The Beacon: Blog of Independent Institute

Both Presidential Candidates Fail Econ 101
Thursday September 29, 2016 | Abigail R. Hall Blanco

This week we saw the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Despite knowing better, I watched the whole thing. For over 90 minutes I watched as the two candidates went back and forth, offering generic, unclear policy prescriptions, took jabs at one another, and offered unnecessary personal...
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Mises, Military, and Market
Thursday September 29, 2016 | Robert Murphy

September 29 is the birthday of Ludwig von Mises, one of the giants of the Austrian School of economics. In my book Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action, I distill the work of Mises as presented in his masterpiece, Human Action. Elsewhere I have summarized his contributions to economic science, so in the present...
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Ban Guns, Come Hell or High Water
Tuesday September 27, 2016 | Sam Staley

I didn’t fully recognize the remarkably pervasive anti-gun statement embedded in the well-received film Hell or High Water until my morning jog the following day. The message is so subtle, so nuanced, and so expertly executed, this movie could be used as a textbook case for how narrative filmmaking can promote policy positions. And...
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One Solution to the EpiPen Crisis: Repeal Durham-Humphrey!
Tuesday September 27, 2016 | John R. Graham

Posturing politicians on Capitol Hill conducted a hearing a few days ago during which they grilled Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan N.V., maker of EpiPens. Prices of EpiPens have skyrocketed in the past few years (which I have discussed here and here). The politicians were more interested in wagging their fingers and tut-tutting at...
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Specialization and Free Trade Enhance Our Productivity—It’s Just That Simple
Friday September 23, 2016 | Robert Higgs

In most cases people recognize that increasing productivity is a good thing. If we develop new technologies or make organizational changes that allow us to produce more output with the same inputs, we celebrate. If people acquire education or experience that allows them to produce more with their human capital, we regard this payoff...
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Why Michael Bloomberg’s Pro-Soda-Tax Ad Is Misleading
Thursday September 22, 2016 | Lawrence J. McQuillan

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is helping to bankroll a television-commercial campaign in favor of proposed soda taxes in Oakland and San Francisco, known as Measure HH and Proposition V, respectively, both of which will appear on the November ballot. You can’t miss the commercial if you live in the Bay Area,...
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Snowden Spotlights Dangers of Privacy-Security Trade-Off
Thursday September 22, 2016 | Sam Staley

Few figures have been as polarizing as Edward Snowden, the intelligence-agency computer contractor turned whistleblower who leaked national security files to the press and raised global awareness about the breadth of U.S. government spying. Snowden has been in effective exile since 2013, when the government revoked his passport and started pressuring Russia to extradite...
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MyGovCost: Project of Independent Institute

TSA Employees a Threat to the Flying Public?
Friday September 30, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

Last July, members of the U.S. House of Representative Homeland Security Committee released a report with the disturbing title “MISCONDUCT AT TSA THREATENS THE SECURITY OF THE FLYING PUBLIC“. Here are some disturbing excerpts from the report’s introduction: TSA data shows that misconduct has grown over time—both before and after a watchdog investigation. For...
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Luddite Legislators Keep Court Costs High
Tuesday September 27, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

The California Court Reporters Association (CCRA) has introduced legislation, AB 2629, that would raise court reporters’ fees for producing transcripts of trials. CCRA president Brooke Ryan believes this raise is long overdue, but she ignores key issues of interest to taxpayers. Court reporters are highly paid government employees and according to, their average...
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Updates to 2016 Presidential Candidates Budget Proposals
Monday September 26, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

As we’re on the cusp of the first debate between the two major candidates for U.S. President in 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, it’s a good time to consider how each candidate’s proposals for spending and taxes would affect the fiscal future of the U.S. government, and by extension, U.S. taxpayers....
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VA Deploys Golden Parachutes for Badly Behaving Bureaucrats
Thursday September 22, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would make it easier for managers at the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs to fire the employees and supervisors at the VA who have engaged in misconduct by a vote of 310 to 116. The House voted 310-116 Wednesday to arm the Department...
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Tax Limitation Measure Still Under Attack
Wednesday September 21, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

California’s Legislative Analyst has released Common Claims About Proposition 13, the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation 65 percent of California voters approved in 1978. The LAO examines whether Proposition 13 stabilizes property taxes, discourages new business creation, increases home ownership, and so forth. Prop 13 opponents, primarily government ruling-class types, claim it reduces...
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Education Fat Cats No Joke for Taxpayers
Monday September 19, 2016 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Chris Evans, superintendent of the Natomas Unified School District, bears a strong resemblance to the late Chris Farley of “Saturday Night Live,” but for students, parents and taxpayers, Evans’ latest happy meal is no joke. As Diana Lambert notes in the Sacramento Bee, the district’s board just boosted Evans’ pay by $46,130, a raise...
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U.S. National Debt Grows Past $19.5 Trillion
Monday September 19, 2016 | Craig Eyermann

Visual Capitalist Jeff Desjardins has a new take on how to visualize the sheer size of the U.S. government’s $19.5 trillion total public debt outstanding. In the chart below, you’ll discover that: The U.S. national debt is bigger than the value of the S&P 500. The U.S. national debt is greater than the combined...
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