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The Main Blog of Independent Institute

How to Rescue the U.S. Postal Service
Monday January 20, 2020 | Craig Eyermann

The government-run U.S. Postal Service began in 2020 with a dubious track record. It has lost money in each of the past 13 years. In 2019, USPS made $514 million more in revenue than it did in its previous fiscal year, thanks to increases in postage rates and its package delivery business. But the agency also recorded a net loss of $8.8 billion, with 80 percent of that loss attributable to employees’ health-care benefits after retirement. (more…)

Robert Klein, Davy Crockett, and the Quest for Another $5.5 Billion for Stem Cells
Monday January 20, 2020 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

As this column has often noted, the 2004 ballot measure Proposition 71, the $3 billion California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, promised life-saving cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases, plus a steady stream of royalties for state coffers. In 2020, a ballpark estimate for the promised cures and therapies is zero, and the royalties fail to surpass the annual salary of Art Torres, the former state senator the government hired to help oversee the stem cell agency. Even so, Americans for Cures, a non-profit headed by original Proposition 71 backer Robert Klein, is floating the California Stem Cell Research, Treatments, and Cures Initiative of 2020 (more…)

Will FDA Approve Biogen’s Promising New Treatment for Alzheimer’s?
Thursday January 16, 2020 | Raymond J. March

We’re only a few weeks into the new year, and the Food and Drug Administration will soon make a decision that will affect pharmaceutical regulation for decades. Last year, after failing an FDA-required futility test, Biogen abandoned its efforts to develop an Alzheimer’s treatment named aducanumab. However, after conducting an analysis using an expanded dataset, Biogen found the drug successfully curbed memory loss and helped maintain cognitive abilities (more…)

Federal Reserve Underwrites Washington’s Spending Binge
Wednesday January 15, 2020 | Craig Eyermann

On October 11, 2019, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it would begin buying billions of Treasury bills every month to ensure the nation’s banking system would have “ample reserves” through the end of 2019 as part of its efforts to help prevent a liquidity crisis from wreaking havoc in U.S. money markets. (more…)

Iran’s Greatest Myth: Moderates Waiting in the Wings
Wednesday January 15, 2020 | Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Every time Iran is in the news, the same old myths about the country’s politics seem to fill the airwaves and the print media, fueled by politicians and commentators. By far the most important myth is the one that divides the regime between hardliners and moderates. According to this view, a significant part of the establishment, including President Hassan Rouhani himself, is made up of closet moderates who are waiting for the opportunity to restore relations with the West and reform, perhaps even dismantle, the political system and begin a transition. The opportunity for them to overthrow the Ayatollah and the mullahs, the story goes, will come about as a result of western pressure. (more…)

Pentagon Announces New Strategy for Combating Price Gougers: Paying Attention
Monday January 13, 2020 | Craig Eyermann

The U.S. Department of Defense has a big problem with part suppliers who exploit government regulations over time to jack up the prices of products far above what it costs to make them, costing taxpayers millions of dollars more than they should have to pay for them. In particular, the firm TransDigm has been singled out for its business practices in this area.   But now, the Pentagon is going to start fighting back by doing something it has rarely done in its history: pay attention to what it is paying for the unique parts and equipment it needs to buy to ensure military readiness. Bloomberg‘s Anthony Capaccio has the story: (more…)

Bombshell Bombs With Too Much Hollywood, Too Little Real Life
Monday January 13, 2020 | Samuel R. Staley

Bombshell, the narrative film chronicling sexual harassment at Fox News, appears to be a dud at the box office. After three weeks in theaters, it still hasn’t generated enough revenue to cover its production budget, a leading indicator of commercial failure. Yet, the movie has A-List actors, directors, producers, and a timely topic. What happened? (more…)

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