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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 13, Issue 1: January 4, 2011

  1. The Attack on Happy Meals
  2. The Climate Change Fallacy
  3. Nuclear Treaty Will Improve U.S. Security
  4. Latin America: Pivotal Year Ahead
  5. New Blog Posts

1) The Attack on Happy Meals

In November, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors overrode Mayor Gavin Newsom’s veto of a proposal to ban Happy Meals toys at McDonald’s restaurants. The supes decided that plastic figurines featuring the likenesses of Ronald McDonald, the Hamburglar and company encourage kids to over consume junk food and therefore put children’s health at risk. Santa Clara County—the home of Silicon Valley—has also acted to drive the demon toys from the vile Temple of the Golden Arches. Independent Institute Research Analyst Anthony Gregory responds.

“If governments think there is a health epidemic, officials should end corn subsidies, which distort the American diet for the worse, address the horrible school lunch programs, and rethink having kids sit in classrooms seven hours each weekday,” Gregory writes in a piece for BusinessWeek’s website.

“What’s next? Officials are already taxing lemonade stands, spying on students through their laptops, purging images of tobacco from classic cartoons, and persecuting pupils for drawing pictures of weapons and bringing aspirin to class. Sorry kids, the war on fun appears to have no end.”

“Happy Meal Ban: A Sad Day for the U.S.A.,” by Anthony Gregory (BusinessWeek, 12/28/10)

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2) The Climate Change Fallacy

Climate models may be all we possess to establish a causal linkage between human activity and the global warming that has occurred since 1900, but those models are deeply flawed, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer. For starters, the models’ predictions are all over the place—ranging from temperature increases of 1.4 to 11.5 degrees Celsius from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide—and no one call tell us which model is most accurate.

In addition, not one of the 20 or so greenhouse models that predict global warming explain the observed cooling that occurred from 1940 to 1975—not without using ad hoc assumptions, Singer argues. And none explains temperature trends at different latitudes and altitudes.

If the science supporting man-made global warming is weak, the policies put forth to deal with climate change are even weaker. The Kyoto Protocol, which was never ratified by the United States and is set to expire in 2012, was supposed to cut the estimated rise in temperature for 2050 by only 0.05 Celsius—one twentieth of one degree. Singer writes: “Programs and policies associated with Kyoto should therefore be scrapped—including uneconomic alternative-energy sources, carbon-capture-and-sequestration efforts, and costly emission-trading schemes. All of these schemes waste money and squander scarce resources without in any way impacting on the climate.”

“No Proof Man Causes Global Warming,” by S. Fred Singer (The Washington Times, 12/28/10)

“The Cancun Climate Capers,” by S. Fred Singer (American Thinker, 11/29/10)

New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn’t Telling Us, by S. Fred Singer, John R. Christy, Robert E. Davis, David R. Legates, and Wendy M. Novicoff

Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer

“Rolling the DICE: William Nordhaus’s Dubious Case for a Carbon Tax,” by Robert P. Murphy (The Independent Review, Fall 2009)

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3) Nuclear Treaty Will Improve U.S. Security

The U.S. Senate ratified a new arms-reduction treaty with Russia on December 22. (The accord now awaits passage by the Russian national assembly.) One argument implied by treaty opponents was that by reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the security of allies long protected by American nukes would be significantly weakened. In contrast, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland argues that a broad nuclear umbrella harms U.S. national security: it increases the likelihood that the country will be pulled into a nuclear conflict.

Although that danger was present when the United States extended its nuclear umbrella over Western Europe, it continued after the end of the Cold War, especially in the Middle East, where U.S. protection is believed to cover Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and perhaps Israel. “Extending the U.S. nuclear shield to the much more unstable and violent region of the Middle East seems supremely foolhardy,” Eland writes in his latest op-ed. “The U.S. could more easily get dragged into an unplanned and unneeded future nuclear exchange there than in any other area of the world.”

Eland argues that the United States should let its allies provide for their own nuclear security, rather than risk a nuclear attack against the U.S. homeland. “No adverse overseas development is worth deterring—during the Cold War or after it—if the price is incineration of the U.S. home territory.”

“Extending Nuclear Umbrella Is a Bad Idea,” by Ivan Eland (12/29/10)

Video: Ivan Eland on Russia, Wikileaks, and the START Treaty (Al Jazeera “Inside Story,” 12/2/10)

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland

Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, by Ivan Eland

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4) Latin America: Pivotal Year Ahead

Latin America’s middle class made visible gains in 2010, as economic growth outpaced that of the United States and Europe. But the region’s underclass won’t make significant gains unless governments adopt economic liberalization and meaningful political reform, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa. In fact, the fate of the poor over the next several years may depend on political developments of the next twelve months in Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Venezuela.

Brazil’s incoming president, Dilma Rousseff, will help set the tone by deciding whether or not to push for liberalization and to discontinue Brazil’s anti-U.S. rhetoric. Peru’s voters will decide whether to maintain the policies that helped bring about a mighty 8 percent growth rate last year—or whether to support foes of economic liberalization on the left or the right. Argentina’s voters will decide whether to embrace the collective legacy of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner—or to adopt policies that would sustain the gains fostered by recent agricultural innovation and increased trade with Asia. And Venezuela’s new National Assembly will decide whether to stand up to Hugo Chavez’s intimidation and whom to select as an opposition candidate against Chavez’s party.

“These political dynamics give Latin America a chance to make the modernization process irreversible,” Vargas Llosa writes.

“Latin America, 2011,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (12/29/10) Spanish Translation

Lessons from the Poor: The Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost Blog:

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