2 (Author at Cato Institute) https://www.cato.org/ en Ralph Nader cites Edward H. Crane’s criticism of corporate subsidies and other issues on NPR affiliate WESA Radio https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/ralph-nader-cites-edward-h-cranes-criticism-corporate-subsidies-0 Sun, 24 Aug 2014 12:07:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/ralph-nader-cites-edward-h-cranes-criticism-corporate-subsidies-0 Ralph Nader cites Edward H. Crane’s criticism of corporate subsidies and other issues on FBN’s After the Bell https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/ralph-nader-cites-edward-h-cranes-criticism-corporate-subsidies Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:21:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/ralph-nader-cites-edward-h-cranes-criticism-corporate-subsidies Ralph Nader cites Edward H. Crane’s criticism of corporate subsidies and other issues on CNBC’s Street Signs https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/ralph-nader-cites-edward-h-cranes-criticism-corporate-subsidies-other Tue, 06 May 2014 13:50:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/ralph-nader-cites-edward-h-cranes-criticism-corporate-subsidies-other Ralph Nader cites Edward H. Crane’s criticism of corporate subsidies and other issues on NPR Weekend Edition Saturday https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/ralph-nader-cites-edward-h-cranes-criticism-corporate-subsidies Mon, 28 Apr 2014 12:25:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/ralph-nader-cites-edward-h-cranes-criticism-corporate-subsidies Edward H. Crane’s book “The Politics and Law of Term Limits” is cited by PRN’s The Sean Hannity Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/edward-h-cranes-book-politics-law-term-limits-cited-prns-sean Thu, 09 Jan 2014 14:00:00 -0500 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/edward-h-cranes-book-politics-law-term-limits-cited-prns-sean Edward H. Crane gives a speech on economics at The Future of Freedom Foundation https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/edward-h-crane-gives-speech-economics-future-freedom-foundation Wed, 16 Oct 2013 12:11:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/edward-h-crane-gives-speech-economics-future-freedom-foundation Mitt Romney v. Barack Obama: Go to Bed Early on Election Night https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/mitt-romney-v-barack-obama-go-bed-early-election-night Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Today marks the end of the interminable presidential race between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Lots of money has been spent on television, Internet and radio ads by both campaigns, SuperPacs and biased media to persuade us of the importance of this, the most significant election in America since 1860 (or thereabouts).</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Pardon my cynicism (I’m a&nbsp;libertarian), but I&nbsp;truly wish we lived in a&nbsp;nation in which it really didn’t matter who was elected President, senator or congressman. Don’t get me wrong, because I’m not saying it doesn’t—only that it shouldn’t. I&nbsp;believe the Founders had a&nbsp;similar view. We had the vote and people cared—we even bought votes with whiskey—but it didn’t really matter that much who won. We had a&nbsp;Constitution that said, sure, vote for the legislature and the presidency, but keep in mind these folks don’t have a&nbsp;heck of a&nbsp;lot of power over you or your neighbors. Congress and the presidency were constrained by the enumerated powers of the -Constitution, which the father of said document, James Madison, described as “few and defined.”</p> <p>There are historical reasons that the franchise was constricted in the new United States. Those reasons were wrong both from a&nbsp;moral standpoint and from a&nbsp;practical standpoint. By denying women, minorities and in some cases those who didn’t own land the right to vote, the early Founders set in motion long, just and difficult battles for full suffrage. The result of those battles was an inflated view of the nature of the vote. If we have the vote, now we can do this and we can do that. But that wasn’t the idea. America used democracy to elect certain government officials. But America was never intended to be primarily a&nbsp;democracy. We are a&nbsp;republic of limited governmental powers. We cannot, by majority vote, eliminate disco, much as we’d like to.</p> <p>How we came to the point where politicians had so much power over our lives is a&nbsp;sad, if predictable, story. When asked what the convention in Philadelphia had given us, Benjamin Franklin replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” The Founders were very smart people. They knew the odds against keeping a&nbsp;limited‐​government republic were long. Jefferson once wrote, “The natural progress of things is for government to gain ground and liberty to yield.” Most would have been amazed that the system prevailed for about 150&nbsp;years.</p> <p>But our heritage of liberty is still worth fighting for. More than 80% of Americans now favor term limits for Congress. I’ve testified before Congress a&nbsp;few times, and it always annoys me that the congresscritters sit high above those who are giving testimony. A&nbsp;remnant from the monarchies of Europe. The iconic founder of the first libertarian think tank, Leonard Read of the Foundation for Economic Education, used to argue that the House of Representatives should be chosen by lottery, much like a&nbsp;jury. That way they wouldn’t think of themselves as superior to the rest of us. Indeed, he thought the end result would be higher moral standards and more common sense in Congress.</p> <p>Both Republicans and Democrats assume it is the President’s job to create economic growth, be the voice of the people, stop the rise of the oceans and calm our souls in times of trouble. Obama’s most recent attack on Romney reflects this mind‐​set: “When you are President as opposed to the head of a&nbsp;private equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country gets a&nbsp;fair shot.” Go figure.</p> <p>Personally, I&nbsp;prefer this Jeffersonian construct: “A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from -injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”</p> <p>Such a&nbsp;nation allows for sleep on election night.</p> </div> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 00:00:00 -0500 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/mitt-romney-v-barack-obama-go-bed-early-election-night Obamacare: Medical Malpractice https://www.cato.org/policy-report/mayjune-2009/obamacare-medical-malpractice Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>by Edward H. Crane </p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Obamacare: Medical Malpractice <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/people/edward-crane">Edward H. Crane</a> is the founder and president of the Cato Institue. </p> <p>The columnist Robert J. Samuelson had a&nbsp;perceptive piece in the <em>Washington Post</em> recently in which he stood back from the policy trees to look at the Barack Obama forest. What he saw was disturbing. He suggests that Obama is advancing a “post‐​material economy” designed to “achieve broad social goals” that will end up spending more to get less. The president proposes to radically restructure America’s energy industry through massive tax increases (“cap and trade”) in the name of fighting the problematic notion that mankind’s miniscule addition to greenhouse gases will create crippling global warming. But as the world‐​renowned scientist Freeman Dyson points out, “Most of the evolution of life occurred on a&nbsp;planet substantially warmer than it is now and substantially richer in carbon dioxide.” </p> <p>Obama also proposes to make the failed public school model available to even younger children and make liberal arts college more accessible to hundreds of thousands of students who, as American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray points out, would be much better off going to vocational schools or junior colleges. Obama would escalate George W. Bush’s efforts to essentially federalize education in America. Never mind that the word “education” in not to be found in the federal Constitution. </p> <p>But perhaps most threatening to most Americans is Obama’s determination to nationalize health care in America. It’s a&nbsp;truly bad idea. But that is what the president has made clear he wants. Obama has publicly declared his preference for a&nbsp;single‐​payer system “managed like Canada.” His initial proposal, part of an ill‐​defined $634 billion “down payment” on health care reform, would create heavily subsidized federal insurance that would put private insurance at an unhealthy disadvantage. Some estimates suggest that private insurance would be reduced by more than 60 percent, leading ultimately to its collapse. Speaking of the Canadian system, Obama says of his approach that “it may be we end up transitioning to such a&nbsp;system.” Ya think? </p> <p>That, of course, would be a&nbsp;tremendous mistake, a&nbsp;fundamental mistake. America is a&nbsp;land of free individuals. Socialized medicine is not what we as a&nbsp;nation are about—and with good reason, both philosophical and practical. Consider: </p> <ul> <li>Eight out of ten of the most recent major medical innovations, ranging from MRIs to hip replacement, have come from the United States.