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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 10, Issue 41: October 13, 2008

  1. Assailing the Bailout
  2. Institute Announces Winners of Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest
  3. Government Subsidies Worsen Hurricane Damage
  4. Conference to Examine Entrepreneurs’ Role in Developing Economies
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Assailing the Bailout

Independent Institute Fellows continued to weigh in this past week on the ongoing financial crisis and the $700 billion bailout package known officially as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Here’s a sample from their recent op-eds.

Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty, writes, “[Herbert] Hoover converted a mundane recession into the greatest economic disaster in modern history—the Great Depression. Unfortunately for all of us, George W. Bush is headed down that same path.”

Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Center on Global Prosperity, writes, “As many authoritative economists are desperately trying to explain amid all the confusion, the culprit was a system geared toward loaning money to people who were not in a position to pay it back. Two policies underpinned that system: easy money by the Federal Reserve and the government-induced lowering of standards for approving loan requests.”

William J. Watkins, Jr., author of Reclaiming the American Revolution, writes, “Americans should be concerned that a constitutional discussion was completely absent from the national debate about the bailout package. The [bailout package] is the largest government intervention in the private economy in the history of the United States—it makes FDR’s New Deal and President Truman’s seizure of the steel mills look like Mickey Mouse.... If the Constitution is not consulted or debated when the government seeks to acquire and manage billions in private assets, then we may safely assume that there are no limits on Congress’ powers. Untrammeled government authority—not economic stabilization—will be the lasting legacy of this Wall Street bailout.”

Robert Higgs, author of Depression, War, and Cold War, writes, “Although the [Federal Reserve] data show some evidence of diminished lending in some credit markets, they do not comport with allegations that the credit markets have ‘seized up,’ ‘locked up,’ or ‘frozen up’ or with claims that ‘nobody is lending’ or that the credit markets have ‘stopped functioning.’ All such turns of phrase, which appear in virtually every report in the mainstream media, are sheer hyperbole—which, I might add, serve only to heighten a sense of panic among the public and within the inner sanctums of Our Blessed Rulers and Saviors.”

“Herbert Hoover Redux,” by Ivan Eland (10/13/08)

“Whose Fault Was It?” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (10/8/08)

“Where Was the Constitution in the Bailout Debate?” by William J. Watkins, Jr. (10/6/08)

“Boohoo: The Mainstream Media Are Ignoring Me,” by Robert Higgs (10/12/08)

Purchase The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed (Updated Edition), by Ivan Eland.

Purchase Lessons from the Poor: The Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

Purchase Reclaiming the American Revolution: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Their Legacy, by William J. Watkins, Jr.

Purchase Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy, by Robert Higgs.

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2) Institute Announces Winners of Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest

The Independent Institute is pleased to announce the winners of the 2008 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest, an international competition open to college students and untenured college teachers under 36 years of age. The topic of this year’s contest was the relationship between property rights and human rights.

In the college student category, Michael Bauwëns of the University of Ghent in Belgium won first prize ($2,500) for his essay, “Rights, Robinson Crusoe, and Friday.” Second prize ($1,500) went to David Howden of Spain’s Universidad Rey Juan Carlos for his essay, “Property Rights and Human Rights: Liberty Through Unity.” San Jose State University’s Kai Jäger was awarded third prize ($1,000) for “Why Even Enemies of a Free State Have to Embrace Property Rights.”

In the junior faculty category, Prof. Daniel Pellerin of the National University of Singapore received the first prize ($10,000) for “Are Property Rights Human Rights?” Prof. Philipp Bagus, also of Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, won second prize ($5,000) for “Human Rights Inflation and Property Rights Devaluation.” Third prize ($1,500) was given to Southern New Hampshire University’s Prof. Gregory Randolph for “Who Took the Rights Out of Human Rights: An Analysis of Property Rights as Human Rights.”

Read the press release.

Read winning essays from the 2008 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest.

The 2009 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest is now open!

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3) Government Subsidies Worsen Hurricane Damage

As sure as autumn follows summer, hurricanes will continue to inflict huge losses on Southeastern U.S. coastal residents. The economic destruction caused by the hurricanes, however, may grow worse as government policies encourage more and more construction near vulnerable shorelines. According to economist Jeffrey J. Pompe of Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, the federal National Flood Insurance Program, the state-run Windstorm Underwriters Associations, and other government policies that subsidize the cost of building in the path of a hurricane have discouraged residents and business owners from exercising greater care when deciding where to live and work.

“The misery of those struck by hurricanes is unfortunate, but government policy should not encourage decision-making that contributes to their suffering or shifts costs to those who do not live in the path of ‘ill winds,’” writes Pompe in a new op-ed.

“A better approach is to allow market signals such as insurance premiums to encourage property owners to undertake activities to adapt to living in a hazardous area or to avoid building in such areas altogether,” continues Pompe. “As insurance companies increase property insurance premiums in order to pay for increasing damage costs, homeowners will increasingly build more storm resistant homes and look for less risky locations.”

“The ‘Ill Wind’ of Government Policy,” by Jeffrey J. Pompe (10/10/08)

“Property Insurance for Coastal Residents: Governments ‘Ill Wind,’” by Jeffrey R. Pompe and James R. Rinehart (The Independent Review, Fall 2008)

Subscribe to The Independent Review. (Scroll down for special Internet offer.)

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4) Conference to Examine Entrepreneurs’ Role in Developing Economies

Half the people in the world live on two dollars or less per day and roughly 600 million live on no more than one dollar per day. With thousands of international relief organizations, government programs, and billions of dollars in foreign aid, why do so many impoverished countries remain unable to grow their economies beyond mere survival?

At the upcoming Independent Policy Forum, “Lessons from the Poor: The Power of Entrepreneurship,” Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, former Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga, noted economist William Easterly and other distinguished policy experts will examine some of the causes and solutions to poverty around the world, based on the new book, Lessons from the Poor.

The program will discuss how entrepreneurial energy is the crucial catalyst for change. The speakers will examine real world examples of entrepreneurship and discuss why instead of redistributing existing wealth, the people of developing countries can and should be freed in order to create it. Don’t miss this exciting program!

November 13, 2008
Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
Washington, D.C.
Noon to 5 PM

Event information

Purchase, Lessons from the Poor: The Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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5) This Week in The Beacon

Here is the latest from The Beacon—the blog of the Independent Institute:

As always, The Beacon is open for your comments.

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