On the Blog

The Sky Fell last month, but almost nobody noticed.

Somewhat Reasonable - July 10, 2014, 11:35 AM

The sky fell on Hawaii last month, all because carbon dioxide levels peeped above the much-hyped 400 ppm hurdle. Chicken Littles all over the world squawked into their friendly media megaphones about numerous imminent global warming disasters. One warned: “the fate of the world hangs in the balance.” (Similar alarms were rung when the 350 ppm level was passed).

But nobody else noticed anything scary.

Four pieces of well-established evidence say that 400 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not a concern.

Firstly, there has been no increase in global temperatures since 1998 despite 16 years of rising carbon dioxide levels and heavy usage of carbon fuels. Clearly, CO2 is not the main driver of global temperatures.

Secondly, the ice core records show clearly, with no exceptions, that all recent ice ages have commenced when the atmosphere contained relatively high levels of carbon dioxide. The temperature fell first, and then carbon dioxide levels fell. This proves that high carbon dioxide levels do not guarantee a warm globe, but could suggest that they may be a harbinger of a coming ice age. Ice will cause far more damage to the biosphere than the even the worst warming forecast.

Thirdly, current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are not extreme or unusual. Carbon dioxide reached 2,000 ppm in the luxuriant era of the dinosaurs, and ten times current levels (4,000 ppm) when the great Devonian coral reefs were flourishing. There is no tipping point into runaway global warming, or we would have tipped eons ago.

Finally, current carbon dioxide levels are just above starvation levels for plants. All vegetation would grow stronger, faster, and be more drought resistant and heat resistant if carbon dioxide levels trebled to 1,200 ppm. Such levels are no threat to humans – US submarines operate at up to 8,000 ppm for cruises of 90 days. Topping 400 ppm should be a cause for celebration – it shows that Earth is emerging from the cold hungry years of the ice ages.

Climate Cassandras have blown false trumpets once again.

Categories: On the Blog

The Pied Piper of Permisos

Somewhat Reasonable - July 10, 2014, 11:33 AM

It’s beginning to sink in with the intelligentsia: The flood of illegal aliens (yes, I said “illegal”) and particularly the tsunami of children traveling alone — parents risking their youngsters’ lives by sending them from Central America through gang-ravaged Mexico — threatens to turn the immigration debate into a major political liability for Democrats in November.

While immigration is typically low on the list of issues Americans care most about, it was to be a trump card for the left in turning out otherwise apathetic or demoralized Hispanic and liberal voters four months from now. But, as seems to be the result of almost every Obama administration policy, reality is blowing up the best laid plans of the DNC.

As liberals are wont to do, their responses to the collapse of their one potentially winning issue fall into two main categories: demonizing critics of the president and others who are troubled by current events along our southern border and trying to change both the direction and actual words of the conversation about the problem. The latter is a particular sign of desperation.

Murrieta, California, a city of just over 100,000 people in Riverside County, was the site last week of protesters waving American flags and blocking buses transportingillegal aliens who had been apprehended illegally crossing the border into Texas. They were being moved to California because of overcrowding of Texas holding facilities. Not least due to health concerns, residents of Murrieta wanted no part of it.

In the last six months, over 52,000 mostly Central American children have been caught at the border. The estimated cost of taking care of them is $252 per child per day, with a total cost to American taxpayers of over $2 billion expected for 2014.

CNN’s Candy “I’m here for you, Barack” Crowley interviewed Murrieta mayor Alan Long on Sunday using language that should be journalistically disqualifying: “As you look at these protests, the overwhelming concern did not seem to be ‘Oh my goodness, the poor children.’ The overwhelming concern seemed to be ‘Go away. Not here.’”

The problem with Ms. Crowley’s attempt to reframe the question as a purely humanitarian one is twofold: First, there are real costs to American taxpayers and burdens on our law enforcement system that may be allowing criminal elements to “flood the zone” and infiltrate violent lawbreakers into the U.S. while Border Patrol agents are busy playing babysitter.

Second, Crowley’s approach is nearly identical to the mindset behind President Obama’s 2012 implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy which all but invited the current flood of children into the country; the moral hazard cannot be overstated, even by those (like me) who support increased legal immigration into the United States.

The macro impacts of making the conversation about “the poor children” would be, first, to redouble the number of Central American parents willing to risk their children’s lives (albeit in the hope of bettering those lives) to get them across our border and, second — and this was the goal all along — eventually to create many more Democratic voters. Republicans, even those who favor reform, shouldn’t take the “it’s for the children” bait, and they’re not.

Candy continued: “Are you at all rethinking the idea that a town can turn away busloads of children without documents who are heading to a federal processing center?” Again, to the Obama protectors the children — for whom we should all have real sympathy — are little more than a moral and charitable obligation of Americans.

But they are simply not that. They are a cost, a burden, a risk, and fundamentally the responsibility of their parents, not of Americans. And they are, like it or not, because they are “without documents” which are required to enter the United States, illegal aliens.

But, argues leftist commentator Sally Kohn, you can’t use the “i-word” because doing so is as un-American as using the “n-word” for blacks or the (other) “f-word” for gay men. According to Kohn, “That those terms seem radically inappropriate and out of step with mainstream culture now is only because social movements and legal and political changes have shifted the landscape.” It’s hard to disagree with her on the use of terms that have no purpose or meaning other than to insult, degrade, and diminish blacks, gays, Jews, or any other group.

But “illegal,” contrary to Ms. Kohn’s overwrought assertions, is not in the same category as “n**ger.” It is a statement of fact about the status of the person, one designed to clarify or amplify the alien’s status under the law rather than to cast the person as inferior. No doubt some people use the term “illegal alien” with derision. No doubt some people who object to their presence within our borders do so out of xenophobia or what is frequently called “racism” (even though most Hispanics are Caucasians).

But not most of us. And that’s why their arguments are failing.

Americans are not buying what the left is selling, the myth that many or most of those who recognize illegal aliens as illegal aliens do so out of malice. Rather, even for those (again, like me) who support immigration reform that increases legal immigration into the United States, the recognition of the magnetic power of an implicitly open border — and the relative sophistication of those who game loopholes in our laws (since children from Central America are treated differently from adults and differently from Mexican children) — makes absolutely plain what most Democrats don’t want to admit: controlling the border is a necessary first step in any conceivable immigration reform.

An added liberal non-admission: President Obama has yet another massive policy failure on his hands.

Crowley and Kohn are therefore desperate to change the conversation with the latter asking, “Even if you don’t support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, can’t you find some compassion for them as human beings who live on the same planet?” Sure I can, Sally, but that’s well down the list of priorities when it comes to making sound public policy.

But then sound public policy is not the left’s goal. Increasing the size of government and the number of Democratic voters is.

And therefore, liberal partisans and pundits must attempt to make the conversation about us, about “incredibly offensive” Americans using the “i-word” to describe people here illegally, about “nativists” whose only goal is to “dehumanize” people whose first language isn’t English and who have better tans than I do.

But it just isn’t working.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday says that 46 percent of Americans believe that the Obama administration’s policies have “prompted the flood of illegal immigrant children at the border, and most want them sent back home right away.” Thirty-one percent disagree. Even prior to the news of this flood across the border, more than half of Americans believed that “the government is not aggressive enough in deporting illegal immigrants”; only 14 percent think Obama has been too aggressive.

“Immigrant rights” groups — which is to say organizations aiming at fleecing taxpayers while eroding the rule of law — frequently complain that the Obama administration has been too aggressive in its deportation policies. And the administration is trying desperately to have it both ways, to portray itself as both pro-immigration and strong on enforcement.

However, like all “data” from this government, claims of diligent enforcement of immigration law is somewhere between misleading and untruthful: studies of government data show large declines in deportations in recent years. Furthermore certain removals are now being classified as deportations even though they would not have been reported as deportations in prior years — thus goosing Obama’s credibility of being strong on border security. (Why the administration would either want or expect to have credibility given their political goals and allies remains unclear.)

The willingness to lie about everything from a Syrian red line to what counts as “enrolled” in Obamacare to every aspect of the immigration debate explains why Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) amusingly ruffled the feathers of David Gregory, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, by saying the show’s tag line should be, “If it’s Sunday, it’s another administration official making stuff up on Meet the Press.”

While support for immigration has been trending higher during the Obama presidency and while Americans still believe by roughly a 2-to-1 margin that immigration “on the whole is a good thing for this country,” the support fordecreasing immigration levels into the U.S. has increased substantially in just the last four months; current events on the border will only exacerbate that trend.

When it comes to immigration (and presumably everything else Obama has failed at), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is “really getting fed up with some of the critics of this administration, particularly from House Republicans.” But the Senate’s “comprehensive” immigration reform bill is fundamentally flawed; both because of the policy and the politics, House Republicans are right to ignore it and insist on one-step-at-a-time reform. They are also obviously correct to mistrust President Obama’s commitment to enforce any duly passed law. Given Obama’s consistentlawlessness, a view that “I just don’t trust him to secure the border” is entirely reasonable. Mix in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s unrebutted suggestion that President Obama doesn’t “particularly care” whether the border is secure, and add a dash of thin-skinned Obama’s “so sue me” and you have the makings of a bitter political stew for Democrats.

Liberals were hoping to belittle the view of the president as unreliable and use Republican “obstructionism” on immigration reform to gin up their base in November’s elections. It was already a heavy lift given how disappointing this president has been (even to many liberals) and because immigration consistently polls near the bottom of any list of issues when voters are asked about the most important problems facing the country. Still, the left was hoping to raise the significance of immigration policy in voters’ minds — and some pro-reform Republicans shared that hope though for different reasons.

To the extent that immigration is now more “front of mind” than in recent memory — thanks to images of busloads of illegal immigrant children traveling without their parents — it can only hurt Democrats election hopes in November along with the chances for any policy reform no matter how modest, at least while this man remains president.

No amount of trying to change the language, trying to demonize critics of Barack Obama or those who accurately use the term “illegal” to describe people crossing our border illegally, will help Democrats heading into November’s critical elections. And while liberal talking heads do their best to obfuscate the utter failure of yet another Obama policy, some Democratic politicians are speaking the truth.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) speaking to the very same Candy Crowley moments after her shameful performance with the mayor of Murrieta said, “With all due respect to the administration, they’re one step behind. They should have seen this coming a long time ago.… There is an incentive [to send a child here].”

Cuellar also voiced support for changing the 2008 human trafficking law that provides the loophole for Central American children who can make their way illegally into the United States. A Republican House member will propose such a bill in coming days. President Obama himself suggested such a change but the Los Angeles Times reports a senior Senate Democratic staffer as saying that Obama “can’t get it passed” because of Democratic opposition.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will do everything possible to avoid putting vulnerable Senate Democrats in the position of having to cast that vote, not least because he wouldn’t want it to pass. It’s about time for the Democrats to form their own circular firing squad, typically the exclusive formation of the GOP.

And so, with the message becoming impossible even for Team Obama to ignore, the White House, turning the tables on Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’snon-answers on Sunday, announced on Monday that “most of these kids… will not have a legal basis for remaining in this country and will be returned.”

From a policy and moral hazard perspective, it’s a good start. However, the current situation in which Central American children are not immediately deported represents the unusual spectacle of the Obama administration actually following current law. Prejudging whether courts will in fact return “most of these kids” to their countries of origin is foolhardy and smacks of “unlawful command influence,” which has caused trouble for this big-mouth president in the past. The president is in a box of his own construction. Republicans have no interest in helping him out of it and the president’s own remarkable lack of comity with congressional members of his own party leaves him precious few allies, particularly going into an election in which many Democrats, if offered the chance to have President Obama campaign with them, are saying “thanks, but no thanks.”

From a political perspective, the Democrats’ hoped-for trump card of immigration is now being played against them — and against much-needed immigration reform more broadly — with great effect.

The cynical Barack Obama, facing the humanitarian and political crisis of thousands of hungry children for whom he has played the Pied Piper of Permisos, has no one to blame but himself.


[Originally published in the American Spectator]

Categories: On the Blog

ICCC Panel 11 – Climate Change, Human Health, and Adaptation

Somewhat Reasonable - July 10, 2014, 11:14 AM

Panel 11 of the 9th International Conference on Climate Change was on the subject of “Climate Change, Human Health, and Adaptation.” The panel was primarily concerned about how climate change, and government responses to it, might affect the quality and extent of human life in the future.

The featured speakers in this panel were Dr. Craig Loehle, Dr. John Dale Dunn, and Myron Ebell. These three panelists argued that the negative health effects touted by the IPCC and the federal government are not realistic and that the real threat people face is regulatory overreach.

In his talk, Dr. Loehle, an ecologist, asks the question at the beginning of his talk: “Will warming increase disease?” This is what the IPCC and the Obama administration’s 2014 Climate Assessment Report contend. But is that the case?

Contrary to the IPCC narrative, Loehle argues that an historical survey of the diseases in question will reveal that warming is not so great a threat as is believed. He explains that most diseases have been fought by improvements in infrastructure and general welfare, not environmental.

In the case of malaria particular, Loehle challenges some of the prevailing narratives. The contention of the IPCC and various public health organizations is that increased temperatures will increase mosquito populations, warm the water and increase the incidence of flooding. Loehle says that malaria is not prevalent because of temperature, but because of other factors. Indeed, he says that malaria was endemic in Russia and Scandinavia until very recently.

The defeat of malaria in the Western world was thanks in large part to elimination of standing water, particularly in rain barrels, in favor of piped water. By denying mosquitoes their breeding grounds near humans, the disease was eradicated. Loehle suggests that the same could be accomplished in the developing world by focusing on economic development over environmental issues. He also favors the widespread use of DDT to control mosquito populations.

Dr. Dunn, a physician, carries the torch of public health further in his presentation. He contends that warmer temperatures tend to be better for humans, as their cardiovascular and circulatory systems tend to be overtaxed in winter. He points to the fact that deaths in winter are 10% higher than in summer. Climate change may thus provide some positive public health benefits to people.

Myron Ebell turns the panel toward the subject of regulations and other responses to the perceived threats of climate change. Ebell argues that the dominant paradigm in which the issue of climate change is viewed is misguided, saying that, “We should not be talking about mitigation of climate change. We should be talking about adaptation to environmental change and environmental challenges.”

Ebell shows particular concern for the Obama administration’s plans to beef up the EPA and policies that will radically increase the scope of the Endangered Species Act. As government projects will be required to take into account climate change impacts before being undertaken, and as “habitat corridors” are carved out of the nation’s landscape, individuals’ freedoms look sure to be curtailed.

The problem with regulations of such a sweeping sort as the Obama administration is rolling out is that they do not allow for much nuance, and invariably stifle the economic development that is at the core of America’s prosperity. It does not seem like the administration realizes the full extent of the damage it might do to the economy. We can only hope they wise up before it’s too late.

Categories: On the Blog

ICCC Panel 17 – Peer Review, Herding, and the Reliability of Climate Science

Somewhat Reasonable - July 10, 2014, 9:12 AM

Panel 17 of the 9th International Conference on Climate Change was on the subject of “Peer Review, Herding, and the Reliability of Climate Science.” Anyone interested in the way science is actually conducted and the problems with the prevailing peer-review system can find a lot of interesting material in the discussion.

The featured speakers in this panel were Dr. Patrick Michaels, Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, and Dr. Tim Ball. These three scientists spoke on the problems and distortions in the scientific profession of which laymen are frequently unaware.

In his talk, Dr. Michaels asks the question at the beginning of his talk: “Why do scientists herd?” In other words, why do scientists attach themselves to a set of beliefs or positions and defend them even in the presence of conflicting evidence?

Michaels answers this question by explaining what scientific communities actually are, namely “communities of self-interested, self-reinforcing people.” Scientists are not disinterested parties. They have ideologies and reputations to defend, and that sometimes means defending the positions they have spent careers building up.

Michaels went on to describe the growth of “big science” and the “myth of science as a public good.” He describes the Manhattan Project as the birthplace of these two phenomena in which was seen the “complete socialization of the relevant scientific community.” With the phenomenal success of the Manhattan Project, the federal government decided that the arrangement could be repeated in peacetime with all of the sciences.

The result of all of this was a new funding regime in the sciences, in which the government became the primary funder of research through the nexus of universities. Michaels contends that this arrangement is what has promoted the statist attitude of university professors.

Further problems with the way science is done are highlighted in the presentation of Dr. Boehmer-Christiansen. An avowed socialist, she still sees the inherent problems in a scientific funding regime, whether public or private, that expects researchers to produce the results it desires. The desire to retain funding for research means scientists experience an impetus to “massage” their results to suit their funders.

Dr. Ball examines another problem in the world of science, namely that laypeople are not plugged into the scientific process or the biases that twist it. For the majority of the public,” Ball says, “science is of no consequence whatsoever.” When people do not care to be informed about issues, the problems are allowed to fester.

The important lesson to take from the panel as a whole is that science is not a disinterested endeavor. It has as much personality and politics as any profession. It is essential that informed citizens understand that and allow that understanding to inform their interaction with the scientific community.

Categories: On the Blog

Why Countries Must Pay Their Debts

Somewhat Reasonable - July 10, 2014, 9:00 AM

Debt is an issue that affects countries all over the world. Almost all countries are in debt as their governments take loans to cover for variations in their tax receipts. Yet while many developed countries such as Greece and Ireland are increasingly facing debt crises of their own, the effect of such debt is not nearly as crippling as it is for developing nations.

Many countries have, over the past few decades, sought debt restructuring from the IMF and other international institutions, and others have sought outright cancellation of their debts, such as Mexico in 1982 and 1994, Russia in 1996, Argentina in 2001, and Hungary in 2010.

Normalized Debt Forgiveness

Debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries in the wake of the 2005 Gleneagles Summit has made such cancellations seem acceptable in the course of international affairs. As a result of this, as well as a result of rapid economic growth in the developing world, debt as a percent of gross national income has fallen significantly

Yet debt remains a persistent problem in many countries. Headlines have been grabbed in recent weeks by Argentina’s most recent rumbling about debt repayment. A recent U.S. federal court ruling, which was then upheld by the Supreme Court, instructs Argentina to repay its American creditors. Argentina’s president, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, has accused the U.S. government of being unfair, and even extortionate.

The case of Argentina reveals the problem with debt forgiveness: it gives the perverse incentive to governments to run up debts they know they will not have to pay. America should stick by its guns and ensure the repayment of its loans.

Perverse Incentives

People are more irresponsible when they do not face the consequences of their actions. The same is true of states. When a state is not liable for the risks it takes, it has an incentive to increase its risk. This is the case in debt cancellation. When the developing country does not have to pay off its debt, it has no reason to concern itself with spending loans effectively; if things get bad they can simply have their debt forgiven.

This problem was made abundantly clear among financial firms during the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the ensuing global financial crisis; firms felt an incentive to grow so large that their governments would feel compelled to bail them out in the event of a crisis. When the crisis came, states felt compelled to bail out these irresponsible firms. Thus the incentive is always to take on greater amounts of debt, because the more a firm or state takes on the less able they are to service it, and thus the more likely they will require cancellation.

The moral hazard problem causes the further perverse incentive for elites within countries to allow their people to suffer as a means of expediting acknowledgment by the creditor countries that they cannot possibly pay off their debts. It is pure folly to allow countries to renege on their lawfully accrued debts.

The Domino Effect

When one state, or group of states, is awarded a debt cancellation, fear of similar provisions being made for other states may be aroused in investors. This will lead to panic and movement of investment funds from developing world economies, which are already considered relatively more risky, to safer investments in the developed world.

This phenomenon is analogous to the flight of capital from countries defaulting on debt, although the effect is admittedly less extreme in this case as the cancellation is being overseen by other sovereign states and international institutions. Nevertheless, fear over investments will drive up interest rates in developing countries that have accepted debt cancellations and in those that are suspected of seeking one. This can drive countries that may not have considered themselves in need of a cancellation to seek one in light of reduced foreign investment.

National Responsibility

A country can only be accepted as a mature and active member of the society of nations if it can behave like one. When developing countries go hat in hand to the developed world, and often their former colonial masters, they reaffirm a tiered international system and their subordinate place within it.

When states fail to pay off their debt, they lose a great deal of international prestige. Spain, for example, in the 16th century, was a major world power. After it defaulted on its debt in 1520, it never succeeded in regaining that status as a major player, always being consigned to the role of minor power that could not even be trusted to handle its internal finances responsibly.

By paying off their debts, however painful such payments may be in the present, not having to kowtow to creditors ensures their independence and engenders respect, rather than pity or contempt in a country’s neighbors. Default breeds contempt.

Developing countries must resolve their internal corruption and organizational problems that prevent them from effective development. In the case of Argentina, Ms. Kirchner must accept responsibility for her government’s profligacy and quit acting like a petulant child.

Categories: On the Blog

Climate Realists Reach a High Mark at Latest Heartland Conference

Somewhat Reasonable - July 10, 2014, 2:49 AM

On Wednesday night, The Heartland Institute brought to a close the 9th International Conference on Climate Change at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. By universal acclaim from the 600-plus attendees, sponsors and speakers, this one was the best ever.

If you missed any of it, you can view the “instant archive” from our live stream here. (Just scroll down from the now-ended “live stream” and click on the links on the titles below.) Proper “archival” videos of every one of the scores of panel presentations and keynotes will soon be available at Heartland’s YouTube channel.

Some highlights from the keynote presentations:

Patrick Moore and John Coleman Awards to: Patrick Moore and E. Calvin Beisner. (Program begins at the 3-minute mark.)

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Dr. Patrick Michaels and Hon. George Christensen, a member of the Australian Parliament; awards to: Tom Harris and Alan Carlin (Begins at the 1-minute mark)

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Lord Christopher Monckton; awards to Fred Singer and Christopher Monckton. (Program starts at the 1-minute mark.)

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream<

Joe Bastardi and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher; awards to: Sherwood Idso and Willie Soon

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Dr. Roy Spencer and Dr. Jay Lehr; awards to Art Robinson and Roy Spencer

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

There is so much more. Do check it out.

Categories: On the Blog

Twenty 9-0 Supreme Court Rulings Against – Obama Prepares Even More Power Grabs

Somewhat Reasonable - July 09, 2014, 12:27 PM

Unanimous Supreme Court rulings are certainly noteworthy.  When a case lines up every single Justice – appointed by Democrats and Republicans both – the decision must be unbelievably clear cut.

Nine-to-nothings don’t happen very often.  The ever-overreaching Barack Obama Administration, however, is in historic fashion racking them up.  And they ain’t in its favor.

So there is bipartisanship in Washington – against this Administration.

When even the two Justices you just appointed – Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – are voting against you, just how far from the Constitutional path have you strayed?

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz is no stranger to cases before the Court – though his record is more than a little better than the Administration’s.  And he has compiled the list of the unanimous-es against Administration over-action.

Obama’s 20 Unanimous Supreme Court Losses

Twenty – in under six years.  There should in fact have been more, what with all the fundamental transforming going on.  But that’s still a lot.  And it doesn’t fully capture the breadth of the Administration’s rebukes.

“This tally does not capture all of the Obama Administration’s losing arguments, as it does not include unanimous rejections for more governmental power made in the Obama Administration’s friend-of-the-court (amicus) briefs supporting non-federal parties, which would put the Obama Administration’s losses much higher,” Cruz wrote.

Some of these 9-0 rulings have rejected Obama’s overreaches in the Technology Sector – the latest frontier for the Fourth Amendment.  Here is but one 9-0 – but frighteningly close – call:

United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012):

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sought the right for the government to attach a Global Position System device to a vehicle and monitor its movements without cause, unsuccessfully arguing that the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure, does not extend to electronic tracking devices.

…Thus, according to DOJ, police could attach a GPS to a car and monitor its movements in public without a search warrant or any cause to believe a crime would be committed.

Why does this sort of Administration Tech Sector overreach sound familiar?

Court Strikes Down FCC Net Neutrality Rule

The court (unanimously) noted that the FCC simply lacked the authority to impose those kinds of regulations….

Oh yeah.  And why does that sound familiar?

Court: FCC Has No Power to Regulate Net Neutrality

Panel of three federal judges unanimously tosses out Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality sanctions…, saying the agency has no legal authority….

Oh yeah.  But is that stopping them?

FCC Plans to Issue New ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

Of course not.  Twice bitten – not shy.

And to fundamentally transform America – you have to steamroll a lot of states.  But in another pesky unanimous Supreme Court decision:

Arizona v. United States, 132 S. Ct. 2492 (2012):

In Arizona v. United States, DOJ tried to take away states’ rights to create their own laws on the basis that the federal government had different…priorities.

So why then is the Administration saying this?

State Laws That Ban Municipal Internet Will Be Invalidated

But can the FCC preempt all 20 state laws that limit public broadband?

Given the Arizona v. United States decision – it doesn’t look like they can.

But as we’ve seen time and time again, this Administration never allows facts – or the laws of the land, or the Constitution – to get in the way of a good beating.


Originally published at RedState.

Categories: On the Blog

Misguided Beliefs in Political Leaders

Somewhat Reasonable - July 09, 2014, 10:22 AM
This is an election year and as in all past election years we are inundated with promises and proposals from candidates, each hoping to attract our votes. For the most part what they are promising is “leadership” and political solutions to our personal, social and economic problems. They almost always fail to remind us, however, that in the political arena there is nothing they can do for us unless they have coercive power over us.

We need to remember that whenever political leaders undertake to “guide” America it always means a reduction in our freedom to peacefully solve our own problems and improve our own lives as we think best. Rather than each of us having the autonomy to decide what matters to us, those in political control make us all march to a single government drummer.

More Government Means Less Freedom

Are the American people to be guaranteed government-provided or subsidized health care? The only way government can do this is to tax some members of society to cover the full costs of providing it to the targeted beneficiaries, as well as prohibiting under threat of fine and/or imprisonment all attempts to choose one’s one preferred medical service and insurance.

Is government to guarantee every “working American” a decent living through a higher minimum wage? There is no way for government to impose this than by denying individuals under the threat of penalty and imprisonment the freedom to peacefully and voluntarily agree among themselves at what remuneration one person shall hire the labor services of another.

Will government undertake management of “climate change” both with in the United States and around the world? How can the political authorities even attempt to do this – however impractical and impossible – other than by abridging people’s rights to determine the use of their own property in matters of production and the pricing of goods and services they offer to the consuming public.

Besides which, whatever significant environmental problems that may be confronting the world are invariably the results of earlier government regulations over the marketplace, as well as infringements on private property rights that normally serve to limit people’s legal ability to damage others in society. Recognized and enforced private property rights minimize the negative spillover effects of one person’s actions on the property and well being of another, and all without heavy-handed government oversight and control.

Political Control Equals Fewer Personal Choices

Are various selected industries and trades to receive special protection and support from tariff walls against foreign competition, or subsidies to maintain domestic prices and stimulate foreign sales? Then American consumers will pay higher prices for the goods they wish tobuy and have less money to spend in ways that would have been available on an unhampered free market. Government, and not the free choices of buyers and sellers on an open, competitive market, then influences and directs what is offered to consumers and under what terms.

Are the youth of America to be provided with “better education” through greater government involvement in determining school standards, curriculum, and testing around the country? Then parents and children will have even fewer personal choices concerning the content and quality of education, as a government-imposed guidebook of regulations emanates from Washington, D.C., and the state capitals.

Government Commands Require Obedient Individuals

Often the imagery conjured up with the concept of “leadership” is that of the military. The leader is the commander in charge not merely of rallying but also of directing the troops to attain “victory” over a common enemy. A single strategic plan is designed and imposed on the rest of us through a chain of command.

But the very notion of such leadership implies subordination and obedience. What you or I may want must be made subservient to what the political leaders have decided for us. Unlike the totalitarian systems of the last century, such subservience in contemporary America does not involve the direct heavy-handed use of brute police power—at least not in most instances.

It is done in the United States and most Western countries more lightly through taxation, regulations, and legal prohibitions or mandates. Also, there is not one overarching central plan, as used to be imposed in the former Soviet Union. Rather there is an intricate web of different political plans, each the result of the corrupting and often contradictory interactions of politicians, bureaucrats, and special-interest groups in the modern interventionist state.

The Hubris of the Political Power-Lusters

But the fact remains that practically all those politicians running for office are selling themselves as leaders into whose hands we should place some corner of our life, since they assure us that they can take care of us and our problems better than if we tried to handle them ourselves.

Friends of freedom have long warned of the dangers from ceding authority over such matters to political leaders. Adam Smith’s words ring as true today as when he wrote them in The Wealth of Nations more than two centuries ago:

“The statesman, who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals [wealth and resources], would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which can safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”

Concerning how to apply his time, resources, and energies, Adam Smith said, “Every individual, it is evident, can, in his local situation, judge much better than any statesman or lawgiver can do for him.”

In more recent times Adam Smith’s warning has been echoed by the Austrian economist and Nobel Laureate, F. A. Hayek, who warned of the “pretense of knowledge” on the part of those who wish to direct the affairs of society.

And the German free market economist, Wilhelm Röpke, long ago lamented the “hubris of the intellectuals,” who arrogantly presume they know enough to redesign the social order. We need to remember that the people who offer themselves to us at election time are mere mortals like ourselves. They possess no special wisdom, no Olympian powers that provide them with capacities above the “common man,” whom they claim to want to represent in political office but in reality over whom they wish to rule and command.

Political Parents and the Perpetual Citizen Child

Candidates motivated by various forms of collectivist ideology assume that when men are free, outcomes will be undesirable and that only government can set things right. These candidates view themselves as the political parents who must oversee the citizen-children (the rest of us), who perpetually are never grown up enough to be free and responsible adults.

But whether they are guided by ideology or simply a baser desire for the power that political office can provide, the reality of politics in the modern interventionist state is that “leaders” use their authority to advance special interest plundering at the expense of the rest of society.

To continue with the metaphor, these office holders are in fact abusive political parents who hurt and manipulate many of the citizen-children in their “care” to benefit themselves and favored groups that help maintain them in office. They then use various propaganda devices to persuade the abused citizen-children that it’s all being done for their own good. And, alas, too many of our fellow citizens fall victim to this psychological manipulation and cannot imagine a world without political parents who watch over and “care” for them.

In the free society – in which government is confined to the essential but limited functions of protecting life, liberty, and honestly acquired property – politicians and bureaucrats have no assigned “leadership” role. Their function is far more modest, though a useful one: seeing that each of us is left free from violence and fraud to direct his own life, as he considers best and most fulfilling.

Freedom means for each of us to be “captain of his own fate” and not to be a docile subordinate waiting for those in political authority to decide his fate for him. Indeed, those who advocate political leadership to get the nation moving, to steer it in the right direction, or to impose government cures on supposed social ills at home and abroad are the gravediggers of liberty.

The Real Political Question: Liberty vs. Power

That is why we must always beware, and most especially in election years, of those who offer themselves as our political leaders. Their triumphs mean more nails hammered into the coffin of freedom.

The friends of freedom must remind their fellow citizens that the only fundamental political question in any election is whether or not those running for political office unswervingly declare their allegiance to the philosophy of individual rights to life, liberty and property and its accompanying social system of free market capitalism?

It they do declare such allegiance, then such candidates may be worthy of the citizen’s vote on election day, and if elected they should be constantly challenged to practice the principles of freedom and limited government that they preached when running for political office.

Otherwise, we shall continue down the dangerous path of political paternalism and plunder that ends with neither freedom nor prosperity.


Categories: On the Blog

The Idiocy of “Environmental Justice”

Somewhat Reasonable - July 09, 2014, 10:21 AM
A news item in late June caught my eye. It was in the Washington Free Beacon and the headline was “EPA spends $1.6 million on hotel for ‘Environmental Justice’ conference.” The event will occur in the fall and the location is the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. By its own description, it is located “Just one mile from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, this Arlington hotel features a chic lobby and indoor swimming pool. Rooms come with 37’’ HDTVs and plug-in connectivity panels.” A room for one night will cost approximately $349. The EPA is booking 195 of them for 24 nights! The environmental movement began as the conservation movement. Its early leaders were concerned about preserving our great forests and other landmarks. President Teddy Roosevelt was enthusiastic about that and used his powers to initiate national parks and reserves. These days, however, Clinton and Obama used those same powers to close off access to vast energy reserves. So what is “environmental justice”?  According to the EPA, it is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” In other words, it is another justification for the EPA’s existence. But there’s more. “It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.” Aside from the fact that you can attend the next zoning board meeting in your town or city, this is just sheer rubbish. By what level of insanity can the EPA achieve the “same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards…”? Can it protect Midwesterners from tornadoes? The Gulf and East Coasts from hurricanes? What is its policy regarding blizzards in the winter or droughts in the summer? None of this has anything to do with “justice.” How does the EPA propose to ensure that “everyone enjoys the same degree of protection”? Answer: It cannot. So, instead, it devotes its time to punishing a landowner who gets local permission to build a pond on his farm, but who did not also check in with the Corps of Engineers. On July 2, the EPA put a notice in the Federal Register asserting the right to “garnish non-federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts own the United States without first obtaining a court order.” ( Emphasis added) That is a definition of tyranny and lawlessness that defies the protections afforded by the Constitution. Along with the global warming hoax, the term “environmental justice” comes out of the early 1980s where the liberal loonies saw it as a new social movement to ensure, according to Wikipedia, “the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.” As John F. Kennedy famously said, “Life is not fair.” Everyone’s life depends in part on the cold reality of numerous factors over which they had or have no control, and choices they made regarding their lives. Some might think that EPA’s spending $1.6 million on luxurious hotel rooms where their “Environmental Justice” conference is held is “unfair”, especially if the cost of attending is being picked up by the taxpayers. Again, Wikipedia: “Environmental justice advocates frequently make the argument that minority populations disproportionally undertake or are subjected to environmentally hazardous activities because they have few economic alternatives and/or are not fully away of the risks involved.” The Green ideology of environmentalists blinds them to reality and the reality is that we are all born into different levels of wealth, different lifestyles, and different challenges, but we are all born in a nation where studying hard in school, hard work and a positive outlook can help us achieve as much as we aspire to. America is the home of millions of success stories. The environment has nothing to do with social issues of poverty, race, or sex with which Greens want to associate it. Joseph Bast, the president of The Heartland Institute, opened its ninth International Conference on Climate Change earlier this week by noting that “In Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. federal government spent $22.5 billion on ‘global warming.’ It spent $200 billion over the past twenty years. By one estimate the world is spending $1 billion a DAY on projects that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for global warming alarmism.” When one contemplates how such an exorbitant expenditure could have funded the building and repair of U.S. highways and bridges, how it could help equip our nation’s military, or how it could help provide housing for the poor, the global warming/climate change agenda of the EPA and other U.S. agencies is an obscenity. The EPA should be eliminated and its functions returned to the individual states, all of which have their own departments of environmental protection. At the very least, we would save billions. Originally published at Warning Signs. 
Categories: On the Blog

Garth Brooks in Ireland: A Tale of Bureaucratic Insanity

Somewhat Reasonable - July 09, 2014, 10:06 AM

A cautionary tale about the pitfalls of bureaucratic incompetence played out in Ireland over the last several days. American country music star Garth Brooks was scheduled to play five concerts in the Croke Park arena, one of the largest venues in the country. In all, 400,000 tickets were sold. That is an astonishing number, considering Ireland’s population is just under 4.6 million. Close to one in ten citizens was planning to attend!

Everything was going ahead smoothly until a few residents in the area around Croke Park filed a complaint with the Dublin City Council citing a rule buried in the statute books that special events could not run more than three concurrent nights. Rather than try to make an exception, the unelected city manager initially stated that two of the nights would have to be cancelled. This decision was obviously unpopular with the more than 100,000 people who were put out by the bureaucratic decision. It was also unpopular with Garth Brooks and his crew.

When confronted with the mandate to truncate his shows, Brooks responded by saying he preferred to do all five or none. This statement threw not only the Dublin city government into turmoil, but the whole national government as well. This may seem like an extreme reaction over a concert, but when bureaucracy scuppers the desires more nearly 10% of your population, you have a reason to get involved!

Even with the leaders of all the major political parties lining up behind an effort to allow the performances to go ahead, the city manager upheld the rule. Garth Brooks has since cancelled all five concerts, as he promised. One hired bureaucrat scuppered the whole show!

The cost of this unmitigated bureaucratic madness is estimated at 50 million euro ($68 million). For a cash-strapped country just coming out of a grueling recession to spit in the face of so much income is just crazy. It seems like a lot of Irish people are also aghast at the ineptitude of the political class to deal with what ought to have been a simple problem to resolve.

The lesson to be learned from the sorry Garth Brooks affair is that allowing any bureaucracy to develop and entrench itself to the point where the elected representatives of the people have no power to challenge its decrees is not only anti-democratic, it is directly harmful to people’s lives. Rules and regulations are like plaque in the body of the economy. Only by cleaning them out can it hope to survive. Hopefully this case will serve as a wake-up call to Ireland and as a cautionary tale for other countries as well.

Categories: On the Blog

ICCC9 Panel 6 – The Right Climate Stuff

Somewhat Reasonable - July 09, 2014, 9:39 AM

The 6th Panel of the International Conference on Climate Change was based around three men who worked with NASA. The group called, The Right Climate Stuff, focused on the actual facts and data related to the climate change debate. This information filled panel is a can’t miss for ICCC9.

Thomas Wysmuller – Tide Gauges/Satellites; Different Measures – Same Ocean! Will the REAL Sea-Level Please Rise???

The first speaker of this panel was Thomas Wysmuller who worked for NASA for five years. Wysmuller started his speech with a picture of Manhattan partially under water stating this “will never happen.” He reassured the audience that the projected rate of sea-level rise was falling incredibly short of the predictions. The rise in the sea-level that has been measured is miniscule and can be attributed to other factors.

One example, stated by Wysmuller, is the fact that some of these sensors that are detecting water rising are placed in areas where skyscrapers are being built. These large buildings are in effect pushing the land down ever so slightly. Another interesting factor examined by Wysmuller is the flaws in satellite measurement. He explained that when the atmosphere is heated up by solar activity, orbital degradation occurs. This means the satellites that are measuring the sea-levels fall lower slightly which causes errors in the readings.

Dr. Hal Doiron – On Bounding GHG Climate Sensitivity

Former engineer with NASA Dr. Hal Doiron was the second speaker in this panel. Doiron used many statistics to explain the errors often cited when discussing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Doiron discusses how we will never see a rise in CO2 levels that would threaten life on earth. These levels would have to exceed  6-8 thousand ppm to be considered harmful to humans. Doiron predicts earth will peak around 600 ppm in the next century.

Walter Cunningham – The Global Warming War

The last speaker in this panel was American astronaut Walter Cunningham. Cunningham tackled the logical flaws seen in many alarmists’ arguments. He started off by stating the sun and orbit are the principle drivers of our climate. Another example explained by Cunningham is the correlation fallacy. He showed the flaw in this by showing a graph that showed a strong correlation between UFO sightings and ocean temperatures. These data points were correlated and also completely meaningless.

Cunningham said this global warming war is being fought on many fronts. He said we are winning the battle on the scientific front but losing on the media, public and political front. To counter this, we have to improve our communications. Cunningham said the best way to persuade others is by saying, “look at the empirical data.”

To see Panel 6 in its entirety, Click Here.

Categories: On the Blog

ICCC9 Panel 3 – Combating Climate Myths with Science Facts

Somewhat Reasonable - July 09, 2014, 9:06 AM

Day Two of the 9th International Conference on Climate Change was stacked with qualified speakers discussing a wide range of subjects relating to global warming. Panel 3, titled “Combating Climate Myths with Science Facts, featured three speakers, Tom Harris, Anthony Watts and James Taylor. These three men spoke about the causes of the hysteria that swirls around the topic of climate change and how to push back against it.

Tom Harris – Expanding the Tent of Climate Realism

Tom Harris of ICSC started the panel off by talking about the ways to convince people of the truth about global warming. He warned that simply poking fun at key figures like Al Gore will win nobody over from that side. He said the best way to “convince people to be sensible” is to use logical reasoning. He explained that it is silly to invest massive amounts of money to solve a hypothetical problem in the future when it could be used to help people today.

For example, Harris mentioned that we spend $1 Billion a day on climate finance. According to the information available, 94% of that money is used to mitigate the effects of global warming in the future while only 6% is used to help people here and now. Harris said we can appeal to more people when we explain that we are letting people starve today in order to possibly help a future problem.

James Taylor – Check the Source!

The second speaker in this panel was The Heartland Institute’s own James Taylor. Taylor discussed ways to battle against the unfounded claims that are often cited by climate alarmists. He said we must simply check the facts. When debating about global warming topics, Taylor said that alarmists make claims that often go unchallenged. This can be very harmful. Taylor said, “The facts are available to everybody.”

When climate change is talked about in the media, it is regularly stated that storms are getting stronger, forest fires are getting more frequent and crop yields are falling. When these stats are checked, they are found to be untrue. Taylor said that when we check the facts we are looking under the hood of these claims; and when we check under the hood, we find there is no engine.

Anthony Watts – Digging Deep – Beyond Science by Press Release

Anthony Watts, from the website Watts Up With That?, was the final speaker of this panel. This information filled talk explained the difference between the real science and what is covered by the media. Watts mentioned that pieces of information are skewed to add shock value to a segment. “Overly exaggerated presentation of research findings” are used to grab viewers attention while non-attention grabbing information is ignored.

Watts said we can help minimize this by challenging the claims that are reported. He said when we come across a claim that is misleading or skewed, we should go to the source with our concerns. This will help prevent the information from continued manipulation from its original form.

To watch the panel in its entirety, Click Here.

Categories: On the Blog

More taxpayer dollars for green energy?

Somewhat Reasonable - July 08, 2014, 4:47 PM

There is an intentional tension in Washington. Our founding fathers planned that opposing views would balance each other out—a push-pull takes place. Spend. Don’t spend.

This tug-of-war is seen, perhaps most obviously, in the so-called renewable energy field. After Solyndra, and the more than fifty other stimulus-funded green energy projects that have failed or are circling the drain, the public has grown weary, and wary, of any more spending on green energy. The money isn’t there to spend and the motive behind the 2009 rush to push billions of taxpayer dollars out through the Department of Energy has been tainted by corruption and illegal activity.

The green-energy emphasis was sold as a job creator for unemployed Americans, as a cure for global warming, and a way to fix a perceived energy shortage. It sounded so positive in the many speeches President Obama gave.

Today, Americans know better.

Watching multiple predictions fail and proponents get rich, Americans instinctively know that the whole global warming agenda doesn’t add up—as evidenced by this week’s International Conference on Climate Change where more than 600 “skeptics” from around the world gathered to discuss what the real data shows.

With headlines heralding: “North Dakota has joined the ranks of the few places in the world that produce more than a million barrels of oil per day,” people know there isn’t an energy shortage. And America’s new energy abundance is on top of our rich reserves of coal and uranium that can provide for our electrical needs for centuries to come.

Yet, the White House keeps pushing the green-energy narrative and, on July 3, 2014, “The Energy Department Just Announced $4 Billion For Projects That Fight Global Warming,” as the headline reads at ThinkProgress.org.

Simmering just below the headlines is the push-pull over the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Wind energy that expired at the end of 2013.

On June 26, wind energy proponents—including pages of signatories who benefit financially from the tax credit—sent a letter to the top Congressional leaders urging them to “support the immediate passage of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.”

On the other side, citizens, like Mary Kay Barton of New York, are sending their elected federal representatives letters asking them not to support a PTC extension as proposed in EXPIRE. She sent a letter to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and he sent one back to her.

Schumer opens: “Thank you for writing to express your opposition to tax credits, and subsidies for alternative energy. I share your opposition to unsuccessful and unnecessary subsides.”

He then goes into a long paragraph about his effort to put an “end to subsidies for huge oil companies” and brags about being a “cosponsor of S.940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would roll back huge subsidies and tax credit for large oil companies.” Green energy supporters, such as Schumer, like to mix the terms “subsidies” and “tax credits” with “tax deductions”—when they are completely different. A subsidy, or loan guarantee, and tax credit involves taxpayer dollars being doled out—or taxes not collected—to incentivize a favored activity. This is not how America’s oil-and-gas producers are treated. They do, however, receive tax deductions—like any other business—that allow them to write of losses and the cost of doing business against income. Additionally, as the New York Times, in a story about corporate tax rates, reported last year: “Large oil companies typically pay high rates.”  It shows that the average tax rate among companies is roughly 29 percent, while “large oil companies” are paying 37 percent and utility companies that “benefited from the 2009 stimulus bill, which included tax breaks,” have an “overall” rate of 12 percent.

In response to Barton’s letter about ending the PTC for industrial wind, Schumer continues: “I believe that it is necessary to balance our country’s increasing energy needs with the need to protect the environment. We must also focus on renewable energy and energy conservation in order to meet our growing energy demands. According to one study, if the U.S. increases its efficiency by 2.2 percent per year, it could reduce foreign oil imports by more than 50 percent. Such actions would not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil but would also safeguard the environment.”

Barton told me: “You’ll note that Senator Schumer seems to think that subsidies for wind energy (electricity) will somehow ‘reduce foreign imports,’ and then references increasing ‘efficiency’ in response to a letter about inefficient, unreliable wind?” She’s picked up on one of my favorite soapboxes: we could cover every available acre with wind turbines and solar panels and it would do nothing to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” or increase America’s energy independence. Wind and solar produce electricity and, through our coal, natural gas, and uranium supplies, we are already electricity independent. We import oil to fuel our transportation fleet.

As the fight over the PTC points out, wind energy cannot survive without the tax credits.

It is time for everyone who opposes government intervention in markets to contact his or her representatives—as Barton did—and voice opposition to the PTC extension. Call and say: “Stop supporting wind energy. It is an inefficient system that leads to perverse outcomes. The massive expansion of wind energy that we’ve seen in the past six years would not survive on a level playing field.”


The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.



Categories: On the Blog

Holding Greenpeace accountable

Somewhat Reasonable - July 07, 2014, 11:20 AM

Fossil fuel and insurance company executives “could face personal liability for funding climate denialism and opposing policies to fight climate change,” Greenpeace recently warned several corporations. In a letter co-signed by WWF International and the Center for International Environmental Law, the Rainbow Warriors ($155 million in 2013 global income) suggested that legal action might be possible.

Meanwhile, the WWF ($927 million in 2013 global income) filed a formal complaint against Peabody Energy for “misleading readers” in advertisements that say coal-based electricity can improve lives in developing countries. The ads are not “decent, honest and veracious,” as required by Belgian law, the World Wildlife ethicists sniffed. Other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) make similar demands.

These are novel tactics. But the entire exercise might be little more than a clever attempt to distract people from developments that could create problems for thus far unaccountable Big Green organizations.

I don’t mean Greenpeace International’s $5.2 million loss a couple weeks ago, when a rogue employee (since fired) used company cash to conduct unauthorized trades on global currency markets. Other recent events portend far rougher legal and political waters ahead for radical eco-imperialists, especially if countries and companies take a few more pages out of the Big Green playbook.

India’s Intelligence Bureau recently identified Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security,” noting that these and other groups have been “spawning” and funding internal protest movements and campaigns that have delayed or blocked numerous mines, electricity projects and other infrastructure programs vitally needed to create jobs and lift people out of poverty and disease. The anti-development NGOs are costing India’s economy 2-3% in lost GDP every year, the Bureau estimates.

The Indian government has now banned direct foreign funding of local campaign groups by foreign NGOs like Greenpeace, the WWF and US-based Center for Media and Democracy. India and other nations could do much more. Simply holding these über-wealthy nonprofit environmentalist corporations to the same ethical standards they demand of for-profit corporations could be a fascinating start.

Greenpeace, WWF and other Big Green campaigners constantly demand environmental and climate justice for poor families. They insist that for-profit corporations be socially responsible, honest, transparent, accountable, and liable for damages and injustices that the NGOs allege the companies have committed, by supposedly altering Earth’s climate and weather, for example.

Meanwhile, more than 300 million Indians (equal to the US population) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. 700 million Africans likewise have no or only occasional access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people (nearly a third of our Earth’s population) still lack electricity or must rely on little solar panels on their huts, a single wind turbine in their village or terribly unreliable networks, to charge a cell phone and power a few light bulbs or a tiny refrigerator.

These energy-deprived people do not merely suffer abject poverty. They must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in debilitating lung diseases that kill a million people every year. They lack refrigeration, safe water and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that send almost two million people to their graves annually. The vast majority of these victims are women and children.

The energy deprivation is due in large part to unrelenting, aggressive, deceitful eco-activist campaigns against coal-fired power plants, natural gas-fueled turbines, and nuclear and hydroelectric facilities in India, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere. The Obama Administration joined Big Greeen in refusing to support loans for these critically needed projects, citing climate change and other claims.

As American University adjunct professor Caleb Rossiter asked in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Where is the justice when the U.S. discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a ‘global warming’ tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?”

Where is the justice in Obama advisor John Holdren saying ultra-green elites in rich countries should define and dictate “ecologically feasible development” for poor countries? As the Indian government said in banning foreign NGO funding of anti-development groups, poor nations have “a right to grow.”

Imagine your life without abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and transportation fuels. Imagine living under conditions endured by impoverished, malnourished, diseased Indians and Africans whose life expectancy is 49 to 59 years. And then dare to object to their pleas and aspirations, especially on the basis of “dangerous manmade global warming” speculation and GIGO computer models. Real pollution from modern coal-fired power plants (particulates, sulfates, nitrates and so on) is a tiny fraction of what they emitted 40 years ago – and far less harmful than pollutants from zero-electricity wood fires.

Big Green activists say anything other than solar panels and bird-butchering wind turbines would not be “sustainable.” Like climate change, “sustainability” is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. To them, apparently, the diseases and death tolls are sustainable, just, ethical and moral.

Whatever they advocate also complies with the “precautionary principle.” Whatever they disdain violates it. Worse, their perverse guideline always focuses on the risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – coal-fired power plants, biotech foods or DDT, for example – might cause, but ignores risks the technology would reduce or prevent.

Genetically engineered Golden Rice incorporates a gene from corn (maize) to make it rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent blindness and save lives. The rice would be made available at no cost to poor farmers. Just two ounces a day would virtually end the childhood malnutrition, blindness and deaths. But Greenpeace and its “ethical” collaborators have battled Golden Rice for years, while eight million children died from Vitamin A deficiency since the rice was invented.

In Uganda malnourished people depend as heavily on Vitamin A-deficient bananas, as their Asian counterparts do on minimally nutritious rice. A new banana incorporates genes from wild bananas, to boost the fruit’s Vitamin A levels tenfold. But anti-biotechnology activists repeatedly pressure legislators not to approve biotech crops for sale. Other crops are genetically engineered to resist insects, drought and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and allowing farmers to grow more food on less land with less water. However, Big Green opposes them too, while millions die from malnutrition and starvation.

Sprayed in tiny amounts on walls of homes, DDT repels mosquitoes for six months or more. It kills any that land on the walls and irritates those it does not kill or repel, so they leave the house without biting anyone. No other chemical – at any price – can do all that. Where DDT and other insecticides are used, malaria cases and deaths plummet – by as much as 80 percent. Used this way, the chemical is safe for humans and animals, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes are far less likely to build immunities to DDT than to other pesticides, which are still used heavily in agriculture and do pose risks to humans.

But in another crime against humanity, Greenpeace, WWF and their ilk constantly battle DDT use – while half a billion people get malaria every year, making them unable to work for weeks on end, leaving millions with permanent brain damage, and killing a million people per year, mostly women and children.

India and other countries can fight back, by terminating the NGOs’ tax-exempt status, as Canada did with Greenpeace. They could hold the pressure groups to the same standards they demand of for-profit corporations: honesty, transparency, social responsibility, accountability and personal liability. They could excoriate the Big Green groups for their crimes against humanity – and penalize them for the malnutrition, disease, economic retractions and deaths they perpetrate or perpetuate.

Actions like these would improve billions of lives and bring some accountability to Big Green(backs).

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.


Categories: On the Blog

LIVE STREAM for Skeptics: 9th International Conference on Climate Change

Somewhat Reasonable - July 07, 2014, 10:27 AM

If you could not join the hundreds of scientists, policy experts, and interested citizens in Las Vegas this week for The Heartland Institute’s 9th International Conference on Climate change … you are still in luck.

The entire conference is being streamed live!

Visit the conference website to watch, starting at 7:45 p.m. PDT today, and through the close at 4 p.m. PDT Wednesday.

Click here for the schedule. Click here for a list of speakers. Click here for a list of award winners.

And CLICK HERE to watch the live stream.

Categories: On the Blog

For the Love of the Weather

Somewhat Reasonable - July 07, 2014, 10:11 AM

I will be in Las Vegas for the 9th International Conference on Climate Change July 7-9. I enjoy attending these because everyone I come in contact with is someone I can learn from. My father and mother taught me to surround myself with people I could look up to. I adapted that attitude in my training, in my work, and in the person I married. And when I go to these events, I am in awe of the people I get to talk with. I bring some of them up quite often in these pages.

One has to be careful, given the situation today, to not let your reasons for doing what you do stray. I often feel bad for a lot of people in the anthropogenic global warming camp. How can they possibly walk back their position? It’s the reason why, no matter what metric goes the other way, they either ignore it or create a reason they never had before because they did not forecast it to happen. But what else can they do? Look at the people from their camp that have started to disagree. They are chastised and demeaned. There is a simple reason: Their goal, whatever it is – be it self-esteem, money, power, control, or all of the above – is their god. It’s what they are forever in pursuit of. And when it becomes your god, you can not defy it.

I constantly analyze anything that is important to me. (I drive my wife nuts. If I have a bad workout, or get a cold, or anything, I have to figure out why it happened.) And I always analyze my motives. For years I felt like Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire. This line hits me hard because I know exactly how he feels:

I’m forever in pursuit and I don’t even know what I am chasing.

I try to be more like Pastor Eric Liddle, the other character of prime importance in the movie. To paraphrase: God made me for a purpose, but he also gave me a love for the weather. And I see his majesty in it every day.

So what strikes me most about the Heartland Conference is that I am with people that are in love with weather, climate, and their country, and many of them have loved these longer and stronger than I have.

For me, above all, my stances on global warming are a product of my love for the weather. There is no goal for me. It’s about having another chance to do what I was made to do. And somehow, when I’m with people who I sense have the same ideas, it makes me stronger and more able to run toward what I was made for.

As one gets older, one can get tired. But only when your heart gives out does your strength give in. For me, all this is an affair of the heart.

Its for the love of the weather.

Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

Originally published at The Patriot Post. 



Categories: On the Blog

Opening Remarks by Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast at the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change

Somewhat Reasonable - July 07, 2014, 8:10 AM

LAS VEGAS — Below are the prepared remarks by Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast to open the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change on the evening of July 7, 2014 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

The conference runs from 7:45 p.m. PDT tonight until 4 p.m. PDT Wednesday, July 9. You can view the entire conference via the live-stream at the conference websiteClick here for a full schedule, click here for a list of speakers, and click here for list of publicly announced award recipients.

For more information about the conference, or to schedule an interview with one of the speakers, contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org or via cell phone at 312/731-9364.




Good evening! Welcome to the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change.

Thank you for the introduction, James. James Taylor, a Heartland senior fellow and editor of Environment & Climate News, once again recruited most of the speakers for this conference, so a big round of applause, please, for him.

We will hear from some 64 speakers from 12 countries, 13 if you count the Moon as a country and figure Walter Cunningham can claim residence there, 14 if you think Washington DC is its own planet.

