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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 12, Issue 17: April 26, 2010

  1. The 2010 Census: Beyond the Constitution
  2. U.S. Mediation of the Israeli-Palestinian Dispute May Backfire
  3. The Goldman Sachs Spectacle
  4. Understanding Today’s Economy: A Summer-Seminar Preview for Teens and Their Parents (Oakland, CA, 4/29/10)
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) The 2010 Census: Beyond the Constitution

Previous issues of The Lighthouse discussed Independent Institute work related to cost and privacy concerns about the 2010 U.S. census. Now Research Fellow William J. Watkins, Jr., compares today’s census with the one authorized in Article I, section 2, of the Constitution: “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

The first censuses in 1790 and 1800 were simple counts of the population, according to Watkins. “The marshals did not pry into matters such as personal relationships, ownership status of the dwelling, educational status or health,” he writes. James Madison famously explained that the federal government was one of enumerated powers: the feds could not undertake activities that were not spelled out in the Constitution.

“To the extent that Congress has authorized fines for anything beyond (1) a person’s refusal to provide his name, and (2) actions designed to frustrate the count, Congress has exceeded the boundaries of the Constitution,” Watkins continues. “Of course, Congress might have good reasons for desiring more than a mere enumeration. But it is their burden to make that case to the American people and seek to amend the Constitution.”

“Today’s Census No Longer Just Counts People,” by William J. Watkins, Jr. (The Sacramento Bee, 4/22/10)

Reclaiming the American Revolution, by William J. Watkins, Jr.


2) U.S. Mediation of the Israeli-Palestinian Dispute May Backfire

Will peace break out in the Middle East—or will anti-U.S. “blowback” intensify? The question arises as the White House reportedly considers offering a plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or renewing U.S. attempts to broker a peace agreement. General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, is perhaps the most influential advocate for involving the United States in the peace process. If an accord is reached, he and other advocates believe, the lure of Islamist radicals will diminish and U.S. security will improve.

This assumption commits at least three errors, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty. First, “the perennial U.S. push to solve the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate is borne of domestic politics rather than of any compelling impetus based on U.S. security,” Eland writes in his latest weekly op-ed.

Second, domestic political pressures for the United States to side with Israel make it hard for it to be an honest broker, and the perception of favoritism would reinforce the Islamist radicals’ view that the United States is abetting the Israeli occupation of Arab land. Third, the likely failure of U.S.-mediated negotiations would, in the eyes of the militants, make the United States seem even more culpable. “Therefore, Islamist radicals’ stoked anger could lead to even more anti-U.S. attacks,” concludes Eland.

“Should U.S. Be More Involved in Israeli-Palestinian ‘Peace Process’?” by Ivan Eland (4/21/10) Spanish Translation

Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, by Ivan Eland

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


3) The Goldman Sachs Spectacle

Goldman Sachs, whose executives will testify before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, may have done some things wrong during the housing bubble, but misleading investors about whether others were betting against certain of its collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) was not one of them, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

Although the purchasers of the investment bank’s “Abacus” CDOs—sophisticated institutional investors such as ACA Capital Holdings and the German bank IKB—did not know who was betting against them, they had to know that someone was making that bet. Knowing that the counterparty to the transaction was contrarian hedge-fund manager John Paulson would not have made them act differently, argues Vargas Llosa.

As for the Goldman Sachs vice president who designed the securities—“Fabulous” Fabrice Tourre—his emails suggest that he possessed more than a dash of arrogance, but they hardly prove criminal wrongdoing. Vargas Llosa concludes: “How many of us would come out impeccably humble, prudent and serene if our conversations with a friend were printed for all the world to see?”

“Fabulous Fab,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (4/21/10) Spanish Translation

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

The Che Guevara Myth, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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


4) Understanding Today’s Economy: A Summer-Seminar Preview for Teens and Their Parents (Oakland, CA, 4/29/10)

The Independent Institute welcomes teens and their parents to attend a special preview of its Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars this Thursday, April 29, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Institute’s headquarters in Oakland, Calif. Attendees will learn what’s going on in today’s economy from excellent educators devoted to free enterprise, limited government, and natural rights.

Why Economics Matters More than Ever
Greg Rehmke
, / E Pluribus Unum Films

Healthcare Reform: A Principled Critique
Mike Winther, Institute for Principle Studies

Runaway Federal Deficits: Their Cost and Cure
Emily Schaeffer, Ph.D., The Independent Institute / San Jose State University

Will Civil Liberties Survive the Growth of Government?
Anthony Gregory, The Independent Institute

Freedom and Prosperity: Lessons from Classic Authors
José Yulo, Ph.D., The Independent Institute / Academy of Art University

Thursday, April 29, 2010
4:30-7:30 p.m.

The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, Calif.
Map and directions

$5 per person. Includes pizza dinner.

Reservations required. Contact the Independent Institute at 510-632-1366 or [email protected].

Understanding Today’s Economy, 2010

The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars

Session I: June 14-18

Session II: August 9-13


5) This Week in The Beacon

Here are the past week’s offerings from our English-language blog, The Beacon:


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless