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

Volume 14, Issue 11: March 13, 2012

  1. The Independent Review—Spring Issue Now Available
  2. Contraception Mandate Threatens Religious Freedom
  3. Free the American West
  4. Aerial Drones: Reality versus Rhetoric
  5. New Blog Posts

1) The Independent Review—Spring Issue Now Available

We are delighted to announce the publication of the Spring 2012 issue of the Independent Institute’s peer-reviewed journal, The Independent Review. This issue’s articles and book reviews deal with the following questions:

  • What does evidence from hunter-gatherer societies suggest about whether human beings are better adapted for individualism or collectivism? Read the article.
  • What can libertarians learn from the late Paul Piccone’s works on the modern bureaucratic state and the rule of what he called the “New Class”?
  • How did the creation of a “fiscal commons” undermine limited government? Read the article.
  • How could the writings of Mozi (c. 470–391 B.C.E.) contribute to the creation of a liberal society in the new China?
  • How did Argentina’s Law of National Guaranteed Banks set the stage for that country’s financial crisis of 1890?
  • How did various regulations lead to the excessive leverage and risk-taking that contributed to the recent financial meltdown?
  • What did the Indo-European warriors of the Bronze Age contribute to the spirit of liberty and creativity that helped make Western civilization unique? Read the review essay.
  • How have politics and ideology corrupted climate science and policy? Read the book review.
  • How have solar power, wind power, biofuels, electric cars, and rail mass transit cloaked the private pursuit of taxpayer-funded subsidies? Read the book review.
  • Where did John Maynard Keynes acknowledge that regime uncertainty discourages the “animal spirits” that drive private investment?

The Independent Review (Spring 2012)

Subscribe now. First-timers, subscribe now and receive two extra issues free!

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2) Contraception Mandate Threatens Religious Freedom

A new federal regulation that will require insurance companies to provide free contraceptive coverage for the employees of faith-based organizations does not end the conflict between the Obama administration and religious groups that object to being made to pay for services that violate their beliefs, according to Independent Institute Senior Vice President Mary L. G. Theroux. The reason, she argues in an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner, is that “large religious institutions, like most large companies, self-insure. This makes the church, in effect, both the employer and the insurance company.”

The recent episode is the latest in a series of encounters on healthcare policy between the federal government and religious organizations. As Theroux notes, during the run-up to the congressional vote on the healthcare reform legislation that became law in 2010, President Obama, in conjunction with the federal Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, lobbied clerics to support the bill—and many church leaders across the religious and political spectrum did so. Theroux hopes that the administration’s new mandate will make religious groups more leery of entering into an alliance with the government on a host of issues.

Theroux writes, “Perhaps church leaders now will awaken to the folly of having overlaid ‘God and country’ in their ministries, from sending off solders to fight for ‘godly’ causes, to prayer breakfasts showcasing politicians, and religious leaders lobbying for legislation and embracing policy positions that may be anathema to the church.”

God, Women, and the Nanny State, by Mary L. G. Theroux (Washington Examiner, 3/9/12)

ObamaCare and God’s Will, by Mary Theroux (The Beacon, 3/10/12)

Religious Objection Not the Only Problem With Obamacare Contraception Mandate, by Paul Theroux (The Beacon, 2/11/12)

Secular Theocracy: The Foundations and Folly of Modern Tyranny, by David J. Theroux (Patheos, 1/11/12)

Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Wendy McElroy

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3) Free the American West

The federal government owns far more Western lands than many Americans realize, including 83 percent of Nevada’s total land mass, 45 percent of California, 65 percent of Utah, and 63 percent of Idaho. But the feds can’t afford to keep all that land locked up and out of service. One consequence is that many national forests have become flammable tinderboxes that are vulnerable to crown fires. The best solution to the problem of federal land mismanagement is to transfer much government land to local governments and the private sector, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert H. Nelson.

“Ordinary recreational lands would be managed at the state and local level, perhaps by transferring them to local counties,” Nelson writes in the Los Angeles Times. “The commercially most valuable lands, meanwhile, would be transferred to new ownership or put under long-term federal leases. Lands that have real commercial value could produce a double benefit: revenue from leases and land sales, and additional revenue from the jobs, minerals, oil, gas, lumber and other commodities the freed-up lands would produce.”

Nelson estimates that a transition to a new system could be completed in 10 years, “the same time frame Washington is using for deficit-reduction planning,” he continues. Like many other failed policies, Nelson explains, federal land policy is an anachronism—it was established in 1910—that has been shaped far more by political pressures than by a rational economic strategy to maximize national benefits. Freeing lands of the American West, therefore, is an idea rooted in both sound economics and sound political principles.

Free the American West, by Robert H. Nelson (Los Angeles Times, 3/7/12)

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

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4) Aerial Drones: Reality versus Rhetoric

Aerial drones have been the rage among many writers on military affairs, and Pentagon spending on them has soared, from $667 million in 2001 to $5.1 billion in 2011, at least according to public records. Yet despite the praise and the spending, they are not without critics. Some have questioned the morality of how they are used, while others have questioned their technical performance. In a surprising development, the Defense Department recently cut back on spending for two drones—the RQ-4 Global Hawk and the MQ-9 Reaper. In a series of posts on Time magazine’s Battleland blog on defense issues, Independent Institute Research Fellow Winslow T. Wheeler evaluates the drone program and separates rhetoric from reality.

In part 1, Wheeler provides a brief review of the drone “revolution” and explains the difference between the Reaper and the Predator. In part 2, he examines cost and performance issues. In part 3, he reviews the Reaper’s ability to hunt down targets. In part 4, he addresses the questions, How many drones are there? And how many have crashed? In part 5, he examines the issue of whether the Reaper (and similar drones) really amounts to a revolutionary development in combat.

Like other highly touted developments in defense technology and tactics—from the “revolution in military affairs” that defense pundits touted before Operation Desert Storm in 1991 to the “shock and awe” predicted in early hours of the 2003 war against Iraq—the drone revolution is less than it seems, Wheeler argues. “Reaper’s unique attribute has charmed technologists who proclaim that a revolution in warfare is at hand when the data clearly demonstrate otherwise,” he concludes.

The MQ-9 Reaper: Separating Fact from Fiction, an Analysis in Five Parts, by Winslow T. Wheeler (Time Battleland Blog, 2/27/12 to 3/2/12)

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language blog here.

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