Volume 9, Issue 12: March 19, 2007
- Would Terrorists from Iraq Follow U.S. Troops Home?
- Lessons from Ireland
- Defense Budget Hits Trillion-Dollar Mark
- Summer Seminars for Students
The lifetime probability that international terrorists will kill any one American is about the same as that person being killed by a cometone in 80,000, according to political scientist John Mueller. Americans therefore should worry less about the low risks overblown by the administration’s color-coded Terrorism Alert System and instead focus on reducing the risks they face in everyday life, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty.
One particular scenario Americans need not worry about too much, Eland argues in his latest op-ed, is that “the terrorists will follow us home” if the United States rapidly withdraws from Iraq. In reality, the al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq would be too busy fighting the country’s Shi’ite majority to attempt a large-scale attack on U.S. soil, according to Eland.
“Instead of being anxious about such Bush administration canards,” writes Eland, “the American people should worry about things that have a greater chance of killing themfor example, the average American’s lifetime chances of being killed in an auto accident are one in 100. Instead of focusing on potential terrorism in the homeland emanating from a postU.S. Iraq, Americans who want to have the greatest probability of living longer lives should eat right, exercise, and wear their seat belts, and avoid smoking and excess worry (especially about jihadists following U.S. soldiers home from Iraq).”
Irelandone of the great economic successes of the late 1990shas become a model that many policymakers want to emulate. Unfortunately, policymakers often don’t understand the reason for the Emerald Island’s success and therefore propose programs unlikely to help their states, according to Benjamin Powell, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation.
Arizona policymakers, for example, are attempting to replicate Ireland’s success by creating agencies modeled after the Science Foundation Ireland and that country’s Industrial Development Authority. But this won’t work because, according to Powell, neither contributed to Ireland’s late-1990s success: the former wasn’t created until after Ireland had its most rapid growth and the latter had been around during Ireland’s economically stagnant years. Cuts in taxes and government spendingand the liberalization of a few key sectors of its economyare what turned Ireland into the “Celtic Tiger,” Powell argues.
“Ireland’s lesson is that Arizona should dramatically increase economic freedoms if it wants to grow,” Powell writes. “Arizona already ranks fairly well in freedom compared to many U.S. states but it still trails some neighbors. Taxation and government spending in particular lag behind Arizona’s overall score. If Arizona’s leadership wants to emulate Ireland’s success they should be slashing taxation and spendingnot subsidizing science and planning industrial policy. Improving Arizona’s economic freedom, in the words of a Guinness commercial, would be ‘Brilliant!’”
When defense-related spending in non-Defense departments is added in, total U.S. spending for defense is almost twice the $583 billion earmarked for the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2007 budget, according to Robert Higgs. The relevant non-Defense spending, he explains, includes spending on various programs of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Treasury Department, State Department, Veterans Affairs, and Energy Department. His estimates build on data gathered for fiscal 2006, the most recent data available.
“If the additional elements of defense spending continue to maintain the same ratio to the Pentagon’s amountand we have every reason to suppose they willthen in fiscal year 2007, through which we are now passing, the grand total spent for defense will be $1.028 trillion,” writes Higgs in a recent op-ed. “I confirmed the rough accuracy of this forecast by adding up the government’s own estimates of fiscal 2007 outlays for the various additional defense-related items, obtaining a total of $987 billionan amount only 4 percent less than my ratio-based estimate.”
“Although I have arrived at my conclusions honestly and carefully, I may have left out items that should have been includedthe federal budget is a gargantuan, complex, and confusing collection of documents. If I have done so, however, the left-out items are not likely to be relatively large ones.”
What are natural rights? What is the rule of law? What is a free market? What caused the Great Depression? What causes inflation? How can we improve our schools, healthcare, environment, housing, and transit?
To help high school and college-age students better understand the social and economic issues faced throughout life, The Independent Institute sponsors the Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars as a major part of the Institute’s overall program for students.
In a five day series of lectures, readings, films, multimedia presentations, and small group discussions, these dynamic seminars help students learn what economics is, how it affects their lives, and how understanding its laws can help them achieve the things they care about.