On the Blog

Supreme Court’s Judicial Activism Criticized at Eagle Forum Conference

Somewhat Reasonable - September 25, 2015, 2:54 PM

Eagle Council XLIV was held two weekends ago at the Marriott St. Louis Airport – St. Louis, Missouri. Six hundred members and friends attended. Conservative icon, Phyllis Schlafy, who started Eagle Forum in 1972, was celebrated for building a grassroots conservative movement and her victory against the Equal Rights Amendment.

Here is Schlafly’s own account.

Last year to celebrate Phyllis Schlafly’s 90th birthday, World Net Daily’s Joseph Farah wrote this article about her titled, “Happy Birthday, Phyllis Schlafly.” Earlier this year, after 42 years as president, Phyllis Schlafly relinquished her position to Ed Martin. Schlafly, as an American conservative activist, author, and speaker, remains as the Chairman and CEO of the Governing Board at Eagle Forum.

Download a program of the September Eagle Council XLIV Forum in St. Louis, Missouri.

Conference attendees heard from Republican presidential candidates Dr. Ben Carson, Governor Rick Perry, Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rick Santorum, and Senator Rand Paul. Other well-known speakers included Senator Jeff Sessions, recipient of Phyllis Schlafly Award; Ann Coulter who spoke about her book, Adios, America! and Chief Justice Roy Moore. The Fulltime Homemaker Award was presented by Phyllis Schlafly to Carol Paul, mother of Senator Rand Paul.  

A highlight of the Saturday, September 12 afternoon sessions was a discussion of “Judicial Supremacy and Same-Sex Marriage” by Andy Schlafly, who is the fifth of six Schlafly children. Andy is a conservative lawyer and former engineer that founded Conservapedia, an alternative to the liberal Wikipedia.  He has taught home schoolers online since the late 1990s, and in person since fall 2002. Several of Andrew Schlafly’s prior course materials are available on Eagle Forum University.


Andy Schlafly (l), Eagle Forum founder 91 year old Phyllis Schlafly (r)

As the nature and origin of judicial supremacy seems to demand a separate article, a succeeding article will deal with how religious liberty is being threatened through the tyranny of judicial supremacy, as reflected in the 5-4 ruling of the Supreme Court on Obergefell v. Hodges.                             .

Judicial Supremacy and the Constitution

The American system of government is established by the United States Constitution, which provides for three separate but equal branches of government–legislative, executive, and judicial.  These three branches make, execute, and interpret the laws that govern our country. Because each branch has both individual and shared powers, no particular branch has more authority than the other two, and each is accountable to the others. As such, the system of “checks and balances” created by our Founding Fathers was to assure that the balance of power in our government remained steady.

What then is “Judicial Supremacy?”

As Phyllis Schlafly writes in the June 2015 issue of the Phyllis Schlafly Report, “Judicial Supremacists vs. ‘We, the People’”, judicial supremacy is when the judges grab power to elevate themselves about the other branches of government. In other words, judicial supremacists are people who think judges are supreme in our system of government, despite how our Founders created three-co-equal branches of government and said that the judiciary is the “least dangerous” branch.  Yet judicial supremacists think that judges can make law, not merely enforce it.”

This might explain why so many conservatives and Republicans were dumbfounded and perplexed when John Roberts, during his confirmation hearings for Chief Justice, made the following statements that contradicted how he later ruled on Obamacare.

“Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around.  Judges are like umpires.  Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them.  The role of an umpire and a judge is critical.  They make surer everybody plays by the rules.  But it is a limited role.”

Further expressed by Phyllis Schlafly in her book, “The Supremists: The Tyranny of Judges–and How to Stop It”, published in July, 2004, is how the gravest threat to American democracy is the supreme power of judges over political, social, and economic policy.  This was made possible over the years by presidents, congressmen, and voters who have surrendered without a fight.  As such Americans have exchanged the rule of law for the rule of judges.  According to Schlafly, the Constitution is on the People’s side. It provides all the tools necessary—if only we’ll use them—to rescue America from the tyranny of judges.

It stands to reason that Judicial Supremacists are those who ascertain that the Supreme Court System has more power than the other two branches of government. Supremacists not only disregard our Constitution, but they also contradict what Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Papers #78 published June 14, 1788, which examines the Judicial Branch of government.  The Judicial Branch was referred to as the “weakest of three branches.”  It was also considered as the “least dangerous” branch of the federal government because it “must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.”

Origin of Judicial Supremacy?

While some might claim that the tyranny of judges stems from Marbury v. Madison, this is not so.  Although Marbury v. Madison was a landmark 1803 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Supreme Court formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review under the Constitution, subsequently defining the boundary between the executive and judicial branches of government, the origin of judicial supremacy is attributed to the Dred Scott decision issued by the Supreme Court in March of 1857.  There are those that feel that the Dred Scott decision had the effect of widening the political and social gap between North and South and took the nation closer to the brink of Civil War.  A brief summary follows:

“Dred Scott was the name of an African-American slave. He was taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army, from the slave state of Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to the free territory of Wisconsin. He lived on free soil for a long period of time.  When the Army ordered his master to go back to Missouri, he took Scott with him back to that slave state, where his master died. In 1846, Scott was helped by Abolitionist (anti-slavery) lawyers to sue for his freedom in court, claiming he should be free since he had lived on free soil for a long time. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger B. Taney, was a former slave owner from Maryland.”

In March of 1857, Scott lost the decision as seven out of nine Justices on the Supreme Court declared no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, or ever had been a U.S. citizen. As a non-citizen, the court stated, Scott had no rights and could not sue in a Federal Court and must remain a slave.”  Abraham Lincoln reacted with disgust to the Supreme Court’s ruling and was spurred into political action, subsequently making a powerful speech about the Dred Scott decision on June 26, 1857, in which he denounced the Court’s decision with a public commitment not to enforce that sweeping decision beyond the individual parties.  Lincoln’s speech began with these words:

“FELLOW CITIZENS:—I am here to-night, partly by the invitation of some of you, and partly by my own inclination. Two weeks ago Judge Douglas spoke here on the several subjects of Kansas, the Dred Scott decision, and Utah. I listened to the speech at the time, and have read the report of it since. It was intended to controvert opinions which I think just, and to assail (politically, not personally,) those men who, in common with me, entertain those opinions. For this reason I wished then, and still wish, to make some answer to it, which I now take the opportunity of doing.”

The Dred Scott decision was unacceptable to Lincoln.  It was akin to tyranny that five people could create law.  The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858reflected a heated word contest about slavery in the United States between both men as candidates for the United States Senate. Illinois happened to be a free state – although not recognized at the time, the Lincoln-Douglas debates previewed the issues that Lincoln was to face after he was elected president.  The Lincoln-Douglas debates also spurred the rise of the Republican Party.  For after losing the election to Douglass, Lincoln edited the texts of all the debates and had them published in a book. This widespread coverage of the original debates and the subsequent popularity of the book led eventually to Lincoln’s nomination for President by the 1860 Republican National Conventionin Chicago.  However, even after his election, Lincoln stood by his promise not to enforce the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision

Regarding Andrew Jackson and Worcester v. Georgia (1832)

But Lincoln wasn’t the only president to defy the Supreme Court.  Prior to Lincoln,  President Andrew Jackson defied a ruling of the Supreme Court inCherokee Indians case, Worcester v. Georgia (1832).  As related by Jeffrey Rosen in “The First Hundred Years”:

“For much of the Supreme Court’s first century, its fiercest battles concerned the conflict between national power and states’ rights.  The battle was embodied by the clash of ideas and personalities between the Federalists, led by President John Adams and Chief Justice and the Jeffersonian Republicans, led by President Thomas Jefferson.”

Chief Justice Marshall’s position on Judicial supremacy can be observed in his comments made regarding the landmark Supreme Court case of 803, Marbury v. Madison.

“It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is…If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each…This is of the very essence of judicial duty.”

During the administration of Andrew Jackson, Marshall infuriated Jackson in theCherokee Indians case, Worcester v. Gerogia (1832) “by insisting that Georgia law that purported to seize Cherokee lands on which gold had been found violated federal treaties.”  President Andrew Jackson initially ignored the Court’s decision and gained fame for having responded according to Marshall:  “John Marshall has made the decision, now let him enforce it.”

Countering Judicial Supremacy

In recent times, during the presidential cycle of 2012, Newt Gingrich won the pivotal South Carolina primary after declaring that he would reject a Supreme Court ruling that extended legal rights to enemy combatants held at Guantanamo.   Newt has issued an excellent 54-page position paper entitled “Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution” which supported Item No. 9 of his “21st Century Contract with America.”

As predicted by Andy Schlafly, if tyranny U.S. Supreme Court judges is allowed to continue, we will lose every issue we care about. But how to stop judicial activism?  Schlafly presented approaches often suggested to stem judicial activism but which don’t work: :

  • Appoint better judges.  Republicans have failed in the past.  Candidates are often chosen that have a limited paper trail so their confirmation doesn’t involve a nasty fight.
  • Amend the Constitution.  Isn’t the Constitution a document that has withstood the test of time? In the push to rewrite the Constitution, who will then interpret the new Constitution?
  • Religious liberty must be defended, but that won’t solve the problem.
  • Has this happened before?  In late 1850 pro-slavery Democrats (5 out of 9 justices owned slaves themselves) which led to the Dred Scot decision. The Republican Party was built on the opposition to Dred Scott, that it is tyranny for 5 people to establish law, going from an obscure, fringe party to an important political party.

Unfortunately law students are being indoctrinated into believing that Judicial supremacy is just and that it’s fine for the Supreme Court to write law instead of interpreting law in accordance with the Constitution.

Article 2: will cover “The Tyranny of Judicial Supremacy as Applicable to Religious Liberty.”

[Originally published at Illinois Review]


Categories: On the Blog

In The Tank Podcast (ep5): Taxing Netflix, Regulating Fantasy Football, and Other Important Gov Roles

Somewhat Reasonable - September 25, 2015, 2:40 PM

Donny Kendal and John Nothdurft host episode #5 of the “In The Tank”. This weekly podcast featuring interviews, debates, roundtable discussions, and stories and light hearted segments on a variety of topics on the latest news. The show will be available for download as a podcast every Friday.

In today’s episode of In The Tank, Donny and John bring in special guest, Justin Haskins, an editor and writer for The Heartland Institute, to discuss some of latest stories in the news cycle. These stories include Scott Walker’s campaign implosion, World Rhino Day, taxing Netflix, and regulating Fantasy Football. John and Justin also go head to head on a new.

I hope you’ll listen in, subscribe, and leave a review for our podcast on Itunes. We welcome your feedback in our new show’s inbox at InTheTankPodcast@gmail.com or follow us on twitter @InTheTankPod.

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


Categories: On the Blog

Lying for the Cause

Somewhat Reasonable - September 25, 2015, 11:14 AM

Modern climate alarmism was launched with the 2001 IPCC report featuring the now infamous “hockey stick” graph. This showed global temperature flat for 1,000 years and then soaring skywards from about 1900 onwards. There is just no way to say this politely – this graph was based on lies.

First, the Medieval Warm Period was erased from the record and second, they used selected tree-ring temperature proxies that were known to be misleading and unrepresentative. Then they stretched the vertical axis to create a more alarming picture. The Hockey Stick established the idea that it is OK to lie in support of a great cause.

The Hockey Stick was followed by Al Gore’s 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth” – inconveniently, a British judge found that there were nine “scientific errors” in this film. The biggest lie was Gore’s claim that carbon dioxide triggered and drove global temperature. However, the ice core graphs which he presented showed that temperature changes always preceded the changes in carbon dioxide.

An ever-green climate lie says: “Sea levels are rising fast and will soon drown a city near you. We need money from rich countries to cope”. Leaders in the Pacific nations should monitor the tide gauges which surround the Pacific Ocean from US west coast, Canada, Alaska, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. They show no unusual rising in sea levels. Land and sea levels are always changing, totally oblivious to trace gases in the atmosphere. There are marine fossils in the Himalayas and the Andes, and ancient cities now lie beneath the oceans.

Then there is the recurring lie that ocean “acidification” will kill the Great Barrier Reef. Corals have survived for many millions of years, despite many changes in the climate and the atmosphere. The vast oceans are not controlled by the puny atmosphere and if they do warm for whatever reason (including natural changes in solar intensity, volcanic activity, Enso/El Nino events or ocean currents) they expel carbon dioxide or deposit it in vast beds of carbonates on the sea floor. Ocean chemistry is controlled by river inflows, melting and growth of ice sheets, oceanic sedimentation, marine plant growth, submarine volcanism and changes in ocean currents, not the atmosphere.

Finally, there are two big lies – the “Consensus” myth and the “Settled Science” claim. Both ignore the fact that over 31,000 scientists have signed a petition disputing them. Moreover, the shoddy science, data manipulation, concealment of worksheets and distortions of truth are exposed on a daily basis by competent scientists and dozens of sceptical bloggers, many with relevant qualifications and experience.

The Climate Industry flourishes on government funds and is dominated by vested interests and their media trumpets. Climate Science is so infected by lies created and spread by red/green promoters and one-world government extremists that honest enquiry and research rarely gets public airing.

Hitler once said: “People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough, people will sooner or later believe it!”

The Climate Industry is following this advice. They need to be told that lying for the cause is not science.

New PM Turnbull was quick to clean out the cabinet room. Now he needs to clean out the climate stables.

Categories: On the Blog

President Obama Further Widens the Chasm Between DC and America

Somewhat Reasonable - September 25, 2015, 10:58 AM

Over the weekend the Gallup polling company delivered us their latest: “75% in U.S. See Widespread Government Corruption – This figure is up from two in three in 2007 (67%) and 2009 (66%).”

That already-incredibly high 2009 number likely reflects the horrendous government bailout era. When Americans saw DC in anti-capitalism-fashion throw over a trillion dollars at a handful of companies – which were led by people who had donated tens of millions of dollars to government officials. When contribution-recipient outgoing-Republican-president George W. Bush ludicrously said “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.” The American people knew just how absurd all of that was. They also knew that government caused the crash – but government’s alleged “solution” did nothing to address that cause.


The Gallup poll’s rise to 3/4 from 2/3 reflects the ongoing bailout fraud under the auspices of the successor-president – Democrat Barack Obama. Americans saw General Motors (GM) transmogrify intoGovernment Motors. They saw much of the $83 billion in GM bailout money go to the Democrat uber-donor United Auto Workers (UAW) union – to be spent on subsequent Democrat campaigns. A bailout on which President Obama said we’d make money – but on which we lost over $70 billion.

The Gallup poll’s rise also reflects the Age of “Stimulus.” When in 2009 DC shoveled out the door an additional $787 billion – which Americans know we don’t have. Much of which went to Democrat donors, too. $80 billion of it went to “green” “energy” – which Americans know is neither green nor energy. 80% of that went to Democrat donors.


Americans watched the likes of the IRS assaults on conservative groups, the Administration assaults on reportersFast and Furious government gun-running to Mexican drug cartels, Benghazi and on, and on, and on. But have seen absolutely no one held accountable – and nothing done to change government’s miserable standard operating procedure.

Americans never liked the ObamaCare power grab – but watched DC shove it in their faces and down their throats. Pseudo-lubricated with copious amounts of President Obama lies like “If you like your doctor – you can keep your doctor,” “If you like your plan – you can keep your plan.” and “This plan will save the average family $2,500 per year.” Millions of people have lost their plans and (thus) their doctors. And watched their premiums skyrocket – year after year, over and over again.

In late 2014 and early 2015 the Administration was telegraphing its intent to unilaterally commander control of the Internet via Network Neutrality. This grab too was greased with many, many on-their-face-obvious government lies – obvious lies being the only form of transparency DC practices. “Net Neutrality won’t hurt Internet investment.” “Net Neutrality won’t mean new Internet taxes.” Americans were unsurprisingly, rightly highly dubious.

Well, this February the government imposed its Web power grab. And shocker – investment for the first half of 2015 is historic in its drop-off: “(T)he net decrease across the six largest (Internet Service Providers) ISPs amounted to $3.3 billion in capital flight….”

Americans aren’t flabbergasted – they are unsurprisingly, rightly even more disdainful of DC. Now – given the Administration’s assertions that there won’t be any new Internet taxes – Americans are likely, rightly bracing for a whole new raft of Internet taxes.

You can’t blame them. For yet again preparing for DC’s worst – when promised DC’s best. Or for growing ever more disgusted with DC’s nigh-universal corruption. Once bitten – shame on us. Twice bitten – shame on you. Our bite count is now incalculable – DC’s wolves have been pack-mauling us for decades.


[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Norman Rogers: Climate Change and the Real Threat, EMPs

Somewhat Reasonable - September 24, 2015, 4:27 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Norman Rogers. Rogers is a Heartland policy advisor and high tech businessman. Rogers joins Burnett to discuss climate change and the dangers of EMPs, or electro magnetic pulses.

Rogers discusses how the federal government is wasting scarce resources on the non-existent dangers from climate change while ignoring the very real dangers to our electrical grid, banking and delivery systems from either natural or a terrorist cause electro magnetic pulse. Rogers tells us what an EMP is, why it endangers our society and economy, and what the government should be doing to prevent damage from one.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Misguided Fight Against Workplace ‘Freedom’

Somewhat Reasonable - September 24, 2015, 1:25 PM

Labor unions are fighting hard to maintain the power to force people to join unions as a condition of work. In June, Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri Democrat, vetoed a bill banning forced union membership and forced union dues payments in the workplace, and the legislature just upheld his veto.

Mr. Nixon said giving workers the right to decide how to spend their hard-earned dollars would “stunt economic growth” by reducing the amount of money available for unions to spend on training new union members.

Mr. Nixon’s convoluted thinking in defense of continuing to force people into unions and deducting union dues from their paychecks against their wishes has nothing to do with economic growth and is all about paying off a powerful interest group desperately trying to stave off decline. Less than a week after vetoing the right-to-work bill, Mr. Nixon’s political action committee received a check for $50,000 from the United Auto Workers.

Although Mr. Nixon’s veto was sustained in Missouri, organized labor represents a shrinking proportion of American workers, making the fight against workplace freedom that much more urgent for union leaders. Union leaders’ paychecks come from extracting union dues from members’ paychecks, so labor bosses have a selfish reason to fear declining membership numbers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one of every five employed Americans in 1983 were part of a union. Thirty-one years later, in 2014, about one of every 10 workers was a member of a union.

Research by Ohio University economics professor Richard Vedder suggests right-to-work (RTW) laws remove a significant impediment to the growth of state economies and individuals’ incomes. In a 2014 study, Mr. Vedder modeled the economies of states with and without RTW worker protections and found, “[T]he overall effect of a RTW law is to increase economic growth rates by 11.5 percentage points. “[The effect] is significant at the 99 percent confidence level.”

Mr. Vedder’s model also found individuals’ fortunes are tied to economic freedom. In general, his study found the income difference between those living and working in right-to-work states and those in compulsory-unionism states was more than $3,200 per person per year, or $13,112 per year for a family of four.

“It is the difference between sending your children to a low-cost, nearby community college and sending them to live four years at the state’s flagship university or even a private college,” Mr. Vedder writes. “That is the difference between, say, living in a three-bedroom home with one car and taking only one, short, nearby vacation [and] living in a larger four-bedroom home with two cars and taking a longer European vacation or a cruise.”

Opposing right-to-work laws may make sense for unions, but it’s a bad deal for workers. For compulsory-membership states with neighbors with right-to-work laws, there’s “a giant sucking sound” as businesses relocate across the border to states with economic climates more conducive to job growth.

In the May 2015 issue of Site Selection, a trade magazine for corporate real estate agents and government economic development agency officials, writer Mark Amend notes two new entries in the magazine’s annual tabulation of newly constructed factory plants, Indiana and Michigan, are states with recently enacted right-to-work laws.

In another industry trade magazine, Area Development, Strategic Development Group Inc. president and consultant Mark Williams told writer Beth Mattson-Teig that “many companies are even willing to pay more to employees in order to be able to work in a nonunion environment and, ultimately, have the flexibility to operate more profitably.”

According to Mark Sweeny, a senior principal at McCallum Sweeney Consulting, “approximately 25 to 50 percent of the firm’s clients still prefer to make RTW a ‘pass-fail’ criterion. In addition, those decisions are generally made prior to any communication with development agencies.”

In other words, a significant number of companies thinking about creating new jobs are using states’ right-to-work status to guide their site selection process, and non-RTW states are almost automatically disqualified from the get-go in the minds of the people making that call.

If unions were to compete for workers’ dollars by providing better services, and workers decided the cost of union membership was worth it, increased income growth might lead to higher union membership rolls. Instead, unions’ ongoing fight against worker choice suggests they are afraid workers do not value union services.

That’s a poor reason for governments to keep workers trapped in the union cage.

[Originally published at The Washington Times]

Categories: On the Blog

The Pope Emerges As An ‘Aggressive’ Public Player In Environmental, Economic Policy

Somewhat Reasonable - September 24, 2015, 9:04 AM

Pope Francis has made himself into a political player, the WSJ reports.

Pope Francis is emerging as an “aggressive public player” in environmental and economic policy, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“In the past week, Pope Francis has met and been photographed with Fidel and Raúl Castro in Cuba and with Barack Obama at the White House. Thursday he addresses a joint session of Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner. On Friday, he will address the United Nations General Assembly. Then on Saturday in Philadelphia, he will finally address a wholly religious event, the World Meeting of Families, which is organized by the Holy See in Rome,” writes columnist Daniel Henninger in today’s WSJ. “The Catholic weekly newspaper Our Sunday Visitor aptly noted: ‘Based on the media’s coverage of the papal trip, it has been difficult to remember that Francis’ visit to the United States is centered around his commitment to come to the World Meeting and speak about the family and not immigration, the environment or globalization.’ Difficult to remember indeed. Pope Francis is becoming an aggressive public player in secular politics, from the environment to economic policy. That carries risks, not for Francis alone, but for the papacy and the institution the pope leads.”

Henninger writes that “it is said widely that Francis will never allow himself to be co-opted into anyone else’s political agenda. The pope is famously his own man. But the pope has no control over whether he is co-opted into the political goals and strategies of others.”

As evidence of this, Henninger reports that a TV commercial airing this week from NextGen Climate Action, funded by billionaire, progressive environmental activist Tom Steyer, uses images of California wildfires and floods and ends with Pope Francis waving and smiling at the viewer. “It’s propaganda,” Henninger writes.

Categories: On the Blog

President Obama’s Tour to ‘Prove’ Global Warming Was a Miserable Failure

Somewhat Reasonable - September 23, 2015, 9:44 PM

A screen cap from the official White House video previewing President Obama’s trip to Alaska in 2015.

In an effort to stir up support for an economy-killing treaty from the UN Conference of the Parties-21 (COP-21) meeting in Paris this December, President Obama went on a recent whirlwind one-week tour promoting the global warming scare with many speeches, photo-ops, and newspaper columns.

August 27 New Orleans  President Obama visited New Orleans August 27 to mark the tenth anniversary of hurricane Katrina devastating the city.  He preached catastrophic climate change (global warming) is taking place due to carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and we must stop using our inexpensive, abundant, and geographically distributed coal, oil, and natural gas.  Increased number and strength of hurricanes is one of the results of climate change. 

Apparently no one told president Obama no category 3 or higher hurricanes have struck the United States since 2005—a record for lack of hurricane activity and strength.  In addition, satellite temperature measurements  show no global warming for 17 years

August 31 Anchorage, AK  President Obama changed location for spreading his story of catastrophic climate change to Alaska from August 31 thru September 2.  August 31 was a meeting of the Global Leadership in the Arctic—Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement & Resilience (GLACIER) conference in Anchorage.  The United States is currently the chair of the Arctic Council, a grouping of eight Arctic States (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) plus a dozen states with permanent observer status, including China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

As a sign of the importance the United States placed on the Alaska forum, President Barack Obama attended and used the conference as a platform for urging swifter action to combat climate change.  President Obama said, “Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now.  We’re not acting fast enough.”  He also used his speech on the need for a global agreement at this year’s UN climate meeting in Paris.  “This year, in Paris has to be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.”

After the conference, the representatives of the Arctic Council members signed a joint statement affirming “our commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic.”  Even though this statement had no binding provisions, China, India, and Russia refused to be signatories.  These three countries being number 1, 3, and 4 top carbon dioxide emitting countries in the world render the statement worthless and pose great problems obtaining any meaningful treaty curbing carbon dioxide emissions from COP-21 in Paris this December.

September 1 Seward, AK  September 1, President Obama moved to Seward in order to visit the Exit Glacier at the Kenai Fjords National Park “to view the effects of climate change firsthand.”  As pointed out in the September 3 article “Obama’s Half-Baked Alaska” by Patrick Moore in The Wall Street Journal, Alaska’s glaciers have advanced and retreated many times over thousands of years—advancing in cold times like the Little Ice Age and retreating during warm periods like the Medieval Warm Period and Current Warm Period. 

Further proof of earlier receding glaciers is the article “Receding Swiss glaciers incoveniently reveal 4000 year old forests – and make it clear that glacier retreat is nothing new” that describes the finding by Dr. Christian Schluchter a 4000-year old chunk of wood at the base of a retreating Swiss glacier.  More worrisome is Dr.Schlüchter’s finding cold periods can strike very rapidly.  Near the edge of Mont Miné Glacier his team found huge tree trunks and discovered they all had died in just a single year. The scientists were stunned.  “The year of death could be determined to be exactly 8195 years before present. The oxygen isotopes in the Greenland ice show there was a marked cooling around 8200.”  That finding, Schlüchter states, confirmed the sun is the main driver in climate change.

A discussion of retreating glaciers since 1850 is given in Wikepdia.  A discussion of glacier advance is given in “The Little Ice Age In Europe”.

In response to President Obama’s pleas for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, on September 1, Bloomberg publishes “Denmark’s Government Readies U-turn on Ambitious Climate Targets”.  The costs of reducing carbon dioxide, in a country with the greatest concentrations of wind mills, are too high.

September 2 Kotzebue, AK  September 2, President Obama addressed residents of the 3000-population village of Kotzebue of the dangers of climate change.  Apparently President Obama forgot September 2 was the 70th anniversary of end of World War II.  Many in the nation celebrated this day; there are only 1 million veterans left of the original 16 million called to combat the greatest threat to world peace in the history of the planet.  Very few veterans will be around for the 80th anniversary.  President Obama is the Commander-in-Chief of the U. S. military and one may question his priorities of using the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II to promote unfounded climate change fears over honoring our gallant veterans and current men and women in uniform.

It is ironic President Obama chose Alaska to promote global warming fears.  Rising sea levels is one of the fears promoted by advocates of increasing carbon dioxide causes catastrophic global warming.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a data set of 128 tidal gauges along the coasts of the United States.  Alaska has 17 tidal gauges of which 14 shows the ocean is receding.  Anchorage shows receding of 0.61 mm per year and Seward shows receding of 2.66 mm per year.  Graphs of sea level change from 1990 to 2015 show no acceleration of changes due to global warming.

As a final comment, Clegg, et.al. published temperatures found from analysis of sediments from Moose Lake (61°22.45’N, 143°35.93’W) in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve of south-central Alaska (USA)—an area about 100 miles East of President Obama’s visit to Seward.  The data is presented as a graph of July temperatures for the past six thousand years.

Quoting theauthors,  “In closing, it is instructive to note that even with the help of the supposedly unprecedented anthropogenic-induced increase in the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration that occurred over the course of the 20th century, the Current Warm Period has not achieved anywhere near the warmth of the MWP or RWP, which suggests to us that the climatic impact of the 20th-century increase in the air’s CO2 content has been negligible, for the warming that defined the earth’s recovery from the global chill of the LIA — which should have been helped by the concurrent increase in the air’s CO2 content — appears no different from the non-CO2-induced warming that brought the planet out of the Dark Ages Cold Period and into the Medieval Warm Period.”

The paper cites other measurements made in Alaska with similar results and this should show that President Obama’s choice of Alaska as proof of fossil-fuel-caused catastrophic global warming has no merit.

The final analysis is lots of jet fuel expended; not much accomplished promoting global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.

Categories: On the Blog

Chicago Mulls Property Tax Increase as Mayor Emanuel Threatens Layoffs

Somewhat Reasonable - September 23, 2015, 4:43 PM

After refusing to indicate whether he would raise taxes in Chicago during his last campaign, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced yesterday that he intends to seek the City Council’s approval on a provision to hike Chicago’s property tax to make up for budget shortfalls.

The tax, which would rake in an estimated $588 million for city coffers over the next four years, is the highest proposed hike in Chicago’s history. And it comes with several other revenue-generating sister provisions, from propositions instituting higher fees for garbage pickup and building permits, to new taxes on electronic cigarettes and ride-sharing services like Uber.

The mayor’s acceptable choice: increase property taxes by a record $588 million over the next four years to shore up police and fire pensions, and approve an unprecedented series of other fee and tax increases to help close the city’s yearly budget shortfall. The other hits to Chicagoans’ wallets range from a new garbage-hauling fee and building permit fee increases to a new tax on electronic cigarettes and ride-sharing and taxi fee increases.

“I know this budget’s tough and therefore I know it carries political risk. I get it,” Emanuel told aldermen in a 33-minute speech, short by his standards. “But there’s a choice to be made, make no mistake about it. Either we muster the political courage to deal with the mounting challenges we inherited, or we repeat the same practices and allow the financial challenges to grow.”

The reception was, fortunately for Chicago pocketbooks, “tepid,” according to the Tribune, but the proposition is, itself extreme, designed to encourage participation from City Council members in a legislative solution. With Emanuel firing the first volley, it’s likely that the Council will simply decide that a tax hike is inevitable and work with the mayor’s office to make the fees more palatable to an already overtaxed Chicago citizenry. The only shining light: while the mayor is not up for re-election for several years, City Council members will have to face voters in a shorter term. And they will likely face voters with anywhere from $350 to $550 less in their pockets.

The proposition also comes ahead of an annual event, where City Council members are allowed to audit and question city expenses. Typically, as the Tribune points out, this doesn’t result in much cutting, after all, a cut to another aldermanic district usually means cuts to one’s own aren’t far behind.

No matter what, some changes must be made. Thanks to a previous gubernatorial administration, Chicago is facing a massive hike on contributions to police and fire pension funds, and the city is too poor to make the payments without either taking massive cuts or accepting a massive tax hike. A competing bill, that would give Chicago some breathing room before increased payments come due, hasn’t yet grabbed the new administration’s attention, as they struggle to handle state-based budget woes of their own.

Across the board, Illinois is struggling, but it’s unlikely that raising property taxes to this level will help to improve the economy in the long term, though it may correct some budget constraints in the short term. Chicago would do better to dig deep into the books and change the way the city does business.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Niger Innis: Why Anti-Fossil-Fuel Policies Harm the Poor Most

Somewhat Reasonable - September 23, 2015, 4:14 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Niger Innis. Innis is an American activist, politician and National Spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Innis joins Burnett to discuss the disproportionately harmful impacts of President Obama’s anti-fossil-fuel energy policies are having on the poor.

These policies, which increase energy costs, most impact minorities, the poor, and those on fixed incomes.  He stresses that affordable energy is a humanitarian issue, as affordable, reliable energy is necessary to raise oneself out of poverty. He discusses how the APA is working with various minority and senior groups to fight policies that raise energy costs.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Pope Francis: Before One Can Know What is Moral, He Must Know What is True

Somewhat Reasonable - September 23, 2015, 3:16 PM

President Barack Obama bids farewell to Pope Francis following a private audience at the Vatican, March 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As predicted in an article I wrote last week published in The Federalist, Pope Francis is making climate change a signature issue during his visit to the United States. This morning, in remarks presented at the White House, Pope Francis commenced his U.S. tour by proclaiming “climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation,” thereafter complimenting the Obama Administration for the policy prescription it advocates in addressing the issue (i.e., reducing CO2 emissions).

However, as noted in my Federalist piece, neither the Pope’s concerns, nor the Administration’s alarms, over potential global warming are based upon the best available science. The biosphere is not spiraling downward toward planetary Armageddon and policies designed to deal with the subject are, quite frankly, nothing more than a recipe for social and economic disorder and disaster. And in support of this position, our Center is releasing today a massive new report exposing the pathetic house of cards upon which the entire global warming movement is founded — global climate model predictions.

The new report, titled Mathematical Models vs. Real-World Data: Which Best Predicts Earth’s Climatic Future?, presents a thorough and careful scrutiny of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific publications evaluating the accuracy and capability of climate models to simulate the response of a number of important climatic phenomena to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. In short, this treatise provides the proverbial look under the hood of the inner workings of today’s state-of-the-art climate models that provide the basis for both the Pope’s and the Obama Administration’s belief that global warming is a problem and that something must be done about it. And that “look” is not encouraging.

In brief, our report present the results of a thorough and careful scrutiny of the scientific literature that evaluates model credibility as it pertains to a number of important climatic phenomena. First of all, pouring over some 33 originalscientific studies of the subject, along with 34 of their relevant citations of other such studies — all of which 67 publications are listed in the Reference section of our document’s initial chapter on Clouds — we encounter 188 major documented errors, inadequacies or shortcomings in all of the carefully evaluated “hindcasts” of the several climate models therein reviewed, which modelling failures the authors of the 33 original studies acknowledge as still remainingin the most up-to-date climate models that include the many significant impacts of clouds in their projections of both past and future climate characteristics. And in light of this sad state of affairs, one can only presume that this negative aspect of the quest to successfully predict how earth’s climate will evolve over the next several decades will likely not be achieved anytime soon … or maybe not even at all.

In the second chapter on ENSO — i.e., the El Niño Southern Oscillation — we review 31 other original papers related tothis phenomenon; and we include in the chapter’s reference list 68 additional citations to still other pertinent studies, which have proven invaluable in revealing 203 different inadequacies in climate model hindcasts, which host of negative findings seriously questions the validity of current climate model projections that have been made in relation to this important climatic phenomenon.

In a closely related third chapter on Monsoons, we review the findings of 43 other original scientific studies, as well as report the major findings of an additional 82 studies that were cited by the first set of studies, while identifying in this process 326 different ways in which current climate models have failed to accurately represent the major documented characteristics of monsoons of prior years.

In the fourth chapter, we repeat this process for Oceans by reviewing the findings of 33 pertinent original publications and 84 other studies therein cited, which together highlight a total of 263 climate model errors and/or shortcomings related to the roles of earth’s seas in influencing global climate change.

In the fifth and much-shorter chapter on much-less-studied Permafrost, we describe the findings of 13 pertinent papers that reveal a total of 23 climate model errors.

In the sixth and rather large chapter on Precipitation, we review the findings of fully 73 original scientific papers and 130 other studies that they cite, all of which are found to be plagued by a total of 518 climate model prediction failures.

In the seventh chapter on Radiation, we review the findings of a much smaller set of 22 original studies plus 4 others that they cite, which together reveal a total of 49 climate model prediction problems.

In the eighth chapter on Sea Ice, we review the findings of a still smaller set of 11 original studies plus 14 others that are cited by them, which together produce a total of 73 climate model prediction problems.

In the ninth chapter on Soil Moisture, we review the findings of only 6 original studies along with those of 10 other studies they cite, which when combined reveal a total of 40 major model biases.

Last of all, in the tenth and largest chapter on an assortment of Miscellaneous Phenomena, we review the findings of 98 original investigations together with those of 148 additional studies cited in the 98 original studies, which when combined together reveal a total of 735 climate model prediction problems.

Altogether, therefore, we find (and document) a total of 2,418 failures of today’s top-tier climate models to accuratelyhindcast a whole host of climatological phenomena. And with this extremely poor record of success, one must greatly wonder how it is that anyone would believe what the climate models of today project about earth’s climate oftomorrow, i.e., a few decades to a century or more from now.

In concluding, therefore, it would seem to be the height of folly to place any faith (attention Pope Francis) whatsoever in the predictions of even the very best of today’s most up-to-date climate models, regarding the thermal status of a future atmospheric-CO2-enriched world.

[First published at CO2 Science.]

Categories: On the Blog

Massachusetts Mulls Price Controls for Pharmaceuticals, Following Populist Path Blazed By Bernie Sanders

Somewhat Reasonable - September 23, 2015, 9:02 AM


Bernie Sanders’ progressive war on drug companies is having an impact. States are moving to control pharmaceutical pricing.

Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have blazed a populist path, with demagogic attacks on the prices of pharmaceuticals and drug company profits. Now state policymakers with real power are following their trail, and are considering regulations that would restrict the price of drugs. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Massachusetts legislature at “Beacon Hill is debating first-in-the-nation legislation that would require biotech and pharmaceutical makers to justify their prices.”

Backed by the state’s Democratic leadership, the emerging legislation compels drug makers to disclose after-tax R&D spending on a every drug; as well as its profit margin; the cost of production and marketing; and the sales price even in foreign countries.

A state drug pricing board can “set the maximum allowable price that the manufacturer can charge for that prescription drug that is sold for use in the commonwealth.”

“Think of this as a state Food and Drug Administration, except screening for cost instead of safety and efficacy,” reports the WSJ. “Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and New York are weighing similar schemes, while initiatives in California and Ohio have qualified for the 2016 ballot.This plays to public anxiety: In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in August, nearly three-quarters said they believed drug costs are “unreasonable.” As striking, 83 percent favored some form of federal intervention such as Medicare negotiation—93 percent of those who identified as Democrats, 74 percent among Republicans. Kaiser asked generalities and its questions didn’t raise the potential trade-off of fewer new medicines. But elite opinion matches the public’s and is now targeting other medicines, such as the new class of monoclonal antibodies called PCSK9 inhibitors that lower bad LDL cholesterol to levels that statins can’t achieve, with no side effects.”

According to the WSJ, cancer drugs—which account for only 1 percent of U.S. health spending and one-fifth of the cost of cancer care—are also a target of the regulators. In an editorial in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal in July, 118 leading U.S. oncologists endorsed “national” price controls for cancer therapies.


Categories: On the Blog

White House Spokesman Compares President Obama To Pope Francis, Says They Are ‘Animated’ By The Same Values

Somewhat Reasonable - September 23, 2015, 7:44 AM

The White House claims that President Obama and Pope Francis are kindred souls.

During the 2008 presidential election, the hyperbole over Barack Obama reached heavenly heights. The then-candidate was compared by fans to the Christian Savior, Jesus, and later, to some kind of a lesser god by a leading liberal journalist.

Today, the kudos have become much more measured. The White House itself yesterday released a statement saying that President Obama was very much like Pope Francis, who, in the administration’s version of the story, was himself something of a community organizer back in the day in Argentina.

“Certainly the kind of commitment that we’ve seen from Pope Francis is unique and singular,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “But I think the values that both men live out have some common ground.”

Earnest talked about how Obama eschewed “high-paying jobs” after graduating law school, choosing to work on Chicago’s poor South Side, and how Pope Francis is famed for organizing on behalf of poor communities in his homeland of Argentina before rising through the Catholic Church’s episcopal ranks. 

“And you know, the president actually worked quite closely with other Catholics in that community, and the president has talked about that quite a bit … this has been a value that has animated the president’s career choices since he was a young man,” said Earnest. “[P]rior to rising through the leadership ranks of the Catholic Church … Pope Francis earned a reputation in Latin America [as being someone] willing to roll up his sleeves” to help the less fortunate, “particularly those who were economically destitute.”

As the Pope travels the U.S. this week, and extols his environmental encyclical – written with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – no doubt similar comparisons will continue to be articulated. An address to the U.S. Congress and another speech before the U.N. General Assembly are planned by the pope.

Categories: On the Blog

Michigan Senate Approves the Compact for America

Somewhat Reasonable - September 22, 2015, 4:47 PM

The Michigan State Senate approved a compact calling for a federal balanced budget amendment on September 17. The vote happened on Constitution Day.

The compact passed the Republican-controlled Senate by a vote of 26 to 11. The legislation calls for setting a federal debt limit to no greater than 105 percent of outstanding debt once the compact is ratified. A majority of state legislatures have to approve any future requests from Congress to increase the debt limit. The compact also contains language pertaining to the conduct of delegates during an Article V convention.

Thirty-four state legislatures must approve the compact in order for Congress to call an Article V convention. The compact would expire in 2021 if not enough states enact the legislation. Four states, including Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Dakota have already enacted the compact. The Alabama and Missouri state Senate have already approved the compact this year, but the measure died in their state House of Representatives after their regular sessions ended.

The compact is one of three proposals that have been circulated among various state legislatures in enacting a balanced budget amendment. Twenty-seven states have already passed legislation backed by the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, while three states have passed legislation backed by Convention of the States.

The Michigan House of Representatives will now have its chance to approve the compact. Republicans control the chamber 61 to 46.

Categories: On the Blog

Hydrologist Dr. Jay Lehr Discusses EPA Overreach and Regulations

Somewhat Reasonable - September 22, 2015, 4:25 PM

Last week, hydrologist and Science Director of The Heartland Institute, Dr. Jay Lehr participated in a roundtable discussion on Steel on Steel – a weekly program dedicated to “the sharpening of ideas, news, commentary, interview, information and debate.” Lehr and president of Less Government, Seton Motley, were brought on to talk about the Environmental Protection Agency’s overreach and regulations.

In the light of the Gold King mine spill – an incident where actions by the EPA resulted in the dumping of millions of gallons of waste into the Animas River in Colorado – Steel on Steel host John Loeffler brings on Lehr and Motley to dissect the power and responsibilities of the EPA.

Lehr discusses his plan to dismantle the federal EPA over a five year span. Lehr explains that the EPA is the “worst overreaching agency in the federal government.” His plan would revert the necessary powers of the EPA to state equivalents.

The roundtable also discusses the Waters of the United States Act, which gives the EPA jurisdiction over all bodies of water, even – as Lehr explains – puddles that form after a rainstorm.



Categories: On the Blog

Energy Poverty is More of a Tragedy for the World Than ‘Theoretical Concepts’ of Climate Change, Marathon Petroleum CEO Tells Pope Francis

Somewhat Reasonable - September 22, 2015, 3:32 PM

The CEO of Marathon Petroleum Corp. appeals to the Pope to consider the impact of high energy costs on the poor.

As Pope Francis this week visits the U.S., the debate over global warming and carbon emissions has  intensified. A year-ago this week, Gary R. Heminger,  the president and CEO of Marathon Petroleum Corporation, a life-long Roman Catholic,  wrote to his Holiness, urging him to consider advice from a wide perspective on fossil fuels and global warming.  The Findlay, Ohio-based oil company released the letter today in advance of the Pope’s visit to the U.S., and expected addresses to the U.N. and the U.S. Congress on the climate change controversy.

“I believe that advocates of fossil fuel divestment may, in their enthusiasm, inadvertently overlook the damage their policy objectives would cause to some of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, especially in developing countries,” wrote Heminger. “Hundreds of millions of people worldwide face energy poverty, which correlates directly with high infant mortality, low life expectancy, illiteracy and a host of other social ills.”

A statement from World Bank Vice President Rachel Kyte was quoted by Heminger in the letter to support his argument:

“Access to energy is absolutely fundamental in the struggle against poverty. It is energy that lights the lamp that lets you do your homework, that keeps the heat on in a hospital, that lights the small businesses where most people work. Without energy, there is no economic growth, there is no dynamism, and there is no opportunity,” said Kyte.

Heminger said that energy was also needed to “transport people, food, building materials, water, and so many more of our lives’ essential building blocks. The mobility that fossil fuels provide – by air, road, rail, river and ocean – has unlocked unprecedented prosperity around the world.”

But even today, noted the CEO, 1.2 billion people have no electricity, and 2.8 billion rely on wood and related fuels for indoor cooking, causing an estimated 3.5 million deaths each year – primarily among women and children – from respiratory distress. “The tragedy of energy poverty is appalling, and far more immediate than theoretical catastrophes that may or may not manifest due to climate change,” Heminger wrote. “It is my fear that in their zeal to address the possibility of weather-related problems in the future, advocates of fossil-fuel divestment are ignoring the immediate threats to health and well-being faced by our most vulnerable brethren around the world.”




Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – State Rep. Tom Morrison (IL): Illinois Politics and Heartland’s 31st Anniversary

Somewhat Reasonable - September 22, 2015, 3:27 PM

In today’s episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Illinois State Representative Tom Morrison joins Director of Communications Jim Lakely to talk about Heartland’s upcoming Benefit Dinner as well as the issues facing the state of Illinois.

Tom Morrison will be the emcee at the 31st Anniversary Benefit Dinner, which will be held at The Cotillion in Palatine Illinois on October 8th. The event will also feature speaker Angelo Codevilla and 2015 Liberty prize winner, Donald J. Devine, Ph.D.

Lakely and Morrison also talk about the immorality of a big and wasteful government. As Lakely explains, the government confiscates a portion of your work and effort in order to spend it on something as silly as custom, copper doors on the state capitol building.

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


Categories: On the Blog

Green Bay Packers Model Gives Taxpayers Leverage in Stadium Deals

Somewhat Reasonable - September 22, 2015, 1:33 PM

Elected officials often say using taxpayer money to pay for the construction or renovation of sports stadiums is an easy way to boost local economies and revitalize the flagging fortunes of downtown areas. But what really happens is that these teams pit cities against one another in competition for franchises, using their scarcity as a way of wresting ever-greater subsidies from taxpayers while team values rise to astronomical levels.

Instead of misusing their taxing power to take money from regular people and give it to super rich team owners, players and other sports professionals, cities and states should work with owners to reform how sports teams are organized. One way to do that is to empower local residents to become direct shareholders in the team business. That would break the arms race for more corporate welfare and deliver a better product for fans and taxpayers alike.

In St. Louis, owners of the hapless Rams receive $24 million a year in taxpayer money. This year, the Rams — and their enablers in government — are seeking to pump $400 million of public money into building the NFL team a new stadium.

St. Louis taxpayers aren’t getting a good investment, or even receiving a good show, in return for how much they’re forced to pay the owners. The Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003, and tickets and amenities for a family of four for a single game cost about $427. Fewer fans are attending games at Edward Jones Stadium; average home game attendance has declined by 12% between 2006 and 2014. Yet the city and county continue to throw taxpayer money at the owners, hoping to convince them not to relocate to Los Angeles.

Elected officials often claim subsidizing sports teams bolsters the economy and benefits workers. Unfortunately, this is a “just-so story” justifying corporate welfare for the home team.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, University of Maryland-Baltimore County economics professors Dennis Coates and Brad Humphries discovered sports stadiums actually depress wages locally.

Every dollar spent by consumers on rooting for the team is a dollar not spent on other forms of entertainment or other services, reducing the average annual earnings of people in other entertainment- or amenity-related fields. For example, they found sports stadiums depressed hotel employees’ earnings by $42.49 per year and actually depressed employee wages in sports-related businesses by $42.12 annually. The effect is small, but it’s negative and not impressively positive, as stadium deal proponents claim.

“The negative predicted impact of the vector of sports variables on annual average wages does not support the notion that professional sports are viable engines of economic development in cities,” Coates and Humphries conclude.

Instead of sidling up to lawmakers asking for a handout, sports teams should be emulating the model of an NFL team with much more success than the hapless Rams: the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers are owned by the fans, and the fans are voting shareholders. The team can never threaten to leave if taxpayers don’t agree to cough up more of their hard-earned money, unlike teams that threaten to move if they don’t get shiny new stadiums on someone else’s dime. If a team doesn’t want to trade ownership shares for public support, the city should let them go their own way.

As Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute writes, “The spread of fan-owned teams would break the subsidy culture that now grips all of the major sports leagues.”

Giving fans a direct stake in the home team solidifies the bond between sports teams and fans and cuts the chains otherwise burdening taxpayers. Sports teams in all professional leagues, not just the NFL, should copy the Packers’ model for success on the football field and off.

[Originally published at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

Categories: On the Blog

Not All Energy is Created Equal

Somewhat Reasonable - September 22, 2015, 12:49 PM

Congress has taken action that actually advances free markets and limits government intrusion. I was in the room when, on September 17, the House Energy and Commerce Committee—with bipartisan support—advanced legislation to lift the 1970s-era ban on crude-oil exports. HR 702, “To adapt to changing crude oil market conditions,” is expected to receive a full floor vote within a matter of weeks.

The export ban is a relic of a bygone era during which ideas like “peak oil” and “energy scarcity” were the conventional wisdom. Despite all those who cried “wolf,” the U.S. is now the world’s largest combined oil-and-gas producer.

Ending this obsolete ban would unleash America’s energy producers on the global market, increasing domestic production and creating jobs. Additionally, reports from experts at the non-partisan Energy Information Administration and Government Accountability Office, plus consultants at IHS, indicate that it will also lower prices at the pump.

Like everything that seems to happen in Washington, DC, these days, this initial victory may have a price tag that prevents its final passage.

Getting the Democrats on board with removing the barrier to exporting America’s abundance may likely require giving them something they want. Morning Consult recently reported: “Momentum is building in Congress to repeal the antiquated ban on exporting crude oil. Lawmakers and energy industry representatives are talking about other energy policies that could be swapped or combined to achieve that objective. Renewable energy tax credits are part of the equation.”

Those “renewable energy tax credits” are mainly two: the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) and solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Like the oil-export ban, the wind PTC is an archaic policy that has no place in today’s modern reality of energy abundance.

Passed by Congress in 1992, the PTC pays the wind industry for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated over a ten-year period. No other mature energy source—natural gas, oil, or coal—can claim a similar carve out based on how much product they sell. The subsidy is so lavish that wind developers can sometimes sell their electricity at a loss and still profit. The New York Times has described this as wind’s “cannibal behavior” on the power grid.

The PTC costs taxpayers like you and me billions of dollars each year. Americans pay for wind twice: first in their federal tax bills, then in their local utility bills. According to a new study, commissioned by the Institute for Energy Research, electricity generated from new wind facilities is between three and four times as expensive as that from existing coal and nuclear power plants,.

The Senate Finance Committee claims a two-year extension would cost $10 billion over the next decade. After decades of subsidies and multiple PTC extensions, wind still generates less than 5 percent of our electricity.

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), who has long opposed the PTC extension, told me: “With a skyrocketing $16 trillion debt and an industry that is more than capable of standing on its own, there is no reason why the federal government should continue to subsidize the wind energy industry. Proponents of the Wind PTC continue to call for an extension—for the umpteenth time. This handout costs taxpayers billions and has caused significant price distortions in wholesale electricity markets that translate into real costs for everyday consumers. If we want a robust economy, it’s time to stop picking winners and losers in the energy marketplace and finally end the wind PTC. After two decades of pork, the wind looters need to stand on their own two feet. Most of the people in the wind industry I talk to know this, and I am confident that those individuals and others in the energy industry will enjoy many marketplace successes once we put a stop to the purely political policies that we have seen to date.”

Despite the mountain of evidence against wind subsidies—including increasing reports of health issues and concerns over bird kills—this summer, before the August recess, the Senate Finance Committee rushed through a package of expired tax provisions, including the wind PTC. Now, wind lobbyists are looking for a legislative “vehicle” to latch on to, preferably one with bipartisan support, to push through another PTC extension without a fair hearing, which is exactly why they’re eyeing the oil-export bill.

According to The Hill, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said he could consider lifting the ban “only if it’s tied to a permanent extension of the wind and solar tax credits.”

Swapping the PTC for oil exports is a bad deal, as lifting the ban deserves to pass in its own right. But what many don’t realize is that trading the PTC for oil exports is also a Faustian bargain that furthers President Obama’s destructive climate-change agenda.

The PTC and the president’s climate agenda are related because Obama’s sweeping new carbon regulations, known as the “Clean Power Plan”—finalized in August—require states to drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions. It does this by shuttering low-cost coal plants and building new wind and solar facilities. The problem: wind and solar are uneconomic without massive taxpayer handouts like the PTC and ITC and market-distorting mandates like state Renewable Portfolio Standards.

This scheme is the centerpiece of Obama’s climate legacy, which he hopes to cement in December at the United Nations climate conference in Paris.

These carbon regulations will inflict severe burdens on American families—especially the poorest among us who can least afford to pay higher energy prices. A recent study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, for instance, found that Obama’s carbon rule would increase Black and Hispanic poverty by 23 and 26 percent, respectively. For all that pain, the regulations will, perhaps, reduce global temperature rise by 0.018 degrees Celsius in 2100—an undetectable amount.

Buried in hundreds of pages of “analysis,” the Environmental Protection Agency projects the wind industry will add more than 13 GW of electrical capacity each year from 2024-2030. For context, 13 GW is exactly how much capacity wind added in 2012, a record year. It is also the year in which rent-seeking wind barons rushed to build as many new turbines as possible to quality for the PTC, which expired at the end of the year. The following year, after the PTC expired, wind additions collapsed by more than 90 percent—which highlights the fact that the wind industry cannot survive in a free market.

This makes the wind PTC vital to Obama’s carbon regulations. His plan depends on exponential wind growth, and the wind industry depends on government handouts like the PTC to avoid total collapse, let alone grow.

By not accepting a wind PTC tradeoff, Congress can deal a blow to corporate wind welfare and Obama’s carbon regulations in one shot. Congress must strip the PTC out of tax extenders and refuse to use wind subsidies as a bargaining chip. The two are totally unrelated. One is a liquid fuel used primarily for transportation. The other: a way to generate electricity, albeit inefficiently, ineffectively and uneconomically. One helps our trade deficit problem and increases revenues as FuelFix reports: “liberalizing crude trade spurs more domestic production, with a resulting boost in government revenue from the activity.” The other: a hidden tax that hurts all Americans.

By rejecting an extension of the wind PTC and lifting the ban on oil exports, Congress would end corporate welfare for wind lobbyists, deal a blow to Obama’s costly carbon regulations, and free America’s entrepreneurs to provide abundant, affordable, and reliable energy for all.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Categories: On the Blog

Politico.com Report Indicates Obamacare Contains Obscure Self-Destruct Provision

Somewhat Reasonable - September 22, 2015, 8:48 AM

Liberals fear the GOP may soon laugh-off  Obamacare.

Politico.com is reporting that Obamacare contains an obscure, but potentially potent, self-destruct provision. “The provision allows the executive branch to waive big chunks of the law for a state that chooses a different approach to expanding health coverage. It was designed to allow progressive states to go further than Obamacare. Vermont, for instance, wanted to create a single-payer plan,” the online site reports.

“But the tool could turn out to be an important lever for Republicans, especially if they control the White House. In theory at least, a Republican president, working with Republican governors, could use it to toss the much-reviled individual and employer mandates, health insurance exchanges, subsidies that certain people receive to afford their health plans, and mandates for what benefits are covered.”

According to Politico.com, under the law, a state may ask the administration to waive some of the law’s requirements beginning in 2017 in favor of an alternative that still achieves Obamacare’s objectives, including covering the same number of people and keeping coverage affordable. An alternative also may not increase the federal deficit.

“While those are steep conditions, a determined Republican president might interpret them differently than a Democratic one,” the online publication warns.

So who needs King v. Burwell, or another fast-track case to derail the controversial healthcare law when the law already has a Mission Impossible-style self-destruct mechanism?



Categories: On the Blog
Syndicate content