Somewhat Reasonable

Syndicate content Somewhat Reasonable | Somewhat Reasonable
The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
Updated: 4 min 14 sec ago

Debate Over Global Warming Is Not Over, Despite Common Core Claims (Part 2)

April 18, 2015, 10:42 PM

The scientific debate over global warming is not over.  According to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, only 20% of likely U.S. voters believe the scientific debate about global warming is over, while 63% disagree and say the debate still continues, and 17% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)  Neither is it true, despite numerous news reports, that 97% of scientists agree human activity is causing a climate crisis that demands we move on to government directed “solutions” to the crisis.

A poster produced by The Heartland Institute can be downloaded here with the faces, names, and titles of 58 experts who are current and former professors of climatology, geology, environmental science, physics, and economics at leading universities around the world. [NOTE: Because of its size in downloading, the Heartland Institute can send you a free copy delivered by mail (only in the U.S., please) by writing to: Global Warming Poster, The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive #2740, Chicago, IL  60606.]

For additional information to counter those who are trying to force the general public (and school children) to accept climate change as a catastrophic future happening, the Nongovernmental International Panel of Climate Change (NIPCC) has produced a series of comprehensive research reports and easy-to-read summaries addressing all aspects of the scientific debate over global warming.

The co-founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, shocked academics by insisting the theory of man-made climate change was not scientifically credible.  According to Coleman, what ‘little evidence’ there is for rising global temperatures points to a ‘natural phenomenon’ within a developing eco-system. In an open letter attacking the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, John Coleman wrote:

  • “The ocean is not rising significantly.”
  • “The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number.”
  • “Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing).”
  • “I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.”

To be listened to, and with good reason, is Patrick Moore, who as a co-founder and leader of Greenpeace for 15 years, is now chair and spokesman for Allow Golden Rice .  Mr. Moore was clear and direct in his article of March 20, 2015, “Why I am a Climate Change Skeptic.”

I am skeptical humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will be catastrophic in the near future. There is no scientific proof of this hypothesis, yet we are told ‘the debate is over’ and ‘the science is settled.’

My skepticism begins with the believers’ certainty they can predict the global climate with a computer model. The entire basis for the doomsday climate change scenario is the hypothesis increased atmospheric carbon dioxide due to fossil fuel emissions will heat the Earth to unlivable temperatures.

In fact, the Earth has been warming very gradually for 300 years, since the Little Ice Age ended, long before heavy use of fossil fuels. Prior to the Little Ice Age, during the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings colonized Greenland and Newfoundland, when it was warmer there than today. And during Roman times, it was warmer, long before fossil fuels revolutionized civilization.

The idea it would be catastrophic if carbon dioxide were to increase and average global temperature were to rise a few degrees is preposterous.

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced for the umpteenth time we are doomed unless we reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to zero. Effectively this means either reducing the population to zero, or going back 10,000 years before humans began clearing forests for agriculture. This proposed cure is far worse than adapting to a warmer world, if it actually comes about.

A sure sign that the push by government and other environmental organizations isn’t working, despite frantic efforts to convince the American people that global warming if unchecked will produce all manner of future catastrophic happening for Mother Earth, is that advocates of global warming have started to call for the arrest and punishment of those they label as climate-change liars.

It is indeed a credit to the American people that many aren’t stupid enough to buy into the manmade climate change crisis narrative being advanced by the Obama administration and other legislators at the state and national level.  It is telling that those who do believe in manmade global warming, including Al Gore, refuse to debate experts who disagree with them, preferring instead to label and further sensor those who challenge them as global skeptics “skeptic.”

Should the enactment of agenda-based political policies mandating the use of renewable energy while curtailing the use of fossil fuels continue to be legislated at the federal and state level, the end results will be higher costs for energy and for all goods we purchase and periods of blackout when existing energy supply cannot meet demand.  To most Americans the continued obsession over the effects of manmade global warming when in reality man has little if any ability to control the climate, should be a no brainer.

It you are not yet convinced that climate change (global warming) is mostly natural and not man-made, here are 100 reasons released by the European Foundation that should convince all but the most ardent Climate Change believer that man cannot control the climate.  Consider that man-made carbon dioxide emissions throughout human history constitute less than 0.00022 percent of the total naturally emitted from the mantle of the earth during geological history.

Through the process of elections, American citizens can replace administrations and legislators who advocate for faulty and unrealistic measures that breed economic disaster.  But what about our children, who, through no choice of their own, are being schooled in a global warming doctrine that is linked to a political agenda that is all about power and control.  Bravo to the state of West Virginia, but it is unrealistic to believe that Illinois will respond willingly in a similar way. West Virginia has altered its standards for teaching science to introduce doubts about what is incorrectly being described as the “scientific” consensus on climate change that is occurring and greatly influenced by human activity.

Parents must know what their children are learning and reteach faulty information if necessary.  Attend school board meetings to confront your school administration about Common Core Curriculum guidelines for Science, Math, Language Arts, and History.  By all means contact your state legislator to advice that Global Warming (also known as Climate Change) is at best a hypothesis which would only further exacerbate the dismal economic conditions that now exists in Illinois if followed through. The bill Scott Drury is proposing for Illinois must be stopped.  It is bad for Illinois and must not become law.

Read Part 1 here.

[First published at Illinois Review.]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: How Republicans Can Cut Through the Obamacare Chaos

April 17, 2015, 3:45 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 everyFridaywith a highlight show.

Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Why Environmentalists Will Eventually Hate Renewable Power
Donny Kendal, Human Events
“The proliferation of renewable energy will never please environmentalists. In fact, the more efficient and inexpensive energies like solar and wind become, the more environmentalists will fear and eventually hate them.” READ MORE Heartland Event: Charles C.W. Cooke – ‘The Conservatarian Manifesto’
Nancy Thorner, for Somewhat Reasonable
Charles C.W. Cooke’s new book The Conservatarian Manifesto is a call to arms for the growing movement of “conservatarians”— members of the right who are fiscally conservative but socially liberal — and a fascinating look at conservatism’s past and future. If you missed this great Heartland event at the Union League Club, read about it (and watch the video) at the blog.  READ MORE How Republicans Can Cut Through the Obamacare Chaos After Kingv. Burwell
Peter Ferrara, American Thinker
“Republicans and conservatives who can’t or won’t vigorously and articulately argue the case for reforming Obamacare should be replaced with new leadership. We must also present and argue for the full Patient Power, free-market health care vision that will replace Obamacare once the currently serving Great Mistake in the White House is replaced with new leadership next year as well.” READ MORE Featured podcast: Nate Benefield – Limiting State Spending
Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Budget & Tax News, is joined by Commonwealth Foundation Vice President of Policy Analysis Nate Benefield. Hathaway and Benefield discuss a new bill being proposed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Taxpayer Protection Act, which would restrict the growth of the state’s spending by keeping spending increases in line with population increases and the rate of inflation. LISTEN TO MORE

Heartland Is Hiring!
Do you believe in smaller government and more individual liberty? Do you believe free markets solve social and economic problems better than government planning? The Heartland Institute might have just the job for you! We’re looking for eager self-starters to manage several important projects that will have a real impact on policy in this country. READ MORE

Heartland’s James M. Taylor Wins Debate Against Floridians for Solar Choice
Jim Lakely, Somewhat Reasonable
“There was no vote or show of hands at the end of the presentations. No accounting of which presenter swayed more of the congregation. My subjective reaction was that the applause for Taylor was enthusiastic, for Perfetti polite. At the end, Perfetti did not ask for an endorsement of his amendment. And no one offered, though several people told me afterward that they liked the idea. More said they didn’t.”   READ MORE Heartland Experts React to New Net Neutrality Regulations
“The FCC did not impose strict net neutrality rules to solve a problem for consumers, who wield power in the market to correct any ‘harm’ to their digital wants and needs. FCC imposed net neutrality to gain control over the digital economy – and force the big players in the industry to put the whims of government bureaucrats ahead of the needs of their customers.” READ MORE Happy Tax Day! Heartland’s Experts ‘Celebrate’
“Surely the Framers who envisioned a limited national government with strictly enumerated powers that could levy taxes solely on a per capita basis would recognize neither the income tax system of today nor the out-of-control government that it has spawned.” READ MORE Bonus podcast: Ben Boychuk – Common Core, Parent Trigger Laws and School Choice
Heather Kays welcomes to the podcast Ben Boychuk, the new the project manager for education issues at The Heartland Institute, to discuss the latest news about Common Core, the parent trigger, and other school reform efforts nationwide. LISTEN TO MORE EPA Tells Kids to Avoid Baths and Asks them to Check Toilets for Leaks
Justin Haskins, Breitbart
“When kids aren’t busy timing their showers to ensure they remain as unclean as possible and training to be future plumbers, they can ‘test’ their ‘water sense’ by playing EPA’s Pac-Man-inspired online game starring the ‘water-efficiency hero,’ Flo. The goal of the game is to move Flo, a cartoon water drop, ‘through water pipes and answer water-efficiency questions while avoiding water-wasting monsters.’ There’s nothing kids hate more than those darn water-wasting monsters.” READ MORE Ohio Teachers Strongly Dislike Common Core Tests
Joy Pullmann, School Choice Weekly
The results of a survey of thousands of Ohio public school teachers vindicate years of warnings from Common Core opponents that the tests will be a train wreck – both because they demand technology far beyond what most schools can support and because Common Core itself is nebulous and unlikely to produce clear test questions.  READ MORE Invest in the Future of Freedom!
Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make.

Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jonathan Williams: Rich States, Poor States

April 17, 2015, 3:42 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Budget & Tax News Jesse Hathaway speaks with Jonathan Williams. Williams is the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Director. Williams and Hathaway discuss the newest findings in this year’s edition of Rich States, Poor States, authored by economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, and Jonathan Williams, Vice President of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Center for State Fiscal Reform.

The Rich States, Poor States report, published every year by ALEC, ranks the overall economic outlook for every state in the nation using 15 policy variables. Williams explains why the economic outlook for states like Illinois and Wisconsin improved significantly, but the outlook for states like Michigan and Delaware has dimmed considerably.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Left’s Hidden Plan to End Free Speech and Two Ways to Stop It

April 17, 2015, 12:24 PM

The modern American left will someday be remembered as one of history’s truly “odd ducks.” Unlike many of the redistributionist movements of the past, American leftism has managed to melt diametrically opposed concepts, such as “individual liberty” and “government-mandated equality,” into a singular, conflicting political platform.

On the one hand, the leftist says every American needs to respect the rights of homosexual couples. Christians and others shouldn’t impose their own moral and philosophical framework on the rest of society, they say. Liberty should be respected.

On the other hand, the same leftist would tell the Christian owners of a business, as was the case with Hobby Lobby, they must financially support their employees’ abortions even though it clearly violates the owners’ religious beliefs.

The entire leftist movement has been built on this very shaky foundation. It’s not as though American liberalism holds fast to a set of concrete principles—they clearly don’t. The whole enterprise is dependent on convincing as many groups as possible that the rest of the world has it out for them and that salvation rests in faith in the left’s quasi-socialistic experiment.

In other words, the ends always justify the means for the leftist movement, principles be damned.

It’s within this framework that liberals have been making a concerted effort to destroy their enemies—those who support liberty and individual choice. This is conducted in a variety of ways, but one of the most essential tactics has been to create the false narrative that those who support liberty do so only because they are interested in making the rich richer and keeping the poor poorer. The actual policy arguments made by pro-liberty politicians, think tanks, associations, and individuals are all really just tricks designed to help an often faceless old, rich, white man who is pulling the strings behind a cigar-smoke-filled curtain.

The only solution to this problem, the left argues, is for there to be “more transparency.” If big, evil corporations are really the ones controlling the country, the only way to stop these greedy individuals is to force them out from behind the shadows, exposing the “dark money” they give to countless think tanks, political associations, and pro-liberty movements.

This very strategy was recently used by leftist groups like Greenpeace and their media allies, notably The New York Times, to smear Dr. Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who is skeptical of the theory of manmade global warming. The Times accused Soon, who not-so-coincidently co-authored a highly influential peer-reviewed paper in Science Bulletin earlier this year undermining various claims made by climate change alarmists, of being biased and deliberately misleading readers by failing to disclose in his published work that some of the funding received by the Smithsonian for his work has come from the oil and natural gas industry.

The Times story resulted in Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) sending letters to numerous climate scientists demanding they too disclose all of their funding sources, as if the merits of an idea ought to be measured based upon the perceived quality of the funding sources.

Leftist causes, of course, are also connected to numerous industries and wealthy backers. Any an unbiased person with access to the Internet could quickly find all sorts of undisclosed connections between mega-rich leftist George Soros and countless liberal causes.

It’s obvious then that the purpose of the left’s attack on people like Soon is not motivated by principles, but is instead another ends-justify-the-means assault on the free speech of those the left disagrees with. For many American liberals, you only have rights if you agree with their causes. If you disagree, you need to be silenced—and quickly.

The organized plan by the left, which was ironically likely formulated in a cigar-smoke-filled room, is to silence critics through intimidation under the guise of transparency. In order to protect against these assaults, legal protections are desperately needed that shield supporters of political movements, on all sides of every political debate, from intimidation and retaliation.

Nick Dranias, constitutional scholar and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, recently published a Policy Study with Heartland that provides several methods for protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights to political speech without being retaliated against. The study, titled “In Defense of Private Civic Engagement: Why the Assault on ‘Dark Money’ Threatens Free Speech–and How to Stop the Assault,” suggests the passage of two important pieces of legislation that would stop the left’s plan to undermine pro-liberty causes by attacking individuals rather than the ideas themselves.

The first of Dranias’s proposals, dubbed the “Free Speech Privacy Act,” would act as a “federalism shield” for free speech, “prohibiting the enforcement [by the states] of any law directly or indirectly conditioning the exercise of the rights of free speech and association on the disclosure of the identity of a person or entity who fears a reasonable probability of social, political, or economic retaliation from such disclosure.”

The second proposed reform, named the “Publius Confidentiality Act,” would allow any individual to register a confidential identifier for use in political activities. This would make it even more difficult for groups to retaliate using personal attacks against people they disagree with. It was inspired by identity shield laws that protect victims of domestic violence.

These reforms would ensure people could freely donate funds or engage in political activities without fear of being “exposed” for simply exercising their guaranteed freedoms, a principle that was an essential part of the United States’ founding.

Such measures would force all people across the political spectrum to battle with the ideas of others rather than resort to the petty, ugly intimidation tactics that have become commonplace in modern America.

[Originally published on Human Events]

Categories: On the Blog

Americans Have a ‘Right’ To Receive Health Care, Humana CEO Claims

April 17, 2015, 7:55 AM

The CEO of one of America’s largest health insurance companies, Humana, this week told shareholders that it is the company’s position that every American inherently has “a right” to receive health care.

Bruce D. Broussard, the chief executive officer of the Louisville, Ky.-based health insurer, with $41.3 billion in revenues and status as a major federal Medicare and state Medicaid contractor, made the civil rights remarks in response to a question from a shareholder at the company’s annual meeting this week in Atlanta. “I think at Humana, we have one fundamental belief and that is that individuals have a right to receive health care. And we as an organization are supporting that in multiple ways,” said Broussard. “I think that if you look at where we have our businesses, Medicare Advantage and Part B, are two great examples of that.”

Observers have noted that many major health insurance companies supported the enactment of the controversial Obamacare law as their executives believed that under the statute the health insurance industry would become a government-created monopoly, and regulated like a public utility. Rather than serving consumers in the free market, these CEOs want the government to guarantee them income through corporate welfare.

But it isn’t working out quite that way, and the Supreme Court is poised to strike down the convoluted law this summer.

Not Constitutional

Justin Danhof, an attorney and the director at the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Public Policy Research’s free enterprise project, commented that Humana’s position is not supported by America’s founding law, Congressional statute or any legal precedent.

“Broussard’s statement that health care is a ‘right’ is an odd one,” said Danhof. “It certainly isn’t provided for in the Constitution. And millions of Americans make rational decisions to either self-insure, or refuse to purchase health insurance.”

Danhof also noted that Humana’s position does not really make sense, financially, right now, for the publicly-traded firm which trades on the New York Stock Exchange for $177.68 per share under the ticker symbol, HUM. “If health care is a right, is he saying his company must pay for every procedure from every person who wants coverage from cradle-to-grave?” Danhof wondered, after the shareholders meeting.

Humana recently filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court supporting Obamacare in the case of King v. Burwell, which is currently with the justices for a decision, expected this summer.

President Roosevelt proposed making health care a civil right during the Great Depression in the 1930s, but the progressive plan never was enacted into law.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Dave Quast: California’s Drought-Stricken Water Supply

April 16, 2015, 4:44 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Research Fellow Isaac Orr talks with Dave Quast. Quast is the California Director of Energy In Depth. Quast and Orr discuss the a range of issues pertaining to California’s water supply.

It seems like everyone is talking about the drought in California. Environmental groups have been quick to blame hydraulic fracturing for California’s water woes. Last year, fracking used 70 million gallons of water, but this amount is miniscule when compared to the amount of water used for residential and agricultural purposes.

In this podcast, Quast and Orr talk about California’s water supply, including the impact of hydraulic fracturing, agriculture, diverting rivers for wildlife habitat restoration, and watering lawns in the desert have on the state’s water resources.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Gwyneth Paltrow Speaks Out About Food Stamps

April 16, 2015, 4:42 PM

On the morning of April 9, celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow sent out a tweet that has people up in arms (again). The same woman who gave fame to the term “conscious uncoupling,” is now speaking out about the SNAP program.

In her tweet, Paltrow states, “This is what $29 gets you at the grocery store—what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week.”

So we have a head of lettuce, a dozen eggs, dry black beans, brown rice, frozen green peas, corn tortillas, an ear of corn, kale, a large clove of garlic, a tomato, seven (yes, seven) limes, a bunch of cilantro, a hot pepper, green onions, a yellow onion, an avocado, a sweet potato. I would like to imagine Gwyneth is making tacos tonight. While delicious, her grocery purchases are not a good representation of food to last and entire week.

SNAP or Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is one of many food assistance programs run by the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service, which also happens to be one of the many agencies that provide food assistance. As the name suggests, the $74 billion taxpayer-funded SNAP program provided to low-income Americans is meant to supplement their food budgets. The program isn’t meant for recipients to live off of.

According to the USDA’s SNAP website, the maximum monthly allotment in supplemental assistance for a single person is $191 or $45 a day (not $29, according to Gwyneth). For a family of four the maximum monthly allotment is $649.

Even if you did have $29 a week to live on, would you be making tacos for the entire week? Americans on supplemental assistance that are struggling to provide for their families aren’t buying seven limes, cloves of garlic and fresh herbs. They are buying products that will fill them up- like frozen and canned foods, ground beef, bread, bananas, milk, and cereal. They are also buying those products in bulk.

Instead of Paltrow misidentifying how to actually stretch a food budget, this country needs spokespeople who can address obstacles of overcoming government dependency.

The same woman who told Conan O’Brien “I would rather die than let my child eat Cup-a-Soup,” is probably not the appropriate spokesperson.

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate Change War Heats Up

April 16, 2015, 3:57 PM

There is so much at stake for the charlatans that have foisted the failed “global warming” hoax, followed by the equally dubious claims and predictions regarding “climate change”, that it should come as no surprise that they have begun to wage a propaganda war on the courageous scientists who led the struggle to educate the public about the truth and the organizations who supported their efforts.

Along the way, many groups and publications claiming scientific credentials abandoned those standards to pump out global warming and climate change propaganda. Scientists discovered they could secure grant money for “research” so long as it supported claims that the North and South Poles, as well as all the world’s glaciers were melting. “Research” that predicted vast hurricane activity or a massive rise in ocean levels became routine headlines. None of it occurred. Both the government and liberal foundations provided millions to maintain the hoax.

Now we have a President claiming that his daughter’s asthma was due to “climate change.”  It is obscene nonsense. If this was just a disagreement between scientists, we could look on as the facts determine the outcome, but there are vast agendas as stake so we have to keep in mind that billions have been wasted on “renewable energy” alternatives to replace fossil fuels; the oil, coal, and natural gas that are the heart’s blood of modern nations and our lives.

We have to ask why the United Nations Framework on Climate Change takes such a dim view of the world’s population that it cites its use of energy and other resources as a reason to reduce it instead of celebrating it. Hard-core environmentalists do not like humans because they build houses, start businesses, need roads, and generally consume a lot and then create trash. Climate change is also the platform the U.N. is using to “transform” the world’s economy.

We have to ask why our government is engaged in shutting down the coal-fired plants that provide the bulk of the electricity we use. This isn’t just a war on coal. It is a war on our entire economic system, capitalism. It is a war on Americans by their own government.

Lately, politicians at the federal level have declared war on those scientists whose research and findings have helped the public conclude, along with eighteen years of a natural cooling cycle, that “global warming” is no threat and that we have far greater threats to address than the vague notion that “climate change” is a problem we humans can affect in any way. We can’t and we don’t.

A recent example has been letters sent to seven university presidents by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee asking for information on scientists and professors who had given congressional testimony that raised questions about “climate change.”  Grijalva had no legal authority to request such information, but his intention was intimidation. In 2013, when asked about his legislative agenda by These Times, he replied “I’m a Saul Alinsky guy” referring to the activist whose book, “Rules for Radicals”, spells out ways to attack one’s political enemies.

Pete Peterson, the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy, identified Grijalva’s letters as “scare tactics” concluding that we have come to a time when “The inability of politicians to confront another’s argument much less to attempt to persuade the other side, has become standard operating procedure. Now this toxic approach is extending to the broader world of policy—including scientific research.”

Around the same time, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Sen. Ed Markey sent a letter to a hundred companies, grade groups and other organizations “affiliated with the fossil fuel industry asking whether they spent money to support climate research.”  The message was simple: do not sponsor research that would reveal inaccuracies or falsehoods regarding claims that “climate change” was a threat. The inference was that scientific research receiving such funding would betray scientific standards in ways that government or foundation funding would not.

Suffice to say the letters evoked outrage. As a policy advisor to the free market think tank, The Heartland Institute, I was aware of the response of its president, Joe Bast who called the letters something that “fascists do.” He was not alone. The Washington Times called the Senators “climate change Toquemadas” and The Wall Street Journal said the letters were nothing more than an effort to silence science.

When Sen. Whitehouse aired his unhappiness in an April 14 blog post the Huffington Post, “Right-Wing Groups Get Overheated on Climate Questions”, Bast responded asking, “If the Senator’s letter wasn’t intended as harassment of individuals who disagree with his extremist views on the climate, why the overly broad demand, the ridiculous deadline, the implied threat of action, and the news release saying it was intended to expose a diabolical conspiracy of ‘right-win groups’?”

When “climate change” reaches the political heights of Congress and the White House, it should come as no surprise that the charlatans who want to use this hoax for their own benefit and agendas are going to unleash efforts to smear and intimidate those scientists who have put true facts before the public.

In late March, Michael Bastash of The Daily Caller reported that “A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ concern about warming has fallen to the same level it was in 1989. In fact, global warming ranked at the bottom of a list of Americans’ environmental concerns, with only 32 percent saying they were worried about it a ‘great deal.’”

That’s what has the politicians and U.N. officers on the offensive to silence scientists and defame think tanks and other organizations that have helped Americans come to the sensible conclusion that a “warming” isn’t happening and the planet’s climate is something over which they have no control.

Categories: On the Blog

Progressives Attack Free Speech, Scientific Inquiry at Leading U.S. Museums

April 16, 2015, 2:09 PM

Progressive activists are mounting an aggressive assault on the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and its American Museum of Natural History, two of the most prestigious academic research centers and museums in the world, potentially threatening independent scientific inquiry and free speech there.

The Smithsonian museum is home to about 185 scientists, the largest faculty of research talent of its kind on the planet, and it has more than 126 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, and meteor fragments in its scientific collections. Located on the Mall, in Washington D.C., and with a history dating back to 1910, the museum educated 8 million visitors in 2013. The American museum is located up the coast in New York City on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, near Central Park. It houses 32 million specimens of plants, humans, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites and cultural artifacts from throughout human history. More than 5 million visitors come there yearly.

The progressives are outraged that the New York museum has accepted funding from David Koch, and are trying to get the “oil mogul” removed from the board of directors there and at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

“Oil mogul David Koch sits on the board of our nation’s largest and most respected natural history museums, while he bankrolls groups that deny climate science,” writes an activist who identifies herself as Beka Economopoulos, a MoveOn.Org member in New York City, in an e-mail, sent on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 5:25 p.m. from the MoveOn.org servers. “Sign this petition to the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History: It’s time to get science deniers out of science museums. Kick Koch off the board.”

The e-mail includes links to “add your name to this petition” and “pass it along to your friends.” This kind of progressive assault on free speech – donating money to a museum and sitting on its board of directors is a right protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution – is increasingly common by the Left. The money donated to the museum helps fund the exhibits and helps keep the staff there gainfully employed in scientific inquiry.

Koch donated $35 million to help build a new dinosaur hall at the American museum, according to a report in The Washington Post.

A forthcoming report by The Heartland Institute by Constitutional scholar Nick Dranias addresses the underlying intolerance of the Left for contrary opinions.

“Being able to speak freely and give money anonymously has a long and distinguished history in the U.S. The Declaration of Independence, the campaigns for approval of the U.S. Constitution and the end of slavery, and the modern civil rights movement all relied for their success on the right to keep private the identities of persons expressing their opinions or financing unpopular causes,” writes Dranias in the Heartland policy study, In Defense of Private Civic Engagement: Why the Assault on ‘Dark Money’ Threatens Free Speech – and How to Stop the Assault. “Today, that right is under attack by groups on the Left using Alinskyite tactics and campaign finance laws to silence and intimidate anyone who disagrees with them. The right to participate anonymously in debates over matters of public policy is more important than ever.”

According to The Washington Post, Koch, who has a $25 billion fortune, has given “broadly to political, health and arts” organizations for years. He’s donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Ballet Theater and Lincoln Center in addition to the Smithsonian.

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton, who is running for President of the U.S., recently left the Clinton Foundation, which also accepted monies from oil interests, just like the Smithsonian. According to public records, ExxonMobil, Anadarko Petroleum, and the Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada agency collectively donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, news reports indicate. Mrs. Clinton has been a public supporter of fracking, an oil exploration methodology opposed by climate alarmists, and has not yet been asked to explain her oil industry ties by MoveOn.org.

Academics, led by William Happer, chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, issued an open letter to non-profits and museums today urging them to reject the claims of radical environmentalists increasingly being made against the oil industry, its leaders, and fossil fuels, false arguments which they said were “profoundly anti-human and immoral.”

 

Categories: On the Blog

‘Soda Tax’ Plan Fizzling Out in Vermont

April 16, 2015, 8:11 AM

A plan to impose a “soda tax” on retail customers proposed as part of a healthcare reform financing package in Vermont has apparently been scrapped by legislators, much to the chagrin of the state’s progressive Governor Peter Shumlin (D).

Lawmakers there worry about the economic impact of a soda tax, particularly on merchants in towns located on the state’s border with New Hampshire. Many retailers there make a large percentage of their annual sales to out-of-state residents, whose purchasing power would be curtailed by the soda tax.

House Speaker Shap Smith (D) said the state needs to revamp how physicians there are reimbursed by Medicaid, and that increasing reimbursement fees the state pays doctors would be one way to persuade more primary care doctors to take Medicaid patients.

Most of the planned $20 million “health reform” bill’s costs were to be paid by the soda tax, which would have imposed a half cent per ounce tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages. The soda tax was projected to raise $18 million per year for Vermont, according to local news reports.

The State House Committee on Appropriations continues debate on the faltering healthcare reform proposal this week.

An earlier plan for “single payer” health care reform in Vermont also failed.

Categories: On the Blog

China “Gets Things Done,” They’re Just Bad for the Environment

April 15, 2015, 11:10 PM

Many environmentalists have no sense of history. They often bemoan the fact that in the U.S. and other Western democracies leaders have to get the public’s buy in for most major policies. Leaders, if they wish to stay in office, usually just can’t impose  any policies they (or enviro wack-jobs) wish, but rather have to convince a significant portion of the public or at least their representatives, that the policies will accomplish some worthwhile, desirable end.

Many environmentalists have displayed totalitarian envy, praising dictators in communist or other totalitarian countries because they “can get things done quickly,” without the give and take of vote trading, public hearings, rule proposals and adjustments, etc…

What they ignore in this foolish tendency to the totalitarian impulse is that tyrants often don’t take environmentalists wishes into account any more than anyone elses. When the Berlin wall fell, we found (as many economist predicted) that the worst environmental conditions in the world were found behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern European countries. Air and water quality, and toxic releases were far worse there than in the dirtiest U.S. city — as they still are in China.

Now, I love the outdoors and hate pollution or anything else that mars wild places or disrupts wildlife habitats — which, more than the cost, is why I really dislike wind and solar farms. Still, it was a small amount of guilty glee mixed in with my dismay that I read that China is paving over coral reefs South China Sea.

According to Blacklisted News,  the U.S. Navy is reporting Beijing is undertaking an “unprecedented land reclamation, … creating a great wall of sand” over four square kilometers, in the disputed area in the South China Sea.

Speaking at a naval conference in Australia, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris Jr. said China has been “pumping sand on to live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving over them with concrete. China has now created over 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of artificial landmass.”

Submerged reefs in the Spratlys archipelago have been turned into artificial islands with buildings, wharves and runways.

While China claims a vast majority of the South China sea, it still has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia. Earlier this month Vietnam and the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest with Beijing.

Now, that’s getting things done.

In another move sure to tweek environmentalists noses, China has also decided to cut coal-fired power prices. Bloomberg business reports, China intends to cut prices for electricity generated by coal-fired plants in an attempt to lower companies’ operating costs and aid a struggling economy.

This move would seem to undermine the country’s commitment to cap carbon-dioxide emissions and to rein in coal use to improve the nation’s air quality.

In one party states, absent political give and take and real public input, the environment continues to get short shrift when the economy is in trouble.

Imagine what would happen if President Obama decided to pave over a few coral reefs for a naval base. It would never fly. But, thank goodness, in China the government can get things done.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Elementary Students Indoctrinated About Global Warming Via Common Core (Part 1)

April 15, 2015, 3:55 PM

What is happening in a 4th grade class at Cherokee Elementary School in Lake Forest School District 67 in far northern Illinois is not unlike what is happening in classrooms around this state and nation. Students at Cherokee Elementary School have been learning about renewable sources of energy. In the process they are being encourage to become young political activists through interaction with their Lake Forest City government and their local Democrat state representative, Scott Drury of the 58th State House district.

The article heretofore referenced, “Cherokee students, state experts talk renewable energy,” was written by Steve Sadin of the Pioneer Press, a Chicago Tribune Publication, where it appeared in print on Thursday, April 9, 2015.

Children are extremely gullible. They will accept whatever their teachers convey to them. Consider the polar bear ruse. Most likely these 4th graders fell prey to the polar bear ruse in an earlier grade when global warming was first introduced. Images of periled polar bears (bears can swim!) sinking into arctic seas because of melting polar ice caps have become an iconic symbol of the devastating consequences of so-called global warming.  However, a new government investigation into the supposed science surrounding this now-infamous urban legend has revealed that it was likely nothing more than a pseudoscientific hoax propagated by faulty math and perfunctory observations.

What if the Obama administration and politicians in Washington D.C., as well as those in our state capitol, are using fear of global warming to justify higher taxes, new regulations, and huge subsidies to insiders and major donors to their political campaigns.  It is estimated that on the whole global warming legislation would result in raising energy costs for a typical family by $3,900 every year and increase the risk of dangerous power outages. Even the Obama administration admits how reductions in energy use caused by its policies would have no effect on the global climate.  Why, because any reduction in carbon dioxide emission by the U.S. would be more than offset by increases in emissions from China, India, and other countries.

Do parents know what their children are being taught in their classrooms?  The Common Core Science curriculum teaches that global warming is manmade and that the science behind global warming is settled. The “Essential Principles of Climate Science”, composed of seven guidelines, has as its guiding principle that humans can take actions to reduce climate change and its impacts. As to Common Core standards, a framework is set forth for K-12 Science Education which includes suggested guidelines for what children should know by the end of 5th, 8th and 12 grades. For example, by the end of 8th grade students are expected to accept that human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature as reflected in global warming.

When 4th graders at the Cherokee Elementary School, through research, settled on wind and solar power as the best power methods for the City of Lake Forest, having rejected hydroelectric power, were they ever encouraged to research the drawbacks inherent in wind and solar power before they went vocal with their conclusions?  Not likely, as the purpose of their research was to ascertain that renewable energy sources are good for the environment, while fossil fuels are bad and cause global warming.

Instead, the 4th graders accepted hook, line and sinker that fossil fuels cause global warming, which was then reinforced by a visit from their Illinois state representative Steve Drury and others classroom guests, with agendas that advance global warming alarmism.

Some of the major disadvantages of wind energy are that no electricity is produced if there is no wind, it is expensive to install, big acreages of land have to be used, and the turbines kill birdsRegarding solar power, as solar systems rely on the steady absorption of sunlight, Illinois has a solar power disadvantage given its many cloudy and sunless days. Then too solar panels gradually become damaged by ultraviolet radiation. Rain, snow, dirt, temperature fluctuations, hail and wind also pose serious hazards.  Solar panels are also costly to install and they do emit environmental pollutants.

In keeping with the expressed goal of the Cherokee students, how to turn their ideas into law, IL Representative Scott Drury informed the eager and attentive children of a bill he is proposing that would require 35% of Illinois’s power to come from renewable sources by 2030 and to further reduce the amount of energy used 20% by 2025.

Does Representative Scott Drury really understand the implications of his bill on the people of Illinois?  To which these questions might be posed to Drury: “Are we going to cover all of Illinois with windmills?”  And what about solar panels, Representative Drury?  How effective are they here in northern Illinois?  It is evident that 4th grade students at Cherokee Elementary School have been well trained to accept global warming as real. For when Drury asked the students their opinions on renewable energy vs. the effects of global warming and the problems caused by fossil fuel, most hands went up in support of the environmental platform.

The sun and the wind might be free, but converting them to reliable electricity is expensive, if not impossible to do.  Even when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, we still expect electricity for all our needs, meaning that backup power on demand is required.  In Illinois coal presently supplies 40% of its power, yet a coal power plant in Waukegan, IL (about 10 miles north of Lake Forest) was used as an example by a Sierra Club representative to convey to Cherokee students how smoke from burning coal, a fossil fuel, produces mercury which goes into the water and the air and can cause asthma.  The same representative informed the class of 4th graders that coal burning caused global warming and that the use of renewable energy would arrest the trend.

Already the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) absurd restrictions on limiting CO2 emissions have forced the closure of many coal-fired plants that are needed to provide low cost electricity.  Does it really make sense for the EPA to impose draconian measures here in this nation, while leaders of the European Union are moving away from green policies that have resulted in driving up the cost of electricity across Europe?

Following are some basic facts about Global Warming that are in direct contrast to the spoon-fed pabulum that is being force-fed as undisputed fact through the mainstream media and our government-sanctioned educational system.

  • There is no scientific consensus on the human role in climate change.
  • Future warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions will be much less than the United Nations forecasts.
  • Carbon dioxide has not caused weather to become more extreme, polar ice and sea ice to melt, or sea level rise to accelerate.
  • Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is extremely expensive and won’t affect the weather.
  • Public policies should aim at fostering economic growth to adapt to natural climate change.

In other words:

  • Scientists don’t know how much of the global warming (or “climate change” as it is often called now) of the twentieth century was man-made and how much is natural?
  • Scientists don’t know whether temperatures in the future will be higher than they are now, or lower.
  • The benefits of warmer temperatures and more carbon dioxide in the air will be greater than the costs they create for at least the next 100 years or longer.

Part 2 will present information from reliable and knowledgeable scientists and organizations to challenge those who insist that the scientific debate over global warming is over and that 97% of scientists agree human activity is causing a climate crisis that demands we move on to government directed solutions to the crisis.

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Edward Timmons: Occupational Licensing Laws

April 15, 2015, 12:17 PM

In this episode of the Budget & Tax News podcast, managing editor Jesse Hathaway talks with Saint Francis University associate professor of economics Edward Timmons about the stated goals and real-world effects of occupational licensing laws. States such as Colorado and Oregon are proposing making it more difficult for people to be employed doing things they enjoy doing, like yoga instruction or music therapy.

As Timmons explains, empirical evidence collected over the years suggests that consumers do not benefit from more stringent licensing requirements. Instead, evidence leads him to conclude existing special-interest groups and established players in markets are the primary beneficiaries of forcing new entrants to seek government approval before they are allowed to join these professions.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Obamacare’s Tax Day Surprise

April 15, 2015, 9:53 AM

As many as 6 million people are facing higher taxes today because they decided the insurance offered to them under the Affordable Care Act was not worth the price, even after government subsidies. Another 3.4 million people will pay higher taxes because they failed to accurately predict their income when they obtained their insurance.

And the tax treatment of Obamacare subsidies is so complicated, even the IRS has trouble getting things right. The agency admits that it sent the wrong forms to 800,000 taxpayers.

The first problem arises because Obamacare is trying to force people to buy the wrong kind of insurance — high deductibles without annual or lifetime limits, instead of less costly insurance for the types of services young, healthy families are likely to need.

The second problem arises because the way the subsidy is delivered is inconsistent with the way low- and moderate-income people manage their family budgets. People who are living paycheck-to-paycheck don’t have a couple of thousand dollars to give back to Uncle Sam, because they didn’t accurately predict their income last year. With a universal tax credit, no one would have needed to guess their income – because the subsidy would have been the same, regardless of income.

The third problem arises because the Obamacare law represents a Rube Goldberg set of compromises, designed to meet the needs of special interests rather than the needs of ordinary people.

Categories: On the Blog

Why Environmentalists Will Eventually Hate Renewable Power

April 15, 2015, 8:51 AM

The proliferation of renewable energy will never please environmentalists. In fact, the more efficient and inexpensive energies like solar and wind become, the more environmentalists will fear and eventually hate them.

