Volume 15, Issue 11: March 12, 2013
- Latin America after Chávez
- Manning Trial Underscores Obamas Broken Promise
- Fire Safety Lessons from Nigeria
- Dennis Rodman Visits North Korea
- New Blog Posts
- Selected News Alerts
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1) Latin America after Chávez
When Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez succumbed to cancer last week, did his revolution die with him? Chávezs hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, will attempt to lead the Latin American leftwith the backing of Havana, which has gained huge influence in Venezuela by providing 45,000 Cuban workers to help staff Chavezs social programs. But according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Maduro faces two major challenges: he lacks his predecessors charisma, and he faces stiff competition from other leaders eager to take Chávezs place as an ideological leader.
Argentinas Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner would love to lead the Latin American left. Her administration has taken the country further toward the left on matters of economic policy, and she has taken to denouncing foreign imperialists and making regular trips to Havana to shore up her radical bona fides. But Argentinas constitution currently prohibits Kirchner from seeking another presidential terman obstacle she is seeking to have amended. Evo Morales of Bolivia would also seem like a strong candidate, given the symbolism of his indigenous roots, but the movement that propelled him into office has criticized him for failing to make good on his promises of social justice. What about Rafael Correa of Ecuador? Vargas Llosa calls him the intellectual alpha male of the pack, but Ecuadors diminished economic powerthe country defaulted on some of its national debt in 2008would prevent Correa from handing out favors to foreign allies in the lavish manner that Venezuelas huge oil resources allowed Chávez to do. And as for Dilma Rousseff of Brazilshe seems more interested in reviving her countrys moribund economy than in leading the Latin American left.
With no viable leader to take up Chávezs mantle, the future portends disarray for the Latin American left, Vargas Llosa writes. Fearful that this may spell the end of the movement, there is but one miracle the left can cling tothat Chávez finds a way to rise from his...deathbed.
The End of the Latin American Left, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (Foreign Policy, 2/7/13)
The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
2) Manning Trial Underscores Obamas Broken Promise
In his first run for the Oval Office, Barack Obama promised to protect government whistleblowers. Has he lived up to his word? Hardly. According to Bloomberg News, his attorney general, Eric Holder, has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under than World War I−era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined. Particularly egregious is the administrations persecution of Bradley Manning, the army soldier who provided WikiLeaks with documents revealing severe U.S. military malfeasance, such as the 2007 killings in Iraq made famous in a video that went viral three years ago. Mannings recent guilty plea, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Anthony Gregory, should remind Americans not only of Obamas broken promise to make the government more transparent and accountable, but also of the heroism of those who have risked their lives and liberties to draw attention to government misconduct.
Many struggle to reconcile their genuine commitments to human rights with their admiration for the president, Gregory writes. But here no reconciliation is possible. Manning is the good guy in this whole ordeal, and his persecution at the hands of the Obama administration should be condemned as loudly as anything that happened on Bushs watch.
Manning, who has already served about one thousand days, could get up to 20 years in prison. A presidential pardon for him would not be unprecedented: Andrew Johnson pardoned Confederate soldiers; Warren Harding pardoned conscription foe Eugene Debs; and Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft-dodgers. A pardon from Obama is possible, but its almost certainly not imminent. A lot of things can happen, Gregory continues, but Manning will most likely suffer for at least the remainder of Obamas second term.
Obamas Persecution of Bradley Manning, by Anthony Gregory (The Huffington Post, 3/6/13)
3) Fire Safety Lessons from Nigeria
No one would mistake Lagos, Nigeria, for paradise. Litter blankets the streets, blackouts occur daily, and traffic moves at a snails pace. Yet, in one realm chaotic Lagos performs well above average: fire safety. Despite a dearth of fire-fighting equipment, building fires are rare. Why?
Lagoss success in fire prevention isnt the product of strong building regulations. (Lagos effectively has none because almost no one can find where they are buried in the municipal code.) Nor is it due to the watchfulness of particularly conscientious government bureaucrats. (The city is famous for political corruption.) Instead, Lagoss fire-safety record comes from its reliance on market alternatives and private firms, according to economics professor John M. Corbin, whose article in the winter issue of The Independent Review, The Enterprise of Fire Safety in Lagos, Nigeria, draws on his extensive field research, including interviews with private- and public-sector fire departments.
The evidence from Lagos, Corbin writes, shows that market alternatives and private firms have been responsible for the best successes in improving building fire safety, whereas government measures to improve safety have been irrelevant or unreliable.
The Enterprise of Fire Safety in Lagos, Nigeria, by John M. Corbin (The Independent Review, Winter 2013)
4) Dennis Rodman Visits North Korea
Retired basketball star Dennis Rodman raised eyebrows when he ventured to North Korea at the invitation of Kim Jong Un, but the six-foot-six Hall of Famer returned with an important message: the U.S. policy of isolating Pyongyang has done no good and should be changed. Its an idea whose time has come, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland.
Not that the foreign-policy establishment is ready to buy it. Rodmans appearance on ABCs This Week with George Stephanopolous was met with predictable indignation. Stephanopolous himself characterized the visit as a propaganda coup for the oppressive and bellicose dynasty that Kim Jong Un is perpetuating, whereas The Worm, as he was known on the basketball court, characterized his trip as one of sports tourism undertaken for the sake of international goodwill. Might it have been both? And might Rodman, who has spent more time with Kim than has any other American, merit more respect?
Like a shy teenager, Kim asked Rodman to do him a favor: to spread the message that he wants Obama to call him. North Koreas young dictator should be careful what he wishes for. If the United States were to reverse its policy of isolation, Kim would ultimately lose his stranglehold on the country. Counterintuitively, the North Korean leadership probably fears this possibility the most, Eland writes, because new ideas creeping into the country could lead to instability or even a revolt by the populace.
Rodmania in North Korea, by Ivan Eland (3/5/13)
5) New Blog Posts
From The Beacon:
Dangerous Medicine: When Preventive Care Meets Politics
John C. Goodman (3/11/13)
Labor Markets Are Still in Bad Shape
Robert Higgs (3/9/13)
Rand Pauls Filibuster Divides the Left and Right
Anthony Gregory (3/7/13)
The Seamy Side of the Military
Mary Theroux (3/7/13)
Will More Preventive Care Help Reduce Healthcare Costs?
John C. Goodman (3/6/13)
Alvaro Vargas Llosa (3/5/13)
Dont Rely on a Quack Doctor
Robert Higgs (3/4/13)
From MyGovCost News & Blog:
Tossing Tesla: Stimulus-Funded Vehicle a Bust in the Real World
K. Lloyd Billingsley (3/11/13)
How Washington D.C. Works (or Not), Part 3
Craig Eyerman (3/11/13)
Federal Employee Compensation vs the Private Sector
Craig Eyermann (3/8/13)
Mo Money: Government Greed and the Rockefeller Rule
K. Lloyd Billingsley (3/6/13)
6) Selected News Alerts