Environmentalists hoped the latest study from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would finally end the increasingly acrimonious debate over the causes and consequences of climate change. It has had the opposite effect.
MIT physicist Richard Lindzen called the IPCC report “hilarious incoherence.” British historian Rupert Darwall labeled it “nonsense” and “the manipulation of science for political ends.” Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology says the IPCC suffers from “paradigm paralysis” and should be “put down.”
The most precise criticism of the IPCC’s report came from the editors of Nature, one of the world’s most distinguished science journals: “Scientists cannot say with any certainty what rate of warming might be expected, or what effects humanity might want to prepare for, hedge against or avoid at all costs.”
Despite decades of research funded by taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars, we are no more certain about the impact of man-made greenhouse gases than we were in 1990, or even in 1979 when the National Academy of Sciences estimated the effect of a doubling of carbon dioxide to be “near 3 degrees C with a probable error of plus or minus 1.5 degrees C.”
The lower end of that range, which is where the best research on the likely sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide lands, is well within the bounds of natural variability.
Significantly, the IPCC has backed down from its previous forecasts of increases in droughts and hurricanes. And it admits, but does not explain, why no warming has occurred for the past 15 years.
Due to its charter and sheer bureaucratic momentum, the IPCC is compelled to claim it is more confident than ever in its alarmist predictions, even as real-world evidence falsifies them at every turn. Policymakers and the public have no reason to believe this discredited oracle.
It’s time to start listening to other voices in the debate, such as the 50-some scientists who make up the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).
According to its latest report, “the IPCC has exaggerated the amount of warming likely to occur if the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide were to double, and such warming as occurs is likely to be modest and cause no net harm to the global environment or to human well-being.”
[First published in USA Today.]
You can be forgiven for not noticing that the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a summary of its Fifth Assessment Report late last month.
The report landed with a thud, criticized and even mocked by many leading climate scientists. The distinguished science journal Nature editorialized that this should be the last report issued by the UN body.
This is just the latest signal that the age of climate alarmism is over. Given five tries to convince the world that human activity is causing catastrophic warming of the planet, runaway sea-level rise and various weather disasters, the public still doesn’t buy it.
We’re all skeptics now because the science simply does not back up the hypothesis. For starters, there’s been no rise in global temperatures for 15 years.
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report concedes for the first time that global temperatures have not risen since 1998, despite a 7 percent rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
To put that into perspective, global human CO2 emissions in the last 15 years represent about one-third of all human CO2 emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and yet temperatures didn’t budge.
Nearly all of the UN-approved climate computer models were wrong. The IPCC finally admitted as much.
The IPCC also admits that the “hockey stick” it used to feature in past reports wasn’t accurate. Penn State professor Michael Mann has been dining out for years on his infamous “hockey stick,” a dread graph featured by Al Gore in his Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
The graph looked so dramatic — like a hockey stick — only because it ignored the Medieval Warm Period, a time about a thousand years ago when temperatures were warmer than today — when wine grapes grew in England and Greenland was green.
The “hockey stick” is missing from the Fifth Assessment Report, and the IPCC admits the Medieval Warm Period was warmer and more global than it claimed in the past.
A third major admission by the IPCC: No increases in droughts, hurricanes, typhoons and other extreme weather. Every time severe weather hits the United States, you could count on IPCC-related scientists, professional climate alarmists and the media to attribute it all to man-made global warming. No more.
The latest IPCC report admits to having “low confidence” in predictions of more frequent or more extreme droughts and tropical cyclones.
While the IPCC is taking its lumps for being wrong on these and other matters, a new kid on the block of climate science is taking a victory lap: The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change released its own report, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science. Packed with 1,000 pages of peer-reviewed literature — and then peer-reviewed again by NIPCC’s team of some 50 scientists from around the world — Climate Change Reconsidered II comes to the conclusions the United Nations is only now and reluctantly admitting.
The NIPCC report concludes that human impact on climate is very modest, especially when compared to natural cycles. Future warming due to human greenhouse gases is likely to be only 1-2 degrees Celsius, and be a boon for flora and fauna alike.
Higher levels of carbon dioxide will not cause weather to become more extreme, sea-level rise isn’t accelerating and polar ice caps aren’t melting at alarming rates.
Global warming isn’t the crisis many people said it was a few years ago. That’s bad news for the IPCC and the many environmental groups and politicians that hooked their wagon to it. But it’s good news for the rest of us.
[First published at The Washington Examiner.]
In the latest edition of The Cornucopia Institute’s Newsletter, Mark Kastel – a man who thinks he knows exactly how American farmers should run their farms even though he himself has never run one – takes aim at the Heartland Institute, Hudson Institute, Stanford University, and little ol’ me. To take his word for it, we’re all a bunch of “conservative camp” meanies whose corporate “agribusiness funders” pay to gang up on the poor ol’ $33-billion per-annum organic industry.
And yet, would you believe that every time I have offered to debate Mr. Kastel in an open forum he ignores me?
True, he has appeared opposite me on radio, twice, but in both cases it was really more of an ambush. I was not told he was appearing until I heard the host introduce him, and I was not given the opportunity to respond to any of his more egregious accusations, such as his claim that I never worked as an advanced organic inspector under the USDA’s National Organic Program. So yeah, it’s a tiny bit ironic to see him take pot shots from afar.
Kastel claims USDA certified-organic food is well worth its premium price based on the findings of “studies by the USDA, Consumers Union, and countless university researchers, internationally, who have found measurable benefits from eating organic rather than conventional foods.” But he fails to cite any of these studies, not even providing a single hyperlink.
It’s not that he’s lying. There have indeed been many studies (some that were even scientific in their methodology) that demonstrate, in some cases at least, “measurable benefits” to eating organic food. But the results are so marginal that they hardly begin to justify the hike in price, often double or more the price of regular food.
What’s more, there’s currently no field testing in the organic industry to ensure farmers are even following the rules. And with the majority of USDA-certified organic goods sold in America coming from far-off lands like China, Mexico and Argentina – based solely on paperwork – consumers should very well wonder what exactly they’re paying for. They could also ask why they’re still being forced to subsidize an industry that’s worth so much and which relies predominantly on imports, but I digress.
Kastel also claims the organic movement is completely non-partisan. Again, he’s not lying. There are indeed Republicans as well as Democrats in the organic movement. But what he fails to explain is that most of the farmers – at least the ones here in America – are conservative, while all of the activists at the top who do business with the likes of the People’s Republic of China, are socialists, and proudly so; John Mackey the CEO of Whole Foods Market of course being the exception that proves the rule. As Laura Sayre of Yale University’s Program in Agrarian Studies so astutely puts it, “Organic farming is conservative small-time rural farmers making food for white liberal yuppie and hippie types.”
As I have endeavored to explain to Mr. Kastel many times, this is precisely the kind of salient distinction one misses when one avoids entering into debate, or even into polite discussion.
Consumers of organic food, meanwhile, do indeed cut across all party lines, a symptom of the fact that they’re all being duped by slick marketing campaigns — which, ironically enough (as alluded to above) we’re all forced to fund through our taxes. Heck, even Republican Rep. Steve Stockman of my home state of Texas – whom Kastel applauds because he made the gutsy move of standing up in committee one day and boldly declaring that “he and his family eat organic food” (step aside Rosa Parks) – has fallen for the ruse.
Perhaps someone should inform Stockman, along with Kastel and the rest of the gang over at Cornucopia, that the USDA’s National Organic Program is located under the rubric of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, not its Research, Inspection, Nutrition, Safety, Risk Management or Conservation services. Again, this is something that a simple, open debate would do wonders for clearing up.
Most laughable is Kastel’s claim that we at Heartland are all swimming in money thanks to “direct funding from Monsanto, DuPont and other interests in agrichemicals and biotechnology.” And he says this with complete authority because… well… he’s just sure this is the case. It must be! Okay?
Well this was news to me and my wife. So I immediately contacted our accounting department at Heartland to let them know I had not received my Big-Fat Check for this month, nor for any month since I became a stooge (policy advisor) with this august right-leaning think tank. And would you believe it? Those bean counters just laughed at me.
Come on now people! Mark Kastel, a “Senior Farm Policy Analyst” who directs The Cornucopia Institute’s “Organic Integrity Project” (but who rejects testing organic crops because paperwork is good enough) says I’m rolling in the dough. And I want my money by Jove!
Perhaps someone reading this would be so kind as to reach out to Kastel and see if he’d take us up on the offer to debate, in a public forum, with a neutral moderator, and with equal time for both sides. You never know. He might go for it once he finally realizes we’re not opposed to organic farming, just his version of it.
Mischa Popoff is a former organic farmer and USDA-contract Advanced Organic Farm and Process Inspector. He’s the author of Is it Organic? which you can preview at www.isitorganic.ca, and a policy advisor at The Heartland Institute, which is where all fat-cat agribusiness funders should send their Big-Fat Checks immediately.
On Thursday, October 17, the Heartland Institute hosted Donald J. Devine, who was promoting his new book entitled, “America’s Way Back.” Devine, a former Reagan administrative official, is best known for having cut 100,000 non-defense government employees, which saved tax payers 6 billion dollars.
In Devine’s new book, he revitalizes the Founding Father’s vision by highlighting a solution to today’s problems in Washington. His solution exemplifies the imperative for a return to the morally founded Constitution which encompasses the synthesis of freedom and tradition. In order to revitalize the entity of Western Tradition, we must use our freedom which is inherent in the Constitution. Devine asserts one of the most distorted traditions is vested in the present Federal power relations. A return to the 10th Amendment would partially restore power and freedom to the American people by placing emphasis on States’ rights.
During Devine’s presentation, he highlighted the philosophy in Friedrich Hayeck’s work, “Road to Serfdom.” The work states that central planning and increase of power in Federal Government leads to the loss of freedom and the eventual serfdom of the individual. Americans are increasingly losing their freedom during the Obama Administration as he paves the way for the decent to Stateism and serfdom. In order for this to be reversed, America is in desperate need for the increasingly polarized Republican Party to unite on the foundation created by the Founding Fathers to promote the morality of the Constitution. This polarization is crippling the Republican Party’s ability to promote freedom and liberty, the constituents which make us Republicans in the first place. Our increasing decent to Stateism is prevailing. We can not be led by shackles to Hayek’s proposed serfdom, but Devine asserts Americans can reverse this by uniting on the Founding Father’s vision of constitutional tradition and freedom.
Just like the wisdom that one cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear; one cannot make “modern” FCC policy from obsolete communications law.
Apparently that is not stopping Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and Greg Rosston from trying in their new white paper: “Articulating a Modern Approach to FCC Competition Policy.”
Their paper contrives: “three different competition policy approaches: the classic role of regulating terms and conditions of sale, the modern role of using various tools to create largely deregulated, multi-firm, competitive markets, and the laissez-faire approach of believing that unregulated markets, even if monopolized, will produce the best outcome.”
The purposes of the paper’s elaborate contrivances are clear, to advance Mr. Hundt’s FCC-first approach to communications policy by associating it with the popular “modern” brand and by linguistically-positioning it as the middle position between two extremes – all in hopes of influencing the core policy trajectory of prospective FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
The fatal flaw of the paper’s framework is it is clearly contrived, so it withers under scrutiny.
Here are the problems with the paper in a nutshell. First, the paper’s rewrite of FCC history is demonstrably selective, revisionist and incomplete. Second, it effectively proposes to redefine the term “modern” to allow for retention of their favorite obsolescing policies. Third, the paper ignores the transformative effect and reality that competition policy and the Internet have on the FCC’s original regulatory authority – in order to imagine that the FCC remains all powerful over an ever-expanding regulatory domain.
If an idea or policy is worthy of retention, one should argue it on the merits and facts, not on the contrived notion that something is “modern” when it clearly is not.
Revisionist History: First, the authors’ self-described “short history” of “classic,” “modern” and “laissez-faire” FCC competition policies is demonstrably selective, revisionist and incomplete. The authors undermine the credibility of their analysis and conclusions by ignoring most all of the most important FCC decisions of former Chairman Hundt’s tenure and the demonstrably destructive impacts these decisions had on investment, competition and the marketplace.
Why no mention of Mr. Hundt’s first big decision to slash cable rates another 17% on top of the 10% rate reduction ordered by then Acting FCC Chairman Quello in implementing the 1992 Cable Act? In hindsight, are there no competition-policy-lessons learned from how that decision ravaged cable investment for several years — delaying cable-led broadband competition until the turn of the century? And didn’t the decision to drastically lower cable rates an additional 17% by regulatory fiat actually make it harder for nascent DBS competitors to succeed via competitively undercutting cable on price?
Why no mention of the several-year delay in the formation of real facilities-based competition as a result of pursuing a “classic” common-carrier-regulation-vision via FCC TELRIC/UNE-P contrivances, which were ultimately found illegal in court?
In hindsight, are there no lessons learned about FCC competition policy from the marketplace result of these “classic” regulatory decisions? Are there no “competition” lessons learned from the Hundt-FCC’s policy of picking the CLECs as market winners — via unsustainably massive subsidies and regulatory favoritism — that ultimately led to the bankruptcy of the entire CLEC industry?
Or what did the FCC learn about competition from its one-sided reciprocal compensation policies that helped fuel a trillion dollar market bubble and created over twelve unsustainable Internet backbone companies that either went bankrupt or were consolidated to survive?
Why no discussion in the paper of how the so-called “modern” competition- approach actually delayed for several years the world-leading, facilities-based broadband competition that we now enjoy under “laissez-faire” policy? Why no discussion in the paper of the opposite competition results in the marketplace between the policies of the “modern” nineties and the “laissez-faire” aughts? Concerning merger competition policy, why no mention in the paper of the lessons learned from the Hundt-FCC preempting a potential SBC-AT&T merger as “unthinkable” by spontaneously creating a new “competition” policy of “precluded” competition out of whole cloth, when the FCC several years later approved an SBC-AT&T merger with conditions and without anti-competitive consequences?
Concerning Hundt-FCC auction and spectrum cap polices, why no mention in the paper of lessons learned from the FCC making spectrum-conditioning mistakes that kept 20 MHz of prime Nextwave PCS spectrum from getting to market for well over a decade? Or the FCC’s spectrum-conditioning mistakes that have kept public safety from getting the spectrum it needs for over a decade as well?
The point here is that if we are to discuss history in order to learn from it for the purpose of new policy making, it is essential to have an accurate and complete understanding of the results of various competition policy approaches. Selective and revisionist history is a poor foundation for creating workable, legal, and successful competition policy going forward.
Redefines “Modern:” To conclude that Chairman Hundt’s competition policy notions are “modern” requires some definitional gymnastics and eye-closing. The paper self-servingly defines the “modern” competition era as between 1970 and 2000, when “competition” was permitted by the FCC and centrally managed by the FCC – essentially the FCC-centric competition era.
When sustainable real market competition emerged after 2000, when consumers not regulators picked winners and losers, and when market forces, investment and innovation, not government subsidies, determined competitive outcomes, the paper amazingly excludes that recent broadband competition policy success from the “modern” competitive era. The paper again self-servingly defines that successful broadband competition, not as modern, not even as competition, but as “laissez-faire.”
The paper also conveniently ignores that broadband Internet competition, 4G wireless, and the smart-phone/tablet revolution occurred during the non-modern, laissez-faire era. Wouldn’t most people consider broadband, 4G, smart-phones and tablets “modern” competition in every sense of the word?
The paper goes on to further define “modern” as “multi-firm” competition. Given that one of the definitions of “multi” is “more than one,” isn’t all competition by definition “multi-firm?” If “multi-firm” competition is redundant, why define one’s entire framework around it?
This suggests what really is going on is more of a Trojan horse framework, where competition policy disguises as re-regulation policy, where the FCC unilaterally could define “multi,” as not more than one firm, but as 4, 5, 6, or more firms in the “relevant” market. Then the FCC potentially could regulate any information services company for falling short of the FCC’s contrived multi-firm competition framework.
Specifically the paper advises: “The FCC needs to put in place a framework for all of its decisions so that companies will understand how such arrangements will be evaluated; without clear guidance, like that provided by the DOJ/FTC merger guidelines, firms will not know how the FCC will judge their actions.”
The very big problem with this approach is that such a “framework” would be a de facto law, and that is Congress’ role under the Constitution. Nowhere in the 1996 Telecom Act creating communications competition or any other law does Congress give the FCC such sweeping regulatory authority over information services firms.
The other big problem here is that the paper is effectively recommending transmogrifying after-the-fact antitrust law enforcement overseen by the DOJ/FTC , into preemptive FCC policy with no authority to do so from Congress.
We have seen this overreach before: e.g. the Hundt-FCC’s overturned UNE-P competition policy; the Martin-FCC’s overturned net neutrality enforcement action; and the Genachowski-FCC’s likely-to-be-overturned common carrier-like regulation of broadband.
The current FCC should be mindful that each of these attempts to unilaterally re-define competition “policy” were struck down because the FCC did not have direct authority to do set national competition policy in that way.
FCC-Firsters: The third major contrivance of the Hundt-Rosston white paper is it imagines a near all-powerful FCC – a de facto “FCC-first” construct.
Consider the authors own words here. “Somewhere between a tenth and a sixth of the American economy is in [the FCC’s] purview.” (p. 7) “Other than the all-important consideration of judicial review, not too many checks on its [the FCC’s] authority exists.” (p. 4) “… the FCC is its own boss. Congress would find it quite difficult to impeach a commissioner, and Congress to pass a low overturning an agency decision. The agency as a Fourth Branch of government, is as to the markets in its purview the most important of all the branches.”
