The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute. Subscribe
now, or browse Back Issues
Volume 13, Issue 3: January 18, 2011
- Runaway Federal Spending the Reality for Nearly a Decade
- WikiLeaks and National Security
- Can Iraq Learn Anything from Sudan?
- Summer Programs for Students!
- New Blog Posts
1) Runaway Federal Spending the Reality for Nearly a Decade
From 1976 through 2001, Uncle Sam could have secured and maintained a balanced budget by cutting federal spending by $570.75 per household per year, according to Craig Eyermann, creator of the online Government Cost Calculator at MyGovCost.org. After 2001, however, government spending grew faster than median household income, and the deficit soared. By 2009, the feds would have had to slash spending by $8,991 per household to close the gap.
House Speaker John Boehner proposed reducing a significant part of federal spending to 2008 levels. That measure may sound bold, but it would be totally inadequate. Thats like a sedentary senior reducing his daily calorie intake from 5,500 to 4,500; its still way too much, writes Emily Skarbek, director of MyGovCost.org. Policymakers who call for raising the debt ceilingas has been done 70 times since World War Iare deluded if they believe doing so would result in a substantive improvement.
Like all gluttons struggling to reform, politicians and presidential advisers will provide plenty of excuses for increasing the debt limitjust this once, Skarbek writes in the Sacramento Bee. But if 70 previous increases werent enough, why will this increase be different?
Aim at the Zero Deficit Line, by Craig D. Eyermann (1/13/11)
Governments Obesity Crisis, by Emily C. Skarbek (The Sacramento Bee, 1/13/11)
Video: Emily Skarbek on U.S. Government Policies and Unemployment (International Press TV, 1/7/11)
2) WikiLeaks and National Security
The WikiLeaks controversy raises important questions. Heres one that the public may not have heard: Did the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks really warrant significant changes in the way that government analysts could access classified information? Army Private Bradley Manning was able to gain access to military and State Department computer networksand thereby allegedly leak top-secret military videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaksbecause intelligence-sharing guidelines were changed, after 9/11, from a narrow need to know basis to a much broader need to share basis.
This policy should be reformed so that highly sensitive information is pushed from one authorized and appropriate party to another, rather than pulled by whomever has obtained a top-secret clearance, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Charles Peña. But Peña cautions that reforming access to classified information would not solve the deeper problem that no one in the White House or in the congressional leadership will say publicly: many Muslims consider the stationing of U.S. military forces in Muslim countries to be an act of war.
Writes Peña: According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, WikiLeaks is an attack on Americas foreign policy interests. The sad truth is that U.S. foreign policy isnt necessarily in Americas best interests.
The Lessons of Private Manning and WikiLeaks, by Charles Peña (The Daily Caller, 1/11/11)
3) Can Iraq Learn Anything from Sudan?
Although the final vote tally is not scheduled for release until February 14, last weeks vote on secession for Southern Sudan offers hope for people who seek independence from a centralized government whose customs and values are at odds with their own. Unfortunately, those who think that Iraqs future will follow a path as peaceful as Sudans future appears to be are guilty of wishful thinking, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland.
With fiercely anti-American critic Muqtada al-Sadr back in Iraq and acting as power broker to the Shiite governing coalition, its less likely that U.S. forces will be asked to postpone the withdrawal that is currently scheduled by years end. This is a blessing in disguise for the Obama administration, Eland argues. President Obama would be wise to keep his campaign pledge and promptly get out (while the gettings good), Eland concludes.
One reason the U.S. troop withdrawal should meet its target date is that Iraq is still a very fractious society, a tinder keg waiting for a spark. The basis for ethno-sectarian fightingSunnis versus Shiites, and Arabs versus Kurdspersists. The recent lull in violence is largely a result of the United States buying the cooperation of Sunni militia groups and a by-product of the brutality of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group whose attacks made Osama bin Ladens franchise even less popular than the U.S. forces. Writes Eland: Absent a Sudanese-style referendum on devolution or secession, which has not even been contemplated, the artificial Iraq is likely to eventually succumb to more ethno-sectarian turmoil, probably ending in a bloody civil war.
Dont Expect Iraq to End Like Sudan, by Ivan Eland (1/12/11)
Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, by Ivan Eland
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
4) Summer Programs for Students!
Registration is now open for our 2011 Summer Seminars! Our high-school seminar will be held at our campus in Oakland, June 20-24, and our college seminar will be hosted at a local Bay Area university campus, August 1-5.
These week-long seminars feature talks by Independent Institute fellows as well as local university professors. Addressing various topics on economics and philosophy, these seminars are a perfect way to ensure that your student has an intellectually rewarding summer.
We are also now accepting applications for our summer internship program. Positions are available for college students interested in Publications, Development, Communications, and Marketing. This 3-month program allows students to gain valuable work experience while receiving on-going education about critical issues and ideas.
5) New Blog Posts
From The Beacon:
From MyGovCost Blog: