Thursday, November 02, 2006
Academics and Wonks
For most of this week I am attending events where the attendees are primarily academics/public policy wonks so I run the risk of sitting in some dry research paper presentations but duty calls so here I am!! These two events include:
1.) New York City -- the annual Bastiat Award dinner hosted by the International Policy Network which is based in London, www.policynetwork.net. This award was inspired by the economic writings of a French thinker whose "Petition from the Candlemaking Industry" is a must read to better understand how government harms economic development:
The award winner at this dinner (there were 3 winners named) that really caught my attention was the publisher of "The Boss" newspaper in Nepal. He really highlighted for me how precious the freedom of speech is for all of us, regardless of where we live, so let me thank our Founding Fathers who insisted that a "Bill of Rights" (especially our "First Amendment" protecting free speech) be included before they would support ratification of the US Constitution.
2.) Madison, Wisconsin -- the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, www.appam.org, is hosting its fall research conference here in "Mad Town" . I haven't been in Madison for probably 8 years since I quit lobbying here when I moved to Phoenix so it was nice to be back this week especially since this evening's reception was at the state capitol. This conference has nearly 1,000 attendees who are primarily university professors from across the USA. Overall the quality of presentations is rather good and the conversation at tonight's reception was fun especially when we discussed how students have changed over the years. The range of topics being discussed in the sessions is impressive but I am concerned with the apparent "left of center, big government is needed" bias APPAM appears to have given the title on the conference program -- "Tax and Spend: Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Effective Redistributional Policies."
Redistribution? Robbing Peter to pay Paul? If we are going to redistribute anything in this country let's redistribute power/government authority by abolishing at least half of the federal government by sending the power and money to state governments where it belongs. I would rather have the money saved go directly to taxpayers via tax refunds but this shift to state governments is only Phase One to break the power of the special interests who feed on federal tax dollars. Phase Two would then work to reduce/eliminate local property taxes by devolving power and money from the state governments to city councils where we the people can actually affect our elected leaders and staff via "coffee shop politics."
Keep hope alive,