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Volume 18, Issue 38: September 20, 2016

  1. The Constitution’s Anti-Federalist Critics Should Also Be Remembered
  2. Cheers for the World’s Greatest Health Plan
  3. The Independent Review on Foreign Intervention
  4. “Dakota Access Pipeline” Opponents Deliver Nonsense
  5. Independent Updates

1) The Constitution’s Anti-Federalist Critics Should Also Be Remembered

America’s Founders were both cynics and optimists: They were cynics in that they believed government must be bound by checks and balances—and most of all by the rule of law—lest any particular branch grow too powerful and end up oppressing the people. They were optimists in that they believed their experiment in self-government would succeed and favorably change the cours­­­e of history. They clashed bitterly, however, on how best to protect the basic values they shared, as Independent Institute Research Fellow William J. Watkins, Jr., explains in an op-ed published last week on Constitution Day.

One manifestation of this conflict arose in Philadelphia during the debates over the Constitution. Federalists such as Madison and Hamilton urged adoption of the proposed national charter in the wake of the implosion of the Articles of Confederation. “They denied that the new government would have the power to infringe the reserved powers of the states,” Watkins writes. “The Anti-Federalists, however, were not calmed by these assurances.”

The Anti-Federalists were proven right, as the federal government implemented a host (then hundreds and later thousands) of programs and policies not authorized by the Constitution, effectively replacing the doctrine of limited powers with the doctrine of implied powers. “Today we are hard pressed to name any area of life immune from federal interference,” Watkins continues. “The Anti-Federalists correctly identified the dangers in the Constitution. To them we should also turn for advice on the cure.” Watkins shares the Anti-Federalists’ wisdom in his forthcoming book, Crossroads for Liberty, to be published in October by Independent Institute.

Federal Dysfunction and Constitution Day, by William J. Watkins Jr. (The Washington Examiner, 9/17/16)

Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America’s First Constitution, by William J. Watkins, Jr.


2) Cheers for the World’s Greatest Health Plan

In May, one of the most promising healthcare bills ever drafted was introduced into Congress—legislation based on the books PricelessandA Better Choice, both by Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman. As Goodman explains in a new Independent Institute Briefing, the Sessions-Cassidy Health Plan (or “The World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan,” as Rep. Pete Sessions and Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., call it), was designed to remedy the flaws of the Affordable Care Act, foster a marketplace that empowers patients, provide real protection for people with pre-existing conditions, and streamline and minimize the role of government.

“All the anti-job provisions of Obamacare will be eliminated, including the employer mandates,” Goodman writes. The individual mandate would also be scrapped. “People may choose insurance based upon individual and family needs, not the government’s needs.”

One of the bill’s key features is a universal tax credit for the purchase of health insurance—$8,000 for a family of four. Unclaimed tax credits would go to safety-net institutions for the healthcare of the uninsured. Because the tax credits would not vary by income, the main cause of glitches in the Obamacare exchanges—the technical difficulty of verifying income eligibility—would simply evaporate. “We could turn the administration of the exchanges over to a private firm like EHealth, which could easily enroll people with off-the-shelf technology,” Goodman writes.

The Sessions-Cassidy Health Plan, by John C. Goodman (8/25/16)

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

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


3) The Independent Review on Foreign Intervention

What’s the proper role of the U.S. government in matters of security and defense? Even among those united by their devotion to individual liberty, the answer is highly contested. To shed light on the debate, the Fall 2016 issue of The Independent Review features a symposium on foreign intervention.

In his introductory article, symposium editor Christopher J. Coyne notes the symposium’s purpose and scope: “The five papers in this symposium engage various aspects of foreign intervention and illustrate some of the tensions and open issues associated with libertarian and classical liberal perspectives on foreign policy.” Christopher Preble explains why libertarians traditionally have championed foreign policies aimed at avoiding war and its precursors. Fernando R. Tesón examines the just-war doctrine and its relevance for the West’s military engagement with ISIS.

David R. Henderson makes an economist’s case for a noninterventionist foreign policy. Ivan Eland estimates the U.S. military force structure consistent with three alternative interpretations of Thomas Jefferson’s principle of “peaceful trade with all, entangling alliances with none.” Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall Blanco conclude the discussion by analyzing eight characteristics they argue are pillars of the pro-interventionist mindset. Writes Coyne: “My hope is that the [symposium articles] will encourage discussion, debate, and further research on a range of foreign-policy issues that are central to the maintenance of a free and prosperous society.”

Introduction: Symposium on Foreign Intervention, by Christopher J. Coyne (The Independent Review, Fall 2016)

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4) “Dakota Access Pipeline” Opponents Deliver Nonsense

Spanning 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Central Illinois, and with a daily carrying capacity of approximately half a million barrels of crude oil, the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is one of the most significant energy projects underway. It is also one of the most controversial: The $3.8 billion pipeline is the subject of ongoing lawsuits, federal injunctions, and protests. Much of the opposition, unfortunately, rests on misunderstandings about the relative risk posed by the pipeline as well as unlawful tactics by demonstrators, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II.

“Trespassing demonstrators, who have tried to prevent pipeline workers from doing their jobs and at one point caused the closure of a state highway, have gone too far, especially since many of them did not bother to attend public meetings or file comments before DAPL’s construction began,” Shughart writes in a recent op-ed.

Moreover, those demonstrators fail to acknowledge the environmental benefits from the completion of the DAPL. “What the activists apparently fail to grasp,” Shughart continues, “is that the alternative to transporting crude oil by pipeline is shipping it by railcar or over the road—much less safe or environmentally friendly transportation modes.” One can only hope that the ill-informed, ill-mannered protestors run out of gas.

Environmentalists’ Questionable Tactics in North Dakota, by William F. Shughart II (Real Clear Energy, 9/9/16)

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

Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy vs. the Environment, by Randy T Simmons, Ryan M. Yonk, and Kenneth J. Sim


5) Independent Updates
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MyGovCost: New Blog Posts
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