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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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Soviet Union 2.0 – The Environmental Protection Agency

June 25, 2015, 10:58 AM

Former President Richard Nixon is an ancestral RINO – Republican In Name Only. The wobbly GOP wing that insists on delivering us Diet Democrat policies.

So it was in 1970 when President Nixon signed an executive order creating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Get that? A unilateral fiat – how very pre-Barack Obama of him.

Was there a resounding clamor for an EPA? Certainly not from Republicans. And not from Democrats – else Nixon could have (should have) gone to the bi-cameral-Democrat-majority Congress for legislation. (Actually, to expand the federal government’s purview to this massive degree would have – should have – required a Constitutional amendment.)

Who wanted an EPA? The far Left Watermelons – who are green on the outside, red on the in.

 

Red – as in Communist. The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 – which happens to be Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. What a phenomenal coincidence.

Three months after, Nixon signed the order creating the EPA.

The following was said by Soviet Communist Nikita Khrushchev:

An ecologist is a healthy guy in boots who lies behind a knoll and through binoculars watches a squirrel eat nuts. We can manage quite well without these bums.

The Soviets were always just that fond of their Western fellow travelers. Domestic Leftists were the “useful idiots” – helping Communists end capitalism.

The Soviet Union collapsed. The Useful Idiot Movement has not. It has taken over the Democrat Party – and the federal bureaucratic state.

The following was said by anti-Communist former Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus:

I spent most of my life under the communist regime which ignored and brutally violated human freedom, and I remember quite well, wanted to command, not only the people, but also the nature, to command wind and rain is one of the famous slogans I remember since my childhood.

In the past, it was in the name of the Marxist or the proletariat, this time in the name of the planet. Structurally, it is very similar. The current danger as I see it is environmentalism and especially its strongest version, climate alarmism.

Sounds very much like the EPA – especially so in the fourth quarter of the Obama Administration.

EPA Has Begun a Regulations Blitz

Why? Because the President is running out of time – so he is emulating Nixon with a fiat-fest.

White House: Action Needed Now to Slow Climate Change

Actually, no it’s not.

Global Warming? Temperature Up ‘Very Close to Zero’ (Since 1998)

The very nearly impossible has occurred – the global temperature has actually stopped changing.

Has that stopped the climate alarmism? Of course not. Leftists never allow facts to get in the way of a good beating.

EPA Boss: Climate Change Could Kill Thousands

Well that’s a mite vitriolic. Especially when asserted with no facts to back it.

Want facts? If you make energy prohibitively expensive – more and more people can’t afford to keep their respective climate temperatures in check. And it would appear the EPA is fixated on the wrong extreme.

Killer Cold: Winter is Deadlier Than Summer in U.S.

‘It’s Too Darn Cold': Historic Freeze Brings Rare Danger Warning

The EPA’s assaults on the private sector will definitely kill lots of things.

EPA is Dropping a Massive Regulatory Bomb on the Economy

Out-of-Control EPA Is Hurting the Economy

AGs to Congress: EPA Rules Would Hurt Economy, Threaten States’ ‘Sovereignty’

EPA Wants to Implement Unattainable Regulations, Kill American Manufacturing Jobs

Gov’t Report Details How EPA Regs Will Kill Coal

The Latest Industry On EPA’s Emissions Hitlist

How the EPA Plans to Kill Jobs and Reduce Your Income

In the face of Reality, the EPA attempts to strike back with even more of the fact-free patently ridiculous.

EPA Chief McCarthy: Climate Regulations Good for Economy

Obviously.

Costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.863 trillion in 2013. That is more than the (Gross Domestic Product) GDPs of Canada or Australia.

The people who grow our food don’t seem to agree. (And of course, if you make food prohibitively expensive – more and more people can’t afford to eat. Which preempts even concerns of government-caused higher energy costs.)

EPA Regulations Suffocating U.S. Agriculture

Farm Bureau Supports Reigning in the EPA

The EPA is Turning Water on Farms Into a Weapon Against Farmers

The Government’s Boundless Appetite for Regulation

Shocker – the EPA is yet again bending the rules.

Farm Bureau to Senate: EPA Abused Rulemaking Process

Which is, again, nothing new.

Disgraced EPA Chief Used Fake Name to Coordinate with Liberal Groups

Top EPA Official Used Personal Email Address to Solicit Green Group’s Input

Is EPA Helping Green Groups Raise Funds in Exchange for Favorable Research?

And if you don’t comply with their dishonest, ever-expansive absurdity? Additional, personalized authoritarianism.

EPA Boss Just Threatened Americans: I’m Going To Come Knocking On Your Doors

This is where, Constitutionally, the Legislative Branch is supposed to step in. And rein in the out-of-control Executive.

Unfortunately, Congress is populated mostly by Nixon-esque RINOs. Who are preoccupied with giving this out-of-control President even more of its delegated power (Trade Promotion Authority [TPA]) – rather than clawing some of it back.

It’s going to be a woefully long nineteen months. From here, January 20, 2017 seems very, very far away.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory: Public Land Usage

June 25, 2015, 10:14 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Ken Ivory. Ivory is a Utah state representative and president of the American Lands Council. Ivory and Burnett discuss public land usage.

Ivory discusses the proper relationship between the federal government and the states and how the federal government has badly managed public lands and harmed species in Western states. He also discusses state efforts to wrest control of public lands from the federal government. He also talks about what he learned from Heartland’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10).

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

Categories: On the Blog

States Are Now Pulling Back from the Common Core Test Consortiums

June 25, 2015, 8:00 AM

While news report focus on states, politicians, teachers, and parents who are angry with Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the debate over CCSS-aligned testing is heating up rapidly.

Maine is now the latest state to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) signed his state’s budget into law, which effectively withdrew Missouri from SBAC. Missouri is now writing their own tests.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) attempted to end Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing but was over ruled by the State School Board.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) budget called for ending SBAC. The state has now requested bids for new tests.

Categories: On the Blog

Top EPA Official Coordinated With High-Powered Green Groups on Policy

June 24, 2015, 11:38 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency has been working, for some time, to craft regulations on coal plants that would dramatically limit both their carbon emissions and their capacity to provide an energy source – electricity – to the majority of Americans in an affordable way.

As Rep. Lamar Smith found out this week, after obtaining a series of emails from EPA policy director Michael Goo’s personal email account, the EPA was not forming these “clean air” policies in a vacuum. According to records, Goo used his personal email address to collaborate on environmental policy with the leader of environmental mega-group Sierra Club International, John Coequyt (also a registered Federal lobbyist), as he formulated greenhouse gas regulations.

According to the Free Beacon, Goo was charged with writing the New Source Performance Standards, or NSPS, that the EPA expected to use to curb carbon emissions from coal plants. According to Rep. Smith, who has been conducting a thorough investigation into the EPA’s communications with anti-coal activists and other environmentalists, such communication is not only inappropriate – as it gives those with a vested interest in the policy the opportunity to craft and shape it – but it’s possibly illegal.

Goo’s use of a personal email address could violate federal law, according to Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), who has investigated EPA officials’ use of personal email addresses in his capacity as the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

“For two years, his communications with the Sierra Club and other outside groups were hidden from congressional inquiries and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests—potentially violating the Federal Records Act,” Smith said in a May statement.

Smith obtained the emails last month, but they were not publicly released until Monday. Chris Horner, a senior legal fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request and posted them at the website Watts Up With That.

“These records prove how EPA gave anti-coal activists an opportunity to review, comment, and shape the strategy EPA would pursue to block development of more coal plants and shutter existing plants,” he wrote.

Horner said Goo’s use of a private email address for official business was “illegal.” Goo did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

This is certainly far from the Sierra Club’s first entanglement with the EPA. In 2012, they happily snapped up former EPA administrator Al Armendariz, after he was let go from the EPA over comments he made likening his approach to the coal industry to that of invading Roman soldiers, crucifying Turkish civilians in order to drive home his message.

It seems that at least some of what Coequyt and Goo shared was sensitive. In one instance, Coequyt actually notes that a report he’s sending Goo should be kept far from the public eye, and suggests that Goo change even his private email address in the event his “new job” with the EPA subjects him to closer scrutiny.

In that instance, Coequyt, whose organization, Sierra Club, has a “death count” for coal plants on its website, was trying to persuade Goo to accept the argument that there should be no exclusion, carved out in the law, that allows coal plants to escape regulation if it’s not technologically feasible for them to meet the EPA’s standards. From the Sierra Club’s perspective, allowing coal plants the opportunity to extend their compliance with Federal regulations until technology is available that makes cutting emissions feasible, defeats their stated purpose: to shut down coal plants and other “top” carbon emitters. The Sierra Club proudly boasts, even, that they’ve shut down over 150 new, more efficient plants.

Coequyt even went so far as to question the long-term viability of the EPA’s own technological solution to carbon emissions, the “Carbon Capture and Sequestration” (CCS) technology, makes it possible for coal plants to continue to produce the same amount of electricity, but drastically reduce their CO2 output by trapping byproduct C02 in underground pockets rather than releasing the carbon dioxide into the air. According to the Free Beacon, he “scoffed” at the idea. That’s putting it mildly.

The EPA is obviously charged with creating environmental policy for the country, but the people it affects the most – especially in industries targeted by environmentalists with whom the EPA exhibits a cozy relationship – are seemingly not included in policy creation, which makes the policies not only difficult to administer, but difficult to implement.

Already, 12 states are considering fighting back against the EPA’s carbon and coal regulations, claiming that the EPA failed to take states’ economic health into consideration as it formulating policy (Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and Texas are also challenging the EPA, but on other regulatory incursions). Along with groups like Energy & Environment Legal Institute, these states claim that the collaboration between the EPA and Sierra Club (among others) is cause to question, if not dispose of, the regulations completely and start from scratch. Their argument has merit.

This is not the last of the EPA FOIA requests, either, much more may come to light before the investigation is through.

Categories: On the Blog

Constitutional Convention Becomes Issue in Wisconsin State Senate Race

June 24, 2015, 11:27 AM

Chris Kapenga

In the final days before a special election in the 33rd Wisconsin State Senate District, a proposal to apply for an Article V convention for the purpose of enacting a federal balanced budget amendment emerged as an important issue.

Delafield, Wisconsin state Rep. Chris Kapenga (R) ran for a state Senate seat vacated by Paul Farrow (R), who was elected the county executive of Waukesha County, Wisconsin in April. He currently serves as a co-president for the Assembly of State Legislatures, which is responsible for setting the framework for a convention. Brian Dorow and Mikael Langer challenged him for the Republican nomination.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on June 21st about the debate between Kapenga and his challengers on whether Wisconsin should call for a convention. Dorow felt the repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law is a bigger priority. He went on to tell the newspaper Kapenga’s push for a convention is “misplaced energy.” A bill repealing the prevailing wage law was co-authored by Kapenga.

Citizens for a Responsible Wisconsin, an issue advocacy group, issued direct mail postcards to voters during the final days of the campaign accusing Kapenga of teaming up with Democrats to re-write the U.S. Constitution. The Waukesha Freeman reported on Tuesday the group did not register with the state’s Government Accountability Board, which oversees campaigns and elections. The only registration on file for the group was with the Department of Financial Institutions as a non-stock corporation.

Kapenga won the Republican primary on Tuesday night with 52 percent of the vote. He will face off against Democratic Party nominee Sherryll Shaddock (D) in the general election scheduled for July 21st.

Categories: On the Blog

After the Power Grabs: Gov Doesn’t Care What Happens to Us – It’s On to the Next Grabs

June 24, 2015, 10:33 AM

How many times has government royally messed up something? And not fired anyone? Or done anything that remotely resembles improving their performance?

Oh so very often. In part because they don’t care – once they have the power, they don’t care what happens to us. In part because they are too busy planning their next grabs.

A pristine example?

Federal Union Says (Office of Personnel Management) OPM Breach Hit Every Federal Employee

The OPM Breach Is a Catastrophe

First the government must own up to its failure. Then the feds should follow this plan to fix it.

Good luck with that.

China Blamed for Massive Breach of US Government Data

Except:

China Gets Pass from Obama on ‘Devastating’ OPM Hack

Did government yet again ignore the rules they mandate we follow?

Reacting to Chinese Hack, the Government May Not Have Followed Its Own Cybersecurity Rules

At least the government immediately realized the breach, right?

Officials: Chinese Had Access to U.S. Security Clearance Data for One Year

The considerable lag time between breach and discovery means that the adversary had more time to pull off a cyber-heist of consequence….

Well it’s just the one, right?

Second Data Hack Might Be Bigger Than First OPM Breach

The second intrusion “involved a different system and a different set of data, and I think you could logically conclude that … a larger amount of data and information was potentially affected,” (White House spokesman Josh) Earnest said.

Government vigilance – there’s nothing like it.

Obama Has Confidence in OPM Chief Despite Hack

“The president does have confidence that she is the right person for the job,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

Government accountability – there’s nothing like it.

That confidence is only possible if you’re completely delusional – or have an entirely different definition of “right” than does the rest of us.

Government’s (much) bigger priority? Lording over even more of the private sector.

McConnell to Advance Cybersecurity Legislation After Government Data Breach

(P)rivacy advocates say the bill, which would require companies to share information about breaches with the government and others in industry, gives too much power to the intelligence community.

The government massively screws up – and uses it as an excuse to execute yet another massive power grab.

As usual their priorities are totally in order.

St. Louis Cardinals Under FBI Investigation for Alleged Hack of Astros System

Do as they say – not as they do.

Evidence of government accountability abounds.

What It Takes to Get Fired From the Obama Administration

More than any of the following.

Benghazi Scandal-Benghazi Fallout – State: Staffers Shouldn’t Be Fired

ATF Director: No One Fired for Fast and Furious

Will Heads Roll? Who Gets Fired Over ObamaCare?

No one. In fact our government hires people other governments fire.

Canadian Officials Fired IT Firm Behind Troubled ObamaCare Website

Evidence of government incompetence – and capriciousness – is everywhere.

Federal Debt Soars to Over $18 Trillion

Federal Unfunded Liabilities Exceed $127 Trillion

How’s government medicine doing?

A Fatal Wait: Veterans Languish and Die on a VA Hospital’s Secret List

The Failure That Is Medicaid

Medicare Faces Unfunded Liability of $38.6 Trillion

Did the government attempt to fix any of this? Of course not – it was on to the next grab.

ObamaCare’s $17 Trillion Unfunded Liability

Failures in Management Led to ObamaCare Website Woes

No Security Ever Built Into ObamaCare Site

And it’s on to the next grabs – where they can really wield their obvious technological prowess.

Network Neutrality. The government imposed it in 2007 – the D.C. Circuit court unanimously rejected it. They reimposed it in 2010 – the D.C. Circuit court again unanimously rejected it.

Having twice been told they can’t have a piece of pie – the government stole the whole bakery. Andimposed 1934 landline phone law on the Internet. Because they’re technology experts.

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

Speaking of government’s love of self-reform.

Report: ObamaPhone Program ‘Riddled With Waste, Fraud, Abuse’

But:

The Feds Want to ‘Reform’ Fraud-Riddled ObamaPhone – By Expanding It to the Internet

Sometimes – sometimes – some governments acknowledge at least some of their limitations.

20 States Now Have Restrictions on Government Broadband

For very good and obvious reasons.

Utah Residents May Be Charged $120 a Year to Bail Out UTOPIA

UTOPIA, short for the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, was conceived in 2002 as a local government-managed alternative….As of late 2012, the agency was $120 million in the red and had fewer than 10,000 customers….

There are a whole lot of UTOPIAs out there. But the Feds won’t stand for any impediment to the next grab.

(Federal Communications Commission) FCC Votes to Override State Laws That Block Government Broadband Deployments

Because:

Stimulus Bill Includes $7.2 Billion for Broadband

Government money to de-privatize the private sector.

What do the terrible barber and the government say? “Next.”

No repairs to the any of the myriad preceding bad haircuts and power grabs.

Full speed ahead to the next. Over, and over, and over again. And again. And….

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Lisa Snell: Decentralizing School Funding

June 24, 2015, 9:21 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Heather Kays, managing editor of School Reform News speaks with Lis Snell. Snell is the director of education at the Reason Foundation. Kays and Snell discuss student-based budgeting.

Kays and Snell talk about the benefits and outcomes of allowing school funding to follow the child instead of the money going straight to the school district. Snell also announces plans for a new student-based budgeting center Reason is opening in order to promote the conceps of decentralizing school funding, allowing parents choice and provind studets with additional educational opportunities.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Nation’s Editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel: Pope Takes on Wall Street

June 24, 2015, 8:47 AM

One of the nation’s most prominent progressives, Katrina vanden Heuvel, is marketing a new meme – or at least trying to do so. Her latest column in yesterday’s Washington Post proclaims that the Pope is pouncing on Wall Street with his environmental encyclical.

Liberals tilting at Wall Street windmills.

Entitled Pope Francis v. Wall Street, her column calls the encyclical “stunning”  for its critique of “market fundamentalism” which puts “speculation and the pursuit of financial gain,”ahead of the real economy thus imperiling the planet with global warming. Hmm. Wall Street has been hot for fashionable “green stocks” for years, and the bulk of donations from financiers flow to the Democratic Party. They know government subsidies are needed to keep green companies in business, and donate accordingly to the party of bigger, greener government.

But pay that no mind! The editor of The Nation now sees – contrary to Gallup -that there is a “growing swing in public opinion” for government action on climate change. Please, also pay no attention to the fact that these government actions would benefit Democratic donors!  Vanden Heuvel also claims Catholics are especially interested in climate regulations, even though she recently Tweeted that “atheism is on the rise in the U.S.,” at #KatrinaNation. Do not let facts get in the way of a great meme, right Katrina?

 

Categories: On the Blog

Computerized Common Core Testing Failed the Test

June 24, 2015, 8:00 AM

Smarter Balanced is the lesser known consortium creating Common Core aligned tests. The more well-known is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. While Smarter Balanced testing was used in 13 states and PARCC was used in just 12 states, PARCC became the punching bag for those opposed to high stakes testing imposed by Common Core.

Three states, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, used to implement the Smarter Balanced tests, but these states saw many computer related failures. Many students could not take the test at all. Measured Progress provided the following statistics on the testing to the Associated Press:

The New Hampshire-based company said 37 percent of Nevada students and 76 percent of Montana students completed the computerized English language arts and math tests for selected grades. A total of 88 percent of North Dakota students completed either the online or paper version.

Education Week reported Nevada has filed a “breach of contract complaint against Measured Progress” and is considering legal action. To further complicate the matter, Federal monies are tied to a 95 percent testing rate mandate. At this time, it appears the Federal Department of Education will not withhold funds due to testing failures, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

Other companies who administer the Smarter Balanced tests are American Institutes for Research, Educational Testing Service, Data Recognition Corporation, and CTB/McGraw Hill.

Categories: On the Blog

Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Global Warming Fails

June 23, 2015, 10:49 AM

The Vatican announced April 14 it will host a major conference on climate change April 28, featuring some of the world’s leading climate scientists and an opening address by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The one-day conference is called Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.  In order to insure a balanced discussion of climate science, The Heartland Institute and Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) sent scientific representatives to the conference.  Unfortunately, they were not allowed to speak at the conference; but they created sensational news across the world by well attended press conferences.

On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis issued his ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI (Praise Be To You) OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE OF OUR COMMON HOME.  The 184-page letter consists of 246 paragraphs of which 7 (paragraphs 20-26) are devoted to POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE.

The first three paragraphs are given under the subheading of Pollution, waste and the throwaway culture.

Pollution, waste and the throwaway culture

Paragraph 20 deals with pollution caused by all forms of human activity.  The serious pollution due to energy use is uncontrolled pollution in homes and urban areas where environmental controls are unavailable on combustion products. Central power generation allows these controls such as electrostatic precipitators, scrubbers, etc. use on electric power generation.  Thus modern society energy sources using fossil fuels are clean energy sources as demonstrated by vast improvements in the United States air quality the past forty years.

Paragraph 21 deals with pollution caused by waste—residues from home and industrial activities that produce garbage that is not properly disposed.

Paragraph 22 deals with waste due to our throwaway culture.  This can be alleviated by stringent recycle programs.

The rest of the paragraphs are listed under the sub-heading “Climate as a common good”.

Climate as a common good

Paragraph 23 is written as follows:

The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.  At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life.  A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon.  Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.  It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space. The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes.

Paragraph 23 is given in entirety due to many errors in statements.  The constant rise in sea level has been constant across the planet for more than a century as shown by tidal gauge measurements posted on the Internet by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The rate of rise averages about 8 inches per century.   For many weather events, rates of occurrences have declined in recent decades.  The U. S. government provides data on various climate events Pope Francis claims are increasing—heat waves, record high temperatures, flooding, drought, wildfires, reduced snowfall, tornadoes,hurricanes, sea level rise, and Arctic ice melting.  Paragraph 23 states recent warming is mostly due to increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide which “do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space”.  Greenhouse gases don’t influence the sun’s rays because they are transparent to high wavelength energy from the sun.  The scientific community acknowledges increased global warming due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use has only been a factor since 1950 when carbon dioxide was 310 parts per million (ppm) and rising to 400 ppm by 2015.  The alleged dangers from global warming cited by Pope Francis have not occurred.

Paragraph 23 demonstrates Pope Francis did not have expert advice in writing about climate change.

Paragraph 24 is written as follows:

Warming has effects on the carbon cycle. It creates a vicious circle which aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production in warmer regions, and leading to the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity. The melting in the polar ice caps and in high altitude plains can lead to the dangerous release of methane gas, while the decomposition of frozen organic material can further increase the emission of carbon dioxide. Things are made worse by the loss of tropical forests which would otherwise help to mitigate climate change. Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us. A rise in the sea level, for example, can create extremely serious situations, if we consider that a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and that the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal areas.

This paragraph complains about loss of tropical rain forests which may be caused by Pope Francis’ suggestion fossil fuels be replaced by solar and wind energy sources that require vast land areas for their implementation.  Examination of land requirements show it takes 6 acres per megawatt for solar energy and 60 acres per megawatt for wind energy.  The typical megawatts of solar and wind energy to produce the same output of a 1000 megawatt nuclear power plant would be 5000 megawatts solar and 3000 megawatts wind, respectively.  Thus land requirements for the solar plant are 47 square miles and 281 square miles for the wind farm.

The United States’ annual electricity production is a little greater than 4 billion megawatt-hours.  It would take 500 1000-megawatt nuclear power plants to generate that amount of electricity.  Dividing that electric power production equally with solar and wind energy would require 11,800 square miles of solar farms and 70,000 square miles of wind farms.  No mention is made about energy storage problems.

Problems with ocean rise were covered in the discussion of Paragraph 23.  The expected rise of about 8 inches per century is a known quantity and takes place without regards to carbon dioxide increases.

In reality carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels is a positive benefit to society as explained by Princeton University Emeritus Professor William Happer in his October 15, 2014 lecture “The Myth of Carbon Pollution”.  Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is an airborne fertilizer that causes increased plant growth, larger plant root systems that decrease plant water demands, and decreases in plant water expiration which also decreases plant water demands.  The slight increase in global warming by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is a positive benefit producing longer growing seasons.

A report on social benefits of carbon dioxide for agriculture alone is estimated at $3.2 trillion from 1961 to 2011.  Benefits from 2012 to 2050 are estimated $9.8 trillion.  These economic benefits from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide make any suggested economic benefits from carbon dioxide curtailment by Pope Francis, President Obama, or others irrelevant.

Paragraph 25 contains the following statement:

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.

Migrants fleeing to better lands isn’t because of “environmental degradation”; but wars that threaten their survival. Christians are being beheaded by Muslim terrorists, various Muslim sects won’t peacefully resolve differences, etc.  Pope Francis has failed to observe the distinguishing feature between poor and rich countries is rich countries have successfully developed their fossil fuel energy resources to provide low cost and abundant transportation, heating, cooling, cooking, refrigeration,  vast communication systems, entertainment, etc. that practically eliminates the burdens of daily living.  By denying poor countries access to fossil fuels, Pope Francis condemns them to perpetual poverty.

Paragraph 26 contains the following statement:

Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption. There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy. Worldwide there is minimal access to clean and renewable energy. There is still a need to develop adequate storage technologies. Some countries have made considerable progress, although it is far from constituting a significant proportion. Investments have also been made in means of production and transportation which consume less energy and require fewer raw materials, as well as in methods of construction and renovating buildings which improve their energy efficiency. But these good practices are still far from widespread.

Pope Francis wants to replace fossil fuel energy sources with solar, wind, biomass (wood), ethanol from corn, other biofuels, etc. as future energy sources.  These energy sources are too expensive for developing nations.  Solar and wind energy are available for small periods of time and require backup energy sources when unavailable.  Present technology has not given us economical and practical energy storage systems.  Environmental issues from vast wind and solar farms ruing nature’s beauty, incorporating hazardous materials, and having useful lifetimes of about 25 years are not addressed.

In addition, these energy sources require vast land areas in order to produce significant amounts of energy.  This requires destroying millions of square miles of forest land that cleans our air and water, creates oxygen, helps cool the planet, and provides recreation.  Forest land is a sink for carbon dioxide; thus renewable energy sources may add to global carbon dioxide.

Aftermath

Positive issues from Pope Francis’ encyclical are stop wasting food, recycle all that is practical, practice energy efficiency, and clean up our environment.  These are attributes taught by good parents to their children.  My parents never wasted food, made us turn off light bulbs upon leaving a chair after reading, make your beds and allow no cloths strewn on bedroom floors, recycled all paper and cans, etc.  These issues can be resolved by global education and reducing carbon dioxide levels is of no importance.

Pope Francis is making a grievous mistake entering the debate on fossil fuels causing catastrophic global warming due to live-giving combustion gas carbon dioxide.  His policies will leave the planet poorer, less healthy, drudgery for a lifestyle, and lacking creature comforts.  History has not forgotten the Church’s 17th century involvement with science caused the Inquisition in 1633 to force Galileo Galilei to recant the Sun was the center of our universe instead of the Earth.  Galileo was held in house arrest until his death in 1642.  The consequences of the Church’s actions may have set astronomy back a few years; but did not lead to a calamitous future for the planet by denying our population life-giving energy sources of abundant, inexpensive, and geographically distributed fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas.  In 1992 the Vatican formally announced its mistake in condemning Galileo.

The attack on life-giving carbon dioxide may require new attitudes on its existence.  We might paraphrase the famous song of the 1970s peace movement by John Lennon “Give Peace a Chance” with “All we are saying is give CO-2 a chance”.

Categories: On the Blog

F. A. Hayek and Why Government Can’t Manage Society, Part I

June 23, 2015, 9:57 AM

Decay

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. On May 8th, Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allied Powers in Europe. On September 2nd, Imperial Japan surrendered to the Allies on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, thus ending a global conflict that is estimated to have cost the lives of upwards of 50 million people.

In autumn of 1945, everyone was looking forward, finally, to a world at peace that could recover from the destruction of a catastrophic war and move towards a bright new future. But what kind of world was it to be?

Nazism and fascism had been militarily and ideologically pulverized in the conflict. No one wanted to goose-step to Hitler and Mussolini’s grandiose dreams of a world-ruling master race or a war-worshipping aggressive nationalism to which innocent human beings were to be sacrificed.

The Postwar Hope for a Better World Through Soviet Socialism

Instead, many looked East to the Soviet Union that stood as the new colossus that had bore the brunt of the Nazi war machine; Soviet socialism seemed to offer a vision of a “better world” free from economic exploitation or class distinction.

Before the war, under Comrade Stalin’s bigger-than-life leadership, socialist central planning and a spirit of serving the “common good” of humanity seemed to be creating a colossal industrial society in what had been the backwards agricultural nation of Russia a mere handful of years before. This was all being done, Soviet propaganda assured, for the benefit of the mass of the workers, and not a handful of greedy plundering capitalists. A people’s utopia was in the making.

The German invasion had destroyed many of the industrial centers in European Soviet Russia. But beyond the Ural Mountains, Stalin had directed the reconstruction of new industrial centers that had ground out vast amounts of military hardware and equipment that stopped the Nazi onslaught, and had brought the Soviet Army to the central of Europe, with the red flag raised over Warsaw, Budapest, Vienna, Berlin and Prague.

Marxian ideology (and prophecy) asserted the inevitability of the coming socialist society. Communist parties both within the orbit of Stalin’s new empire in Eastern Europe and in the Western democracies outside of Stalin’s grasp were all at work to bring the totalitarian collectivist future to pass.

Western Socialists Wanted Socialism with a Democratic Face

Of course, not all socialists in the West were slavish servants to the Soviet Master in Moscow the way the communist parties were so bound. Many Social Democrats believed that democracy was both compatible with and an essential complement to a humane socialism, a socialism that did not reduce humanity to obedient cogs in a giant collectivist wheel directed by a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” They wanted socialism with traditional civil liberties, personal freedom and democratic politics.

It is important to remember, however, that at a fundamental level the conflict between Western European democratic socialists and Moscow-managed single-party communists on opposite sides of the European divide was a dispute over means and not desired ends.

Soviet Communists and Social Democrats All Wanted Central Planning

In the years before, during, and immediately after the war, the dispute and debate between “communists” and “socialists” was over two things: How shall the collectivist society come about: through ballots or bullets – through democratic elections or violent revolution? And once in power, would collectivist rule and control be maintained through multi-party democratic choice or on the basis of one-party dictatorship with the suppression of civil liberties and political freedom?

But both Western socialists and Soviet-style communists, nonetheless, still agreed about the end or goal to be attained: near or full abolition of private ownership of the means of production and the implementation of government central planning of production and distribution in the place of decentralized and competitive private enterprise.

Capitalism was the enemy for both Soviet-oriented communists and those desiring a hoped for “democratic” socialism. Private enterprise was considered the root of “exploitation” of the workers, “social injustice,” and economic inequality of income and wealth. Both communists and socialists believed in government central planning of a society’s economic activity over virtually all facets of life.

Most American Leftists Pushed for Interventionist-Welfare Statism

The United States, of course, was noticeably different. The socialist ideal of nationalization of the means of production and central planning had never caught the imagination or the political traction the way they did in Europe. In spite of America’s flirtation with economic fascism during FDR’s early New Deal days and the wartime planning under which virtually the entire U.S. economy was put into the straightjacket of government control, the postwar direction was for the freeing of the market from direct and total government planning.

In America, outside of the more consistent and vocal voices on “the left,” the debates focused on the degree to which U.S. industry needed to be regulated by the government to tame tendencies toward supposed monopolistic and oligopolistic inefficiencies and distortions in the market; the extent to which New Deal-introduced welfare state programs should be enlarged and extended; and, of course, the requirements for “activist” fiscal and monetary policies to assure and maintain “full employment” inspired by the virtual monopoly dominance of Keynesian ideas over the thinking of economists and government policy-makers in all matters of macroeconomic theory and policy.

 F. A. Hayek was Critic of Keynes and Author of The Road to Serfdom

But in that same September of 1945, now seventy years ago, there appeared a lead article in the American Economic Review, the leading journal of the American economics profession, on “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” by an “Austrian” economist named Friedrich A. Hayek who had been teaching at the London School of Economics for almost a decade and a half.

Born in Austria and having graduated from the University of Vienna, in the 1930s Hayek was recognized as the leading opponent and contender against the ideas of the Cambridge University economist, John Maynard Keynes, and his emerging “Keynesian” economics. Hayek was also acquiring a international name recognition from a book he had published a year earlier in 1944, The Road to Serfdom.

The theme of The Road to Serfdom is that while socialism had been promised as a “new world” of freedom and prosperity for all with an abolition of capitalist exploitation, in reality the inescapable concentration of power and control in the hands of a socialist government so to centrally plan the economic affairs of the society would lead to the threatened loss of not just economic freedom with the end of private property, but the loss of personal and civil liberties as well.

In spite of the dreams and promises of the “democratic” socialists, when the government own all the means of production, then the only books and magazines published, including their content, is what the government wants printed. When the government owns all the resources, factors and machines, the only things produced and made available are those consumer goods the central planners considered “good” and desirable for “the people.” When the government is the monopoly manufacturer, then the only employment opportunities are those the political authorities make available and assign you to fulfill.

You, as an individual, are at the mercy of an all-powerful, single provider of all things from which you have no escape because there is nothing outside of what the government, owns, controls and plans. There is virtually no “private space,” to live in and freedom over outside of the centrally planning hands of the State.

Running through his damning indictment of the political and personal consequences from imposing full socialist planning on society, is a defense of the dignity and sanctity of the individual as a human being. The importance of private property is argued to be essential to secure and protect any and all freedom for the grasping hand of political power.

Hayek also pointed to the crucial role of the existence, practice and respect for an impartial rule of law for any protection from arbitrary government control. Without a delineation and enforcement of the rights of the individual and constitutional limits on the size and scope of government, political tyranny always threatens a society.

Hayek’s “Use of Knowledge in Society” and the Unworkability of Planning

There are several concise and suggestive passages in The Road to Serfdom in which Hayek points out fundamental weaknesses in the practical ability of a central planning system to effectively replace a functioning competitive market order for solving the “economic problems” of society. But it is only in his 1945 article on “The Use of Knowledge in Society” that Hayek details what he considers to be the essential difficulty with any comprehensive system of economic planning.

If central planning were to work, it would be necessary for the central planners to possess complete and comprehensive knowledge of all the relevant “data” to decide how best to use and allocate all the diverse physical resources, human labor skills, and technical possibilities so to produce those goods best serving the wants of the members of society, and in the most efficient manner to get the most out of the scarce means available to satisfy people’s ends.

Hayek’s starting point was to emphasize that all of that meaningfully relevant “data” exists in no one place and in no one mind or group of minds. The “knowledge of the world” is dispersed and divided up in the minds of all the members of society, with each knowing and understanding only a small part relative to all the knowledge that exists in everybody’s minds, combined.

Furthermore, while people often think of knowledge in the textbook or “scientific” sense, there are other types of knowledge no less relevant or important that must be utilized and brought to bear if production is to proceed effectively and efficiently and if what is supplied tends to match what members of society want to demand.

Decentralized Knowledge and Need to Coordinate All That People Know

Hayek called this other type of knowledge the “local knowledge of time and place.” This is the knowledge that is only acquired working and interacting within a particular corner of the social system of division of labor. This knowledge comes from working in a particular trade, in a specific firm or enterprise, working with a distinct group of other people, in which particular machines and tools are used as the means to satisfy specific consumers and demanders in the attempt to gain and keep their business in a competitive market.

But if knowledge is decentralized in a complex system of division of labor in which people are invariably separated from each other by both time and space, how shall information be communicated among people so their choices and actions on the production side of the economy can be tending to match and coordinated with the consumption side of the market?

Hayek forcefully argued that it is not necessary for all the multitudes of millions (now billions) of participants in the division of labor to directly know each other and each other’s planned actions and desires to interpersonally coordinate all that they do. And it is certainly impossible for a handful of central planners to know enough of all that there is to know to successfully perform such an intricate and ever-changing task.

The Role of Market-Based Prices to Solve Society’s Knowledge Problem

The market solves the “economic problem,” which Hayek emphasized was really the problem of how to utilize all the knowledge in the world when all that knowledge can never be coordinated for effective use other than through the competitive price system.

Through the prices they offer to pay, demanders from one corner of the globe to another register their interest and their degree of willingness to pay others to supply them with the various goods, services, and resources they are interested in obtaining from those willing and able to supply.

At the same time, every producer anywhere in the world is saved the necessity of needing to know all the other competing producers and enterprisers who also may have investment goals in mind involving the acquisition and use of various types of labor, capital equipment and raw materials.

It is sufficient that those rival demanders for the means of production on the producer-side of the market indicate and register their interest, willingness and ability to demand those factors of production through the prices they offer to purchase, hire or employ them.

These input prices inform producers anywhere in the world what the relative costs shall be to use those factors of production in their own line of activity, and therefore which combination of them would incur the least monetary expense to employ relative to the anticipated price they think consumers might be willing to pay for the finished product they could assist in producing.

These prices on the demand side of the market enable everyone in their own corner of the society to decide how best to allocate their limited income among alternative consumer goods they might purchase; and those prices on the supply side of the market assist each and every producer in deciding whether production of some product might earn a profit or suffer a loss, and if possibly profitable, with what combination of inputs to minimize expenses given other desired uses for them in other parts of the market.

Markets Enable Both Freedom and Use of Knowledge

The advantage of using a market-generated network of competitively established prices is that they not only inform everyone about the demand and supply potentials of others in society. It also means that every individual may be left free to make his own decisions about how best to use that knowledge of his local time and place in the most effective manner, so all many benefit from what each knows and can do that no central planner could ever know or do better than the decentralized decision-makers themselves.

Thus, individual liberty and social coordination through prices – personal freedom and market order – become not only possible, but can be shown to be indispensable if the “knowledge of the world” is to be brought into play for the mutual benefit and advantage of all.

If personal freedom is considered to be a desirable human condition and if human cooperation for mutual improvement is considered of value for the material and cultural betterment of mankind, then it can be shown, Hayek concluded, that only free markets – competitive capitalism – can solve the “economic problem” of the use of knowledge in society.

Socialist central planning, therefore, with its concentration of control over the means of human existence in the hands of the political authority, is not only a threat to human freedom and dignity – a “road to serfdom” – but also could be shown to be an economic dead end offering neither productive efficiency nor the practical utilization of the division of knowledge that accompanies a system of division of labor.

Abolition of private property in the means of production not only results in the personal loss of the means for existence and betterment outside of the power of government, with its danger of tyranny. It limits mankind’s opportunities and progress to what a small number of finite minds can master and know, who are assigned the task of centrally planning and commanding the productive activities of the society.

Hayek’s argument on the essential limits of the human mind to know enough to reconstruct and plan society according to a crafted central design was and is a powerful critique against the socialist ideal of the last one hundred years.

Which one of us, if we spoke with all honesty and truthfulness, can assert that they know enough to plan the economic and related social activities of the over 320 million distinct individuals living in the United States, or the more than 7.2 billion people who live on our planet?

But it might be said that “socialism” in his older and original form is now dead. It died with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Except, maybe, in North Korea, the case for and the practice of central planning has become something of the past, a tragic historical curiosity that historians will analyze and try to understand for a long time.

Today around the world practically every country operates with forms of a market economy. Some may be more free and competitive while others a less so, but “the market” as the broad institutional framework in which economic affairs go on in daily life is now virtually universal. Therefore, is Hayek’s message in both The Road to Serfdom and his article on “The Use of Knowledge in Society” still meaningful and relevant in our world today? That question will be addressed in part 2 of this article.

(The text is based on a talk given on a panel session devoted to “Friedrich Hayek as Defender of Liberty” at the Tenth Annual Moral Foundations of Capitalism Conference sponsored by the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University in South Carolina, May 29, 2015)

[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Bill Bergman: The Real National Debt

June 23, 2015, 8:58 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Budget & Tax News speaks with Bill Bergman. Bergman is the vice president of Truth in Accounting. Bergman joins Hathaway to talk about a new report on the federal government’s “credit card statement.”

This report gives an accurate and easy-to-understand way of thinking about just how much more the federal government’s spending exceeds its assets and revenue. Bergman explains how the federal government uses accounting gimmicks and tricks to make the national debt seem much lower than it really is, and what that means for current and future taxpayers alike.

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

Categories: On the Blog

School Refuses Harvard-Bound Valedictorian Speech, Orders Psychiatric Evaluation

June 23, 2015, 8:51 AM

Devan Solanki was expecting to give a speech at the Lodi High School graduation; after all, he was the school’s valedictorian and is headed to Harvard in the fall. Instead, the school is replacing him with another student, which has led to Solanki’s suspension and a request for a psychiatric evaluation. He also will now not be allowed to walk across the stage at graduation, according to NJ.com:

Devan Solanki, the Ivy League-bound valedictorian at Lodi High School, says school officials have plotted against him – first by stripping him of the opportunity to deliver the graduation speech, then by suspending him, and finally, by requiring that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation before he can return to school.

The school administration is defending its actions and blames Solanki.  They reference his past disciplinary issues and the counselor interpreting Solanki’s statement, “I just want to resolve this peacefully,” as a threat.

Students, however, are backing Solanki by protesting at the school on Tuesday, June 16.

“The student body agreed unanimously … that Devan deserved to give the speech,” said Goraz Kumar, the National Honor Society president, a junior. “When we found out that he wouldn’t get a chance to give the speech, that he had to get mentally evaluated to come back to school, we all thought that was enough and we need to voice our opinion.”

School administrators and teachers continue to tell us their job is to teach students how to think critically. Solanki, who is obviously a very smart student who thinks for himself and questions the administration’s rules, is subject to abnormally harsh punishment as a result. In essence, as Solanki graduates, his last lesson from his high school will be: “Don’t critically think for yourself about what the education bureaucracy tells you; just obey our rules or you will be punished.”

Categories: On the Blog

Obamacare-Related Mergers Soar, Number of Health Insurance Carriers Decline

June 23, 2015, 6:45 AM

Mergers among Medicare providers are decreasing competition in the health insurance market — yet another adverse outcome of Obamacare. According to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal, 75 % of Medicare Advantage customers  only have one health carrier to choose from in their market.

The market for health insurance may, moreover, be reduced from five to three major carriers nationally, quite soon.

Anthem Corp., a health insurer, over the weekend made an offer for Cigna Corp. The offer for $47.5 billion was rejected, but a revised offer is expected.

Obama has long envisioned a “single payor” health care system, and for the elderly, that is nearly the case today.

Health care coverage options decline under Obamacare.

Categories: On the Blog

America’s Largest Commuter Sheds (CBSAS)

June 22, 2015, 2:51 PM

Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) is the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) way of defining metropolitan regions.  The OMB (not the Census Bureau) defines criteria for delineating its three metropolitan concepts, combined statistical areas, metropolitan statistical areas, and micropolitan statistical areas. The CBSA has obtained little use since this adoption for the 2000 census.According to OMB:

“A CBSA is a geographic entity associated with at least one core of 10,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.”

In this context, core means urban area. If an urban area has 50,000 or more population, OMB defines a metropolitan area around it. If an urban area has 10,000 or more population but fewer than 50,000 residents, OMB defines a micropolitan area around it.

It is also important to understand that CBSAs, whether CSAs, metropolitan areas, or micropolitan areas are not urban areas. In fact, 94% of the area in CBSAs is rural — only 6% is urban (built-up urban cores and suburbs).

Combined statistical areas (CSAs) are made up of adjacent CBSAs that have a significant amount of commuting between them, but less than required for a metropolitan area or a micropolitan area. In some cases the CSAs seem so obvious as to make the smaller metropolitan area definitions seem ludicrous. One keen observer, Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner, put San Francisco and San Jose, as well as Los Angeles and Riverside-San Bernardino together in his recent analysis of population growth, because, as he rightly pointed out, they seem to “flow together.”

Some CSAs are very large. For example the New York CSA is composed of 8 metropolitan areas (New York (NY-NJ-PA), Bridgeport (CT), New Haven (CT), Trenton (NJ), Allentown (PA-NJ), Kingston (NY). Torrington (CT) and East Stroudsburg (PA). On the other hand, many major metropolitan areas are not a part of a CSA, such as Phoenix and San Diego.

Since the term CBSA seems unlikely to achieve popular usage, this article uses the term “commuter shed” to denote the highest local level of metropolitan definition.  The highest level for the largest regions are is the combined statistical area (CSA). In others they are defined as a metropolitan area or micropolitan area. The result is a consistent standard of economic geography defined by commuting. Yet such lists are rare or non-existent. A table of all 569 commuter sheds (over 1,000,000 population) is posted to demographia.com.

10 Largest Commuter Sheds

As a 2014, there were 60 commuter sheds in the United States with more than 1 million population (Table).

Not surprisingly, the nation’s largest commuter shed is New York. New York stretches from New Haven and Bridgeport, and Connecticut which are separate metropolitan areas out to Allentown which is principally in Pennsylvania and Trenton in New Jersey. The New York commuter shed has a population of 23.6 million. In fact, given the extensive suburban rail transit service between Southwestern Connecticut and New York City, it may be surprising that New Haven and Bridgeport are separate metropolitan areas, both with nearly 1,000,000 population. Moreover, there is virtually no break in the continuously built-up area between New York and southwestern Connecticut (Fairfield and New Haven counties) — they “flow together” to use Barone’s term. Since 2010, the Allentown metropolitan area, with nearly 1,000,000 population, was added to the New York CSA.

The second largest commuter shed is Los Angeles-Inland Empire, with 18.6 million residents. This includes the Los Angeles metropolitan area (Los Angeles and Orange Counties, Ventura County and the Riverside San Bernardino metropolitan area (Inland Empire, including Riverside and San Bernardino County), which is one of the largest in the nation, with more than 4 million population. Here, as in New York, there is virtually no break in the built-up urbanization between the two urban areas, Los Angeles and Riverside-San Bernardino.

Chicago is the third largest commuter shed, though its adjacent metropolitan areas are far smaller than in New York and Los Angeles. Chicago is also growing very slowly, with its population increase over the last year so small that it will take nearly to 2020 to reach 10 million, even though it only has 72,000 to go.

Just below Chicago, Washington and Baltimore combine to form nation’s fourth largest commuter shed. Already with more than 9.5 million residents and strong growth this decade, Washington-Baltimore could pass 10 million population and Chicago by 2020. Washington-Baltimore is unique in combining two of the nation’s historically largest and most intensely developed core municipalities along with the much more extensive suburbs (which contain 85% of the population). Washington-Baltimore now extends to Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

The fifth largest metropolitan complex is the San Francisco Bay Area with a population of 8.6 million. This includes the San Francisco, San Jose, Vallejo, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz metropolitan areas and the recently added Stockton metropolitan area.. There is no break in the urbanization between San Francisco and San Jose.

The Boston CBSA was enlarged during the last decade to include Providence, a major metropolitan area in its own right. Boston also includes the Worcester metropolitan area, which is nearing 1,000,000 population. Boston-Providence has a population of 8.1 million.

The top 10 is rounded out by Dallas-Fort Worth (7.4 million), Philadelphia (7.2 million), Houston (6.7 million), and Miami (6.6 million).

The largest metropolitan complex in the nation that is not a part of a CSA is Phoenix, which is ranked 14th. Only one other commuter sheds in the top 20 is not a CSA (San Diego) and only six of the 60 commuter sheds with more than 1,000,000 population is not a CSA.

Fastest Growing Commuter Sheds

The fastest commuter shed growth rates are in the South, which accounts for eight of the ten fastest growing commuter shed’s. Austin ranks number one in annual percentage growth between 2010 and 2014, a position it also holds among major metropolitan areas. Cape Coral (Florida) ranks second. Cape Coral also ranks as the fastest growing among the midsized metropolitan areas(from 500,000 to 1,000,000 population). Houston ranks third in growth rate. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth are the only commuter sheds with more than 5 million population that are among the top 10 in growth. The two non-Southern top 10 entries are from the West: Denver and Phoenix (Figure 2).

Slowest Growing Commuter Sheds

All of the 10 slowest growing major commuter sheds are in the old industrial heartland of the Northeast and Midwest. Cleveland-Akron is the slowest growing, having lost approximately 0.1 percent of its population annually. Pittsburgh, Dayton, Buffalo and Detroit have also lost population.

Continuing Dispersion

The dispersion of US metropolitan areas continues, with perhaps the ultimate example of Portland (Oregon), which was recently combined with four other metropolitan areas (see: Driving Farther to Quality in Portland). The “flowing together” suggest that the combined statistical area may be an increasingly important in assessing regional trends.

Core Based Statistical Areas (Commuter Sheds): United States Over 1,000,000 Population in 2014 2014 Population Rank Metropolitan Area 2010 2014 Annual % Change: 2010-2014 Growth Rank 1 New York-New Haven, NY-NJ-CT-PA CSA 23.077 23.633 0.56% 41 2 Los Angeles-Inland Empire, CA CSA 17.877 18.550 0.87% 30 3 Chicago, IL-IN-WI CSA 9.841 9.928 0.21% 50 4 Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA CSA 9.052 9.547 1.26% 18 5 San Fransicsco-San Jose, CA CSA 8.154 8.607 1.28% 17 6 Boston-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT CSA 7.894 8.100 0.61% 38 7 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK CSA 6.818 7.353 1.79% 8 8 Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD CSA 7.068 7.165 0.32% 47 9 Houston, TX CSA 6.115 6.686 2.13% 3 10 Miami-West Palm Beach, FL CSA 6.168 6.558 1.46% 14 11 Atlanta, GA CSA 5.910 6.259 1.36% 16 12 Detroit, MI CSA 5.319 5.315 -0.02% 56 13 Seattle, WA CSA 4.275 4.527 1.36% 15 14 Phoenix, AZ MSA 4.193 4.489 1.62% 9 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI CSA 3.685 3.835 0.94% 26 16 Cleveland-Akron, OH CSA 3.516 3.498 -0.12% 60 17 Denver, CO CSA 3.091 3.345 1.88% 6 18 San Diego, CA MSA 3.095 3.263 1.25% 20 19 Portland-Salem, OR-WA CSA 2.921 3.060 1.10% 23 20 Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL CSA 2.818 3.046 1.84% 7 21 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL MSA 2.784 2.916 1.10% 22 22 St. Louis, MO-IL CSA 2.893 2.911 0.15% 52 23 Pittsburgh, PA-OH-WV CSA 2.661 2.654 -0.06% 59 24 Charlotte, NC-SC CSA 2.376 2.538 1.57% 11 25 Sacramento, CA CSA 2.415 2.513 0.94% 27 26 Salt Lake City-Ogden, UT CSA 2.272 2.424 1.54% 12 27 Kansas City, MO-KS CSA 2.343 2.412 0.68% 36 28 Columbus, OH CSA 2.309 2.398 0.90% 28 29 Indianapolis, IN CSA 2.267 2.354 0.89% 29 30 San Antonio, TX MSA 2.143 2.329 1.98% 4 31 Las Vegas, NV-AZ CSA 2.195 2.315 1.26% 19 32 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN CSA 2.174 2.208 0.37% 46 33 Raleigh-Durham, NC CSA 1.913 2.075 1.94% 5 34 Milwaukee, WI CSA 2.026 2.044 0.21% 51 35 Austin, TX MSA 1.716 1.943 2.97% 1 36 Nashville, TN CSA 1.788 1.913 1.59% 10 37 Norfolk-Virginia Beach, VA-NC CSA 1.779 1.819 0.53% 43 38 Greensboro-Winston-Salem, NC CSA 1.589 1.630 0.60% 39 39 Jacksonville, FL-GA CSA 1.470 1.543 1.14% 21 40 Louisville, KY-IN CSA 1.460 1.499 0.62% 37 41 Hartford, CT CSA 1.486 1.488 0.02% 55 42 New Orleans, LA-MS CSA 1.414 1.480 1.09% 24 43 Grand Rapids, MI CSA 1.379 1.421 0.71% 34 44 Greenville, SC CSA 1.362 1.410 0.81% 33 45 Oklahoma City, OK CSA 1.322 1.409 1.50% 13 46 Memphis, TN-MS-AR CSA 1.353 1.370 0.29% 48 47 Birmingham, AL CSA 1.303 1.317 0.27% 49 48 Richmond, VA MSA 1.208 1.260 1.00% 25 49 Harrisburg, PA CSA 1.219 1.240 0.39% 45 50 Buffalo, NY CSA 1.216 1.215 -0.02% 57 51 Rochester, NY CSA 1.175 1.177 0.05% 54 52 Albany, NY CSA 1.169 1.174 0.10% 53 53 Albuquerque, NM CSA 1.146 1.166 0.40% 44 54 Tulsa, OK CSA 1.106 1.139 0.69% 35 55 Fresno, CA CSA 1.081 1.121 0.84% 32 56 Knoxville, TN CSA 1.077 1.104 0.58% 40 57 Dayton, OH CSA 1.080 1.078 -0.05% 58 58 Tucson, AZ CSA 1.028 1.051 0.53% 42 59 El Paso, TX-NM CSA 1.013 1.050 0.85% 31 60 Cape Coral, FL CSA 0.940 1.028 2.13% 2 In millions Data from US Census Bureau Metropolitan Statistical Areas shown only if not in a Combined Statistical Area.

 

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

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

Photo: Albany (NY) City Hall (by author)

[Originally published at New Geography]

Categories: On the Blog

Will Republicans Keep the Court from Blowing Obama’s Cover?

June 22, 2015, 12:06 PM

The Big Lie of ObamaCare is in the title: the Affordable Care Act. Administration officials invoke “affordable” over and over again.

The U.S. Supreme Court could well blow the Democrats’ cover in King v. Burwell if it rules that people in the 37 states that did not establish an Exchange cannot legally get taxpayer subsidies for health insurance.

The subsidies hide the reality. People generally look only at what they themselves have to pay. They do not care what faceless taxpayers are paying to insurance companies for their policies.

Of the 11.7 million Americans who now have private health insurance through federal and state marketplaces, 86 percent of them are receiving financial assistance from federal taxpayers to help pay premiums—or, more accurately, their insurance company is.

“More than seven million people could lose subsidies, making insurance unaffordable,” said White House officials, according to the New York Times.

These subsidies (“tax credits”) averaged $263 a month and reduced the premium by 72 percent, on average. Taxpayers who manage to earn more than a certain threshold thus have to pay 100 percent of their own premiums plus their “fair share” of 72 percent of premiums for those who earn less.

Assuming that they will be blamed for the surge in the number of uninsured, although they did not write the law, congressional Republicans are scurrying for ways to “fix” the problem of a purported “mistake” in drafting the law.

The only problem they apparently see is that people would lose coverage—not that ObamaCare drove premiums to unaffordable levels. And the only remedy they can think of is to force others to pay the unaffordable cost, at least for a time. Not having learned from vast experience, they assume that an extension of subsidies will be temporary.

One would like to see Republicans explain to the people why the whole structure of ObamaCare is a mistake, which worsens and solidifies the problems that make American medical care so costly in the first place. These are the simple, incontrovertible facts:
•Guaranteed issue/community rating always drives up premiums and leads to a “death spiral.” Unless premiums are based on risk, people have no incentive to buy insurance when they are well.
•Mandates to pay for expensive services people do not need or want help purveyors of such services but drive up premiums.
•Third-party payment itself always and everywhere drives costs far higher than people would pay if spending their own money.
•Administrative micromanagement drives up costs and limits access.
•Insurance is not the only way to buy medical care—just the most expensive way.

ObamaCare needs to be repealed. Tweaking one of the interlocking parts just makes the interconnected rest even more unworkable. If the Supreme Court exposes the true cost by removing the veil of subsidies, Republicans should not try to cover it up.

If people lose coverage, another shocking truth might be revealed, to the horror of the insurance cartel: they might be better off. The unsubsidized share of premiums—instead of being sucked into the insurer’s bank account—would be available to buy actual care, which people might now avoid because of high ObamaCare deductibles. A market might develop for true catastrophic-only insurance, with appropriately low premiums. Note that if ObamaCare insurance becomes unaffordable because of lack of subsidies, the individual mandate penalty/tax does not apply.

Of the money paid to insurers, at least 15 percent goes to administration and much more to activities like “quality assurance” that provide nothing recognizable to patients as a medical service or product. And if the insurer does pay for something, it decides exactly what, when, and how much a beneficiary might receive.

There are many alternatives to dependence on the government/insurer monolith, which the cartel would love to crush, such as health sharing ministries, direct-pay practices, and indemnity insurance. More resources are becoming available to patients (for example, medicalselfsufficiency.com and selfpaypatient.com).

Republicans should not help to suppress alternatives by propping up the ObamaCare monster and leaving the façade of subsidies intact.

[Originally published at AAPS]

Categories: On the Blog

Will 2015 be the Year of Renewable Fuel Standard Reform?

June 22, 2015, 10:32 AM

Fuel pump

The fact the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is attacking the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) management—er, mismanagement—of the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) is indicative of the growing frustration over both the agency and the RFS itself.

At the June 18 hearing, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator, Janet McCabe was grilled by Senators from both sides of the aisle. Senator James Lankford (R-OK), who chaired the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, opened the hearing by calling the RFS “unworkable in its current form.” In her comments, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) claimed that the EPA’s management of the RFS ignored “congressional intent,” while creating “uncertainty” and costing “investment.”

The RFS has been under fire from all sides. It is the product of a different energy era—one in which presumed scarcity was the norm and reducing greenhouse gases was the concern. As a solution to both problems, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act in 2005, which established the first renewable-fuel volume mandate. Two years later, through the Energy Independence and Security Act, the RFS program was expanded, requiring 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into gasoline and diesel by 2022 (annual targets were outlined). The EPA website explains the RFS: “achieving significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from the use of renewable fuels, for reducing imported petroleum, and encouraging the development and expansion of our nation’s renewable fuels sector.”

The EPA administers the RFS and is required to finalize the next year’s proposed fuel volumes by November 30 of each year—something it has failed to do, as Lankford pointed out: “On June 1, the amounts for the proposed mandates 2014, 2015, and 2016 volumes were all released together…some say better late than never, but we need to take a serious look at why these delays are unavoidable every year now, under current law.” The EPA has failed to meet the deadline every year since 2009.

When the 2014, 2015 and 2016 proposed volumes were released—in the middle of 2015—almost no one was happy. It reduced the amount of corn-based ethanol blended into gasoline, while slightly increasing the share of biofuels.

One day before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management hearing on “Re-examining EPA’s Management of the RFS Program,” the American Petroleum Institute held a press call in which an unlikely coalition of RFS opponents—the American Motorcyclist Association, the Environmental Working Group and the National Council of Chain Restaurants— sounded optimistic that 2015 is the year for RFS reform. The Environmental Working Group says the RFS has led to more greenhouse gas emissions. The leading chain restaurant trade group, the National Council of Chain Restaurants,is opposed to the RFS because of its alleged effect on food commodity prices.

Corn growers aren’t happy with the EPA’s new proposed corn ethanol volumes—covering 2014-2016—that are well below the benchmarks established by Congress. NPR’s Ari Shapiro, in a June 10 Morning Edition broadcast, stated: “Farmers in the Midwest have made good money growing corn for ethanol. To do that, they’ve plowed up lots of grassland. And that cancels out much of the hope for carbon savings. While the EPA still supports ethanol, it wants to take some of the focus off corn, and put it back on greener ways of making ethanol.”

The National Journal states: “The EPA cited market forces, specifically lower-than-expected growth of non-ethanol renewables and lower gasoline use than projected, in lowering the ethanol mandates.”

