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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 17, Issue 47: November 24, 2015

  1. Judge Napolitano Gives Verdict on Robert Higgs's Books
  2. Bill Gates, Climate Activism, and Wishful Thinking
  3. Time Is Money—and Even More in Healthcare
  4. Manifestos Against Tyranny: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts



1) Judge Napolitano Gives Verdict on Robert Higgs's Books

Andrew P. Napolitano is one of the most influential champions of freedom in America today. Whether in his bestselling books, on television, or in the hallowed halls of the judiciary, Judge Napolitano has worked tirelessly and effectively to defend the rights of the individual from the abuses of the state. So it helps to know who he respects and admires. Here’s what the good judge has to say about Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs, taken from the foreword to Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy:

“In the annals of academic fidelity to the Jeffersonian ideal that government is best which governs least, no one commands and deserves more respect than Dr. Robert Higgs. Bob’s masterpiece, Crisis and Leviathan, remains the standard scholarly critique of the growth of the federal government from the Roosevelt/Wilson to the Carter/Reagan years. In his new book, Taking a Stand, come similar arguments, but often in a non-academic vein. Be prepared for Bob with his hair let down; for here are essays that show a whimsical, introspective, and personal Bob Higgs.”

Judge Napolitano also lets his own hair down, with this poignant confession: “In my own television and academic work, I have attempted to use Bob’s fidelity to first principles as a model. I have not always succeeded. Yet, what a joy it has been for me to see that fidelity from a different angle; one just as faithful and beautiful, yet bound to create additional admiration for a good and fearless man’s mind and work that I love so much.”

Read Judge Napolitano’s Foreword to Taking a Stand.

Read the book summary.

Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy, by Robert Higgs

Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (25th Anniversary Edition), by Robert Higgs

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2) Bill Gates, Climate Activism, and Wishful Thinking

Bill Gates may know a lot about running a software company, but when it comes to understanding how governments operate, well, let’s just say that not all the glitches have been worked out. Case in point: In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Gates extols the virtues of carbon taxes and other “sticks” of climate activism. Gates also extols “carrots” such as subsidies for low-carbon energy research and development—because, he claims, government sets the gold standard for R&D. But this claim can be quickly cast aside, according to Independent Institute Research Director William F. Shughart II.

“Even a blind squirrel eventually finds an acorn, so it is not surprising that throwing tons of money at government-sponsored research projects sometimes pays off,” Shughart writes.

Moreover, “most of the major inventions of the past 150 years have originated not from scientific advances or from taxpayer-financed R&D, but from the private sector’s engineering departments and shop floors as people on the ground encountered and solved practical production problems.” The software titan’s nonsense about technology history, according to Shughart, reflects a bigger problem: “Although Mr. Gates deserves applause for putting his own money where his mouth is, he is mendacious in maligning the economic system that made him the richest man on the planet.”

Bill Gates on Climate Policy: More Hot Air, by William F. Shughart II (The Daily Caller, 11/13/15)

Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination, ed. by William F. Shughart II

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3) Time Is Money—and Even More in Healthcare

Money is the most talked-about barrier to healthcare in the United States. But one of the least talked about—at least by its technical name—is often an even greater hindrance: rationing by waiting. In an important column in Forbes, Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman offers a primer on what everyone wants to know about rationing by waiting but is too afraid to ask.

A recent survey by Merritt Hawkins, the nation’s leading physician research and consulting firm, found that the waiting time to see a primary care doctor in the United States is almost three weeks—and more than two months in Boston. Waiting times are getting longer, too. The most important reason is government policy: For decades, the federal government has suppressed the price system, both directly, through administered pricing, and indirectly, through the third-party payer maze. “When you suppress prices, you elevate the importance of non-price barriers,” Goodman writes.

The consequences of price suppression—the scope of the non-price barriers to good healthcare—are felt throughout the healthcare system. “How long does it take you to make an appointment with a doctor? How many days or weeks must you wait before the visit takes place? How long does it take to get from your home or place of work to the doctor’s office and back again? How long do you have to wait once you get there? These are all non-price or non-market barriers to care,” Goodman continues. “And there is ample evidence that even for the poor these barriers are more important obstacles to care than the fee the doctor charges.”

What Everyone Should Know about Rationing by Waiting, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 11/9/15)

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) Manifestos Against Tyranny: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

November marks 217 years since the State of Kentucky adopted a resolution declaring the Alien and Sedition Acts “unauthoritative, void, and of no force.” A month after the Bluegrass State passed its manifesto of protest in 1798, Virginia would follow suit. Why all the fuss? Americans feared that the nation would soon be at war with France, and the Alien and Sedition Acts were enacted to give President John Adams unprecedented power to lock up or deport critics of his pro-war stance. As Independent Institute Research Fellow William J. Watkins explains, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were essential weapons in the fight for free speech and civil liberties—and they worked.

The Resolutions helped remind voters that President Adams and his congressional allies had no constitutional authority to restrict their liberties. “At first the American people applauded the Alien and Sedition Acts, but in the elections of 1800 they threw out of office many lawmakers who had voted for them,” Watkins writes. “Jefferson was elected to the presidency, and he suspended all prosecutions brought under these shameful measures. This so-called ‘Revolution of 1800’ brought the crisis of the Alien and Sedition Acts to a close.”

The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were early instances of nullification. They affirmed certain broad principles—including the sanctity of the Constitution, and the Founders’ understanding of the sovereignty of the people—which put the Resolutions in a fundamentally different category than most civil protests. By this standard, you can’t call it nullification when a county clerk defies a federal law, a city council rebukes national immigration policies, or a state government legalizes a controlled substance banned under federal law. In such instances, Watkins writes, “individuals, officials, and states are protesting federal laws and policies, but there has been no nullification.”

Nullification and the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, by William J. Watkins Jr. (American Thinker, 11/18/15)

Reclaiming the American Revolution: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Their Legacy, by William J. Watkins Jr.

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

State Department Becomes a Wasteland
K. Lloyd Billingsley (11/23/15)

U.S. Postal Service: Money Losing Monopoly
Craig Eyermann (11/21/15)

National Debt Is Money We Owe Ourselves?
Craig Eyermann (11/18/15)

Statist Superstition Mounts a Surge
K. Lloyd Billingsley (11/18/15)

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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