Friday , July 19 2019
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How Large Is American Government?

America’s strong economic growth and high living standards were built on our relatively smaller government. U.S. per capita income is higher than nearly all major countries and our government spending is still somewhat less. However, America’s lower-spending advantage has diminished. The OECD publishes data on total federal-state-local government spending as a percentage of GDP for its member countries. The chart shows spending for the United States and for the simple average of 30 OECD...

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Washington Post Revelation of Pain Pill Distribution Only Helps to Fuel the False Narrative

The Washington Post recently received access to a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the manufacture and distribution of every prescription opioid in the country. It reported that 76 billion pills were distributed throughout the US between 2006 and 2012, with higher volumes shipped to the areas that were most hard hit with opioid-related overdose deaths.  This is being offered as proof that the overprescribing of prescription opioids caused the...

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Justice John Paul Stevens, R.I.P.

Justice Stevens, who died yesterday at age 99, was the longest-lived justice in American history and the third-longest serving. A proud son of the Midwest, he lived an amazing American life that included witnessing Babe Ruth’s “called shot” and a valorous WWII stint in the Navy. I never had the chance to meet him but, as the personal accounts and eulogies now attest, he was a consummate gentleman and all class, a bow-tied throwback to an era to which we should all attitudinally...

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90% of Border Crossers Aren’t Referred for Asylum Interviews

The government is implementing a new proposal that would ban asylum for immigrants coming to the United States through Mexico. It pins the uptick in border crossers on the asylum process, but the government’s statistics reveal that 90 percent of crossers in 2019 were not referred for an asylum interview at the border, and the highest share ever referred was just 19 percent in 2018. In fact, the rate of referral was just 7 percent in March 2019. This strongly indicates that the asylum ban...

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Governments Make Flooding Worse

Government policies encourage Americans to live in risky places on seacoasts and along flood-prone rivers. Disasters happen, governments bail people out, they rebuild in the same places, bad incentives stay in place, further disasters strike and more dollars and lives are lost. The Washington Post reported on recent flooding along the Mississippi River, which I’ve excerpted below. But first, here are some general points about flooding and governments: Man-made vs Natural. Damage blamed...

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Of Libras and Zebras: What Are the True Financial Risks of the Facebook-Led Digital Currency? (Part III: National Security Risk)

At yesterday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on Libra, the digital currency project led by Facebook with 27 other partners, concerns about its potential to undermine U.S. national security featured prominently. Senators from across the political spectrum, including Arkansas’ Tom Cotton and New Jersey’s Bob Menendez, suggested that Libra might lend itself to the scheming of malicious actors and U.S. strategic foes, a worry expressed the day before by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. How...

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Reining In Government by Dear Colleague Letter: An Update

For many decades, critics have noted that agencies were using Dear Colleague and guidance letters, memos and so forth — also known variously as subregulatory guidance, stealth regulation and regulatory dark matter — to grab new powers and ban new things in the guise of interpreting existing law, all while bypassing notice-and-comment and other constraints on actual rulemaking. That’s a problem we at Cato have been concerned about for at least twenty years — the quote itself is from my...

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Apollo 11: A Rare Federal Success

NASA’s Apollo 11 blasted off 50 years ago today sending astronauts to land on the moon and return safely to earth. The mission was planned rapidly and executed almost flawlessly. The Saturn V rocket was the most powerful engine ever built. The computers available at the time were primitive, yet everything about the timing of burns and entry angles had to be precise. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were unbelievably brave. It was a stunning achievement. An American...

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We Need A Way Back To Multilateralism In Trade

As trade restrictions mount and as major trading countries remain mired in commercial impasse, an approaching global gathering in Central Asia next summer could prove to be the climax to the current battle between continued multilateral cooperation and increased unilateral confrontation in trade. The World Trade Organization, with its commitment to international cooperation, has been struggling with the headwinds of unilateralism and protectionism. If a way back to multilateralism in...

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Will Congress Finally X-Out the “X” Waiver?

Members of Congress are growing more appreciative of the benefits of Medication Assisted Treatment in addressing the overdose crisis. Two bills presently under consideration—one in the Senate and one in the House—are the latest evidence of that awareness.  Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid use disorder is one of the most widely-accepted and least controversial of the tools in the harm reduction tool box. The strategy involves placing the patient on an orally-administered opioid...

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