Scientists, economists, and policy experts from around the world are skeptical about the claims of global warming alarmists, not just those here in the U.S.


And it isn’t just The Heartland Institute in the U.S. that thinks the threat of man-made global warming is being over-blown. This year’s ICCC is cosponsored by 32 organizations –  their names have been scrolling on these screens while you were eating. Many of them agreed to pay $150 and some even more to help us offset the cost of hosting the conference and sponsoring awards to some outstanding individuals.

In particular, I would like to recognize and thank the Media Research Center, Cornwall Alliance, Science and Environmental Policy Project, Heritage Foundation, Competitive Enterprise Institute, CFACT, and the George C. Marshall Institute, for their help.

Please give all the cosponsors a big round of applause.


Speaking of funding and for the record, except for $150 from the Illinois Coal Association and another $150 from Liberty Coin Service, a great little coin shop in Lansing, Michigan, owned by my old friend Pat Heller, no corporate money was raised for this conference. And no, not a nickel from the “Koch brothers.”

About the conference

This conference will have panels featuring prominent scientists discussing the latest physical science such as the Apause@ and the failure of models to predict it, the IPCC=s fifth assessment report and NIPCC=s Climate Change Reconsidered II, polar ice caps, and much more.

Also on the program are economists and policy experts explaining the social BENEFITS as well as the social COSTS of fossil fuels, the futility of spending trillions of dollars attempting to stop uncertain and perhaps unknowable climate changes a century from now, and the need to repeal the bad energy policies and other policies that were adopted at the peak of the global warming scare and are now understood to be unnecessary, costly, and counterproductive.

You will also hear from bloggers, meteorologists, elected officials, and some of the most effective public speakers on earth about how to communicate the truth about climate change in a world in which most people are content to believe in climate change, rather than understand it.

This is a scholarly conference that many professional scientists are attending, and the speakers are prepared to handle their tough questions. But it is also entertaining and a little provocative, because unlike many alarmists, skeptics can take a joke.

Some speakers can’t help themselves but make fun of such leading proponents of global warming alarmism as Al Gore, Prince Charles, John Kerry, and even our new climate-scientist-in-chief, President Obama.

We have an Austrian rapper who going to entertain us tonight with a remarkable song he wrote about global warming following dinner tonight. It’s not a full-fledged Broadway play, but then again, we didn’t get $700,000 from the National Science Foundation to pay for it.

Missing from the program this year are any prominent global warming alarmists. We wish to debate those who disagree with us, but once again none of the alarmists we invited to speak showed up to defend their faith. So tomorrow’s headline may read “Global Warming Skeptics Refuse to Debate Their Opponents.” It’s not our fault. It’s hard to have a debate, over even a civil conversation, when the other side refuses to show up.

The Heartland Institute

This conference is a project of The Heartland Institute’s Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, which produces an ambitious program of research and educational projects in defense of free-market environmentalism. The world needs voices devoted to sound science and market-based, rather than government-based, solutions to environmental problems. The Heartland Institute helps find and amplify those voices. The nation’s air and water quality, the safety of its food, and the health and productivity of its forests all depend on bringing the best-available science and economic research to bear on protecting the environment.

We have brought together a team of leading scientists and economic experts to participate in the production of books — including four volumes in the Climate Change Rconsidered series, produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change — plus policy studies, videos, a monthly public policy newspaper, events like this one, and other educational activities.

If you aren’t already a donor and supporter of The Heartland Institute, I hope you’ll decide to become one over the next three days. More information and donor forms are on your table.

Theme for ICCC-9

As some of you know, we devoted a lot of effort to coming up with a theme for this year’s conference. This conference is scholarly but also a little entertaining and provocative. It offers contributions by scientists, economists, public policy experts, and professional communicators, and the audience includes all of the above plus elected officials, grassroots activists, and (it seems) about 1,000 retired engineers.

How to capture all that in a few words? I solicited ideas from a network of interested folks, and got an amazing number of suggestions, not all of them appropriate. Some of my favorites, though, in alphabetical order, were:

A lie repeated is still a lie

Beyond alarmism

Beyond the IPCC

Climate science vs. climate consensus

Climate change for dummies: A primer for Gore, Kerry, and Obama

Earth to Man: I barely notice you


Flogging a dead horse

And that was just some suggestions starting with the letters A through F!

We settled on “don’t just wonder about global warming, understand it!” I think that captures in just a few words the key difference between alarmists and skeptics in the global warming debate.

Alarmists see what they believe, while skeptics believe what they see. Alarmists think every change in the weather is evidence of a human impact on climate, and a human impact is necessarily bad. They believe only government can solve big problems, and man-made climate change would be the biggest problem ever discovered.

Skeptics believe what they see. They look at the data and see no warming for 17 years, no increase in storms, no increase in the rate of sea level rise, no new extinctions attributable to climate change, in short, no climate crisis. They ask how that could be, since humans obviously emit massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and affect climate in other ways, such as through agriculture, coastal development, and damming rivers.

They study the data – not the models, which just assume much of what is unknown – and come to understand climate They conclude – many of them, anyway — that climate is a chaotic system that makes reliable long-term forecasts impossible, that natural variability swamps whatever effect humans might have, and that trying to control the weather by controlling how much carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere is folly, plain and simple.

That’s what I’ve come to understand to be the truth about climate change. One of the neat things about global warming skeptics is that they seldom agree on anything, so I dare not speak on behalf of anyone else. But I think most skeptics would say this is pretty close to it.

Climate Science Awards

Global warming has been called the most important public policy debate of our age. Those who believe in man-made global warming call for draconian reductions in the use of fossil fuels that would destroy millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth, and impoverish millions of people. Rather than defend the science behind their cause, global warming alarmists typically claim “the debate is over” and demonize their critics.

Global warming “skeptics” question whether the scientific debate is truly settled and ask for real data to support the claims of the alarmists. For this, they have been viciously attacked in the press, by politicians (including President Barack Obama), and on countless blogs and Web sites.

Some of the world’s most distinguished scientists, such as S. Fred Singer, Frederick Seitz, Sherwood Idso, Richard Lindzen, and Freeman Dyson, are global warming skeptics. They have been accused of dishonesty, incompetence, and worse.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. federal government spent $22.5 billion on “global warming.” It spent $200 billion over the past 20 years. By one estimate, the world is spending $1 billion a DAY on projects that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for global warming alarmism.

All this spending has created a global warming industry that marginalizes, demonizes, and sometimes outright attacks the thousands of scholars and other professionals willing to speak out against a popular delusion. Scientists, economists, journalists, politicians, civic and business leaders – have had their careers ended or ruined by daring to speak truth to power.

The voices that ordinarily would speak out against crimes against free speech – we used to call them liberals, or free-thinkers — are silent, either because of ignorance, ideological bias, or financial conflicts of interest.

Seven organizations have stepped forward to nominate award recipients and organize the award ceremonies to honor the brave men and women willing to speak out against global warming alarmism. Two of these awards will be presented tonight.

These awards deliver long-overdue recognition and encouragement to their recipients.

They also increase public awareness of the global warming realism movement and send a signal to the academy and other elite institutions saying if they won’t recognize our heroes, we will.


Categories: On the Blog

It’s Time to Ratify the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty

Somewhat Reasonable - July 05, 2014, 1:26 PM

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) outlaws the testing of nuclear weapons. So far, 183 countries signed the treaty, but it cannot become a binding international law until it has been ratified by all states capable of developing nuclear weapons, of which there are 44 specified in the treaty. Of these states, three (India, Pakistan, and North Korea) have not signed the treaty, and a further six (China, Egypt, Israel, Iran, and the United States) are yet to ratify it.

The United States signed the treaty in 1996, as soon as the language was agreed upon, but the Senate rejected it by a tiny margin. While the idea of the CTBT is quite simple, implementation is immensely complex. One of the greatest concerns of the treaty, and of the international community, is with monitoring countries so as to verify their compliance with the ban. To this end the treaty sets up the International Monitoring System (IMS), a network of hundreds of scientific facilities spread across the globe that monitor seismic activity, radioactive fallout, atmospheric noise and oceanic waves to pick up evidence of a nuclear explosion. If the IMS detects a suspected nuclear test then an on-site inspection can follow.

The treaty does not detail the action that would be taken against a state that has broken the treaty, but the Charter of the United Nations does empower the Security Council to take “appropriate steps”. Although the treaty has not yet come into force, most of the IMS is now in place and working.

President Obama has consistently stated that he is in favor of reducing nuclear proliferation. He even received the Nobel Peace Prize for his speeches on the matter. Yet he has done little to materially change America’s position on nuclear weapons. In a dangerous world, nuclear weapons are a necessary component of the American defense. However, it is also in America’s interest that the world’s supply of nuclear weapons be kept within controllable bounds.

It is time for Obama to pursue the CTBT. It is time for the Senate to ratify the treaty.

Fighting Proliferation

Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons ever created and it is right that they should be limited; something that the test ban treaty will be a step towards. An internationally ratified treaty comprehensively banning the testing of nuclear weapons would serve to hamper attempts by countries currently not in possession of nuclear weapons from acquiring them. This is particularly important in the cases of Iran and North Korea. Iran is getting closer and closer to having a working weapon and North Korea already have simple nuclear weapons. These countries’ possession of such weapons can only serve to diminish security in the world and the security of the United States.

