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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 9, Issue 6: February 5, 2007

  1. Military Spending Running Amok
  2. Journalism Has Lost a Giant
  3. Global Warming Commission Publishes New Summary
  4. Duke Case May Threaten Victimhood Paradigm
  5. College Students & Professors: Win $$$ Writing about Foreign Aid

1) Military Spending Running Amok

Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty, laments the massive waste that permeates the new federal budget: "The administration has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on everything from expanding benefits in an insolvent Medicare program to massive increases in the defense and homeland security budgets," Eland writes in his latest op-ed. "Like LBJ, Bush has spent taxpayer dollars on both guns and butter simultaneously."

The defense budget is especially out of sync with America's needs, he argues: "For example, the military wants to increase spending on warships and one of three new fighter aircraft (the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter) and develop and build new unneeded submarines, aircraft carriers, future armored vehicles, and nuclear weapons. None of these systems have much applicability to fighting guerrillas or terrorists."

In his latest research article, Senior Fellow Robert Higgs explains the etiology of military pork. "For more than a decade the Defense Department has invariably stood in violation of the 1994 federal statute that requires every government department to make a financial audit," Higgs writes. The absence of property accounting procedures invites legalized theft. Thus, lawbreakers such as former Representative Randall "Duke" Cunningham -- who was sentenced to an 8-year prison term for accepting $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to favored firms -- turn out to be just the tip of an iceberg that should send chills down the backs of taxpayers.

"Until the scope of the U.S. government’s geopolitical ambitions and hence the scale of its military activities are drastically reduced, not much opportunity will exist for making its system of military-economic fascism less rapacious and corrupt," Higgs concludes.

"Military-Economic Fascism: How Business Corrupts Government, and Vice Versa," by Robert Higgs (1/22/07)

"Wasting Billions on Military Spending," by Ivan Eland (2/5/07)

"Derpediciando miles de millones en el gasto militar"


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

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, Director)


2) Journalism Has Lost a Giant

The world of journalism lost one of its best practitioners last month, Ryszard Kapuscinski. Better known in Europe than in the United States, the Polish foreign correspondent called his style "literature by foot" because of the extensive legwork he did in order to discover illuminating facets of lives touched by wars, revolutions and other upheavals around the world. Those efforts paid huge dividends for his readers over a career that spanned five decades, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity.

"His tale of the fall of Ethiopia's emperor Haile Selassie, his description of the end of the Shah of Iran and his journey across a Soviet Union at the point of collapse -- three of his books -- have no real beginning or ending," writes Vargas Llosa in his latest column. "The author does not attempt to convey the totality of the events he is narrating; he is interested only in the details he personally experiences or hears from those who experience them."

It was precisely those telling details -- and his elevation of the story over the means of telling it -- that put Kapuscinski's books and articles above the self-consciously literary works of such celebrated exponents of New Journalism as Truman Capote, Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe. Kapuscinski's approach also enabled him to show political realities, especially in the Third World, that many journalists were too blind to see. Writes Vargas Llosa: "By depicting only some poignant details of the wide forest, he seems to imply that abstract ideologies that sacrifice individual beings for the sake of collective designs cause nothing but suffering."

See "Kapuscinski's Forest," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (1/31/07)
"El bosque de Kapuscinski"

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Director)

El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute

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


3) Global Warming Commission Publishes New Summary

Last week in Paris, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a new Summary for Policymakers, but the full study it reportedly abstracts isn't scheduled to be published until May. Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer wonders why the Summary precedes the full study by four months if not to better align the content of the report with the headline-grabbing conclusions of the Summary, which he calls "a semipolitical document negotiated by delegates from 150 governments."

Although the Summary goes further than prior IPCC Assessments in attributing temperature increases to human activity, Singer notes that the new Summary's predictions are also less dire than its predecessors. "The IPCC's estimates for sea-level rise are about half of previous values given," writes Singer in a new op-ed. "NASA scientist Jim Hansen's sea-level value is about 20 times higher than that of the IPCC. I suppose that makes him, as well as Al Gore, a climate contrarian."

Singer also notes that twenty greenhouse climate models employed in the IPCC report forecast an average temperature increase of 1.4 to 11.5 C for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. "Yet no one can tell us which of these models is correct -- if any," Singer continues. "And none of these models can explain why the climate cooled between 1940 and 1975 -- without special assumptions.... Crucially, greenhouse models cannot explain the observed patterns of warming -- temperature trends at different latitudes and altitudes."

See "Not So Dire After All," by S. Fred Singer (NEW YORK SUN, 2/2/07)

"No tan calamitoso después de todo"

HOT TALK, COLD SCIENCE: Global Warming's Unfinished Business, by S. Fred Singer


4) Duke Case May Threaten Victimhood Paradigm

Weeks after rape charges against the so-called Duke 3 were dropped -- and questions about the withholding of potentially exculpatory evidence by District Attorney Mike Nifong have mounted -- the National Sexual Violence Resource Center continued its defamation against the (previously) accused Duke University students, according to Wendy McElroy, editor of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN and FREEDOM, FEMINISM, AND THE STATE.

Why? The reason for the Center's behavior, McElroy argues, is that the organization sees the turn of events in the case as a threat to its core assumption -- that women never lie about crimes like rape.

"The Duke case deals a body blow to this paradigm," McElroy writes. "Both an accuser and her witness lied repeatedly; the district attorney actively abetted the deception; the media gulped the lies down whole. Duke also exposes the wrenching devastation wrought on the lives of those who are falsely accused and their families. The case may become a pivot point in how society views accusations of rape and the pivot will be away from automatically believing accusers."

See "Continuing to Defame the ‘Duke 3’ as Rapists," by Wendy McElroy (1/31/07)
"Siguen difamando a los ‘3 de Duke’ como violadores"

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



5) College Students & Professors: Win $$$ Writing about Foreign Aid

The deadline for the 2007 Olive W. Garvey Competition is only three months away. No essays submissions will be accepted after May 1, 2007.

Here's the topic for this year's essay submissions:

"Is foreign aid the solution to global poverty?”

A 2005 United Nations report called for a doubling of foreign aid to poor countries as the means to reduce poverty. Yet the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a for-profit microloan bank and its founder, an apparent vindication of the ideas of Peter T. Bauer, Henry Hazlitt, Deepak Lal, and others. As Bauer wrote, “Development aid, far from being necessary to rescue poor societies from a vicious circle of poverty, is far more likely to keep them in that state.…Emergence from poverty requires effort, firmly established property rights, and productive investment.”

Student Division:
First Prize: $2,500
Second Prize: $1,500
Third prize: $1,000

Junior Faculty Division:
First Prize: $10,000
Second Prize: $5,000
Third Prize: $1,500

For rules, guidelines and other information, see


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless