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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 19, Issue 37: September 12, 2017

  1. New Book: Pope Francis and the Caring Society
  2. Two Hurricanes, One Debt Agreement, and Zero Fiscal Accountability
  3. Immigration Policies Thrive on Fake News
  4. Countdown to the Gala for the Future of Liberty
  5. Independent Updates

1) New Book: Pope Francis and the Caring Society

Pope Francis has called for a worldwide conversation about poverty, charity, the market economy, and environmental protection. His invitation has inspired the new Independent Institute book, Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples, who writes: “There is a clear need for dialogue between Pope Francis and economists because the pope and many in the economics profession do not see eye to eye at a fundamental level on many issues.”

How well do Pope Francis’s views accord with contemporary social science and economic research? Are they consistent with traditional Christian teachings? Are wealth redistribution, government regulation, and private-property restrictions part of the solution to the world’s troubles—or are they part of the problem? The book’s eleven contributors offer thoughtful answers, along with non-bureaucratic solutions to environmental protection, a defense of the pontiff’s criticism of power and privilege, and a case for market-based entrepreneurship and private charity as essential tools for fighting poverty and fostering human flourishing.

“Now with Pope Francis and the Caring Society we have the essential and enlightening book to equip us all to understand the crucial issues of economics, the environment, and charity in order to serve and uplift the lives of others,” writes the late Catholic scholar Michael Novak, in his foreword to the book. This fascinating and informative volume belongs in the hands of anyone interested in creating a better, more caring, and prosperous world.

Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples
Foreword to Pope Francis and the Caring Society, by Michael Novak


2) Two Hurricanes, One Debt Agreement, and Zero Fiscal Accountability

In the end, Irma and Harvey may get credit or blame for brokering last week’s debt-ceiling deal. Almost until it actually happened—just as Floridians were preparing for the mother of all hurricanes—few predicted that President Trump would win over congressional Democrats in an effort to raise the statutory limit on federal borrowing. What finally emerges from that agreement may be something far more enduring: legislation to do away with the federal debt-ceiling once and for all.

If done right, it might usher in an era of fiscal accountability, argues Independent Institute Research Fellow Craig Eyermann in a post at MyGovCost News & Blog. Such would be the case if it meant that the annual budget-approval process returned to regular (and transparent) order, as opposed to back-room deals and continuing resolutions. But to paraphrase one 19th century sage, no form of accountability is safe while the Congress is in session.

As in so many cases, the best advice may have come from the misunderstood early critics of the Constitution, explains Independent Institute Research Fellow William J. Watkins Jr., in a new op-ed for The Hill. If the counsel of the Antifederalists had been heeded, both the House and the Senate would be required to have a supermajority for Congress to spend beyond their means. “Such a provision,” Watkins writes, “would give fiscally responsible senators and representatives a club with which to beat back reckless spending.”

Dealing Away the Debt Ceiling, by Craig Eyermann (MyGovCost News & Blog, 9/11/17)

What the Antifederalists Can Teach Us on the Debt Ceiling Debate, by William J. Watkins Jr. (The Hill, 9/11/17)

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

Video Series: Love Gov: From First Date to Mandate


3) Immigration Policies Thrive on Fake News

There’s little of merit in the so-called “merit-based” immigration legislation known as the RAISE Act. “The bill would not make more jobs available for the native born or improve their wages, but it would harm our economy,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin Powell in an op-ed at Inside Sources.

The root misconception at the heart of the RAISE Act—and every other effort to reduce immigration, legal or illegal—is the notion that immigrant labor harms working-class Americans. As Powell notes, however, newcomers and native-born workers are complements, not substitutes. “By restricting low-skilled migration, the RAISE Act would likely harm the wages of most working-class Americans who have high school diplomas,” Powell writes.

This was the case when immigration was reduced in 1964. The end of the 22-year-old federal Bracero program slashed the number of Mexican farm workers in the United States, but it did nothing to raise wages for native-born workers. Instead, farmers ended up switching to less labor-intensive crops and using more farm equipment instead of hiring native labor. “Such unintended consequences are to be expected whenever policy reforms aim to restrict the labor pool for the supposed benefit of native workers,” explains Powell.

Republican Immigration Proposal Is All Pain and No Gain, by Benjamin Powell (Inside Sources, 9/5/17)

The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy, by Benjamin Powell

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


4) Countdown to the Gala for the Future of Liberty

We’re eagerly awaiting Independent Institute’s 30th Anniversary Gala for the Future of Liberty, to be held Friday, September 22, at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco (tickets, tables, and sponsorships are available here). Master of Ceremonies P. J. O’Rourke (related San Francisco Chronicle op-ed here) will entertain us as we honor North Korean human-rights activist Yeonmi Park (East Bay Times op-ed here), Nobel laureate economist Vernon Smith, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper (Mercury News op-ed here). Each of our honorees has made tremendous contributions to the cause of civil liberties, free markets, and entrepreneurial innovation. (See the nifty videos we’ve made about our luminaries here.)

But our most important honorees are Lighthouse readers and supporters like you, who have amplified and transmitted our message of market-based solutions and freedom of opportunity by sharing them with family, friends, neighbors, teachers, colleagues, political representatives, clergy, talk show hosts, newspaper editors, and anyone else you thought might listen. Without your efforts, nothing we do would be possible—or worthwhile. Nor would the prospects of a truly free society be as bright as they are.

When Independent Institute began, in 1986, the movement for liberty was just a snowflake, with only a relative handful of academics, students, or media pundits open to the idea of a free society. Now, more than 30 years later, it would be too modest even to call it a snowball. It is so much more. It is a worldwide movement that, we believe, may be at the cusp of a turning point. To be sure, there is much hard work to be done; we can’t ignore the new threats to peace, innovation, prosperity, and liberty that have emerged. But realism does not mean cynicism. Realism means taking accurate stock of our strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities—including the huge number of millennials eager for non-bureaucratic alternatives to solving societal problems—and planning accordingly. On this score, we have much to be thankful for and hopeful about.

Please join us on September 22 as we share the excitement and chart a bold course toward a truly free society at Independent Institute’s 30th Anniversary Gala for the Future of Liberty. If you’re not able to attend, please know that you have a special place in our hearts. Also, your tax-deductible contribution—of any amount—is always greatly appreciated.

A Gala for the Future of Liberty, Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, September 22, 2017

How Freedom, Innovation, and Incentives Do a Better Job at Building Society Than Can Government, by Timothy C. Draper (The Mercury News, 9/6/17)

How the Black Market Helped Me, and Others, Escape North Korea, by Yeonmi Park (The East Bay Times, 8/15/17)

Predicting the Economic Future: Karl Marx’s Crackpot Predictions in a New Light, by P.J. O’Rourke (The San Francisco Chronicle, 8/17/17)


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


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