Designer Drugs: A New, Futile Front in the War on Illegal Drugs

Even as officials devote billions of dollars each year to enforcing laws against marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs, the market for synthetic equivalents or variations has soared.  In a new paper, Cato scholar Ted Galen Carpenter argues that the problems associated with suppressing the use of designer drugs underscores the inherent futility of the broader War on Drugs. “Instead of persisting in the failed strategy of drug prohibition,” says Carpenter, “policymakers should examine ways to accommodate legal markets in mind-altering substances while promoting public safety by requiring strict production standards to prevent contamination or mislabeling.”

NSA Surveillance: What Happens Next?

Key provisions of the controversial post-9/11 anti-terrorism law (including section 215, which authorizes the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ telephone calling records) are set to expire on June 1.  While the House has addressed the issue by passing the USA Freedom Act, the Senate is still dealing with competing proposals. In a ten-and-a-half-hour-long filibuster over the NSA surveillance programs, Sen. Rand Paul cited analysis by former CIA analyst and current Cato scholar Patrick G. Eddington. “Through his filibuster, Paul has all but assured that 215 will sunset — at least until Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess in early June,” notes Eddington.

Curbing the Militarization of America’s Police Forces

In the wake of backlash over the militarized police response to unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, the Obama administration has announced a new executive order which restricts what equipment federal agencies can transfer to local police. According to Cato scholar Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America’s cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops. The consequences have been dire: the home is no longer a place of sanctuary, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an other—an enemy.

The Pros and Cons of a Guaranteed National Income

There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that our current welfare system is not working as intended. Among the alternatives that have been gaining traction recently are proposals for some form of a guaranteed national income (GNI).  A new study from Michael D. Tanner argues that what sounds good in theory tends to break down when one looks at implementation. “There are serious trade-offs among cost, simplicity, and incentive structure,” says Tanner. “Attempts to solve problems in one area would raise questions in others.”

Recent Commentary


May 28

Removing Barriers to Online Medical Care

Featuring Rene Quashie, Senior Counsel, Epstein, Becker & Green; and Jeff Rowes, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice; with a response from Josh Sharfstein, Associate Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; moderated by Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst, Cato Institute.

12:00pm Hayek Auditorium

June 2

Capital Unbound: The Cato Summit on Financial Regulation

Featuring Mark Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies, Cato Institute; Joshua Rosner, Graham Fisher & Co. and Co-Author, Reckless Endangerment; Commissioner J. Christopher Giancarlo, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Kevin Dowd, Professor of Finance & Economics, Durham University and Adjunct Scholar, Cato Institute; Thaya Knight, Associate Director, Financial Regulation Studies, Cato Institute; Commissioner Michael Piwowar, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; George Selgin, Director, Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, Cato Institute.

10:00am Waldorf-Astoria New York, 301 Park Avenue, New York, NY

Of Special Note

The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom

The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom

Two long wars, chronic deficits, the financial crisis, the costly drug war, the growth of executive power under Presidents Bush and Obama, and the revelations about NSA abuses, have given rise to a growing libertarian movement in our country – with a greater focus on individual liberty and less government power. David Boaz’s newly released The Libertarian Mind is a comprehensive guide to the history, philosophy, and growth of the libertarian movement, with incisive analyses of today’s most pressing issues and policies. The Libertarian Mind is the ultimate resource for the current, burgeoning libertarian movement.

Special! 10 Copies for $10

Cato Pocket Constitution

To encourage people everywhere to better understand and appreciate the principles of government that are set forth in America’s founding documents, the Cato Institute published this pocket-size edition.

Cato Book

The Tyranny of Silence

With the tragedies in Denmark and Paris, self-censorship in the face of intimidation and the nature of free speech are at the forefront of public debate. No one knows this debate better than Flemming Rose, the editor of the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in 2005 that set off a global firestorm. In Tyranny of Silence, published by the Cato Institute, Rose offers a deeply personal look at attempts to limit free speech in a multireligious, culturally borderless world.

Get your copy today.

The Beautiful Tree Audiobook

The Beautiful Tree Audiobook Now Available

Upon its release several years ago, The Beautiful Tree was hailed as “a masterpiece.” Author James Tooley braids together personal experience, community action, individual courage, and family devotion to tell the story of the small, parent-funded schools he first came upon in India that could help achieve universal education. Tooley details his travels from the largest shanty town in Africa to the mountains of China, and the children, parents, teachers, and entrepreneurs who taught him that the poor are not waiting for educational handouts. They are building their own schools and learning to save themselves.

This best selling and award winning Cato Institute book is now available as an unabridged audiobook for $24.95.