Sadly, President John F. Kennedy did not live to experience the positive emotional and geopolitical outcomes of his decision to challenge the country to go to the Moon. The tragic events of November 22, 1963, prevented this well-deserved honor.
As one of the most important Presidential acts in history, a review of major factors leading to his May 25, 1961, address to the Congress provides guidance for such decisions in the future. In that address, Kennedy proposed that America ³should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.²
Kennedy, and President Eisenhower before him, recognized that international leadership in space capabilities provided critical leverage in the conduct of foreign and defense policy during the most intense stages of the Cold War.
After the Soviet Union¹s October 1957 success with Sputnik-1, Eisenhower¹s quiet implementation of national space policy laid essential foundations for what would follow. In the first few months of the Kennedy Administration, the new President rapidly assimilated both the status of Soviet intentions for space dominance and the growing potential for the U.S. to counter those intentions.
President Kennedy¹s ultimate decision to send Americans to the Moon built on many technological advancements and events. The Wright Brothers¹ successful aircraft flight on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and its demonstration of American ingenuity, provided the first link in the chain that led directly to the Apollo Program for ³landing a man on the Moon² in 1969.
Rapid advancement of early aviation prior to and during World War I led Congress to create the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA), signed into law by President Wilson on March 3, 1915. The work of the NACA and the military services began to accelerate the country¹s advancement in aviation.
Rocket technology began its march toward the future with the successful launch of a small liquid-fueled rocket by Robert Goddard on March 16, 1926, near Auburn, Massachusetts. Although neglected in the U.S. for the next 20 years, wartime liquid-fueled rocket technology advanced in Germany, led by Wernher von Braun, with the development of the V-2 missile. In the summer of 1945, with Eisenhower as Supreme Commander in Europe, von Braun and many of his engineers surrendered to the U.S. Army. As the Cold War loomed on the horizon, the von Braun team became part of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency.
All through World War II and the Cold War period, the development of defense-related electronics proceeded apace. In addition, major aircraft and defense companies and laboratories continued to advance their capabilities to manage and execute complex engineering endeavors.
On October 4, 1957, with the success of Sputnik-1 the first artificial satellite of Earth, the pace of foundational events moved rapidly forward toward Kennedy¹s rendezvous with the Moon. The continued disappointment of the Navy¹s Vanguard rocket to orbit a satellite during the highly visible International Geophysical Year led Eisenhower to turn to the Army for a response to Sputnik. After an 84-day crash effort, the Army launched the Explorer 1 satellite on a modified Jupiter ballistic missile on January 31, 1958.
By October 1958, President Eisenhower and the bipartisan congressional leadership of Lyndon Johnson, John McCormack, and Tiger Teague had created NASA by joining the NACA with the Army¹s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Ballistic Missile Agency. All agreed that NASA should be a fully visible, civilian agency.
T. Keith Glennan of the Case Institute and Hugh Dryden of the former NACA were chosen as leaders of the new Space Agency. Glennan soon created the Space Task Group to study human spaceflight under the leadership of Robert Gilruth and other veterans of the NACA. Their experience with managing complex projects would be fundamental to future success in space flight.
Building on the complex and highly successful X-15 Rocket Plane project, Gilruth¹s Space Task Group began to work on Project Mercury in January 1959 with the goal of putting Americans in Earth-orbit. During the same period, lunar mission concept and design studies were underway both in NASA, under George Low¹s leadership, and by several future industrial contractors.
Soon after opening its doors, NASA had assumed responsibility from the Air Force for the development of the huge, 1.5 million pound thrust F-1 rocket engine. Next, on January 14, 1960, sixteen months before Kennedy¹s Moon landing decision, Eisenhower personally directed Glennan to ³accelerate the super booster program². This program evolved into the Saturn V Moon rocket with five F-1 engines as the mainstay of its first stage.
