Posts Tagged ‘Cato institute’

Cato — Michael Tanner: Christie the Prophet

April 18, 2012

On the National Review online site and the Cato Institute op-ed sites, Michael Tanner discusses Chris Christie’s remarks regarding American dependence on government. There is much to agree with here. But Tanner also writes:

In 1965, just 22 percent of all federal spending was transfer payments. Today it has doubled to 44 percent…. In 1965, transfer payments from the federal government made up less than 10 percent of wages and salaries. As recently as 2000, that percentage was just 21 percent. Today, transfer payments are more than a third of salary and wages.

Michael, please explain why “just” 10% or 20% or 21% was okay in 1965 or 2000? Was it not already abundantly clear even in 1965 that the US had crossed the peak of the slippery slope?

The welfare state started with small programs targeted toward a small number of genuinely needy people.

Michael, please explain why the genuinely needy, no matter how small in number, have a claim on resources coerced from taxpayers?

You are surely in a position to understand that compassionate conservatism, of course with other people’s money, not only leads to the slippery slope of an unconstrained majority-rule democracy, but also destroys whatever virtue may reside in compassion.

Think about it.

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Cato — Timothy B Lee: Inflation not a moral issue ??

April 17, 2012

At Forbes.com and here, Timothy B Lee asserts that inflation is not a moral issue; it is just a matter of economic expediency, the fine tuning that is necessary in a managed economy.

Timothy, please explain why the intentional transfer of wealth by government away from savers is not a moral issue. Do you mean that political power and political advantage are not moral issues?

You argue that the thrifty can and should invest in inflation-priced assets, and that the market prices the expected rate of inflation into its futures. If we accept that view, then, should we conclude that inflation is not a moral issue, but a change in the rate of inflation is a moral issue?

You argue by analogy that oil prices fluctuate and may or may not be good investments, and that the same is true of money. This begs the question — if an oil producer created reserves in the same way that governments create money, he would be prosecuted for criminal fraud, and rightly. Not a moral issue?

I suggest a more appropriate analogy: I have a responsibility to protect myself from pickpockets and muggers, but that responsibility does not mean that pickpockets and muggers are morally neutral.

Think about it.

Cato — Patrick Basham: Tax on sugary soft drinks

March 31, 2012

In an op-ed on the Cato Institute site here, Patrick Basham writes:

A sugar tax also has undesirable social and economic consequences. This tax is economically regressive, as a disproportionate share of the tax is paid by low earners, who pay a higher proportion of their incomes in sales tax and also consume a disproportionate share of sugary snacks and drinks.

Patrick, please explain why a regressive tax is socially and economically undesirable. It is paid by those who consume the product, rather than being a transfer of wealth from one group to another. Even better, a regressive tax encourages a majority to vote against increased government intrusiveness.

Think about it.

January 26, 2010

Not long ago, I noticed the name of a colleague on the list of donors to the Cato institute. I asked him whether he was indeed the same individual whose name had appeared on the list.

He was greatly offended.

I of course apologized for having thought, even for a moment, that he might have been the sort of person who believed in voluntary relationships to mutual benefit.

It takes all kinds…