On the Blog

Ohio Gov. John Kasich Proposes Tax on E-Cigarettes

Somewhat Reasonable - April 20, 2015, 4:57 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is enacting a new excise tax on e-cigarettes in his 2016-2017 state budget, according to the latest Research & Commentary brief produced by The Heartland Institute.

If the budget proposal passes the legislature, Ohio will join Minnesota and North Carolina in taxing electronic cigarettes. Twelve other states put forth proposals for e-cigarette taxes last year, but none of them passed.

Kasich calls for a new excise tax on e-cigarettes, and an increase in taxes on regular cigarettes from $1.25 per pack to $2.25 per pack, notes the report, Research & Commentary: Ohio Tax Reform, or Tax Shift?

E-cigarettes have been considered “less harmful to individual and public health than traditional cigarettes,” the report states. Furthermore, the report indicated “sin taxes are problematic because they are unreliable and encourage unsustainable increases in government spending while placing an unnecessary burden on lower-income taxpayers.”

Research by the National Conference of State Legislatures suggests that with fewer Americans today smoking traditional cigarettes, a revenue stream that states have depended upon is rapidly decreasing.

E-cigarette products come in a number of styles.

One popular style is a cigarette-like tube, which is sold for $10 in convenience stores, and has self-contained batteries, chargers and liquid tanks.

Another style is a device about the size of a traditional cigarette pack, which allows a user to change liquid flavors, and is often sold in specialty vapor shops. The devices rely on bottles of liquid nicotine which vary in size and strength.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Gina Ray: The Mommy Lobby in Arizona

Somewhat Reasonable - April 20, 2015, 3:27 PM

Heather Kays speaks to Gina (pronounced Jenna) Ray, a mother of four and grassroots activist fighting against Common Core in Arizona. Ray is a member of the self-proclaimed Mommy Lobby, a group of parents, teachers and residents who want Common Core repealed and replaced in Arizona.

Ray says she and her group have dedicated many hours to attend and speak at meetings and legislative hearings regarding Common Core. An opt out movement is now growing and the anti-Common Core activists are increasing in number and becoming better organized as a group.

Kays and Ray discuss the work done so far by the Mommy Lobby and what the group intends to do to fight Common Core in the future.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Deepwater Horizon Five Years Later: Lessons Learned

Somewhat Reasonable - April 20, 2015, 11:36 AM

Five years ago, following a blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers, the nation was spellbound by the 87-day visual of oil flowing freely into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from the Macondo well. The 3.1 million barrels of spewed oil has been called “the world’s largest accidental marine spill” and “the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.”

Looking back, CNN reports: “There were dire predictions of what would follow. Environmentalists and others braced for an environmental collapse on a massive scale.” Indeed, there were extreme claims including one from Matt Simmons, known for his peak oil alarmism, who predicted the crude would “float all the way to Ireland.”

Now, five years later, however, we see that, while the Deepwater Horizon accident was a tragedy, the dramatic claims were hyperbole. Nevertheless, lessons have been learned—both regarding the resilience of the environment and safe and reliable offshore operations.

Louisiana’s Senator Vitter reflects: “In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I’ve been working with my colleagues to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again. The spill, and then President Obama’s completely misguided offshore drilling moratorium, caused economic chaos in Louisiana. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned, and while many important reforms have been made, there is still a lot of work toward recovery and implementing the important RESTORE Act.”

In preparation for the spill’s five-year anniversary, BP issued an extensive reportEnvironmental Recovery and Restoration­—which concludes, according to BloombergBusiness, the spill “didn’t do lasting damage to the ecosystem.” It isn’t surprising to hear BP attempt to burnish its badly tarnished image, but after BP has spent $28 billion on clean up and claims, others seem to agree with them.

While marshes were oiled, businesses have struggled, beaches were closed, and the restoration continues, it hasn’t been the ecological cliff that anti-petroleum groups predicted.

Despite the 13 miles of coast that suffered from “heavy oiling,” Science Magazine reports: “Nature has bounced back in surprising ways.” It states: “Brown pelicans were a poster child of the oil spill’s horrors, for instance, but there’s no sign the population as a whole has fallen. Shrimp numbers in the bay actually rose the year after the spill.” And, the state’s bayside sparrows, which had less productive nests in oiled areas, haven’t suffered “a drop in overall numbers.” Common minnows suffered a variety of abnormalities for “up to a year after the spill. Scientists have found no evidence, however,” that they “have caused fish numbers to drop in Louisiana’s estuaries.” Even the ants are starting to “come back and stay.”

Blum & Bergeron exports dried shrimp and is in its third generation of family ownership. It was just recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when, according to Louis Blum Jr., “Here comes BP.” He says: “It ruined our industry and us for the whole year.” Blum had to let his employees go and nearly closed the business forever. The International Business Times reports: “The company eventually collected about $106,000 from BP.” While it has been a struggle, the employees are back and sales have “returned to pre-spill levels.”

BloombergBusiness confirms: “Wildlife populations have bounced back.” Though dolphins and osyters are an exception, reports indicate that both experienced elevated mortality rates beginning before the spill.

Oysters are fickle and are impacted by “salinity, water temperature, and parasites.” The freshwater used to flush out the oil, combined with Louisiana’s diversion of fresh water into the Gulf and Mississippi River flooding in 2011, have all reduced salinity. Science cites third-generation oysterman Pete Vujnovich’s story. “After the spill, he bought rock and shell for replenishing some of his reefs with money from a compensation fund set up by BP. Those areas seem to be doing well. But older reefs are much less fertile than they were before.” It continues: “Scientists don’t have an answer for him. In 2012 and 2013, researchers put cages of oysters in the bay, some in places with oil, others in places that had dodged the spill, to see how mature oysters fared. They didn’t see a difference.”

Marsh erosion is another problem that began before the spill but went “into overdrive” after. Sciencepoints out: Flood control projects along the Mississippi River starve the bay of fresh sediment from upstream. Now, vegetation has grown back and erosion rates have subsided.

In the popular vacation town of Grand Isle, whose beaches remained closed for three years, Jean Landry, a local program manager for The Nature Conservancy says: “This summer feels more positive than any in the last five years. You see people coming back to their summer homes rather than renting them out to cleanup workers.”

The water is clean and “according to the Food and Drug Administration tests on edible seafood, shows no excess of hydrocarbons in the region’s food supply.” It is important to realize, according to the National Research Council estimates, “every year, the equivalent of 560,000 to 1.4 million barrels of oil—perhaps a quarter of the amount that BP spilled—seeps naturally from the floor of the Gulf.”

“The overall message is upbeat,” according to Ed Overton, an LSU chemist, who has spent years tracking chemical changes in the Deepwater oil that washed ashore. As quoted in Science, Overton says: “I think the big story is, it’s remarkable how Mother Nature can cure herself. It’s really hard to find permanent impacts.” Likewise, CNN states: “Ocean conservationist Philippe Cousteau witnessed much of the spill’s aftermath in 2010, but when he returned to the Gulf to dive near an oil rig last month, he was astonished by the abundance of amberjacks, hammerhead sharks and other marine life he saw.”

The Deepwater Horizon spill has taught us a lot about the resiliency of Mother Nature. While the Macondo crude oil didn’t float to Ireland and the permanent impacts are “hard to find,” no one ever wants to experience anything like it again. The accident, according to the Journal of Petroleum Technology, “spawned new technology, improved safety practices, and better operations awareness.”

Some of the new technology to prevent spills from occurring includes major revisions to pressure control equipment and well design standards, such as casing and cementing. For example, new equipment that can shear and seal joints and eliminate nonshearable sections, and technology that can provide information on the wellbore environment in close to real time has been introduced.

Improved safety practice is the focus of the new Center for Offshore Safety (COS), formed by the industry in 2011. COS executive director Charlie Williams reports: “Today the energy industry has established nearly 300 standards to help govern safe and reliable offshore operations”—many of which have been adopted into the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) new federal regulations.

Addressing operational awareness, Williams says: “I think there were many people that were prepared before Horizon. BSEE has required a lot of new things, including new ways of calculating how big a response you need.” He added: “The detail with which people understand the plan in both companies and the government has improved.”

“This tragedy has made us stronger as we continue to work to improve our state.” Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) said in a statement. “We have seen increased safety standards on deep-water production platforms in the Gulf, we have seen an increased spill response plan from the energy industry, and we will continue working to ensure the preservation of our beloved wetlands.”

The post-Deepwater Horizon world will continue to need oil and natural gas. Globally, and in the Gulf, drilling is continuing. While the industry will keep making changes and improvements based on the lessons learned at Macondo, we do not live in a risk-free world. We can manage and mitigate the potential hazards.

Dr. Rita Colwell, chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, an independent organization that studies the Gulf of Mexico ecology, the effects of the spill, and methods for cleanup and restoration, said: “It’s very important to know after all the studies are done, the best lessons learned are of where we should go, how we should act and what we should institute if there is a massive spill. We would hope there isn’t, but we have to be realistic. Sometimes accidents happen, and how you go in to work very quickly to minimize the effect on the environment, to maximize the recovery of the oil, to enhance the degradation of whatever is persistent and to understand the public health effects is very important.”

The president of the National Ocean Industries Association, Randall Luthi, agrees. He told me: “No well is worth the loss of a life and the Macondo Well accident was exactly that, an accident.  We, in industry, have taken the lessons learned from this in an effort to make a positive out of a very negative situation. By almost everyone’s account, we are wiser, safer and smarter.  Our workers live in the Gulf of Mexico region, it is their home, where they work, fish, hunt and raise their families. No one wants another accident.”

Technology and safety standards are important. But, perhaps, the best lesson learned is one that could be applied to all hyperbolic claims about environmental collapse at the hands of mankind: Mother Nature is remarkably resilient. Within a short period of time, she can cure herself.

Categories: On the Blog

Public Policy Implications of Dramatic Decline of Cocaine Consumption, Rise of Marijuana Explored

Somewhat Reasonable - April 20, 2015, 6:54 AM

Seven articles in the May 2015 issue of the medical journal Addiction examine the public policy implications of new research findings that demonstrate cocaine consumption in the U.S. has dropped dramatically during recent years, just as marijuana use has multiplied.

The debate and commentary articles were written by leading researchers in addiction studies and public policy. Addiction has been published by the Society for the Study of Addiction since 1884.

Researchers indicate that from 2006 to 2010, the amount of marijuana consumed in the U.S. increased by about 30%. During this same time period, consumption of cocaine dropped drastically, by 50%. During the first 10 years of this century, drug users spent approximately $100 billion annually in the U.S. on illegal cocaine and marijuana.

“Even for established drugs, consumption can change rapidly,” note the authors, Jonathan P. Caulkins, et al, in the journal’s lead debate piece, entitled, Cocaine’s fall and marijuana’s rise: questions and insights based on new estimates of consumption and expenditures in U.S. drug markets. But, “the halving of the cocaine market in five years and the parallel, but independent, large rise in daily and near-daily marijuana use are major events that were not anticipated by the expert community and raise important theoretical, research, and policy issues.”

Pot Legalization Working?

There are theories as to why marijuana use has climbed, but no dispositive, scientific proof just yet. One theory holds that marijuana legalization has occurred in many states in the U.S. since 2006 for medical and recreational uses. Those who once illicitly consumed cocaine may have switched to the newly legal marijuana, the researchers speculate. In the language of addictions physicians, this is the result of a policy called harm reduction, as cocaine is seen as medically more harmful than marijuana.

Another hypothesis is that the reduction in cocaine use comes from supply interdiction efforts by federal, state, and local law enforcement, including crop eradication, and a shift in the activities of cocoa farmers and violence and instability in Mexico.

Further research will need to be done to test these hypotheses, and find the facts in order to develop evidence-based public policy recommendations for regulating these drugs in the future.

Categories: On the Blog

Weather Bulletin 10: Winter Hangs On

Somewhat Reasonable - April 19, 2015, 6:53 PM

Despite Spring having sprung, in some places Winter is lingering with troublesome results.
Heavy snow swept across much of the Rockies during tax week, resulting in multiple multi-car pileups and interstate closures.

ABC news reports, an early spring snowstorm was blamed for crashes involving some 60 cars and trucks on Interstate 80 in southeastern Wyoming. Two dozen people were taken to a Cheyenne hospital. The American Red Cross provided food and shelter to people stranded by the accident.

In Colorado, crashes resulting from snowy conditions also closed portions of Interstate 70. The National Weather Service winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories for southeast Wyoming said up to a foot of snow was possible while Colorado faced more than 2 feet of snow in parts of the mountains. The Weather Service said the late-season storm threatened increase the danger of avalanches.

Winter has also failed to abandon the Maritime regions of Canada. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Western Prince Edward Island (PEI) were blanketed with heavier than normal winter snowfall (PEI was hit with more than 16 feet of snow). The accumulated snow has failed to melt and leaving wildlife authorities fearing for the health of the region’s deer herd and other wildlife. According to Canada News, More deer are being hit by cars this winter as they search for food near roadways clear of snow.

There are even reports of deer aborting their unborn fawns due to of their inability to find food.
Predators are also suffering as their primary prey, small animals and rodents, have been able to remain hidden below the snowpack while foraging for grasses, resulting in less food for carnivores.

Popular Canadian television wildlife expert, Hope Swinimer, says the winter has been hard on a number of species. Swinimer reports, “We do have a reported incident in which a litter of newborn raccoons were found dead out in the open on a snowbank in the backyard of a caller that can be attributed to the harsh winter impeding wildlife in the search for food.”

In addition, Swinimer has seen “a number of different wildlife species, including bobcats, owls, robins, and woodcocks brought to us for rehabilitation due to the harsh winter.” Swinimer reports there have also been “an abnormally high number” of certain species of migratory birds in jeopardy, most notably robins and American woodcocks. These migratory birds are returning north from long journey’s in their southern wintering grounds expecting open ground to forage for worms and insects so that they can recover from their journey and prepare for breeding and nest building. Instead, they return to the same deep snow and thick ice that has been hindering the predators.”

It seems nature hasn’t heard the news that human caused climate change is making winter’s disappear.

Categories: On the Blog

America’s Position in Foreign Policy Fading Fast Because of Obama’s Climate Stance

Somewhat Reasonable - April 19, 2015, 7:57 AM

This story from the United Kingdom that details information that has not been mentioned on U.S. television or the print media. In order to shrink our nation’s international influence, the Chinese Government has established the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The AIIB is to compete with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund which is influenced by the United States to avoid loans involving use of coal. As shown in the article, most developed nations have joined the AIIB in spite of President Obama’s protests.

President Obama has established his legacy as leading the world in the fight against catastrophic global warming caused by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide from using fossil fuels. His government has placed impediments against fossil fuel production on federal lands and export of oil and natural gas. In addition, the fight has succeeded in curtailing use of coal in electric power generation with some increase in utility rates.

The goal is to reduce fossil fuel use by at least 80 percent below the 2005 level by 2050. President Obama wants the rest of the world to follow suit and hopes to seal world approval by a United Nations treaty signed in Paris this December. Nature has not cooperated in helping President Obama push his agenda.

Proponents argue global warming will melt all the sea ice at the North and South poles. As of April 10, Arctic sea ice is 6.2 percent below its average from 1981 to 2010 and Antarctic sea ice is a whopping 29 percent greater than its average.

Proponents said 2014 was the warmest year in recorded history (1880 to present). Satellite temperature data shows 2014 had an average temperature of 0.275 degrees Centigrade while higher temperatures were recorded in 1998 and 2010 of 0.42 and 0.40, respectively. The data shows no increase in global temperatures in 17 years in spite of highest increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide in millennia—30 percent of the increase in the past 250 years.

Proponents claim snowfall will be a part of the past. January 22, 2015, EPA Administrator McCarthy was in Aspen, CO, the famous ski destination, and warned without action on climate change, “Aspen’s climate could be a lot like that of Amarillo, Texas by 2100.” For what it is worth, it snowed in Amarillo this winter. It is snowed more than 10 inches in Aspen April 16 and snow is still falling. In addition, record snowfall occurred this winter in the Northeast.

Proponents claim global warming is causing sea level rise that may be as much as six feet by 2100. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a data set of 128 tidal gauges in the United States and 112 in other countries that show no acceleration of sea level rise in more than a century. Global warming due to fossil fuel use is claimed to have started after 1950.

President Obama’s policies of thwarting fossil fuel production are diminishing our influence on world affairs by denying the United States’ unparalleled ability to supply fossil fuels to friendly nations. Developing nations need inexpensive coal to supply cheap electricity for their deprived masses. Attempts to stop funding coal plants in Asia saw creation of the AIIB and more ignoring U. S. interests.

Categories: On the Blog

Debate Over Global Warming Is Not Over, Despite Common Core Claims (Part 2)

Somewhat Reasonable - April 18, 2015, 10:42 PM

The scientific debate over global warming is not over.  According to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, only 20% of likely U.S. voters believe the scientific debate about global warming is over, while 63% disagree and say the debate still continues, and 17% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)  Neither is it true, despite numerous news reports, that 97% of scientists agree human activity is causing a climate crisis that demands we move on to government directed “solutions” to the crisis.

A poster produced by The Heartland Institute can be downloaded here with the faces, names, and titles of 58 experts who are current and former professors of climatology, geology, environmental science, physics, and economics at leading universities around the world. [NOTE: Because of its size in downloading, the Heartland Institute can send you a free copy delivered by mail (only in the U.S., please) by writing to: Global Warming Poster, The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive #2740, Chicago, IL  60606.]

For additional information to counter those who are trying to force the general public (and school children) to accept climate change as a catastrophic future happening, the Nongovernmental International Panel of Climate Change (NIPCC) has produced a series of comprehensive research reports and easy-to-read summaries addressing all aspects of the scientific debate over global warming.

The co-founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, shocked academics by insisting the theory of man-made climate change was not scientifically credible.  According to Coleman, what ‘little evidence’ there is for rising global temperatures points to a ‘natural phenomenon’ within a developing eco-system. In an open letter attacking the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, John Coleman wrote:

  • “The ocean is not rising significantly.”
  • “The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number.”
  • “Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing).”
  • “I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.”

To be listened to, and with good reason, is Patrick Moore, who as a co-founder and leader of Greenpeace for 15 years, is now chair and spokesman for Allow Golden Rice .  Mr. Moore was clear and direct in his article of March 20, 2015, “Why I am a Climate Change Skeptic.”

I am skeptical humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will be catastrophic in the near future. There is no scientific proof of this hypothesis, yet we are told ‘the debate is over’ and ‘the science is settled.’

My skepticism begins with the believers’ certainty they can predict the global climate with a computer model. The entire basis for the doomsday climate change scenario is the hypothesis increased atmospheric carbon dioxide due to fossil fuel emissions will heat the Earth to unlivable temperatures.

In fact, the Earth has been warming very gradually for 300 years, since the Little Ice Age ended, long before heavy use of fossil fuels. Prior to the Little Ice Age, during the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings colonized Greenland and Newfoundland, when it was warmer there than today. And during Roman times, it was warmer, long before fossil fuels revolutionized civilization.

The idea it would be catastrophic if carbon dioxide were to increase and average global temperature were to rise a few degrees is preposterous.

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced for the umpteenth time we are doomed unless we reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to zero. Effectively this means either reducing the population to zero, or going back 10,000 years before humans began clearing forests for agriculture. This proposed cure is far worse than adapting to a warmer world, if it actually comes about.

A sure sign that the push by government and other environmental organizations isn’t working, despite frantic efforts to convince the American people that global warming if unchecked will produce all manner of future catastrophic happening for Mother Earth, is that advocates of global warming have started to call for the arrest and punishment of those they label as climate-change liars.

It is indeed a credit to the American people that many aren’t stupid enough to buy into the manmade climate change crisis narrative being advanced by the Obama administration and other legislators at the state and national level.  It is telling that those who do believe in manmade global warming, including Al Gore, refuse to debate experts who disagree with them, preferring instead to label and further sensor those who challenge them as global skeptics “skeptic.”

Should the enactment of agenda-based political policies mandating the use of renewable energy while curtailing the use of fossil fuels continue to be legislated at the federal and state level, the end results will be higher costs for energy and for all goods we purchase and periods of blackout when existing energy supply cannot meet demand.  To most Americans the continued obsession over the effects of manmade global warming when in reality man has little if any ability to control the climate, should be a no brainer.

It you are not yet convinced that climate change (global warming) is mostly natural and not man-made, here are 100 reasons released by the European Foundation that should convince all but the most ardent Climate Change believer that man cannot control the climate.  Consider that man-made carbon dioxide emissions throughout human history constitute less than 0.00022 percent of the total naturally emitted from the mantle of the earth during geological history.

Through the process of elections, American citizens can replace administrations and legislators who advocate for faulty and unrealistic measures that breed economic disaster.  But what about our children, who, through no choice of their own, are being schooled in a global warming doctrine that is linked to a political agenda that is all about power and control.  Bravo to the state of West Virginia, but it is unrealistic to believe that Illinois will respond willingly in a similar way. West Virginia has altered its standards for teaching science to introduce doubts about what is incorrectly being described as the “scientific” consensus on climate change that is occurring and greatly influenced by human activity.

Parents must know what their children are learning and reteach faulty information if necessary.  Attend school board meetings to confront your school administration about Common Core Curriculum guidelines for Science, Math, Language Arts, and History.  By all means contact your state legislator to advice that Global Warming (also known as Climate Change) is at best a hypothesis which would only further exacerbate the dismal economic conditions that now exists in Illinois if followed through. The bill Scott Drury is proposing for Illinois must be stopped.  It is bad for Illinois and must not become law.

Read Part 1 here.

[First published at Illinois Review.]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: How Republicans Can Cut Through the Obamacare Chaos

Somewhat Reasonable - April 17, 2015, 3:45 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 everyFridaywith a highlight show.

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

Why Environmentalists Will Eventually Hate Renewable Power
Donny Kendal, Human Events
“The proliferation of renewable energy will never please environmentalists. In fact, the more efficient and inexpensive energies like solar and wind become, the more environmentalists will fear and eventually hate them.” READ MORE Heartland Event: Charles C.W. Cooke – ‘The Conservatarian Manifesto’
Nancy Thorner, for Somewhat Reasonable
Charles C.W. Cooke’s new book The Conservatarian Manifesto is a call to arms for the growing movement of “conservatarians”— members of the right who are fiscally conservative but socially liberal — and a fascinating look at conservatism’s past and future. If you missed this great Heartland event at the Union League Club, read about it (and watch the video) at the blog.  READ MORE How Republicans Can Cut Through the Obamacare Chaos After Kingv. Burwell
Peter Ferrara, American Thinker
“Republicans and conservatives who can’t or won’t vigorously and articulately argue the case for reforming Obamacare should be replaced with new leadership. We must also present and argue for the full Patient Power, free-market health care vision that will replace Obamacare once the currently serving Great Mistake in the White House is replaced with new leadership next year as well.” READ MORE Featured podcast: Nate Benefield – Limiting State Spending
Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Budget & Tax News, is joined by Commonwealth Foundation Vice President of Policy Analysis Nate Benefield. Hathaway and Benefield discuss a new bill being proposed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Taxpayer Protection Act, which would restrict the growth of the state’s spending by keeping spending increases in line with population increases and the rate of inflation. LISTEN TO MORE

Heartland Is Hiring!
Do you believe in smaller government and more individual liberty? Do you believe free markets solve social and economic problems better than government planning? The Heartland Institute might have just the job for you! We’re looking for eager self-starters to manage several important projects that will have a real impact on policy in this country. READ MORE

Heartland’s James M. Taylor Wins Debate Against Floridians for Solar Choice
Jim Lakely, Somewhat Reasonable
“There was no vote or show of hands at the end of the presentations. No accounting of which presenter swayed more of the congregation. My subjective reaction was that the applause for Taylor was enthusiastic, for Perfetti polite. At the end, Perfetti did not ask for an endorsement of his amendment. And no one offered, though several people told me afterward that they liked the idea. More said they didn’t.”   READ MORE Heartland Experts React to New Net Neutrality Regulations
“The FCC did not impose strict net neutrality rules to solve a problem for consumers, who wield power in the market to correct any ‘harm’ to their digital wants and needs. FCC imposed net neutrality to gain control over the digital economy – and force the big players in the industry to put the whims of government bureaucrats ahead of the needs of their customers.” READ MORE Happy Tax Day! Heartland’s Experts ‘Celebrate’
“Surely the Framers who envisioned a limited national government with strictly enumerated powers that could levy taxes solely on a per capita basis would recognize neither the income tax system of today nor the out-of-control government that it has spawned.” READ MORE Bonus podcast: Ben Boychuk – Common Core, Parent Trigger Laws and School Choice
Heather Kays welcomes to the podcast Ben Boychuk, the new the project manager for education issues at The Heartland Institute, to discuss the latest news about Common Core, the parent trigger, and other school reform efforts nationwide. LISTEN TO MORE EPA Tells Kids to Avoid Baths and Asks them to Check Toilets for Leaks
Justin Haskins, Breitbart
“When kids aren’t busy timing their showers to ensure they remain as unclean as possible and training to be future plumbers, they can ‘test’ their ‘water sense’ by playing EPA’s Pac-Man-inspired online game starring the ‘water-efficiency hero,’ Flo. The goal of the game is to move Flo, a cartoon water drop, ‘through water pipes and answer water-efficiency questions while avoiding water-wasting monsters.’ There’s nothing kids hate more than those darn water-wasting monsters.” READ MORE Ohio Teachers Strongly Dislike Common Core Tests
Joy Pullmann, School Choice Weekly
The results of a survey of thousands of Ohio public school teachers vindicate years of warnings from Common Core opponents that the tests will be a train wreck – both because they demand technology far beyond what most schools can support and because Common Core itself is nebulous and unlikely to produce clear test questions.  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

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jonathan Williams: Rich States, Poor States

Somewhat Reasonable - April 17, 2015, 3:42 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Budget & Tax News Jesse Hathaway speaks with Jonathan Williams. Williams is the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Director. Williams and Hathaway discuss the newest findings in this year’s edition of Rich States, Poor States, authored by economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, and Jonathan Williams, Vice President of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Center for State Fiscal Reform.

The Rich States, Poor States report, published every year by ALEC, ranks the overall economic outlook for every state in the nation using 15 policy variables. Williams explains why the economic outlook for states like Illinois and Wisconsin improved significantly, but the outlook for states like Michigan and Delaware has dimmed considerably.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Left’s Hidden Plan to End Free Speech and Two Ways to Stop It

Somewhat Reasonable - April 17, 2015, 12:24 PM

The modern American left will someday be remembered as one of history’s truly “odd ducks.” Unlike many of the redistributionist movements of the past, American leftism has managed to melt diametrically opposed concepts, such as “individual liberty” and “government-mandated equality,” into a singular, conflicting political platform.

On the one hand, the leftist says every American needs to respect the rights of homosexual couples. Christians and others shouldn’t impose their own moral and philosophical framework on the rest of society, they say. Liberty should be respected.

On the other hand, the same leftist would tell the Christian owners of a business, as was the case with Hobby Lobby, they must financially support their employees’ abortions even though it clearly violates the owners’ religious beliefs.

The entire leftist movement has been built on this very shaky foundation. It’s not as though American liberalism holds fast to a set of concrete principles—they clearly don’t. The whole enterprise is dependent on convincing as many groups as possible that the rest of the world has it out for them and that salvation rests in faith in the left’s quasi-socialistic experiment.

