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

Volume 7, Issue 35: August 29, 2005

  1. Top Ten Reasons to "Undo" Iraq
  2. Understanding the Bias against Market Solutions
  3. IMMIGRATION WARS: Open or Closed Borders for America?

1) Top Ten Reasons to "Undo" Iraq

Iraq's newly drafted Constitution -- which has passed muster with Shiite and Kurdish leaders but not Sunni Arab leaders -- "has put the country on the road to eventual partition," writes Ivan Eland -- senior fellow and director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty -- in his latest op-ed. The best response by the Bush administration, according to Eland, would be to recognize this truth, help broker the partition, declare victory, and leave Iraq. Such a policy, according to Eland, would have at least ten benefits.

A U.S.-brokered partitioning of Iraq, Eland argues, could also include a revenue sharing agreement that would satisfy Sunni Arabs, who live largely in oil-poor central Iraq, as well as the Shiites and Kurds; this in turn could help avert a civil war. Partitioning Iraq and withdrawing U.S. troops also "would take much of the fire out of a Sunni insurgency" and save American taxpayers billions of dollars. In addition, a partitioning would "limit Iranian influence to the southern part of the country."

Furthermore, a partitioning of Iraq and subsequent U.S. withdrawal would also help foster an indigenous, Iraqi-style democracy -- which would have a greater chance of succeeding and becoming "a model for the rest of the Islamic world," writes Eland. U.S. withdrawal would also likely lead to a reduction in the number of anti-U.S. jihadists, who are currently learning in Iraq deadly terrorist tactics that can be used against Americans. Withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would also allow U.S. policy-makers to focus resources on "neutralizing the al Qaeda terror network" and encourage the removal of the U.S. government's recent restrictions on the civil liberties of law-abiding Americans. Finally, withdrawing U.S. troops sooner rather than later would allow the U.S. to maintain some credibility and honor, according to Eland.

"The U.S. military has admitted that the Iraqi rebellion cannot be defeated by force of arms," writes Eland. "And the new Constitution probably will not allow the United States to suck the energy out of the insurgency politically by co-opting the Sunnis into the new Iraq. In fact, the Constitution will likely intensify Sunni resistance. It is time for the U.S. to cut its losses and get out before the civil war starts, the violence becomes too great, and the window to withdraw with dignity closes and is replaced by 'fleeing under fire.'"

See "Top Ten Reasons to 'Undo' Iraq in Due Haste," by Ivan Eland (8/29/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1558
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"Las Diez Principales Razones Para 'Deshacer' Irak con la Debida Prisa"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1558

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=54

To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=19

"The Way Out of Iraq: Decentralizing the Iraqi Government," by Ivan Eland
http://www.independent.org/publications/policy_reports/detail.asp?type=full&id=16

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

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2) Understanding the Bias against Market Solutions

Why do some people never support a free-market proposal even when they think it would benefit everyone, especially the least well off? On its surface, the question seems absurd: why would anyone disfavor a proposal they thought would work best?

But economist Daniel Klein met one such individual -- a Nobel laureate economist who expressed this preference at a national conference -- and the encounter encouraged Klein to investigate the phenomenon he calls "the people's romance" (TPR) -- the widely held notion that collective political action is noble because it means “we're all working together."

"When people think of society at large as the group to which they belong -- when they think of having 'citizenship,' whether it be in a town, a county, or a country -- the logic of coordination leads directly to government as the focal point," writes Klein in the summer issue of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW. "Unparalled in power, permanence, and pervasiveness, the government is prominent, conspicuous, unique, focal."

Interventionists often invoke the language of TPR to rally support for non-essential government programs. The former head of the U.S. Postal Services, for example, used it to rationalize the existence of his agency, as did the director of the 2000 U.S. census. Notions of community "togetherness" may make us feel warm and fuzzy during a parade on Main Street, but they can also create a climate in which political demagogues can trample individual rights in the name of some higher collective good.

Can a "people's romance" be based on liberty? Klein doesn't think so: "To refrain from violating others' liberty, from extorting and bullying, is not the realization of a lofty aspiration, but a minimal requirement of decency. Whereas TPR needs to supply a positive story of action and achievement, the basic laws of justice do not project any dramatic endeavor." In other words, justice itself -- and not a romantic myth about society and allegedly more noble collective aspiration -- is sufficient to achieve a free society.

This is perhaps why economists have often been unpopular: Their argument that social harmony is achieved in a market economy through individuals pursuing their self-interest privately -- Adam Smith's "invisible hand" -- seems to discount the necessity or benevolence of political decision-making. It also suggests that some economists may be too intimidated by TPR to propound the laissez-faire implications of economic principles.

See "The People's Romance: Why People Love Government (as Much as They Do)," by Daniel B. Klein, at
http://www.Independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=42&articleID=536

For more articles by Daniel B. Klein, see
http://www.independent.org/aboutus/staff-articles.asp?id=538&pid=2

Subscribe to THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW
http://www.independent.org/store/tir/subscriptions.asp

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3) IMMIGRATION WARS: Open or Closed Borders for America?

Journalist Peter Laufer and economist Benjamin Powell to Address Independent Policy Forum, Oakland, CA (9/21/05)

http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=110

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stunned many this spring when he praised an armed citizens' group patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border in search of undocumented immigrants. In contrast, President Bush called the group “vigilantes” and proposed that the federal government issue more three-year work visas to foreign workers.

Former NBC News correspondent PETER LAUFER argues that both politicians have overlooked the enormous social costs of U.S. immigration restrictions and proposes a bold alternative in his new book, WETBACK NATION. Economist BENJAMIN POWELL (Director of the Independent Institute's Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation) argues that 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 Americans are being violated by trespassing illegal aliens.

Please join us for a stimulating program on one of today's most hotly debated public issues.

SPEAKERS:

PETER LAUFER has reported from Mexico and the Borderlands for more than twenty years, as an NBC News correspondent and as a freelance writer for a variety of publications. He has also served as chief researcher for an Internews investigation of Mexico funded by the Packard Foundation. Mr. Laufer's books include EXODUS TO BERLIN, IRON CURTAIN RISING, NIGHTMARE ABROAD, and, most recently, WETBACK NATION

BENJAMIN POWELL is a research fellow and director of the Independent Institute's Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation and also assistant professor of economics at San Jose State University. He has lectured on immigration at the Philadelphia Society and published articles on the subject in SAN FRANCISCO BUSINESS TIMES and PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL, and he is currently conducting research on the costs of immigration control. Dr. Powell is also the co-author of the study, "Housing Supply and Affordability," has contributed chapters to numerous books, and has published scholarly articles in such journals as PUBLIC CHOICE, JOURNAL OF LABOR RESEARCH, CATO JOURNAL, and the QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS. His popular articles have appeared in the WASHINGTON POST, SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, BOSTON HERALD, SACRAMENTO BEE and elsewhere.

WHEN:
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Reception and book signing: 6:30 p.m.
Program: 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

WHERE:
The Independent Institute Conference Center
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
For a map and directions, see
http://www.independent.org/aboutus/map.asp

TICKETS: $15 per person ($10 for Independent Institute Members). Special Offer: Admission with a copy of LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA is $22 ($18 for members) -- a 15% savings on the book. Reserve tickets by calling (510) 632-1366 or ordering online at http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=110.

Praise for the book, WETBACK NATION: The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border, by Peter Laufer:

“Laufer understands this issue better than most and, in his adventurous new book WETBACK NATION, offers some outrageously simple -- and quite possibly workable -- solutions to a very old problem.”
--Sanford Ungar, President, Goucher College; author of Fresh Blood: The New American Immigrants

“Wetback Nation is an extraordinary journalistic contribution to the Mexican immigration debate.”
--Rosental Calmon Alves, director, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University of Texas

“A captivating, informative read infused with deep and genuine empathy for those who suffer the most under current immigration policy.”
--SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

For more information about this event, see
http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=110

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