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Volume 8, Issue 44: October 30, 2006

  1. Clint Eastwood Scores with "Flags of Our Fathers"
  2. The Condition of Women
  3. Fighting Words That Mask Mistakes
  4. Prop. 86: The California Cigarette Tax Hike

1) Clint Eastwood Scores with "Flags of Our Fathers"

Clint Eastwood's new movie "Flags of Our Fathers," which dramatizes the events surrounding the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima after one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, not only shows the horrors traditionally depicted in film, but it also shows how wars "can compromise the moral rectitude even of those who fight for the good cause," according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

"Clint Eastwood’s genius consists of rendering an equally poignant and disturbing picture of the two wars -- the relentless savagery going on in the battlefield, where American and Japanese soldiers are engaged in primeval brutality that resulted in 27,000 deaths, and the damage that those conducting the politics of the conflict inflict on the truth back home by bamboozling the public into the perception that war is a beautiful expression of nationhood," writes Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity, in his latest column.

“'Flags of Our Fathers' does not seek to deny that World War II was a necessary war," Vargas Llosa continues. "It does something much more important than that by telling us that all wars, including what some would call wars of necessity, compromise the decency of the good guys as well as that of the bad guys. That is something every commander in chief with the power to unleash war should bear in mind."

"Flags of Our Fathers," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (10/25/06)
"La bandera de nuestros padres"

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)

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


2) The Condition of Women

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the condition of women improved the most in economically progressive areas dominated by Western culture. In developing areas dominated by non-Western culture, however, women remain more or less subjugated, and in some countries they are stripped of any human rights, according to Michelle Fram Cohen, writing in fall 2006 issue of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW.

Injustices directed against women -- including the denial of property rights, dowry-related subjugation, and lack of legal protections -- are often widely accepted cultural norms handed down from generation to generation, Cohen explains. So-called “honor killings,” committed by relatives for “shame” brought on a family, still claim the lives of thousands of women each year. Although Turkey has passed a law imposing life sentences on those convicted of honor killings, a survey showed that almost 40% of respondents supported the abominable practice. “In 2005, the Pakistani government rejected a pro-women bill that sought to strengthen the law against the practice of honor killing,” Cohen writes.

In contrast, the overall picture of women in the developing countries is one of growing educational and professional opportunities, Cohen argues: “Sweeping legal reforms have opened many doors for women in Western countries, but women have not always taken full advantage of these reforms. As in developing countries, customary law may still prevail over the formal law. It is up to both men and women to challenge the traditional norms to bring about a genuine change in women's condition.”

"The Condition of Women in Developing and Developed Countries," by Michelle Fram Cohen (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Fall 2006)



3) Fighting Words That Mask Mistakes

Three-words slogans -- terms such as "stay the course" or "cut and run" -- have become such a staple of the White House spin factory that Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center of Peace & Liberty, believes that war critics should employ a few three-word terms of their own to help cut through the muck. Here a few of the many that Eland proposes: "Lying into War," "Wrong-Way Rumsfeld," "Freedom at Gunpoint," "Fools Rush In," "Altruism toward al Qaeda," and "Wrecking Iraq for Dummies."

"As my final salvo," Eland concludes, "unlike the Bush administration's vague (some would say non-existent), 'deer caught in the headlights' exit strategy for Iraq, I will be very specific in my three-part policy prescription: 'Get Out Now.'”

Anthony Gregory, a research analyst at the Center of Peace & Liberty, examines another three-world phrase -- "unlawful enemy combatant" -- in his recent op-ed, "The Rise of an American Dictatorship." Under the new Military Commissions Act, according to Gregory, anyone that a special military tribunal deems to be an "unlawful enemy combatant" can be denied due process, detained and tortured.

"The pretense is that this protects us from terrorism -- but what will protect us from the government?" Gregory writes. "Even though terrorism is a heinous crime, suspects might very well be innocent. The Bill of Rights was intended to defend the innocent by determining who is actually guilty before inflicting punishment."

"Filling the Spin Vacuum," by Ivan Eland (10/30/06)
"Llenando un vacío confuso"

"The Way Out of Iraq: Decentralizing the Iraqi Government," by Ivan Eland

"The Rise of an American Dictatorship," by Anthony Gregory (10/20/06)

"El surgimiento de una dictadura estadounidense"

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)


4) Prop. 86: The California Cigarette Tax Hike

California voters next week will decide the fate of Proposition 86, which would increase excise taxes on a package of cigarettes from 87 cents to $3.47, generating an estimated $2 billion in tax revenue. Some anti-tobacco activists argue that high cigarette taxes are justified as a way to offset the costs that smokers ultimately imposes on non-smokers, but Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II argues that tax revenues from smoking already exceed that amount.

"Whatever extra burden smokers place on California’s public healthcare resources is more than offset by the revenue generated by the excise taxes they now shell out, and ghoulish as it may be, by the resources they save -- the pensions they do not claim, the nursing home beds they do not occupy -- on account of early death," writes Shughart in a recent op-ed.

"No responsible economist has reckoned that such external costs amount to anything close to 87 cents per pack -- in California or anywhere else. $3.47, which would be the tax per pack if Prop. 86 passes, is equivalent to exercising the nuclear option of predatory public finance."

"Prop. 86 and the Tyranny of the Majority," by William F. Shughart II (10/24/06)
La Proposición 86 y la tiranía de la mayoría

TAXING CHOICE: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination, ed. by William F. Shughart II


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