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

Volume 13, Issue 14: May 3, 2011

  1. Will Bin Laden’s Death Revive the Economy?
  2. Civilian Courts Should Handle Terrorism Cases, Eland Argues
  3. Cuba’s Dishonest Reforms
  4. Freedom and Prosperity in the Developing World (San Jose, Calif., 5/7/11)
  5. New Blog Posts

1) Will Bin Laden’s Death Revive the Economy?

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, claimed 3,000 lives at the World Trade Center in New York. They also took a heavy toll on the U.S. economy. Will the death of Osama bin Laden help revive a sluggish economy? Unfortunately, the answer is: no, it won’t do much good, not directly and not over the long haul, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Art Carden.

“The macroeconomic effects of bin Laden’s death are likely to be minor,” Carden writes in his latest piece at Forbes.com. “Bin Laden’s death matters politically, but his death’s economic importance is only indirect.”

But there is reason for caution, Carden notes. Bin Laden’s death could foster a climate for unwise policy decisions, just as 9/11 created a climate for pork-barrel spending under the guise of homeland security—and costly (and bloody) warfare. Opinion polls provide some basis for pessimism: When asked if they could trust their leaders in Washington, DC, 64 percent of those polled after 9/11 gave a favorable response, compared to 30 percent in 2000. Just as fear can prompt foolishness, so can glee. “After it has been filtered through the political process, what we have won with bin Laden’s death might actually be a pyrrhic victory,” Carden concludes.

“What Will Happen Now that Bin Laden Is Dead?” by Art Carden (Forbes.com, 5/2/11)

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2) Civilian Courts Should Handle Terrorism Cases, Eland Argues

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay were released from captivity when they still presented a threat to U.S. assets and allies, or—more commonly—were detained long after their innocence became evident to the U.S. military. That finding, based on official documents obtained by WikiLeaks and distributed to the press, greatly weakens the case for prosecuting suspected terrorists in military courts, rather than in civil ones. Yet two bills in Congress would increase the military’s role, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland.

If enacted, the legislation would violate the constitutional right to a speedy and impartial public trial, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, Eland argues in his latest op-ed. The bills, which are sponsored by Sen. John McCain and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, would also enable greater military encroachment on domestic law enforcement—a violation of the long-standing principle of posse comitatus. And they would prevent the government from transferring detainees out of Guantanamo “even if the government itself has declared them innocent or not a threat,” Eland writes.

Civilian courts and law-enforcement agencies, according to Eland, handle suspected terrorists pretty effectively. “In contrast, such antiterrorism activities are not the military’s strong suit, as its record shows,” he writes. “Yet posturing politicians, who want to be seen as tough on terrorists, are actually undermining antiterror efforts by expanding the military’s role.”

“Don’t Expand the Military’s Antiterrorism Role,” by Ivan Eland (4/27/11) Spanish Translation

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) Cuba’s Dishonest Reforms

Raul Castro says Cuba’s ruling clique will govern the country for ten more years because Cuba “lacks a reserve of well-prepared substitutes.” There may be an element of truth in his claim. But if so, Raul and brother Fidel bear the blame: just a few years ago, to take but one example, they purged a couple up-and-coming “reformers” in their administration who spoke as if they wished someday to become forces for liberalization: Carlos Lage and Felipe Perez Roque.

The Castro brothers displayed their well-known penchant for perfidy at the recent Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba—the first one convened in 14 years—reports Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa. Raul asserted a willingness to loosen some economic controls—he reiterated his proposal to shift many workers from the public sector to the private economy. But so far his plan is more of an economic bust than a boom. Consider the case of Elia Pastrana. She left her government job in order to operate a fast-food stand, but costly licensing fees, income and payroll taxes, and bureaucratic red tape forced her to shut it down.

Writes Vargas Llosa: “Fidel said it all when he summed up the purpose of the party session: ‘To preserve socialism.’ Both Castros are in total agreement about this.”

“Cuban-Style ‘Updating,’” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (4/27/11) 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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4) Freedom and Prosperity in the Developing World (San Jose, Calif., 5/7/11)

The Independent Institute is proud to announce an exciting event Saturday, May 7, at San Jose State University, “Economic Liberalism and the Free Society in the Developing World.” Co-hosted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, this one-day conference features enlightening talks on liberty in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.

Leading off the great lineup of speakers is the Independent Institute’s Emily Skarbek, who will discuss “Globalism, Governance, and the Extended Order of Exchange.” Her talk will look at how governments hinder economic progress and how individuals participating in the division of labor create the true framework for prosperity.

What policies, resources, and institutions promote economic liberalization in less-developed countries struggling with political instability? Please join us Saturday and visit the Independent Institute’s table for information about upcoming Institute publications and events. Registration is free and open to the public.

“Economic Liberalism and the Free Society in the Developing World” (San Jose, Calif., 5/7/11)

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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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