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Volume 18, Issue 47: November 22, 2016

  1. Rolling Back Government: A Win/Win Approach
  2. Rebuild America—Privately
  3. China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  4. Etiquette Tips Washington Can Teach Trump
  5. Help Us Build Bridges to Liberty and Prosperity
  6. Independent Updates

1) Rolling Back Government: A Win/Win Approach

For decades, a growing dependence on government has taken a heavy toll—higher taxes, political polarization, and mounting hidden costs and unintended consequences. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way: Opportunities to better manage life’s risks by reducing government waste are all around us, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman explains in his innovative policy report, Better than Government: A New Way of Managing Life’s Risks.

Goodman’s approach employs three strategies. Strategy #1: Seek out and implement win/win policy changes that reduce costs but not benefits. Everyone would win; who would object? The U.S. political system offers thousands of opportunities to make win/win policy changes. Strategy #2: To discover win/win outcomes, we must embrace the trial-and-error principle and be willing to experiment and adapt—just as private markets do every day.

The expansion of social insurance has been the key driver of our worsening fiscal predicament. Thus, the imperative of Strategy #3: Employ win/win thinking and policy experimentation to solve problems created by social insurance. This strategy offers great hope—perhaps our only hope—for averting a major financial meltdown caused by runaway government spending. Goodman’s three strategies can bridge the partisan divide. We have much to gain by following them—and nothing to lose.

Better than Government: A New Way of Managing Life’s Risks, by John C. Goodman (10/6/16)

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

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


2) Rebuild America—Privately

President-elect Donald Trump has called for a $1 trillion increase in federal spending on infrastructure. “Given government’s record of failure, however, Washington would do better to step aside and let private entrepreneurs repair America’s roads, bridges and ports,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan in an op-ed for Investor’s Business Daily.

One reason, McQuillan explains, is that government-operated infrastructure is often poorly maintained because public agencies tend to treat upkeep “solely as a cost, rather than as an investment that can increase future revenues.”

Other countries are pointing the way, and some of the most impressive efforts are underway in South America. Brazil, for example, has auctioned operating rights for certain highways for 30 years. And Colombia has contracted with a Spanish firm to build and run a 50-mile highway for 25 years. “The U.S. should follow the lead of other countries and auction off or lease infrastructure assets to private companies with an economic incentive to properly maintain them and avoid boondoggles,” McQuillan writes. “Then, perhaps, we’ll get what we need and get what we pay for.”

If You Want to Fix U.S. Infrastructure, Ask Government to Step Aside, by Lawrence J. McQuillan (Investor’s Business Daily, 11/7/16)

Caltrans Wins Golden Fleece Award for Its $10 Billion Highway Robbery

Street Smart, edited by Gabriel Roth


3) China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration and 11 other governments along the Pacific Rim, took much heat from presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But while the election-season rhetoric focused on the treaty’s economic aspects, the treaty also has a strategic objective that the candidates often ignored: the containment of a rising China.

China is not a party of TPP, and this is by design. By strengthening economic ties among its signatory countries, the Obama administration hoped to create a united economic front against Chinese encroachment. But as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa notes in an op-ed for The National Interest, there’s something the White House couldn’t counter: the self-interest of countries that saw economic benefits from entering directly into trade agreements with China itself. Consequently, Beijing now has trade deals with three-fourths of the TPP’s signatory countries.

“While U.S. politicians are debating whether TPP is the best way to contain Beijing or a Trojan horse of Chinese economic imperialism (even though China isn’t even part of the treaty), the Chinese have created their own TPP and they’re busy expanding it,” Vargas Llosa writes. The irony is hard to miss, he adds. “That a communist dictatorship should be giving the land of Thomas Jefferson lessons on free trade is one of the paradoxes of these confusing times.”

How China Has Created Its Own TPP, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (The National Interest, 11/8/16)

Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization, and America, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa


4) Etiquette Tips Washington Can Teach Trump

To help calm America’s choppy political waters, President-elect Trump could do little wrong by emulating Washington—the man, not the city. As Independent Institute Research Fellow Gary M. Galles notes in the East Bay Times, George Washington’s advice on civility and decorum is as sensible and timely as ever. Consider a few of the gems from an essay he wrote in his teens:

“Undertake not what you cannot perform.” “Always submit your judgment to others with modesty.” “Speak not injurious words, neither in jest nor earnest.” “Neither curse nor revile.”

Washington, however, offered a major exception to such peace-making maxims: “Express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes, under any specious pretenses, to overturn the liberties of our country.” As Galles writes, “Washington would provide a useful model for Donald Trump in the city that was named for him.”

Is There Any Chance of Healing the Uncivil War?, by Gary M. Galles (The East Bay Times, 11/11/16)

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


5) Help Us Build Bridges to Liberty and Prosperity

On November 29, Independent Institute is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving powered by online fundraising and social media. Join with us as we work to ensure a brighter future of more freedom and prosperity!


6) Independent Updates
The Beacon: New Blog Posts
MyGovCost: New Blog Posts
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