The Power of Independent Thinking

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Posted: Mon. February 2, 2015

April 21, 2004

Ritz-Carlton Hotel, San Francisco, CA


Peter A. Thiel, Co-Founder, PayPal, Inc.

Daniel J. Edelman, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide

Robert W. Galvin, Chairman Emeritus, Motorola, Inc.

David J. Theroux, Founder and President, The Independent Institute

Reception and Dinner

Presentation of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award

Posted: Mon. February 2, 2015

October 5, 1995

San Francisco, CA

Thirty years after the civil rights laws of the 1960s, race may still be the most divisive social issue of our time. Black unemployment, illegitimacy, crime, and school drop-out rates remain multiples of those for whites. Proposition 187's ongoing legal battles, Governor Pete Wilson's pledge to abolish affirmative action in state government, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the California Civil Rights Initiative attest to the continuing ability of race-related issues to polarize public debate. In contrast to the optimism that followed the civil rights movement of the 1960s, many today even doubt the possibility of an America characterized by widespread racial harmony.

In this Independent Policy Forum, bestselling author Dinesh D'Souza will address these and other issues, based on his new, widely acclaimed book, The End of Racism. Is racial prejudice innate, or is it culturally acquired? Is it peculiar to the West, or is it found in other societies? What is the legacy of slavery, and does contemporary America owe African-Americans compensation for it? Have government affirmative action programs helped or harmed minority groups as well as the general public? Has the civil rights movement succeeded or failed to overcome the legacy of segregation and racism? Can persons of color be racist? Is racism the most serious problem facing black Americans today, and if not, what is? Is racism an increasing or declining phenomenon?

Mr. D'Souza will chronicle the political, cultural, and intellectual history of racism. Do current government policies intended to combat the harm of racism actually help, or do they instead perpetuate a cycle of impoverishment and dependency, and hence, racial stigmatization? In his talk, Mr. D'Souza will chronicle the history of racism, examine the failed policies that have helped spread it, offer a way out of the deadlocked debate about race, and set forth guiding principles to create a more harmonious, multiracial society.

Dinesh D’Souza

Research Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Author, The End of Racism

David J. Theroux

Founder and President, The Independent Institute

Posted: Mon. February 2, 2015

December 8, 1993

San Francisco, CA

Has Hollywood the American dream factory become Hollywood the American nightmare factory? Is most of Hollywood just self-destructive as it ridicules censorship of TV violence, and in survey after survey, large majorities are registering a distaste for the entertainment industry's torrent of nihilistic, violent, and degrading work. Voting with their money, the public has largely turned such projects into financial ruin, while those films, TV, and other programs that embody values of individual achievement and humaneness are increasingly proving to be the real economic success stories.

For example, of the 1,100 films released since 1983, the average rating of the most financially successful film was PG, despite the predominance of R-rated films. In a recent Parents magazine pool, 72% rated TV as fair, poor, or terrible , and according to Gallup, only 3% of Americans believe TV conveys positive values, whereas 58% say they are often offended.

Employing meticulous research in American popular culture, Michael Medved, will draw upon his best-selling book, Hollywood vs. America, to present a comprehensive and devastating critique of why movies, popular music, and television have become dominated by brutality and a hatred for civility. Combining a passionate concern for the intellectual precision, Michael Medved will discuss how an industry can ignore the message of the market and lose touch with its audiences and the values of a free society.

In his talk, he will describe the Three Big Lies of Hollywood that have created this situation. Is Hollywood's self-destructive conduct rooted in a "political correctness" that scorns conventional America? Has an artistic disdain for "mere" commercial considerations blinded an industry into becoming prey to every peer pressure, arrogance, and emotional insecurity, and crackpot crusade to purge society?

Michael Medved and Hollywood vs. America are transforming the debate over popular culture, calling the bluff of a cynical media. Rejecting censorship as a dangerous offshoot of the assault on values, Medved demonstrates how public pressures can instead produce powerful results in bringing Hollywood into a business and cultural arena where beauty is not ridiculed; men, women, and children are not brutalize, and cruelty is not exalted.

