Heartland Institute Policy Advisor, Mischa Poppoff joins Canada AM to discuss the organic industry in Canada. Until 2009 the USDA national organic program was the effective standard for all of North America. Now that Canada is no longer held to this standard things have actually gotten worst, because they no longer have to test the organic crops to make sure nobody is cheating using the term organic.
He then points out when people buy from a grocery store most of the organic food is most likely imported from places like China, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. The reliance that it is certified is based on an arbitrary audit trail. It does not have to be tested to certify it under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Essentially they are renting out its name so consumers can believe the food they are choosing is organic when there is about a 50/50 chance its domestic. Ultimately, the only way somebody can really insure their food is organic is to either grow it yourself or visit a farm because buying organic from a grocery store in Canada does not mean it’s organic.
Watch the link below:
Every day the headlines and the TV-radio news scream murder at us. My local daily out of Newark, NJ leads with a murder there and elsewhere in the state every day. Only the occasional mass murder gets national attention.
I got to thinking about this when the shooting at the Los Angeles airport recently closed the facility and created havoc for all the flights going out or heading in. Reportedly, it was a mentally ill young man (Paul Ciancia) and, in the case of these random and mass murders, it is almost always a mentally ill person. It has nothing to do with how many people have guns.
Grant Duwe, a criminologist, told the National Public Radio that “Mass murder rates and mass public shootings have been on the decline, but what we did see was an especially bad year for mass public shootings in 2012. The number of victims who were killed and wounded was greater than in any previous year in U.S. history.”
The statistic Duwe cited is astonishingly low, only 0.2 percent of all homicides that occur in the U.S. are mass murders and, of those mass murders, ten percent are mass public killings, such as those in Aurora, Newtown, and most recently the Washington Navy Yard. “Within a given year, there are about 30 mass murders—those involving four or more—that occur in this country.”
That should be regarded as good news given the size of our population. The U.S has more guns per person than most nations. When a Russian official tweeted about the Navy Yard shootings, NPR noted that there are “fewer than 13 million firearms in circulation in Russian, compared to 300 million in the United States. That works out to about nine guns per 100 people in Russian and closer to 100 guns per 100 people in America.” Russia has some of the toughest gun laws on the books as any nation, but there were an estimated 21,603 killings in Russia in 2009. By comparison, there were 13,636 homicides in the U.S. in 2009.
As we have come to learn, the facts never stop President Obama from using every murder to advance his agenda to strip Americans of their guns.
After the Los Angeles shooting in which a Transportation Security agent was killed, he gave a speech in which he said:
As Americans bound in grief and love, we must insist here today there is nothing normal about innocent men and women being gunned down where they work. There is nothing normal about our children being gunned down in their classrooms. There is nothing normal about children dying in our streets from stray bullets. No other advanced nation endures this kind of violence, none.
This is yet another lie. In nations around the world, people die from terrorism and comparable acts of insanity in far greater numbers.
As Duwe said on NPR, mass murders in the U.S. have been on the decline, although 2012 was unusual for the number of incidents. There were seven which was higher than any year since 1999, with the highest number of victims. Asked why, Duwe attributed the decline in crime rates to demographic changes, greater numbers of police, increased used of incarceration, decreated social tolerance for crime and violence.
There is a particular irony in Obama’s knee-jerk attribution of murders to gun ownership. In September, Fox News reported: “Statistics released by the FBI earlier this week show that Chicago passed New York as America’s murder capital in 2012 despite the Windy City only having a third of the Big Apple’s population.”
Chicago is Obama’s hometown.
According to the FBI, there were 500 murders in Chicago in 2012, up from 431 in 2011. New York reported 419 murders in 2012, down from 515 the previous year. There are fifteen cities across the U.S. that were reported to have had more than 100 murders in 2012. Of the homicide in 2012, 69% involved the firearms. Many of the murders involved gang activity.
There is more irony in the promise of the Democratic mayoral candidate for New York promising to end the stop-and-frisk practices that have been credited with reducing the killings in the Big Apple. The NYPD has targeted gang violence by closely monitoring the social and family circles of criminals. Why is it that liberals seem incapable of ever learning anything from the facts?
[First Published by Warning Signs]
The Environmental Protection Agency today is hosting a “Public Listening Session” at the Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago, allowing the public to weigh in on the Obama administration’s “Climate Action Plan.” The plan would grant broad powers to the EPA to curb the production of fossil fuels, strictly regulate coal-fired power plants, and funnel taxpayer money toward “green energy” companies.
Heartland Institute Policy Advisors Steve Goreham and Paul Driessen are at the hearing today. Below is their testimony.
“December 7, 2009 is a date that will live in infamy. Not in memory of Pearl Harbor, but because on that date, the Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide to be a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that is bizarre. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It’s an odorless, harmless, invisible gas. It does not cause smoke or smog. The white vapor above a power plant’s cooling tower is condensing water vapor. We can’t see carbon dioxide. Each of us breathes in just a trace of CO2, but our bodies burn sugars and produce CO2, so with every breath we exhale air with 100 times the carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere.
“In fact, CO2 is green! Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show that higher levels of atmospheric CO2 increase the growth rate and size of plants. Plants get larger vegetables, larger fruit, and thicker tree trunks; they’re more resistant to drought with higher levels of CO2. If humans could put one compound into the atmosphere that is great for the biosphere, carbon dioxide is that compound.
“The greenhouse effect is a natural effect and man-made emissions play only an insignificant part. Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas is not carbon dioxide or methane. Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas is water vapor. Between 75 and 90 percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor and clouds. Of the remaining portion of the greenhouse effect that is due to carbon dioxide and methane, 96 percent of that is due to natural emissions from oceans and the biosphere. This means that the man-made portion of the greenhouse effect is only about one part in 100.
“Because the greenhouse effect is dominated by natural, not man-made factors, no EPA policy will have a measureable effect on Earth’s climate. No EPA policy will have an effect on icecap size, sea level rise, the frequency or intensity of hurricanes or tornadoes, or on droughts or floods. No EPA policy, however severe, will have a measurable effect on global temperatures.
“But, EPA regulations can have a severe impact on Americans. Today, 38 percent of US electricity and 47 percent of Illinois electricity comes from coal. Destruction of our coal industry will raise the price of electricity for American citizens and businesses, disproportionately affecting the poor.
“As a citizen of Illinois and the United States, I urge you to abandon this costly and futile fight to control Earth’s climate and return to solving the real pollution problems that we face.”
“The EPA says carbon dioxide from America’s coal-fired power plants is causing dangerous climate change. It says computer models support these claims.
“But the models are useless. Their predictions have been totally wrong – and none of EPA’s claims about hurricanes, tornadoes, rising seas and other alleged dangers have been accurate. Climate change has been ‘real’ since Earth began. The Dust Bowl, hurricanes, the Little Ice Age and droughts that destroyed the Anasazi and Mayan cultures were all terrible. People adapted and coped and survived – and today’s technologies allow us to deal much better with future climate changes.
“What we cannot cope with so easily are government regulations that deliberately shut down reliable, affordable coal-based electricity – and, after that, natural gas power generation. These rules will drive up energy prices and make it very hard for companies to stay in business or avoid layoffs.
“The rules will kill jobs, shut down factories, companies and industries – and devastate families and communities that depend on coal mining, factory jobs and affordable energy. And yet the EPA isn’t even holding any hearings in the states and areas that are most dependent on coal mining and coal-generated power.
“The EPA’s proposed rules will also force greater dependency on wind turbines, which kill millions of threatened and endangered birds and bats every year. That is unacceptable and unsustainable.
“But the worst impacts from EPA’s rules will be on the health and welfare of Americans. When people are unemployed, or holding two lower paying part-time jobs, the extra time, stress and financial worries have huge impacts on their health and well-being. Their nutrition suffers.
“They battle with sleep deprivation; longer commuting times; higher incidences of depression; more prevalent alcohol, drug, spouse and child abuse; higher suicide rates; and lower life expectancies. This means every life that EPA claims its rules will improve – by supposedly preventing climate change – will be made worse by the EPA’s own rules. Every life that the EPA says will be saved by its costly, job-killing CO2 regulations will be offset by lives shortened or lost by those rules.
“The EPA doesn’t even mention any of this – much less conduct any cost-benefit studies, or calculate how many lives will be shortened or lost because of its proposed rules. The EPA needs to do that work, before it takes one more step toward implementing these rules.”
Rumor says newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering hiring the president of the nation’s second-largest teacher union as his schools chancellor. Expect some complaints about this obvious conflict of interest for Randi Weingarten, but not much will be different if she doesn’t get the post.
Unions are supposed to advocate for their members against management that has other priorities: making a profit, pleasing stockholders, etc. But when government employees can unionize, they effectively sit on both sides of the table during negotiations. This is why President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opposed government unions: “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”
It’s now traditional for teacher unions to elect the school leaders they will bargain with. Accordingly, school boards and chancellors typically feel beholden to union demands, not taxpayers. This is certainly the case with de Blasio’s election. After supporting another candidate in the primary, the United Federation of Teachers (which Weingarten used to lead, and is one of the dominant locals within her national union, the American Federation of Teachers) quickly pivoted and chipped in $250,000 to a de Blasio PAC
Not just financially, but policy-wise, de Blasio’s education platform is in line with union fantasies. He suggested charging charter schools rent, which is nonsensical since charters are public schools so charging rent would literally entail sending them tax money and then taking some back. (In a recent poll, New Yorkers said they support charter schools and want more.) He also has proposed taxing the wealthiest New Yorkers more to pay for full-day preschool for all, a proposal of dubious value to children but likely to increase the number of unionized education workers. De Blasio is against merit pay for teachers, and so are unions. He’s spoken about reducing standardized testing and publicly grading schools, centralized accountability mechanisms that unions also despise.
This all seems to be a dramatic contrast to de Blasio’s charter-friendly predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who styled himself “the education mayor.” But Bloomberg’s actual accomplishments are far smaller than his press, as Fred Siegel and Sol Stern pointed out in 2011:
Bloomberg also began dipping deeper into the city treasury for more and more tax dollars for the schools. From fiscal 2003 to 2011, the education budget grew from $12.7 billion to $23 billion annually—almost a 70 percent increase in inflation-adjusted dollars. Most of the money was paid out in 43 percent across-the-board teacher-salary increases in just the first six years of Bloomberg’s tenure. He also added more than 4,000 teachers to the payroll, reaching 80,000—one teacher for every 13 students in the system. But the mayor who prided himself on his business acumen in managing the city’s workforce obtained almost nothing in return from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) for this unprecedented bonanza… And then, in early 2010, the Bloomberg education bubble burst. State Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch and education commissioner David Steiner acknowledged that over the past several years, the test scores had been grossly inflated. Under previous education commissioner Richard Mills, the two officials said, the questions on the tests had become more and more predictable, so that teachers were able to help their students “game” the tests. For good measure, the previous Albany education administration had also set the “cut scores” for determining the different levels of student proficiency too low. When the results of the readjusted 2010 tests were announced, practically all the gains students had made since 2007 were erased.
In other words, despite the pretense that UFT was damaged by Bloomberg’s policies, the union maintained its financial and political influence over the city. With de Blasio, none of that will change. It will just be admitted more openly.
What would that mean for the kids? Well, one could take a look at the charter school UFT opened in NYC. Seven years after it opened under Weingarten’s direction, the school is one of the lowest-performing in the city (which is saying a lot), which puts it at risk of being closed by city officials. “Fewer than a third of students are reading on grade level, and the math proficiency rate among eighth-graders is less than half the city average,” Gotham Schools reported last year
I go to that school and I’m very, very happy with what we see,” current UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the nonprofit news site.
Financial realities in New York City will make it difficult for de Blasio to follow Bloomberg’s union-favored tax-and-spend-without-results policies without steering the city closer to Detroit.
“Mr. de Blasio will also face an important battle with the city’s unions,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “All 152 employee bargaining units, representing almost 300,000 workers, have been operating under expired contracts for as long as six years. The unions—which include teachers, police and firefighters—have said they would seek retroactive raises. That could cost billions of dollars a year when adjusted for inflation and coupled with future raises, according to city calculations. Mr. de Blasio said relationships he has built with union leaders over his career in government will help him broker a solution.”
So far, “relationships” with unions have meant New York City spends approximately $20,000 per K-12 pupil (if not the most in the country, that’s close) while two in five of their fourth graders essentially cannot read, and less than one third of fourth and eighth graders are “proficient” readers.
So even if Randi Weingarten isn’t NYC’s next education chancellor, she might as well be. Either way, the academic beatings will continue, and morale will likely not improve.[Originally posted on theFederalist.com, photo credit: The Federalist: Monojussi]
After an Inspector General’s audit earlier this year of now-bankrupt electric vehicle charging company Ecotality, which determined that millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted in a nearly unworkable program, the IG has returned with findings that the Department of Energy withheld information about the project’s problems during his first investigation.
The audit, released by DOE IG Gregory Friedman in July, determined (among other things) that the persistent weak demand for electric vehicles harmed the deployment and timeliness of a $135 million-plus taxpayer funded charging network, which led to excessive grants and project expansion that became virtually unusable under the grants’ guidelines. Investigators discovered that conditions for reimbursement to Ecotality for the EV charging demonstration project were “very generous” and that cost-sharing requirements were extremely lenient.
Shortly after that report was released, on August 7, Ecotality informed DOE that it was in financial distress and that its ability to do business was a going concern. The following day DOE suspended reimbursements to the San Francisco-based company, and instructed them to not incur any further costs. In an August 12 filing Ecotality informed the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had suffered “adverse financial-related developments” that would harm its ability to meet its obligations. Ecotality filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 16.
The developments that came so quickly after the IG’s audit aroused suspicions that DOE wasn’t forthcoming about everything they knew about Ecotality’s troubles. As a result, Friedman initiated a follow-up investigation to determine whether or not relevant information was withheld. In a report released yesterday, the IG said DOE’s division of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy failed to disclose important details that were relevant to the purpose of the audit.
“We found that the Department had not fully disclosed known concerns regarding Ecotality’s ability to meet its EV project obligations to the Office of Inspector General prior to completion of our previous audit,” the IG reported yesterday. “Information that raised questions about Ecotality’s ability to meet its project goals, including completing planned EV charger installations and the collection of EV usage data, was not provided even though the data had a readily apparent connection to our in-process audit.
“The Department became aware of the EV project concerns at about the same time that the Program was preparing a response to a draft of our July 2013 audit report.”
That DOE was ignorant about the severity of Ecotality’s financial duress either reflects their ignorance or their ineptitude. NLPC – with far less detailed information at its disposal than DOE – saw the signs long ago that the former eco-friendly cleaning products company that suddenly became a vehicle-charging “expert” run by a self-proclaimed “political beast” was going to run into problems. Nevertheless, DOE bureaucrats told the IG’s investigators that their failure to disclose information for the audit was “unintended.”
Specifically of concern to the IG was the fact that Ecotality had informed DOE in May that it would not reach the requirement to complete charging station installations by September 2013. In mid-June DOE informed Ecotality it would be required to submit a “corrective action plan” to explain how it would fix the problem. But almost a month later, when DOE provided comments in response to the IG’s draft report, the agency reported that Ecotality’s installation goals were achievable. Incredibly, the IG reported, “[DOE] officials stated that they did not think that the information was relevant to our audit, which was still in process at the time.”
“The disclosure of issues that could have impacted project completion would have led us to perform additional audit procedures to evaluate Ecotality’s ability to fulfill its obligations under the Recovery Act award,” the IG’s report said. “These issues also could have impacted our overall conclusions regarding Ecotality’s performance under the award.”
The most significant information withheld from the IG, as it moved toward the conclusion of its audit, was that Ecotality (and DOE) knew the company would fall far short of the goals set within the grant agreement. The purpose of the grant was to create in several metro areas a system of electric chargers to serve EV owners, in order to glean information about how they might be used in a widespread build-out and adoption of the technology. Originally 16 months of data was to be collected from all chargers that were installed, but Ecotality’s revised plan sought to reduce the test time to three months. The company also wanted to extend the deadline for full deployment of the chargers and more flexibility as to whether the chargers would be located in residential or commercial locations.
“These changes…would have further limited, if not virtually eliminated, data collection for certain units,” the IG reported. “As noted in our previous audit report, these types of changes would impact the quantity and perhaps the overall quality of usage data gathering and analyses.”
Information the IG received indicated that about 1,000 commercial chargers still needed to be installed and that Ecotality’s rate of deployment for them was ½ to 1/7 of what it should be.
Despite all the warning signs, and DOE’s discontinuance of payments for the $100 million Recovery Act grant after Ecotality’s notification that it was in financial straits, the IG said DOE still continued funding another $26 million vehicle testing grant that had been awarded in 2011. Among the excuses DOE provided the IG for not discontinuing all Ecotality’s funding was that the company “provided assurances that the project was not affected by the company’s financial difficulties” and that DOE instructed Ecotality not to purchase additional vehicles or equipment.
At this point IG staff had to be tearing their collective hair out at either the ineptitude, or hubris, of DOE staff. It’s difficult not to use strong language in characterizing the horrid performance of the Obama administration in holding stimulus beneficiaries accountable.
In context, it looks like the overseers on the DOE staff were running scared. During the conduct of the IG’s audit they also witnessed the scathing House hearing in April about the failed Fisker Automotive loan, in which the start-up EV company’s poor stewardship of DOE’s stimulus backing was laid bare. Also fresh in their minds was the failure of loan recipient Vehicle Production Group, whose collapsing condition was known by the Acting Director of DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, yet concealed during that April hearing. And the agency also had to be nervously anticipating an early September House Oversight Committee hearing in which Jonathan Silver, former director of the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office, would be grilled about the practice of conducting government business on private email accounts.
The picture left for taxpayers is of one in which companies who ingratiated themselves with the Obama administration, who otherwise could not access the financing they needed in the private investment market, were left to spend their money without accountability. The pattern, as revealed in cases such as Solyndra, Abound Solar, Fisker, VPG and Ecotality, was that DOE was anything but transparent because there were too much information that would prove embarrassing.
Ecotality’s carcass has now been auctioned off for $3.3 million, and government’s “investment” in another green-tech company has been squandered. If this administration was truly “the most transparent in history,” could taxpayers bear the sight of it?[Article Originally Posted on nlpc.org]
On October 15, 2013, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) granted ‘Certiorari’ to Petitioners who have been suing the EPA over regulations to control CO2. In 2007, SCOTUS had ruled that CO2 may be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act (CAA), provided EPA could demonstrate that continued emission of CO2 would harm ‘human health and welfare.’ In 2009, EPA published the required Endangerment Finding, which was subsequently attacked on scientific grounds by a collection of plaintiffs. [Full disclosure: SEPP is one of the many plaintiffs involved in this lawsuit.]
However, in June 2012, the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled against plaintiffs, giving deference on the science to EPA. EPA had proceeded to institute emission limits for motor vehicles, essentially by setting mileage standards. EPA is now arguing that, having successfully set CO2 limits for motor vehicles in May 2010, the CAA requires that emission limits be set on all other emitters of CO2. Using their statutory authority to set New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), EPA has proposed stringent limits on new power plants that will make new coal plants virtually impossible to construct. The EPA also wants to limit emissions from existing coal plants, arguing that EPA can set guidelines which the states would have to follow in regulating emissions from existing plants.
In the coming case, plaintiffs are essentially appealing the decision of the DC Circuit Appeals Court and hope to prevail — even though SCOTUS is not likely to listen to scientific arguments — although publication of the authoritative NIPCC report “Climate Change Reconsidered-II” (Heartland, 2013) cannot be ignored. In fact, the Supreme Court has restricted its Cert to the single question: Is EPA permitted to extend its authority to regulate emissions from motor vehicles to stationary sources?
The EPA is likely to use a section of the Clean Air Act called Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD). They have a strong case; it will require considerable ingenuity for the plaintiffs’ lawyers to prevail over the EPA. One sees at least two possibilities.
A. NAAQS (National ambient air quality standards)
The CAA requires the setting of NAAQS. However, it is a fact that
1. EPA has not set a NAAQS for CO2
2. EPA does not know how to set a NAAQS for CO2. There is no scientific basis for doing so.
3. Even if EPA were to set a NAAQS, there is no way in which EPA can demonstrate that its regulations can achieve it; further, there is no way whereby EPA can enforce it — since CO2 is global and EPA cannot control emissions from other nations, like China.
4. But without a NAAQS as a goal, any effort to set emission limits must be judged to be ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ In other words, without a specific target, there is no rational way for setting emission limits for power plants or other emitters.
B. Tailoring Rule
In the regulation of ‘criteria pollutants’ (of which there are currently six) the arcane provisions of the CAA require EPA to regulate emissions from sources that emit more than either 100 or 250 tons per year.
These limits are ok for CO2 from individual small sources, motor vehicles and even big trucks. But when applied to stationary sources, there would be millions of them, including apartment and office buildings, hospitals, schools, prisons, etc.
Clearly, EPA is unable to muster an effort to issue controls for all such sources. They have therefore arbitrarily raised the lower limit to 75,000 to 100,000 tons per year — by issuing a so-called ‘Tailoring Rule.’ It would permit regulation of major sources, such as power plants, refineries, and other large industrial installations.
However, EPA cannot simply change the law to suit its convenience. This cannot be done by administrative action; it must be done by the author of the law — which is Congress. Again, EPA’s revised lower limit may be considered “arbitrary and capricious”
What to do?
The sensible course for EPA is to go back to Congress and suggest an amendment to the Clean Air Act to permit continuing without setting a NAAQS for CO2 and for allowing a ‘Tailoring Rule’ that makes CO2 regulation more manageable. But it is unlikely that EPA will choose to do this. Because once the matter goes back to Congress, it is no longer under the control of the executive branch of government.
Congress, in its wisdom, could decide to do away with the PSD (Prevention of Significant Deterioration) requirement for CO2 and thus not permit EPA to extend emission controls to power stations. Or, going even further, Congress may decide that CO2 is not to be considered as a criteria pollutant and cannot be regulated at all under the Clean Air Act. In other words, Congress may decide that CO2 is not a ‘pollutant’ — and thus overturn and make irrelevant the Supreme Court decision of 2007.
There is little doubt that the House, as currently constituted, would choose one of these routes. It is entirely possible that the US Senate will go along — even though it has a Democratic majority. But 16 Democratic senators are up for re-election in 2014 — with some from coal states in the Midwest. So there is a strong possibility that the Congress will consider CO2 to be a non-pollutant. Even if the White House were to apply a veto, there is a good chance that it will be overturned — which would constitute a big defeat for the Obama Administration.
But political futures are hard to predict. Much may ride on the outcome of Obamacare and other snafus that might affect public opinion about the White House and thereby the mood of Congress. One thing for sure: public policy should not be set by unelected bureaucrats.
[Originally published on the American Thinker]
Today we are witnessing the consequence of a country that has drifted to the left ideologically. The vast majority of people are ignorant on the foundations of freedom and the foundations of liberty.
So, how do we remedy this illness?
Yaron Brook, in his talk at The Heartland Institute’s Author Speaker Series, says the foundation of any liberty campaign should be that of education. He says that as long as the American people remain ignorant, political change is impossible.
Along with education about economics, the foundations of liberty and freedom, and the principles that founded the United States, Brook believes- as he’s spoken about many times- that there must also be a serious moral and ethical revolution in order to change the country. People must stop accepting principles of sacrifice and altruism.
Brook tells his audience to “get energized” because it’s going to be a long and drawn-out campaign for the coming decades.
You can watch the video in the player above.
[Subscribe to The Heartland Institute Youtube Channel at this link]
Think back to the fall of 2008. Congress was asked to pass a $700 billion taxpayer bailout for Wall Street. We were told it had to be passed, or else the economy would collapse, perhaps into another Great Depression.
House conservatives voted it down. The stock market fell hundreds of points in response. In the ensuing panic, Congress went along and passed the bailout.
That bailout, and the insane, nearly $1 trillion “stimulus” bill passed just a few months later as Obama’s first act, gave birth to the Tea Party revolution that gave Republicans a 63-seat landslide in the House in the 2010 elections. Voters supported that to stop the run on taxpayer funds.
Next on the horizon is an Obamacare “death spiral” for the private health insurance industry. Taxpayers will now be told a new bailout of hundreds of billions for the private health insurers must be passed, or else private health insurance will go out of business under Obamacare. That would leave the government in complete control of American health care, especially as he who pays the piper calls the tune.
It is called “single payer” by advocates of government-run health care. In plain English, “single payer” means “government monopoly” over health care, more commonly known as “socialized medicine.” That means the government decides who gets what health care, or ultimately, who lives and who dies. For those who think the government is God, such health care socialism is long overdue.
Meaning — spiraling decline in the quality of American health care, the end of investment in new, breakthrough medicine, Sarah Palin’s death panels.
The Obamacare Death Spiral Begins President Obama sold the idea of Obamacare to its most credulous supporters on the promise that it would mean universal health insurance, with no uninsured. That is what appealed about it to the Left, and to the simple-minded true believers in Obama. But even the Washington establishment Congressional Budget Office scored Obamacare as still leaving 30 million uninsured 10 years after implementation!
But the reality is even worse than that. Because the effect of Obamacare so far has been to increase the number of uninsured, rather than reduce it. Consider recent news reports from around the country:
• Florida Blue terminates 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state.
• Kaiser Permanente in California terminates 160,000 policies, about half of its individual policies in the state.
• Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia cancels 45% of its individual policies.
• CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield drops 76,000 individual policies in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., over 40 percent of its individual policies in those states.
• Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh sends out termination notices for about 20% of its individual policies.
The Weekly Standard summarized the impact last month as likely to total 16 million terminated individual policies, out of a total individual market of 19 million policies. So more than 80% of the health insurance policies individuals buy directly by themselves would be terminated as a result of Obamacare.
But the great majority of health insurance pre-Obamacare came through employer-provided health coverage. The Obamacare wrecking ball, however, is terminating health insurance there too. CBO scored Obamacare as causing as many as 20 million workers to lose their employer-provided health insurance. Former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin estimated double that, or 40 million, in a study for the American Action Forum.
But even that does not match what Obama knew would happen back in 2010 when Obamacare was passed. Section 1251 of the Obamacare legislation includes the “grandfather” provision that is supposed to allow people to keep their current health plan if they like it. But on June 17, 2010, Obama’s own Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a notice in the Federal Register saying, “The Department’s mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013.” That adds up to 51 percent of employer-provided health insurance plans that would become illegal and terminated under Obamacare. Counting both the employer provided and individual health insurance markets, Avik Roy of Forbes calculates that means that altogether 93 million Americans will lose their health insurance under Obamacare.
President Obama promised over and over that if you like your health insurance you can keep it, in selling his Obamacare snake oil. The ringing declaration was, “If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan. Period. Nobody will be able to take that away from you.” But now Obama derides the millions and millions of terminated policies as substandard in not meeting the Obamacare regulatory requirements. In other words, his much repeated promise to the American people is now revised to proclaim: If Obama likes your health plan you can keep it. What a sad egomaniac for suckers not only to elect but reelect as President.
Moreover, now we know that Obama knew that this pledge to the American people, which he has continued to repeat over and over since 2010, was false from the beginning.
The Obamacare Death Spiral Crash and Burn President Obama also promised repeatedly that Obamacare would reduce the cost of health insurance for families on average by $2,500 per year. But as with everything that government promises, Obamacare is having just the opposite effect, as another Obama pledge to the American people is proven false.
Avik Roy in a report for the Manhattan Institute estimated that the new Obamacare policies being offered on the Exchanges involved increased insurance premiums of 99 percent for men, and 62 percent for women. But that finding was more recently superseded by a new study by economists for the American Action Forum concluding that the Obamacare premium increases for individual policies on average amount to 260 percent for men and 193 percent.
Obamacare advocates are quick to point out that Obamacare includes tax credits to offset some of these premium increases. But for most people, those tax credits will offset only a fraction of these increases. Many people, singles making over $46,000 and families making only somewhat more, close to half the country at least, will not be eligible for these credits at all. Even those just above poverty will not see all of the increases offset.
This is what people are facing who lose their coverage and turn to the Obamacare Exchanges to find a new plan. And this too was known and predicted by opponents of Obamacare from the beginning. It’s a no-brainer that all the “free” benefits mandated by Obamacare were going to increase the cost of health insurance premiums.
Then there are the Obamacare regulatory requirements of “guaranteed issue” and “community rating.” Those requirements mean that no matter how sick and costly a new applicant for health insurance is when he first shows up, the health insurance company must issue a new policy to them covering everything at standard rates.
That is like requiring fire insurance to issue new homeowner policies to those whose first call comes when their houses are already on fire. The insurer must cover them and can charge no more than the standard rates that apply to everyone else. Of course, those standard rates must soar to ensure that the insurance company will have enough money to pay for an insurance pool covering all burnt down houses, because as the standard rates explode, no one is going to buy fire insurance until their house catches fire.
Those very guaranteed issue and community rating requirements will further contribute to the final crash and burn of the death spiral. When people see the costs of the new replacement Obamacare insurance, healthy and low cost customers are going to react the same way that George Schwab of North Carolina did when interviewed by NBC News. He liked his insurance plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which insured him and his wife for $228 a month. But his plan was recently cancelled (Obama did not like it). The insurance company offered him a “comparable” plan costing $1,208 a month, with an annual deductible soaring to $5,500 a year. The best alternative he could find on the Exchange charged a deductible of $948 a month, more than four times what his previous plan cost. He told NBC, “I’m sitting here looking at this, thinking we ought to just pay the fine and just get insurance when we’re sick.”
You can bet, though, that everyone who is sick with costly illnesses like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes will pay to get the insurance. Just like everyone whose house catches fire would analogously sign up immediately for fire insurance.
This problem is made even worse by the difficulties of working with the online Exchanges. Those who are healthy and low cost and just checking out prices will be quickly discouraged by the dysfunctional Obamacare website. But those who are sick with costly illnesses will persevere (as if their lives depended on it, which they may) until they succeed in getting coverage.
Moreover, as John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, points out in his highly insightful health policy blog, waves of the sickest and most costly are now swamping the insurance offered on the Exchanges. That is because state and federal High Risk Pools formerly serving these sickest and most costly are officially closing now, expecting Obamacare to pick them up. Moreover, government and private employers are in the process of dumping retirees they formerly covered on the Obamacare Exchanges as well. Sick and costly employees sticking with their current employers only for the health coverage because they would have costly pre-existing conditions for any new insurer are also in the process of leaving for new opportunities because they are assured of new coverage under Obamacare.
Even worse, the soaring premiums on the Obamacare Exchanges were calculated by health insurers on the assumption that the individual and employer mandates would succeed in forcing everyone to buy health insurance, the healthy and low cost as well as the sick and high cost. But with 93 million Americans, more than half of everyone with health insurance pre-Obamacare, losing their health coverage under Obamacare, and facing the incentives described above, the covered health insurance pool will not come remotely close to covering everyone, with the healthy, younger, and low cost being exactly the ones to drop out, and evade the mandates.
The pool the insurers end up covering, then, will be a lot more like the pool of all burnt down houses for fire insurers discussed above. The premiums the insurers receive from this adversely shrunken pool will not remotely cover the costs of that pool. Hence they will be facing bankruptcy next year, absent another taxpayer bailout of hundreds of billions. So the choice will be that, or socialized medicine, including the government death panels we see in every other country weighed down by this “enlightened” last century albatross.[Article originally posted on Americanspectator.com]
On Wednesday, November 6, Ben Domenech, the Heartland Institute’s Senior Health and Policy fellow joined a panel on Glen Beck’s Blaze TV to discuss the implications of the Affordable Care Act on November’s elections. On November 6 there were 15 Democratic Senators up for re-election. Panelists agreed that the Republican land slide wins and the marginal Democratic victories demonstrate an overwhelming dissatisfaction by both majority parties with the current liberal agenda. This dissatisfaction is exacerbated by the rollout of the failing Affordable Care Act.
The two highlighted elections were in Virginia and New Jersey which exemplify the waning Democratic favor. Republican Chris Christie won by a landslide in the state of New Jersey, which is not only vastly outnumbered with Democrats, but also a state in which Obama easily won in 2012. Although Virginia elected Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat governor, the race was marginally won even though Politico News reports that McAuliffe outspent Ken Cuccinelli by 15 million dollars on his campaign.
Alaska’s Senator, Mark Begich, was one of the 16 Democratic Senators who publicly expressed their concerns and dissatisfaction with the absence of technological solutions to the Affordable Care Act’s short comings. His impatience and outrage is joined by numerous Democratic Senators pointing fingers at the Obama Administration. The ‘October Surprise’ is not a surprise at all. The Affordable Care Act is inherently flawed and destined for failure, but the White House is still fumbling to get the project off the ground. The Democratic Party is no longer maintaining their unwavering support for Obamacare. Meanwhile, the people show their shifting preference at the polls.
Domenech interprets these election results as a shifting away of Democratic favor due to the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats themselves are having a difficult time swallowing the poison pill of Obamacare. Watch this short 2:27 clip of Ben Domenech from Blaze TV below:
If you like this kind of analysis, sign up for The Blaze. And be sure to also check out Ben’s outstanding new publication The Federalist; subscribe to Ben’s politics and policy newsletter The Transom; sign up for his free Consumer Power Report weekly email newsletter on health care policy from The Heartland Institute; and also listen to his contributions to The Heartland Daily Podcast and the Coffee & Markets podcast.
… and that is not an exhaustive list of Ben’s projects. He’s the hardest working man in new media!
Michael Lotus offers up his answer in Part II of the Heartland Daily Podcast about his new book titled, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century.
Lotus is confident that as technology develops, it will provide ways for us to lower the cost of living and liberate the economy. What if we could use a 3D printer to print and assemble a house in four days?
Everything is transforming right before our eyes; the geopolitical landscape, education, and societal values, among others.
Jim Lakely, Director of Communication at The Heartland Institute, asks Lotus about the geopolitical future of the United States. They discuss the fact that our founders meant for the U.S. to be much less centralized than it is, and how — in such a large country — it’s important for different parts of the country to live as they please, with smaller units of government.
Lakely and Lotus also discuss education. Lotus believes that government is the “boulder” holding us back and he says if we move that boulder, the world would “drop its jaw” at what we could accomplish. It seems that in this part, Lotus has lifted Lakely’s pessimism … at least for now.
Listen to the podcast in the player above.
[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link]
Do you remember, “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.” All we have heard about as Obamacare has gone into effect is millions of Americans losing their health insurance.
Consider: Florida Blue announces termination of 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. California’s Kaiser Permanente reports cancellation of 160,000 policies, about half of its individual policies in the state. Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia drops 45% of its individual policies. CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield axes 76,000 policies in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC, over 40 percent of its individual policies in those states. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh cancels 20% of its individual policies.
The Weekly Standard published an expert estimate last month that altogether 16 million individual policies will be terminated nationwide, more than 80% of the total 19 million individual policies in the entire country. Who took these policies away from the people who chose them?
Section 1251 of the Obamacare legislation was supposed to embody Obama’s pledge to the American people with a “grandfather” provision supposedly allowing people to keep their current health plan if they like it. But within a few months of the passage of Obamacare, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a regulation interpreting the legislation so narrowly that all of the millions of individual health plans discussed above were made illegal under the Act.
Obamacare has mowed down as well employer health plans that many millions more liked and wanted to keep. Obama’s HHS published a notice in the Federal Register on June 17, 2010 estimating that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans, accounting for 51 percent of all employer provided health insurance, would have to be terminated under Obamacare’s requirements by the end of 2013. Counting the required individual cancellations, that adds up to terminated health insurance under Obamacare for93 million Americans, as Avik Roy recently calculated.
Obama and his media apologists now deride the health insurance terminated under Obamacare for close to 100 million Americans as “substandard” because they do not meet the Obamacare regulatory requirements. What they are saying is that they have now revised Obama’s pledge to the American people as, if Obama likes your health plan you can keep it. But what the 2010 HHS Federal Registernotice reveals is Obama knew that his original pledge, which he has continued to repeat since 2010, was false from the beginning. That was confirmed in a front page Wall Street Journal story this past weekend reporting internal White House deliberations over Obama’s pledge which essentially concluded that the pledge successfully served its purpose of calculated deception of the American people to win Congressional passage of Obamacare.
Universal Health Coverage
The essential promise of Obamacare, which produced its appeal to the so-called “Progressive” Left, was that it would provide universal health coverage for all. But even the Washington establishment Congressional Budget Office scored Obamacare as leaving 30 million uninsured 10 years after implementation! That is still more than half the uninsured before Obamacare. We couldn’t do better than that with a trillion dollar program?
But the harsh reality of Obamacare has been far worse than that. Because the results cited above show that the effect of Obamacare so far has been to increase the number of uninsured, rather than reduce it. Indeed, close to 100 million Americans losing their health insurance already makes Obamacare the greatest failure of all government programs in American history!
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said we would have to pass Obamacare to find out what is in it. A recent retort from the medical community was that the exact same can be said about a stool sample. During the just four years that Nancy Pelosi served as Speaker, government spending soared from $2.7 trillion to $3.6 trillion, an increase of 33%. The federal deficit increased from $160 billion to $1.3 trillion, an increase of more than 700%, or more than 8 times. All in just four years.
During her stewardship, Congress passed Obamacare to provide for universal health coverage, spending a trillion dollars that served only to increase rather than reduce the uninsured. America suffered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Congress passed a nearly $1 trillion supposed stimulus bill, yet the economy still has not recovered five years later, even though the American historical record is the worse the recession, the stronger the recovery. Maybe that is because Pelosi professed that she thought the best means for promoting economic recovery is through increased federal spending on unemployment benefits and welfare. Her “stimulus” bill failed to stimulate anything except federal spending, deficits and debt.
Proposition: Nancy Pelosi was the worst Speaker of the House in American history. I am certain Sarah Palin would have done far better.
The Unaffordable Care Act
President Obama promised repeatedly for many years in campaigning for Obamacare that it would reduce the cost of health insurance for families on average by $2,500 per year. But as with all of the other Obama Obamacare promises, reality has turned out the opposite of the promise.
Avik Roy of Forbes was the first to examine the market data carefully and estimate that the new Obamacare policies being offered on the Exchanges involved increased insurance premiums of 99 percent for men, and 62 percent for women. But that was more recently succeeded by a new study by economists for the American Action Forum concluding that the Obamacare premium increases for individual policies on average amount to 193 percent for women and 260 percent for men.
Obama apologists argue that Obamacare includes health insurance subsidies for purchasers that would offset these premium increases to some degree. But that assertion is fallacious, because these subsidies are not free either, but involve real costs to taxpayers, who collectively are the same people as the health insurance purchasers. Moreover, many people, singles making over $46,000 and families making only somewhat more, close to half the country at least, will not be eligible for these health insurance subsidies at all. Even those just above poverty will not see all of the increases offset by federal subsidies.
Thinking people knew from the beginning that the effect of Obamacare would be to sharply increase rather than sharply reduce health insurance costs. All of the supposedly “free” mandated health benefits of Obamacare could mean nothing else other than increased costs for health insurance.
The same is true of the Obamacare regulatory requirements of “guaranteed issue” and “community rating.” Those requirements mean that no matter how sick and costly a new applicant for health insurance is when he or she first show up, the health insurance company must issue a new policy to them covering everything at standard rates. That would be like in fire insurance requiring the insurers to issue new homeowner policies to those who first call up when their houses are already on fire. The insurer must cover them and could charge no more than the standard rates that apply to everyone else. Of course, those standard rates must soar to ensure that the insurance company will have enough money to pay for an insurance pool covering all burnt down houses, because as the standard rates explode, no one is going to buy fire insurance until their house catches fire.
The official title of the Obamacare legislation was The Affordable Care Act. That means the Obamacare lies and deception started in the very title of the Act.
If You Like Your Doctor
Still another Obama promise regarding Obamacare was that “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.” But even at the above skyrocketing premiums for Obamacare health insurance, the networks of doctors and hospitals covered by that insurance are sharply limited.
The problem is perfectly well illustrated in a Wall Street Journal commentary on Monday by California resident Edie Littlefield Sundby. She personally suffers from stage 4 gall bladder cancer. That was discovered 7 years ago, and she has fought and battled to survive to this day, despite a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis for her cancer.
She has been kept alive “by doctors and health teams in California and Texas: at the medical center of the University of California, San Diego, and its Moores Cancer Center; Stanford University’s Cancer Institute; and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.” That health care has been paid for by “a United Healthcare PPO (preferred provider organization) health-insurance policy.”
“Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.”
But the problem, Edie explains, is that under Obamacare, “My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31,” because United Health Care is terminating its entire individual health insurance business in the now heavily, oppresively, overregulated California market.
United Health Care recommended that Edie search for new coverage on the California Obamacare Exchange, Covered California. Edie explains the results,
“You would think it would be simple to find a health-exchange plan that allows me, living in San Diego, to continue to see my primary oncologist at Stanford University and my primary care doctors at the University of California, San Diego. Not so. UCSD has agreed to accept only one Covered California plan—a very restrictive Anthem EPO Plan. EPO stands for exclusive provider organization, which means the plan has a small network of doctors and facilities and no out-of-network coverage (as in a preferred-provider organization plan) except for emergencies. Stanford accepts an Anthem PPO plan but it is not available for purchase in San Diego (only Anthem HMO and EPO plans are available in San Diego). So if I go with a health-exchange plan, I must choose between Stanford and UCSD. Stanford has kept me alive—but UCSD has provided emergency and local treatment support during wretched periods of this disease, and it is where my primary-care doctors are.”
“What happened to the president’s promise, “You can keep your health plan”? Or to the promise that “You can keep your doctor”? Thanks to the law, I have been forced to give up a world-class health plan. The exchange would force me to give up a world-class physician. For a cancer patient, medical coverage is a matter of life and death. Take away people’s ability to control their medical-coverage choices and they may die. I guess that’s a highly effective way to control medical costs. Perhaps that’s the point.”
Conclusion: Obama lied, people died.
If only Barack Obama and Harry Reid had listened to Ted Cruz, and delayed Obamacare, so obviously not ready for prime time, for a year, Edie would have been spared this ordeal, at least for now. But having achieved Obamacare by Calculated Deception, they fear that they could lose political control, and the whole, wretched program, if they agree to any delay.
We Can Do Better
John Goodman, President of the National Center for Policy Analysis, has proposed free market health care reforms to replace Obamacare, that would actually deliver on all of Obama’s broken promises regarding Obamacare.
Goodman proposes a universal refundable health insurance tax credit for everyone of $2,500 per person, $8,000 per family, for purchase of private health insurance of their choice. That would extend the current tax preference for employer provided health insurance to everyone, in place of the current tax exclusion for employer provided health insurance. (The current tax preference for employer health insurance does not pay for all of the insurance for everyone, and this tax credit is not intended to do so either).
For those who do not use the credit to buy health insurance, the credit funds are sent to local indigent care facilities in their area. But everyone is free to use the credit to buy into Medicaid if they desire.
Goodman’s proposal would also greatly improve Medicaid by proposing to block grant Medicaid back to states following the model of the enormously successful, 1996 welfare reform block grants. States would then each be free to reform Medicaid for the poor in their respective states. The states could then use the block grant funds to finance health insurance vouchers that the poor in their state can use to purchase private health insurance of their choice, in addition to the refundable, universal, health insurance tax credit. States could also use part of these Medicaid block grant funds to finance state High Risk Pools, covering the uninsured who had contracted highly costly illnesses while uninsured, for which they can no longer get health insurance in the market.
Goodman’s plan would consequently repeal and replace Obamacare, delivering on the original Obamacare promise of universal health care for all. Yet, it would do so with no individual mandate, and no employer mandate, while cutting taxes by $1 trillion, and spending by $2 trillion, over the first 10 years alone, and provide for a massive reduction in unnecessary, counterproductive regulation (mandates, guaranteed issue, community rating).
Under this proposal, everyone chooses the health plan they each prefer, so, of course, if you like your health plan, you can keep it. No new requirements and burdens are placed on health insurers, so there would be no terminations or cancellations of existing plans. Current law would continue to prohibit cancelling anyone covered after they get sick, as it has under the common law for hundreds of years, and as it currently does under federal law. Since your current plan finances your current doctor, of course you can keep your doctor as well. Edie Sundby would be free to continue to survive, and even recover, from her cancer.
Workers who do not like their current employer plan can use the universal health insurance tax credit to buy the plan they prefer, including a Health Savings Account (HSA). The poor on Medicaid could use the vouchers and universal tax credit to choose HSAs as well.
HSAs were enacted into law in December, 2003. A slowdown in rising health costs first showed up meaningfully in the data in mid-2005, when Barack Obama was still in the Illinois state legislature. Participation in HSAs has been growing at double digits every year since then.
National health spending growth slowed to 3.9% each year from 2009 to 2011, the slowest rate of increase since the 1960s (which was the last time the government role in health care exploded). But all that Obamacare, passed in 2010 (and not going fully into effect until next year), did during that time was contribute to increased health costs.
HSAs are designed to greatly reduce the cost of health insurance by offering coverage with a high deductible, in the range of $2,000 to $6,000 a year or more. The savings achieved from the lower premium expense due to that deductible then funds the HSA, which pays for health care costs below the deductible. Catastrophic insurance pays for health costs above the deductible each year. The patient keeps any leftover HSA funds each year for future health care expenses, or to spend on anything in retirement. This framework creates full market incentives to control costs for all noncatastrophic health care expenses, because the patient is effectively using his or her own money to pay for them. Since the patient is now concerned about costs, doctors and hospitals will compete to control costs.
This is why a Rand Corporation study last year found that those covered by HSAs spend 21% less on average on health care in the first year after switching from more traditional coverage. Rand estimated that national health costs would fall by $57 billion if half of all workers were covered by HSAs.
HSAs are consequently a proven means of markedly reducing health costs. Combining interstate sale of health insurance with tort reform would further reduce costs, delivering on this Obamacare promise as well, again unlike Obamacare.
Republicans can rightly be faulted for failing to even try to repeal and replace Obamacare with this free market health care reform.[Originally posted on Forbes.com]
Photo: President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act (source: Wikipedia)
What an Autumn it’s been. Rejecting claims of looming cataclysm, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) issued Climate Change Reconsidered-II on September 17. This report by 50 experts documents actual planetary temperature, climate and weather in recent decades – and the ways alarmist scientists have manipulated data, graphs, computer models and weather events to make it appear that human influences are much greater than they actually are.
On September 20, the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed tough new standards for carbon dioxide emissions (EPA calls it “carbon pollution”) from future power plants – ignoring the fact that this plant-fertilizing gas is essential for virtually all life on Earth. The standards would effectively prevent construction of new coal-fired plants, which could not possibly comply. Older plants would gradually be closed down and, as the limits are ratcheted downward, even gas-fired power plants would be affected.
The September 26 release of the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report marked sea changes for this politicized organization. Though it tried to obfuscate the fact, the panel finally admitted that its models don’t work very well and there has been no global warming for 16 years. IPCC chairman Pachauri nevertheless still insisted that there is “definitely an increase in our belief” that humans are “responsible for climate change,” and his organization is now 95% confident it’s been right all along.
On October 15, the US Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court decision that said EPA could use its regulation of automobile emissions as a springboard to impose power plant and other stationary source emission standards. The court said it would not reconsider its 2007 decision that allowed EPA to treat carbon dioxide as a “pollutant” and “threat to human health and welfare.” However, litigants are certain to raise that central issue in their coming arguments before the court.
Meanwhile, Australia’s new Prime Minister has vowed to scrap his country’s carbon dioxide cap-tax-and-trade law. In Europe, families are reeling from energy price shocks, elderly people are dying because they cannot afford proper heating and nutrition, and industry leaders are warning that “green” energy and other climate change policies threaten “a systematic industrial massacre,” as soaring electricity, transportation and natural gas prices make companies less and less competitive in international markets.
All in all, for purveyors of climate alarmism, the forecast calls for increasing cloudiness, severe thunderstorms and stronger hurricanes for months and years to come. That is hardly surprising.
The alarmists have systematically assaulted and corrupted genuine science. They have injected subjective values and ideological tests, while eliminating the most vital components of the scientific method: comprehensive, independent, empirical and transparent processes that, above all, require that hypotheses and models be confirmed by actual observations, or be rejected and replaced by new ones.
What began as an honest inquiry into possible roles of human activities on “global warming” evolved into assertions that mankind alone is responsible for “climate change,” and society’s carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gas” emissions somehow replaced the complex, interrelated natural factors that have driven global warming, cooling, storms, droughts and other climatic changes throughout geologic history.
Claims of “manmade climate disaster” are now zealously defended by politicians, eco-activists, alarmist scientists, government agencies, and directors of scientific societies in the United States, Canada and Europe – at all costs, to the exclusion of alternative explanations. They reject debate, vilify challengers to alarmist orthodoxy and, by rejecting genuine climate science, make it impossible to predict future climate. Their chief goals are to redistribute wealth, keep “climate chaos” money flowing in – and justify demands that fossil fuels be eliminated, even for developing nations that need them to lift billions out of poverty.
That’s why Brazil, China and India alone are emitting 180 times more plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide than can be attributed to energy from Alberta’s oil sands: 9 billion tons per year versus 50 million! Moreover, reality continues to be contrary to media stories and what alarmists now refer to as “climate disruption.” Even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reach 400 ppm (0.04% of all the gases in Earth’s atmosphere), average planetary temperatures have remained stable for 16 years, and heat-related “extreme weather” events are not increasing. That’s not surprising.
The models assume all warming since the industrial revolution began is due to human carbon dioxide; exaggerate climate sensitivity to CO2 levels; program in temperature data that is contaminated by urban heat sources; and simplify or ignore vital climate influences like solar energy variations, cosmic ray fluxes, clouds, precipitation, ocean currents, and recurrent phenomena like El Niño and La Niña. It’s garbage in – garbage out. That’s why the IPCC climate models predicted that average global temperatures would be as much as 1.6 degrees F higher than they actually were over the past 22 years.
In fact, modest 1-3 degree F temperature increases, especially coupled with more carbon dioxide, would help green the Earth, spur plant growth, boost crop yields, and feed more people more nutritiously. However, many solar scientists now believe the sun has entered a low activity or cooling phase that could continue for decades. If that is the case, instead of average global temperatures increasing, they could well decrease a few degrees, which would adversely affect forests, grasslands, growing seasons and the extent of arable acreage. Thankfully, that has not happened so far.
However, extreme cold weather events have occurred in recent years over Europe, northern India, and parts of North and South America. Four of the five snowiest northern hemisphere winters in the last half century have occurred since 2008, closing down villages and killing wildlife, farm animals and people. Antarctic ice is at a record high. Arctic sea ice is back to normal, after the coldest summer in decades.
But these heavy snows – along with the highly publicized 2010 Russian summer heat wave, severe floods in Pakistan that same summer, and the Midwestern United States 2012 summer heat wave – were all part ofnatural climate variability, as books, research papers and NIPCC reports have documented.
Climate chaos false prophets like Rajendra Pachauri, Al Gore and David Suzuki predicted bigger, deadlier storms and flooded coastal cities, because of global warming. But the opposite has happened. It has been eight years since a Category 3 hurricane hit the United States: Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, in 2005. That is the most years since the 1860s with no major hurricane making landfall. Tornado frequency is the lowest on record. Droughts are shorter and less extreme than during the Dust Bowl and 1950s.
