Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ready Returns

The state government in California is devising a scheme known as the Ready Return program. What it does is effectively nationalize tax preparation. Hmm, I wonder how many tax forms will accidentally overstate what you owe?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Public Choice

If you're interested in editorials on the European economy I recommend Anthony de Jasay. He has a montly column called Reflections from Europe. His latest column (implicitly) deals with public choice. He calls those who are only interested in short term gain as black hats (as in the bad guys in old western movies). I think every democracy has its share of black hats. The problem is we don't want a dictatorship, but then again, we don't want absolute democracy because then we'll be infested with rent-seekers. Michael Munger goes into some detail in this column about the problem. He does a better job explaining the paradox better than I can so I recommend you read the whole thing.

Friday, March 25, 2005


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One way municipal/local governments can provide better services is by making them "contestable". This means that the government or the private sector (or both) can bid on service contracts. There are five steps for making services contestable:

* Identifying whether the service needs to be provided at all, and if it does, whether it needs to be provided by government.
* Accurately specifying all the elements of providing the service as well as their true costs.
* Receiving properly priced offers from each bidder, inclusive of all true costs.
* Selecting the option that provides the best value.
* Monitoring the contract after the best bidder has been chosen to ensure that the service is satisfactorily provided.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Regulation and Schools Part 2

In a sequel to this post, I found more info that's relevant to California here and here.

Airport Privatization

The US is lagging behind on airport privatization. For more info see here.

Link via Division of Labour

Friday, March 18, 2005

Government Spending

Research done by the Heritage Foundation suggests that government spending hurts economic growth. See here. The best part is when the costs of government, which include various costs from extraction cost to stagnation cost.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Here's a policy analysis about roads.

Link via Order from Chaos

Friday, March 11, 2005

Regulation Gone Mad

States Asked to Deregulate Hair Braiding

I like this part of the article:

"The cosmetologists want to keep the hair braiders down," Cohen charged. "It's not a health and sanitation issue. It's control. It's power."

Yeah, that sounds like politics alright.

Update: I'm not the only one that thinks this is crazy.

Los Angeles

Recently LA had a mayoral election. The Reason Public Policy Institute has some suggestions about how to help the new mayor improve Los Angeles' public services (warning PDF file).

Regulation and Schools

According to this article from the Heartland Institute, regulation is hurting education. Some sources of regulation include:

* 846 pages of New York State education law;

* 720 pages of regulations from the New York State Commissioner of Education;

* 690 pages of the No Child Left Behind Act;

* 309 pages of the New York City teachers’ contract and memorandum of understanding;

* 200+ pages of regulations controlling student discipline; and

* 43 volumes of appeals decisions--totaling 15,062 decisions--made by the New York State Commissioner of Education.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


The Pacific Research Institute has a harsh indictment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. See here (warning: PDF file). Here's an excerpt:

* California regulators have set some of the lowest forced-access rates in the nation, nearly 50 percent less than the actual cost of providing network services.
* SBC Communications Inc. slashed spending in California from $8 billion in 2002 to $5 billion in 2003 in response to a hostile investment climate.

Some recommended solutions are:

* The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) should end forced-access; service providers should be allowed to negotiate network access on mutually beneficial terms.
* The California state legislature should boost economic growth by requiring the PUC to develop new rules integrating free market principles and eliminating obsolete policies; doing so would promote competition, investments and consumer welfare in the local telecommunications industry.

Links via NCPA

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I don't agree with everything Governor Schwarzenegger has done, but he does deserve at least some praise. The Cato Institute has given him one of the highest scores of all of the governors in the US for having a good fiscal policy. His score is an 84 which is an A rating (you have to scroll down to see his score).