On the Blog

In The Tank Podcast (ep13): The Emerging Issues of 2016

Somewhat Reasonable - November 20, 2015, 5:01 PM

In episode #13 of the In The Tank Podcast, Hosts Donny Kendal and John Nothdurft look forward to 2016. This weekly podcast features (as always) interviews, debates, roundtable discussions, stories, and light-hearted segments on a variety of topics on the latest news. The show is available for download as part of the Heartland Daily Podcast every Friday.

In today’s episode of In The Tank, Donny and John talk a bit about their Thanksgiving traditions as well as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal ending his Presidential run. In the second half, Donny and John talk about the issues that will play a large role in 2016. These issues range from pension reform, education savings accounts, energy mandates, fracking, and CON laws.

I hope you’ll listen in, subscribe, and leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. We welcome your feedback in our new show’s inbox at InTheTankPodcast@gmail.com or follow us on twitter @InTheTankPod.

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


Categories: On the Blog

The Creeping Tentacles of Unrestrained Regulation

Somewhat Reasonable - November 20, 2015, 12:16 PM

“Mission creep” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “the gradual broadening of the original objectives of a mission or organization.” Mission creep as practiced by the Federal Communications Commission is wholesale bootstrapping to create any authority to reach to a goal of ever more regulation of innovation.

On Tuesday the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on federal regulation of the Internet, particularly focused on the FCC.Congressional involvement is urgently needed, given the FCC’s recent and ongoing actions.

In October the Commission continued broadening its reach over companies, limiting experiments with innovation and creative new approaches to business. Warnings and penalties have been ladled out against First National Bank, Lyft and PayPal.

At best these are exercises in pounding square pegs into round holes, applying long-outdated restrictions to companies that now only seek to empower their customers via mobile phones or other new technologies. Renewed actions against wi-fi providers, following the actions against Marriott, Hilton Hotels and even a contractor in Baltimore only serve to underscore the aggression.

Such unpredictable behavior by an activist agency stretching or breaking the bounds of its congressionally defined limits does have one predictable result: a reduction in innovation and experimentation, particularly by smaller companies that often lead innovation.

Piling on this new uncertainty is the FCC’s declaration that it now holds dominion over the Internet, that government can control the Internet, declaring that the Internet should now be regulated like the old rotary dial phone system, granting itself power to regulate rates that Internet service providers can charge and how the business operates.

Ironically, FCC chairman Wheeler has already admitted that the FCC does not know what all of that really means. As FCC Commissioner Pai has stated, “Instead of providing any specific guidance, he analogized the FCC to a football referee and said that it would throw the flag if it saw behavior that it didn’t like. That answer, I would submit, is the very definition of regulatory uncertainty.” And, of course, there is real, very clear guidance provided in football. The referee does not determine the rules as a flag is thrown, as the Chairman seems to believe.

Of course, federal regulatory micromanagement of innovation, requiring permission before experimentation, will only result in failure of innovation which will negatively impact the U.S. As outlined by Commissioner Pai, Internet service providers in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Washington state, and St. Louis have all testified under oath that this uncertainty has led them to reduce their broadband investments. That reduction in capital expenditure leads to fewer jobs and careers, depressing the economy.

We need restraint in the face of ill-defined, or ill-fitting, regulations that were clearly drafted and enacted in another age, for technology found today only in museums. If innovation is limited to the stretching of definitions, creativity only expressed via threatening letters, or economic success measured as huge fines to be levied, then the only innovation allowed to flourish is that of government restriction and control. That is the sort of innovation that should never be permissionless.

[Originally published at the Institute for Policy Innovation]

Categories: On the Blog

The Mick Jagger of Air Sampling Shows Frac Sand Mining Doesn’t Harm Air Quality

Somewhat Reasonable - November 20, 2015, 10:20 AM

The good news continues for people living near industrial sand facilities, with the release of the second in a pair of studies examining the impact of industrial sand mining on air quality. The researchers found concentrations of the small particles of silica dust that can lead to health problems if present in high concentrations are far below the levels considered harmful.

Industrial sand mining has become a contentious issue in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as the demand for the clean, spherical, crush-resistant sand used for hydraulic fracturing has led to a proliferation of “frac sand mines” across the Upper Midwest.

As the number of industrial sand mines and sand processing facilities operating in Wisconsin jumped from about five mines and five processing plants in 2010 to 63 active mines and 45 processing plants in 2014, people living in communities near these facilities were understandably curious about the potential risks associated with sand mining. Some community members became concerned about silicosis, a serious but preventable lung disease that has historically been an occupational hazard in industries such as construction, sandblasting, and mining.

These concerns were amplified by professional activist groups who released reports heavy on scare and virtually nonexistent on science. These reports used anecdotal evidence, which is subject to cherry-picking and other biases, to introduce readers to the concept of silicosis, but they presented no scientific data quantifying whether there was actually any risk to area residents. As a result, many local residents became unnecessarily concerned for their health.

Fortunately, comprehensive data compiled by one of the most respected air-monitoring scientists in the county demonstrate people living near these facilities are safe from exposure to hazardous levels of these particles.

The lead author of these studies is Dr. John Richards of Air Control Techniques (ACT), whose work is so respected he has contributed to the development of emission test methods for particulate matter that have been accepted and promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the world of air monitoring for small silica dust particles, Richards is a Mick Jagger-level rock star, and the quality of his work and his reputation are beyond reproach.

The study used 657 daily average PM4 crystalline silica measurements, almost two years’ worth of data, and it found the long-term average concentrations measured at seven sampling locations were all only 5–20 percent of the levels considered hazardous by California and Minnesota health officials. That means these facilities pose no threat to public health.

When considering the results of any air monitoring study, the methods for collecting data are just as important as the data itself, because improper procedures produce worthless data.

One of the key reasons this study is so important is because the sampling frequency matched the once-every-third-day and once-every-sixth-day calendar schedule used in the U.S. EPA and state agency air monitoring networks. As result, the data gathered in this study can be compared to federal and state particulate matter datasets to check their validity.

Using data from state agencies and federal agencies, the scientists at ACT were able to compare the concentration of silica dust particles at sand mining facilities to the regional background concentrations of these particles, which are generated from a variety of sources, such as farm fields, dirt roads, and even wind blowing across the ocean from deserts on other continents. The study found the concentrations of respirable crystalline silica dust at the industrial sand facilities were consistent with concentrations of this dust in areas with no sand mining at all, meaning these facilities do not generate harmful levels of this tiny dust.

Industrial sand facilities do not pose a risk to public health—but anxiety does. When irresponsible interest groups promote unscientific “reports” to gin up opposition to mining, they also build up people’s anxiety, which can cause headaches, shortness of breath, and other physical ailments.

For that problem, this air monitoring study is just what the doctor ordered.

[Originally published at Townhall]

Categories: On the Blog

Let the Fans Have Their Fantasy Sports

Somewhat Reasonable - November 20, 2015, 10:02 AM

As National Football League teams start to go into their “bye” weeks when they don’t have a game to play, fantasy sports fans are scrambling to find replacements for their starting lineups on the waiver wires.

More than 75 million Americans are participating in public or private fantasy sports leagues, drafting their dream teams of real-world professional football players and putting their football knowledge to the test, hoping their choices pan out this week and their players leave it all out on the field.

And many Americans put their sports knowledge and player-evaluation skills to a real test, competing with friends or workmates for agreed-upon cash prizes.

Fearful that too many people might be having fun watching football, state and federal lawmakers are cracking down on daily fantasy sports, doing their best to guard against the haunting fear someone, somewhere, might be having fun.

Daily fantasy sports (DFS), a type of fantasy sports game, has become popular this year. In daily fantasy sports, participants can draft a new team every week, instead of being stuck with the same roster over the entire season. Competition “seasons” in DFS last a single weekend: On Monday morning, it’s a new season and time to draft a new team.

Players are assigned a fictitious auction value, simulating the salary management concerns of a general manager on draft day; participants use their knowledge of National Football League statistics and player news to compete to build the best team possible within the constraints of the game rules.

Efforts are already underway in Michigan, Nevada and New York to ban daily fantasy sports, based on regulators’ mistaken understandings of American gaming law and the urge to stomp out fun.

In 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), prohibiting “gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet” but exempting any fantasy sports competitions that “(reflect) the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals in multiple real-world sporting or other events.”

Although his opinion lacks legal authority, as legal interpretations are issued by the state’s attorney general, Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Rick Kalm told an industry trade newspaper, Gambling Compliance, he believes playing DFS for cash prizes is “illegal under current Michigan law.”

In Nevada, a state overwhelmingly dominated by commercial casino interests, gaming regulators determined DFS met the state’s definition of gambling because backing up one’s confidence in sports knowledge is “wagering on the collective performance of individuals participating in sporting events.”

Unless companies wishing to facilitate DFS agree to regulators’ demands for licensing fees, tax money and rolls and rolls of bureaucratic red tape, Nevadans who want to increase their enjoyment of NFL games by having a real stake in players’ performances will have to visit their neighborhood government-approved bookie to scratch that itch.

And in New York, the attorney general declared that payout fantasy football leagues are nothing more than illegal gambling.

Instead of blitzing daily fantasy sports, lawmakers should resist the urge to ban popular, benign activities and products. Leaving consumers alone and letting them spend their money in harmless ways they enjoy is a touchdown for everyone.

[Originally published at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Lead Plaintiff of ‘Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association’ States her Grievances

Somewhat Reasonable - November 20, 2015, 9:13 AM

Co-Authored by: Nancy Thorner & Bonnie O’Neil 

As noted in our collaborative article published Monday, Nov. 9, 2015 in Illinois Review“Supreme Court to Adjudicate Mandatory Union Fees”, Rebecca Friedrichs is the lead plaintiff, an outspoken opponent of her teachers’ union who agreed to let her name become identified with the case. Friedrichs has taught elementary school for 28 years, mostly in the Savanna School District in Anaheim, Ca. You can listen to her discuss the case here, read a Q&A with her here, and a commentary by her in the Orange County Register here.

We cannot deny there is much wrong in the world of government and politics today, but few who complain about specific problems do anything to correct them. That may be because the average person feels incapable of facilitating a positive change, believing it a difficult, even hopeless task. True, it is a daunting task, often quite expensive and absolutely time consuming. Therefore, it is understandable that individuals consider themselves ill-equipped to facilitate any significant policy change, and thus most of us choose to just live with the problem, which is why problems remain problems year after year and end up lasting for decades.

Anthropologist. Margaret Mead, believed individuals could facilitate change in our world, as evidenced by her famous quote:  “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.  For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” Some might argue that Mead, born in 1901, lived during a period of time when it was possible for individuals to facilitate a change, but that our world today is far more complicated, and it has become increasingly difficult for an individual to accomplish any major change in established laws or procedures.

That may be true, but even today there remain a few American citizens willing to try to correct problems they encounter, especially when it significantly impacts their lives as well as others. Rebecca Friedrichs is a perfect example of such a person. She saw a significant problem with the rules and tactics of the powerful California Teachers Union and decided for the sake of teachers, students, and ultimately society that these problems needed to be exposed and challenged. Mrs. Friedrichs’ ultimate hope in doing so was to facilitate a positive change that would benefit teachers as well as students.

Lead Plaintiff’s Concerns

Friedrichs realized the California Teachers Union (CTU) had expanded its scope of responsibility far beyond its original role of helping and protecting teachers from job-related problems, such as providing legal counsel in situations where teachers needed assistance. Instead, the Union morphed into an organization with unprecedented power, far exceeding the authority reasonable people deem acceptable.  The Union increased teachers’ obligatory dues and used the additional money to insert itself into state political matters, even when there was little or no reason to believe such actions were protecting the welfare of teachers or benefiting the education of our children. The California Teachers Union began using members’ dues to finance and support specific organizations which had little or no benefits to teachers.  That practice has escalated with funding directed to highly controversial organizations that a significant portion of the teachers actually oppose.

Friedrichs’ main concern was not about union dues for collective bargaining, but about these additional fees teachers are asked to pay.  Friedrichs is one of many who resent financing groups, candidates, and/or politicians whose purposes are in direct opposition to her own and others.  The Union allows teachers to be exempt from paying those specific fees, but they must then continue to work with Union leaders and teachers who resent their decision and exhibit overt resentment.  Thus, there is subtle pressure for teachers to be silent and to continue paying the full dues.

Fair minded people sympathize with teachers who show the courage of their convictions and opt out of paying the fees.  Thus some do applaud Mrs. Friedrichs for being willing to stand up to the injustice, the powerful Union, and the politicians and organizations that have been benefiting from the Unions’ donations.  However, there are powerful people benefiting from the donations, making it all the more difficult to find a way to stop the CTA from such practices.

The political power of the California Teachers Union has been well known in specific circles, but recently has also become more obvious to the general public. That is partially the result of reports like the one released by the California Fair Political Practices Commission which stated that the CTA is number one on the “Billion Dollar Club” list of top spenders in California politics.   The CTA alone has spent more money in California politics than Chevron, AT&T, Philip Morris, and Western States Petroleum Association combined.  You read that correctly – “combined.”    For their record breaking spending in politics and for other reasons, former George W. Bush speechwriter, Troy Senik has deemed the CTA the worst union in America.

Political Power Vested Through Dues

According to Lennie Jarrett, project manager for education transformation at Chicago’s Heartland Institute, an article dated February 5, 2014, states that Illinois has the same problem as California.  A teacher will pay $1,000, on average, in union dues each year. It is the policy of most unions to convince teachers they have no choice and must pay these dues to be allowed to work.  Of this money, up to 80 percent is used for purposes other than collective bargaining, and more than 50% is used for politics.

In almost every state, teachers are automatically signed up to have a specific amount of their pay diverted to their unions’ political funds.   The facts indicate when “paycheck protection” laws require unions to get permission from teachers before taking money for political purposes, teachers almost always say “no.” When teachers were given the chance to opt out of paying for the political causes engineered by education unions, they did so in droves.

Education unions have become perennial political powerhouses, nationally and locally. Terry Moe argues in his groundbreaking study of teachers unionsSpecial Interest: Teachers Unions and America’s Public Schools, that “by comparison to other interest groups, and certainly to those with a direct stake in public education—parents, taxpayers, even administrators — the teachers unions are unusually well equipped to wield power.” Consider the following:

  • Fortune magazine has consistently ranked the National Education Association in the top 15 of its Washington Power 25 list for influence in the nation’s capital.
  • The head of the Chicago Teachers Union had this warning to any mayoral candidate in the 2011 mayor’s race who didn’t toe the teachers’ line: “I think the opportunity is to throw the weight of 30,000 members and their families and students and teachers.  I mean, we’re looking at maybe 800,000 people we could affect on some level.”

Due to their massive base and the massive dues that they charge, teachers unions can both mobilize voters and spend huge sums of money to defeat ballot initiatives and candidates that they don’t like. As Terry Moe put it, “when all is said and done, the power of the unions to block change is the single most important thing that anyone needs to know about the politics of American education.”   Enormous political clout is exerted by union heads at the expense of their members who frequently disagree with their union bosses’ political agendas.  Most of the union dues collected (often as high as 95%) flow to a specific political party’s candidates, even though, according to 2003 polling data from a National Education Study, only 51% of teachers who are union members identify with that party. Thus almost half of the union members are paying to elect candidates with whom they specifically disagree.

In disclosure forms filed at the end of the year 2011, it was revealed that the NEA spent almost $88 million — more than 20 percent of its entire budget — on “contributions, gifts and grants” that largely funded left-wing and non-education-related causes, including drives to raise the minimum wage and organizations promoting radical social issues. As a Wall Street Journal” editorial noted, the union’s financial disclosure forms “expose the union as a honey pot for left-wing political causes that have nothing to do with teachers, much less students.”

Left-leaning organizations supported by NEA dues include: 

  • Business and Professional Women/USA
  • Campaign for America’s Future
  • Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
  • Democratic Leadership Council
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • National Association for Bilingual Education
  • National Council of La Raza
  • National Partnership for Women & Families
  • National Women’s Law Center
  • People for the American Way
  • Rainbow PUSH Coalition
  • Sierra Club

This website provides more examples of left-leaning recipients of teachers’ unions:

Fairness and equality for all is what our citizens expect of America’s leaders.  Our nation has prospered largely due to those who understand the concept that injustices will survive only as long as people remain quiet about them. Within months, it is expected that Chief Justice John Roberts, and esteemed Justices Samuel Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy, Sonia Sotomayor, Anthony Scalia, and Clarence Thomas will all have the opportunity to finally put an end to the cleverly designed teachers’ mandate that has forced teachers to pay into a system that uses their money for political purposes and candidates with whom they politically oppose.   May the Supreme Court vote reflect what is best for all our people, not just those who abuse their leadership privilege. We thank Mrs. Friedrichs and the other ten teachers who have chosen to challenge the status quo and restore equality. We wish them and their attorney well as they expose truths, present facts, and argue their position to the above esteemed Supreme Court Justices.

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Terrorism and a Cold Winter Refugee Crisis

Somewhat Reasonable - November 19, 2015, 5:03 PM

Co-authored by: Paul Driessen and Joe D’Aleo

A brutal cold spell could kill refugees. Paris COP21 delegates need to discuss this climate issue.

Even after the latest Paris massacres – and previous radical Islamist atrocities in the USA, France, Britain, Canada, Spain, India, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and elsewhere – politicians absurdly say hypothetical manmade global warming is the greatest threat facing humanity. In reality, fossil fuel contributions to climate change pose few dangers to people or planet, and winters kill 20 times more people than hot weather.

After being assured snowy winters would soon be something only read about in history books, Europe was shaken by five brutally cold winters this past decade. Thousands died, because they were homeless, lived in drafty homes with poor heating systems, or could not afford adequate fuel.

It could happen again, with even worse consequences. “Millions of desperate people are on the march,” Walter Russell Mead recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “Sunni refugees driven out by the barbarity of the Assad regime in Syria, Christians and Yazidis fleeing the pornographic violence of Islamic State, millions more of all faiths and no faith fleeing poverty and oppression without end.”

Where are they heading? Mostly not into neighboring Arab countries, most of which have yanked their welcome mats. Instead, if they’re not staying in Turkey, they’re going north to Europe – into the path the extremely cold “Siberian Express” has increasingly taken. Germany alone could face the challenge of feeding and sheltering 800,000 to 1,000,000 freezing refugees this winter.

If a blast of frigid Siberian air should hit, temperatures in parts of eastern and northern Europe and the western Former Soviet Union could become 70 degrees F (39C) colder than cold spells in much of the Middle East. During the coldest Siberian outbreaks, it gets as lethally cold as -40F (-40C).

Northern and eastern Europeans are largely acclimated to such cold. However, for refugees from regions where winters average 20 to 30 degrees warmer, makeshift houses or tents will make their sojourn a bone-chilling experience. Europe’s exorbitant energy costs, resulting from its obeisance to climate chaos credos, could make this an even worse humanitarian crisis.

However, to listen to the UN, many world leaders, environmental NGOs, scientists from the climate alarm industry, and their sycophant media – especially on the eve of their Paris 2015 global warming summit – threats from cold weather are not supposed to happen. Just 15 years ago, the German paper Spiegel proclaimed, “Good-bye winter: In Germany bitter cold winters are now a thing of the past.” That same year, a British Climate Research Unit scientist said “children aren’t going to know what snow is.”

The media dutifully repeated similar claims each year, until unbelievably cold, snowy winters began hitting in 2008/09. In December 2010, England had its second-coldest December since 1659, amid the Little Ice Age. For five years, 2008-2013, snow paralyzed travel in England and northern and western Europe. Not surprisingly, the same media then blamed manmade global warming for the harsh winters.

In reality, natural Atlantic Ocean cycles lasting around 60 years control winter temperatures in Europe and Eastern North America. When the North Atlantic warms, “blocking high pressure systems” largely prevent warm Atlantic air from reaching Europe.

There is also a strong correlation between the sun’s geomagnetic activity and these blocking-induced cold winters in Europe. The five brutally cold winters ending in 2012/13 had the lowest level of solar geomagnetic activity in the entire record, dating back some 90 years.

When the North Atlantic is warm and the sun’s geomagnetic patterns are weak, these blocking patterns keep warmer Atlantic air out of Europe. Frigid air from off deep snows in Siberia can then more easily invade from the east, bringing sub-zero cold and heavy snows. That’s what happened from 2008 to 2013.

The ocean and solar factors eased in 2013, and the last two years have seen more Atlantic air and milder winters. However both solar and ocean patterns are starting to return to the situation where cold invasions are more likely. That could usher in nasty surprises for the Middle Eastern refugees.

Even this year’s early winter October cold brought news stories about Syrian children becoming sick amid exposure to colder weather than they were used to. In Austria, adults and children alike were already complaining about the weather and wishing they could go home.

In fact, cold weather kills 20 times more people than hot weather, according to a Lancet medical journal study that analyzed 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries. It should be required reading for the 40,000-plus bureaucrats, politicians, activists and promoters who will soon descend on Paris, to enjoy five-star hotels and restaurants while blathering endlessly about dire threats of global warming.

