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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 15, Issue 37: September 10, 2013

  1. Republican Leaders Are Wrong to Support Obama’s Threats to Syria
  2. The Bait and Switch of Obamacare
  3. Can a New Bill Curb Washington’s Runaway Spending?
  4. The Independent Review—Fall 2013 Issue Now Available
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts:

The Independent Review: Subscribe or renew today and get a free copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Crisis and Levithan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, by Robert Higgs.

1) Republican Leaders Are Wrong to Support Obama’s Threats to Syria

The vast majority of Americans oppose making war on Syria, but the Republican Establishment has thrown its support behind President Obama’s military threats against the Assad regime. This development, along with the GOP leadership’s opposition to defunding Obamacare, demonstrates a continuing estrangement from the concerns of the Republican Party’s rank and file, according to foreign-policy expert and Independent Institute Research Fellow Angelo M. Codevilla.

That the GOP’s head honchos are out of touch with most Republicans has been evident since at least 2008, when they supported the $816 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). But their alienation on matters of war and peace is particularly distressing. One mouthpiece for the Republican Establishment, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, delights in mocking the “isolationism” of Sen. Rand Paul but fails to refute Paul’s claim that war should be waged only after Congress has voted in favor of it, following a period of discussion about whether war would actually serve the interests of the American people. Paul’s points aren’t “faux constitutional assertions,” as Stephens claims; delegates explicitly discussed them at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

As of this writing, the American people understand what Obama and his backers in the GOP leadership don’t get: that “limited” U.S. attacks constitute war-making, and that war-making would make the United States less safe, less prosperous, and less free. “The Republican Establishment wants the American people to lend ourselves to an un-serious military venture in order to prove that we are serious about America’s greatness, to show we are not isolated from the world’s troubles by mixing ourselves in them without a plan for improving them or to shield ourselves from them,” Codevilla writes. “This is from the same people who tell us that the best way to rid ourselves of the evils of Obamacare is to provide funds for it.”

Parting Ways with the American People, by Angelo M. Codevilla (Library of Law & Liberty, 9/8/13)


2) The Bait and Switch of Obamacare

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama suggested that health reform was designed only to help those who couldn’t afford health insurance and those denied coverage due to preexisting conditions. He sought to reassure voters by saying, “If you like the health plan you have, you can keep it.” More recently, the American public has been told that the Affordable Care Act won’t work unless the government controls everyone’s insurance premiums. Thus, Obamacare was sold to the American public on deceptive terms, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman, author of Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.

Yet this is not the only deception regarding healthcare today, Goodman argues in a recent op-ed in Forbes. Perhaps the most pervasive falsehood is the notion that health insurance under current conditions is just like other forms of insurance. It’s not. In real insurance markets, premiums are allowed to reflect risk and cost. But to the extent that government intervention prevents premiums from reflecting risk and cost, harmful distortions result: consumers who are under-charged will over-insure and vice versa; health plans will scale back their benefits and provider networkers to the detriment of consumer choice; and health plans will seek to attract healthier consumers.

Obamacare will intensify these distortions, Goodman argues. Although his op-ed offers several examples, the following will suffice for this issue of The Lighthouse. “In the individual market today, in most states you can buy a BlueCross plan that covers almost all doctors in your area and practically every hospital, including all the best hospitals,” Goodman writes. “I predict those plans will never see the light of day inside the (Obamacare) health insurance exchanges. BlueShield, for example, is offering a plan in the California exchange that includes only one third of the doctors and excludes some of the most highly regarded hospitals.”

Obamacare Was Sold to American Voters on Deceptive Terms, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 8/29/13)

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman


3) Can a New Bill Curb Washington’s Runaway Spending?

The Can Kicks Back, an organization that aims to get young Americans interested in the national debt, is lobbying for passage of a bill that might reduce federal deception about Washington’s profligacy. The Intergenerational Financial Obligations Reform Act—a/k/a, the INFORM Act—would pressure Congress and federal agencies to get more realistic about closing deficits by requiring them to provide analyses of generational accounting and fiscal shortfalls. Independent Institute Research Fellow Craig Eyermann weighs in.

“With legislation like the INFORM Act, it would be a lot harder for politicians to not be aware of the consequences of their fiscal choices,” Eyermann writes at, home of the tool he developed to foster fiscal transparency and awareness of Washington’s spending habit—the Government Cost Calculator.

Also noteworthy is that the INFORM Act is gaining bipartisan support and may attract a great deal of publicity when the White House and lawmakers debate the looming debt ceiling in the coming weeks. “However the nation’s next debt ceiling ‘crisis’ is resolved, it would be useful to have more transparency where the size of the nation’s liabilities are concerned,” Eyermann concludes.

Unhiding the Debt, by Craig Eyermann (MyGovCost News & Blog, 9/7/13) – Home of the Government Cost Calculator


4) The Independent Review—Fall 2013 Issue Now Available

The Fall 2013 issue of The Independent Review—the Independent Institute’s scholarly journal—is hot off the press. To whet your appetite, we’ve drawn up several questions that it addresses:

  • Why were disaster recovery efforts following the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, in 2011 so much more successful than the governmental response to Hurricane Katrina?

  • Why should conservatives who oppose the growth of the welfare state be especially dubious about involving the United States in wars? Read Ivan Eland’s article.

  • How did the federal government’s monopoly on national defense contribute to the rise of the permanent war economy?

  • What can the study of particular consumer goods industries tell us about the cause of India’s economic boom of the 1980s, beginning a full decade before markets were liberalized?

  • How did behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner fail as a moral philosopher and social reformer?

  • How did the son of tenant farmers with no electricity in his rural Oklahoma home become an exemplary scholar in the service of economic truth, peace, and individual liberty? Read David J. Theroux’s article.

  • How well has net private investment recovered since its peak before the onset of the Great Recession? Read Robert Higgs’s “Etceteras...” column.

And don’t miss this issue’s reviews of new books dealing with parental choice in education, the public debt problem, the financial crisis and the free market solution, the global organ shortage, the revival of pro-market scholarship, government manipulation of consumer choice, employment discrimination policies, and the effects of redistribution on the economic recovery.

The Independent Review (Fall 2013)

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Subscribe to The Independent Review. Respond to this subscription offer and receive a free copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, by Robert Higgs!


5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

The Difference between God and Congress
Mary Theroux (9/9/13)

Medisave Accounts in Singapore
John C. Goodman (9/5/13)

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Colossus a Costly Failure
K. Lloyd Billingsley (9/9/13)

Unhiding the Debt
Craig Eyermann (9/7/13)

Federal Firefight Costs Taxpayers
K. Lloyd Billingsley (9/6/13)

Thieves Are Kindred Spirit for California Government
K. Lloyd Billingsley (9/4/13)

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website here and blog here.


6) Selected News Alerts:


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless