Left or Right-Which Way, America?

Article excerpt


In the introduction to the Cato Handbook for Policymakers, Cato libertarian executive vice president David Boaz hails the breakage of another glass ceiling in the election of President Obama. But neither President Obama nor his immediate predecessor, President Bush, are spared from censure here for engaging in entrenched state interventionism in a plethora of formats. Nor, for that matter, are previous presidents and Congresses lured by political power.

Mr. Boaz reminds his readers that Cato stands firmly on the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, on the bedrock American values of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. He rejects the idea of convergence of some sort of half-capitalist, half-socialist Third Way model as a wave of the future. He invites comparison of the two systems involved in East and West Germany, North and South Korea, Hong Kong-Taiwan and China, and the United States and the Soviet Union.

This long, lively, documented book on libertarianism has some 70 authors in 63 chapters under 10 headings: Restructuring the Federal Government, Government Reform, Health Care and Entitlement Reform, Cutting Federal Departments and Programs, Threats to Civil Liberties, Regulation, Tax Policy, Energy and Environment, Foreign and Defense Policy, and International Economic Policy.

Cato's director of tax policy studies, Chris Edwards, says that Congress should cut federal spending from 21 percent to 16 percent of gross domestic product over 10 years, that it should end, privatize or transfer to the states more than 100 programs and agencies, including those in agriculture, education, housing and transportation. He also recommends that it should reform Social Security by cutting the growth in benefits and adding a system of private accounts, that it should cut Medicare spending growth and move to a health care system based on individual savings and choice.

On privatization, Mr. Edwards says that Congress should end subsidies to passenger rail and privatize Amtrak, which would permit the firm to innovate, invest and terminate unprofitable routes, that it should privatize the U.S. Postal Service and repeal restrictions on competitive mail delivery, that it should privatize the air-traffic-control system and help privatize the nation's airports, while ending federal susidies and that it should privatize federal electric utilities, including T. …