They should ponder the fact that the Lancet study reflects normal societies in peaceful countries. Even there, many more people die each year during the four winter months than in the eight non-winter months. Indeed, there even the United States experiences some 100,000 Excess Winter Deaths per year.

In the United Kingdom, the winter death rate is about twice as high as in the USA: excess winter deaths range up to 50,000 per year – due to the UK’s poorer home insulation and heating systems, and much higher energy costs caused by its climate and renewable energy policies.

The refugees’ excess winter death toll could well be even greater, due to the high cost of European energy and the migrants’ extreme poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate clothing and blankets, preexisting diseases, and makeshift housing: tents, trailers and other dwellings that have little or no insulation or central heat.

Systematic misinformation about the dangers of fossil fuels and hot versus cold weather has helped make this crisis much worse than needs be. Climate alarmists will thus bear the blame for thousands of avoidable deaths among refugees this winter, especially if the Siberian Express invades once again.

The Paris climate conferees need to focus on humanity’s real and immediate dangers: this rapidly growing refugee crisis, abysmal EU economies and job losses – and the billions worldwide who still lack the adequate, reliable, affordable energy required to end their crushing poverty, malnutrition, disease and early death, by ensuring clean water, proper sanitation, modern hospitals, lights, refrigerators and plentiful food. The climate conferees must address the following much more pressing questions.

How is climate change more important than safeguarding refugees who are already suffering from cold weather? Should conferees be focused on hypothetical future manmade climate chaos, while EU nations squabble over who will take how many refugees and potential terrorists, amid a possible winter crisis? What contingency plans do they have for another bout of frigid weather possibly invading the continent?

When a million refugees are freezing in squalid conditions with inadequate shelter, food, heat, clothing and medical care, and 1.3 billion people still do not have electricity – why would the world commit to spending billions on alleged future global warming catastrophes? As Bjorn Lomborg puts it, why would the world also want to give up nearly $1 trillion in GDP every year for the rest of this century, to avert a total hypothetical (computer modeled) temperature rise of just 0.306 degrees C (0.558 F) by 2100?

Where will the money come from to combat growing war and terrorism, aid the millions displaced by these horrors, rebuild devastated cities, put millions of people back to work, and bring electricity and better lives to billions of others – if we continue this obsession over global warming? Do humans really play a big enough roll in climate change to justify these incomprehensible price tags? Where is the actual evidence? Not computer models or press releases – the actual evidence?

It would be an unconscionable crime against humanity, if the nations gathering in Paris implement policies to protect our planet’s energy-deprived masses from hypothetical manmade climate disasters decades from now, by perpetuating poverty and disease that kill millions more people tomorrow.

These are the real reasons climate change is a critical moral issue. We need to we recognize that, and stop playing games with people’s lives. We must acknowledge that horrific computer model scenarios do not reflect planetary reality – and must not guide energy policy.

Joe D’Aleo is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and American Meteorological Society Fellow and co-founder of The Weather Channel. Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. Climate experts Allan MacRae and Madhav Khandekar contributed to this article.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Heather Kays: Updates on Education in America

Somewhat Reasonable - November 19, 2015, 4:39 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in as Research Fellow Heather Kays appears on the “Freedom Works Show” on Tantalk1340 in Florida with host Paul Molloy. Kays was on to talk about the various education related issues that are taking place around the country.

Kays and Molloy briefly talk about, the secretary of education, Arne Duncan’s comments on the lack of progress made in education during his tenure. They also discuss some updates on Common Core and several other education stories.

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


Categories: On the Blog

A Free and Open Internet that Can’t Be Allowed to Be Free and Open?

Somewhat Reasonable - November 19, 2015, 11:03 AM

You know there are big problems with the so called “principle” of net neutrality when the New York Times writes an editorial headlined “Why Free Can Be a Problem on the Internet” and their editorial has nothing to do with protecting consumers’ privacy/safety or protecting content from piracy, but it is only about the potential problem of consumers enjoying free Internet content for marketing purposes!

What a scandal! Someone call the FCC! Innovative commerce is happening on the Internet!

Few things make net neutrality activists look sillier, more nonsensical and hypocritical than their knee-jerk somber opposition to innovation in broadband pricing and marketing via differential pricing, sponsored data, zero-rating plans or other creative and experimental pricing or marketing plans – that all naturally result from a highly competitive wireless market.

Tellingly, T-Mobile’s new “Binge on” marketing effort has prompted a flurry of handwringing that net neutrality could be irreparably threatened if users come to enjoy free streaming of content that does not apply to their usage caps, and that is open to anyone that wants to stream their content to consumers transparently on T-Mobile at the same speed as every other “Binge on” streamer.

Horrors! Happy consumers and more competitive choices might get people to think they don’t need net neutrality pressure groups to tell them what to think!

Now net neutrality activists have a lot of explaining to do.

If the Internet is free and open, how could net neutrality mean that offering free content streaming over the Internet is bad and that the Internet is not open to ISP innovation that benefits consumers?

If the FCC’s Open Internet Order ruled that no paid prioritization meant a mandated zero-price (free) for all downstream Internet traffic from a content provider to an ISP like T-Mobile, how is T-Mobile’s free-downstream “Binge on” offering or another ISP’s sponsored data offering, a violation of net neutrality?

If net neutrality activists don’t like data caps, how can they oppose T-Mobile or other ISPs for offering free content streaming that doesn’t count against their data caps?

How is saving consumers’ money on the highest cost part of ISP service a bad thing?

How is T-Mobile picking winners and losers if any content provider can get the same deal and technical terms that everyone else is offered?

How is it neutral for “edge business interests” to enjoy a big edge over consumer interests?

In sum, net neutrality activists are wrong to oppose, and the FCC is right to allow, innovation in broadband pricing and marketing via differential pricing, sponsored data, zero-rating plans, or other creative and experimental pricing or marketing plans.

If the FCC is really about “competition, competition, competition,” the least it can do is show restraint and forbear from any material limits on broadband pricing innovation or experimentation.

Mandating a permanent Internet downstream price of zero is more than enough rate regulation for any one FCC order that claims to not regulate rates in any way.

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

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

Categories: On the Blog

Don’t Expect 2016 Candidates to Restore Real Liberty

Somewhat Reasonable - November 19, 2015, 10:35 AM

Many in the media and some among the voting public are focused, now, on the field of candidates who are offering themselves as the presidential nominees of the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Every few weeks those on the Republican side have been confronting each other in television news-bite talking sessions that are loosely called “debates.” The candidates lash out at each other with one-line zingers and frequent insults; they search for rhetoric-filled summaries of how each differs from the others on various “hot-topic” issues from immigration and foreign policy to getting government spending under control; at the same time they assure the viewers that each of them has the silver bullet to “create jobs,” make America strong, and restore the American dream.

Republican Contenders Begging to be Chosen

One presents himself as a loud-mouth boor; another as a born-again “saint”; another as a tough as nails business executive who knows how to cut other world leaders down to size; still others assertively say they have the hard won “experience” to do what is necessary since they have been a state governor or a senator in Congress – as if being a professional politician should be considered a positive employment recommendation!

This is often wrapped in accounts of the life stories of their families, their careers, and how qualified they are to “lead” the country back to “greatness.” Their voices often quiver with the desperate attempt to persuade the viewer-voters that they are really qualified to become president of the United States and “run the country.” Their faces sometimes pathetically cry out, “Please, please, pick me, pick me.”

How sad to see human beings so anxious to win and fearful of losing the chance to sit in that chair in the Oval Office of the White House. Watching some of them becomes uncomfortably embarrassing as they either grovel or arrogantly cling to the hope of becoming “history.”

Democratic Contenders Pursuing Power and Fantasies

The Democratic candidates offer a slightly different variation on this theme. With lies, deceptions, and corruption dripping in her wake, the leading Democratic hopeful acts with occasional false modesty that she has a “right” to win the race to the White House. After all, is she not a women and isn’t time for the female affirmative action quota to take the presidential oath of office? Besides, she “earned” it; didn’t she suffer the humiliation of that philandering and power-lusting husband of hers? This is national “pay-back” for those eight long years in the White House as First Lady. Plus, that power-lusting desire, after all, seems to run in this family.

Then there is the almost comical throwback to the 1970s notion of “socialism with a human face.” Babbling on about ‘fairness” and “social justice,” he lives in a la-la land of ideological fantasy and deep psychological denial about how reality works if you actually want freedom and prosperity. He lives in a dream world in which government control and command is made to seem to have nothing to do with the use of force without which his egalitarian utopia cannot be successfully imposed.

The Shallowness and Bias of Media Moderators

The moderators among the media at these “debates” show their own mindsets by the questions they ask, and the premises behind them. Sometimes they seem to be in group-therapy sessions in which some take pleasure in throwing ad hominem attack questions at others to trip them up and make them look stupid, foolish and small before everyone else.

The rest of the time the questions demonstrate a shallowness and ignorance about people, government, society and the economy. The underlying premise, however, in virtually all the questions is: How will you plan and regulate society better than the others to achieve “socially just” and desirable goals and purposes?

Every candidate is challenged and expected to explain how they will be a better social engineer and economic planner over the country, than his competitors. And, please be specific on how you plan to reshape society to fit the presumed “progressive” agenda of more and greater political paternalism over a growing number of people in society.

At the same time, the audiences at these events remind one of those period-piece movie spectaculars of the 1950s where the Roman gladiators are in the arena and the huge crowds cheer or boo depending upon whether their “favorite” has wounded his opponent or suffered a fatal blow themselves.

Unanswered Questions Concerning Liberty and Limited Government

The friend of freedom has little to be enthusiastic about in these “reality shows” of the presidential nominating campaigns. Not once, to my knowledge, has any one of the questioners asked the candidates: What do you understand as the meaning and importance of the traditional American conception of liberty? What do you consider the legitimate functions of the federal government under the Constitution?

Given your answers to the previous two questions, what departments, bureaus, and agencies of the federal government should be abolished? Which of them do you think should be retained or expanded? On what basis do you think that such retention and expansion can be justified?

What makes you and your rivals in this campaign think that they have sufficient knowledge, wisdom, and ability to intrusively micro-manage a wide variety of the personal, social and economic aspects of the citizenry’s everyday life?

What do you consider to be U.S. government’s constitutionally legitimate functions and duties in the area of foreign policy? Given your answer, do you think this justifies or enables the current level of American foreign political, economic, and military intervention in other parts of the world?

Taking Liberty Seriously is Not in Anyone’s Mind

A reason that such questions are not asked, in my view I very sadly suggest, is that it never enters anyone’s mind – either questioner or candidate – that such questions and their possible answers have any meaning.

Many years ago I once asked former Texas congressman, Ron Paul, what surprised him the most when he first entered the House of Representatives and interacted with his colleagues in that august institution?

Ron Paul replied the discovery that there were two arguments that if he made them in remarks in the well of the House, would result in almost all of the others laughing at him and not taking him seriously.

What were these two arguments? That some proposed piece of legislation was either immoral (in violating the individual rights of the American people) or was unconstitutional (in extending federal power and control beyond its legitimate functions under the law of the land), or both.

It is not surprising that in such a political environment such fundamental questions about the political order of America, and meaning and importance of individual liberty as the foundational principle of the society is not even brought up.

Our Age of Paternalism and Collectivism

We live in an age of political paternalism and social and economic collectivism. Yes, it is not of the extreme and brutal forms experienced under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in other parts of the world over the last one hundred years.

It is a “kinder and gentler” collectivism and paternalism in that it wraps itself in democratic institutions and covers itself in the rhetoric of “freedom,” “justice,” “equality” and “fairness.”

And because of this it possesses a high degree of legitimacy among the American citizenry, whether on the political “conservative” or (modern) “liberal” side of the electoral contests. Most Americans want an “activist,” interventionist, redistributive, paternalistic state.

Now, it is certainly true that “conservatives” and “liberals” often seem to differ widely about what type of activism, interventionism, paternalism, and redistribution that they want and for what and for whose benefit.

But, nonetheless, there is little disagreement or dispute that the government should have these extra-constitutional powers and responsibilities. The “debates,” most of the time, are merely over for what these powers of the state should used, to what degree, and for whose advantage at the expense of others in society.

What is the friend of freedom, then, to do? Each of us, of course, must make our own personal choices as to whether or not to vote, and if so, which candidate (if any) seems less objectionable that the others from a relatively broad “freedom” point-of-view, given the options in first the primary elections and then in the general election in November 2016.

Freedom’s Future will Not be Decided in the Next Election

But more fundamentally we must accept the fact that “freedom” will not be won during the 2016 election year. The “politics” of the 2016 election reflects political and ideological currents of ideas that began decades ago, and which slowly but surely finally have come to dominate and, in fact, control the general “climate of opinion” in American society.

That’s why the questioners at the political “debates” ask the questions they do, and why those anxiously trying to win the brace-ring of the presidency answer the way they do. The questions and the answers reflect the American culture, context, and limits of political discourse at the present time.

The Goal of Changing the Long-Run Climate of Opinion

Our task as friends of freedom, therefore, is to take the long-view, to influence and eventually change the general climate of opinion so that, someday, questions actually relating to liberty and limited government will be at the forefront of such political debates, and the candidates will be expected to accordingly give appropriate and reasonable answers.

In the 1970s, Austrian economist and Nobel Prize winner, Friedrich A. Hayek, once argued that liberty loses because it has lost clear and well-defined principles:

“A successful defense of freedom must therefore be dogmatic and make no concessions to expediency . . . Freedom will prevail only if it is accepted as a general principle whose application to particular instances requires no justification . . . People will not refrain from those restrictions on individual liberty that appear to them the simplest and most direct remedy of a recognized evil, if there does not prevail a strong belief in definite principles.”

These principles are those upon which the American “experiment” in self-governance was founded. That the individual has an inherent and absolute right to his own life, liberty and honestly acquired property that serve as the means for his own pursuit of the personal happiness that may give meaning, value, and purpose to his own life.

And this must be explained in a way and in a context that persuasively shows that such a meaning to freedom is unattainable in a political setting in which the government takes command and control of people’s lives in small and great ways.

And that when such freedom prevails it also provides the most effective and efficacious means also to solve and advance many of those “social values” and concerns that well-meaning and benevolent people may reasonably be concerned with in a world of other human beings and a natural environment about which they may deeply care.

A Classical Liberal Utopian Ideal of a Free Society

Friedrich Hayek once went further than this. In a famous essay on “The Intellectuals and Socialism” (1949), he argued that the case for liberty has to be persuasively presented as a humane and ethical ideal that people of goodwill and moral concern could call their own.

Indeed, Hayek said that the friends of freedom must once again make the case and cause of liberty a “Utopia” worth believing in and fighting to attain. He did not mean “utopia” as a fantasy conception of a world that can never be, given the nature of man and the world we live.

He meant a good, moral, and appealing conception of a society in which the individual is secure in his individual rights and liberty, in which a society of human beings is grounded on the ethical ideal of mutual respect through relationships based on voluntary and peaceful consent, rather than brutality, tyranny and force.

A world in which the creative potentials of men and women are set free in the peaceful arena of competitive market association and trade that releases the human mind and body from political bondage and allows those minds to raise humanity from poverty into material, cultural, and social plenty.

A world in which each and every individual is respected and protected as a distinct and unique person, and as not the pawn in the purposes of others through political plundering by those in governmental power.

Said Hayek:

“We must be able to offer a new [classical] liberal program which appeals to the imagination. We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage.

“What we lack is a [classical] liberal Utopia, a program which seems neither a mere defense of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the sensibilities of the mighty (including trade unions), which is not too severely practical, and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible.

“We need intellectual leaders who are prepared to resist the blandishments of power and influence and who are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote . . .

“The main lesson which the true liberal must learn from the success of the socialists is that it was their courage to be Utopian which gained them support of the intellectuals and therefore an influence on public opinion which is daily making possible what only recently seemed utterly remote.

“Unless we can make the philosophical foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark.

“But if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of [classical] liberalism, the battle is not lost.”

This is the horizon toward which we should direct our efforts, if our concern is with the long-term restoration of the idea and ideal of liberty in America. Otherwise, we will stumble from one short run-focused election cycle to another without the necessary change in the underlying ideas in the context of which political campaigning and voting is guided and determined.

[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog

Say “No” to President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan”

Somewhat Reasonable - November 18, 2015, 2:28 PM

Testimony before EPA Public Hearing on Clean Power Plan November 19-20, 2015, Atlanta, GA

By:  James H. Rust, professor (ret. Georgia Tech) and policy advisor The Heartland Institute

Campaigning in San Francisco during the Democrat Party primaries in January 2008, Presidential Candidate Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”  Carbon dioxide from burning coal, and other fossil fuels, is falsely claimed to cause catastrophic climate change (global warming).

Upon election, President Obama tried to keep his promise with the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, that narrowly passed the House June 26, 2009, by a vote of 219 to 212.  One of the provisions of the act was a cap on greenhouse gas emissions similar to what is used in the European Union.

Unsatisfied with progress of the Waxman-Markey Bill, President Obama issued an executive order October 5, 2009 “FEDERAL LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL, ENERGY, AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE” that gave policies toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the rest of his term in office.  The executive order gave strict guidance for all agencies in the executive branch and their interactions with outside organizations.  Detailed information about consequences of this Executive Order is given by the paper “PRESIDENT OBAMA DEMANDS AGREEMENT WITH CLIMATE POLICIES” by Dr. James H. Rust.

After the November 2010 election losses, Democrat Senate leaders told President Obama cap-and-trade was dead.  President Obama exclaimed “cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat.” From that point the cat is slowly being skinned by regulations from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit fossil fuel use.


Unable to have Congress pass laws achieving his goals, President Obama found ways using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promulgate rulings to achieve his aims.  The last four years, EPA posted four rulings that severely restrict use of coal, oil, and natural gas for power plants.  In 2011 there is the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).  On March 27, 2012 there is the First Carbon Pollution Standards for Future Power Plants.  On June 2, 2014, EPA issued proposed Carbon Pollution Standards  or Clean Power Plan (CPP) for existing power plants that by 2030 reduce carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels.  The fourth proposed ruling was finalized August 3, 2015 reducing carbon dioxide levels by 32 percent below 2005 level.  Publication of the CPP in the Federal Register was made October 23, 2015 which starts the clock for compliance.

The first three EPA rulings were implemented with billions spent adding more pollution controls or shutting down coal plants.  The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the MATS rule on June 29, 2015, ruling the Environmental Protection Agency did not properly consider costs of the regulation.  However, since three years had elapsed, utilities had already implemented the pollution controls or shut down plants at great costs.  At least 26 states are suing to overturn CPP.


On March 18, 2009, EPA employee Allyn Brooks-LaSure sent a three-page e-mail “Strategic Communications Conversation” to Richard Windsor, aka EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  Ms. Brooks-LaSure points out polar bears and ice caps were not attracting public attention on attempts to curtail fossil fuel use to stop global warming.  She stated, “However, if we shift from making this about polar caps and about our neighbor with respiratory illness we can potentially bring this issue to many Americans.”  Thus use of children struggling with asthma attacks would be a major issue supporting EPA regulations.

President Obama has used asthma on several occasions to support his efforts to stop use of fossil fuels to stop global warming.  The May 31, 2014 The Guardian carried an article “Obama heralds health benefits of climate plan to cut power plant emissions”  which described a presentation President Obama made, with white-robed individuals in the background, in an asthma ward at the Children’s National Medical Centre in Washington, DC.  The President said, “just in the first year the plan would reduce asthma attacks by 100,000 and heart attacks by 2100″.  A 7-page report from The White House “The Health Impacts of Climate Change On Americans” list their claims of health problems from global warming.  No mention most health problems occur in the winter.  On April 7, 2015, President Obama appeared on ABC television news and mentioned 12 years earlier his 4 year old daughter had to be rushed to an emergency room due to asthma attack.  As a heavy smoker at that time, President Obama must have been unaware that indoor smoking is a big contributor to causing asthma attacks.


EPA Administrator Gina McCarty announced, “The first year these standards go into effect, we’ll avoid up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks-and those numbers go up from there.”

No one really knows what causes asthma.  Causes of asthma symptoms vary for different people.  Still, one thing is consistent with asthma: when airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the airways become inflamed, narrow, and fill with mucus.  Allergies with asthma are common problem.  Eighty percent of people with asthma have allergies to airborne substances such as tree, grass, and weed pollens, mold, animal dander, dust mites, and cockroach particles.”

A July 11, 2011 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by University of Georgia Emeritus Prof. R. Harold Brown “Politics of asthma have outrun the science of the condition” destroys arguments power plant emissions cause asthma.  EPA claims ozone causes asthma; but Prof. Brown cites studies show a negative correlation of asthma attacks with peak eight-hour ozone concentrations.   A 2004 global report on asthma cited asthma incidences among adults as 10.9 percent in the U. S., 2.1 percent in China, and 2.2 percent in Russia; countries with far more polluted air than the U. S.  A 2001-2004 CDC study reported 14.6 percent of U. S. born women, 4 percent of Mexican born women, and 6.8 percent for immigrants born elsewhere claimed they had asthma.


EPA’s published Air Quality Trends shows continuous reductions in air pollution from 1980 to 2014.  This in spite of Gross Domestic Product growth of 147 %, miles traveled growth of 97 %, population growth of 41 %, and energy consumption of 26 %.  (Note the increase in energy consumption is far smaller than population growth.  This indicates far more efficient use of energy in spite of demands for more energy to satisfy new technology requirements like the Internet, the cloud storage, cell phones, and smart phones.)  Aggregate emissions of 6 common pollutants (carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide) dropped 63 % from 1980 to 2014.  This information was last updated September 24, 2015.

A July 22, 2015 article “Five Charts That Blow Apart EPA’s Asthma Claims” shows a 131 percent increase in child asthma from 1980 to 2014 in the U. S. while all forms of pollution decreased.  From EPA reasoning we should allow pollution to increase in order to reduce asthma incidence.

Air qualities today are unbelievably clean in comparison prior to 1950.  Coal was burned without environmental controls for electric power generation, train propulsion, and business and home heating.  Laundry hung outside to dry turned grey, snow on the ground the day after a snow fall was black, and soot was lodged on surfaces of objects (cars) left outside.  Most paints contained lead.  Tetraethyl lead was used in all gasoline.  Catalytic converters didn’t exist on cars.  The list of pollutants goes on and on.


A November 7, 2015 report “Energy and Consumer Impacts of EPA’s Clean Power Plan” by the National Economic Research Associates, Inc. predicted the following impacts of CPP:  Average annual electricity rate increases of 11 to 14 percent and economic losses to U. S. consumers ranging from $64 billion to $79 billion.  These increases will ultimately fall upon the 120 million households in the country for an average COST of $530 to $660.

A Bloomberg News report “Clean air’s cost: utility bill surge projected” stated loss of cheaper coal units will boost power prices by as much as 25 % on grids serving about a third of the nation.

Also in response to the Clean Power Plan the National Black Chamber of Commerce wrote a report “Potential of Proposed EPA Regulations on Low Income Groups and Minorities”.  “The EPA rules would: 1) Significantly reduce U.S. GDP every year over the next two decades –over $2.3 trillion; 2) Destroy millions of jobs; 3) More than double the cost of power and natural gas to over $1 trillion; 4) Require the average family to pay over $1,225 more for power and gas in 2030 than in 2012.  The EPA regulations will increase Hispanic poverty by more than 26% and Black poverty by more than 23%.”

EPA’s CCP brought the following response from the United Mine Workers of America:

[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement June 2, 2014:

The proposed rule issued today by the Environmental Protection Agency will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our initial analysis indicates that there will be a loss of 75,000 direct coal generation jobs in the United States by 2020. Those are jobs primarily in coal mines, power plants, and railroads. By 2035, those job losses will more than double to 152,000. That amounts to about a 50 percent cut in these well-paying, highly skilled jobs. When a U.S. government economic multiplier used to calculate the impact of job losses is applied to the entire economy, we estimate that the total impact will be about 485,000 permanent jobs lost.

Using EPA’s own models, climate rule reduces global warming by just 0.02 degrees Celsius and slows sea-level rise by just 0.01 of an inch by the year 2100.  It leaves Americans to wonder why the EPA is pursuing a climate rule that does nothing to address climate change while inflicting severe financial damage.


Carbon dioxide is a necessary chemical to sustain life on this planet.  It is an airborne fertilizer that increases plant yields and bigger plant root systems that make them more drought resistant.  A report on social benefits of carbon dioxide for agriculture alone is estimated at $3.2 trillion from 1960 to 2012.  Benefits from 2012 to 2050 are estimated to be $7.9 trillion.   It may be the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from 310 parts per million (ppm) in 1950 to 400 ppm today is the reason the planet can feed the population increase of 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7 billion in 2013.

Abundant fossil fuel energy is the source of benefits to modern society.  The energy sources cause risks; but society deems those risks well worth accepting in light of benefits.  Take the example of automobiles.  In the United States 33,000 die annually from automobile accidents; yet the 90 deaths daily are essentially ignored.  We have 230 million passenger cars and light trucks.  On average they travel 12,000 miles per year.  This leads to an auto fatality every 84 million miles traveled.  The convenience of auto travel overrides this slight risk of a fatality.

Higher electricity prices cause the less fortunate to forgo health benefits of heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.  This leads to unnecessary illnesses and deaths.  Can EPA prove benefits of decreased carbon dioxide output in electricity generation, which causes price escalation, overrides risks of reduced electricity availability?

It is relatively simple to show 33,000 death certificates annually due to automobile accidents.  Can EPA produce one death certificate they claim is due to carbon dioxide pollution?  Can one death certificate be produced saying a child died from asthma due to carbon dioxide?   I think not.  In the future we may be able to show death certificates due to EPA’s and President Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Categories: On the Blog

Facebook Should Reverse Its Support of Government’s Net Neutrality Fantasy

Somewhat Reasonable - November 18, 2015, 2:13 PM

Network Neutrality is a unilateral and completely unnecessary government-intrusion-and-imposition on the entirety of the Internet – and the trillions-of-dollars-economy that has arisen around it. Net Neutrality is one fantasy – based upon another.

Fantasy: The evil Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will – at some indeterminate point in the future – start blocking you from getting to certain websites. (In this way it is very similar to the global warming climate change fantasy. The fantasists have to threaten amorphous future menaces – because right now no such thing is happening.)

Reality: There are currently exactly zero ISPs blocking exactly zero websites. There have been all-time less than a handful of such instances – and just about all of those were of illegal-movie-and-music download sites. You want lawful content? You got it – no problem. Because ISPs are in the customer service business – if they stop servicing customers, they will very quickly be out of business.

The pro-government fantasists created this “Eeeeevil ISP” fantasy – to engender as much support as possible for another: Net Neutrality. Which is a top-down-government-only solution shambling around looking for a private sector problem – because none actually exists.

Net Neutrality mandates that every single website, electron and Web surfer – be treated exactly the same. Which is Socialism for the Internet – it guarantees everyone equal amounts of nothing.   Imagine two houses on the same block: In one someone is brushing his teeth – the other abode is engulfed in flames. Net Neutrality mandates that both houses get the exact same amount of water (which would be great news for firemen everywhere).

So say a grandmother only visits a few low-density websites – and mostly just emails her grandkids. And the guy next door to her is Netflix Ned – who is constantly streaming HD shows and movies. Pre-Net Neutrality, the ISP would manage the network. Meaning they’d give Netflix Ned more bandwidth when he’s home and viewing. And when he peels himself off the couch for a Taco Bell run – move that bandwidth elsewhere where its needed. And never allocate very much bandwidth to Grandma – because she just about never needs it. All of which maximized the online experience for everyone.

Net Neutrality outlaws this very reasonable network management. (Sure, the Feds currently pledge a carve-out for “reasonable network management” – but when has the government ever passed up an opportunity to regulate?) So Grandma and Netflix Ned now must be treated equally – despite their titanically disparate bandwidth use. And since there’s no such thing as a free launch, Grandma will end up paying much higher ISP rates – to subsidize Ned’s flick addiction.

Which ain’t just great for Netflix Ned. It’s outstanding for Netflix – and other high-traffic video sites like Google-owned YouTube. Netflix and YouTube all by themselves chew up more than half of all U.S. bandwidth. Net Neutrality outlaws their being charged for so doing. Which means Grandma (and the rest of us) pay even higher ISP rates – to subsidize the profits of Netflix and Google.

The road to Hell is paved with regulations. And government action is a timeless tale of good intentions – and unintended consequences. (Though at this point one would be forgiven for oft thinking the intentions aren’t good – and the consequences not unintended.) The fantasy? Net Neutrality was imposed to help people. The Reality? Not so much.

One of the giant-bandwidth-hog web companies that foisted Net Neutrality upon us is Facebook. Which was an awful thing for them to do. But they are currently trying to do a very good thing – get (tens of) millions of people in India (and beyond) free Internet access.

Facebook’s Massive New Drone Will Beam the Internet Down to Developing Countries

Facebook’s Internet.org Project Brings Free Web Access to Users in India

Facebook’s “Free Basics” is an ambitious, noble project. Barely 20% of India’s 1.3 billion people have Internet access. (Tens, hundreds of) millions more – for free (my favorite four-letter word) – would be outstanding.

But it turns Facebook from an ISP user – into an ISP. Which, ironically, unleashes their former Net Neutrality fantasist cohorts – on them.

Why There’s Nothing to Like About Free Basics

Mark Zuckerberg is watching out for his interests. Internet users should watch out for theirs.

But 80% of Indians aren’t Internet users – because they don’t have access. Wouldn’t Zuckerberg trying to rectify that be in their interest?

“Irrelevant” say the pro-Net Neutrality fantasists. So they are working to stop Zuckerberg from providing a billion Indians free Internet – to instead keep them marooned, Internet-free. It is for them far more important that their Net Neutrality Fantasy remain undisturbed.

Facebook’s Free Basics Isn’t Good for India

More than 330,000 people signed a petition to oppose zero-rating and uphold net neutrality principles in the country and numerous Web and media companies dropped off Facebook’s offering in support of the initiative.

330,000 petition signers – versus a nation of 1.3 billion people. Not exactly overwhelming opposition. And that petition is – online. Which means these vituperative, interloping clowns already have Internet access – and are using said access to actively prevent a billion Indians from joining them online.

Thankfully, some people realize how absurd is the Net Neutrality Fantasy juxtaposed with India’s Reality.

A Like for Mark Zuckerberg

(T)he real digital caste system is where the 80 per cent are excluded from what the 20 per cent enjoy. Is it better for a society to provide access of some kind to more people, or should a guarantee of the absolute principles of net neutrality come first, regardless of whether it deters private initiative to provide free access?

…(E)ven a limited form of access is better than none….

Given this reality, concerns over net neutrality seem elitist.

“Seem elitist?” No, they are absolutely elitist. Especially so when said access – is free.

This is not me reveling in the schadenfreude of Zuckerberg being hoisted by his former cohorts on his Net Neutrality petard. It is me asking new ISP Facebook to reflect on how stupid Net Neutrality actually is. And put its considerable weight behind undoing its stupid imposition in the United States – and all around the world.

We need more visionaries like Zuckerberg working to bring access to the world’s unconnected billions. As he is now seeing, government and its fantasies are a huge impediment to so doing.

Here’s hoping Zuckerberg will leave behind his pro-government, pro-impediment, pro-Fantasy Net Neutrality cohorts. And instead join with us – the pro-people, pro-uplift, pro-Reality contingent.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Rejection of Keystone Pipeline a Win-Win Strategy for Obama, Lose-Lose for U.S.

Somewhat Reasonable - November 18, 2015, 9:56 AM

Co-authored by: Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold

As predicted, President Barack Obama on Friday, November 6, 2015, rejected the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada in a victory for environmentalists who campaigned against the project for more than seven years.  His reasons include protection of the environment, no “lasting” economic benefits for the U.S., and the current low price of petroleum.

The supposed danger to the environment is based on the mining of oil sands in Canada, not with the pipeline itself. In fact, oil sands mining will continue unabated, but the oil will be transported by truck and rail at 30 times the environmental risk of a pipelineAccording to the governor of South Dakota, Dennis Daugaard, rejection of the Keystone Pipeline by Obama mean that rail capacity needed to carry petroleum will not leave enough to carry farm produce and grain.

The so-called “temporary” economic benefits consist of employing 20,000 U.S. workers for two to five years building the pipeline, at PRIVATE expense. To Obama, “lasting” benefits only accrue when employing far fewer workers to build roads and bridges at PUBLIC expense.

According to Obama, we don’t need Canadian oil.  Even if we had access to Keystone pipeline oil, the oil gasoline prices wouldn’t be reduced [not overnight anyway]. Besides, gasoline is now priced at record low levels [but still higher than when Obama took office].

Low petroleum prices are deceiving.  Modern extraction techniques, including “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing), still need prices over $60/bbl to be profitable. Prices are low because Saudi Arabia, in what is a Saudi Price War on US Oil, is producing crude oil at the same or higher rate as in the past in order to keep prices below the economic break point for U.S. production. The result: our producers are being driven out of business. Petroleum production is down, and thousands of workers have been laid off. It is also the same strategyRockefeller (Standard Oil) used in the early 1900s to drive his competitors out of business. Rockefeller was then able to charge as much as he wished without restraint. (This, in turn, led to Teddy Roosevelt’s creation of anti-trust legislation, and the start of the Progressive political movement.)

Legacy building guides Obama

As one who deserves a C- as a student of history (and the Constitution), President Obama does not recognize the strategic value of petroleum in world politics. Countries don’t go to war over principles, they fight for natural resources, manufacturing capability, and other strategic assets (e.g., warm water ports). Western Europe depends on Russia for oil and natural gas supplies, whether from Russia directly, or from the Middle East. Without the ability to provide an alternate source of energy, the U.S. cannot count on Europe to back us if Russia were to attack the Baltic States or were Iran to attack Saudi Arabia (almost a certainty in the foreseeable future).

One thing Obama does understand, and only too well, is that in approving Keystone he would undercut his global leadership on Climate Change when nations come together at the end of this month for COP21.

France will chair and host the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11) from November 30 to December 11, 2015. The conference is crucial because the expected outcome is a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2°C. This temperature variation has been adopted, in spite of the fact that the same climate experts admit the 2 degree rise will occur regardless of the proposed CO2 cutbacks. The real issue:  transferring billions of dollars to corrupt, “developing” nations, while at the same time crippling the economies of those nations expected to pay up.

Legacy is all important to Obama.  Consequences matter little to Obama, as long as his political agenda is being fulfilled in accordance to what he views as appropriate in his assumed role of an imperialist president.

Obama, in accusing others about politicizing the pipeline, remarked that its importance had become “overinflated” and was being used as campaign fodder by both parties.  However, Obama is using the pipeline as a symbol for his global climate change legacy?  Approving the pipeline would have been out-of-step with Obama’s climate message.

It matters not to Obama that as this nation has lead the world in reducing emissions. His legacy assured, it will be up to succeeding presidents to deal with the problems he has created. Rejection of the Pipeline is part of a win-win strategy for Obama and a lose-lose strategy for the rest of nation.

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Bill Nye, the Anti-Science Guy, Demeans Science – Hopes to Silence Climate ‘Deniers’

Somewhat Reasonable - November 18, 2015, 9:48 AM

In an interview in Salon touting his new book Unstoppable, which should be filed in the fiction category at your local library, the title of the interview proclaims, “Bill Nye demolishes climate deniers.” After reading the article, I was left asking: Who are these deniers, and where does this demolishing take place?

Salon and Nye have evidently taken a page from the climate dogmatists’ playbook and decided to label any climate realists with the derogatory term “deniers,” linking them to holocaust deniers, an offensive smear the Associated Press requires its writers to avoid. For Nye, a climate denier is anyone who rejects all or part of the claim, “Humans, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels for energy resulting in and the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, are causing potentially catastrophic climate change, which governments must act now to prevent by restricting fossil fuel use.”

With all due respect to Nye—and I think he’s due very little respect—thousands of researchers, scientists and educated persons around the globe reject some or all of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory.

Nye, who uses an engaging, folksy way of speaking, transformed a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering into a well-paying gig as a comedy sketch writer and then as a television science spokesman. Nothing in Nye’s background—neither his education nor his entertainment career using humor to teach simple science topics to youths while wearing a lab coat and calling himself the “science guy”—makes him a climate expert.

For Nye, the main stumbling block to significant action in fighting climate change is people debating the causes and consequences of the phenomenon. According to Nye, the time for debate is over. “We know exactly why the climate is changing—it’s human activity!” he said.

Nye proposes a surefire shortcut to motivate individuals and government to fight climate change: refuse all scientific discussion of the matter. “[Get] the deniers out of our discourse,” Nye said. “You know, we can’t have these people—they’re absolutely toxic. And so part of the message in this book is to get the deniers out of the picture.”

Nye is the real denier here. He denies the simple fact credible, peer-reviewed, published, award-winning climate researchers are producing evidence every day calling into question the extent of humankind’s role in climate change. These prominent “deniers” rightly question whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant … or a valuable, naturally occurring gas that is vital to plant growth. They also question whether a modest warming, if it should occur, would be beneficial rather than harmful to humanity and the environment.

I’ll take the word of award-winning physicists, climatologists, and meteorologists, including Richard Lindzen, Ph.D., William Gray, Ph.D., S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., Pat Michaels, Ph.D., David Legates, Ph.D., Willie Soon, Ph.D., Judith Curry, Ph.D., Bob Balling, Ph.D., Freeman Dyson, Ph.D., William Happer, Ph.D., Robert Carter, Ph.D., and any of the hundreds of other credible scientists in the United States and abroad I could name who are skeptical of one or more aspects of the AGW meme over that of the former host of a children’s TV show.

Nye is one of those who tries to insert the idea of consensus—a political term having no legitimate place in the process of scientific exploration and discovery, as Albert Einstein noted decades ago —into science in order to silence those who disagree with him and to suppress the facts that disprove his ill-informed claims. Even worse, he ignores there is no consensus on the issue, even if consensus mattered in science.

For example, a recent study by the Netherlands Climate Assessment Agency (NCAA) demolishes the myth 97 percent of scientists agree with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) claim it is “extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”

Just 797 respondents, only 43 percent of the 1,868 respondents, agreed with IPCC’s statement at the scientific core of AGW, and that statement doesn’t even include the all-important suggestion catastrophic global warming or climate change is imminent.

More important than experts on one side or another is the simple evidence recorded for all to see. At every turn, climate alarmists have been wrong and climate skeptics proven right. Climate models say global temperature should climb right along with the rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, yet temperatures fell while emissions rose from the 1940s through the 1970s. For the past two decades, CO2 emissions have continued to rise, but as global satellite data show, temperatures have been in a holding pattern for 18 years.

The climate models predicted more intense hurricanes, yet for nearly a decade the United States has experienced far fewer than the historic average number of hurricanes making landfall, and they have been no more powerful than previously experienced. Sea-level rise has slowed, polar bear numbers have increased, Antarctica is gaining ice, the Arctic is back to average ice levels for the decade, and crop production continues to set records year over year. Each of these points contradicts predictions made by IPCC and other climate alarmists.

I’ll put it in language a children’s television show host can understand: Climate model outputs and projections don’t count as scientific evidence any more than my 1960s-era plastic models of Dracula and the Wolf Man provide evidence real vampires or werewolves exist.

Bill Nye is not a climate expert; he’s just a guy who pretended to be a scientist on TV. Although television gives him a big megaphone, the scientific evidence drowns him out, for those who listen. That explains his eagerness to silence those who disagree with him.

[Originally published at CNS News]

Categories: On the Blog

Common Core’s Double Whammy

Somewhat Reasonable - November 18, 2015, 9:42 AM

Some of the most reliable yardsticks in monitoring academic progress in K-12 education are the assessments known as the Nation’s Report Card, officially the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The results from its 2015 assessments are in, and they are not encouraging.

Perhaps the most interesting performance measure reported by NAEP is the percentage of students who have “passed” the criteria for grade-level performance. Looking at the national testing done on eighth grade students in the subjects of mathematics and reading, we can identify three eras of student performance:

  • 19701990 brought stagnation in NAEP math and reading proficiencies. Somewhat less than 30 percent of students were proficient in reading, and approximately 20 percent were proficient in mathematics. Performance levels did not improve over these two decades.
  • 19902013 was a period of modest but significant performance improvements, particularly in mathematics. It was also the period of the school choice reform movement and implementation. During those years we saw the introduction of school vouchers and public charter schools. By the end of this interval, NAEP testing revealed both mathematics and reading proficiencies had risen to about 35 percent. That trend has now abruptly stopped and reversed.
  • 20132015 is admittedly a short period, but NAEP proficiencies in both of these subjects have now dropped. Math proficiencies went from 35 percent to 33 percent, and reading proficiencies slid from 35 percent to 34 percent. This period of study coincides with the rollout of Common Core academic standards and their accompanying testing programs in many states.

The recent declines are not just statistical fluctuations, as we know from a statistical error analysis I and my colleagues at Asora Education Enterprises performed.

The skeptic might say, “Well, correlation does not prove much. You shouldn’t be so quick to blame Common Core.” That’s correct. We need more evidence if we are to confirm our suspicions.

So we looked at the NAEP results state by state. We grouped states according to their participation in Common Core. Did they formally adopt the standards without rescinding them? Did they participate in one or the other official Common Core testing consortia? After grouping the 50 states and District of Columbia accordingly, we found this:

  • Every grouping showed a drop in proficiencies.
  • In math, these declines were 0.5 percent worse for the Common Core states.
  • In reading, these declines were 1.0 percent worse for Common Core states.

How can we explain these results?

First, we must acknowledge these numbers are of the same order as the published statistical error rates involved. This means we do not yet have firm statistical proof of what we are about to say. However, we do have indications of an effect.

We see two correlations between Common Core and the witnessed degradation in performance: direct and indirect, a double whammy.

  • The direct effect of Common Core is attributed to actual changes in instructional practices within those states implementing some or all of the Common Core standards.
  • The indirect effect of Common Core is an informal one within nonparticipating states wherein some changes have been made “toward” Common Core without actual formal involvement.

What, then, can parents and other stakeholders of K12 education conclude from this?

What’s clearest is that Common Core has not brought any improvements in the important subjects of mathematics and reading. In fact, the presence of this unfortunate “experiment” correlates with performance degradation in both subjects.

Less clear, but likely, is the fact that states which have formally participated in Common Core have fared worse than those not doing so. And it appears the “infection” has spread to states not officially adopting and using these so-called standards.

Other scholars have criticized Common Core from a number of other perspectives. They note, for example, it violates federal law; the standards for mathematics are at odds with college expectations of student skills; the reading standards reduce student exposure to literary classics; and it reflects a clear progressive (leftward) perspective evident in the history standards.

Those of us who were skeptical of Common Core had strong theoretical arguments on which we based our negative views. Now we have numbers in confirmation.

Common Core is not yet dead. But it should be.

David Anderson is a senior fellow for education studies at the Heartland Institute.

[Originally published at the Washington Times]

Categories: On the Blog

Las Vegas Fossil Data Supports Natural Global Warming

Somewhat Reasonable - November 18, 2015, 9:33 AM

A November 10, 2015 news release from the U. S. Geological Survey describes a paper posted in the U. S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “Dynamic response of desert wetlands to abrupt climate change”.  From examination of fossils in a region North of Las Vegas, NV, researchers determined periods of extreme warmth in which wetlands dried up with extinction of wild life.  These warm periods were warmer than today in which wetlands exist.  The paper mentioned the timing paralleled ice core data from Greenland.

Below is the graph of Greenland’s temperature in the last 10,000 years. The changes are probably very indicative of temperatures changes across all of the Northern Hemisphere.

Temperatures from Greenland.

About 1,000 years ago average temperatures were about 1 degree higher than today (which makes our concern about a 0.4 degree rise since 1980 rather minor).  About 3200 years ago average temperatures were about 2 degrees above current temperatures; all these changes with a relatively constant atmospheric carbon dioxide level of 280 parts per million.

The Las Vegas data is a powerful support for past warming and cooling periods existing during times of constant atmospheric carbon dioxide of 280 ppm.  The comparison with Greenland ice core data should be exploited.

James H. Rust, professor of nuclear engineering and policy advisor The Heartland Institute.

Categories: On the Blog

Ethanol Loses its Few Friends

Somewhat Reasonable - November 18, 2015, 9:08 AM

Early in his campaign, now top-tier Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, supported ethanol—a position for which I called him out. It has long been thought, that to win in Iowa, a candidate must support ethanol.

However, in a major policy reversal, Carson told a national audience during the CNBC GOP debate that he no longer supports subsidies for any industry, including U.S. ethanol producers: “I have studied that issue in great detail and what I’ve concluded, the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies and get the government out of our lives and let people rise and fall based on how good they are.”

Plainly irritated, the ethanol industry shot back immediately, saying it receives no government subsidies. But it neglected to mention a very important fact. Instead of subsidies, ethanol producers get something better: a mandate that orders refiners to blend ethanol into motor fuels which forces consumers to buy their product. A federally guaranteed market beats a subsidy every time.

The ethanol industry also benefits indirectly from agriculture programs that support farmers who grow corn for ethanol. And recently, the Obama Administration announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering $100 million in grants to subsidize the installation of blender pumps at gas stations all over the country.

In attempt to push more ethanol into the motor fuel market, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) readily admits it plans to “drive growth in renewable fuels by providing appropriate incentives. (Italics added.)”

Carson, and a majority of Republicans and many Democrats, knows the ethanol mandate is a do-gooder program that has gone horribly wrong.  Enacted by a well-meaning Congress, in a different energy era, it is part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refiners to add biofuels to gasoline and diesel—ostensibly to reduce imports of foreign oil. This multi-headed hydra is siphoning money from consumers’ pockets.

The ethanol mandate has been blamed for rising food prices—particularly for beef and poultry—because it has increased the cost of animal feed. Ethanol-blended fuel provides fewer miles per gallon because ethanol contains only two-thirds as much energy as gasoline, forcing motorists to fill up more often.

The mandate puts at risk millions of vehicles owned and operated by private citizens and fleets. Ethanol is corrosive. In tests, it has been proven to eat engine components, including seals and gaskets, causing expensive repairs. The government does not reimburse motorists for their loss; rather it is allowing—in fact, encouraging—the sale of fuels containing more and more ethanol.

Most vehicles on the road today can withstand E10, a gasoline blend containing up to 10 percent ethanol, but the EPA has granted a “partial waiver” for the sale of 15 percent blends. AAA advises owners of non-flex-fuel vehicles to avoidE15, warning that manufacturers will void their warranties. Although the EPA maintains that 2001 model-year and newer vehicles can safely use E15, studies by the prestigious Coordinating Research Council found that E15 caused engine damage to some of the EPA-approved vehicles, leading to leaks and increased emissions.

Likewise, marine engine makers also caution boat owners to avoid E15. During winter storage, they suggest pouring a fuel stabilizer into built-in gas tanks to avoid problems. A survey of boat owners has shown ethanol-related repairs cost an average of about $1,000.

These days, ethanol has few friends. Opponents include such strange bedfellows as the petroleum, restaurant, livestock and auto industries—and environmental groups.

Despite government claims to the contrary, studies show ethanol also harms the environment. Earlier this year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered the EPA grossly understated the amount of carbon spewed into the air by the expansion of corn farming. This month, the EWG found the corn-ethanol mandate is discouraging advanced biofuels development, which could have environmental benefits.

These are just some of the problems. There’s also the EPA’s complicated Renewable Identification Number (RIN) trading scheme, which allows refiners to buy ethanol credits when not enough is available for purchase. This poorly managed program has allowed phony ethanol companies to sell fictitious credits and abscond with millions of dollars. And then there were the huge fines levied against oil companies for failing to add cellulosic ethanol to gasoline although the advanced fuel did not exist in commercial quantities—even according to the EPA’s own data.

All of these costs have an impact on consumers who buy fuel and for taxpayers who pay the salaries of the bureaucrats who administer the RFS program. Yet the RFS continues to stumble along because Congress has not mustered the will to repeal it.

By November 30, the administration must finalize the amount of biofuels that must be blended into motor fuels in the next couple of years. A pitched battle is developing on Capitol Hill. On one side are those who want an even larger market share for ethanol. On the other side are those who see the program for what it is—a massive payout to one allegedly “green” industry.

The latter group includes more than 180 Washington lawmakers, including Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), who have sent a letter to the administration asking it to “limit the economic and consumer harm this program has already caused.” Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT.) was more direct. “We’ve got to just acknowledge that the corn-based mandate is a well-intended flop,” he said.

If their effort succeeds, it will not end ethanol production, as there is a free-market call for it. Energy Economist Tim Snyder, who was influential in developing many early ethanol plants, told me: “Regardless of the limits the EPA sets, or the fate of the RFS, we will continue to use ethanol as an additive to provide an adequate oxygenate for our fuel. Oxygenates are beneficial in reformulated fuels to reduce carbon monoxide and soot. Formerly we used lead. We replaced lead with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) then ethanol replaced MTBE. Ethanol was initially targeted as only a replacement for previous oxygenates, however, today with ethanol being 23 cents per gallon more expensive than NYMEX RBOB, the math doesn’t work and the need to increase blends of ethanol doesn’t meet the test of proper blending economics.”

Wisely, Ben Carson has figured out that government meddling in the marketplace is a bad idea. Contrary to conventional wisdom, his rejection of special treatment for ethanol is not hurting his campaign. Although the State of Iowa has made support for ethanol a litmus test for presidential candidates, polls conducted before and after the Oct. 28 debate, when he announced his revised view on ethanol, show Carson continues to rise in popularity nationally. Even the pro-ethanol lobby, using its semantic gymnastics, cannot dispute that fact.

Congress could learn from Carson’s positive poll numbers by once and for all ending the ethanol subsidies, er, mandates, without fearing political reprisal. Like Carson, doing so might even help Congress’ pitiful approval numbers.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Kyle Maichle: The Push for an Article V Convention

Somewhat Reasonable - November 17, 2015, 4:40 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Kyle Maichle, project manager for the Center for Constitutional Reform at The Heartland Institute joins Host Donald Kendal to discuss the center as well as the the status of the various movements that are ongoing in the United States.

Maichle talks about the three major organizations that are pushing for an Article V convention of the states that are described in the recently released Heartland Policy Brief titled “The Article V Movement: A Comprehensive Assessment to Date and Suggested Approach for State Legislators and Advocacy Groups Moving Forward.” Maichle also addresses the threat of a runaway convention that many critics tend to bring up.

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


Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: Women and Politics Event Featuring Amy Jacobson Wednesday, Nov 18!

Somewhat Reasonable - November 16, 2015, 3:26 PM

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

[ezcol_2third] LeftExposed Profile of the Week: Sea Change Foundation Where do liberal environmental groups get hundreds of millions of dollars every year to lie about complex environmental issues and push the far-left agenda of anti-capitalism? One major source is the Sea Change Foundation, established in 2006 with the single purpose of advocating climate change alarmism. Heartland’s Emily Zanotti and Ron Arnold document the foundation’s history, funding, and controversies with a new profile posted at LeftExposed.org. READ MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third] Arkansas Private Option Should Serve as Warning to Other States Matthew Glans, Heartland Research & Commentary Medicaid expansion is an expensive endeavor that research shows fails to provide better or more affordable health care. Arkansas illustrates the problems with expanding a flawed government entitlement program. Heartland’s Matthew Glans writes, “Despite the private-market veneer, the Arkansas program still represents an expansion of a failed Medicaid system, where multiple aspects of the insurance plan are dictated by the federal government and the beneficial elements of real market competition are lost.” READ MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third] Women and Politics Event Featuring Amy Jacobson Wednesday, Nov 18! Time is running out to reserve a spot for the Women and Politics event taking place this Wednesday at The Heartland Institute in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The evening will feature two panel discussions with speakers including Illinois state Rep. Jeanne Ives, Illinois state Rep. Margo McDermed, AM560 radio personality Amy Jacobson, and several others – including two candidates for public office. Come participate in a discussion about how women are increasingly leading the political debate at the national and state levels on both the left and the right. Advance registration is required. READ MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third] Featured Podcast: Nick Loris: Paris COP-21 Climate Conference Preview Heartland is leading a contingent of climate realists to the United Nations’ COP-21 summit in Paris next month. Nick Loris, Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, joins Environment & Climate News Managing Editor H. Sterling Burnett to preview what we may witness there. Loris and Burnett also discuss the special-interest giveaways in the bi-partisan Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. LISTEN TO MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end]

[ezcol_2third] Bringing Climate Realism to Paris! Help Support Heartland’s Trip to COP-21 One of the most important battles in the history of the global warming debate will be fought this December at a United Nations climate conference in Paris called COP-21. The Heartland Institute is working with other leading think tanks and advocacy groups to make sure our voice – the voice of sound science and economics, of energy consumers and taxpayers in America – is heard. Donate at Heartland’s Indiegogo crowd-funding site today to help support this vital mission. READ MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third] NAEP Scores Reveal Common Core Double Whammy David V. Anderson, Washington Times The recent release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, the most reliable yardstick in monitoring academic progress in K–12 education, revealed a drop in math and reading proficiencies. While this drop may be a one-off anomaly, further analysis shows a correlation between poor performers and states that were eager to implement Common Core State Standards.  READ MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third] Courts Rein In Obama’s Regulatory Overreach H. Sterling Burnett, Real Clear Policy The surest evidence that President Barack Obama’s environmental policies have gone too far comes from the federal courts, which are normally hesitant to rein in executive agencies exercising regulatory authority foolishly granted to them by Congress. Federal courts in the past five months have struck down or limited several of Obama’s executive orders and EPA regulations. READ MORE

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[ezcol_2third] California Tobacco Tax Hike Will Be Harmful to Smokers’ Health Jesse Hathaway, Inside Sources To quote the late, great economist Milton Friedman, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” In the case of the California tax increase, the intentions were to increase tax revenue while simultaneously improving public health. This tax increase will fail on both fronts. READ MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third] Bonus Podcast: Dr. Bud Weinstein: The Keystone XL Pipeline and Oil Dr. Bud Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute, joins Research Fellow Isaac Orr to talk about President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and the factors that influence the global prices of oil. Weinstein and Orr also discuss OPEC’s decision to flood the world market with crude oil and the effect it has had on prices and producers in the United States. LISTEN TO MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third] Video: ‘Policing for Profit Visualized: How Big Is Civil Forfeiture?’ Jesse Hathaway, The Heartlander The Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm based in Virginia, has published a new video explaining how civil asset forfeiture corrupts the criminal justice system and incentivizes unconstitutional treatment by law enforcement. Civil asset forfeiture, also known as civil judicial forfeiture, is a controversial legal process in which law enforcement agencies take personal assets from individuals or groups suspected of a crime or illegal activity. READ MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third] Budget Deal Ends Obamacare Enrollment Mandate Justin Haskins, Consumer Power Report Congress and President Barack Obama reached a budget agreement that some experts, including the Urban Institute’s Richard Johnson, are calling “an unexpected bit of sanity coming out of Washington,” according to a report by CNBC. After much negotiating, an onerous Obamacare requirement has been permanently eliminated: the requirement that would have forced all employers with 200 or more full-time employees to automatically enroll new full-time employees in a health care insurance plan during open enrollment.  READ MORE [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end][/ezcol_1third_end] [ezcol_2third]Invest in the Future of Freedom! Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make. Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.[/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end] [/ezcol_1third_end]
Categories: On the Blog

A University the Football Team Can Be Proud Of

Somewhat Reasonable - November 16, 2015, 2:55 PM

In the early glory days of University Oklahoma football – just after the school had won its first mythical national championship – then-University President Dr. George L. Cross found himself defending a budget request to the State Legislature’s appropriations committee.

”Yes, that’s all well and good,” responded one State Senator. ”But what kind of football team are we going to have this year?”

Dr. Cross’s cynical but witty reply: ”We want to build a university our football team can be proud of.”

Although Dr. Cross later said that he thought his “whole presentation had been wasted,” the quotation was picked across the country and – although often misattributed – remains famous today. And well it should, for on Monday, November 9, 2015, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation – at the behest of the University’s football team.

At the moment, it seems, neither the University of Missouri nor its football team has much to be proud of. The team, the third in the same conference called “the Tigers” (along with LSU and Auburn, also known as ”War Eagles”), is a middling 4-5 with three games to play. The University stands accused, by the football team and others, of being insufficiently sensitive to racial slights perceived by its minority of African-American students, who claim to feel marginalized.

The conflagration reportedly began when student government president Payton Head complained that people in a passing pickup truck had shouted racial slurs at him. Then shortly before the University’s Homecoming in October, members of a black student organization called the Legion of Black Collegians claimed that an apparently drunken white student hurled similar slurs.

In retaliation, on Homecoming itself, yet another minority rights group calling itself “Concerned Student 1950” surrounded President Wolfe and demanded that he get out of his car and acknowledge his “white male privilege” and “admit to his gross negligence.”  He didn’t. Now he’s history. No word yet on how the football team, which skipped two days of practice, will do this weekend against BYU.

It’s unclear what the student body president was doing when he was allegedly accosted or even if anyone witnessed the alleged incident, but unless the miscreants were University employees driving a University truck, it’s difficult to see what their conduct has to do with the school or its president. As for what a drunken fellow student says, white or black, as my late mother would have said, “consider the source.”

What the aggrieved students at the University of Missouri apparently want is what their counterparts across the country at Yale College, one of the country’s elite institutions, also want: the ability to hold themselves apart for special treatment on the basis of their minority status, while at the same time claiming they’re being discriminated against. (Certain students at Yale, as you may have read, are demanding that one of the school’s residential college “masters” resign because his wife responded insensitively to a campus-wide email suggesting that students be more “thoughtful” in their choice of Halloween costumes. She suggested, in so many words, that the original email was just a little bit silly and a little bit preachy in that Halloween was, after all, an opportunity to release one’s inner child.)

Bear in mind that 35,000-student body at Mizzou is reportedly 79 percent white and only 8 percent black, yet elected an African-American as its student government president.   Bear in mind also that the Missouri Tigers were the first major college football team in America openly to embrace an openly gay player, Michael Sam, notwithstanding his apparent inability so far to make it in either the NFL or the CFL.

A person of ordinary sensibilities would think that tends to show that the University is neither institutionally racist nor narrow-minded. Unlike, say, the protesters, who have been tweeting things like “It’s typically white media who don’t understand the importance of respecting black spaces” and “If you have a problem with us wanting to have our spaces that we create respected, leave!”

On the one hand it’s hard not to experience a little schadenfreude here, with the left-wing progressive bean-counters of American academia now apparently being eaten by their own young. On the other hand, it’s a crying shame to see that the United States of America – under an African-American President, no less – has drifted so far from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a country in which people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Higher education at least once preached fealty to the ideals of free speech and the marketplace of ideas, but today it’s all about making students feel comfortable and “safe.”

Perhaps, in time, the Missouri Tigers can yet have a university that the football team can be proud of.

In the meantime, history again repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate Agenda Behind the Bacon Scare

Somewhat Reasonable - November 16, 2015, 2:32 PM

Headlines blaring that processed and red meat causes cancer have made this steak-and-bacon-loving nation collectively reach for the Rolaids. Vegans are in full party mode, and the media is in a feeding frenzy. But there is more to this story than meets the (rib)eye.

With United Nations climate talks beginning in a few weeks in Paris, the cancer warning seems particularly well timed. Environmental activists have long sought to tie food to the fight against global warming. Now the doomsayers who want to take on modern agriculture, a considerable source of greenhouse-gas emissions, can employ an additional scare tactic: Meat production sickens the planet; meat consumption sickens people.

Late last month, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—part of the World Health Organization, an arm of the U.N.—concluded that red meat, like beef and pork, is “probably carcinogenic” to humans, and that processed meat is an even greater cancer threat. The IARC placed foods like bacon, sausage and hot dogs in the same carcinogen category as cigarettes and plutonium.

The working group assessed “more than 800 epidemiological studies that investigated the association of cancer with consumption of red meat or processed meat in many countries.” But support for the IARC’s sweeping conclusion is flimsy at best.

First, the report largely addresses only one cancer—colorectal—while making passing mention of other cancers, like stomach and prostate. Yet the evidence linking red meat and colorectal cancer is unconvincing. The authors write that “positive associations were seen with high versus low consumption of red meat in half of those studies”—hardly enough conclusive evidence to justify a stern cancer warning.

The working group even admits in the same paper that “there is limited evidence for the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat” and “no clear association was seen in several of the high quality studies.” Despite this, the agency placed red meat in its second-highest carcinogen category, alongside DDT and the human papillomavirus, HPV.

The case against processed meat is dubious, too. According to the IARC report, each 50-gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. That might sound scary, but the absolute risk is what really matters. As an example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2% of 40-year-olds will develop colorectal cancer over the next 30 years of their lives. What the IARC study suggests is a slightly higher rate—say, 2.4% over 30 years—for those 40-year-olds who tear through a 16-ounce package of bacon every week without fail.

A doctor with the IARC acknowledged in a news release announcing the findings that “for an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small.” But that statement—widely overlooked in most media coverage—didn’t stop the agency from putting processed meat in its highest category of carcinogens, alongside mustard gas and formaldehyde.

Sensationalist reporting makes processed meat sound more dangerous than even the IARC report claims. A headline at NBC News reads: “Ham, Sausages Cause Cancer; Red Meat Probably Does, Too, WHO Group Says.” Another by the national desk at Cox Media Group runs: “Bacon poses same cancer risk as cigarettes, world health group claims.” This is a case where many journalists and policy makers fail to give proper scrutiny to claims that advance the prevailing political narrative. When a report advises eating less meat, few bother to check the facts, because the conclusion is already popular among them and assumed true.

Now we get to the connection between climate alarmism and the meat-is-bad movement. In advance of the Paris climate talks, the World Health Organization released a lengthy report about climate pollutants and global health risks. The section on agriculture discusses the need to direct consumers away from foods whose production emits high levels of greenhouse gases: “A key action with large potential climate and health benefits is to facilitate a shift away from high-GHG foods—many of which are of animal origin—and towards healthy, low-GHG (often plant-based) alternatives.”

The report specifically mentions red and processed meat: “In affluent populations, shifting towards diets based on careful adherence to public health recommendations—including reduced consumption of red and processed meat and/or other animal-sourced foods in favor of healthier plant-based alternatives—has the potential to both reduce GHG emissions and improve population health.”

How would this shift in consumers’ tastes be produced? “Experimental and modeling studies demonstrate that food pricing interventions have the ability to influence food choice,” the report states, before favorably citing a study in the United Kingdom of “taxing all food and drinks with above-average GHG emissions.”

Much of this is aimed at the U.S., which is the world’s top producer of beef and its third-largest producer of pork. Americans, along with Australians and Argentines, are among the world’s biggest per capita meat-eaters. Now climate busybodies can shout that meat causes cancer and is as bad for the person eating it as it is for the planet.

In other words, meat is a double threat that governments should contain. Hang on to your T-bones and sausages, folks.

Ms. Kelly, a cooking instructor and food writer, lives in Orland Park, Ill. Mr. Stier leads the risk analysis division at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C.


[Originally published at Pundicity]

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