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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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No 1930s Regulations for the Internet – Let’s Modernize Instead

January 28, 2014, 1:03 PM

The D.C. Circuit Court recently threw out the Barack Obama Administration’s huge 2010 Internet power grab – the all-encompassing uber-regulation known as Network Neutrality.

The Left has since been giving birth to herds of live bovines.

The Internet is Dead !!!! Government Kills Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Is Dead

Three judges in D.C. just killed Net Neutrality.  This could be the end of the Internet as we know it.

More than a little overwrought.  The ruling is now almost two weeks old – and the Internet is only better, stronger, faster.  Which is utterly unsurprising.  It’s been dazzling us for nearly thirty years without government-imposed Net Neutrality – we were only hobbled with it for three.

The first commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) emerged in the late 1980s.  Congress in 1996 last addressed Tech law with the Telecommunications Act - in which they said the Internet was so new and nascent, they would leave it alone.

Net Neutrality was created out of whole cloth in 2003 - when the private Web was already at least fifteen years old.  And had been all along growing exponentially.

And it continued throughout the 2000s to be an ever-expanding free speech-free market Xanadu – all without government-imposed Net Neutrality.

Did that stop the Left from all along the way freaking out?  Of course not.

Network Neutrality – Broadband Discrimination (2003)

Communications regulators over the next decade will spend increasing time on conflicts between the private interests of broadband providers and the publics interest in a competitive innovation environment centered on the Internet.

Google’s Comments on “Broadband Extortion” (2006) 

If comments like that don’t tell you why principles of net neutrality must be codified, then I don’t know what will. 

Net Neutrality: We’re Still Waiting (2010) 

“Its time for the FCC chairman to stop dithering….(T)he FCC must enact Net Neutrality rules that safeguard the open Internet for all users, no matter how they get online.”

Post-removal of government-imposed-Net-Neutrality, we will get even more of the same Internet extraordinariness we got pre-government-imposed-Net-Neutrality – the Left’s histrionics notwithstanding.

Only now they want the government to overreach further still

The Progressive response?  Go back in time to 1934 (and even before) – and impose landline telephone (Common Carrier) regulations on the Web.  The government regulates the daylights out of landlines – so Progressives want the government to jam the Web in there too.  Which would allegedly allow them to reimpose Net Neutrality – and tax the Net, and…. This move is called Reclassification.

The Left’s justifications for this are at best uber-flimsy.

ISPs still piggyback to a great extent on a government-built core infrastructure - thus the Common Carrier telephone regs should apply to the Internet.

A common carrier was when “Ma” Bell was a government-imposed landline phone monopoly, and everyone was forced to use them. Bell received a monopoly in exchange for adhering to the additional stifling regulations.

On the Web we have a free market-produced wide array of ISPs – myriad companies delivering service on multiple platforms (cable, wireless, satellite, etc).  No one is everyone’s “common carrier.”

ISPs have spent more than $1 trillion building the Web – they left “common carrier” regs in the dust hundreds of billions of dollars ago.

And the ISPs have over the years paid enough in taxes to buy outright a hundred (a thousand?) times over the government-funded infrastructure.

This would be like me saying I once lent Bill Gates $20, so I should have oversight over his entire fortune.

The industry is dominated by a few big companies, so oversight is needed to ensure that abuses are reduced.  

There are already laws to protect consumers from unfair Internet business practices – under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and to a lesser extent (God help us currently) the Justice Department. Should an ISP block content, existing law would have the FTC and Justice raining down upon it.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Net Neutrality would be totally redundant – in addition to being destructively preemptive rather than reasonably responsive to problems as they arise.

Especially when only four such instances have arisen – ever.  All of which were resolved by the respective parties – without any government involvement whatsoever.

You know what protects us from private companies?  The freedom to choose. If Comcast is blocking you, you can fire them and hire Time Warner.  Or Cox.  Or Verizon. Or AT&T. Or Sprint. Or T-Mobile.  Which is why Comcast won’t block you.

The only monopoly in this discussion is – government.  See: schools, postal service, passenger trains,….  And how are those services doing?  Compared to how the Internet is doing inprivate hands?

And the Left wants to invite in the incompetent former to preemptively, prophylactically lord over the dazzling latter?  Thank you, no.

Instead of going back to the Great Depression and imposing those fabulous policies,…: 

Congressional Leaders Call for Communications Act Makeover

Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) say its time to bring the 1996 law, which governs the nations communications networks, into the 21st century. 

We can write a new, updated, forward-looking, free market law – or Michael J. Fox our way back to the Depression and crush the Internet with a huge, antiquated, completely inapplicable regulatory superstructure.

Said new law would (amongst many other things) (hopefully) prevent any more absurd, obnoxious government overreach power grabs.

Like beginning to regulate (and tax) the Internet like we once did a rotary telephone – or the one Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor had to ask Sarah to dial for him

 

[Originally published on PJMedia]
Categories: On the Blog

NY Times Wrong About Rand Paul, Libertarianism Being on the ‘Fringe’

January 27, 2014, 5:40 PM

A lengthy January 25 The New York Times piece titled “Rand Paul’s Mixed Inheritance“ stated this: “As Rand Paul test-markets a presidential candidacy and tries to broaden his appeal, he is also trying to take libertarianism, an ideology long on the fringes of American politics, into the mainstream.”

That is dead wrong. The fact is that libertarianism was the gist of the philosophical foundation of the American political system. Natural individual rights! Limited constitutional government! Free markets! Due process of law!

All these were there at the start, and today’s libertarians simply want to restore them to prominence. But of course The New York Times cares nothing for historical accuracy. It wishes, evidently, to demean the ideas that both the American founders and libertarianism’s most high-profile advocates champion. No wonder, since the Times loves big governmen and extensive interventionism, both domestic and international.

It is also quite evident that the Times has a very distorted view of its own readership, as if they had no other sources of historical information aside from that of the editors of the Times. What was central to the founders is, to the Times, fringe!

Shame on them.

Categories: On the Blog

The Endangered Animal Act of Futility

January 27, 2014, 5:24 PM

David W. Snook, 57, of Bridgewater, New Jersey died on January 15, when two deer leaped into the path of his Dodge Ram on Route 206. One of them was airborne when it smashed through the front windshield, striking him before exiting out the rear window. This caused the truck to veer into the guard rail and come to rest in a ravine.

In 2012, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection estimated that the Garden State was home to 110,000 deer. Each year about 35,000 are killed in hunts and those of us who live here owe the hunters a debt of gratitude. In my county of Essex, home to Newark, the freeholders regularly hire hunters to cull the herd that shares its home with one of the most densely populated counties in the state.

Need it be said that the animal rights crowd is always upset about this. New Jersey also has a fairly sizeable bear population and during the hunting season, between 250 and 450 are “harvested” as the Fish and Game agency calls it. They have been found in all 21 counties of the state. And state officials now estimate that there are more coyotes in New Jersey than bears.

Suffice to say New Jersey’s animals are not suffering from a decline in species, nor facing extinction any time soon. My guess—and it’s only a guess—is that this is true nationwide. However, to justify one of the dumbest laws ever passed, the Endangered Species Act, some 1,500 species are classified with fuzzy definitions of being “threatened”, “endangered” or “recovered.”

The Act was signed into law in 1973 by Richard Nixon, who also gifted us with the Environmental Protection Agency, currently doing everything in its power to destroy the coal industry and plants that use it to generate electricity. They claim that the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are a threat to the climate, but ignore the many other natural sources of CO2, including all seven billion humans that exhale six pounds of it a day. And that all species would die without CO2 maintaining all the vegetation on Earth.

What is never mentioned is that species extinction has been around as long as there have been species. It was not CO2 that killed the dinosaurs and 75% of other species that had dominated the Earth for 180 million years and there were no humans around to blame for the Great Permian Extinction when more than 90% of all life on Earth disappeared—animals, plants, trees, fish, and even algae. Most geological eras have come to a close with calamitous events.

In December 2013, the Obama administration granted industrial wind farm operators a 30-year permit to kill legally protected bald eagles and golden eagles without being subject to legal repercussions. Wind energy has killed 1.4 million birds and bats every year, including those regarded and protected as threatened such as California condors, bald eagles, and Indiana bats. Apparently, if you are producing 1% percent or so of electricity, it’s okay to kill these creatures. Meanwhile everyone else pays higher electricity bills.

The dirty little secret about the Endangered Species Act is that environmentalists have used it for years to deter all manner of economic development by claiming some fish or other creature was endangered if you built a hospital, new homes, or in the case of the dunes sagebrush lizard which lives in the West Texas and Southeast New Mexico Permian Basic when oil companies want to explore and extract this energy resource that will generate jobs and huge tax revenues to help reduce the national debt.

It is insanity to think humans can or should do anything to “save” various species. The most dramatic and tragic evidence of this has been the twenty-year effort to “save” the northern spotted owl. The result was to close millions of acres of federal forests in the Northwest from logging, devastating the once flourishing timber industry.

In July 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would permit the killing of barred owls believed to be killing the spotted owls. The sawmills that once thrived are mostly gone, along with their jobs, and revenue. The forests are overgrown and are immense fire traps. And the Fish and Wildlife Service thinks that spending $127 million might restore the spotted owl population over the next 30 years.

This kind of stupidity is criminal.

How effective has the Endangered Species Act been? As it enters its 41st year it has “recovered” less than 2% of the approximately 2,100 species listed as endangered or threatened since 1973. A December 17 Wall Street Journal article reported that “it has endangered the economic health of many communities and created a cottage industry of litigation that does more to enrich environmental activist groups” that pays their salaries.

The Endangered Species Act is a huge failure. It should be repealed, but don’t expect Congress to do anything that sensible.

[First published at Warning Signs.]

Categories: On the Blog

Italian Climate Nut to Live on Iceberg to ‘Prove’ Global Warming

January 27, 2014, 12:15 AM

The face of global warming alarmism.

It looks like we’re going to get two stunts back to back that turn into disasters for the science-denying extremists who insist man is causing run-away, catastrophic global warming.

The first was around Christmas when University of New South Wales climate professor Chris Turney set sail on the Good Ship Global Warming (the Russian charter, Akademik Shokalskiy) to prove human activity was melting the East Antarctic ice sheet . . . only to get stuck in the ice, to the disappointment of all 51 of the leftist journalists and eco-tourists on board.

The next alarmist PR debacle will come from Italian adventurer Alex Bellini. He plans to live on an iceberg in a kevlar boat/shelter for eight to 12 months to “to demonstrate just how quickly things are changing” in the arctic. His plan is to park his boat/shelter on an iceberg off Greenland this spring, and float around for a while “documenting the melting process as [the iceberg] disappears completely.”

Bellini might be up there a while. Arctic sea ice levels are up 30 percent this winter, and ice levels at both poles combined is above the long-term average. But here’s the thing: Ice builds in the arctic every winter, then as spring and then summer comes, those icebergs melt. Bellini will only be dramatically “documenting” something that is entirely natural and happens every year.

Besides, an iceberg already in the ocean off Greenland — which is where Bellini will park his boat — does not increase sea leverl rise. Here’s an experiment you can do at home: Fill a glass with water and ice. Mark the level. Let it melt. Once melted, it will be a the same level.

Spending months all alone worrying about an increasing population of polar bears finding you easier prey than waiting for a seal to surface in an air hole sure seems a strange way to “prove” nothing. But I’m not a global warming nut, so whatever (eventually) floats Bellini’s boat.

(NOTE: If you’re interested in what is really happning to the climate — science based on observable data, rather than flawed climate models aimed at political ends — visit the  Climate Change Reconsidered by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), and also check out Heartland’s eight international conferences on climate change where you can view more than 100 video presentations.)

[HT: Breitbart]
Categories: On the Blog

The Endless, Fruitless Search for Climate Refugees

January 26, 2014, 1:32 PM

The current cold covering a large portion of the country has, once again, brought out the climate change alarmists with claims of “serious threat.”

Due to his respected position, as climate scientist at the University of California, San Diego Institution of Oceanography, Richard C.J. Somerville’s recent “Cold comfort” column was published in newspapers throughout the country.

In it, he grouses that the public doesn’t take the “consequences” of climate change seriously—pointing out that they are “here and now.” He cites: “only 54 percent of the public sees it as a global threat to their countries—and only 40 percent of Americans do.”

Somerville suggests: “people either are scientifically illiterate or reject science when it conflicts with their core values or religious convictions.” He posits: “the medical profession and communication experts may have much to teach those climate scientists” because “Priming patients to appreciate the value of medical diagnostic tests has been shown to make them more likely to take these tests and then act on the results.”

What Somerville misses in the analogy is that the data backs up the medical case. For example, getting a mammogram catches breast cancer early and increases survival rates. The data has shown that medical science is correct.

On the contrary, the data doesn’t support the claims made by climate scientists — but they just keep making them. Apparently they believe the “big lie” propaganda technique used so effectively by Adolf Hitler.

In Somerville’s column, he offers several familiar, easily disproven statements:

  • “Low-lying areas are threatened by sea-level rise” which will result in “millions of environmental refugees,” and;
  • “Major threats to agricultural productivity as rainfall patterns change and as heat waves, floods, droughts and other weather extremes worsen.”

Because my expertise is in communications not climate, I reached out to someone who could help me: Robert Endlich — who does in fact have both the education and experience. Endlich, who served as a USAF weather officer for 21 years and holds a BS in geology and an MS in meteorology, offered me pages of data and documentation, which I’ve summarized for my readers.

Environmental Refugees

If the threat of “environmental refugees” sounds familiar, it should. The 2005 UN Environmental Program forecast 50 to 100 million climate refugees. A UN report by Norman Myers: “Environmental Refugees, an Emergent Security Issue,” presented at the 13th Economic Forum, in Prague, May 23-27, 2005 predicted: “The environmental refugees total could well double between 1995 and 2010,” and “When global warming takes hold, there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by disruptions of monsoon systems and other rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprecedented severity and duration, and by sea-level rise and coastal flooding.” His report was accompanied by a map, indicating areas to be impacted by sea-level rise.

In early 2011, Gavin Atkins asked: “What happened to the climate refugees?” In his Asian Correspondent post, he used census records to show that the populations in the low-lying areas predicted to “flee a range of disasters including sea level rise” had actually grown—including no fewer than the top six of the very fastest growing cities in China.

Based on both in-person observation and historic evidence from Western Europe, Endlich has made a study of sea level rise. Citing geological features such as stream meanders upstream of Pisa on the Arno River and new shorelines on the coast of the Ligurian Sea, and history, he told me:

What may be news to many is that there is widespread evidence in the Mediterranean Basin and the English Channel coast that sea levels in Roman and Medieval periods were significantly higher than at present. The Roman port of Ostia Antica, the port at Ephesus, now in Turkey, and Pisa have histories showing the Mediterranean Seas significantly higher than today’s sea levels.

Endlich continued:

In 1066, William the Conqueror defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Less well-known is when William landed, he first occupied an old Roman fort now known as Pevensey Castle, which at the time was located on a small island in a harbor on England’s south coast. A drawbridge connected castle to mainland. Pevensey is infamous because unfortunate prisoners were thrown out this ‘Sea Gate,’ so that their bodies would be washed away by the tide. Pevensey Castle is now a mile from the coast—further proof of higher sea levels fewer than 1000 years ago.

The glacial-interglacial temperature data from the past 400,000 years shows each of the previous four interglacials significantly warmer than at present. In fact, a careful analysis of the ice cores from East Antarctica, published as a letter in Nature, shows that maximum temperatures from previous interglacials were at least 6C/10F warmer than present-day temperatures, with CO2 values then about 280 PPM, and today’s values near 400 PPM. Leaving one to ask: “if CO2 is such a strong cause of warming, why is it so cold today?”

Worsening weather extremes

Somerville stated: “The consequences include major threats to agricultural productivity as rainfall patterns change and as heat waves, floods, droughts, and other weather extremes worsen.” Endlich shared the following with me:

Heat Waves: Dr. Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology offered Senate testimony on January 16, 2014. She showed an analysis of 982 stations from the U.S. Historical Climate Network for the 48 continental states with more than 80 years of record.  The data show a strong peak of record maximum daily temperatures occurred in the 1930s, with no increasing trend in the post-WWII years when CO2 started its modern increase.

Of the 50 states, the number of state maximum record temperatures obtained from NOAA’s National Climate Data Center, by decade, shows that in the 1930s, 23 states set their all-time high temperatures, by far the largest number of such record highs. There has not been a single state record maximum set in the 21st Century.

Droughts: The most-often used indicator of drought is the Palmer Drought Severity Index. Curry’s testimony included a PDSI chart, showing the most severe droughts in the 102-year record 1910-2012, were in the 1930s and a lesser maximum in the 1950s. Data show no indication that drought severity has increased as CO2 has increased.

Floods: Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., from the University of Colorado, testified to the Senate EPW Committee on July 18, 2013. With respect to floods, he provided data from the US Geological Survey, which show in the U.S., floods have not increased in frequency or intensity since at least 1950, and that flood losses, as a percentage of GDP have dropped by about 75% since 1940, based on data from NOAA’s Hydrologic Information Center.

Somerville says that increasing CO2 will harm plant productivity, but the opposite is true.  First, realize that both plants and animals, including humans, are carbon-based life forms. With increasing CO2, there is an incredible array of beneficial effects spelled out in the book, The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, by Craig Idso and Sherman Idso. The benefits include: increasing water-use efficiency; increasing biomass in roots, stems, flowers and nectar; larger seeds; avoiding human starvation and plant and animal extinctions; stimulating early plant growth; and resistance to plant diseases. The carbohydrates we consume when we eat are derived directly from CO2 in the atmosphere; carbohydrates are the source of the energy we need to survive and thrive.

Climate scientists, such as Somerville, do have something to learn from the medical profession: if you want people to heed your warnings, they need to be backed up by the data.

Somerville’s climate refugees cannot be found. In the recent past, interglacial periods were at least 6C/10F warmer than the present with a lot less CO2 in the air; and the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm periods were significantly warmer than at present. By historic accounts, sea levels were many feet higher as recently as 1066 and 1300 AD. His claims of heat waves, floods, drought and agricultural disruption are easily disproven by looking at real-world data.

Somerville’s argument points out: “climate change does involve serious threats.” The serious threat is the Obama/Podesta partnership pushing the executive order pen to punish people with new policies that kill jobs and increase energy costs all in the name of supposedly saving the planet.

Categories: On the Blog

The Unceasing Political Thuggery of Obama’s Gangster Government

January 25, 2014, 3:45 AM

In the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama urged Latinos to “punish our enemies” — meaning anyone who stands in opposition to his agenda. The Obama administration has done its part fulfill that promise, maybe the only promise this president will ever keep.

Thursday night, prominent conservative Dinesh D’Souza — author of The Roots of Obama’s Rage and producer of the documentary 2016: Obama’s Americawas arrested on felony charges of violating campaign finance law. Obama’s Department of Justice seeking a $1 million fine and seven years in prison. This hard approach to “justice” stands in stark contrast to the way Obama’s DOJ handled a prominent Democratic donor who got off with a misdeameanor, a nominal fine, and two months in jail for doing the exact same thing.

What did D’Souza do? He is charged with making “straw donations” by asking friends to give a total of $20,000 to a 2012 U.S. Senate camapign in New York and then reimbursing them. If proven true, that is a violation of America’s Byzantine campaign finance laws, and D’Souza must face the consequences. But this case stinks to high heaven of selective prosecution of the president’s “enemies” — a long-standing pattern of this administration, which Michael Barone aptly dubbed America’s first “gangster government.”

D’Souza was trying to help out an old college friend, Wendy Long, who ran on the Republican ticket against incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand. Let’s be clear: Long’s campaign was nothing more than a ceremonial campaign so that someone represented the party on the ballot. She had no shot of taking out Gillibrand, who won with 72 percent of the vote to Long’s 27 percent. Furthermore, Gillibrand spent $14.2 million on her campaign to Long’s measly $742,000. Yet we’re supposed to believe that the feds caught D’Souza in their net after simply conducting “a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election for United States Senator in New York.” And Gillibrand’s campaign — which collected and spent 1,800 percent more money — had zero sketchy contributions?

We are to believe that D’Souza’s status as one of the president’s sharpest and most-prominent critics had absolutely nothing to do with DOJ taking a sledgehammer to kill a gnat that over-contributed to a nuisance candidate an amount that probably matches the tip money for Gillibrand’s 2012 campaign luncheons? That is beyond absurd — especially in light of what the FBI and DOJ have found not worthy of any investigation, let alone indictment.

In 2012, the Obama re-election campaign’s online donation form did not require that the billing address match the card, or that the security code on the back be entered, or even that the state match the ZIP code. This allowed at least one British citizen to illegally contribute to Obama’s campaign, and likely many thousand more non-US citizens to do the same. (It is, again, an insult to our intelligence that the most tech-savvy campaign ever didn’t set up its donation page for that very purpose.)

In October 2012, the Federal Elections Commission announced that it identified more than $2 million in donations at Obama’s campaign website in which no ZIP codes were entered or the ZIP codes were incomplete — an error that requires the donation to be voided, and a feature that was in place on Romney’s campaign site. The FBI didn’t even have to do any “routine review” of the Obama campaign to take action on lawbreaking on a much greater scale than that alleged of D’Souza. Yet, it is merely a coincidence that no Obama campaign staffer or donor was investigated, let alone arrested?

Here are more coincidences we’re supposed to take at face value, and not as evidence of a corrupt Obama adminisration determined to “punish” the president’s “enemies”:

  • King Street Patriots founder Catherine Engelbrecht was investigated by the FBI, audited by the IRS, and also saw her spotless family business put under close scrutiny by the IRS, OSHA, and the ATF — all just months after she applied for nonprofit status for her “Truth the Vote” group to battle rampant election fraud. Among the information the IRS demanded was “every Facebook post and Tweet she had ever written,” detailed information about her family, and whether she or any of her relatives had ever run (or thought about running) for political office. Liberal members of Congress also publicly accused her of being part of a “criminal conspiracy” and demanded DOJ investigate.
  • The IRS systematically gave similar bureaucratic proctal exams to countless other Tea Party groups seeking nonprofit status — thus chilling the speech and political paticipation of right-leaning groups, but not those on the left.
  • The appointment by the Obama administration of a long-time campaign donor to “investigate” the IRS abuses, which resulted in an “investigation” that considered talking to the victims an afterthought.
  • An IRS, unchastened by the public exposure of its corruption, deciding to “legalize” its practice of chilling of non-leftist speech with a new rule that will establish a policy of harassing Tea Party groups while leaving unions and leftist outfits alone. According to this post at Examiner.com, not a single public comment about the rule (as of January 21) was in favor. I doubt something as insignificant to the IRS as the public will has a chance of stopping its plans.
  • The Obama administration and its Democratic allies in Congress sacrificing cherished spending priorities in 2014 to ensure the IRS could still institute its rule to put “Tea Party groups out of business” as the 2014 midterm elections approach.
  • An SWAT-team federal raid on Gibson Guitars — whose CEO is a Republican donor — for allegedly breaking the century-old and almost-never-enforced Lacey Act for using the same “illegal” wood its competitors use. (The executives of Gibson’s competitors, not subject to similar raids for that “crime,” happen to be big Democratic donors.)
  • Intense IRS scrutiny of the only  conservative organization in Hollywood, “Friends of Abe,” which included a demand for a complete donor list — something the IRS does not typically ask for in a “routine” audit. Leftist Hollywood nonprofits, such as Norman Lear’s People for the American Way, have never cited cause to complain about similar IRS harassment.
  • The auditing of James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas, which exposed the genuine abuse of nonprofit status by the leftist ACORN — a group Obama worked with closely before he ran for political office. Now, out of the blue, the New York State Department of Labor has demanded O’Keefe appear before them with all his papers in order on Tuesday — including all “copies of Social Security returns, unemployment insurance (state and federal), check stubs and canceled checks, and any other records pertaining to payments for services.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wasn’t kidding, it appears, when he said conservatives are not welcome in “his” state.
  • Billionaire Frank VanderSloot, a decades-long big Republican donor, getting audited by the Obama’s IRS for the first time in his life after giving generously to the “Super PAC” of the Mitt Romney campaign. The Obama Labor Department was kind enough to follow up with an audit of all the workers on VanderSloot’s Idaho cattle ranch. Billionaire leftist George Soros — the “Daddy Warbucks” for countless left-leaning groups, creator of his own leftist nonprofits, and big donor to Democratic campaigns — has never had reason to complain about such scrutiny.
  • Conservative journalist Wayne Allen Root being audited twice by Obama’s IRS, and reporting that he personally knows of at least 15 people who were subject to IRS audits within 90 days of writing big checks to the Mitt Romney campaign. (Chilling detail: Root says the IRS agent who called him said he knew who he was, and knew that he served as a guest host for a conservative radio show.)
  • And while we’re talking about politicized “justice,” I must mention the fact that Obama’s DOJ has still refused to pursue criminal charges against global warming activist Peter Gleick. He publicly admitted to impersonating a director of The Heartland Institute via email, stealing Heartland’s confidential and private property (its budget and planning documents), and distributing them to leftist allies for the purpose of harassing Heartland donors. He has not yet copped to creating his own version of a Heartland “planning document,” an obvious fake, intended to defame the organization and distort the purpose of its work in climate science. A criminal trial that is not likely to happen — despite the open-and-shut case laid out to federal prosecutors by Heartland, as well as Gleick’s public confession — would do a lot to clarify that point. [Full background here.]

Are those examples enough to establish a pattern? To establish that these are not mere coincidences or “bad luck” on the part of conservatives and right-leaning groups? That there are countless more examples that are not publicly known?

Never in the history of this country have we seen such a broad and coordinated abuse of the government’s power to threaten criminal prosecution and ruin the lives and livelihoods of people the president and his party see as political “enemies.” None of the victims above did anything that even smelled like a criminal act act (except, perhaps, D’Souza) before the state came crashing down with the inevitable and purposeful result of ruining their lives. Their only “offense” was publicly opposing the president’s agenda, and putting those dissenters through the goverment’s paces was the whole point.

As columnist Mark Steyn has often noted, the process is the punishment. Exercising your rights of free speech and free assembly will put you on “the list.” So think twice before daring to oppose the statist agenda. Don’t speak out. Obey … or else. The Obama administration’s intimination tactics are encouraging the president’s powerful allies in Congress to join in even more heartily. This week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered a despicable, un-American speech to the leftist nonprofit Center for American Progress. He urged the IRS to “redouble” its intimidation tactics against the Tea Party, and anyone else who dares to “attack government” through peaceful political outreach and speech.

This should be the political scandal of the century — if only we had an honorable and competent MSM press corps in this country. Alas, it is more interested in Justin Bieber’s arrest. If President Obama deigns to give the MSM an audience for questioning, we are treated to gems such as “What is your New Year’s Resolution?” (Obama’s answer: Be nicer to the White House Press Corps!)

When George W. Bush was president, Hillary Clinton famously shouted:

I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.

But apparently not this administration. Hillary Clinton was right. But she and those who cheered her are nowhere to be found now that the sideshow of Dixie Chicks protests have been replaced by the infinitely more threatening governmental suppression of principled public dissent. Today, left-leaning America — as well as the constitutionally protected MSM — have no interest in standing up for the patriotic right to “debate and disagree” with the Chicago-style thuggery of the Obama administration. That is tragic for the cause of liberty, our politics, and our increasingly fragile republic.

Categories: On the Blog

The EPA’s Agenda: Undermine Capitalism and America

January 24, 2014, 8:10 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency has been in a full assault on the U.S. economy since the 1980s when the global warming hoax was initiated. It has been assisted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

To put it in other terms, our own government has engaged in lying to Americans and the result has been the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars on something that was not happening and is not happening.

On January 22, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the deposition transcript of former senior EPA official John Beale. After defrauding the agency of nearly $900,000 and spending months away from his office by claiming he was on assignment for the CIA, the transcript contained a bombshell.

Discussing his job, at the time as a close associate of Gina McCarthy, the new EPA administrator, Beale revealed that he was there to come up with “specific proposals that could have been proposed either legislatively or things which could have been done administratively to kind of modify the capitalist system. . . .”

Dan Kish, senior vice president of the Institute for Energy Research, responded to the revelation saying:

In his testimony under oath, Beale, perhaps unwittingly, has laid bare the administration’s end goal. The president’s policies are not about carbon, they are not about coal, and they are not even about energy and the environment. They are about fundamentally altering the DNA of the capitalist system. These policies are not about energy, but power.

When the new EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, in testimony before a congressional committee in mid-January, was asked by Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL-R) to confirm a statement made by President Obama last year that global temperatures were increasing faster in the last five or ten years than climate scientists had predicted.

She said: “I can’t answer that question.”

“You’re asking us to impose billions of dollars of cost on this economy and you won’t answer the simple question of whether (temperature around the world is increasing faster than predicted) is accurate or not?” Sessions responded.

“I just look at what the climate scientists tell me,” said McCarthy.

The Earth is in a cooling cycle that has lasted 17 years at this point, but the EPA administrator was not inclined to accept this fact, nor question the climate scientists who provided the data based on computer models that have been consistently wrong now for decades.

We owe The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, a debt of gratitude for the eight international conferences it has held to debunk global warming. Joseph Bast, its president and CEO, said in the organization’s petition to rein in the EPA:

The toll our EPA is taking on the country is staggering, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work at a time when millions of people are unemployed and our reliance on foreign sources of energy threatens to compromise our nation’s security.

Heartland’s science director, Jay Lehr, points out that “EPA’s budget could safely be cut by 80 percent or more without endangering the environment or human health, Most of what EPA does today could be done better by state government agencies.” (Full disclosure: I serve as an advisor to Heartland.)

This is the same EPA that proposed restrictions for new wood stoves in early January. The reason given was to reduce the maximum amount of fine particulate emissions (soot) allowed for new stoves sold in 2015 and 2019. The soot is made up of solid particles and liquid droplets that measure 2.5 micrometers or less. The EPA claims, as it does for virtually all its regulations, that it is linked to heart attacks, decreased lung function, and premature death in people with heart and lung disease. This is worse than junk science. It represents no science whatever, being an invention of EPA employees who specialize in such nonsense. The Earth produces soot every day and circulates it globally.

The only way Americans will be protected against the EPA’s attack on our economy will be a Congress controlled by the Republican Party and a Republican president who will support the oversight that is needed and the reversal of its vast output of regulations. It will have to do this as well for NOAA, NASA, and other governmental departments and agencies that, until recently, spewed forth all manner of “data” supporting the global warming hoax.

At the heart of the global warming hoax, now called climate change, is the assertion that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other “greenhouse gases” have been dangerously warming the Earth by trapping heat, but you don’t have to be a scientist to know that the current cold spell, comparable to the 1500-1850 mini-ice age, is the result of lower solar emissions by a sun. CO2 is a minor (0.038) element of the Earth’s atmosphere, but the second most vital gas for all life on Earth because it is the “food” that maintains all vegetation.

Little wonder, during the government shutdown, more than 93% of EPA employees were furloughed when designated as “non-essential.” That was more than nine out of every ten employees!

In September 2013, the Republican members of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee issued a report that EPA officials had, from the beginning of President Obama’s tenure had “pursued a path of obfuscation, operating in the shadows, and out of the sunlight.” It detailed violations of the Freedom of Information Act and other federal laws and regulations intended to encourage transparency and accountability in the government.

In mid-January, the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute revealed that emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the EPA used official events to help environmental groups gather signatures for petitions on agency rulemaking. “The level of coordination in these documents is shocking” said an EELI spokesman. The EPA has a long history of this, including a policy of “sue and settle” working with environmental groups to bring a suit to advance regulations and settling the suit to enable it to implement those regulations.

In an April 2013 article in Investor’s Business Daily, John Merline reported that “Overall air pollution levels dropped 62% from 1990 to 2012, while GDP grew 69% and population climbed 26%.” The pollution the EPA keeps claiming is rising includes carbon monoxide, soot, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and others, all well below the EPA’s safety threshold. Water quality, too, has also improved over several decades.

In May 2013, Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) noted that the EPA, since Obama’s inauguration in 2009, had generated 1,920 new regulations. “The EPA’s actions are forcing us to expend vast financial, human and technological resources to achieve minimal or even zero health benefits,” he wrote.

This is the same EPA leading the effort to shut down coal-fired plants that produce electricity. It is the same EPA seeking to stop the Pebble Mine, described as “a natural resource project in Alaska that could yield more copper than has ever been found in one place anywhere in the world.”

The EPA is the instrument of those who want to undermine capitalism in any way it can. Only that can explain why entire books have been written about its impact on the economy of the nation and the deceptive way it has imposed regulations responsible for it.

President Obama called for “hope and change” when he first ran for office. We can only hope that a new Congress and President will bring about the change we need to shut down the EPA and return control over the nation’s environment to its 50 sovereign states.

[First posted at Warning Signs.]

Categories: On the Blog

More on Why Preschool Vouchers Are a Bad Idea

January 23, 2014, 2:51 PM

Image by Harris County Public Library.

After sending out yesterday’s School Choice Weekly, in which I bashed the Indiana House for passing a preschool voucher pilot, I received a few thoughtful comments in my email box.

One was from Brandon Dutcher, senior vice president of the Oklahoma Council for Public Policy. He wanted my thoughts on whether a state that already has universal government preschool (like Oklahoma) would be better off if the preschool funds were vouchers. I said yes.

What’s the difference? Indiana currently has no statewide preschool program. Since research and experience consistently indicates these do not benefit children (sources in SCW), it would be foolish to start a new entitlement you know will be ineffective. But if your state already has an ineffective entitlement, it’s better to make the most of it if “inefficient entitlement” and “more efficient entitlement” are the only available alternatives (i.e., you can’t end the program outright and do something more likely to benefit poor kids). I do not agree with the people who would say “don’t make an entitlement better because then you perpetuate it,” because that only serves to increase the harm to entitlement recipients and taxpayers.

Another comment came from Patrick Herrera, a professor at Chapman University who has written for me on effective reading remediation. He writes:

Those who are creating legislation to expend a great deal of time and expense should consider the purpose for pre-school.  There are no statements of purpose.  There are no cohesive programs by any of the major publishers that address the existing need.  Simply putting children in pre-school does not create a benefit.  No mention is made of the curriculum needed, nor the training that teachers need to understand early language acquisition.  More important is training in the early acquisition of a second language when the learner has the additional burden of illiteracy.

Patrick brings up a good point, which is that we do know how to close achievement gaps between middle-class and poor children, which is the main goal (though unmet) of preschool programs. There are a number of effective strategies, including assigning lagging children to an excellent teacher four years in a row, and giving those children a content-rich curriculum. The problem is that very few preschool programs, and no large-scale ones, employ such strategies. It would be difficult for them to try just from a personnel point of view, as there are not enough people trained in these strategies to hire for a large program.

But we can also employ these strategies within the existing K-12 system and catch children up once they reach kindergarten, making preschool again an unnecessary tax expenditure.

Further, the reason government subsidizes education at all is to perpetuate a self-governing republic. One can make an argument that K-12 schooling accomplishes this. The arguments for governments subsidizing preschool, at the one end, and college, at the other, are far thinner, in my opinion, because both are more likely to be lifestyle choices than necessary for the basic grounding in academics it is more appropriate for taxpayers to subsidize.

Image by Harris County Public Library.

Categories: On the Blog

A Heartland Event: Charles Douglas Love on The Truth About Blacks and the GOP

January 23, 2014, 2:03 AM

On Janury 16, I attended a luncheon event at The Heartland Institute featuring author C. Douglas Love and his book, Logic: The Truth About Blacks and the Republican Party, And Why They Need To Work Together To Improve The Party, The Black Community, And the Country. [Watch the video below.] The subject piqued my curiosity in a big way.

The invitation about C. Douglas Love spoke of him as “an amateur polymath and avid reader with a keen interest in politics.” Describing himself as a conservative, Love said he strives to be a champion of the truth. He believes that both political parties do the country a disservice in their rhetoric.

Raised in Gary, Indiana, Love now lives in Chicago with his wife where he runsa political site and an organization — Think or Die — whose purpose is to galvanize conservatives and educate people on the conservative principles and the dangers of an overreaching government.

Given Love’s credentials and the intriguing and promising title of his book, I was all ears about what Mr. Love had to say as a black Republican and author. For it seems logical to believe that blacks, even though voting Democrat 95% to 5% in the last election cycle, might be receptive to the Republican message if Republicans knew how to reach blacks and didn’t tend to write off the black community.

This led me to consider the following question: Why then are Republican pundits and those in House leadership positions currently convinced that a larger slice of the Hispanic vote is essential to winning elections, and that working with the Senate to pass immigration reform (amnesty) will produce the means to win future elections? It seems evident that Republicans have no inkling that amnesty is not popular outside the beltway. In the hinterland of America, securing the border before all else is top priority. Granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is illogical, to say the least, and is not popular with the base of the Republican Party, given the millions of Americans unable to find jobs or who are underemployed

History does tell us that blacks and Republicans once had a strong relationship. From the creation of the Republican Party in 1856 to the election of Franklin Roosevelt, blacks voted exclusively for Republicans — for it was Lincoln as the first president to be elected under the Republican mantel who freed the slaves. As Love explains, while black allegiance started to shift during Roosevelt’s presidency with his “New Deal” programs, it was with the election of President Lyndon Johnson and his anti-poverty legislation that blacks went from voting exclusively for Republicans to voting exclusively for Democrats.

Love noted how the biggest shift of black allegiance from Republican to Democrat possibly took place when Barry Goldwater came on the scene with his book “The Conscience of a Conservative” in 1960. Goldwater’s book rubbed black people the wrong way, Love said. With the Barry Goldwater/LBJ presidential match-up four years later in 1964, blacks eagerly embraced Johnson and later on his War on Poverty.

Mr. Love’s remarks zeroed in on what many blacks believe about the Republican Party and the correlation those beliefs have on the way they vote. Love also had advice for Republicans in reaching out to black Americans for their votes.

Writing the book was not a sudden epiphany for Mr. Love. Like many black conservatives, Love said he started out as a Democrat. His transformation toward conservatism evolved over time. Love said blacks vote heavily Democratic because that’s the way their parents or family voted in the past. It is also more than likely, he said, that nasty remarks about Republicans are passed around within the black community that tend to forever poison the well for Republican candidates.

In explaining the nature of his book, Love noted how Logic differed in two essential ways from those written by other authors who have written about blacks and the GOP:

  • Logic’s goal is to abandon the use of labels and instead listen to what all have to say before forming opinions. (Arriving at personal conclusions is why Mr. Love chose Logic as the title of his book.)
  • Logic doesn’t address many issues, as its object isn’t directed at explicitly creating black Republicans. The use of logic, however, should result in a self-discovery (an awakening) by blacks to show that their former misconceptions are faulty and that being a Republican makes sense.

Love said he recalls often the experience of listening to people talk about the “angry responses” between John McCain and Obama in the 2008 election. The same tone of anger was heard four years later in the retorts exchanged between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the 2012 match up, which prompted Love to ask: “Why can’t people just disagree instead of calling each other names?”

Since those disagreeing most with Obama were Republicans, Love said, it came to be accepted as truth in the black community that all Republicans “must be racists” because they didn’t endorse Obama for president. Even after six years as president, it is pathetic that Obama is still using racism to explain why support for him and his programs aren’t more popular.

According to Mr. Love, this perceived racism toward Republicans among blacks developed at the time Barack Obama became the first back candidate to vie for the presidency. With the entrance of Obama on the national scene, many blacks at last took an interest in politics, with this one drawback: Any knowledge they gained was based solely on Obama’s candidacy and his subsequent election.

Overnight, Love said, blacks became experts on Obama — never questioning Obama’s policies or actions because they lacked prior political experiences to draw upon in order to evaluate or compare stated policies. Romney’s policies in 2012 would have been better economically for blacks, but lacking any background on which to base their votes, blacks voted for Obama’s wrong policies which sounded better to them, but which didn’t work.

Using logic, Mr. Love explained how to dispel the common notion in the black community that blacks can’t possibly be racists — as power and control must be present for racism to occur. Love asked: Is it really possible or logical to conclude that only Republicans can be racist and that Democrats are blameless? Is racism perceived to be present when a white candidate is selected over a less qualified black candidate? Or what if a more qualified black candidate is selected over a white candidate?

Other black misconceptions about whites, according to Love:

1. All white people are rich Republicans, which refutes logic as the wealthiest people in Congress are Democrats. Consider also that movie stars are wealthy and most often vote Democrat.

2. All whites love war and Bush was a war monger, when about an equal number of wars were started under presidents of both parties.

3. All whites are right-wing zealots, which comes into play because many blacks are one-issue voters (same as in many other ethnic groups). If a Democrat legislator is in sync with the views of a voters on a key issue — be it for gay rights, abortion, or immigration — voters must support that legislator. Yet not all Republicans are anti-gay, pro-life or for amnesty.

And what about the stigma placed upon black conservatives by other black Americans?  As blacks are expected to vote Democrat or they are “off the plantation,” black conservatives are accordingly racist. Not so says Mr. Love who didn’t grow up wealthy — but neither did Dr. Ben Carson who was targeted by the IRS in 2013 after daring to criticize Obama and his policies at the National Prayer Breakfast.

In the Q&A after his presentation, Love was asked: Will Republicans ever again be able to capture a goodly portion of the black vote? Love suggested that 30 percent of the black vote is about all Republicans could hope for in future elections. Even so, he asked, why do Republicans write off a good proportions of the voting population? While Democrats can count on Jews, women, and Hispanics for support, they continue to take the black vote for granted because of its huge readymade majority. Is this indifference by Democrats an opportunity for Republicans among black voters?

Love said that it is not enough for Republicans to just show up in black neighborhoods once every four years. They are seen as opportunists. Republicans need to court the black vote, Love said, because blacks live in mega cities like Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles. This is where the votes are. Blacks need the Republican Party, because Republican polices are better for blacks in the long run.

But Love asked: How does one break the chain of dependency that blacks have come to expect from Democratic politicians? Logic comes to the rescue. Has the leadership in your black community serve you well? What about the promises that were made over the years? Have they been kept? Are you better off since President Obama became president?

A brief discussion of Adam Smith’s book, The Invisible Hand, brought to a close the Heartland event. An black attendee noted how the “personal self-interest” of many black voters always comes into play. The result of voting for this “self-interest,” he said, has helped create the worst pathologies we see now in many black communities: poverty, unemployment, and crime.

Politicians would do well to remember: Good intent has consequences which should be based on results, not on interests.

I highly recommend you read Mr. Love’s book, Logic.

[END NOTE: I had one point of contention with Love, which riled me as a conservative Republican. It occurred when Love spoke about not being a fan of name-calling — specifically the use of the term RINOS (Republicans in Name Only) by conservative Republican and Tea Party members. As stated by Mr. Love: "Democrats don't call Democrats DINOS,” so why does the Tea Party ostracize “RINOs”? For conservatives like me and other Tea Party members, the good of the party does not rest with establishment Republicans in leadership positions. They are trying to silence conservatives and the Tea Party so they can continue to compromise with Democrats with an agenda that is Democrat-lite — bigger government and more massive spending.]

Categories: On the Blog

The Next Wave of Obamacare Cancellations

January 22, 2014, 9:09 PM

Employers are already starting to get the same cancellation letters that went to millions of people in the individual market late last year. The Washington Post reports that the big surge should take place in October, but it will happen all through the year as employer plans come up for renewal.

Contrary to many press reports this affects not just the small group market, but all fully-insured health plans. Very few meet the requirements of “essential benefits” of Obamacare, which include things like pediatric dental coverage.

The Washington Post article tried to minimize the effects, quoting Jonathan Gruber, one of Obamacare’s archictects:

We’re ending discrimination [against people who are sick, and as a result] the people who were previously benefiting may now suffer,” Gruber said. “That’s sad for them, but it does not mean we should continue discrimination.

He concludes that the number of losers will be “very, very small.” Right.

Writing in the New York Post, Betsy McCaughey does a pretty good job of rebutting Mr. Gruber. She estimates the number of people who will lose coverage is 25 million, which is the same estimate I’ve been using for some time now. But even she understates the problem by focusing entirely on the small group market.

The main difference between the small group market (50 or fewer employees) and the rest of the fully-insured employer market is that the former are exempt from the employer mandate to either provide coverage or pay a fine.

One other difference is that in some jurisdictions the local insurance department is requiring smaller employers to buy coverage through the exchanges. The Washington Post article notes that Vermont is requiring all employers with 50 or fewer employees to buy coverage exclusively through the exchange, while DC is applying the same requirement to groups of 100 employees. We don’t know if other states are doing the same.

In any case, virtually all fully-insured employers will be getting their current plans cancelled. Many will simply comply with the new requirements and pay more for coverage. Many others will make a different decision.

Some may decide to self-insure their coverage. Anecdotally, we hear of relatively small employers (under 100 employees) making that decision and becoming exempt from the Obamacare coverage mandates. There is no way of knowing how frequently this is happening, but it comes with significant risks. Yes, they may be able to access a reinsurance program to protect against a surge of large claims, but state regulators are already concerned about companies that do this to avoid state requirements. If it becomes common the insurance commissioners might prohibit such reinsurance in their states.

Large numbers of employers may decide they simply can’t afford to pay the additional premiums, especially now that the exchanges are operational. Plus, the exchanges offer a selection of health plans and subsidies that often are more generous than the employer can provide. Employers no longer have to feel guilty about sending their workers out into the individual market and the companies can relieve themselves of the enormous burden of selecting and administering a health insurance program. The savings in the Human Resources departments alone will be substantial.

This decision is a no-brainer for employers not subject to the employer mandate (under 50 workers), especially those with lower wage employees, but also makes sense for a whole lot of larger companies, too. Sure they may have to pay a fine, but that is small potatoes compared to the cost of providing coverage. I would expect the employers of some 50 million workers will make this decision — close to the 30% who told McKinsey three years ago that they would drop their coverage.

So, we may suddenly have 50 million people newly uninsured and looking for coverage. They will have more money in their pockets because their bosses gave them raises to compensate for the loss of coverage. The added income will make them less likely to qualify for subsidies on the exchanges.

Importantly these folks are significantly different than the people who lost their coverage in the individual market. The latter group universally thinks coverage is important and they universally are experienced at shopping and paying for health insurance. They have been doing it for years.

These newly uninsured workers have never done any of that. They have always been passive recipients of whatever the boss has provided. For them the enrollment process has been no more than checking a box and signing their name on a form the company provides. They’ve never had to arrange paying the insurance company; their share of the premium is automatically deducted from their paycheck. If they have a question about what is covered or how to file a claim, they pop into HR at lunchtime to get the answer. If they have a complaint about the services provided by the insurance company, they tell HR and the folks in that department follow-up.

Suddenly they will have to take the initiative to:

  • Go on the website and choose a plan.
  • Find a “Navigator” to answer any enrollment questions.
  • Understand what doctors they may see and what hospitals they may use.
  • Make arrangements for paying the premium.
  • Report to the exchange any change in income or living arrangements.

Many of them (my guess is half) simply won’t do it. They don’t value the coverage very much. They are actively at work, which means they are busy and healthy. They have other things to do with their time and their money. Even if the process worked will, it would be a hassle:

Where do you find a Navigator? Are they listed in the phone book? Do they really know what they’re talking about? Whaddya mean I can’t see the doctor I’ve used for years? Send me a bill, I’ll pay it when I have a chance. My transmission broke down, can I pay you half this month? My boyfriend moved out, I’m a little short on cash. I just got a raise, why should that change my premiums? I’m moving to Texas, but I’m not sure where I’ll be staying yet.

They ain’t gonna do it. Not going to happen. Welcome to the real world, Mr. President.

[First posted at the NCPA blog.]

Categories: On the Blog

The Inventor of the Global Warming Hockey Stick Doubles Down

January 22, 2014, 3:08 PM

Professor Michael Mann, the inventor of the Hockeystick temperature graph, had a contentious editorial essay in the January 17 issue of the New York Times.  [The Hockeystick graph purports to show that temperatures of the last thousand years declined steadily — until the 20th century, when there was a sudden large rise.]

I am using the word “inventor” on purpose, since the Hockeystick is a manufactured item and does not correspond to well-established historic reality.  It does not show the generally beneficial Medieval Warm Period (MWP) at around 1000 AD, or the calamitous Little Ice Age (LIA) between about 1400 and 1800.  In the absence of any thermometers during most of this period, the Hockeystick is based on an analysis of so-called proxy data, mostly tree rings, from before 1000 AD to 1980, where the proxy temperature  suddenly stops and a rapidly rising thermometer record is joined on.

Since its publication in 1998 and 1999, the hockeystick graph has had a turbulent history.  It was adopted by the IPCC (UN-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in its 3rd Assessment Report (2001) to support the claim of a major anthropogenic global warming (AGW) during the 20th century.  Since then, the IPCC has distanced itself from the graph, which has been completely discredited.  It not disagrees not only with much historic evidence that shows a MWP and LIA, but also with other analyses  of proxy data.  Most of the criticism has come from the work of two Canadian statisticians, Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, who have uncovered a misuse of data, a biased calibration procedure, and fundamental errors in the statistical methods.

McKitrick, an econometrician at Guelph University in Canada, has a pungent comment on Mann’s op-ed, which was titled “If you see something, say something.”

“OK, I see a second-rate scientist carrying on like a jackass and making a public nuisance of himself.”

I have added my own comment as follows:  “OK, I want to say something too: I see an ideologue, desperately trying to support a hypothesis that’s been falsified by observations.  While the majority of climate alarmists are trying to discover a physical reason that might just save the AGW hypothesis, Mann simply ignores the ‘inconvenient truth’ that the global climate has not warmed significantly for at least the past 15 years — while emissions of greenhouse gases have surged globally.”

Of course, this is not the first time that “hide the decline” Mike has done this.  Remember his “Nature trick” — so much admired by his ‘Climategate team’ mates?  [For those who don't remember the 2009 Climategate scandal: It consisted of a leak of some thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia, involving mainly Michael Mann and several of his English colleagues, documenting their completely unethical attempts to suppress any contrary opinions and publications from climate skeptics by misusing the peer-review process and by pressuring editors of scientific journals -- unfortunately, with some success.]

We don’t quite know yet what the “Nature trick” refers to — until we get Michael Mann to tell us why he has refused to reveal his never-published post-1980 proxy data.  We may have to wait until we have him on the witness stand and under oath.  But I strongly suspect that it has to do with absence of any temperature increase after 1980; its publication would have created a conflict with the reported (and problematic) thermometer data and with the assertion by the IPCC that humans are responsible for such a temperature rise.

In actuality, we now have adequate proxy data from other sources, most particularly from Fredrick Ljungqvist and David Anderson.  Their separate publications agree that there has been little if any temperature rise since about 1940!  However, there was a real temperature increase between 1920 and 1940, which can be seen also in the various proxy as well as thermometer data.

Anti-Science

Michael Mann saw something he didn’t like in the Senate testimony (Jan 16, 2014) of fiercely independent climate scientist and blogger, Georgia Tech professor Judith Curry; so he decided to say something in his NYT op-ed.  He forgot that often it is better to say nothing than to accuse Curry of peddling anti-science.

Curry has lost no time in taking Mann’s challenge and turning the tables on him:

“Since you have publicly accused my Congressional testimony of being ‘anti-science,’ I expect you to (publicly) document and rebut any statement in my testimony that is factually inaccurate or where my conclusions are not supported by the evidence that I provide.

During the Hearing, Senator Whitehouse asked me a question about why people refer to me as a ‘contrarian.’  I said something like the following: Skepticism is one of the norms of science.  We build confidence in our theories as they are able to withstand skeptical challenges.  If instead, scientists defend their theories by calling their opponents names, well that is a sign that their theories are in trouble.

Curry’s final message to Mann:

“If you want to avoid yourself being labeled as ‘anti-science’, I suggest that you are obligated to respond to my challenge.”

War on Coal

It is interesting that Mann now plays the role of the victim in purported persecution by powerful interests, darkly identified as the fossil-fuel industry.  Actually, the reverse may be the case.  Mann has become a strong proponent of emission controls on carbon dioxide, which fits in very nicely with the ongoing War on Coal conducted by the EPA and the White House — and with the editorial policies of the New York Times — coal being the most prolific source of CO2.

It is ironic that while coal use is increasing rapidly in China and India, it is also increasing in Europe where governments have been anti-CO2 fanatics in the past but have decided to stop nuclear power, which emits no CO2 whatsoever.

In the United States, requirements are being set up to capture CO2 from smoke stacks of power plants and store it underground.  Carbon Capture and Sequestration is a difficult and costly undertaking, and has never been demonstrated on a commercial scale.  There have even been calls for sucking CO2 out of the global atmosphere, which sounds like an impossible task — and in any case, would be very, very expensive.

And to what purpose?  As pointed out many times, CO2 is beneficial for agriculture.  As a natural fertilizer, it accelerates the growth of crops.  Czech physicist Lubos Motl has calculated that if it were indeed possible to reduce CO2 levels to their pre-industrial value, global agriculture would suffer a strong decline and billions of people would starve to death.

But perhaps this level of population control is what the climate fanatics are really after.  They have always maintained that the Earth suffers from over-population and that the number of people needs to be reduced to protect natural values — a truly misanthropic scheme.  In 1974, the Club of Rome group published a detailed study, predicting that a billion people would die of starvation, beginning in the 1980s and peaking in 2010.  One of the proponents of this thesis is now the White House science adviser.

[Originally published at the American Thinker.]
Categories: On the Blog

Net Neutrality and the Internet

January 22, 2014, 2:33 PM

The Left’s mantra has always been “Progress.”  And by that they mean delivering the societal and cultural wrecking ball – smashing all that stands in its way as it swings towards Utopia.

Their idee de guerre?  Progressivism.

Progressivism is a general political philosophy based on the Idea of Progress that asserts the advances in science, technology, economic development, and social organization, can improve the human condition.

Their slogans? Variations on “Forward.”  (Which has a rich century-plus Communist tradition.)

President Barack Obama chose “Forward” as his 2012 reelection theme.  Uber-Left ridiculous television network MSNBC has for years used “Lean Forward.”

I guess they chose those because “Great Leap Forward” was already taken – by China’s murderer-of-sixty-million Communist dictator Mao Tse-tung.

But with all of this focus of Progress and Forward – the Left is awfully anti-progress. And anti-science, anti-technology and anti-economic development.

And remarkably impervious to facts.  It is not as if we haven’t yet seen how their approach turns out.  We spent most of the 20th Century trying the Progressive model – and it was a titanic failure.  How’s the Soviet Union doing?  That German Wall?

Mao’s China tried Progressivism for a disastrous half century – and are slowly ceding to Reality.  An unyielding Communist nation doesn’t become the world’s manufacturer.

Yet our domestic Progressives rigidly insist on plowing Backward.  As we yet again saw after the D.C. Circuit Court threw out President Barack Obama’s illegal imposition of Network Neutrality.

Net Neutrality is Progressivism for the Internet – it guarantees everyone equal amounts of nothing.  The Left made up Net Neutrality in 2003 – and has spent the last decade screeching that without it the Internet was perpetually on the verge of collapse.

All the while it has rapidly developed into a free speech-free market Xanadu.  No human endeavor in history has grown bigger or faster than the World Wide Web.  It is perhaps the single greatest example of what happens when you keep the Progressives and their government out.

Keeping the government out of the Web is exactly what Congress did the last time they addressed tech policy – with the1996 Telecommunications Act.  Note that Net Neutrality was invented seven years after the Act – meaning Congress couldn’t possibly have called for the government to impose it.

Congress in the Act did say that the Net was so nascent and so new – it should be left alone.  As always, amazing things happen when the government leaves things alone.

Progressives watched this unfettered growth – and grew increasingly freaked.  They tried to come up with any story that would engender any support for an Internet regulatory hook – so that they could then being reeling it in.  Thus Net Neutrality – about which an avowed Marxist proponent said:

“At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.

How very Hugo Chavez of them.  Shockingly, Net Neutrality never caught on with the American people.  Before the 2010 election, 95 Democrat candidates signed a Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) pledge in support of Net Neutrality – all 95 lost.

So immediately after that very anti-Net Neutrality election, President Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unilaterally imposed it.  Verizon Communications sued – eventually leading to last week’s ruling.

The Progressive response?  Go back in time to 1934 (and even before) – and illegally impose landline telephone regulations on the Web.  The government regulates the daylights out of landlines – so Progressives want the government to jam the Web in there too.  Which would allegedly allow them to reimpose Net Neutrality – and tax the Net, and….

This move is called Reclassification.

“The time for excuses and delays to the FCC doing its job and completing the (re)classification proceeding before it has now ended and I, for one, look forward to an end to both the heat and the open question of the FCC’s authority.

Gigi Sohn was the President of the Media Marxist outfit Public Knowledge when she wrote this – in August 2010.  Where is she now?  Working for Obama-appointee FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.  Where the Reclassification rule-making process is still open for imposition.

Instead of going back to the Great Depression and imposing those fabulous policies,…:

Congressional Leaders Call for Communications Act Makeover

Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) say it’s time to bring the 1996 law, which governs the nation’s communications networks, into the 21st century.

So the Republicans are proposing progress – and the Progressives want to go Backward seven decades.

We can write a new, updated, forward-looking, free market law – or Michael J. Fox our way back to the Depression and crush the Internet with a huge, antiquated, completely inapplicable regulatory superstructure.

I know which one I choose.  Forward!

[Originally published on Human Events]
Categories: On the Blog

The Difference a Governor Makes

January 21, 2014, 7:52 AM

Sarah Arnett, a Georgia State Ph.D. in public policy, has developed an index of state fiscal solvency that she presented at a meeting of the Association of Budgeting and Financial Management.

Some people have noticed that New Jersey – where GOP wunderkind Chris Christie is governor – ranks last among the 50 states. Putting lipstick onto this pig, Americans for Prosperity says, “Under Gov. Christie, modest pension and benefit reforms have been enacted. . . . Still, this report is indicative that New Jersey has a long way to go.”

Daniel Mitchell of the Cato Institute puts it this way:

And while Chris Christie may have taken a few steps to rein in excessive compensation for state bureaucrats (causing me to become giddy with infatuation), he still has a long way to go because the Garden State is in last place in this comprehensive new ranking of fiscal responsibility.

In both cases, the commentators attempted to cover the wound with a salve. New Jersey may be in bad shape, they say, but the big man is moving the state in the right direction. Possibly, the state will be 49th or even 48th next time. I thought to take a different tack, exploring the difference that a red governor makes in a blue state.

First, to put the issue into perspective, I constructed an index of my own, of the partisan orientation of state government. My index is equal to the average of three underlying measures:

  • How many years of the prior 10 has the state had a Republican governor, as opposed to a Democratic or an Independent governor?
  • By what margin, on average, have the Republicans or the Democrats controlled the upper house (Senate) of the state legislature, during the prior 10 years?
  • By what margin, on average, have the Republicans or the Democrats controlled the lower house (usually, the House of Representatives) of the state legislature, during the prior 10 years?

In the case of New Jersey, at the time Dr. Arnett constructed her index of state solvency, the state had a Republican governor for three of the prior 10 years. Also, the Democrats had large but less than two-thirds majorities in both the state Senate and the House of Representatives during each of the prior 10 years. So, the state was pretty much a Democratic state. Christie was and remains an elephant amongst a herd of donkeys.

To be more specific, in the component for governors of my index, for each year of the prior 10 a state has a Republican governor, it gets a plus 1, and for each year it has a Democratic governor, a minus 1. Any years with an Independent governor is given a zero (as though giving a zero means something). These numbers are then added and divided by 10 to give a scale that ranges from minus 1 to plus 1 where minus 1 represents only Democratic governors and plus 1 only Republican governors.

In the components of my index for each of chamber of the state legislature, for each year of the prior 10 a state has a two-thirds or higher Republican majority, it gets a plus 1, and for each year it has a two-thirds or higher Democratic majority, a minus 1. In years in which neither party has a two-thirds majority, that chamber gets a number between minus 1 and plus 1 reflecting the size of the majority. A chamber that, in a particular year, has exactly a 50/50 split gets a zero. These numbers are then added and divided by 10 to give scales that range from minus 1 to plus 1 where minus 1 represents all two-thirds or higher Democratic majorities, and plus 1 all two-thirds or higher Republican majorities.

I then averaged the scales of my components, three for all states except Nebraska and two for Nebraska, to get my index of the partisan orientation of state government.[1]

In the case of New Jersey, while the Democrats have controlled both chambers of the state legislature each year of the past 10, they have had less than two-thirds majorities. The component scores for each chamber were thus not minus 1, but minus 0.41 for the state Senate and minus 0.68 for the state House. The state’s overall index of partisanship was minus 0.46.

In the accompanying chart, you can find the dot representing New Jersey by, first, looking to the bottom of the chart (where “50,” being the lowest rank, is placed) and, then, looking to the left. You can see that while state government in New Jersey is relatively Democratic, it is not the most Democratic state government. That honor belongs to West Virginia. West Virginia may be a red state when it comes to Presidential elections nowadays, but it has a decidedly blue state government.

Over on the right side of the chart are the relatively Republican state governments. Two – Idaho and Utah – have scores of plus 1. A total of six have scores higher than plus 0.75. Thus, there are more rock-ribbed Republican state governments than there are Democratic. Contributing to the dearth of solidly Democratic state governments is the tendency of the people in blue states to elect Republican governors. During the prior 10 years, these cross-dressers included Linda Lingle of Hawaii, Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island, Jim Douglas of Vermont and – most obviously – Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming are three counter-examples. Blue governors in red states.

The tendency of Americans to vote for divided government has received some attention. One rationalization is that many people want both what is offered by the compassionate “mommy party” of the Democrats and by the disciplinarian “daddy party” of the Republicans. These people, it is said, want the programs offered by the first, and the fiscal solvency offered by the second. As is evident in the scatterplot, there is a positive correlation between the degree to which state governments are Republican, and their rankings in the new index of state solvency.[2]

But, there is more to state government than balancing the books. State governments tax and regulate, provide for roads, schools and public safety, and also provide a social safety net. The overall impact on the quality of life could be said to result from the mix of policies of state government, and the efficiency with which state government operates. We might imagine that the bad effects of taxes are off-set by the good effects of roads, schools and public safety, when the taxes are spent on those priorities. But, we might suspect that highly progressive taxes, complicated tax structures, onerous regulations, and overly generous welfare programs, result in more harm than good.

To look at the impact of the partisan orientation of state government on the quality of life, I correlated my index against the CNBC Top States for Business and the Forbes Best States for Business rankings.

The CNBC rankings are based on 51 underlying measures organized into six components (education, infrastructure, innovation, business friendliness, access to capital and cost of living). The Forbes rankings involved 35 data points organized into a different set of six components (business cost, labor supply, environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life). Both of these sets of rankings tell us that the more Republican are state governments, the better is the overall quality of life.[3]

To return to the original question – what difference does a governor make – the answer would appear to be not very much if the legislature is solidly of the other persuasion. In the case of Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, he famously vetoed several provisions of Romneycare, which the legislature – each chamber of which had a greater than two-thirds Democratic majority – promptly over-rode. In the case of Chris Christie, his veto of an increase in the state’s minimum wage was effectively over-ridden by the state legislature when it put the matter before the people in the form of a ballot question.

The real impact of governors may be whether they are transformational, not merely whether they are re-elected. In particular, with red governors in blue states and visa versa, do they change the partisan orientation of their states, or do they leave office with essentially the same partisan orientation with which they entered?

[1] I got almost all the numbers for the partisan composition of state legislatures from the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Nebraska has a unicameral state legislature. That body is characterized as non-partisan.  I found the political affiliation of its members in the state’s biennial Blue Book.

[2] Yes, the correlation is statistically significant.

[3] See footnote 2.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: The Future of Obamacare

January 21, 2014, 3:18 AM

We live in a post-Obamacare world now. The only questions are what we do about it. Avik Roy and Benjamin Domenech discuss the future of Obamacare in this cross-post to the Heartland Dailiy Podcast.

Two of the best health care experts in the country note that America’s health care delivery system was far from optimal before Obamacare was law As Avik Roy noted, it’s not like we had a free-market and efficiency-seeking system before Obama pushed his bill through Congress.

But by the time Obama is gone — and there are enough opponents of Obamacare in Congress to repeal the law in part or in whole — will it already be too late? Avik and Ben agree that we’re likely to end up with candidates who pledge to “fix it” in 2016. How effective those fixes will be after Obamacare made our health system worse is still an open question. “Repeal and Replace” may be the rallying cry of Republicans, but the “replace” portion will be the most important.

Avik and Ben discuss some great solutions to correct the mess we have today in our health system. Listen to this excellent podcast in the player above.

Read Avik’s essential The Apothecary blog at Forbes, and get Avik’s latest book, “How Medicaid Fails the Poor.” Also be sure to subscribe to Ben’s “Consumer Power Report” health care newsletter from Heartland, and put The Federalist into your RSS feeds.

To keep tabs on the latest smart takes on the news from a free-market perspective from Heartland, be sure to …

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Is This Any Way to Treat the Job Creators?

January 20, 2014, 9:46 PM

It’s no wonder that, as the New York Times (NYT) headline declared: “Growth in jobs slows sharply to 3-year low.” Addressing the Labor Department’s disappointing December Jobs Report, CNNMoney’s headline states: “2013 ends with weakest job growth in years.” USA Today called it a “Big miss” and CNBC’s Jim Cramer sees the 74,000 gain in payrolls as “A disastrous unemployment number.”

USA Today surveyed 37 economists whose median forecast for the December jobs number was a gain of 205,000 jobs.

Not only did the report’s 74,000 jobs gain fall far short of the 205,000 jobs forecast, it is not the only number that portends a job market about which CNNMoney believes: “suddenly looks a lot weaker than economists had thought.” USA Today points out: “For the year, employers added 2.18 million jobs, slightly fewer than 2012’s total of 2.19 million.” It adds: “Payroll growth was weak across the board, with education and health services, a reliable source of job growth even through the recession, adding no jobs.”

The NYT coverage of the report opens: “Just when it seemed as if the economy was finally accelerating, the latest employment figures once again confounded expectation of better days ahead.” Nelson D. Schwartz states: “The one apparent bright spot in Friday’s report—a sharp drop in the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent from 7 percent—was tarnished because it largely resulted from people exiting the work force rather than because they landed jobs. The work force shrank by 347,000 in December, reversing a big gain from November, and returning the proportion of Americans in the labor force to its October level of 62.8 percent, the lowest in 35 years.” He points out: “Areas of the economy that had been healthy for most of 2013 reversed course as the year drew to a close, significantly cutting into overall job creation.” Schwartz concludes: “Employment is still about two million below where it was when the recession started.”

With even the friendlies firing shots at the “disastrous unemployment number,” the White House tried to get out in front of the story by holding a Tuesday, January 14, meeting with the Cabinet, where President Obama aimed to pick up “the pace of his jobs message.” According to the Associated Press (AP), White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer sent out an email Tuesday morning to the White House list of supporters claiming: “The president will use every tool he can to create jobs and opportunities for the middle class.” The AP article highlights Obama’s “determination to use the power of executive orders and administrative actions . . . to help advance his agenda.”

While I oppose this administration’s fondness for skirting Congress through the use of executive orders, here’s a case where an “executive order or administrative action” could really help “pick up the pace of the jobs message.”

If President Obama truly wanted to “create jobs and opportunities for the middle class,” he could tell the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to work with—instead of against—people and companies who are ready to risk their capital in the development of our natural resources and create jobs.

While I am sure my readers could cite many similar stories, this one involves mining and mules. I have addressed this specific case three times before—first, July 2010, when the USFS approved the “Plan of Operation” for the Finley Basin Exploration Project in Montana.

My first column on this provides thorough details and I encourage you to read it, as you will be appalled by how the USFS works—and now, three and a half years later, it has only gotten worse.

Back in the ‘70s Union Carbide drilled several exploration holes on the site, “which is rated as having moderate to high mineral potential for the majority of the area.” It is believed that there is a minimum of $250 million in tungsten—which we currently import from China—and that the site also has potential copper, silver, molybdenum, and gold.

At the time I originally addressed this project, an Australian company wanted to invest in America, bring outside dollars in, and create jobs by exploring and developing the Finley Claims. But the USFS was so difficult to work with, after spending more that $500,000 over two years, the company finally packed up and went home.

The June 10, 2010, “Decision Memo” states that in order to explore the previously drilled sites, miners will have to “use a team of mules” and that “hand tools will be used to level the drilling pad and clear rocks, debris and any small shrubs.” Additionally, “all disturbances would be reclaimed using hand tools.”

Reading the Decision Memo, one gets the feeling that the USFS would rather not approve the mining proposal, but there were no real grounds not to. While explaining the “rationale” for the decision, the memo states that the company has the “legal right to conduct exploration activities” and that “The role of the Forest Service is to ensure that mining activities minimize adverse environmental effects. Congress has not given the Forest Service authority to unreasonably circumscribe or prohibit reasonably necessary activities under the 1872 General Mining Law that are otherwise lawful.”

After the Australians left, the 276 claims were purchased by experienced miners. Together, the partners in Finley Mining Inc. have more than 80 years experience in mining—with one having expertise in permitting and exploration and the other in project development and production.

Because the whole mule idea was unfeasible for the size and weight of the required equipment, the new owners submitted a revised Plan of Operations that allowed for use of the existing road Union Carbide built in the ‘70s. Despite the “Inventoried Roadless Area” designation, the old road is regularly used by off-highway vehicles for recreation. The road is totally usable and doesn’t require any construction. Yet, the USFS is treating the road as “new construction” and therefore denied the plan. The experienced partners have, in the past two-and-a-half years, now submitted five different plans of operation. Each time, the USFS comes back with some new ridiculous questions, such as: “In what order do you plan to drill the holes?”

The frequent excuse revolves around the various regulations—complying with the National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Land Management and Policy Act, and other Environmental Protection Agency rules and regulations. The USFS Specialists claim they are underfunded and understaffed and are unable to do the processes required before granting a permit.

Meanwhile, to hold the claims, these potential job creators, have to pay $40,000 a year to the Bureau of Land Management. They have spent more than $200,000 for applications, preparing the Plan of Operations, and on consultants and are no further along than they were three-plus years ago.

Since the USFS doesn’t have the staff or the budget to comply with the law, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars they’ve already taken in on this one project, Finley Mining Inc. has offered to hire approved contractors who can do the needed surveys.

The Mining Act of 1872, as revised, lays out the rules and regulations in which exploration and production on federal lands can be conducted and does allow for mining activity within Inventoried Roadless Areas—as the original Decision Memo acknowledges. Access cannot be denied to someone who has a claim. Yet, access is denied.

This one project would employ 10 people in the initial exploration phase. Assuming the resource proves up, as the original drilling on these sites indicated, more drilling will take place and, in addition to the drill site workers, biologists, engineers, economists, and geologists will be needed for analysis. If all goes as expected, Finley Mining Inc. projects a minimum of 300 people would be hired for the construction and mining phases. The nearby Stillwater Mining has 1,740 employees.

If the USFS encouraged expansion, rather than simply interpreting and enforcing regulations, and managed the forest for the multiple use their mission mandates, the 300 construction workers could now be receiving a paycheck and paying taxes. Instead, we have policy-induced poverty.

If President Obama is serious about using “every tool he can to create jobs and opportunities for the middle class,” instead of appointing a new commission or doing a study, he’d issue an administrative action telling the USFS to comply with the law, to process permits within the 30 days required, and sign off on the Plan of Operations when it meets the existing requirements.

On Wednesday, January 15, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) spoke at a forum on U.S. energy policy. He addressed the Keystone pipeline, saying that the president’s “delay in deciding the pipelines fate” is making it “harder for a Democrat to defend some of the Washington Democrat’s agenda.” According to the Real Clear Politics report, He also “criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for failing to call a vote on EPA regulation reforms” and is trying to “get Harry to look at the hard-rock mining.”

Yes, if Obama wants to use “every tool he can to create jobs and opportunities for the middle class,” he has plenty of them. The Finley Basin is an easy one. So is approving the Keystone pipeline.

Unfortunately for America’s un—and under—employed, reality tells us that the January 14 promise is just more hyperbole, more campaign-style platitudes. Is this any way to treat the job creators?

Categories: On the Blog

Where the U.S. Economy Is Going, and Why

January 20, 2014, 8:13 AM

The U.S. employment news on January 10 sharply contradicted the oft-repeated refrain that economic growth was beginning to accelerate. Employers added only 74,000 jobs in December, the smallest job increase in three years and far below the 200,000 expected. The new number was well below the 182,000 average for all of 2012 and 2013 through November and less than the approximately 150,000 needed for population growth and replacing retirees.

The dismal number of new jobs was blamed in part on severe weather and increased retirements from an aging population, but too much importance should not be assigned to these factors. The really severe, record-breaking weather so far this winter occurred in early January so would not be reflected in the December figures. And the loss of jobs among prime-age workers was far larger than for older ones. Among workers ages 45 to 54, the labor participation rate dropped 0.4% to 79.2%, the lowest since 1988. For workers 55 and older, the rate was only down 0.1 percent.

The jobless rate fell to 6.7% from 7%, but most of the people responsible for the decline simply dropped out of the labor force. Less than one-third of them found a job; the rest just quit looking for one, perhaps too discouraged to continue. In December, 2.6 million workers were looking for a job for more than a year. The most significant job gains (55,000) were in low paying jobs, and 40,000 others were for temporary help. Those aren’t signs of a healthy economy.

Total employment is still about 2 million less than when the recession started. That is a shocking figure, but perhaps the most shocking statistic of all is that the labor participation rate is the lowest in 35 years, going all the way back to 1978.

The graph shows that the poor performance during Obama’s presidency essentially took place after the end of the recession. He took office on January 20, 2009, and the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. (The graph ends with a slight uptick as of Q3 2013, but the 1.8% gain was lost in the fourth quarter of 2013.)

Scarcely three weeks after Obama’s inauguration, Congress on February 14 passed his $787 billion stimulus bill (later adjusted to $812 billion.) When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.4%. The Obama administration promised that if the stimulus bill was passed, the rate would not exceed 8%, and Obama himself stated it would decline to 5.6% by July 2012.  Instead the rate rose to 10% and remained above 9% for more than forty months.

The argument that Obama inherited a severe recession that requires a longer recovery time is without merit, says John B. Taylor, an economics professor at Stanford University. He cites the research of Michael Bordo and Joseph Haubrich of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank as having “blown holes in that argument.” He writes:

Recoveries from deep recessions with financial crises have been stronger, not weaker, than recoveries following shallower recessions. These strong recoveries average about 6% real GDP growth per year, compared to only 2% per year in this recovery.

With holes blown in this possible defense of Obama’s record, it is clear that the blame for the poor economy from 2009 to today in 2014 rests entirely on the misguided policies of Obama.

The administration said the stimulus spending would create three to four million new jobs. Of course, the unemployment figures alone tell you that never happened. And the jobs that were created were incredibly costly and wasteful. According to the Congressional Budget Office, every job created by the stimulus program cost the taxpayers between $500,000 and $4 million.

The idea that government spending would stimulate the economy can be traced to John Maynard Keynes. He claimed government spending produced a multiplier effect through a chain reaction of additional spending in the economy. The gigantic spending of the stimulus program was sold to Congress on the basis of a Keynesian multiplier of 1.5, meaning the GDP will increase by $1.50 for every dollar of government spending.

But in my new book, The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, I point out that extensive research has shown the Keynesian multiplier is always less than 1.0. That means the money that is spent over and over again in the private sector from the government spending is always less than the cost of the programs. If it weren’t, the U.S., Greece, and other spendthrift countries wouldn’t be going broke—they’d be getting richer the more they spent!

My book quotes Brian Westbury, former chief economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, who wrote “the larger the government share of GDP, the higher the unemployment rate. In other words, when it comes to jobs, government spending has a multiplier of less than one—government spending destroys jobs.” Also, Harvard Professor Robert Barro, who has studied Keynesian multipliers as thoroughly as anyone, concludes, “There is no meaningful theoretical or empirical support for the Keynesian position.”

Franklin Roosevelt adopted Keynes’ economic ideas to try to pull the country out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, but extensive research has shown the opposite effect: they prolonged the depression. It should not be a surprise that similar policies by Obama produced similar effects regardless of promises of “hope and change” and exclamations of “Yes we can!”

The futility of the Keynesian approach was explained to the House Ways and Means committee late in FDR’s second term by his treasury secretary and good friend Henry Morgenthau Jr. On May 9, 1939, he testified: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work….After eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started….And an enormous debt to boot.” In May 1939 the unemployment rate edged above 20%.

Hunter Lewis, author of the book Where Keynes Went Wrong, says, “There is no evidence” that spending ever cured a recession, and Keynes “wasn’t particularly interested in evidence.” Keynes believed spending—for anything—was the driver of the economy. He even endorsed printing money with expiration dates so people would be forced to spend it. That, of course, would destroy savings, leaving the people unable to provide for their future (and dependent on the government), and eliminate investments needed for economic growth. Lewis says Keynes:

suggested that the government could print new money. That money would flow into the economy in the form of debt, and that would take the place of savings, but there is just no evidence for that at all, there is no logic behind that. In fact, if you want a good economy, what you need is savings, and you need then to invest those savings, and you need to invest those savings in a wise way. . . . Of course, Keynes completely ignores the issue of how you are investing. For him, not only is any investment equivalent to any other investment, but spending is equivalent to investment. (Emphasis added.)

Of course, if that is the case then it is unimportant that every new job from the stimulus program costs $500,000 to $4 million. That investment is as good as any other. If that doesn’t work, print more money. The important thing is the spending. In an article in Redbook magazine in 1934, in answer to the question “Can America spend its way into recovery,” Keynes answered, “Why, obviously, the very behavior that would make a man poor, could make a nation wealthy.”

Keynes intent was “positive social improvements,” namely, the redistribution of wealth. In his 1940 book, How to Pay for the War, Keynes wrote, “I have endeavored to snatch from the exigency of war positive social improvements. The complete scheme now proposed…embodies an advance toward economic equality greater than any which we have made.” (Emphasis added.)

You can see why Keynes’ ideas are so appealing to Obama, who in December 2013 declared economic inequality is the “Defining challenge of our time. . . . That’s why I ran for president. . . . It drives everything I do in this office.”

On the floor of the Constitutional Convention on June 26, 1787, Alexander Hamilton declared, “Inequality will exist as long as liberty exists. It unavoidably results from that very liberty itself.” Our Founding Fathers chose liberty; Obama has chosen economic equality—necessarily at the expense of liberty. When he told “Joe the Plumber” during the presidential campaign in 2008 , “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” he was advocating the redistribution of wealth at the expense of not only Joe’s liberty and property but of his inalienable right to use his own money for the pursuit of his own happiness. The Founders expected property rights to be the principal means for exercising that right. The distribution of wealth was to be determined not by force but by freedom, not by government but left to the people to determine for themselves by exercising their rights. It would be whatever distribution results from the labor of free men and their free (voluntary) exchanges with each other. A free-market economy is the only one appropriate for a free people.

The word “liberty” is mentioned in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The former says it is an “unalienable right” in the famous phrase that links it to the rights to life and the pursuit of happiness. The Premable of the Constitution gives “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” as a reason to “establish this Constitution.” Nowhere do either of these two founding documents of our government mention economic equality or redistribution of wealth. The “defining challenge” of our time is not economic inequality. It is preventing people such as Obama from perverting his office and our Constitution and making the U.S. more representative of Karl Marx’s class warfare and his dictum “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need” than to the ideas of our Founding Fathers.

The “transformational change” Obama promised has been very expensive. Regulations have proliferated. On August 1, 2013, Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum, testified before a congressional subcommittee that “major” regulations (those costing $100 million or more) and the amount of federal paperwork “have increased significantly over the last five years.” He also said that delays are often the result of “hundreds of new requirements from Dodd-Frank and the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare].” He noted, too, that there are more than 9,100 different collections of information for managing the regulatory programs.

In 2010 Congress passed 129 private-sector mandates, the highest ever recorded. In addition to recording the sheer number of mandates, the Congressional Budget Office records whether mandates exceed the statutory threshold (currently $150 million) under the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act. In 2010, Congress passed 25 mandates that would likely exceed the statutory threshold, easily the highest figure on record and more than triple the yearly average from 2002 to 2008. In 2011 more than 340 regulations (“major” as well as lesser ones) were proposed, and the Federal Register noted that more than 4,200 others were in the pipeline.

The CBO also tracks the unfunded mandates on states and local entities. In 2009 and 2010 there were 116 of these unfunded mandates.

Batkins noted, “It is clear that current regulatory burdens have legislative roots of historic proportions. These figures on mandates are important because they eventually become federal regulations and translate into real costs for private entities and states.”

In addition to tracking mandates and rulemakings, the American Action Forum tracks the paperwork burden imposed by federal agencies. “Based on our current data for 2013, the federal government has imposed 85 million paperwork burden hours…[and] Americans spend more than 10.34 billion hours annually completing federal paperwork. The supposed cost for this paperwork is $72.8 billion, or $7.04 per hour, less than the federal minimum wage. There are two other measures to monetize the nation’s 10.34 billion hour burden: the median wage of a ‘compliance officer’ ($31.23) or the real Gross Domestic Product per hour worked ($60.59). Using these two figures, the monetized burden of federal paperwork ranges from $322 to $626 billion annually. These figures include only the paperwork costs of regulation, not deadweight losses or other capital costs.

“It is undeniable that federal red tape is growing, and will likely continue to trend upwards with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank. Based on the most recent Information Collection Budget of the U.S., the federal government added 355 million hours in the last fiscal year. To put this figure in perspective, assuming a 2,000-hour work year, it would take 177,500 employees to comply with the new paperwork. Added regulatory burdens, however, should not be thought of as a jobs program.”

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs reported that 2012 was the costliest year on record, at $29.5 billion (in 2001 dollars) and surpassed the second highest total by 57%.

Duplication resulted in huge costs. Based on 17 areas of duplication, the AAF “found 642 million paperwork hours, $46 billion in costs, and 990 forms of federal overlap. For example, ten different agencies are involved in renewable energy programs and produce 96 related forms.” There were more than 600 different forms relating to veterans’ claims, “imposing millions of paperwork burden hours.”

All of these regulatory measures cost a great deal of money. They impose enormous costs on the private sector, making it increasing difficult for the economy to grow. But the largest and most dangerous cost is the one that will be paid by everyone for the destruction of the dollar through Keynesian spending by the government and Keynesian printing of money by the Federal Reserve. In his first term of office, Obama added as much to the national debt as all the presidents from George Washington through George W. Bush combined. In the 15 months following collapse of the housing/mortgage bubble in 2008, the Fed created more money than in all the years combined since 1913 when it was founded.

The recent 19-day partial shutdown of the federal government over raising the national debt ceiling shows it is politically impossible to avert the coming disaster. The fight over the debt ceiling was not about actually cutting government spending—making government live within its means—but about raising the debt ceiling so spending could be increased.

Obama had previously appointed a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed by Erskine Bowles and Allan Simpson, both highly respected. This sounded good. It allowed the president to pretend he was serious about the problem. He even promised, “Once The Bipartisan Fiscal Commission Finishes its work, I will spend the next year making the tough choices necessary to further reduce our deficit and lower our debt.”

That promise was worth as much as his promise that people could keep their health insurance. That he was insincere about promising to reduce the debt was evident when it came time for dealing with the budget deficit and the national debt ceiling. He totally ignored his NCFRR commission’s calls for immediate and steep cuts and instead insisted on further increases in spending. Finally, the Republicans, anxious to avoid another government shutdown, agreed to a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would pile another $45 billion onto the $17 trillion national debt. The agreed compromise does nothing to reduce government spending, merely kicks the can a little further down the road.

Continuing to increase federal spending is far more serious than might appear. More is at stake here than simply passing a huge cost onto our children and grandchildren—which would be bad enough in itself, and immoral as well—but the problem is worldwide. Every central bank in the world is following the same Keynesian policies, which aren’t working, but they keep doing them anyway. The Fed, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of Japan, Switzerland and China have printed an astounding $10 trillion since 2007, tripling the size of their combined balance sheets. To expect governments to repair the economy is to expect the cause to be the cure.

The U.S. has not—yet—suffered the same results for its extravagant spending as, for example, Greece because of the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency dating from the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944. The dollar became the basis of international trade, but that status is being threatened by a loss of confidence because of our debt. Countries are starting to abandon the dollar as an intermediary in foreign trade, turning instead to other currencies and gold. China and Japan, the world’s second and third largest economies, have agreed to bilateral trade in their own currencies, the yuan and the yen, instead of using the dollar as an intermediary. Russia and China trade is in rubles and yuan. India no longer buys Iranian oil in dollars but in rupees. India and Japan have signed a new $15 billion currency swap. Brazil became the first South American country to sign a currency swap agreement with China. Reuters has reported, “France intends to set up a currency swap line with China to make Paris a major offshore yuan trading hub in Europe, competing against London.” South Africa, Venezuela, Germany, Cuba, Pakistan, Argentina and others are said to be set to join currency arrangements for trading without the dollar.

The BRICs (the large developing nations Brazil, Russia, India and China) are said to have agreed to trade in other currencies and periodically settle differences in gold. You can hear this and other interesting comments by Karen Hughes at “Karen Hudes Predicts “Permanent Gold Backwardation’.” She is a woman with 20 years experience at the World Bank, where she was general counsel. She is no longer at the bank, having departed after being a whistleblower on corruption at the bank.

In my book I noted that the argument put forth that 85% of foreign exchange transactions being denominated in dollars means the dollar won’t be displaced for a very long time. But that 85% figure developed from the dollar’s relative stability and safety over many decades. I wrote that the 85% would erode as people lost confidence in the dollar and that people will likely be surprised by the suddenness of its ultimate collapse. Now the movement away from the dollar is already underway and proceeding faster than I expected.

I shall close with mentioning an article on the problems facing the Federal Reserve, by Phil Gramm and Thomas R. Saving. Gramm, a Ph.D. and former U.S. senator, was a university professor of economics before turning to politics. Thomas Saving, Ph.D., is a professor of economics at Texas A&M university. Their article is quite technical so I won’t discuss it here. If interested, you may find it at the Wall Street Journal. I shall only quote their ending:

The full bill for this failed policy has yet to arrive. No such explosion of debt has ever escaped a day of reckoning and no such monetary surge has ever had a happy ending.

[First published at American Liberty.]

Categories: On the Blog

Truth and Trust Essential Before Electing Legislators

January 18, 2014, 4:24 AM

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy — which is always followed by a dictatorship.

How close is America to the tipping point in which we lose our republic? Our country certainly has declined morally and financially in the last few decades. Some are saying we are financially and morally bankrupt and even when the rule of law is applied, it is not always fair or honest.

Trust as defined by the dictionary means:

Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

Yes, that sums it up well! The very word — trust — evokes strong emotions within us, as it is an essential ingredient in all our relationships: our marriages, our children and friends. It is also essential in our businesses relationships, our doctors, and even in the very products we buy. When that trust is broken, it is often devastating and exceedingly difficult to regain. It can cause irreparable damage.

Why then do we so easily overlook an elected official who deceives and lies to be elected?  When they are elected and vote for laws we reject, and thus betray our trust, where is the public outrage? And most puzzling of all, why are they reelected?

Might it be that too many Americans are low information voters? Have we become a nation whose knowledge is largely limited to media sound-bites and newspaper headlines? Not knowing much about the candidates and their voting records or reputations, they often use their local newspaper’s recommendations for their ballot. How could they possibly know what the editors stand for, let alone the candidates or ballot propositions. It must be every citizen’s responsibility to discover if a candidates kept his/her promises and background.

Insight into this disconnect between voters and their legislators has a direct tie to Congressional approval statistics. For 2012 it was 15% and in 2013 it was 14%, the lowest in Gallup history. Apparently everyone blames the poor performance of congress on representatives from all the other states, falsely thinking their official performed according to his campaign promises. Until we hold our own representatives accountable, this trend will continue.

A case might be made that it is difficult to keep track of every public official’s political track record. Fair enough, but how about using the President of the United States as an example? Has he kept his promises; has he told the truth? While running for reelection in 2011 and speaking at fundraising events, President Barack Obama took credit for enacting a majority of his agenda during his then nearly three years in office. He claimed to have fulfilled 60 percent of them. But even by the most lenient standards, his percent of fulfilling promises was at best just 30 percent. Even more important, the promises he did not keep were the ones he emphasized most and which helped elect him.

Candidate Obama promised transparency and a new culture of cooperation in Washington D.C., one in which he would reach across the aisle to Republicans. He called it a climate of cooperation.  But once the dust had settled from the election, and seeing that his party had gained a majority in both houses, Obama no longer needed to consider the opinions of Republicans. He not only ignored Republicans, he ignored the majority of citizens as he worked with a select group of his party members to craft the Stimulus Bill, which did not go for the purposes he promised, and the controversial Affordable Care Act, which is proving disastrous. The negotiations for both laws were conducted in a manner far from Obama’s campaign promises. Republicans were ignored in the crafting of the Affordable Care Act; it did not receive a single Republican vote.

Obama quickly broke his campaign promise of transparency. He promised to post all bills online 5 days before he would sign them. That did not happen! Thus, Nancy Pelosi’s famous comment, “We have to pass the healthcare bill to know what is in it,” was painfully accurate.

President Obama is now half way through his second term. At one time Obama indicated that the separation of powers are the key to our republic. Yet several days ago Obama announced that he would assume lawmaking powers via a pen to executive orders and a phone to call supporters for help. That brazen, authoritarian, and dangerous threat was an insult to his oath to uphold our constitution. The very reason for a republic and separation of powers is so that one person or one of the ruling bodies cannot dominate. It is a safeguard. We should be concerned when a president misuses and abuses his “executive order” privilege.

What is taking place in the oval office by this president is disturbing. When a president begins to overreach his authority, Congress should be front and center condemning it. To date nobody in his party has spoken out against this threat. The media has not clamored to their computers to expose this dangerous threat. Partisan politics is unhealthy when it reaches this point. It is times like this that the public must speak up and demand action.

Another issue of concern at present is the unprecedented removal of those in command of the military and their replacements by the Obama administration. Military careers have been abruptly ended with forced retirements. The obvious question we all should be asking is, why? Some have suggested It would be frightening if done to silence critics of the administration or to purge those who refuse to carry out what they consider illegal and/or immoral acts somewhere down the road. Others are just concerned it compromises our safety to reduce experienced, dedicated military personnel when we live in an uncertain and violent world.

Admittedly there are some honest, hardworking elected officials, but evidence indicates there are many who deceive voters to win elections and then govern in a manner far from what they promised. That will continue as long as the public remains uninterested and/or too busy to pay attention and hold them accountable. We all need to remember their campaign promises and closely examine their actions. Encourage those who do keep promises and support their reelection, but work to remove and replace those who disappoint.

Together we can make a positive difference if we make voting decisions based on what legislators do, not what they say they will do. Hope for our future will not be found in one person, even if he or she is the President. America’s fate will be determined by “we the people” at the grassroots level. That is a privilege that has made America the envy of the World.

We are the masters of our own destiny. We hold the fate of this nation in our hands. Will you take the challenge given by Benjamin Franklin centuries ago? Will you help protect our republic by voting wisely?

Bonnie O’Neil is the co-author of this post.

[AUTHORS' NOTE: This is but a prelude to a series of articles written by Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O'Neil in an effort to alert voters as to the importance of knowing the candidates and what they stand for. For only in doing so will this nation survive the assault that has been leveled upon it since our Founding Fathers gave us what is a remarkable document in our Constitution to serve as a signpost for this nation, a nation that grew and prospered under that amazing document. However, we should also remember the words of Benjamin Franklin as he left the hall after negotiating the Constitution in Philadelphia. Asked by a member of the gathered crowd what the authors had decided, Franklin replied "We have given you a republic, if you can keep it". What prompted that remark? The authors and signers of the Constitution knew the potential danger of a Republic is the people. Our Country's success or failure lies in the hands of voters, whose responsibility is to investigate and elect representatives who are patriots; men and women who are willing to jealously guard the constitution, and who will continually put country over personal gain.]
Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Verizon vs. FCC and the Future of Net Neutrality

January 18, 2014, 2:24 AM

The D.C. Circuit Court this week struck down the Federal Communication Commission’s 2010 “net neutrality” rule requiring Internet service providers to treat all traffic across their networks the same – discriminating against none and favoring none. The court also, however, ruled the FCC may impose its net neutrality rule if it reclassifies broadband as a “common carrier” as it does telephone service.

On this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Jim Lakely, co-director of Heartland’s Center on the Digital Economy, and Ryan Radia of the Competitive Enterprise Institute discuss the ramifications of this decision. It’s the second time in three years the D.C. Circuit has declared illegal the FCC’s attempts to impose binding net neutrality regulations.

As Lakely said in Heartland’s group press release about the decision:

It is fortunate the Circuit Court did not endorse the FCC’s imposition of net neutrality rules under its ‘general authority.’ That is an improper FCC power grab not delegated to it by Congress via the Communications Act. However, the ruling all but urges the FCC to reclassify broadband under ‘Title II’ as a telecommunications common carrier. Such a designation does not fit the character and purpose of broadband services and would distort the digital marketplace in a way that would discourage innovation and arbitrarily pick winners and losers in the digital economy.

Government-dictated net neutrality is a heavy-handed solution to a non-existent market failure. Supporters of a vibrant and innovative digital economy dodged a bullet today, but one gets the feeling it won’t be for long.

Listen to Lakely and Radia talk about this monumental decision in the player above. And to keep tabs on the latest smart takes on the news from a free-market perspective, be sure to …

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Dismantling the Regulatory State is a Good Place to Start

January 18, 2014, 1:21 AM

Every presidential administration issues rules and regulations, but President Obama and his administration head the pack of presidential peers in the use of regulations to legislate directly, skipping the legislative process by stretching the rules and regulations issued beyond the letter of the law upon which they were meant to be founded.

According to the annual analysis by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in 2013 the Obama administration issued 3,659 rules and regulations through its various agencies when only 65 Public Laws were passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. That averages out to 56 rules and regulations for every law passed by Congress. 

But consider the absurdity of a Los Angeles Times article which lamented that Congress was ineffective because it only passed a few laws in 2013, 65 to be exact. Were laws ever meant to be easy to pass? The 65 pubic laws passed in 2013 can be viewed here.

According to an article written by Sterling Burnett for the Daily Caller, we have an “imperial president” who rules through regulations. This concept dovetails with a stated commitment made more than once by President Obama in which he spoke of his  unwillingness to wait for Congress to act.

The 3,659 rules and regulations issued in 2013 offer irrefutable credence to President Obama’s determination to disallow the people’s representatives to have their say on climate climate change, illegal immigration, etc., as Obama dwells on his legacy while ignoring the Constitutional separation of powers.

It is because Congress abdicated its assigned role of legislating, preferring instead to delegate that task to executive agencies, that Obama is now the recipient of what Congress has allowed to happen since the beginning of the Progressive era in the late 19th and early 20th Century.  In the interim, Congress has not had the fortitude to hold Obama or any other president accountable for his power grabs, which have greatly increased in numbers over the years to the amazing figure of 3,659 rules and regulations issued last year by Obama and his administrative agencies.  The Courts have likewise been participating in the power grab.

One Executive Order issued in 2013 by President Obama, the Dream Act, has resulted in a new wave of illegal immigrants who subsequently have been allowed to jump the immigration queue to please the open borders lobby.   24,668 unaccompanied minors from Honduras, Guatemala, El Savador, and Mexico crossed the southern border in 2013.  In this nation illegally, they were placed in the care of a federal de facto baby-sitting service because no parents were around to care for them.  Parents have no qualms about sending their young people to the U.S. if it’s easier to residency illegally than legally.

Today, Monday, January 13, the boundaries of executive power will be tested when the Supreme Court considers whether President Obama violated the Constitution during his first term through his use of executive power. According to an article by Kevin Bogardus an Ben Goad on Sunday, January 12, oral argument will center on a trio of recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board that were deemed unconstitutional by lower courts.

To opponents of Obama’s run away regulatory power, the fight against the labor board (NLRB) is seen as a broader effort to stymie the Obama administration’s rules and regulations.

[First posted at Illinois Review.]

Categories: On the Blog

Colorado Bill Would Roll Back Renewable Mandates As Prices Soar

January 17, 2014, 10:37 PM

A Colorado Senate committee is in the process of discussing and debating a bill to roll back renewable power mandates enacted just last year. Because Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Colorado Senate, it will be a surprise if the bill makes its way through the state legislature’s upper chamber.

Nevertheless, the bill highlights rapidly rising electricity prices in the Centennial State and illustrates how voters and legislators are growing increasingly weary of paying these higher prices for renewable power.

Late last decade, momentum favored those who support mandatory quotas for expensive renewable power. Currently, 30 states have renewable power mandates, with most of the mandates enacted between 2004 and 2008. Colorado was an early player in the renewable mandates game, with a 2004 voter referendum first implementing the state’s mandates, and the state legislature toughening the mandates in 2007, 2010 and 2013.

The mandates are taking a painful toll on Colorado’s economy and consumers’ pocketbooks. Since first imposing renewable power mandates in 2004, Colorado electricity prices have risen much faster than the national average. Prices have risen 20 percent faster than the national average since 2004, and have risen more than double the national average since the legislature began ratcheting up the mandates in 2007.

Had Colorado electricity prices risen at merely the national average since 2007, Colorado electricity consumers would have saved $4.2 billion in electricity costs. Averaged out over Colorado’s nearly 2 million households, the average Colorado household has already paid an extra $2,100 in electricity costs (more than $350 per household per year) beyond what each household would have paid if the state’s electricity prices rose merely at the same pace as the national average since 2007.

Colorado Republican legislators are rightfully asking voters, “What would you do with an extra $2,100 this year?” Very few are answering, “Why, I’d joyfully hand it over to the renewable power industry, of course!”

With electricity prices rising dramatically in states with renewable power mandates, momentum has shifted in Colorado and throughout the nation. Only two states have enacted renewable power mandates since 2008, and none have done so since 2009. Several states considered bills last year to roll back their renewable power mandates, with states like Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio coming close to approving such rollbacks.

Now it is Colorado’s turn. Just last spring, with Senate Democrats holding a 20-15 advantage and Senate and House leadership assigning a high priority to ratcheting up the state’s renewable power mandates, the legislature passed SB 252, forcing rural Coloradans to purchase still more of their power from renewable sources. Coloradans took their revenge in the November elections, recalling Senate President and SB 252 sponsor John Morse, along with Sen. Angela Giron, who made the renewable power mandates one of her signature issues.

Colorado affordable energy proponents are feeling emboldened, and supporters of renewable power quotas are suddenly playing defense. Coming less than a year after Democrats pounded tougher mandates down Republicans’ throats, this is quite a development.

Renewable mandate supporters claim consumers are protected by language saying the renewable power mandates cannot add more than 2 percent to the cost of consumers’ electricity bills; up from a 1-percent cap prior to 2013. However, the asserted cap’s many loopholes and questionable definitions make Swiss cheese look like impenetrable sheet rock by comparison. Here are a few of the reasons why:

Does the legislation provide an objective formula for determining what portion of electricity price hikes are due to the renewable power mandates? – No.

Does the legislation designate an objective panel of nonpartisan economists to determine what portion of electricity price hikes are due to the renewable power mandates? – No.

By what means are price hikes traced back, or not traced back, to the renewable price mandates? – Political appointees of Gov. John Hickenlooper, an ardent supporter of renewable power mandates, make a subjective determination.

How well was the 1-percent cap enforced? – Since 2007 Colorado electricity prices have risen 27 percent, while U.S. prices have risen just 10 percent.

How well is the recently expanded 2-percent cap being enforced? – Colorado electricity prices rose 5 percent during the first 10 months of 2013 (October is the latest month for which the U.S. Energy Information Administration has published price data), while U.S. prices rose just 2 percent during that same span.

These price increases are predictable, indeed inevitable, when government forces consumers to purchase ever-increasing amounts of expensive renewable power.

I suspect that after this November’s elections, legislative rollback of the onerous renewable power mandates will be just as predictable, and just as inevitable, as the mandates’ painful toll on Colorado electricity customers.

[First published at Forbes.]

Categories: On the Blog