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

Volume 13, Issue 17: April 26, 2011

  1. The Cloak of ‘Sustainability’
  2. Across-the-Board Cuts: Our Best Hope?
  3. The Case for Military Retrenchment
  4. Europe’s Bailouts Create a Backlash of Nationalist Sentiment
  5. New Blog Posts

1) The Cloak of ‘Sustainability’

“Sustainable development” is a fuzzy term used as a propaganda tool to promote the conflicting agendas of a variety of special-interest groups, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer. In his latest piece for American Thinker, Singer examines the origins of “sustainable development” and its myriad meanings in debates about economic growth, population pressures, peak oil, the availability of basic commodities, wealth redistribution, and United Nations sovereignty.

“Among the worst policies being pushed with the help of [“sustainable development”] is a scheme called Contraction and Convergence (C & C),” writes Singer. “The idea is that every human is entitled to emit the same amount of CO2. This of course translates into every being on earth using the same amount of energy—and, by inference, having the same income. In other words, C & C is basically a policy for a giant global income redistribution.”

The sustainability movement has gained ground on college campuses across the United States. Singer quotes from a statement, released last week by the conservative National Association of Scholars, that chides the anti-capitalist, anti-individualist agenda of groups such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education: “The sustainability movement combines a bureaucratic and regulatory impulse with an updated version of the Romantics’ preoccupation with the end of civilization, and with hints of the Christian apocalyptic tradition.... The movement has its own versions of sin and redemption, and in many other respects has a quasi-religious character. For some adherents, the earth itself is treated as a sentient deity; others content themselves with the search for the transcendent in Nature.”

“The Sustainable Development Hoax,” by S. Fred Singer (American Thinker, 4/22/11) Spanish Translation

A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth, by Wilfred Beckermann

The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America, by Robert H. Nelson

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

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2) Across-the-Board Cuts: Our Best Hope?

Across-the-board spending cuts are needed to fix the U.S. fiscal problem; unless they are enacted, special interests will win and the public at large will continue to be saddled with huge levels of public debt, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty.

In his latest op-ed, Eland argues that the bloated U.S. military budget is one area that grows almost ceaselessly, due to domestic political concerns. “Weapons purchases are often welfare projects doled out to congressional districts and states with political clout,” he writes. “In fact, unlike in the commercial market, defense contractors don’t give subcontracts to the best subcontractors but spread them around the country to build political support, so that it is very difficult to kill weapons programs.”

Pushing for across-the-board spending cuts, Eland argues, is the only strategy that could defeat the “iron triangle” of interests that succeed in fostering greater increases in public spending and debt. “If every program in the budget had to take a substantial and equal percentage cut,” he continues, “the plan could be sold with the simple and honest phrase: ‘In this dire time of record budget deficits, endangering the creditworthiness of the United States, everyone must sacrifice equally.’”

“Across-the-Board Cuts Are the Only Road to Budget Reduction,” by Ivan Eland (4/20/11) Spanish Translation

Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World, 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

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

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3) The Case for Military Retrenchment

American troops are stationed in Greenland, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Qatar, Kyrgystan, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Diego Garcia, Germany, South Korea, and Japan—and the list goes on and on.

The vast sprawl of U.S. military bases across the globe makes it far easier for American presidents to send troops into foreign conflicts—Libya’s is the latest—that have no bearing on U.S. national security, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Charles Peña. In his latest op-ed, Peña proposes that the United States drastically reduce its military presence overseas and scale down its troop levels overall. Doing so, he adds, would not reduce Americans’ security.

“Ultimately, the only way to wean the United States from using the military to try to solve the world’s problems—which are seldom solved by the use of force—is to reduce the size and footprint of U.S. forces,” Peña writes. “The United States shouldn’t be the first responder to crises that do not threaten our security, such as Libya. If U.S. forces weren’t deployed here, there and everywhere, it would be much easier to say ‘no’ when the rest of the world cries out for America to intervene.”

“A Good Military a Terrible Thing to Waste,” by Charles Peña (The Sacramento Bee, 4/19/11)

Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism, by Charles Peña

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4) Europe’s Bailouts Create a Backlash of Nationalist Sentiment

The European Union’s financial bailouts of Greece, Ireland, and (probably) Portugal are fueling a backlash of nationalism across the continent. Finland’s True Finns party, France’s far-right National Front, and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands are among the beneficiaries of the public’s disapproval of financial aid to troubled governments.

According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, the strengthening of nationalist, populist extremism is a disheartening but predictable consequence of the bailouts. “Extremists rise in civilized nations when the madness of things makes their outbursts sound reasonable,” he writes.

Vargas Llosa blames Europe’s sovereign debt crisis on the inflexible mechanism used to bind the continent’s disparate national economies to the same currency, the euro. A better solution to the problem, he suggests, would have been to restructure the debts of troubled countries. “Yes, this would have hurt some banks in northern and central Europe that hold bonds from southern Europe,” he writes. “But what was the point of rescuing those countries if in the end southern Europe is inexorably headed for debt ‘restructuring’ anyway?”

 “Bailouts and Populism,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (4/20/11) Spanish Translation

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

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

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

The Independent Institute’s Spanish-language blog is available here.

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