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The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 17, Issue 24: June 16, 2015

  1. The Independent Review—Summer 2015 Issue Now Available (eSubscriptions, Too!)
  2. Public Pension Crisis Robs Future Generations
  3. Jeb Bush and Medicaid Reform
  4. Theroux on Women, the Family, and Christianity
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts


1) The Independent Review—Summer 2015 Issue Now Available (eSubscriptions, Too!)

The Summer 2015 issue of The Independent Review has just been published! This edition features a symposium on one of the leading lights of modern political philosophy: Anthony de Jasay. (Read the Introduction posted here.) For more than three decades, Jasay has written profoundly original books and articles that grapple with age-old questions about liberty, justice, and the state. Our symposium contributors address a variety of topics related to his work, including the defensive state, public choice, the constitutionalism of Rawls and Buchanan, spontaneous order, and Jasay’s relationship to the work of 19th-century writer Frederic Bastiat.

Our summer issue also takes on more timely topics, too. They include: the cultural shift in attitudes about cigarettes and same-sex marriage; Federal Reserve policymaking and political pressures; remembrances of libertarian historian Leonard Liggio and law-and-economics pioneer Henry Manne; and the economic case against gross domestic product.

In addition, our book reviewers offer penetrating insights on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Timothy P. Roth’s Economists and the State, Wayne Gruden and Barry Asmus’s The Poverty of Nations, Richard H. Timberlake’s Constitutional Money, and Anthony de Jasay’s Social Justice and the Indian Rope Trick.

Get your e-subscription or print subscription today! (Print subscription includes FREE book.)

The Independent Review (Summer 2015)


2) Public Pension Crisis Robs Future Generations

Politicians across the nation have promised public employees larger pensions while low-balling the contributions needed to fulfill those promises. Consequently, city and state governments have wracked up piles of debt that may take three decades to pay off, rather than the 15 to 20 years recommended by the Society of Actuaries. Young people will bear a huge share of the burden, even though they have had no say in the matter.

“The injustice and immorality of using Millennials as piggy banks should be apparent to all but the willfully blind,” Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan writes in an op-ed at Forbes. “Public pension funds should not be balanced on the backs of students or younger Americans.”

How should the crisis be handled? According to McQuillan, it could be solved by adopting just a few reforms: (1) Public pension plans should be made financially transparent and should be required to achieve full annual funding without issuing “pension obligation bonds”; (2) plans should be required to pay off unfunded liabilities in 15 to 20 years; (3) state and local governments should be given the flexibility to switch to a 401(k)-type defined contribution plan; and (4) voter approval should be required for any changes that would result in greater pension obligations. Together these reforms would, McQuillan writes, “save future generations from paying for promises they did not make.”

The Immorality of Pushing Pension Debt onto Millennials, by Lawrence J. McQuillan (Forbes, 6/3/15)

California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis, by Lawrence J. McQuillan

Video: Lawrence McQuillan discusses his new book (Newsmax TV, 5/29/15)

Video: Opinion Journal: Defusing California’s Pension Bomb, featuring Lawrence McQuillan (Wall Street Journal TV, 5/28/15)


3) Jeb Bush and Medicaid Reform

Despite his reputation as a “moderate,” 2016 presidential hopeful Jeb Bush pushed for bold reform in education and healthcare during his years as governor of Florida. Bush’s Medicaid reform pilot project merits particular attention as lawmakers consider a new round of healthcare reform. According to Independent Senior Fellow John C. Goodman, several indicators suggest that Bush’s program, which was expanded from two counties to five under Governor Rick Scott, was a success.

Goodman bases his conclusions on a study by two University of Arizona researchers, Michael Bond and Emily Patch, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Business and Economics. Bond and Patch found that the pilot program, which gave private health plans flexibility in setting the benefits available to low-income patients enrolled the program, was associated with lower cost growth, improved access to care, and better health outcomes. From 2006 to 2009, for example, Medicaid costs per capita rose much less in the counties that participated in the pilot program than in the Florida counties with regular Medicaid. In addition, patients enjoyed greater access to dermatological care, neurological care, and orthopedic care.

Most important of all, however, was that patient outcomes were better for those in the pilot program compared to those in regular Medicaid. A lesson to draw from all of this, according to Goodman, is that Medicaid plans administered by private companies have significant and underappreciated potential to offer low-income and disabled people better care, and with less burden to taxpayers. It’s a lesson that more politicians should take to heart.

Jeb Bush’s Medicaid Reforms Are Working, by John C. Goodman (Real Clear Policy, 6/2/15)

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


4) Theroux on Women, the Family, and Christianity

The traditional family has faced growing challenges in recent decades, including higher rates of divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, juvenile crime, and other problems. According to Independent Institute President David J. Theroux, the decline of the family has resulted from government policies that are based on an “unfounded and easily refuted” “progressive narrative.”

That narrative, Theroux argues, includes the mistaken view that traditional marriage is “a patriarchy to dominate and oppress women, all supported by Christian despots.” In contrast, Theroux points to the work of sociologist and historian Rodney Stark, who makes the case that Christianity created a new foundation for marriage, one based on the idea that women and men are equals, and which implied mutual obligations on the husband and wife, including fidelity.

This development has been particularly beneficial to women, according to Theroux. “No longer serfs to men, women had dignity, were not rushed into marriages, and served as leaders in rapidly growing Christian communities,” he writes. It has also fostered a more stable foundation for child rearing. “Abandoning these lessons is at the root of the modern decline of the family,” Theroux continues, “and government can only further undermine the rights and benefits that have uplifted the lives of countless men, women, and children through Christian-inspired marriage. To restore the family, civic and religious leaders must challenge such folly to achieve the needed privatization and de-politicization reforms.”

Christianity’s Revolutionary Recognition of Women as Equals, by David J. Theroux (The Institute on Religion & Democracy, 6/5/15)


5) New Blog Posts

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Rip the Bandages Off Faster
Craig Eyermann (6/13/15)

Which Is Bigger: The National Debt or All Other Debt?
Craig Eyermann (6/11/15)

Bay Bridge Keeps Right On Corroding
K. Lloyd Billingsley (6/10/15)

Social Security Disability Waste
Craig Eyermann (6/6/15)

What Social Security Trust Fund?
Craig Eyermann (6/2/15)

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


6) Selected News Alerts


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless