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The Beacon: The Blog of the Independent Institute

Governmental “Reform” is an Oxymoron
Friday July 11, 2014 | William Shughart

Pick your favorite scandal du jour: Four employees of the Export-Import Bank recently were forced out of their jobs following allegations that they had solicited or accepted bribes from beneficiaries of the bank’s subsidies for foreign-based purchasers of U.S. exports or steered loans to politically powerful U.S. exporters. The director of the Internal Revenue...
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A “Smart-Growth” Revolt in California
Friday July 11, 2014 | Lawrence J. McQuillan

On June 18, the Larkspur City Council voted unanimously to kill a high-density “smart-growth” development plan for this community of 12,000 people 16 miles north of San Francisco. The plan called for building 39,500 square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of hotel space, 77,500 square feet of retail space, and up to...
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Gun Control Encore? Someone Picked the Wrong . . .
Thursday July 10, 2014 | David J. Theroux

As an encore to their very successful, earlier video ads on personal self-defense, GLOCK Inc. has produced a new series of superb and humorous videos featuring R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey: Someone Picked the Wrong Convenience Store: Someone Picked the Wrong Taxi: Someone Picked the Wrong Guy: The series has also inspired a host of amateur...
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NASA’s Children’s Climate Change Website, and the book 1984: Creating Spies One Child at a Time
Wednesday July 9, 2014 | Mary Theroux

From our friend Cal Beisner over at the Cornwall Alliance: What would you say if your child accused you of a thought crime, and turned you in to the thought police? Would you say it was ridiculous? Perhaps you would say, “There is no ‘thought crime’ in the United States.” Surely your children would...
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Understanding Waiting Times for Health Care
Monday July 7, 2014 | John R. Graham

In Sunday’s New York Times, reporter Elizabeth Rosenthal discusses evidence that that waiting times for medical care in the United States do not always compare favorably with those of other developed countries: “I fully expect wait times to be going up this year for Medicaid and Medicare and private insurance because we are expanding...
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Rags to Riches (to Rags Again)
Saturday July 5, 2014 | Aaron Tao

“Most income statistics present a snapshot picture as of a given moment—and their results are radically different from those statistics which follow the same given individuals over a period of years.” —Thomas Sowell Last week, CNNMoney carried a fascinating report on how rich families end up squandering their wealth: Nearly 60% of the time...
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Another Cover-Up? IRS and Social Security Administration Not Cooperating with Obamacare Fraud Investigation
Wednesday July 2, 2014 | John R. Graham

In early June, we learned that over two million (of a total of eight million) Obamacare applications lacked income, citizenship, or immigration data to verify eligibility for Obamacare’s tax credits. In the middle of the month, the Obama administration began contacting “hundreds of thousands of people with subsidized health insurance to resolve questions about...
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MyGovCost: A Project of the Independent Institute

A Lack of Control
Friday July 11, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

The Associated Press reports that for the fifth year in a row, the amount of checks that the U.S. federal government has acknowledged that it has improperly paid out has exceeded $100 billion: WASHINGTON (AP) — By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may...
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$100 Billion in Improper Payments
Friday July 11, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Readers of this column know that the federal government wastes a lot of taxpayers’ money. How much? Last year, by its own estimate, the government sent out $100 billion in improper payments. In fact, as Rep. John Mica explained, “It’s over $100 billion each of the last five years. That’s a staggering half a...
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Covered California Privatizes Email Stonewalling
Wednesday July 9, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

IRS bosses claim to have lost two years of emails with direct bearing on the targeting scandal. Federal and state government agencies could respond to these mysterious losses by expanding efforts to preserve all public records. But as Christopher Cadelago explains in the Sacramento Bee, Covered California is taking a different approach. California’s health...
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The Mispriorities of Bureaucrats
Tuesday July 8, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

We’ve been following the VA waitlist/rationed health care scandal since it provides such a clear window into the priorities of so many the federal government’s bureaucrats, who we’ve argued chronically put their own interests above those they are intended to serve. But the scale of those mispriorities is only just now becoming known. That...
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FATCA: A Surge of Seizure Fever
Monday July 7, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As we recently noted, Americans are still paying a heavy price for mistakes by the Internal Revenue Service. These include a “Seizure Fever” campaign that rewarded IRS employees based on how much money they had confiscated. The IRS also handed out billions in improper payments and fraudulent tax returns, paid millions in bonuses to...
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Obamacare’s Secret Taxpayer Bailout of Health Insurers
Sunday July 6, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is often abbreviated as either PPACA or ACA, but which is most popularly known as “Obamacare,” is a very complicated law that stands as an prime example of how politicians will put the interests of their crony corporate contributors ahead of those of the American people....
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Grievances Against the King
Friday July 4, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

In celebration of the 237th anniversary of the signing of the United States’ Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, we thought it might be a good time to reflect on the portion of the Declaration that indicts King George III, whose policies ultimately led to the successful War of Independence for Britain’s 13 colonies...
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