The VA (Veterans Administration) scandals show why so many people have been so highly motivated for so long to fight against Obamacare. That is because of the perfectly rational fear that Obamacare will end up doing to the entire American health care system what the VA has done to health care for America’s veterans.
Many have already commented that the VA system is actually pure socialized medicine. The government doesn’t just pay for health care or health insurance under the system for our nation’s veterans. The government actually builds and owns the hospitals and their clinics, and hires the doctors and nurses, who serve as government employees. The government then finances the operation of these facilities, actually providing the health care directly itself. Those eligible for VA benefits then go to these government facilities to get their health care.
This is basically how the notorious British National Health Service (NHS) operates. I say notorious because the National Health Service is famous for running a strict rationing system, with the government determining who gets what health care and when, and deciding who gets told when its time to go home and die. In my 2011 book, I suggested that Britain’s National Health Service is probably responsible for the deaths of more British subjects than the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. But a thorough study would be necessary to document that.
The NHS does not do this out of malevolence. It does it because when the government is dispensing free health care, there must be some means to control costs. With no market prices, incentives, or competition to control costs, the only choice is for the government to decide when the money train stops at the station to let some off. Ironically, a system originally adopted supposedly so everyone could get health care becomes an institutionalized means for deciding when some shall be denied health care.
The British people accept the cold, calculating, health care rationing of the NHS because of a social belief that it is necessary for everyone to get health care. That is deluded because market competition and incentives will work in health care the same as for everything else. But when social mores prevent anyone from questioning the status quo, and alternatives from being considered, the people and the society suffer. That is essentially the same social process more generally which left many societies around the world stagnant with no economic growth for centuries going back to the Dark Ages. British health care could ultimately be liberated by starting social experiments with Health Savings Accounts, which would teach eye opening social lessons.
America’s VA, with all market prices, incentives and competition excluded from the system, operates with similar health care rationing. The VA is given a “global budget” each year that it can spend for health care for our nation’s veterans and no more. With no prices or competition for anyone in the system to weigh costs against benefits, the only way total costs for essentially free health care can be kept within that budget is for the VA bureaucracy to deny health care through some form of rationing. That is primarily accomplished within America’s social mores with long wait times for the free VA health care granted to veterans, effectively denying or at least stretching out health costs.That is why Larry Kudlow is so right when he says in his May 23 column, “The VA problem is not Shinseki, it’s socialism.” That is why America’s VA operates like the socialized medicine systems of Great Britain, Canada, and continental Europe, with long delays for the sick to obtain necessary health care, and other bureaucratic means of reducing access to quality care to control costs (again without consumer choice and market competition to control costs, there must be some means to control costs). These problems are so serious that at dozens of veterans are now documented to have suffered premature deaths due to lack of health care, and the full scope of the problem may involve the same for many more.
The problem is not inadequate spending on the VA, which socialist Democrats are trying to argue. As John Merline reported in Investor’s Business Daily on May 20, from 2000 to 2013, VA spending nearly tripled while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million. Moreover, as Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute reports, 344,000 veterans’ care claims are now backed up and waiting to be processed. But it takes 160 days, almost half a year, for health benefits approval. For those who have to appeal a decision, the wait is 1,598 days, or more than four years.
Forbes’ own Avik Roy in his thorough May 23 column explains how America fell into the VA experiment with socialized medicine. The roots of the VA go all the way back to 1827, before the modern American health care system had even developed. So the federal government itself had to establish homes for disabled military veterans, and facilities to provide the more rudimentary health care of the time.
By the end of World War II, the VA was responsible for a burgeoning veterans population including aging veterans from World War I as well. This population swamped the available health care at the time. So the VA undertook the burden of sharply expanding the supply of hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities. From 1930 to 1947, the number of VA hospitals more than doubled, from 54 to 120. Today, the VA maintains and operates 153 hospitals, and with 300,000 mostly medical employees, it is the second largest department of the federal government.
But America’s private health care system is all grown up now, and the best in the world, by far in my opinion, in providing critical health care to the sick. Just consider premature babies, and the miracles America’s health care system achieves with those born less than a foot long, and less than a pound in weight. No other country even really tries to save these most vulnerable newborns today. But in America they now almost routinely are saved to grow up and lead normal lives. Or compare the health care and survival and recovery rates of America’s seniors with those of the same age in any other country.
America’s veterans now would do far better participating in this same private health care system, along with everyone else. That can be achieved by dividing up the VA budget in equal shares for every veteran, and freeing them to use those sums to help purchase the private health insurance of their choice. That would include Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which maximize the freedom of control and choice by patients over their own health care, and their own health care dollars. Such HSAs are also the only health policy innovation that have proven to control health costs in the real world, without a third party empowered to deny health care to the patient.
Similar reforms can and should be extended to liberate the poor on Medicaid to obtain better health coverage and care of their own choice. Block grants of federal Medicaid funds back to the states, which were so successful in reforming the old New Deal, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in 1996, could be adopted while giving the states broad authority to reform Medicaid to best suit the poor in their state. Each state could then experiment with providing the poor with vouchers that could be used to help pay for the health insurance of their choice, including again HSAs. The voters of each state would then decide how much should be given in assistance at each income level to assure that the poor would be able to buy essential health insurance.
Some states might choose to reform their Medicaid programs primarily focusing on providing the poor on Medicaid with HSAs, like Indiana has recently done. Or they might focus more on covering the poor with managed care programs, like Rhode Island has recently done. Or they might leave the choice completely to each poor family. The important point is that broad opportunities exist for states to assure the poor much better access to essential health care than Medicaid currently does, like both Indiana and Rhode Island have done, even with more efficient control of Medicaid spending.
Such reforms should also be extended to replacing Obamacare, with much broader benefits. Because Obamacare is not only a serious threat to the quality and supply of American health care. It also is a major drag on the American economy, due primarily to the costly regulatory burdens imposed by the program, and the perverse, counterproductive incentives involved.
The employer mandate is the source of much of the problem. The mandate raises the cost of employment, and so results in less of it. This effect is exacerbated by the high cost of the health insurance the Obamacare law requires to satisfy the mandate. That is in the process of raising costs even for employers that already provide health insurance for their workers.
President Obama recognizes this, which is why he has unilaterally and without legal authority delayed implementation of the employer mandate required by the Obamacare law, for years now. He knows, in fact, that the high costs of the Obamacare employer mandate will perversely and counterproductively cause millions to lose the employer provided health insurance they already have.
Because employers and the labor market plan ahead, we have already seen real world effects of this problem. Since the employer mandate only applies to full time employment involving 30 hours a week or more, millions of workers have already seen their hours cut back to part time work below the 30 hours a week threshold. And millions of others have already dropped out of the work force, because they have given up on finding work. This is all documented in the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The real world effects can also be seen in the badly lagging U.S. economic growth we have now long suffered under Obama, as the economy never has fully recovered from the recession, which is now years overdue based on the American historical record.
This means that Obamacare can be replaced with reforms that would have major pro-growth effects, spurring the economy to return to the world leading economic growth and prosperity deeply ingrained in America’s heritage. Such reforms are needed as well to prevent Obamacare from deteriorating into single payer, socialized medicine, similar to the VA, regardless of the foolish sentiments favoring precisely that we hear from Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other “Progressives.” That can be done while more assuredly achieving the original supposed goal of Obamacare of health care for all.
Even the Congressional Budget Office, which we too easily forget is a bastion of the Washington establishment, has always foreseen that Obamacare would not achieve anywhere near universal coverage, estimating that 30 million would still be uninsured 10 years after full implementation! For careful, reasoned observers, it is not even clear whether Obamacare so far is reducing rather than increasing the number of uninsured, as millions have already lost their health insurance, with millions more to come once the employer mandate is implemented, especially apart from just expanding Medicaid, which adds even more to unmanageable, long term entitlement costs.
By extending similar reforms to those proposed above for both the VA and Medicaid to the replacement of Obamacare, we can, in fact, assure health care for all, with no individual mandate, no employer mandate, sharply reduced regulatory burdens more broadly, and trillions in reduced federal spending and taxes over the years. John Goodman, President of the National Center for Policy Analysis, has long advocated a universal health insurance tax credit for all, which everyone could use to help purchase the private health insurance of their choice. That would involve broadening out the tax preference currently provided only for employer provided health insurance to everyone. He is now advocating a credit of $2,500 per person per year, which would not completely finance essential health insurance, but provide help and an incentive for it, just like the tax preference for employer provided health insurance does not completely finance, but does provide help and effective incentive for it.
That credit can be used by those on Medicaid to opt out of it for the private health insurance of their choice, including HSAs. Concomitantly, it can be used to opt into Medicaid, assuring coverage for any pre-existing condition is always available. Those with employer provided coverage can still use the credit for alternative private coverage of their choice if they prefer, again including HSAs. This provides working people with a critical check and balance on their employers, assuring access to the health care of their choice, even when their employer plan does not. For any worker who does not use the credit to purchase private coverage, the $2,500 for the year goes to indigent care facilities in the worker’s local area.
Along with Medicaid block grants to the states, which states could use in part to finance uninsurable risk pools for the uninsured, such reforms would feasibly assure health care for everyone. At the same time, these reforms would be more broadly pro-growth. With no employer mandate requiring the purchase of very costly health insurance for every employee, the cost of employment would be substantially reduced, encouraging more jobs, and higher wages. There would be no longer be any incentive to cut working people back to part time hours. Eliminating the costly Obamacare regulatory requirements on insurance, along with the broader availability of cost reducing HSAs, would reduce unnecessary health costs, further boosting the economy with an effective tax cut for everyone. Reducing taxes and federal spending due to Obamacare by trillions over future years would further enhance economic growth and general prosperity for all. Republicans in Congress are presently drafting such an alternative to Obamacare.
All of this comprehensive health care liberation, from the VA, to Medicaid, to Obamacare, would mean ultimately better health care for all, along with helping to restore economic growth and prosperity, and the American Dream.
[Originally published at Forbes]
Listening to President Obama respond on May 21 to the latest scandal regarding something about which he knew and did nothing—the mess at the Veterans Administration—was such a familiar event that I have reached a point of exhaustion trying to keep up with everything that has been so wrong about his six years in office. As he always does, he said was really angry about it.
Writing in the May 20 Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin said, “Forget ideology for a moment. Whether you are liberal or conservative, the Obama presidency’s parade of miscues is jaw-dropping.”
Stacked against the list of Obama scandals and failures, Rubin could only cite the Bush administration’s 2005 handling of Hurricane Katrina, the seventh most intense ever, and, as anyone familiar with that event will tell you, the failure of FEMA’s response was matched by the failures of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and the New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Bush had declared a national emergency two days before it hit the Gulf coast.
Rubin concluded that the Obama administration scandals “reflect the most widespread failure of executive leadership since the Harding administration”, adding “The presidency is an executive job. We hire neophytes at our peril. When there is an atmosphere in which accountability is not stressed you get more scandals and fiascos.”
Obama spent his entire first term blaming all such things on his predecessor, George W. Bush, until it became a joke.
One has to wonder about the effect of the endless succession of scandals and fiascos have had on Americans as individuals and the nation as a whole.
While it is easier to lay all the blame on Obama, the fact is that much of the blame is the result of a federal government that is so big no President could possibly know about the countless programs being undertaken within its departments and agencies, and all the Presidents dating back to Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive initiatives have played a role in growing the government.
It is, however, the President who selects the cabinet members responsible to manage the departments as well as those appointed to manage the various agencies. Kathleen Sebelius, the recently resigned former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for the implementation of Obamacare, comes to mind. She had solicited donations—against the law—from the companies HHS regulates to help her sign up uninsured Americans for Obamacare and signed off on the millions spent on HealthCare.gov and other expenses leading up to its start.
There are lists of the Obama scandals you can Google. One that continues to fester is the attack on September 11, 2012—the anniversary of 9/11—that killed an American ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi, Libya. It has been and continues to be investigated, mostly because of the lies told by Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of “What difference at this point does it make?” fame. Clinton was asked what she had accomplished in her four years as Secretary and was unable to name anything.
Eric Holder, our Attorney General, continues in office despite having been held in contempt of Congress, professing that he knew nothing about “Fast and Furious”, the earliest scandal involving a gun-running scheme to Mexican drug cartels by the ATF presumably to track them, but they lost track and many were used in crimes including the killing of a Border Patrol agent.
Holder also told Congress that he was not associated with the “potential prosecution” of a journalist even though he had signed the affidavit that named Fox News reporter, James Rosen. as a potential criminal. Holder was also in charge when the Justice Department culled the phone records of Associated Press reporters to find out who they deemed was leaking information.
Keeping track of the solar power and other “renewable” and “Green” energy companies like Solyndra that received millions in grants and then rather swiftly went bankrupt became a fulltime effort and, of course, there was the “stimulus” that wasted billions without generating any “shovel ready jobs” qualifies as a fiasco.
In the midst of the recession that was triggered by the 2008 financial crisis various elements of the Obama administration continued to spend money in ways that suggested their indifference. In 2010 the General Services Administration held a $823,000 training conference in Las Vegas, complete with a clown and mind readers.
An Agriculture Department program to compensate black farmers who allegedly had been discriminated against by the agency turned into a gravy train that delivered several billion dollars to thousands of recipients, some of whom probably had not encountered discrimination.
The Veterans Affairs agency made news when it spent more than $6 million on two conferences in Orlando, Florida, and is back in the news for revelations about alleged falsified records concerning the waiting times veterans faced amidst assertions that many died while waiting for treatment surfaced. This was a problem of which the then-Senator Obama was already aware, but six years into his presidency it still existed despite his early promises to fix it.
Obama has been the biggest of Big Government Presidents since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, and Obamacare put the federal government in control of one sixth of the nation’s economy while putting the government in charge of the care Americans expect to receive. Obamacare will dwarf the problems associated with the Veterans agency.
