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  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: While Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and private subprime lenders have deservedly garnered the bulk of attention and blame for the mortgage crisis, other federal programs also distort our mortgage market and put taxpayers at risk of having to finance massive financial bailouts. The most prominent of these risky agencies is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The recent financial crisis was characterized by losses in nearly every type of investment vehicle. Yet no product has attracted as much attention as the subprime mortgage.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steven Horwitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Politicians and pundits portray Herbert Hoover as a defender of laissez faire governance whose dogmatic commitment to small government led him to stand by and do nothing while the economy collapsed in the wake of the stock market crash in 1929. In fact, Hoover had long been a critic of laissez faire. As president, he doubled federal spending in real terms in four years. He also used government to prop up wages, restricted immigration, signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, raised taxes, and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation-all interventionist measures and not laissez faire. Unlike many Democrats today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's advisers knew that Hoover had started the New Deal. One of them wrote, "When we all burst into Washington ... we found every essential idea [of the New Deal] enacted in the 100-day Congress in the Hoover administration itself."
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Jim Harper
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Government transparency is a widely agreed upon goal, but progress on achieving it has been very limited. Transparency promises from political leaders such as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have not produced a burst of information that informs stronger public oversight of government. One reason for this is the absence of specifically prescribed data practices that will foster transparency.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Politics, Communications, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Recently, the Federal Reserve has significantly altered the procedures and goals that it had followed for decades. It has more than doubled its balance sheet, paid interest to banks on reserves held as deposits with the Fed, made decisions about which institutions to prop up and which should be allowed to fail, invested in assets that expose taxpayers to large losses, and raised questions about how it will avoid inflation despite an unprecedented increase in the monetary base.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon, Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The traditional model of medical delivery, in which the doctor is trained, respected, and compensated as an independent craftsman, is anachronistic. When a patient has multiple ailments, there is no longer a simple doctor patient or doctor-patient-specialist relationship. Instead, there are multiple specialists who have an impact on the patient, each with a set of interdependencies and difficult coordination issues that increase exponentially with the number of ailments involved.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: When Massachusetts passed its pioneering health care reforms in 2006, critics warned that they would result in a slow but steady spiral downward toward a government-run health care system. Three years later, those predictions appear to be coming true: Although the state has reduced the number of residents without health insurance, 200,000people remain uninsured. Moreover, the increase in the number of insured is primarily due to the state's generous subsidies, not the celebrated individual mandate. Health care costs continue to rise much faster than the national average. Since 2006, total state health care spending has increased by28 percent. Insurance premiums have increased by 8–10 percent per year, nearly double the national average. New regulations and bureaucracy are limiting consumer choice and adding to healthcare costs. Program costs have skyrocketed. Despite tax increases, the program faces huge deficits. The state is considering caps on insurance premiums, cuts in reimbursements to providers, and even the possibility of a “global budget” on health care spending—with its attendant rationing. A shortage of providers, combined with increased demand, is increasing waiting times to see a physician. With the “Massachusetts model” frequently cited as a blueprint for health care reform, it is important to recognize that giving the government greater control over our health care system will have grave consequences for taxpayers, providers, and health care consumers. That is the lesson of the Massachusetts model.
  • Topic: Health, Human Welfare, Markets, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The administration has likened President Obama's high-speed rail plan to President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System. Yet there are crucial differences between interstate highways and high-speed rail. First, before Congress approved the Interstate Highway System, it had a good idea how much it would cost. In contrast, Congress approved $8 billion for high-speed rail without knowing the total cost, which is likely to be at least $90 billion.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The most hazardous health reform measure before Congress is not the so-called "public option," but proposals to make health insurance compulsory via an individual or employer mandate. Compulsory health insurance could require nearly 100 million Americans to switch to a more expensive health plan and would therefore violate President Barack Obama's pledge to let people keep their current health insurance. In particular, the legislation before Congress could eliminate many or all health savings account plans. Making health insurance compulsory would also spark an unnecessary fight over abortion and would enable government to ration care to those with private health insurance.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Sometime in 2010 or 2011, Congress expects to decide how to spend the $250 billion or more of federal gas taxes and other highway user fees that will be collected over the next six years. The process of doing so is called surface transportation reauthorization. A major point of contention in this law is how much of our transportation system should be centrally planned and how much should be built and operated in response to the needs of actual transportation users.
  • Topic: Economics, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Critics have raised a number of theoretical and historical objections to the gold standard. Some have called the gold standard a “crazy” idea. The gold standard is not a flawless monetary system. Neither is the fiat money alternative. In light of historical evidence about the comparative magnitude of these flaws, however, the gold standard is a policy option that deserves serious consideration.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Glen Whitman
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The World Health Report 2000, prepared by the World Health Organization, presented performance rankings of 191 nations' health care systems. These rankings have been widely cited in public debates about health care, particularly by those interested in reforming the U.S. health care system to resemble more closely those of other countries. Michael Moore, for instance, famously stated in his film SiCKO that the United States placed only 37th in the WHO report. CNN.com, in verifying Moore's claim, noted that France and Canada both placed in the top 10.
  • Topic: Health, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, International Organization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Healthcare reform will be one of the top issues of the 2008 presidential election. In the face of widespread public demand for changes in the U.S. health care system, both Barack Obama and John McCain have offered detailed proposals for reform.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the past, the federal government has introduced moral hazard in the banking system through deposit insurance. Banks underpriced risk because of the federal guarantee that backed deposits. After banking crises in the 1980s and 1990s, deposit insurance was put on a sound basis and that source of moral hazard was mitigated. In its place, monetary policy has become a source of moral hazard. In acting to counter the economic effects of declining asset prices, the Federal Reserve has come to be viewed as underwriting risky investments. Policy pronouncements by senior Fed officials have reinforced that perception. These actions and pronouncements are mutually reinforcing and destructive to the operation of financial markets. The current financial crisis began in the subprime housing market and then spread throughout credit markets. The new Fed policy fueled the housing boom. Refusing to accept responsibility for the housing bubble, the Fed's recent actions will likely fuel a new asset bubble. The cumulative effects of recent monetary policy undermine the case for free markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: T.J. Rodgers
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has passed rules that it promises will make corporate accounting more transparent. In fact, its revised Generally Accepted Accounting Principles have made it difficult for investors — or even CEOs — to understand a company's financial report.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac crisis may have been the most avoidable financial crisis in history. Economists have long complained that the risks posed by the government-sponsored enterprises were large relative to any social benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Rising gas prices and concerns about greenhouse gases have stimulated calls to build more rail transit lines in urban areas, increase subsidies to Amtrak, and construct a large-scale intercity high-speed rail system. These megaprojects will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but they won't save energy or significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (IL) has proposed an ambitious plan to restructure America's health care sector. Rather than engage in a detailed critique of Obama's health care plan, many critics prefer to label it "socialized medicine." Is that a fair description of the Obama plan and similar plans? Over the past year, prominent media outlets and respectable think tanks have investigated that question and come to a unanimous answer: no.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David R. Henderson, Jeffrey Hummel
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Is Alan Greenspan to blame for the current housing bubble and the ongoing financial crisis? A growing chorus charges the former Federal Reserve chairman with being an "inflationist" whose loose monetary policy caused or significantly contributed to our current economic troubles. However, although Greenspan's policies weren't perfect, his monetary policy was in fact tight, and his legacy is one of having overseen low and stable inflation and a striking dampening of the business cycle.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As policymakers confront the ongoing U.S. financial crisis, it is important to take a step back and understand its origins. Those who fault "deregulation," "unfettered capitalism," or "greed" would do well to look instead at flawed institutions and misguided policies. The expansion in risky mortgages to under qualified borrowers was encouraged by the federal government. The growth of "creative" nonprime lending followed Congress's strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act, the Federal Housing Administration's loosening of down-payment standards, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's pressuring lenders to extend mortgages to borrowers who previously would not have qualified.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Randal O'Tool
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: California cities have the least affordable housing and the most congested traffic in the nation. California's housing crisis results directly from several little-known state institutions, including local agency formation commissions (LAFCos), which regulate annexations and the formation of new cities and service districts; the California Environmental Quality Act, which imposes high costs on new developments; and a 1971 state planning law that effectively entitles any resident in the state to a say in how property owners in the state use their land. Cities such as San Jose have manipulated these institutions and laws with the goal of maximizing their tax revenues.
