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Search Results for '"local government"'

For years, public finance experts have been warning about fiscally irresponsibility by state and local governments. Many of those governments have been spending too much money and making overly expensive promises to interest groups such as government employees. Combined with the fact that these jurisdictions are driving away taxpayers, this leaves them vulnerable to potential […]

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Some people say that California is the worst-governed state (I would probably choose Illinois or New Jersey, but it’s a close race). And if you wanted to pick the worst-governed place in California, San Francisco might be at the top of the list. The city manages to combine horrible zoning laws with insufferable red tape […]

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San Francisco used to be famous for cable cars. Now it’s getting well known for its “poop patrol” and maps that warn people about the ubiquitous presence of human excrement. Why are people defecating on city sidewalks? Because there’s a major problem with government-created homelessness thanks to rent control and zoning restrictions. And homelessness gives […]

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Centralization of government power is generally a very bad idea. Schemes for “global governance” are the worst since they usually result in cartels for the benefit of uncompetitive nations. National policies are the second-worst, often producing one-size-fits-all approaches accompanied by suffocating bureaucracy. But this does not mean that state governments and local governments do a […]

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The federal income tax is corrosive and destructive. It’s almost as if a group of malicious people decided to deliberately design a system that imposes maximum damage while also allowing the most corruption. The economic damage is not only the result of high tax rates and pervasive double taxation, but also because of loopholes that […]

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While most of my disdain is reserved for the federal government in Washington, I periodically share horror stories about foreign governments and state governments. And today we’re going to add to our collection of bone-headed policies by local governments. In some past cases, the examples captured systemic flaws. In other cases, we looked at specific […]

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I focus most of my ire on the federal government because bad policy from Washington is the biggest threat to our nation’s freedom and prosperity. But we also get plenty of bad policy from other levels of government. I periodically focus on the foibles of states such as California, Illinois, and New York. Today, though, […]

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What do Andy Johnson, Anthony Smelley, the Hammond family, Charlie Engle, Tammy Cooper, Nancy Black, Russ Caswell, Jacques Wajsfelner, Jeff Councelller, Eric Garner, Martha Boneta, James Slatic, Carole Hinders, Salvatore Culosi, and James Lieto, as well as the Sierra Pacific Company and the entire Meitev family have in common? They are all victims of brutal, […]

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While I’m a big fan of federalism, this isn’t because I have a starry-eyed view of non-Washington politicians. Of course there is plenty of grotesque misbehavior by state and local governments. And it’s most troubling when it involves law enforcement and the legal system. David French of National Review has a very powerful and compelling […]

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I have a Bureaucrat Hall of Fame to recognize government workers who have demonstrated special skills in ripping off taxpayers. And I’ve created a Moocher Hall of Fame to highlight deadbeats and scroungers who best illustrate the entitlement mentality. But maybe it’s now time to create Victims of Government Thuggery Hall of Fame (though I […]

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I’ve periodically cited the great 19th-century French economist, Frederic Bastiat, for his very wise words about the importance of looking at both the seen and the unseen when analyzing public policy. Those that fail to consider secondary or indirect effects of government, such as Paul Krugman, are guilty of the “broken window” fallacy. There are […]

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I generally focus on the profligate habits and abusive tactics of the federal government in Washington, but that doesn’t mean other levels of government are well behaved. In a column for the Washington Post, Catherine Rampell outlines some of the reprehensible ways that state and local governments extract money from the citizenry. Think of recent, […]

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I’ve been asked whether I’m a hypocrite because I support decentralization while at the same time being critical of state and local governments. I don’t think there’s any inconsistency in my position. Here’s some of what I wrote last July. I’m a strong believer in federalism, but not because I think state and local governments […]

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It’s no secret that I have very little faith in the competence and good will of government. I focus primarily on the fecklessness of Washington, but I also can’t resist highlighting malfeasance and stupidity by local governments, state governments, and foreign governments. Indeed, I’ve even had to create special categories to keep track of some […]

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I’m a strong believer in federalism, but not because I think state and local governments are competent. Politicians and interest groups are a toxic combination in all circumstance. But at least people have considerable ability to cross borders if they want to escape greedy and despotic governments at the state and local level. And when […]

