The People Still Want Smaller Government

Most of the headlines about the large new Pew Research Center survey (6,000 interviews) have focused on the continuing decline in Americans’ trust in government, as depicted in the chart below.

Trust in government Pew

But the survey also asks one of my favorite questions:

If you had to choose, would you rather have a smaller government providing fewer services, or a bigger government providing more services?

As shown in the chart below, the number preferring smaller government rose to its highest point during the 1990s, then reached a low point as President Obama was elected in 2008, and has been rising since then. In the latest survey 53 percent of Americans say they prefer a smaller government, while only 38 percent would rather have a bigger government with more services.

But as I’ve written before, I’ve always thought the “smaller government” question is incomplete. It offers respondents a benefit of bigger government–”more services”–but it doesn’t mention that the cost of “bigger government providing more services” is higher taxes. The question ought to give both the cost and the benefit for each option. The Rasmussen poll does often ask the question that way. In one poll about a decade ago, Rasmussen found that 64 percent of voters said that they prefer smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes, while only 22 percent would rather see a more active government with more services and higher taxes. A similar poll around the same time, without the information on taxes, found a margin of 59 to 26 percent. So it’s reasonable to conclude that if you remind respondents that “more services” means higher taxes, the margin by which people prefer smaller government rises by about 9 points. So maybe the margin in this poll would have been something like 58 to 34 if both sides of the question had been presented.

For now, when voters are given only the benefits and not the costs of bigger government, Pew and other pollsters find these results:

Views of smaller government

Posted on November 23, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Trade Is Not a Trade-Off: The Stronger Case for Free Trade

Too many advocates of trade liberalization don’t really understand the case for free trade. Consider this sympathetic interview by Steve Inskeep of NPR with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the chief negotiator of the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

INSKEEP: Froman argues the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will give U.S. industries more access to foreign markets. Granted, there’s a trade-off. Other nations get more access to the U.S. for their products. Froman contends that, at least, happens slowly as tariffs or import taxes drop.

FROMAN: The tariff on imported trucks from Japan, as an example, won’t go away for 30 years. On apparel and textiles, we worked very closely with the textile manufacturers in the U.S. to come up with an outcome that they could be comfortable with, so that we’ll let in clothes coming that are made Vietnam or made in Malaysia, but they’ve got to use U.S. fabric.

Inskeep refers to the lowering of U.S. tariffs as “a trade-off,” and Froman accepts that characterization. Both operate from the premise that Americans want other countries to reduce their barriers to our exports, and that the “trade-off” for that benefit is that we must reduce our own trade barriers.

That’s backwards. The benefit of trade is that we get access to goods and services that we might get otherwise, or we get to pay lower prices for the goods we want. More broadly, we want free – or at least freer – trade in order to remove the impediments that prevent people from finding the best ways to satisfy their wants. Free trade allows us to benefit from the division of labor, specialization, comparative advantage, and economies of scale.

This is a point that Cato scholars and our Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies have been making for years. As Center director Dan Ikenson wrote last year:

Arguably, opening foreign markets should be an aim of trade policy, but real free trade requires liberalization at home. The real benefits of trade are measured by the value of imports that can be purchased with a unit of exports – the so-called terms of trade. Trade barriers at home raise the costs and reduce the amount of imports that can be purchased with a unit of exports, yet holding firm to those domestic barriers while insisting that foreign markets open wider is the U.S. trade negotiating strategy. Indeed, that’s almost every government’s negotiating strategy. It is the crux of reciprocity-based trade negotiations, which, at its core, is a rejection of free trade.

Ikenson and Scott Lincicome made that case at greater length, with specific emphasis on the “central misconception” that “exports are good and imports are bad,” almost five years ago.

Thirty years ago in the Cato Journal, the economist Ronald Krieger explained the difference between the economist’s and the non-economist’s views of trade. The economist believes that “The purpose of economic activity is to enhance the wellbeing of individual consumers and households.” And, therefore, “Imports are the benefit for which exports are the cost.” Imports are the things we want—clothing, televisions, cars, software, ideas—and exports are what we have to trade in order to get them.

And I wrote more about this persistent misunderstanding in The Libertarian Mind (buy it now!):

Politicians just don’t seem to get this. President Obama’s official [2010] statement on “Promoting U.S. Jobs by Increasing Trade and Exports” mentions exports more than forty times; imports, not once. His Republican critics agree: Senator Rob Portman says that a trade agreement “is vital to increasing American exports.” More colorfully, during his 1996 presidential campaign, Pat Buchanan stood at the Port of Baltimore and said, “This harbor in Baltimore is one of the biggest and busiest in the nation. There needs to be more American goods going out.” That’s fundamentally mistaken. We don’t want to send any more of our wealth overseas than we have to in order to acquire goods from overseas. If Saudi Arabia would give us oil for free, or if South Korea would give us televisions for free, Americans would be better off. The people and capital that used to produce televisions—or used to produce things that were traded for televisions—could then shift to producing other goods. Unfortunately for us, we don’t get those goods from other countries for free. But if we can get them cheaper than it would cost us to produce them ourselves, we’re better off.

Sometimes international trade is seen in terms of competition between nations. We should view it, instead, like domestic trade, as a form of cooperation. By trading, people in both countries can prosper. And we should remember that goods are produced by individuals and businesses, not by nation-states. “South Korea” doesn’t produce televisions; “the United States” doesn’t produce the world’s most popular entertainment. Individuals, organized into partnerships and corporations in each country, produce and exchange. In any case, today’s economy is so globally integrated that it’s not clear even what a “Japanese” or “Dutch” company is. If Apple Inc. produces iPads in China and sells them in Europe, which “country” is racking up points on the international scoreboard? The immediate winners would seem to be investors and engineers in the United States, workers in China, and consumers in Europe; but of course the broader benefits of international trade will accrue to investors, workers, and consumers in all those areas.

The benefit of international trade to consumers is clear: We can buy goods produced in other countries if we find them better or cheaper. There are other benefits as well. First, it allows the division of labor to work on a broader scale, enabling the people in each country to produce the goods at which they have a comparative advantage. As Mises put it, “The inhabitants of [Switzerland] prefer to manufacture watches instead of growing wheat. Watchmaking is for them the cheapest way to acquire wheat. On the other hand the growing of wheat is the cheapest way for the Canadian farmer to acquire watches.”

I hope that USTR Froman, Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch, and other advocates of trade liberalization will come to understand and to advocate the strong case for free trade, which economists have understood since Adam Smith in 1776.

Posted on November 16, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

GOP Candidates Suck Up to Hatemongers

Sometimes I think Republicans get a bad rap from mainstream journalists, who tend to be more sympathetic to liberals and Democrats. The problem may be particularly acute when it comes to social conservatives, whose views seem especially unpopular among journalists.

But right now three conservative Republican presidential candidates are mostly getting a free pass from the media on their appalling judgment over the weekend.

Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee fete a man who thinks the Bible says we should execute gays.”

Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee spoke at a conference in Des Moines called “Freedom 2015: National Religious Liberties Conference,” a two-day event that began last Friday. Now, that doesn’t sound so bad. In fact, my colleagues at the Cato Institute and I have recently defended the rights of Hobby Lobby, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the bakers and photographers who don’t want to participate in same-sex weddings

But this conference was about something far different from liberty, although you wouldn’t know that from bland media coverage like this CBS News article. So it’s a good thing that The Daily Beast and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC picked up the story, with video from People for the American Way’s RightWingWatch.

The conference was organized by Kevin P. Swanson, a minister in Colorado and host of the Generations Radio Show. Swanson is part of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the far-right fundamentalist Christian Reconstructionism movement, which author Walter Olson wrote about at length in 1998. Swanson gave the conference’s opening and closing talks and interviewed Cruz, Jindal, and Huckabee. And in his closing keynote address, Swanson ranted at length about topics that would hardly be characterized as religious liberty:

YES! Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. YES! Romans Chapter 1, Verse 32, the Apostle Paul does say that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words, not mine!  And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to  jail for standing on the truth of the word of God.

To be sure, he did say that “civil leaders” should not apply the death penalty today, not until the culture has changed and gays have been put on notice that they must repent or be put to death. Thanks for small favors, I suppose. But it’s also worth noting that at least two other speakers at the conference likewise have advocated the death penalty for gay people.

And as Maddow notes, this is not just something that the conference host has said in the past, though he had said it plenty of times, as a Google search would have revealed. This is what he said in the keynote address at the conference attended by three candidates for president. 

That wasn’t the full extent of the crazy at the conference. As the gay website Towleroad reported:

Swanson has also said that the government should put gay people to death, warned that the Girl Scouts and the movie “Frozen” turn girls into lesbians and blamed natural disasters on gay people and women who wear pants. Swanson has also said that churches accepting gay couples will lead to the persecution, imprisonment and murder of Christians, and wished for the good ole days when country singer Kacey Musgraves would have been hanged for her pro-gay lyrics.

Jake Tapper asked Cruz about his attendance at the conference, and Cruz responded that he did not “know what this gentleman has said” but that religious liberty is a very important issue. Would Cruz accept that answer from a presidential candidate who spoke at a conference where the host and keynoter yelled “God damn America” or said that Christians should be executed? I doubt it. He should be asked about his participation again, as should Jindal and Huckabee.

And American conservatives should be asked if they find all this acceptable. Can you actually support presidential candidates who stand on such a stage, answering questions from such a person?

If the three Democratic presidential candidates accepted the invitation of, and answered the questions of, an equally extreme leftist, a person who advocated the execution of peaceful people he disliked, conservatives everywhere would be outraged. I hope they start holding their own candidates to the same standard.

Posted on November 12, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

David Boaz discusses guides on WTAN’s Freedom Works with Paul Malloy

Posted on November 11, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

David Boaz discusses the relationship between the Republican candidates and the media on CBS WUSA’s Capital Download

Posted on November 8, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Rush Limbaugh Is Half-Right: Liberals Offer Poorly Thought Out, Emotional Solutions. And So Do Conservatives

Friday afternoon Rush Limbaugh took a call from a conservative teenager who wanted to know how to help his generation “realize what’s happening in our nation.” Rush offered some thoughts, beginning with this:

Liberalism is so easy.  All you have to do is see some suffering and tell everybody that you see it, and that it really bothers you. Right there, you are given great credit for having great compassion, and people will say great things about you.  All you have to do is notice it.  You don’t have to offer a solution.  If you do offer a solution, say, “The government ought to do something,” then they’ll really, really love you. Liberalism’s easy. 

That’s why a lot of people end up going there, is no resistance to it. It doesn’t take any kind of thought because it’s all based in emotion, and thinking is harder than feeling.  Thinking’s an applied process. 

That’s a good point. It is indeed easy to see a problem and say “the government ought to do something.” People don’t make enough money? Raise the minimum wage. Don’t think about what the effects of that might be. Or just increase welfare. And again, don’t think through the long-term effects. IBM is too big? Break it up, even as new competition is about to leave IBM in the dust. Part of the problem here is taking a snapshot view of the world – which at any point will be full of inefficiencies and inequalities— rather than a dynamic view. The world is constantly changing. Economic growth is a process. Things that are first bought only by the rich become cheaper and more available to the middle class and then to everyone. And centralized, compulsory “solutions” to immediate problems may impede growth, improvement, and progress.

But Rush might have mentioned that sometimes “conservatism” is easy, too. All you have to do is see a problem and demand a government program. Some people get in trouble with drugs? Ban ’em. The Middle East is in chaos? Bomb some more countries. Russia is assertive? Stand up to ’em! “It doesn’t take any kind of thought because it’s all based in emotion, and thinking is harder than feeling.  Thinking’s an applied process.” And when you think about it, you might realize that prohibition introduces all sorts of new problems, that the United States can’t control the whole world any more than it can control the American economy, that threatening war with a nuclear-armed Russia might have disastrous consequences.

Yes, thinking is harder than feeling. It’s easy to say, “The government ought to do something.” And both liberals and conservatives default too easily to such easy answers.

Posted on November 7, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

New Video Guide to Libertarianism

I hope everybody’s read my book The Libertarian Mind. Not to mention the companion volume The Libertarian Reader.

But for those who prefer listening or watching videos to reading, I’m excited to announce my new online Introduction to Libertarianism, the first of several Guides to libertarian ideas produced by Each Guide will include an introductory video, a series of video lectures, and a featured book, along with additional reading lists, essays, and links to other materials. Here’s a peek:

Coming soon: Guides on such topics as economics, political philosophy, and public policy, generally with a short original book to accompany the videos. For the Introduction to Libertarianism, the accompanying book is The Libertarian Mind. The 14 short lectures – 10 to 20 minutes each – track the sections of the book:

The Early Roots of Libertarianism

The Classical Liberal Era

The Modern Libertarian Revival

What Rights Do We Have?

The Dignity of the Individual

Pluralism and Toleration

Law and the Constitution

Civil Society

Networks of Trust

The Market Process

The Seen and the Unseen and International Trade

What Big Government Is All About

Public Choice

The Obsolete State

My colleagues at and I have tried to create the best available introduction to libertarianism here in 2015. And by the way, even though it’s called “Introduction,” I think almost any libertarian will find some new and interesting material in both the lectures and The Libertarian Mind.

Read the book! And check out the video lectures at 

Posted on November 5, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Jeb Bush, Obesity, Limited Government, and Me

Before he launched his presidential campaign, Jeb Bush released his emails from his eight years as governor. Now he’s released a 700-page book of selected emails. According to Amazon’s search function, I’m not in the book. But I did have a brief exchange with Governor Bush in 2003. As a libertarian, I wasn’t convinced by his argument. But I was impressed that the governor personally answered an email that I didn’t even send to him but rather to a member of his press staff. Governor Bush announced the creation of the Governor’s Task Force on the Obesity Epidemic, with such goals as:

  1. Recommend ways to promote the recognition of overweight and obesity as a major public health problem in Florida that also has serious implications for Florida’s economic prosperity;
  2. Review data and other research to determine the number of Florida’s children who are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight;
  3. Identify the contributing factors to the increasing burden of overweight and obesity in Florida;
  4. Recommend ways to help Floridians balance healthy eating with regular physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy or healthier body weight;
  5. Identify and research evidenced-based strategies to promote lifelong physical activity and lifelong healthful nutrition, and to assist those who are already overweight or obese to maintain healthy lifestyles;
  6. Identify effective and culturally appropriate interventions to prevent and treat overweight and obesity;

When the announcement of this task force reached my inbox, courtesy of the governor’s office press list, I had this exchange (read from the bottom):

From: Jeb Bush [mailto:jeb [at]]
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 8:05 PM
To: David Boaz
Cc: jill.bratina [at]
Subject: FW: Executive Order Number 03-196

David, the reason for this is that obesity creates huge costs to government. If you believe in limited government, you should support initiatives that reduce it. I know you believe that it is not the role of government to deal with these demands, which I respect, but until you win the day, we need to respond to the challenge.


—–Original Message—–
From: David Boaz [mailto:dboaz [at]]
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 10:30 AM
To: DiPietre, Jacob
Subject: RE: Executive Order Number 03-196

Why is what I eat any of the government’s business? This is the very definition of big government.

—–Original Message—–
From: DiPietre, Jacob [mailto:Jacob.DiPietre [at]]
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 10:21 AM
Subject: Executive Order Number 03-196

DATE: October 15, 2003
TO: Capital Press Corps
FROM: Jill Bratina, Governor’s Communications Director
RE: Executive Order Number 03-196
Please find attached an Executive Order creating the Governor’s Task Force on the Obesity Epidemic.

As I said, I wasn’t persuaded. I’ve written that obesity is not in fact a public health problem. It may be a widespread health problem, but you can’t catch obesity from doorknobs or molecules in the air. And the idea that our personal choices impose costs on government, through semi-socialized medicine and similar programs, has no good stopping point. If obesity is the government’s business, then so are smoking, salt intake, motorcycle riding, insufficient sleep, cooking all the nutrients out of vegetables, and an endless stream of potentially sub-optimal decisions. (I was going to include drinking whole milk, but … well, you know.)

I’m glad to note that last month Jeb Bush said that a federally developed anti-obesity video game, “Mommio,” was a waste of “scarce resources.” Maybe he’s coming around.

