On the Blog

EPA Declares War on Air Conditioning

Somewhat Reasonable - November 05, 2015, 2:51 PM

Months ago, Pope Francis made headlines for his criticism of air conditioning as an environmental menace, despite evidence that air conditioning has been a significant factor in helping elderly and poor Europeans survive brutally hot summers in recent history. Little did we know, then, that only the first volley had been lobbed in the “war on air conditioners.”

This week, EPA chief Gina McCartney declared that she would be the vanguard in the global fight against the menace of global artificial cooling systems, vowing to put an end to hydro-fluorocarbon-emitting air conditioners here and abroad as part of President Obama’s expansive plan to combat man-made “climate change.” Her efforts will begin in Paris at the UN conference on climate change set to take place in just under a month.

From the Daily Caller:

EPA Chief Gina McCarthy wants the world to stop using hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioners and other consumers products as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight global warming.

McCarthy is so determined to make this happen, she’s taking the lead role at an ongoing United Nations summit to expand the current global treaty covering ozone-depleting substances. The EPA chief hopes that her agency’s recent HFC regulations will convince other countries to join the U.S. in limiting the chemicals.

“Because of the importance of taking aggressive action on these chemicals to achieve global climate goals, I will be leading the United States delegation at that meeting,” McCarthy wrote in an oped for The Guardian.

McCarthy’s solution? She wants to replace the coolant systems in today’s air conditioners with more “environmentally friendly” options, but not as a result of market driven technologies, but through the EPA’s use of force. Along with the Department of Energy and other Administration offices, McCarthy has called on at least 20 companies to pledge allegiance to a new “HFC rule” forcing companies to produce lower-emissions air conditioning systems in the near future.

But McCarthy is already behind the market curve, if she’s actually concerned about air conditioning efficiency and not massive governmental regulation of a fairly open industry. Carrier, among others, have debuted large-scale refrigeration systems that are less dependent on what the EPA considers “harmful chemicals,” (and even recycle CO2 that’s been emitted into the atmosphere), simply because the market demanded more efficient, larger systems. Carrier is even looking into expanding their technology to refrigerated trucks. Wi-Fi and programmable thermostats are also helping to ease the air conditioning burden, but those are borne out of a need for cost-cutting solutions and individualized efficiency control, something Americans demand of nearly every appliance in their homes. In the first world, air conditioning is adapting with technological and personal need, and quickly.

Where HFCs seem to really aggregate is in the third world, but that’s where artificial cooling systems are most desperately needed. So, if McCarthy is interested in a global “response” the danger of HFC-emitting cooling systems, she’s going to have a disparate impact on the poorest among us, something most environmental activists fail to take into account when proposing such sweeping “solutions” to man’s impact on nature.

Even stranger, according to scientists, HFCs have little to no effect on the ozone layer, and have no recorded impact on ozone depletion. In fact, hey aren’t even part of the Montreal agreements McCarthy references. The most concerning aspect of air conditioner use, according to the National Geographic Society, is the electricity used to power them, a problem that isn’t solved by changing the chemicals air conditioners emit into the atmosphere. And even then, the “concern” is rather small. According to the Global Warming Action Committee, for an average New England home, which faces a number of seasons, the carbon footprint of air conditioning is 838 pounds per year. The President emitted 375.5 tons of carbon on his Earth Day travels alone.

Perhaps McCarthy could rethink her approach to HFCs and help the President to simply scale back on his air travel – a solution that would have an incredible impact on exactly the sort of carbon-emitting practices she’s so concerned about.


Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Veronique de Rugy: Dissecting the Trillion Dollar Budget “Deal”

Somewhat Reasonable - November 05, 2015, 2:42 PM

In this episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, managing editor Jesse Hathaway and Mercatus Center senior research fellow Veronique de Rugy pick through the fallout of the two-year $1 trillion budget “deal” between President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders.

Although “bipartisan” might sound like a good thing, de Rugy warns that this budget deal is really a surrender and return to the old ways of out-of-control spending. Spending hikes are offset by $98 billion—with a b, 9 zeros—in savings scheduled to happen in 2025, but de Rugy explains why those offsets are accounting gimmicks obscuring just how bad the “deal” is for American taxpayers.

Although the budget is mostly bad news, de Rugy points out some of the small silver linings in the budget, like enhanced anti-fraud measures and radio spectrum sales, that she says have been long overdue for implementation.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Feds Unnecessarily Interfere with Energy Markets Again

Somewhat Reasonable - November 04, 2015, 6:15 PM

Hydroelectric powerplant

Unlike most, I applaud a “do nothing” Congress, though in truth I’d prefer a Congress that “undid much.” I’d really like a do nothing, or “do only what the Constitution actually empowers  and limits you to do,” President. Still power hungry politicians and special interests being what they are, I’m hardly surprised (though surprisingly continue to be disappointed) when government interventions in the market supposedly intended to help the public and consumers actually create worse problems than the problem they were meant to solve.

I bring this up because Senators Lisa Murkowski (R–AK) and Maria Cantwell (D–WA) have introduced the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. Billed as a bipartisan effort to promote energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, and land conservation, as described in an insightful Backgrounder by Nicolas Loris of the Heritage Foundation, the legislation is a continuation of government meddling in the energy economy.

As most laws do, the Act wastes taxpayer resources, override consumers’ preferences, subsidize politically connected business interests promoting politically preferred technologies — meaning technologies that can compete on their own in the marketplace–, and payoff special interests.

Among the sops to businesses contained in the bill are provisions to provide taxpayer financed grants for improved manufacturing efficiency and industrial processes and a rebate program for businesses purchasing electric motors and transformers.  As Loris notes:

Through the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Manufacturing Office, taxpayers have already provided tens of millions of dollars to automotive and chemical companies that have huge market capitalizations and, in some cases, spend more than a billion dollars on research and development.

If manufacturers believe purchasing more efficient electric motors or transformers will help them lower costs and gain a competitive edge, companies will not need taxpayer-funded rebates to make the investments. They will make these investments (as with all efficiency investments) for one (or both) of two reasons: if they believe these energy-saving technologies are worth the risk and represent the best use of their investment dollars, or if they believe this investment will drive increased business by promoting their company’s image.

The bill also continues the government policy of throwing good money after bad on highly subsidized, but still not ready for prime time, energy sources. For instance, it provides incentives for hydroelectric production (a mature energy technology if ever there was one) and biopower and for “research demonstration projects for geothermal energy and hydrokinetic energy.”

As Loris rightly points out:

None of these activities is the role of the federal government. They are activities that do not need to involve the federal government, an entity not particularly good at picking industry winners and losers or at planning for future workforces. Not only do these spending initiatives waste money, they distort the market by dictating where investments flow, taking labor and capital away from potentially more promising endeavors.

I recommend Heartland readers to read Loris’ review of this bipartisan nightmare, and recommend to Congress that a better energy policy would be to eliminate all energy subsidies, reduce  regulatory barriers to technological innovations in the marketplace, and once and for all cease its foolish, unnecessary, costly and arguably unconstitutional interventions in energy markets.

Categories: On the Blog

War, Big Government, and Lost Freedom

Somewhat Reasonable - November 04, 2015, 5:57 PM

We are currently marking the hundredth anniversary of the fighting of the First World War. For four years between the summer of 1914 and November 11, 1918, the major world powers were in mortal combat with each other. The conflict radically changed the world. It overthrew the pre-1914 era of relatively limited government and free market economics, and ushered in a new epoch of big government, planned economies, and massive inflations, the full effects from which the world has still not recovered.

All the leading countries of Europe were drawn into the war. It began when the archduke of Austria- Hungary, Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Sophia, were assassinated in Bosnia in June 1914. The Austro-Hungarian government claimed that the Bosnian-Serb assassin had the clandestine support of the Serbian government, which the government in Belgrade denied.

How a Terrible War Began and Played Out

Ultimatums and counter-ultimatums soon set in motion a series of European military alliances among the Great Powers. In late July and early August, the now-warring parties issued formal declarations of war. Imperial Germany, the Turkish Empire, and Bulgaria supported Austria-Hungary. Imperial Russia supported Serbia, which soon brought in France and Great Britain because these countries were aligned with the czarist government in St. Petersburg. Italy entered the war in 1915 on the side of the British and the French.

The United States joined the conflict in April 1917, a month after the abdication of the Russian czar and the establishment of a democratic government in Russia. But this first attempt at Russian democracy was overthrown in November 1917, when Vladimir Lenin led a communist coup d’état; Lenin’s revolutionary government then signed a separate peace with Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary in March 1918, taking Russia out of the war.

The arrival of large numbers of American soldiers in France in the summer of 1918, however, turned the balance of forces against Germany on the Western Front. After having been driven out of the French territory they had occupied since the first year of the war, the Germans agreed to the armistice on November 11, 1918 that ended what was already called the Great War – the “War to End All Wars” as it was falsely believed.

The Human and Material Costs of War

The human and material cost of the First World War was immense. During the conflict more than 60 million men were called up to fight. At least 20 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives, with an equal number wounded.

The participating governments combined spent more than $145.9 billion in fighting each other. In 2015 dollars, this represents a monetary expenditure of more than $3.8 trillion. (As a point of comparison, what the belligerent powers spent, in total, fighting each other in the four years of World War I, the U.S government almost spent, alone, in fiscal year 2015 – $3.6 trillion!)

These numbers, of course, do not capture the human suffering from the four years of war. On the Western Front, which ran through northern France from the English Channel to the Swiss border, millions of soldiers lived endless months – years – in frontline trench warfare. They fought in the heat of the summer and the cold of winter, often with the decomposing bodies of their fallen comrades next to them for days on end.

They fought in battles such as the one for the French town of Verdun in which hundreds of thousands of men were killed during human wave attacks in attempts to capture enemy positions. Soldiers were mowed down by machine guns or crushed under the treads of that new machine of war, the tank.

The airplane entered modern warfare for the first time, raining down bombs on both military and civilian targets. And both sides introduced the use of poison mustard gas that blinded the eyes, blistered the lungs, and brought agonizing death.

War and the End of Limited Government Liberalism

The First World War also brought about the end of the (classical) liberal epoch in modern Western civilization. For most of the 100 years before 1914, the Western world had moved in the direction of greater individual freedom and wider economic liberty.

All-powerful kings were replaced with representative democratic government or constitutionally limited monarchy. Expanding civil liberty brought about a more impartial equality before the law and the end of human slavery.

The older eighteenth century mercantilist system of economic planning and control by government was ended. In its place, arose domestic free enterprise and widening global freedom of trade. The standard of living of tens of millions in the West began to dramatically rise above subsistence and starvation for the first time in human history, while at the same time population sizes grew exponentially.

War may not have been abolished in the nineteenth century, but new international “rules of war” meant that they were less frequent, of shorter duration, and when among the Great Powers, at least, often involved fewer deaths and greater respect for civilian life and property.

(The American Civil War in the 1860s was the one major exception with more than 650,000 deaths and massive destruction in the Southern states.)

Wars and armament races, many argued at the time, had become too costly and destructive among “civilized” nations. A universal epoch of international peace was hoped for when the new century dawned in 1900.

But in 1914, the First World War shattered the long liberal peace that had more or less prevailed in Europe since the last world war that ended with the defeat of Napoleon’s France in 1815. But even before 1914, there were emerging anti-liberal forces that were moving the world toward greater government control and a renewal of international conflict. (See my article, “Before Modern Collectivism: The Rise and Fall of Classical Liberalism.”)

The Rise of Nationalism and Socialism

Early in the nineteenth century, the ideology of nationalism became a new rallying cry for peoples throughout Europe and increasingly around the world. If liberalism had espoused peaceful market exchange and the freedom of individuals under the rule of law, nationalism called for the forced unification under one government of all peoples speaking the same language or sharing the same culture or ethnicity. National collectivism was considered a higher ideal than respect for the liberty of the individuals comprising communities and nations.

In the middle of the nineteeth century, another form of collectivism started to gain popularity and support: socialism. Karl Marx and other socialists argued that capitalism was the root of all social evil, causing poverty and resulting in exploitation of the masses for the benefit of those who privately owned the means of production. Socialists called for the nationalization of the means of production, central planning of all economic activity, and the curtailing of individual freedom for the sake of the collective good.

War and the Planned Society

Imperialist designs by the Great Powers in conjunction with the new ideological forces of rising nationalism and socialism all came together in the caldron of conflict that enveloped so much of the world after 1914.

Immediately with the outbreak of hostilities, the liberal system of individual liberty, private property, free enterprise, free trade, limited government, low taxes, and sound money was thrown to the wind.

The epoch of political and economic collectivism had begun. Civil liberties were rapidly curtailed in all the belligerent nations, with laws restricting freedom of speech and the press. Opponents of war were silenced with long prison sentences for “anti-patriotic” behavior. Industry and agriculture were soon placed under increasingly strict price and wage controls.

Governments imposed wartime planning boards that directed the economic activities of all. They raised taxes to heights never experienced even under the most plundering hands of absolute monarchs of the past. Governments also ended international free trade, and introduced rigid regulations over all imports and exports.

The nineteenth century freedom of movement under which people in the West could travel from one nation to another without passport or visa was abolished; a new era of immigration and emigration barriers began. The individual was now completely under the control and command of the state.

With this came a new governmental responsibility: direct caring for the economic welfare of the citizenry. German free-market economist Gustav Stolper explained:

“Just as the [First World] War for the first time in history established the principle of universal military service, so for the first time in history it brought economic national life in all its branches and activities to the support and service of state politics – made it effectively subordinate to the state. . . . Not supply and demand, but the dictatorial fiat of the state determined economic relationships – production, consumption, wages, and cost of living   . . .

“At the same time, and for the first time, the state made itself responsible for the physical welfare of its citizens; it guaranteed food and clothing, not only to the army in the field but to the civilian population as well . . .

“Here is a fact pregnant with meaning: the state became for a time the absolute ruler of our economic life, and while subordinating the entire economic organization to its military purposes, also made itself responsible for the welfare of the humblest of its citizens, guaranteeing him a minimum of food, clothing, heating, and housing.”

Gold as Money in the Prewar Liberal World

Along with these losses of personal civil and economic freedom came yet another abridgement of the liberal system of government: the abolition of the gold standard. During the 25 years of war between France and Great Britain following the French Revolution of 1789, both governments had resorted to the money printing press to finance their war expenditures. As a result, inflation had eaten away at the wealth and security of the British and French citizenry.

When those wars ended in 1815, the lesson learned was that governments could not be trusted with direct control over the creation of money. The liberal monetary goal was the reestablishment of the gold standard, so the amount of money in society was independent of political manipulation.

Better to rely upon the market forces of supply and demand and the profitability of gold mining, the classical liberals argued, than the caprice of politicians and special interest groups desiring to print the paper money they wanted to use to plunder the peaceful production of the mass of humanity.

Through the decades of the nineteenth century, first Great Britain and then the rest of the Western nations legally established the gold standard as the basis of their monetary systems. The gold standard was mostly managed by national central banks, and thus not truly free market monetary systems.

But central banks were expected to, and for the most part did, abide by the monetary “rules of the game” of limiting increases (or decreases) in the domestic currency to additions to (or reductions in) the nation’s supply of gold. Sound money for the nineteenth century liberals was gold money.

Paper Money and Inflation Finances the War

But with the firing of the first shots in the summer of 1914, the belligerent governments all ended legal redemption of their currencies for fixed amounts of gold. The citizens in these warring counties were pressured or compelled to hand over to their respective governments the gold in their private hands, in exchange for paper money.

Almost immediately, the monetary printing presses were set to work creating the vast financial means needed to fight an increasingly expensive war.

In 1913, the British money supply amounted to 28.7 billion pounds sterling. But soon, as British economist, Edwin Cannan, expressed it, the country was suffering from a “diarrhea of pounds.” When the war ended in 1918, Great Britain’s money supply had almost doubled to 54.8 billion pounds, and continued to increase for three more years of peacetime until it reached 127.3 billion pounds in 1921, a fivefold increase from its level eight years earlier.

The French money supply had been 5.7 billion francs in 1913. By war’s end in 1918, it had increased to 27.5 billion francs. In this case, a fivefold increase in a mere five years. By 1920, the French money supply stood at 38.2 billion francs. The Italian money supply had been 1.6 billion lire in 1913 and increased to 7.7 billion lire, for a more than fourfold increase, and stood at 14.2 billion lire in 1921.

In addition, these countries took on huge amounts of debt to finance their war efforts. Great Britain had a national debt of 717 million pounds in 1913. At the end of the war that debt had increased to 5.9 billion pounds, and rose to 7.8 billion pounds by 1920.

French national debt increased from 32.9 billion francs before the war to 124 billion francs in 1918 and 240 billion francs in 1920. Italy was no better, with a national debt of 15.1 billion lire in 1913 that rose to 60.2 billion lire in 1918 and climbed to 92.8 billion in 1921.

Though the United States had only participated in the last year and a half of the war, it too created a large increase in its money supply to fund government expenditures that rose from $1.3 billion in 1916 to $15.6 billion in 1918. The U.S. money supply grew 70 percent during this period from $20.7 billion in 1916 to 35.1 billion in 1918.

Twenty-two percent of America’s war costs were covered by taxation, about 25 percent from printing money, and the remainder of 53 percent by borrowing.

The German Ideology of Power for War

The most severe inflations during World War I occurred in Central and Eastern Europe. Among the worst of these were the one in Germany during and then after the war, with the near total collapse of the German currency in 1922 and 1923.

For decades before the start of the war, German nationalist and imperialist ambitions were directed to military and territorial expansion. A large number of German social scientists known as members of the Historical School had been preaching the heroism of war and the superiority of the German people who deserved to rule over other nationalities in Europe.

Hans Kohn, one of the twentieth century’s leading scholars on the history and meaning of nationalism, explained the thinking of leading figures of the Historical School, who were also known as “the socialists of the chair” in reference to their prominent positions at leading German universities. He wrote:

“The ‘socialists of the chair’ desired a benevolent paternal socialism to strengthen Germany’s national unity. Their leaders, Adolf Wagner and Gustav von Schmoller, [who were Heinrich von] Treitschke’s colleagues at the University of Berlin and equally influential in molding public opinion, shared Treitschke’s faith in the German power state and its foundations. They regarded the struggle against English and French political and economic liberalism as the German mission, and wished to substitute the superior and more ethical German way for the individualistic economics of the West . . . In view of the apparent decay of the Western world through liberalism and individualism, only the German mind with its deeper insight and its higher morality could regenerate the world.”

These German advocates of war and conquest also believed that Germany’s monetary system had to be subservient to the wider national interests of the state and its imperial ambitions. Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises met frequently with members of the Historical School at German academic gatherings in the years before World War I. He recalled:

“The monetary system, they said, is not an end in itself. Its purpose is to serve the state and the people. Financial preparations for war must continue to be the ultimate and highest goal of monetary policy, as of all policy. How could the state conduct war, after all, if every self- interested citizen retained the right to demand redemption of banknotes in gold? It would be blindness not to recognize that only full preparedness for war [could further the higher ends of the state].”

Germany’s Great Inflation began with the government’s turning to the printing press to finance its war expenditures. Almost immediately after the start of World War I, on July 29, 1914, the German government suspended all gold redemption for the mark. Less than a week later, on August 4, the German Parliament passed a series of laws establishing the government’s ability to issue a variety of war bonds that the Reichsbank – the German central bank – would be obliged to finance by printing new money.

The government created a new set of Loan Banks to fund private sector borrowing, as well as state and municipal government borrowing, with the money for the loans simply being created by theReichsbank.

During the four years of war, from 1914 to 1918, the total quantity of paper money created for government and private spending went from 2.37 billion to 33.11 billion marks. By an index of wholesale prices (with 1913 equal to 100), prices had increased more than 245 percent (prices failed to increase far more because of wartime price and wage controls). In 1914, 4.21 marks traded for $1 on the foreign exchange market. By the end of 1918, the mark had fallen to 8.28 to the dollar.

Germany’s Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Mark

But the worst was to come in the five years following the end of the war. Between 1919 and the end of 1922, the supply of paper money in Germany increased from 50.15 billion to 1,310.69 billion marks. Then in 1923 alone, the money supply increased to a total of 518,538,326,350 billion marks.

By the end of 1922, the wholesale price index had increased to 10,100 (still using 1913 as a base of 100). When the inflation ended in November 1923, this index had increased to 750,000,000,000,000. The foreign exchange rate of the mark decreased to 191.93 to the dollar at the end of 1919, to 7,589.27 to the dollar in 1922, and then finally on November 15, 1923, to 4,200,000,000,000 marks for the dollar.

During the last months of the Great Inflation, according to Gustav Stolper, “more than 30 paper mills worked at top speed and capacity to deliver notepaper to the Reichsbank, and 150 printing firms had 2,000 presses running day and night to print the Reichsbank notes.” In the last year of the hyperinflation, the government was printing money so fast and in such frequently larger and larger denominations that to save time, money, and ink, the bank notes were being produced with printing on only one side.

Finally, facing a total economic collapse and mounting social disorder, the German government in Berlin appointed the prominent German banker, Halmar Schacht, as head of the Reichsbank. He publicly declared in November 1923 that the inflation would be brought to an end and a new non-inflationary currency backed by gold would be issued. The printing presses were brought to a halt, and the hyperinflation was stopped just as the country stood at the monetary and social precipice of total disaster.

The Legacies of Tyranny, Paternalism and Lost Freedom

But the deaths, destruction, and disruptions of the First World War and its immediate aftermath were never fully recovered from. In 1922, Mussolini and his Fascist Party came to power in Italy. In 1933, Hitler’s Nazi movement took power in Germany in the midst of the Great Depression.

In the United States, also in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal ushered in the arrival of America’s version, at first, of a fascist-type planned economy, with a growing concentration of political control and economic paternalism in the form of the modern interventionist-welfare state in the postwar period that followed a worse and far more destructive and mass murdering Second World War. (See my article, “When the Supreme Court Stopped Economic Fascism in America.”)

Out of this second “war to end all wars,” came America’s role as global policeman and international social engineer during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. But even the post-Cold War era after the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 has seen part of the legacy of World War I in international affairs.

The wars and “ethnic cleansings” experienced in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and at least part of the causes behind the current conflicts in the Middle East are outgrowths of the post-World War I peace settlements imposed by the victorious Allied powers.

But most importantly, I would suggest, is the lasting legacy out of the First World War that has been the rationales and implementations of paternalist Big Government in the Western world, with its diminished recognition and respect for individual liberty, free association, freedom of competitive trade and exchange, reduced civil liberties and weakened impartial rule of law.

From this has followed the regulating and redistributing State, which includes political control and manipulation of the monetary and banking systems to serve those in governmental power and others who feed at the trough of governmental largess.

It is a legacy that will likely take another century to completely overcome and reverse, if we are able to devise a strategy for restoring the idea and ideal of a society of liberty.

[Originally published at Epic Times]


Categories: On the Blog

The March to Paris Has Begun

Somewhat Reasonable - November 04, 2015, 5:38 PM

Less than one month from now the nations of the world will meet in Paris for the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). During the November 30 to December 11 meeting, organizers hope to reach a new international agreement on the climate—something that has been unachievable at the recent annual events.

President Obama is “cautiously optimistic” that a global climate agreement will finally be reached as a result of his “leadership.” As stated during the October 11 edition of 60 Minutes, he sees his role in Paris as more important than fighting ISIS: “My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris.”

This “accord” will not be an enforceable “treaty” as was The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change negotiated in 1997 and signed by President Clinton but never ratified by the U.S. Congress. The Kyoto Protocol expired at the end of 2012. Supporters have since been scrambling to reach a new deal. Once again, however, Congress will not ratify any such agreement—leaving the President to “lead by example” through executive and regulatory actions that have little chance of success.

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is, as stated by NPR: “the centerpiece of President Obama’s broader climate agenda.” NPR continues: “he’s urging other big countries to take similarly aggressive action in advance of an international climate summit in Paris later this year.” The Washington Examiner called CPP: “the linchpin in securing a global deal on emission reductions” in Paris.

Addressing the important role of CPP, the director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, Mary Ann Hitt, declared that it “signals to the rest of the world that the U.S. is serious about combating the climate crisis ahead of international negotiations in Paris.”

CPP—in case you haven’t been following the multi-year regulatory process that introduced draft rules in 2014, with finalized rules released in August and, finally, after more than three times the usual lag time, the 2000-page regulation was published in the Federal Register on October 23—“orders states to reorganize their energy systems from power plants to electric outlets,” says the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). It requires a cut in power-plant carbon emissions of 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and has been called “one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in this nation’s history.”

CPP is loathed by most Republicans, some Democrats, industry associations and business groups, utilities, coal companies, and mining interests. Therefore, less than 12 hours after publication in the Federal Register, it became “the most heavily litigated environmental regulation ever”—with more than 15 separate cases from 26 states and countless industry groups filed against it in just two days. All the lawsuits have been consolidated into one case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It is widely expected to, ultimately, be heard before the Supreme Court—which may not hear the case until 2018. By the time a final ruling is made, the Obama administration believes that, as was the case with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, industry will have already done so much to comply with the rule, that the high court’s decision will be almost irrelevant. WSJ states: “Even if CPP is … junked by the courts, they’re hoping to intimidate the states and dictate the U.S. energy mix for a generation.”

It is the lengthy timeline that prompted lawsuits to not only overturn CPP, but to also ask for a stay of the rule while the court decides on the case—as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit granted last month regarding the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule.

Days after the lawsuits were filed, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offered its recommendations for scheduling legal arguments—which the federal appeals court signed off on. Effectively kicking the can down the road, the deadline for any new lawsuits is November 5. The last day for briefing arguments will be December 23. So, no decision on whether to block implementation of the standards while the litigation plays out will be made until early 2016 at the soonest. This means, as Reuters explains: “the Obama administration, which has said the United States will play a leadership role at the Paris climate negotiations, will not risk the possibility of having its signature climate policy blocked at the U.N. summit.”

While the EPA’s timeline protects the administration from potential international embarrassment, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman, James Inhofe (R-OK) sees that it is an indication CPP is on shaky legal ground. He said: “The EPA has been slow walking the publication of the Clean Power Plan in an attempt to delay the inevitable, and now is asking the federal court to delay next steps on the rule’s legal challenges until after the international climate talks in Paris.”

The court’s decision won’t be made before COP21, but Congress’ will be.

Both chambers of Congress are working on joint resolutions of disapproval aimed at blocking the rule. Though seldom used, the Congressional Review Act (CRA), according to WSJ, “allows Congress to nullify regulations within 60 days of their publication into the Federal Register with a simple majority of members.” The CRA resolutions of disapproval are not subject to a filibuster in the Senate—though they are subject to presidential veto. While the expected passage of the resolutions of disapproval will not ultimately block CPP, it will send a signal to international negotiators that whatever agreement is reached in Paris will not receive Congressional support.

One last thought. President Obama claims to be “cautiously optimistic” that a deal will be reached in Paris. However, last week, the New York Times quoted Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst and critic of Putin, as saying President Putin believes that “there is no global warming, that this is a fraud to restrain the industrial development of several countries including Russia.” The story concludes: “Russia’s attitude will most likely be something like this: Guys, you put economic pressure on us, introduced sanctions. Do you expect us to be holier than the Pope about the issue you’re pushing through and take a load of responsibilities?”

Add to that the fact that Poland, Europe’s largest producer of coal, has signaled that it may opt out of the EU climate deal, and that India was never on board, and the Paris conference is going to be interesting indeed.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jay Richards: Why Modern Environmentalism is Unnecessary and Harmful

Somewhat Reasonable - November 04, 2015, 4:40 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Jay Richards, assistant research professor at the Catholic University of America joins managing editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett to discuss the the misanthropic nature of modern environmentalism.

Richards is also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and best-selling author of the book Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and not the Problem. Burnett and Richards discuss how the policies to fight climate change are both unnecessary and likely to hurt the poor and how we should come to understand the truth about climate change.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland is Going to Paris for COP-21, and You Can Help

Somewhat Reasonable - November 04, 2015, 3:59 PM

After a successful trip to Rome this spring to combat climate alarmism, The Heartland Institute is now setting its sights on COP-21 – the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is scheduled to take place in Paris in December. We request your help in this fight against global warming alarmism!

In April, The Heartland Institute made headlines when it sent a delegation of scientists and experts to the Vatican climate summit to provide Pope Francis the truth about climate change: There is no human-caused global warming crisis.

The delegation included E. Calvin Besisner from the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation; Hal Doiron, former NASA engineer; Richard Keen, instructor of meteorology at the University of Colorado; Christopher Monckton, chief policy advisor to the Science and Public Policy Institute; and several other leaders in the battle against extreme environmentalism.

Heartland’s trip to Rome was covered by scores of news outlets, including The New York TimesThe Guardian, National Review, USA Today, Boston GlobeThe Washington Post, The Daily Caller, Breitbart, Townhall, and EWTV (the most influential Catholic television station in the United States). Heartland provided a voice that was sorely needed, and it wasn’t a quiet voice. As Director of Communications Jim Lakely wrote, “Heartland’s name echoed in the Vatican.”

Now the same effort is needed in Paris. COP-21 will be one of the most important battles in the history of the global warming debate. Just as it did in Rome, Heartland plans to make a significant impact in Paris as well. That’s where you come in! In order to make the biggest splash possible, The Heartland Institute is utilizing crowdsourcing, a popular method of fundraising.

Linked here is Heartland’s Indiegogo page. In less than a week, Heartland has raised nearly one-third of its target. This innovative way to raise funds shows just how meaningful all donations can be, including small gifts. So far, more than 80 percent of the donors have contributed $100 or less. Contributors know exactly what their donations are being used for and, depending on their level of giving, they can receive special benefits.

If you want fair representation at one of history’s most important climate change showdowns next month in Paris, please consider contributing to this objective. Every dollar counts and will be used efficiently to combat climate alarmism and to stop the derailing of the United States’ energy sector and economy in an attempt to prevent the unlikely results of a hypothetical and far-fetched theory.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Justin Haskins: Single-Payer HealthCare in Colorado

Somewhat Reasonable - November 03, 2015, 11:00 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, editor and author of the Consumer Power Report, Justin Haskins joins New Media Specialist Donny Kendal to discuss the upcoming troubles for Obamacare and the proposed plan to create a single-payer healthcare system in the state of Colorado.

In the latest edition of the Consumer Power Report – a weekly report which offers a brief analysis of the top health care stories for the week, Haskins explains how many returning to the insurance exchanges are in for a rude awakening. insurance premiums are expected to raise significantly. On top of this, hundreds of thousands are likely to lose their federal subsidies that help pay for their mandated insurance because they failed to file last years tax return. 

Haskins and Kendal also discuss a proposed statewide universal healthcare plan that will appear on the ballot in the elections of November. This plan would be the first of its kind. While a similar plan was started in Vermont, this fell apart quickly when the costs were calculated.

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

Categories: On the Blog

‘Abuse of Passed Out Girl’: How Internet Search Engines Choose to Ignore Sexual Assault

Somewhat Reasonable - November 03, 2015, 9:48 AM

Editor’s Note: The following article was originally published on FoxNews.com. The story is simple: Search engines, including powerful websites such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s Bing, are profiting off of videos of women being sexually abused, often violently raped. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are aware of the problem, but they aren’t doing anything to stop it. It’s time Americans everywhere stand up for liberty, personal freedom, and privacy rights by asking these search engines to change their policies.

It’s the disgusting little secret the world’s most powerful Internet search engines all know but keep quiet about. It’s the ultimate “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Every day, thousands of videos of women being sexually assaulted are used by multi-billion dollar websites such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s Bing in order to drive revenue at the expense of the helpless victims involved.

These illegal pornographic videos are displayed as a result of a process that shields all the parties involved from liability, putting the burden on the victim of a sex crime to work diligently to force the removal of material that should never have been made available in the first place.

Criminals videotape themselves or others sexually assaulting women, usually women who are heavily intoxicated and in many cases unconscious. The videos are then posted by the criminals themselves or by someone else on streaming websites that allow users to post pornographic media anonymously. The websites, many of which are operated in foreign nations where laws to protect women and men from sexual abuse are lax, then ensure their material gets indexed by the world’s largest search engines so their videos can be viewed by millions of people.

For instance, a simple video search in Yahoo’s search engine for the terms “abuse of passed out girl” will reveal a startling video of a woman who appears to be getting sexually assaulted while she is completely incapacitated. The video, which is titled “Abuse of Passed Out Girl,” has more than 758,000 views and was posted well over a year ago.

Although some of the videos displaying women being sexually assaulted are likely produced by professional pornographers and don’t show any illegal activities, many video descriptions plainly state the person in the video is unconscious and is being raped. There’s rarely any indication the person involved in the video has consented to it being produced or distributed, and there’s almost never any contact information given for the person who uploaded it.

Search engines, who often focus their efforts on fighting child pornography, appear to do little to screen the websites they display for the presence of adult sex crimes. And they profit off of the traffic that comes to their site to find pornographic material, so they have little or no economic incentive to be diligent about seeking out and removing illegal videos and images.

Even if making these videos available to millions of people is assumed to be completely legal, search engines such as Google are clearly profiting off of the abuse of innocent people.

User-powered pornography websites mandate their anonymous posters agree to terms of service that forbid posting illegal material. Search engines likewise mandate the material listed on their websites comply with the law, and search engines say they can’t be held responsible when websites they index violate their terms. Thus, the pornography websites say they’re not responsible, the search engines claim they have no responsibility either, and the users who originally post the material are often unidentified, leaving victims virtually helpless.

In an effort to address complaints from users who have found sexually explicit images and videos of themselves online and have had trouble getting them removed, Google announced in June it will launch a program allowing people to submit requests to have pornography removed if it was posted without their permission.

This new effort by Google is a long-overdue step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Google and its largest competitors still display videos and images that have descriptions alleging the media contains sexual assault or abuse. Why should those search engines facilitate access to material openly promoted as being both horrific and illegal?

Although it’s often impossible to stop individuals from anonymously posting illegal videos to pornography websites, it is possible for search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to prevent the material from being displayed, listed, and promoted on their sites. These services have sophisticated algorithms to enhance both the user experience and their own bottom lines. Unfortunately, a shortsighted concern for the latter appears to be discouraging them from removing these videos from search engine results.

The world’s largest search engines have rightly resisted many attempts by government officials to control what is said and done on the Internet, but the great power and wealth the Internet has brought companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing come with significant responsibilities. Search engines have an obligation to the victims in these videos and to the world to act with decency and compassion by banning any websites that consistently promote this kind of material.

In the long-term, it is in the economic best interests of these search engines to correct these horrific policies. Egregious breaches of individuals’ privacy will likely bring pressure from government agencies to remedy the problem, which could lead to an undesirable expansion of government power over the Internet.

More importantly, search engines have a moral duty to prevent the damage these illegal and despicable videos cause. If search engines fail to help protect women who are victims of repugnant sexual crimes, then Americans should find new, more ethical options for browsing the Internet.

[Originally Published by FoxNews.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Bill Gates Says Capitalism Can’t Save Us from Climate Change

Somewhat Reasonable - November 02, 2015, 3:40 PM

Bill Gates may be the genius who developed the Windows operating system (though, if you, like me are running Windows 10, you may object to the classification, “genius”), but he does not believe that human ingenuity and the free market that welcomed him with open arms and has made possible his success, will make any impact when it comes to combating “Climate Change.”

In an interview with the Atlantic, Gates claimed that the private sector was “too selfish and inefficient” to produce effective alternatives to traditional fossil fuels, and called for a “substantial” tax on emissions designed to force corporations to reform their ways.

Well, there’s no fortune to be made…Without a substantial carbon tax, there’s no incentive for innovators or plant buyers to switch…

If it was just about economics, if we had no global warming to think about, the slowly-but-surely pace of these transitions would be okay. If you look at one of these forecasts, they all say about the same thing: What you look at is a picture that’s pretty gradual, with natural gas continuing to gain at the expense of both coal and oil. But, you know, 1-percent-a year-type change. If you look at that from a greenhouse-gas point of view—if you look at forecasts—every single year we’ll be emitting more greenhouse gases than the previous year.

Logical leaps – that greenhouse gases are the primary force behind “global warming,” and that man, beast or government can make inroads against such environmental changes – aside, Gates actually goes on to make the case against his own theory, stating that its  the regulatory structure that surrounds energy methods development, not necessarily the free market’s unwillingness, that keeps alternative fuel sources in the experimental stages.

Even if you have a new energy source that costs the same as today’s and emits no CO2, it will be uncertain compared with what’s tried-and-true and already operating at unbelievable scale and has gotten through all the regulatory problems, like “Okay, what do you do with coal ash?” and “How do you guarantee something is safe?”

John Galt could answer that question fairly easily: the people who could make large strides in technology often don’t because navigating the bureaucratic red tape in order to get the product to market – or even to an experimental stage – is simply not worth the effort. And, of course, a free market operates on demand. While the government is losing sleep over developing an alternative energy source, the public has more pressing needs. A market that required an alternative fuel would develop one – there just simply isn’t the desire for it.

If government then creates an artificial desire, it’s certainly not creating the sense of urgency or need that propels quick development. Government tolerates inefficiency, and it’s standards for research goals are malleable. And it often stands in the way of its own success; even as millions has gone to the solar energy and wind energy industries, much of that funding has been made on the basis of crony relationships, as a reward for campaign contributions, and as a “job placement” service for former Obama Administration bundlers looking to have short-term investments pay off with government money. A government program that throws countless billions to random alternative energy upstarts would fare no differently from the ill-fated Solyndra, or the dozens of other bungled Department of Energy projects.

Gates goes on to claim that cancer is only on its way to being cured because the government finally took a financial interest in the subject. But he ignores that government has also built regulatory agencies designed to make bringing cancer treatments, like prescription drugs, to the market. Government is not – and cannot be –  a force for good on its own.

Gates will contribute a large chunk of his own fortune to developing alternative energy fuel sources, and that’s fine. Private charity can also be a driver of interest in free market innovation. But Gates may want to think twice before encouraging the government to put its own fingers in the pot.

Categories: On the Blog

Sixth Circuit Provides Bridge Over Troubled WOTUS

Somewhat Reasonable - November 02, 2015, 3:14 PM

Boy with rubber boots jumping in federal jurisdiction.

In what has been a rough couple of months for the Obama administration on the regulatory front, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has issued a temporary nationwide injunction halting the controversial new Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS) of the Clean Water Act. The U.S. District Court in North Dakota had already issued a preliminary injunction against the rule in late August, but the Obama administration claimed the injunction applied only to the 13 states bringing suit. The nationwide injunction is a significant setback for Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The WOTUS rule, which was to be jointly administered and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was presented as a clarification of the federal government’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act by defining what exactly constitutes “the waters of the United States.”

In reality, the language of the EPA rule is so intentionally vague this “clarification” could grant Washington, DC jurisdiction over any body of water anywhere in the nation. WOTUS was meant to apply to any water or wetland deemed to have a “significant nexus” to any navigable waterway, with the significant nexus, as described by a Wall Street Journal editorial, so widely interpreted as to include “any creek, pond or prairie pothole” and “any land within a 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high water mark or, alternatively, within the 100-year floodplain and 4,000 feet of waters within their claimed jurisdiction.” Essentially, the WOTUS rule would put EPA in charge of every piece of land occasionally containing any amount of concentrated water, practically down to the puddle.

WOTUS would constitute a massive expansion of federal power and a usurpation of states’ authority, representing a major threat to property rights and private enterprise. Property owners, farmers, and business owners with any property fitting this spectacularly expansive definition of “waters” could face mounds of new, onerous restrictions, red tape, or costs before being allowed to alter their land in even the smallest way.

Criticism of WOTUS has been broad and far-reaching. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau Federation, and Dairy Farmers of America have all raised concerns. H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News, says the voluminous  number of people and organizations who have “criticized EPA’s plan as overreach in public statements or congressional and administrative testimony” includes “pesticide manufacturers, mining companies, home builders, governors, local governments, water utilities, flood control districts, the timber industry, railroads, real estate developers, golf course operators, food and beverage companies, more than 40 energy companies, and two dozen electric power companies.”

Although the nationwide injunction is a victory for businesses, property owners, and the states, it is only a temporary victory. The injunction remains binding only during the litigation over the rule’s constitutionality. If the rule is upheld, enforcement would begin immediately.

This rule raises some interesting constitutional questions, and the Sixth Circuit has stated of WOTUS, “the rulemaking process by which the distance limitations were adopted is facially suspect,” but concerned members of Congress should be wary of trusting the judicial branch to step in and solve their problems for them. Instead of waiting, wishing, and hoping, Congress should be proactive and put forward legislation to rein in EPA.

The James Madison Institute recommends four ways Congress could take action to block WOTUS implementation: an appropriations bill to block or remove funding, a standalone bill targeting WOTUS directly, amending the Clean Water Act, or the use of a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which would automatically prevent WOTUS from taking effect and keep EPA from implementing similar rules.

Any of these would be acceptable avenues for Congress to protect private property rights and the sovereign power of the states.

[Originally published at The Hill]

Categories: On the Blog

Maine Continues to Lead Nation in Efforts to Fight Abuse of Food Stamps

Somewhat Reasonable - November 02, 2015, 3:05 PM

Maine is one of the few states that has seriously addressed the growth of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, and it should be applauded for doing so.

SNAP has become one of the fastest-growing welfare programs offered by the U.S. government. It is administered by the Department of Agriculture, and the benefits are distributed by individual states. Currently, SNAP is the fourth-largest means-tested program for low-income families and individuals.

In many states, SNAP eligibility is in dire need of reform. Eligibility standards for SNAP have slowly eroded over the past decade.

As recently as 2000, around 47 states had asset tests for the food stamp program. By 2012, 35 states had eliminated their asset tests and five others had weakened their tests. The elimination of these tests has allowed millionaires and lottery winners to become eligible for food stamps, something that should never be allowed to happen.

In 2014, Maine re-established work and volunteer requirements for adult recipients who aren’t disabled and have no children. This shrunk the number of recipients by more than 9,000, saving approximately $21.6 million a year, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Maine ranked first in the nation in 2014 for its decline in food stamp dependency, according to the USDA’s Federal Nutrition Service.

The state is now considering implementing an asset test for those receiving food stamps. Currently, Maine is one of 36 states that do not require an asset test to receive food stamps, and it would become the first in the Northeast region to do so if asset testing is approved. The new state SNAP rule would impose a $5,000 asset limit on households without children.

SNAP costs nationally have doubled in the past five years, from $33 billion in 2006 to $78 billion in 2011. In this brief period, the number of people receiving SNAP increased from 26 million to 45 million.

When the food stamp program was first implemented nationally in the 1970s, just one in 50 Americans participated. Today, according to the Congressional Budget Office, one in seven Americans receives SNAP benefits, and the total cost of the program has now reached $6 billion per month.

Requiring asset testing could have a dramatic effect on the number of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Maine and save thousands of taxpayer dollars.

According to the free-market Foundation for Government Accountability, if every state matched its asset testing for food stamp eligibility to the federal baseline, over 749,000 fewer Americans would be trapped in food stamp dependence – all while saving taxpayers nationally over $1.1 billion each year.

One of the key methods of holding down SNAP costs is restricting eligibility. The current income and asset test for SNAP requires recipients to have a gross income below 130 percent of the poverty level, a net income below 100 percent of poverty and less than $2,000 in assets.

These requirements are much closer to defining people in real need, but many SNAP recipients are accepted under looser standards through “categorical eligibility.”

In states using categorical eligibility for SNAP, recipients are determined not by the income and asset limitations established for SNAP, but by participation in cash welfare assistance programs, which can have more relaxed eligibility standards.

Asset tests are an important tool in managing the cost of welfare programs. They ensure that individuals use their own resources before turning to taxpayers for support, while preventing the program from being abused by those who do not truly need the help.

Many experts agree that $5,000 is a reasonable threshold, as it allows room for saving and re-establishes SNAP as the safety net it was always meant to be. The new rule is necessary to ensure that all food stamp dollars are used only by those families truly in need.

Welfare reform should focus on encouraging able-bodied recipients who are enrolled in these programs to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on government aid. The real focus of these programs must be to provide temporary or supplemental assistance while encouraging work and independence.

States should also have an immediate requirement for recipients to engage in work-related activities to be eligible for food stamps and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

[Originally published at the Portland Press Herald]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Michelle Smith: Show Me the Money! Royalties and Fracking

Somewhat Reasonable - November 02, 2015, 1:25 PM

We often hear about how the fracking boom led to a dramatic increase in high paying jobs and an increase in state revenues in oil and natural gas producing states. job numbers, and state revenues, but another important aspect of the economic impact of hydraulic fracturing is the payment of royalties to mineral rights owners.

In today’s edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Michelle Smith, organic farmer and expert in royalties law joins Research Fellow Isaac Orr to discuss what royalties are, the impact they have on local economies, and how they help families chase their dreams of financial stability.

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

Categories: On the Blog

More Sanctimonious Garbage from National Geographic

Somewhat Reasonable - November 01, 2015, 11:34 PM

The November 2015 edition of National Geographic is devoted to global warming. (See excerpts I’m addressing in PDF form.)  A friend who tracks and writes about global warming also noticed this special “Climate Issue” of the magazine, and emailed me with a suggestion:

If it’s possible to do, we might compose a sophisticated response to the issue, carefully worded to avoid confrontation but simply to indicate that our research and experience through the years has tipped our scales in the opposite direction.  My guess is that they would publish such a retort.

That’s a worthy endeavor, but I suspect my friend is wrong about National Geographic publishing such a response. That would be tantamount to admitting they were wrong to devote months of work to featuring transparent falsehoods in their magazine. 

Interesting that they choose to title it “Cool It,” though. That’s the same as the title of Bjorn Lomborg’s 2007 book, which asks environmentalists to cool down their hot rhetoric about man-made global warming. Pity they didn’t read it. Here are some excerpts from Lomborg’s book: Lomborg, B. 2007. Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.


Trade-offs, scarcity

“But whether we talk about the costs or not, someone still has to pay. Even if we don’t debate our priorities, we still end up prioritizing. Even if we end up doing some good, we might easily have done much better. If we are to embark on the potentially most costly global-policy program ever, we might first want to be sure it is the best use of our resources.” (132) 

“But if we are to make comparisons across many different and disparate areas it is crucial that we maintain our objectivity, and the economic approach helps us to do so.” (134)

“Far from being amoral to compare costs and benefits, it is crucially moral to ask, How do we help the most? Can it really be moral to do anything less?” (135)

“But even though temperature rises may not be as devastating as people think, and even if there are other, cheap ways to deal with much of the temperature increase, is it still not also obvious that we want to cut CO2 emissions? Well, maybe. It really depends on how much good we can accomplish and at what cost.” (22)

“[I]t is obvious that there are many other and more pressing issues for the third world, such as almost four million people dying [annually] from malnutrition, three million from HIV/AIDS, 2.5 million from indoor and outdoor air pollution, more than two million from lack of micronutrients (iron, zinc, and vitamin A), and almost two million from lack of clean drinking water.” (42)

“…local surveys in that country [Tanzania] show the biggest concerns are the lack of capital to buy seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides; pests and animal diseases; costly education; high HIV-infection rates; malaria; and low-quality health services. I believe we have to dare to ask whether we help Tanzanians best by cutting CO2 which would make do difference to the glaciers, or through HIVB policies that would be cheaper, faster, and have much greater effect.” (57) [citing Ijumba, Mosha, and Lindsay, 2002; Richey, 2003; Soini, 2005:316; Vavrus, 2002]

“What we must come to terms with is that even though CO2 causes global warming, cutting CO2 simply doesn’t matter much for most of the world’s important issues. From polar bears to poverty, we can do immensely better with other policies.” (116) 

“Changing national energy systems takes a long time and has huge costs.” (118)

“The fundamental economic problem with both Kyoto and its stricter follow-ups is that all macro economic models show that they are poor investments.” (119) [emphasis in original]

What we need instead is a “low-cost, long-term, viable solution to global warming.” (123)

“This is the real moral problem of the global-warming argument – it means well, but by almost expropriating the public agenda, trying to address the hardest problem, with the highest price tag and the least chance of success, it leaves little space, attention, and money for smarter and more realistic solutions.” (123)

“It is one – but only one – problem of many we will have to tackle through the twenty-first century.” (124)

In the peer-reviewed studies, [annual] global-warming damages run at about 1 percent of GDP and costs [to reduce CO2 emissions] at about 2 percent. It is important to say that you can’t just compare the costs of the two, because incurring the costs doesn’t avoid all the damage. But basically incurring a 2 percent cost for a 1 percent benefit is a bad deal, which explains why economic cost-benefit analyses recommend only moderate CO2 reductions. (137)

“All major peer-reviewed economic models agree that little emissions reductions is justified. A central conclusion from a meeting of all economic modelers was: ‘Current assessments determine that the ‘optimal’ policy calls for a relatively modest level of control of CO2.’ [Citing Nordhaus, 1998) In a review from 2006, the previous research was summarized: ‘These studies recommend that greenhouse-gas emissions be reduced below business-as-usual forecasts, but the reductions suggested have been modest.’” (37) [Citing Stern, 2006… so Stern was probably criticizing previous studies.]


Benefits exceed costs until 2400

“If we try to stabilize emissions, it turns out that for the first 170 years the costs are greater than the benefits. Even when the benefits catch up till the late 22nd century, there is still a payback time before the total benefits outweigh the total costs, around 2250. Thus, as one academic paper points out, ‘the costs associated with an emissions stabilization program are relatively large for current generations and continue to increase over the next 100 years. The first generation to actually benefit from the stabilization program is born early during the 24th century.’”[citing Kavuncu and Knabb, 2005, 369-383.] (37)


Lomborg on health effects of warmer temperatures

“Actually, the direct impact of climate change in 2050 will mean fewer dead, and not by a small amount. In total, about 1.4 million people will be saved each year, due to more than 1.7 million fewer deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 365,000 more deaths from respiratory disorders.” (38) [He assumes increased deaths from respiratory disorders? 1.4 million avoided deaths per year x 40 years (2010 to 2010) would be 56 million lives saved? He cites Bosello, Roson, and Tol, 2006, 582.]

[L]ives saved will continue to outweigh extra deaths when counting both cardiovascular and respiratory diseases at least till 2200. So the simple answer to the question is no, heat deaths will not outweigh avoided cold deaths, not in 2050, 2100, or even 2200.” [emphasis in original, 39. Citing Tol, 2002b: 154-5]

“Second, we have to remember that cutting CO2 and temperature means more people will die from cold deaths in the developing world – more than eleven thousand annually.” (40) However, he thinks this is more than offset by falling deaths from respiratory deaths, for a net DECREASE  of “a little fewer than 4,000 people [annually] (now at the price of $300 million each).” (40)

“Thus, to save four thousand people in the developing world, we end up sacrificing more than $1 trillion and eighty thousand people. Bad deal.” (40) [This appears to be just the direct effect of warming temperatures, not the other impacts of rising fossil fuel prices.]

“If we make a rough estimate of the lives lost and saved by the temperature increase since the 1970s of 0.65 F, we get about 620,000 avoided cold deaths and 130,000 extra heat deaths. This of course dramatically influences the total outcome: instead of 150,000 dying of global warming, there are actually almost 200,000 more people surviving each year.” (93) [he goes on to say “this does not mean we should just embrace global warming” because other impacts of warming may be net negative, cold mostly kills old people while heat kills the young] 

“What the history of malaria in Europe and the United States shows us is that we eliminated malaria while the world warmed over the past century and a half.” (97) 

“[C]oncerns from Western governments, nongovernmental organizations, and local populations make it hard to utilize DDT, which is still the most cost-effective insecticide against mosquitoes and, properly used, has negligible environmental impact.” (98)

“[W]hen developing countries go from an average income per person of $5,000 today to $100,000 in 2100, it seems unrealistic to assume that this will not mean more protection and less malaria. Finally, the models also disregard that increasing urbanization will decrease the incidence of malaria.” (99) 



“[R]educing CO2 means indiscriminately eliminating both negative and positive effects of global warming. We ought to at least consider adaptive strategies that would allow us to hold on to the positive effects of climate change while reducing or eliminating its damages.” (41-42)

“[T]he UN expects that people in both the developed and developing countries will become richer. In the industrialized world, people will see their incomes grow sixfold [during the 21st century] as we saw during the last century. Income in the developing countries is expected to soar twelvefold.” (47)  [Citing MESSAGE A1 (Nakicenovic & IPCCC WG III, 2000).]

“In the UN’s most likely scenario for 2100, when many of warming’s problems will be felt in earnest, the average person in the developing world is expected to make about one hundred thousand dollars (in present value) each year. [NOTE: UN doesn’t say any one scenario is more likely than another, this is Lomborg’s opinion.] Even the very worst-case scenario envisions the average person making above $27,000. [footnotes says this is the A2 scenario, I can’t get the data in IPCC 2000 to reach this estimate] In this very unlikely case, the average person in the third world will be as rich as a present-day Portuguese or Greek or richer than most West Europeans in 1980. [Citing Maddison, 2006] Much more likely, he or she will be richer than today’s average American, Dane, or Australian. This richness will of course enable these countries to better handle outside shocks, whether they come from climate change or any of the other major challenges the future undoubtedly will deal us.” (48)

“Average annual personal income in Mississippi in 1930 was $202, or $1,974 in today’s money – compare this to today’s income of $24,925. Over the past seventy years, Mississippi became more than twelve times richer; this is the same development we expect from developing countries over this century.” (101)


Wealth overcomes sea-level rise 

“Today we have ten million people getting flooded – eight years from now, with higher sea levels and more global warming and many more people, we will not see this number increased tenfold, but actually decreased more than tenfold, because of rich societies being able to deal with flooding much more effectively.” [emphasis in original, 68]

“[T]he IPCC expects the average person in the standard future to make $72,700 in the 2080s, whereas a person in a more environmentally oriented (but less growth oriented) world would make only $50,600. Despite one-third less sea-level rise, the environmental world would likely see more people flooded, simply because it will be poorer and therefore less able to defend itself against rising waters.” (69)

“For more than 180 of the world’s 192 nations, coastal protection will cost less than 0.1 percent of the GDP and approach total protection.”  (69) 

“Micronesia could lose 21% of its land at a cost of 12 percent of its GDP; however, for 7.4% of its GDP, it can save almost all its land, making protection the better deal. For all other nations, the deal is much better, and consequently the protection is even higher. The 77% land loss for the Maldives is worth more than their entire GDP (122%) – whereas protection will cost about 0.04 percent of GDP, making almost every square foot worth saving.” (70)


Sea Level Rise

“In its 2007 report, the UN estimates that sea levels will rise about a foot over the rest of the century. While this is not a trivial amount, it is also important to realize that it is certainly not outside historical experience. Since 1860, we have experienced a sea-level rise of about a foot, yet this has clearly not caused major disruptions.” (60) [citing Jevrejeva et al., 2006. He goes on to describe how media exaggerates the threat.] 

“Even with the most extreme estimates of Greenland melting over a couple of years, a sea-level rise of twenty feet would take one thousand years. In a recent overview of all the major models of sea-level increase, Greenland’s contribution over the coming century is at most two inches. Some even posit a tiny decrease in sea levels from increased snow outweighing the melting of Greenland’s glaciers.”(63-64) [citing Oerlemans et al., 2005]


Impact on Agriculture

“[T]he impact of global warming on [agricultural] production will probably be negative but in total very modest. For the most pessimistic models and the most pessimistic climate impacts, the total reduction compared to a scenario without any climate change is 1.4 percent. A lower climate impact and the most optimistic model actually forecast a net increase in agricultural production of 1.7 percent. To put these numbers in perspective, the average annual growth rate for agriculture over the past thirty years was 1.7 percent. In the most negative scenario, the loss of 1.4 percent production over the coming century is less than one year of today’s productivity increase. In other words, the total loss from climate change in the twenty-first century is equivalent of the world agricultural output doubling by, say, 2081 rather than 2080.” (103-4)

“Because of increased yields, better technology, and more farmland, these places [developing world] are still likely to see production increases over the century by about 270 percent.” (105)


Lomborg on media

“Jumping on the bandwagon of catastrophe, sexing up the ramifications of global warming, and exploiting fears of disaster may be good for selling papers, captivating viewers, and getting attention. But its stark and unfounded scares cut us off from a sensible dialogue on the political and economic arguments for action here – and on the many other problems facing us now and in the future.” (131)

“In its 2007 report, the UN estimates that sea levels will rise about a foot over the rest of the century. While this is not a trivial amount, it is also important to realize that it is certainly not outside historical experience. Since 1860, we have experienced a sea-level rise of about a foot, yet this has clearly not caused major disruptions.” (60) [citing Jevrejeva et al., 2006. He goes on to describe how media exaggerates the threat.]


Stern Report

 “Yet a raft of academic papers have now come out all strongly criticizing Stern, characterizing his report as a “political document” and liberally using words such as ‘substandard,’ ‘preposterous,’ ‘incompetent,’ ‘deeply flawed,’ and ‘neither balanced nor credible.’ (136) [footnotes on page 196, he cites Robert Carter] 

“This means that the difference between the peer-reviewed literature and the non-peer-reviewed Stern report is massive. In the peer-reviewed studies, [annual] global-warming damages run at about 1 percent of GDP and costs [to reduce CO2 emissions] at about 2 percent. It is important to say that you can’t just compare the costs of the two, because incurring the costs doesn’t avoid all the damage. But basically incurring a 2 percent cost for a 1 percent benefit is a bad deal, which explains why economic cost-benefit analyses recommend only moderate CO2 reductions. However, Stern essentially turns the standard economic picture around without new evidence: damages way outside what the previous literature has found and costs much more optimistic. Moreover, Stern is not so careful as to point out that he really didn’t do a cost-benefit study – clearly he should only have compared the costs to part of the damages avoided.” (137-8)

Categories: On the Blog

Judge Wu’s New York Kangaroo Court for Alleged Internet Traffic Violations

Somewhat Reasonable - October 31, 2015, 1:42 PM

Tim Wu, the self-described “policy advocate,” who coined the term “net neutrality;” who has been a leading activist for preemptively regulating broadband service like a utility despite scant evidence of any problem; who from 2008-2011 was Chair of the pressure group FreePress that ran the notoriously-deceptive “Save The Internet” campaign to force FCC net neutrality regulation that was overturned in court; who has been part of a decade-long PR demonization effort of broadband companies for first not having fast enough broadband speed relative to the world and then for enabling broadband “fast lanes” — is now the “Senior Enforcement Counsel and Special Advisor” to the New York Attorney General, who is investigating Cablevision, Time Warner Cable and Verizon for allegedly providing broadband service at speeds less than the companies advertise.

Does this appear to be an impartial investigator/prosecutor that doesn’t already have his mind made up of what his pending law enforcement “investigation” will conclude?

It is supremely ironic that the activist, who literally made a career out of convincing people that broadband providers cannot be trusted to serve their customers without engaging in harmful traffic discrimination, is so obviously and publicly biased against broadband companies — that he has long publicly advocated that broadband providers should be viewed as guilty until proven innocent, and thus preemptively regulated before any potential net neutrality offense could occur.

The best analogy for this type of biased, discriminatory, and presumed-guilty-until-proven-innocent approach to justice is those notorious remote town kangaroo court systems. They set up “speed traps” to prey on those who happen upon their jurisdiction, and of course find them guilty of speeding even though they had scant warning that they had entered a poorly advertised “slow speed” zone. People so entrapped quickly learn the due process nightmare of the “kangaroo court” racket.

So what’s Mr. Wu’s particular racket here?

This is pretty blatant political advocacy deceptively masquerading under the guise of impartial state law enforcement.

If this was an impartial and fair state law enforcement investigation, why were the investigators apparently the source of the leak of the investigation?

Given that news reports claimed to have seen three separate letters privately sent to three different companies, it seems apparent that the New York Attorney General’s office was the source of the leak here. What single company, let alone three simultaneously, would all supply letters of this sort to different media outlets quickly, when it is clearly not in their interest to do so because they believe they have accurately represented their broadband speeds.

If this was an impartial and fair state law enforcement investigation, why did Mr. Wu give the Washington Post a public interview before he has fully investigated the matter, indicating that he believes the three companies are in fact not offering advertised speeds, because he wants to measure the speed of the service through the interconnection points of other carriers, a part of the service that the companies cannot fully control, and that companies like Netflix and Level 3 like to game for PR and negotiating advantage.

Per the Washington Post: “When a company such as Time Warner Cable advertises speeds of, say, 300 megabits per second, “they don’t promise you’ll have 300 Mbps to Time Warner Cable — they promise 300 Mbps to the Internet,” said Wu in an interview. “That requires going through interconnection. And that’s a bottleneck they control and can substantially affect the speeds the consumer experiences.””

Kangaroo court systems imagine they can make up their own definitions of the market they are investigating and make up what is illegal after the fact.

Mr. Wu’s rigged game here is that Mr. Wu has telegraphed that his “measurement of broadband speed” will be based on his own personal definition of the Internet, and his preferred policy advocacy definition of the Internet – that by the way is also necessary to demonize broadband providers as violators of net neutrality and enemies of a “free and open Internet.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Wu’s planned enforcement/advocacy scheme, an Internet Service provider’s network is itself part of the Internet, not separate from it, according to Congress and the Supreme Court.

Congress in the 1996 Telecommunications Act said: “The term ‘Internet’ means the international computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.”

The Supreme Court in its Brand X decision upholding the FCC’s classification of cable broadband as an information service defined the Internet as a “network of interconnected computers.”

In sum, Mr. Wu is improperly using a state law enforcement process as a PR and policy advocacy stunt and pressure tactic to try and force ISPs to enter into interconnections agreements based on his desired terms and definitions — not those recognized in a real U.S. court of law.

The citizens of New York and the businesses that do business there, deserve better, i.e. impartial administration of justice, from “Senior Enforcement Counsel and Special Advisor” to the New York Attorney General Mr. Wu and from the New York State Attorney General’s office.

[Originally published at the Precursor Blog]

Scott Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is President of Precursor LLC, a research consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, and Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests.

Categories: On the Blog

Consumer Reports Rescinds Recommendation for Tesla’s Model S

Somewhat Reasonable - October 31, 2015, 1:00 PM

Imagine a product that performs so well, that an evaluator says it busted through the top of its grade scale, yet that same scorer can’t recommend the product due to issues of reliability.

That would be a seeming disconnect in the real world, but in this case we are talking about the immortal Tesla Model S. The illogical appraiser is Consumer Reports.

Two years ago the media enthusiastically reported how the all-electric luxury vehicle scored a 99 out of 100, as measured by conscientious buyers’ favorite magazine. Then, two months ago, CR’s researchers were even more ecstatic after their follow-up tests, and awarded the Model S a score of 103. Green-minded journalists were over the moon.

“This is a glimpse into what we can expect down the line, where we have cars with the performance of supercars and the comfort, convenience and safety features of a luxury car while still being extremely energy efficient,” said Jake Fisher, head of the magazine’s automotive testing, to theSydney Morning Herald at the time.  “We haven’t seen all those things before.”

The Twilight Zone that is Tesla is where many things – often ones that defy logic and/or the laws of economics – haven’t been seen before, such as skyrocketing stock prices despite ongoing financial losses. But here’s one that no mind could have imagined: The effusive Consumer Reports graders have rescinded their recommendation of the Model S.

How and why? The actual owners of the vehicles have spoken, via approximately 1,400 survey responses received by the magazine. The results showed that the Model Ss are “likely to involve a worse-than-average overall problem rate” that affect reliability. Among the glitches were issues with the drive train, power equipment, charging equipment, giant iPad-like center console, and body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks. It all sounds quite Fiskeresque.

Consumer Reports’ auto-testing guru had to curb his enthusiasm.

“This extensive data allows us to forecast that owning a Tesla will likely mean worse than average reliability, a decline from last years average prediction,” Fisher said. “As a result the Model S will not receive the ‘recommended’ designation, even though it did so well in our separate road test evaluations. To be recommended a vehicle has to meet stringent testing, reliability, and safety standards, including having average or better predicted reliability.”

There was a bright spot in the survey feedback, however. Model S owners reported that Tesla’s customer service was excellent, to the point that 97 percent of owners said they’d buy again. Nonetheless the value of Tesla’s stock dropped 14 percent from one month ago, and has fallen 20 percent in less than three months.

The share price still closed in silly territory (for an unproven automotive tech start-up) yesterday at $215.26, however. The Tesla experience, as mentioned earlier, defies logic. Compare what has happened in the eyes of Consumer Reports with the Model S, for example, to how it viewed its experience with a similar (but failed) luxury electric automobile, the Fisker Karma.

“With the Karma,” the magazine reported in September 2012, “much attention has been paid to our unfortunately routine problems, including an early failure on our track that left the car immobile and led to the battery being replaced, frequent instrument, window and radio glitches, and recurring warning lights. So far our Karma has made multiple trips back to the dealer (who, by the way, has provided excellent service, flat-bedding the car to and from our facility).”

So, both vehicles had all kinds of troubles (also left unmentioned are the battery-related fires that both have experienced) – but had excellent customer service! The major difference is that the Karma showcased many of its problems on Consumer Reports’ test track, while the negatives for the Model S were revealed by its owners – arguably worse because it’s a wider sampling of customer complaints. Yet the Karma received a magazine designation as the “worst luxury sedan” in 2012, and fourth-worst sedan overall. Fisker, which lost $139 million of U.S. taxpayers’ moneywent bankrupt in late 2013 and its remnants were sold off to the Chinese.

Meanwhile Tesla, despite the recent stock devaluation, still is riding high. As NLPC has reported the last couple of years, despite ongoingdependence on government subsidies and regulatory favor, Tesla has had repeated financial losses in its quarterly earnings. Nevertheless the company and CEO Elon Musk enjoy nearly universal acclaim from the media and Wall Street analysts.

Musk, a master of redirection when confronted with bad news, was ready again with a rapid response to the Consumer Reports rescindment. He said, more or less, that the development was old news.

“Consumer Reports reliability survey includes a lot of early production cars,” Musk said, on Twitter. “Already addressed in new cars.”

He emphasized the owners’ positive response on customer service and called the 97 percent interest in buying again “the acid test” of approval. Yet the magazine identified areas that scored worse in 2015 than did the 2014 model in last year’s survey, which included climate control, steering and suspension systems. Complaints about the drive system in the 2013 models increased as well.

Nonetheless some analysts were not fazed. Karl Brauer of Kelly Blue Book said owners don’t worry about “little issues,” and an investment bank analyst said the problems were already known among Tesla loyalists. Just call them Teflon Tesla.

Paul Chesser is an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center and publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, an aggregator of North Carolina news.

[Originally published at the National Legal and Policy Center]


Categories: On the Blog

A Possible Fix for the Obamacare Waiver Process

Somewhat Reasonable - October 30, 2015, 4:03 PM

Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL) has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives which would simplify and streamline the application and approval process for Obamacare’s Section 1332 state innovation waivers. As it stands now, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) essentially blocks any 1332 waiver from moving forward, but this bill could potentially give the states real access to a tool that would allow them to opt out of the law’s essential health benefits provisions and insurance exchange requirements.

This new waiver process would give states a way to combat rising health insurance costs and market consolidation. Health-flex waivers would allow states more flexibility with what they consider “qualified” health plans and “essential health benefits,” with the goal being to give consumers more plan options with lower premium costs. For example, this waiver “would allow a health insurance market in a state to offer health plans that…may not offer maternity and newborn care or a network with essential community providers. Individuals in these states who purchase…less robust but less expensive plans would still be considered insured and eligible for federal insurance subsidies.”

At the same time, exchange waivers would allow to states to break up their current health insurance marketplaces and give consumers the ability to purchase health plans outside of the state and federal exchanges. This could be done directly through an insurer or an agent or broker, as well as on a private exchange. The states themselves would also certify what would be considered acceptable health plans.

The bill also lowers the Obamacare’s threshold for eligibility for insurance subsidies, bringing them down from 400 percent of the federal poverty level to 300 percent. Federal poverty guidelines allowed a family of four earning $95,400 last year to be eligible for a premium tax credit. Due to inflation, this benchmark usually increases each year. At this rate, by 2018 you will have families of four earning over $100,000 a year getting subsidized insurance coverage via Obamacare. While these subsidies are essentially acting as a form of welfare for the solidly middle class, a 25 percent reduction would make them more palatable by bring this eligibility level down to $72,750 in 2016.

Hultgren’s bill also requires states to offer at least one basic-level health care plan where the premiums do not exceed 6.5 percent of that state’s median household income. This will allow consumers to buy plans that include only the coverage they want. No longer, for example, will post-menopausal women be forced to buy plans that must include maternity coverage.

Another feature for consumers comes from the bill’s transparency requirements, especially in regards to premium increases and monthly and annual costs. The issuers of health plans must “make…available…the demographics of the population enrolled under the plan, the utilization and health care items and services by such population…and other factors that serve as a justification for the premium levels (including any premium increases) under the plan.” This will keep consumers from being kept in the dark about the reasons for their plan’s jump in costs.

Congressman Hultgren’s bill contains many interesting ideas that could bring real financial relief for families and real reform to Obamacare. His colleagues in the House would consider it well worth their time to investigate it for themselves.

Categories: On the Blog

Danger: Interstate Compact Could “Fundamentally Transform” Medicine

Somewhat Reasonable - October 30, 2015, 3:56 PM

While Americans are preoccupied with the political theater of the Presidential race, special interest groups toil to pass legislation that could radically transform your medical care. One example is the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which has passed in 11 states. Pennsylvania has joined a number of others in proposing it.

The proposal promises to provide “remote communities with access to high-quality care through telemedicine” and “address a shortage of medical personnel in underserved rural and urban regions,” according to an article in the Pennsylvania Business Daily.

Americans need to remember three things about proposed legislation:

  • Its real purpose is likely to be very different from the stated one, and the result may be the opposite of the one that is promised.
  • Especially when the same law is surfacing simultaneously in a number of states, some vested interest wants to make money from it. A lot of money—getting laws passed can be very expensive.
  • There may be no way back, as the law empowers and funds interest groups that will oppose repeal.

So what does the Compact do to bring telemedicine to underserved areas? By itself, nothing. It’s about a bypass to state control of licensure, not about providing care. If telemedicine were the real object, the way to expedite it would be to define the location of medical care as the location of the doctor, not the patient. The doctor would need a license in only one state. Compact proponents oppose a telemedicine bill in Congress that would do just that.

Some physicians already hold a license in several states—they just apply to each state. Under the Compact, they would apply to a private interstate commission, which would have its own rules, possibly overriding rules of the states, and which would have no public accountability. This would add costs, not eliminate them. It could also allow doctors to evade state laws meant to protect patients. For example, a carpetbagger abortionist could fly in to do late-term abortions forbidden by the state, under his Compact license.

Only “eligible” physicians need apply. The organization spearheading the push for the Compact is the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). Contrary to the implications of its name, FSMB is a private corporation, which, despite being tax-exempt, brings in tens of millions of dollars in revenue by selling forms and physician data. The Compact re-defines “physician” to mean someone who is participating in proprietary “Maintenance of Certification” (MOC).

There is no evidence that MOC improves patient care. The vast majority of physicians find it to be costly, time-devouring busywork. It also tends to indoctrinate physicians into the treatment preferences of elitist, monopolistic, self-certified “experts.” But a Compact-licensed physician instantly becomes ineligible—and even becomes a non-physician, if he misses one too many questions on an exam or fails to pay up.

So, who’s for the Compact? Purveyors of MOC. Also, hospital associations. Apparently, they want to tap into revenues from telemedicine, using compliant doctors tied into an interstate system that makes its own rules and will be heavily influenced by the big players. For them, telemedicine could be a bonanza that requires little up-front investment in facilities or personnel.

Telemedicine can order tests and referrals to entities owned or controlled by the telemed physician’s employer (the hospital). It can prescribe medicines—including the “pain pill” to nonprofitable patients. It cannot establish a personal patient-physician relationship.

The news article shows three street signs: “come,” “practice,” and “here,” with arrows going in three directions. Your “provider” could be in cyberspace with a better connection to computer protocols than to you, directing patients as dictated by the System. Your rural doctor could be out of business or even delicensed, and your local premier institution could be busy with out-of-state cyberpatients.

The Compact is about control of medicine by a centralized private entity. Once in, a state may not be able to extricate itself. The proponents aren’t waiting for the “laboratories of democracy” to come up with negative results. Hence the nationwide push to get “everybody in, nobody out” as quickly as possible.

A good rule for responsible legislators: If you don’t fully understand the implications of a bill, vote no. Wait and see how it works out elsewhere.


[Originally published at PPJG]


Categories: On the Blog

Why Does the Media Hate (Poor) People Having Cheap Food?

Somewhat Reasonable - October 30, 2015, 1:30 PM

The media are, of course, almost uniformly Leftist – which means they just about always toe the Party line. Including the belief that in order to help the poor – government must perpetually grow. Of course we conservatives also want to help the poor – we just think shrinking government is the way to actually do it.

When things get more expensive – the poor get hammered hardest. But the media misses the obvious – the more government there is, the more things cost. It is axiomatic – in (at least) two ways.


One: Government needs money to do anything – and government doesn’t make any money. So it must take it from the private sector. Prices inexorably rise – to offset the money government just took.

Two: When government imposes regulations, the private sector has to waste time, money and energy complying with them. Which inflates prices in (at least) two ways. Compliance with government costs time and money – which raises prices. And that time and money could have been much better spent making their stuff better and cheaper – which prevents prospective price reductions.


So when we actually succeed in reducing some government – prices will of course fall. And when that happens – the media freak out. Because they don’t like the visual aide of the Less Government Model working. So they try to warp the good news – into bad news.

To wit: The European Union (EU) has just reduced a bit the government’s uber-involvement in sugar production. And as always happens when government shrinks – sugar prices will fall. Which means food prices will fall. Because sugar is in a LOT of food – not just desserts. Seriously, check the labels in your refrigerator and cupboards – and not just the sweet stuff. Sugar is a food staple.

So prices falling is good news for everyone – especially the poor. But for the Big Government media – not so much. Instead of heralding it, the media give us this inanity:

Sugar Market Reform ‘Could Flood EU with Cheap Imports’

Europe could soon be swamped with cheap sugar – including fructose, which is blamed for fueling the US obesity epidemic – because of the planned liberalisation of the sugar market, experts have said….

Reforms set to be completed in 2017 will end the artificial barriers, which have enabled a handful of Europe’s sugar beet producers to dominate the market, supplying sucrose to food and soft drinks manufacturers.

They will lose the protection of the EU’s common agricultural policy, which has kept sugar prices high, blocked imports and imposed a production cap on fructose….

The market reforms take no account of their likely impact on health or their potential effect on those on the lowest incomes, according to Emilie Aguirre and colleagues from Cambridge University writing in the British Medical Journal….

So government must be kept bloated – so we can lose weight? How about we’ll just eat less – and pay less when we do? How about we have more trade – for less money?

How about we have billions of global individuals each make their own individual dietary decisions – and be able to make them with cheaper food as a part of the mix? And what about the billions of people around the world who can’t afford food – who will see this policy approach as a boon to, you know, not starving to death?

The media can’t stand for any of this sort of liberalized thinking. Their cacophony on this is, as always, of one note.

Campaigners Warn That a ‘Tsunami of Cheap Sugar’ is Heading to Europe

Agricultural Policy Reforms May Raise Sugar Intake, Harm Public Health

Liberalising Agricultural Policy for Sugar in Europe Risks Damaging Public Health

And get this:

Reforms to Agricultural Policy May Increase Sugar Consumption and Harm Public Health

Reforms to Agricultural Policy May Increase Sugar Consumption and Harm Public Health

The exact same headline – from two different stories. Not at all hive-mind-like. And get this:

The liberalisation of the sugar market in the EU may increase sugar consumption, particularly among the lowest socioeconomic groups, and damage public health across Europe and beyond….

The media is – with a straight face – actually reporting “Food gets cheaper – poorest hardest hit.”

The joke, as always, is on us.

[Originally published at Red State]


Categories: On the Blog

In The Tank Podcast (ep10): Halloween Fears, Costumes, and the GOP Debate

Somewhat Reasonable - October 30, 2015, 10:15 AM

In episode #10 of the In The Tank Podcast, Hosts Donny Kendal and John Nothdurft get into the Halloween spirit. This weekly podcast features (as always) interviews, debates, roundtable discussions, stories, and light-hearted segments on a variety of topics on the latest news. The show is available for download as part of the Heartland Daily Podcast every Friday.

In today’s episode of In The Tank, Donny and John discuss a number of Halloween-centric stories. These stories range from government attempts to ban the selling of eggs to minors in the lead up to Halloween to the common-held fears of the American public. John and Donny also give you  some last minute costume ideas. In the second half of the podcast, John and Donny break down the third GOP debate.

As promised -> Link to Peter Ferrara’s Power to the People

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
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