I have not written anything of significance about the YG Network’s Room to Grow agenda, but Ross Douthat writes a piece here about an aspect of it, the child tax credit expansion, which I have criticized in the past, along with Scott Lincicome. It also provides a glimpse of an interesting underlying question about the motivations of reform on the right.
The politics of dramatically expanding the child tax credit entitlement (and yes, it is an entitlement) just don’t make all that much sense to me. Consider the landscape of America today, where more people are staying single longer and having fewer kids of their own volition, as they pretty much always do all over the world as cultures become more highly educated. These are not recent developments:
“Between 1970 and 2012, the share of households that were married couples with children under 18 halved from 40 percent to 20 percent. The proportion of one-person households increased by 10 percentage points between 1970 and 2012, from 17 percent to 27 percent. Between 1970 and 2012, the average number of people per household declined from 3.1 to 2.6.”
I understand that the people behind this agenda think this is a bad thing, and I largely agree (from a more libertarian perspective, intact families are the greatest hedge we have against the expansion of government, as it rushes in to do the things that intact families do). But why is it conservative or even an example of limited government to use tax policy to essentially reject that steady decision-making over the course of decades? Is it because there are too many young people voting for Republicans? Isn’t there something better that could be offered to single people 18-34 – a disturbing portion of whom are still living with their parents – without suggesting that they’re pursuing the wrong American dream if they’re unmarried or don’t have children?
How about instead cutting taxes for working Americans broadly by getting rid of the payroll tax entirely? You could even create big tax advantaged savings accounts attractive for families and for single people who don’t have retirement accounts through work – like Canada did, but perhaps with a large HSA component. If you assume that people still want to get married and have children, but are simply too burdened financially to do it… shouldn’t the obvious limited government policy solution here be about removing government-imposed burdens, not expanding an entitlement that subsidizes one portion of society and alienating those outside of it?
What is good for society may be good for the soul, but government policy ought to set that aside and instead focus on the idea that what is good for your wallet is good for society. This is something that Wall Street recognizes, where smart people are increasingly concerned about the consumer expenditure side of stagnant wages and slow family formation:
“The problem is that new jobs often pay less than the ones destroyed in the recession, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, which manages $66 billion in Chicago. “New jobs are coming through at lower wages. Collectively, people have fewer dollars in their wallets even though they have jobs again,” he said. That helps explain why consumer spending fell in April for the first time in a year, according to a May 30 Commerce Department report. Weak wage gains also are making it hard for the housing market to return to normal, Mr. Ablin said. He calculates that new single-family home construction is running at less than 500,000 a month. Demographics say it should be twice that, he said. “People are waiting longer to get married and they are having fewer kids,” Mr. Ablin said. That is making them delay home purchases. “It is certainly making us a little more cautious on the economy.”
The answer to this challenge is that we ought to reform the tax code just as we would seek to reform regulations and redistributive subsidies: to lower burdens on everyone so that they can make choices for themselves absent the market-warping force of government, not to merely reform to help people who live a certain way. Eliminate the ability to offer the carrot and the stick and just see what people do.
If you do this, people have the flexibility to pursue their own path – and many of these people who want families and homes but just can’t afford to go down that path (from their risk averse perspective) will start them and purchase them. Using the alternative approach amounts to slapping Band-aids over existing problems, and future administrations can always warp policies to help people who live the way they prefer (such as buying houses and college educations even if they can’t afford them or don’t need them). And back and forth and back and forth … and that’s how we got here in the first place.
This argument reminds me of a George Will quote cited in a little disagreement concerning Will’s evolution away from his book Statecraft As Soulcraft. Pete Wehner at the time wrote in defense of laws which more aggressively “shape the dispositions and habits of the polity”, which is just a nice way of saying it forced them to do or not do things that Wehner believes improved the country. By comparison, Will today is making the case for a different view, one which Jonah Goldberg found to be a positive development:
“And these [natural] rights are the foundation of limited government – government defined by the limited goal of securing those rights so that individuals may flourish in their free and responsible exercise of those rights. A government thus limited is not in the business of imposing its opinions about what happiness or excellence the citizens should choose to pursue. Having such opinions is the business of other institutions – private and voluntary ones, especially religious ones – that supply the conditions for liberty.”
Between the old Will and the newer, the latter seems like the better approach to reform in general, but particularly in the arena of taxation. And in the tug of war between those who favor an approach which “shapes the dispositions and habits of the polity” and one which does not impose its opinions about what happiness or excellence the citizens should choose to pursue, I suspect the limited side is winning the argument.
[Originally published at The Federalist]
We are lectured monotonously about the “consensus” that carbon dioxide produced by human activities is “highly likely to cause dangerous global warming”. The alarmist computer models are all based on this assumption, with predicted warming multiplied by also assuming strong positive feedbacks.
A consensus of opinion never determines a scientific question – real proof depends on evidence and logic. Consensus is a tool of politics and a guidepost for lemmings.
The so-called “Greenhouse Effect” depends entirely on the known property of carbon dioxide gas to intercept radiant heat in certain wavelengths. This process starts operating as soon as the extra gas enters the atmosphere.
If this influence is strong enough to drive “dangerous global warming”, its effect should be noticeable even in the short term, with Earth’s surface temperature increasing in step with increasing carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing for over a century, but global temperatures have fluctuated in broad cycles decades long, and there has been no warming for the last 17 years.
This evidence suggests that increasing carbon dioxide is not a major driver for dangerous global warming, no matter what the consensus says – even if a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
We may still get natural global warming, as the vast restless oceans roll over or the solar cycles change, but man-made carbon dioxide is not driving these processes. Moreover, a bit of warming is not our greatest risk – history shows that ice ages extinguish more species and habitats than warm eras.
The consensus of alarmists is trying to lynch an innocent party.
President Obama’s own Administration officially reports that the U.S. economy DECLINED by 1% in the first quarter of this year. That follows 1.9% reported total annual growth for all of 2013.
The U.S. economy sustained a real rate of economic growth of 3.3% from 1945 to 1973, and achieved the same 3.3% sustained real growth from 1982 to 2007. Before President Obama, it was only during the stagflation decade of 1973 to 1982, reflecting the deeply misguided reigning intellectual leadership of the time, that real growth fell to only half long term trends.
This 3.3% long term economic growth trend line is the minimum standard by which to judge President Obama’s economic performance. That sustained 3.3% real economic growth was the foundation for America’s world leading, post World War II, economic and military dominance, not battlefield victories 70 years ago (ok, those did help for a while too). As Brian Domitrovic explained in Econoclasts: The Rebels Who Sparked the Supply Side Revolution and Restored American Prosperity, “The unique ability of the United States to maintain a historic rate of economic growth over the long term is what has rendered this nation the world’s lone ‘hyperpower.’”
But President Obama should have done better than that, precisely because the economy was in recession when he entered office! That is because the American historical record is the deeper the recession the stronger the recovery, as the economy grows faster than average to catch back up to the long term trendline. That observation originally stemmed from Milton Friedman, the greatest economist of the 20th century. So it comes by way of a top pedigree.
It certainly worked that way under President Reagan. After the 1981-1982 recession that greeted him soon after entering office, the economy took off on a boom that lasted 92 months without a recession, until July, 1990, when the tax increases of the 1990 budget deal killed it. That set a new record for the longest peacetime expansion ever, the previous high in peacetime being 58 months.
During those 7 years, the economy grew by almost one-third, the equivalent of adding the entire economy of West Germany, the third largest in the world at the time, to the U.S. economy. In 1984 alone, real economic growth boomed by 6.8%, the highest in 50 years. President Obama has not had a year of economic growth even half that large.
Indeed, in the 11 post-Depression recessions before President Obama, the economy recovered all the GDP lost during the recession within an average of about a year (4.5 quarters) after the recession started. But it took Obama’s recovery 16 quarters, or 4 years, to reach that point. And the economy has bumbled along in slow growth stagnation since then. By sharp contrast, at this point in the Reagan recovery, the economy had boomed by over a fifth.
In fact, that Reagan recovery grew into a 25 year boom, from late 1982 until the end of 2007, with just slight interruptions by shallow, short recessions in 1990 and 2001. As Art Laffer and Steve Moore wrote in their book, The End of Prosperity,
“We call this period, 1982-2007, the twenty-five year boom – the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet. In 1980, the net worth – assets minus liabilities – of all U.S. households and business…was $25 trillion in today’s dollars. By 2007.…net worth was just shy of $57 trillion. Adjusting for inflation, more wealth was created in America in the twenty-five year boom than in the previous two hundred years.”
Similarly, Steve Forbes wrote in Forbes in 2008,
“Between the early 1980s and 2007 we lived in an economic Golden Age. Never before have so many people advanced so far economically in so short a period of time as they have during the last 25 years. Until the credit crisis, 70 million people a year [worldwide] were joining the middle class. The U.S. kicked off this long boom with the economic reforms of Ronald Reagan, particularly his enormous income tax cuts. We burst from the economic stagnation of the 1970s into a dynamic, innovative, high tech-oriented economy. Even in recent years the much maligned U.S. did well. Between year-end 2002 and year-end 2007 U.S. growth exceeded the entire size of China’s economy.”
In other words, the growth in the U.S. economy from 2002 to 2007 was the equivalent of adding the entire economy of China at the time to the U.S. economy.
The Hopeless President
So what is President Obama doing to inspire a real, booming recovery for the American economy at long last, now in the sixth year of his Presidency? On June 2, the EPA unveiled a new blanket of regulations (645 pages) that will only further smother economic growth and opportunity in America. The regulations would require the states to adopt policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) by 30% by 2030 from 2005 levels.
The states could each choose the policies to achieve that goal, such as a new tax on “carbon,” or “cap and trade” which means paying for limited permits for CO2 emissions, which come from burning fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal, and gasoline. This is what Obama meant when he privately told supporters at the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in 2008, “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity costs would necessarily skyrocket.”
These regulatory burdens would be like a new tax further squelching the economy with additional, artificial costs. In the 1970s, the Washington Establishment told us the bad economy was due to the oil price spikes caused by Arab oil embargoes. Now the Washington Establishment, which wildly supports shutting down the American economy, because the vast riches it can produce morally embarrass them, is telling us we have to do the same thing to ourselves.
David Rothbard, President of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, correctly explained the ultimate results of such regulatory madness in his column on June 3, writing, “Millions of Americans will endure lower quality of life and be unable to heat or cool their homes properly, pay their rent or mortgage, or save for college and retirement….As Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) points out, ‘A lot of people on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum are going to die.’” Manchin should be preparing to run for Senate Majority Leader next year, as a Republican.
The Wall Street Journal further explained on June 3, “Consumers may not realize how these regulations will affect their daily lives. Groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Brookings Institution support a policy known as ‘direct load control’ that would manage when you are allowed to run the air conditioner or washing machine.” Big Brother is here, watching you. Check out Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism.
Rothbard cites President Obama saying, “the costly regulations are needed to reduce ‘carbon pollution’ that he claims is making ‘extreme weather events’ like Superstorm Sandy ‘more common and more devastating.” But no honest, educated person can use the term “pollution” to refer to carbon dioxide emissions. For the easily manipulated, low information voters out there, carbon dioxide is not some toxic industrial gas. It is a natural substance essential for the survival of all life on the planet. Plants need CO2 to grow and conduct photosynthesis, which is the natural process that creates food for animals and fish at the bottom of the food chain.
Moreover, there is no demonstrated connection anywhere in what passes for “science” these days between CO2 emissions and Super Storm Sandy. As Rothbard accurately explains in regard to this whole global warming scare behind the regulations,
“[A]verage global temperatures have not risen in almost 18 years. We have now gone over eight years without a category 3-5 hurricane hitting the United States – the longest such period in over a century. Tornadoes are at a multi-decade low. Droughts are no more frequent or intense than since 1900. There were fewer than half as many forest fires last year as during the 1960s and 1970s. Sea levels rose just eight inches over the last 130 years and are currently rising at barely seven inches per century. There’s still ice on Lake Superior – in June.”
Sea levels have been rising, in fact, since the end of the last ice age, 12,000 years ago! But there has been no acceleration in the rate of that sea level rise for at least 200 years. There also is exactly zero real science to back up wildly manipulative claims that CO2 emissions cause asthma attacks or even heart attacks.
The Journal also correctly explained, “The irony is that all this [economic] damage will do nothing for climate change. Based on the EPA’s own carbon accounting, shutting down every coal-fired plant tomorrow and replacing them with zero carbon sources would reduce the Earth’s temperature by about one-twentieth of a degree Fahrenheit in a hundred years.”
Green v. Blue
Politically, all of this involves an historic, dramatic change of course for the Democrat Party, as the Journal further observed on June 4: “The [EPA’s] mammoth rule is an important political moment because it shows that national Democrats have come down decisively on the side of modern environmentalists over the working class voters who were once their base. The richer coasts dominated by gentry liberals now trump the union jobs of the Midwest.” In other words, Democrats have chosen green over blue. This opens up the same huge opportunities Reagan so successfully exploited to win over millions of Reagan Democrats. As Reagan used to say so often, “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party left me.”
When I began studying the concern over potentially catastrophic global warming years ago, I was shocked at how weak the argument for it was. It is basically broad theory which does not specify how much warming and when. And it is 73 climate models collected by the U.N. projecting catastrophic warming on our current course long term. But these models, which have never been validated, meaning they cannot even predict the past, are diverging farther and farther from real world temperatures. Global temperature records do not remotely track anywhere near rising carbon dioxide emissions over time, especially throughout the 20th century to today. The cyclical up and down temperature patterns track much more closely instead with the natural cycles of ocean churning currents, as cold water from the deep cycles up to slightly cool the planet for a couple of decades at a time, and cycles of sunspots and other solar activity.
The argument for ultimately catastrophic, man caused global warming has been corrupted by political correctness, political ideology, the special interest of governments in expanded power and authority, and billions in overwhelming government money paying to get the results desired. Bottom line: there is zero chance that the possibility of ultimately catastrophic, man caused global warming is greater than zero. The real world cannot bear trillions in artificial costs to satisfy the scientific equivalent of Lysenkoism.
Yes, you can cite scientific societies that have disgracefully sold out to this Lysenkoism. But in not one instance have the politically correct bureaucracies running those societies reached that conclusion by canvassing their members. Instead, in at least one instance a rebellion among the rank and file has forced the leadership to reevaluate by appointing worthy competing rival committees of alarmists versus skeptics to conduct an investigation of the issue. Following the results of that real debate will be highly illuminating.
For decision-makers in government and business who need to be sure and make responsible decisions, the full truth of the issue is completely and thoroughly discussed in the thousands of pages of Climate Change Reconsidered II, authored by dozens of serious, top scientists serving on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), and published this year in ultimately 3 volumes of thousands of pages each by the Heartland Institute. Those volumes are “double peer reviewed,” in that they discusses thousands of peer reviewed articles published in scientific journals, and are themselves peer reviewed. Last year, the Cato Institute published a thorough, comprehensive refutation of the publicly released draft of the National Climate Assessment, The Missing Science from the Draft National Assessment on Climate Change, by Patrick J. Michaels, et. al. You can learn more by attending the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change, to be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, July 7-9, with more than 1,000 scientists from around the world (where I will be speaking).
The scientific truth of the matter will be determined not by counting how many scientists or their professional societies take on side or another, but by counting the real world data on the issue, which intelligent laymen can judge by reading the sources above.
The bottom line is that when June, 2016 rolls around, when states are supposed to submit “compliance” plans to the EPA for approval, Governors should send letters explaining that they and their legislatures decided not to trash the economies of their states with unjustified “carbon taxes” or cap and trade burdens designed to ensure that their “electricity costs would necessarily skyrocket.” And if the EPA thinks that is not acceptable, the state will see them in court. Because under the Constitution, neither the EPA, nor the entire federal government, nor his majesty Barack Obama, have any authority to impose any penalty on any state if the state does not adopt some tax or costly, crippling regulatory burden.
This issue should be affecting now state political races between Democrats and Republicans for Governor, the legislature, and all other state offices. Let Democrats say vote for us and we will impose on you carbon taxes and cap and trade burdens under which your electricity costs will necessarily skyrocket. And let Republicans say vote for us and we will tell the Feds they can go to Hades.
Obamanomics: The De-development of America
It should be no surprise to anyone that President Obama’s economic policies have all but terminated any economic growth and opportunity in America. Because every one of those policies has been decisively anti- growth.
Obama has led increases in the top tax rates of virtually every major federal tax — income taxes, capital gains taxes, taxes on corporate dividends, death taxes, even payroll taxes. The only marginal tax rate he has not increased, the federal corporate tax rate, is already the highest in the world.
Obama has led massive increases in regulatory costs, burdens and barriers, from health care to finance to energy to see above.
Obama and his Administration have cheerled the Fed to pursue wild, zero interest rate monetary policies, buying up most national debt, for years now, laying the foundation for the future return of inflation.
The only pro-growth policy has been the sequester, and other cuts in spending, imposed on him, by the Republican House majority. But Obama is working mightily to reverse that, proposing to restore wild-eyed spending in every budget, and speech relating to the subject.
Some commenters have asserted that President Obama has failed to produce economic growth because Congressional Republicans refuse any compromise with him. But name any policy President Obama has proposed that would lead to more economic growth and jobs that Congressional Republicans have refused to support. You can’t, because there isn’t one. Some of you are so easy for professional politicians to fool.
The real explanation for what is going on here with Obamanomics was actually revealed years ago by the President’s Science advisor, John Holdren. Holdren said, “A massive campaign must be launched to…de-develop the United States…bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation….We must design a stable, low consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth.”
And that is what you have with the President’s economic policies, a massive campaign to de-develop the United States. Even I have to say, if that is what the President’s plan is, it’s working.
For any other President engaged in this, we would have to impeach him for pursuing such a war on his own people. But in this case, Obama just represents the true heart and soul of his own party, which protects and enables him in this foolish endeavor. So the conclusion to take away: don’t blame President Obama, blame the Democrat Party, which you have a clear chance to do this fall.
It is often truly astonishing to me the harm done by the way the federal government was expanded well beyond its constitutional limits during the 1930’s New Deal era. One dramatic example is the government’s role in the housing mortgage loan marketplace.
I recently read a commentary by Steve Stanck, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, whose title was “Don’t Replace Fannie and Freddie; End Them.” He began by pointing out that “For every 100 mortgages being sold in the United States these days, at least 94% of them have government backing.”
Fannie is shorthand for the Federal National Mortgage Association and Freddie is short for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Both are referred to as “government sponsored enterprises” and Stanck points out that “The housing market was nearly ruined several years ago, and the government’s involvement is a big reason” because, before the 2008 financial crisis, both “were bundling mortgages into mortgage-backed securities and selling them to investors”, primarily banks.
Still largely unknown to the public, the financial crisis was triggered on September 15, 2008 when the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous drawdown of money market accounts in the U.S. amounting to $550 billion dollars in the matter of an hour or two. This was revealed in a 2008 congressional closed door session and later reported by Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania. Had the Federal Reserve not closed down the accounts by 2 PM that day, the entire economy would have collapsed, followed by the world economy a day later.
To this day, the identity of those who initiated the withdrawal has not been revealed, but the banks that were heavily invested in Fannie and Freddie’s bundled mortgage-backed securities were most at risk. Those securities were regarded as a safe investment precisely because both are, as noted, “government-sponsored enterprises”, implying that they were backed by the government—taxpayers.
When the housing bubble burst in 2008, the federal government put Fannie and Freddie into conservatorship “and handed them $188 billion to stay afloat. The actions of both entities had artificially lowered mortgage interest rates in order to increase home buying and required lenders—banks—to loan money to riskier borrowers.
As Brian M. Carney noted in a July 26, 2010 Wall Street Journal editorial opinion, “The official version of the housing boom and bust, and subsequent panic and recession, tells us that greedy bankers took unacceptable risks, assumed too much leverage, made irresponsible loans, and left the government to clean up the mess. The causes of the crisis, in this version, include banker bonuses, deregulation ideology and predatory lending. Most of this is nonsense.”
Carney noted that “There’s simply no room in this story for two giant government-sponsored enterprises that distorted the housing and credit markets…” Those would be Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Stanck notes that there is a bill in Congress to “wind down Fannie and Freddie. This is good. But they want to replace those organizations with private mortgage bond issuers who would each have government guarantees back by a new entity called the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation. This is bad.”
It is bad for the same reason that Fannie and Freddie are bad. The government needs to get out of the mortgage loan business. The bill barely squeaked through the Senate Banking Committee on May 15 with minimal support.
The new entity that the bill would create would charge fees to the private mortgage bond issuers—“fees that would be based on how many people in ‘underserved’ demographic groups receive mortgages” leading to “more of the subprime lending that played such a big role in the most recent housing mortgage collapse.” It is nothing more than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a new name.
Stanck sensibly says “Let borrowers and lenders strike their own deals without government meddling. In that way, mortgage interest rates would better reflect true risk, there’d be almost no way for legislators to inject corruption and cronyism into the system, and taxpayers would not be at risk of shelling out more hundreds of billions of dollars.”
You may read or hear that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are returning to solvency, able to turn a profit in the first quarter of 2014 and this is true. Those profits are going straight into the U.S. Treasury to resolve their debt incurred when they were bailed out. When they pay it back, they should, as Stanck says, be ended, not replaced.
So long as they exist, another housing boom and bust, and another financial collapse will repeat what occurred in 2008.
On May 16th, Jay Lehr, science director at The Heartland Institute went on “Your World with Neil Cavuto” to discuss the issue of living in high risk areas. Lehr argues that the current system requires serious change in order to more justly deal with individuals who choose to live in high risk areas. Lehr explains how the current system allows individuals to live in high risk areas like San Diego with minimal regulations or burdens. Considering the high activity of fire fighters in places like San Diego, Lehr believes that those who choose to live in such locations should pay an increased tax. Instead of placing the tax burden of compensating fire fighters and other public servants on everyone in the area, Lehr calls for a shift of that burden onto those who choose to live in particularly high risk areas.
Cavuto went on to ask Lehr about other risks, such as floods or hurricanes. While he adamantly defends the individual’s freedom to choose their place of residence, Lehr also advises caution. He argues that some regulation is necessary. For example, Lehr references Ohio’s policy that disallows the construction of permanent structures on 100 year flood plains. This regulation exists to combat the risk of serious flooding and avert any potential disaster. Lehr argues for vigilance and flexibility in these regulations as new information continues to come to light about high risk areas.
Lehr and Cavuto go on to discuss the issue of homeowners being grandfathered into new building codes and regulations. Lehr outlines the foolishness of such a system. He contends that all homeowners, regardless of when they move into an area, should be required to abide by the newest codes and regulations. Such a requirement comes at a small price and carries the potential for huge reward.
The VA (Veterans Administration) scandals show why so many people have been so highly motivated for so long to fight against Obamacare. That is because of the perfectly rational fear that Obamacare will end up doing to the entire American health care system what the VA has done to health care for America’s veterans.
Many have already commented that the VA system is actually pure socialized medicine. The government doesn’t just pay for health care or health insurance under the system for our nation’s veterans. The government actually builds and owns the hospitals and their clinics, and hires the doctors and nurses, who serve as government employees. The government then finances the operation of these facilities, actually providing the health care directly itself. Those eligible for VA benefits then go to these government facilities to get their health care.
This is basically how the notorious British National Health Service (NHS) operates. I say notorious because the National Health Service is famous for running a strict rationing system, with the government determining who gets what health care and when, and deciding who gets told when its time to go home and die. In my 2011 book, I suggested that Britain’s National Health Service is probably responsible for the deaths of more British subjects than the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. But a thorough study would be necessary to document that.
The NHS does not do this out of malevolence. It does it because when the government is dispensing free health care, there must be some means to control costs. With no market prices, incentives, or competition to control costs, the only choice is for the government to decide when the money train stops at the station to let some off. Ironically, a system originally adopted supposedly so everyone could get health care becomes an institutionalized means for deciding when some shall be denied health care.
The British people accept the cold, calculating, health care rationing of the NHS because of a social belief that it is necessary for everyone to get health care. That is deluded because market competition and incentives will work in health care the same as for everything else. But when social mores prevent anyone from questioning the status quo, and alternatives from being considered, the people and the society suffer. That is essentially the same social process more generally which left many societies around the world stagnant with no economic growth for centuries going back to the Dark Ages. British health care could ultimately be liberated by starting social experiments with Health Savings Accounts, which would teach eye opening social lessons.
America’s VA, with all market prices, incentives and competition excluded from the system, operates with similar health care rationing. The VA is given a “global budget” each year that it can spend for health care for our nation’s veterans and no more. With no prices or competition for anyone in the system to weigh costs against benefits, the only way total costs for essentially free health care can be kept within that budget is for the VA bureaucracy to deny health care through some form of rationing. That is primarily accomplished within America’s social mores with long wait times for the free VA health care granted to veterans, effectively denying or at least stretching out health costs.That is why Larry Kudlow is so right when he says in his May 23 column, “The VA problem is not Shinseki, it’s socialism.” That is why America’s VA operates like the socialized medicine systems of Great Britain, Canada, and continental Europe, with long delays for the sick to obtain necessary health care, and other bureaucratic means of reducing access to quality care to control costs (again without consumer choice and market competition to control costs, there must be some means to control costs). These problems are so serious that at dozens of veterans are now documented to have suffered premature deaths due to lack of health care, and the full scope of the problem may involve the same for many more.
The problem is not inadequate spending on the VA, which socialist Democrats are trying to argue. As John Merline reported in Investor’s Business Daily on May 20, from 2000 to 2013, VA spending nearly tripled while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million. Moreover, as Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute reports, 344,000 veterans’ care claims are now backed up and waiting to be processed. But it takes 160 days, almost half a year, for health benefits approval. For those who have to appeal a decision, the wait is 1,598 days, or more than four years.
Forbes’ own Avik Roy in his thorough May 23 column explains how America fell into the VA experiment with socialized medicine. The roots of the VA go all the way back to 1827, before the modern American health care system had even developed. So the federal government itself had to establish homes for disabled military veterans, and facilities to provide the more rudimentary health care of the time.
By the end of World War II, the VA was responsible for a burgeoning veterans population including aging veterans from World War I as well. This population swamped the available health care at the time. So the VA undertook the burden of sharply expanding the supply of hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities. From 1930 to 1947, the number of VA hospitals more than doubled, from 54 to 120. Today, the VA maintains and operates 153 hospitals, and with 300,000 mostly medical employees, it is the second largest department of the federal government.
But America’s private health care system is all grown up now, and the best in the world, by far in my opinion, in providing critical health care to the sick. Just consider premature babies, and the miracles America’s health care system achieves with those born less than a foot long, and less than a pound in weight. No other country even really tries to save these most vulnerable newborns today. But in America they now almost routinely are saved to grow up and lead normal lives. Or compare the health care and survival and recovery rates of America’s seniors with those of the same age in any other country.
America’s veterans now would do far better participating in this same private health care system, along with everyone else. That can be achieved by dividing up the VA budget in equal shares for every veteran, and freeing them to use those sums to help purchase the private health insurance of their choice. That would include Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which maximize the freedom of control and choice by patients over their own health care, and their own health care dollars. Such HSAs are also the only health policy innovation that have proven to control health costs in the real world, without a third party empowered to deny health care to the patient.
Similar reforms can and should be extended to liberate the poor on Medicaid to obtain better health coverage and care of their own choice. Block grants of federal Medicaid funds back to the states, which were so successful in reforming the old New Deal, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in 1996, could be adopted while giving the states broad authority to reform Medicaid to best suit the poor in their state. Each state could then experiment with providing the poor with vouchers that could be used to help pay for the health insurance of their choice, including again HSAs. The voters of each state would then decide how much should be given in assistance at each income level to assure that the poor would be able to buy essential health insurance.
Some states might choose to reform their Medicaid programs primarily focusing on providing the poor on Medicaid with HSAs, like Indiana has recently done. Or they might focus more on covering the poor with managed care programs, like Rhode Island has recently done. Or they might leave the choice completely to each poor family. The important point is that broad opportunities exist for states to assure the poor much better access to essential health care than Medicaid currently does, like both Indiana and Rhode Island have done, even with more efficient control of Medicaid spending.
Such reforms should also be extended to replacing Obamacare, with much broader benefits. Because Obamacare is not only a serious threat to the quality and supply of American health care. It also is a major drag on the American economy, due primarily to the costly regulatory burdens imposed by the program, and the perverse, counterproductive incentives involved.
The employer mandate is the source of much of the problem. The mandate raises the cost of employment, and so results in less of it. This effect is exacerbated by the high cost of the health insurance the Obamacare law requires to satisfy the mandate. That is in the process of raising costs even for employers that already provide health insurance for their workers.
President Obama recognizes this, which is why he has unilaterally and without legal authority delayed implementation of the employer mandate required by the Obamacare law, for years now. He knows, in fact, that the high costs of the Obamacare employer mandate will perversely and counterproductively cause millions to lose the employer provided health insurance they already have.
Because employers and the labor market plan ahead, we have already seen real world effects of this problem. Since the employer mandate only applies to full time employment involving 30 hours a week or more, millions of workers have already seen their hours cut back to part time work below the 30 hours a week threshold. And millions of others have already dropped out of the work force, because they have given up on finding work. This is all documented in the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The real world effects can also be seen in the badly lagging U.S. economic growth we have now long suffered under Obama, as the economy never has fully recovered from the recession, which is now years overdue based on the American historical record.
This means that Obamacare can be replaced with reforms that would have major pro-growth effects, spurring the economy to return to the world leading economic growth and prosperity deeply ingrained in America’s heritage. Such reforms are needed as well to prevent Obamacare from deteriorating into single payer, socialized medicine, similar to the VA, regardless of the foolish sentiments favoring precisely that we hear from Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other “Progressives.” That can be done while more assuredly achieving the original supposed goal of Obamacare of health care for all.
Even the Congressional Budget Office, which we too easily forget is a bastion of the Washington establishment, has always foreseen that Obamacare would not achieve anywhere near universal coverage, estimating that 30 million would still be uninsured 10 years after full implementation! For careful, reasoned observers, it is not even clear whether Obamacare so far is reducing rather than increasing the number of uninsured, as millions have already lost their health insurance, with millions more to come once the employer mandate is implemented, especially apart from just expanding Medicaid, which adds even more to unmanageable, long term entitlement costs.
By extending similar reforms to those proposed above for both the VA and Medicaid to the replacement of Obamacare, we can, in fact, assure health care for all, with no individual mandate, no employer mandate, sharply reduced regulatory burdens more broadly, and trillions in reduced federal spending and taxes over the years. John Goodman, President of the National Center for Policy Analysis, has long advocated a universal health insurance tax credit for all, which everyone could use to help purchase the private health insurance of their choice. That would involve broadening out the tax preference currently provided only for employer provided health insurance to everyone. He is now advocating a credit of $2,500 per person per year, which would not completely finance essential health insurance, but provide help and an incentive for it, just like the tax preference for employer provided health insurance does not completely finance, but does provide help and effective incentive for it.
That credit can be used by those on Medicaid to opt out of it for the private health insurance of their choice, including HSAs. Concomitantly, it can be used to opt into Medicaid, assuring coverage for any pre-existing condition is always available. Those with employer provided coverage can still use the credit for alternative private coverage of their choice if they prefer, again including HSAs. This provides working people with a critical check and balance on their employers, assuring access to the health care of their choice, even when their employer plan does not. For any worker who does not use the credit to purchase private coverage, the $2,500 for the year goes to indigent care facilities in the worker’s local area.
Along with Medicaid block grants to the states, which states could use in part to finance uninsurable risk pools for the uninsured, such reforms would feasibly assure health care for everyone. At the same time, these reforms would be more broadly pro-growth. With no employer mandate requiring the purchase of very costly health insurance for every employee, the cost of employment would be substantially reduced, encouraging more jobs, and higher wages. There would be no longer be any incentive to cut working people back to part time hours. Eliminating the costly Obamacare regulatory requirements on insurance, along with the broader availability of cost reducing HSAs, would reduce unnecessary health costs, further boosting the economy with an effective tax cut for everyone. Reducing taxes and federal spending due to Obamacare by trillions over future years would further enhance economic growth and general prosperity for all. Republicans in Congress are presently drafting such an alternative to Obamacare.
All of this comprehensive health care liberation, from the VA, to Medicaid, to Obamacare, would mean ultimately better health care for all, along with helping to restore economic growth and prosperity, and the American Dream.
[Originally published at Forbes]
Listening to President Obama respond on May 21 to the latest scandal regarding something about which he knew and did nothing—the mess at the Veterans Administration—was such a familiar event that I have reached a point of exhaustion trying to keep up with everything that has been so wrong about his six years in office. As he always does, he said was really angry about it.
Writing in the May 20 Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin said, “Forget ideology for a moment. Whether you are liberal or conservative, the Obama presidency’s parade of miscues is jaw-dropping.”
Stacked against the list of Obama scandals and failures, Rubin could only cite the Bush administration’s 2005 handling of Hurricane Katrina, the seventh most intense ever, and, as anyone familiar with that event will tell you, the failure of FEMA’s response was matched by the failures of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and the New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Bush had declared a national emergency two days before it hit the Gulf coast.
Rubin concluded that the Obama administration scandals “reflect the most widespread failure of executive leadership since the Harding administration”, adding “The presidency is an executive job. We hire neophytes at our peril. When there is an atmosphere in which accountability is not stressed you get more scandals and fiascos.”
Obama spent his entire first term blaming all such things on his predecessor, George W. Bush, until it became a joke.
One has to wonder about the effect of the endless succession of scandals and fiascos have had on Americans as individuals and the nation as a whole.
While it is easier to lay all the blame on Obama, the fact is that much of the blame is the result of a federal government that is so big no President could possibly know about the countless programs being undertaken within its departments and agencies, and all the Presidents dating back to Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive initiatives have played a role in growing the government.
It is, however, the President who selects the cabinet members responsible to manage the departments as well as those appointed to manage the various agencies. Kathleen Sebelius, the recently resigned former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for the implementation of Obamacare, comes to mind. She had solicited donations—against the law—from the companies HHS regulates to help her sign up uninsured Americans for Obamacare and signed off on the millions spent on HealthCare.gov and other expenses leading up to its start.
There are lists of the Obama scandals you can Google. One that continues to fester is the attack on September 11, 2012—the anniversary of 9/11—that killed an American ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi, Libya. It has been and continues to be investigated, mostly because of the lies told by Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of “What difference at this point does it make?” fame. Clinton was asked what she had accomplished in her four years as Secretary and was unable to name anything.
Eric Holder, our Attorney General, continues in office despite having been held in contempt of Congress, professing that he knew nothing about “Fast and Furious”, the earliest scandal involving a gun-running scheme to Mexican drug cartels by the ATF presumably to track them, but they lost track and many were used in crimes including the killing of a Border Patrol agent.
Holder also told Congress that he was not associated with the “potential prosecution” of a journalist even though he had signed the affidavit that named Fox News reporter, James Rosen. as a potential criminal. Holder was also in charge when the Justice Department culled the phone records of Associated Press reporters to find out who they deemed was leaking information.
Keeping track of the solar power and other “renewable” and “Green” energy companies like Solyndra that received millions in grants and then rather swiftly went bankrupt became a fulltime effort and, of course, there was the “stimulus” that wasted billions without generating any “shovel ready jobs” qualifies as a fiasco.
In the midst of the recession that was triggered by the 2008 financial crisis various elements of the Obama administration continued to spend money in ways that suggested their indifference. In 2010 the General Services Administration held a $823,000 training conference in Las Vegas, complete with a clown and mind readers.
An Agriculture Department program to compensate black farmers who allegedly had been discriminated against by the agency turned into a gravy train that delivered several billion dollars to thousands of recipients, some of whom probably had not encountered discrimination.
The Veterans Affairs agency made news when it spent more than $6 million on two conferences in Orlando, Florida, and is back in the news for revelations about alleged falsified records concerning the waiting times veterans faced amidst assertions that many died while waiting for treatment surfaced. This was a problem of which the then-Senator Obama was already aware, but six years into his presidency it still existed despite his early promises to fix it.
Obama has been the biggest of Big Government Presidents since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, and Obamacare put the federal government in control of one sixth of the nation’s economy while putting the government in charge of the care Americans expect to receive. Obamacare will dwarf the problems associated with the Veterans agency.
Meanwhile, we have been living with a President who is so indifferent to working with Congress that he has gained fame for his use of executive orders such as the decision to not deport illegal immigrants. His aides have promised more executive orders.
All this over the course of the last six years has left Americans exhausted by the incompetence and wastefulness of an administration that now presides over the highest national debt in the history of the nation and the first ever downgrade of our credit rating.
It has also left them angry if they were conservatives and disillusioned if they were Obama supporters. The Veterans Administration scandal is likely a tipping point for the independent voters and even for longtime Democrats who will want a change.
It is increasingly likely that the November midterm elections give the Republican Party control over the Senate as well as the House and then to hope that it will begin to rein in the spending and save the nation from a financial collapse that will rival the one in 2008.
© Alan Caruba, 2014
2013 was one of the quietest wildfire years in U.S. history, according to objective data from the federal government’s National Interagency Fire Center. The 47,000 wildfires last year may seem like a very large number – and it certainly gives global warming alarmists like Brown plenty of fodder for misleading global warming claims – but the 47,000 wildfires was less than half the average number of wildfires that occurred each year in the 1960s and 1970s. Importantly, the Earth was in a cooling phase during the 1960s and 1970s when so many more wildfires occurred.
The unusually quiet 2013 fire season continued a long-term trend in declining wildfires. From 1962 through 1982, for example, at least 100,000 wildfires occurred in the United States every year. Since 1982, however, not a single year has registered 100,000 wildfires. During the past decade, an average of 73,000 wildfires occurred each year. During the 1970s, by contrast, an average of 155,000 wildfires occurred each year.
The 2014 wildfire season, moreover, has been relatively quiet so far. The total number of wildfires is well below the 1962-2013 average, and is even below the average for the past decade. Even so, the below-average 22,000 wildfires so far this year give global warming alarmists plenty of opportunities to mislead the public about the scientific facts.
The long-term decline in wildfires reflects an ongoing improvement in global soil moisture and an ongoing decline in global drought.
A scientific study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hydrology reports, “Evidence indicates that summer soil moisture content has increased during the last several decades at almost all sites having long-term records in the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank.”
Similarly, a scientific study in the peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters reports, “An increasing trend is apparent in both model soil moisture and runoff over much of the U.S. … This wetting trend is consistent with the general increase in precipitation in the latter half of the 20th century. Droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the country over the last century.”
Droughts and wildfires have always occurred and will always occur. While global warming is reducing the frequency of droughts and wildfires, global warming will not completely eradicate droughts and wildfires. They will continue from time to time despite their long-term decline. This allows alarmists and political responsibility-shirkers like Jerry Brown to blame global warming and his political opponents for the relatively few droughts and wildfires that still do occur.
Jerry Brown can invent his own political narrative but he cannot invent his own scientific facts.
[Originally published at Forbes]
At a Chicago fundraiser May 29, 2013, President Obama said “I don’t have much patience for people who deny climate change.” At his swearing in ceremony May 21, 2013, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz declared he is “not interested in debating what is not debatable.” These remarks echo long-standing pleas of climate alarmists the “science is settled” with regards to burning fossil fuels causing catastrophic global warming.
Would these statements come from true scientists interested in pursuing truth about whether carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel is a global threat? The remarks are very clear about United States government policies with regard to education or research on climate science. If proposed education materials or research don’t support abandoning fossil fuels, go somewhere else for financial support and airing your views. Close the door on the way out.
UN REPORTS BIASED
From the preceding remarks it is apparent bias toward accepting as fact carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the driver for climate change the past century. Support for carbon dioxide threats are a series of 5 Assessment Reports by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) released since 1990. To counteract omissions, half-truths, and false statements in these reports, the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was formed in 2003. Since 2009, the NIPCC has released 6 Reports that give authoritative, easily-read information about vast amount of experimental data showing negligible influence of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels on climate, benefits of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, financial losses from mitigation, and proper role of adapting to climate change. The NIPCC is supported by three non-profit organizations—Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Science and Environmental Policy Project, and The Heartland Institute.
COMMON CORE SCIENCE
The science portion of Common Core called “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas” is written from material provided by The National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The report is 400 pages and I examined PART II: Dimension 7 dealing with Earth and Space Sciences from pages 169 to 201. The coverage is cursory due to the shortness of material. Part ESS3.D: Global Climate Change covers global warming from pages 196-199. The coverage mentions computer models are used for predicting future climate and weather conditions for the planet. The report claimed, “However, it is clear not only that human activities play a major role in climate change but also that impacts of climate change—for example, increased frequency of severe storms due to ocean warming—have begun to influence human activities . The prospect of future impacts of climate change due to further increases in atmospheric carbon is prompting consideration of how to avoid or restrict such increases.” There is insufficient coverage that computer models fail to replicate what happens in the future when data for comparisons are available. In my opinion climate models should not be included in K-12 education because our understanding of forces influencing climate is incomplete and model’s failure to be validated. Material in the book does not make this clear.
Four references are cited at the end of the discussion. One is the 2009 Report “Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Change” by the United States Global Change Research Project (USGCRP) which contains scary predictions for the future of the world because of global warming. One example is “C. The impacts of climate change may affect the security of nations. Reduced availability of water, food, and land can lead to competition and conflict among humans, potentially resulting in large groups of climate refugees.” The material says carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is causing global warming which is a highly controversial topic.
No doubt numerous copies of the 2009 USGCRP Report will be sent to schools as reference material showing fossil fuel use should be abandoned in order to save the planet. This report, and other U. S. government printed reports, provides numerous reference materials to indoctrinate students to accept catastrophic climate change is occurring unless fossil fuel use is abandoned. This all confirms political bias on climate change shown by remarks of President Obama and Energy Secretary Moniz.
The 32 pages of a 400-page report convinced me global warming science should not be used in education of students at the K-12 level. More material of this nature could be in the NAS Report. This is sufficient reason to abandon the science education portion of Common Core.
The official website for the PUBLIC BROADCAST SERVICE provides discussions of the following features of Common Core: (1) Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science, (2) National Science Education Standards, (3) A Framework for K-12 Science Education, and (4) Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Properties. The threat of catastrophic global warming due to carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is again emphasized in areas outside the science portion of Common Core.
More climate science education material is provided by the NAS, in conjunction with The Royal Society, with the February 27 release of Climate Change: Evidence and Causes. This booklet is highly criticized for inaccuracies and ethical lapses in a paper by James Rust “U.S. National Academy of Sciences: Doubling Down on Climate Alarmism (and taking science down a notch with it)”.
On April 15, NAS released an interactive version of Climate Change: Evidence and Causes booklet with the following announcement: “Attention teachers, NGOs, and other organizations with public interfaces. The National Academies has developed a new sharable, interactive version of “Climate Change: Evidence and Causes”, the booklet produced jointly with The Royal Society that was released in February 2014. Users can click on any one of the 20 questions in the document and jump to related information throughout the document. The interactive is embeddable on third party sites. Explore the interactive and find the embed code here.”
More reasons to assume NAS plans to be a major source of information for the science portion of Common Core.
On May 6, 2014, USGCRP issued its third National Climate Assessment that predicted a scary future for the United States broken down into regions. No attention is given to history showing no increases in hurricanes, tornados, ocean level rise, wild fires, droughts, floods, etc. over the past century when atmospheric carbon dioxide increases were not taking place. This report most likely will be additional reference material for Common Core.
UNITED KINGDOM AND AUSTRALIA EXPERIENCES
The United Kingdom’s Global Warming Policy Foundation issued a report“ Climate Control—Brainwashing In Schools “. Statements in the Report’s Executive Summary are as follows: “We find instances of eco-activism being given a free rein within schools and at the events schools encourage their pupils to attend. In every case of concern, the slant is on scares, on raising fears, followed by the promotion of detailed guidance on how pupils should live, as well as on what they should think. In some instances, we find encouragement to create ‘little political activists’ in schools by creating a burden of responsibility for action on their part to ‘save the planet’, not least by putting pressure on their parents.… Surveys show that many children are upset and frightened by what they are told is happening to the climate.”
In the main body of the report is the statement, “The chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri has suggested that a focus on children is the top priority for bringing about societal change, and that by ‘sensitizing’ children to climate change, it will be possible to them to ‘shame adults into taking the right steps’”.
An April 12, article in The Telegraph by Christopher Booker “No A-level for ‘climate change denier” criticizes climate science education in the United Kingdom being illegal because it makes a mockery of the 1996 Education Act that requires students be taught in a balanced way that allows them to form their own views on evidence. Mr. Booker wrote, “So relentless is this brainwashing that it percolates throughout the curriculum, so that even exam papers in French, English or religious studies can ask students to explain why the world is dangerously warming up, or why we must build more wind turbines.”
Australia has a similar problem of climate science corrupting education in a paper titled “Schools places of indoctrination rather than learning”. The report cited, “The current Australian Curriculum is full of references to “sustainability”, which is a concept without any intelligible meaning in most of the contexts in which it is used, apart from in the very short-term.”
PROPAGANDA AND EDUCATION FOR YOUTH
Another approach to outcomes of teaching climate science to young people is reported by Robert Bradley Jr. in his paper “Adults Reject Climate Catastrophe, Alarmists Bring In the Children (thoughts on Hansen’s latest)”. Mr. Bradley protested the rhetoric of climate alarmist’s labeling those who disagree with carbon-dioxide-caused global warming as “deniers” implying they are in league with those who are “Holocaust deniers”. The Holocaust is a tragedy occurring during the reign of terror from Hitler’s National Socialism.
After a meeting with children at a Plant-for-the-Planet meeting in Seattle, Dr. James Hansen wrote “Children and Adults on Climate Policy: Evidence that They ‘Get It’”. The children wanted to put a “price on carbon pollution”, “pledge no new carbon pollution”, and “plant trees”. Naturally Plant-for-the-Plant was founded in Munich, Germany.
Other exploitations of children are done by organizations like Our Children’s Trust and Kids vs. Global Warming that claim action is needed to force abandoning use of fossil fuels to save the future for children. A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently denied oral arguments from these groups suit under the Public Trust Doctrine.
National Socialism used the Hitler Youth from 1922 to 1945 to train young men to be obedient to their goals, enforce their rulings, and provide fanatical defense of the Fatherland. This use of propaganda and brainwashing to enlist support of the young is analogous to attempts to enlist young people in promoting climate change due to fossil fuel use is a threat to society.
A link between National Socialism and Conservation movements is reported by German historian Frank Uekoetter’s The Green and the Brown: a History of Conservatism in Nazi Germany published by Cambridge Press in 2006. A detailed review of this book is written by William Walter Kay. The conservation movement started in Germany in the late nineteenth century and found easy mixing with National Socialism with conservationists having memberships in their local groups and the National Socialist Party. Millions of trees were planted in the name of Adolf Hitler.
It is easy for teachers to be caught up in promoting teachings of the catastrophic climate change movement because of “warm feelings” from working to save the planet. Over-zealous teachers, perhaps in concert with environmental groups, may wish to develop slogans, songs, T-shirts, and even arm bands for students to use to help spread the gospel of human-caused global warming. An example of a song can be changes to the song “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” from the 1972 musical Cabaret. Who can resist the words, “But somewhere a glory awaits unseen. Tomorrow belongs to me.”
Potentials for mischief to the country over teachings of perverted science are enormous.
Thus playing tit-for-tat, Mr. Bradley suggests we could label brainwashed youth from Common Core and other programs “Climate Youth”. In fairness to Mr. Bradley, he correctly states this name-calling and comparisons with National Socialism should cease immediately.
DROP COMMON CORE SCIENCE
Even greater dangers from science portions of Common Core are teaching people to accept the political use of science and not follow fundamental principles of scientific inquiry–propose a theory about the behavior of Nature and continually test that theory by experiment. Never accept propositions of “science is settled”. Additional problems are painting the planet’s future in a dismal fashion with reduced living standards and poverty for many parts of the planet. This may lead to psychological damage to students.
The United States has vast fossil fuel energy resources; an inventive, resourceful population; and one million square miles of farm land with the best farmers on the planet. With correct policies exploiting our superior assets, the future of the United States is bright and the nation can be of great assistance leading the rest of the planet to an enhanced life.
Our science programs should stimulate students to be adept in analysis and have an inquiring mind. Never be exposed to ideas of “the science is settled”. It is my opinion the science portion of Common Core is dangerous for the country. Damage from its implementation for a few decades could harm the country for many years.
The entire Common Core program provides opportunities to instill propaganda in our young people ages 5 to 18. Common Core should be discarded from an intellectual point of view. The program also provides opportunity for unbelievable amounts of “crony capitalism”. States most likely will have increased financial burdens due to greater expenses from testing, which is another strong reason for Common Core’s rejection.
James H. Rust is a retired professor of nuclear engineering and a policy adviser for The Heartland Institute
With his renomination this week, prepare for a slew of “how Mitch McConnell crushed the Tea Party” pieces over the next few days. Here’s a good one from Peter Hamby. But the story reads less like a crushing than a co-opting: not just in tropes like coming out on stage brandishing a musket, but in McConnell’s hires, issue framing, and language.
McConnell won by carefully eliminating the ability of a Rand Paul-backed opponent within his state. For all the talk about Tea Party prowess in primaries, they really have not beaten many incumbents – and the combined power of incumbency and the Washington money machine can only be beaten by a really excellent candidate or a well-run grassroots campaign.
Over the past five years, the Tea Party’s agenda and efforts have been subsumed into the larger Republican mantras in a number of ways. Their movement is now effectively one more chunk of the Republican base – and just as different candidates appeal to different factions (social conservatives, defense hawks, small business), the Tea Party’s priorities are heeded or ignored to different degrees. McConnell’s approach has been to sound the gong on all sorts of Tea Party issues this election season, and this has been the approach adopted by several others as well – Thom Tillis was full-throated on the Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, Jack Kingston and David Perdue did their best to depict themselves as having an affinity to the more palatable aspects of the Tea Party agenda, and Monica Wehby made Obamacare issue number one for her campaign.
To a certain extent, McConnell, Eric Cantor, and other establishment figures are conceding a key premise of the Tea Party’s complaint: that the Republican status quo is unacceptable, that it’s damaged in a fundamental way, and needs a serious overhaul in order to win. The Tea Party wants that overhaul to look a certain way, and the establishment and the party’s corporate backers want it to look a certain way; but the majority of both factions seem to be arriving at the conclusion that in 2016, it won’t just amount to getting the band back together for the typical three-legged stool candidate. It’ll have to be someone who alters the Republican agenda in one direction or another, or takes pieces from each side and cobbles them together in an appeal which cuts across traditional lines.
John Hart, communications director for Tom Coburn, notes this accurately:
[T]he transformation of McConnell’s campaign from 2008 to 2014 shows the overwhelming persuasive and redemptive power of the Tea Party. In 2008, the Senate minority leader ran a series of ads touting his success at bringing home the bacon. In 2014, his campaign had lost that aroma. McConnell himself helped end earmarks in 2010 and recently said no to Majority Leader Harry Reid’s call to restore the disgraced practice. McConnell’s evolving message shows how the real Tea Party can co-opt and win over the GOP establishment when it sticks to its principles.
In fact, thanks to the Tea Party, the old-style “bring home the bacon” campaigns have largely been wiped off the electoral map. Even Democrats have joined the Tea Party’s anti-pork campaign. Mark Udall, Claire McCaskill and Elizabeth Warren have all vocally opposed earmarks, a rare challenge to Reid’s rigid party discipline. The Tea Party’s influence, of course, extends well beyond earmarks. In race after race, candidates are embracing its message of less government, less spending, less regulation and more freedom, particularly on Obamacare.
The problem, of course, is that if you win, this campaign season lip service has ramifications for the policy agenda you actually put forward. If a McConnell-led Senate majority makes battling Obamacare about insurance bailouts, it’s different than if they make it about repealing the medical device tax. The simple truth is that the establishment and the Tea Party need each other to win, just like McConnell needed Rand and Rand’s people to avoid a serious challenge.
There’s risk for the establishment in this, of course. Republicans who espouse a populist conservative agenda to get a job and then implement a K Street agenda will have to deal with the political fallout of a Rorschach moment. The view is that they’ve corralled the Tea Party, domesticated it without giving it a real seat at the table. But I still think they misunderstand who’s locked in with whom.
[First published at The Federalist.]
Editor: I can’t let this post pass without a clip of that line by Rorschach from the movie “Watchmen,” which Ben linked to above:
In a discussion that took place on CNBC on Wednesday, President of Oxfam America Raymond Offenheiser and the President of the Heartland Institute Joe Bast squared off regarding a new Oxfam study. The study suggests that large food producing companies like Kellogg’s, Pepsico and Nestle create a large amount of carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming.
Offenheiser, citing the study, challenged these companies to “fully disclose the carbon emissions in their agricultural supply chains.” He said that these companies have an enormous responsibility to take action.
Bast responded by saying that the study has an “overreliance on the IPCC” findings. He went on to say that the debate on global warming is not over and the evidence is not as clear as some suggest. Bast said that it “hurts the profitability of a company to do unnecessary reductions in its carbon dioxide emissions.”