The Beacon: Blog of Independent Institute

Whether You Know It or Not, You Are a Tax Slave
Tuesday October 25, 2016 | Robert Higgs

In the antebellum South, it was not uncommon for slaves to rent themselves from their masters. As a young man, Frederick Douglass did so, for example. His owner gave him leave to go out on his own, to find employment where he could, and to pocket the pay he received for such work, except...
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Everybody Gets a Medal: Performance “Incentives” in Medicare Reform
Monday October 24, 2016 | John R. Graham

In April 2015, huge bipartisan majorities passed a milestone Medicare reform bill called MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act), which imported all the worst elements of Obamacare into Medicare. At the time, I wrote a series of posts (culminating in this one), which anticipated that physicians would refuse to swallow the medicine MACRA...
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Easterly, Buchanan, Hayek, and Economic Development
Monday October 24, 2016 | Abigail R. Hall Blanco

When I was an undergraduate student, the vast majority of my readings came from textbooks. For several years I looked at supply and demand graphs, calculated unemployment rates and elasticities, and answered questions about how changes in particular variables would impact inflation and economic growth according to various models. During my senior year, however, our economic...
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Bureaucratic Insolence at the Border: Five Haiku
Thursday October 20, 2016 | Robert Higgs

Syrian Christians Must not enter US church Might be terrorists – Computer whizzes From India and China H-1B required – Parents in Thailand Sorry Charlie, no quota State before mother – Good friends in Iran Stay away you mad bombers US picks my friends – Who chooses for me? Bureaucrats in Washington Arrogant “experts”

Why Aren’t Consumer-Driven Health Plans More Popular?
Thursday October 20, 2016 | John R. Graham

In a recent post I discussed new evidence that so-called consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) reduce health spending one-eighth among employer-sponsored group plans run by national health insurance companies. CHDPs are defined as High-Deductible Health Plans coupled with Health Savings Accounts (or Health Reimbursement Arrangements). These plans became available in 2005. However, they appear to...
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Can Christian Adherents of the Freedom Philosophy Support Trump?
Wednesday October 19, 2016 | William Watkins

There has been much chatter recently about whether Christians with libertarian or conservative convictions can, in good conscience, support Trump. At the American Conservative, Rod Dreher says no. Over at Chronicles Tom Piatak challenges Dreher’s reasoning. Walter Block, who is behind the Libertarians for Trump movement, says that “The Donald is the most congruent with...
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SCOTUS, the Presidential Debate, and The Formula
Tuesday October 18, 2016 | William Watkins

The Supreme Court will be a major issue in tonight’s presidential debate. Justice Scalia’s seat is just part of the story. At 83 years old, rumors have long been swirling about the health of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a solid vote for the liberals. Moreover, Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who often votes with the...
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MyGovCost: Project of Independent Institute

California’s Chinese Steel Crack-Up
Tuesday October 25, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

In the presidential debate last week, Republican Donald Trump attacked China’s trade policies and Democrat Hillary Clinton charged that Trump used “Chinese steel” in his own projects. As it happens, the most eager American user of Chinese steel is the government of California, on the new span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Back...
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Grand Theft Education
Monday October 24, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

K-12 education gets the lion’s share of California’s budget, largely due to Proposition 98 (1988) author John Mockler, a lobbyist who became a millionaire working both sides of the table. In government monopoly education, the money goes directly to bureaucracies, the state department of education, the county offices of education, and local school districts....
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New Ideas for Regaining Control over Mandatory Spending
Monday October 24, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

Now that four years of falling budget deficits have officially come to an end, how can the U.S. Congress regain control over federal spending? Previously, we looked at one basic common sense proposal that could slow the spending for the U.S.’ fastest growing mandatory expenditure, Medicaid, but what tools does the U.S. Congress have...
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State Stem Cell Bust Goes Begging
Thursday October 20, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As David Jensen explains in the Sacramento Bee, California’s government stem cell agency, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is spending another $30 million “to dramatically speed approval of stem cell therapies and establish the Golden State globally in the much-heralded regenerative medicine field.” Down lower in the piece, in paragraph six, readers...
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How to Score the Final Clinton-Trump Debate
Wednesday October 19, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

With the revelations of the past weeks, the third presidential debate is sure to be one of the best shows in Las Vegas. Many observers have already had enough of the Clinton-Trump spectacle, but there are still some important things to look for. Observers might examine the candidates’ statements for some sense of the...
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How the Feds Could Slow Down Entitlement Spending
Wednesday October 19, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

In 2016, the U.S. government’s annual budget deficit stopped falling for the first time in four years and swung sharply into reverse, increasing to $587 billion, which is 34% higher than 2015’s budget deficit. Nearly all of that increase was due to “mandatory” spending on entitlements, the part of the federal government’s expenditures that...
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Four Years of Falling U.S. Budget Deficits End
Monday October 17, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

Just over five years ago, the U.S. Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011, which President Obama signed into law on August 2, 2011. The law represented an attempt to arrest the phenomenal spending growth that led to the explosion of the national debt during President Obama’s first two years in office. The...
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