Policy Digest Archives | The Ayn Rand Institute
Foreign Policy

Policy Digest: Foreign Policy Edition

Hernando de Soto’s essay, “The Capitalist Cure for Terrorism,” is worth reading chiefly because of the data it surfaces on the scale of systemic political-economic corruption in the Arab world. One illustrative example is the 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, who immolated himself, after the umpteenth shakedown by government inspectors.
Government And Business

Policy Digest: Regulatory State Edition

Not too long ago, Steven Greenhut wrote an unusually good piece for U-T San Diego, criticizing employers in California’s construction industry for lobbying for a regulatory crack down on its lower-cost competition. He correctly points out the futility of their approach: “[B]y lobbying for new rules on others rather than for less red tape for everyone, they have lost any right to seriously complain about any additional regulations future Legislatures impose on them.”
Science And Industrialization

Policy Digest: Environmental issues

Climate protestors are busy preparing signs, floats and a “papier-mâché tree embedded with axes” for the People’s Climate March in New York City this Sunday. Thousands are expected to gather and march through the streets of Manhattan with the goal of convincing U.N. members to band together and drastically cut the use of fossil fuels across the globe. Marchers may believe they are taking to the streets in an effort to make lives better, but Alex Epstein, president and founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, writes in a recent Forbes.com article, that “[i]n fact they’re supporting policies that would cut billions of lives short. Literally.”
Government And Business

Policy Digest: Regulatory State Edition

The Wall Street Journal offers a good take down of the arguments for the Export-Import Bank, which the House just reauthorized for another 6 months. One irony in this debate, which the Journal notes: many on the left, including the Obama administration, Elizabeth Warren, and Nancy Pelosi, support the Ex-Im bank despite their real antipathy for business and their professed antipathy for “the rich” obtaining benefits at the expense of everyone else. As the Journal explains, “these liberals are friends of business only when government is allocating the favors.” That’s true, but the issue goes deeper than handing out favors.
Government And Business

Policy Digest: Welfare State Edition

Michael Tanner: “[M]ore than one out of every three Americans live in households that are now on welfare. Looked at another way, America’s welfare state now has nearly three times the population of the largest actual state. . . . And none of these numbers include the middle-class social-welfare programs like Medicare and Social Security. Counting these programs, more than 153 million Americans, nearly half the population (49.5 percent), are living in households now dependent on government for a significant portion of their income.”
Government And Business

Policy Digest: Welfare State Edition

You may have heard about “inversions,” which have become a hot topic of debate in the wake of Burger King’s acquisition of Tim Hortons. Megan McArdle provides some much-needed context for that debate (although my jaw dropped when I got to her line about “what you owe the government that raised you”). Cato Institute scholar and Debt Dialogues guest Dan Mitchell has more.
Foreign Policy

Policy Digest: Foreign Policy Edition

What kind of foreign policy should Republican presidential hopefuls advocate? Angelo Codevilla’s shrewd answer: something other than the prevailing establishment view, practiced during the 20th century. While I differ from some points in his analysis, the thrust of his article illustrates some important weaknesses of Republican administrations.
Government And Business

Policy Digest: Welfare State Edition

George Will: “This is the progressive premise in action: Because government provides infrastructure (roads, etc.) affecting everyone, and because government-dispensed money flows everywhere, everything is beholden to the government, and more or less belongs to the government, and should be subordinated to its preferences, which always are for more control of the nation’s wealth.” I’ve made this point in regard to the welfare state. The recipients of government handouts are inevitably told they have no right to assert their right to make independent decisions: they are “beholden to the government.”
Government And Business

Policy Digest: Regulatory State Edition

In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Alex Tabarok reviews a new book that provides yet another glimpse into the inner workings of our destructive regulatory state. The book, called Innovation Breakdown: How the FDA and Wall Street Cripple Medical Advances, chronicles the fight by a company called MELA Sciences to win approval from the FDA for a noninvasive method for detecting skin cancer. Initially enthusiastic about the product, the FDA later turned against the company when a new FDA director with a less favorable view of business came on board. The author of the book, who was the company’s CEO at the time (he has since retired), spent a year of his life at great personal cost fighting with the FDA before prevailing.

Further Reading

Ayn Rand | 1957
For the New Intellectual

The Moral Meaning of Capitalism

An industrialist who works for nothing but his own profit guiltlessly proclaims his refusal to be sacrificed for the “public good.”
View Article
Ayn Rand | 1961
The Virtue of Selfishness

The Objectivist Ethics

What is morality? Why does man need it? — and how the answers to these questions give rise to an ethics of rational self-interest.
View Article