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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 15, Issue 51: December 17, 2013

  1. From Obamacare to Marx
  2. Halbrook on Nazi Gun Control
  3. Federal Regulators Threaten to End America’s Energy Boom
  4. Avoiding War with China
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts


1) From Obamacare to Marx

President Barack Obama claims his opponents have offered no alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Not so, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman, whose plan, he writes, “empowers patients, allows real competition, and minimizes the role of government in the medical marketplace.” It’s based on six core principles: choice, fairness, universality, portability, patient power, and real insurance. Unfortunately, congressional Republicans have backed away from one of its most appealing components: giving households tax credits to buy health insurance.

Such a measure would raise the money income of an average family by $12,000, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham. So, why would the administration’s adversaries back away from a proposal that offers significant savings to middle class families? Cowardice. “The Republicans’ political risk-aversion is a consequence of Obamacare causing millions of people to lose their health benefits,” Graham writes in The Beacon. “This has pushed [Republican lawmakers] back into a corner, prompting them to defend the tax discrimination that favors employer-based benefits and to oppose individual tax credits.” This is especially disheartening because the idea of ending the tax bias in favor of employer-based health insurance had significant support when Sen. John McCain promoted it during his 2008 bid for the White House.

Getting back to President Obama’s “signature legislative achievement,” Independent Institute Communications Counsel K. Lloyd Billingsley, writing in American Thinker, argues that “Obamacare follows a principle beloved of Karl Marx and other socialist founding fathers: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” But although the president is making good on the “from each” clause, he fails in regard to the “to each” clause: Millions who thought their insurance policies met their needs have been dropped by their insurers, and millions more will follow. Thus, Obamacare “violates the principal precept of medical ethics: primum non nocere or ‘first do no harm,’ also known as non-maleficience.”

A Conservative Alternative to Obamacare, by John C. Goodman (Dallas News, 12/9/13)

Oh No! The Republicans Are Going to Tax Your Health Benefits!, John R. Graham (The Beacon, 12/12/13)

The Affordable Care Act First Does Harm, Period, by K. Lloyd Billingsley (American Thinker, 12/13/13)

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman

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2) Halbrook on Nazi Gun Control

Countless books about Nazi Germany populate the world’s bookstores and libraries. But not until recently had anyone written about gun laws in the Third Reich. This is especially odd because Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) had mentioned them when gun registration bills were proposed in Congress—way back in 1968! The absence of works on this critical topic inspired Independent Institute Research Fellow Stephen P. Halbrook to write Gun Control in the Third Reich—his fourth book published by the Independent Institute. (The others are The Founders’ Second Amendment, Securing Civil Rights, and That Every Man Be Armed.)

“The proponents of [gun registration legislation in the late 1960s] said they actually had commissioned a Library of Congress study saying there was no use of gun registration lists by the Nazis, either in Germany or in occupied countries, which was blatantly stupid,” Halbrook recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “When (the Nazis) took power in 1933, they immediately used the (gun registration) records to disarm political enemies.”

Halbrook, whose book examines the lead up to the bloody November 1938 raid on Jewish homes and businesses known as Kristallnacht, agrees that his book can be seen as a cautionary tale. “I’m not saying that proponents of these restrictions (today) are Nazis or anything like Nazis,” he says. “But don’t tell me that gun control is always progressive and that all good results come from it, and that governments of all kind should always be trusted, or that guns should only be in the hands of the police or military. All of those clichés, I think, are refuted by this history. I think it supports our traditional Second Amendment rights in the United States.”

The Day the Holocaust Began: An Interview with Stephen Halbrook (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 12/7/13)

Gun Controls: Are You “Reliable”? Edward Cline reviews Stephen Halbrook’s Gun Control in the Third Reich (Family Security Matters, 12/12/13)

Video: Stephen P. Halbrook on CBN (11/21/13)

Video: Stephen P. Halbrook on NRA News Television (11/1/13)

Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State” by Stephen P. Halbrook

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3) Federal Regulators Threaten to End America’s Energy Boom

The United States has been enjoying a boom in shale production, saving households an estimated $1,200 per year in energy costs. The sources of the bonanza are two-fold: the discovery of huge deposits in Utah and other western states, and the development of new extraction methods—namely, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Despite objections from environmentalists, fracking has a great safety record, with not a single case of groundwater contamination, according to William F. Shughart II, research director of the Independent Institute.

Ninety-eight percent of fracking is done on public lands regulated by state agencies, but the federal Bureau of Land Management is proposing to impose new regulations. Although these would apply to federal and Indian lands, where little fracking is done, Shughart fears they could form the basis for the federal regulation of fracking on private lands. But even if that doesn’t occur, federal regulation will harm energy production.

“Duplicative federal regulations,” Shughart writes in The Hill, “will raise compliance costs, which means oil and gas projects being abandoned, thousands of jobs lost, less government revenue, more public debt, less money available for building roads, ports and schools, higher oil and natural gas prices, and heavier dependence on the Middle East.”

Danger of Overregulating Fracking, by William F. Shughart II (The Hill, 12/10/13)

Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination, edited by William F. Shughart II

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4) Avoiding War with China

Will island disputes in East Asia pull the United States into a nuclear war? It’s frightening to contemplate, but entirely possible, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland notes in his latest piece in the Huffington Post. China’s recent claim of a security zone extending above what Japan calls the Senkakus, for example, was met by a flight of two American B-52 bombers through the contested air space. Washington says it’s neutral in the dispute, but that may not be how Beijing sees it, given an official U.S. security agreement to defend Japan that goes back to the early years of the Cold War. Many Americans may be unaware of the risk entailed by this treaty or similar ones with the Philippines and South Korea. (The U.S. alliance with Taiwan, although informal, could also pull the United States into a major war.)

“Unbeknownst to most Americans, those outdated alliances left over from the Cold War implicitly still commit the United States to sacrifice Seattle or Los Angeles to save Manila, Tokyo, Seoul, or Taipei, should one of these countries get into a shooting war with China,” Eland writes. Such tradeoffs were dubious during the Cold War, and make even less sense today.

One myth that promotes military conflict, Eland argues, is the notion that it’s necessary to govern a territory in order to access its natural resources—be they fisheries or oil and gas reserves. Eland’s 2011 book, No War for Oil, explains why, contrary to prevailing belief, oil is not a “strategic” commodity that economically justifies military adventurism. “In fact, instead of using such power to attempt to commandeer oil the way the old-style imperialists did, it is cheaper to merely buy the oil in the worldwide marketplace.”

Stay Out of Petty Island Disputes in East Asia, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 12/10/13)

No War for Oil: U.S. Dependency and the Middle East, by Ivan Eland

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

Police Claim Teen Shot Himself in Head—While Handcuffed Behind Back
Anthony Gregory (12/16/13)

FBI Successfully Foils Another FBI Plot
Mary Theroux (12/14/13)

Oh No! The Republicans Are Going to Tax Your Health Benefits!
John R. Graham (12/12/13)

PISA Results Show We’re a World Leader . . . in Spending, Not Performance
Vicki Alger (12/12/13)

Eliminate Long-Term Unemployment Compensation
Randall Holcombe (12/12/2013)

Are We About to Face a Severe Doctor Shortage?
John C. Goodman (12/12/13)

“Job Lock” from Employer-Based Health Benefits: What Should Government Do?
John R. Graham (12/10/13)

It’s Official: The Top 40% of Income Earners Pay More Than 100% of Federal Income Taxes
Randall Holcombe (12/10/13)

What Paul Krugman Can Learn from Milton Friedman
John C. Goodman (12/10/13)

You Didn’t Build That Business, and You Don’t Run It, Either
Mary Theroux (12/10/13)

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

The Waste Inherent in the System, Continued
K. Lloyd Billingsley (12/16/13)

Fine Idea to Save Obamacare?
K. Lloyd Billingsley (12/12/13)

A Two-Year Budget Deal
Craig Eyermann (12/11/13)

Feds Lose $10.5 Billion on Government Motors
K. Lloyd Billingsley (12/10/13)

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website here and blog here.

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6) Selected News Alerts

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