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

Volume 8, Issue 47: November 20, 2006

  1. Remembering Milton Friedman
  2. U.S. in Iraq: "Cut and Run" vs. "Stay and Pray"
  3. Food Safety and Personal Choice
  4. Alvaro Vargas Llosa Wins Juan Bautista Alberdi Award

1) Remembering Milton Friedman

Nobel-laureate economist Milton Friedman, who passed away last Thursday, left a huge imprint on the economics profession. His scientific contributions spanned a wide range of subjects, including price theory, economic methodology, statistics, and especially monetary theory and history. Yet as great as those contributions were, he will be most remembered for his work as a passionate advocate of individual liberty. As a public intellectual he set a new standard. He will be remembered for helping to abolish the military draft, pushing for the abolition of price controls, and championing the decriminalization of victimless crimes.

"Friedman was brilliant, creative, resilient, and effective," writes Independent Institute President David J. Theroux. "To recognize the enormous contributions of this man, I had the distinct pleasure and privilege to organize the gala National Dinner to Honor Milton Friedman on October 4, 1983, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, at which then struggling actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been inspired by the 'Free to Choose' TV series, first met Friedman in person.... In his career, including the thirty years that I had the pleasure of knowing him, he was a champion who sought to facilitate greater opportunity for all, especially those most in need. In economics, education, finance, business, civil liberties, welfare, and a host of other areas, he has left a powerful legacy for the benefit of humanity."

"Great economist by day and crusading public intellectual by night, Milton Friedman was my hero," writes Independent Institute Research Director Alexander Tabarrok. "Even today, chills run down my spine whenever I read the slashing opening to CAPITALISM AND FREEDOM." That passage reads: "President Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.' Neither half of that statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society." "Damn right," continues Tabarrok. "He will be missed."

See "Milton Friedman (1912-2006)," by David J. Theroux (11/18/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1853

"The Legacy of Milton Friedman," by Alexander Tabarrok (11/18/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1852

Timothy E. Bresnahan reviews TWO LUCKY PEOPLE: Memoirs, by Milton and Rose D. Friedman (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Winter 1999)
http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=27&articleID=336

"Five Market-Friendly Nobelists: Friedman, Stigler, Buchanan, Coase, and Becker," by Charles K. Rowley (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Winter 1999)
http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=27&articleID=333

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2) U.S. in Iraq: "Cut and Run" vs. "Stay and Pray"

U.S. Army General John Abizaid told a Senate committee last week that sending more troops to Iraq would provoke more violence and that current troop levels were at just the right amount. Abizaid's testimony is a further indication that the administration's approach in Iraq won't change much, according Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty. Unfortunately, "staying the course" would be a mistake, Eland argues, because the violence in Iraq will likely worsen whether the U.S. "cuts and runs" or "stays and prays."

"Cutting our losses and withdrawing before many more young Americans are killed or wounded is the smartest course," Eland writes in his latest op-ed.

He continues: "But what about the Iraqis who are left to deal with the chaos that the U.S. invasion and occupation has created? To give Iraqis the best chance of ending the violence and recovering from the war, a U.S. timetable for withdrawal should be combined with a formal partition of the country. At this point, Iraq is already essentially partitioned--with militias providing local security in many areas.... Codifying the existing partition and decentralizing the Iraqi government would reduce the Shi'ite/Sunni violence, because each group fears that the other group would use the national government apparatus to oppress it.... Thus, the Democratic proposal for withdrawal, coupled with a partition, is the best hope for Iraq."

"Troop Withdrawal and Partition is Best Hope for Iraq," by Ivan Eland (11/20/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1854

"El retiro de tropas y la partición son la mejor esperanza para Irak"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1854

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

"The Way Out of Iraq: Decentralizing the Iraqi Government," by Ivan Eland
http://www.independent.org/store/policy_reports/detail.asp?id=16

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

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3) Food Safety and Personal Choice

"Food is the new political chic; eating is the new morality," writes Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy in a recent op-ed. "Unhappily, this trend is why I think trans fats bans are likely to succeed In North America."

Efforts to ban trans fats from restaurant food raise questions about the role that science should play in regulating personal choices. Such questions may be more difficult than they appear because the findings of many, indeed most, clinical health studies are not corroborated by subsequent research, according to McElroy.

An article published in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False," by Dr. John P. A. Ioannina, reviewed scores of important clinical research studies published between 1999 and 2003 -- studies published in top journals and cited at least 1000 times. The review found that 32 percent of the studies were later refuted and 44 percent could not be validated.

This isn't to cast aspersion on every truth claim, of course, but it does suggest that a study first be corroborated independently (perhaps several times) before it is offered as a scientific truth on which to base public policy. It also reminds us that many public-policy issues cannot be settled by appeal to scientific authority. Of paramount importance for such issues is whether individuals are sovereign in regard to matters of personal choice, and, if so, whether the law should recognize this sovereignty.

"Should Government Regulate What We Eat?," by Wendy McElroy (10/24/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1846

"¿Debería el gobierno reglamentar lo que comemos?"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1846

"Why Most Published Research Findings Are False," by John P. A. Ioannina
http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

"The Frankenfood Myth?," featuring Henry I. Miller and Bruce N. Ames (12/13/05)
http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=113

"Public Health vs. The Nanny State?," featuring Jacob Sullum and Thomas J. DiLorenzo (10/26/00)
http://www.independent.org/events/transcript.asp?eventID=25

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4) Alvaro Vargas Llosa Wins Juan Bautista Alberdi Award

We are pleased to announce that on November 8, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute, was presented with the First Annual Juan Bautista Alberdi Award, from the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research (HACER).

The prize was developed to encourage and reward writers, essayists and commentators whose published works promote the institutions of a free society in the Americas: limited government, rule of law fostered by an independent judiciary, protection of private property, free markets, free speech, and sound science.

HACER’s Alberdi Award was inspired by the 19th-century Argentinean intellectual Juan Bautista Alberdi. He will be remembered in the Americas as a champion of freedom for his contributions to the defense of liberty and for outlining the Argentinean constitution in 1853.

Mr. Alvaro Vargas Llosa is the author of LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA and THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH. His column for the Washington Post Writers Group is carried regularly by about forty newspapers worldwide.

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

THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=61

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

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

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