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The Main Blog of Independent Institute

Thanksgiving for California’s Paradise Lost
Wednesday November 25, 2020 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Guidance for Private Gatherings” limits the number of participants at Thanksgiving celebrations and even warns Californians to keep their voices down. That should not be a problem because, as this Independent Institute video shows, Californians have little to shout about these days.  (more…)

Gov. Newsom Launders COVID-19 Restrictions
Wednesday November 25, 2020 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

On October 9, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued “Guidance for Private Gatherings,” which restricted the number of families attending the same non-public event, recommended a time limit of two hours, and demanded masks and social distancing. Any singing or chanting should be done in a low voice, wind instruments are banned, and the host is to take names of “all attendees,” should contract tracing be needed later. The next month, Gov. Newsom showed how serious he was taking the guidelines. (more…)

Stem Cell Boondoggle Bloats by $5.5 Billion
Monday November 23, 2020 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Proposition 14, California’s $5.5 billion Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative, was declared a victor last week by a margin of 51-49 percent. How much post-election ballot harvesting contributed to the margin is unknown, and voters have cause to wonder how the measure landed on the ballot. As we noted, backers Americans for Cures needed more than 600,000 signatures by April 18, and they resorted to desperate measures. As this writer twice verified, signature gatherers falsely claimed the measure sought only $1.5 billion. As the deadline approached, Don Reed, Americans for Cures vice president of public policy, began pushing for mail-in signatures. (more…)

Populism Is Far From Over
Wednesday November 18, 2020 | Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Many people overseas infer from President Trump’s electoral defeat that most Americans are finally fed up with populism. They miss the fact that populism is just as powerful in the Democratic Party as it is in the Republican Party and that Trump got some 70 million votes. Populism has been a defining trait of anti-Trumpism these past few years, just as it is defining trait of Trumpism. The polarization of U.S. society and politics sometimes makes it hard to see that populism invades a large part of the political spectrum. (more…)

Free Will: Getting the Economics Right
Tuesday November 17, 2020 | James A. Montanye

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein [Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921; Philosophical Investigations, 1953] famously argued for the analytical necessity of “getting the grammar right.” By his lights, the inadequacy of language for representing ethical, aesthetic, and metaphysical concepts unavoidably creates philosophical pseudo-problems; genuine problems were said to be scientific rather than philosophical. Philosophy’s task, therefore, is to expose meaningless nonsense. Problems that cannot be resolved linguistically were deemed to be intrinsically insoluble, and so should be abandoned. (more…)

Celebrities Cash In on COVID-Relief Fraud
Tuesday November 17, 2020 | Craig Eyermann

To borrow a line from the movie Taken, the U.S. government has a “particular set of skills.” It borrows trillions of dollars and it spends trillions of dollars. Unlike Liam Neeson’s character in Taken, Uncle Sam isn’t particularly good at either of these skills. After state and local governments shuttered businesses and mandated residents stay-at-home in the early months of the coronavirus epidemic, the federal government borrowed and spent like nobody’s business to provide relief to businesses and individuals who became unemployed as a result of the lockdowns. When all was said and done, the federal government borrowed and spent at least $1.55 trillion just on COVID-19 relief during its 2020 fiscal year. (more…)

Will Pillage People Triumph Over Working People?
Monday November 16, 2020 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

California’s Proposition 15, the “Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Educational and Local Government Funding Initiative,” has lost 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. This measure would have taxed commercial and industrial property on their market value rather than purchase price. Residential properties would have still been taxed based on purchase price, with annual increases equal to the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower. This limit is the result of Proposition 13, from 1978, when people were literally being taxed out of their homes. (more…)

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