Hey, Mildred, Remember When Government Worked? ( General ) by David Boaz

Walking into the Arlington County, Virginia, main library, I am confronted with a big display titled "When Government Works." I guess we couldn't really expect a tax-funded government agency to highlight "When Government Doesn't Work." But here's the striking thing about the display: Except for a couple of books about the glories of the Library of Congress, every single book on display was from the New Deal era: WPA state guides and books about the Hoover Dam, TVA, and federal aid for artists. In the view of the defenders of expansive government, is the New Deal really the last time government worked? And remember, the display isn't titled "When Government Worked" but rather "When Government Works." There are arguments to be had over whether and by what criteria the New Deal "worked." But if you think the last great success of government occurred before our recent presidents were born, shouldn't you give serious consideration to the possibility that most of the time government doesn't in fact work very well?

Posted on January 22, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Worse Than Hillary? ( Foreign Policy ) by David Boaz

The airwaves are abuzz today with the least surprising news since Lindsay Lohan entered rehab. Hillary Clinton is running for president. "I'm in. And I'm in to win," she says, after months of saying she hadn't given a presidential race any thought. Just my little pet peeve, though, that politicians could try harder to evade rather than actually lying. For more than 15 years now, Hillary has been the incarnation of Big Government. She votes with taxpayers only 9 percent of the time, according to the National Taxpayers Union. She calls herself a "government junkie." She says, "There is no such thing as other people's children" and calls for "a consensus of values and a common vision" for 300 million people.  She was best known in her White House years for heading a team of 500 bureaucrats organized into 15 committees and 34 working groups to recreate in 100 days one-seventh of the American economy. After health care, she told the New York Times, her next project would be "redefining who we are as human beings in the post-modern age." Or, as the Times put it, "She wants to make things right." She just might be the scariest collectivist this side of Al Gore. And yet.... And yet, she may end up running for the Democratic nomination against a gaggle of candidates who criticize her for being insufficiently devoted to bigger and more powerful government. All the candidates who might have offered a more libertarian direction seem to have dropped out. Mark Warner and Evan Bayh might have campaigned on more sensible and centrist economic ideas. Russ Feingold would have run as a critic of the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act (and its extension in 2006), all of which he opposed and Hillary supported. Read more...

Posted on January 20, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Underpaid CEO? ( General ) by David Boaz

The Wall Street Journal headline blares "Disney CEO Iger's Bonus, Salary Total $17 Million" (in the print edition). To most of us, that's an unbelievable amount of money, and no doubt many readers felt their blood pressure--and their populist anger--rising. What the story didn't quite say, though, was how much money Bob Iger made for Disney shareholders since he took over in October 2005. It did note that the company's stock price has risen 43 percent in that time. So in the 15 months that Iger's been in charge, shareholders have made some $23 billion. They probably figure $17 million is a fair reward to the CEO who played a major role in that gain.

Posted on January 13, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Chavez: Do We Need Any More Evidence? ( Health Care ) by David Boaz

In his three-hour inaugural address — yet another characteristic he shares with his hero, Fidel Castro — Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez eliminated any remaining doubt about his plans to rule as a socialist dictator. Yet some journalists still can't bring themselves to speak truth about power. Take the Washington Post, for instance. Reporter Juan Forero's story is headlined "Chavez Would Abolish Presidential Term Limit." He notes Chavez's stirring mantra, borrowed from Castro: "Socialism or death!" He reports:
All week in Caracas, Chavez has shaken markets and angered the Bush administration by promising to nationalize utilities, seek broader constitutional powers and increase the state's control of the economy. He has also frequently referred to the new, more radical phase in what he calls his revolution — drawing comparisons with Castro's famous declaration on Dec. 2, 1961: "I am a Marxist-Leninist and will be one until the day I die."
But then in the next paragraph Forero cautions:
If the theatrics are similar, however, the apparent goal is not. Chavez stresses that Venezuela will remain a democracy, and analysts do not believe his government will embark on a wholesale expropriation of companies, as Castro's government set out to do soon after taking power in 1959.
Remain a democracy, eh? Well, that's good news.

Posted on January 12, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Next Up: Democrats’ Plan for Tax Augmentation ( ) by David Boaz

The Washington Post reports:
[Sen. Chuck] Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, angrily condemned the "escalation" of the [Iraq] war. "To ask our young men and women to sacrifice their lives to be put in the middle of a civil war is . . . morally wrong. It's tactically, strategically, militarily wrong." "I don't see it, and the president doesn't see it, as an escalation," [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice replied. Hagel looked stunned. "Putting 22,000 new troops, more troops in, is not an escalation?" "Escalation is not just a matter of how many numbers you put in," Rice ventured. "Would you call it a decrease?" Hagel pressed. "I would call it, Senator, an augmentation."

Posted on January 12, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Spending Reality Check ( General ) by David Boaz

"We've done a better job of holding the line on domestic spending....By continuing these policies, we can balance the federal budget by 2012." --President Bush in the Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2007

Posted on January 4, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Is Bush Helping Africa? ( Environment & Climate ) by David Boaz

On Sunday, December, 31, the Washington Post featured a banner headline reading "Bush Has Quietly Tripled Aid to Africa." The article noted:
The president has tripled direct humanitarian and development aid to the world's most impoverished continent since taking office and recently vowed to double that increased amount by 2010 — to nearly $9 billion. The moves have surprised — and pleased — longtime supporters of assistance for Africa, who note that because Bush has received little support from African American voters, he has little obvious political incentive for his interest. "I think the Bush administration deserves pretty high marks in terms of increasing aid to Africa," said Steve Radelet, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.
Conservative press critics might be surprised at the positive tone of the article, which ran for 34 column inches, about a third of a page. But one could also wonder why the Post, in all that space, couldn't find room for a single critical comment from a foreign aid skeptic. For decades, economists have argued that government-to-government aid bolsters dictatorial governments, increases dependency, and discourages local entrepreneurship and enterprise. People can hardly fail to note that Africa has been the largest recipient of economic aid for decades, and the continent remains poor and undeveloped. So will Bush's huge increase in aid be more successful? The outlook isn't good. Post readers who want the full story might consult foreign aid critiques by pioneering development economist P. T. Bauer, former World Bank economist William Easterly, Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda, longtime aid practitioner Thomas Dichter, Cato's Ian Vasquez, or four African economists, or this story from the BBC.

Posted on January 1, 2007  Posted to Cato@Liberty

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