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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 11, Issue 28: July 13, 2009

  1. Supreme Court Decision Upholds Civil Rights
  2. Argentina Rejects Kirchners’ Populism
  3. Twenty Years after Tiananmen, Chinese Political Reform Stagnates
  4. Independent Institute Seeks a Publicity Assistant
  5. Facebook, Twitter, and The Beacon

1) Supreme Court Decision Upholds Civil Rights

Independent Institute Research Fellow Jonathan Bean hailed the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the New Haven, Conn., firefighters case, Ricci v. DeStefano, as a victory for justice.

Along with 17 other New Haven firefighters, Frank Ricci, a white 11-year veteran of the New Haven Fire Department, had sued the city for tossing out the results of a written examination it had required for firefighters who sought promotion to management. Ricci, who is dyslexic, had managed to pass the test after extensive study involving audiotapes of a textbook he paid an acquaintance to record. City officials had defended their decision on the grounds that the test exposed the city to lawsuits because the pass rate was significantly lower for African-American firefighters than it was for white and Hispanic firefighters. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the city’s decision to ignore the test results violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“The case highlights all that is wrong with ‘affirmative action as we know it’: employers practice defensive racial preferences, not because they believe it serves the public good, but because they believe it will ward off lawsuits,” writes Bean, editor of Race and Liberty in America, in an op-ed for the Providence Journal.  “The Ricci decision offers hope to those who seek justice in the courtroom and in the workplace. Let us hope that the court, and the American people, go even further and rediscover the classical liberal notion that ‘our Constitution is color blind’—the philosophy that drove the NAACP to win one case after another in the 1950s and 1960s.”

“New Haven Firefighters: Supreme Court Overrules Discrimination,” by Jonathan Bean (Providence Journal, 7/4/09)

Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, edited by Jonathan Bean

“If you are interested in the real history of the Civil Rights movement in America—the radical ideas that set it in motion no matter where they came from—get ready for an intellectual thrill ride. There is no time for political posturing here. Race and Liberty in America is full of revelations and stunning in its honesty.”

—Juan Williams, Senior Correspondent, National Public Radio; author, Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954–1965 and Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

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2) Argentina Rejects Kirchners’ Populism

President Cristina Kirchner and her husband, the former President Nestor Kirchner, lost heavily in Argentina’s midterm elections last month, a sign that voters have turned sour on the Kirchners’ brand of populism—a demagogic style marked by tax hikes on farmers, nationalization of the pension funds, and takeovers of major private companies such as Aerolineas Argentinas.

Many of the election’s winners were former allies of the Kirchners who have denounced their increasingly authoritarian ideology or long-time critics who decried the Kirchner’s growing closeness with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Like the Kirchners, however, their opponents proclaim themselves the rightful heirs of Juan Peron, the populist leader whose policies put the country on a backward economic trajectory. According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, the anti-Kirchner politicians will need to re-think their commitment to Peronismo if they hope to return Argentina to its position as one of the world’s wealthiest countries, a status it enjoyed from the late 19th century to the 1930s.

“In the 1990s, a center-right Peronista, President Carlos Menem, attempted to reverse Peronismo with free-market reforms while still claiming Peron’s mantle,” writes Vargas Llosa in his latest syndicated column. “Tragically, those reforms did not go far enough and were tainted by corruption, too much public spending and a rigid monetary system that collapsed in 2001. It is time to try again and to get it right once and for all.”

“No Tears for Them in Argentina,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (7/1/09)

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

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

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

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3) Twenty Years after Tiananmen, Chinese Political Reform Stagnates

Some pundits have called Iran’s crackdown on the election protestors “Tehran Tiananmen”—a reference to Beijing’s repression of student demonstrators in November 1989. Such comparisons are awkward, however, because repression in the two countries may be more different it appears, according to William Ratliff, Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.

As Ratliff explains, the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China—the late Zhao Ziyang—revealed in his memoirs that in 1989 the party had split into two opposing camps: those, such as Zhao, who favored a dialogue with the students that had flooded Tiananmen Square to mourn the death of a reform-minded party chief, and the hardliners, such as Li Peng, who favored clearing the square immediately. After months of conflict within the party, the hardliners won, resulting in mass death and less political reform.

“Since Tiananmen, significant Chinese political reform has been on hold,” writes Ratliff. “Hopefully Tehran’s current troubles will not result in the same prolonged political stagnation that settled upon China after the violent showdown twenty years ago in Tiananmen Square.”

“A Realistic Postmortem on China’s Tiananmen,” by William Ratliff (6/22/09)

Vietnam Rising: Culture and Change in Asia’s Tiger Cub, by William Ratliff 

“Tiananmen Square: Ten Years Later,” featuring Timothy Brook, Jing Chang, and Danxuan Yi (6/16/99)

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4) Independent Institute Seeks a Publicity Assistant

The Independent Institute is seeking a Publicity Assistant to work at our headquarters in Oakland, Calif. This is a full-time, entry-level position. The Publicity Assistant will aid the Publicity Department in promoting our books, reports, authors, and policy forums as well as in tracking our media coverage. A Bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications, political science, or a related field is required. Proficiency with Excel, Word, and FileMaker is essential. Experience with InDesign, Cision, Nexis, PR Newswire, ProfNet, and basic HTML preferred.

Publicity Assistant Job Listing

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5) Facebook, Twitter, and The Beacon

Want to stay tuned to the latest developments on liberty and expand your network of contacts? Connect with the Independent Institute by becoming a Fan via Facebook, and please invite your friends, family, and associates to do likewise. Follow the Independent Institute on Twitter.

If you haven’t done so yet, please be sure to check out the past week’s offerings from the Independent Institute’s blog, The Beacon.

    • “Democracy Is Dead: What’s So Funny about ‘Read the Bill’?” by Jonathan Bean (7/12/09)

    • “Economics: The Art and Science of Not Killing People with Your Good Intentions,” by Art Carden (7/11/09)

    • “Classical Liberalism and the Fight for Civil Rights,” by Jonathan Bean (7/10/09)

    • “More Stimulus: Insanity?” by Randall Holcombe (7/9/09)

    • “Reforming Environmental Policy: Seminar for Homeschool Students,” by Carl Close (7/8/09)

    • “William Marina, R.I.P.,” by David Beito (7/7/09)

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