On the Blog

Citibank Report Claims Slowing ‘Global Warming’ With ‘Investments’ in Renewable Energy Will ‘Save’ Trillions of Dollars for the Economy

Somewhat Reasonable - 1 hour 22 min ago

A new report by a division of Citibank, America’s third largest bank, indicates that the cost of doing nothing on global warming is essentially the same as the expense of enacting a transition to a “low-carbon” economy. According to an approving article in The Guardian, the Leftist U.K. daily, Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions (GPS), recently published a study examining the economic costs and possible benefits of the “low-carbon future” scenario for the world economy.

The Citi report considered two possibilities: “inaction,” or continuing on the current path, and an “action” scenario, involving shifting to a low-carbon energy economy.

“What is perhaps most surprising is that looking at the potential total spend on energy over the next quarter century, on an undiscounted basis the cost of following a low carbon route at $190.2 trillion is actually cheaper than our ‘inaction’ scenario at $192 trillion. This, as we examine in this chapter, is due to the rapidly falling costs of renewables, which combined with lower fuel usage from energy efficiency investments actually result in significantly lower long-term fuel bill. Yes, we have to invest more in the early years, but we potentially save later, not to mention the liabilities of climate change that we potentially avoid,” the paper reports.

Citi claims the cost of forceful, government-centered action would be $190.2 trillion and the price of market-oriented inaction would come in at $192 trillion.

Of course, the report neglects to include figures about likely cost overruns of any government-funded program, which, like Solyndra, the solar energy start-up, wind up costing more than even the most pessimistic minds could ever imagine. Is Citibank now shilling for the Global Left? With billions of dollars likely available to finance solar, wind, and other alternative energy projects from the Obama administration, to implement this fall’s coming accords from Paris, that is a safe bet. Someone has to manage that money, and it might as well be the sensible (and Democratic Party-connected) ruling class lads at Citibank, right? With the U.S. treasury as its own potential ATM, global warming presents many a joy-filled possible scenario for Citi. But probably not for the average American taxpayer.

Citibank eyes the U.S. Treasury as its own ATM for global warming cash advances.

 

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Peter Ferrara: Legal and Economic Concerns of Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Somewhat Reasonable - September 01, 2015, 2:40 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, managing editor of Environment & Climate News, H. Sterling Burnett speaks with Peter Ferrara. Ferrara is a Heartland Senior Fellow and author of the newly released book, Power to the People. Ferrara joins Burnett to discuss the legal and economic concerns he has with Obama’s clean power plan.

Ferrara explains that the plan has a particularly regressive, pernicious and disparate impact on the poor, minorities and those on fixed incomes. In addition, he compares and contrasts Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) energy proposals to President Obama’s energy policies.

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

Categories: On the Blog

E-Cigarettes Not a Path to Smoking

Somewhat Reasonable - September 01, 2015, 2:20 PM

In an editorial calling for regulations which would put obstacles in front of adults who seek to quit smoking by switching to e-cigarettes, The Sun’s editorial board relies on a powerfully debunked innuendo and preposterous logic (“Teens and e-cigarettes,” Aug. 23).

The basis for the paper’s concern that e-cigarettes cause teens to smoke cigarettes is entirely unfounded. In fact, the small survey the piece cites acknowledges that an association between teen experimentation with e-cigarette use and subsequent smoking is not causal. In fact, teens who are likely to try e-cigarettes are the very teens already at risk for trying smoking, accounting for any association.

In fact, in a landmark government report released this month, the United Kingdom’s Public Health England found that “there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers.”

Regardless, as The Sun points out, there’s no debate: teens shouldn’t vape. That’s why local, state, and soon-to-be-finalized federal regulations forbid it unconditionally.

But the piece argues without basis that Maryland should regulate e-cigarettes as if they were tobacco products like cigarettes. Why? Because allowing adults to use e-cigarettes — even in bars where teens don’t hang out — would somehow lead youth to vaping. That’s not only silly, it is potentially harmful because it suggests that the two very different products are equally harmful to adults. The UK study found that e-cigarettes “have the potential to make a significant contribution to the endgame for tobacco.” This will only be possible for Marylanders if state regulations are based in science and reality.

 

[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

Assault by Government: Draining the Capital Pool

Somewhat Reasonable - September 01, 2015, 1:53 PM

David Lee Roth – the original lead singer of mega-rock group Van Halen – gave us an excellent assessment of the value of coin: “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.”

What this amusingly quantifies is that money is a vital component of any and everything we do. Certainly for how we (allegedly – used to) organize our economy. “Capital” is the fundamental element of capital-ism. It is the engine that drives our yachts – right up alongside the happiness we all pursue.

Those opposed to capitalism understand this. Thus they look to drain the private capital pool – by any means necessary. They know every penny spent on government is a penny not much better used making everything better, faster and cheaper – and our lives simply better and better. And they know their prolonged, multiplicative attacks will ultimately bring down their capitalism bete noire.

Taxes are the overt way government removes capital. The more it takes – the less we all have to do all of the things that make capitalism work. The Barack Obama Administration has been repeatedly setting records for tax money taken. The federal take in 2015 is projected to be yet another record – $3.2 trillion. The entire economy – the combined productivity of every single man, woman and child – is $17.4 trillion. The Feds are taking nearly 20% of everything we make – and just about every Democrat says that isn’t nearly enough.

Regulations are the covert way for government to drain the pool. Regs are insidious – their punitive costs are indirect. Rather than taking the money, government forces the private sector to waste it in the eternal search for proper compliance. The tab is huge – $1.9 trillion in 2015. And rising dramatically – as the Administration continues its all-encompassing unilateral fiat fest. These costs – and the costs taxes impose – are built in to the prices of the goods and services we purchase. At which point government wins again – as we gripe at the private product providers for their government-inflated pricetags.

So let’s check the tote board. JUST the federal government imposition on the private sector – in taxes and regulations – is $5.1 trillion. Nearly 30% of ALL private capital – taken and/or wasted away. Add in the respective assaults of the roughly 1,000 state and local governments – and you start to see why capitalism isn’t very capitalism any more.

A third way government drives out money – is the money that never drives in because of government. When taxes and regulations make things too unattractive – the pretty coin stays away. If I invite you into my house – and then beat you about the head and shoulders with a bat – I should at least have the decency to not act surprised when you get up and leave. To wit: U.S. companies are stashing $2.1 trillion (and likely much more) overseas. Because of all of the above – including the fact that we have the world’s highest corporate tax rate (35%).

To wit: The Internet. Pre-Obama Administration, the Internet sector was a glorious outpost outlier – largely beyond the crippling bounds of government. Which is why it has become a free speech-free market Xanadu. This Administration absolutely could not allow this to stand – so it began the process of taking it down. That is in large part what February’s unilateral power grab – the full government takeover so as to then impose Network Neutrality – is all about. Getting and keeping everyone’s money out of the pool. Mission being accomplished.

AT&T’s capital expenditure (capex) was down 29 percent in the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014. Charter’s capex was down by the same percentage. Cablevision’s and Verizon’s capex were down ten and four percent, respectively. CenturyLink’s capex was down nine percent. 

(T)he net decrease across the six largest (Internet Service Providers) ISPs amounted to $3.3 billion in capital flight….

This capital flight is remarkable considering there have been only two occasions in the history of the broadband industry when capex declined relative to the prior year: In 2001, after the dot.com meltdown, and in 2009, after the Great Recession. In every other year save 2015, broadband capex has climbed, as ISPs—like hamsters on a wheel—were forced to upgrade their networks to prevent customers from switching to rivals offering faster connections.

What changed in early 2015 besides the FCCs Open Internet Order that can explain the ISP capex tumble? GDP grew in both the first and second quarters of 2015. Broadband capital intensity—defined as the ratio of ISP capex to revenues—decreased over the period, ruling out the possibility that falling revenues were to blame….

This is yet another regulatory assault – to effect their ultimate ideological outcome. As government continues its omni-directional draining of the private capital pool, more and more of our respective yachts become beached. Leaving us marooned – as happiness drifts further and further into the distance. Diamond Dave knows this ain’t the way to go. We should too.

[Originally published at Red State]

 

 

Categories: On the Blog

“Great National Purposes” Mean Less Freedom

Somewhat Reasonable - September 01, 2015, 1:38 PM

With the seventieth anniversary this year of the end of the Second World War, a number of commentators have focused on the presumed “unity” of America seven decades ago to “win the war” against global tyranny and international aggression by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Individuals put aside their individual personal and petty interests to support and fight for a “greater collective cause.”

The contrast is made between “then” and “now.” Today, it is said, America is divided against itself on domestic policy issues, international and foreign affairs, racial antagonisms, and cultural conflicts, to just name a few.

What America needs, it is said, is a shared set of common values and goals that can provide a unifying sense of public purposes. This is the path back to a restored American greatness at home and abroad, proponents say.

Such a view is often heard among both modern liberals on “the left” and conservatives on “the right.” They may differ on the values to be shared and the public policy purposes people are to unify behind, but the emphasis on a higher collective calling is common to both.

“National Purpose” and Economic Controls

The call to a common cause or national purpose is often appealing to people. When I was a boy, my mother, who worked as a civilian secretary in the U. S. Department of the Navy in Washington, D.C. during the Second World War, would recall that wartime sentiment of a “national purpose,” and did so with a degree of romantic nostalgia.

Among the “bad people” on the home front during the war were those who attempted to place their own interests ahead of the “national interest” during that time of “crisis.” One manifestation of it was black markets in almost everything, from hamburger meat and automobile tires and gasoline to a new suit or a pair of shoes.

You see, “the nation united” to achieve the common collective goal of winning the war required the government to superimpose a single, overarching hierarchy or scale of values over the entire country, to which and within which every American was confined and was expected to conform.

Resources are scarce, labor manpower is limited, and real savings can only be stretched so far to undertake and sustain desired investments in different directions. To assure that all that was considered essential for the war effort was given first and highest priority, the U.S. government imposed wage and price controls throughout the economy; production regulations and central planning over all industry and agriculture dictated what was to be produced, by whom, where, and for what purpose.

Since competition between buyers and sellers could not longer set prices and determine who produced what and for which consumers, the government imposed a vast rationing system on American society. Ration books were assigned to every household throughout the United States that determined, for example, how much milk, meat, bread, eggs, potatoes, salt and virtually anything else, to which anyone could have access out of the “collective” store of national production.

Did your household have children, and if so how many? Were members of your household working in war-related production or priority industry? Was your need for gasoline for your automobile connected with “winning the war” tasks crucial to the nation? The answers to such questions, and multitudes of others, determined how much of each of these goods, for instance, you would be allowed to purchase each month at the government mandated prices imposed on retailers throughout the market.

You needed special certificates, for which you had to apply, for a new suit of clothes or pair of shoes, a new set of tires for your car, or materials to make repairs around your home. To be approved you needed to submit the requisite paperwork arguing why you “really needed” such items when the resources to support “our boys” overseas had to always be considered priority number one so we could win the war.

“National Unity” and the Intrusive State

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as local law enforcement, was diverted from the pursuit of ordinary criminals – murderers, thieves, and defrauders – to detect, interdict and apprehend the networks of black marketeers: those who wished to privately buy and sell at agreed-upon prices that the government insisted could only be done on their mandated terms with their official approval and oversight.

A vast propaganda campaign was also undertaken during the war years to indoctrinate and intimidate people into acceptance of and obedience to the government’s imposed “unity of purpose” upon the nation.

National unity required the criminalization and potential legal prosecution of many aspects of everyday life that before America’s entry into the Second World War in December 1941 the citizens of the country viewed as essential elements of personal freedom. In other words, the price of collective purpose and a national common goal was the loss of individual liberty at home in the name of fighting tyranny abroad.

Police informers, undercover entrapments, invasions of people’s privacy and property through government surveillance enveloped the United States in the name of capturing the black marketeers, whose actions, it was said, weakened the national purpose of winning the war.

Black market gang violence, corruption of the law enforcement and legal system, and behavioral hypocrisy in people’s public acceptance of wartime central planning commands versus their private evasions and avoidance of its impact on their own lives were all elements of the pursuit of a unifying national purpose.

(The United States had experienced a similar episode of lost liberty and wide government intrusions into daily life between 1920 and 1933 during the period of alcohol prohibition, with all the inescapable negative side effects. But after 1941, war hysteria and fears had caused collective amnesia and a willingness to allow government to, once again, dictate personal conduct and permitted trade, only during the war years it was far more comprehensive than during the earlier “war on booze.”)

“National Purposes” versus Individual Diversity

It may be argued that very few, if anyone, are proposing for such comprehensive central planning in the name of a national purpose or a common cause in contemporary America. It is merely being suggested that there are or should be some goals or purposes that all Americans can or should be united behind, and through which there can be an awakening and reinforcement of our common identity and social cohesion as a political community.

But whether comprehensive or piecemeal, all such pursuits through government involve one essential and inescapable element: coercion, that is, the threat or the use of governmental force to make everyone act within the parameters of the national goal or goals. Why is this inescapable?

The more the complex and developed any society, the more it is inevitable that there will be an increasing diversity of values, beliefs and desires among its members.

Life and family experiences; differences in selected specializations of work to earn a living; a growing material prosperity that makes possible the multiplication of options and opportunities to do things, want things, and achieve things that earlier generations could not even imagine because of a greater scarcity of means and methods that limited what could be done or wanted – all these aspects of modern market life makes possible a plethora of visions, values and dreams for individual happiness and meanings for living that works against reducing everyone to a single scale or hierarchy of shared values, purposes, and desires.

Just walk down the aisle of any supermarket and observe the differences in what people put in each of their respective shopping carts. In a time of internet streaming notice the diversity of tastes and preferences in music, movies, sports, and other forms of entertainment, learning, and enjoyment, as well as online shopping.

People spend their incomes in ways that represent and reflect their values, beliefs and desires. Some of us overlap in these matters, and when we do we form clubs, associations, organizations, and connections to enjoy and advance shared beliefs, values and purposes with kindred spirits.

Some donate to cancer research; some give to halfway houses for battered women or children; others support the fine arts to preserve an appreciation of classical music or to house the works of great painters in museums; others give to advance social, political or economic ideas; and still others spend their money on going to Star Trek fan conventions or to buy season sports tickets to watch their favorite teams play in a stadium in the company of similar enthusiasts. The list, obviously, is endless.

Just think of how you furnish your own house or apartment compared to the homes of friends or acquaintances you have visited. Notice how you dress – styles, designs, fashions, and fads – in relation to many others. What do you like to read, what do you like to eat, where do you like to go for vacations or a frequent night out? Again, the list is endless.

There are few who propose that we all should dress or live alike to assure a deeper sense of shared social or national purpose. But there are plenty of people who wish to tell you how and what to eat or drink; what your social attitudes and beliefs should be, and therefore, with whom you should interact, and in what settings and comportments of behavior and speech.

There are many who think we should all have the same values about the environment, attitudes about human relationships, and causes worth financially supporting for the advancement of which they desire government to tax the citizenry, and then to spend the money in the politically selected “right” or “fair” way.

Competing “Common Causes” and Government Control

Rather than one overarching “national purpose” or “common cause” as during the Second World War, today we have a patchwork of different advocated national purposes and common causes for which special interest groups lobby and pressure those in political power to initiate and impose on the whole of society.

The “competition,” in this case, is to marshal the necessary and needed political influence and clout to collectively and coercively impose one’s own valued “common purpose” on everyone in society. The net affect is a spider’s web of interlocking systems of politically imposed values and beliefs that are valued by some, but which end up being forced on all.

The real and meaningful diversity, in which each and every individual is at liberty to guide, direct and give meaning and value to their own lives through the peaceful and voluntary associations of market exchange and civil society, is replaced with the narrowing of that diversity to what those with political influence and power are able to obtain in political competition with others also attempting to use the authority of the State for their own purposes.

Here is the true source of the perceived disunity, antagonisms, and conflicts in American society. Individuals and groups are fighting over the political power to make others conform to their own preferred scale of values, ideals and desires.

When political coercion through government regulations, controls, restrictions, prohibitions, and redistributions become a leading method to pursue and achieve your goals, values, and beliefs through their imposition on others, then the achievement of one person’s desires in these matters is by definition a potential threat or hindrance to other’s choices in these areas of life.

Conflict is inevitable, whether it be about the curriculum in government schools, or being taxed to cover other people’s medical expenses, or whom you have to make a wedding cake for in your bakery shop, or whether you can offer taxis services only with a government license.

Individual Purposes is the “Common Cause” of Liberty

In the free market economy, each makes their own decisions concerning these matters, and virtually all others, through voluntary associations and peaceful trade. The competition among people to pursue their values and dreams is not over access and use of government compulsion, but the non-violent rivalry of offering others attractive terms in the market place for them to supply you with the means of following the goals and purposes that matter to you.

But what about a sense of “national purposes” or “common causes”? What binds members of a free society together is not any detailed agreement concerning the ends that people should pursue, but rather a belief about the moral and just means to be used by anyone in trying to attain their individual goals.

The highest common value held by members of a free society is belief in the ethics of human liberty. Each person should be considered an end in himself, and not a means to other people’s ends through the use of force or its threat. He is not sacrificial animal to be made to conform, work, and obey others who claim to know what is “right,” “good,” or “just” for everyone in almost every aspect of life.

The legal rules of a free society are “procedural,” and not “substantive.” Procedural rules specify the process by which and through which any individual may go about the pursuit of a particular goal or purpose, but it does not specify the goal or end the individual has to pursue.

Substantive rules specify what goals or purposes the individual must follow, and often dictates the end or result that is considered desirable for the attainment of which the actions of individuals are commanded.

Freedom’s “Rules of the Road”

For instance, the “rules of the road” are procedural or “end-independent.” That is, the rules of the road when driving a car specify that you must stop at a red light and only go on a green light; that you have to pull over and stop when an emergency vehicle in speeding by; or that it requires everyone to abide by the indicated speed limit.

But they do not dictate or command when, why or where you must go when driving on the road. You may be going to work, driving to the supermarket, taking you child for a dental appointment, or simply driving around for the pleasure of it. Each individual makes their own decision where he or she may want to go and for what reason while using the roads. All the individual is required to do is follow the lawful procedures when on the roads.

Substantive, or “end-dependent” rules are directly commanding people how and for the achievement of what particular ends or goals individuals are to be required to undertake any activities. This would be more like being told by the government not only to drive your car on the roads, but being told where you had to go, for what purpose, and when you need to be there.

With procedural, or end-independent, rules individuals merely must follow the “rules of the road,” with preferred common courtesy, and are then free to go their own way in life. Under substantive, or end-dependent, rules, where you go, for what, and when all depends on who has the political power and authority in impose their plans and purposes upon you.

We should also not forget that nations do not have “purposes,” “values,” “goals,” or “desires,” because nations are not living, willing entities separate from the individuals who live within a geographical area designated on a map as the boundaries of a “nation-state.”

Human Dignity and Diversity is Freedom’s Purpose

What bind the people of a truly free society together are a vision and an overriding value on the right of the individual to his life, liberty and honestly acquired property. The “common cause” of free men in a society of liberty is one in which any of the specific forms of the “ties that bind” between people occurs through voluntary association and freedom of trade.

For the friend of freedom, the common “social purpose” that all men of good will should share, value, and strive to establish and maintain is a world in which no one person or group of people can make others go places and do things through the use of government regulation, control or command that they do not consider peacefully best for themselves.

That is an idea of individual human dignity and diversity that is morally far superior to the imposition of “national purposes” and collectivist goals through the use of the policeman and the threat of the jailer and the hangman.

[Originally published at Epic Times]

 

Categories: On the Blog

President Obama’s Arctic Jaunt to Burn 161 Metric Tons of Carbon

Somewhat Reasonable - September 01, 2015, 1:16 PM

President Barack Obama is in Alaska today, experiencing the effects of “Climate Change” firsthand, as part of his push to make a carbon-reduction agenda the hallmark of his second term. According to the White House, Obama will take a “carbon tour” of sites that he considers to be deeply affected by global warming, in an effort to demonstrate to the public that climate change has dire consequences, and is a problem in need of urgent, executive attention in the form of his Clean Power Plan.

Unfortunately for the President, he will be greeted by Alaskan “summer snows” rather than a receding glacier, the result of unseasonably cold temperatures. Alaska is experiencing a temperature shift – not unusual for a such an “extreme weather climate” – known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, “a 60 year cycle which affects the atmospheric steering currents in Alaska, determining whether cold polar air or warm Pacific air tends to win out as the two air masses continually battle for control over Alaska weather.”

Unfortunately, also, for the President, as he lectures about human activity as a contributory factor in climate change, he will be the most contributory human.

President Barack Obama has announced he will be traveling to Alaska at the end of the month to visit the Arctic and other parts of the state which he claims is being ravaged by global warming.

Ironically, his trip to Alaska will [] emit 161 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the very gas he blames for global warming. That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of driving 33 cars and the annual electricity use for 22 homes.

Obama would have to burn 173,000 pounds of coal to emit the same amount of CO2 as a one-way trip to Alaska would emit, according to EPA data.

The President will, of course, be taking Air Force One, traveling 3,361 miles into the wilds of Alaska, to Alaska’s Elmendorf Air Force Base, where Air Force One will refuel for the return trip. That means, he’ll be burning 16,805 gallons of fuel, emitting that 121 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Categories: On the Blog

Naomi Klein, The Heartland Institute, and Are We Blind, Too?

Somewhat Reasonable - August 31, 2015, 8:47 PM

Naomi Klein, author of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate,” and attendee of Heartland’s Sixth Climate Conference.

The Heartland Institute and “Heartlanders” are mentioned on at least 30 pages in Klein’s best-selling 2014 book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (see the index). Excerpts from her interview with me appear on page 42 and elsewhere. Plainly, that interview and her attendance at the 2011 International Conference on Climate Change had a big influence on this book.

In fact, an early draft of the first one-third of the book appeared as the cover article in The Nation in 2011 shortly after the conference. No other think tank or advocacy group on the right is mentioned in This Changes Everything nearly as often as Heartland is; The Heritage Foundation is mentioned once, American Enterprise Institute twice, Cato Institute just six times, for example. Google searches and anecdotal reports show Klein also mentions me and Heartland frequently in her public presentations.

Klein probably views us as her most influential opponent in the debate because, like her, we are utterly sincere and see past the science debate to the motivation of the principal players. She doesn’t accuse us of being a front for oil or coal companies. She knows we believe the left’s interest in global warming is tactical, a pretense for calling for more government control over the economy. She agrees with us that this is a powerful tactic, one she believes socialists on the left aren’t pursuing with enough vigor.

So we often are on Klein’s mind. She uses us as a foil or a straw horse sometimes, but more often as a worthy opponent in the debate over the future of the world.

Klein often expresses her fear that her side has been co-opted by special-interest groups – ethanol producers, wind and solar companies, liberal foundations – the same way our side was at risk of being co-opted by fossil fuel companies. For both our sides, being co-opted means endorsing “technofixes” and programs that foist onto taxpayers and ratepayers the cost of a transition to expensive and unreliable renewable fuels, i.e., fascism. On this issue, socialists and libertarians unite in opposing a “third way.”

Ironically and importantly, the left’s attacks on ExxonMobil and other oil companies saved us from being co-opted by the oil industry and other corporate interests. In 2007, ExxonMobil said it would continue funding us only if we agreed to admit that man-made global warming “may” be causing a climate crisis. Had I said yes to that, the debate today would be much different. Instead, we started running ads in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere with the headline “Global Warming Is Not a Crisis.”

Similarly, Renaissance Reinsurance (RenRe), a major Heartland donor, RenRe was comfortable with our position on climate change so long as their support wasn’t public knowledge. Our contacts with the company were at least as skeptical about man-made climate change as anyone at Heartland. In 2012, following the Fakegate incident that revealed their funding, they said they would continue to fund us only if we publicly retracted and reversed our position on the underlying science of climate change. I said “take a walk,” and they did.

As near as I can tell, nothing similar has occurred on the left. Klein is highly critical of some of the largest environmental groups and liberal foundations for using the global warming issue to steer the debate to cap and trade, subsidies to renewable energy companies, and giving money to third-world dictators to shut them up, rather than abolishing capitalism and reaching for socialism. There isn’t much money out there, apparently, to support Klein-style radicalism, though it sells lots of books.

So the left, in the climate debate, is co-opted by crony capitalists and liberal philanthropists. The right pretty much is similarly co-opted by crony capitalists and conservative philanthropists — except for Heartland, Competitive Enterprise Institute, a few other worthy and principled allies. Heartland’s efforts validated questioning the “scientific consensus,” something we realized early on was necessary to stopping the march toward cap and trade, carbon taxes, or worse. It fundamentally changed the debate, turned public opinion, and stopped the global warming movement dead in its tracks.

Klein’s understanding of climate science is superficial at best and thinly sourced in this book. That’s her greatest vulnerability: She “believes” in global warming without having looked under the hood. It’s hard to blame her for that: She has clearly spent thousands of hours researching and writing on the policy and political aspects of the issue, interviewing everyone from the left to the far left with an opinion (or financial interest) in the issue. It’s hard to find time to also master the science aspects. But as a result, her ideological fervor and confirmation bias blind her to the possibility that she is wrong.

Are we similarly blinded? I don’t think so, because the financial rewards to us of “admitting” man-made global warming “may” be a crisis are enormous. We had a strong financial incentive to truly look under the hood and decide which side we should be on.

More than ANY other think tank or advocacy group in the debate on either the right or the left, we’ve studied the science. Ask yourself: where is the Environmental Defense Fund’s or Greenpeace’s equivalent of Climate Change Reconsidered? They don’t exist. Because they don’t care enough about the science, because at the end of the day, the science doesn’t matter to them. It doesn’t affect their tactic of using global warming as a scare tactic to raise money and advance a left-wing agenda. As Klein writes, “it’s not about carbon, it’s about capitalism.”

We do care about the science. We do ask ourselves, constantly, if the science is on our side.You don’t assemble an international team of climate scientists and publish four thick volumes of pure science on an issue if you think the science doesn’t matter.

Klein’s greatest strength is recogzing that nothing less than the abolition of capitalism will achieve the drastic reductions in emissions her side is calling for… and she’s willing to say it out loud. I love that about her. The leaders of the environmental movement, who pretend this isn’t about ideology and that “stopping” climate change would be costless, hate her for revealing this.

Categories: On the Blog

EPA Says It Will Enforce Clean Water Rules Despite Court Order

Somewhat Reasonable - August 31, 2015, 2:57 PM

The Environmental Protection Agency is pledging to enforce its new “wetland rules” even though a federal judge has issued a stay order on the rule in 13 states. Several authorities, including state-based environmental authorities have argued that the rule is overly broad, and that the EPA is infringing on state sovereignty by attempting to regulate even tiny waterways.

The EPA claims that they instituted the new “wetland rule,” which defines “wetland” to mean most instances of standing water short of large puddles, fills a hole in an earlier rule that left “60%” of American wetlands unprotected. The new rule, the EPA claims, would force a permitting process for any entity that pollutes or has the potential to pollute body of water that has a “significant and direct connection” to a larger body of water.

Either way, the EPA is not interested in obeying the Federal court that’s tasked with judging which side is correct.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with a new federal rule to protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands, despite a court ruling that blocked the measure in 13 central and Western states.

The EPA says the rule, which took effect Friday in more than three dozen states, will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans.

Opponents pledged to continue to fight the rule, emboldened by a federal court decision Thursday that blocked it from Alaska to Arkansas…

The federal ruling Thursday was in North Dakota, where officials from that state and 12 others argued the new guidelines are overly broad and infringe on their sovereignty. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo agreed that they might have a case, issuing a temporary injunction.

The EPA said after the ruling that it would not implement the new rules in those 13 states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Several other lawsuits remain, from other states and also from farm and business groups.

The court stayed enforcement of the rule for a reason: opponents claim that the rule is so broad as to encompass nearly any body of standing water on any land.

Saying that the rule may govern “drainpipes and puddles” is exaggerating the issue somewhat, but the plaintiffs do claim that the rule is so broad that it makes it next to impossible to say what won’t be affected, especially if the EPA is looking for something to hold a company accountable for. Standing water on grazing land, for instance, may not be “significant” to a farmer, but if the EPA wants to declare the land its on under their sovereignty, farmers are concerned that they could use the rule as an excuse to take over. Since such a takeover – or even a monetary fine – could constitute an irreparable harm under the law, the federal ruling declared that the EPA cannot enforce the rule until a court determines whether its Constitutional.

The EPA, however, considers the wetland problem to be of immediate urgency, so apparently they’ll take their chances. Their first targets are, of course, unclear. They could certainly, say, go after a major entity that may have leaked millions of gallons of mine waste-water into a major American waterway – themselves.

Categories: On the Blog

Biotech Foods Can Save People and the Environment

Somewhat Reasonable - August 31, 2015, 2:50 PM

Approximately 800 million people are currently malnourished, and the world’s population is expected to rise by 2 billion by the year 2050. If we use current technologies—or, Heaven forbid, roll back use of modern agricultural practices—we will have to plow down literally millions of acres to relieve the projected hunger expected to come as a result of the growing population. Fortunately, a widespread embrace of biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops can help ensure there is enough food for all.

Earth is bountiful and fecund, but it does not yield its treasures without hard work. Earth’s natural ability to produce the food necessary to feed human and animal populations has been enhanced greatly since the agricultural revolution more than 10,000 years ago. Our forbearers applied ingenuity and innovation to the improvement of crops; increased the efficiency of our land and water use; and improved methods of distribution, storage, and defense against animal and plants pests.

Even so, millions of people still suffer from privation and starvation. The world’s farmers currently produce more than enough food to feed Earth’s 7 billion people, using approximately 6 million square miles—an amount of land equal in size to the United States and Europe. Where malnutrition, famine, and starvation still occur, it is caused by broken distribution systems due to wars (civil and otherwise), poor infrastructure, flawed political and economic institutions, and authoritarian regimes that use starvation as a political tool. 

That won’t always be the case, however. The planet’s population is expected to peak during this century at approximately 9 billion. It will then likely taper off rapidly. In order to feed that peak population and their pets with diets similar to those currently enjoyed by people in developed countries, we will have to triple the production of food by 2050. Even if all farmers adopt the modern farming practices with high inputs of fertilizers and pesticides, the most we can realistically hope to do is double crop production on the current amount of land we are using.

There is only so much arable land and water usable for crop production. Substantially expanding the amount of land under active cultivation, which would be exceptionally difficult, would be a disaster for wildlife and native plants. The lands most likely to be converted to agriculture are forests, rangelands, and other wildlands, especially in the tropics—the most biodiverse region on Earth, where most population growth is occurring and where hunger and where malnutrition is most prominent.

Fortunately, there is another way of raising yields: The judicious use of biotechnology to produce hardier, disease-resistant, pest-resistant, vitamin-fortified crops that more efficiently use water and can be grown more readily on marginal lands can increase global food production by the threefold margin needed for the world’s 9 billion people. And it can be done while only marginally increasing the amount of acreage in production.

Unfortunately, environmental extremists have targeted the use of bioengineering. They raise baseless fears about “Frankenfoods” escaping the lab, and they argue no technology should be used until it can be shown to pose absolutely no risks whatsoever to humans or the environment.

Arguing biotech researchers are “playing God,” environmental groups such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group have threatened to lead a consumer boycott of companies that use bioengineered foods and to create a flood of negative publicity.

Several countries have banned the use of bioengineered foods, and the Free Thought Project lists 400 mostly small companies that claim not to use bioengineered products. More countries and companies jumping on the “ban the genetically modified organisms” bandwagon could devastate farmers who have begun to rely on biotech foods to raise yields while reducing their use of costly pesticides.

These scares are decidedly unscientific. Responding to environmentalist scare tactics, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and every major research body that has looked into the health and safety of genetically modified crops have endorsed their use.

A research assessment published in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology in 2014 examining 1,783 studies on the safety and environmental impacts of genetically modified foods confirmed this. The Italian researchers couldn’t find a single credible example of GM foods posing any harm to humans or animals. Nor did they find any evidence GM crops have any negative environmental impact.

Unlike crops developed through traditional crossbreeding techniques, genetically modified foods are among the most extensively studied scientific subjects in history. Simply put, they are safe.

Extreme environmentalists ignore the very real dangers of doing without the new technologies. Turning our back on nutritional, safe, bioengineered foods would irresponsibly condemn millions of people to unnecessary suffering and, in some cases, even death. Nowthat would be “playing God” with a vengeance.

[Originally published at The Hill]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Reviewed: Mountain Whispers, Days Without Sun

Somewhat Reasonable - August 31, 2015, 2:42 PM

Mountain Whispers, Days Without Sun

by Coleman Alderson

Reviewed by Marita Noon and Jay Lehr

It is time for a new modern book to tell Ayn Rand’s story from Atlas Shrugged and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in modern terms. There is no question that todays environmental zealotry which is the theme of a new novel Mountains Whispers, Days Without Sun fills the bill. While Rand told a potentially true story this book updates it into our own future with the built in horrors of Agenda 21. A world movement of elitists who plan to take control of all of our land to use as they wish. They desire to concentrate folks in the cities where control is easier and create a new religion of sustainability.

Movies have been made of both Atlas Shrugged and Brave New World but never resonated with todays young folks, the so called millennials. Mountain Whispers could well make the impact necessary to make sure this dystopian story never unfolds.

What will America look like if the environmentalists win?

In every war, there are winners and losers. Whether the war is ideological or physical, or even if a truce is declared—there are still battles that end in victory or defeat.

In the United States, and most of the western world, there is an ideological war with dire physical consequences. It is the war on fossil fuels. But, the war is much bigger than energy. It is about freedom. It is about control. It is about global governance.

In his debut novel, author Coleman Alderson carefully weaves the green narrative into a spell-binding thriller set just slightly more than 35 years from now—when all of the green policies have taken force—and paints a gripping picture of how the Global Energy Enforcement Organization (GEEO) takes control of every aspect of our lives, leaving people struggling to survive a bleak existence.

But not everyone is willing to abandon freedom for the neat and tidy life promised in “Progress City.” They resist being “registered” and moved to work on an organic farm, assigned to drudge labor in the city, or picked to serve in “the administration.” Even many of those who originally accepted the move begin to realize the mistake they made. The friction creates the story as the “retros”—Appalachian Mountain folks, many of whom worked in the now-closed coal mines—resist registration and citification.

The cities are important because they represent “manageable regions.” It is more sustainable to have people in cities where they don’t use so many resources. For example, they don’t need cars. Instead they use public transportation or bicycles.

One of the lead characters is a young man named Agent Candler Greaves who is sent to round up the rebellious “retros.” Having been raised with the “save the planet” mantra, he genuinely wants to “help guide humanity toward a harmonious existence with the planet.” But, as the author’s portrayal makes vividly clear, the result of the GEEO’s efforts is a decrease in various public services, more land restrictions, limited availability of food, electricity, and medical treatments—while the leadership thrives in spite of it all.

Because a story captures people’s emotions, readers will internalize Mountain Whispers Days without Sun’s message more deeply than from facts and statistics. Alderson effectively illustrates the impact of all the mandates. The result is a depopulation of the rural areas and the control of people. Their individual hopes and aspirations are killed in the name of the collective.

The idea of citizens willingly accepting locator chips under their skin in order to be tracked may seem extreme to some, but closer to reality than we think. If you’ve seen advertising pop up on your computer based on websites you’ve visited, or if as you pull out of your driveway on Monday morning, your phone, without your asking it to, tells you how long it will take you to get to work, you know the scenario presented in Mountain Whispers Days without Sun, is totally possible. We must, like the Appalachian Mountain folks, fight it while still an ideological war.

The war we are fighting, as Alderson explains in the afterword: “is a saga of two cultures, of two divergent ways of life, and ultimately two paths leading into our future. One way leads to empowerment and living close to the land; the other promotes safety, security, and a global technocracy prescribed to minimize human impact on the environment.”

Alderson is an optimist. In the end, it is going to be OK. If we can figure out how to put a brake on the policies and bring reason into the discussion, we can, then, figure out how to avoid living out the scary future laid out in Mountain Whispers Days without Sun.

Coleman Alderson blogs on matters of energy and freedom at LittleRedPill.com, and you can find Mountain Whispers – Days Without Sun on Amazon.

Categories: On the Blog

Hidden Emails Reveal a Secret Anti-Fossil Fuel Network

Somewhat Reasonable - August 31, 2015, 1:37 PM

Hidden emails reveal a secret anti-fossil fuel network involving the White House, Democrat governors, wealthy donors and foundations, and front groups

Most of us feel that time goes by faster as we get older. It does. When you are five years old, one year represents 20 percent of your life. Yet, when you are fifty, that same calendar year is only 2 percent of your life—making that single timeframe much smaller. Those of us involved in fighting the bad energy policies coming out of Washington have a similar feeling: the second term of the Obama Administration seems to be throwing much more at us and at such speed that we can barely keep up. Likewise, they are.

We knew that President Obama was planning to fundamentally transform America, but even many of his initial supporters have been shocked as his true intentions have been revealed. Following his November 2012 reelection, his administration has removed any pretense of representing the majority of Americans and has pursued his ideological agenda with wild abandon—leaving many of us feeling incapacitated; thrown to the curb as it speeds by.

His legacy climate-change agenda is at the core of the rapid-fire regulations and the disregard for any speed bump the courts may place in front of the administration. When the Supreme Court smacked it down for failing to consider economic impacts of the mercury and air toxics standards for power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded with a shrug, as their goal had essentially already been met. On August 27, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction—blocking EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing the Waters of the United States rule in the thirteen states that requested the injunction. The response? The Hill reports: “the Obama administration says it will largely enforce the regulation as planned.”

Having failed to push the unpopular policies through Congress, the administration has resorted to regulatory overreach—and assembled a campaign to use friendly governors and state attorney general offices, in collaboration with pressure groups and ideologically aligned benefactors, to advance the agenda.

The White House knows that the public is not with them. While polls show that slightly more than half of the American public believe the “effects of global warming are already happening,” it repeatedly comes in at the bottom of the list of priorities on which we think Obama and Congress should focus. The President’s pet policy fares even worse when pollsters ask if Americans agree: “government should do more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth?” Only 12 percent “strongly agree.” Additionally, the very age group—young voters—that helped propel Obama into the Oval Office, is the group least convinced that climate change is a reality and the least “likely to support government funding for climate change solutions.”

It is, presumably, for this reason that a scheme hatched by now-disgraced former Oregon Governor Kitzhaber’s highest-paid aide Dan Carol—“a former Democratic opposition researcher,” who, according to the Oregonian, “worked on behalf of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama”—received an enthusiastic response from the White House and its allies. Remember, Kitzhaber resigned from office on February 13, 2015, amid allegations of criminal wrongdoing for the role his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, held in his office and whether she used that role to obtain private consulting work promoting the climate agenda. Carol, who was paid close to double Kitzhaber’s salary, according to a new report from Energy & Environment Legal Institute, left his public position “after appearing to have too closely intertwined government and the tax-payer dependent ‘clean energy’ industry with interest group lobbies.”

The goal of what was originally called “Dan’s concept” was to bring about a “coalescence of private financial and ideological interests with public offices to advance the officeholders’ agenda and political aspiration”—more specifically: “to bring the Obama Administration’s plans to reality and to protect them.”

This was done, according to dozens of emails obtained through federal and state open record laws, “through a coordinated campaign of parallel advocacy to support close coordination of public offices” and involved a “political operation with outside staff funded by some of the biggest names in left-liberal foundation giving,” including, according to the emails, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, the Rockefeller Brothers, and the Hewlett Foundation. The first emails in the scandal began in mid-2013.

Kitzhaber wasn’t the only governor involved—he’s just the only one, so far, to resign. Many Democrat governors and their staff supported the scheme. You’d expect that California’s Governor Jerry Brown or Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe are part of the plan—called, among other names, the Governors Climate Compact—as they are avid supporters of the President’s climate-change initiatives. What is surprising is Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s “quiet engagement.” He decried Obama’s Clean Power Plan (Final rule announced on August 3, 2015), as being “disastrous” for Kentucky. In a statement about the Plan, he said: “I have remained steadfast in my support of Kentucky’s important coal and manufacturing industries, and the affordable energy and good jobs they provide the Commonwealth and the nation.” Yet, he isn’t opposing the rule and emails show that he is part of the “core group of governors quietly working to promote the climate agenda.”

In response to the records request, Beshear’s office “asserts that ‘no records’ exist in its files involving the Steyer campaign.” The E&E Legal report continues: “Numerous emails from other governors copying a senior Beshear aide on her official account, emails which Beshear’s office surely possesses, unless it has chosen to destroy politically damaging emails.” An email bearing that aide’s name, Rebecca Byers, includes Kentucky as one of the states “that can’t commit to the GCC [Governors Climate Compact] publicly now but would welcome quiet engagement.”

Other states indicated in the emails include Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, Connecticut, California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland, Colorado, New York, Vermont, and Virginia. Three newly elected Republican Governors have been targeted by the campaign—Larry Hogan (MD), Charlie Baker (MA), and Bruce Rauner (IL). Reelected Republican Governor Rick Snyder (MI) has apparently joined the “core group.”

I’ve read the entire report—which had me holding my breath as if I were reading a spy thriller—and reviewed the emails.

The amount of coordination involved in the multi-state plan is shocking. The amount of money involved is staggering—a six-month budget of $1,030,00 for the orchestrators and multi-state director and $180,000 to a group to produce a paper supporting the plan’s claims. And, as the 55-page report points out, this collection of emails is in no way complete. At the conclusion of the executive summary: “Context and common sense indicate that the emails E&E Legal obtained and detail in this report do not represent all relevant correspondence pulling together the scheme they describe. Public records laws extend to those records created, sent or received by public servants; private sector correspondence is only captured when copying public offices, with the caveat that most of the White House is exempt. Further, however, the records we have obtained reflect more than the time and other parameters of our requests; they are also a function of the thoroughness of offices’ responses, the willingness of former and current staff to search nonofficial accounts, and even several stonewalls as noted in the following pages.”

The E&E Legal report was of particular interest to me in that it followed the theme of my extensive coverage of Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal. Many of the same names, with which I’d become familiar, popped up over and over again: Terry McAuliffe—who received government funding for his failed electric car enterprise; Cathy Zoe—who worked for the Department of Energy, and, of course, John Podesta—who ran the Center for American Progress and who helped write the 2009 Stimulus Bill, and who then became a “senior advisor” to President Obama and is presently campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.

It also caught my attention because little more than a month ago—perhaps with a hint that this report was forthcoming—the HuffPost published a story claiming that groups like mine were part of a “secret network of fossil fuel and utility backed groups working to stop clean energy.” Calling me—along with others—out by name, the author states: “The strategy of creating and funding many different organizations and front groups provides an artificial chorus of voices united behind eliminating or weakening renewable energy laws.” He concludes that the attacks “are the result of coordinated, national campaigns orchestrated by utilities and fossil fuel companies through their trade associations and front groups.”

Oh, how I wish we were that well-coordinated and funded. If we were, I would have written this column last week when the E&E Legal report was released. Instead of receiving the information from the source, a New York City journalist forwarded it to me.

Yes, I am part of a loosely affiliated network of people who share similar concerns. Once a year, I meet with a group of private citizens and activists over property rights issues. I am on an email list of individuals and groups opposing wind turbines—often for different reasons. I have a cadre of scientists I’ve met at different meetings upon whom I do call for their varied expertise. Individuals often email me tips and news stories. True, most of the folks on my nearly 5000-person email distribution list are part of the energy industry—though there are plenty of concerned citizens, too. In 2014, the average donation to my organization was under $500.

Imagine what we could do with the same amount of money and coordination the E&E Legal report revealed—after all we have the public on our side—average citizens whose utility bills are going up by double digits due to the policies espoused by President Obama and his politically connected allies who benefit from American’s tax dollars.

I hope you’ll join our chorus—you can subscribe and/or contribute to my efforts. We are not working in the shadows and are, in fact, proud of our efforts on behalf of all Americans, their jobs, and energy that is effective, efficient, and economical.

If this small—but organized and well-funded—group pushing Obama’s agenda were allowed to run rampant, without the roadblocks little pockets of opposition (like my group) erect though public education and exposure of the facts (such this E&E legal report), it is scary to think about where America would be today. Remember, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

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

Heartland Daily Podcast – State Rep. Mark Finchem (AZ): Common Core and Student Data Privacy

Somewhat Reasonable - August 31, 2015, 12:58 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, managing editor Heather Kays speaks with Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem. Finchem joins Kays to talk about Common Core and student data privacy.

Kays and Finchem discuss the difficulty in repealing and replacing Common Core despite a strong grassroots movement against it in Arizona. Finchem also talks about his most recent effort to draw attention to the fact that Common Core is being used to collect and distribute student data.

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

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly Email: Heartland Launches Center for Constitutional Reform

Somewhat Reasonable - August 31, 2015, 10:04 AM

If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you every Friday with a highlight show. Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Affordable Energy Summit Counters Obama-Reid Event
Sterling Burnett, The Heartlander
The Heartland Institute, National Black Chamber of Commerce, Nevada Policy Research Institute, and Libertarian Party of Nevada teamed up to organize a counter-program in Las Vegas this week to steal some thunder from President Obama and the Democrats’ “Clean Energy Summit.” Our presence was reported by the Associated Press and other media outlets. READ MORE

Prager University’s ‘Why I Left Greenpeace’ Features Patrick Moore
In this video from Prager University, Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, explains why he helped to create the organization … and what caused him to leave. Moore recounts how a simple movement to preserve the environment turned into a political movement that viewed humanity as an enemy of Earth.  READ MORE

Heartland Launches Center for Constitutional Reform
On August 26th, Heartland hosted an event in Dallas, Texas announcing the launch of our newest center, the Center for Constitutional Reform. Speakers at the event included Heartland President Joseph Bast; legal scholar David Guldenschuh; Nick Dranias, president of Compact for America; Peter Ferrara, Heartland senior fellow and author of Power to the People; former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, and former Rep. Allen West (R-FL). READ MORE

Featured Podcast: Rob Natelson: Article V Constitutional Convention
Rob Natelson, senior fellow at the Independence Institute and former constitutional law professor, joins Environment & Climate News Managing Editor H. Sterling Burnett to talk about the history and practicality of an Article V constitutional convention. Natelson provides a historical analysis of what an Article V convention is, why it was put into the Constitution, how it functions, and how such conventions have been used (or not used), in the past. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

 

The Heartland versus The Ruling Class!
The Heartland Institute’s 31st Anniversary Benefit Dinner will take place Thursday, October 8 at The Cotillion, 360 South Creekside Drive in Palatine, Illinois. This year’s theme is “The Heartland versus The Ruling Class,”featuring the thoughts of keynote speaker Angelo Codevilla, Ph.D., author of The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It. Also featuring this year’s Heartland Liberty Prize winner Donald Devine, Ph.D. Join us for dinner, drinks, great conversation, and fellowship in liberty! MORE INFO HERE

Government Grant Funding Holds Back Scientific Inquiry
Jesse Hathaway, Daily Caller 
Research on important public health matters is unbiased when it’s funded by the government, right? Wrong. The National Institutes of Health pours hundreds of millions of dollars a year – $623 million in 2014 alone, according to Dr. Brad Radu – into research designed to advance the agency’s stated goal of “a world free of tobacco use.” This has resulted in phony research exaggerating the negative health effects of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, an important advance in harm reduction efforts. READ MORE

Florida Legislators Recognize Need for Flexibility, Choice in Special Education
Heather Kays, Townhall 
Florida’s Personal Learning Scholarship Account program has proven to be a perfect solution for special-needs students eager to learn but with disabilities that make a traditional classroom environment difficult. This year, the first year of the program, about 1,700 students received accounts. Next year, there will be enough money for more than 5,000 students, because Florida legislators increased its funding from $18.4 million to $53.4 million.  READ MORE

Obesity and Health Care Costs Continue to Rise Under Obamacare
Justin Haskins, Human Events 
In the months leading up to the passage of the Obamacare, President Barack Obama traveled across the country claiming the law would cause nation to grow healthier from its various programs and mandates. Like “if you like your current insurance, you can keep it,” this was promise the president couldn’t keep. Various mandates and provisions in Obamacare force health insurance companies to offer programs and other initiatives intended to help obese patients lose weight, but these programs depend on the patient’s willingness to enroll in the offered programs and work regularly with primary care physicians to adopt healthier lifestyle routines. Health care is becoming more expensive and obesity rates continue to grow. READ MORE

Poorer Nations Set for 99% of Population Growth
Wendell Cox, New Geography 
According to the new United Nations World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, the population of the world is projected to rise from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 11.2 billion in 2100. 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 tough future. READ MORE

Bonus Podcast: Obamacare, Medicaid Expansion and Welfare Reform
This edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast was recorded at Heartland’s Emerging Issues Forum (EIF) held in Seattle on August 7, where a panel discussed Obamacare, Medicaid expansion, and welfare reform. The panel, led by Heartland Government Relations Director John Nothdurft, includes Naomi Lopez Bauman, director of health care policy for the Goldwater Institute;  Christina Herrera, a senior fellow of the Foundation for Government Accountability; and Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

The Subprime College Crisis
Joy Pullmann, The Heartlander 
Remember the subprime mortgage crisis that fed the 2008 recession? That, too, was fueled by easy taxpayer money from a national government foolishly pushing social outcomes. The Obama administration, rather than dealing with the root problem of government meddling with markets, has doubled down on taxpayers’ exposure by offering young people even more taxpayer money to offset their student loans. New figures show approximately one in six student-loan holders are in default. READ MORE

Greenpeace Workers Stage Strike, Walkout
Emily Zanotti, Somewhat Reasonable 
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” (sic), 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. READ MORE

Invest in the Future of Freedom! Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make. Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.  
Categories: On the Blog

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
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