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Municipal pension news: Baltimore to offer DC plan

May 12, 2014

Earlier this month, Baltimore’s city council approved a measure to give the city’s workers a choice between a defined contribution or defined benefit plan plan. According to Pensions and Investments, new hires will contribute 5 percent of their salary to whichever plan they choose, a significant increase from the 1 percent that workers were required […]

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Is American Federalism conducive to liberty?

May 7, 2014

In new Mercatus research, Dr. Richard E. Wagner, Harris professor of Economics at George Mason University tackles a fascinating question: Is the American form of federalism supportive of liberty? His answer is a qualified ‘yes.’ Under certain conditions, American federalism does support liberty, but that very same system can also be modified resulting in the expansion […]

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What would a business-cycle balanced budget rule look like in Illinois?

May 5, 2014

A few years ago, I testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. I’d been invited to talk about the design of a federal balanced budget amendment and much of my testimony drew on the lessons offered from state experience. Since 49 of the 50 states have such requirements, and since these requirements vary from state […]

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Conservatives, Liberals, and Privilege

May 2, 2014

Utah Senator Mike Lee (R) delivered an important, and timely address at the Heritage Foundation this week. It was focused squarely on what he called “America’s crisis of crony capitalism, corporate welfare, and political privilege.” It is a problem, he said, that “simultaneously corrupts our economy and our government.” He pointed to a number of […]

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What is the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity?

April 30, 2014

FLORENCE— Bernardo Caprotti was a 45-year-old entrepreneur when he agreed to buy a suburban plot of land for a new supermarket. Building permits recently came through. He’s now 88. So begins an enlightening story in today’s Wall Street Journal on Italy’s sclerotic economy. The story continues: Italy has emerged as a Technicolor example of the […]

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The unseen costs of the Ex-Im bank

April 29, 2014

The great 19th Century French economist Frederic Bastiat had good advice when thinking about economics. Actions, habits, and laws, he said, [produce] not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they […]

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With Government Shekels Come Government Shackles

April 3, 2014

Though privileged firms may not focus on it when they obtain their favors, privilege almost always come with strings attached. And these strings can sometimes be quite debilitating. Call it one of the pathologies of government-granted privilege. Perhaps the best statement of this comes from the man whose job it was to pull the strings […]

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Embrace Change

March 31, 2014

Whenever someone suggested a new innovation or an improvement, Empress Maria Theresa had a favorite response: “Leave everything as it is.” As the sovereign of most of central Europe during the 18th Century, the Habsburg Empress epitomized absolutist rule, claiming that her powers had no limit. But as her statement demonstrates, she clearly understood that […]

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Hercules, California’s Herculean debts

March 25, 2014

What lead the city of Hercules, California to default on its debts? Guest poster Marc Joffe, Principal Consultant at Public Sector Credit, finds a case of mission-creep in the “dynamic city on the Bay’s”  decision to issue debt to finance power plants and affordable housing. (For more of Marc Joffe’s research on modeling credit risk, read […]

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Tesla’s Teachable Moment in New Jersey

March 21, 2014

Behind every privilege to a particular firm, there is a taxpayer, a customer, or a competitor who ends up paying for it. And those who are privileged today can easily find themselves on the other side of the equation tomorrow. Tesla Motor Company is coming to learn this lesson the hard way. This past week New Jersey […]

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