</li> <li>Americans have access, on a&nbsp;per capita basis, to three times as many CT scans as Canadians and four times as many as Britons. Had the actress Natasha Richardson had her skiing accident in upstate New York rather than in Canada, she might have had a&nbsp;chance of survival.</li> <li>According to Vancouver’s Fraser Institute, the average wait for treatment by a&nbsp;specialist in Canada is 18 weeks. As the Canadian Supreme Court ruled when eliminating the national health care monopoly in 2005: “The evidence shows that in the case of certain surgical procedures, the delays that are the necessary result of waiting lists increase the patient’s risk of mortality… The evidence also shows that many patients on non‐​urgent waiting lists are in pain and cannot fully enjoy any real quality of life.”</li> <li>According to a&nbsp;Cato study British women face nearly double the mortality risk from breast cancer that American women face; British men face six times the mortality risk from prostate cancer than that faced by American men.</li> </ul> <p>Really, does it make any sense whatsoever to change our health care system to a&nbsp;nationalized system? None of which should suggest that we can’t improve on our employer‐​based, third‐​party payer approach. And we seem to be moving away from that. Cato published the first book on Health Savings Accounts, which bring about a&nbsp;major improvement by individualizing and making portable health insurance. The next great innovation is from University of Chicago finance professor and newly minted Cato adjunct scholar John Cochrane. His Cato Policy Analysis (no.633), “<a href="https://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9986">Health‐​Status Insurance: How Markets Can Provide Health Security</a>,” is a&nbsp;brilliant solution to high insurance costs and issues such as preexisting conditions. </p> <p>While left‐​wing coalitions like Health Care for America Now gear up to do battle, and more traditional opponents of socialized medicine like the business community and the American Medical Association prepare to essentially capitulate, all parties should pay attention to a&nbsp;recent front page story in the <em>New York Times</em>, headlined “Doctor Shortage Proves Obstacle to Obama Goals.” You don’t suppose that shortage has anything to do with the prospect of nationalized health care, do you?</p> </div> Thu, 09 Aug 2012 13:56:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/policy-report/mayjune-2009/obamacare-medical-malpractice The Illusion of Accountability https://www.cato.org/policy-report/mayjune-2012/illusion-accountability Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Cato’s H. L. Mencken Research Fellow, Penn Jillette, the famous illusionist and larger, louder partner of the Penn &amp;&nbsp;Teller act, is also a&nbsp;bit of a&nbsp;political philosopher. Penn argues that illusionists are much like politicians. They want the audience to look here when the real action is going on there.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>A prime example of the Penn Effect is the furor over the Government Services Administration multi‐​day party in Las Vegas. <em>It cost the American taxpayers $830,000! OMG!</em> Let’s have congressional hearings! Lots of them! (Four at last count.) It happened in Las Vegas and that means television cameras at the hearings which means lots of hearings. All the posturing congresscritters are in their committee seats, ready for some serious bi‐​partisan posturing.</p> <p>My favorite posturer is Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “The impression they conveyed by these documents,” Representative Cummings railed, “is that Mr. Neely [a senior GSA mucky‐​muck] and his wife believed they were some sort of agency royalty who used taxpayers’ funds to bankroll their lavish lifestyle. They disregarded one of the most basic tenets of government service. It’s not your money. It’s the taxpayers’ money.”</p> <p>Huzzah! for Representative Cummings. Well said. Of course, one could point out that the federal government spent much more than $830,000 during the time the congressman was speaking. Or that the National Taxpayers Union gave Elijah Cummings a&nbsp;grade of F&nbsp;in its fiscal responsibility rankings last year. Apparently the good congressman is less concerned about “other people’s money” when the cameras are off. But why pick nits? We have a $3.7 trillion federal budget and if we could have saved that $830,000 we’d only have a, well, $3.7 trillion federal budget.</p> <p>Cato Institute scholars, in solidarity with Representative Cummings and the dozens of others in Congress who have participated in lengthy hearings to get to the bottom of this GSA scandal, have offered up some additional areas into which Congress might look. Perhaps not as scandalous as these GSA outrages, but, then again, perhaps so.</p> <p><em>The GSA spent $3,200 on a&nbsp;session with a&nbsp;mind reader.</em><br>Getting the government out of the housing business — HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and much more — would save at least $45 billion annually.</p> <p><em>The GSA spent $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward all attendees for coming to the party.</em><br> Ending the futile crusade called the federal War on Drugs and the consequent abuse of our civil liberties would save at least $20 billion. And let tens of thousands of people out of jail who do not belong there.</p> <p><em>The GSA spent $75,000 for a “team‐​building” exercise by building bicycles.</em><br>Cutting federal workers’ pay by just 10 percent to bring it more in line with salaries of the private sector workers whose taxes pay federal workers would save at least $20 billion annually.</p> <p><em>The GSA spent $31,000 on a&nbsp;networking reception that included $7,000 of sushi and a $19/​person “American artisanal cheese display” (whatever that is).</em><br>Federal education programs (find the word “education” in the Constitution) have cost Americans $1.85 trillion since 1965, without noticeably improving outcomes. Eliminating them would save at least $60 billion annually. The GSA spent $1,840 on vests for the 19 regional GSA “ambassadors.”</p> <p>By eliminating unnecessary overseas military missions such as Iraq and Afghanistan and creating a&nbsp;leaner defense budget, we could save at least $100 billion a&nbsp;year.</p> <p>The problem is that, like the GSA partygoers, members of Congress tend to forget that it truly is not their money they are spending. Taking seriously the enumerated and therefore limited powers given to the federal government in the Constitution (and clearly reinforced by the 10th Amendment) requires serious congressional hearings on downsizing government — not frivolous show hearings. Save Cato.</p> </div> Sat, 30 Jun 2012 15:55:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/policy-report/mayjune-2012/illusion-accountability Afghanistan: Lost Opportunity for the GOP? https://www.cato.org/policy-report/novemberdecember-2009/afghanistan-lost-opportunity-gop Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The Founders envisioned a&nbsp;federal government constitutionally limited to defending our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For that to happen, we must have at least one political party that strongly advocates limiting the power of government. For much of the 19th century that party was the Democrats. For the early part of the 20th century and from the early 1960s through 1988, that party was the Republicans. Today, it is difficult to find noninterventionists in either party.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The Democrats demonstrate a&nbsp;disdain for capitalism, free trade, and the validity of contracts. They cheer the restriction of certain types of speech on campus and in federal law, and think nation building is our moral obligation, even when there is no discernible U.S. interest involved. Lately, the Democrats have been popularly associated with opposition to waging war in far‐​flung corners of the globe. But evidence on the ground today tells a&nbsp;somewhat different tale.</p> <p>As for the GOP, it has openly abandoned the limited‐​government principles of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. Little other evidence is needed than the Medicare prescription drug benefit — with its $13‐​trillion unfunded liability — passed with a&nbsp;strongarm campaign by the Bush White House and a&nbsp;Republican congressional majority.</p> <p>What happened to the Republicans? Well, the two Bush presidencies didn’t help. Neither did the supply‐​side movement, focused on tax cuts and economic growth, which is laudable. But supporters of those ideas didn’t talk about spending cuts, much less the proper role of government. They had the effect of replacing “liberty” as the motivating force behind the GOP with “growth,” a&nbsp;somewhat less inspiring ideal.</p> <p>But perhaps most pernicious has been the role played by the neoconservatives. The late William F. Buckley used his conservative flagship publication, <em>National Review</em>, to make anti‐​communism the litmus test for joining the conservative movement. Dealing with the Soviets during the Cold War was clearly an important task, but it should not have opened the door to the limited government movement to the neoconservatives, who always have been advocates of big government. With the neocon foot in the policymaking door after the Cold War ended, the drumbeat for war in Iraq began in earnest a&nbsp;decade before 9/11.</p> <p>It is important to realize that neocons are not just nation‐​building, American empire advcates. They like big government across the board. No Child Left Behind, the thinly disguised effort to nationalize education in America, was principally a&nbsp;neocon initiative. Consider this comment from the late Irving Kristol, self‐​described “godfather” of the neoconservative movement: “Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable.” Indeed.</p> <p>There is an insidious philosophy underlying this acceptance of the “natural” growth of statism. Neoconservative columnist David Brooks wrote in the late 1990s that we need “a vigorous One Nation Conservatism that will connect a&nbsp;revived sense of citizenship with the long‐​standing national greatness Americans hold dear.” In another essay, he wrote, “Ultimately, American purpose can find its voice only in Washington… Individual ambition and will power are channeled into the cause of national greatness. And by making the nation great, individuals are able to join their narrow concerns to a&nbsp;larger national project.” A&nbsp;frightening worldview.</p> <p>Which brings us to the war in Afghanistan. The neocons are predictably enthused about the prospect of a&nbsp;prolonged U.S. occupation there. A&nbsp;dozen or so of them recently sent a&nbsp;letter to President Obama urging him to up the ante. Astonishingly, the president who was elected as the anti‐​war protest candidate appears poised to take the neocons’ advice and commit tens of thousands more troops to a&nbsp;conflict in which immediate U.S. interests are unclear at best.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Obama’s domestic agenda is in shambles. Americans are outraged at the prospect of trillion‐​dollar deficits, auto bailouts and the subsidies to irresponsible bankers. And they don’t want socialized medicine.</p> <p>The “tea parties” and town hall meetings are essentially libertarian. There is no conservative policy agenda, only a&nbsp;demand that the government stop trying to run our lives.</p> <p>Republicans should take this opportunity to return to their traditional noninterventionist roots, and throw their neoconservative wing under the bus and forcefully oppose the war in Afghanistan. The Republicans have a&nbsp;chance at this moment to reclaim the mantle of the party of nonintervention — in your healthcare, in your wallet, in your lifestyle, and in the affairs of other nations.</p> </div> Thu, 16 Feb 2012 11:06:00 -0500 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/policy-report/novemberdecember-2009/afghanistan-lost-opportunity-gop Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/tea-party-patriots-second-american-revolution Thu, 16 Feb 2012 07:00:00 -0500 John H. Fund, Edward H. Crane, Mark Meckler, Jenny Beth Martin https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/tea-party-patriots-second-american-revolution What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate https://www.cato.org/policy-report/mayjune-2010/what-we-have-here-failure-communicate Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>One of the classic examples of the failure of politicians to communicate with the citizenry is found in a&nbsp;video of Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu, giving what turned out to be his last speech to the teeming masses gathered in a&nbsp;square in Bucharest.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Oblivious to the mood of the people, Ceausescu is at his bombastic, self‐​important best until he realizes that the chants from the crowd below are not praise, but something rather to the contrary. The look on his face is, as they say in the MasterCard commercials, priceless.</p> <p>America is a&nbsp;democratic republic, complete with an excellent Constitution that politicians still feel compelled to acknowledge, if not take seriously. So, the growing communications gap between the average American and the average politician, while worrisome, is not irreparable. Solving it should be a&nbsp;high priority for all involved.</p> <p>The communication problem involves the accelerating realization on the part of many Americans that the essence of America, namely, a&nbsp;respect for the dignity of the individual, which inherently involves the government leaving the individual alone, has been pretty much forgotten by the politicians in Washington, D.C., the state capitals, and city councils around the nation. Which explains why public employees now make on average 30 percent more than their private sector counterparts — and 70 percent more in benefits. The political class seems to believe they have carte blanche to do as they please. They turn a&nbsp;deaf ear to increasingly vocal expressions of frustration by the American people.</p> <p>Take, for example, a&nbsp;town hall meeting in Washington state last summer in which a&nbsp;young Marine veteran said to six‐​term Rep. Brian Baird, “Now I&nbsp;heard you say tonight about educating our children, indoctrinating our children, whatever you want to call it.” The congressman denied wanting to indoctrinate, but the young father simply responded, “Stay away from my kids.” Virtually all of the 400 or so people in the hall rose as one in loud applause. It was a&nbsp;Ceasusescu moment. The congressman had no clue the people of his district weren’t interested in the federal government concerning itself with the education of their children.</p> <p>The politicians simply do not get it. The Declaration of Independence says governments are created to secure our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In other words, to leave us the hell alone. That is what makes for American exceptionalism, despite President Obama’s claim that all nations are exceptional. No, they are not, not in the way America is.</p> <p>As I&nbsp;write these words, across my desk comes a&nbsp;press release from Bloomberg telling me that 18- term Rep. Henry Waxman wants Congress to ban the use of smokeless tobacco in Major League Baseball dugouts. This is part of our communications problem. Read my lips, Henry: It is none of Congress’s business if baseball players want to use smokeless tobacco (or any other kind of weed, for that matter). And this is the encouraging thing about the Tea Party movement. It is made up of average Americans who are sick to death of politicians regulating, taxing, controlling, and limiting individual choice.</p> <p>This bipartisan communications problem is also exemplified by a&nbsp;joint press conference held just before the start of the lamentable 111th Congress by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Said Reid, “Sen. McConnell and I&nbsp;believe … that we are going to work in a&nbsp;bipartisan basis … to solve the problems of the American people.” Whoa! See how simple the communications problem is? They think we sent them to Congress to solve our problems when we actually sent them there to see to it that we are left alone to solve our own problems.</p> <p>Add to that the fact that many, if not most, of our problems have been created by Congress in the first place and we have the basis for a&nbsp;healthy peaceful revolution. Some 85 percent of Americans like their healthcare, so Congress shoves a&nbsp;government‐​mandated system down our throats. Taxes are way too burdensome, so Congress is contemplating a&nbsp;valueadded tax to add to our burden. We spend billions of dollars on wars in the Middle East for no rational reason. Climate change proves to be a&nbsp;wildly exaggerated issue, yet Congress still plans on raising taxes on energy to solve this non‐​existent problem. The list is long, and the frustration grows daily. Talk about a&nbsp;failure to communicate. According to a&nbsp;recent Pew Research Center Poll, 78 percent of Americans don’t trust the federal government. As Ronald Reagan famously put it, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’&nbsp;”</p> </div> Mon, 13 Feb 2012 17:22:00 -0500 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/policy-report/mayjune-2010/what-we-have-here-failure-communicate The Fallacy of a Cause Greater than Yourself https://www.cato.org/policy-report/novemberdecember-2010/fallacy-cause-greater-yourself Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The political class got slapped upside the head November 2, as well it should have. Those who are claiming a&nbsp;GOP victory miss the point. With some notable exceptions most voters cast their ballots awkwardly, while holding their nose. This was, for the most part, voters saying Enough! Enough with your power‐​mongering, enough with your arrogance, enough with your utter incompetence.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>One of the more encouraging elements of the Tea Party movement has been its focus on the Constitution. It is a&nbsp;wonderful, if flawed, document. It grants very little power to the federal government, whose powers were to be few and well defined, to quote James Madison, who knew a&nbsp;thing or two about it. As my colleague Roger Pilon likes to point out, the key to understanding the Constitution is in understanding the Declaration of Independence. And the key to understanding what the Declaration is all about is the radical phrase, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” It is to secure these rights that proper governments are instituted.</p> <p>Alas, the political class is bemused by such naiveté, not to say disdainful of the concept that America is about <em>individual</em> liberty. They always have grand designs, and it annoys the hell out of them when we focus on our own goals, dreams, and ambitions. Or when we disagree with their grand designs. As President Obama points out, when the little people get scared, we don’t “always think clearly.” The political class, in a&nbsp;word, is patronizing.</p> <p>My late friend and colleague, Roy Childs, described the battle between the political class and the rest of us as liberty against power. It is a&nbsp;clean, simple explanation of what all the brouhaha in Washington is about. There are people who enjoy having power over others and there are people who just want liberty and the right to pursue happiness. Ultimately, those who lust for power can gain it only by convincing others to give it up. A&nbsp;major means of doing that is to drum into our hardwired brains (to quote the noted community organizer, Barack Obama) that we, as individuals, are not all that important. We should, the political class keeps telling us, pursue not our self‐​interest, but a&nbsp;cause greater than ourselves. Usually a&nbsp;cause the political class has conjured up.</p> <p>Here are but a&nbsp;few examples: Neoconservative intellectual David Brooks defines National Greatness as when “<em>individual ambition and willpower are channeled into the cause of national greatness. And by making the nation great, individuals are able to join their narrow concerns to a&nbsp;larger national project</em>.” Former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel at a&nbsp;commencement address last spring said, “<em>The final lesson I&nbsp;want to leave you with today is the importance of serving a&nbsp;cause greater than yourself</em>.”</p> <p>Sen. John McCain, urging students to join the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps, likes to say, “<em>please remember there’s nothing nobler than serving a&nbsp;cause greater than your own self‐​interest</em>.” That’s an idea seconded by former President George W. Bush who told Larry King he hopes his daughters will “<em>someday understand what it means to serve a&nbsp;cause greater than self</em>.”</p> <p>Journalist Andrew Ferguson searched the White House database and came up with 1,020 times W. used that phrase. The list of the political class making this point is long, indeed. But perhaps the most telling example comes from President Obama himself, who doesn’t shy away from the implications of all this self‐​sacrifice he wants from his hardwired constituents.</p> <p>In the May 16 issue of <em>Parade</em> magazine, the president offered a&nbsp;sample commencement address. <em>Of course, each of you has the right to take your diploma and seek the quickest path to the biggest paycheck or the highest title possible</em>. [Bill Gates comes to mind, and he didn’t even have a&nbsp;diploma — cool title and tons of money.] <em>But remember: You can choose to broaden your concerns to include your fellow citizens and country instead</em>. [See, here’s where Gates went wrong. What did he ever do for the 320 million of us?] <em>By tying your ambitions to America’s, you’ll hitch your wagon to a&nbsp;cause larger than yourself</em>.”</p> <p>The president then goes on to recommend public service over the private sector, even to suggest “<em>you may decide to make your mark in ways that may be smaller but are just as important — volunteering at a&nbsp;local shelter…</em>” Volunteering is certainly laudable, but the business of business — making money producing something society values — is what makes the luxury of volunteerism possible.</p> <p>Look, by way of disclaimer, of course we all take pleasure in achieving goals while working with others — a&nbsp;volunteer group to fight illiteracy, a&nbsp;corporate task force to create a&nbsp;software breakthrough — but that’s not what the political class is talking about. Those two examples are too close to pursuing your own values, which by definition is not selfless. No, they want you to look to them for the goals “greater than yourself.” Hopefully, November 2&nbsp;was a&nbsp;statement that Americans — across the political spectrum — are reasserting their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness as defined by each of us, not by the political class.</p> </div> Mon, 13 Feb 2012 13:53:00 -0500 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/policy-report/novemberdecember-2010/fallacy-cause-greater-yourself Meet the Parents of the Super PACs https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/meet-parents-super-pacs Edward H. Crane, David Keating <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>If you are looking for the villains who created the so‐​called Super PACs, look no further. We are the guilty parties.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>We are two of the winning plaintiffs in <em>Speech​Now​.org v. Federal Election Commission</em>, which was decided by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in March 2010. Contrary to the belief that <em>Citizens United</em> created Super PACs, <em>Speech​Now​.org</em> made such groups possible and legal.</p> <p>As Jan. 31’s disclosure of the supporters of Super PACs showed, the majority of funding for almost all of them comes from individuals. In <em>Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission</em> (2010), the Supreme Court did not alter the $5,000 limit on individuals combining their efforts through traditional political action committees to promote a&nbsp;federal campaign. But <em>Speech​Now​.org</em> recognized the right of individuals to give unlimited funds to any such committee organized solely to make independent expenditures(although the contributors and their contributions must be disclosed). What <em>Citizens United</em> did was to affirm the right of corporations and unions to make such independent expenditures.</p> <p>To understand the larger context, let’s step back. The most fundamental Supreme Court decision on campaign finance was <em>Buckley v. Valeo</em> (1976), which grappled with the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). (Ed Crane was also a&nbsp;plaintiff in that case.) Virtually all aspects of those amendments enhanced the prospects for incumbents, not surprisingly since incumbents wrote them. Most self‐​serving, perhaps, was a&nbsp;radical spending limit on congressional campaigns. The Burger Court struck down the spending limit as a&nbsp;blatant affront to the First Amendment.</p> <p>Yet the court in <em>Buckley</em> inexplicably affirmed a $1,000 contribution limit to federal campaigns — ignoring that contributions obviously affect spending levels. According to research by the Cato Institute’s John Samples, incumbent re‐​election rates, already high, increased after that decision.</p> <p>Nevertheless, in <em>Buckley</em> the court ruled that individuals could spend unlimited amounts to support a&nbsp;federal candidate if those expenditures were not coordinated with the candidate’s campaign. <em>Speech​Now​.org</em> went further. It held that the First Amendment allows two, or four, or 400 or more individuals to pool their resources and exercise the same right to make independent expenditures that one individual could make under <em>Buckley</em>. Hence, Super PACs.</p> <p>Money is a&nbsp;proxy for information in campaigns. Yet Americans spend as much on potato chips as they do on all federal elections ($3.6 billion in 2010). Maybe that partly explains why most Americans cannot name their congressman, much less say where he or she stands on the issues.</p> <p>That’s why we believe Super PACs are a&nbsp;good thing. In the recent Republican South Carolina primary, Super PACs reportedly outspent the candidates’ campaigns by two to one. That means more information was available on the candidates and more interest in the campaigns has been generated. It could be argued that Super PACS are the reason the GOP primary campaign this year is a&nbsp;horse race and not a&nbsp;coronation.</p> <p>That said, we’d prefer to allow donors to give money to candidates’ campaigns directly. Under such a&nbsp;system Super PACs would still exist, but they’d likely have less influence. And donors could give their candidates a&nbsp;stronger voice in the messaging about their campaigns.</p> <p>It is instructive to recall the 1968 presidential campaign of Minnesota’s late Democratic Sen. Gene McCarthy (who was also a&nbsp;plaintiff in <em>Buckley</em>). Popular support for the war in Vietnam was declining, yet no establishment candidate was available to challenge the war — certainly not Richard Nixon. On the Democratic side, President Lyndon Johnson was escalating the conflict. McCarthy was the most outspoken and articulate opponent of the war in the U.S. Senate, but he lacked the resources to conduct a&nbsp;serious presidential campaign.</p> <p>Had the 1974 amendments to FECA, with their $1,000 contribution limits, been in place in 1968, there would have been no “Clean Gene for President” campaign. As it was, wealthy liberals such as Stewart Mott, Stanley Sheinbaum and the recently deceased Max Palevsky stepped up to make six‐ and seven‐​figure contributions to fund the McCarthy campaign, donations worth nearly $10 million in today’s dollars.</p> <p>Suddenly, tens of millions of antiwar Americans had a&nbsp;candidate. McCarthy didn’t win the New Hampshire Democratic primary, but he did so well that President Johnson, seeing the handwriting on the wall, announced he was not going to run for re‐​election. Such is the manner in which campaign‐​finance laws can affect history.</p> <p>According to a&nbsp;group called United for the Future, there are some 70 progressive organizations committed to overturning <em>Citizens United</em>. No doubt they’ll also target the <em>Speech​Now​.org</em> case, once its implications are fully understood. That is unfortunate. There was a&nbsp;time when liberals put their faith in freedom and the wisdom of the voters.</p> </div> Sat, 11 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0500 Edward H. Crane, David Keating https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/meet-parents-super-pacs Why Ron Paul Matters https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-ron-paul-matters Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The controversy surrounding decades‐​old newsletters to which GOP presidential aspirant Ron Paul lent his name is regrettable. First, it is regrettable because the sometimes bigoted, intolerant content of those newsletters is inconsistent with the views of the congressman as understood by those of us who know him. Yet, while Mr. Paul disavows supporting those ideas, he refuses to repudiate his close association with their likely source, Lew Rockwell, head of the Alabama‐​based Mises Institute.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Second, the <em>New York Times</em> editorialized recently that these unsavory writings “will leave a&nbsp;lasting stain on … the libertarian movement.” That is wishful thinking on the part of the Times, but it adds to the background noise surrounding Mr. Paul’s candidacy, obscuring the real libertarian policy initiatives that have made his candidacy the most remarkable development of the 2012 campaign.</p> <p>Ron Paul’s libertarian campaign has traction because so many Americans respond to his messages:</p> <p>• <em>Tax and spending</em>. If ever there were sound and fury signifying nothing, it has to be the recent “debate” over the budget. Covered by the media as though it was negotiations on the Treaty of Versailles, the wrestling match between Republicans and Democrats centered on the nearly trivial question of whether the $12 trillion increase in the national debt over the next decade should be reduced by 3% or 2%.</p> <p>Mr. Paul would cut the federal budget by $1 trillion immediately. He can’t do it, of course, but voters sense he really wants to. As Milton Friedman once explained, the true tax on the American people is the level of spending — the resources taken from the private sector and employed in the public sector. Whether financed from direct taxation, inflation or borrowing, spending is the burden.</p> <p>• <em>Foreign policy and military spending</em>. As the only candidate other than Jon Huntsman who says it is past time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan, Mr. Paul has tapped into a&nbsp;stirring recognition by limited‐​government Republicans and independents that an overreaching military presence around the world is inconsistent with small, constitutional government at home.</p> <p>The massive cost of these interventions, in treasure and blood, highlights what a&nbsp;mistake they are, as sensible people on the left and right recognized from the beginning. Of course we want a&nbsp;strong military capable of defending the United States, but our current expenditures equal what the rest of the world spends, which makes little sense. It is futile to try to be the world’s policeman — to try to create an American Empire as so many neoconservatives promote. And we can’t afford it.</p> <p>• <em>Civil liberties</em>. Libertarians often differ with conservatives over issues related to civil liberties. Mr. Paul’s huge support among young people is due in large part to his fierce commitment to protecting the individual liberties guaranteed us in the Constitution. He would work to repeal significant parts of the so‐​called Patriot Act. Its many civil liberties transgressions include the issuance by the executive branch of National Security Letters (a form of administrative subpoena) without a&nbsp;court order, and the forbiddance of American citizens from mentioning that they have received one of these letters at the risk of jail.</p> <p>The Bush and Obama administrations have claimed the right to incarcerate an American citizen on American soil, without charge, without access to an attorney, for an indefinite period.</p> <p>President Obama even claims the right to kill American citizens on foreign soil, without due process of law, for suspected terrorist activities. Meanwhile, the Stop Online Piracy Act moving through the House is a&nbsp;clear effort by the federal government to censor the Internet. Mr. Paul stands up against all this, which should and does engender support from limited government advocates in the GOP.</p> <p>• <em>Austrian economics</em>. Mr. Paul is often criticized for references to what some consider obscure economists of the so‐​called Austrian School. People should read them before criticizing. Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek and his mentor Ludwig von Mises were two of the greatest economists and social scientists ever to live.</p> <p>Modern Austrian School economists such as Lawrence H. White, now at George Mason University, and Fred Foldvary at Santa Clara University predicted the housing bubble and the recession that followed the massive, multitrillion‐​dollar malinvestment caused by government redirection of capital into housing. Mr. Paul, like Austrian School economists, understands that we would be better off with a&nbsp;gold standard, competing currencies or a&nbsp;monetary rule than with the arbitrary and discretionary powers of our out‐​of‐​control Federal Reserve.</p> <p>Mr. Paul should be given credit for his efforts to promote these ideas and other libertarian policies, all of which would make America better off. He’d be the first to admit he’s not the most erudite candidate to make the case, but surely part of his appeal is his very genuine persona.</p> <p>Which is not to say that Mr. Paul is always in sync with mainstream libertarians. His seeming indifference to attempts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, his support for a&nbsp;constitutional amendment to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal aliens, and his opposition to the Nafta and Cafta free trade agreements in the name of doctrinal purity are at odds with most libertarians.</p> <p>As for the Ron Paul newsletters, the best response was by my colleague David Boaz when the subject was raised publicly in 2008. About them he wrote in the Cato Institute’s blog:</p> <p>“Those words are not libertarian words. Maybe they reflect ‘paleoconservative’ ideas, though they’re not the language of Burke or even Kirk. But libertarianism is a&nbsp;philosophy of individualism, tolerance, and liberty. As Ayn Rand wrote, ‘Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.’ Making sweeping, bigoted claims about all blacks, all homosexuals, or any other group is indeed a&nbsp;crudely primitive collectivism. Libertarians should make it clear that the people who wrote those things are not our comrades, not part of our movement, not part of the tradition of John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick. Shame on them.”</p> <p>Support for dynamic market capitalism (as opposed to crony capitalism), social tolerance, and a&nbsp;healthy skepticism of foreign military adventurism is a&nbsp;combination of views held by a&nbsp;plurality of Americans. It is why the 21st century is likely to be a&nbsp;libertarian century. It is why the focus should be on Ron Paul’s philosophy and his policy proposals in 2012.</p> </div> Sat, 31 Dec 2011 00:00:00 -0500 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-ron-paul-matters The GOP Presidential Debates: A Waterboarding Alternative https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/gop-presidential-debates-waterboarding-alternative Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>I think I’ve solved the problem of waterboarding. We can get rid of that technique in dealing with alleged terrorists and simply force them to watch the Republican presidential debates. If they don’t fess up given the prospect of having to watch additional debates, they’re probably innocent.