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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 18, Issue 7: February 16, 2016

  1. Justice Scalia and the Constitution
  2. Despite Flaws, Trump and Sanders Offer Some Foreign-Policy Insights
  3. The Budget to Serfdom, by Barack Obama
  4. The Attack on Student Internships
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts



1) Justice Scalia and the Constitution

Love him or hate him, the late Antonin Scalia (1936–2016) was one of the most quotable justices to have served on the U.S. Supreme Court, especially during oral arguments, when he left his mark with memorable terms such as “pure applesauce” and “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” More than that, of course, he was the modern Court’s most articulate critic of a “Living Constitution”—the doctrine that the supreme law of the land has a dynamic meaning that must be interpreted in the light of an ever-changing societal context. In the wake of his passing on Saturday, here is how Independent Institute Research Fellow William J. Watkins, Jr., characterizes Scalia’s view:

Scalia opposed this doctrine on ‘originalist’ grounds that the Constitution is intentionally difficult to amend in order to protect fundamental liberties and the balance of power between the states and the nation,” Watkins writes in The Daily Caller.

What irked the sharp-tongued Scalia more than anything else was when he believed judges had invoked the “Living Constitution” doctrine—in the name of “social progress”—to usurp what is rightfully the prerogative of lawmakers and voters. “He did not oppose change in an orderly, constitutional manner and did not fear change,” Watkins continues. “His real fear was not that the Living Constitution crowd would facilitate social change, but that they would seek to prevent it.”

Without Antonin Scalia, What Now for the Constitution?, by William J. Watkins, Jr. (The Daily Caller, 2/15/16)

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

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2) Despite Flaws, Trump and Sanders Offer Some Foreign-Policy Insights

Presidents should be judged by their policies and faithfulness to the Constitution, not their personalities, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland has argued in Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty. The same standard can be applied to presidential hopefuls. In his latest op-ed for the Huffington Post, Eland looks at how close (or far) some contenders for the Oval Office stand from one of his key evaluative pillars: peace.

Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported the U.S. overthrow of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi—a clear instance of horrible judgement, according to Eland. Gaddafi, despite his dictatorial rule, at least kept Libya from the nationwide chaos that has enabled terrorists to claim much of the country. Like Clinton, Senator Marco Rubio pays lip service to the notion that the United States should not be the world’s policeman, yet he and Clinton have supported “repeated and usually counterproductive military meddling in the affairs of other countries,” Eland writes. Contrast this rashness with the views of the leading mavericks, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Although they offer domestic policies that many rightly see as antithetical to freedom and prosperity, their judgements on U.S. military involvement overseas have, in some cases, tremendous merit. Trump has criticized Clinton’s hawkish stance on Libya (as well as President Bush’s ill-fated decision to oust Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq), and he has urged that the U.S. government avoid a risky confrontation with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Instead, Trump calls for pressuring China to rein him in—a view Sanders shares. Thus, in these and a few other cases, Trump and Sanders “seem to intuitively recognize that it’s much less expensive in American blood and money for the United States to abandon its role of ‘Big Man on Campus’ and let local powers deal with some of the problems that affect their regions,” Eland writes. This doesn’t mean that either Trump or Sanders has a flawless foreign policy, of course, but it does illustrate an important maxim: As Eland paraphrases Sanders, “Foreign policy experience counts for little if judgement is absent.”

Presidential Candidates: No Prior Foreign Policy Experience Preferred, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 2/8/16)

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

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3) The Budget to Serfdom, by Barack Obama

Now that President Obama has released his final budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2017, it’s more clear than ever what he wishes for American taxpayers: federal dependency. Independent Institute Research Fellow Craig Eyermann, director of the Government Cost Calculator at MyGovCost, explains:

“President Obama really wants to be known for permanently increasing the U.S. government’s spending by one trillion dollars—a 33 percent increase over the levels of his predecessor.” The larger the federal feeding trough, the harder to break the tax-and-spend compulsion.

The evidence of Obama’s historic feat is Eyermann’s eye-opening chart. What began as a massive budget of $3 trillion in his first year in office will morph—by the president’s own projection—into an even more massive $4 trillion budget in Fiscal Year 2022. To escape from debt bondage, taxpayers must somehow climb a mountain even taller than we had at first feared.

The Obama Spending Past and Future, by Craig Eyermann (MyGovCost News & Blog, 2/10/16

What will federal spending cost you? Find out at MyGovCost.org.

Love Gov: From First Date to Mandate

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4) The Attack on Student Internships

A movement is afoot to outlaw unpaid internships. Whatever they hope to accomplish, supporters of such a prohibition would be harming, not helping, young people early in their careers, as Independent Institute Research Fellow Abigail R. Hall Blanco and Jennifer Schneible explain in a recent op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“While those who deem unpaid internships immoral and exploitative may be well-intentioned, they fail to understand basic economics,” Hall Blanco and Schneible write. “Interns expect to benefit significantly from their experiences even if unpaid—or they wouldn’t take the positions.”

Hall Blanco and Schneible offer several reasons why prohibiting unpaid internships is a bad idea: Many would-be interns would miss the opportunity to gain valuable work experience. With fewer (and only paid) internships available, and far more applicants than internships available, employers would find it less expensive to indulge in any discriminatory preferences they may harbor. Also, compensation at paid internships would fall. In addition, prohibition could also foster a black market in unpaid internships, and “actually make it easier for companies to exploit young people.” Hall Blanco and Schneible write. “We should think carefully before taking such a valuable learning tool away from students.”

Why We Shouldn’t Outlaw ‘Unpaid’ Internships, by Abigail R. Hall Blanco and Jennifer Schneible (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/8/16)

Learn about Independent Institute’s “Learning to Lead Internship Program.”

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

The Obama Spending Past and Future
Craig Eyermann (2/10/16)

Government Give and Take is Mostly One-Way
K. Lloyd Billingsley (2/9/16)

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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