  • Topic: Demographics, Environment, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Justin Logan, Ted Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Taiwan spends far too little on its own defense, in large part because the Taiwanese believe the United States is their ultimate protector. The Taiwan legislature's six-year delay and severe down- sizing of a budget to pay for weapons systems that Washington has offered the island since 2001 is only one piece of evidence of Taiwan's free riding. Although Taiwan recently approved roughly US$300 million of the original budget of about $18 billion, the underlying problem remains: even with the new appropriation, Taiwan's overall investment in defense—approximately 2.6 percent of GDP—is woefully inadequate, given the ongoing tensions with mainland China. America is now in the unenviable position of having an implicit commitment to defend a fellow democracy that seems largely uninterested in defending itself.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia
  • Author: Bryan Caplan
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In theory, democracy is a bulwark against socially harmful policies. In practice, however, democracies frequently adopt and maintain policies that are damaging. How can this paradox be explained? The influence of special interests and voter ignorance are two leading explanations. I offer an alternative story of how and why democracy fails. The central idea is that voters are worse than ignorant; they are, in a word, irrational—and they vote accordingly. Despite their lack of knowledge, voters are not humble agnostics; instead, they confidently embrace a long list of misconceptions.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Daryl Press
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many Americans have lost confidence in their country's “energy security” over the past several years. Because the United States is a net oil importer, and a substantial one at that, concerns about energy security naturally raise foreign policy questions. Some foreign policy analysts fear that dwindling global oil reserves are increasingly concentrated in politically unstable regions, and they call for increased U.S. efforts to stabilize—or, alter-natively, democratize—the politically tumultuous oil-producing regions. Others allege that China is pursuing a strategy to “lock up” the world's remaining oil supplies through long-term purchase agreements and aggressive diplomacy, so they counsel that the United States outmaneuver Beijing in the “geopolitics of oil.” Finally, many analysts suggest that even the “normal” political disruptions that occasionally occur in oil-producing regions (e.g., occasional wars and revolutions) hurt Americans by disrupting supply and creating price spikes. U.S. military forces, those analysts claim, are needed to enhance peace and stability in crucial oil-producing regions, particularly the Persian Gulf.
  • Topic: Security, Oil, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Ted Galen Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. military occupation of Iraq has now lasted longer than U.S. involvement in World War II. Yet there is no end in sight to the mission. Staying in Iraq is a fatally flawed policy that has already cost more than 3,000 American lives and consumed more than $350 billion. The security situation in that country grows increasingly chaotic and bloody as evidence mounts that Iraq has descended into a sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Approximately 120 Iraqis per day are perishing in political violence. That bloodshed is occurring in a country of barely 26 million people. A comparable rate of carnage in the United States would produce more than 1,400 fatalities per day.
  • Topic: Security, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: Alan Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: There are frequent complaints that U.S. income inequality has increased in recent decades. Estimates of rising inequality that are widely cited in the media are often based on federal income tax return data. Those data appear to show that the share of U.S. income going to the top 1 percent (those people with the highest incomes) has increased substantially since the 1970s.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Justin Logan
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It appears increasingly likely that the Bush administration's diplomatic approach to Iran will fail to prevent Iran from going nuclear and that the United States will have to decide whether to use military force to attempt to delay Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability. Some analysts have already been promoting air strikes against Iran, and the Bush administration has pointed out repeatedly that the military option is “on the table.” This paper examines the options available to the United States in the face of a prospective final diplomatic collapse.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Economics, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Ted Galen Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: There is a growing tension between two U .S. objectives in Afghanistan. The most important objective is—or at least should be—the eradication of the remaining Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in that country. But the United States and its coalition partners are now also emphasizing the eradication of Afghanistan's drug trade. These antidrug efforts may fatally undermine the far more important anti-terrorism campaign.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Taliban
  • Author: Ted Galen Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Bush administration has gone from one extreme to the other with regard to U.S. policy on Taiwan. During the early months of his administration, the president gave a seemingly unconditional pledge to defend Taiwan from attack by mainland China—going significantly further than his predecessors had. He followed that assurance by approving the largest arms sales package to Taiwan in nearly a decade. In marked contrast to the Clinton years, high-profile visits by Taiwanese leaders to the United States have been encouraged, despite Beijing's protests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Subodh Atal
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Despite progress in the return of refugees and the prevention of humanitarian disasters, stability in Afghanistan is threatened by ethnic tension, feuding warlords, and violence perpetrated by regrouping elements of the Taliban and their allies. The United States is being asked to increase its level of commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan as a means of stabilizing the country, even as American troops battle the resurgent Islamic extremists who operate along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America, Middle East, Taliban, Arabia
  • Author: Ian Vásquez, John Welborn
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is a government agency that provides loans and investment insurance to U.S. companies doing business around the world. Its four-year, renewable charter will expire in September 2003. Proponents of OPIC claim that the agency helps the U.S. economy and promotes economic development abroad.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles V. Peña
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The rationale for missile defense put forward by its advocates is often a “doom and gloom” picture: America and its citizens are defenseless against the threat of ballistic missiles, and missile defense is supposed to protect the American people. The administration's vision of missile defense is not just a global system that protects the United States against long-range missiles but a global system capable of engaging all classes of ballistic missiles to protect U.S. forces deployed worldwide, U.S. allies, and other friendly countries. Thus, the purpose of missile defense is extended well beyond protecting America and Americans.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Doug Bandow
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Ever since North Korea's dramatic revelation that it was producing materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons, the Bush administration has considered a range of policy options—including a military strike on North Korean nuclear facilities. Although the administration officially dismisses such talk, President Bush has left the military option on the table, and influential advisers outside of the administration have openly called for military action along the lines of the Israeli attack on Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osirak in 1981.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Israel, North Korea
  • Author: Ivan Eland
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: China's economy is four times the size of Taiwan's and apparently growing at a faster rate; that economic disparity between China and Taiwan could eventually lead to a military disparity as well. Nonetheless, even an informal U.S. security guarantee for Taiwan against nuclear-armed China is ill-advised. Taiwan is not strategically essential to America's national security. Moreover, China has significant incentives to avoid attacking Taiwan. Perhaps the most crucial is that hostile behavior toward Taiwan would jeopardize China's increasing economic linkage with the United States and other key countries.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Eric R. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As war with Iraq becomes imminent, U.S. military readiness takes center stage. Concerns about readiness focus not only on our ability to successfully attack Iraq but on our ability to defend U.S. forces against an enemy regime that, if its existence is threatened, could have every incentive to use weapons of mass destruction. In any war with Iraq, military experts worry most about attacks with chemical and biological weapons. They have reason to worry, given the U.S. military's lack of preparedness for such attacks.
  • Topic: Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: James W. Harris
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Intelligence is often cited as a critical element in the war against terrorism and, indeed, it is. The U.S. intelligence community has a golden opportunity to develop the capabilities that will make a decisive difference in a war that may last a generation or more. The adversary will not disappear as the campaign to root the al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan winds down. It is essential that intelligence make the transition to the longer-term fight, and the time to begin that transition is at hand.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • 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: Doug Bandow
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Although the House of Saud, Saudi Arabia's royal family, has long leaned toward the West, it is a corrupt totalitarian regime at sharp variance with America's most cherished values. Despite the well-publicized ties between the two governments, Saudi Arabia has seldom aided, and often hamstrung, U.S. attempts to combat terrorism.
  • Topic: Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Edward Hudgins, Charles V. Peña
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Control of space is at the crux of the debate about the future of U.S. military space policy. The question is not about militarizing space. Clearly, we have been using and will continue to use space for military purposes. But, whereas we are currently using space assets to support terrestrial (ground, sea, and air) military operations, what Sen. Robert C. Smith (R-N.H.), the Space Commission (which was chaired by current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld), and others have proposed is that the United States move toward “weaponizing” space for space control.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Ted Galen Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: When he pledged to do whatever was necessary—even use U.S. military forces—to help Taiwan defend itself, President George W. Bush seemingly replaced Washington's long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” with a policy of strategic clarity. Although the president and his advisers subsequently retreated from his initial rhetorical stance, both China and Taiwan are likely to believe that Bush's original statement accurately reflects U.S. policy. That creates an extremely dangerous situation for the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Ivan Eland, Daniel Lee
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Clinton administration underestimated the technological ability of several of the “rogue” states to develop long-range missiles and politicized its intelligence estimate. However, missile threats to the United States from any one of those states also depend on the intentions of that state and political developments that might affect those intentions.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Doug Bandow
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As the world becomes a less dangerous place for America, U.S. officials work more desperately to preserve America's pervasive international military presence. This policy is evident in the Philippines, with which Washington recently concluded a Visiting Forces Agreement.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Asia, Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), joined by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), have introduced legislation adding new regulations on campaign finance. Their proposed law bans “soft money” going to political parties, restricts advertising by for-profit corporations and labor unions, and greatly increases the ambit of federal election law.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stephen Moore, Stephen Slivinski
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This report presents the findings of the Cato Institute's fifth biennial fiscal policy report card on the nation's governors. The grading mechanism is based on purely objective measures of each governor's fiscal performance. Those governors with the most fiscally conservative records— the tax and budget cutters—receive the highest grades. Those who have increased spending and taxes the most receive the lowest grades.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Ronald J. Sutherland
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Critics of the oil industry allege that the industry receives large and unwarranted government subsidies and that rival technologies, such as those for ethanol, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, deserve compensating government preferences. The evidence indicates that, on balance, the oil industry is not a net beneficiary of government subsidies. The facts point in the opposite direction. The oil industry is more harmed than helped by government intervention in energy markets.