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Cato Institute aficionados are well aware of how fiercely non‐​partisan we are (“we” in the royal sense). Nevertheless, I&nbsp;was deeply disappointed when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie opted not to enter the race. Not only did he have the unique advantage of being smart; I&nbsp;had a&nbsp;perfect campaign slogan for him: “Fat Chance in ’12!”</p> <p>On the good news front we finally got our bilateral trade agreements ratified with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama. As far as I&nbsp;can tell, it’s the only thing to come out of the Obama administration that would actually create jobs. Perhaps that explains why he had no press conference to announce it.</p> <p>Another reason to lament the absence of Chris Christie in the presidential sweepstakes is that none of the remaining candidates, certainly including Barack Obama, have the wherewithal to discuss the 800‐​pound gorilla in the room, namely entitlements. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid together have unfunded liabilities in excess of $60 <em>trillion</em>.</p> <p>It seems as though Rep. Paul Ryan (R‐​Wis.) and Christie are the only pols out there who are willing to talk to Americans as though they are adults. Virtually all of the other so‐​called leaders of both major parties have their heads in the sand, pretending that what is an obvious fiscal crisis will go away if they just act as if it’s not there. Cato distinguished senior fellow José Piñera, architect of Chile’s wildly successful social security privatization scheme, could enlighten these leaders if only they would listen.</p> <p>Fortunately, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s hard‐​core lobbying effort to have tens of thousands of U.S. troops remain in Iraq failed. Thus, President Obama’s now claiming that he is fulfilling the campaign pledge by promising to bring the troops home by the end of the year. Let’s hope he does.</p> <p>That said, our friend Rep. Ron Paul (R‐​Texas) argues that we will continue to maintain a&nbsp;massive military force in Iraq. Certainly the world’s largest embassy there will require an impressive security force as it becomes target practice for various Iraqi factions. As for Afghanistan, don’t ask. After 9/11 we did the right thing in going into that nation and ousting the Taliban regime that tolerated al‐​Qaeda. Now, however, our efforts are utterly futile. Ultimately, we will leave (minus a&nbsp;few thousand more young Americans killed) and the non‐​nation of Afghanistan will revert to its eighth century tribal society, just as it was before we engaged in our nation‐​building there.</p> </div> Fri, 18 Nov 2011 00:00:00 -0500 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/gop-presidential-debates-waterboarding-alternative Edward H. Crane on liberating the future https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-audio/edward-h-crane-liberating-future Tue, 01 Nov 2011 10:50:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-audio/edward-h-crane-liberating-future Job‐​Killing Politicians, Modern Military Hawks, and Hapless Central Banks https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/jobkilling-politicians-modern-military-hawks-hapless-central-banks Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>President Barack Obama gave yet another speech last week on how he is going to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment in the U.S. Of course, he is not up to the task. In his defense, neither is anyone else.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Someone did a&nbsp;review of the employment growth during the tenures of the various GOP presidential candidates who have been governors. That would include Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, and Gary Johnson. You remember Johnson, don’t you, the former two‐​term Republican governor of New Mexico, a&nbsp;dark blue state? Well, it turns out that the highest percentage increase in employment was in New Mexico!</p> <p>When asked to take credit for this, the libertarian Johnson demurred. I&nbsp;didn’t do anything, he said, other than get out of the way and let the entrepreneurs create jobs. Honesty and humility in a&nbsp;politician — who knew? No wonder they keep him out of the debates.</p> <p> </p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>[I]f we are genuinely concerned about runaway government spending and massive increases in federal debt, somebody has to have the cojones to address this issue.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Having said that, it does seem to me that the 800‐​pound gorilla in the room is entitlements, and that if we are genuinely concerned about runaway government spending and massive increases in federal debt, somebody has to have the cojones to address this issue. I&nbsp;don’t see anybody in the GOP race at this juncture who does (other than Ron Paul and Johnson — no prejudice against Bachmann).</p> <p>For all his flaws on issues ranging from energy to education, the one person out there who best understands these issues and has the ability to address them in ways people can understand is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He says, according to columnist George Will, that he’s not going to run for president because he wants, as a&nbsp;good father, to spend time with his children. I&nbsp;would say he’s got that a&nbsp;bit backward, as his children’s future may well depend on a&nbsp;president who is willing to take on our absurdly out of whack entitlement programs.</p> <p>And speaking of presidential candidates, I&nbsp;note that Gov. Romney, as part of his ongoing efforts to define himself, has decided to be a&nbsp;defense hawk. He is criticizing President Obama for threatening to cut spending on the military. (At Cato we make an effort to distinguish between military spending and defense spending — they ain’t necessarily the same thing.)</p> <p>In any event, I’d be willing to bet real money that Obama will not cut the military budget. But even if he does, his greatest threat is to do it by less than 1%. Now, keep in mind that what we are spending on the military amounts to nearly 50% of what every other nation in the world spends. And that’s just talking about the cost, not the fact that our weapons are infinitely better than everyone else’s.</p> <p>Yes, we want the strongest defense in the world, but no, we don’t need to spend this kind of money to achieve it. Anyway, here’s Brother Romney ranting about a&nbsp;subject on which I&nbsp;doubt he’s spent a&nbsp;lot of time thinking: “This is the first time in my memory that massive defense cuts were proposed without any reference to the missions that would be foreclosed and the risks to which our country and its men and women in uniform would be exposed… . It flows from the conviction that if we are weak, tyrants will choose to be weak as well.”</p> <p>Hmmm. Where to begin? No one is proposing even visible military spending cuts, much less “massive” ones. And what about those “missions”? Libya? Iraq? Afghanistan? In 1961 President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the threats of the military industrial complex driving American foreign policy. Eisenhower clearly believed in a&nbsp;strong defense and recognized the threat of the Soviet Union when he spoke. But he also was smart enough to see the broader implications of a&nbsp;public choice dynamic in which all weapons systems are built in 435 congressional districts.</p> <p>As Cato’s vice president for defense and foreign policy studies Chris Preble has pointed out, historically Americans have rapidly reduced military spending at the conclusion of international conflicts. Not so anymore.</p> <p>One of the encouraging things about the Tea Party movement is that there isn’t a&nbsp;lot of support for this conservative whatever‐​the‐​military‐​wants mindset. As for “tyrants,” that word conjures up the images of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. These fashion‐​challenged tin‐​pot dictators in the Middle East don’t fit the bill. The worst comment in this lamentable primary campaign on military spending came from Pawlenty, who was asked when he spoke at Cato why the U.S. should have troops in more than 150 countries. His response was, essentially, whatever the military wants.</p> <p>Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who thinks his main job is to create full employment in America, believes that a&nbsp;zero interest rate regime will stimulate investment. He is wrong. Investment will come when people can earn money on savings and when the dollar is strong. All of this would come about if there were a&nbsp;free market in money rather than a&nbsp;top‐​down central planning regime through the Federal Reserve system.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the administration keeps trying to refinance and prop up the two institutions most responsible for our Great Recession, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Hard as it may be to understand, the market for housing needs to reset itself and we shouldn’t be cheering an increase in housing starts. We need a&nbsp;long period of essential stagnation in that industry before things can right themselves.