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Volume 20, Issue 7: February 13, 2018

  1. Pope Francis, the Amazon, and Property Rights
  2. Healthcare Entrepreneurs Serve an Aging Population
  3. Budget Deal Hammers Last Nail in the Tea Party’s Coffin?
  4. The ‘Chain Migration’ Argument Is Broken
  5. Help Ignite the Power of Independent Thinking
  6. Independent Updates

1) Pope Francis, the Amazon, and Property Rights

Pope Francis decried the poverty and environmental ruination of the Amazon during his trip to Peru last month. He has also announced the convening of Catholic bishops next year to discuss problems facing the region’s resources and peoples. However, he has yet to draw attention to the institution that would both conserve the environment and promote economic self-improvement: property rights. The omission is glaring, given the support that the church has historically expressed toward property rights, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Robert M. Whaples, editor of Pope Francis and the Caring Society, and Research Fellow Adam Summers.

To understand why private landownership is so helpful in promoting economic empowerment and prosperity, Whaples and Summers explain, Pope Francis would do well to consult the writings of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1891 wrote: “Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them.” Property rights offer a similar benefit for resource conservation. Inadequate enforcement of property rights is, in fact, the reason that wildlife poachers and illegal gold miners have succeeded in threatening endangered species, destroying sensitive habitat, and corrupting public officials.

To see the difference that property rights can make, one need only compare the lush forests of the Dominican Republic, where property rights are enforced, with the relative environmental squalor of neighboring Haiti, where property-rights protections are weaker. “Incorporating these lessons would help Pope Francis and the church to even better advance the aims of protecting the environment and drastically reducing poverty and corruption,” Whaples and Summers conclude.

Property Rights Are Key to Answering Pope’s Call to Save the Amazon, by Robert M. Whaples and Adam Summers (, 2/6/18)

Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples


2) Healthcare Entrepreneurs Serve an Aging Population

The aging of the American public is bringing historic new challenges—economic, medical, and social. While the United States faces a worsening shortage of doctors to keep up with the demand, a new breed of entrepreneurs seeks to use innovative technologies to help solve at least some of the problems of an aging population, as Independent Institute Research Fellow Raymond March explains in a recent piece at The Beacon.

Medical entrepreneur Victor Wang, CEO of CareCoach, got the idea for his company while his grandmother was succumbing to dementia. He realized that she and similar homebound patients often needed reminders to take their medications or simply to check in with a caregiver. He solved the problem by creating an easy and appealing way for patients to stay in touch with a trained caregiver located off-site. He even created cartoon avatars—his company’s website features a video of a friendly dog chatting with a patient via a small computer tablet—to make daily interactions with remote caregivers especially inviting.

“CareCoach and other technological advancements continue to provide cheaper and more effective solutions for healthcare’s most difficult problems,” March writes. “Let this post be another of my attempts to argue that markets and entrepreneurship provide solutions. An aging population requiring additional help is no exception.”

Markets Provide Care for an Aging Population, by Raymond March (The Beacon, 2/7/18)

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

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


3) Budget Deal Hammers Last Nail in the Tea Party’s Coffin?

Born in 2009, in protest of the Obama administration’s early huge federal budget hikes and the Bush financial bailouts, the Tea Party died last Friday as President Trump signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

In truth, the grassroots campaign that proclaimed Americans were “taxed enough already” had been waning since the last few years of the Obama era. But as Independent Institute Research Fellow Craig Eyermann explains in a post at MyGovCost News & Blog, last week’s budget agreement removes the singular contribution of the Tea Party to fiscal sanity: the federal spending caps enacted in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which slowed the growth of the national debt.

“The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 permanently erases those spending limits, while authorizing far more spending than would ever have been considered while the Tea Party movement held sufficient political influence to stop it,” Eyermann writes. “The U.S. government’s future now is being dictated by a bipartisan group of politicians and a president who doesn’t place much priority in exercising fiscal restraint.”

The End of the Tea Party, by Craig Eyermann (MyGovCost News & Blog, 2/12/18)

What’s the U.S. government costing you? Finding out with the Government Cost Calculator at


4) The ‘Chain Migration’ Argument Is Broken

Among the debates surrounding U.S. immigration reform, especially those related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, few spark as much heat as so-called “chain migration.” Critics charge that “chain migration” creates a “possibly never-ending chain” of family members brought over from the country of origin. According to Independent Institute Research Fellow Abigail Hall Blanco, however, this complaint doesn’t hold water. Rather, it reflects a poor understanding of immigration law.

The number of visas issued annually under the current family-reunification policy isn’t fixed, but this doesn’t mean that people living in the United States under DACA—the so-called “Dreamers”—are likely to sponsor many visas under family reunification. One reason is that most DACA recipients are likely to meet a spouse who already lives in the United States and is perhaps already a U.S. citizen. Another reason that the chain-migration rationale is flawed is that other family-based visas “are subject to strict quotas,” Hall Blanco writes in her latest op-ed with University of Tampa co-author Michael Coon.

Ultimately, “the United States has strict per-country limits on the number of visas issued,” Hall Blanco and Coon continue. “This means that even if DACA recipients’ relatives were to apply en masse for all these visas, the number of immigrants would not increase. It would only increase the wait time—which is already incredibly long.”

There Is No ‘Chain Migration’ Problem, by Abigail Hall Blanco and Michael Coon (, 1/26/18)

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

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


5) Help Ignite the Power of Independent Thinking

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6) Independent Updates

The Beacon: New Blog Posts

MyGovCost: New Blog Posts


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless