The Beacon: Blog of Independent Institute

SCOTUS Slaps Patent Trolls
Tuesday May 23, 2017 | William Watkins

In a unanimous decision (TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC), the U.S. Supreme Court gave a kick in the rear to patent trolls. The Verge has this article on the case. Patent trolls obtain patents not for the purpose of producing an invention or a technology but to license and enforce the patents. In other...
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Three Haiku on Regime Uncertainty
Friday May 19, 2017 | Robert Higgs

Aphorism says Personnel is policy Trump’s team in chaos — No one knows what’s next Actors and actions in flux, Regime’s uncertain — Situation grim Investment makes little sense No prospect of growth    

Another Bubble in the Making?
Thursday May 18, 2017 | Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Moral hazard, easy money, and cheap credit have never produced good results. History is littered with examples of financial disaster brought about by monetary manipulation originating in central banks and then spreading to other parts of the system. One would think that the 2007/8 credit crisis, whose effects have not quite withered away, would...
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Trinity Lutheran and a Response to Michael Stokes Paulsen and NRO
Monday May 15, 2017 | William Watkins

On May 3, The Wall Street Journal posted a short op-ed I wrote on the Trinity Lutheran case. (Sorry, but the op-ed is behind a pay wall; however, here is a blog post that gives some background to the case and my first impressions.) Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen, alleging I was “wrong on every...
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Pope Francis’s Failure to See Entrepreneurs as Good Samaritans Undercuts the Poor
Friday May 12, 2017 | Lawrence J. McQuillan

On April 25, a videotaped talk by Pope Francis was released at the international TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. The 18-minute talk, titled “Why the Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone,” can be viewed here. Francis highlighted three themes, beginning with the observation that community is central to human existence: [L]ife flows through our...
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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Romps Through Space with Purpose
Tuesday May 9, 2017 | Sam Staley

Chalking up Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as a just a fun romp through the universe with the galaxy’s most dysfunctional family would be easy. But the film, like the Marvel comics that inspired it, is much more. Writer-director James Gunn (Slither, Dawn of the Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy) has done an...
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Carl Christ—Eminent Yet Sensible Econometrician and Mentor Supremo
Monday May 8, 2017 | Robert Higgs

I transferred to the Department of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University in 1966 to continue my work for the Ph.D. degree, which Hopkins awarded me in 1968. During my two years at Hopkins, I never took a course from Carl Christ, a highly regarded econometrician and macroeconomist there. Yet Carl turned out to...
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MyGovCost: Project of Independent Institute

Wednesday May 24, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As we noted, failed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been pushing California to establish what he calls “single payer” health care. This is a misnomer for several reasons, particularly on the issue of cost. As legislators recently learned, the price tag is $400 billion a year to cover all health and administrative costs, twice...
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President Trump’s “Fat” Budget Proposal Arrives
Tuesday May 23, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

It’s here! After months of anticipation following March release of President Trump’s “skinny” budget proposal (cover pictured on the right), the president’s “fat” budget proposal is being released today. Bloomberg summarizes the main features that define President Trump’s first full budget proposal. President Donald Trump would dramatically reduce the U.S. government’s role in society...
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Pentagon Slush Funds Waste Billions
Monday May 22, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

President Donald Trump has decried the “tremendous waste, fraud and abuse” in the federal government, and proclaimed “we’re going to get it.” When it comes to the Pentagon, that is going to be a tough task. As we noted late last year, the Pentagon buried an internal study exposing $125 billion in administrative waste....
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Feds Take Defaulting Student Loan Borrowers to Court
Monday May 22, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

What happens to Americans who have taken out student loans from the U.S. government, but aren’t able to pay them back? Increasingly, the U.S. government is taking them to court to get its money back. National Public Radio’s Bobby Allyn reports on a relatively new policy that the U.S. Department of Education put into...
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UC Regents Reinforce the Rot
Friday May 19, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As we noted, University of California president Janet Napolitano has been beating the drum for tuition hikes while maintaining a secret slush fund of $175 million, California’s state auditor recently revealed. As Republican assemblyman Dante Acosta pointed out, Napolitano’s office spent the hidden money “on things such as administrator bonuses and renovating the homes...
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Connecticut’s Collapsing Credit Rating
Thursday May 18, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

The state of Connecticut’s fiscal outlook took a sharp turn for the worse this week. Following the state’s sharp plunge in income tax revenues earlier this month, which prompted the state to completely drain its rainy day fund and to modestly cut the state government’s budget, the state’s growing debt burden and pension liabilities...
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Government Bullies Get Bookish
Tuesday May 16, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Last December, California governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1570, authored by former Republican assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang. Chang’s measure alters the state’s “autograph law,” formerly limited to sports memorabilia, to include any signed item worth more than $5, including books. As Anastasia Bolden of the Pacific Legal Foundation notes, this makes it “extremely risky,...
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