Why is it that government grows in size and scope, and is so difficult to stop or reverse? Political economist, Gordon Tullock, who passed away on November 3, 2014 at the age of 92, was a path-breaker is explaining how and why big government keeps getting bigger.
Want to understand the full significance of Chicago’s red-light camera program? Consider an imaginary world in which laws are enforced and prosecuted by robots and algorithms instead of flesh-and-blood people.
With 9-11 nearly upon us, ISIS is brazenly beheading American journalists—with a promise of more to come; Christian congregations have been bombed during worship, churches have been destroyed, monasteries attacked, entire cities purged, hundreds of thousands have fled, while others have been slaughtered; and cities, weapons, banks, and key infrastructures are being captured. Surely, with all of these horrors playing out before our eyes, the crisis in Syria and Iraq is the “most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face.” No, the quote above was made about climate change by Hillary Clinton—the heavy favorite for the Democratic 2016 presidential nomination—before a standing-room-only crowd at Senator Harry Reid’s seventhNational Clean Energy Summit (NCES 7.0) held in Las Vegas on Thursday, September 4.
The total federal government spending in 2013 totaled $3,454,253,000,000—over $3.4 trillion—encompassing defense, highway and transportation costs, public education, immigration services, and government worker salaries, to name a few.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s “millionaire tax” question, the most recent nonbinding vote added to the bloated November ballot, is not only a misguided effort to draw his base to the polls with blatant class warfare but incredibly poor public policy. Like all “soak the rich” tax schemes, the imposition of increased taxes on high-income earners will discourage new capital and entrepreneurs from entering the state.
Wind energy produces costly, intermittent, unpredictable electricity. But Government subsidies and mandates have encouraged a massive gamble on wind investments in Australia – over $7 billion has already been spent and another $30 billion is proposed. This expenditure is justified by the claim that by using wind energy there will be less carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere which will help to prevent dangerous global warming.
Following oral arguments, I was not optimistic about this ruling. The Court could have bought into the argument that Hobby Lobby can’t really complain about this requirement when they have the capability to not offer coverage at all, instead shifting people under their employ to the taxpayer via Medicaid or the exchanges. The penalty for offering coverage which fails to meet essential benefits is clearly absurd and sizable, but the penalty for not offering coverage at all would actually cost them less than offering coverage in the first place (around $26 million per year). The “gun to your head” penalty was the one which moved the court on the Medicaid/federalism question before, in a ruling that unexpectedly led to half the states declining to expand Medicaid. Justices Kagan and Sotomayor stressed this in oral argument and the Court could have found that this factor removes the pressure of an actual requirement. You can understand the reasoning: Just like the requirement to purchase insurance, it’s not illegal, it’s just a tax!
Slowly but surely, Washington is waking up to the idea that the current surge in populism is not some flash in the pan, but a real and sustained trend in politics on the right and left. Distrust and frustration with an economic and political system that rewards, defends, and bails out the wealthy, powerful, and well-connected while leaving the middle and working class to get squeezed by stagnant wages and the higher costs of the basic staples of life, has made things which were once considered humdrum politics as usual suddenly controversial.
According to the Commerce Department, the economy based on its Gross domestic product–the value of its goods and services–fell at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in the first quarter of this year. That was the largest recorded drop since the end of World War II in 1945!
The benefits of government-funded university research are not shared widely enough in society, with universities retaining full ownership, for the most part, of their academic work. This means they get to profit from the government-funded research, and rarely have to share it with the taxpayers. By mandating that the research it spends so much taxpayer money on enter the public sphere, the government can more effectively spread the benefits of its own largesse and do its duty to all its citizens to provide them with the full benefit of what it produces with their tax money.
Rewards of tax dollars for the renewable energy industry are so great it takes tax experts days of explanations to locate all possibilities. Additional subsidies are available from the federal government in forms of tax credits, loan guarantees, grants, and possible mandates for energy source use.
Over a three-year period, 2009-2012, Department of Justice data shows American taxpayers footed the bill for more than $53 million in so-called environmental groups’ legal fees—and the actual number could be much higher. The real motivation behind the Endangered Species Act (ESA) litigation, perhaps, could have more to do with vengeance and penance than with a real desire to protect flora and fauna.
Shortly, Congress will be debating the fate of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). Its authorization — last extended in 2012 — will expire on September 30 unless reauthorized. Ex-Im was first incorporated in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to finance trade with the Soviet Union. Under the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, Congress established the bank as an independent agency. It provides loans and loan guarantees (as well as capital and credit insurance) to facilitate U.S. exports. Backed up by the full faith and credit of the U.S government, taxpayers are put on the hook.
Matt Damon made headlines a few years ago when he went on an expletive-laced screed about teachers’ poor (not his word, but close) salaries. It’s personal to him because Damon’s mother is an early childhood education professor.
Let’s agree with Damon that good teachers should earn a lot. The job can be very demanding, and it is crucial to society. So what would it take to pay teachers a great salary — say, something around $90,000 a year or more? That’s actually possible, without raising taxes or adding to the great American debt mountain. Here are three major barriers to that.
Think of the millions of birds being killed by renewables. Think of the billions of taxpayer dollars that have gone down the drain in “the quest for the holy grail of cheap renewable power.” Whether you oppose death by renewables for avian or economic reasons isn’t important. But what does matter is making your opposition heard.
As if taxpayers didn’t already have to stomach enough corruption, incompetence and dysfunction in the government’s promotion of “green” energy, two past exemplars failure have returned to discharge blame at[...]