Volume 13, Issue 40: October 4, 2011
- The Case Against Bailouts
- U.S. Hit List Jeopardizes Americans Rights to Due Process
- The Hidden Premise of Big, Intrusive Government
- Alabamas Immigration Law Mixes Tragedy with Farce
- New Blog Posts
A Gala for Liberty: 25th Anniversary
Please join with us to celebrate The Independent Institutes 25th Anniversary Dinner: A Gala for Liberty, November 15th, at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. Honorees Lech Walesa, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Robert Higgs will be presented with the Alexis de Tocqueville Award as champions of individual liberty, entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, civic virtue, and the rule of law.
1) The Case Against Bailouts
Protesters have taken to Wall Street and elsewhere to register their disdain with business as usual in the face of high unemployment and a moribund economy. Those among them who wish to make sense of U.S. policies in response to the financial turmoil should turn to Independent Institute Research Fellow Vern McKinley.
A former analyst for the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, the RTC, and the OTS, who became fed up with the agencies bailouts of banks and other financial institutions, McKinley has pressed the agencieswithout their cooperationfor internal memos that would show how they decided which firms to bail out and which not to bail out. The results of his investigationswhich examine government policy during the financial turbulence of the 1930s and 1980s, as well as those of politicians and regulators during the recent episodewill be presented in his forthcoming book, Financing Failure: A Century of Bailouts, to be published by the Independent Institute this December.
In a recent interview on the Wall Street Journals website, McKinley explains the typical modus operandi of financial regulators during a crisis: panic. After they undertake a bailout, they typically provide an extremely vague statement that the bailout was necessary to deal effectively with systemic risk that the failure of the institution would have posed for the financial system. However, there is no strong connection between the numbers they toss out and their panicky responses. A better approach, McKinley argues, would be to allow insolvent institutions to fail (or to be taken over by competitors who dont need a subsidy to do so). That would help foster better management overall in the financial sector and hasten new lending by financially strong competitors.
Video: Why Bail Out Banks? An Interview with Vern McKinley (WSJ Opinion Journal, 9/19/11)
Financing Failure: A Century of Bailouts, by Vern McKinley (Publication date: December 2011)
2) U.S. Hit List Jeopardizes Americans Rights to Due Process
The targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki by a CIA-operated drone in Yemen last Friday raises troubling questions for the White House. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed a resolution that authorized military action against the perpetrators, but al-Awlakian American citizen who reportedly has called for violence against the United States and may or may not have taken part in terrorist operationswas not a member of the 9/11 plot and therefore doesnt fall under the congressional resolution. According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, the executive order to kill al-Awlaki should worry all Americans because it was authorized without due process or oversight from other branches of government. This creates a dangerous precedent: the rights of all Americans (and other persons) are in danger, Eland writes in his latest op-ed.
The courts clearly have a right to comment on this issue, Eland continues. They should prohibit the administration from having a secret kill list and require it to bring suspected terrorists to trial.
The gross violations of justice in the U.S. criminal justice system suggest another reason for concern. Eland notes that 138 death row inmates have been exonerated since the mid-1970s. Writes Eland: Given the governments spotty record at identifying murderers, can we be confident that our president can competently identify terrorists and kill themall the while in violation of the constitutional requirements of due process and checks and balances by other branches of government? Since many of the prisoners at Guantanamo werent guilty of any crime, let alone terrorism, the answer to the last question is a resounding no.
A Double Standard for the Ultimate Penalty, by Ivan Eland (9/28/11)
3) The Hidden Premise of Big, Intrusive Government
In his commencement address to the University of Michigan in 2010, President Obama said, We, the people, hold in our hands the power to choose our leaders and change our laws, and shape our own destiny. The phrases were chosen to resonate with Americans across the political spectrum, but their precise meaning and implications are the subjects of controversy. Which activities may the state legitimately undertake in the name of the people? Is it morally acceptable, for example, for the state to require the people to purchase health insurance? These questions, economist Daniel B. Klein suggests, boil down to whether or not the claims of the state take precedence over an individuals right to justly acquired propertyan issue that separates progressives and social democrats, one the one hand, and conservatives and libertarians, on the other.
For social democrats, the state is the overlord and the polity is its dominion, Klein writes in Against Overlordship, the lead article in the fall 2011 issue of The Independent Review. In other words, many progressives and left-liberals view the relationship between the citizenry and the state the same way many people view the relationship between the tenant and the landlord, or between the hotel guest and the hotel owner: one is consenting to the rules simply by staying within the boundaries.
Todays social democrats and progressives seldom discuss that core beliefthe hidden premise of their political agendabut their intellectual forerunners did, in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. Writers such as L. T. Hobhouse and Frank Sargent Hoffman clearly stated their case for the democratic states presumptive authority because they were in open rebellion against the prevailing view about the individual and private property, a view articulated by classical liberals such as Adam Smith and David Hume. The challenge to classical liberalism was not adequately met, and the result was an intellectual sea change that cleared the way for the expansion of intrusive government. The words liberal, liberty, freedom, justice, contract, property, rights, equality, and equity were defiled and hijacked, Klein continues. All the changes in meanings come down to one linchpin: the shift from the individualist to the collectivist conception of ownership.
4) Alabamas Immigration Law Mixes Tragedy with Farce
Last Wednesday, a federal judge upheld most of Alabamas laws against illegal immigration, purportedly the strictest in the United States. In his latest column at Forbes.com, Independent Institute Research Fellow Art Carden argues that measures designed to enforce laws against illegal immigrationespecially in Alabamaare solutions in search of a problem. Moreover, immigration restrictions create huge, often unseen problems for citizens and illegal workers alike. A paper published in the summer 2011 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, for example, concluded that gains from reducing immigration barriers are likely to be enormous, measured in tens of trillions of dollars.
The farce of onerous barriers to the free movement of labor is worthy of parody. In fact, more than once has The Simpsons aimed its satirical arrows at anti-immigrant folly, Carden notes. Unfortunately, no one will be laughing if states with much larger immigrant communities than Alabama follow its lead.
I fear that the institutional steps that would be required to completely stop illegal immigration would make the current excesses of the Transportation Security Administration look like childs play, Carden writes. Even if we grant the assumptions of immigrant opponents about the costs of immigrationa rhetorical tactic that Carden concedes is an unwarranted concessionit is by no means clear that Fortress USA would bear any resemblance to a land of the free. And Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa notes in a piece quoted last week in the Huffington Post, Whenever there is a disconnect between the law and reality, reality finds ways of making the law irrelevant.
I Love That Episode of The Simpsons! Oh WaitYou Were Talking about Real-Life Immigration Policy, by Art Carden (Forbes.com, 9/30/11)
E-Verify E-Viscerates Labor Market, by Alex Nowrasteh (Huffington Post, 9/23/11)
Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
5) New Blog Posts
From The Beacon:
Did Hubris or Ideological Blindness Inspire Obama on His Solyndra Visit?
Anthony Gregory (10/3/11)
Ronald Reagan on Open Borders
Mary Theroux (9/29/11)
Unusually Good Media Coverage of Police Response to Wall St. Protests
Anthony Gregory (9/28/11)
Taxpayers Should Pay Their Fair Share
Randall Holcombe (9/28/11)
From MyGovCost News & Blog:
The Independent Institutes Spanish-language blog has surpassed 3 million page views! You can find it here.