February 15: The United States should reverse its policy on Cuba to allow Americans to travel there, argued Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) at a Cato Policy Forum, “The Cuban Economic Embargo: Time for a New Approach?” Sanford noted that the government’s inconsistent policy allows Americans to travel to such countries as Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iran but not to Cuba, which is no longer a military threat. Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the embargo hurts American businesses, workers, and farmers, who would benefit from trading with Cuba, and provides Fidel Castro an excuse for the failure of his centralized economic policy. Phillip Peters, vice president of the Lexington Institute, argued that scrapping the embargo would allow American ideas to spread throughout Cuba.
February 16–20: The Cato Institute held its annual Benefactor Summit in Key Largo, Florida. The guest speakers included syndicated columnist Robert Novak, Harvard professor Richard Pipes, technology pioneer William Schrader, Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, and Star Parker of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education. Cato’s William A. Niskanen, Ed Crane, David Boaz, Ted Galen Carpenter, James A. Dorn, Robert A. Levy, Brink Lindsey, Darcy Olsen, Tom Palmer, Roger Pilon, Michael Tanner, and Jerry Taylor discussed the Institute’s accomplishments during the past year as well as Cato’s future plans.
February 29: Lawsuits filed by dozens of citizens in cahoots with the federal government tilt the system in favor of the government and against legitimate businesses, said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R‐Ky.) at a Cato Institute conference, “Guns in America: Public Nuisance, Defective Product, or Constitutional Right?” The government‐sponsored lawsuits against gun makers undermine the separation of powers by regulating and taxing citizens through litigation, said McConnell, who is the sponsor of the Litigation Fairness Act of 1999. David Yassky of Brooklyn Law School argued that the Second Amendment was originally intended to keep state militias from being disarmed by the federal government. Nelson Lund of George Mason University said that the Second Amendment “unambiguously” protects an individual’s right to own and bear arms. Michael Beard of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence contended that there is no evidence that the Second Amendment was intended to provide individuals the right to own guns unrelated to militia service. Glen A. Caroline of the National Rifle Association argued that enforcement of current laws would be better public policy than would passing more gun control laws. Robert A. Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, argued that the real goals of the gun suits are (1) to bypass the legislative process and (2) to warn other unpopular industries that they could also have multiple government entities targeting them. Dennis A. Henigan of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence argued that using the courts to punish negligent gun makers will motivate the firms to add safety features. Mark A. Behrens of Crowell & Moring LLP said that the issue should be resolved in legislatures because the different regions of the country have different beliefs about the danger of guns. Larry Rosenthal, deputy corporation counsel of Chicago, argued that the gun industry must be given incentives to invest in safety.
March 9–10: The Cato Institute hosted a two‐day conference, “Solving the Global Public Pensions Crisis II: The Privatization Revolution,” in New York. The speakers included Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute; Tim Penny, former congressmen (D‐Minn.) and a Cato Institute fellow in fiscal policy studies; Jack Kemp, codirector of Empower America; Sun Jianyong of the Department of Social Insurance Funds Supervision in the People’s Republic of China; Klaus Friedrich, chief economist of the Dresdner Bank AG in Germany; Milton Ezrati of Jamison, Eaton & Wood; David Willetts, MP, shadow secretary of state for social security of the United Kingdom; and Boris Nemtsov, vice speaker of the Duma, Russian Federation.
March 14: The Clinton administration should work on containing Saddam Hussein rather than becoming further entangled in a flawed covert action that is doomed to fail, argued Cato adjunct scholar David Isenberg at a Cato Policy Forum, “What Should the United States Do about Saddam Hussein?” David Wurmser of the American Enterprise Institute said that Washington must aggressively work with opposition groups to topple Saddam while Russia is still weak, Europe is still introverted, China is still not ready to confront America, and nobody in the Middle East has a real advantage. Daniel Byman of RAND contended that current policy on Iraq is working well. He noted that the country is militarily weak and has not invaded its neighbors recently and that its weapons of mass destruction program is limited.
March 14: Tibor Machan, distinguished fellow and professor at the Leatherby Center of Chapman University in California, and Douglas J. Den Uyl, director of educational programs at Liberty Fund, discussed their recent books on philosopher Ayn Rand at a Cato Institute Book Forum, “Two New Books on Ayn Rand’s Legacy.” Machan, author of Ayn Rand, argued that Rand was never considered a mainstream philosopher because of her classic economics themes that challenged the reigning political orthodoxy. Den Uyl, author of The Fountainhead: An American Novel, argued that The Fountainhead upholds the model of what America should be, whereas Atlas Shrugged gives up on America in favor of Galt’s Gulch.
March 15: T. J. Rodgers, president and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation, discussed the theme of his recent study at a Cato Policy Forum, “Should Silicon Valley Normalize Relations with Washington?” Rodgers argued that the political scene in Washington is antithetical to the core values of Silicon Valley. Michael Maibach, vice president of government relations at Intel Corporation, was less hostile toward the relationship between Washington and the high‐tech world.
March 15: The Cato Institute hosted a reception in honor of Peter Bauer to celebrate the publication of his book From Subsistence to Exchange and Other Essays. James Buchanan, Nobel laureate in economics, gave brief comments about the importance of Bauer’s work.
March 21: Cato’s Edward H. Crane, Ian Vásquez, and Jerry Taylor were among the speakers at a Cato City Seminar in Los Angeles. Columnist and talk‐show host Larry Elder gave the luncheon address, “Limited Government: Built on the Foundation of Personal Responsibility.”
March 30: At a Cato Policy Forum, “Trouble in the Taiwan Strait,” Cato senior fellow Doug Bandow argued that America should avoid offering to defend Taiwan but should, by selling it weapons, help it to defend itself. Adm. Eugene Carroll (Ret.) said that the China‐Taiwan crisis has been exaggerated and that America should refrain from harsh rhetoric that could worsen relations. Ross Munro, author of The Coming Conflict with China, argued that China is driven by its ambition to control the sea routes to Japan and access to the South China Sea and to undercut American credibility in Asia.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2000 edition of Cato Policy Report.