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Volume 18, Issue 26: June 28, 2016

  1. Paul Ryan’s Health Plan Offers a Better Choice
  2. Why the Brexit?
  3. Orlando’s Lesson: Gun Rights Are Civil Rights
  4. Tracking the American Left
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts

1) Paul Ryan’s Health Plan Offers a Better Choice

Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his much-awaited alternative to Obamacare. This development is highly welcomed, in part because many congressional Republicans had seemed content with chanting “repeal and replace” instead of offering meaningful healthcare legislation that their party and the public could get behind. Ryan’s health plan is particularly encouraging because it draws from work by Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman—in particular his recent book, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America.

Ryan’s healthcare plan is “a major step forward,” Goodman said. “Republicans are endorsing a vision of health care in which people can make their own decisions, manage more of their own health care dollars, and reap the benefits of competition in the marketplace.”

The plan includes several elements shared with legislation introduced in May by Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), a bill that Goodman helped to draft. Shared features include a uniform health-insurance tax credit, the expansion of Health Savings Accounts, the denationalization and deregulation of the market for individual insurance, and the repeal of Obamacare’s employer and individual mandates. Enacting such reforms would end the perverse incentives that have caused many employers to keep payrolls small, lay off workers, or rely more on temporary workers. Most importantly, they would make quality healthcare much more consumer-friendly and much more affordable.

Paul Ryan’s Health Plan, a New Alternative to Obamacare, Draws from Independent Institute Book (Independent Institute News Release, 6/24/16)

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


2) Why the Brexit?

Why did nearly 52 percent of the British electorate cast their vote in favor of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union? Independent Institute Research Fellow Kevin Dowd, who voted for the Brexit, offers a two-pronged answer. The first prong involves major public-policy disappointments. The union, Dowd says, “fleeces us for many billions a year, most of which it wastes on pork-barrel projects”; sucks manufacturing jobs to the continent, away from Great Britain; and pursues foolish monetary and fiscal policies that are pushing Europe’s economy to the brink of collapse. Contrary to many economic analysts, the British economy will grow stronger without the EU, according to Dowd.

The second prong in Dowd’s analysis, closely related to the first, involves political frustrations: Many Brits have felt increasingly alienated from their leaders and beholden to bureaucrats in Brussels. Membership in the union has robbed Brits of policymaking authority on a host of issues, including immigration, regulation, trade, agriculture, and fisheries policy. Moreover, many Brits expected the loss of national sovereignty to worsen. They have long felt that too many political elites—including soon-to-be-former Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, and a string of politicos going all the way back to PM John Major more than 20 years ago—have chosen to remain deaf to reasonable complaints.

“Some of us have been trying to tell them this for years, decades even, and they never did get it,” Dowd writes. “The Brexit vote is a wake-up call that even they can’t ignore any more.” Similar frustrations with political elites, Dowd adds, are palpable in other developed countries and have fed the rise of populist, anti-establishment political movements and candidates. Come November 8, we will get a good sense of how broadly this sentiment is shared in the United States.

Why I Am Voting for Brexit, by Kevin Dowd (The Daily Caller, 6/23/16)

Decisive Brexit Referendum: What Happens Next? Part 1: UK Politics, by Kevin Dowd (The Beacon, 6/26/16)

Brexit, Sexit, Texit, by Randall Holcombe (The Beacon, 6/27/16)

Audio: Robert P. Murphy dissects the Brexit (The Marc Cox Show, 6/24/19)

Money and the Nation State: The Financial Revolution, Government, and the World Monetary System, edited by Kevin Dowd and Richard H. Timberlake, Jr.


3) Orlando’s Lesson: Gun Rights Are Civil Rights

The Orlando shooting, which on June 12 claimed the lives of 49 people and injured 53 others, should remind Americans why, shortly after slavery was abolished, civil-rights advocates pushed for black people to gain the right to armed self-defense. Simply put, gun rights are civil rights. This truth was once commonly recognized, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow William J. Watkins Jr. In 1866, U.S. Representative Henry J. Raymond (R-NY), who opposed laws that prohibited blacks from possessing firearms, “argued that the essential rights of citizenship required that blacks face no obstruction to firearm ownership,” Watkins writes.

Watkins acknowledges that the parallel is not exact—the Black Codes enacted after the Civil War explicitly targeted African-Americans, whereas the gun laws that left patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando defenseless did not target any specific group. Nevertheless, the June 12 massacre reminds us that minority populations are disproportionately put at risk by gun restrictions. One national group, Pink Pistols, was created precisely in order to equip LGBT people with the skills necessary for responsible armed self-defense.

“Pink Pistols suggests that statutes similar to Florida’s should be amended to allow individuals who are not drinking, such as designated drivers or club security officers, to carry guns in bars. With such an amendment, an attacker like [Orlando mass shooter Omar] Mateen would be met with firepower rather than helplessness.... The Orlando shooting was a tragedy and could have been prevented had Pulse not been declared a gun-free zone.”

Gun Restrictions Endanger LGBT Community and Other Minorities, by William J. Watkins Jr. (The Hill, 6/22/16)

Securing Civil Rights: Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, by Stephen P. Halbrook

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


4) Tracking the American Left

American intellectuals on the political left once looked at big government only as the solution to society’s ills, not as a cause. For the past quarter century, however, attitudes have changed. According to Independent Institute Research Fellow James L. Payne, the left now looks at big government as the solution and as part of the problem: Government fails—so we need more government.

What accounts for the paradox? Analyzing scores of books and articles from left-leaning writers since the early 1990s, Payne finds that collectivist biases are often rooted in unexamined emotional attachments rather than hard evidence; and in early socialization rather than independent thinking. But the nature of the left’s unconscious assumptions, especially about values, presents special challenges for their ideological opponents. How can advocates of free markets and free societies hope to persuade leftists, whose fundamental commitments lie often outside the realm of evidence and reasoning? Payne recommends that we begin by asking them what they believe about the prowess (or lack thereof) of government problem-solving.

“Perhaps the route to a healthy perspective on government lies in bringing this unconscious faith into the open,” Payne writes. “One might start simply by asking friends and neighbors—and oneself—‘Do you believe government is an effective and efficient problem-solving system?’ Those who can answer ‘yes’ are logically entitled to endorse activist big government. The rest of us have some hard thinking to do if we want to get past the frustration of expecting a government we mistrust to give us a world we can admire.”

Mistrusting Yet Embracing Big Government: The Rise of ‘Failurism’,” by James L. Payne (The Daily Caller, 5/30/16)

Government Fails, Long Live Government! The Rise of “Failurism,” by James L. Payne (The Independent Review, Summer 2016)

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6) Selected News Alerts

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