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

Volume 13, Issue 25: June 21, 2011

  1. FDIC Head Leaves Legacy of Bailouts, Secrecy, and Power Grabs
  2. Obama’s War Policies: Same as the Old Boss?
  3. The Independent Review—Summer Issue Now Available
  4. Support Liberty Now, and Double Your Impact!
  5. New Blog Posts

1) FDIC Head Leaves Legacy of Bailouts, Secrecy, and Power Grabs

Sheila Bair, the departing chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), leaves a controversial legacy. Although she helped return failed banks back to the private sector, she caved in to political pressure to bail out Wachovia, Citigroup, Bank of America, and other banks, and she fought citizen efforts to get her agency to comply with a 1991 law that requires transparency for bank bailouts, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Vern McKinley.

In an op-ed for Forbes.com, McKinley and co-author Tom Fitton (president of Judicial Watch) discuss their efforts, using the Freedom of Information Act, to obtain documents related to the FDIC’s decision to bail out selected banks. Under Bair’s leadership, the FDIC has opposed their disclosure campaign but has been reprimanded by a federal judge for doing so. Moreover, Chairman Bair successfully lobbied Congress for new powers for the FDIC, arguing that the agency can handle bank liquidations more effectively than can the bankruptcy court.

“To top off the power grab, just weeks ago—on April 18—the FDIC issued a report on the Lehman failure that is nothing short of delusion,” McKinley and Fitton write. “Instead of trying to rewrite history, FDIC staff time could have been used more effectively searching for and releasing internal documents that would explain FDIC’s views on bailouts and the doctrine of ‘too big to fail.’”

Sheila Bair’s Legacy: Bailouts, Secrecy, and Power Grabs, by Vern McKinley and Tom Fitton (Forbes.com, 6/16/11)

The Dilemma of Bailouts, by Roy C. Smith (The Independent Review, Summer 2011)

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2) Obama’s War Policies: Same as the Old Boss?

Barack Obama and George W. Bush played opposites in the minds of many voters during the 2008 presidential campaign. However, according to Independent Institute Research Editor Anthony Gregory, Obama and Bush represent the same interests in the U.S. financial and defense sectors and share virtually identical approaches toward empire. The Obama model of war, for example, “has amounted to a continuation of the Bush trajectory,” Gregory writes in an article based on his recent study, What Price War? Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Costs of Conflict.

Obama said Bush erred greatly with his invasion of Iraq, but the current president has not accelerated the timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal announced by the Bush administration. Also, Obama has squandered any financial savings from a drawdown in Iraq by keeping his campaign promise to expand U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. In addition, the cost of the wars in terms of American lives has increased. “Last year, 559 American troops died in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Gregory writes. “This is ninety more than died in Bush’s last full year—2008—in office. Both 2009 and 2010 were far bloodier for Americans in Afghanistan than any year under Bush.”

Obama has escalated drone attacks in Pakistan, initiated new bombing campaigns in Somalia and Yemen, and taken the U.S. into a war against Libya. Overall, his administration demonstrates the unsettling continuity of U.S. policy, Gregory argues. “Concerning all the permanent fixtures of the American state—the trillions in entitlements, the national police power, the Fed and the armies of regulators—Obama has continued and expanded upon nearly everything we had under Bush, just as Bush ramped up what he inherited from Clinton and on and on going back decades,” Gregory writes. “Hawks decry Obama as a pacifist who hates American power, and doves often praise him for being more thoughtful than his reckless warmongering predecessor. The only real question is which dishonest characterization is the greater obscenity.”

The Heavy Cost of the Bush-Obama War Machine, by Anthony Gregory (6/1/11)

Video: Anthony Gregory on War Spending (Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, 6/10/11)

What Price War? Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Costs of Conflict, by Anthony Gregory (Independent Institute Policy Report, 6/1/11)

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3) The Independent Review—Summer Issue Now Available

How do the greatest political novels of Mario Vargas Llosa reflect the Nobel laureate’s disenchantment with fanaticism and his move away from the left? What’s wrong with the 2010 legislation that prohibits U.S. taxpayer-funded bank bailouts? Why is the most revered check on government power in the Anglo-American legal tradition badly in need of a justifying principle? These are just a few of the questions dealt with in the Summer 2011 issue of The Independent Review, the Independent Institute’s quarterly journal.

Lighthouse subscribers are invited to read book reviews and selected articles from the Summer 2011 issue that we have posted to our website. Bold links indicates content is posted online, either in pdf or html format. For topics left unmarked, we’ve posted the opening paragraphs.

Topics addressed include: Mario Vargas Llosa’s intellectual journeyThe dilemma of bank bailoutsProperty rights and religious libertyThe paradox of habeas corpusJane Addams’s Social Gospel synthesisThe international balance of powerThe economics of the financial crisisStateless societies in Southeast Asian historyThe struggle to limit the U.S. governmentThe political culture of Dakota TerritoryHow prosperity evolvesLiberty of contract in the United StatesWar’s payoffs to U.S. leaders and to the American people.

The Independent Review (Summer 2011)

Subscribe now and get two free issues.

Summer 2011 Issue of The Independent Review Now Available. Discuss., by Carl Close (The Beacon, 6/15/11)

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4) Support Liberty Now, and Double Your Impact!

The Independent Institute seeks to help bring about peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. You can help us with that mission by making a tax-deductible contribution. Donate this month, and you will double your impact!

Through the month of June, online contributions of up to $5,000 will be matched, dollar for dollar, thanks to a generous Independent Associate Member!

Cultural trends are created and reinforced by individuals from all walks of life. The Independent Institute relies on contributions from donors like you. Our reputation for using our resources efficiently and effectively makes us a trusted choice for our donors. Our influence is growing across the board, and at a fraction of the cost of other organizations. But we need your help to leverage our impact in advancing the cause of liberty. Your impact will be doubled if you donate in June. Please, make your tax-deductible contribution today by visiting our membership page.

Thank you in advance!

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

A Budget-Cutting Deal in the Works?
Craig Eyermann (6/18/11)

Bernanke Responds to Incentives
Emily Skarbek (6/15/11)

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

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