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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 10, Issue 7: February 18, 2008

  1. Conservatives at the Crossroads
  2. Eland on Ron Paul as the Founders’ Heir
  3. Busway Beats Rail Transit
  4. The Secret to Making Poor Nations Rich (Washington, D.C., 2/21/08)
  5. Presidents Day Reading List

1) Conservatives at the Crossroads

As the changing fortunes of Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and John McCain suggest, American conservatives today are unsure about who they want to represent them in the White House—and, more fundamentally, which set of mutually exclusive “conservative” principles they want to prevail. American conservatives should seek to resolve their internal disputes if they wish to succeed at electoral politics, argues Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa in his latest op-ed.

“American conservatives need, first, to define what kind of government they really believe in and then choose the appropriate words to describe that belief,” writes Vargas Llosa. “This is a process that conservatives in other countries have also had to go through.”

In post-Thatcher Britain, David Cameron has helped unify a Conservative Party sharply divided “between ‘Europhiles’ and ‘Euroskeptics’ as well as between radical free-marketers and traditional Tories,” Vargas Llosa continues. “If I were an American conservative, I would not panic. I would relish the opportunity to have that honest, almost therapeutic debate (preferably in opposition) over the next few years and then come back with the clear idea of who we are and where we stand. The entire nation, not just conservatives, would benefit from that cleansing process.”

“The Conservatives’ Despair,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (2/13/08) Spanish Translation

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

“The Republican Road Not Taken: The Foreign-Policy Vision of Robert A. Taft,” by Michael T. Hayes (The Independent Review, Spring 2004)


2) Eland on Ron Paul as the Founders’ Heir

Although Ron Paul’s run for Republican Party presidential nomination continues to enliven the GOP race, the Texas Congressman has garnered little respect in the mainstream media, which has tended to ignore him or to suggest he is a crank. Perhaps the greatest problem with the media’s coverage of Paul, however, is its failure to note the similarity between Paul and the Founding Fathers—and the yawning gap between their views and those of the frontrunners in both major parties, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland notes in his latest op-ed.

“The media barons would never dream of implying that the founders were loony tunes,” Eland writes. “But the country’s current massive government, with its intrusive activism at home and abroad, is so far removed from the founding vision that the modern-day manifestation of such values appears downright weird to today’s press corp.”

With foreign policy especially prominent during this election year, Eland emphasizes Paul’s non-interventionist stance on U.S. policy toward South Korea, NATO, and the Middle East. “No matter what the outcome of the 2008 election,” writes Eland, “Paul’s participation in the campaign and its debates has been a huge plus in highlighting the long-forgotten founders’ policies of limited government and military restraint and in advocating their relevancy and renewal in today’s world. That is why I was proud to accept an invitation to serve as a foreign policy advisor to Paul’s campaign.”

“Ron Paul: Direct Descendent of the Founders,” by Ivan Eland (2/15/08) Spanish Translation

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland (2/15/08)

Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World, by Ivan Eland


3) Busway Beats Rail Transit

In his latest op-ed, Independent Institute Research Fellow Gabriel Roth urges Virginia residents to adopt a busway, not more rail transit, to deal with area transportation problems in northern Virginia.

A busway, or bus corridor, in the median of the existing Dulles Airport Access Road, he argues, would have seven advantages, including shorter travel time, cheaper fares, and greater flexibility. The busway would also have excess capacity that could accommodate toll-paying vehicles, with tolls collected electronically.

“It is not often that superior service can be provided at lower cost, but a busway would do just that,” writes Roth.

“Rescue Dulles Transit,” by Gabriel Roth (Washington Times, 2/18/08)

Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads, edited by Gabriel Roth


4) The Secret to Making Poor Nations Rich (Washington, D.C., 2/21/08)

For decades, efforts to end world poverty have focused on redistributing wealth, rather than creating it. This approach, however, has done little to foster long-term economic progress. In Africa, for example, average gross domestic product fell by more than 16 percent from 1975 to 2000, despite billions of dollars in foreign aid. Critics charge that government development assistance suppresses local enterprises and markets and is too often squandered by oppressive regimes.

Fortunately, a growing body of research points toward a simple, but often overlooked, approach that some countries have been using with remarkable success. Why are so many countries foundering economically while others are prospering? What is the “secret” to economic growth that can lift more countries out of poverty? Please join us as Benjamin Powell, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, and George B. N. Ayittey uncover the secrets to making poor nations rich and ending the abject poverty affecting billions of people worldwide.


Benjamin Powell is Research Fellow, The Independent Institute; Editor, Making Poor Nations Rich. Full bio.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa is Senior Fellow and Director, Center on Global Prosperity, The Independent Institute; Author, Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression. Full bio.

George B. N. Ayittey is Distinguished Economist in Residence, American University; Author, “The African Development Conundrum,” in Making Poor Nations Rich. Full bio.

Thursday, February 21, 2008
Reception and book signing: 5:00 p.m.
Program: 6:00-7:00 p.m.

The Independent Institute Conference Center
1319 Eighteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Map and directions

ADMISSION: Reserve tickets by calling 800-927-8733 or e-mailing dcevents (at)

More information and ticket reservations

Praise for Making Poor Nations Rich, edited by Benjamin Powell:

“For the sake of many millions of people trapped in poverty, I wish politicians of all ideological persuasions would pay careful attention to the arguments expounded by this remarkable book.”
—Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico; Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

“It is often taken for granted that where opportunities exist to improve people’s lives, they will be pursued. The splendid book Making Poor Nations Rich develops this insight from various angles, and through an elegant mix of theoretical observation and case studies.”
—Timur Kuran, Professor of Political Science and Gorter Family Professor in Islam and the Social Sciences, Duke University

More about Making Poor Nations Rich


5) Presidents Day Reading List

Who were the greatest U.S. presidents? Who were the worst? What does recent scholarship say about the presidents you’re most interested in? The Lighthouse won’t offer definitive answers to those questions, but we can steer you toward penetrating articles and book reviews that help shed light on the subject.

Click here for insightful articles about American presidents.


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