The Beacon: Blog of Independent Institute

A Kind Word on Behalf of the Mexicans
Friday June 23, 2017 | Robert Higgs

“The immigration problem” or “the border problem” has been a heated topic of debate and politicking in recent years. (This recent spurt is only the most recent in a series that goes back for centuries in U.S. history.) In large part this debate pertains to the entry of Mexicans, especially undocumented Mexicans, into the...
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Review: Wonder Woman’s Anti-War Theme Elevates Superhero Action Film
Friday June 23, 2017 | Sam Staley

Wonder Woman is already one of the year’s most successful films just three weeks into its U.S. box office run, and for good reason: It’s a smart, well-executed action film. Despite acting that is just above average for superhero films—probably no Academy Award performances in this movie—the directing is top notch, special effects scaled to...
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Crowdsourced Redistricting
Wednesday June 21, 2017 | J. Huston McCulloch

Last Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a Wisconsin case that would overturn a highly gerrymandered State Assembly redistricting map that heavily favors Republicans. The Court plans to hear arguments next fall, and it is expected that it will be closely divided. (New York Times, “Justices Take up Gerrymandering Based on...
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Playing Offense: Defeating the Assault on Free Speech
Wednesday June 21, 2017 | Alvaro Vargas Llosa

We live in times of hypersensitivity. One way in which collectivism acts against individual freedom is by declaring morally reprehensible—and oftentimes prohibiting—what is deemed “offensive.” The expression “political correctness” has come to define this assault on free speech that hides behind the mask of respect for the sensibilities of others. Any attempt to deviate...
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“The Slants” Win on Free Speech
Tuesday June 20, 2017 | William Watkins

In Matal v. Tam, the Supreme Court handed down an important First Amendment decision. This case dealt with a band’s application for federal trademark registration of the band’s name, “The Slants.” The Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) denied the application based on 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), which prohibits the registration of trademarks that may “disparage ....
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Death by Government Housing (Policy)
Saturday June 17, 2017 | Mary Theroux

The AP reports that “grief turned to outrage” yesterday, as survivors of the London high-rise inferno learned that their government landlord’s “green” retrofitting of the building last year included the installation of exterior insulation panels that fueled the quick spread of fire from floor to floor. Survivors’ outrage is now directed at the current...
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Can Christians Serve in Bernie Sanders’s Amerika?
Friday June 9, 2017 | William Watkins

Bernie Sanders does not believe that orthodox Christians should be able to hold high office in the government of the United States. Sanders made this clear when voicing his opposition to confirmation of Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Sanders took umbrage at an op-ed...
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MyGovCost: Project of Independent Institute

California Expands Travel Ban Inequality
Friday June 23, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

California has added Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota to its travel ban. State attorney general Xavier Becerra made the announcement accompanied by representatives from the ACLU and Equality California, which apparently fancy themselves part of government. California’s AB1887, enacted last year, purports to ban state employees from travelling to states perceived to discriminate...
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California High-Speed Rail Rides No-Bid Gravy Train
Thursday June 22, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

California’s vaunted bullet train has yet to carry a single passenger but it has managed to make the news. As it turns out, the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority offered a contract extension of $3 million on a noncompetitive basis. In other words, it was a no-bid sweetheart deal. That emerged in a new report...
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Illinois Comptroller Tells Governor: “The State Can No Longer Function”
Thursday June 22, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

Illinois’ fiscal situation is getting worse. ZeroHedge summarizes the state’s rapidly deteriorating predicament: With just 10 days to go until Illinois enters its third year without a budget, resulting in the state’s imminent downgrade to junk status and potentially culminating in a default for the state whose unpaid bills now surpass $15 billion, Democratic...
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U.S. Forest Service Can’t Cut It
Wednesday June 21, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

“Budget cuts threaten forests’ roads, hunting, fishing,” headlines the piece by McClatchy reporter Anshu Siripurapu. Trails “could get messier,” and maintenance on bridges, dams and recreation sites “could” become tougher. “That’s the potential fate of national forest projects, thanks to President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018,” Siripurapu warns. The president seeks $100...
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Government Greedloaders Always Grab More
Tuesday June 20, 2017 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As we noted, Jerry Brown has jacked up gasoline taxes and fees by $5.2 billion, and the governor slams those less than worshipful of this hike as “freeloaders.” Brown is a big booster of “subsidiarity,” which means that bureaucrats can use tax money designated for needy school children to boost the salaries of bureaucrats...
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Eliminating Federal Government Waste: Phase 1
Monday June 19, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

What a difference a small change in personnel at the White House makes! Nearly two and a half years after becoming President, Barack Obama finally got around to signing an executive order to establish the “Campaign to Cut Government Waste“, which promised to impose new oversight and accountability aimed at reducing waste, fraud and...
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Illinois Headed for the Junk Heap
Thursday June 15, 2017 | Craig Eyermann

Over the last several weeks, we’ve been watching a very strange race to the bottom between two very fiscally-troubled states, Illinois and Connecticut, where the state government of each seems intent on becoming the first U.S. state to crash its credit rating all the way down to junk status. It looks like Illinois’ state...
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