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The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 10, Issue 43: October 27, 2008

  1. The 2009 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest
  2. Conservatives in Crisis
  3. Is Al-Qaeda Endorsing McCain?
  4. Inflationary Consequences of the Bailout Rip-Off
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) The 2009 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest

The Independent Institute is now accepting applications for the 2009 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Contest, an international essay competition open to college students and untenured college teachers under 36 years of age. The top three contestants in the two divisions will be awarded cash prizes for outstanding essays on the following topic:

    “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.  As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
    —Benjamin Franklin

    Which virtues contribute the most toward achieving freedom, and how canthe institutions of civil society encourage the exercise of those virtues?

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

In addition to the cash prizes, winners will receive assistance in getting their articles published and two-year subscriptions to The Independent Review. The deadline is May 1, 2009.

More information about the 2009 Templeton Essay Contest, including guidelines, bibliography, and winning essays from previous years

Read The Independent Review.


2) Conservatives in Crisis

Barack Obama’s recent endorsements from Christopher Buckley and Colin Powell, and strong criticisms of the Republican Party made by fellow travelers such as Kathleen Parker, Peggy Noonan, and David Brooks, suggest that the G.O.P. is headed for a major shake-up after next week’s election, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Global Prosperity.

Vargas Llosa points to three factors within the Republican Party that have contributed to recent defections and falling popularity with voters: its blurring of a populism that mistrusts political pull and a populism that favors rural culture over urban culture; the clash between the rhetoric of limited government and the reality of growing federal expenditures under the Bush administration and its congressional supporters; and the spread of a neo-Puritanism. Until Republican leaders straighten out the mixed messages they are sending the rank and file, their party’s electoral victories are likely to become increasingly elusive.

Vargas Llosa writes: “After the elections, conservatives will have to do some serious soul-searching and ask themselves a few simple questions: How was it that they let their movement and their party be hijacked by people who were hellbent on disfiguring the face of American conservatism? How was it that the self-styled party of individual liberty became, in the eyes of many, the party of big government, intolerance and jingoism?”

“The Conservative Rebellion,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (10/21/08)

Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

Attend the conference, “Lessons from the Poor: The Power of Entrepreneurship,” featuring Alvaro Vargas Llosa, former Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga, William Easterly, William Ratliff, George B. N. Ayittey, Fredrik Erixon, Gabriel Gasave, Daniel Cordova, Martin Simonetta, and Thompson Ayodele (Washington, D.C., 11/13/08)


3) Is Al-Qaeda Endorsing McCain?

Whereas some conservative-leaning columnists have thrown their support toward Obama or have supported McCain only tepidly, at least one reactionary organization from abroad may be rooting for a McCain victory. According to a commentary posted last week on al-Hesbah, an Arabic website popular with radical Islamists, “Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election.”

In his latest op-ed, Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty, argues that al-Qaeda’s support for a McCain presidency would be consistent with its strategy of drawing more U.S. troops to Muslim lands and thereby increasing the number of anti-U.S. terrorists. Just as the Bush administration’s military campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq prompted growing numbers of radical Islamists to join al-Qaeda and other violent cells, the argument goes, so a McCain administration would bolster the ranks of anti-U.S. terrorists even further.

“Whether McCain, if elected, would fall into a similar trap is unknowable before the election,” writes Eland. “Sometimes politicians turn 180 degrees from their campaign rhetoric after being elected—after all, during the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush promised to give us a ‘more humble foreign policy’ compared to the Clinton years of profligate small scale military interventions in the developing world. During the 2008 campaign, McCain has been a bigger hawk than even the president on Iraq, but I suppose it is at least possible that he could wise up after taking office.”

“Campaign Endorsements: Obama Gets Colin Powell and McCain Gets Al-Qaeda,” by Ivan Eland (10/24/08)

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland.

Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy, by Ivan Eland.


4) Inflationary Consequences of the Bailout Rip-Off

A gigantic armed robbery. Few members of the pundit class have called it that, but according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs, that is precisely what the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 boils down to.

To fund the bailout, Americans who had no hand in causing the turmoil that has followed the burst of the housing bubble will be forced to “relinquish substantial amounts of [their] wealth, either directly through ordinary taxation or indirectly through the ‘inflationary tax’ and the diffuse effects of ‘crowding out’ in the loanable-funds market, where the government must soon borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more than expected a few months ago,” writes Higgs in “A Gigantic Armed Robbery.”

The costs may reach as high as an astonishing $2,850 billion, if one includes the Federal Reserve’s new Commercial Paper Funding Facility, explains Higgs in “Every Crisis Becomes a Carnival of Opportunism.” In view of the commitments already made in various bailout schemes, he continues, “it seems likely that the Fed will have to continue to increase the monetary base rapidly. We therefore face the prospect of stagflation the likes of which we have never seen before, with real output failing, unemployment rising, and prices increasing rapidly. . . . . Somewhere in hell, John Maynard Keynes is laughing manically and dancing a jig.”

“Every Crisis Becomes a Carnival of Opportunism,” by Robert Higgs (10/27/08)

“A Gigantic Armed Robbery,” by Robert Higgs (10/20/08)

Neither Liberty nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government, by Robert Higgs

Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy, by Robert Higgs

Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society, by Robert Higgs


5) This Week in The Beacon

Below are the past week’s offerings from The Beacon, the web log of the Independent Institute.

As always, readers are encouraged to comment on each blog entry.


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless