In a somewhat surprising editorial, (section 1, p. 22) the Chicago Tribune editors lament the Senate passing a $1 trillion farm bill on Monday, June 11th. The bill represents all that is wrong with Washington: it gives perverse incentives to farmers to take unnecessary risks because if those risks fail, the farmers are no held accountable. Indeed, the taxpayers are left holding the bag. Snip:
If Congress gets its way, the program would grow to at least $9 billion a year over the coming decade, and probably a lot more.
The subsidies encourage farmers to obtain so much coverage that they take risks no prudent operator would take. They plant on unsuitable land, knowing that if a crop fails, they can make a claim. They usually plant corn, the nation’s No. 1 cash crop, which is in demand partly from companies that brew it into ethanol fuel — an industry that owes its existence to more government subsidies.
Consumers are also going to be faced with higher dairy prices as well as the bill will drive up prices by forcing cuts in production should it be determined there is an “oversupply.” The editorial is spot on–it’s time to “wean the agricultural industry off of welfare.” I would add, it’s time to give consumers a break and allow the market to work as it does best: by providing low prices and quality products, and that includes what we consume in food.
The great American experiment in democracy is currently failing. In proof of that, I give you Exhibit A: We cannot even agree on the basic fact of whether health insurance premiums are rising or falling under Obamacare. Note, this is not a matter even of opinion. It is a matter of simple fact, right or wrong. But if we can’t agree on what the basic facts are, we cannot analyze Obamacare, or even discuss it intelligently.
The problem began with contentious California bureaucrats running the California Obamacare Exchange, named Covered California. They released the rates that insurance companies bid to sell the required insurance to individual purchasers on the California Obamacare Exchange. See if you can immediately spot the dishonest fallacy in the key summary statement in the Covered California press release: “The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market ranged from 2 percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”
This is like a California Chevy dealer in a year when the price of new Chevys has soared, issuing a press release that says, “The prices for new Chevy autos and trucks this year ranged from 2 percent above to 29 percent below the average price this year for new Cadillac autos and trucks in California’s most populous regions.”
Actually, it is worse even than that. Because the Covered California press release compared the prices of individual insurance to the prices for small business insurance, it is more like a Chevy dealer press release that says, “The prices for new Chevy autos and trucks this year ranged from 2 percent above to 29 percent below the average price this year for new small buses and dump trucks.”
But that misstatement of the basic facts is all it took for media organs of Leftist so-called Progressivism to crank up the celebratory pipes. Peter Lee, Executive Director of the Covered California Exchange kicked off the dishonest, misleading rhetoric, proclaiming regarding the newly announced rates, “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California.” He reached that conclusion by comparing Yankee Stadium home runs to Lambeau Field touchdowns.
Next up to bat at the free throw line was logic arsonist Paul Krugman, whose writing always makes you feel like the First Amendment was a mistake. On the basis of the data comparing apples to Orangutans, he concluded that “the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success,” explaining that the ultimate result of Obamacare will be “millions of Americans will suddenly gain health coverage, and millions more will feel much more secure knowing that such coverage is available if they lose their jobs or suffer other misfortunes. Only a relative handful of people will be hurt at all.”
He overlooks the equal millions of Americans that will suddenly not get health coverage under “universal” Obamacare, the millions more who will choose not to get health insurance “secure knowing that such coverage is available” if they get sick later, the tens of millions who will lose their employer provided health insurance, regardless of whether they like that coverage or not, the millions more who will lose their full time jobs for part time jobs with lower incomes and no benefits, becoming truly middle class in the Obama/Krugman era, where middle class is just another word for declining real incomes, and the millions more who will be denied access to the best health practitioners and facilities, and to the new, innovative, health care breakthroughs that were never financed, under the restrictive Obamacare choices allowed by the social justice of “progressive,” political health care.
Krugman reveals his true “Progressivism,” saying the end result will be that “the sheer meanspiritedness of the Obamacare opponents will become ever more obvious,” argument collapsing into sheer name calling being the hallmark of a truly “progressive” discussion.
The simplest and most direct discussion of the issue, failing to grasp any relevant distinctions at all, was provided by my fellow Forbes contributor Rick Ungar, who reported in one of his columns, echoing of course Krugman, “Upon reviewing the data, I was indeed shocked by the proposed premium rates, but not in the way you might expect. The jolt that I was experiencing was not the result of out-of-control premium costs but the shock of rates far lower than what I expected – even at the lowest end of the age scale.” Either Ungar failed to understand the distinction between Chevys and Cadillacs, or between the family Chevy and a bus, or he decided that the truly progressive course was to play along with the California bureaucrat misrepresentation, rather than disclose the fallacy to his readers. Apple or Orange, Rick?
But Ungar went on to explain, “what we are now seeing in states like California is that the desire on the part of the health insurance companies to increase market share – thanks to the large influx of customers as a result of Obamacare – is driving prices downward.” We will see about that large influx of customers. Personally, I am not buying an Obamacare policy until I am sick, and I am already well over 40 years old. And I don’t expect to be paying any penalty for that decision either.
It took Avik Roy to explain the real story in his column, also at Forbes. He examined health insurance policies currently offered on the unofficial, private sector, non-political ehealthinsurance exchange and concluded, “Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums by as much as 146 percent.”
“[F]or the typical 25 year old male non-smoking Californian,” Roy added, “Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.” For a 40 year old male non-smoker” Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.” Roy summarized, “For both 25-year-olds and 40-year-olds, then, Californians under Obamacare who buy insurance for themselves will see their insurance premiums double.” That is a conservative understatement of his actual results.
But Ungar responded in his next column, objecting to Roy’s methodology with Alinskyite ridicule: “my first reaction was to laugh. eHealthinsurance.com? Seriously?” Ungar’s complaint was that Roy’s comparisons were based on so-called “teaser rates” on the eHealthinsurance website, explaining “I mean, you don’t have to be a healthcare policy expert to know that websites like eHealthinsurance.com always flash low rates in front of you—prices that maybe one person in a thousand might actually hope to achieve—to tickle the interest of a potential customer.” That “knowledge” is based on what?
Ungar continued, “It’s not that the flashing low prices are necessarily false as there is always going to be someone who can qualify for the exceptionally low rate.” But “have you ever suffered a migraine headache? If you have, be prepared for a substantial increase over the teaser price stated on a website like eHealthinsurance.com. Ever experience a summer of hay fever? Your rate will skyrocket as a result. Did you have acne as a teenager? Uh-oh…price is going up.”
My first reaction is to laugh. Seriously? What is the source that insurance rates “skyrocket” for “a summer of hay fever,” or teenage acne? I just filled out a health insurance application. They didn’t ask me any of Ungar’s questions. Ungar has shifted at this critical point in the debate from opinion journalism to fabricated fablism, as I will show below.
The real data is provided in a more serious response from another “progressive” warrior, Ezra Klein. He shows more of an intellectual grasp in trying to argue that the real data is actually irrelevant, but that argument reveals the actual progressive economic fallacy at the root of the argument.
Klein searches on eHealthinsurance for policies offered in his hometown of Irvine, California, finding a bestseller policy listed for $109 a month. He at first starts off with similar fablistic fantasy, saying that rate is dependent on such questions as whether you have ever had a headache, “Do you feel sad when it rains? When it doesn’t rain? Is there a history of cardiovascular disease in your family? Have you ever known anyone who had the flu?” For the record, no health insurance company adjusts rates for the disease history of anyone but the applicant.
But then Klein gets more serious, and reveals the truth. “According to HealthCare.gov, 14 percent of people who try to buy that plan are turned away outright. Another 12 percent are told they have to pay more than $109.” That means three-fourths of people get the health insurance for the $109 quoted! Mathematically, that is universes apart from Rick Ungar’s “one person in a thousand.”
But Klein tries to argue that the one fourth who don’t get the coverage for $109 “are the people who need health insurance the most—they are sick, or were sick, or are likely to get sick.” Klein concludes that to judge Obamacare “from a baseline that leaves them out—a baseline that asks only what the wealthy and healthy would pay and ignores the benefits to the poor, the sick, the old, and women—well, that is a bit shocking.”
In other words, as others have argued more simply, you pay more for Obamacare health insurance, but you get more. You get a Cadillac instead of a Chevy. But if that is unambiguously a good thing, why doesn’t everyone buy a Cadillac? The modern economic understanding that Progressives miss is that only an individual consumer can decide if it is worth it to devote the extra money to buying a Cadillac instead of a Chevy, or to devote the extra money that would cost to something else. But being true “Progressives,” they are certain they know how to spend your money better than you do. So they will decide whether it is desirable for you to spend the extra funds on Obamacare Cadillac health insurance.
Progressives lapse into childish fantasy when they argue, wait, after accounting for the Obamacare taxpayer subsidies, many people will not be paying more. The childlike Progressive Principle here is that taxpayer financed subsidies are free and not a cost. Here we have departed from the realm of Aristotelian logic, and are dealing in New Age, stoner illogic.
Roy, in his very next column, returns the debate to classical logic, from Klein’s sophist emotionalism. Roy recognized that Klein had shifted the debate from arguing that the Obamacare rates were shockingly low, to what Roy called the “Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums.” Roy explained, “What’s new is that liberal columnists, facing reality, are conceding that premiums will go up for most people in the individual market. But they’re justifying it by saying that ‘rate shock’ will help a tiny minority of people who can’t get insurance today. If they had said that in 2009, would Obamacare have passed?”
Roy continued that what the California Exchange rates now showed “is how much more the healthy will have to pay for that insurance, under Obamacare.” In Klein’s Irvine, California, premiums for the lowest cost comprehensive plan (the catastrophic plan is available only for those under 30) would more than double, skyrocketing by 130 percent.
“The key thing to remember is that back when Obamacare was being debated in Congress, Democrats claimed that it was right-wing nonsense that premiums would go up under Obamacare. ‘What we know for sure,’ Obamacare architect Jonathon Gruber told Ezra Klein in 2009, ‘is that [the bill] will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance.’ For sure. In 2009, was Ezra saying that its ok that premiums will double for the average person, because a minority of people with pre-existing conditions will benefit? No.”
Roy says it would benefit a tiny minority because, “Based on enrollment in Obamacare’s high-risk pool program, the number of people in America who are truly uninsurable is closer to 150,000. That’s a pretty small number in a nation of 300 million.”
But what is really most important is that it is not the conservative or Republican position that it is ok for this small minority to be left uninsured without essential health care!!!! Roy has his own plan for universal health care in a free market. I am sure that mine that I co-authored last October with John Goodman, President of the National Center for Policy Analysis, “Health Care for All Without the Affordable Care Act,” NCPA Policy Brief No. 116, is better. Our reform plan provides for health care for all with no individual mandate and no employer mandate, at a savings of $2 trillion over the next 10 years alone, as compared to current law. Sounds too good to be true? Read the paper, and tell us where we are wrong. I expect that plan to be formally introduced in Congress shortly, and to provide the foundation for ultimately repealing Obamacare, helping in the process to return the Che Guevara Democrats to the private sector fever swamps.
Barack Obama campaigned for President not on the intellectually honest position that “Obamacare will cost more, but it would be worth it,” but instead on the intellectually dishonest position that it would reduce the cost of health insurance, while covering everyone. Peter Suderman correctly reported on MSNBC on June 4 that during Obama’s first campaign, the candidate’s position was that under his health reform plan, “If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under the plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less.” Suderman added, “On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama continued to sell the [reform] as a way to lower health premiums, promising at least 15 times to reduce health premiums for families by $2,500 on average.”
I have used the term “Calculated Deception” to refer to Obama’s strategy of rhetorical deception, taking advantage of what Obama shrewdly perceives that the average person will not understand, and what the “mainstream” Democrat Party controlled media will not tell him. That pledge to reduce the cost of health insurance by $2,500 per family was calculated deception that is being exposed as such right now.
But such Calculated Deception amplified in the Democrat controlled media echo chamber just renders our democracy confused and dysfunctional. How many people can even feel their way through the confusion smokescreen I just stumbled though? A solution for this dysfunction remains to be found, perhaps in the forces of honest logic gaining greater control over more commanding media institutions.
[First Published by Forbes.com]
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been missing the mark in their estimates, and Steve is calling them out. And they aren’t the only ones publishing false alarms:
We have now, over the last 15 years, flat global temperatures … about 44 climate models are incorrect. They’ve all forecasted temperatures higher than what we’ve actually seen.
Meanwhile, breakthrough technology like hydrocarbon promises a much needed boost to the economy. So the real question is, why do state governments continue to incentivize inefficient energy sources?
[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast free at this link.]
The Chinese Academy of Sciences, one of the most prestigious scientific academies in the world, has translated and published two massive volumes of peer-reviewed climate science first published by The Heartland Institute.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) will present the two books at a June 15 event in Beijing, a landmark event that puts enormous scientific heft behind the questionable notion that man is responsible for catastrophically warming the planet.
“This is a historic moment in the global debate about climate change,” Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast said. “The translation and publication of Climate Change Reconsidered by the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences follows strong statements by the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences dissenting from claims that global warming is either man-made or a crisis.
“The trend toward skepticism and away from alarmism is now unmistakable,” Bast said.
Climate Change Reconsidered and Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report present a sweeping rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations’ controversial Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose reports were widely cited as the basis for taking action to stop or slow the advance of climate change. More recently, the IPCC has been surrounded by controversy over lapses in its quality control and editorial bias.
CAS is the world’s largest academy of sciences, employing some 50,000 people and hosting more than 350 international conferences a year. Membership in CAS represents the highest level of national honor for Chinese scientists. The Nature Publishing Index in May ranked the Chinese Academy of Sciences No. 12 on its list of the “Global Top 100” scientific institutions – ahead of the University of Oxford (No. 14), Yale University (No. 16), and the California Institute of Technology (No. 25).
In December 2012 at a UN-sponsored meeting in Doha, Qatar, the Chinese government refused to sign a global climate treaty containing mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions. Other countries that refused to sign include Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, Russia, and the United States.
“Opposition to a new climate treaty is justified based upon the real science presented in Climate Change Reconsidered,” Bast said. “Publication of a Chinese translation of Climate Change Reconsidered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences indicates the country’s leaders believe their position is justified by science and not just economics.”
The first 856-page volume of Climate Change Reconsidered, published in 2009, and its follow-up, the 430-page Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report, were produced by a team of scientists originally convened by Dr. S. Fred Singer under the name of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). The volumes were coauthored and edited by three climate science researchers:
- Craig D. Idso, Ph.D., chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, editor of the online magazine CO2 Science, and author of several books and scholarly articles on the effects of carbon dioxide on plant and animal life;
- Robert M. Carter, Ph.D., a marine geologist and research professor at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia and author of Climate: the Counter Consensus; and
- S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., founder and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and a distinguished atmospheric physicist and first director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service.
All three men will be in Beijing for the Chinese Academy of Sciences event on June 15 to speak about the translation of Climate Change Reconsidered. Scores of additional scientists, economists, and policy experts reviewed and contributed to the volumes. Climate Change Reconsidered II is in production and is due for English-language publication by The Heartland Institute in the fall of 2013.
“Much of the success of the modern Chinese state is based upon a relentless pragmatism about practical issues of substance,” Carter said. “That the pragmatism occasionally clashes with cherished Western beliefs is no bar to its effectiveness, because the underlying thinking is always rooted in logic and evidence-based information. In this context, it is unsurprising to hear that the Chinese Academy of Sciences has seen fit to translate and distribute the rigorous and evidence-based NIPCC report.
“In due course, and as has happened so often before, doubtless Chinese companies active in the energy or climate-policy marketplaces will again leave their Western counterparts – who are still hindered by the IPCC’s leaden and outdated dangerous global warming ideology – in the competitive dust,” Carter added.
The folks at the Huffington Post reached out to me today for an “alternative,” non-lefty perspective on the crisis of college student loan debt in America. I was glad for it, and so should anyone who tuned in to HuffPost Live this afternoon. The conversation was … well … an education.
I pitched them Joy Pullmann, Heartland’s research fellow for education policy. Joy was happy to take out some time on very short notice (one hour) to be on the program. She absolutely slayed three other supporters of more subsidies for college tuition, “help” for college grads straining under immense debt, and the idea that government has to do something to solve this problem.
Joy brought the free-market truth in a clear and aggressive way that seemed to catch host Alyona Minkovski and the other panelists off guard. Joy’s overall message: Government can’t solve the problem because government is the problem.
Joy’s co-panelists were [links to Twitter handles]:
Tyler Kingkade, HuffPost College Assistant Editor
Natalia Abrams, Co-Founder of Student Debt Crisis
Cecillia Barr, Content Contributor, Debt.org
[This is Joy's Twitter link.]
Quick summary: Joy noted that when it comes to student loan debt legislation currently percolating in Congress, President Obama is just posing. He rejects a House bill that gives him pretty much what he says he wants — lower student loan interest rates — but he’s pushing back because he thinks he can win on the politics.
Kingkade had to admit, in essence, that Joy was right on that point, saying what Obama was doing on this issue is “a sham.”
More Joy (paraphrasing):
If you want to have a better life, make that financial bet on yourself with your own money. Don’t make someone else place that bet for you — especially considering that four in 10 kids who enter college never graduate — but end up with a bunch of worthless debt anyway that is hard to pay off with the salary of a bartender or hairdresser.
I don’t want to quote or paraphrase more — except to say that Joy noted that she took and absorbed “Economics 101″ in college, and openly wondered if her fellow panelests did. (Ouch!) Joy’s verbatim comments — her “performance,” for lack of a better term — is better experienced for yourself. Her ability to bring the facts to dominate this debate is a wonder to behold. Just imagine how good Joy would have been with more than an hour to prepare!
I hope HuffPost Live has Heartland’s smiling assassin on again. (Maybe next time, they’ll spell her name right in the “guests lineup” section.) This kind of Web TV debate is as good as it gets — and its audience could probably use more contrarian perspectives as good as this:
Joy has established a reputation as one of the nation’s most knowledgeable experts on the Common Core education standards, and why they must be opposed by parents, teachers, school boards, and the states. Joy has recently testified on the subject in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and has spoken to Tea Party audiences in several other states.
- Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita of Education Reform in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.
- Christy Hooley, a teacher from Wyoming
- Tony Urso, an activist in Wisconsin
- Whitney Neal, director of grassroots for FreedomWorks
Listen via the player above, or download at the player below. Also be sure to get your copies of Heartland’s latest booklet, authored by Joy, titled The Common Core: A Bad Idea for America to share with family, friends, your Tea Party group — anyone who needs to know why Common Core is a bad idea and why it must be stopped.
As Americans watch congressional hearings on the Internal Revenue Service, they should ask themselves what this enormously powerful, corrupt, politically motivated agency might do with its new job of administering ObamaCare.
We have heard testimony from those whose tax exemption was delayed or denied, or who underwent abusive audits, or faced seizure of their accumulated earnings, apparently because someone viewed them as opponents to the Powers.
The people who are testifying are obviously still alive.
What if this agency had the power to control access to medical care?
Of course, it will not have this power under ObamaCare. Not exactly. These are the powers that it will have:
The IRS will decide whether you get a subsidy to buy the increasingly expensive health coverage mandated under the law. Since that coverage could cost a third of your income, its “affordability” obviously depends on whether other taxpayers have to help pay for it. And by the way, the subsidy doesn’t go to you—it goes to the Plan. To qualify, the Plan has to please the Administration. It has to allocate enough for politically correct “prevention” (such as abortions) and not too much to services that lead to “disparity” (such as hip fractures in the elderly).
The IRS will determine which insurers will survive. A Plan that is not eligible for subsidies is likely to die for want of enough customers. The Administration has a record of picking winners (its cronies) and losers (its opponents).
The IRS will influence the chances that your job will survive. Your employer may be hit with ruinous fines for not having benefits that qualify or for having workers who apply for subsidies on the Exchange. As the rules are impossibly complex, government agencies have a lot of discretion, which can be used to reward and to punish.
The IRS will control your ability to get real insurance. Big employers are now discovering that they can satisfy the mandate by offering “skinny” plans that are even more limited than the “mini-meds” whose waivers are about to expire. These plans offer all the approved “prevention” you could ever want (likely excluding mammograms, prostate cancer screening, and other “unnecessary” items)—but no surgery or hospitalization. If you want to buy insurance as an individual, you may find that premiums have become impossibly expensive, if plans are available at all.
The IRS will determine whether you get your anticipated tax refund—or a demand to pay for the subsidies received by your Plan, say because you got a raise last year. To figure this out, the IRS will have to collect enormous amounts of new information, and match it up with data from Social Security, Homeland Security, and consumer reporting agencies.
All of this does not mean that the IRS will be dictating your medical care. But the IRS has shown enormous interest in medical records. When executing a search warrant to obtain financial information on a single employee of a healthcare provider, the IRS seized medical records on 10 million Americans. Its agents reportedly threatened to rip servers out of the building if the records were not turned over voluntarily.
The IRS can’t be trusted to keep donor lists confidential. How can it be trusted with sensitive medical data?
The government has another potential source of medical data. Almost half of Americans’ medical records will soon be in the hands of Epic Systems, whose founder and CEO Judy Faulkner is a top Obama donor. Faulkner is reportedly the only industry representative appointed by Obama to the panel overseeing the $19 billion medical records incentive program from which Epic Systems benefits.
Someone observed that if a rifle is mounted on the wall in the first scene of a play, it will be used by the end of the play. Even if the medical data are collected, at huge expense, for a noble purpose, the weapon is there to be used for a sinister purpose if it falls in the wrong hands.
Will the hearings result in meaningful reform? Perhaps. But remember, we have seen sensational hearings on IRS abuses before, not long ago. Relief was temporary. The IRS needs to have its powers permanently curtailed, not expanded.
[First published at the blog of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.]
The history of politics is so replete with lying, obfuscation, evasion, and cover-up that a timeless joke asks “How do you know when a politician is lying?” The answer, naturally, is: “His lips are moving.”
Today we could add “her” before “lips,” of course, and apparently extend the definition of “politician” to include anyone above a certain pay grade, especially in Washington, D.C.: the President, his press secretary, the Attorney General, higher-ups in the Internal Revenue Service, and the former Secretary of State recently turned “pantsuit aficionado” and “hair icon.”
But having done so, we notice that the problem seems most prevalent in the Executive Branch, and mostly during second term presidencies. Unfortunately, this is neither new nor limited to any one party.
In 1974, in his second term, Republican Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency under threat of impeachment in part because of his lying and attempted cover-up concerning the Watergate break-in. In his own second term, Republican Ronald Reagan discovered “bitter bile” in his throat when his claim that “we did not trade arms for hostages” began unraveling in the 1980’s. (Technically, the claim was true: the United States sold arms to Iran in partial exchange for the release of Iranian hostages.)
In his second term in the 1990’s Democrat Bill Clinton famously lied under oath in front of a judge in his deposition in the Paula Jones case and to the entire nation when he claimed on national television that he did not have “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” (Again, technically, the latter statement was true if you accept Bill Clinton’s definition of “sexual relations.”)
But “everybody lies about sex,” we were told, and “when Clinton lied, nobody died,” when Republican George W. Bush’s claim that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction turned out largely to be incorrect. Although Saddam’s regime had obviously had enough chemical weapons to gas the Kurds in 1988 and the remnants of his weapons program remained when the Bush coalition invaded Iraq, no mass stockpiles were discovered and the evidence of a nuclear weapons program was scant. (The invasion of Iraq took place in W’s first term, but the faultiness of his administration’s justification for the invasion was arguably the result of faulty intelligence, not prevarication, so maybe that’s the exception to the rule.)
Now here we are again with a second-term administration that happens to be Democratic and that appears not to be able to get its story straight, whether that story concerns Benghazi (“just an over-reaction to a YouTube video”); changing its story on Benghazi (“the single adjustment … made to those talking points by either [the White House or the State Department] … were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility,’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate”); naming a Fox news reporter a co-conspirator in a criminal investigation (“that is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of or would think would be a wise policy”); singling out conservative and “Tea party” groups for special IRS scrutiny (see Andrew Stiles, “Five IRS Scandal Myths,” National Review Online, June 10, 2013); or the NSA monitoring and storing everyone’s phone and Internet browsing records (Sen. Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” National Intelligence Director James Clapper: “No, sir.”) In every single one of these cases the administration’s story appears not only to be untrue but also to be knowingly untrue.
So what is it about the Presidency, and particularly second-terms Presidents, that leads occupants of the White House and those who report to them to abuse their power and to lie to the nation this way?
Is it that the kind of person who seeks the power of the Oval Office is dishonest to begin with and starts lying as President when he (so far) takes the Constitutionally-prescribed oath of office to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect t and defend that Constitution of the United States”? Or is it yet another manifestation of the truth of Lord Acton’s observation that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely?
If the former, then perhaps government of the people, by the people, and for the people will truly perish from this earth – if it has not already. But if the latter, then perhaps we have just discovered a good argument for limiting U. S. Presidents to a single term in office.
Joe and Milt also cover the problems with Obamacare, the global warming debate, and how big government injures public education with a broken incentive system. Joe explains Heartland’s role in promoting sound, free-market solutions at the state level.
There’s about 7,300 state legislators in the United States. We’re the only free market think tank that mails research and commentary to all 7,300 of these legislators.
Joe emphasizes several of Heartland’s specific solutions, such as lowering the cost of health care by getting rid of superfluous mandates, as well as empowering parents with school choice.
Listen in on the discussion with the player above.
A California elementary school held a sort of gun buyback program this weekend for children. The selling point was this: ‘Give us your toy guns, and we’ll give you some books, and a chance to win a new bike!’ According to a local news story, Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill thinks “playing with toy guns desensitizes children to firearms and increases the chance they’ll use the real ones when the grow up.”
To “decrease the chance of children using real guns when they grow up” is, some might say, an overly-broad, and, perhaps unwise end to pursue. The principal’s position seems to reject the reality that is our nation’s necessity for gun-users in the form of police officers, soldiers, and law-abiding citizens. Moreover, this idea doesn’t seem to fit with our legal system as it stands, given that jurisdictions universally provide, via statute, for what is known as “justifiable homicide,” reflecting our society’s view that there are some people that ought to be killed; and, in those instances, the killer ought not to be punished for his deed. So long as it is acceptable, and even desirable to kill – whether it be in war, or in defense of one’s self or home – Mr. Hill ought to rethink taking the absolute position that the next generation needs to be conditioned to despise and fear the tools by which one might take a life when it is right to do so.
Perhaps the lesson these elementary students should have been taught instead is that guns, violence and evil are realities of the world in which we live, and there will come moments in which a good-guy with a gun is the only means by which good may prevail over evil.
In a news cycle where the lack of transparency is revealed daily, it is refreshing when something previously opaque exposes its true motives. Such is the case for the Sierra Club and its desire to block oil and gas drilling.
I’ve written many times on environmental groups’ influence over use of public lands and how they often use claims of some endangered flora or fauna as cover for their efforts to block any beneficial economic development, such as mineral extraction or agricultural activity. They cry about some critter when in fact it is really about control—control of public lands. It is this very tactic that was the impetus for my “Smash the Watermelons” initiative. Everywhere I speak, I give out bumper stickers with the slogan and pens with a green barrel, but that write with red ink. Imprinted on the pen is: “Green on the outside, red on the inside. SmashTheWatermelons.org” When people ask about the bumper sticker’s meaning, I explain: “When you spend every day, as I do, on energy issues, you quickly realize that the environmental zealots are really about blocking development in America. While they appear green on the outside, they are red on the inside.”
But now, in a season of cover-ups, the Sierra Club has come clean.
This month they’ve launched a new campaign: Our Wild America—which will call for new national monument designations.
The Hill’s E2 Wire heralds the news: “Green groups to Obama: Designate public lands to stop oil and gas drilling.” No longer hiding behind the protection of a critter, the environmental groups have come out of the shadows and boldly proclaimed their intentions. The article starts with: “Environmental lobbyists are pressing President Obama to turn more western lands into national monuments to prevent oil-and-gas companies from drilling there. The Sierra Club is leading the charge…”
Apparently the gang green is frustrated with the lack of Congressional action in locking up lands and is now resorting to pressuring the president to take executive action. Bentley Johnson, legislative representative for the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands campaign, said his group prefers to work at the local level to build momentum with congressional delegations. But that has proven relatively fruitless in recent years. “The standstill on getting lands protected through the legislative route might have pushed the White House to go it alone in recent months.”
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is mandated to manage the public lands for “multiple use.” The BLM Terminology & Actions document defines it this way: “‘multiple uses’ include recreation, range/grazing, timber, minerals/oil & gas, watershed, fish & wildlife, wilderness, and natural, scenic, scientific and historical values.” But, the “century-old” Antiquities Act gives President Obama the authority to designate national monument status even if there’s no actual monument erected. A national monument designation makes the locale off limits to development. President Obama has used this “emergency” designation nine times—six times in the past year.
The Sierra Club wants it used more.
Dan Chu, the director of the Sierra Club’s Wild America campaign, explained: “Recreation, wildlife and scenic values would have much more priority in management planning if it was designated as a national monument.”
As a part of the Wild America campaign, Michael Brune, executive director for the Sierra Club, is currently on a “road trip” to “educate the public and excite Sierra Club members about getting some of these proposed areas as national monuments.”
One of Brune’s stops is Moab, Utah. Marc Thomas, a member of the executive committee of the Sierra Club’s Utah Chapter’s Glen Canyon Group, is in support of the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument—1.4 million acres near Moab—that he describes as “a whole swath of land that is not protected from impacts like mineral extraction or privatization.” Thomas exclaims: “That’s what I’m concerned about.”
Chu agrees. Addressing the campaign he says: “We, along with our partners, are concerned about imminent threats from tar sand development, oil and gas leasing and the increase in illegal trails from off-road vehicle use.”
The Wild America campaign is described as “a grassroots movement to secure permanent protection for significant landscapes and advocating for responsible wildlife and lands management”—which is spearheaded by “the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the country.” But how grassroots is the Sierra Club really? It is not the hiking and nature club that it used to be—or that the leadership wants you to think it is. The Sierra Club is now a true political organization flexing its muscle to move its agenda with nearly a hundred million dollars in annual revenues.
In its announcement about the Wild America campaign, the United Press International said the following: “The Sierra Club, a leading environmental lobbying group in Washington…” The Sierra Club endorses candidates and policies—recently voting to support comprehensive immigration reform. In an interesting post on the website Progressives for Immigration Reform, life-long Sierra Club member and environmental activist, Philip Carfaro, bemoans the club’s reversal in its position on immigration that had been held for four decades, saying the shift “looks to have been driven by short-term politics.” Carfaro posits that Brune ignored “both the grave environmental costs of immigration-driven US population growth and the organization’s own organizational history” in exchange for La Raza’s support at the big DC rally against the Keystone pipeline and calls the leadership “short-sighted, politically correct pygmies.”
Carfaro’s point rings true. Immigration reform, specifically amnesty, is a Democratic dream come true and a presidential promise. I suspect back room deals were made for the Sierra Club’s support in exchange for executive-order national monument status to prevent oil and gas drilling. In the call for Obama to “designate public lands to stop oil and gas drilling,” Chu adds a political sweetener, suggesting Obama could help Democrats win House and Senate seats in the midterm election year: “We think there’s real opportunities for them to do additional monument designations by the midterm elections and that it’s a positive political thing for the administration and for senators and congressmen.”
There’s a La Raza connection. E2 Wire reports: “Chu argues the West is becoming ‘less purple and more blue’ because of an influx of Latino and younger voters. The Sierra Club aims to marshal those voting blocs to get new national monuments in New Mexico and Colorado. Chu said Latino and young voters care more about conservation than about energy drilling, citing a poll for the Sierra Club and National Council of La Raza that said 69 percent of Latino voters support increasing the number of national monuments.”
Yet, polling done by the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) shows otherwise. Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government affairs reports: “Our polling (conducted by the Tarrance group) shows that Latinos favor increased oil and natural gas in the US by 74%. I think they, along with a majority of Americans, realize that development creates jobs and economic opportunity throughout the US.”
Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the Department of Interior (DOI), said the administration wants to see grassroots support for monument designations before acting: “DOI, as part of the Obama administration, is certainly committed to the conservation of these designations. But it’s rooted in the partnership of these local communities,” she said. So, Brune is out trying to get Sierra Club members excited about the proposed national monuments. I believe, as the WEA poll confirms, the average American understands that more drilling means more jobs, lower-priced fuels, energy security, and a balancing of the trade deficit—which is why, as Johnson said, working “with congressional delegations” to lock up lands has been “fruitless.”
Why has the Sierra Club—a 501(c)4 public charity with the same designation as the beleaguered Tea Party groups that were “blamed” for the excessive scrutiny due to political activities—suddenly gotten transparent about their politically aggressive actions? Perhaps now that Sally Jewell, former Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) CEO, is Secretary of the Interior, the Sierra Club feels emboldened. It has a friend in the Administration. REI is a Sierra Club “benefactor.”
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, doesn’t want decisions on monuments imposed by Obama. In an email, Mallory Micetich, a committee spokeswoman, told me: “Chairman Hastings firmly believes that additions to the National Park System and major land-use decisions that impact local communities and economies should be the result of careful public review and a vote by Congress. It should not be a unilateral decision imposed by the President under a century-old, outdated law.”
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), Chairman of the Western Caucus, agrees. “Monument designations, like any other laws, should come up from the people, not down by executive decree. Conservation is at its best when it is carried out by the people: through elected representatives in a transparent, public process. When designations are instead handed down through executive order, valid concerns are silenced, the minority cannot express its concerns, and both conservation and democracy suffer.”
Remember “the administration wants to see grassroots support for monument designations before acting”—which implies grassroots opposition could prevent the designations. Call the DOI (202-208-6416) and ask Jessica Kershaw to tell Secretary Jewell that you are “grassroots” and that you oppose the designation of national monuments by executive order. Public land-use decisions that block public access to recreation and other job-creating economic activities should not be made unilaterally, behind closed-doors, and without local input.
[First Published on Townhall.com]
Only big government could imagine a competitive auction is bad for competition.
The FCC and DOJ appear determined to limit competition in the upcoming FCC spectrum auction by banning Verizon and AT&T from bidding for 600 MHz TV broadcast spectrum.
Why run an auction to competitively determine who gets spectrum, if competitors that serve a majority of American consumers are banned from bidding? That’s not competition. That’s a rigged federal auction to steer a valuable taxpayer asset to government-favored companies with taxpayers unwittingly footing the bill.
Why not just be open about it and pre-determine the auction winners? Why the charade?
This public charade is necessary in order to construct a publicly defensible rationale that makes it appear like the Government is not picking winners and losers, when they know that they are.
Tellingly, Sprint and T-Mobile have been heavily lobbying the FCC and DOJ for special assistance in this auction and apparently the FCC and the DOJ are sympathetic.
Importantly, Sprint and T-Mobile don’t need to be subsidized by the U.S. government. Sprint, a Fortune 100 company, currently has dueling billionaires fighting over who can provide Sprint the most capital, and T-Mobile is a subsidiary of Deutsch Telecom, which is part-owned by the German government.
Moreover, Sprint’s customer base is equivalent to the populations of California and New York combined, while T-Mobile’s is the equivalent to the populations of Texas and Florida combined. They enjoy a combined $55b in annual revenues.
This charade is corporate welfare masquerading as promoting consumer welfare.
There is a reason why the FCC and the DOJ are constructing this elaborate ruse to arbitrarily sub-divide the spectrum market between spectrum holdings below 1 GHz (low band) and spectrum holdings above 1 GHz (high band). The reason for the ruse is that one of the company’s that the government wants to favor, Sprint-Clearwire, controls by far the most quantity of spectrum of any U.S. wireless provider.
The FCC and DOJ do not want to look ridiculous applying a spectrum cap to Verizon and AT&T and not Sprint when the FCC’s own Wireless Competition report shows that Sprint controls roughly twice as many MHz per population as either Verizon or AT&T.
So presto, they appear poised to change the rules of the spectrum game, mid-game, to re-classify spectrum below 1 GHZ as different for regulatory purposes than spectrum above 1 GHz. And they need to do so in a way that it does not look obvious that they are gerrymandering spectrum rules to unfairly exclude just Verizon and AT&T from the upcoming auction.
Unfortunately for the government, this ruse is so patently unfair and contrived, that no one should be surprised if Verizon or AT&T challenged such rules in court for being arbitrary and capricious.
Consider the evidence that the government’s apparent plan would be arbitrary and capricious.
First, according to FCC figures, roughly half of Verizon and AT&T’s spectrum holdings are each above 1 GHZ. Does that make them low band or high band competitors?
Second, Federal Government spectrum hoarding is the primary reason why spectrum is scarce and not keeping pace with exploding consumer demand. In this context of artificial scarcity, why is natural market demand for spectrum by Verizon and AT&T presumed to be driven by anti-competitive motives rather than pro-competitive motives?
The burden of proof here should be on the government to justify the need for preemptive asset-acquisition bans, the most severe form of regulation possible. It should not be on Verizon or AT&T to prove they are innocent and actively competing with each other, in addition to competing with Sprint and T-Mobile.
The FCC and DOJ seem to be stuck in a time warp imagining they are still facing the AT&T long distance monopoly of thirty years ago or the Baby Bell monopoly voice services of over ten years ago. Times and facts have changed dramatically since then.
Today’s factual predicate is that the long distance business no longer exists; it’s largely a free feature of other services. And the reality is that the legacy Bells have lost two-thirds of their local voice customers to cable, wireless, VoIP, and other competitors.
Third, the FCC/DOJ’s patently unfair logic here essentially blames Verizon and AT&T, for the fact that Sprint and T-Mobile voluntarily did not bid in the 2008 700 MHz auction, that Verizon and AT&T did bid in, making it the highest-revenue-generating auction in FCC history.
Now they perversely seek to punish Verizon and AT&T by preemptively banning them from the 600 MHz auction to make up for Sprint and T-Mobile’s 2008 market misjudgments. No good deed goes unpunished.
Fourth, hertz, or frequency cycles-per-second, are simply a measurement unit, like distance is with inches, feet, and yards. What the FCC and DOJ are apparently scheming to do here is the equivalent of taking a tape measure and declaring that everything measured under one foot is a distinct market and everything measured more than a foot long is another separate market.
The government knows it can’t empirically justify why it drew the line at spectrum below or above 1 GHz.
Lastly, the FCC and DOJ are not only picking market winners and losers, and choosing one wireless technology over another, they are also trying to decide what features consumers should value more, rather than letting consumers decide in the competitive marketplace.
The whole premise behind the FCC/DOJ’s preemptive scheme here is that it presumes to know that signal power of low-band spectrum is what consumers most want rather than unlimited use and faster broadband speeds that high-band spectrum offers. Ironically, this selective view contradicts the FCC’s general high-priority of pushing faster broadband speeds to all Americans and its preference for unlimited data usage.
The technical facts that the FCC and DOJ are conveniently ignoring — because they disprove their low-band premise — is that the MHz sizes of low-band licenses are smaller than those in high-band licenses. This is an important and relevant fact because of the physics of spectrum limit the potential broadband speed available to a consumer to the amount of MHz in a license.
For example, Sprint-Clearwire’s 130 MHz of contiguous 2.5 MHz licenses offer the potential for dramatically faster wireless broadband speeds for a consumer than Verizon or AT&T could offer with their smaller-MHz, low-band licenses.
In short, the FCC and DOJ apparently do not trust the inherent competition of a public spectrum auction to best serve consumers.
In addition, apparently, the FCC/DOJ want to steer the outcome of the 600 MHz auction to benefit the largest spectrum holder, Sprint-Clearwire, and T-Mobile, by preemptively banning Verizon and AT&T, the competitors with the most customers and thus the most demand for more spectrum, from bidding.
The ultimate irony here is that the FCC calls the 600 MHz auction “the incentive auction,” when it is more focused on erecting disincentives rather than incentives for a successful auction to adequately fund the much-needed public safety network and reduce the budget deficit.
[First Published by The Daily Caller]
My essay at RealClearPolitics yesterday sparked several responses. But 2,000 words is insufficient when it comes to outlining a dynamic shift in the political construct, and there will be more to come on this topic, but I wanted to take a critical eye to my own proposal and identifying the internal tensions which could prevent it from taking hold. Here are three challenges I think libertarian populism is grappling with, and will face before the next presidential election and perhaps during it.
First, on Foreign Policy: There is a natural tension between the true libertarians and the populists on foreign policy, moreso than national security. Both are concerned about civil liberties and government spying programs and reject the Bush global freedom agenda as overly interventionist (there is no appetite for such things within the base outside of the foreign policy establishment in DC, and the offices of McCain, Graham, Ayotte, and Bill Kristol). But there is a natural Jacksonian lean to the populists, and always has been – Don’t Tread On Me is more than a slogan to them. They have fewer qualms about Gitmo, waterboarding, and wet work generally. Their concern about drones is mostly limited to whether the president is killing Americans, not the degree to which he is killing terrorists. Both strands are non-interventionist, but one is concerned about Bradley Manning, and the other is curious why he is still alive. While Paul, Lee, and others in Congress have made their foreign policy leanings known, one question which remains to be seen is how the libertarian populists who haven’t spoken much about foreign policy – Jindal, Walker, perhaps Cuccinelli – engage on this subject matter, and the reactions they inspire.
Second, on Immigration: Here the populists and the libertarians are often diametrically opposed, particularly on aspects such as E-Verify. The libertarian priority is meeting market needs: people should be able to hire whoever they want, for whatever purpose they want, at whatever price they agree upon. The populist priority is security and balancing against a workforce which undercuts their jobs. A proposal which sought to meet both their demands would predicate any reforms to the immigration system on completing a fence along the border, whether such a step would work or not. There is some common ground: keep in mind that libertarian populists do not trust government at all, so investing the bureaucracy with more authority to determine immigration levels and access – as the current proposal does – is anathema to both sides. Perhaps ironically, the failed Bush immigration proposal is closer to meeting the demands of this movement than they might know.
Third, on Culture Clash: This is the most significant problem and the likeliest one to derail this organic movement before it takes hold. The anti-government populists of the Tea Party are largely pro-life and pro-family, regular churchgoers with a healthy respect for faith and traditional marriage (even if they do not prioritize this issue above others). Their close-knit communities of home schoolers and co-op moms are intelligent and engaged, but they are also devout. This causes problems for the more atheist and agnostic strands of libertarianism, particularly the urban variety. Consider prominent libertarians like Cato’s Dave Boaz, who sneered openly at the rise of the Tea Party and recoiled at the number of Christians within it. Libertarian exclusivity here could prove a difficult barrier for this movement to overcome if their leaders do not see the common ground they have with the populists – a fact which smart libertarians increasingly recognize.
And then there is the issue of terminology. I’d like to quote from a reaction to this by one of the key figures writing along these lines, Robert Tracinski (if you view Thomas Sowell as the id of libertarian populism, Tracinski is the superego). “I agree that asking, “So what is your plan to run this giant, bloated big government apparatus?” misses the point. It reminds me of an odd challenge from Michael Lind at Salon, who argues that libertarianism is not a credible political philosophy because we can’t name any countries that have adopted it. It is a challenge that is not quite honest (Lind rejects on ad hoc grounds a number of examples of countries with much smaller governments) and also astonishingly ignorant of history.
The libertarian utopia, or the closest we’ve come to it, is America itself, up to about 100 years ago. It was a country with no income tax and no central bank. (It was on the gold standard, for crying out loud. You can’t get more libertarian than that.) It had few economic regulations and was still in the Lochner era, when such regulations were routinely struck down by the Supreme Court. There was no federal welfare state, no Social Security, no Medicare.”
“You can criticize this system, but America lived under it for longer than it has lived under the modern regulatory and welfare state, so you can’t say it’s not “credible.” And while life was nowhere near as good as it is for Americans today—after another century of progress—the country had just finished one of the greatest periods of growth and economic progress in all of human history. Life for the common man was better than it had ever been before. All of which means—to get back to Douthat and Domenech—that there are deep roots in American history for this “libertarian populist” agenda.” Indeed, one of my arguments in defense of Alexander Hamilton is that his perspective on the role of government was one far more limited than he is given credit for today – we essentially lived under his approach for a century and a half.
But Tracinski is uncomfortable with the term populist, “because it suggests that you’re supposed to play to some kind of class-warfare resentment of “elites.” By encouraging the common man’s resentment of the rich, you risk getting back to the same mindset as Douthat, who insists that you have to base your reforms on “distributional issues,” which is a euphemism for advocating redistribution of wealth, but in a “conservative” form.” I think here Tracinski is considering populism’s historical definition as opposed to its modern one. Sean Trende has argued that Republicans are victorious consistently when they embrace populism, and this is not an indication that they were engaging in class warfare along the lines of income. The elections of 1994 and 2010 were obvious expressions of conservative populism: a point where the right’s coalition presented ideas that speak to the concerns of engaged people.
Much as I love free markets, a mere defense of “free markets” is a campaign that is destined to fail, a representation of an abstract idea which fails to evoke any sort of visceral reaction from any group other than the already-convinced. In a marketing battle between “free markets” and “fairness,” fairness is going to win, because it requires no argument to make sense. And this is what populism really is about today: an expression that the game is rigged, the deck is stacked, the Bigs have their thumbs on the scale – and that the only way to make the game fair is to end the institutions which rig it. Tim Carney writes eloquently about this today.
Populism may be a term which insufficiently distinguishes this approach from the rest of the right’s “trust the aristocracy” agenda, but it is one the base understands as distinct from its historical representation. Consider this the natural evolution from Huey Long’s “every man a king” to Calvin Coolidge’s “Democracy is not a tearing down; it is a building up. It does not denial of the divine right of kings; it asserts the divine right of all men.”
Where once the thread of American populism was about the redistribution of other people’s money, now it is about ending the government’s unfair redistribution of opportunity. This is a task which should unite the city mice and country mice, and with the right leadership, it will.
[First posted at Real Clear Politics]
In an effort to improve its economic competitiveness and improve its attractiveness to new businesses, Ohio legislators are currently considering major reforms to its unique municipal income tax system. House Bill 5 was introduced by state Reps. Cheryl Grossman and Michael Henne to streamline Ohio’s municipal income tax system, which is currently a jumble of local rules and forms.
Ohio is just one of a handful of states that allow local governments to levy income taxes, but is the only state that allows each municipality to draft its own set of rules and regulations about who must pay taxes, how much tax they will pay and on what type of income the tax will be charged. In most other states that allow municipalities to charge an income tax, only larger cities have imposed a tax. According to the Buckeye Institute, Ohio currently has 593 municipalities levying a local income tax, only Pennsylvania has more.
Critics of the current system have argued that the complicated system places an undue burden on Ohio businesses while creating an unnecessary barrier to new business. In many instances, companies working in several cities were required to pay income taxes to multiple taxing authorities and file multiple tax returns, each with different rules, regulations and rates.
HB 5 attempts to simplify and streamline the various municipal taxing systems by creating a new uniform set of rules on municipalities that tax income while implementing a new standardized definition of what income is taxable for businesses and individuals. The reforms would also create a new uniform procedure for how employers file employee withholding payments and provide taxpayer with one standard municipal income tax form.
Other key changes include an extension of the occasional entry rule, which requires companies to withhold taxes for employees not working the principle location of the business from the current 12 days to 20 days and the set definition of a “day,” workers will be required to pay taxes in the city where they spend “preponderance of the work day.” While many of these changes seem commonsense, many businesses in Ohio accrued significant time and monetary costs keeping up with the current system and its complexities.
In an editorial, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel argues that Ohio’s current municipal tax system creates a complicated web of municipal tax codes that dramatically increases cost of filing income tax returns for Ohio businesses.
“Ohio is the only state in which every city and village sets its own rules and regulations about who must pay taxes, how much and on what type of income. More than 600 local government entities have devised more than 300 different tax forms. As a result, our municipal-tax reality is an unnecessary maze of inconsistency, uncertainty and inefficiency.”
In an article criticizing the current municipal tax system the The Buckeye Institute found that in some instances, the cost of complying with the labyrinth of paperwork exceeded the actual taxes collected. Amy Mignogna, director of tax policy for the Ohio Society of CPAs speaking on behalf of the Municipal Tax Reform Coalition agreed, commenting in a press statement that for many companies this was an unwelcome part of doing business in Ohio.
“House Bill 5 gives Ohio the long overdue opportunity to simplify its municipal tax structure.
Our current system is so complex, it often costs Ohio businesses more to comply than what they owe in taxes. This is the wrong way to do business. A simpler, more uniform set of rules and regulations will reduce paperwork, encourage better compliance with the law, and allow businesses to invest resources into growing and creating more jobs.”
While critics of the reforms under HB 5 are concerned that the new system would shortchange communities that rely on income tax revenue, the bill does not take away the ability of local governments to change their tax rates. While the ideal reform would be to eliminate income taxes altogether, these reforms take a significant step towards simplifying Ohio’s tax system and making the state more economically competitive.
The logic of the title of this post becomes clear when one reads the political timeline by the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel that connects IRS harassment of Tea Party groups to the very specific rhetoric of President Obama and his Democratic Party allies.
Perhaps the only useful part of the inspector general’s audit of the IRS was its timeline. We know that it was August 2010 when the IRS issued its first “Be On the Lookout” list, flagging applications containing key conservative words and issues. The criteria would expand in the months to come.
What else was happening in the summer and fall of 2010? The Obama administration and its allies continue to suggest the IRS was working in some political vacuum. What they’d rather everyone forget is that the IRS’s first BOLO list coincided with their own attack against “shadowy” or “front” conservative groups that they claimed were rigging the electoral system.
Strassel’s breakdown of the coordination of communications among leftist journalists, the Democrats, and the president is damning. Definitely read the whole thing. Her piece is a stark reminder of this extraordinary and chilling fact: In the summer of 2010, President Obama personally engaged in a campaign to lie about and demonize private citizens who were exercising their constitutionally protected right to form associations to communicate their displeasure with the state of American governance.
Clearly, judging from his rhetoric and ill temperament, Obama took that opposition as a personal affront — so he spent the summer of 2010 publicly channeling his old community organizing mojo by going to the playbook of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” specifically:
- Rule 8 (“Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”)
- Rule 10 (“The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”), and especially
- Rule 13 (“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”)
Did he ever, and Obama certainly thought going Full Alinsky was justified.
It seems so long ago now, but fewer than three years ago Barack Obama was still smarting from the loss of his veto-proof Democratic majority in Congress via the special election in January 2010 of Republican Scott Brown for Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat. Just a few months before, in late 2009, Obama had used his super majority to shove Obamacare down the throat of an unwilling public — and he was determined to not have his power reduced one iota more in the 2010 midterms.
He failed. History records that the Tea Party Revolution came about in November 2010. But the vitriolic rhetoric our president employed to try to stop that history — his personal attacks on his fellow citizens — is still breathtaking.
On August 9, 2010, Obama said this at a campaign rally in Texas:
Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads . . . And they don’t have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.
I remember talking to folks at AFP at the time and they laughed it off. They considered it a high compliment to be called out by name by Barack Obama. Who could blame them? It was PR gold! AFP attracted tons more grassroots supporters thanks to that angry hat-tip from the sitting president.
But the fact that AFP was founded and is chiefly funded by the eeeeevvvvvilllll Koch Brothers is the most over-reported story in politics. For Obama, however, it was not good enough to simply highlight AFP’s link to the Koch Brothers. Obama on August 9, 2010 suggested AFP’s funding might have come from “a foreign-controlled corporation.”
This is a lie. Obama knew it was a lie, but continued to say it — even in his weekly radio address, which leveraged the prestige of the Oval Office for the low purpose of brass-knuckled, Chicago-style politics. Obama spoke of:
attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads and we don’t know who’s paying for them. . . . You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. . . . The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.
Something to hide, eh? “Harmless-sounding names,” you say? What about Obama’s Organizing for America, or the lefty trolls at Media Matters? Those “shadowy groups” have the same tax status and anonymous-donor allowances as AFP — and that is by design so those supporters may be protected as a matter of law from Alinsky-type retaliation from political enemies … such as, say, the President of the United States.
Here’s more reporting from Strassel on Obama’s attacks and bald-faced lies:
Sept. 16: Mr. Obama, in Connecticut, repeats that a “foreign-controlled entity” might be funding “millions of dollars of attack ads.” Four days later, in Philadelphia, he again says the problem is that “nobody knows” who is behind conservative groups. …
Sept. 22: In New York City, Mr. Obama warns that conservative groups “pose as non-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups,” even though they are “guided by seasoned Republican political operatives” who might be funded by a “foreign-controlled corporation.” … [Editor's note: Organizing for America is staffed and "guided" by former Obama political operatives.]
Sept. 28: The president, in Wisconsin, again warns about conservative organizations “posing as nonprofit groups.” Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, writes to the IRS demanding it investigate nonprofits. The letter names conservative organizations.
On Oct. 14, Mr. Obama calls these groups “a problem for democracy.” On Oct. 22, he slams those who “hide behind these front groups.” On Oct. 25, he upgrades them to a “threat to our democracy.” On Oct. 26, he decries groups engaged in “unsupervised spending.”
As Strassel wrote several weeks ago, MSM reporters seeking to connect the Obama White House to the IRS scandal appear to be willfully blind. The dots were already connected. The picture — the narrative — of this story has been out in the open the whole time.
So let us now clearly see the strategic and coordinated language of 2010 and beyond from our president, Barack Obama — the Lightworker, the higher spiritual being, the man Newsweek’s Evan Thomas said stands above us as a “Sort of God.” Let’s also remember that Obama the presidential candidate promised in 2008 to raise our politics to a new, higher, more enlightened level. Back then he asked voters this question:
Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?
That man — an inspiration to countless millions who would soon become the most powerful man in the world — repeatedly said just two years later that all those who organized to oppose his policies are “a problem for democracy” when his agenda was at risk. Check that, Obama said they are a “threat to our democracy”.
Yet we are now supposed to believe it is merely a coincidence that the IRS — the most intimidating agency in the federal government led by dedicated Democrats — harassed and stifled the very same groups the President of the United States called out as his “enemies” with a level of persistent and specific calumny unprecedented in our politics.
No. The IRS was merely burning the straw men Obama and his allies constructed with careful and planned coordination — with an alarming reflexive vigor.
Let’s stop insulting everyone’s intelligence. Let’s stop wondering if the IRS scandal will eventually “go to the top.” The IRS scandal started at the top.
This year North Carolina joined the growing number of states considering major changes to its tax system. Several major tax reform bills are now being considered. Three of these bills focus on lowering personal and corporate income taxes while expanding the state sales tax rate, each taking different approaches.
Senate Bill 394 creates a 5.95 percent flat tax on corporate and personal income while setting the sales tax rate at 6.5 percent. SB 394 would expand the sales tax rate to several new products that are currently untaxed.
House Bill 998, the “Tax Simplification and Reduction Act” takes a similar approach, creating a flat 5.9 percent tax on all income but coupling these cuts with a gradual decrease in the states corporate income tax to 5.4 percent. HB 998 would also implement an expanded and increased state and local sales tax rate. The North Carolina House of Representatives passed the HB 998 on its second reading on July 7 by a 72-32 vote. The next vote on the bill will be on July 10.
The last bill receiving serious attention is House Bill 677, the North Carolina Tax Fairness Act. Introduced in May by Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, the Tax Fairness Act would lower the personal income tax rate to a flat 4.5 percent, down from a top bracket rate of 7.75 percent. Corporate tax rates would be reduced from 6.9 percent to 6 percent while adjusting how the corporate tax is calculated.
Designed to cover the revenue lost through the income tax reductions, the second component of HB 677 is an expansion in the state’s sales tax system. The plan would apply a 6.5 percent combined state and local sales tax to several products that are not currently covered, while increasing the current sales tax on groceries, which is currently a 2 percent local tax, up to the combined sales tax of 6.5 percent.
The Tax Fairness Act would also reduce the franchise business tax and eliminate the states’ estate tax. A franchise tax is levied on businesses and partnerships chartered within a state and, like all corporate taxes, are in reality really paid by customers (through increased product and service prices), employees (through lower wages), and others. Reducing the franchise tax and eliminating the estate tax will improve North Carolina’s competitiveness by removing a double taxation of businesses and individuals.
Eliminating the estate tax would create jobs and promote savings and investment while not penalizing individuals who saved for the next generation. Estate taxes, a form of double taxation, stifle investment and entrepreneurship, reduces economic growth, discourages savings, increases the cost of capital, raises interest rates and while raising relatively little revenue.
Lowering personal and corporate income taxes could dramatically improve North Carolina’s economy and generate new jobs. According to a study published by the North Carolina-based John W. Pope Civitas Institute, tax reforms similar to the current proposals could have gained North Carolina an estimated 217,000 to 378,000 jobs over the past decade.
High income and business taxes deter economic development by discouraging higher-income-earners and new capital from moving into a state, remaining there, or investing their money. This tax reform plan would improve North Carolina’s economic competitiveness by leaving more money in the pockets of the state’s citizens and businesses to spend, save, and invest.
In a recent AP interview, Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to increase the state’s renewable energy mandate, a 2008 law that requires utilities to get at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
A ballot initiative last year would have raised that standard to 25 percent by 2025, but was defeated. The Governor campaigned against the proposal at that time, but now says he would like the Legislature to increase the standard.
We will have reached our 10 percent goal for renewable energy, and will have well-established efficiency programs, so we will be in a good position to set higher goals in both these areas. We will need solid information about the effects of our policies and the energy marketplace to make good decisions. This coming year, I will invite the Legislature and Michigan citizens to tell me what information we will need to fairly evaluate our energy policies, and we will embark on an effort to collect and analyze those facts.
But meeting the 10 percent goal doesn’t automatically position the state to set higher goals, as the Governor implies.
When a state constructs its first renewable energy facilities as a result of laws such as the renewable energy mandate, the areas of the state with the highest wind-potential or the highest-solar potential are always taken up first. An expansion of those policies means putting up new facilities in less productive areas, resulting in diminishing marginal returns, and higher costs as larger investments in transmission and distribution as required.
It’s not as if Michigan is an energy-poor state. It actually has the largest reserve of natural gas in the Great Lakes region. Natural gas, according to The Economist, “seems to be doing as much to reduce pollution as many of the efforts introduced over the years to restrict emissions from vehicles, power stations and other sources.” In fact, if you account for externalities in the price of electricity generation, natural gas is the cheapest source. And it’s extraction through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies has had a net positive effect on employment, whereas jobs created from the renewable energy mandate provides a net loss. Given these facts, I think a robust discussion on phasing out the renewable portfolio standard is far more warranted than increasing it.
Climatism, the belief that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate, is on the wane. Once riding high, the ideology of man-made climate change is losing its influence in governments across the world. Climategate, the release of e-mails from the University of East Anglia, called the science of dangerous warming into question and turned the tide of global opinion.
On November 19, 2009, and unidentified hacker or internal whistle-blower downloaded more than 1,000 documents and e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University in the United Kingdom and posted them on a server in Russia. Within hours, these documents were accessed by websites around the world.
These e-mails were a subset of confidential communications between top climate scientists in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other nations over the last fifteen years. These were the very same scientists that developed the surface temperature data sets, promoted the Mann Hockey Stick Curve, and wrote and edited the core of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports.
The incident was branded “Climategate” by British columnist James Delingpole, a label soon adopted by the world. These e-mails provide an insight into practices by researchers that are poor science at best and fraudulent at worst. Bias, manipulation of data, avoidance of freedom of information requests, and efforts to subvert the peer-review process are apparent, all to further the “cause” of man-made global warming. The e-mails were released on the eve of the 2009 United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
Just two years earlier, Climatism had swept almost all in its path. The IPCC 2007 Fourth Assessment Report declared that mankind was very likely the cause of global temperature increase. That same year, former Vice President Al Gore and the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
In December of 2007, The RENIXX index of the world’s largest renewable energy companies soared to over 1,900. Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in 2008, heralding the rebirth of a more environmentally conscious nation. After securing the majority of primary delegates in June, 2008, candidate Obama declared, “…this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…”
The year 2009 was set to be a year of triumph for Climatism. The US House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in June and sent it to the US Senate. The Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009 was to be the major next step to control global emissions. But the release of the Climategate e-mails just one week prior to the start of the conference shook the science of man-made warming.
Climatism’s Downward Spiral
Today, the man-made global warming movement is headed for a crash. United Nations climate conferences at Cancun (2010), Durban (2011), and Doha (2012) failed to produce an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol climate treaty expired at the end of 2012 without a successor agreement. The Waxman-Markey bill was ignored by the US Senate and climate legislation is now a non-starter in the US Congress.
Contrary to climate model predictions, global temperatures have failed to increase for the last fifteen years, confounding the sirens for dangerous climate change. In January of this year, the UK Met Office revised their global temperature forecast downward for the next decade. The early release of a chart from the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC showed that temperatures are running far below IPCC projections. Scientists and leading publications, such as The Economist, now question whether the climate models are too sensitive to greenhouse gas levels.
Renewable energy subsidies have been cut in Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the US. Governments across the world are rethinking their commitment to green energy. The RENIXX index has fallen to 250, down almost 90 percent from the 2007 peak. In April, the European Parliament rejected an effort to prop up the Emissions Trading System. The price of a carbon allowances dropped to under €3 per tonne, down from €20 per tonne in 2011. Climatism has become shaky business.
The Climategate e-mail release has played an important role in shifting global opinions about the theory of man-made warming. Below are some of the most important quotes from Climategate emails. More quotes on climate change, energy, and the environment can be found here.
Emails: On the Theory of Man-Made Warming
“I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is no quite so simple.”
—Dr. Keith Briffa, Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Sep. 22, 1999
“Keith’s [Briffa] series…differs in large part in exactly the opposite direction that Phil’s [Jones] does from ours. This is the problem we all picked up on (everyone in the room at IPCC was in agreement that this was a problem and a potential distraction/detraction from the reasonably consensus viewpoint we’d like to show w/ the Jones et al and Mann et al series).”
—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Sep. 22, 1999
“…it would be nice to try to ‘contain’ the putative ‘MWP’ [Medieval Warm Period]…”
—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, June 4, 2003
“By the way, when is Tom C [Crowley] going to formally publish his roughly 1500 year reconstruction??? It would help the cause to be able to refer to that reconstruction as confirming Mann and Jones, etc.”
—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Aug. 3, 2004
“I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but it’s not helping the cause, or her professional credibility.”
—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 30, 2008
“Well, I have my own article on where the heck is global warming…The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
—Dr. Kevin Trenberth, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Oct. 12, 2009
Emails: Manipulating Temperature Data
“I’ve just completed Mike’s [Mann] Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s [Briffa] to hide the decline.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Nov. 16, 1999
“Also we have applied a completely artificial adjustment to the data after 1960, so they look closer to observed temperatures than the tree-ring data actually were…”
—Dr. Tim Osborn, Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Dec. 20, 2006
“…If you look at the attached plot you will see that the land also shows the 1940s warming blip (as I’m sure you know). So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say 0.15 deg C, then this would be significant for the global mean—but we’d still have to explain the land blip…”
—Dr. Tom Wigley, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, on adjusting global temperature data, disclosed Climategate e-mail to Phil Jones, Sep. 28, 2008
“We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data.”
—Climatic Research Unit web site, the world’s leading provider of global temperature data, admitting that it can’t produce the original thermometer data, 2011
Emails: Data Suppression and Freedom of Information (FOI) Avoidance
“…We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try to find something wrong with it…”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, e-mail to Warwick Hughes, 2004
“I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Feb. 21, 2005
“Mike [Mann], can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith [Trenberth] re AR4? Keith will do likewise…Can you also e-mail Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his e-mail address…We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 29, 2008
“You might want to check with the IPCC Bureau. I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 [the upcoming IPCC Fifth Assessment Report] would be to delete all e-mails at the end of the process. Hard to do, as not everybody will remember it.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, on avoiding Freedom of Information requirements, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 12, 2009
Emails: Subverting the Peer-Review Literature Process
“…I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow, even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
—Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, July 8, 2004
[Originally published in Master Resource.]
Heartland Institute Senior Fellow for Environment Policy James M. Taylor was a guest on the nationally syndicated Lars Larson Radio Show the other day.
Lars and James talked about the latest developments on the Keystone XL pipeline — specifically whether Congress and the mainstream media can pressure Obama to finally approve it. James is not hopeful, saying of the administration’s outlook in general:
They want to see this country being a nation that does not have affordable energy, that is getting away from carbon-based energy sources regardless of whether there is environmental impact or not.
Lars notes that the Obama administration hasn’t prosecuted a single wind-farm owner for the hundreds of thousands of bird deaths, and James offers some excellent perspective on that fact.
Have a listen in the player above of the five-minute segment.
After last week’s announcement that Apple would hire former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to handle environmental issues, a series of videos released last week by Duke University were amusingly timed.
The six clips featured interviews with CEO Tim Cook, who succeeded the late, popular Steve Jobs, and were released by his alma mater’s Fuqua School of Business, where he earned his MBA. Cook had returned for a class reunion in April and while there Duke recorded discussions about topics such as inspiration, career planning, intuition, and other aspects of business management.
But comments he made in excerpts about ethical leadership and collaboration, in light of Jackson’s new employment, were guffaw-worthy. As NLPC outlined on Monday, Jackson fled EPA after undergoing harsh scrutiny about the agency’s – and her personal – practices of evading transparency. Under that cloak she conducted a highly political and destructive implementation of President Obama’s policies to fight the coal industry, jack up automobile fuel mileage standards, and generally set onerous rules on industries without accountability to Congress or the public.
That behavior and leadership was lost on Cook, who told his Duke U. audience about the qualities he sought in effective collaborators, which are obviously critical to Apple’s heretofore (in recent years) well-run technology business that incorporates both hardware and software products, as well as computing services such as data storage and iTunes.
“You look for people that are not political, people that are not bureaucrats…,” he said. If that’s true than Cook is completely blind to, or has ignored, the essence of Lisa Jackson.
Cook also espoused the need for intellect in an effective, technology-focused collaborative environment. Jackson, while a chemical engineer, nevertheless showed utter disdain for science and economics while leading EPA. On her watch she disregarded the evidence of several years that have shown no significant warming of the planet, and rejected the concept that cost-benefit analyses ought to be considered rather than implementing boundless government regulations that can kill businesses. That track record seemed to matter little to Cook.
“You need wicked smart people,” he said at the Duke reunion. “You look for people who appreciate different points of view.”
“I think what this place (Fuqua) teaches you so well is how to learn, and how to collaborate…,” Cook said in another interview segment, “and how to work with people that have a very different point of view and come from a different perspective than you do.”
Jackson consistently demonstrated while at EPA that she had no interest in, or respect for, those with perspectives other than her own. Rather than consider the concerns of millions of citizens about the impacts of her rulemaking, and the idea that her scientific views were based upon flawed computer model predictions rather than observed environmental phenomena, she remained housed in insularity as she conducted wars against fossil fuels. Instead of incorporating the wisdom of private business leaders who could help (“collaborate”) on the formation of regulations, Jackson preferred to operate with kindred souls while trampling on government transparency behind obscured email correspondence and redacted documents. Cook has overlooked that legacy.
In a subsequent segment interviewer William Boulding, dean of the Fuqua School, stroked Cook’s ego by crediting him with a “very strong ethical compass,” and asked him what such leadership means to him.
“When I think of ethics, I think of leaving things better than you found them,” he replied. “And to me that goes from everything from environmentally, to how you work with suppliers, with labor questions, to your carbon footprint of your products, to the things you choose to support, to the way you treat your employees. Your whole persona, to me, fits under that umbrella.
“And the simple way to think about it, to me, is leaving things better than you found them. And that is what we try to do at Apple in a very simple way.”
The irony of hiring Jackson was lost on Cook there as well. Had she been running the company the last few years instead of Jobs or Cook, she would have at least frowned upon – and probably would have prevented – Apple from building its enormous computer server farm in Western North Carolina. Because of her lousy collaborative skills and dictatorial bent; her political submission to environmental pressure groups; and her ignorance about the economics and science about energy, Apple’s plan to use vast amounts of electricity generated by Duke Energy’s affordable coal, natural gas and nuclear resources would have been quashed by a Jackson CEO. Not even hundreds of acres of solar panels and many megawatts of fuel cell generation would likely have mitigated Jackson’s distaste for an Apple/Duke power deal.
In his Fuqua School interview Cook also espoused his three-fold focus for managing Apple: people, strategy and execution.
“In our case, we’re all about products,” Cook told his Duke U. audience. “So our strategy is very product-oriented.”
How hiring Jackson fits in with, or falls under, any of those categories as it improves Apple’s products and services is a mystery. On its own the company already plays the environmental consciousness game to pacify its green-minded customers about as well as it can. Jackson adds nothing on that count, and adds nothing everywhere else too. She disrespects people, as reflected by her underling regional administrators like Al Armendariz who advocated “crucifying” oil and natural gas companies as a regulator before he left to help destroy coal for an environmental group. Her strategy is dictatorial rather than collaborative, and the only execution she believes in is for fossil fuel industries.
Cook’s decision to hire Jackson most likely comes from somewhere else. In his Duke interview he recalled his decision in the late 1990s to leave stable Compaq for then-struggling Apple, which had been declared on life-support by many industry experts, after Jobs returned to the company from exile. Cook explained how financial considerations and personal advisors favored remaining at Compaq, as did his own plusses-minuses list, yet he ignored all the evidentiary factors and followed his gut feelings to Apple.
“How could you even think of doing this?” Cook recalled his friends telling him about his decision to join Apple. “You’ve lost your mind.
“And yet,” Cook continued, “that voice said, ‘Go west, young man, go west.’ And sometimes you just have to go for it.”
That could be his only explanation for hiring Lisa Jackson, because all other considerations pointed the other way.
[First posted at National Legal and Policy Center]