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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 7, Issue 47: November 21, 2005

  1. Bosnia No Model for Iraqi Nation-Building
  2. France's Riots and the Welfare State
  3. Cultural Protectionism at the U.N.
  4. The Frankenfood Myth? Featuring Henry Miller and Bruce Ames, Dec. 13, 2005

1) Bosnia No Model for Iraqi Nation-Building

When it comes to U.S. nation-building efforts, Bosnia is nothing to brag about. Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department is using the tenth anniversary of the Dayton accords to suggest that Bosnia's constitution needs only minor fine-tuning to achieve an ideal outcome, just as nation-building in Iraq needs supposedly only a few minor constitutional quick fixes to become a success.

But the true parallels between Bosnia and Iraq are not ones the Bush administration would wish to publicize. Both countries are so internally divided that a civil war would likely ensue without outside intervention, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.

Nor has U.S. aid to those countries resurrected their economies: "For example, the U.S. dumped billions of dollars into the reconstruction of the Bosnian economy and slathered U.S. taxpayer money on Iraq," writes Eland. "Bosnia is certainly not an example of government-driven post-war economic recovery, and prospects for the same in Iraq are equally dismal.... The only thing that can be said for the Dayton accords is that they have stopped the fighting in Bosnia for a time."

Eland concludes that policy-makers have failed to learn the real lesson of Bosnia, which is "that the creation of a peaceful multiethnic state with a strong central government is a dangerous mirage."

In both Bosnia and Iraq, "the United States should stop its risky attempts to create a strong national government and allow genuine self-determination," writes Eland. "In Iraq, this might take the form of a loose confederation or partition, with a sharing of petroleum revenues or oil fields to entice Sunni participation. "        

See "The Failure of Nation-Building in Bosnia and Iraq," by Ivan Eland (11/22/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1620

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=54

To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=19

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

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2) France's Riots and the Welfare State

The burning of 6,000 cars in 300 towns has forced France's leaders to look deeply for the causes that gave rise to their country's recent riots. Unfortunately, few politicians or pundits have focused on how the welfare state has acted against the advancement of France's underclass, particularly those from its North African immigrant community. Instead, French policy-makers, having shown little aptitude for fostering private-sector job growth, have proposed to aggressively bring immigrants into the country's non-productive government sector, with its generous (and economically draining) perks and entitlements, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity.

"The government has announced that assistance to struggling young students will be increased five-fold and that 100,000 second-generation immigrants will get government jobs without going through the competitive process," writes Vargas Llosa. "These solutions are exactly the cause of the problem -- the welfare state."

Rather than reward immigrants with non-productive government jobs, French policy-makers should encourage their entry into the private sector -- by removing the regulatory barriers to private job creation, as France did half a century ago.

"Although government reform only went halfway [back then], the results were spectacular and France's unemployment stood at a mere one percent for years," Vargas Llosa continues. "Like Germany's Ludwig Erhard, [pro-reform French economist Jacques] Rueff was not quite a classical liberal, but he understood the welfare state was a danger to European prosperity. France desperately needs to bring that man back to life."

"France's Flames," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (11/18/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1618
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1618

For information about LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five-Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=55

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/cogp/

 

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3) Cultural Protectionism at the U.N.

Last month members of the United Nations overwhelmingly approved the preliminary draft of the Convention on Cultural Diversity (CCD), a legal agreement that supports national policies that countries might deem "appropriate for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions on their territory." Only the United States and Israel dissented.

Although the Convention is ostensibly intended to help minority cultures remain vibrant, it could also harm consumers who wish to consume more cultural goods and services of the sort that their governments wish to discourage, argues Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy in a recent op-ed. French officials, for example, might invoke the accord when enacting new subsidies, tariffs, and other trade barriers to protect its film industry from having to compete with Hollywood. (The French cinema already receives significant taxpayer subsidies and preferential tax treatment, as Jacques Delacroix and Julien Bornon have argued in THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW.)

