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California is a fascinating state for people who follow public policy. It has some immense advantages, such as climate, coastline, and natural resources. But it also has high taxes, absurd regulations, a bloated bureaucracy, and a costly welfare state. The net result of all these factors is mixed. There are some sectors that are still […]

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Other than some clever examples of gallows humor, the only silver lining to coronavirus pandemic is that more people now understand that teacher unions are an obstacle to quality education. This video hopefully will make that lesson apparent to everyone. What a reprehensible person. Needless to say, I don’t blame Mr. Meyer for putting his […]

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The 21st century has been bad news for proponents of limited government. Bush was a big spender, Obama was a big spender, Trump was a big spender, and now Biden also wants to buy votes with other people’s money. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is still a simple solution to […]

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While I freely self-identify as a libertarian, I don’t think of myself as a philosophical ideologue. Instead, I’m someone who likes digging into data to determine the impact of government policy. And because I’ve repeatedly noticed that more government almost always leads to worse outcomes, I’ve become a practical ideologue. In other words, when looking […]

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Ronald Reagan hit the nail on the head when he warned that government is usually the problem rather than the solution. It’s not just that the economy suffers when there is too much spending, regulation, and taxing, we also have far too many politicians and bureaucrats who behave as if they’re motivated by personal interest […]

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When I write an everything-you-need-to-know column, I’m inevitably guilty of hyperbole. All that I’m really doing is highlighting a very compelling example of how politicians make a mess of just about anything they touch. That’s even true in the rare cases when they’re trying to enact policies I prefer. The crux of the problem is […]

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I have a “Bureaucrat Hall of Fame” to acknowledge individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty. As measured by sloth and waste, of course. But maybe I also need a “Bureaucracy Hall of Fame” for examples that capture the self-serving nature of departments, bureaus and agencies. I already have several examples. In […]

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Having written more than 5000 columns over the past ten-plus years, I’ve learned that policy analysis doesn’t “go viral.” But I got a small taste of what that would be like when I shared an image in 2016 showing that the right kind of class warfare pits productive people (earners, entrepreneurs, and protectors) against looters […]

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Before our depressing discussion today about the fiscal impact of entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, EITC, Food Stamps, welfare, and Obamacare, etc), here’s a video of how it all began. I think this is a great introduction to the issue, particularly since you learn how “public choice” (i.e., politicians engaging in self-serving behavior) played […]

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Should high-tax states such as California and New York get a bailout? I explained last month why that would be a mistake, in large part because bailouts would reward states for irresponsible fiscal policy (similar to my argument that countries like Austria and the Netherlands shouldn’t be bullied into providing bailouts for Italy and Spain). […]

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The main problem with America’s health care system is government intervention (Medicare, Medicaid, the tax code’s healthcare exclusion, etc). The main symptom of all that intervention is pervasive “third-party payer,” which is the term for a system where people buy goods and services with other people’s money. And pervasive is no exaggeration. According to government […]

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This week featured lots of angst-ridden headlines about the annual budget deficit for the 2019 fiscal year (which ended on September 30) jumping to $984 billion, an increase of more than $200 billion. For reasons I’ve previously outlined, I don’t lose too much sleep about the level of government borrowing. What’s far more important is […]

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What’s the most inefficient and wasteful part of the federal government? It’s impossible to answer that question without greater detail. Are we supposed to identify the worst cabinet-level department? If that’s the case, then bureaucracies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of Education would be high on the list. […]

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I’m a big fan of tax competition because politicians (i.e., stationary bandits) are far more likely to control their greed (i.e., keep tax burdens reasonable) if they know taxpayers have the ability to shift economic activity to lower-tax jurisdictions. For all intents and purposes, tax competition helps offset the natural tendency (caused by “public choice“) […]

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With Florence about to hit, it’s time to preemptively explain how the federal government makes damage more likely and why post-hurricane efforts will make future damage more likely. There are just two principles you need to understand. When Washington subsidizes something, you get more of it, and the federal government subsidizes building – and living […]

