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The Lighthouse


The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 16, Issue 52: December 30, 2014

  1. Remembering the Christmas Truce
  2. Obama’s Immigration Decree a Victory for Economic Growth?
  3. Health Reform and the New Congress
  4. The Independent Review—Winter 2015 Issue Now Available (eSubscriptions, Too!)
  5. Last Call to Double Your Impact for Students!
  6. New Blog Posts
  7. Selected News Alerts



1) Remembering the Christmas Truce

June 28 marked the 100th anniversary of what Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland called “the most important event in the 20th century”: the assassination that ignited World War I, or as Eland called it, The World War: Part I. This month marks a related centennial: the anniversary of the war’s Christmas Truce. Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy tells the story at Reason.

In this excerpt, McElroy conveys why the night of December 24, 1914, was so special: “Some officers threatened to court-martial or even to shoot those who fraternized, but the threats were generally ignored,” she writes. “Other officers mingled with enemies of similar rank. The Germans reportedly led the way, coming out of their trenches and moving unarmed toward the British. Soldiers exchanged chocolates, cigars, and compared news reports. They buried the dead, some of whom had lain for months, with each side often helping the other dig graves. At its height, unofficial ceasefires were estimated to have occurred along half of the British line. As many as 100,000 British and German troops took part.”

The Christmas Truce offers multiple lessons—about civility, humanity, and faith, on the one hand, and about propaganda, war, and the state, on the other. But perhaps most of all, it offers a glimpse of what living on earth could be like if cooler heads and warmer hearts prevailed. As Independent Institute Senior Vice President Mary L. G. Theroux writes in The Beacon: “How nice it would be if on this 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce, and the 2,014th anniversary of the birth of Christ, we would defy those who call us to hate one another, and pay heed to Him who commanded us to Love one another.”

The Christmas Truce of World War I, by Wendy McElroy (Reason, 12/24/14)

The 100th Anniversary of the Christmas Truce, by Mary Theroux (The Beacon, 12/24/14)

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2) Obama’s Immigration Decree a Victory for Economic Growth?

Last month, President Obama announced his long-anticipated executive order on illegal immigration. The critics cried “Foul!”—including 24 states that have initiated legal challenges in federal court. Those critics, however, have misunderstood key aspects of the president’s actions—including the most fundamental fact of all—according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin W. Powell.

According to Powell, the most pertinent fact that sets a context for assessing Obama’s new policy on deportations is this: The government lacks the resources to simultaneously deport the more than 11 million illegal immigrants that live in the United States; it must therefore establish priorities. Obama’s actions simply “make explicit who will be targeted for deportation and who won’t,” Powell writes in an op-ed first published in the Chicago Tribune and reprinted by at least 19 other newspapers.

Existing law recognizes, at least to some degree, that the bottleneck in deportations entails an added cost for the U.S. economy—the opportunity cost of preventing some illegal immigrants from working legally. Thus, under one existing program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, those who illegally entered the United States as minors are allowed to work for two years when they reach legal working age. For this category of people, Obama’s executive order lengthens by one year the duration for which they are eligible to work; it also postpones their deportation proceedings. In addition, Obama’s order creates a similar program for the illegal immigrant parents of those here legally, called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. All told, Obama’s expansion of lawful temporary employment for immigrants awaiting deportation is estimated to raise the wages of illegal immigrants by 5 percent to 10 percent and to boost total U.S. economic output anywhere from $90 billion to $210 billion over the next decade; these estimates indicate that the labor of illegal immigrants was undervalued to begin with. Until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform, Obama’s executive action is a modest step that serves the interests of American consumers—whether they realize this or not.

Immigration as Political Theater, by Benjamin W. Powell (Chicago Tribune, 12/22/14; and nationally syndicated by Tribune News Service)

Broken Borders: Government, Foreign-Born Workers, and the U.S. Economy, by Benjamin W. Powell and Zachary Gochenour

Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Economic Development, edited by Benjamin W. Powell

Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization, and America, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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3) Health Reform and the New Congress

With control of both the House and Senate, Republicans in the 114th Congress will have unprecedented power to make good on their promises to voters to repeal various features of Obamacare. According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman, the first step is to help voters keep their jobs by repealing Obamacare’s employer mandate; the second is to help people to keep their insurance, especially by repealing the individual mandate; the third is allow them to keep their doctor, such as by deregulating and denationalizing the health-insurance exchanges.

After lawmakers take these three steps, Goodman calls on them to enact more fundamental healthcare reforms that embrace a host of core principles: choice, fairness, universal coverage, portability, transparency, patient power, and real insurance. Each of these principles addresses flaws in the American healthcare system. Lack of portability, for example, is especially harmful in a dynamic economy that entails changing jobs often. But suppose employers could buy portable coverage for their workers, just as they can contribute to their employees’ portable retirement accounts. Such portability would eliminate the financial headaches that arise when people with pre-existing conditions find themselves between jobs and without coverage. Such reforms are essential for reform-minded lawmakers to enact.

Goodman writes in a recent piece for Forbes: “I have described this approach to reform as an opportunity for Republicans. But I suspect, many Democrats in Congress would vote for these changes as well. Who knows? Maybe even the White House will climb on board.”

A Republican Alternative to Obamacare, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 12/11/14)

Healthcare Solutions for Post-Obamacare America, by John C. Goodman

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

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4) The Independent Review—Winter 2015 Issue Now Available (eSubscriptions, Too!)

The holidays began early for loyal subscribers to The Independent Review. Despite inclement weather in much of the United States, our Winter 2015 issue arrived in readers’ mailboxes earlier this month. And for those who have asked for electronic subscription to our journal, our new app for iOS devices and Kindle Fire offers additional reasons to rejoice.

As usual, The Independent Review is brimming with fascinating, well-researched scholarship on public policy, political economy, and intellectual history.

 From the winter edition we’ve posted to our website stimulating pieces on patent reform, by Arthur M. Diamond, Jr., and on Tolstoy’s views on the state, Christian libertarianism, and pacifism, by Robert Higgs. The issue’s other articles deal with international trade agreements, the causes of airline deregulation, monetary reform for Argentina, the unconstrained vision of Nassim Taleb, and the case for “cautious conservatism.”

Also not to be missed (and posted online) are reviews of the following books:

The Independent Review: Winter 2015

Get your e-subscription or print subscription today! (Print subscription includes FREE book.)

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5) Last Call to Double Your Impact for Students!

You may have seen our recent stories about Independent Student Programs participants—examples of the hundreds of alumni our supporters have helped inspire.

We also made a request to Lighthouse readers—people who value educational resources on liberty—to help meet the exploding demand for our Student Programs. We’re thankful for the over $10,000 already given online, matched to become $25,000!

But if you haven’t yet contributed, or would like to do more, there are still bright young minds relying on your help—and another donor waiting to double your support.

Please make a tax-deductible contribution today!

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6) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

The Cancelation Inherent in the System
K. Lloyd Billingsley (12/29/14)

Closed For and After Christmas
Craig Eyermann (12/26/14)

Social Security Scrooge Abuses Children
K. Lloyd Billingsley (12/24/14)

U.S. Treasury Employees Swindle Taxpayers
Craig Eyermann (12/23/14)

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

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7) Selected News Alerts

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  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org