"For several reasons, the CCD may well be unenforceable," writes McElroy in her op-ed. "But any attempt at government control can only harm what the CCD purports to protect: diversity and freedom of expression. Those goals exist only when individuals are free to embrace the culture they prefer -- when they have choice. And the best thing government can do is get out of the way."

See "Preserving Culture, or Curtailing Freedom?" by Wendy McElroy (11/2/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1619

Also see:

"Can Protectionism Ever Be Respectable? A Skeptic's Case for the Cultural Exception, with Special Reference to French Movies," by Jacques Delacroix with Julien Bornon (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Winter 2005)
http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=40&articleID=501

"Globalization and Cultural Diversity: Friends or Foes?" An Independent Policy Forum transcript and audio file featuring Tyler Cowen (5/27/03)
http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=3

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4) The Frankenfood Myth? Featuring Henry Miller and Bruce Ames, Dec. 13, 2005

"THE FRANKENFOOD MYTH? Politics and Protests of the Biotech Revolution" -- Henry Miller and Bruce Ames to Address the Next Independent Policy Forum (12/13/05)
http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=113

For millennia, farmers all over the world have bred crops for their resistance to disease, productivity, and nutritional value. Over the past century, scientists have used increasingly more sophisticated methods for modifying crops at the genetic level. But only since the 1970s have advances in gene-splicing and other aspects of biotechnology upped the ante with the promise of dramatically improved agricultural products. Today, few topics have the power to inspire as much international furor and misinformation as the development and distribution of genetically altered foods. Is public resistance far out of synch with the potential risks? Please join us as HENRY I. MILLER, co-author of the new book THE FRANKENFOOD MYTH, and BRUCE AMES, U.C. Berkeley professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, address this critical 21st century issue.

SPEAKERS:

-- Henry I. Miller, M.S., M.D., is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-author (with Gregory Conko) of THE FRANKENFOOD MYTH: How Protest and Politics Threatens the Biotech Revolution. Miller joined the Food and Drug Administration in 1979 and served in a number of posts involved with the new biotechnology. He was the medical reviewer for the first genetically engineered drugs evaluated by the FDA and was instrumental in the rapid licensing of human insulin and human growth hormone. He served in several posts, including special assistant to the FDA commissioner, with responsibility for biotechnology issues; from 1989 to 1994, he was the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology.

-- Bruce Ames, Ph.D., is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and a Senior Scientist at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute. He is the inventor of the Ames test, a system for easily and cheaply testing the mutagenicity of compounds. His research on cancer and aging, including more than 500 publications, have resulted in his being among the few hundred most-cited scientists in all fields. Dr. Ames's research focuses on identifying mutagenic agents that damage human DNA and the defenses against them. He is also working to elucidate the consequences of DNA damage for cancer and aging.

WHEN:
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Reception and book signing: 6:30 p.m.
Program: 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

WHERE:

The Independent Institute Conference Center
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
For a map and directions, see
http://www.independent.org/aboutus/map.asp

TICKETS: $15 per person ($10 for Independent Institute Members). Special Offer: Admission and a copy THE FRANKENFOOD MYTH: $47 ($42 for members) -- a 22% savings on the book. Reserve tickets by calling (510) 632-1366 or ordering online at
http://www.independent.org/store/events/event_detail.asp?eventID=113.

Praise for the book, THE FRANKENFOOD MYTH: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution, by Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko:

“The authors show how foolish policies -- premised on junk science, media sensationalism and the mixed motives of bureaucrats and corporations -- are choking off a wonder-technology.”
--WALL STREET JOURNAL

“Misguided public policies have seriously restricted research on, and application of, genetic engineering in agriculture. Miller and Conko's call for policies based on realistic risk-benefit considerations needs to be heard loudly by those responsible for the present fiasco.”
--PAUL D. BOYER, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, UCLA

“The heated debate over so-called Frankenfoods is not only about the pros and cons of genetically manipulating crops to improve their nutritional value and resistance to disease; it also concerns intellectual honesty.”
--BARRON'S

For more information about this event, see
http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=113

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