Volume 6, Issue 40: October 4, 2004
New Book Challenges Global U.S. Military Presence
Wage Gap Reflects Women's Priorities, McElroy Argues
Vaccine Shortages Still a Threat
Independent Institute on the Airwaves
Most Americans don't think of their government as an empire, but with more than 700 military bases worldwide, the United States holds sway over an area that dwarfs the great empires of world history. And this empire comes at a great cost to the American people, according to Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty.
In his timely new book THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, Eland argues that U.S. military interventionism harms the interests of Americans politically, economically, and militarily. His thesis -- that the United States and probably the world would be more free, secure and prosperous if the U.S. government reduced its military involvement overseas, much as the nation's founders had urged -- is certain to garner intense interest from those who recognize the need for a thoroughgoing examination of U.S. foreign policy and national security policy.
Eland shows that the concept of empire is wholly contrary to the principles of both liberals and conservatives and that it makes a mockery of the Founding Fathers' vision for a free republic. Small government conservatives who favor military adventurism, he argues, should check their history and rethink their assumptions. Increases in nondefense spending have been lower during administrations in which warfare was sporadic or nonexistent (Carter, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton) than during the three administrations in which major long-term wars were being fought. Like prior wars, Bush II's War on Terror has led to increases in both defense spending and nondefense spending (which has increased more during the wartime presidency of George W. Bush than during any comparable period since the wartime administration of Lyndon Johnson).
Liberals in favor of a global U.S. empire to engage in nation-building, or sundry "humanitarian" ends, should also take a close look at history, Eland argues. The abysmal track record of attempts to bring democracy and free markets to countries coercively shows that such interventions usually fail to restructure fractured and violent societies. In the long term, violations of nations' sovereignties -- even for humanitarian ends -- undermine international norms against cross-border aggression and encourage separatist groups to revolt. Over time, therefore, more people are likely to be killed than saved by U.S. interventions into failed states.
Eland also warns that in recent years, blowback and the enormous expansion of domestic federal power resulting from this overextended empire have begun to threaten the American homeland itself and curtail the very liberties these interventions were supposed to protect.
Americans have ignored the economic, political and security costs of the burgeoning empire at great peril. As Eland writes in the book's introduction, The fuzzy criteria that the U.S. government uses to determine whether American forces should intervene indicate that the American foreign policy is askew. Unlike the empires of old, which limited their military interventions to certain parts of the world, the United States is trying to police the entire globe. This book offers an alternative vision of a more restrained U.S. foreign policy that is more focused, more achievable, less costly, and a lot less dangerous.
For a detailed summary of THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, see http://www.independent.org/publications/books/book_summary.asp?bookID=54
To purchase a copy, see
Ivan Eland on Tour:
October 7, 6pm (Eastern Time), Barnes and Noble (396 Avenue of the Americas), New York City
Center on Peace & Liberty
A recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau states that women with full-time jobs on average earn 75.5 cents for every dollar similarly earned by men (a decline of about six-tenths of one percent from 2002). A 2003 study by the General Accounting Office concluded that a difference in male-female work patterns was a key reason for gender wage gaps in the United States. However, Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy considers additional issues seldom raised.
"What about comparable full-time jobs?" McElroy asks in a new op-ed. "What could account for a wage gap there?"
McElroy offers two possible explanations. "First, the definition of full-time employment: Most surveys define it as 35-plus or 40 hours a week," McElroy writes. "But a tremendous difference exists between an employee who clocks 40 hours and one who works 60. For the same reasons women would seek flexible hours, they also are likely to work fewer hours in a full-time job. Raises, bonuses, and promotions more naturally flow toward employees who work longer hours. Indeed, when you factor out variables like having children, the wage gap virtually disappears."
McElroy also describes another possible source for gender differences in earnings: "Surveys do not usually account for factors such as 'shift premiums,'" she writes. "That is, shifts that are dangerous or otherwise undesirable are more highly paid and more likely to be filled by men. Working the day shift as a cab driver is not really equal to working the more dangerous night shift, but it is usually treated that way by surveys. The resulting disparity in wages has nothing to do with discrimination against women. It reflects the preferences of women themselves."
If the above is true, then the wage gap is not a problem to be solved, McElroy argues. "It is merely an interesting statistic indicating that men and women, when offered a level playing field will tend to express different priorities and, so, end up at different places. (This is a crude generalization, of course, and says nothing of individual men and individual women.)"
See "Wage Gap Reflects Women's Priorities," by Wendy McElroy (9/22/04)
For a detailed summary of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century, ed. by Wendy McElroy, see http://www.independent.org/publications/books/book_summary.asp?bookID=43.
To purchase a copy of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN, see http://www.independent.org/store/book.asp?id=43
Two years after the United States suffered a severe childhood vaccine shortage -- all but one state in the country imposed rationing for childhood vaccines -- the country is still vulnerable to a vaccine shortage.
The reason is that the vaccine shortages of 2000 to 2003 were the result of bad policies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according Arthur Foulkes, who detailed the causes of the shortage in his INDEPENDENT REVIEW article "Weakened Immunity: How the Food and Drug Administration Caused Recent Vaccine-Supply Problems."
"With so few companies producing vaccines, the United States is highly susceptible to sudden vaccine shortages and equally sudden price spikes," write Foulkes and Independent Institute intern Nick Heidorn in a new op-ed. "Instead of encouraging new companies to enter the vaccine market, the FDA's expensive and time consuming approval process -- as well as its cumbersome manufacturing regulations -- discourages new companies from making vaccines and may even further decrease the total number of vaccine producers."
Foulkes and Heidorn argue that sudden FDA policies forced some pharmaceutical companies to decreased production of DTaP -- given primarily to babies to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough -- and forced one manufacturer to stop production of DTaP entirely.
Conclude Foulkes and Heidorn: "Barely one hundred years ago, more than one in ten American infants died from vaccine-preventable diseases. Since the introduction of vaccines, the incidence of these diseases has dropped by 99 percent. Under present law, the FDA is responsible for ensuring that these vaccines are effective and safe, but the FDA has an equal responsibility to ensure that it does not hinder the market's ability to deliver enough vaccines to protect every American child in need. Unfortunately, there is no inoculation from the ill effects of a government agency unwilling to live by the Hippocratic oath."
See "The FDA Must Not Create Another Vaccine Shortage," by Arthur Foulkes and Nicholas Heidorn (10/4/04)
Also see, "Weakened Immunity: How the Food and Drug Administration Caused Recent Vaccine-Supply Problems," by Arthur E. Foulkes (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2004) http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=38&articleID=213
For a through critique of the Food and Drug Administration, see http://www.FDAReview.org.
To purchase AMERICAN HEALTH CARE: Government, Market Processes and the Public Interest, edited by Roger D. Feldman, see http://www.independent.org/store/book.asp?id=33