Idiosyncrasy Runs Deep in the Soil of WyomingAnd what's this idiosyncrasy? Cowboy poetry? Jackalopes? Being the first state to grant women the vote? No, here's what the Times finds idiosyncratic:
Wyoming’s way — always idiosyncratic in the windblown, rural grain that mixes mind-your-own-business cowboy libertarianism and fiscal penny-pinching — is getting its moment in the spotlight.Yep, what the New York Times finds idiosyncratic in a nation formed to guarantee the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is a libertarian spirit combined with fiscal conservatism. It's not clear that Wyoming lives up to this picture: The Cato Institute's Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors noted in 2006 that Wyoming's budget had risen 60 percent in less than four years. And the Mercatus Center report "Freedom in the 50 States" put Wyoming barely above the national median for both personal and economic freedom. But the libertarian instincts are there, as Jason Sorens and I found in calculations of voter attitudes in the states. So let's hear it for "mind-your-own-business cowboy libertarianism and fiscal penny-pinching" -- may it spread beyond the four corners of idiosyncratic Wyoming.
Posted on November 27, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
a new analysis warns that the Washington area doesn’t have nearly enough housing for the wave of new workers that will arrive in coming decades. Researchers at George Mason University say the area is projected to add more than a million new jobs by 2030.That's the future we can expect if we don't start constraining the size, scope, and power of the federal government: further transfers of wealth from the rest of the country to Washington, from the productive sector to the redistributive and regulatory sector.
Posted on November 27, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Posted on November 23, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Less than a week before U.N. negotiators convene in South Africa for a new round of talks aimed at forging a global climate pact, a hacker has released an apparent second round of e-mails from the University of East Anglia in Britain that seek to portray climate scientists in a negative light.Now let's break that sentence down. Could it really be the e-mails from the climate catastrophists that "seek to portray [themselves] in a negative light"? Surely not. Rather, it appears that the sentence was intended to read something like this:
...a hacker believes that the apparent second round of e-mails from the University of East Anglia that he released today portray climate scientists in a negative light.If there's any embarrassment to the writers of the e-mails, after all, surely it was not intended. In any case, it's not the release of the e-mails that might "portray [some] climate scientists in a negative light," it's the e-mails themselves. More on the original Climategate here. Ongoing posts at this climate-skeptic website. And as you hear terms like "skeptics," "deniers," and so on, remember what Pat Michaels wrote in the 2009 Cato Handbook for Policymakers:
Leading politicians and media figures are insisting that Congress make global warming a very high priority. Global warming is indeed real, and human activity has been a contributor since 1975. But global warming is also a very complicated and difficult issue that can provoke very unwise policy in response to political pressure. In 2005, for instance, Congress clearly made a very bad decision about climate change when it mandated accelerated production of ethanol. Critics had argued then that corn-based ethanol would actually result in increased carbon dioxide emissions. An increasing body of science has since verified this position. Further, corn-based ethanol is responsible in part for the skyrocketing price of corn, soybeans, rice, and wheat since the mandates began. Although there are many different legislative proposals for substantial reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, there is no operational or tested suite of technologies that can accomplish the goals of such legislation. Fortunately, and contrary to much of the rhetoric surrounding climate change, there is ample time to develop such technologies, which will require substantial capital investment by individuals.He's a skeptic about the predictions of catastrophic and imminent threats, not about the existence of modest global warming.
Posted on November 22, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Lesser evil: crony capitalism or bad policy? Energy Secretary Steven Chu is about to find out when he testifies before a House panel on Thursday about the $535 million loan guarantee his department awarded to Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar-energy company that was, before its demise, the poster child for America’s renewable-energy industry and President Obama’s 2009 Recovery Act. The White House and the Energy Department say the influence of political donors such as Oklahoma oil billionaire George Kaiser, whose venture-capital firm was the major investor in Solyndra, did not sway any of the administration’s decisions on Solyndra’s loan guarantee, which was funded from the stimulus package. By denying politics was involved, the administration is saying that its top officials genuinely and continuously thought Solyndra was a good bet—despite numerous warnings raised both inside and outside of the administration—and that the loan-guarantee program was being carefully managed despite oversight reports and an internal West Wing memo that said otherwise. “As time went on, there was a growing concern because of the cash-flow,” Chu said in an interview with NPR on Tuesday. “And so we certainly were watching this and looking at this very closely. And eventually we recognized they were in deep trouble.” Yet, throughout the two years Solyndra was borrowing money from federal coffers, the DOE essentially stayed the path right up until the bitter end when the California-based manufacturer went bankrupt in September. When Solyndra was on the brink of bankruptcy in late 2010, DOE decided to restructure the loan to try to keep the company afloat.Meanwhile, in today's congressional hearing, Energy Secretary Steven Chu insisted that “the final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind. . . . I did not make any decision based on political considerations.” This came on a day when the front page of the Washington Post reported:
In the two years preceding its collapse, Solyndra and its biggest investor aggressively asserted themselves in dealings with the Obama administration, pushing Energy Secretary Steven Chu to visit the company’s headquarters to help it raise private money and later suggesting it would file for bankruptcy if the Energy Department rejected its proposed rescue plan. . . . “The DOE really thinks politically before it thinks economically,” a Solyndra board member wrote in December to George Kaiser, an Obama fundraiser whose family funds owned a third of the company.
Posted on November 17, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Posted on November 17, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
The Obama administration, which gave the solar company Solyndra a half-billion-dollar loan to help create jobs, asked the company to delay announcing it would lay off workers until after the hotly contested November 2010 midterm elections that imperiled Democratic control of Congress, newly released e-mails show.... A Solyndra investment adviser wrote in an Oct. 30, 2010, e-mail — without explaining the reason — that Energy Department officials were pushing “very hard” to delay making the layoffs public until the day after the elections. The announcement ultimately was made on Nov. 3, 2010 — immediately following the Nov. 2 vote.More than a month ago, I listed some of the earlier shoes in the unfolding story. But as a friend of mine asks about the Penn State scandal, is this the "other shoe," or is this story a centipede with lots more shoes to come? Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren ignored the politics and looked at the economics of Solyndra and energy subsidies in Forbes.
Posted on November 16, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
"Both parties today are for socialism, in effect — for controls. And there is no party, there are no voices, to offer an actual pro-capitalist, laissez-faire, economic freedom and individualism," she said. "That is what this country needs today." If Rand were alive today, she might be pleased to see that, more and more, Americans do have that choice. And her ideas are alive and well-represented in the U.S. Capitol.If by "well-represented," you mean "often heard in protest as Congress passes Wall Street bailouts, corporate takeovers, health care takeovers, and trillion-dollar spending bills," then yes. NPR's commenters weren't very happy to hear Ayn Rand discussed. I especially appreciated this one:
The "objectivity" of ruthless plunderers from a displaced Russian bourgoise who refused to acknowledge the punishment of her class was brought on by its crimes against the people. Objective thinking people accept responsibility for their actions and the consequences that follow.Marxism may be dead in Russia, but not in the NPR listener community! No doubt this commenter is knitting the names of American bourgeoisie who will one day be sent to gulags.
Posted on November 14, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
Posted on November 9, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty
But over the past year, federal authorities appear to have done everything in their power to undermine state and local regulation of medical marijuana and to create uncertainty, fear and confusion among those in the industry. The president needs to reassert himself to ensure that his original policy is implemented. The Treasury Department has forced banks to close accounts of medical marijuana businesses operating legally under state law. The Internal Revenue Service has required dispensary owners to pay punitive taxes required of no other businesses. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently ruled that state-sanctioned medical marijuana patients can not purchase firearms. United States attorneys have also sent letters to local officials, coinciding with the adoption or implementation of state medical marijuana regulatory legislation, stressing their authority to prosecute all marijuana offenses. Prosecutors have threatened to seize the property of landlords and put them behind bars for renting to marijuana dispensaries. The United States attorney in San Diego, Laura E. Duffy, has promised to start targeting media outlets that run dispensaries’ ads. President Obama has not publicly announced a shift in his views on medical marijuana, but his administration seems to be declaring one by fiat.As bad as the drug war is in the United States, it's wreaking far more havoc in Mexico and Latin America. That's why the Cato Institute is holding an all-day conference next week, "Ending the War on Drugs," featuring:
- the former president of Brazil
- the former drug czar of India
- the former foreign minister of Mexico
- the author of Cato's study on decriminalization in Portugal
- the Speaker of the House in Uruguay
- plus video presentations by former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Posted on November 8, 2011 Posted to Cato@Liberty