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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 11, Issue 2: January 12, 2009

  1. The Great Credit-Crunch Hoax of 2008
  2. The Decline of Israel’s Leadership
  3. Ground War Against Somali Pirates May Worsen Terrorism
  4. Update on the Second Amendment Book Bomb
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) The Great Credit-Crunch Hoax of 2008

Last September, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sounded the alarm, warning that credit markets had frozen and calling for an unprecedented bailout of financial institutions, ostensibly to prevent a collapse of the U.S. economy. The politicians and the press took their claims at face value. 

According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs, however, the Federal Reserve’s own statistics tell a very different story: the amount of commercial-bank credit outstanding (perhaps the best indicator of credit-market conditions) hadn’t actually shrunk, but had instead merely reached a plateau from April to September 2008. In other words, there was no net contraction of credit!

Here is Higgs’s take: “In short, credit was actually ample, indeed, at an all-time high; it simply stopped growing as usual for six months, stuck at about $9.4 trillion, while one Wall Streeter after another told NPR that ‘no money is moving; the credit market is completely shut down’ or some such cock-and-bull story.” Of course, some folks stand to profit handsomely from the credit-crunch deception. Continues Higgs: “The beauty of the Great Hoax of 2008, from the perspective of the ruling class, is that it was also a Great Scare, and such scares serve as the pretexts for the rulers’ most audacious assaults on the peasants’ lives, liberties, and purses.”

“Terrible Credit Crunch of 2008—The Greatest Hoax of All Time?” by Robert Higgs (1/6/09)

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

Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, by Robert Higgs


2) The Decline of Israel’s Leadership

Can the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved peacefully? The prospect of a lasting peace may seem outlandish in the midst of intense fighting in Gaza, but skeptics once held that Egypt and Jordan would never sign peace treaties with Israel. Unfortunately, since the mid 1990s, Israel has not produced leaders as visionary and courageous as those who negotiated successfully with Cairo and Amman, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

Israeli leadership worthy of the name would pursue “conditions in which the Palestinian moderates are able to marginalize the fanatics with the help of a population that starts to see improving standards of living,” Vargas Llosa writes in his latest column. “That would mean making concessions and taking risks such as Menachem Begin did when he signed the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, and in the way Rabin did when he signed the Oslo accords in 1993 and made formal peace with Jordan soon after.”

Lasting peace would entail a two-state solution, with two capitals in Jerusalem, as well as, Vargas Llosa continues, “acceptance by the Palestinians of the fact that the refugees will not be able to return to what is now Israeli territory, and acceptance by the Israelis of the fact that their settlements in Palestinian territory will have to be dismantled.”

“The Decline of Israel’s Leadership,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (1/7/09)

“The Last Colonialist: Israel in the Occupied Territories since 1967,” by Rafael Reuveny (The Independent Review, Winter 2008)

Reply by Ira Sharkansky and response by Rafael Reuveny (The Independent Review, Fall 2008)

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

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


3) Ground War Against Somali Pirates May Worsen Terrorism

A United Nations anti-piracy plan in Somalia—adopted recently at the urging of the Bush administration—may lead to very undesirable consequences: if it’s similar to heavy-handed U.S. counterterrorism efforts elsewhere in the Muslim world, it could foster a backlash that promotes Islamist terrorism, warns Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland in a recent op-ed. This is because, as Vice Admiral William Gortney, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has stated, ground attacks on suspected Somali pirate havens would endanger the lives of innocent civilians.

“Of course, the logical corollary to this warning is that such civilians will be driven to support the Islamist insurgency,” writes Eland, who heads the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty.

Increased U.S. counterterrorism campaigns in other African countries have already increased the risk of anti-U.S. terrorism by radical Islamists, according to Eland. “The purpose of the military training programs worldwide is to nip such terrorism in the bud before it becomes as rampant as in Somalia,” Eland continues. “Yet U.S. blindness that the Somali situation is of its own making causes the United States to continue such interventions in other countries, which only make future Somalias more likely.”

“Lame Duck Bush Administration Continues to Inflame Islamist Terrorism for Its Successor,” by Ivan Eland (12/29/08)

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

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


4) Update on the Second Amendment Book Bomb

We are pleased to announce that, as the time of his writing, 1,879 people have pledged to purchase Stephen Halbrook’s critically acclaimed recent book, The Founders’ Second Amendment: The Origins of the Right to Bear Arms.

In addition to increased book sales, the Internet-driven promotional campaign has resulted in mentions of Halbrook’s work in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Press (12/28), the Orange County Register blog (12/16), and the Western Standard blog (Canada, 12/15); interviews with the author on “Wake Up America” (Break the Matrix TV, 12/24), and elsewhere; and an op-ed written by Halbrook posted or cited on about 1,020 websites.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Heller has given Second Amendment rights a new lease on life. But it will likely energize foes as well as friends of “the people’s right to keep and bear arms.” Thus, the more people who understand why the Founders viewed this individual right as fundamental to the protection of liberty, the more secure this constitutional right (and perhaps others) will be.

“I enthusiastically recommend Stephen Halbrook’s book, The Founder’s Second Amendment. This is an original and valuable approach, focusing on the place of individual ownership of firearms during the time of the American Revolution and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It will add appreciably to the scholarship on the origins and meaning of the Second Amendment.”
—Joyce L. Malcolm, Professor of Legal History, George Mason University School of Law

The Founders’ Second Amendment: The Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, by Stephen Halbrook

The Second Amendment Book Bomb


5) This Week in The Beacon


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless