Comcast has instituted a program, now in its second year, called Internet Essentials. Its purpose is to give low-income families — those eligible for school lunch programs — affordable access to broadband technology in the home.
The program provides Internet service for $9.95 a month (plus government taxes, natch) and a $150 computer. And Comcast also provides personal service — training for families to get them up to speed with the digital age.
All this is done without taxpayer money — so no “sequester” dodge — and has impacted the lives of 150,000 families.
Says Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen:
“To put that in perspective, that’s approximately the entire population of Washington, D.C. or Boston. Internet Essentials is not just about broadband adoption, however. It’s also about what the Internet can do for families, from finding a job to completing homework to accessing vital healthcare resources. While we’re pleased with our progress to date, we have more work to do to bring more families into the digital age.”
In just two years, this program has:
• Printed and shipped more than 25 million pieces of collateral material for free.
• Fielded more than one million phone calls in our dedicated Internet Essentials call center.
• Distributed more than 15,000 computers at less than $150 each.
• Trained 10,000 people in-person about digital literacy and how to use the Internet.
• Received more than 800,000 visitors to the Internet Essentials and Internet Basico websites.
• Partnered with almost 7,000 community-based organizations; government agencies and federal, state and local elected officials.
Learn more about this program here — where you will be guided by the smiling face and happy voice of NBC’s Al Roker. It’s a good example of what private firms do every day, but get little attention for it because it’s not a government-run program.
In fact, it’s better — because it comes without the bloat and failure of most programs run out of Washington.
This response to The Heartland Institute’s Monday press release about Obama tapping Gina McCarthy to be the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency was too fun not to share.
Our experts didn’t think much of the news. A climate “journalist” thought even less of the release than Heartland’s experts did of the news.
This is from Paul Koberstein — who apparently writes for something called the Cascadia Times in Portland, Oregon — and could not resist emailing me a profane rant … IN ALL CAPS, of course:WHAT IS THIS SHIT…. GET OUT OF MY INBOX FUCKING LIARS FUCK YOU FUCK YOU YOU PLANTET RAPERS
For the record, all our press releases come with an easy-to-see “unsubscribe” link at the bottom. I was kind enough to click it for Mr. Koberstein. I wouldn’t want to cause him to go into a spasm of illiterate swearing again.My conscience is clear.
Auditing the Fed, replacing Fed monetary policy discretion with a mandatory price rule governing policy, even the gold standard, Nobel Laureate Friedreich Hayek pushed the envelope beyond all of these. He advocated running the world economy on competing private currencies.
A competitive private market for money, instead of an arbitrary government monopoly amounting to a license to steal for the ruling class? How could that ever work?
Just like any other competitive private market for any other good or service, Hayek would answer, which is a lot better than a government monopoly. But doesn’t the government have to determine the standard for any society’s money, just like it determines the standards for the society’s weights and measures?
Actually, the governing standards for weights and measures historically grew out of the competitive private marketplace of ideas in every culture. The government only validated society’s determination. But in regard to money, governments have abused their monopolies since ancient times.
Kings and Emperors would start out with pure gold or silver coins. But then they would melt down the old and reissue them debauched with increasing portions of less precious metal alloys. Hence the beginning of inflation, with markets devaluing the debauched currency.
Paper currency began as warehouse receipts for specified weights of gold or silver. The bearer could turn them in for the actual specie. But the custom developed of just using the paper receipts as the medium of exchange, with few if any showing up to demand the actual gold. Governments soon began to abuse this, issuing more and more warehouse receipts without enough gold to back them, which enabled the government to buy more goods and services.
That meant inflation as well, and threatened to spark runs on the gold reserves. Governments would respond by “devaluing” the currencies, arbitrarily reducing the amount of gold each unit of currency was worth. But that meant more inflation.
Such inflation amounted to sophisticated stealing, of course, as the value of savings by the industrious would be devalued in the process as well. That value effectively went to the irresponsible and dishonest governments abusing their currencies. Inflation also amounted to the first redistributionist policies, effectively stealing from creditors to favor debtors, who could pay back their debts in depreciated currency.
Inflationary policies consequently developed a constituency among debtors. But that policy was short sighted, as the redistributive theft discourages the savings and investment that are the foundation of economic growth, and rising prosperity for all, as such policies do to this day.
Hayek argued that in competitive private markets, private currency issuers would compete to maintain the value of their currencies. Those who were less reliable or effectively stole from their customers would be driven out of the market.
From the early rise of capitalism, private bankers issued their own currencies, or specie warehouse receipts. But governments drove them out over time, disdaining the competition. The monopoly of the dollar in the United States was achieved by taxing private and state currencies out of existence in the 19th century.
But in their new book, Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity, Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne document the new rise of effectively competing private currencies. Lietaer, MIT PhD in economics, served as an official of the Central Bank of Belgium, and as President of Belgium’s Electronic Payment System. He was an architect of the EU, and Business Week named him “the world’s top currency trader” in 1992. Dunne is an award winning journalist, and a leader in promoting development of environment friendly technologies.
Lietaer and Dunne report more than 4,000 unofficial, private currencies already operational in the world today. They call these complementary orcooperative rather than competing currencies because they are not competing to replace the official currency, but to complement it where it is leaving available resources unused.
The most easily recognized complementary currency is frequent flyer miles, now issued by 92 airlines. These do not involve just bonus or discount tickets in return for repeat flight business. “Increasingly, frequent flyer miles are redeemable for a variety of services besides airline tickets, such as long-distance and mobile phone calls, hotels, cruises, and catalog merchandise,” the authors write. Yet, more than half of frequent flyer miles “are not earned by flying. Instead, credit cards that offer bonus miles with purchases have become the most popular way to earn frequent flyer credits.” Consequently, the authors rightly conclude that the frequent flyer miles have “developed into a corporate scrip – a private currency issued, in this case, by airlines.”
Another private currency model is time-backed currency, which has been spearheaded by liberal lawyer Edgar Cahn, former advisor to Robert Kennedy and Sargent Shriver. Participants provide an hour of service to earn an hour of service in return, involving such services as tutoring students, teaching English or other languages, gardening and lawncare, housecleaning, helping the homeless and teaching them skills, rides for those without transportation (or for seniors who can no longer drive), respite care freeing caregivers for children with special needs, adults with disabilities, and aged seniors to take a break, and other services. Lietaer and Dunne add,
“Mayor Bloomberg has launched TimeBanking for seniors in all five boroughs of New York, as baby boomers turn 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next two decades. Seniors can live longer in their homes independently because they can avail themselves of services offered by people within their time bank community, such as rides to a doctors appointment or help with writing letters to their insurance company.”
Cahn reports there are nearly 300 TimeBanks in the U.S., another 300 in the United Kingdom, with TimeBanking now spread to another 34 countries internationally.
This mutual exchange concept is expanded more broadly in the LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) model of private currencies. Participants trade goods and services to each other in return for agreed LETS credits, which are recorded in a central exchange. Lietaer and Dunne quote Michael Linton explaining how LETS enabled economic recovery in a small town near Vancouver:
“We are a town of 50,000 people, and the major industry was a defense base, plus the town was a dormitory for timber, mining, fishing, and a bit of tourism at that stage. In 1982, everything stopped. The defense base moved, and the Bank of Canada was running at 14 percent prime, and mortgages were approximately 18 to 20 percent. I was a sole proprietor business….When the sand ran out of the economy, my business dried up in a matter of months, as it did for many others.”
But after LETS was created, the currency was used by participating employers to hire the unemployed to produce the many goods and services the community needed. This positive result in reviving depressed local economies has been repeated many times around the world by introducing such cooperative, complementary currencies in the area. Lietaer and Dunne suggest that there is special opportunity for such private currencies anytime there are unused resources that can be linked with unmet needs, which the established currency is not serving, as in the example above. They suggest that such LETS currencies “are the most frequent cooperative currency system in the world today.”
Indeed, such private complementary currencies have arisen to serve local economies around the globe on a regional basis. Lietaer and Dunne write, “Germany and Austria are now spearheading regional currencies, generically called regios, which complement the euro.” Participating local businesses, from shops to restaurants, accept the regional currency for their goods and services.
One example is the Chiemgauer system based in Bavaria in southern Germany. Lietaer and Dunne explain:
“Today, there are 600 participating businesses with 550,000 Cheimgauers in circulation and a turnover equivalent of over 6 million euros in 2011….The Sternthaler currency, which operates in the adjacent area of Upper Bavaria, and partnering with Chiemgauer, provides access to an additional 500 businesses to the system. Seventy-five percent of the money is now in electronic form….Ten local branches of cooperative banks provide banking services in Chiemgauer.”
Another such private, regional currency is Berkshares, traded in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. Lietaer and Dunne write, “The 13 branches of five local banks operate as exchange bureaus and have issued 3.3 million Berkshares to date [since 2006]. Currently, more than 400 businesses have signed up to accept the currency.” The banks grant 100 Berkshares for $95, and participating businesses accept each Berkshare as $1, providing an incentive for consumers to use Berkshares to shop at local businesses. This represents one feature of such currencies, each can be designed as the issuer thinks would best serve the targeted market. People are free to use the currency or not, and no government permission is needed to launch it.
Merchants use the Berkshare to trade among themselves as well, and some local employers partially pay their employees in the currency. Local banks accept Berkshare deposits.
The most prominent of such regional private currencies is the WIR in Switzerland, started by businesses in the economic crisis of the 1930s, when the banks cut off their lines of credit, threatening their survival. They started the WIR mutual credit system among themselves, paying each other for goods and services in the currency, instead of succumbing to the worldwide depression. Their employees and customers began trading in the currency as well. A cooperative among these businesses keeps the accounts dealing in the currency.
“Over time, the system grew to include up to a quarter of all the businesses in Switzerland,” Lietaer and Dunne write. The WIR is administered by a bank headquartered in Basel, with 7 regional offices. The same concept is now being tried in Vermont.
[First published at Forbes.]
If global warming were truly a crisis, China would be the earth’s bad-guy bully. China emits more carbon dioxide than any other nation on earth. Heck, China emits more carbon dioxide than all the nations in the Western Hemisphere combined. China’s emissions have more than tripled since 2000, even while the United States and other nations have cut their own. China by itself caused most of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions this century.
That being the case, it is surprising how often global warming alarmists throw love at China on energy and climate issues, saying we should emulate the Far East superpower:
- Media across the alarmist spectrum are gushing with praise and envy this week in the wake of China announcing it may impose a small tax on carbon dioxide emissions.
- The reliably alarmist Bloomberg media site published an article last month titled, “China, Mexico Leading Fight on Climate Change with New CO2 Laws.” (Mexican emissions, like those of China, have increased this century while U.S. emissions have declined.)
- And during this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama claimed, “As long as countries like China keep going all in on clean energy, so must we.”
So just how is China going “all in” on clean energy?
Global warming alarmists tell us coal is the dirtiest form of electricity production, yet China produces 70 percent of its electricity from coal. By contrast, coal accounts for only 40 percent of U.S. electricity generation.
China produces merely 1 percent of its electricity from non-hydro renewable power, while the United States produces 5 percent of its electricity from non-hydro renewable power.
China uses more coal, uses less renewable power, emits more carbon dioxide, emits more pollutants across the board, and is on a trajectory of tremendously higher future pollution levels. The United States, by contrast, uses less coal, uses more renewable power, emits less carbon dioxide, emits fewer pollutants across the board, and is continually reducing its emissions of carbon dioxide and pollutants.
As the Bloomberg article notes, China has central planning programs on the books allegedly addressing climate change. And now China is pledging to enact a modest carbon tax (which may or may not actually be enforced, even if it is enacted.) Nevertheless, Chinese emissions continue to dramatically rise, while U.S. emissions continue to decline.
Global warming alarmists and environmental activists constantly praise China and hold the nation up as an example for the United States to follow. Yet the two nations are on distinctly different trajectories regarding carbon dioxide emissions and environmental quality. Given the choice between a policy of more taxes and more government programs that do nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and a policy of fewer taxes and fewer government programs that nevertheless result in declining carbon dioxide emissions, I will take the latter. It is surprising (then again, maybe not) that so many self-professed global warming advocates prefer the former.
When it comes to choosing between a carbon tax and fewer carbon dioxide emissions, alarmists show their true colors by turning up their noses at real-world carbon dioxide reductions and instead pushing wholeheartedly for ineffective central planning and carbon taxes.
“Forget the carbon, we demand the tax!”
[First published at Forbes.]
Anyone who still believes that the United States of America has a “free” market economy has obviously not taken a look at the health care sector lately. Speaking as a practicing lawyer, one reliable measure of how heavily-regulated an industry may be is how many lawyers it keeps employed, both directly and indirectly.
Already one of the most heavily regulated industries on earth, the American health care sector in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” has become one huge rent-seeking missile for lawyers.
Consider, for example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referred to as “HIPAA.” You probably know it as the statute that requires delivery of pounds of paperwork regarding your privacy rights directly to your mailbox while the receptionist, when it comes time for your appointment, continues to call your name loudly in front of everyone else in the waiting room.
But as medical care providers have moved increasingly towards keeping records electronically rather than on paper and therefore turn like the rest of us to “business associates” to manage electronic information, recent HIPAA revisions have been required to redefine what it means to be a business associate, to redefine rules for notifying patients and the government of potential privacy breaches and, of course, to redefine HIPAA’s “penalty structure.”
In 2009, as the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin recently reminds us, our acronym-loving Congress gave us the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act – or “HITECH” – as part of the Orwellian-named American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). (You’d think they could have at least called it the American Recovery and Government Help! act, or “ARGH!”)
In keeping with the current administration’s “nudge” theory of incentivizing certain behaviors, ARRA (or ARGH!) aims to create a national care information technology infrastructure, together with “specific incentives designed to accelerate the adoption of electronic health record systems among providers” while still, of course, ensuring your medical privacy. With ever-increasing cyber-attacks on American computer databases from China, al-Qaeda, and Iran, what could possibly go wrong?
The published “interim final” regulations just for “Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information” run to over thirty full pages in the Federal Register, and if you really want to read them you can find them here. But let me save you some trouble: according to the Department of Health and Human Services website, “This new federal law ensures that covered entities and business associates are accountable to the Department and to individuals for proper safeguarding of the private information entrusted to their care.”
Got it? Good. Because if you’re a “covered entity” or “business associate” and you “secure health information as specified by the guidance through encryption or destruction,” then according to HHS you are “relieved from having to notify in the event of a breach of such information.” (Fortunately, for your convenience, this guidance will be “updated annually.”) But if you don’t, then you must inform the affected patients and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and you may get fined – as much as $50,000 per violation, depending on severity and circumstances – and according to a practitioner quoted in the Law Bulletin story each record that gets released is its own violation.
So if you’re a provider or a business associate, be sure you don’t go leaving your laptop containing patient information on the bus or the train. But according to another practitioner quoted in the same story, a lot of lawyers will set up a “business associate agreement” for the same $50,000 that you might get fined if you don’t have one. And if you’re a patient and the Chinese or al Qaeda nonetheless gets hold of the records of your last prostate exam, then at least the U. S. government can collect a fine from your health care provider or its business associates.
In the end, then, everybody wins – except for common sense, the taxpayer, and the hopes of streamlining government in the wake of sequestration.
Welcome back to Nannyland!
On Friday, the Department of State released a 2,000-page draft review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. If approved, the pipeline will carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from oil sands in Canada and the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and Montana to Gulf Coast refineries.
The review did not recommend approval of the pipeline, but raised no major objections, concluding that the project was “unlikely to have a substantial impact” on the climate or oil sands production. Nevertheless, the same-day outrage from liberal politicians and environmental groups was caustic.
The report found that the $3.3 billion Keystone XL project would create 42,100 US jobs during the two-year construction period. In addition to construction of the pipeline, new electrical transmission and power substations would be required. The project would generate an estimated $65 million in use and sales taxes for traversed states.
If approved, Gulf Coast facilities would refine more oil from Canada and the northern US and less from the Middle East. Keystone could potentially replace 45 percent of the oil imported from the Persian Gulf. At $90 per barrel, this would supplant $27 billion in annual payments to Saudi Arabia and Gulf Coast nations with payments to Canada and US citizens.
Van Jones, CNN contributor, raised fears of an oil leak, calling Keystone the “Obama pipeline” and saying that a leak “could be the worst oil disaster in American farmland history.” Proper environmental care must be taken, but Americans know how to build pipelines. The proposed 875-mile pipeline would add to the 55,000 miles of U.S. crude oil pipelines that have been operating for decades. The lower Great Plains region over the Ogallala aquifer is already crisscrossed by tens of thousands of miles of pipelines. The report concluded that potential oil leaks were unlikely to affect groundwater quality in four major aquifers.
However, oil leaks are a red herring issue. The keystone pipeline battle has always been about the ideology of Climatism, the belief that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate. Proponents of the theory of man-made warming warn that mankind’s tiny contribution to a trace gas in our atmosphere, carbon dioxide, causes extreme hurricanes, droughts, floods, snowstorms, rising seas, polar bear extinction, and other projected calamities. Canadian oil sands have become a lightning rod for climate activism.
Congressional representative Henry Waxman issued a press release, stating “The draft impact statement appears to be seriously flawed. We don’t need this dirty oil. To stop climate change and the destructive storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires that we are already experiencing, we should be investing in clean energy, not building a pipeline that will speed the exploitation of Canada’s highly polluting tar sands.”
Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford said “…it’s just untrue that piping oil from the Tar Sands will not have a devastating impact on our climate. To fulfill his promise to the American people to address global warming, the President must say no to the Keystone Pipeline.” But the State Department draft review points out that Canadian oil sands will be mined, regardless of whether the pipeline is built or not.
The review estimates that if Keystone is not built, oil sands production will be only 0.4 to 0.6 percent less that if the pipeline is built, or less than 0.83 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions annually. This difference equates to less than two hours of U.S. emissions, a negligible amount. Seventy-four million US housecats annually cause an estimated 196 times this emissions volume. Why isn’t Greenpeace urging President Obama to ban cats?
If not through Keystone, mined oil will be transported by rail, truck, or planned pipelines in Canada. Last month, the China Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) completed the purchase of Nexen, a major producer of oil from Canadian sands, for $15 billion. CNOOC would not have purchased Nexen without assurance by the Canadian government that the oil can be harvested.
Mr. President, it’s your decision. On one side is the common-sense choice of more jobs, economic growth, reduced dependence on Mideast oil, and a negligible increase in greenhouse gas emissions. On the other side is Climatist ideology. Which will you choose?
[First published at The Washington Times.]
On February 20, Secretary of State John Kerry gave his first speech, as Secretary, at the University of Virginia where he offered a glimpse of how he sees tackling climate change as part of his job—as is “reducing nuclear threat,” “fighting corruption in Nigeria,” and breaking “the cycle of poverty, poor nutrition and hunger.”
On the same day, February 20, NASA’s James Hansen was speaking in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the Lensic Theater, with a follow-up presentation the next day at the Santa Fe Institute where he proposed “a steep energy tax to curb global warming.”
In Kerry’s introductory comments he says: “So our challenge is to … offer even the most remote place on earth the same choices that have made us strong and free.” Later, he launches into his climate change litany, and talks about developing and deploying “the clean technologies that will power a new world”—yet the inefficient, intermittent, and uneconomical “clean technologies” are not what made America “strong and free.” America became a superpower on the basis of energy that was abundant, available, and affordable. Now, in the cause of climate change, we want to deny developing countries the same benefits we’ve had?
Additionally, Kerry acknowledges: “We are all in this one together. No nation can stand alone.” After 15 years of supporters’ best efforts, the global community has rejected the Kyoto Protocol—which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries on the theory that it would stop global warming. It expired December 31, 2012. The world’s biggest emitters refused to sign on, the US never ratified it, and Canada has since completely backed out. The UK is likely not far behind.
Last week, London’s Daily Express featured a story titled: “Blackout Britain: EU environmental directive puts millions at risk of power cuts”—which concluded with the following: “We are facing disaster on energy prices. The dynamic has changed, but the thinking hasn’t.” A few days earlier, February 20, another Daily Express headline addressed the panic the UK is facing: “Cheaper energy is more important than going green.” The “cheaper energy” article cites “rising energy prices” that have “gone up 159 per cent since 2004” and quotes Energy Secretary Ed Davey as saying: “energy prices are now out of control.”
The author states: “Our energy policy is no longer dictated by the need to keep supply plentiful and cheap which for decades was the basis of all planning. Today energy policy is framed with only one factor in mind: satisfying the green lobby.” He concludes: “in the UK we let the green lobby sneer at fracking and barely even pay lip-service to its possibilities, at the same time as we close down productive power plants and stand back watching while prices go through the stratosphere.”
It is true, Secretary Kerry, that “no one nation can stand alone.” But he has promised we will rise to meet the challenge of tackling climate change—rising energy prices, that is.
Even Dr. Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges a “17-year pause in global temperature rises, confirmed recently by Britain’s Met Office.” At Melbourne’s Deakin University, Dr. Pachauri said: “People have to question these things and science only thrives on the basis of questioning.” He continued: “no doubt about it,” it is good for controversial issues to be “thrashed out in the public arena.”
Which takes us to Dr. Hansen’s presentations in Santa Fe—primarily attended by sycophants carrying copies of his book:Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. However, four scientists also attended—a meteorologist, a physicist, a biologist, and a geologist.
No transcript of the speech is available, however the Santa Fe New Mexican covered Hansen’s presentation at the Institute, during which he predicted catastrophes, such as rising seas and species extinctions “if carbon-based fuels continue to be used at the same rate as today.” He believes “efforts to stem climate change will be ineffectual as long as fossil fuels remain the cheapest form of energy,” and therefore he “proposed a new tax for carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal.” Yet, he stated: “Government shouldn’t be making decisions as to what the next energy sources are. Let the marketplace make the decision.” He wants a tax to make fossil fuels unattractive, but the government should let the marketplace decide?
“That wasn’t the only nonsensical idea he presented,” the scientists told me.
Robert Endlich, the meteorologist, reported: “One item after another struck me as being completely at odds with measurements. For instance, Hansen claimed Earth’s energy balance is out of balance, and we are warming rapidly, but recent global surface temperatures of land and water have not increased and, in fact, many measures show cooling over the past 17-19 years. In the US, there has not been a new state maximum temperature record set since 1995, and, in spite of the claims to the contrary, July,1936, is still the warmest month on record, set when CO2 was less than 300 parts per million. CO2 is now 395 PPM.”
Bernie McCune holds degrees in both engineering and biology and has worked with both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Hansen admitted there is still some question,” McCune said. “But, his presentation was mostly political and didn’t prove that CO2 is the problem; it didn’t show that humans had anything to do with it.”
Jerry Clark, the physicist, who has spent 30 years tracking data from the relay satellite system, talked to one of the organizers before the meeting. The young man was surprised to learn that not all scientists agreed with Hansen. Clark feels frustrated because “the opportunity for opposing views to receive equal time and billing with Dr. Hansen does not exist; nor will the apologists engage in data comparisons.” Instead of the short-term charts Hansen presented, Clark wants to see the data and the real records. Drawing from his experiences on his college debate team, Clark was surprised that “Hansen didn’t even try to justify his thesis of man-made global warming.”
John Clema looks at the geologic history when he says: “Hansen’s claim of ‘extinction of 30 percent to 50 percent of animal species’ is nothing more than shameless spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. More than 98% of all the plants and animals that we currently know of are from the fossil record. There is no evidence that connects CO2 to these extinctions other than the strong possibility of linking huge volcanic activity to some timeframes where extinctions have occurred. In the geologic record, there are times when we’ve had much higher CO2 than at present—yet there are few recognizable extinctions. Nor is there any link between CO2 from fossil fuels and global warming. We are still in an interglacial period were warming could be expected—but Hansen can’t prove any part of this is due to human activity. Warm and wet is good for our species, cold and dry is not.”
At the end of Hansen’s presentation, there was a brief question and answer time. Only four questioners got answers. In response to Endlich’s question: “Observations show 10 years of warming from 1988 to 1998, but steady and by many measures, even falling temperatures since—a period over 17 years where the temperature has not risen at all. The total rise since 1988 has been only 0.2-0.3C. To what do you attribute the poor performance of that prediction?” Hansen first acknowledged the sun’s involvement, then he denied that the globe had not warmed—despite Pachauri’s admission that the warming had stalled.
Pachauri’s February 24 speech invited traditional scientific give and take, yet Hansen refused additional discussion with the scientists. When Endlich showed data from the Vostok and the Greenland ice cores, Hansen blew him off, saying: “you are wrong!” End of discussion.
The Santa Fe New Mexican’s headline for Hansen’s visit was: “a steep energy tax to curb global warming.” Perhaps Hansen was tipping his hand, confirming the rumor that Obama will approve the long-delayed, but much-needed Keystone pipeline if Congress will approve a carbon tax. Tit for tat.
Just what our teetering economy needs: higher energy prices. What planet do these guys come from?
[First published at Townhall.]
Someone should let Obama and McCarthy know that John Deere doesn’t have the electric or solar-powered tractor on the drawing board. It turns out the battery for such a tractor would be larger than the tractor itself and would have to be recharged on an hourly basis. One might as well try inventing an electric airplane. Let’s face it, some mechanical devices are simply destined by the laws of physics to make use of fossil fuel.
Fossil fuel provides a whopping 20,000 man-hours of energy per barrel of oil, which sells for less than $100. This means that even if tractors and harvesters are only 50-percent efficient in converting fuel into work, they’re still operating at less than one penny per man-hour. (W = Fd, where W is work, F is constant force of magnitude, and d is distance.) And this, in essence, explains why we in America pay roughly half what Europeans pay for food. Not only do American farmers make use of more advanced technologies on their farms, but they pay far less for the fuel it takes to put a crop in and harvest it efficiently.
Do you feel like doubling your grocery bill? No… neither do I. But there are many urban activists out there who actually envision what they refer to as a “sunshine-based” food economy. But with American farmers accounting for a whopping 37 percent of America’s current greenhouse-gas emissions − due primarily to their reliance on fossil fuels − anyone who’s ever actually worked on a farm knows diesel and gasoline are here to stay. As such, any attempt to “transform” the nation’s energy-use by discouraging the use of diesel and gasoline, perhaps through the regulatory introduction of a carbon tax, will only drive up every American farmer’s fuel bill, thereby driving up the cost of food.
The only renewable alternative to fossil fuel which is even worthy of consideration at present is of course biofuel, which is fuel derived from crops. The problem though, is that this dream constitutes a huge logical inconsistency. If farmers are forced to grow more crops for biofuel instead of food, they’ll sooner or later run out of land for food production. And to even believe that at some future date it might become possible for farmers to grow enough crops to feed everyone AND provide all the fuel America needs − much of which, I remind you, farmers themselves use − one must essentially embrace a belief in the concept of perpetual motion. And surely every sound-minded person knows that’s impossible.
Then there’s algae. But while publicly-funded experiments are indeed underway to produce biofuel from algae, why would anyone volunteer to pay through the nose for food and fuel in the meantime while this technology remains in its infancy? At the end of the day, biofuel in any form, along with it the whole concept of a “sunshine-based” food economy, is little more than a joke, at least from any serious scientific perspective. Rising food costs on the other hand, well that’s no joke, especially with so many Americans out of work.
Let’s all hope and pray that Gina McCarthy quietly rides out her term at EPA and that she doesn’t make any serious attempt to achieve politically what science dictates is physically impossible.
- Lynn Dicks, a “Natural environment Research Council Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK,” says “lies and exaggeration on both sides are a necessary part of the democratic process to trigger rapid policy change” and “when I saw the exaggerated pollinator [bees]-decline claim attributed to me in The Guardian I did not seek to correct it….” Amazing. Shouldn’t she be fired? But given her title, maybe she doesn’t really currently have a job.
- A review by Robert P. Crease of the new book Maverick Genius: The Pioneering Odyssey of Freeman Dyson by Phillip Schewe (Thomas Dunne Books, 2013), which mentions in passing and in a dismissive fashion his skepticism about global warming. You would think that when one of the world’s most eminent theoretical physicists denounces global warming alarmism in the most plain and emphatic terms possible that the folks at Nature would take him seriously. But no…
- Two articles about fracking, one claiming the “production of shale gas and oil in the US is overhyped and the costs are underestimated” and the second praises environmentalist efforts to slow down fracking in China. I suppose lowering emissions by trading gas for coal takes second place to the mission of slowing down the world’s engines of commerce.
- A report that the National Academy of Sciences will receive a staggering $350 million from BP, the British oil company, during the next five years, “money that officials at the NAS say the were surprised to receive.” No mention of any potential conflict of interest here, since the reporter clearly views this as a “good guy” getting money from a “bad guy.” How much of the money will end up fueling junk science? Given the recent scandals involving peer reviewed journals, probably quite a lot. The final sentence of the article quotes a biologist in Florida saying “Once the cheques start showing up, there will be an enormous amount of pressure to spend.” And the result will be more alarmism about more natural phenomenon, since after all, that’s what publishers want.
- Three articles on global warming and tropical carbon sequestration. Two are pretty technical, but I gather that the first article (nontechnical) tries to explain away the implications of the second article, which lowers the probability of a tropical rain forest die-back “by almost two orders of magnitude from 21% to 0.24%” (p. 343). The third article also appears to challenge the notion that ecosystems are fragile: “This indicates biome-scale resilience to the interannual variability associated with the early twenty-first century drought — that is, the capacity to tolerate low, annual precipitation and to respond to subsequent periods of favourable water balance” (p. 349). That would seem to be good news, but good luck finding it framed that way in Nature or reported in the MSM.
Fewer and fewer people care about the apocalyptic claims and outright lies of the environmental movement these days. The end of the world is nowhere in sight unless a stray asteroid is headed our way and, after some seventeen years of a natural cooling cycle, it’s hard to convince people that global warming is a problem.
In January The New York Times that has printed every global warming lie it could since the late 1980s shut down its “environmental desk” and reassigned its editors and reporters to other tasks. On March 1 it announced it was discontinuing the “Green Blog,” leaving only Andrew C. Revkin to rave on at “Dot Earth.”
Tim Graham, the Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, noted that Revkin’s paycheck is being underwritten by financing from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and, if that dries up, Revkin will have to take his fear-mongering somewhere else. Graham opined that “The reality must be that people don’t read it (Green Blog) and people simply don’t find global warming a scintillating subject. So much for the notion it’s the ‘story of the century.’”
The Times promised “we will forge ahead with our aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics, including climate change, land use, threatened ecosystems, government policy, the fossil fuel industries, the growing renewable sector and consumer choices.” Readers have already made their choice; they are no longer interested in the torrent of lies that pours forth from the pages of the Times on the topics they will continue to report about. They have figured out that it is a steaming pile of horse manure.
It won’t be long before other print news media conclude that writing about “climate change”, aka global warming, no longer gets their reader’s hearts pumping faster.
A case in point from the alternative world of Internet blogs is the fact that 13 of the 17 blogs nominated for Best Science & Technology Weblog Awards were those of climate and environmental skeptics!
At The Guardian, a British daily that, like the Times, never failed to report that the Earth is warming, Leo Hickman who writes an environmental blog for it was fuming. He accused the climate skeptics of “gaming” the awards competition because they have succeeded in generating so much enthusiasm.
P. Gosselin, the writer of the No Tricks Zone blog admitted that “It was tough not to gloat” after reading Hickman’s screed. “It’s indeed a good look at a sour grapes display by the increasingly defeated looking alarmist side, now that they see they have got no chance of winning. Of the five finalists, four are skeptic blogs. The sole remaining alarmist blog, Skeptical Science, has dropped out.”
“The problem for them”, the alarmist blogs, “is that nobody is listening to their message any more. And, except for themselves, nobody else even has an inkling of enthusiasm left o nominate them, let alone vote. They’re rapidly sinking into irrelevance.”
It took time, but a consensus has been growing about the alarmists, whether it’s their absurd claims or the media that has been reporting them. It will take more time—and Mother Nature—before more people conclude that they have been victimized by the Greens who have foisted “renewable energy” (solar and wind) that not only provides less electricity than traditional sources, but drives up their bills in the process.
Environmentalism has never really been about science or even the Earth. Judi Bari of Earth First made that clear when she said, “If we don’t overthrow capitalism, we don’t have a chance of saving the world ecologically” or Michael Oppenheimer of the Environmental Defense Fund who said, “The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.”
Writing recently in Investors Business Daily, Dennis Prager, a syndicated columnist, noted that the Philippines recently decided after twelve years to permit the planting of genetically modified (GM) rice. The reason for the reversal was that 4.4 million Filipino children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, causing 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind; half die within a year.” GM rice provides that vital vitamin. The Greens where and everywhere fight against the use of GM crops.
“So who would oppose something that could save millions of children’s lives and millions of other children from blindness?” asked Prager. “The answer is people who are move devoted to nature than to human life. They are called environmentalists. These are the same people who coerced nations worldwide into banning DDT.”
Who is really saving the world and our fellow humans? The skeptics. The scientists and others who have debunked the lies and exposed the agenda of the environmentalists. The Green Blog is dead. It is a victory for all of us.
Unlike predecessor Bill Clinton, President Bush didn’t spend an hour or so reviewing the troops at Andrews Air Force Base while his successor was being whisked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, and his staff didn’t busy its last hours by swiping all the “O’s” off their office keyboards.
Neither did Bush grant interviews nor sign up with a speaker’s bureau nor hit the campaign trail for his party in either 2010 or 2012. “I owe my successor my silence” was all the outgoing president would say, and has.
In contrast to President Bush, former Massachusetts governor Willard “Mitt” Romney, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for president against Obama in 2008, marked his return to the public stage with an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News on Sunday, March 3, 2013.
In the face of sometimes skeptical questioning from Wallace in his home, Romney came across as an intelligent, warm-hearted, and capable leader, a man with genuine concern about the future of America and a genuine ability to help do something about it.
“I’ m not gonna disappear” because “I care about America,” Romney declared – convincingly. With 20 grandchildren at current count, Mr. Romney has a deeply personal stake in the future of our country as well as an ideological and philosophical one. “I care about America and my twenty grandkids and what kind of world we’re going to have,” he said.
In contrast to the current administration’s constant campaign, ex-Gov. Romney is perfectly poised to actually lead instead of serving as a partisan political figurehead. Not being the head of his party, the former governor can focus instead on practical solutions to some of the real problems continuing to confront America today: the deterioration of the family and the dumbing down of education, our incoherent immigration and foreign policies, and out of control federal spending.
On Monday, in the wake of sequestration, Mr. Romney promises to lay out his views on spending. Unlike a White House seemingly interested only in scoring political points no matter what the cost, the betting here is that he will talk more about ideas than about laying blame.
The solutions Mr. Romney may propose will be less important than the fact that he is proposing them. In contrast to current posturing, it may mark the start of a genuine civic conversation.
In any event, it is good to have him back.
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
Solar proponents point out solar energy cuts down on alleged carbon dioxide pollution. But they never mention energy requirements to produce solar facilities or pollution involved in their manufacture and contained in their components.
At the end of this paper is portion of a paper by Paul Chesser of the National Legal & Policy Institute titled “Abound Solar’s Toxic Waste Highlights Enviro Hypocrisy on Pollution.”
This paper features pollution problems resulting from the 2012 bankruptcy of Abound Solar that may have to be paid by taxpayers. At the end of his paper is reference to a 2010 Stanford University publication that describes in great detail pollution problems with all solar PV systems.
Paul Chesser wrote:
Ishan Nath, a Stanford scholar specializing in economics and Earth systems,wrote in the university’s Journal of International Relations (PDF) that “until these issues are properly addressed, a shadow of doubt will hang over the true environmental impacts of solar energy.’
The Stanford University paper must be read by all involved with considering use of solar energy.
Abound Solar used cadmium in their solar panels and the Stanford University report also notes silicon used in other solar panels produces severe environmental effects.
After 25 years, solar panels no longer produce electricity. How much energy is produced during that period of operation in comparison to the energy consumed in manufacturing and installing solar facilities needs to be addressed.
Energy and money are linked together because all forms of energy cost money. Subsidies for solar energy systems include a federal 30 percent tax credit for facility costs, rapid depreciation of costs to reduce tax burdens, other subsidies provided by individual states, and requirements that electricity from solar systems must be purchased at costs that usually exceed electricity from conventional coal or natural gas. Because solar electricity without subsidies costs more than conventional electricity, energy requirements to produce solar facilities are of significance and need to be considered.
Operating data from SunnyPortal indicates a 1 kilowatt solar PV plant will produce 1200 kilowatt-hours annually in the Atlanta, GA area. For a 25-year operating lifetime in the Atlanta area, an optimistic lifetime output for a solar plant is 30,000 kilowatt-hr. Using 12 cents per kilowatt-hr as the value of electricity, the Georgia average residential electricity rate; the value of electricity from a 1 kilowatt solar plant is $3600. This is far less than the cost of such plants, which suggests total energy requirements to place 1 kilowatt solar plants into operation is significant compared to its energy production.
Finding reliable estimates of energy requirements to produce solar PV systems is difficult. One reason is the technology is constantly improving and energy requirements should decrease in the future. An Australian reference suggested solar PV panels required 1000 kilowatt-hours of energy to produce a one square meter solar panel. Assuming a peak panel output of 0.1 kilowatt per square meter, it would require ten square meters of solar panels for a 1 kilowatt solar plant.
This plant in the Atlanta area would generate 30,000 kilowatt-hours over its 25-year lifetime. Using Australian data, 10,000 kilowatt-hours of energy is required for producing the solar panel. This indicates it would take 8 years of operation before a net energy output would occur for the solar plant. This estimate assumes negligible energy requirements for balance of solar plant from framing, wiring, support structure, DC-AC converter, etc.
Proponents of a tax on carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels should note that fossil fuels account for about 85 percent of all energy produced in the United States. If the cost of this energy increases due to attempts to curtail its use via a carbon tax, this will in turn increase the cost of solar energy because so much of its cost is due to high energy requirements in it production and assembly. Continuing increases in fossil fuel energy costs via continuing increases in carbon taxes may cause solar energy to never be competitive with fossil fuel electricity production.
The purpose of carbon taxes is to drastically reduce or eliminate fossil fuel use. If the tax succeeds, the outcome will be most electricity production has to come from renewable energy sources of solar and wind. The public will be left with an unreliable electricity supply that most certainly is five or more times expensive than what is paid now.
A very important question is who will be around to clean up the mess containing toxic materials once solar panels cease operation?
In October 1981 and 1986, I drove East to Palm Springs, CA on I-10. I was stunned to see thousands of windmills in the mountain pass West of town that were not spinning. This was the start of promoting wind energy and those windmills were in the range of 100 kilowatts or so. This massive wind farm has long been abandoned, late 1980s, and I believe this blight on the landscape is still ruining this previously beautiful view.
Another example of abandoned solar facilities is shown by a trip on U. S. 40 to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park in July 2009. There was a village on the road that had many buildings with perhaps six condominiums per building featuring large roof top solar water heaters. I stopped and asked one of the condominium owners about the water heater performance. He told me they were installed in the mid-1980s and had never been hooked up for operation. Nobody cared to do anything with them in 25 years.
These examples show maintenance or clean-up are not part of government-funded renewable energy projects. Similar problems may occur with private-funded projects where builders seem to fade away.
Most solar PV panel production takes place in China where pollution problems are ignored in comparison to production standards of the United States. The United States may never be cost competitive with China under this type of competition. When bankruptcies take place as happened to Abound Solar, disposal of toxic wastes may be a liability left over after bankruptcy.
This brings up future problems. The growth in the solar industry has occurred in the past ten years so there is no experience on what needs to be done once solar panels no longer produce useful amounts of electricity.
Is there a future planned for solar sites once solar panels no longer perform? The panels contain toxic materials that would be considered life-threatening by the EPA if these materials were used for any other purpose. In Georgia a company named Georgia Solar Utilities is proposing building a 200 Megawatt solar PV facility in central Georgia. This is by far the largest penetration of solar energy in the state and Georgia Solar Utilities needs to address the future of this solar plant after its 25-year lifetime elapses.
Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara — a former staffer in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations — was a recent guest on the nationally syndicated Dennis Prager Show.
Dennis asked Peter to be on the program to discuss his American Spectator piece “Sequester Hysterics,” which you can read in the Opinion section of the Heartlander digital magazine. Listen to the interview in the player below. And, while you’re at it, subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast, from which this clip is pulled.
It’s especially relevant now, with Obama’s defiant press conference in which he again demanded additional and larger tax increases. This is my favorite quote from Peter in the excellent interview about the mindset of this administration:
“You understand? They are going to increase taxes until they have it all.”
Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Ross Kaminsky was a guest last night on the always smart and informative Kudlow Report on CNBC. Kudlow asked him on the program to talk about his latest piece in the American Spectator titled Stocks Support Sequester.
Ross is right, judging from the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallying to a near all-time high this week.
“It’s not so much that i think the sequester is a huge positive, but it’s just so much better than anything Obama and the Democrats would replace it with,” Ross said, adding that the sequester cuts are really “nothing.”
“Professional investors realize this is not stepping on the brake of government spending,” Ross said. “It’s just barely letting up on the accelerator.”
Ross was challenged by a liberal on the program to explain how the stock market could be doing so well despite the tax hike of 2013. Don’t free-market champions such as Ross and Kudlow say tax hikes always hurt the eocnomy and reduce investment?
Ross handles the question well, answering: “The market’s doing OK, but not nearly as well as it woudl be doing if we had a president who understood economics and free markets.”
Watch the whole segment below:
A recent survey of more than 1,000 geoscientists (commonly known as earth scientists) and engineers reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies found that only 36 percent agree with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assertion that humans are causing a serious global warming problem. By contrast, a majority of scientists in the survey believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.
Global warming alarmists, desperate to restore the shattered remains of their fictitious global warming consensus, spent the last week in overdrive expressing outrage and attacking the scientists participating in the survey. Their asserted arguments go something like this:
The survey consisted of geoscientists and engineers in Alberta, Canada, which has the highest per capita of geoscientists and engineers in North America. Oil companies and companies in related industries employ many of these geoscientists and engineers. These scientists are therefore biased and do not represent geoscientists and engineers as a whole.
Geoscientists and engineers are not qualified to give an informed opinion on global warming. Only atmospheric scientists are qualified to do so.
The survey takers claim their survey is not strong evidence against the mythical global warming consensus, therefore skeptics cannot cite the survey while debating the mythical consensus.
Let’s address the first two arguments first. These arguments would be plausible, and perhaps might even be persuasive, except that alarmists have been saying exactly the opposite for decades. When alarmists say that scientists can be biased based on their career path, and that only atmospheric scientists are qualified to give informed opinions on global warming, they are engaging in the most laughable form of hypocrisy.
Let’s start with Argument 1.
Skeptics frequently point out that claims of an alarmist global warming consensus rely on tainted, biased participant pools. Donna Laframboise, for example, has documented absurd bias and activism with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where environmental activists drive the IPCC findings in their roles as lead authors. Similarly, I documented how environmental activists directed the findings of a recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) global warming report and how nearly all of the 23 NAS authors were already on the record as being global warming alarmists before being chosen to write the report.
Additionally, an often misrepresented survey claiming 97 percent of scientists agree that humans are causing a global warming crisis (actually, the survey asked merely whether some warming has occurred and whether humans are playing at least a partial role – two questions to which I would answer yes), restricted its participant pool to government scientists and scientists working for institutions dependent on government grants. Scientists who work for – or are funded by – government institutions know that their funding will dry up and their jobs will disappear if and when global warming stops being an asserted crisis.
When skeptics point out these blatant biases, however, alarmists claim that scientists by their very nature are immune from having their environmental activist affiliations, the source of their paychecks or their preexisting advocacy for global warming restrictions influence their research and scientific opinions. Skeptics who call attention to such biases are demonized as “attacking scientists” or “attacking science” itself.
So which is it? Skeptics are willing to play by any set of rules alarmists make, just so long as the rules are consistently applied. Alarmists can’t have it both ways. Scientists’ career choice, salary dependency, and preexisting sociopolitical points of view either taint their objectivity or do not taint their objectivity. They do not taint skeptics’ objectivity while failing to taint alarmists’ objectivity. When alarmists make duplicitous claims to the contrary, they are about as intellectually compelling as Vizzini attempting to divine the location of the poisonous iocane powder in The Princes Bride.
Now let’s address Argument 2.
Skeptics frequently point out how people who have little or no atmospheric science education dominate the IPCC, the NAS report and other so-called “consensus” reports. People without advanced science degrees and degrees in fields other than atmospheric science serve as lead authors for IPCC. Less than a quarter of the authors of the NAS report have degrees relating in any significant way to atmospheric science. Heck, the godfather of global warming alarmism, James Hansen, is an astronomer. The head of the IPCC , Raj Pachauri, is a railroad engineer.
Alarmists claim that their scientists’ lack of in-depth training in atmospheric science does not diminish their authority to speak on global warming issues. Skeptics who point out such shortcomings are, again, accused of attacking scientists or attacking science itself.
Yet now alarmists claim that skeptics who are earth scientists and engineers are not qualified to weigh in on the global warming debate.
So which is it? Scientists who do not have in-depth training regarding atmospheric science either are qualified or are not qualified to speak authoritatively on global warming issues. Alarmists can’t have it both ways.
Let’s finally address Argument 3.
The authors of the survey claim their survey is not strong evidence against the mythical global warming consensus. They have even asked skeptics to stop citing the survey while debating the mythical global warming consensus.
It should come as no surprise that the survey takers make such arguments. After all, the survey takers are deeply entrenched in the alarmist camp and their own survey results undercut their preexisting beliefs. Indeed, while writing up their survey results, they frequently use terms such as “denier” to describe scientists who are skeptical of an asserted global warming crisis, and they refer to skeptical scientists as “speaking against climate science” rather than “speaking against asserted climate projections.”
It is a novel argument that the only people who can interpret or assign meaning to scientific studies or surveys of opinion are the scientists who performed the research or the people who conducted the surveys of opinion. If alarmists indeed wish for these to be the uniform rules of the global warming debate, they must concede meteorologist Antony Watts’ findings that data reported at surface temperature stations are substantially influenced by the urban heat island effect. They must also concede the interpretations of satellite temperature data provided by skeptical climate scientists John Christy and Roy Spencer. Etc., etc., etc.
While alarmists demonstrate comedic hypocrisy in their proffered rules for the global warming debate, they are nevertheless consistent when it comes to conjuring up contrived outrage whenever skeptics deal a powerful blow to their mythical consensus of scientists. The volume of their contrived outrage indicates the degree to which their mythical alarmist consensus has been shattered.
Boy, the alarmists sure are expressing outrage!
[First published at Forbes.]
This Jonathan Haidt vignette on why it’s hard to gross out a libertarian also serves as a wonderful guide to why hard libertarianism will always fail at the ballot box. It’s fiercely logical, completely non-empathetic, and is more likely to make voters recoil than to win them over.
That’s all right – libertarianism is an approach focused more on being right than on being likeable (child labor laws are, after all, ruining this country!) – but I still think there’s an opportunity to achieve a great deal politically by blending the conventional libertarian message with a more populist set of fairness-minded policies targeted at working families.
Both sides can agree on a number of key points of dissension within the Republican ranks, both in the need for limited government and an acknowledgement that big business is as great a danger as big government. Republicans themselves believe their party is out of touch with the American people. And they’re right.
The problem is that a Republican Party which takes this more populist path, targeted at the widening gap between two Americas and building on the good aspects of the Tea Party’s message, will have to be built around a fairness message which will almost certainly turn off hard-line libertarians and those who defend the Wall Street establishment. Sheila Bair has some good points here:
“I am a capitalist and a lifelong Republican. I believe that, in a meritocracy, some level of income inequality is both inevitable and desirable, as encouragement to those who contribute most to our economic prosperity. But I fear that government actions, not merit, have fueled these extremes in income distribution through taxpayer bailouts, central-bank-engineered financial asset bubbles and unjustified tax breaks that favor the rich. This is not a situation that any freethinking Republican should accept. Skewing income toward the upper, upper class hurts our economy because the rich tend to sit on their money — unlike lower- and middle-income people, who spend a large share of their paychecks, and hence stimulate economic activity.”
“But more fundamentally, it cuts against everything our country and my party stand for. Government’s role should not be to rig the game in favor of “the haves” but to make sure “the have-nots” are given a fair shot. President Obama, who has rightly made income inequality a signature issue, cannot be pleased that the über-rich have gained under the policies pursued by his administration, while the bottom 99 percent have not. Unfortunately, his economic team, populated by acolytes of the former Treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin, has relied on the same “growth” policies that got us into trouble precrisis: generous treatment of the financial sector and easy money from the Federal Reserve. These strategies have done little to encourage sustainable economic growth, but they have worked wonders to increase Wall Street profits and inflate the value of stocks and bonds — which are disproportionately owned by the rich.
A rejection of these approaches is a fundamental starting point for policy shifts going forward which remake the Republican Party into one that is not just focused on making the rich richer. But it’ll be a real test to see if libertarians will come along for that ride.
[First published at RealClearPolitics.]
In the aftermath of the 2012 elections, Republicans took solace in the idea that while the GOP isn’t doing well in Washington, it’s winning in emphatic fashion elsewhere. Republicans have historic levels of dominance in governorships and state legislatures, and that’s led a number of conservatives to pronounce the states as where the right’s focus ought to be for the next several years, as Washington finds itself in constant gridlock.
Yet the failures of Republican governance aren’t limited to Washington – they can make mistakes in the states, too. Consider as a guide the past week of decisions which represented a contrast in styles from three self-styled conservative governors with starkly different paths, styles, and states: Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, Florida’s Rick Scott, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.
Of this trio, Walker is the Good. Facing the challenge of governing a blue state and with perhaps the nation’s most fractious political scene, Walker in the past week rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and proposed a permanent rate cut in the state income tax, targeted at the middle class. His budget would cut state income taxes, allow no general sales tax increases, and holds down increases on property tax bills to no more than 1 percent a year for median value homes.
Walker called for dramatically expanding the school voucher program in the state as well, for any sizable district which has two schools receiving D or F grades. And despite a state commission recommending hiking gas taxes and fees to pay for transportation costs, instead Walker said he would sell or lease state properties and power plants to make up the difference.
The Bad is Rick Scott. The Florida governor went back on his word in the biggest way possible this week, announcing he would implement the same Medicaid expansion under Obamacare that his state sued to prevent. Scott’s entire career is arguably due to his opposition to Obamacare, and his argument that he was able to extract some concessions from the Obama administration along the way doesn’t fly with health policy experts. It turns out Kansas, which isn’t expanding Medicaid, is getting the same waiver Scott is for his system without the quid pro quo.
Scott’s depressing approach is an act of governance by desperation – a politician scared by the threat of Charlie Crist. You should never do things because you are afraid of Charlie Crist. The day you do that, you should probably quit politics.
And that brings us to Virginia’s Bob McDonnell. Telegenic as he is, he is The Ugly. His determination to have a legislative legacy led him to ram through a $6 billion tax increase on the people of the Old Dominion (a tax increase nearly six times the size of his original proposal) for the sake of building more roads. Remember when Virginia Republicans ran whole campaigns on eliminating the car tax? McDonnell just boosted it, and the sales tax, and a slew of other taxes, too.
McDonnell was so desperate to ditch his anti-tax pledge and get this tax hike passed through the legislature – he did so with a higher percentage of Democrat votes than Republican – that he even went back on his word to oppose Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, endorsing a Democrat-favored commission to advance the costly expansion. That’s right: McDonnell was so set on raising taxes, he caved on Obamacare implementation, too. Which will lead to more taxes in the future, too.
