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  • Author: Jeffrey Miron
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In November 2012, voters in the states of Colorado and Washington approved ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia are scheduled to consider similar measures in the fall of 2014, and other states may follow suit in the fall of 2016.
  • Topic: War on Drugs, Social Movement, Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Colombia
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Under its “Greenlight Pinellas” proposal, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), which serves Pinellas County, FL, wants to switch its major funding source from a property tax to a sales tax at a rate that will more than double its local tax revenues, and use the added money to build a 24-mile light-rail line and expand bus service. This proposal is extremely and unnecessarily expensive given that buses can provide a superior service to light rail, carrying more passengers more comfortably to more destinations at a far lower cost.
  • Topic: Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Leighton Ku, Brian Bruen
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Claims are sometimes made that immigrants use public benefits, such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, more often than those who are born in the United States. This report provides analyses, using the most recent data from the Census Bureau, that counter these claims. In reality, low-income non-citizen immigrants, including adults and children, are generally less likely to receive public benefits than those who are native-born. Moreover, when non-citizen immigrants receive benefits, the value of benefits they receive is usually lower than the value of benefits received by those born in the United States. The combination of lower average utilization and smaller average benefits indicates that the overall cost of public benefits is substantially less for low-income non-citizen immigrants than for comparable native-born adults and children. The report also explains that the lower use of public benefits by non-citizen immigrants is not surprising, since federal rules restrict immigrants' eligibility for these public benefit programs.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Humanitarian Aid, Markets, Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Brink Lindsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For over a century, the trend line for the long-term growth of the U.S. economy has held remarkably steady. Notwithstanding huge changes over time in economic, social, and political conditions, growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has fluctuated fairly closely around an average annual rate of approximately 2 percent. Looking ahead, however, there are strong reasons for doubting that this historic norm can be maintained.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Opponents of allowing younger workers to privately invest a portion of their Social Security taxes through personal accounts have long pointed to the supposed riskiness of private investment. The volatility of private capital markets over the past several years, and especially recent declines in the stock market, have seemed to bolster their argument.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael B. Rappaport
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The constitutional amendment procedure of Article V is defective because the national convention amendment method does not work. Because no amendment can be enacted without Congress's approval, limitations on the federal government that Congress opposes are virtually impossible to pass. This defect may have prevented the enactment of several constitutional amendments that would have constrained Congress, such as amendments establishing a balanced budget limitation, a line-item veto, or congressional term limits. The increasingly nationalist character of our constitutional charter may not be the result of modern values or circumstances, but an artifact of a distorted amendment procedure. Article V should be reformed to allow two-thirds of the state legislatures to propose a constitutional amendment which would then be ratified or rejected by the states, acting through state conventions or state ballot measures. Such a return of power to the states would militate against our overly centralized government by helping to restore the federalist character of our Constitution. Moreover, a strategy exists that would allow this reform to be enacted.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark Wilson
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The federal government has imposed a minimum wage since 1938, and nearly all the states impose their own minimum wages. These laws prevent employers from paying wages below a mandated level. While the aim is to help workers, decades of economic research show that minimum wages usually end up harming workers and the broader economy. Minimum wages particularly stifle job opportunities for low-skill workers, youth, and minorities, which are the groups that policymakers are often trying to help with these policies.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon, Diane Cohen
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: When a member of Congress introduces legislation, the Constitution requires that legislative proposal to secure the approval of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the president (unless Congress overrides a presidential veto) before it can become law. In all cases, either chamber of Congress may block it.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Governance, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Streetcars are the latest urban planning fad, stimulated partly by the Obama administration's preference for funding transportation projects that promote "livability" (meaning living without automobiles) rather than mobility or cost-effective transportation. Toward that end, the administration wants to eliminate cost-effectiveness requirements for federal transportation grants, instead allowing non-cost-effective grants for projects promoting so-called livability. In anticipation of this change, numerous cities are preparing to apply for federal funds to build streetcar lines.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Government, Political Economy, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas L. Hogan
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Privately issued money can benefit consumers in many ways, particularly in the areas of value stability and product variety. Decentralized currency production can benefit consumers by reducing inflation and increasing economic stability. Unlike a central bank, competing private banks must attract customers by providing innovative products, restricting the quantity of notes issued, and limiting the riskiness of their investing activities. Although the Federal Reserve currently has a de facto monopoly on the provision of currency in the United States, this was not always the case. Throughout most of U.S. history, private banks issued their own banknotes as currency. This practice continues today in a few countries and could be reinstituted in the United States with minimal changes to the banking system.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Trevor Burrus
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Public broadcasting has been in critics' crosshairs since its creation in 1967. Assailed from all sides with allegations of bias, charges of political influence, and threats to defund their operations, public broadcasters have responded with everything from outright denial to personnel changes, but never have they squarely faced the fundamental problem: government-funded media companies are inherently problematic and impossible to reconcile with either the First Amendment or a government of constitutionally limited powers.
  • Topic: Government, Communications, Mass Media, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Morris A. Davis
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For decades U.S. housing policy has focused on promoting homeownership. In this study, I show that the set of policies designed to further homeownership has been ineffective and expensive and that homeownership as a public policy goal is not well supported.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Although gasoline taxes have long been the main source of funding for building, maintaining, and operating America's network of highways, roads, and streets, the tax is at best an imperfect user fee. As such, Congress and the states should take action to transition from gas taxes to more efficient vehicle-mile fees.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Communications, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: News that the poverty rate has risen to 15.1 percent of Americans, the highest level in nearly a decade, has set off a predictable round of calls for increased government spending on social welfare programs. Yet this year the federal government will spend more than $668 billion on at least 126 different programs to fight poverty. And that does not even begin to count welfare spending by state and local governments, which adds $284 billion to that figure. In total, the United States spends nearly $1 trillion every year to fight poverty. That amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Patric H. Hendershott, Kevin Villani
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The current narrative regarding the 2008 systemic financial system collapse is that numerous seemingly unrelated events occurred in unregulated or underregulated markets, requiring widespread bailouts of actors across the financial spectrum, from mortgage borrowers to investors in money market funds. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created by the U.S. Congress to investigate the causes of the crisis, promotes this politically convenient narrative, and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act operationalizes it by completing the progressive extension of federal protection and regulation of banking and finance that began in the 1930s so that it now covers virtually all financial activities, including hedge funds and proprietary trading. The Dodd-Frank Act further charges the newly created Financial Stability Oversight Council, made up of politicians, bureaucrats, and university professors, with preventing a subsequent systemic crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Kirby, Emily McClintock Ekins
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many people on the left still dismiss the tea party as the same old religious right, but the evidence says they are wrong. The tea party has strong libertarian roots and is a functionally libertarian influence on the Republican Party.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Politics, Insurgency, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria, Emily McClintock Ekins
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: During the financial crisis of 2008, the financial markets would have been better served if the credit rating agency industry had been more competitive. We present evidence that suggests the Securities and Exchange Commission's designation of Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSROs) inadvertently created a de facto oligopoly, which primarily propped up three firms: Moody's, S, and Fitch. We also explain the rationale behind the NRSRO designation given to credit rating agencies (CRAs) and demonstrate that it was not intended to be an oligopolistic mechanism or to reduce investor due diligence, but rather was intended to protect consumers. Although CRAs were indirectly constrained by their reputation among investors, the lack of competition allowed for greater market complacency. Government regulatory use of credit ratings inflated the market demand for NRSRO ratings, despite the decreasing informational value of credit ratings. It is unlikely that this sort of regulatory framework could result in anything except misaligned incentives among economic actors and distorted market information that provides inaccurate signals to investors and other financial actors. Given the importance of our capital infrastructure and the power of credit rating agencies in our financial markets, and despite the good intentions of the uses of the NRSRO designation, it is not worth the cost and should be abolished. Regulators should work to eliminate regulatory reliance on credit ratings for financial safety and soundness. These regulatory reforms will, in turn, reduce CRA oligopolistic power and the artificial demand for their ratings.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tad DeHaven
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Rising federal spending and huge deficits are pushing the nation toward a financial and economic crisis. Policymakers should find and eliminate wasteful, damaging, and unneeded programs in the federal budget. One good way to save money would be to cut subsidies to businesses. Corporate welfare in the federal budget costs taxpayers almost $100 billion a year.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alex Nowrasteh
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Arizona's immigration laws have hurt its economy. The 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) attempts to force unauthorized immigrants out of the workplace with employee regulations and employer sanctions. The 2010 Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neigh¬borhoods Act (SB 1070) complements LAWA by granting local police new legal tools to enforce Ari¬zona's immigration laws outside of the workplace.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Labor Issues, Immigration, Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Arizona
  • Author: K. William Watson
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 gives the United States International Trade Commis¬sion (ITC) the power to exclude products from the United States that are imported pursuant to “unfair methods of competition.” The range of potential activities covered by the law is broad, but the most common claim brought before the ITC is patent infringement. In addition to fil¬ing a lawsuit in federal district court, U.S. pat¬ent holders can often use Section 337 to bring a second case over the same subject matter as long as the defendant imports the impugned product from abroad. This tactic has become increasing¬ly popular because the ITC renders its decisions relatively quickly and has the authority to order a very powerful remedy—total exclusion of the product from the U.S. market.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Trade and Finance, World Trade Organization, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Benjamin Zycher
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This study examines the prospective economic effects of a reduction below the current baseline in defense outlays of $100 billion per year over 10 years.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Economics, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Official federal budget accounts are constructed exclusively in terms of current cash flows – receipts from taxes and fees and outlays on purchases and transfers. But cash-flows do not reveal economically relevant information about who benefits and who loses from government policies. Cash flows also do not reveal how changes in government's policies redistribute resources within and across generations, including reducing the tax burden on today's generations and increasing it on future ones. Because most government transact ions are targeted by age and gender, the federal government can bring about large resource transfers across generations. Intergenerational resource transfers will grow larger as the composition of budget receipts and expenditures changes with relatively faster growth of age-and-gender-related social insurance program. Intergenerational redistributions across generations through federal government operations could substantially affect different generations' economic expectations and choices and exert powerful long-term effects on economic outcomes.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Human Welfare, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Advocates of central bank reform must examine why central banks emerged and what forces sustain them. They did not arise in an institutional vacuum, and will not be reformed in an institutional vacuum. The historical origins of central banks explain how they came into existence. The forces sustaining and feeding their growth may differ from those explaining their origin.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jerry Taylor, Peter Van Doren
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Whenever gasoline prices are substantially above historic norms – which they are today, as we don't need to tell you – energy policy takes center stage in American politics. And whenever pollsters in presidential campaigns find swing states in energy country, you can bet that the stage will be lit like never before.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alan Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This paper confirms recent studies which find little or no sustained increase in the inequality of disposable income for the U.S. population as a whole over the past 20 years, even though estimates of the top 1 percent's share of pretax, pretransfer (market) income spiked upward in 1986-88, 1997-2000 and 2003-2007.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Marcus E. Ethridge
