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Date:Tue, 12 Dec 2000 10:37:00 -0800 (PST)

Tue, 12 Dec 2000 18:49:21 -0600
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 18:49:21 -0600
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From: David Theroux <DJTheroux@independent.org<
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Subject: THE LIGHTHOUSE: December 12, 2000

"Enlightening Ideas for Public Policy..."
VOL. 2, ISSUE 48
December 12, 2000

Welcome to The Lighthouse, the e-mail newsletter of The Independent
Institute, the non-partisan, public policy research organization
<http://www.independent.org<;. We provide you with updates of the Institute's
current research publications, events and media programs.


1. Pentagon "Shocked" to Find Rivers Dammed with Pork
2. The Environmental Propaganda Agency
3. William Lloyd Garrison, Antislavery Crusader



Captain Louis Renault -- Claude Raines's cheerfully duplicitous character in
the 1942 film classic "Casablanca" -- asserted glibly that he was "shocked,
shocked" to learn that gambling was taking place at Rick's Cafe. Moments
later he was only too happy to collect his gambling earnings for the night.

All this is by way of preamble to a new Pentagon investigation of fraud in
military construction. The investigation concluded that three senior Army
Corps of Engineers officials had, just as one whistle-blowing Corps economist
had claimed, engaged in a deceitful campaign to justify what the Washington
Post called "a billion-dollar construction binge on the Mississippi and
Illinois rivers."

"The [Pentagon] investigators concluded that the agency's aggressive efforts
to expand its budget and missions, as well as its eagerness to please its
corporate customers and congressional patrons, have helped 'create an
atmosphere where objectivity in its analyses was placed in jeopardy,'" the
Post reports.

"Even the agency's retired chief economist told them that Corps studies were
often 'corrupt,' and that several Corps employees cited 'immense pressure' to
green-light questionable projects."

Bureaucratic boondoggles of such magnitude are certainly newsworthy. But they
are hardly news. Just as the Soviets derided the failures of previous Five
Year Plans (only to implement new, equally flawed versions), so it seems that
every few years the Pentagon uncovers massive corruption and waste in its own
centrally planned fiefdom -- only to present a new Plan that operates under
the same bad incentives that encouraged prior malfeasance.

With corruption and waste seemingly "taken care of," the worst pork-barrel
spenders in Congress and the military are then let off the hook, only to
enjoy -- like Casablanca's Renault and Rick -- an amicable toast to the
beginnings of a beautiful new friendship.

For the Washington Post series on the Army Corp of Engineers boondoggle, see

For a summary of the Independent Institute book, ARMS, POLITICS AND THE
ECONOMY: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Robert Higgs, see



Will the neck-to-neck presidential race help reduce -- or intensify --
pressure for the next president of the United States to score points with
statist environmental activists?

Except on a few controversial issues, a strong case can be made that the
forty-third President of the United States will wish to portray himself as a
close friend of "the environment." President George W. Bush, for example,
would face strong pressure to show that he is "bipartisan" in his approach to
environmental protection; whereas President Al Gore would likely attempt to
win back those who supported Nader and the Greens.

All the more reason, then, to call attention to the failures of the current
approach to environmental protection -- especially those emanating from the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or, as economist Craig Marxsen terms
it, the Environmental Propaganda Agency.

The EPA sometimes employs the language of cost-benefit analysis to illustrate
its seemingly tremendous success, but it is known to employ it in a highly
misleading manner. The EPA claimed, for example, that its Clean Air Act
programs produced, from 1970 to 1990, $22.2 trillion dollars in health
benefits at a cost of only $523 billion. But, reports Marxsen in THE
INDEPENDENT REVIEW, "[The EPA's] study actually represents a milestone in
bureaucratic propaganda. Like junk science in the courtroom, the study
seemingly attempts to obtain the largest possible benefit figure rather than
to come as close as possible to the truth."

In conclusion, writes Marxsen, "Without the illusory benefit of all the lives
saved, the actual benefits of the Clean Air Act were very modest and probably
could have been achieved nearly as well with far less sacrifice. The Clean
Air Act and its amendments force the EPA to mandate reduction of air
pollution to levels that would have no adverse health effects on even the
most sensitive person in the population. The EPA relentlessly presses forward
in its absurd quest, like a madman setting fire to his house in an insane
determination to eliminate the last of the insects infesting it."

For more information, see "The Environmental Propaganda Agency," by Craig S.
Marxsen (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2000), at

For analysis of other EPA programs, see the Independent Institute book,
CUTTING GREEN TAPE: Toxic Pollutants, Environmental Regulation and the Law,
edited by Richard Stroup and Roger Meiners, at

For Robert Formaini's insightful review of Kip Viscusi's important book,


WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, Antislavery Crusader

"I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this
subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation.... I
will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch
-- and I will be heard."
-- William Lloyd Garrison, THE LIBERATOR, January 1, 1831

December 12 marks the 195th anniversary of the birth of William Lloyd
Garrison, a leading figure in the American abolitionist movement. As the late
historian Henry Mayer explained in his National Book Award-Finalist
biography, ALL ON FIRE: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery:

"William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) is an authentic American hero who, with a
Biblical prophet's power and a propagandist's skill, forced the nation to
confront the most crucial moral issue in its history. For thirty-five years
he edited and published a weekly newspaper in Boston, THE LIBERATOR, which
remains today a sterling and unrivaled example of personal journalism in the
service of civic idealism.

"Although Garrison -- a self-made man with a scanty formal education --
considered himself 'a New England mechanic' and lived outside the precincts
of the American intelligentsia, he nonetheless did the hard intellectual work
of challenging orthodoxy, questioning public policy, and offering a luminous
vision of a society transformed. He inspired two generations of activists --
female and male, black and white -- and together they built a social movement
which, like the civil rights movement of our own day, was a collaboration of
ordinary people, stirred by injustice and committed to each other, who
achieved a social change that conventional wisdom first condemned as wrong
and then ridiculed as impossible."

Indeed, without Garrison's inflammatory but compelling writing, speaking and
organizing, there might have been no effective American anti-slavery movement
at all.

For more on William Lloyd Garrison, read historian Henry Mayer's talk from
the Independent Policy Forum, "The Civil War: Liberty and American Leviathan"
(with Jeffrey Rogers Hummel), at
http://www.independent.org/tii/lighthouse/LHLink2-48-6.html, or hear it in
RealAudio at http://www.independent.org/tii/lighthouse/LHLink2-48-7.html.

Also see Jeffrey Rogers Hummel's review of Henry Mayer's brilliant biography,
ALL ON FIRE: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery (THE


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