Sea levels continue to rise at a meager half-foot per century – which translates into a maximum possible increase of just one inch (25 mm) by 2025. Such a modest rise in sea level poses no threat whatsoever to humanity or coastal communities. It’s also a far cry from the 1-2 feet by 2100 that the IPCC predicted in 2007; the nearly 1-3 feet that its 2013 “scientific report” predicts just for 2081-2100; or the ridiculous 20 feet of sea level rise by 2100 that media-hungry climate charlatan James Hansen has forecast.
2013 witnessed the fewest US forest fires in a decade; it ranks second in the fewest acres burned. But such conflagrations are really due to irresponsible policies on forest management and fire suppression.
In short, our Earth’s climate may well be changing, as it has repeatedly throughout history. But the changes are natural, and they have been far from catastrophic – nothing like the wooly mammoth ice ages or Little Ice Age, and no worse than the 1930s Dust Bowl. Moreover, the changes are natural in origin. They are not due to humans, and they are not occurring in ways the alarmists and their models predicted
We need hydrocarbon energy: to lift more people out of poverty, maintain our living standards, and ensure the wealth and technology to adapt to any climate changes that nature may visit upon us (with or without some localized contribution from humans). We also need genuine climate forecasting capabilities, to predict and prepare for those future fluctuations. Climate alarmism undermines all of this.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death. Madhav Khandekar is a PhD meteorologist (Florida State University) and lead author for the “extreme weather” chapter in Climate Change Reconsidered-II.
Heartland Institute Policy Advisor Mischa Popoff is an organic skeptic, with good reason. Between the certification system, the federal government, and the private agencies, you cannot assume you are getting what you’re paying for. In the video below, Mischa sits down with Canada’s Sun News to discuss how buying organic can be a scam. Many consumers today to think organic is the way to go thanks to marketing services designed to have you believe organic is better.
Mischa highlights an incident in Germany of an e. coli outbreak in which 40 people died and more then 3,900 will be on kidney dialysis from eating organic bean sprouts. Because organic food companies are not allowed to use synthetic fertilizer, composted manure is the next option. If used incorrectly, composted manure can have fatal consequences.
Watch Mischa talk about all that, and more, below:
We are in the midst of a transition away from copper wire-based communications services to broadband Internet-based services – a transition that then-FCC commissioner Michael Powell called the “Great Digital Broadband Migration” way back in the year 2000.
To its credit, on October 23, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the implications of this migration to digital services. While the hearing’s title – “The Evolution of Wired Communications Networks” – might put you in mind for a good nap, the hearing did focus needed attention on important public policy issues raised by the digital transition. And now, with the Senate just confirming Democrat Tom Wheeler as President Obama’s choice for new Federal Communications Commission chairman, along with Republican Michael O’Reilly as a new commissioner, the House hearing couldn’t have been timelier.
Because the FCC, with a new chairman and a full complement of commissioners now on board, needs to act with dispatch to adapt its regulations to the new digital age marketplace realities.
The digital migration, or migration to IP (Internet Protocol) services as they are often called, already is far along. According to a just-released report by Anna-Maria Kovacs, a visiting senior policy scholar at Georgetown University’s Center for Business and Public Policy, as of 2012 only 5 percent of U.S. households still rely only on copper-based wireline POTS (plain old telephone service) lines for voice communications, while 38 percent of U.S. households are wireless only. Over 90 percent of households subscribe to wireless service, increasingly delivered over IP broadband platforms. All the while, the number of subscribers to IP-based voice services provided by cable companies and others has increased steadily as POTS subscriptions have declined.
The IP migration presents policymakers with a fundamental question: will the century-old public utility-style regulatory framework that still largely governs communications service providers be replaced by a free market-oriented framework that benefits consumers, while, at the same time, stimulating investment and innovation? Or instead, will the legacy framework, with rate regulation, nondiscrimination mandates, and other regulatory strictures, be an obstacle to realizing the full benefits of the digital revolution?
There is near universal agreement that IP services provide consumers with more features and functionalities in less costly, more efficient ways than do the old copper-based services. There is also widespread agreement that IP-based services have fostered increasing competition among broadband providers for the provision of voice, high-speed data, and video services, regardless of whether these providers offer these services over wireline, cable, wireless, satellite, fiber, or some other technology.
So the relevant point for the FCC and other policymakers is not, as pro-regulatory advocates often imply, that all of the services offered by all of the competitors are not perfectly substitutable all of the time for all consumers. No, the relevant point is that, for a large, ever increasing number of consumers, a choice of various IP-based competitors exists, and these competitors, in turn, offer a choice of attractive service options.
In other words, within the past decade or two, the communications marketplace has been transformed from a monopolistic environment into a competitive one characterized by increasing consumer choice
The transition to all-IP networks almost certainly will be completed at some point in time, but given the benefits of IP services, sooner is better than later. The key hangup is this: telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon are required by existing regulations to maintain in place their old copper networks even as they become economically unviable as the traffic they carry declines dramatically. Indeed, in 2010, when the FCC adopted a National Broadband Plan, it acknowledged that continuing to require telephone companies to maintain the copper-based networks “siphons investments from new networks and services” and “reduces the incentive for incumbents to deploy” new IP facilities.
Despite that now 3-year-old acknowledgment, the FCC nevertheless has been slow to act. The Commission opened a proceeding to consider IP transition issues a year ago, but since then, the proceeding has stalled.
The Commission needs to act more quickly because the longer the old copper facilities must continue to be operated, the greater the costs incurred through loss of foregone investment and innovation. The FCC likely possesses the authority under the Communications Act to eliminate the regulatory changes that impede completion of the digital migration, while, at the same time, safeguarding certain important public safety and universal service interests. For example, as the copper network is phased out, questions relating to the continued availability of reliable E911 services must be addressed.
To the extent the FCC lacks any needed authority, or fails properly to exercise such authority in a timely fashion, then Congress should be ready to step in with near-term legislation. For example, Congressman Bob Latta’s recently introduced bill, H.R. 2649, requires the FCC to presume that relief from existing regulations should be granted to the telephone companies, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. This measure establishing a deregulatory presumption could be a useful tool in enabling the FCC to accelerate the IP transition, especially if applied to all entities subject to FCC regulation.
Aside from any near-term legislation that may be needed, ultimately Congress should adopt a comprehensive Communications Act overhaul that substitutes a deregulatory, free market-oriented regime for the current public utility-style regulatory mandates. Under a new Digital Age Communications Act, the FCC’s regulatory interventions in the new IP world should be required to be tied closely to evidentiary findings of market failure and consumer harm.
In today’s communications environment, the reality is that public utility-style regulation is no longer needed to protect consumers. Maintaining the old regime in place is unduly burdensome and too costly. Marketplace competition can protect consumers, while spurring both investment and innovation crucial to the health of our economy.
With a newly reconstituted FCC ready to get to work, it’s an opportune time for the agency to abandon its traditional pro-regulatory mindset.
As part of his climate change initiative announced in June, President Obama declared, “Today I’m calling for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas unless they deploy carbon capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity.” Restrictions on financing will reduce the supply and increase the cost of electrical power in developing nations, prolonging global poverty.
The World Bank has followed President Obama’s lead, announcing a shift in policy in July, stating that they will provide, “financial support for greenfield coal power generation projects only in rare circumstances.” The bank has provided hundreds of millions in funding for decades to coal-fired projects throughout the developing world.
Also in July, the Export-Import Bank denied financing for the proposed Thai Binh Two coal-fired power plant in Vietnam after “careful environmental review.” While 98 percent of the population of Vietnam has access to electricity, Vietnamese consume only about 1,100 kilowatt-hours per person per year, about one-twelfth of United States usage. Electricity consumption grew 34 percent in Vietnam from 2008 to 2011. The nation needs more power and international funds for coal-fired power projects. But western ideologues try to prevent Vietnam from using coal.
The President, the World Bank, and the Export-Import Bank have accepted the ideology of Climatism, the belief that mankind is causing dangerous climate change. By restricting loans to poor nations, they hope to stop the planet from warming. But what is certain is that their new policies will raise the cost of electricity in poor nations and prolong global poverty.
In most markets, coal is the lowest-cost fuel for producing electricity. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), world coal and peat usage increased from 24.6 percent of the world’s primary energy supply in 1973 to 28.8 percent of supply in 2011. By comparison, electricity generated from wind and solar sources supplied less that 1 percent of global needs in 2011.
The cost of electricity from natural gas rivals that of coal in the United States, thanks to the hydrofracturing revolution. But natural gas remains a regional fuel. Natural gas prices in Europe are double those in the US and prices in Japan are triple US prices. Until the fracking revolution spreads across the world, the lowest cost fuel for electricity remains coal.
Despite our President’s endorsement, carbon capture technologies are far from a proven solution for electrical power. According the US Department of Energy, carbon capture adds 70 percent to the cost of electricity. In addition, huge quantities of captured carbon dioxide must be transported and stored underground, adding additional cost. There are no utilities currently using carbon capture on a commercial scale.
Coal usage continues to grow. Global coal consumption grew 2.5 percent from 2011 to 2012, the fastest growing hydrocarbon fuel. In 2011, coal was the primary fuel for electricity production in Poland (95%), South Africa (93%), India (86%), China (84%), Australia (72%), Germany (47%), the United States (45%), and Korea (44%). Should we now forbid coal usage in developing nations?
President Obama has stated, “…countries like China and Germany are going all in in the race for clean energy.” But China and Germany are huge coal users and usage is increasing in both nations. More than 50 percent of German electricity now comes from coal as coal fills the gap from closing nuclear plants. Today, China consumes more than 45 percent of the world’s total coal production.
Today, more than 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity. Hundreds of millions of others struggle with unreliable power. Power outages interrupt factory production, students walk to airports to read under the lights, and schools and hospitals lack vital electrical power.
Electricity is the foundation of a modern industrialized nation. Lack of electricity means poverty, disease, and shortened lifespans. Foolish climate policies lock chains on developing nations.
[First Published by Washington Times]
Entrepreneurs in industries tied to the energy efficiency gambit, justified by the climate change House of Cards, all have the same false bravado: they are “game changers” and “market leaders” (for products nobody wants); all their squandered revenues are “investments;” their technological breakthroughs are always “just around the corner;” and it just takes one more round of mandates/grants/loans/tax breaks to achieve viability in the free market.
It’s true of renewable energy and electric vehicles, and as Cree Inc. CEO Chuck Swoboda (in photo with President Obama) revealed last week, it’s true of the alternative light bulb industry too. In a shareholder meeting at the company’s Durham, N.C. headquarters, he boasted about his marketing acumen that he says will persuade the public to embrace Cree’s light-emitting diode (LED) technology and abandon the traditional light bulb – which consumers will soon have no choice about. The meeting featured some new Cree television commercials, with one titled “Eulogy,” in which a spokesman buries an incandescent in a field.
“We are changing generations of belief about lighting,” Swoboda said.
Read the rest here: http://bit.ly/1bSGl9k
The war on climate change has produced many dubious “innovations.” Intermittent wind and solar energy sources, carbon markets that buy and sell “hot air,” and biofuels that burn food as we drive are just a few examples. But carbon capture and storage is the Edsel of energy policies.Carbon capture and storage (CCS), also called carbon capture and sequestration, is promoted by President Obama, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for coal-fired power plants. In September, the EPA proposed a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity produced, a regulation that would effectively ban construction of new coal plants without CCS. Coal is the world’s fastest growing hydrocarbon fuel. Increased use of coal by developing nations boosted coal use from 24.6 percent of the world’s primary energy supply in 1973 to 28.8 percent in 2011. Wind and solar remain less than one percent of the global energy supply. Proponents of the theory of man-made warming realize that world use of coal will remain strong for decades, so they insist that coal plants use CCS to limit CO2 emissions. CCS requires capturing of carbon dioxide, a normal waste product from the combustion of fuel, transporting CO2 by pipeline, and then storing it underground. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says, “CCS technology is feasible and it’s available.” Carbon capture is feasible, but it’s very expensive. The DOE estimates that CCS increases coal-fired electricity cost by 70 percent. This does not include the additional cost of building pipelines to transport the carbon dioxide and the cost of establishing reservoirs to store the CO2 underground. An example is Southern Company’s planned coal-fired plant with CCS in Kemper County, Mississippi, which is scheduled to begin operations in 2014. With recent cost overruns, the Southern Company now estimates a $4.7 billion price tag for the 582-megawatt plant. This exceeds the price of a comparable nuclear plant and is almost five times the price of a gas-fired plant. The DOE pledged $270 million in funding for the Kemper County plant along with a federal tax credit of $133 million. Mississippi customers will be socked with a $2.88 billion electricity rate increase to support the plant. Nine U.S. plants currently capture CO2 as part of normal industrial processes, such as natural gas or chemical refining and fertilizer production. All nine facilities sell CO2 to the petroleum industry for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), a process which pumps CO2 into the ground. The Kemper County plant will also provide CO2 for EOR. Another ten US projects are underway to capture CO2 and most of these projects are subsidized with federal money. Ford spent $350 million on the Edsel, the most famous car failure in history. But CCS is a much bigger financial boondoggle. From 2008 through 2012, governments committed to spend more than $22 billion on CCS projects. The United States leads the way with a commitment of more than $5 billion. Despite support by US and world governments, carbon capture is not headed for success. A report released by the Global CCS Institute this month shows that international investment in CCS is now in decline. During the last year, the number of large-scale CCS projects declined from 75 to 65. Five projects were cancelled and seven were put on hold, with only three new projects added. The institute reports that private organizations are not investing in CCS. The number of CCS projects in Europe has declined from 21 to 15, where no new project has entered commercial operation since 2008. The Global CCS Institute states that an “urgent policy response is required” for success. In other words, governments must impose carbon taxes and provide big subsidies for CCS. Would carbon capture really have a measurable effect on global warming? CO2 emissions from power plants total less than one percent of the carbon dioxide that naturally enters the atmosphere each year from the oceans, the biosphere, and other natural sources. If the world fully implements CCS, it’s unlikely that we could detect a change in global temperatures. But, worse than this, if the theory of dangerous man-made global warming is false, CCS becomes an expensive solution to a non-problem. When the dust of history settles and the ideology of Climatism fades away, failed CCS projects will be remembered as the Edsel of energy policies. Originally published in The Washington Times Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of Americaand author of the bookThe Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania.
The National Interagency Fire Center keeps records of the number of wildfires and areas covered for the United States on a daily basis. The following table listing fires for the past ten years from January 1 to September 24 was released September 25. As shown, 2013 wildfires are the lowest level in the past ten years and less than two-thirds the average. This is contrary to impressions given by national newspapers and ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN on their reporting.
Due to considerable September rainfall and snowfall out West, it is unlikely the number of 2013 wildfires will increase by any significant amount during the rest of the year.
The great attention given wildfires this year is due to efforts by President Obama’s Administration promoting global warming from burning fossil fuels is causing increased catastrophic events like wildfires. Paraphrasing Mark Twain on his reported death, “The news of greater national wildfires is greatly exaggerated.”
Other areas involving the United States on global warming threats subject to Mark Twain’s comment are recent increases in rain, drought, hurricanes, tornados, sea level rise, 2012 being the hottest year on record, and lack of snowfall. On a global basis comments subject to Mark Twain’s comments are accelerating sea level rise, accelerating global temperature increases, and record decline on sea ice extent. There is a host of data collected by NOAA and other organizations refuting exaggerations by climate alarmists on recent weather data. Climate events happening today have been happening for millennia.
YEAR-TO-DATE NATIONAL WILDFIRE STATISTICS
2013 (1/1/13 – 9/24/13) Fires: 38,619 Acres: 4,006,968
2012 (1/1/12 – 9/24/12) Fires: 47,437 Acres: 8,678,952
2011 (1/1/11 – 9/24/11) Fires: 59,149 Acres: 7,684,416
2010 (1/1/10 – 9/24/10) Fires: 48,951 Acres: 2,764,416
2009 (1/1/09 – 9/24/09) Fires: 70,609 Acres: 5,576,832
2008 (1/1/08 – 9/24/08) Fires: 67,399 Acres: 4,668,075
2007 (1/1/07 – 9/24/07) Fires: 71,244 Acres: 8,155,743
2006 (1/1/06 – 9/24/06) Fires: 82,922 Acres: 8,961,859
2005 (1/1/05 – 9/24/05) Fires: 52,311 Acres: 8,150,320
2004 (1/1/03 – 9/24/04) Fires: 60,470 Acres: 7,738,246
10-year average 2004-2013 Fires: 59,911 Acres: 6,638,583
Heartland Institute friend Tom Harris of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) was a guest recently on Sun News to discuss the case of a “climate refugee.” Tom talked about a man from the tiny archepelago nation of Kiribati who’s work permit expired in New Zealand and wants to stay there. So what does he claim? That because of climate change he cannot return home due to sea-level rise.
Harris, points out the problem with this claim is that even when sea level rise was at its peak during World War II it was only .6 millimeters per year. It would take thousands of years for this “climate refugee” to be affected. Tom then goes on to discuss that bowing to claims like this would have wide-rippling effects.
For instance, the government of the Czech Republic is currently being sued by Micronesia because of their coal stations and the belief that the Maldives are sinking. The initiations of these claims are coming from the belief in a false problem being pushed by both media and universities.