</p> <p>In other depressing news, the European Central Bank is way underwater, even if they won’t admit it. Don’t be surprised if we soon hear those printing presses in Europe that so dismayed Ludwig von Mises in the ‘30s. You’ll get your Euros, they just won’t be worth anything. I&nbsp;know that Spain has approved a&nbsp;constitutional amendment that will install spending limits. Good for them. The problem is that it’s got so many “unlesses” that it will be no constraint whatsoever.</p> <p>I generally like to end my columns on a&nbsp;positive note, however, I&nbsp;can’t think of any this time.</p> </div> Wed, 14 Sep 2011 00:00:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/jobkilling-politicians-modern-military-hawks-hapless-central-banks Ed Crane’s research on Social Security cited on The Rush Limbaugh Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/radio-highlights/ed-cranes-research-social-security-cited-rush-limbaugh-show Mon, 12 Sep 2011 08:00:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/radio-highlights/ed-cranes-research-social-security-cited-rush-limbaugh-show Ed Crane on U.S. credit downgrade on KABC https://www.cato.org/multimedia/radio-highlights/ed-crane-us-credit-downgrade-kabc Mon, 08 Aug 2011 07:00:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/multimedia/radio-highlights/ed-crane-us-credit-downgrade-kabc Greek Bailouts, Free Speech Impediments and a Faux Debt‐​Ceiling Wrestling Match https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/greek-bailouts-free-speech-impediments-faux-debtceiling-wrestling-match Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Don’t you just love the Big Fat Greek Bailout? Here’s a&nbsp;country that has been in default for centuries, and now all of a&nbsp;sudden we’re supposed to have heart palpitations because they may default on their financial obligations yet again. Of course, anyone daft enough to buy Greek debt deserves to lose their money. Alas, many of those deserving entities are European banks–the ones our esteemed Federal Reserve Chair, Ben Bernanke, is obsessed with bailing out.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Personally, I&nbsp;rather enjoy watching the Greek government rioting against the Greek government. Since the promises of “austerity” that yielded a $150 billion bailout from Europe, the Greeks have fired precisely zero bureaucrats. This is a&nbsp;country, mind you, where a&nbsp;large number of bureaucrats may retire at full pension at the ripe old age of 45.</p> <p>According to Holman Jenkins, the state railroad maintains a&nbsp;payroll that is four times larger than its ticket sales. The truth is that the Greek government owns so much private industry (and monopoly industries) that it could cover its debt obligations simply by creating a&nbsp;free enterprise system. (Not a&nbsp;bad thought for the United States, now that I&nbsp;think about it.) Still, the likelihood is that the American taxpayer will play a&nbsp;major role in bailing out this clownish nation once again.</p> <p>And speaking of clowns, I&nbsp;note that with a&nbsp;crucial nudge from the U.S., the IMF has picked French finance minister Christine Lagarde to be head of the International Monetary Fund. One of Cato’s longer‐​term policy goals is to see the IMF disappear, but that may take a&nbsp;while. She will replace former managing director Dominique Strauss‐​Kahn, who is otherwise occupied. Ironically, Ms. Lagarde is famously known for having quipped at an otherwise all male French finance meeting that there was “too much testosterone in one room.” Presumably she would feel the same about Strauss‐​Kahn in a&nbsp;room by himself. My guess is that the Greeks are going to find out that estrogen is just as lucrative as testosterone.</p> <p>On a&nbsp;happier note, it appears that Hugo Chávez may be seriously ill. This tyrant is getting free medical care at one of Cuba’s famous free hospitals. Well, they say you get what you pay for, and in this case I&nbsp;hope he does.</p> <p>Cato has many friends from Venezuela who have suffered because of this megalomaniac, including our senior fellow in free speech, Guillermo Zuloaga. Zuloaga is the owner of the last independent television station in Caracas, Globovisión, and is now in exile in the U.S. Chávez has consciously prevented any individual in Venezuela from being perceived as a&nbsp;possible successor, and it will be interesting (and probably disturbing) to see what happens when and if he fades from the scene. Certainly with rampant crime, runaway inflation, and the economy in the tank it will be an extremely unstable situation.</p> <p>Congratulations to our friends at the Goldwater Institute in Arizona for their Supreme Court victory in <em>Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett</em>. There is virtually no aspect of so‐​called campaign finance reform that is not intended to enhance the prospects for incumbent politicians.</p> <p>Certainly that was the case with the law in Arizona that the Supremes struck down in a&nbsp;5–4 majority (it is depressing to see the so‐​called liberal justices on the Court consistently vote against the First Amendment.) Anyway, the law was intended to discourage fundraising on the part of private candidates who were not publicly funded candidates. After a&nbsp;certain threshold, the more the private candidates raised, the more money went to the publicly funded candidates from the taxpayers. As I’ve mentioned many times previously, there’s not too much money in campaigns, but too little.</p> <p>Money should be viewed as a&nbsp;proxy for information/​speech and given that most people can’t even name their congresscritter, one would think more information might be useful. There is not a&nbsp;point on the political spectrum that doesn’t have plenty of resources to have their case made. The government should simply butt out.</p> <p>Finally, professional wrestling comes to mind as I&nbsp;watch the pitched battle between the Republicans and Democrats over raising the debt limit. Trust me, the debt limit will be increased and the Democrats will agree to demands from the GOP to accept faux spending cuts. Why there shouldn’t be real spending cuts, I&nbsp;don’t know.</p> <p>After all, we’re looking at $23 trillion of debt over the next decade, and I&nbsp;believe the goal of these “negotiations” is something like $2 trillion over 10&nbsp;years. Knock yourselves out, fellas. Lest I&nbsp;sound even more cynical than usual, I&nbsp;will concede, without naming names, that there are more serious limited government people in Congress today than I’ve ever before witnessed. Let us hope their numbers grow.</p> </div> Tue, 19 Jul 2011 00:00:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/greek-bailouts-free-speech-impediments-faux-debtceiling-wrestling-match Actually, We Are Not All in This Together https://www.cato.org/policy-report/mayjune-2011/actually-we-are-not-all-together Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Having attended UC–Berkeley in the sixties, I&nbsp;have a&nbsp;certain nostalgia for the wacko hippie leftist crowd. I&nbsp;agreed with them on the Vietnam War back then, and not much else.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>So I’m always curious as to what today’s equivalent, MoveOn​.org, is up to. A&nbsp;recent fundraising letter they sent to their members (trust me, I’m not one) included this statement: “As progressives, we share a&nbsp;core belief that we’re all in this together.”</p> <p>It is a&nbsp;small victory, I&nbsp;suppose, that leftists feel compelled to refer to themselves as progressives these days. But MoveOn is certainly correct that the collectivist notion of “all in this together” is central to the leftist worldview. One is reminded that the slogan of the totalitarians running the dystopia depicted in the dark, futuristic movie <em>Brazil</em>, was “We’re all in this together.” Here is Robert Reich, noted progressive and professor of public policy at my old alma mater, advising President Obama on how he should respond to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan: “Obama must show America that the basic choice is between two fundamental views of this nation. Either we’re all in this together, or we’re a&nbsp;bunch of individuals who happen to live within these borders and are mainly on their own.”</p> <p>Set aside the false dichotomy. The choice is hardly between in‐​this‐​together sheep and atomistic individuals. Tocqueville was astounded at the many ways Americans loved to work together. Granges, churches, business associations, volunteer fire departments — the list was pretty much endless. That said, these associations were voluntary and the government had nothing to do with them. If there is one thing that identifies American exceptionalism, it is a&nbsp;fierce individualism. Americans don’t like to be told what to do — especially by bureaucrats.</p> <p>But that is what the left is all about. Hillary Clinton lamented to MSNBC during her failed presidential bid, “You know, when I&nbsp;ask people, ‘What do you think the goals of America are today?’ people don’t have any idea. We don’t know what we’re trying to achieve. And I&nbsp;think that in a&nbsp;life or in a&nbsp;country you’ve got to have some goals.”