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The Beacon: The Blog of the Independent Institute

Gaming Gainful Employment
Friday September 19, 2014 | Vicki Alger

It looks like the U.S. Department of Education is fudging the numbers...again. The Obama administration is taking another run at imposing onerous gainful employment regulations on private, for-profit career colleges. Under the new proposed regulations unveiled earlier this year, for students to qualify for federal aid for-profit career colleges must prove the estimated annual...
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Jameis Winston . . . Again?
Thursday September 18, 2014 | Randall Holcombe

If you’re even a little bit of a sports fan, you probably know that Florida State University’s quarterback, Jameis Winston, has been suspended from the first half of the FSU-Clemson game for standing on a table in the student union and shouting out obscenities. As good as he’s been on the field, Jameis has...
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The Giver’s Dystopia: Total Equality and No Humanity
Thursday September 18, 2014 | Aaron Tao

“Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of The Giver: the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all.” —Lois Lowry Last month, I had...
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Smarter Forest Management Could Yield Water for California’s Population Growth
Wednesday September 17, 2014 | Lawrence J. McQuillan

There is mounting evidence that poor policies are creating California’s water troubles. California has a policy problem disguised as a water problem. The poor policies create massive misallocation of water and water waste throughout the state. More evidence of this comes from Roger Bales, a hydrologist with the University of California, Merced, and Scott...
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A Very Weak Case for Hospital Mergers
Wednesday September 17, 2014 | John R. Graham

One consequence of Obamacare is hich can reduce competition and increase prices. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, MD, CEO and President of Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, puts forward a number of claims in favor of hospital consolidation. Each assertion is weak, making an unconvincing argument overall. First, Dr....
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Perfecting Tyranny
Wednesday September 17, 2014 | Abigail Hall

When discussing the costs of foreign intervention, it’s typical for scholars, elected officials, and the general public to focus on the international consequences. As the U.S. prepares for new offenses in Iraq and Syria, for example, many have called into question issues of civilian casualties, the impact on these countries’ political and economic systems,...
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Celebrating Human Action—Ludwig von Mises’s Masterpiece
Monday September 15, 2014 | Robert Murphy

September 14 marked the 65th anniversary of the publication of Ludwig von Mises’s masterpiece Human Action. I have been studying Mises’s classic text very carefully the past two years, as I’ve completed the manuscript for a forthcoming Independent Institute book, Cooperation and Enterprise: The Economics of Choice, that crystallizes the essence of Human Action...
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MyGovCost: A Project of the Independent Institute

The Expired Subsidy That Won’t Die
Friday September 19, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

In December 2013, one of the biggest successes for opponents of wasteful government spending took place: the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the government subsidy–dependent wind-power industry expired, which would progressively save U.S. taxpayers up to $12 billion as no new wind-energy development projects could claim it. It was an event we noted earlier...
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USDA At Odds with Immigrants’ Work Ethic
Thursday September 18, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Alvaro Vargas Llosa, a native of Peru, notes in his book Global Crossings that workers from many nations tend to migrate in search of employment opportunities and prosperity. In the new book A Race for the Future, Cuban native Mike Gonzalez shows how, from the 1940s into the 1960s, the Bracero program allowed Mexican...
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Federal NHTSA Unsafe at Any Speed
Tuesday September 16, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration purports to hold the safety of American motorists in high esteem, but according to a recent investigation reported by the Boston Globe, the federal agency is slow to identify safety problems and tentative to take action. This is not a new development. As we noted in April, NHTSA...
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IRS Bureaucrat Paid for Nothing
Tuesday September 16, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

If you’ve been following the IRS Scandal involving IRS employees denying tax-exempt status to a number of non-profit groups opposed to President Obama’s political agenda, you’re familiar with the name Lois Lerner — especially if you’re familiar with the IRS claim that it had “lost” all of the senior manager’s, and many of her associates‘,...
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Low Morale at the Department of Labor
Friday September 12, 2014 | Craig Eyermann

The U.S. Department of Labor must be an awful place to work. We know that must be the case because of the things that the Department of Labor spends money on for the purpose of “improving” the morale of its employees. Kyle Smith asks some questions about some of DoL’s more curious expenditures: An...
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Wednesday September 10, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

In 1950, Congress created the National Science Foundation “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.” In fiscal year 2014 the NSF deploys a budget of $7.2 billion, and remains the “major source of federal backing” for “mathematics, computer science and the social...
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Taxpayers Must Sweat the Small Stuff
Monday September 8, 2014 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As this column observes, government costs are high because of new federal entitlements such as Obamacare, the federal stimulus program, excessive military spending, the war on drugs, bloated bureaucracy, and new federal agencies such as the Consumer Finance Protection bureau, to name just a few of the big-ticket items. Government costs also run high...
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