The Beacon: Blog of Independent Institute

We Should Pay Teachers More
Wednesday December 7, 2016 | Randall Holcombe

I’ve heard the argument many times: teachers should be paid more. According to the slightly out-of-date figures on the NEA website, the average starting pay for teachers in the 2012-13 school year was $36,141. At least part of the argument is that we could have a better educational system if we paid teachers more....
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Cuba, What Next?
Wednesday December 7, 2016 | Alvaro Vargas Llosa

One would think there is no doubt in anybody’s mind about Fidel Castro’s horrific legacy. And yet we have heard important leaders say some outrageous things. What is Castro’s real political legacy? The last free election in Cuba was in 1948; Fidel Castro turned the island into a more ruthless police state than the...
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Trump’s Tactic Is Certain to Create “Regime Uncertainty”
Tuesday December 6, 2016 | Robert Higgs

President-elect Donald Trump’s so-called Carrier deal, which seems to amount to a threatening conversation he had with Carrier’s managers, combined with some tax concessions by the state of Indiana, exemplifies the approach he has more or less announced he will take in dealing with U.S. companies that propose to move operations abroad. He threatens...
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Ben Carson and the Future of Cities
Monday December 5, 2016 | Sam Staley

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped neurosurgeon Ben Carson to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While pundits are focused on their primary feuds, a more important question is whether HUD’s mission will change under Carson’s tenure. On the surface, Carson’s appointment might seem to be a simple patronage job, a reward...
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Castro’s Death and Cuban Health Care
Monday December 5, 2016 | John R. Graham

The recent death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro brought forth a grotesque encomium from the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who asserted, “Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.” Michael Moore, producer of propaganda dressed as documentaries, made a film in 2007 called Sicko, in which he...
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Introduction to Public Choice
Friday December 2, 2016 | Randall Holcombe

Public choice uses economic methods to analyze political decision-making. Too often, both “policy experts” and the general public perceive problems and conclude that the government should do something about them, without evaluating whether government intervention could actually make things better. Public choice examines how the political process actually works rather than relying on a...
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Free to Burn the Flag
Thursday December 1, 2016 | Abigail R. Hall Blanco

My grandfather retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force. As such, he was given a full military funeral upon his death. I remember that day better than most. It was bitterly cold and had rained non-stop for several days. I remember thinking that the men shooting during the “21 gun...
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MyGovCost: Project of Independent Institute

California’s Growing Public Pension Crisis
Thursday December 8, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

The Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy at Stanford University has a project that tracks the liabilities of pension funds for state government workers across the nation, where the liabilities represent the gap between the money that the pension funds hold and how much they would need in order to pay 100 percent...
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Dysfunctional HUD Is a Bust under Any Boss
Wednesday December 7, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Representative Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, charges that Ben Carson is “woefully unqualified” to lead the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and even some of Carson’s supporters cite his lack of experience. For his part, Carson believes he can make a “significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities in need” and “ensuring that our...
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Tis the Season for Tax Sticker Shock Abuse
Tuesday December 6, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Property tax bills showed up back in October in envelopes reading: TAX BILL – OPEN IMMEDIATELY. Note the light touch, sort of like “hand over the wallet, Jack!” This year, many taxpayers will have to dig deeper in their wallet, but not because California’s county governments are providing them more and better services. The...
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California Is a Sanctuary for Bad Government
Monday December 5, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Sanctuary cities decline to enforce U.S. immigration laws and comply with federal customs and immigration enforcement. President-elect Donald Trump’s crusade against sanctuary cities is supposed to be a blow against criminals, but as Chriss W. Street of Breitbart shows, California could suffer serious consequences. There are some 300 sanctuary cities and counties nationwide and...
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How to Fix Runs on Government Pensions
Monday December 5, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

For years now, many high-ranking state and local government officials around the United States have been exceptionally generous in promising and providing big pensions to the police, firefighters, and civilian government employees in return for their their political activism and support in their communities. At the same time, they have been counting on getting...
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Federal Fumbles
Saturday December 3, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

It’s a list that none of us wanted to see, but thanks to the wasteful spending of the federal government, one that has been dutifully assembled by U.S. Senator James Lankford: Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball, Vol. 2. Like its predecessors, U.S. Senator Jeff Flake’s Wastebook (formerly produced by James...
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New Ruling Routs Government Raisin Ransacking
Friday December 2, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

The United States government has deployed central planning through schemes such as the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. Authorized by Congress during the New Deal, the Act set up cooperative boards and conscripted growers into reserve set-asides. As we noted, in recent years the government targeted raisins in California. In 2003, Fresno raisin...
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