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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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White House #AskDrH Climate Social Media Campaign an #EpicFail

November 16, 2014, 9:09 PM

On Thursday afternoon (Nov. 13), the White House’s vaunted social media squad invited Americans to go on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, or Instagram and pose questions about climate change to the president’s science advisor using the hashtag #AskDrH. Said the White House blog:

Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wants to answer any questions that you have about climate change — what it means, how bad it actually is, and what we can do to fight it.

Wait a minute! Holdren will answer “any questions that you have about climate change” … but only if they conform to the notion that human activity is causing a climate crisis, and restricting human activity by government direction can “fight it.” I think the White House misspelled “any.”

As it turned out, this was not going to be a “live” social media event anyway. At some point in the future, we’re told, someone at the White House is going to hand pick a few questions Holdren to answer “on camera” for YouTube. As of Sunday evening, Holdren has provided no answers. Maybe that’s because the White House social media experts are having a hard time sifting through the wreckage of their ill-conceived campaign and finding the very few that conform to Holdren’s alarmist point of view.

The #AskDrH hashtag was hijacked by folks who had real, pointed, and scientifically based questions for Holdren. They also had a bit of fun at Holdren’s expense. I haven’t counted them all — that’s impossible, because new questions keep coming in, even days later — but it’s safe to say that … um … at least 97 percent of questioners don’t believe in man-caused global warming, and want Holdren to explain some inconvenient truths.

If he’s serious about his mission as “Science Advisor” to the President of the United States, he should address some of the many very serious questions on the science. The Heartland Institute has a long-standing challenge to Dr. Holdren to debate a skeptic climate scientist, and we threw that in to the #AskDrH stream many times.

Challenge to #AskDrH: Public debate w/skeptic #climate scientist on the data: http://t.co/ojOEFGOlZK Pick time, place. Do you accept?

— Heartland Institute (@HeartlandInst) November 16, 2014

No answer, so far.

Twitchy on Thursday, just hours after the call for questions went out, reported on the #EpicFail of the White House’s latest effort to rally public support around the climate crisis meme. If they were surprised that the vast majority of questions would be actually challenges on the science — as well as Holdren’s long public record of wildly goofy and wrong predictions about the climate — the person in charge of social media at the White House should consider another line of work. Perhaps barista.

Go here to see all the #AskDrH questions on Twitter. (You will have to scroll down, and down, and down …) Here are some of our favorites:

Wil these guys ever learn? #AskDrH: The President’s Science Advisor Is Answering Your Questions on Climate Change http://t.co/UePLJle7aU

— Adam Curry (@adamcurry) November 13, 2014

Why does the @WhiteHouse use junk science numbers to shoot themselves in foot w/Climate Control? #AskDrH ex http://t.co/xBP10P85P0

— MedicalQuack (@MedicalQuack) November 13, 2014

#askDrH What is relevance of Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds? pic.twitter.com/X7VQB4nKFA

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH @hockeyschtick1: @EcoSenseNow @MarkBoslough e.g. The entire Ordovician ice age occurred with CO2 levels 6X higher than the present

— William Tireman (@AnswerIsFusion) November 16, 2014

#askdrh please comment on report from Nature, Tropical storms not intensifying. http://t.co/OyRqSLVrwv

— Ima Debatin’ (@ImaBannedd) November 16, 2014

Dear #AskDrH Why did you predict a new ice age in 1971? pic.twitter.com/oCZRfydTc4

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 13, 2014

Was your claim abt losing all WINTER Arctic ice sea the stupidest utterance ever by a Pres. science advisor? #askDrH http://t.co/nGQgd5Welx

— Tom Nelson (@tan123) November 13, 2014

Dear #AskDrH The @EPA says that heatwaves were much worse in the 1930’s Why are you claiming otherwise? pic.twitter.com/Ix5tgfu6kQ

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 13, 2014

#AskDrH What was the climate control knob during 70s ice age scare and why did it switch to CO2 during AGW scare? How does that even work?

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 15, 2014

Dear #AskDrH Why did @NASA recently tamper with their own temperature data to make it appear to be warming faster? http://t.co/UdKNrH2fum

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 15, 2014

Dear #AskDrH Why is Antarctic sea ice extent at a record high in 2014?

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 15, 2014

Arctic Viagra Dooms Alarmists http://t.co/dU1GZoZvsx via @SteveSGoddard #ClimateChanges #Alarmism #G20 #AskDrH #AGW? pic.twitter.com/iFY9mTeuPf

— JWSpry (@JWSpry) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH Since IPCC admits it doesn’t understand solar effects on climate, how can they be ruled out and man blamed to >95% certainty?

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 13, 2014

Dear #AskDrH, Why is Arctic sea ice extent at its highest level in over a decade? http://t.co/apKtP6HQkP pic.twitter.com/1lZ0OmnfAs

— Steve Goddard (@SteveSGoddard) November 15, 2014

#askDrH do you & @DavidSuzuki both not realize that climate occilates on its own and has for billions of years? pic.twitter.com/iHthnOAjJo

— Alaina Fraser (@FraserAlaina) November 14, 2014

#AskDrH how do you answer those using the 18+ year warming pause, Antarctic ice gain and normal Arctic ice to cast doubt on #climatechange?

— Malcolm Bell (@malcky) November 13, 2014

#AskDrH If the science is settled, then why does the data have to be constantly “adjusted”?

— WilliamTeach (@WilliamTeach) November 16, 2014

#askdrh why did the UN IPCC not post a ‘best’ estimate of climate sensitivity as they have previously? Is it because it keeps dropping?

— Ima Debatin’ (@ImaBannedd) November 15, 2014

#askdrh Comment please: pic.twitter.com/cIm5JcF7we

— Ima Debatin’ (@ImaBannedd) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH Why should we believe absorption & emission spectra in a lab jar dominate heat transfer in the troposphere?

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH Do you plan to actually respond to the very real allegations of data tampering?

— Matthew Ozarko (@MattOzarko) November 16, 2014

#AskDrH Why did Hugo Chavez get a standing O at Copenhagen Climate conference when he said capitalism must be destroyed to save climate?

— Euphonius Bugnuts (@EuphoniusNuts) November 13, 2014

If you and Obama had complete control over US energy policy, how many Americans would survive a typical winter? #AskDrH

— Tom Nelson (@tan123) November 14, 2014

repost #askdrh Comment please pic.twitter.com/39ALZz8OOa

— Ima Debatin’ (@ImaBannedd) November 15, 2014

#AskDrH Will a red checkered onesie and cup of hot cocoa keep me warm during this Global Warming cold wave? pic.twitter.com/2y4lCQgkCF

— John (@ATXright) November 14, 2014

#AskDrH ~ when #ClimateChange hysteria permanently deflates, what will be the next, most promising green crusade? “Running out” of water?

— Tyler Dunford (@tydunford) November 13, 2014

Learn more about what’s really happening to the climate from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). These scientists have examined the data — that actual data, not the “gamed” or “adjusted” data to fit a long-standing political outcome. Read the Climate Change Reconsidered series, which amounts to some 3,000 pages (and thousands of citations from the peer-reviewed scientific literature) showing that there is no human-caused climate crisis.

And also visit the archive page of The Heartland Institute’s nine international conferences on climate change, featuring 197 speakers since 2008.

Categories: On the Blog

Reply to Amherst Faculty Members

November 16, 2014, 2:44 PM

On October 29, a group of Amherst College faculty members sent an open letter to the president of the college and the chairman of the board of trustees urging them to “move toward divesting the college of holdings in those corporations that are committed to fossil fuel extraction to the exclusion of making serious investments in renewable energy.”

Regrettably, the faculty members’ letter made several false and malicious claims about The Heartland Institute, which we reply to in the letter below. We shared our concern with Joseph Wilson, an Amherst alumnus who forwarded the faculty members’ letter to other alumni, and asked him to send our reply to the same list of alumni or at least direct them to “Reply to Our Critics,” a feature on Heartland’s Web site that corrects similar errors, but he has refused to do so. (Please ask him why: wilson.amherst@gmail.com.) We also asked the editor of The Amherst Student, which printed the letter, to allow us to post a comment below the article on the newspaper’s Web site. So far, the paper has refused to print our reply. (Please ask the editor why at this online form.)

November 10, 2014

Dr. Carolyn Martin
President, Amherst College
Mr. Cullen Murphy
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Amherst College
Converse Hall
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Dear Dr. Martin and Mr. Murphy:

A member of the Amherst College class of 1964 sent me a copy of an open letter you recently were sent by some Amherst faculty members calling on the college to divest its investments in fossil fuels. I am writing to call your attention to serious factual errors in that letter. A copy of the letter is enclosed.

The references to The Heartland Institute contained in letter are entirely false. The Heartland Institute is a 30-year-old nonprofit institution that was started without funding or advice from “Koch Industries” or any individuals or other organizations affiliated with that company. There is nothing “ersatz” about us: We have more than 5,000 donors, 30 full-time staff, more than 260 academics participate in our peer-review, and nearly 8 out of 10 state legislators say they read and value our publications.

We have received a mere $25,000 in the last 15 years from individuals or organizations affiliated with the Koch family, and that gift was for our work on health care reform. We’ve received no funding at all from ExxonMobil or BP since 2007, before we became prominent in the climate change debate, and before that their funding amounted to less than 5% of our annual budgets.

Our positions on climate change and alternative energy obviously diverge from those of the letter’s authors, but are well within the bounds of respected scientific opinion. For example, our series of scientific reports on climate science, titled Climate Change Reconsidered, has been cited more than 100 times in peer-reviewed science journals. Copies of the Summaries for Policymakers of two most recent reports in the series are enclosed.

I’m sorry proponents of disinvestment felt they couldn’t make their case without defaming an organization that presents an opposing view. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or others here at The Heartland Institute if you have any questions or further concerns.

Sincerely,

Joseph Bast
President
The Heartland Institute

Categories: On the Blog

Fair Election Policies Trampled in Quest to Win

November 15, 2014, 10:26 AM

After every national election the losing party claims voter fraud influenced the outcome.   We hear reports of voter suppression, voting machine irregularities, non-eligible people voting, tampering with ballots, intimidation at the polls, and the list goes on and on.  Are these claims just the product of intense disappointment and frustration due to rigorous campaigns in which thousands of people spent many months of exhaustive work and intense passion to win? The disappointment of losing cannot be underestimated.  However, as much as we might sympathize with those who lost, nobody can deny the fact that election laws are often bent and others blatantly broken in the election process. The quest to win causes those with a lack of principles to claim “the end justifies the means”.  No!  Nothing justifies breaking established election laws, because that can rob the rightful winner of victory and cheat citizens from securing the person they want to represent them.

Even more alarming is that it appears our federal Justice Department and top elected officials at both state and federal levels have been smitten with the same lack of good judgment and/or conscience.  They lack interest in taking stronger steps that would help facilitate strict enforcement of existing election laws, and resist enacting new laws that would help prevent the many ways voter fraud has been perpetrated.  Illegally Influencing the outcome of an election must be stopped.  Until that is accomplished, we cannot claim to be any  better than third World countries we continually condemn.

Voter fraud is not always detected, and even when it is there is a hesitancy by officials to take the case to trial.  Often, the result is just a stiff (but meaningless) warning.  Those who get caught with a more serious violation and actually go to trial rarely receive a stiff penalty.  Thus, we continue to see our election rules and laws abused each election cycle.   Perpetrators know there is a low risk of exposure, that convictions are scarce, and even if convicted there are few who receive a harsh penalty.   With so little to fear, it is easy to understand why voter fraud has escalated..

The one way for all of us to have confidence our vote is not being canceled by an illegal one, or that voter fraud was not the reason for a candidate’s victory, is to demand our state and federal officials get serious about enacting strong laws to weed out ineligible voters and to initiate a Voter I.D. law in every state.  Voter registration offices throughout the Country, must investigate and purge their registration lists of all illegal names, and people must prove they are legally registered voters before receiving a ballot.

Sounds simple to do, and it really is, but Democrat leaders do everything possible to prevent that from happening, and Republican leaders, while advocates of the voter I.D. law, do not speak out boldly enough to win its implementation. Now that Republicans have control of Congress, we will see if they are serious about reform.

The most recent evidence of an official hindering the passage of a Voter I.D. law was seen when Attorney General Eric Holder publicly vowed to aggressively challenge voter I.D. laws.  His recent resignation from the office brought in a ray of hope that more states would initiate procedures to enact Voter I.D. laws,  as well as develop stronger procedures that can protect legal votes.

Is Voter Fraud Rare?

Democrats claim that voter fraud is so rare it doesn’t require new laws that would prevent illegal voting.  However, the facts do not support that viewpoint. Keep in mind that voter fraud is often very difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove.   Without the requirement of a voter proving they are who they claim to be, voter fraud is difficult to detect.  That became even more of a challenge when a directive from the former Attorney General Eric Holder was sent to Registrars throughout the nation, warning that any voter suppression would be dealt with harshly.  Translated at the local level that was a warning to every Registrar and thus poll worker that before challenging any suspicious activity, you better be very sure you are right.   Could the result of that warning, coming from the federal government, not discourage Registrars and their staff to be on full alert for any possible irregularities of voting violations they witnessed?   Whether that was the original intent or not,  the result had to be that only the most blatant examples of fraudulent activities were reported and had a chance for conviction.

Bringing a case of voter fraud to trial is expensive and time consuming.  Therefore, people are forced to carefully decide whether they want to be involved in that uncomfortable process.  Most people cannot afford the costs, if they are proven wrong.  Therefore, fewer suspicious people are confronted, unless the evidence is blatant, overwhelming. and indisputable. One can only guess how many instances of voter fraud have gone  undetected and/or unreported as a result.

An example of the lack of interest by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute voter fraud cases can be seen in the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.  During the 2008 election,  Black Panthers stood just outside the doors of a polling facility, wearing black berets and jackboots;  one Black Panther prominently displaying a large club in his hand.   These men were charged with the crime of voter intimidation outside of a polling station. In spite of citizens’ claims the men were indeed intimidating, the Dept. of Justice, under Eric Holder, narrowed the charges and then ultimately dismissed them.   The actions of Eric Holder and his department were defined as outrageous by many, but it left little doubt that what the general public considered blatantly illegal were was not  enough to warrant a conviction under Eric Holder.

The following quote was made by Department of Justice Attorney Christian Adams regarding the case:  “The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career.  Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.”

Christian Adams informed the public of other examples of voter fraud that were ignored by Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department.  A particular blatant example is that absentee ballots were sent to people who had not asked for them.  A political operator would then visit the specific homes, uninvited, the day the ballots arrived and help the voter fill them out and/or take the ballot and fill them out, including a forged signature

Targeting Voter Fraud

A liberal group called the “Voter Participation Center” (formerly known as Women’s Voices Women Vote), mailed hundreds of thousands of registration forms to residents in several states, including Florida, hoping to enlist more potential voters.  Florida officials declared the mailers to be confusing and misleading due to what seemed a deliberate attempt to cause voters to believe the State of Florida itself was sending them the official form.  A bigger problem for the state was that the voter registration forms were sent to many ineligible voters, such as felons, the deceased, children, and even animals.

As a result of this mailing, Florida State officials realized their voter registration records needed to be purged of those who were illegally listed. The state sued the federal government to gain access to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security database that could help officials spot non-U.S. citizens who were attempting to vote.  The U.S. Department of Justice, under the leadership of Eric Holder, subsequently sued the state alleging that its purge of voters is illegal.

Also of concern to citizens is the lack of attention to this subject by the media.  They too appear timid regarding aggressive investigative reporting on the subject.  Citizens throughout America want to have confidence in our voting process. That confidence can begin with required inspections of every voter registrar office in America.  Every voter registration list should be investigated for accuracy and purged of every name that cannot be substantiated as a legal.  Also, every Registrar Office should provide proof that every poll worker, every employee, has gone through an education program regarding their responsibilities and all that their job requires.  The media might also highlight specific Registrars and Registrar offices that are highly efficient and effective.  We recommend the Orange County, CA office and Registrar Neal Kelly as examples of what we would like to see in every  State and each County in America

It is hoped that with the recent resignation of Eric Holder, a new Attorney General might take a more active approach to enacting laws that would significantly reduce the opportunity or possibility of fraudulent voting.  However, the leading candidate for that position as of this writing is Brooklyn federal prosecutor, Loretta Lynch.  While she has good qualifications for the position, unfortunately, she agrees with Holder on the issue of Voter I.D. laws.  She has expressed strong viewpoints against the law and apparently can easily dismiss fraud that might have been prevented with the I.D. law.

Reporter John Fund has written three books on voter fraud.  A recent survey by Old Dominion University indicates that there are more than a million registered voters who are not citizens, and who therefore are not legally entitled to vote.  James O’Keefe with Project Veritas Action, the same person who exposed ACORN and many other abuses of power, has done numerous excellent exposes showing the extent the Democrats are reaching to perpetrate voter fraud on the American public. In one video, numerous campaign workers in North Carolina try to assist an admitted illegal immigrant to vote.  In another videoO’Keefe looks at voter rolls and shows how easy it is to vote as someone else when poll workers are not allowed to ask for ID.

State Fraud

Massive voter fraud in Maryland was uncovered due to a careful examination of Jury Duty surveys.   Many who claimed to be non-citizens on that official form had filled out a Voter Registration form claiming just the opposite, that they were citizens.   Obviously, the individuals lied about their citizen status on one of the forms, and most were proven to have lied on the Voter Registration form.  Also, during the last election, early voting participants made accusations made that some voting machines had changed Republican votes to Democrat one.  Republicans are calling for an investigation by the State Board of Elections.

Early voting in Illinois also got off to a rocky start, when votes being cast for Republican candidates were transformed into votes for Democrats. Voters were told they likely were not pressing the button properly.  Illinois State Representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote at the Schaumburg Public Library and reported:  “I tried to vote for myself and instead it cast a vote for my opponent.”  Moynihan said Cook County Board of Elections Deputy Communications Director, Jim Scalzitti, told Illinois Watchdog, the machine was taken out of service to be tested.  Access this website to see Republican votes flipped to the Democrat in a polling place in Moline, Illinois.

The North Carolina Board of Election found 1,425 registered voters who likely are illegal aliens.  The audit sampled 10,000 registered voters with data provided by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and the US Department of Homeland Security.

A single Bronx voter listed in official records as being 164 years old led to the Board of Election officials to review their files.  They discovered 849 New Yorkers who were supposedly alive when Abraham Lincoln was President.

Further examples of Voter Fraud in Connecticut, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Alabama, Texas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, California, Idaho, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Michigan, Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island, etc., can be reviewed here.

For Reflection

A few days before the election, a Wisconsin mailman was seen dumping hundreds of Republican postcards in the trash, all of them supporting Republican candidates.  He is now under indictment.

The above examples are just a scant sampling of voter fraud in America.  Patriots argue for an overhaul of our election security.00 processes, and laws. Every person who casts a legal vote should do so with the confidence it is not being canceled by an illegal one.  America’s electoral system should be perceived as reliable, efficient, and honest; a system that has the tools to detect fraudulent activities as well as convict perpetrators who violate our laws.  A system that is working effectively will not only detect voter abuses, but would also be a deterrent to prevent potential fraudulent activities.  Oddly, many of our government officials often seem more concerned about election irregularities in other nations than our own, and when informed of voter improprieties in the United States, they have the audacity to state such claims are grossly exaggerated.

Our response should be that something as important as an American citizens’ vote should be highly respected and protected.   Our next article will devote attention to the reasons Voter I.D. laws should be mandatory in all states.

Categories: On the Blog

Dependence Level Higher with Cigarettes Than with Smokeless Tobacco

November 14, 2014, 4:23 PM

As noted previously (here), Drs. Karl Fagerström and Tom Eissenberg have described a continuum of dependence among tobacco and nicotine products.  They concluded that cigarettes are the most dependence-producing (addictive) product and that smokeless tobacco is intermediate, evidenced by clinical trials showing that quitting cigarette smoking is more difficult than quitting ST.

In a new study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research (abstract here), I use data from the 2003 Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey to directly compare time to first use (TTFU) among smokers and smokeless tobacco users in a nationally representative sample.  My collaborators in the work are Nantaporn Plurphanswat, research economist at University of Louisville’s Brown Cancer Center, and Karl Fagerström.

Time to the first cigarette (TTFC) after waking up in the morning is a well-established measure of dependence among smokers – the shorter the TTFC, the stronger the addiction.  This measure is the key component of a scale developed in the late 1970s by Dr. Fagerström, for whom the scale is named.  TTFC is strongly correlated with abstinence and time to relapse among smokers enrolled in cessation trials and in nationally representative samples of smokers from four countries.  A comparable measure has been developed for smokeless tobacco use.

We examined TTFU among 10,500 white men who were daily cigarette smokers and 1,200 who were daily smokeless tobacco users.  Smokers were classified according to number of cigarettes per day (cpd) smoked: light (1-14 cpd), moderate (15-24 cpd) and heavy (25+).  Smokeless tobacco users were subgrouped as exclusive users or former smokers.

The results show that dependence among smokeless tobacco users is similar to that among light smokers (1-14 cpd), 9% of whose TTFU was less than 5 minutes, and 23% under 30 minutes.  Differences in TTFU between smokers and smokeless tobacco users can be seen in the chart below, which is from our study.

Our findings support the Fagerström-Eissenberg hypothesis that the dependence level of cigarettes is generally higher than that of smokeless tobacco.  This has positive implications for tobacco harm reduction, which is the substitution of smoke-free tobacco products for cigarettes among smokers unwilling or unable to quit.  Switching from smoking to smokeless tobacco use is associated with a huge reduction in health risks.  This study adds evidence that a switch to smokeless tobacco might also increase the chances for becoming completely tobacco-free.

Categories: On the Blog

How The Free Market Can Save American Education

November 14, 2014, 1:29 PM

Only one week after Election Day, Washington, DC’s focus has shifted from furious campaigning to National Education Week and the Thought Leader Summit (held from Nov. 10–13), “a gathering of the leaders from education, business, and government who define and shape trends in public and private education.”

Among the many topics that will be addressed are school choice, innovations in educational technology, and for-profit education. Although it remains a minority held view in American education today, liberty-focused educators around the country have begun to start thinking about how free-market principles can be used in the classroom to revolutionize the way kids learn.

Conservatives often proudly, and rightly, assert that a central tenant of successful education reform is the transformation of how educational institutions are funded and organized. Long gone are the days where serious reformers believe that centralized education offered by government bureaucrats is a more effective strategy than empowering private schools, charter schools, and other programs that give parents, especially those who live in poor neighborhoods with decrepit schools and failing teachers, the ability to send their children wherever they see fit.

But the importance of using free-market principles in the classrooms themselves is often overlooked by liberty-supporting education reformers. When free-market strategies are employed in schools, children can grow to appreciate the value of freedom and capitalism instead of becoming indoctrinated with the socialistic, everyone-deserves-a-trophy mentality that now dominates U.S. school systems.

In “Rewards: How to use rewards to help children learn – and why teachers don’t use them well,” a new book by Heartland Institute Chairman Herbert J. Walberg and President Joseph Bast, research is presented that proves strategies such as paying students for performance; offering stickers (for younger students), parties, and prizes for reaching established goals; and showing high school students the monetary advantages of education all help to develop successful learning habits that have statistically led to better performances on standardized tests and increased graduation rates, in addition to an increased likelihood of college attendance.

For those who believe in and support capitalism, this won’t come as much of a surprise. Using incentives to improve performance and efficiency is a part of the foundation that America, the most successful and prosperous nation the world has ever seen, has been built on.

What seems obvious to so many, however, has been obscured by so-called education gurus in teachers colleges across the nation. As Walberg and Bast explain in “Rewards,” influential academics like Alfie Kohn have rejected the concept of rewarding students for performance. Kohn once even said it was “irrefutable” that “[i]ncentives simply do not work,” and “any approach that offers a reward will fail.”

Is it really a surprise then that so many millennials, having been brainwashed with this sort of thinking for more than a decade, march off to voting booths each election season convinced that the answers to all of the world’s problems are to tax more, spend more, and eliminate accountability?

The secret to transforming America back into the economic powerhouse it once was is to teach children – using proven and trusted strategies – that terms like “incentives,” “rewards,” and “profits” are not the dirty words the public education system has been insisting they are since the 1960s. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to reward the children themselves for performance rather than acting as though being successful isn’t all that important.

Justin Haskins (Jhaskins@heartland.org) is an author, blogger, and an editor of publications at The Heartland Institute, a leading free-market think tank based out of Chicago, IL. You can follow him @TheNewRevere or visit his personal site online at http://traskhaskins.com/.

“Rewards: How to use rewards to help children learn – and why teachers don’t use them well” by Herbert J. Walberg and Heartland President Joseph Bast is available on Amazon.com and at The Heartland Institute’s online store.

 

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Empower the People or Empower Bureaucrats – Two Internet Votes

November 14, 2014, 1:01 PM

Pundits largely agree that those who cast ballots last week had more or less one idea in mind – Washington is broken and must be fixed. So imagine the surprise that online customers will receive when Senators Reid and Durbin lead the just voted out Senate to massively expand government power in their last few days at the helm of Congress. Current leadership of the Senate (Senators Reid and Durbin still lead the Senate during a “lame duck” session until January 3rd when the new Senators the country elected last week will be sworn in and new leadership selected) plans to bring a combined Mainstreet Fairness Act (MFA) and Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) to the Senate floor soon. The ITFA would continue a moratorium on “Internet taxes,” that is, taxes on Internet access and on multiple or discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce. In other words, online merchants and consumers would be freed from the threat of discriminatory treatment. The MFA does almost the exact opposite, empowering government tax auditors to reach as far as the Internet sprawls. The policy of that proposal is horrible, doing away with any requirement that a business have a physical connection to a jurisdiction before it can be forced to levy taxes on its sales. If this law were to pass, a person merely calling up a business’s Website could be enough to require that a business, and hence consumers, pay taxes in the state where the customer resides. Out-of-state tax authorities could audit businesses in any state – regulation without representation or reprieve. A discriminatory Internet tax would look promising by comparison. Combining the legislation is the worst of Washington and government, cynically tying the hugely popular, taxpayer protecting ITFA to the government expanding consumer and small business hurting MFA. This sort of dirty, heavy handed government trick is exactly what the country voted against last week. This combination should earn the scorn of any legislator who believes the country is growing weary of ever sprawling and powerful government. But, the game gets rigged further against consumers. Rumor on the Hill is that the MFA, or a MFA/ITFA combination, will be attached to a continuing resolution, that is, legislation enacted by Congress to keep government operating until the regular order of appropriations legislation is again taken up. Such legislation is typically considered “must pass,” so the pressure to vote for it regardless of some odious part will be high. The reality is that such legislation could pass as it would likely garner a huge share of Democrat support with a few wayward Republicans added on. For this to work, GOP leadership would certainly have to be in on the deal, putting politics ahead of an electorate that had hoped they voted for something better. The politics get worse. An Internet sales tax, like the MFA, is wildly unpopular with only a mere 35 percent of the public indicating they are OK with the idea. Two-thirds of Republicans and conservatives oppose the measure, and 56 percent of independents oppose it. Democrats? A majority oppose. Only two groups support the idea. State tax collectors, who are eager to expand their power over those who have no recourse, are the first group. While once again overall tax collections are up, according to the Pew Charitable Trust, some states have still not returned to the record tax collections, and spending, they were taking before the recession. “On the bright side, state revenue collections overall in the second quarter of this year were actually up 1.6 percent above their highest 2008 level, just before the recession – buoyed from a few states doing particularly well.” What easier way to get more revenue than from those cannot even vote to change the policy? Their addiction to taxes, and enforcing them through grater and deeper reach of government, drive their insatiable desire. The other group is the “big box” retailers who desperately want this discriminatory treatment for online merchants to prevail to curtail their competition. They have gone so far as to try to force the hand of House leadership arguing that the legislation should be jammed, by trickery if necessary, through Congress to “clear the decks” for the beginning of a new Congress. Of course the decks should be cleared of bad ideas by House leadership but not by making them law. If a discriminatory Internet tax is allowed because the ITFA does not pass, or if government reach is wildly expanded via the passage of the MFA the recent protests in Hungary opposing similar attempts will look mild compared to the anger in an electorate full of online consumers that deserves much better and thought they just voted to get it. Speaker Boehner deserves credit for indicating that the MFA is dead and that he will not bring it to a vote, and for leading the House to vote in support of the ITFA. The remaining question is what will the last days of the Leader Reid Senate do? Oppose the will of the people or follow it? Put a focus on empowering the people or keep it on empowering bureaucrats? Failing the people could result in the first Internet wave election in 2016.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Obama’s Cruel and Costly Climate Hoax

November 14, 2014, 10:54 AM

The intense cold that many Americans are encountering arrives more than a month before the official start of winter on December 21.

To discuss this, we need to keep in mind that weather is what is occurring now. Climate is measured over longer periods, the minimum of which is thirty years and, beyond that, centuries.

We are colder these days because the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for 19 years and that cycle is based entirely on the Sun which has been radiating less heat for the same period of time.

Describing the role of the Sun, Australian geologist, Ian Plimer, said, “There is a big thermonuclear reactor in the sky that emits huge amounts of energy to the Earth…The Sun provides the energy for photosynthesis. The Sun is the bringer of life to Earth. If the Sun were more energetic the oceans would boil. If the Sun were less energetic the oceans would freeze and all life on Earth would be destroyed.”

We don’t control the Sun. Or the climate. It controls us.

Consider the fact that the Sun has a diameter of 865,000 miles. The Earth’s diameter is 7,917.5 miles. Thus, the Sun’s diameter is 109 times greater than the Earth’s. Carbon dioxide is barely 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere. Reducing it as the U.S.-China agreement proposes would have zero effect on the Earth’s climate.

We not only can, but should ignore the blatant lies of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, both of whom have been saying things about “climate change” without a scintilla of science to back them up. They’re not alone, however. In August, the U.N. Climate Chief, Christiana Figueres, warned of climate “chaos” in 500 days and told the World Health Organization that climate change was on a par with the outbreak of Ebola as a public health emergency.

It was big news on November 11 when The Wall Street Journal’s lead story on its front page reported that “The U.S. and China unveiled long-term plans to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to climate change, a surprise move aimed at kick-starting a new round of international climate negotiations and blunting domestic opposition to cuts in both countries.”

Someone needs to tell the Wall Street Journal there is no “climate change” that is not entirely NATURAL and unrelated to anything humans are doing.

The announcement plays into the longtime efforts of the environmental movement to impose energy limits on the world’s population. Similar limits will be called for when climate talks are launched in December by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Lima, Peru.

Why the leaders of nations keep calling for limits that can only result in the reduction of energy production, the loss of economic benefits from industrial activity and the jobs it provides, and the modern lifestyle of advanced nations is one of life’s great mysteries.

If you really disliked America, you would no doubt pursue President Obama’s anti-energy agenda. That agenda is expressed by a series of climate and pollution measures that an article in Politico.com says “rivals any presidential environmental actions of the past quarter-century—a reality check for Republicans who think last week’s election gave them a mandate to end what they call the White House’s ‘War on Coal.’”

The authors of the Politico.com article, Andrew Restuccia and Erica Martinson, note that Obama’s assault on the nation is “Tied to court-ordered deadlines, legal mandates and international climate talks” over the next two months, all in the name of a climate change “And incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have few options for stopping the onslaught, though Republicans may be able to slow pieces of it.”

“The coming rollout includes a Dec. 1 proposal by EPA to tighten limits on smog-causing ozone, which business groups say could be the costliest federal regulation of all time; a final rule Dec. 19 for clamping down on disposal of power plants’ toxic coal cash; the Jan. 1 start date for a long-debated rule prohibiting states from polluting the air of their downwind neighbors; and a Jan. 8 deadline for issuing a final rule restricting greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants. That last rule is a centerpiece of Obama’s most ambitious environmental effort, the big plan for combating climate change that he announced at Georgetown University in June 2013.”

This vile assault flies in the face of actual climate trends: record low tornadoes record low hurricanes, record gain in Arctic ice, record amount of Antarctic ice, no change in the rate of sea level rise, no evidence of a Greenland meltdown, and again no warming for 19 years.

As this and future winters turn colder, arrive sooner and stay around longer, Americans will be affected by the reduction of coal-fired plants that generate electrical power. The nation will encounter blizzards that will leave some homeowners and apartment dwellers without heat. It is predictable that some will die.

A cruel and costly climate hoax is being perpetrated by President Obama and, in particular, by the Environmental Protection Agency. The new Congress must take whatever action it can to reverse and stop the harm that it represents; people’s jobs and lives depend on it.

Categories: On the Blog

Cold Breaks Records, Again!

November 13, 2014, 6:34 PM

During 2014, the U.S. has experienced an unusual amount of record breaking cold weather and weather related phenomena.  In large part due to the polar vortex, hundreds, if not thousands of cities and towns in the United States experienced multiple days of record setting temperatures — both record lows and record low high temperatures.

This continued into the summer.  In July record lows or record low high temperatures were set cities ranging from Atlanta to Baltimore, from Dallas to Pittsburgh, and in states from Minnesota to Alabama and Florida.

Record low temperatures continued into September when 246 record low high temperatures records were broken or tied between September 1 and September 10 alone. Some of the record breaking temperatures were as much as 16 degrees below the previous record low.

In addition to record cold, numerous cities and regions saw record snowfall, and lingering snow in early 2014.

Not to be outdone, late 2014 is already breaking temperature and snowfall records.  South Carolina, experienced its earliest snowfall on record , while other states are experiencing record amounts of early snowfall and/or low temperatures.  Some states and cities are 20 degrees below their normal temperatures for this time of year including Florida and Dallas, where I live. Denver has experienced record breaking low temperatures two days running with temperatures running 34 degrees below average and Maine has experienced its earliest double-digit snowfall.

Not to be outdone, the great lakes region, the Mid-West and the great Northwest, have all experienced either record lows, record low highs or record early snowfall or ice.  Most recently, Casper, Wyoming and Oklahoma are both more then 20 degrees below their average temperatures and while snowfall amounts accumulating in Idaho, Montana, Oregon,  Utah and Washington, are not extraordinary by mid-winter standards, for early fall they are impressive.

I’m sorry folks, but this is not how global warming is supposed to work!

For more see:

http://kdvr.com/2014/11/12/bitter-cold-keeps-firm-hold-on-colorado-slower-commute-with-snow-packed-and-icy-roads/

http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/09/12/noaa-246-low-max-records-broken-or-tied-from-sept-1-to-sept-10-some-records-broken-by-16f/

http://www.weather.com/news/weather-forecast/polar-invasion-july-record-cold-temperatures-20140716

http://www.weather.com/news/weather-winter/winter-storm-bozeman-forecast-oregon-idaho-washington-wyoming-colorado-20141113

 

Categories: On the Blog

Celebrating the Fall of the Berlin Wall

November 13, 2014, 4:59 PM

Twenty-five years ago this week, the most visible symbol of Communism and the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, saw its last days.

If America’s media weren’t so biased against capitalism and individual freedom, the fall of the Berlin Wall would be celebrated every year with an official federal holiday, fireworks, and parades in major cities. Really, millennials, it was that big a deal. It triggered and then symbolized the freeing of millions of people from government tyranny.

I cannot recommend more highly a visit to the website of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. As they note on the homepage this week, “The Berlin Wall fell, but Communism didn’t.” Millions live under the thumb of communist despotism in the miserable prison states of North Korea and Cuba — as if they are frozen in amber, living relics of a decades-over Cold War. China may be modern and business-friendly, but its people do not enjoy liberty. While the Berlin Wall came down and the communist East Germany crumbled, the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square to preserve Communism.

Watch the video below from the BBC. It’s a couple of  minutes, but you can feel the joy in the hearts of these Germans who waited a generation for the abominable wall to come down — to end the prison states of East Germany and East Berlin. No one has ever needed a wall to keep those who enjoy liberty from fleeing a country.

(An aside: It’s a shame that while the victims of communism have a memorial in Washington, DC, few know about it. Indeed, I’d guess most walk by it without even knowing what it is.  I lived in the DC area for eight years and I never heard of it. I’ve never seen it mentioned in a tourism brochure. I’ve never heard someone say: “Be sure to take your cousins over to the Victims of Communism Memorial.” I wonder why.)

Categories: On the Blog