Posted on November 4, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

2016 Upsets Typical Republican Succession Formula

Republican presidential campaigns are supposed to be simple. Republicans nominate the next guy in line. More precisely, Republicans nominate the guy who ran second the last time around. (And so far, it’s always been a guy.)

Ronald Reagan in 1980, George Bush in 1988, Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012 — each of them had been the runner-up the last time the GOP nomination was open.

The only exception was George W. Bush in 2000, and that was at least partly because there really was no credible runner-up in 1996. Polemicist Pat Buchanan and publisher Steve Forbes finished with more votes than any other candidates.

And thus, as Michael Kinsley wrote, “it was decided that the Republican candidate for president [in 2000] should be the less impressive of the two political sons of the man who had most recently lost them the White House.”

Three months before the first voting in Iowa, there’s nothing simple about this Republican race.”

And now the Republicans face another year like 2000. No one from the 2012 primaries seems like a credible candidate this year, so the race is wide open. Some thought the rule would be, “If there is no runner-up, nominate the next Bush in line.” But widespread if belated dissatisfaction with the previous Bush presidency has put that plan in jeopardy.

Today Republican voters face a choice among several kinds of candidates.

Leading the polls are two men who have never before sought or held public office, Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Both have a certain appeal but are given to odd, extreme, and offensive comments. Republicans haven’t nominated a non-politician since Dwight Eisenhower, and he had been Supreme Allied Commander during World War II. It’s highly unlikely that Carson, Trump, or Carly Fiorina will make it to the finish line — which means that more than half of Republican voters are not yet committed to any likely nominee.

The second category includes the safe establishment candidates, the fading Jeb Bush and Ohio’s John Kasich. Both have been twice elected governor of a major state. Kasich also chaired the House Budget Committee. Bobby Jindal could have been this group, except that the Rhodes Scholar who ran Louisiana’s health department at 25 decided to play down his 19-year career in public sector management and campaign as a yahoo.

Some observers put Marco Rubio in the establishment category, too. He’s handsome, a good speaker, right at the center of the Republican party ideologically. And safe, like Bush and Kasich. The difference is that Bush and Kasich have records of accomplishment. I have yet to find a Rubio supporter who can cite a single accomplishment as senator or as speaker of the Florida House. That may be a problem as voters come to focus on the more plausible candidates and their records, though first-term senators with thin records have been elected before.

The final category would be the inside outsiders, or the anti-establishment politicians — people with some political experience who still offer a real challenge to the establishment candidates. This fourth group includes senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Like Jindal, Cruz is a product of elite universities campaigning as a tub-thumping preacher. He thinks he can combine evangelical and tea party voters, take libertarian voters from Paul, and then go head-to-head with the last standing establishment candidate.

Paul thinks he can bring out a larger libertarian vote than most observers count on. After all, his more staunchly libertarian father, as a 76-year-old House member, got more than 20 percent of the vote in both Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s making a strong push for college students and independents with his stands on marijuana and criminal justice reform.

Despite the conventional wisdom about Republican hawkishness, Paul thinks there’s an opening for a candidate who’s skeptical of wars in the Middle East and with Russia. He knows that 63 percent of Republicans in a Pew poll — and 79 percent of independents—said that the Iraq war wasn’t worth the costs. Paul and Trump are the only Republican candidates who opposed the Iraq war. In the second debate, Paul said, “If you want boots on the ground, and you want them to be our sons and daughters, you’ve got 14 other choices. There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you if you want to go back to war in Iraq.”

Three months before the first voting in Iowa, there’s nothing simple about this Republican race.

Posted on November 2, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

China Persists in the Myth of Planning

The government of China has launched its 13th five-year plan (known as 13.5), sticking with the form if not the substance of Stalinism. But in our modern and networked world, China wants the world to understand its planning process, so it released this catchy video in American English:

The video explains how comprehensive the planning process is: 

Every five years in China, man
They make a new development plan!
The time has come for number 13.
The shi san wu, that’s what it means!

There’s government ministers and think tank minds
And party leadership contributing finds.

First there’s research, views collected,
Then discussion and views projected.
Reports get written and passed around 

As the plan goes down from high to low,
The government’s experience continues to grow.
They have to work hard and deliberate
Because a billion lives are all at stake!

