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  • Author: Daniel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Some policymakers in the United States and Europe argue that it is possible to enjoy economic growth and also have a large welfare state. These advocates for bigger government claim that the so- called Nordic Model offers the best of both worlds. This claim does not withstand scrutiny. Economic performance in Nordic nations is lagging, and excessive government is the most likely explanation. The public sector in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland consumes, on average, more than 48 percent of economic output. Total government outlays in the United States, by contrast, are less than 37 percent of gross domes- tic product. Revenue comparisons are even more striking. Tax receipts average more than 45 per- cent of GDP in Nordic nations, a full 20 percent- age points higher than the aggregate tax burden in the United States.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Will Wilkinson
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: “Happiness research” studies the correlates of subjective well-being, generally through survey methods. A number of psychologists and social scientists have drawn upon this work recently to argue that the American model of relatively limited government and a dynamic market economy corrodes happiness, whereas Western European and Scandinavian-style social democracies pro- mote it. This paper argues that happiness research in fact poses no threat to the relatively libertarian ideals embodied in the U.S. socioeconomic system. Happiness research is seriously hampered by confusion and disagreement about the definition of its subject as well as the limitations inherent in current measurement techniques. In its present state happiness research cannot be relied on as an authoritative source for empirical information about happiness, which, in any case, is not a simple empirical phenomenon but a cultural and historical moving target. Yet, even if we accept the data of happiness research at face value, few of the alleged redistributive policy implications actually follow from the evidence. The data show that neither higher rates of government redistribution nor lower levels of income inequality make us happier, whereas high levels of economic freedom and high average incomes are among the strongest correlates of subjective well- being. Even if we table the damning charges of questionable science and bad moral philosophy, the American model still comes off a glowing success in terms of happiness.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Veronique de Rugy, Charles V. Peña
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The threat of direct terrorist attack against the United States proved to be real. And the subsequent anthrax cases point to the possibility of a future bioterrorist attack, including use of the deadly smallpox virus. The nature of terrorism is such that it is impossible to accurately predict the probability of such an attack, but the potential consequences are catastrophic. Therefore, it is a serious threat that deserves serious attention.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Doug Bandow
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States possesses the most powerful military on earth, one that has proved its potency in ousting the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. Yet, even as the military was gearing up to perform so well, some people were calling for a return to conscription or, more dramatically, for institution of mandatory national service for all young people.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Europe, Taliban
  • Author: Gary T. Dempsey
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since September 11, 2001, there have been calls from various quarters to embrace nation building as a tool for combating terrorism. The logic behind the idea is that “good” states do not do “bad” things, so Washington should build more “good” states. That idea, however, relies on several dubious assumptions—for example, that embarking on multiple nation-building missions will reduce the potential for anti-American terrorism. If anything, nation building is likely to create more incentives, targets, and opportunities for terrorism, not fewer. The nation-building idea also draws on false analogies with the past. For example, some people assert that Europe's experience under the Marshall Plan can be readily duplicated in a whole host of countries and that, with enough economic aid, trained bureaucrats, and military force of arms, “bad” states anywhere can be transformed into open, self-sustaining, peaceful states.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe, Washington
  • Author: Charles V. Peña
  • Publication Date: 12-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: To prosecute the war on terrorism, President Bush has assembled a diverse coalition of countries for political, diplomatic, and military support. Some of those countries are long-standing friends and allies of the United States. Others have new or changing relationships with the United States. Although there may be a price for their support, America should not pay an excessive price—one that could be detrimental to longer-term U.S. national security interests. And though it may be necessary to provide a certain amount of immediate aid (directly or indirectly) as a quid pro quo for the support of other nations in our war on terrorism, the United States needs to avoid longer-term entanglements, openended commitments, and the potential for an extreme anti-American backlash.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, America, Europe, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Stanley Kober
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: One of the top foreign policy priorities of the Clinton administration during the last few years has been strong support for building a pipeline to transport oil from Baku, Azerbaijan, to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. The administration has argued that this pipeline, bypassing other routes going through Russia and Iran, would be the best way for the economically struggling countries of Central Asia to get their energy exports to market, thereby underpinning their newly won independence. Washington also stresses the supposed benefit of having the pipeline run through the territory of a NATO ally, Turkey.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Washington, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Baku
  • Author: Jonathan G. Clarke
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The foreign policy record of the Clinton-Gore administration deserves a less than stellar grade. At the end of the Cold War, there was an extraordinary opportunity to build a new relationship with a democratic Russia; restructure U.S. security policy in both Europe and East Asia to reduce America's burdens and risk exposure; and revisit intractable Cold War–era problems, such as the frosty relations with Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea. The administration's performance must be judged within the context of such an unprecedented opportunity for constructive change.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, Israel, East Asia, Asia, North Korea, Vietnam
  • Author: Charles V. Peña
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Traditionally, strategic offensive arms control and ballistic missile defense have been viewed as mutually exclusive. During the Cold War, the general belief was that anti–ballistic missile (ABM) systems would call into question the ability of the superpowers to successfully survive a first nuclear strike and inflict sufficient damage with a second strike. That is, missile defense could allow one superpower to launch a first strike and then use its defenses to intercept a second strike with the other superpower's surviving warheads—thereby undermining deterrence and stability. Furthermore, the thinking was that this situation would result in a dangerous offensive arms race as each side sought to counter the effects of the other's defenses.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Steve H. Hanke
  • Publication Date: 10-1998
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The devaluation of the Russian ruble this year was predictable, especially considering Russia's poor monetary history. State-manipulated money has been a Russian hallmark since the time of Peter the Great and shows that the country's money problems are endemic and do not depend on who controls the central bank. Czarist, Soviet, and post-Soviet governments have used the central bank printing press to finance deficit spending, resulting in high inflation, confiscation of savings, capital controls, or a combination of the three.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union