In other words, the ends always justify the means for the leftist movement, principles be damned.

It’s within this framework that liberals have been making a concerted effort to destroy their enemies—those who support liberty and individual choice. This is conducted in a variety of ways, but one of the most essential tactics has been to create the false narrative that those who support liberty do so only because they are interested in making the rich richer and keeping the poor poorer. The actual policy arguments made by pro-liberty politicians, think tanks, associations, and individuals are all really just tricks designed to help an often faceless old, rich, white man who is pulling the strings behind a cigar-smoke-filled curtain.

The only solution to this problem, the left argues, is for there to be “more transparency.” If big, evil corporations are really the ones controlling the country, the only way to stop these greedy individuals is to force them out from behind the shadows, exposing the “dark money” they give to countless think tanks, political associations, and pro-liberty movements.

This very strategy was recently used by leftist groups like Greenpeace and their media allies, notably The New York Times, to smear Dr. Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who is skeptical of the theory of manmade global warming. The Times accused Soon, who not-so-coincidently co-authored a highly influential peer-reviewed paper in Science Bulletin earlier this year undermining various claims made by climate change alarmists, of being biased and deliberately misleading readers by failing to disclose in his published work that some of the funding received by the Smithsonian for his work has come from the oil and natural gas industry.

The Times story resulted in Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) sending letters to numerous climate scientists demanding they too disclose all of their funding sources, as if the merits of an idea ought to be measured based upon the perceived quality of the funding sources.

Leftist causes, of course, are also connected to numerous industries and wealthy backers. Any an unbiased person with access to the Internet could quickly find all sorts of undisclosed connections between mega-rich leftist George Soros and countless liberal causes.

It’s obvious then that the purpose of the left’s attack on people like Soon is not motivated by principles, but is instead another ends-justify-the-means assault on the free speech of those the left disagrees with. For many American liberals, you only have rights if you agree with their causes. If you disagree, you need to be silenced—and quickly.

The organized plan by the left, which was ironically likely formulated in a cigar-smoke-filled room, is to silence critics through intimidation under the guise of transparency. In order to protect against these assaults, legal protections are desperately needed that shield supporters of political movements, on all sides of every political debate, from intimidation and retaliation.

Nick Dranias, constitutional scholar and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, recently published a Policy Study with Heartland that provides several methods for protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights to political speech without being retaliated against. The study, titled “In Defense of Private Civic Engagement: Why the Assault on ‘Dark Money’ Threatens Free Speech–and How to Stop the Assault,” suggests the passage of two important pieces of legislation that would stop the left’s plan to undermine pro-liberty causes by attacking individuals rather than the ideas themselves.

The first of Dranias’s proposals, dubbed the “Free Speech Privacy Act,” would act as a “federalism shield” for free speech, “prohibiting the enforcement [by the states] of any law directly or indirectly conditioning the exercise of the rights of free speech and association on the disclosure of the identity of a person or entity who fears a reasonable probability of social, political, or economic retaliation from such disclosure.”

The second proposed reform, named the “Publius Confidentiality Act,” would allow any individual to register a confidential identifier for use in political activities. This would make it even more difficult for groups to retaliate using personal attacks against people they disagree with. It was inspired by identity shield laws that protect victims of domestic violence.

These reforms would ensure people could freely donate funds or engage in political activities without fear of being “exposed” for simply exercising their guaranteed freedoms, a principle that was an essential part of the United States’ founding.

Such measures would force all people across the political spectrum to battle with the ideas of others rather than resort to the petty, ugly intimidation tactics that have become commonplace in modern America.

[Originally published on Human Events]

Categories: On the Blog

Americans Have a ‘Right’ To Receive Health Care, Humana CEO Claims

Somewhat Reasonable - April 17, 2015, 7:55 AM

The CEO of one of America’s largest health insurance companies, Humana, this week told shareholders that it is the company’s position that every American inherently has “a right” to receive health care.

Bruce D. Broussard, the chief executive officer of the Louisville, Ky.-based health insurer, with $41.3 billion in revenues and status as a major federal Medicare and state Medicaid contractor, made the civil rights remarks in response to a question from a shareholder at the company’s annual meeting this week in Atlanta. “I think at Humana, we have one fundamental belief and that is that individuals have a right to receive health care. And we as an organization are supporting that in multiple ways,” said Broussard. “I think that if you look at where we have our businesses, Medicare Advantage and Part B, are two great examples of that.”

Observers have noted that many major health insurance companies supported the enactment of the controversial Obamacare law as their executives believed that under the statute the health insurance industry would become a government-created monopoly, and regulated like a public utility. Rather than serving consumers in the free market, these CEOs want the government to guarantee them income through corporate welfare.

But it isn’t working out quite that way, and the Supreme Court is poised to strike down the convoluted law this summer.

Not Constitutional

Justin Danhof, an attorney and the director at the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Public Policy Research’s free enterprise project, commented that Humana’s position is not supported by America’s founding law, Congressional statute or any legal precedent.

“Broussard’s statement that health care is a ‘right’ is an odd one,” said Danhof. “It certainly isn’t provided for in the Constitution. And millions of Americans make rational decisions to either self-insure, or refuse to purchase health insurance.”

Danhof also noted that Humana’s position does not really make sense, financially, right now, for the publicly-traded firm which trades on the New York Stock Exchange for $177.68 per share under the ticker symbol, HUM. “If health care is a right, is he saying his company must pay for every procedure from every person who wants coverage from cradle-to-grave?” Danhof wondered, after the shareholders meeting.

Humana recently filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court supporting Obamacare in the case of King v. Burwell, which is currently with the justices for a decision, expected this summer.

President Roosevelt proposed making health care a civil right during the Great Depression in the 1930s, but the progressive plan never was enacted into law.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Dave Quast: California’s Drought-Stricken Water Supply

Somewhat Reasonable - April 16, 2015, 4:44 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Research Fellow Isaac Orr talks with Dave Quast. Quast is the California Director of Energy In Depth. Quast and Orr discuss the a range of issues pertaining to California’s water supply.

It seems like everyone is talking about the drought in California. Environmental groups have been quick to blame hydraulic fracturing for California’s water woes. Last year, fracking used 70 million gallons of water, but this amount is miniscule when compared to the amount of water used for residential and agricultural purposes.

In this podcast, Quast and Orr talk about California’s water supply, including the impact of hydraulic fracturing, agriculture, diverting rivers for wildlife habitat restoration, and watering lawns in the desert have on the state’s water resources.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Gwyneth Paltrow Speaks Out About Food Stamps

Somewhat Reasonable - April 16, 2015, 4:42 PM

On the morning of April 9, celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow sent out a tweet that has people up in arms (again). The same woman who gave fame to the term “conscious uncoupling,” is now speaking out about the SNAP program.

In her tweet, Paltrow states, “This is what $29 gets you at the grocery store—what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week.”

So we have a head of lettuce, a dozen eggs, dry black beans, brown rice, frozen green peas, corn tortillas, an ear of corn, kale, a large clove of garlic, a tomato, seven (yes, seven) limes, a bunch of cilantro, a hot pepper, green onions, a yellow onion, an avocado, a sweet potato. I would like to imagine Gwyneth is making tacos tonight. While delicious, her grocery purchases are not a good representation of food to last and entire week.

SNAP or Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is one of many food assistance programs run by the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service, which also happens to be one of the many agencies that provide food assistance. As the name suggests, the $74 billion taxpayer-funded SNAP program provided to low-income Americans is meant to supplement their food budgets. The program isn’t meant for recipients to live off of.

According to the USDA’s SNAP website, the maximum monthly allotment in supplemental assistance for a single person is $191 or $45 a day (not $29, according to Gwyneth). For a family of four the maximum monthly allotment is $649.

Even if you did have $29 a week to live on, would you be making tacos for the entire week? Americans on supplemental assistance that are struggling to provide for their families aren’t buying seven limes, cloves of garlic and fresh herbs. They are buying products that will fill them up- like frozen and canned foods, ground beef, bread, bananas, milk, and cereal. They are also buying those products in bulk.

Instead of Paltrow misidentifying how to actually stretch a food budget, this country needs spokespeople who can address obstacles of overcoming government dependency.

The same woman who told Conan O’Brien “I would rather die than let my child eat Cup-a-Soup,” is probably not the appropriate spokesperson.

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate Change War Heats Up

Somewhat Reasonable - April 16, 2015, 3:57 PM

There is so much at stake for the charlatans that have foisted the failed “global warming” hoax, followed by the equally dubious claims and predictions regarding “climate change”, that it should come as no surprise that they have begun to wage a propaganda war on the courageous scientists who led the struggle to educate the public about the truth and the organizations who supported their efforts.

Along the way, many groups and publications claiming scientific credentials abandoned those standards to pump out global warming and climate change propaganda. Scientists discovered they could secure grant money for “research” so long as it supported claims that the North and South Poles, as well as all the world’s glaciers were melting. “Research” that predicted vast hurricane activity or a massive rise in ocean levels became routine headlines. None of it occurred. Both the government and liberal foundations provided millions to maintain the hoax.

Now we have a President claiming that his daughter’s asthma was due to “climate change.”  It is obscene nonsense. If this was just a disagreement between scientists, we could look on as the facts determine the outcome, but there are vast agendas as stake so we have to keep in mind that billions have been wasted on “renewable energy” alternatives to replace fossil fuels; the oil, coal, and natural gas that are the heart’s blood of modern nations and our lives.

We have to ask why the United Nations Framework on Climate Change takes such a dim view of the world’s population that it cites its use of energy and other resources as a reason to reduce it instead of celebrating it. Hard-core environmentalists do not like humans because they build houses, start businesses, need roads, and generally consume a lot and then create trash. Climate change is also the platform the U.N. is using to “transform” the world’s economy.

We have to ask why our government is engaged in shutting down the coal-fired plants that provide the bulk of the electricity we use. This isn’t just a war on coal. It is a war on our entire economic system, capitalism. It is a war on Americans by their own government.

Lately, politicians at the federal level have declared war on those scientists whose research and findings have helped the public conclude, along with eighteen years of a natural cooling cycle, that “global warming” is no threat and that we have far greater threats to address than the vague notion that “climate change” is a problem we humans can affect in any way. We can’t and we don’t.

A recent example has been letters sent to seven university presidents by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee asking for information on scientists and professors who had given congressional testimony that raised questions about “climate change.”  Grijalva had no legal authority to request such information, but his intention was intimidation. In 2013, when asked about his legislative agenda by These Times, he replied “I’m a Saul Alinsky guy” referring to the activist whose book, “Rules for Radicals”, spells out ways to attack one’s political enemies.

Pete Peterson, the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy, identified Grijalva’s letters as “scare tactics” concluding that we have come to a time when “The inability of politicians to confront another’s argument much less to attempt to persuade the other side, has become standard operating procedure. Now this toxic approach is extending to the broader world of policy—including scientific research.”

Around the same time, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Sen. Ed Markey sent a letter to a hundred companies, grade groups and other organizations “affiliated with the fossil fuel industry asking whether they spent money to support climate research.”  The message was simple: do not sponsor research that would reveal inaccuracies or falsehoods regarding claims that “climate change” was a threat. The inference was that scientific research receiving such funding would betray scientific standards in ways that government or foundation funding would not.

Suffice to say the letters evoked outrage. As a policy advisor to the free market think tank, The Heartland Institute, I was aware of the response of its president, Joe Bast who called the letters something that “fascists do.” He was not alone. The Washington Times called the Senators “climate change Toquemadas” and The Wall Street Journal said the letters were nothing more than an effort to silence science.

When Sen. Whitehouse aired his unhappiness in an April 14 blog post the Huffington Post, “Right-Wing Groups Get Overheated on Climate Questions”, Bast responded asking, “If the Senator’s letter wasn’t intended as harassment of individuals who disagree with his extremist views on the climate, why the overly broad demand, the ridiculous deadline, the implied threat of action, and the news release saying it was intended to expose a diabolical conspiracy of ‘right-win groups’?”

When “climate change” reaches the political heights of Congress and the White House, it should come as no surprise that the charlatans who want to use this hoax for their own benefit and agendas are going to unleash efforts to smear and intimidate those scientists who have put true facts before the public.

In late March, Michael Bastash of The Daily Caller reported that “A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ concern about warming has fallen to the same level it was in 1989. In fact, global warming ranked at the bottom of a list of Americans’ environmental concerns, with only 32 percent saying they were worried about it a ‘great deal.’”

That’s what has the politicians and U.N. officers on the offensive to silence scientists and defame think tanks and other organizations that have helped Americans come to the sensible conclusion that a “warming” isn’t happening and the planet’s climate is something over which they have no control.

Categories: On the Blog

Progressives Attack Free Speech, Scientific Inquiry at Leading U.S. Museums

Somewhat Reasonable - April 16, 2015, 2:09 PM

Progressive activists are mounting an aggressive assault on the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and its American Museum of Natural History, two of the most prestigious academic research centers and museums in the world, potentially threatening independent scientific inquiry and free speech there.

The Smithsonian museum is home to about 185 scientists, the largest faculty of research talent of its kind on the planet, and it has more than 126 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, and meteor fragments in its scientific collections. Located on the Mall, in Washington D.C., and with a history dating back to 1910, the museum educated 8 million visitors in 2013. The American museum is located up the coast in New York City on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, near Central Park. It houses 32 million specimens of plants, humans, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites and cultural artifacts from throughout human history. More than 5 million visitors come there yearly.

The progressives are outraged that the New York museum has accepted funding from David Koch, and are trying to get the “oil mogul” removed from the board of directors there and at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

“Oil mogul David Koch sits on the board of our nation’s largest and most respected natural history museums, while he bankrolls groups that deny climate science,” writes an activist who identifies herself as Beka Economopoulos, a MoveOn.Org member in New York City, in an e-mail, sent on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 5:25 p.m. from the MoveOn.org servers. “Sign this petition to the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History: It’s time to get science deniers out of science museums. Kick Koch off the board.”

