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I have a fantasy of junking the entire corrupt tax system and adopting a simple and fair flat tax. I have an even bigger fantasy of shrinking the size and scope of the federal government to what America’s Founders intended, in which case Washington wouldn’t need any broad-based tax. But in the real world, where […]

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In my 30-plus years in Washington, I’ve lived through some very bad pieces of legislation. George H.W. Bush’s betrayal of his “read my lips” promise with the 1990s tax increase. Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax hike, which OMB admitted 18 months later was a failure. All sorts of bad policies under George W. Bush, starting with […]

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What word best describes the actions of government? Would it be greed? How about thuggery? Or cronyism? Writing for Reason, Eric Boehm has a story showing that “all of the above” may be the right answer. At first it seems like a story about government greed. When Mats Järlström’s wife got snagged by one of […]

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One of the points I repeatedly make is that big government breeds corruption for the simple reason that politicians have more power to reward friends and punish enemies. It’s especially nauseating when big companies learn that they can get in bed with big government in order to obtain unearned wealth with bailouts, subsidies, protectionism, and […]

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I have a very consistent view of victimless crimes. I don’t approve of drugs and I’ve never used drugs, but I think the social harm of prohibition is greater than the social harm of legalization. I don’t particularly like alcohol and I am almost a teetotaler, but I’m glad there’s now a consensus that the […]

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It’s easy to define and/or understand most statist policies. We know that a tax increase is when politicians take (or, given the Laffer Curve, try to take) more of your money based on your decisions to work, save, shop, or invest. We know that protectionism is when politicians use taxes and other policies to restrict […]

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Why did a for-profit college pay former President Bill Clinton the staggering sum of $16.5 million to serve as an “honorary chancellor for Laureate International Universities”? Was it because he had some special insight or expertise on how to improve education? Why did Goldman Sachs pay former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hundreds of thousands […]

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Last year, I shared the most depressing PowerPoint slide in Danish history. Back in 2011, I wrote about a depressing picture of tax complexity in America. Let’s continue with the “depressing” theme today. James Bessen, from Boston University Law School, has an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review about the source of corporate profits […]

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According to Economic Freedom of the World, there are five major factors that determine a nation’s economic performance. Here’s the recipe for growth and prosperity. Rule of law and property rights. Small government. Stable monetary policy. Reasonable regulatory policy. Free trade. This great publication is the first thing I check when I want to see […]

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When debating and discussing the 2008 financial crisis, there are two big questions. And the answers to these questions are important because the wrong “narrative” could lead to decades of bad policy (much as a mistaken narrative about the Great Depression enabled bad policy in subsequent decades). What caused the crisis to occur? What should […]

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Let’s compare two politicians, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, to see which one actually has the courage to fight against powerful interest groups. We’ll start with Senator Warren. She portrays herself as the scourge of Wall Street, but it appears that the Massachusetts lawmaker isn’t merely a fake Indian, […]

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I thought TARP was the sleaziest-ever example of cronyism and corruption in Washington. The Wall Street bailout rewarded politically well-connected companies, encouraged moral hazard, and ripped off taxpayers. Heck, it was so bad that it makes the sleaze at the Export-Import Bank seem almost angelic by comparison. But I may have to reassess my views. […]

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No matter how much I pontificate about Washington corruption, there’s no way I can get across the true extent of the DC establishment’s self-serving behavior. Washington is rich because government is big and the beneficiaries of this system are enjoying their status as America’s new gilded class. It’s even gotten to the point where children […]

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The Bible says that “the wages of sin is death,” but the same can’t be said of Washington, DC. The bureaucrats, lobbyists, politicians, contractors, insiders, cronyists, and influence peddlers have rigged the system so that they get rich by diverting money from people in the productive sector of the economy. How bad is the disconnect […]

