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The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 20, Issue 26: June 26, 2018

  1. Gun Control in France and America
  2. Medgar Evers and T.R.M. Howard Paved the Way Forward
  3. What Catholic Bishops and the Pope Must Remember about Unions
  4. Kardashian Cosmetic Regs Could Slow Natural Alternatives
  5. The Beacon: New Blog Posts


1) Gun Control in France and America

Congress has repeatedly declined to establish a national gun registry, despite periodic calls to create one. (Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois is the latest to introduce such legislation.) This collective ambivalence is partly because many Americans sense the grave risks a federal gun (and gun-owner) database would entail, a concern justified by the historical record. In an op-ed to accompany his new book, Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Stephen P. Halbrook notes the horrific results of French Prime Minister Pierre Laval’s decree of firearms registration in 1935.

“The registration records were critical to the Nazis who overran France in 1940, imposed the death penalty for not turning in guns, and conscripted the French police to ferret out violators,” Halbrook writes at Townhall. Fortunately, many gun owners defied the order, retained their firearms, and became the basis for the Resistance. “After D-Day, they engaged in open armed resistance,” Halbrook writes.

If France’s otherwise lawful gun owners were willing to defy gun registration at the risk of death, why would American criminals submit? Answer: They wouldn’t. The call for a national gun registry is therefore a phony substitute for effective law enforcement. “Maybe it’s time to pursue real solutions to criminal violence and forget about a war on law-abiding gun owners,” Halbrook concludes.

Time for a History Lesson about Gun Control, by Stephen P. Halbrook (Townhall, 6/22/18)

Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance by Stephen P. Halbrook

Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”, by Stephen P. Halbrook

Audio: Stephen Halbrook discusses Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France on Breitbart.com Podcast (5/17/18)

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2) Medgar Evers and T.R.M. Howard Paved the Way Forward

The assassination of black activist Medgar Evers by a member of the Ku Klux Klan in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 14, 1963, helped accelerate the civil-rights movement. His mentor and former employer, Dr. T.R.M. Howard, played multiple roles in the drama, providing health care and economic opportunity (through his many businesses), organizing the black community (with the Regional Council of Negro Leadership), and inspiring people with his legendary oratory skills (Rosa Parks heard him speak days before she refused to sit at the back of the bus). Howard’s life—and Evers’s—were ones worth remembering, explain Independent Institute Research Fellows David Beito and Linda Royster Beito, in a new op-ed in support of their book T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, and Civil Rights Pioneer.

“When Medgar Evers graduated from Alcorn College in 1952, like many young blacks of talent and ambition, he sought employment with Dr. Howard, who hired him as a salesman for the Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company,” the Beitos write. “Medgar visited plantations in his insurance territory near Clarksdale to sell policies and collect premiums. With Dr. Howard’s full backing, he promoted civil rights on these visits. Howard also employed Medgar’s wife, Myrlie, as his typist and eventually delivered her first two children.”

Howard also gave a stirring eulogy at his protégé’s memorial service. “He reminded the crowd how Evers had taken part in the Council’s successful boycott in 1952 more than three years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat,” the Beitos continue. “Howard’s address also included a warning that patience was running thin. He asserted that he had ‘all the faith in the world in our non-violent movement,’ but warned that ‘for one hundred years we have turned one cheek and the other and they’ve continued to hit us on both cheeks. The neck is getting tired now of turning from side to side.” Howard had seen more than his share of brutal racism. A larger-than-life personality with seemingly boundless energy, he also served as a model for people everywhere who seek a life of justice, enterprise, and fulfillment in the face of adversity.

Medgar Evers’s Civil Rights Mentor: T.R.M. Howard, by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito (The Hill, 6/14/18)

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

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3) What Catholic Bishops and the Pope Must Remember about Unions

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took a wrong turn when it issued a friend-of-the-court brief in support of mandatory “agency fees” in Janus v. AFSCME, a closely watched case that the Supreme Court is expected to decide this week. Echoing pro-union sentiments expressed by Pope Francis, these church officials (who don’t actually represent all American bishops, let alone all U.S. Catholics) have taken a position that harms more workers than it helps, explains Independent Institute Research Fellow Adam B. Summers in an op-ed published by numerous Southern California news outlets.

As unions use the political process to secure above-market wages and benefits for their members, the effect is to reduce hiring in the unionized sector and to enlarge the pool of non-unionized workers and to depress their wages, Summers explains. Moreover, in the case of public-employee unions, their success in securing higher compensation for their workers (particularly pension benefits) has pushed scores of municipal budgets to the brink, plunging some into bankruptcy and mandating huge cuts in municipal services.

Ironically, although Pope Francis has spoken in support of mandatory “agency fees” in the Janus case, some of the most astute remarks about the problems of compulsory unionism hail from the pontiff himself, Summers explains. In a speech to Italian union representatives last July, the pope asserted that unions are morally obligated to serve non-workers no less than their official rank and file. Too often, however, union bosses have acted like political big-wigs all too willing to coerce, intimidate, and co-opt the vulnerable or corruptible. “They have oftentimes used this power to the detriment of their own members, and even society in general,” Summers writes.

As We Await the Janus Decision, Catholics Should Re-Examine Support for Unions, by Adam B. Summers (The Orange County Register, 5/31/18)

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

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4) Kardashian Cosmetic Regs Could Slow Natural Alternatives

Kourtney Kardashian may “famous for being famous” rather than known for her knowledge of public policy, but the celebrity had the ear of Capitol Hill recently, where she testified on the need for cosmetics regulation. Some lawmakers agree.

As Independent Institute Research Fellow Raymond J. March notes at The Beacon, the proposed Personal Care Products Safety Act “would require cosmetic companies to register with the Food and Drug Administration and submit lists of their products’ ingredients. The bill would also grant the FDA authority to prohibit distribution of products it deems unsafe.”

Cosmetics makers themselves, however, are showing that they’re increasingly sensitive to growing demand for greater transparency and safety in their products: so-called natural cosmetic products are growing at a rapid clip—far faster than the Food and Drug Administration could accommodate. Moreover, sellers such as CVS and Target have been removing cosmetic product lines devoid of natural ingredients. March saves his best analysis for last when he writes, “Adding more regulations to the cosmetic markets is not the makeover we need.”

Dear Congress, Please Don’t Keep Up with the Kardashians!, by Raymond March (The Beacon, 6/21/18)

FDAReview.org – Is the FDA Safe and Effective?

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5) The Beacon: New Blog Posts

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