Meanwhile, we have been living with a President who is so indifferent to working with Congress that he has gained fame for his use of executive orders such as the decision to not deport illegal immigrants. His aides have promised more executive orders.
All this over the course of the last six years has left Americans exhausted by the incompetence and wastefulness of an administration that now presides over the highest national debt in the history of the nation and the first ever downgrade of our credit rating.
It has also left them angry if they were conservatives and disillusioned if they were Obama supporters. The Veterans Administration scandal is likely a tipping point for the independent voters and even for longtime Democrats who will want a change.
It is increasingly likely that the November midterm elections give the Republican Party control over the Senate as well as the House and then to hope that it will begin to rein in the spending and save the nation from a financial collapse that will rival the one in 2008.
© Alan Caruba, 2014
2013 was one of the quietest wildfire years in U.S. history, according to objective data from the federal government’s National Interagency Fire Center. The 47,000 wildfires last year may seem like a very large number – and it certainly gives global warming alarmists like Brown plenty of fodder for misleading global warming claims – but the 47,000 wildfires was less than half the average number of wildfires that occurred each year in the 1960s and 1970s. Importantly, the Earth was in a cooling phase during the 1960s and 1970s when so many more wildfires occurred.
The unusually quiet 2013 fire season continued a long-term trend in declining wildfires. From 1962 through 1982, for example, at least 100,000 wildfires occurred in the United States every year. Since 1982, however, not a single year has registered 100,000 wildfires. During the past decade, an average of 73,000 wildfires occurred each year. During the 1970s, by contrast, an average of 155,000 wildfires occurred each year.
The 2014 wildfire season, moreover, has been relatively quiet so far. The total number of wildfires is well below the 1962-2013 average, and is even below the average for the past decade. Even so, the below-average 22,000 wildfires so far this year give global warming alarmists plenty of opportunities to mislead the public about the scientific facts.
The long-term decline in wildfires reflects an ongoing improvement in global soil moisture and an ongoing decline in global drought.
A scientific study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hydrology reports, “Evidence indicates that summer soil moisture content has increased during the last several decades at almost all sites having long-term records in the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank.”
Similarly, a scientific study in the peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters reports, “An increasing trend is apparent in both model soil moisture and runoff over much of the U.S. … This wetting trend is consistent with the general increase in precipitation in the latter half of the 20th century. Droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the country over the last century.”
Droughts and wildfires have always occurred and will always occur. While global warming is reducing the frequency of droughts and wildfires, global warming will not completely eradicate droughts and wildfires. They will continue from time to time despite their long-term decline. This allows alarmists and political responsibility-shirkers like Jerry Brown to blame global warming and his political opponents for the relatively few droughts and wildfires that still do occur.
Jerry Brown can invent his own political narrative but he cannot invent his own scientific facts.
[Originally published at Forbes]
At a Chicago fundraiser May 29, 2013, President Obama said “I don’t have much patience for people who deny climate change.” At his swearing in ceremony May 21, 2013, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz declared he is “not interested in debating what is not debatable.” These remarks echo long-standing pleas of climate alarmists the “science is settled” with regards to burning fossil fuels causing catastrophic global warming.
Would these statements come from true scientists interested in pursuing truth about whether carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel is a global threat? The remarks are very clear about United States government policies with regard to education or research on climate science. If proposed education materials or research don’t support abandoning fossil fuels, go somewhere else for financial support and airing your views. Close the door on the way out.
UN REPORTS BIASED
From the preceding remarks it is apparent bias toward accepting as fact carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the driver for climate change the past century. Support for carbon dioxide threats are a series of 5 Assessment Reports by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) released since 1990. To counteract omissions, half-truths, and false statements in these reports, the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was formed in 2003. Since 2009, the NIPCC has released 6 Reports that give authoritative, easily-read information about vast amount of experimental data showing negligible influence of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels on climate, benefits of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, financial losses from mitigation, and proper role of adapting to climate change. The NIPCC is supported by three non-profit organizations—Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Science and Environmental Policy Project, and The Heartland Institute.
COMMON CORE SCIENCE
The science portion of Common Core called “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas” is written from material provided by The National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The report is 400 pages and I examined PART II: Dimension 7 dealing with Earth and Space Sciences from pages 169 to 201. The coverage is cursory due to the shortness of material. Part ESS3.D: Global Climate Change covers global warming from pages 196-199. The coverage mentions computer models are used for predicting future climate and weather conditions for the planet. The report claimed, “However, it is clear not only that human activities play a major role in climate change but also that impacts of climate change—for example, increased frequency of severe storms due to ocean warming—have begun to influence human activities . The prospect of future impacts of climate change due to further increases in atmospheric carbon is prompting consideration of how to avoid or restrict such increases.” There is insufficient coverage that computer models fail to replicate what happens in the future when data for comparisons are available. In my opinion climate models should not be included in K-12 education because our understanding of forces influencing climate is incomplete and model’s failure to be validated. Material in the book does not make this clear.
Four references are cited at the end of the discussion. One is the 2009 Report “Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Change” by the United States Global Change Research Project (USGCRP) which contains scary predictions for the future of the world because of global warming. One example is “C. The impacts of climate change may affect the security of nations. Reduced availability of water, food, and land can lead to competition and conflict among humans, potentially resulting in large groups of climate refugees.” The material says carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is causing global warming which is a highly controversial topic.
No doubt numerous copies of the 2009 USGCRP Report will be sent to schools as reference material showing fossil fuel use should be abandoned in order to save the planet. This report, and other U. S. government printed reports, provides numerous reference materials to indoctrinate students to accept catastrophic climate change is occurring unless fossil fuel use is abandoned. This all confirms political bias on climate change shown by remarks of President Obama and Energy Secretary Moniz.
The 32 pages of a 400-page report convinced me global warming science should not be used in education of students at the K-12 level. More material of this nature could be in the NAS Report. This is sufficient reason to abandon the science education portion of Common Core.
The official website for the PUBLIC BROADCAST SERVICE provides discussions of the following features of Common Core: (1) Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science, (2) National Science Education Standards, (3) A Framework for K-12 Science Education, and (4) Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Properties. The threat of catastrophic global warming due to carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is again emphasized in areas outside the science portion of Common Core.
More climate science education material is provided by the NAS, in conjunction with The Royal Society, with the February 27 release of Climate Change: Evidence and Causes. This booklet is highly criticized for inaccuracies and ethical lapses in a paper by James Rust “U.S. National Academy of Sciences: Doubling Down on Climate Alarmism (and taking science down a notch with it)”.
On April 15, NAS released an interactive version of Climate Change: Evidence and Causes booklet with the following announcement: “Attention teachers, NGOs, and other organizations with public interfaces. The National Academies has developed a new sharable, interactive version of “Climate Change: Evidence and Causes”, the booklet produced jointly with The Royal Society that was released in February 2014. Users can click on any one of the 20 questions in the document and jump to related information throughout the document. The interactive is embeddable on third party sites. Explore the interactive and find the embed code here.”
More reasons to assume NAS plans to be a major source of information for the science portion of Common Core.
On May 6, 2014, USGCRP issued its third National Climate Assessment that predicted a scary future for the United States broken down into regions. No attention is given to history showing no increases in hurricanes, tornados, ocean level rise, wild fires, droughts, floods, etc. over the past century when atmospheric carbon dioxide increases were not taking place. This report most likely will be additional reference material for Common Core.
UNITED KINGDOM AND AUSTRALIA EXPERIENCES
The United Kingdom’s Global Warming Policy Foundation issued a report“ Climate Control—Brainwashing In Schools “. Statements in the Report’s Executive Summary are as follows: “We find instances of eco-activism being given a free rein within schools and at the events schools encourage their pupils to attend. In every case of concern, the slant is on scares, on raising fears, followed by the promotion of detailed guidance on how pupils should live, as well as on what they should think. In some instances, we find encouragement to create ‘little political activists’ in schools by creating a burden of responsibility for action on their part to ‘save the planet’, not least by putting pressure on their parents.… Surveys show that many children are upset and frightened by what they are told is happening to the climate.”
In the main body of the report is the statement, “The chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri has suggested that a focus on children is the top priority for bringing about societal change, and that by ‘sensitizing’ children to climate change, it will be possible to them to ‘shame adults into taking the right steps’”.
An April 12, article in The Telegraph by Christopher Booker “No A-level for ‘climate change denier” criticizes climate science education in the United Kingdom being illegal because it makes a mockery of the 1996 Education Act that requires students be taught in a balanced way that allows them to form their own views on evidence. Mr. Booker wrote, “So relentless is this brainwashing that it percolates throughout the curriculum, so that even exam papers in French, English or religious studies can ask students to explain why the world is dangerously warming up, or why we must build more wind turbines.”
Australia has a similar problem of climate science corrupting education in a paper titled “Schools places of indoctrination rather than learning”. The report cited, “The current Australian Curriculum is full of references to “sustainability”, which is a concept without any intelligible meaning in most of the contexts in which it is used, apart from in the very short-term.”
PROPAGANDA AND EDUCATION FOR YOUTH
Another approach to outcomes of teaching climate science to young people is reported by Robert Bradley Jr. in his paper “Adults Reject Climate Catastrophe, Alarmists Bring In the Children (thoughts on Hansen’s latest)”. Mr. Bradley protested the rhetoric of climate alarmist’s labeling those who disagree with carbon-dioxide-caused global warming as “deniers” implying they are in league with those who are “Holocaust deniers”. The Holocaust is a tragedy occurring during the reign of terror from Hitler’s National Socialism.
After a meeting with children at a Plant-for-the-Planet meeting in Seattle, Dr. James Hansen wrote “Children and Adults on Climate Policy: Evidence that They ‘Get It’”. The children wanted to put a “price on carbon pollution”, “pledge no new carbon pollution”, and “plant trees”. Naturally Plant-for-the-Plant was founded in Munich, Germany.
Other exploitations of children are done by organizations like Our Children’s Trust and Kids vs. Global Warming that claim action is needed to force abandoning use of fossil fuels to save the future for children. A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently denied oral arguments from these groups suit under the Public Trust Doctrine.
National Socialism used the Hitler Youth from 1922 to 1945 to train young men to be obedient to their goals, enforce their rulings, and provide fanatical defense of the Fatherland. This use of propaganda and brainwashing to enlist support of the young is analogous to attempts to enlist young people in promoting climate change due to fossil fuel use is a threat to society.
A link between National Socialism and Conservation movements is reported by German historian Frank Uekoetter’s The Green and the Brown: a History of Conservatism in Nazi Germany published by Cambridge Press in 2006. A detailed review of this book is written by William Walter Kay. The conservation movement started in Germany in the late nineteenth century and found easy mixing with National Socialism with conservationists having memberships in their local groups and the National Socialist Party. Millions of trees were planted in the name of Adolf Hitler.
It is easy for teachers to be caught up in promoting teachings of the catastrophic climate change movement because of “warm feelings” from working to save the planet. Over-zealous teachers, perhaps in concert with environmental groups, may wish to develop slogans, songs, T-shirts, and even arm bands for students to use to help spread the gospel of human-caused global warming. An example of a song can be changes to the song “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” from the 1972 musical Cabaret. Who can resist the words, “But somewhere a glory awaits unseen. Tomorrow belongs to me.”
Potentials for mischief to the country over teachings of perverted science are enormous.
Thus playing tit-for-tat, Mr. Bradley suggests we could label brainwashed youth from Common Core and other programs “Climate Youth”. In fairness to Mr. Bradley, he correctly states this name-calling and comparisons with National Socialism should cease immediately.
DROP COMMON CORE SCIENCE
Even greater dangers from science portions of Common Core are teaching people to accept the political use of science and not follow fundamental principles of scientific inquiry–propose a theory about the behavior of Nature and continually test that theory by experiment. Never accept propositions of “science is settled”. Additional problems are painting the planet’s future in a dismal fashion with reduced living standards and poverty for many parts of the planet. This may lead to psychological damage to students.
The United States has vast fossil fuel energy resources; an inventive, resourceful population; and one million square miles of farm land with the best farmers on the planet. With correct policies exploiting our superior assets, the future of the United States is bright and the nation can be of great assistance leading the rest of the planet to an enhanced life.
Our science programs should stimulate students to be adept in analysis and have an inquiring mind. Never be exposed to ideas of “the science is settled”. It is my opinion the science portion of Common Core is dangerous for the country. Damage from its implementation for a few decades could harm the country for many years.
The entire Common Core program provides opportunities to instill propaganda in our young people ages 5 to 18. Common Core should be discarded from an intellectual point of view. The program also provides opportunity for unbelievable amounts of “crony capitalism”. States most likely will have increased financial burdens due to greater expenses from testing, which is another strong reason for Common Core’s rejection.
James H. Rust is a retired professor of nuclear engineering and a policy adviser for The Heartland Institute
With his renomination this week, prepare for a slew of “how Mitch McConnell crushed the Tea Party” pieces over the next few days. Here’s a good one from Peter Hamby. But the story reads less like a crushing than a co-opting: not just in tropes like coming out on stage brandishing a musket, but in McConnell’s hires, issue framing, and language.
McConnell won by carefully eliminating the ability of a Rand Paul-backed opponent within his state. For all the talk about Tea Party prowess in primaries, they really have not beaten many incumbents – and the combined power of incumbency and the Washington money machine can only be beaten by a really excellent candidate or a well-run grassroots campaign.
Over the past five years, the Tea Party’s agenda and efforts have been subsumed into the larger Republican mantras in a number of ways. Their movement is now effectively one more chunk of the Republican base – and just as different candidates appeal to different factions (social conservatives, defense hawks, small business), the Tea Party’s priorities are heeded or ignored to different degrees. McConnell’s approach has been to sound the gong on all sorts of Tea Party issues this election season, and this has been the approach adopted by several others as well – Thom Tillis was full-throated on the Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, Jack Kingston and David Perdue did their best to depict themselves as having an affinity to the more palatable aspects of the Tea Party agenda, and Monica Wehby made Obamacare issue number one for her campaign.
To a certain extent, McConnell, Eric Cantor, and other establishment figures are conceding a key premise of the Tea Party’s complaint: that the Republican status quo is unacceptable, that it’s damaged in a fundamental way, and needs a serious overhaul in order to win. The Tea Party wants that overhaul to look a certain way, and the establishment and the party’s corporate backers want it to look a certain way; but the majority of both factions seem to be arriving at the conclusion that in 2016, it won’t just amount to getting the band back together for the typical three-legged stool candidate. It’ll have to be someone who alters the Republican agenda in one direction or another, or takes pieces from each side and cobbles them together in an appeal which cuts across traditional lines.
John Hart, communications director for Tom Coburn, notes this accurately:
[T]he transformation of McConnell’s campaign from 2008 to 2014 shows the overwhelming persuasive and redemptive power of the Tea Party. In 2008, the Senate minority leader ran a series of ads touting his success at bringing home the bacon. In 2014, his campaign had lost that aroma. McConnell himself helped end earmarks in 2010 and recently said no to Majority Leader Harry Reid’s call to restore the disgraced practice. McConnell’s evolving message shows how the real Tea Party can co-opt and win over the GOP establishment when it sticks to its principles.
In fact, thanks to the Tea Party, the old-style “bring home the bacon” campaigns have largely been wiped off the electoral map. Even Democrats have joined the Tea Party’s anti-pork campaign. Mark Udall, Claire McCaskill and Elizabeth Warren have all vocally opposed earmarks, a rare challenge to Reid’s rigid party discipline. The Tea Party’s influence, of course, extends well beyond earmarks. In race after race, candidates are embracing its message of less government, less spending, less regulation and more freedom, particularly on Obamacare.
The problem, of course, is that if you win, this campaign season lip service has ramifications for the policy agenda you actually put forward. If a McConnell-led Senate majority makes battling Obamacare about insurance bailouts, it’s different than if they make it about repealing the medical device tax. The simple truth is that the establishment and the Tea Party need each other to win, just like McConnell needed Rand and Rand’s people to avoid a serious challenge.
There’s risk for the establishment in this, of course. Republicans who espouse a populist conservative agenda to get a job and then implement a K Street agenda will have to deal with the political fallout of a Rorschach moment. The view is that they’ve corralled the Tea Party, domesticated it without giving it a real seat at the table. But I still think they misunderstand who’s locked in with whom.
[First published at The Federalist.]
Editor: I can’t let this post pass without a clip of that line by Rorschach from the movie “Watchmen,” which Ben linked to above:
In a discussion that took place on CNBC on Wednesday, President of Oxfam America Raymond Offenheiser and the President of the Heartland Institute Joe Bast squared off regarding a new Oxfam study. The study suggests that large food producing companies like Kellogg’s, Pepsico and Nestle create a large amount of carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming.
Offenheiser, citing the study, challenged these companies to “fully disclose the carbon emissions in their agricultural supply chains.” He said that these companies have an enormous responsibility to take action.
Bast responded by saying that the study has an “overreliance on the IPCC” findings. He went on to say that the debate on global warming is not over and the evidence is not as clear as some suggest. Bast said that it “hurts the profitability of a company to do unnecessary reductions in its carbon dioxide emissions.”
My last couple of posts have dealt with major weather/climate stories I think are lurking. The worry about the upcoming hurricane season is something I will have every year for the East Coast until we reverse the pattern we were in during the 1950s. I think we have another five to seven years, and I am very surprised it has not been worse. But it takes just one 1954 or a ‘54-’55 back-to-back season to get that score close fairly quickly.
I am on this “kick” to expose before the fact some of the nonsense being spewed and accepted by what I see as an increasingly desperate AGW crowd. It’s now or never for them, though to their credit, they have the political will backing their interests in the form of the EPA that could care less about the fact the department’s lines of evidence have nothing to do with reality.
My one month electricity bill in January was higher than the total of the seven months ending in November. And it’s going to get worse, as I discussed here.
There were places in the Northeast this past winter that were within a few days of running out of fuel for electricity. At the very least though, I give the president credit for keeping his word on what he was going to do. I believed him then when he said, “Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” and I certainly believe him now. Here’s the video, so you can see I am not putting words in his mouth.
I was taught to respect the president, whether I agree with him or not, so his own words are what I judge him on in this matter, along with the results I see. He is keeping his word with the policies enacted, which are not nearly as draconian as some of his backers want. They are attacking him for not being even more aggressive. Believe me, if you saw some of the things I see, you would actually discover that, as bad as it’s getting, it could be – and will be – a lot worse compared to what is being advocated by his supporters. Do you realize North Korea is being lauded as a champion in the fight against “climate change”? Look at this headline out of the Guardian: “North Korea: an unlikely champion in the fight against climate change.”
Ever seen a picture of North Korea at night?
The driving force behind all this – the facts on what was said about the actual climate and what is happening – is what I am taking apart piece by piece. Consider Arctic ice. We showed how the ice cap may be run a positive anomaly this summer. The modeling is actually getting stronger in its forecast! The summer melt season has been the object of the so-called “Arctic Death Spiral,” and while one summer does not indicate it’s over, it means the cycles in the Atlantic are the cause for the increase and retreat. This is the first cold year in the north Atlantic since the AMO went into its warm phase. When it flips to cold for good, it’s over for that hysteria. But no one on their side will bring this up – that is, the direct cause and effect! It’s certainly not CO2.
Wildfires are below normal again this year. You wouldn’t know it given the hysteria. The wildfires chart shows no recent increase, and in fact the opposite!
Tornado activity is not at a record low like last year, but it’s still less than 25% of normal. AGAIN.
And now comes the latest: mud in the eye of those trying to say the U.S. is in some permanent Dust Bowl again.
First of all, major U.S. dry periods are a product of a cooling tropical Pacific. In the decades such as the 1950s through the 1970s, when the tropical Pacific is cooler overall, the U.S. is drier than normal in much of the nation. It is exactly opposite in the years the Pacific warms, which by the way correlates nicely to an increase in global temperatures until the atmosphere adjusts to the warming tropical ocean and temperatures level off. But the idea that global warming causes drought here in the U.S. is opposite of the facts! It’s when the Pacific starts to cool and global temperatures start to drop that we see it dry out. The chart below shows it all.
When the tropical Pacific is predominately cold as it was in the 1950s-1970s, as shown by the multivariate ENSO index, the U.S. is very dry during the growing seasons.
When warm, like it was between 1981-2005, it’s wet.
You can see more blue starting to show up again as of late, and the drying is starting anew – but so is the drop in the global temperature! So it’s not global warming causing the reaction that leads to the drying over the U.S., but the lessening of available moisture because the source region for so much U.S. moisture – the tropical Pacific – is cooling. The temperature chart for the last 10 years shows the slow, jagged cooling that has begun, after the adjustment to the warming that occurred when the Pacific went into the warm cycle in 1978.
You cannot draw it up better than this; it’s clear as to what is going on. What happened before, naturally, is happening again, as is to be expected given the cyclical nature of climate due to the design of the planet.
One can see clearly the reaction to the warming Pacific, the adaptation (leveling off of temperatures) and then the slow decrease starting as the tropical Pacific turns cooler overall. This is from the website http://woodfortrees.org/plot/.
I inserted the correlating periods.
The first period is the global warming that occurred in reaction to the Pacific flipping from its cold cycle to warmer. The second is the adaptation period and the third is the slow downfall we see close up in the graphic before.
As far as this permanent drought, here’s something funny. Thanks to the hard work of scientists (I am not anti-science, I am pro-fact), the results of their research is producing hardier plants. Look at corn yields.
One notices though, in the MEI chart above, that during the cold cycles, there are warm spikes, and these are the short lived El Ninos that develop in the overall colder periods. We think there is one on the way. There is a lot of talk about the so-called Super Nino coming, but we do not find the physical drivers present for that. Quite the contrary: The coming El Nino looks similar to 2002 and 2009, and that means that the winter is likely to be cold and stormy, and we are already warning our clients about that. However, the rain issue is huge. Weatherbell.com believes that the dust bowl will get mud in its eye the next nine months as much of the drought stricken plains from the Texas panhandle to Nebraska gets above normal rainfall June-March. We believe another great growing season is on the way for the nation’s breadbasket, and I believe we will get some relief for California in the fall and winter! Additionally, we are seeing the modeling getting wetter and wetter. Models are tools, and we set our forecast up and then see what modeling agrees with us to fine tune it. But I like the idea the modeling is seeing, which is what we have been seeing!
Some may wonder, why do I agree with the models now, when so many times I am pointing out they are wrong? Because I believe they are right now, since this is what my partner Dr. Joe D’Aleo and I have been thinking is going to happen based on our research. Therefore, if the models come to us (most of them are) it is a good extra opinion that is backing us up. Models are tools for the answer, and when they can be used, you use them!
I think because overall we will go back to the colder signal next year, this is a one year event. But the fact is, it will show that it’s nature in control and we are forecasting it beforehand! The climate model sees it too. I might add that in the the middle of the 1950s, the drought across the U.S. was worse overall according to the Palmer Drought Severity Index.
It is true California is worse this year. The patterns are similar, but not exactly the same. However, no one in their right mind can say increased CO2 is the cause of more rain in one place and less in the other. Such events are products of natural variations in what is a similar cycle.
By the way, you can see a lot of rain being forecasted in California in the maps above,, which will give them a break. But again, this is not over yet; as you saw, this is a multi-decade event that was well forecasted by a lot of us, though no one would listen 10 years ago. I coined the phrase “time of climatic hardship” and was on the O’Reilly Factor with it around 2008 because of what we saw coming with the overall cycle, the similarity to the 50s drought and the worry about hurricanes which, so far, have not been as bad as I feared. Then again, five of the eight majors storms that ran the East Coast between ’54-’60 occurred in just two years, so we are not out of that woods by any means.
Now here is something interesting. In 1972, Albert Hammond observed how dry it is in southern California and the occasional major rains that occur, and made a hit record out of it with these lyrics:
Seems it never rains in Southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya
It pours, man, it pours
It was actually one of my favorite songs my junior year in high school. Perhaps Governor Brown, who is really ramping up the global warming talk in spite of some questionable policies that are cutting irrigation to protect a Smelt, listened to different music. Wasn’t the Jefferson Airplane big around that time? (Ha ha. Even they sang, “When the truth is found… to be lies…”)
When you have rock and roll artists observing nature, then you know it’s something obvious.
But here is the problem. We have many more people living in these areas and, unfortunately, this gullible population is ripe to be exploited by those with an agenda not based on facts. It’s easy to refute them; you are seeing me do it in the time it takes to write this. Every time something comes up, it takes me only the time to go to the maps I know from the past to counter it. It’s all there. So as I’ve previously opined, it’s the climate agenda (rather global warming – they said it, they own it), not the climate, that is the biggest threat to our freedoms. Then again, I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said, “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”
As in so many things in life, we reap what we sow, and if you wish to simply follow along without verifying, you will go where you will no longer be able to decide for yourself. I never ask anyone to believe me. Go look for yourself … while you still can.
Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.
Even though President Obama continues to lie about “climate change” and employs the many elements of the federal government to repeat those lies, this huge hoax is dying.
Obama is on record saying that climate change “once considered an issue for the distant future, has moved firmly into the present” and is “affecting Americans right now.” Climate change as studied by climatologists is measured in terms of centuries whereas the weather is what is happening today. It has been happening before and since the rise of civilization. Obama’s claim that “climate-related changes are outside of recent experience” and “have become more frequent and/or intense” is a lie from start to finish.
The White House recently released its latest “National Climate Assessment.” It is 841 pages of outlandish claims that reflect the lies generated by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. When you consider that the federal government spends an estimated $2.6 billion annually in grants for climate research, about the only beneficiaries are those “scientists” employed to further the hoax.
The UN’s IPCC was created in 1983 and has issued a series of reports whose sole intention has been to frighten people around the world with claims of global warming that are scientifically baseless.
The Heartland Institute, a non-profit market-based think tank, responded by creating the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) and by sponsoring a series of international conferences. The 9th conference will be July 7-9 in Las Vegas. That effort began in 2003 in cooperation with the Science & Environmental Project led by Dr. S. Fred Singer and was joined by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change.
I am an advisor to the Institute, having written about environmental and energy issues for several decades at this point.
Calling on thousands of scientists around the world, in 2013 the NIPCC published the first of a three-volume response to the IPCC’s fifth assessment. This year, it has published a volume of Climate Change Reconsidered devoted to biological impacts, a 1,062 page opus. The NIPCC is an international panel of scientists and scholars with no government affiliation or sponsorship, and it receives no corporate funding.
Writing in the Financial Post in October 2013, Lawrence Solomon, the executive director of Energy Probe, a Toronto-based environmental group, noted that “solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.” The Earth’s climate is primarily a reflection of solar radiation or the lack of it. From 1300 to 1850, the Earth was subject to a mini-ice age. While the global warming hoax began in the late 1980s, Solomon noted that, in the 1960s and 1970s, the scientific consensus was that the Earth “was entering a period of global cooling. The media in those years was filled with stories about a pending new ice age.
It was only the intervention of the UN’s IPCC that changed the “consensus” to one of global warming. A cooling cycle that began around fourteen years ago could lead to another mini-ice age or the planet could be on the cusp of a full-fledged one. On average, the interglacial periods of the Earth have lasted about 11,500 years and we are at the end of such a period.
Climate Change Reconsidered II devoted to biological impact features scientific studies that conclude:
# “Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant.” Considering that all vegetation on Earth depends on it, it is not surprising that another conclusion was that the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content is causing a great greening of the Earth.
# As a result, “there is little or no risk of increasing food insecurity due to global warming or rising atmospheric CO2 levels and that terrestrial ecosystems have thrived throughout the world as a result of warming temperatures and rising levels of atmospheric CO2. Multiple lines of evidence indicate animal species are adapting, and in some cases, evolving, to cope with climate change of the modern era.”
# In addition, “rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels to no pose a significant threat to aquatic life and that a modest warming of the planet will result in a net reduction of human mortality from temperate-related events.”
The irony of the latest NIPCC report, of course, is that it responds to the claims of global warming and carbon dioxide’s role at a time when the Earth is cooling. It makes one wish that all the talk about “greenhouse gases” is true enough to help us escape from the present cooling.
One thing we do know for sure is that the Greens talk of climate change has lost its grip on the public imagination and attention. As the cooling cycle continues, people around the world will be far more focused on increased evidence of massive ice sheets at both poles, on frozen lakes and rivers, on shortened growing seasons, and on the desperate need for more fossil fuels to warm our homes and workplaces.
© Alan Caruba, 2014
For most individuals, what is next revealed will be the most shocking aspect of Dr. Duke Peta’s revelations during his presentation titled, “Common Core: Dangers and Threats, as the featured speaker at a Northern Illinois Patriot’s meeting on Tuesday, May 13: “The National Sexuality Education Standards – Core Contents and Skills, K-12″, published January, 2012. These standards were developed to address the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide and the limited time allocated to teaching the topic. As with the Math and Language Arts, the idea is to create a universal standard.
Does the federal government have any business teaching sex? Five and six year old students must be able to define different kinds of family structure. By seven, students must be able to define how boys and girls are supposed to act. Might this infer that a boy is a boy or a girl a girl simply because culture made them that way? The National Sexuality Education Standards won’t be introduced as a separate curriculum, but will be woven into the teaching of other Common Core subjects.
On page 12 of The National Sexuality Education Standards: By the end of 2nd grade, students should be able to: Use proper names for body parts, including male and female anatomy.
On page 14: By the end of 5th grade, students should be able to: Describe male and female reproductive systems including body parts and their functions. Identify medically-accurate information about female and reproductive anatomy. Define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.
On page 9 under “Guiding Values and Principles”: Students need opportunities to engage in cooperative and active learning strategies, and sufficient time must be allocated for students to practice skills relating to sexuality education.
A father was rightly upset with this sexual education poster hanging in the classroom of his 13-year old middle school student with this title: “How do people express their sexual feelings?”
Then there is the privacy invasion of Data Mining which was created as part of the nationalized Common Core standards scheme, funded with Obama stimulus money, with grants also coming from the liberal Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The feds want to use schools to catalog “attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability,” all under the guise of education. Per agreement, every state signing on to receive 2009 stimulus funds were mandated to share student information with the federal government. Personally identifiable information will be extracted from each student, including parents’ names, address, Social Security Number, date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.
Under “Guidance for Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS),” a detailed plan for “data stewardship” in education, sensitive information will likewise be gathered which delves into the intimate details of students’ lives, such as 1) Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent, 2) Mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family, 3) Sex behavior or attitudes, and 4) Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent.
It gets creepier yet! There have been reports of the use of student-monitoring techniques such as “functional magnetic resonance imaging” and “using cameras to judge facial expressions, an electronic seat that judges posture, a pressure-sensitive computer mouse, and a biometric wrap on kids’ wrists.” These devices are not yet in use here in Illinois, but they are being employed in states where Common Core standards have been around for several years.
Many states are experiencing sticker shock at the cost of implementing Common Core. It is estimated that states will spend up to an estimated $10 billion up front, then as much as $800 million per year for the first seven years that Common Core is up and running. Much of the additional cost is for Common Core-aligned textbooks and curriculum, as well as teacher training, technology upgrades (computers are needed), testing and assessment. This additional expense comes at a time when many states and school districts are struggling to stay afloat. These massive, unfunded mandates will undoubtedly fall on the backs of taxpayers.
According to child psychologist, Dr. Megan Koschnick, Common Core standards are developmentally and age inappropriate. You can watch the video here of Dr. Koschnick’s full presentation given at a conference held at the University of Notre Dame on September 9 by the American Principles Project (APP), in conjunction with thePioneer Institute and the Heartland Institute.
As related by Dr. Megan Koschnick during her presentation;
Instead of thinking about what’s developmentally appropriate for kindergarteners, they are thinking [college] is where we want this kindergartener to end up, so let’s back track down to kindergarten and have kindergarteners work on these skills from an early age. This can cause major stress for the child because they are not prepared for this level of education.
Heartland Institute’s Joy Pullman had this to say:
Dr. Koschnick’s analysis makes it clear what other early childhood professionals have said: Common Core asks small children to behave like little adults, and they are not little adults. Anyone who cares for a small child could tell you this. This is a further consequence of the Common Core lead writers’ lack of experience and professional reputation, and of its committees excluding experts in early childhood.
Educators are under so much pressure to prepare students for the upcoming Common Core-aligned standardized tests – the PARCC exam to debut in 2015 – they are ramping up math and reading instruction and eliminating a number of other activities from the school day. The result: Students in the early grades are feeling so “bogged down” that “during the last hour of the day, they’re unteachable.”
As to the stress students are experiencing, young elementary students are hiding out in school bathrooms as a way of coping with stress when faced with confusing math problems and other new learning approaches required by Common Core. Chicago-area parents and a veteran educator aren’t surprised by the recent revelation that one of the city’s pre-K-8 schools is cracking down on kids’ bathroom breaks in order to “maximize student learning and reduce the loss of instructional time.” Students are also complaining of having headaches or stomach aches.
There are states who are now rethinking the Common Core State Standards they signed up for back in 2010. But not so fast! It will not be easy to opt out of Common Core. As with Obamacare and the push for manmade Global Warming, the Left, and some on the Right, are not going to allow their long-held dreams to be terminated without fighting tooth and nail to keep the programs in place. Too much time, effort and money has been invested to bring the programs to fruition. The controversial programs also align with U.N. Agenda 21, which grew out of the Rio Conference of 1992. G. H. Bush represented the U.S.A at the Conference.
With Common Core, the Gates Foundation has spent more than $170 million to develop and promote the Common Core Standards. As its biggest nongovernmental backer, Bill Gates is worried about the “bumpy” implementation in some states and some of the political attacks that have been lobbed at the Common Core. In an attempt to beat back “false claims” lobbed by critics, Bill Gates told several thousand educators gathered for the inaugural conference of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards — a nonprofit organization that runs a voluntary system to certify teachers — to help parents understand the new Common Core academic standards. Gates suggested that critics were uninformed.
“We the People” still have a voice. We cannot allow our children to become puppets of a socialist Leftist agenda without putting up a fight. Our nation’s survival as a free and liberty-loving country depends on what we do today. Talk with your neighbors and friends, especially those with children in public schools; speak out at school board meetings against Common Core; express your concerns to legislators, state and federal; and write Letters to the Editor to local newspapers about the chilling truth behind Common Core State Standards.
Article 1: Thorner: Chilling Truth Behind Common Core State Standards, May 20, 2014
After years of closing the gap with the United States, China built enough freeways in 2013 to amass the greatest length of freeways in the world. Between 2003 and 2013, China expanded its national expressway system, with interstate (motorway in Europe) standard roadways from 30,000 to 105,000 kilometers (18,000 to 65,000 miles). This compares to the 101,000 kilometers (63,000 miles) in the United States in 2012. China’s freeway system is also longer than that of the European Union, which was 70,000 kilometers in 2010 (43,000 miles) and Japan (8,000 kilometers or 5,000 miles) as is indicated in Figure 1 (Note 1). The ascent of China is evident across the spectrum of transport data, both passenger and freight.
A review of transport statistics in the four largest world economies (nominal gross domestic product) shows considerable variation in both passenger and freight flows. It also reflects the rapid growth of China. Generally comparable and complete data is available for the European Union, the United States, China and Japan.
All four of the world’s largest economies rely principally on roads for their passenger transport. The United States continues to lead in road volume (in passenger kilometers, see Note 2) by a substantial margin, followed by the European Union. In the United States, automobiles account for 83 percent of domestic passenger travel, which compares to 76 percent in the European Union and 58 percent in Japan. China’s combines automobile and bus data, which makes it impossible to obtain automobile comparisons with the other three economies.
Road travel increased more than 150 percent between 2003 and 2013 in China. Yet roads have barely held their market share as China has built new world-class airports, such as Capital City in Beijing, Baiyun in Guangzhou and many others. Over the same 10 years air travel has increased 350 percent. Meanwhile, China has built the world’s most extensive high-speed rail system and has experienced healthy rail travel growth. Yet, despite this, passenger rail’s market share has dropped from 35 percent to 29 percent over the period (Figure 2).
China is dominant among the four economies in passenger rail volumes, with its 1.05 trillion annual passenger kilometers (0.65 trillion passenger miles) accounting for more than 2.5 times the rail travel in both the European Union and Japan. US rail travel is no more than 1/20th that of China (equal to the road travel volume in the state of Arkansas).
The United States continues to lead in a domestic airline travel, with a volume approximately 60 percent greater than those of the European Union and China. China trails the European Union by only two percent and with its growth rate seems likely to assume the second position before long (Figure 3).
Passenger travel market shares are indicated in Figure 4.
After having led the world in rail freight volumes in recent decades, the United States has recently yielded the title to China. In 2013, China moved nearly 3 trillion tonne kilometers (Note 3) of freight by rail, compared to the US total of 2.5 trillion (2012). It may be surprising to find out that Europe, with its extensive passenger train system moves so little of its freight by rail. However, the European Union moved approximately 60 percent less of its freight by rail. However, much of the capacity of the EU’s rail system is consumed by passenger trains, leaving little for freight. This is despite a policy commitment in the EU to substantially increase the rail freight market share relative to trucks. As a result, in Europe, the freight trains are “on the highway” (see Photo below). China has been uniquely successful among the world’s economies in developing both a world class freight rail system and a world class passenger rail system. One of China’s early objectives in developing its high speed rail program was to free space for its large freight train volumes.
Caption: Trucks on the A7, north of Barcelona (by author)
Among other nations, only Russia can compete with China and the United States in rail freight, having moved approximately 2.2 trillion tonne kilometers in 2012.
Rail freight remains by far the most important in the United States compared to the other three largest economies. Rail freight continues to carry more tonne kilometers in the United States than trucks. The situation is much different in Europe, where trucks carried four times the volume of freight rail. Rail freight is even less significant in Japan, where trucks carry more than 15 times the volume of rail freight.
One possibly surprising fact lies with the substantial increase in China’s
truck volumes over the last decade. China now has a volume of truck traffic
that is four times that of trucks in either the European Union or the United States.
In 2003, trucks carried 60 percent less of the nation’s metric tonne mileage than freight rail. By 2013, that had been reversed with tracks carrying 130 percent more volume than freight rail.
However China’s dominance is even greater in water borne freight, at nearly 6 times the European Union
volume and more than 10 times the volume of the United States (Figure 5). Even so, China’s largest freight volumes are carried on waterways, such as the Yangtze River. Over the past 10 years waterway volumes tripled. It is even expected that there will be a significant increase in shipping on the ancient Grand Canal (Figure 6).
Freight market shares among the major modes are shown in Figure 7.
Another of the world’s largest economies, India, also relies heavily on roads. According to the World Bank 65 percent of the freight and nearly 90 percent of passengers are carried by roads in India, though late detailed data is not available. Yet India also has the largest passenger rail usage in the world. Only China is close, and the two nations have been near equal, at least over the last decade. In 2003, China trailed India by seven percent in passenger kilometers by train. Complete Indian Railway data for 2013 is not yet available. However, if the average trip length in 2013 was the same as in 2012, China will have moved to within two percent of India’s passenger rail volume. Both nations are far above Japan and the European Union, ranked third and fourth, and almost 90 percent above Russia, which has a reputation for high passenger rail volumes.
With economic growth in China slowing (though still at rates that would satisfy virtually any other nation) its transport growth of the past decade seems likely to moderate. On the other hand, the other large emerging economy, India, which has substantially trailed China, could assume a Chinese trajectory. The newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is committed to economic advance and infrastructure development. Market facilitating policies like those that have propelled China (see the late Noble Laureate Ronald Coase and Ning Wang, How China Became Capitalist), could lead to a similar story about India in a decade or two.
Note 1: The latest data on international transport varies by year, even within nations (such as the United States). This analysis compares the latest data, which is 2012 (Europe and Japan), 2013 (China) and the United States (2011, with some 2009). This latest years available permit comparing the general scale of differences and, particularly in the United States, changes from the earlier data are likely to have been modest, as a result of the Great Financial Crisis and the great economic malaise that has followed. The principal data sources are the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in the United States, the National Bureau of Statistics in China and Eurostat for the European Union and Japan.
Note 2: A passenger kilometer (or passenger mile) is the distance traveled times the number of passengers. Thus, a car going 5 kilometers with one passenger produces 5 passenger kilometers. With two passengers, there are 10 passenger kilometers.
Note 3: A tonne kilometer is a metric tonne (2.204 pounds or 1,000 kilograms) of freight times the number of kilometers traveled. The US ton (short ton) has 2,000 pounds or 907 kilograms.
Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the “Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey” and author of “Demographia World Urban Areas” and “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.” He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.
Photograph: Grand Canal in Suzhou (by author)
Now that 8 million or more have signed up on health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the President is deploying his phone and his pen to solve another urgent problem: climate change. This will require another transformational change that no previous President has been able to bring about, as they were unable to get around a recalcitrant Congress.
