The scene at CPAC was of a movement at a point of transition – the old Reagan coalition doing battle with a new more libertarian rising generation. Whenever great transitions come, the existing hierarchy does its best to preserve the existing order of things. In this case, that order is unlikely to be preserved for long, for a whole host of reasons out of the control of any faction.
Still, the problem remains: even accepting or adapting toward their views on marriage, immigration, foreign policy, national security, marijuana and more, are the challengers to the still-dominant viewpoints on the right likely to bring Republicans any closer to electoral viability?
The answer is almost certainly not. What is most troubling about the clashes on the right at the moment is not their ferocity or their insignificance, but rather how little they have to do with the issues Americans actually care about. The persistent inability of the right – conservatives, libertarians, and the Republican Party as a whole – to adapt a message that matches up with the shifting interests and focuses of huge swathes of the American people is a defect shared across all the warring factions.
During the coming wilderness years, the right needs to set aside their hopes for a common sense approach to tax reform, fiscal restraint, and entitlement reform – none of which are possible under the auspices of this White House, and few of which have popular support. Instead, they should apply real ingenuity to the challenge of presenting a message and a set of policies which rebut the dominant themes of the left. They should start by addressing the “War on Women”, the apotheosis of President Obama’s strategic approach: find and highlight as many wedge issues as possible that serve to naturally excite his base and pit factions of the right against itself. This is a strategy that will survive Obama, and that the right must mitigate or even turn to its benefit.
The economic decline of the past few years has led to a rising number of “1099 Moms” or “Etsy Earners” – women who’ve started home businesses or found contracting work to make ends meet and to stay engaged in their careers in the longterm, recognizing they’ll have to go back to full-time work as soon as they are able. The overall 1099 portion of the economy has grown dramatically – Houston alone has seen about a 12% increase since 2009. What are some ways conservatives could approach reaching these women and other work-from-home professionals?
Here are five general approaches to policy areas that can serve as a starting point for crafting an Etsy Earner agenda.
TAXES: Start with a push to end the massive tax penalties on self-employed work. Self-employed Etsy Earners pay 15.3% out of pocket on payroll taxes, and are penalized if they don’t cut a check every 3 months (rather than having it deducted out of your count, and your employer paying half of it). To add insult to injury, those who are married also suffer from a dramatic marriage penalty: they are taxed at their spouse’s marginal rate even if they’re making a fraction of what he earns.
HEALTH CARE: Consider the creation of a Health, Education & Retirement account or accounts that combines the functions of HSA, 529, and 401(k). A HER Account would streamline the process for saving toward key life needs and recognize that these costs are more persistent in the new economy. Republicans already talk about why individuals should get the same tax treatment for health care as their employer, ensuring portability. But they should reboot the issue by creating a carveout for the self-employed, framed as giving them the same benefits corporations get. The left’s use of birth control politics will continue to trouble the right, but they should begin posing Bobby Jindal’s question: Would you rather be able to buy your birth control over the counter, without having to go through an unnecessary doctor’s appointment, tax free through your HSA, just like (used to be able to, before Obamacare) with Aspirin?
EDUCATION AND CHILDCARE: School choice is the great white hope on the right, but they should expand their normal conversation about it to include the parent trigger and education savings accounts which can be used toward Pre-K or toward child care. The current deductibility limit for child care expenses comes nowhere near the annual cost for most families, which particularly hurts single moms, who have no option but to work and put their kids in homecare or daycare. It also creates a huge incentive to dump kids into Head Start, a failed program which drives up costs for every other type of child care. Either make every penny of childcare expenses deductible, or create a tax-free childcare/education savings account, perhaps framed more broadly as Childrearing Accounts. The right should look to the example of Arizona’s Empowerment Savings Account program, where in addition to school tuition, the money can also be used for home-schooling and other qualifying expenses.
HIGHER ED: The right has a grab bag of ideas when it comes to challenging the existing paradigm of public higher ed institutions—whether on the creation of a $10,000 degree, credentialing process, loan process reforms, or other areas. To address Etsy Earners, Republicans should advocate making all student loan interest deductible to offer some relief for people saddled with loans as a reward for the responsible: you get the expanded deduction if you’re current on all your payments. But they should also embrace the forward-looking proposal from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a college dropout himself, who has spearheaded the University of Wisconsin flex degree. In an era where a diploma is more about credentialing for work than a liberal arts experience, a system which tests for competency from home in a family friendly manner which equips you with a top tier degree from a state institution is extremely friendly to working moms.
GAS AND GROCERIES: Regardless what the Fed or the Bureau of Labor Statistics tries to tell you about the lack of inflation, costs are hitting the middle class hard in these key areas. Republicans need to have a gas and groceries agenda. Just looking at ads from late 2008 and early 2009 illustrate the hit to the wallet that the lower and middle classes are feeling when they feed their families. Instead of simply attacking food stamps, Republicans should combine a series of policies into a gas and groceries package – one which would include policies to slow inflation, eliminate incentives for energy companies to turn corn into gas, provide tax credits to families to help them cope with rising grocery bills, and generally target the government policies which drive the prices people see every day which impact family budgets the most.
The right mocked Julia when they met her – but she is the rising model for life, and that means the right needs a message for her, too. The left’s answer is particularly uninventive: the offer of more benefits, doubling down on 1970s-style employer requirements, without mention of cost. This leaves a wealth of opportunities for the right to turn the left’s strategy back on it. All it takes is recognizing these opportunities when they arise, and engaging in a proactive strategy to highlight the gap between the left’s stale solutions and ones adapted to the realities of the new economy.
[First published at RealClearPolitics.]
The United States Navy has embraced climate change ideology. In an interview with the Boston Globe on March 9, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the Navy’s top officer in the Pacific, stated that climate change was the biggest long-term threat in the Pacific region and “probably the most likely thing that is going to happen…that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.”
It’s troubling that the top officers of our Navy have accepted the misguided theory of man-made climate change.
Admiral Locklear continued:
“Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”
Unfortunately, the admiral is only looking at part of the tropical storm picture. While 2012 was an active year for typhoons in the Pacific, global tropical storm activity continued to be at a low level for the seventh year in a row, according to storm expert Dr. Ryan Maue. Further, satellite data shows no increase in tropical storm frequency or strength over the last 30 years.
Not only is the Navy concerned about climate change, they are attempting to do something about it. Both the Navy and the Air Force have established goals to use a 50/50 blend of biofuel and petroleum-based fuel for planes and ships. Navy plans call for establishment of a “Green Strike Group” task force by 2016, fueled by the biofuel blend, and for alternative fuels to power half of all energy consumption by 2020.
In 2011, the Navy and the Departments of Energy and Agriculture publically committed to invest $510 million to create an “advanced biofuel industry” based on algae. Algae-based biofuel will be purchased for the “bargain price” of $26 per gallon, or more than six times the price of current petroleum-based fuel. But, according to a 2011 study by the Rand Corporation, “…the use of alternative, rather than petroleum derived, fuels offers no direct military benefits.”
So why does the Navy want to fly fighter jets on algae-based fuels? If domestic sourcing was the reason, fuel could be produced from US coal at much lower cost than from algae. It’s to reduce emissions of those nasty greenhouse gases, of course. US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus makes this clear:
“We’re gonna be using American produced, American energy that…will make us better environmental stewards because we will be contributing less to climate change and burning much cleaner fuel.”
Admiral Locklear is also concerned about sea level change, stating in the interview:
“You have real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level…If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.”
It is true that sea levels are rising. According to NASA, ocean levels have risen about 390 feet since that last ice age 20,000 years ago. Levels rose about 7‒8 inches during the last hundred years. But no scientist can tell when natural sea level rise ended and man-made sea level rise began. Nor is there any empirical evidence that sea level rise is accelerating. The 20-foot sea level rise predicted by some for the year 2100 is highly unlikely.
On March 5, Admiral Locklear told Congress that the automatic budget cuts from the sequester that went into effect on March 1 are already impacting his operations. He warned of cuts to aircraft flight hours, pay levels, and civilian jobs. He told the committee that the sequester cuts limit the ability of the Pacific Command to deter, assure, operate, and maintain its forces
But the admiral did not mention impacts to the Navy’s algae-based biofuel program during his testimony. Could it be that futile efforts to stop climate change are a higher priority than the readiness of the United States Navy?
[First published in The Washington Times.]
The subject matter of his presentation and the ensuing discussion revolved largely around potential EPA actions regarding fracking, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and LNG exports, but also included commentary on climate change regulation initiatives that were likely to proceed from the administration.
My question was as follows:
Paul Crovo: “Despite claims by many such as Al Gore that the subject of man-made climate change is settled, there is a substantial and credible body of within the scientific community that has published hundreds of peer reviewed studies that bring such claims into question. Does the administration take dissenting views into account when it formulates its policy decisions on potential climate change regulations?”
Before we get on with it, let me say this: I was expecting the question to elicit a well-reasoned response from Mr. Sussman. But the answer that was given was, frankly, barren of facts and not very well supported. The advisor first took a few steps back by stating that he was not a climate change scientist, so as to apparently qualify his limited knowledge of the science.
He then proceeded to cite studies from the National Academy of Sciences as reasoning enough to support the idea that climate change was being driven by man-made actions. He then concluded by saying he believed that “the debate on the science was largely settled.” I followed up with a question on the president’s State of the Union speech in which he articulated some “facts” that he felt offered proof of anthropogenic global warming. Ok, on with it:
PC: “So you would concur with the President’s claims regarding climate change that he mentioned in his State of the Union Speech?”
Sussman: “What claims are you referring to?’
PC: “Record high temperatures and extreme weather events…”
Sussman: “Again, I am not a climate scientist, but….”
In short, I guess I came away a little surprised that a senior advisor to the EPA, even one who may not specialize in climate change, would be so reluctant to offer any of his own defense of the AGW argument and would be so quick to fall back on NAS studies. Frankly, as someone who is by no means an expert, but has done his share of reading on the subject over the last four years, I came away believing I knew more about the subject than Mr. Sussman.
This little experience actually made me wonder how many people at the EPA actually know that much about the science the agency claims as support for their regulatory efforts.
Central banks bought 534.6 tons of gold during 2012, the largest amount in 48 years. Interest is clearly growing in gold as an international monetary asset as more countries have participated. Many have specifically stated their intent is to diversify away from U.S. dollars.
China is the world’s largest gold producer, by far. It produces 40 percent more than second-place Australia. But since 2009, China’s central bank has not reported gold purchases even though it is known to be buying gold directly from its own mines—including from foreign companies mining gold in China—and also from international gold markets.
Though China’s doesn’t report its central bank purchases, the World Gold Council reports investment demand for gold in China was up 24 percent in the fourth quarter 2012, compared to the previous quarter, and jewelry consumption was steady at 137.0 tons. China is second only to India in consumption of gold for jewelry. (Every year India buys four times as much gold as all of North America.)
Countries are shifting away from the dollar because the massive increase in U.S. government spending has undermined confidence in its future. In his first term of office President Obama added more to the national debt than all prior presidents from George Washington through George W. Bush combined. Everyone knows Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are going broke, but Obama has made no effort to address those problems. Instead, he tries to further increase spending. The Fed has been accommodative by “quantitative easing”—printing money. Now in the fourth round, QE4, the Fed creates $85 billion every month by simply writing checks for that amount to buy treasury bonds and mortgages. Over a year, that’s another $1 trillion.
The monetary expansion is being done in the name of stimulating the economy, but the results are very unsatisfactory. The recovery from the recession has been far slower than from previous recessions which had no such stimulus measures. The Obama administration claimed its original stimulus program (over $800 billion) would keep unemployment below 8 percent. Instead, it not only rose above 8 percent but remained there for more than 40 months. It rose even higher than the administration predicted would occur without the stimulus! The effect was the exact opposite of what the administration intended, despite adding QE2, QE3, and more than a year of QE4.
The recession triggered by the housing/banking bubble in the U.S. led to economic contractions in Europe compounded by revelations of financial weaknesses in certain euro-zone countries. The result was a series of bailouts and a flood of new money in the form of massive expansion of credit by the European Central Bank to hundreds of banks in the various countries. This was to prevent an immediate liquidity crisis, but it was also intended to stimulate economic growth, which it failed to do. The euro-zone’s economy shrank last quarter at the fastest rate since the worst of the recession in 2009. It has now contracted for three straight quarters, and the European Commission expects it to worsen in 2013. Euro-zone unemployment at11.7 percent is now the highest in its history, and the rate is 26 percent in Greece and Spain.
The European Commission expects Portugal’s unemployment rate to reach 17.3 percent in 2013. Countries are failing to meet their targets for deficit reduction; Spain has obtained a two-year extension, and Portugal says it, too, will need an extension. France lost its triple-A credit rating in November, and Moody’s stripped the United Kingdom of that prized rating in February. A Moody’s spokesman said, “We expect the country’s debt will continue to grow in coming years …[and not] stabilize until 2016.”
Printing more money lowers the value of a currency in relation to others. Therefore, a weak currency is seen as a way to improve the economy by increasing exports to other countries, who find them less expensive. Of course, other countries may then retaliate and devalue their currencies in order to remain competitive in international markets. If that happens, no country has an advantage; all the currencies will simply have gotten cheaper. That is what happened in the 1930s in a series of destructive devaluations that came to be known as “beggar thy neighbor” policies. It is happening again today as an expedient to evade unpopular but necessary reforms on fiscal and budgetary matters. At the same time, the uncertain and depreciating paper currencies have led to distrust of their value as monetary reserves, making gold look better and better as a monetary asset.
The U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have led the way in printing money. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has stated he will continue to pursue easy money policies until the economy improves. ECB president Mario Draghji has said he will supply any amount of money that is necessary to save the euro. Like the Fed and the ECB, the Bank of England has also been pursuing quantitative easing as a remedy for past spending excesses and to stimulate the British economy. Lack of results has led to larger doses of the same failed medicine.
Now Japan, the world’s third largest economy, has joined in with larger doses of the same prescription for its stagnant economy. In the recent election, Shinzo Abe was elected prime minister in large measure because of campaigning for monetary easing through “unlimited” or “open ended” purchases of government debt by the Bank of Japan. He said, “Countries around the world are printing more money to boost their export competitiveness. Japan must do so too.” He called for more aggressive action along the lines of the Fed and the ECB.
The idea that government spending would stimulate the economy can be traced to John Maynard Keynes. He claimed government spending produced a multiplier effect, a chain reaction of additional spending in the economy. But in my new book, The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, I point out that the Keynesian multiplier is always less than 1.0. That means the money that is spent over and over again in the private sector from the government spending is always less than the cost of the programs. If it weren’t, the U.S., Greece, and other spendthrift countries wouldn’t be going broke—they’d be getting richer the more they spent! My book supports this conclusion by citing impressive academic research as well as actual historical examples, including Japan’s own experience.
No nation has more completely and energetically put Keynesian policy into practice for longer than Japan, and the results have been disastrous. Two decades of economic stagnation. Japan had ten stimulus programs between 1992 and 2000. It spent massively on infrastructure, building bridges, roads, ports,airfields—even sidewalks—as well as supplying huge subsidies to the biotech and telecommunications industries.
Yet the 1990s are known as Japan’s “lost decade,” when it had the lowest productivity rate of any industrialized nation. Instead of boosting economic growth, government spending ballooned the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 235 percent, the highest in the world, compared to 65 percent in 1990. Japan now has an even worse national debt problem than the U.S. Oblivious to his nation’s last two decades of experience, Prime Minister Abe is embarking on a more aggressive application of the same policies that have brought trouble to both nations.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has long stored monetary gold for foreign central banks, not only for security but, in times past, as a convenience for some international operations. Following World War II and the onset of the Cold War, Germany stored a large quantity of its gold in the U.S. against the possibility of a Soviet invasion.
Now Germany says it will repatriate 300 metric tons of its gold from the New York Fed and all of the 374 tons stored at the Banque de France. Disappearance of a threat from the Soviet Union was given as the reason for the transfers, but many view them as defensive moves against collapse of the euro. While minimizing the issue, officials at the Bundesbank acknowledged that the moves are “preemptive” in case a “currency crisis” hits the European Monetary Union. Germany several years ago repatriated 940 tons of its gold from the Bank of England. It now has possession of 31 percent of it gold and wants to raise that to at least 50%.
Venezuela, Libya, and Iran have repatriated their gold holdings. The question now is who will be next? It might be Switzerland. In March 2012 four members of the Swiss Parliament began an initiative to bring Switzerland physical possession of all of its 1,040 tons of gold. The measure now has 90,000 supporters. If 100,000 is reached, parliament must take up a referendum on the issue.
There is talk of the Netherlands repatriating its gold, and Azerbaijan is already doing so. The Netherlands has only about 10 percent of its 612.5 tons of gold at home. Azerbaijan began its repatriation of gold in January 2013 with one ton transferred from London to the new storage facility of the central bank in Baku. In the future all gold will be transferred there. The country expects to double its gold holding this year to 30 tons because of oil revenue. The State Oil Fund (SOFAZ) has been buying 10,000 ounces of gold every week since February 2012.
The repatriation movement is gaining momentum, along with the trend of increased gold buying by central banks. An increasing number of private institutions and individuals are thinking like the banks, especially in the East, where gold is soaring in popularity. Brinks tripled its precious metal storage capacity in Singapore in 2012 and is building a warehouse in Shanghai for precious metals and other high-value goods. Malca-Amit has gold storage sites in New York, Zurich, Hong Kong and Singapore. It’s facility in Singapore has a capacity of 600 tons of gold and is almost full.
Its recently opened vault in Hong Kong can hold 1,000 tons of gold. Joshua Rotbart, executive director of the company, said some Asian investors storing gold in the U.S. and Europe are keen to move it closer to home as more storage space becomes available.
[First published at American Liberty.]
In his first energy speech of his second term, “President Barack Obama tried to move past partisan fights over energy policy on Friday with a modest proposal to fund research into cars that run on anything but gasoline.” The “modest proposal” is what he introduced in the State of the Union Address: an Energy Security Trust (EST)—which is a central part of his economic strategy.
The idea for an EST was developed by a collaboration of high-volume oil consumers and military leaders concerned about US energy security—put forth through a report titled “A National Strategy for Energy Security: Harnessing American Resources and Innovation.” The unique backgrounds of the advocates garnered attention from both sides of the aisle. However, a key component of the Trust was omitted from the President’s Friday speech: increased domestic energy development—the piece that, according to one of the idea’s developers, was designed to win bipartisan support and “keep both sides engaged.”
In response to Obama’s presentation of an EST—which would set aside royalties from oil and gas extracted on federal lands and direct them toward research and development for transportation technologies that reduce our dependence on oil—House Speaker John Boehner’s office says: “For this proposal to even be plausible, oil and gas leasing on federal land would need to increase dramatically. Unfortunately, this administration has consistently slowed, delayed and blocked American energy production.”
Once again, Obama’s speech touted America’s growing “energy future:” “We produce more oil than we have in 15 years. We import less oil than we have in 20 years. …We’re producing more natural gas than we ever have before.” This is true, however Boehner is correct. A new report from the Congressional Research Service “confirms what many have known to be true.” Marc Humphries, the government specialist in energy policy who authored the “U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Non-Federal Areas” report, says: “All of the increase (in oil and natural gas production) from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, and the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production fell by about seven percentage points. … In general, the regulatory framework for developing resources on federal lands will likely remain more involved and time-consuming than that on private land.”
Increasing resource development on federal lands is one of the key features of the EST. In fact, the idea is that the funds set aside for the trust would come solely from new development. Yet, Friday’s speech never mentioned that—despite media reports stating: “the new program…would be paid for through royalties generated by offshore drilling of oil and gas development of the outer continental shelf.”
I had a post-speech conversation with Sam Ori, Director of Policy for Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE)—the organization responsible for the Energy Security Leadership Council (about which Obama spoke) and the idea for the EST. While SAFE is pleased that its policy proposal has been picked up by the Administration, Ori wouldn’t comment on the President’s cherry-picking approach to the plan. He did, however, say: “The speech is not the final place. If the EST doesn’t offer new oil and gas development on federal lands, the Republicans won’t sign on.” Ori emphasized that in order for the EST to be a success, it needs to have something that is “attractive to both sides.” The alternative energy research is the carrot for the left and the increased drilling is there for the Republicans. Ori also pointed out—as did Robbie Diamond, Founder, President and CEO of SAFE, during our December conversation—that the EST is for research and development of technologies that will lesson our dependence on oil, not deployment of said technologies.
Somehow, in a time when deficits and government spending are front-page news stories, Obama wants to “divert” revenues already coming into the US treasury into “a dedicated slush fund for alternative energy.” In Friday’s speech, he pointed to SAFE’s proposal when he said: “let’s take some of our oil and gas revenues from public lands and put it towards research that will benefit the public so we can support American ingenuity without adding a dime to our deficit.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski disagrees. Robert Dillon, spokesperson for the Senator told me: “The president hit on a good idea when he called for a trust fund to promote energy innovation. But unlike Sen. Murkowski’s proposal, he would not enable new energy production to pay for it. The president says he wants to divert a share of the royalties from offshore production that has already been factored into the budget, which could mean either deficit spending or less funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. More likely, the president’s real plan is to raise taxes on oil and gas. There’s a better way that not only funds investment in research, but also addresses our need for affordable and abundant energy. It’s Sen. Murkowski’s plan. We hope the president will embrace it.”
Forbes writer, Christopher Helman, takes it one step further. He believes that “this Energy Security Trust could well serve as the tip of a wedge that could some day lever open a new carbon tax.” According to Helman, Connecticut Congressman John Larson, said “that the very purpose of the Energy Security Trust fund was to serve as a conduit for the collection of carbon taxes.” True, Larson does have a proposal from 2006 that is all about a carbon tax, and his proposal bears the same name—but the similarity of the plans stops there. SAFE has never advocated a carbon tax. Because Obama favors a carbon tax, connecting the two plans with the same name is a logical leap, but it misrepresents the current plan.
If Obama was truly “seeking to build some common ground on energy,” he should have included both sides of the equation; incorporating both increased drilling and R & D “investment.” Instead, in his “first energy speech of his second term,” he continued to put partisan considerations before the national interest.
The speech included some populist themes:
- “Our top priority as a nation” should be “reigniting the true engine of America’s economic growth.”
- “Few areas hold more economic promise for creating good jobs and growing our economy than how we use American energy.”
- “What most Americans feel first when it comes to energy prices—or energy issues are prices that they pay at the pump.” And,
- “We’ve worked with the auto companies to put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in history.”
Yet, he omitted any solutions that would help American’s today. The only mention of a pipeline was this: “as long as the pipeline for research is maintained…” No mention was made of the “good jobs” that could be created if he’d quickly approve the Keystone pipeline—something Dave Mallino of the Laborers’ International Union specifically chastised him about on the air with Neil Cavuto.
Regarding fuel economy standards, as we’ve seen with cellulosic ethanol, just because government mandates it, doesn’t make it so.
Friday’s speech didn’t address expanded access to America’s natural resources. It did, however, threaten that the “so-called sequester” would cut into the “muscle and the bone.” Obama claimed that “because of this sequester, we’re looking at two years where we don’t start new research.”
The speech, which was reportedly about freeing “our families and business from the painful spikes in gas prices,” did suggest “more solar power, more wind power”—neither of which do anything to touch “spikes in gas prices.”
SAFE’s EST, which aims to bring both sides together for “energy security,” is admirable, and Ori hopes “that we can be successful.” If shuttling some of the funds from new development—that the government already collects (not a new tax)—toward R & D will cause this administration to finally “stop being an obstacle,” I am all for it. However, I hate that we have to bribe them to do what they should have been doing all along. If this “first energy speech” is any indication, I can’t say I share Ori’s optimism.
I have to agree with Helman. He says we already have an EST. “It’s this: the hard work and innovation of the tens of thousands of engineers at American oil companies who have unlocked a plentiful supply of energy that will keep the nation moving and growing for decades. And all without taxpayer handouts.”
[First published at Townhall.]
Joy Pullmann, education research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News, has been all over the Common Core beat. Her research and reporting of this latest ham-fisted federal imposition on what should be a local matter is second to none.
Joy’s work drew the attention of nationally syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin. She cited Joy in her latest piece titled “Common Core as Trojan Horse: It’s time to opt out of the creepy federal data-mining racket.”
Last week, I reported on the federal government’s massive new student-tracking database, which was created as part of the nationalized Common Core standards scheme.
The bad news: GOP “leadership” continues to ignore or, worse, enable this Nanny State racket. (Hello, Jeb Bush.)
The good news: A grassroots revolt outside the Beltway bubble is swelling. Families are taking their children’s academic and privacy matters out of the snoopercrats’ grip and into their own hands. You can now download a Common Core opt-out form to submit to your school district, courtesy of the group Truth in American Education.
Parents caught off guard by the stealthy tracking racket are now mobilizing across the country.
Malkin quotes Joy’s piece in the March 11 Orange County Register op-ed titled “Data Mining Kids Crosses the Line” that outlines some of the more creepy aspects of the Common Core agenda — shocking features most parents, and Malkin, were unaware of until Joy exposed it:
Research fellow Joy Pullmann at the Heartland Institute points to a February Department of Education report on its data-mining plans that contemplates the use of creepy student-monitoring techniques such as “functional magnetic resonance imaging” and “using cameras to judge facial expressions, an electronic seat that judges posture, a pressure-sensitive computer mouse and a biometric wrap on kids’ wrists.”
The 2012 election featured the bottom feeding charge of a Republican War on Women. The grounds for such a charge were less than zero. But with the Democrat Party outright controlling so much of the national media, every Democrat talking point takes on added weight.
Is opposition to abortion indicative of a “war on women?” That would overlook the fact that at least half of babies aborted are female. Maybe it is a liberal war on women.
The most braindead allegation was that Republicans harbored a secret plan to ban contraceptives. The effectiveness of that charge depends on the public being ignorant of the landmark 1965 Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that married couples (later expanded to everyone) have a constitutionally protected right to purchase contraceptives.
But did you ever see NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, or the Washington Post, even mention Griswold v. Connecticut all year last year? In the age of the low information voter, poll it and I doubt even 1% would recognize the case.
But numbers don’t lie. And what the economic numbers show is that it is President Obama who has been conducting the war on women.
Compare how women have fared in the economy in Obama’s first term versus how they fared in Ronald Reagan’s first term.
Obama faced a recession when he entered office. But it was already 13 months old at the time, and the longest recession since the Great Depression previously was 16 months. In fact, Obama’s recession ended just 5 months after he entered office. So for almost all of his first term was after the recession was over.
Reagan entered office facing double digit inflation, double digit interest rates, and soon double digit unemployment. Real median family incomes had been falling for several years, poverty rates were rising. Reagan and the Treasury’s support of the dollar that eventually broke the back of inflation also produced the worst recession since the Great Depression (to be fair, the ”recession was a function of capital being reallocated from inflation hedges to real ideas of the mind) up until that time, with the entire recession coming 6 months into Reagan’s first term, and lasting through almost his entire second year.
But still, real median weekly incomes for females rose 32.1% in Reagan’s first term, compared to 6.6% in Obama’s first term. Employment of women rose by 4,460,000 in Reagan’s first term, while women suffered a net loss of 354,000 jobs during Obama’s first term. Conversely, the number of women not in the work force rose by 4,458,000 in Obama’s first term, compared to 345,000 in Reagan’s first term.
More than 3 times as many jobs were created for African-American women in Reagan’s first term, compared to Obama’s first term, even though the population was much larger in Obama’s first term. Jobs for African American women rose by 15.1% in Reagan’s first term, compared to 2.6% in Obama’s first term.
Teenage female African Americans employed fell by 19.1% in Obama’s first term, compared to a decline of just 1.5% in Reagan’s first term. The unemployment rate for teenage female African-Americans rose by 5.7 percentage points in Obama’s first term, compared to just 1.1 percentage points in Reagan’s first term. Yet, the labor force participation rate for teenage female African Americans rose by 2.5 percentage points in Reagan’s first term, while it fell by 2.6 percentage points in Obama’s first term.
The poverty rate has soared under President Obama, to 16.1%, higher than when the War on Poverty began, and that covers primarily women. Child poverty has soared as well, to over 20%, with 8 million American children growing up in poverty. The Census Bureau reports more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty, at almost 50 million, and again that is mostly women, and their children.
Real median household income has declined by nearly 8% in Obama’s first term, which is the equivalent of the middle class losing one month’s pay each year. Income for the bottom 20% of income earners has declined by a similar amount. Income has been rising under President Obama only for the top 20%, which is why income inequality has perversely (given Obama’s rhetoric) been rising under President Obama as well.
In President Reagan’s first term, by contrast, the decline in average and low incomes, which had persisted for several years when he entered office, was reversed, and incomes for every income quintile, from the top 20% to the bottom 20%, turned around and rose for several years.
As George Washington University Professor Henry R. Nau summarized in the Wall Street Journal on January 26, 2012,
“the U.S. grew by more than 3% per year [in real terms] from 1980 to 2007, and created more than 50 million new jobs, massively expanding a middle class of working women, African-Americans and legal as well as illegal immigrants. Per capita income increased by 65%, and household income went up substantially in all income categories.” (emphasis added).
Women under Reagan started their own small businesses in record numbers. Small business under Obama has been assaulted in every way, with higher tax rates, and soaring regulatory burdens in particular.
Here again we see that President Obama following the exact opposite of every policy of Reagan in every detail has been getting the exact opposite results. It is time to return women’s liberation to America. If Obama and Congressional Democrats will not reverse course, then American women will have to restore their liberation at the ballot box in November next year.
[First published at Forbes.]
Yesterday I wrote the following letter to Cristine Russell in response to her March 12 article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Attack of the climate-denial books: Conservative think tanks fuel publishing boom that spreads misinformation.” I have yet to get a reply, but will share it if it ever arrives.
Just a few questions arising out of your article yesterday which are what any open-minded journalist or fair-minded ordinary citizen might ask:
- What specific “misinformation” do conservative think-tanks spread?
- How does it follow that such books are labeled “climate-denials” when they go to great length citing material, including peer-reviewed science journal-published papers, in telling how skeptic climate scientists claim the IPCC has not conclusively made its case that human-induced greenhouse gases are the primary driver of global warming? Why does that not merit the label “plausible skepticism”?
- Why would Riley Dunlap make the statement about “… authors, in turn, are often treated as ‘climate experts’ who may be interviewed on television and radio and quoted by sympathetic columnists…” in the face of no less than the same thing happening with people such as Al Gore, PR man James Hoggan, ex-reporter Ross Gelbspan, and activists Bill McKibben, John Passacantando, Kert Davies and Phil Radford?
- And, though I have many more questions, this last one: Although Dunlap’s work is said to be ” defining what he calls the ‘organized climate-denial machine’,” has he or any other sociologist or any investigative journalist, book author or anybody else ever actually proven the existence of it — namely through the showing of specific material (document scans, undercover video/audio transcripts, leaked emails, money-transfer receipts corresponding to instructions for skeptics to lie about specific science points, etc)?
As I suggested in the comment I placed at the end of your article, we have every appearance that people like Dunlap are “all show and no go” when it comes to the accusation of corruption lodged against skeptic climate scientists, which critically if not fatally impairs their analysis of why skeptics do what they do.
No need to trust me on my own viewpoint, what I urge you to do is exactly what I’ve done: Namely, corroborate the accusation that skeptic climate scientists are on the payroll of the fossil fuel industry to lie about the issue. To do that, you must look into its origins, peel back the layers of who repeats it from whom, and where the original people got their material from and whether the material meets standards you’d find in courtroom evidentiary hearings.
I’d offer you the proverbial $10,000 challenge that you cannot do so, if only I could raise that much money. However, imagine having to meet a much tougher challenge, accomplishing this task under an order from Columbia Journalism Review’s acting Dean (whoever that may be), Chairman Victor Navasky, Editor-in-Chief Cyndi Stivers, Science and Environmental Journalism Assistant Professor / Director Marguerite Holloway, Center for Investigative Journalism Director Sheila Coronel, or even Columbia University’s President Lee Bollinger.
What happens if you fail to meet that challenge?
American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle spoke today at a press conference in Washington, D.C. declaring his opposition to a national carbon tax. Pyle was backed by a coalition of representatives from numerous free-market organizations, business groups, and elected officials.
The prepared text of Pyle’s remarks are as follows:
Thank you, Chairman Scalise, for your invitation to speak today and your strong, principled leadership of the Republican Study Committee. The American people depend on affordable energy to power our economy and care for our families. Today’s announced resolution shows how a carbon tax on these energy sources would be harmful to American families. Proponents of a carbon tax suggest a ‘tax swap’ deal in order to offset income or payroll taxes. The Institute for Energy Research, AEA’s parent organization, recently published a study that demonstrates how a carbon tax would not only further confuse the tax code, but would be far more damaging to our economy than the existing tax system. The most glaring problem of a carbon tax, of course, is the negative effects it would have on the American people.
By its very nature, a carbon tax would put an unnecessary burden on American families and businesses by raising energy costs. This increase in costs would not only affect energy prices, such as electricity and gasoline, but will also increase the costs of food and manufactured items that we use in our everyday lives. Chairman Scalise recognizes these negative implications. He understands our need for policies that embrace America’s reliable energy sources and promote economic growth. For all of these reasons, I am proud to stand here today in support of the Chairman Scalise’s carbon tax resolution. The American Energy Alliance will continue our fight on behalf of American families to oppose Washington’s attempts to limit access to our vast natural resources and increase the price of energy for everyone. With strong leaders like Chairman Scalise, this is a fight we can win.
The press conference was held by Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-LA), who also introduced a House Resolution opposing efforts to implement a nationwide carbon tax. More than 85 other Congressmen signed the resolution.
“A national carbon tax would devastate an already struggling American economy, force the cost of gas at the pump to jump even higher, and kill millions more jobs here at home. We need to return common-sense back to Washington, and put an end to the liberal tax, regulate, and spend agenda that is destroying our middle class economy. With more than 85 original cosponsors, I’m proud to introduce this important legislation.”
A compiled list of the organizations are behind AEA’s efforts can be found here. Of course, you will be able to find The Heartland Institute’s name on the list. As touched on above, little evidence supports the idea that a carbon tax will pay off in any way possible, including economically, environmentally, or even politically.
Click here for more information on carbon taxes, courtesy of Heartland’s Center on Climate and Environmental Policy.
The “N-word” has rightly been banished from polite conversation (gansta rap falling outside the bounds of polite conversation), and with many states in a headlong rush to embrace gay marriage and the federal government refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman the term “homophobe” has faded into irrelevance.
With the U. S. military having abolished its antiquated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (an invention of the Clinton administration, by the way) and finally accepting women officially into combat positions, indeed, we can virtually safely say that we’re a certified non-sexist LGBT-friendly society.
Yet the sting of “racist” still persists, generally applied by a person of the left to a person of the right when the person of the left cannot conjure a coherent counter to an argument for smaller government, balancing the books, passing a budget, reducing the annual deficit or the national debt, or enforcing laws already on the books regarding, say, illegal immigration or voter identification.
Favor stiffer sentences for dealing crack cocaine? Why, that’s racist, because it would reputedly have a disparate impact on Americans of African origin. Want to enforce the laws against illegal immigration, as the States of Arizona and Alabama tried to do? Well, that’s racist too, because it would have a disparate impact on residents of Mexican origin.
How about closing some public schools in Chicago, which has lost nearly 100,000 students out of its former 300,000 student base and 100 or so schools sit empty or near to it? That’s also racist, because a majority of the schools no longer needed formerly served the children of African-Americans, some 200,000 of whom deserted the city between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.
But the highest-handed race card is applied whenever anyone on the right dares to question the wisdom of any policy of the Obama administration, whether it’s pandering to the ayatollahs of Iran, showing more “flexibility” to Vladimir Putin’s Russia in arms talks, or spending the country into oblivion with annual trillion-dollar deficits. No rational person could oppose such policies on purely political or philosophical grounds, in the view of the left, so conservatives must a fortiori hate the President because he’s black.
Among the latest to make this hoary charge is New York Times Book Review Editor Sam Tanenhaus in his article for the February 10, 2013, New Republic, “Original Sin: Why the GOP is and Will Continue to be the Party of White People.” National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru and Jonah Goldberg do a thorough job of debunking Tanenhaus’s diatribe in “Sam’s Smear: Preposterous history from The New Republic” in the March 25, 2013 issue of their own magazine, but it remains worthwhile asking why people of the left are so quick to raise this smear against anyone who disagrees with their public policy views.
Is it because they so thoroughly embrace the tenets of consummate community organizer Saul Alinsky that they automatically apply his fifth and thirteenth rules, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon” and “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”? Is it because they really don’t think rationally themselves and have no other way of responding? It is because of their own self-assurance that they are so indisputably correct in their views that anyone who disagrees with them must be evil? Or is it because they project their own racist views on others?
Consider who it is, for example, who wishes to classify people by race and to allocate everything from corporate board seats to NFL head coaching positions to seats in Congress on the basis of “race.” Consider who it was who ran for a U. S. Senate seat on the claim that she was “Native American” based on her high cheekbones and family folklore.
And consider still how hard it is even to determine what “race” someone is when young people today seem neither to notice nor care about the color of the skin or the height of the cheekbones of the beaus they date, marry, and have children with (not necessarily in that order), and scientists cannot even agree on what race means.
I had lunch recently with a friend of mine, a Democrat, a judge, and an Obama supporter. “The President isn’t black,” he claimed. “He was born of a white mother and raised by white grand-parents. You can’t say this but I can, because I’m a liberal: he’s an Oreo – black on the outside and white on the inside.”
If race still matters – and it shouldn’t – then it is not conservatives who are racist.
Quoting from another movie review:
”… there’s a lot to be angry about. And though Rosebraugh shines a light on plenty of jaw-dropping corruption, it plays out like a shrill rallying cry without catharsis for the already initiated.”
The reviewer is basically talking about enviro-activists — and likely herself — already initiated to the certainty of global warming induced by human activity, and the notion that the only opponents to it are people who deny or lie about reality in the pursuit of their own corrupt personal gain.
But, her concluding remarks about catharsis were specifically about filmmaker Craig Scott Rosebraugh’s failure to extract any enlightening statement out of an undercover effort to confront Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, and generally about Rosebraugh’s failure to say anything really satisfying about the issue in general.
However, that is only one of the film’s major problems. Its other problem is far more serious: To be truly effective in reaching the otherwise disinterested public and prompting action from them, nobody must question the assertions and insinuations within the film. Start asking questions about the following points, and the movie’s effectiveness begins to crumble.
- The first few seconds show an epic dust storm engulfing the Phoenix metro area in Arizona. But how does it follow that these occurrences happening every summer are the result of global warming-caused drought when they result from thunderstorm downdrafts?
- A dryland farmer laments the death of his lawn as he shows full force water from an open garden hose going down a crack in the grass. But how does it follow that global warming is causing the dry earth to crack, when we see a huge field of dark, green, healthy, very tall corn in the background topped with irrigation machinery? And who in their right mind waters a big lawn with a single open hose rather then with a sprinkler system?
- PR man James Hoggan claims sheer repetition of fossil fuel industry-funded talking points is winning the hearts and minds of the public. But how many times does some variant of the word “deny” occur from this point onward in the film? And regarding his point that skeptics are given free rein in the media, what would his explanation be regarding the utter lack of such skeptics appearing on news outlets like the PBS NewsHour giving their unrestrained viewpoints for the last 17+ years?
- When we are presented with what appears to be a damaging scene where Rep. Jay Inslee humiliates Lord Christopher Monckton over not being an actual Lord, what are viewers to think when they discover that the video ends before Monckton explains to Inslee how he inherited the title from his father?
- In the case of skeptic scientist Fred Singer, we are told that, among other things, he denied the connection of cigarette smoking to cancer. But what happens if we are unable to find any actual transcript or video where he made that assertion?
- The movie claims scientists involved in the ClimateGate scandal were absolved of any wrongdoing in no less than six investigations. But what happens if we viewers are able to find mind-blowing levels of detail about how the investigations were instead poorly handled whitewashes? And regarding Michael Mann’s complaints that reports about his statements were taken out-of-context, what happens when readers read his emails in their full context? And why wasn’t he given just a few minutes to illustrate how his sentences take on a proper meaning in their full context?
I could go on, and likely other people on the skeptic side will offer their insight about the movie. The basic point being that a movie which intends to definitively put the nails in the coffin of those standing in the way of solving man-caused global warming are obligated to do it convincingly — as in demonstrating it has actual proof at its disposal of skeptic climate scientists receiving direct payments from industry executives with corresponding instructions to lie about the issue, while not leaving any doors open for viewers to doubt what is being presented.
When such a movie makes elemental errors which invite viewers to go looking for more, rather than take action on what it advocates, it has lost the ball in epic fashion.
Russell Cook’s collection of writings on this issue can be seen at “The ’96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists.” You may also follow him at Twitter via @questionAGW at his corresponding Facebook page.
“Sequester,” a word foreign to most of us, “is a term used to describe the practice of using mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget if the cost of running the government exceeds either an arbitrary amount or the gross revenue it brings during the fiscal year.” In short, it is what happens when the cost of running the government exceeds the revenue.
Washington only talks about two choices when the cost of running the government exceeds the revenues: raising taxes and cutting spending. Taxes were raised as a part of the fiscal cliff deal. Sequester fills out the other half of the equation by cutting spending.
But there is an overlooked option: creating new wealth—which is different from printing new money.
Creating new wealth involves producing something of value which didn’t exist before, but that someone will pay for, bringing new money into the system. Our personal budget generally works this way: we have a job that we get paid for. We use that money to pay bills and buy stuff. That same money cycles through the system and ultimately comes back to us in the form of a paycheck. And the cycle continues. But if, one day, you were digging in your backyard and you found a pot of gold—that puts new wealth into your personal system. You can sell the gold, creating new wealth for yourself.
As a country, our bills and the stuff we buy—the cost of running the government— has exceeded the revenue for some time. The same is true for many states, counties, and cities—often resulting in bankruptcy. Not every city, county, or state has a pot of gold, but in the form of natural resources—many do. Some choose to dig up the pot of gold, creating wealth resulting in a healthy community and government. Some choose not to and instead are back to the same two choices: raising taxes and cutting spending.
On January 10, I was at a county commission hearing in New Mexico’s San Miguel County. This poor, rural county in northeastern New Mexico has geology that leads the experts to believe that there might be oil or natural gas under their feet. Several surrounding counties do have known resources and people who own the land and production companies are eager to explore to see if there is, in fact, a “pot of gold.” As is to be expected these days, there is plenty of opposition, scaring folks with talk of supposed water contamination and other calamities.
The hearing opened with a Skype presentation from the executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. He clearly stated that the group’s goal were to stop or block production or to create so many regulations that exploration and development was cost-prohibitive. Next a parade of naysayers, with a sprinkling of supporters, addressed the county commissioners.
The commissioners asked questions throughout the day-long process. However, they really perked up at the testimony of two county officials from the oil-producing corner of the state: Greg Niebert—County Commissioner for Chaves County; and Mike Gallagher—County Manager for Lea County. Both talked about the decades, during which fracking has been used in their counties, with only positive impacts: their schools are fully funded, unemployment is virtually nonexistent (one proclaimed that anyone who can pass a drug test can get a job), and their economies are thriving. I could almost see the dollar signs rolling through the eyes of San Miguel County Commissioners like a slot machine spinning.
Niebert produced some papers containing a resolution that the Chaves County Commission had just passed that morning. The gist of the document said that the oil and gas counties of the state were tired of supporting all the other counties—especially those that had resources, but elected not to use them. In New Mexico, revenues generated from resources extracted from state lands fill the Land Grant Permanent Fund—which is the largest contributor to the state’s schools and hospitals. Overall, the industry is responsible for nearly half of the state’s budget—which generally has a surplus. The resolution proposed that the schools and hospitals in the counties with resources that chose not to extract them should not get the benefit of the counties that do.
That is New Mexico’s story. But the theme runs through other states that are creating new wealth: Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania—with a welcome increase in jobs and tax revenues. Each has very low unemployment and a thriving economy. Contrast those states to two of the states hardest hit in this time of economic demise: California and Nevada. Like New Mexico’s San Miguel Country, both have natural resources, but unlike the poor, rural county, the states’ resources are known. While San Miguel is considering a drilling ban, the troubled states have an effective ban and a big part of their pot of gold is on federally owned land. Policies and regulations could prevent the states from accessing their individual pots of gold (Nevada has the Chainman Shale and California the Monterey Shale), which would create new wealth for local communities as well as state and federal governments. David Pratt, president of Santa Maria Energy, says: “the Monterey is California’s way out of the ‘fiscal toilet.’”
California’s Senate Republican Leader, Bob Huff, agrees. He told me: “California sits on two-thirds of America’s shale oil reserves, which is an economic gold mine just waiting to be safely extracted. Tapping into this reserve could cause an oil boom that would dwarf North Dakota’s oil riches that have given the state a $3.2 billion budget surplus and the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.2%.”
“I am committed to new job and business creation for all Californians. We should not ignore recent technological innovations that have released a bounty of wealth in other oil-producing states and put people back to work. It makes absolutely no sense to create these new jobs and wealth in countries who are not friendly to the United States, when we can put our own citizens to work and gain energy independence at the same time.”
“But alas,” Matt Insley, a specialist on commodities and natural resources, says, “this is California. The political and environmental red tape in the state have brought energy development to a virtual halt.”
The New York Times reports: “The oil companies’ plans for the Monterey Shale are already drawing increasing scrutiny from environmental groups.” Despite the fact that “oil companies have engaged in fracking in California for decades,” Kassie Siegel, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), calls it “one of the most, if not the most, important environmental issue in California.”
Meanwhile, people are leaving the state, houses are being foreclosed, and unemployment levels are the highest in the country.
Though less-widely reported, Nevada faces a similar opportunityand opposition.
Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. has leases for 350,000 acres in Elko County. They plan to spend $130 million over four years to ramp up operations. However, the Las Vegas Review Journalcites the federally owned land as “the greatest limitation Nevada faces in getting its resources to market. … Much of Noble’s plan requires Washington’s blessing. Midwestern states, which are composed almost entirely of private land, have no such problem, hence their prosperity.”
As we’ve seen with the Keystone pipeline, it is expected that the greens will “put on a full-court press to block the project.” Rob Mrowka, who heads the Nevada CBDoffice, says: “Fracking is not a good thing. We don’t feel there is a safe way to do it.”
California and Nevada—along with New York—have known resources, yet they depend on other localesfor much of their energy. What if the states that sell their resources to California, decided to follow Chaves County’s lead and told California they are on their own? California is using the resources, but sending their money out of state—which helps the other states and hurts California.
Gabe Garcia, an assistant field officer for the Bureau of Land Management in Bakersfield, CA, reports: “the government receives 12.5 percent of revenues from the oil retrieved. … Last year we brought in $190 million.” Half of that goes to the state of California; the other half goes to the federal government. And the $190 million figure is before the Monterey Shale takes off.
Insley believes “A change in tone from the political side” could fuel a turnaround. It is the politics that is holding back a boom in new wealth creation and as California Senator Huff said: “It makes absolutely no sense.”
Sequester didn’t have to happen. Allowing, even encouraging, development of our natural resources would bring welcome new tax revenues that might even exceed the cost of running the government.
[First published at Townhall.]
Lately, though, it has become the subject of ridicule for its officious and intermeddling government under the stewardship of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wants to ban everything potentially dangerous to his taxpayer base, from handguns to Big Gulps or any other soft drink larger than sixteen ounces, while bankrolling special congressional primary elections in other states.
In a self-governing republic, one would expect most citizens to be able to decide for themselves how thirsty they are and what they like to drink – especially when they pay for it themselves – if not what kind of self-defense protection best suits them in the exercise of their Second Amendment rights or who their representative in Congress should be, especially if they live out of state.
But sometimes the Nanny State gets its comeuppance, and New York City just got one in the process of raising its subway fares. It seems that in its haste to get out new subway maps to accompany an increase in fare hikes, the New York Transit system sent out 80,000 maps with the old fares listed. Now, according to msn.com, it will spend an additional $250,000 of taxpayer money to redistribute new maps.
Perhaps with all his extra money Mayor Bloomberg could write a check for the difference.
New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are continuing to rise but global temperatures are not following suit. The new data undercut assertions that atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing a global warming crisis.
NOAA data show atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 2.67 parts per million in 2012, to 395 ppm. The jump was the second highest since 1959, when scientists began measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Global temperatures are essentially the same today as they were in 1995, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were merely 360 ppm. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 10 percent between 1995 and 2012, yet global temperatures did not rise at all. Global warming activists are having a difficult time explaining the ongoing disconnect between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that global temperatures have disobeyed the models presented by global warming activists. From the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s, global temperatures endured a 30-year decline even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose nearly 10 percent. From 1900 through 1945, by contrast, global temperatures rose rapidly despite a lack of coal power plants, SUV’s, and substantial carbon dioxide emissions.
Remarkably, global warming activists are spinning the ongoing rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, along with the ongoing lack of global temperature rise, as evidence that we are facing an even worse global warming crisis than they have been predicting.
“The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped,” the Associated Press reported yesterday.
Actually, the fact that temperatures remain flat even as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise is a devastating rebuke to assertions that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are causing a global warming crisis.
On a related front, the NOAA data amplify the futility of imposing costly carbon dioxide restrictions on the U.S. economy in the name of fighting global warming. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions declined 10 percent during the past decade, yet global emissions rose by more than 30 percent.
Regardless of the future pace of ongoing reductions in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, global carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise. Even if the United States committed economic suicide by imposing all or most of the carbon dioxide restrictions advocated by global warming activists, the ensuing U.S. carbon dioxide reductions would amount to merely a drop in the bucket compared to the flood of emissions increases by the world as a whole and by developing nations such as China and India in particular.
Fortunately, as the new NOAA data show, and as global warming ‘skeptics’ have observed all along, rising carbon dioxide emissions are having only a modest impact on global temperatures and are not creating a global warming crisis.
[First posted at Forbes.]
Almost a week since the dreaded sequester went into effect, and look out your window. To quote President Obama the day after Obamacare was passed, the sun is still shining, the birds are still chirping, and the earth is still spinning on its axis.
Of course, Obamacare still does not go into effect for another year now. But the sequester has already been in effect for five days. Unlike the sequester, when Obamacare goes into effect, it will kill people.
Everybody knows by now that President Obama was telling a lot of tall tales to stop the sequester from cutting even 1% of federal spending, not from current levels of spending, but from the increase in spending this year. That should make clear Democrat policy is to oppose any cut in federal spending.
But the sequester debate also clarified President Obama’s economic policy. If you listened carefully to what Obama was saying, you would see that Democrat economic policy holds that it is government spending that drives economic growth and prosperity. If that should sound nuts to you, that’s because it is. I don’t want to appear to make the notion sound respectable. But that is the reality that we have to deal with.
And we are not talking here about government infrastructure spending, national defense, or even education spending, all of which can have positive economic growth effects, when done right and effectively, education spending longer term, infrastructure and national defense more immediately. We are talking here about general government spending on everything, which is what the sequester was about.
What Obama and the Democrats were saying repeatedly during the sequester debate is that the government spending cuts would hurt the economy, but increasing taxes would not!
That is right, they said repeatedly the sequester spending cuts would hurt the economy today, but that could be avoided if we would follow their recommendations and increase taxes instead. In fact, the alternative Democrat sequester bill that barely failed in the Senate would have increased capital gains and dividends tax rates again, on top of the January increases from Obamacare and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. America would then suffer with the fourth highest capital gains tax rate in the world, to go with Obama’s highest corporate tax rate in the world (except for the socialist one party state of Cameroon).
Yes, America is rapidly becoming the world’s leading socialist state. Everyone else, including former communist/socialist powers such as China, Russia, and India, are turning to the Reaganomics we here in America have so stupidly abandoned. If you want to move to Argentina, stay put. Argentina is coming to you. If you want a booming capitalist country following the policies of Reaganomics, move to formerly socialist Canada.
The Democrat-proposed further tax increases are not even good Keynesian economics. Even Keynesian economics says raising taxes hurts economic growth. Their explanation of that is all wrong, focusing on the reduction in so-called “aggregate demand,” rather than incentives. But at least the Keynesians got the policy right.
It is true that Keynesian economics supports the idea that increased government spending, deficits and debt is what sparks recovery and renewed economic growth. That is core Democrat policy, and what you are voting for every time you vote Democrat. But there is no more discredited idea in economic history (except for outright Marxism), both intellectually and in practice.
Keynesian support for increased government spending to boost the economy fails to consider that government has to get the money to spend from somewhere, either increased taxes, increased borrowing, or inflation. And all of that takes an equal amount out of the economy, leaving no net increase in demand. In fact, when the negative economic effects of the increased taxes, borrowing, or inflation are considered, the net result is a contractionary drag on the economy. That is why Keynesian economics has never worked. Obama’s nearly $1 trillion so-called “stimulus” in 2009 just proved that yet again.
Indeed, the entire Keynesian focus on “demand” is misconceived, because demand is insatiable, and can never be inadequate in a market economy. If demand for any good or service is insufficient for the supply, in a market economy the price of the good or service will just decline, until demand equals supply. Keynesian economics survives only because it supports what Democrats want to do, which is increase government spending, deficits, and debt. See, e.g., Paul Krugman.
The obscured truth that our very dumbed down country right now can’t get is that economic growth is the ultimate determinant of revenues, and deficits. Follow pro-growth policies, and you get booming revenues and disappearing deficits. But that is so yesterday for America, which thinks now with rapidly declining Europe that pro-growth policies are “unfair.” (What is fair about plummeting middle class incomes, soaring poverty, and persistent high unemployment?) This in the formerly richest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world. Good job, Progressives, you have your fundamental transformation of America (into Argentina).
The Coming Crash of 2013
I have long been on record as predicting renewed, double dip recession for 2013, just as happened during the depression. The full story on that can be found in my short book published in 2011 by Encounter Books, Obama and the Crash of 2013, and my long 2011 book published by HarperCollins, America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb.
That is because all of Obama’s policies are so anti-growth — increasing tax rates, especially on capital investment that is the foundation for jobs and rising wages, increasing regulation, easy money with a weak dollar, and increased government spending, deficits and debt.
But here is the first coming sequester lie. When the economy turns down this year, Obama and his socialist Democrats will all blame it on the sequester spending cuts. Cut just the increase in government spending by just 1%, and that is supposed to be the roots of another recession. The great debate will be what caused the downturn, the spending “cuts” or the tax increases, (plus regulation, plus the cheap dollar, plus the exploding escalation of debt). That is if our party-controlled, new socialist media (stop calling them the mainstream media, nothing remotely mainstream about them) even allows the debate on the air.
Republicans Gaining Some Control Over Spending
But one emerging truth out of the sequester battle is that the Republicans are gaining some control over spending. The sequester spending cuts over 10 years total $1.2 trillion, out of a 10-year budget of $47 trillion, or 2.5%. But the next battle over spending presents opportunity for still more spending restraint.
That is not the debt ceiling, which leaves the Republicans with little leverage, because Obama has already convinced the country that failing to increase the debt limit means defaulting on the national debt. Even Fox News reports on it that way, as if you can’t continue payments on what you owe on your credit card unless you get an increase in your credit limit. You see what I mean when I say our country is so dumbed down right now?
The opportunity is the continuing resolution (the CR in Washington parlance) to authorize government spending for the rest of this year. The current continuing resolution providing such authorization runs out at the end of this month.
The opportunity is for the Republicans to pass a new continuing resolution that provides for continuing discretionary government spending, or at least domestic discretionary spending, at the exact same levels as last year, minus the already enacted sequester spending cuts. The Republicans and the conservatives then need to drive home to the public two simple points.
One is that the continuing resolution involves no new spending cuts. It just continues government spending at the same levels as last year. This can successfully counter the Democrat media theme that crazed radical Republicans want to tear the federal government to pieces, destroying the economy and the safety net for the poor, sick, weak, and vulnerable in the process. But such an effective spending freeze even on just discretionary domestic spending will add up to serious savings over time.
The second point then is that the Republican House has already acted in passing the continuing resolution to keep the government open and operating. If the Democrats don’t agree with the continuing resolution that the Republicans have passed, their job is to pass their own continuing resolution through the Senate. Then any differences and compromises can be worked out in the House Senate Conference. The Republicans can and should talk to President Obama if he wants, but that must not prevent them for acting and explaining the process to the American people.
The Republicans have to be focused in driving this point home, because the Democrat-party controlled media at NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. will definitely not keep the public informed as to what is happening in Washington with their federal government. I have read two Washington Postcolumns this past week by closet Marxist revolutionaries E.J. Dionne and Dana Milbank who misinformed readers that the Republicans failed to act to do anything to pass an alternative to the sequester, when the truth is the Republican House passed two alternative sequester bills that rationalized the spending cuts, and the Democrats failed to take any action. If you or anyone you know is subscribing to the Washington Post, that is part of the problem causing the decline and fall of America. Ditto that for the openly Marxist New York Times. (I read the columns in Investor’s Business Daily).
Moreover, this current dumbed down American public cannot be counted on to know the process for passing legislation in Washington. The American public today does not recall their high school civics teaching that the process for passing federal legislation is the House and Senate pass their bills, then they go to Conference Committee for compromise, and then the President either signs of vetoes the legislation.
This process will force the Democrats to take a stand in the light of day that they want to increase spending, deficits, and debt still more, even while the country is careening towards bankruptcy. The whole point of the Democrat Senate failure to pass any budget in the past four years is to hide this from the American people. Forcing the Democrats to act in public where they can be held accountable will frame the issue for the public correctly.
The Republicans and the conservatives need to drive this second point home also so that the public can understand who to hold accountable for any government shutdown. The President has the bully pulpit, and the party-controlled media, so artfully informing the public of the truth is critical.
House Republicans can help their case for controlling government spending immensely if they will hold aggressive oversight hearings on government waste, fraud, and abuse. When the Democrats wanted to slash defense spending, they held hearings about the Defense Department buying $100 hammers and $500 toilet seats.
OMB and GAO have already documented failed government programs not accomplishing their stated laudatory goals, and at least $125 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse. Holding hearings to communicate and dramatize that would put Democrat socialists on the defensive. Sure the Democrat party-controlled media will not cover it. But the alternative conservative media will, embarrassing the party hack media in the process.
But here is the second coming sequester lie. If the Republicans are successful in these spending restraint strategies, you know of course Obama will take the credit. After the 25% increase in government spending in year one of Obama’s term, the spending increases Obama can get through from that base with the Republican-controlled House may appear negligible, especially in percentage terms. The Democrat party-controlled media will then sing Obama’s praises as the most restrained government spender since Eisenhower.
[First published at the American Spectator.]
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Wednesday presented his proposed budget for the next fiscal year and pronounced it “the most difficult budget Illinois has ever faced.” He added, “There are significant reductions in this budget that I do not want to make, and that none of you will want to make, either.”
Everything should be this difficult.
From the numbers I’m looking at, Gov. Quinn is proposing a budget that totals $1.9 billion more spending than the budget he signed last June. Bloomberg News reports spending would rise 5.6 percent. Inflation over the last 10 years has never come close to 5.6 percent. It’s currently 1.6 percent and averaged 1.7 percent in 2012, 3.0 percent in 2011, 1.5 percent in 2010, 2.7 percent in 2009 . . . well, you get the picture.
This in a state with the nation’s worst credit rating, worst pension shortfall, and worst backlog of unpaid bills.
Real personal incomes have declined, Illinois cannot pay its routine bills on time, yet Illinois’ governor finds a way to try to raise spending at a clip more than three times faster than the government’s official inflation estimates the past two years. And he speaks of spending cuts and “the most difficult budget Illinois has ever faced.”
Meanwhile, the state’s teachers union is blasting the budget proposal and complaining about the many years the state has skipped payments into their pension system to spend that money on other things. Well, their pensions are swallowing almost all the additional revenue the state takes in.
And this same union slavishly backs Michael Madigan, who entered the legislature while in his 20s and is now in his 70s, and who has been House Speaker 30 years. No one is more directly responsible for the pension disaster and fiscal crisis the teachers decry than Madigan, yet he is politically untouchable, largely because of the support of teachers and other government-dependent groups. If teachers and others want things to change in Illinois state government, they have to stop sending their money and political support to Madigan and the political puppets who dance every time he pulls their strings. I won’t hold my breath.
Quinn’s total budget is about $62.4 billion. His general budget is $35.6 billion. The difference is federal money for various programs. So $26.8 billion of the spending by Illinois state government would be paid for by people around the country.
The Illinois Policy Institute last year reported, from 2000 to 2010, state per-capita spending grew 71 percent, more than twice Illinois’ growth in economic output. Since 1990, state spending per person has grown nearly three times faster than it would have if spending had been held to inflation plus population growth.
And Illinois’ governor proposes another 5.6 percent increase in total spending, with much of it paid for by people in other states.
This cannot continue. I wonder if Illinois’ governor, lawmakers, teachers and others who back ever-greater spending will ever acknowledge this.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) publishes almost daily newsletters containing information on climate science and energy policy, The Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) publishes weekly newsletters on climate science and energy policy, and the Nongovernmental International Policy on Climate Change (NIPCC) by The Heartland Institute publishes weekly newsletters on latest peer-reviewed publications on climate science.
These are only three of hundreds, and maybe thousands worldwide, of Internet and published newsletters dealing with climate science and energy policies that show fallacies of the hypothesis carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels causes catastrophic global warming and energy policies trying to reduce fossil fuel use. Free subscriptions are available from all sources by simply checking a box “subscribe” on their home pages. [Get the weekly NIPCC report here.]
The February 21, 2013 GWPF featured an article titled, “The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperatures,” Global and Planetary Change, Vol 100, January 2013, pp 51-69. The Norwegian authors are Ole Humlum, Kjell Stordahl, and Jan-Erik Solheim.
This is an important piece of research that should have been reported years ago. However, due to research funding in the United States and other parts of the world only being distributed to support the hypothesis carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels causes global warming, this type of research would be deemed irrelevant.
The paper studied global temperatures and carbon dioxide changes from January 1980 to December 2011. Temperature data is from several sources for sea surface temperatures and global air surface temperatures.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide changes increase due to burning fossil fuels with a superimposed sine wave variation over a year’s time. The acknowledged world measuring point is at Mauna Loa, Hawaii since 1959.
At Mauna Loa there is a decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the Northern spring and summer due to plant’s taking up carbon dioxide due to photosynthesis and an increase in the Northern fall and winter due to plant growth slowing and dying plant material decaying. About ninety percent of the earth’s land area is in the Northern Hemisphere; so the growing activity takes place mostly in that region.
Figure 3 of the Norwegian researchers paper is shown below.
“Fig. 3. 12-month change of global atmospheric CO2 concentration (NOAA; green), global sea surface temperature (HadSST2; blue) and global surface air temperature (GISS; red dotted). All graphs are showing monthly values of DIFF12, the difference between the average of the last 12 months and the average for the previous 12 months for each data series.”
Temperature data shows temperature increases are taking place during carbon dioxide declines. The delay in carbon dioxide changes following temperature changes is about 11-12 months for global sea surface temperatures and 9.5-10 months for global surface air temperatures.
Ice core data from thousands of years ago indicated carbon dioxide increases followed temperature increases by about 800 years. The following figure shows Vostok ice core data from Antarctica.
This is a good reason to believe carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels does not influence global temperatures. The phase lag in modern temperature and carbon dioxide measurements is an additional argument increasing carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is a minor player in global warming.
The March 2, 2013 issue of SEPP mentioned a recent article ”Synchronous Change of Atmospheric CO-2 and Antarctic Temperatures During the Last Deglacial Warming” in Science, Vol. 339, No. 6123, pp. 1060-63, March 1, 2013. This article contests the 800 plus year following of carbon dioxide changes from temperature changes shown by the preceding graph. The paper covers the last 20,000 years and mentions differences in temperature-carbon dioxide changes were less than 200 years and may not have existed at all. Since the temperature-carbon dioxide measurements don’t cover the same time period, the challenge of past time lags needs further verification.
To add more confusion to the role of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, a paper by Ed Caryl “Most Of The Rise In CO-2 Likelly Comes From Natural Sources.” This paper examines monthly changes in global and sea surface temperatures and carbon dioxide changes. The good correlation of carbon dioxide and sea surface temperature changes makes the author think carbon dioxide increases are due to natural events. The solubility of carbon dioxide in water decreases with water temperature increases, so atmospheric carbon dioxide increases with sea water temperature increases.
Like The Onion®, “The Nation’s Finest New Source™,” The New York Times editorial page sometimes slides into self-parody but, Paul Krugman aside, its op-ed page is often worth reading. Such was the case on Wednesday, March 06, 2013, when The Times featured two thoughtful and informative pieces on the role and future of education in North America.
The first, “The Country That Stopped Reading,” by Mexican novelist David Toscana (“The Last Reader”) and translated from the original Spanish by Kristina Cordero, describes how the Mexican state school system has managed over the past few decades to produce more functionally illiterate citizens than ever while ostensibly enrolling more students.
The second, Thomas Friedman’s “The Professors’ Big Stage,” describes the increasingly outmoded “higher education” system of the nation north of Mexico’s border, namely the United States. Taken together, the two pieces reveal much about what is wrong with current educational systems and offer suggestions for improvement that will require seismic shifts in pedagogical thinking.
Toscana’s piece posits that Mexico, once a reasonably well-educated country and despite recent gains in industrial development and increasing numbers of engineering graduates, is today “floundering socially, politically and economically because so many of its citizens do not read.” Not that they can’t read, but that they simply don’t.
Part of the problem, Toscana observes, is that “education reform” in Mexico has focused on teachers instead of students. As he notes, “the job of the education secretary has not been to educate Mexicans but to deal with the teachers and their labor issues” and “[n]obody in Mexico organizes as many strikes as the teachers’ union.” The result, he says, is that “students can advance from one level to the next as long as they attend class and surrender to their teachers” but that Mexican schools have accordingly turned into factories that churn out “chauffeurs, waiters and dishwashers” rather than educated citizens suitable for self-government.
The same could be said in the United States, particularly in large cities like Chicago and San Antonio. Here in Chicago, for example, the consistent theme of all-too-common teachers’ strikes and labor negotiations is preserving lucrative pension and benefit plans, maintaining the “due process” that helps keep unqualified teachers on the public payroll for years, and keeping superfluous schools open in order to preserve un-needed teaching and administrative jobs.
“Education reform” in Chicago, in other words, appears to have precious little to do with actually helping students prepare for either the job market or the responsibilities of citizenship, and changing the name of every public high school in the city to “Career Academy” or “College Prep” won’t make a difference. Meanwhile, in places like San Antonio, elementary school teachers spend such inordinate amounts of time just feeding breakfast and lunch to their charges that they have little time for actual teaching and tend to burn out quickly.
