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

Volume 14, Issue 37: September 11, 2012

  1. More Government, Less Liberty, Two Parties
  2. Justice Denied in Two Deadly Torture Cases
  3. Critiques and Questions on Global Warming
  4. John C. Goodman Healthcare Event—Oct. 4, Oakland, Calif.
  5. New Blog Posts



1) More Government, Less Liberty, Two Parties

Who is to blame for the Leviathan state? The problem cannot be attributed exclusively to Republicans or Democrats: Presidents from both parties have increased the size and scope of the federal government at the expense of liberty. That’s the combined message of two Independent Institute op-eds written separately by Research Fellows John C. Goodman and Anthony Gregory. Although conservative Republicans frequently rail against the evils of Big Government, Goodman notes that from 1960 to 2010 annual entitlement spending was about 8 percent higher when the GOP held the Oval Office compared to the years that Democrats held it. And although liberal Democrats often complain about diminished civil liberties when Republicans are in office, Gregory notes that President Obama has continued many of the Bush programs he campaigned against.

First, here’s the money quote from Goodman. “Lyndon Johnson, of course, gave us Medicare, Medicaid and the rest of the Great Society,” he writes. “But when Johnson left office, these programs were relatively small. The main expansion came under Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Not only that, [but] the expansions were largely the result of executive orders! That is, they didn’t have to happen.”

Similarly, Obama’s backsliding on several civil liberties issues “didn’t have to happen,” in that he could have chosen a different course of action. Here’s an excerpt from Gregory’s op-ed that supports this point: “President Obama has accelerated the deportation of immigrants. He has vastly expanded the crusade against drugs—signing off on increased drug task force spending, ramping up raids of medical marijuana facilities by a factor of eight contrary to repeated promises he would stop them, allegedly arming Mexican drug cartels in a bizarre drug war strategy, making destruction of the opium trade central to his Afghanistan policy, and sending 200 Marines to Guatemala to combat trafficking.”

Does the Buck Stop with the President?, by Anthony Gregory (Huffington Post, 9/10/12)

Which Party Is the Party of Big Government?, by John C. Goodman (Townhall, 8/8/12)

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman

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2) Justice Denied in Two Deadly Torture Cases

The Justice Department announced recently that it would not prosecute two instances of alleged illegal and fatal torture conducted by CIA operatives in Afghanistan and Iraq during the George W. Bush administration. The decision was predictable: the month he was sworn into office, Obama said that although he believed no one was above the law, he wished to “look forward as opposed to looking backward.” According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, the Justice Department’s decision is a brazen example of political expediency that works against the interests of the nation.

Eland’s evaluation stems in part from the lawyerly wording used by the Justice Department: the agency claimed it lacked sufficient “admissible evidence” to prosecute. The claim is disingenuous, according to Eland. One reason is that the executive branch decides which information will remain classified for the sake of national security.

“The country would have been better off if Obama had ‘looked back’—to prosecute Bush administration atrocities and obstruction of justice, such as destroying the videotapes of the harsh CIA interrogations—rather than looking forward,” Eland writes. “It is a sad day when the rule of law—a core value of the U.S. system—is less popular among the American people than alleged ‘national security.’ Foreign policy is supposed to be used to protect the principles of the political system, not to be elevated above them in a garrison state.”

Politics Subvert the All-Important Rule of Law, by Ivan Eland (9/10/12)

No War for Oil: U.S. Dependency and the Middle East, by Ivan Eland

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3) Critiques and Questions on Global Warming

Whatever the outcome of November’s elections, the issue of climate-change policy is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon. In his latest piece for American Thinker, atmospheric scientist and Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer raises powerful objections against the claim that human activity is warming the atmosphere. He begins by identifying which side in the debate bears the burden of proof: those who call for policies to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, based on claims of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

“They must demonstrate with reasonable certainty that human activities are causing global warming, that a future warming will produce significant economic and ecological damage, and that it would be more cost-effective to mitigate now rather than to adapt later,” writes Singer. “They must also be ready to respond to any critique of the underlying science.”

After setting forth this preamble, Singer critiques the evidence for AGW that its supporters have offered as the most substantive, drawing on his knowledge of climate models, temperature data, and so-called proxy data. “It should be clear by now that the strong AGW claims of the IPCC are based on rather flimsy evidence,” he writes. Until a draft version of the next IPCC report is available, Singer poses several questions to AGW supporters. Here are a few: “Why did climate cool from 1940-1975?”; “Why is there no pronounced warming trend since 2002?”; “And finally, why no warming for night-time marine air temperatures, troposphere, and proxies in the last two decades of the 20th century—in conflict with reported land-surface temperatures?”

Winning the AGW Science Debate: Here’s How, by S. Fred Singer (American Thinker, 8/30/12)

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

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4) John C. Goodman Healthcare Event—Oct. 4, Oakland, Calif.

Please join us on Thursday, October 4, for a timely presentation at the Independent Institute’s headquarters by Independent Institute Research Fellow John C. Goodman, author of Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. Here’s a description of his talk:

Should the new healthcare law be repealed and replaced? If so, which reforms would contribute the most to making high-quality healthcare affordable and accessible? In Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, Dr. John C. Goodman takes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to task, rejects the Obama vision, and offers a no-nonsense approach to healthcare reform. To create a vibrant market that would treat the sick—in which health plans compete to solve the problems of diabetics, asthmatics, heart patients, cancer patients, and others with high expected healthcare costs—Dr. Goodman maintains that we must undo the bad incentives and constraints that are embedded in the current system and made worse by the ACA. Along with practical advice on how employers can cut employee health costs in half, Dr. Goodman will discuss insurance reform, malpractice, and the innovative ideas found in Priceless for overhauling Medicare and Medicaid.

Wine & Cheese Reception: 6:30 p.m.
Program: 7:00 p.m.

Event details, including ticket information

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman

Video: John C. Goodman on C-SPAN2’s Book TV (8/12/12)

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

Freeing the Employee
John C. Goodman (9/10/12)

Equality Requires Men and Non-Mom Working Women to Work Less
Mary Theroux (9/9/12)

Freeing the Doctor
John C. Goodman (9/6/12)

New Online Courses on Liberty
David J. Theroux (9/5/12)

Social Liberalism and the Drug War
Anthony Gregory (9/5/12)

Boom and Bust Banking—Causes and Cures
Carl Close (9/5/12)

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Government Needs Volte-Face on Electric Car Incentives
Lloyd Billingsley (9/10/12)

Teach Me to Fish
Burt Abrams (9/7/12)

Going for a Three-Fer!
Craig Eyermann (9/6/12)

Fun Facts About $16 Trillion in Federal Government Debt
Lloyd Billingsley (9/6/12)

Feds Flunk Flood Protection
Lloyd Billingsley (9/5/12)

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website here and blog here. Overseen by Independent Institute Research Analyst Gabriel Gasave, our Spanish website has 1,600 articles translated into Spanish and our Spanish blog has more than 31,000 posts!

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