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ObamaCare Is Rapidly Imploding – Will the Republican Congress Finally Do Something About It?

Somewhat Reasonable - May 16, 2015, 8:57 AM

How much more ObamaCare failure must mount in a titanic heap – before Congress decides to get more involved?

A Congress given in 2014 a bi-cameral, bigger and deeper Republican majority – because of ObamaCare.

2014: Another Election About ObamaCare

The Second Obamacare Election

Obamacare Opposition Drives 2014 Election Results

Republicans given the majority – based on their stated opposition to ObamaCare.

John Boehner (R-OH) [N/A%], Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [60%] Vow to Kill ObamaCare

Republican leadership that has since the election done very little to adhere to their vow.

ObamaCare Repeal Falls Off Republicans’ To-Do List As Law Takes Hold

The people who gave Republicans the majority have noticed.

Conservatives Fear GOP Leaders Giving Up on ObamaCare Repeal

And lest we forget:

Conservatives Are Right About ObamaCare

How do we know Conservatives are correct?

CBO: Cost of ObamaCare Subsidy Will Increase 8-Fold in 10 Years

Health Insurance Cancellation Notices Soar Above ObamaCare Enrollment Rates

O-Care Premiums to Skyrocket

ObamaCare Deductibles Hit Patient Pocketbooks And Hospital Finances

The law’s damage is deep – and omni-directional.

CBO: ObamaCare Hurts Workers, Sickens Economy

CBO: ObamaCare to Cut Work Hours by Equivalent of 2 Million Jobs

How ObamaCare Hurts Job Creation

Joe Biden: Losing Your Job Because of ObamaCare ‘Is About Freedom’

Thanks, Mister Vice President. ObamaCare: Liberating millions of Americans from all those hours wasted earning money.

Not all of the news is terrible.

Thousands of New IRS Agents Hired to Enforce ObamaCare

ObamaCare to Create 100,000s of Jobs in the Field of Explaining ObamaCare

Oh wait – all of the news is terrible. Breaking things – and then hiring bureaucrats to “fix” them – ain’t exactly great.

And all of this nightmare mess is just at the federal level. How are the seventeen states that established their own ObamaCare exchanges doing?

Failure and Corruption in the Massachusetts ObamaCare Exchange

It’s no secret that ObamaCare’s father is RomneyCare in Massachusetts, and as we look to the problems that plague a government run health care system, The Bay State is a good place to start. Case in point: corruption in the system.

Josh Archambault, senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability has dug into the state’s $1 billion ObamaCare exchange and found many discrepancies and issues that should concern everyone.

Just another “lone wolf,” isolated failure, right? Sadly,….

Almost Half of ObamaCare Exchanges Face Financial Struggles in the Future

A headline that could easily end with “So Far.”

Many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive customer call centers – and tepid enrollment numbers.

Governments’ “solution” to this utterly predictable – and predicted – outcome? Utterly predictable.

To ease the fiscal distress, officials are considering raising fees on insurers, sharing costs with other states and pressing state lawmakers for cash infusions.

They demand even more of our money. Shocker.

Some are weighing turning over part or all of their troubled marketplaces to the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov….

Some states have already done this.

Oregon Gives Up On State ObamaCare Site, Switches to Federal Exchange

What else has happened in the Beaver State?

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber Resigns Over Growing Scandal

Oops.

Kitzhaber Turned Cover Oregon Decision-Making Over to Campaign Consultant

Oregon Spends $300 Million to Achieve 44 Total Signups for ObamaCare

Yet another unmitigated disaster.

Federal Investigators Issue Subpoena to Cover Oregon, Oregon Health Authority

Good idea. Except:

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s and Cylvia Hayes’ Trip to Dump Brings Police Sweeping In

The former governor and Hayes showed up at the Knott Landfill southeast of Bend in a pickup and an SUV about 2 p.m. last Friday and spent a few minutes dumping trash, according to Timm Schimke, the director of the Deschutes County Solid Waste Department….

(W)orkers recognized who they were dealing with and apparently decided the dumping might be of interest to law enforcement.

Old school, analog Hillary Clinton transparency.

This is where the Republican Leadership can do some good politics – by engaging in some good policy.

You say you want to undo ObamaCare? A great move in that direction is to investigate the state-level ObamaCare catastrophes currently unraveling all across the country. They represent billions of federal dollars wasted – and billions (and BILLIONS) more to be thrown after bad.

And they all serve as outstanding visual aides for why federal ObamaCare is also irretrievably heinous.

We must get to the bottom of Oregon and Massachusetts (and the others we already know to be corrupt as well as collapsed) to begin to mitigate the damage inexorably coming from all the others – up to and including the federal.

That is, after all, your job.

It’s good policy – that is also good politics.

For what, exactly, are you people waiting?

[Originally published at Red State]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Dispersion and Concentration in Metropolitan Employment

Somewhat Reasonable - May 16, 2015, 8:44 AM

The just released County Business Patterns indicates a general trend of continued employment dispersion to the newer suburbs (principally the outer suburbs) and exurbs but also greater concentration in the central business districts of the 52 major metropolitan areas in the United States (over 1 million population in 2013). County Business Patterns is a Census Bureau program that provides largely private-sector employment data by geography throughout the nation.

This article examines the most recent data, for 2013, with comparisons to 2007, which was the peak employment year and preceded the Great Recession, the most substantial economic decline in the United States since the Great Depression. There are also comparisons to 2010, the year in which national employment reached its lowest level (trough) before beginning what is, so far, a long and fairly arduous recovery. The analysis uses the City Sector Model (Note)

2007-2013 Trend

Job losses were registered in each of the five urban sectors between the employment peak of 2007 and the trough of 2010. Three of the urban sectors have recovered to above their 2007 employment levels. However, overall major metropolitan area employment remains lower by approximately 800,000. Since the 2010 trough, the largest numeric gains have been in the newer suburbs. The Central Business Districts (CBDs) of the Urban Core have recovered more than double their 2007 to 2010 numeric loss. In contrast, the balance of the Urban Core, the Inner Ring experienced a modest increase over its 2007 employment peak. The exurbs have not yet fully recovered. By far the largest losses between 2007 and 2010 were in the earlier suburbs (principally inner suburbs), where employment dropped 2.8 million and has recovered less than one half of that loss (Figure 1).

Dispersion and Concentration

The dispersion and concentration is most evident in the shares of employment by urban sector (Figure 3). Three of the urban sectors increased their share of metropolitan employment between 2007 and 2013. The largest increase was in the newer suburban areas, which rose from 24.7 percent to 25.6 percent of metropolitan employment. The central business districts also increased their share of employment, from 8.4 percent in 2007 to 9.0 percent in 2013. This trend is similar to the City Observatory (Joe Courtright) findings that urban cores outperformed suburbs in job growth between 2007 and 2011. The Courtright findings were for areas within three miles of the largest city center, while the findings here relate to the generally smaller CBDs (Figure 2).The gains in other sectors were at the expense of the earlier suburbs, which experienced a loss from 45.9 percent to 44.4 percent of metropolitan employment between 2007 and 2013.

From the 2010 Trough to 2013

Since the trough of 2010, there were numeric gains in all of the urban sectors. The gains were concentrated in the suburbs and exurbs, which accounted for 80.9 percent of the employment growth from 2010 to 2013. This nearly equals the 81.9 percent share of employment in these areas in 2007. The urban core, including the CBD and inner ring, captured 19.1 percent of the 2010 to 2013 employment growth, better than their combined 18.1 percent share in 2007 (Figure 3).

There was also geographic concentration in the CBD gains between the 2010 trough and 2013. Approximately two-thirds of the CBD employment gain between 2007 and 2013 was in four metropolitan areas: New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Along with Seattle and Houston, these metropolitan areas account for 75 percent of the CBD growth. All of the 46 other major metropolitan areas contributed 25 percent of the gain (Figure 4).

Between 2010 and 2013, the largest annual percentage employment gain was in the later suburbs, at 3.2 percent. The CBDs, experienced the second strongest growth at 2.9 percent. However, numeric gain in the later suburbs was more than three times that of the CBDs, due to their already much larger employment base (Figure 5).

Returning to Normalcy?

For decades, most employment growth has been outside the urban cores of the major metropolitan areas, as had been the case with residential population gains. The Great Recession interfered with these patterns, but normalcy may be returning. Brookings Institution Demographer William Frey recently commented on later population trends (through 2014), suggesting “renewed growth in suburban and exurban counties.” The new data indicates renewed employment growth in suburban and exurban areas. At the same time, it would not be surprising for the revival in the CBDs to continue, even if the numbers are relatively small in the metropolitan area context, where the dominance of suburban and exurban job growth seems likely to continue.

Note: The analysis is based on the City Sector Model (Figure 6), which classifies small areas (ZIP codes, more formally, ZIP Code Tabulation Areas, or ZCTAs) in metropolitan area in the nation based upon their behavioral functions as urban cores, suburbs or exurbs. The criteria used are generally employment and population densities and modes of work trip travel. The purpose of the urban core sectors is to replicate, to the best extent possible, the urban form as it existed before World War II, when urban densities were much higher and when a far larger percentage of urban travel was on transit or by walking. The suburban and exurban sectors replicate automobile oriented suburbanization that began in the 1920s and escalated strongly following World War II.

Photo: New York: Columbus Circle (by author)

 

[Originally published at New Geography]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Friend Marc Morano Embarasses Environmental Defense Fund in TV Debate

Somewhat Reasonable - May 15, 2015, 11:55 PM

Carol Andress of EDF and Marc Morano of ClimateDepot.com debate climate science on EWTN.

EWTN, America’s leading cable network for Catholics broadcast to 148 millions homes around the world, hosted a debate Thursday night about Pope Francis’ plan to insert himself into the center of the global climate debate on “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo.” The debate featured Marc Morano, executive editor and chief correspondent of ClimateDepot.com, versus Carol Andress, director of legislative operations for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

If you are at all interested in the debate over what is really happening to our climate, and what we should do about it, you, (1) should attend or watch the live-stream of Heartland’s next climate conference in DC June 11 – 12; and (2) not miss this debate between Morano and Andress. Before we get to the video of the debate (embedded below) some set-up and commentary.

EWTN covered The Heartland Institute’s trip to Rome last month — which was an attempt to bring balance to the alarmism, flawed climate science, and wrong-headed agenda for the world’s poor the United Nations was presenting to the Vatican at its April 28 climate summit. EWTN reached out to Heartland this week asking for a DC-based member of the contingent we brought to Rome to talk about climate change and the Pope. Morano was my first choice to debate climate with the EDF, and he did not disappoint.

It is impossible to overstate what a blow-out this debate was for Morano. He was the Harlem Globetrotters to the EDF’s Washington Generals. The only things missing were the bucket of confetti trick and a dribbling exhibition by Curly Neal.

Bottom line: Morano brought the facts — relentlessly and firmly. Andress was criminally uninformed for someone in her position. She spent so much time stammering, everyone who is a part of EDF or supports it should be embarrassed.

A preview of one of many “money” moments for Morano: Andress admitting she couldn’t “speak to” why the latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Cliamte Change (IPCC) could not explain “the pause” in global warming that (so far) has stretched for 18 years and 4 months. Andress was obviously flustered by that question from Arroyo, and stammered out a litany of non-responsive talking points. Morano followed up by directly addressing the question with a torrent of specific facts.

This one-sided debate revealed a couple of things that should be troubling if you are supporter of the environmental left:

1. The people at the highest levels of your movement are wholly ignorant of basic facts about the earth’s climate.

Andress started out spewing stale, rote talking points about how “the science is settled,” and how you don’t have to be a scientist to see that we are now experiencing “weather on steroids.” Americans are experiencing more severe storms than ever before, she said, and it’s because of human CO2 emissions.

Morano countered those falsehoods with facts: Every day that passes sets a new record for a major hurricane failing to hit the mainland of the United States (category 3 or greater). The number of tornadoes swirling across the US are also at all-time lows.

Does Andress know these facts? Does she even care? Or does Andress think the public will ignore these facts if she and her allies in the movement repeat the alarmist talking points often enough? Does she not even realize the position she is defending is demonstrably false?

I think this is the answer: Most of the folks in the climate alarmism business are are so arrogant — so dismissive of “deniers” — they are not cognizant of their staggering ignorance of the actual science the “deniers” present to destroy their false talking points to a debate audience. Climate alarmists are so invested in the doctrine that human activity is causing a climate crisis that it never occurs to them to do the basic research necessary to defend their position.

That is why Andress stammered out cliches. She just doesn’t know any better than to mouth worn-out and unpersuasive talking points that do not stand up to Morano’s data about what is actually happening to the earth’s climate.

2. The people at the highest levels of your movement are taking in millions of dollars … but getting their butts kicked on the science and policy in debates on national television.

Carol Andress holds a senior position at an enormously influential and lavishly funded organization. The EDF’s website lists Andress’ areas of expertise as: “Climate Change, U.S. Congress, air quality, U.S. climate policy.” She sure didn’t show it on EWTN Thursday night. According to EDF’s 2013 990 form, the organization held $208 million in assets at the end of 2012 … and, yet, Andress’ embarassing performance was the best they could offer to EWTN.

Let’s put that into perspective. EDF is just one organization among an army of wealthy nonprofits (Sierra Club, Greenpeace, NRDC, etc.) agitating for climate alarmism. It raised and spent in just 2012 much more than what The Heartland Institute has raised and spent for all its programs since its founding in 1984. (Heartland is a broad, multi-issue, free-market think tank; we don’t just do climate.) You can see Heartland’s 2013 990 form here. (NOTE: We’ve done well the last couple of years, but we have raised and spent much less than $5 million annually for most of our 31 years. Environmental donors might want to compare bang for the buck on that one.)

Enough set-up. Watch the video below, which is the whole program. Skip to 25:30 to see the Morano/Andress debate begin. The EDF stops being embarassed when it ends at about the 41:00 mark.

If you want to learn more about what’s really happening to our climate, attend Heartland’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change June 11-12 in Washington, DC. If you can’t attend in person, you can watch a live-stream of the truth the EDF can’t rebut at Heartland.org.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Marita Noon: Beisner & Briggs on Vatican Climate Conference

Somewhat Reasonable - May 15, 2015, 3:18 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in to America’s Voice for Energy with host Marita Noon. In this segment, Noon is joined by Heartland Policy Advisors E. Calvin Beisner and William Briggs. They discuss, among other environment related topics, The Heartland Institute’s recent trip to the Vatican climate conference.

In the first half of the podcast, Beisner describes the events surrounding the conference in Rome. Beisner also explains the negative effects that would occur if the popular climate-change solutions were enacted.  In the second half, Noon asks Briggs why the church is deciding to get involved in the climate change debate. Briggs gives his views on the whole situation.

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

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: Too Many People Stuck in Welfare. Here’s How You Help

Blog - Education - May 15, 2015, 1:15 PM

If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you every Friday with a highlight show.

Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

New Policy Study: Environmental Impacts of Industrial Frac Sand Mining Isaac Orr & Mark Krumenacher, Heartland Policy Study The recent success of the U.S. fracking industry has created booms in related industries as well ‒ particularly the mining of silica sand, an essential element in the process of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas. Environmental activist groups and community organizers contend silica sand mining presents significant threats to human health and the environment. Learn why those claims are wrong.  READ MORE Pope’s Climate Plan Would Leave Billions Impoverished H. Sterling Burnett, Inside Sources Had the pope bothered to consult scientists and economists outside his select circle of ethically compromised U.N. climate alarmists, he would have realized the United Nations was dead wrong about the alleged coming climate catastrophe, the merits of fossil fuels, and the ability of low-density renewable energy technologies to raise the poor from poverty. READ MORE Too Many People Are Still Stuck in Welfare. Here’s How to Lift Them Out Justin Haskins & Logan Pike, National Review “Welfare shouldn’t be about establishing government programs that do something to people, but rather programs that do something for people. Welfare’s only purpose ought to be to lift them from the grips of government dependency into a life of self-sufficiency. Instead, it often shackles the impoverished and encourages them to remain in a state of squalor rather than make the difficult but worthwhile trek to prosperity.” READ MORE Featured podcast: James M. Taylor: New EPA Ozone Regulations Along with the lack of positive effects, the new EPA ozone rules will be the costliest regulations in EPA history. Heartland’s H. Sterling Burnett and James M. Taylor talk about how the proposed regulations would impose more than $1,000 per year for each individual household in direct and indirect energy costs.  LISTEN TO MORE  

Heartland – A Great Nonprofit
If you love The Heartland Institute and its efforts on behalf of individual liberty and smaller government, tell the world! You have an opportunity to help us make even more of a difference. GreatNonprofits – a review site like TripAdvisor – honors highly reviewed nonprofits with its Top-Rated Awards. Won’t you help us raise visibility for our work by posting a review of your experience with us? All reviews will be visible to potential donors and volunteers. It’s easy and takes only 3 minutes! GET STARTED NOW

Dutch Doctors Withholding and Withdrawing Treatment from the Elderly Ken Artz, The Heartlander “It is no longer a sanctuary, but a house of horrors, where if you go in you might not come out because someone may decide you can’t come out,” said Twila Brase, president and cofounder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom. “Hospitals are becoming a scary place, and not for the usual reasons.”  READ MORE Uncovered: Wikipedia’s Leftist Ties And Its Censorship Of The Facts Justin Haskins, Western Journalism “I began to research the prominent website’s leadership. That endeavor revealed that despite the site’s claims of being a neutral source of information, many of those leading Wikipedia have intimate ties to far-left organizations or openly support liberal policies and candidates.”  READ MORE

Chipotle Backs Off GMO-free Claim Ken Artz, The Heartlander “They say that their meats are free of hormones, and they tout being a restaurant chain that uses only organic foods, but there’s not enough organic corn in the world to accomplish this promise,” said H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.  READ MORE Bonus Podcast: Moriah Costa: Protecting Student Privacy Managing Editor of School Reform News Heather Kays interviews Moriah Costa, an education reporter for Watchdog.org. Costa and Kays talk about student privacy and a recently introduced bill titled the “Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015.”  LISTEN TO MORE More Spending is Not The Answer to a Slow Economy Richard Ebeling, for Somewhat Reasonable “Old fallacies never seem to die, they just fade away to reemerge once again later on. One such fallacy is that if there is significant unemployment and slow economic growth it must be due to not enough consumer’ spending in the economy, what Keynesian economists call a ‘failure of aggregate demand.’”  READ MORE Tennessee Lawmakers Vote to Create Education Savings Accounts Jonathan Butcher, The Heartlander Advocates for educational freedom scored a victory in Tennessee. The Tennessee General Assembly voted to create Education Savings Accounts (ESA), which allow families to set aside funds to create customized educational plans to suit their children’s individual needs. If signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee would be just the fourth state to implement such a truly progressive law.  READ MORE Invest in the Future of Freedom!
Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make.

Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.  

Heartland Weekly: Too Many People Stuck in Welfare. Here’s How You Help

Somewhat Reasonable - May 15, 2015, 1:15 PM

If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you every Friday with a highlight show.

Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

New Policy Study: Environmental Impacts of Industrial Frac Sand Mining Isaac Orr & Mark Krumenacher, Heartland Policy Study The recent success of the U.S. fracking industry has created booms in related industries as well ‒ particularly the mining of silica sand, an essential element in the process of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas. Environmental activist groups and community organizers contend silica sand mining presents significant threats to human health and the environment. Learn why those claims are wrong.  READ MORE Pope’s Climate Plan Would Leave Billions Impoverished H. Sterling Burnett, Inside Sources Had the pope bothered to consult scientists and economists outside his select circle of ethically compromised U.N. climate alarmists, he would have realized the United Nations was dead wrong about the alleged coming climate catastrophe, the merits of fossil fuels, and the ability of low-density renewable energy technologies to raise the poor from poverty. READ MORE Too Many People Are Still Stuck in Welfare. Here’s How to Lift Them Out Justin Haskins & Logan Pike, National Review “Welfare shouldn’t be about establishing government programs that do something to people, but rather programs that do something for people. Welfare’s only purpose ought to be to lift them from the grips of government dependency into a life of self-sufficiency. Instead, it often shackles the impoverished and encourages them to remain in a state of squalor rather than make the difficult but worthwhile trek to prosperity.” READ MORE Featured podcast: James M. Taylor: New EPA Ozone Regulations Along with the lack of positive effects, the new EPA ozone rules will be the costliest regulations in EPA history. Heartland’s H. Sterling Burnett and James M. Taylor talk about how the proposed regulations would impose more than $1,000 per year for each individual household in direct and indirect energy costs.  LISTEN TO MORE  

Heartland – A Great Nonprofit
If you love The Heartland Institute and its efforts on behalf of individual liberty and smaller government, tell the world! You have an opportunity to help us make even more of a difference. GreatNonprofits – a review site like TripAdvisor – honors highly reviewed nonprofits with its Top-Rated Awards. Won’t you help us raise visibility for our work by posting a review of your experience with us? All reviews will be visible to potential donors and volunteers. It’s easy and takes only 3 minutes! GET STARTED NOW

Dutch Doctors Withholding and Withdrawing Treatment from the Elderly Ken Artz, The Heartlander “It is no longer a sanctuary, but a house of horrors, where if you go in you might not come out because someone may decide you can’t come out,” said Twila Brase, president and cofounder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom. “Hospitals are becoming a scary place, and not for the usual reasons.”  READ MORE Uncovered: Wikipedia’s Leftist Ties And Its Censorship Of The Facts Justin Haskins, Western Journalism “I began to research the prominent website’s leadership. That endeavor revealed that despite the site’s claims of being a neutral source of information, many of those leading Wikipedia have intimate ties to far-left organizations or openly support liberal policies and candidates.”  READ MORE

Chipotle Backs Off GMO-free Claim Ken Artz, The Heartlander “They say that their meats are free of hormones, and they tout being a restaurant chain that uses only organic foods, but there’s not enough organic corn in the world to accomplish this promise,” said H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.  READ MORE Bonus Podcast: Moriah Costa: Protecting Student Privacy Managing Editor of School Reform News Heather Kays interviews Moriah Costa, an education reporter for Watchdog.org. Costa and Kays talk about student privacy and a recently introduced bill titled the “Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015.”  LISTEN TO MORE More Spending is Not The Answer to a Slow Economy Richard Ebeling, for Somewhat Reasonable “Old fallacies never seem to die, they just fade away to reemerge once again later on. One such fallacy is that if there is significant unemployment and slow economic growth it must be due to not enough consumer’ spending in the economy, what Keynesian economists call a ‘failure of aggregate demand.’”  READ MORE Tennessee Lawmakers Vote to Create Education Savings Accounts Jonathan Butcher, The Heartlander Advocates for educational freedom scored a victory in Tennessee. The Tennessee General Assembly voted to create Education Savings Accounts (ESA), which allow families to set aside funds to create customized educational plans to suit their children’s individual needs. If signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee would be just the fourth state to implement such a truly progressive law.  READ MORE Invest in the Future of Freedom!
Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make.

Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.  

Categories: On the Blog

Sens. Cornyn, Lankford Call for State ‘Healthcare Compact’ to Replace Obamacare

Somewhat Reasonable - May 15, 2015, 9:23 AM

Two top Republican Senators today called for a simple solution to the healthcare controversy created by Obamacare – a Constitutional compact among U.S. states.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) writing on FoxNews.com note that, to date, a Health Care Compact has been formally requested by 9 states – Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah. Several other states are mulling the idea.

“As Congress works towards solutions to the problems created by the top-down approach of Obamacare, we want to let states innovate to serve their citizens’ health care needs,” the Senators noted. “When the Supreme Court rules on King v. Burwell in favor of state responsibility, we want to let states innovate ways to serve their citizens’ health care.”

According to research by the Senators’ offices, interstate compacts have been used on more than 200 occasions to establish agreements between and among states.

“Mentioned in Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution, state compacts provide authority and flexibility to administer government programs without federal interference. In the Compact structure, federal health care tax money and responsibility is returned to a state when they expand their existing Healthcare Authority structure,” the Senators wrote. “Congressional consent is extended when states enter into a legally binding compact. It is similar to a multitude of other grants made by the federal government to states and local entities.”

As the Senators noted in their FoxNews.com piece, complexity “empowers big government,” simplicity supports local leadership solutions.

“Giving health care authority to states is simple and beneficial because they are able to enact accountability, efficiencies and tailor their system to fit the exact needs of their population. One size does not fit all – Obamacare proves that. The health challenges and population needs of Vermont or California are not the same as Texas or Oklahoma,” the Senators noted. “What is needed is clear legislation that affirms the right of states to compact with one another to return authority for health care regulation to states that choose to participate.”

Categories: On the Blog

Russian Company Buys Majority Interest in American Uranium Mine. Why it Matters

Somewhat Reasonable - May 15, 2015, 8:46 AM

It was reported by Johathan Allen of Vox, that according to an International Business Times investigation “at  least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Departmentwhen Hillary Clinton ran the place”, and “Bill Clinton accepted more than $2.5 million in speaking fees from 13 major corporation and trade associations that lobbied the U.S. State Department while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

Peter Schweizer’s book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich”, likewise offers a tough view of the Clinton Foundation.  Noted in Schweizer’s book is how the Clinton Foundation is not a “traditional charity” in that the delineation is not clear where the Clinton political machines and moneymaking ventures end and where charity begins.  Although the Clinton Foundation does some good like preventing obesity, alleviating AIDS suffering, the Foundation functions mostly as a middleman.

Kazakhstan/Roatom/Uranium One

Consider the Kazakhstan dealings where in 2005 Bill Clinton presented himself as an ambassador for low-cost treatment of HIV/AIDs.  Although Kazakhstan was a strange place to focus such an effort given infection rates were very low, Kazakhstan did have plenty of uranium.  It so happened that a Canadian company, Uranium One, with little experience in the uranium business, led by a generous Clinton donor, gained a lucrative state in Kazakhstan’s uranium mines.  As a result of transactions beginning in 2009, the Russian state-owned atomic agency, Rosatom, bought a 17% share in Uranium One, which had uranium mines in Wyoming.  This deal required the approval of a number of the U.S. agencies including the State Department under the title of CFIUS (Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States), a small executive task force that evaluates investment transactions by foreign companies in the United States.  The deal was approved in 2010 while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  It allowed  Russia, specifically ARMZ an arm of Rosatom, to begin the process of gaining total control of Uranium One in 2013.  Senator John Barrosso of Wyoming and several congressmen did raise concerns about this deal.

Meanwhile, donations to The Clinton Foundation were received by investors in Uranium One between 2005 and 2010.  In addition, Bill Clinton received half million dollars in 2010 for a single speech in Moscow from a Kremlin affiliated bank.

What can be worse than allowing a Russian company to buy a majority interest in a Uranium mine on American soil in exchange for millions of dollars?   It sounds like a 007 movie with Comrade Putin playing Mr. Evil who wishes to control the world’s Uranium.  Why is Putin so interested in Russia being the largest producer of Uranium?  Do the American people understand the full extend of the deal?  We’re talking about URANIUM!

Uranium as a source of nuclear energy

Uranium is a chemical element found in most rocks in concentrations of 2 to 4 ppm (parts per million).  Uranium sources are most abundant in Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan.  Other countries fairly rich in Uranium are Russia, USA, South Africa, Namibia, Niger, Brazil and Ukraine. Uranium is present in nature as three different isotopes:  U 238, the most abundant (over 99%); U 235 (0.7%); and U 234 (traces).  U 235 is the isotope that is fissile, that is, its atoms can split while releasing energy.  While U 238 is not fissile; it is “fertile”, that is, when bombarded with neutrons it can become Pu 239 (Plutonium) which is fissile.

Scientists can either enrich Uranium sources so as to obtain larger amounts of U 235 or use U 238 to produce Pu 239.  Either way nuclear energy is obtained.  The latter method uses a breeder reactor.  Both can be used for producing electricity and radioisotopes, as well as atomic weapons.  For atomic weapons the Uranium 235 and Plutonium 239 must be enriched over 90%.   In a nuclear reactor, the fission chain reaction can be controlled to create enough heat to produce steam which spins a turbine to drive a generator, producing electricity.  Several countries in the world use nuclear reactors for over 30% of their electricity. European countries using nuclear energy are  Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

Of note is that Russia currently provides natural gas to Western Europe via its company Gazprom, set up in 1989 as the first “private” company with the state controlling over fifty per cent of shares.  Gazprom controls one-fifth of world gas reserves and supplies over 25% of natural gas used by European countries.

Connecting the dots

Putin plays the game much better than Obama.  Putin made his career and honed his deceitfulness when serving in the KGB. He understands that he who controls energy and nuclear weapons controls the world.  Energy is the blood of a country; it gives life and movement; it commands its economy and its national security.  Countries that depend on other countries for its energy can easily become subservient and powerless to direct their own destiny.  Not only can Putin take over Ukraine (rich in Uranium mines) but it’s now possible for Putin to blackmail the USA with his capacity to export Uranium to Iran. The deal with Rosatom has given Russia control of about one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the United States.

In that Hillary Clinton failed to abide by the terms of a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding with the Obama administration in which she promised to publicly disclose all donors to the Clinton Foundation to avoid possible conflicts of interest, she now finds herself facing questions over the Uranium One-ARMZ transaction [As clarification: AtomRedMetZoloto is a Russian uranium mining company, wholly owned by Atomenergoprom, a part of Rosatom.]. Although Hillary Clinton claims to have had no influence on the CFIUS approval process of the Uranium One-ARMZ transaction, she now finds herself in a position where she is being asked to prove that she was not beholden to Uranium One executives for donations made to the Clinton Foundation prior to the CFIUS approval of the sale of their business to Russian government-owned Rosatom.

Is Bribery of U.S. a possibility by Putin?

The proof of Hillary’s innocence or guilt rests in the hands of Vladimir Putin who may be the only person in the world with the legal right to authorize the release of classified documents that could exonerate Hillary Clinton when serving as Secretary of State.  Not only can Putin take over Ukraine (rich in Uranium mines) but is able to blackmail the USA with his capacity to export Uranium to Iran.  Rosatom had given Russia control of about one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the United States.

The fact that even liberal outlets such as the NYT and the Washington Post are taking Schweizer’s book seriously indicates that the information revealed is not partisan in nature, but instead should concern all Americans regardless of political affiliation.

An investigation is warranted, but will it be forthcoming?  Peggy Noonan had this to say in an Opinion piece in the WSJ on May 7th:  “I suspect she [Hillary] can because the Clintons are unique in the annals of American politics: They are protected from charges of corruption by their reputation for corruption.”

Does this nation now have a criminal justice system in which the rich and famous now skirt free of punishment, even when there seems to be sufficient smoke to indicate possible fire.  I hope not!  The rule of law, executed as fairly as possible, is important to maintaining a civil society, without which distrust and anarchy results.

Public trust and integrity must count for something. The 2016 election is important for it will determine this nation’s fate. Will the “great experiment” set forth by our Founding Fathers survive, or will the American people abandon the Constitution to live under a system of government where freedom and liberty are in short order?

Categories: On the Blog

Making Celebrities into Climate Change Experts

Somewhat Reasonable - May 14, 2015, 3:14 PM

The media is looking for scientists in all the wrong places.

Celebrities are, frequently, looked to as a source of wisdom, their only qualification for advice being the ability to obtain continued employment  in the entertainment industry. Women shell out hundreds, if not thousands, for cosmetics and clothing worn by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow; product placement in movies and on television is a multi-million dollar industry.

But while celebrities might be well-placed to instruct on how to dress with an inflated budget and how to stay young forever with the help of expensive creams and plastic surgery, their expertise on matters of biology and climatology might be less reliable. So how do celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and James Cameron gain credibility as influential environmentalists while collecting frequent flier miles and stocking garages with unnecessary vehicles?

The media.

As the Media Research Center pointed out this week, mainstream media outlets often give celebrities the benefit of the doubt, accepting their claims as fact even when the claims are outrageous, ignoring their carbon-emitting lifestyles, and elevating them to an almost-infallible status typically reserved for religious figures (though, to be fair, the left has also taken to elevating religious figures to the status of superheroes when they “get it right” on climate change).

The media should take the MRC’s suggestions: Treat celebrities pontificating on science the way you’d treat a scientist pontificating on hair products, and instead, give the time you’d spend excoriating their greatness to investigating their outrageous ideas.

Categories: On the Blog

Daniel Hannan MEP: How the Left’s hatred devoured its own election campaign | Conservative Home

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - May 14, 2015, 2:24 PM
Daniel Hannan is an MEP for South-East England, and a journalist, author and broadcaster. His most recent book is How we invented Freedom and why it…

Heartland Daily Podcast – Moriah Costa: Protecting Student Privacy

Blog - Education - May 14, 2015, 12:30 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of School Reform News Heather Kays speaks with Moriah Costa. Costa is an education reporter for Watchdog.org. Costa and Kays talk about student privacy and a recently introduced bill titled “the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015.”

The bill, introduced on April 29 by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), aims to address student data and parental rights concerns. Kays and Costa also talk about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) and the revamping of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

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

Heartland Daily Podcast – Moriah Costa: Protecting Student Privacy

Somewhat Reasonable - May 14, 2015, 12:30 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of School Reform News Heather Kays speaks with Moriah Costa. Costa is an education reporter for Watchdog.org. Costa and Kays talk about student privacy and a recently introduced bill titled “the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015.”

The bill, introduced on April 29 by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), aims to address student data and parental rights concerns. Kays and Costa also talk about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) and the revamping of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

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

Categories: On the Blog

‘E-Psychonauts’ Getting High on Drugs Not Yet Regulated by Feds

Somewhat Reasonable - May 14, 2015, 9:51 AM

A leading psychiatry journal reports in its most recent issue that underground drug users are experimenting with novel, psychoactive substances, sold exclusively online, before they are deemed “controlled substances” by the feds and other regulatory authorities.

These so-called “e-psychonauts” evade legal sanction for experimenting with psychoactive substances, including synthetic cannabinoids, cathinone derivatives, psychedelic disassociatives, novel stimulants, synthetic opioids, and herbs and plants, according to the journal, World Psychiatry.

In an article entitled, Novel psychoactive substances of interest for psychiatry, the authors, Fabrizio Schifano, et al, indicate that users are “typically attracted by these substances due to their intense psychoactive effects and likely lack of detection in routine drug screenings.”

The drugs work on a range of the brain’s neurotransmitter pathways, whose imbalance has been associated by medicine with psychopathological conditions, according to the report.

“In parallel with a stabilization (decrease) of the use of internationally controlled drugs, the market for novel psychoactive substances is on the rise year-on-year,” the authors note. “The diffusion of these substances has been identified in 94 countries with some 5% of 19-24 year-old Europeans having already experimented with them. The Web plays a major role in shaping this unregulated market.”

Novel psychoactive substances are psychotropic drugs which are not controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other regulatory authorities overseas who are parties to the U.N. narcotic and psychotropic drug conventions, or treaties, from 1961 and 1971.

The term “psychonaut” was coined during the 1970s, and is defined as one who experiments with drugs to explore altered states of consciousness. The “e,” for electronic, was added by the authors of the World Psychiatry article to the word “psychonaut” to identify the electronic, Internet-based nature of the trend. The drugs used by these consumers are considered “legal highs,” until regulators ban them, and government regulators are struggling to keep up with the new designer drugs, which users find online by typing “substance keywords” on Google and searching through posts and threads. As soon as regulators designate a drug as illegal, underground chemists alter its molecular design, market the new product, with a slightly different name, online, and evade legal sanctions.

Categories: On the Blog

The Most Important Obamacare Case You’ve Never Heard Of

Somewhat Reasonable - May 14, 2015, 9:31 AM

While the nation eagerly awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling in King v. Burwell, a case brought by an unknown Pennsylvania tax collector has quietly made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and has the potential to end President Barack Obama’s most important piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

Like countless others, Jeffrey Cutler, currently the tax collector of East Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania, received a notice from his health insurance company in October 2013 that indicated his plan did not qualify for renewal under the rules established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Cutler, who had been enrolled in the same plan since 2007, was satisfied with his coverage and did not want to switch to what he considered to be an inferior plan offered through the government-run health insurance exchange.

Facing significant political pressure from Republicans and Americans who had lost their insurance plans, Obama announced a “transition policy” in November 2013 that promised to allow individuals to temporarily keep their health insurance plans even if they otherwise would not qualify for renewal under the ACA. However, the transition plan was not applied universally; state governments had the authority to decide whether or not to allow their own citizens to keep their plans.

Rules established by Pennsylvania state officials made it possible for Cutler to keep his plan, but only if his insurance company agreed. His insurance company did not, and Cutler lost his insurance on January 1, 2014. He has been without health insurance since.

Representing himself, Cutler filed suit on December 31, 2013, alleging Obamacare violates his constitutional rights on two counts. First, Cutler says the Obama administration’s transition policy, also known as the “administrative fix,” violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee to equal protection under the law. Because every state was given the authority by the federal government to apply the administrative fix differently, Obamacare did not exist equally in every state. If Cutler had been a citizen of Arkansas, a state that required insurance companies to continue covering what the ACA determined to be non-compliant plans, he would have been able to keep his health insurance.

Cutler’s second argument is Obamacare violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. According to Cutler, who is Jewish—a religion that is not exempt from Obamacare mandates—federal agencies under Obamacare unfairly give certain religious groups the freedom to avoid having compliant health insurance plans without paying a penalty. By making this exception, Obamacare clearly favors some religious groups over others.

The federal government filed a motion for dismissal in U.S. District Court claiming Cutler lacked proper standing. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted the dismissal, and Cutler appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which has agreed to hear the case. Oral arguments were presented on May 12.

Cutler is now represented by constitutional lawyers David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, and he’s confident his case will eventually take down Obamacare.

“My case is a full blown frontal attack on the constitutionality of the law,” said Cutler. “Many of the cases are about minute parts of the law. King v. Burwell is about five words. Hobby Lobby’s suit was largely about contraception. My case strikes at the heart of Obamacare and the administrative fix that was unconstitutionally applied after ACA’s passage.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed suit on behalf of his state in July 2014 alleging similar claims.

“My letter to the attorney general of [West Virginia] seems to have resulted in them also challenging the law on the same point,” said Cutler.

“I think Jeffrey Cutler is correct—his First Amendment rights, and probably those of many other people, may have been violated under the ACA,” said Kenneth Artz, a research fellow specializing in health care at The Heartland Institute. “This is not unexpected considering Obama’s massive health care reform bill is the most complex piece of legislation in the history of the world.”

Regardless of what the D.C. Court of Appeals decides, Cutler says he expects his case to eventually be heard by the Supreme Court.

No matter what becomes of Cutler’s case, his arguments raise important questions about the federal government’s authority to create laws and regulations that are applied unequally. While it’s true the signers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights did not intend for religion to be shoved out of the public sphere, they absolutely were concerned about the federal government favoring one religious group over another, and they also feared certain states, especially the more wealthy and powerful states, being treated differently than others.

It’s within this context that the Constitution was agreed upon, and Cutler’s case directly addresses these same concerns. If federal authorities can pick particular groups based on religion or geography to exempt from federal law, then our national laws are, by definition, not truly national and not equally applied.

The only question now is: Will the courts agree, or will they allow the power of the executive branch to continue to expand beyond what anyone in 1789, when the Constitution was implemented, believed was possible under the law?

 [Originally Published at Townhall.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Marita Noon: Morano & Burnett on Vatican Climate Conference

Somewhat Reasonable - May 13, 2015, 3:52 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in to America’s Voice for Energy with host Marita Noon. In this segment, Noon is joined by Heartland Policy Advisor Marc Morano and Research Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. They discuss, among other environment related topics, The Heartland Institute’s recent trip to the Vatican climate conference.

In the first half of the podcast, Morano describes the events surrounding the conference in Rome. He talks about conference and Heartland’s rebuttal. In the second half, H. Sterling Burnett joins Noon to discuss the implications of the Pope’s impeding encyclical.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Reform of State Regulations Increases Patient Access to Medical Care

Somewhat Reasonable - May 13, 2015, 12:07 PM

Providence Alaska Medical Center (PAMC) this week submitted its amended Certificate of Need (CON) application following an injunction secured by its rival, Alaska Regional Hospital, in state court.

A Certificate of Need – like the one at issue in Alaska — is an increasingly controversial regulatory requirement in 36 U.S. states. The rules prevent hospitals from expanding their facilities, or opening new ones, without the permission of state regulators, and rival healthcare corporations.

“These laws, which require government permission before a facility can expand, offer a new service, or purchase certain pieces of equipment, were enacted in the belief that restricting entry would lower health care costs and increase availability of these services to the poor,” notes the Mercatus Center, a free-market think tank at the George Mason University, in its new website, dedicated to CON reform.

In its amended application, the medical center seeks to reemphasize a local market need for 14 additional Emergency Department (ED) treatment rooms, for example. Currently, the center is the largest hospital facility in Alaska, but still needs to grow to accommodate market conditions there.

According to recent research, these CON regulations do little to increase access to health care for the poor, but they do limit the availability of such health care services. The first state to implement a CON law was New York in 1964.

States with these onerous laws report fewer beds for patients, fewer magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests offered to patients, and a lower-than-would-be-expected number of computed tomography (CT) scans provided for patients. Reforming the laws – removing the CON requirement – will increase access to medical care.

“These regulations were initially enacted under the theory that unregulated market competition would drive medical providers to overinvest in facilities and equipment, raising the cost of medical care,” the Mercatus Center web site states.

FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:

https://medium.com/@mercatus/how-state-certificate-of-need-con-laws-impact-access-to-health-care-b8d3ec84242f

Categories: On the Blog

Worse Than Government-Caused Uncertainty? Certainty the Government is Against You

Somewhat Reasonable - May 13, 2015, 11:59 AM

Without investment, everything economic collapses. Stasis is death. We must constantly create and innovate to move forward our massive $14-trillion-per-year economy. That takes lots and lots and LOTS of speculative capital.

Without certain certainties, investment collapses. If investors don’t have any reasonable idea what’s going to happen in a market – they won’t invest in that market.

That is not to say guarantees. Investing is – in the best of circumstances – extraordinarily risky. Investors know this. They are risk takers by nature – thank God. Without them, their copious coin – and their intestinal fortitude – everything economic collapses.

What we absolutely do not need is government artificially creating all manner of additional uncertainties. Sadly, that is inherently what government does.

Regulation-compliance-costs waste investment capital. Unilateral regulation – when the Executive Branch bypasses the Legislative Branch and its process and rewrites and superimposes laws all by its onesies – creates tremendous uncertainty. And with it tremendous loss of investment.

Because if the economic landscape can be fundamentally altered on a whim – by the wave of a hand and the stroke of a pen – those looking to invest will instead head for the hills.

The examples are legion – and often legendary.

10,000 Commandments

Federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.

How Over-Regulation Hurts Us – Some Eye-Popping Numbers

Regulation: The Bite is Worse than the Bark

Regulatory Uncertainty Is Largest Barrier To Energy Investment

Net Neutrality Will Slow Investments

Bank Regs Hurt Investors

Land Regulation Will Hurt Investment

And on, and on, and…

Sometimes this is the expressed intent of those in governmental power. Remember these promises from now-President Barack Obama?

Under my plan…electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.

So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can – it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

That’s certainly investment-friendly.

Often the intent is just as malicious – but obfuscated. Remember this promise from now-President Obama?

We’ll work to reduce (health insurance) premiums by $2,500 per family per year.

After our premiums necessarily skyrocketed, we learned from ObamaCare architect and accidental video star Jonathan Gruber that they all along knew it would increase premiums by 19-30 percent. In many instances, it’s been much higher than even that. And there are more, even larger increases on the way.

There are many, many, MANY ways this money could be better spent.

Often uncertainty and its resulting loss of investment is – if we’re giving the benefit of the doubt – an accidental government by-product. They mean well, but their government actions end up squelching speculative coin.

For instance – behold the woefully misnamed Innovation Act. Which harms what it claims to want to help. Yet another government “Oops.”

‘Innovation Act’ Will Stifle Innovation

For investors in technology start-ups, things are about to get much more complex and dangerous….

(T)his bill actually will kill investment and innovation….

The American patent, so indispensable to technology start-ups, is about to be rendered useless when faced with an infringer of disproportionate size….

President Obama, known to be tight with Google, has said he will sign it. Google and other mega-corporations will be pleased.

Big Government and Big Business love it. The Little Guys – not so much.

The Innovation Act Would Hurt Inventors Like Me, And Thousands Of Others

(T)he Innovation Act threatens American inventors, particularly individual inventors and those working at small businesses and startups….

What do all of these inventors need to create and innovate? Investment. Which the government is poised to fundamentally undermine.

When the ability for investors to get a return on said investment is legislated away – they’ll head for the hills. And take their copious coin – and our hopes for future creation, innovation and economic expansion – with them.

Of that we can all be most certain.

[Originally published at Red State]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Stupid-Strategy Sweepstakes: Home Depot vs. Lowe’s

Somewhat Reasonable - May 13, 2015, 11:25 AM

Both of the nation’s retail hardware behemoths, Home Depot and Lowe’s, recently sold out to activists in ways that are the corporate equivalent of a dog’s putting his tail between his legs and slinking away from a bully. Home Depot announced that by the end of this year it will stop selling vinyl flooring that contains a class of chemicals called phthalates. It described the move as an effort to “continually challenge our suppliers to develop new, innovative options for our customers.” Baloney. What the company did was abandon both science and its customers under pressure from the activist group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which sponsors the “Mind the Store” campaign that has been strong-arming retailers to remove safe, useful, and affordable products from shelves.

Determined not to lag in the Stupid-Strategy Sweepstakes, Lowe’s announced not only that it will follow Home Depot’s lead on phthalates, but also that it will phase out the sale of products that contain neonicotinoid pesticides — which are widely used on turf and ornamental products as well as on corn and soybean seeds — supposedly because of their adverse effects on pollinators. “Lowe’s will include greater organic and non-neonic product selections, work with growers to eliminate the use of neonic pesticides on bee-attractive plants it sells and educate customers and employees through in-store and online resources,” the company said.

The people who need education are the ones at Lowe’s who decided to phase out “neonics” to protect bees. Contrary to oft-repeated claims, honeybee populations are not declining. According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization statistics, the world’s honeybee population rose to 80 million colonies in 2011 from 50 million in 1960. In the U.S. and Europe, honeybee populations have been stable (or even rising slightly over the past couple of years) during the two decades since neonics were introduced, according to U.N. and USDA data. Statistics Canada reports an increase to 672,000 honeybee colonies in Canada, up from 501,000, over the same two decades.

When retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s capitulate to pressure groups rather than stand up for science, they actually harm consumers. Products won’t become any safer, while the replacements will often be of inferior quality, more expensive, or, most likely, both. The European experience with neonics illustrates the flaw in Lowe’s reasoning: The EU’s politically motivated ban on neonics, which began in 2013, has forced farmers to resort to older, more toxic, less effective pesticides — primarily pyrethroids, which had been largely phased out. Moreover, European farmers are now seeing a resurgence of insect predation, and insect infestations may lead to a 15 percent drop in this year’s European harvest of canola, the continent’s primary source of the vegetable oil used in food and as biodiesel.

Home Depot and Lowe’s aren’t responding to “consumer demand” or being environmentally responsible; they are simply seeking the path of least resistance, knowing consumers are unlikely to protest much when their floors become marginally more expensive or somewhat less durable, or when they need to shift to alternative pest-control products. They just want to get the pesky activists off their backs.

Market forces actually work; if the replacement products that activists want us to use were better, cheaper, or safer, we’d use them without a pressure campaign directed at retailers. And if the original products were actually harming consumers, zealous regulators (and the plaintiffs’ bar) would have acted. When activists can’t get their way via science, regulation, or litigation, they resort to propagandistic tactics like this one.

History tells us that the approach works — for the activists. These campaigns for what have been dubbed “regrettable substitutions” — substitutions that have undesirable outcomes — have become standard operating procedure. Activists thump their chests, get their way, and go on to raise more money to fund the next campaign. Companies give in to avoid negative press, and cast their cowardice as corporate social responsibility.

It’s not as if consumers benefit when big retailers, under pressure, remove popular products. Consumers who, for whatever reason, want phthalate-free floors or BPA-free bottles already have choices. There are no shortages of so-called “green” products available — for a price. But a small group of vocal activists shouldn’t dictate the availability of safe products the rest of us want — simply because stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s want to avoid confrontation with groups that are in the business of confrontation.

This is part of a pattern. The “Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families” bullies have a track record of spreading misleading information about the safety profile of chemicals in products that benefit consumers. Their baseless fear-mongering plays to the psychological phenomenon of “loss aversion,” in which people perceive the pain of loss more than they do the pleasure of gain. Their junk science has targeted a wide range of chemicals, including those found in cleaning supplies, furniture, children’s toys, food packaging, water bottles, and even commonly used food ingredients.

If the Home Depots and Lowe’s of the world continue to cave to these campaigns, consumers will be the losers. Activists will consign us to a life of more expensive products that aren’t safer or better. And inevitably, other activists will attack the replacement chemicals — the regrettable substitutions — for their risks, real or imaginary. There will be plenty of regrets for everyone, except the activists.

 

[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – James M. Taylor: New EPA Ozone Regulations

Somewhat Reasonable - May 12, 2015, 2:18 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett speaks with Senior Fellow James M. Taylor. Taylor and Burnett discuss the EPA’s proposed updated ozone regulations.

Taylor notes that current rules already protect public health and the new rules will neither save lives nor prevent illness. Along with the lack of positive effects, the new rules will be the costliest regulations in EPA history. The proposed regulations would impose more than $1,000 per year for each individual household in direct and indirect energy costs. The ozone rule is a prime example of the EPA’s use of selective scientific data to expand its mission and grow its budget.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Now is Not the Time to Hike State Taxes on Oil and Gas Industry

Somewhat Reasonable - May 12, 2015, 11:52 AM

In response to significantly lower oil and natural gas prices, America’s energy sector is retrenching rapidly.  The drilling rig count has dropped by more than 50 percent over the past year, while companies large and small have announced sizeable layoffs and cuts in their capital budgets for 2015 and 2016.  Nonetheless, several states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, are considering imposing or hiking production taxes—called severance taxes—on oil and gas operators.  These increases will be in neither the public’s nor the industry’s best interests.

Governors and state legislators should keep in mind that in today’s competitive environment, producers in their states are simply “price takers.”  What this means is that any factor increasing the marginal cost of production, such as new or higher severance taxes, will put that state’s operators at a competitive disadvantage.  The result will be lower production today and diminished investment in the future.

What’s more, as the experience of Texas and other energy producing states has demonstrated over the years, severance taxes are not dependable revenue sources because they rise and fall with changes in output and price.  With prices for oil and natural gas expected to remain low for an extended period, their contribution to total state revenues is likely to be quite small and not enough to offset any sizeable cuts in other taxes.  In addition, it’s never good public policy to increase the tax burden one specific industry as opposed to imposing or hiking taxes generally across all industries. 

It’s not as though oil and gas producers aren’t already paying more than their fair share of taxes and fees to state and local governments.  Aside from severance taxes, all producers pay state sales taxes on equipment purchases as well as some servicing activities.  Most producers are also subject to state income or gross receipts taxes, and some states impose impact fees on each well drilled.  At the local level, oil and gas companies pay property taxes on their operating equipment and reserves.

In addition to the taxes paid directly by oil and gas operators, working interest owners must report payments received for state income tax purposes.  Landowners with royalty interests in oil and gas wells must pay severance taxes on their individual shares of production even as their net income falls in today’s price climate, further reducing revenues to the state.

The oil and gas renaissance has been a boon for states with shale plays, bringing with it heightened levels of economic development, jobs and tax revenue.  For the shale boom to continue in the face of lower prices, tax and regulatory policies must remain accommodative.  If a state imposes new or higher severance tax rates in today’s low price environment, the result will be fewer jobs in an already distressed industry and diminished prospects for future investment when prices rebound.

[Originally published at The Hill]

 

Categories: On the Blog
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