It must be smart: note the picture of Einstein along with Chinese leaders such as Mao Zedong (around 0:50).

Of course, this “planning process” doesn’t work. In the best of circumstances, it’s no match for a billion producers and consumers making decisions every day about what actions are likely to better their own condition. It’s characterized by bureaucracy, backward-looking decisions, and cronyism. In less-than-ideal circumstances, when the planners are armed with total power and inspired by an ideological belief that they can actually direct the activities of millions of people, as in China from 1949 to 1979, the results are disastrous: poverty, starvation, and even cannibalism. Fortunately, after 1979, the planners led by Deng Xiaoping began to dismantle the system of collective farming and to allow Chinese farmers to make many of their own decisions, and growth took off. Plans work better when they allow individuals to plan.

I wrote about planning in The Libertarian Mind:

It is the absence of market prices that makes socialism unworkable, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out in the 1920s. Socialists have often considered the question of production an engineering question: Just do some calculations to figure out what would be most efficient. It’s true that an engineer can answer a specific question about the production process, such as, What’s the most efficient way to use tin to make a 10-ounce soup can, that is, what shape of can would contain 10 ounces with the smallest surface area? But the economic question—the efficient use of all relevant resources—can’t be answered by the engineer. Should the can be made of aluminum, or of platinum? Everyone knows that a platinum soup can would be ridiculous, but we know it because the price system tells us so. An engineer would tell you that silver wire would conduct electricity better than copper. Why do we use copper? Because it delivers the best results for the cost. That’s an economic problem, not an engineering problem.

Without prices, how would the socialist planner know what to produce? He could take a poll and find that people want bread, meat, shoes, refrigerators, televisions. But how much bread and how many shoes? And what resources should be used to make which goods? “Enough,” one might answer. But, beyond absolute subsistence, how much bread is enough? At what point would people prefer a new pair of shoes to more food? If there’s a limited amount of steel available, how much of it should be used for cars and how much for ovens? What about new goods, which consumers don’t yet know they’d like? And most important, what combination of resources is the least expensive way to produce each good? The problem is impossible to solve in a theoretical model; without the information conveyed by prices, planners are “planning” blind.

In practice, Soviet factory managers had to establish markets illegally among themselves. They were not allowed to use money prices, so marvelously complex systems of indirect exchange—or barter—emerged. Soviet economists identified at least eighty different media of exchange, from vodka to ball bearings to motor oil to tractor tires. The closest analogy to such a clumsy market that Americans have ever encountered was probably the bargaining skill of Radar O’Reilly on the television show M*A*S*H. Radar was also operating in a centrally planned economy—the U.S. Army—and his unit had no money with which to purchase supplies, so he would get on the phone, call other M*A*S*H units, and arrange elaborate trades of surgical gloves for C rations for penicillin for bourbon, each unit trading something it had been overallocated for what it had been underallocated. Imagine running an entire economy like that.

Despite the total failure of total planning, I wrote,

the Holy Grail of planning dies hard among intellectuals. What is President Obama’s health care plan but a central plan for one-seventh of the American economy? [And see also his promise of “strategic decisions about strategic industries.”] President Bill Clinton had offered an even more breathtaking view of the ability and obligation of government to plan the economy:

We ought to say right now, we ought to have a national inventory of the capacity of every… manufacturing plant in the United States: every airplane plant, every small business subcontractor, everybody working in defense.

We ought to know what the inventory is, what the skills of the work force are and match it against the kind of things we have to produce in the next 20 years and then we have to decide how to get from here to there. From what we have to what we need to do.

After the election, a White House aide named Ira Magaziner fleshed out this sweeping vision: Defense conversion would require a twenty-year plan developed by government committees, “a detailed organizational plan… to lay out how, in specific, a proposal like this could be implemented.” Five-year plans, you see, had failed in the Soviet Union; maybe a twenty-year plan would be sufficient to the task.

China’s catchy jingle can’t obscure the fact that central economic planning is a misguided holdover from the era of centralized industries and centralized governments. It’s increasingly backward in a dynamic world of instant communication, global markets, and unprecedented access to information.

Posted on November 2, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

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