As Kennedy prepared to take office in January 1961, Glennan formalized a Manned Lunar Task Force under George Low. In addition, Vice-President Johnson continued as a major advocate for aggressive space policy within the new Administration. Then, NASA received another outstanding leader when Kennedy appointed former Bureau of the Budget head James Webb as Administrator.
In rapid fire, events in April and May 1961 led up to JFK¹s decision on the Moon: Yuri Gagarin launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and orbited the Earth in Vostok-1 on April 12th. Five days later, the Bay of Pigs fiasco began. On April 20, Kennedy asked Johnson ³Is there anyŠspace program which promises dramatic results in which we could win?² This triggered a weeklong multi-agency review headed by the Vice-President.
Within the fallout from the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy held a press conference on April 21st during which he said, ³If we can get to the Moon before the Russians, then we should.² On April 28th, Johnson submitted a report to Kennedy in answer to his earlier question, concluding ³Šwith a strong effort, the United States could conceivably be first in [circumnavigation of the Moon and also in a manned trip to the Moon] by 1966 or 1967.² The month concluded with Vice-President Johnson forcing an agreement between Webb and a reluctant Science Advisor, Jerome Wiesner, that a national goal should be a Moon landing.
On May 3rd, Webb briefed Johnson on the feasibility of a Moon landing, based on the work of the Low and Gilruth teams and von Braun¹s progress with development of ³the super booster². On May 5th, Mercury Astronaut Alan Shepard, aboard Freedom 7, became the first American in space. The next day, Webb and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara agreed that NASA should lead the Moon effort rather than it being a classified, military project.
The following day, May 7th, Administrator Webb presented a draft Decision Memorandum that the President accepted without change. Soon after, on May 25th, 1961, President John F. Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress and proposed the goal of landing a man on the Moon.
Young Americans achieved Kennedy¹s goal on July 20, 1969, when the Eagle landed and Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the Moon.
[First published at America's Uncommon Sense.]
The debate on climate change is over. Anthropogenic (human) activity is increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which in turn is causing the global temperature to rise. Anyone who disagrees is a denier and an impediment to climate science.
A new book, Climate Change Reconsidered-II Volume One: The Physical Sciences (CCR-II), by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), published by The Heartland Institute, is sure to heat up the climate science debate, even if global temperatures are not responding in kind.
There are two important reasons to take issue with the no-debate position described above.
First, the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demonstrates global warming has not occurred since 1997, despite an 8 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels since that time. Furthermore, that 8 percent increase represents 34 percent of all of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution. At this juncture, drawing causation between CO2 emissions and temperature would seem an over-simplification of global climate systems.
Second, and more importantly, when it comes to science, the debate is never over.
Despite what many people seem to think, science does not occur on a linear trajectory, and knowledge is not manufactured by people crunching numbers in clean white lab coats in ivory towers where they find definitive answers.
Science and the discovery of knowledge is an interactive messy process. In order for this process to work, a fundamental rule must be followed, as stated eloquently by Jonathan Rauch in his book Kindly Inquisitors:
“[Y]our knowledge is always tentative and subject to correction. At the bottom of this kind of skepticism is a simple proposition: we must all take seriously the idea that any and all of us might, at any time, be wrong.” [italics in original]
By accepting that we are not immune from error, we implicitly accept that no person, no matter who they are or how strongly they believe, is above possible correction. If anyone can be in error, no one can legitimately claim to have any unique or personal powers to decide who is right and who is wrong. Therefore, a statement may be claimed as established knowledge only if it can be debunked, in principle, and only insofar as it withstands attempts to debunk it (Rauch 1993 pp. 46–48).
This leads to two conclusions:
- No one (or organization) gets the final say on scientific matters.
- No one (or organization) has personal authority to decide a scientific question is “settled.”
These principles have important implications for the climate change debate because the rules of liberal science not only allow but require that those who claim anthropogenic origins for recent rises in global temperature allow their theory to be checked.
Therefore, the NIPCC’s critical review (checking) of IPCC reports is not an attempt to sabotage the advancement of knowledge but a necessary requirement for science, and any attempt to paint it as unscientific is itself unscientific.
Over the past 16 years, the models used by the IPCC to predict rising global temperatures driven by anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been contradicted by the observed evidence. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen without a corresponding rise in temperature and Antarctic ice mass sits near balance.
Clearly, if the predictions made based on IPCC models are not supported by real-world observations, the models need improvement. Whether excess heat is being absorbed by the deep oceans, or increases in global temperatures near the end of the twentieth century were driven primarily by natural forces, it’s obvious there are additional factors affecting the global climate that must be taken into account.
This is certainly not to say that attempting to model and predict what will happen in the future is not a worthwhile pursuit. It does say, however, the IPCC models aren’t there yet. CCR-II explains why.
The debate on climate science is not over, and it never will be. Instead of stooping to name-calling and belittling of those who hold differing views, real scientists check each other’s work to produce the best science possible. CCR-II is a valuable resource for this pursuit.
Isaac Orr is a speaker, researcher, and freelance writer specializing in hydraulic fracturing, agricultural, and environmental policy issues. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with studies in political science and geology, winning awards for his undergraduate geology research before taking a position in the Wisconsin State Senate. He is the author of a Heartland Institute Policy Study on hydraulic fracturing.
They’re calling for a “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) tax because, darn it, cars and trucks are becoming more fuel-efficient. Drivers are getting more miles for each gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel they buy, which means fuel tax revenues have not been growing as much as government officials would like. Taxing us on each mile driven would get them more money.
The intrusiveness of such a scheme, especially in light of the continuing revelations about the U.S. government spying on Americans and even heads of state of some of this nation’s staunchest allies, should worry us all. Do we really want the federal or state governments knowing every mile we drive, and possibly every place we go? In Oregon, where several thousand drivers are participating in a tax-per-mile system test, GPS is included in some of the “black boxes” that record miles driven.
To the “If you’re doing nothing wrong, you should have no problem being tracked” crowd, let us ask: Do you put curtains, drapes, or blinds over the windows in your home? Following their logic, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you should take down all your window coverings and let people peer inside whenever they want.
Some things are no one else’s business, even if those things are legal. If we don’t want our neighbors or even our close relatives watching us whenever they like, how could we possibly want government bureaucrats we don’t know—bureaucrats whose power is backed up by the threat of police violence and prisons—tracking every mile we drive?
There’s no disputing the federal Highway Trust Fund is broke. But this is partly because money has been diverted to things other than roads and bridges—public transit, sidewalks, bike paths, scenic trails, etc. A simple solution would be to end the diversions and spend money that is collected for highways on highways.
Motor fuel taxes also could be raised. The federal gasoline and diesel fuel taxes have remained unchanged at 18.4 cents and 24.4 cents a gallon, respectively, for nearly 20 years. But raising gas taxes angers people. A VMT would be less transparent. To people in government, an easy-to-see tax is never as good as one that is easy to hide.
This is why there is nearly universal opposition among politicians to ending withholding of income taxes. If people had to regularly send Uncle Sam a check for income tax owed, there’d be much fiercer opposition to the tax. With the tax owed automatically withheld from paychecks, workers never see the money, and they’re less inclined to miss it. It would be a similar experience with the electronic tallies of a VMT tax.
VMT advocates complain that hybrid cars and electric vehicles burn little or no gasoline, so people drive them for free. But those vehicles are still just a tiny sliver of the nation’s rolling stock. Moreover, it would be easy to impose a special tax on them at time of purchase, or an annual tax, to make up the difference. This would be poetic justice, in fact, considering the thousands of dollars of subsidies the government showers on such vehicles and their buyers, who receive hefty tax credits for their purchases.
Another solution—one that many states have begun using—is to use “public-private partnerships” in which private companies put up their own funds to help fund transportation infrastructure projects.
“Our own recent survey identified 18 jurisdictions that are financing big-ticket highway and bridge ‘mega-projects’ without federal funding. Instead, they are using long-term credit (private and TIFIA [federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act money]), ‘availability payments,’ private equity risk capital, and concession agreements,” wrote transportation expert C. Kenneth Orski in a recent issue of his InnovationBriefs newsletter.
Raise fuel taxes. End diversions of highway funds. Charge a road fee for owners of hybrid and electric cars. Leverage existing federal programs to involve private companies to address highway needs. These all would be better solutions than the hidden and privacy-violating VMT.
Steve Stanek (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute in Chicago.
They should be 100% certain. Since the climate is the average of local weather, and weather is the sum of behavior of the surging gases around us, and mankind moves through, modifies, and changes these gases, as does every other animal and plant species, it is certain humanity influences the weather, hence climate.
The only real question is: How much?
The IPCC says it’s lots. Why? Well, because of theory. Theory insists the bulk of the observed temperature changes over the past several decades were mostly caused by people. There’s one thing seriously wrong with this. The temperature lately hasn’t been changing in the direction theory said it would. Temps have stayed still or bounced around with no preferred direction.
In olden days, when a theory made consistently poor predictions, people concluded it was wrong. They tossed these theories and marked them as historical curiosities. If the predictions weren’t too awful, as the IPCC’s are, people removed the bad bits and grafted on new, good pieces. Nobody claimed the flawed theories were “95% likely to be true.”
But we’re all postmodernists now. It’s not the truth of the theory or the accuracy of predictions based on it that count. It’s what in your heart that matters. Love and caring trump reality.
If the IPCC’s theory that mankind is viciously changing climate is false, then nothing need be done. But doing nothing seems uncaring. Doing nothing means we sit idly by and just watch the weather. That hardly seems caring.
Then there’s the love. The IPCC is like Pygmalion in having fallen in love with its computer-modeled creation. The IPCC scientist cherishes his work, has told the world of his ardor. He can’t very well publicly abandon his inamorata now. That would call his judgment into question.
There’s a bigger problem. Assume for the sake of politeness the IPCC’s 95% estimate is correct. The natural response is, “So what?” So the global average temperature is going to increase by a half degree over the next 50 years, or whatever. What of it?
Climate change is of no real interest to anyone except climatologists, because nobody experiences a climate. We experience weather and the phenomena it affects, such as crop yields. What’s important is what the changing climate does to weather and what changing weather does to everything else. The IPCC’s claims about all of these things have been thoroughly refuted by the recent 1,000-plus-page peer-reviewed report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, which cites nearly 4,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles that contradict the IPCC’s claims.
Now, no matter how certain the IPCC is that the climate will change, we must necessarily be less certain that the climate will change in any particular way, and further, that various things will change in predicted ways because the climate changed. On top of that, we must be even more unsure of the claims we won’t be able to adapt to the presumed changes that will be caused by the predicted changes in the climate. That’s a lot of uncertainty. You can work all that out mathematically, but translated into plain English it means the original 95% certainty has no application at all to complicated, real-world events.
Finally, there’s something odd about the research on the things that are supposed to change because of global warming.
I have reviewed an enormous number of papers which purport to show the evils that await when global warming finally strikes. There is a curious similarity in these works. If a species is warm, cuddly, cute, delicious, or photogenic, researchers have discovered global warming will strike it down without mercy.
But if the species stings, bites, pricks, stinks, or cannot secure an advocacy group, scientists have found global warming will cause it to flourish amazingly. Sharknadoes may become common.
Nobody has yet figured out why this asymmetry exists.
Article by William M. Briggs (email@example.com), a.k.a. “The Statistician to the Stars!” has a Ph.D. in statistics and a master’s degree in atmospheric science from an Ivy League university, so you know whatever he says is true.
I was in the Miami, Florida office of a human relations organization when someone burst in to say that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. The date was November 22, 1963, 50 years ago today.
I was age 26, had graduated from the University of Miami, served in the Army until my discharge in 1962. My first job took me back to Miami, but at the time Kennedy was killed, my enthusiasm for it had departed and I took the occasion to let my boss know that I too was departing. I returned home to New Jersey where I would pursue a career in journalism for several years.
There are moments that mark one’s progress through life. For anyone alive at the time, most can tell you where they were. The Kennedy assassination didn’t just come as a shock to the nation; the world felt the loss as well. He was handsome, articulate, married to a beautiful wife, Jacqueline or Jackie as she was more often called. He had two cute children.
It was a time of considerable turmoil at home and abroad. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum. The women’s rights movement began in earnest. Indeed, the entire decade left its mark on history. Just five years later in 1968 Kennedy’s brother, Robert, was assassinated during his campaign to become President. Two months earlier, in April, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis.
No one wants to live such turmoil, but the 1960s bequeathed its values to our culture—sex, drugs and rock’n roll—and our politics. Without that decade’s civil rights movement, it is unlikely Americans would have elected a black President in 2008. Two generations have been born since the 1960s.
For those of us in our twenties fifty years ago, the optimism we felt with Kennedy in office was replaced with a growing sense of pessimism as the Vietnam War lingered through Johnson’s administration and into Nixon’s. Watergate severed most feelings of confidence in whoever was the nation’s chief executive until Ronald Reagan came on the scene. I am known these days as a conservative commentator, but back then I was a Democrat and a liberal.
Countless books have been written about Kennedy’s life and death. There have been films and television programs devoted to him. He wasn’t in office long, serving from 1961 to 1963, but his youth, his personality, his love of the arts, and other pleasing attributes made him very different from his older predecessors.
America loves youth. It indulges the young, makes “idols” of some, and devotes most of its entertainment to them. They bring energy to the passing scene, but they are unwittingly and unknowingly the passing scene. Fifty years after the assassination is already “ancient” history to new generations.
Lost in the story of that fateful day is the fact that Kennedy was assassinated by a Communist.
That was my thought as I address the fact that fifty years have passed since JFK was killed. It is my generation who lived through the event. To think that a half-century has gone by since that day takes a moment to contemplate; to ask what I have done with my life since then. It is a question others of my generation will ask as well. In the past fifty years, with the exception of the 1980s, the nation has moved inexorably to the left.
History turns on such events. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 triggered World War One. The assassination of JFK led to the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson who dragged the nation into a distant civil war in Vietnam and included a fruitless domestic “war on poverty”, a liberal program that was doomed to failure in the same way Obamacare is.
As the French say, Plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes—the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In retrospect many observers have concluded that Kennedy was in many respects a conservative. He was a religious man. He opposed Communism. He increased spending to the military. He cut taxes. One can go on, but it is obvious now that he was not the liberal many would have us believe. That is a myth.
As I think back, I realize how little I knew of the politics of the years in which I was attending university, serving in the Army, or working that first job in Miami. My political education began when I was a young journalist, but my political maturity did not begin until the 1980s when Ronald Reagan served his two terms.
It was nice being young when Kennedy was President. Being old as Barack Obama, a Marxist, uses the presidency to destroy the nation, is a nightmare.
[First published at Warning Signs.]
The Chicago Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society has a “Tavern Debate” every third Thursday of every odd-numbered month in the library of The Heartland Institute. We are honored to serve as the host for an evening of libations, sandwiches, and spirited debate in the style of 18th century patriots in pubs before the founding of this great country.
Tonight was the latest edition with the question on the table: “Resolved: Act! If not us, whom? If not now, when?”
Perhaps the wording of the question was too open-ended — as one speaker argued in the negative for the evening’s resolution — but I argued vigorously against that point, and very much in the positive on the question (which carried the vote in the end, by the way). Now is the time to act. And if not we few citizens who cherish our liberty, then whom?
Our liberties are under constant assault in ways big and small from a modern American Leviathan James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams would not recognize. They’d be horrified, as were most of the attendees at tonight’s Tavern Debate, that the federal government has usurped enough authority over the years to now consider itself the ultimate Masters of Our Universe. That our Masters are proving incompetent — especially with Obamacare — is not a bug in the plans of our supposed masters, but an inevitable feature. Tyranny, soft or hard, does not worry itself with the details. Control and forced obedience is what matters — and exactly what our Founders well understood and hoped to spare us from experiencing.
