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The Beacon: The Blog of the Independent Institute

Obama’s Push to Recruit Young Adults into Obamacare Falls Short
Wednesday April 23, 2014 | John R. Graham

The White House and its media allies have been cheerleading Obamacare’s apparent success at exceeding the president’s stated target for enrollments in the Obamacare health-insurance exchanges. Even more importantly, they have asserted that a significant proportion enrolled in the exchanges are young people. President Obama declared that 35 percent of enrollees are under the...
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What Are the Financial Risks of Being Uninsured?
Tuesday April 22, 2014 | John C. Goodman

Previously, Chris Conover showed that the medical risk of being uninsured is small: ...[T]he evidence that having health insurance will reduce mortality risk by any significant amount is pretty thin...even if we assume that having coverage reduces the chance of early death by 22 percent, this is comparable to a half dozen other risks...
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Tolstoy’s Remarkable Manifesto on Christian Anarchy and Pacifism
Monday April 21, 2014 | Robert Higgs

I’ve just finished reading Leo Tolstoy’s remarkable book The Kingdom of God Is Within You. This was written in Russian and completed in 1893, but the Russian censors forbade its publication. It circulated in unpublished form in Russia, however, and was soon translated into other languages and published abroad. It had substantial influence on...
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Want to Start a Private Postsecondary School in California? Good Luck
Monday April 21, 2014 | Lawrence J. McQuillan

Not everyone wants to attend a traditional four-year college. A lot of people want to learn a trade and start a career immediately out of high school. Vocational schools have served these people in the past and helped them learn a trade in fields such as automotive repair, cosmetology, or nursing. Other people want...
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Los Angeles County Board of Education Blocks LAUSD “Blackmail” of Charter Schools
Monday April 21, 2014 | Vicki Alger

In February the Los Angeles Unified School District board revoked the charters of Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy and Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy—not because they didn’t perform, but because they did at a fraction of the cost. LAUSD officials revoked the charters of these two top performing, high poverty schools enrolling 770 (mostly...
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More on Obamacare’s “Bailout” for Health Insurers
Monday April 21, 2014 | John R. Graham

We have written a lot about the so-called “risk corridors” in Obamacare. Risk corridors are one of three mechanisms whereby health insurers that lose more money than they expected in Obamacare exchanges get reimbursed for part of their losses. We covered the details of the mechanism in this post. As the administration kept changing...
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Common Core Makes Simple Math as Complicated as the Tax Code
Monday April 21, 2014 | Vicki Alger

Those of us recovering from tax day should be more than ready to answer a simple subtraction problem: What’s 427 – 316? If you mastered elementary math sometime before the onset of Common Core national standards and after “new math” had fallen out of fashion, then you can solve this problem in about three...
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MyGovCost: A Project of the Independent Institute

Obamacare Spending Double Play
Wednesday April 23, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

“This thing is working.” That was President Obama on April 17. “This thing” is Obamacare, and the president says 8 million people have signed up and the so-called Affordable Care Act is covering more people at less cost than most would have predicted just a few months ago. In typical style, the president included...
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Bonuses for IRS Employees Who Failed to Pay Their Federal Taxes
Wednesday April 23, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

In yet another example of how government bureaucrats look out only for their own interests, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is paying out over $1 million in bonuses to 1,150 of its employees who have failed to pay their tax bills in previous years. Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press reports on the findings...
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Are Members of Congress Underpaid?
Monday April 21, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

The current salary of a U.S. congressman is $174,000 a year, with party leaders in both houses bagging more. House Speaker John Boehner leads the pack with an annual salary of $223,500. The push is now on to increase congressional pay led by Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, who laments that members of Congress...
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Sizing Up the Tax Code
Saturday April 19, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

From Wolters Kluwer, the publishers of the CCH Standard Tax Reporter, comes the answer to the perennial question: how long is the U.S. tax code? For the 2013 tax year (the one for which you either needed to file to pay your federal income taxes or to file for an extension on April 15,...
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Bombs and Budgets
Friday April 18, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

The first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing added new confusion to the tragedy. Some politicians still blamed the FBI for not following up on tips from Russian intelligence but a government report blames the Russians for not providing sufficient information. Whatever the case, some facts remain clear. No U.S. intelligence agency, military force,...
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Government Generational Money Grab
Wednesday April 16, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As we have noted, the IRS targets supporters of limited government, calls it “horrible customer service,” and resists inquiry. The IRS also does a poor job combatting fraud, and sends out more than $3 billion to identity thieves. The Social Security Administration has paid out more than $30 million to at least 1,546 dead...
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Trapped by the State
Tuesday April 15, 2014 | Carl Close

Over the past half century, federal spending on social programs has risen like a bubbling cauldron. In 1964, it amounted to less than one-quarter of the U.S. budget. Today it accounts for about two-thirds. What effect has the spending trend had on the American psyche? Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs offers a brilliant...
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