On the Blog

Six Energy Policy Changes to Watch for in a Republican-Controlled Congress

Somewhat Reasonable - November 17, 2014, 12:05 PM

Under a Republican-controlled Congress we can expect changes in Washington, DC—with energy front and center.

The past six years have seen taxpayer dollars poured into green-energy projects that have embarrassed the administration and promoted teppan-style renewables that chop-up and fry unsuspecting birds midflight and hurt the economy. Meanwhile, Republicans have touted the job creation and economic impact available through America’s abundant fossil-fuel resources.

Voters made their preference clear: Republicans won more seats, and with bigger majorities, than anyone predicted.

Big changes in energy policy are in the works because a wealthy country is better able to do things right. A growing economy needs energy that is efficient, effective and economical—which is why countries like China and India will not limit energy availability and why Republicans want to expand access in the U.S.

What energy policies should we watch?

  • Keystone pipeline

Post-election, the Keystone pipeline has suddenly leapt to the front of the lame-duck-legislation line with a vote finally scheduled. Months ago, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and John Hoeven (R-ND), along with 54 others (including 11 Democrats), reintroduced legislation to authorize building the Keystone pipeline—but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has blocked the popular bill by repeatedly denying requests to take up the legislation. The House has already approved eight previous Keystone bills and quickly passed an identical bill sponsored by Landrieu’s election opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

The question remains whether the White House will approve the bill, though spokesman Josh Earnest hinted at an Obama veto. A veto would further anger his union supporters. With many Democrats already on board and a push for more support from union leadership, the new Congress may be able to pass it again—this time with a veto-proof majority.

  • Federal lands

President Obama likes to brag about the increased U.S. production of oil and gas. In his post-election press conference he stated: “Our dependence on foreign oil is down.” While the statement is true, it falsely implies that he had something to do with that fact.

Reality is, as a Congressional Research Service report makes clear, while oil production has increased 61 percent on state and private lands, it has decreased 6 percent on federal land where the administration has authority. Additionally, the report points out, applications to drill on federal lands take nearly twice as long to process under the Obama administration than they did previously.

One prediction has drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge becoming a part of the Republican Party’s vision of energy independence—something Alaska’s senior Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has argued for.

  • Oil exports

Before the new Congress is sworn in, we already hear a lot of talk about lifting the ban on oil exports that was put into place in response to the 1970s Arab oil embargo.

With the Republicans now in charge come January, Murkowski will become the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She is expected to start by “holding hearings, pressuring Obama administration officials, and testing the level of support from party leadership” for lifting the export ban.

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) has widespread opposition within the Republican Party. Even coal-state Democrats, such as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), have concerns with the CPP.

The CPP, plus the many other regulations—such as those coming on ozone and methane—have many lawmakers concerned about the EPA’s impact on grid reliability and the economy. President Obama is not likely to sign any legislation designed to rein in his personal priorities, but Republicans can make changes in EPA appropriations.

  • The Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The ESA direly needs revision, updating or outright repeal as has more recently been used as a funding tool for environmental groups and a way for them to block economic activity, such as oil-and-gas extraction, and ranching, farming, and mining.

Earlier this year, a group of 13 GOP lawmakers released a report, which called for an ESA overhaul. While repeal is unlikely, this may be the time to introduce legislation that would reform the ESA to curtail litigation from wildlife advocates and give states more authority—two ideas that were brought forth in the report.

  • Climate Change

The biggest change will come on the climate change agenda. While Obama will not back down, committees have significant influence, as previously mentioned, through the appropriation process. Also, expect oversight on Obama administration policies.

The Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Chairmanship will change from one of the biggest supporters of Obama’s climate change agenda (Senator Barbara Boxer [D-CA]) to the biggest opponent of his policies (Senator Jim Inhofe [R-OK]). On election night, Inhofe stated: “I am looking forward to taking back the environment committee”—a role that, according to Environment & Energy Publishing: “Already has greens cringing.”

This reversal of attitude in climate change policies is already evident in the response to the president’s newly announced pact with China to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and his promised $3 billion contribution to a U.N. climate fund designed to help poor counties deal with potential impacts of climate change.

Reports now declare: “Climate change compromises may be easier with China than Congress.”

It is going to be an interesting two years. If the Republican policies turn the economy around as predicted—offering a sharp contrast to the stagnation of the past six years, they will pave the way for victory in 2016.

(A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com)

Categories: On the Blog

Stop That Fracking Pipeline!

Somewhat Reasonable - November 17, 2014, 10:20 AM

My small farm is nearly in the path of a new pipeline that will carry huge tonnages of shale gas from West Virginia to the Mid-Atlantic states. My neighbors mostly hate the idea. Many farms have hostile signs saying “No Pipeline!” or “Save the County!”

All this fuss over one buried gas transmission line, a minor addition to the 200,000 miles of such pipelines already transporting natural gas in the United States. The county has electric power lines that are more visually obtrusive and carry more soil erosion risk. We apparently accept those intrusions because we all plug into the wall sockets. The shale gas pipeline, however, will initially carry most of its gas to the cities of coastal Virginia and North Carolina, so it is resented here. Big mistake.

One neighbor has a different banner. It reads, “Protect Our Future: Put the Pipe on My Land.”

Three years ago, I arranged a program about shale gas for my local Rotary Club. My guest speaker told of the huge benefits — jobs and wages — accruing in Pennsylvania as the Marcellus Shale is developed there. West Virginia, too, has Marcellus Shale. He noted back then that a pipeline from West Virginia had to be in our future — to get the gas out of the steep hills and into population centers near the coast. It would create even more economic growth and far more jobs, he noted.

As an economist, I read about billions of European Union (EU) investment dollars coming to expand the chemical, metal, and auto industries in the United States. That’s not surprising, since U.S. natural gas costs only one-third as much as the Russian gas now being imported into Europe. In addition, there is the now very real threat of Vladimir Putin cutting off EU gas exports to support his reforming of the old Soviet Union. The EU does not want to drill its own shale gas deposits, and in failing to do so, it suffers slower economic growth, heavier welfare payments, and the frightening scenario of watching its neighbors get sucked back into Russian control.

Americans benefit from cheaper energy that emits only half the CO2 of coal or oil. Plus, it creates many thousands of jobs to support American families in a time when unemployment and welfare costs are rising faster than we can support.

Fortunately, the right of way, after construction is completed, will be only 75 feet wide, just like a power line without the towers. During construction, there will be a 400 foot right-of-way. Our local landowners will lose the opportunity to subdivide a narrow strip of their land — but our market and our land laws do not support many new subdivisions in any case. For land that will lose the right to be subdivided, the pipeline payments will necessarily be larger — and immediate. True, some trees will be cut on private land, many against the wishes of the owners, but the alternative is to see communities such as Staunton, Virginia lose their vibrancy in the years ahead.

The fear of a threat to water quality is a talking point, and there are many private wells in this area. A “deep” water well may go down 600 feet. The shale gas wells are typically several thousand feet deeper. The only possible “threat” is right among the gas fields. A well casing not properly done can leak — but state inspectors already check for that.

Opponents also make dire warnings of pipeline explosions. Our new pipelines, however, are all built with PIG (pipeline inspection gauges) that check for cracks, debris, and metal loss from the inside. With the PIGs in place, I am in far more danger of a lightning strike than a gas pipeline explosion — even if the pipe is on my property. In contrast, coalmining deaths still kill about 100,000 people annually worldwide.

Two types of opponents ardently reject shale gas development. First are the NIMBYs. “Not in My Backyard” is a particularly unlovely reason to oppose roads, utilities, energy projects, and other vital infrastructure.

The Green opponents are even less lovely. They seem to dislike humans in general, and they certainly hate modern technology and energy even though they rely heavily on them. If shale gas is bad, why don’t they support expanded nuclear power, which emits no CO2 at all? So far, Green activists have been impossible to please.

The public has been willing to embrace rather insignificant practices, like recycling, that don’t get us closer to the “Green dream.” Fortunately, we have also been unwilling to renounce the modern world’s safety, energy security, and hope for the poor.

[Originally published at American Thinker]

Categories: On the Blog

A Suicidal Collapse of Western Civilization?

Somewhat Reasonable - November 17, 2014, 10:05 AM

My background is basically European — and more specifically, Western European.  I have lived and worked in many of those countries, and I know most of the major cities intimately — from Stockholm in the north, Newcastle, London, Paris, The Hague, Munich, Vienna, to Rome and Erice, Sicily in the south.  I have also spent several months in Moscow and in Jerusalem as a guest of academic institutions.

Economic Suicide

The ongoing economic suicide of Europe is based on a faulty understanding of the climate issue by most Western politicians and on their extreme policy response, based on emotion rather than logic and science.  The major European economies have reacted irrationally to contrived, unjustified fear of imagined global-warming disasters

Perhaps I should explain that the climate has not been warming for the past 18 years — and even if it had been warming, it would be no disaster.  The EU wants to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, a natural plant-fertilizer, by 40% within 15 years — by 2030.  This insane drive to replace energy sources from fossil fuels that release plant-friendly CO2 into the atmosphere has led to greatly increased costs of energy.  As is well understood, such actions not only hurt economic growth, but they increase poverty levels and therefore threaten the social fabric of these nations.

There are some exceptions. of course: France and Belgium rely heavily on nuclear energy; Austria and Norway rely heavily on hydro.  Poland has actively resisted the general trend to demonize CO2, but the UK and Germany, which has been the power-house of European economic growth, are severely threatened by their insistence on installing wind and solar energy.  The latter is especially inappropriate to the Continent and to Great Britain.

The pity of it all is that these economic sacrifices in Western Europe will hardly affect the level of atmospheric CO2 — which is controlled globally by huge emissions from China — and soon also from India.

Unfortunately, during the past few years, and even during the White House administration of George W. Bush, the United States has tended to move in the same direction — and energy costs have gone up markedly.

The regulatory burdens created by the EPA’s “War on Coal,” by holding up permits for pipelines and for exploration-production of fuels on Federal lands, etc, are imposing real costs on US households, which are the equivalent of a large energy tax — except that none of these increased costs flow into the US Treasury.

Cultural, plus even more dangerous Demographic Suicide,

But it is cultural suicide, which adds to economic suicide and spells doom for the future of Western Europe.  I have in mind here the heavy immigration from Islamic nations — with most immigrants unwilling to adjust to the prevailing culture of the host country.

Examples are rampant.  In Great Britain, the dangerous immigration has come mostly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, Islamic successors to the British rule over India; Hindu immigrants present no special problem.  In Southern Europe, the Low Countries, and most of Scandinavia, much of the immigration has been from Somalia and North Africa.  France has experienced massive immigration from North Africa and other African French-speaking former colonies.

In many of these nations now, these immigrant communities have formed enclaves that the native inhabitants can no longer enter safely; even the police have great difficulty controlling law and order in these enclaves.  Examples exist in cities like Birmingham, Amsterdam, Malmo (Sweden), Paris and Marseille.  Germany seems slightly better off, with immigrants from Turkey making some effort to become good Germans.  Of course, the aim of many in these enclaves is to take over the host country — using available democratic means — and institute Sharia (Islamic law).

It is clear that these immigrants are taking advantage of the democratic nature of the host nations and their willingness to grant asylum status and lavish economic subsidies to any who declare themselves as refugees.  A prime example is Sweden, where multi-culturalism runs wild and is supported by the government-subsidized and beholden media.  So far, no real revolt yet — except for some grumbling from the indigenous population (whom the compliant media denounce as “racists.”)

Least affected have been the Slavic nations, which were formerly under Soviet domination.  Perhaps because of their delayed economic development, they have not been as attractive a destination for immigrants.  Ironically, these East-Europeans may yet save Western civilization.

The United States faces a rather special situation.  There is much immigration, mostly illegal, from south of the border. But these Latino immigrants are not Islamic; they share similar cultural values with native-born Americans — and most are making an effort to adapt to the prevailing culture.  The main danger is one of national security.  With porous borders, potential terrorists can easily slip into the United States and create mayhem.

A peculiar problem exists in Israel, which has experienced illegal Islamic (!) immigration, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea.  We are told that some southern suburbs of Tel Aviv now resemble a Third-World nation.  Efforts are underway to deport these illegal immigrants; but standing in the way is Israel’s Supreme Court, a group of unelected liberal lawyers, who personally oppose the Parliament-passed law of deportation — certainly an anomalous situation by US standards.

Russia has experienced problems of its own, mainly from Islamic provinces in the Caucasus.  The suppression of the Chechen revolt has caused a violent reaction, leading to major terror acts, even in Moscow.

Exacerbating the Islamic “conquest“ of Western Europe is the fact that the indigenous people — from Swedes to Spaniards  — are not reproducing themselves.  Whatever the cause may be, the number of children per family is well below the replacement level of 2.11; in some countries it is as low as 1.30.  The statistics are frightening — as seen in records of births, welfare rolls, and school attendance.  By mid-century, parts of Europe will have a Moslem majority — and even before then it will be too late to rectify the situation.

What of the future? 

With ongoing internal battles within Islamic groups, it is not easy to predict the future.  In Syria, some 200,000 have been killed and millions have been turned into refugees.  The rise of the “Islamic State” in the last few months promises a brutal suppression of any who hold even a slightly different Islamic view.  Their announced goal is to set up a theocratic Caliphate in any lands that have ever been under Islamic rule — including most of the Balkans, Andalus-Spain, and of course Israel.

At the battle of Tours in 732, Charles Martell stopped the advance into France of Moslem armies from the Iberian peninsula.  In 1571, in the great naval battle of Lepanto, off Greece, a Spanish-Italian fleet defeated the Turks.  In their farthest advance into Central Europe, a Turkish army besieged Vienna in 1683.  Christian forces, under the command of King John Sobieski of Poland, defeated the invaders decisively and saved Western civilization.

Americans have twice saved Europe in the 20th century and may soon be forced to defend Europe again against a new threat.  The first assault on Western European civilization came from Nazi Germany and its allies; it took a bloody World-War-II (1939-1945) to defeat them.  Certainly, without US intervention, Western Europe, and even Britain, might now be part of a German-ruled dictatorship, a sort of involuntary European Union.  It is doubtful also whether the Soviet Union could have withstood Hitler’s onslaught without the active material assistance of the United States.

The second threat to Europe came from the post-1945 Soviet Union; it was dominated by the specter of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.  The “Warsaw Pact” encompassed even a large part of Germany.  This “Cold-War” threat was neutralized thanks to the steadfastness of the United States — but also by the internal economic problems brought about by the planned economy of the Soviet empire.

The new threat of course is Islamo-Fascism and its aim to introduce Sharia — in at least those parts of Europe that had been Muslim lands in the past, but aiming really at all of Europe — and eventually the rest of the world.  This new threat uses a method of warfare that is different from the past and more insidious.  Terrorism has come into its own, partly based on large Islamic populations in Western Europe.

Coupled with this external threat is the internal one from Islamic fanatics, many of them born in Europe — and even from converts.  We have seen this happen in Spain, and more recently in Britain.  Their methods have been crude and their weapons have been primitive; but with nuclear proliferation and with the possibility of chemical and biological warfare, these threats have to be taken very seriously.

Fighting these threats takes resources for surveillance, intelligence, sundry military expenditures, and weapons, both offensive and defensive.  Resilience requires above all a strong economy.  And one cannot have a strong economy without adequate energy resources – which gets us back to the issue of climate fears.

The problem now is that while the threat of terrorism is growing, so is the suicidal drive to limit the use of energy and thereby also economic growth.  This internal threat is particularly strong in Europe and has been called, quite properly, eco-Bolshevism.  It would have all the earmarks of the failed Soviet system, with government involvement in every facet of the economy and with energy restrictions reducing economic growth.

There is no question that the policies being discussed now in Europe and in the United States would be extremely costly, would force industrial cutbacks and of course massive job losses.  All of these exacerbate social tension in nations that have a large number of immigrants, who traditionally have the highest unemployment levels.

Will the US step up again and save Europe?  Doubtful

One may ask: Is there any way to stop this steamroller?  There’s probably little hope that such an initiative can come from Europe; it may have to come from the United States.  Somehow we would have to convince European leaders that their policies, based on global-warming fears, are mistaken.  That job may prove to be very difficult — unless there is a drastic change in current US policy.  But it is something that has to be done if we want Europe to survive economically, as an ally against the threat of Islamo-Fascism.

I don’t believe that the US is prepared to save Europe; just listen to our Secretary of State:  Speaking in Boston on Oct 9,  John Kerry pronounced that climate change, if left unaddressed, will result in the end of times: “Life as you know it on Earth ends,” Kerry said.  Last February, Kerry claimed that climate change was the world’s “most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”  Not nuclear bombs in the hands of the terrorist-sponsoring regime of Iran — or in the hands of ISIS or al Qaeda; not Ebola or some fearsome epidemic of a lethal disease.  According to Kerry, climate change is the real number-one national-security threat.

US media, academia, and other opinion-makers are chiming in.  In her latest work of science-fiction, Harvard’s Naomi Oreskes, co-author of the mendacious Merchants of Doubt, imagines a future world devastated by climate change.  She generously gives the West another 80 years — well beyond her own life span, of course.  But she totally ignores the dangers of rising Islamo-Fascism and of demography.  Just listen:

The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and — finally — the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People’s Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment — the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies — failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization. 

So don’t look to the US to come to the rescue of a doomed Western Europe.  It is unlikely that our children or grandchildren will be fortunate enough to experience the charms of great cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome – or what’s left of them.

[Originally published at American Thinker]

Categories: On the Blog

The Berlin Wall and The Spirit of Freedom

Somewhat Reasonable - November 17, 2014, 9:36 AM

This November marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. On November 9, 1989, as the shaky East German communist government resigned, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Large crowds formed on both sides of the Wall. East and West Berliners climbed on top, and then people began using sledgehammers and pickaxes to cut holes in it. People started to move back and forth through the Wall, capturing the spirit of a freedom to move without political barriers standing in the way.

It is worth recalling how and why the Berlin Wall was constructed in the first place, and what it meant in the great struggle between freedom and tyranny in the stream of 20th century political events.

Sealing People Behind a Wall of Tyranny

On August 10, 1961, Nikita S. Khrushchev, the premier of the Soviet Union, attended a birthday party in Moscow for Sergei S. Verentsov, the Soviet marshal in charge of the missile program of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Khrushchev informed the celebrating assembly of leading Soviet military and political dignitaries that something momentous was about to occur.

“We are going to close Berlin,” Khrushchev announced. “We’ll just put up serpentine barbed wire and the West will stand there like dumb sheep. And while they’re standing there, we’ll finish a wall.” The crowd broke into an enthusiastic applause.

The city of Berlin had been divided into four Allied occupation zones at the end of the Second World War in Europe. The eastern half of the city was the Soviet zone. The western half was divided into American, British, and French zones, surrounded by the Soviet zone of occupation in eastern Germany. The closest British or American zone of occupation in western Germany was 110 miles to the west. The Soviets had established a “people’s republic” in their zone — the German Democratic Republic, with East Berlin as its capital.

Between the late 1940s and 1961, more than 4 million East Germans and East Berliners took advantage of the relative ease of crossing from the Soviet zone in Berlin to one of the Western zones to “vote with their feet” not to live in the “workers’ paradise” that Moscow had been generous enough to impose upon them. This mass exodus was a huge embarrassment to both the Soviet and the East German governments. It also represented a huge loss in skilled labor and in many of the professional occupations.

The Soviets had been almost completely successful in keeping the secret that West Berlin was to be sealed. On Saturday, August 12, 1961, 1,573 East Germans crossed the line separating East and West Berlin and registered as refugees desiring to live in the West. They were the last group to be allowed to freely depart. The Soviets stretched barbed wire across the Brandenburg Gate facing the Western zones in the center of the city. And at 2:30 on the morning of August 13, the border between East and West Berlin was closed.

“Successes” and “Failures” of the Wall

Two days later, on August 15, work began on the Berlin Wall; it was made of brick and concrete and took two years to complete. When finished it was 28 miles long and 9 feet high, with barbed wire at the top. East German guards armed with machine guns fired upon any who attempted to cross it. There was also a 200-yard area leading up to the Wall covered with land mines and patrolled by police dogs.

In spite of this, during the 28 years of the Wall’s existence, between 1961 and 1989, an estimated 5,000 people managed to escape either over, under, or through the Wall. Some escaped through the sewer system under the Wall. Others dug tunnels — the longest one was 500 feet long through which 57 people made their getaway to West Berlin in 1964.

One woman sewed Soviet military uniforms for three male friends, who drove through one of the Wall’s border checkpoints with her crammed under the front seat. An archer used an arrow to shoot a cable over the Wall from a building in East Berlin and slid along it to freedom.

Some constructed hot-air balloons and crude flying machines using bicycle motors to power their flight over the Wall. Others swam across canals or rivers that separated parts of East and West Berlin.

Smugglers for Freedom

There also emerged a smuggling business that ran ads in West German newspapers. One such company, Aramco, with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, gave out press releases referring to their “most modern technical methods.” The company’s prices were not that unreasonable: $10,000 to $12,000 per person, with “quantity discounts” for families, payable into a numbered account in a Swiss bank. If an escape attempt failed, the company refunded most of the money to the person financially sponsoring the breakout.

The East German government issued “wanted” posters on the East Berlin side of Checkpoint Charlie, offering 500,000 German marks for the director of Aramco, Hans Ulrich Lenzlinger. The “wanted” posters negatively referred to him as a “trader in people.” In February 1979, someone collected the bounty on Lenzlinger’s head, after he was shot repeatedly in the chest and killed at his home in Zurich.

He was not the only victim of escape attempts. During those 28 years of the Wall’s existence, 80 people lost their lives trying to get to the western side of the Wall. More than 100 others lost their lives trying to escape along other points of the highly fortified East German border.

One of the most inhuman border killings happened in August 1962. Peter Fechter, an 18-year-old bricklayer, was shot while attempting to climb over the Wall. For 50 minutes he begged for help as he slowly bled to death from his wounds in sight of soldiers and journalists watching from one of the western border checkpoints. Only after he died did the East German guards retrieve his body.

The Berlin Wall came to symbolize the Cold War and its division of the world into halves, one half still relatively free and the other half under the most brutal and comprehensive tyranny ever experienced by man in modern history. Nothing was supposed to cross the Iron Curtain of barbed-wire fences, land-mined farm fields, and machine-gun watchtowers that cut across central Europe from the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea, without the permission of the Soviet masters in Moscow.

The Wall vs. the Right to Move

What the Berlin Wall epitomized was the 20th century idea of the individual as the property of the state. Behind that Wall the East German government told the people where to live and work, what goods they could consume, and what enjoyments and entertainments they would be permitted. The state determined what they read and watched and said. They could not leave the country — either for a visit or forever — unless it served the goals and interests of their political masters. If anyone attempted to leave without permission, he could be shot and left to die, alone and helpless, with others forced to stand by as horrified observers.

In the 19th century, the great triumph of classical liberalism had been the abolition of the last of the ancient restrictions on the right of the individual to his life, liberty, and honestly acquired property. This had included the right of people to freely travel without undo government interference or control.

In earlier times not only the physical difficulties of transportation prevented men from widely moving from one region or continent to another. Matching these physical barriers were the legal barriers of taxes, tolls, passports, and serfdom, which bound the vast majority of people to the land owned by the privileged and titled political castes.

Classical liberals and classical economists of the early 19th century argued for the removal of such restraints on people’s freedom. The guiding principle was that a man has a property right in himself, that he owns himself. As the classical economist John R. McCulloch expressed it in the 1820s:

“Of all the species of property which a man can possess, the faculties of his mind and the powers of his body are the most particularly his own; and these he should be permitted to enjoy, that is, to use and exert, at his discretion . . . in any way, not injurious to others, [as] he considers most beneficial for himself.”

A logical extension of the right of self-ownership over one’s mind and body and its use to further his personal and peaceful purposes was the right to move to where he believed he could best improve his circumstances. As the 19th century progressed the various restrictions on the freedom to move were removed. Passports were virtually eliminated throughout the major countries of Europe and North America, and legal barriers to both emigration and immigration were almost completely abolished in these same nations.

Tens of millions of people, on their own personal account and with private funding, left their places of birth in pursuit of better lives and fortunes in countries and on continents of their own choice. Free trade in people matched the increasingly free trade in goods and capital. About 60 million people took advantage of the greater freedom of movement between 1840 and 1914 before the First World War began, with more than half of that 60 million coming to the United States to start a new life in a society of liberty.

Barriers to Freedom

But with the coming of World War I, governments reinstituted passport and other restrictions on the freedom of movement. With the rise of the totalitarian ideologies in the years following the end of the First World War, the freedom to move was abolished. Communism, fascism, and Nazism all worked from the premise that the individual was subordinate to and lived and worked only for the advancement of the interests of the state. As an “object” owned by government, the individual stayed put or was forcibly removed to some other location under the brutal orders of the political authority.

Even outside the totalitarian systems of the 20th century, barriers to migration have been logical extensions of the emergence and growth of the interventionist-welfare state. When the government influences the direction of production, has responsibility for both the amount and types of employment in the society, and is the paternalistic administrator of a redistribution of wealth and income for retirement, health care, unemployment, housing, and education, it is inevitable that the same government will be concerned about and responsible for the amount, types, and demographics of any individuals or groups desiring to move into a country under that government’s jurisdiction.

The growth and development of the regulated economy, in other words, has provided the rationale for barriers to free migration. They stand as legal and political walls far higher that the Berlin Wall in preventing people from passing freely and unmolested from one part of the world to another. The passport that each and every one of us is forced to apply for and carry on our person whenever traveling outside the territorial jurisdiction of our own country, and which we must present upon our attempt to return to our own land, clearly shows that we are all in fact subjects under — not citizens above — the political authorities controlling our lives.

The German free market economist, Wilhelm Röpke, once pointed out that,

“Modern nationalism and collectivism have, by the restriction of migration, perhaps come nearest to the ‘servile state’ . . . Man can hardly be reduced more to a mere wheel in the clockwork of the national collectivist state than being deprived of the freedom to move . . . Feeling that he belongs now to his nation, body and soul, we will be more easily subdued to the obedient state serf which nationalist and collectivist governments demand.”

It has become a cliché that the world, every day, becomes a little smaller. Methods of global transportation improve the quality of travel and reduce the time between any two distances around the world. Computer technology — the Internet and email — have made virtually everything written, said, or photographed a simple and almost instantaneous mouse click away. The expanding worldwide network of business, trade, and capital markets is increasingly making the globe a single market for commerce and culture.

On this 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we should remember all that it represented as a symbol of tyranny under which the individual was marked with the label: property of the state. He not only was controlled in everything he did and publically said, but his every movement was watched, commanded or restricted.

Freedom in all its forms – to speak, write, associate, and worship as we want; to pursue any occupation, profession, or private enterprise that inclination and opportunity suggests to us; and to visit, live, and work where our dreams and desires lead us to look for a better life – are precious things.

The history of the Berlin Wall and the collectivist ideology behind it should remind us of how important a loss of any of our freedom can be as we determine in what direction – toward greater individual freedom and free enterprise or more government command and control – we wish our country to move in the 21st century.

[Originally published at Epic Times]


Categories: On the Blog

EPA’s Next Regulatory Tsunami

Somewhat Reasonable - November 17, 2014, 8:22 AM

Looming Environmental Protection Agency ozone regulations personify the Obama administration’s secrecy, collusion, fraud, and disdain for concerns about the effects that its tsunami of regulations is having on the livelihoods, living standards, health and welfare of millions of American families. Virtually every EPA announcement of new regulations asserts that they will improve human health. Draconian carbon dioxide standards, for example, won’t just prevent climate change, even if rapidly developing countries continue emitting vast volumes of this plant-fertilizing gas. The rules will somehow reduce the spread of ticks and Lyme disease, and protect “our most vulnerable citizens.” It’s hogwash. But Americans naturally worry about pollution harming children and the poor. That makes it easy for EPA to promulgate regulations based on false assumptions and linkages, black-box computer models, secretive collusion with activist groups, outright deception, and supposedly “scientific” reports whose shady data and methodologies the agency refuses to share with industries, citizens or even Congress. It was only in May 2012 that EPA decided which US counties met new 2008 ozone standards that cut allowable ground-level ozone levels from 80 parts per billion to 75 ppb. Now EPA wants to slash allowable levels even further: to 70 or even 60 ppb, equivalent to 70 or 60 seconds in 32 years. The lower limits are essential, it claims, to reduce smog, human respiratory problems and damage to vegetation. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says a 600-page agency staff report strongly recommends this reduction, and her Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee agrees. They all say the lower limits are vital for protecting public health, especially “at-risk populations and life stages.” Her decision will ultimately involve “a scientific judgment” and will “keep people safe,” Ms. McCarthy assures us. Under terms of a convenient federal court settlement, EPA must issue its proposed new standards by December 1 of this year, and make a final decision by October 2015. The process will be “open and transparent,” with “multiple opportunities” for public hearings and comment throughout, she promised.  EPA has offered little transparency, honesty or opportunity for fair hearings and input by impacted parties thus far, and we should expect none here. But other problems with this proposal are much more serious. If the 60 ppb standard is adopted, 85% of all US counties would likely become “non-attainment” areas, making it difficult to establish new industrial facilities or expand existing plants. Even in Big Sky, clean-air Wyoming, Teton County could be out of compliance – mostly due to emissions from pine trees! A Manufacturers’ Alliance/MAPI study calculated that a 60 ppb ozone standard would cost the US economy a whopping $1 trillion per year and kill 7.3 million jobs by 2020. A Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and National Association of Manufacturers study concluded that a 60 ppb rule would penalize the state $189 billion for compliance and $53 billion in lost gross domestic product between 2017 and 2040. That’s $10 billion per year in just one state. But the standard would save lives, EPA predictably claimed, citing 2009 research directed by University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health Professor Michael Jerrett. The study purportedly tracked 448,000 people and claimed to find a connection between long-term ozone exposure and death. Other researchers sharply criticized Jerrett’s work. His study made questionable assumptions about ozone concentrations, did not rely on clinical tests, ignored the findings of other studies that found no significant link between ground-level ozone and health effects, and failed to gather critically important information on the subjects’ smoking patterns, they pointed out. When they asked to examine his data,Jerrett refused. Michael Honeycutt, chief toxicologist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, says Jerrettand EPA exaggerate health risks from ozone. The Texas Public Policy Foundation told EPA the agency needs to consider “the totality of studies on this issue, rather than giving exclusive weight to a single study,” the foundation emphasized. Unfortunately, EPA almost always focuses on one or two analyses that support its regulatory agenda – and ignores any that might slow or derail its onrushing freight train. Even worse, those lost jobs and GDP result in major impacts on the lives, livelihoods, liberties, living standards, health, welfare and life spans of millions of Americans. And yet, EPA steadfastly refuses to consider these regulatory impacts: for ozone, carbon dioxide, soot, mercury and other rules. Then there is the matter of outright deception, collusion and fraud at EPA, via these and other tactics. One such tactic is sue-and-settle lawsuits. Agitator groups meet with EPA officials behind closed doors and agree on new rules or standards. The agency then conveniently misses a deadline, “forcing” the activists to sue. That leads to a court hearing (from which impacted parties are excluded), and a judgment “forcing” the agency to issue new regulations – and even pay the agitators’ attorney fees! American Lung Association, NRDC, Sierra Club and EPA sue-and-settle collusion resulted in the new ozone proposal. This clever sue-and-settle tactic was devised by none other than John Beale – the con artist who’s now in prison for bilking taxpayers out of $1 million in salary and travel expenses for his mythical second job as a CIA agent. It defies belief to assume his fraudulent propensities did not extend to his official EPA duties as senior policy advisor with his boss and buddy Robert Brenner, helping Ms. McCarthy and her Office of Air and Radiation develop and implement oppressive regulations. Indeed, his own attorney says he had a “dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior” and “manipulate those around him through the fabrication of grandiose narratives.” A US Senate report details the sleazy practice. As to the “experts” who claim lower ozone limits are vital for protecting public health, there’s this. The American Lung Association supports the EPA health claims – but neglects to mention that EPA has given the ALA $24.7 million over the past 15 years. Overall, during this period, the ALA received $43 million via 591 federal grants, and Big Green foundations bankrolled it with an additional $76 million. But no one is supposed to question the ALA’s credibility, integrity or support for EPA “science.” EPA also channels vast sums to its “independent” Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which likewise rubberstamps the agency’s pollution claims and regulations. Fifteen CASAC members receivedover $181 million since 2000. CASAC excludes from its ranks industry and other experts who might question EPA findings. Both EPA and CASAC stonewall and slow-walk FOIA requests and deny requests for correction and reconsideration. Even congressional committees get nowhere. As Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House on Science, Space and Technology Committee,noted in a letter, 16 of the 20 CASAC members who “peer-reviewed” the ozone studies also helped to write the studies. That makes it even less likely that their reviews were “independent.” That Senate report, The Chains of Environmental Command, also notes that the Obama EPA has been deliberately packed with far-left environmental activists who work with their former Big Green colleagues to shape policy. They give radical groups critical insider access and also funnel millions of taxpayer dollars through grants to their former organizations, often in violation of agency ethics rules. These arrogant, unelected, unaccountable, deceitful, dictatorial elites think they have a right to impose ozone, carbon dioxide, ObamaCare and other diktats on us, “for our own good.” They are a primary reason American businesses and families are already paying $1.9 trillion per year to comply with mountains of federal regulations – $353 billion of these costs from EPA alone. The damage to jobs, livelihoods, liberties, living standards, health and welfare is incalculable. The next Congress should review all EPA data, documents and decisions, root out the fraud and collusion, and defund and ultimately reverse all regulations that do not pass muster. The principle is simple: No data, honesty, transparency or integrity – no regulation, and no taxpayer money to impose it.

Categories: On the Blog

White House #AskDrH Climate Social Media Campaign an #EpicFail

Somewhat Reasonable - November 16, 2014, 9:09 PM

On Thursday afternoon (Nov. 13), the White House’s vaunted social media squad invited Americans to go on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, or Instagram and pose questions about climate change to the president’s science advisor using the hashtag #AskDrH. Said the White House blog:

Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wants to answer any questions that you have about climate change — what it means, how bad it actually is, and what we can do to fight it.

Wait a minute! Holdren will answer “any questions that you have about climate change” … but only if they conform to the notion that human activity is causing a climate crisis, and restricting human activity by government direction can “fight it.” I think the White House misspelled “any.”

As it turned out, this was not going to be a “live” social media event anyway. At some point in the future, we’re told, someone at the White House is going to hand pick a few questions Holdren to answer “on camera” for YouTube. As of Sunday evening, Holdren has provided no answers. Maybe that’s because the White House social media experts are having a hard time sifting through the wreckage of their ill-conceived campaign and finding the very few that conform to Holdren’s alarmist point of view.

The #AskDrH hashtag was hijacked by folks who had real, pointed, and scientifically based questions for Holdren. They also had a bit of fun at Holdren’s expense. I haven’t counted them all — that’s impossible, because new questions keep coming in, even days later — but it’s safe to say that … um … at least 97 percent of questioners don’t believe in man-caused global warming, and want Holdren to explain some inconvenient truths.

If he’s serious about his mission as “Science Advisor” to the President of the United States, he should address some of the many very serious questions on the science. The Heartland Institute has a long-standing challenge to Dr. Holdren to debate a skeptic climate scientist, and we threw that in to the #AskDrH stream many times.

Challenge to #AskDrH: Public debate w/skeptic #climate scientist on the data: http://t.co/ojOEFGOlZK Pick time, place. Do you accept?

— Heartland Institute (@HeartlandInst) November 16, 2014

No answer, so far.

Twitchy on Thursday, just hours after the call for questions went out, reported on the #EpicFail of the White House’s latest effort to rally public support around the climate crisis meme. If they were surprised that the vast majority of questions would be actually challenges on the science — as well as Holdren’s long public record of wildly goofy and wrong predictions about the climate — the person in charge of social media at the White House should consider another line of work. Perhaps barista.

Go here to see all the #AskDrH questions on Twitter. (You will have to scroll down, and down, and down …) Here are some of our favorites:

Wil these guys ever learn? #AskDrH: The President’s Science Advisor Is Answering Your Questions on Climate Change http://t.co/UePLJle7aU

— Adam Curry (@adamcurry) November 13, 2014

Why does the @WhiteHouse use junk science numbers to shoot themselves in foot w/Climate Control? #AskDrH ex http://t.co/xBP10P85P0

— MedicalQuack (@MedicalQuack) November 13, 2014

#askDrH What is relevance of Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds? pic.twitter.com/X7VQB4nKFA

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH @hockeyschtick1: @EcoSenseNow @MarkBoslough e.g. The entire Ordovician ice age occurred with CO2 levels 6X higher than the present

— William Tireman (@AnswerIsFusion) November 16, 2014

#askdrh please comment on report from Nature, Tropical storms not intensifying. http://t.co/OyRqSLVrwv

— Ima Debatin’ (@ImaBannedd) November 16, 2014

Dear #AskDrH Why did you predict a new ice age in 1971? pic.twitter.com/oCZRfydTc4

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 13, 2014

Was your claim abt losing all WINTER Arctic ice sea the stupidest utterance ever by a Pres. science advisor? #askDrH http://t.co/nGQgd5Welx

— Tom Nelson (@tan123) November 13, 2014

Dear #AskDrH The @EPA says that heatwaves were much worse in the 1930’s Why are you claiming otherwise? pic.twitter.com/Ix5tgfu6kQ

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 13, 2014

#AskDrH What was the climate control knob during 70s ice age scare and why did it switch to CO2 during AGW scare? How does that even work?

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 15, 2014

Dear #AskDrH Why did @NASA recently tamper with their own temperature data to make it appear to be warming faster? http://t.co/UdKNrH2fum

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 15, 2014

Dear #AskDrH Why is Antarctic sea ice extent at a record high in 2014?

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 15, 2014

Arctic Viagra Dooms Alarmists http://t.co/dU1GZoZvsx via @SteveSGoddard #ClimateChanges #Alarmism #G20 #AskDrH #AGW? pic.twitter.com/iFY9mTeuPf

— JWSpry (@JWSpry) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH Since IPCC admits it doesn’t understand solar effects on climate, how can they be ruled out and man blamed to >95% certainty?

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 13, 2014

Dear #AskDrH, Why is Arctic sea ice extent at its highest level in over a decade? http://t.co/apKtP6HQkP pic.twitter.com/1lZ0OmnfAs

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 15, 2014

#askDrH do you & @DavidSuzuki both not realize that climate occilates on its own and has for billions of years? pic.twitter.com/iHthnOAjJo

— Alaina Fraser (@FraserAlaina) November 14, 2014

#AskDrH how do you answer those using the 18+ year warming pause, Antarctic ice gain and normal Arctic ice to cast doubt on #climatechange?

— Malcolm Bell (@malcky) November 13, 2014

#AskDrH If the science is settled, then why does the data have to be constantly “adjusted”?

— WilliamTeach (@WilliamTeach) November 16, 2014

#askdrh why did the UN IPCC not post a ‘best’ estimate of climate sensitivity as they have previously? Is it because it keeps dropping?

— Ima Debatin’ (@ImaBannedd) November 15, 2014

#askdrh Comment please: pic.twitter.com/cIm5JcF7we

— Ima Debatin’ (@ImaBannedd) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH Why should we believe absorption & emission spectra in a lab jar dominate heat transfer in the troposphere?

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH Do you plan to actually respond to the very real allegations of data tampering?

— Matthew Ozarko (@MattOzarko) November 16, 2014

#AskDrH Why did Hugo Chavez get a standing O at Copenhagen Climate conference when he said capitalism must be destroyed to save climate?

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 13, 2014

If you and Obama had complete control over US energy policy, how many Americans would survive a typical winter? #AskDrH

— Tom Nelson (@tan123) November 14, 2014

repost #askdrh Comment please pic.twitter.com/39ALZz8OOa

— Ima Debatin’ (@ImaBannedd) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH Will a red checkered onesie and cup of hot cocoa keep me warm during this Global Warming cold wave? pic.twitter.com/2y4lCQgkCF

— John (@ATXright) November 14, 2014

#AskDrH ~ when #ClimateChange hysteria permanently deflates, what will be the next, most promising green crusade? “Running out” of water?

— Tyler Dunford (@tydunford) November 13, 2014

Learn more about what’s really happening to the climate from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). These scientists have examined the data — that actual data, not the “gamed” or “adjusted” data to fit a long-standing political outcome. Read the Climate Change Reconsidered series, which amounts to some 3,000 pages (and thousands of citations from the peer-reviewed scientific literature) showing that there is no human-caused climate crisis.

And also visit the archive page of The Heartland Institute’s nine international conferences on climate change, featuring 197 speakers since 2008.

Categories: On the Blog

Reply to Amherst Faculty Members

Somewhat Reasonable - November 16, 2014, 2:44 PM

On October 29, a group of Amherst College faculty members sent an open letter to the president of the college and the chairman of the board of trustees urging them to “move toward divesting the college of holdings in those corporations that are committed to fossil fuel extraction to the exclusion of making serious investments in renewable energy.”

Regrettably, the faculty members’ letter made several false and malicious claims about The Heartland Institute, which we reply to in the letter below. We shared our concern with Joseph Wilson, an Amherst alumnus who forwarded the faculty members’ letter to other alumni, and asked him to send our reply to the same list of alumni or at least direct them to “Reply to Our Critics,” a feature on Heartland’s Web site that corrects similar errors, but he has refused to do so. (Please ask him why: wilson.amherst@gmail.com.) We also asked the editor of The Amherst Student, which printed the letter, to allow us to post a comment below the article on the newspaper’s Web site. So far, the paper has refused to print our reply. (Please ask the editor why at this online form.)

November 10, 2014

Dr. Carolyn Martin
President, Amherst College
Mr. Cullen Murphy
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Amherst College
Converse Hall
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Dear Dr. Martin and Mr. Murphy:

A member of the Amherst College class of 1964 sent me a copy of an open letter you recently were sent by some Amherst faculty members calling on the college to divest its investments in fossil fuels. I am writing to call your attention to serious factual errors in that letter. A copy of the letter is enclosed.

The references to The Heartland Institute contained in letter are entirely false. The Heartland Institute is a 30-year-old nonprofit institution that was started without funding or advice from “Koch Industries” or any individuals or other organizations affiliated with that company. There is nothing “ersatz” about us: We have more than 5,000 donors, 30 full-time staff, more than 260 academics participate in our peer-review, and nearly 8 out of 10 state legislators say they read and value our publications.

We have received a mere $25,000 in the last 15 years from individuals or organizations affiliated with the Koch family, and that gift was for our work on health care reform. We’ve received no funding at all from ExxonMobil or BP since 2007, before we became prominent in the climate change debate, and before that their funding amounted to less than 5% of our annual budgets.

Our positions on climate change and alternative energy obviously diverge from those of the letter’s authors, but are well within the bounds of respected scientific opinion. For example, our series of scientific reports on climate science, titled Climate Change Reconsidered, has been cited more than 100 times in peer-reviewed science journals. Copies of the Summaries for Policymakers of two most recent reports in the series are enclosed.

I’m sorry proponents of disinvestment felt they couldn’t make their case without defaming an organization that presents an opposing view. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or others here at The Heartland Institute if you have any questions or further concerns.


Joseph Bast
The Heartland Institute

Categories: On the Blog

Fair Election Policies Trampled in Quest to Win

Somewhat Reasonable - November 15, 2014, 10:26 AM

After every national election the losing party claims voter fraud influenced the outcome.   We hear reports of voter suppression, voting machine irregularities, non-eligible people voting, tampering with ballots, intimidation at the polls, and the list goes on and on.  Are these claims just the product of intense disappointment and frustration due to rigorous campaigns in which thousands of people spent many months of exhaustive work and intense passion to win? The disappointment of losing cannot be underestimated.  However, as much as we might sympathize with those who lost, nobody can deny the fact that election laws are often bent and others blatantly broken in the election process. The quest to win causes those with a lack of principles to claim “the end justifies the means”.  No!  Nothing justifies breaking established election laws, because that can rob the rightful winner of victory and cheat citizens from securing the person they want to represent them.

Even more alarming is that it appears our federal Justice Department and top elected officials at both state and federal levels have been smitten with the same lack of good judgment and/or conscience.  They lack interest in taking stronger steps that would help facilitate strict enforcement of existing election laws, and resist enacting new laws that would help prevent the many ways voter fraud has been perpetrated.  Illegally Influencing the outcome of an election must be stopped.  Until that is accomplished, we cannot claim to be any  better than third World countries we continually condemn.

Voter fraud is not always detected, and even when it is there is a hesitancy by officials to take the case to trial.  Often, the result is just a stiff (but meaningless) warning.  Those who get caught with a more serious violation and actually go to trial rarely receive a stiff penalty.  Thus, we continue to see our election rules and laws abused each election cycle.   Perpetrators know there is a low risk of exposure, that convictions are scarce, and even if convicted there are few who receive a harsh penalty.   With so little to fear, it is easy to understand why voter fraud has escalated..

The one way for all of us to have confidence our vote is not being canceled by an illegal one, or that voter fraud was not the reason for a candidate’s victory, is to demand our state and federal officials get serious about enacting strong laws to weed out ineligible voters and to initiate a Voter I.D. law in every state.  Voter registration offices throughout the Country, must investigate and purge their registration lists of all illegal names, and people must prove they are legally registered voters before receiving a ballot.

Sounds simple to do, and it really is, but Democrat leaders do everything possible to prevent that from happening, and Republican leaders, while advocates of the voter I.D. law, do not speak out boldly enough to win its implementation. Now that Republicans have control of Congress, we will see if they are serious about reform.

The most recent evidence of an official hindering the passage of a Voter I.D. law was seen when Attorney General Eric Holder publicly vowed to aggressively challenge voter I.D. laws.  His recent resignation from the office brought in a ray of hope that more states would initiate procedures to enact Voter I.D. laws,  as well as develop stronger procedures that can protect legal votes.

Is Voter Fraud Rare?

Democrats claim that voter fraud is so rare it doesn’t require new laws that would prevent illegal voting.  However, the facts do not support that viewpoint. Keep in mind that voter fraud is often very difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove.   Without the requirement of a voter proving they are who they claim to be, voter fraud is difficult to detect.  That became even more of a challenge when a directive from the former Attorney General Eric Holder was sent to Registrars throughout the nation, warning that any voter suppression would be dealt with harshly.  Translated at the local level that was a warning to every Registrar and thus poll worker that before challenging any suspicious activity, you better be very sure you are right.   Could the result of that warning, coming from the federal government, not discourage Registrars and their staff to be on full alert for any possible irregularities of voting violations they witnessed?   Whether that was the original intent or not,  the result had to be that only the most blatant examples of fraudulent activities were reported and had a chance for conviction.

Bringing a case of voter fraud to trial is expensive and time consuming.  Therefore, people are forced to carefully decide whether they want to be involved in that uncomfortable process.  Most people cannot afford the costs, if they are proven wrong.  Therefore, fewer suspicious people are confronted, unless the evidence is blatant, overwhelming. and indisputable. One can only guess how many instances of voter fraud have gone  undetected and/or unreported as a result.

An example of the lack of interest by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute voter fraud cases can be seen in the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.  During the 2008 election,  Black Panthers stood just outside the doors of a polling facility, wearing black berets and jackboots;  one Black Panther prominently displaying a large club in his hand.   These men were charged with the crime of voter intimidation outside of a polling station. In spite of citizens’ claims the men were indeed intimidating, the Dept. of Justice, under Eric Holder, narrowed the charges and then ultimately dismissed them.   The actions of Eric Holder and his department were defined as outrageous by many, but it left little doubt that what the general public considered blatantly illegal were was not  enough to warrant a conviction under Eric Holder.

The following quote was made by Department of Justice Attorney Christian Adams regarding the case:  “The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career.  Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.”

Christian Adams informed the public of other examples of voter fraud that were ignored by Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department.  A particular blatant example is that absentee ballots were sent to people who had not asked for them.  A political operator would then visit the specific homes, uninvited, the day the ballots arrived and help the voter fill them out and/or take the ballot and fill them out, including a forged signature

Targeting Voter Fraud

A liberal group called the “Voter Participation Center” (formerly known as Women’s Voices Women Vote), mailed hundreds of thousands of registration forms to residents in several states, including Florida, hoping to enlist more potential voters.  Florida officials declared the mailers to be confusing and misleading due to what seemed a deliberate attempt to cause voters to believe the State of Florida itself was sending them the official form.  A bigger problem for the state was that the voter registration forms were sent to many ineligible voters, such as felons, the deceased, children, and even animals.

As a result of this mailing, Florida State officials realized their voter registration records needed to be purged of those who were illegally listed. The state sued the federal government to gain access to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security database that could help officials spot non-U.S. citizens who were attempting to vote.  The U.S. Department of Justice, under the leadership of Eric Holder, subsequently sued the state alleging that its purge of voters is illegal.

Also of concern to citizens is the lack of attention to this subject by the media.  They too appear timid regarding aggressive investigative reporting on the subject.  Citizens throughout America want to have confidence in our voting process. That confidence can begin with required inspections of every voter registrar office in America.  Every voter registration list should be investigated for accuracy and purged of every name that cannot be substantiated as a legal.  Also, every Registrar Office should provide proof that every poll worker, every employee, has gone through an education program regarding their responsibilities and all that their job requires.  The media might also highlight specific Registrars and Registrar offices that are highly efficient and effective.  We recommend the Orange County, CA office and Registrar Neal Kelly as examples of what we would like to see in every  State and each County in America

It is hoped that with the recent resignation of Eric Holder, a new Attorney General might take a more active approach to enacting laws that would significantly reduce the opportunity or possibility of fraudulent voting.  However, the leading candidate for that position as of this writing is Brooklyn federal prosecutor, Loretta Lynch.  While she has good qualifications for the position, unfortunately, she agrees with Holder on the issue of Voter I.D. laws.  She has expressed strong viewpoints against the law and apparently can easily dismiss fraud that might have been prevented with the I.D. law.

Reporter John Fund has written three books on voter fraud.  A recent survey by Old Dominion University indicates that there are more than a million registered voters who are not citizens, and who therefore are not legally entitled to vote.  James O’Keefe with Project Veritas Action, the same person who exposed ACORN and many other abuses of power, has done numerous excellent exposes showing the extent the Democrats are reaching to perpetrate voter fraud on the American public. In one video, numerous campaign workers in North Carolina try to assist an admitted illegal immigrant to vote.  In another videoO’Keefe looks at voter rolls and shows how easy it is to vote as someone else when poll workers are not allowed to ask for ID.

State Fraud

Massive voter fraud in Maryland was uncovered due to a careful examination of Jury Duty surveys.   Many who claimed to be non-citizens on that official form had filled out a Voter Registration form claiming just the opposite, that they were citizens.   Obviously, the individuals lied about their citizen status on one of the forms, and most were proven to have lied on the Voter Registration form.  Also, during the last election, early voting participants made accusations made that some voting machines had changed Republican votes to Democrat one.  Republicans are calling for an investigation by the State Board of Elections.

Early voting in Illinois also got off to a rocky start, when votes being cast for Republican candidates were transformed into votes for Democrats. Voters were told they likely were not pressing the button properly.  Illinois State Representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote at the Schaumburg Public Library and reported:  “I tried to vote for myself and instead it cast a vote for my opponent.”  Moynihan said Cook County Board of Elections Deputy Communications Director, Jim Scalzitti, told Illinois Watchdog, the machine was taken out of service to be tested.  Access this website to see Republican votes flipped to the Democrat in a polling place in Moline, Illinois.

The North Carolina Board of Election found 1,425 registered voters who likely are illegal aliens.  The audit sampled 10,000 registered voters with data provided by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and the US Department of Homeland Security.

A single Bronx voter listed in official records as being 164 years old led to the Board of Election officials to review their files.  They discovered 849 New Yorkers who were supposedly alive when Abraham Lincoln was President.

Further examples of Voter Fraud in Connecticut, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Alabama, Texas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, California, Idaho, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Michigan, Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island, etc., can be reviewed here.

For Reflection

A few days before the election, a Wisconsin mailman was seen dumping hundreds of Republican postcards in the trash, all of them supporting Republican candidates.  He is now under indictment.

The above examples are just a scant sampling of voter fraud in America.  Patriots argue for an overhaul of our election security.00 processes, and laws. Every person who casts a legal vote should do so with the confidence it is not being canceled by an illegal one.  America’s electoral system should be perceived as reliable, efficient, and honest; a system that has the tools to detect fraudulent activities as well as convict perpetrators who violate our laws.  A system that is working effectively will not only detect voter abuses, but would also be a deterrent to prevent potential fraudulent activities.  Oddly, many of our government officials often seem more concerned about election irregularities in other nations than our own, and when informed of voter improprieties in the United States, they have the audacity to state such claims are grossly exaggerated.

Our response should be that something as important as an American citizens’ vote should be highly respected and protected.   Our next article will devote attention to the reasons Voter I.D. laws should be mandatory in all states.

Categories: On the Blog

Dependence Level Higher with Cigarettes Than with Smokeless Tobacco

Somewhat Reasonable - November 14, 2014, 4:23 PM

As noted previously (here), Drs. Karl Fagerström and Tom Eissenberg have described a continuum of dependence among tobacco and nicotine products.  They concluded that cigarettes are the most dependence-producing (addictive) product and that smokeless tobacco is intermediate, evidenced by clinical trials showing that quitting cigarette smoking is more difficult than quitting ST.

In a new study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research (abstract here), I use data from the 2003 Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey to directly compare time to first use (TTFU) among smokers and smokeless tobacco users in a nationally representative sample.  My collaborators in the work are Nantaporn Plurphanswat, research economist at University of Louisville’s Brown Cancer Center, and Karl Fagerström.

Time to the first cigarette (TTFC) after waking up in the morning is a well-established measure of dependence among smokers – the shorter the TTFC, the stronger the addiction.  This measure is the key component of a scale developed in the late 1970s by Dr. Fagerström, for whom the scale is named.  TTFC is strongly correlated with abstinence and time to relapse among smokers enrolled in cessation trials and in nationally representative samples of smokers from four countries.  A comparable measure has been developed for smokeless tobacco use.

We examined TTFU among 10,500 white men who were daily cigarette smokers and 1,200 who were daily smokeless tobacco users.  Smokers were classified according to number of cigarettes per day (cpd) smoked: light (1-14 cpd), moderate (15-24 cpd) and heavy (25+).  Smokeless tobacco users were subgrouped as exclusive users or former smokers.

The results show that dependence among smokeless tobacco users is similar to that among light smokers (1-14 cpd), 9% of whose TTFU was less than 5 minutes, and 23% under 30 minutes.  Differences in TTFU between smokers and smokeless tobacco users can be seen in the chart below, which is from our study.

Our findings support the Fagerström-Eissenberg hypothesis that the dependence level of cigarettes is generally higher than that of smokeless tobacco.  This has positive implications for tobacco harm reduction, which is the substitution of smoke-free tobacco products for cigarettes among smokers unwilling or unable to quit.  Switching from smoking to smokeless tobacco use is associated with a huge reduction in health risks.  This study adds evidence that a switch to smokeless tobacco might also increase the chances for becoming completely tobacco-free.

Categories: On the Blog

How The Free Market Can Save American Education

Somewhat Reasonable - November 14, 2014, 1:29 PM

Only one week after Election Day, Washington, DC’s focus has shifted from furious campaigning to National Education Week and the Thought Leader Summit (held from Nov. 10–13), “a gathering of the leaders from education, business, and government who define and shape trends in public and private education.”

Among the many topics that will be addressed are school choice, innovations in educational technology, and for-profit education. Although it remains a minority held view in American education today, liberty-focused educators around the country have begun to start thinking about how free-market principles can be used in the classroom to revolutionize the way kids learn.

Conservatives often proudly, and rightly, assert that a central tenant of successful education reform is the transformation of how educational institutions are funded and organized. Long gone are the days where serious reformers believe that centralized education offered by government bureaucrats is a more effective strategy than empowering private schools, charter schools, and other programs that give parents, especially those who live in poor neighborhoods with decrepit schools and failing teachers, the ability to send their children wherever they see fit.

But the importance of using free-market principles in the classrooms themselves is often overlooked by liberty-supporting education reformers. When free-market strategies are employed in schools, children can grow to appreciate the value of freedom and capitalism instead of becoming indoctrinated with the socialistic, everyone-deserves-a-trophy mentality that now dominates U.S. school systems.

In “Rewards: How to use rewards to help children learn – and why teachers don’t use them well,” a new book by Heartland Institute Chairman Herbert J. Walberg and President Joseph Bast, research is presented that proves strategies such as paying students for performance; offering stickers (for younger students), parties, and prizes for reaching established goals; and showing high school students the monetary advantages of education all help to develop successful learning habits that have statistically led to better performances on standardized tests and increased graduation rates, in addition to an increased likelihood of college attendance.

For those who believe in and support capitalism, this won’t come as much of a surprise. Using incentives to improve performance and efficiency is a part of the foundation that America, the most successful and prosperous nation the world has ever seen, has been built on.

What seems obvious to so many, however, has been obscured by so-called education gurus in teachers colleges across the nation. As Walberg and Bast explain in “Rewards,” influential academics like Alfie Kohn have rejected the concept of rewarding students for performance. Kohn once even said it was “irrefutable” that “[i]ncentives simply do not work,” and “any approach that offers a reward will fail.”

Is it really a surprise then that so many millennials, having been brainwashed with this sort of thinking for more than a decade, march off to voting booths each election season convinced that the answers to all of the world’s problems are to tax more, spend more, and eliminate accountability?

The secret to transforming America back into the economic powerhouse it once was is to teach children – using proven and trusted strategies – that terms like “incentives,” “rewards,” and “profits” are not the dirty words the public education system has been insisting they are since the 1960s. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to reward the children themselves for performance rather than acting as though being successful isn’t all that important.

Justin Haskins (Jhaskins@heartland.org) is an author, blogger, and an editor of publications at The Heartland Institute, a leading free-market think tank based out of Chicago, IL. You can follow him @TheNewRevere or visit his personal site online at http://traskhaskins.com/.

“Rewards: How to use rewards to help children learn – and why teachers don’t use them well” by Herbert J. Walberg and Heartland President Joseph Bast is available on Amazon.com and at The Heartland Institute’s online store.


[Originally published at the Daily Caller]


Categories: On the Blog

Empower the People or Empower Bureaucrats – Two Internet Votes

Somewhat Reasonable - November 14, 2014, 1:01 PM

Pundits largely agree that those who cast ballots last week had more or less one idea in mind – Washington is broken and must be fixed. So imagine the surprise that online customers will receive when Senators Reid and Durbin lead the just voted out Senate to massively expand government power in their last few days at the helm of Congress. Current leadership of the Senate (Senators Reid and Durbin still lead the Senate during a “lame duck” session until January 3rd when the new Senators the country elected last week will be sworn in and new leadership selected) plans to bring a combined Mainstreet Fairness Act (MFA) and Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) to the Senate floor soon. The ITFA would continue a moratorium on “Internet taxes,” that is, taxes on Internet access and on multiple or discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce. In other words, online merchants and consumers would be freed from the threat of discriminatory treatment. The MFA does almost the exact opposite, empowering government tax auditors to reach as far as the Internet sprawls. The policy of that proposal is horrible, doing away with any requirement that a business have a physical connection to a jurisdiction before it can be forced to levy taxes on its sales. If this law were to pass, a person merely calling up a business’s Website could be enough to require that a business, and hence consumers, pay taxes in the state where the customer resides. Out-of-state tax authorities could audit businesses in any state – regulation without representation or reprieve. A discriminatory Internet tax would look promising by comparison. Combining the legislation is the worst of Washington and government, cynically tying the hugely popular, taxpayer protecting ITFA to the government expanding consumer and small business hurting MFA. This sort of dirty, heavy handed government trick is exactly what the country voted against last week. This combination should earn the scorn of any legislator who believes the country is growing weary of ever sprawling and powerful government. But, the game gets rigged further against consumers. Rumor on the Hill is that the MFA, or a MFA/ITFA combination, will be attached to a continuing resolution, that is, legislation enacted by Congress to keep government operating until the regular order of appropriations legislation is again taken up. Such legislation is typically considered “must pass,” so the pressure to vote for it regardless of some odious part will be high. The reality is that such legislation could pass as it would likely garner a huge share of Democrat support with a few wayward Republicans added on. For this to work, GOP leadership would certainly have to be in on the deal, putting politics ahead of an electorate that had hoped they voted for something better. The politics get worse. An Internet sales tax, like the MFA, is wildly unpopular with only a mere 35 percent of the public indicating they are OK with the idea. Two-thirds of Republicans and conservatives oppose the measure, and 56 percent of independents oppose it. Democrats? A majority oppose. Only two groups support the idea. State tax collectors, who are eager to expand their power over those who have no recourse, are the first group. While once again overall tax collections are up, according to the Pew Charitable Trust, some states have still not returned to the record tax collections, and spending, they were taking before the recession. “On the bright side, state revenue collections overall in the second quarter of this year were actually up 1.6 percent above their highest 2008 level, just before the recession – buoyed from a few states doing particularly well.” What easier way to get more revenue than from those cannot even vote to change the policy? Their addiction to taxes, and enforcing them through grater and deeper reach of government, drive their insatiable desire. The other group is the “big box” retailers who desperately want this discriminatory treatment for online merchants to prevail to curtail their competition. They have gone so far as to try to force the hand of House leadership arguing that the legislation should be jammed, by trickery if necessary, through Congress to “clear the decks” for the beginning of a new Congress. Of course the decks should be cleared of bad ideas by House leadership but not by making them law. If a discriminatory Internet tax is allowed because the ITFA does not pass, or if government reach is wildly expanded via the passage of the MFA the recent protests in Hungary opposing similar attempts will look mild compared to the anger in an electorate full of online consumers that deserves much better and thought they just voted to get it. Speaker Boehner deserves credit for indicating that the MFA is dead and that he will not bring it to a vote, and for leading the House to vote in support of the ITFA. The remaining question is what will the last days of the Leader Reid Senate do? Oppose the will of the people or follow it? Put a focus on empowering the people or keep it on empowering bureaucrats? Failing the people could result in the first Internet wave election in 2016.