The Leviathan in the modern democratic state counts on us to simply throw up our hands and submit. Act to resist? How? We have elections and the people have spoken. Besides, who am I, as an individual, in the larger scheme of things? I can’t stop Obamacare by myself. I’ll just try to buck up and plug along. That’s the American Way!
No. I refuse to submit — especially when it comes to the Obamacare Disaster — and I pray that I won’t be alone.
My health insurance hasn’t been canceled yet, but I expect it will be next year under the current state of the law. When that happens, I will seek a doctor who will accept chickens as payment before I sign up at Heatlthcare.gov. I will seek “concierge medical service” — which will be the buzz words of 2014 — and pay what I can afford to escape the forced-choice of Obamacare before I enter all my personal information into the hacker’s paradise that is Healthcare.gov. I’ll pay what our Masters sometimes call “fines” and sometimes call “taxes” (as it suits them) in lieu of submitting my health care to their will for the “common good,” but not mine.
It is the duty of a free citizen to take all legal recourse to avoid submission to a government that passes laws to control your activity, but then decides to not follow them when it becomes inconvenient. What justice is there in a law that can be made up as it goes along by the president and his bureaucrats — with statutory deadlines arbitrarily postponed by the executive for the political expediency of his party, and waivers for unions that support him? If the chief executive can defy the law, why can’t I? Why can’t you?
Asking such questions is exactly what I did at the Tavern Debate, and what all citizens who want to restore the republic bestowed upon us must also ask themselves. What are you willing to do — in ways large and small — to preserve the rule of law, and not of men? I’m willing to go … Off. The. Grid.
Earlier today, the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate invoked the “nuclear option,” changing the rules of the “World’s Most Deliberative Body” to ensure less deliberation on the desires of the Masters, and more rules on the rest of us. But a still-free people also has a “nuclear option” available: Refuse to submit.
Baden is the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) in Bozeman, Montana; a think tank dedicated to implementing an economic way of thinking consistent with a society of free and responsible individuals. FREE deals with a variety of policy arenas, most notably environmental policy.
Baden and his wife live in Bozeman; a place they describe as truly magical. Bozeman is now the epicenter for free market environmentalism, and logically so. The town has a unique balance of the conservative Western thought and a natural landscape that requires preserving. Baden explained that the “free market environmental dream team” came together in Bozeman- consisting of Baden himself, Richard L. Stroup, Senior Associate at the Property and Environmental Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, and P.J. Hill- Senior Fellow at PERC- to lead the way in the New Resource Economics (NRE).
Baden believes that it’s part of the natural order for a people to become “green” as they become more wealthy and educated. We shouldn’t resist this fact, but embrace it. As free market advocates, it’s important to show the environmentalist folks that government is not the answer to our environmental issues.
The recent government shutdown should serve as a wake-up lesson. What was one of the first government functions to go? The national park service. In an economic crisis- which we all know is looming- or a situation of limited resources, we cannot trust the government to manage the land and care for our resources. We must do it ourselves.
But Baden isn’t in favor of a massive privatization of national parks. No, he actually thinks national parks are good- but he believes that the government managing them is bad. He proposes instituting a public trust- no tax money, funded voluntarily by citizens- to manage the national parks. He believes that we should translate entrepreneurship into the national park arena, and he has no doubts that people will step up.
“People like this kind of stuff, and they like to fund it,” he said.
Join us on Thursday, December 12 for a luncheon with Michael J. Lotus, co-author of the book America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century.[Editor's note: The public is welcome to attend Heartland's Author Series events located at One East Wacker, in Chicago's Loop. Tickets and event information can be found on our website here.]
