The Beacon: Blog of Independent Institute

Alcohol Bans Won’t Put Dent in Campus Sexual Assault
Wednesday August 24, 2016 | Sam Staley

Students at Stanford University will be greeted with a ban on hard liquor this fall, all in an effort to control irresponsible behavior among its students and, in part, to address campus sexual assault. Alcohol bans are unlikely to have much of an effect on campus sexual assault and, in fact, might make matters...
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Telehealth Opportunity versus Telehealth “Parity”
Tuesday August 23, 2016 | John R. Graham

A great opportunity to reduce costs and improve quality in U.S. health care is telehealth, which uses information technology to eliminate distance between a patient and a medical provider. A subset of telehealth is telemedicine, which allows physicians to consult patients over the phone, by text, or by video. Take a couple of obvious...
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Caltrans Wins Golden Fleece Award for Its $10 Billion Highway Robbery
Monday August 22, 2016 | Lawrence J. McQuillan

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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Single-Payer Setback: Canadian Doctors without Contract for Two Years and Counting
Friday August 19, 2016 | John R. Graham

Physicians in Canada’s largest province, Ontario, have rejected a contract negotiated between the Ontario Medical Association and the provincial health ministry. The more than two-year-old dispute shows no sign of ending. Every Canadian is covered by a provincial government health plan. Doctors therefore have only one plan with which they must contract. Individual doctors,...
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What the Prague Spring Teaches Us Today about Liberty
Friday August 19, 2016 | Sam Staley

Prague, Czech Republic is well recognized for its historical architecture and role as the cradle of civilization in Western Europe, but it’s role in reinventing itself as a peaceful, market-oriented democracy in the wake of Communism’s fall deserves to be a centerpiece of contemporary discussions about freedom and how easily it can be lost. For...
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Obamacare Authorities Actually Think Health Costs Fell
Thursday August 18, 2016 | John R. Graham

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has just made the remarkable claim that medical costs paid by health insurers operating in Obamacare’s exchanges declined in 2015 from 2014: Per-enrollee costs in the ACA individual market were essentially unchanged between 2014 and 2015. Specifically, after making comparability adjustments described below, per-member-per month (PMPM)...
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Dealing with Mistakes: Government Action versus Private Action
Wednesday August 17, 2016 | Robert Higgs

Government can hardly ever do just one thing. Its action has repercussions, and these repercussions have repercussions, and so forth. Even when the government’s initial action may seem compassionate or productive, it is highly unlike that the repercussions will prove likewise. Of course, private action also has repercussions, some of which may be unpleasant...
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MyGovCost: Project of Independent Institute

Armed Enforcement: Bureaucracies Get Bigger and More Militant
Monday August 22, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

They came before dawn, a squad of six armed officers, banging on the door of Maria Elena Hernandez, 62, a Los Angeles grandmother. When she identified herself, one of the officers twisted her arms behind her back and slapped her in handcuffs. Hernandez protested that the officers had the wrong person, but they duly...
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Taxpayer-Financed Stadium for Sale!
Monday August 22, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

In 1996, construction began on a brand new major league ballpark in Phoenix, Arizona, which became the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks when it was completed and opened in 1998. Originally called Bank One Ballpark, the stadium is now known as Chase Field. The stadium cost $349 million to complete, of which, $238 million...
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282 TVs in a VA Closet and Nothing’s On
Thursday August 18, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

The Department of Veterans Affairs has gotten itself into hot water with its Inspector General again, this time, for wasting over $292,492 to buy some 282 television sets for a new patient area in the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, Michigan that was never built, where the TVs were thus never...
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Trickle-Down Debt, Failure
Monday August 15, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Politicians may bill it as “free”, but government monopoly in education is big business that racks up considerable public debt. As Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee observes, in recent decades California has issued $45 billion in school bonds now being repaid at a cost of nearly $3 billion a year. With interest the...
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Weaponizing Ukraine’s National Debt
Monday August 15, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

As much as we focus on the U.S. national debt, there’s a lot that we can learn from other governments whose national debts have surpassed their people’s ability to even hope to pay back their nation’s creditors. A very strong argument to be made that the nation with the worst problem arising from its...
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Federal Financing for Los Angeles Sports Park
Friday August 12, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

Last May, the City of Los Angeles decommissioned its Memorial Sports Arena, lowering three flags that had flown over the facility—those of the United States, California, and Los Angeles County and City—for the last time before making way for a new $250 million sports development in Exposition Park. But there’s a problem. Neither Los Angeles...
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Bullet Train Railroads Property Rights, Taxpayers
Wednesday August 10, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As we noted, in Blazing Saddles the devious Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) plots to build a railroad and has his eye on the land he needs. “Unfortunately,” he laments, “there is one thing standing between me and that property – the rightful owners.” As Ralph Vartebarian notes in the Los Angeles Times, California’s bullet...
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