Archive for the ‘Cato Institute’ Category

Michael D. Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, has a new article arguing that for many people in the US it pays off not to work.

Welfare Can Make More Sense than Work

We shouldn’t blame welfare recipients. By not working, they are simply responding rationally to the incentive systems our public policy-makers have established.


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Since 1995, from time to time the Pew Research Center has asked the American public whether they regard the government as a threat to freedom. While the wording has been changed slightly over time, the question is something like “Do you think the federal government threatens your own personal rights and freedoms, or not?”. The share of people who answered yes increased between 1995 and 2000, then dropped in the aftermath of 9/11, but has now reached an all-time high with 53 percent.

Is Government a Threat to Our Freedom?

As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.

The finding reminds me of a famous quote by Thomas Jefferson (actually by John Basil Barnhill):

When governments fear the people, there is liberty.
When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.

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The other day I came across a 14-year old article written by the former Harvard professor Robert Nozick for the Cato Policy Report. It attempts to give a simple explanation for why many intellectuals oppose capitalism:

Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism

Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people, the ones with the highest merit, and that society should reward people in accordance with their value and merit. But a capitalist society does not satisfy the principle of distribution “to each according to his merit or value.”

The intellectual wants the whole society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well and was so well appreciated. By incorporating standards of reward that are different from the wider society, the schools guarantee that some will experience downward mobility later.

Those at the top of the school’s hierarchy will feel entitled to a top position, not only in that micro-society but in the wider one, a society whose system they will resent when it fails to treat them according to their self-prescribed wants and entitlements. The school system thereby produces anti-capitalist feeling among intellectuals.

The article is much in line with some of my previous posts on Thomas Sowell’s discussion of intellectuals or of elitist thinking.

They have every incentive to believe they are brighter than other people, and know more than other people because they have been told that all their lives.

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With only a couple of days until the United States will face its next presidential election, Daniel J. Mitchell from the Cato Institute summarizes President Obama’s (lack of) success with respect to the labor market:

A Four-Picture Indictment: Final Pre-Election Jobs Report Is Not Good News for Obama

Obama should not be blamed for the depth of a recession that began before he took office. But he should be held at least somewhat accountable for an anemic recovery. Particularly since he promised “hope” and “change” and then continued the big-spending, pro-cronyism policies of the Bush years.

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Some weeks ago Daniel J. Mitchell, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, presented a brilliant cartoon on his blog, summarizing the logic (or lack thereof) of Keynesian economics:

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Experts from the Cato Institute analyze and discuss President Obama’s State of the Union Address 2012:

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Great quotation by David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute:

You learn the essence of libertaria​nism – which is also the essence of civilizati​on – in kindergart​en: Don’t hit other people, don’t take their stuff, and keep your promises. Most people understand​ that idea in their personal lives. Now, if only we could get people to apply it to public policy.

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tax haven

Daniel J. Mitchell, senior fellow of the Cato Institute, discusses the morality and necessity of tax havens:

Are Tax Havens Moral or Immoral?

Actually, there are lots of people who have very compelling reasons to keep their money in havens, and only a tiny minority of them are escaping onerous tax burdens.

Unfortunately, Mitchell does not really discuss the pros and cons but just focuses on the upsides. Clearly, American citizens who hide their wealth in order to avoid taxation are committing a crime. No discussion.

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Daniel Mitchell from the Cato Institute provides a good example of how to abuse statistics:

Obama’s Failure on Jobs: Four Damning Charts

President Obama may have a buddy-buddy relationship with big labor, but he’s no friend to ordinary workers.

Sure, his first figure beautifully shows the tremedous failure of Obama’s stimulus plan. But with regards to the other three, Mitchell simply ignores that America’s economy benefited from a false boom during the Bush presidency. To a large extent, Obama simply inherited the mess. Unfortunately, however, he has done more to worsen rather than to improve the situation.

But criticizing him with shady statistics is certainly not the way to handle this. Instead, I would first recommend rereading Gary King’s two brilliant articles (1986, 2008).

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what shift right

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, sheds some light on recent talks about America’s big shift right:

What shift right?

In politics, maybe. In the actual size of government, no.


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