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Volume 13, Issue 44: November 1, 2011

  1. ‘Homeland Security’ Charade Is the Theater of the Absurd
  2. Nature Editorial Reveals Bias on Global Warming
  3. Gala for Liberty Honors Humanity’s Benefactors
  4. New Blog Posts

Please join with us to celebrate The Independent Institute’s 25th Anniversary Dinner: A Gala for Liberty, November 15th, at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. Honorees Lech Walesa, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Robert Higgs will be presented with the Alexis de Tocqueville Award as champions of individual liberty, entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, civic virtue, and the rule of law.

1) ‘Homeland Security’ Charade Is the Theater of the Absurd

Tennessee’s recent “Homeland Security” automobile inspections—conducted simultaneously at seven roadside sites across the Volunteer State—represent another example of outrageously wasteful government spending in the post-9/11 era. Law-enforcement bureaucrats may point to the so-called Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) operations as success stories in the war on terrorism—after all, no terrorist attacks have followed after the vehicles were checked. But claiming that the operations actually prevent terrorist attacks is as ridiculous as saying that flying billion-dollar B-2 stealth bombers above shopping malls has succeeded in eliminating bear attacks. Independent Institute Research Fellow Art Carden explains why VIPR campaigns are nothing more than “security theater” in his latest column for

The probability of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil is extremely low. Carden cites the work of security experts John Mueller and Mark Stewart, whose book on terrorism risks was summarized in a recent series for the website “They estimate that we would have to stop about 1,667 attacks similar to the failed Times Square bombing in New York in order for current Homeland Security spending to be worthwhile,” Carden writes. “I’m virtually certain the threat isn’t that high.”

As with many other cases of government waste, federal and state officials have spent too much money on counterterrorism because the political system encourages them to do so. “It’s because of the incentives created when resources are allocated by political means rather than voluntary exchange,” Carden writes.

Springfield Political Economy: Homeland Security and the Bear Patrol, by Art Carden (, 10/27/11)

Terrorized into Absurdity: The Creation of the Transportation Security Administration, by Roger Roots (The Independent Review, Spring 2003)

Bruce M. Russett’s review of Darren W. Davis’s Negative Liberty: Public Opinion and the Terrorist Attacks on America (The Independent Review, Winter 2009)


2) Nature Editorial Reveals Bias on Global Warming

Last week, Nature magazine ran an editorial that lauded the findings of four new studies on climate change released by Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST), a group created to review global temperature data and foster transparency in climate-change research. The journal’s tone was clearly an instance of editorializing, as the following words indicate: “Results confirming climate change are welcome, even when released before peer review.” In a Letter to the Editors of Nature, Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer argues that the editorial’s tone and content run counter to the spirit of the scientific method—and he notes some of the limitations of the BEST studies that went unacknowledged in the editorial.

According to Singer, the findings of the four studies by BEST—as opposed to media reports about them, including the Nature editorial—“added little to the ongoing debate on human causes of climate change.” The studies admit that 70 percent of U.S. weather stations used to collect temperature data are poorly sited to give an accurate representation of land temperatures across the country, and they do not meet government standards. Moreover, warming trends suggested by land-surface data are not consistent with data collected from other sources. For example, data from tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments, stalagmites—so-called temperature “proxies”—show no signs of global warming after 1940. And temperature data collected by weather satellites and balloons show no recent warming trend, even though all climate models insist that greenhouse warming would drive up atmospheric temperatures more quickly than surface temperatures.

Singer concludes that Nature’s editorial writers could learn a thing or two from the prudence of the Berkeley studies. He writes: “One last word: You evidently haven’t read the four scientific BEST papers, submitted for peer review. There, the Berkeley scientists disclaim knowing the cause of the temperature increase reported by their project. They conclude, however: ‘The human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated.’ I commend them for their honesty and skepticism.”

The Scientific Finding that Does Not Settle the Climate-Change Debate, by S. Fred Singer (10/26/11)

Video: Hot Talk and Cold Science of Global Warming, featuring S. Fred Singer (7/14/11)

Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer

If You Don’t First Succeed: Yet More Climate Alarmist Fraud?, by David Theroux (10/30/11)


3) Gala for Liberty Honors Humanity’s Benefactors

A Gala for Liberty—a celebration of the Independent Institute’s 25th anniversary—will honor the contributions of human-rights activist and former President of Poland Lech Wałęsa, Nobel laureate writer Mario Vargas Llosa, and economist and historian Robert Higgs. Each will receive the Alexis de Tocqueville Award in recognition of their exceptional contributions to individual liberty. The gala promises to be a night to remember, as was the Institute’s 2008 gala featuring South African peacemaker Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actor and filmmaker Andy Garcia, and pioneering venture capitalist William K. Bowes, Jr.

In his humor-filled acceptance speech, Tutu explained that he became a leader in apartheid-era South Africa almost by accident. “I was a leader at the time really by default because our leaders were either in jail or in exile or had been restricted in one way or another,” he said.

Tutu also explained that South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Committee, which he headed from 1996 to 1998, had two unique features that similar efforts in other countries should consider adopting: it held all proceedings in public, and it had the power to grant amnesty to rights violators. The Committee hearings, he said, benefited both the victims and the perpetrators of injustice. An excerpt of his presentation is linked below.

Video Excerpt: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu Inspired Independent Institute Gala Attendees (9/16/08)

Video: Desmond Tutu Accepts the Alexis de Toqueville Award. Includes Interview with Charlie Rose and Introduction by George B. N. Ayittey (9/16/08)

Video: David J. Theroux’s Introductory Remarks at the 2008 Gala for Liberty (9/16/08)

A Gala for Liberty, November 15, 2011, San Francisco, Calif.


4) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Budget Supercommittee Facing Deliberation Deadline
Stephanie Freedman (10/31/11)

Government Dependency at Record High
Stephanie Freedman (10/28/11)

Fraudulence in Federal Funding
Stephanie Freedman (10/25/11)

Washington Breaks Government Spending Record: $3.6 Trillion
David Theroux (10/25/11)

New Budget Proposal Highlights a Flat Tax
Stephanie Freedman (10/25/11)

The Independent Institute’s Spanish-language blog has surpassed 3 million page views! You can find it here.


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