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Weather Bulletin 8: Records Breaking Across America

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 11:05 PM

As temperatures continue to dip and snow accumulates, support for claims human caused global warming is causing winters to disappear are melting like ice under a heat lamp.

All fifty states are expecting to see snowfall in the next seven days with most of them already having experienced modest to record amounts of snow as this particularly wicked winter just refuses to let up.

Cold temperature records were tied or broken at more than 2000 locations in the past week. According to the weather website, sunshine hours, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded 2,634 record low-high temperatures were broken or tied between February 19, 2015 and February 25, 2015. In other words, 2,634 locations experienced daily highs lower than ever recorded on that date since record keeping began. Over the same time period, 272 locations registered record low temperatures at least one day during the week. All these records are falling without the influence of the polar vortex that set thousands of record lows throughout the nation, even into the summer, of 2014.

On Friday the 27th every area east of the Rocky Mountains, excepting Florida, experienced below average temperatures. According to the Weather Channel, cities breaking daily low or daily low high temperatures in New England and the Northeastern U.S. included: Burlington, Vermont (minus 19 degrees), Bridgeport, Connecticut (0 degrees — the latest in a 0 degree temperature was ever recorded), Concord, New Hampshire (minus 20 degrees), Pittsburgh (minus 9 degrees) and Rochester, New York (minus 9 degrees).

Both Bangor, Maine and Syracuse, New York saw more below zero temperatures in February 2015, than they had experienced in any previous February. In Syracuse, the temperature dipped below zero for a record 20 times topping the previous calendar-year record of 19 below zero days in 1948, while Bangor, Maine saw 17 subzero days.

With an average temperature of 24 degrees for the month, 11 degrees below the normal February average, New York City set a record for the coldest February ever. The cold brought winter related health problems in tow. The New York Times reported, “Dr. John Marshall, the head of emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, said his hospital was averaging 336 patients a day this winter, 20 more than last winter. On Jan. 19, he saw something unlike anything he had seen before. In a single hour, 30 people showed up after having slipped on ice, most of them with wrist and arm fractures, with some ankles thrown in.”

Nor were the Midwest and the Great Lakes states spared the record chill with low records being set or tied in among other locations, Cincinnati, Ohio (minus 7 degrees), Columbus, Ohio (minus 11 degrees), Chicago (minus 10 degrees, Dubuque, Iowa (minus 17 degrees), Detroit (minus 2 degrees), Erie, Pennsylvania (minus 7 degrees), Flint, Michigan (minus 17 degrees), Grand Rapids, Michigan (minus 10 degrees) and Indianapolis, Indiana (minus 5 degrees) all broke low temperature records.

Some cities, including Cleveland and Toledo in Ohio set broke low temperature records on multiple days.

For South Bend, Indiana, Feb. 12 to Feb. 27, was the coldest recorded for this period in history with an average temperature of 11.4 degrees.

The Weather Channel reports, “subzero readings stretched across 22 states from the interior Northeast to the Plains, Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. Temperatures dropped below minus 20 degrees in 7 states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and New York). Wind chills bottoming out at more than 40 below zero in parts of North Dakota and northern Minnesota Sunday morning. Bottineau, North Dakota saw the lowest actual air temperature in the Lower 48, dipping to minus 32 degrees.

Farther South, Joplin, Missouri (8 degrees), Paducah, Kentucky (11 degrees) set record low temperatures between the 19th and the 25th. On Friday the 27th, Oklahoma (23 degrees) and Dallas, Texas (30 degrees) each set records for the lowest maximum temperature recorded on the date.

As is often the case, in winter, cold temperatures were accompanied with snowfall, in many areas, record snowfall. Boston’s snow woes have been well-documented this winter, but Boston is not the only city, nor the Northeast the only region slammed in February. Accumulating snow and ice brought the roof down on a skating rink in Canton, Massachusetts narrowly avoiding crushing a children’s hockey team and assembled parents and employees.

Also in New England, snowfall measured at Warwick New Hampshire’s Green Airport topped 31.8-inches breaking the old record of 30.9 in set in 1962.

Indianapolis set a new snowfall record for March 1st with 5.9 inches of snowfall, the most ever on March 1st.

According to the National Weather Service, much of Alabama experienced record or near record snowfalls last week. Prior to February 25, Huntsville, AL had received just 6 tenths of an inch of a snowfall all winter, but on the 25th, Huntsville got hammered with 8.1 inches of snow it the second-snowiest day in the city’s history, surpassed only by the 15.7 inches of snow that fell on December 31, 1963.

Record snows fell across much of Alabama with three locations in Marshall County reported 11 or more inches of snow. Other areas receiving high snowfall included Athens (8.5 inches), Eva (9 inches), Moulton (9 inches), Phil Campbell (10 inches) and Rainsville (8.5 inches). 

Farther west in Texans and New Mexican’s have also experienced record late-season snowfalls with attendant weather related disasters. Area’s north and west of Ft. Worth experienced record amounts of snow, with some regions getting more than seven inches of snow. Mixed with the snow was freezing rain and ice. As a result of the unusual late February weather, more than 1,000 flights were cancelled out of D/FW International Airport. North Texas experienced more than 1,000 reported accidents, with 617 traffic related calls between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm on Friday in Ft. Worth alone. Interstates 35, 30 and 75 as well and numerous side-streets were closed at times Thursday through Saturday and there were two weather related traffic deaths.

Across New Mexico, residents woke up to more snowfall than some areas had in nearly a decade. The Albuquerque metro area received 1-2 inches per hour for several hours, resulting in a total 8.6 inches, the 9th heaviest snowfall since 1931. The last time more than 8 inches fell in a two day period was in 2006.

H. Sterling Burnett

Managing Editor

Environment & Climate News

 

 

 

Categories: On the Blog

Left Launches Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientists

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 5:10 PM

Kert Davies, a long-time Greenpeace staffer, has regularly attacked climate scientists who question the group’s views on global warming.

CHICAGO (March 1, 2015) — A week ago, the Boston GlobeNew York Times, and Washington Post  ran stories repeating claims made by long-time Greenpeace staffer Kert Davies that Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics failed to disclose funding from “fossil-fuel sources” to the editors of a science journal that published an article coauthored by Dr. Soon. Davies alleged this violated the journal’s disclosure and conflict of interest requirements.

Since then, many other media outlets have covered the controversy.

This news coverage was the beginning of a witch hunt waged against climate scientists whose work contradicts the claims of Greenpeace and other liberal advocacy groups. Elements of the witch hunt include:

* Forecast the Facts, a project of the left-of-center Center for American Progress (and more recently affiliated with the even farther-left Citizen Engagement Laboratory) launched an online petition to the Smithsonian Institution demanding Dr. Soon be fired for misconduct.

* Democratic U.S. Sens. Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent letters to 100 business and think tanks – including The Heartland Institute – demanding they divulge any funding they have provided to global warming skeptics.

* Democratic U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva sent letters to seven universities demanding information about funding for eight scientists who have questioned Greenpeace’s stance on global warming.

* Davies asked the editors of journals that published Soon’s work to investigate whether he had complied with their disclosure and conflict of interest policies.

The Heartland Institute, which has been part of the climate change debate since 1993, has created a web page atwww.heartland.org/willie-soon that collects commentary and background information on this controversy. The web page contains information contradicting Davies’ allegations while making the following points:

* Neither the editors of Science Bulletin nor the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Soon’s employer, have said Dr. Soon violated their disclosure or conflict of interest rules.

* Davies has been making similar attacks against Dr. Soon and other climate scientists since as long ago as 1997. He is not a credible source. His background and affiliations should have been included in news stories based on his latest allegations.

* Grants supporting Dr. Soon’s work were vetted and submitted by the Smithsonian, not by Dr. Soon. Grant dollars went to the Smithsonian, which kept around 40 percent of the money for oversight and overhead.

* The amount of industry support Dr. Soon received, variously reported as $1 million or $1.2 million, includes the Smithsonian Institution’s 40 percent share and was received over the course of ten years.

* By agreement between donors and the Smithsonian, Dr. Soon wasn’t even aware of who some of the donors were, making a conflict of interest impossible.

* Disclosure of funding sources is not a common requirement of academic journals in the physical sciences field. Most climate scientists – alarmist as well as skeptical – do not disclose their funding sources.

Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, said:

“The Heartland Institute stands four-square behind Willie Soon. He’s a brilliant and courageous scientist devoted entirely to pursuing scientific knowledge. His critics are all ethically challenged and mental midgets by comparison. We plan to continue to work with Dr. Soon on future editions of Climate Change Reconsidered and feature him at future International Conferences on Climate Change, including the next one, the tenth, scheduled to take place in June in Washington, DC.”

John Nothdurft, director of government relations for The Heartland Institute, said:

“Instead of having a real conversation with the American public about the science and economics of climate change, well-financed advocacy groups and politicians with many ‘conflicts of interest’ of their own would rather direct the public’s focus on who funds non-profit organizations, independent research institutions, scientists, economists, and other experts.

“Apparently it is now a national offense to raise any concerns over certain aspects of the science or economics of policies that purport to deal with human-caused climate change. This witch hunt has nothing to do with ensuring that science is accurate or reliable. These attacks are leveled by people who refuse to engage in civil debate over important matters of science, economics, and public policy. They should not be allowed to win the day.”

Heartland has worked closely with Dr. Soon over the years, featuring him as a speaker at conferences and including him as a reviewer and contributor to a series of volumes on climate science published for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). In 2013, Heartland published a critique coauthored by Dr. Soon of a report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

For more comments, see www.heartland.org/willie-soon. To interview a Heartland spokesperson on this story, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

Categories: On the Blog

Apple Accused of Poaching Chinese Know-How Paid for by US Taxpayers

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 1:52 PM

Since 2011 NLPC has tracked the stimulus-funded fiascoes that were/are battery-maker A123 Systems and luxury electric automaker Fisker Automotive, who at one point were business partners (or stuck with each other, depending on your perspective). Both eventually went bankrupt, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars from Department of Energy awards that were never paid back. Chinese company Wanxiang Group ended up with both failed enterprises, buying their assets for cheap.

While the Obama administration declared the two bankruptcies (among others, such as Solyndra) part of their “successful” green energy investment strategy, two Republican Senators – Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota – have applied pressure to DOE over the fate of American jobs and intellectual property created by A123 and Fisker, but paid for with U.S. tax dollars.

Now, as the Senators continue to express concern about DOE policy over innovations created thanks to government funding, Chinese-owned A123 is suing over the “theft” of its intellectual resources by an American company – Apple! The Cupertino, Calif. computer giant is said to be secretly working on its own electric vehicle, and A123 has alleged in a lawsuit that Apple is “poaching” its best-and-brightest – led by former A123 Chief Technology Officer Mujeeb Ijaz – in violation of non-disclosure and non-compete agreements.

“It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123,” read the legal complaint, filed in Massachusetts state court but moved to federal court. “They are doing so in an effort to support Apple’s apparent plans to establish a battery division that is similar if not identical to A123’s, in competition with A123….”

As the Boston Herald reported, among the talent lured away by Apple includes an A123 scientist that earned $600,000 last year, plus living expenses. A Forbes.com analysis pondered why the battery innovator/manufacturer was so incensed that it felt it necessary to sue Apple over a few scientists. Technology writer Michael Kanellos reviewed A123’s history, which grew out of MIT, and explained that the company’s lithium phosphate cells did not perform as well as competing technologies. Also, larger and deeper-pocketed competitors like LG Chem and Johnson Controls worked their ways into alternative energy, and A123 struggled to get automotive clients – their only “success” was Fisker.

Nevertheless, post bankruptcy, Wanxiang moved aggressively to acquire A123 at a steep discount (but not necessarily a pittance) – for $260 million. As NLPC concluded in December 2012, “it’s not far-fetched to think that Wanxiang believe(d) the biggest worth of A123 remains in the head knowledge of its scientists and engineers who will now report to them.” That would go a long way toward explaining the Apple lawsuit.

Before the U.S. government approved the sale of A123 to Wanxiang, members of Congress (including Grassley and Thune) expressed concern about the technology transfer over national security concerns, besides the loss of taxpayer-funded resources.

“A123 Systems also works hand-in-hand with U.S. power plants on energy storage and efficiency improvements,” Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn wrote in The Hill. “Its products and technology serve the telecommunications markets through battery backup systems that support telecommunications controllers and Internet servers, transceiver stations and central hubs. Allowing Wanxiang to acquire this company’s technology could leave us vulnerable to cyber attacks.”

Despite the concerns, the bankruptcy court and the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States approved the deal. But Grassley and Thune are still pressing DOE for more stringent measures to assure that taxpayer-financed innovations are properly protected investments preserved for the public benefit.

“A more complete audit would allow DOE to register and claim title to subsequent inventions that trace back to federal support and may otherwise escape disclosure,” the Senators wrote to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. “This accountability is especially important to track taxpayer-funded intellectual property through transfer of ownership from an awardee company to a foreign entity.”

The Energy Department responded with an explanation for plans to create rules to address control of such technology, while also stating that other areas of law limit the government’s ability to retain the property or require its manufacture on U.S. soil.

Wanxiang, which does operate A123 in the U.S. and has maintained its identity for “The New Fisker” at its “Wanxiang America” base in Chicago, has aspirations for a re-launch of the electric “Karma” model. Company chairman Lu Guanqiu (pictured) has expressed his passion and commitment for becoming the first successful Chinese automaker.

“I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles,” Guanqiu said at the company’s Chinese headquarters last June. “I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.”

But the effort to get the new Karma to market has been a struggle, apparently. Earlier this week sources told Reuters that the Fisker name would be changed to Elux, and that the hoped-for 2015 relaunch would be delayed at least a year. Wanxiang was also said to be spending millions of dollars updating the Karma’s years-old hardware.

Add to that the lawsuit against cash-rich Apple over “brain drain,” it appears Mr. Lu believes his dream is imperiled. Maybe we’re seeing the beginning of the bizarre scenario of an American company overtaking a Chinese one, whose assets were largely paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Schneiderman’s Supplement Scam

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

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made a shocking announcement earlier this month. He alleged that DNA tests his office commissioned found that about 80% of GNC supplements tested, including those sold as Ginkgo Biloba, St. John’s Wort, and Ginseng didn’t actually have any of the herb in the capsules.

Mr. Schneiderman issued a cease and desist letter calling for the products to be removed from shelves at GNC, as well as for different products sold at Walmart, Walgreens and Target. He also put out a press release filled with self-righteous and self-serving statements from his allies including state legislators calling for the passage of their own bills and from the food police group, Center for Science in the Public Interest, lauding Mr. Schneiderman for doing “what federal regulators should have done a long time ago.”

Class action lawyers are already soliciting clients.

These days, plaintiffs’ lawyers don’t have to chase ambulances, they can troll attorneys general.

The moment the news hit, GNC stock plummeted about 5%.

The problem is, Mr. Schneiderman’s DNA tests, which he refuses to release, don’t support his conclusion that herbs weren’t in the pills as marketed.

Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Pieter Cohen, who like myself is a longtime critic of the $6 billion supplement industry, disputes Mr. Schneiderman’s use of DNA barcoding to reach the conclusion he did.

“That’s because DNA barcoding looks for a specific fragment of DNA, but the ingredients in herbal supplements are often highly processed — crushed, dissolved, filtered and dried — so that they may no longer contain the particular fragment of DNA that researchers are searching for, making the supplement appear to be mislabeled,” Dr. Cohen said. The biological compounds extracted from the plant—the parts that supposedly have healing powers—would be in the supplement without the DNA sought in the tests.

It’s like searching for the word “god” in a particular sentence of the bible, not finding it, and claiming your research found that there’s no god in the bible.

Mr. Schneiderman either “knew or should have known,” as lawyers like to say, that the test he used wasn’t appropriate for his conclusion.

Mr. Schneiderman either “knew or should have known,” as lawyers like to say, that the test he used wasn’t appropriate for his conclusion. That’s why it isn’t used for this purpose by the industry, its auditors, or the federal FDA. Yet Mr. Schneiderman, who said that “Secrecy breeds corruption, while transparency generates confidence” when launching an “open government” webpage, refuses to share even the basic methodology of his taxpayer-funded study.

Mr. Schneiderman’s junk science conclusion is a triple-whammy for gullible consumers. First, they think the supplements are magical pills with super-healing powers (without the risks of pharmaceuticals). Then, the anti-corporate AG tells them they’ve been defrauded, not because the herbs don’t work, but because the elixir isn’t present. Third, Mr. Schneiderman’s claim that consumers aren’t getting what they are paying for is made of whole cloth.

“Ironically,” wrote former FDA official and Hoover Institution scholar Dr. Henry Miller in Forbes, mislabeling the active ingredients would have been “the best thing about these products for consumers. Many herbal supplements are complex, highly variable and impure.”

In fact, Mr. Schneiderman’s other finding—that there were undisclosed plant products including wheat and rice—seems to be valid, and not at all surprising.

It is clear that Mr. Schneiderman believes that the FDA doesn’t have enough authority to crack down on the shady supplement industry. But that doesn’t give him license to use tactics reminiscent of 1970’s era tobacco industry chicanery to make claims that just aren’t true.

Mr. Schneiderman, New York’s prosecutor-in-chief, claims on his perpetual campaign web page that he has a record of standing up to financial institutions “that think they can play by their own rules.” Yet Mr. Schneiderman’s market-moving bogus attack on GNC and other retailers was founded entirely on his own rules-a bizarre application of a secret DNA test. Who’s going to hold him accountable?

 

[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

Green Slander: The Attacks on Climate Scientists

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 1:58 AM

It is a sure sign that the advocates of the “global warming” and “climate change” hoaxes know that the public no longer believes that the former is occurring or that the latter represents an immediate, global threat.

Even though the “climate skeptics,” scientists who have produced research proving false methodology and the conclusions based on it are quite few in number, an effort to silence them by smearing their reputations and denying funding for their work has been launched and it is based entirely on a lie.

Scientists are supposed to be skeptical, not only of other scientist’s findings, but their own. Good science must be able to reproduce the results of published research. In the case of the many computer models cited as proof that global warming was occurring or would, the passing years have demonstrated that none were accurate.

As Joseph L. Bast, president of The Heartland Institute and Joseph A. Morris, an attorney who has fought in several countries to defend free speech, wrote in a February 24 commentary, “The Crucifixion of Dr. Wei-Hock Soon,” of an article co-authored with Christopher Monckton, Matt Briggs, and David Legates, and published in the Science Bulletin, a publication of the Chinese Academy of Sciences “The article reveals what appears to be an error in the computer models used to predict global warming that leads models to over-estimate future warming by a factor of three.” (Emphasis added) Their commentary has been downloaded more than 30,000 times!

“If the work of Soon et al is confirmed by other scientists, the ‘global warming crisis’ may need to be cancelled and we can all enjoy lower taxes, fewer regulations, and more personal freedom.” However, “having failed to refute the article, environmentalists turned to smearing the authors.”

Little wonder the “Warmists” are worried; the Earth has been in a cooling cycle since 1996. People are noticing just how cold this record-breaking and record-setting winter is.

The attack on Dr. Soon began with a Greenpeace news release that was republished on the front page of The New York Times on February 22nd. Despite its august reputation, The Times’ coverage of climate issues has been an utter disgrace for decades. As public interest waned, it eliminated its staff of reporters exclusively devoted to writing about the “environment.”

Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic and director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted on February 27th that the Greenpeace attack on Dr. Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics claimed they had secured $1.2 million in funding for his research over the past decade and that it came from energy corporations, electric utilities, and charitable foundations related to those companies.  The truth, however, is “that the grants were made not to Dr. Soon but to the Smithsonian, which never complained while taking its sizable cut off the top.”

Columnist Larry Bell who is also an endowed professor at the University of Houston, disputed the Greenpeace claim, saying, “First, let’s recognize that the supporting FOIA documents referred to an agreement between the Smithsonian (not Dr. Soon) and Southern Company Services, Inc., whereby 40 percent of that more than $1.2 million went directly to the Smithsonian” leaving “an average funding of $71,000 a year for the past eleven years to support the actual research activities.”

Focusing on Greenpeace and its Climate Investigations Center which describes itself as “a group funded by foundations seeking to limit the risks of climate change”, Bell asked “Do these activist organizations make their estimated $360,000,000 annual funding publicly available?” Bell said “Ad hominem assaults disparaging the integrity of this leading authority on relationships between solar phenomena and global climate are unconscionable.”

In his article, “Vilifying realist science—and scientists,” Paul Driessen, a policy advisor to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), noted that in 2012 Greenpeace USA was the recipient of $32,791,149 and that this is true of other environmental pressure groups that in 2012 secured $111,915.138 for the Environmental Defense Fund, $98,701,707 for the Natural Resources Defense Council, $97,757,678 for the Sierra Club, and, for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, $19,150,215.

“All told,” noted Driessen, “more than 16,000 American environmental groups collect(ed) total annual revenues of over $13.4 billion (2009 figures). Only a small part of that comes from membership dues and individual contributions.”  With that kind of money you can do a lot of damage to scientist’s reputation.

They fear that the public may actually learn the truth about “global warming” and the fear-mongering claims about “climate change” does not stop with just the environmental organizations. At the same time The New York Times was printing the Greenpeace lies, U.S. Senators Ed Market (D-Mass), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined together on February 25th to send letters to 107 companies, trade associations, and non-profit groups demanding comprehensive information about all funding of research on climate or related issues.

Among the groups receiving the letter were two for whom I am a policy advisor, The Heartland Institute and CFACT, but others include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the American Energy Alliance.

Following The New York Times article, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent letters to the presidents of seven universities asking them to provide details about seven professors who are either prominent global warming skeptics.

As Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, pointed out on February 27th, that “Science as an enterprise usually doesn’t need political enforcers. But proponents of a climate alarmism that demands immediate action to avert worldwide catastrophe won’t and can’t simply let the science speak for itself.”

This is not fact-finding. It is an act of intimidation.

And it looks like a carefully organized effort to quash any research that might dispute “global warming” or “climate change” as defined by the Greens and by both the President and the Secretary of State as the greatest threat we and the rest of the world faces.

The greatest threat is the scores of environmental organizations that have been exaggerating and distorting their alleged “science” in order to thwart development here and around the world that would enhance everyone’s life. Now they are attacking real scientists, those who are skeptical of their claims, to silence them.

This is what fascists do.

[First published at Warning Signs.]

Categories: On the Blog

The real face of unemployment and underemployment

Somewhat Reasonable - February 28, 2015, 10:34 AM

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Brian Perry is a college-educated law clerk who worked at the Providence, Rhode Island-based Lovett, Scheffrin, and Harnett law firm for more than 25 years before being laid off in 2008. Since then, Perry has relentlessly searched for quality work, but he’s been unable to find anything stable. With minimal income, no solid job leads, and costs beyond what he could manage, Perry was forced to sell his home a few weeks ago.

“The sad thing is that many American families, especially here in Rhode Island, are worse off than I am,” Perry said in an interview.

Former professionals over the age of 40 are often not portrayed as the face of modern unemployment in the United States by many in the media. Americans hear a lot about recent college graduates who can’t find good jobs and about the unemployment rate in the African-American community topping 10 percent, but there isn’t a lot of talk about well-qualified job-seekers like Perry who have decades of work experience but can’t find any meaningful employment.

“But the unemployment rate has been dropping recently,” you’re undoubtedly thinking.

It’s true the unemployment rate for workers 40 and older (as well as for everyone else) has been dropping since 2010, but these figures are incredibly misleading. The primary reason for the drop is not better employment opportunities but rather is the result of millions of workers choosing to leave the labor force.

Most Americans still don’t realize it, but the government does not count people who have given up looking for work as “unemployed.” Additionally, workers who are forced to settle for far less hours and less pay are also considered “employed.” This is why one of the best ways to gauge the state of the economy is to look at the labor force participation rate instead of the unemployment rate, and an unbiased analysis of the data proves the economy is still in rough shape, regardless of what President Barack Obama says about the so-called “economic recovery.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the number of workers not in the labor force aged 45 and older was 39.3 million in 1985. By 2005, that number rose to 48.8 million. This was largely due to an increased number of Baby Boomers retiring, not a poor economy. But what took 20 years to occur in the past has occurred again during Obama’s relatively short time in office.

Since 2009, the number of people 45 and older not in the labor force grew by 9 million, and the national total in January topped 60 million, the highest figure ever recorded for that month. This is undoubtedly the result of many older Americans giving up looking for work or choosing to retire early because of a poor economy.

Some critics argue using the labor force participation rate as a gauge of the economic climate is foolish because it fails to distinguish between Americans who are no longer working because they can’t find employment and Americans who are choosing to retire because they are wealthy enough to do so.

It’s true that many Baby Boomers are just now retiring, but this cannot possibly account for the remarkable numbers mentioned above. From January 2005 to January 2009, a period when many Baby Boomers were also retiring, the number of people not in the labor force increased by roughly 2 million. This is an average increase of about 500,000 people per year. The average increase under the Obama administration has been greater than 1.5 million per year, three times that of the second half of George W. Bush’s presidency. If an aging nation is the reason for the changing workforce, the averages mentioned above should be much closer together.

My argument is buttressed by a 2013 study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave that found nearly one-quarter of all people who retire do so because of unemployment, nearly the same number of respondents who said they retired because of financial security.

Obama and many Democrats say the economy is getting better. “Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999,” Obama said during his January State of the Union address. “Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before. More of our people are insured than ever before.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said, “[There’s no] question the economic issues are an advantage for Democrats,” prior to her party getting walloped in the November 2014 elections.

In February 2014, former Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chaffee said his administration in Rhode Island created jobs and helped improve the state’s economy.

Brian Perry and millions of other Americans across the country aren’t buying it.

“I don’t think things have improved much since 2008,” Perry said. “Taxes are forcing the young and old out of their homes in this state. Rhode Island politicians and politicians in Washington, DC should realize families and businesses can’t grow in this kind of business environment. If these politicians lower taxes, more families and businesses will develop and grow. … A smart business owner would never come into this kind of situation.”

Perry is right. Unemployment figures offer nothing more than political theater. Further, the narrative that most demographics are enjoying a booming economy and only small, isolated pockets of people are still struggling just isn’t true. The economic climate as a whole is lagging, and many groups popularly thought to be “doing fine” are still limping along just like everyone else.

The current state of the economy is not solely the result of Obama’s policies. He inherited a massive financial crisis – a point the president loves to remind the nation every chance he gets. But at some point, the crisis Obama inherited became his own responsibility, as well as the responsibility of every state and local government in the nation.

Rather than hide behind manipulated employment data, politicians need to start honestly examining their failing economic policies and come up with reasonable solutions to fix them that don’t involve trillions of dollars of debt and a bankrupt nation.

“Lower taxes, eliminate unnecessary regulations, empower entrepreneurs. It’s not rocket science,” Perry said, proving once again why we need working-class Americans in government.

[Originally published on Human Events]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jesse Hathaway: Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2015, 4:56 PM

Managing Editor of Budget and Tax News, Jesse Hathaway was a guest on The Brian Thomas Show on 550 WKRC-AM where he discussed Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws. Hathaway and Thomas discussed examples of when these laws are enforced and how they trample on due process.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate ‘Witch Hunt’ Backfires

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2015, 4:27 PM

Sens. Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, have sent letters to 107 universities, companies, think tanks and trade groups demanding information about funding for eight scientists and any work that expresses even the slightest amount of skepticism over catastrophic human caused climate change.

In their testimonies before Congress these eight scientists have offered a varying degree of skepticism that humans are the primary driver of climate, and/or that specific policies being proposed by government to deal with the issue of climate change were going to be ineffective at curbing climate change, or too costly. Every one of these experts agrees that the climate is changing and that humans have some impact. Every one of these experts agrees that the climate is changing and that humans have some impact, they have simply raised concerns about some aspects of the science, the economics, or cost and benefits of policies that are being presented to deal with human caused climate change.

The extremist left members of Congress are targeting: Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Roger Pielke, Jr. of The University of Colorado; Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology; David Legates of the University of Delaware; John Christy of the University of Alabama; Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Robert Balling of Arizona State University; and Steven Hayward of Pepperdine University.

As a result of these inquiries, many scientists, members of the media, and others have rightly equated these inquiries and pressure to McCarthyism. Even Michael Mann, a Penn State climate scientist who is one of the biggest advocates for government action to address climate change, told the National Journal, “It does come across as sort of heavy-handed and overly aggressive.”

The American Meteorological Society sent a letter to Grijalva saying: “Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers. Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.”

Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee also sent a letter to the same 107 groups expressing concerns over the attacks on academic freedom. The letter explains: “Institutions of higher-learning and non-governmental funding are vital to facilitating such research and scientific inquiry. Limiting research and science to only those who receive federal government resources would undermine and slow American education, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.”

According to the New York Times, “Andrew Dessler, a mainstream climate researcher and a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M University, said that he had concerns about ‘fishing expeditions’ by Congress into researchers’ work, especially drafts of testimony requested in the letters from Representative Grijalva.”

Professor Pielke explained on his blog: “The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues…I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: ‘when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.’”

Dr. Curry has responded by writing, “It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus.”

Instead of having a real conversation with the American public about the science and economics of climate change, well-financed advocacy groups and politicians with many “conflicts of interests” of their own would rather direct the public’s focus on who funds non-profit organizations, independent research institutions, scientists, economists, and other experts.

This “witch hunt” has nothing to do with the scientists and organizations and their stances on public policy issues. These attacks are leveled by people who refuse to engage in civil debate over important matters of science, economics, and public policy, and they should not be allowed to win the day.

Letter by Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OKla.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), today led all EPW Republicans in a letter promoting scientific discovery and academic freedom. The letter was sent to the same 107 recipients of letters sent earlier this week by Congressional Democrats to universities, private companies, trade groups, and non-profit organizations, asking for detailed information on funding climate science. As explained in the EPW Republican letter sent today, there is a real concern the Democrats inquiry may impose a chilling effect on scientific inquiry and free speech.

“Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the [Democrats] letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry,” said the Senators in today’s letter.

There has been a public outcry in response to the Democrats letters. Noted climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann spoke of the letters calling them “heavy handed and overly aggressive.” Earlier today the American Meteorological Society warned that the letters sent by Congressional Democrats send a “chilling message to all academic researchers.”

“At the end of the day, those disagreeing with certain scientific findings should judge them based on whether or not they are sound and transparent,” said Chairman Inhofe.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

February 27, 2014

Dear _______,

We write in regards to the recent request for information on your support of scientific research initiated by several of our colleagues in the United States Congress. At the outset, we are deeply concerned the letter calls into question the importance of scientific discovery and academic freedom. Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry.

Federal government-sponsored research is good and necessary, but such funding has limits. The federal government does not have a monopoly on funding high-quality scientific research, and many of the nation’s environmental laws require decisions be based on the best scientific information available—not just federally funded research. At the core of American ingenuity are those researchers who challenge the status quo whether in matters of climate, economics, medicine, or any field of study. Institutions of higher-learning and non-governmental funding are vital to facilitating such research and scientific inquiry. Limiting research and science to only those who receive federal government resources would undermine and slow American education, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.

The credibility of a scientific finding, research paper, report, or advancement should be weighed on its compliance with the scientific method and ability to meet the principles of sound science; in short, it should be weighed on its merits. The scientific method is a process marked by skepticism and testing, rather than dogma. If the work can be reproduced and independent experts have a fair chance to validate the findings then it is sound, irrespective of funding sources. Science the federal government uses to support regulatory decisions should also comply with the integrity, quality, and transparency requirements under the Information Quality Act and Office of Management and Budget Guidelines.

Indeed, science is only one criterion we must take into consideration when developing laws and regulations. Credible deliberation requires thoughtful analysis and an understanding of the economy, policy, and legal framework in which we function. Dissenting opinions fostered through the encouragement of all ideas is what truly facilitates intellectual prosperity and political discourse.

The letter you received from our colleagues is a wholly inappropriate effort to challenge these well-accepted truths. We ask you to not be afraid of political repercussions or public attacks regardless of how you respond. Above all, we ask that you continue to support scientific inquiry and discovery, and protect academic freedom despite efforts to chill free speech.
Sincerely,

Sen. Jim Inhofe, Chairman
Sen. David Vitter
Sen. John Barrasso
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito
Sen. Mike Crapo
Sen. John Boozman
Sen. Jeff Sessions
Sen. Rodger F. Wicker
Sen. Deb Fischer
Sen. Mike Rounds
Sen. Dan Sullivan
###

Categories: On the Blog

The Word from Brazil

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2015, 1:45 PM

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro from February 13 through the 17th was one heck of a party. It was celebrated by the locals, plus an estimated one million visitors, complete with fabulous parades, street parties and balls. Brazil is blessed with some great beaches, the most famous of which is Ipanema, thanks to the 1962 bossa nova classic “Girl from Ipanema”.

Brazil shares borders every other nation in South America except Ecuador and Chile, and has a range of geographic features from the Amazon rain forest to jungles, towering mountains, rivers and rolling plains. In 2016 Brazil will host the Summer Olympics.

I suspect that’s about the only knowledge of Brazil that most Americans have. Brazil is the largest nation in South America. Its most densely populated parts are in the south-central regions that include major cities like San Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The only Portuguese-speaking nation in both North and South America, it has enjoyed economic growth, but that has slowed.

A friend from Brazil shared news that was not likely to show up except on the business pages because U.S. media tend to ignore Brazil and South America unless its bad news. Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras, has been caught up in a huge scandal that will lead to criminal proceedings. In early February, its CEO, Gracas Foster, and five other top executives resigned.

It’s a kickback scandal and what makes Brazil a place to watch is the fact that its president, Dilma Rousseff, served on Petrobras board of directors from 2003 to 2010 when the prosecutors allege that the kickbacks were occurring. Her political party is alleged to have received billions in money skimmed from the company.

In October 2014, she was reelected in what The Telegraph described as a “dramatic run-off and a tense campaign” which she won “by a whisker”, just 51.6% of the vote. She was the candidate of the Worker’s Party. The months leading up to the election included mass protests, the corruption scandal, and a stalling economy, slipping back into recession for the first time in five years.

Petrobras is the perfect example of why a government-run enterprise, socialism, is never a good idea. Worth $310 billion in 2008 and valued as the world’s fifth-largest company, today it is worth just $48 billion. There is a definite sense of crisis in Brazil as its government is posting record budget deficits after a collapse in prices for the soy, oil, and iron that the country exports. Its currency, the real, has seen a drop in value for the past six months. One observer suggests a possible military intervention to remove the president and others involved in the Petrobras scandal.

All that is bad news, but on top of it San Paulo, Brazil’s commercial capital, is running out of water as the reservoirs that supply the nearly twenty million people in the metropolitan area are close to running dry. The water literally goes off around 1 PM until the next day for a few hours but the state water utility denies it is rationing it. The water problem is estimated to last for four to five more years.

America has a long history of isolationism. Early Americans came here to get away from the problems in their home countries, but those problems have ways of affecting our lives as we have seen with the turmoil of Islamic fascism in the Middle East.

We would be well advised to keep an eye on Brazil (and Argentina and Venezuela) and hope it can resolve its current problems, but we can also give thanks that the U.S. is enjoying a boom in energy reserves, particularly oil and natural gas, that protects us against potential upheaval elsewhere in the world.

If we replace the current U.S. administration with one that understands and supports the growth of our energy sector, we will be on our way to a brighter future.

Categories: On the Blog

“Regurgitate Unsupportable Accusations, We Much?” Kert Davies is Back. Again

Somewhat Reasonable - February 26, 2015, 2:17 PM

A brief word of explanation about the first part of that title, it’s a variation of the “Resist, we much” teleprompter reading gaffe by the Reverend Al Sharpton, where he meant to say “Resist, we must” on his TV show. It lends itself to a variety of other overblown political situations which beg for a “Sharptonism” parody. The latest instances where Boston GlobeNew York Times, and Washington Post articles cited Kert Davies’ supposedly damaging documents (screencaptures herehere and here), in an effort to trash skeptic climate scientist Dr Willie Soon, invites exactly that kind of parody.

Funny how none of those publications bothers to mention (hiding appearances of bias, we much?) Davies’ former position as Greenpeace’s Research Director.

Regarding the Washington Post article in particular, the comical aspect of it is how the lateWashPo editor Ben Bradlee must be spinning in his grave at the sight of Chris Mooney as its author – Mooney being nothing like the thorough reporters who investigated the Watergate scandal under Bradlee’s command, but is instead apparently too much in love with Ross Gelbspan’s ‘industry-corrupt skeptic climate scientists’ accusation, as I described in my 2011 WUWT guest post. Conspicuous by its absence in Mooney’sWashPo bio is his association with Desmogblog, the anti-skeptic site built around the works of Ross Gelbspan.

But, that’s only part of the silliness. It isn’t simply that Kert Davies is also the source of this ‘breaking’ story for nine different science journals, it is the plain fact that there is nothing new in these reports that wasn’t already seen in older reports on Dr Soon which cited Davies just the same way.

The June 28, 2011 Reuters report about Dr Willie Soon’s “$1 million in funding” had the following quote from Davies:

“A campaign of climate change denial has been waged for over twenty years by Big Oil and Big Coal,” said Kert Davies, a research director at Greenpeace US.

“Scientists like Dr. Soon who take fossil fuel money and pretend to be independent scientists are pawns.”

The UK Guardian’s same-day variation written by John Vidal contained the identical quote from Davies, but Vidal skipped the last sentence in the Reuters article where Dr Soon said he’d gladly accept Greenpeace funding. An internet search of just that date and Dr Soon’s name shows just how far and wide those twin stories were spread.

Want to see a fun circular citation in action? Greenpeace’s own ExxonSecrets web site (created and run by Davies) has a page dedicated to Dr Soon, where it cites the above John Vidal Guardian article as the source to say Dr Soon received a million dollars of ‘big oil’ funding. Who did Vidal cite for that? Greenpeace.

All of that was in the summer of 2011. But back in the summer of 2009 — stop the presses — Kert Davies himself gave us the same ‘breaking news’ about Dr Soon’s funding at the Huffington Post (by default, HuffPo shows Davies current “Director, Climate Investigations Center” title, but rest assured that the Internet Archive for his 2009 article shows his then-current “Research Director for Greenpeace US” title):

Finally. After years of denying its role in the campaign of climate denial, Exxon has revealed a dirty secret, that it has and likely still is directly funding junk scientists. …

The new Exxon Giving report shows straight pipe funding, in the odd but specific sum of $76,106 to the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, home of Dr. Willie Soon…

Back in 2007, a giant 176 page official complaint was lodged at Ofcom, (the UK’s communications regulator of broadcasts) about skeptic climate scientists seen in the British video “The Great Global Warming Swindle”, and the complaint went so far as to include its criticism of Dr Soon’s non-speaking contribution to the film, while noting his ‘big oil’ funding. Who did the complaint cite for news of that? Kert Davies. Stop the presses! Breaking news!

However, this GelbspanFiles blog focuses on the origins of the overall smear of skeptic climate scientists. To see how Kert Davies fits into that, we have to go back about a decade earlier.

Prior to starting at Greenpeace in 2000, Davies worked at Ozone Action, the organization that merged into Greenpeace USA in 2000. Prior to that, he worked at the Environmental Working Group, which produced an undated Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR) report titled “Affiliations of Selected Global Warming Skeptics” (“Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action”’s copy here), which says the following near the end of page 2….

Willie Soon
Suspected fossil fuel funding – Compensation for services to Western Fuels Assoc. funded project

… and this on its page 3:

Organizational affiliations are from CLEARS database, compiled from primary sources and media reports. Additional research assistance provided by Ozone Action.
Funding information primarily compiled from:
Ross Gelbspan, The Heat is On. Perseus Books: Reading, Massachusetts. 1997,1998
Ross Gelbspan, “The Heat is On,” Harpers. December 1995.
Ozone Action, Ties That Blind: Industry Influence on Public Policy and our Environment. March-December, 1996. …

Pages 4 through 10 at that Greenpeace scan collection is of CLEAR’s November 10, 1998 (one month after Davies began working at Ozone Action) report titled “Western Fuels Association’s Astroturf Empire.” Page 7 paraphrases a section of Ozone Action’s “Ties That Blind” report, having these key words:

According to documents obtained by environmental group Ozone Action and journalist Ross Gelbspan, ICE messaging strategies included targeting “older, less educated males” … and “younger, lower income women.” ICE’s stated goal was to reposition global warming as theory (not fact).”

My educated guess is that Gelbspan and Ozone Action ‘obtained’ those documents (assuming their statement is accurate) sometime around late 1995, since Gelbspan first mentioned them in a December 1995 radio interview. Who did they ‘obtain’ the documents from? Well, the above CLEAR report mentions the same “older, less educated males”/ “younger, lower income women” seen in Al Gore’s 1992 book. Note how Gore’s 1992 book pre-dates Gelbspan’s 1995 radio interview quote of those same words… yet Gore later prominently said Gelbspan discovered that memo set.

I can at least say Kert Davies had ties with Ozone Action as far back as 1997, since Greenpeace saved a copy (screencapture here) of his July 29, 1997 email from his Environmental Working Group address to a person at Ozone Action.

What is the critical missing element to this 20-year collection of ‘breaking news stories’ about skeptic scientists’ funding? Any scrap of evidence proving the skeptics falsified/fabricated data or conclusions as performance required under a monetary grant or paid employee contract. It’s all guilt-by-association and nothing more.

When gullible news outlets unquestioningly cite people from the same enviro-activist clique every time, failing to realize they could win Pulitzers if they turned the tables on sources of smear material, and when they egregiously allow members of that clique to be labeled as ‘reporters’, this all invites one more “Sharptonism” to be applied to the mainstream media:

Commit political suicide, we much?

 

[Originally published at GelbspanFiles]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Dr. Brad Rodu: Tobacco Harm Reduction

Somewhat Reasonable - February 26, 2015, 1:39 PM

In this episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, research fellow Jesse Hathaway is joined by Dr. Brad Rodu, Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Hathaway and Rodu talk about how the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  corrupt the scientific process in academia, by refusing to fund studies which do not conform to the federal government’s stated vision of a “tobacco-free world.”

According to Rodu, scientific research into tobacco harm reduction is rarely conducted, not because it lacks merit, but because the federal government provides the vast majority of funding for university research. In turn, studies are tweaked by researchers seeking grants, gaining lucrative grants by confirming the government’s preferred narratives and preconceived ideas.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Two Approaches to Climate Science

Somewhat Reasonable - February 25, 2015, 7:21 PM

www.livescience.com

I saw this blog a few weeks back but haven’t had a chance to share it until now. An interesting take on at least one way many climate alarmists differ from climate realists.

From a very interesting blog site, Bishop-Hill:

A colleague at work describes the difference as roughly the “trust me crowd” versus the “show me crowd”. The trust me crowd can show that some anthropogenic climate change has happened in the past and that models suggest that future conditions are going to get worse. They produce their documentation via the peer reviewed press and in doing so address all the touchstones of the scientific method. Having met the high bar of “good science” they anticipate that their word will be taken as good.

The show me crowd looks at the “good science” and points out that many historical predictions of doom and gloom (that previously met the test of good science) have been shown to be overheated or just plain wrong. They also point out that the best models have not done a very good job with respect to the “pause”. Given this they ask for a demonstration that the next prediction is going to be better than the last one. This does not mean that they deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming. Rather they are not comfortable with cataclysmic predictions and calls for immediate action prior to a demonstration that those predictions can be supported with something approaching real data.

Both the exchange that follows this post and the one that sparked the quote above are interesting reading.

 

Categories: On the Blog

The Crucifixion of Dr. Wei-Hock Soon

Somewhat Reasonable - February 25, 2015, 3:44 PM

Extremists on the eco-left refuse to refute Willie Soon’s science.

 

By: Joseph L. Bast and Joseph A. Morris

In recent weeks, Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, a distinguished solar astrophysicist, coauthored with Christopher Monckton, Matt Briggs, and David Legates an important work of original scholarship in the Science Bulletin (previously titled Chinese Science Bulletin), a publication of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The article reveals what appears to be an error in the computer models used to predict global warming that leads models to over-estimate future warming by a factor of three. The article has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, a huge number for a peer-reviewed journal article.

You might expect environmentalists, policymakers, and reporters to celebrate this new finding, since it means a potential threat to the environment and human health has been found to be less likely than previously thought. If the work of Soon et al. is confirmed by other scientists, the “global warming crisis” may need to be cancelled and we can all enjoy lower taxes, fewer regulations, and more personal freedom.

But this is not how environmentalists and others reacted. Instead, they denounced the article, often apparently without even having read it or understood it. [See herehere, and here.] Christopher Monckton, one of the article’s coauthors, ably defended the article from these criticisms. Having failed to refute the article, environmentalists turned to smearing the authors.

Forecast the Facts – a creepy front group created by the left-of-center Center for American Progress to attack meteorologists who don’t toe the environmentalists’ line on global warming – launched  a petition to the Smithsonian Institution demanding that Dr. Soon be fired. They claim to have more than 20,000 signatures on it.

The petition is brief:

 Dr. Willie Soon — an astrophysicist employed by the Smithsonian — is a go-to “scientist” for climate deniers in Congress, despite his lack of climate credentials. Worse yet, he’s received research grants exclusively from fossil fuel companies and dark money groups since 2002.

Now The Boston Globe is reporting that Soon just published a paper on climate change without disclosing his fossil fuel funding — a violation of the journal’s ethics code and a no-no in the science community.

Tell the Smithsonian: Don’t lend your good name to fossil fuel-funded climate denial. Drop Dr. Willie Soon.

The claim that Dr. Soon lacks “climate credentials” is false and meant to harm his reputation. Dr. Soon is a distinguished astrophysicist with many published articles in peer-reviewed climate science journals. A bio at heartland.org/willie-soon lists many publications and awards and features this quotation from Freeman Dyson, one of the world’s most respected physicists: “The whole point of science is to question accepted dogmas. For that reason, I respect Willie Soon as a good scientist and a courageous citizen.’’

Forecast the Facts’ second lie is more serious, because alleging a violation of professional ethics is taken seriously in the academy. Dr. Soon and his coauthors told the editor ofScience Bulletin,  “None of the authors has received funding from any source for this work. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.”

The petition misrepresents a Boston Globe article which reported only that an environmental group “accused” Dr. Soon and his coauthors of failing to report possible conflicts of interest to the journal’s editor. The petition fails to tell potential signers that the article quoted Soon’s coauthor, Christopher Monckton, vigorously refuting the claim. It also fails to note the reporter said the Science Bulletin had not responded to a request for comment, so he had no way of knowing whether there was a “violation of the journal’s ethics code.”

We have reviewed the Science Bulletin’s  policy regarding disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and the coauthors’ letter to the editor explaining their decision to declare no conflicts of interest. We believe the coauthors were correct and there was no violation of the journal’s ethics code.

The phrasing of this petition is plainly misleading, making it meaningless regardless of how many people are fooled into signing it. It should immediately be withdrawn and a public apology extended to Dr. Soon.

Regrettably, this fake petition is typical of the tactics used by the left in the global warming debate. Good men like Dr. Soon and his coauthors are being demeaned, threatened, and their careers put at risk by organizations and individuals that rarely get named, much less criticized, in the mainstream media.

That’s wrong and ought to change.

[Originally published at Breitbart]

Categories: On the Blog

Bad Earnings and Subsidy Controversy Hound Musk, Tesla

Somewhat Reasonable - February 25, 2015, 3:38 PM

Last time NLPC checked on Tesla Motors – as 2014 closed – we noted a growing skepticism largely due to CEO Elon Musk’s consistent habit of overpromising production and results, without delivering.

Then ten days ago he reported year-end earnings, and matters have worsened, although you wouldn’t know it from most of the undeterred “rah-rah” media and Wall Street fanboys. But there are exceptions.

First, the brutal basics – Tesla suffered a fourth-quarter loss of $107.6 million, which was nearly seven times the loss ($16.3 million) during the same period last year. The company lost $294 million for the whole year, compared to a $74 million loss in 2013, and has not recorded a profit in its history (except in a couple of quarters where it employed accounting gimmickry and depended heavily on subsidies). According to Associated Press, analysts expected a profit of 30 cents per share, but Tesla delivered a 13 cents-per-share loss in the fourth quarter. High hopes for sales in China were not met. Dependence on government subsidies – much of it via the market-distorted zero-emission vehicle credits – prevented Tesla from experiencing an even worse loss. And while the company is already rapidly burning cash, Musk announced on the February 12 earnings call that he plans “to spend staggering amounts of money” in 2015.

Add those dismal outcomes to previous reported performance shortcomings such as phantom battery swapping stations, unimpressive “Superchargers” and unrealized battery and vehicle production, and you’d think you’re looking at a company facing bankruptcy. Instead we see a respected Morgan Stanley analyst who says not to worry about Tesla’s cash burn because its technology is “capable” of “disruption” in the auto industry! And as for the common projection that the electric automaker isn’t likely to be profitable before 2020 – no problem!

Nevertheless, as was suggested by NLPC two months ago, the doubts about Tesla’s viability are increasing. Most caustic about the February earnings report was CNBC’s Jim Cramer, who flatly called it a “bad company” with great cars. The host of “Mad Money” roasted Musk for the many excuses he made for the poor fourth quarter performance.

In an essay for TheStreet.com (where he is co-founder and chairman), Cramer mocked Musk’s explanation for poor sales that claimed it was impossible to deliver cars because of “customers being on vacation, severe winter weather and shipping problems.” He blamed failures in China on “brain-dead” salesmen. As for the accounting, Musk said, “our financials are better than they appear, not worse.” And then there are the constant-but-unjustified favorable comparisons of Tesla to Apple, which are usually made by green-techies and Wall Street positivists, which Musk embraces. He said with consistent growth and “significant” capital expenditures the company could parallel Apple in ten years.

“To which I say, where the heck is the money going to come from? The cultists?” wondered Cramer, invoking a term he uses to characterize Tesla investors.

Less sarcastic but similarly concerned was analyst Karl Brauer of Kelly Blue Book. He sees Tesla at a critical point where if it doesn’t come through with a timely delivery of the long-expected Model X SUV this year, and the lower-cost Model 3 after that, the consequences could be difficult to overcome. That’s not encouraging considering Musk’s track record.

“In 2015 there’s going to be no getting away from these big rocks he’s got to move,” Brauer said to the Silicon Valley Business Journal. “We’re starting to hit an inflection point where things kind of have to go really well and if any one of them unravels, everything does.”

Then there are the increasing calls to shut off Tesla’s subsidies. The editorialists at Wall Street Journal Europe noted the company has benefited from more than $300 million in public support since 2011, while it’s valued at about $27 billion (on the stock market).

“Capitalism needs visionaries, but its reputation suffers when companies worth billions soak middle-class taxpayers for profits,” the Journal opined. “Turn off the taxpayer tap, Mr. Musk. It would earn you more friends for the long haul.”

And Bloomberg’s editors slammed the zero-emissions vehicle credits scheme.

“The success of electric cars generally – and of Tesla in particular – is due in no small part to a government mandate,” they wrote. “And that mandate is distorting the auto market without clear evidence that it’s going to achieve its stated purpose.”

Those are not promising indicators for the glib CEO and the company that heavily depends on the public dole and ever-“reachable” (but never reached) production goals. While Tesla’s stock has recovered somewhat from the earnings call 10 days ago, it is down about 25 percent from the high it reached last summer. But a large contingent of prognosticators continue to advise betting on Musk, with the legally required cautions.

Cramer is not among them, and the financial report was defining.

“This was a fiasco miss of immense proportions, coupled with the arrogance of a Steve Jobs, without the wonderment to back it up.”

[First posted at NLPC.]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Neal Mccluskey: Reviving the Spirit of Inquiry in Higher Education

Somewhat Reasonable - February 25, 2015, 11:00 AM

Heather Kays speaks with Associate Director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, Neal Mccluskey, about a recent Cato forum which focused on limited political ideologies presented in U.S. Colleges. Their conversation questions if and how academic centers can introduce additional perspectives to academia.

The event discussed by Kays and McCluskey was held February 5 and included: C. Bradley Thompson, executive director for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University; Christopher Hill, fellow at The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization; John A. Allison, president and CEO of the Cato Institute, and former Chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation; and Jay Schalin, director of policy analysis at the John W. Pope Center for Education Policy. McCluskey moderated the forum.

The forum participants spoke about Western civilization, free markets and other conservative and libertarian subjects.

Video of the event can be viewed here: http://www.cato.org/events/private-funding-public-debate-reviving-spirit-inquiry-higher-education?n_play=54c2be82e4b084b4892a4c2f#5I4PL9:BTu

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

Categories: On the Blog

Banning Industrial Sand Mining Would Be a Mistake

Somewhat Reasonable - February 24, 2015, 10:46 PM

If the Houston County (Minnesota) Board votes to ban fracking tonight, it won’t because the board members are basing their decision on the best available science.

Banning sand mining in Houston County would be a detrimental policy decision, because the available evidence from Wisconsin shows sand mining does not threaten the environment or the tourism industry. Sand mining can be a positive contributor to local economies that creates quality job opportunities and infuses much-needed wealth into a variety of other businesses.

Air Quality

Studies have repeatedly shown industrial sand mining does not reduce air quality or put the public at risk of developing silicosis. A study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in Winona found dust levels were so low along a frac-sand hauling route that their air monitors were unable to detect any respirable crystalline silica dust on 94.7 percent of the days sampled over a seven-month period. When dust was detected, it was only one-sixth the levels deemed dangerous by MPCA.

Other studies of Wisconsin frac-sand facilities showed levels of respirable crystalline silica are well within background levels characteristic of agricultural rural areas, meaning dust levels are far below concentrations that could be considered dangerous.

Water

Water is an invaluable resource, and activities that put the quality and quantity of clean, drinkable water at risk should not be permitted. Fortunately, sand mining does not pose a risk to our water.

Data from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) show industrial sand mining accounted for just 0.11 percent of all water withdrawals in 2013. In comparison, irrigation accounted for 5 percent of total water consumption, 45 times more water than sand operations used for mining and processing. In addition, sand-mining companies operate closed-loop water systems, meaning they recycle the vast majority (up to 90 percent) of the water they use. Sand mining will not deplete the water supply.

Sand mining will not threaten water quality either. Much of the concern about the potential impact on the quality of water revolves around the use of flocculants to remove small clay particles from the water so it can be recycled. One of the most common flocculants used is polyacrylamide, which can contain trace amounts of acrylamide, a neurotoxin. However, acrylamide breaks down quickly into carbon dioxide and ammonia in the environment, making it unlikely to pose a health threat. Within 14 days, 74–94 percent of acrylamide breaks down in oxygen-rich soils, and 64–89 percent in oxygen-poor soils. Because horizontal groundwater flow velocities are typically on the order of centimeters per day, acrylamide does not last long in groundwater.

There have been incidents of storm-water runoff violations, but these sorts of problems can be prevented by having proper standards for storm water retaining ponds and proper regulatory oversight, so there is no need to ban sand mining.

Tourism

Despite claims industrial sand mining could negatively impact tourism, data from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism show no evidence indicating tourism has declined as a result of the industrial sand-mining industry. Direct visitor spending increased in 18 of the 22 silica-sand producing counties from 2012 to 2013, and total business sales increased in 21 of 22 of these counties.

Employment

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show industrial sand mining employed 189 people in Wisconsin in 2002. A recent article reports there are probably more than 3,000 people employed in this industry. These are quality jobs that typically have total annual earnings, including benefits and 401k contributions, between $65,000 and $75,000. These earnings are two to three times as high as those for most tourism jobs.

Sand is needed for livestock bedding and construction aggregate, and it is also needed for foundries, glassmaking, and energy development. We rely on oil and natural gas to enable us to pick up our kids from school and keep us warm in the winter; these are needs, not luxuries.

Silica sand mining can bring high-paying jobs to southern Minnesota with minimal threat of environmental damage. The Houston County Board has a responsibility to base its decisions regarding sand mining on the best-available science, and the science says silica-sand mining will do no harm and much good.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Isaac Orr: Introducing Bette Grande to Energy Team

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

Research Fellow Isaac Orr introduces the latest addition to The Heartland Institute’s team, Research Fellow Bette Grande. Bette is a former legislator from North Dakota who served in the ND legislature for nearly two decades. During that time she specialized in pension reform and energy issues.

Bette and Isaac also talk about oil production in North Dakota as oil prices have fallen by 50 percent from their highs in June, and how this affects state budget planning. One budget measure that has become hotly contested in the face of lower crude prices is a measure called “The Surge,” an influx of funds to repair infrastructure and pay for other public services in the oil-producing region of the state.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Incompetent, Abusive, Dishonest and Anti-Transparent Government is About to Power Grab the Internet

Somewhat Reasonable - February 24, 2015, 3:48 PM

Thursday is for freedom a very bad day.  That is the day the free speech-free market Xanadu that is the Internet will be unilaterally seized by the Barack Obama Administration.

Per the President’s demand, the allegedly independent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pretending to be Congress – and writing new Web-regulating law for themselves.  And on Thursday they will vote on it – and thereby grab expansive, broad and deep overlording powers.

The President influencing the FCC is at the very least problematic – if not illegal.

House to Probe White House Role in FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Proposal

Senate Investigating Whether Obama Meddled with the FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan

In defense of the Commission’s apparent lackey-esque capitulation, Special Counsel for External Affairs Gigi Sohn “reassured” us:

“There are…places where our proposal is actually stronger than President Obama’s proposal.”

“Our power grab is even worse than President Obama’s” isn’t very reassuring.

Obama’s One-Man Rule Amounts To A ‘Gradual, Quiet Coup’

President Obama’s Immigration Plan: Rewriting the Law

Obama Rewrites The Law Again, IRS Waives Obamacare Subsidy Clawback Penalties

Obama Rewrites ‘No Child’ Law

Obama Proposes Massive Gun Ban by Regulation Fiat

The FCC is allegedly an “expert agency” – and they will apply this expertise to their command-and-control of the Web.

Government Agency That Wants To Commandeer The Internet Just Had Their Website Crash – Twice

Oops.  Well, perhaps the combined technological expertise of the entire $4-trillion-a-year federal government will help.

Technology Failures Grow All Too Common in Government Projects

High-Risk List: Government IT Projects Fail ‘Too Frequently’

Traffic Didn’t Crash the Obamacare Site Alone. Bad Coding Did Too

Three Months Later, State Department Hasn’t Rooted Out Hackers

Not so much.  Well at least they’re experts at other things – maybe it will rub off.

Why Does Government Fail So Often?

A Fatal Wait: Veterans Languish and Die on Veterans Administration Secret List

Why Are We Not Talking About the Federal Government’s $123 Trillion In Unfunded Liabilities?

Not so much.  Well they don’t wield well their massive power – but at least they don’t abuse it.

Constitutional Experts Call Obama’s Abuse of Power Historic

New IRS Scandal Revives Past Allegations Against Agency

Gov’t Obtains Wide AP Phone Records in Probe

Obama’s ‘Abuse of Power’ Argument on Recess Appointments

Not so much.  Is our data safe in government hands?

‘Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,’ Read Emails, Texts, IMs

Think NSA Spying Is Bad? Here Comes ObamaCare Hub

Confirmed: US Counterterrorism Agency Can Amass Data On Any Citizen

Not so much.  Are they at least honest and transparent with us?

Obama’s “Keep Your Plan” Promise Labeled “Lie of the Year”

Obama’s ‘Blame the Video’ Fraud Started in Cairo, Not Benghazi

EPA Chief’s Secret ‘Alias’ Email Account Revealed

Jon Stewart Accuses Kathleen Sebelius of Lying to Him About ObamaCare

Not so much.  Do they at least want to correct things – and admire and appreciate those inside government who point out this endless stream of abuses and failures?

The FCC is just like every other federal Department, Agency, Commission and Board – hopelessly incompetent, abusive, dishonest and anti-transparent.

The Obama Administration’s War on Whistleblowers

Obama has Prosecuted More Whistleblowers than All Other Presidents Combined

Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 25 Times the Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents Combined

Not so much.  Do they at least want to work with the media – you know, “The most transparent administration in history?”

President Obama Promised Transparency and Open Government. He Failed Miserably

Obama Administration Has Gone To Unprecedented Lengths To Thwart Journalists

New York Times Reporter: Obama Admin “Most Closed, Control-Freak Administration I’ve Ever Covered”

Not so much.

Does the FCC behave any differently than any other tentacle of the Leviathan?

FCC: Lifeline Program Fraud and Abuse Surpasses Two Million Subscribers

FCC Admits CableCARD a Failure

FCC Votes Itself 17.2% USF E-Rate Tax Increase

The FCC’s Plan To Steamroll State Laws Against Government Broadband

Not so much.  And what of the FCC’s looming Net Neutrality power grab?  Can we get a peek – in the interest of transparency?

(Obama-Campaign-Cash-Bundler FCC) Chairman Wheeler Won’t Release Net Neutrality Draft

Not so much.  Why not?

“What you have suggested in terms of releasing the preliminary discussion draft of the Order runs contrary to Commission procedure followed over the years….”

Their defense of their anti-transparency – is years and years of precedent anti-transparency.

Speaking of anti-transparency – and abuse of power, and silencing critics, and…

Top Pai Aide Says Press Release Was Blocked

Matthew Berry, chief of staff to FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, took to Twitter earlier this week to suggest “FCC leadership” was attempting to prevent the commissioner from posting a press release excerpting critics of network neutrality regulation.

Pai has been extremely outspoken in his criticism of chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan—he calls it the President’s plan—to reclassify ISPs under some Title II regs as a way to support new network neutrality rules.

Asked what Berry meant by a Feb. 18 tweet saying “FCC leadership now trying to block Commissioner Pai’s press releases from FCC website. So much for Open Internet!,” Berry said that the FCC’s Office of Media Relations “told us that the Office of General Counsel had directed that our statement be removed from the website.”

So the FCC is just like every other federal Department, Agency, Commission and Board – hopelessly incompetent, abusive, dishonest and anti-transparent.

And they’re about to commandeer control of the Internet.

Well, the Web was fun while it lasted.

Next up: The conga line to the courthouse – to sue to undo this egregious overreach.

AT&T Ready to Sue FCC Over Net Neutrality

NCTA Will Probably Sue FCC Over Title II Regulation

Smaller Cable Companies Hint They’ll Sue the FCC on Net Neutrality, Too

What we can do: Call our respective Congressmen and Senators and tell them to do everything in their power (there’s quite a bit, actually) to rein in the rogue FCC.

(202) 224-3121.

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate Con Goes On

Somewhat Reasonable - February 24, 2015, 3:41 PM

Global climate negotiators applaud their work in Lima in 2014.

Some 200 nations may sign a “modest” Kyoto II climate treaty, say December 2014 media reports from Lima, Peru. But will developing nations agree to stop using coal to generate electricity? No. Curtail economic growth? No. Cease emitting carbon dioxide? Maybe, but only a little, sometime in the future, when it is more convenient to do so, without binding commitments. Then why would they sign a treaty?

Primarily because they expect to get free energy technology transfers, and billions of dollars a year in climate “mitigation, adaptation and reparation” money from Western nations that they blame (and which blame themselves) for the “dangerous climate change,” rising seas and “extreme weather” that they claim are “unprecedented” and due to carbon dioxide emissions during the 150 years since the Industrial Revolution began. These FRCs (Formerly Rich Countries) have implemented low-carbon energy policies and penalties that have strangled their economies, dramatically increased energy prices and killed millions of jobs. But now poor developing countries demand that they also transfer $100 billion per year, for decades (with most of that probably going to their governing elites’ Swiss banks accounts).

Where is this likely taking us? President Obama has long promised to “fundamentally transform” the U.S. economy and ensure that electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.” His edicts are doing precisely that. And now Christiana Figueres, the UN’s chief climate change official, has declared that her unelected bureaucrats are undertaking “probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the [global] economic development model.” [emphasis added] Her incredible admission underscores what another high-ranking IPCC official said several years ago: “Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection. The next world climate summit is actually an economy summit, during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.”

Why would any sane families or nations consign their fates to such insane, perverse arrangements? The arrangements are being imposed on them, through force, fabrication and fraud.

Poor, middle and working class families will get little but more layoffs, further reductions in living standards and longer postponement of dreams. But meanwhile Climate Chaos, Inc. (Big Green, Big Government, alarmist scientists, crony corporatist “green” energy companies, and allied universities and scientific groups) will become richer, gain more control over our lives and livelihoods, and rarely be held accountable for the damage they cause. Retracting their “dangerous manmade climate change” tautologies would endanger their money, power and reputations.

That’s why their hypotheses, assertions, intentions and computer models always trump reality. It’s why they are increasingly vicious and relentless in vilifying realist scientists like Willie Soon who challenge their “97% consensus” and “manmade climate catastrophe” mantras – and in demanding that the news media ignore experts and analyses that do not toe the Climate Chaos line. They denigrate realists as “climate deniers” (deliberately suggesting Holocaust denial) and “oil industry shills” (while hiding their own suspect ethics, data “adjustments,” and Big Green billion-dollar Russian and other funding sources).

Realists get precious little (or no) oil money and constantly underscore the role of climate change throughout Earth and human history. What we contest is the notion that climate and weather fluctuations today are manmade, unprecedented and dangerous. Alarmists deny that Earth’s climate is often in flux, solar and other natural forces drive weather and climate, and atmospheric carbon dioxide plays only a minimal role. Real-world evidence demolishes virtually every alarmist claim.

The climate reality record is presented in a readable, thought-provoking new book, About Face: Why the world needs more CO2; The failed science of global warming, by late U.S. economist Arthur Hughes, Australian geologist Cliff Ollier and Canadian meteorologist Madhav Khandekar. Sea level is rising at only1.5 mm per year now (six inches per century), they note, and there is zero evidence that the rate is escalating or that coastal communities are at risk. Nor is “ocean acidification” a legitimate problem.

Alarmists use it to replace other disproven scares with a new panic. Earth’s oceans have never been acidic. They are mildly alkaline. Their enormous volumes of water cannot become acidic – that is, plummet from an 8.2 pH level 150 years ago and their current 8.1 pH into the acidic realm of 7.0 or lower, due to the tiny amount of atmospheric CO2 attributable to fossil fuel use, in less than five centuries, experts explain.

The tiny effect of rising CO2 levels on climate contrasts sharply with their enormous benefits to plant growth and agriculture. Not only is more CO2 “greening” deserts, forests and grasslands; it is increasing grain and food yields worldwide, and helping people in developing nations live longer, healthier lives.

Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are not in danger of collapsing, the About Face authors demonstrate; in fact, they are growing. Similarly, contrary to another scare, extreme weather events are not increasing.

No Category 3-5 hurricane has struck the United States for a record nine years, and Earth’s temperature has not budged for 18 years. Claims that 2014 was “the hottest year on record” are based on airport and urban measurements that are higher than rural locations and are always “adjusted” upward, with year-to-year differences expressed in hundredths of a degree. Outside those areas, for most of the world – the 70% of Earth’s surface that is oceans and 85% of land area that is mountains, deserts, grasslands, tundra, and boreal or tropical rain forests – practically no data exist. So NASA and other alarmists falsely extrapolate from their manipulated urban data to fill in massive gaps for the other 95% of the Earth.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Northeast is suffering through record snows and its lowest winter temperatures in decades, and America’s East Coast air has been 25-30 degrees F below normal. England’s winter death rate is almost one-third higher than normal: nearly 29,000 deaths in a two-week period in January 2015, largely because people can no longer afford to heat their homes properly, due to UK climate policies.

What’s really going on? Our sun “has gone quiet again, during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century,” dating back to 1906, says Vencore weather analyst Paul Dorian.

Alarmists don’t want to talk about that – or about what is happening in Asia. BP’s Energy Outlook 2035 report forecasts that China’s oil, natural gas and coal use will increase by some 50% and its carbon dioxide emissions by 37% over the next 20 years. India’s energy production will soar 117% – with fossil fuels accounting for 87% of all demand in 2035. Its CO2 emissions will also skyrocket. So even if the USA and EU eliminated fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide would continue to climb.

Climate alarmists want the newspaper and television media to ignore this information and the “skeptics” who might present it. Bill Nye “the science guy” recently asked MSNBC to link all weather events to climate change. “Just say the words climate change” when you talk about this winter’s cold and snow,” he begged. A new study shows how widespread these repulsive practices have become.

Quoting one journalist, a George Mason University analysis found that U.S. media outlets “pretty much” agree that climate change “is real, it’s happening, and we’re responsible. That debate is over.” As a result, “critics are no longer being interviewed,” the study said. In the view of “mainstream” media outlets, seeking or presenting both sides on the climate issue is a “false balance.” At least one news organization now has an explicit editorial policy “discouraging reporters from quoting climate change deniers in environment or science coverage,” the Washington Examiner noted.

Media reputations are at stake. They’ve been in bed so long with the Climate Chaos complex that acknowledging the critical role of natural forces, the expertise of climate realists, the debate that still rages, or the Grand Canyon between climate crisis claims and real-world evidence would destroy what little credibility the media still has. It would also start the collapse of the Climate Chaos house of cards.

But the real stakes are much higher. They are the businesses, jobs, families, living standards and liberties that will be increasingly threatened if President Obama, EPA, Big Green and the United Nations remain free to impose their climate and energy agenda. Responsible governors, state legislators and members of Congress must get involved, block these actions, and roll back the destructive policies.

Categories: On the Blog

Consumers’ Sovereignty and Natural vs. Contrived Scarcities

Somewhat Reasonable - February 24, 2015, 1:16 PM

One of the great myths about the capitalist system is the presumption that businessmen make profits at the expense of the consumers and workers in society. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the free market, consumers are the sovereign rulers who determine what gets produced, and with what qualities and features. The sovereign consumers also determine who will be the owners and entrepreneurs of business enterprises.

The “captains of industry” are not the businessmen, but the buying public who steer the directions into which production is taken. Businessmen, to use a metaphor, are more like the “first mate” aboard a ship who after being given his orders by captain consumer passes it on to the crew, that is, those employed within the enterprises, companies, and firms in terms of the tasks to be done to bring the economic ship to where captain consumer wants it to go.

Consumers Appoint the Entrepreneurs Who Direct Production

As the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, once explained,

“In the capitalist system of society’s economic organization the entrepreneurs determine the course of production. In the performance of this function they are unconditionally and totally subject to the sovereignty of the buying public, the consumers . . .

“The consumers by their buying and abstention from buying elect the entrepreneurs in a daily repeated plebiscite, as it were. They determine who shall own [businesses and enterprises] and who shall not, and how much each owner should own . . .

“If they fail to produce in the cheapest and best possible way those commodities which the consumer are asking for most urgently, they suffer losses and are finally eliminated from their entrepreneurial position. Other men who know better how to serve consumers replace them . . .”

The British economist, William H. Hutt coined the term, “consumers’ sovereignty,” back in the 1930s, especially in his book,Economists and the Public (1936). His point was to emphasize that the essence of the market economy is to be found in the liberty of the individual to make his own choices as both a consumer and a producer.

The Consumers’ Sovereignty Means Freedom in Market Choices

An essential element of an individual’s liberty is that he may not be compelled by either the threat or the use of force by others in society to make him do that which he does not want to do or accept.

This is the hallmark of the meaning of voluntary exchange. You may be reasoned with, argued with, persuaded with. But coercion may not be applied to make you enter into a transaction or accept the terms as which an offer is made if you find it not to your benefit and liking.

In the market economy people divide their labor. Each finds a niche in which to specialize his talents and abilities to earn a living. But he can only earn that living if he successfully directs his energies and efforts to making and supplying some good or service that others are willing to purchase and at a price they are willing to pay.

In this role, each producer is servant to the masters of the market – the consumers. With the income that we have earned in our producer capacity we reenter the market as a consumer, ourselves, and those whom we have served to acquire that income now must serve us in their respective capacities as producers.

How much we have to spend, and therefore, to make monetary “claims” on the outputs and productions of others is a reflection of the extent to which we have satisfied the desires of others in society.

As William Hutt explained in Economists and the Public:

“In regarding the individual as a consumer, we do not see him in his full relationship to society. He is usually also a producer. But as a producer he is the servant of the community. He must apply himself and the property and equipment he possesses to producing what the community wants [that is, all other individuals in their role as consumers] or he will obtain nothing in the form of claims on others in return [in the form of the money income earned with which he demands as a consumer the things he desires from others].

“As a consumer, he commands other producers . . . As a ‘consumer,’ each directs. As a ‘producer,’ each obeys . . . The defense of consumers’ sovereignty rests . . . upon an assumption that liberty does possess supreme importance . . . The complete sovereignty of the consumer is compatible with the fullest scope to the initiative of the individual . . . In other words, it is in harmony with the idea of liberty.”

Free to Choose as Consumers and Producers

Now, it is certainly true that the professional sportsman or movie star has earned far more money than I have as an economics professor. But this is a reflection of the degree to which our fellow citizens place a higher entertainment value on watching the services of the sportsman or film star than they do on information to be gleaned from hearing a lecture or reading an article about “consumers’ sovereignty” and the benefits from free markets.

Could I have attempted to pursue a financially more lucrative profession? Yes. Might I have succeeded? It is possible. But I, early on, made an implicit trade-off in my life: to forego other possible income-earning uses of my human skills to, instead, follow a calling that I both enjoy and find highly rewarding, namely the sharing of my understanding of economics with others and most especially with young minds in the classroom.

Thus, my capacity to “command” the services of others in the marketplace through the dollars that I have to spend is far less than the well-paid professional athlete or multi-million dollar movie “heart-throb.”

Or again to quote from William H. Hutt’s Economists and the Public:

“The sovereignty of the consumer over producers does not extend beyond creating a situation in which the latter can choose between various alternatives. There is no absolute coercion on any individual to act (i.e., to apply his property and powers) in a certain way in reply to society’s [consumers’] indication of its [their] preferences.

“He has the liberty of following his own inclinations and sacrificing advantages which would be available to him from a higher income . . . When he ignores society’s [consumers’] demands . . . he exercises his sovereignty over the disposal of his own powers and property . . . The artist, for example, who could earn [$50,000] a year producing ‘commercial art’ which pleases the public, may decide to follow his own inclinations and produce instead what gives him the greatest satisfaction, but has little commercial value.”

Incomes Earned Reflects What Consumers Think Workers are Worth

In this is another significant lesson about the nature and workings of the free market economy: the “distribution” of income in society is not arbitrary or a matter of the caprice or stone heartedness of the employer.

What businessmen and entrepreneurs offer to pay to those whose labor services and other productive abilities they employ is a reflection of what they think those people and skills are worth in terms of the value they add towards the manufacturing of some finished product they hope to successfully sell to consumers; and what they think they must offer to outbid other businessmen who are their rivals for hiring and employing those whose services of which they are also in need.

Thus, suppose that an employer judges a potential employee’s services in his firm to be worth paying a maximum of, say, $12 an hour. If he could get that worker to take the job for $9 an hour he would view himself as have gotten a profitable bargain.

But he cannot ignore that fact that if there are two competing employers who, respectively, may value that same prospective worker’s labor at $11 and $11.50 an hour, he must, then, offer enough to attract that worker to take a job with him instead of his next closest rival. He must offer a wage above that $11.50 his competitor may be offering and, thus, he tends to bring that employee’s wage closer to the highest value of what some employer thinks that worker’s labor to be worth.

This logic of the competitive process of the free market, however, is often misunderstood because the nature and workings of laissez-faire capitalism is confused with the affect of various government interventions on the outcomes of market interactions.

What are outcomes and effects resulting from interferences by government in the market process are erroneously identified with the results of the free market, or “capitalism.”

This, too, was discussed and explained by William H. Hutt back in the 1930s through a distinction that he made between “natural scarcities” and “contrived scarcities.”

 

“Natural Scarcities” of Means Insufficient to Fulfill All Desired Ends

Man cannot escape from the fact that he is always confronted with the need and necessity to make choices, to make trade-offs between alternatives, and decide what he values more highly and what he values less highly.

The inescapable reason for this is the scarcity of means available in their quantities and/or qualities to serve and satisfy fully all the ends, goals and purposes for which we would like to apply them.

Our time is scarce, with only twenty-four hours in a day. Our mental and physical strength is limited with which to pursue our purposes. The resources and raw materials around us that we identify as “useful things” to make the finished goods and services that we desire are limited in their amounts to produce all the things for which we think them useable.

In the free market economy the relative scarcities of both finished consumer goods and the resources, labor and capital equipment out of which those consumer goods can be made are all registered in the form of the competitive prices at which they may be bought and sold.

If we, as consumers, demand more automobiles we offer to pay higher prices for the greater number of cars we wish to purchase. But to produce more automobiles off the assembly line means that fewer of the scarce resources that go into the manufacture of cars – workers and their labor time, resources, raw materials, component parts, and the machinery needed – will not be available to produce other, alternative, goods that could have been produced with those same means of production, instead.

The prices paid to attract those greater quantities of scarce means into the auto industry (including the additional wages to draw more workers into this sector of the market) are what economists call their “opportunity costs.” That is, the prices that need to be offered and paid that are just sufficient to attract them from an alternative employment in which they also have value in producing something else consumers also want, but not as intensely.

This is the reality of a world in which we are not able to have everything we want, where we want it, in the full amounts we desire. This is why, no matter how hard we try, we can never have it “all.”

Even when through savings, investment, innovation, and industry we succeed over time in increasing our ability to produce more of the things we wish to have, we still never have it all. It is part of the human make-up that as soon as we have successfully reached some desired goals our mind and imagination runs ahead to new and different things that are, once again, not fully within our reach.

It is like walking towards the horizon; no matter how far we go and how fast we try to get there, the horizon remains in front of us, and out of our reach. This is man’s frustration but also the stimulus for all the material and cultural achievements that we call “civilization” that have raised humanity up from primitive subsistence existence.

In the competitive free market, the limits on how much of goods in general and the relative amounts of each within that total is possible of being produced is limited and constrained by what William H. Hutt defined as the “natural scarcities” existing in any society within a period of time. Said Hutt:

“We must conceive of a society in which there are no restrictions on the free movement, adjustment and full utilization of the productive resources in response to the dictates of consumers’ will [as expressed in their market demands for various goods and services].”

Under the “natural scarcity” of things in a free market some people may wish that more hospitals were built for the sick or more research undertaken for a cure for cancer, or more wildlife areas set aside for peaceful contemplation of the beauty of nature. But the critic has no one to blame but the free choices of his fellow citizens and even himself in actually demanding more of other things that prevents the necessary scarce resources and labor from being available to do more of these other desired things as well.

“Contrived Scarcities” and “Contrived Plentitudes” Caused by Government

The critic may not be satisfied with his own (perhaps failed) attempts to persuade enough of his fellow citizens to demand and spend less on these other things so more scarce resources can be freed up and used for more hospitals, medical research and nature preserves. He may then turn to the government and its political power to get what he wants without the agreement and voluntary participation of his “preference-misguided” fellows in society.

William H. Hutt argued that when various individuals and special interest groups turn to the State to get what they want its brings about what he called “contrived scarcities” and “contrived plenitudes.”

If the government increases taxes on the citizenry to fund the supplying of more hospitals, cancer research and wildlife areas, it creates a “contrived plenitude,” that is, an amount of these things in excess of what the market would have found it profitable to supply if production had been guided by what consumers would have wanted and demanded if more of their earned income had not been taxed away.

The amount of such “good things” as hospitals, medical research facilities, and nature areas are, in fact, out of balance – over supplied – with what a free market would have supplied of them if the determination of production in society had been left more fully to be guided by the wishes and desires of the “sovereign consumers.”

On behalf of those not satisfied with the free choices of their fellow citizens and who are willing to use political compulsion to get what they want, government has intruded into and violated the “sovereignty of the consumer” to peacefully, honestly, and voluntarily decide what he wants based on his values, beliefs and desires, and to make it profitable on the competitive market for others to provide him with what he wants out of the income he has peacefully, honestly and voluntarily earned in his own role as a producer.

But the other side of this coin is that there are “contrived scarcities” – a reduced availability – of the goods and services that those sovereign consumers would have been able to have if the greater taxes collected and spent by the government had not resulted in scarce resources and labor being drawn away from producing the goods and services those consumer/taxpayers would have spent their income on if it had not been reduced due to those higher taxes.

 

“Contrived Scarcities” from Import Tariffs and Price Subsidies

Such contrived scarcities take on other forms, as well, other than only the direct taxing away of people’s income. If the government imposes an import tariff or an import quota on foreign goods entering the domestic economy, the available supplies of those goods will be less; and the prices of these goods that consumers will now have to pay will be higher, as a result, than if free trade was practiced and consumers had had a wider free market choice of domestic and foreign suppliers.

Suppose that the government starts to guarantee dairy farmers minimum prices for their produce (as the U.S. government does under its farm price-support programs). With a higher guaranteed price than the market-established price, dairy farmers would find it profitable to expand their dairy cowherds. But this requires more grazing land for the increased number of cows.

The expanded grazing land will have to come from somewhere. Suppose that this land comes out of wheat growing. The wheat crops will tend to decrease, an essential ingredient in bread baking will be reduced in quantity, and the supply of wheat bread available in groceries may be less, with a resulting higher price per loaf that consumers now must pay.

Thus, government interventions such as these would abridge the market-based sovereignty of the consumers, bringing about too much of some goods being produced and too little of others being supplied.

Difficulty of Seeing Government’s Hand in Contrived Scarcities

But the perversity from these types of “contrived scarcity” policies is that the consumers find it difficult to know whether and to what extent the supplies available and the prices paid for goods are due to market-determined “natural scarcities” and how much is due to government manipulation of quantities produced and offered on the market.

In the case of the farm price-support programs, consumers in the market end up paying no less than the government guaranteed price for dairy products, for example, since dairy farmers have no incentive to offer it for less since they know that any unsold surpluses at the guaranteed price will be bought up by the government at taxpayers’ expense.

At the same time, the possible reduced wheat crops that negatively impacts the supply of wheat bread and raises its price, for instance, is so many steps away from the immediate vision and understanding of the consumers of bread that it is nearly impossible for ordinary citizens to appreciate the links in the chains of government intervention that has made bread more costly and less available.

Thus, the “free market” gets blamed for high or rising prices for various goods because of the businessman’s “greedy profit motive” that makes him fail to produce more of what people want and desire.

Consumers seem to be unrestricted in their choices concerning how to spend whatever after-tax income that may remain in their pockets; market interactions of supply and demand seems to determine the prices that those consumers pay; and thus the reason for any frustrating scarcities and expensiveness of desired goods gets placed at the doorstep of “selfish” acts of profit-motivated capitalists and businessmen, in general.

But behind the scenes the incentive, profitability and opportunity to produce goods guided by the actual demands of the “sovereign consumers” have been thwarted by government taxing, pricing and regulatory policy manipulations bringing about contrived or artificial scarcities of some goods on the supply-side of the market or wasteful over production or “contrived plentitudes” of other goods not reflecting what those consumers would really want produced if the market was left free of the intervening and distorting hand of the those in political power serving particular special interest groups.

Getting Government Out of the Market Can End Contrived Scarcities

While “natural scarcities” can only be reduced in the longer-run through savings, investment, innovation and industry that increases the supply and improves the qualities of desired goods, in principle, “contrived scarcities” and artificial “plentitudes” can be corrected much sooner.

Or as William H. Hutt expressed it, “Contrived scarcities, unlike natural scarcities, are not beyond the power of change by individuals and hence of a different degree of permanence: restrictions can be overcome . . . Contrived scarcities involve, then the frustration of consumers’ sovereignty; and what is usually meant when the removal of restrictions on competition is recommended is that such contrivances shall be eliminated.”

One of the tasks of friends of capitalism and free markets, therefore, is to explain to our fellow citizens that while a “natural scarcity” of useful means to achieve our various ends is inescapable in the reality of the human circumstance, there are some scarcities of resources and desired goods that are artificial, “contrived scarcities,” due precisely to government and its interventions in the market process.

Such contrived scarcities, in principle, could be gone tomorrow if the government’s economic policies fostering, creating and sustaining them were abolished and eliminated. The individual’s sovereignty over his choices and actions as both consumer and producer will have been more fully restored.

Free men in free markets would then be at liberty to improve their conditions without the disrupting and distorting hand of political power and special interest politicking that invariably makes many things less available and more expensive than if competitive capitalism were unshackled from the government policies that only succeed in making us poorer and far less free than we need to be.

 

[Originally published at EpicTimes]

 

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