At the other end of the spectrum is “higher education,” which is where Tom Freidman’s column comes into play. Along with “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” and “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” one of former President Bill Clinton’s more memorable lines was that he wanted to make the 13th grade as common as the twelfth grade. And indeed, here in the U. S. we have: virtually everyone in America thinks he or she (or his or her children) should go to college and virtually anyone who wants to go to college gets in somewhere. Yet nearly half of college enrollees eventually drop out and many of the 56 percent who do actually graduate within six years are unprepared for the real world of business and self-government.
Having become truly “the 13th grade” of elementary/secondary school, the first year at many colleges is often reduced to remedial courses, while over the next four or five years students may officially major in such amorphous fields as “gender studies” while actually majoring in beer pong. Meanwhile the cost of college tuition, directly and indirectly subsidized by taxpayers, keeps rising out of proportion to the cost of almost everything else except government and health care – with both of which it has much in common.
Yet some hope remains. As Friedman notes, fresh on the heels of attending “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education,” a conference co-sponsored by Harvard and M.I.T., the traditional college experience is becoming increasingly irrelevant in an inter-connected world.
When the Harvard Business School, to use an example Friedman cites, no longer offers an introductory accounting course because the online version at Brigham Young University is “just so good,” it’s no longer necessary to go to Harvard to get an education – or even to Brigham Young. Just sign up for no charge for one of the thousands of online courses now available through MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses – and offered by institutions from Cal Tech to Vanderbilt, with Princeton, Rice, and Stanford in between.
To be sure, as Friedman notes, in-person student-teacher and student-student interface still provides some value. Yet it is hard to see how such interface justifies the cost of today’s entire college experience, from college applications to the college visitation tour to on-campus housing and dining facilities to student activities funds and such esoterica as student health care coverage for sex reassignment surgery.
Here in the second decade of the 21st century North Americans still operate with 18th century models of education inherited from the Puritans (although todays’ mores and curricula are far from Puritan). As today’s Times op-ed page amply demonstrates, our educational systems are in serious need of rethinking, and soon.
In his first address as Secretary of State, John Kerry said we must safeguard “the most sacred trust” we owe to our children and grandchildren: “an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate.”
Even the IPCC and British Meteorological Office now recognize that average global temperatures haven’t budged in almost 17 years. Little evidence suggests that sea level rise, storms, droughts,polar ice or other weather and climate events and trends display any statistically significant difference from what Earth and mankind have experienced over the last 100-plus years.
However, we do face imminent manmade climate disasters. Global warming is the greatest moral issue of our time. We must do all we can to prevent looming climate catastrophes.
But those cataclysms have nothing to do with alleged human contributions to planetary climate systems that have always been chaotic, unpredictable and often disastrous: ice ages, little ice ages, dust bowls, droughts and monster storms that ravaged and sometimes even toppled cities and civilizations.
Our real climate crisis is our responses to Mr. Kerry’s illusory crises. It takes four closely related forms.
Influence peddling. Over the past three years, the Tides Foundation and Tides Center alone poured $335 million into environmentalist climate campaigns, and $1 billion into green lobbies at large, notesUndue Influence author Ron Arnold. Major US donors gave $199 million to Canadian environmental groups just for anti-oil sands and Keystone pipeline battles during the last twelve years, analysts Vivian Krause and Brian Seasholes estimate; the Tides Foundation poured $10 million into these battles during 2009-2012.
All told, US foundations alone have “invested” over $797 million in environmentalist climate campaigns since 2000! And over $19.3 billion in “environmental” efforts since 1995, Arnold calculates! Add to that the tens of billions that environmental activist groups, universities and other organizations have received from individual donors, corporations and government agencies to promote “manmade climate disaster” theories – and pretty soon you’re talking real money.
Moreover, that’s just US cash. It doesn’t include EU, UN and other climate cataclysm contributions. Nor does it include US or global spending on wind, solar, biofuel and other “renewable” energy schemes. That this money has caused widespread pernicious and corrupting effects should surprise no one.
Politicized science, markets and ethics. The corrupting cash has feathered careers, supported entire departments, companies and industries, and sullied our political, economic and ethical systems. It has taken countless billions out of productive sectors of our economy, and given it to politically connected, politically correct institutions that promote climate alarmism and renewable energy (and which use some of this crony capitalist taxpayer and consumer cash to help reelect their political sponsors).
Toe the line – pocket the cash, bask in the limelight. Question the dogma – get vilified, harassed and even dismissed from university or state climatologist positions for threatening the grants pipeline.
The system has replaced honest, robust, evidence-based, peer-reviewed science with pseudo-science based on activism, computer models, doctored data, “pal reviews,” press releases and other chicanery that resulted in Climategate, IPCC exposés, and growing outrage. Practitioners of these dark sciences almost never debate climate disaster deniers or skeptics; climate millionaire Al Gore won’t even take questions that he has not preapproved; and colleges have become centers for “socially responsible investing” campaigns based on climate chaos, “sustainable development” and anti-hydrocarbon ideologies.
Increasingly powerful, well-funded, unelected and unaccountable activist groups and bureaucracies use manmade global warming claims to impose regulations that bypass legislatures and ignore job and economic considerations. They employ sweetheart lawsuits that let activists and agencies agree to legally binding agreements that leave out the parties who will actually be impacted by the court decisions.
The green behemoth wields increasing power over nearly every aspect of our lives and liberties, with no accountability for screw-ups or even deliberate harm to large segments of our population. All in the name of controlling Earth’s temperature and preventing climate change
Climate eco-imperialism impoverishes and kills. Climate alarmism and pseudo science have justified all manner of regulations, carbon trading, carbon taxes, renewable energy programs and other initiatives that increase the cost of everything we make, grow, ship, eat, heat, cool, wear and do – and thus impair job creation, economic growth, living standards, health, welfare and ecological values.
Excessive EPA rules have closed numerous coal-fired power plants, and the agency plans to regulate most of the US hydrocarbon-based economy by restricting carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, generating plants, cement kilns, factories, malls, hospitals and other “significant” sources. Were it not for the hydraulic fracturing revolution that has made natural gas and gas-fired generation abundant and cheap, US electricity prices would be skyrocketing – just as they have in Britain andGermany.
EU papers carry almost daily articles about fuel poverty, potential blackouts, outsourcing, job losses, economic malaise and despair, and deforestation for fire wood in those and other European countries, due to their focus on climate alarmism and “green” energy. California electricity prices are already highest in USA, thanks to its EU-style programs. The alarms are misplaced, the programs do nothing to reduce Chinese, Indian or global emissions, and renewable energy is hardly eco-friendly or sustainable.
Wind energy requires perpetual subsidies and “backup” fossil fuel power plants that actually produce 80% of the electricity attributed to wind, and blankets wildlife habitats with turbines and transmission lines that kill millions of birds and bats every year. In fact, industrial wind facilities remain viable only because they are exempted from many environmental review, wildlife and bird protection laws that are enforced with heavy penalties for all other industries. Solar smothers habitats with glossy panels, and biofuels divert crops and cropland to replace fuels that we have in abundance but refuse to develop.
Now climate activists and EPA want to regulate fracking for gas that was once their preferred option.
By far the worst climate crisis, however, is eco-imperialism perpetrated against African and other poor nations. When their country was building a new power plant that would burn natural gas that previously was wasted through “flaring,” President Obama told Ghanaians they should use their “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels energy, instead of fossil fuels that threaten us with dangerous global warming. Meanwhile, his Administration refused to support loans for South Africa’s critically needed, state-of-the-art Medupi coal-fired power plant, which the Center for American Progress, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and other radical groups stridently opposed.
The actions ignored both the livelihoods and living standards that electricity has brought the world, and the millions of deaths from lung infections and intestinal diseases that these power plants would prevent.
Ready-made excuse for incompetence. Hurricane / Superstorm Sandy proved how “dangerous manmade climate change” can give politicians a handy excuse for ill-considered development decisions that increase storm and flood risk, failure to prepare their communities for inevitable severe weather events, misleading storm warnings, and slow or incompetent responses in their aftermath. Blaming carbon dioxide emissions and rising seas is always easier than manning up and shouldering the blame for Bloombergian failures. Citing IPCC computer forecasts of nastier storms and flooded coastlines likewise gives insurers a convenient excuse for hiking insurance rates.
When the conversation next turns to climate change, discussing the real climate crisis – and the true meaning of environmental justice – could open a few eyes.
Comcast has instituted a program, now in its second year, called Internet Essentials. Its purpose is to give low-income families — those eligible for school lunch programs — affordable access to broadband technology in the home.
The program provides Internet service for $9.95 a month (plus government taxes, natch) and a $150 computer. And Comcast also provides personal service — training for families to get them up to speed with the digital age.
All this is done without taxpayer money — so no “sequester” dodge — and has impacted the lives of 150,000 families.
Says Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen:
“To put that in perspective, that’s approximately the entire population of Washington, D.C. or Boston. Internet Essentials is not just about broadband adoption, however. It’s also about what the Internet can do for families, from finding a job to completing homework to accessing vital healthcare resources. While we’re pleased with our progress to date, we have more work to do to bring more families into the digital age.”
In just two years, this program has:
• Printed and shipped more than 25 million pieces of collateral material for free.
• Fielded more than one million phone calls in our dedicated Internet Essentials call center.
• Distributed more than 15,000 computers at less than $150 each.
• Trained 10,000 people in-person about digital literacy and how to use the Internet.
• Received more than 800,000 visitors to the Internet Essentials and Internet Basico websites.
• Partnered with almost 7,000 community-based organizations; government agencies and federal, state and local elected officials.
Learn more about this program here — where you will be guided by the smiling face and happy voice of NBC’s Al Roker. It’s a good example of what private firms do every day, but get little attention for it because it’s not a government-run program.
In fact, it’s better — because it comes without the bloat and failure of most programs run out of Washington.