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the wake of the 2010 elections, President Obama declared that voters did not give a mandate to gridlock. His statement reflects over a century of Progressive hostility to the inefficient and slow system of government created by the American Framers. Convinced that the government created by the Constitution frustrates their goals, Progressives have long sought ways around its checks and balances. Perhaps the most important of their methods is delegating power to administrative agencies, an arrangement that greatly transformed U.S. government during and after the New Deal. For generations, Progressives have supported the false premise that administrative action in the hands of experts will realize the public interest more effectively than the constitutional system and its multiple vetoes over policy changes. The political effect of empowering the administrative state has been quite different: it fosters policies that reflect the interests of those with well organized power. A large and growing body of evidence makes it clear that the public interest is most secure when governmental institutions are inefficient decisionmakers. An arrangement that brings diverse interests into a complex, sluggish decisionmaking process is generally unattractive to special interests. Gridlock also neutralizes some political benefits that producer groups and other well-heeled interests inherently enjoy. By fostering gridlock, the U.S. Constitution increases the likelihood that policies will reflect broad, unorganized interests instead of the interests of narrow, organized groups.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Power Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Unless repeal attempts succeed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ObamaCare) promises to increase state government obligations on account of Medicaid by expanding Medicaid eligibility and introducing an individual health insurance mandate for all US citizens and legal permanent residents. Once ObamaCare becomes fully effective in 2014, the cost of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees will be almost fully covered by the federal government through 2019, with federal financial support expected to be extended thereafter. But ObamaCare provides states with zero additional federal financial support for new enrollees among those eligible for Medicaid under the old laws. That makes increased state Medicaid costs from higher enrollments by "old-eligibles" virtually certain as they enroll into Medicaid to comply with the mandate to purchase health insurance. This study estimates and compares potential increases in Medicaid costs from ObamaCare for the five most populous states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Markets, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, California, Florida
  • Author: David Rittgers
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an umbrella organization that would oversee 22 preexisting federal agencies. The idea was to improve the coordination of the federal government's counterterrorism effort, but the result has been an ever-expanding bureaucracy.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gregory Elacqua, Humberto Santos, Dante Contreras, Felipe Salazar
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: There is a persistent debate over the role of scale of operations in education. Some argue that school franchises offer educational services more effectively than do small independent schools. Skeptics counter that large, centralized operations create hard-to-manage bureaucracies and foster diseconomies of scale and that small schools are more effective at promoting higher-quality education. The answer to this question has profound implications for U.S. education policy, because reliably scaling up the best schools has proven to be a particularly difficult problem. If there are policies that would make it easier to replicate the most effective schools, systemwide educational quality could be improved substantially.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Chile
  • Author: Kevin Dowd, Martin Hutchinson, Jimi Hinchliffe, Simon Ashby
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Basel regime is an international system of capital adequacy regulation designed to strengthen banks' financial health and the safety and soundness of the financial system as a whole. It originated with the 1988 Basel Accord, now known as Basel I, and was then overhauled. Basel II had still not been implemented in the United States when the financial crisis struck, and in the wake of the banking system collapse, regulators rushed out Basel III.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The debate over President Obama's fantastically expensive high-speed rail program has obscured the resurgence of a directly competing mode of transportation: intercity buses. Entrepreneurial immigrants from China and recently privatized British transportation companies have developed a new model for intercity bus operations that provides travelers with faster service at dramatically reduced fares.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Infrastructure, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Patric H. Hendershott, Kevin Villani
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States' market-government hybrid mortgage system is unique in the world. No other nation has such heavy government intervention in housing finance. This hybrid system nurtured the excessively risky loans, financed with too much leverage, that fueled the U.S. housing bubble of the last decade and resulted in the systemic collapse of the global financial system.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Julian Sanchez
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Congress recently approved a temporary extension of three controversial surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act and successor legislation, which had previously been set to expire at the end of February. In the coming weeks, lawmakers have an opportunity to review the sweeping expansion of domestic counter-terror powers since 9/11 and, with the benefit of a decade's perspective, strengthen crucial civil-liberties safeguards without unduly burdening legitimate intelligence gathering. Two of the provisions slated for sunsetroving wiretap authority and the so-called “Section 215” orders for the production of records—should be narrowed to mitigate the risk of overcollection of sensitive information about innocent Americans. A third—authority to employ the broad investigative powers of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act against “lone wolf” suspects who lack ties to any foreign terror group—does not appear to be necessary at all.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Intelligence, National Security, Counterinsurgency, Governance, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Reiss
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The federal government recently placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-chartered, privately owned mortgage finance companies, in conservatorship. These two massive companies are profit driven, but as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) they also have a government-mandated mission to provide liquidity and stability to the U.S. mortgage market and to achieve certain affordable housing goals. How the two companies should exit their conservatorship has implications that reach throughout the global financial markets and are of key importance to the future of American housing finance policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Privatization, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. government is about to exceed its statutory debt limit of $14.3 trillion. But that actually underestimates the size of the fiscal time bomb that this country is facing. If one considers the unfunded liabilities of programs such as Medicare and Social Security, the true national debt could run as high as $119.5 trillion.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Human Welfare, Financial Crisis, Governance, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jared Lobdell
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: An October New York Times story remarked that “with just five weeks until its deadline, a secretive Congressional committee seeking ways to cut the federal deficit is far from a consensus, and party leaders may need to step in if they want to ensure agreement, say people involved in the panel's work.” We have this “supercommittee” of twelve members of Congress, ostensibly for the purpose of cutting a minimum $1.2 trillion from our deficit, chosen by four appointers, none agreeing with any other on exactly what ought to be done, representing mostly diametrically opposing wings of two parties with irreconcilable differences.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Kirby, David Boaz
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Libertarian—or fiscally conservative, socially liberal—voters are often torn between their aversions to the Republicans' social conservatism and the Democrats' fiscal irresponsibility. Yet libertarians rarely factor into pundits' and pollsters' analyses.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon, Aaron Yelowitz
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In 2006, Massachusetts enacted a sweeping health insurance law that mirrors the legislation currently before Congress. After signing the measure, Gov. Mitt Romney (R) wrote, "Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced." But did the legislation achieve these goals? And what other effects has it had? This paper is the first to use Current Population Survey data for 2008 to evaluate the Massachusetts law, and the first to examine its effects on the accuracy of the CPS's uninsured estimates, self-reported health, the extent of "crowd-out" of private insurance for both children and adults, and in-migration of new Massachusetts residents.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: House and Senate Democrats have produced health care legislation whose mandates, subsidies, tax penalties, and health insurance regulations would penalize work and reward Americans who refuse to purchase health insurance. As a result, the legislation could trap many Americans in low-wage jobs and cause even higher health-insurance premiums, government spending, and taxes than are envisioned in the legislation.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Neal McCluskey
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The argument for national curriculum standards sounds simple: set high standards, make all schools meet them, and watch American students achieve at high levels. It is straightforward and compelling, and it is driving a sea change in American education policy.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Culture
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. Constitution vests all the “legislative powers” it grants in Congress. The Supreme Court allows Congress to delegate some authority to executive officials provided an “intelligible principle” guides such transfers. Congress quickly wrote and enacted the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in response to a financial crisis. The law authorized the secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion purchasing troubled mortgage assets or any financial instrument in order to attain 13 different goals. Most of these goals lacked any concrete meaning, and Congress did not establish any priorities among them. As a result, Congress lost control of the implementation of the law and unconstitutionally delegated its powers to the Treasury secretary. Congress also failed in the case of EESA to meet its constitutional obligations to deliberate, to check the other branches of government, or to be accountable to the American people. The implementation of EESA showed Congress to be largely irrelevant to policymaking by the Treasury secretary. These failures of Congress indicate that the current Supreme Court doctrine validating delegation of legislative powers should be revised to protect the rule of law and separation of powers.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States Supreme Court decided in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that Congress may not prohibit spending on political speech by corporations. President Obama and several members of Congress have sharply criticized Citizens United, and Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen have proposed the DISCLOSE Act in response to the ruling. DISCLOSE mandates disclosure of corporate sources of independent spending on speech, putatively in the interest of shareholders and voters. However, it is unlikely that either shareholders or voters would be made better off by this legislation. Shareholders could demand and receive such disclosure without government mandates, given the efficiency of capital markets. The benefits of such disclosure for voters are likely less than assumed, while the costs are paid in chilled speech and in less rational public deliberation. DISCLOSE also prohibits speech by government contractors, TARP recipients, and companies managed by foreign nationals. The case for prohibiting speech by each of these groups seems flawed. In general, DISCLOSE exploits loopholes in Citizens United limits on government control of speech to contravene the spirit of that decision and the letter of the First Amendment.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman, Christopher Preble
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States needs a defense budget worthy of its name, one that protects Americans rather than wasting vast sums embroiling us in controversies remote from our interests. This paper outlines such a defense strategy and the substantial cuts in military spending that it allows. That strategy discourages the occupation of failing states and indefinite commitments to defend healthy ones. With fewer missions, the military can shrink its force structure—reducing personnel, the weapons and vehicles procured for them, and operational costs. The resulting force would be more elite, less strained, and far less expensive. By avoiding needless military conflict and protecting our prosperity, these changes would make Americans more secure.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Debt
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Christopher J. Conover
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A well-established principle of public finance holds that taxes impose costs on society beyond the amount of revenue government collects. Estimates vary depending on the type of tax, but the “marginal excess burden” of federal taxes most likely ranges from 14 to 52 cents per dollar of tax revenue, averaging about 44 cents for all federal taxes.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This paper discusses the medical malpractice "crisis" and the potential of contract liability to reduce overall malpractice costs as well as improve the quality of and access to care. First, the paper describes the current medical malpractice liability "system" and some of the more common reforms offered. It then discusses the economic rationale of allowing patients and providers to agree in advance of treatment on how the patient will be compensated in the event of simple negligence on the part of providers, explaining how contract liability may offer improvements in the areas of costs, patient preferences, the pursuit of more efficient liability rules, and quality of care. The paper then critiques select objections to contract liability – those based on the superior bargaining power of providers, the lack of information available to patients, and possible reductions in quality – and forwards possible limitations on the right to contract that may allay such concerns.
  • Topic: Health, Law, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: George A. Selgin, Lawrence H. White, William D. Lastrapes
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As the one-hundredth anniversary of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act approaches, we assess whether the nation's experiment with the Federal Reserve has been a success or a failure. Drawing on a wide range of recent empirical research, we find the following: (1) The Fed's full history (1914 to present) has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed's establishment. (2) While the Fed's performance has undoubtedly improved since World War II, even its postwar performance has not clearly surpassed that of its undoubtedly flawed predecessor, the National Banking system, before World War I. (3) Some proposed alternative arrangements might plausibly do better than the Fed as presently constituted. We conclude that the need for a systematic exploration of alternatives to the established monetary system is as pressing today as it was a century ago.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: School voucher and education tax credit programs have proliferated in the United States over the past two decades. Advocates have argued that they will enable families to become active consumers in a free and competitive education marketplace, but some fear that these programs may in fact bring with them a heavy regulatory burden that could stifle market forces. Until now, there has been no systematic, empirical investigation of that concern. The present paper aims to shed light on the issue by quantifying the regulations imposed on private schools both within and outside school choice programs, and then analyzing them with descriptive statistics and regression analyses. The results are tested for robustness to alternative ways of quantifying private school regulation, and to alternative regression models, and the question of causality is addressed. The study concludes that vouchers, but not tax credits, impose a substantial and statistically significant additional regulatory burden on participating private schools.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ted Galen Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: While U.S. leaders have focused on actual or illusory security threats in distant regions, there is a troubling security problem brewing much closer to home. Violence in Mexico, mostly related to the trade in illegal drugs, has risen sharply in recent years and shows signs of becoming even worse. That violence involves turf fights among the various drug-trafficking organizations as they seek to control access to the lucrative U.S. market. To an increasing extent, the violence also entails fighting between drug traffickers and Mexican military and police forces.
  • Topic: Security, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama, former U.S. Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, and others propose a new government agency that would evaluate the relative effectiveness of medical treatments. The need for “comparative-effectiveness research” is great. Evidence suggests Americans spend $700 billion annually on medical care that provides no value. Yet patients, providers, and purchasers typically lack the necessary information to distinguish between high- and low-value services.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Cochrane
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: None of us has health insurance, really. If you develop a long-term condition such as heart disease or cancer, and if you then lose your job or are divorced, you can lose your health insurance. You now have a preexisting condition, and insurance will be enormously expensive—if it's available at all. Free markets can solve this problem, and provide life-long, portable health security, while enhancing consumer choice and competition. “Heath-status insurance” is the key. If you are diagnosed with a long-term, expensive condition, a health-status insurance policy will give you the resources to pay higher medical insurance premiums. Health-status insurance covers the risk of premium reclassification, just as medical insurance covers the risk of medical expenses. With health-status insurance, you can always obtain medical insurance, no matter how sick you get, with no change in out-of-pocket costs.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Markets, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This Policy Analysis explains the antecedents of the current global financial crisis and critically examines the reasoning behind the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve's actions to prop up the financial sector. It argues that recovery from the financial crisis is likely to be slow with or without the government's bailout actions. An oil price spike and a wealth shock in housing initiated the financial crisis. Declines in stock values are intensifying that shock, threatening to deepen the current recession as U.S. consumers and investors cut their expenditures. An offsetting wealth injection from additional risk-bearing investors could initiate a quicker recovery. Thus, supporters of government intervention justify the bailout's debt-financed fund injections—in essence, they want to compel future taxpayers to join the group of today's risk bearing investors.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Malou Innocent
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A spreading Islamic insurgency engulfs the amorphous and ungoverned border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. After initial victories by the United States and the Northern Alliance in autumn 2001, hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters fled Afghanistan to seek refuge across the border in Pakistan's rugged northwest. Since 2007, the number of ambushes, militant offensives, and targeted assassinations has risen sharply across Afghanistan, while suicide bombers and pro-Taliban insurgents sweep through settled areas of Pakistan at an alarming pace. For better and for worse, Pakistan will remain the fulcrum of U.S. policy in the region—its leaders continue to provide vital counterterrorism cooperation and have received close to $20 billion in assistance from the United States, yet elements associated with its national intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, covertly assist militant proxy groups destabilizing the region
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, Asia
  • Author: Vern McKinley, Gary Gegenheimer
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A financial-institution bailout involves government intervention through a transaction or forbearance targeted to a financial institution or group of financial institutions. The action is preemptive as the financial institution does not fail and go out of business, but remains a going concern, benefiting creditors, shareholders, or counterparties. In the absence of a bailout, the financial institution would either be forced to go through receivership or bankruptcy in the prescribed legal form, or have its role in financial intermediation disrupted.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: President Obama has made it clear that reforming the American health care system will be one of his top priorities. In response, congressional leaders have promised to introduce legislation by this summer, and they hope for an initial vote in the Senate before the Labor Day recess.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizes a laissez-faire policy toward speech and the press. The Framers of the Bill of Rights worried that the self-interest of politicians fostered suppression of speech. In contrast, some constitutional theorists have argued that the Constitution empowers, rather than restricts, the federal government to manage speech in order to attain the values implicit in the First Amendment.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Everyone agrees that the recent financial crisis started with the deflation of the housing bubble. But what caused the bubble? Answering this question is important both for identifying the best short-term policies and for fixing the credit crisis, as well as for developing long-term policies aimed at preventing another crisis in the future.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, California, Georgia
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Although neither the House nor the Senate passed a health care bill by President Obama's August deadline, various pieces of legislation have made it through committee, and they provide a concrete basis for analyzing what the proposed health care reform would and would not do. Looking at the various bills that are moving on Capitol Hill, we can determine the following: Contrary to the Obama administration's repeated assurances, millions of Americans who are happy with their current health insurance will not be able to keep it. As many as 89.5 million people may be dumped into a government-run plan. Some Americans may find themselves forced into a new insurance plan that no longer includes their current doctor. Americans will pay more than $820 billion in additional taxes over the next 10 years, and could see their insurance premiums rise as much as 95 percent. The current health care bills will increase the budget deficit by at least $239 billion over the next 10 years, and far more in the years beyond that. If the new health care entitlement were subject to the same 75-year actuarial standards as Social Security or Medicare, its unfunded liabilities would exceed $9.2 trillion. While the bills contain no direct provisions for rationing care, they nonetheless increase the likelihood of government rationing and interference with how doctors practice medicine. Contrary to assertions of some opponents, the bills contain no provision for euthanasia or mandatory end-of-life counseling. The bills' provisions on abortion coverage are far murkier.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Human Welfare, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale, Peter Van Doren
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many commentators have argued that if the Federal Reserve had followed a stricter monetary policy earlier this decade when the housing bubble was forming, and if Congress had not deregulated banking but had imposed tighter financial standards, the housing boom and bust—and the subsequent financial crisis and recession—would have been averted. In this paper, we investigate those claims and dispute them. We are skeptical that economists can detect bubbles in real time through technical means with any degree of unanimity. Even if they could, we doubt the Fed would have altered its policy in the early 21st century, and we suspect that political leaders would have exerted considerable pressure to maintain that policy. Concerning regulation, we find that the banking reform of the late 1990s had little effect on the housing boom and bust, and that the many reform ideas currently proposed would have done little or nothing to avert the crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Axe
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The two-decade-old conflict in Somalia has entered a new phase, which presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the United States. The elections of new U.S. and Somali presidents in late 2008 and early 2009 provide an opportunity to reframe U.S.-Somali relations. To best encourage peace in the devastated country, Washington needs a new strategy that takes into account hard-learned lessons from multiple failed U.S. interventions. The old strategy favoring military force and reflexive opposition to all Islamists should give way to one emphasizing regional diplomacy and at least tacit acceptance of a government that is capable of bringing order to Somalia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Somalia
