- John Stossel: From Liberal to Libertarian
Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum writes: "At a time when Democrats and Republicans are squabbling over whether to cut $33 billion or $61 billion in spending this year—neither of which would make much of a dent in a deficit that is expected to hit $1.6 trillion—Ryan's plan may seem breathtakingly bold. But while it is admirably forthright in some respects, it dodges several important questions. It's too bad there is no opposing party to keep the Republicans fiscally honest...Democrats who do not like Ryan's mix of cuts should be attacking the 'non-security' part of that formulation, since his plan takes only $78 billion, spread over five years, out of a massively bloated Pentagon budget that far exceeds the resources necessary to defend the country. But this laughably inadequate gesture of restraint tracks what Obama already has proposed. 'Ending corporate welfare,' which the Republican plan claims to do, is another potentially fertile area for Democratic counterproposals. Why 'reform' agricultural subsidies, for instance, when they should be eliminated entirely? And do Democrats think the Republicans have identified every objectionable business subsidy in the $3.8 trillion budget? Ryan has taken a serious stab at fiscal restraint. It deserves a serious response."
Rep. Ryan's Overly Rosy Scenarios
"An America that is already broke, with unfunded liabilities in the trillions and entitlement trajectories that the president himself has described as 'unsustainable' (without doing a damned bit about it), is an America that will no longer be the protagonist in all the world's dramas. This, I believe, is a welcome and long-overdue development. But it won't be easy, or clean. Freedom is messy. Attempted revolutions in regions that haven't experienced liberalism are guaranteed to have terrifying moments, even decades. The analogical revolutionary year might be less 1989, more 1848. And 1848 didn't end up well for most revolutionaries. Although it is horrible on a basic human level to watch impotently from afar as a delusional thug mows down his own people, that does not mean the U.S. or the international community can produce the best long- or even short-term outcome for the country. Intervention into a country's internal affairs, as last decade taught us the hard way, can have grave unintended consequences. With America as a bystander, on the other hand, protesters and rebels are seizing the means of democratic production. They are taking ownership of their own future. It's time that we let them." - Reason magazine Editor in Chief Matt Welch in the May Issue
Matt Welch Discusses Freedom of Speech During Wartime
Sen. Lindsey Graham on Limiting Free Speech
The President's War of Choice
For a Neocon, Fiscal Restraint Stops at the Water's Edge
At the NYTimes.com's Room for Debate experts are discussing the pros and cons or privatization. Reason Foundation's Director of Government Reform Leonard Gilroy writes: "Contracting usually generates cost savings for taxpayers between 5 and 20 percent on average, though the benefits of competition extend far beyond cost control. For example, service quality improvements, improved risk management, innovation, and access to outside expertise are other benefits often cited by satisfied government customers. Contracting out is simply a policy tool, and like any tool, it can be used well or poorly. There are two critical ingredients to successful government contracting. First, public managers should think carefully about the service quality standards they want to achieve, and then develop strong, performance-based contracts that hold contractors accountable for meeting them. Measurable performance standards should be built into contracts, along with incentives for exceeding standards and penalties for underperformance. Second, once a performance-based contract is in place, government managers must monitor and enforce the terms of the contract to ensure that contractors perform. Government contracting needs to be seen as part of a larger fiscal management toolkit that includes performance assessment, priority-based budgeting, sunset reviews, and many other approaches to reform."
In 2008, Reason's analysis of the California high-speed rail proposal found construction costs were underestimated, ticket price estimates were very low and ridership estimates were wildly optimistic. In the San Diego Union-Tribune, Reason Foundation's Adam Summers writes: "Like most large public infrastructure projects, the California high-speed rail project was sold to the public based on false promises, exaggerated benefits and lowball cost estimates. Before the election, the cost of the project was estimated at $33 billion for the Los Angeles/Anaheim to San Francisco portion, and an additional $7 billion for the spurs to San Diego and Sacramento. Voters narrowly passed a $9.95 billion bond in 2008, and the federal government and private investors were supposed to cover the remaining $30 billion. We were promised that a one-way fare between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost about $55, making it cheaper than flying. After the election, costs rose to $43 billion for just the Los Angeles-San Francisco phase (chances are the San Diego and Sacramento lines will never be built) and ticket price estimates nearly doubled to $105. Yet none of this seems to bother the California High-Speed Rail Authority or cause it to re-evaluate the feasibility of the project."
Reason's 2008 Study on the Real Costs of the CA Rail Plan