Michael Medved

Co-Host, Sneak Previews, PBS-TV

Author, Hollywood vs. America

David J. Theroux

Founder and President, The Independent Institute

Posted: Mon. February 2, 2015

January 28, 1997

Westin St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, CA

Although America's founders attempted to build a Republic on the twin pillars of strict limits on the power of central government and strict protections of individual rights, these pillars have been eroded away. Now, at the close of the twentieth century, bestselling author, scholar and social commentator, Charles Murray, wants to restore them for all Americans. In his new book, What It Means to Be a Libertarian, he offers a radical blueprint for overhauling our dysfunctional government and replacing it with a system that safeguards human freedom and fosters human happiness.

In this special Independent Policy Forum, Charles Murray will invoke a more consistent version of the Founders' ideals and craft a clear, workable alternative to our current government. He will explain that the sprawling, costly and intrusive government that Americans have come to accept as an inevitable part of modern life is not inevitable. He will encourage Americans to liberate themselves from ingrained misconceptions of what government is and urge us to consider instead what it ought to be.

In this insightful yet very personal talk, Charles Murray will paint a vivid portrait of life in a genuinely free society. Imagine, for example, a federal government that is not just smaller, but small – with an executive branch trimmed down to the White House, and radically smaller departments of state, defense, justice and environmental protection. Imagine a Congress so limited in power it spends only a few months of each year in session. Imagine a society in which the government's role is once again to prevent people from initiating the use of force, leaving them otherwise free, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, "to regulate their own pursuit of industry and improvement."

Charles Murray will craft a workable alternative to our current government that would lead to greater individual fulfillment, stronger families, more vital communities, more wealth and less poverty, a richer culture and better care for the less fortunate.

Charles A. Murray

Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Author, What It Means to Be a Libertarian

Posted: Mon. February 2, 2015

May 6, 1996

While the White House and Congress tinker with the rate of growth of government spending and whether the welfare stste is better administered at the federal or state level, eminent legal scholar and author Richard Epstein now challenges the very roots of runaway liability and the regulatory-welfare state.

In his widely acclaimed new book, Simple Rules for a Complex World, Epstein presents a new legal framework to restore a Jeffersonian society based on individual rights, freedom to choose and the Rule of Law. In so doing, Epstein articulates six principles rooted in common law to guide law and public policy in complex times:

(1) "Individual Self-Ownership"– all individuals rightfully own themselves. (2) "First Possession"– individuals have a right to own property and almost everything should be privately owned.

(3) "Voluntary Exchange"– individuals are free to contract with others for peaceful purposes.

(4) "Protecting the Things that Are Yours"– tort law provides the most effective way to protect individuals from theft, fraud, rape, and murder. (5) "Necessity"– private property rights may be violated only in extreme cases of emergency.

(6) "Takings"– in any case of government abridgment of private property rights, through regulation or seizure, the government must justly compensate the owner financially.

At this Independent Policy Forum, Richard Epstein will employ these principles to critique the thousands of burdensome and counterproductive regulations, taxes and other government policies. He will address taxes and income redistribution, labor laws, and employment discrimination, environmental regulations, product liability laws, rent controls, zoning, and much more.

Since publication of this highly acclaimed 1985 book, Takings, Richard Epstein has become widely regarded as the preeminent legal contrarian of our time, challenging the philosophies of liberals and conservatives alike. His path-breaking scholarship and penetrating analyses have launched a quiet revolution, earning him the respect of even his staunchest critics. With the escalating anti-political sentiment of the public and the growing demand to de-bureaucratize and and de-politicize American life, Epstein's powerful and learned call for devolution, tort reform, economic liberalization and privatization could not be more timely.

Richard A. Epstein

Professor of Law, University of Chicago

Author, Simple Rules for a Complex World

Posted: Wed. January 28, 2015

Sr. Fellow Ivan Eland appears on Doug Stephan's Good Day radio show to talk about the DEA and their tactics of accessing data from civilians' phone calls. According to Eland, this is an example of one agency borrowing tactics from another in violation of the Constitution.

Posted: Wed. January 28, 2015

Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman, author of "Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis" was interviewed on World News Radio to comment on the average person's penalty for not having health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Posted: Wed. January 28, 2015

Research Fellow Jonathan Bean, author of Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader appeared on WORD radio to discuss Bean's recent Op-Ed about his experience on the Illinois State Advisory Committee on Civil Rights. On Martin Luther King Day, Bean says King's dream of a more just society is poorly served by ignoring viewpoints that disagree with our own.