As Justin Logan puts it, we borrow money from China to make precision‐guided munitions which we then give to the Europeans so they can drop them on Libya. This is a product of U.S. involvement in NATO.
In this new video, Christopher A. Preble, Benjamin H. Friedman and Justin Logan provide analysis about our involvement in NATO with specific respect to the Libya campaign.
Read more of Cato’s work on NATO.
There are a number of ways for you to stay connected to the Cato Institute on the web, outside of our main website (Cato.org), this blog (Cato@Liberty), our Spanish language site (El Cato), our political theorists' digital round table (Cato | Unbound), or our hub for high school and college students (Cato on Campus). As we have grown since our founding in 1977, so have we grown online in recent years, in an effort to provide more opportunities to interact with our research and experts.
We appreciate your interest in our work and we encourage you to leverage any and all of our information resources--both at our main website, on this blog, and across the reaches of new media space. We have recently made many of our multimedia resources available for embed to bloggers, and we are looking continuously at ways to try to connect you to our projects. After the fold, check out a sampling of ways you can connect to Cato online and for ways you can use our multimedia resources.
Our fiscal policy goal should be smaller government, but here’s a video for folks who think that balancing the budget should be the main objective.
The main message is that restraining the growth of government is the right way to get rid of red ink, so there is no conflict between advocates of limited government and serious supporters of fiscal balance.
More specifically, the video shows that it is possible to quickly balance the budget while also making all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent and protecting taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax. All these good things can happen if politicians simply limit annual spending growth to 2 percent each year. And they’ll happen even faster if spending grows at an even slower rate.
This debunks the statist argument that there is no choice but to raise taxes.
In their 2006 Cato Policy Analysis, “Amateur‐to‐Amateur: The Rise of a New Creative Culture,” Gregory Lastowka and Dan Hunter wrote about how the functions that make up the creative cycle — creation, selection, production, dissemination, promotion, sale, and use of expressive content — are undergoing revolutionary decentralization and disintermediation.
The only thing professional in the clip below was the writing of the song. It deserves its credit, but the performance itself, production of the video, its selection, dissemination, and promotion (Twitter users, YouTube) are all amateur or amateur supported by a professionally managed, ad‐supported platform.
Watch it a second time to take in the reactions of the girls sitting in front of the map. If you like, compare it with the tacky, overproduced, and flat “professional video”.
This is amateur entertainment that rivals any professional production, in part because it’s amateur. Assuming this performer dedicates himself further to his craft, he can rival or surpass anything put out by yesterday’s professionals.
(And, yes, I’m waiting to learn that I’ve been duped by some clever marketing scheme, but I hope this is real.)
Every economic theory — even socialism and Marxism — agrees that saving and investment (a.k.a., capital formation) are a key to long‐run growth and higher living standards. Yet the tax code penalizes with double taxation those who are willing to forgo current consumption to finance future prosperity. This new video, narrated by yours truly, explains why the capital gains tax should be abolished.
Unfortunately, Obama wants to go in the wrong direction. He wants to boost the official capital gains tax rate from 15 percent to 20 percent — and that is after imposing a back‐door 3.8 percentage point increase in the tax rate as part of his government‐run healthcare scheme.
The video concludes with six reasons why the tax should be abolished, including its negative impact on both jobs and competitiveness.
The Tea Party movement may endure, but its endurance will be a testament to its ability to understand that cutting government means having a long‐term focus, says John Samples, author of the Cato book The Struggle to Limit Government. In a new video, Samples outlines an assessment of what Tea Partiers should do if they want to sustain an effort to cut government.
He offers five pieces of advice for members of the Tea Party movement:
1. Republicans aren’t always your friends.
2. Some tea partiers like big government.
3. Democrats aren’t always your enemies.
4. Smaller government demands restraint abroad.
5. Leave social issues to the states.
The secrecy surrounding government surveillance is a constant source of frustration to privacy activists and scholars: It’s hard to have a serious discussion about policy when it’s like pulling teeth to get the most elementary statistics about the scope of state information gathering, let alone any more detailed information. Even when reporting is statutorily required, government agencies tend to drag their heels making statistics available to Congress — and it can take even longer to make the information more widely accessible. Phone and Internet companies, even when they join the fight against excessive demands for information, are typically just as reluctant to talk publicly about just how much of their customers’ information they’re required to disclose. That’s why I’m so pleased at the news that Google has launched their Government Requests transparency tool. It shows a global map on which users can see how many governmental demands for user information or content removal have been made to Google’s ever‐growing empire of sites — now including Blogger, YouTube, and Gmail — starting with the last six months.
So far, the information up there is both somewhat limited and lacking context. For instance, it might seem odd that Brazil tops the list of governmental information hounds until you bear in mind that Google’s Orkut social network, while little‐used by Americans, is the Brazilian equivalent of Facebook.
There are also huge gaps in the data: The United States comes in second with 3,580 requests from law enforcement at all levels, but that doesn’t include intelligence requests, so National Security Letters (tens of thousands of which are issued every year) and FISA warrants or “metadata” orders (which dwarf ordinary federal wiretaps in number) aren’t part of the tally. And since China considers all such government information requests to be state secrets — whether for criminal or intelligence investigations — no data from the People’s Republic is included.
Neither is there any detail about the requests they have counted — how many are demands for basic subscriber information, how many for communications metadata, and how many for actual e‑mail or chat contents. The data on censorship is similarly limited: They’re counting governmental but not civil requests, such as takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
For all those limits — and the company will be striving to provide some more detail, within the limits of the law — this is a great step toward bringing vital transparency to the shadowy world of government surveillance, and some nourishment to the data‐starved wretches who seek to study it. We cannot have a meaningful conversation about whether censorship or invasion of privacy in the name of security have gone too far if we do not know, at a minimum, what the government is doing. So, for a bit of perspective, we know that U.S. courts reported a combined total of 1,793 (criminal, not intel) wiretaps sought by both federal and state authorities. Almost none of these (less than 1 percent) were for electronic interception.
This may sound surprising, unless you keep in mind that federal law establishes a very high standard for the “live” interception of communications over a wire, but makes it substantially easier — under some circumstances rather terrifyingly easy — to get stored communications records. So there’s very little reason for police to jump through all the hoops imposed on wiretap orders when they want to read a target’s e‑mails.
If and when Google were to break down that information about requests — to show how many were “full content” as opposed to metadata requests — we would begin to have a far more accurate picture of the true scope of governmental spying. Should other major players like Yahoo and Facebook be inspired to follow Google’s admirable lead here, it would be better still. Already, though, that one data point from a single company — showing more than twice as many data requests as the total number of phone wiretaps reported for the entire country — suggests that there is vastly more actual surveillance going on than one might infer from official wiretap numbers.