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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 18, Issue 27: July 6, 2016

  1. Life after Brexit: What’s Next for the UK?
  2. Single-Payer Healthcare by States Won’t Happen
  3. Are Federal Bans on Mining for the Birds?
  4. Time for U.S. to Exit Entangling Alliances
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts

1) Life after Brexit: What’s Next for the UK?

In last week’s Lighthouse, we summed up Independent Institute Research Fellow Kevin Dowd’s case in favor of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. More recently, the British economist, writing in The Beacon, has offered detailed predictions about the future of the UK. The gist: Whether they want to or not, the British Prime Minister and Parliament will, as required by the British constitution, move forward on legislation formally enabling Brexit. Northern Ireland will not push for independence, even though it voted to remain in the EU—for the simple reason that it favors staying in the UK even more. Scotland, too, will remain in the UK; any independence referendum it might pass would have absolutely no legal authority. As for the timing of the exit, Dowd recommends that the UK not invoke Article 50—the EU charter’s provision for secession, which takes two years to complete—until after the UK and the EU work out, across a period lasting several years, all of the many details that must be resolved before the “divorce” can become final. Can anything more about Brexit be said?

Yes, more can be said. Independent Institute Research Fellow William J. Watkins, Jr., author of the forthcoming book Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America’s First Constitution, likens Brexit to America’s struggle for independence from British rule. “For example, Americans protested that a distant parliament passed laws governing the internal affairs of the colonies rather than leaving such matters to colonial legislatures,” he writes, “The British feel the same way about the EU’s central government in Brussels regulating such minutiae as the length of imported bananas and the electric conductivity of honey.” Similarly, many Brits harbor feelings of distance and alienation from the European Court of Justice, which decides cases “on principles alien to the ancient British constitution,” Watkins continues.

But wait, there’s more. Independent Institute Research Fellow Robert P. Murphy, author of Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action, weighs in on the economics of Brexit. Among several value points he makes is one related to trade. The European Union is free to maintain open trade relations with a post-Brexit United Kingdom, he notes. Thus, if Brexit leads to protective tariffs and import quotas, this will be only because the EU and/or the UK want this to happen. But if both parties act in their own self-interest, open trade will remain unrestricted—as it should.

Decisive Brexit Referendum: What Happens Next? Part 2: The Disunited Kingdom, by Kevin Dowd (The Beacon, 7/5/16)

Why Secession Is Not a Dirty Word, by William J. Watkins Jr. (World Net Daily, 7/3/16)

The Economics of Brexit, by Robert P. Murphy (The Daily Caller, 7/5/16)

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


2) Single-Payer Healthcare by States Won’t Happen

Bernie Sanders supports a single-pay healthcare plan, but on this issue as on many others, his stance is far to the left of most voters. But since so-called “single-payer”—a euphemism for socialist healthcare funded with taxpayer dollars—won’t fly at the federal level, its supporters hope to take their battle to the states. Come November, for example, Colorado voters will weigh in on Amendment 69, a ballot measure calling for the state to fund healthcare through a $25 billion tax hike. According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham, however, nothing much will come of it—even if voters approve.

For the states to enact single-payer healthcare, several unlikely events would need to occur, Graham explains in a recent op-ed for the Washington Examiner. States would have to successfully navigate around the federally financed and operated Medicare program, obtain a federal waiver to run their Medicaid programs independently of the feds, win congressional approval so that state insurance laws would trump the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and out-lobby America’s largest employers, who are vested in the status quo.

“Even if Coloradans vote for single-payer healthcare in November, the obstacles to it or any other state actually instituting it are overwhelming,” Graham writes. Ironically, one measure that would have made it easier for states to adopt single-payer healthcare—federal block grants to the states—“are proposed by Republicans in Congress and opposed by Democrats.” Hopefully, federal lawmakers will abandon this approach and instead get behind a recent proposal fashioned after the work of Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman.

The Fantasy of Single-Payer Healthcare in the States, by John R. Graham (Washington Examiner, 6/20/16)

Paul Ryan’s Health Plan, a New Alternative to Obamacare, Draws from Independent Institute Book (6/27/16)

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

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman


3) Are Federal Bans on Mining for the Birds?

With little time left on its clock, the Obama administration is rushing to place millions of acres of federal land off limits to commercial resource extraction. Although Lighthouse subscribers have read about regulatory obstacles to oil and gas development, a recent op-ed by Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II and Strata Research Director Megan E. Hansen emphasizes the harm that federal restrictions impose on the development of minerals and metals that could otherwise be used for making things like smart phones, electric car batteries, and computer memory chips.

“Mineral resources are plentiful within our borders, but the United States imported $41 billion worth of processed mineral materials in 2014 from foreign countries,” Shughart and Hansen write. “The production of rare earth metals, for example, is now dominated by China, even though the United States once was a leading rare earth elements producer. In fact, we have now become 100 percent dependent on imports of 19 key minerals.”

The Department of Interior is trying to create more obstacles. Last fall it proposed withdrawing 10 million acres of land from resource development—an amount equivalent of the size of Yellowstone National Park—ostensibly in order to protect the habitat of the greater sage grouse—a bird species that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services says is not at risk of extinction. “Banning mining on federal lands will weaken Western state economies to protect a species that doesn’t seem to need protecting,” Shughart and Hansen continue. “Claiming that the ban will save the greater sage grouse is an absurdly deceptive justification for regulatory overreach.”

Keeping Minerals in the Ground Keeps Them Out of the Economy, by William F. Shughart II and Megan E. Hansen (Inside Sources, 6/8/16)

Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination, edited by William F. Shughart II


4) Time for U.S. to Exit Entangling Alliances

Will the American public take a lesson from British voters and reconsider their official commitments to European allies—namely, U.S. participation in NATO? Whatever the impulses behind Donald Trump’s call for pulling out of various military alliances, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland the time is ripe for rethinking Pax Americana.

Part of the justification for a U.S. withdrawal from NATO is financial. “The United States accounts for three-quarters of the defense spending of NATO countries, and it is very unlikely that those allies—all much closer to zones of conflict than is the United States—will be defending the superpower rather than vice versa,” Eland writes. The same is true with respect to America’s allies in East Asia: the U.S. foots most of the bill but gets little if anything in return—not even open markets for U.S. trade and investment.

An even greater justification for reducing military commitments involves the alleged purpose of the alliances: national security. The United States is surrounded by two oceans and two friendly nations, and enjoys the world’s largest defensive capability. Yet military entanglements in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East risk drawing the United States into armed conflicts large and small. The U.S. government’s alliances threaten America’s financial soundness and national security. “Perhaps an Amerexit from them is in order,” Eland concludes.

How About an Amerexit from NATO and Other One-Sided Military Alliances?, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 6/27/16)

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland


6) Selected News Alerts

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