Of course, a country could just develop a nuclear weapon without testing, but little faith can be put in a weapon that is entirely untested; all countries that currently possess nuclear weapons conducted tests. A comprehensive and internationally ratified treaty against testing would serve as an important signaling device to countries considering developing nuclear weapons. Just as a taboo has formed around the use of nuclear weapons due to international accords denouncing their use, so too would a ban on testing generate a norm against it.

Countries rely on their reputations in international relations; states will fear loss of credibility should they be seen flouting the ban, either by testing weapons themselves or by supplying materials to countries seeking to perform tests. Some politicians and commentators say that rogue nations do not care at all about how they are perceived. But all countries rely to some extent on reputation to engage in international affairs. Most states do not like being pariahs, especially when that status carries with it heavy political and economic sanctions. The United States could leverage international law in such a way as to further deter nuclear testing in potentially hostile countries.

Trust, But Verify

Scanning and detection technology has become so advanced in recent years that it is virtually impossible for a country to detonate a nuclear device without it being detected. Compliance with the treaty can be monitored through the means of seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound, and radionuclide monitoring. The technologies are used to monitor the underground, the waters and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion. The monitoring network consists of 337 facilities located across the world. The system is so sensitive that it was able to detect the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia. Furthermore, the treaty’s system of inspection will reveal any suspicious activity regarding testing.

Clearly, efficacy in terms of determining who might be testing weapons is not an issue. When countries are found to be violating the CTBT, heavy political and economic sanctions can be imposed that will serve to force countries back into compliance with the treaty. A ratified CTBT gives a greater power to the world’s democratic powers, the United States in particular, to take action against those states that would develop nuclear weapons. Ratification would give a much greater moral justification to a decision to take economic or political action against

Securing America’s Interests

Some countries have been reticent to sign the CTBT for fear it would limit their ability to either expand or to begin their nuclear arsenals. The United States stands as one of the only such non-ratifiers, in the company of such countries as Iran, China, and North Korea. The United States fears the limiting of the ability for it to defend itself with nuclear armament. However, in reality the United States will benefit politically and militarily by ratifying, and the world will be benefited by a greater chance for peace without nuclear proliferation.

American accession would benefit the United States politically by increasing its credibility as a responsible international player with a respect for international law. Often America is viewed by the rest of the world as a cowboy pursuing its own aims and only paying lip service to the international community’s opinion. If the United States were to show a degree of respect to international law, particularly through signing CTBT, it will be more able to gain support from other countries for its goals.

If the Senate ratifies the treaty, it will encourage other states to sign, such as China, which has said that its signature is contingent upon that of America. American involvement in the CTBT, and the Chinese involvement expected to follow from it, will give the treaty far greater weight, and will generate greater obedience to it, as countries recognize that it is binding on all states, not just the weak.

Nothing to Lose

From a military standpoint, the United States has nothing to lose from signing as it may still retain its present nuclear stockpiles, as well as to develop new delivery and guidance systems, provided they are not tested with live nuclear warheads. Also, it has much to gain, as the ratification of the treaty will prevent other states from developing nuclear weapons, keeping the club of nuclear powers small and influential. Clearly, it is in the interest of the United States to sign the treaty, in order to benefit not only itself, but also the international community.

As Barack Obama’s presidency approaches its final decline, he should be considering what he can call his legacy. Fulfilling the mission for which he was prematurely given the Nobel Prize might go some way to restoring him in the eyes of history. And maybe that gold medal could be placed on his mantelpiece without shame.

Categories: On the Blog

OTC Birth Control: Your Body, Your Choice, Your Responsibility

Somewhat Reasonable - July 04, 2014, 1:43 PM

Yesterday’s narrow Hobby Lobby decision shows why the culture war isn’t over – it’s just getting started. The reality is that in the absence of the ability to compel employers to pay for things over their religious objections, and at a time when covering 16 forms of birth control out of 20 is culturally insufficient, the Obama administration will be more than happy to turn to the traditional method of the left: skipping the middle man of the employer and just handing people other people’s money.

So because some people cannot be compelled to pay for their employee’s IUDs, Plan B, and Ella, everyone will be compelled to pay for it. It renders the whole argument over deeply held religious beliefs a cute sideshow: if employers can’t be forced to pay for it, all taxpayers will. Congratulations on retaining your personal image of faithfulness while sticking the rest of us with the bill.

That’s one of the reasons why support for making birth control available over the counter is rising on the right and the left. There are a number of objections to this, but I find them to largely amount to unconvincing paternalism. The chief argument advanced is that standard oral contraceptives mess with hormones and have all sorts of side effects. This is, of course, true! But: dangerous side effects are rampant within all sorts of other over the counter drugs. Women can think for themselves and make decisions with their doctor and pharmacist about what drugs they want to take – and the evidence shows they are good at self-screening. In fact, it would actually increase the ability to mitigate and respond to unanticipated side effects, since changing tracks will no longer require a doctor’s visit and getting a new prescription. Assuming that women won’t or can’t take responsibility for themselves to consult with a doctor unless required to by arbitrary government policy is absurd.

It’s obvious why libertarians like the idea of OTC birth control. Conservatives should like it because it removes the responsibility for redistributive payment from themselves while demonstrating that yes, they really aren’t about banning things or preventing access to birth control. And liberals should like it because it will lower the drop-out rate, which is currently largely driven by the requirement to re-up the prescription as much as every few months. The American College of OB-GYNs supports it, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner support it, most of the world already has it, and making it official policy would lower prices, lower health care costs, and make consumers more cost conscious. All of these are good things.

Now, some liberals won’t be satisfied by this OTC solution in the absence of the overall contraception mandate, because it would only address the challenge with oral contraceptives, not IUDs. In her dissent, Justice Ginsberg pointed out the high cost of IUDs as reason why employers need to cover the cost. But I suspect that making a policy change which addresses concerns about contraception’s availability for the vast majority of people will really take the energy out of that push, just as an honest case against Hobby Lobby (that they just didn’t want to pay for things that can prevent the implantation of a living embryo – two morning after pills and two implants – versus preventing the creation of that embryo in the first place) would’ve aroused a far less aggressive opposition to their stance. I think those on the left who prioritize this issue know this, too.

Social conservatives who can see the writing on the wall with the over the counter availability of Plan B – a supercharged version of the low-dose contraceptive hormone, now available via vending machines on college campuses, and which sexually active teenagers (which is to say: teenagers) are already using as an abortifacient substitute for the daily pill – should know that they’re not going to get this horse back in the barn. The question becomes whether you will have to pay for other people’s choices in violation of your religious beliefs. Here, I think the OTC solution is not just viable, but leads people to the logical conclusion they ought to have about birth control policy: your body, your choice, your responsibility. People don’t naturally assume that over the counter drugs should be available for free: they think they should be able to buy them.

I’d encourage social conservatives who oppose this idea to rethink their opposition. Otherwise, birth control and abortifacients are simply going to become the name we give to the things we choose to buy together.

Subscribe to Ben’s daily newsletter, The Transom.


[Originally published at The Federalist]

Categories: On the Blog

Pro-Market Parties on the Rise in Europe?

Somewhat Reasonable - July 04, 2014, 10:47 AM

This summer’s elections to the European Parliament, the legislative body of the European Union, marked a radical swing against the greater centralization of power in the hands of Eurocrats in Brussels. A great many of the Euroskeptic parties that had big wins were the French National Front and the British United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Other Euroskeptic parties on the continent, in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece, and elsewhere, also made out quite well. It was a wake-up call to many European leaders who had been complacent and tried to label Euroskeptics as fringe or extremist. The performance of UKIP in particular, which beat all three mainstream parties in the election, made those labels ridiculous.

The victory was not, however, for any sort of universal ideology. Indeed, the far left and far right in Europe tend to converge when it comes to the issue of Europe. It is rare that an avowedly pro-free market party like UKIP would be making common cause with Syriza, the radical leftist party of Greece, yet they share a similar vision when it comes to the EU: it is undemocratic and thieves the political power from sovereign states.

It cannot be denied that there is a certain unsavory flavor in many of the resurgent Euroskeptic parties. This has as much to do with their histories as with their current policy prescriptions. The National Front of France, for example, has long had a deep animosity toward immigration, not just as an economic issue, but as a racial one. Marine Le Pen, the head of the party, has made an effort to alter the language of the party to be more appealing to a mainstream French audience, but many remain skeptical of the National Front’s intentions when it comes to the treatment of minorities.

UKIP has suffered from similar concerns. For years the party was tarred with the same brush as the British National Party, a quasi-fascist organization known for its quite overt racism. Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP and a member of the European Parliament, has made a huge effort in the past few years to alter the party’s message to a more libertarian, free-market, anti-EU line. He has kept a largely anti-immigration platform, but his basis tends toward economic justification. He has even expelled members of the party who made racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

The association, whether real or imagined, between the more free-market and libertarian political movements in Europe with racist undertones has served to taint their message in the public sphere. UKIP and its ilk will only break into the real mainstream by cleansing themselves once and for all of those sentiments and that dark legacy.

UKIP represents a certain glimmer of hope in this regard. There remains a sentiment among many Britons that the rank-and-file UKIP members retain many of the racially charged sentiments that once made the party a political pariah. It will take more than the party leader repudiating such sentiments to truly convince Joe England. Yet the work has clearly begun. While much of the support UKIP saw in the EU election may have been the product of protest voting against the mainstream, it will take more to translate that public discontent into seats in the national Parliament. If that challenge can be met, there may be a bright future for free-market ideology in the UK, and in Europe.

Categories: On the Blog
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