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Volume 13, Issue 46: November 15, 2011

  1. Mario Vargas Llosa and the Search for Liberty
  2. New Book Criticizes U.S. Defense Subsidies for Oil
  3. Save Lives—Lift the Ban on the Organ Trade
  4. Is the World Really Safer without Gadhafi?
  5. 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) Mario Vargas Llosa and the Search for Liberty

In an op-ed that ran last week in the Wall Street Journal, Nobel laureate writer and Gala for Liberty honoree Mario Vargas Llosa defended his passion for individual liberty and lamented those critics—on the left and the right—who praise his novels but distance themselves from the pro-freedom ideals they represent. One reason for the disconnect, he argues, can be blamed on those who have championed the market economy without lending adequate support to civil liberties—or worse, have directly or indirectly supported their curtailment.

“There are those who in the name of the free market have supported Latin American dictatorships whose iron hand of repression was said to be necessary to allow business to function, betraying the very principles of human rights that free economies rest upon,” Vargas Llosa writes.

Vargas Llosa, who will receive the Alexis de Tocqueville Award at the Independent Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala for Liberty on November 15, also explained the difference between contemporary liberalism and true liberalism. He concluded by arguing that the tradition of open dissent in the United States and elsewhere offers reason for hope. “In Latin America, outside of Venezuela and Cuba, dictatorship of the old socialist and fascist varieties is dead, with market reforms sweeping even nominally leftist regimes,” he writes. “The search for liberty is simply part of the greater search for a world where respect for the rule of law and human rights is universal—a world free of dictators, terrorists, warmongers and fanatics, where men and women of all nationalities, races, traditions and creeds can coexist in the culture of freedom, where borders give way to bridges that people cross to reach their goals limited only by free will and respect for one another’s rights.”

Literature and the Search for Liberty, by Mario Vargas Llosa (The Wall Street Journal, 11/8/11)

Mario Vargas Llosa: An Intellectual Journey, by Julio H. Cole (The Independent Review, Summer 2011)

Event: A Gala for Liberty, Honoring Mario Vargas Llosa, Lech Wałęsa, and Robert Higgs (San Francisco, Calif., 11/15/11)


2) New Book Criticizes U.S. Defense Subsidies for Oil

The United States gets only about 10 percent of its oil from the Persian Gulf, but it spends more than $334 billion per year to defend that region. If that cost were incorporated into gasoline prices, Americans would pay $5 more per gallon of gas, according to one estimate. Those eager to learn more about the hidden costs of U.S. defense subsidies for foreign oil will feel as if they’ve hit a gusher when they read the richly insightful new book, No War for Oil: U.S. Dependency and the Middle East, by Ivan Eland, senior fellow at the Independent Institute and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty.

According to Eland, the notion that America’s energy needs require the U.S. military to protect the energy resources of oil-rich countries—an idea shared by all U.S. presidents and their advisors since at least World War II—is wrong, dead wrong. It has led to costly and unnecessary wars with massive losses of human life and has eroded liberty at home. The free flow of oil to the United States does not require U.S. military protection abroad, Eland argues, because Americans can rely on markets alone to deliver fuel, just as they rely on markets to provide Big Macs, iPhones, and SUVs.

No War for Oil will engage a broad range of readers. Eland begins with a look at the history of oil and military conflicts, including the two World Wars, the oil shortages of the 1970s, the Iran-Iraq War, and the two U.S.-led wars against Iraq. He then rebuts eleven popular myths about oil markets, including the notion that Big Oil colludes with OPEC to raise prices and the idea that energy independence would make Americans more prosperous and secure. Eland displays impressive analytical acumen as he scrutinizes claims about alleged threats to oil supplies abroad. In the book’s final chapter, he offers simple guidelines to improve U.S. defense policy. Eland’s thesis is as relevant to recent policy debates as it is provocative. “In short, going to war for oil is unnecessary, expensive in blood and treasure, and dangerous for U.S. security,” Eland concludes. Read No War for Oil and learn why U.S. defense subsidies for foreign oil harm the interests of ordinary American consumers and taxpayers.

