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

Volume 12, Issue 18: May 3, 2010

  1. Are the Tea Parties “Fair and Balanced”?
  2. South Park and Self-Censorship
  3. Journalist’s Freedom Award Prompts Reply to Lenin
  4. The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars for Students
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Are the Tea Parties “Fair and Balanced”?

Since its birth in early 2009, the Tea Party movement has become famous for its vocal opposition to federal programs favored by the Left. But when it comes to Big Government programs of the sort typically favored by the Right, the tea party sounds more like a convention of mimes.

Nowhere is the tea partiers’ silence more conspicuous than in their ambivalence toward—or, worse, support for—the flawed “national security” policies that have fueled runaway government spending and eroded the civil liberties of ordinary Americans, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland. In his latest weekly op-ed, Eland presents a brief lesson for the Tea Parties: namely, the idea that the resurgence of the warfare state accelerates the growth of the welfare state.

“And of course we have George W. Bush, a big-government conservative, who curiously wins . . . a 57 percent approval rating from the ‘small government’ Tea Partiers,” writes Eland. “Yet in parallel with his war on terror, domestic spending increased more than under any president since Lyndon Johnson, and he dramatically increased executive power to near tyrannical proportions by illegally using torture, wiretapping, and indefinite detentions without trial.”

“To the Tea Party: War and Liberty Aren’t Fellow Travelers,” by Ivan Eland (4/28/10) Spanish Translation

For a different perspective, see “Tea Party Movement Knows No Party Allegiance,” by William J. Watkins, Jr. (San Francisco Examiner, 2/11/10) Spanish Translation

VIDEO: Ivan Eland on political unrest in Kyrgystan (Russia Today, 4/7/10)

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

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

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

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2) South Park and Self-Censorship

Comedy Central’s decision last month to “self-censor” South Park—its cable television cartoon show famous for skewering just about everything that anyone has ever held to be noble and sacred—sets a bad precedent, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, senior fellow at the Independent Institute.

Precisely because the MTV-owned TV channel had aired earlier episodes that had depicted the Prophet Muhammad, its recent decision to block out his image—a response to earlier death threats from self-described revolutionary Muslims—can lead only to less freedom of expression and make the goal of a free society more difficult to reach, Vargas Llosa argues in his latest column for the Washington Post Writers Group.

“The libertarian vein of South Park, which certainly can be offensive and unpleasant, hails from the great Western tradition that goes from the Greeks to Voltaire, and from the Enlightenment to the modern heroes who battle totalitarianism in Zimbabwe, Iran, Burma, North Korea and Cuba today,” writes Vargas Llosa. “One does not need to admire its content to appreciate its moral superiority over those who forced the self-censorship on MTV Networks and the need to stand behind creative freedom.”

South Park and Self-Censorship,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (4/28/10) Spanish Translation

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

The Che Guevara Myth, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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

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3) Journalist’s Freedom Award Prompts Reply to Lenin

When Lenin was asked when he would enact freedom in the fledging Soviet Union, he replied: “Freedom for what?” He may have intended those words as a conversation killer, but for those people who have escaped totalitarian societies and for those who desire to maintain their freedom, Lenin’s question is one that begs to be answered with clarity and eloquence.

Carlos Alberto Montaner, an advisor to the Independent Institute’s Center on Global Prosperity, provided just such an answer last week when he accepted the Juan de Mariana Award for his journalistic work in defense of freedom. Writes Montaner: “The answer to [Lenin’s question] is manifold: freedom to investigate, to generate wealth, to seek happiness, to reaffirm the individual ego in a human tide, all of them tasks that depend on our ability to make decisions.” In psychological terms, he argues, political freedom means your right to live “unmasked,” without the fear of punishment for being yourself.

Montaner concludes by recounting the spread of freedom in the West, including the sacrifices by political prisoners such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo, whose hunger strike in a Cuban prison earlier this year proved fatal. “It is possible to narrate the long, historical trek of human beings as the constant adventure of our species in the quest for a gradual increase in the number of people given the right to make their own decisions.”

“Freedom for What?” by Carlos Alberto Montaner (4/30/10) Spanish Translation

More by Carlos Alberto Montaner

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4) The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars for Students

The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars provide high-school and college students with the unique opportunity to learn about the economic and ethical principles of free markets and open societies. Guest lectures offer an introductory, interdisciplinary, and sweeping overview of the workings of a free society, and how that relates to pivotal current events.

Held at the Independent Institute’s Conference Center in Oakland, Calif., these five-day seminars use lectures, readings, videos, and class discussions to teach students about issues such as inflation and recession, the environment, disaster recovery, civil liberties, and much more.

“This seminar was so much fun,” writes an attendee from 2009. “Each speaker was passionate and enthusiastic about economics and wanted to help students understand and appreciate economics, so that they can make better choices and impact the future.”

The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars

Session I: June 14-18

Session II: August 9-13

Special Preview: Understanding Today’s Economy

New Date: May 20, 2010, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

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5) This Week in The Beacon

Attention, Spanish Speakers: If you haven’t done so yet, please check out our Spanish-language blog, El Independent. With 20,970 posts, and 1,792,013 page views, El Independent has become a popular online resource for the dissemination of news and commentary about civil liberties and free markets throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Become a fan of El Independent on Facebook and a follower on Twitter.

Here now are the past week’s offerings from our English-language blog, The Beacon:

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