One of the problems with the 2007 targets is that they are based on an assumption of increased fuel usage and require ever increasing “volumes,” or gallons, of ethanol be produced rather than a percentage of ethanol being blended into gasoline. The combination of more fuel-efficient vehicles, the economic downturn, and an aging population has contributed to “lower gasoline use than projected.”

Last week, I was on the radio with Baron Lukas, President of Vital Strategies Management Consulting, a firm working in the oil-and-gas sector. He explained: “With the advent of the U.S. shale revolution, we have a lot more oil and gas than we thought possible just a couple of years ago.  This is a true paradigm shift in how we view our domestic energy situation. The impact is compounded by aging demographics for Japan, China, Russia, Europe, and for the short-term, the United States, which will reduce or at least dampen domestic and global fuel requirements—older people simply drive less and represent lower industrial needs. Lastly, continuing technological advances are increasing fuel efficiency for a broad spectrum of applications, further placing downward pressure on hydrocarbon fuel demands. The bottom-line is a new reality of impending U.S. energy independence, continuing lower crude oil and natural gas prices, and far less dependence on OPEC for us and potentially for our allies.”

While EPA’s newly released renewable-fuel volumes don’t meet the law’s target of 22.25 billion gallons for 2016, they do increase year after year—with the 2016 target being an increase over current use. Addressing EPA’s new numbers, USNewsreports: “The update calls for a 27 percent increase in what the EPA calls ‘advanced biofuels’ from 2014 through 2016, a catch-all category that includes cellulosic ethanol made from corn stalks, husks and other leftovers from a harvest, plus fuel converted from sugar cane, soybean oil, and waste oils and greases, such as from fast-food restaurants. Combined with conventional corn ethanol, the proposed volumes overall rise 9 percent.”

Associated Press reporting adds: “The EPA said the standards set by the law cannot be achieved, due partly to limitations on the amount of renewable fuels other than ethanol that can be produced. Next-generation biofuels, made from agricultural waste such as wood chips and corncobs, have not taken off as quickly as Congress required and the administration expected. Also, there has been less gasoline use than predicted.”

Increasing targets may encourage the renewable fuels industry. They are, however, unrealistic and, as the June 18 hearing revealed, are expected to be “reset.”

In pressing McCabe on the RFS and the consistently missed deadlines, Lankford asked: “How does RFS get back on schedule? Or, has Congress put a requirement on EPA that it can’t fulfill?” McCabe promised they were working on it and offered some vague explanations. He then asked: “I assume you would agree there’s no chance we will hit the target for 2017 based on the statute required for 2017, so we’ll have to reset it…unless there is a tremendous amount of cellulosic ethanol that comes on board.” Lankford continued, discussing the way the law was written to decrease corn ethanol use and increase cellulosic fuel, which he pointed out isn’t “possible based on production.” McCabe agreed that the cellulosic number would need to be decreased by at least 50 percent.

Later in the hearing, Lankford called cellulosic fuels “great in theory,” but acknowledged that “No one has been able to make it in a quantity that is affordable yet.” He alluded to the fact that the cellulosic industry has struggled—with the largest manufacturer of cellulosic product going bankrupt. He said: “No one can seem to crack the code to be able to make this in a way that’s actually affordable.”

Others support Lankford’s view. On the June 10 NPR broadcast, Rob Mitchell, a researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture who studies how to make switchgrass grow for cellulosic ethanol, acknowledged: “We’re not producing any ethanol from switchgrass at this point on a large scale.”

Tim Snyder, agriculture economist with Agri-Energy Solutions, Inc., a Lubbock, Texas-based agriculture- and energy-consulting group, explains: “Because cellulosic ethanol is made from the ‘non-food’ portions of plants, this type of ethanol has gained widespread grassroots interest. Lignocellulosic fibers are found in plant materials like stalks, leaves and stems. These cellulosic fibers contain long chain sugars that are tied together by lignin. Only the sugars are needed to produce ethanol.  Lignin is necessary to keep these chains of sugar bonded together. However, lignin renders the sugars unusable, and so it has to be extracted. Once the lignin is stripped away, yeast is added to convert the remaining cellulosic fibers or unbound sugars into ethanol. This description is extremely simplified, but should help to understand that adding steps to the production process that corn-based ethanol does not employ, adds to its overall production cost. Stripping lignin adds significant costs to the production process; even more than corn-based ethanol.”

Additionally, Snyder continues: “From the standpoint of land use, it takes significantly more land to produce ethanol from cellulosic materials than it does from corn. Additionally, it will take totally new transportation, initial processing and storage infrastructures that currently do not exist on a commercial scale.”

Clearly, to reference Lankford, the RFS is a program, required by Congress in 2005/2007, that can’t be fulfilled. No wonder it has so many who see the EPA’s failures as proof that 2015 is the year for RFS reform. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee says: The mandate is in need of significant reform and oversight.”

Maybe, just, maybe, 2015 will be the year it happens.

(Author’s note: Please tune into America’s Voice for Energy, Thursday at 11:00AM ET to hear more from Baron Lukas discussing changing global demographics and the impact on energy demand and Tim Snyder on the economics of cellulosic ethanol and the impact on the ranching community.)

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jeff Stier: FDA v Trans Fats

June 22, 2015, 9:43 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Kenneth Artz, managing editor of Health Care News speaks with Jeff Stier. Stier s a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington D.C. where he heads its Risk Analysis Division. Stier joins Artz to discuss the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s defacto ban on trans fats.

The FDA’s defacto ban requires food companies remove the ingredient from their products, such as frostings, microwave popcorn, packaged pies, frozen pizzas, margarine, and coffee creamers, within the next three years. Stier also discusses the origin of trans fats and the their health effects.

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

Categories: On the Blog

U.N. ‘Climate Change’ Talks in Paris Later This Year Will Not Settle Controversy

June 22, 2015, 8:59 AM

A report in The San Francisco Examiner over the weekend notes that the upcoming climate change talks in Paris this fall, sponsored by the U.N., are unlikely to lead to an agreement among the developed and developing nations on a treaty to halt “global warming.”

In a piece entitled, California helps lead U.N. mission on climate change, the writer, John Diaz, indicates that though states like California have for years advocated for strict emissions standards, the idea is simply not salable in many other political environments.

The report notes that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has made climate change his “top priority” since taking command of the agency nearly a decade ago.

“The Paris confab is sometimes cited as the last best chance to reach the U.N. goal of keeping global temperatures within 2 degrees of preindustrial levels without draconian steps. Time is not on the side of the planet, which already is experiencing the effects of rising temperatures in losses of sea ice, shrinking glaciers, sea-level rise and catastrophic weather events,” writes Diaz.

But, he adds, there is “no expectation” that the Paris talks are going to miraculously solve climate change. It would be “ignorant,” Diaz notes, to think that it would be easy to change the energy model of the entire world.

Thus, despite the hype from environmental scholars like Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and George Clooney, as well as the Pope,

Despite the hype from celebrities like Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and George Clooney, as well as the Pope, climate change is not going to be “settled” as a policy issue this fall.

climate change is not going to be “settled” as a policy issue this fall.

 

For more information, go to: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/diaz/article/California-helps-lead-UN-mission-on-climate-change-6338527.php

Categories: On the Blog

Student Who Opted Out of PARCC Tests Banned From School Party

June 22, 2015, 8:00 AM

The mother of an Oldmans Township elementary school student in New Jersey went public after her daughter had to sit in the library and watch the other children play outside, according to NJ.com:

During “Untest Afternoon” at one New Jersey elementary school, students played outside, ate cupcakes, drank juice boxes and received prizes, parent Michele Thornton said.

But not Thornton’s nine-year-old daughter.

Thornton says her daughter, a third-grader, was instead sent to the library on Monday because the Oldmans Township School party was only for students who took the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams.

Teachers, school boards, and parents are criticizing PARCC tests and refusing to take them. Even Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) attempted to replace the PARCC tests.

Why would a school punish a student for standing up for her right to refuse a test her parents deem unnecessary? The answer is simple: It’s all about money. If too many students opt out of the tests in a school or district, the state board of education can withhold money from that school district. This is done because the U.S. Department Of Education will in turn deny money to the state.

Common Core and its associated testing of PARCC and the lesser-known Smarter Balance highlights how the federal government has removed local control over education and imposes its standards on local schools. Local schools are being forced to comply with the federal government’s desires, and if that means punishing children and parents, they are willing to do so. Money and control have become paramount over the individual educational needs of children.

Categories: On the Blog