I recently read somewhere that there are so many laws and regulations on the books of federal and state governments that we are all breaking a law at some point every hour of the day. I have little doubt of that.
Alexis de Tocqueville, the author of “Democracy in America”, was a Frenchman living under a monarchy that, not long after the American Revolution would be overthrown. In contrasting America’s emerging society with his own, he wrote “[Tyrannical] power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.”
“For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?”
I had a college professor who said that no government is more than two weeks from being overthrown if it cannot feed its people. This was the case of the French Revolution and, in more modern times, a major reason for the initial overthrow of the Egyptian government.
The Socialist movement that emerged in the early years of the last century is a perfect example of a tyranny that seeks to control all aspects of people’s lives.
Food is critical to our lives and there is no lack of those in government and outside of it who are intent on determining, controlling, what we can freely choose to eat. Some are just petty do-gooders like New York Mayor Bloomberg intent on imposing his views on the citizens of the Big Apple.
Others spread fear like those who rant about Bisphanal-A, a beneficial chemical that protects people against food poisoning. The World Health Organization, the European Food Safety Authority and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have all discounted its risk to human health. I have written extensively about BPA and you can visit the blog, The BPA File, I maintain in its support. Another example of food fear-mongering has been the smear campaign against finely textured beef that was subjected to some very bad, inaccurate media coverage last year, called it “pink slime.” It is a filler that has been commonly used for decades in ground beef and other food products. I wrote about it in March 2012. To avoid more attacks, Cargill Inc. has announced it will begin labeling ground beef that contains it.
There have been and are some foods that pose a threat to health and that is why, in 1906, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came into being, signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt. Originally called the Food, Drug, and Insecticide organization, later shortened to the FDA. By 2008, it had 9,300 employees and I have little doubt they perform a very useful, necessary service.
The FDA recently ruled that trans fats, partially hydrogenated fats or oils, are unsafe in food. They are deemed a potential prime factor that could lead to heart attacks and strokes. In her excellent book, “Fat—It’s Not What You Think”, Connie Leas, while dispelling many misconceptions about fat, noted that “Beginning about the 1950s, believing that saturated fats were implicated in heart diseases, medical organizations such as the American Heart Association, and government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, urged Americans to abandon traditional fats, such as butter, in favor in favor of trans fats such as margarine.” Leas said they were wrong and, though it has taken more than a half century, it is a good thing the FDA has finally ruled against their use.
Lately in the news is the trend of food companies who are no longer using the terms like “natural” and “all natural” when describing their products. A recent Wall Street Journal article by Mike Esterl reported that “The Food and Drug Administration has no definition, says a spokeswoman, but rather a long-standing policy that considers ‘natural’ to mean that ‘nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food.” To varying degrees, while all foods start out as natural, food processing plays a role in the final product. Spending more money for “organic” food is a waste of money.
All food starts off as organic. This simple truth is lost on those who have an irrational fear of genetically modified crops and there is a worldwide movement to create a baseless fear of GM crops. As Dr. Marc Van Montagu noted in a recent Wall Street Journal commentary, “In fact, people have consumed billions of meals containing GM foods in the 17 years since they were first commercialized and no one problem has been documented.” One would think that is self-evident since “Mankind has been breeding crops—and thereby genetically altering them—since the dawn of agriculture. Today’s techniques for modifying plants are simply new, high-precision methods for doing the same.”
In a world of heavily-funded propaganda to create various fears about food, it behooves us to educate ourselves about the real science and real facts about what we eat and drink. Were it not for GM crops, the growing population of the world would lack the vast amounts of food it provides. It says a lot about the planet’s capability to produce all manner of food that one of the problems we hear about lately, whether it is America or China, is obesity. There is a cure for it—EAT LESS.
We should be mindful of what and how much we consume.[Article originally posted on Alan Caruba's Warning Signs Blog]
Ben Domenech, the Heartland Institute’s Senior Budget and Healthcare expert, joined the panel on Blaze TV Tuesday to discuss Bill Clinton’s comments in an interview on ozy.com regarding Obamacare. While it has been official Democrats are weaning on their ardent support for the Affordable Care Act, Clinton called on President Obama to honor his statement that citizens had the option to keep their health care plans, even if it meant changing the law.
Proceeding on the premise of the fix-it approach, Ben Domenech asserts that allowing people to keep their health care plans would be virtually impossible at this point. States such as California have pushed major private health care companies out, as we have seen with Aetna. Bill Clinton’s comments show a breaking away from the Clintons and Obama’s budding friendship. This platform is now paving the way for potential 2016 Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton to sweep in and save the day.
If you like this kind of analysis, sign up for The Blaze. And be sure to also check out Ben’s outstanding new publication The Federalist; subscribe to Ben’s politics and policy newsletter The Transom; sign up for his free Consumer Power Report weekly email newsletter on health care policy from The Heartland Institute; and also listen to his contributions to The Heartland Daily Podcast and the Coffee & Markets podcast.
… and that is not an exhaustive list of Ben’s projects. He’s the hardest working man in new media!
Political humorist and Heartland friend Bill Mellberg appeared last week on the Stevie Jay and Diane Ducey show on ESPN Radio 93.5 in Champaign-Urbana, IL to imagine a world in which President Obama not only wasn’t re-elected president, but didn’t win his first Senate race in 2004.
In Bill’s parody, Obama operates a used car lot, “Crazy Barry’s Obama Car, Used Car, Car Emporium”, where he only sells American, union made cars fromthe “workers paradise” of Detroit. We don’t want to give too much away, so just listen in the player above.
In a recent editorial Summers argues that in spite of the false start and misunderstanding surrounding the implementation of ObamaCare, everyone in Congress should do all in their power to help it to be a success.
Why? Because otherwise “government loses the ability to deliver for citizens and citizens lose respect for government. Our Democracy is the loser.”
Mr. Summers uses the analogy of war. “Everyone understands that when the country is at war, even a war they oppose, vigorous oversight is essential, but, in the end, there is an obligation to support American troops. In the same way, history will not judge kindly those who, having lost political debates, go beyond vigorous oversight and seek to subvert enacted programs. “Opposing Bad Laws Does not Weaken Democracy
Let’s take some historical examples. In 1850, the U.S. Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act. It stated that any runaway slave had to be returned to his master, even if he had escaped to what before the Civil War were the “free states” in which human slavery was already prohibited. Indeed, any person harboring a fugitive slave was subject to a $1,000 fine and six months in prison.
It was argued at the time that the act was an attempt to calm the fears of the Southern slave states that the Northern states would try to undermine that “peculiar institution” by offering refuge and protection to those who could successfully escape to one of the “free states.”
Should every American have done his best to track down and turn in runaway slaves, and inform on neighbors, friends, and even relatives who were hiding such slaves? After all, it was the law of the land; it was meant to maintain the “unity” of the country against the dangers of regional division.
Abolitionists and other opponents of slavery considered it to be an abomination against morality and justice to make it a crime to give “aid and comfort” to the fugitive slave. Of course, instead, there were many in the Northern states who assisted in what was known as the “underground railroad,” which helped runaway slaves to illegally escape to Canada where slavery had long been abolished.
Were these active opponents of slavery who had, up to that time, lost the “political debate,” to now do nothing to challenge the law, lest Americans lose their respect for government, and weaken democracy?Criticizing Bad Wars is Not Unpatriotic
Larry Summers uses the analogy of war, when he says, even if you have opposed a war, it is your duty as an American is to support the troops. But what if it is an unjust war? That is, a war that is not in defense of the nation in response to the aggressive attack of another country, or to any present and evidently clear “danger”?
Instead, it is a war in which your government is the aggressor against another nation. In which the soldiers of your country are violating the freedom and property of another people. Should the attitude be “my country, right or wrong,” due to your government’s military adventure placing the servicemen of your nation in “harm’s way”?
There was a small number of Germans who chose to oppose the Nazi regime during the Second World War. During about a six-month period in 1942-1943, a small group of German students known as the “White Rose” clandestinely distributed anti-Hitler leaflets and wrote anti-war graffiti on walls. Six of the most prominent members of the “White Rose” were captured by the Gestapo and shortly afterward beheaded.
Were they young men and women of moral courage and character, or were they enemies of national unity preventing the government from “delivering” on its promises, and therefore undermining “respect” for the Nazi German government?
I am sure that Mr. Summers would accuse me of drawing upon two unfair examples that have nothing in common with implementing something as “well intentioned” as ObamaCare.Political Paternalism versus Individual Liberty
But that is the point. Is ObamaCare a “benign” and “socially just” piece of legislation that merely is intended to assure an equality of reasonable and “fair” access to health care for all in America?
Or is it, instead, a threat to the traditional values and principles of a free society, in which it is neither the duty nor responsibility of the government to act as a paternalistic “master” dictating and imposing what those in the government consider “good” for the people?For the opponents of ObamaCare it is precisely an issue of personal liberty versus political servitude. That Mr. Summers and others who share his views on this and related policy issues cannot see how anyone can view it in such “ideologically extreme” terms, merely shows the opponents of the Affordable Care Act how far the country has moved away from its founding understanding of the meaning of individual freedom and self-responsibility.
Or as the famous 19th century German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once expressed it, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Many of the consistent opponents of increasing government power and paternalism in American society are following in the footsteps of the 18th and 19th century classical liberals, who considered it their moral duty to defend personal, social and economic liberty.Changing Masters Still Equals Servitude
Both private slavery and political servitude in the form of government dependency were viewed as the enemy of the rights of the individual to his life, liberty and honestly acquired property. Such political paternalism stripped the individual of his personal dignity and his opportunity to be a self-governing, free human being.Changing “masters” from the absolute king or the plantation owner to the “will of the majority” in an election does not change the essence of servitude one bit. Thus, there is nothing “unpatriotic” or “disrespectful” of government in a democracy when those who may have temporarily “lost the debate” continue to insist that the “debate” is not over. Wrong-headed and misguided legislation has been overturned in the past. And such will be the case, no doubt, in the future again. For the critics and opponents of ObamaCare the issue of liberty versus political paternalism is not decided based on one vote. It is a battle of ideas and policy that is a continuous one.
And if some members of Congress, expressing the will of their constituents, wish to use all lawful and Constitutionally permissible means to limit the damage of what they see as legislative threats to that liberty, then they are neither unpatriotic nor disrespectful of representative government.
They are merely defending the conception of liberty that inspired the Declaration of Independence and the writing of the United States Constitution.[Article originally published on Epictimes.com]
President Obama is demanding, by Executive Order, what congress will not give him by vote. With winter approaching and the “ObamaCare” mess hanging over his shoulder, he is now ordering the U.S. economy to hitch itself to more and more of the costly and erratic “renewable” energy sources. These have already bankrupted Spain and are about to bankrupt Great Britain and Germany.
Spain, Britain, and Germany are already years further down the road to the “renewable” blackouts President Obama now demands for America. Spain is already broke, and Britain is heading for mass energy poverty for its people. German industries meanwhile threaten to flee their country in favor of markets where they can get electricity that competes with coal in China and India.
In Britain, the government’s Energy Act demands the nation produce 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, up from the current government share of 12 percent. The target for 2050 is a whopping 80 percent! The high cost of building nuclear reactors has ruled out that option; the EU is demanding that coal be phased out. Britain has big shale gas deposits, but the country has not approved fracking for the gas.
The only new power source the UK has left itself is thousands of huge, barge-mounted wind turbines in the turbulent North Sea! These sea-going windmills cost more to build and vastly more to maintain than land-based turbines—and could quadruple England’s future electric bills. British chemical plants are already starting to shut down, even as London newspapers predict fuel poverty (spending more than 10 percent of income for heat) for nearly half the population.
Germany’s Angela Merkel impulsively announced the end of German nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima tidal wave. Now Germany is burning more coal than ever, despite a national goal of getting 80 percent of its energy from renewable fuels, cutting greenhouse emissions by 80 percent and slashing electric usage by 25 percent.
Even without the hoped-for reduction in human CO2 emissions, the world has gotten no warmer since 1998, and today’s temperatures are little different from those of a century ago. The President nevertheless still believes what Greenpeace told him back when he was a community organizer—CO2 is the all-time threat to the planet.
Meanwhile, China demands that rich nations kick in $100 billion per year for energy subsidies in the poor countries that are not warming. India blames the industrial countries for the global non-warming and demands they “solve” it.
Even the International Panel on Climate Change is now admitting that the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age were global climate shifts, not unlike the Modern Warming. More and more evidence points to a long, natural solar cycle that we are still struggling to understand. The Antarctic ice expanded between 1979 and 2012 on both land and sea, and never mind the warming predicted for both poles. Even the Arctic has cooled sharply in the past few years, after a 30-year warming. This supports the Russian claim of a 70-year Arctic warming/cooling cycle. Worldwide, sea levels are rising no faster and droughts have not increased.
Most interesting of all, the IPCC says in its new report that the reduced trend in the earth’s warming has been due to “volcanic eruptions.” It is true that volcanic eruptions can darken the sky and reduce the solar heat that reaches the earth. Moreover, at the same time they add to the CO2 concentration in the air.
You ask which major volcanoes erupted during the 1998–2012 period? The reality is none. Meanwhile, the modest eruption of an Icelandic volcano in 2010 released more CO2 than was prevented by all of the ultra-costly human efforts to limit CO2 emissions.
With no recent warming, what new evidence do we have about CO2 being the world’s big problem? Again, the answer seems to be “none.” President Obama is leading us like lemmings into the same suicidal behavior that is destroying Europe’s prosperity—with no apparent impact on the CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere. Why the economic suicide, Mr. President?
[Article originally posted on canadafreepress.com]
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. wrote an excellent column in last week’s Wall Street Journal titled “Germany Reinvents the Energy Crisis.” The headline suggests it is just about Germany, but it is not. It is about us, too.
Jenkins understands that global warming is just a temporary infatuation of the longer-lived environmental movement. That movement’s campaign against affordable energy began before global warming was perceived as a problem (or opportunity) and is deeply rooted in the movement’s Malthusian fear of resource depletion and naïve longing to return to a pre-capitalist utopia.
This is why, when global warming predictions and claims are exposed as being fraudulent, they simply say: ”Oh, whatever. It’s still a good idea to move away from fossil fuels.” It is, Jenkins writes, “an idea seemingly impervious to experience and part of the mental baggage of every politician likely to get elected in our world.”
Some of us are pondering what Jenkins refers to near the end of the article as “the big question”:
… how far will the political upheaval go when an entire elite is implicated in an unsatisfactory energy experiment, which inevitably has become wrapped up in public disappointment with another failed elite project …
Jenkins is referring to German politics and the European Union, but the domestic project that immediately comes to mind is Obamacare.
The high cost of Obama’s war on coal will soon become apparent, just as it has in Germany and the rest of Europe, and just as the high cost of Obamacare is penetrating the consciousness of the average guy. The backlash will be fierce, just as it has been against Obamacare. But in the case of Obamacare, only a small percentage of the public has been affected (yet). In the case of Obama’s energy policy, everyone will pay.
A GOP that understands that being pro-energy, pro-jobs, and pro-prosperity could win the Senate and the White House in 2016, riding a wave of dissatisfaction over energy and health policies. Democrats aren’t deaf or blind, and they will start peeling away from the President and the Baptists (environmentalists) and Bootleggers (renewable energy companies) who run his faction of their party.
Repeal of bad energy policy has already started in states with Republican governors. Those governors are the ones to watch, support, and root for in 2016.
Read the whole thing.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article titled “Gold Fades From Investment Picture.” It cited a sale of 12,000 ounces of gold by the Russian central bank. That may sound like a lot, but let’s put it in perspective. 12,000 ounces is less than one-half (0.37) of a metric tonne—but Russia has been regularly buying about 100 tonnes every year.
In the last 4 1/2 years, it bought 477 tonnes of the metal. So the sale of less than a half tonne is certainly not disturbing. That sale followed 11 consecutive months of Russian purchases, totaling 12.722 tonnes in 2013, including 6.3 tonnes in July alone.
Central banks are still buying gold, but perhaps less of it. Through August of this year, they added 6.2 million ounces, compared to 9.6 million ounces for the same period in 2012. Significantly, the report that central banks are buying less gold does not include China’s central bank. The central banks of Canada, Denmark and Mexico were among the few who sold small amounts of gold so far in 2013, but at least 15 central banks bought gold, including Turkey’s, which bought 82 tonnes.
China has not disclosed its central bank gold purchases since 2009, but it is known to have been buying from, among other sources, mines within the country. These include mines owned by the Chinese as well as those owned by foreign companies who must sell to the government at market prices. China is the top gold producing nation in the world. It is also the top consuming nation as the public as well as the central bank are avid buyers. The government encourages people to buy gold as part of its goal to “store wealth among the people” and makes it easy for them to do so. They can buy it at any bank or at gold stores throughout the country. These look like jewelry stores, but they exist to sell gold. The government even runs TV ads encouraging people to buy gold.
Vast amounts of gold enter China, mainly from Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region that operates under different rules from the rest of China, and is the most significant supplier of the coins and bars the public buys.
This chart illustrates four important things: (1) the steady upward trend in Shanghai gold deliveries throughout the period and the surge in 2013, (2) Shanghai’s decline in the last month is tiny compared not only to the previous month but to many larger declines throughout the chart which did not reverse the long uptrend, (3) the short vertical black lines accompanying each red line on the chart show that gold deliveries on New York’s Comex are very minor compared to Shanghai’s and, moreover, that Comex’s decline last month was several-fold larger than occurred on the Shanghai exchange, and (4) that Shanghai’s physical delivery is almost equal to the gold production of the entire world. This year the SGE is on track to deliver 2125 tons of gold this year, 87 % more than in 2012.
Western media and other information sources concentrate on what is happening in U.S. markets and seldom enlighten Americans about what is happening in Shanghai, Hong Kong and other Asian markets, which in this case tell a vastly different story. After the $200 drop in the gold price in April, Americans were told of the drop in the gold price and mass selling of gold ETFs and gold mining shares in the U.S., but few were made aware of the upsurge in physical gold buying in Asia. For example, “buyers outnumbered sellers by a huge margin.” according to Reuters. “At Ginza Tanaka, the headquarters shop of Tanaka Holdings, gold buyers waited for as long as three hours for a chance to complete a transaction.”
Bullion traders reported trading volumes doubled and the buy/sell ratio was 95 to 1. Premiums for physical delivery in Shanghai jumped to an unheard of $34.82 per ounce. Japanese individual investors doubled gold purchases on April 17 at Tokuriki Honten, the country’s second-largest retailer of the precious metal. In Australia, “the volume of business… is way in excess of double what we did last week,… there’s been people running through the gate,” said Nigel Moffatt, treasurer of Australia’s Perth Mint.
In Bangkok, Thailand, crowds filled the stores and eagerly waited in multiple lines to buy gold jewelry and coins. Merchants in Macau and Hong Kong reported 150 percent increase in sales in late April. Chinese gold imports from Hong Kong more than tripled since 2012, from 62.5 metric tonnes to 223.5 tonnes.
On April 26, the Chinese Gold & Silver Society in Hong Kong reported it had sold out all its inventory and placed orders in Switzerland four times larger than normal in response to demand. According to Economic Times, India imported 142.5 tonnes in April and 162 tonnes in May, compared with an average monthly rate of 86 tonnes in the first quarter 2013.
Koos Jansen [link] is one of the best sources for information on China. Here is one of his charts, which shows the phenomenal growth in Chinese gold buying:
This year an unprecedented amount of gold has been distributed in a historic transfer of wealth from the West to the East. It came mostly from the United Kingdom. As of October 10, 2013, 1137 tonnes of gold were exported so far this year from the UK with 1002 tonnes going to Switzerland, 101 tonnes to Hong Kong and 89 to Dubai. These exports came mostly from ETF sales of gold stored in the UK and from the London Bullion Market Association. Four of the largest gold refineries in the world are in Switzerland. They have been recasting some of the 400-oz gold bars into smaller, more convenient sizes and exporting them to Hong Kong, which serves as an outlet not only to China but to Taiwan, Thailand and other Asian countries.
Data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department show the phenomenal increase in Hong Kong-Switzerland gold commerce, which is a conduit for the massive transfer of wealth to the East.
After WWII when there were fears of an invasion from the Soviet Union, Germany stored much of its gold in the U.S., London, and France. In 2012 the federal audit office, the Bundesrechnungshof, told legislators that Germany’s gold in foreign storage had never been audited and ordered that this to be corrected. In October 2012 the government requested the return of all of Germany’s 1,500 tonnes of gold stored in the U.S. The Fed, according to NSNBC.me, said “that isn’t possible to do.” The Fed refused to allow the Germans to even see their gold, citing “security” and “no room for visitors”
Later a few German representatives were allowed only into an anteroom, not an actual storage area, below the New York Federal Reserve Bank, where the gold was said to be stored. They were shown 5 or 6 gold bars and told these were “representative for Germany’s holdings.” But if gold bars are not numbered and allocated, they can be shown to any number of banks as “their” gold. Apparently there later was a second visit, when the Germans were allows to “look into” one of nine storage rooms but were not allowed to enter the room or touch the gold.
Three months later, in January 2013, it was announced that the U.S. and Germany agreed the U.S. would return 300 tonnes of gold to Germany in a series of shipments that would take until 2020 to complete. The U.S. would continue to store the remaining 1,200 tonnes of Germany’s gold.
All this certainly gives the appearance the New York Fed did not actually have the gold. If the bank had it, why not give it to Germany? Why would it return only 300 tonnes? And why would that take 7 years to accomplish this? People who know more about transporting such cargo than I do say it could be done in a week if necessary; certainly several weeks or even months would be more than adequate—but 7 years?
Germany had previously repatriated 940 tons of its gold from the Bank of England without undue delay. If the New York bank did not have the gold, it would have to buy it to repay Germany, and a large purchase would push up the price, which the bank certainly did not want. The needed gold would have to be bought in small amounts over an extended time. Alternatively, and more likely, the bank may have the gold, but it may have been leased, hypothecated or encumbered in some manner so that it could not be transferred to Germany. These possibilities, too, would require additional time to unwind.
Now let’s examine the big drop in the gold price in April. It began on April 12 when 400 tons of gold were offered for sale immediately on the opening of the market. Such a large sale on the opening was obviously an intent to panic the market, which happened. If an investor had a large amount of gold to sell, you would expect he’d want the best possible price. Instead of selling the full amount immediately, he would have split it into several smaller orders fed in throughout the trading day, or perhaps several days, in order to minimize the downward impact on the price. Also, many traders take their clues from what happens on the open before they place their own orders. The huge sale of 400 tons on the open immediately set a downward tone for the market. And as prices plummeted, stop-loss orders were hit, adding more selling pressure and further depressing prices.
The sale of 400 tons was so large it almost certainly came from a central bank. The Fed was an obvious choice. Of course, the Fed would not place such an order itself; it would be done through one of the Fed’s bullion banks (those “too big to fail”) such as Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan. A large drop in the gold price would present an opportunity to acquire gold at bargain prices and help the Fed out of the bind it had created for itself in the shortages in German and other central bank accounts. Of course, it would also create a profit opportunity for the bullion banks themselves.
Most Americans find it incredulous that the Fed would be involved in manipulations that left it unable to honor its custodial agreement with Germany. But the European Central Bank website states, regarding statistical treatment of Eurosystem’s International Reserves: “reversible transactions in gold do not have any effect on the level of monetary gold regardless of the type of transaction (i.e. gold swaps, repos, deposits or loans), in line with the recommendations contained in the IMF guidelines.”6 (Emphasis theirs). Thus central banks are permitted to carry physical gold on their balance sheet even if they’ve swapped it or lent it out entirely.
It is also significant that back in 1999 a study by the International Monetary Fund found that central banks of 80 nations were lending out their gold reserves. The loans amounted to 15 percent of their gold. The central banks were operating as fractional reserve banks.
In May 2013 a research assistant for Stansberry & Associates visited the Federal Reserve’s gold vault in downtown Manhattan. He was surprised how tiny it was, only about the size of a locker room at his high school. From his estimated size of the vault, he calculated it could hold 615,000 bars of gold. He was told there were 533,000 bars there—but the vault was no more than half full, at best. He calculated a discrepancy of 106 million ounces, equal to $169 billion.
In 1998 Fed chairman Alan Greenspan testified at a House Banking Committee, “Central banks stand ready to lease gold in increasing quantities, should the price of gold rise.” In other words, if gold prices go up, the Fed would make sure they come back down. Why? Apparently because of fear a rising gold price would weaken the dollar’s exchange rate and the Fed’s control of interest rates, but it would also discourage people from buying gold as an investment. In 2013, gold prices were much higher than in 1998, giving the Fed a stronger reason for knocking down the gold price.
Solid gold serves as a basis for the “paper gold” of futures contracts and creates a multiplier effect in the process. Here’s how it works. Big bullion banks borrow gold from central banks and then bring the leased gold to market. They sell the same gold to multiple parties and use the cash to buy something (e.g. bonds) and use a portion of the proceeds to hedge their future exposure through futures contracts.
Leased gold must eventually be returned to the central banks because the leases have time limits. The time limit is the window of opportunity for the buyer of the lease, but it is also a window of risk that the gold price may rise and eventually force the bullion bank to buy at a loss in order to be able to return the leased gold to the central bank. The solution is to go into the futures market and buy for delivery of gold at a specific suitable price on a specific date in the future. Then the bullion bank is assured of a future profit and doesn’t care whether the price goes up or down in the meantime.
New York’s Comex is the leader in gold futures contracts, accounting for 82 percent of the world trade in them. But the overwhelming majority of these do not involve any physical exchange of the metal; they are simply paper trades—or now, digital ones—because most positions are closed out before the delivery date. A buyer will almost always sell his contract before delivery is due, and a short seller will do just the opposite. Neither trader will see the gold, and the Comex will have exactly the same amount of gold in storage as before those traders participated. Physical delivery is a very small part of Comex business. The Comex warehouses gold to back its contracts and offer a delivery option, though some concerns have been raised about its adequacy of the metal in the event of a large increase in delivery requests.
The volume of physical deliveries from the London Bullion Market is nine times larger than that of the Comex. The LBM is the center for a very large majority of the leasing operations I have just described. Many members of the Comex exchange are also members of the LBM.
Decades of excessive U.S. government spending—which has accelerated under President Obama—has created doubts about the future of the dollar. In his first term of office, he added as much to the national debt as all the presidents from George Washington through George W. Bush combined. In the fifteen months following collapse of the housing/mortgage bubble in 2008, the Fed created more money than in all the years combined since 1913 when it was founded.
Because the dollar is the reserve currency of the world’s monetary system and 85 percent of foreign exchange transactions are denominated in dollars, distrust has grown worldwide about not only the dollar but the international monetary system itself. The uncertainty about how all this will end—which must happen—has led people to turn increasingly to possession of physical gold. ETFs, gold mining stocks, mutual funds, and commercial custodial accounts of gold all depend on a counterparty, which may fail in a time of turmoil.
Distrust will continue to grow as it becomes increasingly evident that the dollar’s situation is hopeless, that government policies are not working as promised, that one must find a refuge from the dollar—and that gold is the best option. Here are some facts to consider, which point to further distrust—and ultimate demise—of the dollar:
(1) the federal debt, now at $17 trillion, is greater than everything being produced in the country. The gross national product (GDP) of the U.S. was $15.89 trillion in 2012 ($15.97 trillion in Q3 estimate for 2013).
(2) The $17 trillion debt does not include future costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which run $55 trillion, bringing the total to $72 trillion. Government Medicare and Medicaid costs, even without ObamaCare, will rise 5 times faster than Social Security costs in the future. Even more with ObamaCare.
(3) Total net household wealth in the U.S. (including real estate, durable goods, deposits, pensions, mutual funds, corporate equities and “other”) is $74.82 trillion. Thus what the U.S. government owes roughly equals everything in the country owned by everyone.
(4)The GDP of the entire world is estimated at $72 trillion. Thus the U.S. with 4 and 1/2 percent of the world’s population owes roughly what the entire world (including the U.S.) produces.
(5) Several economists project far greater future federal government costs. For example, Laurence Kotlikoff, a Professor of Economics at Boston University, a Fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, and a member of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, puts the cost of the federal government’s unfunded obligations at $202 trillion, almost 3 times the GDP of the entire world.
The economy in the U.S. added an average of only 143,000 jobs monthly in the third quarter of 2013, not enough to equal population growth. That’s down from 182,000 in the second quarter and 207,000 in the first quarter. Unemployment remains stubbornly above 7 percent. The labor force participation rate, which is the number employed plus those looking for work, has fallen since Obama became president in January 2009. The rate then was 65.7%.
By the end of Sept. 2013, it had fallen to 63.2%, as the number of Americans not participating in the labor force increased by more than 11 million people. Massive government spending and interventionism by the administration has failed to stimulate economic growth. That requires free markets and sound money.
The situation in Europe is also discouraging. Despite bailouts of Greece and several other countries and massive loans totaling a trillion euros by the European Central Bank to 521(!) banks in December 2011 and to 800(!) banks in February 2012, the promised results have not occurred.
The European Union on November 5, 2013, downgraded its expectations for euro-zone growth next year and said the unemployment rate will probably stay near record high levels through 2015. France received two extra years to bring its deficit under 3% of GDP as required by EU rules. Spain is forecast to miss its budget target by a wide margin. The latest government plan, negotiated with the EU, called for a deficit cut to 4.1% of GDP, but the European Commission now forecasts the Spanish deficit at 6.6% in 2015.
Spain, Portugal and Greece could be left with unemployment rates above 15% for years. The international inspectors say Greece must take further measures to cover a projected failure to meet its target for next year and will require additional aid in mid-2014, when the current aid package expires. But Greece has refused any further across-the-board budget cuts or tax increases. So what will happen?
The grand worldwide experiment with fiat money has failed. It will come to an end. The world has never experienced such a lengthy period as we have now seen without a money backed by precious metal. That will change. If the U.S. and the rest of the Western world do not return to gold-backed money, some other country will. Think China. A gold-backed Chinese currency would attract wide support in Asia and perhaps from countries like Russia and Germany.
One way or another, the world will return to gold because it is necessary for a sound monetary system, which, in turn, is necessary for economic growth and the exercise of individual rights. That is what freedom means and what it requires.
Gold is money. Everything else is credit. — John Pierpont Morgan.
[First published at American Liberty.]
I was thinking of Susan and her book again this weekend. Yep, that would be Professor Susan Crawford of Benjamin Cardozo School of Law and her book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.
I was thinking of Susan because, in catching up on my stack of weekend reading, I came across this recent Wall Street Journal article, “Cutting the Cable Cord and Getting ‘Phone TV’”[subscription required]. I’ll get back to the article shortly, but first a word about Captive Audience.
As you may know, the whole premise of Professor Crawford’s book is that Comcast especially, but other cable operators as well, are monopolies and that, therefore, they should be operated as public utilities. Just like the electric utilities – rate regulation, non-discrimination obligations, and all.
I have discussed Professor Crawford’s book in more detail in earlier pieces, including this one,“Captive Audience’s Captive Thinking.” Please read the entire piece if you haven’t done so. But, for my purpose here, I’ll just reproduce the way I began the essay:
“Captive Audience” is flawed because Professor Crawford relies on an incorrect – indeed, a hypothesized - view of the communications and information services marketplace to construct the case for monopoly power. And then she offers anachronistic, legacy regulatory measures to remedy the supposed ills that exist in her hypothesized market. In my view, the book more appropriately might have been titled, “Captive Thinking: Viewing Today’s Telecom Industry Through An Analog-Era Lens.”
The book’s central thesis is unmistakably clear: Comcast possesses monopoly power with respect both to the provision of broadband services and the provision of video programming. While less clear, at times it appears Professor Crawford may be making the same monopolistic power claim with regard to Time Warner Cable and other cable operators.
While it doesn’t come until the very end of the book, the proposed remedy for this supposed monopolistic power is unmistakably clear as well: “America needs to move to a utility model.”
I am confident that if you read, or event skim, Professor Crawford’s book, you will see that I have fairly captured the essence of her views. Indeed, on the very first page, she calls Comcast “a monopoly provider of wired high-speed Internet access” and then on page 2 asserts that, as a result of its merger with NBCU, Comcast “would probably make content too expensive for any potential data distributor.” By page 53, Professor Crawford has concluded, “cable’s advantages eventually became unbeatable.”
End of story!
Except of course, it is not the end of the story – because Professor Crawford fails to appreciate the ongoing dynamism of today’s digital age communications marketplace, and the capacity of this marketplace to foster competition and consumer choice. Simply put, Professor Crawford’shypothesized view of her hypothesized market, dominated by Comcast and other cable operators, has turned out to be wrong, certainly at least for now and for the foreseeable future.
Recall that Professor Crawford suggests the Comcast – NBCU merger “would probably make content too expensive for any potential competing data distributor.” Now back to the WSJ article,“Cutting the Cable Cord and Getting ‘Phone TV,’” which begins: “The way things are going ‘cable TV’ may have to be replaced by ‘phone TV.’” It contains lots of figures indicating the extent to which AT&T and Verizon are taking market share away from cable operators against whom they compete. For example, the article reports that, according to recent third quarter results, “[t]he top two cable providers, Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable, Inc., shed 435,000 video customers in the quarter, while AT&T and Verizon added 400,000.”
According to analyst Craig Moffett, “[t]he third quarter results are a reminder that the biggest threat facing the cable industry is competition from phone companies….”
The article reports that cable executives and analysts contend Verizon and AT&T have largely won market share using discounted pricing and promotional packages. This sounds like marketplace competition to me, and competition that is benefiting consumers.
And AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is quoted to this effect: “It’s going to be a dogfight between us and cable for the next 20 years. They will invest, and they will step up. We will invest. It will go back and forth.” This dogfight sounds like marketplace competition to me – indeed, vigorous competition – and competition that is benefiting consumers.
And by the way, in this competitive environment, “they will invest” and “we will invest” are not empty words, but proven reality. According to a recent study by the Progressive Policy Institute, AT&T, Verizon Communications, CenturyLink, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable all ranked in the top twenty of non-financial companies making capital investments in the U.S over the past year. All this investment is the result of marketplace competition, and it is benefiting not only consumers but the nation’s economy as well.
Let me be perfectly clear. I don’t have a dog in this competitive dogfight. And unlike Professor Crawford, I don’t pretend I can predict ultimate winners and losers among the competitors in a dynamic marketplace, or know how the market structure will evolve in the years to come. In any event, it’s not my business to predict winners or losers.
But what I do know is this: With the ongoing technological changes and evolving business models and experimentation, the marketplace in which Comcast and other cable providers presently operate is competitive. Of course, by definition, the same is true for the cable operators’ competitors, AT&T, Verizon, and all the other broadband providers, including the various wireless and satellite operators.
So, I think it is seriously wrong for Professor Crawford to brand Comcast and other cable operators “monopolies.” And it would be a mistake of huge proportions to heed her call to regulate broadband companies as utilities, just like electric power companies, which by and large continue to retain dominant market power. Imposing a utility-like regulatory straight jacket on broadband providers, say, to prohibit experimentation with various usage-based billing plans tailored to the needs of different customers’ preferences, is a sure-fire recipe for stifling innovation that benefits consumers and investment that benefits the nation’s economy.
I wish I could get Susan to agree that it’s no time to let captive thinking premised on a hypothesized market trump the competitive realities of the broadband marketplace. If such thinking ever were to lead to regulating broadband providers as public utilities, rest assured that consumers would be the real losers.
[Originally published on the FSF Blog]
With the ongoing Obamacare disaster, Democrats are looking to pivot to yet another issue they hope will be better received — a federal preschool initiative. They might think this is smart politics, but no amount of politicians waving smiling pictures of underprivileged tots can hide the waste of money and human wreckage created by poorly designed federal preschool programs.
As usual, they’ve sent out a New York Times writer to lay some preliminary groundwork. In this weekend’s edition, Nicholas Kristof extols the supposed glories of Oklahoma’s preschool entitlement, which essentially consists of a handful of smiling children, another handful of smiling adults whose livelihoods depend on this program, and that Republicans in this red state have, shockingly, expanded evidence-poor entitlements (he must not hang around Republicans often, or read much political history).
He fails to mention a number of pertinent facts, including the lack of evidence most children need preschool, the lack of evidence the federal government is well-suited to administer such a program, the lack of money this nation has for the foreseeable future, and the lack of logic he and most preschool advocates use when pushing their cracked ideas.The Vocabulary Gap
One central justification for government interventions with very young children is one Kristof cites: “One well-known study found that a child of professionals hears 30 million more words by the age of four than a child on welfare. So the idea is that even the poorest child in Oklahoma should have access to the kind of nurturing that is routine in middle-class homes. That way, impoverished children don’t begin elementary school far behind the starting line—and then give up.”
If Kristof had read the article he linked to concerning that study, however, he would have discovered that he portrays it inaccurately. In fact, the several studies on this topic find that poorer children are behind in their vocabulary as early as age three, not age four, and that this gap becomes apparent as early as 18 months. Vocabulary is crucial to education and life. It is the foundation of all further learning, as E.D. Hirsch has pointed out, because knowing words indicates you know the things they describe, meaning vocabulary indicates knowledge acquisition. People with better vocabularies have better marriages, higher incomes, and better grades. And vocabulary is like Velcro: The more you have, the more you can acquire more easily.
So there’s no disputing that the vocabulary gap is a big problem for poor children, and none at all for middle-class children. The logic problem for preschool proponents is that they seek to remedy this far too late—at age four, typically and in Oklahoma’s program, a full year after the 30-million word gap has been established, and more than two years after the gap has begun. Curious how Kristof’s deceptive location of the word gap at age four coincides with when government preschool usually begins, andwhen President Obama plans for his new entitlement expansion to begin. Actually treating this problem when it starts, which is when treatment would be most effective, requires government programs that begin around age one. Otherwise, typical preschool programs essentially repeat the problem proponents also keep proclaiming to us, which is that children enter school “not ready to learn.” Under the Democrats’ proposal, children will still enter preschool not ready to learn.
Democrats’ real problem is that it’s easy to promote preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, because that’s when the middle-class homes who vote typically want preschool. The public is less likely to endorse essentially government orphanages for children from poor homes starting at age one. In short, what poor kids probably need to overcome this gap is not something most voters would buy in this high-regulation, low-wage economy.
Voters are also more likely to buy preschool if it looks less like welfare and more like an entitlement. So while there’s no real justification for giving middle-class kids preschool on the taxpayer’s dime, there is a political justification: He who gives away the most things to the most people wins. No wonder, again, that President Obama’s proposal would not target the children who most need preschool, which are not even all children whose family incomes happen to be below X amount (what an insulting assertion, by the way), but would open its doors to the middle class, or families whose incomes are 200 percent above the federal poverty level. That’s 40 percent of families in the country, whose incomes range up to $47,100 for a family of four (our family of five can live quite well within that amount out here in flyover country, by the
Treating children too late may be one reason government preschool is typically ineffective. In fact, the federal government has a horrific record on preschool. Its own gold-standard evaluations of the federal Head Start program show it offers no benefits to children and society beyond first grade, and even fosters some negative effects such as lower math skills and more emotional problems. This despite spending approximately $8 billion per year totaling more than $160 billion since it began in 1965 with President Johnson’s destructive Great Society. The situation is similar in Oklahoma, which seems to have better early gains than Head Start but the jury is out on whether any long-term gains will materialize. Typically, they haven’t. And the criteria should not be “any gains at all” but “gains significant enough to warrant massive tax spending and diversions of children from home.”
Oklahoma’s program does not live up to its inflated PR in other ways. For one, it uses a rating system for preschools (and was the first state to do so, in fact) that recent research has shown is utterly useless—in other words, the rating system’s labels have nothing to do with reality. Its metrics could rate a good preschool poorly and rate a bad preschool well. It’s okay, though, because 26 states use the same rating system, thanks largely to Oklahoma’s lead. Just goes to show you, as Kristof says, that states should continue to follow Oklahoma’s lead on preschool!
This track record is utterly atrocious. Who in his right mind would pay $180 billion so thousands of children could read slightly better for two years and have more emotional problems and worse math skills? Yet Obama and Co. continue to insist federal preschool will benefit children despite all the evidence it has been a massive waste of tax dollars our nation has never been able to afford. Kristof claims “mountains of research suggests [sic] that early childhood initiatives are the best way to chip away at inequality and reduce the toll of crime, drugs and educational failure.” But as social scientist Charles Murray points out, these “mountains of research” that appear to support government preschool are built upon three boutique programs from the 1960s and 70s that have never been replicated at scale (and worked with children younger than 4, which the president doesn’t propose to do). The evidence simply isn’t there, and until it is, not just Republicans but every single American should look askance at demands we indebt our children further to create programs that prostitute their images.The Root Problem
The most curious thing about the preschool debate is that everyone acts as if dazed children just pop out of the prairie at age four. We’re told to attribute the supposed increase in children needing preschool to poverty, but no one discusses why poverty necessarily means fewer children who know their colors. Even with the recent recession, Americans are the richest group of people the world has ever known. Our poor live lives 18th-century kings could not have dreamed of, and of which the world’s poor today still cannot fathom. In poorer days, when we were still richer than everyone else, global stars and scholars like Thomas Sowell, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Clarence Thomas rose from poverty and single-mother homes. So the mere fact of having less money than other people, or even life hardship, does not guarantee that a child needs government therapy.
Let me suggest another reason for the correlation between poverty and language loss in this country: fractured families. In the United States, as Brookings Institution research has shown, poverty is essentially the result of bad life decisions, not lack of opportunity. The study found that Americans have a 2 percent chance of living in poverty if they do just three simple things: finish high school (not college), work full time, and marry before bearing children.
Now, contrary to the evidence on preschool, the evidence on how self-destroyed families hurt children is so strong that scholars on the left and right cannot read the social science as saying anything other than that divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing deeply damages children. It does so in many ways—increasing suicide attempts, aggression, and so forth—but those pertinent here are that fatherlessness makes children poor in money and mind. In that sense, government preschool is like treating cancer with a Band-Aid.
Observe that, between 1970 and 2010, nonmarital birth rates have almost tripled and marriage rates have declined between 75 and 30 percent (depending on age cohort). Here we have an obvious root to the sudden and shocking problem that so many children cannot give their first and last names or follow two-step directions by kindergarten (two of the easy-peasy “kindergarten readiness” skills apparently thousands of children are failing). From personal observations, as well as the social science, we know that these children are not looking at books because they’re looking at televisions and computers all day while their mothers text furiously; these children are not singing nursery rhymes because their mothers and their live-in boyfriends are busy canoodling, doing drugs, or fighting; and these children are not having conversations with their parents because their parents are almost incapable of using English.
Yet in the preschool debate no one discusses how to reduce the need for preschool by recreating the societal demand that fathers marry the mothers of their children, and that women refuse sex until they’ve guaranteed the children created by that decision have a real chance at a happy life. Kristof himself comes so close, by giving this example: “Take two girls, ages 3 and 4, I met here in one Tulsa school. Their great-grandmother had her first child at 13. The grandmother had her first at 15. The mom had her first by 13, born with drugs in his system, and she now has four children by three fathers.” A mother who has four children with three fathers and uses drugs while pregnant deserves to have her children removed. Again, from personal experience, why would such a young lady not wish her children removed (by abortion or social workers) so she can move to the next boyfriend more conveniently? Because she gets government benefits from having them. Government has taken the place of a husband, family, and community. Government won’t tell her to clean up her act for the sake of her kids. It won’t volunteer to care for her children so she can get a job. Families will. But she doesn’t need a family. She has government. And the more government she has, the less family, although that’s just what destitute children need most.Our Dark Future
Any discussion of preschool must be held in its context, which means demanding an end for government programs enabling those who bear children out of wedlock and discriminating against those who marry. Conservatives should respond with a holistic approach that reduces the need for government intervention in the future, rather than accepting and thus encouraging parent and community abdication. This means talking about why so many children get to age five having never heard the ABCs.
If there is to be government preschool, it should be targeted to children whose parents will not take advantage of the free libraries dotting this nation that provide books, play activities, and good advice for ending the literacy gap with just 20 minutes of reading a day. It should also not be run through the federal government using a Medicaid-like dollar-matching scheme, since that gives impetus for states to spend more, blindly, and the federal government has proven itself an incompetent administrator of preschool programs. It should be targeted to very young children who need extra help, not introduced as yet another politically advantageous entitlement that accelerates bankruptcy for the brokest nation in history.
Therein lies the last problem with new government spending on poorly-grounded social programs: Our children and grandchildren will spend their lives paying off the debt we and our parents have already incurred. They are essentially tax slaves at this point. It is right to condemn those whose episodes of drama-ridden lust create children whose life prospects are dark. But to only do so without condemning ourselves would be self-righteous misdirection. We, too, are baby abandoners and deadbeat fathers. We have all stolen our children’s futures to enjoy our prodigal lives now. This is no time to continue using our children as slogans and placards for political gain while fiscally and socially obliterating their futures.
[Originally published in The Federalist]
At the end of this post is the testimony I gave at Friday’s “Public Listening Session” with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago on President Obama’s ruinous “Climate Action Plan.” It differs slightly from what I planned to say, and Jim Lakely posted on this blog last week. First, though, a little bit of color about the experience.
The program opened with statements by EPA public disinformation officers, who made an assortment of claims about how “dangerous” climate change is — and not just in our future. It is happening “right now,” they said, and is affecting everything from hurricanes to tornadoes to droughts to rising seas and wildfires. The agency then opened the program to speakers, with each of us limited to three minutes.
I was the very first speaker and gave a brief overview — covering the shaky grounds for EPA’s claims — as well as the widespread adverse impacts that the agency’s climate change regulations will have on jobs, environmental quality, and human health, welfare, living standards and life spans.
I was followed by a half dozen citizens — including several Indiana coal miners who had driven all the way to Chicago and outlined how EPA’s proposed rules would put them out of work and devastate their families and communities.
Then, inevitably, the alarmists began presenting their remarks.
The first alarmist ignored the purpose of the hearing — carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fueled power plants — and made the ridiculous claim that “air pollution” has now been “linked to” cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s! (He even had a university study, probably funded by EPA, supporting his claim.) So pollution is going down, yet Alzheimer’s and other cognitive problems are supposedly going up — the reason being (somehow) America’s “terrible” and “worsening” air quality.
The absurd claim simply underscores the abysmal state of environmentalist “thinking,” pseudo-science and propaganda today, as well as EPA’s determination to ram these rules through — regardless of what the science says, overall public support, or the severe impacts the regulations themselves will have on American citizens.
It’s clear that EPA’s mind is absolutely made up on this issue, and these “listening” sessions are just for show. They are being held almost entirely in carefully selected urban areas — where EPA can be assured of plentiful upper class “environmentalist” speakers who will happily applaud the new rules, but will not be directly affected by these regulations … until, of course, their electricity bills start to “skyrocket,” as President Obama promised they would, and their power starts going into regular/recurrent brownouts and blackouts. But these urban elites won’t be hammered immediately the way coal workers, factory workers, small business owners and employees, and families and communities will be.
EPA’s actions and proposed rules are despicable and absurd. But they will not be stopped unless the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts finally step in and say “enough!”
My name is Paul Driessen. I’m here in Chicago representing the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow … and because my son is getting married just blocks from here tomorrow. His future, my daughter’s, and the future of all Americans will depend in large part on government energy policies. Thank you for this opportunity to comment.
EPA says carbon dioxide from America’s coal-fired power plants is causing dangerous climate change. It says computer models support these claims.
But the models are useless. Their predictions have been totally wrong – and none of EPA’s claims about hurricanes, tornadoes, rising seas, wildfires and other alleged dangers have been accurate.
Climate change has been “real” since Earth began. The Dust Bowl, Little Ice Age, hurricanes, and droughts that destroyed the Anasazi and Mayan cultures were all terrible. But people adapted and coped and survived – and today’s technologies allow us to deal much better with future weather events and climate changes.
What we cannot cope with so easily are government regulations that deliberately shut down reliable, affordable coal-based electricity – and after that, natural gas power generation. These rules will drive up energy prices and make it very hard for companies to stay in business or avoid layoffs.
The rules will kill jobs, shut down factories, companies and industries – and devastate families and communities that depend on coal mining, factory jobs and affordable energy. And yet EPA isn’t even holding any hearings in the states and areas that are most dependent on coal mining and coal-generated power. That’s not right.
EPA’s proposed rules will also force greater dependency on wind turbines, which kill millions of threatened and endangered birds and bats every year. That is unacceptable and unsustainable.
But the worst impacts from EPA’s rules will be on the health and welfare of Americans. When people are unemployed, or holding two or more lower paying part-time jobs, the extra time, stress and financial worries have huge impacts on their health and well-being. Their nutrition suffers.
They battle with sleep deprivation … longer commuting times … higher incidences of depression … more prevalent alcohol, drug, spouse and child abuse … higher suicide rates … more heart attacks and strokes … and lower life expectancies.
This means every life that EPA claims its rules will improve – by supposedly preventing climate change – will be made worse by EPA’s own rules. Every life that EPA says will be saved by its costly, job-killing CO2 regulations will be offset by lives shortened or lost by those rules.
EPA doesn’t even mention any of this – much less conduct any cost-benefit studies … or calculate how many lives will be shortened or lost because of its proposed rules.
EPA needs to do that work, before it takes one more step toward implementing these rules. Thank you.
Most of the chatter about the Obamacare exchanges has been about the federal exchanges, but they’re not the only ones having problems. We have John McClaughry- Vice President of the Ethan Allen Institute- here to talk about Vermont’s health care exchange troubles.
Vermont’s exchange system was so bad that the governor had to pull the safety valve- a section of the health care bill designed to protect the insured- to allow the currently insured Vermont residents to keep their present health insurance for three more months.
Up until a few days ago, the governor stuck to his statements that the exchanges would work. McClaughry predicts that small business will have continuing problems and that the extension will have to last for more than three months.
Listen to the podcast in the player above.
[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the United Nations in 1988 and has been trying very hard to demonstrate the threat of a dangerous human influence on climate due to the emission of greenhouse gases. This is in line with their Charter, which directs the IPCC to assemble reports in support of the Global Climate Treaty – the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) of Rio de Janeiro.
It is interesting that IPCC “evidence” was based on peer-reviewed publications - but (reluctantly) abandoned only after protracted critiques from outside scientists. E-mails among members of the IPCC team, revealed in the 2009 ‘Climategate’ leak, describe their strenuous efforts to silence such critiques, often using unethical methods.
I will show here that the first three IPCC assessment reports contain erroneous scientific arguments, which have never been retracted or formally corrected, but at least have now been abandoned by the IPCC — while the last two reports, AR4 and AR5, use an argument that seems to be circular and does not support their conclusion. Australian Prof. “Bob” Carter, marine geologist and paleo-climatologist, refers to IPCC as using “hocus-pocus” science. He is a co-author of the latest (2013) NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) report “Climate Change Reconsidered-II“. We also co-authored a critique of the 2013 IPCC-AR5 Summary.
1. IPCC-AR1 (1990)
This first report of the IPCC bases its entire claim for AGW on the fact that both CO2 and surface temperatures increased during the 20th century – although not in lock-step. They assign the major warming of 1910 to 1940 to a human influence — based on a peer-reviewed paper by BD Santer and TML Wigley, which uses a very strange statistical argument. But the basis of their statistics has been critiqued (by Tsonis and Swanson) — and I have demonstrated empirically elsewhere that their conclusion does not hold.
While this faulty paper has never been retracted, it is now no longer quoted as evidence by the IPCC — nor accepted by the overwhelming majority of IPCC scientists: Most if not all warming of the early 20th century is due to natural, not human causes.
2. IPCC AR2 (1996)
This report devotes a whole chapter, #8, to “Attribution and Detection.” Its main feature is what one might call the “invention” of the “Hotspot,” i.e. an enhanced warming trend in the tropical troposphere — never actually observed.
Unfortunately, the “evidence,” as presented by BD Santer, was published only after the IPCC report itself appeared; it contains two fundamental errors. The first error was to argue that the Hotspot is a “fingerprint” of human influence — and specifically, related to an increase in greenhouse gases. This is not true. The Hotspot, according to all model calculations, is simply an atmospheric amplification of a surface trend, a consequence of the physics of the tropical atmosphere.[Technically speaking, it is caused by increased convective activity whereby cumulus clouds carry latent heat from the surface of the tropical ocean into the upper troposphere. In other words, the Hotspot is not human-caused, but arises from a "moist-adiabatic lapse rate" of the atmosphere. This effect is discussed in most meteorological textbooks and is widely accepted.]
How then did AR2 conclude that a Hotspot exists observationally? This is the second issue: The IPCC selected a short interval in the atmospheric temperature record that showed an increase — while the general trend was one of cooling. In other words, they cherry-picked their data to invent a Hotspot — as pointed out in a subsequent publication by PJ Michaels and PC Knappenberger [see graph below]
The matter of the existence of a Hotspot in the actual tropical troposphere has been the topic of lively debate ever since. On the one hand, DH Douglass, JR Christy, BD Pearson and SF Singer, demonstrated absence of a Hotspot empirically while Santer (and 17[!] IPCC coauthors), publishing in the same journal, argued the opposite. This issue now seems to have been finally settled, as discussed by Singer in two papers in Energy & Environment [2011 and 2013].
It is worth noting that a US government report [CCSP-SAP-1.1 (2006)] showed absence of a Hotspot in the tropics (Chapter 5, BD Santer, lead author). But the report’s Executive Summary managed to obfuscate this result by referring to global atmosphere rather than tropical.
It is also worth noting that while the IPCC-AR2 used the Hotspot invention to argue that the “balance of evidence suggest a human influence,” later IPCC reports no longer use the Hotspot argument.
Nevertheless, one consequence of this unfortunate phrase in AR2 has been the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. Even though Kyoto expired in 2012, it has managed to waste hundreds of billions of dollars so far — and continues to distort energy policies with uneconomic schemes in most industrialized nations.
3. IPCC AR3 (2001)
AR3 attributes global warming to human influences based on the “Hockey-Stick” graph, using published papers by Michael Mann, derived from his analysis of multi-proxy data. The hockeystick graph [bottom graph below] claims that the 20th century showed unusually rapid warming — and thus suggests a strong human influence. The graph also does away with the well-established Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, which were shown in earlier IPCC reports [see top graph below].
It was soon found that the Hockeystick graph was in error and did not deserve continued reliance. Canadian statisticians Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demonstrated errors in Mann’s statistical analysis and in the use of certain tree-ring data for calibration. In fact, they showed that Mann’s algorithm would generate a Hockeystick graph — even if the input data was pure noise. [I served as a reviewer for M&M's initial paper in Energy & Environment 2003.]
It is worth noting that the IPCC no longer uses the Hockeystick to support human-caused warming, even though AR3 still claims to be at least 66% certain that greenhouse-gas emissions are responsible for 20th century warming.
4. IPCC-AR4 (2007) and AR5 (2013)
Both reports use essentially the same faulty argument in their attempt to support their conclusion of human-caused global warming. Their first step is to construct a model that tries to match the reported 20th-century surface warming. This is not very difficult; it is essentially a ‘curve-fitting’ exercise: By selecting the right level of climate sensitivity and the right amount of aerosol forcing, they can match the reported temperature rise of the final decades of the 20th century, but not the initial decades — as becomes evident from a detailed graph in their Attribution chapter. This lack of agreement is due to the fact that their models ignore major forcings — both from variations of solar activity and from changes in ocean circulation.
They then use the following trick. They re-plot their model graph, but without an increase in greenhouse gases; this absence of forcing now generates a gap between the reported warming and unforced model. Then they turn around and argue that this gap must be due to an increase in greenhouse gases. It appears to me that this argument may be circular. Even if the reported late-20th-century surface warming really exists (it is absent from the satellite and radiosonde records), the IPCC argument is not convincing.
It is ironic, however, that IPCC claims increasing certainty (at 90% in AR4 and at least 95% in AR5) for an attribution to human causes, which appears to be contrived. Additionally, while AR4 calculates a Climate Sensitivity (for a doubling of CO2) of 2.0 – 4.5 degC, AR5 expands the uncertainty interval to 1.5 – 4.5 degC. So much for the claim of increased certainty in the IPCC-AR5 Summary.
Yet, while claiming increased certainty about manmade global warming, both reports essentially ignore the absence of any surface warming trend since about 1998. Of course, they also ignore absence of any significant warming in the troposphere, ocean record, and proxy data during the crucial preceding (1979-1997) interval.
In spite of much effort, the IPCC has never succeeded in demonstrating that climate change is significantly affected by human activities — and in particular, by the emission of greenhouse gases. Over the last 25 years, their supporting arguments have shifted drastically — and are shown to be worthless. It appears more than likely that climate change is controlled by variations in solar magnetic activity and by periodic changes in ocean circulation.[Full disclosure: I have a very small dog in this fight, having demonstrated some time ago that solar-emitted magnetic fields, projected into interplanetary space by the solar wind, modulate the intensity of cosmic rays striking the Earth's atmosphere; this is no longer a contentious, hot-topic issue. The exact mechanism by which cosmic rays then influence the climate is not known in detail, but current efforts, mainly by a Danish research group, focus on changes in Earth's cloudiness.]
However, that there is no doubt about the existence of such a solar influence on climate. As shown in the graph below, cosmic-ray intensity (as measured by the radioactive carbon isotope C-14) and terrestrial climate (as measured by the oxygen isotope O-18) correlate in amazing detail over an interval of at least 3000 years (see graph below; the bottom graph is the central section, blown up to reveal detail)
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the US National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute. He co-authored the NY Times best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years. In 2007, he founded and has since chaired the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), which has released several scientific reports [See www.NIPCCreport.org]. For recent writings, see http://www.americanthinker.com/s_fred_singer/ and also Google Scholar.
The second shoe is preparing to drop to shatter the world view of so-called Progressives. Coming, global revelations will demonstrate the fraud behind the theory of man-caused, catastrophic, global warming, just like the real world has shattered the falsehoods behind Obamacare.
That is because the underlying reason for both frauds was the same: to expand government power. Enablers went along with the fraud in both cases for the same underlying reason – political correctness. In both cases, going along with the cause for the assumed public good without raising questions was considered the politically correct thing to do for all “good” people. Soon the enablers in both cases will have to pay the price for participating in and perpetuating the fraud.
This past weekend, Peggy Noonan summarized the Obamacare fraud in theWall Street Journal, writing:
“They said if you liked your insurance you could keep your insurance—but that’s not true. It was never true! They said if you liked your doctor you could keep your doctor—but that’s not true. It was never true! They said they would cover everyone who needed it, and instead people who had coverage are losing it—millions of them! They said they would make insurance less expensive—but it’s more expensive! Premium shock, deductible shock. They said don’t worry, your health information will be secure, but instead the whole setup looks like a hacker’s holiday. Bad guys are apparently already going for your private information.”
That could have been drawn precisely from my commentary in this space last week.
The fact that Obamacare was always about power and not people is perfectly illustrated by the case of California resident Edie Littlefield Sundby. Since her gall bladder cancer was discovered 7 years ago, her private insurance company, United Healthcare, has spent $1.2 million to save her life. Edie explains that the insurance company, “has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.”
But Obamacare is driving United Health Care out of business altogether in California. So Edie is one of millions who have recently received an insurance cancellation letter, effective December 31. Just go to the Covered California Obamacare Exchange, which is working just as intended Obama has said, and get your Obamacare, “progressive” Obama apologists say. But there is no insurance on the highly touted Covered California Obamacare Exchange that includes coverage for the team of doctors that have kept her alive for a period with just a 2% probability, who range from her hometown of San Diego, to Stanford University in northern California, to Houston. Even though United Healthcare did, for an affordable price, before Obamacare.
But the response from the Obama White House has not been “progressive” concern for Edie. Instead, White House operatives have disparaged her. Now that the federal government has raised spending, taxes, and regulatory burdens by trillions to take over health care, the “progressives” are not worried about Edie.
Similarly, the theory of man-caused, catastrophic, global warming is embraced not because of any “science,” (that sham is for the “useful idiots,”), but because it is a justification for a government takeover of the energy industry, with massive increases in regulation, taxes and government spending. The United Nations loves it because it inspires fantasies of the UN growing up to be a world government, with real government powers of global taxation, spending and regulation, all “to save the planet.” Scientists who go along with the cause are rewarded not only with praise for their worthy social conscience, but also with altogether billions in hard, cold cash (government and environmental grants), for their cooperation in helping to play the “useful idiots.” Moreover, many academic scientists are “progressives” themselves, and so favor sharp increases in government spending, taxes and regulation, because they are certain they know how to run your life better than you do.
That is what the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is all about. On September 27, the IPCC issued the final version of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) for its fifth comprehensive Assessment Report (AR-5) since 1992 on the supposed science of anthropogenic, catastrophic, global warming. But the IPCC has intellectual competition now. A peer group of independent, private sector scientists has organized the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Earlier in September, the NIPCC issued its own comprehensive, voluminous report on the science of climate change, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, published by the Heartland Institute.
If you are a true believer in anthropogenic, catastrophic, global warming, you don’t know what you are talking about unless you also have at least looked through the hundreds of pages of calm, dispassionate science in Climate Change Reconsidered II, which also reviews the peer-reviewed literature on climate change. Go ahead, I dare you. What are you afraid of?
Now 4 lead contributing authors of Climate Change Reconsidered II, Drs. Craig Idso, Robert Carter, S. Fred Singer, and Willie Soon, have issued a Scientific Critique of IPCC’s 2013 “Summary for Policymakers.” They find that “the new SPM reveals the IPCC has retreated from at least 11 alarmist claims promulgated in its previous reports or by scientists prominently associated with the IPCC. The SPM also contains at least 13 misleading or untrue statements, and 11 further statements that are phrased in such a way that they mislead readers or misrepresent important aspects of the science.”
For example, the authors report, “The IPCC concedes for the first time that a 15 year long period of no significant warming occurred since 1998 despite a 7% rise in carbon dioxide (CO2).” The authors explain, “The statement represents a significant revision in the IPCC thinking, because their concern about dangerous warming rests upon the assumption that temperature increases will proceed in parallel fashion with CO2 increases.” Climate Change Reconsidered II documents that the same official temperature records used by the IPCC going back over 100 years, and proxy temperature records going back deep into the geologic time scale, show that temperatures have not changed in parallel with CO2 levels.
Central to the IPCC’s argument for anthropogenic, catastrophic global warming is its dozens of global climate models and their projections of growing global temperatures over time. But the SPM now concedes that these models have failed to project the now admitted lack of warming over the last 15 years. The draft of the SPM circulated in June stated quite accurately that the “Models do not generally reproduce the observed reduction in surface warming trend over the last 10 to 15 years.” The final draft released in September covers the same by saying, “There are…differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years (e.g., 1998 to 2012).”
Nevertheless, despite this failure of the underlying climate models, the SPM states, “It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951–2010.” The prior Assessment Report issued in 2007 had said that this human contribution to global warming was only “very likely.” So as the IPCC climate models admittedly diverge from reality, the IPCC conclusion is that the human contribution to global warming (which it admits has not been happening for quite a while now) is only all the more likely.
Indeed, the models have not been validated by past recorded temperatures, and, therefore, cannot be a sound basis for costly regulation to counter global warming, as President Obama’s EPA is now pursuing. As the NIPCC’s recent report states, “We conclude the current generation of global climate models are unable to make accurate projections of climate even 10 years ahead, let alone the 100 year period that has been adopted by policy planners. The output of such models should therefore not be used to guide public policy formulation until they have been validated and shown to have predictive value.”
The SPM also concedes that the Antarctic ice cap “increased…(by) 1.2%–1.8% per decade between 1979 and 2012.” So even the UN’s IPCC now concedes that the South Pole’s ice cap has been increasing all along, rather than melting. The increase in Antarctic sea ice now totals about 1 million square kilometers. In fact, the extent of Antarctic sea ice is now the greatest evermeasured.
Arctic sea ice has historically fluctuated in regular cycles. While it did decline during the 1978 to 1998 period, that decline has now reversed, falsifying alarmist predictions that the North Pole would be free of ice by 2013. Globally, some glaciers have been melting and receding. Others have been growing and expanding. Overall, the total extent of global sea ice has not been declining at any enhanced rate since the end of the Little Ice Age around 150 years ago.
But the SPM misleads as to concerns over rising sea levels, stating, “It is very likely that there is a substantial anthropogenic contribution to the global mean sea level rise since the 1970s.” No, actually, it is not likely at all. The NIPCC authors state, “sea level rise has been occurring since long before the human era, and at rates higher than those observed in human history.” Indeed, during that human era, “sea level rise over the past several centurieshas averaged about 7 inches, and continues to rise at that rate with no evidence of acceleration,” as Larry Bell reported for Forbes on October 15.
The SPM also misleads when it states, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s many of the observed changes are unprecedented.” The NIPCC authors explain, “Though the IPCC’s favored temperature record (HadCRUT) depicts a rise of 0.4 deg. C since 1950, other temperature records show little or no warming at all in the second half of the twentieth century.” These include the US GISS land surface record, sea surface temperature records, including Hadley NMAT, atmosphere temperature records, such as Hadley radiosonde and satellite MSU, and land surface temperature proxies.
The NIPCC authors conclude in response to the SPM:
“It is likely that the HadCRUT temperature record underestimates the impact of urban heat islands [in falsely exaggerating] surface temperature records….[Moreover,] the post-1950 warming shown by the Hadley record is of about the same magnitude and rate as the known natural warming between 1910 and 1940, and is therefore not unprecedented.”
Bell added in his October 15 commentary, “In reality, the earth has been warming ever since it began thawing out from the Little Ice Age around 1850, and temperatures are still cooler than those that have prevailed about 90% of the time over the past 10,000 years.”
Among Climate Change Reconsidered II’s conclusions:
“neither the rate nor the magnitude of the reported late twentieth century surface warming (1979-2000) lay outside natural variability, nor was it in any way unusual compared to earlier episodes in Earth’s climate history. Furthermore, solar forcings of temperature change are likely more important than is currently recognized, and evidence is lacking that a 2 degree C increase in temperature (of whatever cause) would be globally harmful.”
Indeed, the only demonstrated impact of increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 so far have been positive for human life, if not all life on the planet. In particular, that includes increased agricultural output, valued at $3.2 trillion over the period 1961 to 2011, and probable slight resulting increases in global temperatures.
Richard Lindzen is Professor of Atmospheric Sciences emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There is no climate scientist in the world with a better professional pedigree than Lindzen. It was his apparent understanding of the quality of the climate science peddled by the IPCC and its cohorts that led him to write his recent article, “Science in the Public Square: Global Climate Alarmism and Historical Precedents.”
“Global climate alarmism has been costly to society, and it has the potential to be vastly more costly. It also has been damaging to science, as scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions. How can one escape from the Iron Triangle (ambiguous statements from scientists translated into alarmism by advocates and the media, with politicians responding by feeding the scientists taxpayer money) when it produces flawed science that is enormously influential and is forcing catastrophic public policy.
There are past examples. In the U.S. in the early 20th century, the eugenics movement had coopted the science of human genetics and was driving a political agenda. The movement achieved the Immigration Restriction Act of 1923, as well as forced sterilization laws in several states. The movement became discredited by Nazi atrocities, but the American consequences survived well into the 1960s.
In the Soviet Union, Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976) promoted the Lamarckian view of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. It fit with Stalin’s megalomaniacal insistence on the ability of society to remold nature….However, opposition within the Soviet Union remained strong, despite ruthless attempts to suppress dissenters….
Global warming differs from the previous two affairs. Global warming has become a religion. A surprisingly large number of people seem to have concluded that all that gives meaning to their lives is the belief that they are saving the planet by paying attention to their carbon footprint. There may be a growing realization that this may not add that much meaning to one’s life, but outside the pages of the Wall Street Journal, this has not been widely promulgated, and people with no other source of meaning will defend their religion with jihadist zeal.
In contrast to Lysenkoism, Global Warming has a global constituency, and has successfully coopted almost all of institutional science. However, the cracks in the scientific claims for catastrophic warming are, I think, becoming much harder for the supporters to defend.”
Lindzen concludes that the previous examples of the eugenics movement and Lysenkoism lasted 20 to 30 years, which is about equal to the run of the global warming movement since its American rollout in 1988. He suggests that the global warming movement may be just about spent as well.
Coming revelations concerning the scientific fraud behind global warming will confirm Lindzen’s estimation. The first of these relate to the growing, ultimately yawning disparity between the temperature projections of the IPCC’s 73 global climate models, and the observed temperatures in the real world, over the past 30 years, as shown in the graph below. The actual atmospheric temperatures as recorded by U.S. weather satellites and weather balloons are shown by the two lines at the bottom of the graph, connecting the squares or the circles. The average of the temperature models is the solid line going through the spaghetti of lines representing the projections of each of the models, well above the real world temperatures, with the divergence growing and growing. The source of that graph is Dr. Roy Spencer, award winning NASA scientist monitoring the global atmospheric temperatures as measured by U.S. satellites, and a contributor to Climate Change Reconsidered, as produced for testimony before the Environment and Public Works Committee of the United States Senate. Spencer, R.W. 2013. Statement to the Environment and Public Works Committee, 19 July 2013, Washington, DC.
This divergence is already approaching a full degree Celsius, which already demonstrates that the models are more fairy tale than science. But in the coming years that divergence will only grow and grow, ultimately not only discrediting but falsifying the theory of anthropogenic, catastrophic global warming.
The second relates to the growing specter of global cooling. Lawrence Solomon reports in the Financial Post in an article published on October 31, “Global Cooling Consensus”:
“‘Real Risk of a Maunder Minimum ‘Little Ice Age’ announced the BBC this week, in reporting startling findings by Professor Mike Lockwood of Reading University. ‘Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years [raising the risk of a new Little Ice Age]…, explained Paul Hudson, the BBC’s climate correspondent. If Earth is spared a new Little Ice Age, a severe cooling as ‘occurred in the early 1800s, which also had its fair share of cold winters and cold summers is, according to him, ‘more likely than not to happen.”
“During the Little Ice Age, the Sun became eerily quiet, as measured by a near disappearance of the sunspots typically present. Solar scientists around the world today see similar conditions, giving impetus to the widespread view that cold times lie ahead. ‘When we have had periods where the Sun has been quieter than usual we tend to get these much harsher winters’ echoed climatologist Dennis Wheeler from Sunderland University, in a Daily Express article entitled ‘Now get ready for an ‘Ice Age’ as experts warn of Siberian winter ahead.’”
Solomon cites further authorities, continuing:
“In a paper published this month by the American Meteorological Society, the authors demolish the claims by IPCC scientists that the Sun could not be responsible for major shifts in climate. In a post on her website this month, Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, all but mocked the IPCC assertions that solar variations don’t matter. Among the many studies and authorities she cited: the National Research Council’s recent report, ‘The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate,’ and NASA, former home of global warming guru James Hansen.”
Solomon reported that in a January press release, “To bolster the argument that solar activity could explain the Little Ice Age as well as lesser changes, NASA listed some dozen authorities, including Dan Lubin of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, whose research on other sun-like stars in the Milky Way suggest that ‘the Sun’s influence could be overpowering.’”
Solomon further reports, “In the last two years, the scientific community’s openness to examining the role of the Sun in climate change – as opposed to the role of man – has exploded.” That includes “scientists at the Russian Academy of Science’s Pulkovo Observatory, whose predictions in the last decade that global cooling would start in this decade are looking especially prescient.” It also includes George Kukla of Columbia University, who explained in 2007, “None of us expected uninterrupted continuation of the [cooling] trend [of the 1960s and 1970s]. Solomon concludes, “Global warming always precedes an ice age, Kukla explained. The warming we saw in the 1980s and 1990s, in other words, was expected all along, much as the calm before the storm.”
In other words, global warming is starting to sound a lot like Obama promising that under Obamacare if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance, or if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, or that Obamacare would cause the cost of health insurance to go down, or provide for universal coverage.
The bottom line is that America dodged a bullet in the 2000 Florida recount. Because in an October 29 Wall Street Journal commentary, Al Gore sounds like he has gone mad with his grand delusions as personal global savior. Gore tries to warn investors about a coming subprime carbon asset bubble, where fossil fuel investments will be dangerously overpriced, because most investors are overlooking the risk of global warming to investments in fossil fuel assets. He cites a “Carbon Budget” calculated by the “International Energy Agency,” which supposedly means that “at least two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves will not be monetized…, creating ‘stranded carbon assets.” He warns investors to look out for “sociopolitical pressures (e.g., fossil-fuel divestment campaigns, environmental advocacy, grass roots protests and changing public opinion) [which] could create an environment in which carbon-intensive businesses could lose their ‘license to operate,’ thereby stranding assets.”
All of which spells opportunity to me. By all means, investors, look out for those fossil fuel divestment campaigns and grass roots protests, which would signal that fossil fuel investments had become artificially undervalued. In other words, take such developments as buy signals. And if any of you want to divest yourselves of the social burden of fossil fuel investments, just send title to those investments to me, care of Forbes magazine.
[First published at Forbes.]
The story playing out in the wake of Ken Cuccinelli’s narrow loss is of a piece with the divisions that have dogged the right in races large and small in recent years. Whenever it comes to a clash between the donor class and the base, there’s all sorts of threats and exhortations about who’s going to take their ball and go home. The grassroots conservatives say they won’t be able to deliver the votes and the volunteers, while the donor community demands that they be logical and get on the team.
Yet for all the talk of Tea Party intransigence, the reality is that once the primaries and conventions are over, the sore losers in the bunch tend to all be on the money side, not the grassroots. The conservative base will swallow hard, grit their teeth, and back a moderate against a liberal time and again, just as Tea Party groups backed Mitt Romney and conservatives backed John McCain. But the donors typically find it a lot easier to take their ball and go home.
This wasn’t what the story was supposed to be in Virginia. Today, the Republican donor community is flailing desperately for a narrative to defend their decision to leave Cuccinelli high and dry as something other than a temper tantrum. The story was supposed to be that Terry McAuliffe and Bill Bolling were right: Cuccinelli was too extreme for Virginia, and it was time to get back to nominating the types of candidates they wanted. But Cuccinelli – even without the money, without the support, without the infrastructure – made it a race in the closing days, and now the donor class which said “screw it, I’m out” after the nomination fight played out are straining for excuses.
The recriminations over Cuccinelli’s narrow loss have thus far mostly been trained on the RNC and other major organizations, but that’s somewhat unfair. Yes, they should’ve recognized the potential for Obamacare to take this race from the embarrassment public polling indicated to a closer thing.
“The fact is, Democrats on the Hill would have identified ObamaCare as the culprit if Cuccinelli had eked out a narrow victory over a guy who massively outspent him and maintained a sizable polling lead until the end. If you want red-state Dems to run screaming from the ACA, shocking a Clinton crony who looked poised for an easy win in a bellwether state could have done the trick. Which is not to say all is lost: There are a few dopey liberal pundits on Twitter this morning insisting that Virginia was a “victory for ObamaCare” or something because McAuliffe managed to survive, but rest assured, that’s not the lesson being drawn by Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu given the narrowness of the margin. Even so, an outright win for Cuccinelli would have sent a much more powerful message. So why didn’t the RNC — and outside groups, and Republican millionaires/billionaires — do more to make it happen? They weren’t really more interested in seeing a tea-party star get his “comeuppance” than seizing power in a purple state like Virginia, were they?”