  • Topic: Environment, Government, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Doug Bandow
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The recent summit meeting between South Korean president Kim Dae Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il raises the prospect that the Cold War on the Korean Peninsula may at last be coming to an end. Although the latest effort at détente could ultimately abort as did similar initiatives in the 1970s and early 1990s, North Korea's dire economic straits probably leave the Stalinist state little choice this time but to open itself to the outside world and seek trade and investment from its prosperous, democratic South Korean rival.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Israel, Asia, South Korea, Latin America, Korean Peninsula
  • Author: Gene Healy
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In his classic 1973 book The Imperial Presidency, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. warned that the American political system was threatened by “a conception of presidential power so spacious and peremptory as to imply a radical transformation of the traditional polity.” America's rise to global dominance and Cold War leadership, Schlesinger explained, had dangerously concentrated power in the presidency, transforming the Framers' energetic but constitutionally constrained chief executive into a sort of elected emperor with virtually unchecked authority in the international arena.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Darcy Ann Olsen, Matthew J. Brouillette
  • Publication Date: 12-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Demand for alternatives to state-run schools has swelled over the past decade, as witnessed by rising poll numbers favoring increased choice and by the creation of new charter schools, voucher programs, education tax credits, homeschools, and private scholarship funds. Despite mounting demand, however, such alternatives reach relatively few students. Charters and vouchers, for instance, serve only 2 percent of school children nationwide.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Eric R. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 12-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In 1996 the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Act on domestic preparedness for terrorism using weapons of mass destruction. That law directs various departments and agencies of the federal government to make available to state and local governments training and equipment to respond to acts of terrorism involving the use of radiological, biological, and chemical weapons. The program—costing tens of billions of dollars per year—seeks to train local law enforcement, fire, medical, and other emergency response personnel to deal with such an attack against the American public.
  • Topic: Security, National Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Carrie Lips
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Education companies, or “edupreneurs,” are entering the education marketplace in droves with creative, cost efficient products and services for students of all ages. This rapidly expanding industry, which constitutes approximately 10 percent of the $740 billion education market, demonstrates that private enterprises, even when competing against a monopolistic system, can deliver a wide range of affordable high-quality educational services. This study provides a glimpse of the products, services, and innovations that a fully competitive marketplace could generate if the government's stranglehold on education were loosened.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alan Reynolds, Robert A. Levy
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's final judgment in the Microsoft case indicates that he has fallen hook, line, and sinker for the government's flawed arguments. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is unlikely to be so accommodating. The Justice Department's case will crumble as a result of procedural errors, flawed fact-finding, wrongheaded legal conclusions, and Jackson's preposterous plan to break up the software company most directly responsible for America's high-tech revolution.
  • Topic: Government, Industrial Policy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • 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: Victor M. Gobarev
  • Publication Date: 09-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: American interest in and concerns about India rose sharply after that country carried out underground nuclear tests in May 1998. Clinton administration officials belatedly acknowledged that developing a good working relationship with India should be one of America's top foreign policy priorities. President Clinton's visit to South Asia in March 2000 was an important symbolic step.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, South Asia, Washington, India
  • Author: Charles V. Peña
  • Publication Date: 09-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Sea-based missile defense is being advocated as an alternative to the Clinton administration\'s limited land-based national missile defense (NMD), which is in the early stages of testing. Proponents of sea-based NMD (which is only a concept, not a program) argue that such a system can be deployed more quickly and will be less expensive than the Clinton administration\'s land-based system. Some argue that the Navy Theater Wide (NTW) system—which is being designed to provide midcourse intercept capability against slower, shorter-range theater ballistic missiles—can be upgraded to attack longrange intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in their boost phase (when under powered flight at the beginning of their trajectories). Interestingly enough, advocates of sea-based NMD include not only traditional supporters of missile defense but also people who were previously opposed to missile defense.
  • Topic: Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ronald D. Rotunda
  • Publication Date: 09-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The 1972 Biological Toxins and Weapons Convention—often called the Biological Weapons Convention, or BWC—requires the signatories to renounce the development, employment, transfer, acquisition, production, and possession of all biological weapons listed in the convention.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Ivan Eland
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Not all proposals for deploying a national missile defense live up to their name. Many are for “international” missile defense systems that would also defend U.S. allies and “friends,” even though they are wealthy enough to build their own missile defenses. For example, some policymakers and analysts on both the left and the right advocate sea-based missile defense as a substitute for the Clinton administration's limited land-based system, which is designed to protect only the territory of the United States. Conservatives would like to build a more comprehensive, layered defense consisting of sea- and space-based weapons or land-, sea-, and space-based weapons. George W. Bush, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is clear that he wants a comprehensive defense to defend U.S. allies and seems to favor the latter approach.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Christopher Layne, Benjamin Schwarz
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: One year after NATO ended its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, the Clinton administration's Kosovo policy is a conspicuous failure. Kosovo is now the scene of a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by NATO's erstwhile de facto ally, the Kosovo Liberation Army, an organization profoundly inimical to America's interests and professed values. The KLA is also currently fomenting an insurgency elsewhere in Serbia, which promises to destabilize the Balkans even further.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Genocide
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Balkans
  • Author: Mark A. Groombridge
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. Congress is in the historic position of being able to help pro-reform leaders in China move their country in a market-oriented direction. A vote to grant China permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status will bolster the position of those leaders in Beijing who are attempting to deepen and broaden the scope of China's two-decade experiment with economic reform. Granting PNTR and China's subsequent accession to the World Trade Organization will benefit, not only the United States and the world trading community, but most directly the citizens of China, millions of whom are still mired in abject poverty.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing, Asia
  • Author: Paul Benjamin
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War, a fundamental shift in national security policy has taken place in the United States. No longer restricting itself to such issues as military alliances, the strategic behavior of other great powers, and nuclear strike capabilities, security policy now tackles environmental degradation, poverty, infectious diseases, drug use, and other problems. Moreover, it increasingly posits them as threats to the national security of the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Earl C. Ravenal
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The tendency of both the Clinton administration and its Republican opponents to frame foreign policy as a compromise between “global policeman” and “isolationism” misses the point entirely. The real issue is what the United States commits itself to defend—and whether it is actually willing to incur the costs and risks required to fulfill such commitments. Structural changes in the international system already greatly limit the options of U.S. policymakers.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ivan Eland, Timothy M. Beard
  • Publication Date: 02-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Although the end of the Cold War reduced the likelihood of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers, several smaller rogue states, through their dedicated efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, have emerged as potential threats to U.S. national security. National Intelligence Estimate 95-19 stated that no new missile threats to the United States would develop before 2010. However, given the curious circumstances of the estimate's release and the many analytical faults contained in the document, its results have been questioned.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ivan Eland
  • Publication Date: 12-1998
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: According to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, terrorism is the most important threat the United States and the world face as the 21st century begins. High-level U.S. officials have acknowledged that terrorists are now more likely to be able to obtain and use nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons than ever before.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anna J. Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 08-1998
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury Department's Exchange Stabilization Fund are undemocratic institutions unaccountable for their actions. Their current functions have little to do with their original missions. The ESF is used by the executive branch to circumvent Congress in the provision of foreign aid. Its foreign exchange interventions have, in any event, always been wasteful and ineffective at controlling the relative price of the U.S. dollar. The IMF has also been used to provide massive bailouts in the cases of Mexico in 1995 and of Asian countries since 1997. Defenders of the IMF as an international lender of last resort are misinformed since the IMF does not and cannot serve that purpose. Both institutions should be abolished, not reformed, because they are not needed to resolve currency crises and they preclude superior solutions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Mexico