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One of my first posts on this blog featured this video showing how big government breeds corruption. I’ve periodically provided examples of how this process works, citing Alaska, Chicago, Wall Street, and Washington. Here’s another example, explicitly showing how big business and big government get in bed together to rape and pillage taxpayers. The sleazy […]

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In early November, I reviewed the House’s tax plan and the Senate’s tax plan. I was grading on a curve. I wasn’t expecting or hoping for something really bold like a flat tax. Instead, I simply put forward a wish list of  a few incremental reforms that would make an awful tax system somewhat less […]

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Experts in the field of political marketing periodically tell me that you need to have sympathetic victims when trying to change policy. When pushing for Obamacare repeal, highlight a family who lost its health plan and now has to pay twice as much for insurance. When advocating for repeal of the death tax, publicize a […]

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I’m not a fan of what is sometimes called the “European Project.” Yes, one of the original goals – free trade between European nations – was admirable and has generated significant benefits. But what started as a positive idea has morphed into a Brussels-based superstate that pushes bureaucratization, centralization, and harmonization. This is why I […]

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Inequality is now a major dividing line in the world of public policy. Supporters of limited government think it’s not a big issue and instead focus on the policies that are most likely to generate growth. Simply stated, they tend not to care if some people get richer faster than other people get richer (assuming, […]

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To “commemorate” the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in Russian, I’ve been sharing a series of columns on the evil of communism. On October 30, I looked at the death toll resulting from communist tyranny. On November 5, I discussed the shameful actions of communist apologists. On November 7, I shared some amusing mockery […]

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I fully agree with my leftist friends who say that corporations want to extract every penny they can from consumers. I also (mostly) agree with them when they say corporations are soulless entities that don’t care about people. But after they’re done venting, I then try to educate them by pointing out that the only […]

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While I focus on economic issues, particularly what’s happening with fiscal policy, I maintain my libertarian “cred” by periodically pointing out that victimless crimes should be legalized. Even if I don’t particularly like the activities. I don’t approve of drugs and I’ve never used drugs, but I think the social harm of prohibition is greater than the […]

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I’ve made very serious (and hopefully substantive) arguments about why small government and free markets are the recipe for prosperity. Simply stated, profit and loss is a powerful feedback mechanism, and entrepreneurs and business owners who want to make money face constant pressure to attract consumers by offering better products at affordable prices. These forces […]

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Government subsidies have an unfortunate habit of causing widespread economic damage and often result in huge burdens for taxpayers (though sometimes consumers are the ones getting pillaged). Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subsidies contributed to a massive housing bubble that destabilized the entire financial system. Means-tested subsidies have undermined progress on poverty by trapping people […]

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At the risk of making myself unpopular with some of my fellow libertarians, not all forms of government coercion are created equal. I don’t like redistribution in the United States. I recognize that such programs are financed with taxes and that the internal revenue code is enforced by coercion (if you don’t believe me, see […]

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Over the years, I’ve had fun mocking the silly extremism of the environmental movement. Some environmentalists don’t believe in bathing, How about the environmentalists who sterilize themselves to avoid carbon-producing children, Or consider the environmentalists who produce/use hand-cranked vibrators to reduce their carbon footprint. There are also environmentalist who claim that climate change causes AIDS. Environmentalists assert that you’re racist […]

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When I write about the actions of state governments, it’s usually to highlight a specific bad policy. As you can imagine, states like California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey give me a never-ending amount of material. But I frequently run across things that are happening in the states that don’t really merit an […]

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I’m a fan of the Baltic nations in part because they were among the first to adopt flat tax systems after the collapse of the Soviet empire. But tax reform was just the beginning. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have liberalized across the board as part of their efforts to become prosperous. Economic Freedom of the […]

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In addition to his exemplary work as a Senior Fellow for the Cato Institute, Johan Norberg narrates some great videos for Free to Choose Media. Here are some that caught my eye. The foolish and counterproductive War on Drugs. A grim consequence of Cuban communism. The real lesson to learn from Sweden. But my favorite […]

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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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