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

Volume 8, Issue 5: January 30, 2006

  1. THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERTY
  2. A Different Guevara Advocates Liberty for Costa Ricans
  3. Hamas Victory Suggests That the U.S. Should Adopt a Lower Middle East Profile
  4. The State Lottery Scam

1) THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERTY

Nearly four decades after the death of Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-67), the Latin American revolutionary's legend has grown worldwide, spreading from the hard political left to masses of consumers who have made Che tee-shirts a staple of the "radical chic" wardrobe.

In his new book THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERTY, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa (director, Center on Global Prosperity) separates the myth from the reality, showing that Guevara's "idealism" enabled him to rationalize not only bad economic policies and the brutal prohibition of out-migration, but also the execution of hundreds of political prisoners without trial. (Vargas Llosa quotes, to chilling effect, interviews with former colleagues of Guevara supporting this claim.)

After debunking the Che Guevara myth, Vargas Llosa examines the failure of Latin America's reforms of the 1990s. Finally, he calls for genuine reformers to replace Latin America's long-lived statism with the individualist elements of its tradition. For example, Juan Bautista Alberdi of 19th century Argentina -- who helped depose a tyrant and introduced his country to the ideas of constitutionalism, open trade, greater immigration, and secure property rights -- helped bring his country decades of growing prosperity. He opposed his country's war with neighboring Paraguay, and, unlike Che Guevara, he never hurt a fly.

To purchase THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERTY, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, see http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=61

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/

Spanish-language Blog:
El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute
http://independent.typepad.com/

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2) A Different Guevara Advocates Liberty for Costa Ricans

Although not expected to win the presidency in Sunday's elections, Costa Rica's Partido Movimiento Libertario (Libertarian Movement Party) is poised to win 12 seats out of 57 in the country's legislature. Its presidential candidate -- party co-founder Otto Guevara, who was elected to Congress in 1998 -- will easily win third place, beating out several older political parties. Not bad for a pro-freedom political party founded only twelve years ago.

The gains that Movimiento Libertario has so far enjoyed show three things, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity.

"First, it indicates that the classical liberal tradition has some potential for making a connection with the populace, because of its critique of established parties and traditional politicians -- a stand very much in vogue in the developing world.... Second, the Costa Rica experience shows principle is not necessarily a lost cause in politics." Finally, the eight years of solid growth of Otto Guevara's Movimiento Libertario suggests that "practical politics, can, in the right circumstances, become a catalyst for cultural change."

See "A Libertarian Dream Story," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (1/27/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1659
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"Un Sueno Libertario"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1659

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/

Spanish-language Blog:
El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute
http://independent.typepad.com/

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3) Hamas Victory Suggests That the U.S. Should Adopt a Lower Middle East Profile

Last week's election of the militant Islamic group Hamas, over the secular Fatah party, demonstrates the folly of unqualified pro-democracy rhetoric that has emanated from Washington, D.C. in recent years. It also demonstrates the downside of the U.S. government's attempt to buy public support for Fatah: The pre-election exposure of the Bush administration's recent aid to Fatah -- intended to help swing the election in favor of Fatah -- contributed to Hamas's electoral victory, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty.

Although circumstances may pressure the leaders of Hamas and Israel to become more conciliatory than their rhetoric has suggested, the region's contentious waters will likely be very difficult for the U.S. to navigate. Thus, Eland cautions U.S. leaders not to enter the fray.

"Stop coercing and threatening autocratic governments in order to promote democracy, and take a lower profile in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute," Eland writes. "When the Israelis and Palestinians are truly ready for genuine negotiations, which neither party is currently and may not be for quite some time, the United States could act as a neutral mediator -- rather than a guarantor -- of a settlement. In the meantime, President Bush should follow his natural instinct and lie low."

See "Political Earthquake in Palestine," by Ivan Eland (1/27/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1660
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"Terremoto político en Palestina"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1660

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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4) The State Lottery Scam

State lotteries made a comeback in the 1960s, with proponents claiming they would resolve budget shortfalls, improve public education, and reduce illegal gambling. Illinois adopted its lottery in 1973 -- first on the promise that it would shore up the state's General Revenue Fund and curb illegal gambling, then later on the promise that lottery receipts would be used specifically for education.

But none of these three objectives have been met, according to accounting professor Donald W. Gribbin and historian Jonathan J. Bean of Southern Illinois University in their recent study for THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW (“Adoption of State Lotteries in the United States, with a Closer Look at Illinois," Spring 2006).

First, net lottery receipts have ranged from 0.36 percent to 4.20 percent -- hardly a significant portion of the state's General Revenue Fund. Second, the state lottery did not put an end to illegal gambling in the Windy City. (Indeed, a 1988 study estimated that the state lottery lost about $200 million a year in potential revenues to illegal lotteries, and a 1989 study estimated that organized crime netted up to $100,000 for each electronic gambling machine in forty Chicago bars and restaurants.) Finally, even though Illinois lottery receipts must go to the state's Common School Fund, "analysis of financial data indicates that earmarking did not increase education funding, but simply diverted funds to other uses," write Gribbin and Bean.

Although the Illinois state lottery has not achieved its public goals, it did help advance one unannounced goal -- diverted lottery revenue helped save Chicago's faltering Regional Transit Authority. But because taxpayers outside of Chicago would not have embraced this objective, Gribbin and Bean conclude that the CHICAGO TRIBUNE was prophetic when it warned, in the early 1970s, that a lottery would enable legislators to avoid taking responsibility for state and local fiscal woes.

See "Adoption of State Lotteries in the United States, with a Closer Look at Illinois," by Donald W. Gribbin and Jonathan J. Bean (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Winter 2006)
http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=44&articleID=559

Subscribe to THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW
http://www.independent.org/store/tir/subscriptions.asp

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