Volume 12, Issue 44: November 2, 2010
- Chinese Freedom Activist Honored with Nobel Peace Prize
- Citizen-Soldiers and the Political Cost of Military Adventurism
- Freeze Pentagon Spending
- The Independent Institute Wins Templeton Freedom Award
- This Week in The Beacon
1) Chinese Freedom Activist Honored with Nobel Peace Prize
Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese freedom activist and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, merits as much moral support as freedom-loving people can summon.
Sentenced to 11 years for signing Charter 08, a document that calls for human rights, multiparty democracy, freedom of expression, and an independent judiciaryi.e., inciting subversion of state powerthe writer and dissident is only one of the most visible victims of Beijings oppressive rule. Surely many of his compatriots will follow his example.
In his latest column for the Washington Post Writers Group, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa offers a message of hope: As former Czech President Vaclav Havel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa wrote in a recent article on this years Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu and the Chinese people will win their freedom. Eventually.
Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
2) Citizen-Soldiers and the Political Cost of Military Adventurism
After the Vietnam war, the U.S. military moved to put Army Reserve and the Army National Guard units into key support functions while on active duty. The hope was that the prospect of sending part-time reservists into a war zone would make politicians less inclined toward military adventurism. It hasnt worked out that way, however, perhaps because civilians and politicians dont perceive the jobs undertaken by the reserveslogistics and civil affairs, for exampleto be as risky as those of combat troops.
Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland proposes a remedy that maintains the spirit of the militarys original idea while avoiding the injustice of the draft: convert some active units to reserves. Thus, the reserves would still be made up of citizen-soldiers, albeit ones with more combat experience. And when the reservists are called to war, the public would understand that those citizen-soldiers could find themselves in harms way.
Populating the reserves with former combat troops would make it politically less enticing to send the citizen-soldiers into the battlefield. Eland explains: Thus, a much smaller active ground force should deter politicians from using the Army and Marines in dubious brushfire wars, while retaining the capacity to mobilize heavier combat forces in cases of national emergency and, all the while, increasing the ranks of citizen-soldiers without reinstating the draft.
Expand the Role of the Citizen-Soldier Without a Draft, by Ivan Eland (10/27/10) Spanish Translation
Video: Ivan Eland on U.S. Embargo of Cuba (Russia Today, 10/21/10)
Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, by Ivan Eland
The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland
3) Freeze Pentagon Spending
About half of the $2 trillion increase in defense spending since 9/11 has gone to programs unrelated to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but you wouldnt know this if you only looked at the size of the armed services: most of them have shrunk significantly. In response to the wasteful profligacy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced that hes shutting off the gusher of defense spending. But even with his alleged thriftiness, defense spending is projected to grow 33 percent over the next decade. So much for reform.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a member of the Presidents Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has proposed a measure that could lead to meaningful change: freeze defense spending until the Pentagon passes a comprehensive audit. Winslow T. Wheeler, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, calls this a step in the right direction.
The advocates of big DOD [Department of Defense] spending are likely to howl, writes Wheeler. But holding the DOD budget at the 2010 level for 10 years is a $900 billion increase over the pre-war, 2000 spending level (adjusted for inflation). And it still remains a multiple of the defense budgets of China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran combined.
How Many More Trillion$ for Defense? by Winslow T. Wheeler (Politico.com, 10/25/10)
What does defense spending cost you? Find out at
4) The Independent Institute Wins Templeton Freedom Award
The Atlas Economic Research Foundation has bestowed the 2010 Templeton Freedom Award on the Independent Institute book, Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, for its contributions to free-market solutions to poverty. The award is accompanied by a $10,000 grant.
In its announcement of the award, the foundation said the book uncovers compelling evidence of the entrepreneurial energy that is the true catalyst of economic progress.... The story-telling style of the book and its effective way of connecting with the general public increases its appeal.
Published by the Independent Institute in 2008, Lessons from the Poor presents inspiring and insightful case studies of thriving enterprises in Africa and South America: a Peruvian soft-drink manufacturer that survived an armed guerilla movement and competition from Coca-Cola; a leading textile company, also in Peru, founded by a man who began by selling tee-shirts at a car wash; an award-winning supermarket chain in Kenya that started out by selling blankets and mattresses; Nigerias 5,000 self-employed clothing designers, whose bottom quintile earns on average more than civil servants; and Argentinas barter clubs, an unintended by-product of the governments mismanagement of the money supply.
Press Release: The Independent Institute Receives 2010 Templeton Freedom Award (10/25/10)
Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
5) This Week in The Beacon
Stay informed. Get heard. Read and comment on the Independent Institute blog.
- U.S. Intelligence Spending: A Whale of a Bad Joke, by Robert Higgs (11/1/10)
- Faith-based Stooges for the State, by Mary Theroux (10/31/10)
- American Pie Altered to Lament My Life and Times as an Economist, by Robert Higgs (10/31/10)
- Conservatives and the Trap of Liberalism Lite, by James L. Payne (10/30/10)
- The Very Strange Race for Floridas U.S. Senate Seat, by Randall Holcombe (10/29/10)
- Do You Have a Permit for That Birthday Cake? by Mary Theroux (10/28/10)
- Another Fabricated Terror Threat, by Anthony Gregory (10/27/10)
- Scholars Shed Light on Enviro-Econ Wars, by Carl Close (10/25/10)