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

Volume 11, Issue 52: December 28, 2009

  1. The Independent Review—Winter 2010 Issue Now Available
  2. U.S. Nuclear Security Best Served by a New START
  3. Chileans Wonder Who Best to Implement Reforms
  4. San Francisco’s Private Police
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) The Independent Review—Winter 2010 Issue Now Available

The latest issue of The Independent Review addresses the following questions:

  • If a constitution is a contract, how could it be morally binding on those who have not explicitly consented to abide by it?
  • What role did the credit-rating cartel play in fueling the 2008 financial meltdown? Read the article.
  • What happened to “efficient markets”?
  • How did Robert Nozick justify the state’s prohibition of people’s enforcement of their own rights?
  • What would U.S. immigration policy look like if it favored prospective immigrants who seemed the most likely to enhance economic productivity and income growth?
  • What did Thomas Hobbes contribute to political economy?
  • Why are businessmen more honest than preachers, politicians, and professors? Read the article.
  • How have American neoconservatives influenced U.S. policy in the Middle East?
  • What is the West?
  • How did FDR’s legacy damage America? Read the review.
  • What can economists teach others about happiness? Read the review.
  • Are economists basically immoral? Read the review.
  • What six fundamental errors have plagued most analyses of the current economic recession? Read the article.

The Independent Review (Winter 2010)

Special offer for first time subscribers: Subscribe today to The Independent Review and receive TWO complimentary issues—the next six issues for the price of four!

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2) U.S. Nuclear Security Best Served by a New START

Russia and the United States failed to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) of 1991 before it was scheduled to expire on December 5. However, some analysts believe a new treaty is imminent. The treaty under negotiation, which President Obama seems eager to sign, would require both countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals by about one fourth and would cut the maximum number of strategic bombers and sea-based and land-based missiles in half.

Among other benefits, smaller strategic arsenals would be easier to protect from terrorists and would be cheaper to refurbish and reuse, thereby reducing pressure to build a costly new generation of nuclear warheads, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty. Eland argues that the signing and ratification of a new accord would be a good starting point for further helpful reductions in the two countries’ nuclear weapons programs.

“The U.S. could start by eliminating the ever vulnerable land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and warheads in ground silos,” writes Eland in his latest op-ed. Reducing warheads and delivery systems, he continues, “would cut the costs of storage, personnel, operations, and maintenance—money that could be used to reduce the $1 trillion deficits that the Bush and Obama administrations have given us.”

“Trying to Reduce Our Only Existential Threat,” by Ivan Eland (12/23/09) Spanish Translation

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

Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, by Ivan Eland

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland

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3) Chileans Wonder Who Best to Implement Reforms

If Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera wins the January 17 run-off election, Chile will enter the second stage of its long transition from socialism. The first stage ended when the country’s socialist leaders decided to preserve the vibrant economy they had inherited from Pinochet and to enact trade liberalization. The result was a reduction of poverty to 13 percent of the population. However, after four consecutive center-left governments, reform stalled and labor productivity collapsed.

The question before Chileans is who represents the best hope for completing Stage Two—the billionaire businessman Pinera, or ex-socialist Marco Enriquez-Omiami? A Pinera win would not necessarily ensure the completion of Chile’s reforms. As Pinera himself acknowledged in a recent conversation with Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, the new president would need to take special care to avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interests that would undermine support for his reforms.

“When I had a chance to talk to Pinera in Buenos Aires recently, he seemed acutely aware of the risks of the Berlusconi syndrome—the inability of Italy’s prime minister to clearly separate politics and business.” But if Pinera were to steer clear of any scandals and implement meaningful reform, he would have a good chance of rescuing Latin America from the populist autocrats who assert a monopoly on the region’s agenda.

“Chile’s Second Transition,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (12/23/09) Spanish Translation

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

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

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4) San Francisco’s Private Police

The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) doesn’t seem to like the San Francisco Patrol Special Police (PSP), a collection of independent security firms that has been making the city safer since the Gold Rush. The public agency, which regulates its private counterpart, has delayed the processing of PSP employment applications, sometimes for years. Worse, businesses have reported threats of decreased protection from the SFPD if they were to hire the PSP.

Nevertheless, members of the police union have found that the PSP has indirectly created a lucrative opportunity for them. Under the 10(b) program, whenever the SFPD convinces a PSP client to hire an officer of the SFPD instead of someone from the PSP, the officer can make big money at taxpayer expense. Assuming the officer were earning his regular maximum and worked two extra hours per week on 10(b) assignments, he would earn an extra $9,048 per year and see his pension increase $8,143 per year! (Hourly rates billed by SFPD under the 10(b) program are nearly double the rates of the PSP, according to a former president of the police commission.)

Independent Institute Research Fellow Edward Stringham examines these and other aspects of the relationship between the SFPD and the PSP in his new working paper, “Private Policing in San Francisco.” Stringham recommends three reforms: (1) an audit of the 10(b) program, (2) the elimination of restrictions that limit competition with the SFPD, and (3) an end to the SFPD’s lengthy delays in the processing of PSP employment applications. Stringham concludes: “The PSP should be supported, encouraged, and assisted in publicizing their policing force as a viable safety option that can be relied on now and in the future to make San Francisco a safer and more desirable place to work.”

Press Release

“Private Policing in San Francisco,” by Edward Stringham (Independent Institute Working Paper, 12/21/09)

“Guardians of the Peace?” by Jonathan Wyse (12/17/09)

Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice, edited by Edward Stringham

To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice, by Bruce Benson

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5) This Week in The Beacon

Visit the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language blog, El Independent. Below are the past week’s offerings from our English-language blog, The Beacon.

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