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Volume 12, Issue 43: October 26, 2010

  1. Chilean Mining Rescue Offers Lesson Worth Importing
  2. Scholars Shed Light on Enviro-Econ Wars
  3. Police Misconduct Abetted by Misguided Disclosure Laws
  4. Do France’s Pension-Reform Protests Foreshadow America’s?
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Chilean Mining Rescue Offers Lesson Worth Importing

“We did it the Chilean Way,” noted President Sebastián Piñera after 33 miners were rescued from a ten-week ordeal in a copper mine in western Chile. And so they did. Chile’s rescue effort welcomed technological assistance from companies on opposite sides of the planet, including Samsung of Korea and Center Rock of the United States, to name but two.

As in the rescue operation, so in Chile’s trade policy: the country’s success stems in no small measure from avoiding the nationalistic protectionism that has crippled numerous countries in the less-developed world, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa. The lesson? “The less inward-looking a country is,” writes Vargas Llosa in his latest column, “the more successful it can be—and the prouder its patriotic citizens can be of its achievements.”

The United States, Europe, and Japan should also “import” that lesson if they wish to reverse their decline. “Getting it right is an attitude that needs to be renewed with each generation,” Vargas Llosa continues. “Perhaps the extraordinary achievements coming out of the emerging world will help trigger that process.”

“The Chilean Way,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (10/20/10) Spanish Translation

Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, has just won the 2010 Templeton Freedom Award in the “Free Market Solutions to Poverty” category.

Press Release: “The Independent Institute Receives 2010 Templeton Freedom Award; Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Recognized”

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

The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa


2) Scholars Shed Light on Enviro-Econ Wars

On October 7, the Independent Institute hosted a public forum on the clash between environmentalism and the economics discipline. Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert H. Nelson, author of The New Holy Wars, began by defending his claim that these two rivals, despite their claims of practicing a value-free science, are “secular religions” that rest on unexamined assumptions. The secular-religion hypothesis, he argued, also helps explain curiosities such as why environmentalists feel guilty if they have not recycled and why many economists believe material progress can save the world.

The forum’s next speaker, Steven F. Hayward (Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute), asserted that many environmentalists have grown less hostile toward economic thinking in recent years, due in part to the wish to formulate feasible policies related to climate change. “I see some progress in environmentalists, baby steps, at least, in understanding economics as a tool they need to use,” he said. Hayward also argued that because environmental religion does not exalt humankind above the rest of nature, it is “fundamentally irreconcilable” with Christian theology.

Speaking last, Max L. Stackhouse (Professor Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminar) lauded Nelson for his identification of environmentalism and economics as secular religions and his exposé of their origins and development. “Secular religions are in fact dependent on major motifs of the Judeo-Christian traditions,” said Stackhouse. “They all involve the notion of Creation, the fall into sinfulness, a prospect for redemption or salvation. And they all view their own movement as a company of those who are going to be the agents of redemption.” He concluded by praising Nelson’s book: “This is a magnificent contribution to all of our thinking.”

Video, audio, and transcript: “Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in America,” featuring Robert H. Nelson, Steven F. Hayward, and Max L. Stackhouse (10/7/10)

The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America, by Robert H. Nelson (The Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Winner)


3) Police Misconduct Abetted by Misguided Disclosure Laws

Police misconduct is a problem of overriding public concern: anyone who drives a motor vehicle, witnesses a crime, speaks to police officer, or happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time is vulnerable to abuse levied by an overzealous or misguided cop. Yet most jurisdictions in the United States are governed by Police Disclosure Laws that block the release of information about a police officer undergoing an internal investigation until after the review has been completed.

By reducing transparency and accountability, those laws against disclosure make it easier for police officers to violate rights, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy.

“The laws deny victims [of police abuse] information that may be necessary to sue or otherwise press a legal case against officers,” writes McElroy in the October 2010 issue The Freeman. “And by shielding important aspects of accusations—for example, whether the unnamed officer has been similarly accused in the past—the laws discourage the reporting of police abuse, especially by the media, for whom a significant delay in obtaining information makes a story grow cold. In turn, the lack of coverage encourages the public to believe misconduct is rare; thus those abused by policy are doubly victimized by having their accounts dismissed out of hand.”

“Police Misconduct and Public Accountability,” by Wendy McElroy (The Freeman, 10/10)

To Serve and Protection: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice, by Bruce L. Benson

Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Wendy McElroy


4) Do France’s Pension-Reform Protests Foreshadow America’s?

Street protests erupted after French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed dealing with his nation’s pension crisis by increasing the standard retirement age from 60 to 62. The protesters seem blind to the devastating consequences of their government’s generous entitlement programs and labyrinthine labor regulations.

In a piece written for, Emily Skarbek, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation, discusses whether California and other states grappling with pension problems will learn from France’s mistakes.

“Hopefully, Californians can avoid a similar fate and help to steer the course toward making growth-enhancing reforms in pensions and ‘mandatory’ entitlement programs,” concludes Skarbek.

“What Should Californians Learn About Pension Reform from the French?” by Emily Skarbek (, 10/18/10)

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5) This Week in The Beacon

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