Obamacare and ethanol—hand-in-hand
Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obamacare. If it were front and center of the newscycle, as Obamacare is, most would also have the same repeal-or-revise attitude regarding ethanol mandates as the two are marching hand-in-hand. In addition to the odd collection of opponents—conservatives and unions in opposition to Obamacare; and environmentalists and big oil, auto manufacturers and anti-hunger groups oppose ethanol—there are numerous other similarities.
Sounds good at the start
Healthcare for all sounds like a good idea, after all who wants to tell a mother holding a sick child that she can’t get care? Likewise, homegrown fuel that will increase America’s energy independence, sounds good—especially when the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The RFS mandates a minimum volume of biofuels (generally corn-based ethanol) is to be used in the national transportation fuel supply each year. Two years later, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 greatly expanded the biofuel mandate volumes and extended the date through 2022. The expanded RFS required the annual use of 9 billion gallons of biofuels in 2008, rising to 36 billion gallons in 2022, with at least 16 billion gallons from cellulosic biofuels, and a cap of 15 billion gallons for corn-starch ethanol.
At the time, US oil imports were growing, fears of shortages due to so-called peak oil were rampant, and the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing weren’t yet widely used and had not unleashed the current abundance of US resource. Growing our gasoline—converting corn from the heartland into ethanol—sounded good. Today, the Renewable Fuels Association claims that the RFS has reduced America’s foreign oil dependence. Perhaps that is true, but unlocking federal lands, expediting permitting for drilling, and approving the Keystone pipeline could totally remove our reliance on Middle Eastern oil in as few as three years.
Have had their day on court
Virginia Attorney General, and gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli was the first to file a lawsuit against Obamacare—which the Supreme Court ultimately declared a tax. On October 8, the American Petroleum Institute (API), once again, filed a lawsuit in the DC Circuit Court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the RFS volume requirements for 2013. A similar suit was filed in 2012. On January 25, 2013, the US Court of Appeals rejected EPA’s 2012 mandate for refiners to use cellulosic biofuel, which was not commercially available. In response to the court’s decision, Bob Greco, API Group Downstream Director, said: “This absurd mandate acts as a stealth tax on gasoline with no environmental benefit that could have ultimately burdened consumers.”
Non-elected bureaucrats setting policy
While both Obamacare and the RFS were passed by Congress, the particulars are left to government agencies to regulate. With the RFS, the EPA has missed statutory deadlines for issuing RFS volume requirements and then released rules mandating that refiners use 4 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2013. Yet, according to the EPA, only 142,000 gallons have been available for refiners to blend so far. Reports indicate that for 2014, the target for cellulosic biofuel would be 23 million gallons—despite the fact that the fuel is virtually nonexistent. The EPA has ignored the 2012 Court of Appeals smack down in which Judge Stephen Williams said the law was not intended to allow the EPA to “let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology” and has again set advanced biofuel targets that are out of touch with reality.
Fines for noncompliance
While the Obamacare exchanges have not been working as expected—with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina reporting only one person enrolled after 24 hours, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius admitted to Jon Stewart that if someone doesn’t participate “they pay a fine.” Guess what? Even though there isn’t enough cellulosic ethanol to meet the EPA mandates, refiners are required to blend it into gasoline—and, if they don’t, they pay a fine.
Creates new problems
- Ethanol reduces miles per gallon (MPG)—At a time when the White House has upped the MPG a vehicle gets (known as the CAFE standards) it is also mandating the use of ethanol, which lowers MPG. Edmunds did an apples-to-apples comparison of gasoline vs. ethanol (using a flex-fuel vehicle and E85). They conclude: “The fuel economy of our Tahoe on E85, under these conditions, was 26.5 percent worse than it was when running on gas”—and cost about $30 more. Plus, Edmunds found that the carbon emissions savings was negligible. (Note: less than 7 percent of the US vehicular fleet is flex-fuel.)
- Ethanol mandates have devastated the dairy industry (and turkey growers are none too happy, either)—In rural California, dairy farmers have been deeply affected by the rising cost of feed (which has jumped as much as 240 percent since 2005) brought on by mandated ethanol blending by the RFS. John Taylor, who owns and operates Bivalve Dairy with his family, says: “If there’s a requirement to have ‘X’ amount of tons of corn go into renewable energy, that’s just going to reduce the supply…that’s only going to make the price go up for [dairy farmers]…I’m not sure we should be taking our food and putting it into energy.”
California Assemblywoman, Kristin Olsen, reports: “The competition between the corn market and the government corn ethanol mandate is creating grave challenges for our California farmers, and their ability to feed their livestock and, ultimately, the nation.”
About the turkeys, Damon Wells, vice president of government affairs, National Turkey Federation, adds to the discussion. “Too often they’ve tried to say this was a petroleum vs. ethanol fight. I take great exception to that. I think those in the animal agriculture industry take great exception to that because all of the benefits that have come from this Renewable Fuel Standard have transferred off the backs of small farmers all across this country that are feeding livestock and poultry and ultimately it’s a transfer of cost from one agricultural sector to another.”
- Ethanol damages small engines and outdoor power equipment—In my book Energy Freedom, I have an entire chapter on ethanol. For it, I interviewed Abe at K & S Services Center in Albuquerque, NM—which specializes in small engine service and repair. He told me that 85 percent of the repairs they do are caused by fuel problems. Because of the increased ethanol in the fuel available at gas stations, Abe’s had to change his warranty policy and the center no longer warranties fuel-related damages. For his customers, many of whom are in the lawn-care business, the ten-percent ethanol in gasoline doubled their repair costs until they learned about its hazards and quit using it—converting to more expensive (but cheaper in the long run) pure gasoline.
Kris Kiser, president and CEO, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, affirms Abe’s observations: “Our small-engine industry and products … is sort of where the RFS meets reality. … you’re introducing fuel to the marketplace for which all of this stuff is not designed or warranted to run on. … You have product failure. Failure can mean economic failure or it can mean safety failure. … There’s a half-billion engine products in the marketplace today not built or warranted to run on E15.”
Hard to remove once policy is in place
Whether or not you agree with Ted Cruz’s tactics regarding stopping Obamacare, you likely agree with this statement he made about it: “In modern times no major entitlement, once it was implemented, has ever been unwound.” Surprise! The same can be said about the RFS. My friend and colleague, Paul Driessen has penned an excellent column on ethanol in which he addresses “how hard it is to alter policies and programs once they have been launched by Washington politicians, creating armies of special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors.”
We surely see what Driessen is talking about in an October 11, letter from Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA), published in the Wall Street Journal. In Ethanol Promotes Consumer Choice, Branstad defended the benefits of his state’s leading crop: “It is the ethanol industry, which makes a cheaper, cleaner and higher-octane product, that is ready, willing and able to face free-market competition.” To which a reader, Charles Pierce, responds: “I do not know what planet the Governor is living on but when the Federal Government forces the adding of ethanol to motor fuels there is no choice. It is just like the PPACA [Obamacare] it is a tax that is paid by each consumer being forced to buy a product that the government set up or likes. Want free choice; want cheaper motor fuels? Make it an option, not a mandate.”
When Republicans who generally oppose mandates and subsidies, like Gov. Branstad, Sen. Grassely, and Rep. King, support continuing the RFS, we can surely see the influence of “special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors,” as a result of federal involvement in what should be a market-based solution.
“Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals,” a report released in September revealed.
It is time to repeal—or at least revise—the costly RFS boondoggle. Fortunately such a plan is on the table. The RFS Reform Act, co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, proposes to eliminate the conventional biofuels mandate and cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into the fuel supply. Call your Senators and Representatives and tell them to end this eight-year-old policy failure.
We may not be able to repeal Obamacare, but with your help, reforming the RFS can be a reality.
[First Published By Townhall]
This year’s prize goes to three economists who made contributions to the pricing of speculative assets such as stocks. Eugene Fama, of the University of Chicago, and the oldest of the three, is best known for his development of the efficient markets hypothesis. Lars Peter Hansen, also of the University of Chicago, and the youngest of the three, for exploring the “boundedness” of market processes, both in theory and in empirical estimation. Robert Shiller, of Yale University, has explored the behavioral underpinnings of price determination, arguing that market prices often over-react to changes in fundamental value.
Fama’s efficient market hypothesis is today a textbook standard. It negates the profitability of “technical analysis.” Market prices reflect all past, publicly-available information, and perhaps even private information, and certainly reflects any potential information in stock market patterns (such as “triple bottom,” said to be a prediction of a “breakout” and a “buy” signal). But, doesn’t the efficient market hypothesis disprove itself, as who, if nobody can profit from buying or selling stocks based on information, impounds information into stock prices? To more precisely say that, at the margin, market prices reflect all past, publicly-available information is almost to admit that there are times when stock prices don’t; i.e., when stock prices are “infra-marginal;” or, when the capital available to those who rationally-value stocks is insufficient for them to bring price to value. In his later years, Fama himself seemed to challenge his earlier work in his collaboration with Kenneth French, with the “three-factor” model. In the three-factor model, small cap stocks and stocks with exceptionally high ratios of market to book value, along with systematic risk, are shown to affect stock prices. To be sure, the three-factor model might reflect an underlying multi-factor model of stock price determination, and have nothing to do with information-efficiency.
Shiller’s work is both more recent and on-going, and part of a broad line of inquiry concerning the impact of psychological factors, even irrationality, on stock prices. Why, for example, do we observe “booms” and “busts” in markets in speculative assets, including real estate as well as stock markets; or, “balloons” or “bubbles,” followed by their “bursting.” Even more so, why is the bursting of a bubble in real estate and in stocks so often followed by a recession, or even by a long period of depressed economic conditions? In some early work, he appeared to challenge the efficient market hypothesis head on, arguing that stock prices were more volatile than could be justified. The Crash of ’87 seemed to validate his argument and instigated concerns for “behavioral foundations” and “market microstructure” and such. Shiller’s book “Irrational Exuberance,” taking off on an expression coined by Alan Greenspan, connected that gyration of the stock market to a long history of stock market behavior. Then came the calamitous collapse of the stock and real estate markets during 2008.
Hansen’s contributions to our understanding of financial markets seems to just be getting started. Beginning with technical issues of econometric estimation, he has moved on to the more philosophical issue of the difference between risk and uncertainty. Risk, we might say, is something measurable. It comes from frequencies of occurrence in repeated trials. With sufficiently many trials, we can estimate risk. Uncertainty comes from not knowing the model out of which are coming the outcomes we observe. In a world that is changing, uncertainty can never be resolved. The question, in prudent decision-making, is robustness, as Hansen puts it in his recent book coauthored with Thomas Sargent. By robustness, I mean surviving what otherwise would be catastrophic. What doesn’t kill you, makes it stronger. But, you have to avoid getting killed.
The contributions of this year’s triplet of economists involve advances in the utilization of data, as well as the development of theory. Fama cut his teeth with the analysis of daily stock market data, involving hundreds of stocks, over long periods of time. For example, he tracked the evolution of stock prices relative to “events” such as increases in dividends. This was the “big data” of his time. Shiller constructed and analyzed very long histories of stock market prices, and – more recently – developed of indices of real estate prices (the Case-Shiller index). Hansen is a developer of “agent models,” in which computer models simulate thousands or even millions of persons organized into so many households and companies. Agent models, like climate models, have to be seeded with “parameters,” and checked against observation and “intuitive validity.” They’re not so much proofs, but explanations. They become evidence when validated against data unknown at the time of their construction.
Now that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has gone into effect, the debate will shift from promises and theories to what consumers actually experience. As we are seeing, the first reaction appears to be bipartisan sticker shock.
The Manhattan Institute analyzed premiums in many states, including Texas, showing that young men are going to pay almost double for their health insurance under Obamacare, and women will pay 55 percent to 62 percent more.
Those unfortunate enough to live in North Carolina will pay 400 percent more.
A 27-year-old man in Texas will be paying 77 percent more than his current coverage. The study factored in pre-existing conditions.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation conducted a similar study looking at the cheapest plans (for those with no pre-existing conditions) compared to new policies under Obamacare.
A 64-year-old healthy male will pay 49 percent more, a 47-year-old will pay 85 percent more, a 35-year-old will pay 138 percent more, and a 27-year-old male will pay an astonishing 158 percent more.
Indeed, my own insurance company informed me that my individual ACA premium for my family of five would be increasing by 98 percent compared to my current coverage.
One of the primary goals of Obamacare was to cover the uninsured. Yet, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, for all of this pain, Obamacare will cover fewer than half the uninsured. This then raises the question: Should we try a different way to solve the problem of the uninsured?
When prices increase, demand falls. But rather than making insurance cheaper and easier, it is now more expensive and heavily regulated, which will price more people out of the market.
To counter this natural market response, the IRS will levy fines — excuse me, taxes — on you for failing to purchase insurance you can’t afford. Subsidies will be unavailable for most.
Under Obamacare, even the lowest-priced “Bronze” policies are more than double the cost of what the market was offering young people before, which will make it harder to convince the young to buy insurance.
But this administration is not deterred by the laws of supply, demand, and price elasticity because they have IRS auditors who will be forcing people to buy insurance. Something makes me think these people may not be voting Democrat the next time around.
Amid the national campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, Obamacare encourages unhealthy behaviors.
Now healthy people will subsidize the unhealthy since insurance companies are prohibited from charging unhealthy people more than the healthy. Those who eat well, exercise, and maintain their weight will pay higher premiums so that those with poor eating and exercise habits, and their chronic diseases, will pay less.
One of the more popular provisions of the ACA is the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions. But if the IRS fines are less than the cost of insurance premiums, people will forgo insurance until they are sick. In the insurance industry, this is called “jump and dump” — jump into the market when you are sick and then dump your insurance when you are well. This is the ultimate nightmare scenario for an insurance company and further increases prices for all other consumers.
Because of Obamacare and its regulations, some states now only have one or two insurance companies providing health coverage — a competitive market reduced to a monopoly.
The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study showing how state and federal insurance exchanges will totally control the insurance market, prohibiting non-exchange policies from being sold to individuals and small businesses, and strictly defining quality and controlling prices.
So rather than millions of individual consumers making decisions with firsthand information about their health needs, government bureaucrats with theories about your health will decide what you need and then force you to buy it.
[First Published by SA]
The human race has prospered by relying on forecasts that the seasons will follow their usual course, while knowing they will sometimes be better or worse. Are things different now?
For the fifth time now, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims they are. The difference, the IPCC asserts, is increased human emissions of carbon dioxide: a colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas that is a byproduct of growing prosperity. It is also a product of all animal respiration and is also essential for most life on Earth, yet in total it makes up only 0.0004 of the atmosphere.
The IPCC assumes that the relatively small human contribution of this gas to the atmosphere will cause global warming, and insists that the warming will be dangerous.
Other scientists contest the IPCC assumptions, on the grounds that the climatological effect of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide is trivial – and that the climate is so complex and insufficiently understood that the net effect of human emissions on global temperatures cannot be forecasted.
The computer models that the authors of the IPCC reports rely on are complicated representations of the assumption that human carbon dioxide emissions are now the primary factor driving climate change and will substantially overheat the Earth. The models include many assumptions that mainstream scientists question.
The modelers have correctly stated that they produce scenarios, not forecasts. Scenarios are stories constructed from a collection of assumptions. Well-constructed scenarios can be very convincing, in the same way that a well-crafted fictional book or film can be.
The IPCC and its supporters promote these scary scenarios as if they were forecasts. However, scenarios are neither forecasts nor the product of a validated forecasting method.
The IPCC modelers were apparently unaware of decades of forecasting research. Our audit of the procedures used to create their apocalyptic scenarios found that they violated 72 of 89 relevant scientific forecasting principles. Would you go ahead with your flight, if you overheard two of the ground crew discussing how the pilot had skipped 80 percent of the pre-flight safety checklist?
Thirty-nine forecasting experts from many disciplines from around the world developed the forecasting principles from published experimental research. A further 123 forecasting experts reviewed the work. The principles were published in 2001. They are freely available on the Internet, to help forecasters produce the best forecasts they can, and help forecast users determine the validity of forecasts. These principles are the only published set of evidence-based standards for forecasting.
Global warming alarmists nevertheless claim that the “nearly all” climate scientists believe dangerous global warming will occur. This is a strange claim, in view of the fact more than 30,000 American scientists signed the Oregon Petition, stating that there is no basis for dangerous manmade global warming forecasts, and “no convincing evidence” that carbon dioxide is dangerously warming the planet or disrupting its climate.
Most importantly, computer models and scenarios are not evidence – and validation does not consist of adding up votes. Such an approach can only be detrimental to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Validation requires comparing predictions to actual observations, and the IPCC models have failed in that regard.
Given the expensive policies proposed and implemented in the name of preventing dangerous manmade global warming, we are astonished that there is only one published peer-reviewed paper that claims to provide scientific forecasts of long-range global mean temperatures. The paper is our own 2009 article in the International Journal of Forecasting.
Our paper examined the state of knowledge and available empirical (that is, actually measured) data, in order to select appropriate evidence-based procedures for long-range forecasting of global mean temperatures. Given the complexity and uncertainty of the situation, we concluded that the “no-trend” model is the proper method to use. The conclusion is based on a substantial body of research that found complex models do not work well in complex and uncertain situations.
This finding might be puzzling to people who are unfamiliar with the research on forecasting. So we tested the no-trend model, using the same data that the IPCC uses, since forecasting principles require that models be validated by comparing them to actual observations.
To do this, we produced annual forecasts from one to 100 years ahead, starting from 1851 and stepping forward year-by-year until 1975, the year before the current warming alarm was raised. (This is also the year when Newsweek and other magazines reported that scientists were “almost unanimous” that Earth faced a new period of global cooling.) We conducted the same analysis for the IPCC scenario of temperatures increasing at a rate of 0.03 degrees Celsius (0.05 degrees Fahrenheit) per year in response to increasing human carbon dioxide emissions.
This procedure yielded 7,550 forecasts for each method. The findings?
Overall, the no-trend forecast error was one-seventh the error of the IPCC scenario’s projection. They were as accurate as or more accurate than the IPCC temperatures for allforecast horizons. Most important, the relative accuracy of the no-trend forecasts increased for longer horizons. For example, the no-trend forecast error was one-twelfth that of the IPCC temperature scenarios for forecasts 91 to 100 years ahead.
Our research in progress scrutinizes more forecasting methods, uses more and better data, and extends our validation tests. The findings strengthen the conclusion that there are no scientificforecasts that predict dangerous global warming.
Is it surprising that the government would support an alarm lacking scientific support? Not really. In our study of situations that are analogous to the current alarm over scenarios of global warming, we identified 26 earlier movements based on scenarios of manmade disaster, including the global cooling alarm in the 1960s to 1970s. None of them were based on scientific forecasts. And yet, governments imposed costly policies in response to 23 of them. In no case did the forecast of major harm come true.
There is no support from scientific forecasting for an upward trend in temperatures, or a downward trend. Without support from scientific forecasts, the global warming alarm is baseless and should be ignored.
Government programs, subsidies, taxes and regulations proposed as responses to the global warming alarm result in misallocations of valuable resources. They lead to inflated energy prices, declining international competitiveness, disappearing industries and jobs, and threats to health and welfare.
Humanity can do better with the old, simple, tried-and-true no-trend climate forecasting model. This traditional method is also consistent with scientific forecasting principles.
_____________Dr. Kesten C. Green is with the University of South Australia in Adelaide and is director of the major website on forecasting methods, www.ForecastingPrinciples.com, and has published twelve peer-reviewed articles on forecasting. Professor J. Scott Armstrong teaches at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and is a founder of the two major journals on forecasting methods, editor of the Principles of Forecasting handbook, and the world’s most highly cited author on forecasting methods. Dr. Willie Soon of Salem, MA for the past 20 years has published extensively on solar and other factors that cause climate changes.Copies of the authors’ climate forecasting papers are available atwww.PublicPolicyForecasting.com.
As part of the media tour for Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, two scientists from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), stopped by the studios of U-T TV in San Diego.
On Thursday, Dr. S. Fred Singer, Dr. Robert Carter, and Heartland Institute President Joe Bast were guests on The Roger Hedgecock Show. They discussed the findings of the new 1,000-page report — including the state of the ice caps, sea level rise, and being called “deniers” by the media, and left-wing activists. (SPOILER: Dr. Singer doesn’t lose any sleep over it.)
Steve Staneck interviews Ben Van Metre, Senior Budget, Tax and Policy Analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute, regarding Illinois’ movement from Flat tax to Progressive income tax. This movement is in opposition to more successful financial states who have adopted the Flat tax. States with Flat taxes have higher growth rates of employment and GDP, than those states who have Progressive income tax. Ben Van Metre explains how the volatile Progressive tax is detrimental to states due to its dependence on the shifting economy.
Ronald Reagan made a lot of history as President, but when he stood before the Brandenburg Gate not far from the Berlin Wall that divided the city and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”, he rocked the foundations of the Soviet empire on June 12, 1987. By 1989, the wall was opened and, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed.
Now thousands of Americans are saying “Mr. Obama, tear down these barricades,” They have become a symbol of the dictatorial style that has emerged over the first term of the President and now demonstrate it for everyone to see in the first year of his second term.
What is also on display are the cracks in the foundation of Obama’s presidency and administration. The first occurred in the 2010 midterm elections that returned power to the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. In the Senate these days, even the Democrats are beginning to break ranks with the White House, resisting on many fronts, “crossing the aisle” rather than vote the party line and risk reelection.
Obama has left them little choice with his oft-repeated threat that he will not negotiate with Republicans, choosing instead to use his office to garner airtime and press coverage to disparage them as terrorists, anarchists, hostage-takers, and kidnappers, to name just of few examples of his petulant, idiotic name-calling.
The job of a President is to negotiate. Every one of his predecessors in the office negotiated fulltime, seven days a week, either with his own party with the opposing one.
Obama and those who created the image of Obama have gone blind and deaf. They’ve been inside the White House bubble so long that forgot how ordinary people react when the President orders that national monuments and parks are shut down and barricades get between veterans and visitors.
When the administration opened up the National Mall to a rally by illegal aliens, the contempt for all the rest of us—natural born and naturalized citizens—could not have been more clear. The selective malevolence of the access that was denied makes a lasting impression, even on the “low information” voters.
The President’s approval rating dropped to 37% on October 9th. Congress scores in the single digits. There is a lot of unhappiness among the voters and all the campaign-style speeches and photo-ops are not going to turn this around.
Watching the media trim and adjust its sails is interesting as well. When Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services ran into a buzz saw on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show”, it sent a signal to other liberal media personalities that it was okay to finally question what the administration was doing, particularly as regards Obamacare. The liberal lemmings may not want to jump off the cliff with the White House.
There’s one thing that has gone largely unnoticed during the “shutdown.” It takes weeks and months for the federal government to order anything. It is a huge bureaucracy. So why were all those printed signs available for the “shutdown” unless the government keeps such things in a big warehouse somewhere?
The answer could be that Obama and his political advisors have been planning the shutdown and, in particular, the plan for the President to beat up the Republicans. He has begun now to gear up the Democrat Party campaign for the November 2014 midterm elections. We are witnessing a deliberate effort to berate non-stop the Republican Party in general and the Tea Party movement in particular. The press conference in which the President held forth for over an hour is an example, but significantly, his approval rates dropped to a new low of 37%.
Harry Truman did this in 1948 when he ran for election after filling out the term of Franklin Roosevelt who had died soon after his fourth reelection. Truman disparaged a “do nothing” Congress, controlled by the Republican Party, even though its actual record showed that it had passed a number of laws he favored. It was pure demagoguery and, combined with a tireless campaign of whistle-stop speeches, secured Truman election when everyone assumed Thomas Dewey would be the winner.
It could be that Obama has taken a lesson from that election, but he is not running to be reelected. He is running to gain full control over Congress of the kind that allowed him to ram through the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—in 2009. There were huge protests then and there will be more now.
A rally of truckers will seek to close down the capital this weekend in protest of Obamacare and other administration policies. Another rally will follow soon after by veterans. Indeed, I suspect 2014 is going to be remembered for a score of rallies that reflect the anger that has finally boiled up into action. As more and more Americans discover that their healthcare insurance premiums have doubled and tripled, they are going to blame one man—Barack Hussein Obama.
Obama has completely misread the character of the American people, perhaps because he lacks any character of his own.[Article originally published on factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com] [Picture originally published on www.mirror.co.uk]
Think immoveable force meets immovable object.
The core conundrum of stateless Bitcoin and other virtual currencies is how to somehow gain legal acceptance by sovereign states.
The central idea behind virtual currencies is the efficiency of disregarding sovereign borders. In stark contrast, the central idea behind what makes a currency “real” is the legal regard for sovereign borders.
Real currencies are legal tender, with the emphasis on “legal.”
Specifically, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes enforcement Network, (FinCEN) issued guidance earlier this year that “…virtual currency does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction.”
Currency is neither an app nor an algorithm.
Not being legal tender, “virtual currency” cannot be used to legally settle debts or enforce contracts. It cannot be used to transact legal international trade. It cannot be used to legally transact or invest in public capital markets.
There is nothing inherently wrong with new innovative algorithmic payment mechanisms, provided that they are legally accountable to the rule of law and comply with all applicable sovereign laws and financial regulations to prevent crime, money laundering, tax evasion, fraud, etc.
That precisely appears to be the conundrum of virtual currencies like Bitcoin.
How can a virtual currency become legal tender if it is not subject to the law enforcement authority and financial backing of an internationally-recognized sovereign state?
And how could a virtual currency retain its essential appeal of borderless efficiency and stateless unaccountability, if a sovereign state took sovereign (legal) responsibility for it?
Simply, if a virtual currency collapses into the digital ether, or if someone believes they were legally wronged via the virtual currency, where does someone go for legal recourse if fraud or crime was involved?
At bottom, no matter how benignly they are represented, packaged or marketed, virtual currencies effectively are at war with the fundamental sovereign state interests of law enforcement, legal tender, contracts, commerce, trade, and consumer protection.
Another conundrum for Bitcoin proponents is their cart-before-the-horse problem, of trying to manufacture political legitimacy without underlying legality.
In requesting a ruling from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that candidates should be able to legally accept political contributions denominated in Bitcoins, virtual currency proponents are seeking to politically end-run financial regulators.
They imagine Bitcoins can be made legal by the political acclamation of a few.
The FEC is unlikely to fall for this forum-shopping ploy and unilaterally confer “political tender” status on Bitcoin, especially when Bitcoin easily could be used to undermine the accountability purpose of the FEC.
Moreover, if Bitcoins are not legal tender, how can there be any legal or accurate valuation of any political contribution for the FEC to monitor to ensure compliance with election laws?
Furthermore, the FEC is well aware of virtual currencies propensity for being used anonymously for illegal purposes. Why would the FEC willingly introduce a well-known vehicle for corruption into the electoral process in direct contravention of U.S. financial regulators?
Yet another conundrum for Bitcoin proponents is how to create the appearance of financial legitimacy for Bitcoin with the public — without running afoul of financial anti-fraud laws.
Currently, there are at two high-profile financial efforts to try and represent Bitcoin and virtual currencies as a legitimate “investments” and to advance their acceptance generally with the investing public.
The Winkelvoss twins, of Facebook fame, have bought up a large amount of Bitcoins and have asked the SEC to approve a “Bitcoin Trust,” an Exchange-Traded-Fund to allow the public to speculate in the price fluctuations of Bitcoin as an asset.
In effect, the Winklevoss twins are hoping the SEC somehow will officially legitimize Bitcoins as an asset class by creating a de facto government-approved financial vehicle that could effectively set the “public” price for Bitcoins at any given time.
This brazen derivative scheme imagines the Bitcoin Trust as a de facto unregulated market maker and quasi investment banker for Bitcoin “investment.” This appears to be a fool’s errand because the SEC and the CFTC are no fools.
Using a different financial vehicle, SecondMarket, the exchange for trading shares of private companies, is trying to legitimize Bitcoin as an “accessible asset class.”
Targeting “wealthy investors,” they are setting up a “Bitcoin Investment Trust” to “let these investors bet on the price of Bitcoins.” This different derivative scheme effectively could create a publicly-trackable, private market price for Bitcoins.
The obvious play here is to use a private market vehicle and the consequent media attention to stoke private demand for Bitcoin with the ultimate plan of selling out to unsophisticated public investors at much higher prices.
The opportunity for fraud and manipulation with these derivative schemes is staggering because both schemes depend entirely on the Greater Fool Theory.
That means the price of Bitcoins is not driven by intrinsic values or fundamental reality, but purely on the expectation that later Bitcoin bidders will pay an even higher price in hopes of reaping the big gains of those that came before them. Sadly, this is classic bubble sucker-nomics.
One would be hard pressed to imagine a more obvious Greater Fool dynamic.
First, the core idea is untrue. Bitcoins are represented to be a “currency” (implying inherent established and legitimate value), when Bitcoins officially are not a real currency, i.e. legal tender.
Second, virtual currency has no intrinsic value — none. They are programmed ones and zeroes backed by nothing. They are not real commodities like gold, silver, oil, grain, etc. that truly have intrinsic real value as a necessary or valuable input to something else of real value.
Third, they enjoy no legal value. Unlike real currencies that are legally backed by a sovereign nation and their citizenry, no one financially backs Bitcoin.
If something goes wrong, poof, there could be nothing there and no place for anyone to seek recourse for any illegal behavior that caused it. No one even knows the person who originally programmed the Bitcoin algorithm or if it is meant to be stable long term.
Finally, this is a classic Ponzi-scheme dynamic where early investors know they can reap extraordinary speculative profits and exit without a trace because they know it will be the Greater Fools, who paid top dollar, who will lose big or everything when the artificial hyped momentum peaks and then predictably craters.
The early speculators knew that the finite, very small world supply of Bitcoins, 21 million, combined with little initial demand, would mean prices would skyrocket when broad public demand could be created via hyping Internet virtual currencies as the next big thing.
These schemes are easier than taking candy from a baby, and many Bitcoin proponents know it.
In sum, the fatal flaw of Bitcoin and virtual currencies is that they are not legal tender, despite the furious, determined and deceptive efforts of many to misdirect people from this damning tent-pole fact.
The old adage is true here: “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” Promising that one can for financial gain is tantamount to fraud.
The task of law enforcement here is to hold accountable those who publicly represent what is not legal and demonstrably prone to fostering illegal activities, as trustworthy or a legitimate investment.
Time will tell if financial law enforcement has learned from the derivative deceptions that helped precipitate the Financial Crisis.
Heartland Institute’s Ben Domenech was interviewed by Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson, to discuss the government shut down. As the government gets closer to approaching the debt ceiling, Domenech addresses the Republican and Democratic Parties’ unwillingness to accept each other’s terms to begin negotiations.
With the words “government shutdown” on every news commentator’s lips these days, it’s time for a little – in Thomas Paine’s famous phrase – common sense.
First, let’s put things in perspective: The government “shuts down” every weekend and nothing bad happens. That’s right: the courts are closed, most EPA and other administrative agency personnel go home, the Washington Navy Yard closes up shop, immigration offices aren’t open, and almost every Sunday morning the President plays a little golf. Nobody suffers much and the nation is no worse off: civilian airliners keep flying; the U. S. Armed Forces remain on patrol throughout the globe; the Interstate Highway System remains open; and everybody’s Social Security check still goes out on time even though the so-called “trust fund” doesn’t really exist.
Even in the wake of the current so-called “shutdown” all these things and more remain true: Government-subsidized colleges and universities (and that means most of them, through tuition and research grants) continue to hold classes; the Public Broadcasting System remains on the air; and even the First Lady’s Twitter account reportedly remains active.
Yes, a lot of government employees are technically on “furlough” right now, but at most they’ve missed one pay date and if the past is any guide they will all get paid in arrears for what amounts to an unscheduled – if unwelcome – vacation at the taxpayers’ expense. Meanwhile, for those employed in the private sector, federal income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare payments will continue to be withheld from their paychecks and remitted to the government regardless of how long the so-called “shutdown” lasts.
So why the entire hullabaloo? In a word, politics. Both major parties in the sausage-making business of legislating hope to achieve their legislative aims and/or score political points by engaging in brinksmanship and both hope the people will blame the other party.
Republicans in the House of Representatives (“the people’s house”) view Obamacare (the so-called “Affordable Care Act”) as politically unpopular, economically unwise, and not yet ready for prime time; they therefore seek to defund or to delay its implementation as part of government funding discussions in which they play a vital and necessary Constitutional role.
The President and the Senate – who have delayed or waived or exempted every major provision of Obamacare except for the so-called “individual mandate” – nonetheless see the Act as the one signature achievement of this administration. They therefore refuse to agree to anything that will loosen their toehold on the century-old progressive dream of establishing a socialized national health care system that actually originated with Otto von Bismarck. Rather than agree even to delay for a year the one major portion of the Act that has not already been suspended, delayed, or waived, the President refuses to sign and the Senate refuses to pass a bill to “keep the government running” while blaming their intransigence on “extreme” “right wing” “hostage-taking” “tea party” (choose your favorite adjective or epithet) Republicans in the House.
Yet even the Senate’s proposed funding solution – a so-called “continuing resolution” – is merely the political equivalent of calling up your credit card company and asking for your 100th credit limit increase because you refuse to live within your means. It’s been years since the government has even adopted a budget, the nation continues to run unsustainable annual deficits, and the taxpayers are saddled with a virtually unpayable 16.7 trillion dollar national debt. Meanwhile, the authorized debt ceiling rapidly approaches and will be reached around mid-October.
So what to do? Herewith a modest proposal: continue the so-called “shutdown” as a matter of fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and vote to fund, program by program and department by department, only those functions that are both (a) set forth as enumerated powers of the national government in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution and (b) absolutely necessary for a national government – as opposed to private parties or state and local governments – to accomplish.
Maintain an army and a navy? Yes; the Constitution empowers Congress to do so and it would be unwise policy to contract national defense out to the private sector (even though private companies actually build the nation’s planes, tanks, and ships). Subsidize the National Endowment for the Arts? No; the arts are important – perhaps essential – to a civilized society, but private patrons, benefactors, and fans of museums and the performing arts are perfectly capable of supporting those they prefer. Administer a patent system and a court system? Yes. Impose a national health care plan? No. Coin money? Yes. Dictate what size or kind of toilets, showerheads, and light bulbs a free people must buy? No. You get the idea.
Consider it a Constitutional Convention on the installment plan but think of it as “zero-based budgeting”: when you’re seriously over your head in debt and your credit cards are maxed out, instead of looking just to how much you spent last year and deciding how much more (or even less) you want to spend next year, first consider what you really need and then pay for only the essentials until you’re out of debt and your budget is under control. Once that happens, resolve never to do it again.
The nation is in financial crisis and resolving it should be about more than just scoring political points or about whether the nation really needs, wants, or can afford Obamacare. To paraphrase former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, it would be a shame to let a serious crisis go to waste.
Here’s what the president said yesterday, courtesy of CNN:
“On Tuesday, Obama sternly warned that ‘every American could see their 401(k)s and home values fall’ and the country would see a ‘very significant risk’ of a deep recession. The only responsible action, he repeated: raise the debt ceiling, without preconditions.
“’We’re not going to pay ransom for’ America paying its bills, he told reporters, placing the blame squarely on House Republicans. ‘Let’s lift these threats from our families and our businesses and let’s get down to work.’
Compare that to this signed statement opposing raising the debt ceiling by then-Senator Obama, which he had entered in the Congressional Record. Kudos to the ZeroHedge.comWeb site for finding and originally posting this image.
New data from the American Community Survey makes it possible to review the trend in mode of access to employment in the United States over the past five years. This year, 2012, represents the fifth annual installment of complete American Community Survey data. This is also a significant period, because the 2007 was a year before the Lehman Brothers collapse that triggered the Great Financial crisis, while gasoline prices increased about a third between 2007 and 2012.
The work trip access data is shown in Tables 1 and 2. Driving alone continued to dominate commuting, as it has since data was first reported in the 1960 census. In 2007, 76.1 percent of employment access was by driving alone, a figure that rose to 76.3 percent in 2012. Between 2007 and 2012, driving alone accounted for 94 percent of the employment access increase, capturing 1.55 million out of the additional 1.60 million daily one-way trips (Figure 1). The other 50,000 new transit commutes were the final result of increases in working at home, transit and bicycles, minus losses in car pooling and other modes.
Carpools continued to their long decline, losing share in 43 of the 52 major metropolitan areas. Approximately 810,000 fewer people travel to work by carpools in 2012, which reduced its share from 10.7 percent to 9.7 percent.
Transit did better, rising from 4.9 percent of work access in 2007 to 5.0 percent in 2012. There was an overall increase of approximately 250,000 transit riders. This increase, however, may be less than might have anticipated in view of the much higher gasoline prices and the imperative for commuters to save money in a more difficult economy.
Bicycling also did well, rising from a 0.5 percent share in 2007 to a 0.6 percent share in 2012. Approximately 200,000 more people commuted by bicycle by 2012.
Walking retained its 2.8 percent share, with only a modest 15,000 increase over the period. The largest increase in employment access outside single occupant driving was working at home, which rose from 4.1 percent to 4.4 percent. This translated into an increase of approximately 470,000.
Metropolitan Area Highlights
Among the 52 metropolitan areas with more than 1 million population (major metropolitan areas), 47 had drive alone market shares of 70 percent or more. Birmingham was the highest, at 85.6 percent. Surprisingly, this grouping included metropolitan areas with reputations for strong transit ridership, such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Portland. Four metropolitan areas had drive alone shares of between 60 percent and 70 percent: Seattle, Washington, Boston, and San Francisco, which had the second lowest in the nation at 60.8 percent. As would be expected, New York had by far the lowest drive alone market share at 50.0 percent.
Consistent with its low drive alone market share, New York led by a large margin the other metropolitan areas in its transit work trip market share. Transit carried 31.1 percent of New York commuters, up nearly a full percentage point from the 30.2 percent in 2007. New York alone accounted for nearly one-half of the growth in transit commuting over the period.
San Francisco continued to hold onto second place, with a 15.1 percent transit market share, up a full percentage point from 2007. Washington rose to 14.0 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2007. Boston (11.9 percent) and Chicago (11.0 percent) were the only other major metropolitan areas to achieve a transit work trip market share of more than 10 percent, and were little changed from 2007.
Working at home continued to increase at a larger percentage rate than any other mode of work access. Four metropolitan areas were tied for the top position in 2012, at 6.4 percent. These included Raleigh, Austin, San Diego, and Portland, all metropolitan areas with a strong high-tech orientation. In San Diego and Portland, where large light rail systems have been developed, working at home is now more popular as a mode of access to work than transit.
According to 2012 US Census Bureau estimates, the major metropolitan areas comprised 55.2 percent of the national population. These metropolitan areas represented a slightly larger share of total employment, at 57.3 percent. The combined major metropolitan areas also had similar shares to their national population share in each of the employment access modes, ranging from a low of 55.3 percent of communters driving alone to 59.9 percent of walkers. The one exception was transit, where the major metropolitan areas constituted nearly all of commuters, at 90.7 percent, well above their 55.2 percent share of US population (Table 1).
Table 1 Distribution of Employment Access (Commuting) by Employment Location: 2012 SHARE OF WORK ACCESS BY MODE (2012) All Employment Drive Alone Car Pool Transit Bike Walk Other Work at Home MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREAS 57.3% 55.3% 55.4% 90.7% 59.9% 56.0% 55.6% 59.3% Metropolitan Areas with Legacy Cities 17.1% 13.8% 14.4% 65.4% 21.5% 27.8% 18.3% 17.1% 6 Legacy Cities (see below) 6.0% 2.7% 4.1% 55.1% 12.7% 16.3% 7.8% 4.6% Suburban 11.1% 11.1% 10.3% 10.3% 8.8% 11.5% 10.5% 12.6% New York Metropolitan Area 6.4% 4.2% 4.5% 39.6% 5.8% 13.6% 8.5% 5.9% Legacy City: New York 3.1% 1.0% 1.5% 35.4% 4.2% 9.5% 4.2% 2.5% Suburban 3.3% 3.2% 3.0% 4.2% 1.7% 4.1% 4.3% 3.5% 5 Other Metropolitan Areas with Legacy Cities 10.7% 9.6% 9.9% 25.8% 15.7% 14.2% 9.8% 11.2% 5 Legacy Cities (CHI, PHI, SF, BOS, WDC) 2.9% 1.7% 2.6% 19.7% 8.5% 6.8% 3.6% 2.1% Suburban 7.8% 7.9% 7.3% 6.1% 7.1% 7.5% 6.2% 9.1% 46 Other Major Metropolitan Areas 40.2% 41.5% 41.0% 25.3% 38.4% 28.2% 37.3% 42.2% OUTSIDE MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREAS 42.7% 44.7% 44.6% 9.3% 40.1% 44.0% 44.4% 40.7% United States 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% Calculated from American Community Survey: 2012 (one year)
Commuting Becomes More Concentrated in Legacy Cities
This concentration of transit commuting was most evident to the six large “transit legacy cities,” (the core cities of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington), which still exhibit sufficient remnants of their pre-automobile urban cores that support extraordinarily high transit market shares. The transit legacy cities accounted for 55 percent of all transit commuting destinations in the United States, yet have only six percent of the nation’s jobs. Between 2007 and 2012, the concentration increased, with transit legacy cities accounting 68 percent of the additional transit commutes were between 2007 and 2012. Outside the legacy cities, there was relatively little difference in the share of transit commutes within metropolitan areas with legacy cities and in the other major metropolitan areas (Figure 2)
The key to the intensive use of transit in the legacy cities is the small pockets of development that are particularly amenable to high transit market shares – the six largest downtown areas (central business districts) in the United States. Most of the commuting to transit legacy cities is to these downtown areas, Yet, the geographical areas of these downtowns is very small. Combined, the six downtown areas are only one-half larger than the land area of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. This yields employment per square mile densities of from 40 to 150 times densities of employee residences throughout their respective urban areas.
Not surprisingly, transit has very strong market shares to work locations in the transit legacy cities, at 45.8 percent. At the same time, transit commuting to locations outside the transit legacy cities is generally well below the national average. The exception is New York, where transit commuting to suburban locations is 6.4 percent, above the overall national average of 5.0 percent. In the five other metropolitan areas with transit legacy cities, transit commuting to suburban locations is 3.9 percent. This drops to 3.1 percent, overall, in the 46 other major metropolitan areas and 1.1 percent in the rest of the nation (Table 2 and Figure).
