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Thinking the Unthinkable – Part II

October 22, 2014, 11:50 AM

In Scott Cleland’s recent piece titled, “Silicon Valley’s Biggest Internet Mistake,” he makes an important, too little addressed point: Were the FCC to classify Internet service as a “telecommunications” service under Title II of the Communications Act, this drastic step likely would have significant adverse international ramifications.

In a September 29 paper titled, “Thinking the Unthinkable: Imposing a ‘Utility Model’ on Internet Providers,” I explained, from a purely domestic policy perspective, why FCC imposition of the Title II common carrier utility model on broadband Internet providers should be “unthinkable.” The adverse international consequences provide another reason.

As Scott explains in his commentary:

Legally, “telecommunications” is what international treaties and agreements regulate like a utility, under the Constitution of the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Specifically, ITU agreement: ITU-T D.50, recognizes the sovereign right of each State to regulate “telecommunications” as that State determines. Apparently, Silicon Valley interests are blind to the many risks of “telecommunications” regulation to their foreign businesses….[T]he FCC reclassifying the American Internet as “telecommunications” predictably would invite most every other country to reclassify their Internet traffic as “telecommunications” too, so that they could impose lucrative price tariffs on Silicon Valley’s dominant share of Internet traffic into their countries.

This is not an unjustified concern. Indeed, there is rising apprehension in many quarters about the designs of many foreign countries harbor to exert more government control over Internet traffic within their own countries and, indeed, throughout the world through international organizations. Especially at a time when the U.S. has embarked on a process that is intended to lead to a new governance structure for ICANN, the FCC – and the entire U.S. government – ought to be concerned about actions here at home that are likely to be construed by foreign governments as authorizing more government interference in Internet operations.

In fact, this very concern regarding the international ramifications resulting from FCC adoption of net neutrality regulations was expressed by Ambassador Philip Verveer in May 2010 in his capacity as the State Department’s Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy. Of course, Philip Verveer now serves as Senior Counselor to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Answering a question at a Media Institute luncheon as the FCC was considering the then-pending net neutrality rulemaking, according to the report in Broadcasting & Cable, Ambassador Verveer said this:

“I can tell you from my travels around the world and my 
discussions with figures in various governments around the world there is a
very significant preoccupation with respect to what we are proposing with 
respect to broadband and especially with respect to the net neutrality.”

Most significantly, Ambassador Verveer went on to say that the net neutrality proceeding “is one that could 
be employed by regimes that don’t agree with our perspectives about essentially
 avoiding regulation of the Internet and trying to be sure not to do anything to
damage its dynamism and its organic development. It could be employed as a
 pretext or as an excuse for undertaking public policy activities that we would
 disagree with pretty profoundly.”

Of course, many others were saying much the same at the time, but Ambassador Verveer was subjected to a harsh attack by Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld for deviating from what Mr. Feld considered to be the established Democratic party line. He wondered how someone as experienced as Mr. Verveer “manage[d] to get so off message at precisely the wrong time.”

I happen to think that Mr. Verveer’s job was not primarily to stay “on message,” but rather to serve the American people by explaining the risks of adopting an ill-advised policy. I have known Phil Verveer since we served together at the FCC in the late 70s and early 80s, and I have a high regard for his qualifications and his dedication to public service. At the time of Mr. Feld’s attack, I defended him. And shortly thereafter, in the context of responding to another of Mr. Feld’s blogs, this time urging FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to act quickly to adopt net neutrality regulations “to fire up the base before the election,” I called Mr. Verveer a “stellar public servant.”

Nothing has changed my view that Phil Verveer is a stellar public servant. But I do wish he would avail himself of the opportunity once again to explain that the concerns he expressed in 2010, when he was responsible for coordinating international communications policy on behalf of the U.S., are still valid today. Regardless of whatever good intentions may be expressed, if the U.S. government adopts new net neutrality mandates, especially in conjunction with classifying Internet providers as “telecommunications” carriers, other countries may well use such action as an excuse or pretext for, in Ambassador Verveer’s words, “undertaking public policy activities that we would
 disagree with pretty profoundly.”

In other words, despite any protestations to the contrary uttered by U.S. officials, the FCC’s actions regulating Internet providers will speak louder than its words. Other countries, with obvious designs on exerting more control over Internet communications, and over international entities that play a role in managing Internet communications, will seize upon the FCC’s action as a justification.

Scott Cleland is right that this would not be good for Silicon Valley.

I would go further: When then-FCC Chairman Bill Kennard in 1999 rejected dumping what he called the telephone world’s “whole morass of regulation” on the then-emerging cable broadband systems, he concluded, “That is not good for America.”

Dumping the telephone world’s “whole morass of regulation” on broadband Internet providers still would not be good for America today. Indeed, it ought to be unthinkable.

[Originally published at The Free State Foundation]

Categories: On the Blog

‘This is not an Education Problem. This is a Government Problem’

October 22, 2014, 11:15 AM

The world needs more teachers like Susan Bowles. The kindergarten teacher at Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville risked her job to stand up for what she believes in.

What she believes is that conducting standardized testing three times a year, some of it required to be computerized, is simply not in the best interests of the kindergarten students she teaches.

Despite the risk of losing her job after 26 years of teaching, Bowles felt compelled to speak out.

And something amazing happened. Instead of her being fired or reprimanded, the policy was changed. The community rallied around Bowles after she took a stand. Now, K–2 grade students will not be required to take the FAIR tests that Bowles refused to administer.

In the letter Bowles wrote to parents, she explained that even though she would be in breach of contract, she couldn’t in good conscience give the test to her students. The FAIR testing would have meant kindergarten students being tested on a computer using a mouse, Bowles said.

Although many of her students are well-versed in using tablets or smart phones, most had not used a desktop computer before. Once an answer is clicked, even if a mistake was made and a student accidentally clicked the wrong place, there is no way to go back to correct it. This means the data that would have been collected would not have been accurate.

“While we were told it takes about 35 minutes to administer, we are finding that in actuality it is taking between 35-60 minutes per child,” Bowles wrote. “This assessment is given one-on-one. It is recommended that both teacher and child wear headphones during the test. Someone has forgotten there are other five-year-olds in our care.”

The problem is not with the people she works for, Bowles said. “This is not an education problem. This is a government problem,” she wrote.

Bowles was not directly named in the letter to parents from officials changing the testing policy, but the letter does mention the recent attention surrounding the issue.

Bowles was brave in facing down the school administration, state and local officials, and teachers unions who continually protect the status quo and each other. She stood up by herself with no way of knowing what the consequences would be.

Bowles told me she feels lucky to have had the opportunity to speak her mind, because her husband was supportive and her children are grown. After hearing the policy had changed, Bowles said, she “hugged, laughed, cried, and did a happy dance” with other teachers who had been waiting outside her classroom because they had already heard the news.

“I was surprised and pleased that they actually backtracked on the FAIR, suspending it for one year,” said Bowles, noting tension over standardized testing has increased because of Common Core. “Of course, the fear is it will be back next year with a few tweaks.

“This fight should continue — not just regarding the excessive testing that takes away from our children’s learning, but also for the standards that have been adopted that are not developmentally sound, at least for elementary students,” said Bowles. “I can speak for the elementary grades that any developmental psychologist or early childhood educator would tell you that these standards are inappropriate.”

Two bills have been introduced recently to decrease the federal footprint on standardized testing. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has spoken about the possibility of over-testing.

The hope is that these changes aren’t just lip service. Parents, teachers, and legislators will have to continue to fight for students and against the education establishment. The contrasting approaches of the federal government and Susan Bowles regarding how children should be educated suggest we all should support more local control rather than failing federal mandates.

Heather Kays ( is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of School Reform News.


[Originally published at The Tampa Tribune]

Categories: On the Blog

Roy Spencer: Why 2014 Won’t Be the Warmest Year on Record

October 22, 2014, 11:14 AM

Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a frequent presenter at Heartland’s climate conferences, is an invaluable and prominent voice among scientists who are righly skeptical about the hypothesis of man-caused climate change. In a post today, Dr. Spencer throws a lot of cold water on the idea that 2014 is shaping up to be the “warmist year on record.”

Much is being made of the “global” surface thermometer data, which three-quarters the way through 2014 is now suggesting the global average this year will be the warmest in the modern instrumental record. I claim 2014 won’t be the warmest global-average year on record … if for no other reason than this: thermometers cannot measure global averages — only satellites can. The satellite instruments measure nearly every cubic kilometer – hell, every cubic inch — of the lower atmosphere on a daily basis. You can travel hundreds if not thousands of kilometers without finding a thermometer nearby.

(And even if 2014 or 2015 turns out to be the warmest, this is not a cause for concern…more about that later).

The two main research groups tracking global lower-tropospheric temperatures (our UAH group, and the Remote Sensing Systems [RSS] group) show 2014 lagging significantly behind 2010 and especially 1998:

With only 3 months left in the year, there is no realistic way for 2014 to set a record in the satellite data.

Granted, the satellites are less good at sampling right near the poles, but compared to the very sparse data from the thermometer network we are in fat city coverage-wise with the satellite data.

In my opinion, though, a bigger problem than the spotty sampling of the thermometer data is the endless adjustment game applied to the thermometer data. The thermometer network is made up of a patchwork of non-research quality instruments that were never made to monitor long-term temperature changes to tenths or hundredths of a degree, and the huge data voids around the world are either ignored or in-filled with fictitious data.

Furthermore, land-based thermometers are placed where people live, and people build stuff, often replacing cooling vegetation with manmade structures that cause an artificial warming (urban heat island, UHI) effect right around the thermometer. The data adjustment processes in place cannot reliably remove the UHI effect because it can’t be distinguished from real global warming.

Satellite microwave radiometers, however, are equipped with laboratory-calibrated platinum resistance thermometers, which have demonstrated stability to thousandths of a degree over many years, and which are used to continuously calibrate the satellite instruments once every 8 seconds. The satellite measurements still have residual calibration effects that must be adjusted for, but these are usually on the order of hundredths of a degree, rather than tenths or whole degrees in the case of ground-based thermometers.

And, it is of continuing amusement to us that the global warming skeptic community now tracks the RSS satellite product rather than our UAH dataset. RSS was originally supposed to provide a quality check on our product (a worthy and necessary goal) and was heralded by the global warming alarmist community. But since RSS shows a slight cooling trend since the 1998 super El Nino, and the UAH dataset doesn’t, it is more referenced by the skeptic community now. Too funny.

You’re going to want to read the whole thing.

Categories: On the Blog

Council’s New Bill to Boost Smoking

October 22, 2014, 9:49 AM

New York City was the first major city to ban vaping, the use of e-cigarettes, wherever cigarette smoking is banned. Cities around the country have followed suit.

As a result, smokers who are trying to quit are forced to take their e-cigarettes outside together with the smokers. Now the council may go further and ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

Councilman Costa Constantinides’ bill, introduced this month, would be a blow to smokers who want a less harmful alternative that actually tastes good.

Flavors are critically important because they make e-cigarettes attractive to smokers who are trying to quit. Smokers who’ve switched from smoking to vaping regularly report that they enjoy the various flavors of e-cigarettes, often more than the flavor of burning tobacco.

In fact, in a survey published last November in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, participants reported that e-cig flavors, including fruit flavors, were “very important” to them in their effort to quit or reduce smoking.

No, the ban wouldn’t immediately send folks back to smoking. They’d just buy their e-cigs online and outside of the city. So the initial impact would be to hurt legitimate businesses that are trying to offer their customers an appealing and less harmful alternative to cigarettes.

The real harm of the bill comes later, when other legislatures follow our example. I’ve testified against bans on public vaping at City Council meetings around the country.

Almost every time, the supporters cite the impressive fact that New York City passed a similar law. In fact, it’s probably their best argument. The same would happen if Constantinides’ poorly considered bill becomes law.

As is often the case, those calling for a ban to restrict the choices of adults tell us that their goal is to protect children.

“These flavors are direct marketing to children,” Constantinides said when introducing the bill. “They appeal to children, and we’re taking them out of that market.”

That’s absurd. Legislatures around the country, including the City Council, have already banned the sales of all e-cigs to minors. The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rule does the same.

The council and the Health Department should get back to basics and make sure stores don’t sell e-cigarettes, flavored or not, to kids.

Perhaps while they are at it, they might be able to stop the greater threat, sales of actual cigarettes to kids. It’s all too common here, for all the Health Department’s aggression in other areas.

Flavor-ban proponents also argue that until all the science is in, it’s better to be safe than sorry. But that “precautionary principle” approach doesn’t apply so simply here.

The World Health Organization, the FDA and scientists at leading anti-smoking groups such as the Legacy Foundation have all recognized that while e-cigarettes have risks, they also have potential to help people reduce their harm dramatically by switching from smoking.

Specifically, the Legacy Foundation’s David Abrams lauds e-cigarettes as a “disruptive technology,” telling the Washingtonian, “I think we’re missing the biggest public-health opportunity in a century if we get [the regulations] wrong.”

He adds, “We’ve got to thread this needle just right. We’ve got to both protect kids and non-users and use it as a way to make obsolete the much more lethal cigarette.”

The FDA has proposed rules to govern e-cigarettes, but hasn’t opted to ban flavors. Instead, the agency is looking into not only the science of e-cigs, but how products such as flavored cigarettes are being used.

It won’t have to look far: Vapers report that the appeal of flavors have made the much more lethal cigarette obsolete, at least to them.

Councilman Constantinides’ proposed ban would not only “thread this needle” the wrong way, it would stick smokers not in the finger, but in the lungs, by suggesting flavored cigarettes present a risk in the same category as smoking.


[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

Crony Socialists Looking to Ban Online Gambling Don’t Seem to Realize It’s a WORLD WIDE Web

October 22, 2014, 9:35 AM

I used to bet football games, and play occasional hands of cards (I’m mostly retired).  I did so mostly online – via a company based in Costa Rica.

Did I know the owner of the Costa Rican company?  No.  Did I know anyone in Costa Rica?  No.  Did I have any particular affinity for that nation?  No.  To quote Joe Walsh (the James Gang, solo and Eagles musician, not the former Congressman):

Aint never been there – they tell me its nice. 

The Costa Rican company got my money because the World Wide Web allowed me to shop large swaths of the planet for the business I liked best.  Free trade is a fabulous thing.  The Internet is a fabulous thing.  The latter makes the former even easier – which is a fabulous thing.

Unless you have an old school brick-and-mortar business model – and insist on not changing as the world does. For most stubborn businesses – that spells doom.  If you’re an industry titan and can afford to pony up to politicians – you look to get the government to protect you from Reality.  It’s called Crony Socialism (it’s not Crony Capitalism – because it has nothing to do with capitalism).

And with this particular federal government – with a $4 trillion-a-year budget, countless huge regulatory hammers poised over every nook and cranny of the economy and politicians looking to deal – very bad things can happen.

It’s usually Democrats – the Huge Government Party – who use the Leviathan as a government-money-and-regulation fundraising weapon.  For instance – remember the “green” “energy” (which isn’t green and provides nearly no energy) portion of the abysmally failed 2009 “Stimulus?”  80% of DOE Green Energy Loans Went to Barack Obama Donors. It did nothing for energy or the economy.  But it did a lot for Obama Backers. Sadly, Republicans – allegedly Less Government’s representatives – are not immune to the pernicious infection that is Crony Socialism.

Meet casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.  Who has generated a personal net worth of $37 billion in large part with his brick-and-mortar gambling houses.  Who sees U.S. online gambling as a threat to his empire – but doesn’t seem to see that the Internet extends WAY beyond our borders.

Who has been a huge Republican donor – he gave $49.8 million to center-right Super PACs just in 2012.  And who is now looking for Crony Socialist legislative payback – someone to save him and his older-school businesses from the Reality that is the WORLD WIDE Web. Sadly, some Elephants are willing to oblige. The bill to ban most online gambling for money was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) earlier this year.

How exactly will said bill ban online gambling?  By reworking a half-century-plus old law – to apply it to the 21st Century Internet economy.  Behold the 1961 Federal Wire Act. Here’s Senator Graham on video: Uhhh, yeah.  We’re going back to the wiring act.  The Wire Act prevented transfer of money for online gambling.”

Stop right there.  How did a 1961 law prevent online…anything?  There was no online.  The Senator continues: “Even if you wanted to do online gambling you would have to have regulations, right?” Stop right there.  The Senator’s bill doesn’t regulate online gambling – it bans it.  And my personal online Costa Rican experience was just outstanding – without regulations.  It was most likely much more outstanding precisely because there were no regulations.

Senator Graham seems a bit confused.  What could be contributing to his un-clarity? After Casino Mogul Throws Him Big Money Fundraiser, Graham Seeks Internet Gambling Ban. Big-time contributions.  The solution to Crony Socialism is Less Government.  If the Leviathan wasn’t quite so enormous, the cronyism from which we constantly suffer wouldn’t be quite so prevalent.

The less power and money government has to throw around – the less money will be campaign-contributed to swing government the contributors’ way.

It’s sad – and angering-ly pathetic – when allegedly Less Government Republicans look to expand the Leviathan further still to get some of that Crony Socialism money for themselves.

[Originally posted on Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Aging Metropolitan Areas Ranked

October 22, 2014, 8:21 AM

America is getting older, as medical science prolongs life expectancy and the fertility rate hovers at or even below the replacement rate. One metric for gauging the nation’s aging is the median age – the age at which one half the population is younger and the other half is older. In 2000, the median age in the United States was 35.3. By 2013, the median age had increased to 37.5.

But the nation’s aging is by no means uniform. Each of the nation’s 52 major metropolitan areas (over 1 million population), got older between 2000 and 2013. However, the difference was substantial, from a relatively small 0.4 years to a more than 10 times larger 4.6 years.

Metropolitan Areas Aging the Least

Nine of the 10 metropolitan areas that have aged the least attracted more residents from other parts of the country than they lost between 2000 and 2013 (net domestic migration data from the Census Bureau annual population estimates). This is consistent with data showing that younger households move more. The Current Population Survey reports indicates that households with householders less than 35 years of age are more than 2.5 times as likely to move between states as those led by householders from 35 to 64. The real competition for migrants between metropolitan areas is for younger households,

Oklahoma City aged the slowest of any major metropolitan area between 2000 and 2013. In 2000, the median age was 34.2 years, which increased to 34.6 in 2013, an increase of only 0.4 years. Orlando, the second slowest aging metropolitan area, added nearly three times as much to its median age, which is now at 36.7 year, up 1.1 years from 2000. Indianapolis and San Antonio tied at third with increases of 1.3 years, while Kansas City and Washington tied for 5th, at 1.4 years. The top ten was rounded out by Nashville, Houston, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Riverside-San Bernardino (Table 1, complete data is at

Metropolitan Areas Aging the Most

Detroit aged faster than any other major metropolitan area, as its median age rose from 35.4 to 40.0 years, an increase of 4.6 years. Cleveland aged 4.0 years, Los Angeles 3.5 years, Rochester 3.4 years and Providence 3.3 years. The bottom ten also included Salt Lake City, Hartford, Cincinnati, San Jose, Pittsburgh and Buffalo (the later three in a tie, which makes the bottom 10 a bottom 11). Eight of the bottom 11 cities were in the Northeast and Midwest. The three others, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and San Jose have median ages below the national average, but Los Angeles and San Jose will be older than average within a decade if current trends continue. All of the 11 cities experienced domestic migration losses between 2000 and 2013.

Youngest Metropolitan Areas

The youngest major metropolitan area is Salt Lake City (31.8 years), which held that title both in 2000 and 2013. Salt Lake City, however, was among the fastest aging cities, as is noted above. Riverside-San Bernardino is in hot pursuit, having gained 1.3 years on Salt Lake City, and with a 2013 median age of 33.3. Riverside-San Bernardino has aged less because it has become a refuge for many younger households from nearby Los Angeles, where house prices are stratospheric compared to household incomes. Texas holds the next four positions, with Austin at 33.5 and Houston at 33.6. Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio are tied for 5th at 34.2 (Table 2)

Oldest Metropolitan Areas

All of the five oldest cities had median ages of 40 years or more. The oldest metropolitan area in 2013 was Pittsburgh (42.8), followed by Tampa St. Petersburg (41.9), Cleveland (41.3), Buffalo (40.8) and Hartford (40.5). As in the case of the fastest aging cities, the oldest cities are mainly from the slower growing Northeast and Midwest.

Sustaining Urban Economies by Attracting Younger Households

Unless there is a substantial increase in birth rates (which no one expects), metropolitan areas will continue to age. But, as before, some will age more rapidly than others.

Part of the reason some slow growth or declining “Rust Belt” Northeastern and Midwestern cities have aged faster is strong outward domestic migration, with its large share of younger households. However, metropolitan areas with high household incomes have also experienced strong net domestic out-migration. This is evident in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose.

Other cities, like Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth or Indianapolis can be more attractive, because their lower cost of living can leave households with more discretionary income and a better quality of life. Much of this cost of living advantage is the result of lower house prices relative to incomes.

This association between better housing affordability and greater net domestic migration is identified in research by Harvard economists Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag. Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman also observed the connection between net domestic migration and housing affordability in a recent New York Times column entitled “Wrong Way America.”

There are other reasons that people move. However, the common thread among movers is aspiration — seeking better lives. People move to places they can afford and where they can hope for a higher standard of living. Metropolitan areas that meet the needs of younger households, with a better quality of life and job creating sustainable economies, are likely to age more slowly


[Originally published at Huffington Post]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Neal McCluskey – Common Core Gag Order

October 21, 2014, 2:21 PM

Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, discusses a New York State teachers union lawsuit to overturn a Common Core gag order with Heartland’s Heather Kays.The gag order is supposed to protect testing materials so they can be used again in the future. But teachers are arguing that the gag order prevents them from discussing their concerns or voicing criticism of Common Core. According to McCluskey, this will be a difficult decision as both sides have valid points and that history may be made with this case.

McCluskey also talks about the importance of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive order that states teachers have the right to speak out regarding Common Core. McCluskey notes the role that teachers unions should play in protecting teachers who wish to talk openly about Common Core.

Categories: On the Blog

Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian Theory of Inflations and Recessions

October 21, 2014, 1:25 PM

Eighty years ago, in the autumn of 1934, there appeared in English one of the most important books on money and inflation penned in the twentieth century, The Theory of Money and Credit by the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises. Even eight decades later, it still offers the clearest analysis and understanding of booms and busts, inflations and depressions.

Mises insisted that the economic rollercoaster of the business cycle was not caused by any inherent weaknesses or contradictions within the free market capitalist system. Rather, inflationary booms followed by the bust of economic depression or recession had its origin in the control and mismanagement by governments of the monetary and banking system.

Mises the Man and Economist

Mises was born in Lemberg (now Lvov, Ukraine) in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire on September 29, 1881. He attended the University of Vienna and earned a doctoral degree in jurisprudence in 1906, with an emphasis on economics. He made his living, however, not in academia but in the world of public policy, in the role of senior economic analyst for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, Crafts, and Industry, a position he held from 1909 until 1934.

In the Austria between the two world wars he was a leading figure in bringing the Great Austrian Inflation to a halt and assisted in reorganizing the Austrian National Bank on a non-inflationary, gold-backed basis. He was an influential voice in preventing the Austrian socialists from nationalizing commerce and industry and was in charge of a department of the League of Nations’ Reparations Commission in Austria in the early 1920s.

Mises also founded the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research, taught a highly acclaimed seminar each term at the University of Vienna, was the Austrian representative of the European Free Trade Association, and led a world-renowned private seminar for Austrian and visiting scholars at his office at the Chamber of Commerce.

After spending several years teaching in Geneva, Switzerland in the second half of the 1930s, Mises moved to the United States in 1940. He taught for nearly a quarter of a century at New York University before retiring, and passed away on October 10, 1973 at the age of 92.

His international recognition and reputation during his years in Europe and the United States was the result of his profoundly important contributions to economics and social philosophy that began when he first developed what became known as the Austrian theory of money and the business cycle in The Theory of Money and Credit (1912), which appeared in English eighty years ago in 1934 in a revised edition.

Money Emerges from Markets, Not Government

Building on the earlier work of Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian School of Economics, Mises demonstrated that money is not the creature or the creation of the State. Money is a market-based and market-generated social institution that spontaneously emerges out of the interactions of people attempting to overcome the hindrances and difficulties of direct barter exchange.

People discover that certain commodities possess combinations of useful qualities and characteristics that make them more marketable than others, and therefore more easily traded away for various goods that someone might wish to acquire in exchange with potential trading partners.

Historically, gold and silver were found through time to have those attributes most desirable for use as a medium of exchange to facilitate the ever-growing network of complex market transactions that enabled the development of an ever-more productive system of division of labor.

Money and the Savings-Investment Process

Money not only facilitates the exchange of goods and services in the present – currently available apples for currently available bananas – but also makes easier and possible the exchange and transfer of goods and their uses over and across time.

Willing investors can borrow from willing savers sums of money set aside out of earned income to then use to purchase and hire various quantities of productive resources – including capital equipment, workers for hire, and useful resources and raw materials – to employ them in production activities that will finally result in potentially marketable and profitable finished consumer goods at some point in the future.

Out of earned revenues from such sales, the investor pays back the borrowed savings with any agreed-upon interest payment, which reflects the time preference of the savers for having been willing to defer the use of a part of their own income for the period of time covered by the loan.

Under a commodity monetary system such as a market-based gold standard, there is a fairly close and closed connection between income earned and consumer spending, and savings set aside and savings borrowed for investment purposes.

Suppose that $1,000 represents the money income earned by people during a given period of time. And suppose that these income earners decide to spend $750 on desired consumer goods and to save the remaining $250 of their earned income.

That $250 of saved income can be lent out at interest to those wishing to undertake future-oriented investment projects. The real resources – capital, labor services, raw materials – that the $250 of purchasing power represents are transferred from the savers to the investors. The remaining real resources of the society represented by the $750 of buying power that income earners choose to spend in the present are directed to the manufacture and marketing of more immediately available consumer goods.

Thus, the scarce and valuable resources of the society are effectively coordinated between their two general uses – producing goods closer to the present (such as a currently existing oven being combined with labor and raw materials to bake the daily bread that people wish to consume), or being used to manufacture goods that will be available and of use at some point later in time (such as the production of new ovens to replace the existing ones that eventually wear out or to add to the number of existing ovens so bread production can be increased in the future).

Like all other prices on the market, the rates of interest on loans coordinate the choices of savers with the decisions of borrowers so to keep supplies in balance with demands for either consumer goods or future-oriented investment goods.

In principle, there is nothing to suggest that within the free market economy, itself, there are forces likely to bring about imbalance or discoordination between the choices and decisions of those trading in the marketplace, either for consumer goods in the present, or for savings in the present in exchange for more and better goods in the future through informed and successful investment by profit-oriented entrepreneurs.

Central Banks as the Cause of the Business Cycle

But what Ludwig von Mises showed in The Theory of Money and Credit and then in even greater detail in his master work, Human Action, a Treatise on Economics (1949), was how the harmony and coordination of the competitive, free market can be thrown out of balance through the monetary central planning of governments and central banks.

First under a weakened gold standard and then under systems of purely government-controlled paper monies, central banks have the ability to create the illusion that there is more savings available in the economy to sustain investment-oriented uses of scarce resources in the society than is actually the case.

For example, in the United States, the Federal Reserve (America’s central bank) has the authority and power to buy up government securities and other “assets” such as mortgaged-backed securities, and pay for them by creating money “out of thin air” that then adds to the loanable funds available to the banking system for lending purposes.

People may be still consuming and saving in the same proportions out of their earned income as they have in the past, but now financial institutions have artificially created bank credit to offer to potential borrowers, and at below what would otherwise be market-generated rates of interest to make investment borrowing more attractive to undertake.

To use our previous example, suppose that people are still spending $750 of their $1,000 of earn income on desired consumer goods and saving the remaining $250. But suppose that the central bank has increased available loanable funds in the banking system by an additional $250.

Investment borrowers, attracted by the lower rates of interest, borrow a total of $500 from banks – $250 of “real savings” and $250 of artificially created credit. They attempt to draw $500 worth of the society’s scarce and real resources into future-oriented investment activities that would not increase output in the economy until sometime later.

But income earners are still spending $750 of their originally earned income on desired consumer goods. This results in the limited and scarce capital, labor and raw materials in the society being “pulled” in two incompatible directions at once – into the manufacture of $750 worth of consumer goods and $500 worth of investment goods, when to begin with there were only $1,000 worth of such real and scarce means of production.

Price Inflation and Misdirection of Resources

This will inevitably tend to push up prices in general in the economy above where they would otherwise have been if not for the central bank’s expansion of the money supply in the initial form of new bank credit, as consumers and investors bid against each other to attract into their direction the goods and services they, respectively, are attempting to buy. Thus, such monetary manipulation always carries the seed of future price inflation within it.

At the same time, Mises argued, the fact that the newly created money first enters the economy through the banking system through investment loans brings about a malinvestment of capital and misallocation of labor and other resources as investment borrowers attempt to employ (as in our example) the equivalent of fifty percent of the society’s resources into future-oriented investment activities ($500), while income earners wish only to save the equivalent of twenty-five percent of their income ($250).

Even though price inflation will push up the dollar amount of money income earned, the unsustainable imbalance between savings and investment brought about by central bank monetary policy will be reflected in any discoordination between the percentage amount of income (and the real resources they represent) that people wish to set aside for purposes of savings and the amount of money investment borrowers attempt to undertake as a percentage of the real resources available in the society, due to central bank money creation.

Recession Correction Follows the Inflationary Misdirection

This misdirection of capital, labor and raw materials away from that allocation and use consistent with people’s actual decisions to consume and to save, means that every monetary-induced inflationary boom carries within it the seeds of an eventual and inescapable economic downturn.

Why? Because once the monetary expansion either slows down or is ended, interest rates will begin to more correctly reflect real available savings to sustain investments in the economy. At which point, it will start to be discovered that capital and labor have been drawn into investment uses and employments that cannot be completed or maintained in a, now, non-monetary inflationary environment.

An economic recession, therefore, is the discovery period of misallocations of scarce resources in the economy that requires a rebalancing and a recoordination of supplies and demands for a return to market- and competitively-determined harmony in the society’s economic activities for long-run growth, employment, and improved standards of living.

The current boom-bust cycle through which the U.S. and the world economy has been passing for over a decade, now, has shown the real world application and logic of what Ludwig von Mises demonstrated in The Theory of Money and Credit decades ago in the twentieth century.

And why reading and learning from this true classic of monetary theory and policy still offers an invaluable guide for ending the business cycles of our own time.

[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog

Stealing from Competitors is “How Google Works”

October 21, 2014, 12:05 PM

Google executives’ saccharine best-selling book: “How Google Works,” predictably ignores and whitewashes how Google steals to make its free model work.

This piece spotlights the likely “Post-it Child” of Google theft victims and five other theft victims that Google has stolen from using its signature MO or “Google Con.” It also links to another nineteen victims for a total of at least twenty five examples of Google’s theft and piracy. Corporate kleptomania is “How Google Works.”

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information for free. Its business model is to generate ad revenue on only the sliver of information that users find and click on.

So Google respecting property rights – whether it is privacy, confidential information, trade secrets, copyrights, patents or trademarks – would be prohibitively expensive because their world view presumes that digitized information should be free.

So to make their model work, a key part of Google’s modus operandi or MO is to take, steal, or pirate what it needs. If caught, Google then demonizes its theft or piracy victims. If sued, Google then slow-rolls and exhausts the complainants’ patience and resources. This is “How Google Works.”

The “Post-it child” of Google theft victims

If one were to look for a “Post-it child” of Google theft victims to spotlight Google’s corporate kleptomania, it easily could be VSL-Max Sound.

That’s because they are the beneficiary of a huge irretrievable mistake by Google.

Google left “smoking gun” evidence — in the form of highly-incriminating “Post-it Notes” attached to a returned non-disclosure-agreement.

These Post-it Notes effectively chronicled Google’s predatory plans for stealing VSL-Max Sound’s industry-leading, video streaming trade secrets and patented technology that Google then would use — without permission or payment — to dramatically increase the video transmission quality and cost efficiency of YouTube’s 10 billion daily video streams.

Two VSL-Max Sound lawsuits against Google, one for stealing trade secrets and the other forpatent infringement, chronicle a now all-too-familiar pattern of Google fraud and theft – “the Google Con.”

“The Google Con”

Google has perfected a classic con that is simple and ruthlessly effective.

First, Google professes an interest in either licensing or buying an entity’s technologies or company. Second, Google signs a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement with the now very eager entity. Third, Google’s technology experts extract as many trade secrets as possible in its supposed “due diligence” process. Fourth, Google secretly reverse-engineers and implements the stolen trade secrets and patented technology without permission or payment. Fifth, Google leaves the eager entity hanging. Sixth, if the entity sues, Google slow rolls and legally exhausts the complainants’ patience and resources.

Why does this latest VSL-Max sound example matter?

First, it’s rare for Google to get caught red-handed using their own words and materials, during one of its signature thefts of other’s trade secrets and intellectual property.

Until this big mistake, Google had been quite expert at covering its tracks, destroying emailevidence, or settling, in order to get incriminating evidence sealed from the public.

However, if one shakes down competitors enough times, someone eventually will get careless and leave a “smoking gun” where it can be found and used in court to convict the perpetrator.

Second, it shows law enforcement a signature Google modus operandi or conspiracy-MO that may have harmed at least 25 different entities throughout the American economy over several years, and that may warrant some form of a RICCO law enforcement investigation.

Third, “smoking gun” incriminating evidence of egregious illegal behavior can encourage other victims to come forward, speak up and confirm that Google has stolen from them, and engaged in similar fraudulent schemes.

Google’s corporate kleptomania chronicles

Anyone that doubts “the Google Con” is well-established and ongoing illegal behavior at Google should consider the stories and suits of at least five victims who have learned the hard way – How Google Steals.

Overture: Most don’t know that Google’s hugely profitable ad-auction model was a trade secret and patented process that Google learned from, and then stole wholesale, from Overture in an eerily similar way to “The Google Con” that the VSL-Max Sound lawsuits chronicle. Importantly, Google eventually settled with Overture for ~$250m in 2004, in order to seal the record from the public and smooth the way for its blockbuster initial public offering (IPO.)

Skyhook Wireless:  Skyhook Wireless, the then leader in WiFi location targeting efficiency, charged that Google stole its trade secrets in one lawsuit, and its patented technology in another lawsuit, effectively alleging the same basic type of “Google Con” that the VSL-Max Sound lawsuits allege. Incriminating emails document willful infringement by Google’s leadership.

Engineered Architecture – To bring the “Google con” to vivid life in a very personal account,listen to how world-renowned, Israeli-American architect of skyscrapers, Eli Attia, chronicles how “Google stole his life’s work.” Apparently, Google X is currently stealing and building a new business around Attia’s patented “Engineered Architecture” invention, a revolutionary new design and construction technology which integrates architecture and engineering to dramatically lower the time and cost of building large complex structures. Late in life, Mr. Attia currently laments he “cannot initiate a legal battle against one of the greatest economic giants in the world.” 

BuySafe:According to its patent infringement lawsuit, BuySafe effectively alleges it was the victim of a form of the “The Google Con,” in charging that Google deceptively and illegally gained access to BuySafe’s trade secrets to advance Google’s own competing “Trusted Stores” program. 

Be In-CamUp: Business Insider has a good description of, and a link to, the lawsuit Be In-CamUp filed against Google for theft of trade secrets, breach of contract and copyright infringement for stealing significant technology behind Google Hangouts. Sadly, it is yet another eerily-similar example of “The Google Con” in action.  

For those who still are reticent to believe that stealing and pirating from competitors is actually “How Google Works,” why would these nineteen additional companies or associations have sued Google for stealing from them: YelpViacomAppleOracleMicrosoftbusiness directorieswire servicesnewspapersbroadcastersmovie studiosauthorspublishers,visual artistssoftware providersphotographersartistsgraphic designersillustrators, and filmmakers?

And why would the State Attorney General, who has most investigated Google wrongdoing, theft and piracy, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, conclude: “In my 10 years as attorney general, I have dealt with a lot of large corporate wrongdoers. I must say that yours is the first I have encountered to have no corporate conscience for the safety of its customers, the viability of its fellow corporations or the negative economic impact on the nation which has allowed your company to flourish” — in an official letter to Google CEO Larry Page last year?

And for those who are reticent to believe that Google routinely seeks to cover-up its patterns of theft and other wrongdoing, read the investigative report by the non-profit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press called “Uncivil Secrecy.”

In sum, despite Google’s cynical public claim to Liberation that “We do not steal,” and its public claim to the Daily Mail that “We are a law-abiding company” the overwhelming public evidence to date is that stealing from competitors is “How Google Works.”

Simply, Google is not a law-abiding competitor.

Just like Google has acted anti-competitively in serially disrespecting users’ privacy andsecurity with its WorldWideWatch dominance and abuses of dominance, Google also has engaged in an anti-competitive pattern of serial theft and piracy chronicled here — in order to make its “free” model add up.

Think about it. How can any law abiding competitor hope to compete with a company that serially defrauds, steals and pirates competitors’ confidential information, trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and trademarks, in order to gain unbeatable, ill-gotten, and anti-competitive cost, time-to-market, inventory, and innovation advantages?

Google is right that it does not “work” like any other company.

How Google Works” is like a 21st Century Robber Baron.



Google Disrespect for Property Series

Part 1: Google TV: Dumb Content vs. Content is King [10-7-10]

Part 2: Why Google’s Motorola Patent Play Backfires [9-9-11]

Part 3: Google 21st Century Robber Baron [9-19-11]

Part 4: Google’s “Infringenovation” Secrets [10-3-11]

Part 5: Google’s Piracy Liabilities [11-9-11]

Part 6: Grand Theft Automated! Online Ad Economics Fuel Piracy, Oppose SOPA [11-30-11]

Part 7: The Evidence Google’s Systematic Theft is Anti-Competitive [1-20-12]

Part 8: The Real Reasons Google Killed SOPA/PIPA [1-24-12]

Part 9: Google’s Rap Sheet [6-4-12]

Part 10: Googleopoly IX: Google-Motorola’s Patents of Mass Destruction [7-10-12]

Part 11: Four Under-Appreciated Implications for Google from Apple-Samsung Verdict [9-5-12]

Part 12: What Made Apple’s Steve Jobs So Angry with Google-Android? [9-6-12]

Part 13: Google News-ster, Google Book-ster, YouTube-ster, Android-ster [11-2-12]

Part 14: Google’s Content Settlements are a Tacit Admission It is an Essential Facility [2-11-13]

Part 15: Google protesteth Larry Ellison too much that Google does not steal [8-28-13]

Part 16: Special Report: Google on Piracy: Not Telling the Whole Truth [10-4-13]

Part 17: Brito & Google: [10-17-13]

Part 18: Google-YouAd is a Deceptive and Unfair Business Practice [10-24-13]

Part 19: Google’s Extensive Cover-up [2-25-14]

Part 20: Google’s Widespread Wiretapping [3-20-14]

Part 21: Google AdSense Lawsuit Spotlights the Corruption of Unaccountability [5-23-14]

Part 22: Google’s Illusion of Data Protection Security [9-7-14]

Part 23: Google Profiting from Hacked Celebrity Women Photos is “How Google Works” [10-6-14]

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

Categories: On the Blog

People Like to Keep Their Money – and Other Breaking News for Leftists

October 21, 2014, 11:13 AM
To paraphrase the knight who guarded the Holy Grail in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Ireland has chosen poorly.

The Emerald Isle has decided to make itself decidedly less attractive to people the world over.

Irish Budget Set to Phase Out Multinationals’ Favourable Tax Arrangement

Ireland is set to announce sweeping changes to its corporate tax structure in its budget on Tuesday, phasing out a loophole that has allowed multinationals to save billions of dollars in tax on their worldwide income.

This is the tax code equivalent of having Jay-Z rewrite Shakespeare. Why would Ireland hamstring itself?

The country has faced sustained criticism over the past 18 months from other European Union members and the United States for its tax rules and Finance Minister Michael Noonan is expected to lay out plans to end an arrangement that has enabled firms such as Google and Apple to cut their overseas tax rates to single digits. 

Uber-high tax nations don’t like being scorned. So the EU is trying to force people to like them – which didn’t work in elementary school and won’t work now.  And the United States has the highest corporate tax rate on the planet – so we too are in the cafeteria dining alone.

Ireland has to know they’re damaging themselves, right?

To maintain Ireland as an attractive destination for business, Noonan could at the same time make improvements to the intellectual property tax regime, and also has room to cut income tax….

So they realize lower and less government impediments mean higher returns. How do they have “room to cut income tax” (which every government on the planet in fact does)?

…(Because of) the economy’s surprisingly strong rebound from the debt crisis.

Get that?  Ireland’s rebound from the debt crisis has been “surprisingly strong” – because they fostered such a capital-friendly environment.  While the anti-capital US and EU have continued to founder and flounder.

Hey Huge Government US and EU – don’t hate, emulate.  Ireland as it has been – and Luxembourg and the Netherlands as they are still.

Amazon’s Taxes Draw Europe’s Scrutiny

Europe’s top regulator said it believes the online retailer has been receiving state aid from Luxembourg for over a decade by taking advantage of a preferential tax deal with the nation.

Apple, Starbucks, and a unit of the automaker Fiat are also under investigation in Europe for similar tax arrangements in Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The European Commission said it is investigating whether Amazon purposely shifted its money around within European countries to avoid paying higher tax rates.

“Shifting money around…to avoid paying higher taxes” is now an EU crime?

“National authorities must not allow selected companies to understate their taxable profits by using favorable calculation methods,” said Joaquin Almunia, Europe’s top competition watchdog. “It is only fair that subsidiaries of multinational companies pay their share of taxes.”

Apparently, disturbingly so.  And the US?

Overseas ‘Tax Inversions’ Are Unpatriotic: Obama

President Barack Obama says a loophole that lets companies dodge U.S. taxes by moving their headquarters overseas is unpatriotic….

Here’s a thought – let’s lower tax rates and remove government impediments to entice them to return.  Mr. President?

The Obama administration is weighing plans to circumvent Congress and act on its own to curtail tax benefits for United States companies that relocate overseas to lower their tax bills….

Not so much.  Nothing like the democratic process.

“Putting companies on notice is, I think, part of it,” (White House press secretary Josh Earnest) said.

Nothing like putting out the Welcome Back mat.

Should we and the EU continue to pummel people with Huge Government policies?  Or should we be more like the Less Government likes of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Hong Kong – a little more inviting to the private investment pols incessantly claim they want?

The coming cascade of cash – rolling out of Ireland and into much more capital-friendly locales – will be yet another visual aide we really shouldn’t need.

[Originally published at Human Events]


Categories: On the Blog

Curbing Obama Power Grabs

October 21, 2014, 9:34 AM

The courts and Senate provide no checks and balances. Could a Republican Senate help?

You’ve got to admire the sheer audacity: Democratic Senator Mark Begich telling Alaska voters that he stood up to President Obama and fought for oil drilling and jobs in his state. Maybe he had a few chats.

But he certainly knew his concerns and opinions meant nothing, changed nothing, accomplished nothing. And then he voted 97% of the time with Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Dictator Harry Reid

Reid has kept over 300 bills bottled up, squelched almost all proffered Republican amendments on anything that did move, and used the “nuclear option” to end the longstanding 60-vote rule and wipe out any chance that Republicans could block Obama nominees or prevent the President from packing the vital DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The three new liberal judges on that court can now be counted on to defer to Mr. Obama’s policies and “agency discretion” on future arrogations of power.

Ditto for Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. She bellyached from time to time about offshore drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline. But she also voted with Obama, Reid and their agenda 97% of the time, on everything from ObamaCare to Dodd-Frank to packing the DC Court.

The tally for other Democratic Senators running for reelection is revealing: Hagan (NC) 96% for the Obama agenda, policies and fiats … Merkley (OR) 96% … Pryor (AR) 90% … Shaheen (NH) 99% … Udall (CO) 99% … Warner (VA) 97%

Now they’re telling their constituents, next year will be different. Send me back to Washington, and next year I will stand up to Obama and support letting people keep their doctors and insurance, allowing more domestic drilling and pipelines, promoting economic recovery and fiscal responsibility, curbing the fraud and abuses at the Environmental Protection Agency, tackling Ebola and going after Islamic terrorists.

The IRS, Benghazi, Ebola and Middle East screw-ups and cover-ups seem to have set the tone. These Senators seem willing to say almost anything to get them past the elections. However, their votes have had real consequences for millions of Americans, especially the poor, minority, elderly and working classes they profess to care so much about. They should not escape accountability so easily.

A recent political ad by black Democrat-turned-Republican Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory lays it on the line. “While you dig through the couch looking for gas money,” Guillory says, Mary Landrieu “flies around in private jets funded by taxpayer dollars.” To her, “you are just a vote,” every six years.

Nor do liberal stereotypes fit. The four Democratic House and Senate candidates in Northern Virginia are all well-off, middle-age white guys. Republican candidates include one middle-age white dude, plus two working moms and a black man – who’s also Jewish and an 8-year Marine Corps veteran.

Few of us have any personal animosity toward any of these Democrat Senators. They’re all amiable people. But as President Obama himself says, “my policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.” Those policies have been dragging this country down, and as long as Harry Reid maintains his iron grip on the Senate, there can be no checks and balances or budgetary constraints on the Obama policies.

Messrs. Reid and Obama have made it clear that they have no interest in working with Republicans. Indeed, the President prefers Saul Alinsky tactics of community agitation and interest group divide-and-conquer. He disdains democratic processes and bipartisan compromises, and much prefers to simply legislate, regulate and dictate from the White House and Executive Branch – ignoring or rewriting the clear language of laws and our Constitution whenever and however necessary.

The Train of Abuses and Usurpations gets longer by the week. Environmental Protection Agency actions alone could place virtually all our land, air, water, energy and economy under the control of regulatory ideologues, working closely with radical Big Green activists, billionaires and “charitable” foundations.

Climate. As the planet refuses to cooperate with computer models and White House fear mongering, the EPA simply ignores all contradictory studies and evidence – and continues to operate under assumptions that: carbon dioxide levels dictate climate change; natural forces are irrelevant’ America can easily replace the fossil fuels that provide 82% of its energy; skyrocketing energy prices will have no effect on the economy, jobs or human health and welfare; and slashing America’s CO2 emissions will make a difference, even though China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Poland and other nations refuse to do likewise.

Of course, the real goal was never to stop climate change. It was always to control and “fundamentally transform” our nation’s energy, economic, social and legal structure and institutions, regardless of costs.

Water. Proposed rules are so broadly written that they would cover nearly all “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), based on assertions that they would eventually end up in “navigable” waters: rivers, rivulets, lakes, groundwater, stock ponds, occasional puddles and dry creek beds. In the process, they would also control land use activities on farms, forests and other private property. Friendly, collusive lawsuits by radical environmentalists would further expand this EPA jurisdiction.

Ozone. Almost every US county meets current 2008 ozone standards. Proposed regulations would render the vast majority of them “nonattainment” areas, subject to severe restrictions on economic growth. Even EPA says the rules would cost $100 billion a year. The National Association of Manufacturers puts the cost at $270 billion annually. The impact on people’s jobs, incomes, health and welfare would be huge.

Even bigger ambitions. Clearly not satisfied with these unprecedented usurpations of power, EPA has also launched major “sustainable development,” “environmental justice” and “clean power” initiatives. These deliberately vague and infinitely malleable terms would further expand the agency’s mission far beyond anything previously imaginable or contemplated by EPA’s authorizing legislation.

Other agencies are busily writing new regulations governing Christmas lights, automobile and refrigerator coolants, endangered species guidelines that would block ranching, drilling and pipeline projects, while giving bird and bat-killing wind and solar projects carte blanche – and other activities.

Collusion. A recent Senate Minority Staff Report explains in frightening detail how far-left billionaires, foundations and environmentalist groups actively collude with EPA managers and regulators. EPA in turn happily recruits high-level eco-activists, who then help lobby, guide and control agency policies – and channel millions of taxpayer dollars to pressure groups that promote those policies. The agency also engages in frequent friendly lawsuits with activists, to make policies even more extreme.

A Republican Senate will not guarantee the kind of change needed to end these excesses and get the nation’s economy and employment back on track, especially if certain GOP members remain timid or recalcitrant. (Perhaps DePuy or Stryker could donate some spinal implants?) Presidential vetoes could also pose problems, although strong leadership could often craft bipartisan veto-proof majorities.

House and Senate hearings could grill agency heads under oath – and investigate potential fraud in developing regulations, unethical collusion between agencies and activists, improper agency funding of activist groups, sweetheart lawsuits and other activities. These investigations could form the basis for budget reductions and restrictions, legislation to end mission creep or block specific regulations, and laws requiring congressional approval of “major” regulatory actions costing billions of dollars.

Such actions would also help restore our tripartite system of government. Right now, the Executive Branch is riding roughshod over businesses and citizens alike, and the courts merely rubberstamp agency decisions. Meanwhile, the Legislative Branch is little more than an appendix that writes overly broad laws giving unaccountable bureaucrats unfettered discretion to impose an increasingly intrusive, expensive leftist, centralized government agenda. No wonder our nation is foundering on the rocks.

The upcoming elections could help get the USS United States back on course. Let’s hope they do.

Categories: On the Blog

If You Like How the Government is Handling Ebola…

October 21, 2014, 9:21 AM

…you’ll love how they’ll handle the Internet.

The late, inordinately great Ronald Reagan rightly observed:

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

So when the federal government says about Ebola “We’ve got this” – people have a problem believing it.  Obama Underwater on Ebola Response Ah, the Barack Obama Administration – which has been caught lying over and over and over again. Many Voters Say Obama Lies to the Country on Important Matters  . 81 percent of Americans believe that Obama lies to them at least “now and then” on “important matters.”

The Obama Administration has again and again offered Ebola assertions and assurances that Reality has subsequently demonstrated were…wanting.  The President has asserted Ebola isn’t transmittable beyond direct body fluid contact.  That’s not true. In one of the most breathtakingly on-its-face anti-Reality statements ever, the Administration asserted a flight ban from afflicted countries would INCREASE the spread of the disease.

The American people think otherwise. 67% of Americans Support a Travel Ban From Ebola Affected Countries. Democrats are blaming the Administration’s Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s serial Ebola incompetence – the CDC being the government’s alleged “expert agency” on, well…disease control – on budget cuts.  That’s not true either.

At $7 billion, the Centers for Disease Control 2014 budget is nearly 200 percent bigger now than it was in 2000. Those evil, stingy Republicans actually approved CDC funding increases in January larger than what President Obama requested.

The CDC has spent their titanic tally on just about everythingexcept disease control. So the American people can be forgiven for arriving here: Trust in Government at All-Time Low ,   Trust In Government Problem-Solving Reaches New Low.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is gearing up to unilaterally commandeer control of the Internet.

On Ebola, the allegedly Disease Controlling Administration – in fine Kevin Bacon “Animal House” fashion – has been repeatedly proclaiming “All is well” as things continue to get worse and worse.

Conversely, the Internet has been since just about its inception a government-free zone.  And has a result become an ever-expanding free speech-free market Xanadu.

The Administration has been the Chicken Little of the World Wide Web.  Running around decrying a “problem” that does not exist – and demanding a Huge Government “solution.”

The fake “problem?”  Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may – one day, someday, maybe – block you from websites.  Only they haven’t.  And they won’t.  Because they are in the customer service business – but won’t be for long if they refuse to serve their customers what they want.

The fake “solution?” What’s Even Worse than Net Neutrality? Government Internet Reclassification to Do It. Reclassification will give the government the same regulatory stranglehold on the Web that it has had for seventy-plus years on landline phone lines.  Which is why landline phone lines have remained just about undeveloped since FDR.

Oh – and this: Reclassification Net Neutrality Could Be a 16.1% Internet Tax. Now we know why the government has created a faux Web crisis – so as to not let it go to waste.

But fret not, the government tells us. They will wield just some – and not all – of their massive new powers. They will practice “forbearance.” “(F)orbearance” refers to a special magic power that Congress gave the FCC…which gives the FCC the power to say “you know that specific provision of law that Congress passed? We decide it really doesnt make sense for us to enforce it in some particular case, so we will “forbear” (hence the term ‘forbearance) from enforcing it.”

Sure.  Because we can take the government at its word – right? Like the CDC on disease control, the FCC is the government’s alleged “expert agency” on all things Internet.  Except: Government Commission That Wants to Commandeer Control of the Internet Just Had Their Website Crash – Twice. So the FCC is just about as honest and competent as the rest of the government.

How about, then, they not take over the Web?


Originally posted on PJ media

Categories: On the Blog

Marita Noon: Shouldn’t be we fighting a war on terrorism not on fossil fuels?

October 21, 2014, 7:26 AM

“You are responsible for President Obama’s re-election,” I told 150 folks from the oil and gas industry —most of whom were conservative Republicans. I spoke to them on October 15 in San Angelo, TX. A reporter covering the event wrote that I “stunned the crowd by telling them they were largely responsible for getting the president re-elected, and asking them if they knew how they had helped.” He continued: “The room was very quiet for several moments as Noon waited to see if anyone would volunteer an answer.”

We know President Obama has been waging a war on coal—with tens of thousands of jobs lost due to his attacks since he was elected in 2008, but why has the oil and gas industry escaped the harsh regulations that have virtually shut down both coal mining and coal-fueled power plants? After all, we know his environmentalist base—with whom he is philosophically aligned—hates them equally.

The reporter added: “Finally someone suggested it was job creation that Noon was alluding to.”

The oil and gas industry has added millions of jobs to the U.S. economy in the past six years and represents the bright spot in the jobs numbers. Imagine where the unemployment numbers would be if the oil and gas industry had been treated as poorly as coal.

While President Obama hasn’t had an outright war on oil and gas, he surely hasn’t helped—and his surrogates have been out fighting on his behalf.

According to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), oil production on state and private lands is up 61 percent and is down 6 percent on federal lands. The CRS found that it takes 41 percent longer to process an application for permit to drill in 2011 than it did in 2006. Getting a permit on federal lands takes an average of 194 days compared to a few days to a month on state lands. The Obama administration approved the fewest drilling permits since 2002. Additionally, it has sold the lowest amount of oil-and-gas leases since 1988. As a result, U.S. oil production on federal lands has fallen to a five-year low. And, these numbers don’t include the tens of thousands of jobs that would have been created if the Keystone pipeline had been approved six years ago.

With an eye always on politics, President Obama can’t afford the negative job numbers a war on all fossil fuels would cause. Less concerned about the political fallout, using a death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach, his allies have been fighting oil and gas—as they’ve done with coal.

Bill Bissett, President of the Kentucky Coal Association, told me: “Make no mistake, the oil and gas industry now finds itself in the same political crosshairs from the Obama Administration and their allies that coal did in the President’s first term. From Sierra Club’s new-found animosity to natural gas, as evidenced by its Beyond Natural Gas campaign, to the President’s inability to take any action related to the Keystone pipeline, the uncertainty and inevitable economic damage caused by an adverse federal government is now striking yet another fossil fuel.”

Environmental extremist groups repeatedly oppose the Keystone pipeline and lock themselves to the White House gates to prove their point. They believe fracking should be a crime and want it banned—which would shut down 96 percent of all oil and gas drilling in America.

Because the average American understands that “drill here, drill now” results in lower prices at the pump—as we are seeing right now, I believe they use “fracking” as a canard when the real target is drilling. Capitalizing on the public’s lack of awareness about the safe and proven technology of hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—anti-fossil fuel activists have been able to give “fracking” their own definition that essentially covers everything from permitting to production to delivery.

A year ago, Environment America released the Fracking by the Numbers report that offers this:

Defining “Fracking”

In this report, when we refer to the impacts of “fracking,” we include impacts resulting from all of the activities needed to bring a shale gas or oil well into production using high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracturing operations that use at least 100,000 gallons of water), to operate that well, and to deliver the gas or oil produced from that well to market. The oil and gas industry often uses a more restrictive definition of “fracking” that includes only the actual moment in the extraction process when rock is fractured—a definition that obscures the broad changes to environmental, health and community conditions that result from the use of fracking in oil and gas extraction.

Many cities and counties—mostly liberal communities with little or no drilling potential—have passed anti-fracking legislation, resolutions and/or moratoriums. They then claim success and build momentum as an argument for others to follow suit.

Colorado had two anti-oil-and-gas initiatives on November’s ballot, but the supporters agreed to pull them when it became clear the measures would drive Republicans to the polls and hurt troubled re-election chances for Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Mark Udall0%Senate Democrat Average3%See Full Scorecard0% and Governor John Hickenlooper.

Mora County, New Mexico has been bold enough to pass a ban on all drilling for hydrocarbons, not just fracking—a move that’s resulted in two lawsuits and fiscal liabilities against the little county.

Now, with out of state money pouring in as it did in Mora County, Santa Barbara, California, County residents will be voting on November 4 on Measure P—which is, according to Dr. James Boles, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Professor Emeritus, Earth Sciences: “a poorly designed measure that would shut down energy production in Santa Barbara County.”

Ballotpedia calls Measure P the “Santa Barbara County Fracking Ban Initiative.” Yet, in a letter to the editor (LTE), the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce “urges its members to vote ‘no’ on Measure P on the November 2014 ballot.” The first of five arguments the Chamber presents in support of its “no” position states: “The ballot measure is written in a way that is likely to mislead voters. Its title says that it is a ban on ‘fracking.’ This is misleading for two reasons: there is no fracking in Santa Barbara County and, in addition, the ballot measure also prohibits many other forms of oil and gas extraction. A voter would have to read the entirety of the lengthy and complicated measure to understand that its impact is far greater than suggested by the title.” The LTE continues: “An impartial analysis prepared by Santa Barbara County found that 100 percent of the active oil and gas wells currently use one or more of the production techniques prohibited by Measure P.”

A leaked email soliciting UCSB students for “Summer Jobs to Ban Fracking” states: “We’re working this summer to convince Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking before it’s too late. …This summer we are hiring staff to talk to 30,000 Santa Barbara County residents to build the support we need to win. We are hiring for full time positions only (40 hrs/wk), M-F.” The email is from Heather Goold, Director for The Fund for Public Interest—a group connected, according to a new U.S. Senate report: The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA, to Bill McKibben’s and Tom Steyer (who recently met with Santa Barbara activists).

In a recent op-ed published in the Santa Barbara News, Andy Caldwell, Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business executive director and radio talk show host, asks: “Who is funding the hiring of UCSB students to work on an anti-oil campaign as paid staff?” He continues: “What looks and sounds like a movement is actually a coordinate campaign funded and directed in secret by phenomenally rich people with an agenda. It works in the opposite manner of a legitimate grass roots movement. The non-profits are in essence hired to carry out specific tasks as part of an overall campaign strategy. The Senate report indicates that ‘the grants awarded specify how the recipients must use the funds. This allows the Billionaire’s club to engage in a defined transaction so they know in advance what services to expect for their money. As such, environmental groups that heavily rely on foundation funds to comprise a substantial portion of their budgets begin to look much more like private contractors buying and selling a service rather than benevolent non-profits seeking to carry out charitable acts.’”

“These attacks are no longer about the environment.” Ed Hazard, president of the California chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners, says: “They have morphed into an effort to fundamentally change the political, financial, and economic foundations of the United States and other nations. These are anti-private property rights and anti-capitalism efforts.”

If Measure P passes on November 4—giving the environmentalists another win and the economy another loss, well-paid jobs in the oil industry will go away and surrounding communities will suffer (similar to the impact felt in coal).

A vote against Measure P sends a signal bigger than Santa Barbara. In the war on fossil fuels, it shows we are fighting back. It supports America’s economic potential and energy security while tamping down the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that are the popular tools of Obama’s moneyed allies.

Once P is defeated, we have two years to be sure the next White House occupant understands that energy makes America great.

Categories: On the Blog

Wisdom from Bill Gray

October 20, 2014, 3:53 PM

Though CO2 continues to accumulate in the atmosphere, global satellites show surface temperatures have not increased for the past 18 years.

Additionally, an article by Hurricane Guru Bill Gray in the Coloradan points out:

• Winter snow cover has been gradually increasing across the northern hemisphere in recent years.

• Antarctic sea ice is now at record high levels. Net global sea ice has shown no long-period downward trend.

• U.S. and global droughts, floods and severe weather have shown no significant changes over the past half century when atmospheric CO2 amounts have risen by 35 percent.

• The United States is currently experiencing the longest continuous period (nine years) without a major hurricane strike. Tornado activity has been below average the past three years.

These results confound climate alarmists who trust computer models more than their own senses and actual climate observations. The models can’t account for any of these trends.

Gray points out natural climate change and severe and unusual weather events have always occurred and will continue to occur in the future regardless of atmospheric CO2 levels.

As a result, switching to renewable energy will greatly raise our energy costs and significantly lower the U.S.’s and the world’s standard of living, but do nothing for the environment.

Only misanthropes could recommend making the world less hospitable for humans – perhaps this is the real reason alarmists continue to push for energy restrictions despite the mounting evidence global warming, if it starts up again, will be mild and possibly beneficial?


Categories: On the Blog

Thorner & Ingold: CDC’s Incoherent Ebola Failed Strategy Evolution

October 20, 2014, 1:53 PM

By Nancy Thorner & Ed Ingold – 

Four officials in blue plastic hazmat suits. (Source: YouTube)

Dr. Tom Frieden appeared before an House committee today (10/16) to testify on CDC’s response to Ebola in America. It’s hard to say where his position comes from, whether a reflection of White House talking points, political correctness, or just a physician’s tendency toward self-deification (not unknown among bureaucrats either). When asked if he was being coached by anyone, he evaded the question.

CDC: Imposing travel restrictions on West Africa would inhibit humanitarian activities and strangle emerging economies.

FACT: Restrictions would be for non-essential travel. Humanitarian aid could continue, with the stipulation that returning workers would be subject to a three week quarantine. The“struggling economy” of West Africa consists primarily of oil, cacao and coffee. Nearly half of the world’s chocolate comes from this region. We are not proposing an embargo, just limits on non-essential travel. However travel restrictions might have a secondary effect on the quality of breakfast in

CDC: Travel restrictions would force people to take devious routes to the United States, making it harder to screen those at risk for Ebola and take necessary precautions.

FACT: Even without restrictions, there is a strong incentive for those at risk to bypass the existing screening procedure, or simply conceal signs of illness and lie on questionnaires. The alternative is to be denied access to US health care and face a long quarantine period. This has already occurred for the first domestic case of Ebola, where the person lied to gain entry, then went to the emergency room at the first mild signs of illness, rather than a local pharmacy (or bed) like the rest of us.

The prime directive to control the spread of disease is to isolate and eradicate. Travel restrictions are an essential ingredient for isolation. Every domestic case of Ebola requires the services of dozens of health care workers, monitoring of hundreds of persons potentially exposed to the disease, at enormous cost. Moreover health care workers are at the greatest risk of infection – Ebola is becoming known as “the nurse killer.” We cannot afford to import a single case of Ebola through carelessness, and screening is demonstrably ineffective. Congress should demand an account of these costs from the CDC.

CDC, the DNC and Democratic Congressmen: Republicans cut the budget of CDC by $500 million, making it harder to combat the Ebola epidemic here and abroad.

FACT:  The Sequestration cuts only discretionary spending (used to study duck sexuality and build treadmills for shrimp), and limits only increases in that spending. The actual budget was not cut, rather the CDC is getting a smaller increase than requested. The “Sequestration” was, in fact, proposed by the Obama, passed both houses of Congress and signed by the President. In the actual budget, Congress approved 50% more money for disease control than requested by the President – $176 Million v $135 Million. In actuality, Obama pushed for CDC cuts years before the Elboa outbreak As to Democrats blaming Republican for the spread of Ebloa on budget cuts, the GOP house passed a budget increasing DCD spending by 8-1/2 %. The phantom budget cuts are but a desperate measure by Democrats and have nothing to do with why CDC fumbled Ebola!

CDC: The protocols recommended for the protection of health care personnel are in place and effective.

FACT: Actually neither is true. Workers at Edison Hospital in Dallas were not properly trained nor equipped for Ebola treatment, and the published protocols are not effective. The “official” protocol calls for disposable surgical gowns, face masks and gloves. There is no head covering, respirators, leggings nor shoe covers (aside from “booties” intended to keep dirt from being tracked into treatment areas). Meanwhile, Dr. Frieden appeared in Africa wearing full HAZMAT gear, being hosed down with a chlorine solution for decontamination. While the “official” gear is disposable, it cannot be disinfected for safe degowning. Nor were the protocols being followed. The Nurses at Edison complain that they received no training and inadequate gear. They used medical tape for extra protection. When the second health care worker arrived for treatment, after being diagnosed with Ebola, she was accompanied by two workers in full HAZMAT gear and someone in street clothes carrying a clipboard. Some protocol!

There is no reason to panic, but at the same time we must insist that effective procedures be established and followed. There should be national standards for procedures, and a limit on non-essential travel to and from West Africa, both of which which can be imposed at any time by the HHS Secretary or President Obama. Secondly, we must get honest evaluations of the risks and progress as they develop, not Disney-ish star wishes. The only thing which will prevent panic is trust in the government we elect to protect us. It is abundantly clear that Dr. Frieden is no “war time consigliore.” The real experts reside in the military, for which command and control already exist for biological and chemical containment.

Addendum to original Illinois Review article:

Dr. Frieden, head of the CDC not a practicing physician. He is the former head of New York State Public Health, a politician through and through. He just needs to polish his spin skills. That’s where the newly appointed Ebola Czar, Ron Klain, comes into play. Spinning is his only skill, and as Chief Adviser for Joe Biden and Al Gore, he appears to be pretty good at it. What he doesn’t have is any medical background, administrative experience, nor technical expertise whatsoever. His job will be to take heat away from the President, and make us all feel good.

Nothing Obama does is without a political purpose. I suspect that by  treating the Ebola crisis in such a cavalier and counter-intuitive manner, he is taking attention away from the economy and the host of “phony” scandals haunting him. This is a calculated gamble. It is unlikely that there will be a lot of casualties to Ebola in the United States. However the cost and resources required to handle even a few dozen cases will be enormous, and occupy the headlines for weeks. At stake are the lives of those we depend on for our health and well being – nurses and doctors, not to mention the 4000 soldiers destined to serve in West Africa, their friends and dependents.


Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Ernest Istook – No Subsidies for Wind-Power

October 20, 2014, 1:23 PM

Former Oklahoma 7-term Congressman Ernest Istook is leading the charge against a renewal of the wind-power production tax credit which under which the federal government pays wind power producers 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour.  Even with this subsidy, wind power is more expensive than traditional fossil fuel power plants.

Over ten years the federal government has paid tens of billions of dollars to wind producers for unreliable power.  Istook points out that raising the costs of energy, as the PTC does, harms the poor, minorities and those on fixed incomes the worst.  He argues for an energy neutral energy policy.  No subsidies for any energy source and equal treatment under tax laws.


Categories: On the Blog

Killing Confidence in Our Government

October 20, 2014, 12:15 PM

What has been the over-riding theme of life in America since Barack Obama became President in 2008?

It has been the continued loss of confidence Americans have regarding various elements of the federal government. From the Centers for Disease Control, the Veterans Administration, the Secret Service, to the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service, these and other agencies have been tainted in ways that have turned his two terms into a litany of scandals and failures.

Obama is a President for whom politics is the sole reason against which every decision is made. The latest example was the naming of an Ebola Czar. “Sources confirm to Fox News that President Obama plans to name Ron Klain, a longtime political hand with no apparent medical or health background.” In the past, Klain has served as chief of staff to Al Gore and Joe Biden. Does this make you feel any better about the Ebola threat?

I think that most Americans—not the “low information” ignorant ones—are experiencing a generalized depression about the nation these days. It’s a sense of weariness because our paychecks don’t stretch enough in the supermarket where the cost of food, particularly meat and fish, is soaring.

We wonder about the quality of education our children or grandchildren are receiving. It’s poor when compared to other nations and it undermines a belief in America’s exceptionalism.

In growing numbers younger Americans are choosing not to marry because of the costs involved and because we live in a society that no longer frowns on a couple living together; nearly half of marriages end in divorce. And then there’s same-sex marriage, a concept that was unthinkable not that long ago and for centuries in all societies.

We’re now six years into the Great Recession thanks to a White House that thought that, if the government spent $834 billion on top of the national debt, it would somehow “stimulate” the economy but government spending did not relieve Americans during the Great Depression, generate new jobs or achieve anything else that this tried-and-failed liberal theory was said to do. Who was in charge of Obama’s “stimulus” program? Ron Klain, the new Ebola Czar.

Cutting taxes, slowing and reducing regulations, and generally getting out of the way to allow people to start or expand their businesses works, but the White House went the other direction. As an October 16 Wall Street Journal editorial noted, “Millions of American families haven’t had a raise in after-inflation incomes in years, but in Washington times are flush…the U.S. federal government rolled up record revenues of $3.013 trillion.” Individual income tax receipts rose by 5.9%, along with payroll taxes and corporate income taxes—very nearly the highest in the world—increased 16% to $321 billion.

Only the naïve or ignorant believe that the government knows how to spend our money better than we do, but liberals—Democrats—do. Their answer to every problem government encounters is more money, but not to repair and expand the infrastructure, roads and bridges, on which the nation depends and not for a military that is currently at low pre-World War Two levels of personnel and old equipment of every description.

Our current Secretary of State, John Kerry, is going around echoing the President, telling people that mankind is doomed because “climate change” is coming and will destroy all life unless billions or trillions are spent in ways that will avoid it. Only no one can avoid climate change because that’s what climate does; it changes with well-known and predictable cycles tied to the Sun’s cycles.

Our military’s mission is now being redirected to addressing “climate change” at a time when, having been withdrawn from Iraq, a new, larger and far more dangerous entity, the Islamic State, has emerged, stretching into Syria as well.

The President recently gave an interview to France’s Canel+ TV Channel and said that the American people need to be better educated about Islam, claiming that the U.S. should be regarded as a Muslim country because of the number of Muslims living here. The truth is that the U.S. has one of the smallest percentages of Muslims of any Western nation, about 1.5% of the population. Americans know everything they need to about Islam. They recently watched two of their countrymen beheaded by the Islamic State.

The President appears to prefer unapologetic liars as his advisors. Consider Susan Rice who came to fame by lying on five Sunday television shows that the Benghazi attack in 2012 was the result of a video no one had seen and more recently said that Turkey had agreed to permit the U.S. to undertake military flights to attack ISIS only to have Turkey deny that within hours. She is Obama’s national security advisor and that is cause enough for concern, but guess to whom the new Ebola Czar, Ron Klain, will be reporting? Susan Rice.

While Obama has been in office the population has been growing by virtue of the millions of illegal aliens that have been entering. This year there was a dramatic virtual invasion of children and others from Guatemala and San Salvador at the invitation of the President. They were quickly dispersed throughout the U.S. and just as quickly schools around the nation began to report outbreaks of the diseases they brought. At the same time, deportations have declined this year.

The President has sent more than 4,000 of our military to Africa’s Ebola hot zone and he did so rapidly as what will be described as a humanitarian gesture, but he has never seen any necessity to dispatch our military to our southern border to stem illegal entry. Indeed, his administration has taken Arizona to court when it passed legislation to address the problem. In the meantime, we are left to wonder what will happen if our soldiers become ill with Ebola?

Indeed, his signature legislation, ObamaCare, is destroying our healthcare system and is a testament to the lies he repeatedly told before the Democrats in Congress passed it in 2009. No Republican voted for it. After the midterm elections, hundreds of thousands will learn that their employers will no longer provide them with healthcare insurance.

Americans are left to wonder how the nation can survive a President who has steadily engaged in programs that have harmed America’s economy—he is the first to have had our national credit rating reduced.

In the process he has ignored the limits imposed on his office by the Constitution. The courts have repeatedly rebuked this.

On November 4th voters will have an opportunity to go to the polls and vote out as many of his supporters, incumbent Democrats and candidates for Congress, as possible. Our confidence in our government must be restored with new leadership.

Categories: On the Blog

A Young Person’s Guide to Energy Conservation

October 20, 2014, 6:03 AM

Energy has long lost the attention of the media, so we no longer think about ways we use energy and its effect on national policy or our pocketbooks.  However, the problems of energy supply we deemed a crisis in the 1970’s are still with us and a new crisis may be due to our own making.

U. S. warships are still in the Persian Gulf to keep open the supply of Middle East oil which still accounts for about one-quarter the world’s oil production. Conflicts in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Ukraine all involve energy supply. Poverty in Sub-Sahara Africa and its present Ebola crisis are due to 70 percent of its inhabitants not having access to electricity.

On an individual basis, stringent energy conservation can help postpone future crises and, for individuals, reduce the cost of living. After the cost of a home mortgage or rent, energy is the greatest expense for the average individual. (I am ignoring taxes and social security being an expense; politicians do.) For those with houses paid for, energy is the number one cost of living expense.

For individuals, energy is purchased in the form of gasoline, oil, natural gas, propane, and electricity. Over the period of one year, a family will spend $4,000-plus for energy. In order to achieve significant savings in energy costs, one must think about how energy is being used and the ways to reduce this consumption. The attitude of “I want to keep my money and not give it to oil companies or utilities,” must be developed.  Because of taxes, you have to earn two cents in order to have one cent to spend on energy.  Consequently, every cent saved on energy costs is equivalent to earning two cents.

The use of energy can be broken down into several broad categories: transportation, heating, air conditioning, water use, and miscellaneous. These categories are listed in decreasing order of expense. By use of these rules, I have been able to reduce my energy consumption by one-third of prior use.

The average home spends more than $3000 annually on gasoline; add in maintenance, insurance, and car tags and you are talking real money.

  1. Drive like a brake job cost $100,000.  Every time you use your brakes, you are converting gasoline energy into heat which consumes brake linings.  Don’t follow cars closely.  Anticipate traffic lights blocks ahead and coast to stops.  Don’t accelerate too fast and avoid making quick stops.  Front disc brakes should last 65,000 miles and rear brakes over 100,000 miles.
  2. Drive as fast as safe in city driving remembering the efficiency of motors improves with higher speeds.
  3. Keep your car perfectly tuned.  Determine your cars miles per gallon every time you add gas and if the mileage falls, realize some type of maintenance is in order.
  4. Don’t drive!   Walking is good for your health and saves on gas consumption.  It’s foolish driving around a parking lot looking for a close-in parking space.  Park the minute you enter a parking lot and walk to store’s entrances—this also saves on dents from parking between cars.
  5. Use radial tires and make sure proper air pressure is maintained at all times.  Keep a tire gauge and check tire pressure every month.  Don’t forget the spare tire.
  6. Avoid driving during periods of traffic congestion if possible.  Also avoid making senseless shopping trips.   Plan ahead and make several stops on the same trip.
  7. Consider car mileage when purchasing new cars.  The mileage for new and old cars is found at the website “fuel”.
  8. Use the cheapest gas available in your area.  The price of gasoline at all fuel stations is also found at “fuel”.
  9. Use air conditioning sparingly because it requires substantial engine power; however, at high speeds always have all windows closed to reduce air resistance and use air conditioning if needed for comfort.
  10. Help other drivers save on gasoline by letting them make left turns or into traffic flow when waiting.

Heating accounts for about 40 percent of the energy use for homes with air conditioning and 50 percent of energy use for homes without air conditioning.

  1. Seal all holes leading into a home with caulking.  This stops outside air infiltration and loss of heated air in the winter.  Holes may be found around window frames, door frames, and ceiling beams that extend outside.  This is by far the cheapest means of energy conservation and is quite effective.
  2. Weather strip all exterior doors and windows.
  3. Make sure the home is insulated to Building Code Standards.  For Atlanta, GA the minimum standard is 3 ½ inches of insulation (R-11) in exterior walls and 6 inches of insulation in exterior ceilings (R-19.  I prefer fiberglass batts for insulation because they hold their shape permanently, non-toxic, and cheap.  In addition, I recommend 12 inches insulation for attics.   For older homes without insulation it may be cost prohibitive to install wall insulation; however, attics are usually open and placing 12-inch batts is not expensive if the homeowner does the work.
  4. Install storm doors and storm windows.  Because of expense hiring proper installation, this may not be cost effective.  Benefits are great in energy savings and also reducing outside noise.  Keeping drapes closed can accomplish some of the effect of storm windows.  Double pane windows are also effective energy savers.  These are available at reasonable cost from building supply stores and if self-installed the payback period may be only ten years.  I properly installed double pane windows and storm windows giving me triple pane windows that made big heating improvements and almost eliminated outside noise.
  5. Insulate all supply and return ducts in the heating system if they are located in attics or crawl spaces.  In addition, make sure all duct joints are properly taped to prevent leakage.
  6. Clean and replace the air filter for the blower on a regular basis.
  7. Heat rooms only in use.  Do not shut off returns to your heating system; but you can shut off supply ducts as long as they don’t exceed 30 percent of supply lines.
  8. Install a programmable thermostat that allows temperature settings dependent upon the home use.  Late night temperatures can be set to 60 degrees that allows big savings—for every degree in setback the fuel savings may exceed 2 percent.   Set daytime temperatures according to occupancy of home.
  9. Avoid using exhaust fans in the kitchen or bathrooms.  Their use sends hot air outside and brings in cold air from the outside.
  10. Let the sun help heat the house in the winter by opening drapes of south facing windows during the daytime.

Homes with air conditioning use 25 to 35 percent of their energy use in this fashion.

  1. Employ items a, b, c, d, e, f, g, and h described under home heating.
  2. For central air conditioning systems clean the outside condenser coils every spring because this helps increase the efficiency of the air conditioner by maybe 10 or 20 percent.
  3. Set thermostat temperatures as high as comfortable.  Each degree increase may reduce energy use by 5 percent.
  4. For Southern states with high air conditioning use, utilities have summer peak demands from 5 to 7 on weekday evenings as homes switch on their air conditioners upon return from work.  Utilities are trying to reduce this load by offering variable pricing to discourage electricity use in peak demand periods.  Instead of charging 16 cents per kilowatt-hour for summer electricity, a utility may charge 28 cents per kilowatt-hour from 2-7 p.m. weekdays and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour the rest of the time.  The programmable thermostat can be used to lower utility bills by adopting this type of pricing.  Air conditioners are most efficient late at night when outside temperatures are at their lowest.  With a programmable thermostat the air conditioner can be set for 70 degrees from 11 p.m. until 8 a.m. in the morning.  For weekdays from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. the thermostat can be set for 73 degrees, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. the thermostat can be set for 80 degrees, and then from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. the thermostat can be set to 73 degrees.  On weekends the thermostat can be set for 73 degrees from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.  By not using the dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer during weekday peak hours, I have reduced my summer electricity bill by 20 percent.
  5. When replacing an air conditioner, make sure the unit is not oversized for the job.  Contractors like to specify one ton of air conditioning for every 500 square feet of living space.  If the techniques described in part “a” are employed, you can probably get by with one ton of air conditioning for every 800 square feet of living space.  The smaller unit will run longer and keep the humidity low which adds to comfort.
  6. Make sure there is ventilation in the attic.  If the attic is properly insulated, attic fans may not be economical in reducing power costs.
  7. In the daytime pull drapes over Southern and Western facing windows.  I have placed movable shutters on Western windows that totally block out incoming sun for the summer and allow sun in the winter.
  8. Avoid excessive use of exhaust fans because they pull hot air into the house.  However, use exhaust fans when taking showers because they add to humidity in the house.
  9. Air conditioners can be a source of water during a drought.  Water is taken out of the air by the cooling coils and pumped outside by a small pump.  For every ton of air conditioning you may produce 5 gallons of water per day.  This water can be collected and used for watering plants.

Water is becoming expensive across the country due to shortages and repairs of old water treatment and sewage plants.   In Atlanta, Georgia the average home uses 6000 gallons per month and the cost is $138.  The marginal rate for the last gallons used in 2.5 cents per gallon.  In addition to water costs, there is the heating cost for hot water needed for washing individuals, food services, and cloths.  Water heating can be 10 percent of home energy use.

  1. Use low flow toilets in the home that are1.6 gallons per flush or lower.  The Atlanta water system pays $100 each for replacement of old, high flow toilets.
  2. If you kill a bug and throw it into the toilet; don’t flush the toilet, it costs too much.
  3. Use water saving shower heads and faucets.  This may cut water heating costs in half.
  4. Use dishwashers because they save on water use and make sure they are full when using them.
  5. Use washing machines only when they are full of dirty cloths.
  6. Set the thermostat temperature on water heaters to the low setting of 120 degrees.  This reduces heat losses from water heaters and associated plumbing and also reduces chances of scalding from inappropriate application of hot water to humans.
  7. Insulating hot water pipes can save energy; however, cost benefits may be marginal.
  8. Heat losses from gas water heaters are matched to the energy output of the pilot light.  So the standby loss of a gas hot water heater is zero when the thermostat is set to the lowest level of 120 degrees.   Gas water heaters with pilot lights are convenient because they work during power outages.  So forget buying a gas water heater with electronic ignition.
  9. Electric water heaters are made to operate with heat pumps.  They are very expensive; but reduce energy demand by two-thirds.  If a home requires large amounts of hot water, this type of water heater may be economical.
  10. In the design of new homes or remodeling, locate kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas that use hot water close to the water heater in order to have short lengths of hot water plumbing.


  1. Save on lighting energy use by employing compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) or LED lighting.   These devices reduce lighting energy use by 80 percent.  CFLs are sold in home improvement stores for about $10 an eight-pack; while LED bulbs are about $15 apiece.  So CFLs are the financial choice; however, remember each CFL contains 4 milligrams of mercury, so their use demands locations in areas where breakage is unlikely.  After CFLs fail, they need to be returned to the purchase location for disposal.
  2. Buy and use energy savings appliances.  Microwave ovens use far less energy than stoves; so use them at all times when practical.
  3. New stoves and refrigerators are far more energy efficient than models sold twenty or more years ago.  When buying gas stoves, consider types without pilot lights and self-cleaning because they are better insulated and use less energy.
  4. Improve the efficiency of refrigerators or freezers by cleaning their condenser coils annually.
  5. Keep refrigerators and freezers full as possible and avoid excessive or prolonged opening their doors.
  6. When cooking on stove tops use covered pans to save energy.
  7. Place furniture around interior walls of rooms in order to have increased comfort in both summer and winter.
  8. Cloth’s dryers suck in outside air during operation.   Arrange their time of use so they do the least demand on heating or air conditioning systems.
  9. Turn computers off when not in use for extended periods like overnight.
  10. Flat screen televisions use substantially less energy than older models.  If TV sets are old, large models, and used a lot; consider buying a new one.  Turn televisions off when not in use.

Employing these tips can save hundreds to thousands of dollars annually.  Always keep energy in mind during daily activities and save money for other uses and benefit the nation’s best interests.

Categories: On the Blog

HBO Streaming Announcement Is Good News for All Entertainment Consumers, Not Just HBO Watchers

October 19, 2014, 6:48 PM

Acting on plans reported here a month ago, entertainment channel HBO has decided to end its thirty-plus-year dependence on cable and satellite distributors, announcing it will offer an online streaming video service beginning next year. Following a trail blazed by Netflix,, Acorn Media, and others, HBO will offer the service without a cable subscription in an effort to reach the ten-million-plus broadband-only homes, a category that is increasing steadily.

In his announcement, HBO chairman and CEO Richard Piepler said that the company had not yet decided what distribution method to use: partnering with a cable or Internet provider or offering the service directly to consumers on the Netflix model. A possible clue to HBO’s thinking is its deal, reached earlier this year, to license much of its library to Amazon for the latter’s Prime service.

One imagines that HBO’s accounting people ran the numbers for the various scenarios before the bosses made the decision to go solo, so it seems likely that HBO already knows what direction they want to take. And the fact that they haven’t yet announced their specific plan suggests that it isn’t option three, to go it alone, as they certainly could have made that part of the announcement had they chosen. And given the ferment regarding net neutrality—the idea, fostered by Google, Netflix, and other big business users of internet bandwidth, that the government should ban broadband providers from charging fair prices for the use of their information pipelines—it makes sense for HBO to stay out of that morass and let a partner deal with the headache of delivering the service to its customers.

In any case, this is good news for entertainment consumers, even those of us who are not interested in HBO’s programs. When Turner Classic Movies goes solo, I will be very tempted to take down my satellite dish.

Such an exodus away from the current cable and satellite delivery system may turn out to be what finally breaks the hold of ESPN, Disney, Viacom, and other powerful entertainment conglomerates on people’s pocketbooks. These corporations have long benefited from the practice of bundling, in which content providers force cable and satellite companies to buy several unpopular channels in order to get the one people do watch, and they charge the distributors (the cable and satellite companies) extortionate fees to carry the programming bundles. Thus people across the country who have cable or satellite TV are required to pay an average of $5 per month apiece to ESPN owner Disney Corp. in order to get cable, even if they hate ESPN and never watch it.

Those companies and the major sports leagues have made an outrageous fortune off of people who never watch their programming, and the same is the case for Disney’s other channels and Viacom and the like. The cable and satellite providers have been unable to break these programmers’ power, and that is what has been behind the dizzying rise of monthly fees for these services. That can’t go on much longer, and HBO’s announcement is quite revealing, as a powerful programming source is clearly eyeing the door in obvious awareness that the current system is unsustainable.

We will soon find out how many HBO viewers resent having to pay huge fees for ESPN, Disney, and Viacom programs they don’t watch.

Change is going to come, and probably sooner than most parties imagine. HBO’s announcement is a strong indication that it’s “game on” now in the entertainment media world—and in the case of ESPN and the other big entertainment providers, perhaps “game over” very soon for their current cushy deals.

[First published at The American Culture.]


Categories: On the Blog

Black Thursday Is Coming in December: Politicians Want Green, Taxpayers Will See Red!

October 19, 2014, 3:00 PM

A yearly $14.7 billion tax increase could be in place as early as mid-December courtesy of the leaders of the U.S. Senate.

Almost immediately after the World Wide Web made its debut some folks were hard at work figuring out a way to muscle in on the action. Some proposed taxing Internet access while others wanted to charge a higher tax on items bought via the Web than if that same item had been bought at a brick-and-mortar store. This Internet looting led to the passage of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) in 1998, 16 years ago.

Originally intended to be permanent but negotiated down to temporary, and grandfathering in jurisdictions that were already taxing Internet access to give them time to adjust their tax codes and budgets, the law put in place a moratorium on “Internet taxes,” that is, taxes on Internet access and on multiple or discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce. Since then, ITFA has been extended several times, including recently when it was extended until Thursday, December 11—or what we should dub another Black Thursday.

The American Action Forum released an analysis showing that the cost to taxpayers would be $14.7 billion annually. This tax increase is the very real cost of failing to extend the moratorium permanently.

Who would support this massive tax increase in the middle of a still struggling, sluggish economy?  As the private and public sectors spend millions of dollars to ensure people have broadband access, why impose a new tax that will disproportionately affect those least able to pay?

The only thing holding back a permanent moratorium and removing the grandfathered jurisdictions seems to be the Senate, where Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin are holding the moratorium hostage as they try to find a way to force through something oxymoronically named the Mainstreet Fairness Act (MFA).

The proposal would do  away with any requirement that a business have a physical connection to a jurisdiction before it can be forced to levy taxes on its sales. If this law were to pass, a person merely calling up a business’s Website would be enough to require that a business pay taxes in the state where the customer resides. Out-of-state tax authorities could audit businesses in any state. A discriminatory Internet tax would look promising by comparison.

But holding the moratorium hostage to the MFA is illogical at best, and perhaps legislative malpractice. The moratorium staves off a huge tax increase, while the MFA enables vastly broader powers for tax authorities. Virtually opposite goals.

In addition, the MFA is fundamentally about where a taxable transaction takes place, a far more complicated discussion than a prohibition on discriminatory taxation. The MFA is appropriately fully debated in the context of how location-based taxation should be handled in an age of digital transactions, not smuggled through Congress via some hidden trick in an attempt to please a narrow constituency.

The number of cosponsors and the congressional committee votes demonstrate that a permanent moratorium that removes the grandfathered jurisdictions has a huge margin of support. However, if the two bills are forced together in the Senate nothing will pass, and the country will labor under another huge tax increase.

[Originally published at the Institute for Policy Innovation]

Categories: On the Blog