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The Local Government Extortion Racket

What do Andy Johnson, Anthony Smelley, the Hammond family, Charlie Engle, Tammy Cooper, Nancy Black, Russ Caswell, Jacques Wajsfelner, Jeff Councelller, Eric Garner, Martha Boneta, James Slatic, Carole Hinders, Salvatore Culosi, and James Lieto, as well as the Sierra Pacific Company and the entire Meitev family have in common? They are all victims of brutal, […]

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What to Do about Bad Bureaucrats?

What are the main problems with government bureaucrats? Is it that they’re paid too much? Given that they get far more compensation than workers in the economy’s productive sector, that certainly true. Is it that there are too many of them? Well, we have lots of bureaucracies that shouldn’t exist, such as HUD, Education, Transportation, […]

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The Growing Crisis of Excessive and Unfunded Retirement Benefits for State and Local Bureaucrats (and a Libertarian Quandary)

I’ve written (some would say excessively) about the fact that America has too many bureaucrats and that they’re paid too much. That’s true in Washington. That’s true at the state level. And it’s true for local governments. But since I’m a big believer in beating a dead horse, let’s revisit this issue. We’ll narrow our […]

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Another Taxpayer-Financed Goodie: The “Paid Leave” Scam for Bureaucrats

My biggest complaint about government employees is that they work for bureaucracies that shouldn’t exist. As far as I’m concerned, they may be the most wonderful, conscientious, and hard-working people in the world, but we shouldn’t have a Department of Housing and Urban Development or a Department of Agriculture, so these folks – by definition […]

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The Italian Version of Everything You Need to Know about Bureaucracy and Government

In 2014, I was outraged that more than 80 percent of senior bureaucrats at the Veterans Administration were awarded bonuses, even though this is the bloated bureaucracy that caused the death of many veterans by putting them on secret waiting lists. This, I argued, was a perfect example (in a bad way) of federal bureaucracy […]

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More Libertarian Humor

It’s difficult to be a libertarian. Politicians and bureaucrats do so many foolish things that you can spending your entire day being outraged. But that’s probably not healthy, so it’s good to keep things in perspective with some political humor. Even if libertarians are the ones being mocked, and that’s the case for my most-viewed […]

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No Sympathy for Spendthrift Politicians in Fairfax County

As I’ve repeatedly explained, governments generally get in fiscal trouble because politicians can’t resist spending lots of money when the economy is buoyant and therefore generating lots of tax revenue. And this is why I’m a huge fan of spending caps. If outlays can’t grow faster than, say, 3 percent annually, that make it difficult […]

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A Learning Moment about Government Greed for Yale’s Cloistered Academics

Even though it’s theoretically possible to design a desirable budget deal that includes a tax increase, I’m a big advocate of the no-tax-hike pledge for the simple reason that – in the real world – support for genuine spending restraint and real entitlement reform evaporates once politicians think higher revenues are an option. Heck, bumping […]

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When Local Governments Are Greedy and Corrupt, Don’t Expect Honest and Efficient Law Enforcement

While I’m a big fan of federalism, this isn’t because I have a starry-eyed view of non-Washington politicians. Of course there is plenty of grotesque misbehavior by state and local governments. And it’s most troubling when it involves law enforcement and the legal system. David French of National Review has a very powerful and compelling […]

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Very Timely Humor Poking Fun at Libertarians

Northern Virginia just got buried by more than two feet of snow. This has two implications. First, I’m going to have a fun time shoveling my driveway. Second, I’m going to add to my collection of humor that pokes fun at libertarians. Cartoons on libertarian ice fishing and libertarian lifeguards. A mosaic showing 24 types of libertarians. A poster […]

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Katrina, Flint, and the Practical Case for Federalism

Remember the cluster-you-know-what in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina? Corrupt and incompetent politicians in both the city and at the state level acted passively, assuming that Uncle Sam somehow should be responsible for dealing with the storm. And we’ve seen similar behavior from other state and local politicians before, during, and after other natural disasters. […]

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Wasteful Spending, Cost Overruns, and the Never-Ending Victimization of America’s Taxpayers

Here’s a simple rule. When a politicians says a new program will cost X, hide your wallet because it actually will cost three or four times as much. Or even more. Obamacare is a particularly painful example from recent history. Simply stated, politicians and bureaucrats routinely under-estimate costs because they figure once a project or […]

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The Common Defense

Let’s start with some basics, way back when, we instituted local government amongst ourselves to protect our group (family, clan, hunting party, whatever) known as us, from everybody else, known as them. Later on, we combined our group with others who thought more or less like we did and combined our power. this is where state […]

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Crime, Riots, Race, and the Welfare State

Let’s revisit the issue of urban unrest, with special attention to the challenges for both entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens. While potential police misconduct may serve as a trigger for riots, the powder keg is already in place because of decades of bad government policy. Jay Steinmetz, who runs a supply-chain management company in Baltimore, provides […]

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Big-Government Chickens Come Home to Roost in Baltimore

I wrote back in 2010 that riots in Europe were a harbinger of future unrest in the United States. Given the chaos in Baltimore, I’m tempted to claim profound wisdom and great foresight. But I’ll reluctantly confess that my main point five years ago was to warn about the long-run consequences of poorly designed entitlement […]

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Red Light Cameras, Government Greed, and the Libertarian Quandary

Like the good people of Arizona, I despise speed cameras. But not because I want reckless driving. Instead, my disdain is based on the fact that governments set up cameras where speed limits are preposterously low in order to generate revenue. And I speak from personal experience. Like the good people of Houston, I also […]

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Great Moments in Government Schooling

I like to think that I occasionally put together interesting and persuasive charts on fiscal policy. For instance, I think it’s virtually impossible to make a credible argument for tax hikes after looking at my chart showing how easy it is to balance the budget with modest spending restraint. But I’ll freely confess that no […]

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State and Local Governments Have No Fiscal Excuse for Rapacious Revenue-Raising Tactics

I generally focus on the profligate habits and abusive tactics of the federal government in Washington, but that doesn’t mean other levels of government are well behaved. In a column for the Washington Post, Catherine Rampell outlines some of the reprehensible ways that state and local governments extract money from the citizenry. Think of recent, […]

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Another Edition of “Great Moments in State and Local Government”

I’ve been asked whether I’m a hypocrite because I support decentralization while at the same time being critical of state and local governments. I don’t think there’s any inconsistency in my position. Here’s some of what I wrote last July. I’m a strong believer in federalism, but not because I think state and local governments […]

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Obamacare vs Bureaucrats: A Battle that Hopefully Will Have Lots of Casualties

There’s an old joke that a quandary exists when your mother-in-law drives off a cliff in your new Porsche. Are you more happy about losing her or more unhappy about losing your sports car? I’m not clever enough to come up with humorous quandaries, but I have shared policy quandaries. I’ve asked, for instance, whether […]

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