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

Volume 10, Issue 52: December 29, 2008

  1. Shoehorning the Bush Legacy
  2. New New-Deal Follies
  3. Zealotry in Zimbabwe; Abettors Abroad

1) Shoehorning the Bush Legacy

The presidency of George W. Bush moved from tragedy to farce earlier this month when Iraqi broadcast journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his Turkish-made shoes at the forty-third U.S. president during a press conference in Baghdad.

According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, the shoe-throwing affair symbolizes—even more effectively than the “Mission Accomplished” banner from Bush’s premature, Pyrrhic victory speech aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in 2003—the unintended consequences of the administration’s many missteps. It also provides Eland with an opportunity to write an op-ed interlaced with shoe puns!

We are therefore inspired to announce the first quiz in the 10-year history of this newsletter. The first Lighthouse reader to e-mail us with the correct number of double entrendres in Eland’s latest op-ed, “Shoehorning the Bush Legacy,” will receive a free copy of the new book, Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland. Both the op-ed and the book are highly recommended!

“Shoehorning the Bush Legacy,” by Ivan Eland (12/22/08) Spanish Translation

“Assessing the Bush Presidency and the Obama Promises,” an Independent Policy Forum featuring Ivan Eland, Congressman Ron Paul, and historian Richard Shenkman (Wed., 1/7/08, Washington, D.C.)

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland

Recarving Rushmore...provides an inspiring vision for both conservatives and liberals on the crucial need to rein in White House power and restore peace, prosperity and liberty.” —Ron Paul, U. S. Congressman

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2) New New-Deal Follies

President-elect Barack Obama and Nobel economist Paul Krugman should abandon their push for a new New Deal, if they wish to promote a rapid restoration of the moribund U.S. economy, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Dominick T. Armentano.

Roosevelt’s New Deal policies—including a bailout of banks and businesses (via the Reconstruction Finance Corporation), a massive public works program (via the Works Progress Administration), and the regulation and cartelization of industry (via the National Industrial Recovery Act)—not only didn’t work, they actually worsened the Great Depression.

“After 10 years of political and economic unrest and uncertainty, the unemployment rate was still 17.2% on the even of our entry into WW2,” writes Armentano. “Laissez-faire economic ideas (deregulation, tax cuts) are currently out of favor, but the fact remains that the Krugman and Keynesian policies of bailouts, deficit financing, and public works have never really worked.... They don’t work because they prop up unsustainable investments in the private sector rather than clear the way for new entrepreneurship.”

Government Spending Makes Recessions Worse,” by Dominick T. Armentano (12/19/08)

“Regime Uncertainty in 1937 and 2008,” by Robert Higgs (12/6/08)

Depression, War, and Cold War, by Robert Higgs

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3) Zealotry in Zimbabwe; Abettors Abroad

Zimbabwe’s economic collapse and its consequences—including a cholera epidemic with the potential to create a mass famine—stem not from Western colonialism, as dictator Robert Mugabe claims, but rather from his own zealotry for power.

Mugabe, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, has taken one of Africa’s most promising economies and turned it into a hell hole—through corruption and violence, assaults on private property (in the name of land reform), and the hyperinflation of the money supply to world-historic proportions. (Zimbabwean economist John Roberts estimates the annual inflation rate at eight followed by 18 zeros—that’s 8,000,000,000,000,000,000 percent.)

None of this is to say that Mugabe lacks abettors abroad. “With the exception of Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia, the member states of the Southern African Development Community, South Africa in particular, have provided the regime in Harare with political cover on every important occasion,” writes Vargas Llosa. “They whitewashed the rigged presidential election in 2002, called for [opposition leader Morgan] Tsvangirai to recognize the legitimacy of Mugabe’s dictatorship, blamed the opposition for most of the violence and did not protest when Mugabe refused to publish the results of the first round of the presidential election this year.”

“Mugabe’s Cholera,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (12/24/08) Spanish Translation

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

Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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