May 1: In the name of "universal service," the Telecommunications Act of 1996 empowers the Federal CommunicationsCommission to create public entitlements to advanced telecommunications services. At a Policy Forum on "UniversalService: Socializing the Telecommunications Infrastructure," Milton Mueller, professor of communications at RutgersUniversity; Wayne Leighton, senior economist at Citizens for a Sound Economy; and Lawrence Gasman, director oftelecommunications and technology studies at the Cato Institute, addressed the question: Can mandated and subsidizedtelecommunications serve consumers better than competition?
May 8: Auctions are heralded as the most beneficial means of allocating the airwaves that have been set aside for advancedtelevision services (ATV), including high-definition television. But if federal regulators insist that broadcasters be subject topublic-interest controls, must they offer broadcasters free ATV spectrum as a quid pro quo? That question was the focus of"Beyond Budgetary Concerns: A Free-Market Perspective on ATV Spectrum Auctions," a Policy Forum featuringTom Hazlett, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; James Gattuso, vice president for policy research at Citizensfor a Sound Economy; and Bob Okun, vice president of NBC.
May 14: Cato hosted a delegation from the Hungarian Embassy at a Roundtable Luncheon. The discussion with Cato staffand policy analysts centered on the Hungarian perspective on European security issues, expanding NATO, and U.S. troops inHungary.
May 15: During a Policy Forum titled "Red Resurgence or Revitalized Reform? Russia's Political Future," SusanEisenhower, chairman of the Center for Post-Soviet Studies; Dmitry F. Mikheyev, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute; andAriel Cohen, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, discussed the prospects and implications of a possiblecommunist victory in Russia's June election.
May 16: Although natural gas deregulation is generally considered an economic success pregnant with valuable lessons forother industries, a web of regulatory oversight still surrounds the industry. Jerry Ellig of the Center for Market Processes andJoseph Kalt of Harvard University appeared at a Cato Book Forum to discuss their new book, New Horizons in NaturalGas Deregulation, a collection of papers originally presented at a 1995 Cato conference. Ellig and Kalt reviewed the pastfailure of natural gas regulation, the lessons of regulatory reform, and how further deregulation should proceed in the 1990s.
May 22: As chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Task Force on Privatization, Rep. Scott Klug (R-Wis.) is aleading proponent of privatization in the 104th Congress. At a Policy Forum titled "Privatization: New Zealand's SuccessStory," Klug discussed his fact-finding mission to New Zealand and the success of that country's privatization program. Inmeetings with railroad executives and sheep and dairy farmers living without subsidies, Klug learned lessons that Americansshould heed.
May 23: The Cato Institute held its 14th Annual Monetary Conference, "The Future of Money in the Information Age."The full-day conference addressed the technological viability and economic implications of digital currency, or "E-money."Speakers included Scott Cook, chairman of Intuit, manufacturer of the popular business software "Quicken"; Rep. MichaelCastle (R-Del.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy; and Jerry L. Jordan,president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. For the first time, a Cato event was carried live via interactivetelevideo to nine sites around the country as well as broadcast on the Internet. Over 175 people attended the event inWashington, D.C., while others participated in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Silicon Valley, and other places.
May 28: As telephone services in New Zealand were deregulated, bureaucrats took a more "hands-off" approach than in theUnited States. Should U.S. regulators take a similarly minimalist approach, allowing even the terms of interconnection to be setby private negotiations? That was the topic of discussion during "New Zealand Telephone Deregulation: What Lessonsfor the United States?" a Policy Forum featuring Milton Mueller of Rutgers University, Jeff Rohlfs of Strategic PolicyResearch, and Joseph Farrell of the Federal Communications Commission.
May 29: This year's decertification of Colombia and the confirmation of Gen. Barry McCaffrey as "Drug Czar" suggest astepped-up effort in the war on drugs. With that in mind, Cato asked, "Does the International Drug War Make Sense?"at a Policy Forum featuring Robert Gelbard, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs,and Kevin Jack Riley, author of Snow Job? The War against International Cocaine Trafficking. Gelbard reviewed thelogic of Washington's international narcotics control strategies and explained how the United States plans to significantlyreduce the flow of drugs across its borders. Riley questioned the supply-side campaign, examined its impact on drug-sourcecountries, and assessed its prospects for success.
June 6: Cato held its midyear Board of Directors Meeting. Board members set the Institute's course and were brought upto date on Cato's policy activities, progress in fundraising, and fiscal standing.
June 17: In Seattle Cato hosted a City Seminar, "Leviathan and the New Millennium: An Agenda for Real Reform,"that featured a keynote address by Lawrence Kudlow, economic counsel at Laffer Advisors, Inc., and a panelist on CNBC'sStrictly Business. Other speakers included José Piñera, co-chairman of Cato's Project on Social Security Privatization,Edward H. Crane, president of the Cato Institute, Stephen Moore, Cato's director of fiscal policy studies, and MichaelTanner, Cato's director of health and welfare studies.
June 18: America's security commitments abroad remain largely unchanged despite the end of the Cold War. Nowhere is thatmore evident than on the Korean peninsula, where a commitment of nearly 40,000 U.S. troops, costing billions of dollars ayear, threatens to draw the United States into any conflict that might erupt in Northeast Asia. Cato senior fellow DougBandow appeared at a Book Forum to discuss his new Cato book, Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in aChanged World. Bandow argued that it is time to phase out the American military commitment to South Korea, which hastwice the population of North Korea and an economy 18 times as large as that of the North. That step would free the UnitedStates of an obsolete obligation and give South Korea responsibility for its own security.
June 19: Cato hosted a City Seminar in San Francisco on "Leviathan and the New Millennium: An Agenda for RealReform." The keynote address was given by Ward Connerly, a member of the Board of Regents of the University ofCalifornia and chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative, which would outlaw racial quotas in state policy. Otherspeakers included José Piñera, co-chairman of Cato's Project on Social Security Privatization and Edward H. Crane, StephenMoore, and Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute.
June 21: In the postcommunist era Russia and Eastern Europe have implemented systems of parental choice in educationsimilar to the U.S. voucher concept. At a Book Forum for Educational Freedom in Eastern Europe, author Charles L.Glenn, professor of education at Boston University, discussed his survey of educational reforms in 10 East European countriesand the lessons that America might learn. Denis P. Doyle of the Heritage Foundation commented.
June 26: Living standards and rates of growth differ dramatically around the world. Robert J. Barro, Robert C. WaggonerProfessor of Economics at Harvard University and author of Getting It Right: Markets and Choices in a Free Society,spoke at a Book Forum on what accounts for those disparities. He discussed the relationships among material progress anddemocracy, domestic institutions, and government policies and concluded that the rule of law has enormous explanatory poweras a factor in economic growth and that governments should provide markets with a stable framework of rules and then get outof the way.
June 27: Sixty years ago the New Deal Supreme Court began unraveling the Constitution of limited government byreinterpreting first the general welfare clause and then the commerce clause. Recently, scholars and the Court have begun toreexamine the commerce clause jurisprudence that gave us the modern regulatory state, but little has been done with thejurisprudence of the general welfare clause that gave us the modern redistributive state. At a Book Forum, Leonard R.Sorenson, professor of history at Assumption College, discussed Madison on the "General Welfare" of America, his newbook that provides a detailed refutation of scholars on whom members of today's Court were schooled. Comments wereprovided by Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
June 28: International negotiations addressing the issue of global climate change have resumed in Geneva, and a recent reportfrom the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has introduced a sense of urgency to those negotiations. Doesthat report really justify immediate governmental action to address global warming, or is it just another example of scientificsensationalism? At a recent Policy Forum, "The New IPCC Report: Scientific Consensus of Scientific Meltdown?"William O'Keefe of the Global Climate Coalition argued that the scientific "finds" of the report have been heavily anddisingenuously edited by political activists. Patrick Michaels, climatologist at the University of Virginia, similarly maintained thatthe report is so riddled with basic scientific errors as to be a completely unreliable guide for policymaking.