Looking through the freedom index data over time, it can look like a depressing series of new laws and restrictions on people's lives. Now, freedom has increased at the state level on certain issues (local gun bans overturned, sodomy laws overturned, medical marijuana laws passed, eminent domain reforms enacted, same-sex partnerships spreading). But there are … Continue reading How New Technologies Enhance Negative Liberty
Stephen Moore has a depressing piece in today's WSJ. Money quote: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 … Continue reading Not an April Fools’ Joke…
Harry Truman (if I recall correctly), frustrated with the economic advice he was receiving from the Council of Economic Advisors, asked for a one-armed economist who could not say “one the one hand…on the other.” Ten former CEA heads have issued a joint letter on the long-term budget crisis: Martin N. Baily (Clinton), Martin S. … Continue reading The CEA and the Long-term Fiscal Crisis
As Congress turns attention to regaining rediscovering discovering fiscal responsibility, one would assume that a good place would be eliminating unnecessary duplication of government effort. Last week, the GAO released a study—the first in what will be a statutorily mandated annual exercise—on waste and duplication. In the first part of the report, the GAO has … Continue reading In Search of Government Waste
I am assuming that most readers of this blog have a commitment to freedom of association and, as a result, are quite willing to accept voluntary self-organization of labor via trade unions in the private sector. Management and labor can negotiate over the terms of the labor contract and, if it appears that higher levels … Continue reading Are Public Sector Unions Different?
“Over the past decades we've talked of curtailing government spending so that we can then lower the tax burden. Sometimes we've even taken a run at doing that. But there were always those who told us that taxes couldn't be cut until spending was reduced. Well, you know, we can lecture our children about extravagance … Continue reading Reagan at 100 (continued): Reaganomics
February 6 was the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth. Several commentators have reflected on the Reagan legacy and, as one might suspect, these assessments have been quite divergent. Some thirty years after Reagan’s first inaugural, there remain many on the right and the left who claim that there was something amounting to a Reagan … Continue reading Reagan at 100
The NY Times has a rather nicely written editorial today honoring Fred Korematsu. As you may recall, Mr. Korematsu was one of citizens interred under FDR’s Executive Order 9066. Initially, he went on the lamb but was ultimately arrested and convicted of violating the internment order. He received 5 years probation and spent the next … Continue reading Fred Korematsu
As Congress prepares to raise the debt ceiling and the recommendations of the U.S. National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform fade from our memories, the credit rating agencies are getting a bit anxious. From today’s WSJ: Moody's Investors Service said in a report that the U.S. will need to reverse an upward trajectory in … Continue reading US Credit Rating and the Day of Reckoning
Professor Krugman has an opinion piece in the NYT today chastising the “Hijacked Commission.” No one who has read Dr. Krugman’s columns before will be at all surprised with his take on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. It may be “bipartisan,” he notes, but this simply means that the commission will be … Continue reading Friday Surprise: Krugman hates the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles foreshadowed some of the ideas currently being circulated within President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with their co-chairs’ proposal (download here). The work of the Commission is critical. The deficit is heading toward the 10.6 percent of GDP (the highest in the postwar period) and the debt … Continue reading The Politics of Fiscal Irresponsibility
I often disagree with Robert Reich, but nonetheless find his arguments quite interesting. From what I gather, his forthcoming book (After Shock) is going to situate the financial collapse and the troubled recovery in a longer record of declining wages (a product of the decline of manufacturing) and growing inequality (a product of these declines … Continue reading Myths of the Fall
Sara Murray (Wall Street Journal) has an interesting piece, “Obstacle to Deficit Cutting: A Nation on Entitlements.” The lead paragraphs lay out the problem: Efforts to tame America's ballooning budget deficit could soon confront a daunting reality: Nearly half of all Americans live in a household in which someone receives government benefits, more than at … Continue reading Living a Life of Entitlement, for Now
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report has been released. You can read a summary in the Washington Post or go directly to download the report and the fascinating data tables here. As one might expect, the US has slipped from first to fourth (of 139 nations) over the past several years. Some of the data … Continue reading Business versus the State: the World Economic Forum
Freddie and Fannie are in the news again. Freddie is currently seeking an additional $1.8 billion in funding (to be added to the $160 billion that has already been spent on the two government sponsored enterprises or GSEs). This recent news has led me to pose an account of how a standard political choice story … Continue reading From Political Exchange to State Vampirism: The GSEs
As commentators begin to read the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, they are discovering some hidden gems. The most recent discoveries: Diversifying the Portfolio (via Carrie Budoff Brown at Politico): Congress gives the federal government authority to terminate contracts with any financial firm that fails to ensure the “fair inclusion” of women … Continue reading What’s in the Sausage?
Democrats heaped praise on the Congressional Budget Office during the health care debates (remember SpeakerPelosi’s breathless excitement over the “scoring” from the “bipartisan” Congressional Budget Office?). The CBO’s newest “Long-term Budget Projections” have not engendered the same level of attention…but it should. The report was released about a month ago and my guess is that … Continue reading “In the Long Run, We’re All Dead.”
A three part series in the Washington Post (“Top Secret America”) should prove quite interesting. Dana Priest andWilliam Arkin are exploring the security state that has emerged in the wake of 9/11. The lead quote: The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, … Continue reading Crisis and Leviathan: the Continuing Saga
Jonah Goldberg is absolutely right today (I don't get to say that too often!). I'm not a binary partisan, but if I were advising the Republican Party, I would tell them it would be foolish to divert any political attention right now from economic issues (such as spending and debt), the growth of government (size and scope), and … Continue reading Cleveland and Goldberg Agree: Stay Focused!
In the 2005 case Gonzales v Raich, the Supreme Court pulled back on its federalism jurisprudence and ruled that the federal government may prosecute someone for growing marijuana at home for personal use under the authority of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress the right to regulate commerce among the several … Continue reading Who’s Afraid of Fiscal Federalism?
For those who followed the neo-Marxist debates on state theory in the 1970s (or were forced to learn about them by one’s professors), one of the more interesting contributions came from James O’Connor's book, The Fiscal Crisis of the State. In essence, O’Connor argued that the state must simultaneously execute two conflicting functions: an accumulation … Continue reading Monday Morning with Marx
I remember a few decades ago when figuring out how a given regulatory agency functioned (or failed to function) required endless hours in the library stacks, paging through poorly bound government documents. Life has become far simpler thanks to the combined efforts of regulators and youtube. To celebrate Earth Day, the EPA stepped into the … Continue reading The Revolution will be Televised (on youtube)
The blog begins! There are many things that I find particularly infuriating but one of the greatest is the complete disregard for the long-term fiscal impacts of our policy decisions. Assuming that there are only two kinds of taxes—those we pay now and those we impose on future generations—I find the growing deficit and debt … Continue reading Longing for that Skinflint, FDR?