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The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 20, Issue 22: May 30, 2018

  1. Starbucks, Boycotts, and T.R.M. Howard
  2. U.S. Bishops Weigh In on Compulsory Union Dues
  3. FDA Seeks More Smoking Regs
  4. Patriotic Lessons after Memorial Day
  5. Join Us at FreedomFest in Las Vegas, July 11-14
  6. Independent Updates


1) Starbucks, Boycotts, and T.R.M. Howard

After last month’s incident at a Starbucks in Philadelphia involving the arrest of two black males who were waiting to use the restroom, the coffee retailer took a day off for staff at more than 8,000 shops to undergo anti-bias training. In an op-ed for the Washington Times, Independent Institute Research Fellows Linda Royster Beito and David T. Beito place this episode in historical context.

In 1952, the Beitos explain, African-American doctor, business leader, and civil rights activist T.R.M. Howard—the subject of their highly acclaimed, just-released biography—kicked off a regional boycott against service stations that barred black customers from using their restrooms. “Blacks wielded some economic leverage with gas stations because, as Howard pointed out, they were nearly as likely as whites to own cars,” Beito and Beito write. “A typical scenario during the boycott was for a black customer to pull up to the gas pump, ask to use the restroom, and then drive off if the answer was no.”

The boycott, orchestrated by Howard’s Regional Council of Negro Leadership, succeeded. Two years later it organized a nationwide boycott against banks that refused loans to depositors who worked to oppose racial segregation. It too succeeded. In both cases, black-owned businesses benefitted during the boycott and the offending businesses changed their ways. “While the Starbucks episode shows that bias and unequal treatment still remain, business, Howard demonstrated, should be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” the Beitos conclude.

Fighting Bias with Business, by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito (The Washington Times, 5/23/18)

T. R. M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer, by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito

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2) U.S. Bishops Weigh In on Compulsory Union Dues

In June the U.S. Supreme Court will decide a potentially landmark case on the status of mandatory union dues in so-called “closed shop” states—i.e., states where union membership can be a job requirement. In Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, Illinois child-support specialist Mark Janus protests that he is required by state law to pay dues to a public-employee union he feels works against his interests. The case has garnered much attention. Even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a strong opinion—in this instance one in favor of the union.

Its support for the union, however, is not without controversy. “The USCCB legal brief cannot even be construed as representing a majority of American bishops,” writes Independent Institute Research Fellow Adam B. Summers, in an op-ed for the Washington Times. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, for example, claims that church teaching “does not mandate coercing people to join a union or pay dues against their will.”

The bishops’ group complains that an anti-union decision would erect a barrier that makes it hard for bishops to debate the merits of right-to-work laws—a complaint Summers finds to be without merit. “The Catholic Church can continue to support workers’ right to organize without supporting compelled speech or government favoritism toward unions,” Summers writes. “It should also support, and with equal fervor, a worker’s right not to be associated with, or be forced to provide financial support to, a union the worker feels doesn’t represent his or her interests or beliefs. So, too, should the Supreme Court.”

Why Is the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference Backing Compulsory Union Speech?, by Adam B. Summers (The Washington Times, 5/22/18)

Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples

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3) FDA Seeks More Smoking Regs

The Food and Drug Administration is on a crusade against smoking. Success is unlikely, however. According to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nicotine tax of 100 percent would reduce cigarette smoking by up to only 5 percent.

While the FDA has been proposing new tobacco regulations, smoking rates have been on a five-decade decline, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Raymond J. March. In an op-ed for the Sun-Sentinel, March writes: “Since 1965, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoke decreased from about 40 percent to 17 percent. But the FDA only began regulating tobacco in 2009, which means these reductions are not a result of government regulation.”

FDA is also scrutinizing a ban of various flavored e-cigarettes, even though “vaping” lacks unhealthy tar and other substances found in ordinary cigarettes and up to 6.6 million lives could be saved over ten years if cigarette smokers switched to e-cigs. Like required pre-approval testing for potentially life-saving drugs, FDA’s regulation of smoking products may prove to be another instance of deadly overcaution.

The FDA Should Quit Regulating Nicotine Cold Turkey, by Raymond J. March (Sun Sentinel, 5/22/18)

Is FDA safe and effective? See FDAReview.org.

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4) Patriotic Lessons after Memorial Day

Memorial Day passed with the usual fanfare—wreaths laid at military cemeteries, speeches honoring soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, and the like—but with little acknowledgement of the sea change in U.S. foreign policy. Military interventionism has come at a heavy cost to the American people, including mounting public debt (currently a $21 trillion tax on future generations), the diversion of military resources away from genuine homeland defense, and the loss of cherished liberties in response to terrorist blowback.

In his latest op-ed, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland reminds us that America’s Founders saw military adventurism—seen today in ongoing U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, and elsewhere—as the enemy of low taxes and freedom at home. “President Trump alluded to some of these problems during his campaign but has only accelerated these brushfire wars,” Eland writes. “Such wars should not be draped in faux patriotism.”

Genuine patriotism, Eland argues, recognizes that military campaigns also tend to concentrate power in the hands of the ruler at the expense of representative government and the rule of law. As James Madison wrote: “In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. ... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Madison’s prophetic words, which have long fallen on deaf ears in the nation’s capital, represent more than keen observation. They are wisdom itself.

Real Patriotism on Memorial Day Means Losing Fewer Soldiers in Meaningless Wars, by Ivan Eland (The Modesto Bee, 5/25/18)

Eleven Presidents: Promises vs. Results in Achieving Limited Government, by Ivan Eland

Audio: Eland discusses Eleven Presidents (1/24/18)

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5) Join Us at FreedomFest in Las Vegas, July 11-14

FreedomFest is the world’s largest gathering of free minds, and Independent Institute is proud to announce our partnership as a Gold Sponsor at its upcoming July 11-14 conference in Las Vegas!

FreedomFest features the brightest pro-liberty thought leaders from around the world. Please join us and enjoy a variety of talks, panels, and debates with Independent Institute fellows! Save the date and REGISTER NOW and save $100 by using special discount code: INDEPENDENT.

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6) Independent Updates

The Beacon: New Blog Posts

MyGovCost: New Blog Posts

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  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org