The Power of Independent Thinking


Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 12, Issue 44: November 2, 2010

  1. Chinese Freedom Activist Honored with Nobel Peace Prize
  2. Citizen-Soldiers and the Political Cost of Military Adventurism
  3. Freeze Pentagon Spending
  4. The Independent Institute Wins Templeton Freedom Award
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Chinese Freedom Activist Honored with Nobel Peace Prize

Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese freedom activist and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, merits as much moral support as freedom-loving people can summon.

Sentenced to 11 years for signing Charter 08, a document that calls for human rights, multiparty democracy, freedom of expression, and an independent judiciary—i.e., “inciting subversion of state power”—the writer and dissident is only one of the most visible victims of Beijing’s oppressive rule. Surely many of his compatriots will follow his example.

In his latest column for the Washington Post Writers Group, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa offers a message of hope: “As former Czech President Vaclav Havel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa wrote in a recent article on this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu and the Chinese people will win their freedom. Eventually.”

“The Meaning of Liu Xiaobo,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (10/27/10) Spanish Translation

Audio and Transcript: “Tiananmen Square: Ten Years Later,” featuring Timothy Brook, Jing Chang, and Danxuan Yi (The Independent Institute, 6/16/99)

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) Citizen-Soldiers and the Political Cost of Military Adventurism

After the Vietnam war, the U.S. military moved to put Army Reserve and the Army National Guard units into key support functions while on active duty. The hope was that the prospect of sending part-time reservists into a war zone would make politicians less inclined toward military adventurism. It hasn’t worked out that way, however, perhaps because civilians and politicians don’t perceive the jobs undertaken by the reserves—logistics and civil affairs, for example—to be as risky as those of combat troops.

Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland proposes a remedy that maintains the spirit of the military’s original idea while avoiding the injustice of the draft: convert some active units to reserves. Thus, the reserves would still be made up of citizen-soldiers, albeit ones with more combat experience. And when the reservists are called to war, the public would understand that those citizen-soldiers could find themselves in harm’s way.

Populating the reserves with former combat troops would make it politically less enticing to send the citizen-soldiers into the battlefield. Eland explains: “Thus, a much smaller active ground force should deter politicians from using the Army and Marines in dubious brushfire wars, while retaining the capacity to mobilize heavier combat forces in cases of national emergency and, all the while, increasing the ranks of citizen-soldiers without reinstating the draft.”

“Expand the Role of the Citizen-Soldier Without a Draft,” by Ivan Eland (10/27/10) Spanish Translation

Video: Ivan Eland on U.S. Embargo of Cuba (Russia Today, 10/21/10)

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) Freeze Pentagon Spending

About half of the $2 trillion increase in defense spending since 9/11 has gone to programs unrelated to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but you wouldn’t know this if you only looked at the size of the armed services: most of them have shrunk significantly. In response to the wasteful profligacy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced that he’s shutting off the “gusher” of defense spending. But even with his alleged thriftiness, defense spending is projected to grow 33 percent over the next decade. So much for reform.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a member of the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has proposed a measure that could lead to meaningful change: freeze defense spending until the Pentagon passes a comprehensive audit. Winslow T. Wheeler, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, calls this a step in the right direction.

“The advocates of big DOD [Department of Defense] spending are likely to howl,” writes Wheeler. “But holding the DOD budget at the 2010 level for 10 years is a $900 billion increase over the pre-war, 2000 spending level (adjusted for inflation). And it still remains a multiple of the defense budgets of China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran combined.”

“How Many More Trillion$ for Defense?” by Winslow T. Wheeler (, 10/25/10)

Congress, the Defense Budget, and Pork: A Snout-to-Tail Description of Congress’ Foremost Concern in National Security Legislation, by Winslow T. Wheeler

Budgeting for Empire: The Effect of Iraq and Afghanistan on Military Forces, Budgets, and Plans, by David Isenberg

What does defense spending cost you? Find out at

MyGovCost Facebook Page

MyGovCost Twitter Page


4) The Independent Institute Wins Templeton Freedom Award

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation has bestowed the 2010 Templeton Freedom Award on the Independent Institute book, Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, for its contributions to “free-market solutions to poverty.” The award is accompanied by a $10,000 grant.

In its announcement of the award, the foundation said the book uncovers “compelling evidence of the entrepreneurial energy that is the true catalyst of economic progress.... The story-telling style of the book and its effective way of connecting with the general public increases its appeal.”

Published by the Independent Institute in 2008, Lessons from the Poor presents inspiring and insightful case studies of thriving enterprises in Africa and South America: a Peruvian soft-drink manufacturer that survived an armed guerilla movement and competition from Coca-Cola; a leading textile company, also in Peru, founded by a man who began by selling tee-shirts at a car wash; an award-winning supermarket chain in Kenya that started out by selling blankets and mattresses; Nigeria’s 5,000 self-employed clothing designers, whose bottom quintile earns on average more than civil servants; and Argentina’s barter clubs, an unintended by-product of the government’s mismanagement of the money supply.

Press Release: “The Independent Institute Receives 2010 Templeton Freedom Award” (10/25/10)

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


5) This Week in The Beacon

Stay informed. Get heard. Read and comment on the Independent Institute blog.


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless