We at The Heartland Institute have written extensively concerning the death toll wind farm operations inflict on birds and bats.
Anyone who travels across this country or lives near the vicinity of wind farms can describe the increasing industrial blight wind farms impose on previously unmarred vistas and formerly wild, undeveloped locales. Wind farms, sprawling across thousands of miles, have an unmatched footprint on the basis of the land required per unit of energy produced.
Wind power is expensive and unreliable.
All of these points are becoming evident, not just to we policy wonks who study the issue, but increasingly to the public at large.
Now, issues in Wisconsin highlight another possible problem caused by wind farms, perhaps the most damning of all: more and more people who reside near wind farms are claiming the turbines’ operations are making them sick. If, in fact, industrial wind turbines do cause human health problems, it could result in significant restrictions on their placement and operations — making them even less popular and unprofitable (absent large subsidies) than they already are. Lawsuits could also be in the offing.
Wisconsin’s Brown County Health Board has gone on record this week declaring the Shirley Wind Project, owned by Duke Energy, a “human health hazard.” The Board’s action puts Duke on the defensive to prove the farm is not a health risk.
It is the duty of health departments to collect information regarding human health within in their respective counties. If other county or state health departments take the Brown County Health Board’s declaration seriously, they may start investigating the issues in their areas. This could bring on onslaught of health complaints, which would become a problem for wind farm operators around the nation.
For more on the Brown County/Shirley Wind Farm situation see:
One wonders where the mainstream media coverage is on this question of human health risk. Major media players cover every oil spill, pollution from farming operations and the slightest possible health risk from chemicals, yet when the issue is a possible health risk from the environmental left’s sacred cow, wind energy, there is a deafening silence from national media outlets on the issue.
Finally, there is credible housing affordability data from China. For years, analysts have produced “back of the envelope” anecdotal calculations that have been often as inconsistent as they have been wrong. The Economist has compiled an index of housing affordability in 40 cities, which uses an “average multiple” (average house price divided by average household income) (China Index of Housing Affordability). This is in contrast to the “median multiple,” which is the median house price divided by the median household income (used in the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey and other affordability indexes). The Demographia Survey rates affordability in 9 geographies, including Hong Kong (a special administrative region of China). The average multiple for a metropolitan market is generally similar to the median multiple.
The Economist Data and Methodology
The Economist develops its ratio from central government data on house sales and incomes in individual cities. Like the Demographia Survey, The Economist provides estimates for housing affordability from the perspective of the average urban household, as opposed to the “ex-pat” or “luxury” markets that are typically reported by real estate commentators. The Economist also estimates its price to income ratio using an average house size of 100 square meters (approximately 1,075 square feet). This is larger than the average new house size in the United Kingdom, but smaller than those in the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
With an overall average multiple of 8.8, China’s housing is less affordable (Figure 1) than all of the nine geographies rated in the Demographia Survey, except for Hong Kong (14.9). Even so, China’s housing affordability has improved from a national average multiple of 11.7 in April of 2010.
Affordability by City
It appears that if The Economist had included Hong Kong in its China ranking, it would have been ranked the most unaffordable in the country. Hong Kong houses are much smaller than the Chinese average, at 45 square meters (480 square feet). This would have given Hong Kong, with an unadjusted multiple of 14.9, a house size adjusted multiple of more than 30.
For years, there have been press reports of astronomic price to income multiples in China. The Economist data indicates that in some cities (Shenzhen, Beijing, Hanghzou and Wenzhou) this has indeed been true. But incomes have risen faster than house prices in recent years, and average multiples above 20 are, for now, a thing of the past.
Shenzhen, the “instant” megacity next to Hong Kong, is ranked as the least affordable with an average multiple of 19.6. The Economist indicates that this may be the result of demand from Hong Kong residents. Shenzhen had reached an average multiple of nearly 25 in 2010. An even higher average multiple was recorded in Beijing, which reached 27 in 2010. Beijing house prices have fallen substantially, however, dropping to 16.6 in 2014, the second most unaffordable in China.
China’s other megacities (over 10 million population) have lower average multiples than Shenzhen and Beijing. Shanghai has an average multiple of 12.8 and Guangzhou has an average multiple of 11.4. Tianjin, approximately 100 miles (140 kilometers) from Beijing and China’s newest megacity has an average multiple of 11.2.
China’s most affordable city is Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia (Nei Mongol), with an average multiple of 4.9. Generally, interior cities had better housing affordability than those along the east coast. For example, Changsha (capital of Hunan) has an average multiple of 5.9, Kunming 6.6, while the two leading cities of China’s Red Basin, Chongqing and Chengdu, were somewhat higher (7.1 and 7.4).
Comparison to Other Demographia Cities
Yet the multiples for many Chinese cities are no worse than highly unaffordable cities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Outside Hong Kong, the other most expensive cities in the Demographia Survey would rank in the second 10 of Chinese cities. Vancouver, with a median multiple of 10.3, is more expensive than all but 12 of the 40 cities rated in China. San Francisco, with a median multiple of 9.3, would rank 15th. Sydney, with a median multiple of 9.0, would rank in a 16th tie with Dalian. San Jose, at 8.7, would rank in a 19th place tie for unaffordability with Wuhan and Ningbo.
A sampling of cities from China and the Demographia Survey is illustrated in Figure 2.
Toward an Affordable China
One of rapidly urbanizing China’s biggest challenges is to improve housing affordability. This is an imperative, with easing of the hukou internal resident permit system and the one-child policy. United Nations projections indicate that China’s urban areas will add another third to their population in the next 25 years, an increase of more than 250 million. China is better housed today than perhaps at any time in its history. But it needs to be still better housed, as internal migrants become permanent urban residents and as rural citizens move to the cities for better lives.
Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the “Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey” and author of “Demographia World Urban Areas” and “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.” He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.
[Originally published at New Geography]
Hot on the heels of the announcement of a new streaming service from cable channel HBO (reported here last week), broadcast TV giant CBS has begun a standalone streaming service to deliver CBS programming.
The service does not distribute CBS’s broadcast feed through the service, instead offering shows from the network’s extensive programming library, including full seasons of current daytime and primetime programs. Current primetime shows will not be made available until the day after they air on the broadcast network. The network’s sports programming remains tied to broadcast and cable/satellite delivery as well.
Those concessions will allow the network’s local broadcast affiliates and cable and satellite providers to breathe easier for a while, but probably not for long.
CBS All Access costs subscribers $5.99 per month, and some programming includes commercials. It launched last Thursday, so those interested in giving it a try can do so right away.
Whether there will be a big market for the service remains to be seen, of course, as the amount of programming choices continues its rapid increase on both cable/satellite television and via the internet. CBS, however, has been the top-rated TV network for most years of the past couple of decades, and its library includes past fan favorites such as Star Trek, Twin Peaks, and Cheers. Cord-cutters who have already watched nearly all the Netflix-available programs and movies they’re interested in might consider switching.
In addition, given CBS’s deep pockets, it might not be long before CBS All Access starts premiering programs of its own, as Netflix and Amazon.com have done with much success.
The one certainty is that the market for TV programming is fracturing rapidly, which will ultimately force down the prices to consumers while increasing choice. From a consumer perspective, that is an ideal outcome.
[First published at The American Culture]
Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney and digital surveillance expert Jennifer Lynch joins he Heartland Institute’s Budget and Tax News managing editor, Jesse Hathaway, to discuss the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) new massive electronic surveillance and investigation database, the Next Generation Identification system (NGI).
Lynch explains how the NGI may infringe upon American citizens’ right to peaceably assemble in political protests, as well as how other surveillance and database technologies employed by the government threaten our privacy.
One man has died of Ebola in the U.S. and he came here from Liberia. Two of the nurses that tended him are in intensive care and likely to survive. A third was thought to be infected, but wasn’t. That news has been sufficient to keep most Americans calm as the media has done its best to exploit Ebola-related news.
The public absorbed the facts and came to their own conclusion.
An October 8 Pew Research survey found that “Most are confident in Government’s ability to prevent major Ebola outbreak in U.S.” That reflects the way we have all been conditioned to look to the federal government to solve our problems, but the public mood had not changed by October 20 when a Rasmussen Reports analysis of a survey concluded that “Americans are keeping their cool about Ebola, but some acknowledge that they have changed travel plans because of the outbreak of the deadly virus in the United States.”
Wrong. There has been no “outbreak.” One dead Liberian and two nurses is not an outbreak.
Fully 66% of the Rasmussen respondents said that Ebola is a serious public health problem, including 29% who deemed it very serious, but few believe it is an active public health threat here in the U.S.
All this was occurring as spokesmen for the Centers of Disease Control tried to both warn and reassure Americans, managing only to evoke a measure of derision. President Obama also sought to reassure Americans, but fewer and fewer believe anything he has to say these days.
Then he appointed an “Ebola czar” who had no medical or healthcare background whatever to qualify for the job. Add in Obama’s failure to institute a travel ban and the likelihood is that Democratic candidates will pay a price for this on Nov 4.
I suspect the President’s advisors are telling him the Ebola problem has been a blessing because the media will not be reporting any of the stories that could harm Democratic candidates. Starting with the fact that the nation’s voters are evenly divided between a liberal or conservative point of view that means that independent voters will be the deciding factor and they are independent because they pay more attention to events and the news.
One of the stories that are being held back from the news is the outcome of the U.S. Army investigation of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was traded by Obama for five top Taliban leaders to secure his release. Members of his unit unanimously say he deserted them and, if that is the Army’s conclusion, it makes the swap look dubious, if not treasonable.
The news after the midterm elections will be filled with reports of employers cutting healthcare insurance to both full and part-time employees. Wal-Mart has already announced this for its part-timers. There is already news of the fact the ObamaCare, the Affordable Patient Care Act, is proving to be very expensive for those who signed up. This includes news about its higher deductibles and premiums.
Robert E. Moffit, a senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, recently reported that “Thanks to ObamaCare, Health Costs Soared this Year”, noting that “On November 15, open enrollment in the ObamaCare exchanges begins again.” Among the lessons learned from Year One of ObamaCare is that “Health costs jumped—big time.” Compared with employer-based coverage, the average deductible of a little over $1,000, doubled to more than $2,000.
Obama promised that the typical family premium cost would be lowered by $2,500, but it has actually increased and ObamaCare actually reduced competition in most health-insurance markets. We do not know how many Americans are actually insured. Despite predictions of millions who would be insured, the administration “now concedes that there are 700,000 fewer persons in the exchanges.”
The claim was that ObamaCare would reduce U.S. health spending, but a recent Health and Human Services report—delayed as long as possible—found that its Accountable Care Organization element has increased costs. States are dropping out of ObamaCare exchanges as a result.
The Obama administration has been very quiet about his intension to by-pass Congress to impose an amnesty program for the eleven million or more illegal aliens in the US. Most polls demonstrate widespread opposition to amnesty. Obama is expected to try to institute one anyway.
Lastly, unless the Islamic State shows up at the gates of Baghdad and takes control, there is likely to be little news from an Iraq that exists now in name only.
The results of Obama’s six years in office have been a disaster in many ways and the outcome of the midterm elections will have a dramatic effect on Obama’s ability to continue his destruction of the U.S. economy and other policies.
Essentially, a majority of Americans, including many of his former supporters, have concluded that there is no Ebola crisis and that Obama’s time in office has been the very opposite of what he promised. The change they want is to see an end to Obama’s term in office. A start in that direction is the November 4 midterm elections.
Changing our country and its laws back to a manageable and sane state is more complicated than the average small-government advocate may think. One cannot simply look at the situation in black and white, right and wrong mindset. A longer term strategy must be established.
This article is the result of a conversation I was engaged in earlier this week. I was speaking with a like-minded individual about the minimum wage. While we are both principally against the idea of a minimum wage, I was playing the “devil’s advocate” role. My stance was that there are so many laws and regulations on the books that distort and harm the economy, a minimum wage is necessary to prevent even lower wages.
Before I go any further, I want to state that I understand the consequences of a minimum wage and the effects it has on those that are unable to find a job.
The minimum wage is a solution the government created to deal with the side effects of failed economic policies. Like in many cases, the government chooses to treat the symptoms while leaving the underlying conditions unaltered. When capitalism is transformed by government into a crony-capitalism hybrid, the natural laws of supply and demand are not allowed to operate correctly. What we are left with is a flawed system with underutilized resources, including labor.
This is what brings me to my main point. Untangling the mess that we are in will take careful and thought-out steps. Our situation is like a stereotypical tangled ball of Christmas lights. You can’t just start pulling at strings; you have to pull the right strings first. The laws that we speak out against routinely do not exist in a vacuum; they have effects and consequences in other areas.
Here’s an example. Most, if not all, small-government advocates prefer smaller taxes. However, if a law passed eliminating all taxes only for the top 1%, most, if not all, would be against that change. Even though this appeals to the principle of lower taxes, most would concede that a more balanced approach is necessary.
While I do not advocate a raise in the minimum wage, I do believe other actions need to take place first prior to the potential elimination of said wage. Actions that level the playing field between small and big business, actions that create a friendlier environment to hire more people, etc., need to occur first. One major step in the right direction would be the simplification of the tax code. Closing loopholes exploited by big business and reducing regulations that hurt small business would create a more uniform market. Eliminating or reducing payroll taxes would also benefit employees by decreasing the cost of a new hire. These steps are just a few moves that could occur quickly with little or no unintended consequences.
If the economy were allowed to function in true free-market fashion, resources would be used as efficiently as possible. Eventually, full employment would be attained and a natural rise in wages would follow.
The laws that distort the free market and society have been built up since the founding of our nation. Unwinding the mess cannot be done haphazardly. Pulling the wrong string first may cause a knot that can’t be untied, causing the whole mess to crumble down on the average citizen’s back. Moving toward a society with a far more limited government requires careful planning and strategy.
The joke is that Jimmy Carter is happy that Barack Obama has replaced him as the worst President of the modern era. It is a supreme irony that Obama’s campaign theme was “Hope and Change” when Americans have lost a great deal of hope about their personal futures and the only change they want is to see Obama gone from office.
Elected by a narrow margin in 1976, Carter managed in his one term to see his approval ratings fall to twenty-five percent by June 1979. The lesson Americans have to learn over and over again is that liberal policies and programs don’t work.
In six years, the kind of dependence on the government to take care of people from cradle to grave has left the nation with 92 million unemployed or who have stopped looking for a job, entitled 45 million to food stamps, and there is still talk of a “minimum wage” in the interest of “fairness” that simply kills jobs, especially those that used to be filled by young people just entering the workplace. The worst part of Obama’s presidency is the lies he tells in the belief, apparently, that most Americans are so stupid they won’t see through them.
On July 15, 1979, in an effort to encourage a greater sense of confidence, Jimmy Carter delivered a speech that became known as the “malaise” speech, but which did not include that word. What it did, however, is double down on all the bad policies Carter had pursued and blamed Americans for not accepting them. By then the economy was in decline, gasoline prices and interest rates had climbed to record levels, and the voters were understandably pessimistic. Iranians had taken U.S. diplomats hostage and they would not be released until Ronald Reagan took the oath of office.
Carter’s speech began by asking “Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?” Quite literally there was no need then or now for an energy problem because, as recently noted by the Energy Information Administration, the United States has enough coal to last more than 200 years! With the development of hydraulic fracturing, fracking, we now have access to more oil than exists in Saudi Arabia.
Obama literally came into office saying he intended to wage a war on coal and he has; using the Environmental Protection Agency to institute regulations that have led to the closing a mines and the shutdown of coal-fired plants that used to produce 50% of the nation’s electricity; now down to 40%. He resisted allowing the drilling for oil in the huge reserves on our east and west coasts. He has refused to permit the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. These policies have led to the loss of thousands of jobs during the time that followed the 2008 financial crisis.
In his speech, Carter said, “The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.” We would do well to remember that we have been through periods like this before and corrected course.
In 1980 Ronald Reagan would be elected to replace Carter and America prospered through his two terms, returning to being a major superpower, economically and militarily. That’s what conservatism produces.
Carter, however, blamed Americans for the problems of his times. “Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.”
One of Obama’s earliest acts was to visit foreign nations and blame America for many of the world’s problems. Militarily he pulled our troops out of Iraq and he intends to do the same in Afghanistan. He has cut the military budget to the bone and has now defined its mission as one to address “climate change”, not the enemies of our nation.
Obama spent his entire first term blaming George W. Bush for every problem that he did nothing to correct. Indeed, Obama has never seen himself as the real problem, finding anyone else to blame.
Those Americans watching Carter deliver his speech must surely have cringed as he announced that he intended to set import quotas on foreign energy resources. He said he wanted Congress to impose a “windfall profits” tax on the very energy firms that he wanted to get us out of the doldrums and dependency that was causing the problem. He wanted the utility companies to “cut their massive use of oil by fifty percent within a decade.” He wanted them to switch to coal and now we live in a nation whose President doesn’t want our utilities to use coal. Why? Despite massive evidence to the contrary, he has advocated “renewable” energy, wind and solar, neither of which can ever meet the nation’s needs.
“In closing, let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard,” said Carter.
In the 1980 election the voter’s voice was heard. Carter was gone and Reagan was our President. With him came his infectious patriotism and optimism. By late 1983 his economic program had ended the recession he inherited from Carter. A similar program would have put an end to what is now routinely called Obama’s Great Recession.
We are at a point not dissimilar from the days of Jimmy Carter and with an even greater sense of dissatisfaction and distrust of Barack Obama.
I reach back in our recent history to remind you that on November 4thin our midterm elections and in the 2016 presidential election we can repeat history by ridding the nation of those members of Congress that voted for ObamaCare and have supported President Obama. We must wait to see who the GOP will offer as a presidential candidate, but we have time for that.
We have time to “hope” for a better future and we have the means to make the “change” to achieve it.
© Alan Caruba, 2014
[Originally published at Warning Signs]
Perhaps it’s not surprising coming from our first Community Organizer president that the trait the administration claims is most needed in an “Ebola czar” — not that it’s been shown that such a position needs to be created in the first place — is, as Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health put it, “somebody who’s a good organizer.”
It’s been proven that rabble-rousing on the South Side of Chicago does not qualify one to lead anything more significant than a golf foursome (though you have to give Obama credit for spending his time doing what he’s best at, showing a clear understanding of the principle of comparative advantage).
Similarly, one wonders just what the newly named czar, Ron Klain, has “organized” that should give the American people confidence that the most incompetent administration in modern U.S. history is doing what needs to be done to keep citizens safe from a virus that the media is turning into the biggest medical scare since the Spanish Flu.
To wit, Ron Klain — no doubt a very smart man and talented lawyer, including having graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and clerking for a Supreme Court justice — is best known for organizing and advising Democratic politicians from Ed Markey to Bill Clinton to Al Gore to Gen. Wesley Clark to John Kerry, and most recently serving as Chief of Staff to Vice President Joe Biden (proving that intelligence cannot be gained by proximity) before taking a job in the private sector.
Other notes of interest about Mr. Klain include his membership in the Algore Cult of Global Warming and that he was a lobbyist for Fannie Mae, helping a firm that required tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts with “regulatory issues,” according to the Washington Post. He has publicly supported the ill-conceived “Buffett Rule” — calling for higher taxes on the wealthy — although within an analysis that at least recognizes that the “middle class” is as skeptical of Democrats as it is of Republicans.
Clearly the man is indeed a qualified organizer — of the office workings and spin machines of liberals.
But unless you count a couple of health advice-related portfolio companies of Case Holdings, where he serves as president, Mr. Klain’s medical experience seems limited to visits to his own GP. A quick note to Mr. Case: Klain sure couldn’t sniff out the impending disaster of Solyndra despite being warned of it, so you might want to keep an eye on him if he’s involved with keeping your money safe.
Most of all, the selection of Ron Klain underscores the blindness of President Obama to what the American public really thinks of his Keystone Cops approximation of an executive branch.
Petty (and not so petty) dictators throughout history have valued loyalty over competence or honesty. That characteristic, perhaps more than any other, defines the composition of the Obama cabinet and their underlings such as Lois Lerner and Susan Rice — to whom, strangely, we are told that Ron Klain will report. I expect Mr. Klain to be far more competent than either Lerner or Rice (or Eric Holder or Janet Napolitano or Kathleen Sebelius, just to name a few), but every bit as loyal — which is really the point.
But what purpose does even the existence of this position serve?
Are there not literally dozens of people within the Departments of Health and Human Services or Homeland Security or even Defense or State, within the Centers for Disease Control or the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or within management of major teaching hospitals, who could combine managerial skill with medical or epidemiological experience in a way that would be both useful and credible?
(My two cents: I recommend Dr. Alex Rowe of the CDC who has led important work in “improving health care provider performance in low- and middle-income countries” in Africa. Alex (whom I’ve known since high school) is just one example of a person whose experience seems vastly more relevant than Mr. Klain’s medically empty résumé, though I’m far from certain that his wife would appreciate my suggesting him for the job.)
And should not an “Ebola czar” be reporting to the HHS Secretary (and perhaps secondarily to the Secretary of Homeland Security) rather than to counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco and national security adviser Susan Rice, a political hack whose only redeeming quality is that she’s willing to lie to the public (not just about Benghazi) and take the political heat for the boss? If anything, this chain of command is a recipe for complete dysfunction in the American response to Ebola, not just because the public doesn’t trust Susan Rice but also because the actual work needs to be done well outside of her and Ms. Monaco’s nominal areas of expertise and control.
The obvious conclusion is that the purpose of the naming of Ron Klain to the post of Ebola czar is political: to demonstrate that the administration is doing something about an issue over which the media is shamefully whipping the public into a frenzy. It is the health care equivalent — not least in the modest immediate risk to the homeland being amplified by horrific images from far-away places — of Obama’s air campaign against ISIS. (Or, if you work for the administration where the word “Syria” appears to be verboten, ISIL.)
And just as the air campaign is not a serious military strategy, the Ebola czar-naming is not a serious medical strategy. Even more ridiculous, it’s already failing as a political CYA.
Ron Klain did not attend a high-level meeting last Friday to discuss the federal response to Ebola. He also missed a Saturday evening meeting on the same subject. But with President Obama having spent Saturday afternoon golfing (you must see that link), Mr. Klain can be forgiven for believing that all this “Cancel my fundraisers!” and “It’s our top priority!” rhetoric is just for the masses.
So let’s see if we can summarize this: Motivated by a fear of even greater public perception of presidential incompetence and aloofness as we head into an election that should result in the trouncing of congressional Democrats, the president has appointed a politically loyal “organizer” with no medical experience whatsoever to a medically focused position that should not exist.
This in order to make the public feel better about a virus that, although often fatal when contracted, would be unlikely to pose a substantial threat to the U.S. if the government would take the obvious step of stopping residents of a few West African countries from entering the United States (apparently there’s no “red line” there either) until the breakout can be controlled where it currently exists rather than trying to hire airport Ebola screeners for$19/hour.
For any other administration, this confused mess would be considered a blunder. For President Obama, it’s quite literally par for the course.
[Originally published at The American Spectator]
Recently, I joined Columbus radio talker Chuck Douglas — host of Saturday-morning talk show On Point with Chuck Douglas — to discuss how the National Football League (NFL) receives special tax carve-outs and exemptions, as well as millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for stadium construction and maintenance.
Despite volumes of academic evidence to the contrary, supporters of sports subsidies often claim that the National Football League requires taxpayer support to remain solvent, and that public financing of privately-owned stadiums will lead to increased economic revenue. Neither claim, unfortunately, is supported by the evidence.
In fact, the academic evidence shows that subsidization actually “reduces the level of real per capita income in metropolitan areas,” by causing public money that would otherwise be spent on core government functions, to be diverted to socializing team owners’ risks, while they’re allowed to pocket the rewards.
Take a listen!
In Scott Cleland’s recent piece titled, “Silicon Valley’s Biggest Internet Mistake,” he makes an important, too little addressed point: Were the FCC to classify Internet service as a “telecommunications” service under Title II of the Communications Act, this drastic step likely would have significant adverse international ramifications.
In a September 29 paper titled, “Thinking the Unthinkable: Imposing a ‘Utility Model’ on Internet Providers,” I explained, from a purely domestic policy perspective, why FCC imposition of the Title II common carrier utility model on broadband Internet providers should be “unthinkable.” The adverse international consequences provide another reason.
As Scott explains in his commentary:
Legally, “telecommunications” is what international treaties and agreements regulate like a utility, under the Constitution of the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Specifically, ITU agreement: ITU-T D.50, recognizes the sovereign right of each State to regulate “telecommunications” as that State determines. Apparently, Silicon Valley interests are blind to the many risks of “telecommunications” regulation to their foreign businesses….[T]he FCC reclassifying the American Internet as “telecommunications” predictably would invite most every other country to reclassify their Internet traffic as “telecommunications” too, so that they could impose lucrative price tariffs on Silicon Valley’s dominant share of Internet traffic into their countries.
This is not an unjustified concern. Indeed, there is rising apprehension in many quarters about the designs of many foreign countries harbor to exert more government control over Internet traffic within their own countries and, indeed, throughout the world through international organizations. Especially at a time when the U.S. has embarked on a process that is intended to lead to a new governance structure for ICANN, the FCC – and the entire U.S. government – ought to be concerned about actions here at home that are likely to be construed by foreign governments as authorizing more government interference in Internet operations.
In fact, this very concern regarding the international ramifications resulting from FCC adoption of net neutrality regulations was expressed by Ambassador Philip Verveer in May 2010 in his capacity as the State Department’s Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy. Of course, Philip Verveer now serves as Senior Counselor to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Answering a question at a Media Institute luncheon as the FCC was considering the then-pending net neutrality rulemaking, according to the report in Broadcasting & Cable, Ambassador Verveer said this:
“I can tell you from my travels around the world and my discussions with figures in various governments around the world there is a very significant preoccupation with respect to what we are proposing with respect to broadband and especially with respect to the net neutrality.”
Most significantly, Ambassador Verveer went on to say that the net neutrality proceeding “is one that could be employed by regimes that don’t agree with our perspectives about essentially avoiding regulation of the Internet and trying to be sure not to do anything to damage its dynamism and its organic development. It could be employed as a pretext or as an excuse for undertaking public policy activities that we would disagree with pretty profoundly.”
Of course, many others were saying much the same at the time, but Ambassador Verveer was subjected to a harsh attack by Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld for deviating from what Mr. Feld considered to be the established Democratic party line. He wondered how someone as experienced as Mr. Verveer “manage[d] to get so off message at precisely the wrong time.”
I happen to think that Mr. Verveer’s job was not primarily to stay “on message,” but rather to serve the American people by explaining the risks of adopting an ill-advised policy. I have known Phil Verveer since we served together at the FCC in the late 70s and early 80s, and I have a high regard for his qualifications and his dedication to public service. At the time of Mr. Feld’s attack, I defended him. And shortly thereafter, in the context of responding to another of Mr. Feld’s blogs, this time urging FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to act quickly to adopt net neutrality regulations “to fire up the base before the election,” I called Mr. Verveer a “stellar public servant.”
Nothing has changed my view that Phil Verveer is a stellar public servant. But I do wish he would avail himself of the opportunity once again to explain that the concerns he expressed in 2010, when he was responsible for coordinating international communications policy on behalf of the U.S., are still valid today. Regardless of whatever good intentions may be expressed, if the U.S. government adopts new net neutrality mandates, especially in conjunction with classifying Internet providers as “telecommunications” carriers, other countries may well use such action as an excuse or pretext for, in Ambassador Verveer’s words, “undertaking public policy activities that we would disagree with pretty profoundly.”
In other words, despite any protestations to the contrary uttered by U.S. officials, the FCC’s actions regulating Internet providers will speak louder than its words. Other countries, with obvious designs on exerting more control over Internet communications, and over international entities that play a role in managing Internet communications, will seize upon the FCC’s action as a justification.
Scott Cleland is right that this would not be good for Silicon Valley.
I would go further: When then-FCC Chairman Bill Kennard in 1999 rejected dumping what he called the telephone world’s “whole morass of regulation” on the then-emerging cable broadband systems, he concluded, “That is not good for America.”
Dumping the telephone world’s “whole morass of regulation” on broadband Internet providers still would not be good for America today. Indeed, it ought to be unthinkable.
[Originally published at The Free State Foundation]
What she believes is that conducting standardized testing three times a year, some of it required to be computerized, is simply not in the best interests of the kindergarten students she teaches.
Despite the risk of losing her job after 26 years of teaching, Bowles felt compelled to speak out.
And something amazing happened. Instead of her being fired or reprimanded, the policy was changed. The community rallied around Bowles after she took a stand. Now, K–2 grade students will not be required to take the FAIR tests that Bowles refused to administer.
In the letter Bowles wrote to parents, she explained that even though she would be in breach of contract, she couldn’t in good conscience give the test to her students. The FAIR testing would have meant kindergarten students being tested on a computer using a mouse, Bowles said.
Although many of her students are well-versed in using tablets or smart phones, most had not used a desktop computer before. Once an answer is clicked, even if a mistake was made and a student accidentally clicked the wrong place, there is no way to go back to correct it. This means the data that would have been collected would not have been accurate.
“While we were told it takes about 35 minutes to administer, we are finding that in actuality it is taking between 35-60 minutes per child,” Bowles wrote. “This assessment is given one-on-one. It is recommended that both teacher and child wear headphones during the test. Someone has forgotten there are other five-year-olds in our care.”
The problem is not with the people she works for, Bowles said. “This is not an education problem. This is a government problem,” she wrote.
Bowles was not directly named in the letter to parents from officials changing the testing policy, but the letter does mention the recent attention surrounding the issue.
Bowles was brave in facing down the school administration, state and local officials, and teachers unions who continually protect the status quo and each other. She stood up by herself with no way of knowing what the consequences would be.
Bowles told me she feels lucky to have had the opportunity to speak her mind, because her husband was supportive and her children are grown. After hearing the policy had changed, Bowles said, she “hugged, laughed, cried, and did a happy dance” with other teachers who had been waiting outside her classroom because they had already heard the news.
“I was surprised and pleased that they actually backtracked on the FAIR, suspending it for one year,” said Bowles, noting tension over standardized testing has increased because of Common Core. “Of course, the fear is it will be back next year with a few tweaks.
“This fight should continue — not just regarding the excessive testing that takes away from our children’s learning, but also for the standards that have been adopted that are not developmentally sound, at least for elementary students,” said Bowles. “I can speak for the elementary grades that any developmental psychologist or early childhood educator would tell you that these standards are inappropriate.”
Two bills have been introduced recently to decrease the federal footprint on standardized testing. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has spoken about the possibility of over-testing.
The hope is that these changes aren’t just lip service. Parents, teachers, and legislators will have to continue to fight for students and against the education establishment. The contrasting approaches of the federal government and Susan Bowles regarding how children should be educated suggest we all should support more local control rather than failing federal mandates.
Heather Kays (email@example.com) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of School Reform News.
[Originally published at The Tampa Tribune]
Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a frequent presenter at Heartland’s climate conferences, is an invaluable and prominent voice among scientists who are righly skeptical about the hypothesis of man-caused climate change. In a post today, Dr. Spencer throws a lot of cold water on the idea that 2014 is shaping up to be the “warmist year on record.”
Much is being made of the “global” surface thermometer data, which three-quarters the way through 2014 is now suggesting the global average this year will be the warmest in the modern instrumental record. I claim 2014 won’t be the warmest global-average year on record … if for no other reason than this: thermometers cannot measure global averages — only satellites can. The satellite instruments measure nearly every cubic kilometer – hell, every cubic inch — of the lower atmosphere on a daily basis. You can travel hundreds if not thousands of kilometers without finding a thermometer nearby.
(And even if 2014 or 2015 turns out to be the warmest, this is not a cause for concern…more about that later).
The two main research groups tracking global lower-tropospheric temperatures (our UAH group, and the Remote Sensing Systems [RSS] group) show 2014 lagging significantly behind 2010 and especially 1998:
With only 3 months left in the year, there is no realistic way for 2014 to set a record in the satellite data.
Granted, the satellites are less good at sampling right near the poles, but compared to the very sparse data from the thermometer network we are in fat city coverage-wise with the satellite data.
In my opinion, though, a bigger problem than the spotty sampling of the thermometer data is the endless adjustment game applied to the thermometer data. The thermometer network is made up of a patchwork of non-research quality instruments that were never made to monitor long-term temperature changes to tenths or hundredths of a degree, and the huge data voids around the world are either ignored or in-filled with fictitious data.
Furthermore, land-based thermometers are placed where people live, and people build stuff, often replacing cooling vegetation with manmade structures that cause an artificial warming (urban heat island, UHI) effect right around the thermometer. The data adjustment processes in place cannot reliably remove the UHI effect because it can’t be distinguished from real global warming.
Satellite microwave radiometers, however, are equipped with laboratory-calibrated platinum resistance thermometers, which have demonstrated stability to thousandths of a degree over many years, and which are used to continuously calibrate the satellite instruments once every 8 seconds. The satellite measurements still have residual calibration effects that must be adjusted for, but these are usually on the order of hundredths of a degree, rather than tenths or whole degrees in the case of ground-based thermometers.
And, it is of continuing amusement to us that the global warming skeptic community now tracks the RSS satellite product rather than our UAH dataset. RSS was originally supposed to provide a quality check on our product (a worthy and necessary goal) and was heralded by the global warming alarmist community. But since RSS shows a slight cooling trend since the 1998 super El Nino, and the UAH dataset doesn’t, it is more referenced by the skeptic community now. Too funny.
You’re going to want to read the whole thing.
As a result, smokers who are trying to quit are forced to take their e-cigarettes outside together with the smokers. Now the council may go further and ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
Councilman Costa Constantinides’ bill, introduced this month, would be a blow to smokers who want a less harmful alternative that actually tastes good.
Flavors are critically important because they make e-cigarettes attractive to smokers who are trying to quit. Smokers who’ve switched from smoking to vaping regularly report that they enjoy the various flavors of e-cigarettes, often more than the flavor of burning tobacco.
In fact, in a survey published last November in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, participants reported that e-cig flavors, including fruit flavors, were “very important” to them in their effort to quit or reduce smoking.
No, the ban wouldn’t immediately send folks back to smoking. They’d just buy their e-cigs online and outside of the city. So the initial impact would be to hurt legitimate businesses that are trying to offer their customers an appealing and less harmful alternative to cigarettes.
The real harm of the bill comes later, when other legislatures follow our example. I’ve testified against bans on public vaping at City Council meetings around the country.
Almost every time, the supporters cite the impressive fact that New York City passed a similar law. In fact, it’s probably their best argument. The same would happen if Constantinides’ poorly considered bill becomes law.
As is often the case, those calling for a ban to restrict the choices of adults tell us that their goal is to protect children.
“These flavors are direct marketing to children,” Constantinides said when introducing the bill. “They appeal to children, and we’re taking them out of that market.”
That’s absurd. Legislatures around the country, including the City Council, have already banned the sales of all e-cigs to minors. The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rule does the same.
The council and the Health Department should get back to basics and make sure stores don’t sell e-cigarettes, flavored or not, to kids.
Perhaps while they are at it, they might be able to stop the greater threat, sales of actual cigarettes to kids. It’s all too common here, for all the Health Department’s aggression in other areas.
Flavor-ban proponents also argue that until all the science is in, it’s better to be safe than sorry. But that “precautionary principle” approach doesn’t apply so simply here.
The World Health Organization, the FDA and scientists at leading anti-smoking groups such as the Legacy Foundation have all recognized that while e-cigarettes have risks, they also have potential to help people reduce their harm dramatically by switching from smoking.
Specifically, the Legacy Foundation’s David Abrams lauds e-cigarettes as a “disruptive technology,” telling the Washingtonian, “I think we’re missing the biggest public-health opportunity in a century if we get [the regulations] wrong.”
He adds, “We’ve got to thread this needle just right. We’ve got to both protect kids and non-users and use it as a way to make obsolete the much more lethal cigarette.”
The FDA has proposed rules to govern e-cigarettes, but hasn’t opted to ban flavors. Instead, the agency is looking into not only the science of e-cigs, but how products such as flavored cigarettes are being used.
It won’t have to look far: Vapers report that the appeal of flavors have made the much more lethal cigarette obsolete, at least to them.
Councilman Constantinides’ proposed ban would not only “thread this needle” the wrong way, it would stick smokers not in the finger, but in the lungs, by suggesting flavored cigarettes present a risk in the same category as smoking.
[Originally published at Pundicity]
Did I know the owner of the Costa Rican company? No. Did I know anyone in Costa Rica? No. Did I have any particular affinity for that nation? No. To quote Joe Walsh (the James Gang, solo and Eagles musician, not the former Congressman):
Ain’t never been there – they tell me it’s nice.
The Costa Rican company got my money because the World Wide Web allowed me to shop large swaths of the planet for the business I liked best. Free trade is a fabulous thing. The Internet is a fabulous thing. The latter makes the former even easier – which is a fabulous thing.
Unless you have an old school brick-and-mortar business model – and insist on not changing as the world does. For most stubborn businesses – that spells doom. If you’re an industry titan and can afford to pony up to politicians – you look to get the government to protect you from Reality. It’s called Crony Socialism (it’s not Crony Capitalism – because it has nothing to do with capitalism).
And with this particular federal government – with a $4 trillion-a-year budget, countless huge regulatory hammers poised over every nook and cranny of the economy and politicians looking to deal – very bad things can happen.
It’s usually Democrats – the Huge Government Party – who use the Leviathan as a government-money-and-regulation fundraising weapon. For instance – remember the “green” “energy” (which isn’t green and provides nearly no energy) portion of the abysmally failed 2009 “Stimulus?” 80% of DOE Green Energy Loans Went to Barack Obama Donors. It did nothing for energy or the economy. But it did a lot for Obama Backers. Sadly, Republicans – allegedly Less Government’s representatives – are not immune to the pernicious infection that is Crony Socialism.
Meet casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Who has generated a personal net worth of $37 billion in large part with his brick-and-mortar gambling houses. Who sees U.S. online gambling as a threat to his empire – but doesn’t seem to see that the Internet extends WAY beyond our borders.
Who has been a huge Republican donor – he gave $49.8 million to center-right Super PACs just in 2012. And who is now looking for Crony Socialist legislative payback – someone to save him and his older-school businesses from the Reality that is the WORLD WIDE Web. Sadly, some Elephants are willing to oblige. The bill to ban most online gambling for money was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) earlier this year.
How exactly will said bill ban online gambling? By reworking a half-century-plus old law – to apply it to the 21st Century Internet economy. Behold the 1961 Federal Wire Act. Here’s Senator Graham on video: Uhhh, yeah. We’re going back to the wiring act. The Wire Act prevented transfer of money for online gambling.”
Stop right there. How did a 1961 law prevent online…anything? There was no online. The Senator continues: “Even if you wanted to do online gambling you would have to have regulations, right?” Stop right there. The Senator’s bill doesn’t regulate online gambling – it bans it. And my personal online Costa Rican experience was just outstanding – without regulations. It was most likely much more outstanding precisely because there were no regulations.
Senator Graham seems a bit confused. What could be contributing to his un-clarity? After Casino Mogul Throws Him Big Money Fundraiser, Graham Seeks Internet Gambling Ban. Big-time contributions. The solution to Crony Socialism is Less Government. If the Leviathan wasn’t quite so enormous, the cronyism from which we constantly suffer wouldn’t be quite so prevalent.
The less power and money government has to throw around – the less money will be campaign-contributed to swing government the contributors’ way.
It’s sad – and angering-ly pathetic – when allegedly Less Government Republicans look to expand the Leviathan further still to get some of that Crony Socialism money for themselves.[Originally posted on Red State]
America is getting older, as medical science prolongs life expectancy and the fertility rate hovers at or even below the replacement rate. One metric for gauging the nation’s aging is the median age – the age at which one half the population is younger and the other half is older. In 2000, the median age in the United States was 35.3. By 2013, the median age had increased to 37.5.
But the nation’s aging is by no means uniform. Each of the nation’s 52 major metropolitan areas (over 1 million population), got older between 2000 and 2013. However, the difference was substantial, from a relatively small 0.4 years to a more than 10 times larger 4.6 years.
Metropolitan Areas Aging the Least
Nine of the 10 metropolitan areas that have aged the least attracted more residents from other parts of the country than they lost between 2000 and 2013 (net domestic migration data from the Census Bureau annual population estimates). This is consistent with data showing that younger households move more. The Current Population Survey reports indicates that households with householders less than 35 years of age are more than 2.5 times as likely to move between states as those led by householders from 35 to 64. The real competition for migrants between metropolitan areas is for younger households,
Oklahoma City aged the slowest of any major metropolitan area between 2000 and 2013. In 2000, the median age was 34.2 years, which increased to 34.6 in 2013, an increase of only 0.4 years. Orlando, the second slowest aging metropolitan area, added nearly three times as much to its median age, which is now at 36.7 year, up 1.1 years from 2000. Indianapolis and San Antonio tied at third with increases of 1.3 years, while Kansas City and Washington tied for 5th, at 1.4 years. The top ten was rounded out by Nashville, Houston, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Riverside-San Bernardino (Table 1, complete data is at demographia.com).
Metropolitan Areas Aging the Most
Detroit aged faster than any other major metropolitan area, as its median age rose from 35.4 to 40.0 years, an increase of 4.6 years. Cleveland aged 4.0 years, Los Angeles 3.5 years, Rochester 3.4 years and Providence 3.3 years. The bottom ten also included Salt Lake City, Hartford, Cincinnati, San Jose, Pittsburgh and Buffalo (the later three in a tie, which makes the bottom 10 a bottom 11). Eight of the bottom 11 cities were in the Northeast and Midwest. The three others, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and San Jose have median ages below the national average, but Los Angeles and San Jose will be older than average within a decade if current trends continue. All of the 11 cities experienced domestic migration losses between 2000 and 2013.
Youngest Metropolitan Areas
The youngest major metropolitan area is Salt Lake City (31.8 years), which held that title both in 2000 and 2013. Salt Lake City, however, was among the fastest aging cities, as is noted above. Riverside-San Bernardino is in hot pursuit, having gained 1.3 years on Salt Lake City, and with a 2013 median age of 33.3. Riverside-San Bernardino has aged less because it has become a refuge for many younger households from nearby Los Angeles, where house prices are stratospheric compared to household incomes. Texas holds the next four positions, with Austin at 33.5 and Houston at 33.6. Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio are tied for 5th at 34.2 (Table 2)
Oldest Metropolitan Areas
All of the five oldest cities had median ages of 40 years or more. The oldest metropolitan area in 2013 was Pittsburgh (42.8), followed by Tampa St. Petersburg (41.9), Cleveland (41.3), Buffalo (40.8) and Hartford (40.5). As in the case of the fastest aging cities, the oldest cities are mainly from the slower growing Northeast and Midwest.
Sustaining Urban Economies by Attracting Younger Households
Unless there is a substantial increase in birth rates (which no one expects), metropolitan areas will continue to age. But, as before, some will age more rapidly than others.
Part of the reason some slow growth or declining “Rust Belt” Northeastern and Midwestern cities have aged faster is strong outward domestic migration, with its large share of younger households. However, metropolitan areas with high household incomes have also experienced strong net domestic out-migration. This is evident in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose.
Other cities, like Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth or Indianapolis can be more attractive, because their lower cost of living can leave households with more discretionary income and a better quality of life. Much of this cost of living advantage is the result of lower house prices relative to incomes.
This association between better housing affordability and greater net domestic migration is identified in research by Harvard economists Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag. Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman also observed the connection between net domestic migration and housing affordability in a recent New York Times column entitled “Wrong Way America.”
There are other reasons that people move. However, the common thread among movers is aspiration — seeking better lives. People move to places they can afford and where they can hope for a higher standard of living. Metropolitan areas that meet the needs of younger households, with a better quality of life and job creating sustainable economies, are likely to age more slowly
[Originally published at Huffington Post]
Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, discusses a New York State teachers union lawsuit to overturn a Common Core gag order with Heartland’s Heather Kays.The gag order is supposed to protect testing materials so they can be used again in the future. But teachers are arguing that the gag order prevents them from discussing their concerns or voicing criticism of Common Core. According to McCluskey, this will be a difficult decision as both sides have valid points and that history may be made with this case.
McCluskey also talks about the importance of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive order that states teachers have the right to speak out regarding Common Core. McCluskey notes the role that teachers unions should play in protecting teachers who wish to talk openly about Common Core.
Eighty years ago, in the autumn of 1934, there appeared in English one of the most important books on money and inflation penned in the twentieth century, The Theory of Money and Credit by the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises. Even eight decades later, it still offers the clearest analysis and understanding of booms and busts, inflations and depressions.
Mises insisted that the economic rollercoaster of the business cycle was not caused by any inherent weaknesses or contradictions within the free market capitalist system. Rather, inflationary booms followed by the bust of economic depression or recession had its origin in the control and mismanagement by governments of the monetary and banking system.
Mises the Man and Economist
Mises was born in Lemberg (now Lvov, Ukraine) in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire on September 29, 1881. He attended the University of Vienna and earned a doctoral degree in jurisprudence in 1906, with an emphasis on economics. He made his living, however, not in academia but in the world of public policy, in the role of senior economic analyst for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, Crafts, and Industry, a position he held from 1909 until 1934.
In the Austria between the two world wars he was a leading figure in bringing the Great Austrian Inflation to a halt and assisted in reorganizing the Austrian National Bank on a non-inflationary, gold-backed basis. He was an influential voice in preventing the Austrian socialists from nationalizing commerce and industry and was in charge of a department of the League of Nations’ Reparations Commission in Austria in the early 1920s.
Mises also founded the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research, taught a highly acclaimed seminar each term at the University of Vienna, was the Austrian representative of the European Free Trade Association, and led a world-renowned private seminar for Austrian and visiting scholars at his office at the Chamber of Commerce.
After spending several years teaching in Geneva, Switzerland in the second half of the 1930s, Mises moved to the United States in 1940. He taught for nearly a quarter of a century at New York University before retiring, and passed away on October 10, 1973 at the age of 92.
His international recognition and reputation during his years in Europe and the United States was the result of his profoundly important contributions to economics and social philosophy that began when he first developed what became known as the Austrian theory of money and the business cycle in The Theory of Money and Credit (1912), which appeared in English eighty years ago in 1934 in a revised edition.
Money Emerges from Markets, Not Government
Building on the earlier work of Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian School of Economics, Mises demonstrated that money is not the creature or the creation of the State. Money is a market-based and market-generated social institution that spontaneously emerges out of the interactions of people attempting to overcome the hindrances and difficulties of direct barter exchange.
People discover that certain commodities possess combinations of useful qualities and characteristics that make them more marketable than others, and therefore more easily traded away for various goods that someone might wish to acquire in exchange with potential trading partners.
Historically, gold and silver were found through time to have those attributes most desirable for use as a medium of exchange to facilitate the ever-growing network of complex market transactions that enabled the development of an ever-more productive system of division of labor.
Money and the Savings-Investment Process
Money not only facilitates the exchange of goods and services in the present – currently available apples for currently available bananas – but also makes easier and possible the exchange and transfer of goods and their uses over and across time.
Willing investors can borrow from willing savers sums of money set aside out of earned income to then use to purchase and hire various quantities of productive resources – including capital equipment, workers for hire, and useful resources and raw materials – to employ them in production activities that will finally result in potentially marketable and profitable finished consumer goods at some point in the future.
Out of earned revenues from such sales, the investor pays back the borrowed savings with any agreed-upon interest payment, which reflects the time preference of the savers for having been willing to defer the use of a part of their own income for the period of time covered by the loan.
Under a commodity monetary system such as a market-based gold standard, there is a fairly close and closed connection between income earned and consumer spending, and savings set aside and savings borrowed for investment purposes.
Suppose that $1,000 represents the money income earned by people during a given period of time. And suppose that these income earners decide to spend $750 on desired consumer goods and to save the remaining $250 of their earned income.
That $250 of saved income can be lent out at interest to those wishing to undertake future-oriented investment projects. The real resources – capital, labor services, raw materials – that the $250 of purchasing power represents are transferred from the savers to the investors. The remaining real resources of the society represented by the $750 of buying power that income earners choose to spend in the present are directed to the manufacture and marketing of more immediately available consumer goods.
Thus, the scarce and valuable resources of the society are effectively coordinated between their two general uses – producing goods closer to the present (such as a currently existing oven being combined with labor and raw materials to bake the daily bread that people wish to consume), or being used to manufacture goods that will be available and of use at some point later in time (such as the production of new ovens to replace the existing ones that eventually wear out or to add to the number of existing ovens so bread production can be increased in the future).
Like all other prices on the market, the rates of interest on loans coordinate the choices of savers with the decisions of borrowers so to keep supplies in balance with demands for either consumer goods or future-oriented investment goods.
In principle, there is nothing to suggest that within the free market economy, itself, there are forces likely to bring about imbalance or discoordination between the choices and decisions of those trading in the marketplace, either for consumer goods in the present, or for savings in the present in exchange for more and better goods in the future through informed and successful investment by profit-oriented entrepreneurs.
Central Banks as the Cause of the Business Cycle
But what Ludwig von Mises showed in The Theory of Money and Credit and then in even greater detail in his master work, Human Action, a Treatise on Economics (1949), was how the harmony and coordination of the competitive, free market can be thrown out of balance through the monetary central planning of governments and central banks.
First under a weakened gold standard and then under systems of purely government-controlled paper monies, central banks have the ability to create the illusion that there is more savings available in the economy to sustain investment-oriented uses of scarce resources in the society than is actually the case.
For example, in the United States, the Federal Reserve (America’s central bank) has the authority and power to buy up government securities and other “assets” such as mortgaged-backed securities, and pay for them by creating money “out of thin air” that then adds to the loanable funds available to the banking system for lending purposes.
People may be still consuming and saving in the same proportions out of their earned income as they have in the past, but now financial institutions have artificially created bank credit to offer to potential borrowers, and at below what would otherwise be market-generated rates of interest to make investment borrowing more attractive to undertake.
To use our previous example, suppose that people are still spending $750 of their $1,000 of earn income on desired consumer goods and saving the remaining $250. But suppose that the central bank has increased available loanable funds in the banking system by an additional $250.
Investment borrowers, attracted by the lower rates of interest, borrow a total of $500 from banks – $250 of “real savings” and $250 of artificially created credit. They attempt to draw $500 worth of the society’s scarce and real resources into future-oriented investment activities that would not increase output in the economy until sometime later.
But income earners are still spending $750 of their originally earned income on desired consumer goods. This results in the limited and scarce capital, labor and raw materials in the society being “pulled” in two incompatible directions at once – into the manufacture of $750 worth of consumer goods and $500 worth of investment goods, when to begin with there were only $1,000 worth of such real and scarce means of production.
Price Inflation and Misdirection of Resources
This will inevitably tend to push up prices in general in the economy above where they would otherwise have been if not for the central bank’s expansion of the money supply in the initial form of new bank credit, as consumers and investors bid against each other to attract into their direction the goods and services they, respectively, are attempting to buy. Thus, such monetary manipulation always carries the seed of future price inflation within it.
At the same time, Mises argued, the fact that the newly created money first enters the economy through the banking system through investment loans brings about a malinvestment of capital and misallocation of labor and other resources as investment borrowers attempt to employ (as in our example) the equivalent of fifty percent of the society’s resources into future-oriented investment activities ($500), while income earners wish only to save the equivalent of twenty-five percent of their income ($250).
Even though price inflation will push up the dollar amount of money income earned, the unsustainable imbalance between savings and investment brought about by central bank monetary policy will be reflected in any discoordination between the percentage amount of income (and the real resources they represent) that people wish to set aside for purposes of savings and the amount of money investment borrowers attempt to undertake as a percentage of the real resources available in the society, due to central bank money creation.
Recession Correction Follows the Inflationary Misdirection
This misdirection of capital, labor and raw materials away from that allocation and use consistent with people’s actual decisions to consume and to save, means that every monetary-induced inflationary boom carries within it the seeds of an eventual and inescapable economic downturn.
Why? Because once the monetary expansion either slows down or is ended, interest rates will begin to more correctly reflect real available savings to sustain investments in the economy. At which point, it will start to be discovered that capital and labor have been drawn into investment uses and employments that cannot be completed or maintained in a, now, non-monetary inflationary environment.
An economic recession, therefore, is the discovery period of misallocations of scarce resources in the economy that requires a rebalancing and a recoordination of supplies and demands for a return to market- and competitively-determined harmony in the society’s economic activities for long-run growth, employment, and improved standards of living.
The current boom-bust cycle through which the U.S. and the world economy has been passing for over a decade, now, has shown the real world application and logic of what Ludwig von Mises demonstrated in The Theory of Money and Credit decades ago in the twentieth century.
And why reading and learning from this true classic of monetary theory and policy still offers an invaluable guide for ending the business cycles of our own time.
[Originally published at Epic Times]
Google executives’ saccharine best-selling book: “How Google Works,” predictably ignores and whitewashes how Google steals to make its free model work.
This piece spotlights the likely “Post-it Child” of Google theft victims and five other theft victims that Google has stolen from using its signature MO or “Google Con.” It also links to another nineteen victims for a total of at least twenty five examples of Google’s theft and piracy. Corporate kleptomania is “How Google Works.”
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information for free. Its business model is to generate ad revenue on only the sliver of information that users find and click on.
So Google respecting property rights – whether it is privacy, confidential information, trade secrets, copyrights, patents or trademarks – would be prohibitively expensive because their world view presumes that digitized information should be free.
So to make their model work, a key part of Google’s modus operandi or MO is to take, steal, or pirate what it needs. If caught, Google then demonizes its theft or piracy victims. If sued, Google then slow-rolls and exhausts the complainants’ patience and resources. This is “How Google Works.”
The “Post-it child” of Google theft victims
If one were to look for a “Post-it child” of Google theft victims to spotlight Google’s corporate kleptomania, it easily could be VSL-Max Sound.
That’s because they are the beneficiary of a huge irretrievable mistake by Google.
Google left “smoking gun” evidence — in the form of highly-incriminating “Post-it Notes” attached to a returned non-disclosure-agreement.
These Post-it Notes effectively chronicled Google’s predatory plans for stealing VSL-Max Sound’s industry-leading, video streaming trade secrets and patented technology that Google then would use — without permission or payment — to dramatically increase the video transmission quality and cost efficiency of YouTube’s 10 billion daily video streams.
“The Google Con”
Google has perfected a classic con that is simple and ruthlessly effective.
First, Google professes an interest in either licensing or buying an entity’s technologies or company. Second, Google signs a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement with the now very eager entity. Third, Google’s technology experts extract as many trade secrets as possible in its supposed “due diligence” process. Fourth, Google secretly reverse-engineers and implements the stolen trade secrets and patented technology without permission or payment. Fifth, Google leaves the eager entity hanging. Sixth, if the entity sues, Google slow rolls and legally exhausts the complainants’ patience and resources.
Why does this latest VSL-Max sound example matter?
First, it’s rare for Google to get caught red-handed using their own words and materials, during one of its signature thefts of other’s trade secrets and intellectual property.
However, if one shakes down competitors enough times, someone eventually will get careless and leave a “smoking gun” where it can be found and used in court to convict the perpetrator.
Second, it shows law enforcement a signature Google modus operandi or conspiracy-MO that may have harmed at least 25 different entities throughout the American economy over several years, and that may warrant some form of a RICCO law enforcement investigation.
Third, “smoking gun” incriminating evidence of egregious illegal behavior can encourage other victims to come forward, speak up and confirm that Google has stolen from them, and engaged in similar fraudulent schemes.
Google’s corporate kleptomania chronicles
Anyone that doubts “the Google Con” is well-established and ongoing illegal behavior at Google should consider the stories and suits of at least five victims who have learned the hard way – How Google Steals.
Overture: Most don’t know that Google’s hugely profitable ad-auction model was a trade secret and patented process that Google learned from, and then stole wholesale, from Overture in an eerily similar way to “The Google Con” that the VSL-Max Sound lawsuits chronicle. Importantly, Google eventually settled with Overture for ~$250m in 2004, in order to seal the record from the public and smooth the way for its blockbuster initial public offering (IPO.)
Skyhook Wireless: Skyhook Wireless, the then leader in WiFi location targeting efficiency, charged that Google stole its trade secrets in one lawsuit, and its patented technology in another lawsuit, effectively alleging the same basic type of “Google Con” that the VSL-Max Sound lawsuits allege. Incriminating emails document willful infringement by Google’s leadership.
Engineered Architecture – To bring the “Google con” to vivid life in a very personal account,listen to how world-renowned, Israeli-American architect of skyscrapers, Eli Attia, chronicles how “Google stole his life’s work.” Apparently, Google X is currently stealing and building a new business around Attia’s patented “Engineered Architecture” invention, a revolutionary new design and construction technology which integrates architecture and engineering to dramatically lower the time and cost of building large complex structures. Late in life, Mr. Attia currently laments he “cannot initiate a legal battle against one of the greatest economic giants in the world.”
BuySafe:According to its patent infringement lawsuit, BuySafe effectively alleges it was the victim of a form of the “The Google Con,” in charging that Google deceptively and illegally gained access to BuySafe’s trade secrets to advance Google’s own competing “Trusted Stores” program.
Be In-CamUp: Business Insider has a good description of, and a link to, the lawsuit Be In-CamUp filed against Google for theft of trade secrets, breach of contract and copyright infringement for stealing significant technology behind Google Hangouts. Sadly, it is yet another eerily-similar example of “The Google Con” in action.
For those who still are reticent to believe that stealing and pirating from competitors is actually “How Google Works,” why would these nineteen additional companies or associations have sued Google for stealing from them: Yelp, Viacom, Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, business directories, wire services, newspapers, broadcasters, movie studios, authors, publishers,visual artists, software providers, photographers, artists, graphic designers, illustrators, and filmmakers?
And why would the State Attorney General, who has most investigated Google wrongdoing, theft and piracy, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, conclude: “In my 10 years as attorney general, I have dealt with a lot of large corporate wrongdoers. I must say that yours is the first I have encountered to have no corporate conscience for the safety of its customers, the viability of its fellow corporations or the negative economic impact on the nation which has allowed your company to flourish” — in an official letter to Google CEO Larry Page last year?
And for those who are reticent to believe that Google routinely seeks to cover-up its patterns of theft and other wrongdoing, read the investigative report by the non-profit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press called “Uncivil Secrecy.”
In sum, despite Google’s cynical public claim to Liberation that “We do not steal,” and its public claim to the Daily Mail that “We are a law-abiding company” the overwhelming public evidence to date is that stealing from competitors is “How Google Works.”
Simply, Google is not a law-abiding competitor.
Just like Google has acted anti-competitively in serially disrespecting users’ privacy andsecurity with its WorldWideWatch dominance and abuses of dominance, Google also has engaged in an anti-competitive pattern of serial theft and piracy chronicled here — in order to make its “free” model add up.
Think about it. How can any law abiding competitor hope to compete with a company that serially defrauds, steals and pirates competitors’ confidential information, trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and trademarks, in order to gain unbeatable, ill-gotten, and anti-competitive cost, time-to-market, inventory, and innovation advantages?
Google is right that it does not “work” like any other company.
“How Google Works” is like a 21st Century Robber Baron.
Google Disrespect for Property Series
Part 1: Google TV: Dumb Content vs. Content is King [10-7-10]
Part 2: Why Google’s Motorola Patent Play Backfires [9-9-11]
Part 3: Google 21st Century Robber Baron [9-19-11]
Part 4: Google’s “Infringenovation” Secrets [10-3-11]
Part 5: Google’s Piracy Liabilities [11-9-11]
Part 6: Grand Theft Automated! Online Ad Economics Fuel Piracy, Oppose SOPA [11-30-11]
Part 7: The Evidence Google’s Systematic Theft is Anti-Competitive [1-20-12]
Part 8: The Real Reasons Google Killed SOPA/PIPA [1-24-12]
Part 9: Google’s Rap Sheet [6-4-12]
Part 10: Googleopoly IX: Google-Motorola’s Patents of Mass Destruction [7-10-12]
Part 11: Four Under-Appreciated Implications for Google from Apple-Samsung Verdict [9-5-12]
Part 12: What Made Apple’s Steve Jobs So Angry with Google-Android? [9-6-12]
Part 13: Google News-ster, Google Book-ster, YouTube-ster, Android-ster [11-2-12]
Part 14: Google’s Content Settlements are a Tacit Admission It is an Essential Facility [2-11-13]
Part 15: Google protesteth Larry Ellison too much that Google does not steal [8-28-13]
Part 16: Special Report: Google on Piracy: Not Telling the Whole Truth [10-4-13]
Part 17: Brito & Google: BlameThePiracyVictims.org [10-17-13]
Part 18: Google-YouAd is a Deceptive and Unfair Business Practice [10-24-13]
Part 19: Google’s Extensive Cover-up [2-25-14]
Part 20: Google’s Widespread Wiretapping [3-20-14]
Part 21: Google AdSense Lawsuit Spotlights the Corruption of Unaccountability [5-23-14]
Part 22: Google’s Illusion of Data Protection Security [9-7-14]
Part 23: Google Profiting from Hacked Celebrity Women Photos is “How Google Works” [10-6-14]
[Originally published at Precursor Blog]
The Emerald Isle has decided to make itself decidedly less attractive to people the world over.
Ireland is set to announce sweeping changes to its corporate tax structure in its budget on Tuesday, phasing out a loophole that has allowed multinationals to save billions of dollars in tax on their worldwide income.
This is the tax code equivalent of having Jay-Z rewrite Shakespeare. Why would Ireland hamstring itself?
The country has faced sustained criticism over the past 18 months from other European Union members and the United States for its tax rules and Finance Minister Michael Noonan is expected to lay out plans to end an arrangement that has enabled firms such as Google and Apple to cut their overseas tax rates to single digits.
Uber-high tax nations don’t like being scorned. So the EU is trying to force people to like them – which didn’t work in elementary school and won’t work now. And the United States has the highest corporate tax rate on the planet – so we too are in the cafeteria dining alone.
Ireland has to know they’re damaging themselves, right?
To maintain Ireland as an attractive destination for business, Noonan could at the same time make improvements to the intellectual property tax regime, and also has room to cut income tax….
So they realize lower and less government impediments mean higher returns. How do they have “room to cut income tax” (which every government on the planet in fact does)?
…(Because of) the economy’s surprisingly strong rebound from the debt crisis.
Get that? Ireland’s rebound from the debt crisis has been “surprisingly strong” – because they fostered such a capital-friendly environment. While the anti-capital US and EU have continued to founder and flounder.
Hey Huge Government US and EU – don’t hate, emulate. Ireland as it has been – and Luxembourg and the Netherlands as they are still.
Europe’s top regulator said it believes the online retailer has been receiving state aid from Luxembourg for over a decade by taking advantage of a preferential tax deal with the nation.
Apple, Starbucks, and a unit of the automaker Fiat are also under investigation in Europe for similar tax arrangements in Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The European Commission said it is investigating whether Amazon purposely shifted its money around within European countries to avoid paying higher tax rates.
“Shifting money around…to avoid paying higher taxes” is now an EU crime?
“National authorities must not allow selected companies to understate their taxable profits by using favorable calculation methods,” said Joaquin Almunia, Europe’s top competition watchdog. “It is only fair that subsidiaries of multinational companies pay their share of taxes.”
Apparently, disturbingly so. And the US?
President Barack Obama says a loophole that lets companies dodge U.S. taxes by moving their headquarters overseas is unpatriotic….
Here’s a thought – let’s lower tax rates and remove government impediments to entice them to return. Mr. President?
The Obama administration is weighing plans to circumvent Congress and act on its own to curtail tax benefits for United States companies that relocate overseas to lower their tax bills….
Not so much. Nothing like the democratic process.
“Putting companies on notice is, I think, part of it,” (White House press secretary Josh Earnest) said.
Nothing like putting out the Welcome Back mat.
Should we and the EU continue to pummel people with Huge Government policies? Or should we be more like the Less Government likes of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Hong Kong – a little more inviting to the private investment pols incessantly claim they want?
The coming cascade of cash – rolling out of Ireland and into much more capital-friendly locales – will be yet another visual aide we really shouldn’t need.
[Originally published at Human Events]
You’ve got to admire the sheer audacity: Democratic Senator Mark Begich telling Alaska voters that he stood up to President Obama and fought for oil drilling and jobs in his state. Maybe he had a few chats.
But he certainly knew his concerns and opinions meant nothing, changed nothing, accomplished nothing. And then he voted 97% of the time with Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Dictator Harry Reid
Reid has kept over 300 bills bottled up, squelched almost all proffered Republican amendments on anything that did move, and used the “nuclear option” to end the longstanding 60-vote rule and wipe out any chance that Republicans could block Obama nominees or prevent the President from packing the vital DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The three new liberal judges on that court can now be counted on to defer to Mr. Obama’s policies and “agency discretion” on future arrogations of power.
Ditto for Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. She bellyached from time to time about offshore drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline. But she also voted with Obama, Reid and their agenda 97% of the time, on everything from ObamaCare to Dodd-Frank to packing the DC Court.
The tally for other Democratic Senators running for reelection is revealing: Hagan (NC) 96% for the Obama agenda, policies and fiats … Merkley (OR) 96% … Pryor (AR) 90% … Shaheen (NH) 99% … Udall (CO) 99% … Warner (VA) 97%
Now they’re telling their constituents, next year will be different. Send me back to Washington, and next year I will stand up to Obama and support letting people keep their doctors and insurance, allowing more domestic drilling and pipelines, promoting economic recovery and fiscal responsibility, curbing the fraud and abuses at the Environmental Protection Agency, tackling Ebola and going after Islamic terrorists.
The IRS, Benghazi, Ebola and Middle East screw-ups and cover-ups seem to have set the tone. These Senators seem willing to say almost anything to get them past the elections. However, their votes have had real consequences for millions of Americans, especially the poor, minority, elderly and working classes they profess to care so much about. They should not escape accountability so easily.
A recent political ad by black Democrat-turned-Republican Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory lays it on the line. “While you dig through the couch looking for gas money,” Guillory says, Mary Landrieu “flies around in private jets funded by taxpayer dollars.” To her, “you are just a vote,” every six years.
Nor do liberal stereotypes fit. The four Democratic House and Senate candidates in Northern Virginia are all well-off, middle-age white guys. Republican candidates include one middle-age white dude, plus two working moms and a black man – who’s also Jewish and an 8-year Marine Corps veteran.
Few of us have any personal animosity toward any of these Democrat Senators. They’re all amiable people. But as President Obama himself says, “my policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.” Those policies have been dragging this country down, and as long as Harry Reid maintains his iron grip on the Senate, there can be no checks and balances or budgetary constraints on the Obama policies.
Messrs. Reid and Obama have made it clear that they have no interest in working with Republicans. Indeed, the President prefers Saul Alinsky tactics of community agitation and interest group divide-and-conquer. He disdains democratic processes and bipartisan compromises, and much prefers to simply legislate, regulate and dictate from the White House and Executive Branch – ignoring or rewriting the clear language of laws and our Constitution whenever and however necessary.
The Train of Abuses and Usurpations gets longer by the week. Environmental Protection Agency actions alone could place virtually all our land, air, water, energy and economy under the control of regulatory ideologues, working closely with radical Big Green activists, billionaires and “charitable” foundations.
Climate. As the planet refuses to cooperate with computer models and White House fear mongering, the EPA simply ignores all contradictory studies and evidence – and continues to operate under assumptions that: carbon dioxide levels dictate climate change; natural forces are irrelevant’ America can easily replace the fossil fuels that provide 82% of its energy; skyrocketing energy prices will have no effect on the economy, jobs or human health and welfare; and slashing America’s CO2 emissions will make a difference, even though China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Poland and other nations refuse to do likewise.
Of course, the real goal was never to stop climate change. It was always to control and “fundamentally transform” our nation’s energy, economic, social and legal structure and institutions, regardless of costs.
Water. Proposed rules are so broadly written that they would cover nearly all “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), based on assertions that they would eventually end up in “navigable” waters: rivers, rivulets, lakes, groundwater, stock ponds, occasional puddles and dry creek beds. In the process, they would also control land use activities on farms, forests and other private property. Friendly, collusive lawsuits by radical environmentalists would further expand this EPA jurisdiction.
Ozone. Almost every US county meets current 2008 ozone standards. Proposed regulations would render the vast majority of them “nonattainment” areas, subject to severe restrictions on economic growth. Even EPA says the rules would cost $100 billion a year. The National Association of Manufacturers puts the cost at $270 billion annually. The impact on people’s jobs, incomes, health and welfare would be huge.
Even bigger ambitions. Clearly not satisfied with these unprecedented usurpations of power, EPA has also launched major “sustainable development,” “environmental justice” and “clean power” initiatives. These deliberately vague and infinitely malleable terms would further expand the agency’s mission far beyond anything previously imaginable or contemplated by EPA’s authorizing legislation.
Other agencies are busily writing new regulations governing Christmas lights, automobile and refrigerator coolants, endangered species guidelines that would block ranching, drilling and pipeline projects, while giving bird and bat-killing wind and solar projects carte blanche – and other activities.
Collusion. A recent Senate Minority Staff Report explains in frightening detail how far-left billionaires, foundations and environmentalist groups actively collude with EPA managers and regulators. EPA in turn happily recruits high-level eco-activists, who then help lobby, guide and control agency policies – and channel millions of taxpayer dollars to pressure groups that promote those policies. The agency also engages in frequent friendly lawsuits with activists, to make policies even more extreme.
A Republican Senate will not guarantee the kind of change needed to end these excesses and get the nation’s economy and employment back on track, especially if certain GOP members remain timid or recalcitrant. (Perhaps DePuy or Stryker could donate some spinal implants?) Presidential vetoes could also pose problems, although strong leadership could often craft bipartisan veto-proof majorities.
House and Senate hearings could grill agency heads under oath – and investigate potential fraud in developing regulations, unethical collusion between agencies and activists, improper agency funding of activist groups, sweetheart lawsuits and other activities. These investigations could form the basis for budget reductions and restrictions, legislation to end mission creep or block specific regulations, and laws requiring congressional approval of “major” regulatory actions costing billions of dollars.
Such actions would also help restore our tripartite system of government. Right now, the Executive Branch is riding roughshod over businesses and citizens alike, and the courts merely rubberstamp agency decisions. Meanwhile, the Legislative Branch is little more than an appendix that writes overly broad laws giving unaccountable bureaucrats unfettered discretion to impose an increasingly intrusive, expensive leftist, centralized government agenda. No wonder our nation is foundering on the rocks.
The upcoming elections could help get the USS United States back on course. Let’s hope they do.