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Volume 9, Issue 4: January 22, 2007

  1. Authorities Mishandle Child Porn Case
  2. Iraq Troop Surge Based on False Hope
  3. Petty Policies, Not Global Conspiracy, Explain Latin American Malaise
  4. THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW -- Winter 2007 Issue Now Available

1) Authorities Mishandle Child Porn Case

The parents of a teenager from Arizona, Matthew Bandy, learned the hard way that law-enforcement officials can be more eager to prosecute a suspect than to take reasonable steps that might exonerate the accused, explains Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy in her latest column. A malicious computer virus apparently made Bandy's computer collect child pornography -- a class 2 felony that carries a sentence of up to 10 years for each illegal image possessed -- but the county attorney's office fought the Bandy's request to have their confiscated hard drive forensically examined for infected files that could have exonerated Matt.

"As the boy’s innocence become increasingly apparent, the District Attorney offered a series of plea bargains," writes WcElroy. Matt, 16, pleaded "guilty" to showing a Playboy magazine to three schoolmates, and was forced by authorities to wear an electronic monitoring band around his ankle and to stay away from other children at shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and church. The two-year legal battle, during which the Bandy family ran up over $250,000 in legal costs, ended on January 12 after ABC's "20/20" program publicized Matt's plight.

"Whatever is written about this case should end in a conclusion that is phrased as a demand: the mere presence of child pornography on a computer must not be illegal," McElroy continues. "Laws must be rewritten or repealed to take into account the technological realities with which we all live. Unfortunately, states and Congress are heading in the other direction by pushing for 'harder' laws and penalties for mere possession. If such laws prevail, then you may find yourself in the same position as Matt: innocence will not be a defense."

"In Child Porn Case, Technology Entraps the Innocent," by Wendy McElroy (1/16/07)
"En el caso de la pornografía infantil, la tecnología atrapa al inocente"

LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century, ed. by Wendy McElroy


2) Iraq Troop Surge Based on False Hope

Some commentators have suggested that President George W. Bush's announced increase of 21,500 troops for Iraq may be motivated, at least in part, by an unspoken rivalry with the 41st president of the United States -- George W. H. Bush -- who had written about the pitfalls of a war in Iraq. Whether or not a rivalry between father and son is a factor, the relatively small, purportedly gradual, and publicly announced surge will do nothing to pacify Iraq, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty.

In his latest op-ed, Eland also criticizes Bush's promotion of Lt. Gen. Raymond Odinero to day-to-day commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq -- a commander whose aggressive tactics had violated strategy advocated by his boss, Gen. David Patraeus, when the latter headed the 4th Army division. Eland also criticizes Bush's reliance on advice from former Vice Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.), who, along with Professor Frederick Kagan, proposed the increase in troop numbers.

"The key assumption of Keane and Kagan's new escalation strategy is that security must precede a political settlement among Iraqi groups," writes Eland. "This overturns one of the few correct assumptions that the Bush administration had made in Iraq -- that a political settlement would need to be reached before people would stop fighting." In the absence of a stabilizing political settlement, which is increasingly unlikely, the U.S. should withdraw its troops, rather than suffer more losses by intervening fruitlessly in what will probably become a full-scale civil war, Eland concludes.

"Rebellion Over Iraq: Son Against Father," by Ivan Eland (1/22/07)
"La rebelión en Irak: El hijo contra el padre"

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, Director)


3) Petty Policies, Not Global Conspiracy, Explain Latin American Malaise

Many anti-poverty activists in the developing world mistakenly believe that what keeps incomes and living standards from rising as fast as they have in the developed world is an international conspiracy of bankers, corporations, governments, and other institutions allegedly bent on oppressing the masses in order to enrich themselves.

But according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity, the true culprit is neither a conspiracy nor a deficit of capital goods, labor, or other inputs necessary to spur economic progress. Instead, the problem is the cumulative weight of dozens of manmade obstacles that prevent economic resources from being used efficiently.

"The crucial element is the complex web of barriers that hurt Latin America’s ability to compete, creating all sorts of disincentives for making more efficient use of technology and increasing productivity," writes Vargas Llosa in his latest column for the Washington Post Writers Group. "Some of these barriers relate to the outside world -- tariffs, quotas, multiple exchange rates and excessive regulations against foreign producers. Other obstacles are domestic -- government-owned enterprises, barriers to entry into certain industries, and inefficient financial systems. There have been many times in the last 130 years, for instance, in which Latin America’s trade barriers were almost four times higher than Asia’s. To give another example, since the nationalization of oil in Venezuela, that country’s oil productivity has remained at half its previous level."

"Beyond Conspiracy," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (1/17/07)
"¿Cuál conspiración?"

World Economic Forum announces Young Global Leaders for 2007

LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH, 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


4) THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW -- Winter 2007 Issue Now Available

We are pleased to announce the publication of the Winter 2007 issue of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, the Independent Institute's quarterly journal of political economy.

The following questions are among those addressed in this issue:

* Why do writers routinely ignore the role of the real bill doctrine in causing the Great Depression?
* How did the attitudes of federal leaders during the American Civil War promote "total war" in the 20th century?
* What role did violations of private-property rights play in the killing of 292 million civilians by governments in the 20th century?
* How will activism in the wake of the Kelo decision affect private-property rights in the United States?
* What do economists conclude about drug prohibition and legalization?
* Which of James M. Buchanan's views on public-debt finance has gained the widest acceptance?
* How has the growth of private security forces affected the conduct of military campaigns?
* How did the relationship between African Americans and labor unions change after the New Deal?
* How did the northward migration of southern blacks and whites transform America in the 20th century?
* Why haven't academic advisors influenced U.S. foreign policy as much as they believed they would?
* What type of mistake does the U.S. Food and Drug Administration often make during the drug-approval process?
* Which policy reforms have the greatest potential for managing the world's ocean fisheries effectively?
* On which fronts are "tax eaters" gaining the most ground in their war against taxpayers?
* How can Aristotelian ethics strengthen the case for individual rights to life, liberty, and property?

Books reviews:

Reviewed by David E. Bernstein (George Mason University School of Law)

THE SOUTHERN DIASPORA: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America, by James N. Gregory
Reviewed by Daniel Jacoby (University of Washington, Bothell)

BLIND ORACLES: Intellectuals and War from Kennan to Kissinger, by Bruce Kuklick
Reviewed by Robert Heineman (Alfred University)

INSIDE THE FDA: The Business and Politics behind the Drugs We Take and the Food We Eat, by Fran Hawthorne
Reviewed by Gregory Conko (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

Reviewed by Donald R. Leal (Property and Environment Research Center)

THE NEW, NEW LEFT: How American Politics Works Today, by Steven Malanga
Reviewed by Gary Jason (California State University, Fullerton)

NORMS OF LIBERTY: A Perfectionist Basis for Non-perfectionist Politics, by Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl
Reviewed by Shawn E. Klein (Arizona State University)


Richard H. Timberlake Jr., T. Hunt Tooley, Stephen W. Carson, Edward J. Lopez, Sasha M. Totah, Mark Thornton, Jerry H. Tempelman, Bruce L. Benson, David E. Berstein, Daniel Jacoby, Robert Heineman, Gregory Conko, Donald R. Leal, Gary Jason, Shawn E. Klein

We hope that you will find this and other issues of THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW useful and enjoyable in your own teaching, research, and writing. Selected articles, book reviews, and back issues are available at:

To purchase print copies of the Winter 2007 issue, subscriptions, and back issues, see


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