No War for Oil: U.S. Dependency and the Middle East, by Ivan Eland

Video: Ivan Eland on Obama Breaking War Powers Act (RT, 5/22/11)


3) Save Lives—Lift the Ban on the Organ Trade

Lawyers for renegade entrepreneur Levy Izah Rosenbaum argued last month in federal court that their client saved lives with his admitted trafficking of donor organs for medical transplants. They have a valid point. In the United States, as in almost every other country (Iran is an exception), buying and selling organs is illegal despite shortages of transplant organs that kill thousands each year. The deadly shortage is caused by bad laws and could be solved if the ban on the commercial trade of organs were lifted, according to Anthony Gregory, research editor at the Independent Institute.

“Many will protest that an organ market will lead to exploitation and unfair advantages for the rich and powerful,” Gregory writes in The Atlantic. “But these are characteristics of the current illicit organ trade.... Although not every black market transaction is exploitative—demonstrating that organ sales, in and of themselves, are not the problem—the most unsavory parts of the trade can be attributed to the fact that it is illegal.”

In 2008, about 5,000 patients died of kidney failure in the United States because the limited supply of donor organs could not accommodate the long waiting lists. Ending the ban on the sale of organs would not only encourage more people to make their body parts available, especially upon their death, but it would also help ensure that organ donors and recipients are treated with dignity. As Gregory writes, “Once again, humanitarianism is best served by the respect for civil liberty, and yet we are deprived of both, with horribly unfortunate consequences, just to maintain the pretense of state-enforced propriety.”

Why Legalizing Organ Sales Would Help to Save Lives, End Violence, by Anthony Gregory (The Atlantic, 11/8/11)

The Meat Market, by Alex Tabarrok (The Wall Street Journal, 1/8/10)

A Free Market in Kidneys: Efficient and Equitable, by William Barnett II, Michael Saliba, and Deborah Walker (The Independent Review, Winter 2001)


4) Is the World Really Safer without Gadhafi?

The demise of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi brings a sense of relief to many, but the rebellion and war that brought him down may have made the world a more dangerous place. For starters, it remains to be seen whether the regime that replaces Gadhafi’s dictatorial rule will end up supporting or opposing anti-Western militants. Another reason is that Libya’s stockpile of shoulder-launched missiles—an estimated 20,000 of them—has reportedly gone missing. There is precedent to justify concern. Since 1973, at least 920 civilian airline passengers worldwide have been killed by thirty or more attacks that employed this kind of weapon, according to Charles V. Peña, senior fellow at the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty. Thus the disappearance of Libya’s storehouse of the missiles—known as Man Portable Air Defense Systems or MANPADS—may have deadly consequences for the safety of air travel.

“Although the loss of life from a single MANPADS attack would be considerably less than the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (several hundred at most, rather than several thousand), the terror spread by such an attack could be just as profound,” Peña writes in an op-ed that ran last week in the Sacramento Bee and elsewhere. “The panic would ripple throughout the economy.”

The horrible irony is that Colonel Gadhafi grew in infamy partly because in 1988 his henchmen planted a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103, which claimed 270 lives when it detonated over Lockerbie, Scotland, including eleven victims on the ground who were killed by a massive fire caused by falling debris from the explosion. In 2002, the Libyan government agreed to pay compensation totaling $2.7 billion to the families of the victims, and in 2003 it agreed to scrap its weapons of mass destruction. That progress may have been for naught if the missing surface-to-air missiles end up in the hands of terrorists. Peña concludes: “Meanwhile, the lesson for us all: Be careful what you wish for.”

Gadhafi’s Exit May Increase Threat, by Charles V. Peña (The Sacramento Bee, 11/8/11)

Video: Charles V. Peña Responds to Obama’s Comments on Libya (Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, 3/28/11)


5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

Why I Voted ‘No’ to a Strike
Jonathan Bean (11/13/11)

More “Green” Energy Cronyism and Corporate Welfare
David Theroux (11/12/11)

Biodefense Cronyism and Corporate Welfare
David Theroux (11/12/11)

Armistice Day
Anthony Gregory (11/11/11)

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Happy Holidays from Washington
Stephanie Freedman (11/11/11)

Italy Getting the Boot
Craig Eyermann (11/9/11)

Generation Jobless
Stephanie Freedman (11/7/11)

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


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