The truth is that complaints should be aimed less at those who should’ve done more late in the game, and more at those who unplugged from the beginning, never showing up to back Cuccinelli earlier in the contest. Ross Douthat touches on this in his wise take on the vengeance of donorism:
“I’ve been extremely critical, since 2012, of what I’ve called the “donorist” worldview within the G.O.P., which basically imagines that the party’s only problem is its stance on social issues, and that with the right mix of immigration boosterism and gay marriage flip-flopping, Republicans can cruise to victory without so much as tweaking their “1980 forever” economic agenda. This strikes me as politically blinkered as well as mistaken on the policy merits, and given a choice between a conservatism founded on donorist ideas and a conservatism founded on the more populist alternatives, I’ll take the latter, faults and all, every time. (Bill Bolling, Cuccinelli’s more business-friendly rival for the G.O.P. nomination, might have eked out a win over McAuliffe, but a Republican Party organized around Bill Bolling’s worldview would be a permanent minority party, having essentially cut its base adrift in exchange for better fundraising and a few more suburban votes.)”
These donors who unplugged early don’t even have the excuse of those terrible late poll numbers to back them up. According to internal polling data from Cuccinelli’s campaign, his net favorable numbers went from +4 in February to -20 in mid-October, with his unfavorable ratings steadily rising from 26% in February to 50% unfavorable in mid-October (with no change in favorability – he was hovering at 30% the whole time). At the same time, McAuliffe’s net favorable went from +6 in February to -2 in mid-October, rising roughly together. That is a function of money and ads and nothing else: a candidate getting completely curbstomped on the airwaves with barely a modicum of an ability to fight back.
So how in the world did such a candidate – lacking resources, well behind in the polls – make it close? The McAuliffe campaign is pushing the notion today that they had better internal data, which showed a closer race all along, indicating that Obamacare made no difference in the closing days. But if you cut through the spin, you’ll realize that believing the McAuliffe campaign’s claim requires you to believe that every public pollster was wrong, their secret numbers were right, and the fact that this conveniently helps the national narrative McAuliffe and his allies would prefer is incidental. (Oh, yes, you should totally trust Obama’s data team when they say Obamacare was irrelevant, and they have no reason whatsoever to push that talking point regardless of its accuracy. No reason at all. And if you believe that, I have a government website where you can sign up for health insurance in minutes, with ease.)
The idea that there was anything other than Obamacare at work here doesn’t pass the smell test. In Cuccinelli’s final internal poll, taken the same time as public polls showing McAuliffe ahead anywhere from 7 to 17 points, the campaign found a similarly depressing story: they were down 38%-47% among likely voters, winning white voters by just 40%-37%, and with Cuccinelli trailing by a wide margin among Independents (he ultimately won them) and getting only 57% of support from soft Republicans. It seemed impossible that such numbers would turn around.
Only 2 polls after 10/1 showed McAuliffe up by less than 6 points.
Over the next two weeks, Cuccinelli would add almost eight points to his total without any ad presence in the Northern Virginia market. That’s an incredible pace, one that it’s difficult to find any precedent for in an election with this much polling data going into the final weeks. There was no other major news story. There was no major breaking scandal. Obamacare’s rollout made the difference. And the Democrats up for re-election next year know it. If only the Republican donor class had been in the game in Virginia all along, maybe they would’ve known it, too.
[Originally published on The Federalist]
Back in 1997, the United Nations held a convention in Kyoto, Japan, that put together the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was a treaty that required the nations that agreed to it to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions, principally carbon dioxide (CO2) in order to save Earth from the perils of “global warming.” There were 192 parties to the convention and, although the U.S. “signed” the treaty, the U.S. Senate unanimously defeated participation. By 2011, our neighbor, Canada, withdrew from it.In Warsaw, Poland, for two weeks starting on November 11, the usual group of climate change charlatans have gathered for the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP-19) to try to breathe life into this greatest of all hoaxes. In 2009, COP-15, they had gathered in Copenhagen, but failed to come to any agreement on a successor to Kyoto whose mandatory reductions were initially applied to 37 developed nations, Suffice to say that, as the years went along, the nations that signed have grown increasingly disenchanted with the deal. First, there’s the little, itty-bitty problem of the actual climate. It began to cool around the same time the alarmists were shouting that we were all doomed if we didn’t stop using coal, oil, and natural gas because energy was the enemy. The Earth entered a perfectly natural and predictable cooling cycle as the sun grew less active. In Copenhagen, the delegates had to beat it out of town to avoid being stuck there by a huge snowstorm. When Obama’s plane arrived in Washington, D.C., it was just as a blizzard hit the city. Obama is credited with “saving” the Copenhagen conference by coming up with an agreement to create an annual fund of $100 billion that would begin in 2020 to help poor countries deal with climate change. Since the “Warmists” attribute every kind of climate disturbance to climate change and Obama loves spending U.S. billion we do not have, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Why none of these numbskulls ever asks themselves why they think nations can actually do anything about the climate other than to undermine and make more costly their own energy needs defies an answer. Meanwhile, part of the climate change hoax includes having the developed nations throw billions at undeveloped nations. Indeed, that may be the main reason.
Happily, there are observers at the Warsaw conference who make it their business to expose the global warming lies and monitor the climate change movement at home and abroad. As this is being written, former Apollo VII astronaut, Walter Cunningham, is leading a delegation from CFACT—the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow—a think tank that maintains the award-winning website, ClimateDepot.com. Its editor, Marc Morano, is among the group watching the machinations of COP-19.
CFACT’s Executive Director, Craig Rucker, has joined with Poland’s Globalization Institute, Instytut Piotra Skargi, the European Institute for Climate and Energy, and others to produce three climate forums for Polish citizens and policy makers.
This all may seem a bit esoteric. What does a conference in Warsaw have to do with the many other problems facing Americans these days? As Rucker points out, President Obama is looking to shift the public debate from Obamacare to climate change, announcing “a huge new emphasis on global warming at Georgetown (University) in June. In early November, he unleashed an executive order “directly federal bureaucrats to dramatically expand his global warming agenda.” Obama is moving on from health care to “the next legacy of his radical administration—namely, climate alarmism.”
We have been living with climate alarmism since the late 1980s and the years that led up to the Kyoto Protocol. Presently, the result has been an Environmental Protection Agency that has been unleashed on the coal industry and all others, the waste of billions in loans to so-called clean energy companies that promptly went bankrupt, and the scare-mongering that passes for education in the nation’s schools.
The failure of recent COPs to come to any agreement is likely a good sign, suggesting that the climate change hoax is running out of steam, even among the nations that initially supported it.
As Andrew Restuccia reported in Politico, shortly before the Warsaw conference began, “The two-week talks are a key step toward reaching a new global pact by 2015 that would take five years later. No groundbreaking agreements are likely in Warsaw, where, experts say, the main focus will be laying the groundwork for next year’s negotiations in Lima, Peru, and final talks in Paris in 2015.”
Ah! To be in Paris in 2015!
With the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 19th Conference of the Parties meeting taking place in Warsaw November 11-22, there will be much consternation about cyclone Yolanda that hit the Philippine Islands November 8. Global warming caused by carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels will be the labeled the culprit.Now the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide due to burning fossil fuels is admitted to have started after 1950; so it is reasonable to assume that natural disasters before 1950 are due the obvious–being natural events. Wikipedia features a list of the Top Ten Natural Disasters given by the table at the end of this article. Only two disasters occurred after 1950–the July 1976 China earthquake and the November 1970 Bangladesh cyclone. It is far fetched to blame earthquakes on carbon dioxide emissions. Yolanda had much media attention as it formed in the Pacific leading to speculation its collision with the Philippine Islands can be used as a target to promote stopping use of fossil fuels. With present estimates of 10,000 fatalities from Yolanda, it will not make the list of Top Ten Natural Disasters. It would take in excess of 260,000 fatalities to make the list. Carbon dioxide emissions are not a factor in this cyclone creation. Another area not mentioned is 2013 is a year of neutral temperature changes in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It is neither a year of Pacific equatorial warming–El Nino-nor a year of cooling–La Nina. Ten deadliest natural disasters Rank Death toll (estimate) Event Location Date 1 1,000,000–4,000,000* 1931 China floods China 01931 !July, August, 1931 2 900,000–2,000,000 1887 Yellow River flood China 01887 !September, October, 1887 3 830,000 1556 Shaanxi earthquake China 01556 !January 23, 1556 4 242,000–779,000 1976 Tangshan earthquake China 01976-07-01July 1976 5 500,000–1,000,000 1970 Bhola cyclone East Pakistan(nowBangladesh) 01970-11-13November 13, 1970 6 300,000 1839 India Cyclone India 01839 !November 25, 1839 6 300,000 1737 Calcutta cyclone India 01737-10-07October 7, 1737 8 273,400 1920 Haiyuan earthquake China 01920-12-16December 16, 1920 9 250,000–300,000 526 Antioch earthquake Byzantine Empire (nowTurkey) 00526-05-01May 526 10 260,000 115 Antioch earthquake Roman Empire (nowTurkey) 00115-12-13December 13, 115
I am honored to join Drs. Riccardo Polosa and Pasquale Caponnetto and their colleagues at the University of Catania in Italy as a coauthor of a new scientific article on e-cigarettes published in Harm Reduction Journal (available here). We scientifically disprove the stated premise of a recent NPR broadcast (here), “… little is known about the potential health effects [of e-cigarettes].” NPR “expert” Stanton Glantz stated that “e-cigarettes today are the triumph of wishful thinking over data.” Our publication shows that e-cigarettes are the triumph of scientific evidence over feigned ignorance.
For the benefit of members of the Flat Earth Society, I reproduce our summary here:
“The dream of a tobacco-free, nicotine-free world is just that—a dream. Nicotine’s beneficial effects include correcting problems with concentration, attention and memory, as well as improving symptoms of mood impairments. Keeping such disabilities at bay right now can be much stronger motivation to continue using nicotine than any threats of diseases that may strike years and years in the future.
“Nicotine’s beneficial effects can be controlled, and the detrimental effects of the smoky delivery system can be attenuated, by providing the drug via less hazardous delivery systems. Although more research is needed, e-cigs appear to be effective cigarette substitutes for inveterate smokers, and the health improvements enjoyed by switchers do not differ from those enjoyed by tobacco/nicotine abstainers.
“It is of paramount importance that government and trusted health authorities provide accurate and truthful information about the relative risks of smoking and alternatives to smoking. If the public continues to be misled about the risks of THR products, millions of smokers will be dissuaded from switching to these much less hazardous alternatives. One of us recently wrote that, “It’s time to be honest with the 50 million Americans, and hundreds of millions around the world, who use tobacco. The benefits they get from tobacco are very real. It’s time to abandon the myth that tobacco is devoid of benefits, and to focus on how we can help smokers continue to derive those benefits with a safer delivery system” [reference here].
“In the absence of regulatory standards, it is important that currently marketed products are of high quality. For example, the hardware should be reliable and should produce vapour consistently. The liquids should be manufactured under sanitary conditions and use pharmaceutical grade ingredients, and labels should contain a list of all ingredients and an accurate and standardized description of the nicotine content.
“According to a recent article by CDC researchers, the proportion of U.S. adults who have ever used electronic cigarettes more than quadrupled from 0.6% in 2009 to 2.7% in 2010 with an estimated number of current electronic cigarette users of about 2.5 million [reference here]. Although rigorous studies are required to establish THR potential and long term safety of electronic cigarettes, these figures clearly suggest that smokers are finding these products helpful. If they were ineffective one would not expect the market to take off as it is. Most importantly, even if this THR product proves to be effective for only 25% of the smoking population, it could save millions of lives world-wide over the next ten years.”
[Originally Published at Tobacco Truth]
On Friday, November 8, Obama arrived in New Orleans to talk about improving the U.S. economy. There, he drew attention to the already forgotten government shutdown: “there’s no question that the shutdown harmed our jobs market. The unemployment rate still ticked up. And we don’t yet know all the data for this final quarter of the year, but it could be down because of what happened in Washington.”
Yes, 850,000 furloughed federal employees may have tipped the scales, but really they all got a free 16-day vacation. They were, ultimately, all paid.
Obama wants to blame the 16-day federal employee paid vacation on the Republicans—and there may well be fault there. But what about the thousands of jobs that have been lost due to the polices of his administration—people in the private sector who have been out of work for more than 16 months?
Because of what happens in Washington, thousands—if not millions—of private-sector employees have, effectively, been permanently furloughed and/or new jobs are not created as a result of the Obama Administration’s war on energy.
A quick search using the phrase “jobs lost due to coal-fired power plant closures” produces a plethora of stories with hundreds of job losses. Nearly 300 coal-fired power plants are being shutdown across the U.S. due to EPA regulations—which according to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is “five times greater than the EPA predicted would be forced to shut down due to its regulations.” Mike Duncan, President and CEO of ACCCE, says: “The EPA continues to downplay the damage its regulations are causing to the U.S. economy and to the many states that depend on coal for jobs and affordable electricity.”
In Massachusetts, the closure of Brayton Point Power Station—which is the second shutdown in the region, will cost 240 jobs.
A Fox News story about the closure of coal-fired plants in Georgia that will result in the loss of 480 jobs, states: “several utilities have made similar announcements, saying they opted to close aging coal plants rather than pay hundreds of millions of dollars to install pollution-control equipment to comply with federal clean-air rules.”
In Pennsylvania, the closure of two plants has resulted in the loss of 380 jobs. Melody Longstreth, executive director of the Waynesburg Area Chamber of Commerce, blames the EPA for the jobs losses: “Unfortunately, regulation affects everybody, whether you’re a mom-and-pop business all the way up to that.” Her colleague, Muriel Nuttall, executive director of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, adds: “In addition to job losses at the plant, the closing will have a ‘domino effect’ on related jobs, such as truck drivers and barge operators.”
Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA), who represents the district where the Pennsylvania plants are located, laments: “The front line in the administration’s war on coal is right here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and the casualties are the factories and homeowners, who will pay higher electric bills, as well as the hundreds of utility workers, boilermakers, and miners who will be out of work. With the shutdown of the Mitchell plant and Hatfield’s Ferry, which just four short years ago underwent $1 billion in upgrades, the president is making good on his promise to ‘bankrupt’ anyone who operates a coal plant.”
These closures result in jobs lost at the power stations and the surrounding communities, but they—along with additional EPA regulations—also cause the loss of jobs at the coal mines.
Addressing the Mitchell and Hatfield’s Ferry plants, Phil Smith, a spokesperson for the United Mine Workers of America, said: “It’s clearly going to have bad implications for coal miners.”
According to a report in the Herald-Standard, about a quarter of the coal-fired plants that have been closed or are scheduled for shutdown, buys, or has bought, coal from Alpha Natural Resources. Company spokesperson Samatha Davison states: “By all indications, regulators in Washington are intent on limiting the production and use of coal, the most abundant domestic energy source we have in America. With that said, this is another example of how the EPA regulations are impacting the electricity-generation business and the coal industry.”
Much of the coal comes from Kentucky. Bill Bissett, President of the Kentucky Coal Association, told me about the loss of thousands of jobs as a result of EPA regulations: “Eastern Kentucky has lost more than 6,000 direct coal-mining jobs. For every one direct mining job lost, three other Kentuckians lose their livelihoods with the loss of indirect jobs. Beyond this loss of direct and indirect employment, you also have the loss of what is called induced jobs, which are unrelated directly to the mining of coal, but negatively impact automobile dealerships, restaurants and anywhere these former direct and indirect employees spent their paychecks.”
The regulations coming from the Obama Administration are not just hurting mining jobs through the expensive and excessive rules on power plants, but through retroactively blocking new mining projects such as the Mingo Logan mine in West Virginia. The decision on the part of the EPA to withdraw specific parts of a permit after it was issued is unprecedented in the history of the Clean Water Act. The Mingo Logan permit was issued in January 2007, by the Army Corps of Engineers and authorized discharge from the Spruce No. 1 coal mine into nearby streams. Nearly three years later, the EPA published a final determination on the permit that withdrew those disposal sites.
The EPA’s decision is an example of bureaucracy at its worst and has sparked bipartisan criticism from West Virginia’s Congressional representatives. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat states: “One agency grants a permit, another agency takes it away and business suffers in the end. The federal government should be an ally, not an adversary, in helping to strike a balance between protecting the environment and creating good American jobs.” Likewise, Republican Representative Shelley Moore Capito said: “The Environmental Protection Agency has continued to overstep its bounds in its efforts to implement the president’s anti-energy policies. Not only will this ruling cost West Virginians hundreds of jobs, but it begs the question: Who is safe?”
The Mingo Logan case will continue to be played out in the courts. Meanwhile, Senators Manchin and David Vitter (R-LA)—who is also the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, have issued a letter to the EPA regarding its “extreme approach.” They are demanding information from EPA about the revocation of Mingo Logan’s previously approved federal permit. In the letter, the Senators point to the company’s “faithful compliance with the permit’s terms”—yet, the EPA’s unprecedented actions unilaterally revoked the permit.
The Obama Administration’s control of permits is also impacting the oil-and-gas industry,which even in its fettered state is largely responsible for the private sector job growth. A recent EIA report states that from the start of 2007 through the end of 2012, total U.S. private sector employment increased by about 1%. “Over the same period, the oil and natural gas industry increased by more than 162,000 jobs, a 40% increase.” But there could be much more.
Before the Macondo Well accident, analysts expected 45 rigs to be operating in the Gulf by 2013. In a recent investors’ report, the International Strategy & Investment Group said: “After essentially being left for dead following the devastating Macondo blowout, we believe the deepwater Gulf of Mexico is in the early stages of an extended growth cycle.” Only 38% of deepwater reserves are currently producing oil, while an additional 60% are in appraisal, development or discovery status. Today there are 40 rigs currently under contract in the Gulf.
While drilling permits are being issued in the gulf, it is, according to Senator Vitter at “an anemic pace.” The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) confirmed that it now takes on average 108 days to get an offshore drilling permit, twice as long as the average 54 days it took pre-Macondo.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act (H.R. 2231), which directs the Secretary of the Interior to “implement a leasing program that includes at least 50% of the available unleased acreage within each outer Continental Shelf (OCS) planning area…”
Regarding H.R. 2231, Randall Luthi, President of NOIA, issued a statement that includes: “Opening up more of our OCS to energy exploration makes good sense and even better cents, adding thousands of domestic jobs and potentially billions of dollars in state and Federal revenues.”
A report released last month from the Consumer Energy Alliance found that more than 10,000 new jobs could be created if exploration and production were to take place in just the mid-Atlantic region of the OCS. A thorough economic analysis by the American Energy Alliance found that the potential resources in the OCS alone could sustain 1.2 million new, full-time jobs per year over the next 30 years if the OCS is authorized and permits are granted.
[Originally published on TownHall.com]
Which on a daily basis is shown to be more and more untrue.
The reason for this coverage hemorrhage is – more government. More government mandates and regulations are constricting the private health insurance sector into blue-faced oblivion – and squeezing more and more people out of their coverage.
These government regs are canceling insurance – and making it much more expensive. Which was another President Obama and Democrat lie.
Again, not so much.
Just released were the slightly-less-pathetic-than-Obama-Normal October jobs numbers. Which undid another Leftist lie – that the half-month government ever-so-partial-shutdown would be detrimental to the economy.
The government being slightly-closed for the first half resulted in one of the best jobs months in five Obama years. But let’s not get too excited.
Hiring paper pushers in the nation’s Government Compliance Departments is just about the biggest waste of time, money and effort there is. Wonder why things get more and more expensive, and less and less effective? Because our nation’s innovators are forced with ever greater regularity and intensity to deal with government.
That was way back in 2010 – before ObamaCare (and the rest of the Obama Fiat agenda) really began kicking in.
Time, money and effort are finite resources – the more government consumes, the less there is for everyone and everything else.
Really? Let’s look at some of the ways this is supposedly so.
1. It’ll be more expensive
Yes, because as ObamaCare has yet again demonstrated, Big Government regulations dramatically lower costs.
3. Service will be worse, unless you’re willing to pay
Yes, because as ObamaCare – and its website – have yet again demonstrated, greater government involvement is a tremendous boost to service. Like the Post Office. Or the DMV. More government means worse service – and higher prices anyway.
4. There will be less innovation
Net Neutrality is basically the government regulating the Internet the way it has for seventy-plus years the landline telephone. You know – that bastion of innovation. (At least we’re no longer rotary dialing or having to ring Sarah Andy Griffith-style.)
6. …BitTorrent sites will suffer
You mean sites that steal music and movies and then sell them? Shouldn’t the government – law enforcement specifically – be causing them to suffer?
8. It’ll be censored
Ok, this is just whiplash-inducing. Government is the only named censor in the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.…
So how will undoing the sole censor’s Internet power grab – lead to the Internet being censored? Isn’t it in fact preempting censorship?
The hysteria of the pro-government-control Left is palpable. Because the Internet pre-Obama Administration was a virtual government-free zone – and Leftists have been looking for decades for a regulatory hook to being reeling it in.
They are caterwauling so loudly about Net Neutrality – because it is said hook.
Keep in mind that the Internet as we know it has existed since the early-to-mid 1990s – and the government didn’t execute its Net Neutrality power grab until December 2010.
None of the things the Left fears post-Net Neutrality ever happened in the two-plus decades pre-Net Neutrality – it instead became the free speech-free market Xanadu we all know and love.
Of course we have always had “net neutrality” – because it makes zero business sense for an Internet service provider to block its customers’ access to what they want on the Web. And we will always have it – because it will never make sense for a company to not give its customers what they want.
What we didn’t have was an over-arching, over-reaching government regulatory superstructure Network Neutrality – which we do not need, but the Big Government Leftists have long wanted.
We passed ObamaCare – another longtime Leftist wish list item - to find out what is in it. How’s that working? Of course it needs to go.
Net Neutrality should also be undone – before it does to the Internet and the entire economy what ObamaCare is doing to health care and beyond.
[Originally published on Human Events]
Four scientists at the forefront of global warming activism published an open letter this week encouraging their fellow warmists to embrace safe nuclear power as a means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. If environmental activist groups honestly believe humans are causing a global warming crisis, they will eagerly join in support.
The four scientists are pretty close to embodying a Mt. Rushmore of global warming activists. They are James Hansen at the Columbia University Earth Institute, Tom Wigley at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ken Caldeira at the Carnegie Institution.
“Continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change,” the scientists wrote.
“We call on your organization to support the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as a practical means of addressing the climate change problem. Global demand for energy is growing rapidly and must continue to grow to provide the needs of developing economies. At the same time, the need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming ever clearer.”
To be sure, widespread nuclear power would come at a substantial price. Nuclear power is about 50 percent more expensive to produce than conventional power. Granted, much of that cost disadvantage is due to excessive government regulation that is unique to nuclear power, but there is no reason to expect government will ease such regulation anytime soon.
In return for that price, people get the ease of mind knowing they are utilizing carbon-free power. The science is pretty strong that humans are not creating a global warming crisis, but the extra insurance policy may still hold some value. Also, nuclear power eliminates all types of air pollution, which brings additional benefits.
Nuclear power also carries many advantages over wind power and solar power – which to this point have been global warming activists’ preferred power sources.
First, let’s take a look at nuclear power’s environmental advantages. Unlike wind power, nuclear power will not kill millions of birds and bats each year, including endangered and protected species. Unlike solar thermal power, nuclear power will not use up much of the very limited water supplies in deserts and arid regions that are best suited for solar power production. Unlike both wind and solar power, nuclear power does not require the development of vast swaths of some of our nation’s most pristine lands. And also unlike wind and solar power, nuclear power plants can be built almost anywhere, eliminating the need to build long transmission lines through previously undisturbed lands.
Next, let’s take a look at the nuclear power’s economic advantages. Nuclear power is substantially less expensive than wind and solar, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Also, unlike variable wind and solar power, nuclear power is available on demand, which increases efficiency and eliminates wind and solar power’s need for redundant backup baseload power.
When you compare the economic and environmental costs of wind and solar power to nuclear power, it is hard to understand why global warming activists have historically opposed it. It makes one wonder whether they really believe in their asserted global warming crisis. If global warming is really the gravest threat humanity has ever faced, why do the same people who sound a worrisome alarm categorically reject the most affordable, effective and readily available means of eliminating carbon dioxide emissions?
People like me who are skeptical of the asserted global warming crisis, but nevertheless are very concerned about government energy restrictions punishing our living standards are still going to have our concerns about nuclear power. Widespread use will function as a substantial tax on the American economy in comparison to affordable coal and natural gas power. But that tax will not impose nearly as much economic punishment and energy supply disruption as prohibitively expensive and unreliable wind and solar power.
The four scientists calling for warmists to embrace nuclear power is a conversation starter, and an opportunity to perhaps find some common ground in what has otherwise become an increasingly divisive and polarizing global warming discussion. At the very least, nuclear power is an economically and environmentally preferable option to widespread wind and solar power. It will be very interesting to see how other warmists, and particularly the large environmental activist groups, respond to the embrace of nuclear power by some of the most prominent scientists leading their cause.
[Originally published on Forbes]