April 7: Contrary to what many opponents of Social Security privatization have charged, personal retirement accounts aren’t risky or untried, Social Security analyst Carrie Lips said at a Cato Policy Forum, “State and Local Government Retirement Programs: Lessons in Alternatives to Social Security.” Lips, whose recent study found that more than 5 million state and local government workers have opted out of Social Security, said that those privatized programs offer a better rate of return and are tailored to meet specific needs of and offer more choices to participants. Benefits administrators from San Diego, Massachu-setts, and Galveston discussed the success of privatized retirement plans.
April 13: At “Liberty in the New Millennium” in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the speakers were Minnesota’s governor, Jesse Ventura; term-limits activist and author Eric O’Keefe; Mike Tanner, director of the Cato Project on Social Security Privatization; and Jerry Taylor, director of natural resource studies at Cato.
April 14: Government officials have lied, hidden evidence, distorted facts, engaged in coverups, and set up innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments, guilty pleas, and convictions, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Bill Moushey said at a Forum for “Win at All Costs: Prosecutorial Abuse in the Federal Courts.”
April 14: On the eve of the tax filing deadline, Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), author of H.R. 2001, argued that the income tax, which he called a “double tax,” should be replaced with a national sales tax, at a Book Forum for The National Retail Sales Tax: Making April 15th Just Another Day. Former senator Bob Packwood (R-Oreg.), chief sponsor of the 1986 Tax Reform Act, said a national sales tax is more likely to be supported by the public than is a flat tax.
April 15: At a Cato Policy Forum, “Is Oil a Strategic Commodity?” Robert Copaken of the U.S. Department of Energy said that because America is likely to depend even more on oil from the Middle East in the future, oil should remain a major consider-ation of U.S. foreign policy. Jerry Taylor, director of natural resource studies at Cato, contended that oil should not be treated as a strategic commodity and that historical attempts to treat it as one have been “ruinous.”
April 21: At a Cato Policy Forum, “NATO Turns 50: Midlife Crisis or Terminal Illness?” Michael Mandelbaum of Johns Hopkins University said NATO’s 50th anniversary celebrations should be viewed as a “funeral disguised as a wedding.” He contended that NATO expansion would lead to either a less secure Europe or a less relevant NATO. Other speakers were Alan Tonelson, Ted Galen Carpenter, and Robert Manning.
May 3: America’s controversial asset forfeiture laws were discussed at a conference hosted by Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies, “Forfeiture Reform: Now, or Never?” The speakers included Henry J. Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
May 6: At a Cato Policy Forum, “A Crisis in Internet Governance: ICANN, Trade-marks, and Domain Names,” Becky Burr, Milton Mueller, and David G. Post debated who should set rules for the internet.
May 7: Whether America should reduce its nuclear weapon stockpile, by how much, and under what circumstances was the topic of a Cato Policy Forum, “Nuclear Weapons: How Low Can We Go?” Adm. Stansfield Turner, former director of Central Intelligence, said the United States should take the first step to establish nuclear parity with Russia by removing 1,000 warheads from missiles and allowing Russian observers to monitor their storage.
May 7: At a Cato Roundtable, “Privacy on the Internet: Regulation or Innovation?” Rep. W. J. “Billy” Tauzin (R-La.) emphasized the need for Congress to slow down and fully consider the implications of privacy regulation for electronic commerce. Solveig Singleton, Cato’s director of information studies, pointed out that the premises behind the push for privacy regulation are poorly supported at best and asserted that the complexity of the issue and the number of unknowns alone make regulation a bad idea. David Post of Temple University Law School stressed the potential for consumer regulation from the bottom up—as opposed to self-regulation or traditional regulation—to resolve privacy issues. Other participants included Orson Swindle of the Federal Trade Commission; David Gardner of The Motley Fool; and Peter Swire of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
May 8: Appreciations of F. A. Hayek’s life and work were presented by Ronald Hamowy, who studied under Hayek at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Macedo of Princeton University at F. A. Hayek’s 100th Birthday Event.
May 11: The Cato Institute held a City Seminar in Chicago on “Liberty in the New Millennium.” Speakers included Robert Novak, syndicated columnist; Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense; and the Cato Institute’s Tim Lynch, Stephen Moore, and Edward H. Crane.
May 12: At a Cato Policy Forum to discuss Mexico’s recent free-market reforms, “Time for Mexico to Become a High-Growth Country,” Fausto Alzati and Roberto Salinas León said that Mexico needs to create the political, institutional, and economic conditions to bring massive inflows of foreign investment and technology into Mexico in the next 25 to 30 years.
May 14: In a Cato Book Forum for Getting Rich in America, coauthor Dwight R. Lee, professor of economics at the University of Georgia, discussed how average Americans can become millionaires by following “8 Simple Rules for Building a Fortune and a Satisfying Life” such as education, thrift, and investment.
May 17: At “Federalism: Reviving the Real Thing,” Michael S. Greve, author of Real Federalism: Why It Matters, How It Could Happen, said he is optimistic about the future of federalism because the increasingly mobile and sophisticated voters are more likely to be skeptical of centralized government power. Adam D. Thierer, author of The Delicate Balance: Federalism, Interstate Commerce and Economic Freedom in the Technological Age, said that before federalism can be revived, we must all agree on what that federalism should be.
May 18: What should NATO do next about its war in Kosovo? A Cato conference, “NATO’s Balkan War: Finding an Honorable Exit,” attended by more than 150 people, addressed that question. The speakers included Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.); Cato senior fellow Doug Bandow, William H. Taft IV, former deputy secretary of defense; William Hyland, former editor of Foreign Affairs; and John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago.
May 26: Various bills before Congress would create a “Passenger Bill of Rights” requiring airlines to provide more information to travelers about flight schedules and ticket prices, as well as compensation in certain cases of delays and cancellations. David Schaffer of the House Committee on Transportation defended the bill at a Cato Policy Forum, “The Airline Passenger Bill of Rights: Protecting Travelers or Raising Prices?” James Gattuso of the Competitive Enterprise Institute said the bill will hurt consumers because the costs will be passed on to them. Instead of having the federal government tell the airlines how to improve service quality, the goal should be to have more competition. Darryl Jenkins of George Washington University said delays are going to get worse because the United States is stuck with a rigid and inflexible air traffic control system.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 1999 edition of Cato Policy Report.