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I’m a proponent of a pro-growth and non-corrupt tax code. I mostly write and talk about the flat tax, though I’d be happy to instead accept a national sales tax if we could somehow get rid of the 16th Amendment and replace it with something so ironclad that even Justices such as John Roberts and […]

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I have a handful of simple rules for good tax policy. Keep government small, since it’s impossible to have a reasonable tax system with a bloated welfare state. Keep tax rates low to minimize penalties against income, production, and wealth creation. Since capital formation is critical for long-run growth, don’t double-tax income that is saved […]

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I’m periodically dumbfounded by the bizarre actions of government. Indeed, I even put together a post comparing amazingly stupid policies in the United States and United Kingdom. And I later updated that post with new details of brainless bureaucracy. Top U.K. entries included an effort to stop children from watching Olympic shooting events and (what must be) […]

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This post could be entitled, “So many dumb bureaucrats, so little time,” but let’s have some fun and turn it into a contest. Which bone-headed decision by a local government best exemplifies mindless bureaucracy, politically correct nonsense, and government waste? Contestant Number One is Sgt Brian Albert of the Baltimore County Natural Resources Police, who […]

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This video was featured on the Cato blog by my colleague Ilya Shapiro. It is so disgusting and reprehensible that it should be widely shared. Please forward this post to as many people as possible. Kudos to the local Fox affiliate for some great work.

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Here’s another remarkable story illustrating the incompetence of government. A bureaucrat in Norfolk, VA, got paid for 12 years (including benefits) without ever showing up for work. Depending on the agency, this may actually have been a good thing (I wish IRS bureaucrats did this), but it certainly shows how taxpayer money gets wasted when […]

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I ran across two interesting lists showing how politicians at the state and local level are often just as bad as the ones in Washington, DC. First, Forbes has an article identifying the 10 states with the highest income tax rates. The top rate is a big deterrent to entrepreneurs and investors, but it’s also […]

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Julie Murphy is obviously a dangerous criminal. What else would you call a 7-year-old girl who does something as dangerous and illegal as operating a lemonade stand without getting a $120 temporary restaurant license? Fortunately, the health and safety of the people of Multnomah County were protected when an alert bureaucrat shut down her lemonade […]

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There are legitimate reasons for local governments to own land, but surely it doesn’t make sense for them to hold on to surplus acreage. Better to get that land back in private hands, where it will be used for some productive purpose. This is why the downturn does have a silver lining. A handful of […]

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A number of years ago, I read about a good samaritan who got in trouble for plowing a street so his neighbors weren’t trapped by snow. The local government didn’t like being exposed for incompetence. More recently, I watched a documentary about the Air Florida crash in Washington in the early 1980s, which featured a […]

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Given the times we live in, it’s not unreasonable for a teacher to be concerned about a student drawing a picture showing the teacher being shot. But when the student is an autistic boy with the mental capacity of a third grader, perhaps it’s a tad bit of an overreaction to have the boy arrested […]

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We should always remember that the federal government may be the biggest problem, but that does not mean that state and local governments should be exempt from scrutiny. A good (or perhaps I should say bad) example of bone-headed stupidity by bureaucrats and politicians outside of Washington comes from Texas. A local school bureaucracy has […]

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Since we’ve been talking about the snow, here’s a story about city that must have no real crime. At least, that’s the only sensible thing to conclude after reading that cops in Harrisonburg, VA, arrested (on felony charges!) two college kids for the horrific offense of tossing snowballs (technically they were charged with “throwing a […]

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I’d say only a government would be stupid enough to sign a contract that obligates them to pay somebody more than $100K each year for doing nothing, though it’s possible the corporate bureaucrats at the auto companies may have done something equally stupid in their deals with the UAW. But the real lessons to be […]

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I’m not sure what today will bring, but yesterday was a mixed experience. The skiing was fairly nice, even though the morning started with the thermostat reading -8. The trip to the slopes was the bad part. I’m driving in a convoy of cars through a small Vermont town, going as fast as the car […]

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