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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 19, Issue 4: January 24, 2017

  1. Replace Obamacare Right Away, the Right Way
  2. The Intelligence-Community Shake-Up We Need
  3. Minimum Wage Harms the Most Vulnerable
  4. Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar (Santa Clara, CA; June 26–30)
  5. Independent Updates

1) Replace Obamacare Right Away, the Right Way

The Affordable Care Act has made healthcare less affordable for millions of Americans. To make significant and lasting improvements to healthcare will require that the new administration and Congress not merely repeal Obamacare, but that they replace it with reforms specifically designed to make health insurance affordable for all, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman. The pioneering health-policy economist (the Wall Street Journal calls him “the father of Health Savings Accounts”) offers his latest statement of the principles for sound post-Obamacare reform in a piece published last week in Health Affairs, co-authored with Rep. Pete Sessions and Sen. Bill Cassidy, sponsors of bicameral legislation known as the Sessions-Cassidy Health Plan.

Their proposals, they explain, are based on eight key principles: (1) Remove the perverse incentives that encourage insurers to seek out healthier customers and avoid sicker ones; (2) Offer a uniform tax credit to people who buy their own health insurance; (3) Offer the same tax credit for group insurance; (4) Let employers choose between the individual and group markets; (5) Let employers choose the employee’s tax benefit; (6) Let employers offer their employees personal and portable insurance; (7) Integrate Medicaid and private insurance; and (8) Create an effective safety net by sending uncollected tax credits to the communities where the uninsured live.

“Under the proposals outlined above, there is no reason for anyone to be uninsured,” Goodman, Sessions, and Cassidy write. Healthcare would be made affordable and accessible to all. “And in case some fall through the cracks and remain uninsured, an adequately funded safety net will insure access to medical care.”

How We Can Repeal the ACA and Still Insure the Uninsured, by John C. Goodman, Pete Sessions and Bill Cassidy (Health Affairs Blog, 1/18/17)

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


2) The Intelligence-Community Shake-Up We Need

On Saturday, President Trump heaped praise on the CIA during a visit to the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia—a far cry from the harsh criticism he lobbed at the intelligence community throughout his presidential campaign and as recently as a week ago. His seeming about-face makes a certain amount of sense: Getting things done in Washington, DC, may require him to make various strategic investments of political capital in various bureaucracies (“Give a little to get a little.”). From a policy angle, however, it’s best that the new Commander-in-Chief keep his emotional distance from America’s spy agencies, lest he lose sight of the need to change them for the sake of national security. The most badly needed change, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, is to make the intelligence community more agile and less bureaucratic: Defeating terrorist cells requires institutions that can detect and respond to emerging lethal threats just as quickly and creatively as the enemy.

To accomplish this feat, the intelligence community must be pared down significantly, its wasteful redundancies slashed if not eliminated. To that end, Eland recommends eliminating the top-level Office of the Director of National Intelligence, merging the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, and putting various high-tech data-gathering agencies under the watch of a single agency, an Office of Technical Intelligence Collection. Along with consolidating a sprawling, seventeen-agency bureaucracy and cutting tremendous waste, Eland calls for improving human-intelligence gathering—HUMINT in spy lingo—an area that, remarkably, still lags in the post-9/11 era.

“In sum, almost any Trump administration shake-up of the ossified intelligence community would be welcome,” Eland writes.

The Intelligence Community Does Need a Shake-Up, by Ivan Eland (Huffington Post, 1/17/17)

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

American Surveillance: Intelligence, Privacy, and the Fourth Amendment, by Anthony Gregory


3) Minimum Wage Harms the Most Vulnerable

Officials in San Diego, California, are lashing out against local restaurant owners who have responded to recent minimum-wage hikes by adding a 3 to 5 percent surcharge to customers’ bill. If the restaurants hadn’t been so politically incorrect as to itemize the expense of complying with the new law, or if they had notified their customers ahead of time that the wage mandate will raise the price of a meal—no problem, according to City Hall; they’re just not supposed to give customers any surprises. And yet, minimum-wage enthusiasts have no hesitation about throwing the most vulnerable workers for a loop, with loopy wage mandates that raise the cost of doing business and decrease the demand for labor. As Independent Institute Research Fellow Abigail R. Hall Blanco notes, “minimum-wage increases will boost the pay of some while sending others to the unemployment office.”

Hall also notes that lawmakers are quick to blame others when their policies backfire. Venezuela’s Nicholas Maduro, following in the footsteps of his mentor Hugo Chavez, scapegoats virtually everyone in sight for his nation’s rising unemployment, inflation, shortages, and violence. Fingers are pointed everywhere except at a mirror. “Government officials should own the unintended, though not unexpected, results of their decisions.”

The Unintended Consequences of Minimum Wage Hikes, by Abigail R. Hall Blanco (, 1/18/17)

Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America, by Richard K. Vedder and Lowell E. Gallaway


4) Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar (Santa Clara, CA; June 26–30)

Are you or a college student in your life up for a challenge?

Each summer, college students from around the globe explore the nature and ramifications of liberty at Independent Institute’s Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar. By learning the ethical and economic principles of free societies, students put themselves on a path to a life of liberty in pursuit of the good.

This summer, students will spend five days (June 26-30) in Santa Clara, California—the heart of Silicon Valley—absorbing lectures, digesting readings, participating in breakout sessions, and socializing with leading scholars and like-minded students. The journey starts with the foundations of liberty in Western Civilization and the moral, historical, legal, and economic framework of liberty. To learn more about specific topics covered, visit our curriculum page. Also, check out the YouTube playlist of talks from previous Challenge of Liberty seminars.

Tuition is $525 and scholarships are available on a first come, first serve basis. Complete your application today to secure a spot, and scholarship, at the Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar. Or, consider sponsoring a student!

Related interest:

Student Internships at Independent Institute


5) Independent Updates

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MyGovCost: New Blog Posts
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