Table 2 Employment Access (Commuting) by Employment Location: 2012 Drive Alone Car Pool Transit Bike Walk Other Work at Home MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREAS 73.6% 9.4% 7.9% 0.6% 2.8% 1.2% 4.5% Metropolitan Areas with Legacy Cities 61.7% 8.2% 19.2% 0.8% 4.6% 1.3% 4.4% 6 Legacy Cities (see below) 33.9% 6.5% 45.8% 1.3% 7.6% 1.6% 3.3% Suburban 76.8% 9.1% 4.7% 0.5% 2.9% 1.1% 5.0% New York Metropolitan Area 50.0% 6.8% 31.1% 0.6% 6.0% 1.6% 4.1% Legacy City: New York 23.7% 4.6% 57.1% 0.8% 8.6% 1.6% 3.5% Suburban 74.8% 8.9% 6.4% 0.3% 3.5% 1.6% 4.6% 5 Other Metropolitan Areas with Legacy Cities 68.6% 9.0% 12.1% 0.9% 3.7% 1.1% 4.6% 5 Legacy Cities (CHI, PHI, SF, BOS, WDC) 44.8% 8.6% 33.7% 1.8% 6.5% 1.5% 3.1% Suburban 77.6% 9.1% 3.9% 0.6% 2.7% 1.0% 5.1% 46 Other Major Metropolitan Areas 78.7% 9.9% 3.1% 0.6% 2.0% 1.1% 4.6% OUTSIDE MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREAS 79.9% 10.1% 1.1% 0.6% 2.9% 1.3% 4.2% United States 76.3% 9.7% 5.0% 0.6% 2.8% 1.2% 4.4% Transit legacy cities include the municipalities of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston & Washington
Staying the Same
The big news in the last five years of commuting data is that virtually nothing has changed. This is remarkable, given the greatest economic reversal in 75 years and continuing gasoline price increases that might have been expected to discourage driving alone. Yet, driving alone continues to increase, while the most cost effective mode of car pooling continued to suffer huge losses, while working at home continued to increase strongly.
Wendell Cox is a Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris and the author of “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.
Photograph: DART light rail train in downtown Dallas (by author)
[First Published by Newgeography]
Being intrigued and interested in the announced topic, Why do we have such a big immigration mess?, I immediately registered to attend Heartland’s speaker series featuring Henryk A. Kowalczyk in a talk about immigration on Wednesday, October 2nd.
Henryk A. Kowalczyk referred to the Heartland anniversary benefit dinner of 2008, at which time guests participated in a heated debate about immigration. A vote was taken and was split almost evenly between supporters and opponents of illegal immigrants and immigration. Now five years later, the issue is still front and center. About Mr. Kowalczyk, he was born in Poland but now lives in Chicago as a naturalized citizen.
Introduced by Joe Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, Mr. Kowalczyk explained how as an engineer and a business man he looked for solutions to problems, but to do so it was essential to understand the problem first.
Within minutes into Kowalczyk’s talk, I could perceive that his views were not of my own nor of my liking, which was likewise the tenor of a few of the comments made by others at the conclusion of the event. At first I thought Mr. Kowalczyk was approaching the issue of immigration as a libertarian, but I quickly dismissed this viewpoint. Libertarians argue from the first principle of human rights, believe they are inherent regardless of what country someone lives in. Therefore, to a libertarian, the right to emigrate or immigrate is a basic human right. Henryk definitely did not embrace this concept. He believes we should put a price tag on immigrating to the U.S., which is really a conservative position even if he favors more people entering the country. Might this make Mr. Kowalczyk a pro-immigration conservative? Read on to decide for yourself.
Freedom of speech is so important to uphold. Kudos to The Heartland Institute, as a leading free market think tank, for inviting Kowalczyk to speak, knowing that his remarks would be scrutinized and questioned! Mr. Kowalczyk was warned beforehand of the reception he would most likely receive in front of Heartland members and friends, but this didn’t deter him from accepting Heartland’s invitation.
According to Henryk Kowalczyk our thinking about immigration is based upon and tainted by 1) xenophobia, 2) on having Socialistic tendencies, and 3) on the failure to practice deliberation democracy.
Capitalism, as defined by Kowalczyk, was where everyone had the same freedom to pursue their particular interest, while with Socialism there was a need for a society to collectively work to come up with better ideas for the good of a society.
What I found most disturbing and so out-of-step with my own thinking was when Kowalczyk described those of us who weren’t in support of open immigration as having tendencies that were akin to socialism. Kowalczyk reminded all that the democratic process had at time backfired, as many Americans continue to hold on to the belief that democracy mandates that all men should have an equal vote in deciding important issues
What followed was a discussion by Kowalczyk of mistakes made a hundred years ago in the treatment of new arrivals. Never corrected, they now weigh heavily on today’s immigration problems.
Before 1924 new arrivals were mostly unfettered Europeans, only white, in search of new opportunities and freedom of movement in looking for jobs. The scouts came first, bringing their families over later. Many of the new immigrants settled west of the Mississippi where limited friction did develop between the new arrivals and those who had already undergone urbanization.
The 1850′s saw the rise of anti-Irish sentiment. Anti-German sentiment followed. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was aimed at controlling the influx of Chinese immigrants who had arrived to work on railroads.
The arrival of the 20th century brought with it a large influx of individuals with pronounced cultural differences. With this trend followed a dramatic change in the nature of society. An intense dislike for each new ethnic group setting foot in America became common place. Especially evident was the rise of anti-Semitism which developed side-by-side with the widely held belief of eugenics, which deduced that Jews were inferior and had a negative effect on society. It made no difference that Jewish enrollment in colleges in the East totaled 20 percent of all new admissions. With the rise Hitler and the use of eugenics by his administration to create a superior race of people, the movement lost all of its steam in the U.S. and was quickly abandoned by the elites.
Critical in creating the immigration mess of today, according to Henryk Kowalczyk, was the Gentleman’s Agreement of 1907, and the formation in the same year of the Dillingham Commission (1907-1911) in response to the growing political concerns about immigration in the U.S.
The Dillingham Commission decided that immigration from southern and Eastern Europe posed a serious threat to American society. This determination prompted The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 which instead favored immigration from northern and western Europe. Eight years later, in 1929, the National Origins Act set the annual immigration ceiling annually at 150,000 which allocated northern and western Europeans 85% of all the places. Asian immigration was barred altogether.
How the mindset of the American people and the actions of politicians were influenced by xenophobia, socialism, and deliberation during the first decades of the 20th century in regard to immigration policy, Mr. Kowalczvk tied all together in the following ways. Concerning xenophobia, The laws enacted, as described in the two previous paragraphs, set forth immigration quotas and further classified people from one area more desirable to fill the existing quotas slots than from others areas of the world.
Regarding socialism, pointed out by Kowalczyk was that this ideology had achieved recognition while gaining a foothold in this nation during the first decade of so the 20th century, bringing with it the idea that the U.S. was superior to other countries. Accordingly, this nation had the right to decide those who could enter the country. An example given of socialistic behavior at the time was alcohol prohibition from 1920-1933 under the guise that a central government by its actions could shape society.
As far as the inability of the American people to practice deliberate democracy, Kowalczyk asked what the consequences were of limiting new arrivals in relation to the Law of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act)?
They were enumerated as such:
- With the limiting of new arrivals, some believed this was a factor in the Great Depression,
- It was the first time politicians had added a price tag to be in the U.S.
- An environment was created for the black market.
- The negative aspects didn’t show up immediately because of WW II and the prosperity it generated.
Going forward in years to 1952, although the immigration part remained essentially the same with the upholding of the national origins quota system, the Naturalization Act of 1952 removed the stigma against Asians from being able to become naturalized American citizens. Also introduced was a system of preferences based on skill and family reunification, vetoed by the Truman White House, Congress overrode the veto.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. This act opened up chain-family-sponsored immigration. It also leveled the immigration playing field by giving a nearly equal shot to newcomers from every corner of the world. By so doing it also changed the face of America with immigration now being viewed as a gift that wealthy nations of the world should offer to the very poor. No longer was immigration seen as part of our economy.
The Immigration Act of 1990 went even further and signaled a return to the pre-1920′s open-door immigration policy. It likewise created the lottery program which Kowalczyk considers the greatest and most stupid blunder ever made in dealing with the immigration mess by establishing a whole new class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.”
The 2006 Kennedy-McCain Comprehensive immigration Reform Act of 2006 went nowhere.
Jumping ahead to 2013, the so-called partisan Gang-of-Eight Senate bill is presently stalled and under fire over the issue of whether the border should be secured first before amnesty is granted with only the promise of border security. In Kowalczyk’s estimation, the 2013 Senate proposal is based on upside down logic because it fails to meet our nation’s economic needs by bringing in as many foreign workers needed.
Regarding President Obama’s DREAM Act Executive Order, Kowalczyk was in favor of it because it offered much needed development relief and education opportunities to alien minorities. According to Kowalczyk, some human treatment was finally being offered young people. Any opposition to what the Dream Act granted exhibited proof of the continued presence of xenophobia in this nation.
Reasons given by Mr. Kowalczyk as to why this nation should and can absorb more immigrants:
- Foreign born, including both illegal and legal, make up only 13% of this nation’s total population. The doubling of the percentage in the last 30 years has given rise to anti-immigrant sentiment.
- In Canada the number of foreign born is 20%. Canada has a higher GPD than does the U.S. Kowalczyk attributes this to Canada’s higher immigrant population and thus concludes that this nation would benefit by having a larger percentage of immigrants.
- Out of a population of 350 million in the U.S., illegal immigrants at 11 million account for only 3.49% of the population. Kowalczyk believes that this percentage wouldn’t go any higher even if we allowed more illegal immigrants to enter the U.S., as this is all our U.S. labor market is in need of.
Like it or not, Mr. Kowalczyk believes that we must acknowledge that more immigrants are needed. For those critics who say that illegals are taking jobs away from the American people this is not true, as many of this nation’s jobs have moved either overseas and to other countries.
For those critics who say that big business benefits mostly from illegal immigrant workers, this is not true. With more people working for a living more wealth is created.
Critics are also incorrect when they say that the source of all our nation’s problems is allowing illegal to work in this country. Regarding high skilled labor, Kowalczyk does admit that engineers brought over from other countries do work for less, but it is the fault or our nation’s colleges in failing to produce engineers and scientists in sufficient number to fill our nation’s requirements.
As far as the current immigration impasse, Mr.Kowalczyk relates it to the fact that 55% of the American people want fewer immigrants than we now have. Most legislators do objectively realize that this nation needs more immigrants, but they haven’t the guts to confront their voters and tell them they are wrong.
As far as not enforcing our laws? The law is meant to protect particular interests. It is not to be decided in accordance to moral values. A moral dilemma facing law enforcers and enforcement has become the criminalization of illegal immigrants.
By using government to restrict the flow of illegal immigrants, Kowalczyk warns that socialist behavior is being employed which didn’t work anywhere else before in the world, and it won’t work here and now.
My comment expressed openly at the Heartland event at the completion of Henryk Kowalczyk’s talk: I don’t believe anything you said! I then went on to tell Mr. Kowalczyk why.
It was only when leaving early to catch a train back home, that Kowalczyk showed a slide he had omitted during his talk because of time restrictions that offered some thoughts I could agree with – if the border were first closed – although I’m still in disagreement with Kowalczyk’s open border concept and that we need more immigrants for the sake of our economy. Furthermore, why is treating illegal immigrants as a social issue dead wrong?
Mr. Kowalczyk’s proposal of several years in the making is defined under his The Freedom of Migration Act. Although Kowalczyk admits that his concept is far away from what most Americans think about immigration and that he could be completely wrong, he further states, if most Americans were right we would not have an immigration crisis either.The solution, as outlined in Henryk Kowalczyk’s The Freedom of Migration Act:
- The only way that a foreigner could settle in the USA should be by finding employment here.
- Private employment agencies should, for a fee, manage the recruitment of foreigners, background checking, issuing ID cards, and keeping record of their employment.
- During the first 5 years of living in the USA, an alien worker should not be entitled to any social benefits available to citizens and permanent residents.
- Political refugees and other individuals admitted to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons should be assisted by private charitable organizations to register as alien workers and then follow the same path as all other foreigners settling here.
- Foreigners which are rich enough to live here without working should be allowed to do so.
- After staying in the USA for five years, a foreign worker, his or her spouse, or minor children should be entitled to obtain a status of the permanent resident, opening the venue to the citizenship.
A fire (screen capture from Jalopnik.com) that torched a Model S from the formerly Teflon Tesla Motors on Tuesday blackened its front end, lowered its stock price, and (further) revealed a corporate arrogance not seen since Fisker Karmas were alight.
But CEO Elon Musk saw to it that taxpayers were fully paid back their $465 million Department of Energy loan, so as watchdogs over the public purse we can forget all about it and just go on about our business – right?
Wrong. The incident near Seattle still should be of great concern because Tesla still heavily depends on tax breaks (like the consumer’s $7,500 federal credit) and the sale of emissions credits (mainly from California) to partially subsidize the costs of their electric cars. Moreover, the government has invested billions of dollars in the research and development of new battery technology, all in the name of energy efficiency in order to save the world from global warming. Those based on lithium have gone up in flames in planes, plants and automobiles.
One of these days there will be a fatality, but until then manufacturers dismiss the incidents. The statement Tesla issued about the fire in Kent, Wash. was matter-of-fact and lacked any expression of concern for the vehicle’s owner.
“Yesterday, a Model S collided with a large metallic object in the middle of the road, causing significant damage to the vehicle,” the company response said. “The car’s alert system signaled a problem and instructed the driver to pull over safely, which he did. No one was injured, and the sole occupant had sufficient time to exit the vehicle safely and call the authorities. Subsequently, a fire caused by the substantial damage sustained during the collision was contained to the front of the vehicle thanks to the design and construction of the vehicle and battery pack. All indications are that the fire never entered the interior cabin of the car. It was extinguished on-site by the fire department.”
It almost sounds like Tesla wants an “attaboy” for the brilliance of its safety features and battery design, rather than express how grateful that the driver was not hurt. Whether there actually was a “large” chunk of metal that was struck still isn’t clear from the evidence, but if there was, it’s not a reason for Tesla to be absolved of responsibility. After all, debris is struck in roadways regularly around the country and it doesn’t cause episodes like this. What, for instance, if the Model S had actually collided with an object in the road and it rendered the driver unconscious? Then we’d be talking about a much different result.
Back when Fisker Automotive was still alive and stumbling, their public relations department handled mishaps in a similar fashion. In May 2012 a Fort Bend County, Texas fire marshal attributed a garage blaze to the homeowner’s Fisker Karma, which he had parked shortly before he started smelling burning rubber and discovered the fire. Nevertheless Fisker issued a statement that said, “As of now, multiple insurance investigators are involved, and we have not ruled out possible fraud or malicious intent. Based on initial observations and inspections, the Karma’s lithium ion battery pack was not being charged at the time and is still intact and does not appear to have been a contributing factor in this incident.” The owner was not pleased by the challenge to his integrity.
And after a California Karma fire in August last year, the company said, “We have more than 1,000 Karmas on the road with a cumulative 2 million miles on them. There are more than 185,000 highway vehicle fires in the US every year…No injuries were reported; the vehicle was parked; and the fire was extinguished safely by the emergency services.”
The arrogance isn’t limited to the automotive realm. In April this year Boeing, after a series of “thermal runaway” incidents on its lithium-ion battery-powered Dreamliner, officials announced they gave up trying when it couldn’t find the source of the problem. Instead the manufacturer said they came up with a solution that would both contain a potential fire and vent its heat outside the airplane if another fire happened.
“In some ways it almost doesn’t matter what the root cause was,” said Michael Sinnett, Boeing’s top engineer.
Undoubtedly there are a lot of very smart people who have worked very hard on developing these new technologies. But likewise there have been equally brilliant individuals warning these engineers and entrepreneurs that they are dealing with dangerous materials and chemistry, and that just because someone hasn’t been hurt yet, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Lewis Larsen of Chicago-based Lattice Energy LLC has consistently called attention to the problems with lithium ion technologies and their tendencies to thermally run away – or, in other words, burn uncontrollably. The practicality problem (other than their immense cost) with the batteries is that when they experience stress – for any number of reasons – it’s almost like unleashing hell.
“…A battery cell’s electrochemical reactions can suddenly start running at greatly elevated rates that create more process heat than normal thermal dissipative mechanisms can easily handle,” Larsen wrote, “which then starts raising the temperature of battery cell contents out beyond their ideal safe operating range…(eventually) a dangerous feedback loop is created…thermal runaways are thus born….”
For many – perhaps most – people that isn’t the kind of risk you want in your “mobile platform,” as Larsen put it. But rather than emphasize those challenges, most of the media coverage has emphasized what the incident has done to Tesla’s stock price, which irrationally skyrocketed upward this year.
Part of the bombastic investor enthusiasm stemmed from other superlatives bestowed upon the Model S, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s top score of five stars, which spurred Musk to make sure the media was told the car scored even higher on some safety aspects. And then in May Consumer Reports’ announced the Model S scored 99 out of 100 – almost perfect!
It was all too much too soon for the electric car with a minimal track record. The doubts and questions about lithium ion batteries used in vehicles and planes – and the massive taxpayer subsidization of them – are still valid.
Arguments put forward to support ethanol and other biofuels hold water like sieves – leaking billions of gallons of precious fresh water that are required to produce this expensive, unsustainable energy.
These and other renewable energy programs may have originated for the best of intentions. However, the assumptions underlying those intentions are questionable, at best, and many are rooted in anti-hydrocarbon worldviews and Club of Rome strategies that raised the specter of “looming disasters” like resource depletion and catastrophic manmade global warming, in which the “real enemy” is “humanity itself.” They also underscore how hard it is to alter policies and programs once they have been launched by Washington politicians, creating armies of special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors.
A review of biofuel justifications shows why these programs must be revised, cut back – or scrapped.
* Renewable fuels will prevent oil depletion and reduce imports. Baloney. US oil and natural gas were declining and imports rising for decades, because environmentalists and politicians blocked leasing and drilling. The very people decrying the situation were causing it. They wanted to justify a non-hydrocarbon future that would give them greater control over our economy and living standards – and build a power base that tied them and votes to farmers and companies that benefitted from this Washington-mandated industry and wealth transfers from taxpayers and consumers to the new political power brokers.
In reality, the United States has vast storehouses of petroleum. Hydraulic fracturing alone has unlocked billions of barrels of oil equivalent energy, created 1.7 million jobs, generated hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity and government revenues, and made America the world’s number one energy producing nation. Opening up areas that are now closed to leasing would build on this record.
This renewed production also reduced oil imports – even as increasing ethanol mandates and a persistent drought have forced the USA to import ethanol from Brazil. So now we’re importing oil and ethanol!
* Renewable fuels reduce carbon dioxide emissions and dangers of catastrophic climate change. Bunk. Ethanol production and use in fuels actually increases CO2 output and airborne ozone levels.
As I point out here, here and here, there is no evidence that rising CO2 levels are about to cause climate chaos. Global average temperatures have not increased in 17 years. The new NIPCC report demonstrates that human influences on our climate are small and localized, and their effects on temperature, climate and weather are almost impossible to separate from frequent, cyclical, completely natural variability.
The latest UN IPCC report deleted all references to this temperature standstill from the Summary for Policy Makers, and eliminated an IPCC graph that revealed how every single climate model predicted that average global temperatures would be up to 1.6 degrees F higher than they actually were over the past 22 years. IPCC bureaucrats politicized the science to the point of making their report fraudulent.
* Biofuels are better for the environment. Nonsense. We are already plowing an area bigger than Iowa to grow corn for ethanol – millions of acres that could be food crops or wildlife habitat. The energy per acre is minuscule compared to what we get from oil and gas drilling, with or without fracking. To meet the latest biodiesel mandate of 1.3 billion gallons, producers will have to extract oil from 430 million bushels of soybeans – converting countless more acres from food or habitat to energy.
To produce that biofuel, we’re also using massive quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, fossil fuels – and water. The US Department of Energy calculates that fracking requires 0.6 to 6.0 gallons of fresh or brackish water per million Btu of energy produced. By comparison, corn-based ethanol requires 2,500 to 29,000 gallons of fresh water per million Btu of energy – and biodiesel from soybeans consumes an astounding and unsustainable 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of water per million Btu!
* Farmers benefit from ethanol. Yes, some get rich. But beef, pork, chicken, egg and fish producers must pay more for feed, which means family food bills go up. Biofuel mandates also mean international aid agencies must pay more for corn and wheat, so more starving people remain malnourished longer.
* Ethanol brings cheaper gas and better mileage. Nonsense. Ethanol gets 30% less mileage than gasoline, so motorists pay the same or more per tank but can drive fewer miles. It collects water, gunks up fuel lines, corrodes engine parts, and wreaks havoc on lawn mowers and other small engines. E15 fuel blends (15% ethanol) exacerbate these problems. Biodiesel and ultra-expensive biofuel for military ships and aircraft make even less sense, especially when we have at least a century of petroleum right under our feet, right here in the United States, that many “renewable” energy advocates don’t want us to touch.
* Ethanol creates jobs. Yes, spending billions in taxes that could otherwise pay for other government or private programs … and billions in extra consumer costs for energy and food … does prop up biofuel programs, until companies go bankrupt anyway. As to “green” jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines “green jobs” as any that make a company “more environmentally friendly” – and elsewhere includes bus drivers piloting natural gas, biofuel or hybrid vehicles. The Solar Energy Society includes accountants, lawyers and landscapers involved even part time with making or installing solar panels. Even burger flippers could be green job, if they sell a meal to a truck driver who’s hauling corn to an ethanol plant.
Those capacious definitions should certainly include prosecuting attorneys and staffs going after the growing number of shady dealers who got “renewable energy tax credits” for selling fuels that were not 100% biodiesel – and others who sold fraudulent RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) to refineries that face stiff penalties if they fail to buy mandated amounts of ethanol and blend it into gasoline.
Because gasoline consumption is down, many refineries have hit a “blend wall” – meaning the gasoline they are producing already contains as much ethanol as vehicle engines and related equipment can safely handle. However, the government still requires them to buy more corn pone fuel – or purchase RINs or pay hefty fines. That drives up the price of RINs and creates many opportunities or the unscrupulous.
If Congress would simply let real free markets work, instead of mandating pseudo markets, much of this crime and corruption would end. Instead, it perpetuates perverse incentives, perks and money trains – which promote what could be the Environmentalist-Industrialist-Governmentalist Complex’s motto: “We don’t tolerate corruption. We insist on it.” Outright criminal activity is merely the tip of the iceberg.
“Green slime” doesn’t just describe algae-based biofuels. It also describes the entire DC-mandated biofuel system. About the only thing really green about it is the billions of dollars taken from taxpayers and consumers, and funneled to politicians, who dole the cash out to friendly constituents, who then return some of it as campaign contributions, to get the pols reelected, to perpetuate the gravy train.
Even some Democrats are finally questioning their party’s “steadfast support” for policies that promote “renewable” energy over oil and gas: Ben Cardin (MD), Robert Casey (PA), Kay Hagan (NC) and several colleagues have openly expressed concern about renewable mandates. One has to wonder why so many Republicans still can’t say no to ethanol.
Here are the biggest Republican ethanol boosters. Readers may want to call or email them, to present the facts and ask them why they (and most Democrats) insist on perpetuating this wasteful system, which benefits so few, at the expense of so many.
It will be interesting to see how they defend their profligate and environmentally harmful ways.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.
On the very same day that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) announces: “US Rises to No. 1 Energy Producer”—thanks to the shale boom made possible through a technology known as hydraulic fracturing—an environmental group released a report calling for a complete ban of the practice, which would effectively shut down the oil-and-gas industry (and all of the jobs and revenues it creates) and increase dependence on foreign oil. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
You probably haven’t heard about either, as most news coverage, on October 3, centered on the government shutdown—eclipsing all else.
Why would Environment America choose to release a report, that they call “the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking,” on a day when it would likely receive little attention? The answer is found in the WSJ: “the shale boom’s longevity could hinge on commodity prices, government regulations and public support.” (italics added)
Americans support the concept of energy independence. We don’t like the fact that we’ve been funding terrorists because we buy oil from people who hate us and who happily slaughter our citizens.
The Obama Administration is the most anti-fossil-fuel in history, yet within the past month, three Obama cabinet members—two former, one current—have declared fracking a safe technology for extracting oil and natural gas:
·At a speech in Columbus, Ohio, former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said that fracking “is something you can do in a safe way” and dismissed a study critical of fracking by saying: “we didn’t think it was credible.”
·At the Domenici Public Policy conference in Las Cruces, New Mexico, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stated: “I would say to everybody that hydraulic fracking is safe.”
·In a meeting with the NY Daily News editorial board, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz asserted: “Fracking for natural gas is climate-friendly, environmentally safe and economically stimulating” and added: “Which is just what America and New York need.”
Then, in the same month, in the greenest state of the Union, against strong opposition, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a hotly-contested bill that reflects the fact that he favors some level of fracking.
These pro-fracking news items, along with several recent reports pointing to the safety of hydraulic fracturing, have the anti-fracking crowd resorting to desperation. And, then the WSJ announces America’s energy dominance on its front page. I suspect that Environment America had their little report ready to go and were just waiting for the right time to release it—probably after the shutdown, when the news cycle had some space. But, when the WSJ heralded the US energy comeback, they just had to spring it—hoping to shift public opinion.
The environmentalists’ advertising efforts have had an impact—even though, as Secretary Chu noted, the anti-fracking argument isn’t “credible.” A September Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that opposition to increased use of fracking rose to 49% from 38% in the previous six months.
Why, when hydraulic fracturing has brought America to the brink of energy independence, been the biggest driver of job growth, lowered utility bills, and positively impacted the trade deficit, are people opposed to it? Because they don’t really know what it is, and, therefore, are gullible to the old adage: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
A University of Michigan report on hydraulic fracturing found: “The public tends to view the word ‘fracking’ as the entirety of the natural gas development process, from leasing and permitting, to drilling and well completion, to transporting and storing wastewater and chemicals.” In fact, fracking is limited to the process of injecting fluids into a well—just a few days of a multi-month operation (not counting leasing and permitting).
This widespread misunderstanding explains why the repeated lies have taken hold.
One of the most rampant lies about fracking made by the environmentalists is about water. The press release about the “fracking by the numbers” report, claims: “Of particular concern are the billions of gallons of toxic waste created from fracking, which threaten the environment, public health and drinking water.”
On page 5, Fracking by the Numbers states: “Fracking operations have used at least 250 billion gallons of water since 2005.” Which sounds ominous until you get some perspective. For example, over that same period, car washes have used more than twice as much water: 600+ billion gallons. In the state of Colorado, where water supplies can be constrained and oil-and-gas development is high, water used for fracking amounts to less than one-tenth of one percent of the state’s total water demand.
Also on page 5: “While most industrial uses of water return it to the water cycle for further use, fracking converts clean water into toxic wastewater, much of which must then be permanently disposed of, taking billions of gallons out of the water supply annually.” And: “Farmers are particularly impacted by fracking water use as they compete with the deep-pocketed oil and gas industry for water, especially in drought-stricken regions of the country.” These statements are just plain false. The oil-and-gas industry is now often using water that is not suitable for farming or drinking and then reusing the water over and over.
Mike Hightower, a hydrologist at Sandia National Labs adds: “Five years ago fresh water was used for each frac job, now they are using frac fluids that are 5 times saltier than sea water. That allows more reuse of waters, and is putting less strain on water resources in many western states.”
Dexter Harmon, Exploration Manager at Fasken Oil & Ranch, says they are using 88 percent produced water and Santa Rosa water that has been treated to remove harmful components and 12 percent fresh water to frac their Wolfberry wells near Midland, Texas. It cost about $1.75-$2.00/barrel to treat the produced water to get it ready to re-use on a frac job.
Plus, the industry is continually being revolutionized by technological advances. For example, GE has a new energy-efficient process that could cut the cost of water treatment in half, eliminate the need to transport the water for treatment, and decrease the chances of spills. MIT Technology Review, September 24, 2013, reported: “Based on pilot-scale tests of a machine that can process about 2,500 gallons of water per day, GE researchers say they are on track to cut the costs of treating salty fracking wastewater in half. The system needs to be scaled up for commercial use, but a full-sized system could treat about 40,000 gallons per day.”
Another lie repeated in the report (page 9): “There are ‘more than 1,000 cases’ of groundwater contamination.” Yet, the three major investigations of water contamination that were conducted by the EPA—Pavillion, Wyoming, the Range Resources case in Texas, and Dimock, Pennsylvania (made famous by the Gasland movie)—have all been cleared.
Additionally, three different environmentally aligned Obama administration members have made statements regarding an absence of evidence of fracking contaminating groundwater:
·At an August 1 breakfast, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, stated: “To my knowledge, I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater.”
·Ken Kopocis, President Obama’s nominee to be Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, was asked recently in testimony before Congress if he was aware of any cases of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing. His answer? “No I am not.”
·Lisa Jackson, President Obama’s former EPA chief, said: “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the [fracturing] process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.” This comment follows her previous testimony before Congress, when she explained that she is “not aware of any proven case where [hydraulic fracturing] itself has affected water.”
We could go on picking apart the 47-page report, but these lies, untruths, and deceptions on water give you the idea. Energy In Depth has a more thorough review of Environment America’s “Fracking by the Numbers,” in which they call the anti-fracking group “professional activists bent on preventing responsible energy development from taking place.”
The budget they have to produce propaganda and advertising campaigns to change public opinion seems unlimited. Environment America’s IRS Form 990 for fiscal year ending 06-30-2011, shows it has 210 employees with revenues of $3.7 million. In the acknowledgements, Environment America thanks the “Park Foundation for making this report possible”—The Park Foundation funded the anti-fracking movie Gasland and other anti-fracking activities. And they call the oil-and-gas industry “deep-pocketed.”
Thanks to hydraulic fracturing America is on the brink of energy independence, it has provided the biggest driver of job growth, lowered utility bills, and positively impacted the trade deficit, yet one small, well-funded, and vocal segment of the population is opposed to it—using false scare tactics to sway pubic opinion. When you think about why they would want to ban this single, effective economic stimulus, it should make you shudder and cause you to commit—with me—to spreading the truth.
Those of you who are supposedly outraged or indignant over the partial government shutdown, or have friends or neighbors who are outraged or indignant, I can tell you all how YOU can fix it. All you have to do is tell pollsters who call that you think Obama and the Democrats are responsible for the shutdown. As soon as that hits the papers, the shutdown will be over before the end of the day.
That is because it is Obama and the Democrats who shut down the government, because they are so certain that the Republicans will be blamed for it. And that ploy is part of the quixotic quest of Obama and the Democrats to manipulate the public to take back majority control of the House in the President’s second mid-term. Quixotic because that is unprecedented in American politics, and is never going to happen.
House Republicans sent over to the Democrat majority Senate three Continuing Resolutions (CRs) to fund the government. The Senate Democrat majority shot each one down on a unanimous straight party line vote. Every supposed Senate Democrat moderate marched in goose step with the liberal/left party line. Even supposed maverick Joe Manchin of West Virginia, from a state being crucified by the party liberals, voted with the Senate Democrat majority to shut down the government.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp won her race in North Dakota last year by 1% running as a supposed moderate Democrat. The people of her state overwhelmingly oppose Obamacare. But Heitkamp, like Manchin, would rather shut down the government than compromise over Obamacare.
The last CR the Republican House sent over to the Democrat Senate even funded all of Obamacare, except it required a one year delay in the highly unpopular individual mandate, to match Obama’s arbitrary and illegal one year delay in the employer mandate that Obama declared by decree without legal authorization. And it nullified the special exemption from the requirements of Obamacare for Congress and its staff that the Obama Administration decreed as well without legal authorization.
But every single Democrat in the Senate voted to keep the special exemption from Obamacare for Congress and its staff, and against the same one year delay in the mandate on working people that Obama illegally granted for the mandate on big business. That included every supposed moderate Democrat in the Senate – Heitkamp, Manchin, Landrieu, Kay Hagan of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, etc. They would rather shut down the government than agree to these highly popular, modest compromises of Obamacare. There goes Harry Reid’s Senate Democrat majority next year, which is really what is going to happen in Obama’s second mid-term election. (President Obama will then be the lamest lame duck ever.).
Indeed, Senate Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid even refused a House request for a routine Conference Committee between the House and the Senate to compromise over the Continuing Resolution to fund the government, assuring the continued shutdown Democrats are so certain will unseat the Republican House majority next year instead. To attempt to further manipulate public opinion against the Republicans, President Obama ordered Park Police to barricade the World War II memorial to keep out vets visiting Washington on a privately organized Honor Flight to see it. Similar barricades were set up at monuments all over Washington, including at scenic overlooks on the George Washington Parkway, in service to the cause of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee. These crass attempts at manipulating voters that Obama and the Democrats are so certain are too stupid to see what is going on is what really should be angering and driving to indignation you and your friends and neighbors.
House Republicans even started passing targeted funding bills to address particular issues, such as providing continued cancer treatments for children at the National Institutes for Health, keeping national parks open, and funding services for veterans. But Obama and Reid refused to even consider those bills as well.
When a reporter asked Harry Reid why the Senate would not pass a bill so children could continue to get their cancer treatments while the House-Senate budget battle dragged on, Reid responded, “Why would we do that?” and questioned the intelligence of the reporter. The obvious human answer was to save the lives of children. But Reid was not thinking about humanity. He was thinking about the political consequences of engineering a shutdown in further manipulation of the public against Republicans he is so certain the public will blame. In that context, his question made sense, including his disparagement of the reporter’s intelligence. Couldn’t she see the political value in denying health care to cancer stricken children, when the Republicans would be so obviously blamed for that?
But those bills were the beginning of the Republicans stumbling upon the right answer to the Democrats’ ploy. House Republicans should go back to regular order and start passing the remaining 11 or 12 appropriations bills to fund the entire government, except for Obamacare. Pass one each day, and hold a press conference to say the Republicans are ready to go to a Conference Committee with the Democrats if they disagree on the appropriations bill just passed.
But when it comes to the Treasury Department appropriations, the Republicans should just not fund the role of the rogue IRS in administering and enforcing Obamacare. When it comes to appropriations for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), House Republicans should just not fund any payments from the Federal Employee Health Benefits program for health insurance on the Obamacare Exchanges for Congress and its staff, eliminating any special exemption for Congress from the requirements of Obamacare, because no other employer is allowed under Obamacare to help employees buy health insurance on the Exchanges. And when it comes to appropriations for HHS, House Republicans should fund the Department, except for any funds to enforce and administer the individual mandate for at least a year, matching Obama’s legally unauthorized one year delay of the employer mandate.
Then if the Democrats disagree with the provisions of these appropriations bills, they can pass their own appropriations bills with different provisions, and go to a Conference Committee with the House to compromise over final legislation. This is standard procedure for passage of bills. Check your high school civics book.
President Obama says he will not negotiate over funding the government. That is all to the good, because he has no role in this appropriations process, until both houses of Congress pass an appropriations bill for his signature.
Then if the President favors the role of the IRS in Obamacare, or a special exemption deal for Congress from Obamacare, or enforcing the individual mandate on working people but not the employer mandate on big business that is in his own Obamacare bill, he can say so in vetoing any of these bills and keeping the government shut down to that extent. But there is no point in negotiating with him in advance, because he thinks the shutdown works to his political advantage, so will not show the leadership to compromise, as Reagan did in working with Congressional Democrats so successfully.
If Senate Democrats never get around to Conference Committee meetings on the appropriations bills, that would only reveal to everyone who is really responsible for the government shutdown after all. That would only mean that 800,000 nonessential federal employees out of 2.9 million would stay on furlough indefinitely. No harm to the public in that, and it would save a lot of money the government doesn’t have besides. Once House Republicans pass their appropriations bills, they can wait for Senate Democrats to show up to do their part as long as it takes.
But to win a complete victory over Obamacare, Republicans will have to advance a complete, alternative, replacement bill, which can capture the support of the public as vastly preferable to Obamacare. Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) has already introduced a comprehensive Republican alternative – H.R. 2300. Last month, the House Republican Study Committee introduced its proposal, authored by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN). These two bills provide the foundation for a complete replacement for Obamacare that would ultimately be victorious
Roe’s proposal would expand the current tax benefits for employer health insurance to everyone, with a standard health deduction of $7,500 (individual) or $20,000 (family) for all for the purchase of health coverage, regardless of how much the insurance actually cost. That greatly improves incentives over current law, encouraging the purchase of health coverage, but only up to reasonable limits in costs.
Moreover, Roe’s proposal would substantially liberalize Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSA deposits not spent on health care could be withdrawn tax free without penalty, which would greatly strengthen incentives not to waste money on health care when not necessary. Moreover, the proposal would allow unspent Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds to be rolled over and saved for future use, which would turn 35 million FSA accounts into new HSAs. The poor could also choose HSAs for their Medicaid coverage.
Replacing Obamacare, both plans would also eliminate over $1 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, cutting the now current Obamacare capital gains tax by 16%. Repealing the individual mandate would also effectively be another tax cut, freeing families to choose their own health insurance rather than having Kathleen Sebelius impose her choice on them. Repealing the employer mandate would be another tax cut on jobs, eliminating the driving incentive diminishing American jobs to part time work. Gone also would be the Obamacare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which has the power to cut Medicare benefits further without Congressional approval.
Roe’s proposal would also address pre-existing conditions by making health insurance guaranteed issue for anyone with continuous coverage, which is feasible and workable on that condition. Both plans would also provide federal funding to help states set up high risk pools, which would cover the uninsured who became too sick to buy new coverage in the market. Both would also increase competition and reduce costs by allowing the sale and purchase of health insurance across state lines nationally.
Both plans would capture the public imagination as a far superior, complete alternative to Obamacare, if Price’s refundable health insurance tax credit of roughly $2,500 per person was expanded to everyone, in place of Roe’s standard deduction. With that done right, the two plans joined together would earn a CBO score of universal coverage, unlike Obamacare, which lets down its most ardent supporters by leaving 30 million uninsured 10 years after full implementation, as scored by CBO! Moreover, the credit would provide equal health insurance tax benefits for everyone, unlike the deduction, which cuts taxes more for those with higher incomes, exposing a long time Republican vulnerability.
In addition, the poor would benefit greatly, with a CBO scored savings of $1 to $2 trillion over 10 years, if Medicaid was block granted to the states following the model of the enormously successful 1996 welfare reforms of the old AFDC program. The poor would be demonstrably served far better for far less with such Medicaid block grants.
The bottom line is that the resulting Obamacare replacement plan would provide for universal coverage (which Obamacare fails to do), with no individual mandate, no employer mandate, and a net tax and spending cut of at least $1 trillion over the first 10 years alone. The public would overwhelmingly embrace such a Republican health care alternative as vastly preferable to Obamacare. What a resounding reversal that would be in the public’s appraisal of President Obama and his legacy for Obamacare to be replaced by such a Republican alternative based on freedom of choice, market competition and incentives, rather than Obamacare’s effective take over and control over health care.
As we read and hear the accusations and counter-accusations, the insults and counter-insults — things like the Democrats accusing the Republicans of coming unhinged, and the Republicans accusing the Democrats of uncompromising arrogance — it’s important to acknowledge almost none of what politicians say about the so-called government shutdown matters.
Even if significant swaths of the government were to shut down, which will not happen, it would be only temporary. The long-term trajectory of government spending and debt has been and likely will continue to be up.
This is the 17th so-called government shutdown since the 1970s, and most people would agree the government is bigger, more intrusive, and more abusive than it’s been in living memory. See Obamacare. See No Child Left Behind. See NSA spying. See the 14,000 pages of regulations and 155 rules — and counting — of the Dodd-Frank law. See the record number of Americans in the federal and state prison systems. See the 40 years of Drug War failure. See the rise of warrior cops. See the nearly 79,000 pages of federal regulations. See the IRS and the nearly 74,000 pages of U.S. tax code.
It’s a bipartisan problem, as economist Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University reminds us:
Congress has the constitutional prerogative to control spending, and it does so through the debt ceiling, which sets the allowable limit of federal government borrowing. The first chart shows all the times that the debt limit has been raised since 1980, which includes 18 times under Ronald Reagan, four times under Bill Clinton, and seven times under George W. Bush. Most recently, President Obama raised the debt limit for his fifth time, to $16.69 trillion, $305 billion above the previous statutory limit, which is exponentially greater than when it first reached $1 trillion about 30 years ago in 1982.
It’s also apparently a split-personality problem. Here’s then-Senator Barack Obama on raising the government’s debt ceiling during a floor speech he gave in 2006:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up — raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.
Apparently the final destination of “the buck” Obama talked about in 2006 moved to Capitol Hill when he moved into the White House.
When Republican George W. Bush controlled the White House before Obama took office — a stint that included several years in which the House and Senate were also under the control of supposedly stingy Republicans — we saw the biggest spending binge since the launch of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs of the 1960s.
This shutdown isn’t a fight about the direction of government. It’s about the speed of government growth. Neither of the major political parties shows any evidence of really wanting to shrink government, because that would reduce their own power.
To those who might object that Republicans are trying to end Obamacare, thus reducing government’s power, remember two things: (1) the Republican establishment leaders did not want a shutdown over ending Obamacare, and (2) Obamacare was modeled on Romneycare in Massachusetts. Mitt Romney, of course, was the Republican governor of Massachusetts who lost to Obama in the 2012 presidential election.
We can bet there’d be much less agitation against Obamacare in Republican Party ranks if Romney had defeated Obama.
[First published at The Daily Caller.]
Rush Limbaugh recently cited research by The Heartland Institute and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) in a monolougue about global warming.
Rush pointed out that so-called “skeptics” (aka “scientists” adhereing to the scientific method) have a wealth of observed data and research to dispute the “policital science” claim that human activity is having a disastrous effect on the Earth’s climate.
Read more about what Rush was talking about at the Climate Change Reconsidered website — which contains the data that destroys the “political science” of the United Nations’ IPCC. And below the Rush clip, be sure to watch a one-minute-clip of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century explain what “scientific method” actually is. Hint: It’s not a bunch of experts declaring what “science” is.