Of the three of these men, Walker arguably had the least experience before reaching the governorship. He doesn’t have a college degree, a telegenic mane, or a presidential resume. But the primary difference between these three men is that one approached his decision thinking about re-election, one approached it thinking about efficient management, and one approached the decision process focused on sparking dramatic policy reform. Just thinking about re-election is old style politics. And benign management was fine in the days when leviathan wasn’t a reality. But what’s needed now is someone who can take a far more aggressive reform-minded approach, recognizing that political capital is useless if left unspent.
What’s needed is fewer candidates who care about being viewed as pragmatic by the liberal press or care about consultant advice about the next election, and more who care about what’s right, who will stand on conservative principles and reject increases in the size of government and the size of the tax burden. After all, if a pragmatic conservative’s role is to raise taxes and expand entitlements, what’s the difference between them and a pragmatic liberal?
[First published at Real Clear Politics.]
The mostly regulation-free Internet has become a free speech, free market Xanadu.
So of course President Barack Obama and his Left want to regulate the daylight out of it. In their efforts to do so, they will spin any tale to try to engender any public support for new Web regulations.
For instance, the Barack Obama Administration is likely about to totally fabricate a U.S. mobile broadband assessment report. In which they will say that the unequivocally astounding success that is our Internet – is at best uncertain, if not an utter failure.
If any of this nonsense sounds familiar, it’s only because it is. In May 2011 we had this:
Which brings us to the looming annual broadband deployment report from the (Barack Obama Administration’s) Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (called the 706 Report).
In which they are going to again give U.S. broadband deployment a failing grade – just as they did last year.
Which is completely “DC Disingenuous.” In other words, the FCC is lying through its bureaucratic teeth.
We bet you weren’t aware that Internet access has for the last four years stunk on ice. That is, of course, because it hasn’t.
98% of Americans have access to wireline or mobile broadband, from cable companies, phone companies, satellite companies, wireless Internet access providers (WISPs) and from 3G or 4G mobile wireless providers.
Does all this access success beget commercial success? Indeed it does.
E-commerce sales accounted for 5.4 percent of the total $1.1 trillion retail sales in the final three months of 2012, representing the highest percentage since the Census Bureau started keeping track of online sales more than a decade ago.
And the Web’s free speech advancement has been, if possible, even more astonishing.
The Internet has made the First Amendment almost completely horizontal. Anyone, at virtually no cost, can publish their thoughts. Or collect the thoughts of themselves and others. Or find like-minded others to begin to gather together.
Online publishing has been a fundamental component of the break down of the Left’s news and media monopoly. The Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy of the conservative Tea Party – the greatest political rising of the last quarter century – has been on the Web.
Of course the President and the Left won’t wait around for the Right to figure it out. They’ll instead preemptively regulate the Net into oblivion. They’d like a return to the 1960s media monopoly status quo – that’s just the way it is. And they’ll say and do anything to reverse this remarkable free speech, free market progress.
Like issue serial ridiculous Web “assessment” reports.
[First published at RedState.]
In the February 18-24 edition of Business Week, an editorial, “The Right Way Forward on Climate Change”, contained this gem: “Still, the U.S. accounts for about 19 percent of all emissions—emissions that are causing global temperature increases, rising seas, and destructive droughts, floods, and hurricanes, according to a government advisory panel report released last month.”
When a magazine publishes such drivel, you should not read it.
There are no rising temperatures worldwide. There is, in fact, a colder world that reflects a cooling cycle that began around sixteen years ago. Glaciers are growing. Snow is falling in increasing amounts and in places one usually does not associate with snow like Arizona. The seas are not rising. Polar bears are not going extinct. Et cetera.
To not know such simple facts betrays either an appalling ignorance or an appalling agenda, the advancement of the global warming—now called climate change—hoax.
The February 25-March 3 edition had an editorial on why the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved. It began “Americans concerned about pollution and climate change have traditionally stood with science, in particular the consensus that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are warming the earth and changing the climate.” There is so much wrong with this short sentence one hardly knows where to start.
First of all, “climate change” is what the climate has been doing for 4.5 billion years on planet Earth. There have been a number of ice ages which properly can be called climate change . When the last one ended around 11,000 years ago, we entered the Holocene.
Pay attention now to this description of the Holocene: “Most recent of all subdivisions of geologic time, ranging from the present back to the time (c.11,000 years ago) of almost complete withdrawal of the glaciers of the preceding Pleistocene epoch. During the Holocene epoch, the sculpturing of the earth’s surface to its present form was completed.”
“Withdrawal of the glacial ice resulted in the development of the present-day drainage basins of the Missouri and Ohio rivers, the development of the Great Lakes, and a global rise in sea level of up to 100 ft (30 m) as the glacial meltwater was returned to the seas. Warming climates resulted in the poleward migration of plants and animals.”
“The most significant development during the Holocene was the rise of modern humans, who are thought to have first appeared in the late Pleistocene.” Those modern humans did not control the climate when they arrived on the scene and they do not control it now. They will never control it no matter how many times Al Gore or the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says so.
We do not sacrifice virgins, tossing them into volcanoes to ensure a good harvest, nor do we do rain dances during a drought any more. Some of us, however, are convinced that we are the first Americans to have ever experienced a drought, a hurricane, or a blizzard.
When a magazine like Business Week employs morons to write its news and opinion, there is no point in subscribing to it in order to have your own intellect reduced by a couple of IQ points.
I am thoroughly sick of hearing that all life on the planet is threatened or going extinct. Been there. Done that.
In his weekly column on science topics, the Wall Street Journal’s Matt Ridley noted that, “When the asteroid slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula 66,038,000 years ago, North America took the brunt of the impact, because the asteroid came in from the southeast like a golf chip shot.” Globally, it wiped out all the dinosaurs, along with many bird and other species. Their relatives, the alligators survived. “Mammals reappeared within 20,000 years in North America, “probably from Asia via an Arctic land bridge.”
Right now, countless “environmental” organizations around the world are gearing up to celebrate “Earth Day” on April 22. Is it just a coincidence that it is the birthdate of Communist revolutionary and the former Soviet Union’s first dictator, Vladimir Lenin? I think not.
Business Week, the Economist, Time, Newsweek and countless other elements of the print and broadcast media will have an environmental orgasm, spewing forth the tired, old lies that undergird the greatest hoax of the modern era; one they can no longer call “global warming” because millions of people have concluded the Earth is getting colder, so now they call it “climate change.”
The alleged “consensus” of geoscientists and others that supports the climate change theory barely exists.
As reported in the March edition of The Heartland Institute’s Environmental & Climate News, “Global warming alarmists are attacking the integrity of scientists, desperately seeking to minimize the damage presented by a recent survey of geoscientists and engineers regarding global warming.
“A recent survey of more than 1,000 geoscientists and engineers reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies found that only 36 percent agree with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assertion that humans are causing a serious global warming problem. By contrast, a majority of scientists in the survey believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.”
Meanwhile, here in America, the current administration will continue to flush billions of dollars we do not have down the environmental drain, “investing” in the most uncompetitive and least productive forms of energy ever invented. It is an administration that declared war on coal—a resource that powered fifty percent of all the electricity we use until they came along. Can we—should we—trust people who cannot reduce the nation’s insane debt and deficit by even one half of one percent?
Should we trust people, journalists, charged with the responsibility to bring us the news about economic and scientific topics when they clearly are clueless? I think not.
[First published at Warning Signs.]
Our Benjamin Domenech was on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” giving viewers the non-leftist view on the sequester debate.
Guest host Ezra Klein asked good questions, and seemed genuinely interested in alternative views and in what Ben had to say. And Ben was, as usual, outstanding in discussing this issue on TV.
Watch the video below: