October 5: The war on drugs has been “an absolute failure,” said Gov. Gary Johnson (R-N.M.) at a Cato Institute conference on national drug policies, “Beyond Prohibition: An Adult Approach to Drug Policies in the 21st Century.” Johnson argued that the government should regulate narcotics but not punish those who abuse them: “Make drugs a controlled substance like alcohol. Legalize it, control it, regulate it, tax it. If you legalize it, we might actually have a healthier society.” The day-long conference, which was covered by CNN and C-SPAN, featured three panels of scholars and activists on drug policies and a debate between Daniel Polsby, professor of law at George Mason University, and Daniel Lungren, former attorney general of California. Speakers included Joseph McNamara, research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a former police chief; Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center; Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums; and Cato’s Roger Pilon, Ted Galen Carpenter, and Timothy Lynch.
October 13: At “The Coming Crisis in Long-Term Care Financing,” Stephen Moses of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing said that the government has created perverse incentives that currently discourage people from taking seriously the problems with financing long-term care. Jim Martin of the 60 Plus Association stressed the importance of having market incentives to make long-term care insurance both attractive and affordable. David Kendall of the Progressive Policy Institute contended that we need a long-term care system that presumes everyone will participate but allows people to opt out. Joshua Weiner of the Urban Institute argued that private-sector initiatives can help solve some of the problems with long-term care financing but that we should continue focusing on improving the public sector’s delivery system.
October 21: Leading policymakers and monetary experts discussed the current global monetary order and proposals for improving that order at the Cato Institute’s 17th Annual Monetary Conference, “The Search for Global Monetary Order.” Jerry L. Jordan of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland gave the keynote address, and David Malpass of Bear Stearns gave the luncheon address. Other speakers at the conference included Stanley Fischer of the International Monetary Fund; Anna J. Schwartz of the National Bureau of Economic Research; Judy Shelton of the DUXX Graduate School of Business Leadership in Monterrey, Mexico; Steve Hanke, an adjunct scholar at Cato and professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University; and Allan H. Meltzer of Carnegie Mellon University.
November 3: Jagdish Bhagwati, one of the world’s foremost trade economists, and Brad Smith of Microsoft keynoted a “Global Liberty in the New Millennium” seminar held in Seattle a few weeks before the World Trade Organization meeting there. Cato’s Brink Lindsey, Robert Levy, and Ed Crane also spoke.
November 4–5: Scholars, entrepreneurs, and scientists gathered at the third annual Cato Institute/Forbes ASAP Conference, “Technology and Society,” to consider the implications of the Knowledge Revolution for business and government. The speakers included William Schrader, chairman and CEO of PSINet; Peter Thiel, CEO of Confinity Inc.; higher education entrepreneur John Sperling; venture capitalist Tim Draper; Charles Brofman, president of CyberSettle; Dave Hughes of Old Colorado City Communications; Cato’s Ed Crane and David Boaz; Mike Malone of Forbes ASAP; and Tom Siebel, chairman and CEO of Siebel Systems.
November 10: The Cato Distinguished Lecturer Series featured Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa discussing “The Future of Liberty in Latin America.” Vargas Llosa said that Latin Americans will remain pessimistic about democracy in theory until they see actual justice improved in their countries.
November 10: Deepak Lal argued that poor societies can benefit from adopting Western commercial institutions but rejected the idea that modernization is equivalent to Westernization at a Cato Book Forum for his book, Unintended Consequences: The Impact of Factor Endowments, Culture, and Politics on Long-Run Economic Performance. Lal, professor of international development studies at UCLA, discussed the geographical circumstances, religious thought, and historical incidents that explain the West’s escape from poverty.
November 15: At the end of 1999, the U.S. government will complete the turnover of the Panama Canal to Panama. Meanwhile, the government of Panama has awarded a contract to a Hong Kong–based shipping company to operate ports at either end of the canal. At the Cato Policy Forum, “Is China a Threat to the Panama Canal?” Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy argued that we are relinquishing control of the canal “at our peril” in the face of the threat from China. Richard Nelson of the Atlantic Council contended that there is no evidence that the company has inappropriate ties to the government of the People’s Republic of China or its military. Michael Shifter of Inter-American Dialogue said that the transfer of the canal should be “celebrated” as a foreign policy achievement that helps spread capitalism across the Northern Hemisphere.
November 17: U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Susan Esserman defended the U.S.-China Trade Agreement at a Cato Institute Conference on Trade, “Seattle and Beyond: The Future of the WTO.” Douglas Irwin of Dartmouth College; Bill Lash of George Mason University School of Law; Razeen Sally of the London School of Economics; and Dan Griswold, associate director of Cato’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, discussed the limited but important role of the World Trade Organization. Russell Roberts of Washington University at St. Louis; Ron Cass of Boston University; Grant Aldonas, chief counsel of the Senate Finance Committee; and Brink Lindsey, director of Cato’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, discussed the need to build American support for free trade.
November 19: At a “Liberty in the New Economy” seminar in New York, presidential candidate Steve Forbes laid out his vision of limited government and how it differed from the views of George W. Bush. Economist Lawrence Kudlow and Cato’s Stephen Moore and José Piñera also spoke.
November 22: As part of the Cato Institute’s series of speeches by presidential aspirants, Patrick J. Buchanan, a candidate for the Reform Party nomination and author of A Republic, Not an Empire, answered critics and outlined his vision for the future of American foreign policy. In his speech, “The New Americanism: Buchanan Responds to Clinton’s Attack on the ‘New Isolationism,’” Buchanan called for the United States to engage in talks with Iraq and Iran. Those countries, unlike China and Viet Nam, “never killed tens of thousands of American soldiers in war,” Buchanan said. “If we can engage China and North Vietnam, and even North Korea, why can we not at least talk to Iran and Iraq?” he asked.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2000 edition of Cato Policy Report.