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Volume 16, Issue 49: December 9, 2014

  1. Looting: Bad Intent and Bad Public Policy
  2. Let’s Try Honest Healthcare Reform
  3. More Folly from the Department of Education
  4. China and the CO2 Accord
  5. Join Us to Inspire Young Minds in 2015!
  6. New Blog Posts
  7. Selected News Alerts

1) Looting: Bad Intent and Bad Public Policy

The protestors who have taken to looting in the aftermath of the grand-jury reports from Ferguson and New York City see themselves as agents of justice. In truth, they represent the opposite: their motives are pernicious, and their actions yield grave injustices—often against those they claim to represent. But the havoc they wreak also stems partly from a morally bankrupt urban policy—one that prevents law enforcement from enforcing the rights of law-abiding citizens. According to Independent Institute Research Fellow Jonathan Bean, it’s the 1960s all over again.

“In the 1960s, civil leaders ordered police to step aside because they lacked discipline, often shot indiscriminately, and had no understanding of riot control,” Bean writes in the Daily Caller. “The pages of business magazines were filled with stories of mom-and-pop business owners having an entire lifetime of work destroyed. Their employees (almost always black) were casualties as well when they lost their jobs. And so the same scene plays out in Ferguson despite years of improvements in crowd control.”

Bean continues: “Then and now, let us put faces on the riots: also the gleeful grins of rioters as they pour out of stores with goods, juxtaposed with the crying eyes of business owners who baked cakes, styled hair, and otherwise provided something of value to the community. The eyes of the police, covered by riot masks, look on indifferently to the fates of those victimized.”

Who Suffers? Race Riots, Then and Now, by Jonathan Bean (The Daily Caller, 11/26/2014)

Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, edited by Jonathan Bean


2) Let’s Try Honest Healthcare Reform

When MIT economist Jonathan Gruber testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Tuesday, don’t expect the Obamacare health-policy advisor to double-down on the remarks that landed him in hot water—quips about the “stupidity of the American voter” and comments about tax subsidies being available only through the state-based exchanges. But don’t expect Gruber to retreat from his support for Obamacare or to put forward new ideas on how to restore confidence in the American healthcare system, either. For such insights, look instead to the economist that top-tier news media should be interviewing daily: Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman. As Goodman explains in a recent op-ed, sound healthcare reform doesn’t require deception; it requires honesty. And honesty means prioritizing the worst problems in our broken healthcare system, and offering solutions that might rub collectivist ideologues and other special interests the wrong way.

In particular, three honest reforms would go a long way toward fixing the worst of Obamacare’s problems, according to Goodman. For starters, replacing the Affordable Care Act’s complex and arbitrary schedule of mandates and subsidies with a universal tax credit that is the same for everyone (“about $2,500 for an adult and $8,000 for a family of four”) would bypass the many problems that plague the online insurance exchanges. That’s because those problems arise from a single cause: the technically complex challenge of corroborating an applicant’s eligibility for tax subsidies by pulling data from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Labor, and state Medicaid programs.

Second, Goodman calls for allowing Medicaid (or private-insurance equivalents) to compete with other insurance; low-income enrollees shouldn’t be relegated to a low-performing system. Third, Goodman calls for denationalizing and deregulating the Obamacare exchanges. Deregulating them and lifting the mandates would end the insurers’ “race to the bottom,” i.e., their offering policies meant to attract healthy customers and avoid the sick. Ending the mandates and implementing a uniform, universal tax credit for the purchase of health insurance would also lift the perverse incentives for employers to stifle job growth or limit their workers’ hours. Goodman writes: “There you have it: Three easy-to-understand, not very difficult changes, and millions of problems vanish in a heartbeat.”

Health Reform Without Deception, by John C. Goodman (Real Clear Policy, 11/19/14)

Healthcare Solutions for Post-Obamacare America, by John C. Goodman

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


3) More Folly from the Department of Education

The Obama administration has launched a two-front war on the nation’s school children: It’s attacking school choice programs and also imposing new disciplinary standards that are making schools less safe. So argues Independent Institute Research Fellow Vicki E. Alger, who is completing a massive book that amounts to a report card of the federal Department of Education.

Alger has documented the administration’s undermining of school choice elsewhere. In a new article for National Review, she reveals disciplinary policies that the Department of Education has been pursuing since 2010. The problem it’s trying to address stems from racial disparities in student-suspension rates. For example, nearly half of the public-school students with multiple suspensions are African-Americans, according to the department’s Office of Civil Rights. About such disparities, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan concludes that certain schools and districts are guilty of discriminating against the suspended students. His solution? Put a limit on multiple suspensions and send the teachers to cultural-sensitivity training workshops.

Several California public-school districts are now reaping the consequences of imposing limits on student suspensions: they are seeing more students act up. Alger notes that a better approach would have been for policymakers to expand parental choice programs. “Rather than compounding racism with more racism, let parents who feel their children have been treated unfairly move them to other schools,” she writes. “If Washington is going to browbeat school districts into looking the other way when black and Hispanic students commit serious offenses, the least we can do is provide parents with an escape route.”

Obama’s Two-Front War on Kids, by Vicki E. Alger (National Review, 12/3/14)

School Choices: True and False, by John D. Merrifield


4) China and the CO2 Accord

On November 12, what some analysts considered so unlikely as to border on the impossible took place: The United States and China reached a deal on greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration agreed to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025; Obama’s counterpart in Beijing, Xi Jinping, agreed to begin curbing emissions in 2030. Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer offers his insights.

The accord makes Barack Obama look good to his green constituency—at least to those who don’t look past the headlines. Come January, however, the GOP will control the U.S. Senate, and a treaty is unlikely to fly after the Paris Climate Summit next December. Even if Obama were to issue executive orders to bind the United States to emission reductions, its leverage over Beijing is minimal. Besides, over the next decade and a half, China will have ample opportunity to continue building fossil-fuel power plants.

A more interesting question is whether or not the Chinese scientific community believes that anthropogenic climate change poses grave risks. Singer isn’t too sure, as evidence by its translation of reports by a group that Singer has worked with, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). “There seems to be internal debate among scientists within the Chinese Academy of Sciences,” Singer writes. “Some may actually become convinced that their work is ‘saving the planet’ from the imagined ravages of a slightly warmer climate. On the other hand, the Chinese Academy has translated some of the volumes of the NIPCC, and organized a workshop in Beijing in June 2013 to discuss the NIPCC conclusions, which are very critical of the UN-IPCC claims of [man-made global warming].”

The China Climate Accord: A Bad Deal for the U.S., by S. Fred Singer (American Thinker, 12/8/2014)

Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer


5) Join Us to Inspire Young Minds in 2015!

Thank you to all of you who helped kick off our student programs campaign to raise more than $5,000 in one week! We are deeply touched by your help to inspire the next generation of leaders in liberty.

While we are getting closer to our funding goal, we still need your help!

Throughout December, we'll share more stories about how our donors have helped inspire young minds about liberty. Join us to inspire young minds in 2015! Help students now.

Donation information


6) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Covered California’s Berlin Wall
K. Lloyd Billingsley (12/8/14)

U.S. Postal Service Delivers Useless Smartphone App
Craig Eyermann (12/6/14)

The American Stasi Mounts a Surge
K. Lloyd Billingsley (12/3/14)

Uncle Sam Couldn’t Wait
Craig Eyermann (12/2/14)

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


7) Selected News Alerts


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless