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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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It’s Time for Tough Love on Tax Credits for the Mature Wind Industry

December 03, 2014, 9:26 AM

A pending vote on a tax-extenders package—that would have a slim chance of passage in the new Congress—will reveal whether or not Congress learned anything from the 2014 midterms.

Throughout 2014, since the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the wind energy industry expired on December 31, 2013, lobbyists from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) have pushed Congress to vote to retroactively revive the PTC. The lame duck session provides their last opportunity.

The PTC provides one of the best examples of the worst kind of taxpayer waste being considered in a tax-extenders deal. The largest benefactors of the credit (underwritten by U.S. taxpayers) are wind energy turbine manufacturers like General Electric (which purchased Enron’s wind turbine business in 2002), and investors like Warren Buffet, who, without apology, recently admitted: “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

The U.S. wind energy business started as a gleam in Enron’s eye, enjoyed an entitled childhood at taxpayer expense, and, by now, should have blossomed into an adult. Instead, now, at the tail end of this Congressional session, the industry—by way of AWEA lobbyists—has its hand out for a ninth round of “free” taxpayer money.

For this lame duck Congress, AWEA’s panhandling seems like a grown child returning home for financial support—“just one more time.”  Congress must now realize the inevitable:  sometimes seeing our dependents grow up to be independent requires tough love and a line in the sand.

When the PTC was conceived in 1992, America’s energy paradigm differed totally from today. At that time Americans had a constant concern: growing imports of foreign oil from the Middle East left us vulnerable to global market forces that were driving prices. We inherently knew then, as now, low-cost abundant energy is essential to America’s leadership on the global stage. Wind was touted as one of the answers. Despite the fact that wind produces electricity (albeit inefficiently, ineffectively, uneconomically), and electricity has nothing to do with foreign oil, Washington, throwing caution to the wind, embraced it.

The Energy Policy Act (H.R.775.ENR, or “EPACT92”) was signed into law in 1992 and quickly created the wind industry. Unfortunately, EPACT92 was long on hope, but short on encouraging the habits necessary for self-sufficiency. No one should be surprised that the industry’s immaturity has persisted for more than twenty years.

The wind PTC has been the industry’s biggest single source—though unearned—of support. Each new wind energy complex earns the tax credits for a full ten years. The machines only last an estimated twenty years—though the White House has authorized thirty-year bird-kill permits that allow, without punishment, protected bald and golden eagles to be chopped up mid-flight. The two-point-three-cent-per kWh bonus has a pre-tax value as high as three-and-a-half cents—which creates a big benefit to billionaires like Buffett.

Wholesale market revenues and the wind PTC make up only about 2/3 of total proceeds flowing to wind development owners. The other third comes from the value of additional federal subsidies combined with the financial incentives inherent in state-level tax breaks and mandates. In the end, wind investor proceeds depend on roughly 1/3 sales revenue and 2/3 handouts.

AWEA continues to claim its costs are falling and “almost competitive,” but fails to answer the most important question: competitive with what? Last week a New York Times (NYT) headline proclaimed: “Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels,” yet, within the text, the article states: “Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire.” Just days before the NYT piece was published, two of America’s brightest minds admitted, that after four years of trying to prove that it was possible “to produce a gigawatt of renewable power more cheaply than a coal-fired plant,” renewable energy simply “won’t work.”

The wind PR machine never brings up dependability and responsiveness to demand—attributes its fuel cannot, by definition, ever deliver. Without the ability to convert wind currents into electricity at all the right times, wind energy facilities cannot replace the existing dependable power plants that keep our lights on. Wind’s fuel may be free, but having to build and maintain two sets of power plants instead of one costs far more than wind’s fuel-cost advantage can save.

Hopefully, with twenty-plus years of history, our leaders recognize their poor parenting practices that best prepared their “offspring” to persuasively argue for perpetual access to money they didn’t earn. Voters should ask: can this lame duck Congress find the courage to finally stop enabling the wind industry and force it to grow up? Congress must say to them: “We’ve been supporting you for 22 years. Enough is enough!”

In the face of intense, last-ditch lobbying by AWEA, Congress needs help breaking its bad habits. But tough love is hard. To do the right thing, Congress needs encouragement from voters. Pick up the phone today and tell your representatives: “Our nation’s affordable electricity should not be used by Congress as a bargaining chip in a tax-extenders package for special interests. After 22 years of government support, it is time for the wind industry to grow up. The now-expired wind PTC needs to be buried once and for all.”

Author’s note: Thanks to Tom Stacy for research assistance.

[A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Tell Congress, “End Wind Energy Tax Giveaways Now”

December 02, 2014, 4:29 PM

There is a good chance that the Lame Duck Congress could vote as early as Wednesday, December 4, on extending huge taxpayer subsidies for Big Wind energy companies for another three, five or more years.

Citizens concerned about high-cost electricity, skyrocketing government debt, and massive giveaways of hard-earned tax dollars to crony corporations should call or email their senators and their congressman – and explain why these subsidies should end now.

The wind energy “production tax credit” is a bad idea that should have been terminated years ago. That the PTC is still around, decades after this “temporary” subsidy was enacted decades ago, is absurd. That it could be extended by legislators who were just thrown out of office is intolerable.

Even a six-month wind PTC extension is too much. But a three-year or five-year extension – retroactive for this past year and followed by a multi-year “phase-out” – is insanity personified.

You think it can’t happen? Think again.

The American Wind Energy Association just sent a letter to Congress, insisting that the PTC be extended in the name of “clean energy,” jobs and the environment – and signed by 450 rent-seeking companies and environmental pressure groups that live off our taxpayer and consumer dollars.

Make your voices heard. Here are some important points that you can make.

Because its electricity is so expensive, wind energy kills two to four jobs for every job it creates. Wind turbines kill millions of birds and bats every year – while the industry, environmentalists and politicians ignore the slaughter, bury the evidence and let scavengers take the carcasses away without counting them.

From Tim Philips, president of Americans for Prosperity, in the December 2 Wall Street Journal:

The PTC gives wind energy producers 2.3-cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced for ten years. But it expired in 2013. So now wind energy lobbyists are asking Congress to renew the subsidy.

Over the past seven years, the PTC has cost taxpayers $7.3 billion. It is expected to pay out $2.4 billion more in 2015 alone. Combined with other subsidies and programs, it gave wind energy companies $56.29 in government subsides per megawatt-hour in 2010, according to an Institute for Energy Research report. Compare that to 64 cents per MWH subsidies for natural gas and $3.14 for nuclear power.

Instead of paying wind producers based on how much of their electricity is used, the PTC pays them based on how much electricity they generate– even if no one needs the electricity when it is generated, and even if they aren’t producing any electricity at all when it is needed the most.

Former Oklahoma Republican congressman Ernest Istook, in the November 20 Washington Times:

Every gambler must know his limits – when to stop making bets and walk away from the table. Uncle Sam needs to quit making bets on wind energy and save us all about $10 billion a year. Let the industry rise, fall or spin its rotors based on its own merits, without the crony capitalism government giveaways.

Ending the wind PTC will save money for consumers. We pay three times, because wind energy raises electricity rates, on top of what we pay infederal subsidies and in state subsidies.

Wind energy handouts have been a 22-year gamble. The tax credits are always labeled “temporary,” but they have been renewed by Congress eight times so far. Each short-term extension just gives supporters the incentive to push for another one.

Wind advocates are addicted to subsidies, just like addicted gamblers, craving one more lottery ticket, one more deal of the cards, one more throw of the dice, one more spin of the wheel. None will produce a sudden bonanza, because the root of the problem doesn’t change: Wind is free but the machinery to harvest it is expensive, raising costs far above other, more affordable ways to generate electricity.

The only windfall is for the wind farms. They are the only guaranteed winners, just as “the house” always wins in a casino or a lottery.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wind power. What is inherently wrong is compelling people to use the highest-cost energy. It would be equally wrong to force you to order the highest-priced meal at a restaurant, purchase the most expensive shoes, or buy gasoline at whatever outlet charges the most.

U.S. Energy Information Administration data show that electricity prices in wind-using states are skyrocketing at four times the national average. Nine of the eleven largest wind-power states are suffering – witness the 33% increase in electricity rates in Wyoming and the 26% increase in South Dakota.

In other places, rate increases are briefly delayed or hidden by state subsidies. Oklahoma’s 1,700 windmills haven’t yet increased consumer prices, but only because the state government is absorbing the difference through giveaways to wind companies. To date, Oklahoma taxpayers have paid over $700,000 per windmill in subsidies.

Fortunately, the federal wind subsidies expired at the end of 2013. Unfortunately, a huge push is underway to revive them during the lame-duck Congress, while their sponsoring liberal Democrats still control the Senate. They want to force House Republicans to revive $18 billion worth of production tax credits of $23 per MWH, using backroom deals to sneak the provisions into other legislation.

Wind’s business model is warped, because it’s based on government, not on free enterprise. The industry confesses that because there was no subsidy, no new wind farms were announced in 2014. Zero. Zilch. Nada. That’s the biggest proof that theirs is a Solyndra-style system that depends on crony capitalism.

Today’s biggest wind energy investor, who would gain most from reviving the tax credit, is Warren Buffett. As Mr. Omaha’s billionaire friend said recently, “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

Other energy providers have better business models. Oil and gas companies don’t get subsidies. Instead, they get tax treatment common to other businesses, but which activists deliberately mislabel as subsidies. Getting money from taxpayers is a subsidy; getting to keep part of your own money is not.

But even if you accepted the mislabeling, government help for fossil fuels is peanuts compared to wind power. The Institute for Energy Research, using government calculations, reports that for each BTU of power produced, renewable energy gets 49 times more in federal incentives than do fossil fuels.

And oil and gas companies pay $30 billion a year into the federal treasury, while green energy drains over $10 billion a year from the federal treasury – and from your taxpayer pockets.

To justify its billions in crony capitalism, the wind industry uses claims worthy of MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber, the infamous source of false information about Obamacare. Mr. Gruber believes Americans are stupid. Do wind advocates think Americans are suckers?

Should we not notice that Big Wind already had 22 years of “temporary” tax credits? It used our money to place their bets. It’s time Big Wind is told to gamble with its own money.

Categories: On the Blog

Global Warming, the “Irreconcilable Differences” Issue

December 02, 2014, 2:41 PM

One has to wonder if global warming promoters are oblivious to the manner in which their talking point narratives are plagued with crippling contradictions. Consider the following statements, paraphrased from my own experience of being on the receiving end of such assertions:

“You have no climate science expertise allowing you to comment on whether global warming is happening.” Neither does Al Gore, nor scores of book authors declaring the issue settled, or the collective lot of environmental organization administrators, or any mainstream media reporters.

“You’re a denier of climate change.” But not one skeptic climate scientist or prominent skeptic speaker has ever been seen saying the climate has remained static over the last century, nor has any actually advocated for an unchanging climate. Global warming promoters, on the other hand, appear to advocating for exactly that.

“You’re ignorant.” Of what? Avid followers of the issue who are skeptical of man-caused catastrophic global warming are often adept at citing specific IPCC material in order to point out which climate predictions are failing to happen, and they are often well-versed in related facets of the issue, such as the fine details and overall scope of the ClimateGate scandal.

“You oppose stopping global warming because you are guided by your religious beliefs / economic greed / political views.” Again with advocating for an unchanging climate? But what church do I belong to / what is my economic situation / what political party am I registered in? Can anyone hazard a guess that has any hope of being confirmed? Can anyone do the same on other skeptics?

“You oppose President Obama’s global warming reduction efforts because you’re a racist.” Vice President Biden holds the same views, as does Hillary Clinton. President George W. Bush suggested global warming reduction efforts could be accomplished through voluntary means.

“If you don’t see what runaway global warming is going to do to us in the future, you are crazy.” Diagnosing a person’s mental health is usually left to those having psychology expertise. But we are talking about events that have not yet happened.

“There’s a 97% consensus among climate scientists saying global warming is happening.” It’s more like 100%, but this goes back to the assertion about ‘deniers’ above. Regarding the “97%” talking point, that largely stems from just three reports having highly suspect methodologies, not restricted to just the loaded too-simple question of whether global warming is happening. On top of that, a show of hands has never validated scientific conclusions any time in the entire history of the Scientific Method.

“A minority of denier scientists have long been given media balance by reporters when they never deserved it.” Again with the denier talking point? But show all of us the last ten times when any mainstream media news outlet balanced their news reports about global warming with equal time given to purely scientific viewpoints offered by skeptic scientists.

“Denier scientists don’t publish papers in peer-reviewed journals, the gold standard of determining science conclusions.” Could we stop with the denier talking point? Skeptic scientists most certainly do get their papers published in peer-reviewed journals, they also describe in great detail how that process has been stacked against them by biased science journal editors, and there is at least one instance of where a science conclusion was seen in a science journal and its conclusion was widely cited as a situation to make decisions from. However, the paper’s author was later found guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data for his work The mere presence of a science conclusion in a science journal is therefore no validation of the conclusion’s merits.

“Denier scientists deny that cigarettes cause cancer, that there is an ozone hole, or that acid rain exists.” Each time the ‘denier’ talking point is repeated, it undermines the critic when that individual never proves skeptic climate scientists deny climate change or that global warming has happened over the last century. As for the other points, they would be devastating if only they were supported with actual evidence to prove such a denial took place.

“Well, you and they are shills of Exxon / the Koch brothers / ‘dark money’, and are paid to lie, deceive, and fabricate false reports.” Two words: prove it. If that accusation had any merit, it would have wiped out the skeptic scientists’ credibility more than a decade ago. One more thing, remember who accusers are talking to in this particular situation: I am the one who has access to my bank accounts and my correspondence, and there is no way on Earth anyone can make that accusation stick to me.

“You are an idiot and no amount of reason will change your closed mind.” It must be first proven I am an idiot, that I’ve been presented with reasonable arguments, and that I have rejected such arguments.
I have no climate science expertise, and have said so from the beginning. All I ever did from the start was point to one side of the scientific consideration of the issue completely contradicting the other side. Rather than receive any informed degree of information on why the contradiction existed, I was told to ignore the skeptic side out-of-hand, usually culminating every time with the latter two responses above. The bit about skeptic scientists being paid to lie via industry money at least sounded plausible, but I didn’t proceed farther than just one day into a serious look into where the accusation came from before I ran into irreconcilable differences on who had discovered ‘smoking gun’ evidence proving the accusation to be true, and I could not even find the so-called ‘evidence’ – leaked industry memos – in order to read them for myself. Long story short, when I did find partial copies of the memos seven months later buried in Greenpeace archive scans in a way that ordinary internet searches would not dredge them up, it turns out the memos are not evidence of a sinister top-down industry-wide directive. Worse, narratives about who discovered this ‘industry plot’ are full of holes, and the people surrounding the initial push of the accusation have a lot of explaining to do if they want the accusation to stay afloat.

Basically, the entire global warming issue can be boiled down to a 3-point mantra on “settled science” / “corrupt skeptics” / “reporters may ignore skeptics because of points 1 & 2.” Its promoters almost seem to be praying to whatever god they believe in that nobody will question those assertions.

However, we don’t have to be climate scientists, or really any kind of scientist at all, in order to ask tough questions about the whole issue. We most certainly do not have to be a scientist to ask whether their accusation about ‘corrupt industry funding’ is true, and when it is readily seen how that one folds up like a cheap suit, then the central point in their 3-point mantra implodes, wiping out the other two by default.

[Originally published at New York Analysis]

 

Categories: On the Blog

If Erica Grow Didn’t Rip Up our Global Warming Flier, Maybe She’d Understand the Science Better

December 02, 2014, 2:34 PM

WUSA’s Erica Grow Shows Off Her Strength

Television weather presenter Erica Grow deserves a hearty Thank You for advertising The Heartland Institute’s new pamphlet, “Global Warming: Crisis or Delusion.” Grow also perfectly illustrated how global warming alarmists can expand their knowledge with assistance from the new pamphlet.

Two weeks ago, Grow on her Twitter account posted a photo on her ripping the pamphlet in half and calling the pamphlet “propaganda” and “BS.” Grow’s followers apparently flooded her inbox with dissatisfaction about her Tweet, prompting her to write a column on the WUSA website explaining her actions.

“As you can imagine, a bunch of people got pretty ticked off,” Grow acknowledged.

Grow explained that she called the pamphlet propaganda because the pamphlet concluded by stating, “Public policies should aim at fostering economic growth to adapt to natural climate change.” According to Grow, “The final bullet point is especially egregious because it contains the word ‘should’.” Grow added, “A fact statement cannot contain a persuasive word.”

Curiously, Grow did not call out the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  for similarly advocating for a particular course of action. Just two weeks before Grow’s Twitter tantrum, BBC News published an article titled, “Fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 says IPCC.” As BBC News pointed out, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a stark report that most of the world’s electricity can – and must – be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050.”

So when Grow’s alarmist friends at a United Nations bureaucracy employ stark, strong language in an attempt to dictate energy policy to the United States, Grow considers that science rather than propaganda. By contrast, when climate realists propose policies favoring climate adaptation instead, Grow considers that propaganda rather than science. Hmmm…..

Later in her column, Grow revealed her fundamental lack of understanding about the global warming debate. Grow argued the pamphlet is misleading because “it’s well-documented that the majority of the scientific community agrees with the hypothesis that climate change is at least partially caused by human activity.” However, few skeptics claim global warming is not “at least partially caused by human activity.”

The key issues dividing alarmists and skeptics are the degree of human causation, the pace of recent warming, the proper context of recent warming, the current and likely impacts of global warming, and the desirability of alarmists’ prescribed solutions. By closing her mind to all of these issues merely because she erroneously believes most skeptics dispute any human role in recent warming, Grow has allowed her preexisting lack of knowledge to preclude any future gains in knowledge.

Simply put, objective scientific evidence and an open mind are the best means of discovering scientific truths and implementing beneficial public policy. Grow’s theatrical destruction of a climate science pamphlet that contradicts her own limited knowledge of the topic is a disservice to open and honest scientific discourse. The ironic silver lining, however, is Grow’s actions merely directed more people to the scientific summary.

Categories: On the Blog

Politico Gets the Lede Way Wrong – and The Hill Buries It

December 02, 2014, 2:22 PM

As we’ve often discussed, the Tech World Media is just as hopelessly Leftist and lost as the broader Jurassic Press. They so often get it so very wrong – often because their absurd political perspective warps their alleged “reporting.”

Saturday gave us two additional exquisite examples – one each in Politico and The Hill.

Politico’s headline and sub-head are simply ridiculous.

GOP’s Tech Hurdle: They Don’t Always Get It

2016 candidates want tech money but clash with industry on policy.

Umm…it’s a big industry – with a lot of companies with a lot of policy issues they would like addressed.

There are of course LOTS of tech companies with whom the GOP doesn’t clash much at all.

There are LOTS of the companies Politico means when they say “industry” with whom the GOP does in fact agree on a lot of issues (H-1B visas, anyone?).

For some reason, Politico doesn’t count as industry the companies without whom the rest of industry couldn’t exist – the Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

If the likes of Verizon and Comcast hadn’t invested in the World Wide Web’s networks about a trillion dollars in the last decade, we would never have heard of the likes of Google and Netflix – that Politico bizarrely, exclusively means as “industry.”

ISPs build the roads.  Politico picks fights for their favored “industry” vehicles – without even acknowledging the construction companies that get them everywhere.

A major policy Politico means is Network Neutrality.  Companies like Google and Netflix want government to mandate via Net Neutrality that their free ride on the ISPs’ roads continues unabated.  And why wouldn’t Google and Netflix want that protectionism?

Netflix, (Google’s) YouTube Make Up More Than Half of…Internet Traffic in North America

Net Neutrality – as the Obama Democrats intend to impose it – is a gi-normous uber-regulatory nightmare mess.  That will strangle the Golden Geese that have been laying the Yellow Brick Roads for all to travel.

The ISPs want to remain able to negotiate deals with these huge bandwidth hogs – to have them pay for being huge bandwidth hogs.  Otherwise We the Consumers will continue to pay higher ISP fees – to continue our subsidization of the profits of the Googles and Netflixes.

This Net Neutrality is nothing more than Democrat-donor corporations demanding Crony Socialism.  (It’s not Crony Capitalism – because it has very little to do with capitalism.)

Obama’s Call for ‘Open Internet’ Is All About Google, Amazon and Netflix

Don’t underestimate the rising political clout of Google, Amazon, Netflix and Facebook.

(T)hey want (the government) to limit the ability of Internet Service Providers led by Comcast and Verizon to control which content moves at what speed and at what price.

Of course they do.  The question is – why do much of the Media?

Media like The Hill.  That absolutely buries – under 630 words of preceding text – the only viable legal/policy option.

Five Options for Feds on Net Neutrality

President Obamas plan….

The FCC’s original plan….

Implement hybrid rules….

Do nothing

Why is “Do nothing” the only viable legal/policy option?

GOP lawmakers and the two Republican commissioners sitting on the (Federal Communications Commission) FCC have said (FCC Chairman Tom) Wheeler should wait for Congress to act. 

The courts have twice tossed out attempts to regulate the Web, they note, so the writing should be on the wall.

Indeed it should be.  In fact it is.

The GOP is reading it.  Of course the Huge-Government-to-the-highest-bidder Obama Democrats – who don’t even peruse their own bills – don’t want to.

Neither, it would appear, do the Clueless-Joe-Jackson Jurassic Press.

[Originally published at Newsbusters]

Categories: On the Blog

Steven Moore Says Illinois can Make a Comeback

December 01, 2014, 10:15 AM

Heritage Foundation’s chief economist Steven Moore was in Chicago recently, a guest of Illinois Policy Institute. During his presentation, Moore spoke very highly of Bruce Rauner, having met with him to give advice before the election.

Of importance to Moore is that people are not paying enough attention to how red states are getting redder (run by Republicans with pro-growth and pro-market oriented policies), while blue states are getting bluer. Arkansas was cited as one of the last states to turn red. North Carolina is now a thoroughly red state. In blue states — Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York — Democrats have become even more powerful and the states bluer. The difference being:  Red states practice Reaganomics; blue states have high tax rates which force wealthier people to move.

High tax rates do matter, Moore says. This accounts, in part, for the slow bleed of people and businesses exiting blue states and migrating into red states. We are in an economic war, as states do compete with each other. Voters vote with their feet for policies they think are important to them and their livelihood. Moore listed CA, NY, NJ, and CO as states that must change or else die.

Moore zeroed in on the four largest states, two red (Texas and Florida) and two blue (New York and California).  The difference couldn’t be any starker. There is zero state income tax in the states of TX and FL.  In NY and CA a top income tax rate exists of 13.5%. Nine states have no income tax.

Texas and Florida benefit from being “Right to Work” states.  This doesn’t mean that TX and FL can’t have unions, just that workers can’t be compelled to join a union if they decide not to. Businesses have been heard to say that they prefer locating in Right to Work states. Moore related his experience in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and how unions wanted to come in and unionize.  The point was made that unions would be harmful.  But what really resonated with workers was this cautionary statement, “Don’t turn Chattanooga into Detroit!”  The effort to unionize in Chattanooga was defeated by a vote of 57 – 47.

Where are the jobs

Amazing statistics: In the last 15 years Texas has netted a 74% increase in jobs; Florida, 60%; CA, 35%; and New York, 9%.  For every one job created in CA and NY, three jobs were created in TX and FL.

Steven Moore related a debate with Paul Krugman in which Moore asked Krugman this question:  “States that aren’t doing well did all the things you told them to do to create jobs for working people, but what happened?”  To which Krugman replied:  “People are leaving the North for the South because of the weather.”  Moore’s retort:  “Explain then why the following migration patterns are happening?  CA is a lovely place to live, yet in the last 10 years 1.5 million more people left CA than came to live in CA.  Also, “How do you explain that people are leaving San Diego for Houston?  It’s certainly not for the weather!”  Texas is an amazing place.  Since the recession began in June, 2009, new job growth has been zero in this nation.  Texas has accounted for every new job that has been created in America.

According to Moore, this nation is experiencing an energy revolution.  North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in this nation.  People in North Dakota are getting super rich.  Steve Moore remembered paying a nightly rate of $300 a few years ago to stay at a Best Western hotel.   Moore’s upbeat reaction to the economy is based on fracking and its unbelievable technology.  If this nation can get it right, in five to six years she will move from being an oil-gas importer to an oil-gas exporter.

Why isn’t the economy doing better?

People who run Fortune 500 companies look at their financial situations. Companies have been able to retool themselves and become efficient and productive.  This wouldn’t have happened ten or twenty years ago.  Why then isn’t the economy growing at 4%?  Instead, the economy is in a beetle position.  Companies are not reinvesting money into the economy because they are terrified of Washington, D.C. and the next shoe that might drop. A common attitude among Democrats is that business is evil. It might be said that liberals love jobs, but hate employers. When was the last time President Obama ever said anything positive about big business?

Steve Moore believes that if Obamacare is rolled back, this nation will see one of the greatest economic booms it has ever seen.

Question and Answer Session

The question and answer session had much value and expanded upon many of the ideas expressed by Steven Moore in his remarks.

1.  Question:  How will Bruce Rauner be able to govern Illinois with Madigan still in charge and with super majorities in both the House and the Senate?

Response:  Steve Moore had only positive things to say about Rauner, believing Rauner has the fortitude and backbone to do the right thing, admitting, however, that it will be a huge challenge.  One advantage is that Rauner isn’t beholden to anyone.  If Rauner is privy to a stone wall of opposition from Democrats, as was true with President Reagan, like Reagan, who gave speeches on TV, Rauner must likewise take his case to the people.  Rauner must deal with the following three issues in a timely way: 1) Fixing the pension system, 2) Pulling back the tax increase, and 3) Providing the opportunity for school choice.

2.  Question:  How does Jonathan Gruber fit in with the future of Obamacare?

Response:  Johathan Gruber is important because he demonstrates how the Left will lie, cheat and steal to win, regardless of the issue.  In regard to the issue of Global Warming, which Moore called a hoax, the assumption that science has been settled is not in keeping with the true nature of science, as science is always evolving.  It is so-called elitists, often touting their doctorate degrees, who believe that the populous can’t make decisions for themselves.  They “want to keep the poor people on the reservation.”

3.  Question:  How to deal with the $7 trillion plus increase in the debt since Obama took office

Response:  We must get back to 3% to 4% growth.  The economy needs to grow faster than the debt.  One thing that keeps Steve Moore up at night is the possibility of interest rates spiking. Presently interest rates are low.  On a 10-year Treasury bond the interest rate is 2.3%.  If interest rates do rise, all taxes collected could be used to pay the interest on the debt.  By 2020 the single largest expenditure will not be Medicaid, Medicare, or defense, but interest on the debt.  Bruce Rauner must deal with Illinois’ unfunded pension system.  Moore suggested providing a 401(k) retirement system for workers.

4.  Question: Explain how states change from red to blue states, etc.?

Response:  Colorado was basically a red state until Californians left California and moved to Colorado. Now Colorado is a purple state.  New Hampshire (Live Free or Die state) has gone from a red state to purple as Massachusetts and Connecticut residents moved to New Hampshire.  Democrats tried to turn Texas from a red state to a blue state, but the recent Primary Election exposed their complete failure!  In Texas there are fourteen state-wide races. In all fourteen races, not one of the Democrats running received more than 40% of the vote. Touching on the illegal immigration issue, Moore is in favor of Republicans passing comprehensive immigration reform. Thorner is not with Moore on this issue.  Steve Moore’s explanation:  In Texas 40% to 45% of Hispanics vote Republican; in California they overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Why the difference? According to Moore, in Texas illegal immigrants are put into the work force as soon as they arrive, while in California illegal immigrants are put on welfare which leads to their radicalization.

5.  Question:  What must Republicans do to win more of the minority vote?

Response:  As Woody Allen once said, “90% of life is just showing up”   The 2012 election presented a clear choice of candidates between Mitt Romney and President Obama.  Moore found it disappointing in watching Spanish-orientated TV programs such as Univision before the 2012 election, that the ads run were all sponsored by Democrats which informed Hispanics that Republicans hated them. Where were the Republican ads to counter this assertion. Moore believes that in the presidential elections of 2016, 2020, and 2024, the Republican presidential nominee must speak Spanish.  It was then that Moore expressed his liking for Jeb Bush (Throner cringed in her seat upon hearing Moore’s pronouncement!).  Bruce Rauner did quite well with blacks in Illinois, campaigning as he did in black churches and neighborhoods with this question: “What have they [Democrats] really done for you?”

6.  Question:  What about the city of Chicago?

Response:  Chicago is a world-class city.  It should be “the Hong Kong of the Midwest” if not for its bad leadership.  Moore advised that the first vote in the GOP Senate and House should be for the full repeal of Obamacare.  Lots of Democrats weren’t in office when Obamacare passed without a single vote from Republicans.  Let’s put the Democratic legislators on record.

7.  Question:  What about the surge in the stock market?  People should be feeling better about the economy. 

Response:  Even though Obama remarked before the election that the economy was improving, felt pain of the people doesn’t make it into media reports or via the performance of the stock market. What matters most is real take home pay. This has shrunk under Obama, leading people to believe otherwise about the economy. 52% of the American people still believe this nation is still in recession.  Because of Obamacare, people are dealing with its “49” mandate (businesses with more than 50 workers must provide insurance) and it “29” mandate (people working more than 30 hours a week are entitled to insurance by employer).

8.  Question:  Why are Democrats opposed to fracking?

Response:  Steve Moore called Tom Steyer a “wacko and a global warming fanatic.  It is insane to believe that we can energize this economy with windmills!”  In so far as the Keystone XL pipeline bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate, Democrats can rightly be painted as radical environmentalists.  In their fixation with the environment, which stems from their acceptance of Global Warming as settled science, they are destroying blue collar jobs. Republicans must send this message:  “We are the party who is trying to protect your jobs.  We are on your side.”

Instead of the Heartland pen usually given to guest speakers, Johnathan Greenberg, Vice President of External Relations, presented Steven Moore with one of two attractive ties now available for purchase sporting the Illinois Policy Institute logo.

In closing, Greenberg warned how the media and union bosses are already rallying to make the 5% tax hike permanent.  Their goal is to move Bruce Rauner to where they want him to be.  Greenberg assured attendees that the Illinois Policy Institute would be their voice in pushing against the unions and the media.

As Executive Vice President of the Illinois Policy Institute responsible for executing the Institute’s strategic plan which center on turning liberty principles into marketable policies that become law, Kristina Rasmussen was on hand in Chicago from her headquarters in Springfield, IL, to welcome chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, Steve Moore, to discuss his book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States.  The event was held in the Library at the Chicago headquarters of the Illinois Policy Institute, 190 S. LaSalle St.

[Originally published at Illinois Review

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: James Taylor – Great Lakes Region Is Benefiting From Warming

November 28, 2014, 3:03 PM

Senior Fellow for environment and energy policy for The Heartland Institute sits down with host Donald Kendal to discuss how modest global warming is benefiting the Great Lakes Region growing season.

This year, the midwest has seen record setting crop yields which can be attributed to modest global warming. It is explained that warmer temperatures are beneficial to humanity. The real threat for earth would be a cooling trend.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Australia Embraces the Less Government-Free Trade Model – We Should Too

November 28, 2014, 10:47 AM

We recently referenced the very good news to come from an otherwise very bad President Barack Obama China trip.

U.S., China to Drop Tariffs on Range of Tech Products

The U.S. and China reached an agreement to drop tariffs on a wide range of technology products, in a deal that its backers say could cover $1 trillion in trade and that marks a significant accomplishment amid strained ties between Beijing and Washington.

The two countries late Monday reached a deal to expand the Information Technology Agreement, a global technology trade pact, to cover semiconductors, medical devices, Global Positioning System devices and other newer products, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Tuesday in Beijing.

The deal–reached late Monday after marathon negotiations and more than a year of stalled talks–could be ratified in December by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Our ally Australia certainly seems to get the myriad advantages of a Less Government-Free Trade existence.

Australia and China: Free and Friendly Trade

After ten years of negotiations, Australia and China have agreed to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Let’s hope we all can shave a lot of time off these things.

Ultimately 95 percent of Australian exports to China will be tariff free within the next decade or so.

That is a whole lot of Less Government-Free Trade.

In fact, even before the FTA had gone ahead government ministers were announcing a separatebillion dollar live cattle deal with China.

Free trade deals are force multipliers. Deals beget deals – in large part because sitting down and discussing them warms even the coldest of inter-national relationships.

Australia has been on a roll.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne told Channel Nine at the time, “This is the kind of thing that happens when you have a government that’s focused on economic outcomes So we have aFree Trade Agreement with JapanFree Trade Agreement with South Korea, working on one with China.

And there are so many other nations with which to trade.

Australia’s next priority is to conclude a comprehensive trade partnership deal with India, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday during a state visit to Canberra by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi….

“We want to go further and that’s why the next priority for Australia is a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with India,” Abbott said.

“If I may say so, this is a moment in time. This is the time to get this done.”

Indeed it is. And we too should strike while the iron is hot.

For instance – we Conservatives loathe our domestic Farm Bill. For many, many good reasons. Not the least of which – it is terrible domestic policy that has begotten terrible international policy.

The Global Farm Market: A Crony Socialist Nightmare Mess

(Our domestic Farm Bill) has been for seventy or so years a Government-Knows-Best train wreck. To alter slightly Ronald Reagan’s line:

“Government’s view of the (farm) economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Over those seven decades-plus, our lather-rinse-repeat anti-free-market farm policy warped the emerging global farm market. The world’s growers saw our bad moves  and matched them. Subsidy-for-subsidy, tax-for-tax, protectionism-for-protectionism.

Seven decades later, we have a worldwide Crony Socialist nightmare mess.

An inter-governmental regulatory arms race. Not good.

We Conservatives have tried for at the very least three decades-plus to unilaterally disarm. The results?Not good.

Unwinding the government’s crop protectionism regime has been a 30+ year-long nightmare mess. We who wish to make it all go away have in that time gotten absolutely nowhere in our attempts to do so.

The solution? We have lots of time – our heinous Farm Bill just passed, and is in place for another four-plus years. We should acknowledge what Australian Prime Minister Abbott has rightly noted – and get to negotiating.

The world’s (crop)-producing nations need to sit down together, each with a copy of everyone else’s lists of protectionist policies. And start horse trading.

Brazil  how about if you get rid of this subsidy, we’ll each get rid of one.

Mexico  if you get rid of this tariff, we’ll each get rid of one.

Let the subsequent discussions ensue. Lather, rinse, repeat.

We’ve tried unsuccessfully – for a very long time – to undo our Farm Bill from the inside out. We should now instead try to undo it from the outside-in.

We can – and should – global-free-trade the Farm Bill out of existence.

[Originally published at RedState]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Dear Northeast, How’s That Solar Working Out For Ya?

November 27, 2014, 8:34 AM

A couple of months ago, National Grid, one of Massachusetts’ two dominant utilities, announced rate increases of a “whopping” 37 percent over last year. Other utilities in the region are expected to follow suit.

Why, when natural gas prices are at historic lows that have been predicted to lower electricity rates, is the Northeast facing double-digit increases? Changes have been mandated, but the replacements aren’t ready yet.

New England has seen one big power plant close within the past year: Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Massachusetts—which went “dark” on June 1. Another major closure is scheduled within weeks: Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The Salem Harbor plant is scheduled to be replaced with a new, state-of-the-art natural gas plant—though it has received resistance from Environmental groups who have filed a lawsuit to block it and, once the suit was settled, have threatened other ways to stop the project including civil disobedience. They want the plant to be replaced with renewables.

However, a wind turbine that is iced up or a solar panel that is covered in seven feet of snow doesn’t generate electricity. And the cold days of a Northeast winter are one of the times when energy demand is at its peak.

Remember last winter’s polar vortex, when freezing weather crippled the Northeast for days and put a tremendous strain on the electric supply?

Following the near crisis, utility executives were brought into Congress to explain the situation. Regarding the nation’s electrical output last winter, the CEO of the biggest generator of coal-fueled electricity in the U.S., American Electric Power (AEP), Nicholas Akins told Congress: “This country did not just dodge a bullet—we dodged a cannon ball.” Similarly, Executive VP of Operations for PJM Interconnection (the largest grid operator in the U.S. overseeing 13 states), Michael Kormos, commented on operations during the Polar Vortex: PJM was “never—as some accounts have portrayed—700 megawatts away from rolling blackouts. …On the worst day, January 7, our next step if we had lost a very large generator would have been to implement a small voltage reduction”—industry speak for the last option before power outages.

About last winter’s grid reliability, Glenn Beck claims: “I had an energy guy come to me about three weeks ago. …He said, ‘We were one power plant away from a blackout in the east all winter long… We were using so much electricity. We were at the top of the grid. There’s no more electricity. We’re at the top.’”

We are already facing this winter’s extreme weather. Come January, the Northeast will be down not one, but two power plants since last year—not because they had to be retired, but because of regulations and public sentiment. Without these two vital power plants, what will the Northeast do?

A few months ago, Weather Bell Analytics’ Joe Bastardi told me: “This winter could be as cold and nasty as last year and in a worst case go beyond that to some of the great winters of the late 1970s, lasting all the way into April—though the position of the worst, relative to averages, may be further southeast.” Since then,  I’ve been saying that I am afraid people will have to die due to power outages that prevent them from heating their homes in the winter cold, before the public wakes up to the damage of these policies. Atkins seems to agree. He told Columbus Business First: “Truth be known, something’s probably going to have to happen before people realize that there is an issue.”

ISO New England, the agency that oversees the power grid, warns, in the Boston Globe: “Boston and northeast Massachusetts are ‘expected to face an electricity capacity shortage’ that could lead to rolling blackouts or the use of trailer-mounted diesel generators—which emit far more pollutants than natural gas—to fill the gap.”

As seen at Salem Harbor, those new power plants will likely be natural gas and building those new power plants will face challenges from environmental groups. Plus, natural gas faces cost volatility. Natural gas consumption in the Northeast has grown more than 20% in the last decade, and not one new pipeline has been built. Current pipelines are stuffed and can carry no more supply.

The lack of available supply, results in higher prices. In the winter’s cold weather, the gas goes to people’s homes first. Different from coal, which is shipped by train, with a thirty-day supply easily held at the point of use, the switch to natural gas leaves power plants struggling to meet demand, paying higher prices.

These shortages in the Northeast are before the implementation of the Clean Power Plan that is expected to shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants nationwide by 2016. New infrastructure needs to be built, but “not-in-my-backyard” attitudes and environmental activists will likely delay or prevent construction as they have done in the Northeast—which will result in shortages and higher costs nationwide.

Two lessons from the Northeast’s far-reaching experiment are:

1)    Don’t shut down existing supply, until the replacement is ready as legal action and local attitudes can slow its development.

2)    You can cover every square inch of available land with wind and solar, but when extreme whether hits, a reliable energy supply is required—best met by coal and nuclear.

Current policy will have all of America, not just the Northeast, freezing in the dark.

 

(A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com)

Categories: On the Blog

Obama Fiddles While Ferguson Burns

November 26, 2014, 4:32 PM

The Ferguson Riots are now part of President Obama’s legacy.

Remember when an about-to-be elected President of the United States promised that the rise of the oceans had begun to slow and our planet had begun to heal? When the fine folks in Oslo awarded a newly-inaugurated American president the Nobel Peace Prize for acts yet to be accomplished? When the President of the United States said “there is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America”?

When the biracial son of an African father and an America mother, educated overseas and in some of America’s finest private schools, promised “Hope and Change,” including a new feel-good era of race relations as millions of white Americans lined up to vote for America’s first Black president?

Like George Lucas’s “Star Wars” saga, that now seems a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

The Russian ex-KGB agent whom Obama promised he’d be “more flexible” with after his election has invaded neighboring Ukraine with impunity and now sends Russian bombers to patrol the Gulf of Mexico, which had been a sole sphere of this country’s influence since the time that James Monroe was President.

The Islamic State that the Obama administration derided as the “junior varsity” (and helped prompt Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s recent resignation in part for having disagreed) is on the march in Syria and Iraq with captured American weapons and stolen bank money, beheading Americans on YouTube while the president goes off to play golf.

And in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of one of the country’s oldest and most beautiful cities west of the Alleghenies, the city burns over racial tensions that the president had implicitly promised to heal but has done nothing other than to exacerbate.

When Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was mistakenly arrested while trying to break into his own house in Boston, President Obama, without knowing the facts, automatically took the side of the befuddled Black professor against the white police officer just trying to protect the professor’s property. The forced and awkward “beer summit” that followed must surely be one of the most stilted and embarrassing moments in modern presidential history.

When a hooded interloper provoked a fatal fight with a suspicious Hispanic neighborhood watch commander in Sanford, Florida, the president automatically took the side of the Black man over the Hispanic by announcing that “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.”

And when 28-year old white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed in apparent self-defense a six-foot-four, nearly 300 pound thug who had just robbed a neighborhood convenience store and roughed up the clerk, Obama did nothing to keep his Attorney General, Eric Holder, and discredited community agitator Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharpton from going to Ferguson to heighten existing racial tensions.

When a St. Louis County grand jury announced Monday night that, after three months of investigation, it found no probable cause to charge Officer Wilson with a crime in the shooting of Michael Brown, the president almost immediately took to the airwaves. Ostensibly calling for calm, the president then added these unhelpful words: “there are Americans who are deeply upset, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction.” And almost simultaneously, as documented in side-by-side video, what had been a peaceful if ominous protest broke out in violence, looting, shooting, and arson.

This is not to blame the president for America’s racial troubles, born in slavery and the tribalist identity politics that pervade too much of the world. But a president of the United States should remember at all times that he is president of all the people, not just of members of his ancestral homeland or his adopted tribe.

The problems of Ferguson, Missouri, and of Michael brown himself go far, far beyond anything Barack Obama has ever said or ever will do. Indeed, it may be mostly coincidence that the Ferguson protest turned ugly just as the president spoke. But in yet another moment in which Barack Obama could have made a difference and was perhaps uniquely qualified, the president was once again tested and once again found wanting.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Jim Lakely – How Net Neutrality Will Ruin the Internet

November 26, 2014, 12:53 PM

Co-Director of Heartland’s Center on the Digital Economy, Jim Lakely discusses Net Neutrality with guest host Mike Siegel on the Howie Carr Show. Siegel and Lakely talk about the latest Net Neutrality news and what it would mean for the Internet.

In this 30 minute segment, Lakely and Siegel talk about the potential pitfalls of Net Neutrality. How will it impact service providers and content providers. They discuss how Net Neutrality may have large implications and how it most certainly will curtail innovation. In the second half of the segment, Side

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Turning Climate Into Cash

November 26, 2014, 12:50 PM

As this is being written, all fifty states have freezing weather and nearly a month before the winter solstice on December 21 some northeastern cities are buried in record-setting snowfalls.

 At what point will the public conclude that virtually everything that we have been told about “global warming” and “climate change” by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) as well as U.S. government agencies we’re supposed to trust has been bogus, based on computer models, none of which have proven to be accurate? 

 At what point will the public conclude that climate, a perfectly natural phenomenon so vast and so powerful, is being exploited in order to transfer large amounts of money from wealthy nations to those who are not? It is redistribution of wealth on a global scale. That is the primary reason for the U.N. climate fund. A total of $9.3 billion has been pledged by several nations.

 My friend, Marc Morano, said this about the U.N. Green Climate Fund: ‘It’s going to be a giant green slush fund of money distributed by the U.N. through political patronage system. It’s all designed to make climate an issue that every government has to pay attention to.”

 “This is a new political party—if you will—the climate party, and it’s demanding a lot of fees and it’s demanding a lot of spending.  The U.N. bureaucracy loves to spend money, loves to have scandals, loves to empower themselves. So this is all about empowering UN bureaucrats, diplomats and delegates and the UN’s own sense of self importance.” 

 Morano is the Communications Director for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and executive editor and chief correspondent for the award-winning ClimateDepot.com, a global warming and eco-news center founded in 2009. He has been on the front line of combating the lies told about global warming and climate change for many years.

 I have been an advisor to CFACT over the years, sharing information that has consistently debunked what I regard as the greatest hoax of the modern era.

The worst part of the hoax was and is the billions that have been squandered on the bogus, useless “scientific” studies intended to keep it going. Then there have been billions more spent on the near useless “renewable” energy projects that have only demonstrated that wind turbines kill hundreds of thousands of birds and solar farms have the same affect. The electricity they produce is minimal and so unpredictable it requires the backup of traditional fossil-fueled energy plants.

 The near total lack of the impact of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere on its climate has not stopped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from using carbon dioxide as justification for issuing a torrent of regulations that are crippling the provision of energy nationwide, attacking private property rights, and slowing the growth of our economy.

 Thanks to Mother Nature, Americans and others around the world experiencing the 19-year-old cooling cycle the Earth has been in are beginning to realize that humans have nothing to do with causing climate change.

 Sadly, too many world leaders, including our own, keep talking about climate change as if it was something we can influence by a reduction of “greenhouse gas” emissions. That’s just another way of saying use less energy.

The world leaders are wrong. Some are just flat out lying.

Editor’s Note: 

“According to Weatherbell: More than 85% of the surface area of the Lower 48 reached or fell below freezing Tuesday morning, November 18. All 50 states saw at or below freezing temperatures that day.

Boston.com reported 1,360 daily low maximum records were set, meaning  those 1,360 cities and towns saw their coldest daily highs ever recorded. In addition, snow covered more than 50 percent of the country, more than twice the coverage the U.S. usually experiences in mid-November CNN reported areas in Buffalo, New York, among other cities along the Great Lakes, experienced a year’s snow in just three days.”

 

Categories: On the Blog

The ‘Non-smoking Gun’ Leaked Memos Pattern

November 25, 2014, 4:00 PM

If five different instances of leaked memos from ‘anti-global warming’ interests are supposed to be proof that skeptic climate scientists are paid to lie the public in a manner parallel to the way shill experts were paid to lie by the old tobacco industry, wouldn’t that be more devastating if there was actual proof within the ‘anti-global warming’ interests’ memos to back up that corruption accusation?

A look at the overall situation with all five memo leaks reveals a situation that undermines the collective effort.

The genuine leaked memos offered no more than an insight into the Heartland Institute’s budget for material they use to tell skeptic climate scientists’ side of the issue. One additional document is highly suspect, likely an outright fabrication to give the rest of the memos some kind of sinister intent which they don’t have by themselves. Not helping the matter one bit is how Desmogblog (the web site Ross Gelbspan founded, as he says 8 seconds into this interview) was the first organization to break the memo leak news, and how one person points out that “only 38 minutes elapsed between Gleick’s Epson Scan metadata timestamp and DeSmogBlog’s posting of the files.” Surely this would have been news that should have been sent first to an established news outlet such as the New York Times.

Of all people to comment on this situation, Ross Gelbspan’s blog post at Desmogblog described how the IREA memo was “dubbed a ‘Vampire Memo’ because it resurrects an earlier campaign which was discredited and abandoned in the mid 1990s.” He’s speaking of his favorite Western Fuels ICE campaign memo set with the “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” phrase that carried him into a second career. True, it was cut short by Western Fuels after a very brief time, but the jury is certainly out on whether it was discredited. But one of the other odd things about Gelbspan’s efforts to tell the story of the IREA memo is how he linked to a full context scan of it at his Desmog piece. He’s never done the same with the ICE memos. Since the ICE memos are hardly different than the IREA memo – all describing little more than forming and implementing a science-based rebuttal to Al Gore’ politicized version of global warming – Gelbspan’s show of the IREA memo is strangely self-defeating.

In this one, the controversy was over an Exxon representative’s suggestion to the George W. Bush administration that Dr. Robert Watson ought to be kicked out of the IPCC and how “lobbyists for energy companies and auto manufacturers” were “expected to press the administration to endorse Dr. Pachauri.” That’s the same Rajendra Pachauri that Ross Gelbspan mentioned in a 2002 interview about the Exxon memo, where he said the Bush administration “supported the nomination of Dr. Pachauri, who is not a scientist.” (full text here, where Gelbspan also suggested Pachauri’s oil industry ties would make him an ally of the Bush Administration). Gelbspan flip-flopped in 2007, labeling him a ‘leading scientist’, (full text here) despite the fact that Dr Pachauri only has a Master’s and a PhD degree in Industrial Engineering. As for the Exxon memo itself, enviro-activists portray it as having evil intent, but an objective reading of it instead draws attention to potential bias of particular people and situations that were worthy of more scrutiny.

Right off the bat, the API memos were hardly different than the IREA or Western Fuels one, when we see the way the NY Times described IREA as, “a campaign to recruit a cadre of scientists who share the industry’s views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases.” The problem here is how the NYT had it backwards, it was industry who learned about and then shared the views of the skeptic scientists. But beyond that, the NYT not only failed to establish any intent to direct the skeptics to lie, it also launched into a swipe at skeptics over the Oregon Petition Project, which was also the target of smear efforts at that time by the old Ozone Action group…. the very same group where Gelbspan had a most troubling association.

  • The original Western Fuels Association memo leak of 1991.

This one is what my work is all about, because among all those other so-called ‘leaked memo scandals’, this is the only one having any plausible wording which could be interpreted as evidence of a sinister directive prompting skeptic scientists to knowingly lie about global warming: the infamous “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” phrase, along with the related “older, less educated men and young, low-income women” words – the latter of which seen in Al Gore’s 1992 book being a big problem when Gore later says Gelbspan discovered the plot behind this memo set. It gets one step worse with the single line of disclosure Gelbspan offered only one time about “An official of the campaign denies that strategy of targeting selected groups was ever implemented.” If that strategy was never implemented, did the original leaker of the ICE memos fail to mention it to the people receiving the leaked memos? And did Al Gore know of this situation before he mentioned those phrases in his 1992 book?

All five of these leaked memo situations share the same problem: they’re literally nothing more than guilt-by-association, when it comes to portraying skeptic climate scientists as paid industry shills. All show and no go.

There is one more thing to consider here, in light of the 2012 Heartland Institute memo leak apparently being so devoid of damaging material that a false cover memo had to be fabricated to give the whole thing some punch. How do we know the original Western Fuels Association memo leak didn’t fall under that same fate?

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Pam Snyder – Greenhouse Gas Regulation Implementation Act

November 25, 2014, 3:31 PM

Democrat State Representative Pam Snyder representing Pennsylvania’s 50th district is the author of House Bill 2354, called the Pennsylvania Greenhouse Gas Regulation Implementation Act, which was signed by into law by Gov. Tom Corbett on October 22, 2014.  This important piece of legislation was developed in response to the Obama administration proposed a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 from power plants.

Representative Snyder wanted to ensure that the people of the state of Pennsylvania had a voice in shaping the new greenhouse gas regulations that could prove so costly to the state.

“[M]y legislation guarantees Pennsylvania will have a State plan – with direct input from the elected members of the General Assembly – and that the plan will be built on a least-cost basis with an additional focus on electric reliability. This pro-consumer approach balances all of Pennsylvania’s interests,”

 

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Categories: On the Blog

A European Revolution Against Google’s Virtual Colonialization?

November 25, 2014, 10:42 AM

The European Parliament reportedly is scheduled to vote this week on a political non-binding resolution urging the European Commission to “enforce EU competition rules decisively” against search engines, i.e. Google.

What is going on?

In a nutshell, this vote has three big effective implications. It is a political revolt and declaration of Independence from Google’s virtual hegemony. It is a rejection of former EC Vice President Almunia’s gross mishandling of the Google competition case. And it is a vote for a European “single digital market” to promote European economic growth and job creation.

A Political Revolt & Declaration of Independence

First, this European Parliament vote is effectively a political revolt and a EuropeanDeclaration of Independence from Google’s de facto virtual colonialization of the European digital marketplace and Google’s exceptional data dominance, and hegemony, over Europeans’ personal information.

Google dominates >90% of the European search market, and apparently has abused its search dominance to proliferate Google’s dominance over personal data, digital advertising, mobile, maps and other key European digital markets.

Personal data “is the new currency of the Internet” and Google is “a business with a huge, huge, huge market share,” testified Margrethe Vestager, the new EC Vice President for Competition before the European Parliament, who has sweeping enforcement power over how Google competes, operates, and transacts in the European Union. Vice President Vestager added that “particular alertness is needed to ensure that dominant players respect the rules” in the digital sector.

The European Parliament’s vote serves as a political referendum on Google’s treatment of European citizens as virtual vassals of a virtual sovereign Google – without any real rights to know, own or control their private data that Google routinely seizes without European consumers’ meaningful consent.

Europeans appreciate that Google has repeatedly defied Europe’s data protection authorities’ enforcement that Europeans have a right to opt out of Google’s consolidation of their personal data across sixty Google services.

They also are aware of Google’s passive-aggressive opposition to the European High Court’s right to be forgotten ruling by effectively encouraging Europeans to evade the Court’s decision by going to Google.com rather than their own countries domain. And they appreciate Google’s strong opposition to storing Europeans’ private data physically in the EU under EU sovereign jurisdiction.

Rejection of VP Almunia’s Mishandling of Google Competition Case

Second, this European Parliament vote is also an opportunity for Europe’s leaders to formally and strongly repudiate the mishandling of the EC’s Google competition case over the last four years by the former EC VP for Competition Joaquin Almunia. VP Almunia repeatedly refused to prosecute Google despite his repeated public warnings that he would prosecute Google for its alleged four abuses of its dominance.

Mr. Almunia’s proposed Google settlement mimicked the U.S. FTC’s weak Google settlement, which was based on weaker U.S. antitrust law.

It also appeared to be a unilateral surrender of European sovereignty to Google’s virtual sovereignty because: first it did not conclude Google’s >90% share was in fact dominant; second it did not conclude Google did anything wrong despite its findings of four abuses of dominance; third it would impose no fine or sanction that would deter future abuses; fourth it would provide no relief for those harmed by Google’s many abuses; and finally it would have handcuffed future EC enforcement going forward by shutting down any additional Google search investigation for five years despite growing search complaints of Google abuses.

Support for a European Single Digital Market

In order to form a more perfect European Union, one of the top priorities of the new European Commission is the creation of a European “single digital market” in order to generate economic and job growth in the years ahead.

EU nations, including their citizens, businesses, and media, now understand that for all practical purposes they are virtually-dependent on Google to an exceptional extent to find and monetize information online, and for many mobile and map services.

As effective digital colonies of Google, their exceptional online dependency on Google is in stark contrast to other sovereign nations which have chosen to develop indigenous search engines like: the Czech Republic (Seznam has 45% share), South Korea (Naver has 72% share), China (Baidu has76% share), and Russia (Yandex has 62% share).

Simply, this vote for a single digital market is about Europe reclaiming sovereign control over Europe’s economy, culture, and data protection, because Google has effectively seized virtual sovereign control over much of Europe via its dominance, abuses of dominance and seizure of private data without the meaningful consent of individual Europeans.

In sum, Europe’s political leaders are wisely creating political unity and legitimacy around addressing the grand problem of reining in Google’s proliferating dominance and abuses of dominance before the European Commission seriously challenges Google with legal enforcement action in the months and years ahead.

European leaders understand this effectively is an epic battle over who will rule sovereign over Europe’s virtual world and digital marketplace, Europeans or Google?

It also is a fight that neither Europe nor Google can afford to lose.

No one should expect Google to acquiesce. It is antithetical to everything in their being.

With this upcoming vote for European political consensus around Europe’s single digital market, Europe is making it much harder for Google to continue its longstanding chauvinism and imperiousness that Google knows better than Europeans what is best for Europe and Europeans.

Categories: On the Blog

Dear Northeast, How’s That Solar Working Out For Ya?

November 25, 2014, 10:25 AM
A couple of months ago, effective in November, National Grid, one of Massachusetts’ two dominant utilities, announced rate increases of a “whopping” 37 percent over last year. Other utilities in the region are expected to follow suit. It’s dramatic headlines like these that make rooftop solar sound so attractive to people wanting to save money. In fact, embedded within the online version of the Boston Globe story: “Electric rates in Mass. set to spike this winter,” is a link to another article: “How to install solar power and save.” The solar story points out: “By now everyone knows that solar power can save homeowners big money on utility bills.” It claims that solar works even in New England’s dreary winters and cites Henry K. Vandermark, founder and president of Solar Wave Energy in Cambridge, as saying: “Even snow doesn’t matter if your panels have a steep angle. It just slides right off them.”   Solar is not the panacea it is promoted to be, though it is true that—after a substantial investment, heavy government subsidies (funded by all taxpayers), and generous net-metering programs (that raise costs for non-solar customers)—solar systems can save money on the typical homeowners’ monthly bill. (An unsubsidized system averages about $24,000.)   New England has seen one big power plant close within the past year—Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Massachusetts went “dark” on June 1, in part due to tightening federal regulations. Another major closure will take place within weeks: Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.   A new, state-of-the-art natural gas plant on 18 acres of the 65-acre Salem site will replace the Salem Harbor plant. The remaining 47 acres will see redevelopment, including renewable energy. But, that plan has received pushback from environmental groups that want it fully replaced with renewables. The Boston Globe states: “A decade ago, replacing the aging plant with a far cleaner natural gas facility would have thrilled environmental and public health advocates.” The Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit against the project’s approval, claiming the state “failed to adequately consider its own climate change law when state energy officials approved the Salem plant.” In February, the group settled the suit after it caused construction delays and reliability concerns.   Just days before the plant closed, a report from The Daily Climate addressed the controversy over usage of the Salem Harbor site: “Many activists pushed back, arguing for wind or solar generation or non-energy uses, such as a marine biotechnology research facility.” One activist group: HealthLink, “has marshaled opposition to running a gas line to the new plant” and another: Grassroots Against Another Salem Plant (GAASP), “has pledged to use peaceful civil disobedience to block construction of the gas plant.” The state of Massachusetts has offered three closed, or scheduled to be closed, coal-fueled power plant sites $6 million to pursue renewable energy projects—even though wind and solar require full back up from fossil fuel power plants so electricity is available in the frigid Northeast winters. Additionally, a new report from two Stanford Ph.Ds., who spent 4 years trying to prove renewables can, ultimately, replace fossil fuels, have had to admit defeat: “Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.” Having lived with the 63-year old Salem Harbor plant in her back yard for 20 years, Linda Haley, doesn’t, according to WGBH News, “understand why Salem would encourage use of a non-renewable fossil-fuel resource like natural gas when alternative investments in green technology finally seem possible.” These stories reveal the snow job that has been perpetuated on the general public regarding renewable energy. They don’t understand the need for power or how it works. They seem to believe that when a rule passes a magic wand waves replacing older, but still fully functional, power plants with wind or solar—that doesn’t produce electricity 24/7/365 as do the decommissioned coal or nuclear plants and which requires far more land to produce the same amount of, albeit intermittent, electricity. An iced up wind turbine or a solar panel covered in seven feet of snow—even if some of it slides off—doesn’t generate electricity. And the cold days of a Northeast winter create one of the times when energy demand peaks. Remember last winter’s polar vortex, when freezing weather crippled the Northeast for days and put a tremendous strain on the electric supply? Congress, following the near crisis, brought in utility executives to explain the situation. Regarding the nation’s electrical output last winter, Nicholas Akins, the CEO of the biggest generator of coal-fueled electricity in the U.S., American Electric Power (AEP), told Congress: “This country did not just dodge a bullet—we dodged a cannon ball.” Similarly, Michael Kormos, Executive VP of Operations for PJM Interconnection (the largest grid operator in the U.S. overseeing 13 states), commented on operations during the polar vortex: PJM was “never—as some accounts have portrayed—700 megawatts away from rolling blackouts. … On the worst day,January 7, our next step if we had lost a very large generator would have been to implement a small voltage reduction”—industry speak for the last option before power outages. About last winter’s grid reliability, Glenn Beck claims: “I had an energy guy come to me about three weeks ago. …He said, ‘We were one power plant away from a blackout in the east all winter long… We were using so much electricity. We were at the top of the grid. There’s no more electricity. We’re at the top.’”   This winter’s extreme weather—with new records set for November power demand—has already arrived. Come January, there will be not one, but two fewer Northeast power plants since last year—not because they had to be retired, but because of EPA regulations and public sentiment. In a November 17 op-ed, former Senators Bayh (D-IN) and Judd (R-NH) said: “Vermont Yankee produced 26 percent of New England’s power during the peak of last year’s frigid weather.” The Northeast won’t have Vermont Yankee’s power this January.   Without these two vital power plants, what will the Northeast do?   For several months, since I had a chat with Weather Bell Analytics’ Joe Bastardi at theInternational Conference on Climate Change, I’ve continued to say that I fear people will have to die due to power outages that prevent them from heating their homes in the winter cold, before the public wakes up to the damage of these policies. AEP’s Atkins seems to agree. He told Columbus Business First: “Truth be known, something’s probably going to have to happen before people realize that there is an issue.”   “New England is in the midst of an energy crisis,” claims WGBH News. The report continues: “residents and businesses are facing a future that may include ‘rolling blackouts’ on days when usage is highest.”   ISO New England, the agency that oversees the power grid, warns, in the Boston Globe: “Boston and northeast Massachusetts are ‘expected to face an electricity capacity shortage’ that could lead to rolling blackouts or the use of trailer-mounted diesel generators—which emit far more pollutants than natural gas—to fill the gap.” Ray Hepper, the lawyer for ISO New England, in a court filing, wrote: “The ISO simply cannot make megawatts of generation materialize that are not on the system.” In an interview, he added: “We’re really, as a region, at the point of needing new power plants.”   As the Salem Harbor story illustrates, natural gas will likely fuel those new power plants and environmental groups are expected to challenge construction. Plus, natural gas faces cost volatility. On November 20, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in the wake of November cold, not experienced since the 1970s when global cooling was predicted, featured an article titled: “Chill pushes up natural-gas prices” that stated: “Natural-gas stockpiles shrank by more than expected last week reflecting surging demand.” As in the ’70s, many are now projecting, based on solar activity and other natural variables, a long global cooling trend. While the Boston Globe, in September, said: “The upcoming winter is not expected to be as cold as last season,” Bastardi told me otherwise. He said: “This winter could be as cold and nasty as last year and in a worst case go beyond that to some of the great winters of the late 1970s, lasting all the way into April. As it is, we still have a winter comparable to last year forecasted, though the position of the worst, relative to averages, may be further southeast than last year.” During a November 19 appearance with Neil Cavuto, Bastardi suggested that we may see a bit of warming after November, but will have one, or two, very cold months after that.   The WSJ quoted Brian Bradshaw, portfolio manager at BP Capital in Dallas: “‘Everyone thinks it’s not possible’ to have another winter like last year ‘But the weather does impossible things all the time.’” WSJ added: “the natural-gas market is setting up for a repeat of last winter.”   So, why, when natural gas prices sit at historic lows that experts predicted will lower electricity rates, is the Northeast facing double-digit increases? The answer: there is no magic wand. The changes have been mandated, but the replacements aren’t ready yet. Ray Gifford, former commissioner with the Colorado Public Utility Commission, told me: “I don’t see how the gas infrastructure in New England can be built fast enough to replace retiring baseload capacity.”   Within the past decade, natural gas went from supplying less than a fifth of New England’s power to one half—which could be great if New England had natural gas, but it is, as Tim Maverick, Commodities Correspondent for Wall Street Daily, says: “gas-starved.” After last winter’s freezing weather, Maverick wrote: “The Northeast was slapped in the face with the reality that there’s not sufficient pipeline infrastructure to provide it with the mega-energy pull it draws in the colder season. This is probably because not one new pipeline infrastructure has been introduced in over 40 years. Natural gas consumption in the Northeast has grown more than 20% in the last decade, and not one new pipeline has been built. Current pipelines are stuffed and can carry no more supply.”   At the Edison Electric Institute financial conference on November 11, AEP’s Atkins confirmed that the proposed timeline to cut pollution from the EPA will shutter coal plants before completion of construction of new power plants using other fuels, or the infrastructure to move the needed natural gas around.   The lack of available supply, results in higher prices. The Boston Globe explains: “gas supplies for home heating are purchased under long-term contracts arranged far in advance, so utilities have the advantage of locking in lower rates. Power plants, on the other hand, often buy shorter-term and are more exposed to price movements in the spot markets.” In the winter’s cold weather, the gas goes to people’s homes first. Different from coal, which is shipped by train, with a thirty-day supply easily held at the point of use, the switch to natural gas leaves power plants struggling to meet demand, paying higher prices.   Addressing the 2013/2014 winter, Terry Jarrett, a former public service commissioner and a nationally recognized leader in energy, utility, and regulatory issues, said: “Natural gas couldn’t shoulder that burden, due in part to a shortage of infrastructure to deliver gas where it was needed—this despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere. But more importantly, whereas coal’s sole purpose is to generate electricity, natural gas is also used for home heating. And when push comes to shove, heating gets priority over generation.”   Last winter, coal and nuclear met the demand to keep the lights on and heat homes and businesses. AEP reports that 89 percent of its coal plants, now slated for retirement, ran at capacity just to meet the peak demand.   These shortages in the Northeast occur before the implementation of Obama’s Clean Power Planthat experts believe will shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants nationwide by 2016. New pipelines and new plants need to be built, but “not-in-my-backyard” attitudes and environmental activists will probably further delay and prevent construction as they have done in the Northeast, which will result in higher electric bills nationwide.   “Because less-expensive coal generation is retiring and in part is being replaced by demand-response or other potential high energy cost resources, excess generation will narrow and energy prices could become more volatile due to the increasing reliance on natural gas for electricity generation,” PJM’s Kormos told Congress.   The lessons for America’s energy supply learned from the Northeast’s far-reaching experiment, that has only resulted only in price increases and potential energy shortages, are twofold. First, don’t shut down existing supply until the replacement is ready, as legal action and local attitudes can slow its development. Second, you can cover every square inch of available land with wind and solar, but when extreme weather hits, it requires a reliable energy supply, best met by coal and nuclear.   Current policy direction will have all of America, not just the Northeast, freezing in the dark. I hope it can it be turned back before it is too late.     [A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com]

 

Categories: On the Blog

The Government Assaults ‘Big Dogs’ – To Advantage the Biggest Dog of Them All

November 25, 2014, 9:24 AM
One of the largest myths going is that government helps the Little Guy.

On it’s face this is patently absurd.  More government – taxes and/or regulations – raises the costs of everything for everyone.  The Big Guys are far better equipped to absorb the punishment – while the Little Guys are pummeled into un-existence.

Then there’s the Crony Socialism – it’s not Crony Capitalism, because it has very little to do with capitalism.  Wherein Big Guys – who have the wherewithal – bend government policy to their will.  To their advantage – and against that of the Little Guys seeking to compete with them.  For instance:

Green Scam: 80% of Green Energy Loans Went to (President Barack) Obama Donors

Crony Socialists Looking to Ban Online Gambling Don’t Seem to Realize It’s a WORLD WIDE Web

Obama Donor’s Firm Hired to Fix Health Care Web Mess It Created

Obama Crony Wins Contract to Give Phones to Jobless

Obama’s United Auto Workers Bailout

Which brings us to the ridiculous Network Neutrality political rhetoric being extruded by the Obama Administration.

President Obama his own self recently said this:

“(N)et neutrality”…says that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations….

Then there’s Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of the President’s allegedly politics-free, independent Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

FCC Chief on Net Neutrality: ‘The Big Dogs Are Going to Sue, Regardless’

First – why are these lawsuits inevitable?  Because the FCC has already twice unilaterally imposed Net Neutrality – and twice the D.C. Circuit Court has unanimously overturned the orders as outside the bounds of their authority.

Rather than complaining about additional suits to again fend off the Leviathan – perhaps the Leviathan should pull in its tentacles.  Especially when it has already had two lopped off by Courts.  As Jonah Goldberg has said: Don’t just do something – stand there.

But wait a minute – which “Big Dogs” does Wheeler mean?  The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) government intends to yet again assault.

To be sure, Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, et. al are big companies.

Verizon: ~ $207 billion.

Comcast: ~ $140 billion.

AT&T: ~ $183 billion.

But they aren’t looking for Crony Socialist favors from government – merely protection from its monumental overreaches.

Then there’s this plucky little upstart for whom the Obama Administration is fighting.

Google: ~ $370 billion.

Get that?  Google is bigger than Verizon and Comcast – combined.

Google has spent the last decade-plus shoving Net Neutrality down our throats.

Google…Support(s) Net Neutrality, Call(s) For Extension To Mobile Providers

Google has uber-generously funded pro-Net Neutrality Leftist efforts.  It twice helped President Obama get elected.  Google CEO Eric Schmidt was one of the first Obama Administration “adviser” hires.

The relationship really is that syrupy:

Obama & Google – A Love Story

So this isn’t a galloping shock:

Who Wins the Net Neutrality Debate? Google, of Course

No matter how the FCC rules next year, Google can move forward with fiber rollouts, even if they’re restricted, because it will still be earning far-healthier revenues from carrying content.

Google’s two-pronged strategy has been obvious for a long time, but lately it has looked genius given the net neutrality battle….

(I)t’s a strategy only a very large company could undertake….

Get that?  Google is more than Big Guy enough to absorb the government hit – the Little Guys looking to compete with them aren’t.

“It’s a strategy only a very large company could undertake” – using government to make the marketplace untenable for anyone but themselves.

Creating for Google a for-all-intents-and-purposes government-mandated monopoly.

The very thing the Obama Administration – with its gi-normous Internet overreach – alleges it is attempting to address/prevent.

To paraphrase George Orwell: All monopolies are equal – but some are more equal than others.

To paraphrase Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Google will be a son-of-a-bitch monopoly – but it’ll be our son-of-a-bitch monopoly.

Don’t be evil.”  Enjoy the Crony Socialism, All.

[Originally published at Human Events]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Gates and Pearson Partner to Reap Tens of Millions from Common Core

November 25, 2014, 1:05 AM

Follow the money. It all ends up in the hands of a very few. Pearson Foundation is getting the contracts because of its partnership with the Bill Gates Foundation. Greed, secrecy, deceptions, and lies …. and to think Democrats accuse Republicans of the very things, while Democrats are the ones using government to get richer. The deceptions run very deep. It’s time for exposure.

The saga begins on one summer day in 2008, when Gene Wilhoit, director of a national group of state school chiefs, and David Coleman (known as the architect of Common Core), knowing they needed tens of millions of dollars and a champion to overcome the politics that had thwarted previous attempts to institute national standards, approached Bill Gates at his headquarters near Seattle, to convince Gates and his wife to sign on to their idea.  Gates, upon asking if states were serious about common educational standards, was assured that they were. Gates signed on and the remarkable shift in education policy know as Common Core was born.

The Gates Foundation has spent over $170 million to manipulate the U.S. Department of Education to impose the CSSS, knowing it would realize a return on this investment as school districts and parents rush to buy the technology products they’ve been convinced are vital to improving education.  Bill Gates’ Microsoft will make a fortune form the sale of new technology products.  According to the Gates Foundation, CCSS is seen as a “step to greater excellence in education.”

On April 27, 2011 the Gates Foundation joined forces with the Pearson Foundation, a British multi-national conglomerate, representing the largest private business maneuvering for U.S. education dollars. Pearson executives saw the potential to secure lucrative contracts in testing, textbooks and software worth tens of millions of dollars.

Its partnership with the Gates Foundation was to support America’s teachers by creating a full series of digital instructional resources. Online courses in Math and Reading/English Language Arts would offer a coherent and systemic approach to teaching the new Common Core State Standard. The aim: To create an online curriculum for those standards in mathematics and English language arts that span nearly every year of a child’s pre-collegiate education. This aim has already been realized and is in practice in Common Core states.

The Pearson and Gates foundations also fund the Education Development Center (EDC) based in Waltham, Massachusetts. It is a global nonprofit organization that designs teacher evaluation policy.  Both stand to benefit from EDC recommendations. The center is involved in curriculum and materials development, research and evaluation, publication and distribution, online learning, professional development, and public policy development.