Currently, arguments against renewable energy are based on the accurate claim they are too inefficient to become widespread. The technology behind solar and wind power are just not where they need to be to justify widespread use.

In October 2014, data revealed the massive Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert fell well short of its anticipated output. During an eight-month period in 2013, the solar plant missed its goal by a whopping 40 percent.

Because of stories like these, many are reluctant to support large government subsidies for renewable energy projects. The lackluster performance of alternative energies have led several states to reconsider legislation requiring a portion of their energy to come from renewable sources. In January, West Virginia made headlines when the state ended its mandate in full.

The inability of alternative energies to compete with fossil fuels does not deter environmentalists. They see renewables as a solution to the problem of rising CO2 in the atmosphere and the climate change they say inevitably results from it. Their goal is to save Earth from climate disruption.

But what happens when renewable technology does become efficient enough to replace fossil fuels? What if another energy technology is developed that supplies us with abundant and pollution-free energy? The resulting scenario is one environmentalists fear the most: Civilization growth unconstrained by the threat of climate disruption.

This fear was exposed in 1989, when two scientists announced they produced excess energy through the process of cold fusion. This revelation, which turned out to be false, would have the potential to produce inexpensive and inexhaustible energy. People believed we were on the verge of creating free energy. This concept caused many environmentalists to show their true colors.

While people rejoiced at the prospect of free energy, author and activist Jeremy Rifkin was quoted by the Los Angeles Times saying, “It’s the worst thing that could happen to our planet.” Rifkin envisioned a world filled with waste—a world where people were free to use up Earth’s resources.

Biologist Paul Ehrlich said, “[It’s] like giving a machine gun to an idiot child.”

These environmentalists and many others reacted this way because the real threat, in their eyes, is human development and growth.

In the same article referred to above, environmentalists voiced concerns that abundant energy would open the door to an increase in population growth, the result being a “crowded earth.” This fear is still held today by environmentalists like Bill McKibben.

McKibben, considered to be “America’s most important environmentalist” by the Boston Globe, became a big name in the global warming debate in 1989 with the publishing of End of Nature. Since then, McKibben has written several more books about mankind’s impact on the environment, such as Maybe One: A Personal and Environmental Argument for Single Child Families.

In Maybe One, McKibben makes the case for potentially painfulpopulation control. Population control is necessary in the minds of many environmentalists like McKibben because large populations inevitably lead to more homes, office buildings, cars, shopping centers, and trash. This is why McKibben wrote in his two books Deep Economy (2007) and Eaarth(2010) that he did not want to see an increase in development but rather a “controlled decline.”

Environmentalists do not see fossil fuels and CO2 as a threat to mankind; they see mankind as a threat to the environment. Advocating for renewable energy is just an excuse to implement a constriction of fossil-fuel use and development across the world. If the time comes where renewable, clean, and abundant energies become a reality, environmentalists will surely withdraw their support in the name of protecting the planet.

[Originally published at Human Events]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Texas Regulators Restrict Practice of ‘Telemedicine’

April 15, 2015, 8:44 AM

Regulators in Austin last week moved to curb the practice of telemedicine throughout the state of Texas. While medical boards across the U.S. are loosening rules governing the practice of medicine over the Internet, and over the phone, The Texas Medical Board is, instead, shielding local physicians from outside competition. Or as the Texas Medical Association said, the policy goal here is to “protect patients and ensure telemedicine complements the efforts of local healthcare providers.”

The new, restrictive rules go into effect in June 2015. Healthcare analysts indicate that telemedicine has been practiced in Texas for more than a decade already, so this new rule will actually limit consumers’ choices there. The state, what is more, has reported shortages of physicians in many rural areas. This causes locals to have to forgo some medical treatments, or drive long distances to visit a physician in another town.

A leading medical trade group in the state endorses the regulatory move.

“The Texas Medical Association applauds the Texas Medical Board for adopting rules to clarify and strengthen the standard of care for physicians using telemedicine to care for patients,” Dr. Austin King, president of the Texas Medical Association (TMA), said in a statement. “TMA appreciates the board’s clarification that a face-to-face visit is required to establish a patient-physician relationship, while expanding the locations where telemedicine services may be used and carving out certain exceptions for mental healthcare services.”

Psychiatrists who provide psychotherapy, or counseling services, over the telephone, or online, are exempt from the rules, but other medical specialists are not.

According to a survey published last summer by the consultancy Deloitte, there were 75 million telemedicine consults by physicians in the U.S. last year. That compares to 300 million in-person encounters with patients by doctors.

Many employers across the U.S. are interested in offering access to telemedicine a benefit to employees for routine medical visits, reducing the overall cost of health care reimbursement, a report by Towers Watson indicated.

Categories: On the Blog

Constitutional Private Property Rights Trump Legislation Written to Appease Donors

April 14, 2015, 4:13 PM

Private property rights are a fundamental component of any successful economy. If you want a nation to prosper – property must be safe in its owners’ hands.

Intellectual Property (IP) shouldn’t be treated any differently than physical property. In fact, in most instances – in many ways – IP is far more important.

The spark of creation that is, for instance, the Microsoft Windows operations program – the Intellectual Property – is exponentially more valuable than each and every one of the millions of physical copies burned to disc for sale in stores.

But IP is bizarrely viewed by many as somehow different – less than. People who would never have stolen a compact disc from Tower Records have no compunction downloading-without-paying that same album.

And as music theft site Napster first broadly demonstrated – continuing technological advances make IP theft ever-easier. Despite what Hillary Clinton recently asserted – Secret Service agents standing guard on a server isn’t an effective way to protect its contents.

And all of this is just individuals stealing individual items. Some companies have industrialized IP theft on a global scale.

The Evidence Google’s Systematic Theft is Anti-Competitive

Systematic theft may be the most anti-competitive and monopolistic practice in which a company can engage. Systematic theft generates an unbeatable cost advantage by avoiding the standard cost of propertied goods for which law-abiding competitors must pay.

It creates an unfair, jump-the-gun, time-to-market advantage, by ignoring the rule of law standard of securing permission from property owners before use in the marketplace, a business practice that law-abiding competitors must respect.

It spawns and maintains a matchless online index/inventory advantage that no honest competitor could hope to assemble.

It anti-competitively undermines property-based business models which compete with Google’s free content model.

Lastly, systematic theft is the ultimate predatory practice in that it unlawfully destroys the value of any innovation or creative advantage a competitor may have….

Top Patterns of Google Theft

  1. Admitted Pattern of Promoting Online Piracy
  2. Anti-Competitive Pattern of Book Theft
  3. Willful Pattern of Promoting YouTube Video Theft
  4. Willful Pattern of Android Property Infringement
  5. Anti-Competitive Pattern of Stealing Competitors’ Signature Patented-Innovations
  6. Extensive Pattern of Content Theft
  7. Extensive Pattern of Trademark Theft
  8. Pattern of Stealing Contact Lists

Our government should absolutely be virulently in the property protection business. That’s certainly what our Founding Fathers had in mind. For instance – in reference to Google Theft Pattern #5 – from a little thing we call the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8):

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

So why are Republicans working with Democrats to undermine this crucial Constitutional protection? On yet another woefully misnamed DC un-“solution” – like the Affordable Care Act, Network Neutrality, the Fairness Doctrine or immigration “reform?”

H.R. 9, The Innovation Act

The bipartisan Innovation Act (H.R. 9)…address(es) the ever increasing problem of abusive patent litigation.

Translation: The government is – in diametric opposition to its Constitutional charter – seeking to undermine the ability of patent holders to protect their property.

These property-protecting litigants are the much-maligned “patent trolls.” Of course:

When You Hear ‘Patent Trolls’ – Think ‘People Protecting Their Private Property’

We know why Democrats are doing it. Partly because they have never really liked private property. And partly because for a LONG time Google has generously greased their skids.

98% of Google Political Contributions Went to Democrats – February 14, 2005

Google: The Halliburton of the Obama Administration – February 21, 2013

But why the Republicans?

WHOA: Even Google Has Gone Republican – October 22, 2010

Google’s Political Action Committee (PAC) donated 55% of its money to Republican candidates between July and October, The Hill reports. (Democrats got the rest.)

This is a big change: In the previous filing on Google’s donations, Democrats got 58% of the money.

Over the course of the last decade, Google has repeatedly upped their Elephant ante – all they way to Donkey parity. And now we have this miraculously bipartisan bill.

And what has the Obama Administration done to assist Google and this anti-patent process? Amongst many other things…:

Michelle Lee Confirmed as New Head of USPTO

She formerly served as deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google before taking on the job of deputy director of the USPTO on an interim basis, a position she took in December 2013. Then, in October 2014, the White House nominated Lee to be the next head of the office.

There’s a hearing today for this anti-patent bill. Ms. Lee is the lead-off, star witness.

I wonder how it will go…?

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

New Documentary Focuses on the World’s Insatiable Thirst for Energy

April 14, 2015, 3:32 PM

Chicago’s Heartland Institute recently hosted Johan Norberg, an analyst and writer from Sweden, to discuss his documentary, “Power to the People.”

The trailer for Johan Norberg’s latest documentary was released last year and the documentary itself will premiere on the WORLD Channel  Monday, April 27.  The effort explores how innovation and new technologies are meeting our world’s growing energy needs.  Hence, the biggest challenge to be faced, given a world that is literally overflowing with energy, is not insufficient energy supply, but how world citizens will safely convert, store and pay for it.

Modern energy sources are something we all need, and more energy sources will be needed in the future. We take for granted that with the flick of a switch there will be power for whatever our needs may require, but we shouldn’t. Power, coupled with the magic of machines — such as the washing machine — made life easier, especially for woman, who then found time to visit the library and to explore other uses of their times, freed as they were from the toil of manual labor.

As illustrated in the documentary trailer, the thirst for energy in developing countries will only grow as economic freedom spreads. People there see how we in the west live and refuse to be left behind.  This, in turn, presents an incredible challenge to man- and woman-kind, for as costs rise and concern for climate change increases, these questions loom large: How are we going to maintain our standard of living?  How do we reduce our impact on the planet?  And how will we get power to ALL the people?

Norberg travels the world to assess energy needs

In his documentary Norberg travels the world, peeling back along the way the layers of the global challenge of how best to meet the thirst for energy.  Often questioned is the conventional wisdom on what works and what doesn’t.  Norberg’s journey starts in the Moroccan bazaars of Marrakech, which functioned fine for eons without modern conveniences, but where electric lights, computers, cell phones and credit card readers are now everywhere.  Even more telling is Norberg’s journey to a remote Berber village in the Sahara Desert.  Few realize that more than half of the world still cooks its food over open flames.  This, however, is rapidly changing, including in the before-mentioned remote Berber village where women now cook on gas stoves.  Some women even have refrigerators.

Those living in Africa without power yearn for a water pump to take showers and to irrigate crops, a refrigerator to store food, electricity for lights, and a phone to keep in contact with the world.  To them electricity is not a modern luxury, for without assess to electrical power life and death often hangs in balance. Because animal dung is still used to cook food, the toxic pollution emitted often causes death.  Once an African village is electrified, not only does the economy improve, but those in the village experience a new-found happiness.  It could be argued that coal plants are bad, but coal isn’t a bad trade off when compared to the deadly pollution of animal dung.

“Power to the People” also examines global efforts to solve our energy dilemma. Even the best of intentions sometimes result in unexpected consequences. For example, Germany’s decision to abolish nuclear power and increase the use of renewable energy has sent retail prices soaring.  Germany’s cost for energy is now among the highest in Europe.  For some citizens its use is now considered a luxury.  Germany’s decision to abolish nuclear power and to increase renewable energy has resulted in an actual increase in the use of lignite coal-burning plants. As such Germany learned the hard way that it takes temporary dependence on energy from fossil fuels to build a new clean energy economy. Imposing tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels to protect the German solar industry has also slowed things down.

What happened in Germany is a lesson that needs to be heeded.  In an effort to pick winners by giving subsidies, Germany found that solutions made from the top-down seldom succeed.  It’s also a crappy way to use taxpayer money.  What is happening in Germany is the opposite of an energy transition.  With the banning of gas and nuclear power, and with the stark reality that the sun doesn’t always shine or the wind blow, Germany must now depend on dirty coal for its energy needs and accept the CO2 that comes with it. So in trying to go green to save the world, Germany had no choice but to revert back to an energy source is had initially deemed undesirable, which, in turn, spiked energy prices.

Norberg explores the energy debate in this country

Here in the U.S., Johan Norberg’s documentary explores the great debate in a country whose energy consumption is now only surpassed by China. He reveals, perhaps surprisingly, how cities like New York consume far less energy per capita than the rest of the country. The controversy over America’s promising new energy source in hydro fracking is also examined, as is the folly of top-down government-imposed solutions. It was G.W. Bush who claimed that this nation was on its way to an ethanol era.  And it was a great time for corn growers!  The continued federal subsidies for corn ethanol have sent food prices soaring, minus the promised renewable energy return.

In 1953 Eisenhower urged that nuclear power be created, only to have many plants shut down prematurely in the 70’s, 80’s and beyond, rather than wait until the market could determine energy needs. [Thorner comments:  Nuclear is the cleanest from of energy.  Once constructed, and with proper maintenance, nuclear plants can last for 100 plus years.  Nuclear power still gives the biggest bang for the buck once the plant is built and is in operation. Nuclear is also safe and reliable. Since the time of Admiral Rickover the Navy has successfully and safely used nuclear power for its ships and submarines. Yucca Mountain is a safe place to store nuclear waste having been thoroughly vetted, but it has become politically unacceptable to those on the Left who wish to curtail the use of nuclear.]

Although daunting, Norberg believes the energy challenge can be met, especially if governments steps back from imposing top-down solutions. Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Hydro, Biomass, Wind, and Solar must all be in the mix, but each source comes with its own problems.

As with most new innovations in technology, the process that led to fracking followed a long series of inventions in the private sector, absent when government tries to make transitions from the top-down, and the very reason why centralization fails.  With more people connected to the Internet, at their fingertips is the sum total of man’s knowledge to be explored and expanded.  In other words, more eyeballs to look at problems will result in solving problems.  In China three billion individuals now have access to the Internet; two billion have the Internet in their pockets.  This thirst for energy is sure to lead to energy solutions, especially here in America where American ingenuity and creativity is still very much alive, in contrast to European tradition where top-down decisions are routine and expected.

Purchasing “Power to the People” in various forms 

As a companion to the documentary “Power to the People”, an eBook by Johan Norberg has been published which reports on the making of the documentary and the challenges of providing power for an energy-hungry planet. The book is also available in a paperback version on AmazonGo here for further details.

Heartland Institute moving to Arlington Heights

Having celebrated its 30th anniversary last year while occupying leased office space on the 27th floor of one of Chicago’s signature high-rise buildings, Joseph Bast, president and CEO of The Heartland Institute,  announced that in June The Heartland Institute will move from Chicago to Arlington Heights (a suburb of Chicago) to a building purchased exclusively to serve as its permanent home and headquarters.

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Diane Katz: Recommendations for Environmental Policy Reform

April 14, 2015, 2:13 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett talks with Diane Katz. Katz is a Research Fellow in Regulatory Policy at the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Diane discusses a report she co-authored the Heritage Foundation’s comprehensive, “Environmental Policy Guide: 167 Recommendations for Environmental Policy Reform.”

Diane argues that the most important environmental policy action that could be taken is for Congress to reign in the regulatory state by taking its responsibility for regulatory oversight, seriously and reinserting itself into regulations at the point of implementation by exercising its constitutionally assigned responsibility for being the sole organization with legislative body. Vote up or down on regulation before they become law. She also encourages the public to apply pressure on legislators — playing their appropriate roll to see that politicians don’t go to far and the Constitution is not violated.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Tax Freedom Requires Adherence to the “Let-Alone” Principle

April 14, 2015, 11:13 AM

April 15th is the day that every American is expected to have filed their federal income tax form. Some of us may have done it long before the deadline, some of us will wait until just before the stroke of midnight on April 15th, and some of us may be filing for extensions to defer the actual submission of the full set of income tax-related documents.

But which ever it may be, it is a day that reminds all of us just how much the government has siphoned off from each of us during the preceding calendar year.

Working One-Third of Your Time for Government

 The Tax Foundation reports that “tax freedom day” actually falls on April 24th this year. This means that, on average, each of us will have worked for 114 days of the 365 days out of the year working not for ourselves but for the government before we get to keep the remainder of the income we will have earned.

Americans will have paid in $3.3 trillion to the federal government and an additional $1.5 trillion to state and local governments in the United States, for total of $4.8 trillion absorbed by all levels of political power. This will represent 31 percent of the country’s national income.

The Tax Foundation points out that is will be more than all of us spend on housing, clothing and food, combined, during the calendar year.

If there is included the additional $580 billion the government is expected to borrow in 2015 to cover its deficit spending, then “tax freedom day” will come on May 8th, because that borrowed sum will be the amount of future taxes to pay for Washington’s current spend-thrift ways.

Since state and local governments do not tax their citizen-subjects all the same, if you are fortunate to live in Louisiana, your “tax freedom day” was on April 2nd. On the other hand, if you reside in California or New York, your tax freedom does not come, respectively, until May 3rd and May 8th, while the most unfortunate Americans are those who live in Connecticut and New Jersey, with their “tax freedom day” only beginning on May 13th.

What If Government Taxed Like When It was Small?

 For a point of comparison, in the year, 1900, Americans only paid about 5.9 percent of their income in taxes. In other words, for Americans at the beginning of the 20th century, “tax freedom day” came on January 22nd. For the remaining 343 days of that year, Americans worked and earned for themselves.

Let’s suppose that government today were only to absorb as much of national income as it did in 1900. That would mean that all levels of government would take about only $230 billion instead of that $4.8 trillion.

Per capita, government would, then, cost the average America around $905 per year, instead of the $15,315 per capita estimated cost in 2015.

What makes the real difference between this imagined budget and the one actually submitted? Of course, the Welfare State! All the departments, bureaus, and agencies added to the federal government since those far more laissez-faire days of over a century ago have been the product of the interventionist and redistributive state.

Less Burdensome Government Needs a Change in Ideas

The tax burdens we bear will not be reduced or eliminated until there is a shift in political philosophy away from political paternalism and once more to a belief in personal freedom and responsibility in the form of individual rights in place of our current far more collectivist premises.

Long before government began to grow dramatically in America, there were people warning about where collectivist ideas might lead, even in that freer United States. For instance, in 1887, Professor J. Laurence Laughlin, who founded the economics department at the University of Chicago, warned:

“Socialism, or the reliance on the state for help, stands in antagonism to self-help, or the activity of the individual. That body of people is certainly the strongest and the happiest in which each person is thinking for himself, is independent, self-respecting, self-confident, self-controlled, and self-mastered. When a man does a thing for himself he values it infinitely more than if it is done for him, and he is a better man for having done it . . .

“If, on the other hand, men constantly hear it said that they are oppressed and down- trodden, deprived of their own, ground down by the rich, and that the state will set all things right for them in time, what other effect can that teaching have on the character and energy of the ignorant than the complete destruction of all self-help? They think that they can have commodities that they have not helped to produce. They begin to believe that two and two make five . . .

“The danger of enervating results flowing from dependence on the state for help should cause us to restrict the interference of legislation as far as is possible, and should be permitted only when there is an absolute necessity, and even then it should be undertaken with hesitation.”

Laughlin added, “The right policy is a matter of supreme importance, and we should not like to see in our country the system of interference as exhibited in the paternal theory of government existing in France and Germany.”

Unfortunately, America did import the theory and policy of political paternalism from the collectivist trends then already growing stronger in Europe. They became the basis and rationale for a far bigger government in the United States beginning in the Progressive Era in the early decades of the twentieth century and accelerating in the New Deal days of the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s. They have continued ever since under both Democrats and Republicans.

The “Let-Alone Principle” is the Premise of Liberty

Today, the idea of “letting things alone” in society without an intrusive hand of government is considered the stand of the dogmatic enemy of progress and “social justice.”

Yet there was a time when getting government out of people’s lives and leaving people alone to manage, plan, design and direct their own lives was considered the essence of the American ideal that should be fostered, valued and fought for.

Indeed, in 1870, the free market economist and noted astronomer, Simon Newcomb, who taught at Johns Hopkins University, penned an article in the North American Review calling for adherence to and respect for “The Let-Alone Principle.” Newcomb said:

“That each individual member of society should be left free to seek his own good in the way he may deem best, and required only not to interfere with the equal rights of his fellow-men . . .

“The real point in dispute between the friends and the opponents of free government and individual liberty is simply this: Is man a being to be taken care of, or is he able when protected in his rights to take care of himself better than any governing power – congress, king, or parliament – can take care of him?

“The advocates of universal freedom claim that, if each individual is protected in the enjoyment of his individual rights as a responsible member of the community, he can take care of himself, and manage his own affairs and his share of the public affairs better than any other one else can do these for him.”

And Newcomb concluded that government “interference is so apt to lead to unforeseen complications – that the best course for a government to follow is, to adhere to the let-alone policy as a matter of principle.”

We cannot expect government to stop growing in either size or scope until people learn to value liberty and mistrust and dislike the intruding hand of political power.

Restoring Principles Over Compromise and Expediency

What, in this context, should friends of freedom do in making the case for liberty? I would suggest that case must be made in clear and uncompromising ways. That is, we need to demonstrate to our fellow citizens that the ideal of liberty is too easily compromised when it is judged on an ad hoc basis in the context of specific proposals for supposed benefits from some government intervention, regulation or restriction.

We don’t say such things as: “Well embezzlement is wrong, except when the person doing it, ‘really’ needed the money.” We take it for granted that stealing from others is just immoral and should be treated that way by the law.

And we don’t say such things as, “Yes, he was caught embezzling, but we can’t just make him stop ‘cold turkey,’ his family has gotten used to living off that stolen sum in terms of their accustomed standard of living.” We presume that if you’re caught stealing, it should be stopped, regardless of how used to an embezzler’s life-style the thief has come to take for granted.

We must extend the same principle and logic to respect the rights and property of every peaceful and honest member of society. As the French classical liberal, Frederic Bastiat emphasized in the 19th century, that which virtually all of us would consider immoral or unjust if committed by a private individual is not elevated to ethical permissibility or rightness when performed by a group of individuals or in the name of “society” as a whole by a government.

As freedom philosopher, Leonard E. Read, stated long ago, you cannot compromise a principle, you can only break it. Until we succeed in this endeavor in gaining the support of a sufficient number of our fellow citizens, governments will regulate and tax with the express purpose of bestowing privileges and favors on some at the coerced expense of others – no different than when a private individual continues to act in such a way until either a change in conscience or a policing force brings his plundering ways to an end.

We should use this annual income tax time to remind others and ourselves how much a burden and cost a political system can be when it exists to violate people’s rights rather than to protect them.

[Originally published at Epic Times]

 

 

Categories: On the Blog