Categories: On the Blog

Obama’s Cruel and Costly Climate Hoax

Somewhat Reasonable - November 14, 2014, 10:54 AM

The intense cold that many Americans are encountering arrives more than a month before the official start of winter on December 21.

To discuss this, we need to keep in mind that weather is what is occurring now. Climate is measured over longer periods, the minimum of which is thirty years and, beyond that, centuries.

We are colder these days because the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for 19 years and that cycle is based entirely on the Sun which has been radiating less heat for the same period of time.

Describing the role of the Sun, Australian geologist, Ian Plimer, said, “There is a big thermonuclear reactor in the sky that emits huge amounts of energy to the Earth…The Sun provides the energy for photosynthesis. The Sun is the bringer of life to Earth. If the Sun were more energetic the oceans would boil. If the Sun were less energetic the oceans would freeze and all life on Earth would be destroyed.”

We don’t control the Sun. Or the climate. It controls us.

Consider the fact that the Sun has a diameter of 865,000 miles. The Earth’s diameter is 7,917.5 miles. Thus, the Sun’s diameter is 109 times greater than the Earth’s. Carbon dioxide is barely 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere. Reducing it as the U.S.-China agreement proposes would have zero effect on the Earth’s climate.

We not only can, but should ignore the blatant lies of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, both of whom have been saying things about “climate change” without a scintilla of science to back them up. They’re not alone, however. In August, the U.N. Climate Chief, Christiana Figueres, warned of climate “chaos” in 500 days and told the World Health Organization that climate change was on a par with the outbreak of Ebola as a public health emergency.

It was big news on November 11 when The Wall Street Journal’s lead story on its front page reported that “The U.S. and China unveiled long-term plans to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to climate change, a surprise move aimed at kick-starting a new round of international climate negotiations and blunting domestic opposition to cuts in both countries.”

Someone needs to tell the Wall Street Journal there is no “climate change” that is not entirely NATURAL and unrelated to anything humans are doing.

The announcement plays into the longtime efforts of the environmental movement to impose energy limits on the world’s population. Similar limits will be called for when climate talks are launched in December by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Lima, Peru.

Why the leaders of nations keep calling for limits that can only result in the reduction of energy production, the loss of economic benefits from industrial activity and the jobs it provides, and the modern lifestyle of advanced nations is one of life’s great mysteries.

If you really disliked America, you would no doubt pursue President Obama’s anti-energy agenda. That agenda is expressed by a series of climate and pollution measures that an article in Politico.com says “rivals any presidential environmental actions of the past quarter-century—a reality check for Republicans who think last week’s election gave them a mandate to end what they call the White House’s ‘War on Coal.’”

The authors of the Politico.com article, Andrew Restuccia and Erica Martinson, note that Obama’s assault on the nation is “Tied to court-ordered deadlines, legal mandates and international climate talks” over the next two months, all in the name of a climate change “And incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have few options for stopping the onslaught, though Republicans may be able to slow pieces of it.”

“The coming rollout includes a Dec. 1 proposal by EPA to tighten limits on smog-causing ozone, which business groups say could be the costliest federal regulation of all time; a final rule Dec. 19 for clamping down on disposal of power plants’ toxic coal cash; the Jan. 1 start date for a long-debated rule prohibiting states from polluting the air of their downwind neighbors; and a Jan. 8 deadline for issuing a final rule restricting greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants. That last rule is a centerpiece of Obama’s most ambitious environmental effort, the big plan for combating climate change that he announced at Georgetown University in June 2013.”

This vile assault flies in the face of actual climate trends: record low tornadoes record low hurricanes, record gain in Arctic ice, record amount of Antarctic ice, no change in the rate of sea level rise, no evidence of a Greenland meltdown, and again no warming for 19 years.

As this and future winters turn colder, arrive sooner and stay around longer, Americans will be affected by the reduction of coal-fired plants that generate electrical power. The nation will encounter blizzards that will leave some homeowners and apartment dwellers without heat. It is predictable that some will die.

A cruel and costly climate hoax is being perpetrated by President Obama and, in particular, by the Environmental Protection Agency. The new Congress must take whatever action it can to reverse and stop the harm that it represents; people’s jobs and lives depend on it.

Categories: On the Blog

Cold Breaks Records, Again!

Somewhat Reasonable - November 13, 2014, 6:34 PM

During 2014, the U.S. has experienced an unusual amount of record breaking cold weather and weather related phenomena.  In large part due to the polar vortex, hundreds, if not thousands of cities and towns in the United States experienced multiple days of record setting temperatures — both record lows and record low high temperatures.

This continued into the summer.  In July record lows or record low high temperatures were set cities ranging from Atlanta to Baltimore, from Dallas to Pittsburgh, and in states from Minnesota to Alabama and Florida.

Record low temperatures continued into September when 246 record low high temperatures records were broken or tied between September 1 and September 10 alone. Some of the record breaking temperatures were as much as 16 degrees below the previous record low.

In addition to record cold, numerous cities and regions saw record snowfall, and lingering snow in early 2014.

Not to be outdone, late 2014 is already breaking temperature and snowfall records.  South Carolina, experienced its earliest snowfall on record , while other states are experiencing record amounts of early snowfall and/or low temperatures.  Some states and cities are 20 degrees below their normal temperatures for this time of year including Florida and Dallas, where I live. Denver has experienced record breaking low temperatures two days running with temperatures running 34 degrees below average and Maine has experienced its earliest double-digit snowfall.

Not to be outdone, the great lakes region, the Mid-West and the great Northwest, have all experienced either record lows, record low highs or record early snowfall or ice.  Most recently, Casper, Wyoming and Oklahoma are both more then 20 degrees below their average temperatures and while snowfall amounts accumulating in Idaho, Montana, Oregon,  Utah and Washington, are not extraordinary by mid-winter standards, for early fall they are impressive.

I’m sorry folks, but this is not how global warming is supposed to work!

For more see:






Categories: On the Blog

Celebrating the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Somewhat Reasonable - November 13, 2014, 4:59 PM

Twenty-five years ago this week, the most visible symbol of Communism and the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, saw its last days.

If America’s media weren’t so biased against capitalism and individual freedom, the fall of the Berlin Wall would be celebrated every year with an official federal holiday, fireworks, and parades in major cities. Really, millennials, it was that big a deal. It triggered and then symbolized the freeing of millions of people from government tyranny.

I cannot recommend more highly a visit to the website of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. As they note on the homepage this week, “The Berlin Wall fell, but Communism didn’t.” Millions live under the thumb of communist despotism in the miserable prison states of North Korea and Cuba — as if they are frozen in amber, living relics of a decades-over Cold War. China may be modern and business-friendly, but its people do not enjoy liberty. While the Berlin Wall came down and the communist East Germany crumbled, the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square to preserve Communism.

Watch the video below from the BBC. It’s a couple of  minutes, but you can feel the joy in the hearts of these Germans who waited a generation for the abominable wall to come down — to end the prison states of East Germany and East Berlin. No one has ever needed a wall to keep those who enjoy liberty from fleeing a country.

(An aside: It’s a shame that while the victims of communism have a memorial in Washington, DC, few know about it. Indeed, I’d guess most walk by it without even knowing what it is.  I lived in the DC area for eight years and I never heard of it. I’ve never seen it mentioned in a tourism brochure. I’ve never heard someone say: “Be sure to take your cousins over to the Victims of Communism Memorial.” I wonder why.)

Categories: On the Blog

Net Neutrality and Maintaining a Free and Open Internet

Somewhat Reasonable - November 13, 2014, 2:01 PM

On September 25, the Mercatus Center, a research and outreach organization that promotes market-oriented solutions from George Mason University, did a presentation on net neutrality. The speaker, research fellow in the technology policy program Brent Skorup, gave a wide overview of the net neutrality subject. Skorup discussed, among other things, how the Internet works, the working definition of net neutrality, exceptions to the rule, and the options the FCC is exploring. 

To fully explain the debate that is occurring, Skorup begins the presentation with the basics. He gives a brief explanation as to how the Internet works, what broadband is, and the constraints broadband must deal with. For example, When broadband is overwhelmed by information, it begins dropping packets or requested information. Generally this results in slow loading time or video buffering. This is where the concept of fast-lanes comes into play, which Skorup explains in detail later.

Skorup then explains the definition of net neutrality and how it got into the public eye. This debate began after a couple incidents. In 2004, A small ISP (Internet Service Provider) in North Carolina blocked access to an online phone provider Vonage. This resulted in many complaints by those effected and eventually a fine against the ISP. Then in 2007, Comcast was caught limiting access to the website BitTorrent. While Comcast said this was due to the information intensive requirements for the site, others suggested Comcast was attempting to limit competition to its own video providing service.

These events started the concept of net neutrality. The definition of this concept is hard to nail down, however, due to the constantly changing interpretation of the term. In general, as Skorup explains, net neutrality intends to treat all information as the same. The ISP would have no power over limiting information or services. Also, the use of fast-lanes, or giving priority to certain information, would be eliminated. Net neutrality is being advanced because of the fear of ISPs censoring political speech and curbing competition.

While this may seem straight-forward and fair, fast-lanes are currently being used, as Skorup point out, in justifiable ways. One example includes Voip or Voice Over Internet Protocol. This gives online telecommunication priority over other web services. So, as Skorup states, “when you’re calling Grandma, if someone in the next room or your neighbors are watching netflix, your phone call isn’t being chopped up.” Other services that sometimes use these fast-lanes include video on demand for TV, gaming, teleconferencing and Skype.

To deal with these complex issues, the FCC has several options. One option would be for the FCC to reinterpret title II of the 1934 communications act to include the Internet. This would put the burden on the ISPs. The ISP would have to prove that their discrimination of information or services is “just and reasonable.” The FCC could also apply section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which would put the burden on the FCC itself. They could also defer the matter to antitrust agencies or Congress.

Skorup ends the presentation by stating how this is a very complex subject. He recommends that engineers, computer scientists and economists should be consulted prior to making any decision on the matter.

For a more critical take on the FCC shoving broadband into Title II, listen to this podcast with Heartland’s Jim Lakely and Less Government’s Seton Motley.