Its alignment with the Gates Foundation and Common Core, Pearson dominates the education testing and is raking in profits as school districts are pushed to replace paper textbooks with digital technology.  For example, the Los Angeles school system with 651 students, spent over $1 billion in 2013 to purchase iPads from Pearson.  Additionally, The Los Angeles school purchased Pearson’s Common Core Systems of Courses to provide all the primary instructional material for math and English/language arts for K-12, even though the material were incomplete in 2013.

Pearson’s profits will continue to increase as it has billions of dollars in long-term contracts with education department in a number of states and municipalities to introduce both testing software and the teacher training software and textbooks it claims are necessary to prepare for the tests. For example, Illinois has paid Pearson $138 million to produce standardized tests; Texas, $50 million; and New York, $32 million.

Pearson is really raking in the dough now that Pearson VUE, the assessment services wing of Pearson, has acquired examination software development company Exam Design.  CTS/McGraw-Hill is Pearson’s main competitor in the rise of standardized testing.

Corporations finding they can profit from turning students into unimaginative machines, are newly discovering they can likewise profit from standardizing teachers as well. Starting in May 2014, Pearson Education will take over teacher certification in New York State as a way of fulfilling the state’s promised “reforms” in its application for federal Race to the Top money. The evaluation system known as the Teacher Performance assessment or TPA was developed at Stanford University with support from Pearson, but it will be solely administered and prospective teachers will be entirely evaluated by Pearson and its agents.

A small cloud did fall over the Pearson Foundation (the nonprofit arm of educational publishing giant Pearson Inc) in December of 2013, when a $7.7 million fine was levied for using its charitable work to promote and develop course materials and software to benefit its corporate profit making.  After the investigation begun, Pearson Foundation sold the courses to Pearson for $15.1 million.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman determined that the foundation had created Common Core products to generate “tens of millions of dollars” for its corporate sister. According to the settlement: “Pearson used its nonprofit foundation to develop Common Core product in order to win an endorsement from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped fund the creation of the Common Core standards, having announced in 2011 that it would work with the Pearson foundation to write reading and math courses aligned with the new standard.”

Since Pearson is the world largest education company and book publisher, with profits of more than $9 billion annually, the $7.7 million fine was not a hardship. Pearson, wasn’t always so big.  As a British multinational corporation Pearson was just starting out in the early 2000’s. Pearson started to grow when it embraced No Child Left Behind as its business plan and began rapidly buying up U.S. companies.

On June 10 of this year, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced its support for a two-year moratorium on tying results from assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards to teacher evaluations or student promotions to the next grade level.

Although the Gates Foundation’s director of college-ready programs stated how Common Core was having a very positive impact on education, teachers do need more time to adjust.

The moratorium was enacted when on June 9, Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University and author of “Reign of Error,” sounded the alarm over the implementation of Common Core and called for a congressional investigation, noting, “The idea that the richest man in [the U.S.] can purchase and — working closely with the U.S. Department of Education — impose new and untested academic standards on the nation’s public schools is a national scandal.”

It would be folly to suggest that either Bill Gates or Pearson, despite the temporary tactical retreat by Gates will not keep pushing for Common Core with its required educational technology. This nation spends over $500 billion annually on K-12 education.  When colleges and career-training programs are included, the education sector represents almost 9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic production.  Companies like Pearson and Microsoft stand to greatly profit as they develop and administer the tests and sell the teacher-training material.

It is not unreasonable to suspect that companies like Pearson stand to gain when tests designed to measure Common Core State Standards make most public schools look bad.  Counting on widespread failure of the Common Core State Standards, school districts and parents will be pushed to purchase even more training technology, teachers in low-ranked schools will be fired, and school will be turned over to private management.

As a text book manufacturer, Pearson Education buckled to the activists demands in Texas and replaced the scientific understanding of climate change with the politically driven claim that humans are causing climate change.    Because Texas is a large state, it does have influence on the national textbook market.

Might Common Core State Standards be the latest in the grand corporate scheme to profit from privatized public education?  In the interim, Bill Gates’ Microsoft and Pearson reap big CCSS profits.  Certainly neither teachers nor students are benefiting.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Sean Parnell – Obamacare After the Midterms and Gruber Comments

November 24, 2014, 12:23 PM

Research Fellow and Managing Editor of Healthcare News Sean Parnell sits down with host Donald Kendal to discuss the latest healthcare news. Parnell talks about the elections impact on Obamacare, the proposed 2017 project and the comments by Jonathan Gruber. 

With the Republicans taking control of congress, what is the likelihood of seeing a repeal of Obamacare? What is the 2017 project, and does it have a chance of replacing Obamacare? These questions and more are answered in today’s Podcast.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

The Evolving Urban Form: Tianjin

November 23, 2014, 9:49 AM

Tianjin is located on Bohai Gulf, approximately 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Beijing. It was the imperial port of China, by virtue of that proximity. Tianjin also served as one of the most important “treaty ports” occupied and/or controlled by western nations and Japan for various years before 1950.

Tianjin is pivotally located along the East coast corridor between “Dongbei” – the northeast (the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning, which are also referred to as Manchuria) and Jinan, Nanjing, Shanghai and points south. Both the most direct expressway route (interstate standard) and high speed rail line from Shanghai to Dongbei cross through Tianjin rather than larger Beijing.

Tianjin is one of four centrally administered provincial level municipalities, along with Shanghai, Beijing, and Chongqing. While Tianjin has grown strongly in recent years, it has been one of China’s largest cities for decades. According to the United Nations, the 1950 Tianjin urban area was the second largest in China, with 2.5 million residents, trailing only Shanghai which had 4.3 million. Beijing trailed Tianjin by a third, at 1.7 million.

Population and Growth

Since 1982, the total population of Tianjin has expanded by nearly 90 percent, from 7.9 million to 14.7 million in 2013 (Exhibit 1).  Population growth has accelerated over that time. Between 2000 and 2010, the population rose 2.7 percent annually, more than double 1.2 percent rate of the 1990s. The rate of increase was even higher between 2010 and 2013, at 4.5 percent.

Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, the inner core district (Heping qu), experienced a population loss of 12 percent. But the rest of the municipality increased, accounting for 101 percent of the growth. The balance of the core captured 18 percent of the growth, while the suburban ring attracted 27 percent. By far the greatest growth was in the outer districts, which accounted for a solid majority of the growth (Exhibit 2). This peripheral domination of growth mirrors the experience of other large Chinese cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Chongqing, which have seen their core areas decline in population, with most growth occurring in the outer sectors.

A New Megacity

Tianjin is one of the world’s newest megacities (urban area over 10 million population). This has occurred because of the strong post-2010 population growth. In the next Demographia World Urban Areas (early 2015), Tianjin will have an estimated built up urban area population of 10.9 million. With an urban expanse covering 775 square miles (2,007 square kilometers), Tianjin has an urban population density of 14,100 per square mile (5,400 per square kilometer).

With the urban area expanding geographically, Tianjin fits the international trend of cities, in growing strongly, yet experiencing declining overall urban densities. Chinese urban planners have told me that it has been an intended objective of policy to reduce population densities, to give people more living space. This is despite the preachments of US and European urban planners for whom higher densities often are embraced as an “Article of Faith.”

Tianjin’s Urban Form

Despite their comparatively high density, Chinese cities are anything but compact. Most are polycentric in urban form, with central districts have widely spaced commercial buildings (the most notable exceptions may be Shanghai, Chongqing, and Dalian, but even these are somewhat polycentric). Tianjin, along with “in situ” urbanization Quanzhou, may be the least compact of the major cities.

Tianjin has a broad central business district (CBD), populated with tall, commercial buildings and residential structures (Exhibits 3 & 4). As is the case in many Asian cities (such as Bangkok,Guanzhou-Foshan, Xi’an and Beijing, the tall commercial buildings tend to be highly dispersed, rather than close together as is the custom in Canadian and American cities. In between the dispersed tall buildings are lower rise buildings, both commercial and residential.

Currently the tallest building in the CBD is the Tianjin World Financial Center (Exhibit 5), at 76 stories (1,105 feet or 337 meters). This is somewhat taller than New York’s Chrysler Building, which was the second tallest in Gotham for years. However, another taller building is near completion, the Tianjin R&F Guangdong Tower (Exhibit 6), which is well on the way to its 91 floors (1,535 feet or 468 meters). However,even this building is not as tall as three others under construction in other Tianjin centers.

A second central business district is developing in the Binhai new area, near the port and 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of the Tianjin CBD. The Rose Rock International Financial Center will reach 100 floors (1,929 feet or 538 meters). This, however, is only the second tallest under construction. The CTF Tower is also under construction and will reach 96 floors (1,740 feet or 530 meters), nearly as tall as the new World Trade Center in New York (1,776 feet or 541 meters).

Finally, the tallest building in Tianjin, Goldin Finance 117 is under construction approximately 9 miles (15 kilometers) west of the Tianjin CBD in a virtually new business center. This building will exceed the heights of all but three of the completed skyscrapers in the world (Lead Photo).

Altogether, Tianjin will soon have five buildings of more than 90 floors, a record few if any cities will soon equal.

Architecture

Tianjin has more than its share of modern Chinese high rise commercial structures and residential buildings. But, perhaps to a greater extent than any other Chinese city, Tianjin exhibits the architecture of the foreign powers to a greater degree than some other treaty ports (such as Fuzhou, Dalian, and Wuhan). The city of Tianjin has meticulously preserved many of these structures, not only commercial and residential buildings, but also churches.

The Tianjin CBD has a number of low rise streets with European architecture. Some of the most impressive are across the Hai River from the Tianjin Railway Station. There is also a long pedestrian street beyond with considerable western architecture. Virtually throughout the urban core there are examples of classic western architecture, some as ornate as in central Buenos Aires(Exhibit 7).

Perhaps the most unique feature is a large area of western residences just to the south of the Tianjin CBD (Exhibits 8 & 9).

In the Beijing Orbit: An Advantage

Tianjin is clearly in the orbit of larger Beijing, which has recently announced plans for a 7th ring road and other infrastructure to tie not only the city but adjacent provincial level jurisdictions together (Tianjin and Hebei). With a strong policy interest in limiting Beijing’s population growth, and with plenty of rural land available, Tianjin could receive a substantial share of growth that otherwise would go to Beijing.

Top photo: Goldin 117 Financial Building under construction at November 6, 2014 (by author).

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the “Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey” and author of “Demographia World Urban Areas” and “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.” He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

 

[Originally published at New Geography

Categories: On the Blog