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I’ve just finished up a week of lectures and meetings in India. It was an interesting trip, but not an encouraging trip. My first observation is that Indians are enormously successful when they emigrate to the United States. And they also do very well when they migrate to Singapore, South Africa, and other place around […]

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I wrote yesterday about the global evidence showing that more money does not improve the lackluster performance of government schools. Those results are not surprising because we see the same thing in the United States. More money is good for the education bureaucracy, but it doesn’t lead to better student outcomes. Now let’s focus on […]

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I wrote a four-part series about how governments are waging a war against cash, with the first two columns looking at why politicians are so interested in taking this radical step. In Part I, I looked at the argument that cash should be banned or restricted so governments could more easily collect additional tax revenue. In […]

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As part of yesterday’s column about global growth, poverty, and inequality, I realized that I’ve written several columns about economic policy in China, but never once focused on overall policy in India. Indeed, a quick look through the archives reveals only three columns that even addressed specific policies in India. And all of them were […]

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The War against Cash is a battle that shouldn’t even exist. But politicians don’t like cash because it’s hard to control something that people can freely trade back and forth. So folks on the left are arguing that governments should ban or restrict paper money. In Part I, we looked at the argument that cash […]

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One (hopefully endearing) trait of being a policy wonk is that I have a weakness for jurisdictional rankings. At least if they’re methodologically sound. This is why I was so happy a couple of weeks ago when I got to peruse and analyze the 2016 version of Economic Freedom of the World (even if the […]

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I’m impressed, in a dark and gloomy way. I thought the Italian healthcare official who showed up for work only 15 days in a nine-year period set the record for bureaucratic loafing. Based on longevity of laxity, he definitely out-did the San Francisco paper pusher who didn’t work at all in 2012 yet still got […]

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I’m a libertarian because I believe in individual freedom and greater prosperity, but what really motivates me is the desire to protect people from predatory government. So even though the economist in me wants to reduce the burden of government spending and implement a flat tax because such policies will boost growth and lead to […]

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That line is from a great column by Steve Chapman, who wonders why NATO still exists. If you read this column and Mark Steyn’s recent National Review article (which I blogged about here), you will have a good grasp of what makes libertarian foreign policy very compelling. Defense Secretary Robert Gates went to Europe recently […]

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As a taxpayer, I’m not overly happy that we still have an Indian Affairs Committee. And I’m definitely not happy that the Committee is wasting my money by holding a hearing about stereotypes. And I’m rolling my eyes that some folks on the Committee are upset that Osama bin Laden was given the code-name Geronimo. […]

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As a fiscal policy wonk, I’ve come across depressing examples of counterproductive tax provisions (health benefits exclusion, ethanol credits) and spending programs (the entire HUD budget, OECD subsidies). But the folks who work on regulatory policy may get exposed to the most inane government policies (Fannie-Freddie mandate, EEOC rulings). For example, consider how the government […]

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Time for some political humor. Though some may consider this tragedy rather than comedy since the theme will be the potential contest between Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren in 2020. But some people are happy about the possible match-up. For instance, both likely candidates are a gold mine for satirists. We’ll start with Elizabeth “Soul […]

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Back in April, I chatted with Stuart Varney about how some states were in deep trouble because they were being squeezed by having to finance huge unfunded liabilities for bureaucrats, yet they were constrained by the fact that taxpayers have the freedom to move when tax burdens become excessive. I now have a reason to […]

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Yesterday, I wrote about the newest edition of Economic Freedom of the World, which is my favorite annual publication. Not far behind is the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index, which is sort of the domestic version of their equally fascinating (to a wonk) International Tax Competitiveness Index. And what can we learn from […]

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I’ve written many times about socialism, which is sometimes a frustrating task because the definition is slippery. I suspect the average supporter of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks that socialism is big government, with lots of handouts financed by class warfare taxation. Since that’s the common perception, is that the definition we should use? […]

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I don’t think I’ll ever stray from libertarianism. But if I ever get tempted by the siren song of statism, I’ll bolster my resistance by reminding myself of how people have been victimized by venal government. Andy Johnson Anthony Smelley The Hammond family Charlie Engle Tammy Cooper Nancy Black Russ Caswell Jacques Wajsfelner Jeff Councelller Eric Garner […]

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A key insight of international economics is that there should be “convergence” between rich countries and poor countries, which is just another way of saying that low-income nations – all other things being equal – should grow faster than high-income nations and eventually attain the same level of prosperity. The theory is sound, but it’s […]

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It’s no secret that I’m a critic of Trump’s protectionism. He doesn’t understand the benefits of trade, misinterprets trade data, and – to coin a phrase – he’s “making cronyism great again.” But, as shown in this interview, even I’m shocked that he’s “blaming the victim” by going after Harley-Davidson. I’m disappointed, though, that I […]

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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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A couple of days ago, citing bizarre government policies in India, Belgium, Malaysia, Romania, and Spain, I wrote about some “great moments in foreign government.” Today, we’re going to give special attention to the United Kingdom. I’m not claiming there’s an above-average level of government stupidity in the United Kingdom (though that’s distinctly possible). Instead, […]

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Given the routine corruption and reckless spending in Washington, I frequently get asked how I keep my sanity. It’s possible, as some of my friends argue, that I’m not actually sane. That would explain why I try to put my finger in the dyke of big government as more and more new leaks keep developing. […]

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New Jersey is a fiscal disaster area. It’s in last place in the Tax Foundation’s index that measures a state’s business tax climate. It’s tied for last place in the Mercatus Center’s ranking of state fiscal conditions. And it ranks in the bottom-10 in measures of state economic freedom and measures of unfunded liabilities for […]

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Over the years, I’ve shared some rankings that are utterly preposterous. A writer for the Atlantic actually claimed that America was one of the world’s 17 most authoritarian nations. The statists at the OECD put together a ranking asserting that poverty is a bigger problem in the United States than in Greece, Portugal, or Turkey. In a 2010 ranking […]

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I don’t think I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person, but I realized that I have a habit of sharing “depressing” charts. The “most depressing” chart about Denmark. A “very depressing” chart about the United States. The “most depressing” chart about Japan. Well, as the Monty Python folks advised, it’s time to look on the bright […]

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When I first created the Bureaucrat Hall of Fame, I confess that my standards were a bit slack. I awarded membership to government workers that are grossly overpaid (see here and here, for instance), but otherwise didn’t really do anything special to merit awards. In recent years, I’ve been more judicious. I only give the […]

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Canada is a surprisingly pro-market country, with relatively sensible policies involving spending restraint, welfare reform, corporate tax reform, bank bailouts, regulatory budgeting, the tax treatment of saving, and privatization of air traffic control. And we should add education policy to the mix. There are four comparatively admirable features of Canadian schooling. First, as explained by the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, the […]

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Even though I wrote about proposed tax increases in Illinois just 10 days ago, it’s time to revisit the issue because the Tax Foundation just published a very informative article about the state’s self-destructive fiscal policy. It starts by noting that the aggregate tax burden is higher in Illinois than it is in adjoining states. […]

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I’m a big fan of federalism because states have the flexibility to choose good policy or bad policy. And that’s good news for me since I get to write about the consequences. One of the main lessons we learn (see here, here, here, here, and here) is that high-earning taxpayers tend to migrate from states […]

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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 key principles of a free society is that governmental power should be limited by national borders. Here’s an easy-to-understand example. Gambling is basically illegal (other than government-run lottery scams, of course) in my home state of Virginia. So they can arrest me (or maybe even shoot me) if I gamble in the […]

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