This problem is related to our health also. As some public health authorities have declared, global warming (now called “climate change”) will bring dengue fever, malaria, and other mosquito and tick-borne diseases across our borders.
We do of course already have mosquitoes here. In Tucson, we also have lots of kissing bugs and packrats, the intermediate host for Chagas disease. We are not yet reporting transmission of Chagas within the U.S., though we are screening blood donors. And bedbugs and head lice, once uncommon, are becoming rampant everywhere.
We are no longer screening most entrants to the U.S., like we once did at Ellis Island, to keep human carriers of infectious diseases out.
We used to have malaria in Alaska and Siberia, but it was mostly eradicated in the U.S. and Europe by mosquito control. That is, by DDT. In living memory, trucks used to go down the streets of Houston spraying DDT. And Mexican migrant workers were dusted with DDT when they crossed the Rio Grande. Half a billion human lives were saved by DDT—a remarkably safe compound. J. Gordon Edwards used to eat it by the tablespoon at his lectures.
Fortunately, the malaria problem was mostly solved here before William Ruckelshaus, head of Nixon’s Environmental Protection Agency, took it upon himself to ban DDT in 1974—despite a truckload of scientific evidence refuting Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring alarmism.
That’s where the EPA got its power, which has increased by leaps and bounds.
Malaria kills African babies by the millions, and international authorities work to prevent even indoor household spraying of DDT, far and away the best method we have. While the EPA and international health bureaucrats are mostly white guys, this is not racist or genocidal—unlike use of the “N” word now or in the remote past. It is good for population control, which is a high-priority public health goal, and reduces the potential “carbon footprint.”
Obama will use—is using—the massive power of the EPA to fight climate change. Besides dengue fever, he intends to decrease asthma attacks by reducing pollution and seasonal allergies by preventing higher temperatures (with more plant growth producing more pollen).
Although the predicted global warming has been stalled for about 16 years, and we had an exceptionally harsh winter, the warming (or “change,” which could even include “colding”) is in the “pipeline” (not the Keystone Pipeline). All the government-approved scientists say so, and any who rely on government grants dare not dispute them.
The Great Thermostat has been shown to be carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases—specifically those released in human activities such as burning hydrocarbon fuels, as opposed to volcanic eruptions or outgassing from the oceans. Giving the EPA the authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a “pollutant” gives it the power to control virtually everything.
Of course we can’t actually “decarbonize” everything because all living things are made out of organic (carbon-based) chemicals. But we can greatly suppress human-caused emissions. The first target is the coal industry. Obama’s promise to kill the coal industry, particularly coal-fired power plants, is one he is on track to keep. Oil and natural gas are next—restrictions on diesel-fueled trucks, stopping the Pipeline, denying drilling permits even in defiance of court orders, trying to kill fracking, and so on.
The actual effect on global temperature would be negligible even if we could shut down the 40 percent of our electrical generating capacity that depends on coal. But it would be a “good start.”
The public has become unenthusiastic, but Obama is cranking up the sales efforts that work so well for Obamacare. Electricity bills may skyrocket, but think of all the jobs we could have by replacing backhoes with shovels.
More exercise, less meat, fewer calories altogether. Yes, the fight against climate change is good for our health.
About the author/contributor:
Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director of Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, has been in solo practice of general internal medicine since 1981 and is a clinical lecturer in medicine at the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine. She received her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is the author of Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis; the fourth edition has just been published by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. She also authored YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Health Care, published by Crown. She is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a voice for patients’ and physicians’ independence since 1943. Additional information on health-related issues: http://takebackmedicine.com/ Dr. Orient’s position on Obama’s healthcare reform: “The Obama plan will increase individual health insurance costs, and if the federal government puts price controls on the premiums, the companies will simply have to go out of business. The plan will deliver higher costs, more hassles, fewer choices, less innovation, and less patient care.”
[Originally published at AAPS]
Governments have an insatiable appetite for the wealth of their subjects. When governments find it impossible to continue raising taxes or borrowing funds, they have invariably turned to printing paper money to finance their growing expenditures. The resulting inflations have often undermined the social fabric, ruined the economy, and sometimes brought revolution and tyranny in their wake. The political economy of the French Revolution is a tragic example of this.
Before the revolution of 1789, royal France was a textbook example of mercantilism, the eighteenth century system of government control and planning. Nothing was produced or sold, imported or exported, without government approval and regulation.Everywhere the Controlling Hand of Government Regulation
How extensive and pervasive were these regulations of economic activity? The famous French social philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, described it in detail in his book, “The French Revolution and the Old Regime” (1856):
“The government had a hand in the management of all the cities in the kingdom, great and small. It was consulted on all subjects, and gave decided opinions on all; it even regulated festivals. It was the government that gave orders for public rejoicing, fireworks, and illuminations . . .
“You have neither Parliament, nor estates, nor governors; nothing but thirty masters of requests [i.e., the heads of the bureaucratic planning agencies in Paris], on whom, so far as the provinces are concerned, welfare, misery, plenty or want entirely depend . . .
“Under the old regime, as in our own day, neither city, nor borough, nor village, nor hamlet, however small, nor hospital, nor church, nor convent, nor college could exercise a free will in its private affairs, or administer its property, as it thought best. Then, as now, the administration was the guardian of the whole French people . . .
“A very extensive machinery was requisite before the government could know everything and manage everything in Paris. The amounts of documents filed were enormous, and the slowness with which public business was transacted was such that I have been unable to discover any case in which a village obtained permission to raise its church steeple or repair its presbytery in less than a year. Generally speaking, two or three years lapsed before such petitions were granted . . .
“Ministers are overloaded with business details. Everything is done by them or through them, and if their information be not coextensive with their power, they are forced to let their clerks act as they please, and become the real masters of the country [i.e., authority was delegated to a permanent bureaucracy] . . .
“A marked characteristic of the French government, even in those days, was the hatred it bore to everyone, whether noble or not, who presumed to meddle with public affairs without its knowledge. It took fright at the organization of the least public body that ventured to exist without permission. It was disturbed by the formation of free society. It could brook no association but such as it had arbitrarily formed, and over which it presided. In a word, it objected to people looking over their own concerns, and preferred general inertia to rivalry . . .
“Government having assumed the place of Providence, people naturally invoked its aid for their private wants. Heaps of petitions were received from persons who wanted their petty private ends served, always for the public good . . .
“Nobody expected to succeed in any enterprise unless the state helped them. Farmers, who, as a class, are generally stubborn and indocile, were led to believe that the backwardness of agriculture was due to the lack of advice and aid from government . . .
“Sad reading, this: Farmers begging to be reimbursed the value of lost cattle or horses; men in easy circumstances begging for a loan to enable them to work their land to more advantage; manufacturers begging for monopolies to crush out competition; businessmen confiding their pecuniary embarrassments to the intendant [the local bureaucrat], and begging for assistance or a loan. It would appear that the public funds were liable to be used in this way . . .
“France is nothing but Paris and a few distant provinces that Paris has not yet had time to swallow up.”The Costly Extravagance of the King
While the French king’s government regulated economic affairs, the royal court consumed the national wealth. Louis XVI’s personal military guard numbered 9,050 soldiers; his civilian household numbered around 4,000—30 servants were required to serve the king his dinner, four of whom had the task of filling his glass with water or wine. He also had at his service 128 musicians, 75 religious officials, 48 doctors, and 198 persons to care for his body.
The nobility and the clergy were mostly exempt from paying taxes, so the tax burden fell on the “lower classes.” When Louis XVI assumed the throne in 1774, government expenditures were 399.2 million livres, with tax receipts only about 372 million livres, leaving a deficit of 27.2 million livres, or about 7 percent of spending. Loans and monetary expansion that year and in future years made up the difference. The accumulated debt of the royal French government was 2.5 billion livres.
In an attempt to put the government’s finances in order, in July 1774 the king appointed a brilliant economist, Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, to serve as finance minister. Turgot did all in his power to curb government spending and regulation. But every proposed reform increased the opposition from the privileged and the favored – politically connected business groups, power-lusting bureaucrats, the tax-exempt Church organization – and the king finally dismissed him in May 1776.
It was the chaos of the king’s finances that finally resulted in the calling into session of the Estates-General’s in early 1789, followed by the beginning of the French Revolution with the fall of the Bastille in Paris in July 1789. But the new revolutionary authorities were as extravagant in their spending as the king. Vast amounts were spent on public works to create jobs, and 17 million livres were given to the people of Paris in food subsidies.French Revolutionary Paper Money Brings Disaster
On March 17, 1790, the revolutionary National Assembly voted to issue a new paper currency called the “assignat,” and in April, 400 million were put into circulation. Short of funds, the government issued another 800 million at the end of the summer. By late 1791, 1.5 billion assignats were circulating and its purchasing power had decreased 14 percent. In August 1793 the number of assignats had increased to almost 4.1 billion, with its value having depreciated 60 percent. In November 1795 the assignats numbered 19.7 billion, and by then its purchasing power had decreased 99 percent since first issued. In five years the money of revolutionary France had become worth less than the paper it was printed on.
The effects of this monetary collapse were fantastic. A huge debtor class was created with a vested interest in the inflation because depreciating assignats meant debtors repaid in increasingly worthless money. Others had speculated in land, often former Church properties the government had seized and sold off, and their fortunes were now tied to inflationary rises in land values. With money more worthless each day, pleasures of the moment took precedence over long-term planning and investment.
Heinrich von Sybel explained the social and psychological atmosphere of the time in his, “History of the French Revolution” (1882):
“None felt any confidence in the future in any respect; few dared to make business investment for any length of time, and it was accounted a folly to curtail the pleasures of the moment, to acquire or save for an uncertain future . . .
“Whoever possessed a handful of Assignats or silver coins, hastened to spend them in keen enjoyment, and the eager desire to catch at every passing pleasure filled each heart with pulsations, and were frequented with untiring zeal . . .
“The cabarets and cafes were no less filled that the theaters. Evening after evening every quarter of the city [Paris] resounded with music and dancing . . .
“The enjoyments, too, received a peculiar coloring – glaring lights and gloomy shadows – from the recollections and feelings of the Revolution . . .
“In other circles no one was received who had not lost a relative by the guillotine; the fashionable ball-dress imitated the cropped hair and the turned-back collar of those who were led to execution; gentlemen challenged their partners to the dance with a peculiar nod, intended to remind them of the fall of the severed head.”
Goods were hoarded—and thus became scarcer—because sellers expected higher prices tomorrow. Soap became so scarce that Parisian washerwomen demanded that any sellers who refused to sell their product for assignats should be put to death. In February 1793 mobs in Paris attacked more than 200 stores, looting everything from bread and coffee to sugar and clothing.
The first illusions of prosperity of rising prices from paper money creation soon turned to economic stagnation. As Andrew Dickson White explained in “Fiat Money Inflation in France” (1876):
“Under the universal doubt and discouragement, commerce and manufacturing were checked or destroyed. As a consequence, the demand for labor was stopped; laboring men were thrown out of employment, and under the operation of the simplest law of supply and demand, the price of labor – the daily wages of the laboring class – went down.”Costs of Inflation Fall on the Weakest in Society
On who did the burden of the inflation mostly fall? The poorest. Financiers, merchants, and commodity speculators who normally participated in international trade often could protect themselves. They accumulated gold and silver and sent it abroad for safekeeping; they also invested in art and precious jewelry. Their speculative expertise enabled many of them to stay ahead of the inflation and to profit from currency fluctuations. The working class and the poor in general had neither the expertise nor the means to protect the little they had. They were the ones who ended up holding the billions of worthless assignats.
Finally, on December 22, 1795, the government decreed that the printing of the assignats should stop. Gold and silver transactions were permitted again after having been banned and were recognized as legally binding. On February 18, 1796, at 9 o’clock in the morning, the printing presses, plates, and paper used to make assignats were taken to the Place Vendôme and before a huge crowd of Parisians were broken and burned.Price Controls Bring Even More Disaster to France
As the inflation grew worse, an outcry was heard from “the people” that prices must be prevented from rising. On May 4, 1793, the National Assembly imposed price controls on grain and specified that it could only be sold in public markets under the watchful eye of state inspectors, who were also given the authority to break into merchants’ private homes and confiscate hoarded grain and flour. Destruction of commodities under government regulation was made a capital offense.
In September 1793 the price controls were extended to all goods declared to be of “primary necessity.” Prices were prohibited from rising more than one-third from their level in 1790. And wages were placed under similar control in the spring of 1794. Nonetheless, commodities soon disappeared from the markets. Paris cafes found it impossible to obtain sugar; food supplies decreased as farmers refused to send their produce to the cities.
During the Jacobin Republic of 1792–1794 in revolutionary France, a swarm of regulators spread across France imposing price ceilings and intruding into every corner of people’s lives; they imposed death sentences, confiscated wealth and property, and sent men, women, and children to prison and slave labor. In the name of the war effort, after revolutionary France came into conflict with many of its neighbors, all industries in any way related to national defense or foreign trade were placed under the direct control of the state; prices, production, and distribution of all goods by private enterprises were under government command.
A huge bureaucracy emerged to manage all this, and that bureaucracy swallowed up increasing portions of the nation’s wealth.The Collective Is Everything, the Individual Nothing
This all followed naturally from the premises of the Jacobin mind, which under the shadow of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s notion of the “general will” argued that the state had the duty to impose a common purpose on everyone. The individual was nothing; the state was everything. The individual became the abstraction, and the state the reality.
Not even the family had autonomous existence in the new French collectivist society. As one of the leading French revolutionaries declared: “The principles that ought to guide parents are that children belong to the general family, to the Republic, before they belong to particular families. The spirit of private families must disappear when the great family calls. You are born for the Republic and not for the pride or the despotism of families.”
Those who did not see the “general will” would be taught; those who resisted the teaching would be commanded; and those who resisted the commands would perish, because only “enemies of the people” would oppose the collectivist Truth.The End to the Controls and the Freeing of Prices
In late 1794 were the anti-Jacobin Thermidorians gained the upper hand in the government and brought the infamous French reign of terror to an end. At the same time advocates of a freer market were able to make their case.
One of them, M. Eschasseriaux, declared, “A system of economy is good . . . when the farmer, the manufacturer, and the trader enjoy the full liberty of their property, their production, and their industry.”
And his colleague, M. Thibaudeau, insisted, “I regard the Maximum [the price controls] as disastrous, as the source of all the misfortunes we have experienced. It has opened a career for thieves, covered France with a hoard of smugglers, and ruined honest men who respect the law . . . I know that when you violate commercial liberty you are subjected to great inconveniences. I know that when the government attempts to regulate everything, all is lost.”
Finally, on December 27, 1794, the price and wage controls were lifted, and market-based terms of trade were once again allowed. And following the end of the assignats a year later, goods once more flowed to the market and a degree of prosperity was restored—until Napoleon’s experiments in government planning when he shortly came to power in France.
In our own time, democratic majorities have replaced the absolute monarchs of that earlier period. But the thirst for power and plunder through political means remains the same. When taxes or borrowing are insufficient to cover all that government wants to spend, the handle of the monetary printing press is still turn, even if today it involves the simple click of the “mouse” that magically creates tens of billions of dollars or Euros on the computer screen of a central bank.
And it still carries with it the potential destabilization and destruction of the economic and social fabrics of society when let loose without limit and not stopped in time.
[Originally published at EpicTimes]
The news that some forty veterans died whlle waiting to receive care from a Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital—care that was denied because of bureaucratic chicanery—will seem small in comparison to the numbers of Americans who will die from the implications of Obamacare.
At this point, some nineteen VA hospitals are under suspicion of engaging in similar practices, but as large as the VA bureaucracy is, it will be small in comparison to what Obamacare requires. The original legislation that combined the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act represented nearly 2,700 pages.
The regulations that are being created to implement it will run to several volumes. By late 2013, the Obama administration had published 11,588,500 words of final Obamacare regulations. If looks can kill, that many words will surely kill. Too many people will be unble to get the care they need because there will be a regulation to prevent it.
What is making headlines now has long been known in other nations with national healthcare systems. It is about rationing, not dispensing care; if for no other reason that is why healthcare should remain in the private sector.
Unless a future Congress repeals Obamacare, the death toll will mount. There have been some forty or more pieces of legislation to repeal it passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. No Republican voted for Obamacare when it was introduced.
What we know is that, while serving on the oversight committee, then-Senator Obama was aware of the VA problems before he ran for President. In 2009, as President, he promised veterans to fix the problems. How concerned is he in 2014? There has been a noticeable lack of public comment from a President famed for having something to say about everything that makes headlines.
Add the VA scandal to the long list of Obama administration scandals from the IRS to Benghazi, but it is Obamacare that has already been a monumental failure and, as we begin to receive news of those who will die as because a local hospital closed or because they lost the care of a personal physician familiar with their problem, it will emerge as the greatest scandal of his presidency.
On March 23, 2010 Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. By October, the Obama administration abandoned the long-term-care insurance program that was in the law. It was later formally repealed by Congress, but the changes that President has initiated since then ignore the fact that only Congress, as the legislative branch, has the power to make such changes.
December 2012 was the deadline for states to decide on running their own insurance exchanges; 36 states left all or part of the job to the federal government. In the lead up to the October 2013 launch of HealthCare.gov more delays were announced by the White House and the website turned out to be a complete disaster. That same month insurers notified thousands of policy holders that their health plans were not compliant with Obamacare and would be cancelled.
In effect, Obamacare caused hundreds of thousands of people with healthcare plans they liked to lose them, thus artificially increasing the number of “uninsured”. In April the White House announced that seven million had signed up for Obamacare. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, gave notice she was resigning. The figure cited by the White House is likely dubious.
In May, an article in The Fiscal Times reported that “A handful of state-run exchange websites—which cost nearly a half a billion dollars to build—still don’t work, nearly seven months after they first went live.” The Fiscal Times estimated that Obamacare websites had cost $5 billion and so many were not functional that the original plan to transition signups to them from HealthCare.gov was likely to be abandoned.
To mark the anniversary of Obamacare’s enactment, in March 2014 the American Action Forum released a report that the law’s regulatory burdens are twice as great as its alleged benefits. “From a regulatory perspective, the law has imposed more than $27.2 billion in total private sector costs, $8 billion in unfunded state burdens, and more than 159 million paperwork hours on local governments and affected entities.”
It’s rarely mentioned or reported, but the implementation of Obamacare will also require an increase in the number of people either full-time or under contract with the federal government. The highest estimate for new Internal Revenue Service hires is around 16,000 as the IRS has been put in charge of enforcing Obamacare. It already employs about 100,000 people nationwide which means there is one IRS employee for every 3,000 Americans.
In an April 4 Forbes magazine article, “Obamacare Shows America Suffers from a President Dangerously Disconnected From Reality”, Peter Ferrera, a Heartland Institute Senior Fellow specializing in entitlement and budget policy, concluded that the numbers of those insured by Obamacare were largely a fabrication or invalidated in some cases by data that the Health and Human Services Department released.
“Obamacare,” wrote Ferrera, “has been a major drag on the economy, preventing full recovery from the recession. Employers trying to avoid the costs of the employer mandate have reduced many full time jobs to part time jobs. Or that have frozen hiring, and the associated costs due to Obamacare. This is contributing to income stagnation and decline for the middle class, the working class, and the poor.”
L. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center asked “How do we know Obamacare is failing? They’re burying the story. They aren’t in denial. They know the truth. They’re just choosing to ignore it.”
A Center analysis of the three network evening news broadcasts from January through March found only twelve full stories about Obamacare. “None of the networks dared to report the ongoing opposition of the American people to Obamacare” over that period of time, even when they were the ones doing the polling!
The real story of Obamacare, however, isn’t about who signed up or not. The real story of Obamacare that is not being reported is about those who have died and will die as the result of this horrendous experiment in socialized medicine.
© Alan Caruba, 2014
Net neutrality activists succeeded last week in getting the FCC to officially consider ruling that private broadband companies should be price and profit regulated like public utilities in order to ensure maximal net neutrality.
As part of the FCC’s proposed Open Internet rulemaking, America will hear a debate over the next several months about whether the FCC should reclassify broadband as a Title II telephone monopoly service.
To make the issue more understandable to those interested, consider the top ten reasons why broadband should not be considered a natural monopoly warranting public utility regulation of profits, prices, terms and conditions.
Physics: The physics of broadband delivery facilitate competition while the physics of electricity, water and gas delivery facilitate monopoly. Electricity, water and gas can only be delivered in one basic physical manner unique to that service. In contrast, broadband can be delivered electrically over many kinds of metal wires, optically over fiber optic cables, and wirelessly in a wide variety of ways.
Digital: The simple binary ones and zeros of digital computer technology inherently enable many different technologies and physical mediums to interchangeability serve as broadband networks. Electricity, water and gas public utility networks are non-digital and inherently not interchangeable like broadband networks are.
Economics: Public utilities are based on single-use, high-capital-intensity, “natural monopoly” utility economics, where economies of scale and scope preclude the possibility of competitive facilities and services. Being digital, broadband provider facilities inherently have dramatically better economics because of multi-use-facilities, service bundles, rapidly declining digital equipment costs, and lower capital-cost intensity via wireless.
Choice: Public utilities exist for services where consumers have no alternative or choice. However, in broadband Internet access, the vast majority of Americans have a diversity of choices of broadband technologies, providers, services and features; i.e. free WiFi or pay-for-service via cable modem, DSL, fiber, wireless, or satellite. Consumers can also choose between stationary, mobile or hybrid access services and select from a wide variety of speed and price offerings.
Competition: As one of the top-advertised services in America, consumers know they can get broadband from their local cable company, local phone company, four national wireless broadband companies (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, & T-Mobile), and two national satellite companies.
Private Investment: Private investors have invested $1.2 trillion of long-term risk capital in competitive broadband facilities in the U.S. over the last decade under the assumptions that broadband is a competitive service with growth potential and no prospect of utility regulation. This massive and unparalleled infrastructure investment is incontrovertible economic evidence broadband service is not a “natural monopoly,” or likely to become one.
Change: Public utility services are characterized by standard uniformity and glacial rates of change. In contrast, competitive broadband services are characterized by diversity, differentiation, rapid-change, and continuous innovation.
Speed: Public utilities like electricity, water and gas, are designed to deliver a set and uniform delivery speed to everyone that is never expected to change. Competitive broadband networks are all about constantly improving the speed of delivery and offering the choice of differentiated speeds by price based on consumers’ ever-changing needs, wants and means.
Prioritization: Public electricity, water and gas utilities deliver uniform unchanging service that requires only availability management. In contrast, competitive broadband providers deliver variable, constantly changing service that requires ongoing reasonable network management. Broadband providers must filter unwanted, harmful or illegal traffic like spam, viruses, malware, bot-nets, denial-of-service-attacks, and other intrusions and infections. In addition, reasonable network management is needed to address congestion, and to deliver quality-of-service to ensure different types of traffic enjoy the necessary real-time delivery – no latency, jitter or buffering – and minimal down time or packet loss.
Common Carriage: Utility “common carrier” regulation is an obsolete form of network regulation in the U.S., and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is the last common carrier utility regulated network industry. Less than a quarter of Americans still use the PSTN exclusively and it is in the process of being transitioned out of service in the next few years. Congress ended common carrier regulation for railroads in 1976, for trucking and bus lines in 1980, and airlines in 1984.
Broadband networks do not have any of the most relevant characteristics of public utility services.
Any fair and fact-based analysis by the FCC will confirm the statements above, and show that FCC reclassification of broadband as a common carrier-regulated utility is unnecessary, unwarranted, unwise and unfair.
Scott Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is President of Precursor LLC, a research consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, and Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests.
The all-encompassing government-Internet-power-grab that is Network Neutrality rarely gets outside-the-Tech-World media attention. But Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in Democrat Party-line fashion to begin its process of imposing it. This was a big enough deal that it garnered over-the-weekend Big Media coverage from ABC (with a Bloomberg assist) and PBS (with a Washington Post assist).
And it will shock you to learn that they only provided the pro-regulation side of the discussion – leaving out myriad essential points that are at cross-purposes with their government-growth efforts.
Their reporting was in fact so warped that – as huge as the FCC’s power grab is – there was palpable upset that the Commission didn’t go further. And hope that it will increase its overreach as the process moves forward.
ABC’s This Week host (and former President Bill Clinton staffer) George Stephanopoulos first ran a Jeff Zeleny terribly mal-informed recorded piece. In which the only person with whom Zeleny spoke was Tim Wu - the creator of Net Neutrality. Wu was not identified as having done so – his opinion was merely taken at face value and presented unopposed.
PBS’s News Hour host (and author of a book effusively praising of President Barack Obama) Gwen Ifill read a brief, mildly awful introductory piece.
Then came the near mirror-image interviews – in that they both pushed the same inaccurate information about what the FCC’s power grab will mean. Stephanopoulos spoke with Bloomberg Television anchor Cory Johnson - Ifill with Washington Post National Tech Reporter Cecilia Kang.
No one – questioners, answerers or or set piece reporters – ever mentioned that there have been no Net Neutrality regulations for the entire life of the Internet. During which it has grown into the unbelievably dynamic, free speech-free market Xanadu we all know and love.
Had viewers been told this, they would unquestionably ask “If it ain’t broke – why is the perpetually-broken government trying to fix it?”
No one mentioned that the FCC has already twice tried to impose Net Neutrality – and twice had it unanimously thrown out by the D.C. Circuit Court as outside the bounds of their authority.
Unquestionably viewers would look on the FCC even more dubiously if they knew this was their third totally unnecessary attempt at imposition.
Here’s some of what Kang and Johnson did decide to discuss.
Kang: What was approved today could change that structure, in that Internet service provides — that’s your telecom and cable company that provide the Internet into your home — can decide to charge Web sites for faster or premium delivery of content. And that means higher quality content.
Johnson: (T)his changes the future of — all of the stuff we do on the internet, whether it’s business, whether it’s personal interactions, watching movies on Netflix, all those things will be changed by this decision.
So much wrong to unpack here.
“Change” implies it wasn’t allowed before. In fact Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have all along been allowed to charge huge bandwidth hogs like Netflix and Google for being huge bandwidth hogs – no Net Neutrality regs ever, remember? Quite a few such deals have already been made or discussed.
It’s a basic economic precept – Use-More-Pay-More.
(A) new study from broadband service company Sandvine…estimates YouTube and Netflix combine to account for just over half of all peak-hour download traffic in the United States and around 45% of all total traffic including uploads.
If the media had their way, government would mandate that gas stations charge the same for empty Escalades and Escorts.
More Kang and Johnson:
Kang: And what they (the Leftist protestors) were saying is, they don’t like the idea, again, of fast lanes on the Internet….
So the FCC can rewrite, re-tweak this idea, especially on fast lanes.
Johnson: And what this decision is trying to do is allow certain companies to have their own fast lane on the internet.
“Fast lanes” have not been – and will not be – created. What the ISPs will do is move huge-bandwidth-consuming content – like Netflix and YouTube videos – closer to the off-ramps from the Information Superhighway to your home.
No other content gets any slower. In fact it’ll likely get faster – by getting these bandwidth beasts out of the way. Imagine taking all the 18-wheelers off the highways – would that not improve traffic for the rest of us?
We do know that without these deals everyone will pay much more for Internet service. Because the government will force all of us to pay the huge bandwidth costs of Netflix and Google. Thereby subsidizing the profits of Netflix and Google. Crony Socialism, anyone?
There was much more media wrongness and omission – but you by now get the gist.
Neither ABC-Bloomberg nor PBS-Washington Post were interested in accurately reporting the FCC’s Net Neutrality power grab.
They were instead working on getting it done – and in fact expanding it.
[Originally published at NewsBusters]
EUCI, an industry leader in conferences, seminars, and short courses for the energy industry is hosting a two-day course on “An In-Depth Tax Planning for Renewable Energy Projects”.
The course is June 9-10, 2014 in San Diego, California. Course overview is, “This course is designed to give investors, users, developers, and their advisers an in-depth understanding of the tax issues involved in the development and structure of renewable energy projects.”
Rewards of tax dollars for the renewable energy industry are so great it takes tax experts days of explanations to locate all possibilities. Additional subsidies are available from the federal government in forms of tax credits, loan guarantees, grants, and possible mandates for energy source use.
To add to lucrative federal renewable energy subsidies, many states add to the list and make costs of some projects approach zero. These subsidies are in the form of tax credits, tax benefits, loans, mandates for energy use (called renewable portfolio standards -RPS), and buybacks of excess electricity produced by renewable systems by local utilities (called net metering). State subsidies are given by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).
In August 2013, Ernst & Young published their report “United States Renewable Attractiveness Index Energy” that lists the top 25 states for renewable energy. Factors applied in the listing are All Renewables Index, Individual Technology Index, Renewable Structure Index, and Infrastructure Index. The All Renewables Index is scored by Long-term wind index–45%, Long-term Solar index–45%, Biomass index–5%, and Geothermal–5%.
For the Long-term Solar Index, California has a commanding lead over all states followed by Hawaii and Nevada in second and third place. New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Arizona round out the top seven with the Southwest the strong market for utility-scale solar developments.
The losers over these subsidies are taxpayers with higher taxes or obligations to pay increased debt and electricity rate payers with higher electricity prices. California has the highest renewable energy portfolio of 33 percent electricity generated by renewables by 2020. For February 2014, the CA residential electricity rate is 16.18 cents per kilowatt-hour versus the national average of 11.88 cents per kilowatt-hour—a 36 percent increase. Georgia which presently has no requirement for renewable energy has a residential rate of 10.89 cents per kilowatt-hour.
It is hard to estimate costs of renewable energy subsidies. Breitbart wrote in December 2013 renewable energy subsidies since 1973 were $154 billion. I suspect this figure is direct payments from the federal government and does not include subsidies from state governments or assistance from federal and state tax codes. Annual subsidies today have to exceed $10 billion. Renewable energy subsidies support President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to curtail fossil fuel use and replace it with renewable energy sources.
To give an example of state renewable energy subsidies, Georgia is examined.
Georgia being a Southern agriculture state, it is hard to resist calling their renewable energy subsidies watermelons—green on the outside and red from bleeding red ink on the inside.
As a Republican state, DSIRE gives a long list of subsidies available to residential and commercial energy users. Particularly attractive are tax credits for solar energy and alternative-fueled vehicles—tax credits are limited to $5 million per year per category for both residential and commercial ventures. In addition, Georgia gave a $6.2 million grant to Range Fuels for cellulosic ethanol (company bankrupted in 2012) and $10,000 grants to filling stations for dedicating one pump for E-85 for three years. The latter subsidy was found from interviews of managers of two Atlanta filling stations carrying E-85 in 2011.
The Georgia Public Service Commission (GAPSC) had no problems promoting use of solar energy in Georgia. On July 11, 2013, GAPSC implemented a renewable portfolio standard for Georgia by requiring Georgia Power Co. to buy 525 Megawatts of new solar energy by the end of 2016. As a reward for this mandate, the Georgia Solar Energy Association awarded GAPSC its annual solar advocacy award shown by three smiling commissioners accepting their plaques. It should be noted Georgia is not on the Ernst & Young list of top 25 states for renewable energy use.
Also add Georgia’s government is mute through agencies like GAPSC to EPA’s Proposed CO2 Rule for New Power Plants that allow no future coal plant construction. On May 26, 2011, the EPA had public hearings in Atlanta on proposed rules on mercury abatement. This was followed by public hearings on reducing carbon dioxide pollution from new power plants October 23, 2013. Representing The Heartland Institute, I gave both written and verbal testimony against EPA’s proposed rulings at the May 26 and October 23 public hearings. No one from GAPSC testified at these public hearing even though their offices are within walking distance. Silence on President Obama’s attempts to eliminate fossil fuels for electricity generation by Georgia’s officials can be interpreted as acquiescence. Commissioner Echols did testify in Washington EPA should allow Georgia greater flexibility in enforcing EPA rules.
Georgia has joined Common Core for k-12 education whose science portion is shown corrupted by climate change propaganda. Unless Common Core is abandoned or modified, Georgia’s children will be trained as advocates for President Obama’s climate action plan.
All these items make a good case Georgia is quite supportive of Obama Administration’s efforts to eliminate fossil fuel use and make substitutions of more expensive, unreliable renewable energy sources. President Obama could ask for no better support for his policies unless one traveled to strong Democrat states.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER STATES?
DSIRE can be used to gather information on financial incentives supporting renewable energy programs of the Obama Administration. Other means of support by supporting Common Core or failure to make stands in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline and opposing EPA’s onerous air pollution rules to strike down fossil fuel use can be interpreted as support for President Obama’s energy policies. Other programs to inhibit economic progress are edicts from government agencies to stop oil and natural gas production, logging, and mining on government lands. Silence can be interpreted as agreement.
An important national election takes place this fall and voters should assess their candidates to determine if they support energy policies that exploit the nation’s abundance of coal, oil, and natural gas. Policies to curtail fossil fuel use and replace them with renewable energy sources will keep the nation on a road to economic decline that has been displayed the past half dozen years.
Smart votes need to be cast.
James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering and policy advisor The Heartland Institute
This is ridiculous.No scientist denies that climate changes. Geology professor Tim Patterson of Carleton University explains, “Climate is and always has been variable. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually.” Scientists like Patterson deny that they deny climate change—they are denial deniers.
If anyone could rationally be labeled climate change deniers, it is those who hold the absurd view that our climate was relatively tranquil until the arrival of humans. They seem to not know that half of North America was under a vast ice sheet only 22,000 years ago. And, as Patterson has written, “Ten thousand years ago… temperatures rose as much as 6 degrees Celsius in a decade — 100 times faster than the past century’s 0.6 degrees Celsius warming.”
The deniers label is an attempt to equate those who question political correctness on climate to Holocaust deniers. It is designed to frighten dissenters into silence. Besides having no place in civilized discourse, it is a fundamental error in reasoning, an “ad hominem” logical fallacy — against the man, instead of the idea.
Ad hominem attacks are only one of the fallacies poisoning the climate debate. Campaigners regularly use guilt by association, straw man arguments and appeals to emotion, motive and authority to divert the public from considering the arguments of skeptics. Dr. Tim Ball, former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg, has even received death threats for his outspoken candor. Ball remarks, “I didn’t choose to be a climate skeptic for my health.”
So rather than become embroiled in such unpleasantness, many of the world’s leading climate experts stay out of the public debate, a serious loss to societies grappling with this important issue.
Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a leading Swedish climate scientist and research fellow at the University of Reading, is a case in point. After defecting from the climate alarmist camp and, two weeks ago, joining the advisory council of Britain’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a think tank of climate change skeptics, Bengtsson quickly decided to quit the group. In his resignation letter, he explained, “I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety.”
The idea that there is a consensus among experts that we face a human-caused climate crisis is unfounded. There has never been a reputable worldwide poll of climate scientists that demonstrates that a majority of them believe that our carbon dioxide emissions cause dangerous climate change. Australia-based climate data analyst John McLean has demonstrated that, even among the thousands of scientists who worked on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports, only a few dozen of them actually commented on the issue, and some of those disagreed with the view that activists attribute to all of them.
Statements by national science academies are equally unsubstantiated. Not a single national science body that officially supports the climate scare has demonstrated that a majority of their scientist members actually agree with their academy’s position. Their statements are simply the politically expedient opinions of the groups’ executives, or small committees appointed by the executives.
The lack of any known consensus is not surprising. Dr. Chris Essex, professor of applied mathematics at The University of Western Ontario explains, “Climate is one of the most challenging open problems in modern science. Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved.”
Not only are today’s computerized climate models (the basis of the alarm) not known to represent climate properly, they cannot be programmed to do so because we do not know the underlying science well enough to know what to program the computers to compute. Yet, on this basis, the developed world is revamping its entire energy infrastructure.
The most comprehensive reports about the current state of climate science are those of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Citing thousands of peer-reviewed scientific references published in the world’s leading science journals, NIPCC reports show clearly that today’s climate is not unusual and the evidence for future climate calamity is weak. Yet, fearing angry backlash from climate campaigners, governments worldwide ignore the NIPCC, choosing instead to base policy only on the IPCC.
Our leaders must seek input from all reputable experts, regardless of their scientific opinion. Considering what’s at stake — a human-induced eco-collapse if alarmists are correct, or, if skeptics are right, a waste of trillions of dollars and a loss of millions of jobs — no other approach is acceptable.
[Originally published at The Garden Island]
On Tuesday, May 13, the Northern Illinois Patriots , President Greg Clements, sponsored Dr. Duke Pesta, Freedom Project Education Academy Director — an online school offering a complete classical education for students from Kindergarten through High School, free from public school spin and Common Core indoctrination — as its featured speaker at Austin’s Saloon and Eatery, 481 Peterson Road in Libertyville. Dr. Pesta’s topic: “Common Core: Dangers and Threats.”
As a teacher himself, Dr. Pesta is not anti-teacher despite his negative opinion of Common Core. If truth be told, many teachers oppose Common Core but are told to keep quiet or lose their jobs. Pesta received his MA in Renaissance literature from John Carroll University and his Ph.D. in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature from Purdue University.
He has taught at major research institutions and small liberal arts colleges, and has been active in education reform, developing and implementing an elective Bible course that is currently available for public high school students in Texas. Currently he is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh in addition to his role as Academic Director of Freedom Project Education.
The chilling truth behind the new national standards are sure to terrify you, as they did to those who attended the Northern Illinois Patriots event. A question Dr Pesta asks at the beginning of each of his events is how many are familiar with Common Core? As is the case most often, 90 to 95% are still foggy about the nature of Common Core.
Dr. Duke Pesta, using research done by others, presented Common Core as the drive it is toward complete government control of our children’s education through a series a slides and commentary titled, “Common Core: Dangers and Threats.” Dr. Pesta considers Common Core a hugely bi-partisan problem. In Wisconsin Republicans refused to allow a vote to be held on Common Core legislation. Nationally, Jeb Bush and Chris Christy are in total support of Common Core, as is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Duke Pesta divided his presentation into three parts
Part 1: How did Common Core come about? a Research Fellow in Education at the Heartland Institute
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) implies that that all states were consulted before they signed on to Common Core, as though it were a democratic thing instead of Banana Republic tactics. Not so! Joy Pullman, a Research Fellow in Education at the Heartland Institute, traces the writing of Common Core back to five individuals. One of its writers, David Coleman is considered the chief architect of Common Core. According to Dr. Pesta, Coleman is not qualified to write on any subject. Worrisome is that Coleman has since moved on to become president of the College Board where he will integrate the AP assessments with Common Core standards.
Hence, the curriculum was written by a small group of individuals and then copyrighted by two Washington lobbyists group, making it devoid of any government ownership. This is important because the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Acts was the first federal attempt to regulate and finance schools. In 1979 the law that created the Department of Education forbids it to exercise “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” or “program of instruction” of any school system. The mechanism of control were the tests all students had to take to be written by the people who created Common Core. To pass the tests, the Common Core curriculum had to be taught. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $170 million to support the creation and implementation of Common Core State Standards. To date they have contributed $2.5 billion.
But there is no way Common Core could have been brought into the nation’s schools given that it was the product of a small group of activists supported by billionaire Bill Gates. As background, in 2001, President G.W. Bush came up with “No Child Left Behind” which he gave over to Senator Ted Kennedy to write. “No Child Left Behind” was a disaster from the beginning as it was based on “outcome” education, which is akin to socialism. Every single child was expected to meet the same arbitrary standard through high stakes testing.
Fast forward to 2009. President Obama is now in office. It was in 2009 that President Obama took $5.1 billion of taxpayer money and offered it to states to sign on to his “Race to the Top” program. The catch: If states accepted “Race to the Top” money they had to accept Common Core State Standards (CSSS) sight unseen. Additionally, a waiver was granted to states so they could opt out of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program if they signed on to Obama’s” Race to the Top” program.
Forty-four states agreed to trade their K-12 math and English targets and tests for those of the Common Core’s State Standards yet to be written. Now that CC is in place, in some states longer than others, Dr. Pesta looks upon Common Core as “No Child Left Behind of steroids.” He also refers to Common Core as a social justice curriculum that comes before the ABC’s. Remaining at its core is a one-size fits all definition of education. But what if the high standards can’t be met? It becomes obvious that the only way to get more children to the same place is in time to lower standards.
Part 2: Nature of Common Core Curriculum
Although it is often said that Common Core is not a curriculum but a set of standards, Common Core standards are being put into textbooks which then become curriculum. Pierson, as the largest education product sales company on earth, has a monopoly on education products, including textbooks. This month Bill Gates — the second richest man on earth who almost single-handedly funded and marketed the entire Common Core movement going back to UNESCO and its goal to bring a master curriculum worldwide — has joined forces with Piersen to create a one size fits all curriculum. Although it is claimed that states can deviate 15% from what is being taught in other states, if this were true there would have to be a different test for each state.
Dr. James Milgram, professor of mathematics at Stanford University, and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, as members of the Common Core Validation Review Panel were the only experts on the panel in their subject area. Both Milgram a math expert and Stotsky an English expert refused to give Common Core Math and English standards, respectively, a good recommendation as did the rest of the panel. Both have gone on to testify with a warning voice to state legislatures and school boards about the inadequacy of the standards.
Hear Dr. Milgram talk about “What happened to Math education and why Common Core won’t help.”
James Mlgram points out these flaws of the new Core Curriculum math standards:
•By the end of fifth grade the material being covered in arithmetic and algebra in Core Standards is more than a year behind the early grade expectations in most high achieving countries. By the end of seventh grade Core Standards are roughly two years behind.
•Core Mathematics Standards are written to reflect very low expectations and do not reflect the mathematics education that underlie the results in the high achieving countries. The explicitly stated objective is to prepare students not to have to take remedial mathematics courses at a typical community college.
Common Core applies a never before seen methodology in the way common math problems are solved. Parents can no longer help their children with simple addition and subtraction not understanding the system. Staking of numbers is no longer permitted, instead children must draw dots, circles, squares, etc., to come up with the answer.
Dr. Pesta used as a demonstration a Champion News video of a Grayslake D46 Curriculum Coordinator relating how under the new Common Core math system if a child determines that 3 + 4 is 11, that’s perfectly fine if the child is able to explain how he arrived at the answer. Even if a child can do math beyond his grade level, he must stay put and not try to move to a higher level.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky has come to refer to Common Core standards as propaganda. Hear Dr. Sandra Stotsky describe “What are the major problems with Common Core English Standards?”
Dr. Stotsky’s concerns about Common Core can be read here.
•Common Core is a step backwards for English Standards. The architects of Common Core’s English Language Arts standards never claimed that their standards would do so; rather, they claimed the standards would make all students “college-ready,”
•Common Core English standards require English teachers to emphasize skills, not literary or cultural knowledge, such as how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text at all grade levels, which may lead to a decreased capacity for analytical thinking.
•Common Core standards require English teachers to teach “informational” texts over 50% of their reading instructional time rather than literary texts. There are, however, 30 book sexually unfit for high school kids to read on the Common Core approved reading list, one such book for the 11th grade: The Bluest Eye.
•Writing is emphasized more than reading, but kids only learn to write well after they can read well. When writing they will most likely write what they read in their textbooks such as the global warming, threat, ways to save the planet, or a denial of American exceptionalism.
Following my appearance on the Daily Show, I’ve received emails and phone calls from people who don’t agree with my views about energy and the advantages America’s energy abundance provides—benefits that drive both progress and prosperity.
Some of the emails can’t be read in polite company, but one that can asked: “Please explain how energy from mountain top removal, fracking, and tar sands makes America great.” The word choices Greg selected tell me that he isn’t truly seeking enlightenment and is instead aiming to antagonize me. The next day, he sent another: “I have yet to hear back on this simple question. Please respond.” It does seem like a simple question. One I should be able to answer in an instant. But I didn’t want to offer platitudes. I felt the question deserved a thoughtful answer. So, Greg, here you are.I’ve spent the past couple of days at a conference on “Energy, Economics and Liberty.” There discussions took place on the energy debate, government’s role, market solutions, and the geo-politics of energy. About twenty men—all experts in various aspects of energy—attended. I wasn’t just the only female I was the only energy advocate. The topics brought Greg’s request to mind and the conversations helped form the answers.
One of the participants, Jim Clarkson, wrote an article titled: “The Shale Gas Paradigm,” in which he states: “Increased access to energy is a key to economic progress in the undeveloped world.” Similarly, in my book, Energy Freedom, I quote Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry, who says: “Electricity is the energy commodity that separates the developed countries from the rest. Countries that can provide cheap and reliable electric power to their citizens can grow their economies and create wealth. Those who can’t, can’t.”
Senate Major Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) once said: “Oil and gas are making us sick.” But I contend that they—along with coal—are the very things keeping us well. In Energy Freedom’s introduction, I point out: “Energy saves lives. When fire strikes or hurricanes are bearing down upon a city, it is energy—in this case in the form of gasoline—that allows people to drive away and escape death. … When weather is extreme, it is energy—usually in the form of electricity (most frequently from coal or natural gas)—that keeps people alive. Air conditioning allows people to live in comfort in Arizona in the summer. Heating keeps people from freezing to death in Alaska in the winter. Energy keeps us well. Energy makes us comfortable.”
The Energy, Economics and Liberty conference was hosted by the Liberty Fund. On its website, it offers this definition of liberty: “the beginning and the source of happiness from which all beneficial things flow in return.” Much like liberty, energy is the source from which many beneficial things flow. Energy has been a source of America’s freedom, a big part of what has made America great.
The conflicts in Ukraine have made the importance of energy freedom clear. Because of being on the Daily Show talking about fracking, I’ve been given other opportunities to address the topic. One was with former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura for his show Off the Grid. At the end of the twenty-minute interview, he asked me for closing comments. I said something like: “Because of fracking, OPEC would never be able to use energy as a weapon as it did to America in 1973 and as we see Russia doing to Ukraine today.”
Greg’s email to me used terms that lead to three different energy sources: coal, natural gas, and oil—and each have been big contributors to America’s progress and prosperity. Each has made the personal lives of Americans more pleasant and less painful. Together these energy sources have made America energy secure.
The email used the term “mountain top removal,” which is a method by which coal can be mined. It is safer than underground mines because it removes the risk of mine accidents, the horror of which we’ve recently witnessed in Turkey. (Note: America has far more stringent mining regulations today than does most of the world.) Greg likely selected the term “mountain top removal” because it sounds harsh. In fact, in the mountainous regions of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, this surface mining process allows for hospitals, housing developments, shopping centers to be built—all which bring more economic development and much needed jobs.
I’ve toured regions where “mountain top removal” is being done and stood on top of the massive coal seam. The procedure is amazing. Picture the region like lots of upside down ice cream cones next to each other. Hills and valleys—but no place to create a community. In that mountain is a thick layer of coal that goes all the way through the mountain, north to south, east to west. To access it, the dirt, the tip of the ice cream cone, is taken off and the coal is removed.
In the past, when the coal had been extracted, a private landowner could ask the mining company to level out the land—making it economically productive. However, today’s regulations take away that property owner’s rights and require that the mountain be rebuilt and put back to its original condition. If the landowner wants to turn his land into a housing development, he then has to incur the expense of, once again, removing the peak and leveling the land.
The coal provides, and has provided, America with low-cost, base-load electricity—which, as we’ve already addressed, has given us a competitive advantage in the global marketplace and unmatched personal progress. And, therefore, energy from mountain top removal makes America Great.
Fracking—short for hydraulic fracturing—combined with the amazing technology of horizontal drilling, has brought America into a new era of energy abundance. Clarkson states: “Gas using industries are expanding while we enjoy a distinct advantage over the rest of the world.” He explains: “Shale gas lay worthless beneath the earth’s surface for the whole of man’s previous existence until human intelligence made it valuable”—and that was done with fracking.
One of the definitions of liberty found at Dictionary.com is: “freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.” Clarkson points out: “There were no federal programs with subsidies, tax breaks, and mandated markets to favor the shale industry. …The new shale order of things is a triumph of free enterprise over government planning. The shale revolution shows that the good old American know-how and individual initiative that made this country great have survived the burden of big government and can still create economic miracles.” Clarkson closes with: “Some observers are already calling this the century of natural gas. This could also be the century of prosperity, free markets, and optimism as America regains its energy mojo.”
Unlike the pariah Greg presumes fracking to be, it is responsible for the shale gas phenomena.
Last, Greg asked about tar sands and how they make America great. Tar sands, or oil sands, allow America to get oil from our friendly Canadian neighbor and reduce our need to import OPEC’s oil. We then refine that oil into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel that fuels our transportation fleet—something that wind and solar power cannot do.
I have been to the oil sands of Canada and what they are doing there is, like fracking and horizontal drilling, a technological miracle.
If you have ever walked on a California beach and stepped on a tar ball (created when the oil seeps out of the ground and is washed ashore mixed with sand), you have a clue what the tar sands are like. The naturally occurring tar sands are a layer in the earth (much like coal). This layer has raw crude oil mixed with the dirt/sands. I recall driving to the tar sands from the town where we stayed. As the elevation increased, I noticed that trees reached a certain height and then died. It was explained that as soon as the roots hit the bitumen (or tar) it kills the tree.
At the extraction site, the tar sands are bulldozed and dumped into giant trucks (much like surface coal mining). The tar and sand mixture is processed to separate the oil and the sand. (Think of taking that tar ball from the beach and boiling it. The oil melts and floats while the sand drops to the bottom.) The oil is now available for use and the clean sand is put back into the earth—only now the trees can actually grow. The reclaimed land is teeming with wildlife that lives in the healthy forest the extraction process provides. As a result, when the Keystone pipeline is approved, America would be far less dependent on people who aim to do us harm and OPEC couldn’t cause an instant recession as it did in 1973. Plus, Keystone will be safer and cheaper—not to mention creating more jobs—than shipping the oil via rail as we are currently doing.
And that, Greg, is how tar sands can make America greater.
Yes, mountain top removal—or coal; fracking—or natural gas; and tar sands—or oil, make America great. The use of natural resources are a part of liberty: “freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.”
People like Greg want to interfere, restrict, and hamper North America’s energy abundance—which will take away America’s ability to provide cheap and reliable power to her citizens and take away the ability to grow the economy and create wealth. Why would anyone want to do that?
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.
[Originally published at RedState]
Four agencies administer 609 million acres of this land: the Forest Service (USFS) in the Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), all in the Department of the Interior (DOI). Most of these lands are in the West and Alaska. In addition, the Department of Defense administers 19 million acres in military bases, training ranges, and more. Numerous other agencies administer the remaining federal acreage.”
I suspect it may come as a surprise to many people that the federal government owns just over a quarter of the nation’s landmass and, other than land set aside for military bases and naval ports that may seem excessive. It is.
The drama that ensured when the Bureau of Land Management lay siege to the Nevada Bundy ranch over unpaid grazing fees called into attention the fact that the BLM oversees, according to a recent article in the National Review, “the largest piece of leasable real estate in the American West—245 million acres, an area bigger than the mid-Atlantic states and New England combined. The BLM is its landlord.”
In theory one can apply for a license or lease “to make productive use of this land” noted Travis Kavulla in his article, “Public-Land Colonialism.” In practice “The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires an excruciatingly complex process before even mundane land-use decisions can be made.” It is a regulatory nightmare for anyone who might want to create a mine to access coal or valuable minerals or extract oil or natural gas.
The process is subject to government policies, spoken or unspoken, to restrict access. A current case involves actions by the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the creation of the Pebble Mine project in Alaska even before a permit is requested. A May 12 Wall Street Journal editorial noted that “The EPA’s inspector general’s office last week announced it will investigate the agency’s February decision to commence a preemptive veto of the Pebble Mine project, a job-rich proposal to develop America’s largest U.S. copper and gold mine in southwest Alaska.”
The Obama administration has been devoted to stopping all kinds of projects that might generate jobs and revenue from projects like the Pebble Mine. Its opposition to the building of the Keystone XL pipeline is the best known example, but the EPA’s “war on coal” has closed many mines in addition to coal-fired plants needed to provide electricity.
The EPA is requesting jurisdiction over all public and private streams in the nation and this has been called “the largest land grab in the history of the world.” So it is not just public lands that are affected, but private lands as well.
In an article on World Net Daily, Alana Cook pointed out that “The proposed rule tinkers with the definition of ‘navigable’ waters which was the central point of litigation in a battle between the Supreme Court and the EPA regarding the Clean Water Act.” The proposal would “allow the EPA in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Energy and the Army (Corps of Engineers) to dictate on a never-before-seen scale everything from grazing rights, food production, animal health and the use of energy on private lands.”
This is, simply stated, Communism in which the government owns all the land.
As Craig Rucker, Executive Director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) points out, “There is no engine on Earth as powerful at creating prosperity and improving the condition of both man and nature than free markets. There can be no free market without the right to property.” He warns that “Property rights are under siege.”
One of the BLM’s reasons cited for its actions against the Bundy ranch involved “endangered animals” and Rucker said, “Take away a person’s right to choose how to use their land and in effect you’ve seized that land.” The attack on private land ownership is led by the United Nations Agenda 21.
The government’s control over public lands and its grasp for control of the use of all private lands reflects the Marxist agenda of the Obama administration. It is so manifest that, in mid-April, officials from nine states got together in Salt Lake City to discuss ways to retake control of poorly managed federal lands.
There are federal laws that have been on the books a very long time that are intended to protect private property from the actions we have seen by the BLM and the EPA. One is the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, so this issue has been around awhile, but what is generally unknown is how vast federal control is.
In his National Review article, Kavulla noted that “In Montana, one county that is a traditional center of natural gas production has a whopping 53 percent of its subsurface minerals controlled by the BLM. Proposed resource management plans (RPM) in Montana “more than quadruple the land off-limits to ‘surface occupancy’ which makes oil and gas drilling virtually impossible. Only about one million acres of a ten million acre federal estate would be open to drilling activities under standard leasing conditions.”
America is under attack from within by federal government agencies that are striving to deny access to the greatest energy reserves in the world and to control the lives of ranchers and farmers whose work feed the rest of us.
It is time for the states to take back their land from the federal government and to oversee its use for the development of the economy, the security of the nation, and the protection of private property, the keystone of capitalism.
[Originally published at Warning Signs]