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The Lighthouse®

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Volume 17, Issue 18: May 5, 2015

  1. Why ‘Single Payer’ Is Not the Cure for Obamacare
  2. Do Immigrants Enhance Economic Freedom?
  3. Baltimore’s Riots and the Heavy Weight of History
  4. The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars
  5. Join Us at FreedomFest!
  6. New Blog Posts
  7. Selected News Alerts

1) Why ‘Single Payer’ Is Not the Cure for Obamacare

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s rival for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, was at a loss when Fox News personality Chris Wallace recently asked him why the Green Mountain State dropped its plan to adopt single-payer health insurance. An honest answer would have required the self-described “democratic socialist” to say what he failed to say—namely, that the plan would have easily made his fellow Vermonters the most heavily taxed people in the nation.

In a recent op-ed in Forbes, Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman argues that advocates of single-payer insurance—i.e., coverage paid by the government (and ultimately by taxpayers)—often neglect inconvenient truths. Typically, they claim, for example, that the United States pays more for healthcare and gets less than other developed countries, but they ignore the fact that appearances can be deceiving. In reality, those countries usually disguise the true cost of healthcare by imposing artificial price controls on doctors and nurses, and adopting other measures that stealthily shift social costs of coverage onto third parties.

In addition, advocates of single-payer in the United States—New York Times columnist Paul Krugman among them—frequently propose that their goal be accomplished by enrolling everyone in Medicare. But, according to Goodman, such a policy would fail to solve a single problem created by Obamacare: The overall tax burden couldn’t be reduced, pressure for premium subsidies for low-income families would remain, healthy people would still be overcharged for coverage, enrollment would have to be compulsory, and on and on. “Invariably, we are urged to copy Britain, Canada, or some other country’s healthcare system,” Goodman writes. “But then when we ask to see the details for the plan, the whole scheme falls apart.”

Single Payer Health Insurance: Why Bernie Sanders Just Doesn’t Get It, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 4/20/15)

A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman


2) Do Immigrants Enhance Economic Freedom?

Do immigrants reduce economic liberty in their host country? Opponents of greater immigration, from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to Harvard University economics professor George Borgas, think so. The data, however, tell a different story. A recent study co-authored by Independent Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin W. Powell looked at more than 100 countries and examined how differences in the level and flow of immigrants might have affected aspects of economic liberty—including private-property rights, regulation, sound money, trade policies, and the size of government. Its findings should reassure all who worry that more newcomers could mean more government spending, higher taxes, and regulation.

“No matter what other variables we included in our statistical analysis, we never found that greater immigration decreased economic freedom,” Powell writes in an op-ed about his study. “To the contrary, we frequently found that a larger stock or flow of immigrants increased a country’s economic freedom. This finding held up even when we focused only on immigrants from poorer countries.”

Powell’s study illuminates what has long been a murky debate. On the one hand, Powell and his colleagues use standard statistical analysis to shed light on a timely policy question; the results are clarifying and warrant media attention. On the other hand, the study is also noteworthy because it simply confirms a timeless truth—one that should have the ring of familiarity for anyone who has given the basic principles of economics more than a cursory glance. “The economics of international trade in labor (immigration) is not fundamentally different than that of trade in goods,” Powell writes. “Exchange in each type of market allows for greater specialization that boosts productivity and creates economic windfalls for both trading partners.”

Will Immigrants Destroy Our Freedom?, by Benjamin W. Powell (Huffington Post, 5/1/2015)

Global Crossing: Immigration, Civilization, and America, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa


3) Baltimore’s Riots and the Heavy Weight of History

The death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray has torn open old social wounds that never really healed. It’s a tragic reminder of many uncomfortable facts about America, including the legacy of the Civil War, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland.

Unknown to many, the war’s first fatal casualties occurred in Baltimore 154 years ago, near Camden Yards, location of the ballpark that is home to one of the most beloved teams in baseball. The war itself settled some issues, but only changed the more visible aspects of others that would persist.

“The war caused overwhelming resentment among southern whites, and African Americans bore the brunt of it,” Eland writes in the Huffington Post. “Martin Luther King was largely correct when he later said that slavery wasn’t effectively ended until the Civil Rights movement did it one hundred years later.”

Wars Rarely Advance Freedom: Baltimore Riot Hints that Applies Even to the Civil War, by Ivan Eland (4/27/2015)

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland


4) The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars

The Independent Institute’s Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars are filling up quickly, and by popular demand, the application deadline has been extended to May 10. A few slots are still available for all three locations:

  • June 1–5: Colorado Christian University, Denver
  • June 8–12: University of Colorado, Boulder
  • July 6–10: University of California, Berkeley

This is a fantastic opportunity for college students to learn about free-market economics and the history and philosophy of liberty—and to meet like-minded people.

Video: Sign Up Now for the Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars


5) Join Us at FreedomFest!


Mark your calendars! FreedomFest—the leading “big tent” event for America’s liberty movement—takes place July 8–11 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. You won’t want to miss this one!

Billed as “the world’s largest gathering of free minds,” FreedomFest brings together many of the top advocates of individual liberty in our day—including the following fellows and authors of Independent Institute books:

FreedomFest event website


6) New Blog Posts

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Government Deploys Bogus Science to Quash Business
K. Lloyd Billingsley (MyGovCost News & Blog, 5/4/15)

Congress Reached a Budget Deal?
Craig Eyermann (5/2/15)

The Unchanging Incentives of Bureaucrats
Craig Eyermann (4/28/15)

Government Raisin Ransacking
K. Lloyd Billingsley (4/24/15)

The Tax Hikes of Obamacare
Craig Eyermann (4/24/15)

The Deficit Stops Shrinking
Craig Eyermann (4/21/15)

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website here and blog here.


7) Selected News Alerts


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless