On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Peter Ferrara: Entitlement Crisis

Somewhat Reasonable - April 08, 2015, 4:11 PM

In Today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in as Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara talks with Inside Track radio. Ferrara was on to discuss, among other things, the GOP budget proposal and how entitlement reform could save trillions of dollars and help millions of people.

During the interview, Ferrara and the show’s hosts discuss what the proposed budget would mean to our nation’s defense spending. They also talk about the nuclear negations with Iran and the likely impacts such a deal would have on the geo-political landscape.

In the second half of the interview, Ferrara talks about his new book, Power to the People: The New Road to Freedom and Prosperity for the Poor, Seniors, and Those Most in Need of the World’s Best Health Care. America is quickly accelerating toward a spending crisis due to ever growing entitlement programs; Ferrara addresses this problem with a host of free-market solutions. 

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

Categories: On the Blog

Obamacare: Redistributing Wealth, One Health Insurance Policy at a Time

Somewhat Reasonable - April 08, 2015, 3:28 PM

A new, national study suggests that Obamacare redistributes wealth from the middle class to the poor. Those Americans whose earnings are above the federal poverty line (FPL) pay more for health insurance than do their poorer neighbors under the controversial law.

The March 30 report by Avalere Health, a consulting firm formed by former Clinton administration policy aides 15 years ago, demonstrates that Obamacare subsidies guarantee that those with the lowest incomes pay the smallest premiums and get the most liberal coverage. But those middle class Americans who pay more for Obamacare health insurance get much more meager coverage. The health consultancy found that during the most recent enrollment period nearly 80% of eligible uninsured people with incomes less than 150 percent of FPL ($17,655) have selected an Obamacare insurance plan.

Just two percent of uninsured people with incomes of 400 % or more of FPL ($47,080) enrolled in Obamacare. Ninety-eight percent of uninsured Americans who were most able to afford insurance declined to enroll.

Health care insurance coverage for most Americans, under Obamacare, is simply “not worth the price,” writes Grace-Marie Turner, of the Galen Institute, in her recent column on the continuing policy fiasco in Forbes online.

For Further Reading:

http://avalere.com/expertise/managed-care/insights/exchanges-struggle-to-enroll-consumers-as-income-increases

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gracemarieturner/2015/04/02/enrollment-in-obamacare-dominated-by-those-with-lowest-incomes-study-finds/

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland’s Peter Ferrara on NYC Talk Radio: Our Looming Entitlement Crisis

Somewhat Reasonable - April 08, 2015, 2:45 PM

On Sunday, April 5, Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara was a guest on the radio show “On The Money” with host Mike Vitoria on 970 The Answer in New York City. Ferrara was on to discuss America’s looming entitlement crisis.

During the interview, Ferrara talks about how America’s ever-increasing spending on growing entitlement programs will have dire consequences. Citing the Congressional Budget Office, Ferrara states that federal and state government spending will soon top 50 percent of the GDP under current trends. These trends are unsustainable and the repercussions are already presenting themselves.

Ferrara states that the disability portion of Social Security is projected to go bankrupt next year with more entitlement programs following shortly after that. But Ferrara is not just relaying bad news; he offers potential solutions on how to solves these impeding problems — including a more self-directed savings program to replace Social Security. This would allow workers to have the choice to redirect their tax dollars into a personal savings and insurance accounts that would be used to pay for benefits in the future. This is a solution that has already shown itself successful in Chile.

These solutions and more are discussed in Peter Ferrara’s upcoming book, Power to the People: The New Road to Freedom and Prosperity for the Poor, Seniors, and Those Most in Need of the World’s Best Health Care. Listen to the interview in the player full above.

Categories: On the Blog

Hydrogen – the Net-Negative Energy Option.

Somewhat Reasonable - April 08, 2015, 10:07 AM

The same people who promoted intermittent energy (wind and solar) have trumped that with their latest green energy fad – hydrogen fuel.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe; it fuels the sun and is the third most common element on Earth. But it is so reactive that it is seldom found in its elemental state – it combines strongly with other elements such as oxygen to form water or with carbon to form methane. It is an essential component in all acids, alkalis, hydro-carbons and organic materials.

To extract hydrogen from natural compounds such as water, methane or coal requires very large inputs of energy. Most commonly hydrogen is produced from methane gas using heat and steam, or by electrolysis of water using large quantities of electricity. 

Hydrogen can be used to power rockets, cars and engines of all types. However the energy used to produce the hydrogen can never be fully recovered from the energy in the hydrogen. It is thus NOT a source of energy – it is merely a storehouse for energy – a battery.

It is possible to produce hydrogen from water using electricity from nuclear or hydro-carbon fuels, or even intermittent green energy. The hydrogen gas could then be transported to cities as a clean energy source for cars, thus reducing pollution from petrol/diesel vehicles. 

But hydrogen is a very dangerous gas. It has tiny lightweight molecules which have low energy density and are difficult to compress, contain and store. It also forms a very explosive mixture with air. To provide a network of hydrogen car-fuelling stations, or to suggest hydrogen as a domestic gas, is inviting explosive disasters in the suburbs – (imagine the Health and Safety regulations!)

Even the impractical electric cars have benefits compared to the hydrogen car. Electricity is safer and the supply network is easier and essentially in place. Moreover, electric cars do not reduce the oxygen content of city air – every tonne of hydrogen fuel consumes eight tonnes of oxygen to produce nine tonnes of water vapour. So instead of urban smog, we may get urban fog.

And to suggest that hydrogen can provide base-load power tops all green energy idiocy.

Hydrogen is a Net-Negative Energy Option.

Categories: On the Blog

California’s Water Shortage Self-induced

Somewhat Reasonable - April 07, 2015, 4:14 PM

Californians’  own stupidity (with help from D.C.) is responsible for the water shortages now facing state residents.

California, has been arid for millennia, except for the Northern forests, largely consisting of high mountain deserts, inland deserts (think death valley), and coastal deserts. That’s why it was among the least-populated regions of the country when Native Americans dominated the continent. There simply wasn’t enough water to support tribal peoples with high population densities.

Before anyone says it, human-caused global warming is not to blame for the present drought. Indeed, in the past, the region has experienced much more severe and century-long periods of low rain and snowfall. Only Californian’s own short-sightedness made them believe it could never happen again.

In a great piece at City Journal, Victor Davis Hanson explores the roots of the current crisis.

We do know two things. First, Brown and other Democratic leaders will never concede that their own opposition in the 1970s (when California had about half its present population) to the completion of state and federal water projects, along with their more recent allowance of massive water diversions for fish and river enhancement, left no margin for error in a state now home to 40 million people. Second, the mandated restrictions will bring home another truth as lawns die, pools empty, and boutique gardens shrivel in the coastal corridor from La Jolla to Berkeley: the very idea of a 20-million-person corridor along the narrow, scenic Pacific Ocean and adjoining foothills is just as unnatural as “big” agriculture’s Westside farming. The weather, climate, lifestyle, views, and culture of coastal living may all be spectacular, but the arid Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area megalopolises must rely on massive water transfers from the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, or out-of-state sources to support their unnatural ecosystems.

Federal and state politicians set a goal of making California’s arid lands bloom like a rose, and they were largely successful for most of the 20th century. However, the agricultural productivity came at a high costs to wild rivers, natural lands and wildlife. Now various laws, laws imposed in part by the very environmental radicals who are now among those complaining the loudest, are forcing Californians to take environmental amenities into account — and, combined with an ongoing drought, are leaving resident’s high and dry.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of loons, in my opinion.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Angela Hill: Common Core in Mississippi

Somewhat Reasonable - April 07, 2015, 3:37 PM

Heather Kays talks to Mississippi Senator Angela Hill about why it has been so difficult to remove Common Core in Mississippi despite a large grassroots movement calling for the repeal and replacement of the standards. Hill says she will continue to fight Common Core in Mississippi.

Hill also discusses a ballot initiative which could have a serious impact on education funding in Mississippi.

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

Categories: On the Blog

#RFRA – Big Government Means Big Losses of Freedom and Choices and Big Cronyism

Somewhat Reasonable - April 07, 2015, 2:06 PM

The solution to many, MANY public policy problems is less government.

Governments’ regulatory hammers and checkbooks are simply gi-normous. The federal government alone spent last year nearly $4 trillion – and its regulations cost the economy more than $2 trillion more.

That’s $6 trillion a year with which to punish enemies and reward friends. Which sets up the Leviathan to be the Crony Deal Broker.

Government is so huge – way, WAY beyond the bounds proscribed by the Constitution – it keeps bumping up against the individual freedoms of a free society.

There is in Indiana (and elsewhere) no religious freedom “tension” with respect to their Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. There is only government dramatically overreaching. The Constitution mandates government make no law abridging the freedom of religion. The Constitution mandates government its own self treat everyone equally before the law. The Constitution does not empower the government to mandate that every individual treat every other individual equally.

Have you said yes to every person who has ever asked you out on a date? If the answer is no – congratulations, you discriminated. Do you want the government to mandate that you say yes to everyone? Because that would end your discrimination.

You want real campaign finance reform? Reduce the power and money government wields (again, to its Constitutional limits) – and the pay-to-play donations go away. If the Feds can’t write multi-billion dollar checks – or regulate your competitors while leaving you alone – there will be less campaign contribution “investments” on the front end.

Obama Donors Got $21,000 in Government Money for Every $1 They Gave

Obama Bundler Earmarked Stimulus Money for Donors

Obama Donor: Stimulus Was Like a Hooker in Prison

And then there’s the Regulations-for-Thee-Not-for-Me cronyism that is now rampant beyond words. To wit:

Amazon…Urge(s) Caution in FCC Move on Web TV

Amazon is warning (Federal Communications Commission-FCC) federal regulators not to saddle its upstart video service with new regulations by treating it like a traditional cable service….

(S)haking up the process “could impair the success” of the current “thriving” market, Amazon warned….

Of course Amazon doesn’t want to be regulated. No one who is in – or understands – business does. But they were specific – “don’t regulate us like cable.”

That’s interesting. Because the FCC just jammed down our throatsNetwork Neutrality and the entire 1934 landline telephone regulatory regime. And did so by totally ignoring all other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – wireless, satellite, etc. – and pretending only cable Internet service exists. And then decrying the lack of ISP choices as “justification” for their ridiculous power grab.

But as Amazon rightly (if accidentally) points out – governments and their massive regulatory regimes are why there are fewer cable providers.

Governments Mandate Monopolies – Then Complain About a Lack of Competition

Local governments and their public utilities charge ISPs far more (for building rights) than these things actually cost. For example, rights of way and pole attachments fees can double the cost of network construction….

These (government) incumbents – the real monopolists – also have the final say on whether an ISP can build a network. They determine what hoops an ISP must jump through to get approval.

This reduces the number of potential competitors who can profitably deploy service.… The lack of competition makes it easier for local governments and utilities to charge more for rights of way and pole attachments.

It’s a vicious circle…(A) system of forced kickbacks….(also) includ(ing) ISPs…building out service where it isn’t demanded, donating equipment, and delivering free broadband to government buildings.

How bad does it get?

Video franchises are the revenue-sharing agreements that cable TV companies sign with local governments in return for the exclusive right to offer video services to customers. (Emphasis ours.)

Get that? It’s governments beating down private sector competitors – and creating monopolies – not the (very un-free) market.

You can certainly understand why Amazon wouldn’t want to be regulated like that. If only they were consistent in their deregulatory perspective.

Amazon Exec: Net Neutrality Necessary Because of “Little Choice” for Consumers

Amazon is ignoring the governments-induced problem – just like the governments are.

Why would Amazon favor yet another regulatory body blow to ISPs? Because it is a bandwidth hog company – it uses a LOT of Internet capacity. And the government just outlawed Amazon’s being charged for being a bandwidth hog company. That’s great for them – not so great for us.

ISPs can only charge two people for the bandwidth they build. The Bandwidth Hogs – and us. So our prices will skyrocket – to augment the profits of the Bandwidth Hogs. Net Neu

tral, right?

So Amazon just received a huge Crony anti-ISP regulatory boost from the Obama Administration – while beseeching the Obama Administration not to uber-regulate them in similar anti-ISP fashion. Regulate thee – not me. How did this come to pass?

(Amazon President Jeff) Bezos Leans Heavily Democratic, Good for Obama

(S)ince 1988 some 88 percent of Bezos’ donations went to Democrats.

Of course. More anti-freedom, anti-choices, Crony Socialist business as usual from Big Government.

[Originally Published at Human Events]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Huge Split In The Pro-GMO Community

Somewhat Reasonable - April 07, 2015, 11:46 AM

As far as organic stakeholders are concerned, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be banned. Even new GMO crops that would provide benefits to organic farmers and the world’s poor are out.

These same people who decided way back in 1997 that GMO crops must forever be labelled as dangerous also believe coal-fired power generation and diesel farm-tractors cause the planet’s atmosphere to warm. If only the facts supported either position.

Roughly 70 percent of our diet now includes GMOs and, after almost two decades, not a single illness has been reported. During that same timeframe, the planet has not warmed even though we emitted 25 per cent of all the carbon dioxide ever emitted during this time! And this leads people like Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, to posit that technology might actually be good for the environment.

Moore leads the campaign to approve GMO Golden Rice, enriched with β-Carotene to prevent blindness in millions of children in the Developing World. He’s also a leading skeptic of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), warning that curbing fossil-fuel usage will only serve to destroy Western economies and wipe out progress in the developing world.

Naturally, Moore’s former colleagues at Greenpeace reject his views. But how do we explain his enemies on the pro-GMO side of the equation? Who could possibly agree with Moore on the safety and benefits of one human innovation: GMO crops, but oppose him on the larger issue of AGW theory which impugns all forms of innovation? Well, let’s start at the bottom.

First we have people like Dr. Karl Haro von Mogel, chairman of BioFortified.org, and Jon Entine, former NBC producer and founder of the Genetic Literacy Project. Both support GMOs but refuse to run material by Moore due to his skepticism of their cherished predictions of future climatic events.

Moving up the food chain we encounter the overwhelming majority of executives at leading GMO corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, along with the executives of their lobbying organizations CropLife and BIO, hand-in-hand with the executives of nearly every commodity group and farm bureau across the land. These top-earners have decided to embrace the dubious findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change along with Agenda 21, social engineering plans which seek to drastically reduce the amount of energy we use, eliminate private property rights, and thereby undermine our standard of living in America.

These executives would have you believe that human activities like power generation and modern farming will, at some future date, cause the polar ice caps to melt. And not only does this put them squarely on the same side of the fence as organic activists who claim GMOs threaten organic crops. It also eliminates any possibility of support from these executives for humanitarian efforts like Moore’s aforementioned campaign to get GMO Golden Rice approved. All in a day’s work; it’s what compromise is all about.

None of these GMO executives explains that GMOs pose no threat whatsoever to organic crops, and further, that many GMO crops could be grown under organic management, as per President Clinton’s suggestion back in 1997. Apparently they’ve never bothered to read America’s standards for organic production, which, fittingly, also appears to be the case with the organic activists they find themselves in bed with. Why pass laws through Congress if neither side follows them?

But never mind all these bothersome facts. As far as GMO executives are concerned, AGW and the U.N. are both “in,” and Moore and his ilk are out. Alas, a grand bargain has been in the works for quite some time now.

In exchange for the immediate acceptance of the tenets of Al Gore’s global-warming agenda, politicians in New York, Washington and Brussels are writing agreements allowing for the gradual acceptance of GMO foods the world-over. As part of the exchange, GMO executives will allow for the immediate adoption of European-style restrictions on GMOs here in America in the form of a national GMO labelling program: Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.)’s H.R. 4432.

Again, never mind the bipartisan rules for organic production that were written during President Clinton’s second term, and passed into law during George Bush’s first term. Washington and pro-GMO executives have decided that the solution to the organic movement’s inflexible opposition to GMOs is to pass yet more law.

This legislation not only concedes to organic activists by adding yet another layer of bureaucracy by labelling a field of science these activists reject. More astonishing is the bill’s institution of an “acceptable” European threshold limit on GMOs here in America – the place where GMOs were invented! – making it possible for the first time ever for organic farmers to sue GMO farmers if their organic crops become “contaminated” by GMO pollen.

This is what consensus looks like; again, all in a day’s work for these execs. American farmers will be exposed to litigation while Monsanto et al are protected.

But hang on, there’s another layer to the onion. Established GMO corporations have actually decided that the organic movement’s attacks on the science of genetic engineering present them with a golden opportunity.

The more that organic activists gin-up fear about GMOs, the more politicians are forced to pay lip service to the notion that GMOs might pose some sort of a threat, resulting in misguided legislation like H.R. 4432. This has led to a continuous ratcheting-up of the regulatory framework surrounding new GMO crops, to the point where only a handful of GMO corporate giants can afford to participate. In fact, these executives have actually been helping regulators make the process more onerous right from the start!

Pro-GMO, pro-AGW, anti-Moore executives have turned agricultural genetic engineering into the high-roller’s table in Vegas.

If IBM had managed to do this with computers before Bill Gates and Steve Jobs hit the scene, you wouldn’t be reading this article online right now. The more expensive the regulatory process, the less innovation there is, and these executives really couldn’t be happier.

Heaven forbid the public might someday come to accept GMOs the same way we accept the microchip and the 12-gauge shotgun shell that propels the air bag in your steering wheel. When that day comes, corporations like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta will have to start investing in innovating again, or risk going the way of Kodak and Xerox.

In the meantime, any risk presented by new laws like H.R. 4432 is totally manageable for these executives, because it’s so highly unlikely that any existing GMO crops would ever be de-listed. And besides, Pompeo and Butterfield’s voluntary, national GMO labelling bill leads to marketing decisions that food processor and grocery store executives will have to make, with no ramifications for GMO executives. And no matter how bad the situation might become on the public-relations front, there is no possible way that these food processors and grocers will ever convince a couple million American farmers to abandon GMO canola, corn, alfalfa and sugar beets.

In short, established GMO crops are now a permanent fixture of the American farm economy, and everyone in the food biz, with the exception of GMO executives, will just have to learn to deal with the barrage of attacks from organic activists which show no sign of abating.

As for new GMO crops … who cares? Not these executives. If a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, then surely an approved, entrenched GMO crop is probably worth 100 unapproved GMO crops. Indeed, the litany of UN-approved GMO crops sitting in limbo in the dusty halls of academia and in the laboratories of smaller GMO start-ups grows longer every day, much to the dismay of farmers.

Do you think for a minute IBM executives would have developed the home computer were it not for the challenge to IBM’s hegemony from Jobs and Gates? What would their incentive have been? This is the abysmal, anti-competitive state of affairs that pro-GMO executives currently enjoy. Their silence is golden, with deepest sympathies, of course, to all those unfortunate children in the Third World under the age of five who are staring down the barrel of permanent blindness, followed by a most-certain and agonizing death.

To sum up, if you believe in the science of genetic engineering and you’re also a climate-change skeptic, you’re either already out of the picture, or you’re about to be, right alongside Dr. Patrick Moore and the campaign to allow GMO Golden Rice.

Move over Galileo. 375 years later and a politically entrenched, superstitious establishment still reigns supreme at the highest levels.

[Originally Published at the Daily Caller]

 

Categories: On the Blog

When the Supreme Court Stopped Economic Fascism in America

Somewhat Reasonable - April 07, 2015, 11:01 AM

There was a time when the Supreme Court of the United States defended and upheld the Constitutional protections for economic liberty in America. This year marks the 80th anniversary of one of the Supreme Court’s finest hours, when it overturned Franklin Roosevelt’s agenda for economic fascism in the U.S.

The trend toward bigger and ever-more-intrusive government, unfortunately, was not stopped, but the case nonetheless was a significant event that at that time prevented the institutionalizing of a Mussolini-type fascist economic system in America.

On May 27, 1935, in a unanimous decision the nine members of the Supreme Court said there were constitutional limits beyond which the federal government could not go in claiming the right to regulate the economic affairs of the citizenry. It was a glorious day in American judicial history, and is worth remembering.

FDR’s Broken Promises for Smaller Government

When Franklin Roosevelt ran for
 president in the autumn of 1932 he did
 so on a Democratic Party platform that 
many a classical liberal, free market advocate might have happily supported and even voted for.

The 
platform said that the federal government was far too big, taxed and spent far 
too much, and intruded into the affairs of 
the states to too great an extent. It said government spending had to be cut, taxes needed to be reduced, and the federal budget had to be brought back into balance by ending deficit spending. It also called for free trade and a sound gold-backed currency.

But as soon as Roosevelt took office in March 1933 he instituted a series of programs and policies that turned all those promises upside down. In the first four years of FDR’s New Deal, taxes were increased, government spending reached heights never seen before in U.S. history, and the federal budget bled red with deficits.

The bureaucracy ballooned; public-works projects increasingly dotted the land; and the heavy hand of government was all over industry and agriculture. The United States was taken off the gold standard, with the American people compelled to turn in their gold coin and bullion to the government for paper money under the threat of confiscation and imprisonment.

FDR Takes Executive Control

In his inaugural address in March 1933, FDR said that he considered his election as a mandate from the American people for “direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me their present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.”

Roosevelt asked the Congress for broad executive authority to fight the economic crisis of the Great Depression. But if Congress refused to give him this free hand to arbitrarily do what he wanted, he warned darkly that he would just take it through independent executive action: “I will not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me.”

In a series of speeches FDR insisted that private industry had to give up some of its freedom; agriculture had to be supervised and assisted by the government; public expenditures were needed to increase and reflect modern responsibilities of enlightened political authority, including social security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation; competition, speculation, and banking required increased government regulation; the hours, wages, and conditions of work had to come under greater government control; income and spending power among groups in American society needed to be redistributed; massive public works projects had to be undertaken for the national betterment.

A “New Deal” of Government Control

Taken all together, FDR said that the “spirit of my program” represented a “New Deal” for America, involving “a changed concept of the duty and responsibility of government toward economic life.” He said that as part of this, “business must think less of its own profit and more of the national function it performs.” And the suppression of private interests to a common interest would “make possible the approach to a national economic policy which will have as its central feature the fitting of production programs to the actual probabilities of consumption” as considered appropriate by the new government planners.

Government Spending and Programs Run Wild

During the next four years, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal implemented all of these proposals. Between 1933 and 1936, federal government increased by 83 percent. To cover this massive increase in government spending, Roosevelt’s administration ran huge budget deficits.

In 1933, deficit financing covered 56.6 percent of government expenditures. For 1934, 1935, and 1936, the figures for deficit financing were, respectively, 54.6 percent, 43 percent, and 52.3 percent of government expenditures. In four years, the federal government’s debt went from $19.5 billion in 1932 ($270 billion in 2015 dollars) to $33.8 billion in 1936 ($608.4 billion in 2015 dollars), representing a 73.3% increase.

An Alphabet of Government Planning Programs

On May 12, 1933, the Congress passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), giving the government wide powers to fix the prices of farm products, purchase agricultural surpluses over an increasing number of crops, and pay farmers to reduce acreage in various lines of production.

Farmers were given subsidies and government-guaranteed price supports, with Washington determining what crops could be grown and what livestock could be raised. Government ordered some crops to be plowed under and some livestock slaughtered, all in the name of centrally planned farm production and pricing.

On May 18, 1933, the Congress passed the Tennessee Valley Act, giving the federal government authorization for the undertaking of a massive public works project for the construction of dams and electrification in the southern states. It was nothing less than socialist planning for land use, conservation, and supplying of energy for a vast subsection of the country.

The AAA also gave the Roosevelt administration the authority to reduce the gold content and value of the dollar by up to 50 percent. Then, in contradiction to the promise that “a sound currency [would be] preserved at all hazards,” on June 5, 1933, Congress passed a resolution voiding the gold clause in all government and private contractual obligations, as well as requiring all Americans to turn in their privately held gold for Federal Reserve Notes, under penalty of confiscation and imprisonment.

On March 29, 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps was established, putting government in the business of creating work for America’s youth in the national forests with mock military-style drilling.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was passed on May 12, 1933, designed to create make-
work projects for thousands of able-
bodied men, all at taxpayers’ expense.

Since unemployed artists were “workers” too, they were set to work in government buildings across the land.
 Even today, in some of the post offices
 dating from the 1930s, one can see
 murals depicting happy factory workers and farm hands in a style similar to 
political “art” produced in Stalin’s Russia and 
Hitler’s Germany.

Industrial Fascism Comes to America

On June 16, 1933, the Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA) providing for total federal government control of the industrial sectors of the U.S. economy. Mandatory “codes of fair competition” were established for each sector of the economy, establishing pricing and production regulations for almost every manufactured good in the country.

Modeled on Mussolini’s fascist economic system, it forced virtually all American industry, manufacturing, and retail business into cartels possessing the power to set prices and wages, and to dictate the levels of production. Within a few months over 200 separate pricing and production codes were imposed on the various branches of American business.

Every retail store in America was encouraged to display the NRA “Blue Eagle” emblem (with lightening bolts in one claw and an industrial gear in the other) in its store windows to assure people that the stores were “Doing Their Part,” meaning it followed the pricing and production codes. Citizen committees were formed to spy on local merchants and report if they dared to sell at lower prices than those mandated under NRA central planning.

Propaganda Campaigns for Government Planning

Propaganda rallies in support of the NRA were held across the country. During half time at football games cheerleaders and children would form the shape of the Blue Eagle. There were government-sponsored parades throughout America that featured Hollywood stars supporting the NRA.

At one of these parades the famous singer Al Jolson was filmed being asked what he thought of the NRA; he replied, “NRA? NRA? Why it’s better than my wedding night!” Film shorts produced by Hollywood in support of the NRA were shown in theaters around the country; in one of them child movie star Shirley Temple danced and sang the praises of big-government regulation of the American economy.

And dancer, Ginger Rogers, sang “We’re in the Money” in the movie, Gold Diggers of 1933, praising debasement of the currency for inflationary prosperity.

Ending the March into Economic Fascism

The Supreme Court brought this headlong march into economic fascism to a halt in 1935. The catalyst was a legal case known as Schechter Poultry Corp. versus United States. Schechter, a slaughterhouse that sold chickens to kosher markets in New York City, was accused of violating the “fair competition” codes under the NRA. The case made its way up to the Supreme Court, with the nine justices laying down their unanimous decision on May 27, 1935.

Three hundred people packed the court that day to hear the decision, with prominent members of Congress and the executive branch in the audience. The justices declared that the federal government had exceeded its authority under the interstate-commerce clause of the Constitution, since the defendant purchased and sold all the chickens it marketed within the boundaries of the State of New York.

Therefore, the federal government lacked the power to regulate the company’s production and prices. In addition, the justices stated that the NRA’s power to impose codes constituted arbitrary and discretionary control inconsistent with the limited and enumerated powers delegated by the Constitution.

This was soon followed by the Supreme Court’s rejection of the AAA in January 1936, when the justices insisted that the federal government lacked the authority to tax food processors to pay for the farmers’ subsidies and price supports. Furthermore, since farming was generally a local and state activity, the federal government did not have the power to regulate it under the interstate-commerce clause of the Constitution.

“Nine Old Men” or “Nine Wise Men”?

Franklin Roosevelt was furious that what he called those “nine old men” should attempt to keep America in the “horse and buggy era” when this great nation needed a more powerful central government to manage economic affairs in the “modern age.” FDR’s response was his famous “court packing” scheme, in which he asked Congress to give him the power to add more justices to the Supreme Court in order to tilt the balance in favor of the “enlightened” and “progressive” policies of the New Deal.

But this blatant power grab by the executive branch ended up being too much even for many of the Democrats in Congress, and Roosevelt failed in this attempt to assert naked presidential authority over another branch of the federal government.

Shortly after the Supreme Court declared both the NRA and AAA unconstitutional, David Lawrence, founder and long-time editor of U.S. News and World Report, published a book titled Nine Honest Men (1936). He praised the justices for their devotion to the bedrock principles of the Constitution, and their defense of the traditional American ideals of individual liberty, private property, and the rule of law—even in the face of the emotional appeal of government to “do something” during an economic crisis.

FDR soon, however, had his way with the Supreme Court as sitting members retired, and he could replace them with other justices more responsive in their decisions to the new “progressive” rationale for more paternalistic government over the lives of the citizenry.

As a result, in spite of that landmark decision 80 years ago against the imposition of economic fascism in America, the U.S. government has continued to grow in power over the American people. But it should be remembered that men of courage, integrity, and principle can stand up to Big Brother and resist the headlong march into economic tyranny.

That unanimous Supreme Court decision in 1935 was one bright example of it.

[Originally Published at EpicTimes]

Categories: On the Blog

Perverse Climate “Morality”

Somewhat Reasonable - April 06, 2015, 4:11 PM

You’ve got to admit, liberal are masters at describing every initiative they launch as “the moral thing to do.” Their campaign for draconian energy regulations and a new global warming treaty is no exception. Protecting people, wildlife and ecosystems from climate catastrophes is the greatest moral cause of our time, alarmist scientists, activists, politicians, bureaucrats, clerics and journalists insist. Rubbish.

It has nothing to do with morality. It’s all about money, power and control. It narrowly defines “morality” to ignore the incredible benefits that fossil fuels and electricity bring to people everywhere – while dismissing the enormous harm their policies will wreak on families and ecological values that they profess to care so much about. And it makes no mention of the fact that they will rarely, if ever, be held accountable for their falsehoods and fraudulent science, or the damage and deaths they cause.

On March 31, President Obama promised to slash America’s carbon dioxide emissions 28% below 2005 emission levels by 2025 and 80% by 2050, taking us back to Civil War era emission levels, 150 years ago. He wants U.S. taxpayers to contribute our “fair share” to a new UN $100-billion-per-year UN slush fund to help poor countries adapt to and mitigate rising seas, storms and other climate change disasters that our plant-fertilizing CO2 emissions allegedly cause. He instructed his federal agencies to implement a host of new rules prior to the December 2015 United Nations climate conference in Paris.

Mr. Obama’s EPA will use “Clean Power Plan” and other regulations to shutter more coal-fired generating plants, issue new methane rules for landfills and natural gas production, funnel countless millions of dollars to activist and propaganda groups, and use sue and settle lawsuits to impose even tighter restrictions. FEMA will require that states use CO2-based computer models to determine how manmade climate change threatens communities, if they want disaster preparedness funding.

The Council on Environmental Quality will require that all applicants for federal project permits fully evaluate greenhouse gas emissions and potential impacts on climate change, to the satisfaction of bureaucrats and litigious Big Green pressure groups. The Department of Energy will issue new efficiency standards that double the cost of pickup trucks and appliances, and spend more taxpayer billions on wind, solar and biofuel loans and subsidies. The Interior Department will close more federal lands to drilling, and exempt more wind and solar projects from endangered species and other environmental laws.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation and World Bank will refuse to lend money for coal-fired power plants, and even most gas-fueled generators and hydroelectric facilities, in developing countries.

These actions will have disastrous consequences. According to the Heritage Foundation, NERA economic consultants and other experts, EPA’s actions alone will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and a $100-billion loss in gross domestic product. By 2030, America’s electricity output will drop by nearly 10% even as we add 54 million people to our population. Brownouts and blackouts will occur regularly, and we will be told to get used to using expensive electricity when it’s available, instead of when we need it.

Poor, minority and blue-collar families will have to find thousands of dollars a year for soaring electricity, vehicle and appliance costs. Small businesses will have to find tens of thousands of dollars to keep the heat and lights on. Factories, malls, school districts, hospitals and cities will have to pay millions more.

Millions of middle class workers will get laid off – in coal mines, power plants, factories, shops and other businesses. Entire families and communities will be impoverished. Bread winners lucky enough to find work will be forced to work multiple jobs, commute longer distances, and suffer severe sleep deprivation.

Families will have to cope with more stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse. Nutrition and medical care will suffer. More people will have strokes and heart attacks. More will die. But the White House, EPA and other federal agencies studiously ignore these impacts. The only moral issue they want to talk about is alleged impacts from exaggerated and fabricated manmade climate change.

Two-thirds of Florida’s endangered manatees survive cold winters by huddling in warm waters that flow from coal-fired power plants. EPA’s plant closures could cause hundreds of them to die, while millions of birds and bats will be slaughtered every year by proliferating wind turbines.

Meanwhile, thousands of elderly people perish every winter from hypothermia, because they can no longer afford to heat their home properly, due to soaring electricity costs under Britain’s climate policies.

In poor countries, millions already die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, because of polluted air from open cooking fires, filthy water, spoiled food, substandard hospitals and squalid living conditions – because billions still do no have access to electricity. Imagine your life following hurricanes or other natural disasters that make electricity and safe water unavailable for a week or month. Then picture living that way for decades on end. White House, World Bank and OPIC policies will save people from “climate disasters” decades from now by killing them tomorrow. This they pass off as morality.

In the years since EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus banned DDT in 1972, tens of millions of Africans and Asians died from malaria. Now his daughter is promoting similarly deadly policies, as lead author for the National Climate Assessment, which hypes every exaggerated and imaginary climate scare imaginable. Other Big Green and Climate Crisis radicals oppose GMO crops and chemical fertilizers, and insist that starving, energy deprived families limit their living standards to what is dictated by climate activists and supported by wind, solar and biofuels. The death tolls continue to mount.

African Development Bank’s president Donald Kaberuka says poor nations will no longer tolerate these hypocritical, lethal policies. His bank will continue loaning money for coal-fired generating units. But in a perverse irony, the absence of World Bank and OPIC money means those projects will not have sufficient funding to install modern, readily available pollution controls. So millions of families will finally have electricity and won’t be sickened by wood and dung fires, but new pollutants will needlessly afflict them.

Japan is also financing coal-fired power plants in Japan, India and Bangladesh – often using Green Climate Fund money! It points out that these high-efficiency units burn coal with less pollution and fewer carbon dioxide emissions than older plants – and stresses the importance of helping impoverished countries get reliable, affordable electricity to create jobs, improve living standards and save lives.

China, India, Germany, Poland and other countries are also building coal-fueled power plants at a steady clip. And Russia says it will “comply” with any new treaty primarily by emphasizing CO2 reductions due to absorption by forests. At this rate, the United States will soon be the only nation that strangles its economy and imperils people’s health and welfare in the name of stopping climate change.

But the Obama Administration is imposing its authoritarian policies anyway – and justifying them by falsifying temperature data and ignoring the reality that: (1) rising carbon dioxide levels are improving crop and tree growth; (2) temperature, hurricane, sea ice and other trends contradict climate models and manmade disaster hysteria; and (3) any human influences on the climate are drowned out by the sun, deep ocean circulation patterns and other powerful natural forces. No wonder alarmists won’t debate skeptics.

Earth’s climate and weather will continue changing, because the forces driving them are always in flux. We simply have to adjust to them. But Obama prefers the Lewis Carroll approach to climate and morality.

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less,” Humpty Dumpty told Alice, “The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things,” Alice replied. No, Humpty responded. “The question is, who is to be master, that’s all.”

We the People must not let Obama & Co. be our master. Congress can and should refuse to ratify any climate treaty. It can and should defund these totalitarian initiatives. The next president can and should review and revoke every one. States can and should challenge them in court and refuse to knuckle under.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – J. Scott Armstrong: IPCC’s Violation of Forecasting Principles

Somewhat Reasonable - April 06, 2015, 3:38 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Enivironment and Climate News H. Sterling Burnett talks with J. Scott Armstrong. Armstrong is a professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Scott is a founder of the Journal of Forecasting, International Journal of Forecasting, and International Symposium on Forecasting. In this episode, Burnett and Armstrong discuss the principles of forecasting.

Armstrong’s work shows that climate alarmists, including the IPCC, violate more than 80 percent of observationally validated professional forecasting principles when making their predictions. For instance, they ignore or downplay evidence to the contrary and they ignore evidence and instead rely on models and “expert” opinion. Armstrong discussed a Washington Times piece that argued that rather than focusing on funding or ideology, when examining climate science research, as with all research, one should go back to the basics of science wherein the ability to replicate a study’s findings is the hallmark of whether the work is sound and accurate. Armstrong’s takeaway is science is self-correcting, the work stands or falls not based upon the motives of the researchers but rather upon whether is holds up to scrutiny, retesting and replication.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Sun and the Wind are Free, but Converting them to Reliable Electricity is Expensive, if not Impossible

Somewhat Reasonable - April 06, 2015, 1:23 PM

In an effort to get America off of fossil fuels, “free” solar and wind energy is often touted as the solution. However, in reality, the so-called free energy has high costs and does little to minimize fossil-fuel use or cut greenhouse gases.                                                                                                                                         Because solar-and-wind energy are not available 24/7—also frequently referenced as not “dispatchable”—incorporating them into the electricity portfolio requires back-up power to be available on demand. When the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, we still expect to have heating or air conditioning, cook our dinners, charge our phones, and use our computers. To do this, requires fossil fuels—typically natural gas “peaking plants,” but depending on what is available, it may be a coal-fueled power plant that is forced to operate inefficiently; releasing more CO2 than it would if allowed to operate as intended.  Think of it this way.  If you want to cook a hamburger, and you have a charcoal grill, you go outside about 30 minutes before you plan to cook.                                                                                                        You mound up the charcoal, sprinkle it with lighter fluid, and toss on a match.  When the coals are white on the edges, you know they are ready. You put your burger on the grill and cook it for five to eight minutes. Once you remove the burger, the coals are still hot for hours. Ultimately, they burn down to ashes and are cold enough that you can throw them into your plastic trash can, or into the forest. To restart it later in the same day is not efficient.                By comparison, if you are going to cook that same hamburger over natural gas, or propane, you go out five minutes before you plan to grill to heat up the elements. You cook your burger, and you turn it off.  No coals, no cool down needed.  Power plants function in a similar fashion.  A coal-fueled power plant cannot easily be turned on and off.                                                                                                                                                                                                    It works most efficiently—i.e. cleanly—when it burns continuously. Like the grill, you can add more coal throughout the process to keep the temperature up, which creates the steam that generates electricity.  But, with a natural-gas-fueled power plant, you can easily turn it on and off. So when the wind suddenly stops blowing—with no warning, the gas plant can quickly ramp up to generate the needed power.  As Germany, with the highest implementation of renewable energy of any country, found out, to maintain grid stability, it needs the coal- and natural-gas-fueled power plants. As a result of its policies that favor renewables, such as solar and wind, Germany has had to subsidize its fossil fueled power plants to keep them open.                                                      So, by adding solar and wind power, to the energy mix, we actually increase costs by paying for redundant power supplies—which ultimately, through rate increases, hurts the less fortunate who also have to cover the costs of the renewables.  In the cold weather of Albuquerque’s winter, I received a call from an “unemployed single mother living in an 800 square-foot apartment.” When I answered the phone, she dumped on me. She was angry. Her life circumstances meant she didn’t turn on her heat because she couldn’t afford it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   After stating her position, she ranted at me: “I just opened up my utility bill. I see that I am paying $1.63 a month for renewable energy.” She continued: “I don’t give a f#*! about renewable energy! Why do I have to pay for it?”  I tried to steer her attention away from the utility company and toward the Legislature that nearly a decade ago passed the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires increasing amounts of more expensive renewable energy. As a result, her rates went up, and she had no say in the matter—except that she may have voted for the legislators who approved the policy.   Recently, in Florida, the state NAACP chapter had an op-ed published that, essentially, said the same thing: renewable energy for some people, costs those who can least afford it.  It is not that renewable energy is bad. I have friends who live off the grid.                                                                                                                              They are cattle ranchers, who live in New Mexico’s Gila Forest. Were it not for their solar panels, they’d have no lights, no computers, no direct contact with the rest of the world. For them, solar panels on the roof—with a back-up system of car batteries—are their salvation. At a cost that worked for them, they were able to purchase used solar panels that someone else had discarded. They are grateful for their solar panels, but they have little option—and they know that; they accept it.  Without thinking of what works well in each situation, government has tried to apply a one-size-fits-all solution.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Based on a phony narrative of energy shortages and global warming, err, climate change, renewables have been sold as the panacea. While they may be the right choice in a few cases, such as my cattle ranching friends, or even in the oil fields—which are one of the single biggest industrial users of solar power, many individual locales may be better served by coal, or natural gas, even nuclear, than by renewable power. But the mandates, or the EPA, have not taken that into consideration.  In New Mexico, there are two coal-fueled power plants situated, virtually, at the mouth of the coal mine. The coal is extracted and sent straight to the power plants that generate most of New Mexico’s power and provide enough excess to sell to neighboring Arizona and California. But, EPA regulations require that these plants, now, with years of useful service left, be shut down. Some of the units will be converted to natural gas—something the region also has in abundance.                                                                                                                                                                                                        However, the natural gas has pipelines that can take it to the world markets; it is not stranded the in the San Juan Basin.  In contrast, the coal cannot conveniently leave the area—there is no rail to transport it. Looking at the specifics of the basin, it makes sense to continue to generate electricity from coal and allow the natural gas to benefit markets (perhaps even our allies) without other resources—but the EPA and its environmental advocates will hear nothing of it. Their ideology drives the policy whether it makes economic, or practical, sense or not.  Just try to bring truth or logic into the discussion and the crusaders will treat you as they have Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence.                                                                                                                                        Last month, I released a white paper: Solar power in the U.S. Using real-life data and news reports, we present the harsh realities of today’s solar market—which has reacted, not with facts, but by smearing me and the supposed funding of the organizations I lead. Apparently, when you have emotion and messaging on your side, you do not need to be impeded by facts—such as the sun and the wind are free, but converting them to electricity is expensive; converting them to reliable, albeit expensive, electricity is virtually impossible. Ah, but they never let the truth stand in the way of their feel-good story.

Categories: On the Blog

Al Sharpton: Republicans Has Climate Change

Somewhat Reasonable - April 06, 2015, 10:24 AM

The Rev. Al “Got Ya.” Or not.

God bless Al Sharpton. I mean this. God bless him. This video above—this service Sharpton has done us—is final proof, it seals all deals, dissolves all doubt, that global warming is purely political.

In the race for prominence in American political buffoonery, Sharpton lopes neck-and-neck with Joe “The Groper” Biden. Here’s Sharpton saying he’s no scientist, there’s Biden giving the pinch to the Secretary of Defense’s wife. There’s Big Al chanting Indiana’s religious freedom law is akin to slavery, here’s Little Joe saying Obama’s economic solution is “a three-letter word. Jobs. J–O–B–S. Jobs.”

These gentlemen are of great utility. Everybody knows that whatever they say about any political matter, the opposite is true. They are perfect negative barometers—and terrific comic relief. If either man announces his presidential candidacy, I’ll be there, supporting him. Can you imagine four years of “President Biden”? I can.

But then I have a refined and sophisticated sense of humor, married to a sense of inevitable doom over this country’s fate. I say, if you’re going to flame out as a nation, you may as well do it gloriously. No spectacle would be more sublime than Al Sharpton strutting down the White House steps to a chorus of Hail to the Chief.

There’s no chance for Sharpton, of course. Nor for Biden. Since our politics are now purely quota based, we need to fill the Leader-of-the-(not so)-free-world slot with a female. Insisting on a woman because (they claim) women are the same as men is one of the more delicious hilarities we’re about to hear repeated at daily intervals.

Clinton redux is therefore as near a guarantee as one can have in politics, and only to be lamented because regular stories of President Biden failing to corner female reporters in the Oval Office will be denied to us. We still have hopes with Bill, of course, but it won’t be the same.

Anyway, Sharpton. Is there anything worthy saying about the video? Not really. It would be like explaining a joke—well, it would be explaining a joke—which would have the effect of crushing the life out of the punch line.

So let it pass unmolested. Just know that there is now no reason, none whatsoever, to bother explaining climate science. Trying to show a progressive real science about failed climate models is like trying to explain to a progressive that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” means that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Either way, the words just bounce off his impenetrable Armor of Ideology.

Frustrating. Your only hope for sanity, therefore, is to enjoy the absurdity the best you can. So sit back, relax, grab a bucket of popcorn and know that, with politics, Al Sharpton has it down to a science. “We got you.”

Editor’s note: Learn the truth about Willie soon here.

[First published at William M. Briggs blog.]

Categories: On the Blog

Big Government, Foundations Undermine Scientific Integrity

Somewhat Reasonable - April 06, 2015, 9:53 AM

Democrats’ attempts to paralyze climate skeptics in academia, think tanks, and companies, using intimidating letters threatening a federal investigation into their funding connections, backfired. They opened a Pandora’s Box of questions concerning where climate alarmists get their money. Now Democrat Senators Barbara Boxer (CA), Ed Markey (MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Democrat Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva have egg on their faces.

Public-choice economics explains politicians and bureaucrats are as self-interested as anyone. They seek expanded authority and bigger budgets. Because the federal government and left-wing foundations provide the vast bulk of climate research funding, funding from these two sources certainly should undergo at least as much scrutiny as funding from private industry.

Nearly all university-based climate scientists are funded mainly by federal grants, and the ideological and political goals of those authorizing the grants could reasonably be expected to affect the kind of research universities and researchers undertake. The conflict between gaining research money and scientific integrity puts sound but nonconformist science at a crushing disadvantage.

Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University’s notorious ClimateGate email scandal figure, has garnered close to $6 million promoting scary scientific conclusions serving government’s goal of control over energy sources, $3.6 million of it from the National Science Foundation. Both PSU and the NSF conducted investigations absolving Mann of any wrongdoing in ClimateGate, but with the offending institutions effectively investigating one of their own, would anyone expect a different outcome?

Influence, Conflicts of Interest

Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer has written more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and testified before Congress on multiple occasions. He was the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior scientist (1981-2002) and remains as science advisor to the multimillion-dollar lobbying group (2013 assets: $208.7 million). EDF has received $2.8 million in federal grants since 2008, spent $11.3 million on lobbying, and has 55 people on 32 federal advisory committees.

Since 2008, EDF has received 3,332 grants from 600 foundations, totaling $544,487,562. EDF is deeply rooted in left-wing foundation agendas. Oppenheimer’s professorship is supported in part by private equity tycoon Carl Ferenbach’s High Meadows Foundation, which has given Princeton $6.5 million and the Environmental Defense Fund $6 million. Ferenbach is both EDF’s Chairman of the Board and a trustee of Princeton, suggesting a strong conflict of interest.

The proudly progressive Center for American Progress (CAP) has five people on federal advisory committees, spent $3.6 million on lobbying, and gave $312,400 to Democrat candidates in 2014. CAP Senior Fellow and Chief Science Advisor Joe Romm has testified before Congress on global warming and coauthored numerous peer-reviewed studies. Yet Romm failed to file conflict-of-interest disclosures for an article in Environmental Research Letters although the journal explicitly requires it.

Since 2004, CAP has been supported by left-wing foundations including Marilsa (Getty Oil fortune, $7 million), Rockefeller (Standard Oil fortune, $5 million), Sea Change (ties to Russian oil money laundering, $4.8 million), and 200 other left-wing foundations.

Government and foundation monies go only toward research advancing a pro-regulatory climate agenda. That is the greatest threat to the integrity of scientific research.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: Discrimination in Indiana – Private or Political?

Somewhat Reasonable - April 06, 2015, 9:10 AM

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.

Sen. Harry Reid Retires Amidst Green Energy Scandal
H. Sterling Burnett, Somewhat Reasonable
One scandal that could haunt Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) even after his retirement is the improper help he gave to the green energy company Ormat Technologies – a firm that owns and manages geothermal plants in California and Hawaii. Reid helped Ormat secure nearly $136 million in economic stimulus funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. READ MORE How Peer-to-Peer Businesses Give Consumers a Lyft
Jesse Hathaway for the Chicago Tribune
The rise of peer-to-peer services, such as Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb, represents a revolution in the power of free markets to empower consumers and service providers alike. More great innovations are ahead, as long as politicians and policymakers stay out of the way and stop protecting stagnant business models. READ MORE Discrimination in Indiana – Private or Political?
Richard Ebeling, Heartlander
“The path of using political power to try to bring about changes in social attitudes and actions is both morally wrong and often far too counter-productive. The road to liberty, equality, and tolerance runs through a respect for and defense of individual rights of freedom of association, not by way of collective punishment and group privilege.” READ MORE Featured Podcast: The Marketplace (un)Fairness Act
Host Jesse Hathaway talks with Andrew Moylan, executive director of the R Street Institute, about the recent reintroduction in Congress of the Marketplace Fairness Act. Moylan explains how the act isn’t very fair at all because it treats e-commerce customers differently, based on their physical location.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

Nevadans Deserve Better Options than Common Core
Joy Pullmann for the Las Vegas Review Journal
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, various teachers unions, and endless recipients of money from Bill Gates’ private foundation who cheer Common Core are cheering for cut-and-paste students. They are applauding and rewarding an education-to-workforce machine that is cheating the children of Nevada’s families out of a joyful and liberal education fit for free citizens. READ MORE Rick Perry Deserves Credit for Shrinking Texas’s Welfare Rolls
Justin Haskins and Logan Pike in Breitbart Texas
They say “everything is bigger in Texas,” but Texas’s welfare rolls are shrinking, and presidential hopeful and former governor Rick Perry (R) deserves a lot of the credit. When Perry first became governor of Texas in 2000, the number of people enrolled in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was well over 300,000. Since then, the number has declined to below 80,000, and a new study says key policy changes help explain why. READ MORE

 

Pulling the Plug on Renewable Energy
H. Sterling Burnett for the Washington Times
For 50 years, green-energy gurus in industry and the environmental movement have sold the snake oil that renewable power would soon be as cheap and reliable as coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas. The nation has been told the turning point has always been just around the corner. We never seem to get close to turning that corner. READ MORE Book Review: Bitcoin and the Age of Cryptocurrency
Jay Lehr, Heartlander
“Because the cryptocurrency system requires no bank and no government control it is truly disruptive, and multiple agencies described by the authors are already trying to block it or control it. An interesting outgrowth of this in the authors’ eyes is that bitcoin has attracted libertarian-leaning techies, and in some parts of the book it is clear that they themselves have a strong libertarian bent.” READ MORE Bonus Podcast: Leonie Haimson: Student Privacy Laws in the U.S.
School Reform News Managing Editor Heather Kays is joined by Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, to talk about the current state of student privacy laws in the U.S. Haimson expresses concern about the ability of parents to protect their children given the current laws on student privacy. LISTEN TO MORE Study: Los Angeles Fast-Food Ban Went Bust
Warner Todd Huston, Heartlander
“In 2008, the city of Los Angeles passed strict regulations on fast food restaurants in an effort to force citizens to adopt a better diet. But seven years later, the regulations have had no effect on either the diets or weight of area residents.”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

Alcoa Gets First Loan From Energy Dept. Program— But Doesn’t Need It

Somewhat Reasonable - April 04, 2015, 1:34 PM

stimulus-backed Department of Energy loan program that has not been tapped for four years, and was deemed unwanted two years ago by the Government Accountability Office, is suddenly ready and willing to dole out more taxpayer millions again – to a corporation that doesn’t need it.

In fact, Alcoa’s expansion project for which the funding is targeted – to produce special aluminum for automotive companies in Tennessee – has already been underway for 19 months and was first revealed almost two years ago.

DOE announced on Thursday that the renewed activity out of its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program will deliver a $259 million loan to the multinational conglomerate. The excuse for the financing – considering that ATVM’s purpose was to support production of alternative energy-powered automobiles – is to produce “high-strength” aluminum for automakers “looking to lightweight their vehicles.” Yes, they used “lightweight” as a verb, and claimed the funding would create an additional 200 factory jobs and 400 construction jobs in the process.

“The Department’s ATVM loan program can play an important role in helping to finance expanded domestic manufacturing of fuel-efficient technologies that will support the next generation of advanced vehicles and protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz, in photo.

The amount being loaned represents pocket change for the corporation that had $23 billion in revenues in fiscal year 2013 and ended the year with $35.7 billion in assets. And the purpose is (or was) to expand “one of the most modern aluminum fabricating facilities in the world.” But the company long ago announced its groundbreaking for the facility – at a cost of $275 million – in an August 2013 press release, citing the 200 factory/400 construction jobs expansion. So the DOE loan covers pretty much the entire cost.

“The…expansion will convert some of the plant’s can sheet capacity to high-strength automotive aluminum capacity,” Alcoa announced, “as well as install incremental automotive capacity, making it a key supplier to both the packaging and automotive markets.”

So the project is happening without need for the DOE loan. In fact, demand is so high for Alcoa’s automotive aluminum that it’s the secondsuch expansion of one of its plants for that purpose. The first was a $300-million revamp of its Davenport, Iowa facility. According to the company, “much of the volume for the automotive expansions is secured under long-term supply agreements.” In other words, justification for the added capacity at the two plants is guaranteed by promises from auto manufacturers that their aluminum will be bought.

It’s pretty audacious that DOE and Secretary Moniz would try to extract credit for a project that was already two years into development and construction. But even if the agency’s role in business expansion and job creation was legitimate, it makes no sense. A $259 million “investment” for 200 factory jobs and 400 temporary construction jobs works out to high-six figures per job; if you count just the “permanent” jobs produced, the taxpayer backing comes out to $1.2 million per job.

Ironically, the DOE announcement about its financing for Alcoa comes 19 months (like the Tennessee groundbreaking) after the agency said it would renew efforts to find new loan recipients in an “active outreach campaign.” The effort had to be revitalized because the ATVM program was in a moribund state, in part because of a lot of bad publicity.

The program’s highest profile failure was Fisker Automotive, which went belly-up after receiving $193 million in stimulus support. Another that went bankrupt, Vehicle Production Group, received a $50 million loan that wasn’t repaid. Nissan and Ford Motor Company received billions of dollars to spur electric vehicle production, but none of their models have taken off and none would be sustainable with massive subsidies. Tesla Motors – the one alleged “success” story from the program – paid back its $465 million ATVM loan and has plenty of stock market fanatics, but is far from profitable and is largely surviving on hype and other subsidies.

Back in March 2013, DOE had trouble finding takers for the remaining $16.5 billion that had been allocated to the ATVM program. According to a report produced by the Government Accountability Office that reviewed DOE’s loan programs, those who might otherwise be interested in the financial help cited things like bureaucratic red tape, reporting requirements, uncertainty about credit subsidy costs, lengthy review times, and the expenditure of time and resources for an uncertain outcome as obstacles. A number of smaller companies had been strung along by government loan administrators, who allegedly gave impressions that financing would be forthcoming if certain conditions were met, but never came through. But what stood out most – especially in the ATVM loan program – was that many electric vehicle entrepreneurs were deterred by bad publicity surrounding previous loans.

So for the last few years the ATVM money has sat dormant at DOE. Now all of a sudden Alcoa is ready to accept a small sum that only seems to serve the purpose of helping the agency justify the continuation of the program. The announcement happened to come just a day following a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in which Sen. Lisa Murkowski criticized the program.

Rather than show the funding for alternative energy vehicle projects is needed, the Alcoa financing further demonstrates that DOE is mismanaging the money. The ATVM program should be shut down immediately.

[Originally published at NLPC]

 

Categories: On the Blog

The $15 Billion Failure to Store Nuclear Waste

Somewhat Reasonable - April 04, 2015, 12:35 PM

“The American people have spent 30 years and $15 billion to determine whether Yucca Mountain would be a safe repository for our nation’s civilian and defense-related nuclear waste.” That’s a quote of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) reported in the April issue of The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News.

Compare that with the one year and 45 days it took to build the Empire State Building or the five years it took to build the Hoover Dam in the depths of the Great Depression. In the first half of the last century, Americans knew how to get things done, but the rise of environmentalism in the latter half, starting around the 1970s, has increased the cost and time of any construction anywhere in the U.S. In the case of Yucca Mountain it has raised issues about nuclear waste that is currently stored is less secure conditions.

As reported by CNS News in January, “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released the final two volumes of a five-volume safety report that concludes that Nevada’s Yucca Mountain meets all of its technical and safety requirements for the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste.” Five volumes!

So why the delay?  The NRC says the Department of Energy “‘has not met certain land and water rights requirements’ and that other environmental and regulatory hurdles remain.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial on March 30 asserted that It is not about environmental and regulatory hurdles. It is about a deal that Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader, cut with President Obama to keep Yucca Mountain from ever opening for use. In return, Reid blocked nearly all amendments to legislation to shield Obama from having to veto bills. He virtually nullified the Senate as a functioning element of our government.

“Since there is no permanent disposal facility, spent fuel from the nation’s nuclear reactors—‘enough to fill a football field 17 meters deep’ according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report—is currently being stored at dozens of above-ground sites. The GAO expects the amount of radioactive waste to double to 140,000 by 2055 when all of the currently operating nuclear reactors are retired.”

The United States where the development of nuclear fission and its use to generate electrical energy occurred is now well behind other nations that have built nuclear facilities and are adding new ones. As Donn Dear, an energy expert with Power For USA, points out “there are only four new nuclear power plants under construction, all by Toshiba-Westinghouse LLC. One other plant, Watts Bar 2, whose construction was held up for several years, is being completed by TVA.”

Meanwhile, as Dear notes, “South Korea is building four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates. The Russian company, Rosatom, is building power plants in Turkey, Belarus, Vietnam, and elsewhere. The China National Nuclear Corporation is scheduled to build over twenty nuclear power plants.”

These represent jobs and orders for equipment that are not occurring in the United States, along with the failure to utilize nuclear energy to provide the growing need for electricity here. The same environmental organizations opposing construction here are the same ones supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s attack on coal-fired electrical plants. The irony is, of course, that nuclear plants do not produce carbon dioxide emissions that the Greens blame for the non-existent “global warming”, not called “climate change.”

A cynical and false propaganda campaign has been waged against nuclear energy in the U.S., mostly notably with the Hollywood film, “The China Syndrome” about a reactor meltdown. If you want to worry about radiation, worry about the Sun. It is a major source. Three incidents, Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, added to the fears, but no one was harmed by the Three Mile Island event and Chernobyl was an avoidable accident.

More recent was the March 11, 2011 shutdown of the Fukushima reactor in Japan as the result of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Three of its cores melted in the first three days, but there have been no deaths or radiation sickness attributed to this event. That’s the part you’re not told about.  In the end, all it takes is one ignorant President to set progress back for decades. In this case it was President Jimmy Carter for not allowing reprocessing of nuclear waste, a standard practice in France where only one-fifth of spent fuel requires storage. In the 1980s there were three U.S. corporations leading the way on the introduction and use of nuclear energy to produce electrical power; General Electric, Westinghouse Electric, and Babcock & Wilcox. Today only Babcock-Wilcox continues as a fully owned American company.

Thanks to President Obama, we have lost another six years on the Yucca Mountain project. That fits with his refusal to permit the Keystone XL pipeline. No energy project that might actually benefit America will ever see his signature.

Some are arguing that America is a nation in decline and they can surely point to the near destruction of our nuclear energy industry as one example. That decline can begin to end in 2017 with the inauguration of a new President.

Categories: On the Blog

40 Years of Media Hype for Climate Alarmists

Somewhat Reasonable - April 04, 2015, 12:32 AM

Heartland friend Julia Seymour at the Media Resource Center reminds us that the “experts” the media relies upon to tell us what is happening to our climate — and why it is happening — are not to be taken as the Word of God. That is what Walter Cronkite was considered in the 70s and 80s, and he was also wrong — or purposefully grabbing whatever he needed to grab in order to perpetuate the idea that your “betters” should plan your life.

