How Big is Government?

For years the great economist Milton Friedman used to say that the correct measure of the size of government is not total taxes, but total spending. That is because spending is a truer measure of the resources government is taking out of society, especially when there is a large budget deficit. However, in a time of budget surpluses, Prof. Friedman's analysis needs updating. Simply looking at spending is no longer an adequate measure of the size of government. Nor is just looking at on-budget revenues a sufficient measure of taxation.


The National Center for Policy Analysis announced today that an episode of the nationally syndicated program DebatesDebates, which was sponsored by the NCPA, will begin airing nationally this week.

The Truth about Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl has sparked a national debate over land-use policy. At least 19 states have established either state growth-management laws or task forces to protect farmland and open space. Dozens of cities and counties have adopted urban growth boundaries to contain development in existing areas and prevent the spread of urbanization to outlying and rural areas. The Clinton administration has proposed to make urban sprawl a federal issue.

Gun Lawsuits Make Us Less Safe

The mayors of New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami-Dade County and Bridgeport, Conn., have filed lawsuits against gun manufacturers to recover costs related to firearm violence in their cities. Other cities seem likely to file suit in the near future. They want gun makers to reimburse their cities for the public health and safety costs associated with treating and preventing injuries caused by firearms used in crimes.

Saving Social Security

When I sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, I proposed a plan to convert Social Security from the current pay-as-you-go system to a fully funded retirement program. Eleven years later, both Republicans and Democrats have come to agree that the current system is facing financial collapse, and reforming Social Security is finally on the Washington agenda.

Suing Gun Manufacturers: Hazardous to Our Health

The lawsuits against gun manufacturers are not just bad public policy, they are also dubious as matters of law. The courts have recognized that firearms are no different from many other potentially dangerous products and have consistently held that legislatures should decide whether guns should be legal and widely available.

Teacher Accountability in Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools that operate with a great deal of autonomy, free from many of the regulations of traditional public schools. One difference is that teachers in charter schools generally have less job security – by design. They have no tenure, work under year-to-year contracts and risk dismissal if they fail to contribute to student achievement as judged by the school. In return, however, they usually have more teaching flexibility, less paperwork and participate more fully in decision making. If Arizona's charter school experience is typical, they also often earn more than their public school counterparts.