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In June 2017, I shared an image and made the bold claim that it told us everything we needed to know about government. In July 2017, I shared a story and similarly asserted that it told us everything we needed to know about government. In that grand tradition of rhetorical exaggeration, here’s a court case […]

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I wrote yesterday about the continuing success of Switzerland’s spending cap. Before voters changed the Swiss constitution, overall expenditures were growing by an average of 4.6 percent annually. Ever since the “debt brake” took effect, though, government spending has increased by an average of just 2.1 percent. For all intents and purposes, Switzerland is getting […]

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The Congressional Budget Office just released its annual Economic and Budget Outlook, and almost everyone in Washington is agitated (or pretending to be agitated) about annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion starting in the 2020 fiscal year. All that red ink isn’t good news, but I’m much more concerned (and genuinely so) about this line from […]

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Ever since there was a deal to bust the budget caps back in February, I knew it was just a matter of time before Congress and the White House responded with an odious orgy of new spending. Some people told me I was being too pessimistic. After all, the President’s Office of Management and Budget […]

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I write constantly (some would say incessantly and annoyingly) about entitlement spending. And I occasionally write about discretionary spending. It’s time to address the budget in a comprehensive fashion. Let’s look at five charts to put everything in context and to show how we got into our current mess. Our first chart (based on Table […]

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When I write an everything-you-need-to-know column, it’s not because I’m under any illusions that I’ve actually amassed all the information one could need on a topic. Instead, it’s just a meme. I’m either writing an in-depth primer on an issue (for instance, spending caps or the mortgage interest deduction). Or I’ve found a story that […]

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Both the House and Senate have approved reasonably good tax reform plans. Lawmakers are now in a “conference committee” to iron out the differences between the two bills so that a consensus package can be a approved and sent to the White House for the President’s signature. Sounds like we’re on the verge of getting […]

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One of my specialty pages deals with the unfortunate nexus between sex and government. You can find columns about taxes and sex, Obamacare and sex, and licensing and sex. My new addition to that collection involves the venal government of Venezuela. Here’s a story from the Washington Post that will forever symbolize the utter failure […]

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The Great Depression was an unimaginably miserable period in American history. Income fell, unemployment rose, and misery was pervasive. But there was still room for political satire in the 1930s. Here’s a cartoon that I shared back in 2012. Based on the notations in the upper right, I gather it’s from the Chicago Tribune, though […]

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Every so often, I run across a chart, cartoon, or story that captures the essence of an issue. And when that happens, I make it part of my “everything you need to know” series. I don’t actually think those columns tell us everything we need to know, of course, but they do show something very […]

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Back in April, I shared a new video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity that explained how poor nations can become rich nations by following the recipe of small government and free markets. Now CF&P has released another video. Narrated by Yamila Feccia from Argentina, it succinctly explains – using both theory and evidence […]

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When discussing government involvement in the health sector, I usually focus on the budgetary implications. Which makes sense since I’m a fiscal wonk and programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare are diverting ever-larger amounts of money from the economy’s productive sector. I also look at the tax side of the fiscal equation and complain […]

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Last night, I retweeted an image that rubbed me the wrong way. It showed three kids who were handcuffed by undercover cops for criminal activity. And what was their crime? Were they picking pockets? Beating up tourists? Slashing tires? Nope, none of those things. Instead, they were (gasp!!) selling water to thirsty people. And they […]

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An essential part of a free market economy is the price system. The competitive pricing of goods and services transmits information to producers and consumers and creates incentives for the efficient allocation of resources. Just as the circulatory system or nervous system enables our bodies to function. And when you weaken or cripple markets with […]

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All forms of statism are despicable because they’re morally and practically evil. They’re morally evil since they’re based on coercion. And they’re practically evil since they deliver such awful results for ordinary people. The good news is that some forms of statism are widely discredited. Outside of universities, you don’t find many people who defend […]

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