The e-mail includes links to “add your name to this petition” and “pass it along to your friends.” This kind of progressive assault on free speech – donating money to a museum and sitting on its board of directors is a right protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution – is increasingly common by the Left. The money donated to the museum helps fund the exhibits and helps keep the staff there gainfully employed in scientific inquiry.

Koch donated $35 million to help build a new dinosaur hall at the American museum, according to a report in The Washington Post.

A forthcoming report by The Heartland Institute by Constitutional scholar Nick Dranias addresses the underlying intolerance of the Left for contrary opinions.

“Being able to speak freely and give money anonymously has a long and distinguished history in the U.S. The Declaration of Independence, the campaigns for approval of the U.S. Constitution and the end of slavery, and the modern civil rights movement all relied for their success on the right to keep private the identities of persons expressing their opinions or financing unpopular causes,” writes Dranias in the Heartland policy study, In Defense of Private Civic Engagement: Why the Assault on ‘Dark Money’ Threatens Free Speech – and How to Stop the Assault. “Today, that right is under attack by groups on the Left using Alinskyite tactics and campaign finance laws to silence and intimidate anyone who disagrees with them. The right to participate anonymously in debates over matters of public policy is more important than ever.”

According to The Washington Post, Koch, who has a $25 billion fortune, has given “broadly to political, health and arts” organizations for years. He’s donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Ballet Theater and Lincoln Center in addition to the Smithsonian.

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton, who is running for President of the U.S., recently left the Clinton Foundation, which also accepted monies from oil interests, just like the Smithsonian. According to public records, ExxonMobil, Anadarko Petroleum, and the Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada agency collectively donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, news reports indicate. Mrs. Clinton has been a public supporter of fracking, an oil exploration methodology opposed by climate alarmists, and has not yet been asked to explain her oil industry ties by MoveOn.org.

Academics, led by William Happer, chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, issued an open letter to non-profits and museums today urging them to reject the claims of radical environmentalists increasingly being made against the oil industry, its leaders, and fossil fuels, false arguments which they said were “profoundly anti-human and immoral.”

 

Categories: On the Blog

‘Soda Tax’ Plan Fizzling Out in Vermont

Somewhat Reasonable - April 16, 2015, 8:11 AM

A plan to impose a “soda tax” on retail customers proposed as part of a healthcare reform financing package in Vermont has apparently been scrapped by legislators, much to the chagrin of the state’s progressive Governor Peter Shumlin (D).

Lawmakers there worry about the economic impact of a soda tax, particularly on merchants in towns located on the state’s border with New Hampshire. Many retailers there make a large percentage of their annual sales to out-of-state residents, whose purchasing power would be curtailed by the soda tax.

House Speaker Shap Smith (D) said the state needs to revamp how physicians there are reimbursed by Medicaid, and that increasing reimbursement fees the state pays doctors would be one way to persuade more primary care doctors to take Medicaid patients.

Most of the planned $20 million “health reform” bill’s costs were to be paid by the soda tax, which would have imposed a half cent per ounce tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages. The soda tax was projected to raise $18 million per year for Vermont, according to local news reports.

The State House Committee on Appropriations continues debate on the faltering healthcare reform proposal this week.

An earlier plan for “single payer” health care reform in Vermont also failed.

Categories: On the Blog

China “Gets Things Done,” They’re Just Bad for the Environment

Somewhat Reasonable - April 15, 2015, 11:10 PM

Many environmentalists have no sense of history. They often bemoan the fact that in the U.S. and other Western democracies leaders have to get the public’s buy in for most major policies. Leaders, if they wish to stay in office, usually just can’t impose  any policies they (or enviro wack-jobs) wish, but rather have to convince a significant portion of the public or at least their representatives, that the policies will accomplish some worthwhile, desirable end.

Many environmentalists have displayed totalitarian envy, praising dictators in communist or other totalitarian countries because they “can get things done quickly,” without the give and take of vote trading, public hearings, rule proposals and adjustments, etc…

What they ignore in this foolish tendency to the totalitarian impulse is that tyrants often don’t take environmentalists wishes into account any more than anyone elses. When the Berlin wall fell, we found (as many economist predicted) that the worst environmental conditions in the world were found behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern European countries. Air and water quality, and toxic releases were far worse there than in the dirtiest U.S. city — as they still are in China.

Now, I love the outdoors and hate pollution or anything else that mars wild places or disrupts wildlife habitats — which, more than the cost, is why I really dislike wind and solar farms. Still, it was a small amount of guilty glee mixed in with my dismay that I read that China is paving over coral reefs South China Sea.

According to Blacklisted News,  the U.S. Navy is reporting Beijing is undertaking an “unprecedented land reclamation, … creating a great wall of sand” over four square kilometers, in the disputed area in the South China Sea.

Speaking at a naval conference in Australia, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris Jr. said China has been “pumping sand on to live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving over them with concrete. China has now created over 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of artificial landmass.”

Submerged reefs in the Spratlys archipelago have been turned into artificial islands with buildings, wharves and runways.

While China claims a vast majority of the South China sea, it still has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia. Earlier this month Vietnam and the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest with Beijing.

Now, that’s getting things done.

In another move sure to tweek environmentalists noses, China has also decided to cut coal-fired power prices. Bloomberg business reports, China intends to cut prices for electricity generated by coal-fired plants in an attempt to lower companies’ operating costs and aid a struggling economy.

This move would seem to undermine the country’s commitment to cap carbon-dioxide emissions and to rein in coal use to improve the nation’s air quality.

In one party states, absent political give and take and real public input, the environment continues to get short shrift when the economy is in trouble.

Imagine what would happen if President Obama decided to pave over a few coral reefs for a naval base. It would never fly. But, thank goodness, in China the government can get things done.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Elementary Students Indoctrinated About Global Warming Via Common Core (Part 1)

Somewhat Reasonable - April 15, 2015, 3:55 PM

What is happening in a 4th grade class at Cherokee Elementary School in Lake Forest School District 67 in far northern Illinois is not unlike what is happening in classrooms around this state and nation. Students at Cherokee Elementary School have been learning about renewable sources of energy. In the process they are being encourage to become young political activists through interaction with their Lake Forest City government and their local Democrat state representative, Scott Drury of the 58th State House district.

The article heretofore referenced, “Cherokee students, state experts talk renewable energy,” was written by Steve Sadin of the Pioneer Press, a Chicago Tribune Publication, where it appeared in print on Thursday, April 9, 2015.

Children are extremely gullible. They will accept whatever their teachers convey to them. Consider the polar bear ruse. Most likely these 4th graders fell prey to the polar bear ruse in an earlier grade when global warming was first introduced. Images of periled polar bears (bears can swim!) sinking into arctic seas because of melting polar ice caps have become an iconic symbol of the devastating consequences of so-called global warming.  However, a new government investigation into the supposed science surrounding this now-infamous urban legend has revealed that it was likely nothing more than a pseudoscientific hoax propagated by faulty math and perfunctory observations.

What if the Obama administration and politicians in Washington D.C., as well as those in our state capitol, are using fear of global warming to justify higher taxes, new regulations, and huge subsidies to insiders and major donors to their political campaigns.  It is estimated that on the whole global warming legislation would result in raising energy costs for a typical family by $3,900 every year and increase the risk of dangerous power outages. Even the Obama administration admits how reductions in energy use caused by its policies would have no effect on the global climate.  Why, because any reduction in carbon dioxide emission by the U.S. would be more than offset by increases in emissions from China, India, and other countries.

Do parents know what their children are being taught in their classrooms?  The Common Core Science curriculum teaches that global warming is manmade and that the science behind global warming is settled. The “Essential Principles of Climate Science”, composed of seven guidelines, has as its guiding principle that humans can take actions to reduce climate change and its impacts. As to Common Core standards, a framework is set forth for K-12 Science Education which includes suggested guidelines for what children should know by the end of 5th, 8th and 12 grades. For example, by the end of 8th grade students are expected to accept that human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature as reflected in global warming.

When 4th graders at the Cherokee Elementary School, through research, settled on wind and solar power as the best power methods for the City of Lake Forest, having rejected hydroelectric power, were they ever encouraged to research the drawbacks inherent in wind and solar power before they went vocal with their conclusions?  Not likely, as the purpose of their research was to ascertain that renewable energy sources are good for the environment, while fossil fuels are bad and cause global warming.

Instead, the 4th graders accepted hook, line and sinker that fossil fuels cause global warming, which was then reinforced by a visit from their Illinois state representative Steve Drury and others classroom guests, with agendas that advance global warming alarmism.

Some of the major disadvantages of wind energy are that no electricity is produced if there is no wind, it is expensive to install, big acreages of land have to be used, and the turbines kill birdsRegarding solar power, as solar systems rely on the steady absorption of sunlight, Illinois has a solar power disadvantage given its many cloudy and sunless days. Then too solar panels gradually become damaged by ultraviolet radiation. Rain, snow, dirt, temperature fluctuations, hail and wind also pose serious hazards.  Solar panels are also costly to install and they do emit environmental pollutants.

In keeping with the expressed goal of the Cherokee students, how to turn their ideas into law, IL Representative Scott Drury informed the eager and attentive children of a bill he is proposing that would require 35% of Illinois’s power to come from renewable sources by 2030 and to further reduce the amount of energy used 20% by 2025.

Does Representative Scott Drury really understand the implications of his bill on the people of Illinois?  To which these questions might be posed to Drury: “Are we going to cover all of Illinois with windmills?”  And what about solar panels, Representative Drury?  How effective are they here in northern Illinois?  It is evident that 4th grade students at Cherokee Elementary School have been well trained to accept global warming as real. For when Drury asked the students their opinions on renewable energy vs. the effects of global warming and the problems caused by fossil fuel, most hands went up in support of the environmental platform.

The sun and the wind might be free, but converting them to reliable electricity is expensive, if not impossible to do.  Even when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, we still expect electricity for all our needs, meaning that backup power on demand is required.  In Illinois coal presently supplies 40% of its power, yet a coal power plant in Waukegan, IL (about 10 miles north of Lake Forest) was used as an example by a Sierra Club representative to convey to Cherokee students how smoke from burning coal, a fossil fuel, produces mercury which goes into the water and the air and can cause asthma.  The same representative informed the class of 4th graders that coal burning caused global warming and that the use of renewable energy would arrest the trend.

Already the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) absurd restrictions on limiting CO2 emissions have forced the closure of many coal-fired plants that are needed to provide low cost electricity.  Does it really make sense for the EPA to impose draconian measures here in this nation, while leaders of the European Union are moving away from green policies that have resulted in driving up the cost of electricity across Europe?

Following are some basic facts about Global Warming that are in direct contrast to the spoon-fed pabulum that is being force-fed as undisputed fact through the mainstream media and our government-sanctioned educational system.

  • There is no scientific consensus on the human role in climate change.
  • Future warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions will be much less than the United Nations forecasts.
  • Carbon dioxide has not caused weather to become more extreme, polar ice and sea ice to melt, or sea level rise to accelerate.
  • Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is extremely expensive and won’t affect the weather.
  • Public policies should aim at fostering economic growth to adapt to natural climate change.

In other words:

  • Scientists don’t know how much of the global warming (or “climate change” as it is often called now) of the twentieth century was man-made and how much is natural?
  • Scientists don’t know whether temperatures in the future will be higher than they are now, or lower.
  • The benefits of warmer temperatures and more carbon dioxide in the air will be greater than the costs they create for at least the next 100 years or longer.

Part 2 will present information from reliable and knowledgeable scientists and organizations to challenge those who insist that the scientific debate over global warming is over and that 97% of scientists agree human activity is causing a climate crisis that demands we move on to government directed solutions to the crisis.

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Edward Timmons: Occupational Licensing Laws

Somewhat Reasonable - April 15, 2015, 12:17 PM

In this episode of the Budget & Tax News podcast, managing editor Jesse Hathaway talks with Saint Francis University associate professor of economics Edward Timmons about the stated goals and real-world effects of occupational licensing laws. States such as Colorado and Oregon are proposing making it more difficult for people to be employed doing things they enjoy doing, like yoga instruction or music therapy.

As Timmons explains, empirical evidence collected over the years suggests that consumers do not benefit from more stringent licensing requirements. Instead, evidence leads him to conclude existing special-interest groups and established players in markets are the primary beneficiaries of forcing new entrants to seek government approval before they are allowed to join these professions.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Obamacare’s Tax Day Surprise

Somewhat Reasonable - April 15, 2015, 9:53 AM

As many as 6 million people are facing higher taxes today because they decided the insurance offered to them under the Affordable Care Act was not worth the price, even after government subsidies. Another 3.4 million people will pay higher taxes because they failed to accurately predict their income when they obtained their insurance.

And the tax treatment of Obamacare subsidies is so complicated, even the IRS has trouble getting things right. The agency admits that it sent the wrong forms to 800,000 taxpayers.

The first problem arises because Obamacare is trying to force people to buy the wrong kind of insurance — high deductibles without annual or lifetime limits, instead of less costly insurance for the types of services young, healthy families are likely to need.

The second problem arises because the way the subsidy is delivered is inconsistent with the way low- and moderate-income people manage their family budgets. People who are living paycheck-to-paycheck don’t have a couple of thousand dollars to give back to Uncle Sam, because they didn’t accurately predict their income last year. With a universal tax credit, no one would have needed to guess their income – because the subsidy would have been the same, regardless of income.

The third problem arises because the Obamacare law represents a Rube Goldberg set of compromises, designed to meet the needs of special interests rather than the needs of ordinary people.

Categories: On the Blog
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