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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 16, Issue 12: March 25, 2014

  1. How to Replace Obamacare
  2. Swiss Immigration Curb Sparks Concerns
  3. Political Lawlessness: A Problem of Bipartisan Dimensions
  4. The Independent Review—Spring 2014 Issue Now Available
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts

1) How to Replace Obamacare

Obamacare was supposed to expand access to health care. But judging by the number of patients being dropped from their insurance plans, more people may go uninsured this year than in 2013. Moreover, many chronically sick people who are covered by special high-risk pools will be dropped onto the Obamacare exchanges, where private insurers offer a small network of healthcare providers and insurers have incentives to favor the healthy. These and other reasons make the replacement of Obamacare with something better an urgent priority. But what should the alternative look like? Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman offers his views in National Review.

Proper healthcare reform, according to Goodman, should embody seven principles. Lighthouse readers will find it worthwhile to become familiar with them. They are: choice (meaning no mandates); fairness (everyone should be offered the same tax credit for obtaining insurance coverage, regardless of income or employment situation); job-friendliness (reform shouldn’t discourage companies from growing or encourage them to shift any workers to part-time status); universality (unclaimed federal tax credits could be used for indigent care provided either by local safety-net institutions or by hospitals and clinics that would otherwise have rendered uncompensated care); portability (employers should be able to use pre-tax dollars to buy individual insurance for an employee, so that coverage would travel with the worker in the event of a job change); patient power (expanding the scope of Health Savings Accounts and the like would help keep down healthcare costs by encouraging consumers to shop around); and real insurance (reform should avoid creating perverse incentives that encourage insurers to avoid covering sick patients).

One of the most attractive features of Goodman’s proposal is its political viability: it’s a “consensus reform” that draws on ideas popular across the spectrum. Writes Goodman: “It would provide genuine protection for people who have a preexisting condition, as opposed to the bait-and-switch promises of Obamacare. It would provide genuine access to care for everyone, as opposed to leaving 30 million uninsured, as Obamacare does. And it would work in practice, primarily because it would confine the role of government to setting a few simple rules of the game, leaving individual choice and the marketplace to do the heavy lifting.”

Replace Obamacare, Stat, by John C. Goodman (National Review, 3/10/14)

A Costly Failed Experiment, by John C. Goodman (Wall Street Journal, 3/24/14)

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


2) Swiss Immigration Curb Sparks Concerns

Russia’s annexation of Crimea is not the only recent event to worry the European Union. In February, Swiss voters narrowly approved a referendum to curb immigration into their country. Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, the referendum result has “shaken the foundations of Europe’s single market” and “foreshadows the strength of the far-right vote in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, an expert on immigration policy.

The Swiss referendum gives the national government three years to renegotiate various treaties that guarantee the free movement of people between Switzerland and the European Union. This has upset the EU’s leaders. In retaliation, they have threatened to impose trade barriers that would hinder Switzerland’s access to Europe’s single market. They are especially worried that the Swiss referendum will embolden far-right nationalists (such as the popular Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front) as well as more moderate “euroskeptics” (such as segments of the British electorate that want a rewrite of the EU’s terms of membership).

For many who appreciate the widespread benefits of free trade and immigration, the referendum is a puzzle. That’s because Switzerland’s immigrants, many of whom are high-skilled workers who have helped make Swiss firms competitive in the global marketplace, were never a net burden on the nation, even during the most challenging periods of the recent economic malaise. “On the contrary, it has been one of the few countries to weather the postbubble storm successfully,” Vargas Llosa writes. “What a pity that, because of a referendum won by just 20,000 votes, the best of the European project, namely the single market and the free circulation of people and goods, is now under serious threat.”

Swiss Quotas Threaten the Best of the European Project, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (The Globe and Mail, 3/11/14)

Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization, and America, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa


3) Political Lawlessness: A Problem of Bipartisan Dimensions

As a child delivering newspapers in the Fort Lee area of New Jersey in the 1950s, Independent Institute Research Fellow Angelo Codevilla had customers of all kinds—including crime boss Albert Anastasia and his enforcer, Tony “The Bender” Strollo. Fort Lee is also home to the traffic snafu that Gov. Chris Christie’s aides arranged as payback to a political opponent of the governor. The mobsters and the political operatives shared a trait, Codevilla notes: both groups believed they’re above the law.

Earlier this month, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, a left-wing reporter for The Nation asked him if he would want to see Gov. Christie in the Oval Office. Codevilla’s answer: “Not any more than I would want Tony ‘The Bender’ or Barack Obama, and for the same reason.” Government officials are increasingly flexing their muscles and flouting the rule of law, according to Codevilla. Another recent example, he explains, is the recent IRS scandal. The rules devised in the scandal’s wake are themselves scandalous: they merely “regularize” the harassment of political organizations deemed to have gone beyond the pale. For those who stray “too far,” the government will exact revenge.

“Once upon a time, when the Mafia used to deny that it existed...America threw the book at it,” Codevilla writes. “Today, our ruling class denies that it is a class, calling itself ‘the mainstream.’ Its bipartisan members deserve a rejection no less vigorous.”

Lawlessness, Small and Large, by Angelo M. Codevilla (Library of Law and Liberty, 3/16/14)


4) The Independent Review—Spring 2014 Issue Now Available
The Spring 2014 issue of The Independent Review, the Independent Institute’s quarterly journal, has just been printed and is en route to subscribers. Here’s a quick look at the contents:
  • Is the near extermination of the North American bison a clear example of “the tragedy of the commons”? No, not if, like Peter J. Hill, you keep in mind one crucial fact that nearly everyone has ignored.
 (Read a summary.)

  • American higher education before the Civil War was not free of government intervention. Daniel L. Bennett shows why many writers misunderstand the problems that have long plagued academia. (
Read a summary.)

  • Is the U.S. government moving toward default? According to David R. Henderson and Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, there’s one “iron law” of federal tax collection that makes national debt repudiation inevitable. (Read the article.)

  • Historians who rank the U.S. presidents often seem biased in favor of presidents who promoted big government. Read our symposium featuring Robert Whaples, Brandon Dupont, Stefanie Haeffele-Balch, Virgil Henry Storr, and John A. Moore to discover why Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge deserve far more credit for their economic policies. (Read summaries here, here, here, here, and here.)

  • How are government programs like a salmon trap? Robert Higgs offers a surprisingly apt analogy.
 (Read the column.)

  • In what ways has smuggling shaped America? Mark Thornton reviews Peter Andreas’s book on the importance of illicit trade in U.S. history. (Read the book review.)

  • How has a private, for-profit school chain managed to serve the poor and vulnerable in 15 countries on four continents? Kevin Currie-Knight reviews James Tooley’s book on the challenges, pedagogy, and business model of the SABIS school network. (Read the book review.)
Please be sure to take advantage of our special offer of your choice of a FREE book, such as The Terrible 10 by Burton Abrams, when you renew or order a new subscription online.


5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Government Train Wreck
K. Lloyd Billingsley (3/24/14)

Soaring Debts at Public Universities
Craig Eyermann (3/23/14)

The Fed Weighs In
Craig Eyermann (3/20/14)

SOL Stimulus Anniversary
K. Lloyd Billingsley (3/19/14)

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


6) Selected News Alerts


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless