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Volume 8, Issue 37: September 11, 2006

  1. 9/11 Anniversary Roundup
  2. The Latins Go Nuclear
  3. Gas Tax Would Raise Prices
  4. Transportation Experts to Discuss Private-Sector Cures for Highway Congestion (Washington, D.C., Sept. 28)

1) 9/11 Anniversary Roundup

Ivan Eland and Paul Sullivan of the Independent Institute weigh in on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. According to Eland, director the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty, yearly public remembrances of that horrible event do few people, including the survivors, any good.

"The only ones benefiting from this 'wear-it-on-your sleeve' grief for the dead are the politicians and the monstrous terrorists who perpetrated the attacks," Eland writes in his latest op-ed. The politicians benefit by using fears of future attacks to increase their own power, while the terrorists benefit by making Americans more afraid than is warranted.

Concludes Eland: "In the future, the loved ones of 9/11 victims would probably be better off if our society left them alone to mourn in private without the media’s klieg lights. And our country would certainly be better off to rid itself of the annual combination of collective self-flagellation and opportunistic fear mongering. Only the terrorists lose by ending the annual media extravaganzas."

Research Fellow Paul Sullivan, who also teaches economics at the National Defense University, argues that if Americans are to win the war of ideas, they must take greater care in not linking Islam with terrorism.

"Nothing in Islam’s laws of war allows indiscriminate murder," Sullivan writes. "To say that the Koran supports such activities is a grave insult to Muslims. The correct terms for these transgressors in Islamic terminology might be erhabeen (terrorists), mufsidoon (evil ones), and the like. One of these persons is not a mujihad, but a qatil ’l amd, a murderer—plain and simple.... Calling them jihadists is like calling Che Guevara and Carlos the Jackal 'freedom fighters.'”

"Fear Mongering on the Anniversary of 9/11," by Ivan Eland
"Alarmismo en el aniversario del 11/09"

"Losing the War of Ideas," by Paul Sullivan (9/8/06)
"Perdiendo la guerra de las ideas"

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)


THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed


2) The Latins Go Nuclear

The news media have focused on the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea but have paid little attention to the relaunching of nuclear programs in Argentina and Brazil, which scrapped their nuclear weapons programs in the 1990s. Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity, remedies this omission in his latest column for the Washington Post Writers Group.

"Both countries say their intentions are benign," writes Vargas Llosa. "However, military establishments in both countries have a history with nuclear weapons and delivery systems."

Brazil and Argentina are reviving (and subsidizing) their nuclear power industries not because of any inherent shortage of energy, but because they have adopted bad economic policies (such as Argentina's price controls on natural gas) and have a misguided national pride. "If the United States, a very wealthy nation, wants to divert resources to subsidize the revival of nuclear energy in the context of a national hysteria about oil," Vargas Llosa writes, "it's a luxury Americans can probably afford. Latin Americans can't."

"The Latins Go Nuclear," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (9/6/06)

¿Una Sudamérica nuclear?

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

THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)

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


3) Gas Tax Would Raise Prices

California voters will decide this November whether or not to subsidize alternative-energy research by imposing a tax on oil production. The measure -- Proposition 87 -- comes at a time when gasoline prises have increased by more than a dollar per gallon, yet the measure would discourage oil production, which has decreased every year since 1996, and thereby push gas prices higher, according to Benjamin Powell, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation.

"Taxing oil production will accelerate this trend, by discouraging new oil exploration and encouraging the premature closing of existing oil fields," Powell writes in a new op-ed. By making domestic oil production more expensive, Prop. 87 would also turn consumers toward foreign oil sources, whose price would become relatively cheaper compared to California-produced oil.

The most efficient (i.e., least wasteful) way to encourage alternative energy transportation, according to Powell, is to let free-market prices send the right signals to entrepreneurs, who have a direct stake in earning profits and avoiding losses: "Automobile companies, venture capitalists, and inventors will have all the incentives they need to develop alternative fuel transportation that will best serve consumer demands. A California bureaucracy dispensing billions of dollars to researchers will only distort those incentives, and will likely drive the market away from serving consumer demands."

"Prop. 87: Paying at the Pump and Misdirecting Innovation," by Benjamin Powell (9/1/06)

"La Proposición 87 de California hará que paguemos más en el surtidor y guiará eróneamente a la innovación"

Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation (Benjamin Powell, director)


4) Transportation Experts to Discuss Private-Sector Cures for Highway Congestion (Washington, D.C., Sept. 28)

On Thursday, September 28, the Independent Institute will host a panel of transportation experts to discuss new opportunities for improving road transportation by making greater use of private-sector road construction, maintenance and financing.

Highway construction and maintenance in the United States, as commuters can attest, has not kept up with the growing demand for roads. The basic reason why the supply of roads has lagged far behind the growing demand "is that the provision of roads responds to the interests of politicians rather than the needs of road users," according to transportation economist Gabriel Roth, one of the conference speakers and editor of STREET SMART: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads.

Fortunately, policymakers appear to be open to new approaches that bypass political obstacles: Last February, Transportation Secretary Norman Minetta announced a federal initiative to encourage highway financing by relying more on tolls and private-sector investment. More recently, the administration announced the nomination of former Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters -- who wrote the foreword to STREET SMART -- to succeed Minetta.

Drawing on the principles that make STREET SMART "an important contribution to the ongoing debate on how best road services might be provided" (Mary Peters), the Independent Institute's conference presents some of the most forward-thinking transportation experts from academia, industry, and government.


Gabriel Roth, Research Fellow, The Independent Institute; editor, STREET SMART
Daniel Klein, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Greg Cohen, President, American Highway Users Alliance
Patrick Jones, Executive Director, International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association
D.J. Gribbin, Division Director, Macquarie Holdings
James Ray, Chief Counsel, FHWA, U.S. Department of Transportation
Thomas Downs, President, Eno Foundation
Ike Brannon, Chief Economist, Office of Senator Orrin Hatch
Moderator: Alexander Tabarrok, Research Director, The Independent Institute


Thursday, September 28, 2006
12:00 p.m: Registration and Light Lunch
1:00-4:00 p.m.: Program


Washington, D.C. Independent Institute Conference Center
1319 18th Street, N.W.
Washington DC, 20036

Reservations required. R.S.V.P. to 800-927-8733 or [email protected].

Praise for STREET SMART: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads, ed. by Gabriel Roth:

"STREET SMART, is informative, up-to-date, and a pleasure to read. If we are lucky, the book’s ideas and insights will also find their way into popular and political discourse in order to create real reform.”
-- Peter Gordon, Professor of Policy, Planning and Development, University of Southern California

“What a successful and important book STREET SMART is. This is a book which makes plain the importance of a market economy in roads for the efficient allocation of scarce resources and the satisfaction of the user, worldwide.”
-- John Hibbs, OBE, Professor of Economics, University of Central England

“Roads are so critical to everything in society that many presume that they must necessarily be a governmental enterprise. STREET SMART dispels that faulty impression with a careful examination of the past, present, and promising future of private roads.”
-- Damian J. Kulash, former President, Eno Transportation Foundation

“STREET SMART should help to develop thinking on the future of the road network and should be welcomed by road users in all countries.”
-- Edmund King, Executive Director, Royal Automobile Club Foundation

“Every public official -- whatever their views -- needs to read STREET SMART to understand the depth of what is becoming a revolution.”
-- Roger Toleman, Deputy Secretary, New Zealand Ministry of Transport

For more about this event, see


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless