On the Blog

A Bad Bill + Crony Socialism = An Even Worse Bill

Somewhat Reasonable - July 01, 2015, 1:59 PM

The Barack Obama Administration is – even more than any of its predecessors – the Crony Socialism Administration.

No prior presidency has used and abused government to do more for its friends – and more to its friends’ competitors – than has this one.

When Private Companies Beg for Government Favors – It’s Crony Socialism

Crony Socialism: When Private Sector Losers Turn to Big Government

Solyndra, General Motors and Wall Street: Obama Crony Socialism on Parade 

Green Scam: 80% of Green Energy Loans Went to Obama Donors

General Motors: Another Crony Socialist Welfare Office 

‘Most Transparent Ever?’ Behold the FCC’s Secret, Crony Socialist Meetings

More Crony Socialism from the Obama Administration?

The default answer to that last question is “But of course.”

Almost certainly the Administration’s Best Crony – is Google.

Currently in Power – The Google Administration

Barack Obama and Google – Crony Socialism on Steroids

All of which begs (at least) a couple of questions. Why would Congressional Republicans want to thus emulate this Administration – and does Google really need even more Big Government assistance?

Some Elephants bizarrely seem to think the answer to the latter is  – “But of course.”

Obama Urges Patent Reform 

Google Public Policy Blog: Patent Reform Needed More Than Ever

Google Leverages Patent Reform for Crony Ends 

Patent Reform Bill Is The Law According To Google

Can anything be called “reform” – if it’s creating even more Big Government Cronyism? For one of the biggest Cronies going?

Congress has yet another way to build in even more Cronyism for even more Cronies – the legislative amendment process. Thankfully, there are some objecting.

CBM Amendment To The Innovation Act Defeated In House Judiciary Committee

(O)nce again Cong. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced an amendment to extend the (Covered Business Method) CBM program, which is set to expire in 2020…. 

The (American Banking Association) ABA Banking Journal described the defeated amendment as an “ABA-supported amendment to extend the Covered Business Method program….

The committee defeated Issa’s amendment by a 18 to 13 vote….

There should be as many objections as there are Crony amendments. 

Pharma Pushing IPR Carve-Out in House

The drug industry is circulating a sign-on letter to build support for exempting drugs from a streamlined patent challenge process…. 

A companion bill in the Senate, the PATENT Act, doesn’t include the carve-out either, but key senators have pledged to continue working with the industry before that legislation advances to the floor for a vote.

“Key Senators” should pledge to not do any such thing.

We’ve had a lot of warped impositions of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment “equal protection” clause. Creating different law for different patent types would be yet another – and should be avoided like the plague.

Thankfully, Congressman Bob Goodlatte recently said at a hearing that he didn’t want to turn his Innovation Act into a Crony carve-out fest. Excellent on him.

But the Congressman’s bill is too big, too far-reaching – too much government. If the bill is too much government for some – hence their requests for exemptions – it is too much government…period.

See: ObamaCare.

ObamaCare and Crony Capitalism: Is Washington Engineering an Insurance Industry Bailout?

Obama Exempts Unions From ObamaCare Fee 

Pelosi’s District Gets 20% of Latest ObamaCare Waivers

ObamaCare Has Become ‘Crony Care’ for Pals 

ObamaCare’s Crony Capitalism: Worse than We Thought

The solution is – Less Government. A patent reform bill that is thus actual reform.

Fortunately – there are already two.

TROL Act

This is not fundamental transformation. It specifically reforms demand letter abuse – without total system disruption. 

It gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to deal with bad demand letter writers – on an a la carte basis. The FTC examines each case as it comes – rather then preemptive, all-encompassing legislation where every single patent holder trying to protect their intellectual property is assumed to be acting in bad faith.

And that’s about it. With DC – less is almost always more….

Strong Act

This isn’t fundamental transformation either. It reforms demand letter abuse – and cleans up some previous DC mistakes. 

The last patent reform bill – the America Invents Act – established overly broad standards for when and how patents can be challenged at the patent office. This bill tightens them.

And it uses the TROL Act language that ends abusive demand letters.

A lot of time and effort can be saved by not trying to amend a bad, too-much-government bill – and instead going with a ready-to-go, less government, equal-protection, Cronyism-free good one.

It would be an incredibly refreshing change of D.C. pace.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

How The Power Elite Prejudiced The Pope’s Climate Change Encyclical

Somewhat Reasonable - July 01, 2015, 12:10 PM

Among all the hallelujahs and groans about Pope Francis and his highly politicized climate change encyclical Laudato Si’, there’s scant mention of who actually formulated its core content. It wasn’t the Holy Father.

This is no disrespect to Pope Francis; nobody pretends that he produced the 127-page, 245-paragraph document alone. The ten Pontifical Academies have multitudes of honorary experts available, plus many other advisers. German climate scientist Hans Schellnhuber, widely celebrated as “the Vatican’s atheist adviser,” was just another honorary expert. In January, Catholic historian Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C., said of an early draft he received that “the Vatican seems to be consulting widely and may incorporate some of the pointed feedback in the final text.”

Later, Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, convened a workshop of Vatican officials and 60 high-level contributors: 20 science, business, diplomatic, and development experts; 20 religious leaders; and 20 academicians, according to the resulting document, The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

The document set the agenda for the April 28 “Pope’s Climate Summit,” hosted by Sánchez Sorondo (Francis did not attend) at Casina Pio IV, a patrician villa in Vatican City now housing several of the Pontifical Academies.

The co-host and moderator chosen by Sánchez Sorondo for the summit stunned the Catholic world: economist Jeffrey Sachs, arguably the world’s foremost proponent of population control using abortion as a way to reduce fertility. The shock came after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon gave the opening address and was followed by his long-time Special Advisor and Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Sachs. No one mentioned that Sánchez Sorondo is a member of the Network’s Leadership Council, which oversees Sachs’ projects. That would have sparked outrage.

After introductory speeches, Sachs formed the experts into four panels that he moderated for the rest of the day:

Panel 1: “Technical Aspects” (evidence on social exclusion and climate);
Panel 2: “Justice and Responsibility” (leading representatives from the major religions);
Panel 3: “Practical aspects from local to global” (proposed solutions); and
Panel 4: “Eliminate Human Trafficking and Resettle its Victims” / “Next Steps Towards Sustainable Development”.

The scientists and religious leaders ended by adopting a declaration for the pope that supported the theory that human activity is changing the Earth’s climate. According to a critical report by Catholic attorney Stefano Gennarini, the declaration’s authors did not see the accompanying background note that went to the pope. It had a Vatican emblem at the head and added the world’s population as a problem. Sachs was listed as an author.

All then waited to see what stamp they had impressed upon the Encyclical of Pope Francis.

In June, when Catholic historian Robert Royal saw the published Encyclical, he noted that “the Holy Father follows what may fairly be called some of the more extreme environmental views.” Royal found it particularly odd that the Pope’s whole message was coiled around “sustainable development,” a Big Green phrase that can mean anything, but advocates see it as implying population containment. As Royal put it, “Almost any human activity can be categorized as ‘unsustainable,’ from using fossil fuels to having babies.”

Sustainability ideology made it into the encyclical, almost point for point, from the failing theory that climate change is a crisis, to massive wealth transfer from rich countries to poor, to rapid replacement of fossil fuels, to ending national sovereignty in favor of central global governance. It seemed designed for December’s United Nations Climate Conference in Paris.

Sachs and the summit cohort evidently prevailed. Who is this Sachs? He is Columbia University Professor of Sustainable Development. He is Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. His money machines include the Millennium Villages Project, operating 102 “sustainable” villages in 10 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, a joint effort of his Earth Institute, the United Nations Development Programme, and his Millennium Promise Alliance. The Alliance is a support network launched and nourished with $75 million from notorious billionaire George Soros.

Heartland Institute research found that Sachs’ Earth Institute received 65 percent of its 2014 revenue from governments and his Alliance gets millions from America’s sustainabiity elite. Between 2005 and 2013, it received 126 grants from 38 prominent foundations – including Bill Gates’ Microsoft billions and the celebrity-packed Entertainment Industry Foundation – totaling $45,067,242.

Sachs was blasted by law professors Brian Scarnecchia and Terrence McKeegan with the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute in a study titled, The Millennium Development Goals In Light of Catholic Social Teaching.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are eight save-the-world goals adopted in the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000, some irreconcilably hostile to Catholic teachings. Jeffrey Sachs was the lead architect of the MDGs and engineered the inclusion of “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” over and against objections from the Holy See and the United States. Sach’s Earth Institute now oversees the implementation of the MDGs.

Francis did not countenance these direct challenges to the Faith. In paragraphs 119 and 120, he pushed Sachs away: “Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures” and “concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.” Yet the Pope included the core of Big Green’s sustainability ideology, as if unaware of its implications. However, close analysis suggests all of Laudato Si’ was the sincere personal message of Pope Francis himself. And how will that play out in politics?

One Catholic put it in a nutshell: “Catholics are required to believe abortion is wrong. We’re not required to believe in Global Warming.”

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Julie Kelly: The Sorry State of the Healthy, Hunger-Free School Act

Somewhat Reasonable - July 01, 2015, 10:17 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Julie Kelly, a food writer in Orland Park, Ill., joins managing editor Kenneth Artz to talk about the state of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the well-intentioned signature policy of First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Mounting evidence suggests that the law may not be serving either end as complaints about inedible meals, food waste and misspent funds mount. The cost of the program has ballooned and students are not satisfied with the change of menu. Kelly breaks down the school lunch program and explains how bad the situation really is.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Will Governor Kasich and Ohio Dump PARCC?

Somewhat Reasonable - July 01, 2015, 10:04 AM

The Ohio Legislature sent a proposed state budget to Gov. John Kasich (R). The budget does not include funding for the Common Core-aligned tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Kasich has the power of line-item veto in Ohio. He is a staunch supporter of the Common Core State Standards. There is no indication yet on whether he will sign the section defunding PARCC.

Kasich’s school funding change was defeated as reported by The Columbus Dispatch:

The governor’s move to eliminate funding guarantees for public schools and base state funding on their ability to raise taxes locally also was largely dismantled, with the House and Senate ensuring that no district loses state aid.

Education Week also reports that the final budget language was changed, with the phrase “nationally normed, standardized assessments” eliminated.

Kasich will answer the question on dumping or keeping PARCC soon enough.

UPDATE: Kasich signed the budget bill and allowed PARCC elimination to stand. Ohio is now officially out of PARCC.

Categories: On the Blog

French Fear ‘Lack of Will’ For U.N. Climate Change Pact This Fall

Somewhat Reasonable - June 30, 2015, 8:52 PM

Eco-catastrophe coming for UN?

The U.N.’s climate change treaty talks are being imperiled by a “lack of political will” among government leaders around the globe, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on Monday.

Fabius and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon spoke to journalists after a high-level negotiation session, setting the scene for the COP 21 talks in Paris this fall.

Moon complained that the agenda-setting discussion of foreign ministers was moving at a “snail’s pace” and that only “10 days” were left on the U.N. calendar to decide the issues that will merit Paris-level discussion.

“Key political issues” were “still undecided,” Moon said.

Moon said many heads of state had not given their ministers “clear guidance” on climate change policy, and that kind of leadership was needed to “speed negotiations” in the preparatory talks now.

One does not need an official U.N. translator to decifer that global bureaucratese — the climate change treaty talks are in trouble.

Categories: On the Blog

Experts Declare CO2 Benefits Outweigh Dangers

Somewhat Reasonable - June 30, 2015, 11:29 AM

At this year’s International Climate Change Conference (ICCC-10) hosted by Heartland Institute, speakers and scientists praised the social and economic benefits of carbon dioxide – a position in direct contrast to those popularly held among climate change radicals.

Historical Background of Concern Over Climate Change 

As part of Agenda 21 (See here the Agenda) the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 2 -14, 1992.   According to Myron Ebell, a member of Panel 14 at Heartland’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change, Republicans didn’t want George H.W. Bush to sign on to the UN framework, but he went ahead and made the U.S. a signatory, insisting that the agreement was non-binding and no harm would come of it.

It did, however, put a noose around today’s economy.  A really bad break happened when the Supremes ruled that the Clean Air Act could be used to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in a 5-4 decision. In its wake, Obama’s EPA declared CO2 a pollutant. Although the results haven’t been overly oppressive as of yet — the Koyoto Protocol was dead on arrival and President Obama did fail in his attempt to implement cap and trade — in typical Obama fashion, executive orders have been issued to fight global warming, with more scheduled to be unleashed.

Are We Living in an Age of Poisoned Weather? 

According to Marc Moran of Climate Depot, a project of CFACT, who appeared on Panel 14 at the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change appropriately titled “Fresh Start”: “We are now living in what some call an age of Poisoned Weather.”  As a global warming denier, Moran knows first-hand how skeptics are smeared and discredited by climate change alarmists.  Moran further questioned whether this present era might be the end of constant and dependable electricity in our home, only to be replaced by a situation where the use of power will depend upon its availability?

A current project of CFACT, “Climate Hustle: The global warming shakedown”, is to be released in the fall.  This new documentary will be hosted by Marc Moran.

For those who dare call atmospheric CO2 a pollutant, shame of them.  CO2 is a non-toxic, non-irritating, and natural components of the atmosphere.  Higher atmospheric levels of CO2 increase agricultural yields.  It is not a pollutant, nor will it cause catastrophic global warming. Real pollution (smog, fly ash, etc.) can be cost-effectively controlled. CO2, declared a pollutant under the Clean Air Act by the EPA, constitutes a scam to diminish American economy and a way for crony businesses to make money on carbon trading and “green technology” crony businesses.  The scam additionally serves well as a means to redistribute wealth from those who create it to poor countries governed by criminal tyrants.

As related by G. Cornelis van Kooten, Ph. D., a ICCC-10 Panel 5 participant in speaking on “The Economic Consequences of Carbon Dioxide Regulation”: “The transfer of  millions of dollars to rich people in poor countries will inevitably end up in the pockets of the well-to-do or the elites.”  What is instead needed is the creation of wealth in these poor countries, beginning with the development of energy resources, for energy is the life blood of a nation.  It’s immoral to deny energy to the poor in the world.

Fiddling With Numbers Exaggerates the Severity of Climate Change

There are many social benefits of carbon, but they are meaningless if the tradeoffs between mitigation, adaptation, and damages are not similarly assessed. Such a process can be carried out directly by ascertaining what people are willing to pay for avoiding certain physical consequences. The present U.S. Administration strongly endorses the Interagency Working Group’s BCA (Benefit Cost Analysis) estimates.  As speaker Marlo Lewis, Jr., Ph. D. so succinctly stated as a member of Panel 4 in expounding upon his topic, “The Social Costs of Carbon Dioxide”. . . “by fiddling with the social cost of carbon, analysts can get almost any result they desire.” And why fiddle?  Agencies have an incentive to report climate change in the worst possible way, for by inflating the estimated social cost of carbon, the purported net benefits of their regulations can be increased.  Lewis noted these fiddling tricks that are employed:

  1. Ignore all the climate sensitivity literature.
  2. Use below market discount rates.  When discount rates are as low as 1% renewable energy appears to be more efficient, making renewables look like a bargain at any price.
  3. Simply ignore the benefits of CO2 fertilization.
  4. Assume that doomsday is not only more likely, but also more costly.

“The real damage is not climate change, but trying to change the climate”

Paul Driessen, in his Panel 5 discussion about “How Climate Change Prevention Schemes Impact Human Welfare”, noting how the temperature has barely budged in 18 years, reflected: “The real damage is not climate change, but trying to change the climate.”  According to Driessen, 1.3 billion world inhabitants still lack electricity — 320 million in India and 730 million in Africa.  Four million individuals die every year from lung and intestinal disease caused by using animal dung for cooking and heat. There is also no refrigeration for food.

In action that defies common and moral sense, the World Bank (OPEC) won’t provide funding in Africa to build energy producing facilities.  Why?  Because building energy facilities to provide electricity would result in more global warming.  Does this in any way constitute sound moral judgment?  It is notable that a self-professed atheist and scientific advisor to the Vatican, Hans Schellnhuber, appears to believe in a Mother Earth, the Gaia Principle. And what about 40% of the U.S. corn crop being used for fuel?  Not only has the cost of meat increased here in the U.S., but 412 million people could be fed with the corn being used to make ethanol. In regard to global warming, cold kills.  A modest warming of the planet would result in a net reduction of human morality from temperature-related events.

Panel 12 speaker, Canadian Tom Harris, bemoaned how Canada used to receive 25% of its electricity from coal. Now it’s down to zero percent. Thousands of gigantic onshore wind turbines are being constructed in Ontario, Canada, resulting in grave sites containing millions of birds and bats.  These 610 feet turbines, costing $250,000 each to build, require 30 years to realize a return on the original investment.

John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, likewise a speaker on Panel 12, further expounded on the use of wind turbines for energy.  Energy provided by wind turbines will cost the average American family $1,200 more a year.  If a carbon tax is implemented, the yearly cost of energy for the average American family will increase to $4,000.

Economic Implications of War on Fossil Fuel

Of the many noted and learned speakers at the ICCC-10, Jay Lehr, Ph.D., as a Panel 4 participant, had much to say about his topic, “The Future of Fossil Fuels,” which covered the economic implications of the war on fossil fuels.  Lehr, was direct, unapologetic, and passionate in his rhetoric, calling it insanity to limit the use of fossil fuels which only raises the cost of what we buy.  Cheap energy is the only way out of poverty and is needed in Africa and India to improve the standard of living.  Continuing, Lehr observed the following:

  • Nuclear, which has the biggest bang for the buck, is being made more expensive with a burden on safety. Although two nuclear plants are being built, one each in Georgia and South Carolina, most likely these new plants will end construction for the next 20 years.
  • Coal is a cheap source of energy.  As such coal is needed to fuel the poorest parts of the world and is needed, as well, in this country.  “If we can put men on the moon, we can burn coal cleanly.”
  • There is enough gas and oil to last 1000 years as shale is the most prolific rock on the planet.
  • Regarding bio fuels, it is ridiculous to burn food for fuel.
  • Wasteful spending of tax payer monies by Navy and Airforce going green.  Bio-fuel for ships costs $27.00 per gallon vs. $3.50 for regular fuel.  Bio-fuel for jets costs $454 per gallon as compared to $57.00 for regular fuel (This article relates to how President Obama is recruiting the Pentagon to advance his sweeping climate change agenda ranging from building clean energy projects at military installations to the use of expensive green fuels in planes.).
  • According to the U.S. Energy Administration, wind and solar can’t compete economically when subsidies end. Even with 2016 technologies:
  • New wind projects are nearly double the cost of conventional.
  • New solar projects are three to five times more expensive.

Other thoughts shared by Jay Lehr: 1) Get rid of all regulations — the earth is not warming as a result of anything man is doing;  2) Stop picking winners and losers as providers of energy, such as Solyndra, and allow the market to decide;  3) Keep drilling.  Russia is drilling in the Arctic, but this nation’s drilling is restricted; 4) Repeal cafe standards — the only way to increase mileage is to produce lighter cars which result in more fatalities.

Jay Lehr’s plan to phase out the EPA in a five-year plan was detailed in his July, 2014 Policy Brief for the Heartland Institute titled “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency.” It was circulated widely and has been received positively by at least one influential Republican senator.

Overwhelming Social Benefits of CO2 

Following are the greatest benefits pertaining to those associated with the development of our modern technology-based society:

  • Unprecedented economic growth.
  • Higher standard of living.
  • Increased human life span.
  • One billion persons elevated out of poverty in the past 200 years.
  • Increased agricultural yields to combat hunger.

A booklet handed out at ICCC-10, “Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case” by Kathleen Hartnett White, produced by the Texas Public Policy Foundation www.TexasPolicy.com, notes how fossil fuel was a necessary ingredient of industrialization’s beginning and for its continued growth, having freed billions of human beings from poverty.  Since the Industrial Revolution life expectancy has tripled (a modest warming of the planet is good), while income per-capita has increased 22-fold.

Now consider renewable energy resources from wind, solar, and biomass as ways to replace fossil fuels that are falsely blamed for global warming.  Man can control access to and conversion of energy held in fossil fuels, but no machine or person can control when the wind blows or at what velocity, nor can man or machine control how much of the radiant heat of the sun will hit the earth on a given day or hour.  When considering renewable biomass like corn for ethanol, annual weather and the growing cycle control the timing and quality of harvest.

Heartland Has Last Word

Lastly, consider the below statements that are backed by sound scientific research, in contrast to the unproven global warming hypothesis of the U.N. (accepted as gospel by the Obama administration) obtained from flawed climate models and which portend that the sky is falling unless immediate global action is taken.

From Climate Change Reconsidered II:  Physical Science.  II:  Physical Science. Chicago, IL: The Heartland Institute:

  • “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.”
  • “Neither the rate nor the magnitude of the reported late twentieth century surface warming (1979 – 2000) lay outside the range of normal natural variability, nor were they in any way unusual compared to earlier episodes in Earth’s climatic history.  If anything, solar forcing of temperature change is likely more important than is currently recognized.”

Articles by Thorner about the June 11-12 ICCC-10 conference in Washington, D.C.:

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Mark Mills: Shale 2.0

Somewhat Reasonable - June 30, 2015, 10:34 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Mark Mills. Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has a background in science and actively works in economics and technology. Mills and Burnett discuss his Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10) presentation: Shale 2.0.

He discusses why fossil fuels still dominate the energy market and will continue to dominate our energy future for decades to come. He also talks about how modest improvements in the efficient use of fossil fuels produce far more energy than dramatic gains in renewable technologies and why improving efficiency actually leads to more, not less energy use.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Aren’t We Yet Tired of the Feds Being Totally Wrong – Or Lying to Us?

Somewhat Reasonable - June 30, 2015, 10:27 AM

Gassy assertions by government officials are, of course, a given. Very few groups of people are more wrong, more consistently – yet with more confidence – than the people who lord over us.

There are only two possible explanations. They are either really, really ill informed and naive. Or they know they’re wrong – and they are each respectively lying both of their faces off.

Let’s revisit just a few.

Obama Promises To Lower Health Insurance Premiums by $2,500 Per Year

Except:

Thank You, ObamaCare: Families Pay $3000 More for Insurance

And:

A Montage of Obama’s “If You Like Your (Health Care) Plan Keep It”

Except:

100 Million More Could Lose Insurance Under ObamaCare

And:

Obama and Hillary Blame Youtube Video for Benghazi Terrorist Attack as Coffins Arrive

Except:

Hillary Clinton: Source of the Benghazi Video Lie

The mis-assertions endlessly abound.

Obama’s Top 20 Presidential Lies

Five Lies That Have Shaped the Obama Presidency

Obama Administration Just Got Caught in a Massive Lie …

Officials Masked Severity Of (Chinese OPM) Hack

The Obama Administration’s Useful Lie About Iran Talks

And on, and on, and….

So on to the next set of…questionable assertions.

In February, the Barack Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – specifically, the Commission’s three unelected Democrat bureaucrats – fundamentally transformed how the government regulates the Internet.

These three unilaterally imposed 1934 landline telephone law – passed by Congress eighty-one years ago – onto a Web that didn’t even exist until roughly twenty years ago.

This is not just Network Neutrality – which is awful enough. And has already been twice previously imposed by the FCC – and twice unanimously rejected by the D.C. Circuit Court.

This is Net Neutrality – plus the full boat government-mandated-monopoly regime of massive amounts of regulations and lots and lots of taxes.

Leading the charge is FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler – previously seen being a two-time campaign cash bundler for President Obama. And look – he’s promising government restraint.

But fret not, the regulators tell us. They will wield just some – and not all – of their massive new powers. They will practice forbearance.

“(F)orbearance” refers to a special magic power that Congress gave the FCC…which gives the FCC the power to say “you know that specific provision of law that Congress passed? We decide it really doesn’t make sense for us to enforce it in some particular case, so we will forbear” (hence the term forbearance’) from enforcing it.

Because we all know how restrained government always is. There will be omni-directional, near-limitless powers and taxes to wield – but the wielders are promising they won’t wield them.

Except:

FCC Chairman ‘Will Not Let Up’ On Broadband Regulation

Doesn’t sound very forbearance-y to me.

The promises continue.

FCC Claims Dire Net Neutrality Predictions Are Unfounded

FCC’s Wheeler Says Net Neutrality Doesn’t Hurt Investment

Except:

(B)ecause it distorts the operator investment business decision, net neutrality has the potential to significantly discourage infrastructure investment.

Because massive new government intervention never increases the cost of doing business. Like ObamaCare didn’t increase the cost of doing business. Like all government intervention doesn’t increase the costs of doing business.

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

If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking…ahead of India.

No big deal, they say.

Net Neutrality Starts with a Whimper

Really?

First FCC Net Neutrality Case Hits AT&T with $100 Million Fine

That’s a really expensive whimper.

See what the government did there? In the name of “protecting consumers,” they take for themselves a ton of money. From a company – that will of course have to pass that exorbitant cost on to their consumers. Not so much pro-consumer – as pro-government.

Does government move as fast as the private sector? Not so much.

FCC to Start Work on (Net Neutrality) Broadband Privacy in Fall

Which means the government imposed massive new regulations in February. Which they didn’t define before imposing them – and won’t define for at least half a year after.

Would you invest in a sector where the regulations are amorphous and undefined? And will be for an indeterminate amount of time going forward? And could change yet again, over and over, at any moment – if a bureaucrat decides to change his or her mind about forbearance?

Neither would I.

We’ll close with the broadest possible government Socialism.

FCC Chair: “Broadband Should Be Available To Everyone Everywhere”

Does that to you sound like a government looking to limit itself – as promised?

Not to me either.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

F. A. Hayek and Why Government Can’t Manage Society, Part II

Somewhat Reasonable - June 30, 2015, 10:16 AM

It is seventy years, now, since near the end of the Second World War Austrian economist, and much later Nobel Prize winner, Friedrich A. Hayek published his most famous article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” in September 1945, demonstrating why it is impossible for a system of socialist central planning to effectively manage a complex and ever-changing economy better than a functioning, competitive free market order.

All the necessary knowledge to comprehensively and successfully plan an entire society does not exist in any one place or in the mind of any one person or group of people. Instead, the knowledge of the world is dispersed and decentralized among all the minds of all the people in the world.

To effectively utilize it for all to benefit it is essential to rely upon the market and the competitive price system, through which everyone is able to communicate with each other for the minimal amount of information to coordinate their activities with all the others in society.

(See, “F. A. Hayek and Why Government Can’t Manage Society, Part I,” EpicTimes, June 22, 2015.)

Hayek’s Message About Prices Still Relevant in a Post-Socialist World

With the failure and implosion of Soviet-style socialist central planning, Hayek and other thinkers like him where shown to have been right. Socialist central planning is died, relegated, to use Marx’s phrase, to the “dustbin of history.”

The issues confronting societies, now, are not markets versus socialist planning. But the form that markets can take on, and in this setting the degree to which government should or can regulate and intervene into the workings of the market system. Influencing and moving markets in one direction compared to another through government regulatory and fiscal policies are a far cry, it is said, from the “old days” of those calling for and predicting the “end of capitalism.”

But a logical extension of Hayek’s argument against central planning is that any interferences with the price system or the autonomy of market participants to act on their own best judgment in their respective local circumstances of time and place must necessarily prevent the “knowledge problem” of economic coordination from being most effectively solved.

Prices, in other words, need to be able to tell the truth: What are the actual demands of market participants for various consumer goods and services, and what are the actual available supplies and alternative demands for the scarce means of production with which those desired consumer and other goods may be manufactured (what economists called the “opportunity costs” of the land, resources, labor and capital in their competing uses on the supply-side of the market)?

Interest Rate Manipulation Distorts Savings and Investment Decisions

Market rates of interest represent a critical network of prices. Hayek made his early reputation as a money and business cycle theorist in opposition to Keynes’ policy proposals for “activist” monetary and fiscal policy.

Hayek argued that market-based interest rates are essential for coordinating the decisions of income earners concerning how much of their income and wealth to divide between consumption and savings with the decisions of potential borrowers desiring to use the savings of others to undertaken time-consuming investment projects that will bring forth desired consumer goods at some point in the future.

Monetary central planners through the central banking system attempt to influence interest rates and the types and amounts of investment spending through increasing the quantity of money in the banking system. The artificially lowered interest rates reduce the cost of borrowing and raise the prospective profitability of possible investment projects that would not have seemed worth undertaking at a higher market-established rate of interest.

The increase in the money supply creates the illusion that there is more savings available to be borrowed to start, complete and sustain investment projects than there are actual real saved resources to do so.

Borrowers and investors are misinformed by an important market signal to use their special and localized knowledge of time and place in misdirected ways that are inconsistent and eventually unsustainable with the real amount and types of scarce resources with which to undertaken their investment projects, given people’s actual decisions to save portions of their income, and thus “free up” a certain amount of resources for future-oriented production.

Precisely because the multitudes of individuals participating in the social system of division of labor cannot know all the others with whom they are interdependent in the complex networks of supply and demand, and therefore directly know what others are planning to do with their income and resources, everyone is dependent on the truthfulness of the price system through which all those individuals coordinate their diverse decisions and actions.

By falsifying interest rates – the intertemporal prices connecting savings choices with investment decisions – governments and central banks potentially set in motion distortions and imbalances in the use of resources, capital and labor that manifest themselves in the form the booms and busts of the business cycle.

Government manipulation of prices, therefore, can be just as disruptive as the abolition of prices by political edict. Just as automobile traffic on the road system would be chaotic if the traffic lights were turned off, it can be equally disruptive and dangerous if red lights are turned to green when the perpendicular traffic at an intersect is simultaneously given a green light signal as well.

Minimum Wage Laws Cause Unemployment and Distort Resource Use

The same applies with the recent political push to raise the U.S. minimum wage law from its current level to $15 per hour or more. Critics of the minimum wage increase have rightly emphasized that doing so will potentially drive many marginal workers out of their existing jobs and prevent other jobs from ever materializing. Setting a minimum wage below which no worker may be legally employed runs the risk of pricing out of the market those unskilled or low-skilled workers who employers find contribute a value to their production activities less than what the government mandates they are to be paid.

None of us pays more for something than we think it to be worth. This applies no less to employers whose only means of paying those they employ are the revenues they earn from selling products and services to the buying public. For an enterpriser to remain in business, costs of production cannot persistently be above the revenues received from sales of goods and services to consumers. Labor costs are no less a determinant of profit or loss than other expenses of doing business.

But besides this, the manipulation of wage rates through minimum wage laws also influence and disrupt the use of scarce resources in comparison to their allocation in a purely market-determined network of wages for different types and skills of labor.

Minimum Wage Can Result in Capital Replacing Labor When Not Needed

A number of both advocates and critics of a minimum wage increase have pointed out that some businesses have suggested that raising labor costs in this manner may result in replacing some workers with capital.

Computer tablets at restaurant counters can replace waiters and waitresses in taking orders conveyed to the cooks and chefs in the kitchen (as has already been happening in some places). And in Japan they have even been experimenting with robots that bring food orders to the counter or the restaurant tables in place of human servers.

All of this may end up being a market-based “wave of the future” to the extent that an aging and retiring population makes certain types of labor more scarce and expensive to employ over time. The demands for labor and their rising cost of employment over many decades in the twentieth century was a major factor behind the reduction in domestic servants in middle class households and their replacement with laborsaving home appliances and conveniences to do everyday housework.

Another example is how the greater cost efficiencies of office and laptop computers resulted, over time, in the disappearance of large numbers of secretaries employed in the “typing pools” of many large and small businesses throughout the economy.

By artificially rising the price and therefore the cost of certain types of labor through minimum wage legislation, the price system for workers no longer is fully telling the truth about who is available for work and at what market-determined wages to assist producers and enterprisers on deciding what would be the most appropriate use and combinations of labor and capital given the real, underlying supply and demand conditions in the market.

Capital that would be more profitably and efficiently utilized in other sectors of the economy will be drawn into these labor-saving activities due to the government imposing this higher wage floor for labor. This may occur, as a consequence, years or decades before the market would have determined that this was the best use for scarce laborsaving capital resources, and in some cases when it might never have been profitably desirable to redirect capital into those uses at all, if not for the minimum law.

So by manipulating workers’ wages through minimum wage legislation, people will, again, potentially make misdirected decisions on how best to use their local knowledge of their own particular place and circumstances in the market because the price of hiring labor will not be telling the truth.

Government Regulations Prevent the Use of Personal Knowledge

This is no less the case with government production regulations and restrictions. In a dynamic market, individuals are constantly coming up with new ideas based on changing supply and demand situations that create the incentives and profit-oriented alertness to discover and imagine new possibilities about what products to produce and how to produce them.

In a world in which change seems to come swift and fast, flexibility and adaptability to such change are keys to business success in meeting and beating the competition in capturing consumer sales. Compare the market world of today with that of twenty or ten or even five years ago, and you see the technological discoveries and applications that have transformed everyday life in ways that we often forget to fully appreciate since they have already become so taken for granted.

It has been pointed out that in the U.S. the private sector spends about $2 trillion a year on compliance with government regulations, which in the Code of Federal Regulations take up over 175,000 pages of rules, commands, restrictions and prohibitions. Businessmen and those they employ must apply their knowledge and time to meet the demands of politicians and bureaucrats rather than utilizing them toward consumer-oriented production, innovation, and improvement in all that their enterprises do.

At the same time, these thousands of pages of regulations serve as straightjackets that limit and inhibit entrepreneurial ability to take advantage of the changing circumstances of time and place because any and all responses, changes and adjustments are confined within the existing permissible rules and regulations imposed on the marketplace by the heavy hand of government.

Of course, appreciating the full impact of this is impossible to completely know precisely because it is part of what Frederic Bastiat explained as the “unseen.” These are all those market activities and outcomes that never occur, or at least not in their entirety, because the regulatory structure prevents or modifies all the forms they would have taken on in a more free market institutional environment.

That we cannot fully see or know all of these “might-have-beens” if not for government regulation does not any the less change the fact that individuals in the marketplace are prevented or restricted in how best to use the knowledge that they only possess and which the government regulators can never know or appreciate in the same way each of the individuals in the market do in their respective places in the division of labor.

The More Complex the Society, the Less Government Can Do Successfully

Another way of saying all of this is that Hayek challenged the entire trend of collectivist thinking and policy advocacy – whether in the form of central planning or price and production interventionism – by emphasizing the limits on what man can successfully command and control in the social and economic order of things.

For decades the socialists and interventionists argued that the more complex the society the less it could be left to the unhampered workings of the market system. The more intricate the social order and people’s relationships in it, the more there needed to be a centralized political guiding hand to assure that it did not fall into chaos and disharmony.

Hayek turned this argument on its head. He insisted that the more complex the social and economic system the less any single or handful of human minds could comprehend, master or manipulate the relationships for better outcomes than when the market was left free.

If we wish to use all of that ever more complex “knowledge of the world” for the benefit of all, we must leave alone those who possess it in decentralized fragments, and who know best its use through their own actions and interactions in their corners of society. We need to allow all of that dispersed knowledge to be effectively coordinated in an increasingly global community of commerce, culture, and creativity through the mechanism of competitively formed market prices to give each the minimal amount of necessary information about all the others with whom they are interdependent so to integrate what each does with the actions of everyone else.

In “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” Hayek summarizes his argument:

“We must look at the price system as . . . a mechanism for communicating information if we want to understand its real function   . . . The most significant fact about this system is the economy of knowledge with which it operates, and how little the individual participants need to know in order to be able to take the right action . . .

“It is more than a metaphor to describe the price system as a kind of machinery for registering change, or a system of telecommunications which enables individual producers to watch the mere the movement of a few pointers, as an engineer might watch the hands of a few dials, in order to adjust their activities to change of which they may never know more than is reflected in the price movement.”

Hayek went on to refer to the “marvel” of all the complex knowledge and actions of multitudes of millions of people the price system successfully and constantly tends to coordinate even in the face of continual unanticipated and uncertain change.

Hayek said:

“I have deliberately used the word ‘marvel’ to shock the reader out of the complacency with which we often take the working of this mechanism for granted. I am convinced that if it were the result of deliberate human design, and if the people guided by the price change understood that their decisions have significance far beyond their immediate aim, this mechanism would have been acclaimed as one of the greatest triumphs of the human mind.”

Of course the competitive price system is not the creation or design of a grand council or benevolent king. Trade, competition and prices emerged “spontaneously” out of people searching for avenues and opportunities to improve their circumstances through discovered mutually advantageous exchange.

The Significance of Hayek’s Contribution to Human Knowledge

The fact that the market price system has emerged and evolved over centuries and not been created by the fanfare of a political command makes most people not even realize its importance, with it being taken for granted like language, or customs and manners, all of which makes society and social life possible but are also not the designs of political leaders.

Looking over the last seven decades since the appearance of Hayek’s “Use of Knowledge in Society,” we can now appreciate that in retrospect it represents one of the most important contributions to man’s understanding of how the world in which he lives and works is made possible without the guiding hand of government command.

And just how relevant his argument remains today in the face of political regulations and controls that prevent that “marvelous” price system from most effectively integrating and coordinating the actions of billions of people whose freedom to use their own bits of unique knowledge and knowhow is critical for the continuing advancement of mankind.

(The text is based on a talk given on a panel session devoted to “Friedrich Hayek as Defender of Liberty” at the Tenth Annual Moral Foundations of Capitalism Conference sponsored by the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University in South Carolina, May 29, 2015)

[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog

FCC Changed “Can-Do” Internet Into “Can’t-Do” Internet

Somewhat Reasonable - June 30, 2015, 9:30 AM

A “can-do attitude” was the essence of the Internet for the last twenty years, making it a unique decentralized place of endless possibilities and opportunities.

No more, the FCC has changed the “can-do” Internet into a “can’t-do” Internet, by centralizing control via the imposition of unnecessary 1934 telephone utility regulation.

The FCC has enthroned itself as the ultimate gatekeeper of what’s possible and who has what opportunities on America’s Internet.

The FCC imagines it alone knows what’s best for the Internet, and that’s FCC Internet pessimism, not the Internet optimism that made the Internet what it is today.

It will take time and many predictable bad FCC decisions, for people to see the difference in the Internet ethos over time. When they do, they won’t like it.

In beginning to regulate the Internet like a 1934 telephone utility this month, a partisan FCC has self-imposed it’s bureaucratic “can’t-do attitude” on America’s Internet.

It now can tell Internet operators and innovators all of the things they no longer can do in operating and improving the Internet, and that huge fines await any Internet operator that dares doing so without first asking for permission from the FCC.

And the FCC also warns that it will be looking for more things that private sector Internet operators can’t do in the future.

Welcome to the FCC’s new centrally-controlled, can’t do, restricted Internet.

How did the original Internet that the public came to know and love, get changed?

A little history and perspective is helpful here.

The de-centralized Internet freedoms people have appreciated and benefited from over the last twenty years began in April of 1995.

That’s when President Clinton, with strong bipartisan backing in Congress, had the U.S. Government finally turn operations of the Internet over to the private sector, effectively ending the government’s ban on commercial activity on the Internet.

At core this bipartisan vision, consensus and wisdom was to decentralize operation and use of the Internet by handing it off to the private sector, competitive market forces, and individual innovation.

In parallel, Congress was in the process of finalizing the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which similarly embraced a vision of decentralizing communications by ending a failing monopoly communications policy and adopting a new communications policy of promoting competition and market innovation.

These two strongly bipartisan decisions to decentralize communications created the greatest deregulatory success story in history.

The Internet grew from a few American Internet users to roughly 280 million today and to three billion users worldwide.

Private sector competition, commercial incentives, and the freedom to innovate have led to an amazing thousand-fold increase in Internet speeds for the American Internet consumer.

And everyone appreciates the phenomenal amount of choice and diversity of Internet content, products and services that the bipartisan “hands-off-the-Internet” policy created.

However, as the old adage says, no good deed goes unpunished.

Fast forward to 2015, almost twenty years later to the month, the FCC implemented President Obama’s call for the “strongest possible” Title II utility regulation of the Internet, effectively imposing the most onerous, antiquated economic regulation available, on the most modern part of the economy.

The FCC has reversed the de-centralization of a private sector competitive Internet, by appointing itself the ultimate, centralized Internet “decider” for Internet operations.

In a nutshell, how has the FCC changed America’s Internet?

It unilaterally changed America’s wildly-successful and optimistic, “hands-off-the-Internet” policy to a more pessimistic, Government “hands-on-the-Internet” policy — over the strong objection of a majority of Congress.

It changed the bipartisan, “ClintonNet,” private sector vision of the Internet, to a partisan, “ObamaNet,” government-controlled vision of the Internet.

It changed decentralized Internet decision-making, to centralized Internet decision making by the FCC.

That’s how the FCC changed the “can-do” Internet into a “can’t-do” Internet.

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

Colorado Supreme Courts Rules Douglas County School Choice Program Unconstitutional

Somewhat Reasonable - June 30, 2015, 7:07 AM

On Monday, June 29th the Colorado Supreme Court struck down the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program as unconstitutional, preventing 500 students from having the chance to get out of failing and under-performing schools.  The ruling was based on the majority finding of “unconditional aid to religious institutions”.

Pam Benigno, director of the Education Policy Center stated, “This decision is difficult to swallow, especially for students who are struggling in their current school to reach their full potential … Families deserve access to more educational options.”

Colorado is one of 38 states that have a Blaine Amendment in their constitution. These amendments were mostly added during the late 1800s and were anti-Catholic in nature. Due to the large Catholic immigration influx many wanted to prevent any public monies from funding any parochial school.

The Education Policy Center, which was instrumental in the scholarship program, reports that is considering appealing this ruling to the US Supreme Court due to the state’s Blaine Amendment.

Read the actual ruling here
Watch the arguments made before the Colorado Supreme Court here.
More information on the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program can be found here.

Categories: On the Blog

U.N. Taps ‘The Sundance Kid’ As Its Latest Celebrity ‘Climate Change’ Endorser

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 8:51 PM

The U.N.’s standard for celebrity endorsements for the “climate change” agenda appears to have shriveled rather rapidly in recent days.

Last week, the U.N.’s Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was raving over the Pope’s backing, sort of, of the agency’s global warming hypothesis.

 

Another day, another celebrity endorser for global warming.

(Sadly, the carbon trading scheme favored by progressives didn’t merit the approval of his Holiness, which basically negates the whole command and control economic planning thing.)

The fact that the Pope , moreover, did not even attend the Vatican presser on his environmental encyclical, leaving those dreary duties to an atheist German physicist and a few of his chums from The Curia and The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences did not attract the attention of the media, so enthused were they by the chance to employ his visage to bash the Koch Brothers and their coterie.

Now that Pope Francis is fading from the headlines, the U.N. is trotting out another global celebrity, though one less consequential than the Roman Pontiff. Yes, the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford himself, appeared at the U.N. with Secretary General Moon on Monday  to urge delegates to vote this fall in Paris at the COP 21 talks for a strong climate change treaty.

“This is it – this is our only life source,” said Redford, now 78 years-old. “Save the world before it is too late. ”

Clearly, Redford is no Pope Francis, and many who need celebrity guidance to make up their minds on “scientific issues” like climate change, are probably waiting for him to deliver long-time pal Barbra Streisand to increase the star wattage to a suitable level here. Of course, if she’s not available, there’s always Al Gore. He may never be POTUS – but, he is, as the Italians say, “papabile,” or worthy of being made Pope, for his altrustic work on the environment, right?

Categories: On the Blog

Supreme Court Rules Against EPA on Clean Air Act

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 4:57 PM

The Supreme Court dispensed with a series of industry-crippling environmental regulations today, ruling against the Environmental Protection Agency over its interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

In Michigan v. EPA, the Supreme Court determined that the EPA over-stepped its own core mission after it decided to use the Clean Air Act to regulate the levels of mercury, arsenic and other poisons chemicals emitted by conventional power plants, without considering the burden placed on existing industry. The EPA’s interpretation created a huge cost for both the power plants themselves and individual states; the court determined that the action was not “appropriate and necessary,” within the boundaries of the Act.

In a loss for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA unreasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act when it decided to set limits on the emissions of toxic pollutants from power plants without first considering the costs of the industry to do so.

The ruling was 5-4, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissent for the four liberal justices.

Bill Schuette, the attorney general for Michigan, the state named in the suit, cheered the ruling, as did several conservative voices.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for family budgets and job creation in Michigan,” Schuette said in a statement. “The court agreed that we can and must find a constructive balance in protecting the environment and continuing Michigan’s economic comeback.”

Earthjustice DC Senior Associate Attorney Neil Gormley, whose group that filed a brief in support of EPA, said the court’s ruling “doesn’t change EPA’s authority to protect the public from toxic air pollution.”

This won’t, of course, stop the EPA, which has shown, quite baldly, its willingness to pursue any measure necessary to put pressure on conventional power plants. The EPA has other measures at its disposal that accomplish a similar mission as their Clean Air Act “re-interpretation” might have, and green groups were quick to note that the Supreme Court did not destroy the Act itself, but merely placed a further burden in the EPA’s way.

On the other hand, the EPA will now be forced to consider whether their regulations are as cost-effective as they claim. This case involved 23 individual states, all of whom sued the EPA over its lack of research. According to documents filed in the case, the EPA estimated “health benefits” to amount to a $4 to $6 million cost savings, mostly in health care. In order to achieve that number, the EPA would require approximately $10 million in upgrades from conventional power plants, a cost which, the plaintiffs noted, would be passed along to consumers and to taxpayers. From now on, regulations of this sort should undergo a full return-on-investment analysis, at least, according to the Court.

All of this should have an impact on upcoming regulations, especially those governing air pollution and related emissions controls. Placing a financial test at the heart of environmental regulation means that the EPA will have to think more practically about how it can exact control.

Categories: On the Blog

Jay Lehr Talks About the Pope, Climate Change and Dissolving the EPA

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 4:27 PM

On June 23, Science Director Jay Lehr was a guest on Common Sense Conversations Talk Radio, aired on dozens of stations across the country. Lehr was on to talk about the pope, climate change, the EPA and bureaucratic abuses.

Lehr begins by talking about Pope Francis’ climate encyclical, a topic that has been grabbing headlines recently. The Heartland Institute recently sent a delegation of scientists and experts to the Vatican climate conference to provide balance to the U.N. narrative. While it seems like a non-issue to advocate for a cleaner environment, as Lehr explains, the prevailing “solutions” to climate change would result in harm for the world’s poor.  Lehr addresses this misconception.

Lehr and host Beth Ann also talk about the environmental regulations and the EPA overreach that only serves as a tax on the U.S. citizen. Lehr recently released a Policy Brief that outlined a plan to dissolve the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The full report can be seen here.

Listen to the whole interview above as Lehr explains the repercussions of over-regulation  and government control. Lehr expertly illustrates the problem and offers common sense solutions.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Pope’s Climate Alarmism Will Take a Deadly Toll On World’s Poor

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 3:17 PM

Editor’s Note: This piece was co-authored by H. Sterling Burnett.

Pope Francis’ highly anticipated papal encyclical “Laudato Si,” which means “Praised Be to You,” was released on June 18 by the Vatican, and the potential fallout from the pope’s assault on fossil fuels will devastate the world’s most impoverished people and cause untold unnecessary deaths.

The pope’s letter to the world’s Roman Catholics supports numerous questionable claims made by climate alarmists. “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. … A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity,” Francis wrote.

Francis is right, many studies say this. However, the pope ignored the fact that many other scientific studies show the present warming is not at all unusual historically and may be due primarily to natural causes.

The pope urges leaders across the world to do whatever is possible to prevent future human-caused warming. “[B]oth the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor [must be heard],” wrote Francis.

They’re not shouting what the pope thinks they’re shouting.

While Francis is not the first Pope to address climate change, his encyclical is the first of its kind. In contrast to previous cautious papal statements, Francis’ rhetoric echoes language normally espoused by environmental radicals such as Al Gore and anti-capitalists like Michael Moore, not the leader of the Catholic world.

Judging by the way many climate alarmists—including the pope—speak, you would think the world is on the verge of entering a Mad Max-like post-apocalyptic horror. Yet, the solutions suggested by the papacy and climate alarmists around the globe amount to nothing more than blindly throwing money—a whole lot of it—at a problem a cofounder of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore, says “the science isn’t settled on.”

What science is certain of, however, is when people are forced to use wood, dung, and other primitive forms of energy to heat homes, cook meals, and power medical facilities, people die. Electricity keeps the lights on, safely heats those suffering from extreme cold, powers ventilators, and makes quality surgical care possible. In short, power saves lives, and in many parts of the world electricity is still an unreliable luxury.

In sub-Saharan Africa alone, experts estimate 600 million people live without electricity, and the renewable energy programs climate alarmists such as President Barack Obama and the pope’s climate scientists say we should rely on are incapable of providing the resources needed to save millions of lives.

To address Africa’s deadly power problem, Obama announced the creation of the Power Africa program in 2013. Power Africa provides grants to African governments for energy projects, loan guarantees, insurance, trade promotion, budget advice, and a variety of other services. It’s exactly the sort of program Pope Francis advocates in his encyclical.

But because the Obama administration is committed to battling what it mistakenly believes to be humanity’s baneful effect on the world’s temperature, many of the power-related funding projects implemented, managed, or encouraged by Power Africa have to use renewable energy sources, which are far less efficient, incredibly unreliable, and often more costly than traditional fossil-fuel-powered energy.

In a study by the Center for Global Development, researchers Todd Moses and Benjamin Leo found investing $500 in renewable resources will pull a single person in the developing world out of poverty, but $500 invested in electricity powered by natural gas can lift roughly four people out of poverty.

If the pope is truly concerned about the state of poverty, one of the best ways to improve the lives of billions of impoverished people is to support fossil-fuel power sources.

“How do you keep the medicine cold in a country where you don’t have enough electricity to run a refrigerator?” said Isaac Orr, a research fellow for energy and environmental policy at The Heartland Institute. “The unreliable nature of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power means only temporary or sporadic power. People are dying because of these policies.”

And they’ll continue to die if the pope’s encyclical is used to formulate public policy.

[Originally published at TownHall]

Categories: On the Blog

The Link Between Climate and Poverty

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 3:09 PM

The climate alarmists are practically giddy over Pope Francis’ recently released “climate encyclical”—remember, these are, generally, the very same people who dis the church and its position on abortion, the origin of life on earth, and the definition of marriage. Even Al Gore, who admits he was “raised in the Southern Baptist tradition,” has declared he “could become a Catholic because of this Pope.”

Not surprisingly, Carl Pope, who served as executive director of the Sierra Club for 36 years, chimed in. He penned a piece published on June 22 in EcoWatch in which he bashes “American conservatism” and positions the papal publication as being responsible for a “new dynamism” that he claims is “palpable.”

“It is more a gale than a fresh breeze,” Pope exclaimed, “when the most ground-breaking pope since John XXIII links poverty and climate.” In his post titled “How Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical is Disrupting American Politics,” Pope pronounces: “Something fundamental is shifting this summer in political and cultural attitudes around the climate.”

The former Sierra Club director then goes into a litany of news stories to support his position. Included in his list: the recent agreement from the “world’s major industrialized nations” to “Phase Out Fossil Fuels by 2100”—which is more rhetoric than reality.

In his claim of colliding “new realities and social change forces,” Pope never mentions the polling indicating that after the most extensive and expensive global propaganda campaign, fewer people are worried about a warming planet than were 25 years ago. Nor does he acknowledge that, according to Harvard Political Review, the vast majority of Americans—even those who agree that “global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by emissions from cars and industrial facilities such as power plants”—are still “unsupportive of government measures to prevent climate change that might harm the economy.”

And “harm the economy” it does—which is why, despite the G7 non-binding “agreement,” many European counties are returning to fossil fuels and retreating from renewables—led by German capacity payments to keep coal-fueled power plants open.

On June 19, in PV Magazine, Stelios Psomas, policy advisor at the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies, laments Greece’s “policy U-turn towards lignite.” Psomas said: “All [the new government] is concerned with is how to promote power generation from fossil fuels e.g. new lignite power stations, new gas pipes and exploratory drilling for oil. So far, it has shown no interest at all for renewables energy.”

In May, Greece’s Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, sent a letter to the European Commission “requesting permission to reactivate and prolong the life of Ptolemaida 3”—an “old technology” coal plant. Among his arguments, Lafazanis cited “the country’s ongoing recession, which has prompted the need to maintain household heating costs as low as possible.” Greece is also due to start construction any day on Ptolemaida 5, a new lignite-fired power station in Northern Greece.

Greece’s return to coal is due, according to Lafazanis, to the intermittency of renewable power, which endangers the country’s “energy security,” and to economic concerns. The Greek photovoltaic industry is “now preparing for the worst.”

Similarly, Poland is also seeking exemptions from “the European Union’s rules on reducing carbon emissions because the nation’s energy security and economic development depends on coal,” BloombergBusiness reports. Poland has previously received concessions from the EU climate policy. The new governing party, Law & Justice, is planning a strategy for the economy that “rejects the dogma of de-carbonization.” In Carbon-Pulse.com, Ben Garside predicts: “it may become more tempting for Polish governments to try to opt out of the [climate] laws altogether.”

Following elections in the United Kingdom that gave the conservative Tories a decisive majority, Britain’s energy policies are changing. While, so far, claiming to stick to its carbon targets, the new government will focus on minimizing costs.

In an editorial prior to the elections, The Guardian framed the party differences this way: “The Tories have cast off their green disguise. They will end subsidies for onshore wind power and rely on the market to bring down prices, they are enthusiastic about fracking and they want to build more roads. … The Greens, of course, remain committed to creating a zero-carbon economy, even if that is at the cost of economic growth.”

As predicted, the new Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced, an end to onshore wind subsidies, which “will save hundreds of millions of pounds.” She acknowledged that ending the “subsidy scheme” meant about 250 projects, totaling about 2,500 turbines, are now “unlikely to be built.”

The change in the government’s attitude toward wind energy, which was part of the Conservatives Manifesto, is likely the first of many to come in the weeks ahead. The Manifesto pledges to:

  • Keep energy bills as low as possible;
  • Halt the spread of onshore windfarms;
  • Back a significant expansion in new nuclear;
  • Continue to support development of North Sea oil and gas and the safe development of shale gas; and
  • Not support additional distorting and expensive power sector targets.

In The Telegraph, columnist Fraser Nelson reports that, after taking stock of what has been learned in the past five years, Rudd intends to take the summer to come up with “a proper Tory plan”—which, like the wind subsidy decision, is expected to follow the Manifesto and keep energy bills as low as possible.

Once again, economics are an important factor. Nelson states the following as a problem with climate-driven energy policy: “the fact that at least 15,000 British pensioners die of the cold each winter. It’s a staggering death toll, which has been greeted with a shrug for far too long. But this, too, is ending. The notion of ‘fuel poverty’ is being more widely recognized—and green subsidy is compounding the problem.”

In Germany, Greece, Poland and the UK, fossil fuel has reemerged. However, in Ethiopia, according to Pope, they are willing to reduce projected 2030 carbon pollution by 64 percent. The caveat? “If climate finance is made available.”

Yes, there is a “link” between poverty and climate. The green energy favored by the Pope, Carl Pope, and other climate alarmists threatens energy security, harms the economy, and creates fuel poverty that kills thousands of people each year.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jessica Sena: Effects of Drilling “Setback” Regulations

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 2:50 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Institute Daily Podcast, Research Fellow Isaac Orr speaks with Jessica Sena. Sena is the communications director at the Montana Petroleum Association. Jessica Sena and Isaac Orr discuss the impact drilling setback regulations and more.

Anti-fracking activists have begun to focus their efforts at the local government level to prevent the spread of fracking. These efforts manifest themselves in a variety of ways, from referendums on banning fracking altogether, or other movements that seek to give municipalities more “local control” to enforce setbacks on drilling activity. These setbacks restrict drilling within a specified distance of an occupied dwelling, a quarter mile for example.

While a quarter mile setback may sound reasonable to the average citizen, these setbacks would have profound negative consequences for energy development in the United States, especially in the wake of the landmark study released by the US EPA that concluded fracking does not lead to widespread or system impacts on drinking water, and that incidences of contamination are rare compared to the number of wells drilled.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Who is Grading the Common Core Tests?

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 12:11 PM

Common Core aligned testing for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has moved more heavily to the computer, and the question format is moving away from multiple choice in order to include more essays. This presents a grading issue the makers of the tests must solve.

Pearson, CCSS test implementer and textbook publisher, along with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), are working to resolve problems created by the evolving question format by hiring hundreds of people whom they train to grade the tests. According to a report in The New York Times:

“There was a onetime wedding planner, a retired medical technologist and a former Pearson saleswoman with a master’s degree in marital counseling. To get the job, like other scorers nationwide, they needed a four-year college degree with relevant coursework, but no teaching experience.”  [emphasis added]

Pearson Vice President Bob Sanders compares the training methods to those implemented by major corporations, such as McDonalds and Starbucks:

“McDonald’s has a process in place to make sure they put two patties on that Big Mac,” [Sanders] continued. “We do that exact same thing. We have processes to oversee our processes, and to make sure they are being followed.”

According to Diane Ravitch, a well know Common Core opponent, the quick fix is no fix at all:

“Most of the graders have never been teachers. We know that Pearson and other testing companies hire test graders from Craigslist and Kelly Temps. … So, if you want test scoring by readers who are paid by volume, who are not teachers, and who are trained like employees of McDonald’s and Starbucks, the results of Common Core testing should please you.” [emphasis added]

I agree with Ravitch on how the PARCC tests are being graded. The grading lends itself to much subjectivity in what is actually being learned. This is the same for CCSS itself. CCSS does more teaching of emotions and feelings, rather than those pesky things called “facts.” The CCSS tests are the direct result of these methodologies. It is no surprise inappropriate standards lead to a substandard curriculum and poor testing.

Categories: On the Blog

White House: Doctors Should Tell Patients About ‘Health Risks’ of Climate Change

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 11:01 AM

The White House last week held a summit with physicians, nurses, and other health care providers on the “public health” implications of climate change, and pressured the medical community to consider climate models in patient diagnoses.

“We need doctors, nurses, and citizens like all of you to get to work to raise awareness and organize people for real change,” said President Obama in remarks to the conference attendees.

The Surgeon General of the U.S. also attended the conference, and officials also stressed the need to “engage” medical students on global warming.

Long-term, this will minimize asthma outbreaks in vulnerable urban populations, the attendees were told.

Though not explicitly stated, the government does pay 50 percent of all medical bills through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. If the doctors don’t voluntarily comply, payment could be made contingent on patient education, so to speak.

New rules for physicians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: On the Blog

The Green Mirage – and Con Job

Somewhat Reasonable - June 29, 2015, 10:14 AM

Musk, Schmidt, Simons and billionaire buddies build empire based on climate and energy BS

Editor’s note: co-authored by Paul Driessen and Tom Tamarkin

Elon Musk and his fellow barons of Climate Crisis, Inc. recently got a huge boost from Pope Francis. Musk et al. say fossil fuels are causing unprecedented warming and weather disasters. The Pope agrees and says Catholics must “ask God for a positive outcome” to negotiations over another UN climate treaty.

It matters not that the predicted calamities are not happening. There has been no warming in 19 years, no category 3-5 hurricanes making US landfall for a record 9-1/2 years, indeed none of the over-hyped climate disasters occurring in the real world outside the alarmists’ windows. In fact, poor nations support the treaty mostly because it promises some $100 billion per year in adaptation, mitigation and compensation money from FRCs: Formerly Rich Countries that have shackled their own job creation, economic growth and living standards in the name of stabilizing Earth’s perpetually fluctuating climate.

Any money that is transferred will end up in the pockets of governing elites. Poor families will get little or no cash – and will be told their dreams of better lives must be limited to jobs and living standards that can be supported by solar panels on their huts and a few wind turbines near their villages.

Simply put, the Musk-Obama-Pope-Climate Crisis schemes will save humanity from exaggerated and fabricated climate disasters decades from now – by impoverishing billions and killing millions tomorrow.

For the catechism of climate cataclysm coalition, the essential thing is that we believe the hysterical assertions and computer models – and support endless renewable energy mandates and subsidies.

Musk and his Tesla and SolarCity companies have already pocketed $4.9 billion in taxpayer-financed subsidies, and even long-elusive profitability has not ended the handouts. Now he claims a small “blue square” on a map represents the “very little” land required to “get rid of all fossil fuel electricity generation” in the USA and prevent a non-existent climate cataclysm. We just need rooftop solar panels linked to wall-mounted battery packs – a mere 160 million Tesla Powerwalls – to eliminate the need for all coal and natural gas electricity generation in the United States, he insists.

Hogwash (from pork barrel political pig farms). As a careful and extensive analysis demonstrates, even without considering the monumental electricity demand required to convert America’s vehicles to electric-battery versions, providing today’s baseload and peak demand electricity would require 29.3 billion one-square-meter solar panels. Assuming adequate yearlong daily sunlight, that’s 29,333 square kilometers of active solar panel surface area: 7.2 million acres – or nearly all of Maryland and Delaware!

The analysis is technical, beyond the ability of most voters, journalists, politicians and regulators to comprehend fully. Read it anyway, if only to understand the enormity of financing, raw materials, mining, manufacturing and electricity required to make and ship the panels (some 40 million per year), battery packs and inverters (to convert low-voltage solar electricity to 120 or 240 Volt alternating current).

We are clearly dealing with an unprecedented green mirage and con job. It will drive average retail electricity prices from the 8-9 cents per kilowatt-hour in coal and gas-reliant states, to the 15-17 cents per kWh in California, Connecticut and New York – or even the 36-40 cents in Germany and Denmark, where unsubsidized rates are 70-80 cents per kWh! The impact of such prices on people’s jobs, living standards, health and welfare would be devastating. But Musk and his “clean” energy friends ignore this.

Musk has a BS in physics – and obviously holds advanced BS degrees in lobbying and con-artistry about climate disasters and renewable energy solutions, mandated by government decrees and financed by endless billions in subsidies. He has made numerous personal visits to legislative offices in Sacramento and Washington, to promote more such schemes, and aligns his efforts with those of Eric Schmidt, Nat Simons, Tom Steyer, Al Gore and members of the Clean Tech Syndicate: eleven secretive families with total wealth of over $60 billion, who want to get even richer off taxpayers and consumers.

They assume (demand) that bogus climate cataclysms will continue to bring them billions in climate cash payouts from Washington and state capitals, along with more exemptions from endangered species and environmental cleanup laws and regulations that are applied with a vengeance to fossil fuel projects.

Google scientists finally admitted that existing and near-term renewable energy technologies simply do not work as advertised and cannot meet their political or climate promises. The technologies are all hat, no cattle. However, the Climate Crisis and Clean Tech industries are determined to push ahead – using our money, risking little of their own, and getting reimbursed by us when their investments turn sour.

Google and NRG now want a $539-million federal grant to bail them out of $1.6 billion in taxpayer loans for the bird-roasting Ivanpah concentrated solar power project in California, because it does not work and needs so much natural gas to keep its water hot that it doesn’t meet state renewable energy standards. Other Obama “greenbacks” energy “investments” have also drowned in red ink, leaving taxpayers to pay the tab: Solyndra, Abound Solar, Solar Trust, Ener1, Beacon Power, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Musk is nevertheless lobbying for SB-350, which would require that 50% of California’s electricity be produced via “renewable” sources, such as wind, solar, biofuels and politicians’ hot air. Meanwhile, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s family and corporate foundations give millions to alarmist climate scientists, the ultra-green Energy Foundation, and rabid anti-fracking groups like the World Wildlife Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC also gets millions from EPA, to promote the agency’s anti-fossil fuel agenda and place 33 of its employees on 21 EPA “advisory” committees.

Schmidt and Warren Buffett also support the secretive far-left Tides Foundation, which has given millions to groups opposed to coal and hydraulic fracturing, the Keystone XL and Sandpiper pipeline projects, and countless other job-creating hydrocarbon programs. Canadian researcher Cory Morningstar accurately describes Tides as a “magical, money-funneling machine of epic proportions.”

Billionaire Nat Simons and his Sea Change Foundation spend tens of millions annually promoting and lobbying for “renewable” energy policies, mandates and subsidies; investing in wind, solar and biofuel companies; supporting environmentalist pressure groups; and contributing to Democrat politicians who perpetuate the crony corporatist arrangements. Simons, his wife and various Vladimir Putin cronies (via Klein, Ltd. and the shadowy Bermuda Wakefield Quin law firm) are the only contributors to Sea Change.

We often rail against Third World corruption. Our American (and European) environmental corruption is simply more subtle and sophisticated. It is legalized deception and theft – a massive wealth transfer from poor and middle class consumers and taxpayers to billionaires who are raking in still more billions, thanks to brilliantly crafted alarmist campaigns. And let’s not forget Al Gore, Mike Mann, Tom Steyer, James Hansen and all the others who likewise profit immensely from these arrangements – and the constant vilification of scientists who question climate catastrophe mantras.

Pressure groups and governing elites used to argue that we are running out of oil and natural gas. That ploy no longer works. While fossil fuels may eventually prove finite, fracking has given us vast new supplies of petroleum – and huge coal, oil and gas deposits have been placed off limits by government decree. We have at least a century to develop alternative energy sources that actually work – that create real jobs, actual revenues, lower energy prices and true prosperity – without the mandates, subsidies, deception, fraud and corruption that are the hallmark of “green” energy schemes.

No wonder the “clean tech” crowd is financing anti-hydrocarbon and climate chaos campaigns. But despite the Pope’s belated rescue attempt, the pseudo-science of “dangerous manmade global warming” is slowly succumbing to climate reality. And any new UN climate treaty will founder once poor nations realize the promised hundreds of billions a year will not materialize.

Those still impoverished nations should not do what rich countries are doing now that they are rich. They should do what rich countries did to become rich.

___________

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

Tom Tamarkin is founder and CEO of USCL Corporation and of the fusion energy advocacy groups http://www.fusion4freedom.us  and http://www.fuelRfuture.com. He is widely credited with inventing the utility industry smart meter and holds granted and pending patents in the field.

Categories: On the Blog
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