A new study released by the Small Business Administration funded with taxpayer money examines the effects of Internet sales taxes on small businesses. The study has drawn swift criticism from groups opposing the wide scale imposition of Internet sales taxes through legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act. The paper, “An Analysis of Internet Sales Taxation and the Small Seller Exemption,” was released by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy and written by Donald Bruce and William Fox of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research, who have written articles in the past downplaying the negative effects of taxes on different aspects on the Internet like Internet access.
Filled with arguments that have made dozens of times before by supporters of Internet sales taxes, the taxpayer funded report’s sole intention is to promote to taxpayers an unnecessary tax hike. In addition to the new paper, the SBA Office of Advocacy has begun a social media campaign to promote both the paper and Internet sales taxes. The Institute for Policy Innovation even found a list of suggested Twitter tweets that the Office of Advocacy wrote for supporters to use to promote the flawed report.
The authors of the SBA study concluded that online retailers have benefited from the lack of sales taxes at the expense of brick and mortar store. The SBA report covers a tired argument that is misleading while supporting a tax policy with many serious flaws. Imposing sales taxes on internet sales would slow the growth of the e-commerce industry, one of the few sectors of growth recently.
Critics of the Marketplace Fairness Act immediately called foul on the study. Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute quickly pointed out in an article responding to the study that that it was incredibly biased and written by authors who have already written articles favoring the MFA in the past, all on the taxpayer’s dime. “In service of the PR campaign for President Obama’s and Senator Dick Durbin’s favorite Internet sales tax law, the SBA decided to fork over $80,000 of taxpayer money to…(drumroll please)…the very people who have been writing studies in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA)! What a coincidence!”
Moylan also contends that the actual information contained in the study was not of any real importance, covering no new ground. “In fact, the most important passage essentially concedes that having a higher small seller exception in the bill ‘does not add measurably to the covered share of total online retail,’ wrote Moylan. “In other words, protecting a larger number of businesses from the onerous compliance obligations of MFA wouldn’t appreciably reduce revenues.”
Jessica Melugin, an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute argues that the provenance of the study erodes its credibility. “We spent $80,000 of tax money so long-time advocates of the legislation could cite ‘anecdotal evidence,’ cherry-pick data, change numbers to aid their arguments and cite themselves throughout the paper. This does not a credible study make.” wrote Melugin in a CEI article.
Melugin also criticized the many important issues the paper overlooked, including major legal issues, consumer privacy concerns and competitive interference. “The paper dismisses the MFA’s constitutional problems, all but ignores the threat out-of-state audits would pose to small businesses and makes no mention of both the consumer privacy concerns and detriment to healthy tax competition,” wrote Melguin. “Perhaps most amusing in light of recent events, the report repeatedly implies that government-supplied software will alleviate tax compliance burdens.”
Requiring online retailers to charge a sales tax in states where they do not have a physical presence would force consumers to pay a tax to a government with whom they have no political voice and from whom they receive no government benefits or services. It is bad tax policy that undercuts tax competition and would give states even more ways to tax you.
In early October, the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) hosted a panel of Heartland Institute Scholars to discuss climate change in accordance with their book Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science (CCR-II).
The panel was made up of Dr. Keith Lockitch- Fellow at ARI, Joe Bast- President and CEO of the Heartland Institute, Dr. Robert Carter- Co-editor and author of CCR-II, and S. Fred Singer- renowned atmospheric physicist.
Heartland began to address global warming back in 1994 with little attention from the outside world. Bast says that people were panicked and motivated by fear of the alleged dangers of global warming. But as time went on, Heartland’s influence strengthened, especially with the release of the first Climate Change Reconsidered, which was the first time that global warming skeptics got together to create an authoritative critique of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The panel discusses the outcomes expressed in CCR II, which shows that climate change is not necessarily caused by humans, and subsequently that there’s no justification for governments to attempt to reduce energy consumption and emissions. In fact, Dr. Carter explains that climate has never been stable and is constantly changing. Six million years ago, the planet’s temperatures were actually hotter than they are today.
Watch the video in the player above.