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Volume 17, Issue 7: February 17, 2015

  1. Simple Solutions Would Correct Damage from Obamacare
  2. Presidents, War Powers, and ISIS
  3. Nelson Mandela’s Unfinished Business
  4. Proofiness and Rape Statistics
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts

1) Simple Solutions Would Correct Damage from Obamacare

Thanks to Obamacare, health insurance is plagued with problems caused by doctors leaving their networks. Consequently, insurers have sent patients to doctors in their network who are out of state and patients have had major surgeries cancelled due to doctors leaving a network. In a recent op-ed for Forbes, Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman offers an alternative to Obamacare and the problems it has caused.

“We can denationalize and deregulate the exchanges,” he writes. “And by instituting ‘health status insurance’ we can have a market with real prices that gives real protection to people with pre-existing conditions.”

Health insurance can work just as well as homeowners insurance and auto insurance, Goodman adds. All we have to do is lift the regulations that create perverse incentives and undesirable outcomes.

How Obamacare Is Ruining Health Insurance, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 2/11/15)

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

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


2) Presidents, War Powers, and ISIS

John Adams coined the term “a government of laws, and not of men,” but other Founders also held this ideal as they labored over the wording of the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately, abiding by it has been a recurring challenge. One of the most fundamental reasons originates in the Constitution itself: Although many parts the federal government’s charter are clear and specific, others are vague or ambiguous. This imprecision has contributed to growth of the imperial presidency. However, there is one domain in which the Office of the President has gained massive power despite clear and unambiguous language in the Constitution expressly meant to constrain the actions of the chief executive: war power. In his latest op-ed, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland explains what the Constitution said about it, and how those words have been ignored.

In 1950, President Harry Truman took the United States to war on the Korean peninsula without a declaration of war from Congress. It set a bad precedent from which the nation has yet to recover. Eisenhower in Lebanon, Johnson in Vietnam, Reagan in Granada, George H. W. Bush in Panama, Clinton in Kosovo, and Obama in Libya—none of these presidents received congressional approval for these military actions. In the case of George W. Bush, Congress did authorize military force against those who helped or harbored the 9/11 terrorists, but the White House went far beyond that authority and took up arms against people who played no such role in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The inadequacy of the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force is one reason why President Obama’s recent call for Congress to approve U.S. military force against ISIS should be viewed with more than a small dose of skepticism. As Eland notes, the request contains too many loopholes that would allow Obama and his successors in the Oval Office to get U.S. troops stuck in another quagmire. “If Congress has the courage to pass any approval of this questionable American use of force,” Eland writes, “it should at minimum take out the ‘associated persons and forces’ language, limit the geographical scope of the fight, and be very specific about what limited ground operations are authorized.”

Excessive Presidential War Power, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 2/16/15)

Why Americans Should Celebrate President John Tyler, by Ivan Eland (The Beacon, 2/16/15)

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty (Updated Edition), by Ivan Eland


3) Nelson Mandela’s Unfinished Business

Nelson Mandela’s release from prison a quarter-century ago last Wednesday—after having served 27 years with hard labor—marked the opening of a new chapter in South African history. Four years later, the era of apartheid would be officially ended and Mandela elected the first black president of his country. He was a widely admired head of state that many African rulers celebrated in word but contradicted in deed. Even today, most of the continent’s leaders look almost like the opposite of Mandela, plundering their national treasuries for personal gain, running their economies into the ground, and ruthlessly quashing political dissent. Hence, the title of Independent Institute Research Fellow George B. N. Ayittey’s recent op-ed, “Nelson Mandela’s Unfinished Business.”

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who died in 2013, had a well-founded reputation for militancy when he was imprisoned in the 1960s, but by the time he became president of South Africa, he was a different man. He avoided instigating violence against political opponents, allowed the press to operate freely, and kept his hands out of the public purse. This made him rare. Of Africa’s 229 heads of state since 1960, only a few could be considered good leaders, according to Ayittey. Many have held on to power for decades, amassed personal fortunes that dwarfed the combined net worth of every U.S. president from Washington to Obama, and collectively have cost Africa an estimated 21 million human lives.

“Africa is still not free,” Ayittey writes. “Only 13 African countries are democratic. Africa needs a second liberation to sweep away the black neo-colonialists, Swiss bank socialists, Jaguar Marxists, quack revolutionaries, military coconuts, crocodile liberators, briefcase bandits, and the other predatory species.... On October 30, 2014, the people of Burkina Faso rose up in rebellion and sent their long-term dictator Blaise Compaore packing after 18 years in office. It would be a fitting tribute to the great Mandela if more followed suit.”

Nelson Mandela’s Unfinished Business, by George B. N. Ayittey (The Daily Caller, 2/16/15)

Video: The New Path for Africa: Establishing Free-Market Societies, featuring George B. N. Ayittey

Read George B. N. Ayittey’s chapter on the challenges of African economic development in Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Economic Development, edited by Benjamin W. Powell.


4) Proofiness and Rape Statistics

In 2010, NYU journalism professor Charles Seife coined a term for the use of dubious mathematical arguments to support dubious conclusions: proofiness. More recently, a study from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, asserted what may become a textbook example of proofiness: It claimed 1 in 3 male students would rape a female student “if nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences.” Writing in the Daily Bell, Independent Institute Research Wendy McElroy explains some of the flaws that make the new study disreputable.

The study is filled with methodological problems, according to McElroy. Among them are false assumptions, a small and unrepresentative sample size, incentives that may bias the survey results, loaded questions, arguments from authority, and a failure to acknowledge (must less address) contradicting evidence from previous studies. “The most insidious aspect of the [University of North Dakota] ‘study’ is one of the least commented upon,” McElroy writes.

The study, McElroy explains, relies on a previously discredited “1 in 4” rape statistic that contradicts the impressions of 73 percent of the women whose survey responses supposedly made up the statistic. “Otherwise stated, only 27 percent agreed with the [researcher’s] assessment of their experience,” McElroy writes. “How does a researcher justify the unmitigated arrogance and dishonesty of dismissing data in order to fit an agenda? By claiming the participant does not understand the meaning of their own words or feelings ... but the researcher does.”

The Proofiness of the Politically Correct Rape, by Wendy McElroy (The Daily Bell, 1/15/15)

Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Wendy McElroy


5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

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


6) Selected News Alerts


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless