business -- a holdover from Europe, perhaps, where aristocrats looked down on "trade," or an unconscious echo of Marxism -- is unseemly and harmful to both general prosperity and the individuals who are influenced by it to avoid productive enterprise. It crops up in President Obama's commencement addresses sneering at students who want to "take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy" and in Michelle Obama's urging hard-pressed women in Ohio, "Don’t go into corporate America." It's nice that some people, like senators' wives, can make $300,000 a year in "the helping industry," but it's business that produces the wealth that allows such nonprofit generosity. Gerson and the Obamas are disparaging the people who built America – the traders and entrepreneurs and manufacturers who gave us railroads and airplanes, housing and appliances, steam engines, electricity, telephones, computers and Starbucks. Ignored here is the work most Americans do, the work that gives us food, clothing, shelter and increasing comfort. That work deserves at least as much respect as "scholarship, teaching, writing, medicine, scientific research, law, the military and public service."
Posted on November 22, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Posted on November 19, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
The United States, by comparison, is a young nation, whose culture is determined by the many different immigrants who have come to our shores, and by the founding documents that guide our democracy. America will always speak out for these core principles around the world. We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation, but we also don't believe that the principles that we stand for are unique to our nation. These freedoms of expression and worship -- of access to information and political participation -- we believe are universal rights. Those documents put forward a simple vision of human affairs, and they enshrine several core principles -- that all men and women are created equal, and possess certain fundamental rights; that government should reflect the will of the people and respond to their wishes; that commerce should be open, information freely accessible; and that laws, and not simply men, should guarantee the administration of justice....Those are important American values, and I agree with the president that they are universal, as classical liberals have long argued. But I'm disappointed that President Obama didn't cite freedom of enterprise, property rights, and limited government as American values. Those are not only the necessary conditions for growth and prosperity, they are the necessary foundation for civil liberties. He did glancingly mention in the paragraph above that "commerce should be open, information freely accessible," so that's half a clause about commerce, I guess. But that's it for the freedoms that allow people to work and save, create, build, invest, and prosper. He noted that "China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty -- an accomplishment unparalleled in human history" but didn't examine how that happened. (Hint: economic reforms that moved toward free markets and (quasi) property rights.) His only subsequent mention of freedom touched on economics in the context of citizen participation and the Internet: Read more...
Posted on November 18, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Posted on November 17, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Not every sector. JustAnd now check out the lead story in Sunday's Washington Post:
Federal Oversight of Subways Proposed The Obama administration will propose that the federal government take over safety regulation of the nation's subway and light-rail systems, responding to what it says is haphazard and ineffective oversight by state agencies.Not everything. But more and more. So much that even the growing opposition can't keep up with it all.
Posted on November 16, 2009 Posted to Cato@Liberty