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Volume 9, Issue 26: June 25, 2007

  1. Why Ron Paul?
  2. Will Castro Allow Cuba to Liberate?
  3. Economists Predict Rising Long-Term Prosperity
  4. The Independent Review—Summer 2007 Issue Now Available

1) Why Ron Paul?

Why has iconoclastic Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul, despite his low numbers in polls of prospective voters, garnered so much attention on the Internet, cable television, and the front page of the Washington Post? Even talk-radio programs in Spain and Latin America are curious about the anti-war, small-government legislator and former physician from Texas.

The surge of media attention for Congressman Paul—who also favors abolishing the federal income tax—seems to be due in part to interest from younger Republicans dissatisfied with their party’s leaders, especially regarding the war in Iraq and the perceived intrusiveness of the Grand Old Party into people’s lives, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

“The GOP, whose discourse paradoxically stresses individual responsibility,” writes Vargas Llosa, “has come to be associated with two powerful forms of intrusion: the use of force abroad and of moral bullying at home. The first is a courtesy of, but is not limited to, the neoconservatives; the second is a child of the religious right. Although the Democrats have traditionally been the big-government party, the perception today even among many Republicans is that the GOP has pushed the boundaries of authority beyond reasonable limits.”

While it is too early to tell whether younger Republicans have found a spokesman in Paul, his popularity on YouTube, “The Daily Show,” and elsewhere suggests that the GOP just may be in the early stages of transforming “into something less intrusive, bringing it closer to the small-government discourse it has preached in the past,” concludes Vargas Llosa.

“Why Ron Paul?” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (6/20/07) Spanish Translation

Also see Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s books:

Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression

The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Director)

Spanish Website and Spanish Blog


2) Will Castro Allow Cuba to Liberate?

Despite his appearance in a 50-minute interview on Cuban National Television earlier this month, Fidel Castro left unanswered vital questions about the prospects for economic liberalization that his subjects have been asking at least since the end of Soviet economic support in the early 1990s. On the one hand, Castro speaks supportively of the quasi-liberalization that has created economic opportunity for many in China and Vietnam. On the other hand, he has hailed the collectivist policies of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

“Fidel could still be a terrible spoiler, in Cuba as well as abroad,” writes Independent Institute Adjunct Fellow William Ratliff, a frequent writer on Chinese and Cuban foreign policies. “His adamant, decades-long commitment to failed socialist formulas got Cuba into its current mess. Were he to actively press these formulas again, the transition already tentatively underway could be derailed. If his survival raises the stock of ‘Chavistas’ around the hemisphere, he could further delay modernization and prolong the misery and inequality that characterize the entire region.”

Ratliff also notes that Raul Castro—Fidel’s brother and heir apparent—is reported to have sympathized with China’s and Vietnam’s experimentation with elements of a market economy. “If Fidel supports such reform [in Cuba], or at least does nothing to impede it, the prospects for serious civil conflict will be substantially reduced, the lives of the Cuban people will improve and the prospects for the survival of the Cuban Communist Party well into the post-Fidel period will be much improved,” Ratliff concludes.

“The Return of Fidel Castro and Post-Fidel Cuba,” by William Ratliff (6/22/07) Spanish Translation


3) Economists Predict Rising Long-Term Prosperity

Economists, the media are wont to remind us, disagree—about short-term changes in the direction of the stock market, about how best to reform health-insurance markets, about what the U.S. tax code should look like, and so on. But the old joke about lining up all the economists in the world head to foot—yet never reaching a conclusion—masks a surprising degree of fundamental agreement among economists, such as their disdain for shortage-inducing price controls and protectionist trade policies. Even on the inherently tricky subject of forecasting economic growth, Ph.D.-holding economists trained in the United States seem to have reached a consensus about one thing: In general, they believe our children’s children will have a bright economic future.

“Most [economists in my survey] predict that robust economic growth of our recent history will continue into the foreseeable future,” writes economic historian Robert M. Whaples, in an op-ed based on an article published last year in The Independent Review. “If my respondents are correct and economic growth continues at this pace, incomes will rise more than three-fold in the next sixty years—average incomes would equal approximately $147,000 in today’s dollars. If the growth rate does dip slightly, say to 1.8 percent per annum, incomes would almost triple, rising to only $131,000. These predictions are eye-popping.”

The news is especially good for many of the world’s poorest populations: Economists predict that “within the next couple of generations many (perhaps most) countries and regions that are currently poor and economically underdeveloped will achieve standards of living equaling or surpassing today’s level in the richest countries.”

This isn’t to say that poverty will vanish everywhere on the planet. In fact, economists believe it will persist in Sub-Saharan Africa for several generations. In addition, they note that the United States will need to cope with problems associated with an aging population, flaws in the Social Security system, exploding healthcare costs, and an inefficient educational system. But if the economists Whaples surveyed are reliable forecasters, then too many Americans have worried needlessly about a future of increasing abundance. Instead, they should devote their energies to focusing on problems caused by flawed government policies—and doing what they can to take greater advantage of rising prosperity.

“Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren: Most Economists Predict a Bright Future,” by Robert M. Whaples (6/20/07) Spanish Translation

“Collapse? The ‘Dismal’ Science Doesn’t Think So,” by Robert M. Whaples (The Independent Review, Fall 2006)


4) The Independent Review—Summer 2007 Issue Now Available

We are pleased to announce the publication of the Summer 2007 issue of The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy. Edited by Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs, this 160-page issue of the Independent Institute’s peer-reviewed quarterly addresses such questions as the following:

• What are the origins of “starve the beast” fiscal policy?

• How should—and how shouldn’t—freedom of the press be defended? Download article.

• What new research program has vindicated F. A. Hayek’s ideas about economic planning and the use of knowledge in society?

• Which economic trend is fostering growth in developing countries more effectively than foreign aid, loans from multinational development agencies, or national economic-development efforts?

• What can the “life-profile” theory of marriage tell us about cohabitation and same-sex marriage?

• What role did privately funded American warships play in the Quasi-War with France?

• What are Milton Friedman’s greatest contributions to economic science?

• What are the nineteen “public bads” of empire and nation building?

• How did the Soviet occupation of Estonia alter that country’s similarities with Finland? Download article.

Books reviewed:

Law Without Nations? Why Constitutional Government Requires Sovereign States, by Jeremy A. Rabkin. Read review.

Nation-States and the Multinational Corporation: A Political Economy of Direct Foreign Investment, by Nathan M. Jensen. Read review.

For All of These Rights: Business, Labor, and the Shaping of America’s Private-Public Welfare State, by Jennifer Klein. Read review.

Political Power and Corporate Control: The New Global Politics of Corporate Governance, by Peter A. Gourevitch and James Shinn. Read review.

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, by Marc Levinson. Read review.


Bruce Bartlett, Karen Horn, Will C. Heath, Roy C. Smith, Antony W. Dnes, Larry J. Sechrest, Julio H. Cole, Christopher J. Coyne, Steve Davies, Georg Vanberg, Donald J. Boudreaux, Price V. Fishback, Mark Gelter, Pierre Desrochers, and Robert Higgs

Table of Contents

Purchase this issue.


Recommend The Independent Review to your library.


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