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New “Tax Oppression Index” Shows Grim Toll of OECD’s Statist Agenda

Back in 2009, I shared the results of a very helpful study by Pierre Bessard of Switzerland’s Liberal Institute (by the way, “liberal” in Europe means pro-market or “classical liberal“). Pierre ranked the then-30 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development based on their tax burdens, their quality of governance, and their […]

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America’s Diminishing Economic Liberty

The Index of Economic Freedom is my favorite annual publication from the Heritage Foundation. It’s a rich source of information, using dozens of data sources, about economic liberty around the world. I first wrote about the Index back in 2010 and shared the bad news that the U.S. score dropped dramatically in Obama’s first year. […]

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California Secession Would Force West-Coast Leftists to Confront Reality

I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, mostly because I fear his populist instincts will deter him from policies that we need (such as entitlement reform) while luring him to support policies that are misguided (more federal transportation spending). But I admit it’s too early to tell. Maybe my policy predictions on Trump will […]

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Great Moments in Foreign Government

Since I’m always reading and writing about government policies, both in America and around the world, I’m frequently reminded of H.L. Mencken’s famous observation about the shortcomings of “tolerable” government. If you take a close look at the world’s freest economies, you quickly learn that they are highly ranked mostly because of the even-worse governments […]

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Trump, Sessions, and the Disgusting Thuggery of Asset Forfeiture

One of the unfortunate features of Washington is that people often wind up in places that bring out their worst behaviors. The classic example is Jack Kemp, who did great work as a member of Congress to push a supply-side agenda of low marginal tax rates and less double taxation. Indeed, it’s no exaggeration to […]

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Carbon Taxes: Worrisome in Theory, Bad in Reality

I don’t have strong views on global warming. Or climate change, or whatever it’s being called today. But I’ve generally been skeptical about government action for the simple reason that the people making the most noise are statists who would use any excuse to increase the size and power of government. To be blunt, I […]

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Bolstering the 4th Amendment and Strengthening Civil Liberties

The libertarian approach to crime is both simple and sensible. First, only activities that harm other people should be against the law. So get rid of laws against drugs, gambling, cash deposits, and other victimless crimes. Second, make sure that government behaves properly and respects constitutional rights while investigating and prosecuting criminality. Third, impose appropriate […]

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The United Kingdom and the Benefits of Spending Restraint

When I debate one of my leftist friends about deficits, it’s often a strange experience because none of us actually care that much about red ink. I’m motivated instead by a desire to shrink the burden of government spending, so I argue for spending restraint rather than tax hikes that would “feed the beast.” And […]

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In One Story, Everything You Need to Know about France

What best symbolizes France’s statist political culture? Is it bloated public sector that consumes more than half of the economy’s output? Is it a tax system that is so onerous that households sometimes pay more than 100 percent of their income to government? Is it cossetted bureaucrats with cars and drivers who nonetheless still rack […]

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Greece and the Folly of Trying to Solve an Overspending Problem with Tax Increases

I’ve put forth lots of arguments against tax increases, mostly focusing on why higher tax rates will depress growth and encourage more government spending. Today, let’s look at a practical, real-world example. I wrote a column for The Hill looking at why Greece is a fiscal and economic train wreck. I have lots of interesting […]

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Putin, Trump, and False Moral Equivalence

Back in the 1980s, I would get very agitated when folks made excuses for brutal communist regimes by asserting that the United States also did bad things. This “moral equivalence” argument is now being recycled by Donald Trump, who basically excuses Putin’s brutality because America supposedly isn’t in any position to throw stones. Here’s the […]

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Trump Humor

Donald Trump should be an easy target for political humorists, but I’ve mostly been disappointed in the quality of the anti-Trump satire. That may be because comedians think he’s a raging conservative, so their jokes based on that theme strike someone like me (who fears Trump is a big-government populist) as senseless. After all, clever […]

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Is Putin Being Honest and Accurate about the Benefits of Russia’s Flat Tax?

I’m obviously a big fan of a simple and fair flat tax. In part, my support for fundamental reform is driven by my desire for a low rate, for no double taxation, and for the elimination of loopholes. Those are the economic reasons for reform. But I also am very much motivated by the moral […]

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Just Say No to the Debilitating Drug of Keynesian Stimulus

I’m glad that Donald Trump wants faster growth. The American people shouldn’t have to settle for the kind of anemic economic performance that the nation endured during the Obama years. But does he understand the right recipe for prosperity? That’s an open question. At times, Trump makes Obama-style arguments about the Keynesian elixir of government […]

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Border-Adjustable Taxation, but Were Afraid (or too Bored) to Ask

House Republicans, as part of a generally laudable tax reform plan, want to replace the corporate income tax with a “destination-based cash-flow tax.” I’ve addressed that topic a couple of times. Left-leaning advocates like “destination-based” tax systems such as the DBCFT because such systems undermine tax competition and give politicians more ability to increase tax […]

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Smaller Government Is the Best Strategy for Reducing Corruption in Romania

In 2016, there were three very worthy candidates for the highly coveted Politician of the Year Award. In May, I gave the prize to Rodrigo Duterte, the newly elected president of the Philippines, because he assured voters that none of his mistresses were on the public payroll. Gee, what a swell guy! In July, I […]

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The Government’s War on Money Laundering Is Causing the Wrong Kind of Casualties

President Trump says he wants to roll back the burden of regulation. Give the morass of red tape that is strangling the economy, this is a very worthy goal. It’s also a daunting task. Fixing the sprawling regulatory state is the modern version of cleaning the Augean stables and I’m not brimming with confidence that […]

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Exposing the Cronyist Argument for Carbon Taxes

In one of my periodic attempts to create themes for these columns, I developed a “fiscal fights with friends” category. Part I was a response to Riehan Salam’s well-meaning critique of the flat tax. Part II was a response to a good-but-timid fiscal plan from folks at AEI. Part III was a response to Jerry […]

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Five Illuminating Charts and Tables about Trade and Protectionism

I was recently interviewed on Fox Business Network about Trump’s policies and the economy, and the discussion jumped around from issues such as border-adjustable taxation to energy regulation. Though the central theme of the discussion was whether Trump had good ideas for American jobs and business competitiveness. Given my schizophrenic views on Trump, this meant […]

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Centralization and the Decline of Europe

The famous French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand supposedly said that a weakness of the Bourbon monarchs was that they learned nothing and forgot nothing. If so, the genetic descendants of the Bourbons are now in charge of Europe. But before explaining why, let’s first establish that Europe is in trouble. I’ve made that point […]

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