The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute. Subscribe
now, or browse Back Issues
Volume 7, Issue 21: May 23, 2005
- Wine Consumers Toast Supreme Court Decision
- Immigration Reform and Property Rights
- U.S. Foreign-Policy Marred by Messianic Interventionism
- Vargas Llosa to Direct New Center on Global Prosperity
1) Wine Consumers Toast Supreme Court Decision
Last week's Supreme Court decision striking down laws in New York and Michigan that discriminate against out-of-state winemakers is a blow for free trade between the states, but it does not guarantee that wine will always flow freely, according to Douglas Glen Whitman, a research fellow at the Independent Institute and author of STRANGE BREW:
"The Courts decision represents a victory for consumers -- but potentially a short-lived one," Whitman writes in a new op-ed. "States may choose to let all wineries ship directly to in-state consumers, so wine drinkers can enjoy the convenience of ordering online, secure fast delivery, and avoid the substantial mark-ups of wholesalers. Alternatively, states may decide to force all wineries, including the local ones, to go through the wholesalers gauntlet."
Whitman explains that the Court's decision does not affect the states' regulation of alcohol within their border, an intervention created by a loophole found in the same Amendment that repealed Prohibition.
"Wholesalers constitute a powerful lobby, which will assuredly try to exploit the last remaining loophole by banning all direct sales to consumers, whether from in-state or out-of-state wineries," Whitman writes. "They will do all they can to convince legislators and the general public that wholesalers are needed to collect taxes, ensure quality, and protect children from the demon drink. If such fig-leaf justifications succeed, the wholesalers privileged position will be safeguarded and their future profits assured, while wine consumers get the short end of the stick. We can only hope the public will stand up to the special interests, and tell their representatives to free the grapes."
"State Legislators Must Join Supreme Court in Protecting Wine Consumers," by Douglas Glen Whitman (5/19/05)
"Los Legisladores Estaduales Deben Unirse a la Corte Suprema en la Protección de los Consumidores de Vino"
To purchase STRANGE BREW: Alcohol and Government Monopoly, by Douglas Glen Whitman, see
2) Immigration Reform and Property Rights
Can the immigration debate be resolved to everyone's satisfaction? Certainly its hard for parties to meet halfway when there is no agreement about the basic economic facts of immigration. For example, the private "Minutemen" patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border are probably unaware that the economic case for immigration is much stronger than they believe, notes Benjamin Powell, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation.
"Economists studying the impact of immigration have not found conclusive evidence that a larger supply of immigrant workers lower American wages," writes Powell, in a new op-ed. Nor is immigration proven to take away jobs from residents, says Powell: "When we have more workers, we find more jobs for them to do."
Furthermore, those who fear the loss of jobs due to outsourcing are also ignorant that at least some outsourcing -- for example, at Microsoft, according to Bill Gates -- is due to the federal quota on hiring workers under the H1-B visa program.
According to Powell, the right immigration reforms could satisfy the concerns of both employers who want access to the talent pool of foreign workers and critics of illegal immigration who complain that the rights of property owners along the U.S.'s southern border are violated by littering trespassers.
"Bushs proposal to increase temporary three-year work visas is a small step in the right direction," writes Powell. "Unfortunately, it creates perverse incentives by requiring workers to go home after three years, and its effects will be too small to alleviate the concerns of the anti-immigrant Minutemen and pro-immigrant employers who wish to hire foreign workers.
"The only policy that is consistent with the private-property rights and freedom of association is one that allows free immigration for all who desire it -- in other words, open immigration with full protection of property rights. Fortunately, such a policy also brings economic benefits to American citizens and is the most humane for the immigrants themselves."
See "Immigration Reform that Both Sides Can Support," by Benjamin Powell (5/18/05) http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1511
"Una Reforma Migratoria a la que Ambas Partes Puedan Apoyar"
For more on immigration, go to:
3) U.S. Foreign-Policy Marred by Messianic Interventionism
George W. Bush wasn't the first American president to wage an aggressive "pro-democracy" foreign policy. Woodrow Wilson, every American student is taught, sent U.S. troops into the First World War to make the world "safe for democracy." And like Bush, Wilson's crusade was strongly at odds with views espoused by Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison, as Ivan Eland, senior fellow director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty, argues in his latest op-ed.
"This bi-partisan consensus on spreading democracy at gunpoint would have mortified the nations founders," writes Eland.
America's foreign-policy crusaders have not consistently practiced what they preached, however. Bush's weak comment on recent human-rights violations perpetrated by the governments of Egypt and Uzbekistan, for example, do not suggest particularly strong sympathies with democratic reformers abroad. Nor is Bush unique in his "democratic" duplicity. Radical Islamists, in fact, cite a pattern of unprincipled U.S. support for despotic regimes in the Islamic world as their reason for taking up arms against the United States.
"The United States has made a great error in conducting a messianic, albeit often hypocritical, campaign to convert the world to 'democratic' government using an interventionist foreign policy," Eland continues. "Instead, U.S. policy makers should spend more time defending liberty at home from al Qaeda and other real threats and becoming a peaceful refuge of human rights for the world to emulate -- the kind of American exceptionalism that the founders originally intended."
See "The Harvest of Messianic Foreign Policy: Anti-U.S. Radical Islam," by Ivan Eland (5/23/05)
To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see
"The Way Out of Iraq: Decentralizing the Iraqi Government," by Ivan Eland
Center on Peace & Liberty
4) Vargas Llosa to Direct New Center on Global Prosperity
The Independent Institute is pleased to announce the launch of its new Center on Global Prosperity. Created with the purpose of studying enterprise-based approaches to ending abject poverty in developing countries in Latin American and around the world, the Center is the result of a $500,000 award from the John Templeton Foundation's "What Works in Enterprise-Based Solutions to Poverty" competition.
The Center will be directed by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression.
"We are very encouraged by this prestigious award," said Vargas Llosa. "Our new Center on Global Prosperity will conduct case-studies of many communities in Latin America and other parts of the underdeveloped world that have actually been able to create wealth by using their entrepreneurial and innovative spirit to overcome numerous obstacles."
The Independent Institute was one of three organizations selected by the Templeton Foundation to receive funding for a project on enterprise-based solutions for reducing poverty.
For more information, see
To purchase LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, see