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Volume 12, Issue 7: February 15, 2010
- Tea Parties Worth Toasting When They Protest All Foes of Liberty
- Each FDA Failure Is Used to Augment the Agencys Powers
- Liberty versus Patriotism
- When Dictatorship Ends, Generals Can Help Transition to Democracy
- This Week in The Beacon
1) Tea Parties Worth Toasting When They Protest All Foes of Liberty
The Boston Tea Party was launched with the hope of keeping a new tax from setting a precedent for the imposition of other taxes. Following English tradition, the Bostonian protesters believed that publicly displaying their displeasureand thereby getting their views on recordwas an essential tool for discouraging ill-considered policies. Todays Tea Party activists seem to share their forebears worries about bad precedent, but according to Independent Institute Research Fellow William J. Watkins, they are a bit late to the party.
The Tea Party was correct to take aim at the bailout legislation, but one wonders where the Tea Party leadership was when Bush created harmful precedents by pushing for a new Medicare prescription drug benefit and the No Child Left Behind Act, writes Watkins in a widely published recent op-ed.
Just as the colonial protestors opposed the expansion of the British central governmentwhether it was headed by the Tory George Grenville or the Whig William Pittso todays tea partiers should also remain non-partisan in their protests, and argue against violations of liberty no matter who is at fault. Concludes Watkins: What we should take from the Tea Partys recent convention is that the principles of individual liberty and limited government must remain inviolable no matter what party is in the White House. Otherwise, dangerous precedents will be set that are difficult to undo.
Tea Party Movement Knows No Party Allegiance, by William J. Watkins, Jr. (San Francisco Examiner, 2/11/10)
Reclaiming the American Revolution: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Their Legacy, by William J. Watkins, Jr.
2) Each FDA Failure Is Used to Augment the Agencys Powers
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has requested a $4.03 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2011a 23 percent increase over the current year. A new report from the Independent InstituteMedical Disasters and the Growth of the FDA, by historian Ronald Hamowytraces the rise of the agency during the past century. Remarkably, the reforms that passed after the three health scares that were most crucial to the agencys growth would have not prevented those crises from occurring, according to Hamowy.
Each of these crises enabled the FDA to strengthen its grip on pharmaceutical companies and other medical innovators, even though it likely meant that fewer new drugs would be developed, writes Hamowy.
Although the FDA was consistently ineffective at averting disaster, local authorities and private companies were immediately responsive to each situation, Hamowy argues. By revealing the agencys preoccupation with its own self-interest, Hamowy suggests that the FDA may be too mired in bureaucratic inefficiency and the distractions of politicking to reliably ensure the safety and quality of the products that it has sought to monitor.
Medical Disasters and the Growth of the FDA, by Ronald Hamowy (2/10/10)
FDAReview.org: Economic studies of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, edited by Daniel B. Klein and Alexander Tabarrok.
Hazardous to Our Health? FDA Regulation of Health Care Products, edited by Robert Higgs
3) Liberty versus Patriotism
In 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Stolen Valor Act, a measure that criminalizes the wearing of any unearned military medal and authorizes the imprisonment of violators for up to one year. Dozens of people have been jailed for breaking this law, even though they may not have profited one penny from wearing the medal, and the Act is now being challenged as a violation of the First Amendments protection of free speech.
Critics of the Stolen Valor Act have got it right and its supporters are in the wrong, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institutes Center on Peace & Liberty. Moreover, the thinking behind passage of the Act is fundamentally at odds with that of the nations Founders, who were careful to distinguish between patriotism (a sense of responsibility to fellow citizens) and nationalism (a devotion to the nation-state). Alas, this crucial distinction was lost during the 19th century, argues Eland, author of Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty.
Liberty, for which our military men and women are supposed to be fighting, should trump nationalism, faux patriotism, and militarism, writes Eland. In fact, all of these things probably harm the U.S. military more than a wannabe hero making false claims about earning a martial medal. All of these maladies, usually promoted by guilt-ridden expedient civilians, usually get military people killed in unnecessary warscertainly more disrespect to the nations armed forces than faking a few medals.
Liberty Versus Patriotism, by Ivan Eland (2/10/10) 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
4) When Dictatorship Ends, Generals Can Help Transition to Democracy
The irony of dictatorships is that when democracy emerges from their ashes, it is sometimes the ex-dictators top generals who, metaphorically speaking, pound the nails in the coffin of the dictator and make it possible for civilians to keep the military away from the helm of power. This was the case with the successful democratic transitions of Spain, Portugal and Greece many decades ago, and with those of Chile and Argentina more recently, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa explains in his latest column.
Now, General Otto Guibovich is doing the same in Peru. By helping the campaign to honor the thousands of innocent bystanders murdered by the Fujimori dictatorship during its lawless war against the Shining Path terrorists of the 1980s and 1990s, the general is trying to lift the clouds that have cast a long shadow over Peru. But he is not without foes. Fujimoris defenders in politics and the media would like the country to return to authoritarianism, and they rightly see Guibovich as a roadblock in their path.
The Peruvian army seems to have in Gen. Guibovich someone who understands that the greatest war a soldier must win is that of civilization if the words homeland, honor and glory are to be charged with meaning, concludes Vargas Llosa.
The Generals Gesture, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (2/10/10) Spanish Translation
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
5) This Week in The Beacon
Visit the Independent Institutes Spanish-language blog, El Independent. Below are the past weeks offerings from our English-language blog, The Beacon.
- Avatar and Just War Theory, by Anthony Gregory (2/15/10)
- There Has Been No Warming since 1995, by David Theroux (2/14/10)
- Judge Andrew Napolitano: Military Tribunals Are Unconstitutional, by David Theroux (2/13/10)
- The University of Alabama at Huntsville (Another Gun-Free Zone), by David Beito (2/13/10)
- More on Irans Nuclear Non-threat, by Anthony Gregory (2/12/10)
- Snowed Under in Washington, D.C., by William Shughart (2/12/10)
- Murray Rothbard Teaches Microeconomics, by Art Carden (2/11/10)
- Bailing Out Greece: An Opportunity to Create a More Powerful EU, by Randall Holcombe (2/11/10)
- It Should Be Renamed the Darwin Peace Prize, by Mary Theroux (2/11/10) Bernankes Big Bank Subsidy, by Randall Holcombe (2/11/10)
- Threatening War with Iran, by Anthony Gregory (2/10/10)