Why the Federal Government Fails

Most Americans think that the federal government is incompetent and wasteful. What causes all the failures? A new study from Cato scholar Chris Edwards examines views on government failure, and outlines five key sources of federal failure. Edwards concludes that the only way to substantially reduce failure is to downsize the federal government: “Political and bureaucratic incentives and the huge size of the federal government are causing endemic failure. The causes of federal failure are deeply structural, and they will not be solved by appointing more competent officials or putting a different party in charge.”

How Piketty Misses the Point

Thomas Piketty’s book, first published in French in 2013, was released in English last year to wide acclaim and a top position on the New York Times bestseller list.  But in the new issue of Cato Policy Report, Deirdre N. McCloskey says that, in focusing solely on the distribution of income, Piketty overlooks the most surprising secular event in history: the Great Enrichment of the average individual on the planet by a factor of 10 and in rich countries by a factor of 30 or more.  Also in this issue, Cato executive vice president David Boaz explains how two recent issues – gay marriage and trade agreements – illustrate how politically realistic reform plans (or second-best solutions) still push public debate and public policy in a direction consistent with liberty and limited government.

Debating the Iran Deal

Iran and six world powers have finalized an agreement on the future of Iran’s nuclear program. The deal decreases the likelihood of an Iranian nuclear weapon and staves off the risk of another costly U.S. war in the Middle East. Critics of the deal argue that this will pave the way to a nuclear-armed Iran and lead to proliferation throughout the region. Neither outcome is likely. Iran will remain a troublesome regional player with little power-projection capability under this deal. The difference now, explains Cato scholar Christopher Preble, is that their nuclear program is significantly rolled back and subject to stringent monitoring.

Capitalism’s Assault on the Indian Caste System

Dalits—once called untouchables—constitute one-sixth of India’s population. They traditionally occupied the bottom of the caste hierarchy, in the filthiest occupations. In a new paper, Cato scholar Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar explains how the arrival of the competitive market and its creative destruction broke old caste bonds and facilitated the shift of dalits to new occupations. “The dalit revolution is still in its early stages,” says Aiyar, “but is unstoppable.”

Recent Commentary

Two Takeaways from Samuel DuBose’s Killing

The more widespread use of body cameras will make it easier for the American public to better understand how police officers do their jobs and under what circumstances they feel that it is necessary to resort to deadly force.

More Gridlocked Than Ever

The Senate passed a transportation bill that continues deficit spending on highways and transit. Congress should instead return to a pay-as-you-go system.

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.

Annual Report

Cato’s 2014 Annual Report

The Cato Institute’s 2014 Annual Report is now available online for immediate viewing. This year’s Annual Report details Cato’s accomplishments, growth, and the wide range of initiatives taken over the past year. In addition, the Annual Report covers Cato’s rapid growth in media impact, multimedia output, publishing projects, and highlights issues Cato is energetically pursuing in the year ahead.

Cato in Times Square

Cato in Times Square

Individual liberty and limited government now light up Times Square. All summer long, Cato’s commitment to stopping the government from overspending, overregulating, policing the world, and invading our privacy will be shining down to passersby from a jumbo screen. To those visiting Cato’s site for the first time: Welcome! We hope you’ll take an opportunity to learn more about our work on the subjects you’ve seen on our screen, along with the wide range of other current, new, and emerging issues Cato scholars are exploring every day.