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Search Results for 'great moments local government'

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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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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I periodically share this poster, in part because it’s funny, but mostly because it’s true. After all, can you think of many “success stories” involving government? When I pose this question to my statist friends, I usually get a blank stare in response. Though some of them will offer answers such as the GI Bill, […]

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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’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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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 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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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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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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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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Posts in this category normally mock foolish and wasteful policies by a state or local government, but the target this time is the union representing bureaucrats in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The boss of the union, upset that the town had to get rid of some excess staff, is threatening to file a grievance to complain about […]

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While the federal bureaucracy is more dangerous because it generates misguided regulations that are imposed on the entire nation, state and local governments certainly are capable of equally foolish actions. Here’s a report about state bureaucrats in Michigan threatening a women for watching her neighbors’ kids while they wait for a bus: A West Michigan woman says […]

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This may not be as important as an IRS agent killing a small business with an audit. And we can certainly imagine dismal scenes of bureaucrats denying health care to sick people in America’s future, and those also would be more important. But when a city official shuts down a lemonade stand because an eight-year […]

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As a good libertarian, I believe in the right of contract, including the right to insist on stupid employment conditions. After all, neither employers nor employers are obliged to enter into any particular agreement. But that certainly does not prevent me from commenting on the inane practices of government – including the recent decision to […]

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While much of my analysis focuses on the mess created by Washington, I periodically show my ecumenical nature by sharing “Great Moments in State Government” and “Great Moments in Local Government.” And in keeping with the title of this page, I even occasionally share “Great Moments in Foreign Government.” Today, though we’re going to get […]

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As a policy wonk, I mostly care about the overall impact of government on prosperity. So when I think about the effect of red tape, I’m drawn to big-pictures assessments of the regulatory burden. Here are a few relevant numbers that get my juices flowing. Americans spend 8.8 billion hours every year filling out government forms. The economy-wide […]

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One of the great insights of “public choice” is that politicians engage in self-serving behavior just like everyone else. But there’s a profound difference between them and us. In the private economy, we can only make ourselves better off by providing value to others. In government, by contrast, politicians oftentimes make themselves better off by […]

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States such as Illinois, California, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey have very serious structural problems because of high tax burdens and unsustainable spending levels (often associated with excessive pay and benefits for bureaucrats). I frequently write about those big issues, but I also like to periodically share examples of other bone-headed policies at the […]

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In my research and travels, I come across all sorts of strange stories about tax policy. Sometimes I learn about bizarrely foolish tax policies, such as the German tax on online coffee sales that loses money for government. Sometimes I learn about heartening protests against government greed, such as Irish taxpayers refusing to pay a […]

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I’ve called for the abolition of the Department of Transportation. On more than one occasion. So I was very excited to see this new video about infrastructure from Johan Norberg. Very well put. As Johan says (channeling Bastiat), we should remember that jobs are destroyed when money is taken out of the private sector to […]

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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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In my writings about “Great Moments in Foreign Government,” I’ve come across amazing examples of bone-headed and incompetent behavior by politicians and bureaucrats in other nations. The British government giving welfare to people with multiple wives. The German government having a jihadist working in one of its intelligence agencies. The Italian government appointing the wrong […]

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Why does government waste so much money? In so many ways? With such reckless abandon? I suppose I could answer with mockery and say it’s because they have lots of experience squandering our tax dollars. But let’s seriously contemplate that question and explore one of the reasons for waste. Simply stated, government programs are a […]

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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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Several years ago, I would regularly share horror stories about innocent kids being abused by politically correct government school administrators who overreacted to anything remotely resembling a gun. I even had a U.S. vs. U.K. stupidity contest that featured many examples of anti-gun lunacy, though Canada may actually win the prize for the most absurd […]

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