The big problem here is that the paper’s assumption of largely unchecked FCC power largely ignores the transformative effect and reality that new laws, Congressional policies, FCC precedents, and technological innovations have had in hollowing out the FCC’s original and obsolescing 1934 sweeping regulatory authority.
That law’s policy and reality predicates are obsolescing or obsolete. Telephone service is not a “natural” monopoly; competition is not only possible, it’s vibrant and widespread. Technology then was analog and not digital, and continuous not discontinuous in nature. We now enjoy universal voice service, and broadband is comparably universally available.
Moreover, the FCC’s underlying statutory authority did not envision many transformative technological innovations: TV, transistors, digital computers, cellular service, PCs, the Internet, the World Wide Web, wire line broadband, wireless broadband, web applications, smart-phones/tablets, etc. Is it “modern” to predate all that?
The authors’ uber-expansive view of the FCC’s power going forward largely ignores that consumers don’t need the FCC anywhere like they needed the FCC eighty years ago. Competition and innovation naturally have obsolesced much of the FCC’s 1934 purpose and role.
This is not to say that there are transitional or vestigial roles and consumer protection functions for the Federal Government to play in the truly modern communications era, but it’s not the role envisioned eighty years ago, when the economic and technological predicates were almost the opposite of today.
The authors’ encouragement of an FCC-first approach to competition policy may advance a classic interventionist role for the FCC like Chairman Hundt pursued during his tenure, but it is badly outdated for the technological, economic, competitive, and legal predicate that prospective FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler inherits and must operate within.
The authors’ characterization of their approach to FCC competition policy as modern is contrived and not accurate.
First the paper tries to rewrite FCC history to exclude much of the most important competitive facts and results from the policies that they advance. Second the authors attempt to redefine the term “modern” to the point of being unrecognizable. Third the authors appear to goad the FCC to effectively ignore the law and the courts and implement whatever FCC competition policy that three commissioners support.
Let me finally address the authors’ substantive recommendations. The authors’ recommend the FCC “have a consolidation policy.” That’s wholly unnecessary and redundant. America already has a consolidation policy; it’s called antitrust law.
What the authors are asking for is for the FCC competition policy to effectively flip the legal burden of proof from the government proving a merger/acquisition is anti-competitive to a company having to prove a merger is pro-competitive before the FCC – i.e. companies are guilty of anti-competitive intentions until proven innocent.
The authors also recommend an FCC competition policy of “standing up for competition usually turns out to be the same as standing up for entrepreneurship, innovation, the little guy who wants to get big…”
Defining competition as picking “entrepreneurship, innovation and the little guy” as the winners, may sound appealing to some, but its exposes the authors’ real concept of competition policy — to tilt the rules to and subsidize some government-favored players, especially new entrants – with no concept of competition as: competing for customers; ensuring supply meets demand; providing the most value and benefits to customers; investing to have a superior offering; etc.
This recommendation of theirs epitomizes my strong opposition to the authors’ proposed FCC competition policy, which would ensconce the FCC as central manager of the communications marketplace with a pre-determined view of what companies should gain or lose share over time via government decisions, without regard to what consumers want or do, and without regard to economics, return on investment or solvency/profit.
When then FCC Chairman Hundt implemented this kind new entrant-favored FCC competition policy in the mid 1990s, it proved to be the single most financially destructive regulatory experiment in managed competition in U.S. history.
The Hundt FCC’s competition policy made it clear to the marketplace that the FCC would be “standing up for entrepreneurship, innovation, the little guy.” That FCC ensured new entrants CLECs could expect virtually every price, term and condition advantage and subsidy that CLECs and new Fiber back bone companies could dream up.
This predictably led to economically unsustainable competition, where dozens of CLECs and over a dozen new fiber backbone companies were funded when market economics could sustain only a few. American investors and pensioners lost big — over a trillion dollars when the tech bubble burst. The bankruptcy of the entire CLEC industry cost hundreds of billions of dollars in losses. And the burst of the tech bubble meant FCC-encouraged fiber backbone companies and equipment providers lost over a trillion dollars in market value in weeks.
The cause of this huge and destructive carnage was FCC competition policy uneconomics and hubris where the FCC imagined that their visible hand of making most all of the relevant economic decisions for the sector could outperform the market’s invisible hand.
In stark contrast, the so-called laissez faire FCC approach, or light touch regulatory approach has attracted over a trillion dollarseconomic private capital investment, produced world-leading facilities-based broadband competition, and generated stellar competitive outcomes: falling real prices, increasing customer value, innovation, investment, differentiated choices, and more.
In sum, a modern FCC will adapt to the real progress of America’s competitive markets and world-leading technological innovation. A modern FCC will not look backward nostalgically or try to relive the past by dragging obsolescing, FCC-empowering, economic regulations into the present day so the FCC can quixotically try and control America’s Internet tomorrows.
To paraphrase our cinematic American philosopher Forrest Gump: modern is as modern does.[Picture originally posted on hipforums.com]
Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin Domenech was a guest on Wednesday night’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC. Juding from my Twitter feed, many Hayes fans (who call themseles #inners) are not happy that Ben is a frequent guest. But Hayes picks him because he’s good.
Ben points out that the Tea Party faction, both in Congress and among he people, “never really trusted the Republican establishment or the leadership in the House to actually fight the fight” against Obamacare or stand strong against raising the debt limit. “The reason you got to this point,” Ben continued, “is that you had, essentially, on one side a plan being advocated by Ted Cruz and people of his persuasion, and then you had leadership sort of saying, ‘Well, don’t do that,’ without offering them an alternative.”
Chris Hayes says that the Tea Party faction and right-wing activists are “lying” to the American people and the Republican leadership in Washington. But Ben points out, rightly, that the bigger lie was that Obamacare was ready for prime time. The government shutdown is over. Obamacare will continue to be a disaster for the left.
Oh, what a relief! Now we know that the government will be funded through January 15 and that we can wait until February 7 to fight the debt ceiling battle all over again. Three months to the next potential shutdown and four until the Democrats and Republicans go to the mattresses again like a scene from The Godfather.Only idiots would run a government with a $17 trillion debt this way.
Politico.com reported that “President Barack Obama welcomed the end of the government shutdown and the raising of the debt limit Thursday with a call for the end of crisis-to-crisis governing and a new era of bipartisan cooperation.”
Does anyone still believe anything Obama says?
The deal struck between Sens. Reid (D-NV) and McConnell (R-KY) allowed the latter to secure $2 billion for a project in Kentucky and no doubt there is plenty of pork in the bill to keep everyone happy, except for those senators who weren’t able to get a piece of the bribe money.
“There is no distinctly criminal class,” said Mark Twain, “except Congress.”
What have we learned from the last three weeks? We learned that President Obama has no intention to negotiate with the Republicans and regards the Democrats in Congress as little more than rubber stamps for whatever he wants. And they seem to agree. While the Democrats showed considerable solidarity, the Republicans were tearing themselves to tatters.
We learned that President Obama, with an eye on the November 2014 midterm elections, is already in full battle mode as he and his huge propaganda machine—the media and the former campaign committee-turned-social-media-megaphone—ramp up the message that the Tea Party is composed of rightwing fanatics and the Republicans are not much better.
Given the great “success” of Obamacare, can you imagine spending the last two years of Obama’s time in office if he is able to so demonize the Republicans that they lose control of the House and cannot gain control or at least a larger margin of members in the Senate?
I jest, of course. Obamacare is the greatest gift ever handed to the Republicans.
As millions of Americans discover that their health insurance premiums have increased 100% to 300%, they will be howling for its repeal by November 2014. The younger, healthier members of society will elect to pay the fine for not signing up. Some people will discover they cannot be admitted to the hospital of their choice or that their personal physician has retired or closed their practice. Others will find their fulltime jobs reduced to part-time, if they haven’t already.
There are going to be a lot of very unhappy voters by the time the midterms roll around and that, ladies and gents, is why the Republicans “caved” this time and will likely do so again because I have a feeling that their strategy will be to fight a lot of small, but losing battles around the various deadlines required to fund the government and lift the debt ceiling. Each time they do the latter, they will remind everyone that Obama keeps demanding more money.
As for Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, he was greeted with a round of applause by the Republican caucus when he announced the deal to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. It wasn’t that they hadn’t lost, but that they understood he had fought their battle with dignity and as far as he could, given the lack of unity among GOP House members.
The memory of World War Two and Vietnam veterans, as well as others from more recent conflicts being denied access to their memorials on the National Mall or of the first closure of the Lincoln Memorial ever is going to linger. Barricades have now been renamed “Barrycades.”
The President has managed to offend veterans, the elderly (who vote in larger numbers), the unions who hate Obamacare, Catholics, and a younger generation already saddled with debt from college who are being told they must dig deeper to pay for health insurance they don’t want and probably don’t need.
Obamacare is profoundly unconstitutional. Forget about the Supreme Court’s idiotic decision to call a penalty a “tax” and ignore the other elements of the Constitution that forbid the government from requiring people to pay for health insurance or pay a fine if they do not. The Court has made similar bad decisions in the past and, as some current scholars believe, has become so politicized that it has been eviscerating the clear intent of the Constitution for decades.
Only significant Republican victories in the midterm elections will end the misery being inflicted on Americans. That is likely to occur in spite of the GOP’s poor messaging and the hostility of the nation’s mainstream media.
Taxpayers and voters are in for months of gridlock on Capitol Hill. Get used to it.[Picture originally posted on investors.com/cartoons]
As usual, the much-ballyhooed national government ”shutdown” that kept vacationers out of the national parks and attempted to keep Normandy Veterans from entering the very memorial that they themselves made possible ended last night with a whimper, not a bang, and another ineffectual kicking of the taxpayer’s can down a bumpy fiscal road.
A nation that has not adopted a proper budget in years – and that refuses to live within one anyway – still has no meaningful control over ongoing expenses, accumulated debt, or a plan for dealing with either.
Instead, in a deal only Washington insiders could regard as progress, Republicans in both Houses of Congress caved in and, together with Congressional Democrats, passed a bill, H.R. 2775, to “reopen” the “partially-closed government” at currently unsustainable spending levels for yet another three months – until January 15, 2014 – and to suspend the national debt limit until February 7. In the meantime, House and Senate “leaders” promise to appoint representatives to a conference committee to address “broader budget issues” – such as whether to replace the current across-the-board spending cuts known as “sequestration” with other purported “savings.”
This is bankruptcy on the installment plan, both moral and fiscal. The United States government is the political equivalent of an alcoholic who insists that he will sober up next month if the bartender will only increase his credit limit yet again and keep buying him drinks on the house until a week from next Tuesday. In the meanwhile the bartender’s children are in danger of missing meals and the bar’s own creditors are threatening foreclosure because the mortgage loan is nearly in default.
“Furloughed” federal workers will as usual be paid for the time that they weren’t at work, meaning an additional two weeks or so of (albeit stressful and unplanned) vacation on the tab of the same taxpayers who, if vacationing at their own expense the past two weeks, were shut out of the national parks and presidential libraries, also through no fault of their own. Congressional staff will still get huge Obamacare subsidies that the rest of the citizenry does not and the “individual mandate” of Obamacare remains in place even though the administration has delayed, waived, or gutted every other significant portion of the law for purely partisan political purposes.
What Republicans up for re-election in 2014 have to show for all this are a memorable reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” by Canadian-born Texas Senator Ted Cruz – who ultimately refused to block the legislation that he initially pretended to filibuster – and a popularity rating lower than the keel of the Titanic on April 16 of 1912. Meanwhile President Obama quickly signed the bill and, of course, proclaimed victory. Although also taking a temporary hit in popularity but not subject to re-election, he wisely remained largely above the fray and accordingly felt free to lecture the nation this morning that the only things standing between the people and the nirvana of cradle-to-grave government are citizenship and voting rights for people who have entered the nation illegally, “closing corporate tax loopholes that don’t create jobs” and – in our post-industrial information technology-based economy – a new farm bill.
On the whole, the country is worse off than back where we started, having been subjected to further abuse by a non-responsive and irresponsible government and a few steps further down Friedrich von Hayek’s fabled road to serfdom.
As Tennessee Ernie Ford once plaintively lamented, “You load sixteen tons, and whaddya get? Another day older and deeper in debt.”[Image originally posted on macromike.com]
Thanks to the wonder that is the Internet, you don’t have to actually live in San Diego to watch a 30-minute special that aired in that city last Sunday that gives a thorough debunking of the climate scare.
Below, you will see what the lucky residents of San Diego enjoyed via the great KUSI-TV and the Founding Father of The Weather Channel, John Coleman … just without the other benefits of living in one of the most pleasant cities on the planet. You’ll just have to count all your other blessings.
Coleman interviewed two of the lead authors of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, Fred Singer and Bob Carter. Both are part of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) — the organization of some 50 scientists that have applied (gasp!) the scientific method to the political science of the UN’s IPCC … and have found the “science” in their latest climate report wanting. But the IPCC is more interested in political science than climate science, so it’s easy pickings for NIPCC.
The 1,015-page Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science has been making waves across the non-warming globe, and the undertow is infinitely annoying to the eco-left. But as Shakespeare wrote: The truth will out.
View climate truth below:
Consider for a moment what will come next for Obamacare, in the context of Ezra Klein’s five thoughts on the disastrous launch of the program – a bellwether of sorts for how the administration failed to live up to the expectations it sold to the law’s supporters and opinion leaders. There are a few different directions it can go from here, but the worst case scenario hasn’t really entered people’s consciences yet, in part because the insurers are staying quiet at the moment. The reality now is that the system is at least a month from actually working, and likelier two or (gasp) three, given the enormous range of problems. And that could make for a real disaster.
As it stands today, at most nine of the state exchanges are working… but while some systems are being announced as “fixed” on the state level, fixed in this case means the ability to look at plans, not to actually enroll. And the fundamental breakdown for the federal exchange hangs on a decision designed to insulate people from the true cost of plans – an approach which is now backfiring given the load it places on the website. The whole storyline is marked by a disturbing failure of basic technocracy: according to the New York Times, as late as the last week of September, HHS officials were still debating aspects of the site, including that requirement making customers register before shopping for insurance.
Democrats are scrambling for excuses: there wasn’t enough money or time. The decision to delay controversial regulations til after the 2012 election slowed the process. The Republican governors ruined efforts by opting not to implement exchanges. The suggestion that cronyism played a role in the contractor process is already being advanced. But cronyism or no, the decision of those at CMS/HHS to take the lead in organizing the program – despite an enormous absence of institutional experience – may be the real source of the problem. Megan McArdle outlines the reality:
I’m a longtime critic of federal contracting rules, which prevent some corruption at ruinous expense in money, quality and speed. But federal contracting rules are not what made the administration delay writing the rules and specifications necessary to build the system until 2013. Nor to delay the deadline for states to declare whether they’d be building an exchange, in the desperate hope that a few more governors might decide – in February 2013! – to build a state system after all. Any state that decided to start such a project at that late date would have had little hope of building anything that worked, but presumably angry voters would be calling the governor instead of HHS. Federal contracting codes, so far as I am aware, do not emit intoxicating gases that might have caused senior HHS officials to decide that it was a good idea to take on the role of lead contractor – a decision equivalent to someone who has never even hung a picture deciding that they should become their own general contractor and build a house. Nor can those rules explain their lunatic response when they were told that the system was not working – “failure was not an option.”
But whether these excuses work with the public or not, the worst case scenario for Obamacare is now entering the realm of possibility: what if it just doesn’t work, and continues not to work, a month from now? The deadlines for achieving coverage are approaching fast. The political reality is that it’s impossible to legally require people to sign up for something when the system just won’t let them. If a month from now we are still seeing a fail rate of significance within these systems, where people trying to enroll are turned away as often (or more often!) than they get through, the pressure from non-partisan actors is going to explode for a delay of major aspects of the law. It will be a murmur at first, but if it continues to grow, there will have to be a Congressional response.
One factor to consider here is that the consultants involved for the federal and state exchanges have a good deal of overlap. It would be one thing if it were just a few states having issues – they could prioritize the major states over the minor ones – but the fact that the problems are worst for the federal exchange means none of the states are going to get significant attention until that’s taken care of. This could mean smaller states get attention last, leaving their citizens incapable of purchasing the coverage they’re legally required to get. The potential for legal challenges coming out of this is massive if the mandate/penalty is not delayed. But to solve the practical problem requires steps beyond just the individual mandate delay or extending open enrollment for the entire year – we’re talking about actually taking the exchanges offline (insurers would presumably honor the handful of plans already sold through them) in order to fix them. That process could take months of work and millions more in taxpayer dollars… and set us up to do this whole thing again in October of 2014.
So what’s the worst case scenario? Honestly, it’s this: if this is as big of a failure as it looks like at the moment, and the problems are not fixed within the next two months, the Obamacare project could end up backfiring in a way that could have dramatic effects on politics and policy going forward. It will contribute to distrust in government’s basic capability. It will fail to live up to its promise, and wreck the insurance markets for no good purpose. It will represent the administration betraying its strongest supporters. And it may ultimately leave President Obama wishing John Roberts had ruled the other way – turning him into a martyr for the cause as opposed to putting the burden of proof on actually implementing his signature policy.[Originally posted on the Federalist]
When you open your monthly bill from Visa V +1.11% or Mastercard, have you ever thought of telling the credit card company you cannot possibly pay even the minimumbalance due, and you are going to have to default on the debt, unless the company immediately increases your credit limit? What do you think your creditor would tell you if you did? Would you expect to get the increase in your credit limit that way?
That is the same silly, illogical argument that your President Barack Obama is peddling to the entire country, to considerable success, given the fundamental breakdown in this generation’s ability to handle self-government. Not raising the debt limit does not mean defaulting on the national debt, any more than not increasing your credit limit means you can’t pay your monthly credit card bill, and must default on that.
As the outstanding federal debt becomes due, it can simply be paid by newly issued debt, without violating the debt limit, as the total outstanding debt would not change. President Obama’s own budget estimates total net interest on the national debt for this year currently totals $223 billion. But his budget also estimates total federal income taxes for this year at $1.7 trillion, or $1,700 billion. So just as you use a small portion of your monthly earnings to pay your credit card bill, current federal tax revenues are more than enough to pay the current interest due on the national debt. So not increasing the national debt does not mean defaulting on the national debt. QED.
But our party controlled press, like the WashingtonPost and the New York Times, which behave voluntarily in regard to the Obama Administration just as Pravda did under compulsion in regard to the old Soviet dictators, foolishly echo this Obama party propaganda, “reporting” that default on the national debt is imminent unless Congress increases the debt limit. Even some conservative commentators have been buffaloed into lamely repeating that such default is at issue in the debt limit debate. There should be personal liability for commentator malpractice.
But President Obama says without increasing the debt limit, he cannot cover all of the federal government’s spending for the year, and he cannot decide what to prioritize to spend the continuing federal income on first. But this is why with no executive experience, or any other experience except rabble rousing, he had no business running for President in the first place.
As a former Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States, a member of the Bar of the United States Supreme Court, and an honors graduate of Harvard Law School, in my opinion it would be an impeachable offense for President Obama to default on the national debt in violation of the Constitution when he has the available resources. Perhaps the House Judiciary Committee opening impeachment hearings and taking testimony on this point would help President Obama decide how to prioritize.
But President Obama says Congress must raise the debt limit just to pay the bills we already owe. But if you gain a credit limit increase on your credit card, and you charge still more, is that paying the bills you already owe? Or is that racking up still more bills?
Similarly, raising the debt limit so the federal government, with nearly $17 trillion in national debt (more than our entire economy), can borrow still more does not involve paying the bills we already owe. It means racking up new bills to be paid in the future, by our kids. At best, if the increased borrowing is used to pay current federal bills owed, that involves deferring payment of current obligations, not paying what we already owe.
But President Obama is doing a good job of just confusing and manipulating the American people on this issue, as too many voters do not understand federal finances. But that does not mean they refrain from voting when they don’t understand the issues.
The latest news is that Senate Democrats are demanding to increase the debt limit and reopen the government that Republicans agree to replace the sequester spending cuts with tax increases, and to scrap the long term budget caps adopted in the 2011 debt limit deal. President Obama has been calling for precisely that all year, and it is in the Senate Democrat budget passed earlier this year.
The sequester and the spending caps have amounted to the most successful federal budget restraint in 50 years. Under those policies, total federal spending in actual, nominal dollars has actually declined for two years in a row, which almost never happens even for one year, and has not happened for two consecutive years since the end of the Korean War. The Wall StreetJournal reported yesterday that through the first 11 months of the 2013 fiscal year, federal spending was down $127 billion over last year. The sequester and the budget caps now require still more spending cuts for 2014.
This debate clearly defines a difference between the two parties. The Democrats want to repeal and replace the spending cuts with still another tax increase. The Republicans won these budget cuts in the 2011 debt limit deal, and to President Obama’s shock, they want to keep them (though there are big spending Republican dissenters).
The Republican House majority in fact does have the power to resolve the debt limit impasse, and the government shutdown, on their own, if they would just wake up. But that would involve explaining to the American people how passing a federal bill works, and if you have to depend on the Republicans explaining anything, you can just forget about it.
The Republican House majority should just pass the debt limit increase as they want it, with the sequester and the budget caps all remaining in place. They do not need agreement from President Obama or Harry Reid to do that. If the Democrat majority Senate disagrees, they can just go pass the debt limit increase bill as they favor it. Then the regular, established procedure for enacting legislation is for the House and Senate to both go to a Conference Committee and work out the final compromise.
If the House leadership would just pass the debt limit bill as they prefer it, they can explain to the nation that they have done their job, and they are waiting for the Democrats to act. Then if the Democrats do not pass their bill, or do not show up at the Conference Committee, then it will be clear to the whole country who is responsible for failing to raise the debt limit. If the House Leadership cannot get this, then they must be replaced. Newt Gingrich is still eligible to serve as Speaker, and I am sure he can explain it to the public. This same procedure is available if a short term agreement has extended the debt limit debate to a later date.
Of course, President Obama can then still veto whatever the Conference Committee comes up with. But then it would be clear exactly who is refusing to raise the debt ceiling, even in the face of a bipartisan Congressional agreement on the issue. And if he is going to be blamed rather than the Republicans, he will yield.
The exact same procedure can and should be used to resolve the government shutdown issue, now or at the time to which any short term agreement has extended the issue. The government is regularly funded by 13 or more appropriations bills, not by Continuing Resolution (CR). It is the CR that puts the shutdown of the entire federal government at issue, because the CR is inherently an all or nothing measure.
What House Republicans need to do is finish passing the rest of the Appropriations bills on an expedited basis, under closed, accelerated rules. Then the Republicans can explain to the nation that they have fully funded the government, and that nothing further can move forward until the Democrat majority passes their Appropriations bills, and then the matter goes to the Conference to resolve any issues. If Senate Democrats do not pass their Appropriations bills, or show up at the Conference, then it will again be clear to the entire nation who is responsible for the government shutdown.
Democrats have said they will not fund the government piecemeal, only all or nothing. But contrary to this posturing public manipulation, the federal government is regularly funded piecemeal, through this appropriations process.
The government has been shutdown only because President Obama and the Democrats have been so sure that the Republicans will be blamed for it. Once Obama and the Democrats are themselves put on the spot, through the Appropriations process, then they will quickly agree to compromise the issues.
Through that Appropriations regular order, the Republicans can even still pursue defunding Obamacare, because they could do so making only the HHS Appropriations bill the issue, meaning only HHS would be shut down (possibly the IRS and the Office of Personnel Management too). That is another advantage of restoring the Appropriations regular order.[Originally published on Forbes.com]
The news on Monday, October 7th, included a notice that Heather Zichal would be leaving her White House job as Obama’s “top adviser on environmental and climate issues.” And I asked myself who is Heather Zichal?
In fact, Ms. Zichal had served in an advisory position for five years. In her current position, she replaced the “climate and energy czar”, Carol Browner, who left in March 2011. Browner had formerly been the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency where she did her best to impose some of the most draconian environmental policies; a task taken up by Lisa Jackson until she recently stepped down and was replaced by Gina McCarthy. It says a lot about this agency that during the government shutdown, it furloughed 93% of its employees as “non-essential.”
In July Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) penned a Wall Street Journal’s commentary, “The EPA’s Game of Secret Science”, noting “As the Environmental Protection Agency moves forward with some of the most costly regulations in history, there needs to be greater transparency about the claimed benefits from these actions. Unfortunately, President Obama and the EPA have been unwilling to reveal to the American people the data they use to justify their multibillion-dollar regulatory agenda.” Rep. Smith is chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Ms. Zichal has managed to maintain a very low profile during her White House career. Trying to find articles that profile or quote her turned out to be a real task. Part of the reason for this may be her political instincts and experience. She has been active since her days in college following a duel track of politics and environmental issues. She quickly came to the notice of Democrat Rush D. Holt, Jr. (NJ) when she was an intern at the state chapter of the Sierra Club and he was running for office. Holt hired her as a legislative director.
Ms. Zichal would later hold the same position for Rep. Frank Pallone from 2001-2002 before serving Senator John Kerry from 2002-2008. She would be an advisor to Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and the 2008 Obama campaign. Throughout her career she has been devoted to the global warming/climate change hoax. After Browner’s departure, she served on the White House Domestic Policy Council because Congress abolished the funding for Browner’s position in an agreement that averted a government shutdown in 2011
In what appears to be a rare interview, prior to the 2008 election Ms. Zichal was profiled in Grist magazine, an environmental publication. She spouted all the usual nonsense about greenhouse gas emissions, “clean coal”, and “how a President Obama would craft a bipartisan plan to address climate change.” At the time she said that Obama’s “climate and energy policy go hand-in-hand. His goal would be to try and move climate legislation in tandem with energy legislation.”
She was correct in that prediction and the result has been an all-out war on coal with the EPA relying on hidden, bogus “scientific” data to justify it. In the Grist article, Ms. Zichal said that Obama would call for “an aggressive 80 percent emissions reduction.” Since there has been no warming trend since 1998 and no connection between carbon dioxide and the non-existent warming, the need for such a reduction is zero.
Despite the administration’s best efforts, the energy sector, other than coal, has been growing as the result of the fracking technology that has made recovery of the nation’s vast oil and natural gas reserves possible. Along the way the administration wasted billions on loans to so-called “renewable” wind and solar energy companies, most of whom quickly went bankrupt.
Energy industry expert, Robert Bradley, Jr., writing on the Master Resource website in June 2012 took note of a Greenwire—Energy & Environmental News—profile of Ms. Zichal noting that, for all her talk about “outreach” to sectors of the energy industry, “we have the irony of Ms. Zichal trying to square the circle of real consumer-driven energy vs. politically correct energy.”
In point of fact, Ms. Zichal has been a behind-the-scenes player in the Obama administration’s advancement of the global warming/climate change hoax, in efforts to shut down coal-fired plants, and thwarting access to the estimated ten billion barrels of oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, along with other ways to limit the production of energy the nation requires.
The recent report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finally admitted the fact that the planet has been in a cooling cycle for nearly seventeen years. The report has been thoroughly discredited as regards the “science” it has been citing; based almost entirely on rigged computer models.
The White House cited Ms. Zichal for the work she has performed there, “most recently developing our bold climate action plan”, saying she will be missed. The notion that the White House or any other entity on Earth could do anything about the climate is absurd.
“Heather will be missed here at the White House, but our work on this important issue will go on”, said the announcement of her departure. I’m guessing that she will find a new job with the Sierra Club or some similar environmental organization devoted to harming the best interests of the nation.
Obamacare and ethanol—hand-in-hand
Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obamacare. If it were front and center of the newscycle, as Obamacare is, most would also have the same repeal-or-revise attitude regarding ethanol mandates as the two are marching hand-in-hand. In addition to the odd collection of opponents—conservatives and unions in opposition to Obamacare; and environmentalists and big oil, auto manufacturers and anti-hunger groups oppose ethanol—there are numerous other similarities.
Sounds good at the start
Healthcare for all sounds like a good idea, after all who wants to tell a mother holding a sick child that she can’t get care? Likewise, homegrown fuel that will increase America’s energy independence, sounds good—especially when the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The RFS mandates a minimum volume of biofuels (generally corn-based ethanol) is to be used in the national transportation fuel supply each year. Two years later, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 greatly expanded the biofuel mandate volumes and extended the date through 2022. The expanded RFS required the annual use of 9 billion gallons of biofuels in 2008, rising to 36 billion gallons in 2022, with at least 16 billion gallons from cellulosic biofuels, and a cap of 15 billion gallons for corn-starch ethanol.
At the time, US oil imports were growing, fears of shortages due to so-called peak oil were rampant, and the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing weren’t yet widely used and had not unleashed the current abundance of US resource. Growing our gasoline—converting corn from the heartland into ethanol—sounded good. Today, the Renewable Fuels Association claims that the RFS has reduced America’s foreign oil dependence. Perhaps that is true, but unlocking federal lands, expediting permitting for drilling, and approving the Keystone pipeline could totally remove our reliance on Middle Eastern oil in as few as three years.
Have had their day on court
Virginia Attorney General, and gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli was the first to file a lawsuit against Obamacare—which the Supreme Court ultimately declared a tax. On October 8, the American Petroleum Institute (API), once again, filed a lawsuit in the DC Circuit Court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the RFS volume requirements for 2013. A similar suit was filed in 2012. On January 25, 2013, the US Court of Appeals rejected EPA’s 2012 mandate for refiners to use cellulosic biofuel, which was not commercially available. In response to the court’s decision, Bob Greco, API Group Downstream Director, said: “This absurd mandate acts as a stealth tax on gasoline with no environmental benefit that could have ultimately burdened consumers.”
Non-elected bureaucrats setting policy
While both Obamacare and the RFS were passed by Congress, the particulars are left to government agencies to regulate. With the RFS, the EPA has missed statutory deadlines for issuing RFS volume requirements and then released rules mandating that refiners use 4 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2013. Yet, according to the EPA, only 142,000 gallons have been available for refiners to blend so far. Reports indicate that for 2014, the target for cellulosic biofuel would be 23 million gallons—despite the fact that the fuel is virtually nonexistent. The EPA has ignored the 2012 Court of Appeals smack down in which Judge Stephen Williams said the law was not intended to allow the EPA to “let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology” and has again set advanced biofuel targets that are out of touch with reality.
Fines for noncompliance
While the Obamacare exchanges have not been working as expected—with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina reporting only one person enrolled after 24 hours, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius admitted to Jon Stewart that if someone doesn’t participate “they pay a fine.” Guess what? Even though there isn’t enough cellulosic ethanol to meet the EPA mandates, refiners are required to blend it into gasoline—and, if they don’t, they pay a fine.
Creates new problems
- Ethanol reduces miles per gallon (MPG)—At a time when the White House has upped the MPG a vehicle gets (known as the CAFE standards) it is also mandating the use of ethanol, which lowers MPG. Edmunds did an apples-to-apples comparison of gasoline vs. ethanol (using a flex-fuel vehicle and E85). They conclude: “The fuel economy of our Tahoe on E85, under these conditions, was 26.5 percent worse than it was when running on gas”—and cost about $30 more. Plus, Edmunds found that the carbon emissions savings was negligible. (Note: less than 7 percent of the US vehicular fleet is flex-fuel.)
- Ethanol mandates have devastated the dairy industry (and turkey growers are none too happy, either)—In rural California, dairy farmers have been deeply affected by the rising cost of feed (which has jumped as much as 240 percent since 2005) brought on by mandated ethanol blending by the RFS. John Taylor, who owns and operates Bivalve Dairy with his family, says: “If there’s a requirement to have ‘X’ amount of tons of corn go into renewable energy, that’s just going to reduce the supply…that’s only going to make the price go up for [dairy farmers]…I’m not sure we should be taking our food and putting it into energy.”
California Assemblywoman, Kristin Olsen, reports: “The competition between the corn market and the government corn ethanol mandate is creating grave challenges for our California farmers, and their ability to feed their livestock and, ultimately, the nation.”
About the turkeys, Damon Wells, vice president of government affairs, National Turkey Federation, adds to the discussion. “Too often they’ve tried to say this was a petroleum vs. ethanol fight. I take great exception to that. I think those in the animal agriculture industry take great exception to that because all of the benefits that have come from this Renewable Fuel Standard have transferred off the backs of small farmers all across this country that are feeding livestock and poultry and ultimately it’s a transfer of cost from one agricultural sector to another.”
- Ethanol damages small engines and outdoor power equipment—In my book Energy Freedom, I have an entire chapter on ethanol. For it, I interviewed Abe at K & S Services Center in Albuquerque, NM—which specializes in small engine service and repair. He told me that 85 percent of the repairs they do are caused by fuel problems. Because of the increased ethanol in the fuel available at gas stations, Abe’s had to change his warranty policy and the center no longer warranties fuel-related damages. For his customers, many of whom are in the lawn-care business, the ten-percent ethanol in gasoline doubled their repair costs until they learned about its hazards and quit using it—converting to more expensive (but cheaper in the long run) pure gasoline.
Kris Kiser, president and CEO, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, affirms Abe’s observations: “Our small-engine industry and products … is sort of where the RFS meets reality. … you’re introducing fuel to the marketplace for which all of this stuff is not designed or warranted to run on. … You have product failure. Failure can mean economic failure or it can mean safety failure. … There’s a half-billion engine products in the marketplace today not built or warranted to run on E15.”
Hard to remove once policy is in place
Whether or not you agree with Ted Cruz’s tactics regarding stopping Obamacare, you likely agree with this statement he made about it: “In modern times no major entitlement, once it was implemented, has ever been unwound.” Surprise! The same can be said about the RFS. My friend and colleague, Paul Driessen has penned an excellent column on ethanol in which he addresses “how hard it is to alter policies and programs once they have been launched by Washington politicians, creating armies of special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors.”
We surely see what Driessen is talking about in an October 11, letter from Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA), published in the Wall Street Journal. In Ethanol Promotes Consumer Choice, Branstad defended the benefits of his state’s leading crop: “It is the ethanol industry, which makes a cheaper, cleaner and higher-octane product, that is ready, willing and able to face free-market competition.” To which a reader, Charles Pierce, responds: “I do not know what planet the Governor is living on but when the Federal Government forces the adding of ethanol to motor fuels there is no choice. It is just like the PPACA [Obamacare] it is a tax that is paid by each consumer being forced to buy a product that the government set up or likes. Want free choice; want cheaper motor fuels? Make it an option, not a mandate.”
When Republicans who generally oppose mandates and subsidies, like Gov. Branstad, Sen. Grassely, and Rep. King, support continuing the RFS, we can surely see the influence of “special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors,” as a result of federal involvement in what should be a market-based solution.
“Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals,” a report released in September revealed.
It is time to repeal—or at least revise—the costly RFS boondoggle. Fortunately such a plan is on the table. The RFS Reform Act, co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, proposes to eliminate the conventional biofuels mandate and cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into the fuel supply. Call your Senators and Representatives and tell them to end this eight-year-old policy failure.
We may not be able to repeal Obamacare, but with your help, reforming the RFS can be a reality.
[First Published By Townhall]
This year’s prize goes to three economists who made contributions to the pricing of speculative assets such as stocks. Eugene Fama, of the University of Chicago, and the oldest of the three, is best known for his development of the efficient markets hypothesis. Lars Peter Hansen, also of the University of Chicago, and the youngest of the three, for exploring the “boundedness” of market processes, both in theory and in empirical estimation. Robert Shiller, of Yale University, has explored the behavioral underpinnings of price determination, arguing that market prices often over-react to changes in fundamental value.
Fama’s efficient market hypothesis is today a textbook standard. It negates the profitability of “technical analysis.” Market prices reflect all past, publicly-available information, and perhaps even private information, and certainly reflects any potential information in stock market patterns (such as “triple bottom,” said to be a prediction of a “breakout” and a “buy” signal). But, doesn’t the efficient market hypothesis disprove itself, as who, if nobody can profit from buying or selling stocks based on information, impounds information into stock prices? To more precisely say that, at the margin, market prices reflect all past, publicly-available information is almost to admit that there are times when stock prices don’t; i.e., when stock prices are “infra-marginal;” or, when the capital available to those who rationally-value stocks is insufficient for them to bring price to value. In his later years, Fama himself seemed to challenge his earlier work in his collaboration with Kenneth French, with the “three-factor” model. In the three-factor model, small cap stocks and stocks with exceptionally high ratios of market to book value, along with systematic risk, are shown to affect stock prices. To be sure, the three-factor model might reflect an underlying multi-factor model of stock price determination, and have nothing to do with information-efficiency.
Shiller’s work is both more recent and on-going, and part of a broad line of inquiry concerning the impact of psychological factors, even irrationality, on stock prices. Why, for example, do we observe “booms” and “busts” in markets in speculative assets, including real estate as well as stock markets; or, “balloons” or “bubbles,” followed by their “bursting.” Even more so, why is the bursting of a bubble in real estate and in stocks so often followed by a recession, or even by a long period of depressed economic conditions? In some early work, he appeared to challenge the efficient market hypothesis head on, arguing that stock prices were more volatile than could be justified. The Crash of ’87 seemed to validate his argument and instigated concerns for “behavioral foundations” and “market microstructure” and such. Shiller’s book “Irrational Exuberance,” taking off on an expression coined by Alan Greenspan, connected that gyration of the stock market to a long history of stock market behavior. Then came the calamitous collapse of the stock and real estate markets during 2008.
Hansen’s contributions to our understanding of financial markets seems to just be getting started. Beginning with technical issues of econometric estimation, he has moved on to the more philosophical issue of the difference between risk and uncertainty. Risk, we might say, is something measurable. It comes from frequencies of occurrence in repeated trials. With sufficiently many trials, we can estimate risk. Uncertainty comes from not knowing the model out of which are coming the outcomes we observe. In a world that is changing, uncertainty can never be resolved. The question, in prudent decision-making, is robustness, as Hansen puts it in his recent book coauthored with Thomas Sargent. By robustness, I mean surviving what otherwise would be catastrophic. What doesn’t kill you, makes it stronger. But, you have to avoid getting killed.
The contributions of this year’s triplet of economists involve advances in the utilization of data, as well as the development of theory. Fama cut his teeth with the analysis of daily stock market data, involving hundreds of stocks, over long periods of time. For example, he tracked the evolution of stock prices relative to “events” such as increases in dividends. This was the “big data” of his time. Shiller constructed and analyzed very long histories of stock market prices, and – more recently – developed of indices of real estate prices (the Case-Shiller index). Hansen is a developer of “agent models,” in which computer models simulate thousands or even millions of persons organized into so many households and companies. Agent models, like climate models, have to be seeded with “parameters,” and checked against observation and “intuitive validity.” They’re not so much proofs, but explanations. They become evidence when validated against data unknown at the time of their construction.
Now that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has gone into effect, the debate will shift from promises and theories to what consumers actually experience. As we are seeing, the first reaction appears to be bipartisan sticker shock.
The Manhattan Institute analyzed premiums in many states, including Texas, showing that young men are going to pay almost double for their health insurance under Obamacare, and women will pay 55 percent to 62 percent more.
Those unfortunate enough to live in North Carolina will pay 400 percent more.
A 27-year-old man in Texas will be paying 77 percent more than his current coverage. The study factored in pre-existing conditions.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation conducted a similar study looking at the cheapest plans (for those with no pre-existing conditions) compared to new policies under Obamacare.
A 64-year-old healthy male will pay 49 percent more, a 47-year-old will pay 85 percent more, a 35-year-old will pay 138 percent more, and a 27-year-old male will pay an astonishing 158 percent more.
Indeed, my own insurance company informed me that my individual ACA premium for my family of five would be increasing by 98 percent compared to my current coverage.
One of the primary goals of Obamacare was to cover the uninsured. Yet, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, for all of this pain, Obamacare will cover fewer than half the uninsured. This then raises the question: Should we try a different way to solve the problem of the uninsured?
When prices increase, demand falls. But rather than making insurance cheaper and easier, it is now more expensive and heavily regulated, which will price more people out of the market.
To counter this natural market response, the IRS will levy fines — excuse me, taxes — on you for failing to purchase insurance you can’t afford. Subsidies will be unavailable for most.
Under Obamacare, even the lowest-priced “Bronze” policies are more than double the cost of what the market was offering young people before, which will make it harder to convince the young to buy insurance.
But this administration is not deterred by the laws of supply, demand, and price elasticity because they have IRS auditors who will be forcing people to buy insurance. Something makes me think these people may not be voting Democrat the next time around.
Amid the national campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, Obamacare encourages unhealthy behaviors.
Now healthy people will subsidize the unhealthy since insurance companies are prohibited from charging unhealthy people more than the healthy. Those who eat well, exercise, and maintain their weight will pay higher premiums so that those with poor eating and exercise habits, and their chronic diseases, will pay less.
One of the more popular provisions of the ACA is the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions. But if the IRS fines are less than the cost of insurance premiums, people will forgo insurance until they are sick. In the insurance industry, this is called “jump and dump” — jump into the market when you are sick and then dump your insurance when you are well. This is the ultimate nightmare scenario for an insurance company and further increases prices for all other consumers.
Because of Obamacare and its regulations, some states now only have one or two insurance companies providing health coverage — a competitive market reduced to a monopoly.
The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study showing how state and federal insurance exchanges will totally control the insurance market, prohibiting non-exchange policies from being sold to individuals and small businesses, and strictly defining quality and controlling prices.
So rather than millions of individual consumers making decisions with firsthand information about their health needs, government bureaucrats with theories about your health will decide what you need and then force you to buy it.
[First Published by SA]
The human race has prospered by relying on forecasts that the seasons will follow their usual course, while knowing they will sometimes be better or worse. Are things different now?
For the fifth time now, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims they are. The difference, the IPCC asserts, is increased human emissions of carbon dioxide: a colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas that is a byproduct of growing prosperity. It is also a product of all animal respiration and is also essential for most life on Earth, yet in total it makes up only 0.0004 of the atmosphere.
The IPCC assumes that the relatively small human contribution of this gas to the atmosphere will cause global warming, and insists that the warming will be dangerous.
Other scientists contest the IPCC assumptions, on the grounds that the climatological effect of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide is trivial – and that the climate is so complex and insufficiently understood that the net effect of human emissions on global temperatures cannot be forecasted.
The computer models that the authors of the IPCC reports rely on are complicated representations of the assumption that human carbon dioxide emissions are now the primary factor driving climate change and will substantially overheat the Earth. The models include many assumptions that mainstream scientists question.
The modelers have correctly stated that they produce scenarios, not forecasts. Scenarios are stories constructed from a collection of assumptions. Well-constructed scenarios can be very convincing, in the same way that a well-crafted fictional book or film can be.
The IPCC and its supporters promote these scary scenarios as if they were forecasts. However, scenarios are neither forecasts nor the product of a validated forecasting method.
The IPCC modelers were apparently unaware of decades of forecasting research. Our audit of the procedures used to create their apocalyptic scenarios found that they violated 72 of 89 relevant scientific forecasting principles. Would you go ahead with your flight, if you overheard two of the ground crew discussing how the pilot had skipped 80 percent of the pre-flight safety checklist?
Thirty-nine forecasting experts from many disciplines from around the world developed the forecasting principles from published experimental research. A further 123 forecasting experts reviewed the work. The principles were published in 2001. They are freely available on the Internet, to help forecasters produce the best forecasts they can, and help forecast users determine the validity of forecasts. These principles are the only published set of evidence-based standards for forecasting.
Global warming alarmists nevertheless claim that the “nearly all” climate scientists believe dangerous global warming will occur. This is a strange claim, in view of the fact more than 30,000 American scientists signed the Oregon Petition, stating that there is no basis for dangerous manmade global warming forecasts, and “no convincing evidence” that carbon dioxide is dangerously warming the planet or disrupting its climate.
Most importantly, computer models and scenarios are not evidence – and validation does not consist of adding up votes. Such an approach can only be detrimental to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Validation requires comparing predictions to actual observations, and the IPCC models have failed in that regard.
Given the expensive policies proposed and implemented in the name of preventing dangerous manmade global warming, we are astonished that there is only one published peer-reviewed paper that claims to provide scientific forecasts of long-range global mean temperatures. The paper is our own 2009 article in the International Journal of Forecasting.
Our paper examined the state of knowledge and available empirical (that is, actually measured) data, in order to select appropriate evidence-based procedures for long-range forecasting of global mean temperatures. Given the complexity and uncertainty of the situation, we concluded that the “no-trend” model is the proper method to use. The conclusion is based on a substantial body of research that found complex models do not work well in complex and uncertain situations.
This finding might be puzzling to people who are unfamiliar with the research on forecasting. So we tested the no-trend model, using the same data that the IPCC uses, since forecasting principles require that models be validated by comparing them to actual observations.
To do this, we produced annual forecasts from one to 100 years ahead, starting from 1851 and stepping forward year-by-year until 1975, the year before the current warming alarm was raised. (This is also the year when Newsweek and other magazines reported that scientists were “almost unanimous” that Earth faced a new period of global cooling.) We conducted the same analysis for the IPCC scenario of temperatures increasing at a rate of 0.03 degrees Celsius (0.05 degrees Fahrenheit) per year in response to increasing human carbon dioxide emissions.
This procedure yielded 7,550 forecasts for each method. The findings?
Overall, the no-trend forecast error was one-seventh the error of the IPCC scenario’s projection. They were as accurate as or more accurate than the IPCC temperatures for allforecast horizons. Most important, the relative accuracy of the no-trend forecasts increased for longer horizons. For example, the no-trend forecast error was one-twelfth that of the IPCC temperature scenarios for forecasts 91 to 100 years ahead.
Our research in progress scrutinizes more forecasting methods, uses more and better data, and extends our validation tests. The findings strengthen the conclusion that there are no scientificforecasts that predict dangerous global warming.
Is it surprising that the government would support an alarm lacking scientific support? Not really. In our study of situations that are analogous to the current alarm over scenarios of global warming, we identified 26 earlier movements based on scenarios of manmade disaster, including the global cooling alarm in the 1960s to 1970s. None of them were based on scientific forecasts. And yet, governments imposed costly policies in response to 23 of them. In no case did the forecast of major harm come true.
There is no support from scientific forecasting for an upward trend in temperatures, or a downward trend. Without support from scientific forecasts, the global warming alarm is baseless and should be ignored.
Government programs, subsidies, taxes and regulations proposed as responses to the global warming alarm result in misallocations of valuable resources. They lead to inflated energy prices, declining international competitiveness, disappearing industries and jobs, and threats to health and welfare.
Humanity can do better with the old, simple, tried-and-true no-trend climate forecasting model. This traditional method is also consistent with scientific forecasting principles.
_____________Dr. Kesten C. Green is with the University of South Australia in Adelaide and is director of the major website on forecasting methods, www.ForecastingPrinciples.com, and has published twelve peer-reviewed articles on forecasting. Professor J. Scott Armstrong teaches at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and is a founder of the two major journals on forecasting methods, editor of the Principles of Forecasting handbook, and the world’s most highly cited author on forecasting methods. Dr. Willie Soon of Salem, MA for the past 20 years has published extensively on solar and other factors that cause climate changes.Copies of the authors’ climate forecasting papers are available atwww.PublicPolicyForecasting.com.
As part of the media tour for Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, two scientists from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), stopped by the studios of U-T TV in San Diego.
On Thursday, Dr. S. Fred Singer, Dr. Robert Carter, and Heartland Institute President Joe Bast were guests on The Roger Hedgecock Show. They discussed the findings of the new 1,000-page report — including the state of the ice caps, sea level rise, and being called “deniers” by the media, and left-wing activists. (SPOILER: Dr. Singer doesn’t lose any sleep over it.)
Steve Staneck interviews Ben Van Metre, Senior Budget, Tax and Policy Analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute, regarding Illinois’ movement from Flat tax to Progressive income tax. This movement is in opposition to more successful financial states who have adopted the Flat tax. States with Flat taxes have higher growth rates of employment and GDP, than those states who have Progressive income tax. Ben Van Metre explains how the volatile Progressive tax is detrimental to states due to its dependence on the shifting economy.
Ronald Reagan made a lot of history as President, but when he stood before the Brandenburg Gate not far from the Berlin Wall that divided the city and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”, he rocked the foundations of the Soviet empire on June 12, 1987. By 1989, the wall was opened and, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed.
Now thousands of Americans are saying “Mr. Obama, tear down these barricades,” They have become a symbol of the dictatorial style that has emerged over the first term of the President and now demonstrate it for everyone to see in the first year of his second term.
What is also on display are the cracks in the foundation of Obama’s presidency and administration. The first occurred in the 2010 midterm elections that returned power to the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. In the Senate these days, even the Democrats are beginning to break ranks with the White House, resisting on many fronts, “crossing the aisle” rather than vote the party line and risk reelection.
Obama has left them little choice with his oft-repeated threat that he will not negotiate with Republicans, choosing instead to use his office to garner airtime and press coverage to disparage them as terrorists, anarchists, hostage-takers, and kidnappers, to name just of few examples of his petulant, idiotic name-calling.
The job of a President is to negotiate. Every one of his predecessors in the office negotiated fulltime, seven days a week, either with his own party with the opposing one.
Obama and those who created the image of Obama have gone blind and deaf. They’ve been inside the White House bubble so long that forgot how ordinary people react when the President orders that national monuments and parks are shut down and barricades get between veterans and visitors.
When the administration opened up the National Mall to a rally by illegal aliens, the contempt for all the rest of us—natural born and naturalized citizens—could not have been more clear. The selective malevolence of the access that was denied makes a lasting impression, even on the “low information” voters.
The President’s approval rating dropped to 37% on October 9th. Congress scores in the single digits. There is a lot of unhappiness among the voters and all the campaign-style speeches and photo-ops are not going to turn this around.
Watching the media trim and adjust its sails is interesting as well. When Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services ran into a buzz saw on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show”, it sent a signal to other liberal media personalities that it was okay to finally question what the administration was doing, particularly as regards Obamacare. The liberal lemmings may not want to jump off the cliff with the White House.
There’s one thing that has gone largely unnoticed during the “shutdown.” It takes weeks and months for the federal government to order anything. It is a huge bureaucracy. So why were all those printed signs available for the “shutdown” unless the government keeps such things in a big warehouse somewhere?
The answer could be that Obama and his political advisors have been planning the shutdown and, in particular, the plan for the President to beat up the Republicans. He has begun now to gear up the Democrat Party campaign for the November 2014 midterm elections. We are witnessing a deliberate effort to berate non-stop the Republican Party in general and the Tea Party movement in particular. The press conference in which the President held forth for over an hour is an example, but significantly, his approval rates dropped to a new low of 37%.
Harry Truman did this in 1948 when he ran for election after filling out the term of Franklin Roosevelt who had died soon after his fourth reelection. Truman disparaged a “do nothing” Congress, controlled by the Republican Party, even though its actual record showed that it had passed a number of laws he favored. It was pure demagoguery and, combined with a tireless campaign of whistle-stop speeches, secured Truman election when everyone assumed Thomas Dewey would be the winner.
It could be that Obama has taken a lesson from that election, but he is not running to be reelected. He is running to gain full control over Congress of the kind that allowed him to ram through the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—in 2009. There were huge protests then and there will be more now.
A rally of truckers will seek to close down the capital this weekend in protest of Obamacare and other administration policies. Another rally will follow soon after by veterans. Indeed, I suspect 2014 is going to be remembered for a score of rallies that reflect the anger that has finally boiled up into action. As more and more Americans discover that their healthcare insurance premiums have doubled and tripled, they are going to blame one man—Barack Hussein Obama.
Obama has completely misread the character of the American people, perhaps because he lacks any character of his own.[Article originally published on factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com] [Picture originally published on www.mirror.co.uk]