The Power of Independent Thinking


Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 14, Issue 39: September 25, 2012

  1. Personalized Medicine vs. Obamacare
  2. U.S. Drops in Economic Freedom Ranking
  3. Anti-U.S. Violence in the Islamic World
  4. Promote Liberty by Reforming Higher Education?
  5. New Blog Posts

1) Personalized Medicine vs. Obamacare

A host of breakthroughs in biomedical technology unveils the amazing potential of personalized medicine: Jewelry that monitors blood glucose levels and scores of other biomarkers. Genetic tests that accurately determine which treatments work best for your situation. Drugs that deactivate the protein that has been feeding your cancer. It’s easy to get excited about these and other cutting-edge innovations. Yet White House health adviser Ezekiel Emanuel—a professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania who trained in oncology—says the enthusiasm for personalized medicine is overly optimistic and cost-prohibitive. In recent op-eds for Forbes, Independent Institute Research Fellow John C. Goodman tries to make sense of Emanuel’s negativity.

“[I]f individualized care is better and more promising care, how does Emanuel know it would be cost-prohibitive?” asks Goodman, author of Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. “Even more puzzling, given the spectacular results with eye cancer, why would anyone—especially an oncologist—react so hostilely?”

The answer, Goodman concludes, is simple. Emanuel’s stance has less to do with his medical knowledge than with his work on behalf of the Affordable Care Act, which emphasizes standardization. “ObamaCare’s entire approach to cost control is premised on the idea that we are all alike,” Goodman continues. “And if we aren’t alike, everything they are doing doesn’t make sense.”

Personalized Healthcare Choice vs. Government Mandated Obamacare, Part 1, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 9/18/12)

Can Personalized Healthcare Survive Obamacare’s Medicine Assembly Line?, by John Goodman (Forbes, 9/20/12)

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

Event: “Replacing Obamacare and Curing the Healthcare Crisis,” featuring John C. Goodman (Oakland, Calif, Thurs., 10/4/12)


2) U.S. Drops in Economic Freedom Ranking

A new study that ranks countries according to their level of economic freedom sheds light on why the U.S. economic recovery has been weak: It concludes that economic freedom in the United States has plunged over the past decade, moving it from 2nd place in international rankings to 18th place in 2010, the latest year for which data are available. If the rate of decline has not changed since then, the United States may now rank 40th in economic freedom--broadly defined as a mix of secure property rights, minimal bureaucratic red tape for capital formation and job creation, and other factors that affect wealth creation. A change in ranking this large has significant effects for output and job growth, according to Benjamin Powell, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute.

“A decrease in freedom of the magnitude the U.S. experienced is generally associated with a decrease in long-term economic growth of between 1 and 1.5 percentage points,” Powell writes in an op-ed for the Huffington Post. “This decrease will cut our historic average of roughly 3 percent growth in half.”

Powell notes that no one political party is responsible for the reduction: About two thirds of the decline in economic freedom occurred when President Bush was in office, and the pace of decline doubled during President Obama’s first two years. For the United States to regain its lead, the government will need to significantly reduce its role the economy. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be on the agenda of either presidential candidate,” Powell continues. “I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise since it was the big government branch of both political parties that decreased our freedoms over the past dozen years.”

U.S. Economic Freedom Plunges, by Benjamin Powell (Huffington Post, 9/19/12)

Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Economic Development, edited by Benjamin Powell


3) Anti-U.S. Violence in the Islamic World

The Internet video “Innocence of Muslims” was merely the spark that ignited the recent anti-American protests across the Islamic world. The underlying cause of the violence is prolonged anger over “U.S. and Western meddling in Islamic lands and culture,” Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty, writes in his latest op-ed. Eland warns that unless American leaders honestly confront the problem of blowback from foreign-policy interventions, the United States will become more involved in the Syrian civil war and thereby worsen the risk of more anti-American violence.

“Like the heavily armed and rival tribal militias now roaming Libya, Syria has many heavily armed opposition factions, which continue to commit atrocities against civilians and, according to U.S. intelligence, have been infiltrated, and are sometimes commanded, by al-Qaeda,” Eland continues. “To illustrate, a doctor recently back from a humanitarian mission in Syria was shocked at the number of radical Islamist fighters in the opposition forces battling the Assad regime.”

As in Syria, al-Qaeda has also recruited members in Libya, especially in the eastern part of the country. The deadly violence that erupted in Benghazi should therefore have come as no surprise, even though many Libyans have relatively favorable feelings toward America, Eland argues.

Anti-American Violence Should Provoke Rethink, by Ivan Eland (9/18/12)

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


4) Promote Liberty by Reforming Higher Education?

Liberty-minded philanthropists have managed to foster a vibrant network of scholars and organizations engaged in advancing the ideals of a free society. Some donors who have underwritten the liberty movement have also attempted to make colleges and universities across the United States more conducive to the spread of these ideals, but their efforts have been largely unsuccessful, as Lenore T. Ealy explains in “Investing in the Ideas of Liberty: Reflections on the Philanthropic Enterprise in Higher Education,” her cover article in the fall 2012 issue of The Independent Review.

The problem is both institutional and ideological. Federal laws from the Pendleton Act of 1883 to the Higher Education Act of 1965 have diminished the independence of colleges and universities, and made higher education a tool of statecraft. Administrators now worry primarily about accreditation, compliance, and fund-raising. Moreover, despite an increase of freedom-minded scholars, academia itself, Ealy writes, is “still largely dominated by progressive ideology (and worse).” This combination of interests, apathy, and ideology presents a formidable challenge for liberty-minded donors who wish to affect social change by reforming academia.

What’s a classical-liberal philanthropist to do? Ealy offers three complementary strategies to bypass the obstacles to spreading the ideals of freedom through colleges and universities. The first is to provide scholarships to deserving students—where “deserving” means those who meet the donors’ criteria. The second is to seek new and creative ways to introduce students to classical-liberal ideas directly, rather than indirectly by attempting to reform academia. The third is to foster opportunities for young minds to discuss and debate the ideals of a free society outside of the academy. Regardless of which strategy (or mix of strategies) they pursue, Ealy urges pro-liberty philanthropists to practice what they preach—including by respecting and modeling the principle of self-government and by participating at some level in the enterprise they would support.

Investing in the Ideas of Liberty: Reflections on the Philanthropic Enterprise in Higher Education, by Lenore T. Ealy (The Independent Review, Fall 2012)

The Independent Review (Fall 2012)

The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars for Students

Subscribe now. First-timers, subscribe now and receive two extra issues free!


5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

The Wretched Nationalization of School Lunch
Anthony Gregory (10/1/2012)

Waste, Waste Everywhere and Not a Dime to Spare
John C. Goodman (10/1/2012)

Obama’s 44th California Fundraiser
Mary Theroux (9/28/2012)

Obama Should Play Golf All Day, Every Day
Anthony Gregory (9/27/2012)

Beyond Regime Uncertainty: Corporate CFOs Predict Worsening Future
Mary Theroux (9/26/2012)

The Benefits of Ideal Health Insurance
John C. Goodman (9/26/2012)

Thanks, Uncle Sam, for GPS!
Randall Holcombe (9/26/2012)

The Bazooka That Doesn’t Kill
Alvaro Vargas Llosa (9/26/2012)

Shortchanging Special Needs Students—Another Poor Mark for Government Schooling
Vicki Alger (9/26/2012)

Obama Touts D.C. Public Schools as Offering the Kind of Education that Will Grow the Economy
Vicki Alger (9/26/2012)

Is Christine Lagarde a Higgsean?
Peter Klein (9/25/2012)

Obama is Stuck on the First Envelope
Mary Theroux (9/25/2012)

Promote Liberty by Reforming Higher Education?
Carl Close (9/25/2012)

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

Free Lunch
Burt Abrams (10/1/2012)

The Postman Always Defaults Twice
Lloyd Billingsley (10/1/2012)

Unintended Consequences
Craig Eyermann (9/29/2012)

Golden Fleece for Gold-Plated Flight
Lloyd Billingsley (9/28/2012)

Stuck in the Mud...
Craig Eyermann (9/27/2012)

EPChe: An Expensive, Oppressive Agency Gets a Symbol
Lloyd Billingsley (9/25/2012)

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website here and blog here.


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless