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The Lighthouse


The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 17, Issue 40: October 6, 2015

  1. Ludwig von Mises: Our Greatest Economic Champion of Liberty
  2. Pope Francis’s Unintended Lessons
  3. GOP Lawmakers Should Ditch Bogus Health Proposal
  4. Are Ride-Sharing Critics Taking Us for a Ride?
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts



1) Ludwig von Mises: Our Greatest Economic Champion of Liberty

Were he still alive, Ludwig von Mises would have turned 134 years old last Tuesday. It’s a measure of his stature that Independent Institute Research Fellow Robert P. Murphy—whose new book Choice walks readers through Mises’s masterwork, Human Action—has devoted not one, but two op-eds to this intellectual giant. Space limitations allow us to share only a couple wonderful excerpts.

“Mises didn’t study the mechanics of a capitalist society simply out of intellectual curiosity, the way a physicist might investigate how the sun generates solar flares,” Murphy writes in The Daily Caller. “No, Mises recognized that human society itself rests on a foundation of private property and the rule of law. Only to the degree that individual rights are respected would people enjoy access to the life-enhancing benefits of a division-of-labor economy, in which some people focus on growing food while others specialize in building houses.”

Writing in American Thinker, Murphy states: “In addition to his profound contributions in technical economics, including in monetary theory, business cycle research, and comparative institutional analysis, [Mises] was an unyielding advocate of individual liberty who understood like no one before him the ideas and practices necessary to secure the fruits of Western civilization. Mises asked the average citizen to learn the basic principles of economic science and remember them while voting at the ballot box. He knew that the blessings of economic freedom are available only in societies in which the government doesn’t sabotage the market.”

Ludwig von Mises: Hero of Liberty, by Robert P. Murphy (The Daily Caller, 9/29/15)

Ludwig von Mises: Scholar of Free Markets and Prophet of Liberty, by Robert P. Murphy (American Thinker, 9/30/15)

Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action, by Robert P. Murphy

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2) Pope Francis’s Unintended Lessons

Former Buenos Aires nightclub bouncer Jorge Mario Bergoglio—better known as Pope Francis—made a huge splash when he landed in the United States last month. Unfortunately, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, the Pope’s visit took media attention away from events having potentially huge ramifications for U.S. foreign policy: Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington, and Vladimir Putin’s strengthening of ties to Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Independent Senior Fellow John C. Goodman also noted ties between the recent travels of His Holiness and world events.

Pope Francis’s trip to Cuba, which preceded the visit to New York and Philadelphia, serves as a reminder that Marxism-Leninism is all but defunct as a governing philosophy on the world stage (with only Havana and Pyongyang still drinking the Communist Kool-Aid). It also reminds us that the United States, despite its decline in economic liberty (a recent study ranked the U.S. as only the 16th freest economy), is still the symbolic world leader of free enterprise. Unfortunately, according to Goodman, Pope Francis’s speeches and writings reveal a failure to understand how economic liberty fosters prosperity for all by harnessing the power of self-interest to promote the welfare of others.

“I’m aware that on the Pontiff’s way to Washington, the Vatican let it be known that ‘the Pope is not a liberal,’” Goodman writes. “I am also aware that the wording in encyclicals is often produced by the jockeying and maneuvering of insiders who want to see their favorite idea or phrase blessed by the Holy Father in print. Still, the world would be so much better off if Rome would pay better attention to science—both the science of economics and the science of climate.”

Capitalism, Socialism, and the Pope, by John C. Goodman (Townhall, 9/26/15)

During Pope’s Visit, We Got Distracted from Important Policy Changes, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 9/28/15)

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3) GOP Lawmakers Should Ditch Bogus Health Proposal

Republican politicians have long claimed that high premiums for health insurance would fall dramatically if federal law allowed insurance companies to sell the same coverage across state lines. However, in his latest op-ed for The Hill, Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham argues that is false; the “selling insurance across state lines” notion is a red herring that contradicts logic and experience.

Five years ago, Graham explains, Georgia “sacrificed its sovereignty to regulate health insurance, but premiums didn’t change.” To understand why, consider car insurance. “If you move from one state to another, you call your insurer, tell the customer service rep your new ZIP code, and that is that,” Graham continues. “You may get a small adjustment in your premium, but it will be no big deal. And yet, there was no Act of Congress that mandated selling auto insurance across state lines. Auto insurance is regulated entirely by states.”

Instead of touting a health insurance proposal that is based on a grave misconception, Republicans in Congress should push for one that is supported by common sense: “Stop the tax code’s discrimination against individually owned health insurance,” Graham writes. “Until they embrace the principle that every American should be free to choose his own health plan, and not have to rely on one chosen by his employer, the Republicans will continue to stumble on the path of real health reform.”

Health Insurance Across State Lines, by John R. Graham (The Hill, 10/1/15)

A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman

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4) Are Ride-Sharing Critics Taking Us for a Ride?

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have disrupted the transportation market almost as drastically as Henry Ford’s Model T disrupted the horse and buggy industry. Well, not quite. But sometimes it seems like this is the story told by supporters of traditional taxicabs. In an op-ed for Newsday, Independent Institute Research Fellow Abby R. Hall defends the young innovators.

One battle facing ride-sharing is the claim that drivers for Uber and Lyft have not been properly screened. Wrong, Hall replies: “First, drivers must undergo full background checks by Uber; their backgrounds and driving records are monitored continually during their time as Uber drivers. Second, Uber drivers are insured, with more than $1 million of liability coverage per incident, $1 million of bodily injury coverage, and collision insurance. Uber’s insurance even covers accidents caused by uninsured drivers.”

This raises an obvious question: “If it’s not safety that’s driving the backlash against Uber, why are so many local and state agencies looking to ban or severely restrict the company? It’s all about politics.”

Politics, Not Safety, is Behind Uber Backlash, by Abigail R. Hall (Newsday, 9/20/15)

Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads, edited by Gabriel Roth

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Which State Is the Worst Off Because of Debt?
Craig Eyermann (10/5/15)

What’s Your Share of Your State’s Debt?
Craig Eyermann (10/1/15)

Class-Action Lawsuit Targets Taxpayers
K. Lloyd Billingsley (9/30/15)

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website here and blog here.

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6) Selected News Alerts

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  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org