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In March 2009, President Barack Obama said, “If there is a way of getting this done where we're driving down costs and people are getting health insurance at an affordable rate, and have choice of doctor, have flexibility in terms of their plans, and we could do that entirely through the market, I'd be happy to do it that way.” This paper explains how letting workers control their health care dollars and tearing down regulatory barriers to competition would control costs, expand choice, improve health care quality, and make health coverage more secure.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tad DeHaven
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has long been plagued by scandals, mismanagement, and policy failures. Most recently, HUD's subsidies and failed oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac helped to inflate the housing bubble, which ultimately burst and cascaded into a major financial crisis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Proponents of compact development argue that rebuilding American urban areas to higher densities is vital for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Compact city policies call for reducing driving by housing a higher percentage of people in multi-family and mixed-use developments, reducing the average lot sizes of single-family homes, redesigning streets and neighborhoods to be more pedestrian friendly, concentrating jobs in selected areas, and spending more on mass transit and less on highways.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Robert Corn-Revere
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Civil libertarians feared that a change of administrations would herald a revived Fairness Doctrine, a policy that previously permitted the government to oversee broadcast news coverage for "balanced views." A return to the Fairness Doctrine, however, now seems unlikely. It is very likely, however, that politicians from both the left and the right will try to extend government control over the media beyond current policies. New rules adopted or proposed by the Federal Communications Commission suggest that the agency may be poised to enforce the most intensive government oversight of broadcast programming in decades—perhaps even in the history of the agency. The FCC voted last year to require each broadcast licensee to file quarterly "enhanced disclosure" reports—highly detailed information regarding its programming and editorial choices. This information will be used by organized groups to file complaints to pressure broadcasters to air programming that the complainants prefer. The FCC is also formulating programming guidelines based on the enhanced disclosure reports purporting to ensure that broadcasters meet local needs. This "broadcast localism" effort may also require broadcasters to appoint local boards to oversee their performance and their editorial decisions. As the FCC seeks to expand regulation of broadcast media, the traditional justification for its authority—spectrum scarcity—has lost credibility, and the agency's new efforts are likely to run afoul of the First Amendment.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Mass Media, Culture
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman, Harvey Sapolsky, Christopher Preble
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Foreign policy experts and policy analysts are misreading the lessons of Iraq. The emerging conventional wisdom holds that success could have been achieved in Iraq with more troops, more cooperation among U.S. government agencies, and better counterinsurgency doctrine. To analysts who share these views, Iraq is not an example of what not to do but of how not to do it. Their policy proposals aim to reform the national security bureaucracy so that we will get it right the next time.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Nikolas Gvosdev
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A review of America's post-Soviet strategy toward Russia is long overdue. The illusions that once guided policy are now at an end. What is needed is a dispassionate approach to Russia, wherein Americans would neither magnify nor excuse the virtues and vices of the Russian Federation but would accept the following realities: Russia is unlikely to become integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community and is unwilling to adjust its foreign policy priorities accordingly; There is broad-based support within Russia for the direction in which Vladimir Putin has taken the country; Russia has undergone a genuine—if limited— recovery from the collapse of the 1990s; Washington lacks sufficient leverage to compel Russian acquiescence to its policy preferences; and On a number of critical foreign policy issues, there is no clear community of interests that allows for concepts of "selective partnership" to be effective.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, America, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Jim Harper
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In last summer's debate over immigration reform, Congress treated a national electronic employment eligibility verification (EEV) system as a matter of near consensus. Intended to strengthen internal enforcement of the immigration laws, electronic EEV is an Internet-based employee vetting system that the federal government would require every employer to use.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Critics of the U.S. health care system frequently point to other countries as models for reform. They point out that many countries spend far less on health care than the United States yet seem to enjoy better health outcomes. The United States should follow the lead of those countries, the critics say, and adopt a government- run, national health care system.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Benjamin E. Hippen
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Kidney transplantation in the United States is burdened by a terrible policy failure. The cost of this failure will be paid in the currency of years of human lives unnecessarily lost, as well as a massive increase in federal expenditures over the next decade and beyond. The number of patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the United States has grown, but the supply of kidneys—for the preferred treatment for ESRD, kidney transplantation— has not kept pace with the demand. Unfortunately, the issue is not simply one of supply and demand: in the United States the supply of kidneys for transplantation is kept artificially low by a prohibition on the sale of human organs.
  • Topic: Health, Human Welfare, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Far from protecting the environment, most rail transit lines use more energy per passenger mile, and many generate more greenhouse gases, than the average passenger automobile. Rail transit provides no guarantee that a city will save energy or meet greenhouse gas targets.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Merrifield
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Pressing questions about the merits of market accountability in K-12 education have spawned a large scholarly literature. Unfortunately, much of that literature is of limited relevance, and some of it is misleading. The studies most widely cited in the United States used intense scrutiny of a few small-scale, restriction-laden U.S. programs—and a handful of larger but still restriction-laden foreign school choice expansions—to assert general conclusions about the effects of "choice," "competition," and "markets." The most intensely studied programs lack most or all of the key elements of market systems, including profit, price change, market entry, and product differentiation—factors that are normally central to any discussion of market effects. In essence, researchers have drawn conclusions about apples by studying lemons.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Federal law requires metropolitan planning organizations in urban areas of more than 50,000 people to write long-range (20- to 30- year) metropolitan transportation plans and to revise or update those plans every 4 to 5 years. A review of plans for more than 75 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas reveals that virtually all of them fail to follow standard planning methods. As a result, taxpayers and travelers have little assurance that the plans make effective use of available resources to reduce congestion, maximize mobility, and provide safe transportation facilities.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In this paper we estimate the budgetary impact of the Cato Institute's Public Education Tax Credit model legislation on five states and presents a generalized spreadsheet tool (“the Fiscal Impact Calculator”) that can estimate the program's effect on any other state for which the necessary input data are supplied. It is estimated that, in its first 10 years of operation, savings from the PETC program would range from $1.1 billion for South Carolina to $15.9 billion for Texas. Illinois, Wisconsin, and New York are estimated to enjoy 10-year savings within that range.
  • Topic: Education, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, New York
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Would large-scale, free-market reforms improve educational outcomes for American children? That question cannot be answered by looking at domestic evidence alone. Though innumerable “school choice” programs have been implemented around the United States, none has created a truly free and competitive education marketplace. Existing programs are too small, too restriction laden, or both. To understand how genuine market forces affect school performance, we must cast a wider net, surveying education systems from all over the globe. The present paper undertakes such a review, assessing the results of 25 years of international research comparing market and government provision of education, and explaining why these international experiences are relevant to the United States.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Harvey Sapolsky, Christopher Preble, Benjamin Friedman
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Foreign policy experts and policy analysts are misreading the lessons of Iraq. The emerging conventional wisdom holds that success could have been achieved in Iraq with more troops, more cooperation among U.S. government agencies, and better counterinsurgency doctrine. To analysts who share these views, Iraq is not an example of what not to do but of how not to do it. Their policy proposals aim to reform the national security bureaucracy so that we will get it right the next time.
  • Topic: International Relations, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Stanley Kober
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is beginning to fracture. Its members, sharing the triumphalism that underpinned U.S. foreign policy after the Cold War, took on burdens that have proved more difficult than expected. Increasingly, they are failing to meet the challenges confronting them.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, NATO, International Organization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Would large-scale, free-market reforms improve educational outcomes forAmerican children?That question cannot be answered by looking at domestic evidence alone. Though innumerable “school choice” programs have been implemented around theUnited States, none has created a truly free and competitive education marketplace. Existing programs are too small, too restriction laden, or both. To understand how genuine market forces affect school performance, wemust cast a wider net, surveying education systems from all over the globe. The present paper undertakes such a review, assessing the results of 25 years of international research comparing market and government provision of education, and explaining why these international experiences are relevant to theUnited States.
  • Topic: Education, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Shirley Svorny
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the United States, the authority to regulate medical professionals lies with the states. To practice within a state, clinicians must obtain a license from that state's government. State statutes dictate standards for licensing and disciplining medical professionals. They also list tasks clinicians are allowed to perform. One view is that state licensing of medical professionals assures quality. In contrast, I argue here that licensure not only fails to protect consumers from incompetent physicians, but, by raising barriers to entry, makes health care more expensive and less accessible. Institutional oversight and a sophisticated network of private accrediting and certification organizations, all motivated by the need to protect reputations and avoid legal liability, offer whatever consumer protections exist today. Consumers would benefit were states to eliminate professional licensing in medicine and leave education, credentialing, and scope-of-practice decisions entirely to the private sector and the courts. If eliminating licensing is politically infeasible, some preliminary steps might be generally acceptable. States could increase workforce mobility by recognizing licenses issued by other states. For mid-level clinicians, eliminating education requirements beyond an initial degree would allow employers and consumers to select the appropriate level of expertise. At the very least, state legislators should be alert to the self-interest of medical professional organizations that may lie behind the licensing proposals brought to the legislature for approval.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The National Popular Vote plan (NPV), introduced in more than 40 states, and adopted by 4, proposes an interstate compact to bring about direct election of the president of the United States. The proposal eliminates states as electoral districts in presidential elections by creating a national electoral district for the presidential election, thereby advancing a national political identity for the United States. States with small populations and states that are competitive may benefit from the electoral college. Few states clearly benefit from direct election of the president. NPV brings about this change without amending the Constitution, there by undermining the legitimacy of presidential elections. It also weakens federalism by eliminating the role of the states in presidential contests. NPV nationalizes disputed outcomes and cannot offer any certainty that states will not withdraw from the compact when the results of an election become known. NPV will encourage presidential campaigns to focus their efforts in dense media markets where costs per vote are lowest; many states now ignored by candidates will continue to be ignored under NPV. For these reasons, states should not join the National Popular Vote compact.
  • Topic: Politics, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Justin Logan
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Few U.S. presidential elections have been decided on the basis of foreign policy. For the first time in decades, however, both parties have fielded candidates who have chosen to emphasize their foreign policy views.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Revenue poured into state governments as the U.S. economy expanded between 2003 and 2007, prompting the nation's governors to expand state budgets and offer the occasional tax cut. But now that the economy has slowed and revenue growth is down, governors are taking various actions to close rising budget deficits.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the face of high energy prices and concerns about global warming, environmentalists and planners offer high-speed rail as an environmentally friendly alternative to driving and air travel. California, Florida, the Midwest, and other parts of the country are actively considering specific high-speed rail plans.
  • Topic: Development, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, California, Florida
  • Author: Timothy B. Lee
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: An important reason for the Internet's remarkable growth over the last quarter century is the “end-to-end” principle that networks should confine themselves to transmitting generic packets without worrying about their contents. Not only has this made deployment of Internet infrastructure cheap and efficient, but it has created fertile ground for entrepreneurship. On a network that respects the end-to-end principle, prior approval from network owners is not needed to launch new applications, services, or content.
  • Topic: Government, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard L. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many politicians and pundits are panicked over the existing state of the oil and gasoline markets. Disregarding past experience, these parties advocate massive intervention in those markets, which would only serve to repeat and extend previous errors. These interventionists propose solutions to nonexistent problems.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert A. Pape
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades, terrorist organizations have increasingly relied on suicide attacks to achieve political objectives. The specific goal sought in almost all suicide terrorist campaigns in modern history is the same: to compel a democratic state to withdraw combat forces from territory prized by the terrorists. This holds true for al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization of greatest concern to most Americans. Al-Qaeda's efforts to mobilize people to kill Americans are driven principally by a simple strategic goal: to drive the United States and its Western allies from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Arabia, Arabian Peninsula
  • Author: Ted Galen Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Although it is possible that negotiations between the leading powers in the international community and Iran may produce a settlement to the vexing issue of Iran's nuclear program, it is more likely that those negotiations will fail. If that happens, U.S. policymakers face a set of highly imperfect options.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Rensselaer Lee
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The danger posed by Russia's inadequately secured stocks of nuclear weapons and fissile material is a major national security concern for the United States. Various cooperative U.S.-Russian programs aimed at securing nuclear material, weapons, and design intelligence have been mounted since the 1990s, but clever and determined adversaries may be able to circumvent or defeat the defenses that the United States and its partners are attempting to put in place. U.S. programs are by their nature reactive: they have long time horizons; they focus preeminently on the supply side of the problem; and they face serious technological limitations. Russia's imperfect commitment to nonproliferation also undermines the effectiveness of U.S. nonproliferation efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Christopher Preble
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S.-Japan strategic relationship, formalized during the depths of the Cold War and refined during the 1980s and 1990s, continues to undergo dramatic changes. Although Japan is economically capable and now seems politically motivated to assume full responsibility for defending itself from threats, it is legally constrained from doing so under the terms of the Japanese constitution, particularly Article 9. The path to defensive self-sufficiency is also impeded by Japan's continuing dependence on the United States embodied in the U.S.-Japan security alliance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Israel, East Asia, Asia
  • Author: Doug Bandow
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For more than 20 years, the United States has refused to become a party to the Law of the Sea Treaty. Advocates of the treaty, a comprehensive measure governing navigational rights on the sea and mineral rights on the seabed, claimed that U.S. failure to join the convention would result in chaos on the high seas. It has not. Very few Americans know anything about the treaty, and even advocates are hard-pressed to explain how the United States would benefit from its adoption.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Law, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: With President Bush's call for comprehensive Social Security reform bogged down in the morass of partisan politics, many reform advocates have suggested starting the process with smaller steps. Recently, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), and others have proposed legislation to rebate Social Security surpluses to workers in the form of contributions to personal accounts.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stephen A. Moses
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Seventy-seven million aging baby boomers will sink America's retirement security system if we don't take action soon. A few years ago, the problem went unrecognized by most Americans. Today, the prospect of a fiscal crisis has forced policymakers to focus on solutions.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Medicaid occupies a special place among government programs for the poor. Public support for Medicaid is broader and deeper than for other safety net programs because the consequences of inadequate medical care can be much more immediate and severe than those of a lack of money or even food.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Dennis Polhill, Patrick Basham
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: American representative government suffers from the handicap of a largely uncompetitive political system. American politics has fewer and fewer competitive elections. In arguing that political competition matters a great deal, this paper traces the increasing trend toward uncompetitiveness and details the role and nature of incumbency advantage in fostering an uncompetitive political system.
  • Topic: Demographics, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Ronald T. Libby
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The medical field of treating chronic pain is still in its infancy. It was only in the late 1980s that leading physicians trained in treating the chronic pain of terminally ill cancer patients began to recommend that the "opioid therapy" (treatment involving narcotics related to opium) used on their patients also be used for patients suffering from nonterminal conditions. The new therapies proved successful, and prescription pain medications saw a huge leap in sales throughout the 1990s. But opioid therapy has always been controversial. The habit-forming nature of some prescription pain medications made many physicians, medical boards, and law enforcement officials wary of their use in treating acute pain in nonterminal patients. Consequently, many physicians and pain specialists have shied away from opioid treatment, causing millions of Americans to suffer from chronic pain even as therapies were available to treat it.
  • Topic: Crime, Human Welfare, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Neal McCluskey
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: One of the most frequently voiced objections to school choice is that the free market lacks the "accountability" that governs public education. Public schools are constantly monitored by district administrators, state officials, federal officials, school board members, and throngs of other people tasked with making sure that the schools follow all the rules and regulations governing them. That level of bureaucratic oversight does not exist in the free market, and critics fear choice-based education will be plagued by corruption, poor-quality schools, and failure.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles V. Peña
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, or MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems), have proliferated throughout the world. They can be purchased on the military arms black market for as little as $5,000. More than two dozen terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, are believed to possess such weapons. The FBI estimates that there have been 29 MANPADS attacks against civilian aircraft resulting in 550 deaths. At least 25 of the reported attacks have been attributed to nonstate actors.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: President Bush has established an advisory panel to study federal tax reform options. The panel is headed by former senators Connie Mack of Florida and John Breaux of Louisiana. Congressional leaders, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom Delay, have also pledged their support for reform.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Florida, Louisiana
  • Author: Ilya Somin
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Fifth Amendment and most state constitutions prohibit government from condemning private property except for a “public use.”Traditionally, that has forbidden most condemnations that transfer property from one private owner to another.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael A. Einhorn, Bill Rosenblatt
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The term “peer to peer” (P2P) refers generally to software that enables a computer to locate a content file on another networked device and copy the encoded data to its own hard drive. P2P technology often attracts people who use it to reproduce or distribute copyrighted music and movies without authorization of rights owners. For that reason, the short history of P2P technology has been one of constant controversy and calls by many in the content industry to regulate or even ban P2P-based networks or software.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence Gasman
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the mid-1990s as it seemed that lawmakers were about to abandon much of the regulatory apparatus that had hampered the telecommunications industry since the 1930s, the telecom equipment industry began to boom, helped in part by the rise of the Internet. The deregulatory trend led ultimately to the 1996 Telecom Act, and soon the architects and implementers of that act were congratulating themselves on a job well done. We were supposedly building a new telecom infrastructure fit for the information age.
  • Topic: Development, Industrial Policy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John C. Goodman
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Almost everyone agrees that the U.S. health care system is in dire need of reform. But there are differing opinions on what kind of reform would be best. Some on the political left would like to see us copy one of the government-run “single-payer”systems that exist in Western Europe, Canada, and New Zealand, among other places. Proponents of socialized medicine point to other countries as examples of health care systems that are superior to our own. They insist that government will make health care available on the basis of need rather than ability to pay. The rich and poor will have equal access to care. And more serious medical needs will be given priority over less serious needs.
  • Topic: Government, Human Welfare, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Canada, New Zealand