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Volume 17, Issue 42: October 20, 2015

  1. California’s Pension Tsunami: Lessons for New York
  2. Ben Carson and Nazi Gun Control
  3. On Regulation, Krugman Is a Denialist
  4. Millennials versus Government Spying
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts



1) California’s Pension Tsunami: Lessons for New York

The State of New York is racing toward a fiscal cliff. Politicians promised their public employees lavish pension benefits, but they failed to ensure that sufficient funds were set aside to make good on those promises. The result: $15,000 of pension debt for every resident. The outlook is desperate, but not hopeless. There is still time to avert disaster, but unless the right steps are taken, New Yorkers will face massive tax hikes and/or service cutbacks, explains Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan, author of California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis in an op-ed for the New York Post.

New Yorkers can get a glimpse of what awaits by looking westward. In California, an even larger public pension crisis is on the horizon. Already cities have been forced to cut back on public services due to pension shortfalls, McQuillan notes. In San Jose, the third-largest city in the Golden State, police staffing was cut 20 percent because budgets skyrocketed nearly 50 percent in the past decade. “I am cutting services to my low- and moderate-income people...to pay really generous benefits for public employees,” former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed told the Washington Post last year.

Reed is now spearheading a ballot initiative he believes would tame California’s public pension beast. In essence it would replace the state’s defined-benefit retirement plans with fully funded, 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans. “The savings from switching to 401(k)s would allow current pension debts to be paid off quickly,” McQuillan writes. “For California, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere, it’s a vital step toward sparing future generations the pension pain too many schools and communities are feeling today.”

When Pensions Implode: Silicon Valley’s Lesson for New York, by Lawrence J. McQuillan (New York Post, 10/11/15)

California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis, by Lawrence J. McQuillan

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2) Ben Carson and Nazi Gun Control

Ben Carson, who trails only Donald Trump in popularity among Republican voters eyeing a field of 15 presidential candidates, became the target of liberal invective last week when he defended a passage about Jews and the Holocaust he had written in a campaign book. Had the Nazis not robbed them of their firearms, the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust “would have been greatly diminished,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Despite receiving scorn and ridicule, Carson’s comments are supported by historical evidence, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Stephen P. Halbrook, author of Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”—a book that Steven B. Bowman, professor of Judaic Studies at University of Cincinnati and Miles Lerner Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, calls “excellent and deeply researched.”

“In 1938, Hitler signed a new Gun Control Act,” Halbrook writes in an op-ed for Investors’ Business Daily. “Jews were prohibited from the firearms industry. The time had come to launch a decisive blow to the Jewish community in order to render it defenseless so that its ‘ill-gotten’ property could be redistributed as an entitlement to the German ‘Volk.’ German Jews were ordered to surrender all weapons, and the police had the records on all who had registered them.”

Germany’s gun registration laws did not begin with Hitler, Halbrook explains. They began under the Weimar Republic, in 1931, when officials discovered the Nazis’ plans to withhold food from Jews and to execute those who failed to surrender their guns within 24 hours after the National Socialists took over. “The plans were the handiwork of Hitler lieutenant Werner Best, a future top Gestapo official,” Halbrook writes. “In reaction, the government authorized the registration of all firearms and the confiscation thereof, if required for ‘public safety.’ The Interior Minister warned that the records must not fall into the hands of any extremist group.”

Yes, Nazis Disarming Jews Did Make a Difference, by Stephen P. Halbrook (Investor’s Business Daily, 10/15/15)

Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State,” by Stephen P. Halbrook

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3) On Regulation, Krugman Is a Denialist

Paul Krugman’s work on trade theory and economic geography earned him a Nobel Prize in 2008. But the once-distinguished economist has all but renounced the economics profession, judging by his columns in the New York Times. “All too often they present viewpoints that are the opposite of what economists know,” Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman writes in Forbes.

Krugman’s self-exile from the economics discipline is particularly evident in his columns about government regulation of businesses. After GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush penned a sorrow-filled Wall Street Journal op-ed, lamenting the surge of job-killing regulations enacted under Barack Obama (“an additional 443 million hours of paperwork each year for Americans,” Bush wrote), Krugman criticized the former Florida governor but never addressed his charges against the regulatory state. Yet scholarly studies on the ill effects of government regulation are part and parcel of the economics profession.

Goodman sites numerous studies about government regulation that run exactly opposite of the Krugman narrative. They find, for example, that federal occupational health and safety laws have had little or no impact on worker safety; that the 1964 Civil Rights Act has no measurable impact on the relative wages of black and white workers; that federal regulations for many industries were originally advanced by businesses that stood to gain from them; and that even mundane-sounding occupational licensing requirements were usually pushed through by people who sought to exclude new rivals from the marketplace. How strong is the evidence on licensing laws? “Even the Obama White House has signaled the alarm,” Goodman writes.

Jeb Bush vs. Paul Krugman: What Do Economists Know About Regulation?, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 9/28/15)

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) Millennials versus Government Spying

Will Americans put an end to mass government surveillance? A recent poll by Harvard offers hope. The survey found that more than 70 percent of those born between 1980 and 2000 oppose the surveillance state—even if the purpose is to combat terrorism. Independent Institute Research Fellow Abigail R. Hall, who teaches economics at the University of Tampa, finds additional hope in her own classrooms.

Although she teaches them how to think about public-policy issues methodically and efficiently, Millennials, Hall writes, “seem to ask [the right questions] almost intuitively”—and for the right reasons. Her students’ “low confidence in every branch of government reflects the fact that public policies not only fail to achieve their stated objectives, but directly undermine what matters to them most.”

Why does the Millennial Generation resist the surveillance juggernaut while older Americans often accept it as the rightful duty of their servants in Washington? “Growing up immersed in technology, [Millennials] seem more immune than their elders to cyber scare tactics. Maybe it’s because they are a generation of digital natives. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear. Millennials won’t let people—in the government or otherwise—step on their toes without justification. Whatever your age, that’s an admirable quality.”

Millennials Don’t Trust Uncle Sam, and That’s Good, by Abigail R. Hall (The Orange County Register, 10/1/15)

“Keeping a Close Eye on Privacy”—Episode 5 of Love Gov: From First Date to Mandate.

Video: “Civil Liberties and Security in an Age of Terrorism,” featuring Anthony Gregory, Robert Higgs, and Mary L. G Theroux (Independent Institute, 7/18/13)

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Illinois “Technically Defaults” on Debt
Craig Eyermann (10/19/15)

More Taxpayer Money for Nothing
K. Lloyd Billingsley (10/16/15)

Central Banks Dumping U.S. Government Debt
Craig Eyermann (10/15/15)

GovPensions.Con
K. Lloyd Billingsley (10/13/15)

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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