In a great post at the MRC site, Seymour notes that the stone tablets brought down from the priests of climatology in the 70s have since been ground to sand — as will those of today’s climate alarmists.

A while after the report below, the “coming Ice Age” was replaced by “run-away global warming,” which was then replaced by “catastrophic man-caused climate change,” “global weirding,” and other nonsense. None of the actual science has borne this out, mind you. But the media, and the world’s governments, must continue to perpetuate the notion that humans need to be strictly controlled, lest the earth be destroyed. Funny how that is always the default position after government-approved “scientists” weigh in.

Seymour writes:

Some climate alarmists are already trying to play up legendary journalist Walter Cronkite’s April 3, 1980, coverage of “global warming” and the “greenhouse effect.” But what they will almost certainly ignore is that only a few years earlier Cronkite and fellow journalists were warning about a “new ice age.”

The media have been susceptible to climate change alarmism for more than 100 years, but it wasn’t always about warming. In the 1970s journalists were chilled to the bone and found arguments for a coming ice age “pretty convincing.”

Like Cronkite, “the most trusted man” in news, reporter and commentator Howard K. Smith also brought up the threat of a new ice age. Smith did so repeatedly.

“Warm periods like ours last only 10,000 years, but ours has already lasted 12,000. So if the rhythm is right, we are over-ready for a return of the ice,” Smith said in his comment on the January 18, 1977, ABC evening newscast.

He cited “experts like Reid Bryson” who based their worries on “cooler temperature readings in the Great Plains” and elsewhere and the “retreat of the heat-loving Armadillo from Nebraska to the southwest and to Mexico.” Bryson argued the return to an ice age had begun in 1945.

Read Seymour’s whole post. Watch the video below, and share liberally — especially among your liberal friends.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Devon Herrick: 5th Anniversary of Obamacare

Somewhat Reasonable - April 03, 2015, 4:01 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Health Care News Sean Parnell speaks with Devon Herrick. Herrick, a senior fellow in health care policy at the National Center for Policy Analysis, discusses the fifth anniversary of Obamacare and what the touted drop in the number of uninsured really means.

Herrick and Parnell also discuss what Medicaid block grants could do to help bring innovation into the troubled program. Also discussed is the so-called ‘Doc Fix’ in Medicare and what it could mean for doctors and patients.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Hillary Clinton’s Wiped Server: Democrats Love Truth and Transparency and Loathe Cronyism

Somewhat Reasonable - April 03, 2015, 3:14 PM

I think at this point in our collective national existence, “Trust me, I’m a Clinton” isn’t the best defense of one’s actions.

We won’t even get into prospective First Laddie Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton is the woman (well, a woman) who blamed the Benghazi, Libya murder of four Americans on an Internet video. She claimed to have come under sniper fire in Bosnia. She claimed to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary. Her long list of lies is legendary.

Mrs. Clinton has an equally troublesome history with transparency. The 900+ FBI files. The Rose Law Firm records. Her then chief of staff shuttling boxes and boxes of documents out of the late Vince Foster’s Justice Department office. And on, and on, and….

And cronyism?

NY Times: Clinton Foundation Rife with Cronyism

Grassley Asks Weiner’s Wife About Clinton Consulting Gigs

Hillary Clinton and Brother Part of Corruption Probe by DHS Inspector General

Inspector General (IG) John Roth described the improper favoritism shown to several Democrats including the brother of Hillary Clinton, Sen. Harry Reid, and Virginian Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman during the Clinton administration.

Hillary Clinton’s Brother Granted Super-Rare Mining Permit from Haiti After State Dept. Sent Country Billions

Clinton In-Law Got Fees Tied to Pardon

Cozy. Now it has been revealed that she never, ever set up a government email account.

Her alleged reason? “I didn’t want to carry two devices” – which we now know is a lie.

Her alleged self-defense? “Trust me – I alone decided which emails were pertinent. Oh – and I deleted everything else.” When “everything else” was under Congressional subpoena.

Feel comfortable trusting her? Think this is a lifetime’s worth of truth and transparency? Me neither.

In this regard, Mrs. Clinton fit right in with the Barack Obama Administration. On truth:

Lie of the Year: ‘If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It’

Lawmaker: Obama Should Win ‘Lie of the Year’ Again for Claiming No Corruption at IRS

White House Knew ObamaCare Claims Were False

The Washington Post Confirms Obama Is Lying About Benghazi

Top Obama Aide: President Lied About Opposing ‘Gay Marriage’ to Deceive Blacks, Get Elected

And transparency:

Federal Agencies Stiff-Arm FOIA Requests

Obama Administration Sets New Record for Poor Handling of FOIA Requests

Obama Exempts White House From FOIA Requests

Obama Admin’s New Spending Website Rolls Back Transparency

Obama Transparency: White House Sets Record For Censoring Documents

Obama Pledged Government “Transparency” But Threatens Investigative Reporters

Obama Threatens To Veto Bill Mandating Security And Transparency For ObamaCare Exchanges

‘Most Transparent Administration’ Ever Threatens to Veto EPA Transparency Bills

And in moments of harmonic convergence – truth about transparency.

Obama: ‘This Will Be/Is the Most Transparent Administration In History’

Obama Promised to Debate Health Care on C-Span

Despite Promises, Obama’s Open Government Record Found Wanting

And cronyism.

Obama’s Cronyism on Display in the State of the Union

Cronyism and ObamaCare: Another Challenge for Reformers

80% of Green Energy Dollars Went to Obama Donors

Obama’s Manufacturing Hubs Mean Cronyism, Corporate Welfare And Less Innovation

The FCC Delivers the Latest Dose of Obama Cronyism

Barack Obama and Google – Crony Socialism on Steroids

Is this ceaseless dearth of truth, transparency and fair play exclusive to Administration Democrats? Of course not.

(Senate Democrat Leader) Harry Reid Is Proud He Lied About Mitt Romney’s Taxes

Harry Reid Vows Federal Transparency Act Will Never Be Voted on in the Senate

Cronyism is Killing the Democrats

Is this ceaseless dearth exclusive to federal Democrats? Of course not.

Let’s look at Oregon, their attempt at ObamaCare and their disgraced, under-investigation, resigned-from-office ex-Democrat Governor John Kitzhaber, shall we?

Have some Oregon Democrat cronyism.

Oregon Governor Quits Over Conflict-of-Interest Scandal

Ex-Gov John Kitzhaber Put His Top Political Consultant in Charge of Cover Oregon

How’d that Kitzhaber crony do running the show?

$303 Million Later, Oregon Looks to Close Health Exchange

‘We Look Like Fools:’ A History of Cover Oregon’s Failure

Cover Oregon ‘Unmatched in Its Failure’

Oregon Health Care Exchange Has Yet To Enroll A Single Person

Not so good. How about a little Oregon Democrat truth-transparency combo?

Dishonesty, Lies Exposed; ObamaCare, Kitzhaber

Gov. Denies Prior Knowledge of Cover Oregon Failure, Exits Exclusive KATU Interview

Watch Governor John Kitzhaber Refuse Question Regarding Cover Oregon Corruption

Cover Oregon Ejects Reporters from Closed-Door Meeting with Legislators

Want some more Oregon Democrat transparency?

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

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

(W)orkers recognized who they were dealing with and apparently decided the dumping might be of interest to law enforcement. Kitzhaber and Hayes are targets of a federal investigation.

Positively translucent. And of course this is as much a federal government problem as it is an Oregon one.

New Cover Oregon Allegations: ‘If It’s True, Someone’s Going to Prison’

Early in its life, Cover Oregon was given a $48 million “early innovator” grant from the federal government. That amount would later grow to $59 million.

There were a few strings attached.

To keep the money flowing, the website would have to hit specific benchmarks between 2011 and 2013. The state needed to show the feds it had picked a company to provide software and technical assistance; it had to demonstrate that the website was safe from hackers; and, most importantly, it had to show that people could actually sign up for insurance on the website.

Either the Obama Administration dropped the ball over and over and over again – or it simply allowed a fellow Democrat to run wild with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Thankfully, not everyone in Washington is quite so comfortable with this.

Subpoenas Arrive as Oregon Governor Announces Departure

Congress to Kitzhaber: Send Us Cover Oregon Records

Unfortunately, this is likely made more than a little problematic by Kitzhaber’s little trip to the landfill – the old school version of Mrs. Clinton wiping clean her email server.

Regardless, the investigations must press forward. Of Mrs. Clinton – and both ObamaCare messes. In Oregon and D.C.

Truth, transparency and anti-cronyism are all being eviscerated. And like all political fish – this one is rotting from the head of state.

Start with the Obama Administration – and work your way down.

[Originally published at Human Events]

 

Categories: On the Blog
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