The Beacon: Blog of Independent Institute

State’s Two-Way Mirror
Sunday June 26, 2016 | Robert Higgs

Constant surveillance State’s prying eyes seek your wrongs Yours alone, not state’s – Got nothing to hide? Not to worry, citizen State makes no mistakes – But if it should err You will pay the error’s price State will not confess

Ambulatory Surgery Centers Saved $38 Billion in Private Health Spending
Saturday June 25, 2016 | John R. Graham

New research from the Healthcare Bluebook (sponsored by the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association) indicates the privately insured population saved $38 billion by using Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) instead of hospital outpatient departments for day surgeries. That figure includes $5 billion of lower out-of-pocket costs paid by patients directly. What is remarkable is that only...
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Califor-ni-ED May Be Coming to a Classroom Near You
Friday June 24, 2016 | Vicki Alger

One export I’d like from California is its pre-Common Core math standards, hailed as the country’s finest. Instead, we’re likely going to get some horrific version of its pending K-12 history and social “science” framework – or as the Hoover Institution’s Bill Evers calls it, Progressive “goo-goo reform.” Whether or not we live in California, we...
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Should Dissent Be Allowed in Health Care?
Friday June 24, 2016 | John R. Graham

An eminent physician has tentatively proposed that published treatment guidelines be accompanied by dissenting expert opinions, much like U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Daniel Musher, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine, served on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which considered guidelines for a dual vaccine approach...
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Does Uber Reduce DUIs?
Thursday June 23, 2016 | Abigail R. Hall Blanco

I’ve written extensively on the benefits of ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. I’ve discussed how these companies, using the technology in smart phones, allow customers to request a ride and track their vehicle and driver. The firms operate in hundreds of cities and in more than 20 countries. These companies have received an...
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Which States Get the Biggest Piece of the Federal Education Funding Pie?
Thursday June 23, 2016 | Vicki Alger

Now that school is out, there’s time to do some much-needed housekeeping, including a review of states’ shares of federal education funding. Education expert Richard Innes, an analyst at Kentucky’s Bluegrass Institute, used Census data to see which states get the highest shares. Turns out, a handful of taker states should be writing thank...
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The Uneasy Relationship Between Progressivism and Freedom
Wednesday June 22, 2016 | Randall Holcombe

The United States was founded on an ideology that viewed the role of government as the protection of individual rights. That view of government was pushed aside by the ideology of Progressivism toward the end of the 1800s. The Progressive ideology envisions a government that not only protects individual rights but also looks out...
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MyGovCost: Project of Independent Institute

Sweet Deals for Government Unions Boost Costs for Taxpayers
Friday June 24, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Back in 2013, some 8,000 members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) rallied at the California state capitol in Sacramento chanting, “We’re letting them know this is our house!” In 2012, the government employee unions had helped elect big-government, tax-hiking politicians such as Jerry Brown, and they were now clamoring for more money...
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The Federal Student Loan Disaster
Friday June 24, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the federal government has borrowed over $1.036 trillion to loan money to U.S. college students through the Federal Direct student loan program through April 2016, with over 86% of that amount having been added since January 2009. David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press reports that for the...
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VA Supervisors Fight Against Accountability
Monday June 20, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

According to a new whistleblower, supervisors at the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ central office are abusing their power in ways that include physical and verbal intimidation, sexual harassment, and orders to their staff to not cooperate with Congressional investigations of wrongdoing at the federal government entity. Ashleigh Barry of Phoenix’ KPHO/KTVK News...
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Expensive Failure at California Department of Veterans Affairs
Friday June 17, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As Craig Eyermann observed last year, veterans who survive combat face health care rationing by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Contrary to official proclamations, veterans wait months before they can even get on a schedule to receive care. In Phoenix, as many as 40 veterans died before receiving care, all due to a...
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State Rankings for Fiscal Solvency
Thursday June 16, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

Eileen Norcross and Olivia Gonzalez of the Mercatus Center have released a new report on the fiscal solvency of each of the United States, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition. The rankings they determine for each state is based on the following five categories: Cash solvency. Does a state have enough cash on hand...
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University of California Fails Lesson in Cutting Costs
Tuesday June 14, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

The regional transit authority in California’s state capital recently laid off 20 employees, most of them administrators. “We don’t have business needs to justify these positions,” new business manager Henry Li told Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee.  In other words, the jobs were not necessary, and therefore wasteful. The staff reductions will save...
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Puerto Rico Debt Bailout Bill Advances in Congress
Monday June 13, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

A bill that would allow the U.S. territorial government of Puerto Rico to restructure its debts has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, where it now needs Senate and Presidential approval to become law. The Wall Street Journal describes the main goals of the bill that passed in the House with bipartisan majorities....
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