</p> <p>After all, “winning the future” is the Obama administration’s theme these days, and without national “goals,” how can we tell if we’ve won or not? Indeed, President Obama took Prof. Reich’s advice during his speech on the deficit, citing “a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things [many, as it turned out] we can only do together, as a&nbsp;nation.”</p> <p>It has been duly noted by scholars that the two great totalitarian philosophies of the 20th century, communism and fascism, had similar methodologies and similar goals, so to speak. Certainly, denigrating the importance of the individual and subsuming his or her personal interests to the greater goals of the national movement were integral to both those horrific philosophies. Yet this underlying anti‐​individualist, collectivist theme continues — not just on the left — in today’s political environment.</p> <p>Neoconservative superstar David Brooks wrote in the <em>New York Times</em> just this past March, “Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a&nbsp;common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation. I&nbsp;wonder if Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part because they are less conscious of themselves as components of a&nbsp;national project.”</p> <p>And I&nbsp;wonder if it has ever dawned on Mr. Brooks that the “fiscal catastrophe” we Americans face is a&nbsp;direct result of national projects called Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Oh yes, and the national project to make every American a&nbsp;homeowner. Not to put too fine a&nbsp;point on it, but there would be no $20 trillion unfunded liability in Social Security had we allowed <em>individual</em> accounts. There would be huge surpluses. And limiting house purchases to <em>individuals who could afford them</em> would have avoided the multi‐​trillion‐​dollar disaster that national project created.</p> <p>It’s enough to make you want to go out and see <em>Atlas Shrugged</em>. Again.</p> </div> Mon, 30 May 2011 10:45:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/policy-report/mayjune-2011/actually-we-are-not-all-together Limiting Government: What Washington Can Learn from Minnesota https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/limiting-government-what-washington-can-learn-minnesota Wed, 25 May 2011 11:00:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane, Tim Pawlenty https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/limiting-government-what-washington-can-learn-minnesota Actually, We’re Not All in This Together https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/actually-were-not-all-together Edward H. Crane <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Having attended UC–Berkeley in the sixties, I&nbsp;have a&nbsp;certain nostalgia for the wacko hippie leftist crowd. I&nbsp;agreed with them on the Vietnam War back then, and not much else.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>So I’m always curious as to what today’s equivalent, MoveOn​.org, is up to. A&nbsp;recent fundraising letter they sent to their members (trust me, I’m not one) included this statement: “As progressives, we share a&nbsp;core belief that we’re all in this together.”</p> <p>It is a&nbsp;small victory, I&nbsp;suppose, that leftists feel compelled to refer to themselves as progressives these days. But MoveOn is certainly correct that the collectivist notion of “all in this together” is central to the leftist worldview. One is reminded that the slogan of the totalitarians running the dystopia depicted in the dark, futuristic movie <em>Brazil</em>, was “We’re all in this together.” Here is Robert Reich, noted progressive and professor of public policy at my old alma mater, advising President Obama on how he should respond to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan: “Obama must show America that the basic choice is between two fundamental views of this nation. Either we’re all in this together, or we’re a&nbsp;bunch of individuals who happen to live within these borders and are mainly on their own.”</p> <p> </p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>If there is one thing that identifies American exceptionalism, it is a&nbsp;fierce individualism.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Set aside the false dichotomy. The choice is hardly between in‐​this‐​together sheep and atomistic individuals. Tocqueville was astounded at the many ways Americans loved to work together. Granges, churches, business associations, volunteer fire departments — the list was pretty much endless. That said, these associations were voluntary and the government had nothing to do with them. If there is one thing that identifies American exceptionalism, it is a&nbsp;fierce individualism. Americans don’t like to be told what to do — especially by bureaucrats.</p> <p>But that is what the left is all about. Hillary Clinton lamented to MSNBC during her failed presidential bid, “You know, when I&nbsp;ask people, ‘What do you think the goals of America are today?’ people don’t have any idea. We don’t know what we’re trying to achieve. And I&nbsp;think that in a&nbsp;life or in a&nbsp;country you’ve got to have some goals.”</p> <p>After all, “winning the future” is the Obama administration’s theme these days, and without national “goals,” how can we tell if we’ve won or not? Indeed, President Obama took Prof. Reich’s advice during his speech on the deficit, citing “a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things [many, as it turned out] we can only do together, as a&nbsp;nation.”</p> <p>It has been duly noted by scholars that the two great totalitarian philosophies of the 20th century, communism and fascism, had similar methodologies and similar goals, so to speak. Certainly, denigrating the importance of the individual and subsuming his or her personal interests to the greater goals of the national movement were integral to both those horrific philosophies. Yet this underlying anti‐​individualist, collectivist theme continues — not just on the left — in today’s political environment.</p> <p>Neoconservative superstar David Brooks wrote in the <em>New York Times</em> just this past March, “Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a&nbsp;common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation. I&nbsp;wonder if Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part because they are less conscious of themselves as components of a&nbsp;national project.”</p> <p>And I&nbsp;wonder if it has ever dawned on Mr. Brooks that the “fiscal catastrophe” we Americans face is a&nbsp;direct result of national projects called Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Oh yes, and the national project to make every American a&nbsp;homeowner. Not to put too fine a&nbsp;point on it, but there would be no $20 trillion unfunded liability in Social Security had we allowed <em>individual</em> accounts. There would be huge surpluses. And limiting house purchases to <em>individuals who could afford them</em> would have avoided the multi‐​trillion‐​dollar disaster that national project created.</p> <p>It’s enough to make you want to go out and see <em>Atlas Shrugged</em>. Again.</p> </div> Fri, 20 May 2011 00:00:00 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/actually-were-not-all-together Gerson Gets It Wrong Again https://www.cato.org/blog/gerson-gets-it-wrong-again Edward H. Crane <p>Michael Gerson’s predictable, reflexive attack on Rep. Ron Paul in his <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ron-pauls-land-of-second-rate-values/2011/05/09/AFD8B2bG_story.html?hpid=z4">May 10 op‐​ed in the <em>WaPo</em></a> for Paul’s sensible stand in favor of ending the futile crusade called the War on Drugs, makes a&nbsp;curious argument.&nbsp;He asserts that there is a “de facto decriminalization of drugs” in Washington, D.C.&nbsp;Curious, because there are few places in the nation where the drug war is waged more vigorously.&nbsp;Doesn’t seem to be working, does it? <br><br /> <br> Yet Gerson would expand the effort.&nbsp;Never mind that the social pathologies in the District for which Gerson’s compassionate conservative heart bleeds are mainly a&nbsp;result of making drugs illegal:&nbsp;Turf wars with innocents caught in the crossfire; children quitting school to sell drugs because of the artificially high prices prohibition creates; disrespect for the law due to a&nbsp;massive criminal subculture. <br><br /> <br> Gerson, one of the chief architects of the disastrous Bush II administration, should step away from his obsessive disdain for libertarianism and consider the nationwide decriminalization of drugs undertaken in Portugal in 2001.&nbsp;Drugs use is down, particularly among young people, and drug‐​related crimes have dropped precipitously.&nbsp;There is a&nbsp;reason hundreds of thousands of Mexicans have taken to the streets to call for the end to the war on drugs there that is tearing apart the fabric of Mexican society.&nbsp;On top of the social aspects of the drug war dystopia, Cato senior fellow and Harvard economist Jeffery Miron estimates that ending the drug war in the U.S. would <a href="https://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12169">save $41.3 billion annually</a>.&nbsp;As usual, Ron Paul has it right.</p> Mon, 16 May 2011 10:46:31 -0400 Edward H. Crane https://www.cato.org/blog/gerson-gets-it-wrong-again