Cicero Institute

Entrepreneurial Solutions to Public Problems

I have always been of the opinion that unpopularity earned by doing what is right is not unpopularity at all but glory.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

Principles & Commitments

The Cicero Institute empowers entrepreneurs to address America’s toughest social challenges.

Too often, our dynamic innovation economy fails to address the most pressing needs of our society. Entrepreneurs have made progress in many industries, but poor incentives and dense meshes of rules and restrictions have kept innovators from contributing to areas where disruption is needed most: healthcare, education, regulation, transportation, housing, and prisons. The systems governing these sectors are increasingly rigged and extractive, rewarding well-connected incumbents instead of projects that serve the American people.

The Cicero Institute aims to reverse this trend by removing barriers for innovation and spurring entrepreneurs to contribute to the public good. We partner with modern-day Ciceros: public-spirited policymakers who courageously oppose cronyism and special interests for the sake of the common good. Together, we design bipartisan policy frameworks that foster entrepreneurial innovation towards cheap, high-quality healthcare, students prepared for the workforce, intelligent, adaptive regulation, swift transportation, affordable housing, and decarceration efforts that keep America safe.

Our conviction is that America’s best days are yet ahead of her. To expand opportunity and prosperity for our countrymen we must rely not on administrative edicts, but on America’s most precious and powerful resource: the human ingenuity and hard work of its citizens. Our mission is to help public servants work with entrepreneurs to make this vision a reality.


Paying for Performance in the Pell Grant Program

In 2017, the federal government disbursed more than $29 billion in Pell grants to students across the country, up from 10 billion in 2000. To put this in context, the cost to taxpayers of a single year of Pell grants now roughly equals the CBO-projected cost of the entire federal student loan program over the next decade.


Private Philanthropy has Many Lessons for Government

America’s nonprofit sector is booming. There are now over one and a half million nonprofits registered with the IRS, contributing nearly one trillion dollars to the economy.


Pull Back the Curtain on Hospital Prices

Prices don’t just reveal. They discipline. Prices allow consumers to goad businesses for the best deal, and they allow businesses to see how they can best their competitors.


Misconceptions about California’s Housing Crisis: Why Cars and Suburbs Are Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

The “Yes-In-My-Backyard,” or YIMBY, movement in California has become the most powerful force for better housing in modern American history. Their success in advocating for more housing, through both state and local work, is incomparable.


Why is PG&E Failing California? All the Wrong Incentives

The Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), California’s largest electric utility, is in bankruptcy for the second time in 20 years. It filed this time in January of 2019, after its flagging power lines sparked over a dozen wildfires and over a hundred deaths, as well as hundreds of thousands of home evacuations and billions of dollars in damages.


How New California Housing Can Slow Global Warming

California’s mild climate and extensive environmental regulations make the state a veritable environmental oasis in America.


Restoring the Lost Promise of a Paperwork Budget

Everyone hates paperwork. And as far as we know, no politician has run a campaign on expanding government red tape.


Thoughts on Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero has long inspired visionaries. The rediscovery of his works helped spark the Renaissance, and his writings pervaded the thoughts of America’s Founders.


Why the Public Should See PBM Prices

Price-signaling is the backbone of a free market. Prices allow customers, businesses, and investors to decide when there is too much or too little of some good, and to bargain if a good is too expensive.


How Physicians Write their Own Paycheck: The Relative Update Committee

Right now, in the windowless recesses of an anonymous hotel, a handful of physicians are deciding the cost of medical care in America. Few people know about this meeting, and fewer understand what it does.


California Corrections is Broken — Here’s How to Fix It

Our state has an opportunity to lead the nation in criminal justice reform by dramatically reducing the corrections population and state expenditures while improving public safety.


Why California Cities Already Lost Local Control (And Why the State Needs to Push Housing)

Many Californians agree that the state government should push local cities to accept more housing. Yet many Californians also have an understandable reluctance to take power away from these cities, because they believe that dispersed local governments usually allow for a more open and responsive political system.


Integrated Coverage Would Save Billions and Improve the Lives of the Least Well-Off

12 million Americans qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid coverage. These “dual eligibles” qualify for Medicaid because they are very poor and qualify for Medicare because they are either elderly or disabled.


How to Make San Francisco Neighborhoods Stop Worrying and Love More Housing

In San Francisco, the problem of unaffordable housing has reached calamitous levels and threatens the vibrancy of the city.


Upzoning San Francisco’s Commercial Corridors

San Francisco has the least affordable housing in the United States. The median home now costs over $1.6 million, more than seven times the national level, while the median monthly rent is over $3,700, more than double the national level. These high prices are due to restrictions on building, and especially to San Francisco’s draconian zoning codes, which force low-density development despite high demand.


Fix the International Price Index for Part B Drugs

American drug spending is out of control. At $330B a year, American expenditures on prescription drugs subsidize pharmaceutical R&D for the rest of the planet and allow foreign governments use price controls to keep drugs artificially cheap for their citizens.


For-Profit College Incomes Should Mirror Student Outcomes

America should harness entrepreneurial innovation in higher education by financially rewarding for-profit colleges only if they help students succeed in the American economy.


How to Save $900 Billion Annually in American Healthcare

A suite of reforms aimed at unseating corrupt players, increasing access to healthcare data, and aligning incentives towards quality care could save our country as much as $900 billion a year.


The Dialysis Industry is Failing America

America’s reactive model of kidney care enriches an oligopolistic dialysis industry, wastes billions of dollars a year, and creates worse health outcomes for millions of Americans each decade.


Align Incentives to Solve Recidivism

State governments should competitively reimburse private prisons that are most effective at reducing recidivism and helping prisoners reintegrate into normal American life. Only by rewiring incentives can we attract the best and brightest entrepreneurs to solving America's mass incarceration nightmare.


Fight Traffic With Congestion Pricing

America faces a mounting transportation crisis, and the primary culprit is road congestion. Traffic makes us unhealthy, wastes enormous amounts of time, and cripples national productivity. America needs expanded roads and transportation infrastructure, but traditional gas tax funding is no longer available.


AI and robots will take our jobs - but better ones will emerge for us

The fear that robots will soon take your jobs has a grain of truth to it - however, the future paves the way for more jobs for humans, based in technological innovation.


The Future of Labor — Keynes

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” — (Genesis 2:15)


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