The Beacon: Blog of Independent Institute

Europe Sees the Long March of the Extreme Right
Tuesday May 24, 2016 | Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Austria’s far right candidate, Norbert Hofer, has lost the second round of the election for the presidency by a mere thirty thousand votes to Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green Party leader. Europe has breathed a sigh of relief, but the stunning success of the nationalists, who won the first round and caused...
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Expanding the Schooling Monopoly One Toddler at a Time
Friday May 20, 2016 | Vicki Alger

Universal preschool is (again) making headlines as a cure for what ails us. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is the latest in a long line of politicians claiming universal, government-run preschool will improve high school graduation rates, as well as college and job preparation. A few years back House Minority Leader Nancy...
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Fed ED Flunks
Friday May 20, 2016 | Vicki Alger

One of the leading claims proponents made for establishing a US Department of Education was that state and local citizens simply couldn’t be trusted with education. What proponents leave out, of course, is any rational explanation why DC bureaucrats know better than we hoi polloi taxpayers and parents. A recent column by Santa Clara...
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You Aren’t Entitled to a College Education
Thursday May 19, 2016 | Abigail R. Hall Blanco

When I graduated from college, reality hit. I was now considered a “real adult.” In a matter of months I’d be moving out of my parents’ basement and some 700 miles away to start graduate school. I was also struck by something I knew was coming, but hadn’t quite appreciated. That “something” was my...
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A Defense of “Big Bad Pharma”
Thursday May 19, 2016 | Abigail R. Hall Blanco

Late last year Turing Pharmaceuticals provoked a serious backlash after hiking the price of the pill Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The head of the company defended his firm against the criticism, but many found his arguments lacking. While we may question the overnight price jump of more than 5,400 percent, economics...
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Must We Work for Nuns If We Wish to Dodge Obamacare’s Mandates?
Thursday May 19, 2016 | John R. Graham

Obamacare’s opponents are cheering the Little Sisters of the Poor’s apparent Supreme Court victory over Obamacare’s mandate to cover artificial contraception, about which I wrote when the controversy first erupted. The Little Sisters defied the mandate, which is contrary to their Catholic faith. The mandate is relevant not to the nuns’ themselves (obviously), but...
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When Is Living in Terror Defined as Living in Harmony?
Thursday May 19, 2016 | Mary Theroux

The authors of the new Independent Institute book, Nature Unbound, assert that “human beings are an integral part of the natural order and merit no less consideration than Earth’s other treasures.” To those who do not realize what a radical notion this is in today’s mainstream environmentalism—which views human beings as wholly foreign to...
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MyGovCost: Project of Independent Institute

Federal Slush Fund Shovels Millions to Favored Activist Groups
Tuesday May 24, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As we noted in 2013, an immigration bill pending in Congress included a hidden multimillion-dollar slush fund for left-wing nonprofits that would provide almost $300 million over three years and grow over time. A primary beneficiary of the slush fund was the National Council of La Raza, whose former senior policy analyst Cecilia Munoz...
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U.S. Truckers to Test Drive Pension Benefit Cuts
Saturday May 21, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

According to Social Security’s Trustees, in 2034, all Americans who receive retirement benefits from Social Security will have their pension payments slashed by 21%. But before that happens 18 years from now, U.S. truckers will test drive even larger retirement benefit cuts from their pensions if the U.S. Treasury department has its way, as...
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World Banks Panic Selling U.S. Treasuries
Wednesday May 18, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

What happens when a number of the world’s central banks begin selling off their holdings of U.S. Treasury securities—the money the U.S. federal government borrows to sustain its spending? That’s a real question today because according to CNN, that’s exactly what three of the U.S. government’s largest lenders did in the first quarter of...
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Recalling California’s Stem Cell Bust
Tuesday May 17, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As John Tozzi and Michelle Cortez of Bloomberg report on the stem cell front, “press releases, popular media, and even some journal articles routinely inflate expectations for future therapies based on early findings that probably will never turn into cures.” Now the International Society for Stem Cell Research, representing more than 4,100 researchers, wants...
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Count the ARC for Looming OPEB Obligations
Friday May 13, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

When counting the cost of government, taxpayers should pay close attention to OPEB, the “Other Post-Employment Benefits” of government employees aside from their pensions but including their health care costs. Now taxpayers have a calculating tool, State Retiree Health Plan Spending: An examination of funding trends and plan provisions, a new report from the...
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The National Debt Burden per Household
Friday May 13, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

How has the national debt burden per typical U.S. household changed during the last 8 years? To answer that question, it might help to know what a typical U.S. household is. For our purposes, a typical American household is one that earns the median household income, which means that 50% of U.S. households earn...
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Thursday May 12, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As the story goes, somebody opened a restaurant with politicians and bureaucrats as waiters but it failed because they kept serving the food under the table. In the real world, likewise, politicians and bureaucrats strive to keep things out of sight from taxpayers. As Taryn Luna writes in the Sacramento Bee, one way they...
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