On the Blog

Chris Christie Wants to Track All Foreign Visitors ‘Like They Are a FedEx Package’ to Curtail Illegal Immigration

Somewhat Reasonable - August 29, 2015, 7:48 PM

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, once considered a moderate conservative candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, today proposed a very authoritarian policy: tracking all visitors on tourist visas as if they were a piece of mail set for overnight delivery. This will, he believes, prevent foreigners from overstaying their visa terms, one common form of illegal immigration to the U.S.

“At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane,” Christie said while campaigning in New Hampshire, whose state slogan is Live Free or Die. “Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them. So here’s what I’m going to do as president: I’m going to ask Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, to come work for the government for three months, just come for three months to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people.”

According to The Washington Post, remark sparked laughter and applause from the audience. “But it shows again how serious the Republican field of presidential contenders is about catching up to billionaire Donald Trump, whose campaign has been built in part on such tough talk,” the Post reported.

Whether the tracking would involve bar codes, biometrics, or chips embedded in the bodies of the foreign travelers, has not yet been disclosed by the Christie for President Campaign. To paraphrase the rock star Phil Collins, in his 1980s hit, henceforth, it’s no fun being an illegal alien.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Rep. Randy Hultgren, Other State, Local Officials Headlined Heartland’s ‘Open House’ Last week

Somewhat Reasonable - August 28, 2015, 4:37 PM

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), the mayor of Arlington Heights, Ill., and other influential state and local officials headlined last week’s “open house” at the new headquarters office of the Heartland Institute, a free market think tank.

Hultgren spoke on an array of national public policy issues, including the Iran nuclear power deal negotiated by the Obama administration, the GOP Congress’s failure to repeal Obamacare, and his support for federal science and technology laboratories, like the nearby Fermi Lab, a department of energy facility that employs many high-skilled workers locally.

The Congressman also had the crowd laughing with lighthearted childhood stories, growing up in this area, as the son of a local funeral home director.

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) with the president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, Joseph Bast, last week. Photo by MaryAnn McCabe.

Categories: On the Blog

Solyndra Executives Misled Federal Officials, Investigators Find

Somewhat Reasonable - August 28, 2015, 1:37 PM

President Obama committed, Monday, to financing a new generation of “alternative energy” industrialists under his Clean Power Plan, but one of the original Department of Energy program loan recipients, solar power company Solyndra, reportedly misled DOE officials in pursuit of government money, a federal investigators report has found.

According to the Energy Department’s Inspector General, who conducted a four-year investigation alongside the FBI, while Solyndra claimed that they had a guaranteed $2.2 billion in firm contracts for their innovative, cylindrical solar panels, Solyndra had quietly offered secret discounts to all of its customers, many of whom never made good on their full contracts.

According to the Washington Post:

Solyndra’s leaders engaged in a “pattern of false and misleading assertions” that drew a rosy picture of their company enjoying robust sales while they lobbied to win the first clean energy loan the new administration awarded in 2009, a lengthy investigation uncovered. The Silicon Valley start-up’s dramatic rise and then collapse into bankruptcy two years later became a rallying cry for critics of President Obama’s signature program to create jobs by injecting billions of dollars into clean energy firms…

Solyndra officials told the government in 2009, for example, that they had firm contracts to sell $2.2 billion worth of their unique cylindrical solar panels over the next five years. But behind the scenes, investigators found, Solyndra was struggling with customers who were balking at the high panel prices, arranging secret side deals to pay discounted prices and refusing to buy as many panels as they once promised.

In addition, investigators discovered that Department of Energy employees, in charge of reviewing Solyndra’s loan application, felt “pressure” from inside the Administration to approve the Solyndra loan, and so overlooked many of the warning bells in the application’s finer print.

If you recall, in one of his first acts in office, President Obama approved a whopping $787 billion federal stimulus program, part of which would be dedicated to funding upstart alternative energy companies. The Department of Energy was responsible for overseeing these loans, and many of the loans were awarded to major campaign donors and bundlers, rather than to deserving alternative energy programs. According to Peter Schweizer, $16.4 billion of the $20 billion in DOE loans granted went to “companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama backers,” members of his finance committee and Democratic National Committee mega-donors. The program itself was run by Steve Spinner, a major Obama donor and finance committee member who “happened” to join the DOE as their “chief strategic operations officer” after Obama’s 2008 campaign. Spinner was ultimately put in charge of the alternative energy loan program.

Solyndra was no exception to the crony rule; according to a report compiled for National Review, Solyndra’s biggest backer was the Kaiser Family Foundation, run by George Kaiser, a major donor to Obama’s campaign (at one event for Obama, Kaiser reportedly bundled more than a quarter million for Obama’s 2008 campaign). Kaiser Family Foundation’s primary investment arm is Argonaut Ventures LLC, which was also Solyndra’s largest shareholder. While the DOE was considering Solyndra’s loan, Kaiser himself visited the White House, and Solyndra officials had meetings with the President and his staff no fewer than 20 times. In the end, although Solyndra had been turned down for loans under the Bush Administration because of its questionable economics, and against the better judgment of specific officials at the DOE and Office of Management and Budget, Solyndra received $535 million in DOE loans, which they then used in an ill-fated effort to go public.

After Solyndra finally collapsed and shut its doors, the Administration and friendly Democrats in Congress were quick to deny any wrongdoing in the DOE loan process, blaming Solyndra’s abysmal failure on the economic downturn, and reassuring now skeptical taxpayers that Solyndra had at least created a “ripple” effect, sparking other solar energy companies to take on new and innovated processes. Taxpayers were left on the hook for about $527 million of the $535 million loan – but George Kaiser, whose investment company’s claim was ahead of the Federal government’s in the bankruptcy process, managed to recover most of their investment from auctioned assets, leaving nothing for taxpayers or the DOE to recover for their loans.

The Inspector General’s report goes into detail on exactly how Solyndra inflated it’s financial status, from offering its customers quiet discounts, to submitting income spreadsheets to clearly disinterested DOE analysts, to giving fake excuses to DOE consultants so investigators wouldn’t contact any real customers for their opinion. Solyndra, for its part, maintains that it provided all necessary information to the DOE, and that the DOE, not Solyndra, had rushed through the loan process in order to approve the money before a major press event – a now-infamous speech President Obama  gave at Solyndra’s California headquarters. The IG said it would not pursue a detailed investigation into political pressure the DOE may have felt from both Solyndra and the Administration, but did note that pressure was part of the reason they felt the DOE did not take appropriate measures in vetting the loan to begin with.

So far, the Department of Justice, despite seemingly having enough evidence to pursue a case in Califrnia, has so far declined to press charges for fraud against Solyndra and its executives. The Inspector General plans to press DOJ officials to take a second look at the case.

 

Categories: On the Blog

In The Tank Podcast: Outdated Laws, Colonies on Mars, and Candidates with Beards

Somewhat Reasonable - August 28, 2015, 11:12 AM

Donny Kendal and John Nothdurft host the first episode of the “In The Tank”, a weekly podcast that will feature interviews, debates, roundtable discussions, and stories and light hearted segments on a variety of topics on the latest news from a right of center perspective. The show will be available for download as a podcast every Friday.

In today’s episode, Donny and John talk about Michigan repealing dumb laws against embellishing the national anthem, what states tax “Sin” the most, the prospects of a free and privately funded Mars Colony, America’s welfare system being just as generous at Europe’s, and how Presidential candidates would fare in a “beard off”.

·         Michigan House Passes Package Repealing Outdated Laws

·         The States Most Dependent on Sin Taxes

·         Billionaires Wanted to Fund Private Mars Colony

·         The U.S. Is on Par With Many European Welfare States: Study

·         What Would 2016 U.S. Presidential Candidates Look Like With Beards?

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 atInTheTankPodcast@gmail.com or follow us on twitter @InTheTankPod.

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

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Scott Sumner: The Recent Volatility of the Stock Market

Somewhat Reasonable - August 27, 2015, 4:23 PM

In today’s episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, managing editor Jesse Hathaway talks with Mercatus Center monetary policy program director and Bentley University economics professor Scott Sumner about the American stock market’s recent up-and-down volatility, the increasing threat of an international economic recession, and how our country’s centralized banking policies make the problem worse.

The first step to solving a problem is setting goals, and Sumner explains how the Federal Reserve’s lack of measurable targets and tight grip on leads to an aimless attitude towards monetary policies. Instead of the current system of centralized control, Sumner proposes creating market-based controls responsive to the so-called “wisdom of the crowds.”

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

Categories: On the Blog

Florida Legislators Recognize Need for Flexibility, Choice in Special Education

Somewhat Reasonable - August 27, 2015, 11:12 AM

Brandon Berman is 17 years old and is one of the approximately 1,700 students participating in Florida’s Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) program. Brandon is autistic and has muscular dystrophy, seizures, spastic paraplegia, and a feeding tube, and he is most likely going to die from a brain tumor. He also has an unwavering desire to learn, and his parents have fought to make sure he gets that opportunity.

“He has a fatal diagnosis,” his mother, Donna Berman, recently told me by phone. “As long as he wants to learn and as long as I can give an education to him, I will.”

Florida’s PLSA program provides an education savings account for special-needs students and has proven to be a perfect solution for students like Brandon. Parents initially pay for approved educational services and then are reimbursed. Funding provided through the program can pay for everything from instructional materials to curriculum to approved specialized services and therapies.

This year Florida legislators have tripled the amount of money allocated for the program, raising funding from $18.4 million to $53.4 million. That’s enough money to help more than 5,000 students during the next school year. This year, the first year of the program, about 1,700 students received accounts.

Eligibility now includes three- and four-year-olds with diagnoses covered by the program. Students with muscular dystrophy and anywhere on the autism disorder spectrum will also be eligible. Previously, the state used a nonmedical definition of autism that excluded some autistic students. Part-time tutoring will now be an approved expense for children enrolled fulltime as private school or homeschool students.

These changes show Florida legislators have recognized the need for flexibility and choice when designing special-education funding. The rest of country should consider enacting similar legislation, because a program such as this makes an enormous difference to each family it serves.

The Berman family of Port Orange has tried almost every educational option available to special-needs students in Florida.

“We’ve tried all the routes of the school,” said Berman, a licensed practical nurse who has taught and cared for her son since his health began to decline. “We did the McKay Scholarship. We tried homebound options more than once. But four hours a week—four hours total of direct instruction with a teacher—it’s just not enough.”

The PLSA program allows Berman to tailor Brandon’s education. She can teach him while they wait in doctors’ offices. Berman says she has been successful in stretching the funding and making it cost-effective by carefully determining how to spend it.

“We learned all about fabric and then learned math and science through the sewing machine,” said Berman. “We’ve grown gardens. All the schools said he would never learn to read. They kept asking me why I continued to request a reading specialist and said he would never learn to read. Little did I know he knew how to read; he was just intimidated by the number of words on a page.”

Through a process of trial and error, Berman enlarged the size of the text on Brandon’s e-reader so the words visible on the screen were what would normally appear on a quarter of a page.

“It’s unfortunate that the public school system doesn’t see that not every child can be supported in a classroom,” said Berman. She says she knows there are good, hardworking teachers in many public schools but the education system prejudges some students and gives them less attention than they need.

“The PLSA has been an incredible gift,” said Berman. “It’s got great potential for children like mine who don’t fit into a specific program designed for special-needs students.”

Brandon recently insisted on reading a mystery book on his own without his mother’s help. The Boxcar Children books are now his favorites.

“I’ve seen him stand up taller,” said Berman. “I’ve seen him take pride again. It’s almost as if he didn’t feel he could succeed. He’s much more comfortable being included in things.”

Berman says there are misconceptions about the PLSA program.

“It’s not taking jobs away from people,” said Berman. “It’s not. It’s helping children. My son cannot be stuck in a caveman system when he has Space Age problems. We’re not making the schools go broke. It’s the same funding that would have been used for my son anyway, and now I have the funding to help him.”

Florida legislators deserve recognition for seeing the need to expand the PLSA program to help more families like the Bermans.

“No, he won’t be able to walk across a stage like other students,” Berman told me. “He won’t be able to collect a diploma with his peers, but his peers never really knew him because of the way the system is set up. He can just become the best him. And he does matter.”

[Originally published at Townhall]

Categories: On the Blog

Poorer Nations Set for 99% of Population Growth

Somewhat Reasonable - August 27, 2015, 9:09 AM

According to the new United Nations World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revisionthe population of the world is projected to rise from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 11.2 billion in 2100. This represents a 53 percent increase. However, over the period, population growth will moderate substantially. This is indicated by the annual growth rate the first year (2015 to 2016), at 1.1 percent, compared to the last year (2099 to 2100) at 0.1 percent. Annual population growth is projected to decline 90 percent from the beginning of the period to the end (Figure 1).

Growth by Continent

The distribution of growth among the continents will be anything but even. Approximately 83 percent of the growth is projected to be in Africa, which is to grow approximately 270 percent. Asia is expected to account for 13 percent of the world’s growth and add 11 percent to its population. Northern America (Note), while growing 40 percent is expected to account for four percent of the world’s population growth. Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to account for 2.2 percent of the world’s growth, and add 14 percent to their population. Europe (including all of Russia) is expected to decline in population by 13 percent (Figure 2).

Population Growth by Income Status

World population growth is expected to vary widely by current income status (Figure 3). Income status is indicated on page 137 of this United Nations publication.

The world’s high income nations are expected to add only eight percent (111 million) to their population and will represent only three percent of the population growth. These nations are principally in North America and Europe, but also include Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and others.

The world’s upper middle income nations are expected to experience a population decline of three percent, which amounts to a loss of 82 million residents. China, Russia, Mexico, South Africa, Iran and Brazil are examples of upper-middle income nations. When combined with the high income gain noted above the more affluent half of the world’s nations would add 29 million residents, or just 0.7 percent of the world’s growth. This is fewer people than live in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

This means that more than 99 percent of world growth from 2015 to 2100 is expected to be among the lower income nations. The lower middle income nations would gain 2 billion people, representing 52 percent of the population growth.  The lower-middle income nations include India, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Vietnam, Guatemala and others.

The lower income nations would gain 1.8 billion people, capturing 47 percent of the world’s growth. The lower income nations include Bangladesh, Tanzania, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others.

In the high income and upper middle income regions, population growth will be also anything but consistent. Nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia are expected to grow far faster. The United States is expected to add 40 percent to its population and more than four times the population growth of all of the upper half of nations. Canada (up 39 percent) and Australia (up 77 percent), combined, are expected to add more population than the total upper income half of nations.  These gains will be largely offset by losses in Japan, Germany, South Korea, Italy and others.

Largest Population by Nation

China, with the largest population in 2015, is expected to fall behind India in 2050 and remain in second place by 2100. India is expected to be the largest nation in both 2050 and 2100. However, India’s population will be less in 2100 than it was in 2050.

Eight of the 10 most populated nations, including India and China are expected to have a lower population in 2100 than in 2050 (Figure 4). Pakistan is expected to reach its population peak in 2095 and start declining in 2096. This leaves only the United States among today’s today’s 10 largest nations that is expected to be adding population in 2100. The growth rate between 2099 and 2100 (0.2 percent) is expected to be considerably below the growth rate at the beginning of the period (2015-2016), which was 0.7 percent.

By 2100, there are expected to be substantial changes to the top 10 nations in population. Five of the 10 largest nations in the world are expected to be in Africa. This is an increase from one in 2015 (Figure 5). Nigeria will have replaced the United States as the third largest nation, with approximately 750 million people, having more than quadrupled in size. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo – Kinshasa) would ranked fifth, and is expected to reach 390 million people, quintupling in size. Tanzania would ranked eighth, reaching 300 million residents, nearly 6 times its 2015 population. Ethiopia would have more than 240 million residents, 2.5 times its current population and would rank ninth. The 10th largest nation would be Niger, with 210 million residents, a figure 10 times its 2015 level. Among the African nations in the top 10, only Ethiopia would be declining by 2100, having reached its population peak in 2097.

Pakistan would retain its current sixth position, while Indonesia would fall from 4th to 7th. As noted above, India would be the largest nation in China would be second largest in 2100. By that date India would have an overall gain of approximately 350 million people from 2015, while China would lose 370 million people. The United States would add more than 125 million people. Brazil, which is currently ranked 5th, would lose approximately 10 million people and fall to 13th position. Eighth ranked Bangladesh, which was long among the fastest growing nations in the world, would gain only 10 million people and fall to 14th position. Russia, ranked 9th, would fall to 23rd, losing 25 million residents. Mexico, ranked 10th, would gain 20 million residents, and would be ranked 18th in 2100.

The Uncertainty of Projections

Of course projections of any kind are subject to wide error ranges. Economic growth, the extent of poverty, wars, social trends, medical advances and other factors can interfere. The simple fact is that none of us and no organization knows the future for sure. One study of UN population trends in six Southeast Asian nations found that 1980 projections from 1950 were 13.9 percent off by nation, with a range from minus 20 percent to plus 27 percent. There had been some improvement in comparing 1975 projections to 2000 actual populations, with an average error of 8.2 percent. The range was little improved, from minus 23 percent to plus 25 percent. Obviously projections are likely to be much more accurate in early years and the chances for greater accuracy are improved in larger nations or regions.

A World of Challenges

Regardless of the extent of accuracy, which cannot be known at this point, the projections indicate a continuation of trends that cause concern. A world that is experiencing virtually 100 percent of its growth in its poorest areas cannot help but face a tougher future. This makes it clear that the principal priority of governments around the world should be to improve affluence and reduce poverty. The challenges are gargantuan, but focusing on these issues is likely to result in a better, though less than ideal, world.

Note:  Northern America includes Canada, the United States, Greenland, Bermuda and the French territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Photograph: Western Railway Headquarters (Churchgate), Mumbai, India (by author)

Wendell Cox is Chair, Housing Affordability and Municipal Policy for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (Canada), is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (US), a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University (California) and principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm.

He is co-author of the “Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey” and author of “Demographia World Urban Areas” and “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.” He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

[Originally published at New Geography]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Government Grant Funding Corrupts Tobacco Research, Holds Back Scientific Inquiry

Somewhat Reasonable - August 26, 2015, 4:20 PM

Government ought to rely on unbiased scientific findings when making policy decisions regarding important issues. But unfortunately, many government agencies undermine the scientific process by using it for their own purposes rather than to discover the truth, a reality President Dwight Eisenhower pointed out in his farewell address more than a half-century ago. The situation has only become worse since then, with government funding of tobacco studies providing a vivid example.

Of course we all know tobacco use is harmful, but the important scientific question that remains is how best to help people quit or at least moderate their use and reduce the harm tobacco can do. Unfortunately, federal agencies are shortchanging science about harm reduction in favor of finding ways to force everyone to quit.

According to Dr. Brad Rodu, in 2014 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) doled out $623 million to more than 1,000 university researchers interested in advancing its stated goal of “a world free of tobacco use.” In one such solicitation for researchers willing to fit facts to dogma, NIH set aside $10 million for eight to 10 studies, provided those studies proved useful in helping the government “develop effective ways to limit the spread and promote cessation of smokeless tobacco use.”

Studies show smokeless tobacco is much less harmful than smoking, and hence it should be part of any harm-reduction strategy governments would pursue. That is the very opposite of what the NIH is doing.

his is a big problem because academic research has become highly dependent on government subsidies, which can prove very lucrative to both researchers and the universities that employ them. Government grants such as those from NIH cover the upfront cost of scientific inquiry, such as faculty and graduate student salaries and equipment purchases.

Those grants also cover administrative costs, which the university pockets. For example, a $1 million grant could provide the university itself with $250,000 in revenue for overhead.

Because NIH grants are so valuable to both researchers and the universities for whom they work, violating the dogma purveyed by government agencies is unprofitable. In turn, little to no tobacco harm reduction research is conducted, because there’s little money in exploring that particular line of inquiry.

Searching NIH’s Office of Extramural Research for available grants, I found no funding opportunities between January 1, 2013 and January 1, 2015 involving the words “tobacco harm reduction.” Searching for funding opportunities involving the terms “tobacco cessation,” revealed six grants were available, totaling at least $3.4 million or an average of more than $550,000 per grant. Two of the cessation-related grants had no specified upper limit.

Similarly, government agencies are themselves unduly influenced by the lure of big-money grants. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded members of its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) with between $53 million and $273 million in grants to fund their respective proposed studies, even though other studies were rated higher by FDA reviewers.

TPSAC member Jonathan Samet, a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, was one such recipient of government funding. FDA officials called its decision to give agency insiders as much as $273 million in funding “purely coincidental,” declining to explain further to Reuters reporters.

Government agencies’ dominance of academic funding perverts the scientific process, creating a situation where our knowledge begins with preapproved doctrine, proceeds to cherry-picked data, and ends with confirmation of the state-sponsored doctrine. By funding those studies that advance preapproved policy goals, government subsidization of academic research encourages researchers to twist the facts to fit the dollar signs.

Given their history of actively inserting policy objectives into the scientific process, government agencies such as FDA and NIH should be removed from the grant-funding business. Congress should rewrite their appropriations accordingly.

Funding studies expected to advance favored preexisting narratives and funding studies from favorite sons is not “science.” It’s political maneuvering at its worst. Dr. Brad Rodu, the Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville’s  James Graham Brown Cancer Center, has conducted extensive research on this topic. His research appears on his blog, Tobacco Truth, at http://rodutobaccotruth.blogspot.com/.

[A slightly different version of this essay was originally published by The Daily Caller.]
Categories: On the Blog

Greenpeace Workers Stage Strike, Walkout

Somewhat Reasonable - August 26, 2015, 3:02 PM

San Diego Greenpeace canvassers are leading a strike against the global environmental activism giant, claiming that Greenpeace has provided them little in the way of job security, and has violated what they believe to be fair labor policies.

According to the San Diego Free Press, 16 of 19 canvassers hired by Greenpeace to collect small-dollar donations and routine donation commitments have walked off the job and are currently “on strike.” The group accuses Greenpeace of “hypocricy,” claiming that while touting progressive ideals, Greenpeace benefits primarily from the work of a labor force that has no minimum wage and must meet donation quotas regularly to retain their employment.

The strike, led by two veteran canvassers in Socialist Alternative San Diego, comes against an organization that claims to be progressive. However, Greenpeace uses a quota system where even veteran fundraisers can be fired for missing quota two or three weeks consecutively. Senior workers bring in six or seven times their salary in recurring donations, yet are routinely fired. Morale is understandably very low. But choosing to resist, they have mobilized in defense of their jobs and dignity. Non-profits beware: the persuasive skills developed by your employees can be used against you. Instead of selling Greenpeace, organizers now sell the strike against it.

Tara Dawn, a strike member from the Sacramento field office, said “As a single mother, I work hard week in and week out not knowing if I’ll have a dependable paycheck to keep a roof over our heads. That is a very difficult reality to face. I love my job and the organization I work for, but myself and the all of the other canvassers deserve to see reform.”

They claim that senior and mid-level Greenpeace managers have formed a “Worker Elite,” and that Greenpeace’s vast network of managers are paid well enough that street-level canvassers, who collect names, small-dollar donations and multi-month donation commitments from San Diego residents should be given a “fair share.”

A cursory glance at Craiglist can give you a good idea of what the Greenpeace canvasser job entails. Greenpeace advertises a similar position in Los Angeles – a “frontline” worker – as a “full-time” job and lists only an hourly wage of $13-15 per hour, slightly more than the minimum wage. They do offer paid training time, bonuses for good performance, and a full benefits and leave package for those Greenpeace canvassers who maintain their employment for three months. Employees even get paid vacations and even mass transit subsidies. There is, however, no “job security” involved. You can’t have everything.

It’s not hard to believe that Greenpeace provides an excellent employment package. After all, the “non-profit” mega-group boasts a $360 million global budget, spending an average of $10 million per year on US operations alone. According to its recent 990 IRS filing, Greenpeace took in more than $32 million in 2014. Of course, you can’t please everyone.

Categories: On the Blog

Sustainability Movement Fosters Hotbeds of Liberal Indoctrination (Part 3)

Somewhat Reasonable - August 26, 2015, 12:51 PM

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil 

Common Core at the K -12 level in education is shifting and distorting education in many liberal ways, but what about the education being taught to our college age students?   We should be even more concerned about that group, as they will soon be part of society and influencing it very soon. The obvious concern is whether they too are part of the Liberal’s attempt to insert their socialist agenda into the curriculum and thus minds of America’s youth.

Brace yourself for the sad truth.  Our college and university campuses are actual hotbeds of liberal indoctrination, to a degree that should shock every reasonable American. Whether a parent or not, we all should demand an in-depth investigation and potential change in the college system which will guarantee more balance and objectivity.

It is essential that students be informed of all facts, encouraged to consider every option, and taught to listen to opposing arguments on any given subject (especially those which society identifies as controversial), in order to develop critical thinking skills that teach how to seek all facts and arrive at educated opinions to determine the truth.

Instead, college students are being indoctrinated with a strong liberal agenda, which excludes conservative arguments. Much of the teaching encompasses the edicts of United Nation’s Agenda 21, with “a specific and heavy emphasis on sustainability.”

Study by Peter Wood and Rachelle Peterson on sustainability and college campuses 

Through the study of college curriculum, Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, and Rachelle Peterson concluded that it was on college campuses where the sustainability movement gets its voice of authority and where it molds the views and commands the attention of young people. Their combined study resulted in Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism, published March 25, 2015.  In a June 12, 2015 article, “Sustainability’s War on Doubt”, Wood describes “sustainability” in a much broader sense, of which global warming is just one part of the whole.

“Sustainability” is not so much a call for the wise use of resources as it is a declaration against all forms of ‘exploitation’, such as exploiting the animal, mineral, and vegetable resources of the planet.  The sustainability movement embraces a fuzzy version of the Marxist idea that capitalism is essentially about human exploitation, and totally ignores the concepts of wealth creation, comparative advantage, and material progress.”

As expressed in the executive summary of Wood’s study, the following will be taught in sustainability programs offered at colleges and universities, and students will be exposed to the following liberal dogma of ideas and unproven claims:

1) Catastrophic manmade global warming is an indisputable fact, and switching to renewable energy from inexpensive and abundant fossil fuel energy is the only plausible answer; 2) that today’s society and economy are built on greed and waste, and thus we must rebuild society along progressive political lines; 3) that mass environmental activism is the way to achieve goals 1 and 2; and 4) that we must either persuade the skeptics or silence them.”  So far, we believe they have largely resorted to silencing the opposition by refusing to reveal the mounting evidence that refutes their arguments.

The Executive summary describes the sustainability movement from its origin to today’s application, which, in turn, will have important consequences for the future of this nation.  We must not allow the minds of our young people to be manipulated into conforming to this socialist political agenda that is at odds with our Constitution and the values and ideals upon which this nation was founded.

Consider the following:

  • The 1987 United Nations report, “Our Common Future”, better known as the Brundtland Report, ignited the sustainability movement by uniting environmentalism with hostility to free markets and demands for “social” justice.” Driving the initiative to make sustainability part of every course is the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), an effort launched by “Second Nature”  a group founded by John Kerry and Teresa Heinz. As of 2015, 697 college and universities have signed this commitment, which includes a pledge to “make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students.”
  • Beginning in 2007, the President’s Climate Commitment tapped the power of college presidents to set the agendas for their institutions.  Sustainability is now among the highest priorities at colleges and universities.  Colleges are currently ranked by their success in meeting sustainability goals. There seems no limit to the extent those behind this movement will go.  An example of this extremism is evident at the University of Virginia, where students are asked to pledge themselves to sustainability.  We could not find any example of the school requesting students to make a pledge to our flag or country.
  • Universities seek to use the campus as a “living laboratory” where students will not only learn about sustainability in the classroom, but will encounter it everywhere on campus.  The goal is to modify students’ values.  The question is whether parents, who have saved all their lives to send their children to college, know their children are being intentionally manipulated rather than taught.  There is no balance offered, only intense indoctrination to a specific “progressive” viewpoint embraced by the professors and others of their ilk.
  •  Nudging is a way of prodding students to do what activists want.  This technique was promoted in a 2008 bestseller, “Nudge”, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sustein.  There adherents contend people should be manipulated into making the choices that social planners think are the best options.  About 80 institutions hire student “eco-reps to shame their peers into riding a bike to classes or buying carbon offsets to make up for their flights home at Christmas.

Sustainability advances indoctrination to nurture Pavlovian responses 

The sustainability movement represents a significant shift in higher education:  from educating students with rational and moral knowledge that prepares them to make future prudent, conscious choices to that of an indoctrination program with the feverish goal of training operations designed to elicit Pavlovian responses.  The liberals call that progress.  We call it indoctrination that deprives students of opposing opinions and facts; thus limiting their ability to discern the truth.

Sustainability projects cost U.S. higher education schools nearly $3.4 billion per year.  Society is interested in reducing costs of education, so that more students can attend college and not be forced into borrowing money and accumulating debts before they even begin their careers.

As a remedy to soaring college tuition, George Will suggests the following: “Hundreds of millions could be saved, with no cost to any institution’s core educational mission, by eliminating every position whose title contains the word ‘sustainability’– and, while we are at it, ‘diversity,’ ‘multicultural’ or ‘inclusivity.’  The result would be higher education; higher than the propaganda-saturated version we have, and more sustainable.”

Mr. Will’s conclusions are correct. On campuses across the United States, where sustainability has become dogma, an honest investigation of global warming is nearly impossible.  Scientific debate requires openness, not conformity to a fixed theory exempt from external review. Instead, debate is discouraged, by the continual comment that Climate Change is “settled science”.  But what does that mean?  Of course Climate Change exists and has since the Earth began.  The question and demand for proof, is whether it is even possible for man to influence changes in Earth’s climate, before assuming it has done so.

young person attending Cornell will find that 13% of all Cornell’s undergraduate courses deal in one way or another with sustainability; at Colorado State University the percentage is 22%; and at Middlebury College in Vermont it is a full 25% of all courses offered.  Of all the “degree programs” in sustainability, offered worldwide, 95% of them are offered by colleges and universities in the U.S.   Unfortunately, out of 772 colleges and universities globally who are members of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), 90% of that membership – a whopping 694 of the colleges and universities are in the United States.

Wood’s “Sustainability’s War on Doubt?” states:

“As closed as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the New York Times are to expressions of alternative views, the typical college campus is even worse.  To agree to debate the pro-sustainability position would imply the existence of contrary arguments and evidence worthy of consideration.”  That is their excuse and no mention is made of the many scientists and scholars who disagree with the “elites” position, and who have serious facts to offer, which would be excellent contributions to an intensive debate.

Young people and parents and being hoodwinked and short-changed

Do young people really need to devote their education to the noble goal of saving the Earth, and, if so, saving it from what?  During the entire lives of most college students there has been no global warming.  Not withstanding, sustainability advocates prefer a campus on which they can expand their control over every detail of student life.  Many campuses have created “trayless cafeterias” in which students have to juggle their plates. Bottled water is similarly frowned on. Presented as energy saving, the intent is to prod students into thinking at every turn about the need to be sustainable.  Those students who disagree with the sustainability doctrine are made to feel shamed if they don’t conform to the latest “green” gimmick.  They are even considered a threat to society.

Parents are now tasked with deciding whether the excessive cost of a college education and their children’s obvious indoctrination to a liberal agenda is the best course for their lives.  Would the time and money be better spent on starting or investing in a business of interest?   How concerned are parents that schools are intruding into areas other than what is needed for a future career?    Is it the right of university professors to indoctrinate vulnerable students to their liberal social ideals, and are parents even aware that many college courses seek to instill the ideals of a movement that aims for drastic change in the way humanity relates to the natural world?  Do parents know or care what is happening in college classrooms?  Is the average taxpayer even aware of the intensive indoctrination?

Should our tax-funded universities be allowed to indoctrinate students with a controversial and disputed agenda that is presented from one viewpoint only?  Is it time for parents and all citizens to demand equality, thus allowing critical thinking to develop among students and hopefully even professors. There is nothing fair about current hiring practices in most colleges and universities that favor liberal professors at as high as a 9 to 1 ratio. With such liberal domination, Conservatives tend to seek other careers knowing they will be largely ignored, even shunned by those who dominate the world of academic today.  Conservatives claim they are not provided a fair chance to advance.  Thus the few in the system, who have opposing liberal viewpoints, rarely present them.  If we want fairness in our universities, taxpayers will have to demand changes in a variety of areas, beginning with an unbiased study and evaluation of the issue, and concluding with sweeping changes that emphasize equality and fairness in every area.

Bill Ayers and other professors of his ilk must be shown the back door. It is time to demand something more of America’s professors and colleges, rather than continue with the current expensive brain washing indoctrination by socialist/progressive instructors, who oppose our historical values and Constitution in favor of an agenda filled with disputable and unproven facts, most often created behind closed doors and within the United Nations.

Will American patriots call their elected officials and demand equitable changes?  Who among us will demand positive, historical values be reinstated, that credible arguments be presented in every classroom, and that liberal professors not be allowed to dominate our colleges and universities?

The future of our country hangs in the balance, and only those who have studied and remember history will know the impotence of taking action while we still have the opportunity to do so.

Please consider calling your representatives, at the state and federal level, asking, if not demanding equality.  Our institutions of higher learning need to be more conscious of fairness and diversity, within their hiring practices and certainly classroom curriculum and professors’ teachings, especially if they receive any government funding.  The one-sided liberal approach must cease and be replaced with opportunities to learn both sides of arguments on controversial issues.  Our children deserve an education, not an indoctrination!

Thorner/O’Neil:  Sustainability: The Overly Used Word intended to Silence Conservatives

Thorner/O’Neil:  Little Green Steps Reflect Sustainability in Education 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – EIF: Obamacare, Medicaid Expansion and Welfare Reform

Somewhat Reasonable - August 26, 2015, 12:05 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in to Heartland’s Emerging Issues Forum (EIF) held in Seattle, Washington. EIF brings together elected officials, policy analysts, and government affairs professionals from across the country. In this first panel, the speakers discuss the debate over the expansion of Medicaid, the future of Obamacare after the King vs Burwell decision, and how Certificate of Need laws are restricting competition amongst health care providers and driving up costs.

Speaking on this panel are Goldwater Institute Director of Healthcare Policy Naomi Lopez Bauman, Foundation for Government Accountability Senior Fellow Christina Herrera, and Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward. Moderating this panel is Heartland Government Affairs Director John Nothdurft.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Why I Left Greenpeace

Somewhat Reasonable - August 26, 2015, 11:19 AM

Video and description via Prager University:

Patrick Moore explains why he helped to create Greenpeace, and why he decided to leave it. What began as a mission to improve the environment for the sake of humanity became a political movement in which humanity became the villain and hard science a non-issue.

 

Categories: On the Blog

2015 Parent Power Index Released

Somewhat Reasonable - August 26, 2015, 11:11 AM

The Center for Education Reform (CER) has released its 2015 Parent Power Index (PPI). Each state receives a grade in school choice, charter schools, online learning, teacher quality, and transparency. The overall PPI score across the United States is only 68 percent, or a grade of D.

The top 10 states for parental power are:

  1. Indiana – 90%
  2. Florida – 89%
  3. Arizona – 88%
  4. District of Columbia – 83%
  5. Georgia – 81%
  6. Utah – 80%
  7. Louisiana – 79%
  8. Ohio – 78%
  9. Wisconsin – 78%
  10. Minnesota – 77%

Click the image below to see exactly where your state ranks for parental empowerment.

CER provides the PPI to provide as much information to parents as possible. They do not judge whether laws or good or bad. From CER’s website:

“Parent Power” means giving parents Access to quality educational Options and providing them with good Information to make smart decisions about their children’s education. The Parent Power Index (PPI) measures the ability in each state of a parent to exercise choices – no matter what their income or child’s level of academic achievement – engage with their local school and board, and have a voice in the systems that surround their child. The Parent Power Index gives parents an interactive tool to discover whether the state affords them power –and if not, what they can do to get it.

The Index does not score whether a state’s education laws are good or bad, but rather, for example, if those policies allow a maximum number of parents to actually make choices. The following “elements of power” provide a framework for evaluating and scoring state policies and practices that either ensure or limit Parent Power in the U.S.

CER even provides its scoring rubric if you want to learn how their researchers calculate the CER grades. View the rubric here.

Categories: On the Blog

How Google Can Rig Everything in Washington, D.C. – and All Around the World

Somewhat Reasonable - August 25, 2015, 4:07 PM

Let us ponder for a moment who and what Google is. Google has made tens of billions of dollars – being all up in your business. Uber-efficiently doing what governments the world over have for centuries only at best bumblingly attempted – accumulating reams and reams of data on millions and millions of people.

Google is a private company. These millions of people voluntarily use its products – and expose themselves to Google’s data probes. Thoughtlessly clicking “Yes” in approval of the multi-page disclaimers that appear before them – when they are actually given that opportunity. If you use Google to search, for instance – you receive no such precursory heads-up.

 

Again, Google is a private company. Thus caveat quaero applies – “let the searcher beware.” But Google is amongst other things taking huge advantage of decades of trial lawyers’ cumulative handiwork. A rational, non-lawsuit-preemptive disclosure form would be shorter, truly informative – and much more widely read. Google benefits from – and revels in – the blurring legalese.

Google’s data-capture business has been unbelievably successful. Good on them. But they have used that model to cultivate another – huge government cronyism. Which ain’t quite so hot for us. And no one has been more receptive and reciprocal than President Barack Obama and his Administration. A man Google twice uber-helped get elected – in large part by using its massive data caches.

 

Pre-Obama, Google spent a decade – and lots and lots of money – funding the outside-in push to get Network Neutrality and a full government takeover of the Internet. Google didn’t get its desired power grab – until the three Obama-appointed Democrat bureaucrats on the Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unilaterally imposed it.

For Google – lesson learned. Why lobby for policy on the outside – when you can shape it from the inside? Thus, the staff-swapping revolving door between Google and the Obama Administration is longVery longUnbelievably long.

Which leads us to another fundamental aspect of the Google business model – theftLots of theftLots and lots of theft. It steals physical property – and intellectual property. So what does Google do in DC? Have their campaign-contributed elected officials and hand-selected appointed officials transmogrify their illegal activities – into legal ones.

For instance, Google steals lots of patented stuff. So after a decade spent funding Democrats, they dump money into Republicans – and suddenly get the magically bipartisan, horribly misnamed Innovation Act. A bill that will make it much easier for Google to steal patented stuff. Oh – and guess who is currently head of the Administration’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office? Michelle Lee – whose last gig was Head of Patents and Patent Strategy for…Google.

But why work outside-in – or even inside-out – when you can preemptively choose who will be inside?

 

How Google Could Rig the 2016 Election

Google has the ability to drive millions of votes to a candidate with no one the wiser.

America’s next president could be eased into office not just by TV ads or speeches, but by Googles secret decisions….

Google acknowledges adjusting (its search) algorithm 600 times a year, but the process is secret….

Google’s search algorithm can easily shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more—up to 80 percent in some demographic groups—with virtually no one knowing they are being manipulated….

Given that many elections are won by small margins, this gives Google the power, right now, to flip upwards of 25 percent of the national elections worldwide. In the United States, half of our presidential elections have been won by margins under 7.6 percent, and the 2012 election was won by a margin of only 3.9 percent—well within Googles control….

So as huge as the headline is – it is WAY underselling it. Google can execute this manipulation in almost any election in almost any country on the planet.

And it isn’t just elections. Google can manipulate the results you see – on ANYTHING. Any candidate or elected official. Any legislation or policy. They can shape what people here and all over the world see – and don’t see. On EVERYTHING.

The only real way to avoid becoming enmeshed in Google’s web – is to not use Google. There are lots of other providers for all the stuff Google provides. Providers who aren’t quite so nakedly political and politically connected – and abusive thereof.

Now you know – caveat quaero.

 

[Originally published at Red State]

 

Categories: On the Blog

EPA Won’t Turn Over Mine Spill Docs to Congressional Committee

Somewhat Reasonable - August 25, 2015, 3:57 PM

The Environmental Protection Agency may have spilled millions of gallons of toxic waste into a Colorado river, but EPA officials see no need to share any official documents pertaining to the Gold King Mine disaster, leaving Congressional investigators and Colorado residents in the dark.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee gave the EPA until this morning to hand over pertinent materials related to their “cleanup” operations in Colorado’s mine country. At the deadline, the EPA failed to turn over even a single document.

Via Watchdog.org:

A congressional committee blasted the Environmental Protection Agency today for blocking release of documents related to the Gold King mine disaster, which poured deadly chemicals into the largest source of drinking water in the West.

“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the EPA failed to meet the House Science Committee’s reasonable deadline in turning over documents pertaining to the Gold King Mine spill,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). “These documents are essential to the Committee’s ongoing investigation and our upcoming hearing on Sept. 9. But more importantly, this information matters to the many Americans directly affected in western states, who are still waiting for answers from the EPA.”

Congressional investigators are most concerned with why the EPA failed to notify people living along the Animus Rivers’ banks that their drinking water, which they also give to cattle and other livestock, was contaminated with heavy metals and other mine remnants. They would also like to know why the EPA has failed to identify the contractor responsible for the EPA’s “cleanup operation,” as well as why EPA head Gina McCarthy jetted off to Japan for a “Climate Change” conference, while there was a massive environmental disaster brewing at home.

Congress will hold a hearing on September 9th, to address the EPA’s malfeasance in both the initial mine cleanup effort and in the weeks that followed. State Senators in Utah are also investigating whether the EPA’s negligence was part of a plan to declare parts of Colorado and Utah a ‘Superfund’ site, triggering special federal regulatory power over the area, as well as special funding for the EPA.

Categories: On the Blog

Oil’s Down, Gasoline Isn’t. What’s Up?

Somewhat Reasonable - August 25, 2015, 3:48 PM

A little more than a year ago, oil prices were above $100 a barrel. The national average for gasoline was in the $3.50 range. In late spring, oil was $60ish and the national average for gas was around $2.70. The price of a barrel of oil has plunged to $40 and below—yet, prices at the pump are just slightly less than they were when oil was almost double what it is today.

Oil and gasoline prices usually travel up or down in sync. But a few weeks ago the trend lines crossed and oil continued the sharp decline while gasoline has stayed steady—even increasing.

Oil’s down, gasoline isn’t. Consumers are wondering: “What’s up?”

Even Congress is grilling refiners over the disparity.

While, like most markets, the answer is complicated, there are some simple responses that even Congress should be able to understand. The short explanation is “refineries”—but there’s more to that and some other components, too.

Within the U.S. exists approximately 20 percent of the world’s refining capacity. Fuel News explains that “on a perfect day,” these domestic facilities could process more than 18 million barrels of crude oil. But due, in large part, to an anti-fossil fuel attitude, it is virtually impossible to get a new refinery permitted in America. Most refineries today are old—the newest major one was completed in 1977. Most are at least 40 years old and some are more than 100. Despite signs of aging, refining capacity has continued to grow. Instead of producing at 70 percent capacity, as they were as little as a decade ago, most now run at 90 percent. They’ve become Rube Goldberg contraptions that have been modified, added on to, and upgraded. The system is strained.

To keep operating, these mature refineries need regular maintenance—usually done on the shoulders of the busy driving seasons and when systems need to be reconfigured for the different winter and summer blends. Even then, things break. Sometimes a quick repair can keep it up and running until the scheduled maintenance—known as “turnaround.” Sometimes, not. Fixing the equipment failures on the aging facilities can take weeks.

This year, several unexpected maintenance issues happened in the spring. Other refineries worked overtime to make up the shortage. That, plus low crude prices, means that many refiners didn’t shutdown for the usual spring turnaround. Fuel News notes, potential profit encouraged refiners to “get while the getting’s good.”

This pedal-to-the-metal approach is catching up with the sagging systems. On August 8, BP’s Whiting, IN, refinery, the largest supplier of gasoline in the Midwest, faced an unplanned shutdown due to a leak and possible fire hazard in its Pipestill 12 distillation unit—which processes about 40 percent of its 413,000 barrel per day capacity.

The closure of the largest of Whiting’s three units caused an immediate jump in gasoline prices in the Midwest. Stockpiles were drawn down to fill demand during summer’s peak driving season. Gasoline has been moved—via pipeline, truck, and train—from other parts of the country to balance out supply. So, while the biggest price increase was in states like Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois, prices raised nationwide beginning on August 11.

Meanwhile, because the Whiting plant wasn’t sucking up crude oil, its supplies grew and drove crude prices down further—hitting a six-year low. The Financial Times reports: “An outage at Whiting’s main crude distillation unit could add almost 1m [million] barrels to Cushing [The OK oil trading and storage center] every four days as long as it is out.”

Making matters worse, another Midwest refinery, Marathon’s Robinson, IL, 212,000 barrels per day facility is down for repairs that are expected to take two months.

Others smaller outages include Philadelphia Energy Solutions and the Coffeyville Resources’ refinery in Kansas. BloombergBusiness states: “As many as seven other Midwest refineries could shut units for extended time this fall.” Though, other reports indicate that some of the planned maintenance may be put off due to profit margins that are at a seven-year high.

Adding to the price increases due to refinery issues, are two other factors—both having to do with the calendar.

First, we are almost to Labor Day, which is considered the end of the summer driving season. It is when families make that one last trip to the lake or to visit grandma—which always causes a jump in demand that tightens supplies. This year, with two big refineries down, the usual spike could well be exacerbated.

The other is hurricane season. While we are just past its peak, we’ve only had one hurricane so far: Hurricane Danny—which last week was barreling toward the Northern Caribbean islands, with potential to hit the refinery-rich Gulf Coast. On Friday August 21, it moved from Tropical Storm Danny to Category 3 Hurricane status. It has since weakened, but its presence caused risk and supply concerns.

High summer-driving demands and unscheduled refinery repairs have combined to reduce supply of gasoline, and raise the price, thus the need for crude oil—especially in the Midwest—is down. Crude oil inventories at the Cushing hub continue to increase and add to the current oversupply and slide in oil prices.

While there’s some other contributing factors, the current mix of supply and demand explains: “what’s up?” The lack of new refineries punishes the whole system. Gasoline prices are up—hurting consumers. Crude prices are down—hurting producers.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Climate Crisis, Inc.

Somewhat Reasonable - August 25, 2015, 2:10 PM

$1.5 trillion and Larry Bell book explain how profiteers of climate doom keep the money flowing

No warming in 18 years, no category 3-5 hurricane hitting the USA in ten years, seas rising at barely six inches a century: computer models and hysteria are consistently contradicted by Real World experiences.

So how do White House, EPA, UN, EU, Big Green, Big Wind, liberal media, and even Google, GE and Defense Department officials justify their fixation on climate change as the greatest crisis facing humanity? How do they excuse saying government must control our energy system, our economy and nearly every aspect of our lives – deciding which jobs will be protected and which ones destroyed, even who will live and who will die – in the name of saving the planet? What drives their intense ideology?

The answer is simple. The Climate Crisis & Renewable Energy Industry has become a $1.5-trillion-a-year business! That’s equal to the annual economic activity generated by the entire US nonprofit sector, or all savings over the past ten years from consumers switching to generic drugs. By comparison, annual revenues for much-vilified Koch Industries are about $115 billion, for ExxonMobil around $365 billion.

According to a 200-page analysis by the Climate Change Business Journal, this Climate Industrial Complex can be divided into nine segments: low carbon and renewable power; carbon capture and storage; energy storage, like batteries; energy efficiency; green buildings; transportation; carbon trading; climate change adaptation; and consulting and research. Consulting is a $27-billion-per-year industry that handles “reputation management” for companies and tries to link weather events, food shortages and other problems to climate change. Research includes engineering R&D and climate studies.

The $1.5-trillion price tag appears to exclude most of the Big Green environmentalism industry, a $13.4-billion-per-year business in the USA alone. The MacArthur Foundation just gave another $50 million to global warming alarmist groups. Ex-NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chesapeake Energy gave the Sierra Club $105 million to wage war on coal (shortly before the Club began waging war on natural gas and Chesapeake Energy, in what some see as poetic justice). Warren Buffett, numerous “progressive” foundations, Vladimir Putin cronies and countless companies also give endless millions to Big Green.

Our hard-earned tax dollars are likewise only partially included in the CCBJ tally. As professor, author and columnist Larry Bell notes in his new book, Scared Witless: Prophets and profits of climate doom, the U.S. government spent over $185 billion between 2003 and 2010 on climate change items – and this wild spending spree has gotten even worse in the ensuing Obama years. We are paying for questionable to fraudulent global warming studies, climate-related technology research, loans and tax breaks for Solyndra and other companies that go bankrupt, “climate adaptation” foreign aid to poor countries, and much more.

Also not included: the salaries and pensions of thousands of EPA, NOAA, Interior, Energy and other federal bureaucrats who devote endless hours to devising and imposing regulations for Clean Power Plans, drilling and coal mining bans, renewable energy installations, and countless Climate Crisis, Inc. handouts. A significant part of the $1.9 trillion per year that American businesses and families pay to comply with mountains of federal regulations is also based on climate chaos claims.

Add in the state and local equivalents of these federal programs, bureaucrats, regulations and restrictions, and we’re talking serious money. There are also consumer costs, including the far higher electricity prices families and businesses must pay, especially in states that want to prove their climate credentials.

The impacts on companies and jobs outside the Climate Crisis Industry are enormous, and growing. For every job created in the climate and renewable sectors, two to four jobs are eliminated in other parts of the economy, studies in Spain, Scotland and other countries have found. The effects on people’s health and welfare, and on overall environmental quality, are likewise huge and widespread.

But all these adverse effects are studiously ignored by Climate Crisis profiteers – and by the false prophets of planetary doom who manipulate data, exaggerate and fabricate looming catastrophes, and create the pseudo-scientific basis for regulating carbon-based energy and industries into oblivion. Meanwhile, the regulators blatantly ignore laws that might penalize their favored constituencies.

In one glaring example, a person who merely possesses a single bald eagle feather can be fined up to $100,000 and jailed for a year. But operators of the wind turbine that killed the eagle get off scot-free. Even worse, the US Fish & Wildlife Service actively helps Big Wind hide and minimize its slaughter of millions of raptors, other birds and bats every year. It has given industrial wind operators a five-year blanket exemption from the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Migratory Birds Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act. The FWS even proposed giving Big Wind a 30-year exemption.

Thankfully, the US District Court in San Jose, CA recently ruled that the FWS and Interior Department violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws, when they issued regulations granting these companies a 30-year license to kill bald and golden eagles. But the death tolls continue to climb.

Professor Bell’s perceptive, provocative, extensively researched book reviews the attempted power grab by Big Green, Big Government and Climate Crisis, Inc. In 19 short chapters, he examines the phony scientific consensus on global warming, the secretive and speculative science and computer models used to “prove” we face a cataclysm, ongoing collusion and deceit by regulators and activists, carbon tax mania, and many of the most prominent but phony climate crises: melting glaciers, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, disappearing species and declining biodiversity. His articles and essays do likewise.

Scared Witless also lays bare the real reasons for climate fanaticism, aside from lining pockets. As one prominent politician and UN or EPA bureaucrat after another has proudly and openly said, their “true ambition” is to institute “a new global order” … “ global governance” … “redistribution of the world’s resources” … an end to “hegemonic” capitalism … and “a profound transformation” of “attitudes and lifestyles,” energy systems and “the global economic development model.”

In other words, these unelected, unaccountable US, EU and UN bureaucrats want complete control over our industries; over everything we make, grow, ship, eat and do; and over every aspect of our lives, livelihoods, living standards and liberties. And they intend to “ride the global warming issue” all the way to this complete control, “even if the theory of global warming is wrong” … “even if there is no scientific evidence to back the greenhouse effect” … “even if the science of global warming is all phony.”

If millions of people lose their jobs in the process, if millions of retirees die from hypothermia because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly, if millions of Africans and Asians die because they are denied access to reliable, affordable carbon-based electricity – so be it. Climate Crisis, Inc. doesn’t care.

Free market principles do not apply, and free marketers need not apply. The global warming industry survives and thrives only because of secretive, fraudulent climate science; constant collusion between regulators and pressure groups; and a steady stream of government policies, regulations, preferences, subsidies and mandates – plus taxes and penalties on its competitors. CCI gives lavishly to politicians who keep the gravy train on track, while its attack dogs respond quickly, aggressively and viciously to anyone who dares to challenge its orthodoxies, perks, power and funding.

Climate change has been “real” throughout Earth and human history – periodically significant, sometimes sudden, sometimes destructive. It is driven by the sun and other powerful, complex, interacting natural forces that we still do not fully understand … and certainly cannot control. It has little or nothing to do with the carbon dioxide that makes plants grow faster and better, and is emitted as a result of using fossil fuels that have brought countless, wondrous improvements to our environment and human condition.

Climate Crisis, Inc. is a wealthy, nasty behemoth. But it is a house of cards. Become informed. Get involved. Fight back. And elect representatives – and a president – who also have the backbone to do so.

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

Categories: On the Blog

California: “Land of Poverty”

Somewhat Reasonable - August 25, 2015, 2:01 PM

For decades, California’s housing costs have been racing ahead of incomes, as counties and local governments have imposed restrictive land-use regulations that drove up the price of land and dwellings. This has been documented by both Dartmouth economist William A Fischel and the state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Middle income households have been forced to accept lower standards of living while less fortunate have been driven into poverty by the high cost of housing.Housing costs have risen in some markets compared to others that the federal government now publishes alternative poverty estimates (the Supplemental Poverty Measure), because the official poverty measure used for decades does not capture the resulting differentials. The latest figures, for 2013, show California’s housing cost adjusted poverty rate to be 23.4 percent, nearly half again as high as the national average of 15.9 percent.

Back in the years when the nation had a “California Dream,” it would have been inconceivable for things to have gotten so bad — particularly amidst what is widely hailed as a spectacular recovery. The 2013 data shows California to have the worst housing cost adjusted poverty rate among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. But it gets worse. California’s poverty rate is now more than 50 percent higher than Mississippi, which long has set the standard for extreme poverty in the United States (Figure 1).

The size of the geographic samples used to estimate the housing adjusted poverty rates are not sufficient for the Supplemental Poverty Measure to produce local, county level or metropolitan area estimates. However, a new similar measure makes that possible.

The California Poverty Measure                           

The Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality have collaborated to establish the “California Poverty Measure,” which is similar to the Supplemental Poverty Measure adjusted for housing costs.

The press release announcing release of the first edition (for 2011) said that: “California, often thought of as the land of plenty” in the words Center on Poverty and Inequality director Professor David Grusky, is “in fact the land of poverty.”

The latest California Poverty Measure estimate, for 2012, shows a statewide poverty rate of 21.8 percent, somewhat below the Supplemental Poverty Measure and well above the Official Poverty Measure that does not adjust for housing costs (16.5 percent).

The California Poverty Measure also provides data for most of California’s 58 counties, with some smaller counties combined due to statistical limitations. This makes it possible to estimate the California Poverty Measure for metropolitan areas, using American Community Survey data.

Metropolitan Area Estimates

By far the worst metropolitan area poverty rate was in Los Angeles, at 25.3 percent. The Los Angeles County poverty rate was the highest in the state at 26.1 percent, well above that of Orange County (22.4 percent), which constitutes the balance of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. However, the Orange County rate was higher than that of any other metropolitan area or region in the state (Figure 2). San Diego’s poverty rate was 21.7 percent. Perhaps surprisingly, Riverside-San Bernardino (the Inland Empire), which is generally perceived to have greater poverty, but with lower housing costs, had a rate of 20.9 percent. The two counties, Riverside and San Bernardino had lower poverty rates than all Southern California counties except for Ventura (Oxnard) and Imperial.

The San Francisco metropolitan area had a poverty rate of 19.4 percent, more than one-fifth below that of Los Angeles. San Jose has a somewhat lower poverty rated 18.3 percent (Note 1). The metropolitan areas making constituting the exurbs of the San Francisco Bay Area had a poverty rate of 18.7 percent. This includes Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Stockton and Vallejo. Sacramento had the lowest poverty rate of any major metropolitan area, at 18.2 percent.

The San Joaquin Valley, stretching from Bakersfield through Fresno to Modesto (Stockton is excluded because it is now a San Francisco Bay Area exurb) had a poverty rate of 21.3 percent, slightly below the state wide average of 21.8 percent. The balance of the state, not included in the metropolitan areas and regions described above had a poverty rate of 21.2 percent.

County Poverty Rates

As was noted above, Los Angeles County had the highest 2012 poverty rate in the state (Note 2), according to the California Poverty Measure (26.1 percent). Tulare County, in the San Joaquin Valley had the second-highest rate at 25.2 percent. Somewhat surprisingly, San Francisco County with its reputation for high income had the third worst poverty rate in the state at 23.4 percent. This is driven, at least in part, by San Francisco’s extraordinarily high median house price to household income ratio (median multiple). In this grisly statistic, it trails only Hong Kong, Vancouver and Sydney in the latest Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.Wealthy Santa Barbara County has the fourth worst poverty rate in the state, at 23.8 percent. The fifth highest poverty rate is in Stanislaus County, in the San Joaquin Valley (county seat Modesto), which is already receiving housing refugees from the San Francisco Bay Area, unable to pay the high prices (Figure 3).

The two lowest poverty rates were in suburban Sacramento counties (Note 2). Placer County’s rate was 13.2 percent and El Dorado County’s rate was 13.3 percent. Another surprise is Imperial County, which borders Mexico and has generally lower income. Nonetheless, Imperial County has the third lowest poverty rate at 13.4 percent. Shasta County (county seat Redding), located at the north end of the Sacramento Valley is ranked fourth at 14.8 percent. Two counties are tied for the fifth lowest poverty rate (16.0 percent), Marin County in suburban San Francisco and Napa County, in the exurban San Francisco Bay Area (Figure 4).

Weak Labor Market and Notoriously Expensive Housing

The original Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality press release cited California’s dismal poverty rate as resulting from “a weak labor market and California’s notoriously expensive housing.” These are problems that can be moderated starting at the top, with the Governor and legislature. The notoriously expensive housing could be addressed by loosening regulations that allow more supply to be built at lower cost. True, the new supply would not be built in Santa Monica or Palo Alto. But additional, lower cost housing on the periphery, whether in Riverside County, the High Desert exurbs of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, the San Francisco Bay Area exurbs or the San Joaquin Valley could begin to remedy the situation.

The improvement in housing affordability could help to strengthen the weak job market, by attracting both new business investment and households moving from other states.

Regrettably, Sacramento does not seem to be paying attention. Liberalizing land use regulations is not only absent from the public agenda, but restrictions are being strengthened (especially under the requirements of Senate Bill 375). In this environment, metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego could become even more grotesquely unaffordable, and the already high price to income ratios in the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley could worsen. All of this could lead to slower economic growth and to even greater poverty, as more lower-middle-income households fall into poverty.

Note 1: San Benito County is excluded from the San Jose metropolitan area data. The California Poverty Measure does not report a separate poverty rate for San Benito County.

Note 2: Among the counties for which specific poverty rates are provided.

Wendell Cox is Chair, Housing Affordability and Municipal Policy for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (Canada), is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (US), a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University (California) and principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm.

He is co-author of the “Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey” and author of “Demographia World Urban Areas” and “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.” He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

Photograph: Great Seal of the State of California by Zscout370 at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

 

[Originally published at New Geography

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Heather Kays: Heartland’s Move and the Candidates’ Views on Education

Somewhat Reasonable - August 25, 2015, 1:42 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in as Research Fellow Heather Kays appears on the “Freedom Works Show” on Tantalk1340 in Florida with host Paul Molloy. Kays was on to talk about Heartland’s move as well as where the presidential candidates stand on education issues.

The Heartland Institute recently relocated its office to Arlington Heights, a north-west suburb of Chicago. Kays calls in from the grand opening to talk to Molloy. Kays discusses some of the reasons for the move as well as some of the current education issues. Specifically, Kays breaks down candidate Jeb Bush’s stances and tells where he is right and where he is wrong.

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

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Rob Natelson: Article V Constitutional Convention

Somewhat Reasonable - August 24, 2015, 3:04 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News spoke with Rob Natelson. Natelson is a senior fellow at the Independence Institute and a former Constitutional Law professor at three different universities. He and Burnett spoke about the history and the practicality of an Article V Constitutional convention.

Natelson is one of the foremost scholars concerning the Constitutional amendment process in general and Article V conventions of the States in particular. In their discussion, Natelson provides a historical analysis of what an Article V convention is, why it was put into the Constitution, how it functions, and how they have been used or not used, so far.

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

Categories: On the Blog
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