Is There Still Time?

The Washington Post says that "there is a real question as to whether [Texas governor Rick] Perry has waited too long" to begin a presidential campaign. And that Sarah Palin is dithering "even as the window for announcing narrows" and "time is running out for her." Fox News agrees that "time is running out" for any new presidential candidates. That's the conventional wisdom. But I'm old enough to think about history. Barry Goldwater announced his candidacy for president on January 3, 1964, about nine weeks before the New Hampshire primary. A decade later, Ronald Reagan announced his challenge to President Gerald Ford on November 20, 1975. After that unsuccessful race, he announced another, this time successful candidacy, on November 13, 1979. I'm not suggesting that Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, or Chris Christie is another Ronald Reagan or even another Goldwater. Nor am I unaware of the changes in the campaign process. But I do wonder if a candidate with real appeal really has to announce his or her candidacy so many months before earlier candidates did.

Posted on July 6, 2011  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Ideas Have Had Consequences — in the United States and in China

At the Britannica Blog I take a look at the founding ideas of the United States and the Communist Party of China, both of which are celebrating anniversaries this weekend:
The ideas of the Declaration, given legal form in the Constitution, took the United States of America from a small frontier outpost on the edge of the developed world to the richest country in the world in scarcely a century. The country failed in many ways to live up to the vision of the Declaration, notably in the institution of chattel slavery. But over the next two centuries that vision inspired Americans to extend the promises of the Declaration—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—to more and more people. China of course followed a different vision. Take the speech of Mao Zedong on July 1, 1949, as his Communist armies neared victory. The speech was titled, “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship.” Instead of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it spoke of “the extinction of classes, state power and parties,” of “a socialist and communist society,” of the nationalization of private enterprise and the socialization of agriculture, of a “great and splendid socialist state” in Russia, and especially of “a powerful state apparatus” in the hands of a “people’s democratic dictatorship.” Tragically, unbelievably, this vision appealed not only to many Chinese but even to Americans and Europeans, some of them prominent. But from the beginning it went terribly wrong, as really should have been predicted....What inspired many American and European leftists was that Mao really seemed to believe in the communist vision. And the attempt to actually implement communism leads to disaster and death.
Read the whole thing.

Posted on July 4, 2011  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Deval Patrick’s Defense of Our $6 Trillion Government

In the apparent belief that the Tea Party movement and Americans' general aversion to higher taxes are conjured out of thin air by master manipulator Grover Norquist, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick offers this devastating riposte to Norquist's support for limited government:
I remember sitting in the Dunster House dining hall at Harvard with Norquist when we were sophomores or juniors in college, while he explained his view of government, or lack thereof. It sounded logical — the notion that we could live independently of each other, making our own decisions in our own self-interest. But then who puts out the fires? Who answers the calls to 911? Who educates poor children? Who helps people with disabilities?
Good point. And we could go on. Without government, who would make shoes and ensure that they came in different sizes? Who would invent and build software programs? Who would supply us with home and automobile insurance to protect us from the risks of life? Who would feed and clothe and house us? And then one might also wonder: Governor Patrick asks, "Who educates poor children?" in a society with limited government. Right now, government provides schooling for poor children, but all too few of them actually get educated. Check out the achievement gap for black students -- in Massachusetts and elsewhere -- in this Department of Education report. Perhaps Governor Patrick should make sure government is actually doing the things he worries about before he claims that a different system couldn't do them.

Posted on July 2, 2011  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Beware of Greeks Demanding Gifts

Our friend Alberto Mingardi of the Bruno Leoni Institute in Italy writes about the Greek crisis:
In a way, the most surprising element of the Greek disaster is that taxpayers in other European countries aren’t outraged at being called to rescue an economy that has been marching towards disaster for so long. The legitimate fear of contagion affecting other European countries is now being used to persuade the electorates outside Greece that: first, Greece has not manufactured its own fate, but is rather the victim of “locust-like” speculators and, second, a Greek bailout would be an indictment of the European social model, that is, the welfare state. Where European public opinion is collapsing under its contradictions is in the attempt to reconcile the idea of the EU as the ultimate policeman of public finance with the ideological need to save the “European social model” no matter what. If the European Union has long been a major catalyst for reform in member states, it seems inappropriate that it now aims to artificially remove the ultimate incentive for fiscal wisdom: the possibility of a sovereign default. The problem of “moral hazard” should not be considered the exclusive preserve of too-big-to-fail banks; countries can suffer from it, too.
At two Cato forums last year Simeon Djankov, Steve Hanke, and Takis Michas discussed the background of the Greek crisis. Partial transcript here. Video here and here. Michas blamed the problems on "clientelism," which he described as "a system in which political support is provided in exchange for benefits.... The largest part of public expenditure was directed, not to public works or infrastructure, but to the wages of public service workers and civil servants…. What makes the case of Greece interesting is that Greece can be said, in a certain sense, to provide the perfect realization of the left’s vision of putting people above markets. Greek politicians have always placed people (their clients) above markets, with results we can all see today." Dan Mitchell said "I told you so" about the failure of the previous Greek bailout. My thoughts on the Greek "anarchists" demanding a continuation of government subsidies here. And here's a comparison between the Greek and U.S. debt problems.

Posted on July 1, 2011  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Virginians Want to Bring the Boys Home

A strong majority of voters in Virginia, a state that is home to the Pentagon, Naval Station Norfolk (the world’s largest naval base), U.S. Joint Forces Command, and the fourth highest percentage of veterans of any state, want American troops out of Afghanistan and Libya. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 55 percent of Virginians polled think the United States "should not be involved in Afghanistan now," and 60 percent oppose involvement in Libya. According to the poll, fewer Virginians support those wars than any of the other people or topics the poll asked about. Only 38 percent now support the Afghan war, and 31 percent support the Libyan military involvement, compared to 42 percent who don't want to repeal the 2010 health care law, 43 percent who would vote to re-elect President Obama, 48 percent who approve of Obama's job performance, 42 percent who would vote for George Allen for senator, and 43 percent who would vote for Tim Kaine. All those candidates should probably take note of the poll's results on both health care and foreign wars. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,434 registered voters and claims a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points. The poll apparently did not ask about the war in Iraq.

Posted on July 1, 2011  Posted to Cato@Liberty

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