Categories: On the Blog

How Online Education Can Save Conservatism

Somewhat Reasonable - November 13, 2014, 1:24 PM

Education, business, and government leaders are gathering this week in Washington, DC to discuss the future of American education at the Thought Leader Summit (held from Nov. 10–13), an event held as a part of the National Education Initiative. Among the many topics that will be discussed is the advancement of online education, a technological gift that could save conservatism in America.

It comes as no surprise to liberty-focused Americans that U.S. education is rife with liberalism. Teachers colleges and teachers unions have worked tirelessly to ensure that school systems across the country are stocked with educators that reject traditional free-market and liberty-focused curricula.

Instead of a fair treatment of history, civics, and economics, liberals utilize “learning” materials, such as one history textbook used in South Carolina that suggests former President Ronald Reagan was sexist, that fabricate the truth to fit their own leftwing agenda.

Teachers and professors don’t even bother hiding their bias. One survey released by UCLA in 2012 shows that more than 62 percent of college professors identify as being either “far left” or “liberal,” while less than 12 percent claim to be “far right” or “conservative.” With results like these, how can conservative parents ever feel comfortable sending their kids off to local public schools or to costly colleges?

The obvious answer is for parents to send children to private schools that embrace personal responsibility and liberty or to start homeschooling. In both situations, however, time, funding, and the teaching ability of the parent may stand in the way as nearly insurmountable obstacles. This is where the advancement of online education could save the day.

In “Rewards: How to use rewards to help children learn – and why teachers don’t use them well,” a new book by Heartland Institute Chairman Herbert J. Walberg and Heartland President Joseph Bast, the authors present the incredible technological advancements that have occurred over the past decade in online education and how these advancements can be used to improve education.

According to Walberg and Bast, “Digital learning stands on its own or adds great blended value because it can adapt to the capacity and speed of individual learners, provide minute-by-minute feedback on learning progress, and provide rewards suitable for individual learners. It is similar to an imaginary inexhaustible, highly skilled tutor.”

Walberg and Bast say that highly successful private and charter schools have taken advantage of this new technology, and the results have been quite astounding. The much-talked-about Rocketship schools, for instance, have produced unmatched test results and student achievement by combining traditional models of instruction alongside digital, personalized instruction.

There’s simply no reason why conservatives cannot take advantage of these models to produce their own liberty-focused curricula that can be used in private schools, homeschools, and in colleges across the nation. No longer is it necessary for parents to become education experts to provide their children with a quality education that embraces liberty.

Some conservatives have already started taking advantage of digital learning to advance the cause of liberty. Perhaps the most famous case is the free, not-for-credit massive online open-enrollment program at Hillsdale College, a liberal arts college based in Michigan who envisions itself as “a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.”

Other programs, like Liberty University’s Online Academy, are designed specifically for private schools and homeschools and are geared toward providing a more foundational education compared to the college courses at Hillsdale.

Although many of the education experts and public servants attending the Thought Leader Summit this week are interested in improving American education, few of them embrace the classical liberalism espoused by the Founding Fathers. It’s up to conservatives, Tea Party groups, private schools that espouse liberty, and homeschools to build educational systems that promote the values that built America. Technology has made the once-reasonable excuses of cost, location, and time no longer applicable.

With some hard work and innovative thinking, conservatives now have the opportunity to combat the liberal tide that has swept across the country’s education system over the past 50 years.

“Rewards: How to use rewards to help children learn – and why teachers don’t use them well” by Herbert J. Walberg and Heartland President Joseph Bast is available on Amazon.com and at The Heartland Institute’s online store.

[Originally published at Human Events]


Categories: On the Blog

Climate Hustle: The Global Warming Shakedown

Somewhat Reasonable - November 13, 2014, 1:20 PM

Climate Hustle: The global warming shakedown, is a new documentary currently being produced by C-FACT. With a new trailer released just days ago, the film promises to “cool down the global warming hype.”

The host of the upcoming documentary is investigative journalist Marc Morano, a popular man-made climate change skeptic who intends to “tear the cover off of (the) global warming hype.” The film will dive into the science and the debate to reveal the truth about climate change.

Are we destined to endure radical temperature shifts, rising sea-levels and extreme weather due to our dependence on fossil fuels? Is there really an overwhelming consensus among scientists? Or are these statistics and threats exaggerated in order to push a particular government agenda? Climate Hustle intends to get to the bottom of these questions and more.

The film is being sponsored in large part by donations. The goal of C-FACT is to raise $250,000 to cover the production of the film as well as the marketing and distribution. The intention is to get this documentary into as many theaters and large cities as possible.

The current release date of the documentary is listed as “coming soon.” While the release date of the film is not set, the deadline for donations is only three weeks away. So expect to see Climate Hustle hitting the theaters by the end of the year or early 2015.


Categories: On the Blog

Being Anti-Energy is Being Anti-Humanity

Somewhat Reasonable - November 13, 2014, 11:38 AM

Everything you need to know about how perverse and dangerous the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is summed up in its latest report. Released on November 2, it issued the same tired, old and untrue claims of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems”

The IPCC wants the world to stop using coal, oil and natural gas, saying that they must be “phased out almost entirely” by the end of the century. The report reeks of their contempt for humanity.

Losing electricity, no matter where you live, is losing every technology that enhances and preserves your life. You lose the ability to cool or warm your home, apartment or workplace. You lose the ability to keep food safe in your refrigerator and freezer. You most certainly lose the lighting. You lose the ability to turn on your computer or television. Indeed, to use everything you take for granted.

Since the discovery and generation of energy with coal, oil and natural gas, generations have lived lives not only different from all who preceded them, but better in so many ways, not the least of which is extended life expectancy. Nations with energy are places where people live longer, healthier lives. They are also wealthier nations where the energy translates into industry, jobs, transportation, and all the other attributes of modern life.

Although we usually don’t associate energy with morality, Alex Epstein has. His book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” ($27.95, Portfolio, an imprint of the Penguin Group) is the finest case for the role coal, oil and natural gas has played in our lives and the positive, emancipating impact they have had on humanity. Everyone should read it.

“I hold human life as the standard of value” says Epstein. “I think that our fossil fuel use so far has been a moral choice because it has enabled billions of people to live longer and more fulfilling lives, and I think the cuts proposed by the environmentalists in the 1970s were wrong because of all the death and suffering they would have inflicted on human beings.”

“Eighty-seven percent of the energy mankind uses every second comes from burning one of the fossil fuels: coal, oil or natural gas.” That has not stopped environmentalists from denouncing coal and oil as “dirty” or because their use generates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. What they never tell you is how small those emissions are and that they play an infinitesimal role to influence the Earth’s weather or climate. They never tell you that the Earth has centuries more of untapped reserves. The modern world could not exist without them.

“In the last eighty years, as CO2 emissions have most rapidly escalated, the annual rate of climate-related deaths worldwide fell by an incredible rate of 98 percent. That means the incidence of death from climate is fifty times lower than it was eighty years ago.”

Epstein points to “the power of fossil-fueled machines to build a durable civilization that is highly resilient to extreme heat, extreme cold, floods, storms, and so on” to demonstrate the foolishness of those who oppose their use. Primary among them is the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As part of its 40th session, in early November the IPCC adopted the final “synthesis” report of its Fifth Assessment Report; a full-scale update calling for the reduction of energy worldwide. They base this on the claim that “human influence on the climate system is clear.”

It is not clear. Despite the CO2 emissions, the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for the last nineteen years, during the same time the IPCC’s “climate experts” and others were telling us the Earth was going to become dangerously warm.

Epstein reminds us that “In 1972, the international think tank, the Club of Rome, released a multimillion-copy-selling book, “The Limits of Growth”, which declared that its state of the art computer models had demonstrated that we would run out of oil by 1992 and natural gas by 1993 (and, for good measure, gold, mercury, silver, tin, zinc and lead by 1993 at the latest.)

It is essential to understand that every one of the “environmental” predictions made in the 1970s and the decades since then has been WRONG.

Every one of the computer models on which those predictions were based was WRONG.

A younger generation graduating from high school has never spent a day when the overall temperature of the Earth was warming. The Earth’s natural cooling cycle is based on a natural low cycle of solar radiation. The Sun is generating less heat. Indeed, the Earth is nearing the end of the Holocene cycle, one of warmth for the past ten thousand or more years that has given rise to human civilization.

Epstein’s book is more than just philosophical opinion. It is based on documented facts regarding fossil fuel use. At one point he quotes Paul Ehrlich who, in his 1968 book, “The Population Bomb”, declared that “the battle to feed humanity is over.”  Epstein notes that in 1968 the world’s population was 3.6 billion people. “Since then it has doubled, yet the average person is better fed than he was in 1968. This seeming miracle was due to a combination of the fossil fuel industry and genetic science…” Farming today is mechanized and that requires fuel!

The claims that Epstein debunks are accompanied by the fundamental truths about fossil fuel use and science. His book, comprehensible to anyone whether they have any knowledge of science or not, should be on everyone’s reading list.

At the heart of environmentalism and its “save the Earth” agenda is the reduction, if not the elimination, of humans from planet Earth.


Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Jay Lehr: Will the 2014 Election Results may Effect the Nations Energy Policy

Somewhat Reasonable - November 13, 2014, 11:06 AM

Jay Lehr, The Heartland Institute’s science director is optimistic concerning the ability of the new Congress to prevent major new bad environmental and energy legislation from passing.

Lehr also believes, with new Republican majority in the Senate and a larger majority in the house, positive legislation, like the Keystone XL pipeline approval can get passed.

Listen for his assessment of prospects for environmental and energy progress in the lame duck session of Congress and in the coming years.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Nina Burleigh – Midterm Election Reactions

Somewhat Reasonable - November 12, 2014, 4:06 PM

Jim Lakely, communications director at The Heartland Institute, talks with journalist, author, and American”European socialist” Nina Burleigh about various topics including the results of the midterm elections, the economy and politics in general. Jim and Nina, who disagree about everything, became cordial email pen pals in 2011 based on the ability to have a civil discussion about Obamacare.

In the discussion, Burleigh says she is disappointed with the result of the election, but is hopeful about the future of the Democratic Party. Burleigh says Democrats took a misstep by running away from President Obama’s record when they could have pointed toward the recovering economy.

The conversation continued into the topic of politics and money in elections. Burleigh says the amount of money going into the elections is detrimental to the democratic process. Lakely, however, responds by pointing out the massive amount of money Tom Steyer poured into the campaigns fell on deaf ears when global warming failed to be an important topic during the midterms.

Listen to that, and more, in the player above.

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