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

Volume 14, Issue 39: October 2, 2012

  1. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) Force Health Providers to Compete
  2. Is Chile on the Rise?
  3. Conservatives Rethink the Drug War
  4. Markets Promote Peace and Harmony
  5. New Blog Posts



1) Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) Force Health Providers to Compete

Megan Johnson, a self-employed single mother in Dallas, had severe pains in her side and back, just below the ribs. Her doctor said it was possibly kidney stones, but a CT scan would be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Megan’s doctor gave her the name of an outpatient radiology department near her home. A call to the hospital revealed her share of the cost would be more than $2,800. Because Megan’s health insurance had a $5,000 deductible, she decided to ask some questions: Do I really need this? Is it less expensive anywhere else? Research Fellow John C. Goodman exposes the simple economics behind Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“HSAs Force Health Providers to Compete” by John C. Goodman in the San Francisco Chronicle (9/30/2012)

“How Much Do We Owe?” by John C. Goodman at Townhall (9/29/2012)

“Want to Help the Poor? Promote a Free Market in Health Care” – an interview with John C. Goodman by Timothy Dalrymple at Patheos (9/29/2012)

Special Event: “Replacing Obamacare and Curing the Healthcare Crisis,” featuring John C. Goodman (Oakland, Calif, Thursday, 10/4/12)

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

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2) Is Chile on the Rise?

“During the last couple of years, it became popular to say that Chile, once the star of Latin America, was falling out of fashion,” writes Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa in his latest column published in National Interest on the misconceptions surrounding the Chilean economy and the reputation the nation is building as a burgeoning free-market enterprise in the largely impoverished region of Latin America.

“I recently spoke to President Sebastián Piñera and found him to be exuberant. The economy is roaring, his popularity is recovering (although he knows likeability will never be his forte), and his education initiatives have managed to isolate the communists and left-wing anarchists from the middle class,” Llosa reports.

In fact, as the national poverty level continues to drop, polls are showing that free-market economic policies are becoming increasingly popular with the Chilean citizenry. Slightly more than 75% supported the idea that the principal responsibility for society’s economic well-being should rest on “the people themselves,” not on the government. Only 28% of those surveyed attributed the lingering levels of poverty to the free-market system.

Though it remains to be seen whether these positive strides will equate to a secure election of the liberal governing coalition in the coming year, Llosa explains why Chile is on the rise.

“Chile Rises,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (The National Interest, 9/25/2012)

Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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3) Conservatives Rethink the Drug War

Increasingly vocal in his criticisms of the war on drugs, television evangelist Pat Robertson is one of a growing number of social conservatives—George Will, Michael Savage, and Mike Church are others—who are rethinking the wisdom of drug prohibition. If this trend gathers momentum, drug policy could change drastically—just as it should—argues Institute Research Fellow Anthony Gregory in the pages of The American Conservative.

“Just as many moralists who championed temperance turned against alcohol prohibition after seeing the social destruction it unleashed in the 1920s, today’s social conservatives could play a defining role in ending drug prohibition,” Gregory writes. An opinion poll conducted last May offers evidence that things may be heading in this direction, at least in regard to medical marijuana. The survey, Gregory explains, “found that 67 percent of Republicans want to see an end to federal medical-marijuana raids.” In other words, two-thirds of the GOP believes that the Obama administration has been too hard on many pot smokers.

Drug liberalization, Gregory adds, would help reverse the damage that drug prohibition has done to social institutions that conservatives have historically supported. “Constitutionalism, states’ rights, subsidiarity, community norms, traditional medicine, family authority, and the role of the church have all been violently pushed aside to wage an impossibly ambitious national project to control people in the most intimate of ways,” he writes. Summing up the case in favor of decriminalization, another Independent Institute Research Fellow, Art Carden, writes in Forbes: “American governments at all levels have been fighting the war on drugs for over four decades now, and it’s overwhelmingly clear that it’s time to cut our losses, admit that the whole thing was a mistake, and work toward restoring the lives that have been destroyed by the drug war.”

“The Right and the Drug War,” by Anthony Gregory (The American Conservative, 9/12/12)

Isn’t It High Time We Legalize Marijuana?, by Art Carden (Forbes, 8/16/12)

Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition, by Jeffrey A. Miron

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4) Markets Promote Peace and Harmony

The market economy is a remarkable institution: It reduces poverty, decreases discrimination, and provides opportunities for constructive social and economic advancement far more reliably than do government programs. And yet despite all the good that markets do, many people are dubious about the moral case for markets. As economist Dwight R. Lee writes in The Independent Review, “Stereotypical market behavior fails to satisfy the conditions that people associate emotionally with morality.”

Lee believes that markets would get the appreciation they deserve if the public better understood the many positive results that they bring, especially one benefit in particular: Markets help soften some of our darkest emotional tendencies—especially our proclivity to view the world in terms of “us” versus “them” and to succumb to that emotion by initiating violence against others.

“By creating positive-sum opportunities on a global scale, the mundane morality of markets makes it possible for us to see strangers as allies in our efforts to improve our lives rather than as enemies to be plundered and eliminated before they plunder and eliminate us,” Lee writes. The mission for economists, he concludes, is to redouble their efforts to educate the public about how markets foster social harmony and to show how economic thinking can shed light on moral issues in ways that resonate with a large audience.

“Moderating the Dark Side of Emotional Morality with the Bright Side of Market Morality,” by Dwight R. Lee (The Independent Review, Fall 2012)

The Independent Review (Fall 2012)

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

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

The Wretched Nationalization of School Lunch
Anthony Gregory (10/1/2012)

Waste, Waste Everywhere and Not a Dime to Spare
John C. Goodman (10/1/2012)

Obama’s 44th California Fundraiser
Mary Theroux (9/28/2012)

Obama Should Play Golf All Day, Every Day
Anthony Gregory (9/27/2012)

Beyond Regime Uncertainty: Corporate CFOs Predict Worsening Future
Mary Theroux (9/26/2012)

The Benefits of Ideal Health Insurance
John C. Goodman (9/26/2012)

Thanks, Uncle Sam, for GPS!
Randall Holcombe (9/26/2012)

The Bazooka That Doesn’t Kill
Alvaro Vargas Llosa (9/26/2012)

Shortchanging Special Needs Students—Another Poor Mark for Government Schooling
Vicki Alger (9/26/2012)

Obama Touts D.C. Public Schools as Offering the Kind of Education that Will Grow the Economy
Vicki Alger (9/26/2012)

Is Christine Lagarde a Higgsean?
Peter Klein (9/25/2012)

Obama is Stuck on the First Envelope
Mary Theroux (9/25/2012)

Promote Liberty by Reforming Higher Education?
Carl Close (9/25/2012)

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Free Lunch
Burt Abrams (10/1/2012)

The Postman Always Defaults Twice
Lloyd Billingsley (10/1/2012)

Unintended Consequences
Craig Eyermann (9/29/2012)

Golden Fleece for Gold-Plated Flight
Lloyd Billingsley (9/28/2012)

Stuck in the Mud...
Craig Eyermann (9/27/2012)

EPChe: An Expensive, Oppressive Agency Gets a Symbol
Lloyd Billingsley (9/25/2012)

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

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