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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 17, Issue 46: November 17, 2015

  1. Love Gov Wins Film Festival Award
  2. Housing Measures Leave Costly Restrictions in Place
  3. Jerry Brown’s Costly Symbolism for Climate Activism
  4. France, Terrorism, and the Road Ahead
  5. Job Opportunity: Student Programs Manager
  6. New Blog Posts
  7. Selected News Alerts



1) Love Gov Wins Film Festival Award

Have you heard the exciting news? Love Gov—Independent Institute’s first online video series—won the top prize Thursday at the 2015 Lights, Camera, Liberty Film Festival!

“We are absolutely thrilled to have won the 2015 Lights, Camera, Liberty Film Festival Award,” said David J. Theroux, the president and founder of Independent. “Our in-house team and our partner organization, Emergent Order, worked very hard to make Love Gov such a hugely popular and effective video series about government folly, and we are deeply honored that Atlas Network has recognized everyone involved in this accomplishment.”

We’re also honored that Love Gov was a Finalist for the 2015 Reason Video Prize. These professional accolades mean a lot to us. They tell us that people who’ve thought long and hard about how to promote liberty think we’re on the right track. But we’re even more proud that Love Gov has won a huge audience: It’s racked up more than 1.8 million total views on YouTube since its July 6 release. Clearly the story and its message are resonating with many, many Millennials. We would love to keep spreading the message. If you haven’t done so yet, please help us by watching Love Gov and sharing it on Facebook and Twitter. And if you’d like to help us make additional episodes—or even another series, please help us by making a tax-deductible donation.

Love Gov: From First Date to Mandate

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2) Housing Measures Leave Costly Restrictions in Place

San Francisco has the priciest housing market in the United States. Not surprisingly, in this month’s elections voters faced more than one ballot measure on housing. Fortunately, they defeated the worst, Proposition I, an 18-month moratorium on the construction of market-rate housing in the Mission District, and Proposition F, a measure that would have restricted short-term rentals à la Airbnb. Voters did pass two propositions intended to increase affordable housing, but those measures don’t deal with the underlying problem: government policies have prevented the housing supply from keeping up with growing demand.

“There just were no ballot initiatives aimed at cutting back the restrictions that have made the city, and much of the Bay Area, unaffordable for many Americans,” Independent Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin Powell writes. “Government restrictions on new home building to preserve open space and limit density simultaneously drive up housing prices and make the region unaffordable for many people.”

As for Proposition F, the defeated anti-Airbnb initiative, the hotel lobby failed to rally enough supporters to overcome the huge number of homeowners (and their friends and allies) who have benefited from renting out their homes. This time the special interests were not able to restrict supply for their own advantage. Airbnb (like Uber and Lyft) is using modern technology to bring together supply and demand in a new and powerful way. “Modern technology is eliminating all those barriers to mutually profitable exchanges,” as Independent Institute Senior John C. Goodman puts it. Of course, tearing down and keeping away the regulatory barriers to economic progress requires something more: eternal vigilance.

Increase Housing Supply To Increase Affordability, by Benjamin W. Powell (The Daily Caller, 11/6/15)

Is Your Home Your Castle? You Wish, by John C. Goodman (Townhall, 11/7/15)

Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis, edited by Randall G. Holcombe and Benjamin W. Powell

House Poor,” Episode 4 of Love Gov

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3) Jerry Brown’s Costly Symbolism for Climate Activism

As we’ve been saying since June, when we published California Dreaming by Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan, the Golden State is facing a massive public-pension shortfall that will be covered with higher taxes and painful cutbacks in public services. Despite the fiscal disaster, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 185, a bill requiring state public pension funds to dump all their holdings of coal stocks—resulting in huge capital losses for the funds.

“Political correctness on so-called climate change thus imposes a cost on current and future public employees and taxpayers,” writes Independent Institute Research Director William F. Shughart II in an op-ed published in the San Jose Mercury News and elsewhere. “California’s symbolic action will have little or no impact on coal companies themselves, though, because other investors will buy the stocks CalPERS and CalSTRS dump at fire-sale prices.”

Activists prize the symbolism of divestment, but California’s public pension plans have paid a heavy price for it over the years. One estimate puts the total capital loss from various politically correct divestments at $4 billion to $8 billion. Shughart writes: “That estimate, if accurate, should drive angry pensioners and taxpayers into the street demanding that state officials rescind their precipitous action on SB 185, which adds to the total loss.”

Symbolic Gesture on Coal Will Ding California Pension Funds, by William F. Shughart II (San Jose Mercury News, 11/2/15)

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

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4) France, Terrorism, and the Road Ahead

The American people have paid a tremendous price for the U.S. military response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks—far higher in blood and treasure than anyone in the White House or Congress had estimated. It took the benefit of hindsight for many to realize that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were unnecessary and, in many respects, counterproductive. Will the French people, in the aftermath of the barbaric shootings and bombings of Friday the 13th, follow a similar path? In his latest piece for the Huffington Post, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland urges them to take a different route.

France would do well to heed the advice of Napoleon, when the little tyrant recommended that his military commanders try to think like their enemy. If President Hollande does this, Eland argues, he might discover how to stop domestic terrorism once and for all. If he does not—if he responds with a full-scale military retaliation with heavy collateral damage—the Paris attacks might mark the early stages of a long cycle of terrorist attacks and counterattacks.

“[Muslim terrorists] are attacking the Western world powers to stop them from meddling in their lives, which is unnecessary anyway,” Eland writes. To stop the terrorists, the best approach may be for the Western coalition to withdraw from Iraq and Syria. This tactical forbearance, Eland argues, “would force Muslim Turkey to step up and send its large and capable army into both countries to clean out ISIS, thus avoiding the anti-Western backlash of ineffective and counterproductive Western bombing there.”

The Endless Cycle of Terrorism, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 11/16/15)

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty (Updated Edition), by Ivan Eland

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5) Job Opportunity: Student Programs Manager

Independent Institute is currently seeking a Student Programs Manager to develop and oversee our summer seminars, internships, and other student programs. The ideal candidate is a self-starter who loves working with college students. For listings of this and other job opportunities, please visit our Employment Opportunities page.

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6) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Cops Go Easy on Ruling Class
K. Lloyd Billingsley (11/16/15)

VA Executives Plead the Fifth
Craig Eyermann (11/13/15)

Coastal Commission Power Surge
K. Lloyd Billingsley (11/11/15)

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

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7) Selected News Alerts

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