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Lawrence J. McQuillan Archive

Lawrence J. McQuillan is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation at the Independent Institute. He is the author of the Independent book, California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis.
Full biography and recent publications

The Federal Budget in Plain English



According to the President’s Office of Management and Budget, the 2016 federal budget looks like this (p. 115): Now let’s pretend this is a household budget by removing eight zeros: Clearly, this family is financially irresponsible, as rising debt and debt-service costs consume the family budget. To continue the analogy with the federal government,...
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Why Pro-Soda-Tax Ad in Bay Area Is Misleading, Part II



The November ballot in Oakland and San Francisco will feature proposals for a soda tax in each city, known as Measure HH and Proposition V, respectively, which would charge soda distributors an additional one cent per ounce of soda they sell in each city (or $2.88 per case). The tax would also apply to...
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Why Michael Bloomberg’s Pro-Soda-Tax Ad Is Misleading



Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is helping to bankroll a television-commercial campaign in favor of proposed soda taxes in Oakland and San Francisco, known as Measure HH and Proposition V, respectively, which will appear on each city’s November ballot. You can’t miss the commercial if you live in the Bay Area, as...
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Why One in Five Americans Are on Government Assistance (in One Image)



More than 52 million people in the United States, 21 percent of the population, participate in major means-tested government assistance programs each month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 80 federal programs dole out roughly $1 trillion of benefits and services to low-income people annually (see the amazing image above from the...
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Caltrans Wins Golden Fleece Award for Its $10 Billion Highway Robbery



The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has won the Independent Institute’s second California Golden Fleece Award, given out quarterly to state or local agencies or government projects that swindle taxpayers or break the public trust. With primary responsibility for highway maintenance projects in California, the irresponsible Caltrans has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and...
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Voting Reform: Putting Lipstick on the Collective Pig Is a Dumb Idea



In 2010, California voters approved a “top-two” primary system for congressional and statewide elected positions where primary voters choose among all candidates in all parties for each position. The top two vote getters in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, move on to the general election to face each other. The argument at the...
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Rock Music, Censorship, and Zimbabwe’s War of Independence



Independence Day in the United States is a good time to reflect on independence movements elsewhere. Before there was Zimbabwe, there was Rhodesia, where a white minority government oppressed blacks and “colored” (mixed race) people using force and apartheid-style policies. In the 1970’s, the last decade of the country’s War of Independence, rock music...
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Gov. Jerry Brown Proves Me Right on Public Pensions



As part of a year-long national campaign promoting my book California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis, I’ve been saying that it’s impossible to have both public governance of defined-benefit public pension plans and responsible management of these plans. Politicians face strong perverse incentives to mismanage the plans for their...
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An 1883 Memo to Bernie, Hillary, and Donald on How to Help Ordinary People: Leave Them Alone!



In 1883, William Graham Sumner wrote a series of essays for Harper’s Weekly, which paid him $50 apiece. The excerpted essay below on “The Forgotten Man” is as relevant today as in 1883—even more so. Politicians continue to pile more burdens on ordinary people in the name of this or that professed well-intentioned cause,...
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California’s High-Speed Rail Authority Wins Dishonor of the California Golden Fleece Award



The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has won the Independent Institute’s first California Golden Fleece Award for its lack of transparency and history of misleading the public about key details of the state’s “bullet-train” project, which no longer reflect what voters approved in 2008. The agency’s “bait-and-switch” strategy justifies a statewide vote on whether...
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