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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 8, Issue 1: January 3, 2006

  1. Airport Screening to Become More Intrusive, but Not More Effective
  2. Top Reason for Questioning the Casual Issuance of Restraining Orders
  3. Bolivia's New President
  4. EMINENT DOMAIN: Abuse of Government Power?

1) Airport Screening to Become More Intrusive, but Not More Effective

This year the U.S. Transportation Security Agency will begin behavior monitoring of airplane passengers at 40 major American airport, reports Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty. "The screeners," writes Eland in his latest op-ed, "will look for 'suspicious' signs that might indicate a passenger could be a terrorist: having dry lips or a throbbing carotid artery (I'm not kidding), failure to make eye contact with or say hello to the screener, or evasive or slow answers to casual questions asked by the screener."

Eland notes several flaws with this approach: It hasn't been field-tested for real-world effectiveness. It could easily transform into racial profiling. It fails to reduce the underlying causes of anti-U.S. terrorism. Terrorists who have practiced looking innocent could circumvent it easily. What, then, is the program good for?

"Since the behavior detection program is unlikely to catch many professional terrorists, perhaps its real goal is to improve the morale of the unloved screeners by giving the public some incentive to be nice to them," writes Eland. "So next time you travel by air, don't forget your fake smile and ChapStick."

Will it last? Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs suggests that the public probably will tolerate greater intrusions by TSA airport screeners. "Strange as it might seem, most people get used to being treated as criminals or inmates in a concentration camp," Higgs wrote last month. "Americans are no exception. Keep beating them down, and eventually you will produce a thoroughly cowed and compliant herd, a mass of pliant raw material in the hands of their political masters, perfectly willing to sacrifice their dignity rather than irritate an airport-security thug and be made to miss a flight. And heaven forbid that they write their congressional representative to complain. Such impudence might get them placed on some black list at the TSA or even at the FBI. Best to keep quiet, stay in line, act as they are ordered to act."

See "Chatting Up the TSA," by Ivan Eland (12/30/05)
"Adulando a la Administración de la Seguridad del Transporte"

Also see "Traveling Sheep," by Robert Higgs (12/14/05)
"Oveja Viajera"

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

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)


2) Top Reason for Questioning the Casual Issuance of Restraining Orders

Late-night television personality David Letterman last month received a temporary restraining order (TRO) barring him from making televised remarks or gestures that one female viewer claimed expressed his desire to marry her. The woman's TRO application claimed that Letterman had communicated with her -- in code and for more than 10 years -- causing her mental anguish, sleep deprivation, and bankruptcy. The order has since been lifted.

Although the absurdity of the accusation may be worthy of Letterman's famed Top Ten lists, the episode demonstrates the pitfalls of the TRO process, according to Research Fellow Wendy McElroy, editor of such books as LIBERTY FOR WOMEN and FREEDOM, FEMINISM, AND THE STATE.

"The seeming ease with which TROs are issued constitutes a problem for those who wish all restraining orders to be taken seriously," writes McElroy in her latest op-ed. "Any court order that can be obtained over the phone by stating a fear, or picked up at Window 3 in a little over an hour, trivializes the process.

"But a TRO is not trivial. It is a legal constraint upon another human being's freedom. It should be issued only in the presence of a real threat. False or frivolous applications should be viewed in the same manner as are false policy reports."

See "Abuse of Temporary Restraining Orders Endangers Real Victims," by Wendy McElroy (12/29/05)
"El Abuso de las Ordenes de Restricción Temporales Pone en Peligro a las Verdaderas Victimas"

LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century, ed. by Wendy McElroy

"The home for individualist feminism on the net" (Wendy McElroy, director)


3) Bolivia's New President

Bolivia's president-elect, Evo Morales, may aspire to follow in the footsteps of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, but the economic and regional cards he's been dealt suggest that he won't be able to implement much of his leftist agenda, according to Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity.

For starters, although Morales stated that he'd like to nationalize the oil industry and redistribute privately owned estates, he won't have access to anything approaching the sizable oil revenue that Chavez has had for building his support network. Furthermore, many of his supporters want greater local autonomy and have said they will resist attempts to cede power to the central government. Finally, Morales will have to come to terms with Brazil, which is now one of Bolivia's few foreign investors.

The consequences of Morales attempting to evade these constraints could spell political suicide, Vargas Llosa argues.

"Bolivia has had left-wing governments before that were toppled by the same people who made them possible," he writes. "President Carlos Mesa, who replaced Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in 2003 after violent demonstrations, had the support of the population when he reneged on natural gas contracts with foreign investors and led a virulent campaign against Chile. Yet the masses still turned against him, forcing his resignation in June."

If U.S. policymakers wish to help spur Bolivian economic development and foster good relations across the hemisphere, Vargas Llosa adds, they should aggressively eliminate protectionist trade restrictions rather than work to curb Morales's plan to decriminalize coca growing.

See "No Left Turn," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (NEW YORK TIMES, 12/27/05)
"No Girar a la Izquierda"

Also see "Bolivia's Nightmare," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (12/1/05)
"La Pesadilla de Bolivia"

To pre-order THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERTY, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (January 2006), see

LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five-Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)

Spanish-language Blog:
El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute


4) EMINENT DOMAIN: Abuse of Government Power?

STEVEN GREENHUT documented and warned us about the growing misuse of government power in his 2004 book, ABUSE OF POWER: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain. In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London that local governments may force property owners to sell out and to make way for private economic development, even if the property is not blighted. In response, many states have passed legislation and proposed amendments to their state constitutions to block this unprecedented government assault on the rights of property owners. Timothy Sandefur, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of property owners in the Kelo case. In addition, he consulted in the drafting of Senator Tom McClintock's proposed constitutional amendment to limit eminent domain in California.

Please join us on the night of January 31st for a very timely and stimulating program with Steven Greenhut and Timothy Sandefur to learn about the many ways property owners are fighting back to protect their rights.


-- Steven Greenhut is senior editorial writer and columnist for the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. He is a widely published opinion writer who writes extensively about property. He is the author of ABUSE OF POWER: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain.

-- Timothy Sandefur is a staff attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, where he is currently working to prevent the abuse of eminent domain and to protect the right to earn a living under the Fourteenth Amendment. He holds a J.D. from Chapman University School of Law and a B.A. in political economy from Hillsdale College.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Reception and book signing: 6:30 p.m.

Program: 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.


The Independent Institute Conference Center

100 Swan Way

Oakland, CA 94621-1428

For a map and directions, see

TICKETS: $15 per person ($10 for Independent Institute Members). Special Offer: Admission and a copy ABUSE OF POWER: $30 ($25 for members). Reserve tickets by calling (510) 632-1366 or ordering online at

Praise for ABUSE OF POWER: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain, by Steven Greenhut:

“ABUSE OF POWER is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the pervasive plundering committed by governments across this nation.”

“Greenhut offers the most compelling case I've read against the misuse of eminent domain. He does so clearly and convincingly arguing that the real bad guys aren't liberals but big business in cahoots with government.”
--JAMES L. DOTI, President, Chapman University

“A hard-hitting expose of another of Big Brother's tricks....If it doesn't make you grind your teeth, nothing will.”

For more information about this event, see


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  • Beyond Homeless