Volume 20, Issue 10: March 6, 2018
- Parkland Shooting a Tragedy of Government Failure
- Pope Francis and China
- Rising Prices Likely Bane of New Fed Chairmanand the American People
- The Post and Darkest HourTwo Must-See Oscar Nominees
- Independent Updates
1) Parkland Shooting a Tragedy of Government Failure
Last months deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, claimed 17 lives and renewed the ongoing debate over gun rights. Its important to examine the various proposed common-sense gun safety measures put forth, but its critical to also discuss what went wrong with existing official policies and procedures meant to keep people safe from gun violence.
The shooting was enabled by several lapses of bureaucratic responsibility and good judgement, as Independent Institute Research Fellow Stephen P. Halbrook explains in an op-ed widely distributed by the Tribune News Service. Criminal charges for [the shooters] terrorist threats, assault, and shooting at a neighbors chickens could have been brought; convictions would have made him ineligible to buy firearms, Halbrook writes. Yet no prosecution was brought.
Casting blame on Second Amendment protections of arms that are typically possessed for lawful purposes by law-abiding citizensincluding the popular AR-15 semi-automatic rifleis misguided, according to Halbrook. The expired 1994 Clinton ban on assault weaponsa propaganda term for modern sporting rifleshad zero effect on crime. Rather than killing off constitutionally sanctioned gun ownership for law-abiding people, those looking to reduce mass shootings are better off reconsidering the gun free killing zone, Halbrook concludes.
Blame for Parkland Rests with Local School Officials and FBI Ineptitude, by Stephen P. Halbrook (Sacramento Bee, 2/28/18; Arizona Daily Star, 3/5/18; and many other papers)
The Founders Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, by Stephen P. Halbrook
Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and Enemies of the State, by Stephen P. Halbrook
Coming in May: Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, by Stephen P. Halbrook
2) Pope Francis and China
The Peoples Republic of China and the Vatican have taken a major step toward ending their seven-decades-long estrangement, a saga involving stealth worship by the nations Catholics and religious persecution by government authorities. For more than a year, Beijing and the Holy See have negotiated a controversial deal whereby the former would be authorized to select bishops for Chinas 12 million Catholics while the pope would retain veto power over the bishops ordination.
It is easy to see, then, why so many of the faithful in China who have risked so much to remain loyal to the Church now feel betrayed, write Independent Institute Research Fellow Adam B. Summers and Senior Fellow Lawrence J, McQuillan, in an op-ed for US News & World Report.
The deal, Summers and McQuillan argue, fits a pattern of recent Chinese-government attacks on religious liberties, including the demolishing of thousands of church buildings and new requirements that religious groups register with local authorities. While the Vatican may see it as constructive engagement, Pope Franciss new deal with Beijing may only further weaken Chinas independent institutions, especially its few remaining religious ones. Whatever its objective, Summers and McQuillan write, this would hardly be the prudent deed of a leader intent on defending the persecuted.
The Pope Bows to Beijing, by Adam Summers and Lawrence McQuillan (US News & World Report, 3/2/18)
Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples
3) Rising Prices Likely Bane of New Fed Chairmanand the American People
Jerome Powell, the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, is in for a wild ride. As President Trumps appointee to run the nations central bank, Powell will get the creditand eventually the blamefor a heating economy thats heading toward high inflation. Last years core prices (not counting food or energy) climbed only 1.5 percent according to the Feds most-watched indicator, but that number is deceptive. After years of providing easy credit to promote economic growth, the Fed will have little ability to tame the party after it gets raucous.
As Independent Institute Research Fellow Burton Abrams explains in The Hill, its only a matter of time before the Feds accommodative monetary policies take prices beyond the official 2 percent inflation-rate target, push up interest rates, cause economic dislocations, erode capital investment, and, ultimately, create mass unemployment. Expect the worse to happen after the 2020 election, if Trumps working relationship with Powell is anything like Nixons was with Fed chairman Arthur Burns.
If inflation surges, Chairman Powell will get the blame even though the momentum was years in the making, Abrams writes. Powell, a lawyer by training, should know that attorneys have had a tough time at the Fed helm. The previous one to chair the central bank, G. William Miller, left in 1979 with inflation running about 12 percent. Lets hope the new Fed chief can do better, but prepare for the worst.
Inflation Is Going to Climb, but Could New Fed Chief Make It Worse?, by Burton Abrams (The Hill, 2/28/18)
The Terrible 10: A Century of Economic Folly, by Burton Abrams
4) The Post and Darkest HourTwo Must-See Oscar Nominees
Neither won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but if Oscars were given for moving depictions of political courage, The Post and Darkest Hour could both win. Our resident film reviewer, Independent Institute Research Fellow Samuel R. Staley, highly recommends watching them both.
Starring Meryl Streep as Washington Post owner Katharine Graham at the height of the Vietnam War, The Post conveys Grahams bold decision to report on The Pentagon Paperstop-secret documents revealing official U.S. duplicity about the wara move that could have shut down her newspaper. At the same time, the movie offers lessons on the value of not just a free press, but an independent press. The freedom of the press to speak truth to power means little without a willingness to exercise this right, and this principle is at the heart of the movie, Staley writes.
Darkest Hour, Staley notes, takes liberties with the historical record. Nevertheless, its gripping dramatization of Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) leading England during the Second World War make it very worthwhile. Controversy and historical accuracy aside, Darkest Hour is a compelling reminder of the role courage and leadership play when facing overwhelming odds, Staley writes. Paired with 2017s earlier contribution to this period of Englands history, Dunkirk, viewers may get a sense of just how close Europe was to complete capitulation to Hitlers totalitarian vision for the continent. Fortunately, in this case, freedom won. Just remember: Darkest Hour is a narrative film, not a documentary.
The Post Makes the Case for a Free and Independent Press, by Samuel R. Staley (Las Vegas Sun, 3/6/18)
Review: Darkest Hour Probes Depths of Political Courage, by Samuel R. Staley (The Beacon, 1/31/18)
5) Independent Updates
The Beacon: New Blog Posts
- Questions and Answers in Regard to Assault Weapons, by Robert Higgs
- The Role of Luck in Life Success, by Randall Holcombe
- Politics Is Costing Lives by Delaying Right-to-Try Legislation, by Raymond March
- Review: Black Panthers Box Office Success Is Well Earned, by Sam Staley
MyGovCost: New Blog Posts
- Will the National Debt Become a Weapon Against the U.S.?, by Craig Eyermann
- Will White-Coat Waste Live On?, by K. Lloyd Billingsley
- Medicare Taken to Cleaners by Unscrupulous Chiropractors, by Craig Eyermann
- The Gropes of Wrath, by K. Lloyd Billingsley